This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PairsWellWithHolidays #CollectiveBias
Mini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce via Brittany's PantryWhy does food on a stick taste so much better? I have asked my kids this question several times and the answer is always the same: Because its fun!

This rings true for adults as well as kids and thankfully, it is ridiculously easy to do. My husband usually gets leftovers for lunch, but in the case of today’s recipe, it is so fast and easy, it just packed for everyone! I make a lot of wraps and sandwiches but I like variety in my meals as much as my kids. Hence, deviating from the norm happens rather often in our house. I’m a rebel that way.

I’m not sure how I got so blessed to end up with children that like strong flavors, but I did, and I am thankful. They have always liked the taste of a good, spicy salami and a sharp cheese. Why not deconstruct the sandwich?! Just like a holiday snack plate, this lunch ends up being a munch-able, exclusively finger-food type of situation. Toothpicks are cute, but they are also the perfect size for a school lunch!Mini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce via Brittany's PantryThe meat I like to use for these is the same kind I serve to party guests. Creminelli has several flavors of uncured, handcrafted Italian salami and at the present time, the Tartufo (with black truffles) is our favorite. What I particularly like about this kind of meat is that the flavor is full and fantastic, but not overly spicy or salty. You can really taste the pork in this salami which is perfect wether you like strong flavors or not. It is mild enough for everyone! Add a cube of cheese and an itty bitty tomato and you have great taste in just a few bites. The meat doesn’t contain any of the chemicals and preservatives associated with other types of salami and that makes it a definite no brainer.
Mini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce via Brittany's PantryI pick up Creminelli products at my local Whole Foods store so stocking up is easy and convenient. And necessary! Between school and work lunches and weekend snack times, I keep some handy on a regular basis. The fact that I can (and do) use it for company at a moments notice is definitely a benefit for this busy Mom! Be sure to look for the savory Tartufo salami in the meat and cheese section. Because it is uncured, it won’t be refrigerated so check the displays in the aisles. The toughest part will be deciding which flavors to bring home!
Mini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce via Brittany's PantryMini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce via Brittany's PantryWhen I pick up the salami, I like to grab some water crackers as well. My kids-and husband-love the extra crispy texture with the bold flavors of the skewers. Some fruit and olives on the side and they have a pretty spectacular lunch! The only thing that makes it better is the maple-mustard dipping sauce. A tiny container tucked in with everything else and they can dunk whatever they like! It is just mild enough that it doesn’t overpower the taste of the salmi, but lets be honest here. Its maple and mustard together with salami and cheese. On a stick! Does it get much better?

What are YOUR favorite flavors to eat with salami?
Mini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce via Brittany's PantryMini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce via Brittany's PantryMini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Spicy Maple Mustard
These are great with olives or pickles tucked into the lunches as well! Be sure to use grape tomatoes here, as cherry tomatoes will be too big for little mouths.

1 pkg, uncured, Creminelli Tartufo Salami
grape tomatoes
provolone, swiss, or mozzarella cheese, cubed small
1 T pure maple syrup
1 scant T mayonnaise
1 T grainy mustard
toothpicks or cocktail skewers

Remove the casing from the salami and discard. Cube the meat into small, bite-sized pieces. Skewer the tomato, meat, and cheese onto the toothpick. In a small bowl, mix the mayo, mustard, and maple syrup until combined. Serve skewers with the dipping sauce. Note: This entire recipe can be made ahead of time, making busy school mornings less hectic! Enjoy!

Fruit & Nut Halloween Bark

This Fruit & Nut Halloween Bark is a healthier take on spooky treats! {Brittany's Pantry}Zombies are not my jam.

When it comes to holidays, Halloween and all things spooky and ghoulish are my least favorite to celebrate. I have never really been into the decorations and the costumes and mannequins with fake blood. Its entertaining, but you won’t find me hosting a costume party or visiting a haunted house anytime soon. Go ahead and call me a party pooper, but you know those people you see that are really into Halloween? Well I am just…not. Please tell me I am not alone in this…

That said, if it involves food, you can count me in as an avid supporter!  :)  My kids are obvious fans of any event that gets them closer to candy and like most households at this time of year, we have a huge glass pumpkin filled with festive colored, individually wrapped sweet treats on our entry table. We live in the middle of nowhere and thus, will receive no trick or treaters, but the bowl of candy sits like a sugared little sentry, hospitable and ready for visitors.

This Fruit & Nut Halloween Bark is a healthier take on spooky treats! {Brittany's Pantry}This year, as part of a never-ending effort to be just a smidgen healthier than we were the day before, I decided to make family treats that were a bit less junkfood laden, yet festive enough to satisfy the most ardent of Halloween enthusiasts. I was going for a green and orange theme, so pistachios would be an awesome substitute for the pepitas (pumpkin seeds) in this recipe. The dried fruit and nuts can be found at and the site even has a special page for healthy snacks! You can find that by clicking here, and while you are browsing, jot down ideas for your own family!

