Homemade Basil Butter

Homemade Basil Butter    Some of my favorite things are the simplest, like this basil butter.  I love love love all things basil and practically eat pesto by the spoonful.  I actually bought a basil plant two years ago for the sole purpose of always having fresh basil around.  I have to say, I was so amazed at how well it grows!  Seriously, it grows like a weed and if I forget to water it for too long, it always perks right back up.  It is an insanely low maintenance plant!  Don’t believe me?  There are entire websites devoted to helping you grow basil, but you won’t need the help.  All you need is a sunny window and an occasional watering!Homemade Basil Butter

The cream cheese I added to this basil butter makes it very smooth and spreadable while adding a subtle creamy flavor.  You don’t notice the taste though.  My husband hates (and I mean HATES) cream cheese and he was in love with this butter.  It took everything in us to stop ourselves from eating it all.  Could you imagine eating an entire stick of butter in one sitting?  Ick.  I’m telling you though, this butter will make you want to.Homemade Basil Butter

There’s no such thing as too much garlic in my kitchen, but  if you’re nervous about using raw garlic, you can substitute a bit of garlic powder for fresh or saute the garlic in oil before adding it.  You could also use a couple teaspoons of pesto instead of basil leaves if you want to cut out that step…or you could use pesto and fresh basil.Homemade Basil Butter

I love any kind of flavored butter or spread as an appetizer, especially in spring or summer because it requires no oven use!  This was absolutely mouthwatering topped with a thin slice of feta and a fresh basil leaf.  I plan on generously spreading what is left on a halved french loaf, sprinkling it with shredded parmesan and a little extra garlic, and baking it.  I think it will make the most perfect cheesy basil garlic bread.Homemade Basil Butter

Basil Butter

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 3/4 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 4 Tbsb cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. In a food processor or magic bullet, puree basil leaves and olive oil or finely dice the basil.
  2. Beat butter and cream cheese until incorporated. Mix in pureed basil leaves and remaining ingredients.
  3. Serve immediately or store in the fridge until serving.
http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/05/07/basil-butter/


Mini Grasshopper Cheesecakes

Mini Grasshopper CheesecakesI’ve had mini grasshopper cheesecakes on my mind since I made Oreo cupcakes with an Oreo baked into the center.  I knew I wanted to do something similar with Thin Mints/ Grasshopper cookies but wasn’t sure exactly what.  Then I remembered how much I love cheesecake…the rest was history. Mini Grasshopper CheesecakesAs soon as I started thinking about cheesecake, I remembered a recipe I used years, and I mean YEARS ago, from my parents’ magic bullet manual.  It was surprisingly amazing and I wanted to try it again.  I found the very simple cheesecake recipe on the bullet website, and even though I actually have a magic bullet, I used a mixer and bowl to prepare it.  I added mini chocolate chips, mint extract, and green food coloring to the cheesecake batter.  I finished these beauties off with a generous dollop of chocolate ganache and Andes candies for garnish.  It was absolutely perfect!Mini Grasshopper CheesecakesMint and chocolate go so well together!  It is definitely one of my favorite flavor combination, right up there with salt and caramel.  I absolutely love mint chocolate chip ice cream, Thin Mints, peppermint bark, and I order nothing but peppermint white mochas as soon as they’re available at Starbucks in fall!Mini Grasshopper CheesecakesThese cheesecakes had a great mint flavor and soft texture.  After I took them out of the oven, the center seemed a little darker in color and I was nervous they hadn’t baked completely.  As they cooled, they looked better and once the ganache was on, I tried one and they tasted heavenly!  Yes, I was successful in waiting until the end to dig in for once!  I used paper cupcake liners that are just a tad bit smaller than normal, and the cookie was the perfect size for a crust!Mini Grasshopper Cheesecakes

Mini Grasshopper Cheesecakes

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 30 mini cheesecakes

1 mini cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • green food coloring
  • 30 grasshopper cookies
  • Andes candies for garnish
  • Chocolate Ganache
  • 1 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cream/milk/half and half

