White Chocolate Cherry Almond Chunkies

Oh boy…these are my favorite cookies ever! I first came up with this recipe 5 years ago and it has been my favorite ever since. They’re chewy, the almond extract brings out the cherry flavor and they don’t take long to come together. These are a perfect dessert for your upcoming Christmas festivities and are super cute on a Valentine’s Day table as well. I hope you enjoy! They’re so easy you could totally involve your kiddos as well!

White Chocolate Cherry Almond Chunkies | www.MotherhoodintheTrenches.com

White Chocolate Cherry Almond Chunkies

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 11-13 minutes


1 stick butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chunks
1/4 teaspoon almond extract


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, with electric mixer, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla extract & almond extract and beat until just combined. Set aside.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add milk to the butter mixture and then add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Batter should be stiff.

In another bowl, combine nuts, cherries, and white chocolate. Then add to batter, stirring only to blend.

Drop by heaping tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for approximately 11 to 13 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Caramel Brownies

Caramel Brownies - the best dessert you'll ever make

This is not the most mommy friendly recipe, it requires some time in and out of the kitchen BUT it is so delicious that you will have people asking for them over and over again. These brownies are amazing. I’m not even a big fan of chocolate desserts but these…these are amazing. Every person that has ever tried these brownies, has fallen head over heels for them. While these don’t require a lot of cooking skill, it does take quite some time to allow them to bake and cool, etc. It’s not all time that you have to be in the kitchen, just don’t expect to pop them in the oven and have them ready to go to a party in an hour, it’ll be more like two hours or so.

Caramel Brownies - the best dessert you'll ever make

When it comes to buying the ingredients, I highly suggest that you don’t skimp on them. It may cost a few extra dollars for the higher quality ingredients but I’ve tried other lower quality ingredients and they just aren’t the same.

Caramel Brownies
from Annie’s Eats


For the brownies:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed
12 oz. Ghiradelli’s bittersweet chocolate morsels
1½ cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or less to taste)

For the caramel filling:
14 oz. Werther’s chewy caramels, unwrapped (make sure you specifically get “chewy caramels”and not the “caramelts” or something else) If you can’t find these, the KRAFT caramels or any other soft caramel will work, the Werther’s caramels just send them over the top.
1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil, make sure you smooth out any creases that are sticking out, as they will get stuck in the caramel part of the brownie. Grease the foil really well with butter.

Combine the 2 sticks of cubed butter and the bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl, set over a pan of simmering water (the metal mixing bowl from a stand mixer works wonderfully).  Heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat.  Whisk in the sugar, eggs and vanilla until incorporated.  Stir in the flour and salt just until combined.  Spread about half of the brownie batter, usually about 2 cups, in the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven, maintaining the oven temperature, and let cool for 20 minutes.

When the brownies have about 10 minutes left to cool, generously re-grease the sides of the pan with butter, this will allow the brownies to separate from the foil perfectly.

Now it’s time to make the caramel. Combine the caramel candies and cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Immediately spread the caramel mixture over the bottom brownie layer.  Spoon the remaining brownie batter over the caramel layer, taking care to spoon and spread it evenly, otherwise it will be difficult to spread evenly over the caramel layer.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the final brownie layer.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 15 to 30 minutes. Place the brownies in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.  Remove from the freezer and immediately lift the brownies from the pan using the edges of the foil.  Remove the foil and cut the brownies into individual squares.  These are really rich so I recommend cutting them into small, even bite-sized squares or they will get wasted.  Store in an airtight container.

Cooking with Kiddos: Asian Turkey Meatballs

I have been waiting for this day, the day that I get to involve Big Sis in the kitchen. I have always loved to cook, but having a kiddo under foot makes the experience less than enjoyable. I don’t know about your kiddos, but dinner time is when my babies are most needy. Including Big Sis took a lot longer but she enjoyed it so much that it was worth it.

We began by getting out all of our ingredients. She watched as I pulled things from cupboards and the fridge. As I placed each thing on the counter we talked about what each item was. Then it was time to prepare the ingredients. While I minced the garlic and ginger, she played with the head of garlic, peeling some of the paper off and smelling it. She loved smelling each ingredient we chopped.

