March 21, 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buckeye Cookies

The other day I needed to bake a chocolate and peanut butter treat for a friend. I whipped up a recipe of my favorite chocolate cookies and topped them with Ina's amazing peanut butter frosting. Then I spread on a little semisweet chocolate that I had melted together with a little butter. The end result was delicious and pretty too, in an imperfect way.

For me half the battle of good cooking is planning ahead. I often double my cookie recipe, scoop it all out with my trusty cookie scoop, and freeze half of the dough in a big baggie. Then I can grab and bake them whenever I need to without even messing up the kitchen (or sneak a bite of cookie dough out of the freezer during the witching hour when I'm trying to make dinner and keep wild babies happy and safe in between driving kids back and forth). There's not any dough in my freezer right now and that situation needs to be addressed.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buckeye Cookies
from Anne Strawberry

Yields 3 dozen standard size cookies

1 3/4 cups Flour (Be sure to level off- you don't want too much)
1 1/4 cups Cocoa powder (Half regular cocoa powder, half Hershey's Special Dark if available)
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Butter, softened
1 extra large Egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare baking sheets (Grease or line with silicone baking sheet or parchment paper).

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set dry ingredients aside.

Cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes in the KitchenAid). Add egg and beat well. Add vanilla and mix until well combined.

With the mixer on low, slowly add in the dry mixture, stirring until just incorporated. Scoop onto the prepared cookie sheet and squish slightly if flatter cookies are desired (I think the cookies look prettier if they are squished about half way down before baking).

Bake for about 8 or 9 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost with peanut butter frosting and then chocolate. Serve with milk and store in an airtight container.

Peanut Butter Frosting
inspired by the lovely Ina Garten (aka Barefoot Contessa) 

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar (as needed)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup heavy cream (as needed)

Cream the peanut butter and butter in a stand mixer. Mix in half the powdered sugar until smooth. Add vanilla and salt and mix until combined. Add in additional powdered sugar and cream as needed until desired consistency is reached. If it's difficult to spread the frosting on the cookies, thin it with a dash of cream.

Chocolate Topping

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli or Guittard- chopped chocolate bars are even better here)
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter

Melt together over a double boiler or in glass bowl in a microwave on low power (I usually use 30% power and stir ever 30 seconds or so). Pull off heat when about 90% melted and stir by hand until totally smooth. Spread a tablespoon or so over the frosting on each cookie. Let set on the counter or place in the fridge for a few minutes until chocolate is set. Enjoy!

March 15, 2016

Strawberry Pie for Pi Day

Happy Pi Day! Did you make or eat a pie to celebrate? Making a pie feels so therapeutic to me that I really appreciate the excuse. I love to roll out the crust, concoct a filling, and crimp the edges. The long baking time only adds to the anticipation. Yesterday my little blondies helped me make a pie in honor of Pi Day. I needed something the whole team could eat, and with the food allergies around here that means no dairy and no eggs (we have a few others to contend with but they aren't typical pie ingredients.) 

So fruit pie won out and a dairy free crust (no egg wash of course!) Strawberries are on sale around here this week so I turned to my Pie Pinterest board and took inspiration from this gorgeous Strawberry Balsamic Pie. I used my beautiful Emile Henry pie pan I scored at TJ Maxx for a traditionally shaped pie. I followed my mom's all shortening pie crust recipe so I didn't offend the non-dairy team, made an imperfect lattice crust (my kids LOVED weaving it) and brushed it with almond milk. I sprinkled sanding sugar on top and baked it. It came out juicy and fragrant with red color that can't be beat. 

Strawberries and balsamic vinegar make a delicious combo. I like the mix some sliced fresh strawberries with a shake of vinegar and some sugar to form a syrup- then I serve them with whipped cream (add a sprinkle of black pepper if you're adventurous). You can't pinpoint the vinegar flavor but it really enhances the strawberries. The same is true of this pie. I didn't use as much as the inspiration recipe called for because my bottle ran out, but it really enhanced the strawberries.

I usually prefer a fresh strawberry pie but this was a fun change and a good change to walk my kids through the whole pie making process. I don't want them to grow up afraid to experiment in the kitchen. I've certainly made my share of imperfect pies and desserts, but as Ina says, "flour, sugar, butter, how bad can that be?" Even messy pies are usually delicious- especially topped with a little vanilla ice cream. You can always use a crust from the store, too, and experiment with fillings. Pie making is a lot of fun and doesn't have to be stressful! Local friends- if you'd like to come over and make a pie and have a play date, let me know. I promise it's fun and the experiment is always delicious.

PS- I finally started a foodie instagram account as @anne.strawberry . I'd love to see you there! 

