10 Cupcakes That Will Make You Look Like a Professional Baker

 
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Whoever invented cupcakes, THANK YOU!!! Cupcakes are one of the first things I made as a child. It was easy to take a cake mix and mix it up and spoon it into those little muffin tins. AND, it was much easier to put icing on a cupcake than an entire cake when I was 8 years old!

Well, cupcakes are BIG now. There are so many specialty bakeries and specialty cupcakes being made, that some people say a yellow cupcake with chocolate icing seems mediocre. But, I don’t think so. Do you know how many cupcake recipes are out there?

A bunch! And, I really haven't found a cupcake that I don't like....

So, I rounded up some of the best cupcakes floating around the internet and the ones that kind of take you back to the basics. Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, chocolate chip....and so on. I promise that once you get through looking at these, you'll be just like me and want to go make some!! AND, they are beautiful. You get to trying to make these and you will look like you ordered these up from the bakery!

1. Lemon Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Icing

2. Simple Vanilla Cupcakes

3. Unicorn Cupcakes

4. Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

5. Reese's Peanut Butter Cupcakes

6. Berry Filled Cupcakes

7. Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

8. Simple S'Mores Cupcakes

9. Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

10. The Most Amazing Chocolate Cupcakes

Did seeing all of these cupcakes make you want cupcakes too? I think any of these recipes would be easy to make and you could take them to any gathering or make them just for fun! I promise, if you made any of these, people would be asking for the recipe. So hit the store and gather your ingredients and get to baking!

Happy Cupcake Baking,

Jennifer

Quick and Easy King Cake Bites for any Mardi Gras Celebration!

 
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Have you ever been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans? When I was in college, I lived one hour away from New Orleans and I never went....I think my dad wouldn't let me because he always thinks something terrible was going to happen me…..(now as a parent I understan!). Anyway, no matter where you live in Louisiana, we all love to celebrate Mardi Gras!

Do you have any idea what Mardi Gras even is??? Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, refers to the carnival celebration beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany and ending on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday", meaning it's the last night to eat rich, fatty foods before fasting for Lent.

Modern day Mardi Gras is about music, parades, beads and king cake! People wear the colors of Mardi Gras purple, green and gold. And, these colors have a meaning. The purple represent justice, the green represents faith, and the gold represents power. There are purple, green and gold beads, cups, shirts, pants, shoes, wreaths, shoes....you name it, they have it.

Throws and beads are also a big part of Mardi Gras. During Mardi Gras parades, different Krewes would throw trinkets and beads with their emblem on it. These are coveted prizes and you will see many people FIGHTING over good beads, big beads, even a little plastic cup!


Masks and Beads

Masks were worn in the beginning to cover your face and let you be whoever you wanted to be. Rich or poor, socialite or not, you could be anyone under that mask and no one would know who you were. Masks are still worn today at Mardi Gras and add an element of mystery. Mardi Gras is the largest masked party in North America.


King Cakes

King Cakes and Mardi Gras just go together! But why king cake? According to tradition, Jesus first showed himself to the three wise men and to the world on January 6th, the Epiphany. This is the day that Mardi Gras season and king cake season start. Each cake has a tiny baby inside, and whoever gets the piece of cake with the baby inside, has to bring the next king cake to the party or office! Which, is the point of this whole post!


King Cakes started out as braided rings of dough with purple, green and gold sugar toppings. Over time, they have become quite extravagant. The fillings and toppings come in various flavors and there are so many choices now, it's hard to decide which one is best! So, I thought I'd share with you a recipe of King Cake Bites! I love King Cake, but I don't like the sticky mess of cutting it and serving it or the bulky box that it comes in. So these bites are perfect. You can literally pick them up and bite them, or eat them with a spoon or a fork. You still have the option to fill it with any filling you would like (I used cream cheese), but people put strawberry, chocolate, even pecan praline filling in their King Cakes. My family doesn't like any filling and they like it more like a cinnamon roll, but I love the cream cheese. So this was the PERFECT excuse for me to make some with cream cheese!


And, in my true simple fashion, this recipe has 5 ingredients. Yep, I said 5!

The first thing I did was take the crescent rolls and take two triangles and press them together to make a rectangle.

 
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In a bowl, I combined softened cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice and beat it with an electric mixer. This is my filling. This is where you could get super creative and fill it however you would like. Sprinkle each rectangle with some cinnamon, and then put a small line of filling down the center of the rectangle.

