Home Chef and Other Meal Delivery Services

I have been a big fan of meal delivery services since they started a couple of years ago. My main go to is Hello Fresh because I love their variety of meals and flexible weekly options. I have done a few posts reviewing the service, and even included some of the meals that you can make yourself within those posts.

I can tell you one thing though, during this quarantine and pandemic going on, these meal delivery services have saved my butt. Literally. Think about it, instead of gearing up mask and gloves to go to the supermarket surrounded by others who potentially can expose you to the virus, only to go up to the produce and meat sections to realize they’re out of almost everything OR prices have gone us drastically due to demand and you are only able to get 1 or 2 packages of fresh meat. It’s a nightmare.

With these meal delivery kits, they come like clockwork. Their sites say there may be delays, but mine have all been coming on time, and very fresh when they arrive. I have been able to have these 3 dinners worth of amazing restaurant quality meals delivered to me without fail during this quarantine and loving every week of it. I’m not gonna lie.. I even had both Hello Fresh AND Home Chef delivered one week because I forgot to shut one off for the week since I bounce back and forth, and it was 6 dinners worth! Think it’s expensive? Think again… no contract cancel any time, and your first box is only $35 if you sign up through an existing member – otherwise it’s $59.95. That’s still less than $10 a person for dinner per day.

Try it for yourself, save $35 on your first box by signing up 🡪HERE🡨

My new kick I’m on is Home Chef, I started it just a few weeks ago. It is the same basic idea as Hello Fresh, a collection of meals that you choose from a list, or if you forget to chose then the meals are chosen for you.  The difference I have noticed between Home Chef vs Hello Fresh is that Home Chef does some of the work for you & the ingredients are more on a professional culinary level even though the meals are simple. They’re both $59.95 for a 3 meal 2 person plan, and I am usually able to get 2 1/2 meals out of it for me, my husband and my oldest son (my youngest is too picky to eat anything good…).

With that being said, they do an AMAZING job with outlining the recipe and even a novice cook can feel like a chef.. I guess that’s where the got the name from!

Here is an example of a complex risotto recipe I was able to easily make in a matter of 30 minutes;

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This is their Shrimp & Bok Choy with Coconut Risotto and it was A-Mazing!

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Simple step by step recipe with the freshest ingredients ready to go. See if you can follow along with the recipe card and keep in mind all ingredients are provided in separate little meal bags for you although you do need to sharpen up your knife skills and chop;

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Prepare the Ingredients

Remove any discolored outer leaves from bok choy and trim ends. Cut stems into ¼” slices and coarsely chop leaves. Keep stems and leaves separate. Trim and thinly slice white portions of green onions. Thinly slice remaining green onions on an angle. Keep white and green portions separate. Pat shrimp dry.

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Start the Risotto

Place a medium pot over medium-high heat and add 1 tsp. olive oil. Add rice and white portions of green onions to hot pot. Stir occasionally until rice is toasted and opaque, 1-2 minutes. Add 1 cup boiling water from small pot and mirepoix base to pot with rice. Rice should just be covered by water. Stir often until nearly all water is absorbed.

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Finish the Risotto

Add ½ cup boiling water from small pot and stir often until nearly all water is absorbed. Repeat this process, stirring often, 18-20 minutes. Taste risotto as you cook, checking for tenderness. When rice has no more “bite” or crunch, it’s done. There may be water left. Stir in coconut milk until combined and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir constantly until slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes. Remove from burner and stir in green portions of green onions (reserve a pinch for garnish) and ¼ tsp. salt. Cover and set aside.

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Cook the Shrimp

Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a medium non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, add shrimp to hot pan and cook undisturbed until seared on one side, 2-3 minutes. Flip, and cook until shrimp reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees, 1-2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Keep pan over medium-high heat.

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Cook Vegetables and Finish Dish

Add 1 tsp. olive oil and bok choy stems to hot pan and stir occasionally until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Add bok choy leaves and stir constantly until leaves are wilted, 1-2 minutes. Stir in shrimpgarlic and ginger sauce, and ¼ tsp. salt until heated through, 30-60 seconds. Remove from burner. Plate dish as pictured on front of card, topping risotto with shrimp-vegetable mixture and garnishing with toasted coconut and reserved green portions of green onions. Bon appétit!

