Cranberry Orange Rice Krispie Treats

Cranberry and orange is such a dynamic flavor duo, and it seems to pop up a lot during Fall. We also think it’s perfect for The Winter Holidays. And Rice Krispie treats have and will always one of the kids’ favorite things to make and to eat. So combining the two was a win for everyone. They still got to make , play in, and eat sugary, sticky crunchy melted marshmallow goodness, and we got to experiment with adding in some gourmet (that’s a stretch, isn’t it?) grownup mix-ins.

Cranberry Orange Rice Krispy Treats

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Pizzadillas

While we try to keep things ‘PG’ rated at best around these parts, occasionally (just occasionally, promise!) things may change. Like now.

Once upon a time, a quesadilla and pizza got together. They had a very lovely, love child. The Pizza-dilla.

And tummies and tastebuds rejoiced throughout the land and we all lived happily ever after!

 Pizzadillas

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Sous Chef Sunday: Monster Tongues (Marshmallow Pinwheels)

These may look gross, especially when you consider they’re called ‘tongues’, but they taste great and the kids (especially little boys- hey snails and puppy dog tails, right?) get a huge kick out of them. They’re perfect for a spooky Halloween treat, or even as a crafty snack to accompany one of our boys favorite children’s stories, I Need My Monster. Also, a great read when you’re gearing up for Halloween with its perfect mixture of scare and flair.

Monster Tongues

But, back to our tongue in cheek treat, perfect for any little monsters you may know. I haven’t met a kid yet who didn’t love these fun treats, even the ones who squealed with equal parts disgust and delight.

And they’re e a s y, a mixture of marshmallows melted and stirred into flavored gelatin, and then is chilled in a pan before being rolled up and sliced into wiggly, giggly little pinwheels, err tongues.

Monster Tongues (Marshmallow Pinwheels)

Monster Tongues 2

1, 3 oz, package flavored jello gelatin (NOT pudding), any flavor
1/2 cup warm water
1-1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Directions

  1. Whisk the gelatin mix and warm water together in medium microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for about 1-1/2 minutes, then whisk again until the gelatin is completely dissolved into the water.
    2. Stir in the marshmallows. Microwave everything on high again for another minute, or until the  marshmallows are partially melted. Remove the bowl from the microwave and whisk again, this time until the marshmallows are completely melted and stirred into the gelatin mixture. Pour the gelatin mix into an 8-inch square pan sprayed with cooking spray.
    3. Refrigerate for about 45 minutes, or until set. Run a sharp knife around edges of pan to loosen the gelatin from the pan. Starting at 1 edge, roll up the layered gelatin tightly, like a jelly roll. Cut the roll into 1/2-inch slices. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

recipe adapted from Kraft

Sous Chef Sunday: Copy Cat Little Caesar’s Crazy Bread

Little Caesar’s $5 hot and ready pizzas have saved my butt at dinner time on more than one occasion. Still I think it’s safe to say that they’re crazy bread is pretty much always the star of their show.

Copy Cat Little Caesar's Crazy Bread

Soft and slightly chewy, brushed with garlic butter and sprinkled with a heavy-handed amount of Parmesan cheese. They’re pretty much the best version of a bread stick. Arguably, ever.

Copy Cat Little Caesar's Crazy Bread 2

I’ve never been good at the whole delayed gratification thing, and even though the closest Little Caesar’s to us is only about 10 miles away, when a craving hits that’s just too far. And that’s one of the reasons I love this make-at-home copycat version so much.

Craving satisfied 🙂

For big and little people alike.

Copy Cat Little Caesar’s Crazy Bread

1 can of refrigerated pizza dough, or one batch of Easy Homemade Pizza Dough
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/8-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Roll out your pizza dough onto a clean surface, into a roughly rectangular shape (doesn’t have to be perfect or exact).
2. Cut dough in half lengthwise, and then cut 8 strips vertically (making 16 small bread sticks). Place each strip onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.
3. While the bread sticks are baking, melt the butter and stir in the garlic salt. Remove the cooked bread sticks from the oven and brush on the garlic butter mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve warm with marinara sauce for dipping.

Sous Chef Sunday: Copy Cat Sonic’s Ocean Water

Despite its name, it tastes nothing like the ocean. Which is probably a good thing. But it is blue, with a tangy flavor and a hint of coconut. And let me just say, that Sonic hit the nail on the head with this one.

 Copy Cat Sonnic Ocean Water 2

It’s arguably one of the best drinks they offer, and it’s pretty unique to them as well. At least I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else. It’s just so refreshing. One sip and you won’t be able to stop the ‘ahhhhhh’ from happening after downing that first taste. You might even find yourself staring at your glass wondering how so much flavor got into one little cup. It’s a perfect little summer cocktail for kids and adults to enjoy. I know with the heat wave hitting us this weekend with over 100 temps (where ya at spring?!) an ice cold cup of Ocean Water sounds absolutely perfect.

