Kitchen Concoctions: snacks
Showing posts with label snacks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label snacks. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mega Monster Munch Popcorn {Ghoulish Grub Week}

This gooey, chocolaty popcorn mix filled with all kinds of Halloween goodies, is perfect for a Halloween party or scary movie night!

Traditions. We are all about them. For every holiday. For every special occasion. You might even say our weekly “routines” have become traditional in a sense.

The month of October is no exception. We get giddy with excitement as we carefully plan every outing, every decoration with much detail. We reminisce of Octobers and Halloween of years past... the festivities, the adventures, the memories.

One of our favorite traditions is our 31 Days of Scary Movies (one scary movie every night of October) marathon. Certainly this particular tradition takes a bit more dedication and time than others, but we really try hard to pull it off because all the fun is totally worth it. In fact, we even have a detailed spreadsheet of every possible scary, cheesy and totally kid-friendly Halloween/horror movie out there (you know to help keep us focused).

However, if I am being honest, this year has been more difficult than others to pull off this tradition. Call it a side affect of getting older, being more busy, having more responsibility, having to wake up super early, or whatever; it is so much harder to stay awake during a movie these days. Nonetheless, every night around 9 pm, you can find me curled up on the couch, in my favorite pajamas (don't worry, I have lots and lots of favorite pajamas) eager to watch our next scary (and sometimes silly) Halloween movie.

And does anyone want to take any guesses of how many Halloween/horror movies I have actually watched from beginning to end so far during these 21 days of October? I think a whopping 6 maybe 7 (and those are on days when I had to stay up late to work)!

Oh well at least I am enthusiastic and give it a good ole college try (oh, speaking of college, I was notorious for falling asleep at the actual movie theater in college... I guess with all that studying I did, and having to juggle a part time job, that was the only time I could get some shut eye!)!

As an incentive to stay awake past 10 pm a few nights ago, Eric decided we needed to whip up a good Halloween treat to enjoy during our movie. We came up with this Mega Monster Munch Popcorn (an adaption from this Bunny Bait I shared a few years ago for Easter); a popcorn loaded with all sorts of our favorite Halloween goodies!

This popcorn was so fun to make together (kids will totally love it and can help make it)! We each picked some of our favorite treats to add (although I was hesitant at first, Eric was instant about the candy corn, which actually was a delicious and festive addition!) and then went to town mixing, drizzling and eating our monster of a concoction!

Go on, grab your favorite spooky movie, whip up a batch of Monster Much Popcorn and make memories!

PS: All this week I will be continuing another Halloween tradition... Ghoulish Grub week on Kitchen Concoctions! Stay tuned as every day this week (through Saturday) I will be sharing some sort or cute, festive, ghoulish treat!

What is your favorite Halloween/scary movie? 

One Year Ago: Graveyard Pudding Pie
Two Years Ago: Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette
Three Years Ago: Eyeball Cookies and Ghost Cookies 
Four Years Ago: Espresso Brownies
Five Years Ago: Sesame Crackers

Mega Monster Munch Popcorn 
Printable Version 
Prep Time: 10 minutes Wait Time: 15-20 minutes Serves: 6-8

A gooey popcorn mix filled with all kinds of Halloween treats! 

5 cups popped popcorn (plain or light butter)
10-12 Halloween Oreo cookies, quartered
½ cup Halloween/Fall M&M's or Reese's Pieces candies
½ cup candy corn
½ cup peanuts (unsalted, lightly salted or honey roasted)
½ cup pretzel twists, broken in half
8 ounces vanilla almond bark or white candy melts

For decorating (optional):
1/3 cup orange candy melts
1/3 cup yellow candy melts
1/3 cup chocolate chips or candy melts
1 tablespoon coconut or canola oil, divided

Line a baking sheet with wax paper.

In a large bowl, toss together popped popcorn (any unpopped kernels removed), Oreo cookies, chocolate candy, candy corn, peanuts and pretzels. Set aside.

Place the vanilla almond bark in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 15-20 second intervals, stirring after each time, until almond bark is melted and smooth. Drizzle the melted almond bark over the popcorn mixture and stir to combine, making sure everything is evenly coated.

Spread coated popcorn mixture in an even layer on wax paper lined baking sheet and let cool, about 15-20 minutes. Break into pieces and serve.

