Snowball Cookies

Alright, I’m making a public announcement here, just for the record… I have never made these cookies before. Granted, there’s a few things I’ve never made before that are put up here, but if it’s super delicious I just say ‘hey, this worked out!’

So I made these cookies, and the ‘batter’ came out like.. sand, really. You know when you make a pie crust and they say to cut in the butter until the dough makes little pebbles? Well this made.. pebbles, but really tiny pebbles. I’m not sure if that’s ‘normal’, but I went with it! And, honestly, even if it’s not ‘normal’, I thought these were perfectly tasty. Could they have been ‘better’? Maybe! But I’ve never eaten a snowball cookie, so I don’t know what it’s supposed to be like, so I can only say from this one experience that I thought they were tasty! I have seen pictures where people use a cookie scoop to scoop them up and.. yeah, that would have just been a pile of ‘cookie dirt’ on the sheet. How I POSSIBLY messed these up, I don’t know as I was very precise in the way that I measured the flour because this recipe actually came with a warning on how they’d be dry if you didn’t measure the flour with the spoon method. Yup.. I used a spoon to measure the flour. None the less, I do recommend, if not for these cookies but other cookies, a scoop which is super handy.

OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop

Hey, this is a big step considering I’m an ‘eyeballing’ type person who guesstimates how much of something goes in a recipe, so I know I followed it! But, for the sake of sparing you some ‘sandy’ dry ‘batter’, I’m going to make a slight change to the flour which, in my opinion, can’t hurt. I’ll make these again and give you an update on how that changes the texture of the cookies.

ANYWAY…. let’s get down to the cookies.


1 C butter softened
1 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 C flour
1 1/3 C chopped pecans
Extra powdered sugar for dusting cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Since I have a convection oven and wanted to put more than one sheet in at a time, I put it on convection bake at 325.


Creamed butter, sugar and vanilla

Cream your butter and powdered sugar together until well mixed. Once that’s done, just add in the vanilla until it’s well incorporated and each of those cookies gets a little taste of that delicious vanilla flavor.

Now we’re going to add the flour, mixing gently so we don’t overwork the dough. Just make sure you get all your butter and flour mixed together. I am told that it’s important to not scoop the flour from its source into your measuring cup because this compacts the flour and then you have a dry cookie, so if you’re worried about that, just spoon the flour into your measuring cup to measure it out.


Ninja’d Pecans

Once that’s done, we’re going to stir in our chopped pecans. I had pecan halves and since this is supposed, from what I understand, be like a pecan sandy cookie in a ball form, I just tossed my halves into the Ninja Professional Blender with Nutri Ninja Cups (BL660) and gave them a few bursts. This made some ‘pecan dust’, which might…MIGHT have affected the dough a little, as well as some pecan pieces. Honestly, I think having the dust in the cookie was a good move because you can really taste the pecan flavor!


Dough before pecans are mixed in.

Now that it’s all been brought together, you should have a crumbly dough. Mine was SANDY, not crumbly, which as I’ve mentioned, was probably a little on the dry side for this cookie, but worry not, I already cut back the flour a tad in your ingredients list. I gave you a close up of my pecans and my dough after the flour had been added so you can see the texture of what mine came out to be like.


Cookie Dough

Now we’re going to roll these into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Mine didn’t roll, so I pressed them, which made them.. bumpy with fingerprints and not all pretty and professional smooth like a ‘snowball. But hey… no one will question if they’re homemade!


Cookies on the Sheet

Place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Don’t worry, they won’t spread out, so just put a little space between them and cram that cookie sheet up! Since I didn’t know if they’d spread, I spaced mine out, but I found out during the second batch that I wasted a lot of cookie baking space.

Now I baked mine on 325 (convection oven) for 12 minutes. This was until they were basically set up and had a very small touch of brown on the bottoms and on some of my finger indentation ridges I left behind which marked these cookies as HOMEMADE. They don’t get brown unless you overcook them (yes.. I overcooked about 4), so don’t wait for these babies to brown up completely or they’re going to be a bit..overly crunchy. Regular oven at 350, the recipe calls for 15 minutes. I don’t know if that’s just going to cremate them so just be diligent and watch them from the 10 minute mark on, just in case!


First dusting on the left, second dusting on the right

Once done, place the cookies on cooling racks. Once they’re WARM and not oven hot, we’re going to take them, one at a time, and put them in the bowl with the extra powdered sugar, coating them. I put some foil beneath my cooling rack so I’d not have powdered sugar everywhere. And, once the cookies are cooled completely, we’ll dust them one last time. We dust them when they’re warm because the sugar will melt into the buttery cookie a little to give it some sticky surface for the second dusting, just in case you were wondering.