As for my own kids, they were thrilled to see the candied eyeballs staring up at them from their chocolate. One piece is a nice little treat and SO much better for them than, say, a fun-sized candy bar. This plate is also fun to set out for guests this time of year. It screams Halloween! No fake blood required. :)
This Fruit & Nut Halloween Bark is a healthier take on spooky treats! {Brittany's Pantry}This Fruit & Nut Halloween Bark is a healthier take on spooky treats! {Brittany's Pantry}This Fruit & Nut Halloween Bark is a healthier take on spooky treats! {Brittany's Pantry}Fruit & Nut Halloween Bark
This keeps for a week, in the fridge, in an airtight container. That is, if you can keep your hands off! I even tucked one piece each in my kids lunches as a special treat!

1 bag, good quality dark or bittersweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli
pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or chopped pistachios
whole almonds, roughly chopped
dried apricots, chopped
dried mango, chopped
candy eyes

In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until JUST MELTED! Don’t overheat! Meanwhile, place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. When chocolate is melted, pour in the middle of the sheet pan and spread gently and slowly to a rectangle about the size of an 8X11 sheet of paper. This makes the chocolate thin enough that it won’t be too sweet, but thick enough not to fall apart! Sprinkle with however much of the dried fruit and nuts you prefer. Its totally a matter of taste. Place a few candied eyes around the chocolate! Chill, uncovered in the fridge until firm. Because the chocolate is good, and without the stabilizers that cheaper chocolate can have in them, it will melt if handled too much! Cut with a sharp knife into irregular shapes and keep it stored in the fridge to prevent meltdown disasters! Enjoy!

Spicy White Bean Dip W/Sriracha

This Spicy Bean Dip is creamy and light without being overwhelming. Great as a snack or appetizer for a crowd on GAME DAY!! {Brittany's Pantry}Have you ever read the description of a dish or read the ingredient list and you just knew it was going to be good?

I do that all time.  Like when I check out the recipe for a chocolate cake and I see the words sour cream, cocoa, coffee, ganache, and vanilla.  Yeah.  You know its gonna be outstanding.  Or a beef stew that has the words red wine and fresh rosemary tucked amongst the potatoes and onions.  Mmm.  You can almost taste it, right?  It is the same reason your mouth starts to salivate when you hear the words apple pie or pumpkin spice latte.  You already know what is in it and that it will be fantastic.

This dip is kind of like that.  Spice, lime, garlic, sesame, curry…mmmm.  For those of you that are looking for a bit of a change from the hummus scene, I got your back.  If you are obsessed with all things spicy and, well…we’ll just say it…Sriracha…then you are covered with this one.  If you are gluten free and love variety in your diet, then here ya go!  And if your house is the place to be for every football game from now until the Super Bowl because of your 879 million inch flat screen and make-ahead snacks with a kick are totally singing your song, well then I am playing your tune amigo!!
This Spicy Bean Dip is creamy and light without being overwhelming. Great as a snack or appetizer for a crowd on GAME DAY!! {Brittany's Pantry}I am not usually into food trends, but it is hard to avoid Sriracha right now.  And for good reason, since it is quite fantastic.  It was around a long time before it became the most famous condiment EVER and it will be around long after the foodie world has moved onto something else.  But don’t burn out on it because the flavor of this stuff is really spectacular.  Spicy, yes, but vinegary and earthy at the same time.  Not just any hot sauce, so don’t be fooled.  It is just good stuff.

The combination of flavors in the finished dip here is a little bit asian and a little bit mediterranean.  A nice fusion that is perfect with the flavor of the hot sauce and makes for a light and creamy dip.  My kids inhale this just as much as my husband and his friends do, so don’t be put off by the Sriracha in the title.  YOU control the heat and since you can dip nearly anything in it short of shoe leather and have it taste good, it covers all your bases.  If you are thinking this would be awesome at your upcoming Halloween party, you would be right. Adding this to your menu for game day and toting it along to a holiday party or two would also be in order.  Check YOU out being all trendy and stuff!
This Spicy Bean Dip is creamy and light without being overwhelming. Great as a snack or appetizer for a crowd on GAME DAY!! {Brittany's Pantry}White Bean Dip W/Sriracha
Recipe adapted from White On Rice Couple
This is great served with just about anything.  It is also fantastic on a tortilla with chicken or wrapped up with some deli turkey.  Spread it on toast with tomato and avocado and gaaaaaaah.

In the bowl of a food processor, add:
2 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T lime juice
1 heaping tsp chopped garlic
2 tsp sesame oil
1 T soy sauce-I prefer low sodium
2 T Sriracha, or to taste
1 tsp curry powder
1 T water

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.  Add water by teaspoonfuls if it is too thick.  Scrape sides of the processor and combine well. Serve with crackers, pretzels, and various veggies.  Enjoy!

Grilled Tomato & Bacon Bruschetta

Grilled Tomato & Bacon Bruschetta from Brittany's Pantry Living in South Carolina means lots of sunshine and an abundance of outdoor living spaces. My family and I, along with any guests that stop by, are most often on the porch enjoying the breezes, so whenever I have the opportunity to make meals outside and not heat up the house, I take it. Cooking outdoors allows me to spend more time with those I love, and to impart a little extra flavor into my food. And when I grill, I like to do it as simply as possible.

This recipe hits all of those points!

There are few things as good as fresh from the garden tomatoes. But some would argue, myself included, that the occasional addition of bacon only improves things. This is definitely one of those times. This simply grilled bread is just toasty enough to stand up to the tomatoes and give this snack a nice, toothy crunch.  Topped with summer tomatoes and salty bacon, this appetizer or first course could easily become a light dinner.  Prep the ingredients ahead of time and it becomes a fuss free dish you could make with your eyes closed.  Around here, an enormous glass of sweet tea (lots of ice) makes the perfect partner to a platter of this bruschetta, but I’ll let you make that call.

