Thursday, July 10, 2014

Apple Surprise Snickers Salad

I once had a lovely babysitter named Jenny. My sister and I adored her. We played dress up and baked cookies and she always made us a special treat she called Apple Surprise. This consisted of a granny smith apple, cored and split in half, its crevices filled with peanut butter and our treat of choice. Sometimes this meant chocolate chips, and other times leftover halloween candy-M&Ms, Twix bars or Reese's cups. Then she squashed it all together and we took big bites with pure delight.

There was no specific recipe for Apple Surprise-I'm sure Jenny just thought of it out of the blue. Likewise, this trifle was a beautiful accident. I started off making a quick and easy caramel apple salad for a cookout. Turned out, it tasted great, but looked less than appetizing. In fact, it looked exactly like potato salad. All of its beautiful dessert components were enveloped in cream! So I took an extra 5 minutes to turn it into a trifle and BAM-we were ready for the barbecue.

Unlike many traditional trifles that end up mushy, this one has distinct components that while complementing each other, really shine on their own. The chunks of tart apples are a fun contrast to the chewy, peanutty Snickers bars. And the sweet whipped cream and syrupy caramel bring it all together. This was the quickest, easiest trifle I've ever made. 

  • 6 king size Snickers Candy Bars (or an equal amount of minis)
  • 5 apples (I like granny smith)
  • 1 5.1 oz package vanilla instant pudding mix (dry)
  • ½ cup cold milk
  • 1 16 oz tub cool whip (thawed)
  • caramel sauce
  • 1 cup chocolate or peanut butter chips (optional)

Whisk vanilla pudding mix, milk and cool whip together until well combined. Chop apples and snickers into bite size pieces. Stir about ¾ of the chopped apples and snickers into pudding mixture.

Assemble trifle, starting with cool whip mixture, followed by a drizzling of caramel sauce and a sprinkling of chips. Repeat once more. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving, if possible.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Easy Breezy Coconut French Toast

Breakfast on the beach. That's what this french toast tastes like! I have lots of memories of eating breakfast on the back balcony of our beach house overlooking the water while on vacation each year. But usually I'm eating a bowl of cereal, so this is way better!

This recipe is perfect for a lazy Saturday because it takes almost no time or effort! It calls for King's Hawaiian Rolls because they're extra sweet and pillowy. I like to finish it with fresh fruit and plenty of coconut. For a sparkly finish, sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Easy Breezy Coconut French Toast

  • 1 package King's Original Hawaiian Rolls – 12 pack (orange package)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup milk
  • 7 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Optional: Sweetened coconut, maple syrup & fresh fruit for topping

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Tear the rolls into bite-sized pieces and arrange evenly in a greased baking dish. (I did 9x13 but you could go a little smaller)

Whisk the coconut milk, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Pour the mixture over the bread, covering evenly. Bake for 40-45 minutes, watching the top and covering with foil, if needed. When it's done, it will be puffy and firm. If desired, top with turbinado sugar, coconut and bananas, returning it to the over for a few minutes. Remove and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Cheesy Stuffed Crescents

Gradon and I love the addition of fresh, hot bread with our meals, but i'm not always up for the work and time that goes into making it from scratch. All you need to get these tasty little darlings on the table is a few ingredients and 15 minutes.

Pop open a can of handy dandy crescent rolls, cut up a block of cheese, brush with butter, and you're in business! You can even use string cheese! I used mozzarella, but you can use any cheese that your heart desires.
  • 1 tube crescent rolls 
  • 4 ounces of mozzarella cheese (½ of a 8 ounce block) cut into 8 cubes
  • 1 1/2-2 T butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with silicone baking mat or spray with Pam and set aside. In a small bowl, melt butter together and add italian seasoning and salt.
Pop open crescent rolls and separate into triangles. Brush the tops lightly with garlic butter. Place the cheese at the wide end and roll up, careful to tuck in the ends or the cheese will seep out! I don't stress when it does though-it's actually pretty cute. Brush the tops with more garlic butter and bake 10-11 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Chocolate Dutch Baby

You don't have to break your back to make a beautiful breakfast. Yes, make ahead casseroles save time and effort in the early hours, but sometime you want something simple and delicious that you can whip up quick! You probably have all of the ingredients on hand already. Blend it, then bake it! It's that easy.
This chocolate dutch baby blew me away with its simplicity, cuteness, and chocolatey goodness. It's a thin, but fudgey pancake-like morning treat-pile it high with fresh berries and dust with a little powdered sugar for a breakfast that's perfect for every day OR a special occasion! Make it for your momma this Mother's Day!