 
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Gently fold the rectangle lengthwise and then cut it into bite size pieces. Place the smaller pieces seam side down on a baking sheet and bake 13-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Let them slightly cool.

 
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Mix the rest of the powdered sugar and the milk, and spread it on top of each of the bites. Then sprinkle colored (purple, green and gold) sugar on each small square.

 
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Do these not look delicious AND easy?? And, not messy when it's time to eat them. These would be perfect for a school party, office party, or even a family gathering. Everyone brings King Cakes, why not be different and bring some King Cake Squares?!

AND, ok, my family doesn’t like cream cheese AT ALL…and my hubby doesn’t like the glaze either…he is not a sweet eater…which is why we get along so well….because I get all the sweets! Anyway, got off course AGAIN!!!

For them, I made some King Cake Bites that were just butter and cinnamon….

 
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**I have linked the products that I use below the recipe!

Yield: 32 servings

King Cake Bites

These King Cake Bites are PERFECT for any gathering and are quick and easy to make! Kids love to help make them and to eat them and you can customize them with any filling that you would like!

prep time: 15 minscook time: total time: 15 mins

ingredients:

King Cake Bites
  • 1 - 8 oz block cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls
Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 9 Tbsp granulated sugar 
  • food coloring (purple, green and gold)

instructions

King Cake Bites
  1. With an electric mixer cream powdered sugar, cream cheese and lemon juice.
  2. Take crescent rolls and press the seams of 2 triangles together to form a rectangle.
  3. Scoop the cream cheese filling into the. middle of the rectangle down the longest side.
  4. Roll the crescent roll lengthwise and cut it into four equal squares.
  5. Place the squares on a cookie sheet and bake for 13 - 15 mins in a 350 degree oven.
Glaze
  1. Mix powdered sugar and milk.
  2. Put about 3 Tbsp granulated sugar in separate bowls.
  3. Make colored sugar using purple, green and gold food coloring.
Assembly
  1. Mix the glaze and color the sugar while the King Cake Bites are cooling.
  2.  When they are cooled slightly, pour the glaze on the squares and then sprinkle the sugar in a diagonal pattern.

NOTES:

You can customize this filling any way you would like by adding fruit jam with the cream cheese, using chocolate, or just using butter and cinnamon sugar.

You can also change the color of the sugar for whatever occasion you are making them for!
Created using The Recipes Generator
 

You have got to make these and make them now! This recipe will make about 32 King Cake Bites AND skips the mess when it’s time to eat them! Literally pick them up and pop them in your mouth! They are perfect for any occasion and took me about 30 mins to make total!

Happy Mardi Gras,

Jennifer

The Most Delicious Valentine's Day Strawberry Cookies You Will Ever Make

 
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So I got your attention? Let me finish....these cookies are ADDICTING!!! And, y'all know I like easy. Another cookie recipe using cake mix! Easy, quick AND inexpensive? Well, yes, I think I will.

When I made these the first time, we literally ate them all in one day....that could be a problem. You may have to use some self-control when these are done, because they are so chewy and full of flavor. I just kept walking by and picking one up. And then another, and so on. My husband doesn't even LIKE sweets, but he sure had his fair share of these cookies. 

They are a beautiful pink color too, so what better time to make them than Valentine's Day? These literally could be brought to your child's school party, a home-school gathering, or just to kept at home. You could even wrap a few in some cellophane with a pretty ribbon, because they are that pretty.

I am always looking for easy recipes and quick recipes and this one hit the spot. It has 5 ingredients. That's it. I made them very quickly and they cooked quickly. They are very similar to my lemon cookies that I shared here, except I don't roll these strawberry cookies in powdered sugar. I could, but I wanted to try something different. Maybe next time I make them, I will try the powdered sugar! 

The ingredients include: A strawberry cake mix*, 2 eggs, 3 oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter and a bag of white chocolate morsels. 

*You can use any strawberry cake mix that you like, and any morsels. These cookies would probably be good with chocolate chips, but I like the look for he white with the pink.

 
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What I used:

Copper Chef Cookie Sheet

Rubber Spatula

Parchment Paper

Sifter

Cookie Scoop


How I Did It:

I first sifted the cake mix to get all of the lumps out. I set it to the side and creamed the butter, cream cheese and eggs. I then added the sifted cake mix and the white chocolate chips. 

 
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Look how good that dough looks! I really could just eat dough….but I didn’t!!