Optional (for additional decoration): Before breaking coated popcorn into pieces; place orange, yellow and chocolate candy melts in three separate microwave safe bowls. Add 1-2 teaspoons coconut oil to each bowl. Microwave each bowl of candy melts in 15-20 second intervals, stirring after each time, until candy melts are melted and smooth. Drizzle melted candy melts over popcorn mixture on baking sheet. Allow mixture to cool, break into pieces and serve.

Adapted from this Bunny Bait recipe and this Monster Munch/Halloween Snack Mix via Lauren's Latest

Other Halloween recipes you might enjoy:
Mummy Nutter Butter Cookies and Pumpkin Oreo Cookies
Monster Munch Cookies 
Casper the Friendly Ghost Smoothie (a.k.a Very Vanilla Smoothie) 
Graveyard Pudding Pie 
Mini Graveyard Cakes

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Spicy Cajun Popcorn

I love to have get togethers.

From craft night with girlfriends to family game night to a football watching party... I love any excuse to gather with friends and family, to swap stories, to bond over good food and to make lasting memories.

But as much as I love hosting gatherings and having people over, let's face it, it can be a lot of work..... cleaning the house from top to bottom, shopping for food and drinks, and organizing the whole shebang!

That's why I love to have not only quick 'go-to' dinner recipes, but quick and easy 'back pocket' entertaining recipes too! You know, like a brownie recipe you can whip up in a pinch, a super simple, yet seems fancy schmancy, crostini recipe or some homemade 'gourmet' popcorn! They are the recipes you need when, surprise! your significant other shows up with friends unexpectedly or when you have a long day and are headed to movie night at a friend's and don't want to show up empty handed.

In addition to having a selection of 'go-to' recipes to turn to when you need them most, having a 'back pocket' website you can go to for inspiration is equally important! I love discovering new things in the world of food; whether it is the latest food fad, newest restaurant or a fresh new recipe website! That is why I was excited to check out the new Yahoo! Food. With Yahoo! Food you can explore the latest food trends, check out well written articles, watch videos to learn a new cooking technique, and drool over mouthwatering photos and recipes. Content on Yahoo! Food is provided by a team of editors, including Managing Editor Sarah McColl; former Bon Appetit senior web editor, Julia BainbridgeRachel Tepper who joined from Huffington Post Food; and Alex Van Buren, who has written for Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and Martha Stewart Living. Yahoo! Food has also partnered with popular food publishers including Bon Appetit, Epicurious, Food52, Martha Stewart and more, to bring you additional expertise and ideas.

Recently when pouring over the many recipes on Yahoo! Food, I stumbled upon this Spicy Cajun Popcorn. It was just the recipe I needed that day... a quick party snack to bring to a gathering with friends! This Spicy Cajun Popcorn, lives up to it's name and definitely has a kick, but was a complete hit at my latest soiree! It is perfect for ANY gathering and can be thrown together in a pinch, making it a fantastic recipe to get you through all those fall social events!

Spicy Cajun Popcorn
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes Serves: 8

A spicy gourmet popcorn with a Cajun twist!

2 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/4 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground thyme
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup melted butter
2-3 teaspoons hot sauce (mix with melted butter)
20-24 cups plain popped popcorn (from 1 cup kernels or 3-4 microwave packages)

For full recipe and directions, click over to Yahoo Food.

recipe adapted from Yahoo Food

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Chicken Bacon Ranch Stuffed French Bread (Dressing Recipe)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine. #FoodDeservesDelicious #CollectiveBias 

Monday nights have become quite routine around here. Close friends. Cackling laughter. Playing cards being shuffled back and forth. A mouthwatering spread of snacks; including my famous Spinach Artichoke Dip recipe, cookies, and fruit and veggies with an array of dipping sauces. We certainly don't let a bad case of the Mondays get us down!

Our Monday game night with friends has become one of my favorite nights of the week! I have always been a big gamer, no, not the video game kind, but the board game kind! In fact, unlike many kids who grew up in the 80's and 90's, we didn't have video games in the house (well, not until my baby brother became a teenager). Playing games where you had to stack blocks into a leaning tower, buy lavish property with fake money, or get lost in a magical land of candy... well that was more my style.

