Blueberry Cheesecake Homemade Ted’s Tarts

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

Anyone who knows me knows the story of how I met my husband, Gavin.

I worked at the most wonderful restaurant in D.C., Ted’s Bulletin.

I’d worked there since it opened in May 2010, when I’d first moved to D.C., in the role of server, then bartender, then host.

On the morning of September 10, 2011, I was working the host stand.

I was actually scheduled to serve that evening, but I told my friend, the manager, that I wanted to shift back to hosting, so she let me work the morning as host instead.

And I will never be able to repay her for that.

Because at around 10am that morning, the most beautiful man I’d ever laid eyes on walked into the restaurant, and my life would never be the same.

I remember two things distinctly about that morning:

1. For some unknown reason, there was only a 5 minute wait for brunch that morning. If you know Ted’s Bulletin, you know that the line for brunch on any given day — but especially on Saturday mornings — is at least an hour long. Why there was no line that morning remains a mystery. But I’m sure glad it was short, because Gavin’s since admitted that they probably would’ve gone elsewhere instead of waiting. Whew. Crisis averted.

2. Gavin was wearing an ice blue polo that day. I know this because when he walked in, I abandoned my host stand to run to the back and get all of the servers, managers, and kitchen staff to look at “the gorgeous guy who just walked in in the ice blue polo.” My goodness. Swoon.

When I composed myself and went up to take his name for a table, we struck up casual (Read: I was beside myself) conversation, and I discovered his grad school program shared the floor with mine at George Washington University.

(We also later realized that we’d met at a POLITICO event months earlier when I’d picked lint off his jacket as we waited for the elevator. Needless to say, he was not ready for Cara at that meeting. He gets me now. lol)

Anyway, the reason he was at Ted’s that morning was because 1. it was his birthday the next day, and 2. Ted’s makes the best biscuits and gravy in the entire city.

His parents were in town from Montana for the weekend, so he took them to the famous breakfast place.

(And yes, that means I got to meet his parents before our first date. I’d recommend this to anyone. Takes a whole lot of pressure of that official “first” meeting when you meet the parents before you meet the guy.)

Since it was his birthday, I decided to have his server, Sydney, bring Gavin a famous blueberry cheesecake Ted’s Tart with a candle in it.

…And I bet now you’re wondering how the heck we ended up here, married with a kid?

Well, as he was leaving, I abandoned my host stand once again (Sorry, customers!) and grabbed his arm. I printed out some receipt paper, wrote down my number, and handed it to him as he walked out.

He texted me a few hours later, and then the rest was history.

A history which has involved lots of love, sprinkles, and even a giant batch of mini Ted’s Tarts at our wedding, courtesy of the Ted’s Bulletin pastry chefs and management!

Needless to say, one of the hardest parts of leaving D.C. was saying goodbye to my beloved Ted’s.

This summer, I wanted to see if I could recreate their delicious pastry in my own kitchen. I was shocked to see how easily I could!

[Disclaimer: These are nowhere near as delicious as Ted’s’. In fact, no Pop Tart variation ever will be. That’s why they’re famous across the country. But these serve as a tasty comfort when you’re missing your D.C. extended family.]

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

Blueberry Cheesecake Homemade Ted’s Tart

To make this treat, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Pillsbury pre-made pie crust
Duncan Hines blueberry pie filling
Jell-O No Bake cheesecake filling (Filling only, no crust)
1 2/3 cup cold milk
1 egg (optional)
Parchment paper

Confectioner’s sugar
Milk

Rainbow sprinkles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, now bear with me as I reveal how insanely simple this is, and what a cheat of a “baker” I am.

**Remember: Assembly over oven.

…Although in this case you’ll need an oven, too.***

 

1. Speaking of, preheat your oven to 425 degrees

2. Make your Jell-O cheesecake mix

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

Mix the Jell-O filling with 1 2/2 cups milk until thick. Then, put that sucker in refrigerator Time Out while you whip up the shells.

3. To make the crusts, start by taking one of the pre-made pie crusts out of the box (each box contains two — woo!)

4. Unroll the pie crust onto a flat surface and use a rolling pin to flatten it into a thin layer

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

5. Cut the crust into rectangles in the size your prefer

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

I’ve made these in ‘normal Pop Tart size’ as well as ‘mini Pop Tart size,’ and both worked flawlessly, so the size is up to you. They don’t have to be perfect, either. Because who wants to eat a perfect Pop Tart, amiright? (Answer: Anyone who likes original Pop Tarts lol)

6. Lay the rectangles onto a parchment paper-lined pan

7. Take your cheesecake filling out of the refrigerator (it should be Jell-O consistency, and solid-ish to the touch)

8. Put a dollop of cheesecake onto each rectangle

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

Keep in mind that you’ll need to shut the top layer of the tart, so don’t go overboard. But know that if you do, your tart will still shut, and it will be no less delicious either way!

