Over the course of the past several years since I started cooking for myself I’ve built up a collection of different recipes and foods that are on a little thing I call my Cooking Bucket List. I’m sure many of you have ones of your own. They’re really just a list of foods that have yet to actually attempt making for myself but are still very interested in trying out….y’know, before I, kick the bucket.


Some of these recipes (like souffle, candy or from scratch pastry cream) are rather complicated, which is the main reason why I haven’t tried them yet- having a fear that I’ll somehow mess it up and waste my time and the ingredients. Others (like standard ice cream, the Momufoku Milk Bar birthday cake,  require me to have to make a purchase of some other kind of something that I don’t have ‘just’ to make this particular recipe. I’m not the most frugal person in the world but I’m also hesitant to go out and splurge on an ice cream machine or shop online for baker’s ammonia or acetate strips when I know I don’t ‘need’ to make something.


Those are the first two types of recipes on my Cooking Bucket List. The third type, I’ve really got no fancy-dancy explanation for; they’re recipes and foods that wouldn’t really put me out of my way to make at all. They’re there, because I’m lazy and simply just haven’t gotten around to trying them out yet.

Today’s post was one of those.

Baklawa is one of my favorite Middle Eastern foods and one of my overall favorite treats in general. There’s a Middle Eastern deli nearby where I live that makes delicious baklawa, but I’ve still wanted to try it out for myself for years.


There are several markets in my area that sell Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine ingredients so I was able to find orange blossom water pretty easily for a fairly inexpensive price. I’d never heard of it before this and from what I understand, just a little bit goes a LONG way. So as a side note, if any of you know of any recipes using orange blossom water besides baklawa, I now have a nearly full bottle of it just sitting on a shelf that I don’t really know what else to do with- if you happen to have any suggestions, I’m all ears.


Now look guys, I know my first attempt at baklawa ain’t exactly the Belle of the Ball. It’s not as pretty as I would’ve wanted it to be and clearly my fillo layering skills could use some practice. But it was my first time and all, so cut me some slack.

And in any case, the taste more than made up for the presentation, I can guarantee you.

The fillo cooked up nice, crisp and golden brown. The recipe gives two options for how to handle the syrup: I chose the option of pouring the cooled syrup over hot baklawa right after I took it out of the oven, but doing it vice versa is an option as well. Whatever works for you.

So yeah: that’s one item off my Cooking Bucket List. I guess now I have to go back and pick  another to make. But first, guess I can share some of my Baklawa with the folks at this week’s Fiesta Friday #88, co-hosted this week by  Julie @ Hostess At Heart and Liz @ spades, spatulas & spoons.



Recipe Courtesy of Kibbee ’n’ Spice and Everything Nice



  • 2 packages of fillo dough


  • 2 lbs. walnuts
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. orange blossom water
  • 2 1/2 lbs. butter


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. orange blossom water
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice


Unwrap and carefully unfold thawed fillo dough; cover with plastic wrap or wax paper nd a damp cloth to keep the dough from drying out.

Filling: Grind the walnuts coarsely, mix with sugar and orange blossom water until well blended. Butter a 12 x 16 baking pan. Render the butter.

Syrup: Mix sugar and water together and bring to a boil. Boil about 15-20 minutes. Remove syrup from heat, add lemon juice and orange blossom water. Stir and let cool. (Tip: Syrup must either be cool and poured over hot baklawa or hot and poured over cooled baklawa. Never pour hot syrup over hot baklawa; it will make it soggy)

Assembly: Layer one package of the fillo sheets in the pan– buttering generously between each sheet with a pasty brush or cloth dipped in butter. Mix 2-3 tablespoons of water with the walnut mixture and put over the top of the last sheet, making sure to keep the walnuts level.

Repeat the same procedure with the second package of dough, buttering generously between each sheet and butter the top. Cut into diamonds, dipping the knife into hot water as you go for easier cutting. Pour over any remaining butter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour (depending on your oven) or until bottom is done and top is golden brown. If top does not brown nicely, put the baklawa under the broiler for a few seconds, watching constantly as it will burn very quickly. 

