Thursday, September 13, 2018

Salted Caramel Banana Bread Brownies

The interior of our home has been filled with the music of Les Miserables and Evita. Paul and I have been on a musical kick for the past few months, ever since we took Daniel with us to see the Broadway version of Les Miserables. As I type this out, I realize that I should have mentioned in my last blog post about Daniel that he has already seen a Broadway show at the tender age of three months. When we walked up to the box office with our tickets (which we had purchased back in February) we were politely informed that we could not bring the baby into the theater until we had purchased an "infant in arms" ticket for him. Ridiculous, right? His ticket cost almost as much as ours! Thank goodness he was a complete angel and slept the entire time so we were able to enjoy the show - which was incredibly amazing. Paul is already asking when we can go see another show although I have a hard time believing any show can top Les Miserables.

So, we have been blasting "Master of the House" "One Day More" and "On My Own" while washing the dishes and getting the kids ready for bed. And as far as Evita is concerned, I haven't even thought about that musical since high school but randomly started singing some of the songs. Matthew heard me and asked me about it, which led to me seeking out the soundtrack online, and now my kids are familiar with most of those songs. Emma especially loves the song "High Flying Adored" whereas Matthew prefers "The Lady's Got Potential." If you have no idea what I'm talking about, look these songs up on YouTube. They're great! We've become quite the musical family recently. Beware, we might morph into a Colorado-based version of The Von Trapp Family Singers, only with far less talent and relatively no originality.

Speaking of no originality (on my part at least!), here is a recipe for Salted Caramel Banana Bread Brownies that I made exactly as written from the remarkable food blog Plain Chicken. If you haven't heard of her blog, check it out. All her recipes are simple, no-fuss, and guaranteed crowd-pleasers. When I spied the picture for these brownies and then glanced at the pile of five blackened bananas sitting on my counter with a growing colony of fruit flies floating about, I figured it was worth a try! The banana bars would be a great snack for the kids to pack in their lunches since they love banana anything, although apparently not actual bananas since whenever I buy them they go uneaten and turn mushy and black.

I was completely prepared not to like these. I normally find the texture of zucchini or other vegetable-based "brownies" to be completely abhorrent. These, however, were really quite fantastic. It probably had something to do with all the chocolate, caramel, and butter but I very much enjoyed eating these for breakfast this know, because they have bananas and go so great with coffee. I need to work on my sugar addiction.

Will I choose these over straight-up brownies? Probably not but that doesn't mean they're not delicious.

I found the salted caramel chips at Kroger! They actually have their own Kroger brand of them probably inspired by Hershey's Salted Caramel Baking Chips. If you can't find either version of them, I think Butterscotch Chips would be a fine substitute.

Salted Caramel Banana Bread Brownies
from Plain Chicken

6 Tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup chocolate chips
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 to 4 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1-3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup salted caramel chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x9-inch baking pan. Set aside.

Melt butter and chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and cool.
In a bowl, mix together the vanilla, sugar and mashed bananas. Add the eggs and beat well. Mix until everything is well combined.

Sift flour and salt and add to banana mixture. Stir in salted caramel chips.

Fold in 2/3 of the chocolate mixture into the batter. Stir just until combined - a few chocolate streaks in the batter is perfectly fine.

Spread batter into prepared pan. Drizzle the remaining chocolate mixture on top of the batter. Use a knife to create streaks of chocolate.

Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack 1 hour before cutting. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Springtime Minestrone Soup

I thought I would begin this blog post with a few fun facts about my 3-year-old daughter Lucy. She's such a cute and funny little person and I am very much enjoying my time with her at home while her two older siblings are at school. She has quite the sense of humor but is still in that cuddly, sweet toddler phase where she loves to be held, read to, rocked, and showered with affection.

Lucy Fact #1: In nearly every statement she makes, she always incorporates a random, nonsensical reference to time. "I finished all my dinner for four years!" "Cheerios are my favorite cereal for two months!" "This shirt was my favorite last morning!" "I played with my painting set for five years last morning!" "Hey! I have a great idea! Let's go to the candy factory again last year!"

You get the picture. It's super cute and endearing.