9. Then, add half a spoonful or so of blueberry pie filling on top of the cheesecake filling

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

If you’re going Ted’s all the way, you’ll use fresh blueberries instead of blueberry pie filling. But I never want to see my waistline again, so…

10. Next, unroll the second piece of pre-made pie crust from the box onto a flat surface and repeat steps 4 and 5

11. Take each newly rolled rectangle and lay it onto the filling-covered crusts on the tray

12. Then, use a fork to ‘crimp’ the sides so they seal

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

Don’t be alarmed if some of your filling oozes out – That happens! Just make sure you seal thoroughly, since otherwise your layers won’t connect and you’ll end up with more of a sandwich than a tart.

13. If you want, use a brush to add a little eggwash (legit just a beaten egg) onto the tops of your tarts

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

This will give them the lovely brown and crisp we love in pies!

14. Place your tray in the preheated oven for about 7-10 minutes for regular sizes, and about 4-5 minutes for mini tarts

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

15. While your tarts are heating, you can prepare your simple icing

Simply combine confectioners’ sugar and milk until the consistency is about that of toothpaste. It should be liquid and run, but it shouldn’t dribble right off the spoon.

16. Once your tarts are a nice golden brown, pull them from the oven and let them cool completely

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

17. Then, paint them with your icing and add sprinkles to taste

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

Ted’s uses a lovely blue and purple mix on their blueberry cheesecake tarts, but I had a bunch of rainbows lying around, so I opted for those.

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

And with that, you’re done!

These things won’t taste quite like a Ted’s Tart, but dang it feels good to have them back in my life again!

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

If you’re ever visiting D.C. or the area, make sure you go to Ted’s Bulletin. Seriously. You will NOT be disappointed. And you might even end up meeting the love of your life!

xoxo,

Cara

Blueberry Cheesecake Ted's Tarts © Politics to PlayDoh

Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Chili Sea Salt Pop Rock Bark

Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Bark - Politics to PlayDoh

Post contains affiliate links.

Did you read that title?

I mean, how much can you pack into a plate of chocolate bark?

Well, my friends, a lot. 

A few months ago, my coworker mentioned to me that there’s a place in St. George, Utah, that sells spicy Pop Rock chocolate bars, but that they’re really expensive for chocolate.

My response? Challenge accepted.

In no time, I’d whipped up a decadent treat that packs a real punch: Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Chili Sea Salt Pop Rock Bark.

Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Bark - Politics to PlayDoh

Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Chile Sea Salt Pop Rock Bark

This treat is seriously so easy, you’ll wonder why you’ve never put it together before!

First, gather your ingredients:

 

2 bags dark chocolate chips (or your meltable dark chocolate of choice)

Dash of ground cayenne pepper

Sea salt

2 packets Pop Rocks

Parchment paper

 

Easy!

Now for the ‘hard’ part.

 

1. First, line a pan with parchment paper

I use a pan that’s as shallow as I’d like my bark, for reference.

 

2. Next, melt your chocolate

You can use the double boil process, or you can pour your chips into a glass microwaveable bowl and pop that little guy in the microwave until melted.

 

3. Then, pour your chocolate onto your parchment paper

Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Bark - Politics to PlayDoh

 

4. Add cayenne, sea salt, and Pop Rocks to the top, to your liking

I found that initially I hadn’t added nearly enough cayenne (even for me!), so keep in mind that the dark chocolate will oftentimes overpower any spices on it. I ended up dumping more on afterwards lol.

Also, the Pop Rocks can often get wet and begin to melt in the chocolate, making them unpoppable. One solution would be to wait until the chocolate has almost hardened before you add them to the top.

As always, this is all to taste! So pile it on or sprinkle it around — You can’t mess up dark chocolate!

Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Bark - Politics to PlayDoh

5. Then, refrigerate for a few hours

6. Once it’s nice and solid, break that bugger into a million pieces

I like to fold the parchment paper over the slab and then pound it with my fist. I feel like this is more humane than just beating it to a pulp without the cover? Right? I mean, chocolate has feelings, too, you guys…

7. Voila! Sweet and spicy chocolate chili sea salt Pop Rock bark!

Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Bark - Politics to PlayDoh

Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Bark - Politics to PlayDoh

Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Bark - Politics to PlayDoh

Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Bark - Politics to PlayDoh

Are you a fan of spicy? Or are you like me: You’ve gotta cover spicy with sweet to tolerate it!

 

xoxo

Cara

Shark Week “You’re FIN-tastic” Popcorn Beach Bucket

Shark Week "You're FIN-tastic" Popcorn Beach Bucket - Politics to PlayDoh

Post contains affiliate links.

