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Mini Pancakes

Mini pancakes are a fun way to mix up breakfast! These bite-sized cakes are perfect for dunking into maple syrup.…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

Mini pancakes are a fun way to mix up breakfast! These bite-sized cakes are perfect for dunking into maple syrup.

Mini Pancakes on plate with syrup and raspberries

This breakfast idea makes us smile just looking at the platter: try these Mini Pancakes! Here’s how to make breakfast more fun: make a miniature version of your favorite steaming platter of flapjacks. These cakes can be eaten with a fork, or eat them with your hands, dunking into a pool of maple syrup! It’s a natural recipe for kids, but we think they’re just as fun for adults too. (Both of us have a thing for miniaturized stuff!)

Ingredients in mini pancakes batter

These mini pancakes are so much fun, and we love making them for entertaining: especially when there are kids around. You can essentially use the batter from any of your favorite pancake recipes, but there’s one catch. It’s easiest to make these using a squeeze bottle, so you’ll want to have a nice smooth batter that won’t get stuck in the bottle.

Our mini pancakes recipe is a spin on our classic pancake recipe, which features both all-purpose and whole wheat flour for a developed, hearty flavor. Here are the ingredients you’ll need for mini pancakes:

  • Pantry: All-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla
  • Dairy and eggs: Milk, eggs, butter (or oil)
  • Fresh ingredients: Lemon juice (or vinegar)
Mini pancakes dunking into syrup

Key tool: a squeeze bottle

The best way to make uniform mini pancakes? Use a condiment squeeze bottle, which helps to make perfect circles that are similar in size. You can also use a spoon or 1 tablespoon measuring spoon to spoon out the batter, but it gets messy and takes much longer than the squeeze bottle method. (Trust us! We’ve tested it out so you don’t have to.)

We highly recommend getting ahold of a squeeze bottle for this recipe! You can also use them for sauces and garnishes, like making a nice drizzle of sour cream over enchiladas, for example.

Tips for how to make mini pancakes

Mini pancakes are a little trickier than standard pancakes because they’re so small and you make so many at once! This recipe makes a total of 55 to 60 mini pancakes. Here are a few things to note about the process:

  • Use a large griddle: non-stick is helpful. You’ll want a large surface since you’ll be cooking so many cakes at once.
  • Use that squeeze bottle! It’s the easiest way to make dozens of mini pancakes at a time. If you don’t have one, consider making smaller batches since the process is slower and messier.
  • Experiment to find the right heat level. Medium low heat is ideal, but it’s different on every stovetop. It should take a few minutes to get the pan up to heat. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect at first: keep adjusting as you cook. Remember that batches after the first batch will cook faster than the first since the pan is hotter.
  • Don’t worry if the first batch of pancakes doesn’t work! Use it as a test for honing in your skills.
Mini pancakes

Ways to serve mini pancakes

Mini pancakes are designed to be handheld: so you don’t even need to use a fork! But you can eat them on a plate too. Here are a few ideas:

Or course, you can add things chocolate chips or whipped cream: if you like dessert for breakfast! Let us know how you plan to serve these in the comments below.

Mini Pancake on platter with syrup

More pancake recipes

Love flapjacks for breakfast? Try these tasty pancake recipes:

This mini pancakes recipe is…

Vegetarian. For vegan, use this Vegan Pancakes recipe and use the technique in the recipe below.

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Mini Pancakes

Mini Pancakes


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 55 to 60 mini pancakes

Description

Mini pancakes are a fun way to mix up breakfast! These bite-sized cakes are perfect for dunking into maple syrup.


Ingredients

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk of choice
  • ¼ cup melted unsalted butter or neutral oil
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar*

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, then whisk in the milk, melted butter (or oil), vanilla extract, and lemon juice (or vinegar).
  3. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until a smooth batter forms. (It will thicken after it sits 1 to 2 minutes.) Pour the batter into a squeeze bottle. 
  4. Lightly butter a skillet or griddle and wipe off the extra grease with a paper towel. Heat the skillet to medium low heat. Make about 2-inch diameter circles using a squeeze bottle (or you can use 1 tablespoon measure to scoop the batter onto the skillet and flatten into a circle**). Cook the pancakes until the bubbles pop on the top and the bottoms are golden, then flip and cook until cooked through (about 1 to 2 minutes per side). 
  5. Place the cooked pancakes under an inverted bowl to keep them warm. Repeat with the remaining batter. If necessary, add a teaspoon of milk to keep it a drizzlable consistency (if using a squeeze bottle, you can shake it in!). Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain an even temperature. Serve immediately with maple syrup for dipping.

