Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dark Chocolate M & M Sprinkle Cookies

I love that M & M's come in so many different flavors now. My favorite is dark chocolate.  Now they need to make a dark chocolate peanut version. These cookies would put anyone in a good mood.  Sprinkles and M & M's in one cookie is perfection. We will be celebrating a 30th birthday this weekend with my niece who is over 8 months pregnant and will be having a beautiful baby girl very soon.  These cookies were adapted from back of the package of M & M's.  Enjoy your weekend!!  

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 12 oz package dark chocolate M & M's
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl mix butter with both sugars until combined.  Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
Slowly add flour, baking soda and salt and stir until all ingredients are combined.
Fold in 12 oz bag of dark chocolate M & M's and sprinkles.  Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Drop dough by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 8 minutes for chewy cookies or 10-12 minutes for crispy cookies.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Biscoff Brown Sugar Bars w/Cookie & Cocoa Swirl Topping

It's the middle of July already. YIKES!  Slow down summer please!  This month's Secret Recipe Club assignment is Little Bit Of Everything. She is a midwestern woman who is in her 50's like me who likes to cook and travel and save spoons like my grandma used to do.  She has a bunch of great recipes but desserts are usually what catch my eye and this one did because of the Biscoff spread in the recipe. I topped them with a little of Trader Joe's Cookie & Cocoa Swirl to give them just a touch of chocolate flavor.  I always like to add chocolate in somewhere if possible.        

Ingredients for Biscoff Brown Sugar Bars:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt

3 large eggs
1-1/4 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup biscoff spread
1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup Trader Joe's Cookie & Cocoa swirl

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine crust ingredients on medium speed just until mixture is evenly mixed and moist.

Spoon into an 8 x 8 pan that has been sprayed with PAM.  Press mixture onto bottom of pan in an even layer. Press into pan with fingers.  Wet fingers if mixture is too sticky.  Prick uncooked crust 6-8 times with a fork than bake until golden brown around the edges about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile beat the eggs, 1-1/4 cup light brown sugar, biscoff spread and all purpose flour on medium speed until smooth.

When crust is done pour the mixture evenly over the crust and bake for another 30 minutes or until middle is set.

Cool completely.  Cut into squares.

Microwave 1/2 cup of the cookie and cocoa swirl spread if desired for 30 seconds.  Spread on top of each bar and let the topping set before handling.  You can sprinkle each bar with powdered sugar instead if you desire.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Greek Orzo Salad

I love the Greek flavor profile and always need my fix regularly. Luckily a few weeks ago our local Greek Orthodox church had a festival which I attended to get us food two days in a row. Last week, I decided it was again time to ind luge in some classic Greek flavors so I threw together this orzo salad. I always love how the perfect bite has all different tastes and textures. The cool cucumber with the juicy tomato, the saltiness from the olives and the creaminess from the Feta cheese!! John and I had it for dinner with some grilled shrimp and chicken which made for a light and summery dinner. It also would be great as a side dish for a BBQ with your burgers and dogs.

1/2 Box Orzo (About 1 1/4 cups)
1 Large Red Pepper - Diced
1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes - Halved
1 Large Cucumber - Peeled, Seeded & Diced
1 Cup Kalamata Olives - Pitted & Halved
12 oz Reduced Fat Crumbled Feta Cheese
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Minced Fresh Oregano
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Pepper

Adapted from - Christine's Yellow Kitchen

Start by bringing a pot of salted water up to a boil for the orzo and cook it according to the package. Drain the pasta and let it cool. While the pasta is cooking and cooling you can prep your veggies. Peel, seed and dice your cucumber, dice your tomatoes and dice up your peppers. The olives I bought were already pitted and sliced, I rinsed them off a bit so they wouldn't be overly salty. Put all of the vegetables in a very large bowl. Set aside.
Now it's time to make your dressing for the salad which is just a basic red wine vinaigrette. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. If you don't have fresh oregano on hand it is perfectly fine to use dried oregano instead, use 3/4 Tsp. Set aside.
Once the pasta has cooled completely add it to the big bowl of vegetables and stir to combine. Pour the vinaigrette over top and toss so that it has covered everything completely. Allow the salad to sit in the in the fridge for a few hours before serving. Since we had this for dinner with grilled shrimp and chicken we just topped our bowls with the crumbled feta cheese before we ate but if I was serving this as a salad I would mix in the feta right before serving and leave a little to sprinkle on the top.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

July 4th Recipe Round-Up

With the 4th of July only a few days away we know many of you will be having BBQ's, traveling to parties or going down the shore to enjoy the beach and maybe some fireworks. With that in mind we put together a bunch of our favorite recipes that could help you celebrate the 4th. Below you will find a mix of fruity desserts, different kinds of salads and slaw as well as a few options for your grill.
Ahhh the summer!! It's finally in full swing and we are enjoying every possible moment of warm weather and sunshine. We spent this past weekend down the shore and had three perfect beach days in a row. Last night my parents and I took Owen to the beach to show him how to fly a kite. He loved watching it flutter in the sky. It was such a beautiful night with the sun setting and the waves crashing onto the shore.

Broccoli Grape Pasta Salad

Summer Green Bean Salad

We hope that all of you have a great week celebrating our nations holiday with your friends and family!! Have fun & Be Safe!!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summertime Cherry Tomato Pasta

This dish is so easy to make.  By the time your pasta is done cooking, your sauce is done.  Its light and fresh and summery and I can't wait to make it next time with cherry tomatoes from our garden.  This recipe is from Coastal Living Magazine, Sept 2013.

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 container red cherry tomatoes halved if large
1 container yellow cherry tomatoes halved if large
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 lb thin spagetti cooked
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to box.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook stirring constantly 1-2 minutes.  Add tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Cook stirring constantly for 5 minutes.  If tomatoes stay whole during cooking pierce with a knife to break and allow juices to escape.  Remove from heat and stir in basil.

Divide pasta among serving bowls.  Top with cherry tomato sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Wonderful Wednesday #79

Hi there and welcome to our party!
Our blog hop reached another all-time high last week: 359 links!!! So many great shares: recipes, DIY projects, crafts, blogging tips, kids activities, decorating reveals, crochet and MORE! And you viewed them A LOT! The more views, the greater success for everybody. We LOVE it!!!

Our most viewed post truly was the MOST viewed of any post on any party we've hosted!!! Ocean Exploration Finger Puppets got 22 views! Now, that may not sound like a lot but her post was number 355 at the party. She was a "late-comer" and still got the most views! WOW!!! This is a blogging land of opportunity. (Now remember, getting viewed is just the beginning. Views lead to pins, likes, follows, comments, shares. And, it gets a feature on the next party that will lead to more of the same!)

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Editor's Pick
Not Your Typical Strawberry Shortcake from Organizer By Day

Our last feature for the month are these Nutella Banana Cinnamon Rolls from Jamie over at Love Bakes Good Cakes. I love cinnamon rolls for breakfast but they are so much work and the store bought ones in the can just can't compare to something homemade. These look delicious, I wish I had one tomorrow morning to go with my coffee!!!

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