17 Autumn Desserts to Welcome the Season!

I just love fall. The cool crisp air. The gorgeous vibrant colors. And of course, most of all, the wonderful, aromatic flavors of autumn ingredients. Pumpkins, winter squash apples, cinnamon, caramel and spice! There’s nothing better than that. This collection of 17 Autumn Desserts is proof of my love for baking treats with these ingredients.

17 Autumn Desserts

 

 

Pumpkins are for more than Decorating!

1) This Caramel Pumpkin Cake is one of those that quickly jumped to the top [Read more…]

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Over 30 Tasty Picnic Desserts

The past few weeks I’ve shared some great picnic ideas to keep your outside dining more interesting than the usual stand-by items. We’ve enjoyed Over 30 Delicious Recipes for Easy Picnic Food and 40 Perfect Side Dishes for Summer Picnics. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this collection could never be complete without a round-up of picnic dessert recipes! So today I’m sharing over 30 Tasty Picnic Desserts, from those that are lighter and almost snack-like to the more decadent treats.

Muffins – they aren’t just for breakfast!

Muffins aren’t just for breakfast anymore! They make a nice sweet treat after a meal without being too sweet and heavy to toss a frisbee or hike or enjoy whatever adventure you have planned as part of your picnic. Try some of these on your next picnic, and if somehow you have a few leftover, then you have breakfast started for the next day!

Snickerdoodle Muffins

 Bars and Brownies for quick treats that travel way

Bars and brownies are perfect picnic treat because they can be made fairly quickly, spread into a pan, baked and you’re ready for your adventure!

Cookies are always a hit – picnic or no picnic!

Personally, cookies are one of my favorite desserts to pack for a picnic, trip or even a lunch. Many cookies can even be baked ahead of time and frozen so you could grab a dozen of several different types and bring a nice variety on your picnic!

Snacks and Mixes to please every crowd

And a few other treats just because they’re that good!

And just because they’re always favorites, why not whip up some cupcakes? Or bring a small cooler with some fudge in it for a decadent finale to your picnic!

With almost 100 picnic recipes including a nice collection of main dishes, sides and desserts, you should be more than ready to head outdoors and enjoy some great food and time with your family and friends. Why not start a picnic tradition? It may be weekly or the first Friday of each month or the 2nd and 4th Tuesday. Which time or specific location isn’t as important as taking the time to gather with your people and enjoying dinner in a slightly new and different way. Somehow a change of venue and a new menu can create memories that last a lifetime.

And let us know what your favorite picnic dishes are in the comments below. Even with all the recipes included in this little series it never hurts to have a few more new ideas. Happy picnicking!

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Over 30 Easy Recipes for Delicious Picnic Food

Did you know that April 23 happens to be National Picnic Day? It seems fitting that it would fall just about the time when we’re all quite ready to get outside and enjoy a bit of warm sunshine and a slower pace. And, let’s be honest, pretty much any day without rain or freezing temperatures ia a good day for some al fresco dining! I’m not sure what your picnic traditions include, or if you even have any but, there’s just something special about a picnic. It’s not that the food is fancier than most days, it’s the change of scenery and being in the middle of the budding and blooming color all around us. Just to make it easier for you to celebrate, I’ve gathered up over 30 recipes for delicious (and easy!) picnic food for you to try with your family.

To get you started, you’ll find 6 Tips and Menu Ideas for a Day at the Zoo or Park that may include several picnic opportunities. If you are traveling and need some ideas for picnicking on the road, this post could help, too!  Some of these sandwiches are often served hot, but I think they’d be fine cold, or the meat could be put in a thermal container to keep it warm. Others could be made at home and wrapped up to take with you, like the Hawaiian BBQ or Chicken Bacon Ranch Sandwiches.

