Valentine Snack Mix

6 Feb


Just in case you’re not aware, Valentine’s Day is exactly eight days away!  In honor of the holiday, today I’m sharing a snack that would be fun to send your kids (or spouse) in their lunch.  Or to snack on while watching a romantic movie???

Valentine Snack Mix

  • 9 Cups Chex® Rice or Corn cereal (I used 6 cups rice chex and 3 cups chocolate chex – yum!)
  • 1 Cup White baking chips
  • 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Red, Pink, and White M&M’s
  • 1/4 Cup Red or Pink Jimmy Sprinkles (I found heart shaped sprinkles!)

Measure cereal into a large mixing bowl.  Melt baking chips, peanut butter, and butter together.  Pour over cereal and stir until cereal is evenly coated.

Spoon into gallon size zippered bag and coat with powered sugar by shaking ingredients together (A great task for little hands).  Stir in candy and sprinkles.

If mixture is warm, spread out on wax paper to cool.  Once cool, pack into snack size bags for your loved ones to enjoy!


Valentine Snack Mix



Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins

1 Feb


Believe it! These chocolate beauties are made with NO flour, but you would never know by tasting because the texture is amazing- fluffy and moist!  The ingredients are actually very simple, which is my favorite kind of recipe.  They are sweetened with honey, but are minimally sweet.  Hence the title muffin, not cupcake.  If you’re looking for more of a dessert taste, you could top them with chocolate frosting.  My thanks to Michelle at for the recipe.  They were a HUGE hit with my gluten-free-chocolate-and-peanut-butter-loving husband!

  • 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter or almond butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.  Line or grease muffin tin.  Gently melt together butter and honey on stove top or in microwave in short intervals. Do not boil.  Whisk in cocoa powder and peanut butter until smooth. Whisk in eggs and baking soda. Pour into muffin tin. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.  Bake for 18-22 minutes until done.
Yields 12 muffins.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffin -


Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins

Meatless Monday, Vol. 5

21 Jan

Crunchy Black Bean Tacos-

I scored two successful pinterest recipes this past weekend- dinner and dessert all in one night!  Here’s the first.  It’s a mexican dish called Crunchy Black Bean Tacos.  I would describe it as part quesadilla and part taco.  It’s a bit easier than the Black Bean Burgers I posted a while back (although the burgers are better for freezing) and definitely as tasty!  Stay tuned for the second recipe later this week…

Crunchy Black Bean Tacos
from the book Cornerstone Cooking; posted on

Taco filling1 Can Black beans, rinsed
½ Cups Red onion, minced
1 Teaspoon Cumin
1 Teaspoon Paprika
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, chopped
4-6 Ounces Pepper jack cheese, grated
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
8 Corn tortillas
Toppings (see below)


1) In a medium bowl, mix beans, red onion, cilantro, spices, and a pinch of salt. Grate your cheese and have it ready as well.

2) In a large, non-stick or cast iron skillet or griddle, add a few drops of oil and heat over medium-high heat.

3) Add about 1/4 cup of the bean filling to one tortilla. Top with a sprinkle of grated cheese.   Fold in half and place in skillet. (Add a few drops of oil for each tortilla)

4) Using a spatula, press down lightly on the tortilla so it holds its shape.  As the first tortilla cooks, move it to the side and do a second one. The size of your pan or griddle will determine how many tacos you can cook at once.

5) Cook each taco for about 3 minutes per side until they are nicely browned and crispy.  When flipping the taco to cook on the other side, use a spatula and flip the taco toward the fold so the filling doesn’t fall out.

6) Serve tacos with toppings like hot sauce, salsa, avocados, and sour cream.  I added some avocado to the inside, then dipped the tacos in salsa and sour cream- so good!!!  So, feel free to adjust ingredients slightly to suit your tastes!

Serves 4.


Crunchy Black Bean Tacos-

Carrabba’s Chicken Bryan

15 Jan

Carrabba’s Chicken Bryan

As promised here is the recipe for Carrabba’s Chicken Bryan.  It didn’t win the birthday dinner vote, but it’s the one I was rooting for, so I made a few days later anyway!