Lucy Fact #2: Whenever Lucy is very excited to tell you something, she stutters for a good 30-seconds before she is able to finally spit out her thoughts. Paul and I find it so funny, but it really irritates her not-so-patient older siblings, especially Matthew ("Just say it LUCY!"). Ironic, considering how much time I have used up over the years interpreting Matthew's endless jibberish about random subjects.

Lucy Fact #3: She has declared passionately that when she grows up she wants to be a farmer. She loves pigs and cows and thus thinks being a farmer along the lines of "Old MacDonald" is the perfect career for her. I have yet to explain to her where her beloved bacon comes from.

Lucy Fact #4: Lucy is fully potty trained. Which is fantastic. The not-so-fantastic, slightly disturbing part of this is that she has developed a couple quirky habits as a result of her training. After successfully using the potty and washing her hands, she usually comes back out to the family room wearing only her underwear and then proceeds to wiggle her butt at everyone while singing in her deep baritone voice: "I have a stinky little butt. Look at my stinky little butt!" Paul finds it hilarious, I find it horrifying. I've been trying to explain to her that nice young ladies do not act that way, but of course it hasn't had much impact because Lucy is also being egged on by her obnoxious older sister Emma who finds the whole thing very funny indeed.

Lucy Fact #5: Lucy rarely, if ever, eats dinner. Always claiming to be starving at dinnertime, Lucy pretty much only finishes her plate when the meal consists of pizza, bacon, or ice cream. Every other food she just plays with and makes a mess but doesn't actually eat any of it. If she can detect a single vegetable in a dish, she won't even play with it lest she be exposed to its nutritional poisons.

After that last fact, I probably don't need to tell you that this Springtime Minestrone Soup is a meal that Lucy refused to even try. She ate the bread that we served along with it but this soup went completely untouched. In fact, she complained until the bowl was completely removed from her sight. Her loss because this soup is freaking fantastic! The pesto-infused broth is so addicting and all the nourishing greens, beans, and veggies makes for a meal that leaves you feeling satisfied, healthy, and comforted. Emma gave quite the fuss about this soup when we initially put it in front of her, but once she finally tried it even she was won over by it. She especially liked the chickpeas in the stew and mounding her bowl up with plenty of shredded parmesan. I sometimes worry that we as a family do not eat nearly as many vegetables as we should at dinnertime - everyone gets plenty with a serving of this soup!

I know that the name of this soup is "Springtime" Minestrone, but really you can make this year-round because all the veggies are available anytime! Don't skip the artichokes or the asparagus! They were my favorite part!

Springtime Minestrone Soup
adapted from Simply Recipes

2 Tbsp olive oil
6 green onions
2-4 large garlic cloves
1 pound baby potatoes, or Yukon gold potatoes cut into 1-inch chunks
1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes
4-6 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock if cooking vegetarian or vegan)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 cups greens (dandelion, chard, spinach, kale, arugula, etc), sliced into thin ribbons
1/4 cup pesto (heaping!)
Grated parmesan cheese for garnish

Begin by prepping the green onions, garlic, and potatoes. Chop the green onions and green garlic and separate the white and light green parts from the green tops. Mince the garlic cloves and combine with the white parts of the green onions.

Sauté white parts of green onions and garlic, add potatoes: In a large pot set over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil for 1 minute. Add the white parts of the green onions as well as the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.

Add the potatoes, and cook 1 minute more.

Add tomatoes, stock, salt, then simmer: Add the diced tomatoes with their liquid and the quart of vegetable or chicken stock.

Add the chickpeas and green peas and cook another 5 minutes.

Add the asparagus and artichoke hearts. Cook 2 minutes.

Add the greens and the green parts from the green onions and green garlic, if using. Stir well to combine and cook 1 minute.

Add pesto, salt, pepper: Turn off the heat and stir in the pesto. Taste your broth and add black pepper and more salt to taste (depending on how salty your stock is, you may need to add 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt).