Welp, it’s here.

Shark Week is upon us like a Great White on a surfer in the Pacific.

[shudder]

I don’t know about you, but I don’t do animals.

Snakes? NOPE.

Spiders? NOPE.

Sharks? NOPE.

Alligators? BIG NOPE.

I mean, you just can’t reason with them, ya know? If they’re gonna eat you, they’re gonna eat you. There ain’t no pleading with them.

I think that’s pretty unfair, if you ask me.

Nonetheless, people are fascinated by sharks. And Shark Week has become a present-day cult classic, especially among my contemporaries.

So, I figured I’d make a little something to accompany any Shark Week-watching that goes on in my house this year.

Because I don’t know about you, but I eat my fear.

That means popcorn.

And what better to put your popcorn in than a cute bucket that makes sharks a wee bit less intimidating! I present: The Shark Week “You’re FIN-tastic” Popcorn Beach Bucket.

Shark Week “You’re FIN-tastic” Popcorn Beach Bucket

This guy was SUPER easy to make.

I just (compulsively) grabbed a $1.49 mini bucket from my local grocery store, but you can find adorable pail-and-shovel combos on Amazon for $1 each.

Shark Week "You're FIN-tastic" Popcorn Beach Bucket - Politics to PlayDoh

(Yes, I acknowledge the irony in beach buckets during Shark Week…because when I’m watching TV this week, the beach is the last place I want to be.)

I then created this super fun cut file.

Shark Week "You're FIN-tastic" Popcorn Beach Bucket - Politics to PlayDoh

I printed it on my Cricut, affixed it to my bucket, and voila! Adorable Shark Week “You’re FIN-tastic” Popcorn Beach Bucket!

Shark Week "You're FIN-tastic" Popcorn Beach Bucket - Politics to PlayDoh

Shark Week "You're FIN-tastic" Popcorn Beach Bucket - Politics to PlayDoh

Fill it with popcorn, Swedish Fish, gummi sharks, salt water taffy, and other goodies, and enjoy the week!

Shark Week "You're FIN-tastic" Popcorn Beach Bucket - Politics to PlayDoh

By the end of the week, one thing will be clear: You’re gonna need a bigger stomach.

xoxo

Cara

 

Easy-Assemble Salted Caramel Snickers Ice Cream Cake

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDohPost contains affiliate links.

My parents have a house in North Carolina, and it’s one of my favorite places in the world.

Years ago, their neighbors (my son’s wonderful godparents) hosted a little get-together and invited the folks in the neighborhood to join. Everyone brought a side dish or dessert.

For the most part, we covered all of the basics: Potato salad, seven layer dips, mac ‘n cheese, that green stuff rabbits eat (I’m told it’s called ‘regular salad’?)…

But one woman brought something I will never forget: Ice cream cake.

I love me some sugar, and I’ve been around the gumdrop block a time or two, but this was a level of delightfulness I’d had yet to experience.

It was seriously the best ice cream cake I’ve ever tasted.

And then came the finale: She showed me how she’d made it.

You guys, when I say “mind blown,” this is the conversation that comes to, well, mind.

Maybe I was just naive. Maybe this had been done before. Who knows.

But what I did know was that I had to make this cake.

 

…Fast-forward a decade.

Here I am, checking this long-awaited treat off my To Do List – finally.

And guys, it was so worth the wait. (Ask my neighbor, Aleisha, to confirm).

So now I am sharing with you all the super simple steps to assemble this delectable summer ice cream treat.

Easy-Assemble Salted Caramel Snickers Ice Cream Cake

First off, as always, let’s start with the ingredients.

Hold tight, this one’s a doozy! (Not. Obviously. lol.)

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

 

20ish Snickers ice cream bars (If a few “disappear” on their way to the pan, oh well)

1 dozen ice cream sandwiches

2-gallon tub of vanilla ice cream

Caramel sauce

Chocolate sauce

Snickers bars, chopped OR 1 pack Snickers unwrapped bites

Planters Salted Caramel Peanuts

Reynolds parchment paper

1 3-inch deep disposable pan (Or any pan you want, really. Just try to make it deep)

 

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

Now comes the fun part!

1. Line your pan with parchment paper (for easy, mess-free removal).

2. Place your ice cream sandwiches, unwrapped but intact, in the pan.

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

3. Cover the sandwiches in a layer of vanilla ice cream.

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

4. Drizzle caramel and chocolate sauce over the ice cream, and sprinkle with peanuts and Snickers pieces.

(You can use any type of sauce; I choose Smucker’s Toppings because I love that they’re ooey gooey and warm, and I can refrigerate and reuses again and again!)

