Heart-y chocolate dipped peanut butter cookies (3 ingredients!)

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

I love it when a shortcut plan comes together. I had some leftover Pillsbury peanut butter dough in the fridge and saw that ALL OF PINTEREST was shaping their peanut butter dough into hearts. It looked super easy and (gasp) it actually was! The cookies looked a little naked and I’m a sucker for the pb/chocolate combo, so I went for it by dipping them and topping it off with a little sprinkle of, well, sprinkles.

The end result? These do not look like a shortcut recipe. They’re super cute! And they really are delicious. I really wanted one for dessert last night and there wasn’t even a crumb left. (I need to start hiding my cookies.)

I snapped some quick pics with my iPhone so you can see how to shape them into hearts and made a little tutorial below. So easy. Take some help from the store and make these!

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

Heart-y Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies
If you can’t find the Ghiradelli melting wafers in your baking section, you can just melt semisweet or bittersweet baking chocolate with 2 tbsp. of butter.

1 roll Pillsbury peanut butter cookie dough
1 pkg (10 oz) Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Melting Wafers
Sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with silpat liners or parchment paper.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls (small cookies) or 2-inch balls (large cookies).

To make the top of the heart use a butter knife or the handle of fork to cut into the top center of dough. Press it outwards to the right & left to make the “V” shape.

Use your thumb & index finger to pinch the bottom of the dough to make the bottom “V” shape of the heart. You can use your hands to perfect the heart shape if needed.

Take a fork & press the dough down on each side making a criss-cross on the heart.

Bake for 8-9 minutes (small cookies) or 10-12 minutes (big cookies). Be careful not to over bake them or your cookies will turn out hard.

Melt Ghiradelli wafers according to package directions. Dip cookies and shake sprinkles over immediately. Let chocolate harden. Enjoy!

COPYCAT: Starbucks vanilla bean Frappuccino

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

Earlier this week I confessed that my kids are in love with Starbucks hot chocolate. While I’m confessing my sins, I should also tell you they routinely trade in the “hot” for the only other item they’re allowed — the cool, creamy vanilla bean frappucino. This is the only non-coffee frap on the menu (I think?) so it’s really their only other option. And let me tell you, they LOVE this drink more than life itself.

I knew I could recreate this drink at home, but I had to try a few times because the Starbucks gal told me they have a “proprietary” vanilla bean powder they use in the store. Hmph. Since I’m not privy to the powder, I finally settled on using vanilla bean ice cream (I like Breyer’s) which gave it the right flavor.

This is the treat my daughter requests at all her sleepovers. Our nice Starbucks gal will often give us a few extra cups and we’ll stockpile them and serve the homemade treat in the Starbucks cups for maximum effect. The girls love it!

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

1 cup small ice cubes
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups canilla bean ice Cream
1 teaspoon sugar.
1/8 tsp vanilla extract.
Whipped Cream (optional)

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Makes 1 large frappuccino.

Adorable bee valentines to make with your kids

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

One of our favorite Valentine’s Day books is My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall. It’s such a creative book, filled with whimsical animals that are entirely made of heart shapes (the crab is hilarious. But then, so is the seal…and the walrus…and…) Definitely worth snuggling up under a warm blanket with the kids to read this Valentine’s Day.

This card was inspired by the book…and the fact that bees just lend themselves to Valentine’s Day puns.

The bee is a bunch of heart shapes — most are even the same size so you can layer several pieces of paper on top of each other and cut them all out at once. And I realized while I was making these that I learned in the first grade to make hearts by folding a paper in half and drawing half a heart on it, then cutting…and it still remains the best way to make hearts that I know.

Supplies:

  • construction paper (black, white, and yellow)
  • cardstock
  • gel or other decorative pens
  • embroidery thread and needle
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • glue

Instructions:

Fold cardstock in half.

Cut three equal-sized hearts out of construction paper — one black, one white, and one yellow. Cut two smaller hearts out of the black paper for feet, and a small circle of yellow for the eye.

