Saturday, March 31, 2012

No-Bake Nests

With Easter around the corner, I wanted to have a cute Easter themed treat.  So I found a recipe that combines 3 of my favorite treats: Cadbury mini eggs (I stock pile these every Easter so I can have them throughout the year and I don't share with my kids....they're mine!!), coconut, and no bake cookies (I seriously lick the spoon, bowl, stove, pan and anything else that touches these cookies, clean).

No-Baked Cookie Nests
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
pinch salt
1 cup coconut
1 tsp. vanilla
mini chocolate eggs and coconut, for decorating.

Bring sugar,  milk and butter to a boil in a saucepan. Simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients until well incorporated.  Spoon into lightly greased mini muffin cups. Using the back of a spoon press the mixture down in the middle and up along the sides, forming a nest. Allow to harden. Using a knife, loosen the edges and gently pop out the nests. Store covered at room temperature for up to two days. Freeze for longer storage.

To decorate: Put a few drops of food coloring in the coconut and stir. Sprinkle with coconut and fill with mini eggs.  To make it really festive, do several bright Eastery colors. ( I was lame and only did green).  You could also use jelly beans or any of your small favorite Easter treats.

These are super yummy....and the best part, they are bite size!  But if you want, you can make them in regular sized muffin tins and have them bigger....but if you do mini ones, you get a lot more and can share with more people =)

When Easter is over, use the recipe to make just plain ol' no-bake cookies.  Just drop onto wax paper and let harden....then enjoy (by which I mean, try not to stuff your face too much with them)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Southwest Chicken Wraps

I found this recipe while ago and have been wanting to try it. I wasn't in the mood to cook something big and I wanted something light and somewhat healthy.  I loved this. It was pretty easy to put together and the best part......everyone liked it! Even my picky eater. This kinda reminded me of something from Cafe Rio (I think it was the lime cilantro rice).  This is a great dish for the coming summer to because the chicken could easily be grilled if you are ambitious and cook and shred and freeze your chicken ahead of time, that would make it easier.  Also, this freeze great so if you make a big batch just freeze them and you can take ones  out later for lunch :-)

Southwest Chicken Wrap
2 chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded
1/2 green pepper (you could use any kind)
1 green onion, chopped
juice of 1 lime ( 2-3tbsp of lime juice)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tbsp chili powder ( use less or more depending on how spicy you like it)
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp. garlic salt
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cup cooked white rice.
2cups shredded cheese ( whatever flavor, I uses cheddar)
burrito sized tortillas
Combine rice, beans, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, and green onion.  Meanwhile, saute the pepper and add the chicken.  In a tortilla add some of the rice bean mix, then add the chicken.  Sprinkle cheese on top.

Roll up the tortilla.  Spray with non-stick spray and lightly brown all sides in a skillet.  Then serve and enjoy!

Here's a few tips:  Instead of dipping in sour cream, I put a layer of sour cream on teh tortilla, then did my rice and chicken.  Also, I sprayed one side of the tortilla with non-stick spray and then flipped it over and did my fillings.  It made it so much easier to cook.

My hubby suggested that it would be really good with the tomatillo cilantro ranch to dip it in.  I agree and next time I make these, I will make that too =)  And I may possible add some green chilies in with the rice as well......

Friday, March 23, 2012

Banana Oat Streusel Muffins

I had some bananas sitting on my counter....nice and black and mushy....just waiting to be made into something yummy.  I know that my banana bread is usually pretty good, and I have a good banana oatmeal cookie recipe....but I wasn't in the mood for those.  Then one of my friends said she was looking for good muffin recipes so I figured I would make some banana muffins.I didn't want them like banana bread though.  I actually made the batter and baked a dozen muffins and then decided it was lacking.  I then added some more stuff to it and then I was very happy with them.  They are nice and sweet, but not cupcake sweet. 

These are great for a snack and also for breakfast.  There are also great to freeze. 


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (can use 3/4 cup wheat flour and 3/4 cup white flour)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or milk)
  • 1/3 cup yogurt (originally it was oil but I wanted it a bit healthier.....)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 mashed bananas
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • Directions
  • Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Stir in the milk, yogurt, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake/muffin liners.  Spray with non-stick spray (it helps them come out of the liners better). Put about 3 tbsp of batter into each one. 