Keep in mind all images above are copywrite of Home Chef and shown from my online cookbook. Yes, they even give you a cookbook in your online account that stores all of the past recipes you’ve made on their plan so you can remake them yourself by buying the ingredients.

I took it a step further and have ordered a large 3 ring recipe binder and a 3 hole punch and will be adding all of the Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, and Home Chef meal cards to so that I can have them all on hand to make them whenever I feel the need to.

If you want try it please use my invite link to appreciate my work that went into posting this for you!🤗
https://www.homechef.com/invite/QbnZwrC2K190R

There are other meal plans as well like FRESHLY if you are not a fan of cooking. They’re pre-made meals and perfect for take and go lunch’s for work or quick dinners. They are microwavable and freezer ready. They’re very tasty but a little expensive in my opinion for the portions although the more you buy the cheaper they get and they do have $20 off of your first order by signing up 🡪HERE🡨 .

Hope you try one of these meal plans out, they are definitely coming in handy during this shut down in New Jersey! Comment your thoughts if you’ve tried any of the meal plans I mentioned or any others that I haven’t.

Easy Vanilla S’mores Cake

Vanilla S'mores Cake

This cake is so easy you can make it any time.

  • 1 Box French Vanilla Cake Mix (Cook for directions)
  • 1/2 Box Jello Vanilla Instant Pudding (Add to cake mix for extra moisture and flavor)
  • 1 Bowl Vanilla Pudding Icing (See recipe below)
  • 2 Packs Graham Crackers (For sides of cake)
  • 3 Bars Hershey's Chocolate Bars (Melted for drizzles)
  • 3 Marshmallows (However you would like to use for decoration)
  • 1/4 bag Vanilla Chocolate Chips (For texture in cake batter)
  1. Bake cake per box directions. If using the Vanilla Pudding Icing recipe, use 1/2 box left of the Jello Vanilla Instant Pudding in the mix to add extra moisture and flavor to the boxed cake. I also add vanilla chocolate chips to the batter in the pan for texture.

  2. Ice with the Vanilla icing.

  3. Pulse the graham crackers in a food chopper to get thin cracker crumbs. Add to the sides of the iced cake. The more the merrier! They add great flavor when mixed with the icing plus they're yummy!

  4. Decorate with melted chocolate, marshmallows (heat for 10 seconds but be careful with young kids, they get REALLY sticky!), and some whole or broken graham crackers on top.

I recommend using my Vanilla Pudding Icing for this recipe. It holds perfectly. This cake would also be great with some chocolate fudge icing inside!

It’s even great just like this!

Vanilla Pudding Icing

Simple cream cheese based icing that pack huge flavor!

  • 1 8 oz. Cream Cheese (No need to soften)
  • 1 Stick (1/2 Cup) Unsalted Butter Softened (You can use salted butter if it is all you have.)
  • 1/2 Box Jello Vanilla Instant Pudding
  • 1 Cup Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract (I prefer the premium flavor for my icings.)
  • 1/4 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  1. Add the cream cheese to the stand mixer and wisk on high for about 30 seconds until creamy.

  2. Add in softened butter and mix with cream cheese until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

  3. Add in vanilla extract and vanilla pudding (1/2 box – the other half you can add to your cake mix, it helps moisten the cake) and beat on high 30 seconds.

  4. Add remaining ingredients and mix on high for about 1-2 minuted until fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl halfway through.

  5. *Add more milk if you'd like a thinner consistency but be careful not to add too much at once!

Vanilla Pudding Icing Recipe

Vanilla Pudding Icing

Simple cream cheese based icing that pack huge flavor!

  • 1 8 oz. Cream Cheese (No need to soften)
  • 1 Stick (1/2 Cup) Unsalted Butter Softened (You can use salted butter if it is all you have.)
  • 1/2 Box Jello Vanilla Instant Pudding
  • 1 Cup Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract (I prefer the premium flavor for my icings.)
  • 1/4 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  1. Add the cream cheese to the stand mixer and wisk on high for about 30 seconds until creamy.

