Apr 18

Peeps Candy Bars

Just in time for Easter! This delicious dessert will satisfy even the non-Peeps lover like myself, thanks to the gooey chocolate base. I know some people go crazy over those cute little chicks/bunnies, but not me. I could keep a million of them in the house and keep walking by with no temptation. But this combo, well, that’s a different story…


So festive! And when I tell you they take about 20 minutes to make, I’m not kidding. Most of it is hands off time, too. The kids will go crazy over them…and I bet the adults will as well!


These can be made a few days ahead and kept on the counter, as long as they’re covered nice and tight. So, make them today and enjoy them on Sunday :) Or, make them after Easter with your leftover Peeps!

Peeps Candy Bars
adapted from The Domestic Rebel

1 box chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
20 Peeps
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup speckled jelly beans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Combine cake mix, eggs and oil. Spread evenly in pan (I used my hand since batter is pretty thick) and bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop up Peeps and set aside.

Remove cake from oven and add Peeps evenly over top. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove and immediately add chips and jelly beans. Let cool completely before cutting. Use a warm/damp knife to make it easier to cut through the marshmallow.

Posted in cake, candy, chocolate, dessert, Easter, make ahead, marshmallows | Leave a comment
Apr 17

Cuban Panini

This is sort of a recipe remake…I had a slight variation of this here on my blog as one of my first recipes. I recently made it again for dinner guests and remembered how amazing it was. I also took a much better picture, although the plate is bare, but we couldn’t wait any longer to sink our teeth into them!


I’m a huge fan of Cuban food and this sandwich is just as delicious as what you’d get at an authentic Cuban restaurant. The pork doesn’t even have to marinate – just give it a good rub and sear, and you’re all set.

Cuban Panini

swiss cheese
Cuban style pork (see recipe below)
chopped dill pickles

Slice the bread and put mustard on both sides. Add ham, cheese, pork and pickles. Close sandwich, lightly butter each side, and place on grill pan. Slowly close lid and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until bread has browned, cheese has melted and ingredients have combined.

Cuban Style Pork Tenderloin
adapted from Rachael Ray

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lime, zested
1 clementine, zested
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat tenderloin with oil. Combine onion, garlic, citrus zest, salt, and pepper and pat evenly onto the tenderloin.

Heat a large skillet. Sear tenderloin on all sides. Place in hot oven and roast for about 25 minutes. Remove and let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing. Slice thin for sandwiches, thicker if serving on its own.

Posted in cheese, garlic, grilling, main dishes, make ahead, pork, sandwiches, swiss | 2 Comments
Apr 14

Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa

The weather this weekend couldn’t have been more beautiful! Perfect temps, sunny skies, sleeping with the windows open…heavenly. So of course, the grill saw lots of action.


Super healthy and delicious. Great paired with grilled asparagus! The perfect meal when you know you want to have dessert :)

Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa
from A Girl & Her Food

2 salmon filets
salt and pepper
1 mango, peeled and diced
1/3 cup red onion, diced
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno pepper (less if you want less heat)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Preheat grill to medium high. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Use spatula to flip salmon once (around 3-5 minutes later, depending on size), being careful so it doesn’t break. Do not handle it too much as it is very delicate.

Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in bowl for the salsa. Season with salt and pepper.

Plate salmon and top with salsa. Serve immediately.

Posted in grilling, lime, low carb, main dishes, mango, salmon, seafood | Leave a comment
Apr 11

Easter Recipe Roundup

Are you still planning your Easter menu (like I am?) or maybe you haven’t even thought about it yet? Well, this post is for you. Whether it’s brunch or dinner you’re serving, here are some of my favorite recipes to help you decide.

Truffled Deviled Eggs

Sicilian Artichoke Pie

Ham and Egg Cups

Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Tortilla Espanola

Ricotta and Lemon Basil Pasta

Mustard Baked Ham

Shaved Asparagus Salad

Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes

Zucchini-Ricotta Fritters

Cannoli Cheesecake

Bunny Bark

Italian Knot Cookies

Posted in Easter, roundup | Leave a comment
Apr 7

Tropical Carrot Cake

This recipe is unfortunately another victim in the case of the missing pictures from my DSLR. But I just couldn’t skip it. It was THAT good.

Plus, I know ’tis the season for carrot cake. My mom’s recipe is the bomb, but I thought I’d try something new when my dad requested it for his birthday a few weeks ago. It was really, REALLY good. Wish I had a picture of a slice!

Instead, you’ll have to settle for a pic where you can barely see it. BUT, you get a glimpse of a lot of cute little faces :)


I went the 9×13 route this time around instead of a layer cake. I’m kind of glad I did, because the cake is pretty dense…not sure how easily the layers would have held up. No matter what, it’ll taste great, and in the end that’s all that really matters…

Tropical Carrot Cake
slightly adapted from The Baking Pan

1 cup raisins
2 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 cups grated carrots
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup walnuts, chopped
cream cheese frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan (or layer pans if you like).

Place raisins in a colander over boiling water to double boil for one minute. Thoroughly drain them, then place on paper towel to dry.

In a bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Mix together and set aside. In a mixing bowl, add eggs and beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes.

On same speed, slowly add sugar to eggs in a very slow steady stream, taking 3 to 4 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until eggs and sugar are fully incorporated. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly. Add the vanilla and then beat for another minute.

Reduce mixer speed to medium and slowly pour the oil into the batter in a slow steady stream. Beat for 1 minute longer. Reduce mixer speed to medium low, and blend in flour mixture all at once, mixing just until incorporated.

Remove bowl from mixer. Fold in drained raisins, carrots, drained pineapple, coconut, and nuts.