Luckily, my good friend “A” loves board games just as much as I do. Unfortunately for us, our men don't. That's why playing cards, every Monday night, has become our thing! It was a compromise. The girls love board games and the guys like card games. Spades, Gin Rummy and a lesson or two in Blackjack or Hold 'Em to name a few.

Since we usually host our weekly game night (our place is much bigger than their's), I am always trying to think of new snacks and treats to share. Our normal 'go-to' is a veggie platter with some sort of dip, cheese and crackers, fresh fruit and of course some cookies or brownies.

For our last game night, I was at Walmart picking up some of our regular snacks. As I strolled down the aisles and through the produce department, with our 'go-to' veggies and Kraft Ranch Dressing starring back at me, I decided I wanted something more. The new Kraft Pourables have been reinvented with a new, better taste. The Classic Ranch is now creamier, with more buttermilk and savory herbs and the Zesty Italian now has even more herbs and spices! The easy to pour container makes them perfect not only to pour into a bowl for easy dipping (like we normally do), but also makes it easy to add Kraft Dressings to any recipe! "A ranch flavored appetizer?" I pondered? Boom! There I had it!

Inspired by the new Kraft Pourables in ranch, I came up with this Chicken Bacon Ranch Stuffed French Bread. It was the perfect snack to share with friends at our weekly game night; but since the filling can be made in advance, it would also be fantastic for a party or say, football watching! Or, you could even pair this stuffed French bread with a simple side salad and you have a family friendly meal everyone will love!

Chicken Bacon Ranch Stuffed French Bread 
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version 
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes Serves: 6-8 as an entree or 10-12 as an appetizer

Crispy French bread, stuffed with a cheesy chicken, bacon and ranch filling! 


½ pound bacon
2 large chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 large tomato, halved, seeds removed and diced
2 whole green onions, sliced and divided
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup Kraft Ranch Dressing (plus more for serving)
1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup grated white cheddar cheese, divided
1 loaf French bread, cut in half lengthwise
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Dice raw bacon into bite-sized pieces. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add diced bacon and cook until crispy, about 5-6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Pour off some of the bacon grease, leaving a small amount in the pan. Return saute pan to burner and heat pan to medium-high heat. Season chicken with ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper. Add seasoned chicken to saute pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until cooked through.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked chicken, tomatoes, and half of the green onions, bacon pieces, and both cheeses.

In a small bowl stir together mayonnaise, sour cream, ranch dressing, ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper. Pour ranch mixture over chicken mixture and stir to combine.

Place both halves of the French bread on a large baking sheet lined with foil. Spread chicken ranch mixture evenly on top of both pieces of French bread. Bake for 15 minutes in preheated 375 degree oven. Remove from oven and top with remaining bacon and cheese. Return to oven an bake for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until cheese is melted and edges are lightly browned.

For serving, top with remaining green onions and chopped parsley. Serve immediately with additional ranch dressing for dipping.

Note: Filling mixture can be made 2-3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Leftover cooked French bread keeps well and can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped in foil. To reheat, bake French bread in foil at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal {Plus My Favorite "On The Go" Snacks}

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are my own. #BarNutrition #CollectiveBias #shop #cbias 

I mentioned a few days ago that summer is my busiest time of year. Not only am I busy with work, running to meetings, teaching classes, and completing projects; summer is when some of my favorite events of the year take place. My summer wouldn't be complete without movies in the park, days by the pool, concerts and summer road trips. And even though my life can get a bit hectic this time of year, I wouldn't have it any other way! I feel so blessed to do what I love and get to experience all the fun things life has to offer. Since I know many of you are busy too, I thought it would be fun to share a blog post with some my favorite on the go snacks, that help keep me fueled and energized on fast paced days!

When I know I have a busy day ahead of me, starting the day with a satisfying breakfast is a must! Usually busy days mean a quick, yet hearty breakfast. Some of my go to breakfast items are smoothies, precooked hard boiled eggs or a big bowl of “loaded” oatmeal.

