S'more Pretzel Bites

Who doesn’t love a good snack? I, for one, cannot say no to a delicious looking bite-sized morsel of goodness. However, I am not one to choose the sweets over the savory most times. I would rather have cheese, bologna and crackers instead of candy. However, every so often having a sweet snack is something I crave. That’s what happened last week. I had a great idea to make S’mores! Who doesn’t love a puffed up marshmallow with melting chocolate sandwiched between two salty pretzels? However, it’s chilly outside and we don’t have a grill yet or a fire pit to roast any mallows. Of course, that was no deterrent for a determined gal like myself. I remembered a few weeks back Nick and I toasted some marshmallows over the comfort of our fantastic gas stove! He is a great roaster of marshmallows. I am being completely serious; he made the best-roasted marshmallow I had ever had in my life. It was a bit seared on the outside but perfectly ooey and gooey on the inside. Heavenly. Seriously.

However, giving my craving some serious thought I thought maybe it was not so safe to try to toast a S’more sandwich over an opened flame in my kitchen. Come on, burning some grass or outside stuff seemed more acceptable than the possibility of burning down the house, or, maybe even worse, causing damage to our beautiful appliance. So I decided to use the microwave. Yes, I hear you gasping. She used a microwave? Yes, yes. Calm down. Take an aspirin.
They turned out great. Take a look.

______________________________

Nutritional Information
Servings: 52
Serving Size: 1 S’more Bite
Calories: 38.9
Fat: 1.1 g
Carbohydrates: 6.9 g
Fiber: .2 g
Protein: .5 g
Points+: 1

______________________________

Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from Love from the Oven

  • Pretzels
  • 5 Chocolate Bars {I used Hershey Bars}
  • Marshmallows {You can use either small or large, if you use large just split in thirds}

Directions:

  • Sit the marshmallow pieces on your pretzel; add some chocolate and then microwave for a few seconds, until the marshmallow begins to rise
  • Pull them out; add the second pretzel and let set. I put mine in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
  • I stopped at this point, but you could easily submerge these little guys in melted chocolate. I tried with one of the pretzel bites but it was just too sweet for me. I know there are plenty of you out there who can handle the extra chocolate. So go ahead and cover them with melted chocolate.

Enjoy!! xoxo Mel

Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins

Is it too late to say Happy New Year? I hope not. It is so hard to believe we are already more than a week into an entirely new chapter. Last year served as an incredibly transitional year for Nick and I. Nick was promoted. We added a new fur baby to our lives. We built a brand new house; our first house. We grew as a couple, we laughed, I cried, and we argued like any two people who love each other do. It was an incredible whirlwind. We slid into the end of the year pretty smoothly – we moved into our house the week of Thanksgiving and took us to the New Year to get acquainted with everything. 

We are still not completely moved in. We still have “stuff” at hour parents house. We have a long way to go with decorating this place – we need furniture, a formal dining room set, a kitchenette table w/ chairs, formal living room furniture, televisions, curtains, and so on. We may be old by the time we get this place in complete working order, but it will be another adventure.

We love adventure. And as long as I’m building a life with Nick, nothing else really matters.

The New Year also brought sufficient pain, which is why it has taken me so long to get back into the blogging world. When everybody else was celebrating the coming of a new year, I was in excruciating pain. I was plagued by kidney stones; still am, kind of. I’ll spare you the details, but I’m trying to pass a huge stone and it’s not fun. 

So I’m starting off slow with this recipe. Starting off slow does not mean I’m holding back on the taste.

Nope. 

This recipe is packed full. Take a look at these fantastically delicious Peanut Butter Chocolate Muffins! I happen to love this kind of combination of flavors. The best cookies I’ve ever known {besides my moms chocolate chip cookies} are peanut butter chocolate cookies. I used to long for grocery shopping on Sunday because I would wander over to the bakery and beg my mom for the chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips! 

::Love::

Servings: 20
Serving Size: 1 cupcake
Calories: 232.8
Fat: 16.5 g
Carbohydrates: 22.5 g
Fiber: 1.3 g
Protein: 4.3 g
Points+: 7

Ingredients:

Recipes Adapted from Pass the Sushi

  • 1 ¾ cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter Chips, reserve about ¼ cup for sprinkling
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, sugar and ¾ cup of the peanut butter chips together in a large dish
  • Mix together the milk, oil, egg,  and vanilla extract
  • Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together
  • Spoon the batter into greased muffins tins
  • Sprinkle each with a few peanut butter chips
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the muffins are springy and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

(My oven cooked these pretty quickly; keep your eye on them!}

 

Remove & Enjoy!

xoxo Mel 

Mini Cheesy Corn Dog Muffins

Attention, attention my bestie is in transit and I’m super excited. I fear that I’m about to fail him in the fun department because I have absolutely nothing planned. Really, who would want to be my friend? I’m sure I can have Pippy and Sophie entertain Scott until Nick gets home! On top of it all, I have nothing planned for food. Hopefully that will work itself out by tomorrow morning, but that still leaves the slightly awkward issue of dinner tonight.

Oh well.

Today I have a fantastic kid friendly recipe. Take a look at these Mini Cheesy Corn Dog Muffins. I heart them tremendously.

Nutritional Information
Servings: 24
Serving Size: 1 Corn Dog Muffin
Calories: 85.8
Fat: 6.6 g
Carbohydrates: 4.8 g
Fiber: .2 g
Protein: 1.7 g
Points+: 2

Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

¼ cup melted butter

¼ cup Splenda

1 egg

½ cup heavy cream

¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ cup white cornmeal

½ cup flour

¼ teaspoon salt

5 all beef, cheese filled, hot dogs, cut into 1 inch bites

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Combine butter and sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine

Add eggs and whisk to incorporate. Add heavy cream and whisk to incorporate

In a separate bowl, combine baking soda, cornmeal, flour and salt. Stir to combine. Whisk into wet ingredients in two batches

Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray, and spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each mini muffin cup

Place one hot dog bite into the middle of each cup

Bake 8 to 12 minutes, or until cornbread is golden brown. Cool and enjoy!!

These little guys were so good. You could easily use boxed cornbread instead of making yours from scratch. Either way these little guys will be the hit of the meal!

xoxo Mel

Homemade Pretzels

Happy Friday Foodies! I am reporting to you from the gloomy Northeast right now. I hope it stays gloomy for the remainder of the day. I considered taking the day off, but then I remembered I had a fantastic recipe for you today. Well, I think it is fantastic. I knew that it would drive me crazy if I had to wait another minute to share it with you. So I am going to blog and run today.

I am not feeling well today.

I’ve got a case of need to stay in bed, watch the Housewives and drink hot chocolate today blues.

And I think that is what I will do, with some deviations in between.

Since today is Friday, I have a great Kid-Friendly recipe for you today. And when I say great, I mean this recipe is INCREDIBLE! Are you ready?! Today I give you Homemade Pretzels! I have wanted to make these for some time now and I figured what better way to debut this recipe than on Kid-Friendly Friday? Next time I am going to try bite-sized pretzels with a twist. Maybe you will see those next week! These little guys are super easy to make, pretty fun to put together and even better to eat. It is a fun process that makes cooking with your little sous chefs even better than normal!

Nutritional Information:


Serving Size: 1 Salted Pretzel              1 Cinnamon & Sugar Pretzel
Calories: 164.1                                    194.1
Fat: 1.7 g                                             1.7 g
Carbohydrates: 30.75 g                       38.75 g
Fiber: 0                                                 0
Protein: 4.5 g                                       4.5 g
Points+: 4                                            5
 

Let’s get down to business. Here is what you will need:

  • 1 ½ cups warm water {110 degrees F}
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 cups flour {plus some for dusting}
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Vegetable oil {for greasing your bowl}
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter, for topping
  • Course sea salt for topping
  • Cinnamon sugar for topping {brown sugar, regular sugar, cinnamon}

Directions:

  • Measure the water  and put into a bowl
  • Sprinkle in the sugar and yeast and stir gently to dissolve
  • Then stir in 4 cups of the flour and the salt until combined
  • Gather the dough in your hands and place on a floured surface
  • Knead the dough, working in more flour if you need it. Continue kneading for an additional 8 minutes.
  • Place the dough in a large bowl that has been greased with vegetable oil
  • Turn the dough over a couple of times until it is lightly coated with oil
  • Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot until the dough rises to double its size, about an hour
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F
  • Punch down the dough and divide it into 12 to 16 pieces
  • Roll each piece into an 18 inch long stick and then twist it into a pretzel shape
  • Fill a large stainless setel pot with 3 inches of water
  • Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and keep the water at a rolling simmer
  • Add the baking soda to the water
  • Gently drop a pretzel into the simmering water and punch for 1 minute

  • Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pretzel to a greased cookie sheet
  • Repeat for all
  • Brush on beating egg
  • Sprinkle ½ of the pretzels with course sea salt
  • Bake the pretzels for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden
  • Brush on melted butter and roll the other half of the pretzels in the cinnamon & sugar mixture

Voila! It’s that easy! I had a lot of fun making these and Nick had a lot of fun eating them. They were incredibly delicious {way more delicious than I ever thought they were going to be}.

