Chocolate Chip Cookie Stacks + Blogiversary

Chocolate Chip Cookie Stacks + Blogiversary ~ Pearls + Girls

Well, it’s official.  I have actually been blogging for one whole year!  Woohoo!  It’s time to celebrate! :D

But before I make a wish, blow out the candles, dig into these cookie stacks and fall into a sugar induced coma, I need to reflect a bit on the past weeks and months leading up to this very momentous occasion.

When I started blogging I had zero expectations.  I wanted to share my baking creations with my family and friends.  Period.  I was THRILLED when I reached 100 likes on Facebook.  Until I realized that other people who started blogging around the same time as me already had THOUSANDS of likes on Facebook.  In that moment I kind of felt like a failure. Hey, it happens.

Now I actually DO have a couple thousand Facebook fans, but it took a lot of work to get there.  Setting up photo props and snapping hundreds of photos, timing my photo shoots with the sun rising and setting, writing up blog posts and recipes long after my kids and husband hit the sack, THEN sharing it all on social media with fingers crossed that someone will actually be inspired enough to click on the link and visit Pearls + Girls.  In other words, WAY more work than I initially thought!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Stacks + Blogiversary ~ Pearls + Girls

I considered quitting several times.  Actually more than several times.  If it weren’t for the constant support and admiration of my husband, I probably would have quit.  But I didn’t.  I stuck with it.  I’m proud of myself for sticking with it.  The extra pounds around my waistline, yeah, not so proud of those. ;)

Year Two Blogging Goal #1:  Thou shall blog three times a week without gaining any weight.

I don’t know why I thought it was going to be easy.  My first year of teaching:  NOT EASY!  My first year of marriage:  NOT EASY!  My first year of parenting:  Definitely NOT EASY! As a blogging rookie with A LOT to learn, I had to pace myself.  Give myself some grace.  Do some research on how to gain an audience.  Understand that not all blogs peak at the same time.  Believe in myself and my food philosophy.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Stacks ~ Pearls + Girls

Over the past year, I have acquired an amazingly eclectic ensemble of foodie friends from all over the world!  These are people who are just as passionate about food as I am, and they literally save me from the monotony of stay-at-home-motherhood every. single. day.  So whether you are a food blogger, wanna-be-foodie, or just a loyal family member or friend, I want to thank you for sticking with me through my first year of blogging.  It’s been a joy to share my stories, photos and recipes with you! :)

Wait, you didn’t think I was going to pour my heart out and then leave you empty handed, did you?  Rarely do I celebrate without a dessert in one hand (or two for that matter)!  Since I’m a nostalgic, sentimental fool, I decided to do a twist on one of the first recipes I ever shared on my blog, my Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Sure, the recipe is from the back of the Ghirardelli chocolate chip bag, but I bet they didn’t think to layer it with cookie dough frosting!!!  Enjoy! :)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Stacks

Yield: approx. 8-10 cookie stacks

Ingredients

    Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 oz. bag miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Cookie Dough Frosting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP milk or cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl, set aside.
  3. Cream butter with sugar and brown sugar in a mixing bowl on a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed until incorporated.
  5. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture.
  6. Sitr in chocolate chips.
  7. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased or Silpat lined cookie sheets.
  8. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Cookie Dough Frosting
  10. Cream the butter and brown sugar together in a mixing bowl on a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  11. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix on low speed for a few seconds to combine slightly.
  12. Add 2 tablespoons of milk or cream.
  13. Beat frosting on medium high speed for two minutes.
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Classic Pumpkin Loaf

 

Classic Pumpkin Loaf ~ Pearls + Girls

Is September too early to share pumpkin recipes?  I figure once the leaves start to fall and the stores are decked out in Halloween AND Christmas decor then it should be perfectly acceptable, right?!?!  I tend to bake with canned pumpkin year round, slipping it into breads and pancakes occasionally.  Straight up pumpkin loaf is really a staple for breakfast and snack time at our house.  That said, it feels somewhat strange to bake bread in a pumpkin shaped pan in March. ;)

