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Cooking on Campus: Birthday Recipes


Birthdays are a big deal for my friends. When we celebrate birthdays, it always turns into a week-long event full of laughs, stories about the birthday girl, and, as always, lots of yummy food.

My friend, Rachel, turned 22 (doesn’t that sound so old? yikes!) this past Tuesday. To celebrate, my friends and I made her a delicious Mexican-themed dinner. Like most college students, we wanted to keep the meal quick, cheap and easy, yet delicious. We made softshell beef tacos, cornbread, chili cheese dip and guacamole, washed down with some delicious margaritas. For dessert I made one of Rachel’s favorite cookies, my soft sandwich chocolate cookies with peanut butter frosting.

We were absolutely stuffed afterwards. 

I want to share two recipes from this meal as my recipes of the week: easy corn bread and my soft sandwich cookies.

Growing up, my mom made a dish called spoon bread, which is essentially jazzed-up cornbread. She took a box of Jiffy cornbread mix and added a can of creamed corn and lots of cheddar cheese. The name spoon bread stuck because the creamed corn makes the cornbread so creamy you can eat it with a spoon. I love her spoon bread because it is so creamy and cheesy, and is the perfect side dish for Mexican food or just a big old pot of chili.

My sister-in-law introduced me to soft sandwich cookies a couple of years ago. The base is two boxes of cake mix, making these fast to whip up. I think you can use whatever flavor of cake mix you want, but I have only ever used chocolate. You need two cake mixes because each cookie is a sandwich, so you need a lot of cookies. The chocolate cookies are my favorite paired with the Barefoot Contessa’s peanut butter frosting.

Oh man, are these cookies good.

These recipes are easy enough to whip up in a dorm kitchen or a college apartment. So consider using these recipes for your next birthday celebration, or for just another weeknight meal.



Spoon Bread:

·      1 box of Jiffy cornbread mix

·      1 can of creamed corn

·      1 cup shredded Mexican or cheddar cheese


1.     Preheat oven to 400. Grease a baking dish.

2.     Prepare cornbread according to the package.

3.     Add can of creamed corn and half cup of the cheese to the corn bread batter.

4.     Pour batter into prepared dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes until brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean.


Soft Sandwich Cookies:

·      2 boxes of cake mix

·      4 eggs

·      1 cup oil


1.     Preheat oven to 350. Mix cake mix, eggs, and oil in a large bowl.

2.     Roll into 1 inch balls, place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Don’t flatten. TIP: the dough will be super sticky, so use flour on your hands to help roll out dough.

3.     Bake 8-10 minutes.

4.     Let cool, then make sandwiches with the peanut butter frosting. 

Makes 6 dozen cookies (3 dozen sandwiches).

Peanut Butter Frosting:

·      1 cup powdered sugar

·      1 cup creamy peanut butter

·      5 tablespoons butter (room temp)

·      ¾ teaspoons vanilla

·      ½ teaspoon salt

·      1/3 cup heavy cream (I used milk because I didn’t have heavy cream)

1. Mix all ingredients except cream with a hand mixer. Add cream last.


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