Serve topped with grated cheese.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Life and Times of DJ Nistler - Five Months

Poor Daniel. He is definitely the fourth child behind three very loud, attention-grabbing, high-maintenance siblings. He has neither a baby book nor many blog posts written about him during the short time he has been here. Pictures are in short supply too! But don't let that fool you - he is very much a loved, revered, and adored member of this family. In fact, I would argue that he currently holds the title of "Most Popular Sibling" and "Best Behaved Child" because he is cute, sweet, does not hit, bite, scratch, or talk back, and tends to eat a meal, bat at a few toys, roll in a circle, take a short nap, and repeat. He's an easy peasy baby.

In the nearly five months he has been outside the womb, young DJ has quite the list of life accomplishments! He's been a busy little fella. Here is a little summary of some of the most noteworthy moments in Daniel's young life.

1. Daniel has been baptized!

On May 20th, Daniel was welcomed into the church as a child of God! He screamed during most of the ceremony and then passed out immediately afterwards, snoozing all the way through his party afterwards. His baptism was definitely the smallest gathering we have had so far but we still had plenty of family representatives - Grandpa Korson traveled all the way from Indiana for the occasion! Aunt Adrienne and Uncle James were present to fulfill Godparent duties. Uncle Steven surprised us on his way back to Montana from Kansas with a visit for the occasion and a handful of other friends were also in attendance. It was a great day! And yes, Fr. Nathan, our energetic parish priest, does have a mullet.

2. Daniel has experienced some fairly massive hair loss.

He was born with quite a bit of hair, but unfortunately it has slowly fallen out over the past few months. He practically has a "comb over" now and rivals Paul in baldness. Unlike Paul, Daniel's hair will soon regenerate into a mane of luscious blonde locks.

3. Daniel has climbed a 14er.

A major accomplishment of many residents and visitors of Colorado is to summit one of Colorado's 53 peaks that exceed 14,000 feet in elevation. Daniel may have cheated a bit being hauled up to the summit by his mother but it's quite the accomplishment for a little dude under the age of six months. Paul was a little concerned that the altitude would be bothersome to him, but he sure didn't seem to mind! The rest of us felt a bit lightheaded at the top but Daniel just giggled and sucked his thumb while taking in the breathtaking views.

4. In fact, Daniel has "climbed" many Colorado peaks.

Daniel has been hauled up quite a few peaks in the Colorado wilderness. He usually snoozes for the majority of the hike up but always seems to wake up just in time to experience the summit. As Paul has said on multiple occasions, Daniel truly is "our mountain baby."

5. Daniel has experienced the adoration and adulation of many tiny, little women.

It's no secret that little girls just love babies. This is the reason Daniel has been a prime target for toe tickling and cheek squeezing from many young little ladies wherever he goes. I keep telling him that he better soak in the attention while he can, because he will probably never experience this much attention and fawning over by females again! He can always be found flanked by two little lasses in particular.

6. Daniel has taken his first cross country road trip.

My sister Sophie was married in July back home in Indiana. As a result, we loaded everyone up and drove the entire 18 hour trip in one shot. Lucy, Matthew, and Emma are champs when it comes to road tripping, but we were unsure how Daniel would handle so much time in the car. Being the generally good-natured child he is, he handled the trip like a champ. However, ever since our return, he has complained pretty loudly whenever we strap him back into his car seat. I wonder if it's related...

7. Daniel has been held by many members of his massive family.

The grand size of our family was overwhelming even for Daniel who is fairly used to having someone in his face during all waking (and some sleeping) hours.

8. Daniel has toured a candy factory.

I really wasn't planning on adding this one to the list, but Matthew insisted that it was a significant moment in his life. More specifically, it was a fairly life-changing experience for the three kids who can actually eat candy. Daniel just came along for the ride and stared at a rotating fan for the majority of the tour. The tour took place at Hammond's Candy Factory in downtown Denver, a facility that has been making gourmet candy for nearly 100 years. They offer free daily tours that are both informative and fun. My kids were completely captivated watching the workers make candy canes, chocolate, ribbon candy, and taffy using old-fashioned equipment that dates back to the factory's origins at the beginning of the 20th century. I was so impressed that each piece of candy is made almost completely by hand, start to finish.

The best part of the tour, according to the kids anyway, were all the free samples they got to take home and enjoy. It was a fun outing for the whole family! Paul is just bummed that he had to be at work while we were consuming all this sugar. We picked out a couple pieces and dropped them off for him right afterwards so he didn't completely miss out!