What is YOUR favorite dish to grill and what kind of cold drink to you enjoy it with?
Grilled Tomato & Bacon Bruschetta from Brittany's Pantry Grilled Tomato & Bacon Bruschetta from Brittany's Pantry Grilled Tomato & Bacon Bruschetta
This is an easy dish to prep ahead. Make the tomato topping and set aside until ready to serve.  Slice the bread and wrap well to keep fresh, and crumble or chop the bacon and set aside as well.  Have all the ingredients sitting out at room temp and waiting for you.  When you are ready to make it, brush the bread, grill, top, and serve-all in a matter of minutes!

1 lb bacon, fried till crispy
1/2 of a 1lb loaf of whole grain Italian baguette, or similar bread, cut into half inch slices (this will give you about a dozen slices)
3 large, vine ripe, preferably local tomatoes, chopped
small pinch of salt
large pinch of ground black pepper
2 T of olive oil
1 tsp of balsamic vinegar

When the bacon is cool, chop or crumble and set aside. Gently toss the tomatoes, salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar together in small bowl.  Set aside. Lightly brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and grill over medium high heat, just until toasted and grill marks appear. THIS WILL NOT TAKE LONG! A minute at most! Flip the bread to toast the other side. Remove the toast to a platter and top with large spoonfuls of the tomato mixture. Sprinkle with bacon and serve immediately.
Note: Topped with a fried egg, these make an awesome dish for brunch!

Chocolate Fluffernutter Sandwich Treats that are perfect for Independence Day!  Super easy and a great kid activity too! {Brittany's Pantry}As the summer progresses, I find myself wishing my kids were a bit more self sufficient.

I may be doing too much for them and I have decided to try and incorporate more age appropriate chores into their routine.  As you can probably imagine, they are thrilled.  Is anyone else struggling with responsibility and their kids?  Laundry folding, simple food prep, emptying the dishwasher; that kind of thing.  They are doing great so far, but they really really want to be more help in the kitchen.  My nine year old, Evelyn, has graduated to making pancakes all on her own and is getting more and more comfortable with the gas stove.  Eli, who is 6, is a master at making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and making sure everyone has milk poured into their cereal.  Lane, our three year old bundle of spiciness, just wants to be where everyone else is and make a giant mess.  Pretty normal for a toddler.

But these treats, which will grace our Fourth of July BBQ buffet this year, is the perfect task for all three.  Regardless of how neat or how messy they turn out, they will taste amazing.  There is nothing to cook, and the most dangerous utensil is a butter spreader.  What my kids find fascinating about it is that we can change up the sprinkles to suit any occasion.  Birthday themes, Christmas, or even NO sprinkles (God forbid…) on just a Saturday night.

My point is, if you have a ridiculous amount of stuff to do this weekend, why not give this recipe to your kids and say “Go to it!”  It can only end in fun.  And who knows?!  Maybe they will starting bringing you pancakes and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in bed!
Chocolate Fluffernutter Sandwich Treats that are perfect for Independence Day!  Super easy and a great kid activity too! {Brittany's Pantry}Chocolate Fluffernutter Sandwich Treats that are perfect for Independence Day!  Super easy and a great kid activity too! {Brittany's Pantry}Chocolate Fluffernutter Sandwich Treats that are perfect for Independence Day!  Super easy and a great kid activity too! {Brittany's Pantry}Chocolate Fluffernutter Sandwich Treats that are perfect for Independence Day!  Super easy and a great kid activity too! {Brittany's Pantry}Want the full recipe?  Click on this link to head over to the Columbia Moms Blog to see my post there!

Happy Independence Day, friends!!

Sweet Treats & Summer Fun

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareFunshine #CollectiveBias Snickers Ice Cream Bars and Summertime Fun {Brittany's Pantry}There are few things in this world as satisfying as ice cream on a hot day.

This seems to be a universal joy across all age groups and now that I live in South Carolina, I take my position as hostess on 100 degree days very seriously.  At this point in time in my life, there are always kids at my house and that is often my focus when entertaining.  When kids are happy, the parents are happy, and then everyone can relax.  And isn’t that what we all want out of our get togethers?  To have fun, laugh, chill, and really connect with our family and friends?  That is how memories are made and where relationships flourish.  If I can accomplish all of that and enjoy my time as well, I call that being a successful hostess.

I used to do everything from scratch and while it was exhausting, I really loved it.  The older I get, the more I realize that it isn’t the food that is served, but the time spent with each other that is remembered.  I have found an easy way to serve the ever popular ice cream in a fun and festive way!  Not only is it something I can do ahead (score!) but it is incredibly easy with maximum impact.

That happens with these Snickers® Ice Cream Bars and right now they are starting of the summer with some fun!! Do YOU want to get in on the action?  You can learn all about how to enter the sweepstakes to Share A Little Funshine by clicking here.