This dough is VERY VERY STICKY. The first time I made them, I used my hand mixer and it literally traveled to the top my mixer every time! So I have used my stand mixer and then eventually my hands! If it is too sticky to scoop into cookies, put it in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes. You can then form the dough into balls (I did mine about 1 TBSP a piece). You can use a cookie scoop or two spoons. Like I said, it's pretty sticky, but SO WORTH IT!

I just put them on a baking sheet and baked them in the oven for 8-10 minutes. You definitely need to watch them because they will be over-cooked in a split second and you won't even realize it because the bottoms will get very brown.

 
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When they come out of the oven I can hardly stand to let them cool, but I do (sometimes). I want to make sure that every cookie has enough chocolate chips in them and will dot some on top of the cookies when they come out, if they don't have enough in them.

Look how beautiful they are. I think that I think they are SO pretty because I know how delicious they are.  So, when you are looking for a quick and easy cookie to make, these are your prize! They have wonderful strawberry flavor, they only have 5 ingredients and they are not at all expensive to make! For sure you need to pop these out for Valentine's Day and make your sweetheart swoon all over again.

 
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DELICIOUS STRAWBERRY COOKIES

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 box strawberry cake mix )(15.25oz)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate morsels

Instructions:
  1. Sift the cake mix.
  2. Cream the butter, cream cheese and 2 eggs.
  3. Add the sifted cake mix and combine.
  4. Add 1/2 cup white chocolate morsels. (You will probably have to mix these in with a spoon by hand.)
  5. Drop cookies (about 1 TBSP) on a parchment lined cookie sheet. (If the dough is too sticky you can put in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.)
  6. Cook 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees.
  7. Enjoy!

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If you've read any of my blog, you know I love to use cake mixes any way I can. Check out my other cake mix recipes like Lemon Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.


Happy Baking,

Jennifer

Valentine's Day Popcorn That Will Steal Anyone's Heart!

 
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So I realized the other day that National Popcorn Day and Valentine's are in the same month!!! OMG! I love popcorn, and I kind of do love Valentine's Day. Not because of all of the lovie dovie stuff. Our wedding anniversary is February 10th, so we kind of lump the two together anyway. I just like all the candy! (Does that surprise you?) 

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to talk a little about both popcorn and Valentine's Day! More about popcorn, and then Valentine's Day Popcorn!


Americans currently consume 14 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year! That's a lot of popcorn. And, who knew it was so good for you? At the heart of popcorn is a healthful whole-grain that is naturally low-fat, low in calories, and gluten-free! WHAT? Yep! One serving can provide about 70% of a person's recommended daily intake of whole grains.

FUN FACTS

I have some fun popcorn facts (at least I thought they were fun and super interesting)!

  • Most people think of popcorn as a snack, but in the early 1900's, popcorn was a popular breakfast food - much like cereal today.

  • It is most popular around holidays like Halloween, Christmas, and VALENTINE'S DAY!!!

  • At one time, popcorn balls were one of the most popular foods given as gifts.

  • Most of the popcorn consumed throughout the world is grown in the United States, but Americans consume the most!

  • Most of the popcorn grown in the United States is grown in Indianan, Nebraska, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri.

  • Microwave popcorn became popular in the early 1980's and is one of the main reasons people use microwaves. Most microwaves have a "popcorn" control button.

  • It is a great snack for diabetics as well as people on a low cholesterol diet. 

Who knew all of that about popcorn? I surely did not. I knew it was good for you, but I definitely had no idea that we consumed that much, or that people used to eat it for breakfast!


I always associated popcorn with the movie theatre. You know when you walk in the theatre and that fresh popped popcorn smell hits your first thing? Also, in a gym at a basketball game....that was random. Look, my dad was a basketball coach, so the smell of popcorn and the sound of squeaking tennis shoes and whistle's blowing is comforting to me - I may or may not need counseling....

Anyway, you may or may not know that my mom has Multiple Sclerosis and was diagnosed with Lupus in 1983-1984. Part of her early treatment was chemotherapy. She would be in a hospital in Houston, TX, for extended periods of time to receive treatment, and then she would come home for a few weeks to recuperate, and then head back to Houston. Most of the time, when she came home between treatments, she did not feel well. She was experiencing all of the side effects that come with chemotherapy. One of which was nausea. Most anything made her sick, but she loved some movie theatre popcorn. My sister or my dad would drive me to the theatre to get her some popcorn and it made her happier than happy. She loved it and would eat it for days. The people at the movie theatre got to know us very well. I never wanted a ticket, I just needed to get to the concession stand! I'll never forget getting her that popcorn and how much she truly enjoyed eating it.