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and place a grasshopper cookie at the bottom of each.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until combined. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each. Add peppermint extract and food coloring and mix until evenly distributed. Fold in mini chocolate chips.
  3. Fill paper liners 3/4 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheesecake is set in the center. The edges may brown slightly. Let them cool to room temperature.
  4. For the Chocolate Ganache
  5. Microwave cream and chocolate chips in microwave safe container at 50% power for 30 seconds. Stir and continue to microwave in intervals of 15-30 until almost completely melted, then continue to stir until smooth. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, until it is just about room temperature.
  6. Pour ganache over cooled cheesecakes and let set. Garnish with Andes candies just before the ganache is almost sett. If the ganache is not firm enough, the candies may fall over or move.
http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/05/01/mini-grasshopper-cheesecakes/


Cucumber Tomato Salad

Cucumber Tomato SaladThe weather was so amazing over the past few days; it was perfect for my weekend off of work!  Sunshine and warm temperatures called for a light summery dinner out in the sun.  I whipped up this cucumber tomato salad and enjoyed a lovely dinner on the balcony with my husband.  This is such a quick and simple recipe that you can easily adapt to fit your family’s taste!  I had the Noodles & Co. cucumber tomato salad in mind when I came up with this recipe, and while it is similar in concept, it tastes quite different.  As I always do, I used what I could find in my kitchen and of course I had to add feta; it makes everything better!  Cucumber Tomato Salad

I like to use oil and vinegar to marinade my vegetables because I love the tartness the vegetables have after they’ve been soaking in vinegar.  After marinating, I pour out the excess and toss the vegetables in an Italian vinaigrette for a great flavor boost.  One of my favorites is Kraft’s Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette. You could use a vinaigrette to marinade your veggies for a milder taste or skip the viniagrette altogether and just use oil and vinegar.  You could mix in anything from black or greek olives, to avocado chunks, or even quinoa.

Cucumber Tomato Salad

This recipe is full of my favorite things!  As I said before, I used my favorite vinaigrette, and then grape tomatoes are my favorite tomato, feta is one of my favorite cheeses, and cucumbers are my favorite vegetable.  Speaking of cucumbers, have you ever tried cucumber vodka? I LOVE IT!  It’s so refreshing and crisp mixed with soda water or 7-up.  I’ve had it with cranberry juice too, and while I liked it, my husband did not share my opinion and we agreed it was best served as a cucumber press with half soda water – half 7-up).  The colors in this salad are gorgeous too!  It’s hard to beat garden fresh vegetables with a tangy vinaigrette and a salty bite of feta in my book!

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Yield: 4-5 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 medium cucumbers, roughly peeled and chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/3 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp Italian vinaigrette

Instructions

  1. Mix tomato, cucumber, and onion in a bowl or plastic bag with vinegar, oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Cover and let marinade in refrigerator for a couple hours.
  2. When ready to serve, take the marinading vegetables out of the fridge. You have two options here: you can either pour out the bit of vinegar and oil that is left in the mix first, or just add the vinaigrette and feta and give it a toss.
http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/04/29/cucumber-tomato-salad/

Cake Pops to Celebrate Nature

Celebrate Nature with Cake PopsEveryone loves cake pops!  I think that is a large part of the reason why they’re one of my favorite desserts to make.  I just love when the treats I make are eagerly gobbled up by their happy recipients who barely manage to let out an “ooh, they’re so good” between mouthfuls!  It absolutely makes my day.  If you’ve had one, you can understand how cake pops quickly became popular and so well-loved!  They’re insanely rich and moist, super cute, and are the perfect size for portion control…or at least they can be if you have any sense of self-control and can keep yourself from eating three at a time like I do.  I’d be lying if I said I did not have a cake pop for breakfast today.  I can’t help it, I love them so much!

Earth Day Cake PopsBlue Bird Cake Pops

I’ll use anything as an excuse to whip up an adorable treat, and Earth day was just as good a reason as any to come up with something delicious!  I made little Earth Cake Pops and I couldn’t resist celebrating the long awaited arrival of spring with little blue bird pops!  While on the subject of Earth Day, I  must tell you how much I really love these Earth Day Cupcakes by Bird On A Cake!  They are way too cute!