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

5. On top of your ice cream, add a layer of Snickers ice cream bars.

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

6. Cover this layer with vanilla ice cream, as well.

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

7. Drizzle with caramel and chocolate sauces, and sprinkle with peanuts and the remaining Snickers pieces.

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

8. Cover the entire treat with parchment paper and place it in the freezer for an hour …or until you can’t take the anticipation any longer!

9. Remove the pan and slice and serve!

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

 

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

Voila! A delicious, hassle-free ice cream cake, ready in moments and so delicious you’ll wonder how you’ve lived without it!

 

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

The best part of this treat? You can layer and layer to your heart’s content! Add ice cream sandwiches or Snickers bars until you can’t layer no more!

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

What’s your go-to summer dessert? And have you heard of these Salted Caramel Peanuts before?? I stumbled upon them in the grocery store and had to incorporate them into this perfect nutty caramel deliciousness!

Snickers Ice Cream Cake - Politics to PlayDoh

xoxo

Cara

 

Candy Land Game Night Birthday Party

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

I love Game Night.

Back East, this would’ve been considered laughable and childish; but we discovered very quickly that a number of people in Utah value bonding experience over a solid game of charades just as much as we do.

So we’ve made it a regular thing in our home and neighborhood.

I look forward to Game Night every month (or more), which is why I wanted to incorporate it into my 31st birthday party.

Now, I’m not one to celebrate every birthday (although I did have a fun and flirty 30th), but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share Game Night with a few fresh new faces.

So I racked my brain and opted for a Candy Land-themed Game Night birthday party.

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

Candy Land Game Night Birthday Party

If there’s one hobby I love most in this world, next to singing and dancing, it’s entertaining.

We haven’t had our yard installed yet, but once we do, I plan to entertain every week, if I can find people looking to be entertained.

For this party in particular, I didn’t have a lot of time to prep, what with summer travel out the wazoo. But I came up with a few fun and easy additions that’ll make any Candy Land-themed celebration a hit.

1. Candy

This is an obvious one, but having a fun assortment of candy is critical to a good Candy Land party.

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

At first, I wanted to stay true to the game and include each of the spaces on the Candy Land board, but I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in all of humanity who actually enjoys licorice… And ice cream can get a bit messy.

So I scrapped that and went for the common candy theme.

You can buy bulk candy on Amazon or Party City, and Etsy always has adorable personalizations for all your party decor.

My go-to candy theme candies are:

Old Fasioned Candy Sticks

Rock Candy Sticks

Mike n Ikes

Sprinkles in a jar

Candy necklaces

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

Anything that’ll help your guests relive their colorful childhoods will do the trick!

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

 

2. Drinks

I like fun punch options for candy-themed parties. For this one, I did a basic Crystal Light pink lemonade mixed with Sprite.

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

To get your fruit to stay grouped well and to sit on top of your beverage, I like to fill my pitcher a third of the way with ice and then layer on lemon slices and strawberries. I then mix my concoction in a separate container so that the powder is completely dissolved, and then I pour it over the ice mixture.

This way, the solids rise to the top instead of awkwardly floating around in the liquid.

To add flair to your drinks, include nostalgic rock candy stick ‘stirrers’ or cotton candy toppers to the glasses.

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

You can also grab a few variations of bright, colorful drinks for the folks who plan to get their sugar kick from the hard candy.

I opted for these adorable watermelon sparkling waters, which can be found at any Target or local grocery store!

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

They fit perfectly with the bright color scheme!

 

3. Food

Creativity is key when it comes to Candy Land-themed food.

Since I didn’t have a lot of time to plan, I couldn’t come up with a lot of creative options, so I went for bite-sized instead.

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

We did mini sliders, mini corn dogs, and chicken parmesan lollipops. (Get it??)

And can we talk about these tiny champagne grapes?? I picked up these cuties at my local Trader Joe’s.

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

Anything that’s colorful will also incorporate nicely into the theme.

Oh, and I did a little Boom Chicka Pop sweet and salty kettle corn popcorn in fun popcorn boxes to keep Game Night fun!

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

(You guys, these are cupcakes!!)

4. Cake

If this is a birthday party, you’ve gotta make sure your cake matches the theme!

I completely ran out of time before I could finish mine, but the goal is COLOR COLOR COLOR and CANDY CANDY CANDY!

So use several colored dyes in the mix to make it pop, and then consider dyeing your icing for that extra oomph. (I’d planned to dye my icing a light blue and then accent it with sprinkles and candy).

Add lots of rainbow sprinkles, and top with candy as desired!

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

5. Decor

Next, decorate to the candy max with this theme.

Keys for my party were confetti balloons, confetti garland, confetti bunting, and colors upon colors upon colors.