Spoon the batter into prepared pan and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Bake for 60-65 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

Posted in cake, cream cheese, dessert, family, nuts | Leave a comment
Mar 31

Slow Cooker Hawaiian Meatballs

Happy Monday! March is almost over and you’d never know it, judging by the weather we’ve been having. This week is supposed to turn around for us, and I’m REALLY hoping that’s the case! Bella is dying to get out on her new big girl bike, and I could definitely use more fresh air and sunshine.

In the meantime, we’ve continued our indoor entertaining. This one one of many apps I made last weekend for girls night in. What a huge hit! And it couldn’t be any easier to make.


I used the bite size meatballs from Trader Joe’s and they were delicious! You could make your own or even use turkey meatballs. And freeze whatever is leftover…IF there is anything leftover :)

Slow Cooker Hawaiian Meatballs
from Six Sisters’ Stuff

32 ounces frozen meatballs
1 (13.5 ounce) can unsweetened pineapple chunks, drained (reserve liquid)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Place meatballs in crockpot. Add pepper and pineapple chunks. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over meatballs. Cook on low for 3-4 hours until heated through.

Posted in appetizers, beef, crockpot, freezer friendly, make ahead, peppers | Leave a comment
Mar 27

Fudgy Brownies with Cookie Butter Frosting

I seriously want to cry. TONS of pictures from my DSLR are gone, and I have no idea how it happened. I cooked and baked my butt off this past few weeks and now I barely have anything to show for it :(

Luckily, I took a few pics with my phone, so at least I have something. Especially a pic of these…because I’d hate for you to miss out on how awesome these treats are.


These were a HUGE hit, both at home and at work! And having the rest of the jar in the pantry is proving to be very dangerous…

Fudgy Brownies with Cookie Butter Frosting
from Lauren’s Latest

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup AP flour

for the cookie butter frosting:
3 tablespoons softened butter
3 tablespoons cookie butter (I used Speculoos from Trader Joe’s – you can also use Biscoff)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon milk

mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×9 square pan with non stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a small pot, melt butter, chocolate chips and cocoa together over medium low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Stir in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Gently stir in all dry ingredients until just incorporated. Pour into prepared pan and bake 20-30 minutes or until just set. Set aside to cool.

Mix softened butter, cookie butter, vanilla and powdered sugar together until a thick paste forms. Add milk slowly while mixing to smooth out any lumps. Spread over brownies, cut into bars and serve. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips if desired.

Posted in bars, chocolate, cookies, dessert, QuickAndEasy, Trader Joe's | Leave a comment
Mar 24

Chicken Cacciatore

Dad’s birthday celebration was yesterday and this was his dinner request (dessert request coming later this week!), and it was a great one. This is a recipe remake – I tweaked it a bit from when I posted it a week after starting my blog. It was even more delicious, which I didn’t think was possible!


I used breasts and thighs…the more meat you use, the more of each other ingredient you should add. Exact measurements aren’t a must, just use your best judgment. Normally I serve it with polenta, but we filled up so much on appetizers that I skipped it this time.

It’s the perfect comforting meal, and great to serve when you have company since it can be made ahead and reheated, or left simmering on the stove!

Chicken Cacciatore
adapted from Giada DeLaurentis

4 chicken breasts with skin and backbone
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup AP flour
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large red bell peppers, sliced
2 onions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.

In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken doesn’t fit, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes, depending on cut and size.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil.  

Posted in chicken, Giada, Italian, main dishes, make ahead, peppers | Leave a comment
Mar 21

Italian Knot Cookies

Even though Easter is a month away, it’s never too early to start planning your menu. These cookies are usually part of the Italian Easter tradition, and they are DELICIOUS! This picture is actually from last year (I’m not baking THAT far in advance, haha, although you COULD freeze them un-iced for about a month!)…we’ll see if I decide to make them again this year, or try something else.


Or, I might make them tomorrow… ;)

Italian Knot Cookies
from Cooking with Nonna

for the cookies:
3/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups AP flour
6 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup warm water

for the icing:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon anise extract
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until combined. In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.

Change attachment on mixer to dough hook and add flour mixture. Mix. Add warm water until dough becomes smooth.

Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, then roll each ball into a 4 inch worm. Pair together and bring one end over the other, then underneath and through the middle, like a knot.

Place on baking sheets (16 cookies on each) and bake for 13-15 minutes. Let cool on racks before icing.

Mix all icing ingredients in a bowl. Dip each cookie into icing and let dry on wax paper. Add sprinkles of your choice.

Posted in cookies, dessert, Easter, freezer friendly, Italian, make ahead | Leave a comment
Mar 19

Blue Cheese & Spinach Meatloaf Muffins

Life’s been a little hectic lately, to say the least. I completely admit that I haven’t been cooking as much, and when I have, it’s been super simple dishes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I always like trying new recipes and challenging myself. I know it’s a rut I’ll get out of soon, and hopefully things will slow down a bit…

In the meantime, I’ve been cooking stuff that’s easy to freeze for those lazy or crazy nights. Something easy to take out and pop right into the oven. These are a new freezer friendly favorite!


These muffins are a generous size (this recipe makes 12 and although you’ll really be packing the meat in, they’ll shrink a bit when they cook) so whether you’re feeding your family right away or storing leftovers in the freezer, you’ll be good to go.

Blue Cheese & Spinach Meatloaf Muffins
slightly adapted from Allrecipes

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 onion, chopped
2 eggs
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin pan with cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Divide evenly among muffin tins. Bake for around 30-35 minutes.

Posted in beef, cheese, freezer friendly, main dishes, make ahead, QuickAndEasy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment