oatmeal cream pies

oatmeal cream pie | wee-eats.com

One of my all-time favorite childhood snacks, hands down, is the oatmeal cream pie. Something about the pillowy-soft, chewy cookies and their sweet, creamy filling is absolutely irresistible.

You can find about a million recipes for oatmeal cream pies on the web, but the majority of them are either a> too complicated (for me), b> use buttercream (which is TOTALLY not what is inside of those things I ate as a kid), or c> too fancied up.  Continue reading

homemade vanilla extract

vanilla extract 2

As a frequent baker, one thing I constantly go through is vanilla extract. And honey, let me tell you, that stuff ain’t cheap. At nearly $20 a bottle, it turns baking into quite an expensive hobby. But all that changed when I decided to take the leap and start making my own.

Vanilla beans are generally not too cheap on their own either, but a wonderful blog friend told me about a website called Beanilla that not only has great-priced vanilla beans, but they have lots of sales throughout the year too! I saved even more money by buying “Grade B” beans for the extract – they aren’t great for baking but they’re perfect for making extract.

To make your own extract, all you need is three things: vanilla beans, alcohol, and a container to put them in. It’s really that simple. I use Svedka vodka because it’s neutral, it’s relatively smooth (and it’s super cheap – about $16 for 1.75 liters), but you could use any type you like. You could also substitute bourbon, brandy,  whiskey, or rum in place of the vodka depending on what type of flavor you’re looking for. Vodka will produce the most neutral flavor for you, closer to what you’re probably used to using, where the others will give you more depth of flavor.

The ratio is simple So, let’s say I buy my 25 vanilla beans for $16, then I add my vodka. You can use from 4 to 7 vanilla beans per 8 oz of alcohol. I used 5 or 6 (depending on the batch) and they came out great. Assuming I use 5 beans per batch, I will get 5 servings from my 25 beans – about $5.36 per 8 oz of vanilla extract. Which beats the pants off of my usual go-to brand… and that’s assuming I only use the beans for that batch.

You see, I haven’t even told you the best part yet. The best part about all of this is that when my reserve gets low, I can just top it off with more vodka and give it a quick shake – and voila! More extract! That gives me an almost infinite supply* 100% pure vanilla bean extract, no additives or chemicals. All from the comfort of my own home. (Yes, I realize eventually the strength will diminish and I will have to get new beans eventually, but until then…)

homemade vanilla extract

Prep Time: 5 minutes


  • 4 to 7 vanilla beans
  • 8 oz vodka (or alcohol of your choice)
  • 1 non-reactive container (see notes)


  1. Wash & sanitize your container.
  2. Place vanilla beans into said container.
  3. Cover beans with alcohol.
  4. Close and give it a shimmy-shake.
  5. Yes, it's seriously that easy.
  6. Place container in a cool dark place (like your pantry?) and give it a shake about once a week for 6 to 8 weeks, until the alcohol turns a gorgeous dark brown color.
  7. At this point you can either a> strain the beans out using cheesecloth and transfer to another container or b> keep vanilla beans in the container and top off with additional alcohol as needed. Once your extract begins to lighten in color, you will need to add fresh vanilla beans to the mixture. I have not yet encountered this situation.
  8. Use in place of regular vanilla extract.


Mason jars work well for this, as do adorable swing-top bottles like the one pictured above.

To speed up the infusion process, you can chop your vanilla beans into smaller (1 to 2-inch) pieces.


hot chocolate on a stick


We recently had a cold snap here, which I hear is in store for the rest of the country as well.  (I don’t know what that means, because I’m pretty sure it’s actually “winter” for the rest of you, but that’s what the weather man said.)  I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a better way to warm up than a nice cup of hot chocolate.

Not just any hot chocolate, but THE BEST HOT CHOCOLATE IN ALL THE LAND!

I know this because I was told so by my co-worker when she had some.  And also from those who received it in their Christmas baskets.

Oh, and it’s way more fun than regular hot chocolate, because it’s on a stick!  How fun is that?  Just stir it into hot milk (note: really hot milk, unless you want to eat the fudgey leftovers like I some people do).