Chocolate Dutch Baby
Adapted from Two Peas and our Pod
Serves 4-6
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
  • Fresh berries or other fruit

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a blender, combine milk, eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, and granulated sugar. Blend until well combined, about 1 minute.
In a large cast iron skillet, pie plate or round cake pan, melt butter over medium heat. Pour batter into skillet and immediately transfer to oven. Bake until puffed and set, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and dust with powdered sugar. Serve immediately with fresh fruit, if desired.

This one's a real mom-pleaser. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Banana Oat Fudge Muffins

Muffins are my thing. I never remember feeling fond of them as a kid, but I think that's because my main exposure were those nasty banana nut ones from the grocery store. Homemade muffins are worlds better than those overly moist, crumbly store bought ones.

Muffins are also a win because they're quick, easy, and bake up fast. I prefer them to banana bread and the like because they're less messy and labor intensive. Plus they come packaged in perfect portions and pop out of the pan like champs. They're also really easy to make a little healthier, while retaining maximum deliciousness. A couple of simple swaps like ripe bananas for sugar and applesauce for oil and you can feel extra good about popping a few.

Especially if they're mini like these! I was so pleased with these fudgy banana muffins. They're about 75 calories per muffin-so just 150 for two. The flavor combo of bananas and chocolate is perfect, and there are little bursts of chocolate chips here are there.

I like my muffins on the hearty side with texture and some staying power, so I used oat flour. I just ground up some quick oats in my food processor, but you can buy oat flour if you want. 

Banana Oat Fudge Muffins
Adapted from Yammie's Noshery

Servings: 10-12 (makes 10 regular muffins or 24 mini muffins
(Nutrition info below is for 2 mini muffins)

Calories: 149
Fat: 4g
Carbs: 26g
Fiber: 3g 
Sugar: 13g
Protein: 4g
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)
  • 1 cup oat flour (or grind up oats in a blender/food processor)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease muffin tin with baking spray and set aside. Whisk together the egg, sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and bananas. Mix the dry ingredients and add to the wet. Mix just until combined and then add chocolate chips.

Bake for about 20-23 minutes for regular muffins or 12-16 minutes for mini muffins. You want to slightly under bake these so they retain that yummy fudgy texture.

Speaking of muffins, we had some pretty great ones at our hotel in Alexandria during my birthday trip to Alexandria earlier this month! Whenever we head out that way, we go to DC and overlook all of the amazing things that northern VA has to offer. We shopped the peep museum at the National Harbor and rode our bikes around Old Town in Alexandria, taking in it's rich history and eating a delicious Italian dinner, but the crowning jewel of our trip was Mount Vernon! Just wow, what an unforgettable experience. George Washington was an incredible leader, and learning of his legacy of sacrifice and patriotism made me even prouder to be an American. 

As a birthday bonus, Gradon made me dinner for the first time since we've been married, and a fudgy cheesecake birthday treat to boot! He's in trouble now that he's raised expectations! I also got to open thoughtful cards and presents from my friends and family. All in all, I had a very happy birthday!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hot Cross Biscuits

I’ve always wanted an Easter bonnet. Where does one acquire one? I’d wear it while I made these hot cross biscuits.

I’m a major lover of biscuits. They’re fast, easy, delicious and the best part for your yeast haters-they come out fluffy and beautiful without an ounce of it!

 Anybody can make a fabulous biscuit. And these hot cross biscuits are just what the Easter bunny ordered to make you feel fantastically festive this holiday. Serve them for breakfast or on the side during dinner for a slightly sweet component.

 I substituted cranberries for currents because I’m just not that into currents-do what moves you-even if that means chocolate chips! But whatever you do, don’t forget the most important part-the tangy cream cheese frosting cross.

These biscuits are a little flaky but soft and subtly sweet with a mild citrus component. And the cream cheese takes it to that next level of deliciousness.  Keep in mind these are best served the day they’re made.

