I’m an only child – as if that wasn’t painfully obvious by the fact that I write (and I use that term loosely here) a completely me! me! me! blog. But I have a point here. Stay with me.

There are many great things about being an only child but there was always one thing that kept me up at night. The fact that I had to get married if I wanted to have nieces and nephews. Not only did I have to get married, but I needed to marry someone with lots of siblings so that my chance of getting a niece instead of a stinky nephew was better. I don’t lie when I say it kept me up at night. And then I would eventually get tired of obsessing over finding a man with 15 siblings so I would fling myself off the bed, being sure to bang a body part on the nightstand so that I had something to go whine to my parents about.

Well all my obsessing finally paid off and my husband’s brother and his girlfriend recently welcomed a baby girl into their family! A girl! A girl to buy clothes for! Granted, she lives in Virginia but still! A girl!!

I was throwing together a package for her last week when I realized it was time for Secret Recipe Club. I got one of my alltime favorite, favorite, FAVORITE bloggers this month: Amber from Bluebonnets and Brownies. Know why I worship her? Because she has an entire series of recipes using Fritos. Plus she’s just all-around awesome.

I had planned on making her Peach & Southern Comfort Jam because I’m dying to can something this summer but once I started putting together the package for my niece (!!) I decided to make some cookies for her parents. I used Amber’s Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe and they turned out perfectly. I’ve never actually tried the Levain cookies so I can’t tell you how similar they are but I can tell you that they are fantastic and received a great review from my brother-in-law. I especially loved the walnuts – I always forget how much I love nuts in CC cookies. I need to remember to always include them!

Two years ago: Brown Sugar Bacon Waffles

Secret Recipe Club – Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 cup 2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 cup 60% bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts chopped
  1. Sift together the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and corn starch in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  2. Cut the chilled butter into 1 inch pieces. Put the white and brown sugars in a stand mixer bowl or large mixing bowl and mix until well combined and no lumps remain. Add cold cubed butter and continue to mix at medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time; continue mixing until well combined.
  3. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture in increments until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts by hand.
  4. Refridgerate cookie dough overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 375F.
  6. Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, place dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. For trays with 6 dough balls, bake about 14-15 minutes, 12 minutes for trays with less dough balls. As is the Levain style, the cookies should be removed from the oven when they look slightly underdone,

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I want to thank each and every one of you for the kind words over the past week. I’m happy to tell you guys that the Waldo Canyon Fire is 55% contained (!!) which is absolutely insane! I don’t think anyone expected this much progress so quickly.

It was a crazy scary week and even though we were a relatively safe distance from the fire, our bags were packed and by the door. I took the below photo minutes before they announced that the fire had done exactly what we all hoped it wouldn’t do: it “exploded” and made it’s way into a neighborhood. It was the most horrifying thing I’ve ever seen. They had to evacuate 26,000 people in a matter of minutes. Horses were being let loose because their owners had no other option. It was awful to watch on television and I can’t even imagine being one of those people who watched fire going up their street as they drove away.

It’s also been truly amazing to see this community work together. The news would say “Firefighters need socks!” and within minutes the #waldocanyonfire stream on Twitter would be filled with photos of cleared out store shelves. If you are looking to donate, check out HelpColoradoNow.org. And Erin will be doing a bake sale for the High Park Fire starting on Sunday – I’ll be sure to remind you because I know you want to bid.

So about these bars.

This is the second time in the past few months that I’m going to tell you something is pretty much German chocolate cake frosting spread onto a crust and baked. (First time here!) And just like that time, I decided to make these based solely on the recipe name and then was all WTF once I got halfway through the recipe. I really don’t know why I do this to myself.

But the bars are awesome so I guess that’s all that matters! Like I said, it’s like the pecan frosting you put on German chocolate cake but with chocolate chips included and then that’s baked on a shortbread-ish crust. They were so easy to throw together and they’re pretty much foolproof if you’re looking for something easy to maybe take to a 4th of July BBQ.

One year ago: Pina Colada Fruit Salad

Coconut Pecan Chocolate Chunk Bars
from The Modern Baker
For the crust:
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces 1½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
For the topping:
  • 1 cup brown sugar firmly packed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups pecans coarsely chopped
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9—13-inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
To make the crust:
  1. Sift together the flour, baking power, and salt; set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. On the lowest speed, beat in the flour, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Mix only until the flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth.
  4. Put the dough into the prepared pan and press it to all the sides. Bake until it is puffed and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack while you make the topping.
To make the topping:
  1. Place brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Start whisking in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla; then fol in the coconut, pecans, an chocolate.
  2. Spread the topping evenly over the crust.
  3. Bake until the filling is set and brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Cool the pan on a wire rack. Use the parchment to lift out of the pan an cut into squares.

These may very well be my favorite cookies ever. I’ve only ever gotten M&M cookies from the cookie aisle and while those are great, they aren’t soft. And I love a soft cookie!

Tracey shared this recipe a couple weeks back and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them. I finally remembered to buy some M&Ms (at Lowe’s of all places) this past weekend and made them as soon as I walked through the door. And I’m not even going to try to lie about it – they didn’t survive the weekend.

