A fluffy whipped cream filling sandwiched between two soft yellow cakes and covered in a luscious layer of white chocolate. This Copy Cat Hostess Zebra Cake is topped off with a chocolate drizzle before being sliced and served. This cake is a fun, delicious homage to one of your favorite childhood treats and an easy way to usher it in for a new generation.
To all my regular readers and followers this is not news, but if you’re new here (HI!! we hope you come back to visit often) I’ll let you in on a well-known fact: I am NOT a morning person. At All. I make no secret of this, and my family knows it well. Do not approach me (period) if the coffee has not been brewed. When my cup’s half gone, you may proceed with caution. Nope, scratch that, I’m headed to the bathroom. When only the dregs are left I bear a striking resemblance to something that passes for human and the Mom you know and love. You still may want to tread carefully for another 15 minutes or so though.
$5, $5 foot long …
You know the jingle I’m sure. And it’s a great deal, especially for such a generously proportioned sandwich. And not surprisingly, none of our kids have any trouble (at all!) putting one down in mere minutes. They’re easy, they’re good, and with children who inhale their food, the price is right on point for us.
Have you ever had a Southwestern-style egg roll? They’re so good, and for the most part they’re not too bad for you calorie-wise. Originally we had to go to our local Chilis to enjoy them, but then we began making them at home, using tiny tortillas.
But have you ever worked with egg roll or wonton wrappers? Once you’ve opened the package, you’ve got days at most to use the rest before they go bad. And y’all know how much food waste pains me, so as usual necessity was the mother of ingenuity. And it led to our own deconstructed version of southwestern egg rolls, this time turned into a dip. With an egg roll ‘chip’ replacing our typical flour tortilla.
it good. When we ran out of chips the sons were scarfing it down by the spoonful!
East meets (south)West in this funky Tex-Mex, inside out, version of an egg roll. Its simple, fun and a great way to use up leftovers, especially if you’re like us and you’ve got a half a can of black beans here,a quarter cup of diced peppers there, etc.
Southwestern Egg Roll Dip with Wonton Chips
1 chicken breast, cooked, then either diced or shredded
3/4 – 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
2 green onions, thinly sliced and then diced
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
package of wonton wrappers
3/4 cup ranch dressing
the juice of 1 lemon or lime, your choice
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 avocado, mashed
salt and pepper, to taste
oil for frying
- In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, corn, beans, peppers, green onion, spinach, and cheese until roughly combined.
2. In a separate bowl combine the ranch dressing, the lemon or lime juice, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, salt and pepper stirring until an evenly incorporated dressing forms.
3. Mix the mashed avocado in with the dressing, whisking until evenly incorporated, and then pour the finished dressing over the veggie mixture.
Heat vegetable oil in a pan over med/hi heat.
4. Cut a stack (your desired amount) of wonton squares in half diagonally, forming triangular shaped ‘chips’. Fry the chips a few minutes on each side until golden brown.
5. Serve the veggie/dressing mix as a dip in a bowl, with the egg roll chips on the side, or scoop out a bit of the dip onto each chip for easy grab and go bite sized snacks.
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.
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.
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
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.
My parents theory for us girls was always keep us busy, and keep us out of trouble. Their updated take on idle hands make the devil’s work, I guess. I’ve got to say though, they’re track record speaks for itself, and the hubs and I’ve pretty much applied the same philosophy to the sons, keeping them enrolled in extra curricular activities. But my, my how times have changed. Or more specifically, how post game snack times have changed.
Back in the day everybody looked forward to the post game snacks and seeing what dreamy sweet cakes were waiting for us. Complete with a perfectly acceptable sugar-laced juice drink of some sort. If you brought oatmeal cream pies, it was a great post game, regardless of the win or loss. But if you brought cosmic brownies? It was a great game, most likely a championship of some sort. Now-a-days the sons get carrot sticks or bananas post game, or even outrageously expensive, and overly stuffed organic snack bags with several different options to choose from. And I get it, I do. Of course there little bodies need to refuel, but every kid (at least once in their lives) deserves to experience the sheer joy of biting into a fudgey brownie, topped with chocolate ganache, and studded with fun candy-coated, rainbow-colored chocolate candies.
Yep, I was that mom on snack day. And no I didn’t pair them with bottled water, or little organic juice drinks. Capri Sun all day. Erry day. And damn if those kids didn’t think it was magic. Even the sons (who’re used to sweet treats) were a bit in awe.
I even brought enough to share with the parents. You can’t be stingy with something this great. And I happily shared the recipe with each and every one who asked for it. Now I’m sharing the love with all of you too.
Copy Cat Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies
For the Brownies
3/4 cup butter (1½ Sticks)
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup, packed, light brown sugar
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
For the chocolate ganache topping:
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup M&M minis, or rainbow chocolate chip candies
1. Line an 11×7 inch pan with foil. Spray with non stick spray.
2. In a large bowl, melt butter in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, or melt in a small pot over low heat and then transfer to the bowl.
3. Whisk in the sugars, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Then whisk in the cocoa powder until the batter is smooth and not lumpy.
4. Add flour gradually, stirring until everything’s evenly combined.
5. Pour the batter out into the prepared pan, and use a spatula to gently spread it out evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow it to cool completely.
6. Heat the heavy cream in a medium sauce pan over medium-medium low heat. Add in the chocolate chips, stirring occasionally until they’ve both completely incorporated and the ganache is smooth.