Celebrate Nature with Cake Pops

Cake pops are so easy to make; all you need is a 9×13 inch cake, some frosting, and candy melts or chocolate chips to coat it.  I usually use a cake mix for convenience and a jar of store-bought frosting because it is so much easier and honestly, you’ll never know the difference!  I’ve done it both ways and they taste amazing either way!  You can even use the bits of leftover cake you slice off when making a layer cake and leftover frosting to make just a few as a treat for yourself!

Earth Day Cake PopsBlue Bird Cake Pops

 

Earth Day Cake Pops

Yield: 48 cake pops

Ingredients

  • 1 9×13 inch cake
  • 3/4 container of frosting
  • 1 package of blue Wilton candy Melts
  • green sugar sprinkles
  • orange sprinkles
  • mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Crumble the cake in a large bowl until no large pieces remain.
  2. Add the frosting and mix with the back of a wooden spoon (or your hands) until combined throughout. The consistency should be such that you can form balls that hold their shape without cracking or crumbling.
  3. For Earth Cake Pops:
  4. Form balls from the mixture with your hands, or use cake pop molds. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes or so to let them firm up.
  5. Melt candy melts according to package directions.
  6. Dip a stick into the candy melts and insert about halfway into cake pop. Let that harden for a minute.
  7. Dip the pop into the candy coating to cover it entirely and let the coating harden.
  8. Use a toothpick dipped in the melted candy coating to draw on the continents, then dip it in (or sprinkle with) the green sprinkles before it dries.
  9. For Blue Bird Cake Pops
  10. Form the shape of the bird bodies from the mixture with your hands and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  11. Insert stick and dip pops in the same way as you for the Earth Cake Pops.
  12. Before the coating has completely hardened, insert the mini chocolate chips as eyes and the orange sprinkle as a beak.
http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/04/23/earth-day-cake-pops/

 

 

Strawberries and Cream Blondies

Strawberries and Cream BlondiesYesterday was not my day.  The first line of this post would have read something cheesy like, “Welcome spring into your home with a pan of delicious strawberries and cream blondies!”  But wouldn’t you know that as I was wrapping the top of my pan in plastic wrap, it slipped from my fingers and I managed to catch it against the cabinet doors with my knees.  It probably would have looked better if I had let it hit the floor.  The gorgeous cheesecake and strawberry swirl was all mushed against the plastic wrap, and as you can imagine, that doesn’t lend to taking beautiful photographs.  I made the best of it by scraping  the smushed mess off the plastic wrap with a butter knife and licking it clean.  It was delicious!  I used some fresh whipped cream to disguise the messiness and who knows, maybe it was my day, afterall!  Anyway…

Strawberries and Cream BlondiesStrawberries and Cream Blondies

Welcome spring into your home with a pan of delicious strawberries and cream blondies!  Seriously, you had better hurry because spring is almost here!  I can tell by the puddles I’ve been jumping over as I walk to my car in the morning.  This morning, the water was actually deeper than the toe of my rain boot.  Spring is all about fun colors, dresses, and fresh fruity flavors.  Last week I even changed all of the scented candles and plugins from my warm winter vanilla scent to a lively citrus – Folks, I am ready!Strawberries and Cream Blondies

This dessert begins as a pan pf strawberry blondies made from a cake mix – simple and delicious.  Throw in in a light cream cheese layer…now we’re talking.  Add a fresh strawberry jam swirl and violà – we have reached perfection!  To be honest, I did not know how it was going to turn out.  I kind of made it up as I went along, adding some of this and that to adjust the batter to be the consistency I thought it should be.  My swirls weren’t the prettiest thing before I put it in the oven, and I was nervous that it would do something weird as it cooked and end up just looking really gross.  It looked great, you know, prior to the aforementioned dropping incident.  I actually think they still look pretty darn tasty with a dollop of whipped cream and a fresh strawberry on top.  They taste even better than they look!

