Peanut Butter & Fluff Tagalongs

I hope you’re prepared for the most addictive cookie in the universe.

As far as I’m concerned, pretty much all of the girl scout cookies are addictive. Luckily for me, I tend to grocery shop at odd hours and therefore never run into anyone trying to sell me cookies. Actually, maybe I should say unluckily; my life is seriously lacking in the thin mint department.

Let’s forget about thin mints for the moment and get back to my obsession with all things peanut butter. I’m not lying when I say these taste exactly like a tagalong cookie and I can very easily eat twelve without feeling that guilty.

These will satisfy all of your sweet/salty cravings and with just four ingredients, I don’t understand why you’re not off making them right this second. You can obviously omit the marshmallow fluff for a more traditional tagalong cookie but I wanted to be fancy. And you can’t get fancier than marshmallow fluff.

Peanut Butter & Fluff Tagalongs

• Ritz Crackers
• Peanut Butter (any kind)
• Marshmallow fluff
• Chocolate chips or bars (dark, white, milk, etc.)
• Sprinkles (optional)

Make small peanut butter and fluff sandwiches with the crackers. Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Using a spoon or fork, carefully dip and coat the cookies into the melted chocolate. Place on wax or parchment paper, sprinkle with sprinkles or crushed up crackers and wait until the chocolate hardens. (You may want to speed up that hardening process by placing them in the fridge and leaving them there until serving. They melt easily).

These should be on your Superbowl dessert table because amongst all the yelling, grunting, cheering and beer spilling, it will be nice to eat something so refined (except when you start fighting over the last one).


Spicy Garlic Hummus

I really hate chickpeas. No, really, I hate them.
But I’ll make an exception for hummus; especially when it’s of a garlic or supremely spicy flavor. And if you hate chickpeas, you should make an exception too.

Because you’ll be extremely pleasantly surprised. I’m almost one hundred percent sure that when I first started liking and eating hummus, that I had no clue what it was actually made of.

Hummus has quickly become one of my favorite things to eat ever. It’s healthy, filling and tastes good with just about anything. My mom and I could easily devour an entire container together with carrots, pita chips, and pretzels. I’m serious. You’re welcome to join us because even if we may not want to share, it’d probably be better for everyone.

Spicy Garlic Hummus
Serves 1 (ha, kidding!)

1 can chickpeas
1/4 c. olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. plain greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tbsp. hot sauce
1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 jar hot red peppers (optional)

In food processor, add chickpeas (you can rinse and drain them from the can or not, it’s your preference) and blend until chunky. Add olive oil, garlic and greek yogurt; blend until mixed well.Add crushed red pepper, hot sauce, lemon juice and garlic powder. Mix until you’ve reached a smooth consistency* then scoop hummus into serving bowl. Top with a few hot red peppers if desired for serving purposes and extra spice. Serve with chips and veggies.

*You may need to add more olive oil or greek yogurt to achieve a smoother, creamier consistency. Also, I would think that you could totally omit the olive oil and replace it with more greek yogurt; it gives it a very creamy texture that I liked.

You should bring this to your Superbowl party. I won’t tell anyone what hummus is made of if you don’t, deal?

Warm Cinnamon Apple & Grilled Chicken Salad

I love this salad.

I came up with the idea about a year ago. The heat in my apartment was broken and being a college student, I pretty much had no food…except, you guessed it, apples, a head of lettuce, and a frozen bag of chicken strips from Trader Joe’s.

Obviously a salad was going to be on the menu that night. But, the problem was, it was so freaking cold. The thought of eating cold lettuce, covered in cold dressing made me almost forgo dinner that night. (Almost, Mom, I said almost…no need to worry, I’m eating plenty).

That was how I somehow came up with this idea of grilling the chicken and apples together to create a warmer salad. I know I’ve said this a lot, but it really is so easy. It became my go-to meal for the rest of the week. Until, of course, I ran out of ingredients and was back to contemplating between ramen noodles or eating a jar of peanut butter.

Warm Cinnamon Apple Grilled Chicken Salad
Serves 2 as main dish (up to 4 as side dish)

1 tart apple, chopped (I used granny smith)
1 small/med. chicken breast
1 tsp. cinnamon
6 c. mixed greens
(spinach, romaine, etc)
1/4 c. walnuts, chopped (optional)

In a pan over medium heat, cook the chicken until lightly browned on both sides (you could probably also cook the chicken in a george foreman grill or a grill pan). Remove the chicken about 2 minutes before it has finished cooking and slice into strips or pieces; return to pan. Then add the chopped apples and cinnamon to the pan.

