Easter Baskets and Holiday Extravaganzas

We're not a religious family so Easter is very much about the chocolate in our house. Do you do Easter baskets? Egg hunts? Big family dinners? We're still figuring out what works best for our family, especially since Poppy has allergies we need to accommodate. It wasn't as difficult last year when we could swap out the yummy treats in her Easter basket for books and socks. 

It's also becoming difficult to enjoy a little extravagance when every holiday brings with it an influx of stuff. Sometimes it feels like we're drowning in stuff. I'm not pointing any fingers (because let's be real, I'm the worst offender) but it seems like we're in a never-ending cycle of accumulating things and then struggling to find places for them. 

How do you handle holidays? Do you enforce a "consumables, only" rule? Do you ask others to not indulge your kids so you have the opportunity to without feeling like things are getting out of hand? Do you shut up and roll with it because really there aren't that many holidays in the year? 

Half & Half Chocolate Chip Cookies

Shawn and Grady's favourite cookie is the classic chocolate chip cookie but for Father's Day, I wanted to give the classic a little oomph. I didn't want to fundamentally change the basic chocolate chip cookie, but I did want to make it feel a little more special. These half & half chocolate chip cookies look impressive but don't take much more time to make than regular cookies. The recipes can be made as standalone cookies or they can be combined to make a fancier-but-still-classic chocolate chip cookie.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I tweaked this recipe slightly to suit my purposes.

Ingredients

½ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Melt butter.

Stir in sugars and salt until a smooth paste has formed.

Whisk in the egg and vanilla until combined well.

Stir in flour, baking soda, and chocolate chips gently until combined. Do not over mix. 

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour, preferably overnight. (I know. I know! What a pain. But it honestly results in tastier, more flavourful cookies.) 

Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Ingredients

½ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾  cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips

Directions

Melt butter.

Stir in sugars and salt until a smooth paste has formed.

Whisk in the egg and vanilla until combined well.

Stir in flour, baking soda, cocoa, and chocolate chips gently until combined. Do not over mix. 

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour, preferably overnight. 

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Half & Half Cookie Assembly

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop spoonfuls of chocolate chip cookie dough onto prepared cookie sheets. (I use my 1-teaspoon cookie scoop and the cookies are the perfect size.) Scoop similar-sized spoonfuls of double chocolate chip cookie dough and then roll the two balls together in your palms to create one ball of cookie dough that is half plain chocolate chip cookie dough and half double chocolate chip cookie dough. Flatten slightly and place two inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until slightly browned. Remove from cookie sheet and cool completely. Enjoy!

Makes approximately 40 cookies.

Flourless Fudgy Chocolate (and Chickpea and Spinach) Muffins

I'm not on board with the trend of "guilt-free!" recipes. No. If I want to eat a chocolate muffin, I'm going to eat a damn chocolate muffin and not feel guilty about it. This recipe is not an attempt to make anyone feel like the food they eat is bad or good. Food has no moral value. This recipe is an attempt to trick my picky kid into eating nutritious food without him knowing. (No regrets.)

A friend posted a recipe for chickpea chocolate muffins and I've played around with the recipe to add more good stuff (spinach) and make it a little more my style (butter instead of melted coconut oil, etc.).

Grady loves these muffins. He thinks they're dessert (which yeah, added sugar) (but also protein! And spinach!). They can be a bit crumbly because they've got a delicate, fine texture, but he's quite happy to clean up all the crumbs after he's done because chocolate.

I love these muffins because they're made completely in a blender, no mixing bowls required. I don't even have a fancy high-speed blender. If your blender is strong enough to make a smoothie, it's strong enough to make these muffins lump-free.

Ingredients

1 - 540mL can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup milk or buttermilk (I've used both and can't tell the difference)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large handfuls (approximately 2 cups) baby spinach leaves
chocolate chips for topping

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Line muffin pan with paper liners.

Buzz all ingredients except for chocolate chips in blender until smooth. Batter will be thick.

Spoon batter into muffin pan. Top with chocolate chips.

Bake 18-20 minutes until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.

Disclaimer: these muffins don't taste like a regular muffin made with flour. They don't taste like chickpeas or spinach, though. The texture is a little lighter and maybe spongier than a traditional muffin but they pass the picky eater taste test in our house so I'm calling it a win.

Do you bake with legumes? Hit me with your favourite recipe!

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Quick and Easy Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake is my love language. I'm not even ashamed. I love chocolate cake. If I love you, chances are I've made you a chocolate cake at some point. (And if I haven't? Well, try harder to be loveable.) (I'm kidding.)

I found this chocolate cake recipe last year and after tweaking it to my personal preferences, I will never make another. It's ridiculously fast to make (I can throw it together more quickly than my oven preheats) and always comes out moist and delicious.

Ingredients

2 cups granulated sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup hot coffee or boiling water

Chocolate Ganache Topping

1 cup whipping cream
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 9x13 baking pan.

In bowl of stand mixer, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for two minutes.

Mix in coffee (batter will be thin).

Pour into pan and bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.

Cool at least half an hour before topping. The cake doesn't need to be cold but it shouldn't be hot to the touch.

Chocolate Ganache Topping

Heat whipping cream in saucepan over medium-high heat until steaming. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate chips and vanilla until smooth. Cool approximately 30 minutes and then pour over cooled cake. Top with berries or sprinkles and then bring it to me.

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