M&M Holiday Cookies


I used to make these all the time, I don’t know why it’s been a good year or so since I last made them.  It’s been a pretty busy holiday season: lots of holiday parties, birthday parties, a quick trip to Hawaii, upcoming holiday travel preparations, and other general life going-on’s, that I realized I needed an easy, reliable, and festive holiday cookie. Cue: The One and Only M&M Holiday Cookie!

I’ve had this recipe for so many years that I don’t even recall where I got it.  However, it’s a tried and true staple in my book, tested time and time again. I make them during Valentine’s Day with the pink, white, reddish colored M&M’s, on St. Patrick’s Day with green M&M’s, and even with your boring, everyday colored M&M’s when needed.  If you scoop the dough out in 1 tablespoon scoops, as I do, you end up with a solid 36 cookies. In our house, that means there’s plenty for us, and even more left over to share with the sweet neighbors who live in our little court with us. Merry Christmas!



  • 2 cups plus 2 tblsps all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 12 tblsps salted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 white sugar
  • 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1 cup M&M’s, I used Christmas colors on these


Preheat oven to 375 and place rack on upper third of the oven.

  1. Mix the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and all the sugars until they are thoroughly combined.
  3. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Stir until mixed together.
  4. Gradually add the flour and mix until a dough forms.  You may want to use your hands to bring it all together, because it tends be a little crumbly.
  5. Fold in the M&M’s.
  6. Scoop about a tablespoon of dough out at a time and roll into balls, place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  7. Bake for about 10 minutes.  I know to take them out when the edges are just barely beginning to turn brown.
  8. Let cool and enjoy!


  • This a cookie that I personally prefer slightly undercooked, and that 10 minutes at 375 in the upper third of the oven does the trick!
  • Also, these cookies are so forgiving! You can melt the butter low and slow in a pan, in the microwave on high, in the microwave on low where you still have chunks of whole butter and it will come out the same, every time.





Happy Little Monster Treats


It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I am a fan of rice krispie treats.  They’re so easy to make, cut into shapes, turn into all kinds of colors, and kids typically love them.  This particular rice krispie treat first came up on my Facebook feed late one night in September, and I knew I had to make them!

Little did I know, that in total, I would make close to 100 of these little happy monsters!  I’ve come to call them “Happy Little Monsters” because I find they put a smile on most people’s face 😉 We gave them to friends, family, and neighbors.  I made most of them for Jack’s pre school Halloween Party, and wrapped them in these cellophane bags with crinkle paper and a trick or treat tag.  They were pretty cute, and every now and then you could follow a trail of crinkle paper to the child who was eating his or her treat on the go.

It’s been quite fun making these festive treat throughout the month.  Spreading the colored spread, placing the eyeballs, even making the stamped “trick or treat” tags keeps me entertained as I sit next to Chris, while he watches whatever sports game is on tv that particular night after the kids have gone to bed.




  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 10oz bag of marshmallows
  • 6 cups of Rice Krispies
  • ChocoMaker Candy Wafers, choice of color
  • Candy eyes


Rice Krispie Treats:

  1. In a pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Add milk, vanilla extract and marshmallows. Allow the marshmallows to melt over low heat.  Don’t let the marshmallows burn, keep your heat on low and stir often.
  2. While they melt, prepare a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper along the bottom.
  3. Once the marshmallows are melted, remove from heat and mix in the rice krispies.
  4. Pour the marshmallow/rice krispie mix into the prepared baking dish and spread out in an even layer.
  5. Put them into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to cool and set.

Assembling Monsters:

  1. Cut the rice krispies into desired size.  I roughly cut mine into 2×4 or 2×3 inch pieces.
  2. Melt the ChocoMaker wafers in the microwave, use a silicon spatula to stir.  One treat at a time, use the spatula to help spread the colored chocomaker spread onto half of the rice krispie.
  3. Place on parchment paper and add candy eyes.
  4. Repeat until done!
  5. Put treats in cellophane bags, with crinkle cut paper.  Tie with trick or treat tags!


  • I made my trick or treat tags using a stamp, paper and glue.  So easy, and like I said, keeps me preoccupied next to Chris while he watches sports after the kids have gone to bed.



Cooking With Kids, and a Gift Idea




















Since around the time that Jack was 2, maybe earlier, I’ve always loved including my kids in the kitchen.  Whether I’m making a quick sandwich for lunch, rushing to get dinner made, or baking a two layer intricate cake for a birthday, it’s always more fun when little hands are involved. The best part is that both of my kids have always loved helping me in the kitchen.  Who am I kidding, they’ve always loved helping with anything I’m doing: “mama folding laundry?!”  “I got it!” they tell me. “Mama sweeping the floors?!” “I got it!” they tell me.  “Mama doing e-mails?!” “I got it!!” 😉  Perhaps that’s why I never feel like the laundry is completely washed and folded, the floors never thoroughly swept, e-mails left unattended.  However, in the kitchen it’s different.  In the kitchen, there’s always a final product.  It may not perfect, because the frosting may be too thick in the middle from not being spread evenly, dinner might be overly salted, or someone might find an eggshell in their omelette, but there’s always a final product.  Something we all made together in our team effort that we can enjoy together.