Strawberries and Cream Blondies

The blondie layer is rich and has the texture of a dense cake or a cakey brownie.  The addition of 1/4 cup of homemade strawberry jam to the batter really transformed it to a more natural strawberry taste, as opposed to the strawberry flavoring taste that the cake mix has naturally; it added some lovely color as well.  There isn’t much I can say about the cheesecake layer; it was divine, as all cheesecake is.  The fresh strawberry jam swirled with the cheesecake layer was absolutely heavenly!  All in all, perfect strawberries and cream blondies!  Why yes, I will have a second piece.Strawberries and Cream Blondies

Strawberries and Cream Bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 9x9 pan

Ingredients

    Strawberry Jam:
  • 1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 2-4 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
  • Cheesecake Layer:
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Strawberry Blondies:
  • 1 package strawberry cake mix
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup of prepared strawberry jam
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream or milk

Instructions

    Prepare the Strawberry Jam:
  1. Puree half of the strawberries using a blender or food processor. Add pureed strawberries and remaining sliced strawberries to a large frying pan. Add 2 Tbsp sugar and lemon juice. If you choose not to puree the strawberries, you should add a couple Tbsp water.
  2. Heat on medium heat, and let simmer for about 15 minutes, until it reaches your desired thickness. You can add the remaining sugar if desired, some berries are sweeter than others, so adjust according to your taste.
  3. Let cool completely.
  4. Prepare the Cheesecake Layer:
  5. Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla until combined. Set aside.
  6. Prepare Strawberry Blondies:
  7. Combine cake mix, eggs, and oil in a medium bowl and mix until just combined. Add 1/4 cup of strawberry jam and continue to mix. Add up to 3 tbsp of heavy cream/milk if needed to make the mixture less thick (so it will be spreadable).
  8. Spread batter into a greased 9x9-inch pan.
  9. Spread the cream cheese mixture over top of batter, and spoon the the strawberry jam on top of it. Run a knife through the cream cheese and jam to create a swirl pattern. Try to avoid getting the knife in the blondie batter.
  10. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center come out clean.
http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/04/15/strawberries-and-cream-blondies/


Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

I’ve really been loving cauliflower lately.  When I saw it was on sale last week at my local grocery store, I was all over that!  I debated making a batch of my favorite cheesy cauliflower soup, but knew I should crawl out of my comfort zone and come up with something new.  I decided on a cheesy cauliflower bake.  I wanted it to be super cheesy and creamy in the center with a crispy panko topping.  That is exactly what I got; it was perfect!

Cheesy Cauliflower BakeCheesy Cauliflower Bake

After browsing quite a few recipes for inspiration (on pinterest, of course), I settled on a recipe to use as a template for my delicious creation.  I started with this cheesy cauliflower bake recipe from Mels Kitchen Cafe, added onions, changed out the topping, and made a few other adjustments.

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

I like to use sharper cheeses for dishes like this or homemade mac and cheese; I absolutely love that sharp taste when the cheese is melted.  I used a mix of sharp cheddar and mozzarella (about 1 1/2 c cheddar and 1/2 c mozzarella), because it was what I had in my fridge, but of course, you could use any cheese you like.   I wanted to cut some calories so I stuck with 1% milk for this dish.  You can substitute heavy cream or half and half (or half cream and half stock/broth as Mel did) for the milk, and it might turn out thicker/creamier.  Don’t get me wrong, this cauliflower bake was creamy; but it wasn’t terribly thick.  Overall, I’m super happy with this side dish and will definitely make it again!  It will be perfect for family get-togethers over the holidays or an easy potluck dish!

Cheesy Cauliflower BakeCheesy Cauliflower Bake

 

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 9x13 pan, 10-12 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk, slightly warm
  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheese, divided (I used sharp cheddar + mozzarella)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and flour and cook until golden and fragrant.
  3. Slowly whisk in the milk. Add cauliflower, onions, parsley, mustard, salt, and pepper and stir.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 6-8 minutes, until cauliflower is tender.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese and all of the grated parmesan.
  6. Pour mixture into a 9x13 baking dish and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with remaining cheese and panko breadcrumbs.
  7. Bake an additional 10 minutes until topping is golden brown.

