Biscoff and Gingerbread Pancakes

These pancakes are PERFECT for Christmas breakfast (or on a Saturday, or for dinner!). They are easy to throw together and taste AMAZING. They are just the. best. pancakes. ever. Ever! OK, or at least they are right at the top of my list of SUPER yummy pancakes!

Biscoff and Gingerbread Pancakes
2 cups pancake mix (I used Bisquick)
1 heaping tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
Couple dashes cloves
1 1/2 cups milk
Creamy Biscoff Spread

Stir together all ingredients in a bowl until combined. Cook pancakes like normal and then spread with a layer of Biscoff and top with maple syrup—and whipped cream if you want it to be extra delicious!

TIP: The pancakes are also delicious without the Biscoff, so don't feel like you have to run out and buy it. Just enjoy the gingerbread!


Leftover Cheeseball Sandwich

Every year my family makes a cheese ball for our HOLIDAY party and even though it is delicious, we always have LEFTOVERS. After a while, the "ball" with CRACKERS starts to lose its magic and I search for other ways to consume it without throwing it away. This cheesy-with-a-hint-of-heat SANDWICH is definitely my new favorite!

Leftover Cheeseball Sandwich
4 slices good-quality wheat or grainy bread
Leftover cheeseball
1 jar nacho jalapeños
Gouda or Havarti cheese slices
Turkey slices (deli or leftover works great!)

Lay bread on work space and spread a light layer of cheese ball over each piece. On 2 slices, layers the jalapeños, cheese slices, and turkey and then top with remaining bread slices. Cook like you would a grilled cheese.

TIP: Try not to get too carried away when spread the bread with the cheese ball, too much really is too much and will be too heavy.


No-Bake Butterfinger Fudge

I found this little SWEET bite on Pinterest and was very excited to try it! It turned out pretty YUMMY, but is definitely not your normal FUDGE recipe or texture. Either way, I hand it out to my neighbors and they never complain! :)

No-Bake Butterfinger Fudge
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temp
2 sticks butter
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups dry milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 (10-ounce) bag mini Butterfingers, crushed

In a bowl, use your hands to combine all the ingredients, reserving some of the Butterfinger, until thoroughly mixed. Press mixture into a 9 x 13-inch pan and top with remaining Butterfinger. Press candy bar into top of the fudge and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into squares.

TIP: The original recipe added a version where she melts chocolate and then dips individual squares into it. I think I may try that next time!


Candy Cane Oreos

One of my other FAVORITE Christmas treats was inspired by some store-bought cookies from Target. These yummy CHOCOLATE-covered bundles of joy are totally dangerous and definitely habit forming. Which is why I had to make my own! Luckily they are EASY to make and a fraction of the cost when COMPARED to their store-bought counterparts. :)

Candy Cane Oreos
1 bag good-quality milk chocolate chips
1 package chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos, or any off-brand work great!)
Crushed peppermint candy canes

Lay a sheet of wax paper on your work space.

In a small saucepan over low heat, slowly melt the chocolate chips while stirring constantly. When the chocolate is smooth, remove from heat. Drop a cookie into the melted chocolate and use a fork to turn over and make sure it is completely coated. Scoop coated cookie out with a fork and tap fork on side of pan to make sure any excess chocolate falls back in. Place cookie on wax paper. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes and repeat.

TIP: I usually dip about 4 cookies and then sprinkle them with the candy canes. Then dip 4 more and sprinkle, and so on. You just need to make sure the candy canes stick to the chocolate, so don't wait too long.


Gingerbread Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

This might just be my new favorite CHRISTMAS dessert. These bars are soft, chewy, moist, and basically HEAVENLY in all aspects! They aren't chocolate, which seems to be in ABUNDANCE this time of year, but they are delicious and will definitely stand out at any GATHERING you may have this holiday season.

Gingerbread Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
(recipe from Lauren's Latest)

1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

4 ounces cream cheese, room temp
1/4 cup butter, room temp
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan with foil (my pan was an 11 x 7 in) or parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Stir in the egg, vanilla, and molasses. Whip 1 to 2 minutes or until light brown in color. Stir in remaining ingredients until just combined. Press mixture onto prepared pan and bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until edges just start to brown. Cool completely and then frost.

Beat all the frosting ingredients together until smooth and then spread over the cooled bars. Store in the refrigerator.

TIP: My bars were a little thicker than the original recipe because her pan was slightly larger than mine. Just be sure to watch your bars to make sure they are cooked and just starting to brown.


Pioneer Woman's Turkey Spring Rolls

I love Thanksgiving LEFTOVERS, but sometimes like more than just a plate of heated leftovers. These definitely fit the "DIFFERENT" category. I found this recipe from the Pioneer Woman to be quite tasty and REFRESHING after a weekend of super heavy eating!