If you’re not familiar with this party for your taste buds, it’s my pleasure to introduce you.  It consists of grilled chicken breasts topped with a generous portion of goat cheese then smothered in a lemon butter garlic sauce with sun dried tomatoes.  Can you wrap your brain around amazingness of this?!  And, as if it couldn’t get any better, try subbing out the chicken breast with a tender slab of filet mignon!  Oh my word!  The photos do not do it justice.

Chicken Bryan

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • salt, to taste
  • ground pepper, to taste
  • olive oil
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 -4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (I used 1 tablespoon dried basil)
  • 4 teaspoons onions, minced
  • 4 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 8 tablespoons butter, divided (I reduced this to about 4 tablespoons!)
  • 1/2 cup tablespoons white wine
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon’s worth)
1. Brush chicken with olive oil, season to taste with salt and cracked pepper.  Grill (or bake at 325°) chicken until done (internal temp of 160°).
2. Prepare lemon butter sauce while chicken is grilling/baking. Saute onion and garlic in 2 Tbsp butter (I used olive oil instead of butter).  Add white wine and lemon juice, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes to reduce.  Add remaining 6 Tbsp butter (I used 4 Tbsp), a little at a time, until it melts and mixture is emulsified.  Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes and basil, heat until hot (but do not boil!).
3. Top nearly-done chicken breasts with goat cheese until cheese warms and softens.
4. To serve, spoon lemon butter sauce over chicken breasts.
Chicken Bryan

Christmas Poke Cake

9 Jan

Christmas Poke Cake

Alright, the votes are in and the fondue dinner won!  Thanks to all who voted!!!  Today is the hubby’s birthday, but he has to hold out for one more night to enjoy cooking his own his birthday dinner due to scheduling issues.

As a result of the voting, some questions came up from a few who aren’t familiar with Chicken Bryan and it’s amazingness (can you guess which one I voted for?!).  AND, I just found out today that our local Carrabba’s (where Chicken Bryan is served) has closed.  What a sad day!  So in light of these events, I promise that I will have this recipe on the blog next week so we can keep on (or begin) enjoying Chicken (and Filet) Bryan at home!

Now on to the all important issue of birthday dessert…

Basically, this is the winter counterpart to the Pumpkin Better Than Cake I made this fall.  This version is full of chocolate- chocolate cake, crushed oreos, and hot fudge sauce- and accented with peppermint!  I made this cake for my family’s Christmas Day dinner and it was devoured quickly!  I made a gluten free version of this for the birthday boy by substituting a GF cake mix and GF oreos .  The poor guy had to sit by and watch us enjoy on Christmas Day, so I figured he more than deserved a chance to enjoy it himself!

Christmas Poke Cake

Here’s the gist of it.  You bake a chocolate cake.  Poke holes in it.  Pour sweetened condensed milk and peppermint creamer to fill holes.  Layer hot fudge sauce, whipped cream, crushed oreos, and crushed peppermints on top.  It’s pretty much sinful!  Here are the details:

Christmas Poke Cake

  • 1 chocolate cake mix, prepared and baked according to the directions on the box
  • 1 cup peppermint dairy creamer
  • 14.5 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 jar Smuckers hot fudge  sauce
  • 1/4 cup peppermint dairy creamer
  • 1 cup crushed Oreos
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip
  • Peppermints or Candy canes, crushed (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
  • Crushed Oreos for topping (approximately 1 cup)

Once the cake has cooled, use the bottom of a wooden spoon to poke approximately 20 holes in the cake.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup of the peppermint dairy creamer. Pour over the cake, trying to fill in the holes.

In the same bowl, whisk together the hot fudge sauce and 1/4 cup peppermint dairy creamer. Mix in 1 cup crushed Oreos.  Pour and spread the fudge mixture over the cake as evenly as possible.

Spread the cool whip over the fudge. Sprinkle on the candy and crushed Oreos (as much or as little as you want).

Refrigerate for 4-6 hours (or overnight), until the sweetened condensed mixture has soaked into the cake and it’s thoroughly chilled.  Then it’s ready to enjoy!