Hot Cross Biscuits
Makes 8-10 biscuits (I made 8 bigger ones)


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, cold (make your own with lemon juice, if needed)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup dried currants, cranberries, or chocolate chips

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add lemon zest.  Add cold butter and, using a pastry cutter (or your fingers if needed) work the butter into the flour mixture until the butter will range in size between small pebbles and oat flakes. Work quickly and do not over combine or you’ll end up with a tougher biscuit-less is more here.

In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk. Toss the add ins (currants, cranberries or chocolate chips) into the dry ingredient mixture, and create a well in the center. Pour in the buttermilk and use a fork to incorporate the ingredients.  Make sure that all of the flour bits are moistened by the egg and buttermilk but do not over mix.

Dump the shaggy dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Bring together, kneading lightly, until the dough forms a 1-inch thick (give or take-not measuring here) disk.  Use a biscuit cutter, or if you’re like me, a glass, to cut into rounds. Place on the baking sheet. Gently knead the remaining dough scraps together and repeat.

Brush biscuit tops with buttermilk and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until ever so slightly tan on top. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting with a cross.

For the frosting, in a medium bowl, combine 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons cream cheese, and 1 cup of powdered sugar.  Add just a dash of vanilla extract and a sprinkle of cinnamon if wanted. Mixture will be thick. Scoop the frosting into a zip lock bag or pastry bag and cut off the tip. Pipe crosses onto cooled biscuits and serve.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Broiled Balsamic Asparagus

Asparagus doesn't need much-it's delicious in its simplicity. But here's one of my favorite ways to dress it up just a little. It's so easy and is ready to go in less than 10 minutes! 

I love watching the asparagus turn a brilliant shade of green before tossing it in this simple sauce. The soy sauce component intensifies the balsamic to give it a bit of an edge.

Broiled Balsamic Asparagus

  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Preheat broiler. Cut or snap woody ends off of asparagus. I usually bunch up the entire pound together and slice off a little less than an inch in one fell swoop.

Lay asparagus on a pan (lined with aluminum foil to minimize the mess). Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Broil for 5-6 minutes while prepping the sauce.

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, soy sauce, and olive oil. Remove asparagus from the oven and toss or brush with dressing. Serve!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

I'll admit, I wasn't sold on this concept right away. I'm an italian girl and in my mind, buffalo and lasagna don't seem to jive. But this dish was wildly delicious! It's a positively fun, interesting and downright delectable dish. The flavor is rich and a bit spicy, but not too much so. Trust me, you'll be salivating over the leftovers.

I discovered this recipe on one of my new favorite blogs, Prevention RD. It's hard to fathom that a hefty portion of the pan is less than 350 calories and 10 grams of fat. And the work is minimal-you don't even need to boil the noodles beforehand! I'm telling you, there is a lot to love about this lasagna!

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna 
Slightly adapted from Prevention RD

Servings: 8
Calories: 349
Fat: 9.1g
Carbs: 37.5g
Fiber: 4.8g
Protein: 28.4 g


  • 1 lb white meat rotisserie chicken, cubed or shredded
  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup Frank's zero calorie buffalo wing sauce
  • 1/3 cups water
  • 15 oz low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 16 whole wheat lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 9 slices 2% pepperjack cheese (or other 2% cheese)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine chicken, marinara, wing sauce, and water. In a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese and eggs.

Spray a 9 x 13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread enough sauce to coat the bottom of the pan. Arrange 4 noodles over the sauce. Spread more sauce, then a layer of ricotta mixture. Add another layer of sauce, and repeat the whole process until you end with a layer of sauce.

Cover with tin foil and refrigerate overnight or bake immediately (covered) for 1 hour. Uncover and place cheese slices on top.  Bake an additional 5-10 minutes uncovered. Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.

Monday, January 27, 2014

3 Ingredient Pancakes (GF)

Turns out, you can make a pancake out of most anything. I heard rumors of a 2 ingredient pancake and was skeptical, but once I tried it out, I saw for myself! Although just eggs and a banana works well enough, I prefer the slightly heartier texture with ¼ cup oats added.

