My little baker helping to add the chocolate chips.....

....or eat the chocolate chips!

Not sure if you've heard of "puffins" yet. They are basically a pancake baked as a muffin. Sometimes you just want a delicious muffin but don't have the mix to make it with...enter the Puffin. They are great for dunking in syrup like a pancake or just eating straight from the muffin tin! As you can see, this is also a kid approved meal. I would like to try them plain or with fruit in them instead of chocolate chips next time. 

Source: Adapted from multiple Pinterest pins

Pancake mix
Chocolate chips

1. Make pancake mix according to package directions (mine just calls to add water). 

2. Put cupcake liners into a muffin tin and fill 3/4 full with pancake mix.

3. bake at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes or until done. If using a mini-muffin tin then I'd bake at 8-9 minutes or until done.


Cherry Chocolate Cake

Looking for an easy dessert?! Look no further my friends! This cherry chocolate cake is just a few ingredients turned into a moist and delicious cake dotted throughout with delicious cherries. When I went to college my mom put a handful of my favorite recipes into a small recipe book and this was one of those recipes. This recipe is perfect for a few reasons:
  1. It has very few ingredients
  2. It is moist and delicious
  3. It is cheap to make
Not everyone loves fruit and chocolate mixed together like this but if you do, this cake will NOT disappoint. I like to dust it with powdered sugar instead of spread a thick frosting on it. Sometimes I'll mix powdered sugar, milk, and a little vanilla extract and drizzle that frosting over the top. You see, for being a chocolate cake it is actually very light and moist and a heavy frosting might be too much. If you do try a heavier frosting (store bought, buttercream, cream cheese frosting, etc) let me know what you think because I don't know if I would ever change up such a perfect dessert!

Cherry Chocolate Cake
Source: My Mama

1 box chocolate cake mix (I like milk chocolate or devil's food)
1 can cherry pie filling
Powdered sugar or other frosting of choice

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish.

2. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cool.

3. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top and serve!


Christmas 2012

NOTE: I started this post back in January and am just not getting around to posting. Can you say LAZY!!

I realize I am a bit late on getting this posted. I am going with the excuse that January is my busiest month of the year and I'm exhausted 99.8% of the time and knew this post would be a bigger undertaking. As Christmas tradition in our household goes, on Christmas day we basically put out some appetizers and just eat all day. Not a bad tradition if I may say! We typically stick to the usuals, velveeta dip, salsa/cream cheese dip, black olive dip, cold shrimp and cocktail sauce, taco dip (anyone sense this "dip" theme here), meatballs, little wienies, and our baked pumpernickel breads. This year we shook it up and made less food (boo) and different foods (yay)! Here is the lineup:

Cranberry Salsa over Cream Cheese

Oreo Truffles

Vegetable Pizza

Potato Skins

And a few traditional snacks: Meatballs, Mini Wienies, and Velveeta Dip

Homemade Spinach Gnocchi

The sad truth to this post is that I have no clue how to make gnocchi. This was just such a delicious dish that I HAD to show off. My brother made this yummy spinach gnocchi for us when my mom and sister came to visit. This is a spinach gnocchi with a shallot and tomato light cream sauce. DIVINE! I think the sauce was so tasty we literally took spoonfuls after all the gnocchi was gone. I'll try to wrangle up the recipe and post it on here sometime. If you are not a gnocchi fan, you need to make (or have someone make for you) homemade gnocchi, it really is delicious!! Thanks Biggies!

The final product was a perfectly cooked pork tenderloin, roasted asparagus, and spinach gnocchi in a light tomato cream sauce. Pure. Heaven.


Roasted Veggie Wraps with Goat Cheese Spread

The players aka what's inside
 While it may still feel like winter here in Wisconsin, I know that swimsuit season is fast approaching. On April 1st I started a DietBet on DietBet.com. Basically every person that joins the DietBet game contributes $X and whoever loses 4% of their body weight in 4 weeks splits the pot. I'm about 60% of the way there and have about 10 days left. That said...I've been forced to eat healthy (and by forced I mean I'm too damn stubborn to lose even $1 in a bet)!

I've been trying to keep my meals healthy and still full of flavor. I used to always think that if I needed to eat healthy it had to be bland chicken and a boring vegetable side dish. I've found some great recipes these past few weeks and think I'm going to try to keep a lot of these dishes in the rotation because they are so yummy!

And here's where the veggie wrap idea came into play. I have a lot of work lunches I go to and always look for a healthy wrap and have been eating a lot of roasted vegetable wraps. I decided that I could do it myself and do it better than anywhere else I've eaten....and I did!! This was fabulous!! It was refreshing and light and yet I still felt full after dinner. I did this as a "Meatless Monday" dish however you can add chicken or beef in the wrap or another meat on the side and it would be fantastic. I had one for lunch yesterday and I plan to eat another one for lunch today. I think it also totals to right around 400 calories for the whole wrap and I typically estimate high on the calorie count! So make it and enjoy some delicious food while being healthy!


