Thursday, October 18, 2012

pumpkin cupcakes & pumpkin cream cheese frosting

                              pumpkin cupcakes & pumpkin cream cheese frosting
                                                          source: skinnytaste

what you need-
  • 18.25 oz Betty Crocker Golden Vanilla Super Moist Cake Mix*
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1 cup water
for the frosting-
  • 8 oz Philadelphia 1/3 fat cream cheese (do not use fat free)
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (canned is fine)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 5 tbsp packed brown sugar

what you do-

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake wrappers.

Combine cake mix and pumpkin spice in a large bowl. Add pumpkin puree and water, mix about 2 minutes.
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake about 20 - 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
For the frosting, combine the cream cheese, pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar until smooth. You can use a spatula to ice the cupcakes or pipe them which may require making more frosting.

Makes 24

*Betty Crocker has reduced their cake mixes, so read the labels on your box. Dunkin Hines still carries 18.25 oz boxes.

these were so easy and soooo good!


Sunday, July 29, 2012

sweet & salty granola

Sweet & Salty Olive Oil Granola 
Source: With a Cherry on Top

what you need: 
3 cups of Old-fashioned Oats
1 1/2 cups Pistachios, hulled
1 cup Almonds, roughly chopped
1 cup Sweetened Coconut Flakes
1 cup Dried Fruit
3/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon
1 Egg White

what you do: 
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the oats, pistachios, almonds, coconut, and fruit; mix well until combined. Add in the maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon; toss until evenly combined.

In a small glass, whisk the egg white until it becomes frothy and foamy (about 2 minutes). Mix into the granola mixture.

On a baking pan covered with parchment paper, spread the mixture out in an even layer. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, to get evenly browned.

Remove from heat and let cool completely. As it cools, it will begin to harden and form into one large piece. Once it is cooled, using your hands, break up the granola into clusters of your desired size.**

Store in an air-tight container or resealable plastic bag.

**I don't make clusters...I like it broken apart all together in case I want to eat it with milk like cereal. 
So good! Love it!! 


Friday, June 15, 2012

Mason Jar Salads!

Mason Jar Salads!

Another pinterest success! And, you can make them way ahead of time! :) Perfect for lunches!!

i use the small mason jars because i feel like that's enough for lunch.
you can also do this in the large mason jars if you want a little more :)

Most important: dressing on bottom and lettuce on top. If the lettuce & dressing touch the lettuce is slimy and gross!

Layer like this bottom to top-




Cheese (or you could put the cheese before the lettuce. for some reason I like the cheese on top)

My fav is easy-

Light Ranch Dressing



Red Peppers



Bacon bits

Caesar (from my not-so-simple-life)-

Light Caesar Dressing


Grilled Chicken (optional)





Add croutons later

and that's it! enjoy!!


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Squares

Another pinterest success! I had a lot of bananas I needed to use so I made these bars and banana bread...yum. These oatmeal squares are great to grab and go :)

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Squares

1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large mashed banana
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Mix together the quick cooking oats, light brown sugar, baking powder, kosher salt and ground cinnamon.

Add in the vanilla extract, milk and egg. Mix the ingredients together.

Add in the mashed banana and peanut butter. Combine with other ingredients.

Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 8 by 8 inch metal baking pan.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Easy peasy!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tomato Soup with Chicken & Gorgonzola Cheese

b recently had his wisdom teeth taken out. he waited forever to have this done and even the oral surgeon said it was more difficult than he thought it would be so i knew b wasn't going to heal as fast as i did (mine were SO easy and i was good to go in a few days) i knew i needed to make lots of soft foods and soup! i started looking online and wanted to check out cooking light...AND i found this beauty!! i made it and b loved it! (i did too! yay!) he has asked that it be added to the "rotation" :) Tomato Soup with Chicken and Gorgonzola Cheese source: cooking light
what you need: 1 teaspoon olive oil 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic 1 cup sliced celery (about 2 stalks) 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper 3/4 pound shredded cooked chicken breast 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese what you do: Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add celery, pepper, and chicken; cook 6 minutes or until mixture is heated through. Add tomatoes and broth; bring to a simmer. Cook 8 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Tip: Gorgonzola is a type of blue cheese. You can substitute crumbled feta or goat cheese, if you prefer.
soooo delish! xoxo. manda

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Marbled [Easter] Eggs!

Marbled [Easter] Eggs! AKA dinosaur eggs!!

I saw this on pinterest (of course) and HAD to try it!! I have an Easter deviled egg platter so I always make deviled eggs this time of year. We were having a little brunch at work today so I thought it would be the perfect time to try the marbled eggs. They turned out AWESOME and my coworkers and I have decided they should be called dinosaur eggs…since that’s what we think they look like. I will definitely make my eggs like this from now on…because it’s so fun! I mean, really, how perfect would these be for kids?! OR adults…as I’m a big kid myself.

