Thursday, December 8, 2016

Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies {Cookie Week Recipes #3}

Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies. The softest cookies around.  These homemade from scratch cookies are easy to make, and they have the perfect soft texture.  The best chocolate chip cookies. Pudding,  No cream cheese used. Classic cookies Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

I played a lot of sports growing up.  In high school I played club soccer for a team that was an hour away.  Three to four times a week I'd travel the hour to Denver and back home again with 4 other teammates.  We had a lot of fun and bonded on those drives.  

One time after practice we had to stop at a gas station, and my friend introduced me to Soft Batch Cookie.  Oh my goodness, I think it was love at first soft cookie bite. 


From that moment on I have always loved soft cookies; hard cookies (except Oreos) seem like a waste of calories that I usually turn away.  Are you a soft or crunchy cookie fan?

I have a few chocolate chip cookies recipes already on the blog, and they are all amazing in different ways.  I love my Rich Buttery Chocolate Chip Cookies, and these Soft for Days Chocolate Chip Cookies are oh so delicious.  Both cookies get high reviews from the hundreds of people who have tasted them. 

However, this recipe is my current favorite.  I adore how soft they are; these cookies truly are my love at first bite Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies.  

You definitely need this recipe. Yummy!

Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies. The softest cookies around.  These homemade from scratch cookies are easy to make, and they have the perfect soft texture.  The best chocolate chip cookies. Pudding,  No cream cheese used. Classic cookies Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

These classic cookies are bound to get you a few more goodies from Santa. ;) 

Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe: Alohamora adapted from a friend. 
Active Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 3 dozen medium scoop  or 2 dozen large scoop

Ingredients: 
1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
1 box (3.5 oz) vanilla pudding, dry
2 eggs, large
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 (11 oz) bag milk chocolate chips
2 king size or 1 XL milk Hershey bar, chopped

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper or a baking mat.  The parchment paper/baking mat are not necessary but they help with the cooking texture.  
  2. In a large bowl or a stand mixer cream the butter and sugars together until they are light and fluffy. 
  3. Add the pudding mix and mix until just combined. 
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla one at a time and mix until just combined. 
  5. Add the flour and baking soda in the order listed and mix until just combined.
  6. Finally, add the chocolate chips and the chopped up chocolate bar.  Trust me, you need both.  The flavor and the texture of the two are a perfect addition. 
  7. Use a medium cookie scoop or a spoon to get approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons of cookie dough and place the balls on your prepared pans.  
  8. Bake the cookies at 325 degrees for 8-10 minutes for either the medium or the large cookies until they are a light golden color. Medium cookies are closer to 8 minutes, and the large cookies are closer to 10 minutes in my oven. 
  9. Enjoy! 
  10. Store leftovers in an airtight container on the counter. 

Happy Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookie eating!


My kiddos are so helpful when taking pictures. ;) Who wouldn't want a stuffed animal joining the picture fun. Tho, to be honest I'm just glad they want to be involved with what I am doing, and I'm glad they want to spend time with me.  I'm sure that won't last, so I will enjoy it while I can. I love these cute kiddos of mine. 






Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cake Batter Funfetti Cookies {Cookie Week Recipe #2}

Cake Batter Funfetti Sugar Cookies festive (change the sprinkles to fit the occasion or holiday), fun (who doesn't love sprinkles?), easy to make, and oh so delicious.  This recipe is all around the best.  Yummy. Simple. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

Yay for Cookie Week!  Did you get the S'mores Cookie recipe?  Oh it is oh so tasty. 

Today I'm all about fun and tasty cookies! 

Yay for sprinkles!  Yay for cake batter!  Yay for Cookie Week recipe #2!  Yay for another delicious cookie recipe!  Yay for Cake Batter Funfetti Cookies

These fun cookies kids love, and all sugar cookie fans devour.  The taste is amazing, the sprinkles are fun, and the cookies are quite easy to make.  

Throw in some red and green sprinkles for Christmas, blue sprinkles for Hanukkah, a favorite color for a birthday, or team colors for a game and you've got a personalized treat.  Really, the options are endless and always deliciously fun.  


Enjoy a little more sprinkle love in your life with these yummy cookies!
  