Your sous chefs could easily be involved with the kneading process, the punching of the dough and the rolling of the pretzels into some sort of pretzel shape! Oh, and remember, they will LOVE rolling the pretzels in the cinnamon & sugar mixture. That’s one of my favorite things to do because the cinnamon that sticks to my fingers goes right into my mouth!

I hope you all give these a try! Everybody will love helping & love eating!

Until Next Time,

Happy Pretzel Makin’ 

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Stuffed Pizza - anyway you like it!

Happy Friday Foodies! Everything seems better on Friday, even if you’re going through a lot! I’m super excited that it is the end of the week. Hopefully Nick will come home early and he, my mom & I will have a great weekend.

I have not done much cooking this week. In fact, I think I only cooked twice – on Tuesday & Wednesday. I have to cook something tonight, but I might have to forgo any other food today because I did the unthinkable this morning. I had McDonald’s Breakfast! I feel totally guilty. I feel so full of gross stuff that I don’t even want to think about. I don’t think I’ll eat for the rest of the day. Bah!

You know what Friday’s mean, right? It means Cooking with Mel goes Kid-Friendly. This week I have a cool twist to a regular pizza. Are you ready? Today I have Stuffed Pizza for you. I don’t know if there is a particular way to make stuffed pizza, but I did it the way I thought it would work given the kitchen utensils we had available.

The fun part about making this pizza is you can fill the inside of the pizza with anything your little heart desires. We used what we had on hand, but you can add anything your kids love. In fact, it would be awesome if you let your kids make their own stuffed pizza. They are not that big. Though, I would not recommend them eating an entire pizza by themselves either.

Nutritional Information
Serving Size: 1/6th
Calories: 312.25
Fat: 16.25 g
Carbohydrates: 26.6
Fiber: 2.35 g
Protein: 13.25
Points+: 8

 Here is what you will need:

  • 1 pizza dough, cut in half
  • 1 to 2 sheets Blue cheese
  • 1 jar Pizza Sauce
  • 1/4 pound ground beef, seasoned how you like it!
  • Italian Seasoning, to taste
  • Cajun seasoning, to taste
  • Garlic Powder, to taste
  • Dried Basil, to taste
  • 1 to 2 cups cheese, shredded

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  • Combine the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, dried basil and Cajun seasoning with the pizza sauce in a sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until warmed through
  • In the meantime, roll each half of the dough into a circle to fit your cake pan
  • Grease your cake pan slightly {on the bottom and around the edges}
  • Then take one half of the pizza dough and put it in the cake pan {like you’re making a pie}
  • Add the blue cheese, the sauce and whatever other stuffing you want. We added some crumbled ground beef

  • Top with shredded cheese

  • Then top the with the other pizza dough circle, making sure the edges are melded together

  • Cut two slices in the top of the pizza dough so the steam can be released during the cooking process
  • If you want to sprinkle the top with a little extra cheese, you can do that!
  • Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely golden and cooked through
  • Remove and let cool
  • Enjoy!

I am sure this is not the traditional way to make stuffed pizza; but it was the way that I made it. It was super fun and pretty easy to make. Nick and I really enjoyed it. Just like pie though, it is important to allow this to cool for several minutes so everything on the inside sets a little bit. If you cannot wait {much like I could not wait} everything flows out from the inside onto your plate. It’s still pretty good, but you’re not eating a piece of pizza anymore. You end up eating a pile of delicious pizza ingredients.

Your kids will love making these because they can put their favorite ingredients in the inside and help with the cooking process.

I hope you all give this a try.

Until Next Time,

Happy Pizza Stuffin’ 

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Braided Calzone

Yo, yo, yo foodies! It’s Friday, can you believe it? I certainly can. It’s been quite a week. The week started with sickness and ended with a tornado. What a whirlwind! Are you wondering about the tornado? I don’t know if any of you remember, but yesterday I mentioned that it started to down pour when I wanted to take Pippy outside. Well it was not just rain; it was horizontal rain, thunder and lightning, which was accompanied by gusts of hurricane forced winds. I was kind of excited because I love those types of storms. However, I knew I was going to have to go to Quantico to pick Nick up from work. I left just after 5pm, when everything seemed to simmer a little bit, and BAM a tornado touched down {just north of where I was on I-95N}. If any of you experience I-95 on a regular basis, you know even the slightest glitch in the flow of traffic equals stopped cars for miles. Well, last night a 20 minute trip took an hour. I found out it was a downed tree in the middle of the interstate, because I saw it as I passed by it. Yep, there was a tree just resting in the far left hand lane.

Life became a little bit easier for a couple of miles, but was crazy right around the Quantico exit. Thank GOD that I was getting off; my patience could not take much more.

Before I took off for Quantico, I checked the weather channel and it warned me of possible Tornados, and Nick called to tell me about what he was hearing; I scoffed at it. Luckily I was spared any devastation, but people north of us were not so lucky. There was a lot of damage in isolated areas because of these storms and the tornado; but the last I heard there was no deaths or injuries. Whew.

What a Thursday.

I hope it does not rain tomorrow because we’re going to Annapolis for the boat show. Nick’s dad just bought a boat and he’s super excited about all of the excursions in its future. His dad has a lot of exciting adventures {leisure & business} coming up in his life and we’re happy to celebrate this one. There was talk that we’d go up to Annapolis tonight, but that is not happening. I am looking forward to tomorrow because we’ll be able to spend time with Joe {Nick’s dad} and two of my favorite people in the entire universe – Aunt Lynda & Uncle Larry. I LOVE THEM!!! Seriously, they are two of my favorite people in the whole wide world. I am so looking forward to spending time with them!

Maybe I’ll take pictures and post our adventures next week.

Back to today – it’s Friday. That means I have a Kid-Friendly Friday segment for you today. Nick loves Calzone and I have promised to make him one for quite some time now. I finally did this week. This was so fun and easy to make that I think your kids would love making it. So here is its debut – Braided Calzone.

Nutritional Information:
Serving Size: 1/8th
Calories: 157.8
Fat: 10.5 g
Carbohydrates: 6.6 g
Fiber: .45 g
Protein: 8.5 g
Points+:  4

Here is what you will need:

  • 1 pizza dough ball
  • 1 jar pizza sauce
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced thin & sautéed 
  • 1 to 2 cups cheese, shredded
  • 1 sausage link, cooked & crumbled
  • Any spices you like {garlic, hot pepper flakes, Cajun seasoning, etc.}

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • Roll out pizza dough ball in a rectangular shape {something that could fit on a baking sheet}
  • In the middle third of the dough ball, spread the sauce, seasoning, cheese and sausage

  • Slice the right & left sides of the calzone dough into 1-inch pieces
  • Now, braid – fold one piece of the right side toward the left side, then fold the left side toward the right side; continue with the braiding process until completely done

  • Place a piece of foil on a baking sheet
  • Lightly grease the foil
  • Put the calzone on the greased foil lined baking sheet
  • Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and cooked through

  • Allow to cool for a few minutes
  • Cut & enjoy!

We absolutely LOVED this! Nick would have wanted to add ricotta to the mix, and maybe I’ll do that next time, but this was perfect with the ingredients listed above. We TORE through it… really, it did not last that long!!

Your kids will love helping to layer the ingredients and braid the bread. Give it a try this weekend! You will not be disappointed!

Until Next Time,

Happy Braiding {Calzone} bread! 

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Wonton Breakfast Cups

Happy Friday Foodies! It’s been a pretty fast week. I am glad it’s Friday. I am so excited for this weekend because Nick has off on Monday! And just in case you’re wondering, we don’t have any fabulous plans for the long weekend. I wish.

I figured today was going to be a fabulous day because Bravo is running a marathon of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. I catch enough flak from Nick about my television choices, and because I can hear the gasps from some of you, let’s just move along. However, two things happened this morning that irritated me.

The first was my own choice. I have this fear that I’m not getting enough nutrients so Nick and I went to GNC on Wednesday night to pick up some supplements. We opted for a box {his & hers} that contains packets of supplements. I am lucky enough to take 7 pills and they are huge. I mean HUGE. It took me 5 minutes to eat them this morning and I can still taste them. On top of that I am not feeling so well having taken them this morning. Can supplements affect your respiratory functions? I am having a difficult time breathing & I have a massive headache.