  2. Add in softened butter and mix with cream cheese until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

  3. Add in vanilla extract and vanilla pudding (1/2 box – the other half you can add to your cake mix, it helps moisten the cake) and beat on high 30 seconds.

  4. Add remaining ingredients and mix on high for about 1-2 minuted until fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl halfway through.

  5. *Add more milk if you'd like a thinner consistency but be careful not to add too much at once!

This is a recipe I made up for my S’mores cake I made. I am a huge fan of cream cheese icing, but it was not the exact flavor I was looking for with the came I was making. I wanted a vanilla pudding icing, but everything I found left me unimpressed. They all had the same ingredients, cool whip and vanilla pudding mix.

Don’t get me wrong… I am a fan of simple. I’ll take simple any day, but I did not want a loose icing for this as I was using it as the filling and icing. This icing will be stiff enough to do some cool decorating, and still have stability to use as a filling as well.

The best part? It is literally amazing. Flavorful, not just pretty. You will want to lick the bowl because it tastes just like the Vanilla Pudding flavor!

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

The easiest chicken cordon bleu recipe!

  • 1 Can Small Peas
  • 1 Jar Classico Creamy Alfredo 
  • 1 Ham Steak
  •  Tyson Frozen Grilled Chicken Breasts
  • 1 cup White Cooking Wine
  • 1/2 box Penne

Most weeknights I don’t mind cooking. In fact I love to cook probably more than anything else, but I have limited time since I don’t get home from work until around 6pm.

Tonight I had an idea of what ingredients I wanted to use as it’s food shopping day tomorrow and I make up whatever I can to use what’s left of the weeks in hone ingredients. That’s when I thought about making this shortcut chicken cordon bleu and it came out super yummy!

When I say this recipe is easy, I mean it took longer for me to write this recipe then to execute the entire dinner and eat it kind of easy…

I used 3 frozen Tyson grilled chicken breasts and started off by putting them in the oven per the back of the bag (375° for 20 minutes). Then started a pot of water to throw in some penne noodles so they’d be done at the same time as the chicken.

Next, I grabbed a pan and tossed in some butter so I can simmer some chunks of ham. You can’t make chicken cordon bleu without ham! So I used a prepackaged honey ham steak I had and chopped half of it into cubes. I simmered these in the butter and once browned and some nice ham grease was in the pan, I added a jar of classico creamy alfredo sauce. This added the ham flavor to the otherwise fairly bland canned alfredo sauce.

Next, I tossed in a half can of small peas and a cup of white cooking wine. All of this simmered together until the noodles and chicken were done. Leave the oven on.

Then I drained the noodles and the three chicken into cubes. I mixed everything into a pot and added some shredded Monterey jack cheese, about a handful (it’s what I had). After tossing it together, I sprayed my casserole dish with pam cooking spray, and added the mixture to it. I topped it with some Italian breadcrumbs (just a sprinkle), and layered some provolone slices across the top covering the entire thing. You should use swiss to be true to the original “cordon bleu” recipe, but again, I used what I had on hand and I actually prefer provolone to swiss.

Last step, cover loosely with tin foil so it doesn’t stick to the top layer of cheese and pop it in the oven just to bubble inside and heat the cheese on top, 375° still as previously set, for about 10 minutes.

That’s it! That’s the shortcut way, feel free to replace ther frozen with fresh chicken although I must say there is really no need to as this came out great! My only additional advise is get 2 jars of alfredo if you’re using an entire box of noodles. I used half a box and 1 jar and it was a tad but drier than I would’ve liked. Maybe 2 jars with 1/2 box of noodles would be best to keep it extra saucy!

Let me know what you think if you try this easy simple Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole recipe.

Potato Fennel Soup Recipe

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This is one of my all time favorite soups! Believe it or not, it was a mistake recipe when I attempted making the recipe a friend had given my from her Ecuadorian mother-in-law.

It was an awesome mistake and I’ve made it over and over again since then. I’ve tweaked it a bit since, and probably because I keep forgetting exactly what I used in the ingredients but that’s why I’m writing this post and documenting the recipe this time! There’s one major issue I have with this soups and that’s that there is never enough! It’s too good I want an endless supply lol.