Classic Pumpkin Loaf ~ Pearls + Girls

Since this classic pumpkin loaf is an ‘every day’ baked good, I tried to up the nutritional value a bit.  I swapped out the sugar for maple syrup and added some ground flaxseeds.  It’s pretty much standard procedure at our house to use a combination of all-purpose flour and white whole wheat flour.  If you are looking to make the switch to whole wheat flour, I highly recommend King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour.  The addition will make your baked goods slightly more dense, but won’t affect the texture much.  Enjoy! :)

Classic Pumpkin Loaf

Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (I use the King Arthur brand)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP ground flaxseeds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup PURE maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together both flours, flaxseeds, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together maple syrup, melted butter, eggs, pumpkin puree and vanilla.
  4. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until just incorporated. Batter will be quite thick.
  5. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and spoon batter evenly into the pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times (to get out the air bubbles).
  6. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then run a butter knife around the edges and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
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Easy Apple Crisp


Easy Apple Crisp ~ Pearls + Girls

Last weekend my family went to the orchard and brought home a whooping 20 pounds of apples!!!  I’m a self confessed chocoholic, but even I cannot resist a freshly picked apple.  Since all 20 pounds won’t fit in the handy dandy fruit crisper in our refrigerator, I was FORCED to bake with them right away.  Such a shame, isn’t it? ;)  If  you really want to impress someone with your apple pie making skills, you absolutely must make these hand pies.  Not gonna lie, it’s a bit time consuming to make the recipe from scratch, but totally worth the extra effort to make your own crust.  IF baking a pie from scratch is not exactly your thing, don’t fear!!!  You can get all the wonderful flavors of apple pie in a super simple apple crisp!  It’s a cinch to prepare, no special baking equipment required, and it just happens to be delicious!!!  Enjoy! :)

Apple Basket ~ Pearls + Girls

 

Easy Apple Crisp

Serving Size: 8 - 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 large apples, sliced (I used Jonagolds and Cortlands)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (cold and sliced into tablespoons)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl toss together apples and pumpkin pie spice.
  3. Add apples and water to an 8 inch square baking dish.
  4. In the same bowl combine the flour, sugar and salt.
  5. Using your hands, crumble the butter into the flour mixture until combined. When you close your fist around a handful of dough it should stick together.
  6. Top the apples evenly with the crumbled dough.
  7. Bake for 35 - 45 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.
  8. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.
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Adapted slightly from Penny Lynd’s Apple Crisp

 

 

 

 

 

Spoonful of Foodies Cookbook

Spoonful of Foodies Fall Cookbook

Spoonful of Foodies just published our second e-cookbook!  154 pages of delicious fall inspired recipes from our favorite food bloggers! Appetizers, drinks, soups, main dishes, desserts, Halloween goodies, seriously, this cookbook has it ALL!

Trisha from The Lazy Mom’s Cooking Blog worked so hard to create this fantastic collection of recipes, she is an e-cookbook superstar!!

Guess what?!?!  You can get a FREE copy by downloading it HERE.  Don’t forget to share it with your friends!!

Enjoy! :)

 

Apple Cider Glazed Donut Holes

Apple Cider Glazed Donut Holes ~ Pearls + Girls

Sunny skies, breezes blowing, baskets swaying, apples gingerly plucked from the tree one by one…….spending a day at the apple orchard is a family tradition I look forward to each and every year!  We have been picking apples at the same local fruit farm for a few years now.  It’s not exactly an undiscovered treasure, but waiting in that long line of cars helps us appreciate the experience even more.  At least, that’s what I tell my kids. ;)  We hang back for a few weekends to let the ‘crazies’ get first pick of the apples.  Seriously, it’s like Black Friday when the apple crop is ripe for the pickin’, people come from miles around and spend hundreds of dollars on pound after pound of these beauties.  I know Honey Crisp and Pixie Crunch are supposed to be the crème de la crème of apples, but we’re not big fans.  We go for the tart apples, and of course, the jugs of freshly pressed apple cider.  Which happens to go really, really, really well with a few…..DONUTS! :)