Pioneer Woman's Turkey Spring Rolls
Leftover Turkey
Rice Paper Wrappers
Soy Sauce
Rice Wine Vinegar
Sesame Oil
Chopped Cilantro
Finely Diced Carrots
Strips of Cucumber
Leafy Lettuce
Alfalfa or Bean Sprouts
Cellophane Noodles, prepared according to directions

Mix together chunks of turkey with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, carrots, and cilantro. Taste and adjust whatever seasoning you'd like.

Follow directions to soften rice paper wrappers then layer in the softened noodles, lettuce, cucumber, sprouts, and turkey mixture.  Roll up and serve with soy sauce for dipping.

TIP: I served mine with cranberry sauce mixed with a little soy sauce.


Grilled Leftover Thanksgiving Sandwiches with BBQ Cranberry Sauce

I look forward to making recipes out of our Thanksgiving LEFTOVERS every year. And this SANDWICH is definitely one of my favorites. The GOOEY cheese holds everything together in the most PERFECT way possible. Mmmmm!

Grilled Leftover Thanksgiving Sandwiches with BBQ Cranberry Sauce
Leftover homemade or whole berry cranberry sauce
BBQ sauce
Sourdough bread, sliced
Leftover turkey
Baby Swiss slices
Leftover stuffing

In a bowl, stir together the cranberry sauce and BBQ sauce until well mixed, using roughly 2 parts cranberry sauce to 1 part BBQ sauce. (Or whatever tastes good to you!)

Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread and set them butter side down on your counter so you can "build" your sandwich. Spread each slice of bread with a layer of the BBQ Cranberry Sauce. Place a slice of cheese over top on half of the bread slices. Top the cheese with a layer of turkey and a scoop or two of stuffing. Top with more cheese, and the remaining bread. Grill like you would a grilled cheese!

TIP: You can leave the stuffing out and these are still pretty amazing!


Easiest Cranberry Sauce

Homemade CRANBERRY sauce is. the. best. If anyone disagrees with me, I DARE you to try this SIMPLE recipe. You can make it a day or two before THANKSGIVING and keep it in the fridge. It really is refreshing and well, wonderful!

Easiest Cranberry Sauce
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 cup orange juice
3/4 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup honey)

Place all ingredients together in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until all of the cranberries have burst. Remove from heat and let cool. As it cools, it will thicken.

TIP: Add a tablespoon or two of orange zest for extra citrus flavor!


Taking the Summer OFF!

Seeing as I haven't posted any recipes in quite some time, I've decided to go ahead and take a much needed BREAK from food blogging. I will start posting recipes again near the end of the SUMMER—I promise! And, if I happen to run into any SUPER amazing recipes before then, I may surprise you and post something fabulous. Either way, I hope you'll forgive me while I enjoy summer playing OUTSIDE in the sun and water with my sweet little kiddos! :)


Baked Spaghetti

SPAGHETTI almost always sounds good, but we get tired of having it the SAME way all of the time. This was fun and new for the KIDS, and my husband like it too. One of our two year olds even said "Mommy, this is my best dinner ever!" It must be GOOD with an endorsement like that, right?

Baked Spaghetti
8 ounces thin spaghetti, broken in half
1 cup cottage cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup sour cream
Garlic salt and pepper
1 jar spaghetti sauce (just use your favorite!)
1/2 pound browned hamburger
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare an 8 x 8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Cook the spaghetti in a large pot according to package directions; drain and put back in pan.

In a bowl, quickly mix together the cottage cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream with a few dashes of garlic salt and pepper. Stir into the warm noodles in the pot until thoroughly coated.  Spread the coated noodles in the prepared pan. Combine the spaghetti sauce and cooked hamburger an then spread over top of the noodles. Sprinkle a good layer of cheese, using the mozzarella and Parmesan, over top. Bake, covered with foil, for about 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Remove foil for last 5 minutes of cooking. Cut into squares and serve.

TIP: This would be great with your favorite cooked veggies, chopped and tossed into the sauce, or noodles. Olives, peppers, zucchini, spinach, whatever!


Debbie's Quick Bread (Mmmmm!)

This bread is so YUM! A friend of mine gave me the recipe years ago, and recently, when I was really wanting some BREAD or rolls to go with dinner, I dug through my RECIPES and found this lost TREASURE.  The recipe is easy (no mixer required!) and tastes FAB—basically like a dinner roll, but it's all baked in a 9 x 13-inch pan.