Other than my horse pills, I am becoming increasingly aggravated by politically polarized people. In the last several months several people have opted to believe they know who I vote for, where I fall on the political spectrum, have made needless and unwarranted statements against “my” party affiliation, etc. The funny part is nobody knows where I stand. I like it that way. As a joke about 6 years ago, when I was in law school, {in the infancy of Facebook} I changed my party affiliation to the exact opposite of what I believe in at the time. It was a joke and my closest friends knew it and laughed at me for messing with people. I grew up in six years, I became more aware of what was going on in the world, I met new people, engaged in new debates, listened in situations I used to scoff at and have become incredible at playing Devil’s Advocate.

What I have decided, after several years of being hard-headed, is that politically polarized people are a big root of all the evil in our country and in our government. As a result, I poke at the gaping holes in {hard core party line} arguments and cause unrest in people’s arguments, and then I sit back and watch it all unfold. It’s better than any national news source.

I think it’s important that people forget about party politics, and serve this country better. I am frustrated by people who ‘hate’ the other side and take a juvenile approach to negotiation and progression. Our government was never meant to be this way.

This morning I saw a FB status that said this:

sooooooo sick of the GOP complaining about the spending the President wants! Spend $ on Americans instead of 2 stupid wars the GOP started!!!! Billions could be saved!

I was furious. And when I know my emotions are going to get the best of me, I walk away {in most instances}. I considered the source. I considered what I had to say. And I scaled back a little bit, but it is not okay to blame the GOP for two ‘stupid’ wars. My boyfriend fought to defend this country. His friends continue to fight to defend this country. RESPECT THAT. What should we have done after 9.11.01? Should we have sat idly by and allowed the terrorists to continue to attack us? Should we have turned the other cheek? Should we have allowed people to continue to die in vain, at the hands of terrorists?

Hell. No.

She says she supports our troops. She says that not supporting the war does not mean she does not support our troops. She went on to say:

 I think sending them to a place to risk their lives that was a total sham is a total disrespect to our service members & a crime!

 But on some level it does mean that she doesn't support our troops. I mean, you're telling me that going to war is a sham? Going to war is a diservice & disrespectful? Plenty of men and women enlisted in the military post 9/11 to protect this country. Where would we be without them? Where would we be without leaders' {PLURAL} who believed that passive resistance in the face of terrorists was not the way to go? Where would this country be if people with her ideology had 100% power in this country?? I hate to think about that.

I support this country. I support our soldiers. I respect what they do. I respect their will, their VOLUNTARY WILL to defend this country. I believe that aggressive offense is the best defense. I believe that sitting idly by may have caused more unrest, more turmoil and more terrorist activity in this country.

I responded in a pretty stern way, based on my beliefs, based on my encounters with the military, based on my education. But it was NOT based on my party affiliation. I believe in this country. I believe in our soldiers. I support our endeavors to protect this country. P.E.R.I.O.D.

I’m so angry I could eat an entire pizza. Which brings me to food, the most important part of this website, right?

Today is Friday, which means I have a Kid-Friendly segment to give to you! And it’s a good one. Last weekend I was in the shower with my mind racing about what I could make for brunch. I knew I had to make something and I knew I had some things in the refrigerator that HAD to be used. Then it hit me. It was almost like Divine Intervention. I scampered out to the kitchen and started clanging away and what transpired was heavenly. Today I have for you Breakfast Wonton Cups! These are easy to make, you can use any ingredients you like, and your kids will love making their favorite breakfast cups!

Nutritional Information:
Serving Size: 3 wonton cups
Calories: 209.3
Fat: 10.6 g
Carbohydrates: 11.9 g
Fiber: .25 g
Protein: 17.3 g
Points+: 6

Here is what you will need:

  • 12 Wonton Wraps
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 ounces cheese, shredded
  • 3 {thick cut} Ham slices
  • ½ Red Bell Pepper, diced
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • ½ tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup milk

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Grease muffin tins, put a wonton wraps to each muffin cup and add a little sprinkle of cheese to the bottom
  • Bake for about 5 minutes

  • Combine the eggs, garlic powder, hot sauce, onion powder, salt and pepper and milk
  • Whisk together until the eggs are light & frothy

  • Cut the ham slices into small pieces
  • Cut the pepper into small pieces

  • Add the pepper & ham pieces to the egg mixture
  • Pour in egg mixture and top with cheese

  • Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes {or until the eggs are set & the wontons are a crisp golden brown}
  • Remove & eat!

We LOVED these little guys. Nick was so impressed that this idea just hit me and that they turned out so well that he mentioned that we ALWAYS had to have wonton wrappers on hand. I love wonton wraps, I love using wonton wraps for cups of anything. They are a perfect appetizer. They are a perfect breakfast idea. And they are easy to make.

Your kids will LOVE making these with you because they can add any ingredients they love – bacon, cheese, sausage, peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc. They are perfect any day of the week!

Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Happy Wonton Creating! 

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Peanut Buttery & Marshmallow Cheerio Cereal Bars with Chocolate Chips

Happy Friday Friends! This week has passed by so quickly. I can hardly believe it. I look forward to the weekends because I allocate Saturday and Sunday’s to the not-so-healthy food items that I crave through the week. However, this weekend is not going to be unhealthy at all. I do not know how it happened, but I’ve gained a couple of pounds and I’m devastated. How does that even happen?! I feel a ridiculous urge to go run 10 miles {and, I do. not. run.} It’s not that I have some evil hatred for running {though I think I have some subconscious disdain for it}; I cannot run because I have asthma! Running and my body have never gone together. I usually utilize all of the workout equipment when I work out. However, I do not even think that I could be successful on the elliptical in the shape that I am in currently.

Oh boy. What happened to me?!

I guess I will nibble on a piece of lettuce and drown my sorrows in delicious water. I cannot wait!

There is something to be excited about, today is FRIDAY. I guess I should keep saying that to myself while avoiding the scale like the plague. In honor of Friday I have an awesome Kid Friendly Friday segment. This was a super easy, super delicious recipe that any little sous chef would love to help prepare! Today I have a deliciously Peanut Buttery & Marshmallow Cheerio Cereal Bars with Chocolate Chips. {I know, I know it’s a mouth full}.

Nutritional Info:
Serving Size: 1 bar {1/15th}
Calories: 152
Fat: 4.8 g
Carbohydrates: 28 g
Fiber: .97 g
Protein: 2.7 g
Points+: 4

Here is what you will need:

  • 4 cups cheerios
  • 3 cups marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons marshmallow fluff
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Grease a baking dish
  • In a large stock pot over medium heat, combine peanut butter, honey, marshmallows and marshmallow fluff. Continuously stir the mixture until fully incorporated.

  • Add the cheerios and chocolate chips
  • Incorporate all of the ingredients fully and then pour into the greased baking dish

 

  • Press the mixture down into the glass dish and allow to cool for about 30 minutes
  • Cut these into 15 medium sized cereal bars

 

  • Enjoy!

These were so easy to make, and even easier to eat. Believe me! Maybe that is why I am having such a disgusting time with my weight this week? Whatev.

I hope you all give these a try. They would be great to pack in lunches, take in for a Friday snack to share with the entire class or for an after school treat for the football, soccer, tennis, basketball or swim teams.

I hope you all enjoy!

Until next time,

Happy Cereal Bar Makin’

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Kid Friendly Friday Spotlight - Veggie Pancakes

Happy Friday Foodies!! It’s been quite the week. First, it’s been raining here all week; I am not complaining. I enjoy rainy days, especially like today. However, one of the worst things about rainy days is having to take Pippy outside to do his business. He is not very normal. He trots around and takes his good old time. Oh, if you don’t already know, he has hair longer than mine. So on wet days it gets all wet and curly and gross. There is not much I can do about it; though, I do have some great ideas. I just don’t know how to get the ball rolling on them. So, instead I have to come in and dry him off, which he loves for some reason. Every time he sees a towel his tail starts waggling… weird!

This week has been filled with other bumps. Like Nick coming home hours later than he usually does. Yes, I said hours. In fact, he did not get home until about 8:30 last night, having left for work at 5:00 am. If that is not dedication, then I don’t know what is. With the exception of Monday, his work schedule has been early mornings and late evenings. Whatev!

Other than those thorns, I am not willing to get into more details. However, I will tell you that my weekly bumps in the road are not too horrible, especially when compared to others; and, all of my superficial problems can easily be fixed with a pizza pie. Yep, I am still talking about pizza. However, I promised yesterday that I had something other than pizza for you today… and I do!

Today I have a very special guest for my Kid Friendly Friday segment. Christina, or Bean to me, was one of my dearest friends when we were in high school. I remember her walking into Mr. Hill’s biology class during our 9th grade year and I knew we were going to be friends. I mean how could you not bond with somebody in a biology class hosted by a hippy and his bird, right? Bean and I had a lot of fabulous times when we were younger, but like a lot of my friends, we grew apart and went our separate ways after high school. She was having her own journey in life while I was doing the same. Never did I think I would bump into her again, but thanks to fascists, I mean, Facebook we were able to reconnect & voila! We have been corresponding ever since!

