Monster Sandwich Cookies

Happy early Halloween!

We love this holiday, and I’m always trying to think of something fun and new (and usually sweet) to do with Wyatt for Halloween.

I have a recipe we worship in our house for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. I’d made a batch of these to share with you guys, and after I’d finished my photo shoot for the blog I thought, “Why stop there?” So Wyatt and I checked our pantry, and then made a trip to the store to get some extra candies and cans of frosting. I think he almost enjoyed shopping for supplies as much as he enjoyed making these!

Obviously you could use store bought cookies, and any given assortment of candies to make these. I really hope you try my chocolate chip recipe or even my Peanut Butter Cookies if you’ve got the time!

Please let me know if you come up with any other great ways to decorate these guys… I’d love to see what you come up with!

Monster Sandwich Cookies Recipe

Directions

Step 1
Here's the lineup: cookies (of course), colorful frosting, and candies!
Step 2
For the candies, I used a mix of candies, marshmallows, and chocolate chips.

The marshmallows are the perfect base for eyeballs, and I love the chips for the teeth.
Step 3
I used canned frosting instead of making it from scratch. Knock yourself out if you've got the time and the powdered sugar.

For the green I used Duncan Hines frosting creations caramel flavored, along with some neon green coloring.
Step 4
I had to use the whole tube of green, but I think I ended up with a nice eery green color.
Step 5
For the purple, I just used a can of regular vanilla frosting.

I didn't have to use the whole tube this time, but you can see it was still a pretty sizable blob.
Step 6
I think it ended up a nice color, but use as much coloring gel as you like to get the results you like best.

I transferred both of the frostings to gallon sized ziploc bags.
Step 7
Snip the corner of the make-shift pastry bags, and you're ready to start sandwich making!
Step 8
Surprisingly enough, these sandwiches begin with two cookies.
Step 9
Flip one of those bad boys over, and put the tip of your frosting bag right on the cookie.
Step 10
Fill up almost the whole cookie, moving side to side. Leave some empty space towards the back of the cookie so that it'll sit up at a slight angle. This will make it look like your monster's mouth is open!
Step 11
Place the other cookie on top and apply a small blob of frosting to the front. I opted for the other color here... monsters aren't matchy matchy.

This will give your eyeballs somewhere to stick.
Step 12
For the eyes, I used marshmallows with frosting and M&Ms.

Start by getting just a small dab of frosting with a toothpick, and smear it onto a mini mallow.
Step 13
Then stick on a mini M&M, and...
Step 14
Bam! Eyeball.
Step 15
To make bigger eyes, slice a full sized marshmallow in half.
Step 16
On the non-sticky side smear another toothpick full of frosting, and smoosh in another M&M.
Step 17
Pretty cute huh?

Now just a couple upside down chocolate chips, and you've got yourself a monster!
Step 18
Here's a different one I made with Reeses Pieces teeth and equal sized eyes.
Step 19
Wyatt even made one! I helped with piping the frosting, but he did everything else on his own.
Step 20
I thought it ended up looking pretty awesome...
Step 21
and so did he!
Step 22
Here's another one of mine with mini chocolate chip teeth, and jumbo Reeses eyes.
Step 23
Wyatt really liked this one.

Step 24
He kept calling him Mike Wazowski, which I found very funny and silly!

So here's the whole lineup...
Step 25
These little guys are so cute!
Step 26
Just let your imagination (and your kids' imaginations) run wild, and I'm sure you'll come up with tons of spooky ways to make these Halloween Monsters!

Pizza Roll-ups

These roll-ups are so easy and fun! Kids will love getting to help sprinkle on the toppings. Plus anything handheld is perfect for little hands to eat!

We used some of our family’s personal favorites for pizza: italian meats for Kerry, fresh spinach for Brian, and of course black olives for Wyatt. Wyatt expects black olives on every pizza he eats… even if he does call them black beans instead of olives.

It goes without saying, but of course I’m gonna say it anyway, that these can be topped as many ways as a traditional pizza can. Feel free to make them your own. Mix up your garnishes to please your specific crowd of “roll-up makers”. Also, this deliciously easy dipping sauce would be great as a sauce on a regular pizza, meatball sandwich, almost anything!

Have fun with these!

Pizza Roll-ups Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 large flour tortillas
  • grated mozzarella
  • sliced black olives
  • fresh spinach
  • sliced salami
  • sliced peperoni

Dipping Sauce

  • 1 jar vegetable marinara sauce (around 9 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

Directions

Step 1
Let's make dippy sauce! Shall we?