  • For streusel topping, mix 1/2 c. Brown Sugar, 2 Tbsp. Flour, 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon, and 1 Tbsp. Softened butter. Sprinkle over the muffins in the pan before baking.
  • Bake at 375 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 18 to 20 minutes.   It yields 18-24 muffins....depending on how much you fill the cups.  It made 24 for me but mine were overflowing and had no "muffin-tops.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Oreo Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found this recipe and I HAD to try it!  I have never made cookies with pudding in them so I was a bit iffy....but with oreo pudding and then a cookies and cream candy bar, I figured they couldn't be all that bad.  They were GREAT!  (I think I ate a few cookies worth of cookie dough....)  The true judge was when my hubby tried them.  He is very picky about his food.  It was love at first bite =)  I think I may have found a new favorite cookie =)

1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (4.2 ounce) package instant Oreo Pudding mix 
2 1/4 cups flour  
1 teaspoon baking soda 
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Hershey's Cookies N Cream Candy Bars broken into small pieces (regular sizd, or use 2 king sized) 
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Note: I found Oreo Pudding mix at my grocery store but I also saw it at our Walmart and Target.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in pudding mix until blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix to combine. Stir in cookies n' cream pieces and chocolate chips. Batter will be thick.

Using a cookie dough scooper, place golf ball sized dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. You do not want to overbake these! Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet before moving to a cooking rack. Store in air-tight container. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Rainbow Swirl Sugar Cookies

I found this idea originally for Dr. Seuss cookies.  They really do look like treats that they would serve down in Whoville =)  And they taste fantabulous too.  They are super easy.....but a bit time consuming.  they make a fun activity to do with little kitchen helpers too =)

What you need:
your favorite sugar cookie recipe (i'll put mine at the end)
sprinkles, 2 bottles (if you do the full batch of my cookies)
food coloring

Separate your cookie dough into 4-6 bowls.  I only did 4 because I only wanted 4 colors, but do as many as you want.  In each bowl, color your cookie dough.  Then roll each color into grape sized balls.

Then take one ball of each color and roll it into a ball (don't over mix the colors or you get a brown mess.....that's what my 3 -year old's cookies ended up like =)  )

 Then roll it into a log (snake) about 8-12 inches long.

Then roll your dough (make a snail shell) and twist the dough as you roll it.

Then dip the edges in your sprinkles.

Put them on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes-10 minutes, depending on your stove (mine did 8 and they came out perfect).  Let them cool on a cooling rack and enjoy!

Usually I have to have frosting with my sugar cookies so I was worried that they might be a little blah but with the added sprinkles it gave it a bit of extra flavor.

My kids loved helping do them.  I put my 6 year old to work rolling the balls (I had to fix quite a few =)  ) and then my 3- year old helped with dipping in the sprinkles....until he got distracted watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I love when I can find a fun kitchen recipe/activity that the kids can do =)  But they both loved making their own "snakes and snails."  If you want to get your kids involved in the kitchen....give this a whirl =)

My favorite sugar cookie recipe:

1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. butter or margarine (if you use margarine, make sure you chill the dough before handling)
8 oz. cream cheese
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract (optional, if you don't use it, use a total of 2 tsp. vanilla)
3 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Cream sugar, butter and cream cheese.  Add in the egg and extracts.  Then add dry ingredients.  Chill for about 30 minutes- 1 hour before using or the dough will be sticky. Roll the dough out and cut it with cookie cutters (or use for the rainbow cookies above).

I usually have to add a bit of extra flour to mine when rolling it out.  I use a mixture of flour and sugar so it keeps some of the sweetness.  If you use these for roll out cookies, bake at 375 degrees for 7 minutes, depending on how thick and soft you want them.  I like mine soft, but if you like them crunchier then bake 8-10 minutes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chocolate Studded Shamrock Cookies

St. Patrick's day is around the corner =)  Everyone likes to do green colored things on that day.  But when you put green food coloring in me it kinda resembles something like what you see when your baby starts eating strained peas.....not the most appetizing thought or visual, I know.  So make something green and pretty by sprinkling it with sugar crystals instead =)  These cookies are something that I like to make every year.  they are fun and festive.