The blog that these eggs came from is narcissism is necessary and she has step-by-step pictures. I was lazy last night and didn’t do step-by-step pics….so if you want to see it go to her blog and check it out.

Marbled Eggs (new name = Dinosaur eggs)
Source: narcissism is necessary

What you need:
Food coloring
White vinegar
Sandwich bags

Step 1: put eggs in pot of water, bring to boil, and boil for 7 minutes.

Step 2: After eggs have boiled for 7 minutes turn off the heat and leave eggs to cool in the water for 5 minutes.

Step 3: After eggs have cooled for 5 minutes, remove the eggs and let them cool for an additional hour. (I just put mine in a bowl to cool)

Step 4: After the eggs have cooled for 30 minutes, gently tap or roll the eggs against a hard surface (countertop, etc) until cracks are all over the eggs. You want the shells cracked but still intact.

Step 5: Place your egg(s) into a sandwich bag and add a few drops (roughly a tablespoon) of food coloring.

Step 6: Roll the eggs around in the sandwich bag until they are coated with the dye. Leave eggs in the bags for 30 minutes to allow the color to absorb.

Step 7: After the eggs have been in the bag for 30 minutes, rinse the eggs under water to remove excess dye. Then splash the eggs with white vinegar (this makes the color set). Use a paper towel to dry the eggs.

Step 8: Peel off the shell and BOOM! Awesome eggs! :)

My deviled eggs-

Remove yolk(s) and put in a bowl. Mash yolks completely. Add cheddar cheese. Mix in mayo (I use Light Dukes)…a generous spoonful, a little mustard…few squirts, and some relish. Mix together well and pipe or spoon mixture into the egg whites.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

coconut chicken w/ sweet chili dipping sauce

We all know pinterest is the BEST! I found this coconut chicken w/ sweet chili dipping sauce the other day and couldn't wait to make it! B and I have been pretty lazy in the kitchen lately so it was Friday night and we wanted to get back into the kitchen together. Insert coconut chicken. :)

This recipe is from Budget Bytes. Awesome website...she breaks everything out in price and shows you cost per serving. check it out here.

coconut chicken w/ sweet chili dipping sauce

what you need:

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 large eggs
1/4 cup coconut milk (optional) (i didn't use)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil, divided
1 cup sweet chili sauce

what you do:

Trim and cut each breast into 6 strips, diagonally to prevent the end strips from being really short. **Making the chicken strips thinner is the best**

Prepare 3 bowls. First bowl- combine the flour and salt. Second bowl- combine the eggs and coconut milk. Whisk together until well combined. Third bowl- stir together the panko bread crumbs and shredded coconut.

Place 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a large heavy duty skillet and heat over medium/high heat until it is just below smoking. You can test the heat by throwing in a little bit of flour. When it is hot enough, the flour will sizzle and create a lot of bubbles.

While the oil is heating, prepare the chicken strips. First, coat each strip in the flour and salt mixture. Then dip each into the eggs/coconut milk and finally coat each in panko and shredded coconut. I find it easiest to coat all of them in the flour then go back and then do the egg wash and panko/coconut for each before moving onto the next.

After breading the strips, the oil should be hot enough. Place about 6 strips in the pan at once. There should only be one layer in the pan and there should be about an inch between each strip. (If you over crowd the pan it will get too cold and the strips will soak up a lot of oil instead of frying.)

Fry the strips for 2-3 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown and crispy. Place them on a plate with paper towel to drain and move on to the next batch. After a couple of batches you may need more oil so you can add the second 1/4 cup to the pan. Allow the oil to come up to temperature before frying the next batch (2-3 minutes). Because the strips are thin, they should be cooked through by the time both sides are browned. You can tell by the texture of the chicken; it should be stiff when pressed.

Serve with sweet chili sauce.



Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ron Paul Cupcakes

My dear friend Shannon’s husband is a HUGE Ron Paul supporter. His birthday was yesterday so Shannon and I were talking on Monday about what kind of cupcakes we could do for him. As you know, Shannon and I have been on a cupcake-making kick lately…see Call of Duty, Skating… (and there was a Taylor Swift cupcake cake that I realized I never blogged about! must do. it was adorbs!)

Shannon couldn’t help this go around due to her schedule but I was determined Ron Paul cupcakes would be had for Kevin’s birthday. I mean, seriously, Ron Paul is like the ONLY thing Kevin posts on facebook, he was him for Halloween, and I’ve pretty much only seen him wearing Ron Paul shirts. Oh, and they have a flag by their mailbox in their yard. Yep, BIG Ron Paul supporter! Ha :)

I cut up a pizza box, taped it, and painted it gray. I found all the pictures of Ron Paul on the Internet and proceeded to cut them and Modge Podge them onto the pizza box. I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out even if it was a pizza box!

The cupcakes were strawberry with cream cheese icing and from what I hear they were a hit!!

happy birthday, kevin!