Debbie's Quick Bread
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons yeast (I use the rapid-rise for this recipe)
4 tablespoons sugar
5 cups flour, divided
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
4 tablespoons oil

In a bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar and let brew. In another bowl, mix together 2 1/2 cups flour and salt. Add the eggs and oil and yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed. Add the remaining flour and stir until combined. Mixture will be sticky. Cover and let rise until double in size, about 30 to 45 minutes. DO NOT KNEAD! Put in a 9 x 13-inch pan prepared with nonstick spray and let rise a second time, covered, until dough is to the top of the pan, about 30 to 45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes and serve.

TIP: We like ours spread with butter and, for added goodness, jam or honey.


Chicken Sausage Pasta

OK, so we buy stuff from Costco. And well, you get A LOT of whatever you buy. Soooo, sometimes I try to come up with different ways to use the bulk FOOD that we get, you know, instead of just preparing it as INTENDED. That is where this recipe comes in. And let me tell ya, it was DELISH, not to mention extremely easy!

Chicken Sausage Pasta
3 or 4 link chicken sausage links (mine are from Costco!)
Olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Garlic salt and pepper
About 8 ounces or so of thin spaghetti, cooked according to directions
1/2 to 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Slice the sausage into rounds and then sauté in a large frying pan with a touch of olive oil. Remove from pan when browned and set aside.

In the same pan, sauté the veggies until crisp-tender with a little more oil and some dashes of garlic salt and pepper. Add the sausage slices back to pan, as well as the cooked spaghetti and toss to coat. Toss in the Parmesan cheese as well. Serve with more Parmesan on top if desired.

TIP: If pasta seems a little dry, toss in a bit more olive oil or some butter. Mmmmm! Also, if you want a stronger garlic flavor, add some minced garlic to your veggies toward the end of their cooking time. A clove or two would be perfect!


Sweet Potato and Quinoa Cakes

I've seen several recipes for these LITTLE "cakes" on Pinterest, so I finally broke down and tried my own version. They were so EASY to put together, and the kiddos thought they were pretty TASTY too. I was happy because combined with veggies on the side, they made a really yummy and HEALTHY meal!

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Cakes
1/3 large sweet onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon thyme (fresh or dried!)
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
2 cups cooked quinoa

In a frying pan, sauté the onions in the olive oil until tender and slightly browned. Stir in the garlic and thyme when the onions are almost done.

In a bowl, combine the onions, sweet potatoes, and quinoa. Form into small patties and then cook in frying pan with a touch of butter until browned on both sides. Serve warm.

TIP: I topped mine with a dollop of sour cream and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, but they were wonderful without as well!


Roasted Lemon Brussels Sprouts

I'm always looking for new ways to prepare VEGGIES, and this one turned out pretty tasty! They were very SIMPLE, and super REFRESHING. I will definitely make this again. And again. And again. :)

Roasted Lemon Brussels Sprouts
Olive oil
Brussels Sprouts (as many as you need!)
1 lemon
Kosher salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat a 9 x 13-inch pan with olive oil; set aside.

Prepare Brussels sprouts by removing and discarding the stems. If they are large, halve or quarter them. Spread Brussels sprouts in prepared pan and then zest and juice the lemon over top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat in pan. Drizzle with a touch more olive oil if desired or needed. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until desired doneness is reached—like when you can pierce one easily with a fork. (I however like nice and brown edges!)

TIP: Another great addition to this recipe would be garlic!


Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies

We love those yummy CHOCOLATE cookies topped with marshmallows that Martha Stewart does, so when I saw this recipe on the blog Our Best Bites, I knew I had to try their VERSION. They did not disappoint! Luckily I had neighbors to SHARE them with, otherwise I would have eaten the ENTIRE batch myself. (Well, I might have given a few to the kiddos . . . maybe.)

Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies
(Recipe adapted from Our Best Bites)

1 chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening
2 eggs
12 large marshmallows
1/2 cup melted butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 pound powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the cake mix, shortening, and eggs until well combined. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and bake on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat for about 8 to 10 minutes. While the cookies are baking, cut the marshmallows in half. When the cookies are done, remove from the oven and put a marshmallow half, cut side down, on top and return to the oven for a minute or two, or until the marshmallow puffs up. Remove from oven and gently push each marshmallow down and let cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat all of the ingredients together until smooth, light, and fluffy. Pipe over the marshmallows using a large tip. Makes 24 cookies.


Honey Garlic Chicken

I'm always looking for EASY recipes that only take a minute or two to throw in the CROCKPOT. This is one of those recipes! It's sweet and TANGY and is perfectly rounded out with some rice and your FAVORITE veggie.