Notes

*Adding an acidic ingredient helps to make fluffy pancakes. If you don’t have fresh lemon juice on hand, use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.

**The squeeze bottle method is much easier and essential for this recipe, in our opinion. Here’s a link to the squeeze bottles we use.

  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Breakfast
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Mini pancakes, mini pancake

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Butterbeer

This butterbeer recipe is an easy and delicious way to recreate the classic Harry Potter drink! Perfect for parties, Halloween,…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This butterbeer recipe is an easy and delicious way to recreate the classic Harry Potter drink! Perfect for parties, Halloween, or anytime.

Butterbeer recipe

Want to recreate the classic Harry Potter drink! Try this Butterbeer recipe! Our son has become obsessed with Hogwarts and this recipe is an easy way to recreate the series drink. It’s so tasty, bubbly with a butterscotch flavor and a frothy top! Many recipes are extremely sugary but our take is toned back so it lets all the flavors shine through (and you or the children you’re making it for won’t be bouncing off the walls). It’s perfect for parties, Halloween, and any occasion where you need a little magic!

What is butterbeer?

Butterbeer is a fictional drink in the Harry Potter series that’s beloved by wizards. It is first mentioned in the book Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and has a level of alcohol doesn’t affect witches and wizards. The concept is based on an actual drink called buttered beer that originated in England in the 1500’s. That drink was made with beer, sugar, eggs, nutmeg, cloves and butter (similar to something like buttered rum).

Author J.K. Rowling reportedly told Bon Appetit magazine that the taste of butterbeer should be like a “less sickly butterscotch.” In April 2010 Universal Studios announced a non-alcoholic butterbeer drink sold at their Harry Potter World, which was tasted and approved by Rowling herself!

Butterbeer recipe

Ingredients in butterbeer

No one knows the exact ingredients in the official Universal Studios butterbeer recipe (except this guy). However, the flavor of butterbeer is reminiscent of cream soda. Most copycat recipes include cream soda, butterscotch syrup and cream or ice cream for a frothy topping.

This butterbeer recipe is unique because it’s got all those classic flavors but a little less sugar to let them all shine! It’s built like an Italian soda, with soda water, flavored syrup, and cream. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Butterscotch syrup, like Torani
  • Vanilla extract
  • Yellow and brown food coloring
  • Soda water
  • Heavy cream

Tips for making butterbeer

This butterbeer recipe is like an butterscotch-flavored Italian soda, a drink made of club soda and flavored syrup, often served with cream on top. The concept was invented by an Italian American couple who introduced Italian soda in San Francisco in 1925. It took off and has been popular ever since! Here are a few tips for making and serving butterbeer:

  • Whisk 2 tablespoons heavy cream until slightly thickened. Reserve this for the topping.
  • Mix a splash of soda water with 2 tablespoons butterscotch syrup in a small beer mug or glass. Add 3 drops yellow and 1 small drop brown food coloring to simulates the beer coloring (which is the main coloring agent in cream soda).
  • Add 1 cup soda water. Do this right before serving to preserve the bubbles.
  • Top with the cream to simulate the frothy top of a beer. Enjoy!
Butter beer recipe

Harry Potter themed mugs and glasses

The best way to serve butterbeer is in a small beer mug! We like these small glass beer mugs. You can also serve it in Harry Potter themed glasses. We like this set of Hogwarts crest glasses that have the crest of each of the houses, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Our son especially loves drinking anything out of these!

Of course if you’re serving butterbeer for a party, you can use disposable glasses or cups of your choice. Keep in mind the finished drink has about 1 ¼ cups volume with about 1-inch extra room needed for the foam.

Spiked variation

Want to make a spiked butterbeer? This butterbeer recipe works beautifully with rum. Add 1 oz añejo rum to each serving of butterbeer, which adds notes of vanilla and oak. We think it’s best with rum, but you could also try something like vanilla vodka if desired.

Butter beer

More fun homemade drinks

This butterbeer drink is a fun and easy homemade drink that kids and adults alike love! It’s fun for parties, as a Halloween drink, or anytime you need a fun cooking project with kids. Here are a few more homemade drinks to add to your arsenal:

This butterbeer recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Butterbeer


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink

Description

This butterbeer recipe is an easy and delicious way to recreate the classic Harry Potter drink! Perfect for parties, Halloween, or anytime.