I also included old fashioned lollipops anywhere I could. I put some in vases on coffee and side tables, and I put a few ‘bunches’ in bud vases on my dining room table.

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

It gives the whole room a colorful pop!

For even more fun, try to leave a few of your confetti garlands on the counter amidst the treats — the dots look just like your childhood Candy Land board!

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

6. Games

Finally, don’t forget the games!

Some of our favorites are:

Catch Phrase

Heads Up

Pass the Popcorn

Pictionary

Charades

Candyland Game Night Party - Politics to PlayDoh

Overall, I think we all had a blast channeling our inner child and celebrating through games, friends, and color!

Would you consider throwing a Candy Land-themed party for your next birthday? If so, what fun, colorful options would you add??

 

xoxo

 

Cara

 

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mints - Politics to PlayDoh

Post contains affiliate links.

Be honest. How much do you hate solicitors? Scale of 1 to Get Off My Lawn?

BUT do you change your tune REAL fast when said solicitors are 4 feet tall and clad in green and brown and rainbows?

Yeah, I’m talkin’ Girl Scouts. And I don’t think a single American can claim dislike for these little fairy-like creatures, frolicking through neighborhoods and office cubicles delivering magical sugary goodness.

Girl Scout cookie season, unfortunately, comes but several times a year, and there’s no established time frame for it. It always seems to appear out of nowhere, amiright?

Suddenly, Sally-down-the-hall is shuffling around the order form for cookie boxes, and in seconds your wallet is empty and your pantry is full.

But the anticipation is almost too much to take.

So I created a quick-and-easy copycat recipe for the ever-elusive Thin Mint cookies, perfect for the off-season when the cravings really take their toll.

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mints - Politics to PlayDoh

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mints - Politics to PlayDoh

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mints - Politics to PlayDoh

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies

These things are easy as pie…Er, cookies.

First, you’ll want to gather your ingredients.

 

1 bag of Mint Oreos

CandiQuik chocolate melts (or any dark chocolate)

Andes Mint Pieces (if desired)

 

That’s literally all, you guys!

CandiQuik chocolate is seriously the most magical candy-making accessory for those times when you just don’t have the time or energy to double boil chocolate chips into chocolate.

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mints - Politics to PlayDoh

You just pop this little guy into the microwave for a few minutes and voila! Dippable chocolate!

(The instructions tell you 1. Microwave for 1 minute, and 2. Do NOT overheat, but I’ve never gotten the thing to melt with fewer than 2 minutes.)

Once you’ve microwaved your chocolate, just dip your Oreos in it until they’re completely coated, and then allow to dry.

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mints - Politics to PlayDoh

*CandiQuick only takes a few moments to dry, so if you add accoutrements like Andes Mint Pieces to the top, you’ll have to move a little to get them to stick.

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mints - Politics to PlayDoh

And then you’re seriously done, you guys. That’s all it takes to create these delectable treats!

And they taste just like Thin Mints!

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mints - Politics to PlayDoh

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mints - Politics to PlayDoh

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mints - Politics to PlayDoh

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mints - Politics to PlayDoh

These little yummies will deliver rich, minty goodness to your mouth until little angels can deliver the real thing to your door.

 

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mints - Politics to PlayDoh

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mints - Politics to PlayDoh

 

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mints - Politics to PlayDoh

Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mints - Politics to PlayDoh

What’s your all-time favorite Girl Scout cookie? (And do you call them by the old names or those funky new ones?)

xoxo

Cara

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

 

Sometimes I’m an impulse shopper.

Unless you ask my husband. In which case “sometimes” turns into “always”.

[Shrug.]

We were in Costco the other week, and I decided I needed the 48 oz. tub of cream cheese in the dairy aisle.

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

Had we bought bagels? No.

Was I making cream cheese icing? No.

Was there literally any reason for me to buy a vat of creamed cheese? Nope.

But there I was, an hour later, standing in my kitchen wondering what the heck I was doing with a military supply of dairy.

I needed a way to get rid of at least, say, half of this thing – and fast.

Immediately, I remembered my Christmas cookie fiasco where I’d accidentally used a cookie swap book to make “some” peanut butter cookies, and ended up with 300 PB treats covering my kitchen counters.

Cookies.

I shall make cookies.

So I got to work cobbling together whatever ingredients I had hanging around that also needed getting rid of.

I found the basic ingredients from a recipe online, but expanded upon and modified it to use up the list of pantry items I needed to do away with. What I came up with were delectable and Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies.

I then decided that our Fourth of July neighborhood parade and potluck would be the perfect excuse to make a boatload of them, so I tripled the ingredients.