Cake Batter Funfetti Cookies
Recipe: Alohamora adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Active Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 3 dozen with a medium cookie scoop

Ingredients: 
1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs, large
2 tsp vanilla
3 c. flour, unbleached
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tarter
1/3 c. sprinkles + more for topping

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line two cookies sheets with Silpat, baking mat, or parchment paper.  Those aren't necessary, but they do help make the perfect cookie! 
  2. In a large bowl or a stand mixer beat the butter for 1 minute or until smooth and creamy. 
  3. Add the sugar and beat it together until the mixture is light and fluffy. 
  4. Add the eggs and the vanilla to the mixture one at a time mixing between each addition.  
  5. Add the dry ingredients in the order listed and then mix the dough until it is just combined. 
  6. Add 1/3 cup of sprinkles to the dough and mix until just combined. 
  7. Using a medium cookie scoop scoop dough balls onto the prepared pans.  If you don't have a cookie scoop use a spoon and make approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll it into a ball.
  8. Fill a 1/3 measuring cup or small ramekin with sprinkles.  Dunk the top of your cookie dough ball into the small bowl of sprinkles and then place it right side up on the pan. The top should now have several sprinkles on it.  You can also sprinkle sprinkles on top of each cookie dough ball.  However, the dunking method worked better, and was a bit cleaner.  
  9. Bake your cookies at 325 for 6-8 minutes; 7 minutes was my magic number.  You want the cookies to just be set but not overcooked.  These cookies are soft cookies; to keep them that way avoid overcooking them.  
  10. Let your cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack. 
  11. Enjoy your sprinkle cookies hot, warm, or cool. 
  12. Store leftovers in an airtight container on the counter. 

Happy Cake Batter Funfetti Sugar Cookie eating!


Monday, December 5, 2016

S'mores Cookies {Cookie Week Recipe #1}

S'mores Cookies.  Amazing cookies that bring the deliciousness of a S'more in cookie form.  Best cookies ever!  Easy to make recipe. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

It's officially the holidays, and that means it is officially cookie season.  However, those that know me, or work with me or my husband, or follow me on Instagram know that I kind of have a thing for cookies.  They are my favorite baked dessert; I have just a few cookie recipes.  ;)

So, it may be silly to say that it is officially cookie season b/c of my slight cookie obsession, but most people bake a lot of cookies this time of year, there are cookie exchanges, and holiday books about cookies. However, it's still legit to state that it's cookie season. 

In honor of my favorite dessert I'm declaring this week, Cookie Week.  All week long I will only be giving you cookie recipes.  Yay! 

May you bake many cookies, enjoy many cookies, and have a wonderfully sweet filled week.  

S'mores Cookies.  Amazing cookies that bring the deliciousness of a S'more in cookie form.  Best cookies ever!  Easy to make recipe. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

Today, you are getting a recipe for one of my favorite cookies, S'mores Cookies.  I've worked on this recipe for over a year.  It was tough figuring out how to keep the marshmallows from melting away and/or overtaking the cookie.  However, my recipe tweaking was all worth it.  This cookie is delicious!

I know several people that are anxiously awaiting this recipe.  Enjoy it whether you've been waiting for it or just coming across it! 

S'mores Cookies
Recipe: Alohamora slightly adapted Bakerita
Active Time: 25 minutes
Inactive Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 3 1/2 - 4 dozen using a medium cookie scoop 

Ingredients
1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour, unbleached
1 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 pkg (11.5 oz) milk chocolate chips
1 c. mini Mallow Bits (about 1/2 of a 3 oz container)
2 (1.55 oz) chocolate bars or 1 king or xl bar, chopped

Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat/baking mat
  2. In a large bowl or a stand mixer cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. 
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla one at a time mixing between each addition. 
  4. Add in the order listed the flour, graham cracker crumbs (about 6-8 crackers crushed in a blender), baking soda, and salt and mix until just combined.  
  5. Add the chocolate chips, mallow bits, and chopped up chocolate bar, and mix until just combined. 
  6. Use a medium cookie scoop or a spoon to make 1 1/2 Tbsp of  cookie dough and place them on the pan.  
  7. Bake the cookies at 325 degrees for 6-8 minutes until the cookies are golden in color; 7 was my magic number. 
  8. Let cookies cool on the pan for about 3-5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.
  9. Enjoy!
  10. Store cookies in an airtight container on the counter. 