Apple Pecan Carrot Cake

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Guys, can I ask you all a random, but still perfectly serious question?

How old do you think I am?

Take a look at my picture to the right, or the pictures of me in my last post at my sister’s wedding. (Disclaimer: I usually ‘look’ like the picture to the right on a day to day basis, whereas at my sister’s wedding I was dolled up with lots of pretty makeup and a gorgeous hairdo which is NOT the norm for me.)

But anyway, yeah: how old am I?

Don’t be shy. I won’t be offended. Let’s hear it. Your best guesses.

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If you guys are anything at all like most random strangers I meet, my estimation is that a lot of your guesses are in late teens, early twenties. A lot of people think that I’m young enough to just be starting college or midway through at the most.

Not so.

I actually graduated from college three years ago.

And I’m not in my late teens or early twenties.

As a matter of fact, this weekend, September the 27th to be exact, I will officially be out of my ‘mid twenties’ and step into the later half of them.

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In a nutshell: my 26th birthday is on Sunday, guys.

I’ll be twenty six. In a manner of speaking, I guess I already am considering twenty six years ago I was alive and kickin in my mom’s stomach with Jas.

When I’ve informed people that I meet of this that mistake me for a teen or early twenty-something, I always get the same reaction. Shock. Disbelief. Then, immediate congratulations at having “good genes” or “aging really well.” I’m personally not sure how I feel about it. I mean, I’m sure that soon enough further down the road if I still look younger than what I really am, I’ll feel great about it. But for now, still being mistaken for someone who’s still not old enough to legally purchase alcohol, when in actuality I crossed that bridge LONG ago is…meh.

Birthdays stopped being something that were really important to me years and years ago. I typically let my own pass by without much fanfare or celebration; it just isn’t that big of a deal anymore. Still, the one tradition that I do still like to continue- especially since I learned how to cook/bake, is the tradition of having a cake. Because cake, is ALWAYS a big deal. Last year it was this Caramel Snickerdoodle Cake. This year, I knew I wanted something that really tasted like Fall. My mom had just bought me The Southern Cake Book released by Southern Living, and I picked this one out as my and Jas’ birthday cake pretty much as soon a I saw it.

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Let me break it down for you guys: small chunks of apples, pecans and grated carrots mixed into a SUPER moist cake batter with a mild spice flavor gets baked into 2 9-inch cakes. The middle filling is a GLORIOUS, smooth and easy Apple Cider caramel sauce that comes together in minutes. Sandwich the two cake layers together, then spread a light n’creamy cream cheese frosting on top and sprinkle with more pecans.

I made the cake last weekend- and we’re down to the last few slices already. Yep. It’s THAT good. If you’ve got a birthday coming up in the family or your circle of friends, I highly reccommend this one: you’ll make your loved one and anybody else lucky enough to get a slice VERY happy. I’ll be linking up this post with our host Angie at this week’s Fiesta Friday #87– that way, we ALL get cake.


Apple Pecan Carrot Cake

Recipe Courtesy of The Southern Cake Book



2 1/3 cups finely chopped lightly toasted pecans, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons apple pie spice
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups peeled and grated Granny Smith apples
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
2/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Caramel Sauce, recipe follows
Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

Apple Cider Caramel Sauce

1 cup apple cider
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup whipping cream

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8-oz.) container cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream


For Cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Sprinkle 1 1/3 cups toasted pecans into 2 well-buttered shiny 9-inch round cake pans; shake to coat bottom and sides of pans.

2. Stir together flour and next 3 ingredients.

3. Stir together eggs and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl until blended. Add flour mixture, stirring just until blended. Fold in apples, carrots, and remaining 1 cup pecans. Pour batter into prepared pans.

4. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

5. Place 1 cake layer, pecan side down, on a serving plate. Spread top of cake layer with 2/3 cup Apple Cider Caramel Sauce; top with remaining cake layer, pecan side down. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting over top of cake. Drizzle 2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Caramel Sauce over frosting, and swirl sauce into frosting. Serve immediately.

For Apple Cider Caramel Sauce: Cook cider in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, 10 minutes or until reduced to 1/4 cup. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; boil, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool completely. Refrigerate up to 1 week. To reheat, microwave at HIGH 10 to 15 seconds or just until warm; stir until smooth.

For Cream Cheese Frosting: Whisk together first 3 ingredients in a large bowl just until blended. Beat whipping cream at medium speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into cream cheese mixture.

My Sister’s Now a ‘Mrs.’

Hey guys!

No food recipes today- but today’s post is still pretty important to me and since I did mention it to you all, I did want to share some of it with you.

See, last week, my twin sister Jasmine got married. It was a wonderful day,filled with a lot of smiles, joy and family. Just the way it should be. I’m really happy for Jas and her husband Josh, and I’m glad that I got to be apart of their special day.

(Although, being her twin, it’s not really like I had much of a say in the matter).


The Happy Couple at the Rehearsal Dinner. It was a Mexican restaurant called Aldaco’s Taco Bar that I’d never been to before. Having tried the food, I can now safely guarantee that I will be back. Normally I’m not even a fan of Mexican food, but this was GOOD.


There’s a really ‘funny’ story behind this program. Jas had originally decided on some program print-outs from Hobby Lobby, but decided two days before the nuptials that she hated them (and they ‘were’ pretty awful to be honest). So me and my Ashley, our older sister and co-MoH, along with our amazing wedding coordinator came through in the clutch for her to get these custom made for her by a SUPER designer who was willing literally do these overnight.  Let’s give her a round of applause, because she’s DEFINITELY the real MVP. They were done the day before the wedding.

Talk about last minute.


When Jas and I first got to the church on Saturday morning, we had some quiet time while we waited on the hair stylist and makeup artist to get there, so I made her put up her hood and pose so I could get this shot. The Quiet Before the Storm.


And, the After. Come on, I mean…let’s just all agree:

Isn’t she THE most beautiful bride you’ve ever seen?


Jas and our dad posing together just before “Showtime”


The Bridesmaids. I’m the devious looking one on the right who didn’t want to show teeth.


Mr. and Mrs. Garcia just after saying, ‘I Do.’



One layer was Red Velvet. One layer was Raspberry. One layer was Chocolate. Options FTW.


Maids of Honor on fleek. I showed teeth in this one.

Pictures alone really can’t do a day like this one justice. One of the best feelings is when you get to share such an important event with someone that you love, and it all goes well.

Congratulations to Jas and Josh. Love you guys <3

(Don’t worry. I’ve got another recipe coming up for your guys very soon ;-))

No-Bake Vanilla Fruit Pizza

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Hey guys- I know I’ve been somewhat absent over the past several days, but I did have a pretty good reason. I really can explain.

See, in exactly 8 days, my twin sister Jas is getting married.

And I’m the maid of honor.

It’s my first time being in a wedding but maybe some of you that have been MoH before can attest to this. Being a MoH-a GOOD, DUTIFUL MoH that tries to keep the bride happy and assist with planning her wedding- keeps you very, very busy.

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Between all of the bridal fittings, bridesmaid dresses fittings, bridal shower planning/partying, shopping, reception planning details and daily assurances/emotional support to the bride, I’ve kind of fallen off the food blogging wagon, depending on just making my Old Faithful recipes to sustain us through the week rather than create and try new ones.

But I’ve still managed to fit them in here or there, just so long as they’re not super labor-intensive can be cooked and photographed within a few hours.

I’ll admit it: I’ve been a bit lazy and slacker-ish. But I know I need to step my game up and get back to my old regular posting schedule-especially since September is now here and with it, the arrival of Autumn, which also happens to be my favorite time of year. I won’t let you guys down on my Fall Baking; hand to God.

