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.

Copy Cat Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies

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.

CopyCat Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies 3

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.

Cosmic. Brownies.

CopyCat Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies 2

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

CopyCat Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies

For the Brownies
3/4 cup butter (1½ Sticks)
2 eggs
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

Directions

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!

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!

Copy Cat Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches

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???

 Copy Cat Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches

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

Copy Cat Chick-Fil-A sandwiches 2

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (we get 3 patties er breast)
1/4 cup dill pickle juice
1 egg
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’

Directions

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.

Frozen Hot Chocolate

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

 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

Directions

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.

Creamy Taco Pasta

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

4 Sons 'R' Us: 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

Directions

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.

 

 

DIY Boutique Style Hair Ties

In the past year I’ve seen fold over elastic hair ties for sale everywhere. Tons of Etsy shops, even larger, commercial retailers like Anthropologie are carrying them. When I first saw them in the store I had a moment. A serious, “Where have you been all my life?!’ moment. Then BOOM, I noticed the price tag they were toting. $12 for a set of 5. However, after looking at them (okay, okay…it was more like coveting) and their simplicity, I knew I could make my own. For pennies. A year later, I’m still in love with these bad boys. And I’m here today to share the love with you!

The Sunshine Shoppe has a great selection of fold over and regular elastic in a variety of colors (even glittery elastic! and let’s be honest, are you ever really too old for glittery accessories?) and they’re prices are great! Less than 50 cents a yard? Yes! The amount of hair ties a yard of elastic makes looks like a lifetime supply. Plenty to share with your children or your friends. Seriously, share the love. I used to use store-bought hair ties and even the ones without the metal bands still manage to catch and pull my hair. I haven’t lost a single hair, or shed a tear, with these wonderful homemade hair ties. Love them. A LOT. And I guarantee you will too.

These adorable ties are so easy to make and you don’t have to panic if you lose one. You can just cut out another. Hair ties. For pennies. Genius!

DIY Boutique Style Hair Ties

4 Sons 'R' Us: DIY Boutique Style Hair Ties

  • elastic, I used 5/8 fold over elastic and 3/8 regular elastic
  • scissors

Directions

  1. Begin by creating a ‘template’ piece of elastic. To do this, gently wrap the elastic around your wrist. You want it to fit just like a regular spare hair tie would. When you’ve gotten the length right, cut the elastic.
  2. Using your template piece as a pattern, cut out the desired number of elastic strips.
  3. To form the hair tie, knot the two ends together and pull tight.
  4. Finish off the ends of the hair ties by cutting them at a diagonal or with two points

4 Sons 'R' Us: DIY Boutique Style HairTies

Thank you to 2 sisters, 2 cities for introducing me to The Sunshine Shoppe!

Copy-Cat Wendy’s Frosty

I scream. You scream. We all scream for Ice Cream! Well, in this case, for Frostys!

My guys all go absolutely ga-ga for the cold, creamy concoction. Just mention it around them and their eyes glaze over. The excitement is just too much for them to handle. It overrides all higher functioning brain activity. They’re like little ice cream zombies at that point. Instead of watching them aimlessly shuffle around, waiting for their dessert but not knowing what to do, or how to function until they get it, I get them involved in the process.

All ice-cream induced zombie-ism aside, we don’t use an actual ice cream ‘machine’. Instead I prefer using our ice cream ‘ball’. You can find them here. Amazon carries them in a variety of colors and sizes. I use the quart sized one to make enough for our entire family at once.

This is what my boys do for fun on a Friday night. I enjoy it because it gets them working together: laughing, joking, and playing. At the end of their teamwork? A sweet treat to share and enjoy. You’ve gotta love the little things in life.

Speaking of it being a Friday night, did I mention that I’m really not trying to drag all four kids out into a fast food line? Or even a grocery store check out line? Friday is for peace & quiet. For Mommy. I think I’ve earned a little time to relax by Friday night. Making  our own Frostys at home helps buy some extra little moments for me, and the zombies still get dessert. It’s a win-win, right?!

Copy-Cat Wendy’s Frosty

4 Sons 'R' Us: Copy-Cat Wendy's Frosty

  • 1/2 gallon chocolate milk
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tub of cool whip, 8 oz

Directions

  1. In a blender combine all ingredients.
  2. Pour into ice cream maker, and follow the machine’s instructions.
  3. Enjoy!

Copy-Cat ‘Frosty Paws’ Frozen Dog Treats

On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than a nice cold and frosty treat to help keep cool. Think of a glass of ice-cold lemonade, or a frosty popsicle fresh from the freezer. While we all have our own favorites and readily use them as part of our summer arsenal to stop the heat’s oppressive assault, pets are often left out of this kind of treat. ‘Frosty Paws’ offer an ‘ice cream’ type treat for your K-9 friend that’s perfectly safe for their consumption. However, even though our Bentley is very near and dear to my heart, I couldn’t bring myself to continue to pay the high costs just for a bag of frozen dog treats, especially when I read the ingredient list and realized how simple it would be to make my own. It was simple, easy peasy. Now Bentley is happy, healthy, and not nearly as hot after a romp outside. These are really versatile as well, and easily adaptable. While the recipe I’ve given you today is how I make them most often. I have made these with finely ground chicken & chicken broth, and I’ve also included pulverized egg shells as a calcium supplement with great success.

Copy-Cat ‘Frosty Paws’ Frozen Dog Treats

4 Sons 'R' Us: copy cat frosty paws

  •  32 oz yogurt (I’ve used plain, strawberry, and vanilla before)
  • 1 mashed ripe banana, or 1 babyfood jar of fruit
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ice cube tray

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a mixer or a blender until evenly combined. 
  2. Spoon the batter into the ice cube trays.
  3. Freeze.
  4. Pop out and store in a zip locking bag in your freezer.
  5. Give your fur-baby a treat!