Delicious Vegan Queso For Folks Who Aren't Even Vegan
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You don't even know how proud I am of this recipe. I consider myself the queen of dips, the master of appetizers and love greeting my guests with a snack as soon as they arrive. So when we invited our friends over who are vegan, I was met with a bit of a challenge.  I couldn't make my go to buffalo chicken dip or my massive cheese & meat boards. So....instead of serving veggie sticks I decided to attempt my own homemade vegan queso. I've had cashew cheeses before and always liked the flavor and texture so I decided to start there.

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This "queso" has everything its traditional counterpart has including heat, gooey goodness and flavor. I served it with all the fixins for nachos:  homemade salsa (recipe to come!), homemade guacamole (I'll write that one up too!), roasted corn, black beans and jalapeños. For my meat substitute I chopped sweet potato and mushroom and sauteed it in homemade taco seasoning until soft. The entire meal was delish!

 If you want more cheesy flavor & color (none of my photos are ever photoshopped cause I don't know how (insert laughing emoji) just add a bit more nutritional yeast.

If you want more cheesy flavor & color (none of my photos are ever photoshopped cause I don't know how (insert laughing emoji) just add a bit more nutritional yeast.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did and I dare you to make it for your next party and we can keep the vegan part our little secret and watch as it gets devoured in minutes! Don't forget to post your photos on IG and tag me @BrandiMilloy and let me know if you're going to try this in the comments below OR if you have a recipe you'd like to see me make! xo

Vegan Queso 

by Brandi Milloy

  • 1 heaping cup of raw unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (I found mine at Trader Joe's-this adds cheesy flavor & color)
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. hot sauce like El Pato (you could also seedless jalapeño as desired for heat)
  • 3/4 cup-1 1/2 cups of filtered water (start with 3/4 cup and add as needed for desired consistency)

Directions

  1. Soak cashews in cold water overnight or in hot water for a few hours before making recipe. Drain before using.
  2. Into a high powered blender (like a Vitamix), add soaked & drained cashews, tomato paste, cumin, garlic powder, seasoning salt, hot sauce and 3/4 cup water. Blend until smooth scraping down the sides as needed.  Add water in 1/2 cup increments until desired consistency. Add salt and other seasoning as needed.  I served my queso with salty sweet potato chips so I didn't need to add more salt. 
Milly's 8 Month Update

I can not believe how quickly time has flown by! It's insane how quickly our baby girl has gone from a newborn to a crawling, cruising, solids eating little lady! Even since we shot this video (almost 4 weeks ago), she has changed SO much. She's eating everything now and on the verge of walking! SLOW down baby girl! I love hearing from you so let me know what you think of this video below. Also don't forget to subscribe to my YT Channel and hit that bell so you never miss a video and let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or suggestions for more videos I should shoot. 

Sweet Laurel Classic Vanilla Cake
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Over the weekend we had the opportunity to celebrate the first cookbook behind the the whole foods baking company, Sweet Laurel and what a sweet treat it was!

 Milly LOVED the Lemon Cake.

Milly LOVED the Lemon Cake.

All of their recipes are grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free, paleo and many are also gluten free, vegan and raw. If your eyes are glazed over simply by reading those words and you're tempted to exit out of this post, stop! The cake you clicked on is most of those things AND delicious. 

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That wasn't just click bait. Would the queen of sweets every steer you wrong? When done well, none of those things have to be bland and flavorless. In fact, when done right, it can be absolutely divine. That's what's so amazing about cooking and baking and the power of creativity when combined with fresh ingredients. 

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The story behind Sweet Laurel is one of necessity. When baker, Laurel Gallucci was diagnosed with an aggressive auto-immune disorder and put on a strict elimination diet, she started experimenting with ingredients she could eat so she could still enjoy the sweets she loved without having to sacrifice flavor.  Because just like most of us, usually gluten free desserts are bland and better used as paper weights.  Using simple, whole ingredients Laurel was able to create baked goods that are tender, moist and full of flavor. Some of them are so simple, they're only five ingredients or less. From there, she partnered with friend Claire Thomas of Kitchy Kitchen and created the Sweet Laurel brand. 