Pita Pockets Make Perfect Picnic Food

One of the best perks of these recipes is that the meats can be cooked in the crock pot and they all freeze well, which means if you make up an extra large batch now, you’ll be ready for weeks of impromptu picnics. And let’s face it, there are literally endless ways to fill pita pockets

  • Greek Chicken Pitas from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.
  • These Greek Pita Sandwiches start with meatballs and just get better and better from there.
  • Chicken Gyros from Kate’s Recipe Box.
  • Beef Gyros are a great way to serve steak on a picnic.
  • We enjoy serving our Beef Shwarma with a cucumber-yogurt sauce instead of the traditional tahini sauce.
  • You can prep and freeze the meat for these Chicken Broccoli Picnic Pitas and add all the veggies to be served in the pita as a chicken salad. A perfectly tasty and tidy picnic option.

Shredded Meat Sandwiches are easy to make ahead and so filling

Chicken Salads & Sandwiches are always a hit

  • My Peach Chutney Chicken Salad Sandwich uses cooked chicken and a delightful combination of ingredients that taste great and come together quickly.

Summer Picnic Classics never fail to impress

  • Slow Cooker Beer Brats are a classic summer grill idea with only 2 ingredients that can actually be made in the slow cooker.
  • 70s Fried Baloney Sandwich and other such sandwiches are sure to make the kids happy with their classic simplicity.
  • Gina’s Club Sandwiches were named for my sister, and as you would imagine, it’s a tasty club sandwich for any day of the week, especially if a picnic is involved.
  • Tomato Sandwiches are perfect when those fresh tomatoes start showing up in the garden or your local farmer’s market. Nothing says summer like a thick sliced juicy fresh tomato.
  • The secret to these PBJ on Depression Era Bread is the tasty Depression Era Bread. It just takes the classic PBJ up a notch or two.
  • These Egg Salad Sandwiches are a classic recipe that includes how to boil the eggs, and a great little item to have the kids help whip up.

  • Loaded Hot Dogs can be made with 3-ingredient “Cheater Chili” and a little slaw.

Classics with a Twist keep things fun and interesting

Roulades, Frittata Bites & Chicken Legs are too good to pass up

  • These Ham & Swiss Roulades from Carmella at Assortment Blog are made using handmade or store-bought pizza dough and can be filled with a variety of meats and cheeses based on what sort of mood you’re in.
  • This Bacon Spinach Frittata Bites recipe from Jessica at Life as a Mom would be perfect for a breakfast picnic with some fresh fruit because picnics aren’t just for lunch and dinner!
  • Chili Sauce Chicken Legs are a tasty warm option that is easy to eat and slightly messy in a good way, making them perfect picnic food.

And there you have it, over 30 recipes for celebrating National Picnic Day on April 23 or any day you like!

Do you have a favorite picnic food? What about a favorite picnic spot, whether it’s one you go to now or one you enjoyed as a child?

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18 Fantastic Easter Desserts You Should Try

We’re just a handful of days away from Easter and it’s a reminder of all things fresh and new. The traditions that come along with each holiday are part of what make them so special, not necessarily the activities themselves, but the significance of each one and the chance to enjoy them together. We all celebrate in a different way, maybe it’s a sunrise worship service or an Easter Egg hunt with the kids, or a decadent brunch. However we choose to celebrate, there will be together time and there will be food! And it won’t be any old dish, it will be something special, and that’s why I’ve gathered 18 fantastic Easter desserts for your celebration this weekend.

18 Fantastic Easter Desserts

18 Fantastic Easter Desserts

It’s always nice to have new options to add to some of those traditions, so we’ve found several types of yummy Easter desserts to add to your menu and grocery list this week. Some are more traditional, some are the perfect combination of quick and impressive, others involve fresh fruits and then I’ve even thrown in a few the kids can do with you. Whichever you choose, there are plenty of options to enjoy making and eating together!

For those who love the fresh taste of fruit in dessert

Strawberry Pie – This is a classic that you can never really go wrong with.

Pound Cake  with fresh berries and whipped cream – There are so many beautiful and tasty ways to serve this crowd pleaser.

Lemonade Cake – A personal favorite of mine.

Grilled Pineapple Dessert – A dessert that can be made on the grill and involves fruit is a perfect way to welcome spring.

Strawberry Shortcake – Another fun dessert with fresh strawberries.

Cherry Limeade Cake – Tasty, not fussy to make and it looks beautiful.

For those who want to get the kids involved

Meyer Lemon Pies – This one literally only has 3 ingredients.

