White and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

White chocolate or dark chocolate?  Now, that is a question.  Make everyone on your holiday list happy with this yummy White and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.

White and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Cookie swaps are so much fun!  I was really excited to be invited to join my first ever “virtual” cookie swap hosted by Julie Espy from White Lights on Wednesday.  One of the best parts about blogging is being able to meet so many fun people that share my same interests.  Julie is one of those fun people.  She is an Arizona blogger and is hosting her 3rd Annual Christmas Cookie Swap.  So, when she put out the invitation to join her, I jumped at it!

For the swap, Julie paired us up with other bloggers and we traded recipes instead of actual cookies.  I love that!  I was also excited to learn that I had been paired with Krayl Funch from An Appealing Plan.  

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Merry Christmouse Cookies—Easy Christmas Cookie Recipe

These adorable Christmouse Cookies will completely steal the show at every holiday party or cookie swap this year. Pssst… no one has to know that they are one of our easy Christmas cookie recipe.
Christmas Mouse Cookies Recipe


Don’t you love these cute little cookies?  I love baking around the holidays.  Especially cookies.  I love baking all of my family’s favorite cookies and putting them all on a giant tray at the same time.  You know, all at once, together in one place.  Little things make me happy, what can I say?

Most of my boy’s favorite cookies are big, hearty, rustic type cookies like peanut butter and oatmeal raisin and massive chocolate chip cookies with lots of nuts.  Delicious but, not that cute and certainly not pretty little dainty things.  So, I always try to put a surprise cookie on the plate, a cute cut out cookie or one with fancy frosting ( I even made a pink cookie once… once).  Most cute little cookies are just for fun and to make people smile.  But, these cute little cookies are actually good!  They are made out of a firm sugar cookie dough that is shaped like little mice and the ears, eyes and tails are put on after baking while the cookies are still hot.

We were invited to share easy Christmas cookie recipes with several of our fellow bloggers …

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Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes with Toasted Meringue

Yes!  You can make these cupcakes today!  Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes with Toasted Meringue are a delicious treat and no one has to know you made them at the last minute.

Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes with Toasted Meringue


They don’t call me the Queen of Last Minute for nothing.  These cute little cupcakes are made with a cake mix as the starter then, you add pumpkin puree and spices to turn it into a moist, cinnamon-y dessert.  The toasted meringue on top takes the place of frosting and is actually lighter in calories and fat but, who has to know that?

I shared this recipe with a blogging buddy of mine last month.  Candi Elm featured them on her blog, A Day in Candiland  for a cute Halloween treat but, I don’t see why these easy pumpkin cupcakes can’t be served on Thanksgiving or any other seasonal event.  I actually bake with pumpkin all year ’round and the toasted meringue adds a flavor that tastes like s’mores so, why not bake them in the summertime?

Head on over to A Day in Candiland to get the recipe and while we are talking about cupcakes, don’t forget about my Fall Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting Pumpkins (also perfect for Thanksgiving) that I shared on Summer Scraps.

After you get the recipes, come back and enter our fun Snowflake Snack Giveaway.  We have more treats than the Sugar Plum Fairy!  Just use the Rafflecopter at the end of this post to enter.

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Mini Chocolate Cakes with Cherries on the Bottom

Enjoy these rich little chocolate cherry cakes while they are still warm from the oven.  They are just the right size to share… or not share, you decide

Mini Chocolate Cakes with Cherries on the Bottom Recipe

I love plated desserts with their molded mousses and spun sugar, their perfectly placed puddles of fancy fruit sauces… but, not on Valentine’s Day.  To me, Valentine’s Day calls for warm, homey desserts that are, well, chocolate.  Rich chocolate.  Stick to your spoon kind of chocolate.

Luckily, my husband thinks so too.  I’m not really sure if it would matter if he didn’t like chocolate, I do make the desserts around here.  Still, you do want the hubs to feel important on the big day so, I always add cherries to our chocolate cake just for him.  Chocolate and cherries are his favorite.

In fact, this time of year you will find that I put chocolate and cherries in just about everything.  We have Valentine’s Day, birthdays and a great big, whopping anniversary coming up at this time of year.

Unfortunately, you don’t usually find fresh cherries so, I use the extra jars of my Sweet Cherry Sauce that I make every year.  You can also use frozen cherries or even a pre-made cherry pie filling works just fine for this recipe….

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Hot Cross Buns Recipe with Orange Marmalade Butter

Don’t you just love the smell of fresh bread warm from the oven?

Me too.  Especially those little Easter buns with currents and old fashioned spices and sticky butter on top.  I don’t remember eating Hot Cross Buns when I was a little girl but, for some reason, the warm spicy flavor and yeasty aroma seem to call to me every springtime.  Dare I say that they are in my DNA?

The rich history and colorful traditions of the little buns are a definite bonus when Easter rolls around and I’m trying to decide what to bake for brunch.  But, until recently, I had no idea that Hot Cross Buns had anything to do with me.  After spending many years of insomnia filled nights pecking around on the computer and tracing my family roots, I have found a distant grandfather directly tied to Hot Cross Buns.  I know!  It’s great!  A foodie like me with bread in my history… who would have guessed?