After their second dusting, you simply grab some nice cold milk or a hot cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy!

Overall, I found these to be perfectly tasty made the way I made them, but if you are a snowball connoisseur then I’m sure you’ll have some criticizing for my (MAYBE DRY) cookies, but hopefully the flour adjustment I’ve made will have these delicious little pecan cookies tasting glorious!


Snowball Cookies

White Chocolate Peppermint Cake Mix Cookies

I’m sure most of you have heard of ‘cake mix cookies’ and that by adding simply ‘one or two more ingredients’, you can have delicious cookies.

I’m not really the type that takes the ‘easy’ road when it comes to baking something that I want to bake, so finding an ‘inexpensive’ way to make cookies wasn’t really on my roster. I am, however, previously known to be a cake mix hoarder. Why? Well, I make cakes for friends and so I’d always have cake mix on hand. I think at one point, I had 14 boxes of cake mix that were not destined to become a cake, but when I was at the store I was like “Ooo, I don’t think I have any cake mix.” Yeah… that’s me! Cake Mix Hoarder!

So, I had 3 boxes of cake mix, two red velvet and one vanilla and thus I decided to try this ‘cake mix cookie’ thing that people just rave over. I did the crackle cookies which is where you mix the cake mix with the eggs and just some melted butter, roll it into balls and dip it into a powdered sugar/cornstarch mix and bake. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t gross, they just weren’t COOKIES! They were more like little, rounded cake bites.

Sorry guys who like cake mix cookies… my socks were not blown off by the cake mix cookie revelation.

What I decided to do was experiment and try to get it to make ACTUAL cookies without having to add 500 more ingredients and so I came up with something that I think worked GREAT! I mean.. I’ve had five cookies since yesterday, when I made them, and that’s saying a lot, considering the size of them. I thought they were super delicious, so I’m going to share with you the recipe I came up with. Be forewarned, however, that this is VANILLA cake mix. Know that any time you make something with powdered chocolate (aka–chocolate cake mix), that it’s going to be more dry, so I would stick with non chocolate cake mix for this specific recipe, but don’t worry! I’m going to come up with a chocolate one for you. I’m actually thinking of ‘chocolate peppermint’ or even a ‘german chocolate’. Now, Stephanie can’t eat coconut but I love it. Love, love, love it, so I can’t exactly just not bake with it!

Anyhow, let’s get on with the cookies so you can revel in their deliciousness, especially if you like peppermint. Not to mention, they’re good for the holidays since peppermint is like the Christmas flavor.


1 box Duncan Hines Signature French Vanilla Cake Mix

3 large eggs

1 stick butter, softened

1/2 C packed brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon Watkins Extract Peppermint

1 bag Ghirardelli Premium Baking Chips, Classic White Chocolate, 11 oz

3 peppermint candy canes

Preheat your oven to 350 for a regular electric oven with the heating element on it, or 325 for gas or convection. I have a convection oven and if I don’t knock off 25 degrees of the cooking temp and go with the longer, slower way of baking, things tend to burn.


Butter and Brown Sugar

First things first…as with 99% of cookie/baking recipes, we’re going to cream together the softened butter and the brown sugar until it’s nice and fluffy. Once that is done, add the eggs, one at a time and mix until well incorporated.


Adding in the Eggs

Now I poured in the cake mix and began mixing. It’s going to be kind of dry and you’re going to think ‘Oh my gosh, there’s not enough moisture’ for a minute or two but there is. Don’t freak out, just keep mixing until you get all that dry cake mix blended in and its a sticky, semi-loose dough. Kinda like really thick icing is how I would describe the texture.


Butter, Eggs and Sugar

I was going to tint my cookies red because I wanted it to match the candy cane crumble and when I went for the red food coloring, (pause for funny story), I remembered at one point my OLDEST kid decided he needed red food coloring for some costume blood apparently, because I had found the container out in the garage after his ‘fake massacre photo shoot’ he did for fun with his friends around Halloween last year. (Yes… I use food coloring that long!) Sooooooo… I decided to make it a pale blue because that says ‘snowflake’ and ‘snow’ to me.

Add the food coloring of your choice or leave the cookies white, which now that I think about it, would have matched the red and WHITE candy canes! Oh well! Then mix until all your dough is the desired color. You can even semi-mix it and have ‘streaked’ cookies which would be just fine!