Nutter Butter Banana Pudding – Have you ever met a kid who doesn’t love pudding or Nutter Butters?

Double Chocolate Mousse – A recipe that starts with brownie mix, chocolate mousse, and whipped cream is sure to impress those gathered around the table when the kids announce that they made it.

Coconut Cream Chocolate Dessert – There are several steps for this one, but each one is quick, making it fun for the kids to help create and serve.

For those who need to save time or oven space

Easy Pineapple Carrot Cake  – It’s Carrot Cake with the word Easy in front of it, which makes it a great option with all the other cooking for your dinner

Key Lime Mousse – A fresh, fruity dessert than can be prepped and ready ahead of time

Lemon Cheesecake Dessert -Easy, fresh and perfect for warm spring Easters!

Tuxedo Bars – These bars are made in a 9 x 13 pan and start with a cake mix, so they save lots of time, and the kids can even help

Chocolate Cheesecake – This cheesecake can be made in the crock pot, and you don’t have to be a Cheesecake expert to make it either.

For those who want something extra special

Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Fresh Berries – It may surprise you to find Pavlova included on several traditional Easter Dessert menus until you see this light beauty with a delicious ingredient list!

Baked Pineapple Dessert – One of those desserts that look way more complicated than it really is, and is great for Easter!

Zucchini carrot cake – You simply have to include carrots on the Easter menu somehow!

Coconut Pineapple Crisp with coconut macadamia nut ice cream – This recipe is great for those who are sensitive to gluten, and having a tasty dessert is quite a treat for those on special diets

Now it’s your turn …

Now all that’s left to do is pick your favorite Easter Dessert! The hard part is picking just one to create the sweetest final course to your Easter meal. Go ahead and pin the lovely  Easter desserts below. Keep it in your Pinterest board to find all these yummy desserts again for your next special event. Even if that event is a family dinner on a Tuesday night. When family and friends are gathered around the table it’s a meal worth celebrating!
18 fantastic Easter desserts

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Peppermint Candy Cane Dessert Round Up

When it comes to Christmas, one of the most iconic treats I can think of is the candy cane. But candy canes aren’t just beautiful, festive treats for hanging on trees and munching on while opening stockings or gifts. They make absolutely wonderful additions to so many fun and festive winter time treats.

 

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Chocolate and peppermint are a classic holiday combination and I am definitely a fan. The peppermint adds a little kick to the chocolate, and I have to say it makes a phenomenally festive flair when you use candy canes to decorate your desserts.

If you are putting together treat boxes or trays for your family and friends, you’ll have to try out the fudge and the peppermint bark. Both are easy to make, and so cheerful! The cookies are great for mixing up with the kids, and the marshmallows are absolutely perfect for settling into a cup of hot cocoa with some whipped cream.

Don’t forget to turn on some Christmas lights and some music and take some time to be merry! Happy holidays!

Seven Delightful Candy Cane Inspired Treats

  1. Candy Cane Fudge

    Candy Cane Fudge

  2. Candy Cane Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

    Candy Cane Ice Cream Sandwich Cake plated

  3. Candy Cane Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

    candy cane chocolate crinkle cookies plated

  4. Double Chocolate Cake Bars with Peppermint Frosting

    double chocolate cake bars with peppermint frosting

  5. Peppermint Marshmallows

    peppermint marshmallows done

  6. Peppermint Bark

    peppermint bark done

  7. Homemade Peppermint Patties

    peppermint patties done half

Do you have a favorite dessert that features candy canes or peppermint? I’d absolutely love to hear your recipes and try some new festive treats out!

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I know there’s a lot of indulging in treats at this time of year, but by January we’ll all be ready to reign it in a bit.  I’ve got you covered!  Look for more information soon on the Healthy Kickstart Meal Plans.  You’re year will get off to a great start and dinner will still be easy with these meal plans and recipes.  More info coming soon!

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Harvest Apple Salad with Parmesan Pepper Chicken and Caramel Apple Cider Float recipe

harvest-apple-salad-with-easy-parmesan-pepper-chicken

I’m excited to share these recipes with you as part of a sponsored post by Mirum Shopper.  All opinions are my own and my opinion is these recipes are delicious!

