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28 April 2013

No Bake Peanut Butter S'more Bars

So I am about a day late, dollar short with blogging this semester. And I believe I have whined about the busy schedule that I have had this semester about a zillion times. I mean down right exhausting!  Though, I have just loved this semester--as crazy as that sounds. I LOVED teaching this semester, my class was sooo sweet and fun to work with, and I LOVE my placement- and each day reminds me just how much I love working with kids. Well- on the plus side of dropping off from blogging- I have so much to share with you all! :) I will break it up in the different posts- to spread out the fun ;)

Last Saturday, I had a wonderful Crawfish Boil get together with my friends at the dog park, which always makes for a fun time! The hubby was a bit bummed, because he does not like Crawfish, so he had miscellaneous snack foods to munch on, which I was not too bad. I probably ate, definitely ate way more than I should have, but what can I say?! I just love crawfish! I had crawfish, corn, mushrooms, chips and dip, and a lot of different desserts. There are a few of us, that like to bake at my dog park, so the host asked the three of us to bake a dessert. He wanted to make a competition out of it, which mortified me. I am probably the least competitive person out there-- I mean I work with little children. When you work with kids, you better be ready to "lose" (on purpose) very graciously ;) And so competitions never work for me, because I just want the other person to win. And it was pretty funny, because I think the three of us, were all extremely non-competitive.

For the crawfish boil I decided to make these Peanut Butter S'more Bars that I saw on Pinterest. Lately I have noticed that I really enjoy the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. Plus, I always love trying different twists to a classic favorite (S'mores). Ninja was really excited that I chose to make this, because I ended up emptying out the peanut butter jar which meant he got to lick the jar clean :) before it got thrown out. He loves those lucky days when he actually gets something out of the kitchen! And boy does he recognize the scent of peanut butter! :) Gotta love that Ninja face!

Anywhoo, I decided to make these, which in hindsight probably was not the best decision. You see, the recipe calls for using marshmallow fluff, which is fine, when refrigerated  Sadly, I made these for a Crawfish boil where the food needed to be left out so that people could grab and enjoy. And its April in College Station, Texas- which makes for some pretty warm weather. #dessert fail. Do not get me wrong, these bars came out delicious. It could be that I am a sucker for both S'mores and the peanut butter-chocolate combination, but regardless they were yum! The fail was that after about 30 minutes they fluff began to melt. :( Which was still yummy but made for some messy eating). Bottom line- make these when they can be refrigerated or stuffed in your mouth immediately (which is not hard because they are awesome) but not for a potluck :)



1 c. butter, melted
3 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/4 c. creamy peanut butter

1 large jar of marshmallow fluff 
1 (12.5 oz) bag of chocolate chips
2 tbsp. shortening
1 bag of mini Reese's Mini Peanut Butter cups


First line a 9x13 baking dish with aluminum foil. Grease aluminum foil with butter, shortening or cooking spray. This will help when removing bars from baking dish, to allow for cooking and easier-cleaner cutting into squares. Set aside. 

For the Crust:
In a microwave safe bowl  melt butter on high for about 45 seconds. Then in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and peanut butter. Add more peanut butter if graham cracker crust needs more moisture. 

Transfer graham cracker crumble to the prepped baking dish and pack it down firmly using the bottom of a flat drinking glass. Make sure it is packed firmly, otherwise when you cut the bars, the graham cracker will crumble and create a mess. 

For the topping:
For the marshmallow fluff layer: This set up will help. Have a cup with warm water set next to your crust. First dip a spatula in the warm water. Use the spatula to scoop out the marshmallow fluff and evenly distribute the scoops over the graham cracker crust. Then, wet your finger tips with warm water. Using your finger tips, evenly spread the scoops of marshmallow fluff over the graham cracker crust. Wetting your finger tips will prevent the marshmallow fluff from sticking to your fingers and prevent a mess. 

For the chocolate layer: In a saucepan over medium-low heat, bring together chocolate chips and shortening. Continue stirring until the chocolate chips are completely melted. Pour over the marshmallow fluff layer and use a spatula to gently, evenly distribute the chocolate. The chocolate may begin to sink below the fluff- this is okay :)

For Reese's crumble layer: Unwrap all the Reese's mini peanut butter cups. Chop the mini peanut butter cups [the easiest way to do this is to refrigerate them. So it is easier to chop up]. Sprinkle them on top of the melted chocolate. Immediately refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Or place in freezer for quicker cooling. Once cooled, wet a knife with warm water for easiest cutting (that way the marshmallow fluff will not stick to the knife). 


