Brownie Graduation Hats

For Mr. Three’s pre-school graduation party last week, I made little graduation hats. (I can’t believe my baby is going to Kindergarten in the Fall!)
 (You may have seen this pic on already.)  I got the idea from Pinterest (of course), but most used a Reese Cup as the base.  Mine needed to be peanut free, since my son and another classmate are allergic.  So, I decided on brownies, baked in a mini muffin pan. (You could buy pre-made brownie bites making these a quick, no-bake treat!)
 I thought they turned out pretty cute for my first attempt, and the kids & parents alike enjoyed them. {Yes, I was *that* mom who brought in something cutesy off Pinterest. But hey, sometimes I’m that “crap! I forgot to buy something for the party, let me grab some Little Debbie snacks” mom too. It’s called balance. Can’t be on top of my game all the time. lol}
Since these were for preschoolers, the mini brownies made the perfect size snack!
Brownie Graduation Hats
1 box brownie mix, plus ingredients on box
1 package chocolate covered graham cookies
candy for ‘tassels’*
mini M and M candies
melted chocolate for ‘gluing’ everything together
  • Mix brownies according to directions on package (or try this egg free, lower fat version!).
  • Bake brownies in a mini muffin pan until done (they will not take as long to bake as directed on package since they are minis. Do I really need to point that out? probably not)
  • Once cool, carefully cut rounded tops off brownies so they will sit flat (if needed)
  • Flip brownies over, so the widest side is down.
  • Use some melted chocolate to attach a graham cookie to the now upside down brownie.
  • Use more melted chocolate to attach candy tassels to top of cookie, and the mini M candy on top of tassel.
*The candy that I used for the tassels was some rope candy I had never seen before (and don’t remember the name of). It is similar to the pull-apart Twizzlers in shape. The problem I had with this candy is that it was kind of hard and round, and it was a little difficult to get the round rope pieces to sit on top of the cookie, and they were a little too big. I ended up cutting each rope piece in half (vertically), and then cut them to the desired length.  My recommendation, and what I will do in the future, is use something that is flat…like a fruit roll up, or maybe a flattened Tootsie roll? And cut it into strips. I think that would be much easier to work with.
Other tips: You could use cookie icing to “glue” your pieces together, b/c it hardens pretty quickly and comes in a handy little squeezable pouch. The only color I had on hand was red…so I ended up using melted chocolate. You don’t need that much…I might have used 1/4 cup?
I may be linking up at any of these places – 

(Monday) , , , , , , , , , ,  (Tuesday) , , , ,,, , ,  (Wednesday) , , , , , , , Cherished Handmade Treasures,   (Thursday)  ,, , , ,  (Friday) ,  , , , , ,, , , ,, , , , , (Saturday) ,  ,  (Sunday) 

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Chocolate Chip Cheesecake with Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust

Boy, that was a long title, and a lot of chocolate chip talk, but if you have a chocolate lover in your life, then you might want to see how easy it is to make this cheesecake.  Since, you know, we have that holiday this week.  The one all about chocolate and hearts and luuuvvv stuff.  Excuse me while I barf in my mouth a little.  Sorry, my cynical nature is shining through.  I love LOVE, and chocolate.  I just don’t do mushy. Moving on…

It’s a rare occasion to find my husband in the kitchen cooking something, but when one of his children asks for something, they usually get it.  So, when my daughter asked for a chocolate cookie crusted cheesecake that he has made one time before, for her birthday, he made her one.
He is of the mentality, go big or go home, so this was no wimpy cheesecake.
I mean, just look at that crust!  A chocolate lover’s dream.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake with Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust

for crust:
1 tube refrigerated cookie dough (like )
for cheesecake:
3 pkg. (8 oz) 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese, softened
 3/4 cup sugar*
 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
 3/4 tsp. vanilla
 3 eggs
 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
*This cheesecake can be sugar free by using a sugar substitute, like Splenda and leaving out the chocolate chips. And using a different crust of course! We make it this way often.
  • Preheat oven to 300 F.
  • Take raw cookie dough and cover the bottom and halfway up the sides of a springform pan.  Mash down firmly.  (Cover the outside bottom of pan with aluminum foil to catch drips.)
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and eggs until well blended.
  • Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Pour cream cheese mixture over cookie dough.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until center appears almost set (it will be just a little jiggly in the center).
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing from pan.
Yep, this was a happy girl. She had two over-the-top birthday cakes! (Check out her Chocolate Candy Cake for her birthday party if you missed it. It is also a chocolate lover’s fantasy!)
This would make someone pretty happy on V-day, don’t cha think?!
I am linking this recipe up at (Monday) , , , ,, , , , , , , (Tuesday) , , , ,  , , , (Wednesday) , , , , , ,  (Thursday), ,  , , (Friday) ,  , , , , ,, , , ,   (Saturday) ,  ,  ,  , (Sunday)   
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Top 12 Recipes of 2012

I can’t believe we are looking at the END of 2012.  Hellooo?!  I still feel like 2012 is some future year that sci-fi movies talk about, and here we are getting ready to enter 2013.  So weird.  Of course, I still feel like 1990 was about 10 years ago.  Yep, I’m getting old.  Ughhh.

Anywho (see, only old people say that)….these are my top posts from 2012 (based on number of pageviews).  I think all food and craft bloggers are saying “Thank You Pinterest!”

Bubble Up Pizza – definitely one of my kids’ favorites this year

Easy Caramel Sticky Buns – yum

Lightened Up Butter Pecan Popcorn 

Pizza Monkey Bread

Skinny Brownies (this 2 ingredient method works well, but I prefer the brownie mix + yogurt)

Chocolate Pudding Dump Cake

Speedy Sausage Muffins – love these!

2 ingredient Apple Angel Food Cake

Boston Cream Poke Cake

German Chocolate Cake Bars

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti

‘Egg McMuffin’ Casserole

It’s been a tasty year!  A big thank you to all of you who have read, commented, pinned, and shared this blogging journey with me!  It has been so much more rewarding than I ever imagined, and I look forward to sharing more kitchen adventures with you in 2013!  Any of you have big New Year’s plans?  Do tell, so I can live vicariously 😉

Belated Birthday Post (I’m 40!!!)

With the hassles and disasters of moving and pup’s emergency surgery, which all happened either ON or immediately following my 40th birthday, the pics from that day and subsequently this post got pushed to the back burner. But HELLO, I’m FORTY!!!!! How the hell did that happen?  Seriously, how has 40 years gone by already? Especially the last 20….it’s like a freakin’ blurrrr.  And add kids to the mix, and somehow time speeds up that much more.  *sigh*

Too all you young’uns out there, just remember, time is precious. And fleeting. Tomorrow is guaranteed to no one, so I am thankful for my 40 years, however quickly they have passed.

On that note…you better go make this cake today, b/c it is something you do not want to miss out on. Provided you like chocolate. If you don’t like chocolate, uhmmm, you may be at the wrong blog.

For my 40th, my dear mommy had a cook out for me, and my dear made me this . I don’t know how she knew I would love such a thing (other than she knows I am a chocolate freak, and I with the caption ‘I want this for my birthday’. Because I’m subtle like that.)

Me, being a big fatty, with my awesome cake (and awesome daughter, Number One)
The cake is made with cake mix, brownie mix (family size), TWO cans of frosting, and chocolate chips. wowza!
For the complete recipe and great step-by-step assembly pics, go !
Not only did my sister make me a super, duper, chocolate brownie cake, she also gave me something every food blogger covets….

A light box! Or more accurately…a !  I am so excited! I can’t wait to start using it, especially since it is already getting darker much earlier and has been impossible to get natural light at dinner the last couple of nights.  I will be setting this up ASAP! I’ve just been trying to clear out enough boxes…and I am finally getting there!  Yes, everyone needs an awesome sister like mine.  She also gives me shoes…you will have to read to understand why that is such a wonderful thing.