Happy Cookie Week and S'mores Cookie eating


Thursday, December 1, 2016

My 25 Favorite Christmas Books for 2016 {Picture Book List}


Do you do the Christmas Book Advent? We don't wrap up 25 different books b/c I am lazy and to be honest we read too much.  I'm pretty sure it would torture my son to have to wait every single day.  

I have close to 40 Christmas books near our Christmas tree this year, but these are my 25 Favorite Christmas Books for 2016 and they are all being read almost daily by my son.    

Some of these books are new, some of them are old, but all of them are fantastic books.  You definitely need to check them out. 

In regards to Christmas Traditions we may not do the picture book advent, but every year we get a new Christmas book.  I wrap it up and the kids open it up on Christmas Eve.  

It's a pretty great tradition that I love as much as my kids love it.  All of our previous "Christmas Eve" books are on this list, b/c they are amazing. The Last Christmas Tree, The Polar Express, A Bad Kitty Christmas, Bear Stays Up, Tacky's Christmas, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, are our previous Christmas Eve books. This year we are getting The Gingerbread Man Loose at School.

I love adding great books to our personal collection, and I love this time of year.  

Do you have any book holiday traditions?  I  love hearing any others. 

Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!


My 25 Favorite Christmas Books for 2016


This story about a gingerbread and Santa is funny, refreshing, and done with the same rhythm and rhyme as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
Best for Kindergarten to 3rd grade.


This book is simple and short, but it shares a valuable lesson about gifts given and the real meaning of Christmas.
Best for Toddlers to 3rd grade.


Another simple story, but a fun one especially geared to the cat lover.
Best for Toddlers to 2nd grade, and Cat Lovers of all ages.


If the author’s name sounds familiar it’s b/c she wrote the popular Goodnight Moon.  This story, is simple in text, and it tells the story of Jesus’s birth.  The best book I have read about the story of Jesus’s Birth for young children.
Best for Toddlers through 2nd grade.


We love The Pout Pout Fish in my family, and this Christmas story version is pretty darn cute as well.  The repetitious phrases are great for the young kiddos, and the rhythm is always on par with the Pout books.  Definitely check this one out.
Best for Toddlers through 3rd grade.


Have you read any of the Gingerbread Man books by MurrayThe stories are great, the illustrations are consistent and cute, and the text has great rhythm.  They are just fun.  We love all of them.  This Christmas one has a great message of letting others know you care and appreciate them.
Best for Preschoolers through 4th grade.


If you have not checked out the Maple and Willow books then you need to change that.  The story of two sisters is incredibly relatable for siblings, and they are all really cute stories.  This Christmas Tree story is no exception; it’s a good, cute, and sweet book.
Best for Preschoolers through 4th grade.


I always check out different versions of this classic story, and state that you should buy this book dependent on the illustrations.  The illustrations in Ercolini’s version is modern, funny, and refreshing cool. Definitely check them out.
Best for Kindergartners through 6th grade.


Many of Wheeler’s books are funny with great rhythm; Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum is still a family favorite.  This Christmas story by Wheeler is not really funny, but it is a cute unexpected story with a French twist (France + Christmas tradition + shoes).
Best for 1st through 5th grade.


Beautiful story that will tug at your heart strings and make you smile.
Best for Kindergarten through 4th grade.


This story is long, but it is beautiful as well.  Not as much Christmas but it is more so the birth of Jesus.
Best for 4th grade and up.


If you love the Click Clack Moo books then this one is right up your alley.
Best for Toddlers to 3rd grade.


This is such a fun classic story, though a bit wordy and long, that everyone should read during the Holidays.  I like to read the story and then watch the cartoon as a family.
Best for 3rd through 6th grade.


This scanimation picture book is interactive and fun for many ages.
Best for Toddlers to Adults (I mean, I like it!)


It’s a Sabuda book so the pop-ups are amazing.  This book is simple in words and absolutely beautiful in illustrations.
Best for Toddlers to 2nd grade.