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But in spite of all the hullabaloo that’s going on at our place now and the frenzy that will only increase in fever pitch during the next week, I still managed to crank out a post for you guys. And to be honest, even though this recipe is STUPID easy, it is still one of my favorite desserts, hands down. My sisters literally asked me to “make” this, and we ate up every bit. It’s also a really perfect way to get one last hoo-ha of summer while the weather is still relatively warm, and the cool and fruity desserts are a la mode.

The best part? No baking or hot ovens required.

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You guys remember my Speculoos Toffee Cookies I posted about? Well when I decided to make this fruit pizza, I had a bunch of those still sitting around (the recipe makes a pretty big batch), so I decided that I would use those as the base for my no-bake crust. I piled them all up in a bowl and crushed them with my hands very easily. My recipe calls for using a cookie flavor that’s generally pretty mute so as to not overpower the flavors of the fruit- typically this is a sugar cookie, but if you’re feeling adventurous like I was, I do think that using one with a mild richness (like cookie butter) would be worth trying out.

One thing I will strongly advise though, is making sure that you’re using cookies that are on the softer side; if they’re soft that typically means that they had more butter in their dough, and will thus be easier to make stick together when putting together the crust. Can you use drier cookies like vanilla wafers or traditional Danish butter cookies? Yes, but they will require more butter to hold the crumbs together.

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And I would personally like to be able to continue telling myself that because this thing has fruit on it, it’s a “healthy dessert”. Adding more butter may get in the way of that.

All kidding aside, I have to say: when you eat this pizza, it REALLY does feel very light and refreshing- unlike most rich desserts that make you feel like you swallowed a stone a few hours later. Additionally, a little of it goes a long way, so all things considered it’s really one of the better ways to appease your sweet tooth without feeling too bad afterwards.

No Bake Vanilla Fruit Pizza

Plus, if you’re super artistic (or you just google “Fruit Pizza Designs” like I did) you can really go all out and make this an impressive dessert to bring to a Labor Day Barbecue.

And did I mention it tastes delicious? Because it does. Just imagine that first bite: Cookies. French Vanilla Whipped Cream. A burst of tangy juice from the berries. Your mouth is watering by now, I know.

See you all at the Fiesta Friday #84 party, co-hosted this week by , Effie @ Food Daydreaming and Steffi @ Ginger & Bread. I probably won’t be able to post again by the time my sister gets married a week from now, so wish me (and her lol) luck!


No-Bake Vanilla Fruit Pizza

Recipe Adapted from KRAFT



  • 12-16 Large &  soft “neutral” flavored cookies (like sugar), crushed
  • 6-8 tbsp. butter, melted (depending on how dry or moist the cookies you use are)
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package JELL-O French Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
  • 1 cup mixed fresh fruit (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, halved strawberries, sliced kiwi)


Combine the cookie crumbs and butter in a bowl. You’re looking for a good mixture of firm and moist crust– it shouldn’t be ‘wet’, but it needs to be able to hold together when you squeeze it with your fingers.

Press the crumbs into the bottom of a 9-inch round tart pan or shallow pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least one hour.

Beat pudding mix and milk together for 2 minutes. Fold in whipped cream.

Remove tart crust from fridge. Using a spatula, spread whipped cream mixture over the top of crust. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Top pizza with fruit, and serve. 



Glazed Chocolate Donuts

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I’m annoyed guys. Know why? I’ve been having tech issues.

My computer’s been on the fritz.

About 2 and a half weeks ago I got this email from Microsoft offering me a free upgrade to Windows 10. I hate Windows 8 (I don’t know what the developers were thinking with that abstract ‘home screen’ that pops up whenever you push the start button), so I agreed to take the scheduled upgrade and told them to email me when it was ready.

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The appointed day came around. I let my laptop stay open that night, and went to bed. The next morning, I looked through the new interface and was pretty satisfied with what I saw. No more stupid, ugly home screen on Windows 10.