Take the yellow heart and cut into stripes. Glue the yellow stripes to the top half of the black heart. Glue the white heart over the top to make the bee’s wings. I outlined the wings so they’d show up better in this picture, but you shouldn’t need to do that. Glue the eye on the front, and the feet underneath. Glue your bee to the front of the cardstock.

To embroider the bee’s flight path, draw the path lightly on your card in pencil. Poke holes in the pencil drawing you just made, then tape your thread to the back of the picture, and sew through the holes (I love the way embroidered cards look! You can get more details here on how to make them if you want to try a few more.)

Use gel pens to write your message on the front (might I suggest, “Bee mine, Valentine?” It’s an oldie but a goodie).

That’s it! Hand them out to friends or family (but for heaven’s sake, don’t think you’re making these for the entire second grade or anything — we limit handmade cards to grandparents, siblings, and parents.) Or pop one in your child’s lunchbox for a fun surprise.

For more fun Valentine’s Day ideas, try one of these:

-Secret Message Valentine Cards

-A fun, simple Valentine lunch idea

-Valentine trail mix

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

Photo credits: Laura Falin

Baby it’s cold outside! Try this Nutella hot chocolate

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

Someone who shall remain nameless grandma, introduced my kids to Starbucks hot chocolate. Otherwise known as kiddie crack. My kids think they’re super special going through the drive-thru, getting their own special cup with a lid, and walking around like a grown-up with a Starbucks cup. Also, the taste. Starbucks hot chocolate, especially the peppermint kind, is really delicious.

But, it adds up when your kids want it every single day. So as I sat in the mile-long drive thru line I wondered what I could do to make hot chocolate as special and fancy at home. Merely trying to copy Starbucks wouldn’t do the trick because it can’t be done. But taking it up a notch with something special, something different, might elevate the at-home version.

My secret ingredient? Nutella.

For kids or grown-ups alike, this stuff is such a delicious treat. It’s rich, creamy and filled with chocolate hazelnut richness. All I had to do was set out the Nutella can next to it and my kids were like WHAT IS THAT??? CAN I HAVE SOME?

Boom. Take that Starbucks. 😉

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

NUTELLA HOT CHOCOLATE

1 cup milk (I use 2% or whole)
2 1/2 Tbsp Nutella
1 Tbsp Cocoa
Tiny pinch of salt

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, whisk all ingredients together until well blended and hot.
Pour in a cup and top with homemade whipped cream and chocolate chips.

Makes 1 serving.

Chicken Fried Rice

by

Kami Bigler

posted in Life & Home

One of my favorite things to order when eatting out is fried rice. I love that it’s a whole dinner – meat, veggies and rice – all in one dish. When I learned how to make it at home I was so thrilled.

This is such a simple and quick recipe. It’s a perfect recipe if you’ve got some leftover chicken breasts, or you’re short on time when you need to get dinner ready. However, you’ll love it so much you’ll want to have it all the time. You probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now.

chicken-fried-rice-recipe-NoBiggie.net_

Ingredients
1 to 2 Chicken breasts or from a Rotisserie Chicken
3 Scrambled eggs
2 Carrots (finely grated)
½ White onion (finely chopped)
¾ cup Frozen peas
½ cup Butter
1 to 2 Garlic cloves (Crushed) or 1 teaspoon of garlic Powder
2 cups White rice (not instant)

Instructions
1. Marinate chicken in soy sauce, if you do not have much time, mix it with chicken before cooking
2. In a large frying pan Cook chicken in small amount of olive oil, add carrots and onions and sauté until clear
3. Add frozen peas and cook until soft.
4. In a separate pan cook rice then add to the mixture
5. In another pan, scramble three eggs, chop finely and add to mixture
6. Melt ½ cup butter, add crushed garlic cloves to butter, stir and add to mixture
7. Mix all together well, add soy sauce to taste and Enjoy.

Are you a fried rice fan?

