French Vanilla Rice Krispies Treat Pops

French Vanilla Rice Krispies Treat PopsIt’s almost July 4th!  I won’t be able to do much celebrating this year because I’ll be working all night, but that didn’t stop me from whipping up some French Vanilla Cake Batter Rice Krispies Pops!  Everything is better in ‘pop’ form, and that includes these festive rice krispies treats!  French Vanilla Rice Krispies Pops

I never used to get very excited about the Fourth of July.  My dad was always big into fireworks, so watching them was nothing too out of the ordinary and I think I was always to young to understand the feeling of patriotism and togetherness that I now love about it.  I sure wish I was able to be a part of it all this year, but oh well, there’s always next year!French Vanilla Rice Krispies Pops

I don’t know what it is about rice krispies treats, but I love  them so much!  I usually steer away from desserts that are so sweet…okay maybe I don’t steer away from them, but I’d choose something a little more ‘homemade’.  Not rice krispies treats though, I can eat them by the pan.  Seriously, the genius that came up with Rice Krispies Treats is just that, a genius!  I love how adaptable the recipe is.  You can mix in candy, flavoring, or use fun flavored marshmallows.  I always add sprinkles.  Always.  French Vanilla Rice Krispies Pops

I used my Cake Batter Rice Krispies Treats as inspiration, but used french vanilla cake mix because it was what I had on hand.  If you use yellow cake mix instead, you will get a much more distinct cake batter flavor.  I added lollipop sticks, drizzled them with  red, white, and blue candy melts and voilà!  A perfect Fourth of July treat!French Vanilla Rice Krispies Pops

French Vanilla Rice Krispies Treats

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 10-12 pops

1 pop


  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup french vanilla cake mix
  • 4 1/2 cups crisped rice cereal
  • 3 Tbsp sprinkles
  • lollipop sticks
  • candy melts or melted chocolate for decorating


  1. Line a 9x13 in baking dish with waxed paper.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir continuously until melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Add cake mix and stir until no clumps remain.
  4. Add the cereal and stir to evenly coat. Add sprinkles and keep stirring until distributed throughout.
  5. Use buttered hands or a piece of waxed paper to press the mixture into prepared 9x13 inch pan. It's okay if the mixture doesn't spread all the way to the ends of the pan, just try to get a level surface. Let them cool.
  6. Use a buttered cookie cutter to cut shapes out. You can smush the scraps together and use them to cut more shapes.
  7. Melt candy melts according to package directions. Dip lollipop stick into candy melts and insert into rice krispies treat and let it harden.
  8. Drizzle with or dip them in melted candy melts to decorate.

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


  • 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


  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.

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


  • 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


  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.


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.

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


  • 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


  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!)

Lentil Soup with Mustard Greens

lentilsoupIf you’ve seen my recent posts, you know that the amount of treats coming out of my kitchen over the past few weeks is completely unnecessary.  I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed it, but  I have to make up for that unhealthy eating.  There’s no better way than with this great lentil soup, loaded with some of my favorite vegetables and mustard greens for a nutritional boost.  It turned out great, mild in flavor, with just the right ratio of broth to vegetable.  That said, I like a broth-y soup, but you could always reduce the liquid if you wanted it to be heartier.Lentil Soup with Mustard GreensLentil Soup with Mustard GreensLentil Soup with Mustard Greens

Lentil Soup with Mustard Greens:

Yield: 8-10 servings / Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 45-60 minutes

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 3/4 cup dried lentils, rinsed
  • 9 cups water or stock
  • 4 cups mustard greens, stemmed and torn
  1. Heat olive oil in your soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until onions are translucent (~5 minuties).
  2. Add water and the remaining ingredients to the pot.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
  4. Simmer for 30-35 minutes, until lentils are tender.

Notes:  You can use stock/broth instead of water, I wanted a milder taste, so I stuck with water.  You can also reduce the water down to 7 cups if you like a heartier soup versus a brothy soup.  This recipe makes a lot of soup, but it freezes well, and can be kept up to two months in the freezer.  You can freeze it in an airtight tupperware, plastic bags, or mason jars.  Make sure that if you use a jar, you let it first cool in the fridge (if you cool glass too rapidly, it can break).Lentil Soup with Mustard Greens

Valentine’s Day Breakfast – Egg in a Basket

Valentine's Egg in a BasketEggs in a Basket are pretty high on my list of favorite breakfast foods.  And I Really love breakfast, so that’s saying something.  To add a festive twist to this otherwise very ordinary breakfast, I used a heart cookie cutter to cut the center of the bread out.  My heart isn’t as noticeable when cooked because the bread slid a little bit when I flipped it, but I promise it was there, see?

