Sugar Cookie Cake



My work holds a Silent Dessert Auction each year during our United Way kickoff. I've contributed a few years like this yummy Reese's cake and taken a few years off since it's a lot to balance trying to whip something up mid-week with little ones. This year I decided to participate despite being the first year with two little boys so it took some pre-planning to get it all done (thanks to my husband who did the dishes for me).

I didn't actually get to try the cookie portion of the cake, but the winner told me it was "absolutely scrumptious", so hopefully that's true. I already have four requests for this, so at least people think it looks delicious. ūüėČ

I ended up using a different buttercream recipe based on some of the reviews, and added about 1 1/2 tablespoons of sprinkles to the batter itself just to make it a little more festive.


Sugar Cookie Cake


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Sprinkles!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease 3, 8-inch, (or 2, 9-inch) cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper circles.

Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium high. Add the eggs individually, mixing after each then add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in two parts, and the sprinkles, if using, but be careful not to overmix.  Stop after just combined.

Divide the dough evenly amongst the pans and spread using a spatula or parchment paper. Bake for 10-15 minutes (mine were thicker than the original recipe picture and probably took closer to 20 minutes to bake through) until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


I used this one and ended up adding more powdered sugar until it was the consistency I was looking for.

Then assemble the cake! Place a sugar cookie layer on your cake board or plate, top with frosting, and repeat until you have used all three layers. Decorate as you wish!

Recipe Source: Cookie:Completely Delicious Frosting: Brown Eyed Baker



Skillet Lasagna

Every week, we like to pick a “themed” meal based on who either the Ohio State Buckeyes or the Cleveland Browns are playing.  A couple weeks ago, the Browns were playing the Jets, so we decided on Italian food. I loved how easy this was compared to making a huge tray of lasagna which is significantly more time consuming.  And, this turned out to be exactly the kind of warm, delicious dinner we were looking for.  I even took it for lunch the next day and since leftovers are typically not my favorite, that’s saying A LOT!

Skillet Lasagna

Skillet Lasagna

  • 1¬Ĺ (28 oz.)  cans whole peeled tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¬Ĺ tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • ¬ĺ tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 lb. ground beef or Italian sausage, crumbled
  • 10 curly-edged lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch lengths
  • ¬ĺ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¬Ĺ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¬ĺ cup ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbsp. minced fresh basil, optional

Coarsely chop the tomatoes.

Place a large cast iron or non-stick oven-safe skillet with a lid over medium heat.  If using ground beef, cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink.  Then remove the ground beef from the pan, drain any grease, and heat the olive oil still over medium heat.  If using Italian sausage, heat the olive oil over medium heat (you’ll cook the sausage later).  Add onion, salt, and pepper to pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened about 5-7 minutes.  Add in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning and cook 30 seconds until just fragrant.

If using Italian sausage, add it to pan now and cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink.  If using ground beef, add it back to the pan now.  Scatter the lasagna noodles in the skillet, and pour the tomatoes with their juices over top of the noodles.  Increase heat to medium-high and cover.  Stir it often at a strong simmer until the lasagna noodles are al dente, about 20-24 minutes.

Preheat your broiler.  Once the noodles are al dente, remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in half of the mozzarella and Parmesan, and ¬ľ cup of the ricotta.  Dot remaining ricotta over the top, and sprinkle the remaining shredded cheeses in an even layer.  Place in the oven and broil until cheese is slightly browned and bubbling, about 5 minutes.  Take it out of the oven, sprinkle with basil, and serve.

Recipe Source: slightly adapted from Pasta Revolution via Annie’s Eats

Speedier Suppers…Honey Sesame Crockpot Pulled Pork¬†

We usually all get home around 5:45, and our son typically wants to eat by 6:00 pm which leaves a whooping ~10 minutes to get food together after shoes are off, cars unloaded, etc.

Crockpot meals are great for cooking while you’re away and being almost ready to serve when you finally arrive. Yet I find them, especially meats, are a challenging one for me because everything ends up so similar in texture. Also, the ones where you precook elements or it cooks in three hours would definitely have to be regulated to weekend only meals. This one stood out in terms of flavor and easiness to prepare, and we’ve already made it twice in about two weeks!

Honey Sesame Crockpot Pulled Pork

  • 2 – 3 pounds pork shoulder or butt, trimmed
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
  • ¬ľ cup honey
  • ¬Ĺ cup ketchup
  • ¬Ĺ cup soy sauce
  • ¬Ĺ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 (15 ounce) can crushed pineapple
  • ¬Ĺ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional, I omitted)
See notes below…
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • ¬ľ cup cold water
Insert slow cooker liner or spray slow cooker with cooking spray.  Trim any significant fat cap off of the pork shoulder.  Put pork in the bottom of the slow cooker.
In a large measuring cup or medium bowl mix together onion, garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame seeds, pineapple and red pepper flakes and pour it over the pork.
Cook on low for approximately eight hours (I’ve left it for closer to 10 hours, and it was fine) until pork is completely cooked through. Remove pork from the slow cooker and shred.
Notes: The original recipe then mixes the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl and slowly stirs it into the sauce remaining in the slow cooker, covering it with the lid while shredding the pork.  I have just pulled some sauce out and reduced it in a small saucepan by bringing it to a boil and letting it go for a bit until the liquid decreases by almost half.  Either option works!
Combine pork with sauce and serve.  We liked this on sandwiches, in tortillas, or by itself with some green onions, additional sesame seeds, and more pineapple. ūüôā
Recipe very slightly adapted from Chef in Training

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

*Updated 8/23/16 to reflect using an entire box of pasta which is how we traditionally prepare it!

