Game Day Snacks

The Super Bowl is this weekend! Who are you cheering for? I'm not a big sports fan, but I enjoy watching the commercials and (sometimes) the half time show. My other favorite aspect of the Super Bowl? The food! Last year we watched the big game with some friends and had plenty of tasty snacks. Is it bad that I remember the food more than the commercials, or even who won? Here's what I brought to our party:

You can check out my instructions, and the cupcake recipe I used here.

We haven't decided what we are going to do this year, but I sure hope we enjoy some tasty snacks again. I'm just excited we are supposed to have above freezing weather, and no snow (hopefully). This winter has been crazy!!

If you are still deciding what to take to your party, or make for you family. Then make sure and check out my ideas below. I'm sharing a round-up of some tasty treats for the big game.

Savory Dishes:

Buffalo chicken wings go perfectly with game night, but why not try a different twist on the popular chicken dish? This sweet and spicy sauce is an amazing sauce for chicken...literally. It's a copycat recipe of Winger's Awesome Sauce.

Potato chips are another common choice at Super Bowl parties. For smaller get togethers, why not make these delicious potato flanks?! They are spicy and perfect for snacking.

Probably the next most common dish at Super Bowl parties? Salsa and chips! You could of course buy some salsa at your local grocery, but why not make your own?! This salsa is spicy and tastes so fresh! I like that I know everything in it, plus you can customize it to fit your taste buds.

The final savory dish is one of my more recent recipes. This recipe screams game night - burger sliders, spicy whiskey BBQ sauce, and jalapeno peppers. Delicious!

Sweet Dishes:

If you want to make a quick and easy dessert for the big game, then look no further than these Andes Mint brownies. They couldn't be easier! You can even use box mix brownies if you'd like. Just bake brownies and then top with Andes mints when they come out of the oven. They melt and make a delicious minty topping for the chocolate treat.

The next dessert might not look like much, but this candy trifle is PACKED with flavors. This was one of the first recipes I came up with on my own. It's based on the delicious Take5 candy bar. If you are unfamiliar with the candy bar, it's named for the 5 spectacular ingredients it contains - chocolate, peanut, peanut butter, caramel, and pretzel. Really, what more could you want? The trifle is filled with layers of chocolate pudding, peanut butter whipped cream (so easy to make), and gooey caramel. The whole thing is topped with chopped pretzels and peanuts. YUM!! This treat is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

These cookies take the chocolate chip cookie to the next level. Instead of being packed with chocolate chips, these cookies are packed with chopped up Andes mints! (If you can't tell by my recipes, my husband's a bit of an Andes Mint fanatic...) If you aren't a huge mint fan, you could replaced with other types of candy chopped up - Reese's, Mounds, Hershey's Cookies and Creme, etc.

Ok, I get it isn't fall, but this snack is too great to pass up. This snack takes caramel apples and kicks it up a notch. Not only is it easier to eat (and great for sharing), it also allows you to add whatever your stomach desires. Chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, nuts, marshmallows, chocolate sauce, Nutella...the combinations are endless! This would be great to take to a party and share with friends.

Hope you enjoy the Superbowl and these tasty treats!

Bear-y Cute Treats for Chinese New Year!

This Friday is Chinese New Year, so I'm sharing some adorable edible Panda treats. Did you know that in China, the panda bear is a symbol of peace and friendship? In recent years, it has begun replacing the dragon as the symbol for China. I think these bear-y cute (sorry I had to) treats would be a perfect way to celebrate the holiday!

I've had a special reason for making Chinese themed treats - my nephew! Jaxson was adopted from China in Spring 2012. He is such a blessing to our family. My first treat I have to share was something I made for him and our family members when we went to the airport to meet him for the first time. My husband and I made these panda and dragon treats and placed them in little Chinese take-out boxes.

Candy Panda and Dragon Treats

The pandas are made from Oreos dipped in white chocolate. You then pipe on some black icing around the eyes, as well as the nose and mouth. Before the icing dries, stick on white candies and add black dots to finish the eyes (you can also use Wilton candy eyes). To finish the pandas, cut a Junior Mint in half, and add them for the ears.

The dragon is actually just a small Rice Krispie covered in red Fruit Roll-ups. Then take red jelly beans, cut in half, to serve as the nose and horns. I then added white candies with black dots to serve as the eyes. Get the full directions here.

Next up, are some cupcakes I made for an adoption celebration in honor of my nephew!

