Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

Italian Pasta SaladWith summer coming a must have pot luck and picnic food is pasta salad! For my pasta salad I like to use pasta that has vegetables added in and the kids never know they actually eating something semi healthy. The kids love this recipe and ask for it frequently throughout the year. Not only is it nice that the kids {& adults} like it but it’s super simple to make.


  • Pasta
  • 1 cup Grape Tomatoes {I use Ronzoni Garden Delight}
  • 1/2 cup Green Olives {I use reduced sodium}
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata Olives
  • 20 Pepperonis
  • 4oz cubed Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 cup Italian Dressing

Drain and boil pastaFirst boil until pasta is al dente then drain off water.

Italian Pasta Salad
Next stir in 1 cup Italian dressing in bowl and refrigerate over night.

Italian Pasta Salad

Pasta SaladLastly add and mix in all other ingredients, chill then serve. Enjoy!

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Monster Chewy Granola Bars

Monster granola barsIn our house granola bars are a staple. They are easy for kids to grab for a snack or even keep them in your purse for quick bite to eat while out. Plus since I’ve starting making them rather then buying store bought brands I have the comfort of knowing what I am putting in them. The kids had been craving sweets and asking for cookies, ice cream… you name it. So an alternative I quickly thought of was just making some granola bars but adding some chocolates to satisfy their sweet tooth. And you know what? It worked! The kids loved the little added touch of chocolates and no more “Can we have something sweet?” Here’s how I made them…


  • 1 1/2 cup Rice Krispies
  • 2 1/2 cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 stick of Butter
  • 1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 1 tablespoon Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 cup Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 cup Mini M&Ms
Granola-Bar-homemadeFirst bring butter, light brown sugar, and honey to a boil. Let it boil until all the grains of sugar are dissolved then stir in the peanut butter.
Chewy-Granola-BarsOnce the peanut butter is mixed in and melted pour over oats and Rice Krispies in a mixing bowl. Mix so all the dry ingredients are mixed with all the wet ingredients then let cool slightly, to avoid the chocolate from doesn’t all melt.
Chewy Granola Bar recipeThen mix in chocolate chips and mini M&Ms before pouring into a foil lined baking dish. {I added some non stick spray to the foil to avoid any extra mess} 
Monster Granola BarsLet cool for about two hours then cut & serve! Enjoy! 
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Top 5 Posts in 2012

Top 5 posts in 2012Happy 2013 everyone! I can’t believe we are already into the second week of the new year. Boy did last year fly by before my eye. I had a blast sharing some of my favorite crafts, recipes, DIY, etc. with you and can’t wait to share more in 2013! To kick off the new year I thought I’d share the top five viewed posts during 2012.

#1 Sharpie Mug

Halloween Cookies

#2 Spooky Swirl Halloween Cookies

Football Subway Art Free Printable

#3 Football Subway Art Printable

Baked Mozzarella sticks recipe

#4 Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Cake Pops Chocolate Mint

#5 Mint Chocolate Cake Pops

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Smoked Paprika Carrot and Quinoa Soup

Hello there! I’m Lisa from Je suis alimentageuse and Samantha’s been generous enough to let me do a guest post for you folks while she’s away. I’ll just do a mini introduction before I go into how much I love this soup.

I started Je suis alimentageuse in my third year of university because I had just gotten a DSLR camera and I needed things to photograph (and I was intensely procrastinating. I started in March, which was midterm season). Now I had always liked cooking and baking, but I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be fun to take pictures of the stuff I bake? So fast forward a year and half and now here I am! Writing a guest post for Sam’s lovely readers.

Now let’s talk about quinoa. In the past year or so, quinoa has become the new “it” staple in the food blogging world. People love it because it’s gluten-free, it has a fun texture, and it’s actually chock-full of protein, because it’s actually a seed, not a grain. To be honest, the first time I even heard of this, I wanted to do some research about how to cook it.

When I first did my research, I saw posts upon posts about how difficult quinoa is to cook or how it’s so hard to cook perfectly fluffy quinoa. Also, I had a few foodie friends who were all “Blah blah people just like it because it’s the new, yuppie health food fad”. People had so many opinions about it that it really intimidated me. I decided to find out for myself what quinoa was like.

Well let me tell you from first-hand experience: quinoa is SO easy to cook. Even easier than rice! And I’m Vietnamese; I eat rice every day. Rice is a 2:1 ratio (two parts water, one part rice), while quinoa is a 3:2 (three parts water, to two parts quinoa) ratio. It’s tasty with some garlic or butter, and extra delicious when you add some Mexican flare by cooking it with black beans and garlic topped with a generous dollop of guacamole.