Start with your favorite jar of red pasta sauce. To get a few extra veggies, I like to use a chunky vegetable marinara.
Step 2
Chunks are no fun, however, in a dipping sauce. So dump the whole jar into a food processor.
Step 3
Give it all a blitz until you're left with smooth tomato-y goodness.
Step 4
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium low heat.
Step 5
Add in the minced garlic once the oil is nice and hot. Sauté about 30 seconds.
Step 6
Pour in your pureed tomato sauce.
Step 7
Stir the hot garlic oil into the smooth sauce until it's completely incorporated.
Step 8
Simmer over the medium low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.

The sauce will have thickened slightly and be reduced by about a third.
Step 9
That's your yummy dipping sauce done!

On to the roll-ups!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and assemble your tortillas and fillings.
Step 10
Feel free to recruit "filling help" at this point.
Step 11
He never set down the banana by the way.

Each roll-up begins with a tortilla as a blank canvas.
Step 12
Sprinkle on some of the cheese first.
Step 13
Then sprinkle on any of the toppings you like.
Step 14
Just in case you thought the banana was gone...
Step 15
So here's how Wyatt topped his roll-up.
Step 16
Now start rolling up from the bottom.
Step 17
Fold in the sides, and then finish rolling all the way to the top.
Step 18
Lay seam-side down in a 9x13ish baking dish...
Step 19
and keep on rollin'. Here are some of the ones that I topped.

A little salami/pepperoni pattern action.
Step 20
One with no meat... why not?
Step 21
One with a partially eaten slice of pepperoni... thanks to Wyatt.
Step 22
And here's the whole gang ready for the oven.
Step 23
Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and pop into the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Step 24
Slice in half, serve with the dippy sauce, and enjoy!

Mac and Cheese Cups

These little cups are adorable. They’re tiny little packages of broccoli, noodles, and cheese that are sure to make your littlest of eaters happy.

Ok, so maybe it’s not a huge feat talking children into eating mac and cheese. However, they do have broccoli in them, and you could add any other kind of veggie you like. I’ve personally added: peas, small carrot bits, and minced fresh spinach in the past. These are an extra 12 minutes or so added on top of your mac and cheese cook time. So I definitely don’t make these every time we have M&C, but they’re fun little treats every now and then! It’s also a playful use for leftover M&C, but reduce your baking time from 9 minutes to about 5 or 6 so they don’t dry out.

I try not to guarantee things too often here, but I guarantee your kids will at least try these. Actually, if you find the kid that won’t even take a bite of these I’d love to hear from you… and maybe even see a picture of your little oddball!

Mac and Cheese Cups Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 box your favorite mac and cheese (or a delicious homemade version)
  • 1 heaping cupful of small chopped broccoli
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (plus more for topping the cups)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions

Step 1
These little cups will be as tasty as the mac and cheese you use. Feel free to make a creamy dreamy homemade version to use here. Maybe on a weekend sometime I'll try that.

However these were made on a Monday night after I'd gotten up at 4:30 in the morning, worked an eight hour shift, shopped for our weekly groceries, and picked Wyatt up from his playgroup.

I used a boxed mix.
Step 2
A tasty boxed mix, but powdered cheese nonetheless.

Adding a heaping cup of fresh broccoli pieces brings a bit more fiber to the party!
Step 3
That's right. I just said fiber and party in the same sentence... there are no rules with mac and cheese cups!

Anyway, cook the noodles according to the package directions. Add in the broccoli bits when there are four minutes left before draining.
Step 4
To make the cheese sauce, I melted 2 Tbs. of butter in a small saucepan.
Step 5
Then whisked in 1/4 cup milk and the envelope of cheese powder.
Step 6
Mmmmmm powdered cheese.

At least it smooths out quickly.
Step 7
Add in 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese to make it all the more cheesy.
Step 8
I think we all know what comes next... the big mix up.
Step 9
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and spray a mini muffin pan with olive oil or Pam.

Spoon each little muffin cup full of broccoli mac and cheese. Then give each little cup a press with the back of your cheesy spoon.
Step 10
Award everyone with another finger-full of cheddar.
Step 11
Bake in your hot oven for 9 minutes. Then broil for 1-2 more minutes.