These cupcakes are pretty simple to make, but are adorable when finished! I just covered regular cupcakes with white icing, added mini Oreos for the ears, and piped on the rest of the details! You can get the full instructions here, along with a mini version!

Lastly, I have a third panda treat that I've never shared on the blog before! These cupcakes were one of my very first cupcakes I decorated, it was a ways before I even started my blog. These may be a tad bit rough (I was just learning how to pipe and was using a ziploc with a hole cut in it). But, these cupcakes are still cute! The pandas are one of the many adorable cupcake ideas from the Hello Cupcake books.

Oreo Panda Cupcakes

Here's how I made these:
  • Bake equal number of regular and mini cupcakes
  • Cover the small cupcake in white icing and set to the side
  • Ice the regular cupcake in chocolate icing and cover with smashed up Oreo crumbs
  • Place a tooth pick in the back section of the top of the regular cupcake and place the small cupcake down on it. You want the white icing to be facing you when you place it on the toothpick.
  • Using chocolate icing, pipe eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Place Oreo cereal on for ears (chocolate Cheerios)
Hope you enjoyed these panda themed treats!

Pink vs Blue - Football Gender Reveal Party

This past weekend, some good friends of ours had a gender reveal party. I'd never been to one before and was so excited to help out with the party by supplying the cake. Since it was near the Super Bowl, and the dad used to play football, they decided to go with a football themed party. The party was so creative, everything fit the football theme perfectly. There was tailgate inspired food, Team Blue/Team Pink buttons, coolers for the diaper raffle, pink and blue goals, and scoreboards to keep the score of Team Blue/Pink during the games and activities. They even revealed the gender by throwing a football through the correct colored goal! We had a great time at the party celebrating with our friends and their families.

When my friend asked me to make the cake, I was thrilled to be a part of the celebration. I've never done a gender reveal cake before and I was honestly a tad relieved when she mentioned the cake would not be the actual reveal. She was finding out the gender a couple weeks before the party, and I was nervous about keeping that a secret for that long! I was so impressed that she continued talking about the baby without using pronouns, I would have probably slipped within a day or two.

This cake adds to my growing collection of sports themed creations - Super Bowl cupcakes, basketball cake, and a basketball court cake. My friend and I discussed the cake a lot and bounced off some ideas, and of course looked for inspiration on Pinterest! We decided to incorporate various ideas we found.

Something Savory #10

I don't know about you, but I love quick and easy meals I can throw together. During the week, you probably aren't going to find us making steak and baked potatoes for dinner. By the time my husband and I get home from work, we are tired and hungry! Simple dishes that can be quickly thrown together definitely keep us from being tempted to go out to eat...well at least most nights.

That being said, sometimes there are dishes where you just can't substitute some prep work and complexity, at least not while still getting the desired level of taste! Today's beef and veggie stir fry dish is one of those that requires some prep work - but trust me, it is definitely worth the effort! The recipe is broken down into two sections: steps for the night before cooking, and work for the night you are eating. 

My husband and I love all kinda of stir fry, but this is definitely one of our new favorites! 

We've made stir fry before, but never marinated the meat for very long. Letting the beef marinate overnight makes all the difference! The marinade is a delicious blend of ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, and a few other ingredients. 

Another thing to prep the night before is the rice for the fried rice. Chilled rice works so much better when frying, so we cooked it the night before and let it chill. It's so easy to cook with our rice cooker, it's definitely one of our favorite kitchen appliances!

Beef Stif Fry ingredients:
  • 1 lb thin sliced sirloin beef
  • Broccoli
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 3 cups cooked Jasmine rice (or Basmati)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • Fried rice packet
  • 2 tsp soy sauce (or amount called for on fried rice packet)
  • 2 eggs (optional - we left it out of our dish)
  Marinade -
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbs brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
Beef Stir Fry instructions:

Night before -
  • Freeze beef for 4 or 5 hours
  • Cook white rice in rice cooker per directions
  • Mix together water, soy sauce, and ginger
  • Add in garlic cloves
  • Whisk in brown sugar
  •  Slice beef into thin strips
  •  Place marinade in Ziploc bag and place beef in marinade.
  • Remove air from ziploc bag and seal, place in another bag and seal
  • Freeze overnight
Day of -
  • Heat 2 tbs butter in skillet on medium heat
  • Stir fry rice for 5 mins
  • Add stir fry seasoning packet and soy sauce, stir fry for 1 min
  • If you'd like to add egg, add egg to one side and scramble, mix the egg in the rice
  • Set rice off to the side (remove if using same pan)
  • Remove portions of beef at a time, draining the sauce, and place in pan (don't overcrowd the pan)
  • Stir fry on medium high heat until cooked through
  • Remove beef and stir fry veggies on medium heat 4-5 mins
  • Place beef back in pan with veggies
  • Pour marinade over beef and veggies
  • Cook on medium heat for 4-5 mins, you want to make sure you cook long enough since you are putting the marinade back in that the raw meat had been in

Make sure and check out my other savory recipes!

