5 Ingredient Cake Mix Cookies

5 ingredient cake mix cookies that can be made with any variety of cake mix. So simple yet so delicious!

I love to bake. It doesn’t matter the recipe because I’m willing to try most. Sometimes, the simplest is still the best. Growing up, we made our traditional chocolate chip cookies but we also made cake mix chocolate chip cookies.

These cake mix cookies are so simple and require only 5 ingredients. There is no mixer required because it is easy to mix these cookies in a single bowl with a wooden spoon. Less dishes after baking is always nice! These cookies also are soft and almost gooey. It’s a nice twist on an ordinary chocolate chip cookie.

This cake mix cookie recipe called for a yellow cake mix with chocolate chips. A couple weeks ago, I decided to put a twist on it and make the same recipe with a chocolate cake mix and peanut butter chips. It was a revelation! Why have I never thought of this before? There are so many possibilities for this simple recipe now. How about a spice cake cookie with white chocolate chips? Or a devil’s food cookie with butterscotch chips? The only thing you have to do is get adventurous and use a different cake mix and / or add-in.

Here’s the recipe so you can get mixing and matching in your kitchen with this recipe. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

5 Ingredient Cake Mix Cookies

Ingredients:

1 package cake mix (traditionally yellow but any variety can be used)
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Soften margarine in a glass bowl. Stir in cake mix, eggs and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Add in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by teaspoon (or cookie scoop) on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Cookies will be soft. Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies, if using a Pampered Chef medium cookie scoop.

There you have it! A simple 5 ingredient cookie recipe that your family is sure to enjoy. The flavor possibilities are as numerous as your imagination. I’d love to hear what combinations you try!

Nathan @ 3 Months

Here we are at 3 months already! Or a quarter of the way till one! I’m not rushing these days away because so much is happening for Nathan right now. Here’s what we’ve been up to this month.

Nathan started the month by taking his first (of many) long road trips. We drove out to Nebraska for a second-cousin’s wedding, stopping to see Andy’s brother on the way. Nathan was a great traveller, until we reached hour 9 or so, when he decided he was ready to be out of his car seat. We did a lot of nursing at rest stops and diaper changes in the car, still making pretty good time considering. Every time we unstrapped him, Nathan stretched like this.

Ready for a road trip

We were glad we made the drive as my entire family was (almost) together. We were missing my brother Joel who was home in St. Louis, getting ready to travel to Brasil for the World Cup. It was nice to all be together, even if it was only for 24 hours. It was nice to see some of our second-cousins, too.

Barz Family Minus Joel

Nathan has found a favorite book this month. This simple, three page, bright colored shape book will keep him entertained for 15 minutes or more at a time. I don’t know what it is that is so fascinating but it was a life-saver on our drive out to Nebraska! I look forward to many more months of favorite books with Nathan.

Nathan traveling in the car

After we returned from Nebraska, my sister, Liesl, visited with her family. We are so glad to have them back from Okinawa! Nathan enjoyed the time with his cousins. Addison loved to hold him, Davenie told him how handsome he was, and Jose covered him with kisses, multiple times a day. These are the four Barz cousins…for now! Both my sisters are expecting, one in July and one in September, so the number of grandchildren for my parents doubled this year.

Tummy time with cousins

We celebrated Andy’s first Father’s Day. Of course, I had to dress Nathan for the occasion in his preppy golfer hand-me-down outfit. The hat was the perfect touch! I am SO thankful for all the hand-me-downs and gifts of clothes we have received. Nathan’s closet is full of adorable clothes, although we did move up into the 3 to 6 month sizes this month, right on schedule.

Father's Day 2014

After spending time with my family, Andy’s family had their annual get together in Fort Wayne at the end of the month. We tried to get a picture with 5 of the little ones with their Great-Grandma Schiffli. It’s easier said than done! Nathan is currently the youngest so just took everything in this summer. He was happy to be held by anyone and everyone who wanted to hold him.