My kids LOVE, LOVE, LOVE popcorn. My youngest daughter, Emily, likes it a lot, but kind of has to be in the mood for it. My oldest, Katelyn, Lordy watch out. That child can eat some popcorn. And she goes on binges. She tends to eat it late at night and she will eat it nightly for weeks and weeks. And then is done with it for a while. I popped some today and she perked up...I'm sure she'll be back on the popcorn kick tomorrow! Anyway, I thought what better way to celebrate National Popcorn Day and Valentine's Day than with Valentine's Day Popcorn?? 

 
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Did you hear the bells and cheers? Oh, well, they are going off over here. Because popcorn AND chocolate? Sweet and salty? Yes ma'am I think so! I have seen a few recipes for sweet and salty popcorn, but most of them seem to use caramel. I decided to try white chocolate and popcorn, and to make it for Valentine's Day, I added some red and pink M&M's....I did...I really did. You know what I'm going to say...O.M.G....it was delicious. Like so delicious, that after Valentine's Day it will just be M&M popcorn!!! 


I literally popped some microwave popcorn and melted some white chocolate. I drizzled the chocolate over the popcorn and let it set. I then mixed the white chocolate covered popcorn with Valentine M&M's and mini pretzels. I then continued to eat almost the entire thing! This should be called Valentine's Popcorn Crack...I could not stop eating it...it's salty and sweet and it's just the perfect combination. Ok, let me tell you what I did so you can get on out there and make it!


What I used:


Cookie sheet

Spatula

Metal Buckets (you could use ANYTHING)

Microwave popcorn

White chocolate morsels

Valentine M&M's

Mini Pretzels

VALENTINE'S DAY POPCORN!

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 bag microwave popcorn
  • 1 package of white chocolate morsels (11 oz)
  • 1 Tbsp shortening
  • 1 cup mini pretzels (or however many you want to use)
  • 1 cup Valentine's M&M's (or however many you want to use)

Instructions:
  1. Pop the bag of popcorn in the microwave. Once it is popped, pour it onto a cookie sheet in a single layer.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, melt white chocolate chips and shortening in 30 second intervals. Stirring every 30 seconds to ensure you do not burn the chocolate.
  3. When the white chocolate is melted, drizzle it over the popcorn. Add the M&M's and the pretzels and gently fold it together.
  4. Set the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to help the chocolate set.
  5. Keep the popcorn stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  6. If it is left out of an airtight container for too long, the popcorn will become soft, so ensure once it is served to cover it back up.

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When I tell you to make this with caution…I mean be careful! You will eat the entire thing! OR, better yet, make it for your Valentine and steal their heart!! :)

Happy Valentine’s Popcorn,

Jennifer

Easy Chocolate Chip Cake Bars

 
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So, I was thinking about this title and I thought, Chocolate Chip Bars? Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake? I don't know. There's so many things this could be called, but it boils down to delicious. And, quite frankly so easy it should be against the law...

Literally 5 ingredients, didn't even have to pull out my mixer!

And guess what else? I used a yellow cake mix.....radio silence 😃

I have made chocolate chip cookie bars from scratch, but I decided to try these with a yellow cake mix just to see if it tasted different and if it tasted good? But, you literally, dump 5 ingredients together, mix with a spoon, and pop it in the oven.

It really couldn't be easier.

I mean, you could go buy some from the store (although I haven't actually seen these in the store)....anyway, you'd still have to get in your car, go to the store, go IN the store and blah, blah, blah.

Ok, enough jibber jabber...here's how I did it:

A yellow cake mix - any kind any brand.

 
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Add 1/2 cup melted butter.

 
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Then add 2 eggs. I mean are you winded yet?? Tired? - my sarcasm is killing me! :)

 
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Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2 cups chocolate chips.

 
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All you have to do is mix it up and put it in a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Place in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Allow them to cool and cut into squares.

Doesn’t this look delicious?? I cannot get into eating raw cookie dough because I would incriminate myself!

 
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CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE BARS

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 box yellow cake mix )(15.25oz)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chocolate morsels

Instructions:
  1. Combine cake mix, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  2. Add 2 cups chocolate morsels.
  3. Put in a 9 x 13 baking dish and cook 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.
  4. Enjoy!

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I like to use my Pyrex dish like this and it has a cover, so if I am going to a party or a friends house I have a cover, or it’s awesome to just cover it to keep them fresh!

Y’all go make these (i’m sure you have everything in your pantry already)! And let me know how much you like them!!