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

When I was four years old, a little boy at my preschool asked me to marry him. I said no for a perfectly logical reason - he liked raisins. Apparently in my mind that was the worst thing ever! Apparently I've matured a bit, I married someone who likes raisins. But, I never started liking the dried fruit. Because of that, I've never enjoyed the classic oatmeal raisin cookie. In fact, I've been sorely disappointed a few times with sneaky oatmeal raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip!

The other day, though, we were at the grocery and a certain oatmeal cookie caught my eye - oatmeal butterscotch. I knew I had to try them as soon as I saw them, I absolutely love butterscotch! I was kicking myself for not having thought of it. I've experimented with chocolate chip cookie recipes by adding other types of candy in for the chocolate chips (such as these Andes Mint cookies). But, I've never thought of replacing the raisins in oatmeal cookies!

Since I hadn't made oatmeal cookies before, I decided to use the recipe from Quaker Oats. The cookies turned out great, I can't wait to make them again!

Oatmeal Butterscotch cookie ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 3/4 brown sugar
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
Oatmeal Butterscotch cookie directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Cream together butter and both types of sugar
  • Mix in eggs and vanilla and beat until combined
  • Mix together dry ingredients (flour, soda, cinnamon, salt) in a separate bowl
  • Add dry mixture to the dough and beat until completely incorporated
  • Mix in oats and beat until completely combined
  • Fold in butterscotch chips
  • Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • Place tablespoon size balls of of dough on parchment paper
  • Bake for 10 mins
  • Cool on rack
I hope you enjoy this twist on a classic cookie recipe!

Slam Dunk Cake

You may have noticed it's been a while since I've made a cake. Thankfully, I have quite a few cake projects coming up within the next few months! Check back in the following weeks for a football themed gender reveal party cake, a car/plane themed cake, sweets for an art themed birthday party, and some fondant pieces in the theme of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood!

This past weekend, we celebrated my brother-in-law's birthday. He and my husband celebrated by attending a UK basketball game (go Cats!). Given their excitement of the game, and my brother-in-law's love of basketball in general, I decided to go with that theme for the cake. Long time readers of the blog may remember a basketball themed cake I did for my husband a while back. I decided I wanted to venture out and try a different design this time. I like experimenting with new techniques and ideas, and my family doesn't mind being guinea pigs when it comes to cake!  I decided I wanted to use the Sports Ball pan and make a 3D basketball cake.

I was so pleased with how the cake turned out, particularly given the disastrous day I had trying to make the cake. Does anyone else have issues when baking/cooking in someone else's kitchen?! We have a tiny kitchen with hardly any counter space, but I think I get in a rhythm and am used to where everything is. I feel like every time I bake at my parent's house, I'm all over the place and out of sync. Just in trying to make the cake, I managed to pour boiling water on my fingers, burn my pinky finger on the oven rack, and melt the cord of their electric hand mixer (just don't ask...). Their microwave also decided to start making weird noises and flashing when I tried to soften butter. So, yeah, it was just one of those days. But, after some aloe for my fingers and electrical tape for the mixer, I was able to finish up his cake. I even finished a few cupcakes to go along with it; the treats were a big hit with my family!

Here's how I made the basketball cake:
  • Prepare cake batter - a denser cake works best, but I used my go-to chocolate cake recipe
  • Spray Wilton sports cake pan with Pam Baking Spray (I found that tends to work best)
  • Fill each pans with 2 1/2 cups batter
  • Bake two semicircle cakes using Wilton sports cake pan 
  • Let cakes cool for 5 mins, and then turn cake over onto board to rest

  • Let cakes cool completely
  • While cooling, mix together buttercream - here's my go-to recipe
  • Tint the buttercream orange
  • I decided to use the bottom side of the cake board as I decided it looked like a hardwood floor
  • Shave off a bit of the bottom of one cake, to make it flat on the bottom
  • Place cake on board, cover with buttercream, and place the second half on top

  • Cover the ball with orange buttercream

  • Smooth out buttercream using a non-design paper towel (such as Viva)
  • After smoothing, pat buttercream with a paper towel that has round design

