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.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

mini peach pie party!

I’m a sucker for PIES AND I’m a sucker for anything mini..SO with that combination, I’m turning into a MINI-PIE-MAKING-FOOL! These little pies are SO fun to make AND eat! I grew up living for that occasional Saturday morning trip to the Hostess outlet where my mom would always buy me a fruit pie (had to be cherry). And these are about 1,000 times yummier.
 My daughter bought me THIS Wilton mini pie press at Bed Bath & Beyond (never shop there without a 20% off coupon) for about $5 & I LOVE it. You could easily make mini pies without it though, see note at bottom of post for directions. They are super easy & SO DARN CUTE. You basically cut pie crust into rectangles, fill, press & bake. YUM!
I made homemade pie crust but you could DEFINITELY use a store bought refrigerated pie crust. I made a double recipe of my usual pie crust & it made the perfect amount for 8 mini pies.

I have a list of pies I’m planning to make with this little gadget including ham and cheese hot pockets, pepperoni and cheese pizza pies, apple pies, cherry pies & chicken pot pies. I also want to experiment with freezing them before baking so we can have fresh hot pie at a moment's notice. I’m pretty sure it’ll work. And I probably shouldn't admit this but I'm going to FRY some!

Mini Peach Pies
click HERE to print recipe only
makes 8 mini pies


Pastry for two standard 9 inch pies, rolled out but not baked (I doubled THIS RECIPE)
Fresh peaches, peeled, sliced and cut into bite sized pieces to measure 3 cups (about 4 small to medium peaches)
½ cup sugar (add an extra tablespoon if your peaches aren’t very sweet)
1 ½ tablespoons all purpose flour
½ to 1 teaspoon cinnamon, depending on taste
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
1 beaten egg to seal the edges of your pies
3 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon to sprinkle on top of pies.


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for baking your pies. Have your pie crust dough prepared and rolled out but not baked. I rolled out half my crust, made 4 mini pies then rolled out the other half & made 4 more.

2.  In a medium bowl stir together the peaches, sugar, flour, cinnamon and lemon juice. Place in a strainer. Save the juice to drizzle over the vanilla ice cream you serve with your pies.
3.  Cut pie crust into 4 1/2" x 3" rectangles. I cut it with a pizza cutter. You need two pieces of pie crust dough for each pie (top and bottom). I doubled the recipe of my pie crust and it made 16 pieces so 8 mini pies, perfectly.

4.  Press one piece of pie crust into the side of the mold with the crimped edges. (See the P.S. below if you don't have the mini pie press.)

5.  Top with 2 tablespoons of peach mixture. Place a little pat (less than a teaspoon) of butter on top of the peach filling.

6.  Brush edges of dough with beaten egg and lay second piece of dough on top. Close the pie press to crimp edges and seal pie. Trim excess dough if necessary.

7.  Remove mini pie from pie press and place on prepared baking sheet. Piece with a fork or cut slits into top crust to vent. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of cinnamon sugar mixture.

8.  Bake for 15 to 18 minute or until golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream drizzled with drained peach juice.
P.S. If you don't have the mini pie press just assemble the mini pies on your baking sheet: place a piece of pie crust on the baking sheet, spoon filling in the middle of the crust, add pat of butter, brush edges with egg, cover with top crust and seal edges with a fork all the way around. Vent, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar & bake.

Monday, September 2, 2013

frosted peanut butter cookies and a giveaway party!

Are you a certified peanut butter lover like my husband? He lives in fear of running out of PEANUT BUTTER. He likes it EXTRA crunchy and he eats it everyday.  He seriously gets upset if he thinks someone has touched his peanut butter. Trust me, I wouldn’t dare even think of getting between him and his pb! My main grocery duty is keeping the man in peanut butter and I do it well.

These cookies make him very happy even though, believe it or not, the cookies don’t have any actual peanut butter in them.  They are bursting with Reese’s peanut butter chips, plus frosted with creamy homemade peanut butter frosting and sprinkled with chopped peanuts.
 I adapted the recipe from a YUMMY bakery in Bountiful, Utah called Cutler’s Cookies. They teach cookie classes occasionally and very generously share their recipes.  All of their cookies are SO delicious! Two cookie baking tips I learned from the owner of Cutler’s is 1. They ALWAYS use cake flour. It makes their cookies SUPER soft and light. 2. They scoop the cookie dough onto parchment paper and freeze the cookie dough balls so they are always ready to bake a fresh batch at a moment’s notice. If they run out of cookies in the bakery case they can have more ready to sell in about 15 minutes. This cookie dough freezes perfectly & if you have it in an airtight container it will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months.

If you ever get a chance to go to Cutler’s they have three locations in Davis County, Utah. Besides cookies, they have gourmet sandwiches, homemade bread and delicious soups.

Frosted Peanut Butter Cookies
click HERE to print recipe only
makes about 20 large cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
3 ¼ cups cake flour
1 12 ounce bag Reese’s Peanut Butter chips
Peanut butter frosting, recipe below
Chopped peanuts or mini chocolate chips to garnish, if desired

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.    Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, baking powder and baking soda until creamy.
3.    Add eggs and beat well.
4.     Mix in flour until just blended together. Stir in peanut butter chips.
5.    Using an ice cream scoop, drop on parchment-lined cookie sheet about 4 inches apart. They are large cookies so I only bake 6 at a time. 
     **Note: To freeze cookie dough to bake later: after scooping onto parchment lined cookie sheet and before baking, I stick the pan in the freezer for a few hours so they are individually frozen. Then I put the frozen cookie dough balls in a zip lock bag so I've got fresh cookies ready to pop in the oven at a moment's notice. Here is a batch going in the freezer to bake later.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set. I always slightly underbake my cookies because I like them soft & gooey. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.
      7. Spread peanut butter frosting on cooled cookies & sprinkle with chopped
           peanuts or mini chocolate chips, if desired.

 Peanut Butter Frosting

½  cup butter, softened
½ cup peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk to thin for desired consistency

1.    Cream together butter and peanut butter.
2.    Beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until smooth.
3.    Add milk a tablespoon at a time, until frosting is smooth and creamy.
AND...for those celebrating back to school or to cheer up those who aren't celebrating (like me), I'm giving away this SWEET handmade apron. My friend, Kim, made this and she is a VERY talented seamstress. The apron is ADORABLE! It is generously cut to fit all sizes; it's reversible with a deep pocket on both sides, has a cute ruffle at the bottom and coordinating ties at the neck and waist. Everyone is eligible for TWO entries, see directions below. Contest ends Saturday night, September 7 at midnight.
Contest is
26 total entries
And the winner is...
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Entry #9Lisa J.
THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR PLAYING! CONGRATS LISA J.! Enjoy your new apron! I'm emailing you now.
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