She is happily married to a man that seems to be her perfect match; her ying to his yang. And, not only that, they have a BEAUTIFUL little girl, Natalie. Bean has so much fun with Natalie and is always talking about her and posting beautiful pictures of her little family. I figured she had to have great fun with Natalie in the kitchen and I was right. So, without further adieu, here is my friend Christina Bean.

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Hey Mel! So the recipe I'm giving you is for Veggie Pancakes. I got this recipe from Disney's family fun website and then this month, they featured it in their Disney Family Fun Magazine, so I just knew this was the recipe to share with you. (o: Natalie fights us all the time when it comes to eating her veggies, fruits she loves and can't get enough of, but veggies...FORGET IT! Well the first time we made these, I had her help me, and we made a big deal out of her making them. Well, let me tell you that she goes crazy over these things! They're healthy; we get some veggies into her system, and fun to eat! So I hope they go over well with all you kid friendly followers! (o:

Veggie Pancakes

 
For the pancakes:
2cups finely grated zucchini
1cup grated carrots
1c corn kernels, drained
1 large egg
2tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt
1/2teaspoon salt
1/8teaspoon pepper
1/2cup flour
1/2cup fine yellow cornmeal
2teaspoons baking powder
1/2cup grated cheddar
1 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the dipping sauce:
1tablespoon pesto
1/3 cup sour cream 

Directions:

  • Use your hands to squeeze the excess liquid from the grated zucchini, then place the zucchini in a large bowl. Add the carrots and corn, tossing to combine the vegetables. Stir in the eggs, yogurt, salt, and pepper until well blended. 

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, and baking powder. Add the mixture, along with the cheddar, to the vegetables, and stir until well blended.

  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. To form each pancake, spoon 3 tablespoons of the batter into the pan and use a fork to flatten it slightly. Working in batches, cook the pancakes until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Use a spatula to transfer the pancakes to a paper towel-lined plate. If needed, add more oil to the pan as you cook.

  • Stir together the pesto and sour cream in a small bowl. Serve the pancakes hot or at room temperature. 

I am not a huge vegetable fan. I never have been, but these little Veggie Pancakes sound delicious. I mean, if Natalie loves them then I should too, right?!

I hope you all give them a try sometime!!

Until Next Time,

Happy Kid Friendly Friday

 

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Kid Friendly Friday - Happy Birthday Pup-Cakes!

Good Friday Morning Foodies! It is a GREAT Friday indeed; well, with the slight issue I had with Pippy pooping his fur this morning. Anyway, yes, today is a GREAT day. There are several reasons for this. First, it is the first crisp morning of the summer. I hope that means fall is around the corner in a cool way. Second, it is Friday. Nothing beats Friday… ever. Well, unless you are going on an awesome adventure or luxurious trip to another part of the world during the week. In that case, Friday is not necessarily the best day of the week. And, finally, this weekend is sure to be beautiful, cool and relaxing. I am looking forward to staying in sweat pants all weekend. I don’t want to do anything else.

Okay, enough projecting about the weekend, let’s reflect about yesterday. Yesterday was Pippy’s birthday. And it was a great birthday indeed. We had a birthday party for our fur baby yesterday and it was a huge hit! Here are some pictures to chronicle the adventure:

The End!

What birthday celebration does not involve cake? None! That’s right! We could not celebrate Pippy’s birthday without some sort of cake. So for today’s Kid-Friendly Friday segment I have awesome little Peanut Butter and Carrot Pup-Cakes! Any kid will LOVE getting involved to make pup-cakes for their loyal K-9 friend. I guarantee it!

Here is what you will need:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 egg

For Icing:

  • ½ package Nonfat cream cheese, room temperature
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • ½  tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp honey

Directions:

  • Preheat oven 350 degrees F
  • Mix flour and baking soda together, then add all remaining ingredients and mix well

  • Grease muffin tray [I used a mini muffin tray because Pippy is a small doggie, but you can use a regular muffin tray]
  • Using a tablespoon, fill each muffin cup to the top rim
  • Bake for about 15 minutes if you are using the mini muffin trays; bake for about 30 minutes in a regular sized muffin tray. When a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, remove from the oven and allow to cool

  • For the icing: combine each ingredient into a medium sized bowl and mix until fully incorporated and creamy
  • Ice each of the muffins

  • Serve to your puppy!!

Pippy absolutely LOVED his pup-cakes. However, there were so many pup-cakes I could not feed them all to Pippy. So we shared with our neighbors who have doggies. The dogs, Lily and Victor, ate them right up and pummeled me. I guess we’re good in their book now. I mean, Victor even wanted me to toss his ball. If he is as stingy as Pippy is with his balls, that’s a great honor!

Your kids will LOVE making these for their furry brothers and sisters. They are simple to make, not too messy and fun to feed your fur babies! I hope you all give them a try sometime.

Until Next Time,

Happy Pup – cakin’

Kid Friendly Friday Spotlight - Fruity Krispy Treats

Happy Friday Foodies! I hope your Friday’s pass by quickly so you can get to a weekend of fun and relaxation. Today Pippy has an appointment at the vet and I am not very excited to go. There are several reasons for this: first, he’s a shag muffin – it’s been raining here for several days and his fur is super curly. I mean, some women would die for his hair, I just want it to be easily maintained. That’s never going to happen. Second, his ears are still bothering him. I have this awful feeling the vet is going to give me more eardrops; I hate giving him eardrops. He doesn’t make the process easy and sometimes he cries, which makes me sad. Finally, he is having a test done to see how his protein levels are doing. I hope they are back to normal!! Though he has not lost any weight on this new meal plan the vet does like how he tapers back now; so I am hopeful that means his protein levels are back in order.

Otherwise, I am pretty excited for the weekend. Do you want to know why? This weekend Nick and I are going to utilize our newly purchased Costco card to go shopping! I cannot wait. Our weekend will be pretty low key otherwise. We cannot go anywhere, not that we were planning some weekend adventure. Nick is on call all weekend because of the 9/11 anniversary and the possibility of an attack. Whatev.

You may see a ‘Because Life is Complicated Enough…’ about the upcoming anniversary of 9/11. I have not decided yet; I mean, I have tried to start a BLCE about this event but nothing is coming out the way I want it to. I have too many opinions about it and none of them are going to be diplomatic. The last thing I want to stir up is some controversy, especially during this very delicate time. I may post something sometime next week.

Anyway, long story short, we’re in NoVa for the weekend just in case something horrible happens and Nick has to go to base.

Moving right along, today is Friday – you know what that means, right? It means I have another Kid-Friendly Friday segment for you today. This week I have a fabulous guest blogger. Her name is Chris and you can find her over at Sharing Recipes. She has a great facebook page where she encourages all of us foodies to share recipes and pictures. It’s a great little community we have and she helps host all of our delicious ideas. She is one of my very favorites; I have known her for some time now and I feel like she is my next door neighbor – I love popping in to say hello.

Earlier this week I noticed something phenomenal on her page that I knew would be a great addition to my Kid Friendly Friday segment. Without further adieu, here is Chris!

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Hi.

I am an Indiana born and bred girl, 41 years young and just starting to feel like a grown-up... not really :).  I have been married to the perfect-man-for-me for nearly 16 years (again, we feel like we are just starting, as many in our farming community celebrate 50 years and more <3).  My hubby is a hard working farmer/landscaper/pole-barn builder/snow plower and eats like a 17 year old football player, which I say if you work that hard you have to eat like that.  We have 3 beautiful girls; I know this because everyone always tells us how much sleep we will lose when they are in high school and dating.  When teasing my hubby about being a farmer with all girls, we have also heard many times, "the boys will come".  I don't know if that is comforting or alarming.

I feel like my journey with food is two journeys meshing together as I mature in the kitchen; the first journey being with my mom when I was young, watching her process and freeze as much home grown food as possible.  She processed everything from red raspberries to corn and pumpkin to red beets. Many years were spent on our back porch cleaning red beets to pickle, or husking corn to blanch and freeze.  She made jellies, spaghetti sauce and even squirrel and rabbit stew.  My second journey is now, without her, trying to remember all those things she was teaching me when I thought we were just doing chores.  I am surprised by the fact I must have been paying more attention than I thought, because I remember the processes.  What I don't remember I am able to fill in by having her old cookbooks she used, and more blessed because I can still turn to my grandma, her mother, who is a mere 83 years old and still doing all she taught mom.

In my quest for all things sweet I ran across some krispie treats made entirely of fruity pebbles.  When I tried them I was amazed and then I thought to myself, "these are too sweet!"  Amazed because I consider sugar and myself to be tight friends, but I guess even good friends can have too much of each other from time to time.  So, at home I was going to try and mix up something similar, but not too sweet.  The following is what resulted.  These would be great for school bake sales, kid's birthday treats and even a good "add-on" at a lemonade stand.  Try 'em, you'll like 'em!