We are nearing the end of soccer season and we are worn out.  I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a great soccer mom, as far as having a ton of energy and lots of enthusiasm to see every minute of every game.  I like watching the kids play, but six games in one week, four of which were on the same day in a city two hours away has taken its toll.

The schedule has also done a number on family dinner and cooking.  On Monday Jim took Isaac to his game and the rest of us stayed home.  Mia and I didn’t have another hour and a half drive, plus game, plus driving home left in us.  She’s been battling bronchitis and a shoulder injury for a couple of weeks and just needed to rest.

We decided to celebrate our night at home with an easy dinner, a fantastic dessert and a dive into Netflix and a good book.  We’re both salad fans so we loved the idea of this salad chock full of apples, pecans, cranberries and topped with chicken.

The best part of this salad is the way the chicken is prepped and cooked.  The chicken gets slathered in Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, then dredged in seasoned bread crumbs before baking.  The process gives the outside a flavorful crunch, while keeping the inside very moist.  It’s quick and easy.  You can serve the chicken with a few side dishes or slice it thin and serve it on salad as we did.

Here’s the recipe for Harvest Apple Salad with Parmesan Pepper Chicken:
[Read more…]

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Puff Pastry Waffles with Nutella and Strawberries

Puff pastry meets waffle iron

That picture says it all!  Puff pastry.  Waffle iron.  Nutella and Strawberries.  Go make it!

Even though no more words are necessary, I’ll add a few anyway.  Puff pastry cooked in a waffle iron is like a waffle-croissant.  Wafflesant.  Croiwaffle.

Basically, it’s flaky perfection!  Crisp, thin layers on the outside and tender inside.

This dessert couldn’t be easier.  Place squares of thawed puff pastry dough on the hot waffle iron and cook, just like you’re making a waffle.

Spread thick layers of Nutella on the Wafflesants, stack and top with strawberries.

Take a bite and love yourself forever for making such an easy, amazing dessert!

Puff pastry waffles with Nutella and Strawberries

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Arnold Palmer Popsicles Plus What I’ve Been Reading This Summer

Arnold Palmer Popsicles

It’s hot outside!  The dog days of summer are upon us and all we want to do is have something icy while reading a book.  Preferably in a hammock or on a porch swing or on a floaty in a pool.

I know what you’re thinking.  I just shared some Whole Fruit Popsicles and then proclaimed how I could never replace ice cream with popsicles.  So why make more of them?

Good question.  These popsicles aren’t an attempt to deter me from ice cream like the last batch.  These ice pops are only meant to take iced tea up a notch, making it even colder.

Arnold Palmer is credited with making the tea/lemonade combo drink popular.  Great idea, Mr. Palmer!  The two ingredients work great as popsicles too.

Arnold Palmer Popsicles set up

I decided to use Earl Grey tea.  You can use any type of flavor you like.  Brew the tea stronger than you normally would.  Add a bit more lemonade mix to the water than it calls for too.  We like our ice pops full of flavor!

Arnold Palmer ingredients

Let’s talk about books and reading while we wait on the tea to get stronger.

I’ve been doing a lot more reading this summer than usual and it’s making me happy.  Most of the books are paper copies, checked out from the library.  Recently I downloaded a few on my old Kindle and I’m enjoying that way of reading too.  Here’s a list of some of the books I’ve enjoyed:

Belong To Me by Marisa de los Santos  – This is a sequel of sorts to Love Walked In (also really good).  Some of the same characters from Love Walked In show up in Belong To Me, along with a whole new set of people.  The story is compelling and the themes of the book invite you to think about what makes a family.  The books can be read in any order, but I do recommend reading Love Walked In first.

Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon – This book is a must for Mitford fans.  It’s just a delight from beginning to end.  Comfort reading at it’s best.  This one will make you feel good about the world, and who couldn’t use that right now?

Tricky Twenty-Two, A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich – This is a fun, page-turner.  There’s nothing of substance here, but sometimes that’s the exact kind of book I need.

China Dolls by Lisa See – I enjoyed this book, but I will say that Lisa See’s writing is heart-wrenching in places.  China Dolls was not as good as her book, Shanghai Girls.