Chocolate Studded Shamrocks:

2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. butter or margarine, softened
2/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs.
1 pkg. semi-sweet mini morsels (I used regular sized ones and just half a bag to make up for the size)
Green colored sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Combine flour and baking soda in a bowl.  Cream butter, sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs, one a ta time.  Gradually mix in dry ingredients.  Stir in morsels.  Refrigerate until firm.

Shape dough into 3/4- inch balls; place three together to form a shamrock shape on ungreased baking sheets.  Roll a small amount to form the stem.  

Sprinkle the cookies with green sugar.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges lightly browned.  Cool on sheets for 2 minutes then put them on a wire rack to cool.

This cookie dough isn't overpoweringly sweet.  The chocolate chips add enough sweetness and then you sprinkle sugar on it and it's perfect!  Another great thing, the dough doesn't spread too much.  The cookies do get a bit bigger, but they don't spread out (but make sure your dough is chilled or it could spread a bit more....).  I hope you enjoy these and feed them to your little leprechauns this year!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Firehouse Pizza Pasta (or a chicken chicken cordon blue casserole, but better)

I found this recipe for a copy-cat Firehouse pasta.  Firehouse Pizza is place we LOVED up in Logan, UT.  So when I found this recipe I was excited to try it out.  When I saw it though, it seemed lacking in seasonings so I added a bunch of stuff to it to add some flavor.

1 lb pasta
1 c. chicken, cooked, cubed
1 c. ham, cubed
1 1/2 c. milk
8 oz. cream cheese
2 tbsp. dried minced onion
2 cups swiss cheese, shredded ( I shredded an 8 oz pkg and used it all....but my family is full of cheese freaks so we use extra)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. parmesean cheese
1/2 tsp oregeno
1 1/2 tbsp. Italian seasonings

1 c. dried bread crumbs
1 tbsp parmesean cheese(otptional)
3 tsp. itallian seasonings (optional)
1/2 c. butter, melted

Cook pasta according to directions.  Meanwhile, in a saucpan, combine milk, cream cheese, and onion.  Stir frequently until cream cheese dissolved.  Continue cooking and stirring for approximately 5 minutes.  Stir in cheeses and seasonings.  Stir in chicken and ham.  Put mixture in a 9x12 baking dish.

Sprinkle crumbs over the the top and pour the butter over top.  Broil until the top is browned.  Watch carefully, it doesn't take long.  Less than 3-5 minutes.

My family loved this!  Not a single murmer or complaint or "you should have done this instead."  This is very filling and serves a lot.  I seperated it into 2 8x8 dishes and froze the other for next time.....especially since they loved it we will eat it again...and again...and again.....and again.  I love that is has lots of flavor, but it is not overpowering.  Serve with some garlic bread and YUM!!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I have made granola bars before (they're one of my favorite foods!) but I haven't found a recipe I have been totally thrilled with.....until I found this one!  It is nice and moist, but not soggy.  It has lots of flavor, but it isn't too sweet.  This will be my new granola bar treat.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

1/3 cup light brown sugar
¼ cup honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips, separated (or if you don't like chocolate, uses peanut butter or white chocolate) 
Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, stir the oats and rice cereal together; set aside. In a small saucepan, melt the brown sugar, honey, and butter together over medium-high heat until it begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
 Pour the melted mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well to moisten all ingredients. Pour in about 1/4 c. chocolate chips.  Mix a few times, but not too much or you'll get a chocolate bar.  Just enough to incorporate the chocolate thoroughly.  Pour the oat mixture into the prepared pan and press down to ensure that the ingredients are tightly compacted in the pan. Sprinkle the top evenly with the rest of the chocolate chips and press down on the top lightly with the back of a spoon.
 Cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours, or until the chocolate chips are set before cutting into bars. Wrap in plastic wrap or keep in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Taco Roll-up

My family loves tacos.  But you can only have tacos the same way so many times before you get sick of it.  I decided to change things up a bit.  Everyone loved it!  They wolfed it down and I think my daughter ate more than my husband....which is surprising because he can pack it away =)  I'm positive this will be a new regular taco meal for us.  The great thing too, is that it is easy to customize to your families tastes.  We don't do spicy (okay, my husband does but me and the kids don't) so we like it mild but it would be so easy to put a bit of fire in this recipe.