After breakfast, before I head out the door, I make sure my bag is packed with convenient and nutritious on the go snacks. I will be the first to admit that if I don't eat something every couple of hours I can get, um, a bit cranky. Below are some of my favorite snacks to keep on hand for life on the go:

20+ "On the Go" Snacks:

Air Popped Popcorn
Individual packages of yogurt
Cheese sticks
Hard boiled eggs
Whole grain crackers
Whole grain cereals
Dried fruit
Protein Bars
Carrot sticks
Cherry or grape tomatoes
Celery sticks
Cucumber slices
Nut butters
Cottage cheese
Water (in a reusable bottle that I can refill throughout the day)

Many of these items can be bought at your local store, like Walmart, and then transferred into snack size baggies or food storage containers for easy to transport, nutritious and filling snacks. One super convenient snack I like to keep on hand is protein or snack bars. Walmart offers a wide selection of protein bars, and is the exclusive retailer for Life Choice Bars, found on the cereal aisle. Life Choice Bars are affordable (especially with this Life Choice Bars coupon), come in a variety of flavors and were the inspiration for my latest oatmeal recipe.

My love for oatmeal is no surprise for long time followers of this blog! As I mentioned, it is one of my 'go-to' breakfast options to keep me full and fueled throughout the day. I already have an extensive oatmeal recipe collection, but decided a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal needed to be added to the repertoire.

This oatmeal is creamy and full of peanut butter goodness. I then piled on some of my favorite toppings, like more peanut butter, peanuts, almond milk and chunks of double chocolate protein bar, for a hearty, hot breakfast, that is ready to eat in less than 10 minutes!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal
By Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep Time: 3-5 minutes Cook Time: 5-8 minutes Serves: 1

A creamy, protein packed oatmeal full of chocolate, peanut butter goodness! 

¾ cup vanilla almond milk
¾ cup water
½ tablespoon creamy peanut butter
¾ cup old fashioned rolled oats

1 Life Choice Double Chocolate Protein Bar, chopped
½-1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon peanuts
1-2 tablespoons vanilla almond milk
Drizzle of honey

Combine milk, water, and ½ tablespoon peanut butter in a medium sized sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir until peanut butter melts into milk.

Add rolled oats and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and oats are tender.

Serve immediately topped with chopped chocolate protein bars, ½ to 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter, peanuts, almond milk and a drizzle of honey.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Protein Shake

Smoothies and shakes. Shakes and smoothies.

I kid you not, I went to load pictures from my camera to my computer the other day and of all the 400+ photos, it was all pictures of shakes and smoothies. Oh and bacon.

Yes, that is all I have been eating lately.

No not bacon (although that has been in my diet in healthy dosages!!!). 

But shakes and smoothies (remember that Frozen Pink Lemonade Smoothie I shared a few weeks ago?).

That's all I want. I guess that is what my body needs right now. Lots and lots of fruits and veggies. 

And that is what I love about smoothies, they are packed with nutrients and I can easily get my daily servings of fruits and veggies in an easy to drink and tasty smoothie.

I have also started using protein powder in some of my shakes and smoothies. Honestly, I used to never get the protein shake/powder thing, but since I have been a crazy, constantly on the go, person right now; whipping up a quick protein shake to run out the door with, is the perfect thing to hold me over until lunch or dinner. (Holy, run on sentence, Batman!) I have also been trying to be more active. No, don't worry, this isn't going to become a weight loss/workout blog, I just want to have a more active lifestyle. Because getting out and walking around the lake, doing some yoga and punching an invisible punching bag has been good for my soul. And a protein shake keeps me going strong. 

Plus, this Chocolate Covered Strawberries Protein Shake is so rich and delicious that I feel like I am getting a special treat! I love it and drink one of these almost every day. Seriously. Love.

If you don't have protein powder or don't want to use it, no worries! You can still have a skinny chocolate shake by using cocoa powder and a bit of honey (which I've included in the recipe below). You can also add a handful of spinach for added nutrients!

Go on! Drink up! 

One Year Ago: Turtle Cheesecake
Two Years Ago: FYI: Tips for Cooking Ham
Three Years Ago: Carolina Crab Cakes
Four Years Ago: Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf
Five Years Ago: Restaurant Review: Garcia's Cafe

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Protein Shake
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep Time: 5 minutes Serves: 1

A protein packed shake that tastes like an indulgent treat! 


6-7 fresh or frozen strawberries
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 scoop chocolate protein powder*
1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
4-5 ice cubes


Place all ingredients in a high power blender and blend until smoothie. Add additional milk or ice to reach desired constancy. Serve immediately.