  •  Roll out black fondant to thin ropes

  • Place black fondant ropes onto cake to form lines of basketball


The cake ended up feeding more than I thought it would, the pans looked so small. Just to be safe, I went ahead and made some cupcakes to match. During all the craziness I ran out of time to finish them all, but made a few look like basketballs. Here's how I decorated them:
  • Bake and cool cupcakes completely
  • Make another batch of orange buttercream
  • Use a spoon (or spatula) to place a mound of buttercream on top of cupcakes
  • Smooth out buttercream and round out the top using a non-design paper towel

  • Roll out thin, small strips of black fondant
  • Place the black fondant on the cupcakes to form the lines of the basketball

Don't forget to check back over the next few weeks for new cake ideas and tutorials!

Liven Up Your Muffin Mix

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Since working on my blog, I've gained an appreciation for cooking/baking from scratch. I used to mainly cook/bake from mixes, but I've branched out to include fresh ingredients. Sometimes, though, it's nice to be able to quickly throw together a meal using a mix, particularly if the results are still tasty. For me, there's a certain type of mix that is my go-to for quick blueberry muffins.

While I love these muffins, I decided to experiment a bit with them. Why not see if they could be even better?! By adding one simple ingredient, I was able to transform these ordinary muffins. I would ask you to guess, but the picture already gave it's lemon!

Lemon is a great complement to blueberry, so I figured it would be a perfect addition to the mix. I just added 1 1/2 tbs of lemon zest (roughly a small to regular sized lemon) to the batter. This simple addition to the mix completely changed the flavor and added a fresh twist to the muffins.

I made these one night last week and we had them for breakfast the next morning. Both my husband and I thought it was a good ratio of blueberry to lemon, I would stick with the zest of a small-regular sized lemon for every 6 muffins.

Simple Lemon Blueberry Muffin ingredients:
  • Blueberry mix
  • 1/2 cup milk (or whatever ingredients were needed for mix)
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon zest (1 small lemon per 6 muffin0
Simple Lemon Blueberry Muffin directions:
  • Preheat oven to 425F
  • Zest lemon
  • Mix blueberry muffins per directions
  • Mix in lemon zest
  • Spray muffin tin with cooking spray
  • Spoon batter into muffin tins
  • Bake around 10 mins

Banana Bread with Peanut Butter Glaze

Banana bread

I used to love snow and cold weather. Sledding, scarves, boots, snowmen, mittens, hot cocoa - what's not to love? Then I moved to our current town... We only moved just a few hours north, but apparently we crossed some sort of snow line. Now granted, we aren't getting snow like Buffalo, NY, but still it's more than I've ever dealt with. We are also not quite far enough north that they know how to deal with it!

We definitely got hit with the winter storm last week! Our town had around 6-10 in, but the worst part was the ice and windchill! Last Monday, the high was -8 with windchills down into -30's. Not fun. So many of our friends and coworkers were dealing with car batteries dying, pipes bursting, and long power outages. I am so ready for spring!!

During the snow-magedon, our place got a tad chilly. I'm definitely not complaining, we kept power the whole time. But, for this cold natured girl, it got cold. I decided it was a perfect time to bake something warm and toasty - especially a recipe that took a while! I noticed some bananas that were getting a bit brown, so I decided to try banana bread.

I hadn't made banana bread in years. Sometimes I like it, other times I don't. I knew I wanted to make the bread nut free, my husband and I prefer it that way. I also wanted to incorporate a peanut butter glaze for the top. I looked around and found some different recipes, I decided to try and tweak the Food Network version. It claimed to be moist; dryness is usually the culprit behind my dislike for some banana bread. I was a bit hesitant as it seemed to use less milk than others. It is definitely dense, but also very moist! I added some nutmeg and vanilla to the recipe, along with the peanut butter topping!

You can find the recipe cards at the bottom of the post to print, save, or share.

Banana Bread with Peanut Butter Glaze ingredients:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 tbs butter (room temp)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tbs milk
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Glaze:
    • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tbs milk
    • 1 tbs peanut butter
Banana Bread with Peanut Butter Glaze directions:
  • Preheat oven to 325F
  • Cream sugar and butter together until smooth
  • Add eggs, one at a time
  • In a small bowl, smash bananas and mix in milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla
  • In a different bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  • Pour banana mixture into batter and mix until fully combined
  • Pour in dry ingredients
  • Mix until flour disappears
  • Spray loaf pan
  • Pour batter in pan
  • Bake 1 hour 10 mins
  • Set on a cooling rack for 5 mins
  • Whisk together peanut butter, milk, and powdered sugar
  • Remove banana bread from pan
  • Cover banana bread with glaze

Here are the recipe cards for you to share, save, download, or print. Enjoy!

