The Ultimate Before Baby Freezer Cooking List (Fill the Freezer February)

Fill the Freezer February

The time is quickly approaching for our new baby’s arrival! Baby is due to arrive around the middle of March so I’ve dubbed the month of February as “Fill the Freezer February”. Clever, right? 😛  Last month during the January Declutterathon, I made a bit of room in our freezers so I can fill it up with plenty of freezer meals to keep us well nourished for a while.

Preparing meals isn’t one of my favourite things to do at the best of times, so I know I have to make it as easy as possible for myself once the baby is born. I want to avoid as much eating out as possible but I also want well rounded meals.

So today, I present to you, Fill the Freezer February with my Ultimate Before Baby Freezer Cooking List! My plan of attack is to make the meals I have picked throughout the entire month of February. I want to avoid a big one day cooking session because my body is just not handling extra standing as well these days. Once I create the meal, I will do a post for you with a photo and the recipe.  How does that sound?

Whether or not you have a new addition arriving in your family, I’d love for you to join me. After all, in the long run, freezer cooking can be a great money and time saver.

If you’d like to join me, today I will provide my list of meals and snacks I plan on making plus, a free downloadable Ultimate Freezer Cooking pack. The pack includes a grocery list, recipes and labels!

Here’s what I have planned to fill my freezer. All recipes will be included in the Freezer cooking Pack unless otherwise noted:

Breakfasts

  • Waffles (1 batch)
  • French Toast (1 loaf)
  • Maple Oatmeal packets

Lunches:

  • Chicken Noodle Soup (2 containers)
  • Cream of chicken soup (1 container)
  • Hamburger soup (1 container)

Dinners:

  • Pizza (I plan on buying a few frozen pizzas)
  • Lasagna (I can’t make a decent lasagna for the life of me so I will buy 2 President’s Choice Lasagnas, they’re yummy)
  • Pre-made bought meals from a local store (4 – 5 meals)
  • Perogies & Sausage (These will be bought)
  • Balsamic Roasts (2 bags)
  • Ham with Brown Sugar Maple sauce (2 bags)
  • Teriyaki Chicken (1 bag)
  • Spaghetti sauce (2 bags)
  • Turkey Pot Pie (My mom made us a turkey pot pie so I don’t have to)
  • Meatballs (2 bags)
  • Slow Cooker Chicken Broccoli Alfredo (2 bags)
  • Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells (2 pans)
  • Shepherds Pie (2 pans)
  • Cream cheese chicken taquitos (1 batch)
  • Cooked ground beef (for taco night) (2 bags)

Snacks:

  • Soft Pretzels
  • Banana Muffins (1 batch)
  • Bran muffins (1 batch)
  • Banana Bread (3 loaves)
  • Smoothies (I may throw some fruit and spinach into freezer bags to make it extra easy)
  • No-Bake Energy Bites

That list should give us over 30 meals, taking care of breakfast, lunch and dinner for a while. Plus, there are quite a few snacks. Since I am not making everything in one day, I didn’t have a budget in mind, because I will pick things up while they are on sale with my regular grocery shopping.

Get the downloadable Ultimate Freezer Cooking pack here.

Also, I’m really considering purchasing a set of these Hands-Free baggy racks. I think they would be so handy!

baggy rack

I’d love to know what your favourite freezer meals are. Let me know in the comments!

A Homemade Christmas Gift: Peppermint Bark

You've got to try this simple and quick homemade peppermint bark! Makes a great gift too.

One of my favourite things to give as gifts is homemade edible goods.  In my mind, it’s the perfect little something.  It’s a treat as well as a gift that won’t take up room in the recipient’s home!

Today’ I’d like to share this recipe for Peppermint Bark.  Not only do I love it because it’s tasty, it’s really simple to make!