Apple Orchard ~ Pearls + Girls

Naturally I decided to combine two of my favorite fall indulgences into one sweet treat!  A simple sour cream batter spiked with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and drizzled with a cider infused glaze, it’s a two bite delight that speaks to the autumn lover in me!  Get ready for a few more apple recipes on the blog in the coming weeks, ladies and gents….we just picked 20 lbs. of apples, and I’m not afraid to bake with ‘em!!!

P.S.  I kinda sorta have a reputation for burning things when I fry.  Hey, we can’t all be perfect.  That said, if I can fry donut holes without burning them, you can, too!  Word to the wise….don’t walk away from the stove.  DON’T DO IT.  Enjoy! :)

Apple Cider Glazed Donut Holes

Yield: about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 2 eggs
  • Canola oil or shortening, for frying
  • Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 TBSP apple cider

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl whisk together flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together sour cream, sugar, milk, apple cider and eggs.
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and fold together with a spatula. The batter will be quite thick.
  4. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
  5. Heat oil or shortening (at least 2 inches) in a Dutch oven over medium high heat until it reaches 350 – 375 degrees Fahrenheit. I clipped a candy thermometer on the side of the pot so I could constantly monitor the temperature. You may need to adjust the stove top dial higher/lower during the frying process to maintain this temperature.
  6. Frying Tip: Allowing your oil temperature to fall below 350 degrees Fahrenheit will give you soggy donuts. Boo. Allowing your oil temperature to rise above 375 degrees Fahrenheit will give you ‘burnt on the outside, raw on the inside’ donuts. Double boo. Don’t ask how I know this…..
  7. Using a tablespoon, drop the batter into the oil (I did six at a time). Flip the donuts after one minute and continue frying until golden brown. 2 minutes, 30 seconds was the magic number for me.
  8. Drain on paper towels.
  9. Whisk together the powdered sugar and apple cider and drizzle over the warm donuts.
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Crock Pot Jambalaya

Crock Pot Jambalaya ~ Pearls + Girls

You’d think because I’m a busy mom that must mean I use my crock pot all the time.  Actually, I don’t.  Maybe if I had a really pretty crock pot (mine is white with vegetable pictures on it) I’d use it more. ;)  I prefer to cook in my beautiful, red, shiny Dutch oven.  I started making this jambalaya recipe in my beautiful, red, shiny Dutch oven after I ditched the boxed jambalaya mix from the grocery store.  Not only does this recipe allow me to have complete control over the ingredients, BUT it was super simple to adapt as a crock pot recipe!  The veggies, spices, chicken and chorizo cook all day, then you just add the rice and shrimp about 45 minutes before you want to serve dinner.  Enjoy! :)

Crock Pot Jambalaya

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp Old Bay Seafood Seasoning
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (only add 1/2 tsp if you don't like it too spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 link chorizo sausage, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 2 TBSP flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add all the ingredients to the crock pot except for the shrimp, rice and parsley.
  2. Cook on low for 5 - 6 hours.
  3. Stir in the rice and shrimp.
  4. Increase temperature to high and cook for an additional 45 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. (optional)
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Plum Custard Tart

Plum Custard Tart ~ Pearls + Girls

After a long, hot summer in the Midwest, it’s finally starting to feel like autumn in my neck of the woods.  The cooler days and even cooler nights have inspired me to hunker down in my kitchen making some comfort food.  Before everything in Blogland turns to apples and pumpkins, I wanted to share one more recipe reminiscent of summer.  I found the most adorable little pluots (plum crossed with an apricot) at my local market, and decided to whip up a quick tart.  A flaky crust filled with vanilla and cinnamon scented custard and topped with ripe, juicy fruit?  Yes, please!!!  Hold off on the apple crisp and the pumpkin pie for just a tad bit longer and make THIS tart to wish summer a fond farewell.  Enjoy! :)