Valentine's Day Cookies with a Candy Surprise

Can you believe it is almost the middle of January?! It seems like Christmas was just last week... You may have noticed January has been a bit different, so far, on my blog. I've taken a break from the sweets lately; last week was all about the savory dishes. Well, I've started getting a few cake projects lined up, so I'm back to my regular posting schedule. I hope to start each week with a cake/cookie decorating project or tutorial. Mid week will be for new recipes I'm trying out. Then I plan to finish the week with a savory dish, craft/DIY project, blog tutorial/project, etc.

It's almost mid-January, so that means Valentine's Day is just about a month away! I've already started seeing the candy and cards in the stores, and I've been reading a ton of blog projects online. I decided to experiment this weekend with a Valentine's Day cookie idea I had, I'm excited to share it today!

Have you seen the pinata cookies on Pinterest? They have a burro pinata shape, are multicolored, and filled with candy. It's such an adorable idea, and really easy to make. You just take 3 identical cookies,  cut a hole in the center cookie, fill the hole with candy, and "glue" the cookies together with icing. I've really been wanting to try to make these, but hadn't had an occasion calling for pinata I didn't have the burro shaped cookie cutter.

When brainstorming Valentine's Day cookie ideas, I remembered those pinata cookies and decided that would be perfect for the holiday! Instead of multicolored burro cookies, I used pink heart shaped sugar cookies with white icing. The cookies were easy and so much fun to make, I could see these being a great project to do with kids!! I even bought the Valentine's Day M&M's, so the cookies would be filled with pink/red/white candy.

These cookie treats require 3 sugar cookies "glued" together with icing. I will admit, having the 3 cookies together makes for a lot of cookie in each snack. You couldn't use small cookies either, because you need room for the candy. But, this treat is perfect to share with someone special!

I actually hadn't made sugar cookies from scratch in quite a while, so I decided to try out a new recipe. I ended up using one from Food Network. I used the corresponding icing recipe of theirs, it tasted delicious and had the perfect stiff consistency needed for decorating and sticking the cookies together. The original recipe stated it yields 5 dozen cookies. I used a medium sized heart cookie cutter, though, and only got about 20 out of it.

Valentine's Day Sugar cookie ingredients (recipe card included at the end of the post):
Cookie -
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
3 tbs powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

Decor -
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbs milk
Valentine's Day M&M's, or other small holiday candy

Valentine's Day Sugar cookie instructions (get the recipe cards at the end of the post):
  • Preheat oven to 325F
  • In a small bowl, whisk together an egg and vanilla
  • Cream butter until fluffy, scrape down the side of the bowl to get all the butter in the base of the bowl
  • Add in both types of sugar and cream for 2-3 mins
  • Scrape the side of the bowl again
  • Add the egg mixture to the batter and beat for 1 min
  • Sift the flour and salt in a medium sized bowl
  • Add to the dough mixture and beat until just blended
  • Add a few drops of pink food coloring and mix until fully incorporated
  • Turn the bowl over and drop dough onto plastic wrap
  • Wrap up and refrigerate for at least 1 hour
  •  Remove chilled dough and roll out to roughly 1/4" thick, cut out heart shapes
  • Bake cookies 12-15 mins
  • Whisk together powdered sugar and milk
  • Place icing in piping bag with a small round tip 
  • Group the cookies into sets of three (for each treat you are going to make)
  • Once cookies are completely cooled, cut out a hole in the middle of the cookies that will be in the center
  • Lay out the bottom cookie and pipe icing around the edge of the cookie
  • Place the cookie with the hole on it
  • Fill the hole with M&M's
  • Pipe icing on the edge of the middle cookie
  • Place a third cookie on top
  • Decorate the top cookie with whatever you want

I ended up making a few of the candy treats, but also just decorated some cookies on their own. I haven't done a lot of cookie work before, so I was pleased with how they turned out! Here is the collection of cookies I worked on:

Hope you enjoy this fun cookie tutorial, I'm sure it would be a hit with kids (or adults) for Valentine's Day! If you are looking for other Valentine's Day ideas check out my fondant Love Birds topper, my chocolate covered strawberry cake, or my sweet and salty snacks that would be perfect for Valentine's Day (check the bottom of that post)!