Happy Baking,

Jennifer


 

12 Dessert Ideas That Will Save You Time and Money During the Holidays

No holiday meal would be complete without a decadent dessert or two for Thanksgiving. Fortunately, there are a number of affordable and easy ones you can make at home so you don’t spend a fortune at the bakery.

 
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1. Pumpkin Pie

This is a traditional favorite that makes the most of the autumn pumpkin harvest. Buy pumpkins from a farm, cut in half, roast until tender, and scoop out the pumpkin puree. Each pumpkin should yield several cups, or you can purchase pumpkin pie filling at your local grocery store. 

2. Pumpkin Bread / Pumpkin Spice Bread

Pumpkin is very moist and makes a great cake or loaf. You can make it as spicy as you like to suit your taste. You could also frost or glaze it to make it look more festive.

3. Apple Pie

Make the most of the harvest in the orchards with a traditional apple pie. Make a lattice crust and serve with a dollop of cream or ice cream on the side. Making it from scratch means adjusting the seasonings as you like, and you can add raisins, cranberries and more to make it really festive.

4. Carrot Cake

Carrot cake is another healthy but filling dessert option which makes the most of the autumn harvest. Add raisins for sweetness and a cream cheese frosting and some nuts to dress it up.

 
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5. Apple Crumble / Apple Crisp

Instead of a buttery pie crust, use brown sugar, flour and spices as a crumble topping. An apple crisp uses oats. Both are very filling and great with cream or ice cream.

6. Pecan Pie


This classic Southern favorite is festive and tasty. Pecans can be expensive, however, so buy in bulk online. This is one that my husband loves, and I tend to make it more around Thanksgiving and Christmas, because pecans are falling from the trees and readily available. Sometimes I like to make little individual pies, and that is the real favorite!

7. Sweet Potato Pie

This is another classic Southern favorite that is similar to pumpkin pie, but uses yams and their natural sweetness for the pie filling. Making it from scratch means you can season it as you wish.

 
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8. Cheesecake

Cheesecake works well on its own, with chocolate, and with any fruit topping you like. Buy the cream cheese when it is on sale. You can also lighten things up by adding sour cream. There are so many variations of cheesecake, you can't go wrong with this dessert.

9. Chocolate Pie

Chocolate pie is a simple either custard base or pudding-like base with either meringue or whipped cream on top. This is another favorite with my family!

10. Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This is a very festive-looking cake thanks to the topping of bright yellow pineapple rings with red maraschino cherries in the center of each ring. Buy canned pineapple and yellow cake mix when it is on sale at your local supermarket.

 
 
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11. Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon meringue is a combination of an easy lemon custard and a sugary meringue on top. The meringue will require quite a few egg whites, but eggs are inexpensive. Plan another dessert like bread pudding to help use up the unwanted egg yolks from this recipe.

12. Angel Food Cake

This is a light, fluffy cake that gets its texture from egg whites. It is low in calories and an ideal pairing with most fruits.

Home-made desserts are not just less expensive, they are often more delicious than the bought option too. If your family is like mine, we have our favorites, and they are expected to be served at Thanksgiving! Use these ideas to give your guests a real Thanksgiving treat after their wonderful meal.

Happy Desserting,

Jennifer

RELATED POSTS:

Easy Lemon Cookies

 
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Y'all, these are some of the best cookies ever and so simple to make, it should be a crime! Literally, 5 ingredients. And, I whipped these suckers out in no time. They don't last long around here either. Even better, you make them with a cake mix! Score! So, if you are looking for a delicious, easy and quick dessert...keep reading!

EASY LEMON COOKIES

Makes: 3 dozen cookies

Name of image (title of post is fine)

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 (18.25 oz) package lemon cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Pour cake mix into a large bowl. Stir in eggs, oil, and lemon extract until well blended. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into a bowl of confectioners' sugar until they are lightly covered. Once they are covered, put them on an uncreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 6-7 minutes in a preheated oven. The bottoms may be a little brown and the insides should be chewy.

Voila! That is it. Literally, didn't even need a mixer. In this picture you can see that I made my cookies a little bigger and it made 1 dozen, so you can gauge how big you like them. I usually make them smaller and they are a little flatter, and I think I like them better that way! Bottom line, doesn't matter the size of the cookie, they are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!

P.S. You can also do this with a strawberry cake mix and they are delicious and pretty too!

P.S.S. I like to use these silicone baking mats, they keep your trays nice and pretty and you don’t have to use any cooking oil!

Happy Baking,

Jennifer