Happy Little Monster Treats

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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.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 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

INSTRUCTIONS

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!

NOTES:

  • 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.

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cheers!

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Quick, No Mess BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos

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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.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 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

INSTRUCTIONS:

  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!

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Cheers!

An Easter Carrot Cake for Beginners

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Easter is always my favorite holiday. Christmas is wonderful and special, and has so much anticipation built up to it that makes for so much fun and excitement. However, because it’s couched between Thanksgiving, New Years, and the general holiday craze, it can be a bit overwhelming with so much activity.  But, not Easter! Instead, Easter has a quiet start with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday and slowly builds up with the coming of Spring, before Easter Sunday.

Chris volunteered me to bring carrot cake for Easter dinner this year.  I was more than happy to oblige because I love any excuse to bake 😉 In our home carrot cake season starts in February when Chris requests it as his birthday cake – it’s his favorite so I’m making it my duty to find (or create) the most perfect carrot cake recipe in the world.  If you have one, feel free to send it my way.  So far, this recipe is as close as we’ve gotten.  I’ve made it a handful of times now and it comes out moist and delicious every time — even when I think “uh oh, this time it’s going to fail me” it doesn’t! It’s a great cake for every spring occasion: bridal showers, baby showers, engagement parties, dinner parties, baptisms etc…

I call it a “beginners” carrot cake because I have actually memorized this recipe – that’s how easy it is! It’s a one bowl recipe.  Mix the oil and sugar, add the eggs, sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, add the grated carrots, raisins, pecans – and boom you’re done! …. well, after it spends almost an hour in the oven.  🙂

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INGREDIENTS:                                                                                                                         *Recipe adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking Layered Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups finely grated and peeled carrots – I peel them and then place in my mini Cuisinart food processor to grind.  I use my mini food processor more than I ever would have imagined, it’s one of my favorites.
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 8oz packages of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.  Grease 2 8inch round cake pans.
  2. Using a stand mixer, or large bowl and hand mixer, beat the sugar and vegetable oil until thoroughly combined.  Add the eggs 1 at a time.  I make sure each egg has been entirely mixed in before adding the next.  It only takes a few seconds for each egg.
  3. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into the sugar/oil/egg mixture.  I place this strainer over my stand mixer and put all the dry ingredients into the strainer to “sift” through to the sugar/oil/egg mixture.  Stir in the carrots, raisins, and pecans.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  Try to divid the batter equally between both pans! Bake about 50-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Let cakes cool completely before frosting.
  5. To make the frosting: use either the wire whip attachment on your stand mixer, or a handheld mixer, and whip together the powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract until it is creamy and smooth.
  6. Put one cake layer on a cake plate and spread with frosting.  Then put the other cake on top and spread with frosting.  Enjoy!

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Cheers!