To work off all that cake, my parents gave me a kayak (since we now live on the sound)…

But they didn’t want me to lose too much weight, so they also gave me….
an ice cream maker!!! Yay!
(Sorry for the blurry pic, one of my kids was in charge of the camera)
My brother gave me a super cute casserole dish and candle from the . And when I say my brother, I mean my brother’s girlfriend, thanks M.! My brother always gives me liquor when left to his on devices…which I am SO not complaining. I mean really….hauling kids to the liquor store? I don’t think so.  (However, you never know, desperate times call for desperate measures. lol)
So – that’s the OH MY LORDY, I’M FORTY wrap up.  It was a great bday, and quite the milestone. I don’t feel like I should be 40, I mean, I still listen to Metallica & AC/DC for goodness sake.  Aren’t old people supposed to listen to….uhmmm….well, I have no idea.  My own mom has a more awesome (& current) CD collection than I do.
Of course, I’m feeling the eye strain from staring at the computer. 
Damn, I am getting old.

Boston Cream Poke Cake & a Celebration!

I am thrilled to say that yesterday marked the 2 year anniversary of my Dad’s life-saving stem cell transplant!  You can read more about it HERE.  We celebrated by getting the family together and having a cook-out, and one of my Dad’s favorite desserts….

He loves anything Boston Cream…so I decided to make a version of this from Lil’ Luna.  I changed it up just a little by adding a homemade chocolate icing to the top.

Boston Cream Poke Cake (with homemade Hershey’s icing)

*yellow cake mix (I used the Duncan Hines Butter recipe yellow cake mix)
*ingredients called for on cake box (eggs/butter/water)
*large box of instant vanilla pudding (I used sugar free, fat free)
*amount of milk called for on pudding box (mine was 3 cups; I used skim milk)
for icing– (from my MIL)
*1 cup sugar
*1/3 cup cocoa (I used Hershey’s Dark)
*1/4 cup milk
*1/4 cup butter
*1 teaspoon vanilla
To make cake – mix up cake batter according to directions on box.  Bake as directed in a 13×9 pan.  While cake is cooling, mix up vanilla pudding according to package directions.  Poke holes in your cake with the end of a wooden spoon (see notes). Pour and smooth vanilla pudding over surface of cake.
To make icing – Mix sugar, cocoa and milk in a pot, bring to a boil over medium heat – stirring the entire time WITH A WOODEN SPOON.  Boil for one minute (still stirring!)  Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.  Mix until it just starts to thicken – don’t let it thicken too much or it is very difficult to spread over cake.  Pour over pudding layer of cake. Icing will ‘set’ on cake.
Love the pretty layers
Now…notes!  Don’t poke your holes too deep into your cake.  I had never made a poke cake before, so I just stabbed my spoon into my cake with no regards to depth.  Also, I let my cake sit overnight which also made a difference – but most of my pudding and half of my icing soaked into my cake!  I think no more than half way into the cake would be plenty deep.  I also think the cake would be better eaten the day it is made, if you want to keep the nice layers.  Otherwise, you have a very moist cake with some chocolate on top…which is fine, but not what I was going for.  That being said, my mom said the cake tasted just like a Boston Cream doughnut.  Believe it or not, I don’t like Boston Cream doughnuts, or Chocolate Eclairs (I know, I’m weird like that), but I do like the cake versions!
If you do not want to mess with the homemade icing – the original version called for chocolate pudding over the vanilla pudding layer.  You could also heat up canned icing and pour over the top.  Of course, you could also make this cake using a homemade cake recipe, homemade pudding, with a chocolate ganache on top.  Holla.  Please send me some if you do that.
Also, check out for information regarding becoming a stem cell/bone marrow donor.
 I’m linking up this recipe with  , , , , , , , , (2/13/13) – Ingredient Spotlight: Chocolate