Share a Little Funshine Sweepstakes

Snickers® Ice Cream Bars are pretty incredible all on their own.  I am actually pretty choosy with my ice cream and these are one of the lucky few that make their way into my freezer from time to time.  Why?  Because with chocolate, caramel, peanuts, and ice cream all combined in one bite, it is pretty hard to resist.  I have always loved these treats and with kids, I wanted an easier way to serve them.
Snickers Ice Cream Bars and Summertime Fun {Brittany's Pantry}Enter these frozen pops!  This is so easy, its shameful!  Unwrap a Snickers® Ice Cream Bar and OH so very carefully, insert a wooden popsicle stick into one end, going about halfway up the stick.  Immediately place the ice cream back in the freezer (we want them to stay really frozen) and continue with as many as you would like to make. Snickers Ice Cream Bars and Summertime Fun {Brittany's Pantry}See the cute little ribbons in the pic above?  So easy.  Just knot on any kind of ribbon you like, although the 1/4 inch wide seems to work the best for this.  Customize your colors to a birthday party, bbq theme, Memorial Day celebration, July 4th, or use whatever you have on hand.  This is a great way to get kids involved with prepping for a get together and you can make as many or as few as you need.  Since they are stored in the freezer, simply set them on a decorative plate and serve.  No messy fingers, and even adults can walk and chat and munch on their ice cream.  Even better if you have a bonfire going and you can simply toss the sticks into the flames.  No clean up!Snickers Ice Cream Bars and Summertime Fun {Brittany's Pantry}Did you know that these come in a value box too?  So much easier when feeding a crowd!  I picked these up at Walmart and they couldn’t be easier to locate!  Follow the ICE CREAM sign and voila!
IMG_6509There are so many ways to enjoy time with friends and family this summer and it doesn’t stop with ice cream!  Having a few extras on hand can be a great way to celebrate warmer days and enjoy that occasional treat!  In addition you can download the Blippar app from your Apple or Android store to scan your package and receive exclusive content.Snickers Ice Cream Bars and Summertime Fun {Brittany's Pantry}Peanut M&M’s® are my go to treat when I want something chocolatey.

Which are your favorite to share with friends and family?  Are you a Plain M&M® kind of person?  Or a chewy Skittles® fan?

Sweet Citrus Sun Tea

Sweet Citrus Sun Tea is super easy and a fun summer tradition! {Brittany's Pantry}Whenever someone mentions sun tea, I immediately think of pickle jars.  Well, pickle jars and the black, well used grill we had when I was a kid.

Gigantic, gallon pickle jars were not scarce in a family with 6 kids and we had several in rotation to make sun tea.  Eight little tea bag strings hanging out under the lid and sitting on top of our grill.  That is what I see in my head.  :) As a child, I used to love to sit and watch the water slowly warm up, the copper stain of the tea spreading down and darkening the liquid.  That jar was toasty warm after a few hours!

I know it isn’t the most convenient or speedy way to make tea, but it is economical, fun, and I swear it tastes better!  I mean, sweet tea made with solar power? Can it get much cooler?

Actually it can.  While I used to be a kind of sweet tea purist (yes, even Minnesotans drink sweet tea) I have recently been kind of addicted to excessive amounts of citrus in my drinks.  I really love Arnold Palmers (50/50 sweet tea and lemonade) and I just decided top stop messing around and give my tea the lemon kick from the beginning.  Hence, this citrus sweet tea.  Easy, thirst quenching, and totally customizable to your tastes.  Now that summer is just around the corner, embrace the 90 degree days and be prepared! Sweet Citrus Sun Tea is super easy and so much fun for summertime! {Brittany's Pantry}Sweet Citrus Sun Tea is super easy and so much fun for summertime! {Brittany's Pantry}Sweet Citrus Sun Tea is super easy and so much fun for summertime! {Brittany's Pantry}Sweet Citrus Sun Tea

Citrus Tea: Fill a glass, gallon sized container (like a pickle jar) with water and float 8 black tea bags on the top.  Slice one lemon and one orange (or two lemons or two oranges or two limes etc) and add to the water.  Seal with the lid and let steep outside, in the sunshine (duh) and until the tea is dark and warm.  This will take a few hours, but don’t let it steep all day or it will get kind of bitter.  And no, cloudy days don’t really work for this, for obvious reasons! :)  When it is finished, remove and discard the tea bags and the citrus slices.  Pour the tea into a pitcher, sweeten if desired (see below), and add fresh slices of citrus just before serving. Enjoy!

Note: This is the BEST sweetener of iced tea.  I used it all summer in various drinks and it will keep almost indefinitely in the fridge!

Simple Syrup: Equal parts water and sugar, heated together until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Cool to room temp and then store in the fridge in an sealed container!  Use as much or as little as you like! Enjoy!

Creamy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip via Brittany's PantryWhen my kids bust through the door when they get home from school, the inevitable question is, “Can I have a snack?”

My answer is always an predictable, sure! Then I precede to tell them what they are allowed to have.  The list usually encompasses all things they can get themselves that take no prep work. Carrots and hummus, an apple or banana, crackers and pimento cheese, applesauce, a granola bar, etc. Every once in awhile though, I like to  totally surprise them with something special, and since our lives are a bit stressful right now with building and moving, they TOTALLY deserved something out of the ordinary.

Enter, Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Dip.  I have made this before, but it was so long ago, none of my kids remembered it. I figured that was a good excuse to make it again, no?  It is a bit like cookie dough, but I am kind of a purist when it comes to snacking on it and generally like to eat the real thing-eggs and all-right out of the bowl.