Copy Cat Sonic’s Ocean Water

Copy Cat Sonic Ocean Water

4 tbsp of regular white sugar
4 tbsp of water
24 oz of lemon-lime soda (2 – 12 oz cans works great!)
1 1/2 tsp of coconut extract
3 drops of blue food coloring

Directions

1. In a microwave safe bowl, mix the sugar and water and heat for 30 seconds in the microwave. This should dissolve most of the sugar. Alternatively, heat the water and sugar over medium low heat, stirring until most of the sugar has dissolved. Add the sugar mixture to the lemon-lime soda, coconut extract and food coloring to a pitcher and mix gently. Allow the mixture to cool slightly if warm or hot.
2. Serve over ice and enjoy!

To be even more true to the original version, if you can find blue coconut snow cone syrup, then a pump of that into a cold glass of Sprite is 100 % authentic, but since I couldn’t we just made our own homemade coconut syrup 🙂 We couldn’t taste the difference, but in case you can, now you know!

Sous Chef Sunday: Big Mac Pizza

Wanna add some ‘wow’ into your family’s next pizza night? Our Big Mac Pizza is sure to do the trick. The sons could not gt over the fact that it tasted just. like. the sandwich. It’s pretty epic. The whole concept combines two of their most favorite things: fast food & pizza. And Mom’s actually letting them have both? IN THE SAME NIGHT?? They were on cloud 9, and I’m pretty sure if they’d floated any higher they would’ve floated away.

Big Mac Pizza

You don’t have to go super fancy just to change things up a bit. This pizza is a fun twist, but it’s still family friendly, and easy to assemble. And I’ll let you in on a little secret I discovered during the making of this dish. You wanna get the kids in the kitchen fast? Want them to actually want to help you fix dinner? WITHOUT complaining? Put the words ‘big mac’ in the name of whatever you’re having. Problem solved 🙂

Big Mac Pizza

Big Mac Pizza 2

pizza dough, homemade, store-bought, or pre made will all work
Olive oil (if you’re using fresh dough)
Thousand Island salad dressing
6-8 slices of yellow American cheese
1/2 – 3/4 lb. ground beef
Salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Shredded lettuce
grape tomatoes, thinly sliced (optional)

Directions

1. In a medium sized skillet, brown the ground beef. Season the meat with salt and pepper, to taste. Drain the cooked beef and set aside.

2.For pizza dough, lightly grease a pizza pan or large cookie sheet. Pat or roll the dough out into pan and lightly drizzle some olive oil over the top of the crust and then bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.

3. Top the pizza crust with Thousand Island salad dressing and just like you would with sauce, use a lade or the back of a spoon to evenly spread the dressing out over the crust all the way up to the crusts edges. Top the spread dressing with the American cheese slices, and don’t worry if they don’t completely cover the entire pizza. Top the cheese with the ground beef. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese evenly over top of the beef.

4. Bake the pizza at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

5. Remove from the oven and allow the pizza to cool slightly, about 2-3 minutes, before cutting it into slices.

6. To serve, top the cooled pizza with shredded lettuce, tomato and additional Thousand Island, if desired. Enjoy!

recipe adapted from Love Bakes Good Cakes

Sous Chef Sunday: Cake Batter Monkey Muffins

After almost 5 years, we’ll probably only two where he’s paid attention, the youngest son has finally grasped the concept of birthdays. Yes, you have one once a year. He’s also gotten down not just the names of the  months of the year, but there order and that there’s not a random sequence to them. Yes, your birthday is in August. Yes that’s after June and July. So naturally for the past, oh 3/4’s of a year or so, ha know since the day after his birthday last year there’s been a count down to his next big day this August. He introduces himself to people with his name, quickly followed by the fact that he’s now 5 & 3/4.

Cake Batter Monkey Muffins

Our everyday birthday cake banter has really had us all craving just that. But that’s a ways away. So I figured who needs to wait and wait and wait all the way until their special day just for a taste of birthday cake? Not us, not anymore. Not when we can have cake batter monkey muffins anytime of the year. Not to mention, what morning isn’t just a wee bit brighter with a naughty little bit of cake for breakfast? Some days the sons can have their cake, and eat it too! We’ll just save the homemade butter cream frosting for the party part.

Cake Batter Monkey Muffins

Cake Batter Monkey Muffins 2 

1 can jumbo refrigerator biscuits, NOT flaky
1 cup funfetti cake mix dry, or yellow/vanilla cake mix with some sprinkles mixed in
3 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla
Vanilla Frosting

Directions

1. Spray a muffin tin/cupcake pan generously with cooking spray.
2.  In a small pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Transfer the melted butter to a small bowl and add the vanilla. Stir them together, and set it aside.
3. Add the cake mix and brown sugar to another small bowl, and stir them together until evenly incorporated.
4. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut each biscuit into four pieces.
5. Working with four pieces of dough at a time, dip them into the butter mixture, coating them completely. Using a fork or slotted spoon, remove them from the butter mixture (allowing any excess to drip off) and transfer them to the cake mix bowl. Coat each piece completely in the cake mixture. Place four coated pieces into each muffin tin, repeat the process until all eight tins are full.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden, and the centers appear set being careful NOT to overbake them!! Allow the cooked muffins to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before running a butter knife carefully around the edges and removing them from the pan.
7. Place a dollop of frosting on the tops of the still-warm muffins and top with sprinkles.
8. These are best served warm, but can be reheated in the microwave for about 10-20 seconds and served within one day.