The Lost Choice by Andy Andrews – Anything by Andy Andrews is worth reading multiple times.  The Lost Choice is very good.  Also worth the read The Traveler’s Gift, The Noticer and The Noticer Returns.  Andy Andrews writes books that are life changing and I don’t say that lightly.

I know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam – I like Vanderkam’s writing because of the way she reframes how I think about time and time management.  In this book, she draws insight from interviews and time logs of women who have successful careers and families.

I’ve also started and not finished quite a few books.  I enjoyed them for a while, but they didn’t feel worth finishing to me.  I’ve got a copy of Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls fame checked out and I can’t wait to start it.  And I’ve got two books on hold at the library – The Boys in the Boat (I’ve heard great things about this book) and Hamilton: The Revolution (about the Broadway musical).

We better finish out the popsicles now.

Arnold Palmer Popsicles Plus What I've Been Reading This Summer

Serves: 8 popsicles

Ingredients
  • 1½ cups strong brewed tea, cooled
  • 1½ cups lemonade
Instructions
  1. Stir tea and lemonade together.
  2. Pour into popsicle molds.
  3. Freeze until firm, 3-4 hours.

 

 

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Homemade Popsicles with Whole Fruit

Whole Fruit Pina Colada Popsicles

A few weeks ago, I got a bright idea.  I decided to make homemade popsicles with real fruit so we would always have a healthy snack around this summer.  This idea was so perfect!

There’s no end of flavors you can make and they’re all delicious.  (See the recipes below for Pina Colada Popsicles and Cherry Vanilla Yogurt Popsicles)

Whole fruit is good for you.

They’re quick and easy to make.

The molds were cheap to buy in the grocery store.

I was sure that I’d be able to resist my beloved ice cream once I had a freezer filled with homemade pops.

All of those things were true, but one.  I’ll let you guess which one.

I started by making Pina Colada Popsicles based on the recipe by Shutterbean.  I didn’t use real rum in mine, but went with imitation extract.  You can also leave out the rum flavor all together.  I also didn’t strain the popsicles before freezing.  I wasn’t concerned with making them perfectly smooth.

I really liked the Pina Colada Popsicles.  They taste like vacation and summertime.  So refreshing!

Homemade Popsicles with Whole Fruit

Serves: 10 popsicles

Ingredients
  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut in cubes
  • ⅓ cup canned coconut milk, stirred well
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. rum extract
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend till smooth.
  2. Pour into popsicle molds.
  3. Freeze until firm, 3-4 hours.

Cherry Vanilla Yogurt Popsicle

For the Cherry Vanilla Yogurt Popsicles I used a bag of frozen triple variety cherries I bought at Costco.  I envisioned the vanilla yogurt being more swirled in these, but it turned out more blended.  Next time, I think I would just stir it all together and not worry about trying to make them look pretty.

The flavor of the Cherry Vanilla Yogurt pops is wonderful.  Very cherry with creamy, sweet yogurt.  This could be breakfast!

This recipe is based on this one from Steel House Kitchen. I used Greek style vanilla yogurt instead of plain and I skipped the honey.

Homemade Popsicles with Whole Fruit

Serves: 10 popsicles

Ingredients
  • 2 cups frozen cherries, thawed
  • 1 cup Greek style vanilla yogurt
Instructions
  1. Place cherries in blender and blend till nearly smooth.
  2. Stir yogurt into cherries.
  3. Pour into popsicle molds.
  4. Freeze till firm, 3-4 hours.

As I said at the top of the post, all of the statements below are true except one.

There are more homemade popsicle variations than there are fruits.  So many to choose from!

Popsicles made with real fruit is healthy, especially if you include other healthy ingredients.

Freezer pops only take a few minutes of prep time.  Once they’re in the freezer it’s just a matter of waiting.

Decent popsicle molds are readily available and inexpensive.

For the statement that didn’t turn out to be true – Even with a freezer full of delicious, homemade popsicles I cannot give up the ice cream.  You guys, I love ice cream with a deep, deep love.  I can’t quit it!

