Saturday, March 28, 2009

Puppy Chow

In light of our fabulous news about getting a puppy (please see my other blog for details), and the fact that I still have Chex cereal to use up, I decided to make Chex Muddy Buddies, otherwise known as Puppy Chow.  Does anyone else called it Puppy Chow?  Jerm looked at my like I had a second head when I asked him if he wanted me to make him some Puppy Chow...but that's what I've always called it.

This is a very simple and easy recipe, and it's one of my favorite sweet treats.  I do not make it very often because when I do I just want to eat it, but it's great every once in a while and excellent for get-together's.  The recipe is from the box/website of Chex cereal.  By the way, if you have some free time, check out the Chex website because they have a TON of great Chex mix recipes.  There is one with coconut and ginger that Jerm and I love.  Yummy!  So, next time you want a sweet chocolately snack, try this Puppy Chow.  Oh, and check out the substitution tip from the website....I'm definitely going to try that the next time I make this.







All mixed, pre powdered sugar.


Post powdered sugar and cooling. 

Chex Muddy Buddies a.k.a. Puppy Chow


  • 9 cups Corn Chex®, Rice Chex®, Wheat Chex® or Chocolate Chex® cereal (or combination)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


  1. Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.
  2. In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth.
  3. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resalable food-storage plastic bag.
  5. Add powdered sugar.
  6. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Substitution:  Peanut butter and chocolate are a favorite flavor combo, but peanut butter lovers can substitute peanut butter chips for the chocolate chips to intensify that flavor.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Grown Up Mac and Cheese

As I mentioned before, I love Food Network.  I'll be honest and say that I'm not an extremely huge fan of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  I'll watch her if she's on, but something about her is just odd to me.  Plus, most of her recipes have about one million calories in them...and I usually try to avoid food like that. 

Well, one day the Barefoot Contessa happened to be on and Jeremy and I ended up watching it.  On the episode, she made a "Grown Up Mac and Cheese" that looked pretty dang good!  Jeremy requested that I make so I did. 

This is a delicious Mac and Cheese with some complex flavors from the three different cheeses and the bacon in it.  That's right...there's bacon in it too.  Yum!  The first time I made it, I followed the recipe to a "t," and I found the blue cheese flavor to be a bit strong for my taste.  I recently made it again with a milder blue cheese and it was FANTASTIC!  The bubbly cheese, the crisp bacon and the crunchy breadcrumb topping = simply amazing! 

As usual, I used skim milk and whole wheat flour.  Plus, I didn't feel like making fresh breadcrumbs, so I just used store bought kind, and I cooked the bacon in the microwave like I normally do.  Please note that this recipe say it serves 2 people...yea well, maybe if those 2 people can eat a TON of pasta.  Seriously Ina, what are you thinking?!  I've found that this recipe can very easily feed a group of 4 or at least give me and Jeremy dinner for two days.  Enjoy!






In the oven cooking.  (I forgot to get a picture before we ate it, so just imagine it looking bubbly and having golden crumbs on top.)

Grown Up Mac and Cheese by Ina Garten


  • 4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.
  3. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.
  5. Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Surprise Center Cupcakes

This recipe/idea is SO simple, that I almost feel bad posting about it...almost.  We had Jake and Kayla over for dinner last week and I wanted to make a dessert too.  Jerm asked me, "Well, do you really need to make a dessert?"  Ummm, hello?  Desserts/sweets are my favorite thing to make, plus it was Kayla's birthday!  Yes Jerm, I needed to make a dessert! 

Anyway, it was a busy week, so I wanted something simple to throw together.  When I think simple, I think cake mix.  But how could I jazz up the cake mix and make it a bit special??  Hmmm...this is where that bag of mini Snickers, that I bought on sale, come into play.  I'm a big fan of adding candy to baked goods.  Candy can easily spice up your treats and add a pleasant surprise! 

For the cupcakes I decided to make, I added one mini Snickers to the center of each and topped it with a bit of additional batter.  The outside chocolate layer of the Snickers melted into the batter, making it extra chocolately, while the caramel and peanuts added a scrumptious center to the cupcakes.  Frosted with "Funfetti" frosting, these cupcakes were delicious!  I ate one with breakfast the other day. :)  So, next time you're looking to jazz up your cake mix try adding some candy to the batter for a tasty surprise.





Batter and Snickers.


Frosted and sprinkled.


About to be my breakfast!  Look at that yummy center.

Surprise Center Cupcakes, by me


  • 1 box cake mix (any flavor you'd like)
  • eggs, oil and water (amount that cake mix brand calls for)
  • 1 jar of frosting (any flavor you'd like)
  • Mini chocolate candies (Snickers, Peanut Butter Cups, Twix, etc.)


  1. Follow baking directions on the box, but just add one candy to the center of each cupcake or randomly throughout the cake pan that you're using.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Alright, I'm back!  Sara's Sweets is back up and running.  I'm back from vacation and only have 2 more weekend trips for work, so I'm back in the kitchen cooking dinners and baking.

This recipe is a another favorite in our house and comes from the fabulous website: Recipezaar.  Some Tortilla Soups can be very brothy with just chunks of chicken...well, that's not what I prefer.  I like my Tortilla Soup to be on the thicker side, creamy and chunky, which is exactly what this soup is.  Plus, this soup is fairly easy to throw together.  The most complicated part is chopping up the vegetables, while the rest of it is mainly just stirring. 

When I made this the other night, I decided not to add the chicken, I cut back on the amount of chicken broth (because I ran out), I added one can of black beans (because I like them) and I used skim milk (as usual).  It still turned out great, so this recipe has a lot of flexibility.  Try adding some corn, kidney beans, jalapeno, whatever you like.  Also, one this to be aware of with Tortilla Soup is that the more tortillas you add, the thicker the soup will be.  Therefore, I'd recommend starting with about 5 tortillas and work up from there, depending on your likeness.

Enjoy this delicious recipe!




Veggies sautéing.


Cut up tortillas, ready to jump into the pot.


All finished and ready to eat!

Chicken Tortilla Soup by Recipezaar


  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup celery
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, diced or 1 fresh garlic clove, diced
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons corn oil
  • 4 (15 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomatoes, diced (optional)
  • 1 (10 ounce) can Rotel tomatoes & chilies, diced
  • 1 (1.25-1 1/2 ounce) packet taco seasoning
  • 1 (10 count) package corn tortillas (broken or cut into small pieces)
  • 12 ounces chicken meat, poached, diced
  • 1 cup milk
  • 12 ounces Monterey jack cheese or Mexican blend cheese, shredded
  • corn tortilla chips, broken into small pieces


  1. Sauté carrots, onions, celery in corn oil, garlic, salt and pepper until tender.
  2. Add chicken broth and bring to boil.
  3. Add tomatoes, Rotel, taco seasoning, and chicken.
  4. Cut Tortillas into small pieces and add to broth mixture.
  5. Let boil for 20 minutes or until tortillas are thoroughly incorporated into soup stirring occasionally to keep from sticking.
  6. Reduce heat and add 8 oz. cheese. Simmer for additional 10 minutes.
  7. Add milk and simmer for additional 10 minutes.
  8. If thicker soup is desired, add more diced tortillas and let incorporate into soup.
  9. Garnish with shredded cheese and broken tortilla chips.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Temporary Break

I was so excited when I started a cooking blog, and then I started traveling for work and went on vacation for a week!  Traveling + Vacation = no cooking = bad for a cooking blog. :-(  But there is no need to worry because I'll be able to start cooking again in a few days.  Recipes will return.  Stay tuned.