Schiffli Reunion

Nathan continues to be very curious. His big eyes are constantly trying to take it all in. When he has a full tummy and a clean diaper, he’s content to lay on his tummy or back and look around the room. There are so many times I wish I could see inside his brain to see what he is thinking!

Looking around

Nathan also discovered his hands this month. He loves to watch them and he loves to eat them! He’s drooling a lot so I try to keep him in bibs. The doctor said that’s normal, not a sign that teeth are around the corner, but we shall see! Nathan’s grip has improved so he can hold onto his Discovery links and shake them, which he likes to do.

Discovering hands

Never you fear, Nathan does have his fussy moments! We’ve had a couple of car ride moments where Nathan screams at me, wanting to be out of his seat. It makes for some long car rides home because his pacifier doesn’t help when he’s like that. We also went through his 3 month growth spurt right at the end of the month where he was quite cranky until I started feeding him every 2 hours again. We spent a lot of time on the couch that weekend. He’s still nursing great but is good at taking a bottle I’ve pumped when I’m away. I’m thankful that he does both well!

Fussy Baby

At 3 months, Nathan weighed 12 lbs and 2 ounces. He is a growing baby! I can see the rolls in his legs developing but he is nowhere near as chubby as I anticipated he would be. Andy and I were both very chubby babies!  The biggest development of the month would have to be that Nathan discovered his voice while we were at the Lehenbauer family reunion. All of the sudden, he just started screeching and “talking”. He hasn’t stopped since! He has long conversations of babbles and coos and has great inflection!

Happy Baby - 3 Months Old!

It’s nice to be on a relaxed summer schedule with Andy home, especially since Nathan has taken to waking up during the night again. Sometimes, Nathan sleeps from 9:30pm till 4:30am before waking up to eat. Other times, he wakes around 1:30am, wanting to eat again. He’s still a good napper, though. Plus, Nathan is getting better at napping in his pack n play, now that we discovered he prefers to sleep on his tummy. Since we’re always near when he’s napping, we let Nathan nap this way, but we still swaddle him on his back for nighttime. We’re looking forward to seeing what changes the next month will bring!

Encouragement for Moms from Lisa-Jo

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Lisa-Jo Baker is a talented writer and as she would say, an ordinary mother. Yet, I would like to add that she is an ordinary mother whom God has given an extra-ordinary way with words. She recently published a beautiful book called Surprised by Motherhood. It was just what I needed to read in my own early days of motherhood. Since then, I have found myself encouraged over and over by her blog. Lisa-Jo speaks to my heart with just the encouragement I didn’t know I needed. Read this. Be encouraged today!

A prayer for all the weary Thursday Mothers reminded me not to “rush through today or wish it over.” I need to remember this. Always.

The false advertising about Motherhood lists 10 things many of us have believed. Remember, “It’s ok to feel overwhelmed and it’s ok to feel like there are some days you just want to quit. That’s normal. You’re phenomenal. I’ve never understood why there aren’t more parades in your honor.”

Not to be left out, share this with the Dad in your life. For all the “ordinary, boring” Dads from your grateful daughters, you need to know that “you might be surprised by what we remember.” Because “the memories of what we did together will always trump the lost ones of what we didn’t.”

The growing pains of Motherhood reminds us that we are not alone. Other mothers are experiencing the same moments we are. As Lisa-Jo says, “I see you measuring your day in inches as the years stretch ahead in long miles.”

Her perspective on what the gang wars and Mommy wars have in common was shockingly accurate. “The thing is, the woman we’re so offended by – she bears your name. She bears my name. She is also Mother.”

Finally, I leave you with this for when you’re tired of the “how-to” books of parenting as another reason you should read Lisa-Jo’s beautiful book. “Motherhood isn’t a competition. It’s a calling.”

Happy 4th of July!