I’m a rebel that way.

But this dish is different.  While it has all the flavors or cookie dough, it isn’t trying to imitate it, but rather pay homage to it.  If a dessert dip can really do that…

Make it ahead and add a scoop to your kids lunches, enjoy when the day is done, or take a batch to the office.  Who can resist mini chocolate chips and cream cheese? Who would want to, for that matter.  With the graham crackers, it really does taste like cheesecake! A little bit goes a long way so be sure to share. Oh! What the heck am I saying.  Keep it all to yourself if you like.  I won’t tell.
Creamy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip via Brittany's PantryCreamy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip via Brittany's PantryCreamy Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Dip
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

1 stick (1/2 c) butter
1/3 c brown sugar
1-8 oz-package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c mini chocolate chips
graham crackers, pretzels, vanilla wafers, etc for serving

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together over low heat, stirring frequently.  Once the sugar is dissolved, set it aside to cool.  In the meantime, add the cream cheese and powdered sugar to a medium bowl and combine with a hand mixer until smooth.  Add vanilla, and beat together.  Pour in the cooled brown sugar and butter mixture, and beat until smooth.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Dip can be made up to a day ahead, sealed in an airtight container in the fridge.  Serve with whatever dippers sound good to you!  I love graham crackers and pretzels but feel free to experiment!

Goat Cheese Deviled Eggs

Goat Cheese Deviled Eggs are a fantastic twist on a classic appetizer! (Brittany's Pantry)Spring is here (FINALLY!) and now that Easter is over, you can put away the pastel colors, cheap chocolate, and large white bunnies.

This is going to sound odd, but do you know what one of my favorite parts about Easter is?


I’m not talking about the boiling and dyeing and hiding and searching phase. I’m talking about the crack and peel and slice and devour phase. Using up those leftovers to make snacks. I. Love. Deviled. Eggs.

When I was little, we stored our freshly colored Easter eggs in the fridge, making sure not to waste a single one. My parents made a killer potato salad and like a true 70’s and 80’s family, we sliced hard boiled eggs on the top for garnish and sprinkled the whole she-bang with paprika. I can pretty much guarantee we were wearing polyester as well. And while we are on the subject, what was with all the hard boiled eggs during those years? Egg salad, potato salad, or deviled eggs — it was all there.

While deviled eggs may be a food fad from decades ago, they are still the first thing to go at a party. Like cornflakes and mini skirts, they seem to have withstood the test of time. And I know why! It is because they are good (duh) and the endless varieties of flavor combinations ensure that you will never get bored. Eggs are inexpensive to make, easy to peel and they will taste great no matter how artfully they are put together so don’t hesitate to let your kids help. My little ones — including the three year old — always feel SO important when I give them a kitchen task and peeling eggs keeps them busy for quite awhile. Score!

Click here to get the recipe over at the Columbia City Moms Blog!

Do you like deviled eggs as much as I do??

Honey Peanut Cereal Bars

Honey Peanut Cereal Bars via Brittany's Pantry-A no-bake snack or treat!I have kids.

Ere go, I have purchased an alarming number of boxes of little ‘0’ cereal made of oats, such as Cheerios or something similar.  Cereal that shows up in my couch cushions, on the bottom of my purse, and in my laundry.  This kind of cereal is always around so anytime I can quickly throw together a fun snack or treat with items already in my kitchen, I consider it a good thing.  If they are so scrumptious even my husband and I can’t stop eating them and we end up trying to hide them from our kids, well then that is a VERY good thing.  I mean, you know.  In a joking, I’m-not-really-hiding-food-from-my-kids-sorry-not-sorry-kind of way.

I have had bars like these before but I haven’t actually made them myself since God was a boy.  I couldn’t remember the exact method or ingredients to make them stick so I turned to that necessary evil (I speak of Pinterest) and searched out some good ones.  I settled on this version here from a blog called Chew Out Loud and they were exactly perfect.  Just as I remember them.  Better actually.

I do believe that it is the combo of the crunchy cereal with the chewy cranberries that really keeps me hooked.  Also, is it weird that I think these bars just look friendly?  I want to make huge batches of them and wrap them up individually and tuck them in everyone’s pockets.  Then when they discover them later they have a snack that makes them smile.  Corny, yes.  But still a good idea.  Such a good idea, I bet it will make you run out and buy cereal to make these, wether you have kids to throw them onto the floor of your car or not.
Honey Peanut Cereal Bars via Brittany's Pantry-A no-bake snack or treat! Honey Peanut Cereal Bars
Recipe from the blog Chew Out Loud

4 c oat ‘o’ cereal
1 c dried fruit, such as cranberries, raisins, or a mix of both
1/2 c dry roasted peanuts
1/2 c honey, preferably raw
1/2 c creamy peanut butter

Spray an 8 inch square pan or line it with parchment paper or wax paper.  In a small microwave bowl, heat the honey and peanut butter together until melted together.  Stir until smooth and runny.  Meanwhile, mix the first three ingredients together in a large bowl.  Pour the melted honey mixture over the cereal mixture and mix will with a large rubber scraper.  When it is all coated evenly, pour into the prepared pan and press evenly to compact the cereal a bit.  Press firmly so that the gaps are filled.  This ensures the bars will hold together once they are cool.  Let set completely, cooling at room temp or in the fridge.  Cut into bars.  These will keep for up to three days, sealed tightly.  Enjoy!!