Valentine's Egg in a Basket

Valentine's Egg in a Basket

This really is so simple to make, just butter a pan and turn it to medium heat.  Cut a hole in a slice of bread with a cookie cutter, glass, jar, or even tear it.  You can cook it sunny side up if you’d like, just brown the bread on one side for a couple minutes, then flip it, and crack an egg into it.  Cover and let cook until it is done.  I prefer cracking the egg into the bread right away, cooking it on one side for a couple minutes, flipping it, and cooking the other side.

Valentine's Egg in a Basket

Cucumber Tomato Feta Pasta Salad

Don’t get me wrong, I love living in Wisconsin – really, I do! –  but sometimes, the cold weather is just a little too…cold.  To take my mind off of the frigid temperature outside, I cranked up the heat and whipped up a nice summery pasta salad!

Cucumber Tomato Feta Pasta Salad

  • 2-3 cups cooked pasta
  • 1/2 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 1/4-1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • pinch dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp Basil Parmesan Vinaigrette Dressing (or any vinaigrette or none and up the olive oil/vinegar)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp vinegar (any kind, but I used white)
  1. Combine the vegetables and pasta and mix.
  2. Add the seasonings, vinaigrette, olive oil, and 1 Tbsp vinegar and mix to distribute evenly.
  3. Give it a try and add vinegar or additional seasonings to your taste.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour and a half.
  5. Serve!

Cheesy Orzo with Broccoli

Cheesy Orzo with Broccoli via elisebakesI love orzo.  I love it even more when it’s smothered in cheese.  This was an easy and delicious dish that I see reappearing on my table in my future, maybe with some more vegetables thrown in.

Cheesy Orzo with Broccoli via elisebakesCheesy Orzo with Broccoli (serves ~3)

  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ~1 1/2 cups frozen broccoli cuts, thawed
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used colby jack)
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring a pot of water and sea salt to boiling.  Add orzo and cook for 5 minutes.  Add broccoli cuts and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until orzo is tender.
  2. Drain thoroughly.
  3. To the now empty pot, add butter and heavy cream.  When butter is melted, add cheeses and orzo/broccoli mixture and mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste and additional cream (or milk) if necessary.Cheesy Orzo with Broccoli via elisebakes

Easy 3-Step French Loaf

 French Loaf via elisebakesI whipped up a loaf of this French bread a couple nights ago; it was delicious! It had a light, crispy crust and tender inside.  It was really big, so you could half it or divide it into two loaves (even three) if you wanted!  On top of that, it was so easy to make – just three steps!.  If you don’t have a breadmaker and want to prepare this traditionally, well then it becomes a bit less simple. French Loaf via elisebakes
 French Loaf via elisebakesEasy French Loaf (from French Loaf via elisebakes

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or 1 1/2 tsp fast rising yeast)
  1. Place ingredients in bread machine in the order called for by breadmaker instruction booklet (water on bottom, then dry ingredients, yeast sprinkled on top). Set for dough.
  2. Remove dough and form into loaf on floured surface without punching down.  Placed on greased cookie sheet (or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper) and allow to rise 1 hour.
  3. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350. French Loaf via elisebakes

Wondering what that yummy pasta you see up there is?  It’s homemade alfredo sauce tossed with sauteed garlic and tomatoes..delicious!

Simple Creamy Alfredo Sauce

Creamy Alfredo via elisebakesI found this alfredo recipe from My Simple Blessed Life and was intrigued by the use of cream cheese; I’ve never seen that before so I had to give it a shot (I added a little nutmeg too).  It was great; thick and creamy, as it should be!  I will say that it didn’t taste like a traditional alfredo, but a perfectly wonderful cream sauce.  I served the sauce over spaghetti with homemade garlic breadsticks.  It was incredibly easy to make and I will definitely make it again, I think as a base for a mushroom cream pasta dish!  I cooked up some garlic and tomatoes and tossed it with the leftovers, which was fabulous as well.  Creamy Alfredo via elisebakes

Creamy Alfredo (serves 4)Creamy Alfredo via elisebakes

  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • pinch of salt, pepper, and nutmeg
  1. Heat the cream cheese until it just begins to melt, then add the butter.  Once the butter has melted, mix them up a little bit.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with a whisk.
  3. Allow mixture to boil for 2-3 minutes with constant stirring, then reduce heat to medium-low.
  4. Cook for 5-7, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove from heat when it is slightly thinner than you’d like it to be; it will thicken up as it cools.