Peppermint Bark
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Ingredients

  • 270g bag Milk Chocolate Baking Chips
  • 225g bag White Baking Chips
  • 1/2 tsp Peppermint Extract
  • 12 Candy Canes

Instructions

  1. Place the Candy Canes in a Food Processor and crush or place them in a Ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin.
  2. Line a pan with parchment paper.
  3. Melt milk chocolate chips in the microwave by heating at 50% for 1 minute and stirring until smooth.
  4. Pour melted milk chocolate chips into the pan and level.
  5. Place in refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  6. Melt White Chocolate chips in microwave by heating at 50% for 1 minute and stirring until smooth.
  7. Add peppermint extract to the white chocolate chips, stir.
  8. Pour melted white chocolate chips into the pan on top of the milk chocolate and level.
  9. Sprinkle crushed peppermint over the white chocolate.
  10. Place in refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  11. Break apart into pieces and put the pieces into gift bags for gift giving!
http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/a-homemade-christmas-gift-peppermint-bark/

What is your favourite edible gift to give?

 

homemade christmas gifts

8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas: Plan your Food

One way to lessen your Christmas time stress is to Plan Your Food! Sit down for a short spell to plan your meals and make your grocery lists to feel like you're on top of the season.

I think this will be a fun week in the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas series!  It’s all about food! Specifically, we’re going to plan our holiday menus.  You’ll want to think about:

  • Christmas dinner
  • Christmas brunch
  • Christmas eve
  • Boxing day

And well, any meal surrounding Christmas day.  My planning is quite simple.  My parents cook our Christmas brunch and dinner so all I have to do is bring the cheesecake and some baking!

For inspiration, I highly recommend taking a look through Pinterest.

While you’re planning out your dishes, be sure to start adding items to a grocery list.  You don’t want to forget anything!

To help you out, you’ll want to check out the Christmas dinner planner and grocery list that are available in the Holiday Planner, here.

Also be sure to print off the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas checklists to make sure you’re on track for the final week’s until Christmas day!

What will be on your holiday menu?  Leave it in the comments! Any food traditions you have to uphold?  How do you keep on budget?

Sign up for the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas newsletter to receive a FREE Christmas Dinner Checklist!  This checklist is quite detailed and will help you remember all the details needed for a memory filled dinner with family and friends. You’ll also receive a weekly email with each week’s “task”.

Here are the posts in the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas series so far:

8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas

A Homemade Christmas Gift: Homemade Vanilla Extract

I finally made some homemade vanilla extract!!  I had been meaning to make it last year for gifts, but…it never got done.  It’s sooo easy too!

All you need is some vodka and good quality vanilla beans.  I used Smirnoff vodka and Madagascar vanilla beans.  Speaking of vanilla beans, I ordered mine through Vanilla Food Company which is an awesome Canadian site!  From the shipping to the quality of the product, I was impressed!   Not only do they sell vanilla beans, but you can find a wide array of bakeware, packaging, sprinkles, candy making supplies and more!

Here’s the pack I got.  It’s the 1/4 pound pack of Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans, which is about 25 beans.  (The picture is after I opened the pack and used some.)

Now, for the vanilla making process.

  1. I added three cups of vodka to an empty glass jar.
  2. I then took 12 vanilla beans and cut them down the middle lengthwise. (pictured below)  My ratio was 4 beans to one cup of vodka.  You could use only 3 beans to one cup of vodka if you’d like.
  3. Finally, I added the beans to the vodka.  Done!
  4. Let sit in a cool dark place for as little as 1 month.  Shake once a week.

Here’s Day 1 of the vanilla making process

As time goes on, the vanilla will keep getting darker and darker.  I think the optimal time to let it sit is about 2 months.  I’m still letting mine “cure” but once I think it’s good enough to use, I’ll be stopping by a dollar store to see if they have any little containers that would be appropriate to put the vanilla in for gifts.  For those of you that would like to make some Vanilla, I made some super simple labels that you’re welcome to download for your enjoyment!  (click on the picture to print the PDF)

 

Homemade Christmas Gifts sidebar

Fall M&M Monster Cookies

These Fall M&M Monster Cookies have everything! Peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chips and M&M's, make for my FAVORITE Cookie!

I was in a cookie rut. Whenever my daughter and I make cookies, it always seems to be Peanut Butter Cookies. Don’t get me wrong, peanut butter cookies are delicious (and my husband’s favourite), but sometimes I want something a little different!

So, enter Fall M&M Monster Cookies! They’re easy to put together and delicious so they’re sure to please! And they still include peanut butter, so my husband is on board. :) These Fall M&M Monster Cookies have everything. Peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chips and M&M’s, make for my FAVORITE Cookie!