7. Pour the ganache over the completely cooled brownies. Smooth it out with an offset spatula.
8. Sprinkle the M&Ms, or rainbow chocolate chip candies, over the top of the ganache. Refrigerate until the ganache has set. Cut brownies into squares to serve and enjoy!
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.
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
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
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!
There’s just something about a chicken sandwich, specifically, a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich, that is just out of those world delicious. Especially in the realm of fast food. And who can blame them for the uber simple, streamlined menu. It’s hard to top perfection. And perfect the boneless, fried chicken breast they have. And for years we’ve craved that taste, paired with delicious dill pickles. And for years I’ve been angered, depressed, even sickened once by my failure to achieve anything close to it at home. Don’t get me wrong, I usually will find any reason to justify coughing up some extra cash for a pit stop at the nearest one, but sometimes this just isn’t possible. (Heeellllooo, Sundays at lunch time, every single time, when we pull in only to face palm after realizing, duh! they’re closed) And yet, the craving still demands to be satisfied. So what’s a gal to do???
She keeps right on trying, dammit!! And lo and behold, we finally have a winner folks! I kid you not, the flavor is spot on. I was even able to feed everyone, at 1 sandwich a piece with only two breasts. Two! and yes you read that right. I can’t even get over these, that’s how good they were. The hubs, the sons, everyone has asked for them repeatedly. Anytime I ask what we should have for supper, this is there answer. The hubs liked it so much he had two, two, and then stared down my sandwich every.single. bite. I took the entire meal. He even told me to name my price! Oh the things I can get that man to do for a bite of this sandwich. (cue the witchy, evil laugh) But really, that honey do-list? Totally, nonchalantly pushing it across the table…
The secret? The marinade before the seasoned breading. It’s pickle juice. And no for all the pickle haters out there, it doesn’t leave the chicken tasting pickle-y. For added authenticity, serve these on buttered, toasted hamburger buns with two pickle slices each.
Copy Cat Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (we get 3 patties er breast)
1/4 cup dill pickle juice
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp dried basil
tiny dash of cayenne
Oil for frying (about a cup), if you’re going for authenticity use peanut oil, I usually just us vegetable oil and they still taste phenomenal
Buns (buttered and toasted)
dill pickle slices/ ‘chips’
1. Wrap the chicken loosely between plastic wrap and pound gently with the flat side of a meat tenderizer until it’s only about ½ inch thick all around.
2. Cut the breast into two, or three, pieces, as evenly as possible.
3. Marinate the chicken in pickle juice for at least 30 minutes, and up to one hour.
4. Beat the egg with the milk in a bowl.
5. Combine the flour, sugar, and spices in another bowl.
6. Dip the chicken pieces each into the egg on both sides, then coat in flour on both sides.
7. Heat the oil in a skillet (1/2 inch deep) to about 345-350 degrees.
8. Fry each cutlet for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown on the outside and cooked through.
9. Remove from the skillet onto paper towels. Blot to remove any excess oil, and serve on toasted buns with pickle slices.
It’s famous, it’s infamous, it’s notorious. It has destroyed diets and led to love affairs from just a sip of it’s creamy, dreamy, icy blend of chocolatey goodness. Just one sip will make you want to blow bubbles through your straw like a child again. Never had a sip of Serendipity’s Frozen Hot Chocolate? You have got to find out what you’ve been missing!! And now, there’s no need to plan a trip all the way to NYC just for one glorious taste test. Hot Chocolate has always been a Winter weather staple for the sons, but now their minds have officially been blown. Hot chocolate flavor served up icy cold! It’s the perfect summer pick-me-up for a 90 degree day or any day really!
Frozen Hot Chocolate
1/2 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips, or 4 oz. chocolate
2 tsp. hot cocoa mix
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups milk, divided
3 cups ice cubes
sweetened whipped cream
chocolate sprinkles, optional
1. Chop chocolate into small pieces and melt in a glass container in microwave for 10-20 second intervals until melted.
2. Add in hot cocoa mix and sugar to melted chocolate. Mix until blended.
3. Add in 1/2 C milk, stir until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature
4. In blender, place remaining milk, cooled chocolate mixture and ice cubes
5. Blend on high speed until smooth and consistency of a frozen daiquiri
6. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream and sprinkles.
Better for you hamburger helper — that’s what we decided this recipe was. Reminiscent of hamburger helper, but without all the preservatives and ingredients you can’t pronounce. Creamy, cheesy, and delicious! If I haven’t sold you on it yet, where can you go wrong with a combination of two family favorites? Tacos & pasta?! A perfect quick and easy, busy weeknight meal. Be prepared though. Dinner will be silent. Everyone will be too busy eating, or in my case, scarfing down their first helping so they can call dibs on whatever is left in the pot.
Creamy Taco Pasta
recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
1 pound ground beef or turkey
8-12 ounces medium pasta shells or other small dry pasta shapes
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1-2 tsp minced garlic
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, drained, or 1 cup salsa
1 packet (4 tablespoons) taco seasoning
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp dried cilantro leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the ground meat over medium-high heat until no longer pink. A few minutes before the meat is cooked through, add the chopped onion to the skillet. Once the meat is cooked through, mix in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes.
3. Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water, and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit if it is still too thin.
4. Toss in the dried cilantro right before serving for some added color and flavor. Serve with a green salad.