Nathan wanted to make sure we wished you a Happy 4th of July! I hope his cute patriotism brings a smile to your face!

Happy 4th of July

And if that doesn’t bring a smile to your face, I’ll leave you with these outtakes. Our little baby is becoming quite expressive!

4th of July Outtakes

Tyndale Summer Reading Program 2014

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Yay! A summer reading program for adults! Once again, Tyndale is hosting a summer reading program. I participated last year and can tell you that it’s very simple – and rewarding. First, sign up for a Tyndale Rewards account. Then, read any of the books from their list. It’s a well-developed list with lots of variety. Submit a review on a retailer website or on social media. After you’ve read 5 books, you can request one for free. Can I recommend you start with Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker? My review is coming but this is an incredible book for all Moms! This summer reading program runs through August 31.

 

 

Ice Cream Links I Love

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Summer is here at last and that makes me think of ice cream. This is the time of year when I think having an ice cream maker would be fun. However, I’d probably eat too much ice cream for my own good! That said, I have been accumulating quite a few homemade ice cream recipes – all that do NOT require an ice cream maker. I want to give some of these a try this summer.

I’ve already made frozen chocolate chip yogurt. This recipe is so simple – and so delicious! Andy enjoys this recipe, too. This recipe tastes just as good before it is frozen, so good luck waiting to eat this one!

Budget Savy Diva shared her recipe for easy homemade vanilla ice cream. With only three ingredients (and one of them sweetened condensed milk), this recipe looks very easy.

This must be a good recipe because Kevin & Amanda share the same simple recipe. Then, they suggest lots of add-ins to make varieties such as cinnamon bun ice cream. Knowing this is a basic recipe gives me a lot of ideas to make different ice creams!

Not Your Momma’s Cookie shared her take with “no machine” monster cookie dough ice cream. With this one, you mix up the cookie dough mixture first before stirring it into the ice cream. Yum!

Eagle Brand has several ice cream recipes on their site. The mint chocolate chip ice cream is the first one I want to try. I think I’ve actually made a similar recipe from Taste of Home.

If you want to see more, you can view all the other ice cream recipes I want to try on my Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Maker Pinterest Board.

Nathan @ 2 Months

It’s hard to believe it’s the middle of June already. Nathan continues to grow like a weed! He’s 11 weeks old but I haven’t had a chance to post his two month update. I’m doing it now – for you and for me! Here we go.

The month started off when Andy took his eighth grade class to Washington DC for 4 days. It was a challenge to solo parent, but the days went more smoothly – and quicker – than expected. Nathan did try to sneak into Andy’s suitcase but there wasn’t room for him! This was the month where I felt we started to settle into a routine.

Nathan Packing for Daddy

Nathan was almost 6 weeks before I took him to visit my students at Ascension. We had some nasty cases of strep making the rounds that I wanted us both to avoid. Of course, the children were all thrilled to meet him at last! The next week, I took Nathan to visit Andy’s school and classroom. Nathan was a hit at both schools!

Nathan at Ascension

Of course, we celebrated Mother’s Day. There were many years when I didn’t think this day would ever come. What a joyous day it was to celebrate with our baby who made my dreams come true!

Mother's Day 2014

Nathan grew so much during his second month. He settled into a good routine of being awake for 1.5 hours and asleep for the same. He started sleeping longer stretches at night, too, almost 6 hours at 6 weeks and a momentous 8 hours at 8 weeks! That was truly wonderful that Nathan did it without much help from us. I will say that swaddling at night has been very helpful – for him and for us!

As for other firsts, Nathan discovered his hands and will now occasionally suck on his hand – or thumb. He still likes his pacifier. Nathan continues to roll himself over regularly from his tummy to his back. I’d say that over half the time I put him on his tummy, he flips himself to his back. Nathan continues to lift his head quite high, as he wants to see what is going on. He is a curious and alert little guy.