This recipe will yield you about 20 cookies, but if you triple it like I did, you’ll get around 40-60 cookies, depending on how small you make them. I ended up with about 40 (after my husband and son pecked away at them).

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

First off, you’ll need your ingredients:

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

4 oz cream cheese 

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (Room temperature)

1 egg

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 3/4 Almond flour (You can use All-Purpose if you don’t want the almond taste)

1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

3 cups granulated or cane sugar

Parchment paper

*Don’t preheat your oven yet, because once you’ve combined your ingredients, you’ll need to let the dough chill in the fridge for a bit.

 

1. Combine the butter and cream cheese until smooth

2. Add the egg, and mix until smooth

3. Fold in confectioners sugar, baking powder, and vanilla extract until mixed

4. Add flour until mixed

5. Cover and put your mixture into the fridge for 15 minutes to an hour (I’ve done both, and either works. You just want to be able to manipulate the dough without it sticking to your fingers.)

6. Preheat your oven to 375°

7. Once your dough is chilled, remove it from the fridge

8. Roll 1-inch pieces of dough in your hands until spherical in shape

9. Then, roll each ball into the granulated or cane sugar on a small plate until completely coated

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

(This is also helpful if your dough begins to melt and you need to keep it from sticking to your fingers as you roll. If you coat it in sugar, it will form a barrier between the dough and your fingers.)

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

10. Next, place the dough balls onto a parchment paper-lined pan, roughly 1 inch apart

 

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

11. Once the pan is covered in dough balls, use a spoon to press the balls into flattened circles, creating a dip in the top upon which to layer sprinkles

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

 

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

12. Sprinkle granulated or cane sugar onto the tops of the dough

13. Then, add sprinkles to the impressions in the dough

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

 

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

14. Bake for roughly 15 minutes, or until a slight brown begins to appear on the undersides of the cookies

15. Finally, remove the cookies from the oven, let cool on the pan, and enjoy!

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

A fun variation I also discovered was to add your sprinkles to the dough itself before you form it into balls. This adds a pop of color to your cookie!

 

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

Easy Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - Politics to PlayDoh

What fun uses have you found for cream cheese? Also, is Costco dangerous or what??

 

xoxo

Cara

 

 

4th of July Star-Spangled Jell-O Sparkler Treats

4th of July Jell-O Sparkler Treats - Politics to PlayDoh

Post contains affiliate links.

 

How many Fourth of July BBQs have you been invited to this year? Does it seem like you scramble every year for a dessert that will wow guests with its patriotic pizzazz?

Well, have I got a surprise for you.

Remember that one time we made Red White & Blue July Fourth Jell-O Bites together?

I’m back to show you how to make those even more patriotic: Your basic Jell-O recipe, but with a star-spangled twist!

 

 

4th of July Jell-O Sparkler Treats - Politics to PlayDoh

4th of July Jell-O Sparkler Treats - Politics to PlayDoh

4th of July Jell-O Sparkler Treats - Politics to PlayDoh

If you’re really into festive Jell-O, but you like your desserts to match your décor (I’m with ya there), then 4th of July Star-Spangled Jell-O Sparkler Treats are the dessert for you!

 

4th of July Star-Spangled Jell-O Sparkler Treats

What’s great about this dessert is that it’s the exact same thing as the Red White & Blue July Fourth Jell-O Bites recipe, but you replace the cold water with cold Sprite. (Or ginger ale. Anything that sparkles!)

4th of July Jell-O Sparkler Treats - Politics to PlayDoh

 

You’ll prep and layer everything the same way.

And you’ll use the exact same ingredients (plus the ‘sparkle’), but add a small star cookie cutter to the equation. (Sometimes a simple addition can make all the difference, amiright?)

4th of July Jell-O Sparkler Treats - Politics to PlayDoh

4th of July Jell-O Sparkler Treats - Politics to PlayDoh

The steps? You guessed it! The same as the Red White & Blue Jell-O Bites recipe, too!

 

First, make your blue layer.

Boil 1 cup of water and mix it with your Jell-O contents.

Once all of the powder is dissolved, add 1 packet of Knox unflavored gelatin.

Stir until completely dissolved. (See No. 1 below).

Add 2 cups cold water to the mixture and stir until completely dissolved.

Pour into pan and refrigerate for an hour.

 

Once the first layer is set, begin making the white layer.

Combine one 14 oz. can of unsweetened condensed milk with 1 cup boiling water, and stir until smooth.

Mix the Knox gelatin with 1 cup boiling water until dissolved.

Pour cold mixture into hot mixture and stir until combined.

Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes.

Pour white mixture onto solid blue mixture in refrigerated pan.

Refrigerate for an hour.

 

For your red layer, follow the same instructions you used for the blue layer, but use red Jell-O mix instead.