Now just let these little bad boys cool down a bit, and pop them out easily with the utensil of your choosing.
Step 12
Bam! Broccoli Mac and Cheese Cups!
Step 13
They may not look like much,
Step 14
but my three year old just saw the pictures I'm adding to this post and said, "Oh, I love those!"
Step 15
They're perfect for little hands, and I'm sure they'll be a hit with your little ones!
Step 16
Enjoy!

Junior Joes – Homemade Sloppy Joes Made Pint-Sized

These cute little bites are my homemade version of sloppy joes. They’re perfect for “junior” diners because they’re just the right size for young hands… plus they are truly yummy!

This dinner is ideal for parents to make for their little ones because it’s almost as easy to throw together as the store bought kind. Plus you get to control exactly what goes into them. My version is a little on the sweet side which all three of us really love. But for parents who would like to add a little less sugar, it’s no big deal to just leave off a tablespoon or two. Feel free to play with this and make it your own! Of course this meat sauce would be delicious on any kind of bun. They definitely don’t have to be “junior” all the time. Be that as it may, I do think they are wonderful on these parker house rolls, so please try them at least once!

However you end up making these, just make sure it’s on a bun and soon!

Junior Joes Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup minced bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 can tomato paste (6 ounce can)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (15 ounce can)
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 packages of frozen Parker House Rolls

Directions

Step 1
Pull your ground beef out of the fridge so it's not too cold once you're ready to cook. Preheat a skillet over just below medium heat. If you're using parker house rolls, preheat your oven according to the package directions for them as well.

While your pan and oven are heating up, mince the onion and pepper. Green is the traditional pepper of choice in sloppy joes. However, we are a non-traditional, green bell pepper hating kind of family. All that considered, pick your favorite bell pepper color and mince the life out of it!
Step 2
Once you're minced and the skillet feels hot to your hovering hand, add a tablespoon of olive oil.

Toss in the peppers and onions.
Step 3
Saute around 4 minutes, or until the minced combo looks translucent and softened.
Step 4
Plunk your ground beef or turkey into the skillet.

I don't know why I enjoy seeing it in this big blob, but I do!
Step 5
Use a sturdy spatula or spoon to break up your blob into smaller bits.
Step 6
Continue to brown the meat and break it up into smaller pieces for around 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder over the meat.
Step 7
Scoop out about half the can of tomato paste, and add it to the meat mix.

I didn't measure, but this is what half of a can looks like.
Step 8
Work the tomato paste into the meat until it's completely incorporated.

Next add in the whole can of tomato sauce, the worcestershire, and the sugar.
Step 9
Stir it all together, and reduce the heat to medium low.

Step 10
Once the sloppy joe sauce is bubbly, set your timer for 20 minutes. Apart from an occasional stir, all the sauce needs now is to simmer and thicken.

This is when I put my frozen rolls into the oven. Most of the frozen parker house rolls I've used go into a 300 degree oven for 25 minutes. But definitely cook them according to your package directions.

Even frozen they look cute!

Step 11
Your sloppy sauce should be thick enough to leave a wide trail behind your spatula as it scrapes along the pan. If it's been at least 20 minutes, and your sauce is looking like this then it's time to cut the heat!
Step 12
Now it's just a matter of assembling these delicious little sammies!

Here's my son Wyatt's plate.
Step 13
I realize all three year olds eat differently. Heck, even the same three year old will eat differently from one meal to the next. But I have to say that he ate his entire plate of food happily!
Step 14
I hope that your family enjoys these tasty little Joes as much as mine did!
Strawberry Jam Milk

Strawberry Jam Milk

In most other households, I’m sure this would be called “Jelly Milk”. My son Wyatt, however, has always called jelly “jam”. It’s “peanut butter and jam” or “eggs, toast and jam” that we hear every single day.

As much as Wyatt loves jam, I hate to waste any. When the jam jar gets to the point where I end up frustrated with sticky hands, I make Jam Milk. It’s totally a treat that Wyatt gets excited about. Apart from being delicious like a little milkshake, it’s special because it only happens at the end of the jar. I think strawberry is his favorite, but who knows? He’s had strawberry, grape, raspberry, blueberry, and even pear!

I promise your child will be waiting for the next one!