 

Here is what you will need:

  • 3 cups Rice Krispies
  • 3 cups Fruity Pebbles
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 package mini marshmallows (I think it was somewhere around 10 oz)

Directions:

  • Lightly spray 13" x 9" baking pan
  • In large pot, over medium heat, melt butter
  • Stir mini marshmallows into butter to melt, stirring often so marshmallows don't scorch
  • When all is melted, remove from heat
  • Stir in all Rice Krispies and Fruity Pebbles until well covered with marshmallow mix
  • Pour into greased baking pan
  • Using wax paper to cover treats, push treats into pan evenly, slowly remove wax paper
  • Let cool before cutting

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Thanks again Chris for contributing such a delicious & fun recipe to my Kid-Friendly Friday segment! I CANNOT wait to give these a try; seriously. Don’t forget to stop by Chris' page  to show some love – tell her Mel sent ya!

I hope that you all have a fabulous Friday and an even better weekend.

Until Next Time,

Happy Rice Krispin’ 

Mini Chicken Lasagna Cups

Happy Friday Foodies! A week ago everybody on the eastern seaboard was preparing for Hurricane Irene; can I tell you that we are STILL dealing with her. No, we did not lose power, have overwhelming destruction or water damage at our home. So why am I still dealing with this storm? I will tell you. Base Quantico must have taken everything offline as a precaution and, while most sections of base had no problem going back online, Nick’s building did not have that luxury. In fact, he did not have work on Monday and went in at noon on Tuesday. I could tell you what he does. I could tell you what he did in the military. I could, but I will not. Everything he deals with is highly classified; however, I will tell you that he protects each of us EVERY SINGLE DAY. He is my super hero and I can guarantee that kids dream of doing what he does. Hell, I dream about doing what he does. Seriously.

Why am I talking about this? Well, Nick and I plan to go to Pennsylvania to visit my mom for this long weekend, but he has been working super hard, super long hours all week in order to trudge through all of the information that exists out there in the world; making sure nothing slips through the cracks. I had hoped today would be different, but I am not that lucky. It seems like he will be gone until later this evening, which means a late night on the road. And to add to all of this, Nick has been so crabby all week. He feels a lot of pressure to protect this lovely country of ours and he is swamped. SWAMPED! So he’s been so stressed all week, it has not been fun. I hate seeing him this way. Honestly, he is NEVER like this; he doesn’t allow most things to bug him…. Well, that’s not true. When things bug him, he easily compartmentalizes everything so he can function with minimum amounts of stress. [He just happens to do the exact opposite of what I do – I freak out & let stress get to me.] That is why he is perfect for me; in my craziest moments, he looks at me and it puts me at ease; with some words of encouragement, of course! Hurricane Irene, you’re still killing me!

Today is Friday, thank God for that! And you know what Friday’s bring, right?! Well, on this blog it means another Kid Friendly Friday segment! I have a great recipe for you all today! Today I give you Mini Chicken Lasagna Cups. I have been seeing these things everywhere lately, but I wanted to make them my own way. Enter: chicken. I have been meaning to use some chicken and I knew with being away this weekend I was going to have to do something with it; these were the best option! They take some time, but getting your kids involved will be so much fun.

Serving Size: 2 cups
Calories: 312
Fat: 19.6
Carbohydrates: 13
Fiber: 1.5
Protein: 22
Points+: 8

 Let’s get down to business. Here is what you will need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 1 cup garlic & basil spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup park skim ricotta cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon pepper flakes
  • 24 wonton wrappers
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheese

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • In a medium skillet, add olive oil and cook chicken over medium heat until golden brown
  • Remove the chicken and shred into small pieces

  • In a medium bowl, combine the chicken and spaghetti sauce, mix until fully incorporated

  • In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, salt and pepper, garlic & pepper flakes and stir to combine
  • Grease a 12 cup muffin tin and a wonton wrapper in each cup
  • Add a tablespoon of ricotta into each muffin tin

  • Top each ricotta filled muffin tin with a tablespoon of the chicken mixture

 

  • Sprinkle the top with cheese
  • Place another wonton wrapper over the cheese and repeat the layering process again – first, ricotta, then chicken and then sprinkle some cheese to the top

 

  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the wonton wrappers have a golden brown tint to them
  • Cool for a couple of minutes and eat away!

These little cups are so delicious and filling. Believe me, when I took them out of the muffin tins they were so heavy. I was pretty surprised how full I was after eating the first couple of bites. These would be great for any weekend festivities; imagine serving these as an appetizer instead of wings or pizza bites. I think your family and friends will want to spend the weekend rummaging through your refrigerator looking for leftovers!

I hope you give these a try with your little sous chefs!

Until Next Time,

Happy Mini Lasagna Makin’! 

Kid Friendly Friday Spotlight - Peanutty Noodles

Happy Friday Foodies!! This week has been quite the whirlwind for us in the Northern Virginia area. I mean, first we deal with an earthquake and half a week full of aftershocks that propel you out of bed in the middle of night and NOW…. yes, NOW, we may be pounded by a hurricane. Oh, Hurricane Irene. She will be the first Hurricane I have had to deal with since I left Miami. The hurricane season I remember the most is the season of Katrina – that was the most intense season that this country had seen in such a long time. While Katrina wreaked havoc on so many in the Gulf, she did not do near as much damage to South Florida that Wilma did. Wilma was the monster to end all monsters.

Wilma faked Miami out, initially. I’m not sure if any of you know, but she hit the Yucatan peninsula and ventured out into the Gulf of Mexico. After she hit the Yucatan, she died down to a Category 2 hurricane and was going to hit the western coast of Florida as a suspected Category 2 storm. Obviously that is nothing to scoff about, but, unfortunately, that is not what happened.

While in the Gulf of Mexico, Wilma regained momentum in the warm waters and strengthened to a Category 3 or 4. If she was not a Category 4, she was not far from it. And she slammed into the West Coast of Florida, but she didn’t stay there. I went to bed the night before fully thankful that we were going to be fine in south Florida, but we were not. I woke up to frantic phone calls from family and friends making sure I was okay. Okay, I thought? I looked outside and I was in the midst of the worst Hurricane of the entire season. Wilma pummeled Miami. She destroyed EVERYTHING she could and when she left us, barreling back out to the water of the Atlantic, she took our power, our hot water and everything else with her. It was no joke.

I was stuck in a small room, as a disgruntled, tired and emaciated [probably too strong of a picture... but I barely had time to breath... so eating? yeah right!] law student with no power, no hot water and surrounded by case books. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I did both! Never did I think that Virginia would be issuing a State of Emergency in order to draw on federal money in case of a disastrous hurricane that would be powerfully frolicking up the East Coast. Watch out friends, it’s going to be a wet weekend!

How does this have anything to do with food? Well, in typical fashion I can associate food with most stories I tell. When I lost power, I knew I had to salvage as much of my food as I could. So, the first day, I ate everything that was in my refrigerator, without much guilt. I kind of regretted that 10 days later when I was still without power. That’s another story, for another day. However, I will tell you that if I had Peanutty Noodles from Heather over at Basilmomma: a busy mom who likes to cook, I would have salvaged those first. Wondering what I’m talking about? Good, I’m glad. Let’s get to it.

Each week through the summer I tried to bring to you a Kid-Friendly Friday recipe. I plan to continue that segment of my blog in a slightly different way when I can. Today marks the beginning of what I hope to be an awesome ride with some of my very favorite foodies, all of whom are very talented, very busy, and very inspiring Momma’s!!  So today, with no further adieu, here is my very talented friend Heather and her amazing Kid-Friendly Friday recipe.

  Peanutty - Noodles

I am always on the hunt for great lunches for my kids.  Yes, they can just eat a turkey and provolone on wheat.  I guess, sometimes I like something a little different and so do they!

At lunch I like to hit all of the food groups in a small dish.  I purposely bought 8 ounce containers JUST to prevent me from over eating at lunch.  I never could have predicted that this would be one of my kids favorite lunches of ALL time!

This is so easy your kids can make it with you.  I have found that when my kids help me make a meal they are more apt to eat it.  I want them to eat what I have made...not trade it :)


Peanutty-Noodles

  • 1 pound of cooked linguine, al dente
  • 3/4 C peanut butter
  • 1/2 C low salt soy sauce (I used Tamari)
  • 2/3 hot water
  • 2 TB minced or grated fresh ginger. Use fresh...it is probably going to cost you 50 cents.
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Tb toasted sesame oil
  • 1 TB honey
  • 3 TB white rice OR wine vinegar
  • A variety of garnishes: diced apple, cilantro, lime, chopped peanuts, diced yellow pepper, green onions
  • Add all ingredients (except pasta) to a large bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add cooked pasta.  Toss and garnish as desired.
  • This is perfect as a school lunch.  Topped with diced carrots, apples, cilantro, lime or chopped peanuts this is a very filling and satisfying lunch or side dish!