Mini Corn Muffins W/Bacon, Chives, & Spicy Whipped Cream CheeseSometimes, inspiration just strikes.  Like lightening.  Or in my case, like cream cheese and bacon.

A few years ago I started adding bacon and chives to my regular Mini Corn Muffins.  I still make them plain all the time and usually serve them with chili, salads, or just as a snack to munch on. But filled with extras, they make the perfect addition to a brunch buffet or breakfast.  With the green of the chives and the chunks of bacon, they are more than a little tempting all piled up in a big basket.  A nice, savory change of pace.  And bite sized!  How cool is that?!  I decided to make them for a little get together I was at recently, but couldn’t shake the fact that they looked like they needed something extra.  Hats of cream cheese?  Yuppers.  Perfect.  All dressed up and ready for a party.  It was my husbands idea to top them with bacon.  I wanted to add some chives to the top for color, but bacon won out due to the enthusiastic and threatening insistent cries of my family.  Ultimately, you decide which you want to top them with!

These are so easy to bake up and top that you are going to want to make them for everything.  Parties are an obvious choice, but set out with a spread for a bridal shower or baby shower, these are a fantastic, non-sugary appetizer that are irresistibly pop-able.  They are also the perfect size for little fingers so try adding them to a table at a kids party, with or without the topping.  Bursting with flavor and fantastic textures, these little bites of wonderfulness are definitely ready for their close-up.
Mini Corn Muffins W/Bacon, Chives, & Spicy Whipped Cream CheeseMini Corn Muffins W/Bacon, Chives, & Spicy Whipped Cream CheeseMini Corn Muffins W/Bacon, Chives, & Spicy Cream Cheese Whip
Top the mini muffins no more than an hour or two ahead of time.  You can bake them up a day ahead and store them in an airtight container.  Mix up the topping and chill it in the fridge until you are ready to use it and everything will be ready when you are.

Cook 1/2 lb of bacon and chop.  Set aside several pieces for garnish.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly spray a mini muffin tin.


Mix together in a medium bowl:
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c buttermilk
2 eggs
1/4 c canola oil or grape seed oil
1 c white whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
1/3 c cornmeal
2 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients just until combined. Do not over mix.
Fold in 1 c frozen corn, thawed
2 T chopped fresh chives
Add most of the bacon, still reserving a bit for garnish on the tops.

Divide batter among the mini muffin cups and bake until puffed and golden, 9-11 minutes.  This makes about 40 mini muffins so it may take two passes through the oven.  Remove to a cooling rack.

4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 T sour cream
1 tsp bottled hot sauce
1 T honey
1 tsp milk

Whip all ingredients together until smooth.  Pipe, spread, or dollop whip on the cooled mini muffins and garnish with reserved bacon, more chopped chives, or both!  Can be made and assembled an hour ahead.

Pork Carnita Nachos W/Chipotle-Lime Crema via Brittany's PantrySo.  There is this big game coming up.  Maybe you have heard of it.  Its called the Super Bowl.

I only mention it because I happened to be visiting some hardcore football fans the weekend the competing teams were selected and I actually witnessed the games.   Not being a huge sports fan, it may come as no surprise that this is the first time I have ever done that.  And I must admit, it was seriously cool.  I have no official affiliation with any team so I will be cheering for the Seahawks because my sister lives in Seattle, and because I thought their crazy comeback in the last game was pretty darn awesome.  Those are good reasons, right?

I might as well and just show my true colors.  My favorite part of Super Bowl Sunday (like this isn’t a teensy bit obvious) is the food.  Don’t judge.  The dips, the cheesy foods, the salsas and chips, the burgers and hot dogs…all winners.  This is the first year in awhile that I am not sick and pregnant, taking care of a baby, or alone with small children because my husband is working.  We are going to an actual, official, bonafide Superbowl party!!  I realize how pathetic that sounds and, no, I don’t get out much.

In the spirit of the upcoming game, I wanted to bring to the event something new.  Something outrageous.  And something goooood.  I recently discovered pork carnitas at our local Mexican restaurant and I cannot. get. enough.  How have I been missing these my whole life and why has no one told me about them before?  If you are unfamiliar with them, carnitas are usually pork braised in orange or lime, and then crisped up before nestled in a warm tortilla and slathered with toppings of choice.  I know.  Amazing, right?  No matter how many times I eat them, I still want more.  So I decided to experiment and make them myself.  Research shows very little continuity in recipes so I created my own based on the flavors I noticed when taste testing them at every Mexican place I could find.  Phew!  It was tough.
Pork Carnita Nachos W/Chipotle-Lime Crema via Brittany's PantryIn order to make them more party friendly, I decided to shred the meat over chips and turn them into nachos.  The mix of textures is incredibly satisfying.  Cunchy, creamy, tangy, meaty, cheesy-hard to resist, right?  I solve that problem by choosing NOT to resist them.