Nathan discovered his hand

Nathan also got to meet his Grandpa Barz who arrived at the end of the month from Texas. My Dad arrived with my Mom (who was amazed at how Nathan has already grown since she left last month) to stay for a week. Nathan enjoyed some time with his grandparents, who graciously watched him as I returned to school for my final four days of teaching, after my maternity leave. It was so much easier to leave knowing that my parents were watching him. Plus, I didn’t have to take him anywhere which made the mornings much easier!

Nathan and His Grandpa Barz

Nathan still loves to eat, and regularly eats every 3ish hours. He decided that he liked baths his month so bathtime finds him kicking away in the water. The biggest event of the month? Nathan learned to smile. Really smile. It happened first when Andy was away at DC. Now, it happens all the time! Nathan loves to smile.

Smiles from Nathan

At his two month appointment, Nathan weighed 10 pounds, 12 ounces, which put him in the 25%. His length had increased to 22 inches, which put him in the 50% percentile. He’s a content and happy baby, whom we love watching grow and change – almost daily.

Snack Girl to the Rescue Review

Snack Girl to the Rescue

 

I love to snack. Really, who doesn’t? Since I like to snack, I’m always looking for ways to snack more healthily.For that reason, I was intrigued by the new cookbook, Snack Girl to the Rescue! This book is written by Lisa Cain, founder of the Snack-Girl website.

The tagline of this book is a real-life guide to losing weight and getting healthy with 100 recipes under 400 calories. Does Lisa follow through? She is very real and shares practical types that anyone could use. I wasn’t expecting the first half of the book to be informational. It’s a cookbook that is more than a cookbook with recipes only in the second half. I actually enjoyed the informational part more than I anticipated.

Now, I don’t know that I would agree with this because many of the recipes are variations on another. For example, Lisa details how to roast several different types of vegetables. I am curious to try roasting broccoli, I don’t know that all the vegetables needed to be listed separately. That said, did you know you can carmalize onions in a slow cooker? I’m buying a full bag of onions and giving this a try. I’d love to have carmalized onions in the freezer for different recipes!

I enjoyed reading Snack Girl to the Rescue! Was it my favorite cookbook? No. Lisa is an evolutionary biologist by training, and some of that came through in her writing. It is not a perspective that I share so that tainted the book for me. Still, is there is enough good in this book to make it worth a read? Yes. I’d borrow it from the library before you purchase a copy to make sure it’s one you want to keep on your bookshelves.

If you are interested, you can read more information on the Random House website.

Please note that I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Our Summer Plans 2014

I finished my tenth year of teaching last Friday. I had mixed emotions because as glad as I always am to wrap up another incredible year, this year will be my last of full-time teaching (for now). I have been blessed to teach at two amazing Lutheran schools over my teaching ministry and it truly has been a blessing. There are so many memories of so many students. Still, like any student you ask, teachers are just as excited (if not more!) for summer to arrive. We have a busy summer ahead of us and it has already started!

My parents arrived from San Antonio, Texas, last Monday evening. Thankfully, they watched Nathan while I returned to school for my four days post maternity leave. Dad left on Sunday to go serve as Chaplain for a Doxology Retreat. Mom is still here for a couple more days until she picks Dad up on Wednesday. Dad went to a TinCaps game with Andy and his students. Nathan and I drove Dad and Mom over to Bowling Green to see Grandpa and Grandma Lehenbauer again. We went for walks and had lots of good conversations. Of course, most importantly, Nathan showed off his smiles and new babbling to his Texas grandparents who love to hold him. It’s been lovely to have them here!

Thursday morning, Andy and I are taking Nathan on his first long road trip. We are driving out to Lincoln, Nebraska, for my second-cousin’s wedding. It’s unique because both of my sisters and my parents will be there as well. We plan to stop in Omaha to see Andy’s brother Chris on the way. It will be a quick trip – driving out on Thursday, wedding on Friday and driving back on Saturday. It’s just what we do – so Nathan will get used to it. Thankfully, he likes car rides! I hope that remains true for this trip.