Cake Mix Batter

Add the peppermint extract. I use pure extracts. Extracts that are imitation have a yucky flavor but if you’re not bothered by that weird, somewhat metallic tang, use what you have on hand. This is a fair reminder to you all… any time you use a strong flavored extract such as almond or peppermint, it’s best to start off very small and work your way up to the desired flavor. Don’t just go dumping that stuff in because it can quickly overpower what you’re cooking! I started off with literally two drops of peppermint. I wanted these cookies to be minty, but I didn’t want it to burn my mouth and upset my whole digestive system with its cool, crisp, minty flavor. Eventually, I added about 1/8 tsp of mint until it was to MY liking. This doesn’t mean you can’t add more if you want. Plus this gives you the chance to eat some dough. I know there’s this big thing where everyone is like O.M.G, you can’t eat raw eggs anymore! You’ll get a worm or a disease!


Tossing in the White Chocolate Chips

I’m like, hey look… I’ve been eating raw eggs since I was a kid and.. I’m still going to taste my stuff. It’s important when you buy  your eggs, that they’re kept at 43 F in the grocery store and as well at home. Does this mean your eggs are safe? No not really, but the cold does help prevent the growth of Salmonella. In fact, 1/3 of egg producers do not vaccinate their hens for Salmonella because the law doesn’t require chickens to be vaccinated while in other countries, like Britain, law requires ALL hens to have their vaccinations before they begin producing eggs for public consumption. So, while I’m not telling you that its ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY SAFE by any standards, I’m telling you that I’m a risk taker and I’m gonna taste my batter and hope I don’t get sick later! The choice, inevitably, is yours!


White Chocolate Chips Folded In

Once you’ve got your dough all colored and pepperminted up, it’s time to simply fold in the white chocolate chips. I like to continue to fold them in until I’m sure there’s enough in the batter that every cookie gets some of them.

After this, I place the dough on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. This time I used my new ‘cookie scoop’ and it kinda scooped BIG cookies because I couldn’t really scrape off excess dough due to its sticky, chocolate chip filled body. This is the reason I had larger cookies, and cookies that reached out to hug their neighbors. If you’re more precise that I was, all you need to do is give them about 2 inches of space between them, their neighboring cookies and the walls of your baking sheets for them to have space to grow.


Cookie Dough on Parchment Paper

I got 12 cookies per sheet. I have large baking sheets.

If you’re baking them on 325 due to having a gas or convection stove, bake them for 10-11 minutes. If you’re baking them on 350 for an electric stove, check them around 8 minutes. The edges should be browning slightly for them to be done.

While your cookies are baking, take your candy canes and unwrap them and break them into pieces. No, you don’t have to break them into pieces to be cookie toppers by hand, but I did discover that, while the straight shaft of the candy cane was easily broken under my bashing rolling pin, the crook part, because you’re practically hitting two parts of it at once, had a tendency (before I put them in a ziploc bag and beat them on the counter top), to shoot across the kitchen before shattering into uneven pieces. Place your broken candy canes in a ziploc bag and beat them until you get little bits. I got some dust too because I was overzealous in the abuse of my candy canes, but the cookies that had the most ‘bits’ on them were SO delicious so I encourage bits over dust.


Candy Cane Fodder

Once your cookies come out of the oven with their slightly browned edges, sprinkle them with the candy cane bits so that the bits will melt and stick to the cookies. I still had some fall off which, much to my 11 year old’s delight, meant he got to pick them off the cookie sheets later.

Let the cookies cool before you try to take them off the pan. They’ll be crunchy on the edge and nice and moist in the middle once cooled. But if you try to take them off the sheet before that, the middle is probably going to fall out of it.

As you can see, my blue, I guess because of the ‘white’ or ‘off white’ of the vanilla cake, came out looking more green. Stephanie actually asked me if they were pistachio (even though they had candy canes on top) and I was like ‘NO! They’re the white chocolate peppermint we have been DISCUSSING!’ Hah! None the less, these cookies, in my opinion, I thought were pretty amazing! I hope you enjoy them for your holiday gatherings!

Dinner Roll French Toast Bake

So, as you guys know, I showed you my favorite dinner roll recipe for Thanksgiving. While some of you might have made them, some might have just bought them at the store, frozen or not, and used them for Thanksgiving. Well, I had a whole gallon bag of them left over, and they come out big, so they were some rolls to be reckoned with! But, all my hard work of prepping those rolls with lots of tender loving care, I didn’t want them to go to waste, so I decided to make a french toast bake out of them.

