Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies





These cookies just scream, "CHRISTMAS!! EAT ME!! CHRISTMAS!! NOMNOMNOM!!"

Right? Riiiiiight??

I mean, chocolate... peppermint... cookies... It doesn't get much Christmasier than that. (Yes, I totally made up the word, "Christmasier.")

This time of year I'm a complete sucker for all things chocolate and peppermint flavored:

Chocolate peppermint hot cocoa
Chocolate peppermint candy
Chocolate peppermint cupcakes
Chocolate peppermint fudge
Chocolate peppermint-covered nuts
Chocolate fudge-covered peppermint ice-cream
Chocolate peppermint chicken

(Just checking you're paying attention...)

And THESE:

Chocolate peppermint crunch cookies.

My kids (especially my little 5-year old daughter) absolutely devour these cookies. In fact, the only trouble I have with this tasty treat is making it last longer than a couple days.

The cookies combine a significant amount of cocoa with smooth and crunchy peppermint baking chips (thank you Andes for being so stinking brilliant!) making a rich, delicious, and refreshing dessert!

If you're in need of an easy homemade treat for your Christmas goody plates, look no further: These cookies are easy-peasy, and the recipe makes a ton! Your friends, family, and neighbors will thank you.


Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies
Printable Version


INGREDIENTS
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1(10 oz.) pkg. peppermint crunch baking chips


DIRECTIONS
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter. Add the sugars and cream with the butter. Mix in the eggs until completely incorporated. Pour the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda into the bowl. Mix all together until the consistency is even. Add the peppermint chips. Stir to combine.

Drop by tablespoon onto an engrossed baking sheet. Bake for 8-9 minutes. Do not over-bake! These should be soft and chewy when completely cooled, and not crunchy.

Store in an airtight container.





Tuesday, December 16, 2014

10-Minute Playdough {Quick Easy Kid Gift - $0.17 each}



 $1.36 per recipe          $0.17 each          81% savings


No matter how many times I squish my fingers into playdough, it never seems to lose its magic. My kids (and most other children) just love this stuff!

This play-time staple from my childhood is still extremely popular among our little friends... Okay, and maybe some not-so-grown-up adults like me. But seriously, how can anyone resist sinking their fingers into the soft, moldable stuff and rolling out a snake or two?

It's really easy to pop into the store and pick up canisters of the stuff.

It's almost as easy, a lot cheaper, and WAY more fun to make your own with ingredients you already have on hand... especially when you let your kids help.

We made a batch recently, and I'm not kidding when I say that my kids have been playing with it for HOURS on end for DAYS.

Double-win!

I realize that there are a million other playdough recipes out there, and it's likely that mine resembles some of the others.

But let me be upfront about something:

THIS PLAYDOUGH IS "EDIBLE," BUT  IS NOT MADE OF PEANUT BUTTER AND SUGAR... OR IN ANY WAY TASTY TO KIDS!!!

I've seen several recipes for "edible" playdough, that kids can eat.

I try to keep an open mind... but WHY? I understand that parents are concerned about kids eating something toxic, but seriously... You can make super disgusting playdough that is completely safe and uses much less expensive ingredients than peanut butter and powdered sugar.

I don't want my kids to eat the playdough.

I want them to play with it.

Is that so wrong?

But if my 1-year old happens to pick up a crumb that fell off the counter, and sticks it in his mouth, he's going to be just fine. In fact, he'll probably spit it out cause it's so gross.

All that said... to each their own.

This homemade playdough makes a great gift for kids. You might give it for:

Christmas gifts to friends
Birthday parties/favors
Valentine's Day
Children's church groups
Stocking stuffers
Halloween
and many other occasions...

Ready to roll up your sleeves for some serious fun? Here's how we do it:


 Add boiling water and oil to a pot or mixing bowl with the dry ingredients already sifted together, and stir till a rough ball is formed.



 Dump your ball of dough on a clean surface to cool a little.



 Once you can handle the dough without sustaining 3rd degree burns, knead the dough until smooth. That's it! You're done! Unless you want colors... Then...



 Roll the ball into a long "snake."



 Cut into 8 (or desired number) sections.



 Get your food coloring out...



 Stick your finger down into the ball of dough. Add 3 drops of color.



 Pinch the opening closed.



 Knead until the color is evenly distributed. 


Voila!!! Perfect playdough. Time to play!


If you made it through all those photos... thanks for taking the time! If not, not big deal. The recipe for my family's playdough is below. I really hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

10-Minute Playdough
Printable Version

*Makes 8 Play-doh canister-sized balls.


INGREDIENTS
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 Tbsp. cream of tartar
2 cups boiling water
2 Tbsp. oil


DIRECTIONS
In a large mixing bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients.

Add two cups of water to a microwave-safe container. Microwave to 2 minutes on high (or until it comes to a rapid boil).

Pour the boiling water and oil over the dry ingredients. Stir to combine. Dough will be lumpy. Allow to cool till it's not so hot you can't knead it with you hands. When the dough is still quite warm, knead it until smooth.

*OPTIONAL:

*If you want to color the playdough, or divide it into 8 individual balls, roll it into a long rope on a clean surface. Use a butter knife, or pizza cutter to cut the dough into desired sizes.

** To color the 8 sections of play dough, press your finger into the middle of each ball. Drop 3 drops of food coloring in the hole. Use your hands to knead the dough until the coloring is even throughout.



Cost Breakdown:
2 1/4 cup flour = $0.18
1/2 cup salt = $0.07
1/2 Tbsp. cream of tartar = $0.38
2 Tbsp. oil = $0.05
24 drops food coloring = $0.68

Total = $1.36

Cost per individual ball = $0.17

Play-doh canister (single) = $0.88


Savings = 81%







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