Saturday, March 13, 2010

A marathon post to make up for my marathon absence - and three new desserts!

Wow, it's been a long time since I've written anything. The initial cause of my absence was a terrible flu-like virus that my five-year-old caught. She was sick for several days with a really high fever and coughing. Then my almost two-year-old got it, of course, and it hit her even harder - it drained her of energy and eventually caused severe wheezing.

After an entire day in the pediatrician's office, where they gave her repeated breathing treatments and steroid doses, we ended up in the emergency room the next day because it turned into pneumonia. Thankfully, we only spent two days there, although they were a very uncomfortable/miserable two days - have you ever tried to keep a 23-month-old happy while she has several wires attached to her and has to stay in a metal crib?

The first night was particularly miserable because they gave us a tiny room and both my husband and I wanted to stay with her (okay, I begged him to stay - I still have terrible memories of the week we spent at the hospital last year when she had RSV and I had to stay with her by myself each night). The problem was there was no adult-sized hospital bed in the room like we've had before so Dave ended up sleeping on the couch while I had to sleep in the crib with her (I got about 1 hours' sleep the entire night). We wised up the second night and brought our sleeping bag so Dave could sleep in that while I took the couch.

Anyway, after a week and a half off from work due to these illnesses, I had a lot to catch up on at work and at home and didn't really do much cooking or baking for a few weeks. But now we're all healthy and happy and my cooking/baking craze has been reignited. So here are the recent fruits of my (and my mother's) labor ...

First, the other day I wanted to bake something sweet but was feeling pretty lazy. I looked in my pantry and discovered that I had an old box of Cherrybrook Kitchen chocolate chip cookie mix and a box of Cherrybrook brownie mix. Hmmmm, I thought, chocolate chip cookies and brownies, my two favorite things - why don't I combine them? The result: Brownie chocolate-chip cookie muffins. And wow, are they good! Here's the how-to:

Brownie Chocolate-Chip Cookie Muffins

Prepare 1 box of Cherrybrook Kitchen brownie batter according to package directions. Fill 22 muffin cups with the batter. Bake at the temperature indicated on the package for 7 minutes.

While brownie layer is baking, prepare 1 box of Cherrybrook Kitchen chocolate chip cookie dough. Add a little bit of extra water (about 1 tbsp) to the dough to make it more liquidy and spreadable like batter.

When brownies have baked for 7 minutes, take muffin tins out of the oven and put some of the chocolate chip cookie "batter" on top of the brownie layer in each of the cups. Then put back in the oven for an additional 7-10 minutes (begin inserting toothpick after 7 minutes, take muffins out when top layer looks like a baked chocolate chip cookie and is still moist but not gooey).



The second yummy dessert we've had lately is something my mom made after seeing the recipe on the back of a box of ice cream cones. It basically involves filling an ice cream cone with cake batter, baking it, and then putting icing on top. The finished product was so cool that I think I'm going to make these for Leighton's second birthday.

Cupcake Cones

Prepare 1 box of Cherrybrook cake mix (any flavor) as directed. Open 1 box of safe ice cream cones (my mother used Keebler cake cones, but I have found many different brands of safe cones). Don't use the sugar cones, though - you need to use cones that have flat bottoms so they can stand up on their own.

Spoon batter into each cone. Do not fill the cone completely with batter - instead, leave 1/2-3/4 inch of space at the top of each cone because the batter will rise while baking.

Wrap bottom of each cone in aluminum foil (to help them stand up better on the baking sheet) and set cones on baking sheet.

Place baking sheet carefully in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (start checking after 15).

Take out of the oven and allow to cool completely. Then frost with your favorite safe frosting (many Pillsbury icing flavors are safe, or you can make your own frosting if you're feeling particularly energetic). Put colorful sprinkles on if desired (and what kid doesn't desire that:).

Here is a pic of one my mom made:


Finally, this last treat is for those times when you don't feel like doing any mixing or baking (in a real oven, that is - toaster oven is required for this next treat). One of my old stand-by desserts is Smores. Yes, your allergic child can have Smores! We use safe graham crackers (Honey Maid or Kroger brand), marshmallows (Kraft Jet-Puffed), and chocolate (I find that chocolate chips melt the fastest. I use either Kroger FMV or Enjoy Life). As always, check to make sure these brands are still safe before using!

Smores

Break 1 large graham cracker into 2 squares. Put several mini-marshmallows or 2 large marshmallow halves on one of the squares; put several chocolate chips on the other. Carefully place each piece directly on the rack in a toaster oven (or place crackers on a baking sheet and put the sheet in a real oven if you don't have a toaster oven). Some of the chocolate chips might fall off when you put the squares on the toaster oven rack - just pick them up and put them back on the square. Toast until marshmallows look puffy and chocolate chips look glossy. Take out of the oven and put the 2 pieces together to form a sandwich. Let cool and enjoy!