Monday, January 23, 2012

miscellany monday

Miscellany Monday @
lowercase letters

pinterest. a fail and a success.

and this was my first pinterest copy FAIL.

see how cute these rainbow pancakes are??

Source: via Manda on Pinterest

so yeah...i was all like i can totally do that...

ummmm, FAIL.

well. that's basically it. my rainbow pancakes sucked. HA!

BUT i do have a success story.

i saw this jewelry holder when i first got on pinterest and asked b to make it. he said he would.

it seriously took him FOREVER to actually finish it. but he finally did and i LOVE it!!!!! he's making another one for my bff. such a sweet husband.

tell me your success stories! i like the failure ones, too :)


Sunday, January 22, 2012

best brownies

i had mlk day off work but b didn't. so, i cleaned the house, got all the laundry done and put away, AND had brownies on the counter for him when he got home! can i get a manda wasn't meant to work?! ha. i kid, i kid. (sort of)

i've made these brownies before and LOVE them. i had some chocolate tub icing in the pantry (don't ask why...gross) so i used it instead of making the icing the recipe. bad idea but either way the brownies were still delicious!!

the best brownies.
source: hershey's

what you need-

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

what you do-

1 Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch square baking pan.

2 Stir together butter, sugar and vanilla in bowl. Add eggs; beat well with spoon. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in nuts, if desired. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

3 Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Prepare CREAMY BROWNIE FROSTING; spread over brownies. Cut into squares. About 16 brownies.


what you need-

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
3 tablespoons HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1 tablespoon light corn syrup or honey (i've always used honey)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

what you do-

Beat butter, cocoa, corn syrup and vanilla in small bowl until blended. Add powdered sugar and milk; beat to spreading consistency. About 1 cup frosting.



Thursday, January 12, 2012

elmo cake

I made this Elmo giant cupcake for my niece’s 2nd birthday. I was pretty nervous about it as I don’t think my decorating skills are that great yet but overall I was really happy with the way it turned out!!

I used the Pampered Chef New Design Easy Accent Cake/Cookie Decorator. I have had this tool for a while but had stuck it in a cabinet and not thought about it. I remembered it and pulled it out for this cake and I’m SO glad I did… it made making Elmo’s “fur” sooo much easier! I highly recommend it!

The birthday girl wore this super cute outfit made by a friend of mine. ADORBS!

Nothing exciting with the cake flavor…I just made ole chocolate…it’s always a crowd pleaser so I figured it was the best bet for little kids. :)

I've posted this recipe before but here it is again-

chocolate cake/cupcake
source: hersheys

what you need:
• 2 cups sugar
• 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
• 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup milk
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 cup boiling water

what you do:

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans or cupcake pans.

Baking a one-pan cake: bake 35 to 40 minutes at 350° F

Baking cupcakes: line with baking cups. Fill 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22-25 minutes at 350° F

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cast Iron Skillet Apple Pie

my mom made this apple pie first...brad and i recently had the pleasure of tasting it. so, i said it had to be on our new year's menu. it's so awesome and so easy! make it. as soon as possible. and eat with lots of ice cream. thank me later.

Apple Pie
Source: Southern Living, September 2011

what you need-

2 pounds Granny Smith apples
2 pounds Braeburn apples
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 (14.1-oz.) package refrigerated piecrusts
1 egg white
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

what you do-

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Peel apples, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Toss apples with cinnamon and 3/4 cup granulated sugar.

2. Melt butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat; add brown sugar, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and place 1 piecrust in skillet over brown sugar mixture. Spoon apple mixture over piecrust, and top with remaining piecrust. Whisk egg white until foamy. Brush top of piecrust with egg white; sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar. Cut 4 or 5 slits in top for steam to escape.

3. Bake at 350º for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly, shielding with aluminum foil during last 10 minutes to prevent excessive browning, if necessary. Cool on a wire rack 30 minutes before serving. Serve with ice cream.


me, shannon, and karlie after our second bowl of apple pie and ice cream. karlie was good...she only had ice cream. (crazy, i know) but shannon and i were down with the pie AND ice cream. happy fatting new years day to us :)


Monday, January 2, 2012

Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin

growing up my mom always did a traditional new years lunch. you know- greens, black-eyed peas, rice, pork, etc. so now that i have my own family and house i have carried on the tradition. for the past few years brad and i have gotten together with friends to enjoy the awesome food! i may even be getting used to the greens...dare i say even starting to like them a little? hmmm. yep.

brad and i also eat pork tenderloins a lot. i was trilled when i saw this one on pinterest (who isn't thankful for pinterest?!) and since new year's was around the corner i thought i would give it a try. it was AMAZING and we loved it! super easy to make, too, so that's always a plus!

brown sugar and balsamic glazed pork loin
source: C+C Marriage Factory

what you need:
1 (2 pound) boneless pork tenderloin (or regular pork loin)
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce

what you do:
Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over roast. Place in slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan. Heat and stir until mixture thickens. Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Serve with remaining glaze on the side.