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 to 1 (1.25-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup water

1 can white or pinto beans
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. oil
(Or use a can of refried beans and you won’t need these)

 flour tortillas ( I would recommend the biggest ones you can get)
 salsa (I used mild since me and one of my kids don’t do spicey)
 shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Mexican cheese blend

Drain your can of beans, but leave a bit of juice.  In a skillet, heat the oil, garlic, and onion powder.  Mix in the beans and heat until the beans soften.  Mash them with a potato masher, or put them in a food processor to make really smooth (I don’t like chunks of beans).

Crumble the ground beef into a large skillet and brown over medium-high heat. When the meat is cooked (about 10 minutes), drain the fat. Add the taco seasoning and water, then stir and simmer the mixture for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the beans.
(it tastes better than it looks! I promise!)
To give the filling a smooth consistency, pour the beef mixture into a blender or food processor, eliminate any large chunks from the mix.

For each wrap, heat a tortilla in the microwave for 10 seconds. Spread about 1/2 cup of the beef mixture evenly over it, then top with a layer of salsa and cheese.

 Roll it up and tuck in the ends.

Tightly cover each sandwich in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Cut in half at serve.

I ended up using fajita size tortillas (that was what I had on hand and didn’t want to go to the store) So Instead of ½ cup on each, you just add about 2 tablespoons, about 1 tablespoon of salsa and cheese.  If you do them smaller, then they are more kid-friendly and easier for little hands to manage.

(these didn't roll as well as a bigger one would have, which is why I say get the big ones. But this is a good snack size. =)  These would also freeze great!  Just throw them on a pan, flash freeze, then put in Ziploc freezer bag and take one out when you want one.  Just reheat in the microwave or you could even bake in the oven and get a crunchier shell.

 The great thing too, is that it is easy to customize to your families tastes.  We don't do spicy (okay, my husband does but me and the kids don't) so we like it mild but it would be so easy to put a bit of fire in this recipe.
 If you want to spice it up, add some green chilies, red or yellow peppers (I wish I would have had some on hand and I would have done that!). 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies

I was looking for a way to spruce up sugar cookies....and I have been craving cinnamon rolls for a while and then I came across this recipe.  Perfect!!  I found the original at Picky-Palate (one of my favorite sites for treats!)

I halved the recipe because I didn't want a ton of cookies (this makes alot) but I will post the full recipe.  Plus a few changes I have made =)
2 Cups sugar
1 Cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional, if you don't have it or want to use it, just add another teaspoon of vanilla)
1 Cup sour cream
6 Cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Filling (I didn't use her filling recipe, I had a bag of leftover cinnamon sugar that I used last time I made cinnamon rolls so I sprinkled that on......I think it was less than what hse used but I wish I would have used more =)  )
12 tablespoons softened butter, (slice 2 Tablespoons 6 times totaling 12 tablespoons)
1 1/2 Cups packed light brown sugar, divided into 1/4 Cups
1 1/2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon, divided
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2-4 Tablespoons milk, to thin icing (as needed, I didn't need any but I like my frosting thick)

In an electric or stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and sour cream until well combined. Slowly add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until well combined.
 In 2 batches, place in plastic wrap in a disc shape and chill for at least 2 hours for best results.
 Once chilled, cut each disc into thirds and roll into a 1/8 inch thick oval, about 12 inches X 5 inches. 

 Spread each rolled pieces of dough with 2 Tablespoons softened butter, 1/4 Cup packed brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.  
(Definitely should have used more....when I make cinnamon rolls I usually smother it....but I was afraid of overpowering it)

Start rolling from the long end closest to you, rolling into a log shape. 

 Using a sharp knife, cut 1/2 inch pieces of dough then placing onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.  

Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before removing from baking sheet.
 To prepare frosting, beat the cream cheese until softened and smooth, slowly add powdered sugar and milk until desired consistency. 

 Frost cookies then place in refrigerator until ready to serve.  Makes at least 6 dozen (that's why I halved it =)  )