I really love many Palatini books, and the Moosetache books are just fun.  This story about a Moose with some serious hair LOVES Christmas and plans for a great one, but it doesn’t work out as smoothly as he’d like.
Best for Preschool through 3rd grade. 


I love this classic Christmas story, and my kids do as well.   I’ve even choked up the last few times I read it to my kids. I'm a crier though. ;)
Best for Toddlers through 3rd grade.


The Bear books are great fun with great rhythm and perfect for the younger kids.  Parents, teachers and librarians will enjoy reading this story as well.
Best for Toddlers through 1st grade.


These Snowmen books are so fun to read, and this Christmas book is as much fun as the others.
Best for Toddlers through 2nd grade.


This book made my previous Christmas book list, but it is such a great read for kids and adults alike.  It’s a little long, so unless your child has a long reading attention span you’ll want to wait until they are at least 1st grade.
Best for 1st through 3rd grade.

  
We love Tacky the Penguin, and this Christmas version is a fun one.
Best for Toddlers through 3rd grade.


A fun read for kids of all ages.
Best for Toddlers through 3rd grade.


This simple story line seems awfully similar to how preschoolers behave.
Best for Preschool to 2nd grade.


This is an absolutely fantastic Christmas story kids and adults alike will love.  It’s a sweet story with a great message that stays funny and light hearted.
Best for Preschoolers through 3rd grade.


Turkey Trouble is such a fun Thanksgiving book, and Turkey Claus is a perfect Christmas sequel.  Fun read for boys and girls alike, and this read aloud is fun for parents, teachers, and librarians to read as well.
Best for Toddlers through 2nd grade.


 Happy Christmas Book Reading!




Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics gets 4.5 Stars

Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics gets 4.5 out of 5 Stars in my book review of the sequel to Mr. Lemoncello's Library.  It was a fun story full of book references and puzzles; it's a perfect book for the book worm or competitor in your life.  Boys and girls alike will enjoy this book. Middle grade fiction, juvenile lit, 4th through 7th grade. Relatable, fast, fun read. Alohamora Open a Book www.alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

I was pretty darn excited to finally get this book from the library.  I loved Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library; it earned a 5 star review for it's creative, fun, and witty storyline with great character development.  Plus, it was about children's literature and libraries; this previous elementary school librarian was a big fan.   

To be honest, I wasn't expecting a sequel.  I probably should've because the first one was so good; of course they'd want to keep the fun going.  When I finally got a copy of the second book, Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein, to read I flew through the book enjoying the fun hover boards to browse the shelves, and all of the other cool stuff in Mr. Lemoncello's library.  I mean what patron and librarian wouldn't like a hover board that tracks your heart rate to know what books to bring you to?!  It just sounds super cool; can that really be invented?  I love library technology! #nerd

For the sequel, Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics, I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars in my review.  This book has puzzles and fun, and the same fun characters and storyline idea of sort.  I felt this middle grade fiction book wasn't predictable; there were parts of the story that I should've seen coming, but instead I was completely immersed in enjoying the story.

This book is great for 4th though 7th grade boys and girls alike.  I think bookworms, puzzle/riddle fans, and competitors will enjoy this completely clean and relatable read.  Now, you don't have to read the book in order, but it will make a lot more sense if you do.  

The only reason this book lost half a star is b/c the story was definitely more plot based.  However, I think it would've been a stronger read and equal to the first book,  if it had more character development.  

Amazon has the following book review from School Library Journal.  I share this with you to give you a better idea of the story; and book description of sort.  

"After receiving a million requests from fellow book lovers, billionaire game maker Luigi Lemoncello launches a Library Olympics open to kids all over the country to challenge the reigning literature-loving champions of Alexandria, OH. The sequel to Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library (Random, 2013) pits teams of four middle schoolers from seven different geographical regions against the reigning hometown favorites, led by Kyle Keeley. The games feature a duodecimalthon of 12 challenging library-related games, from solving Dewey-related rebus puzzles to identifying banned books, all taking place in the ultra-modern, technologically advanced Lemoncello Library. The grand prize is an all-expenses paid college scholarship, plus bragging rights. Before long, however, mysterious events threaten to jeopardize the Olympics and the library itself—books are disappearing from the shelves, and some groups or individuals may be to blame, as not everyone is a fan of the sparkling new library. Kyle and his teammates must band together with the rival teams to outwit those intent on bringing Lemoncello and the library down. Dewey Decimal aficionados, bibliophiles, and gamers will all find something to savor while trying to decipher the clues in this fast-paced sequel. At the end of the book, Grabenstein challenges kids to find quotes from banned books within the novel and to read the extensive list of titles mentioned throughout the story. VERDICT This is a successful blend of mystery, adventure, and suspense, with a sizable cast of characters, in a wholly satisfying sequel that easily stands alone."