Stir the chicken and apples while cooking for about 2-3 minutes, until the chicken browned and the apples have warmed and appear grilled. Remove from heat. You can either place chicken/apple mixture directly on top of the salad or leave it in a separate bowl for serving purposes. If desired, top salad with chopped walnuts for an extra crunch. Serve with warm honey mustard vinaigrette.

Warm Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
1 tbsp. oil
1 tbsp. honey
2 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. white vinegar

Whisk all ingredients together. Heat in microwave.

It’s a bit classier now without those frozen chicken strips.

Fifteen Minute Fettuccine Alfredo

Let’s talk pasta.And creamy, cheesy alfredo sauce. Because, let’s be honest, the two kinda belong together. What’s so great about this alfredo is that you can literally have it on the dinner table within fifteen minutes.

I have quite a large italian family, so I’ve eaten my far share of fettuccine over the years. For Christmas Eve, my Aunt would always make this amazing dinner with all the fish, seafood, etc; pretty much your typical Italian Christmas Eve dinner. However, she would always make several pounds of fettuccine also.

There were so many of us children that we would hog most of the fettuccine at our table. Because what ten year old is going to eat calamari? Well, I’ll tell you that I had no plans of ever touching anything other than this fettuccine because it was so good. And at the age of ten, fish really freaked me out.

I eventually outgrew my fear of eating fish. Albeit, I never ventured that far in my seafood eating adventures. Especially now that I may have developed an allergy to fish/seafood, it’s still unknown as of now. It’s totally okay, though, more pasta for me!

Fifteen Minute Fettuccine Alfredo
Makes about 4 servings (or more)

1 c. half & half
1 egg
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 c. parsley
1 lb. fettuccine or any type of noodle

Cook pasta according to the instructions on the box. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in microwave. Add the rest of the ingredients; mix well and microwave 1-2 minutes. Stir, repeat 2-3 times until it thickens up a bit.

Once pasta is done, drain the water from the pan. Either leave the pasta in the pot or transfer to a bowl. Pour alfredo sauce over top and mix well to distribute the sauce. Serve and enjoy!

If you’re planning on serving this to a large amount of people, it’s really simple to double, triple, quadruple the recipe. I’d say the amount of alfredo sauce is equal to one pound (box) of pasta. So if you’re cooking two pounds, double the recipe and so on…

Excuse me while I wipe alfredo sauce off my face.

Toasted Coconut & Walnut Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Drizzle

I literally just made these yesterday and I’m dying to share.

I love all things about this cookie. It’s sweet, it has a little crunch to it and it’s just so packed with flavor.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t too sure how they were going to turn out but I ate three right out of the oven. The roof of my mouth hates me right now but it was worth it. You can’t beat cookies straight from the oven.

The dough was probably my favorite part. I’m sure this recipe could make about four dozen cookies…I only got about three but then again, I did eat my weight in cookie dough. The calories don’t really count until it’s in cookie form, right?

What’s really great about these cookies is that you can totally adjust the recipe to your liking. If you’re a huge coconut fan, go ahead, add an extra handful or two. Not feeling the chocolate drizzle or it’s too much of a hassle? Totally cool. They taste just as great without it, trust me, I did ample sampling. Although there is definitely something beautiful about that chocolate drizzle on top.

Especially when you’re the one doing the drizzling (or being the drizzler) because you get to melt all that wonderful chocolate and secretly hope there’s going to be extra so you can lick the bowl, spoon, bag etc. Also, feel free to use any type of chocolate. I only had semi-sweet mini chocolate morsels but I’m positive that dark chocolate would be absolutely gorgeous drizzled on top. White chocolate would be great as well, I’ll keep that in mind for next time.

Toasted Coconut & Walnut Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Drizzle
Makes 3-4 dozen cookies

1/2 c. butter (1 stick), softened
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. coconut (I used the sweetened kind by Baker’s)
1 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. walnuts, finely chopped (optional)
1 c. chocolate chips or chocolate bar, any kind

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. {This is optional: On a greased cookie or baking sheet, spread coconut and walnuts on the sheet and toast them for 5 – 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn the coconut. Allow to cool before adding to batter}

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together until creamy. Then add the eggs and vanilla; mix well. Mix in the flour, oatmeal and baking soda. Add coconut and walnuts;
mix well.