 

After your Jell-O has refrigerated for an hour or two (check it with your finger to see if it bounces back at your touch), remove it from the fridge.

Cut out star-shaped pieces using a star cookie cutter. (I use a small one because it makes for an easier and less floppy bite!)

4th of July Jell-O Sparkler Treats - Politics to PlayDoh

4th of July Jell-O Sparkler Treats - Politics to PlayDoh

Add these firecrackers to your holiday this year, and see friends and family giggle and wiggle with a little Jell-O jiggle.

After all, isn’t that what America is all about?

#America

 

xoxo

 

Cara

 

 

 

Red White & Blue July Fourth Jell-O Bites

Red White and Blue Jell-O - Politics to PlayDoh

Post contains affiliate links.

 

Jell-O Say Can You See

By the Frigidaire light

What so wiggly they dance

As they move toward my belly

 

Okay, so my word smithing isn’t what it used to be. That doesn’t mean I can’t make a mean Jell-O treat!

And you can thank your lucky stars (pun!) that I’ve got the perfect fix for your 4th of July sweet tooth.

That’s right, Red White & Blue July Fourth Jell-O Bites!

Red White and Blue 4th of July Jell-O - Politics to PlayDoh

Red White & Blue July Fourth Jell-O Bites

These little guys are super cute and festive, but even better? They look fancy as a firework, but they’re incredibly simple to make!

Begin with your ingredients:

 

1 box blue Jell-O (I use Berry Blue)

1 box red Jell-O (I use Cherry)

1 box/4 packets unflavored gelatin (I use Knox – This stuff is MAGIC)

1 can/14 oz. unsweetened condensed milk

6 cups cold water

3 cups boiling water

 

And now the easy part!

First, line your pan with plastic wrap to make removal easier at the end.

 

Then, make your blue layer.

Boil 1 cup of water and mix it with your Jell-O contents.

Once all of the powder is dissolved, add 1 packet of Knox unflavored gelatin.

Stir until completely dissolved. (See No. 1 below).

Add 2 cups cold water to the mixture and stir until completely dissolved.

Pour into pan and refrigerate for an hour.

 

Once the first layer is set, begin making the white layer.

Combine one 14 oz. can of unsweetened condensed milk with 1 cup boiling water, and stir until smooth.

Mix the Knox gelatin with 1 cup boiling water until dissolved.

Pour cold mixture into hot mixture and stir until combined.

Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes.

Pour white mixture onto solid blue mixture in refrigerated pan.

Refrigerate for an hour.

 

For your red layer, follow the same instructions you used for the blue layer, but use red Jell-O mix instead.

 

After your Jell-O has refrigerated for an hour or two (check it with your finger to see if it bounces back at your touch), remove it from the fridge.

Slice the tray longways and shortways, and then use a spatula to remove the pieces.

And voila! You’ve got super fun (and easy) Red White and Blue 4th of July Jell-O Bites!

Red White and Blue Jell-O - Politics to PlayDoh

Red White and Blue Jell-O - Politics to PlayDoh

Red White and Blue Jell-O - Politics to PlayDoh

They also make super cute holiday gift for that 4th of July host or hostess. Just pack ’em in a mason jar and tie a patriotic ribbon around it. #Amurica

Red White and Blue Jell-O - Politics to PlayDoh

Red White and Blue Jell-O - Politics to PlayDoh

 

I’ve seen this treat made over the years, and I’ve learned the following important tips to help make your Jell-O bites come out perfect and sturdy:

  1. Make sure the Knox gelatin is completely dissolved before adding the cold water. If you add the cold water too soon, the gelatin powder will clump and you’ll end up with rock hard pieces in your smooth and wiggly Jell-O. Ain’t nobody got time for crunchy Jell-O!
  2. Add the Knox gelatin to every layer. I made this once and forgot to add it to the blue (bottom) layer, and when I lifted the squares out of the pan, the runny blue layer just melted away and I was left with a treat more appropriate for Valentine’s Day than the 4th of July.
  3. Put your pan in the fridge before you pour your liquid Jell-O into it. I don’t have to say much more to give you a visual of what it looked like with my hubby and I doing a tightrope circus routine trying to carrying a shallow pan full of scalding hot liquid gelatin Red Dye #40 across the kitchen. Red Jell-O and white rugs should never meet. Pour each layer straight into the pan as it sits on your fridge shelf. You’ll thank me, and so will your floors.
  4. Let each mixture cool a bit before you pour it onto the next layer of the pan. If you pour boiling hot liquid Jell-O onto a set layer of Jell-O, it has the potential to melt the layer underneath, resulting in disrupted lines in the final product.
  5. You can use plastic wrap on the pan or not. I tried it because I love the Ruby Technique (Great British Baking Show reference!) of pulling your dessert straight out of the pan and working from there, but it’s totally not necessary. I’d probably line the pan with some oil, though, just to keep your Jell-O from sticking.