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) flavored butterscotch syrup, like Torani
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 drops yellow food coloring 
  • 1 small drop brown food coloring
  • 1 cup (8 oz) soda water
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) heavy cream, whisked until slightly thick

Instructions

  1. In a mug or glass, stir together the butterscotch syrup, vanilla extract, food coloring and a splash of soda water. (Spiked variation: Add 1 oz añejo rum.)
  2. Top with the remaining soda water. Carefully pour cream across top and serve. 
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Butterbeer, butter beer, butterbeer recipe, butter beer recipe

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Easy Stuffed Shells

This stuffed shells recipe is easy and a crowd pleaser! The ricotta stuffed pasta shells swimming in tomato sauce are…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This stuffed shells recipe is easy and a crowd pleaser! The ricotta stuffed pasta shells swimming in tomato sauce are a hit every time.

Stuffed Shells

Here’s a recipe that’s simple, hearty and pleases a crowd: this easy Stuffed Shells recipe! Stuff pasta shells with ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and spinach, then bake them up in a bath of garlicky tomato sauce. It makes your kitchen smell heavenly, and the first bite into one of those jumbo shells confirms it’s just as tasty as the smell. This Italian classic recipe is a favorite of ours: here’s how to bake up this easy dinner idea. (Even our spinach-averse kiddo was a fan!)

Ingredients in this stuffed shells recipe

You can make stuffed pasta shells with just about any type of filling. Here we’ve opted for a spinach ricotta stuffing, which is both classic and vegetarian. But don’t worry: meat lovers won’t miss the meat at all! Our friends and family can attest that this one is a winner. Here’s what you’ll need for this stuffed shells recipe:

  • Jumbo pasta shells
  • Fire roasted crushed tomatoes (or substitute purchased marinara sauce)
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Dried oregano and salt
  • Frozen spinach
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • Lemon zest
  • Egg
  • Parsley, for garnish
Stuffed Shells

Ingredient notes for stuffed shells

As with any Italian dish, this stuffed shells recipe depends on the quality of ingredients for a great result. Above all, we suggest making your own tomato sauce with fire roasted tomatoes. While you can use purchased marinara, a homemade tomato sauce heightens the flavors! Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Use fire roasted tomatoes in the tomato sauce. Fire roasted tomatoes make the best flavor: they taste sweet and smoky right out of the can. If you can’t find them, substitute best quality tomatoes and add 1 teaspoon sugar and ½ teaspoon smoked paprika.
  • If you choose to use purchased marinara, add the garlic and oregano in the recipe. This helps to infuse homemade flavor into the purchased sauce.
  • Whole milk mozzarella cheese makes a difference. This type of cheese melts much better than part skim and has a richer flavor (try it: you’ll notice a difference!). It also melts better when reheating.
Stuffed shells

Working with frozen spinach

Frozen spinach is the best ingredient to use in these stuffed shells: not fresh spinach! Of course if you like, you can cook down 10 ounces of fresh spinach until it is wilted very small. But frozen spinach really does have an advantage: it has just the right texture for using in filled pastas once it’s defrosted. Here are a few tips on using frozen spinach:

  • Defrost under warm running water or in the microwave. If you’re using warm water, each brand of spinach takes a different amount of time to thaw. Some brands thaw in a few minutes, others take a while of breaking apart the frozen chunks. The microwave can be quicker and easier.
  • Important: squeeze out all extra moisture with your fingers. If you’d like, you can place the spinach in a paper towel to do this. Or, just squeeze out the moisture over the sink before using it. It should feel very dry and crumbly before using it.

Leftover storage and make ahead tips

This stuffed shells recipe takes about 1 hour to make, which doesn’t always work for weeknights. We like to make this one for dinner parties or on weekends, but you can also meal prep some of the components. This recipe also freezes well, which makes it great for a quick leftover dinner. Here are a few ideas for make ahead and storage:

  • Cook the pasta shells and make the tomato sauce in advance. This saves about 20 minutes off the timing of the recipe. Refrigerate both until ready to fill.
  • Leftovers store refrigerated for up to 3 days. You can make the entire dish in advance and refrigerate if you like. Leftovers tastes great after re-warming in a 375 degree oven. Using whole milk mozzarella cheese is nice because it re-melts nicely when left over.
  • Freeze leftovers in a sealed container for up to 3 months. Place on the counter or in the refrigerator to thaw, or you can place it right into a 375 degree oven and reheat until warmed through and the cheese is melted.
Stuffed shells recipe

What to serve with stuffed shells

How to make these stuffed shells into a meal? Use the 30 minute bake time to prepare some simple side dishes. We love it with a crunchy salad or quick sauteed vegetables. Here are a few ideas:

More Italian pasta recipes

Love pasta dishes? Here are a few more classic Italian pasta recipes you’ll love:

This stuffed shells recipe is…

Vegetarian.