I've already flagged plenty of the recipes in their new cookbook, Sweet Laurel including Summer Strawberry Tart, Vanilla Bean Peach Cobbler and Double Dark Chocolate Cookies. With summer right around the corner, I can't wait to try them. Congrats girls! For the recipe to Sweet Laurel's Classic Vanilla Cake go here. 

 With Sweet Laurel's Laura Gallucci and Claire Thomas

With Sweet Laurel's Laura Gallucci and Claire Thomas

Spring Cookie Dough Cones
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Anytime I'm invited on Home & Family (H&F), I get so excited because everyone there is so friendly and really makes you feel like family. The culinary team is absolutely amazing and every producer I've worked with is super organized, enthusiastic and professional.  I was especially happy to meet Ali Fedotowsky, who was guest hosting that day. I love reading her blog and following her journey to becoming a Mama of two. Hopefully you'll see a collab with her very soon. 

For this appearance on H&F I wanted to create a playful dessert for Spring.  We came up with a sprinkled loaded cookie dough...that you eat in a cone (or on a spoon or out of the bowl-no judgement here!).  This raw cookie dough recipe is safe to eat because it features no raw egg and instead using applesauce for a little sweetness and for the right consistency.  Start with the cookie dough base and have fun adding your own mix ins and toppings. Mr. A's favorite is loaded with Reese's Pieces and chopped Reese's Cups with salted almonds. You get the picture. The possibilities are endless.

Go here to watch the video and for the full recipe.

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New Mommy Must Haves

These are products I swear by especially if you're a new Mom! Keep in mind that just like how every baby is different, every mommy's needs are different too! I also think having my Mommy friends help create my registry prevented me from ending up with random things I didn't use. I love swapping products with friends so you can try and test things before you decide to purchase them. We borrowed a swing for the first three months that our friend's daughter didn't really use but Milly enjoyed! I encourage you to share all your must haves with other mamas and then let me know in the comments below what your New Mama must have is! Scroll down to learn more and shop each item and then don't forget to click the bell on my YouTube channel so you get a notification every time I post a video (2-4 times a month if I can!)

Beauty Advice for Moms with Susan Yara and Sharzad Kiadeh

When you're a mom sometimes it's a miracle if you find time to shower but on most days I try to pull myself together even if it's just for me.  I loved interviewing Susan Yara & Sharzad Kiadeh of FAM: For All Moms on my YouTube Channel about their beauty advice for Moms. And then after you watch this video, head over to their channel to watch me share my natural birth story with them on their show. 

My Mother's Filipino Adobo Recipe

Adobo was one of my favorite recipes growing up as a kid. It's flavorful, comforting and so delicious. It's also one of those recipes that tastes like it's been cooking all day but it only takes about 15 minutes to prepare and about 45 minutes to cook. So if you stop what you're doing right now and make this, you could be eating the most iconic Filipino dishes in about an hour. Scroll down for my Mom's recipe and watch the video here.

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Filipino Adobo 

By Carol Arzaga Milloy

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 lb. skinless chicken
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 bay leafs, crushed
  • 1 tsp. smoked or regular paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. peppercorns, crushed

Directions

  1. Into a pot set on medium heat, add your oil and onions and saute until translucent. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes.  Add in the all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a medium high heat and cover. Leave cooking and covered for 45 minutes. Do not remove cover. Serve with white rice and more soy sauce.
Ooey Gooey Marshmallow Cereal Treats
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Recently I was invited to Home & Family on The Hallmark Channel to make my Ooey Gooey Marshmallow Cereal Treats. I had so much fun cooking in the kitchen with Mark Steines. From his adorable (but questionable) dance moves to talking about our daughters (his daughter, Parker is about the same age as Milly), it was the most I've laughed while working in a long time! You can watch the full segment here. Then scroll down for the most delicious cereal bar recipes you've ever had. I've made sure to pack them with plenty of marshmallow and loads of flavor. You can have fun making them your own by customizing them with different cereals, add ins and toppings! Enjoy!

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Ooey Gooey Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cereal Treats

By Brandi Milloy

INGREDIENTS

  • Cooking spray
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag Jet-Puffed mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 cups Reese’s Puffs Cereal
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate, melted
  • Fleur de Sel, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

1.     Lightly grease a spatula and a 9 x 9” casserole dish.

2.     In large nonstick saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows, and stir occasionally until just melted. Fold in peanut butter. Remove from heat.

