Sunday, February 28, 2016

Kid Friendly Cereal Bars


We had this on our appetizer night for dessert. It was a hit with the kids and very tasty.

Crispy Pretzel Bars


1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
5 cups Rice Krispies
2 cups pretzel sticks
1 cup plain M&Ms


In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the sugar and corn syrup. Microwave on high for 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Stir in peanut butter until blended. Add the cereal, pretzels and M&Ms; stir until coated. Press into a greased 15x10-inch pan. Cut into bars.

Yield: About 3 dozen.

Source: Taste of Home. You can find it here.

Notes: This is a quick, easy, and kid friendly dessert. Win, win, win!

The Original...The One and Only

We have already posted many variations on this original recipe, but this is the original one...the one that started it all...the best of the best...if you can only make one, this is the one.

Chex Muddy Buddies


9 cups Rice Chex, Corn Chex, or Chocolate Chex cereal (or combination)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.

In 1-quart microwaveable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirring smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.

Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Source:, submitted by Chex Party Mix. You can find the recipe here.

Notes: This stuff is so addicting. If you want to turn this back into a cereal (a very unhealthy, not low-calorie cereal), you can do what my brother does and add milk to these and eat them with a spoon! I've never tried this, but my brother says it is fantastic. Bring it full circle! Ha ha!

Another Oscars, Another Appetizer Night!

We have created a more recent family tradition where we have an "Appetizers for Dinner" night on the same night as The Academy Awards. It's always fun to try out all of these fun appetizer recipes and be able to eat as much as we want to without "saving room for dinner" because, well, it IS dinner!

Some of these are appetizers from another night that I am grouping here just for the sake of convenience.

Fabulous Spinach and Artichoke Dip


1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10 ounce) container Alfredo sauce
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup grated Parmesan-Romano cheese
1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
ground black pepper, to taste
Tortilla chips, for serving


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Thoroughly mix artichoke hearts, Alfredo sauce, spinach, Parmesan-Romano cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, garlic, and black pepper in a bowl; spread into an 8-inch square baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven until cheeses are bubbling and melted, 25 to 30 minutes.

Source:, submitted by canderson09. You can find it here.

Notes: This is a copycat recipe of Applebee's spinach and artichoke dip. It is spot on and very delicious. It is fantastic paired with some of your favorite tortilla chips.

Antipasto Squares


2 (10 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1/4 pound thinly sliced boiled ham
1/4 pound thinly sliced provolone cheese
1/4 pound thinly sliced Swiss cheese
1/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami
1/4 pound thinly sliced pepperoni sausage
1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained, cut into thin strips
3 eggs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Unroll one package of crescent roll dough, and cover the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan. Layer the ham, provolone cheese, Swiss cheese, salami, pepperoni, and red peppers on top of the dough.

In a bowl, beat the eggs lightly, and stir in the Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Pour 3/4 of this mixture over the peppers. Unroll the second package of dough, and place over the top of the peppers. Brush with the remaining egg mixture. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove foil, and bake another 10 to 20 minutes, or until dough is fluffy and golden brown. Cut into squares. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

Source:, submitted by Lori G. You can find it here.

Notes: These are not easy to dish out and serve, but they were very tasty.


Marinated Cheese


1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 (2 ounce) bottle diced pimento, drained
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons minced green onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (8 ounce) package Cheddar cheese
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cold


In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the olive oil, white wine vinegar, pimento, parsley, green onion, garlic, sugar, basil, salt, and pepper. Shake vigorously to blend. Set aside.

Cut the block of Cheddar cheese in half lengthwise. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices to form squares. Repeat with cream cheese. Arrange cheese squares alternately in a shallow baking dish with slices standing on edge. You can arrange in a single long row, or 2 parallel rows depending on the size of your dish. Pour the marinade from the jar over the cheese slices. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

To serve, remove slices to a serving platter so they are still arranged in an alternating pattern. Spoon some of the extra marinade over the cheese, and serve with crackers.

Source:, submitted by trish555. You can find it here.

Notes: This was such a pretty appetizer. So delicious too! You could alternate between Cheddar and Mozzarella slices (instead of cream cheese) if you are worried about the cream cheese being too messy. This was delicious though. The only drawback is that it is messy and drippy and I got some oil from the marinade on my shirt and it took quite a few washes to get that mess out!


Pigs in a Blanket


2 pkgs. (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent roll dough.
1 pkg. Lit'l Smokies
Ketchup and mustard, for serving


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Separate each package of crescent roll dough into 8 triangles. Cut each triangle into 3 smaller triangles.

Place 1 sausage on the wide end of the triangle and roll towards the point. Place wrapped sausage point side down on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining sausages. Bake 9-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with ketchup and mustard, if desired.

Source: Hillshire Farm. You can find it here.

Notes: Well, folks, it doesn't get any easier or more kid friendly than this!


Bavarian Style Meatballs


12 fluid ounces tomato-based chili sauce
1 (16 ounce) can whole cranberry sauce
27 ounces Bavarian-style sauerkraut, undrained
1 cup water
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 (16 ounce) package frozen meatballs


In a medium size mixing bowl, combine chili sauce, cranberry sauce, sauerkraut, water, and brown sugar. mix well. Pour sauce and meatballs in a slow cooker; stir.

Cook, covered, at a medium temperature for 4 hours. Stir occasionally to coat meatballs.

Source:, submitted by teri denlinger. You can find it here.