Roasted Veggie Wraps with Goat Cheese
Source: All me!

1 zucchini, chopped into thirds and sliced
1 yellow squash, chopped into thirds and sliced
1/2 pint mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
spring mix lettuce blend
1/3 cup shredded carrots
2.5 oz goat cheese, room temperature
2-3 tbsp plain Greek yogurt (I probably did 3)
3 spinach tortilla wraps
balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
salt, pepper, and EVOO

1. Place zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, and red pepper on a foil lined baking sheet. Pour some EVOO on top of veggies and mix so that they are lightly coated. Sprinkle salt and pepper (and any other seasonings you like) on top. Roast for about 20 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees, turning once or twice during cooking time. Side note: depending on how hot your oven cooks and how close to the top of the oven, it may require more or less cooking time. When done, pull out and let cool for about 5-10 minutes so the veggies are room temperature (I set my whole baking sheet outside since it was cold outside and it cooled down pretty quick).

2. While veggies are roasting, mix a couple of handfuls of the spring mix with the shredded carrots in a bowl. Add some balsamic vinaigrette and toss to coat.

3. Mix the goat cheese with the Greek yogurt until thoroughly incorporated. This makes a nice, creamy, and tangy spread.

4. Lay out 3 tortillas and spread with the goat cheese mixture. I spread the mixture all around the tortilla because I truly hate when I don't get to taste the spread in every bite. Next add some of the salad mixture in the middle of the wrap. Then layer your roasted veggies on top of the salad mixture. Cut and serve!


Reece's Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

Don't you want to lick the screen?!

For how much I love cupcakes you'd think I'd post more pictures of them, right?! Unfotunately, I love them SO much I usually eat them before I can get a good picture. I'm pretty boring when it comes to making cupcakes. I'll make a chocolate cake (from a box) with my basic vanilla buttercream frosting. Last fall I wanted to treat some very special ladies I work with and thank them with cupcakes for all the hard work they do for me and my colleagues. I ventured out of my comfort zone and made Reece's Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes. WOWZA! These.were.awesome!!!!

Since I am a lazy baker I always use a box cake mix...not to mention they always turn out moist and perfect! And let's be honest, the cake is really just a means to eat frosting anyways! I do spend the time making a homemade buttercream that will knock your socks off. Seriously, the buttercream is the star of this cupcake, hands down! Make these and then you can tell me how amazing this buttercream is!! No lie, I don't even like peanut butter buttercream and I pipe any remaining frosting right into my mouth with these puppies!

Reece's Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes
Source: Me

1 box chocolate cake mix (and all ingredients needed to make the box cake mix)
1 bag of miniature Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, unwrapped

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
1 tbsp merengue powder
1 tbsp peanut butter extract
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (maybe a little more depending on flavor and color)
2-4 tbsp milk

1. Bake cake according to box directions. After 5 minutes of baking, drop a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup into the center of the cupcake. Let cool completely.

2. Put butter in a bowl and mix with a mixer or stand mixer (my KitchenAid is awesome for buttercreams). Beat butter until creamy. Add the peanut butter and cream together.

3. Add 2 cups of the confectioners sugar and the merengue powder and mix until incorporated. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until completely incorporated again.

4. Add the peanut butter extract and 2 tbsp of milk. I usually taste it and will either add more peanut butter or more peanut butter extract to get the flavor where I want it. I'll also add more milk if I want a creamier buttercream.

5. Chop about 5-8 mini peanut butter cups into small pieces. Frost cupcakes with buttercream. I pipe my frosting using a large star tip (I don't know what the number is). After I frost about 5-6 cupcakes I'll sprinkle some chopped peanut butter cups on top so that the frosting is still soft enough to grab hold to the candy.

Serve and enjoy!!!


Stuffed Peppers

As 2013 hit, Kurt and I decided we really want to start taking better care of ourselves. As you can see from the blog, I'm a BIG fan of comfort food (like, big big BIG fan). Unfortunately for our waistline, comfort food is not very healthy and does not aid in staying in shape. I've made a big push lately to eat healthier foods and try to use fresh ingredients.

I first saw this stuffed pepper idea pop up all over my online mom's group, like, everyone was making them! Then I saw them all over Pinterest and then my co-worker brought them in for lunch....I think you get the idea. They are everywhere and now I understand why! Stuffed peppers are delicious! After making them once, I keep thinking of new things to stuff them with. This recipe is sort of an "eyeball" type recipe as I didn't really have specific measurements so I more or less just eyeballed the ingredients.