These are the simplest and healthiest pancakes I have ever made! They're great when you want a wholesome but comforting snack. They taste a bit eggy, but in a pleasant way. I like spicing them up with a little cinnamon and nutmeg and they're tasty plain or drizzled with maple syrup or honey. These will turn out just fine without baking powder, but I do recommend adding it since it amps up the fluffiness factor. 

3 Ingredient Pancakes
Makes 3 large or 5-6 small pancakes

  • 1 ripe/overripe banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
Optional add ins:
  • 1/4 cup quick oats (use GF oats, if wanted)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • chocolate chips
  • nuts
Mash the banana. Mix together with eggs and quick oats in a medium bowl. Combine with any desired add ins. Coat a skillet with cooking spray and cook pancakes over medium heat. I found that these need a little longer than your standard pancakes because of the egg ratio.

I hope that everyone had a very happy holiday season! Ours was splendid-we got the best of all worlds-we threw a dessert party with our friends in Cville before spending time with my family before Christmas celebrating my mom's birthday, sharing extravagant dinners, baking Christmas cookies and seeing the lights at the Washington DC temple. 
Then we spent Christmas Eve in the airport so we could make it to Utah in time for Christmas morning! It was such a treat to see my little nephews open their presents and hang out with our family in the West. It had been way too long since we'd seen them!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Tenders

These chicken strips are finger-licking good and healthy too! I love them for their versatility-they're great for a protein packed lunch or dinner and taste amazing atop a green salad. You can chop it up and stuff it in a tortilla or quesadilla or serve them as an appetizer with bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks.

I cut chicken breasts in half for mine because I didn't have chicken tenderloins on hand-either way works. These are so simple and quick. Simply combine your spices, grill your chicken and coat with hot sauce. I'm a little sensitive to spicy stuff, so believe me, these were flavorful without burning your mouth off.

Buffalo Chicken Tenders
Adapted from Skinny Taste
Servings: 4 (2 strips each)
Calories: 120
Fat: 4g
Carbs: 2g
Protein: 21g
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 8 strips chicken tenderloin (12.5 oz) or use chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup Frank's Hot Sauce

Combine garlic powder, paprika, chili powder and black pepper in a medium bowl. Season chicken with spices by tossing to evenly coat the chicken.

Heat half of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When hot add half of the chicken and cook until golden, about 3-4 minutes on each side, checking to be sure not to burn. Set aside and repeat with remaining oil and chicken.

Pour the hot sauce over the chicken tossing well. Plate and serve. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Peeta's Cheese Buns

Peeta is known as “the boy with the bread.” In case you've been living under a rock, Peeta is the super cute (although arguably not hott like Gale) main male figure in the Hunger Games series.

He's my favorite character, probably because he bakes a steady supply of bread—cheesy bread. So I modeled these buns after his, and I think they're spot on!

Gradon and I fell in love with these cheese-stuffed buns. I was initially struck by how cute and plump they were as dough balls, and to my surprise, they retained their perfectly smooth, spherical shape after being baked!

They won't brown much, so sprinkle them with a little cheese for a little snapshot of what's inside. Because what's inside is fabulous! These buns are soft, pillowy and a little dense with a burst of stringy cheese.

So by the looks of these, you're thinking this will take all day. Not so, my friend. These will only cost you about an hour and you'll be stuffing your face with cheesy bread!

Peeta's Cheese Buns
Adapted from Yammie's Noshery

  • 1 cup warm water (hot from the tap but not too hot or it will kill the yeast)
  • 2 tablespoons yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 8 ounces of cheese (block of mozzarella cut into 8 cubes)
  • fresh herbs (like parsley, for topping, if desired)
  • 2-3 ounces yellow cheese (for topping, if desired)
Mix together the yeast and water and let it sit for a couple minutes until it foams. Add the sugar, garlic powder, melted butter, and oil. Add the flour a little and a time, mixing in your stand mixer with a dough hook. Add the salt.

Knead for 10 minutes, in the stand mixer or by hand. Let the dough rise in a warm place within the bowl of your stand mixer, covered with a wet cloth for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375º. Divide the dough into 10-16 pieces (I did 10 because I wanted them big) Place a cube of cheese in each one and pinch all the edges back up tightly. Place the pinched side down on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle the buns with more shredded cheese and a pinch of garlic salt. Bake at 375ºF for about 10-15 minutes and serve warm!