Before we get started, let me tell you from personal experience before I decided to do this blog… not all French Toast Bake is created equal. I’m not certain what you guys look for in french toast, but I like mine soft, custardy and french toast like. I do not, I repeat, do not like DRY french toast. What’s the point of that?? Might as well just throw some bread in the toaster, pour syrup on it and call it good. So if you like your french toast dry and flavorless, this recipe isn’t for you!

The recipe I provided is for a 9 x 13 baking dish. If you want just an 8 x 8 serving, simply half the recipe. I used dinner rolls, but you can use any bread that is dense and thick crusted such as french bread or brioche. The reason for this is, if you use regular ole bread, it’s going to get squishy and fall apart.


8 cups baked yeast dinner rolls, cubed (or bread of choice)

2 1/2 C whole milk

1/2 C heavy cream

8 large eggs

1/2 C white sugar

1/2 C packed brown sugar

2 tbsp Watkins All Natural Pure Vanilla Extract 1oz

1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon

1/2 tbsp nutmeg

4 tbsp butter, melted


First Cuts on Top

Begin by preheating your oven to 350. I then got out my cake pan and just put the 4 tbsp of butter (not melted) in the cake pan. I find that melting butter in my microwave, even 5 seconds at a time, ends up in butter explosion so I put it in the pan and then put the pan in the oven to let it melt. Same way I do it when I’m going to cook cornbread because.. mmm hot butter before you pour in the corn bread makes for a nice, buttery crunchy bottom on your cornbread. But, if you do melt your butter in  your baking dish, don’t put it into the oven until your bread has started soaking.


Cut Down Side

I took my dinner rolls and cut them a certain way just because of how they were shaped, but the end result is cubes. So I cut it three times long wise right down the middle, then I flipped it on its side and cut it once down the center. Then I simply cut it up into cubes since we have effectively cut the roll into ‘breadsticks’. If you’re using smaller dinner rolls, don’t worry about cutting three times here and one time there. Just cut them until you have bread cubes the size of a game dice.

Once the bread is cubed, I put it in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl I combined ALL the rest of the ingredients. First I add the milk and cream, and then the eggs, and whisked it all together until it was well combined. I used 9 eggs because I couldn’t see leaving that one lonely egg in the carton by itself and things worked out just fine. I figured three eggs per cup of moisture (cream and milk base), is about right anyway for a good custard. I then added in my white sugar and brown sugar and vanilla extract and mixed it in as well. Finally, in went the cinnamon and nutmeg and, guess what, another whisk until the spices aren’t just floating on top. We don’t want some bread pieces with spices and others bland.


Custard Mixed Up

Pour the custard over the bread cubes and fold it in until all those little cubes are completely coated. There’s going to be free standing custard of course. Now, this is where most people get that DRY french toast… they don’t let it soak up any custard, so you get bread bites, or slices, depending on how you do your bread, with bits of cooked custard between the pieces and ew… that’s not appealing! I let mine sit for about ten minutes. Not all the custard is going to be sopped up by the bread and that’s what we want, bread that is nice and soft with custard with some liquid left over to fill in the gaps when we cook it.


Bread Cubes Soaking

If you didn’t melt your butter in  your dish like I did, simply pour your melted butter in the bottom of your baking dish and now you’re going to pour your custard in. Go slow so you don’t slap hot butter over the side and burn yourself. Also, we don’t want to waste the butter either by having that splashing action because.. it’s butter…delish! If you DID melt your butter in your baking dish, make sure you take your dish out of the oven when the butter is melted and slightly browned. Don’t let it sit in the oven while your custard is soaking into the bread. 10 minutes MIGHT be too long depending on the type of oven you have and then you are left with butter crunchies and no melted butter.


Butter Ready to be Melted in the Oven

Smooth your bread cubes/custard mix gently into the baking dish until evenly spread. Now place it in the oven, uncovered, and bake it for about 45 minutes. Your french toast bake should be set up, not watery, and the melted butter will be bubbling around the edges of the dish

Soimg_1156.jpgme people like to, as I put it, over complicate their french toast bake by putting some type of sugary crumble on top of it, but I prefer to let my maple syrup do the talking rather than having a sugar overload and making this a ‘dessert for breakfast’ type of thing. This french toast bake was not overly sweat at all and, after I sliced it and put it on the plate, was nice and slightly bouncy from the custard and crunchy on top which was amazing. I simply drizzled my maple syrup over the top and served it up with some maple sausage.


Finished Casserole