Picture of Heather's Boys! :)

Those noodles look amazing to me. I wish I was one of her kids!! Don’t forget to pop over to check out Heather’s blog!! Let her know the love is flowing from Cooking with Mel!!!

Until Next Time,

Happy Kid Friendly Friday

Delicious Sweets in a Jar & a GIVEAWAY!

Happy Friday Foodies! I’m so thankful that the weekend is here. I will be able to relax with my Panda Bear; it’s been quite the week for me. I am pretty happy that we are not traveling anywhere this weekend. Since the middle of June either one or both of us has spent every weekend away from our house and on the road; I, for one, am over it. While I love to travel, the lumbar system in our car does not play nicely with my back and is always making me uncomfortable. Now, I know that probably did not contribute to my recent kidney ailment, but being so uncomfortable in the car does not make life any better. I am just thankful our little family will be chowing down on Thai food this weekend and relaxing with each other.

It will be a pretty awesome weekend together. Besides eating well and spending time with each other, our new television is being delivered today. I am super excited, so is Nick. That’ll be a great project for today. Not many people may get so excited about a television, but it is pretty hard not to. This is the granddaddy of all televisions; minus the 3D capability, which Nick wanted. Thank GOD for Nick’s dad talking him out of getting a 3D television. Much like all of our smart phones, this television is a Smart TV. While I don’t think it can make dinner for us, it does pretty much everything else. I cannot wait to get it hooked up to use!

Okay, now that you all know what my life looks like this weekend, I have a specially modified version of Kid Friendly Friday for you today. First, let’s get down to the fun activity I have for the kiddos in your house. All summer I have tried to give you recipes that would allow your mini-sous chefs get down and dirty working in the kitchen with you; but today I have something that is less cooking and more preparing. I had fun, so I hope most kids would have fun making these. Are you ready?? Today I present to you Sweet Treats in a Jar. So many times during my life I have received one of these little guys or have seen them in the stores waiting to be purchased; but I have never made one.

That is until recently.

Today I have two awesome flavors for you: S’mores in a Jar & The Ultimate Chocolate Brownies in a Jar.

Here is what you will need & how to layer the ingredients for the S’mores:

  • 1 to 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

  • Add the layers in that order, close the jar & store until you’re ready to use, or give to your favorite people!
  • Find the 'How To Cook" here. 

 

Here is what you will need for the Brownies:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa power
  • Chocolate chips
  • Layer the ingredients in the order listed above, seal & store… or give to your favorite friends!
  • Find the 'How to Cook' Here

I had a lot of fun making these jars for the first time this week! I bet you’re all wondering if I am going to keep these bad boy jars to myself? Well, ordinarily I would not want to share chocolate, but I have some amazing people that I would share with every day of the week if I could. Do you want to know who those people are? Dum, dum, dummmmmm…

Are you ready yet?? I cannot hear youuuuu!!!

Those people are YOU!!! Yep, you! I want to share my little jars of chocolaty heaven with you. That brings me to a very special announcement!

I am HAVING A GIVEAWAY!!  

I know it has been a couple of weeks coming, but life has been pretty chaotic and most recently painful. With the help of all of you wonderful people, I hit 1000 followers a couple of weeks ago. I promised a giveaway then and I am finally posing it! One lucky person will walk away with the following:

  • 1 S'mores in a jar
  • 1 Ultimate Chocolate Brownies in a Jar
  • 1 Cutsy Apron 

Now, I am not going to make it hard to enter this Giveaway. However, I do have a couple of requirements. Here they come:

  1. First, this Giveaway is open to only those people in the United States. [Don’t worry, I’m working on opening up my next one to all of my lovelies everywhere else]
  2. Second, you must be at least 18 years old to enter. [I do not want somebody’s parents thinking I’m sending their kids candy. Seriously, candy in a box from a stranger? Oh boy!]
  3. Third, you must follow me as yourself [meaning, if you follow me as a page, you must also follow me from your personal account] on facebook telling me you did so. If you already do, just tell me your name in the comment section below.
  4. Fourth, you must leave a comment below. Make sure your name here is the same as your name is on facebook.
  5. Finally, when you leave a comment below, include a recipe of mine that looks appealing to you!

See, it is SUPER easy! This giveaway will remain open until next Friday, August 19 at midnight EST. I will announce the winner by Monday, August 22.

Good Luck to you all!! 

Until Next Time,

Happy Creating!

Middle Eastern - Style Chicken Pita Sandwiches

Happy Thursday Foodies! Before I get to the food portion of this post, I want to update all of you loyal readers on my life. Fear not, I’ll give you the reader’s digest version. Last November I gave birth to a massive sized kidney stone. Some doctors were under the impression that I would be able to pass it on my own. That was an epic fail. Even today, my new urologist cavalierly dismissed my oversized kidney stone baby. Whatever. I thank GOD every day for finding the urologist I did when I was living on the Mexican border. He was careful, compassionate, funny, and treated me with respect. He was not put off by my questions and the fact that I did a lot of research myself. In fact, I think he liked me more because I was knowledgeable about what was happening to my body. And, most importantly, he did not dismiss my huge kidney stone baby as something that could easily pass. He, in fact, after looking at all of the pictures that the ER took told me that I was NEVER, ever going to pass it on my own and the ER physician should have known that based on my CT scan results. Really? You mean trying for 6 weeks to pass it is not normal? Uh-em, can we say malpractice Sierra Vista ER? Ugh.

Some doctors, however, have an ego the size of Texas. That was true for the doctor in Arizona and the new one I found today. Boy I wish I could have a do-over on picking a doctor; but the urologist that was recommended to me did not have time to see me until later next week and, true to my character, I have been sufficiently freaked out by my kidney ailment. I did not want to wait. Therefore, another doctor in the same office was willing to see me today, so I compromised a little.

Moving right along; as you can see I have my own opinions about the idea of professionalism.

My new urologist, whom we shall call Dr. Scott, told me that I my test results from yesterday are clearly indicative of somebody who has passed a kidney stone or is going to pass a kidney stone. I told him the symptoms I was having today and he seems to think that there is a small stone that is not showing up on the CT scan that my body is trying to pass. I have to tell you that I do not appreciate doctors who only talk to me. I want action. So when he sat behind his computer screen and told me the same thing I had heard yesterday in the ER I was not happy. I want him to run tests, take pictures, press on something. I want more than happy conversation that I can find at the local Starbucks. I expect something more. However, true to my character I was pleasant to him and listened to his instructions.

Is it wrong that I am scared beyond belief that my kidney & ureter are enlarged but no doctor can see a stone? I think I have every right to be scared and want answers. It scares me that everything is a might or maybe or perhaps. I want a definite kind of answer. What happens if my kidney[s] are not functioning properly and these doctors are just pushing me back home? What then? Why do doctors not empathize with their patients a little more? If I were a doctor I would be the best kind of doctor; I would talk with my patients like they were my mom or friend, I would welcome questions and talk with them until they felt comfortable with the diagnosis. I would make them feel important and worth more than 10 minutes. If I die because of this, I want you all to write complaints to the Virginia Medical Board about this guy. Seriously.

Okay, so there you go. I possibly gave birth to a smaller sized kidney stone baby. That’s what the doctors want me to believe because they are not quite sure what else could be ailing my kidney and making me feel so uncomfortable.

Why is this all important? Well,  A LOT OF YOU have sent such positive vibes, well wishes & prayers. I want you ALL TO KNOW how very special you have made me feel and how much I appreciate all of your messages in the last day or so. You all make this blogging experience special and have made me feel incredibly blessed to be part of such a special community. You have no idea how much it means to me to chat with you all each day and share with everybody little morsels of myself. While I know that my blog is largely concentrated around food, I feel it is important to share pieces of my life with you because you all do the same with me. Thank you ALL SO MUCH for stopping by & sharing with me each day, but especially thank you for your prayers and warm wishes with regard to my kidney stone babies. I hope in the next few days the pain will subside and I will be more comfortable. Thank you all again for being so kind to me; you all hold a very special piece of my foodie heart.

Now that I had the time to vent about my experience this morning and thank you all for your prayers and warm wishes, I want to move on to something delicious. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was going to start incorporating healthier dishes into the blog and today I have got quite the dish for you. It was inspired by a Weight Watchers recipe from their Ready, Set, Go! Cookbook and it was a homerun if you ask me [and Nick!]. Today I give to you Middle Eastern-Style Chicken Pita Sandwiches. These babies are to die for. Even better, they are simple to make.