Last year, for Isabelle’s first birthday, her Aunt (who is also her Godmother) and Uncle gifted her a few pretty cute gifts, including this incredible Amazing Chef cooking set.  On this particular day, Jack really wanted to make something, but I wasn’t quite in the mood to cook so we opened up this gift, that I’m embarrassed to say had been sitting in the cabinet above the fridge for almost a year, and let the kids have fun! Jack especially loved using the knife to cut up the bananas and Isabelle loved dipping them in the chocolate and sprinkles.

If you ever don’t know what birthday present to get younger children, ages 2-8 or older, I can’t image that this cooking set will ever disappoint.  It’s so fun and gives the kids so much confidence in the kitchen!













PB Honey Toast, My Way

IMG_4541.JPGLately, I find myself so over “date night”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love an evening out with my husband and friends, but “date night” has so many connotations attached to it, both positive and negative. There’s the pressure to make reservations, get dressed, have dinner planned for the kids and the sitter, arrange a date and time that works for friends (if it’s a group)… And then, you risk the fact that your kids might still be awake when you get home later that evening!! At least, if your kids are anything like mine.  On the other hand, it feels so good to get dressed up, put on some heels, try a new restaurant, and catch up with your husband and friends over a bottle of wine and good food.

A couple of weeks ago, Chris and I were debating whether we should go out one night.  We wanted some kid-free time together, but we were also exhausted after a long week.  Has anyone else been there? Please tell me we’re not the only ones…

Jack happened to be with his grandparents watching his cousins’ soccer games, and Isabelle was home with us.  In an inspired moment, Chris had the brilliant beyond brilliant idea to ask our sweet H.S neighbor girl to come watch Isabelle so we could go out! During the day! Brilliant, no?! We’ve often gone out during the day, but always with an agenda or a list of errands to accomplish in X amount of time.  This time, we had NO agenda – just me and my hubs, and the best “day date”.  We even made it home in time to make dinner for the kids, and enjoy movie night with them! It was truly, an almost perfect day.

We ended up at Coffee Shop in Walnut Creek where Chris got the most phenomenal Peanut Butter + Honey Toast.  I haven’t quite been able to stop thinking about it, so this week I made my own homemade version, topped with a dusting of cinnamon. Simple, easy, filling, and nutritious! Thanks for the inspiration Coffee Shop!



  • Toast, of choice.  I used Udi’s Whole Wheat Gluten Free Bread.
  • 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter, I always prefer smooth PB, and think it works best with this snack.
  • 2-3 teaspoons of Honey
  • Banana, sliced.
  • Cinnamon for dusting.


  1. Toast bread.
  2. Spread a light amount of PB, about a tablespoon.
  3. Drizzle honey over the peanut butter, 2-3 teaspoons.
  4. Slice banana to cover the toast.
  5. Dust cinnamon on top!

Note: I especially love cinnamon for it’s ability to regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol, any many other benefits.  Raw, local honey is amazing for its ability to relieve some allergies, and anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.  In high school I would make myself a tea of hot water, honey, and cinnamon.  It was so good! Perhaps I’ll share the recipe one day…

I have had this for a light lunch numerous times this week, it’s that good and filling!






My Go-To Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies


I’ve shared Displaced Housewife’s, Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Cookies before, here.  Today, I’m sharing her Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Like she says, they really are the best gluten free CCC’s ever.  You won’t need another gluten free cookie recipe after this one, trust me.  We’ve made these, over a handful of times now for all types of occasions and they never disappoint.  I plan to make them again this week for one of Jack’s preschool events.  In this world, with ever increasing food allergies and sensitivities it’s nice to have a reliable, delicious recipe that I know will satisfy both kids and adults who are gluten-free.

My favorite thing about these is that they have that slightly crunchy exterior and chewy chocolatey interior – which makes for the perfect cookie, in my opinion. 🙂

Also, don’t skimp on chilling the dough.  It makes all the difference between a “blah-whatever-it’s okay-cookie”, and a “wow, that’s a really good cookie!”  When I take the time to chill the dough my husband always says “these are really good” with those raised eyebrows, head bopping up and down happily.  However, when I don’t take the time to chill the dough, they’re a boring “eh” no excitement whatsoever…. so: chill yo’ dough!