Notes: The sauerkraut was kind of what caught our eye. It was an interesting ingredient, but it totally worked! These were great meatballs. Also, Teri Denlinger must have a more awesome slow cooker than I do because mine only has a low and a high heat setting. We just cooked ours on low.

Outrageous Warm Chicken Nacho Dip


1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers (such as Ro*Tel), drained
1 (1 pound) loaf processed cheese food (such as Velveeta, cubed
2 large cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, shredded
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup diced green onion
1 1/2 tablespoon taco seasoning mix
2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper, or to taste (optional)
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained


Place the diced tomatoes, processed cheese, chicken meat, sour cream, green onion, taco seasoning, and jalapeno pepper into a slow cooker. Cook on high, stirring occasionally until the cheese has melted and the dip is hot, 1 to 2 hours. Stir in the black beans, and cook 15 more minutes to reheat.

Source:, submitted by brightlightz. You can find it here.

Notes: This isn't the prettiest, but it was very tasty. Serve it with tortilla chips and you're set!

Guacamole My Way


5 avocados from Mexico, peeled, pitted, and diced
5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons finely diced onion
1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 lime, juiced
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, or to taste


Combine avocados, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and lime juice. Stir well, mashing avocado, but leaving a chunky texture. Season with salt; stir to combine.

Serve immediately or chill for 30 minutes.

Source:, submitted by Paula. You can find it here.

Notes: Tasty stuff!


Pico de Gallo


3 medium tomatoes, diced
3 onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
6 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


In a medium bowl, combine tomato, onion, jalepeno pepper (to taste), cilantro, and green onion. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir until evenly distributed. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Source:, submitted by grneyedmustang. You can find it here.


Cheesy Bacon Corn Dip


4 slices bacon
3 cups corn
4 oz. cream cheese
2 cups shredded Cheddar
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped chives
Kosher salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to let drain, then chop.

In a large bowl, combine corn, cream cheese, Cheddar, sour cream, chives, and chopped bacon and season with salt. Stir until combined, then transfer to a baking dish.

Bake until warmed through and cheese is bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes.

Source: You can find it here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Birthday Cake Expectations

When I asked my son how he wanted his birthday cake decorated, he said, "I want a cake with puppies and kittens having a picnic at the beach...and I want a shark chasing a puppy in the ocean."


I wanted the ocean water to look special and after hunting around online, I came up with the idea of using piping gel...but it was a little expensive and I didn't know if it would be delivered in time for my son's birthday. So, then I had the bright idea of looking to see if I could find a recipe for homemade piping gel online. No surprise, I was able to find one! Thank you World Wide Web and thanks to the wonderful blog that posted such a useful recipe! You really have to check out this blog. It has so many amazing ideas! It's called

Piping Gel


1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. clear flavor extract (optional)
Gel food coloring (optional)


Combine the cold water and cornstarch in a heat-proof container. Whisk until no cornstarch lumps remain. Whisk in the corn syrup until combined.

Microwave for 2-3 minutes on high, stopping ever minute or so to stir. The mixture will bubble up and boil before thickening to the consistency of hair gel. Watch carefully, to avoid boiling over. If it looks like it is about to boil over, remove it from the microwave, stir it, and put it back in the microwave until it has reached the right consistency.

Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before adding flavoring or color.

If the piping gel becomes too thick, add a tiny amount of water until you achieve your desired consistency. Store piping gel refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three months.

Source: You can find the original post here. Be sure to check out this link (and to explore their site). There are amazing cakes to look at as well as some great ideas for how you can use piping gel.

Notes: The piping gel worked great! It didn't taste that amazing by itself, but when paired with the layer of blue frosting I had on the cake underneath it, it was a delicious combination. It helped me get my ocean water just how I wanted to look.

On the other hand, my son clarified that he wanted the shark to actually be eating the swimming puppy, not just chasing it. :) You can't win 'em all, I guess. However, everyone loved the cake and gobbled it up pretty quickly.

Above: We used cut up Fruit by the Foot to make beach towels for the puppies and kittens. I crushed some vanilla wafers in my food processor and sprinkled it on top of the frosting to make sand.

Above: I ordered the toy puppies and kittens from Amazon. We had the palm trees from a play pirate set that the boys already had. I ran them through the dishwasher before using them on the cake. 

Above: The sharks are closing in on that poor puppy. 

Above: If you're like me, you will imagine that the puppy made it to land before being devoured. If you're like my son, the puppy didn't make it. :) I love how kids' minds work...especially my sweet little boy's mind.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Another Version


One thing you may have learned about us is that one version is never enough. We don't just have one brownie recipe on this blog...we have at least 10. So, it's no surprise that although we have this lovely version of lemon bars already on our blog, we are now posting this one as well.

Creamy Lemon Squares


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
4 large egg yolks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper.

Make crust: using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Add flour, and mix on low just until combined. Press dough into the bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan; prick all over with a fork. Bake until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

Make filling: In a large bowl, whisk together yolks, condensed milk, and lemon juice until smooth. Pour over hot crust in pan; return to oven, and bake until filling is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Refrigerate until filling is firm, about 2 hours or up to 3 days. Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares, and dust with confectioners sugar.

Source: Martha Stewart. You can find it here.

Notes: Don't sprinkle these with powdered sugar until just before serving. If you try to do it too long beforehand, the powdered sugar will be absorbed by the lemon bars. These have kind of a custard texture to them. There's a bit of a key lime pie feel to this dessert. They are really good, but they are not your classic lemon bar.