No Bake Trail Mix Bites


I saw this recipe in the May 2015 Rachael Ray Magazine. I immediately knew this would be something my daughter would love doing with me and I had almost everything I needed to make them. Who doesn’t love a healthy no bake treat!

The original recipe called for peanuts, but I didn’t have them, so I subbed almonds instead. You could also sub a different nut butter or a different dried fruit.

Ruby and her friend had fun helping dump the ingredients into the food processor and rolling them in the coconut. They wouldn’t even look up for a picture!



You’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/4 toasted wheat germ (usually found with the cereal at the store)
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined.

Pour into a bowl and stir in the chocolate chips and cranberries.

Roll into balls and then roll the balls in the shredded coconut. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Buon appetito!

Creamy Pesto Pasta

I am all for flavor packed dishes. They’re even better when their easy & full of flavor. This recipe is one I’ve been working on for a while and I think it’s ready to share. Pesto is one of my favorite flavor combinations – herbs, pine nuts, olive oil, parmesan cheese – yum! I love the Penne Basilica at Buca di Beppo – and this is my version.

It took me a while to find the perfect AND easy creamy element – I tried sour cream, thinned cream cheese, heavy cream…each had their own ups but also just as many downsides. And then…I found it! Philadelphia Cooking Creme. They have a few different flavors – so far I’ve tried the Santa Fe Blend and the Original flavors. It has all of the benefits of sour cream, but you don’t have to worry about it doing strange things when you heat it.

This recipe is also very customizable! You can change the veggies, add no veggies, add chicken or even sausage. It can be a main course or a side dish. You could even make your own pesto or use a different flavor pesto – red pepper would be lovely!


Homemade Vanilla Extract

Ok, so we’re back! I have missed y’all! For those of you who don’t know, I’m 21 weeks pregnant. I’m finally past the point where food doesn’t sound good and I have a little bit more time now to get back to my blog.

Each year my husband and I like to do some sort of homemade gift for Christmas. Whether it’s brownies, biscotti, or this vanilla – it just makes it more personal. We did this two years ago – and I know what you’re thinking, uh…Christmas is over! Yes, but I wanted to share this with you because now that I’ve used this vanilla, I don’t know if I can ever go back to the store bought stuff!


Beef Tacos

This is my second taco post and one we enjoy it at least once every 6 weeks or so. I often say that Mexican food, like Italian food, is much of the same ingredients put together in different ways. This taco meat is a good base recipe to use in tacos, quesadillas, or even nachos. And I’ll even use it in a Mexican Lasagna next week.

I came up with this recipe to stop having to buy the packets of taco seasoning. I love pre-made things like that in a pinch, but why not come up with my own seasoning blend so I know what’s in it! I make once recipe of this and it lasts my husband and I all week. The beans and corn make this an even more affordable meal and stretch the taco filling. In fact, sometimes it will last more than one week, in which even I re-mold it into a casserole of some sort the next week.


Donut Muffins

I love tradition and the holidays. I especially care for the two put together. Every year, my husband and I make some sort of homemade Christmas gift for friends and family. Two years ago, we did a box of baked goods with hazelnut biscotti, brownies, and peanut butter kiss cookies. Last year we made homemade vanilla extract (which I’ll share with you soon!). So when we were walking to check out at the grocery store and I saw a Better Homes and Gardens Food Gifts magazine, I might’ve thrown a fit if my husband wouldn’t let me get it. I think he knew this and actually gave in pretty quickly!

There are some great recipes in this magazine and some very creative ways of wrapping food gifts. I was thumbing through it and saw this recipe for Donut Muffins. My husband loves donuts almost as much as he loves ice cream (he might trade me in for a gallon depending on the day!). I enjoy donuts every once in a while, but am not a huge fan of cooking anything where I have to bring out a huge pot of oil. Granted, there are sometimes that this is necessary, but those are very rare. This is the perfect substitute and they’re very scrumptious! This is a good recipe to have on hand if you happen to have visitors at breakfast, brunch, or snack time and they don’t give you much warning.


Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Ok, so just think about this combination: steak, peppers, onions, cheese, and a hoagie roll. Pretty much any way you combine those things, you’re going to get something yummy. This is my version of a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich. I won’t call it that, since it’s not an exact replica. I love this recipe, because it comes together in about 30 minutes.

This is a good recipe to have when you buy a family-size pack of steak that comes with 6 steaks…what do you do with the leftover 2 after you feed your family of 4? Make cheesesteak sandwiches of course!! Most of the ingredients for this are things you probably already have in your fridge and pantry. You could also put these in a grilled cheese if you don’t have the rolls.


Italian Meatballs

Who doesn’t love meatballs? They’re good with spaghetti, in a panini with some melted mozzarella, or in the middle of the night when you sneak one from the fridge…oh wait, is that just me? Anyway, meatballs are one of those quintessential Italian recipes and everyone has their own. This is my version of my grandparents’ recipe. I remember helping mix and roll them out when I was a kid. We’d dump them in the Sunday Gravy with the italian sausage once they were cooked and it would simmer on the stove all day until dinner. Yum!

Meatballs are great to get kids involved! They can help mix and then help roll them. I think the more you get them in the kitchen, the more they’ll appreciate the food they’re eating.


Raspberry Sauce

This recipe will complete the White Chocolate Layer Cake and Vanilla Buttercream Frosting from this week. For those of you who missed it, the cake was for a family birthday dinner complete with some of my favorite foods – breaded chicken, stuffed artichokes, and a gorgeous salad! I brought the cake from this week with this sauce and everyone loved it!

Spoon a bit of this on the bottom a plate and top with a slice of the cake – you’re guests will be in heaven! You can also double the cornstarch in this and it would make a great raspberry filling in between a layer cake or in the middle of some cupcakes!


Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

There’s the big reveal! This is what the final cake turned out looking like. It also tasted great and I bet I could’ve gotten away with not telling them it was from a mix. But hey, like I said on Monday, sometimes shortcuts are worth taking.

This is a pretty simple buttercream frosting – not extremely sweet, but just sweet enough. I’m not a big fan of frostings that come in a can (accidental rhyme!), so this is a good basic recipe to have on hand. This one also came from the Cake Mix Doctor – she rocks!


White Chocolate Layer Cake

Where to begin? Well, baking has been my favorite part of cooking as long as I can remember. Every holiday or family get together, my name is under some sort of dessert. So when we were getting together for my Aunt and Cousin-in-law’s birthday this past weekend – I was given my marching orders! A simple white chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and a raspberry sauce on the side. I searched high and low for a recipe that would live up to my expectations and was almost at my whits end when it came to me – the Cake Mix Doctor!

I’m all for making things from scratch, but when you’ve got a shortcut sometimes it’s worth taking it. I remember first seeing the Cake Mix Doctor in one of my Mom’s cookbooks and I loved the idea. You can spend the extra time decorating the cake to help with the eye appeal and still lose none of the flavor and goodness! This recipe is from her Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor book, but I scaled the cooking time for a layer cake. In fact, you don’t have to tell anyone this is a cake mix recipe if you don’t want to. Your secret is safe with me!