Optional: Add 1/2-1 cup spinach or baby kale for added nutritional value.

*NOTE: 1 tablespoon cocoa powder plus 2-3 teaspoons honey can be substituted for chocolate protein powder. Frozen strawberries will yield a thicker, creamier shake.

Other recipes you might enjoy:
Frozen Pink Lemonade Smoothie
Green Monster Smoothie
Sour Apple Creamy Green Smoothie
Peach Smoothie
Pina Colada Smoothie

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mango Pomegranate Guacamole

It seems like every season there is a fruit or vegetable I am absolutely obsessed with.

Last winter it was butternut squash. Everything I made I wanted to add butternut squash to it. 


Last summer it was zucchini. Everything I made, sweet or savory, had zucchini.

This fall/winter the seasonal food obsession has been pomegranates. We love us some pomegranates! We have been enjoying pomegranates straight up, scooped right out of the fruit, and added to an array of foods. From salads, to topping my oatmeal, to throwing them in guacamole.

Yes, you read right, I added pomegranates to my guac! I love guacamole and have shared a classic recipe here, but I decided to change things up one day last fall and loved the results. The sweetness from the mango, the tartness and added crunch from the pomegranate, all compliment the spiciness of the jalapeno and added a nice texture element to the guacamole.

Seriously guys, you NEED this in your life! But hurry pomegranate season won't be here forever!

One Year Ago: Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes 
Two Years Ago: Healthy Cooking For Picky Eaters 
Three Years Ago: Crispy Fish Tacos
Four Years Ago: Why-the-Chicken-Crossed-the-Road Santa Fe Tortilla Soup

Mango Pomegranate Guacamole 
by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions: 
Printable Version 
Prep Time: 15 minutes Makes approximately 1 ½ - 2 cups

2 large ripe avocados
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (plus more for garnish)
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and diced
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tablespoon water
1 lime, juiced

Cut the avocados in half. Twist the halves in opposite directions and pull apart. Remove the pits and then scoop out the avocado flesh into a medium bowl. Mash the avocado with a large fork. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately topped with additional pomegranate seeds, if desired.

If not using immediately, cover with plastic wrap pressing the plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole and refrigerate. 

adapted from my Classic Guacamole recipe

Other recipes you might enjoy:
Tex-Mex Burgers with Guacamole 
Avocado Banana Hair Mask  
Avocado Salad with Sweet Italian Sausage
Turkey Guacamole Burgers 
Classic Guacamole

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Spiced Cranberry Orange Muffins and "Get Well" Gift Basket (with Bigelow Tea and Halls Cough Drops)

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client. #shop #cbias #SocialFabric #AmericasTea

It is that time of year again. No, not the bustling, fun and festive holiday season, but cold and flu season. And I know for many, just mentioning cold and flu season sends you running far, far away. No one likes being sick, myself included, but unfortunately 'tis the season,' right? While, we all try and avoid getting sick, we will all probably encounter a sick co-worker, friend or loved one sometime over the next few months. What wouldn't be more comforting and thoughtful than showing up to your friend's rescue with a Get Well Gift Basket. Today I am teaming up with Bigelow Tea and Halls Original Cough Drops to show you how to create your own Get Well Gift Basket as well as sharing a festive and heart warming recipe for Spiced Cranberry Orange Muffins.

The weather here in Texas can be quite finicky this time of year. A perfect 75 degrees and sunny one day and a sharp turn to 50 degrees with rain the next. With that type of weather, it is easy to get sick! Whenever I start to get that little tickle in my throat or hear my voice start to crack, I immediately want to sip on some hot herbal tea with honey and a squeeze of fresh lemon or orange juice.

Since hot tea is so soothing when you feel under the weather it was my first pick for my Get Well Gift Basket. Other things to include in a Get Well Gift Basket, is cough drops, tissues, homemade or canned soup, saltine crackers, a magazine and some homemade Spiced Cranberry Orange Muffins. To get started creating my Get Well Gift Basket, I created a shopping list with the above listed items, and headed to Walmart to gather supplies. You can find a printable version of this Get Well Gift Basket Checklist here as well as below.