A nasty wildfire broke out in this city that I have come to love and I have been absolutely glued to the TV. I lived the first 26 years of my life on the Gulf Coast so I’ve never seen anything like this! It’s amazing in a completely horrific way.

But back to the cookies – I haven’t cooked, baked, anything else all weekend because I can’t walk away from the TV. These cookies are literally the only thing I ate. And I’m not complaining because they are so good! They’re a little different from your typical sugar cookie in that they include cream cheese, which I guess is what keeps them so soft? It also adds a little bit of a tang that is fantastic with the super sweet M&Ms.

As of writing this, Colorado has 10 wildfires burning. If you are able to help at all check out HelpColoradoNow.org. If you are local to the Springs, Springs Bargains has been keeping a post updated about donation locations and volunteering.

Two years agoLettuce Wraps

Chewy M&M Sugar Cookies
  • cups 11¼ oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cups 10½ oz sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling
  • 2 oz cream cheese cut into 8 pieces
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and still warm
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups M&M's
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the â…“ cup of sugar (for rolling) in a pie plate or similar dish; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine 1½ cups of sugar and cream cheese in a large bowl. Pour the warm butter over the cream cheese mixture and beat to combine. Beat in the oil then the egg, milk and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Use a rubber spatula to start folding the dry ingredients into the wet. When the dry ingredients are partially incorporated, add ¾ cup of the M&M's to the dough. Continue mixing until a soft dough comes together.
  4. Use a cookie scoop to portion out about 2 tablespoons of dough, roll quickly into a ball, and roll through the sugar you set aside earlier. Place 12 cookies on each baking sheet. Use the bottom of a glass to flatten the dough balls into discs that are about 2 inches in diameter. Press 2 or 3 more M&M's into the top of each cookie.
  5. Bake the cookies for 11-13 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The cookies should not brown but the tops will be puffy and slightly cracked. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes then transfer them to the rack to cool completely.


A few weeks ago I spent an entire weekend going through every cookbook I own and inputting each recipe that I wanted to make into a spreadsheet. I have some amazing cookbooks but I very rarely open them since recipes are so easily accessible on the internet these days. When I want to make something, I search Pinterest and bam, it spits out 50 different recipes of whatever it was that I wanted to make. So my cookbooks have been crazy neglected and I want that to change!

By day 2 of that little project I was pretty sick of going through recipes and started including recipes based solely on their name. Like these guys. They were called Lemon Bars and I added them to my spreadsheet because I love traditional lemon bars – the shortbread crust, a thick layer of lemon curd, and then a dusting of powdered sugar. I love those.

These are not those obviously.

Lemon Bars is probably the last thing I would have called these. They have a shortbread-esque crust but it’s made with brown sugar. Then – and this is going to sound completely crazy – you cover it with what basically amounts to German chocolate frosting (you know, the coconut pecan stuff), and then you bake it. And then finally the lemon comes into play when you glaze them hot out of the oven.

When these bars went into the oven I thought “Omg, this is one of the biggest disasters I’ve had in awhile” because they were so ugly. And then I said it again when they came out of the oven. But they are so tasty – I can’t even explain it. Coconut and lemon are perfect together anyway but for some reason it’s fantastic with the buttery crust and the slight crunch of the pecans.

You should make these. You’re going to call me nasty names as you’re making them but I promise you’re going to be pleasantly surprised.

Coconut Lemon Bars
from Blue Ribbon Recipes
For the crust:
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • ½ cup brown sugar
For the filling:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup pecans chopped
  • 1 ½ cups coconut
For the glaze:
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
  • juice of 1 lemon
To make the crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 275F. Line a 9×13-inch bakng pan with parchment or spray with non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, beat flour, butter, and brown sugar until combined. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes; remove from oven.
To make the filling:
  1. Increase oven temperature to 350F.
  2. In another medium mixing bowl, beat together eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Sift in flour and baking powde; beat until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to fold in pecans and coconut.
  3. Pour the filling over the crust. Bake for 20 minutes or until set.
To make the glaze:
  1. Whisk together powdered sugar, melted butter, and lemon juice.
  2. Drizzle glaze on the bars as soon as they come out of the oven.
  3. Cool the bars completely before cutting.

Yup, it’s time for my monthly “I’m going to cook every single recipe from Around My French Table!” proclamation.  I mean it this time! I swear. Unless it’s another recipe for mussels. Because mussels don’t exist in Colorado.

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is not mussels thankfully – it was cookies! Chocolate ones! With extra chocolate!

These are Dorie’s Cocoa Sables. I really love her Sables recipe from Baking so I had high hopes for these. Unfortunately, my dough was ridiculously dry.

It crumbled when I sliced it and I ended up having to piece it back together on the baking sheet. I really don’t think it was the recipe’s fault though – I think just I need to learn to compensate for how dry the air is here.

But how did they taste you ask?

A-mazing. Best cookies I’ve ever tasted.

And that could very well be because I haven’t had anything sweet in a week but you guys, I loved these! I don’t think I’ve ever had a chocolate cookie that I felt this strongly about but I cannot wait to make these again.