Daniel has been such a blessing to our family! All the stress and worry surrounding my pregnancy with him has resulted in the sweetest, most dear little boy that we cannot imagine our lives without. He is certainly loved and will remain loved his whole life!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Cast-Iron Skillet Calzone

The kids headed to school this week! Matthew is officially a 3rd grader and as enthusiastic about school as ever. Emma was filled with a bit of worry and anxiousness as her first day of Kindergarten approached. Understandably since this was to be her first day of school EVER. Just as when I sent Matthew to preschool, I was a little sad thinking that Emma was no longer going to be with me all day, every day. But at the same time, I know she is ready to spread her wings, make some friends, and learn from someone other than me. She came home after that first day with a big smile on her face and full of excitement to head back the next day. In fact, she hasn't even given us any trouble about waking up early in the morning. Normally, Emma is a pain to kick out of bed but since school began she gets up with a smile and immediately puts on her school uniform and comes downstairs for breakfast.

And speaking of her school uniform, Emma looks so adorable wearing her little plaid jumper and carrying her gigantic teal backpack. I do miss her during the day but the one who really misses her is Lucy. Lucy balled her eyes out as Matthew and Emma drove away. In fact, she has cried pretty much every morning since as well because she so desperately wants to go to school with them. I have gently tried explaining that she is not old enough for school yet and she just looks up at me with tear-filled eyes and says: "But Mommy I AM big enough! I am potty trained now!"

Especially now that school has started, our schedules are about to get busier than ever making mealtime a challenge. One of the most popular requests in this house is for homemade pizza. Pizza made from scratch start to finish can be a real pain to pull off on a weeknight. But you know what's an even bigger pain? Calzones!

Who has time to make dough and then intricately craft individual calzones for each member of the family? Certainly not me, especially on days when Matthew has homework. That kid needs all the encouragement he can get when it comes to homework. So much encouragement, that after he goes to bed, I am in dire need of a large glass of wine.

But back to weeknight calzones. Leave it to the brilliance of America's Test Kitchen to come up with a way to make one giant calzone in a cast iron skillet that can serve a large crowd. I actually stumbled across this recipe in my instagram feed and immediately copied it down to make in the coming week. My feast day was coming up and that traditionally means that I get to choose the dinner. I like pizza just as much as your typical kiddo and knew that it was a recipe the whole family would probably not have any qualms consuming. I used the pizza dough recipe from my favorite cookbook The New Best Recipe, but if you are in a time crunch and don't have 90 minutes to dedicate to waiting for your dough to rise, I'm including a recipe for a foolproof, quick pizza dough that is pretty amazing as well.

Even though the recipe explicitly states to allow the calzone to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before slicing, we were impatient and starving so we dished it up as soon as it came out of the oven. The result was a bit of a sloppy mess that was extremely difficult to cut and serve. It still tasted incredibly delicious but if you are looking for perfect, neat slices, please do not follow our poor example but rather actually heed the recipe instructions and wait (albeit impatiently) for it to cool! My pictures might have been prettier had I done so!

This was absolutely delicious. And of course it is - you didn't need me to tell you that. It has all the tasty stuff in it! Sausage? Good! Pepperoni? Good! Mozzarella? Gooooood!

Cast-Iron Skillet Calzone
adapted slightly from America's Test Kitchen

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound hot Italian Sausage, casings removed
4 ounces pepperoni, quartered
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds pizza dough (see recipe below for a quick version)
8 ounces (1 cup) whole milk cottage cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon pepper
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded (4 cups)
1 cup marinara sauce
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat to 450 degrees. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add sausages and pepperoni and cook, breaking up pieces with a wooden spoon until the sausage is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant. Transfer meat mixture to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels.

Place dough on lightly floured counter and divide into one 22-ounce piece and another 10-ounce piece (roughly two thirds and one third). Press and roll larger piece of dough into a 16-inch round. Transfer to now-empty skillet, letting excess dough hang over the edge. Set aside.
Combine the meat mixture with the cottage cheese, basil, and pepper. Sprinkle 2 cups of mozzarella over the surface of the dough in the cast-iron skillet. Dollop the mixture over the top of the cheese in an even layer. Spread the marinara sauce over the top, then sprinkle with the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella.