Check out my shopping trip to Walmart here

In my gift basket I also included homemade muffins. To me, there is just something so comforting about muffins. When I feel stressed or overwhelmed and need to do something therapeutic, I turn to baking; and nine times out of ten it is baking muffins. The ease in creating a simple yet satisfying treat that everyone loves, is comforting, especially when I can gift the muffins to others.

Muffins are the perfect slightly sweet morning or mid afternoon treat! This recipe whips up quickly and screams 'eat me' during these winter months. Cranberries and oranges are a beautiful flavor combination and add in some warm winter spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; and you have a soft muffin bursting with seasonal flavors. Not only do these muffins make a great addition to a Get Well Gift Basket, they would be lovely for a holiday breakfast spread or simply to run over to the neighbors!

Spiced Cranberry Orange Muffins 
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version 
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 18-22 minutes Makes 12 muffins

1 cup milk
3 Bigelow Orange and Spice Herbal Tea Bags
2 cups (plus 1 tablespoon) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
¼ cup (plus 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar, divided
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup brown sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 orange, juiced and zested
1 ½ cup chopped cranberries

1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup butter, melted
1 orange, juiced and zested

For muffins:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin tins or line with paper muffin cups.

Place milk in a small sauce pan. Bring milk to a simmer and add tea bags, Remove from heat and set aside, allowing tea to steep in milk for at least 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together 2 cups flour, ¼ cup granulated sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add brown sugar, beating until blended. Beat in egg, vanilla, orange zest and juice. Remove tea bags from milk. Gradually mix dry ingredients and infused milk into the butter mixture, alternating between milk and dry ingredients. Continue mixing in milk and dry ingredients until combined.

In a small bowl, stir together chopped cranberries and remaining 1 tablespoon flour and 2 tablespoons sugar. Gently fold cranberries into prepared batter.

Using a scoop or spoon, fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full with muffin batter. Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center muffin comes out clean and muffins begin to brown on top. Let muffins cool in muffin tins for 3-5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

For topping:

Place sugar in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together melted butter, orange juice and zest. After muffins have cooled slightly in muffin tins, but while they are still slightly warm; dip the muffin tops in the butter/lemon juice and then dip into sugar.

Get Well Gift Basket Checklist
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions: 
Printable Version

Bigelow Tea (desired flavor)
Halls Original Cough Drops (Honey-Lemon, Cherry, and Mentho-Lyptus)
Spiced Cranberry Orange Muffins (recipe above)
Book of Word Puzzles
Thermos of Homemade Soup or Cans of Store Bought Soup
Tea/Coffee Cup
Large Basket or Reusable Cloth Bag
Fleece Blanket

Looking for more feel better ideas and recipes using Bigelow Tea? Check out this Pinterest Board:

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Honey Pear Muffins

Most people have big expectations for their dream home.

Large walk-in closets with built in shoe racks. Three car garages. Spectacular kitchens, with commercial kitchen features yet full of the comfort of home. Even a in home theater with a custom snack bar.

Of course my dream home has all of these features, but I also dream of having a luscious backyard garden and rows and rows of fruit trees.

I don't have much of a green thumb, so the actual garden might be far fetched, but fruit trees basically take care of themselves... right?

I can just picture it, beautiful green trees spotted with bright, vibrant fruit!


My mother-in-law, actually lucked out in that her house came with a pear tree when she moved in. Unfortunately, some years the tree has not produced much, if any fruit, while other years the tree is so weighed down with an overabundance of delightful fruit, that you would think the tree would fall right over. 

This year was one of those magical years!

About a month ago, on a routine visit to my mother-in-law's, the little pear tree was bursting with fruit. I asked her if I could pick some of the pears and she said sure, apologizing that she didn't realize I wanted any of the pears and had already let the neighbor take most of them. (uh... hello why wouldn't I want some free fresh picked pears!) But of course I was truly grateful for the pears and appreciatively enjoyed them.

Straight up as a snack, in this Pear Crisp Oatmeal, in this Spinach and Pear Salad, in Pear Spiked Applesauce and in these Honey Pear Muffins.

These muffins are so light and delicate. I love that they are not over powered by a mess of spices and that the honey and pear flavors are truly the star of the show. Of course, you can't eat Honey Pear Muffins, without a smear of butter and an extra drizzle of honey, for the ultimate muffin experience!