Notes

You may substitute heavy cream or half and half (or half cream and half stock/broth) for the milk to make it thicker.

http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/04/09/cheesy-cauliflower-bake/

Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili

Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili

I had to scrape the frost off of my car windows yesterday morning.  What the heck, spring!? This is just not okay.  To cope with the little bit of a chill that’s been in the air, I made up a big batch of hearty vegetarian chili.  Chili and soup weather is almost out the door (thankfully), so I figured I might as well make the best of it by making (and eating!) lots of warm comfort food, like this creamy potato muhsroom soup and brownie caramel cheesecake.   Okay, maybe brownie caramel cheesecake isn’t soup or chili, but it is definitely comforting!  It wont be long before I can put away the winter coats and wave goodbye to frosty windows, mountains of snow, and that annoying patch of ice in front of my door!Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili

I love this vegetarian chili recipe, and chili/soup recipes in general, because they are so easy to make.  Throw everything in a pot or slow-cooker and let it cook; it doesn’t get too much easier than that!  You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand, or add chicken or beef.  This was the first time I added cinnamon and cocoa powder to chili, and it added a subtle depth to the flavor that really took this recipe to the next level.

Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili

I usually add a box of macaroni noodles when I make this vegetarian chili, but this time I decided not to.  Do you want know what I did instead?  I mixed the leftovers with leftover baked mac and cheese I had in the fridge and packaged it up for the husband and my lunches.  It was super delicious and cheesy!  We all know that mac and cheese doesn’t reheat the greatest and this was the perfect solution!Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili  

Vegetarian Chili

Prep Time: 15 hours

Cook Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 5-7 servings

1 1/2 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 14.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes and juice
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato juice
  • Sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and chopped green onions for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions begin to turn translucent.
  2. Add the onions and garlic to your slow-cooker, followed by the rest of the ingredients and give it all a mix.
  3. Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 7-8 hours.
  4. Spoon into bowls and top with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and green onions.

Notes

You can add the onions and garlic raw if you'd like, the flavor of will be slightly stronger. You can use tomato sauce or stock/broth/water instead of tomato juice; add enough to just cover the vegetables. You could also prepare this on the stove, just cook the onions and garlic in your soup pot, add the remaining ingredients and simmer until vegetables are tender.

http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/04/04/vegetarian-chili/

Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies

Peanut Butter Bird Nest CookiesThese Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies are a dream come true.  I often lie awake at night, tossing and turning for what feels like hours (and sometimes is!) before I am finally able to drift off to sleep.  I have struggled with falling asleep since I was young.  I’m usually thinking about all the things I need to do/want to do/didn’t do or my imagination is running wild thinking of flavor combinations and dessert ideas.  I actually started keeping a notepad on my dresser so I can jot things down so I don’t forget them the next morning.

Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies

These  Bird Nest Cookies were one of those late night ideas that came to me last week.  I was thinking about all the cute little bird nest cookies and desserts I’ve seen lately (like these Bird Nest Cupcakes from Jessiker Bakes), but how I don’t like those crunchy noodles, and how I wanted them to have great texture and my favorite flavors.  It doesn’t get much more delicious than chocolate and peanut butter, does it?  Didn’t think so.  Now throw in some toasted coconut and we’ve got a winner!

Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies

I’ve been wanting to try pudding cookies for some time and these bird nest cookies provided me with the perfect opportunity!  I looked around the internet and came up with a recipe (mostly adapted from these peanut butter cookies).  My first batch didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to; they weren’t as moist or chewy as I wanted so I upped the butter and brown sugar and made another batch.  It was perfect!  You could use your go-to peanut butter cookie recipe or even a store-bought mix.

Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies

I dipped my cookies in semi-sweet chocolate, but I’m sure dark (or milk) chocolate would be heavenly too! I used Reese’s Eggs to add to the peanut butter and chocolate combination, for most of them anyway.  I ran out because I used the same bag for my Loaded White Chocolate Easter Bark, so I used Robin’s Eggs for the rest.  Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies

The result was heavenly!  The cookies were soft and flavorful.  They weren’t super peanut buttery, so you could up that if you want, but if you up it substantially, cut back on the butter a little.  Once they were decorated, they were almost too cute to eat!  Almost being the key word there…I ate a lot of them.Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookieskizmos

Oh and have you heard of Kizmos?  They’re the cutest kitchen utensils I have ever seen, and I was lucky enough to win a set of them from a giveaway by Crazy for Crust a couple months ago!  I never win anything, so this was very exciting!  It was even better because I desperately needed new rubber spatulas – these were amazing!  The tops of the Kizmos spatulas don’t fall off when you’re using them to mix up something really thick; that is awesome!  And aren’t they so adorable?!?  Want to see more of Kizmos?  Like their Facebook page or Follow Kizmos on Pinterest!  Need some for your own kitchen?  I know you do; head over to Pfaltzgraff or Amazon and order whatever utensils you want need!

Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies

Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 package vanilla pudding
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 package of semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 bag shredded sweetened coconut (~2 cups)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pudding mix, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and peanut butter until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla and mix.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture, and continue to mix until incorporated throughout.
  5. Scoop dough by the heaping tablespoon, form into a ball, and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Use a glass to gently flatten each ball. Optional: Use a tablespoon to make a well in each cookie, you could also do this after they have baked.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Toast the coconut:
  8. Spread the coconut flakes on a baking sheet in a single layer.
  9. Bake at 325 for 5-10 minutes. Keep in mind that sweetened coconut flakes will take less time.
  10. To decorate:
  11. Melt chocolate chips and vegetable oil by the method of your choice.
  12. Dip each cooled cookie into the chocolate.
  13. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and place Reese's eggs in the center.
http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/04/01/bird-nest-cookies/

Loaded White Chocolate Easter Bark

Loaded White Chocolate Easter BarkLoaded White Chocolate Easter Bark, yep I’d say that is a very appropriate description of this delicious flavor combination.  Just the thought of white chocolate sprinkled with lots of festive Easter candy and adorable sprinkles (yes, those are little bunny and butterfly sprinkles you see!) makes me drool.  As I always do, I stuffed my face full of it for a day, then had to send it to work with the husband.  Oh how I missed it the second it walked out the door.

Loaded White Chocolate Easter Bark

I love bark for so many reasons.  Let’s start with an obvious one: it is SUPER easy to make!  When a recipe is as simple as melting chocolate and spreading it out over waxed paper, it is (near) impossible to screw up!  This leads almost directly to the next reason: time.  It takes less than ten minutes (closer to five minutes really) to prepare your bark, and you can pop it in the fridge to let it harden if you’re really tight on time.  Do be careful though, refrigerating/freezing chocolate can cause it to turn white.  It’s called bloom and while it is okay to consume (within expiration), it does not look pretty at all!

Loaded White Chocolate Easter Bark

Bark is so simple; it’s just chocolate or whatever type of candy/chips you choose to melt (almond bark, candy melts, etc.), which makes it pretty universally appealing.  It is not impossible that someone will dislike it though, says the wife of someone who doesn’t particularly like chocolate or dessert in general *gasp!* and who did not care for my Leprechaun Bark.  He did, however, did like this Easter bark and said it reminded him of frosted animal crackers!

Loaded White Chocolate Easter Bark

The sky is the limit with bark; you can use ANYTHING!  Mix in candy, pretzels, crushed cookies, sprinkles, or whatever your imagination can come up with.   Regardless of what you add to it, you will get a wonderful treat that takes no time to make, can be dressed up for any occasion, and will likely be a hit with everyone eating it.  That, my friends, is what I call perfection, or at least pretty darn close!

Loaded White Chocolate Easter BarkLoaded White Chocolate Easter Bark

This Easter bark is perfectly festive and so easy to whip up if you’re short on time.  I used Reese’s eggs, milk chocolate m&ms and Robins eggs, but like I said before, the sky is the limit!  The swirling on my bark is not incredibly noticeable and that is because my chocolate and candy coating were still a little warm when I poured and swirled them.  If you let them cool to room temperature, the colors will not blend together as much.   I’ve already been dreaming up the next bark I want to make and it will definitely involve chocolate and peanut butter.