And that’s all she wrote! America!

 

xoxo

 

Cara

Peanut Butter Maple Bacon Waffles

PB Maple Baco Waffles - Politics to PlayDoh

Post contains affiliate links.

 

Father’s Day just passed, and I don’t know about you, but holidays tend to revolve around one thing in this household: Food. 

For Father’s Day this year, I wanted to make my hubby something super manly so he’d know how much I appreciate all he does to provide for our family.

Naturally, I chose waffles.

 

But not just any waffles.

I needed something with pizzazz. With oomph. With machismo.

I needed peanut butter maple bacon waffles.

 

Peanut Butter Maple Bacon Waffles

I’m not gonna lie to you, I got the inspiration for these bad boys from none other than my favorite restaurant, Ted’s Bulletin, which offers a Peanut Butter Bacon Burger — a customer favorite, Ted’s Bulletin classic, and the manliest item on the menu.

These little guys are not only super manly, but they’re also delicious and almost too easy to make!

To whip these little men up, you’ll need the following ingredients:

PB Maple Baco Waffles - Politics to PlayDoh

 

(Clockwise in photo from left)

2 eggs

1 package of bacon

2 cups flour

1/2 cup oil (vegetable or canola)

1 tablespoon sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Maple syrup (My favorite is Skinny Sticks)

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

1 cup peanut butter

Dash waffle maker

 

Once you’ve assembled your ingredients, it’s time to get things heated up in the kitchen.

Since it takes approximately 2 minutes for each waffle to cook in the Dash waffle maker, you’ll want to get your bacon started first.

You can either cook your bacon in a pan on the stovetop like I grew up doing or you can do it like my hubby and his family do and nuke it in the microwave.

To nuke bacon, simply line a microwaveable plate with a paper towel, lay bacon strips on top, and cover with a second paper towel. Microwave for 5-6 minutes, and voila! Perfectly cooked bacon!

If you or your hubby prefer your bacon a bit more crispy, stick to the frying pan.

Either way, you’ll want to get your bacon started before you begin mixing ingredients.

Once your bacon’s cooking, combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder) in one bowl and your wet ingredients (eggs, vanilla, milk, oil) in another. Mix both and then pour the wet contents into the dry bowl. Mix again until all lumps have dissolved. Add a pinch or two of cinnamon for flavor.

(If you or your hubby really like peanut butter, now’s a good time to throw a bit into the batter. It’ll give your waffles an extra peanut buttery taste.)

Once your contents are mixed, you can begin pouring into your waffle maker.

Using a Dash mini waffle maker, I can’t tell you how easy it is to pull off the perfect pint-sized waffle.

Simply pour four spoonfuls of batter onto the maker, close the lid, and in 1-2 minutes you have a perfect, fluffy, bite-sized waffle!

PB Maple Baco Waffles - Politics to PlayDoh

PB Maple Baco Waffles - Politics to PlayDoh

Continue making waffles until all of the batter is gone. This recipe should yield approximately 13 mini waffles, which is the perfect amount for your special man and his littles. (Or, if you’re my family, it’s the perfect size for you…and maybe you’ll share one with the man of honor. But also maybe not.)

PB Maple Baco Waffles - Politics to PlayDoh

While I’m stacking my waffles, I like to add a special surprise between some of the layers. Plus, peanut butter helps affix the waffles to each other, and keeps them from toppling. Win win!

PB Maple Baco Waffles - Politics to PlayDoh

When all of your waffles are ready, add one more dollop of peanut butter to the top, drizzle with maple syrup, and lay a few pieces of bacon on the top for texture and kick. (You can also layer bacon strips between the waffle layers if you wanna get real adventurous!)

PB Maple Baco Waffles - Politics to PlayDoh

 

You can obviously use any waffle you’d like, but I think these Dash waffle makers give you the best waffles. Plus, who doesn’t like pint-sized anything?? They’re also easy to store and they come in a bunch of adorable colors! Follow my Instagram account @Politics_to_PlayDoh, where I’ll be giving away a brand new Dash waffle maker to a lucky follower!

PB Maple Baco Waffles - Politics to PlayDoh

PB Maple Baco Waffles - Politics to PlayDoh

PB Maple Baco Waffles - Politics to PlayDoh

PB Maple Baco Waffles - Politics to PlayDoh

What’s your favorite kind of waffle? (Mine is strawberries and whipped cream, always. But I’ll throw some sprinkles on there to keep it colorful.) Have you ever tried peanut butter and bacon together on anything else?

xoxo

Cara