Tobins' Tastes

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Scratch Made Cosmic Brownie Bites

Relive your childhood lunchbox dreams with these scratch made Cosmic Brownie Bites!

I can still remember my childhood lunchboxes. I was (still am) a pretty picky eater as a child so I basically had like three lunch options my mom would rotate between depending on the day- Sprinkles Yogurt, peanut butter sandwich no jelly, or a cheese sandwich with butter (?). Sides would include a stack of Pringles, a bag of Cheese Balls, Goldfish or a mini bag of Wise Butter Popcorn.

My mom was a "cool mom" who almost always included a dessert too- Dunkaroos, Chewy Granola Bars or if I was really lucky a Little Debbie treat. I'm not sure what made them so amazing but I have vivid memories of Swiss Cake Rolls, Zebra Cakes, those little frosted Christmas tree cakes. For some reason she was totally cool buying them for us and we certainly weren't complaining. Side note: Please do not think my mom fed us a steady diet of processed food. We drank milk at every meal, weren't allowed to have soda, had home cooked dinners every night and were very active healthy kids. However, it was the 80's/early 90's. 

One thing I don't ever remember her buying us though were Cosmic Brownies. Maybe we never asked for them. Maybe they didn't come out until I was past the age of getting a daily dessert in my lunchbox. Maybe she drew the line at those artificial colors. Who knows what the reason was but the first time I ever tried them was in college from a vending machine during finals week when I was desperate for a late night snack. They were simultaneously everything I had ever imagined they would be but also something I could never see myself eating on a regular basis. My childhood dream fulfilled, I never ate them again.

Every now and then I will pass the snack cake aisle in the grocery store and if I am having a particularly bad day I will briefly consider the idea of buying a box of Little Debbies. Luckily common sense/social acceptability wins out and I keep right on walking. But when I found a bottle of the brightly colored candy coated chocolate pieces in the baking aisle the other day, I couldn't resist recreating Cosmic Brownies at home.

These scratch made brownie bites are so easy and lately I have been making them whenever I need a little treat for an event or get together. They are so easy to customize and you can add chocolate chips, chopped nuts, M&M's, dried fruit or pretty much anything you have on hand. These are made with regular cocoa powder but I've made them with dark cocoa too and they turned out amazing.

Scratch Made Cosmic Brownie Bites
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup  cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • candy coated chocolate morsels
1.) In a large bowl combine sugar, flour and cocoa powder.

2.) Stir in melted butter until completely combined.

3.) Stir in eggs.

4.) Line a mini cupcake pan and using a tablespoon or small cookie scoop fill each liner with batter. Sprinkle candy coated chocolates on top.

5.) Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minute or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

What was your favorite lunchbox treat?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Salted Caramel Cookie Cups a la Mode

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #mixinmoments #CollectiveBias

Before I had a baby, I could spend an entire day in the kitchen baking and think nothing of it. Especially around holidays and birthdays, I would log hours measuring, sifting, kneading and icing to perfection. Once Easton was born I was lucky to get 10 quiet minutes to preheat the oven for our frozen lasagna. 

Now that he is a little older and life is a little calmer, I have started to get the itch to bake again. Problem is, my child refuses to nap for more than 45 minutes at a time so my reentry into baking needs to be perfectly timed (no pun intended). When I saw the new NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® baking mixes at my Publix last week I grabbed a few boxes and figured I would save them for a night when Justin and I wanted a little something special for dessert

This weekend we went out to lunch with my family at a place where we are known for usually getting dessert. I had mine all picked out but when we finished our entrees Easton and my 1 1/2 year old nephew had hit their restaurant limit and we had to end the meal without anything sweet. Justin and I had both been looking forward to a restaurant quality dessert and so I decided to recreate one at home.

I used a box of Nestle Toll House Cookies & More Cookie Baking Mix and baked it into cookie cups using a muffin tin then topped it with ice cream, caramel sauce, Nestle Tollhouse Mini Morsels and a sprinkle of sea salt. It's not often that this happens but these turned out exactly as I imagined them in my mind as I was making them. The crispy outside of the cookie cup was a perfect contrast to the ice cream and the sea salt kept the caramel sauce from being too sweet. 

I use to be known for my elaborate desserts so I have been looking for ways to create treats that look a lot more complicated than they actually are. These Salted Caramel Cookie Cups are just that. They only take minutes of prep time and they can be customized any way you like. I prepared the mix the traditional way but you could easily add in some toffee bits or chopped nuts for a fun twist. I love that the box even has different directions depending on how you want to customize it. 

Salted Caramel Cookie Cups a la Mode

  • one box of NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Cookies & More Cookie Baking Mix with Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • vanilla ice cream
  • caramel sauce (I used this recipe but store bought works great too)
  • Nestle Tollhouse Mini Morsels
  • Flake sea salt or Fleur de Sel
1.) Prepare baking mix as directed on the box. 

2.) Grease and flour a muffin tin. Press dough into each cup (mine were about 2/3 full).

3.) Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until tops are starting to brown. 

4.) Let cool completely before removing from muffin tin. 