Nutritional Value:

Serving size: 1/2 sandwich

Total Calories: 207

Total Fat: 3 g

Total Carbohydrates: 25 g

Total Protein: 22 g

Total Fiber: 3 g

PointsPlus Value: 5

Here is what you will need:

 

  • 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • ½ to ¾ cup shredded cucumber, squeezed dry
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 whole wheat pita breads, halved
  • 1 ½ cup sliced skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cooked & seasoned with salt & pepper
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • Lettuce, chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper

 

Directions:

 

  • To make the sauce, stir together yogurt, cucumber, garlic, salt & pepper in a small bowl

 

 

  • Spread half of the yogurt sauce evenly inside pita halves

 

 

  • Layer chicken, tomato and lettuce evenly into each pita halve

 

  • Top evenly with remaining yogurt sauce

See how easy it is to whip these guys together?? They are super delicious too! It’s like a faux gyro, just a bit healthier. Do not worry, a gyro is in the works but will likely not be as healthy. I have to warn you that I eat whatever I want just in moderation and in smaller portions. That is what Weight Watchers taught me. I clearly blog about not-so-healthy foods, but I am also not eating a lot of it, so it is still relatively okay for me. With the new portion of my blog going up this weekend that will chronicle Nick and his weight loss journey, I will try desperately to keep the foods in that portion a little healthier so that you can eat more. There is much more to come on that, so keep watching for updates & announcements this weekend with respect to the new part of my blog. I am so excited to get to work on that for him and everybody else who wants to make the journey with us!!

Thank you all for being so kind to me. I <3 you all!!

Until Next Time,

Happy Healthy Eating

A Day at the Beach Cake & Cupcakes

Happy Monday Foodies! I hope your weekend was filled with food and fun. Nick and I ended up back in Pennsylvania this weekend, which was not our original plan. However, last weekend our little check engine light came on as we were leaving Lancaster county. The system BMW installs in cars allows the owner to manually access a screen [on the navigation system] that will tell you exactly what is malfunctioning. Well, our system was saying everything was okay, but we knew better. BMW told us as long as the service engine light was orange we could use the car with caution. We did just that. The one nice thing about taking our car up to York BMW is the relationship Nick and his father have with the guys there. This family goes through cars like nobody’s business and, because of that, Nick has a great relationship with the service and sales guys and feels comfortable working with them instead of somebody locally. Eventually we will build a relationship with a D.C. BMW dealership, but for something like this we decided to tack on another couple of hours and just deal with the guys we already know.

There were two more added benefits of driving all the way up to Pennsylvania this weekend!

First, we were able to see Chantelle & Keith again briefly before they went on their new journey to New England. I love them!

Second, we got to see Joe’s new car. Who is Joe? Well, Joe just happens to be Nick’s dad and he is an amazing guy. Seriously. He is brilliant and honest, compassionate and incredibly thoughtful. He’s worked hard his entire life and he built an incredible name for himself in the business world. In fact, he is currently trying to finalize some very special purchases for his future after retirement. One of those is a brand new BMW. He had an M3, which was beautiful and, if we could have financially afforded to, Nick & I would have loved to have that car.

In addition to a brand new car, he also just purchased a brand new boat, which everybody is super excited about. One of his dreams was to have a boat and to have the freedom to sail around enjoying retirement with his wife. He officially owns a brand new boat as of Friday. And next Saturday he will be the proud new owner of a beautiful BMW 535 GT. And, when I say BEAUTIFUL, I mean absolutely GORGEOUS!

Not only will he be living the life with a new car & boat, he soon will have a beautiful new condo in Florida, where golf and boating will be an easy pasttime & he will be able to avoid the bitter winters of Pennsylvania.  His life is FLYING with new adventures and everybody is so excited for him.

Me & the GT

Sorry about that tangent.

Anyway, Nick and I were able to swoon over his new car when we were at the dealership. I want it. He’s going to love it.

I bet you’re all wondering where the good part of this post is, right? Well, I wanted to fill you in on our weekend, so forgive me! I do have a great post for you today. It is Meatless Monday, after all. I have a great creation from one of my very favorite people. Yep, you guessed it – Jess! One of the women that Jess works with spent two whole weeks at the beach and Jess created a Welcome Back Beach Cake and Cupcakes for her co-worker! How awesome is she? I bet you all wish you worked with Jess now, too!

I know I do.

Let’s get down to business. Here is what you will need for the cake:

  • Cake mix (2-8 inch rounds)
  • 2 containers of vanilla icing                                                           
  • Vanilla wafer cookies or graham crackers, crushed
  • Teddy grahams
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Hershey treasures candy
  • Green fondant or green fruit by the foot
  • Cocoa puffs
  • Breadsticks or wafer cookies
  • Blue decorating gel
  • Food coloring
  • Green chocolate
  • Gumballs

Directions:

  • Bake the cake as directed.  If you decide on white cake, I suggest dying it blue, to really give it that ocean feel! 

  • Allow the cake to cool completely, then level the cake. I have a cake leveler (which you can find at Wal Mart) or a large knife will work. 

Tint one can of the icing blue and frost layer in between the 2 cakes, the sides and one half of the top.  Tint one half of the second can of icing tan. 

Frost the other half of the top with the tan frosting. 

  • Place the rest of the tan icing in a ziplock bag, cut a small opening in the corner, and pipe a strip of icing around the blue half of the cake and around the bottom as a border.  It doesn't have to look fancy, because you'll be covering it. 
  • Crush the graham crackers or cookies to make sand.  Use it to cover the half of the top covered in the tan icing, as well at the borders on the top and bottom.
  • Take the blue decorating gel and cover the blue frosted half of the top of the cake (it looks more like water). 

Now time to start adding the fun stuff!! 

  • Take the rest of the white icing and separate it so you have some different colors - you really only need a tablespoon of each of several colors to start making the clothing on the teddy grahams.  I suggest one of the colors be black so that you can make eyes on the fish as well as the teddy grahams. 
  • Take the different color icings you have and make some bathing suits for your teddy grahams, include eyes and a nose. 

  • Take the fruit by the foot and cut it into leaf shapes to go up the side.  (I used some left over fondant leaves that I had, so my pic looks a little different).  To make the leaves for the trees, place some of the green chocolate into a ziploc bag and then microwave for 10 seconds at a time, massaging after each round until melted. 

  • Then cut a corner off of the bag and pipe leaves onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet.  To get a more real look, line some wooden spoons on the wax paper and pipe the leaves over top of the spoons. Place in the fridge until set. (I didn't have green chocolate, so I made fondant leaves.) 
  • Use melted chocolate to attach the leaves to the top of the breadstick or wafer cookie. 
  • Allow to set before adding additional leaves.  Trust me when I tell you that melted chocolate can act like glue in cake decorating. 
  • Also attach some cocoa puffs to the tops of trees for coconuts.  Place some at the bottom of the trees in the sand as well. 
  • To make the treasure chest, place one Hershey treasures candy in the sand on the side of the cake, flat side up.  Put some yellow icing on top, and place a second candy on top.  Pipe some straps on the top. 

  • Place the goldfish crackers on the side, with some white dots of icing for bubbles.   

  • Once the leaves are set, you can place the trees into the cake and serve! 
  • Keep the cake at room temp.  If you are using fondant, try your best to keep it out of the humidity.  It will wilt very quickly. 

 

Now For the cupcakes:

  • Cake mix (22 - 24 standard cupcakes)
  • 1 container vanilla frosting
  • Swedish fish
  • Umbrellas
  • Fruit by the foot
  • Gumballs
  • Graham crackers or vanilla wafer cookies, crushed
  • Blue sugar (You don't have to go buy it.  Place some sugar in a ziploc bag with a couple drops of blue food coloring and mix it around)

Directions:

  • Bake your cupcakes as directed. 
  • Again, if using a white cake mix, dye it blue. 
  • About halfway through cooking time, put 2 swedish fish in each cupcake (if you put it in at the beginning, they will melt too much). 
  • Allow cupcakes to cool completely. 
  • Tint one half of the container of icing blue. 
  • Cover one half of each cupcake with blue icing, the other half with the white icing. 
  • Cover the blue half of each cupcake with the blue sugar and the white half of the cupcake with the crushed graham crackers/wafer cookies. 
  • Fold a piece of fruit striped gum to look like a chair and place in the sand part of the cupcake.  Fruit stripe is easy to bend and move around. When I made them, using a whole piece didn't work and they unfolded a bit, so I just used half a piece for some. 
  • Place a gumball next to the chair. 
  • Take an umbrella and place it behind the chair.  

These babies look so awesome! I wish I had a beach cake & a bunch of beach cupcakes. These look so easy to make. Don't let all of the instructions weigh you down; they are just detailed, which is awesome for such a great work of art! I hope that you give them a try. 