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Stuffed shells

Easy Stuffed Shells


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6

Description

This stuffed shells recipe is easy and a crowd pleaser! The ricotta stuffed pasta shells swimming in tomato sauce are a hit every time.


Ingredients

  • 24 jumbo pasta shells (6.5 ounces)
  • 28 ounces fire roasted crushed tomatoes*
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups whole milk mozzarella cheese, divided
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • Chopped parsley or basil, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Boil the shells until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain them and return them to the pot. Stir in a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking.
  3. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce: In a medium bowl, mix the fire roasted tomatoes, grated garlic, olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and ¾ teaspoon kosher salt. Mix well until all the olive oil is incorporated.
  4. Make the filling: Thaw the spinach following the package instructions, then squeeze out as much water as possible with your hands (it should feel dry and crumbly before using it). Mix it with the other filling ingredients: the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, lemon zest, egg, 1 teaspoon oregano and ¾ teaspoon kosher salt.
  5. Spread half the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan. Take the shells one at a time and stuff them with the cheese mixture. Top with more tomato sauce and then mozzarella cheese (we spread them in lines over the top of each row of shells, so you can still see the shell shapes).
  6. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then uncover and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more until the cheese is melted. Garnish with chopped parsley or basil and serve. Leftovers last refrigerated for 4 days; reheat in a 375°F oven until warmed through. You can also freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.

Notes

*If desired, you can use purchased marinara sauce instead of making your own. If so, still add the 1 clove grated garlic and 1 teaspoon dried oregano to enhance the flavor.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Stuffed shells, stuffed shells recipe, stuffed shells recipe, stuffed pasta shells

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Healthy Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

Healthy mac and cheese? This recipe has big flavor with less cheese than most and added broccoli for fiber and…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

Healthy mac and cheese? This recipe has big flavor with less cheese than most and added broccoli for fiber and nutrients!

Healthy Mac and Cheese

Healthy mac and cheese? There are lots of implications around the word healthy (which we’ll get into below). Here’s the thing: mac and cheese can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. And this one is all about balance: it’s got big flavor, a bit less cheese per serving than the standard recipe, and it’s loaded with broccoli for a dose of nutrients and fiber. What’s not to love? This one’s on our regular rotation (and it’s 100% kid friendly: our 5 year old adores it!).

Ingredients in this healthy mac and cheese

The word “healthy” is a loaded term: to many people it connotes shame and diet culture. It’s also incredibly subjective, because there’s no exact definition on exactly what healthy is. Mac and cheese can be part of a healthy, balanced diet when it’s eaten in moderation and served with a balance of fruits and vegetables.

This recipe is an exercise in that balance: it’s got a bit less cheese than the standard mac and cheese recipe, and it’s got broccoli to balance the carbs out with fiber. Of course, you can have your broccoli on the side if you prefer it that way: and it’s just as good. Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Pasta: macaroni, shells or short pasta (we used cavatappi)
  • Olive oil
  • Broccoli
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt
  • Italian panko, for serving: we like to top with seasoned breadcrumbs! Italian panko are seasoned with Italian herbs and salt (you can also use them instead of croutons, like in this Kale Caesar Salad).
Healthy Mac and Cheese

The secret ingredient

The secret ingredient in this healthy mac and cheese? Pecorino Romano cheese! Pecorino Romano is an aged cheese with a very salty, savory flavor. This cheese has long been one of our favorite types of cheese to use because it’s so flavorful. It especially transforms vegetarian dishes because of its intensely savory flavor.

All you need are two tablespoons of grated Pecorino Romano here, and it makes all the difference! Try not to leave it out. (We tried once and it didn’t taste nearly as delicious!) You should be able to find it at your local grocery store in either grated or shredded containers. If you can’t find it, use Parmesan cheese and a few more pinches of salt. 