3.     Add cereal and quickly stir until cereal is well coated.

4.     Pour and press into casserole dish until evenly distributed. Cool before cutting into squares.

5.     Dip each square halfway into chocolate and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper to set chocolate.

6.     Best if served the same day. Otherwise, store in an airtight container or plastic wrap for up to two days. 

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Ooey Gooey Lucky Charms Marshmallow Treats

By Brandi Milloy

INGREDIENTS

  • Cooking spray
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag Jet-Puffed mini marshmallows
  • 5 cups Lucky Charms Cereal
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate, melted
  • Lucky Charms Marshmallows (marshmallows only), for garnish

DIRECTIONS

1.     Lightly grease a spatula and a 9 x 9” casserole dish.

2.     In large nonstick saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows, and stir occasionally until just melted. Remove from heat.

3.     Add cereal. Quickly stir until cereal is well coated.

4.     Pour and press into casserole dish until evenly distributed. Using a spatual, spread chocolate on top and garnish with marshmallows. 

5.     Cool before cutting into squares. Best if served the same day. Otherwise, store in an airtight container or plastic wrap for up to two days.

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Ooey Gooey Marshmallow Cookies & Cream Treats

By Brandi Milloy

  • INGREDIENTS
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag Jet-Puffed mini marshmallows
  • 4 cups rice krispie cereal
  • 1 package or about 25 Oreo cookies, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • White chocolate, melted
  • Mini Oreo Cookies, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

1.     Lightly grease a spatula and a 9 x 9” casserole dish.

2.     In large nonstick saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows, and stir occasionally until just melted. Remove from heat.

3.     Add cereal, crushed cookies and salt and mix until everything is combined.

4.     Pour and press into casserole dish until evenly distributed. Cool completely.

5.     Drizzle with chocolate on top and garnish with mini Oreo cookies.

6.      Cut into squares.

7.     Best if served the same day. Otherwise, store in an airtight container or plastic wrap for up to two days.

Salmon Avocado Toast
 Ripe tomatoes, fresh salmon, creamy avocado.....

Ripe tomatoes, fresh salmon, creamy avocado.....

 Salty capers and crunchy bread....

Salty capers and crunchy bread....

This is one of my absolute favorite snacks that you can enjoy anytime of the day. This recipe was inspired by me always ordering something similar at my favorite coffee shop but it became a $12 habit when I knew I could make it at home for a fraction of the cost. I pretty much keep all of these ingredients on hand so it's super quick to make whether for breakfast, lunch or linner!  Skip the salmon and you still have a ultra loaded avocado toast!

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Salmon Avocado Toast Recipe

By Brandi Milloy

  • Butter
  • 1 slice crusty bread
  • 1 tbsp. cream cheese (jalapeño cream cheese for extra spice)
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • Everything But the Bagel Seasoning (if you can't find this, swap with garlic salt)
  • 3 pieces of smoked salmon
  • 3 ripe cherry or mini heirloom tomatoes
  • A few sprigs of fresh dill
  • 1 tsp. capers

Directions

  1. Heat a skillet on medium high heat. Butter your bread on one side and place it butter side down on the skillet to get it nice and toasty. Remove from heat and set aside.  
  2. Spread the cream cheese on the bread. Next, place sliced avocado on top. Sprinkle with Everything But the Bagel Seasoning. Top with sliced smoked salmon. Garnish with sliced tomatoes and dill. Sprinkle capers on top and enjoy!
My 2018 Food Trend Predictions
 Hello Kitty Cafe

Hello Kitty Cafe

Part of being a food reporter and trend expert is studying consumer behavior, anticipating direction and being tuned in to what people are talking about, buying, photographing and exploring.  It's strategically figuring out and studying what people will become obsessed with before we all realize it and basically forecasting what is yet to come.  Actually-that's all BS; I'm just messing with you. These are simply my predictions. They are my own opinions based on what I think people will be eating, making and ordering in 2018. From turmeric lattes to instagrammable eats, I had the chance to be on KTLA and share my 2018 food trend predictions. Take a look at the foods I think will be dominating our dinner plates this year! You can watch my segment here

My Favorite Dessert Gifts to Send

I love sending desserts as gifts-especially to people who are really tough to shop for and seem to have everything! Many of these were on our dessert table at our wedding and friends still talk about how much they loved every single thing.  I get asked all the time what my favorite treats are around the country so I finally compiled my list of sweets that are so much fun to send and receive. Please note, these are in absolutely no specific order. I can't choose favorites because they are all so good! Also, I love that so many are owned by female entrepreneurs. Girl power!

BLISS & BAKER San Diego, CA

I crave these on a daily basis. The sticky sweet treats are cereal-ously delicious. My favorite flavor is their Salty Caramel Crispie but other favorites are Peanut Butter and Sugar Cookie. Started by a mother daughter team, Laura and Natalie, I just love them!

MOMOFUKU MILK BAR New York City, NY

I will never forget the first time I had Milk Bar. I had a slice of their 7 layer birthday cake. It's the yummiest, layered cake filled with cake crumbs that are almost like mini birthday cake truffles, sprinkles and vanilla frosting.  Each layer of the cake is brushed with a vanilla milk "soak" that makes it super moist and delicious. Chef Christina Tosi (who I have a major girl crush on btw) is the mastermind behind reinventing all of our childhood favorites. Other desserts I love from her: b'day truffles, confetti cookie, the list goes on.

EDOOUGHBLE Los Angeles, CA

All-natural cookie dough that's safe to eat! This edible cookie dough is a dream. Enjoy it on ice cream, cookies or just simply on a spoon. One of my favorite flavors is Cookies N' Dream. It's dark chocolate with vanilla frosting and chocolate sandwich cookies. Sometimes I even mix this with Peanut Butta Cup.  This is what you bring to girl's night!

MILK JAR COOKIES Los Angeles, CA

My husband, Mr. Amazing first introduced me to these cookies. He is practically a cookie connoisseur. He's had every cookie out there.  And let me tell you. There is no other cookie out there like this.  Milk Jar Cookies are soft, chewy and so large you can usually 

GARRETT'S POPCORN Chicago, IL

If you like sweet and salty, this popcorn is for you. It's half salty cheddar cheese and half buttery sweet caramel.  I survived on this popcorn when I lived in Chicago. Even if you don't like popcorn, you'll like this. It's like no other popcorn I've ever had.  It's light, fluffy, craveable and a great gift for anyone in your life. 

SUGARFINA Los Angeles, CA

This is the candy shop of your dreams. Sugarfina features delicious gourmet candy from around the world. Everything they have is extremely unique. Some of my favorites are their Atomic Sours imported from France, Champagne Gummy Bears from Germany and their Fruity Loops from Greece.  Their store looks like a jewelry boutique with each candy housed in a clear bento box.  You can create your own box with any of their 120 candies. 

COMPARTES CHOCOLATES Los Angeles, CA

Compartes turns chocolate into works of art. Their handcrafted premium chocolate bars are my favorite. From the beautiful packaging to mouth watering flavors, it's a one of a kind edible gift.  You're not going to find these flavor combinations anywhere else! From White Chocolate Cereal to Salted Pistachio, Dark Chocolate Raspberry Rose and Donuts and Coffee, there is something for everyone!

A Candid Conversation on Motherhood, My Breastfeeding Journey and More
 Photography Credit:  Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Milly and I had the privilege of hosting Munchkin's first FB LIVE this year with my friend Molly and her son, Callan where we talked all about motherhood, the ups and downs of breastfeeding, tips and tricks to getting your milk supply up, bottle feeding and so much more.  I hope to continue hosting more FB LIVEs and creating more parenting content on my YouTube Channel so if you haven't subscribed, be sure to subscribe now. I truly don't know where I would be without the community of Moms I've met in person and via social media. It's my goal to create a place for all Moms to share their stories and journey of motherhood so we can learn from and lean on each other. You can watch our first of many more discussions here. Thank you to everyone who has continued to support me through your viewership, engagement and more. Let me know what else you'd like to see on my site as I continue to create more content on food, travel, parenting and more. 