5.) Top each cookie with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle with caramel sauce. Finish with some mini morsels and a sprinkle of sea salt. 

6.) Enjoy immediately! 

Nestle Toll House Baking Mixes have no artificial flavoring or colors and come in four different varieties
  • Brownies & More with Butterfingers
  • Brownies & More with chocolate morsels
  • Cookies & More with Butterfingers
  • Cookies & More with chocolate morsels
Make sure to take advantage of the current ibotta offer and earn .75 cash back when you purchase any one box. Ibotta is my favorite cash back app so I was thrilled to see this offer since I was purchasing the item anyways. New to ibotta? Learn more here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Back To School Teachers' Snack Basket

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WholeGrainWholeDay #CollectiveBias

For teachers, Back To School always starts about a week earlier than it does for students. In a way, teacher workdays might be more stressful than the actual first day of school. There are meetings, trainings, professional development, setting up your classroom, catching up with co-workers. So much is going on that it can be easy to to get three to four hours into your day without realizing that you haven't stopped once to sit down and have a snack or eat breakfast. 

Any teacher can tell you that the teachers' lounge is always filled with not so good for you snacks and empty calorie treats and in a pinch it is tempting to fill up on those instead of making better for you choices. This year I wanted to give my fellow teachers some satisfying snack options that would a little more healthy than the typical donuts, candy and baked goods that are often available during this week. 

Did you know that you are suppose to get at least 48 grams of whole grains a day? In an effort to make that easier for my fellow teachers I grabbed a few Nabisco snack items at Walmart last week that are all made with 5-25g of whole grain per serving.  (I had no idea that even Teddy Grahams have 8g per serving!) Including whole grains in your day can help you get through the whole day even when that day might be a very long teacher workday.

I arranged the snack items in an easy to carry basket and put some Greek Yogurt Spinach Dip and Hummus to go with the TRISCUIT Thin Crisps (25g of whole grain per serving) and the Wheat Thins (21g per serving). I put the Fig Newtons, Teddy Grahams and Honey Maid in individual cupcake liners by portion size so that it would be easy to grab the perfectly portioned snack on the go. The belVita Breakfast Biscuits are already portioned in their packaging and make for a great addition to any workday breakfast along with some fruit or yogurt. 

As a teacher, I know that any workplace would love to get a little back to school love in the form of a Snack Basket like this one so I created a few printable signs to include with a gift basket in case you want to make one of your own.  I had mine printed on card stock because it's a little sturdier and holds up better. All you need to do to print them is to click on the image and you will be taken to a site to download and print them. If that doesn't work you can just click on these links: Chalkboard version or the Lined Paper version

Select Walmarts will be holding in-store demos featuring these products on  August 11th and 12th so be sure to check and see if your local store is one of them! 


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

45 Apple Dessert Recipes For Fall

As much as the teacher in my hates to admit it, Back To School is right around the corner. Which means that Fall can't be far behind. It may take months (maybe years?) for the Florida weather to start feeling fallish but that doesn't mean I can't take matters into my own hands and start making some seasonal recipes. 

I know most people are all about that pumpkin spice when it comes to fall desserts but personally I prefer apple flavors. Here's a little round up of some of my favorite apple desserts - perfect for fall or all year long. 

These photos are not mine but I have rounded them up for you to enjoy. If you want to pin an individual recipe or specific photo please click through to the original post and share from there. If you want to pin this post and the entire collection just pin the collage above!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Freshly Picked Moccasins Giveaway!

I have a confession to make - I have been following Freshly Picked Moccasins on social media long before Easton was ever thought of. My friend Hannah's daughters wear them and I loved how cute they always looked in them.

Once I got pregnant with Easton I knew I would be purchasing him a pair and I was so excited when my girlfriend got him a pair for my baby shower gift. She got me size 3's so he could get a good amount of use out of them so I put them on display in his nursery and patiently waited for him to fit into them.

Once Easton was born he quickly earned the title of "Houdini" when it came to his socks. I could put them on him and he could have one removed and lost before I could walk down stairs. No matter what type of socks we tried he could get out of them.

We lost socks in the car, at the grocery store, church, family members house. Basically, every time I did baby laundry I had more single socks then pairs. So we just started leaving him barefoot which was fine until he started crawling and trying to stand up everywhere we went.

Around 8 months old, I tried Easton's moccasins on and was thrilled to have them finally fit. Then I realized I had no idea how to "style" them. All the fashion forward moms on social media had these unbelievable handmade/small shop outfits to pair with their moccs and Easton's closet, while extensive, was mostly mainstream name brands. I decided that his need to not be barefoot any more outweighed my style dilemma so I paired his Swimming With Sharks with an Old Navy onesie and called it a day.

And guess what? No one in Target asked me where his outfit was from. They were too busy commenting on how cute his moccs were. And the rest is history. Easton's little moccasin stash is now up to 4 pairs and we are patiently awaiting the arrival his pre-ordered anchors.

