Monday, July 30, 2012

Catalina Island

A couple of weekends ago, we took a fabulous trip to Catalina Island. This was my first time, and I'm looking forward to going back again. I think what I liked most about it was the calm, relaxed atmosphere. It was easy to walk around, and there weren't a ton of people. Plus it's beautiful! During the day I was there, I tried three cookies. Here's the scoop!

Courtyard Coffee- I had a fantastic oatmeal chocolate chip cookie that reminded me a lot of this cookie I make. The cookie was full of oats and had lots of chocolate chips. It was almost like a big soft granola bar. $1.65 is not bad for this large, filling cookie. This was my favorite of the day.

Dessert Island- I was going back and forth about buying a cookie here ($2.00 each). The small selection of cookies looked like ones you would find in a grocery store plastic tub. Mr. Sleuth insisted, so I went with the peanut butter chocolate chip. The cookie surprised me and was actually pretty good- slightly crispy and chewy with a nice amount of chocolate chips and slight peanut butter flavor. I wouldn't go back for another cookie (they have amazing candy apples, though), but it will do in a pinch.
Lloyd's of Avalon Confectionery- Any sweet treat or specialty candy you are craving, Lloyd's has. It is easy to get a little too excited in the store. Snickerdoodle and chocolate chip cookies ($2.00 each) were available the day I went in. I selected the chocolate chip and intended to eat half and save the other half for later. It was so buttery and chocolatey that I could not do it! I'll be making a stop here next time I'm in Catalina, too.

Do you have any fun weekend trips planned this summer?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

S'mores Brownies

Here's how I used the other half of the brownie mix box from earlier this week. These were excellent! Chocolatey, gooey, crunchy, and rich, these bars have everything. This is the ultimate s'mores treat!

1/2 box of brownie mix
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp water
1 egg
5 graham cracker squares
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together brownie mix, egg, water, and oil.
Pour half of the brownie batter into the bottom of a loaf pan. Layer graham crackers on top. Spoon marshmallow fluff on top of the graham crackers. Cover with remaining brownie batter. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.
Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.
Yields 8 servings.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Banana S'mores Brownies

I have not been able to get enough s'mores since I made my s'mores whoopie pies a couple of weeks ago. There is just something about the chocolate, graham cracker, and marshmallow flavor and texture combination that is irresistible. This week I have two recipes for you- each using half a box of brownie mix (fudge flavored, for a 13X9 pan). This recipe has an easy graham cracker base with banana and marshmallow brownie on top. Next time I will add in chocolate chips for some additional texture.

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 box of brownie mix
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp water
1 egg
1 medium banana, sliced
1 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter. Mix in with the graham cracker crumbs and press on the bottom of a 9x9 pan to form a crust. Bake the crust for 5-7 minutes.
While the crust is baking, mix together brownie mix, egg, water, and oil. Fold in banana and marshmallows.
Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.
Yields 12 servings.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

S'mores Granola Bars

I have had craving for s'mores recently that has seemed insatiable. Seeing all of the granola treats Anna has been creating on Cookie Madness, I decided to make my own granola bars with a s'mores twist so I could attempt to satisfy my cravings while at work. An added bonus was I didn't have to turn on the oven for these since it has been so hot.
4 tablespoons butter 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1 tablespoons maple syrup 
1 cup rolled oats 
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips 
1/2 cup crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup mini marshmallows 

In large saucepan, mix together the butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup. Bring to a
Remove from heat. Quickly fold in crushed grahams and rolled oats. Add chocolate and
marshmallows. Spread into a parchment lined 9x9 pan. Press firmly into pan, cover, and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. Cut into rectangle bars, store tightly covered in the refrigerator.
Yields 10 bars.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Scandia Bakery- Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach has so many lovely beach sites, art shops, and restaurants. By the time I made my way to Scandia Bakery, I was always so full from Las Brisas or Romeo Cucina that I never could stomach any dessert. Luckily this time I was ready.

There was a wide variety of treats to choose from- cookies, brownies, breads, and cakes. All were reasonably priced. My giant snickerdoodle was $1.95, and the chocolate dipped macaroon was $1.75. The snickerdoodle was crunchy, unlike any other snickerdoodle I have ever had. The macaroon was a great choice- chewy with plenty of rich chocolate coating one half.

