Summer Monogram Swap {and Bourbon Buckeyes}

One of the best parts of this blog adventure is the wonderful blogging community that it makes you a part of. Folks that know exactly what it’s like pouring your heart and time into your tiny little corner of the interwebs and hope that the people reading it respond to your voice and what you’re talking about.

There are a seemingly never ending number of opportunities to meet and connect with these other folks. When I saw that one of my favorite style bloggers, Nicole from Probably Polka Dots, was hosting a monogram swap I thought “Why not?”. I’ve never done anything like this before but I really liked the concept of connecting with one or two bloggers and really getting to know them. The fact that I’d get to gift and be gifted something personal and unique made it even better.

Our group was a trio. I was entrusted with finding the perfect gift for Susan, a lifestyle blogger from Ohio. I have loved every minute of getting to know Susan and spending time in her space, Charming Lucy. She is creative and stylish, but the thing I find most inspiring about her blog is how highly she talks about her precious daughter and blog namesake, Lucy. Be sure to head over to her blog to see what I ended up giving her!

When I found out that Sarah, a style blogger from Kentucky, was going to be picking out my monogramed goodie I was pretty pumped. The girl has style as evidenced by her blog Simply Sarah Style, so I knew I’d be getting something awesome. Since we are all about the kitchen over here, she picked out some cute personalized recipe cards and a monogrammed tea towel. Thanks so much Sarah!

tea towel     recipe cards
photo credit: the mama

Ladies, thank you all so much for making the swap a great experience. And, because y’all are both so awesome, I thought I’d share a little recipe I cooked up that was inspired by both of y’all.

Football season is THREE days away and, for the football devoted, that means lots of tailgating, football watching get togethers, and a significant amount of cooking every weekend. {At least, that is what it would mean that for me if we were in the States, but we’re not. So football season means 2am game starts and lots of gnashing of teeth if the video feed freezes.}

One of the things I’ve learned in my years of tailgating is that if you put liquor in it, folks will eat it. Traditionally a tailgate favorite for fans of The Ohio State Buckeyes {sorry Michigan fans, I do love you}, I think that regardless of your school allegiance, these are a bite sized, Kentucky bourbon filled dessert that folks can get on board with.

Normal buckeyes are pretty simple–peanut butter, powdered sugar, and chocolate. In a effort to up the nutritional value of these a bit, I wanted to eliminate most of the refined sugar, so instead of powdered sugar, we’re using peanut butter cookie crumbs and mixing it with cream cheese and bourbon and then dipping it in dark chocolate. Bam.

Kiwi+Peach: Bourbon Buckeyes {whole grain, no refined sugar, and so, so delicious}

Bourbon Buckeyes

The Crumb
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 cup whole grain flour {I used spelt.}
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

The Mix
6 ounces {175 grams} cream cheese
2 Tbsp bourbon
2 Tbsp maple syrup

The Cover
8 ounces {200 grams} of dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla and melted coconut oil together. Slowly add in the flour, baking soda, and salt until they are just incorporated.

Spoon golf ball sized balls of dough onto a lined baking sheet and press flat with a fork. Pop them in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until they are crispy.

You could stop here and just have some peanut buttery cookies, but I recommend you keep going. Its about to get delicious.

When the cookies are finished, let them cool for a quick minute, and then put them into your food processor. Process until there are no chunks of cookie left, just crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk the bourbon and maple syrup into the cream cheese. Empty the cookie crumbs into a large mixing bowl, and add the cream cheese mixture. Mix until it’s fully incorporated.

Roll into golf ball sized balls and pop in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

To melt your chocolate, break the bar up into small pieces and put the pieces in a bowl. Pop the bowl in the microwave for a minute. Stir the chocolate. If it’s not completely melted yet, keep going in 15 second intervals stirring well in between each. It shouldn’t take more than 1 or 2 more hits.

Dip the bottom of your peanut buttery ball of goodness into the chocolate then transfer to a parchment paper lined tray. Let the chocolate harden and then store in the freezer until about 30 minutes before you’re serving them.

This should get you about 20 buckeyes. Adjust your amounts accordingly, but just a warning, everyone at your tailgate will be gobbling them up!

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Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I will preface this post with a disclaimer. These are not healthy cookies. I repeat. These are not healthy cookies. However, the original old family recipe was worse {health wise, taste wise they were phenominal}.  These at least have some fiber and there certain health benefits in dark chocolate {thank goodness}. However, they still have some refined sugar and they still have saturated fat, but, lets be honest, that’s what makes them taste so good.

And they are good. I have about 1,000 middle schoolers {and a few teachers} that will tell you how good they are. When I was teaching, I used a version of this recipe to test my middle schoolers on our measuring and food safety unit. On the first day of class, the most popular question was always “When are we making the cookies?” When the day came, they were giddy; some even brought milk to enjoy them with and all across the classroom a heard a chorus of “Mmmmm. These are so good.” So there you have it, from the mouths of babes.

To settle the inevitable conflict about who’s version of the English language is correct, the Kiwi and I have an agreement about cookies vs. biscuits. If its chewy and soft, its a cookie. If it breaks your teeth, its a biscuit. These, my friends are definitely cookies. And they are absolutely perfect with a glass of {soy} milk. Even better, make yourself an amazing ice cream sandwich. {Take a cookie and flip it over. Spoon a layer of frozen yogurt on it and then top it with another cookie. Freeze for at least 20 minutes.}

Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

{makes 9 big cookies}

The Dry
2/3 cup flour {I use whole wheat.}
2/3 cup oats
1/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped into chunks {I use 85%.}
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans, chopped {optional}
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

The Wet
¼ cup butter, melted
2 Tbsp veggie oil
¼ cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

In a large mixing bowl, measure the dry ingredients. Melt the butter in the microwave and add it, the veggie oil, honey and vanilla to the dry ingredients and mix it all together. Spoon onto a lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. When they are finished let cool for a bit to help improve their structural integrity {which the Kiwi questions}.

{substitutions}

For a fluffier and admittedly prettier cookie {see below}; in the same amounts, use all purpose flour instead of whole wheat and white sugar instead of the honey. While the whole wheat flour and the honey are less processed, they do make the cookie a bit dense and give the cookie a strong honey flavor. I love that flavor, but if you don’t, use the sugar!  The original version also used an egg instead of veggie oil, but for this amount of cookies you would need a half of an egg and thats just a pain.