Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

So I see a pink trend starting here. Oh well. I have two little girls! :) So anyway,  STRAWBERRIES are showing up all over, and we LOVE the little red jewels at our house! Our little kiddos eat strawberries every day as part of their lunch, and whenever else they can get their LITTLE hands on them. I decided cupcakes should be on the menu one day and WHIPPED up these little beauties. All I can say is: Oh. My.

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes
1 box white cake mix
Ingredients called for on box
1 small box instant vanilla or cheesecake pudding mix
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup chopped strawberries

Fresh Strawberry Frosting
1 stick butter, room temp
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temp
3 or 4 strawberries blended or smashed
Dash of salt
4 cups powdered sugar
Red food coloring, optional

Mix together the cake mix and ingredients called for on box. Stir in the pudding mix, sour cream, and strawberries. Prepare a cupcake pan with nonstick spray or line with paper cups. Fill each cup about 2/3 full and then bake as directed on box. (Typically 350 degrees for about 20 minutes in my oven is perfect!)

While the cupcakes are baking, beat together the butter, cream cheese, strawberries, and salt in a large bowl. Beat in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until smooth. Add a drop or two of red food coloring for a more intense pink color. Frost the cooled cupcakes and refrigerate until ready to serve.

TIP: I like to spray my paper cupcake liners—it keeps the cup from sticking like crazy to the cupcake! Also, I think adding some white chocolate chips to the cupcake batter may also be pretty amazing. You try it and let me know. :)


Strawberry Sugar Cookies

My cute little 3 year old wanted to make pink COOKIES one day, and this is what we came up with. They turned out nice and PINK, as you can see and tasted really yummy too. The texture is SIMILAR to that of the Lofthouse Sugar Cookies you might buy at your local grocer, but tastes way BETTER to me!

Strawberry Sugar Cookies
1 box strawberry cake mix
2/3 cup flour
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons sour cream
Cream Cheese Frosting (but use 1/2 cup butter and 8 ounces cream cheese instead!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir all of the ingredients together until well blended; batter will somewhat stiff. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and then flatten to about 1/2-inch thick on a lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle a little extra sugar over top and then bake 10 minutes. Cool for 1 minute and then transfer to a rack and let cool completely. Make your cream cheese frosting and frost the cooled cookies. Top with your favorite sprinkles!

TIP: Try making these with other cake mixes and see what is your favorite! You can use a white cake mix for "regular" sugar cookies.


Grilled Italian Chicken Sandwich

I really like grilled cheese. Or love it. Whatever. But I've been CRAVING more than just a regular ol' grilled cheese. I want ADULT grilled cheese. So, I decided to combine some of my favorite FLAVORS on a sandwich. And GRILLED it!

Grilled Italian Chicken Sandwich
3/4 cup (or so) balsamic vinegar
1 chicken breast or 3 or 4 tenders
Dried thyme, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin
1/3 sweet onion, sliced
1/2 red bell peppers, sliced
4 slices nutty whole wheat bread
Shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese

In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar to a boil and reduce by about half. Remove from heat, stir in a few drizzles of honey, and set aside.

Pat chicken dry and then sprinkle spices and seasonings over each side. Cook in a frying pan with about 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, until nicely browned and cooked through. Set aside to cool. In the same pan, saute the onions until soft and then set aside. Now saute the peppers until soft. Drizzle the bell peppers with some of the balsamic glaze, toss to coat, and remove from heat. 

Lay bread on a flat surface and sprinkle some of the cheeses on top of 2 slices. Cut the cooled chicken into thin slices and lay over the cheese (you may not use it all, so just snack on it!). Top with the onions and bell peppers. Drizzle more of the balsamic glaze over top and finish it off with more cheese and the remaining bread. Butter the bread and toast like you would a grilled cheese. :)

TIP: I like to season each layer of this sandwich with a little salt and pepper. I think provolone or gouda cheese would also be super yummy in place of the mozzarella. I also think using fresh basil leaves between the layers would be fantastic. I'm sad I didn't have any to try that day!


Mint Oreo Brownies

St. Patty's Day is coming up, so I'm guessing you'll be looking for GREEN recipes to share with your fam. Well, I promise that this is one of the EASIEST dessert recipes you'll find. Chewy chocolate brownies STUFFED with Mint Oreos. Mmmmmmm!

Mint Oreo Brownies
1 box Ghirardelli Double or Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix (for an 8 x 8-inch pan)
Ingredients called for on box
1 package Mint Oreos

Prepare the brownie mix as directed. Spray an 8 x 8-inch pan with nonstick spray. Spread half of the brownie batter in the bottom of the pan. Press Oreos into batter (I used 16!). Spread remaining batter over top. Bake as directed and test with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean when done. Let cool and enjoy!

TIP: I was looking for extra indulgent brownies, so I also added chopped Andes Mints over top. Seriously good, but not necessary. :)



So, I've got a new COOKBOOK coming out soon! This made-for-kids book is SUPER fun and extremely CUTE, and stuffed with some pretty DELISH recipes. Noodlemania: 50 Playful Pasta Recipes (by Quirk Books) is perfect for all your little KIDDOS. (And all the big ones too—i.e. you!). The recipes are simple, classic, FUN, and tasty to boot. I hope you all enjoy it! Check it out here or here.

And for fun, here's a yummy little recipe from the book that might be just right for St. Patty's Day!

Gloppy Green Frog-Eye Salad

3/4 cup acini di pepe
2 snack-size vanilla pudding cups, chilled
Green food coloring
1 small can pineapple tidbits, with juice
1 small can mandarin oranges, drained
2 to 3 cups mini marshmallows
1 (8-ounce) container Cool Whip

Cook the acini de pepe pasta according to package directions; drain and let cool completely. Combine the cooled pasta with the pudding, pineapple with juice, and oranges. Gently stir in the marshmallows, half of the Cool Whip, and the green food coloring. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours before serving. Stir in the remaining Cool Whip just before serving. Makes 6 servings.


White Chocolate Raspberry Greek Yogurt Cookies

I wanted a COOKIE, but I didn't want to OVER do it. So I found a recipe using Greek YOGURT instead of any oil, butter, or shortening. I tweaked it. And now, I LOVE it! The cookies turned out YUMMY, and I don't feel quite so guilty eating one. Or two.

White Chocolate Raspberry Greek Yogurt Cookies
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 heaping cup quartered fresh raspberries
1/3 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a bowl, mix together the sugar, yogurt, egg, and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix well. Gently fold in the raspberries and chocolate chips. Spoon a tablespoon or so onto the prepared baking sheets and then bake for about 10 minutes or just until they start to brown around on the edges. Let cool for a minute on the baking sheet and then completely on a wire rack.

TIP: La Fuji Mama topped her cookies a Lemon Cream Cheese frosting, but I don't think these need it. I did make a little glaze using a couple tablespoons powdered sugar, a splash of milk, and a couple drops of coconut extract. It was yummy on the cookies too, but like I said—plain is just fine. And better for you!