I love to squeeze a lime over my carnitas just before I inhale delicately enjoy them for a meal, but a cool dollop of sour cream is my favorite part.  I decided to combine the two (using plain yogurt instead as a healthy substitute) and just drizzle it over the whole darn thing.  Fresh lime + creamy yogurt = addictive sauce on every bite!  So much easier to munch on with a crowd!  Crema is just a fancy word for a Mexican sour cream, so my version is a very loose interpretation of that!  But tasty.  Very tasty.  These are just so darn good, you may be too distracted to watch the game.
Pork Carnita Nachos W/Chipotle-Lime Crema via Brittany's PantryThis picture is actually a different batch from the photos above.  Notice the crazy amount of cheese.  Ooey, gooey, goodness.

Carnita Nachos W/Chipotle-Lime ‘Crema’
You can easily make the pork on a weekend and either chill it for later in the week, or freeze it for later in the month.  Either way, it makes for a speedy meal to throw together.  Make sure to serve any extra crema on the side.  Its spicy and tangy and incredibly awesome with these nachos.  Feel free to slather it on anything else that sounds good too!

For the pork:
4-5 pounds pork butt, boston butt, or pork shoulder, trimmed of its large fat cap and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 c orange juice
1 c chicken broth, homemade or canned
1/4 c lime juice

Don’t trim the meat too much!  All that fat is flavor, baby!  Put all ingredients in a large slow cooker and turn on high for 4-5 hours, or low for 6-7 hours, or just until the meat holds it shape, but is tender and easily pulls apart with a fork.  Remove the meat with a large, slotted spoon and discard the cooking liquid.  Freeze, chill, or make nachos!!

For the crema:
1 c plain, fat free greek yogurt, such as Chobani
2 T fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper
large pinch of salt
black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and set aside.

For the nachos:
large corn tortilla chips (the hint of lime ones are stellar here)
shredded pork
1 c canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large tomato, chopped, or 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 green onions, chopped
2 c shredded cheese, jack, cheddar, or a mix of both
quartered limes for garnish
Chipotle Lime Crema

Layer the nachos in a cast-iron pan or another oven proof pan or platter.  Start with a generous layer of chips, then break up the chunks of pork, covering it with as much as you like.  Note: you will only use about half of the amount from the recipe above.  Next, sprinkle with the black beans, then the onions and tomatoes, and lastly the cheese.  Tuck the whole she-bang under the broiler until the cheese melts, remove (with hot pads!!) and drizzle generously with the crema.  Serve with lime wedges to squeeze on the nachos and any extra crema.  Enjoy!

Easy Veggie Spread

Easy Veggie Spread is gluten free, vegetarian, and super fast to mix together for a party or weekday snack! {Brittany's Pantry}I feel as though I would be remiss in my duties as a blogger if I didn’t share this recipe with you.  Is there some kind of foodie law enforcement that makes sure bloggers share the good stuff instead of keeping it to themselves?  Just to be safe, I will disclose all here.  I have been living off of it for several weeks now and I still can’t get enough. *phew*  Glad I got that off my chest.  I figured I could’t hoard the recipe forever… So simple.  And sometimes the best things are the simple things, right?

I always see veggie spreads in the store and just kind of skip over them.  I guess I like stuff either sweet, or at least dip-able.  I like to dunk and scoop my crackers and veggies.  But I have been on this kind of color kick with my cooking lately and I decided to experiment and come up with a pretty, veggie flecked spread that I loved equally on a cracker or a bagel.  A recipe that I could just throw together when I had company coming and not even give it a second thought.  A reliable, go-to version with minimal ingredients.  Min-i-mal.  This was actually a tall order and a bit of a challenge for myself as generally I like things like jam, honey, jelly, sweet butter, flavored cream cheese, or cinnamon-sugar on my bagels.  You may notice the sweet trend there.  What can I say?  I’m a ‘sweet’ kind of gal.  Heh heh.

But seriously.  Friends.  I haven’t even touched the sugary crap since I started making this.  Who knew so few ingredients could taste so glorious?  Love love love it.  And here it is, just in time for you to put out on New Years Eve.  A great snack to munch on while playing Scattergories, working on a puzzle, watching movies, or whatever it is that you do when you party down.  Just be sure to make another batch for latter, too.  Because who knows what the new year may bring!  Veggie spread instead of jam on my bagel is a good start.
Easy Veggie Spread is gluten free, vegetarian, and super fast to mix together for a party or weekday snack! {Brittany's Pantry}Easy Veggie Spread is gluten free, vegetarian, and super fast to mix together for a party or weekday snack! {Brittany's Pantry}Easy Veggie Spread is gluten free, vegetarian, and super fast to mix together for a party or weekday snack! {Brittany's Pantry}Easy Veggie Spread
The good things you can do with this stuff is endless.  It is down right awesome on a whole grain cracker, pretzels, or bagel.  But it is great spread on toast, layered thin on a tortilla with fresh cucumbers then rolled up, dolloped on top of an omelette just before serving, spread on a roast beef sandwich, filled into celery sticks, and OH so much more!  Be sure to share in the comments below how YOU are enjoying this recipe!  As for the hot sauce, my test subjects were split 50/50 on wether or not to leave it in.  Everyone love the tiny bit of kick though, so you be the judge.

1 (8 oz) block  softened cream cheese (I use Neufchatel)
4 T (1/2 stick) room temperature butter
1 T freshly snipped chives
1 medium carrot, scrapped and grated
1 heaping T freshly chopped parsley
big pinch of salt and lots of black pepper, or to taste
1 tsp hot sauce, optional

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, adding hot sauce if desired and tasting for seasoning.  Let the flavors sit together to meld for an hour or so if possible.  Taste again and add more salt, pepper, or hot sauce if needed.