16 April 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

You probably know now that I am not a news person but I always take the time to address any tragedy to recognize the lives lost, the people hurt, and those who have lost loved ones. I feel saddened by those affected by the explosions at the Boston Marathon. My heart breaks for all those who have lost someone, especially for the 8 year-old little girl who was racing for the Sandy Hook Children. There is a special place for that little soul. I am thankful for wonderful people who have opened ran to help people, those who have opened up their home, as well as donated blood and money. Please keep those affected in your thoughts...

Last Sunday was Luke's birthday! Happy Birthday Luke! For his birthday Luke had a get together of his closest friends :) How sweet that he invited the hubby and I. He wanted to have shrimp boil. For those of you like me, you were probably wondering that a shrimp boil was. Well, let me tell you! It is the exact same thing as a crawfish boil, except using shrimp instead. So basically you boil shrimp, corn and potatoes in a Cajun seasoned broth. mmmmm. It was so yummy! Do not get me wrong I love crawfish but I really love shrimp! I literally ate so much that sitting up straight became quite difficult for me.

Well for his birthday, I asked Luke what flavor his most enjoyed in cake. He said that one of his favorites was the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. Although I have made both a Reeses Pieces Cupcakes (which I plan to do a re-do of very soon) and a Reeses Peanut Butter Cupcake, I have never made a chocolate peanut butter cupcake, so I was in for the challenge. Plus, I though it might be version of the chocolate peanut butter cupcake I tried at Georgetown Cupcakes. ::It turned out delicious, but I ended up making it nothing like the Georgetown Cupcake. Guess, I'll just have to try that one another day ::darn::. :) Another day making cupcakes, just mean the future holds that much more awesomeness! Luke and Justin seemed to really enjoy them!

Chocolate Cupcakes adapted from Recipe Girl 
Peanut Butter Frosting adapted from Fake Ginger


Preheat Oven to 325F Degrees

1 box of chocolate cake mix (devil's food or fudge)
1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. granulated sugar
1 1/3 c. water
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract 
1 c. sour cream
4 egg whites

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3/4-1 c. peanut butter
1-2 c. powdered sugar 
milk  (up to 1/4 c.)
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla


For the Cupcakes:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk together cake mix, flour and sugar. Then add in water, vegetable oil, and vanilla extra, mixing ingredients until creamy. Add in sour cream, stirring until incorporated and finally adding in eggs, again mixing until incorporated. Line cupcake pan with liners. Using an ice cream scoop, fill liners 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

For the Frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, combine cream cheese, peanut butter (if you want a light peanut butter taste add in 3/4 c. but if you want a strong peanut butter taste add in 1 c.), 1 c. of powdered sugar, 2 tbsp. of milk, honey and vanilla. Beat on medium speed and then medium-high speed for 5 minutes until creamy, light and fluffy. Gradually add remaining sugar and milk, 1/4 c. (sugar) and 1 tbsp. (milk) at a time--beating for 1 minutes after each addition. Continue adding in sugar and milk until desired consistency and sweetness in reached (i.e., you may not use all 2 c. of powdered sugar or 1/4 c. of milk. If you want more sweetness but need a softer consistency add more milk). The frosting should be stiff enough to hold shape once piped.


13 April 2013

Tater Tot Casserole

I had another extremely busy week that basically left me too exhausted to even sit and watch television. So I have to tell you the crazy cycle I have gotten myself in and cannot seem to break out of. Because I am so tired by the time I come home, I go take a "nap," but I have not mastered the art of taking short naps. Basically, I end up sleeping from like 8pm-3am, then I wake up to complete assignments and work I need to get done until about 7am, when I have to get ready and head to school. Which makes me even more tired when I come home- causing me to take a nap again- and again wake up at 3am! Ahhhh! Thank goodness for baking, cooking and awesome friends.

Speaking of awesome friends- I had another potluck dinner with Justin and Luke. Justin made this really creative manicotti with a twist. I had never heard of manicotti and he told me that it is pasta cannoli shells filled with ricotta cheese. But he decided to stuff the manicotta shells with string cheese and Italian sausage. I love string cheese and Italian sausage- so I was sold! I decided to make this orzo dish (to be posted). Afterwards, I had even more of a blast because we played this game scategories categories. Have you played that came before? I really, really loved it! It was so much fun! Though I have to say, I never knew how hard it would be to think of words on queue!