One Year Ago: Baba Ganoush 
Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Cloverleaf Rolls
Three Years Ago: Ranch Dressing
Four Years Ago: Jerk Chicken

Honey Pear Muffins
Printable Version 
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Yields: approximately 15-18 muffins  

2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup unsalted cold butter, cubed
2/3 cup honey
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pears, peeled,cored and pureed until smooth (Anjou Pears or Red Pears)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and honey until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla and pear puree, mixing until well combined. Gradually add in your flour mixture, beating just until moistened.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full, approximately 4-5 tablespoons batter per muffin cup. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before removing from muffin tins.

Store the muffins in an airtight container for 1-3 days. Or freeze, wrapped in foil and stored in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to a month. To thaw, place on counter and allow to thaw for 3-4 hours before serving. Or remove from freezer packaging and place frozen muffins in a 350 degree oven until heated through. Frozen muffins can also be defrosted in microwave (remove foil before using microwave!) for 5-8 minutes on half power until thawed and heated through.

Adapted from Crepes of Wrath 

Other recipes you might enjoy:
Banana Bran Muffins 
Leftover Stuffing Frittata Muffins 
Lemon Blueberry Muffins
Chunky Monkey Baked Oatmeal Muffins 
Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Streusel Topping

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pumpkin Granola Bars

We love granola.

This is obviously evident by the variety of granola and granola bar recipes on this here blog. Since we love granola so much (and homemade granola is so easy to make) I usually make a big batch every week or two. 

Eric absolutely loves my granola, but lately he has stated he wished I would make more granola bars, so that he can grab one as a quick and convenient breakfast/snack as he heads out the door (and that guy is always on the go!).

With the school year in full swing and this being the busy time of year, I think we could all use some quick convenience foods. But not that junk you get at the corner store. No, I want good wholesome snacks that are fulling and yet convenient.

These Pumpkin Granola Bars are a spin on my Pumpkin Spice Granola, Eric's favorite homemade granola to date. Full of fall flavors, like dried cranberries, pecans, warm fall spices and of course pumpkin; that granola was a hit and now these granola bars have become a favorite too.

And oh yeah, they are actually really healthy. Using all natural sweeteners and adding extra good for you things like flax seeds and wheat germ, this is a convenience food I can feel good about eating (and stuffing in my face)!

One Year Ago: Witches’ Hat Cupcakes 
Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Three Years Ago: Breakfast Stuffing
Four Years Ago: Jerk Chicken

Pumpkin Granola Bars 
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version 
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 30-45 minutes Yields: approximately 12 bars

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup flax seeds
¼ cup wheat germ
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup pecans, chopped
½ cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
½ cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup applesauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x9-inch pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, flax seeds, wheat germ, cranberries, pecans, and pepitas. Stir until mixed. 

Melt coconut oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir in pumpkin puree, applesauce, maple syrup and honey. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt. Once pumpkin mixture is done cooking, pour over the oat mixture. Stir to mix thoroughly.

Spread granola mixture into one even layer in prepared pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes for chewy granola bars or for 40-50 minutes for crunchy granola bars, or until granola bars are golden brown.

Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. Store bars in an air-tight container.

Other recipes you might enjoy:
Lunchbox Granola Cupcakes
Chewy Granola Bars 
Peanut Butter Banana Granola
Pina Colada Granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pina Colada Granola

Fall is officially here and I couldn't be more giddy.

I am finally ready for all things pumpkin, apple, spooky and cool.

And while mother nature and the calendar alined for a brief moment this past weekend, with rain and cool days; we are back to 90 degree weather here in Texas.

Oh and not just 90, like 95+.

But that is the way it goes (and I know that by now after living in Texas most of my life)!

So, while I continue to sweat in the afternoon autumn heat, and before I dive head first into a pile of brightly colored leaves, I have a few last summer 'inspired' recipes to share with you.

Just the name alone, Pina Colada, instantly transforms me to a relaxing day outside with the sun on my face surrounded by the warmth of summer. And that is preciously how this Pina Colada Granola tastes. While this granola has those tropical flavors, it is loaded with good for you stuff too. A Pina Colada for a healthy breakfast? Well I guess 5 o'clock doesn't only happen in the afternoon!