Authentic Hot Cross Buns

Apparently, the dangerous little buns became especially popular in Northern England during the Tudor era.  Fearing the symbolism of the cross cut into the bun and defiance to his laws, the buns were declared illegal by Henry VIII.  Later, they were made legal by his daughter Mary and illegal again (except Easter and Christmas) by Elizabeth I.  Well… so was Granddad!  Granddad was declared a fugitive for teaching Catholicism by Henry VIII.  After finding himself on both sides of the law (just like the little buns) King James declared Granddad an outlaw and beheaded him right there on the public square.  On the steps of the   York Cathedral to be exact … the hot bed of the War of the Roses, Catholic uprisings and dangerous little buns.

Now, how’s that for a foodie family history minute?  I’ve obviously never met Granddad (Bl. Thomas Welbourne) and I don’t consider myself English but… I sure do love those Hot Cross Buns.  I’ve made loads of them the last few Easters and stuck them in the freezer for later—for anytime I need a warm,  homey feeling treat.

Authentic Hot Cross Buns

It’s Good Friday today.   That means there is plenty of time to make Hot Cross Buns this weekend.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to be Catholic (I’m not) and you don’t even have to celebrate Easter (I do) to love these little treats….

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Pumpkin Pie with Dulce de Leche Recipe

Give your pumpkin pie recipe a Southwest touch with dulce de leche. The Latin-style milk caramel adds a rich, smooth, depth of flavor to everyone’s favorite pie.
Salted Dulce de Leche Pumpkin Pie Recipe
They say opposites attract. That is certainly true when it comes to pie. Pumpkin pie is my favorite holiday dessert.   In fact, I wait all year for pumpkin pie and no, I can’t make it any other month of the year. Anticipation is half of the flavor.

For some odd reason, I am never hungry for dessert on Thanksgiving. Strange, you would think that cooking and shopping for days, mashing bushels of potatoes, racing to get everything on the table and hot at the same time might make a person hungry. But, not me.

I prefer to have my dessert a day or two later. Then, when I see the first Christmas lights in the neighborhood, I go on a dessert making marathon for the entire month of December that would put an Olympian under the table. Holiday cookies, pastries and pies… lots of pies… pumpkin pies.

My husband, on the other hand, loves cream pies; any kind of cream pie.

He is not amused with the many variations of pumpkin pie that seem to magically appear and then multiply while he is at work (I must admit an impish grin appears as I watch him eat his piece of pumpkin pie and try to find a way to compliment it. No greater words of love have been ever spoken).

So, how have we survived so long together? Two people… separated by pie? I guess it’s the stuff that romance is made of.

One thing my husband does love is dulce de leche—the sweet, creamy Mexican carmel sauce made from reducing condensed milk. Every year, to “get in the mood” of the holidays, I dress up a few of my pumpkin pies with dulce de leche and we have one of those,

“Hey! You got pumpkin pie on my dulce de leche!” moments.

And then, for just an instant, he thinks he likes pumpkin pie.

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Mini Banana Cream Pie Recipe and How to Make Pastry Cream

Mini Banana Cream Pie for your Thanksgiving Fruit Pie Recipe
I think they should change the name of Thanksgiving Day to “Thankgoodness Day.”  Thank Goodness… for Pie Day!!  What other day of the year allows you to throw out the diet and eat any pie you want?  eat lots of pies?  at the same time?  I can’t think of one.

One day a year, all kinds of families travel all over America to just sit together and eat pie. When it comes down to it, there really are only two kinds of families—families that like cream pies and families that don’t.

My husband’s family likes cream pies.

Thanksgivings at his family home were full of every kind of pie you could think of, every kind of pie, that is, except the kind of pie I like… fruit pie.  Yep, I’m from the “other” kind of family.  My sons seem to have inherited the fruit pie gene as well.  So, out of necessity, I decided to make this Mini Banana Cream Pie Recipe a regular at our Thanksgiving dinner.

Banana cream pies are usually a little tricky.  The whip cream and custard can separate if traveling long distances and I just hate cutting into a beautiful banana cream pie and seeing bananas that have blackened already.

This recipe for Mini Banana Cream Pie solves all those problems.  I make small, individual sized pie shells and keep the pastry cream and the whipped cream separate until ready to eat.  That way, you don’t have to cut the bananas until the last minute.  GENIUS!  Even if I do say so myself.

I got the idea from a restaurant that serves little banana cream pies for two.  The little pies got me thinking… if you can assemble a pie at the last minute… why can’t you travel with the separate components and assemble them anywhere?

Now, I can keep both kinds of families happy.

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Pumpkin Spice Cranberry Scone Recipe with Homemade Butter

Pumpkin Spice Cranberry Scone Recipe with Homemade Butter
There it is! The first Jack-o-Lantern on the neighbor’s step; a sure sign the holidays are coming and that means only one thing around here… Baking! And plenty of it. I don’t usually bake much at home. I’m always watching my carb count and, well, cookies and cake make the numbers light up like a pinball machine. My family is not very good about helping me eat the goodies, either. They prefer chips and salsa (I can’t imagine why). So, that usually means I eat waaay too many myself or throw the surplus out thus, activating the guilt gene that was installed during my childhood. You know, the “starving children in China—no way to mail the cookies—how do I get them there?” That guilt gene.

Holiday time is another story. I can bake and bake and have no worries about leftovers. No, I don’t eat them… all. I give them to neighbors and friends that have been so nice and have shared loaves of homemade bread and veggies from their garden with me through out the year.
Inside view of Pumpkin Spice Cranberry Scone Recipe with Homemade Butter
You might be asking yourself, “What on earth do you bake in the Southwest?”

Pumpkin and apples and Mexican cinnamon. Chocolate and coffee and vanilla that we drive to Nogales to buy…

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