To cook quinoa, you just rinse the seeds by running some tap water over them in a sieve. Then you dump it in a pot with the right amount of water (or broth for extra flavour), then cover it with a lid, cook on medium low heat for about 20 minutes (no peeking!), and it’s done!

When you take off the lid, you’re rewarded with this lovely, fluffy quinoa that adds just the right amount of texture to a puréed soup.

• 2/3 cup quinoa
• 1 cup vegetable broth + 6 cups vegetable broth
• 2 medium sized onions, diced (I used one yellow and one red)
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 tbsp of cooking oil (I used coconut oil, but olive or vegetable is fine)
• 1 tbsp of smoked paprika
• a dash of cayenne (or more if you like it spicy)
• 1 heaping tsp of garlic powder
• 1 heaping tsp of onion powder
• 4 medium carrots, diced
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• Nutritional yeast flakes to garnish (optional)
• Chopped dill to garnish (optional)

1. Rinse quinoa with cold tap water. Drain as much as possible with a sieve.
2. Simmer, covered, over medium-low heat in a small pot with 1 cup vegetable broth. No peeking! When it’s done, remove from heat, and fluff with a fork.

3. In a large pot, cook your onions and garlic in oil until translucent (about 3 minutes).  READ MORE >>>

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Stuffed Cupcakes

Hi! I’m Mrs. Williams and you can find me cooking, baking and talking about random things over at Persnickety Plates. I’m happy to be filling in today with a recipe that I think you’ll like. 
Since it’s post-Halloween, you might have some leftover candy laying around. My favorite candy is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and I love chocolate cupcakes so putting them INSIDE a cupcake is one of the best ideas ever. 

Source: Two Peas and Their Pod

Makes: 12 cupcakes


For the Dark Chocolate Cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Ghirardelli baking chips)
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream (I used Chobani Greek yogurt)
  • 12 full sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

For the Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • Mini Peanut Butter Cups, for topping cupcakes, if desired


To make the cupcakes: preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.

Place butter, chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Microwave in 30 second spurts on 50% power, stirring in between, until the butter and chocolate are melted and the mixture is smooth. (Alternatively, you could do this step in a double boiler.) Set the mixture aside to cool until it is warm to the touch.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.   READ MORE >>>

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Pizza Ratatouille Stir Fry

Hi everyone! I’m Melissa from Dancing For Food. Samantha asked if I could share a recipe on her blog, and I was more than happy to oblige. As I was thinking about what I wanted to share, I kept going back to this recipe for Pizza Ratatouille Stir Fry. It was one of the first recipes my husband and I created out of our heads and because of that it stands out the most to me.

It started with a bunch of leftovers from making pizza when our friends were over back at the beginning of August. We had half-empty containers of pizza sauce, roasted peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes to use up, so we put our thinking caps on and got cooking! The text-only recipe is at the end of the post.

Start by sweating garlic and onions in a large skillet or frying pan:

Add red pepper flakes for a spicy kick:

After a few more minutes, throw in some roasted red and yellow peppers as well as chopped fresh red and yellow peppers:

Last but not least, add sun-dried tomatoes, dried oregano, pizza sauce, and salt and pepper to taste:

Serve on a bed of cooked brown rice and top with shredded mozzarella cheese:

It turned out great and we’ve made it a couple more times since August. It’s a easy dish to make when you have some random ingredients to use up. It can also be easily customized. I think it would be great with zucchini or eggplant thrown in too.

I hope you try it and love it! Come on over and visit me at Dancing For Food for more recipes as well as fitness posts and everyday life posts.  A huge thank you to Samantha for having me as a guest blogger!

Pizza Ratatouille Stir Fry (serves 2)


  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 jar roasted yellow and red peppers (Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1-2 dashes red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 jar pizza sauce
  • 1/2 package sun-dried tomatoes (Trader Joe’s)
  • dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 cups cooked brown rice
  • shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Sweat the onions and garlic in olive oil for 5-7 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and cook for a few minutes more.
  2. Add the roasted peppers, and chopped peppers. Stir to combine and let cook for 10 minutes on low.
  3. Add pizza sauce, oregano, and sun-dried tomatoes to pepper mixture and let cook for 20-30 minutes on low. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve on a bed of rice and top with mozzarella cheese.
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Frankenstein Pudding Cups

Last week at our Halloween party we had so much fun and one of the items that we created were little individual size Frankenstein Pudding Cups. They were super easy to make and the kids even got to take part in most of the process.