Loaded White Chocolate Easter Bark

Easter Bark

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 package white chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup pink candy melts
  • sprinkles and candy for decorating

Instructions

  1. Melt the chocolate chips with 1 tsp vegetable oil using the method of your choice. Separately, melt the candy melts. Let each cool until they are just about room temperature.
  2. Spread the white chocolate over a layer of wax paper as thick or thin as you'd like and then spoon or drizzle the melted candy coating over the top. Use a fork/spoon/spatula to swirl the colors together.
  3. Sprinkle with candy and sprinkles and let it harden completely.
  4. Break or cut into bite-sized pieces and serve.
http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/03/27/easter-bark/

Spring Fever Sugar Cookie Bars

Spring Fever Sugar Cookie BarsI’ve got spring fever and I’ve got it bad.  I’ve had enough snow, enough cold, enough frosty car windows when I leave for work in the morning – enough already!  I even wore a dress last week because it was just above 40 (I’m not completely crazy, I had leggings on, too).  I’m not sure 40 degrees should be considered dress weather, but it needed to happen of I might have completely lost it.  Let me tell you though, I heard lots of birds chirping today, and I’m going to take that as an indication of warmer weather in my (hopefully immediate) future.  Until then, here’s a treat filled with fun pastel colors and deliciousness that will help satisfy your spring cravings.

Spring Fever Sugar Cookie BarsSpring Fever Sugar Cookie Bars

These sugar cookie bars are fabulous and would be a perfect treat to make for Easter.  The recipe uses a sugar cookie mix as a base (Cheating, I know, but I made this with my two nieces, so anything to make it go a little more smoothly is nice).  Let’s be honest, we all need quick and easy recipes and it IS forgiveable to use premade mixes sometimes.  Don’t like store-bought?  Easy solution: homemade cookie mixes and make your own bulk baking mixes  (FYI I haven’t used the cookie mix recipe, but it looks promising.)

Spring Fever Sugar Cookie Bars

I adapted this Cran-Pistachio cookie recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything.  That might seem odd, but I wanted to add pudding to make it a little softer, and I liked the additional flour and egg, anything to make them a little fuller in the pan.  You could use your favorite sugar cookie recipe and press it into a pan, or use just the mix and follow the directions on the package, as well.

Spring Fever Sugar Cookie Bars

On a separate note, did you hear about google reader?  I’m sure you did.  When I first decided to use a reader, it was an easy decision to go with google reader.  I already had a gmail, so NO extra work signing up or creating a profile, just one click…I call that a success.  I was happy with the layout and function of it, so everything was good!  When I found out it would no longer be available in a few months, I was  disappointed, but still eager to check out other options.  I’ve heard a lot of about Bloglovin, especially lately with the news about google reader, and decided to give it a shot.   Well, I love it!  My favorite aspect is that it displays an excerpt from each post (rather than the whole post), so you can quickly and easily scroll through new posts.  If you will be in the market for a new reader in a few months or are just curious, I urge you to check out Bloglovin!

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Spring Fever Sugar Cookie Bars

Sugar Cookie Bars

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 9x13 pan

Ingredients

  • 1 17.5 oz pouch Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
  • 1 3.5 oz box vanilla pudding
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
  • sprinkles and m&ms for decorating, as much or as little as you want

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9x13 in baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar cookie mix, pudding, and flour. Add the melted butter and eggs and mix until incorporated. A wooden spoon works very well, an electric mixer risks over-mixing. Fold in the white chocolate chips.
  3. Place sugar cookie mix in greased pan and use a spatula to spread it out. Sprinkle with m&ms. I used both milk chocolate and peanut butter Easter m&ms.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, being careful not to overbake. Let cool completely before serving (if you can!)
http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/03/25/spring-fever-sugar-cookie-bars/