recipe adapted from Chef In Training

Sous Chef Sunday: Cuban Hot Dogs or Cubano Dogs

Ok, the sons are the sons, and Lord knows I love my boys, BUT in the past few months the lazy/put upon bug has bitten them in the butt. HARD. Yes, I expect you to help with dinner. Is it going to kill you? No. You’ve got no problem eating the 4 course meal, and you expect me to help with homework, run you around, and generally revolve my whole world around anything you deem fit. SO, if I need a little help with some prep work? You’d better pretend to be willing to lend a hand. That being said, their idea of a complicated recipe and mine are totally different. You ask them to dice or chop and onion, and just the thought has them crying crocodile tears. Big babies. That’s what those big fat science safety goggles are for! 😉

That being said, I try to pick my battles. So if it’s actually their turn to cook, or I delegate the job (yep, it happens) I try to keep their sometimes waning enthusiasm in mind. Things like Cuban hot dogs are perfect for these nights. Still relatively easy, but still technically a recipe. Little prep work, mostly just assembly. And pair it with a simple tossed salad? Or some steamed veggies? Dinner. Is. Done.

So for this Sous Chef Sunday were bringing you dogs. Hot dogs, but not just any hot dogs. CUBAN hot dogs. This may not be the prettiest picture we’ve ever taken, but man oh man don’t let that turn you away. This is one of our favorite ways to enjoy a hotdog! So good! It’s a flavor picnic packaged neatly in a little bun.

Cuban Hot Dogs/Cubano Dogs

Cuban Style Hotdogs

4 hot dogs, we prefer the all beef variety
8 thin slices of Swiss cheese
8 slices of deli ham
4 buns
1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced
prepared yellow mustard
4 dill pickle spears

Directions

1. Cook the hot dogs however you normally would.
2. Place the opened hot dogs buns on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and layer two pieces each of cheese and sliced ham over the inside of the bun. When the hotdogs are just about done cooking, put the buns in the oven and broil until they’re toasted and the cheese is melted. This step is optional. I prefer the toasty, melty cheese version, but the hungry sons usually skip it to get it on their plates faster 🙂
3. Place the cooked hot dogs in the buns and top each with a pickle, onions, and a drizzle of mustard.

recipe adapted from Sweet Treats & More

Sous Chef Sunday: Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs Garlic Bread Sub

The Sons’ are at it again, bringing the masses another recipe they’ve knocked out of the park.

Garlic Bread meets Spaghetti and Meatballs meets the Meatball Sub and the result is out of this world!

Spaghetti & Meatballs Garlic Bread Subs

This recipe will leave your house smelling like a heavenly Italian restaurant and you’ll be lucky if you can keep your family from devouring it before it makes it to their plates. I think the Sons were worse than our pug that night, loitering around the kitchen and watching for any missed speck of this recipe while they waited for me to plate everything up for them.

Savory, buttery, crispy garlic bread stuffed with delicious spaghetti and meatballs… it’s a match made in heaven. How could I blame the little scroungers?!

I’m always watching the sons turn their spaghetti and garlic bread into an open faced sandwich (I’ll admit it freaked me out slightly the first few times), so I knew this would be right up their alley. And oh boy, were they sure on to something…

 son 3 helping

(The apron says it all)

Son # 2, just like his Daddy 🙂

He could easily (and quite happily) eat spaghetti and meatballs every night of the week. Which is why he nominated himself to oversee this particular meal.

 Spaghetti & Meatball Sub Sandwich

It may not be the prettiest presentation, but it delivers 100 % on flavor. All the sons and the hubs gave it two thumbs up. Just make sure you have some napkins handy, because it is messy. But man, you can’t go wrong with Garlic Bread meets Spaghetti and Meatballs meets the Meatball Sub! Enjoy!

Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs Garlic Bread Sub

Spaghetti & Meatballs Sub Sandwich

recipe adapted from The Cards We Drew

frozen, or homemade, meatballs (we used about 1/3-1/2 of the package)
Parmesan, and/or Mozzarella cheese, to taste (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 box of spaghetti noodles
1 loaf of Italian bread
garlic butter (either store bought or homemade)
1 jar of spaghetti sauce

Directions

1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
2. Cook meatballs according to package directions.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the meatballs with the spaghetti sauce until evenly coated. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and then set the aside.
4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
5. Cut your bread loaf in half length wise, and liberally coat both sides of the inside with garlic butter.
6. Place bread in a baking dish, or on a baking sheet, with the insides facing up and bake it until the butter is melted and inside is lightly crisped.
7. Once the bread has baked, top the bottom half with the cooked spaghetti, top the spaghetti with the meatball and sauce mixture, and then sprinkle some parmesan, and/or mozzarella cheese on top.
8. Put the loaf back in the oven until the cheese is nice and melty and the sauce is heated through. Slice loaf into individual sandwiches and serve with salad for dinner.

UPDATE: The Sons’ found this gem and declared it a must share. Son # 1 putting his spaghetti on a baked potato! Bleck!!

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Welcome to my life 😉