The biggest mistake I used with the initial recipe was star anise. I thought her recipe called for Anise seeds, and looking all over I only found star anise so I grabbed it. I was told the oil would turn red, and it wasn’t and then realized it was supposed to be annatto seeds which are VERY hard to find in stores and had to be purchased online in a big bottle.

That was an amazing mistake though because although I didn’t get the red tinted and flavor I was wanting, the anise added amazing flavor to it.  Anise is fennel family, and super healthy too.

I tried making it again and bought actual anise which I boiled and emulsified and well… it’s just amazing and I’m going to show you the ingredients and steps below…

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Add some vegetable oil to a large stock pot, and add some seeds. Simmer on low or they’ll burn and POP right out of the pot (watch your eyes!) Those sucker’s hurt when they hit you soaked in hot oil.

Simmer just until they heat up and the oil turns bright reddish orange then fish out all of the seeds from the oil and discard because they aren’t supposed to be consumed they’re just for flavor.

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Chop up a quarter of the anise or fennel body (the white part), some scallions, and some green onion whites.

Add to the boiling oil and simmer until they start to get alittle tender. Then add in some vegetable stock about halfway up the pot and bring to a boil.

Then peel and chop up about 5 small red potatoes into small pieces that we will be adding to the pot to boil along with the anise and other root veggies we added.

Bring to a boil for 30 minutes.  You need the potatoes and veggies to be tender enough to use an emulsion hand blender and blend into a soup consistency.

The emulsion hand blender I have I got at my local grocery store and it was maybe $30 at most but so worth it!

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Blend all of the ingredients in the pot until smooth broth.  The more potatoes you add initially the thicker it’ll be but I like it too be thin for this soup.  This mends all of you the boiled ingredients together into a nice flavorful broth.  At this point I usually add a bit of salt and pepper and also 2 scoops of sour cream before blending.

Then add additional cut up cubed peeled potatoes that will stay whole pieces in the soup.

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Simmer the potatoes in the broth for another 20-25 minutes until potatoes are tender.  I also add some of the leaves from the anise as well for flavor and looks.

When done, put a large hunk of 5 blend Italian shredded cheese or mozzerella in a bowl and pour soup over it.

This is the #1 must have ingredient to make this soup one of the most addicting soups I’ve ever had.

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*tip, you can omit the Annatto seeds all together, or add less for less of an orange color.  Also you can add some milk to the soup to adjust flavor or texture as needed.

Enjoy!

If you made it, let me know what you think!

 

 

Potato Fennel Soup

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This is one of my all time favorite soups! Believe it or not, it was a mistake recipe when I attempted making the recipe a friend had given my from her Ecuadorian mother-in-law.

It was an awesome mistake and I’ve made it over and over again since then. I’ve tweaked it a bit since, and probably because I keep forgetting exactly what I used in the ingredients but that’s why I’m writing this post and documenting the recipe this time! There’s one major issue I have with this soups and that’s that there is never enough! It’s too good I want an endless supply lol.

The biggest mistake I used with the initial recipe was star anise. I thought her recipe called for Anise seeds, and looking all over I only found star anise so I grabbed it. I was told the oil would turn red, and it wasn’t and then realized it was supposed to be annatto seeds which are VERY hard to find in stores and had to be purchased online in a big bottle.

That was an amazing mistake though because although I didn’t get the red tinted and flavor I was wanting, the anise added amazing flavor to it.  Anise is fennel family, and super healthy too.

I tried making it again and bought actual anise which I boiled and emulsified and well… it’s just amazing and I’m going to show you the ingredients and steps below…

20190719_175304.jpg

Add some vegetable oil to a large stock pot, and add some seeds. Simmer on low or they’ll burn and POP right out of the pot (watch your eyes!) Those sucker’s hurt when they hit you soaked in hot oil.

Simmer just until they heat up and the oil turns bright reddish orange then fish out all of the seeds from the oil and discard because they aren’t supposed to be consumed they’re just for flavor.

20190719_175703.jpg

Chop up a quarter of the anise or fennel body (the white part), some scallions, and some green onion whites.