Clockwise from the top: Butterscotch Licorice, Born In The USA, Weathered Brown, Swimming With Sharks 

 I am slowly but surely getting better and pairing them with outfits and have loved getting inspiration from Freshly Picked's Instagram and all the "cool moms" on social media. I am loving learning more about the Small Shop/Handmade baby and kids clothing world and have found some amazing shops that we love to pair our moccs with.

He is just starting to walk and I love how his moccs fit him and help make his transition to walking as easy as possible. We recently took a week long road trip and it was so easy to just throw a few pairs of Freshly Picked and not have to worry about packing Easton socks/shoes to go with every outfit. Check out some of his vacation outfits below.

Shirt: Hurley - Shorts: Freshly Picked - Moccs: FP Weathered Brown

Jumper: June & January - Moccs- FP Weathered Brown 

Onesie: Old Navy - Moccs: FP Born In The USA (discontinued but check out Go For Gold)

Outfit: Carter's - Moccs: FP Swimming With Sharks

Onesie: GAP - Fedora: Gymboree - Moccs: FP Butterscotch Licorice 

I am so excited to have the opportunity to giveaway a pair of Freshly Picked soft soled moccasins on the blog this week! Please note that you cannot have won a FP giveaway in the last 60 days and that shipping is only available in the United States (sorry!). Once a winner is randomly chosen you will need to respond to your email from me within 48 hours so I can give your information to Freshly Picked. Good luck!

Full disclosure: I did not receive monetary compensation for this post but Freshly Picked did send Easton an awesome pair of moccasins and they are graciously providing the giveaway prize to the winner. All options are completely my own and we loved FP way before this collaboration : ) 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Tobins' Travel - Summer Road Trip 2016

We recently did the unthinkable- we took a week long road trip with a baby. Our parents' told us we were crazy. Our friends advised us against it. We doubted ourselves once or twice. But minus a few minor meltdowns (Easton, not us of course), it was actually an incredible trip.

Easton has done a few short weekend trips to Orlando and Palm Beach but until this recent trip the most time he had spent in the car straight was less than 3 hours. We planned ahead, did our research and packed an excessive amount of toys and snacks and we all survived. Turns out the only way to get him to nap for longer than an hour is to drive him on windy, mountain roads.

Our main purpose for the trip was to meet up with my parents at my aunt and uncle's lake house in Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia for a few days of relaxation. My parents were driving my brother cross country in a U-Haul (who's crazy?) and would be ending up there on Sunday night. We weren't comfortable driving straight through from Florida to Virginia so we decided to break it up by stopping in Hilton Head for the night on the way up.

We left home around 10:30 am on a Saturday and stopped for lunch at a Moe's in Palm Coast, FL. If you are driving from South Florida north on I-95 the Palm Coast exit is a great place to stop for lunch. They had quite a few restaurants right off the high way and they were all pretty new and clean. Even before a baby we are the kind of people who plan out our possible meal stops beforehand because we hate getting stuck and having to eat at a McDonalds (no offense).

We try to eat at local places when possible but sometimes we stop at chains for the sake of convenience or due to lack of "cool" places close to the highway. We usually use Google Maps or Trip Advisor's "Near Me Now" feature to see what is right off the highway and have found quite a few fun places that way. We also love using TV Food Maps to plan meal stops in advance too.

For reasons I can't disclose to protect his dignity, Easton needed two separate outfit changes between Palm Coast, FL and Hilton Head, SC. This meant we had to make some unscheduled stops at places like Peaches World in Georgia. Yes, it's a place and it even has an official check in on social media. Don't worry, you aren't missing anything.

After a little traffic we got to Hilton Head around 5pm. My dad's best friend from college and his wife have a house there and they were kind enough to let us stay with them. It was great to have a place where Easton could crawl around and play after a day in the car. We we able to take a long walk on the beach, eat a delicious homemade meal and be on the road to Smith Mountain Lake by 8:30 the next morning.

We made amazing time thanks to a very long car nap and were able to make our planned lunch stop of Tupelo Honey Cafe in Charlotte. It was only about 5 minutes off the highway and well worth the detour. I was able to make an online reservation on my phone when we were about an hour away so we only had to wait a few minutes for our table. It's a small chain and we had visited their Asheville location on another trip so we knew it was good. Justin got the Fried Green Tomatoes and Tupelo Honey Signature Salad and I had the Havarti & Pimento Grilled Cheese. I'm so bummed we didn't take any pictures because it was all unbelievable.

We got back on the road and made it Smith Mountain Lake around 5pm that night. If you have never been to Smith Mountain Lake, Virgina, you need to go. Both Justin and I didn't know much about it but the area is gorgeous. My aunt and uncle have a beautiful Lake House and were the hosts with the most as we spent our days kayaking, jet skiing, having my uncle give us tours of the lake on the boat and enjoying my aunt's gourmet cooking.

It was Easton's fist time to a lake, first time kayaking and first boat ride. He loved it as much as a 9 month old can love anything and we were shocked at how good he was the whole time. After three days were were sad to leave but excited to take Easton to Asheville, a place both Justin and I love.

Coming soon:
-The Asheville leg of our trip
- A review of The Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate
- Road trip with a baby- tips, tricks and must haves

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