Honey Garlic Chicken
8 to 10 chicken tenders
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
Chili pepper flakes (several good dashes)
Black pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Place the chicken and onion in a crockpot sprayed with nonstick spray. In a bowl mix together the honey, oil, soy sauce, ketchup, and seasoning until smooth and then pour over the chicken and onions. Cook on low heat for 6 hours or high heat for 3 hours. Remove chicken with a fork to a plate and set aside. In an airtight container, shake together the cornstarch and water until thoroughly mixed and then stir into liquid in the crockpot. Shred chicken on the plate using 2 forks and then put back into the sauce. Let cook another 30 minutes and then serve over rice.

TIP: Garnish with chopped parsley and toasted sesame seeds for some extra color. You can also add sesame seeds and/or a dash of sesame oil to the mix before cooking for a little different taste.


Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

I've really liked exploring and trying different COOKIE options lately. These little guys are both SWEET and SALTY, and the combination is pretty fabulous. If you are like me, these chewy treats will totally satisfy every CRAVING you are currently having. I promise!

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies 
(adapted from Lovin' From the Oven)

1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chips
1/2 cup broken pretzel pieces

In a bowl, beat together the butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips and pretzel pieces. Chill the dough for an hour, or if you are impatient like me, just go for it. Make about 1-inch dough balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

TIP: Don't overcook these! Start watching them around 9 minutes to make sure you pull them out just as the edges turn golden brown.


Southwest Turkey Sliders

I'm a firm BELIEVER that great things come in small packages, and these LITTLE sliders definitely confirm that theory. They are simple to make, HEALTHY to eat, and taste fabulous on the way down. If you like the idea of any of those three things, you will LOVE these! And so will your kids—mini things are just more FUN to eat!

Southwest Turkey Sliders
1/3 onion, chopped (red or sweet)
1/3 red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 green bell pepper chopped
1 pound lean ground turkey
Salt and pepper
Whole wheat dinner rolls
Avocado, thinly sliced
Burger toppers of choice

In a frying pan, sauté the onion and peppers in a splash or two of olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Put the cooked veggies in a bowl with the ground turkey, salt, and pepper, and mix thoroughly with your hands. Use mixture to make about 8 mini patties. Cook patties on a grill or a nonstick frying pan until done. Eat on dinners rolls and top with avocado slices, lettuce, and other favorite burger toppings.

TIP: You can also top the burgers with slices of pepper jack cheese for a gooey kick.


Sweetheart Cake

Several years ago I wrote a cookbook, Easy Cut-Up Cakes for Kids—and it's all about CAKE decorating that's so easy, your kiddos can do it themselves. Well, I can't let VALENTINE'S DAY come and go without sharing this CUTE and easy cake that is in the book. It is such a SWEET little cake and is so fun to have as a YUMMY Valentine's treat to share with your family.

                                                                                                        Photo by Zac Williams

Sweetheart Cake
1 strawberry cake mix
Pink frosting
1 large tube white frosting (or homemade)
Pastel candies, such as M&Ms, Skittles, jelly beans, or gum drops

Make cake according to package directions. Bake cake as directed on box for two pans, using one 8-inch round pan and one 8-inch square pan. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes, and then invert and cool completely on a wire rack.

Place the square cake diagonally on a platter or foil-wrapped board. Cut the round cake in half and the place the cut sides against the top two sides of the square cake to make a heart.

Frost entire cake pink. Outline top edge with white tube frosting (or homemade in a decorator's bag with a star tip). Decorate the cake with pastel candies of your choice. You can use the candies to create flowers as seen in the photo or whatever you prefer. 

TIP: Switch up the color scheme if you don't want a pink cake! Use cherry chip cake mix, frost the cake white, and use red tube frosting and candies. Or again, whatever you prefer.


Salmon Taco Bowls

So I buy fresh SALMON from Costco, and since everything comes in bulk there, it is a rather large fillet. I typically cut it into 2 or 3 PORTIONS and freeze them, but last time I totally forgot and stuck the whole thing in the freezer! This meant I had to thaw the whole darn thing—all 3 pounds of it. So, we had a lot of FISH that week! This was one of my favorite versions and I will definitely be making these YUMMY taco bowls again soon.

Salmon Taco Bowls
1 pound or so of salmon fillet
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Chili powder
Cooked rice
Black beans
Bell peppers, red, green, etc., chopped
Red onion, chopped
Frozen super sweet white corn, warmed through
Shredded cheese
Shredded lettuce
Sour cream

Lightly coat salmon with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Also sprinkle with chili powder and cumin. (You can decide how generous you want to be. More chili powder = more heat!) Cook salmon as desired, either in a frying pan or bake it in the oven. Once it is cool enough to handle, flake it into chunks with a fork.

Layer your tacos in a bowl (or on a plate is fine too!) starting with some cooked rice, the salmon, beans, veggies, cheese, lettuce, cilantro, avocado, and sour cream and salsa if desired.

TIP: Layer in whatever you like on your tacos normally. It'll be good, I promise!