Please tell me you've read the first Mr. Lemoncello's book?  If not, you have two great books to read.  They are both fast and fun reads that you might as well read together; two times more fun.  

Happy Bookworm Puzzle Loving Reading

As a librarian, this may have been my favorite quote in the book only b/c I preached this to the students at my high school library constantly. 

"Google can bring you back 100 million answers; the librarian can bring you back the right one."

May you always go to your librarian for the right answers. 


Did you read this book, what did you think of this book?  I always love to hear your thoughts/reviews. 


Monday, November 28, 2016

The Scarlet Letter - Manga Classic gets 4 Stars {Graphic Novel}

The Scarlet Letter- Manga Classic Graphic Novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Easiest and fastest way to read this classic book.  Gets 4 out of 5 stars in my book review.  Awesome read, and perfect for the reluctant reader or those that struggle to read.  Get the story, but this manga/graphic novel makes it a lot easier to read and understand.  Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

Manga Classics is doing it right.  The Scarlet Letter is the second Manga Classic book (Great Expectations was first), and I enjoyed re-reading this classic book in a much easier format.

I love how fast and easy to read these Manga Classics adaptations are.  They are perfect for reluctant readers, those that don't like to read, those that struggle reading the classic literature, ESL students in high school that are still learning the language, and anyone wanting to try classic literature in a different format.  These books are great; I'm a fan! 

This Manga Classics adaptation of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne gets 4 out of 5 Stars in my book review.  

I clearly liked this book.  I liked the adaptation and felt it stayed true to the original story including the themes and the feelings of the book.  I liked the illustrations as well; I felt the consistent black and white illustrations except for the stark red/scarlet A on Hester was perfect and so well done.  

There were a few aspects of the text that were confusing and the illustrations that were a bit odd and/or creepy to me.  At times the story, which can be a little confusing, seem to jump a bit, and the beginning with Hawthorne finding the manuscript seemed unnecessary.  In regards to the illustrations, I realize they were done to depict more depth to the characters and to aide in the deeper themes, but at times the pictures came across as creepy or even little Pearl for example being far too extreme or even frightening with her mood swings.  

All in all, this graphic novel is a great alternative and supplement to Hawthorne's classic story, The Scarlet Letter that kids 7th grade and up will enjoy and benefit from.  If you have a kid who has to read this book for a school assignment, but your child struggles to read then give this adaptation a read. 

Just for extra reasoning to the awesomeness of this book, Amazon has the following book review from School Library Journal

"In 17th-century Puritan Boston, acts deemed a sin were severely punished. For the crime of adultery, Hester must bear her shame upon her chest in the form of a scarlet A. Even when society denounces her and her daughter, she holds her head high and refuses to reveal the name of her child's father. It is her husband who eventually discerns the truth, and by causing Reverend Dimmesdale's guilt to fester, he poisons his own heart. Visually, this manga adaptation of the classic is stunning. Hawthorne's text translates to this format perfectly, and readers will be able to infer the characters' internal struggles from this emotive art. Manga rarely has color, yet here, among these theatrical screentones, the letter A glares back in accusatory crimson. Close-ups of this crest best exemplify the finely detailed line art found throughout. Hester's principles, acknowledgment of her sin, and ability to endure the judgment and hypocrisy of others is worthy of admiration. Even in this more modernized narrative, the spirit of Hawthorne's eloquent language remains. VERDICT Thanks to this faithful and accessible adaptation, this classic's tale of love, sin, and the strength of a single mother will reach a whole new audience."


Give these Manga Classics a go; they are pretty awesome! 

Happy Classic Literature Reading Done far Easier and Faster


I received this book from Myrick Marketing in exchange for my honest review and opinion of this book.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.