But there was a problem. Two actually.

Now, my computer won’t go to sleep. When I shut the screen down, it does go dark, but the keyboard stays lit and the actual machine keeps running as if it’s still awake. Then when I open the screen, it won’t turn back on. If I want the screen to work, I have to shut the computer off completely, then turn it back on.

Chocolate Donuts1

Which brings me to the next issue: now, the ‘Shut Down’ command in my start menu won’t shut down the computer. If I want to turn off my laptop, I have to press down on the power button and manually shut it off. Which, of course, isn’t good.

I’m currently paying for a subscription/protection plan with Geek Squad so, when I first noticed the issue, I scheduled an appointment at my local Best Buy and took the laptop in and left it with them to fix. The next afternoon, they called and told me that the problem was fixed.

Something about a BIOS update that my laptop needed- whatever that means.

I am by absolutely no means, tech savvy. So, I took their word for it, thinking to myself, “Hey, they’re the ‘ex-perts’ here. They know what they’re doing.”

Apparently, this was a mistake.

Chocolate Donuts3

Because less than a week after I picked the laptop back up from Geek Squad, lo and behold, it’s back to having the exact same problem.

There could be any number of reasons for this, I suppose. Maybe there’s another BIOS update that my laptop needs (though I still have NO idea what BIOS updates are). Maybe Geek Squad didn’t really fix the problem in the first place. Maybe it’s a new issue.

Or maybe Windows 10, like it’s predecessor, also sucks.

Regardless, I now have to schedule another appointment with the tech guys at GS and hope that they get it right this time. I’m pretty pissed off about it. But rather than focus on that, I’d prefer to focus on something else. Something much more pleasant than malfunctioning electronics and the paid experts who don’t do it right the first time.

Chocolate Donuts5

Like donuts. Glazed chocolate donuts.

There’s something about a thick, soft glazed chocolate donut that can just hit the spot and make everything all better.

There’s a place called Quality Dairy in my area that bakes wonderful chocolate donuts. The only ones I’ve ever been able to eat to be honest, as typically I prefer plain glazed, or apple cider. I’ve wanted to make ones on my own for a while. King Arthur Flour’s recipe for chocolate donuts looked very doable, I just had to make a few adjustments.

First, like every other chocolate baked good that I make, I added a tablespoon of powdered instant coffee to the batter. Interestingly enough, the coffee flavor doesn’t come through- but it does give a REALLY big boost to the chocolate flavor of just about anything. So stick that in your bag of tricks. Second, I had to coat mine in a powdered sugar glaze- only way to go.

The result, as you can see, is marvelous.

I’ll be taking my donuts with me to the Fiesta Friday #82 party, co-hosted this week by Kaila @ GF Life 24/7 and Sarah @ Sarah’s Little Kitchen, where hopefully I can continue to commiserate about my tech woes with all of you sympathetic people. After all, we’re all bloggers here- we all understand how annoying tech problems can be, right?


Glazed Chocolate Donuts

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour Baking Companion



  • 1/2 cup (2 oz.) chopped semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick, 2 oz.) butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/2 oz.) sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 oz.) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ( 1 1/2 oz.) unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tbsp. instant coffee powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 cups (about 2 lbs.) vegetable oil or shortening (2 1/2 lbs.), for frying


  • 3 1/2 cup (350 grams ) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) hot water


In a small, heatproof bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Cover with plastic wrap and melt over simmering water or at medium power in the microwave. Stir to combine and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter/chocolate mixture with the eggs and sugar and mix until light. In a separate bowl, whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, flour, cocoa and instant coffee powder. Add to egg mixture and stir to moisten. Add buttermilk and vanilla, mixing just enough to bring dough together. Gather dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out.