Pie making can be pretty messy with the flour and everything so I always double my recipe to make four single crusts, shape the dough into disks, wrap in saran wrap, then in a labeled baggie (I had a helper do this last time, they look so happy in her kindergarten hand!) and into the freezer it goes. The next time I want to make pie I move them into the fridge the night before or set them on the counter for a little while and all I have to worry about is the filling. Plus, a pie of ready to go pie crusts in my freezer makes me feel all put together, and doesn't take any more time. Dorie says one month in the freezer but I've kept mine, properly wrapped, for a few months with no problem. 

One last pie tip- Dorie suggests crushing up a graham cracker or two into the bottom of the crust before adding the filling to help absorb some of the extra liquid. Even with juicy strawberries my pie came out just right (and the graham crumbs totally disappear so you have no idea it was there!)

Strawberry Pie

1 double pie crust (easy dairy free crust here, or butter crust recipe below. Use whatever crust you prefer!)

3 pounds fresh strawberries, quartered
1 apple, grated (I used a gala, any kind should work)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Ultragel or 2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
dash of kosher salt

2 graham crackers

Preheat the oven to 425. 

Combine filling ingredients in a large bowl. Line pie pan with one crust. Crumble up graham crackers and sprinkle into the pie crust. Pour in and smooth filling. Top with additional crust (whole or lattice, whatever you prefer. Either way make sure there's holes to vent the pie). Crimp the edges as desired. Brush with a beaten egg or milk and decorate as desired- with additional pie crust shapes cut with cookie cutters, sprinkled with sugar or sanding sugar, etc.

Bake for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake for 45-60 more minutes. Watch the crust and add a foil tent if it starts to brown too much (usually about half way through). Let cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
3/8 cup very cold (frozen is even better) Crisco (plain, not butter flavored), cut into 4 pieces
About 1/2 cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don't overdo the mixing—what you're aiming for is to have pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley.

Pulsing the machine on and off, add 3 tablespoons of the water—add a little water and pulse once; add some more water and pulse again; and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. If you've got big pieces of butter, that's fine. The dough is ready and should be scraped out of the work bowl and on to a smooth work surface. (be careful not too add too much water- if the dough looks dry after adding most of the water, pinch it with your hands to check if it's coming together, and finish combining it by hand)

Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it. Refrigerate the dough at least 1 hour before rolling. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

November 20, 2015

Favorite Things List

Christmas is almost here! It's snuck up on me again this year because they weather stayed warm for so long. I wanted to make a list to share of things that we've loved at our house this year. I would love to hear your favorite things, too.



Whenever someone asks for toy suggestions, Magna-tiles come to mind first. They are fun and easy to use, quick to clean up, and don't have any small parts for babies to choke on. My kids have made structures taller than them! Ours are stored in two clear plastic shoe boxes and only take a minute to clean up, while still building enormous and varied structures. We have the clear colored sets (they also come in opaque colors). These are a toy investment but it's easy to add on more sets if you want to start small. These would also be a great idea for the grandparent's that aren't sure what to get. I've watched kids from ages 2-12 build these for whole afternoons at a time. My kids are hoping for the clear set this year (my daughter wants them to build Elsa's castle).

I love Legos as much as the next mom but the first time you accidentally step on a Magna-tile, you'll see one of the reasons I prefer them to Legos most of the time. These are available on Amazon and at Target. There are a lot of knock off brands but I haven't tried them. I will say we've used our Magna-tiles almost daily for a few years, on hard tile, with push toys and books and kids all over, and none have chipped or broken.

Nose Frida

It's actually not gross at all. After my baby had Pneumonia and RSV last winter, I buckled down and bought one. I wish I had had this with each of my babies! Easy to use, easy to clean, makes a big difference. It's so scary when baby is congested and sick and for me it always seems to happen in the middle of the night which makes it extra stressful. It's not as fun as a new outfit, but I'm sure the new mom in your life would get a lot of use out of this weird but useful thing.


Priddy Baby makes our favorite board books. The pictures are vibrant and clear. We keep the Treasure Hunt books in our car and every kid wants to look at them.


Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
I don't consider myself an artist but I love how Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic shows how creativity is within each of us. She encourages growth, learning, and living true to yourself- all mixed in with inspiring stories and beautiful words. Her podcast is a lot of fun, too.

Habitat by Lauren Liess
I got this for my mom's birthday and she actually squealed when she opened it. Lauren Liess has classy and distinctive style that is a pleasure to behold. I've only flipped through this book (because my mom is still hoarding it) but it's absolutely beautiful and inspiring.