Okay, so I want to share something that happened to me that was really, really sad. I do not think that I hide at all that I am Sri Lankan and very proud to be so, that my skin is brown :) and my husband is white. You are probably thinking, okay.... This is why I am telling you this: my apartment complex has been renovating by pouring new concrete where the side walk is chipping and where the parking lot has potholes. Someone decided that outside of the hubby and I's apartment that they should write "WHITE POWER." in wet concrete so it would dry that way :( I cannot lie- that made me cry. I have no idea why someone would want to hurt someone's feelings who has never done anything to them and why they would violate someone's home. Underneath everything I value human life and human feelings. And it hurts to know that people do not like me just because I am "brown." I have lived a sheltered life and married a wonderful man- never thinking that the color of our skin defined out love. But yesterday, I experienced ignorance after a long time. :( And yes I know mentally- I should not be bothered, BUT emotionally it really brought me down... ::sigh::

Lets enjoy some Tater Tot Casserole :) Another fun kid friendly meal that takes me straight back to my childhood. Sometimes happy memories during really sad times- is greatly needed!

Adapted from Mommy's Kitchen


Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees

1 1/2 - 2 lbs. ground turkey
3 green onions diced
Pepper and salt to taste
1/2 c. diced onions
32 oz. package of tater tors
(2) 10 oz. can of cream of mushroom and cream of cheese
8-10 oz. can of sour cream
1 c. milk
1-2 c. grated cheese


In a large skillet over medium heat, brown ground turkey and diced onions adding pepper and salt to taste. (if you want additional taste- you can add crushed garlic). Drain excess fat.

In a large 9x13 casserole dished (greased with shortening or butter) pour meet mixture and spread evenly. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the cream of soup, sour cream, and milk. Then take sour cream mixture and evenly distribute over meat mixture. To evenly cover use a spatula.

You can do the next part two ways: you can randomly toss tater tots over the sour cream mixture to cover the top of the casserole or you can do what I did: I took each tater tot, one by one, and evenly placed them in rows to cover the sour cream mixture and create a nice uniform pattern for the top of the casserole. It does not affect the taste, so choose your hearts desire ;)

Sprinkle shredded cheese over entire casserole, evenly distributing but not entirely covering. The cheese will spread when it melts. Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes. Allow it to cool before cutting.


07 April 2013

Red Velvet Wedding Cake Cupcakes

Yesterday after posting about Crockpot Orange Chicken, if you remember, my sister and brother-in-law went to a Spurs game. Well, while they were at the game, the hubby and I decided to make it a date night. We walked along the Riverwalk, which is absolutely beautiful at night, and have a really nice dinner. We chose to stop at this place called the Rivers Edge after looking around at a few places. We out on the patio right at the edge of the Riverwalk. I was very excited, because I chose to do their three course meal with salad with avocado ranch sauce, lobster ravioli and a chocolate mousse cake for dessert. The hubby decided to get a dish called Pablano Pabill (chicken wrapped in banana leaf served with carrots, green beans, rice and plantains). Everything was so beautiful and so delicious. It was a wonderfully romantic dinner!

Today, we decided to get brunch with my sister and brother-in-law before heading back to College Station. We decided to go to a brunch place that was ranked really highly on Yelp and had rave reviews- a place called Magnolia Pancake Haus. It was featured on Food Network's Drive-ins, Diners and Dives. We drove there (though I may have put in the wrong address at first which took us to the completely wrong part of town, and by may--I did). When we got there, the wait was 60-75 minutes. That seems redunkulous right? Well by the time we got seated the wait was up to 90 minutes!

Sorry! It is a bit blurry. But I thought it looked cute!

All I kept thinking was this place better be over the moon fantastic. My sister and I always share dishes. We decided to get the crab cakes eggs Benedict and the jambalaya omelette. One came with a side of chocolate chip pancakes and the other a biscuit with sausage gravy. It was DELICIOUS but here is my little soap box statement- if a place--any restaurant no matter how great-- makes you wait more than an hour to eat-- it is hard to live up to that expectation! Right?!

I made these cupcakes for Ninja's Birthday Party for the "humans" ;) Since there were pupcakes for the fur-babies, I also wanted cupcakes for their owners (i.e., the humans). Well, ever since I made the Wedding Cake Cupcakes and loved it- I have been thinking of making these cupcakes with different types of cake. Two of my ideas included making a Red Velvet version and a Chocolate version (to come...). So, I decided to make the Red Velvet for Ninja's Birthday Party because a few of my dog park friends told me they preferred Red Velvet over the Chocolate. They came out FANTASTIC. Justin and Luke, who also came to Ninja's Birthday Party said it was the best baked good I have ever made. And my dog park friends ate it up-- they have not tried my baked goods before (this was the first time I brought anything I made to the dog park)-- so that was a good sign. I did not get to try it because I brought them all to the dog park and when I left- they were all done! YAY!