This is one of those recipes that has been made 800 times by your family. ¬†So when my friend alerted me it wasn’t on the blog, it finally warranted me getting out of my year and 1/2 long slump of not posting. ¬†I’m not sure anyone is still out there; however, I have missed having the new recipes we’ve enjoyed in an easily accessible location! We have an amazing reason for being absent and trying fewer recipes. ¬†It’s been a busy time, but that fantastic reason is that we have an almost one year old son!!!

This is the baked mac and cheese recipe we go back to time and time again. Hope you all enjoy it as much as we do!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese {peasandcues}

Macaroni & Cheese

  • 1 – 16 oz. pkg. Cavatappi pasta
  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 6 1/4 cups grated cheese (I like to use a blend of sharp cheddar (white or yellow) and a softer, melting cheese like colby jack)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 tsps. salt
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Potato chips or croutons, crushed¬†(We prefer croutons.)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Spray a 2 qt. casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Cook pasta per manufacturer’s directions for al dente. ¬†Drain pasta and return to the pot.

Stir butter into pasta until melted.  Add 6 cups of the cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Pour into casserole dish.

Bake 30 minutes.  Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of cheese and chips or croutons and broil for one minute or until brown on top.

Slightly adapted from a recipe my mom has been making for years…I will update with the cookbook source next time I’m home!

Asian Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Pair a flavorful chicken salad with the crisp bite of a quick pickled cucumber.  Super tasty for a quick weeknight meal!

Asian Chicken Sandwiches {peasandcues}

Asian Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Makes 4 sandwiches

  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 English cucumber, halved, seeded, and sliced thin
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 (2 1/2-pound) rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded, meat shredded into bite-size pieces (3 cups)
  • 6 scallions, sliced thin
  • 2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices rustic white bread, lightly toasted

Combine vinegar and sugar in microwave-safe medium bowl and microwave until sugar dissolves, about 90 seconds.  Add cucumber slices to bowl and toss to combine.

Whisk together mayonnaise, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger in a large bowl until combined.  Add chicken, scallions, and sesame seeds to bowl with mayonnaise mixture and toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Top 4 slices bread with chicken salad, followed by cucumbers, then remaining 4 slices bread.

Recipe Source: Simple Weeknight Favorites – America’s Test Kitchen cookbook

Green Chile Cheeseburgers

Despite the rain that’s in the immediate term forecast, we’re finally starting to get into grilling weather! While this recipe seems a little involved for a weeknight dinner, there are a few modifications we’ve done to shorten the time frame just a touch plus there’s options to do some of it ahead of time.¬† First, the pickled red onions need to be made ahead of time so they will just hang out until you’re ready for them – up to 48 hours. We’ve also prepped the burger mixture beforehand and substituted a pepperjack or monterey jack cheese (pictured here)¬†for queso.

Either way, as a result of salivating over this picture, these burgers have just made it back onto our menu.

Green Chile Burgers {PEAsandcues}

Green Chile Cheeseburgers 
Yields 4 burgers

Pickled Red Onions

  • 1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced

Green Chile Relish

  • 1 medium poblano chile, roasted, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 Hatch chiles or 2 Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 Serrano chile, roasted, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 hamburger buns, split and lightly toasted
  • 8 Tbsp. Queso sauce (Queso recipe coming soon!) or Monterey Jack or Pepperjack cheese

Pickled Onions: Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  While cooling, slice up the onion and place in a medium heat-proof bowl.  Once cooled for at least 10 minutes, pour the vinegar over the red onion slices.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 and up to 48 hours.

Green Chile Relish: Start by roasting the chilis.  Heat broiler in oven to high heat and place a baking sheet with the chiles on it 6 inches from the heating element or char them on your burners if you have a gas stovetop.  Use tongs to turn the chiles every couple minutes until blackened all over.  Once blackened, add the chiles to a medium bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Allow to cool about 10-15 minutes, then peel the chiles.  Remove the seeds and ribs and chop into small pieces.

In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, olive oil, and cilantro.  Stir in the diced chiles, and season with salt and pepper.  Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Burgers: Preheat grill.  In a large bowl, lightly mix together beef, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and red pepper flakes until just combined.  Shape into four patties, each about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Grill the burgers to desired doneness, flipping once.