*For more craft tutorials, great recipes, free printables, fun giveaways, and real life you can follow Kami at NoBiggie.net, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Ditch the mix: Easy one-bowl brownies

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

I am not a snobby baker; I will gladly use a boxed cake mix and doctor it up to make taste homemade. But I have to tell you, I really dislike boxed brownie mixes. I can taste the “chemical” right away and for some reason it’s so much more apparent than a cake mix. So I don’t even keep them in the pantry, which is no problem, because this recipe is just as easy.

But man, do these taste infinitely better than a mix. The brownies are nice and fudgy on the inside with a crackly top on the outside. You can throw some chocolate chips in the batter if you want to up the chocolate, but they are pretty perfect just the way they are.

And the best part? You don’t need a mixer and everything can be done in ONE bowl. Easy-peasy.

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

Easy One-Bowl Brownies
This recipe calls for superfine sugar, which sounds a little fussy. It really does help with the fudgy texture/crackly tops, but you don’t have to use it. I don’t buy it special; I just take regular sugar (same amount) and throw it in the blender for 20 seconds.

1/2 cup salted butter, melted
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/8 cup superfine sugar*
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover an 8-inch square pan with foil, leaving an overhang on two sides. Spray with cooking spray.

Whisk melted butter, oil and sugar together in a medium bowl. Whisk well for about a minute. Add the eggs and vanilla; whisk for an additional minute.

Add flour, cocoa powder and salt, gently stirring the dry ingredients through the wet, until JUST combined (do NOT overmix). Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the center of the brownies in the pan no longer jiggles and is just set to the touch (the brownies will keep baking in the hot pan out of the oven). If testing with a toothpick, the toothpick should come out dirty for fudge-textured brownies. DO NOT OVERBAKE.

Cool to room temperature before slicing into 12-16 brownies.

Easy minestrone soup

by

Kami Bigler

posted in Life & Home

You know what’s way harder than it should be…getting enough veggies into our diets on the regular. I always try to have a veggie side dish or something with every meal, but then the bargaining with the kids starts – “Do I have to eat ALL my corn?” or “How about I just eat 5 bites of broccoli because I’m only 5 years old?” BUT when the veggies are built into the meal, like with soup…it’s an automatic! They’ll just eat it with no question. This recipe for Minestrone soup is super easy and it will be your new go to.

Easy-Minestrone-Soup-NoBiggie.net_

Here’s a visual of everything you’ll need for this soup. I spy the ingredients of a “mirepoix”. Any day I get to use my one french culinary word from all those hours of FoodNetwork watching is a great day!

Ingredients-for-easy-Minestrone-Soup-NoBiggie.net_

Ingredients:

1½ tablespoons olive oil
1 small/medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
1-2 stalks celery, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 15-ounce cans white beans like Great Northern or Canalini
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
32 ounces vegetable broth (4 cups)
3 cups water
½ cup small shell pasta

Instructions:

1. On medium high heat add olive oil to coat bottom of pan. Toss in diced onions, carrot, and celery. Saute 4-5 minutes, until onions start to look translucent. Add the garlic and cook stirring until the garlic is fragrant.
2. Add the white beans, tomatoes, and seasonings and stir to combine. Add the broth and water and bring the soup to a simmer.
3. Cover and simmer on low for 20-25 minutes, until carrots and celery are tender. Add in the pasta and cook until the pasta is soft, 8-10 minutes. (Add additional vegetable broth or water if you feel you need it for preferred consistency.) Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Do your kids like veggie soups?

*For more craft tutorials, great recipes, free printables, fun giveaways, and real life you can follow Kami at NoBiggie.net, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Try this tasty healthy spinach pear salad

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

I feel like everyone I know is trying to eat healthy this month.

It’s a combination of New Year’s resolutions and possibly an overload of holiday treats last month…but this month I’m trying to eat more veggies and at some point I’m going to start running again. No, really. I am.

This salad is a great healthy recipe — and it’s chock full of vitamin C and other good things that help keep colds at bay and keep us going in these cold winter months. A green salad in the dark, bleak winter that reminds me beautiful things do grow somewhere in this world…just not here in the frozen tundra where I live.