Add to the boiling oil and simmer until they start to get alittle tender. Then add in some vegetable stock about halfway up the pot and bring to a boil.

Then peel and chop up about 5 small red potatoes into small pieces that we will be adding to the pot to boil along with the anise and other root veggies we added.

Bring to a boil for 30 minutes.  You need the potatoes and veggies to be tender enough to use an emulsion hand blender and blend into a soup consistency.

The emulsion hand blender I have I got at my local grocery store and it was maybe $30 at most but so worth it!

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Blend all of the ingredients in the pot until smooth broth.  The more potatoes you add initially the thicker it’ll be but I like it too be thin for this soup.  This mends all of you the boiled ingredients together into a nice flavorful broth.  At this point I usually add a bit of salt and pepper and also 2 scoops of sour cream before blending.

Then add additional cut up cubed peeled potatoes that will stay whole pieces in the soup.

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Simmer the potatoes in the broth for another 20-25 minutes until potatoes are tender.  I also add some of the leaves from the anise as well for flavor and looks.

When done, put a large hunk of 5 blend Italian shredded cheese or mozzerella in a bowl and pour soup over it.

This is the #1 must have ingredient to make this soup one of the most addicting soups I’ve ever had.

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*tip, you can omit the Annatto seeds all together, or add less for less of an orange color.  Also you can add some milk to the soup to adjust flavor or texture as needed.

Enjoy!

If you made it, let me know what you think!

 

 

Is Hello Fresh Worth It?

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Let me start off by saying this isn’t a sponsored post and I was not asked to review this by Hello Fresh. I’ve been getting Hello Fresh for quite some time now, so I figured others may be curious if it’s worth it for their families, and well, to see what’s in the box.

And how do they keep it from spoiling before it gets to you? Well, better said than read, so check out my thoughts on Hello Fresh this week…

The meats: Chicken, Ground Beef, & Pork Tenderloin.

Hello Fresh usually has some of the best tasting meats around.  Their spice packets and meat quality is why almost all of their recipes are fantastic and it keeps me coming back for more.

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Here is the first recipe that I cooked and promised to show. These were the bagged ingredients for this meal:

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Cheddar Chicken Fajitas: 30 min recipe

Figgy Balsamic Pork: 30 minute recipe

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The beef I received was an off color than usual and I was surprised as I never had a meat issue with them although I have received some old veggies. I’m still not convinced it’s spoiled, but rather be safe than sorry especially since I’m sick and congested right now so I can’t use the smell test.

I contacted them through the chat in the app and was given a credit back which was really helpful.  It’ll apply towards my next order.  For now, I plan to buy some beef from the store and cook up three Spaghetti Ragu as intended. Stay tuned!

Spaghetti Beef Ragu: 30 minutes

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Want to give it a try?

Save $40 off of your first box! Unlimited option choices and add on features too. With this deal your first order of 3 meals is less than $20 including shipping.

They do set you up for a monthly subscription (card required) but you can easily skip and unskip weeks if you stay on top of it like I do (you can skip up to 5 weeks in a row in one shot, even more once they open up the week. It’s like a set it and forget it). OR you can cancel immediately after your box delivers but I do enjoy getting them when I feel like it, so I keep mine going.

What else is in the box? I promised I’d share, so here is what’s in the envelope this week.  It changes weekly, and although I like to look, I’ve never actually gotten any of the items they’re trying to sell.  One subscription is enough for me a week lol!

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Easy Weekday Cheeseburger Sliders

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I love to cook. Like, looooove it. It’s one of my favorite mental stimulations aside from shopping 😁. But many days, I want to throw something together quickly without it taking much thought.

Sometimes I’ll grab random on sale perishable items when food shopping and have to find creative ways to use them before they expire like a game lol.

I’ve been thinking of new recipes to make for my family and I was in love with a cheeseburger stuffed mushroom recipe I found years ago. I had a random bag of Hawaiian rolls on hand and decided to use that same recipe on these to make extra yummy super simple Cheeseburger Sliders minus the mushrooms (only because I didn’t have any, they’d probably be great tossed .on them too!).

So here is it.  Simple yet delectable and different enough to not just say “we’re having cheeseburgers for dinner”.