Fall M&M Monster Cookies

monster cookies ingredients

INGREDIENTS 

  • 1 1/2 Cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 Cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 Cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 1/2 Cups oatmeal
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Cup chocolate chips
  • 1 Cup Fall colored M&M’s (red, yellow and brown) + extra to press on top of the cookies prior to baking

monster cookies ingred

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, baking soda and eggs.
  3. Add in the oatmeal one cup at a time, stirring well.
  4. Add in the 1 cup of chocolate chips and the 1 cup of Fall M&M’s.
  5. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto your baking sheets about 2-3″ a part. Press a few extra M&M’s into the tops of each cookie.
  6. Bake for 9-13 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies will be slightly soft when you remove them from the oven but will set as they cool.

*Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

These Fall M&M Monster Cookies have everything! Peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chips and M&M's, make for my FAVORITE Cookie!

Yields 3

Fall M&M Monster Cookies
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Fall M&M Monster Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cups peanut butter, smooth or chunky
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 Cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 1/2 Cups oatmeal
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Cup chocolate chips
  • 1 Cup Fall colored M&M's + extra to press on top of the cookies prior to baking

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, baking soda and eggs.
  3. Add in the oatmeal one cup at a time, stirring well each time.
  4. Add in the 1 cup of chocolate chips and the 1 cup of Fall M&M's.
  5. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto your baking sheets about 2-3" a part. Press a few extra M&M's into the tops of each cookie.
  6. Bake for 9-13 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies will be slightly soft when you remove them from the oven but will set as they cool.
http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/fall-mm-monster-cookies/

 

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter

This delicious homemade Slow Cooker Pumpkin butter is perfect for fall. Add to your toast, muffins, or use it in some fall recipes for added flavor. Delicious!

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter - This delicious homemade Slow Cooker Pumpkin butter is perfect for fall. Add to your toast, muffins, or use it in some fall recipes for added flavor. Delicious!

I’m sure you’ve tried apple butter, but have you tried pumpkin butter?  This homemade slow cooker version is delicious and so simple to put together. Not to mention it’s much more cost effective than buying a jar from the store. I happen to think this pumpkin butter is also perfect for gift giving. I plan on giving few jars away as random fall gifts.

This Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter recipe is really simple. Just a few ingredients cooked in the slow cooker and you have wonderful homemade pumpkin butter. Your house will smell amazing too!.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 3/4 cups Pumpkin Puree
  • 2/3 cup Apple Juice
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Cloves
  • 1/4 tsp Allspice
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • pinch of Salt

pumpkin butter 1

pumpkin butter 2

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add all ingredients to slow cooker and stir.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours.
  3. Remove lid, stir and cook for 1-2 additional hours until mixture has darkened and thickened.
  4. Turn off slow cooker and allow to cool.
  5. Transfer to jars and refrigerate.

Do you have a favorite fall dessert? The cool weather we’ve been having is really making us want apples and pumpkins!

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter
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Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter

Ingredients

  • 3 3/4 cups Pumpkin Puree
  • 2/3 cup Apple Juice
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Cloves
  • 1/4 tsp Allspice
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • pinch of Salt

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to slow cooker and stir.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours.
  3. Remove lid, stir and cook for 1-2 additional hours until mixture has darkened and thickened.
  4. Turn off slow cooker and allow to cool.
  5. Transfer to jars and refrigerate.
http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/slow-cooker-pumpkin-butter/

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter - This delicious homemade Slow Cooker Pumpkin butter is perfect for fall. Add to your toast, muffins, or use it in some fall recipes for added flavor. Delicious!

 

Old Fashioned Apple Crisp

This Old Fashioned Apple Crisp recipe will make for a great family dessert this fall.  Apples topped with an oat streusel topping then baked, pure deliciousness. Since this dish requires only a few ingredients, it comes together quite quickly.

This Old Fashioned Apple Crisp recipe will make for a great family dessert this fall.  Apples topped with an oat streusel topping then baked, pure deliciousness. Since this dish requires only a few ingredients, it comes together quite quickly.

