Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back to School Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

 These "smart cookies" make a great lunch box treat or after school snack for your favorite students and teachers or goodies for a back to school PARTY!
 They are SUPER simple & the only ingredients you need are graham crackers & white chocolate!

Melt, dip & decorate for a perfect A+! That's it! :)

 I put some on top of cupcakes for an extra special treat! If I use them as cupcake toppers again, I will make them half the size. I had to stack up extra frosting in the back to hold them up. :)

Back To School Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

  • Graham crackers, cut into rectangles to resemble pieces of paper. My graham crackers were square so I just used a knife to cut 1/4 of them off to make a rectangle.
  • White chocolate or vanilla candy coating, like Candiquik
  • Red, blue & black candy melts OR oil based or powdered food colorings to color your white Candiquik those colors
1. Melt white Candiquik in a small bowl & dip trimmed graham crackers in it, coating completely. Place dipped graham crackers on wax or parchment paper to set up. (I always melt my Candiquik and candy melts in the microwave at half power. Watch it closely & stir often as it melts.)

2. Melt blue candy melts & place in a piping bag with a Wilton tip 1 or 2. Or you could use a sandwich bag and just snip a tiny hole in the corner of it. I only had dark blue candy melts so I used mostly white & added a few pieces of blue to make light blue. Pipe lines on the white dipped graham crackers.

3. Melt red candy melts & place in a piping bag with Wilton tip 1 or 2. Pipe the ruled edge on the graham cracker & an A+.

4. Melt black candy melts & place in a piping bag with Wilton tip 1 or 2. Pipe 3 black dots for holes.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

gourmet white chocolate popcorn party!

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If you like expensive gourmet popcorn...THIS IS IT! This is an old favorite treat of mine & the recipe is in my family's cookbook that we compiled many years ago. Our family cookbook is one of my special little treasures. It has recipes from my mom, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins & grandma. I have to say that I think my family rocks in the cooking department. There are other recipes from our family cookbook mentioned HERE, HERE, HERE & HERE.
 This popcorn is all of my favorite things: quick, easy, delicious & beautiful! You can adapt it to be seasonal by changing the color of white chocolate and m&m's. Today I made a Valentine version & I only made half a batch. The recipe is very easy to half, double, triple, etc. This is the popcorn I used.

Gourmet White Chocolate Popcorn


2 bags of microwave popcorn, popped (light butter flavored)
2 cups party peanuts
2 cups pretzels, small twists or mini sticks
2 cups m&m's
1 lb. white chocolate or vanilla candy coating like CANDIQUIK 
Sprinkles, optional

*I colored my vanilla CANDIQUIK pink by melting about 6 little disks of THIS red candy coating with it. Or you could just use white Candiquik or any colored candy coating. DO NOT use water-based food coloring with candy coating. Candy coating may be colored or flavored using oil-based or powdered colorings or flavorings.


1. Combine popcorn, peanuts, pretzels and m&m's in a large bowl. Stir to mix well.

2. Melt candy coating according to package directions. I always melt it in the microwave. Color candy coating, if desired.

3. Pour over popcorn mixture in large bowl and stir until all is coated.

4. Spread on wax paper or cookie sheets. Immediately sprinkle with sprinkles, if desired, before it sets up.

5. I had a tiny bit (less than a tablespoon of each color) of extra candy coating from making these pretzels so I drizzled it over the popcorn.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

homemade granola party!

 I’m not going to fool you into thinking this is health food but it sure is delicious! My husband eats old-fashioned oats for breakfast every morning with a sprinkle of cinnamon & a drizzle of honey. He LOVES having this homemade granola to stir in for crunch, sweetness & extra nutty flavor! I love it mixed with yogurt and it also makes a great to-go snack when I’m running late for an early appointment. 
My daughter first discovered the recipe. I’m not sure where she got it but I’ve changed it up a bit & we all love it. You can customize it with any combination of nuts and dried fruit. All ingredients besides the oats are optional. I add the wheat germ but if you don't have it, feel free to skip it. If you don't like walnuts, leave them out. My daughter has been known to stir in some m&m’s or chocolate chips after it’s cooled. It makes a TON & the recipe can be halved.
 Today I added dried craisins, dried apple chips & banana chips. I loved these golden delicious crispy apple chips. YUM!
Homemade Granola


8 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup wheat germ
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup pure  maple syrup
¾ cup honey
1 cup oil (I use coconut oil but you could use vegetable or canola)
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups of your choice of dried fruit, cranberries, raisins, banana chips, dried apple chips, etc. to be added after baking

1.     Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.

2.     Combine oats, pecans, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and wheat germ in a large bowl and stir until mixed well.
 3.     In a small saucepan, mix the brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt. Bring just to a boil then pour over oat mixture. Stir well to coat. 

 4.     Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheets. If you like the big granola nuggets like the picture above, press it down into the pan a bit. Bake until toasty about 25-30 minutes, stirring half way through. Granola may appear to be wet, but will crisp up as it cools. 
 5.     Allow to cool completely, then stir in dried fruit.

Friday, February 7, 2014

mexican pizza party!

I grew up in such a small town that we had NO fast food restaurants, except a walk-up Dairy Queen. Plus my mom didn't really believe in eating out. So I was pretty much deprived of fast food until my older sister turned 16 and got her driver's license. She would occasionally take me to the next town and treat me to Taco Bell. We both loved the Enchirito with that famous Taco Bell sauce and an order of cinnamon crispas made with flour tortillas for dessert.
Now I completely understand my mom's preference to cook dinner instead of going out. This recipe was inspired by Taco Bell's Mexican pizza. It's easy to adapt the recipe to serve from 2 to 10 people. Or it makes a great appetizer. I made mine vegetarian and my husband loved his with the delicious seasoned ground beef. I printed a similar recipe years ago from that I used as a rough idea. I just checked that websight so I could link you to it but it no longer exists.