It’s so good it’ll warm you right up.  It will warm your tummy and your heart.  Especially when served in an adorable, heart-warming penguin cup.  (BF took this pic with his iPad)


This is nice to enjoy while warming your toes with your loved one, or as quietly as possible standing in front of the fridge.  I store mine in the fridge because I think it stands to reason they should last longer that way.  In the event that they hang around long enough that their shelf-life becomes a concern.

Did I mention that it’s also delicious on its own as a fudge-pop?  Like a lollipop made of fudge.  Fudge on a lollipop stick.  Whatever.  Or, ya know, as a cube of not-hot chocolate.

You should always taste for quality-control.  You wouldn’t want to gift a sub-par product, would you?


Hot Chocolate on a Stick

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups)
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate (chopped chocolate bars or chips)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or extract of your choice)
  • Marshmallows
  • Lollipop sticks

1. Line an 8″ x 8″ pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

2. Heat the cream and condensed milk over low heat until steaming.  Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate.  Set aside for 10 minutes while the chocolate melts.

3. After your 10 minutes have passed, return the pan to the burner and whisk over low heat until the chocolate has completely melted.  Whisk vigorously until the mixture is thick and shiny.  This is where you can add extract, if you wish.   I added a teaspoon of vanilla extract, you could make peppermint hot chocolate with peppermint extract, or hazelnut with hazelnut extract… you get the picture.

4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pan and shake the pan to level.  Set aside overnight (I stored mine in the microwave… with the microwave off, of course).

5. Remove your chocolate from the pan by pulling your foil handles (if you covered the pan in foil), or you can turn it upside down if you like.  If you didn’t line your pan (aka – didn’t follow step #1), gently go around the edges of the pan with a butter knife to loosen the chocolate, then remove it from the pan.

6.  Slice into 1″ to 1-1/2″ cubes (I actually tried to size mine to the diameter of my marshmallows).  Heat a knife in hot water and wipe dry before each cut, for smoothest cuts.  Stick a lollipop stick into the center of the marshmallow, then the center of each chocolate block.  I wrapped mine in cellophane bags that were made for “cake pops” (the bags and sticks actually came together as a cake pop kit, but the sticks were a little shorter than I’d have liked.)

7. When you are ready to consume your hot chocolate, just stir it into 8 ounces of hot milk -plus or minus a couple ounces, depending on how chocolatey you want your hot chocolate.

graham crackers

graham crackers

I know they’re not technically “cookies”, but I don’t think you can really call them “crackers” either.  Either way, I’ve been following smitten kitchen for years now, and finally got around to making her home-made grahams.  I intended to use these to make s’mores, but none of them survived.  Funny, because I don’t remember putting crack in them…

These are magical, with a nice crunch and an added depth of flavor from the dark brown sugar.  Probably too crisp for s’mores, unfortunately.  I am pretty sure you would make a huge mess and squish marshmallow everywhere before you made it through the graham.  Crunchy.  Very, very crunchy.

But I loved these anyway, and couldn’t stop eating them.  They are a far cry from your grocery stores graham crackers, so I think I will need to try a few more recipes before I find one that is s’more appropriate.

Ha, “s’more appropriate,” I didn’t even do that on purpose! :)

Graham CrackersMakes 10 4 x 4.5-inch graham crackers or 48 2-inch squares

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (176 grams) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt (4 grams)
  • 7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
  • 1/3 cup (114 grams) mild-flavored honey, such as clover
  • 5 tablespoons (77 grams) milk, full-fat is best
  • 2 tablespoons (27 grams) pure vanilla extract

Topping (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons (43 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) ground cinnamon

Make the dough:

Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.

Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using (I didn’t), by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and setting aside.

Roll out the crackers:

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary.

Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. You can make them smaller if you like.

Place the crackers on parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Decorate the crackers:

Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough and using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

*If you don’t have a food processor or electric mixer, you can cut the ingredients together with a pastry blender. Just make sure they’re very well incorporated.

*You can make these ahead of time, cut and freeze in layers of parchment for up to 2 months


[ adapted from smitten kitchen who adapted it from 101 Cookbooks ]