I thought since the holidays are fast approaching that I would share a few, very easy recipes that are also cost effective. My favorite quick and easy cookie recipe is especially suited to letting the kids help.
As a person with several years of baking experience, I want to first recommend using good quality ingredients. Use real butter and real Vanilla extract. Artificial vanilla flavoring just does not have the same taste as the real thing. For general baking I use Watkins Pure Vanilla Extract.
Our first recipe is for basic Cake Mix Cookies. It contains only five ingredients.
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup melted salted butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Sift your cake mix into a bowl. Then in another bowl, whisk your eggs together with the butter, oil and extract. Then combine the wet mix with the cake mix and stir. I recommend using a sturdy spoon instead of a mixer because the mix will be quite thick. Drop by rounded tablespoons on a cookie sheet and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. That’s it.
Here’s a hint, I use wax paper or parchment paper for my cookies, it helps the bottoms to brown evenly without burning and is especially useful if you add a lot of additives to your cookies. If you like chewy moist cookies cook for 8 minutes. If you like crispy, crunchy cookies, flatten slightly and cook for 10 minutes.
That’s the basic recipe, but the fun is in the additives! Try adding all kinds of nuts, chips, candy and dried fruit to the basic recipe. Here’s a few of our favorite combinations.
- Jelly Bean Jollies – White cake mix, almond extract, chopped assorted jelly beans and almonds.
- Redneck Wedding Cookies – Red Velvet cake mix, 1 tablespoon of cocoa, 1 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup white chocolate chips.
- Lemon Babies – Lemon cake mix, 1 tablespoon frozen lemonade (thawed) White chocolate chips. Make frosting as follows; mix together 1 teaspoon melted butter, 1 teaspoon frozen lemonade (thawed), 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup of powdered sugar, adjust consistency by adding more powdered sugar or a few drops of water.
- Oatmeal Scotches – Spice cake mix, 1 cup of oatmeal, 1 cup of butterscotch chips, ½ cup chopped pecans. Add cinnamon for more spice flavor.
- Strawberry Cream Cookies – Strawberry cake mix, room temperature 8 oz block of cream cheese.
- Sun Drops – Yellow cake mix, 3/4 chopped dried apricots, ½ cup chopped dried pineapple, ½ cup chopped walnuts, ½ cup shredded coconut , 1 teaspoon almond extract and ½ cup of chopped orange slices candy(the gummy candy that looks like little slices of orange and is covered in sugar)
- Cake mixes are often on sale this time of year for $1. Have a cookie party and see what kind of recipes everyone comes up with.
Here is an easy basic brownie recipe that can be adapted in many ways. You can use mini muffin tins or regular muffin tins, or you can just use a 9 inch square pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized pot, melt ½ cup of salted butter. Combine 1 cup of sugar and ½ cup of cocoa, and then add to melted butter. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add 2 eggs which are room temperature, stir well. Add ½ cup flour and 2 teaspoons of Vanilla extract. Stir until moist. Pour into pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Brownies are done when toothpick still has moist crumbs on it.
This recipe is very easy to whip up in a hurry. Try topping with store bought frosting or adding nuts. If you add chocolate chips, don’t add too many or they will sink to the bottom. We like to top with mini-marshmallows, return it to the oven to melt, and then top it with fudge frosting. Our favorite brownies are ½ cup chocolate chips, ½ cup chopped pecans, ½ cup dried cherries added to the basic recipe. I top with a light dusting of powdered sugar.
And here’s one last super easy, cheap cookie recipe for the peanut butter lover: Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup of peanut butter
1 cup of white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla.
Preheat oven to 350. Beat the egg and vanilla together. Add all ingredients and mix well. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork. Bake for 7 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet. These cookies are tender when they are hot. Try using chunky peanut butter and adding mini chocolate chips for variety.
I hope you enjoy these recipes and that they will help you have a frugal but fun holiday season!