Cupcakes and Frosting adapted from the Recipe Girl


Preheat Oven to 325F Degrees

1 box Duncan Hines Red Velvet cake mix
1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1 1/3 c. water
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. sour cream
4 large eggs

2 (8oz) package of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 stick of butter, room temperature
2-4 c. of powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract


For the Cupcakes:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk together cake mix, flour, and sugar. Then add in water, vegetable oil and vanilla extract, mixing ingredients until creamy. Add in sour cream, stirring until incorporated and finally adding in eggs, again mixing until incorporated. Line cupcake pan with liners. Using an ice cream scoop fill liners 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

For Frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, combine cream cheese,butter, 1 c. of powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed and then medium-high speed for 6-8 minutes until creamy, light, and fluffy. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1/2 c. at a time-- beating for 1 minute after each addition. Continue adding in ingredients until desired consistency and sweetness is reached (i.e, you may not use all 3 c. of powdered sugar, if you want more sweetness but need a softer consistency add some heavy cream). The frosting should be stiff enough to hold shape once piped.


06 April 2013

Crockpot Orange Chicken

I was attempting to have April become 30 days of recipes :/ That failed fast ;) Yesterday was actually quite eventful- I had my day planned well since we were going head off to San Antonio to see the Vipsho (that is what I call my sister and brother-in-law because their names fuses so well ;). I had to go to school in the morning to teach and get a few things done on campus but the plan was to head home, pack, get Ninja ready (because Justin and Luke said they could watch him) and hit the road BUT I "lost" my iPhone. I say "lost" because I truly thought I left my phone in the lecture hall I was teaching in, so I was in panic mode. But after 1 hour I discovered my phone was in an office I swore I never went into (but hey I found it).

By the time I got home, I was exhausted- I think having a week of very little sleep- just hit me. So I took a nap. When I woke up- I suddenly got it in my head to tidy up a bit--so I did that. Long story short: the hubby and I did not get to San Antonio till around 930pm. And once we got here, we ate dinner with the Vipsho right away and then went to Howl at the Moon. I really love dueling piano bars! And when we came back to the hotel- I may have fallen asleep again....

Today began our food crawl with the Vipsho. I really need to do more sight seeing ;) But I have already been to San Antonio twice before- when I walked the River Walk and went to the Alamo. First thing we went to was a restaurant called the County Line--for some Texas BBQ (I think sometimes people say Tejas BBQ ;). If you remember- the hubby and I tried KC BBQ when we went to visit for Thanksgiving this past year and were quite disappointed. I told the Vipsho that they had to try Texas BBQ and would easily see why its better. Well I think I easily won that battle because even my sister said how good the meat taste :)

I then wanted to visit some cupcakeries to kill some time, because in the afternoon-evening the Vipsho was heading off to a basketball game. My brother-in-law is a HUGE Spurs fan. Actually he is just a HUGE sports fan, but his favorite basketball team is the Spurs and it's funny because he looks like Tony Parker. Anywhoo we ended up going to three: Kate's Frosting, Cupcake Couture (not related to the one in College Station) and Bird Bakery (a very hipster cupcake spot). Sad story: we were in a rush to get back since they had to go to the game, so I told myself I would photograph the cupcakes when I got home. But I forgot I lent my camera to them for the game and did not realize I had no camera for my cupcakes until I got to the hotel room :/ #cupcakepicturefail.

Wow that was a long post! Let go to cooking- here is an Orange Chicken recipe that I saw on a lot of food blogs that I like to follow. I was really excited when I saw it. BUT here is my note: I thought the sauce tasted great and Justin ate it up, the hubby on the other hand did not like it! I was a bit in horror because this is the first time he told me he did not like something I made and did not eat it! And yet I was so proud because I think it turned out great! After some talking, reading comments on the blogs I found this recipe on and help from Justin this is what we came up with: the orange chicken has a very "zesty" taste- if you do not like the taste of orange zest then you probably will not like this recipe. OR if you have an aversion from orange juice concentrate (like the hubby)- you will not like the taste of this recipe. If you have no issues with either- you are going to love it! 