Design Mom by Gabrielle Blair
I met Design Mom on her book tour and was blown away! I've read her blog for years but she was just so smart and authentic at her signing. Her book is lovely and features so many practical and beautiful suggestions for living with kids (her blog series is my favorite thing to read each week, too).

Secret Paris Coloring Book
I really hope Santa brings me this coloring book. The drawings are beautiful and varied (look at the reviews!) I love to sit and color or draw after the kids go to bed while we watch a show on Netflix (Psych lately, what are you watching?) Are you into coloring? My mom's been buying me geometric coloring books since I was in grade school and I love that it's getting to be such a thing now, with new beautiful books coming out every day.

I just got some Prismacolor Colored Pencils for myself and can't believe how smooth and nice they are. I love the color selection, the nice trays and tin, and the blendability. My kids know that these are "mommy's pencils" and use their crayolas. I used to think theirs were just fine but my eyes have been opened. So maybe you shouldn't buy these...


Stila Stay All Day Eyeliner

I felt so validated the other day when I saw that this is Sephora's top eyeliner. I've recommended it before and keep going back to it. The marker type applicator makes a good cat eye a breeze and works just as well for a subtle line with its tapered tip. It also comes in a lot of colors but I've only tried black (give me all the black eye makeup! And clothes! And furniture! It's a problem.)

The other product I am consistently asked about is my blush. I resisted trying this for years because I didn't think it could live up to the hype but it does. Strangers stop and ask me about my blush frequently.

CND Vinylux Nail Polish

I am inappropriately into nail polish. I've tried to give it up and not care but I love it. Doing my own nails takes most of the cost out of it so that's how I make my peace. I've tried a lot of things but recommend CND Vinylux to anyone. It's much easier than Shellac (I have this gel system and love it, but it takes a lot of time). Vinylux doesn't even need a base coat and the polish lasts a week on fingers- even with persistent dish washing that takes a toll on my hands.

You can also use the topcoat with any brand of polish. It keeps my girls' nail polish on so much longer than others I've tried, even among professional brands.

Hair- The Wet Brush & Biolage Shine Milk

My best friend does hair and got me hooked on both of these products. I keep recommending this brush because moms keep talking about hair brushing battles with their children. One of my darling blondies has sensory issues and cannot deal with having her hair brushed or washed. A few sprays of shine milk on the ends and she doesn't even  mind having her hair brushed when its wet. If you have a sensitive child, I can't recommend the Wet Brush enough.

I also use it for myself (I prefer the paddle brush) because it works well and feels good. I keep a mini brush in my bag and in the bathroom as well because it's just the right size for little hands and fosters independence. They come in a lot of fun prints and colors and are also available at Target.

Note about knock-offs: I bought a few small off brands at Sally and while they feel good, they haven't held up nearly as well as my Wet Brushes. The bristles bent over and the handles got gummy.

Biolage Shine Milk is a great, lightweight detangler. It smooths and tames fly aways and dry hair and does a great job refreshing my girls bed head. My friend recommends it for all hair types and uses it on all of her clients after washing their hair. I may or may not have five bottles of this stuff hoarded in my cabinet.

Wool Dryer Balls
This is a random one, I know. But- these cut my drying time by about 20% and broke my dryer bar habit! We haven't gotten into the driest time of winter yet so I'm not sure how they'll do for static then but as of now, we have no static, no chemicals, and less energy used. Plus, my baby thinks these are the best toy in the house and loves to play with them. Maybe Santa had better buy another set. I've heard you can make them, too, but I've been so happy with this reasonably priced set I found on ebay.

Twirl Dresses

I can't make a list of our year without including the Lularoe Dot Dot Smile Twirl dress- the ultimate twirling dress for little girls (click on this link for a 5 second video of the twirling). I mentioned sensory issues above-  this dress has single-handedly eliminated clothing battles with my daughter. She picks a dress, I pick a bow, she's dressed and darling. She wears Playground Pals shorts/bloomers under them so she even wears them to the park and PE. She also wears leggings underneath when it's cold and a cardigan or jacket on top when necessary (we live in Arizona so these are definitely suitable for about 11.5 months of the year here!)

We buy from Lularoe with Lauren but there are consultants all over the country, check out instagram and facebook. These dresses cost more than I normally spend on kids clothes but they are made in the USA and definitely support my new less is more, becoming minimalist policy. I could throw away 95% of the other stuff in their closets and they would never notice. They also broke my 2 year old's Princess Dresses Only Habit that got old after about five minutes. I do laundry so often that having just a few of these works fine- machine wash and hang to dry. Watch the rest of your kids clothes languish (is that good or bad?) I love the Cassie pencil skirts and happy patterned baseball tee's for myself.