  • 8 oz tumblers
  • Vanilla Pudding
  • Green Food Coloring
  • Sharpie Marker
  • Chocolate Oreos
First use your Sharpie marker to draw onto the cup Frankenstein’s face.
Next mix up your pudding with green food coloring, while this was going on I had the kids smash the Oreos into small pieces.{Mr.N thought that was super cool}
After your pudding has set pour it into each cup, leaving enough room for his “hair” {Oreo crumbles}
Then top off with your Oreo Crumbles and you’ve got a simple fun snack for the kiddos.
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Football Brownies

Football season is well on it’s way and my pride & joy Ohio State buckeyes have been doing a fab job with wins this season. With many homegating parties happening I thought why not make some cute football themed foods, like brownies. {a sure win in my household} They are super easy to make, the most difficult thing for me was hunting down a football shape cookie cutter.


  • Brownie Recipe {or box mix}
  • White Icing
  • Football Cookie Cutter
First make up your brownies, I’ve been trying to teach Miss.A how to cook/bake so we used the simplest thing I found find. Betty Crocker Shake-N-Pour brownie mix, you basically just add water, shake then pour into pan. It was a perfect solution for a 9 year old that wanted to make brownies “by herself”.
After your brownies have cooled, use your football shape cookie cutter to cut out your brownies.
Next use white icing in a piping bag to add on the football details then presto your football brownies are ready for your party {or midnight snack} 
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Chicken Nugget Tacos {Family Game Night}

Do you keep an eye out for new ways to put a twist on meals for kiddos? Well I do, I enjoy taking something kids love but putting a twist on it so the whole family can enjoy it. Which is exactly what I did over the weekend when I made chicken nugget tacos. We were also planing on having a family game night so this was a perfect time to make a kid friendly meal and have quality family time.

Before I could make my meal I headed to Walmart to pick up some Tyson chicken nuggets, Ore-Ida seasoned fries, Heinz ketchup, and other taco toppings. {plus other groceries we needed} We also took a look at the board games section, Hasbro has a great selection. However the board game nuts we are, we already had most of them. With all our supplies picked up from the store {click here to see my whole shopping trip} and the kids excited for the meal & games it was time to get to cooking. Here’s how I made our chicken nugget tacos…


  • Tyson Fun Nuggets
  • Heinz Ketchup
  • Ore-Ida Extra Crispy Seasoned Crinkles
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Taco Toppings {Cheese, Sour Cream, Salsa, Lettuce, etc.}
First up cook your chicken nuggets in the oven as directed on package

Once cooked cut your chicken nuggets into 4 small bite size pieces {shown above} After they were all cut up I poped them back in the oven while the fries were cooking just to heat them back up.

Next its time to build your taco with whatever toppings you prefer.

Then enjoy! The kids loved their chicken nugget tacos and later even asked if we could have them and the fries again. {of course I said yes!} I think this is a new family favorite.

Later once we were all settled down and in our PJs it was time to play some Hasbro games before bed. The kids loved playing connect 4 and Battleship. Although they are only two player games we all took turns playing the winner of each round. Little Miss.A gets pretty competitive and loves winning, she ended up our connect 4 champ.

Having family game nights are extra fun and special times. Plus they are now even easier, if you head over to Dip Dip Hooray’s website and purchase qualifing products you can have the chance to win awesome prizes. As well as unlock online games using the UPC codes. Also be sure to stop over and check out the qualifing brand on social media…

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This #DipDipHooray shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias Tyson and Heinz #CBias #SocialFabric
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Kit Kat Cake

I am so excited to finally share Jay’s birthday cake I made for him {in march!} with all of you. Better late then never right? Laura from Pink Cake Plate {I’ve met her in real life when I lived in Arizona & shes very sweet, go check out her blog} made this cake last year and I just knew that something similar would be great for Jays birthday cake. However since we are not big Twix fans I opted for some yummy Kit Kats & chocolate cake instead.

You’ll Need

  • Cake Mix {store bought or your own recipe}
  • Frosting
  • About 12 Full Size Kit Kat Bars
  • 1 Large Bag of M&Ms
  • Ribbon

First make up two 9in round cakes and essentially make a double layer cake {shown above, I always add frosting to the plate so that the cake doesn’t move around.}

Next simply break your Kit Kat bars sticks into pairs then stick them onto the frosting all the way around. {shown above}

After your cake is surrounded by the Kit Kat bars tie a ribbon around the outside. This helps keep the Kit Kat bars from possibly falling off, plus adds a finishing touch. Lastly pour in your large bag of M&Ms onto the center of the cake.

Tada! Wasn’t that simple and look how fun & cute it looks, prefect for any little get together! And of course this post wouldn’t be complete without a Happy {now almost half} Birthday to you, hunny!

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