Old Fashioned Homemade Raspberry Jam
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My mother in law makes the most delicious raspberry jam.  She gave us a jar once and we finished it off in less than a week.  I started craving it like crazy. Every time I saw her I would ask if she made some more (which probably got annoying-sorry). It's just that Mr. A and I make breakfast every morning and typically it involves some form of jam so it's top of mind every day.  And while I love buying fresh jam from the farmer's market, it can get pricey when it really is the simplest thing to make.  Whether it's smeared on sourdough bread under melty brie, bacon and eggs (seriously-try it!!!) or simply slathered on a buttered biscuit-we are jam people, folks. This recipe is inspired by my mother in law's. It takes about 15 minutes to make and you only need two ingredients. If you're like me, I'd make a couple batches as back up cause it's so yummy you'll end up adding it to just about everything you eat. 

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Old Fashioned Raspberry Jam

by Brandi Milloy

Ingredients

  • 2 heaping cups fresh organic raspberries, rinsed
  • 1.5 cups organic sugar

Directions

  1. Place berries in stainless steel pot and bring to a full boil, mashing the berries with a wooden spoon. Boil for 1 minute on high heat, stirring constantly.  Add sugar and continue to boil for 3-5 minutes or until thickened.  Store in mason jar in refrigerator and enjoy!

 

Scoliosis: My Back Story
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I've told this story hundreds of times and even now when I start to share my scoliosis journey it takes me back to 13 years old and being told by doctors I would need to get fitted for a back brace (that I would ultimately wear 23 hours of the day for almost 4 years) only to have 3 serious back surgeries thereafter.  My experience with scoliosis was challenging. There was a lot of bullying and moments of loneliness, feeling like I never belonged. The physical challenges were tough recovering from surgery after surgery. But ultimately all of these experiences surrounding my scoliosis shaped me into the person I am today. 

 Photography Credit: Kyle Hartman

Photography Credit: Kyle Hartman

I had the opportunity to share my story with TODAY.com about embracing my scoliosis and my scar. You can read my interview here.  I was also a guest on POPSUGAR's Pretty Unfiltered where I share some of the difficult times I had when I was younger but also how I overcame those obstacles to be the strong woman I am now. 

Christmas Pancakes with Milly on the TODAY Show
 Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton 

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton 

Being able to introduce our daughter, Milly to the TODAY Show family and the rest of the world during our segment on the TODAY show is a memory I will cherish forever.  It's funny because when I was invited to be on the show I knew I needed to find someone to help with Milly. Our good friend, Maureen aka GMo traveled from Philly to NYC to help us out only for Aunt Hoda to hold Milly while I worked! Baby girl was so excited to be on set and comfy cozy in Hoda's arms.  Check out the entire segment and the recipes here and then scroll down for more photos.

 Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

 Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

 Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

 Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

 Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

What to Buy the Person Who Has Everything
 Photography Credit: Cat Clendenning

Photography Credit: Cat Clendenning

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Cheesecake Factory. The opinions and text are mine.

I love this time of year-the decorations, the smell of fresh Christmas trees and tons of family time but one of my least favorite things about the holiday season is shopping. Don’t get me wrong-I love giving gifts especially when I know someone wants something and I remembered exactly what they want and when they open their gift the excited look on their face fills my heart with so much joy.  But then there are those people that you procrastinate to shop for because it’s like they have everything. Do you have friends or family like that? And you don’t want to just get them something random, right? One of my absolute favorite gifts to give are gift cards to their favorite restaurant.

 Photography Credit: Cat Clendenning

Photography Credit: Cat Clendenning

One of my family’s favorite place to eat is The Cheesecake Factory. They make everything from scratch -even their dressings.  And right now they are doing a sweet promo. For Every $25 dollars in gift cards you buy at The Cheesecake Factory, you’ll receive a “Slice of Joy” card redeemable for a complimentary slice of their legendary cheesecake from January 1st through March 31st, 2018. The ‘Slice of Joy’ gift card offer is available exclusively at The Cheesecake Factory restaurants or online at TheCheesecakeFactory.com

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The Slice of Joy card is redeemable for any slice of their cheesecake. Personally, depending on my mood my go to is Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake but I also love their Peppermint Bark Cheesecake, especially because it's only available around the holidays.