To make doughnuts, heat oil or shortening to 350F in a Dutch oven that will hold at least 1 1/2 inches of oil. On a lightly floured surface, roll out chilled dough to a 1/2-inch thick circle. Cut into doughnut shapes with a doughnut cutter, or with 2 biscuit cutters-a large for the outside, a small for the hole. Fry the doughnuts 2 or 3 at a time; cook for 90 seconds on 1 side, turn, and cook for 90 seconds on other. Remove donuts from oil with slotted spoon or spider and drain on paper towels.

To make glaze, mix all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk until smooth. Dip each donut into the glaze, making sure they are covered completely. Place on a wire rack above a sheet pan to catch any excess glaze. Let sit for 20 minutes until glaze is set.

Iced Cornmeal Cookies

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Have you ever really wanted to try something, but you kept putting it off because you just weren’t sure if it would actually work?

I have. In fact, as a naturally cautious (if not downright paranoid person) this tends to happen to me a lot.

I have had I don’t know how many tv shows in my Netflix Instant queue for months. I put them there because I initially thought that they sounded interesting and wanted to give them a shot to see if I would like the show. But then, I never start watching them, because I’m juuuuuust not sure if the shows would be something that I liked. I mean, once they’re gone, I can never get those 45 minutes of my life back.

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I’ve got one loooooooong Amazon wishlist, full of things that I want, but have yet to actually order.

But this one may be less about my being paranoid and cautious, and more about me being broke 9 times out of 10.

As it turns out, most of the time, when I’m overly cautious about trying something new, it usually has to do with food. I’m NOTORIOUSLY picky/cautious when it comes to my food.

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I’m “that person” who only ever orders ONE thing off the menu of a restaurant or take out place. I’m far too paranoid that the one time I decide to be ‘bold’ and ‘daring’, and order something new, it’ll blow up in my face and I’ll absolutely hate it. So not only will I have wasted my money, but I’ll also have to choke down food that I don’t even like, resulting in an unsatisfying meal- which is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves.

I don’t even like straying from the script when it comes to my coffee.

My general philosophy with food is, if it ain’t broke, then I sure ain’t gonna try to fix it.

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But sometimes, I break character and try to eat and cook new foods.

It turns out that having a food blog will give you a rather sizable boot in the rear, so far as that goes.

As a result, I have a full Pinterest board of recipes from other blogs and websites of foods that really caught my attention and made me want to try out for myself. Today’s recipe was one of them; it’s been there for over a year at least.

See? I told you I was overly cautious.

The most intriguing element to this recipe for me was the inclusion of cornmeal in the cookie dough. I was just wildly curious as to what that would taste like; I had SO many questions.

Would the cookies be sweet? Would the texture be too rough/coarse because of the cornmeal? Would they be soft or crunchy? Would they even taste good at all?

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For my own personal preferences, I decided to bake the cookies for as little time as possible so that they would be soft. I assumed by the smell and taste of the raw dough (yes, I eat raw cookie dough. Don’t judge me) that they would be similar to sugar cookies. And I insist upon having my sugar cookies iced. So I then whipped up a quick and easy icing to spread on top and added nonpareils for color.

The finished product?

Well first of all, they’re very good. So that was a huge relief.

Second, I can honestly say that I’ve never had cookies like these before ;the cornmeal is really the star ingredient here. It gives the cookies such a unique texture and flavor. Although I went with vanilla extract and icing, I could see citrus zest like lemon or orange working VERY well with these.

All in all, my risk taking paid off. Which made me a very happy camper :-)


Iced Cornmeal Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart



  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for shaping
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons of milk
  • 2 tsp. light corn syrup
  • multi-colored nonpareils, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until smooth. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture, mixing just until combined.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, onto two large baking sheets; flatten slightly with floured fingertips. Bake until edges are golden, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies immediately to a wire rack; let cool completely.

For Icing: combine the first 3 ingredients until smooth. Spread over cooled cookies, then decorate with nonpareil sprinkles. Allow icing to harden, about 30 minutes.