Time to eat!¬† Pile queso or cheese, chile relish, and pickled red onions on top of your burger and “nom, nom, nom”!

Recipe ever so slightly adapted from¬†Pink Parsley; adapted from Bobby Flay’s Throwdown!

My Favorite Fruit Pie: Cran-Apple Pie

My mom makes unbelievable cran-apple pie. ¬†It’s not very common. ¬†I’ve never seen it offered in a restaurant, and we’re all aware how much I like to eat.

Cran-Apple Pie {peasandcues}

The tartness of the cranberries is an excellent pairing to crisp apples. ¬†In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I’d share something from my mommy’s kitchen to yours!

Cran-Apple Pie {peasandcues}

Cran-Apple Pie

Yields 8-10 servings

  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 8 to 9 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • Pastry for basic pie crust or use Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust ūüėČ
  • 1 egg white mixed with 1 tsp water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Blend together sugar and flour in a small bowl.¬† Place pie crust in bottom of a 9″ pie plate.¬† Alternate layers of apples, cranberries, and sugar mixture, beginning and ending with apples.

Dot the top with small pats of butter.  Put on top pie crust and crimp edges.  Cut slits through the top crust to allow steam to escape.  Use a pastry brush to brush top crust with egg water mixture.

Cook for 50 minutes.

Recipe adapted by my Mom from 1981 Kenmore microwave-convection cookbook

Baby Button Cookies

A good friend of mine has a beautiful new son; however, before he arrived, I helped host a baby shower to celebrate! Since I have a stationary fetish, so this was an excellent opportunity to make some invitations too. ¬†There are several recipes from the day to share, but I’m starting off with the most “festive”, baby button cookies.

I was originally skeptical about the cornstarch, and I still think I might play with the recipe a little to increase the sugar and decrease the cornstarch, but these were a fun little shortbread-type cookie to munch on. ¬†The lemon flavor is really key here so don’t leave it out or feel free to increase it as I did, reflected below.

Baby Shower Invite {peasandcues}

Baby Button Cookies {peasandcues}

Baby Button Cookies

Makes ~ 4 dozen cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or lemon) extract
  • 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


  • ¬†1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, pulse butter and powdered sugar until combined.   To that, add cornstarch, extract, zest and flour,  processing until a soft dough forms. Remove the dough onto a floured surface and divide into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece of the dough into a skinny log- about 12 inches long. Cut each log into 12 pieces, and roll each piece into a ball.

Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. These cookies spread very little. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown but the tops are still light.

While baking, mix powered sugar and lemon zest in a medium bowl.  Remove the cookies from the oven and while still warm, roll in the sugar mixture.   Place on a wire rack, and use a toothpick to poke four holes in the top of each cookie to make a the buttonhole pattern.  Cool completely.

Source: (adapted from Food and Wine)

Roasted Garlic and Dill Cannellini Dip

While dips and frankly snacking in general is wonderful, it can really not be wonderful for your hips. ¬†This dip, especially if you chose to pair it with some fresh veggies, would be an outstanding way to maybe counteract this one. ūüôā

Roasted Garlic and Dill Cannellini Dip {peasandcues}


Roasted Garlic and Dill Cannellini Dip

Yields: ~ 1 cup of dip

  • 1 – ¬†15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 bulbs roasted garlic, recipe below
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine the beans, roasted garlic, dill,  salt, and pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth. While the food processor is running, stream in olive oil through the top, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom a few times.

Recipe source: How Sweet It Is

Roasted Garlic

  • 1 head garlic (or as many as you want to make!)
  • 1- 2 tsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 375.

Chop off the top portion of the garlic head to reveal cloves. Peel any excess paper, what comes off by lightly rubbing the head of garlic, off.  Pour olive oil on top the garlic cloves and let soak for 10 minutes.

Cover with foil and roast in a baking dish for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool then squeeze from the bottom of the garlic head to remove the roasted cloves.

Recipe source: How Sweet It Is

Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball

I’ve said it before, but I love snacking. ¬†There’s something so satisfying about watching a game surrounded by yummy things to munch on, and this was no exception. ¬†I found myself adding this to my plate many, many times throughout the night, and everyone else was as well. ¬†Suffice¬†to say, there were no leftovers of this one!

Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball {peasandcues}

Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball

Makes 12 servings

15 minutes to prep, plus an hour to refrigerate!

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (2 ounces)
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, chopped, and divided
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¬ľ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • ¬ľ cup chopped pecans, toasted

In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, cheddar cheese, half of the bacon, half of the jalapenos, garlic, parsley, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, ground cumin and cayenne pepper until well combined.

On a plate, combine remaining bacon, jalapenos, and toasted pecans until evenly mixed. Shape cream cheese mixture into a ball, and roll the ball in the pecan mixture until coated on all sides.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  Serve with your favorite crackers.

Recipe found at Brown Eyed Baker¬†,¬†adapted from¬†The Homesick Texan; originally seen on¬†Tracey’s Culinary Adventures