Healthy Mac and Cheese

Why to add broccoli to healthy mac and cheese

Of course, you can eat the broccoli on the side: or a side salad! But this healthy mac and cheese actually very tasty with the broccoli intermixed. Here’s why we like it:

  • The contrast in texture helps you slow down while eating it. Ever feel like you can quickly inhale a mountain of mac and cheese? The different texture of broccoli helps us to slow down and enjoy each bite, making it a more satisfying meal and helping us eat a reasonable portion size.
  • It adds fiber. There’s no fiber in noodles. But 1 cup of broccoli adds 2.4 grams fiber, which is 5 to 10% of your daily need (this is the amount in one serving of the mac and cheese).
  • It also adds nutrients. Broccoli is also high in nutrients like iron, folate, potassium, manganese, and vitamins C and K1.

Sides for healthy mac and cheese

This healthy mac and cheese is part of our regular repertoire — our 5 year old in particular loves it! And so do we. Here are a few kid friendly and adult friendly side dish ideas to pair with it for an easy weeknight:

Healthy Mac and Cheese

More mac and cheese recipes

We’ve got traditional mac and cheese recipes too! Here are a few of our top favorite ways to make this classic:

This healthy mac and cheese recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

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Healthy Mac and Cheese

Healthy Mac and Cheese with Broccoli


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4

Description

Healthy mac and cheese? This recipe has big flavor with less cheese than most and added broccoli for fiber and nutrients!


Ingredients

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni, shells or other short cut pasta (if desired, use gluten-free or legume pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups small florets of broccoli (2 heads)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup 2% milk
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (or 1 cup cheddar)
  • 2 tablespoons grated or shredded Pecorino Romano cheese (don’t omit!*)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Italian seasoned panko, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook just until al dente, (about 8 minutes; start tasting a few minutes before your package instructions indicate). 
  2. Cut the broccoli into very small florets. In a large saucepan, add a drizzle of olive oil and heat on medium high. Add the broccoli and cook for 4 minutes until tender, then add a splash of water and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook 2 minutes more until bright green and tender. Remove the broccoli from the pan (and wipe it out if necessary).
  3. In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the flour to create a paste for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk and whisk until smooth. Increase the heat to medium and continue whisking until the sauce starts to thicken, about 2 minutes. Stir in the shredded mozzarella, cheddar and Pecorino Romano cheese and continue stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Add the ½ teaspoon salt. (If the sauce is too sticky, you can add ¼ cup more milk to get a creamier texture.) 
  4. Add the pasta and broccoli to the sauce, stirring to combine, and heat just until the pasta is warmed through. Taste and add the remaining ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. If desired, sprinkle with Italian panko and serve. 

Notes

*This is the secret flavor maker. Pecorino Romano is an aged cheese similar to Parmesan, but saltier and more savory. If you can’t find it, use Parmesan cheese and a few more pinches of salt. 

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Healthy mac and cheese

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.


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7 Kid-Tested, Parent-Approved Outdoor Accessories To Stay Cool

The dog days of summer are officially here—and if you have some little ones under your roof, keeping your family calm, cool, and collected can be a challenge. And I know the summer heat can be a total pain for kids. My childhood home is about a century…

The dog days of summer are officially here—and if you have some little ones under your roof, keeping your family calm, cool, and collected can be a challenge. And I know the summer heat can be a total pain for kids. My childhood home is about a century old, so we didn’t have proper air conditioning until I was a preteen. (Translation? My summers were filled with a lot of fans and trips to dark movie theaters.)

However, thanks to today’s innovative minds who are totally over the heat and humidity, there are plenty of fun and creative ways to keep your kids engaged and cool during these sticky days. But where to begin? I turned to a few awesome parents for their favorite outdoor toys and accessories that save the season. Whether you have babies and toddlers or older children, there’s something here for every family.

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Easy Yogurt Bark

Yogurt bark is a fun and easy frozen snack! Load up frozen yogurt with granola, fruit and toppings of your…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

Yogurt bark is a fun and easy frozen snack! Load up frozen yogurt with granola, fruit and toppings of your choice.

Yogurt Bark

Here’s a fun and easy snack no one can turn down: Yogurt Bark! This play on chocolate bark uses frozen yogurt as the base. Mix Greek yogurt with a little honey and vanilla, then sprinkle with toppings of your choice: fruit, granola, chocolate chips, and nuts. Freeze it up and break it into pieces, and each bite is creamy and refreshing: perfect for kids and adults. Our son Larson adores this treat and honestly: I can’t resist it myself!