Old Fashioned Apple Crisp

Every time Fall rolls around, I get really excited about all the orchard fresh apples that will be available. The apples around these parts are delicious this time of year. 😉 Apples on their own are delicious, of course, but apple desserts are pretty tasty as well! Like my Caramel Apple Dip and today’s recipe for Old Fashioned Apple Crisp that I’m going to share!

This apple crisp is one of those simple recipes that can be put together and tossed in the oven in only a few minutes. The wonderful apple and cinnamon layer will have the house smelling scrumptious in no time. While the crunchy streusel makes for the perfect topping.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Apples ( I like tart apples best for this)
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 3/4 cup uncooked Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Butter, cold

cut apples

DIRECTIONS

  1. Peel, core and slice apples.
  2. Preheat oven to 375.
  3. Layer apples into baking dish.
  4. Mix together flour, brown sugar, oats and cinnamon in a bowl.
  5. Add in vanilla and cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork.
  6. Work until mixture forms large crumbs.
  7. Sprinkle over apples.
  8. Bake 30-35 minutes or until topping is browned and apples are soft.

streusel

Do you have a favorite fall dessert that you make often? With or without apples?

This Old Fashioned Apple Crisp recipe will make for a great family dessert this fall.  Apples topped with an oat streusel topping then baked, pure deliciousness. Since this dish requires only a few ingredients, it comes together quite quickly.

Old Fashioned Apple Crisp
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Old Fashioned Apple Crisp

Ingredients

  • 6 Apples
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 3/4 cup uncooked Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Butter, cold

Instructions

  1. Peel, core and slice apples.
  2. Preheat oven to 375.
  3. Layer apples into baking dish.
  4. Mix together flour, brown sugar, oats and cinnamon in a bowl.
  5. Add in vanilla and cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork.
  6. Work until mixture forms large crumbs.
  7. Sprinkle over apples.
  8. Bake 30-35 minutes or until topping is browned and apples are soft.
http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/old-fashioned-apple-crisp/

 

Delicious Caramel Apple Dip

Delicious Caramel Apple Dip - You're going to want to find a spoon, I mean an apple or two, to try this delicious Caramel Apple Dip!

Apple season is nearly here!  Nothing beats the taste and crunch of fresh local apples. :)  This in year in anticipation of all the delicious apple varieties, we’re going to head to a local orchard to grab as many varieties as possible to do a taste test!  I think my daughter will have fun choosing her favourite apple.  It will be a fun learning experience and a great tradition we will surely love.

Not that fresh local apples need anything to make them taste better, but this year I’ll be making a batch of this delicious Caramel Apple Dip to go with our apple slices. This dip is seriously amazing! The sweetness of this dip is just perfect paired with apples (or a spoon… 😉 ).

Caramel apple dip

DELICIOUS CARAMEL APPLE DIP  You're going to want to find a spoon, I mean an apple or two, to try this delicious Caramel Apple Dip!
INGREDIENTS

For Caramel

  • 15-20 unwrapped caramels (depending how rich you want your dip)
  • 1/4 cup milk

For Dip

  • 8oz package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt

DELICIOUS CARAMEL APPLE DIP  You're going to want to find a spoon, I mean an apple or two, to try this delicious Caramel Apple Dip!

DIRECTIONS

1. Cream together cream cheese, yogurt, brown sugar, and vanilla until mixed well
2. On medium heat, combine caramels and 1/4 cup of milk stirring occasionally until it hits a boil
3. Pour caramel over your cream cheese dip and mix together gently ( don’t mix in all the way, you want to be able to see the caramel)
4. Serve with a mix of your favorite apples

DELICIOUS CARAMEL APPLE DIP  You're going to want to find a spoon, I mean an apple or two, to try this delicious Caramel Apple Dip!

I want to know, what is your favorite apple variety?

Caramel Apple Dip
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Caramel Apple Dip

Ingredients

  • [b]For Caramel[/b]
  • 15-20 unwrapped caramels (depending how rich you want your dip)
  • 1/4 cup milk (whichever % you like)
  • [b]For Dip[/b]
  • 8oz package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt

Instructions

  1. Cream together cream cheese, yogurt, brown sugar, and vanilla until mixed well
  2. On medium heat, combine caramels and 1/4 cup of milk stirring occasionally until it hits a boil
  3. Pour caramel over your cream cheese dip and mix together gently ( don't mix in all the way, you want to be able to see the caramel)
  4. Serve with a mix of your favorite apples
http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/delicious-caramel-apple-dip/

Delicious Grilled Peaches

You've got to try these Grilled Peaches. They're delicious and ridiculously easy to make!