Christmas Poke Cake

Do-It-Yourself Oatmeal

5 Jan

Do-It-Yourself Oatmeal

I’m finally back from my annual Christmas pilgrimage to Florida.  Indianapolis welcomed us home with several inches of snow.  Upon exiting the airport, my son acted just like a Floridian getting all excited about the tiny drifts of snow along the edge of the parking garage.  It was very amusing!  I, on the other hand, could not get to the car- and its heated seats- fast enough.

During these cold winter months, a warm breakfast makes all the difference to me as I get ready to face the elements for which my childhood in Florida never prepared me.  One of the quickest routes to a hot morning meal is a single serve packet of oatmeal.  I have consumed them for years, never questioning my choice.

Until recently, when I was challenged to make them myself.  It was one of those a-ha/duh moments for me!  Similar to other homemade foods (think microwave popcorn in brown paper bags), making your own packets of oatmeal is both money and nutrition savvy.  Thus my motivation for sharing the idea with you.

Here’s how it’s done (thanks to this blog):

1. Start with a container of quick oats and snack size resealable bags.  Scoop 1/3 cup into each bag.  My 18 ounce container of oatmeal made 18 packets.

Oatmeal Packets

Note: One third cup is pretty much what you get in the prepackaged bags and is usually just the right amount for me.  But the beauty of doing it yourself is that you can adjust the serving size.  If you’re making these for small kids, then 1/4 cup might be enough.  Or if someone in your family has a more hearty appetite, you may want a half cup of oatmeal per bag.

Freeze Dried Fruit2. Select a flavor.  Brown sugar is an obvious choice, but I also enjoy fruit flavors.  To accomplish this, I purchased dried fruit in the baby food section of my grocery store and it worked beautifully!  Here are the flavors I’ve tried so far:

Maple and Brown Sugar- add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.  After cooking, add dash of maple syrup.

Apple Cinnamon- add 1 tablespoon of dried apples and 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar.

Strawberries and Cream- add 1 tablespoon of dried strawberries (blueberries, peaches, etc work too!), 1 teaspoon of powdered milk, and 1 teaspoon of sugar or sugar substitute.

3.  Label and date your bags so you know what you’ve got a month from now.

4. When you’re ready to eat the oatmeal, cook just as you would a store-bought packet of oatmeal- with water or milk.  I prefer to cook with just enough water to cover the oatmeal and then add milk after it’s cooked, but that’s just me!

I’d love to hear what flavor combos you come up with, so please comment below!

DIY Oatmeal Packets

Green Goddess Grilled Cheese

18 Dec

Green Goddess Grilled Cheese-

How’s that for a dramatic name?

If you’re like me, you need some healthy meals to balance all the sweets and goodies taken in this time of year! (Hello, my name is Karis, and I’m addicted to Christmas Crack!)  This sandwich gives a punch of nutrition along with amazing flavor!  I will definitely be making this again.  Soon.

You can make this in any skillet or griddle on the stove top, but it’s much easier in a panini maker.  If you don’t already have one, it might not be too late to add it to your Christmas list!

Green Goddess Grilled Cheese

  • 2 slices bread (I used rye)
  • 2-3 tablespoons Basil Pesto
  • 2 slices mozzarella (or a handful of shredded)
  • handful fresh baby spinach
  • ¼ avocado, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
  • butter for bread (unless you’re using the panini make and don’t need it!)

Spread about one tablespoon Pesto onto each slice of bread

On one slice of bread, add 1 slice of cheese, sliced avocado, crumbled goat cheese, spinach, second slice of cheese, then top it with second slice of bread. Press together gently.

Cook as you would any grilled cheese sandwich.


Now, if I could just get up the nerve to try a green monster smoothie, I’d really be combating all the holiday junk food with a load of nutrition!

Pork Chops to the Rescue

13 Dec

Honey Garlic Pork Chops-

I don’t know about you, but during the holidays I especially need some quick go-to meals to feed my family.  I’ll be busy shopping, wrapping, baking, addressing Christmas cards, etc and then at five o’clock suddenly remember that my family needs to eat dinner- oops!  These succulent pork chops have saved me several times!

