Monday, July 21, 2014

Apple Butter Grilled Cheese

Yep, I spread apple butter on my grilled cheese sandwich, and it was good. I was looking for a sandwich idea for dinner, and found a couple different GC with apple butter and we gave it a try. It's very sweet, but the arugula balances it out. I found that my children don't have quite a refined enough palate for arugula (defined as a spicy and bold green), so if you're not up for that, you could use baby spinach. :) I used deli turkey, cheddar, and sliced Granny Smith apples (the tartness is also good contrast). It's quite a different tasting sandwich, but I really loved it. 

Apple Butter Grilled Cheese
 ¼ cup arugula
Dash of apple cider vinegar
2 slices bread
Apple butter
Thinly sliced Granny Smith apple
Sliced deli turkey lunchmeat
Sliced cheddar cheese
1 TBSP butter or margarine for grilling

1. Preheat skillet or panini press to medium heat. (I used my George Forman Grill)
2. In a small bowl, toss arugula with a dash of apple cider vinegar.
3. Spread apple butter on one side of each piece of bread. Top an apple butter side of bread with arugula, apple slices, followed by cheese, then turkey. Place the other piece of bread on top, apple butter side down and press. Spread butter on outside of bread slices.
4. Cook in the pan for 2 minutes on each side, or until browned and cheese is melted.

Makes 1 sandwich

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chewy Granola Bars

These are THE best snack for summer! No baking required and you can make them so many different ways! They taste much better than store bought and are soft and chewy. I have made them 4 times in the last few weeks. The first batch I made didn't stick together very well. I figured out that you really have to press them FIRMLY into the pan to make them stick. Also, make sure to store them in the fridge. I tried chocolate chip, mini M&M and coconut, and raisin with 1/2 tsp of cinnamon added. I used flax meal in some and wheat germ in others, and both were great. The chocolate must be sprinkled on the top because if it is stirred in, it will melt. But if substituting the the chocolate and/or almonds for coconut, raisins, or other dried fruit, mix them in with the dry ingredients. If you throw in too many extras, the bars will be dry and not stick together, so don't add more than 1 cup total. The original recipe uses dark brown sugar, but I like light brown sugar instead. 

Chewy Granola Bars
adapted from
6 TBSPs butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 TBSPs honey
1 1/2 tsps vanilla
Heaping 1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 3/4 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1/4 cup flax meal or wheat germ
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray the foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a large pot, combine the butter, brown sugar and honey. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and simmer until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.
3. Add the oats, rice cereal, almonds and flax meal (or wheat germ) to the pan and fold with a rubber spatula until well combined.
4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press down lightly with a rubber spatula to even out. Let cool about 5 minutes (so chocolate doesn't melt) then sprinkle the miniature chocolate chips over top, and press down FIRMLY with the spatula so the chips stick. The mixture should be tightly compacted in the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 1 1/2 - 2 hours to cool.
5. Use the foil overhang to transfer the uncut bars to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut into rectangles. Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you have to stack them, use parchment paper or foil in between the layers, so they don't stick together.

Makes 20 bars


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fudge Brownie Muffins

I've already posted the cheesecake version of these muffins here, but they deserve their own post! These are basically a brownie in a cupcake paper, but not as fudgy as my regular brownie recipe. The addition of cinnamon makes them extra special.

Fudge Brownie Muffins
1 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with liners and lightly spray them with non stick cooking spray.
2. Place butter and cocoa in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high 1 minute for until butter melts; set aside.
3. Combine 4 eggs, 2 cups sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the butter and chocolate mixture, flour, cinnamon, salt, and mini chocolate chips. Stir until blended.
4. Using a large scoop, fill muffin cups with brownie batter. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely.
Makes 24 muffins.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

It's starting to get warm! We've already had a few days in the 70s, and if I use my oven on those days, we bake too! I found another great summer main dish salad that we really enjoyed. This is a spin on a chicken Caesar salad with the addition of pasta and cheese to make it a meal. To really keep the heat out of your house, you could even grill the chicken outside. If you are feeling extra healthy add some veggies like cucumber or tomato.