Cooking with Kiddos-Asian Turkey Meatballs | A delicious, healthy recipe to cook with kiddos. www.MotherhoodintheTrenches.com

When she was done with that, I had her throw away all of the trash leftover from the garlic and ginger. She loves throwing things away right now, so this was a huge hit.

Cooking with Kiddos-Asian Turkey Meatballs | A delicious, healthy recipe to cook with kiddos. www.MotherhoodintheTrenches.com

Then while I finished chopping the rest of the ingredients, she helped chop the cilantro with a plastic knife.

Cooking with Kiddos-Asian Turkey Meatballs | A delicious, healthy recipe to cook with kiddos. www.MotherhoodintheTrenches.com

When all of the ingredients were prepped she dumped it all into the bowl.

Cooking with Kiddos-Asian Turkey Meatballs | A delicious, healthy recipe to cook with kiddos. www.MotherhoodintheTrenches.com

And I let her mush it all up. I was super nervous about letting her touch the raw meat but I made sure to explain that she couldn’t touch anything, especially her face. She did great! After we mushed up the ingredients, I helped her make the meatballs. Our hands were covered in the meat so we don’t have pics of those. :)

Once the meatballs were done, we popped them in the oven and made the sauce. She held the measuring spoon as I poured the liquid ingredients in and then she dumped them in the bowl. She stuck her tiny finger in the sauce after each addition, tasting as she went. We also made Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice and some teriyaki carrots. We had so much fun together and she was so proud of herself. When Dirk came home from work she told him, “Daddy I am being a big helper for Mommy!”

Here’s her finished result:

Cooking with Kiddos-Asian Turkey Meatballs | A delicious, healthy recipe to cook with kiddos. www.MotherhoodintheTrenches.com

Big Sis had so much fun.

Want to try this recipe with your kiddos? Here it is!

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Lime Sesame Dipping Sauce
barely adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything


1/4 cup Panko crumbs
1-1/4 lbs (20 ounces) 93% lean ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Lime Dipping Sauce
4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons water
1 chopped fresh scallion


Preheat oven to 500°F.

Mix ground turkey, panko, egg, salt, scallions, ginger, cilantro, 1 tbsp soy sauce, and 2 tsp oil and mix with your hands until combined well. Shape 1/4 cup meat mixture into a ball and transfer to a baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Repeat with remaining mixture. Bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

For the dipping sauce mix together lime juice, water, soy sauce, and remaining 1 teaspoon of oil in a bowl. Add scallions.

Transfer meatballs to a serving dish. Stir sauce, then drizzle meatballs with 1 tablespoon sauce.

Serve meatballs with remaining sauce, about 1 tbsp per person. You probably won’t use all the dipping sauce.

Makes 12 meatballs.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with a Cinnamon Buttercream & a Salted Caramel Drizzle


It’s that time of year! Time for pumpkins. I LOVE pumpkins. Pumpkin Spice lattes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin anything! Much to my chagrin, the hubby is not a big pumpkin fan. So in comes my newest “creation.” Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with a cinnamon buttercream and a salted caramel drizzle.

The original inspiration came from I Am Baker. She made Pumpkin Caramels and Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes. I used her chocolate pumpkin cupcake recipe, frosted with a cinnamon buttercream from Fake Ginger and topped with Trader Joe’s fleur de sel caramel sauce. Oh so yummy. The combination of flavors was to die for!!!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes
recipe from I Am Baker
Makes approx. 24 cupcakes 

1 1/2 cups Flour
2/3 cups Cocoa
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Vanilla Yogurt
1 cup Canned Pumpkin
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
3/4 cups Butter, softened
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
4 large Eggs

Preheat oven to 325.
Line cupcake pan with liners.

In a mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Add in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.  In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together, set aside.  Stir yogurt, pumpkin, and vanilla extract together in a small bowl.  Reduce mixer speed to low and alternately beat in the flour and yogurt mixtures in thirds, starting and ending with flour.