Scandia Bakery is located at 248 Forest Avenue in Laguna Beach- just a block from the ocean.
If this makes you hungry for macaroons, try these easy coconut macaroons.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

S'mores Whoopie Pies

In need of a summer campfire treat without the campfire? Then try these delicious s'mores whoopie pies. The chocolate cookie comes together quickly, and the filling is even easier. They are a bit messy and sticky (I found finger prints of filling all over the kitchen!), but that's part of the fun. This is also my W entry for this month's AlphaBakes challenge hosted by Caroline Makes. I can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with!
Chocolate Whoopie Pies
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/2 cup of cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla 
Marshmallow Filling
1 cup marshmallow fluff
8 sheets of graham crackers

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add the egg and vanilla.
Gradually add in the flour mixture and buttermilk in stages, starting and ending with the flour.
Spoon dough onto baking sheets (size of the drops should be two tablespoons).
Bake 11-13 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the filling, mixed together crushed graham crackers and marshmallow fluff. Spoon one tablespoon of filling onto a cookie and press another cookie on top to form the whoopie pie.
Yields 12 whoopie pies.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Super Yummy Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe from Food Network chef Anne Burrell was indeed super yummy. I have to admit I was skeptical since the cookies themselves were average when I tried one after they cooled for about 10 minutes. The cookies were much better the next day, and I can always use a good make ahead recipe. This recipe is super easy, too. It still doesn’t beat the Chip Mixers, though. I used semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of the dark chocolate and omitted the walnuts and sprinkling salt. I took these to a potluck and made smaller cookies. What are you baking this week?


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces block dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Large flake sea salt, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and kosher salt.

In large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar and butter. Using an electric beater or the paddle attachment of the stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until it they are light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat them into the butter and sugar mixture. Add in the vanilla as well.

With a rubber spatula or with the stand mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture into the butter/sugar mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks and walnuts.

Spoon the cookie dough by 2 tablespoon-size balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Place the cookie dough balls 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 12 to 13 minutes.

When the cookies come out of the oven IMMEDIATELY sprinkle each cookie with a few grains of sea salt. This is really important to do while the cookies are hot.

Let the cookies cool for 2 to 3 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack.
Yields 1 dozen.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for several years and didn't really get into MoonPies until the last couple of years I was there. Now that I'm in California, I get really excited when I come across MoonPies in convenience stores or other specialty food stores. A MoonPie is a soft graham cracker flavored cookie with a marshmallow filling that is enrobed in chocolate. The original MoonPie was created in 1917, and now there are also double-decker MoonPies, banana MoonPies, and Vanilla MoonPies. I also found crispy MoonPies in peanut butter and mint flavors. The original MoonPie is still my favorite, but it's great to have other options. Normally the original MoonPies are less than $1.00 each.
I'd love to make an at home version of this cookie, but I'm still working on that... My S'mores Cookie Sandwiches and S'mores Cookies have the same flavor combinations, though. 

For more information about the original MoonPies, visit

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ranger Cookies- Happy 4th!

I hope you are looking forward to a great 4th of July holiday! Since it's on a Wednesday, it's kind of a hard day to plan a lot. I'll just be doing some indoor grilling, relaxing, and watching fireworks with the rest of the neighborhood. For the 4th, I made some red, white, and blue ranger cookies. Ranger cookies are some of my favorite cookies to make. They're chewy and incorporate so many flavors and can be customized to include whatever you'd like. This recipe I adapted from Better Homes and Gardens is one of my favorites. I found a trail mix with dried cranberries, dried blueberries, dried pineapple, cashews and white chocolate chips to add some patriotic color.
1⁄2 cup butter, softened
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
1⁄2 cup packed brown sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1 cup trail mix

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to
high for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.
Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until
combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon,
stir in any remaining flour, the oats, coconut, and raisins.
Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake
for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are golden and centers are set. Let stand for 1 minute on
cookie sheet. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Yields 36 cookies.