We’ll have a day to regroup and clean sheets before my sister arrives with her family on Monday. Liesl and Jose are back from Okinawa and heading to their new military assignment in North Carolina. We are so excited to see them – along with our two nieces and nephew. Nathan gets to meet his cousins for the first time! We’ll stay around Fort Wayne for a couple days with plans for visits to the park and new splash pad in the neighboring small town.

On Friday, we’ll all load up and drive to Camp Lakeview in Seymour, Indiana, for the Lehenbauer family reunion. It’s held every three years for my Grandpa’s siblings, children and grandchildren. It’s a good time to catch up with cousins and second cousins at a nice Lutheran camp.

After the reunion, it’s back home to Grabill. By then, our house will be quiet again and we’ll wrap up things in our classrooms. I have to pack mine up and Andy has the typical end of the year responsibilities. I have early childhood meetings to attend for the Indiana district and Andy has basketball camps to coach. Other than that, we’re staying around Fort Wayne. The Schiffli family has their annual reunion at the end of June in Fort Wayne.

At the end of July, we’ll travel to Cleveland for a couple days to get together with college friends. There will be a 1 year old and 3 little babies among the 5 couples this year. It will be a different sort of reunion now that the guys all travel with pack ‘n plays for their babies!

Finally, although school will have resumed by then, at the end of August, we will travel to Omaha, Nebraska for my brother-in-law’s wedding. We’re very excited to welcome Jessica into the Whirrett family! The rest of Andy’s siblings and his parents are driving out with us in the Tahoe so that will be quite the road trip!

Even though it doesn’t seem like a lot of long trips, since we’re coming home to Grabill in between each one, I went ahead and looked at a map. We’re still going to be driving 3400 miles this summer for these various trips. Did you know you can embed maps now? So, take a look.

Those are our summer plans. If I’m absent some days online, now you’ll know why! What are your plans for the summer? And do you drive everywhere like we do in our family?

Mac & Cheese Links To Try

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Lately, I’ve found myself craving macaroni and cheese. Like so many others, I grew up with the blue box Kraft mac and cheese. It’s still nice on occasion, but I now feel like there must be a good homemade alternative. Do you know how many different variations there are for mac and cheese? I don’t know how to decide which one is best other than to try them all! Here are some of the recipes on my list.

Of course, I should start with the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Macaroni and Cheese. Ree has yet to steer me wrong on recipes so this seems like a good place to start. Plus, it seems pretty basic.

The Lovely Little Kitchen shared her version of Mac and Cheese that is created with a combination of colby and sharp cheddar cheese. I made this one already when my friend, Allison, came over for a visit. I didn’t top it with bread crumbs but it was still good.

Mandi’s recipe at Life…Your Way is unique because it calls for the addition of cream cheese. I want to try her Creamy Homemade Macaroni and Cheese because cream cheese in anything is delicious!

Shugary Sweets shared a Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese recipe that sounds delicious. It has cream and white cheddar, which sets it apart from the other recipes. I actually have never tried the Mac and Cheese at Panera but this recipe intrigues me.

I have tried Beecher’s famous Mac and Cheese in Seattle and Martha Steward shares the actual recipe with the World’s Best Mac and Cheese. This recipe does require a separate step of making a cheese sauce, but if it tastes as good as the mac and cheese we ate in Seattle, it will be worth it!

Savory Reviews shared a recipe that is supposed to be similar to the Noodles and Company Wisconsin Mac and Cheese. Again, I’ve never tried it but I like the idea of a cheese sauce with noodles and more cheese piled on it.

Have you tried any of these mac and cheese recipes? Or do you have another one I should try? Any secrets for making a good homemade mac and cheese?  I’m determined to do it! I’ve printed off all the recipes so now I just need to start trying them. I’ll let you know which recipe wins, once I’ve tried them all, that is!

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