How to make yogurt bark: a few tips

What is frozen yogurt bark? It’s essentially chocolate bark that uses frozen yogurt as a base for “healthy” toppings like fruit, granola, and nuts. Mixing Greek yogurt with honey and vanilla gives it a subtly sweet flavor. Freeze it with toppings, and they give a pop of sweet, fruity brilliance that makes this treat hard to resist. Here’s the basic concept and a few tips:

  • Use a jelly roll pan (half sheet pan), size 10″ x 15″. This way you can spread the yogurt to fit the entire sheet pan. If you don’t have one, just use a baking sheet and spread to your desired thickness.
  • Mix Greek yogurt, honey and vanilla. If all you have is vanilla yogurt, you can use that too: just omit the sweetener and vanilla. You can also use plain yogurt.
  • Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or foil! This is key: otherwise the bark will freeze to the pan. Spread the yogurt onto the parchment paper in an even layer.
  • Top and freeze for 3 hours. This gets it good and frozen before digging in.
  • Break into pieces and serve! It does become melty after a few minutes, so eat it quickly.
Yogurt Bark

Frozen yogurt bark toppings

Frozen yogurt bark is fun because it works with just about any toppings you can imagine! Here’s what we chose (and why), and a few other ideas:

  • Sliced strawberries: You only need a few: slice them very thinly so they are easy to eat when frozen.
  • Granola: We used a purchased chocolate granola: use whatever you have on hand
  • Chopped pistachios: The fine dust of pistachios looks like all natural glitter!
  • Chocolate chips: Add a pop of richness with some mini chocolate chips
  • Crushed almonds or peanuts: Also add a nice flavor
  • Peanut butter: Drizzle a bit of peanut butter over the top for a creative twist
  • Other fruit: Blueberries are rather icy when frozen, so we tend to avoid them. Sliced bananas are great
  • Sprinkles: Why not?
Yogurt Bark

Storage info

Once the yogurt bark is frozen for 3 hours, you can cut or break it into pieces. Then store it in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks. After that, it becomes pretty icy and looks a little worn. Keep in mind it does melt immediately upon taking out of the freezer, so you’ll want to eat it fairy quickly (or encourage kids to do so).

More yogurt recipes

There’s so much you can do with yogurt! Here are all our best yogurt recipes for using up the yogurt container:

This yogurt bark recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

Print
Yogurt Bark

Easy Yogurt Bark


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 16

Description

Yogurt bark is a fun and easy frozen snack! Load up frozen yogurt with granola, fruit and toppings of your choice.


Ingredients

  • 3 cups plain full-fat Greek yogurt ⁣
  • ⅓ cup honey⁣ (or ½ cup for a sweeter bark)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 strawberries, thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup granola
  • 2 tablespoons pistachios, crushed
  • Other topping ideas: chocolate chips, peanut butter, crushed almonds or peanuts, sliced bananas, etc.

Instructions

  1. Line a jelly roll pan (aka half sheet pan, 10 x 15″)* with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the yogurt, honey and vanilla extract. Pour it onto the sheet and spread into an even layer.
  3. Sprinkle the top with the thinly sliced strawberries, granola and crushed pistachios (or toppings of your choice).
  4. Freeze for 3 hours. Break or cut into pieces and serve. Store the pieces in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

*If you have a larger sheet pan, pour the yogurt to your desired thickness.

  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Frozen
  • Cuisine: Snack
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Yogurt bark, frozen yogurt bark

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Pizza Bagels

Pizza Bagels are a quick way to pizza night! They’re cheesy, tasty, and easily customizable: you’ve got dinner in no…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

Pizza Bagels are a quick way to pizza night! They’re cheesy, tasty, and easily customizable: you’ve got dinner in no time.

Pizza bagels

We’re all about shortcuts around here…and this one is our best new dinnertime trick. Try Pizza Bagels! This genius concept uses a bagel to make the crust of the pizza pie. All you need are a few ingredients and they come out like a charm: fluffy, thick-crust personal pizzas, piled with toppings and smothered in gooey cheese. Here’s how to whip these up!