 Photography Credit: The Cheesecake Factory

Photography Credit: The Cheesecake Factory

It's a white chocolate cheesecake swirled with chunks of chocolate peppermint bark, topped with white chocolate mousse and finished with chopped peppermint.  It's just the right amount of peppermint and chocolate and it's everything you love about the holidays on a plate.  Plus for every slice they sell through the end of the year, The Cheesecake Factory will donate 25 cents to the local Feeding America food bank.  So when you order the Peppermint Bark Cheesecake it's a purchase with a purpose.  Now if you love chocolate, another go to of mine is the Hershey’s Chocolate Bar Cheesecake. It's delicious!  It's Hershey's cheesecake between moist chocolate cake with creamy chocolate frosting and chocolate chips.  

 Photography Credit: Cat Clendenning

Photography Credit: Cat Clendenning

Oh my goodness I’m salivating just thinking about this. 

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And let’s be honest-who doesn’t want a gift card to The Cheesecake Factory? There’s something for everyone.  I could eat their Buffalo Blasts every day. Oh and when I gave up meat for Lent one year I must have went there every other week for their Asian Lettuce Wrap Tacos (no chicken cause obviously no meat for Lent). That sauce is to die for.  A gift card to The Cheesecake Factory is a great gift for everyone on your list and it’s ok if you’re doing it just to get the free slice of cheesecake. I won’t tell.

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Three Amazing Holiday Tablescapes
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I love, love, love decorating the house this time of year but the hardest part is always figuring out what theme I want to go with. From traditional to elegant and my latest favorite-whimsy and playful, you can create the most beautiful tables for the holiday. You'll notice I love mixing colors and textures and repurposing other decor I already have.  I just can't deny my love for terrariums!!! Check out my post on the World Market blog for all my decorating tips and then watch my video below featuring three amazing tablescapes!

Five Easy Baking Tips for the Holidays
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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Crisco®. The opinions and text are mine.

I love the holiday season! From the smell of the Christmas tree to wrapping presents while singing Christmas carols and spending time with family-it is such a joyous time of year! But for my family, it’s also the busiest time. We love having people over and hosting parties. From being a new mom and keeping up with work, I’m always looking for ways to save time, especially when it comes to entertaining.  One of my time saving tips is to always keep Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening on hand. You don’t have to let the shortening get to room temperature before using it and since it has a higher melting point than butter, you don’t have to “chill” the dough before baking!  I love to make a large batch of sugar cookie dough the morning before I plan to have people over. Shortly before they arrive I start to bake batches of cookies one at a time.  There’s nothing better than the smell of cookies baking in the oven.  It takes very little effort and instantly makes folks feel welcome. Here are some baking tips for making the dough your own. Plus, scroll down for my Sugar Cookie Birthday Cake Sandwich Cookie recipe.

TIP #1 Get thicker, airy and light-texture sugar cookies by replacing butter with Crisco® All-Vegetable shortening.

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TIP #2 Make a sugar cookie cake/pizza by pressing sugar cookie dough into a cake or pizza pan and baking.

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TIP #3 Before baking, press wooden sticks into center of sugar cookie dough to make cookie pops. Great for holiday party favors or even for milk dunking!

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TIP #4 For quick and easy decorating, add Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening when melting chocolate. This creates a smoother consistency perfect for dipping sugar cookies, fruit and pretzels (add ½ teaspoon Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening per 1oz of chocolate).

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TIP #5 Create your own flavor combinations by adding dried fruits, nuts and/or candies to your favorite sugar cookie dough recipe.

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Sugar Cookie Birthday Cake Sandwich Cookies

By Brandi Milloy

Yields 2-3 dozen

Ingredients

3 cups Pillsbury™ BEST™ All Purpose Flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup rainbow sprinkles

1 batch Crisco® Creamy Homestyle Vanilla Frosting

Directions

STEP ONE

HEAT oven to 350°F. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl until blended.

STEP TWO

BEAT shortening and sugar in large bowl with mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

STEP THREE

BLEND in egg, milk and vanilla. Gradually blend in flour mixture. Fold in ½ cup sprinkles.

STEP FOUR 

DIVIDE dough in half. Roll out each half on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with 2 ½ inch round fluted edge cookie cutter. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet.

STEP FIVE 

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until bottom edges are very light brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

STEP SIX 

To assemble sandwich cookie: Frost the bottom of one cookie and press another cookie on top.  Garnish edge of cookies with sprinkles.