Grab a stick of cream cheese, a pound of chopped meat, some minced garlic, butter, mustard (we use frenches), ketchup, cheese, and Hawaiian rolls. Optional items: onions, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, bacon, pickles.

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut the Hawaiian rolls in half all at once with a large knife. Set the bottom in a casserole dish.

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Brown the chopped meat and drain all of the grease, you definitely don’t want to ruin it by having greasy soggy bottom buns… use the minced garlic, garlic and onion powders, and Worcestershire sauce while cooking the beef to season as much as you’d like.

Mix the cooked meat with softened crean cheese, some mustard and ketchup. Then put on top of bottom layer.

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I like to add another little layer of mustard and ketchup before adding the onions.  I used red since that’s all i had on hand, but I prefer white onions for this.

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Then add the cheese.  I used white american, again because that’s all I had on hand when making this but I prefer sliced cheddar cheese. This would also be the time to add the bacon and mushrooms and pickles if you choose to. I just didn’t have them but they’d be really yummy.

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Carefully slide on the other side of the buns, the top, all on one piece and press down a little so it “sticks”to the mixture.

Melt 1 stick of butter, I use salted, and mix with minced garlic and some parsley if you’re feeling fancy.  Then spoon over the top buns to get a nice buttery top making sure to get some garlic on each bun.  This makes them like little garlic knots too without the knots!

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Then put into the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.  Watch out the tops don’t burn, check after 15.

Then you have ooey gooey mini cheesy burgers that are not your average cheeseburger but so simple you can whip them together any day! Great weekday meal.

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I love to add some fresh arugula to it before I eat it because arugula makes everything better!

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Sliders are so versatile and easy..

Next ill be trying the Hawaiian sub rolls and making cheese steak sliders!

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And I’ll definitely be trying this Bourbon BBQ manwich on some pulled pork sliders too!

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Monster Eyeball Cupcakes – Howl-O-Ween Giveaway Hop

Fall is officially here and at my house we are getting in the Halloween spirit already.

My youngest has an obsession with scary and goury things so when i got the letter for the fall dance at his school,  I knew i had to make a scary treat for the kids.

Every year I like to make something,  and not tooting my own horn (ok.. maybe I am just a little), but my treats always sell out the fastest.

Last year I made little monster cupcakes with edible candy eyes and they actually looked like little alien monsters.  The year before that was Jack Skellington sugar cookies which was fitting because that was my oldest’s Halloween costume that year. The year before that were pumpkin cupcakes…

This is a seriously simple treat,  and doesn’t require much artistic ability,  but I figured I’d share anyway in case you wanted to make these adorable little monster eyeball Cupcakes!

So,  let me start off by saying yes.. the pictures are ehh, and I probably could’ve taken more step photography but honestly,  I was rushing and just trying to get done.  I had gone to the gym at 6am, then worked a 9 hour day, and just gotten home at the time,  plus has dinner going in the oven simultaneously. I love to multitask,  it’s one of my talents and I can be a bit hyperactive😀.

Here’s all you need;

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I went with classic white cake because hey, eyeballs are white after all.. I’m a little disappointed I couldn’t find the green jelly candy rings because that was my initial plan,  but these peach ones came out just fine and they taste super yummy! Did i mention they’re only $1 at the grocery store?

I picked through the m&m bag for only red since I was making scary monster eyes,  but brown or any other color would work just as well.

I like them a little bigger for the kids treats for school functions, so i went auth my large baking cups from”if you care” and the color worked well since its a light natural beige and they’re safer for kids because they are free of all chemicals and chlorine.

For the next few steps,  that’s where I slacked off. Maybe I was too excited to start decorating but you get the jist. Simple. Creative.  Cute. Most important,  really yummy!

*Note,  I use olive oil in place of vegetable oil because it makes the cupcakes fluffier.

Enter to WIN 3 packs of IF YOU CARE cupcake holders ($12 Value!)!

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Check out the other giveaways in the hop!




Linky hop giveaway hosted by;

The Kids Did It
http://thekidsdidit.com/ & The Mommy Island http://themommyisland.blogspot.com

Happy Fall!

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