Big and Chewy Speculoos Toffee Cookies

Cookie Butter Cookies1

There are several ‘downsides’ to living in Lansing, but if I had to pick the biggest one, it would have be that we don’t have access to certain foods and restaurants. Quite a few, actually. It’s gotta be one of the lamest capital cities in the country, so far as food goes.

As well as other things. But for the sake of this post, let’s just focus on the food.

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I think one of  the  most egregious sins of our Food Desert is that we don’t have a Waffle House. I haven’t had a Waffle House waffle (the best waffle I’ve EVER had)  since I visited my aunt in Georgia 5+ years ago. This just should not be. Granted, there are no Waffle Houses in Michigan period, but still…I take it especially personal that there isn’t one in my city.

Second: We don’t have an In-N-Out-Burger. From what I gather, a burger from In-N-Out  is…well…everything. What I wouldn’t give to find out for myself.

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There are no joints in Lansing where I can go to get a traditional,  delicious NYC-style pizza. So far as pizza places go, we’re pretty much limited to the ‘big chains’- and neither of those count. (Especially since Pizza Hut axed the Big New Yorker pizza from their menu years ago *throws stank eye*)

We don’t have a Costco. Yep; you heard that right. No Costco.

We had a Krispy Kreme. It closed. In retrospect, it may have been for the best- for my thighs, I mean. But sometimes, I still miss seeing that Hot ‘n Ready neon red sign glowing in their window.

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Finally, should either of you ever choose to pay a visit to the capital city of Michigan, be advised: there is no Trader Joe’s to be found here. Don’t ask me why this is. I really couldn’t tell you.

But it is a shame: Trader Joe’s is one of those stores that I just really like walking around in and looking at everything, trying to come up with various excuses as to why I should buy ‘this’ and ‘that’ and ‘that and that and that’. They just have a lot of really good products, including but not limited to this unbelievably AMAZING product called Cookie Butter.

Cookie Butter Cookies4

Cookie Butter, for those who are unfamiliar with it, is made of Speculoos cookies that have been pulverized and blended with vegetable oils until they form a smooth spread that has a peanut-butter consistency. There are imitators out there, but don’t be fooled: TJ’s makes the best.

The nearest Trader Joe’s to us in Michigan is in Ann Arbor. So, the last time that my older sister was driving up through the area, she stopped by a Trader Joe’s and bought me a jar each of Crunchy and Creamy Trader Joe’s Cookie butter.

Cookie Butter Cookies5

So I know what you’re probably thinking: “Jess, what’s the point of using COOKIE butter to just make more COOKIES?”

My answer to that would have to be…because I wanted to.

And you know what?  I think it turned out pretty darn good.

I referenced a recipe that I’ve used before for to make really awesome peanut butter cookies, then tweaked it a little to make it work for this idea. To give the cookies some texture, I mixed in some Heath toffee bits to the dough. Yeah. It was definitely one of my better ideas.

I’m super pumped to be able to co-host this week’s Fiesta Friday #79 along with Loretta@SafarioftheMind. Be sure to come on over and join us with your own recipes to share-it’s always a blast!


Big and Chewy Speculoos Toffee Cookies

Recipe Adapted from



  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy or chunky Speculoos cookie butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2  3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2  1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2  1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup Heath toffee bits


Cream together both sugars, the butter and the Speculoos cookie butter until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and salt and stir to combine.

In separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and corn starch together with whisk or fork until well combined. Slowly add it to the wet mixture, mixing until well incorporated.

Using the lowest speed of mixer, or by hand, stir in the Heath toffee bits.

Refrigerate cookie dough at least one hour, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheet pans with parchment paper.

Using a 1/4 cup measure, spoon out portions of dough and roll into balls. Place onto sheet pans and slightly flatten with the bottom of a glass or the top of your hand.

Bake cookies for 12 minutes, or until bottoms just being to brown, rotating the baking pans halfway through.

Allow cookies to sit on the baking pans for about 3-5 minutes, before moving to cooling rack to completely cool.