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
adapted from yoga chef
1/2 cup plus 2 TBSPs Caesar salad dressing, divided (we like Kraft)
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (shredding a brick is best)
6 oz penne pasta, cooked, rinsed with cold water, and drained
3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 cup croutons
Pepper to taste

1. Brush the 2 TBSPs of dressing onto both sides of the chicken breasts. Cook in a skillet or grill pan over medium heat for 4-5 minutes per side or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Remove from pan and let cool 15 minutes. Cut into chunks.
2. Combine cheeses in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Combine pasta and remaining 1/2 cup Caesar dressing in a large bowl. Add chicken and 1 1/2 cups of cheese mixture; toss well. Add lettuce, toss, and transfer to serving plates. Top with remaining cheese, croutons, and pepper.

Serves 6

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rice Krispie Treats

I had to add this recipe to my blog because it's definitely considered a staple. These are so easy to make and cheap too! You can turn them into festive treats for any occasion by adding food coloring, sprinkles, even dipping them in many possibilities!

Rice Krispie Treats
3 TBSPs butter
1 pkg (10 oz.) mini marshmallows
6 cups rice krispies

1. Prepare a 9x13in pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Also spray a spatula.
2. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
3. Add rice krispies. Stir until well coated.
4. Using spatula evenly press mixture into prepared pan. Cool. Cut into squares.

Best if served the same day.
Store no more than two days at room temperature in airtight container.
To freeze, place in layers separated by wax paper in airtight container. Freeze for up to 6 weeks. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, May 19, 2014


I don't use ricotta in nearly enough recipes, but there's plenty in this one. :) I'm all about easy, so I make my dough in my bread machine on the dough cycle. The filling is lots of cheese and whatever toppings you like. We use ham and pineapple, pepperoni, olives, spinach, chicken, tomatoes, things we normally like on pizza. Dip in marinara or spaghetti sauce. Add a little crushed red pepper if you are brave.

adapted from
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 TBSPs white sugar
1 TBSP powdered milk
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsps instant yeast or bread machine yeast

1 15oz. container ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
Pizza toppings
Melted butter
Marinara sauce for dipping

1. To Make Dough: Place water, sugar, powdered milk, flour, salt, and yeast in the pan of the bread machine, in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select Dough cycle.
2. After cycle is completed, remove dough from pan, divide into 4 equal parts, roll into balls, and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, egg, and salt. Mix well. Add desired toppings and stir until combined (I use around 1 1/2 cups total of toppings).
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each dough ball into a 10 inch circle. Transfer each dough round onto lightly greased cookie sheets (I fit 2 per cookie sheet)
5. Spoon cheese mixture onto half of each dough round. Pull other half of dough up and over the filling. Seal edges with fork, or pinch closed. Cut small slits on top of calzone and brush with melted butter.
6. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. If using two pans, rotate halfway through baking. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.
Makes 4 large calzones.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Neapolitan Cupcakes

I have an 11 year old! Teen years are approaching...aaaaah! These are her birthday cupcakes. I asked her what she wanted and she couldn't come up with anything (that we agreed on), so I told her I'd just figure something out. :) I used my Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes recipe, divided the batter up and added cocoa powder and strawberry jam to make the 3 flavors. I did the same thing with the frosting, made butter cream, divided it into 3 and added the flavors. I loved how they turned out! Just frosting recipe makes a lot because I like to heap on the frosting. :)

Neapolitan Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 TBSPs cocoa powder
2 TBSPs strawberry jam

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
4. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk and vanilla; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
5. Divide batter into thirds. Stir cocoa powder into one of the thirds. Stir jam into another.
6. Scoop about 1 TBSP of each of the 3 flavors of batter and drop into prepared muffin cups. Using a toothpick, swirl the batter in the muffin cups.
7. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing. Makes 12 cupcakes

Neapolitan Frosting
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
6-7 cups powdered sugar
2 TBSPs milk
2 TBSPs cocoa powder
1 TBSP strawberry jam

1. Beat butter and shortening until light and fluffy; 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and mix until smooth.
2. Gradually add powdered sugar, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
3. Add milk to reach desired consistency, scraping down sides of bowl.
4. Mix on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes.
5. Separate frosting evenly into 3 bowls. Add cocoa powder to one bowl and jam to another. Stir until combined.
6. Pipe onto cupcakes.

 Batter Divided