Stuffed Peppers
Source: Adapted from Rachel, a mom friend of mine

5-7 peppers for stuffing (try to find ones with flatter bottoms)
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup white rice
1 can diced tomatoes (I used diced tomatoes with garlic and sweet onion)
1/2-1 onion, chopped
1 small jar your favorite spaghetti sauce (I used Newman's Own Sockarooni)
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Any add-ins you'd like

1. Cook the rice. While rice is cooking brown the ground beef and saute the onions in EVOO. 

2. When everything is cooked, mix the beef, onions, rice, and the canned tomatoes in a large bowl. Add about 1/3 of the jar of spaghetti sauce to coat the mixture.

3. Cut the tops off of the peppers and clean out the insides. I used a paring knife to cut away the membranes or used my fingers to pull them out. Stuff the peppers with the meat/rice mixture and place them in a baking dish (I used an 8x8 baking dish but you can use whatever works for you).

4. Pour the remaining spaghetti sauce over the peppers and in the bottom of the baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes add some mozzarella to the top and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until peppers are soft.

**We like our peppers with a little crunch. For softer peppers I've heard of people cutting the peppers length-wise b/c more of the pepper cooks in the sauce. I've also heard of people roasting their peppers for a little bit first.


Amped Up Goat Cheese & Asparagus Pizza

My best friend Suki lives in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area in Minnesota. One glorious weekend I was able to get away, sans husband and child, and pay a visit to said BFF. It was glorious!! We went out to eat at nice restaurants, we slept in (me only until 8am of course), leisurely got ready, and even went dancing! Not to mention it was my bestie's 30th birthday!!!

As we were lounging in our pj's on Saturday we wanted to make a yummy but healthy and not too heavy lunch. Suki had suggested this Goat Cheese and Asparagus Pizza and I jumped on the chance to eat it! We ran to the grocery store and got the few ingredients needed to make the yummy pizza. We basically watched it bake and as soon as that timer went off we cut it and dove in. Unfortunately I think that meant we burnt our tongues but well worth it.

I've taken the original recipe and added a few things to up the veggie count and make it more filling. I also added a little mozzarella on top to up the cheese factor (I am a Wisconsin girl after all)! This was delicious!! Honestly, the tangy white sauce, the crisp and fresh asparagus, the woodsy mushrooms, and the sweet onions are SUCH a great combination. I would give this a 9.7 out of 10. The next time I make it I am going to add some cooked and crumbled bacon and it will be a 10 for sure! I think if you want a quick and fresh pizza, definitely just make the original Goat Cheese and Asparagus pizza. If you want to make it more of a dinner and add some extra ingredients, go with my edited version. As usual, I'd love to hear how it turned out for you and if you made any substitutions that turned out delicioso!!!

Can you say YUM-O?!!!
Amped Up Goat Cheese & Asparagus Pizza

flour for work surface
1 or 2 pre-made thin pizza crusts
4 ounces goat cheese (although more is always good too)
4 ounces sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (I didn't have fresh so I used about 1 tsp. dried)
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pint sliced mushrooms, baby bellas if possible
1 small sweet onion, chopped
bacon (optional)
1/4 cup white wine
kosher salt and black pepper

1. Heat oven to 425°F, or as directed on pizza crust.

2. Add EVOO to a pan and saute the onions so they start to sweat. As they are close to becoming translucent, add the white wine finish cooking until the wine has been absorbed/cooked off.

3. While cooking the vegetables, in a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, sour cream, salt & pepper, and thyme. Spread over the dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border.

3.Top with the asparagus, mushrooms, and onions (and bacon bits).

4.Bake until golden and crisp around the edges, around 15-20 minutes.



Copycat Olive Garden's Pasta Fagioli Soup

This has to be my favorite soup at Olive Garden, hands down. As an avid Pinterest user, I saw this on Pinterest as a crockpot soup and knew it was going in the rotation. I was able to put everything in the crockpot before I left for work and by the time we got home, I just threw the (store bought) breadsticks in the oven and 15 minutes later we were eating a healthy and DELICIOUS meal! If you like soup and crockpot cooking, MAKE THIS!

Just an FYI, make sure you have a big crockpot because this make a lot of soup! I even froze half of it for another day (again, even awesomer b/c then I've got another meal made for a few weeks later with only half the work)! Also, I couldn't find ditalini pasta at the grocery store so I bought these pipette ones, I'd suggest regular macaroni if you can't find ditalini. The pipette got too big when cooked so any small pasta will work well.

Source: Favorite Familiy Recipes via Pinterest

2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots,  (I used a couple handfuls of shredded bagged carrots)
1 c. celery, chopped
2 (28 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (16 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained
1 (16 oz.) can white kidney beans, drained
4 cups beef stock
3 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. pepper
5 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. tabasco sauce
1 (20 oz.) jar Prego traditional spaghetti sauce
8 oz. pasta (I like using ditali pasta)

1. Brown ground beef in large skillet. Drain fat.

2. Add beef and all ingredients except the pasta into a large crock pot. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

3. Before serving, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and add to soup.