This is a decidedly un-cooking list, but if you are looking for recommendations I have lots of posts for my favorite kitchen tools. What's on your list this year? I love reading people's recommendations!

*some affiliate links used. that means you pay the same price but a portion of the sale price comes back to me to help support this sorely neglected blog and my Trader Joe's habit.*

November 18, 2015

Delicious, Hold-Their-Shape Sugar Cookies (with Raspberry Dust)

You guys, can we still be friends if I only take photos with my phone? I hope so. Blogging time is short right now, but still have a lot of requests for recipes and love being able to access my favorites here, so quick posts it is. 

I have a tried and true sugar cookie recipe here but love trying new ones. This one from Nicole Gerulat did not disappoint. She's my favorite photographer and perfect taste. Check out her site and instagram feed sometime- so much inspiration! These buttery, chewy cookies have no chemical leaveners (baking soda or powder) so they hold their shape beautifully- perfect for complex cookie cutters.

The topping on these cookies isn't a sprinkle or glitter but raspberry dust! Trader Joe's Freeze Dried Raspberries, crushed and then sprinkled right on top. I love the pop of beautiful color and the tart taste perfectly compliments the buttery cookie and sweet frosting. Nicole uses a delicious strawberries and cream frosting. I made my basic favorite whipped cream cheese frosting and added a few teaspoons of frozen berries pushed through a sieve. The subtle pink color and berry flavor was lovely.

One last word on sugar cookies- with such simple flavors, quality ingredients make a world of difference. Spring for real butter, good vanilla (I love Costco's), etc. Your tasters will thank you! I also like to mix things add by adding in citrus zest to the dough or flavorings to the icing.

This cookie recipes works well for royal icing, as well. Let the cookie cool completely and frost as desired (you can see my method here. I am far from a pro but they come out cute enough for my kids- the Queen was so excited about these dresses that I had I hard time keeping her cute little two-year-old hands off them.) Check out this instagram feed if you want some really beautiful cookie inspiration! For now I settle for delicious and pretty, if not perfect!

{Friendly Frankenstein's for Baby Strawberry's school Halloween Party, imperfectly iced in the middle of the night to meet a tight deadline, no perfect cookies here!- with Wilton Candy Eyeballs. My kids LOVE these.}

Hold-Their-Shape Sugar Cookies
adapted from

2 1/4 Cups (4 1/2 sticks) Butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/4 Cups Sugar
3 Eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 cups flour
Preheat the oven to 325ºF. 

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until well-combined and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until combined. Mix in vanilla. Add salt then add flour a few cups at a time, mixing very gently and slowly until it's just barely combined. Overmixing will result in a tough cookie.

Divide dough into two batches. On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll out dough to 1/2” thick. Cut with a cookie cutter. Place cookies 2” apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking sheet (silpat). 

Bake at 325ºF for 10-13 minutes, depending on size of cookie, until thoroughly cooked, but not browned. Let cool completely then frost as desired. These cookies keep and freeze very well.

September 21, 2015

Black and White Chocolate Chippers

Black and White Chocolate Chippers... just like the mall but even better.

Another day, another cookie recipe, complete with quick instagram photo. I have nothing amazing to report except that everyone loves these. People ask for the recipe all the time so I figured it was time to repost it. The chocolate dough is absolutely delicious and very flexible. My brother in law always requests these with chocolate chips instead of white. I prefer white chocolate, Andes mint, or peanut butter chips in these. Reese's pieces or chopped up Reese's would be delicious too. Or mint M&M's. You can't go wrong here.

To get the beautiful black color, use at least half Hershey's extra dark chocolate cocoa powder if you can find it (they carry it at my grocery store and it has a red label). I'm all for kitchen short cuts but don't forget to sift, or at least stir together with a fork the whole dry team in a bowl so it's evenly distributed. The cocoa powder is always lumpy for me.

Black and White Chocolate Chippers
from Anne Strawberry

Yields 3 dozen standard size cookies

1 3/4 cups Flour (Be sure to level off- you don't want too much)
1 1/4 cups Cocoa powder (Half regular cocoa powder, half Hershey's Special Dark if available)
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Butter, softened
1 extra large Egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
2 cups white chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli or Guittard)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare baking sheets (Grease or line with silicone baking sheet or parchment paper).

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set dry ingredients aside.

Cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes in the KitchenAid). Add egg and beat well. Add vanilla and mix until well combined.

With the mixer on low, slowly add in the dry mixture, stirring until just incorporated. Fold in white chocolate chips. Scoop onto the prepared cookie sheet and squish slightly if flatter cookies are desired (I think the cookies look prettier if they are squished about half way down before baking).

Bake for about 8 or 9 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve with milk and store in an airtight container.