One Year Ago: Apple-Cheddar Waffle Panini 
Two Years Ago: Pepperoni Pita Pockets and Tips for Beating Back to School Lunchbox Blues
Three Years Ago: Georgia Peach Tea
Four Years Ago: Yellow Rice Dinner

Pina Colada Granola
By Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version 
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 25-30 minutes Yields: approximately 5 cups

2 tablespoons coconut oil
½ cup honey
¼ teaspoon rum extract (optional)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup flax seeds
1 1/3 cup shredded coconut flakes
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 (6 ounce) package dried pineapple, chopped (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Melt coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in honey and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove honey mixture from heat and stir in extracts.

In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, wheat germ, flax seeds, coconut flakes and macadamia nuts. Pour honey mixture over granola mixture and toss to coat.

Spread granola in an even layer onto one or two baking sheets. Bake in preheated 300 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until golden brown.

Cool completely. Pour into a large bowl and stir in dried pineapple. Store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.

Other recipes you might enjoy:
Peanut Butter Banana Granola 
Pumpkin Spice Granola
Pina Colada Ice Cream 
Pina Colada Smoothie
Pina Colada Oatmeal

Friday, June 21, 2013

Kids in the Kitchen: Homemade Goldfish Crackers

I love being the bestest Auntie ever!

I mean seriously people, being able to spoil your nieces and nephews and smoother them with love and letting them do cool things that their parents (aka your brother or sister and in-laws) won't let them do is awesome!

On several recent visits to see my nephew, he kept asking for goldfish crackers as his snack. My sister doesn't keep them in the house and so my freakin' adorable nephew had to settle for dried fruit and yogurt. 

Well, since I love being the 'cool' Aunt, I decided that making Homemade Goldfish Crackers was a totally win/win situation.

Win for my nephew because he got his favorite snack.

Win for my sister, since this version of Goldfish Crackers are 100% homemade, with like real cheese.

And totally win for me, because my nephew had the biggest smile ever on his face as he snacked on his favorite snack and told me about his recent trip to the zoo.

Man, being the best Aunt ever is hard work but totally worth it!

Recipe Notes: These crackers are crispy and cheesy! This is a great recipe to make with kids. They can measure the ingredients, roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes. Since the shapes are small it does take some time to make but is well worth it. I used a fish shaped cookie cutter that I created (yes, I made my own tiny fish cookie cutter, inspired from here), but you can buy one here or you could use any small shape cookie cutter you wish. To save time you could even use a pizza cutter to cut into square shapes and create Homemade Cheez-It Crackers. Other things to keep in mind, is when rolling out the dough, a thinner dough will result in crisper crackers. I recommend cooking the crackers for less time at first, checking, and cooking longer if needed. Crackers are best eaten immediately but can be stored in an air tight container for a day or two, but may become soft.

One Year Ago: Baked Tilapia with Arugula and Pecan Pesto 
Two Years Ago: Tropical Sangria
Three Years Ago: Beef 'n' Bean Burrito Burgers 
Four Years Ago: Silky Mashed Taters, with Bacon

Homemade Goldfish Crackers 
Printable Version
Prep Time: 30-45 minutes Wait Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 10-12 minutes Yields: approximately 50-60 crackers (depending on size and shape)

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons water

Sift together flour and cornstarch. Place all ingredients (including flour/cornstarch mixture), except water, in a food processor and pulse until the dough resembles coarse sand. Add in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a cohesive dough forms.

Remove dough from food processor, wrap in plastic, and chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat liners.

Divide dough into 2 pieces. Refrigerate one piece of dough while you roll out the other piece. Place dough in between two large sheets of wax paper. Roll out dough into a thin piece, no more than 1/8-inch thick. (Thinner dough means crispier crackers; thicker dough means puffier, more bread-like crackers.) Stamp out cracker shapes with desired cookie cutter of choice. Transfer shapes to prepared baking sheets.

Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes, until crackers are crispy and golden around edges. Timing will vary according to size and shape of your crackers. Cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Crackers will soften when kept in an airtight container and best eaten immediately or within a day or two.

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen and Delish 

Other recipes you might enjoy:
Tortilla Crisps 
Sesame Crackers 
Homemade Tater Tots – Two Ways  
Carrot Fries 
Crunchy Zucchini Chips
Related Posts with Thumbnails