Until Next Time,

Happy Beach Cupcakin'

Simple Buttermilk Pancakes

Happy Friday! I wish I had something happy and delightful to report about this weekend, but no can do.  This weekend Nick and I are going back to Pennsylvania. This time, however, we are going to be in Lancaster County – Nick’s stomping grounds. I am not excited. I used to love being around his family. But, like most things in life, one bad apple can really ruin a good thing. :(

However, Mtv is going to save me this weekend. Would you like to know how this television station is helping me through the weekend? Well, I will tell you – for the next 48 hours there is a Jersey Shore marathon. When this show first came out, I did not give it the time of day. I thought it was the most idiotic show MTV could have produced. But, then it happened. Yep, like most every other “reality” television show that has a similar premise, I became addicted; I was sucked in. Now, when I’m sitting around waiting to come back home [and in a hotel room], I will be getting by with a little help from the Jersey Shore; judge me if you will, but don’t forget you all have your own television skeletons!! 

I hope you all have better stories to report about your weekend.

Today I have another recipe for our Kid Friendly Friday segment! It’s a good one & can be dressed up or down in many different ways! Are you ready for it? Okay, today I give you all the easiest Buttermilk Pancakes in the world! I blogged about Peanut Butter M&M Pancakes a couple of weeks ago, but then I got to thinking – not everybody likes chocolate, m&ms, etc in their pancakes. Now, I’m not one of those people. I would take chocolate chips in my pancakes any day of the week. However, I wanted to give you all the basic recipe so that you could add anything you wanted to the pancakes – fruit, candy, etc.

These are super simple to make, and I am telling you that any kid would love pouring these out on the skillet while adding their favorite flavors! Let’s get down to it!

Here is what you will need:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Anything else that you want to add

Directions:

  • Heat griddle to 375 degrees
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium bowl

  • Add eggs, buttermilk and 4 tablespoons melted butter, whisk to combine

  • Batter should have small to medium lumps
  • Heat oven to 175 degrees
  • Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough
  • Using a pastry brush, brush some of the reserved melted butter on the griddle
  • Using a ½ cup measuring cup, pour pancake batter in pools 2 inches away from one another

  • When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, flip over; about 2 ½ minutes

  • Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute
  • Repeat with the remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in oven to keep warm!

These are so awesome! I hope you give them a try this weekend!! And, don’t forget to make the Cinnamon & Sugar French Toast, too!! 


Happy Friday Everybody!

Until Next Time,

Happy Pancakin’

Cherry [Coffee] Cake

Happy Friday Foodies! I’m sorry that you’re getting this post a little late. I am visiting my momma bear and we were running around all morning! However, I wanted to give you all something to look at and think about making today. I know it’s going to be another hot, hot, HOT day so if you decide not to make this until next week, I will totally understand.

However, next week is the cut off. If you don’t make it by next week I will be offended.

I am JUST KIDDING!

Today I present to you Gluten Free Cherry Swirl Cake. It is super yummy and super easy to make.

Adapted from Gluten Freely

Let’s get down to business. Here it what you will need:

  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 box Bisquick Gluten Free mix [3 cups]
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, optional
  • 2 tablespoons milk, optional

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Grease 1 15 x 10 inch pan with cooking spray
  • In large bowl, stir all cake ingredients except pie filling until blended; beat vigorously 30 seconds

  • Spread 2/3 of the batter (about 2 1/2 cups) then pan
  • Spread pie filling over batter (filling may not cover batter completely)

  • Drop remaining batter by tablespoonfuls onto pie filling.
  • Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown

  • NOTE: If you want to drizzle some glaze over the cake, while it is baking mix powdered sugar and milk together until smooth
  • Drizzle glaze over warm coffee cake
  • Serve warm or cool

This is a great recipe to use to get your little sous chefs involved!! Kids will love the cherries, well, I mean, I do. Just supervise the kids when around the oven. 

It is super simple to make. I could not wait to eat is so I opted against the glaze! It was incredibly delicious! Nick loved it. I actually did  not think it would be a hit and, if I allowed it, he would have taken the entire pan to work with him for “lunch.”

I hope you all enjoy!!

Until Next Time,

Happy Cake Makin’

Peanut Butter M&M Buttermilk Pancakes

Happy Friday Everybody! Guess what? Nick comes home tomorrow! The only bad part is his flight comes in very early in the morning, which means I have to get up at the crack of dawn to get out to the airport. It would not be such an issue, but I have not been able to go to sleep lately. I live in the hard knocks, seriously.

Let’s move onto food. Nick had been talking about pancakes for weeks; particularly Buttermilk Pancakes. Well, last Sunday we were scurrying around trying to get ready for his flight and I somehow managed to get up pretty early and had plenty of time to spare. While he, like most men I fear, was trying to pack for a week away the morning of his flight [I could never pack the morning of my flight] I decided to sneak out into the kitchen and try to whip up some pancakes without him knowing. Yeah, right. Me make something in the kitchen without him wandering in? It’ll be a cold day in… well, you know, before that happens! Well, I wanted to include some sort of element of surprise and then it hit me. Why not add some M & M’s? I hate to brag, but WOWZA! I added a half of cup of Peanut Butter M&M’s to the batter, because we both happen to love that kind, and these Buttermilk Pancakes became instantly irresistible. So today, for this Kid Friendly Friday segment, I present to you Peanut Butter M&M Buttermilk Pancakes.  

Let’s get down to business. Here is what you will need:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup Peanut Butter M&M’s

*Note: You can use 3 cups buttermilk, but I opted against it!

Directions:

  • Heat griddle to 375 degrees
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium bowl

  • Add eggs, buttermilk and 4 tablespoons melted butter, whisk to combine
  • Batter should have small to medium lumps
  • Add the M&M’s

  • Heat oven to 175 degrees
  • Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough
  • Using a pastry brush, brush some of the reserved melted butter on the griddle
  • Using a ½ cup measuring cup, pour pancake batter in pools 2 inches away from one another

  • When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, flip over; about 2 ½ minutes
  • Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute

  • Repeat with the remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in oven to keep warm!

The awesome part about these pancakes, besides the taste, is how fun they are to make; or will be to make with your kids. What kid does not want to add a handful of M&M’s to their pancakes? It’s a great way to get them involved and inspire them to be creative with ordinary breakfast foods. I was inspired by the need to surprise Nick, who thought he was only getting ordinary Buttermilk Pancakes.

I hope you give them a try with your kiddos this weekend. And, if you’re like me and don’t have any kids, I hope you give them a try while watching early morning Saturday television!

Until Next Time,

Happy Pancake Creating!

Multi - Colored Cupcakes

Good Monday Morning Foodie Friends! I guess it is almost Monday afternoon for everybody on the east coast. I apologize my post is a bit delayed today. It’s been a rough couple of days; I dropped Nick off at the airport yesterday. He will be gone all week on business; I missed him the moment he walked away from the car yesterday. Many of you may think that a week is no big deal and, in reality, you are correct. For me, however, it is tough to watch him walk away because within a year of dating him he walked away into Iraq’s great unknown. The deployment process really impacted me & I believe I will always detest when he leaves. Do not get me wrong, I enjoy my space but, like I have said several times before, the grass only appears greener on the other side.

I will leave it at that. You do not want to hear about my other dilemmas.

Today I have a great Meatless Monday segment. This is a great recipe that will, hopefully, help get you through the Monday blues. It comes from my friend Jessica, so it is sure not to disappoint. Are you ready? Today I bring to you Multi-Color Cupcakes. She whipped these little guys up for the 4th of July holiday, but can be adapted for any holiday or for everyday life.

Let’s get down to what you will need:

  • Box of white cake mix, [store bought or your favorite recipe]
  • Food coloring

Directions:

  • Preheat oven according to the boxed cake mix or per your recipe
  • Mix the batter according to your directions
  • Separate the batter into 3 bowls for the Red, White & Blue cupcakes [However, if you want to make rainbow cupcakes, decide how many colors you want to use & separate the batter into that amount of bowls. For example, if you want to use 6 colors, you will need 6 bowls of batter]

  • Dye each bowl one color

  • Lightly grease cupcake pan
  • Then layer the colors into the cupcake pan with a spoon [For the Red, White & Blue cupcakes: First layer the Red, then with a spoon layer the White and Blue]

blurrrry action shot!!

a little blurrrry, sorry!!

  • Do not worry, the colors will not sink into each other and do not mix up too much
  • Bake the cupcakes according to the boxed directions or per your recipe

These look delicious and are packed full of great color! If you are having a day like I am, these would be great to whip together after work today! What would we do without Jess and her awesome baking skills?? Personally, I would be lost!

I hope you all enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Happy Rainbow Cupcake Makin’

 

 

*Here are the fun Rainbown Colored Cupcakes. Remember you can use whatever colors you like! For instance, Jess even suggested using them for St. Patrick's Day, etc.!!