Circus Animal Cookies

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What’s better than a cookie within a cookie? Not a whole lot. This nostalgic treat is sure to bring back memories of your childhood. I incorporated the Mother’s Circus Animal cookies I enjoyed as a kid into a basic sugar cookie to create this pretty, pink cookie. They would make for a festive Valentine’s Day sweet (I know I’m a little late on this one…) or for a girls’ baby shower.
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Circus Animal Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 14 oz. bag Mother’s Circus Animal Cookies, crushed (leave some larger chunks)

Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Gradually add flour mixture and stir until dough forms. Using a spatula or wood spoon, mix in the animal cookie chunks and crumbs until fully incorporated. Take a heaping tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball. Place on ungreased cooking sheet.
  3. Bake for about 8 or 9 minutes, until edges are set. Be careful not to over bake, even if they don’t look done, because they will harden as the cool (it took me a few batches to figure out this trick). Remove from baking sheet to cool on wire rack. Make sure to try some fresh out of the oven, too. Delicious!

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Raspberry Sea Salt Shortbread Cookies

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Spread the love with these heart-shaped raspberry sea salt shortbread cookies this Valentine’s Day. The raspberry sea salt creates a sweet and salty treat that your special someone is sure to love! I think it would also be fun to sprinkle it on some chocolates or caramels to add a pretty, pink touch!

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Ingredients

{For cookies}

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

{For raspberry filling}

  • 2 oz. white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp. fresh raspberry puree (blend 1/2 cup of raspberries until smooth)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. whipping cream

{For raspberry sea salt}

  • 2 Tbsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. raspberry puree

Directions

{For the cookies}

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mat and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix until combined. In a separate large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture and mix on low until combined.
  3. Place dough on a floured surface and use floured rolling pin to roll out dough until 1/4-inch thick. Cut dough into hearts by using small hear-shaped cookie cutter with scalloped edges. Place hearts on cookie sheet and chill in fridge for 10 minutes before baking.
  4. Bake for 17 minutes, until edges are slightly browned. Let cool before frosting.

{For raspberry filling}

  1. Place white chocolate in microwaveable bowl and melt in microwave for about 30 seconds.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter until light and creamy. Add raspberry puree and vanilla and continue to beat. Slowly add melted chocolate and powdered sugar. Add in the whipping cream to create a lighter consistency. Beat until smooth and fluffy.
  3. Place filling in a piping bag (or Ziploc bag). Cut off the tip and use to fill the cookies.
{For raspberry sea salt}
  1. Place sea salt and raspberry puree in a small bowl. Use a fork to mix them together, until salt turns pink and there are no clumps. Sprinkle a small amount on each cookie.

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Crock-Pot Hot Chocolate

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I feel weird writing this post because it is currently 70 degrees in Vegas (yes, it’s January – it still blows my mind), but I wanted to share this recipe for hot chocolate because it’s a cozy Valentine’s Day treat, especially when paired with these vanilla creme Peeps and cute “nuts about you” mug – both from Target.

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My boyfriend’s mom made this delicious hot chocolate while we were visiting them in Wyoming for Christmas. She had it waiting for us when we got back from snowmobiling and it was much appreciated! After freezing on the mountain, it felt amazing to put on fleece sweats, sit by the fire and sip on this rich hot chocolate while watching the snow fall outside. I have learned that my favorite part of outdoor winter sports is warming up with a warm drink in the lodge afterwards – preferably spiked with Baileys :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

How-to:

  1. Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla and chocolate chips in a Crock-Pot.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted.
  3. Stir again, then ladle into mugs. Keep the Crock-Pot on low and stir occasionally to enjoy hot chocolate for hours.

Other ideas:

  • Stir with a peppermint stick or add crushed peppermint candy
  • Top with marshmallows and whipped cream
  • Add other flavors, such as butterscotch, gingerbread or caramel
  • Substitute white or dark chocolate in the recipe
  • Add fresh-brewed coffee or espresso
  • Add whipped cream vodka or Baileys

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Chocolate-Dipped Cheesecake Cookies

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“It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!” – Agnes, Despicable Me

Yes, she is talking about a unicorn, but she easily could have been describing these cookies. They are so soft and moist, plus anything dipped in chocolate is delicious. These chewy cookies would be a yummy Valentine’s Day treat for your special someone – and very cute wrapped in a Mason jar.

Ingredients:

  • 8-ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter.
  3. Add sugar and mix until smooth.
  4. Beat in eggs and vanilla
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture and stir until combined.
  6. On an ungreased baking sheet (or baking sheet with Silpat mat), drop rounded tablespoons of dough
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, until edges are set. When in question, I always err on the side of underbaked because they will still continue to cook ounce out of the oven. Transfer to wire rack and let cool.
  8. Cover baking sheet or plate with wax paper and set aside.
  9. Melt chocolate chips in microwave, stirring at 30-second intervals.
  10. Once melted, dip bottom of cookies and then place on prepared baking sheet or plate. Let chocolate harden. Enjoy :)

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Valentine’s Day Favorites

The day we either love or hate has arrived. Whether or not you have a special someone, these are a few things that will guarantee you have a great day! First of all, the better you look, the better you feel! If you’re going on a hot date or having a girls night out, the perfect dress will put you in the mood to celebrate! This cute, coral dress has Valentine’s Day written all over it (well, not literally). Add a trendy Peter Pan collar necklace to give a basic dress some more style!

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Leather accents are a hot trend right now. The leather panel and sweetheart neckline makes this LBD extra fun and sexy. Accessorize with some long, flashy earrings or a short, simple necklace.

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Don’t forget to share the love! Gone are the days of decorating shoe boxes and getting cards from classmates. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t still express our love to the special people in our lives with  an adorable card! This eco-friendly card is part of a line called “A Little Bird Told Me…” that is designed and printed in Seattle. It’s really cool that 10% of the proceeds support Women for Women International.

v day 2

Smelling good is just as important as looking good! You’ll be irresistible in this best-selling perfume! “Dead Sexy” is a mixture of deep vanilla, exotic wood, white orchid and ebony. The lotion is moisturizing without feeling to greasy or sticky, so I highly recommend it! Even with sensitive skin (like mine) it isn’t irritating!

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Having a cozy night in instead of braving the crowds? A nice smelling candle is great to set a relaxing mood whether you are having a night alone, a wine-filled night with roommates or a romantic date! It also makes a cute decoration for your house!

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Finally, no Valentine’s Day can be complete without chocolate! I am lucky enough to have an amazing boyfriend who knows how much I love chocolate. These are the personalized M&Ms he got me! He obviously knows how much I like pink, too!

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Hope you all have a happy Valentine’s Day!

{P.S. all items, except the chocolate, can be found at Peridot Boutique.}