Plum Custard Tart

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients

  • Homemade or store bought pie crust
  • Custard Filling
  • 3 TBSP cornstarch
  • 1 TBSP vanilla
  • 2 TBSP hot water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 2% milk)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • Topping
  • 6 pluots or 4 plums, thinly sliced
  • 1 TBSP sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bake your pie crust according to recipe or package instructions in a 9-inch tart pan.
  2. Allow to cool to room temperature while you make the filling.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, vanilla and hot water until combined. Set aside.
  4. In a saucepan over medium heat, scald the cream, milk and sugar. Add the cornstarch mixture and whisk constantly until the custard thickens, about 2 - 4 minutes.
  5. Transfer custard to a bowl and press a layer of plastic wrap on top of the custard to keep it from forming a skin as it cools.
  6. Refrigerate custard for 30 minutes.
  7. Pour custard into the tart shell and use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread evenly.
  8. Top with the sliced plums and sprinkle with sugar (optional).
  9. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
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Chunky Monkey Muffins

Chunky Monkey Muffins ~ Pearls + Girls

I have to admit, I feel pretty lucky to have two little girls that don’t fight me (much) on fruits and veggies.  Sometimes I try to sneak them into muffins, pancakes, and homemade bread, but often times serving broccoli florets (aka ‘dinosaur trees’), green beans (aka ‘silly swords’) and mango slices (aka ‘sunshine sticks’) don’t prompt much of a food battle.  I discovered that giving a goofy name to a new food makes it just a teensy bit more likely they will actually EAT it! :)  Nicknaming foods with silly monikers may be one of the nutritional tricks this mama has up her sleeve, but to be honest, convincing my kids to eat Chunky Monkey Muffins with bits of chocolate peeking out of a golden batter didn’t take much any convincing at all!  They are naturally sweetened with bananas and maple syrup, but also packed with whole grains, fiber, omega 3s and of course, dark chocolate.  Now you can feel better about serving your kids (and your spouse) a yummy breakfast without sacrificing flavor OR fun!  Enjoy! :)

Chunky Monkey Muffins

Yield: 12 regular sized muffins or 8 jumbo muffins

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (I use the King Arthur brand)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup PURE maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 overripe bananas)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chunks (I use 62% dark chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a muffin tin with muffin wrappers. You could also use paper baking cups, which are oven safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Whisk together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl and a wooden spoon or spatula, combine the maple syrup, melted butter, mashed bananas, eggs and vanilla. Mix for a few seconds to combine.
  5. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix until combined.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chunks and chopped pecans with a spatula.
  7. Pour batter into muffin cups, filling each about halfway full.
  8. Bake for 20 - 22 minutes for regular sized muffins, 28 - 30 minutes for jumbo muffins or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
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Pearls + Girls Fan Favorites

Hi, all!  I hope your weekend is off to a great start!  I must admit, I’m stressing a bit.  I’m not complaining (ok, maybe I am just a teensy bit), but as a person who doesn’t thrive on change, these last few weeks have hit me like a ton of bricks.  Nothing a few drinks, some yoga and a marathon of Downton Abbey episodes won’t cure though (at least, that’s what I keep telling myself). :)  So to tide you over until I get back to my blogging + baking self, here’s a round up of my most popular recipes on FacebookPinterest and Twitter over the past (almost) year!  I love to hear from my followers, so if you’ve made any of these recipes (or plan to in the near future) I’d love to hear about it!  Enjoy! :)

Caramel Glazed Coconut Carrot Cake ~ Pearls + Girls

This cake was shared over 100x with over 10,000 views on Facebook! :)

I’m not a huge coconut fan, but in THIS cake, it really hit all the right notes.