I’ve got a ridiculously easy, but super delicious recipe for you today!  It’s Grilled Peaches!  Perfect for the summer peach season to finish off a tasty BBQ. I particularly like these grilled peaches because they feel like a treat without having any really unhealthy ingredients.

Like I said, these are so simple…  All you need are:

  • Peaches – cut in half
  • Coconut sugar (optional), you can use honey or maple syrup too
Here’s how to make them:
  1. Once the peaches are cut in half, sprinkle a tsp of sugar on top of each one and allow to sit for a minute.
  2. Coat the grill with PAM spray and grill the peaches face down,  until you can hear them sizzle ( between 2 to 4 minutes)
  3. Check on them at that time to see if they have the grill marks.  If so, they’re done!

If you’d like, you can serve these with ice cream or whipped cream. We prefer them just like this, as it’s naturally sweet and then there are no extra calories! :)  Enjoy!

You've got to try these Grilled Peaches. They're delicious and ridiculously easy to make!

Homemade Oreos

If you are fan of the famous Oreo cookie, you will love this Homemade Oreo Cookie recipe. The filling is the to die for! No need to buy store bought, you can save some money and make these at home.

If you are fan of the famous Oreo cookie, you will love this Homemade Oreo Cookie recipe. The filling is the to die for! No need to buy store bought, you can save some money and make these at home.

Homemade Oreos

We’re big fans of the Oreo cookie in this house. I personally love the chocolate ones while my daughter and husband prefer the vanilla ones. (but will eat any available flavor!)  They’re even called “Grandpa cookies” at my parent’s house and Sienna requests a “Grandpa cookie” when we’re there for Sunday dinner each week. I think it’s the cutest.

Just like the real Oreos, these cookies are fun to twist apart so you can lick the filling. As I prefer to do. My daughter just takes tiny bites of the entire cookie. I’m pretty sure my husband just throws the whole cookie in his mouth…

I’m pretty pleased with how close these resemble the taste of the real thing. You’re gonna love them!

INGREDIENTS

Cookies:

  • 1 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup softened Butter
  • 1 Egg

Filling:

  • 1/4 cup softened Butter
  • 1/4 cup Shortening
  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract

Oreo CollageDIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  2. Beat in the butter and egg until dough comes together.
  3. Place between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll out to betwwen 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.
  4. Place in freezer for 15 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 375.
  6. Use a 2″ circle cookie cutter to make cookies.
  7. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 9 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool completely.
  10. Cream together butter, vanilla and sugar.
  11. Gradually beat in the sugar.
  12. Continue beating until fluffy.
  13. Transfer filling to a piping bag with a round tip.
  14. Pipe filling onto a cookie to nearly cover.
  15. Place another cookie on top of the filling and lightly press.

cookies

filling

Yields 20-25

Homemade Oreos
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Homemade Oreos

Ingredients

  • [b]Cookies[/b]:
  • 1 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup softened Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • [b]Filling[/b]:
  • 1/4 cup softened Butter
  • 1/4 cup Shortening
  • 2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  2. Beat in the butter and egg until dough comes together.
  3. Place between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.
  4. Place in freezer for 15 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 375.
  6. Use a 2" cookie cutter and make cookies.
  7. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 9 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool completely.
  10. Cream together butter, vanilla and sugar.
  11. Gradually beat in the sugar.
  12. Continue beating until fluffy.
  13. Transfer filling to piping bag with round tip.
  14. Pipe filling onto a cookie to nearly cover.
  15. Place another cookie on top of the filling and lightly press.
http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/homemade-oreos/

Now, The all important question.  How do you like to eat your Oreo cookies?

If you are fan of the famous Oreo cookie, you will love this Homemade Oreo Cookie recipe. The filling is the to die for! No need to buy store bought, you can save some money and make these at home.