It’s an easy recipe to throw together, and the pears and maple balsamic dressing give it some sweetness. And these are all fruits and vegetables that are in season right now — even my grocery store here in the arctic wilds of Colorado has them.

Spinach Pear Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 1 red pear, sliced
  • 1 c chopped pecans
  • 1/2 c feta cheese
  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 3 Tb maple syrup
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard

Instructions:

Toss spinach, pears, pecans, and cheese in a salad bowl. In a small bowl or jar with lid, combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, and mustard and mix well. Pour salad dressing over salad and toss. Serve.

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

Baked chicken tenders wtih creamy shells

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

We braced for an ice storm over the weekend that never came. It was comical really — school was cancelled for Friday even though we weren’t forecasted to get a single drop of precipitation. Temps were not below freezing. But someone, somewhere at the National Weather Service had issued a winter storm warning and, though none of the local weather forecasters agreed, school was cancelled. People freaked out and raided the grocery store. Milk and bread were sold out everywhere. It was NUTS!

I didn’t hoard the milk or bread, but I did get the ingredients to make this ice storm comfort food. And even though there wasn’t a smidge of ice, we inhaled this delicious dish. The chicken tenders are a healthier baked version, but with tons of flavor and a crisp golden crust. The shell pasta is slathered in a creamy, garlick-y alfredo with a secret ingredient — cream cheese! You don’t taste it, but it makes the sauce thick and rich.

File this away in your “comfort food” or “when there’s not really an ice storm ” folder, mmmkay?

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

Baked Chicken Tenders with Creamy Shells

Baked chicken tenders:
1 lb. chicken tenders, about six strips
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon parsley

Pasta:
1/2 pound pasta shells
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine melted butter and garlic powder in a shallow bowl. Combine bread crumbs, shredded parmesan cheese, oregano, and parsley in another bowl. Dip the chicken into the melted butter and then coat in the bread crumb mixture. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked throughout and no longer pink.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta shells until al dente. In a large saucepan cook the heavy cream and cream cheese together until smooth and cream cheese has melted. Add garlic powder, minced garlic, pepper, and salt. Lastly, whisk in the parmesan cheese. Continue to cook over medium heat until heated throughout. Add the cooked pasta shells and toss until coated.
Serve immediately with parmesan garlic chicken chopped on top. Garnish with fresh parsley./4

A chocolate chip cookie that won’t ruin your resolution

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

Most of you know baking is my first love. But I always get in trouble when I post decadent recipes in January because everyone is trying to be so healthy. I still eat sweets every day of the year, but mostly in moderation. (I say mostly because, you know, cookies.)

But if you want a little something sweet this month, but don’t want to break all the rules, these cookies are a nice middle ground. They do still have butter and sugar, but are balanced with a nice bit of whole grain that even out the equation. And they don’t taste whole grain-y or wheat-y, which is a major plus.

These have all the components of a good cookie — crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, laced with dark chocolate (or whatever kind you prefer) and the added subtle bonus of a nutty undertone from the wheat flour. These cookies are very good while still warm from the oven, but I find that you can taste the wheat more – in a good way – once they’ve cooled.

They mix up so quick and easy, you really have nothing to lose!

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Whole Wheat
The key is using WHITE whole wheat flour. The wheat still present but milled much finer so it doesn’t overpower the cookies. I linked to the one I buy from Walmart below, but you can find it almost anywhere.

3 cups white whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes for easier creaming
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped into 1/4- and 1/2-inch pieces, or bittersweet chips

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silpat.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, and whisk to blend.

Put the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, mix just until the butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl, and blend on low speed until the flour is just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the chocolate, and mix on low speed until evenly combined. (If you have no stand mixer, you can do all of this with handheld electric beaters and/or a large, sturdy spoon.) Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and then use your hands to turn and gently massage the dough, making sure all the flour is absorbed.

Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies are evenly browned. Transfer the cookies, still on parchment, to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

These cookies are very good while still warm from the oven, but I find that you can taste the wheat more – in a good way – once they’ve cooled.

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

Adapted from Orangette, who adapted from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce
ookies