Spiked Eggnog Cinnamon Bread

Spiked Eggnog Cinnamon Bread from Brittany's PantryNo doubt, the title of this post has you intrigued.  Or at least has you drooling.

I never get sick of quick bread recipes and this time of year is the perfect opportunity to branch out.  Bloggers go bananas trying new things and showcasing special recipes.  The list of recipes I had to share with you was epic.  I am talking EPIC here people!!  Alas, life gets in the way.  So does bronchitis, pneumonia, sinus infections, fevers, and all the other fun stuff that comes with three kids who obviously need to be washing their hands more.  Our whole family has been sick and in the moments of health, concentrating on the continuing construction of our new home.  I have not been in the kitchen nearly as much as I have liked and am sadly, setting aside cookie and holiday treat recipes for another year.

But.  I have rallied for one last hurrah-er, recipe.  We have been quite addicted to this bread, which you may have noticed on Instagram.  It is so darn easy to mix up, my kids have been doing it for me.  Which is why there are twice as many cinnamon chips in this batch than normal… It is definitely a snack bread and lacks the really super sweet taste of a dessert.  But the flavors are so special, you can serve it either way.  It will make anything it touches smell good.  Wrapped tightly, I store it in my fridge for a day or two and the whole thing smells like rum eggnog.  It is heavenly.  And just in time for Christmas.Spiked Eggnog Cinnamon Bread from Brittany's PantrySpiked Eggnog Cinnamon Bread
Recipe adapted from UniHomemaker
This bread is even better the next day so make plans to whip it up before you actually need it.  Your house will smell ah-MAY-zing.

1/3 c canola or grape seed oil
1 c eggnog
1/4 c spiced or dark rum (both are good)
1 egg
2/3 c sugar
1 c white flour
1 c white whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 c cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 and spray an 8 or 9 inch bread pan.  Whisk first five ingredients together until smooth.  Fold dry ingredients into the wet until just incorporated.  Gently fold in cinnamon chips and pour into greased pan.  Bake 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with just a crumb or two attached.  Cool 10 minutes in pan and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.  Store, wrapped well, at room temp for a day or two, or in the fridge for up to three days.

Chocolate Cherry Cream Dip

Chocolate Cherry Cream Dip from Brittany's Pantry is a sweet, make-ahead, holiday treat!  Perfect for a girl's birthday party too!My husband just walked by the computer and glanced at this photograph.  He stopped, looked closer, and stated. “Wow, Babe.  That photo is amazing.”  As he strolled away, I growled under my breath, “I want to eat it…”

The truth is, I did eat it.  Last week.  I snacked, dipped, nibbled, and devoured with gusto.  And it was good.  But I look at this and I want more.

Who can resist the classic combination of chocolate and cherries?  I blame my addiction on my Dad.  For as long as I can remember, he has received a box or two of Queen Anne Cherries at Christmas, wrapped and tucked under the tree at the last minute by the enthusiastic hands of his children.  He somehow managed to convince us that he was surprised to open them each year.  Christmas makes us gullible I guess… We aren’t often able to be together for Christmas these days but the tradition lives on.  I have never told him this, but I still buy a box every year and break into it on Christmas Eve, handing one to each of my kids just as he did to my siblings and I all those years ago.  One bite and I could be sitting Indian style on the living room floor of my childhood home, waiting for gifts to be passed out.

I feel as though I should mention that I am listening to Francesca Battistelli’s Christmas Album as I type this.  One of my most favorite holiday albums ever.  Beautiful music, coupled with writing the memory above is making my heart positively ache with missing my family this holiday season.  Who knew chocolate covered cherries could make this momma weep with nostalgia?

Anyway.  Enough with the sappy stuff.  Back to this dip.  It is officially my go-to, bring along treat of the Holiday 2014 season.  Its beautiful, simple, fun, and just kind of screams the word ‘party’, don’t ya think?  It is basically a low effort, less messy way to serve these familiar flavors.  I realize that there are a bazillion versions of this recipe out on Pinterest right now, but I felt the need to make it come together a bit faster and with less fuss.  I have enough things to do these next few weeks without wasting time on unnecessary steps in a recipe.  I would much rather channel that energy into something useful.  Like eating that recipe.
Chocolate Cherry Cream Dip from Brittany's Pantry is a sweet, make-ahead, holiday treat!  Perfect for a girl's birthday party too!Chocolate Cherry Cream Dip from Brittany's Pantry is a sweet, make-ahead, holiday treat!  Perfect for a girl's birthday party too!Chocolate Cherry Cream Dip
Adapted from Shugary Sweets
This can be made a day ahead and wrapped tightly in the fridge.  Keep cold while serving and dip whatever sounds good in it.  I am partial to pretzels.  The sweet and salty combo is stellar.

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, slightly softened
1/4 c (4 T) soft butter
1/2 chopped maraschino cherries
1/4 c maraschino cherry juice, right from the jar
1/2 c mini chocolate chips

Combine the cream cheese, butter, and cherry juice until combined and smooth.  Fold in the chopped cherries and mini chocolate chips.  Serve with pretzels, graham crackers, vanilla wafers, or anything else you can think of!

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