Brush the overhanging dough of bottom crust with the egg wash. Press and roll remaining dough into a 14-inch circle, then loosely roll dough around a rolling pin and gently unroll it over the filling. Trim overhanging dough to ½ inch beyond edge of skillet. Pinch edges of top and bottom crusts firmly together. Roll overhang to be flush with the edge of skillet, then crimp with tines of a fork.
Brush the top of the calzone with the remaining egg wash. Cut eight 1-inch vents in the top of the dough in a circular pattern. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating the skillet halfway through baking.

When finished baking, let the calzone sit to cool for 30 minutes before slicing into wedges and serving.

Quick and Easy Pizza Dough

Note: For use in the recipe above, double this recipe. It'll make a little more than 2 pounds of pizza dough.

1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 cups flour (see note)

In a large bowl or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the water, honey, oil, yeast and salt. Add the flour gradually until a soft dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The exact flour amount will vary depending on where you live, so go by the touch and feel of the dough versus the exact cup measurements in the recipe. The dough should be soft and smooth.

Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes in the stand mixer using the dough hook. If kneading by hand, this will take at least twice as long.

Let the dough rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Then, shape the dough into pizzas or use in the calzone recipe above!

Thursday, August 30, 2018


While the rest of us have been home enjoying our potty training fun and eating cookies, Matthew and Emma haven't exactly been suffering in Montana. Swimming, boating, fishing, tea parties, plane rides, and lots of playtime with cousins are just some of the highlights of the fun they have been enjoying with the Montana Nistlers. They're not going to want to return home after all their adventures - I certainly wouldn't if I were them!

I feel incredibly blessed and thankful that my children have two sets of wonderful grandparents who strive to give them so much personal time and attention. While growing up, I never had that type of relationship with my own grandparents and it was something I always longed for. I had plenty of friends who would speak excitedly about heading to Grandma's house for Christmas or for a week over the summertime but that was never really a possibility for me nor would I have been entirely comfortable visiting on my own even if it were because my grandparents were largely strangers to me. I certainly admired them and looked forward to seeing them, but other than the initial hugs at the beginning of a visit, us kids just did our own thing while the adults sat in a circle and discussed adult things. Occasionally, one of us would be called over by one one of our grandparents - our Grandpas mainly - where we would be held in a tight "half hug" against our will, half-listening awkwardly to the adult conversation, while glancing over longingly at the other siblings playing freely outside and wishing to be set free. As soon as that arm released even a bit, we could run free back to play!

This is the complete opposite of how my children feel towards their grandparents - they have no qualms with spending an inordinate amount of time with them. They barely miss us! And I love that they feel so secure in their relationship that "Grandma's House" whether it be the one located in Montana or Indiana is a second home to them!

I have been reflecting a bit on my relationship with my grandparents since my Grandma Korson passed away in July. Daniel and I had been scheduled to fly out to visit her for her 92nd birthday party and I had been very much looking forward to it. In the heat wave that hit Riverside, causing the temperatures to skyrocket to above 113 degrees Fahrenheit, Grandma suffered a massive heat stroke, entered a coma, and died over a week later. Daniel and I missed seeing her by a matter of days.

Growing up, I actually feared my Grandmother a bit. She was never unkind to me but I always felt intimidated in her presence. As I have grownup and started my own family, I have come to appreciate her for the remarkable, resilient, intelligent woman  that she was. She raised a very large family and lived through a lot of difficult experiences and still maintained her sharp mind, memory, and dry sense of humor until the very end. During my last phone conversation with her, I expressed how I had a particularly frustrating day with the children and she not only commiserated with me ("Oh how I remember those days!") but also encouraged me to continue doing the very best I can, ending with "And I know you are!" Her last words to me were, "You have a beautiful family and I'm very proud of you. I love you."

Now she is gone - the very last of my grandparents to pass on. The loss of her has hit me much harder than the others because I felt as if I was just starting to become closer to understanding her, to appreciating her, to experiencing a level of comfort with her that I had always desired as a child. I have experienced massive regret that I did not try harder to bond with her sooner through more frequent phone calls or visits because I will never have that chance again. Now I can only pray for her, remember her, and look forward to seeing her again someday in heaven.