Add some cream cheese frosting and gooey caramel sauce…..seriously,

how can you go wrong with that?!?!  Get the recipe here

S'more Cookiewiches ~ Pearls + Girls

 These delightful treats can be shared around a campfire….or not!

Bake the cookies and let everyone roast their own marshmallows

or use marshmallow fluff, it’s up to you!  Get the recipe here

Pecan Coffee Cake ~ made with whole wheat flour and flaxseeds ~ Pearls + Girls

At our house, a special weekend breakfast or brunch is not complete without coffee cake!

This version is made with whole grains and flaxseeds, so even though it’s still a naughty treat,

I feel a little less guilty having a second slice!  Get the recipe here

My Favorite Fudgy Brownies ~ Pearls + Girls

These fudgy brownies are hands down my family’s favorite treat.

This made from scratch recipe has a hint of espresso powder to bring out the chocolate flavor.

Get the recipe here

Lazy Lemon Pie ~ Pearls + Girls

If you are a lemon fan, this is the treat for you!  The title isn’t deceiving,

any lazy baker could whip this pie together in a jiffy.

Who says quick can’t be delicious, too?!?!

Get the recipe here

Bacon Cheddar Scallion Drop Biscuits ~ Pearls + Girls

I love biscuits, but the rolling and cutting process at breakfast is a bit time consuming

when I’ve got a hungry crowd to feed ASAP.  These drop biscuits are made in the food processor,

no rolling or cutting required!  Get the recipe here

Buckeye Cheesecake ~ Pearls + Girls

 I may be a slight chocoholic, but my peanut butter obsession runs a close second!

This dessert fulfills both indulgences!  Cheesecake takes awhile to bake,

but it’s worth the time for a dessert that looks as impressive as THIS!  Get the recipe here

Mini PB IceBox Pies ~ Pearls + Girls

Peanut Butter?  Did you say peanut butter?  Yep, and this one is a no bake recipe,

perfect for entertaining family and friends.

After all, who doesn’t like to eat their own individual pie?  Get the recipe here

Almond Toffee Chocolate Chunk Cookies ~ Pearls + Girls

I am not a gluten free convert, but I have done some exploring with gluten free baking.

These cookies have a fabulous crunch.  Not to mention chocolate and toffee….yeah,

I wish I had a couple to munch on right now!  Get the recipe here

Blueberry Pistachio Muffisn {Gluten Free} ~ Pearls + Girls

Coconut flour is a relatively new baking ingredient for me,

but it was definitely a winner in this muffin recipe!

The flavors and colors would make these a stunner on your brunch buffet!

Get the recipe here

100 Days of Real Food Cookbook Giveaway

Did you enter the giveaway to win a copy of Lisa Leake’s new cookbook, 100 Days of Real Food?  What are you waiting for?!?! :D  I just posted my review yesterday!  If you want to adope a REAL FOOD lifestyle and kick those processed foods to the curb for good, this cookbook is a must read!  100 family friendly recipes that are healthy, colorful AND delicious to boot!!!

Frozen Yogurt Pops ~ Pearls + Girls

Since we’re in the middle of a major heat wave, I decided to make Lisa’s Frozen Yogurt Pops yesterday.  Oh, boy, were my kiddos excited! :)  Not only do they LOVE to help in the kitchen, but they just happen to love popsicles!  I mean, what kid doesn’t?!?!  My girls took turns measuring out the ingredients, and we used a funnel so they could easily pour the mixture into the molds.  The berries give the popsicles a lovely purple hue (my oldest daughter’s favorite color) so it didn’t take much any coaxing to get my picky eater to try one. ;)

Frozen Yogurt Pops ~ Pearls + Girls

 

Go check out Lisa’s blog for even more inspiration, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway by September 4th!  Happy Cooking! :D