Whenever the family pack of boneless pork chops goes on sale I buy them and then divide into freezer bags.  They are quick to thaw and made with ingredients I keep on hand.  So, they are easy and cheap! And of course, they’re tasty or I wouldn’t be sharing it with you all!

If you’re really ahead of the game, prepare the sauce the night before or in the morning to let the chops marinate before cooking.  But trust me- I know from experience- it also works to make the sauce just before cooking!

Honey Garlic Pork Chops
recipe from Spark Recipes

  • 1/4 + 1/8 Cup Honey
  • 3 Tablespoon Soy sauce
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 6 Pork Loin Chops, boneless, approx 4 oz each

In a shallow dish, whisk together honey, soy sauce and garlic. Coat chops in mixture. Reserve left over honey mixture for basting.

Now you have options:
1) Place chops on greased grill and cook over med high heat. Baste two times.

2) Place chops on skillet and cook over med heat. Baste as they cook.

3) Place chops in baking dish and cover with sauce. Bake in oven at 350° for 20-35 minutes (depending on thickness of chops).

Christmas Crack

6 Dec


Okay, the real name for this recipe is Terribly Terrific Toffee.  But someone on Pinterest labeled it “Christmas Crack” and I find it a much more appropriate name!  Here’s why: first of all, it is terribly addicting!; second,  it’s made from “crack”ers- haha; third you “crack” it into pieces for the final product.  This sweet delight was a huge hit with the company I served it to!  It just may become a holiday tradition in my household…

An added plus in my book was that it was super simple to substitute GF ingredients!

Christmas Crack

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
40 saltine crackers (I also made a batch with Glutino GF table crackers!)

Preheat oven to 350º. Line a 15×10-inch jelly roll pan or a 12×17-inch cookie sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Lay a flat layer of crackers out on the foil.

Melt the sugar and butter until a boil is reached. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until mixture is thickened and sugar is completely dissolved. Pour this mixture over the crackers and spread to coat evenly.

Bake for 5-10 minutes- until the toffee becomes bubbly. After removing the pan from the oven, let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips, let them soften and melt, and then spread them into an even layer.

Let cool and, if desired for expediting purposes, refrigerate until hardened.  I tried to be fancy and drizzle it with some extra white chocolate I had leftover, but that is completely optional!  Once completely cooled, break (crack!) into pieces.  I roughly followed the size of the crackers, but any shape or size will do!

For the Love of Nutella, 2

20 Nov

For the Love of Nutella, 2

This Nutella recipe doesn’t have quite the ease of the previous recipe, but the result is so heavenly you won’t mind the extra work!  Instead of cookies, these are truffles- a.k.a. balls of chocolate amazingness!  Seriously, the pics do not do them justice!  As with the cookies, the Nutella is sweet enough on it’s own, so no added sugar is necessary!

My only warning is that to keep these gems firm, I had to keep returning them to the frig or freezer, which added a lot of time to the process.  So plan accordingly!

Hazelnut Truffles
inspired by

  • 1-26.5 ounce jar of Nutella
  • 1 Stick of Butter, melted
  • 2 Cups Rice Cereal crumbs (Rice Krispies or Rice Chex, can also use graham crackers crumbs)

Candy Coating

  •  1 Bag of Dark chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoon Shortening

Combine butter, Nutella, and crumbs until well mixed and uniformly moist.

Scoop out filling and form into balls.  If mixture is too soft, refrigerate for an hour or so before making balls.  I had to return the mix to the refrigerator a few times during this process.  Place balls on wax paper-lined cookie sheet, and freeze for at least one hour.

When ready to dip: melt candy or chips in microwave in 30 increments, and thin with shortening. Dip the Nutella balls in the coating with fork, tapping off the excess, and place onto wax paper-lined cookie sheet to harden.

Garnish as desired.  Possibilities include sprinkling with mini chocolate chips, drizzling melted white chocolate, etc.  I ran out of time to make mine look as fabulous as they taste!