 

via GIPHY

 

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Learning to Enjoy the Good Things in Life – Plus S’mores Milkshakes

Smores Chocolate Milkshake

Back in the winter, during a big snow that confined us in the house, Jim and I decided to cash in our frequent flyer miles.  We booked a trip to Paris, France for the first week of August.  Crazy!  We’ve been gathering air miles and thinking of going to Europe for a few years now, but we kept putting it off for one reason and another.  It felt good to have the trip booked and planned.

As the trip got closer, I started to feel like maybe we shouldn’t go.  It just feels so extravagant.  Then we discovered that the dishwasher had been leaking slowly for a long time.  Long enough to ruin the cabinet next to it.

Things had to be propped up.

Kitchen without dishwasher and cabinet

I began to really wonder if we should spend the money on the trip.  We can still afford it though, and of course, it was too late to cancel anyway.  But I was having such trouble justifying the trip to myself.

I mean – Paris!  It’s a dream trip!  We aren’t celebrating anything.  No big birthdays or anniversaries.  If we wanted to get away, we could do a closer trip that’s less expensive.

Then it hit me that Paris is like those wonderful milkshakes you see on Instagram and Pinterest – the kind with a whole other dessert on top of them.  Just like those shakes, Paris is decadent and delicious and absolutely impossible to justify.

Smores Milkshake with Cookie

The thing is, why should I need to justify it to myself at all?

I realized that I have trouble accepting the really great things in life and enjoying them as they come.

I determined to change my attitude about the trip.  To stop trying to justify it and stop feeling guilty for taking a once in a lifetime trip with my husband.  Honestly it doesn’t get any better than that and I want to enjoy it fully with no guilt attached and no need to justify it.

Shortly after this epiphany, Jim had a bad bike wreck.  I got a call at 6:30am from a stranger saying he’d been in an accident and they were waiting on the ambulance.  By the time I got there, he was loaded on the ambulance, bleeding and immobilized because they feared a neck or spine injury.

He ended up having a concussion and lots of bruises, scrapes and road rash, but he’s recovering just fine.  His wreck was three weeks before our trip, but he’s going to be fine to go.

Then the air conditioner in our house stopped working.  More real life stuff coming at us.  More reasons to make me second guess taking this trip.

Milkshake jar ready

Life is messy.  But we are all prepped for this trip.  Life isn’t perfect, and waiting for the perfect time for a once in a lifetime event would be foolish.  We are ready to experience all the decadent goodness of traveling together to Paris!

Which brings me to these S’mores Milkshakes.  We consume a lot of milkshakes at our house, but they aren’t as decadent as these.  This time, I wanted to go all out!

I started with top notch ingredients.

Kroger_PromisedLand_Breyers_Summer_Milkshake_asset_1_500x500_061516_V2[2]

I popped into Kroger for Promised Land Chocolate Milk and Breyers Chocolate Ice Cream.  The actual milkshake part of this dessert has only those two ingredients.  And I have to say that this is the best chocolate milkshake I’ve ever had at home.  That Promised Land Chocolate Milk is almost like a milkshake before even adding ice cream.  It’s so good!

The S’mores part of the shake comes from prepping the jar and adding a S’mores cookie that I picked up in the Kroger bakery.

To prep the jar, I swiped marshmallow and fudge toppings inside the glasses.  More marshmallow topping rimmed the outside of the jars and dripped down in imperfect, messy streams.  I scattered chocolate sprinkles on the marshmallow topping.

Pour the chocolate milkshake into the prepped glasses.  Top with another scoop of ice cream, so that the cookie has something to hold onto.  Add whipped cream and stick the in the cookie.

Did I mention you’ll want a plate under these?  Once the cookie goes in, the milkshake will begin to overflow in a lovely, messy this-is-too-good-to-be-true kind of way!

Promis Land milk with milkshake

You need to make these milkshakes!  And when you do, think about savoring the good things in life without attaching any strings to them.  No justification.  No guilt.

Drink the chocolatey shake.  Eat the cookie.  Scrape the fudge and marshmallow from inside the glass.  Then lick the outside too!

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Disclosure: I have written this post on behalf of Kroger, Promised Land and Breyers.  I have been compensated for this post, however all opinions are my own.

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