4 chicken breasts cut into small chunks
1/2 c. flour
olive oil

1/2 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp. ketchup
6 oz. orange juice concentrate (1/2 can), thawed
4 tbsp. brown sugar


For the Chicken:
Put chicken and flour in a large ziplock freezer bag and shake well to coat chicken with flour. Then, in a large skillet or wok, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once heated, brown the chicken on all sides. The chicken does not have to cook through- the goal is to just brown the chicken to create a "crunchy" exterior that orange chicken has-- so just sear it to get the flour to stick and create a nice coating. Once the chicken has browned and you have a nice coating- place the chicken in a large crockpot. 

For the Sauce:
In a medium bowl, whisk together salt, vinegar, ketchup, orange juice concentrate, and brown sugar until you have a thick sauce. 

Pour sauce over chicken and toss gingerly to make sure all chicken pieces are covered with sauce. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 5-6 hours. Serve over rice. 


04 April 2013

Birthday Pupcakes

Happy Birthday to my baby! My Ninja face turned the big 0-3! Can you believe it? Another year older, and it flew right by! Well, being the Ninja obsessed mom that I am, I had planned a birthday party with my dog park friends. I thought I would make some pupcakes for the furry-babies and cupcakes for the humans ;) I also did not want Ninja to spend his birthday by himself, so I re-arranged my school schedule so that I was back around noon. It worked out perfectly, because I got to be home with Ninja and make some baked goods for his par-tay. Though I was 20 minutes late to our own party :/ I felt so bad! I mean who is late to their own party! #partyfail.

I was a bit bummed because it has been raining for a few days, and though it was not raining today, it was really, really cold! Where in the world did the warm weather suddenly go?! I mean it is April and this is Texas. I was worried that people would not come because it was so cold, muddy and dreary. I mean- I was even questioning whether to go ;) I am not a fan of the cold. I was happily surprised that when I got there- with about 60 cupcakes in hand (30 pupcakes and 30 red velvet)-- almost everyone who RSVPed actually came and then some :) How sweet was that! And they even waited to give their dogs pupcakes until I could take a picture :) #love #bestdogparkfriendsapersoncouldhopefor! Ninja and I totally love it!

You know who else came? Because I just have awesome friends like that? Justin and Luke. Ninja loves himiself- his Uncles Justin and Luke. He got so excited when he saw them there! And we celebrated with pupcakes and cupcakes :) Ninja tried to steal everyone's pupcake because he ate his too fast. And Beau and I were so popular holding extra pupcakes! But everyone seemed to have a nice time! Of course, Ninja cried when we left after 2 HOURS of play because Justin and Luke went in their own car. He got so upset! Luckily Justin did not have much work to do this evening and so he came to our place, to enjoy some dinner and open presents with Ninja! It was a great birthday :) Could not ask for a better birthday for my baby!

Adapted from Pizzazzerie


Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees
makes 30 pupcakes 
4 c. white-whole wheat flour 
4 tsp. baking soda 
1 (6oz) Chobani banana-strawberry yogurt
2 c. apple sauce 
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 c. honey 
4 eggs
4 apples, chopped 
1 carrot, grated 
1 c. shredded cheese 

16 oz. (2 packages) cream cheese
3 tbsp. honey
1/2 c. peanut butter 
Small dog treats for garnish (optional)

makes 7-8 pupcakes
1c. white-whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda 
3oz Chobani banana-strawberry yogurt 
1/2 c. apple sauce
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/8 c. honey 
1 egg
1 apple, chopped
1/2 carrot, grated
1/3 c. shredded cheese

4 oz. cream cheese
1 tbsp. honey
1/8 c. peanut butter
Small dog treats for garnish (optional)

* I provided the recipes for 2 different amounts, since I figured not everyone would be throwing puppy parties at the dog park ;)


For the Pupcakes:
Line cupcake pan with liners. In a large bowl whisk together flour and baking soda. Then add in wet ingredients--yogurt, apple sauce, vegetable oil, honey and eggs and mix until incorporated. Then fold in (rather than stir in) apples, cheese and carrots. Continue folding batter, until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Folding by hand rather than mixer- will prevent over-mixing and make pupcakes more fluffy. Using an ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake liner. Bake for 20 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let pupcakes completely cool before frosting.

For the Frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together ingredients (cream cheese, honey, and peanut butter). Allow the ingredients to cream for 6-10 minutes. You will notice the frosting double in size. This will create a nice, stiffy yet fluffy frosting! Frost cupcakes using a decorative tip of choice and top with dog treat. Ninja and the other dogs LOVED it! :)

Hope your pup enjoys,