  • 1 stick, 4 ounces, unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed tight
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seed oil
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups gluten-free flour (I’ve always used cup4cup)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Put the stick of unsalted butter in a small sauce pan and melt over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, continue to stir, and watch the butter as it starts to crackle and pop.  Little golden bits will settle into the bottom of the pan, and over the course of a couple of minutes stop crackling and popping.  This is the sign that your butter is done browning and you can turn the stove off, and remove the pan from heat. Transfer into a medium heat proof bowl and let cool.
  2. Add the sunflower seed oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla to the browned butter. Whisk together until entirely incorporated.
  3. In another medium bowl, whisk the gluten-free flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the brown butter mixture and mix together. Add the chocolate chips.
  5. Pick up all the cookie dough and put it on top of plastic saran wrap, and wrap it up! Put in the fridge for a couple of hours, or even overnight!
  6. To bake, heat the oven to 375.
  7. Roll little balls of dough, all roughly the same size, and place onto a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper). Bake for about 12 minutes.
  8. When done baking, cookies are slightly browned around the edges and tops, remove from oven and let cool completely!
  9. ENJOY!



Kid’s Cheese Pizza

I looooove pizza! Melted cheese with a delicious crust smothered in tomato sauce?! Yes, please! Making pizza during the summer months is so fun, especially with the kids.  They love to roll out the dough and put all the toppings on.  This particular day, Jack shaped his pizza dough into “Mickey Mouse” and his excitement was so sweet.  He was especially interested in showing his sister, who is obsessed with all things Mickey Mouse, that he’d made a “Mickey Mouse pizza! haha!”  Isn’t that one of the best parts about pizza?  Each person can have a pizza as they like it, with whichever toppings they enjoy, in whatever shape they want! Square, circle, rectangle, Mickey Mouse shape – it’s creativity and personal preference at its food finest!

When it comes to the pizza dough, we’ve always been partial to store bought pizza, because it’s easy and good.  Safeway and Trader Joes make the best, in my opinion.  We tried the Whole Foods dough on this day, and it was good – but didn’t cook quite as well as the Safeway and TJ’s dough.  Maybe it was user error and we should try again?  Either way, Chris got this book for his birthday a few months ago and I’m looking forward to making our own dough later this summer! Rebecca makes a pretty incredible looking Beer Crust Pizza we should try as well, yes Beer Crust! It sounds amazing. Honestly, making our own dough seems so intimidating, and time consuming because what if it fails? But I’m pretty sure we could pull it off, and in the event it doesn’t work out, I’ll make sure to have a bag of store bought dough hidden in the fridge 😉  … To be continued…

Our very own Pizza Master! 
See those cute little Mickey Mouse ears? 🙂


No tomato sauce no cheese, add guac pizza! 😉
Our “adult” pizza; before shot.  



Quick, No Mess BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos


DISCLAIMER: I’m not going to guarantee that these are “no mess” pulled pork tacos.  But they are quick,  easy to clean up, and a crowd pleaser on a hot Tuesday (or any day of the week) when the last thing you want to do is worry about turning on the stove, let alone the oven!

Mexican food has always been one of those things that I enjoy going out for much more than I enjoy making for myself or my family.  There’s something fun, and almost comforting about going to a Mexican restaurant.  Perhaps it’s because when I was a kid my brothers and I would always request to go to Chevys for our birthday dinners.  Each of us always got a batch of tortilla dough to play with while we waited for our food to arrive, and at the end of the meal the waiters would all stand around your table and sing you the most fun, loud, exuberant, hands-clapping Happy Birthday!  And pop a big ol’ sombrero on your head at the end!  Sometimes, if we went on a Friday or Saturday night there was a balloon man who would stop at each table offering to make any animal figure/sword/doll/whatever out of his balloons.  Our parents always obliged – how could they have said no?!  It was incredibly fun; celebratory, really. And made our birthday feel special because these strange waiters would sing happy birthday to us!

These, and many other Chevy dinners were my first experience with Mexican food.  I believe that since it was such an enjoyable experience it made me fall in love with Mexican food.  Fajitas, burritos, tacos, enchiladas, tortilla chips and salsa, guacamole!! You name it…

With these tacos I wanted to recreate, the simple, festive feeling of going to a restaurant right at home.  We make this BBQ Pulled Pork every now and then.  We should make it more often because it’s so easy! This time we turned it into tacos, and I wish we were having it for dinner again tonight.


  • 2 lb pork shoulder
  • salt to season
  • 1 can of your favorite BBQ sauce – we used Kinder’s Mild BBQ Sauce
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • Guacamole, I prefer to make my own – though store bought would work fine
  • favorite salsa, we used Casa Sanchez Fire Roasted Medium salsa
  • 1 package of tortillas


  1. I lied, you will have to turn on your stove for 2 minutes.  Get out a big pan and put it on medium high, place your pork shoulder on the pan to sear the sides.  Season with plenty of salt.
  2. Immediately transfer into a crockpot.  Pour a 20oz bottle of BBQ sauce into the crockpot to coat the pork shoulder. Put the lid on and set on high for 6-8 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, chop your onion, cilantro, and salsa.  Place in individual ramekins.  If you are making your guacamole, prepare no more than 20-30 minutes before serving so that it stays fresh!
  4. When your pork shoulder is done, remove and place on cutting board.  Using two forks begin to tear the meat off the bone.  It will literally fall off the bone into delicious pieces.
  5. Enjoy!