Bake for 18-25 minutes, depending on your oven.  Remove once toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, or center springs back when touched. Let cool.

Cinnamon Buttercream

recipe from Fake Ginger

Side note: I made three batches of buttercream to frost 24 cupcakes. If you are going to frost them with a knife then you will use less but if you’re using a decorating tip you will need at least two batches, but probably three. I made all three batches separately because I hate the mess that powdered sugar makes when it’s too high in my mixer but you can try to double the recipe if you’d like. :)

1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 – 4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar a 1/2 cup at a time until completely incorporated, adding up to 4 tablespoons of milk when the icing gets to thick. Add vanilla and cinnamon and beat until just combined.

When cupcakes are cooled you can frost them however you like.

Salted Caramel Drizzle

Trader Joe’s fleur de sel caramel sauce (or another caramel sauce of your choice)

Place about 1/2 cup caramel sauce in a microwave safe dish and microwave for about 10 seconds. You want the sauce to be just thick enough to drizzle, not so hot that it is thin and melts the frosting. Once your caramel is at the desired consistency, use a spoon to drizzle the caramel on the frosting. If you want a more perfect look you could try to pipe it but that just makes more mess, and we all know that baking makes enough mess!



Portuguese Kale Soup

So, one thing you probably don’t know about me is that I’m half Portuguese. Yep, this blonde-haired, green-eyed girl is half Portuguese. Both of my dad’s parents were full Portuguese.

Here’s my Portuguese dad

and my blonde-haired, green-eyed mom(this is a picture my dad took of my mom as they were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary in Maui!)

and so here I am, not looking a bit Portuguese.

My grandma’s cooking was pure Portuguese, or at least what I remember of her cooking it was. She was an amazing woman with so many amazing qualities, one of which was the ability to cook some yummy food! She lived with us off and on during my childhood, and again during my teen years when her health started to deteriorate. She and my mom were the antithesis of the stereotypical mother/daughter-in-law, they were very close and my grandma taught my mom much of what she knows now. One thing I am so thankful for is that my grandma taught my mom a lot of her Portuguese recipes. My favorite meal all year is Christmas breakfast; sweet bread, linguica, eggs, fried potatoes and portuguese beans. Mmmmm!

Another favorite meal of mine, is what we call sopas (say it like soupish). As I did some research I found that this is more of a combination between Caldo Verde (green soup) and sopas. It sounds like every family has their own take on how to make it and what they prefer to go into it. I typically rely on my mom when I have a Portuguese food craving but since she and my dad were out of town, it was up to me. My grandma’s sister gave me a recipe and I kinda went off of that and what resulted was pure deliciousness.

Portuguese Kale Soup

1 med/large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 cups beef broth
1-15 oz can tomato sauce (I did this to taste using a 28 oz. can so this is approximate)
kosher salt
1/2 Tablespoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon cumin
2 bay leaves
About 1/2 lb of kale, more or less as you wish
2 large (or 3 or 4 med/small) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into about 2 inch chunks

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium-high in a large pot until shimmering. Add onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Watch them carefully you don’t want them to burn! Using a slotted spoon remove the onions and garlic to a plate and set aside.

If needed, add in more olive oil, turn heat to high. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper and quickly brown on all sides. You don’t want to cook them, you just want to give the pieces a quick sear.

Add the onions and garlic back in the pan, along with the beef broth, tomato sauce, allspice, cumin and bay leaves. At this point, depending on what beef broth you use, you may want to add in some water. The broth should be a fairly clear, reddish-brown color. If it’s a murky red, add some water to water down the tomato sauce. The soup should be pretty brothy. If you feel like you want/need more broth add in some more, this recipe is very forgiving. Bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce to a simmer and cover for about 1 hour.

After the 1 hour the meat should be pretty tender, if not, let it cook a bit longer. When the meat is ready, add the potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes. Then, add the kale. Cook until the kale is cooked through, about another 10 minutes. At this point I needed to add a little more salt but I waited until the end to see how it tasted.

Serve hot with buttered French Bread and enjoy. Mmmmm…