You can either drop the dough by the spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8 – 10 minutes or chill the dough for about thirty minutes, then rolling the dough into a loose ball and dipping the top into coconut for extra flavor, then also baking 8 – 10 minutes. It’s up to you, they both taste equally fantastic; I did half and half.

Melt chocolate in the microwave for 1 – 2 minutes and spoon into a small ziploc bag. Make a very small cut in the corner of the bag; drizzle chocolate over cookie. Allow chocolate to cool completely before storing cookies in a jar or tin.

With all this coconut talk, I really want a piña colada.

Peanut Butter Tandy Cakes

Wanna know a secret?

I could probably live solely on peanut butter…

And maybe some butterscotch krimpets. When I first moved onto campus as a freshmen, my grandmother would send me boxes and boxes of butterscotch krimpets. Now that I think about it, I probably haven’t eaten a Tastykake butterscotch krimpet since then.

Enough about the krimpets, though, they couldn’t hold a candle to Tastykakes peanut butter kandy kakes. It was always a good day when my mom would put those babies into my school lunch. A close second definitely being oatmeal cream pies (because who doesn’t love Honey, I Shrunk the Kids?).

I made these right after new years. I’m sure my family was so glad I sabotaged helped out with their new years resolutions while I was on winter break. I mean, my resolution was becoming more comfortable in the kitchen; and these tandy cakes? I think it requires more effort to not eat them than to actually make them because they are literally so easy.

I remember so many birthdays and parties that these little cakes made an appearance and I’ve never witnessed anyone not liking them. But, then again, it’s almost impossible to not love chocolate and peanut butter.

Peanut Butter Tandy Cakes
Makes about 24+ servings, depending how you cut them

4 eggs, beaten
1 c. milk
2 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. peanut butter
8 oz (or 6 pack) Hershey bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 10 x 15 dish with butter or Pam. Combine the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla in a bowl, mix well. In another bowl, sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Pour the flour mixture into the egg/milk mixture and mix until blended. Pour into greased pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

When cake is taken out of the oven, drop the peanut butter onto the cake while hot. Spread evenly as peanut butter melts. Freeze for about 30-45 min. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double broiler and spread evenly over the cake. Cut it into squares and refrigerate until serving.

I dare you just eat one.

Simple Cream of Broccoli Soup

When I was little, I wouldn’t even sit near a plate of veggies let alone eat them. If it was green, forget it. The only green thing that I would eat was green mint chocolate chip ice cream, but that’s a story for another time.

You’re talking to a girl whose first words she learned to spell were pizza and cookies. Vegetables, especially broccoli, were not in my vocab.

This soup is an entirely different story. I loved this soup before I even stopped hating broccoli. I would order it almost every time I went out to eat with my family; of course I probably swallowed the broccoli whole in fear of tasting it or the waiter carted off a bowl with the discarded broccoli sitting lonely at the bottom.

The problem with restaurant or store-bought Cream of Broccoli Soup is that it is very often high in fat, sodium, etc. This homemade version is definitely healthier.

The best part of this soup, seriously, is how easy it is to make. I live in a college apartment; and my kitchen space is very, very limited. I really try to make all of my meals because if any of you remember college food…it’s not particularly the tastiest or healthiest food out there. It being wintertime and freezing outside, I’ve been craving the comfort of warm, hot soup; a soup beyond chicken noodle or microwaveable ramen, a soup with few ingredients that didn’t need to be pureed or strained or cooked for hours.

If you understand my dilemmas, then this soup should be on your dinner menu like right now. It’s healthy, hearty, creamy, cheesy…do you need any other reasons?

Cream of Broccoli Soup
Makes about 4 servings

3 c. chopped broccoli* (about 2-3 heads)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Salt & Pepper
2 c. chicken broth (store-bought or homemade)
1 medium onion, quartered
3 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1 c. grated cheddar cheese (optional)

In a medium sauce pan, combine broccoli, garlic powder, salt & pepper, chicken broth and onion. Bring this to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes. In a pan, melt the butter and stir in flour off heat. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Place milk mixture back on medium heat and stir until it thickens. Add the milk mixture to the broccoli mixture and stir until thickened. If desired, add the grated cheese to the soup and mix until melted. Serve hot and sprinkle extra cheese on top.

* Chop the broccoli into smaller pieces and this eliminates the need to puree the soup.

I know what I’m having for lunch, what about you?