Strawberry Jam Milk

Ingredients

  • 1 almost empty jam jar
  • some milk
  • a child who loves to shake things

Directions

Step 1
This is a super complicated recipe. You need a basically finished off jar of jam and some milk.
Step 2
Pour in some milk. No need to fill it all the way up. Plus the less milk, the more strawberry flavor it'll end up with!
Step 3
Here's the before.
Step 4
Tighten back on the lid, and go to town with the shaking! Wyatt loves to help, so your child might like to get in on the action as well.
Step 5
Now you're left with a delicious frothy treat!
Step 6
Pour into your favorite sippy cup...
Step 7
And enjoy!
Homemade Chicken Nuggets

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

I’m gonna keep this simple and to the point.

These chicken nuggets are insanely good!

These taste just as good to me as Chic-fil-A. A bold statement I know, but these are seriously delicious. The differences are that you’ll know exactly where this chicken meat came from, and these are baked not deep fried. So all in all we feel pretty good about these awesome little nugs.

If you are ever feeling ambitious, double the recipe. These freeze beautifully. If I ever write a cookbook, these will be number one in my “Freezes Beautifully” section. Anyway, you just lay another pan next to the one for your breaded nuggets, and fill it up at the same time. When your first pan goes into the oven, the second one goes into your freezer. Give em a couple hours to freeze, and then transfer them to ziploc bags. Then whenever your family craves these wonderful nuggets, you can just preheat the oven, brush them with oil, and go to town!

We’ve never had leftover nuggets if that tells you anything!

Homemade Chicken Nuggets Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2lb boneless skinless chicken breast (cut into nugget sized pieces )

flour mix

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika

egg mix

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

breading mix

  • 1/2 cup poultry coating or breading mix
  • 10 ritz crackers

Directions

Step 1
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Step 2
Find three shallow containers to mix your three breading mixtures. I always like to use pie pans. For one they're nice and shallow, and for another we have plenty of them laying around. This family loves pie!
Step 3
In the first pie pan add the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika for the "flour mix".
Step 4
Give it all a good stir with a whisk or a fork until it is all combined. It should look something like this.
Step 5
In the second pie pan add the buttermilk and egg.
Step 6
One good stir later (with your same whisk or fork from earlier) it will look like a lovely yellow milkshake.
Step 7
Now onto the third pie pan!
I found this "chicken coating mix" that is just wonderful. If you have trouble finding this (I work at Whole Foods, so there's no telling how hard this is to find) I'm sure any coating or breading mix would work great. It almost looks like seasoned flour when you dump it out, so look for something like that.
Step 8
Next, drop 10 ritz crackers into a food processor. My mini prep works great for this amount.
Step 9
Now blitz the ritz until they're nice and crumby!
Step 10
The cracker crumbs and the coating mix get tossed together in the last pie pan until the mixture looks like this.
Step 11
Dump your chicken pieces onto a towel or paper towel lined pan. Pat all of them until they are nice and dry.
Step 12
Lay them in a single layer and season their top side with kosher salt and black pepper. Only season this top side! Apart from saving you the tedium of individually flipping all these little guys over to season their other side, you really just don't need the extra seasoning. The flour mix and the breading mix are both seasoned already, so only sprinkling one side of the nuggets helps insure you won't have over salted nugs.
Step 13
Here is what your assembly line should look like. I put the pans in order. So they should go from raw chicken to flour mix to egg mix to breading mix to your pan for baking.
Step 14
One at a time, everyone gets a good dredge in the flour mix.
Step 15
That's followed by a dunk into the egg mix.
Step 16
Lastly, they all get a good coating of the breading mix.
Step 17
I am a little OCD, so I always use my right hand for the flour mix and breading mix phases. My left hand works the wet egg mix. I like having a "wet hand" and a "dry hand" not only to satisfy my neurotic tendencies, but I also feel like you really use less breading this way. Otherwise you will end up with two very breaded hands that look ready to be dropped into a deep fryer.
Step 18
Once all of your nuggets are on the ungreased pan, brush everyone generously with olive oil. This will help them develop a nice color as they bake.
My mother also makes some delicious baked nuggets. She uses an olive oil spray, and just sprays the heck out of all of them.
Step 19
Either way you decide to go make sure you put enough to really coat them, but not so much that they're drowning in the oil. Too much oil will definitely create some soggy nugs.
Step 20
Pop them into the preheated oven and leave them alone for 15 minutes.
When they come out they should be perfectly cooked without being dry.
Step 21
These nuggets are so good you'll want to make them all the time.
Step 22
And I think you should!