Mexican Pizza
click HERE to print recipe only
makes 2 pizzas


4 flour tortillas
2 Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup refried beans
1/2 cup salsa
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 green onions, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
sliced black olives
sour cream & cilantro, optional


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Brush tortillas lightly with oil and heat them on each side in a skillet over medium heat until barely browned. Watch closely so they don't burn.
3. Cook ground beef in a skillet with onion until browned. Add garlic and cook for another minute or two. Drain grease, if needed. Season meat with chili powder, cumin, black pepper and salt.

4. To assemble pizzas, place 2 tortilla on a cookie sheet, divide the beans between the 2 tortillas and spread to the edges. Divide the meat and sprinkle it over the beans on each pizza. Cover each with 2nd tortilla.  Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

5. Spread quarter cup of salsa over each pizza. Top with cheese. Return to oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and toasty.
6. Top with tomatoes, green onions and olives. Slice & serve.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

homemade girl scout do-si-dos party!

I was shocked to discover a recent Girl Scout poll that showed Samoas are America's favorite Girl Scout cookies, followed by Thin Mints and then Tag A Longs! Where is the love for MY favorite...Do-Si-Dos?!? When I saw that they were ranked #6, I couldn't believe it. What could be better than two peanut butter oatmeal cookies sandwiched with peanut butter frosting? Seriously, America? The lemon cookies ranked higher than Do-Si-Dos? That's crazy!

And I have THE cutest girl scouts in my neighborhood. Two adorable sisters who are dedicated to the Girl Scout mission & EXCELLENT cookie salesgirls. I think they sell around 3,000 boxes every year. We're always excited when they make the rounds to take our order.

Since I found out Do-Si-Dos are SO under-rated I decided to spread the love by making a homemade version and sharing it with you. This is my take & they are my new favorite cookies! I made them twice this weekend. The recipe is almost identical to my PB Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies MINUS the chocolate chips PLUS peanut butter frosting. GO Do-Si-Dos!

Do -Si-Dos
adapted from
Click HERE to print recipe only

makes 2 dozen sandwich cookies

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned or quick oats

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream or milk


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and peanut butter. Add in sugar & brown sugar & mix. Add egg and vanilla and blend. Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in oats.

2. Lightly spray cookie sheet with cooking spray and drop cookie dough by tablespoon onto pan. I use my small Pampered Chef scoop to measure the cookie dough. You can flatten the cookies a bit before baking but I didn't because I like fat cookies.

3. Bake 8 minutes or until cookies are barely set & barely browned on the bottom. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes then remove to cooling rack.

4. For frosting: Cream butter & peanut butter. Mix in powdered sugar. Add whipping cream & beat until creamy. Spread the frosting between two cooled cookies. I used 1 cookie scoopful of frosting on each sandwiched cookie.
 5. Totally unnecessary but if you want to jazz them up you can roll the edges in mini chocolate chips, crushed peanuts, chocolate sprinkles or mini m&m's.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

pina colada cupcake frosting party!

I had a request for pina colada cupcakes and went right to work experimenting with flavors and recipes to come up with something spectacular. I started by adding coconut & pina colada drink mix to an old fashioned pineapple upside down cake recipe. YUM! But the BIG STAR of the show was the pina colada FROSTING and that’s the recipe I want to share with you immediately.
It's SO delicious; I think I would scrap the cake & just serve shots of this frosting! It is the perfect tropical delight for those warm summer days by the pool cold winter evenings by the fire! Yes, it’s the middle of November & I’m STILL in denial that summer is over. One taste of this & I'm back to July! My recipe is alcohol free but you could definitely add rum or rum extract to the recipe for the authentic pina colada kick.
I used THIS non-alcoholic Master of Mixes Pina Colada Mixer & it’s so good. It’s basically lots of sugar, cream of coconut & pineapple juice. It’s available at most grocery stores. If you prefer not to use it, you may substitute equal parts of pineapple juice and cream of coconut. Another unusual frosting ingredient I used is Jello brand Coconut Cream Instant Pudding mix, just the dry powder, straight out of the box. 

Pina Colada Frosting
click here to print the recipe only
Yields: 3 cups frosting

1/3 cup dry Jello Coconut Cream Instant Pudding mix (a full box has about 1 cup)
1/3 cup pina colada drink mix
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoon coconut extract or to taste (you may prefer 1 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
½ cup salted butter
½ cup solid vegetable shortening
4 cups confectioners sugar
OPTIONAL: ¼ teaspoon rum extract OR 2 teaspoons light rum

1.     In a small bowl, add instant pudding mix, pina colada mix, vanilla extract, coconut extract, pineapple juice & rum or rum extract, if using. Whisk together until thick and smooth. Set aside.
2.     In a large separate bowl, cream butter and shortening with electric mixer.
3.     Add pudding mixture to creamed butter mixture.
4.     Add confectioners sugar one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed after each addition until smooth and fluffy. If thinner frosting is desired, add additional pineapple juice.

This makes enough frosting for 24 cupcakes, decorated as shown. I garnished them with toasted coconut*, fresh pineapple slices & well drained maraschino cherries. 

*To toast coconut in the microwave, place 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut on a paper plate, cook on high with set microwave for one minute. Don't walk away. Watch it like crazy & pull it out several times and stir it up and put it back in until perfectly toasted. It will take less than 2 minutes.

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