I am incredibly grateful that my children will never experience these feelings of regret when it comes to their relationship with their own grandparents. They have an intimacy and level of comfort that will carry through the remaining years they share with them and I hope and pray that they appreciate both sets of grandparents for the wonderful, saintly people that they are! Time is short...but my children have already made memories with their grandparents that will last a lifetime!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

S'Mores Chocolate Chip Cookies

While Emma and Matthew are in Montana with their grandparents, I had the pleasure of spending the entire week focusing on Lucy and Daniel. With Matthew and Emma not around to fill the silence with their endless chatter, things have been much more quiet and a bit more peaceful. Lucy does seem to miss her older siblings but simultaneously is enjoying getting all the attention to herself. As I mentioned earlier, the main focus of the week has been potty training and, overall, things are going really well! Lucy has taken full advantage of the fact her parents are so desperate to get her out of diapers that they are fully open to any bribery necessary to make it happen. As a result, Lucy has been showered with all the sugar, sweets, and ice cream she wants each and every time she successfully uses the bathroom. In fact, whenever she has to go, she normally stands in the middle of the room, in her underwear, and declares loudly: "I need to go pee on the potty right now. And after I pee....I am going to get an ice cream cone." And, of course, since we are beyond desperate to only have one kid in diapers, Paul and I have to acquiesce to her requests.

In addition to dishing out endless amounts of sugar, we also took both Lucy and Daniel to the movie theater to watch Christopher Robin. It was so much fun taking Lucy - she is still mostly unspoiled and so fun to treat! She got a kick out of having the entire movie theater basically to ourselves. We went to one of those nicer theaters that are super clean and have large, reclining seats which made the whole experience very enjoyable because we could cuddle comfortably with the kiddos during the entire film. We made sure to also get Lucy a very large popcorn and an even larger cup full of root beer, the latter of which made us very nervous that a certain type of accident might occur. Thankfully, it didn't and we all enjoyed the movie - it was such a great, family-friendly film with a wonderful message. Go see it with your little ones!

Lucy and I also made cookies together to get ready for the school year. I find it very useful to make a huge batch of cookies that I can freeze and use for school lunches - or work lunches for Paul -  over the coming weeks. It also gives me an opportunity to eat a ridiculous amount of cookie dough while I test out a never-before-tried recipe. Lucy, like her sister Emma, also relishes any opportunity to eat butter by the spoonful. During the execution of this particular cookie recipe, I'm certain Lucy ate her weight in the raw dough since I entrusted her with scooping the cookie dough at one point as I straightened up the kitchen. Ten minutes later, the kitchen was sparkling and Lucy had yet to scoop a single mound of cookie dough onto the baking sheet. However, she was licking her chops and telling me how "Deeeeelicious!" it tasted. After that, I fired her.

But Lucy's right! The raw cookie dough for these S'mores Chocolate Chip Cookies was delicious but the BAKED version is even better. Chewy, thick, full of chocolate and marshmallow bits, and boasting a delectable graham cracker flavor...these are the cookies of which dreams are made. Dorky, but true. This recipe is going into my regular cookie rotation!

S'Mores Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Note: I found the marshmallow bits at Target for a little over a dollar. Check the Target website for local availability as well as for information about where in the actual store it is located. Otherwise, they can also be ordered from Amazon. Regular marshmallows will NOT work. Thankfully, this recipe is worth the hunt! Also, as always, at altitudes above 5500 feet, cut the baking soda in half for higher-rising cookies!

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup (7.5 ounces) packed light or dark brown sugar
1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (8.75 ounces) all-purpose flour (see note)
1 cup (4.5 ounces) graham cracker crumbs (about 9 rectangle crackers crushed)
2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate chips or chunks
1 cup (1.75 ounces) miniature marshmallow bits

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.

Using an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a handheld electric mixer, add the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix together until very light and creamy, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until evenly combined.

Add the flour and graham cracker crumbs and mix until just barely combined.

Add the chocolate chips or chunks and marshmallow bits and mix until incorporated.

Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing at least 2-inches apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until just golden on the edges and a little crackly on top. Let the cookies sit for a few minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.