Ingredients for pizza bagels

Pizza bagels use a bagel to make the crust of a personal pizza: much in the same way as a tortilla pizza, pita pizza or naan pizza. They’re a little different from the mini bagel bites appetizer you might find in the frozen section. These pizza bagels are the size of a standard bagel and work as a quick dinner idea! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Bagels
  • Pizza sauce: it’s best with Homemade Pizza Sauce!
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil and salt
  • Toppings of your choice (see below)
Pizza bagels

The basic idea

The basic idea for pizza bagels? Brush the bagels with olive oil (and sprinkle with a little garlic powder and salt). Bake them for 8 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, then add toppings and bake 6 to 7 minutes more until the cheese is melted. It’s so simple and customizable! See more on toppings below.

Recommendation: a great pizza sauce

The best way to get great flavor for these pizza bagels? Try our 5 minute Homemade Pizza Sauce. Of course, storebought pizza sauce works too. But we promise: this homemade sauce will blow your mind with the fresh, garlicky robust flavor. It takes only 5 minutes to make, so all you’ll need is a can of fire roasted tomatoes in your pantry. Here are a few notes on the sauce:

  • This pizza sauce takes 5 minutes in a blender (do it while the oven preheats). All you need are canned fire roasted tomatoes, garlic, oregano, salt and olive oil. Blend them up, and the flavor is life changing. Go to our Pizza Sauce recipe.
  • Fire roasted tomatoes are key for the flavor! This type of tomatoes are roasted on an open flame before canning, making them taste sweet right out of the can. Try them once, and you’ll never go back.
Pizza bagels

Pizza bagel toppings

Top these pizza bagels any way you like! You can go totally classic with pepperoni, or get more creative with veggie toppings of your choosing. Either way, be careful not to overload the bagel: use just enough toppings to lightly cover the top. Here’s what we did here, and then a few ideas for more creative toppings:

  • Smoky cherry tomatoes & basil: Thinly slice cherry tomatoes, then sprinkle them with salt, garlic powder and smoked paprika. It has a smoky vibe that’s similar to pepperoni! Top with fresh chopped basil.
  • Veggie supreme: Top with sliced olives, chopped green pepper and sliced red onion
  • Mini pepperoni
  • Prosciutto
  • Spinach
  • Bell peppers, chopped
  • Jarred artichoke hearts
  • Jarred roasted red peppers
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Pesto
  • Feta cheese, goat cheese, smoked mozzarella or smoked gouda

Eat pizza bagels right away

An important thing to note about pizza bagels: these do not work as leftovers! Pizza bagels become soggy after sitting for about 15 minutes. So, plan to eat them immediately after they come out of the oven! For big batches, try to only make enough to fit on trays in your oven at one time.

If you do happen to have a lag time between baking the pizza bagels and eating them, that’s ok! You can reheat them at 400 degrees until they crisp up again.

Pizza bagels

More shortcut pizza recipes

These pizza bagels go over well with anyone: especially kids! There are lots of other ways to make “shortcut” pizza! Here are a few more ways to try:

This pizza bagels recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free bagels.

Print
Pizza bagels

Pizza Bagels


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4

Description

These Pizza Bagels are a quick way to pizza night! They’re cheesy, tasty, and easily customizable: you’ve got dinner in no time.


Ingredients

  • 4 plain bagels
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic powder, for sprinkling
  • 1 cup Homemade Pizza Sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for topping
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Smoked paprika, for sprinkling
  • Basil
  • Other toppings: sliced black olives, green peppers, red onion, pepperoni, etc

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Brush the bagels with olive oil on the cut side and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle each with a pinch of garlic powder and kosher salt. Bake cut side up for 8 minutes until lightly crisp and golden brown on the bottom.
  3. While the bagels bake, prepare the toppings: thinly slice the cherry tomatoes and sprinkle each with a pinch of salt, garlic powder and smoked paprika. Chop the basil. Prepare any other toppings (if using, chop the green pepper and thinly slice the red onion).
  4. Remove the tray from the oven. Top each bagel half with about 2 tablespoons pizza sauce, 3 to 4 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese. Add the seasoned cherry tomatoes and add a sprinkle of salt to the top of the pizza.
  5. Bake the bagels 6 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted. Eat immediately (leftovers do not save well).
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Pizza bagels

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Easy Ranch Dip

This homemade ranch dip recipe will amaze you! It takes just 5 minutes and tastes irresistibly creamy and fresh. Here’s…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This homemade ranch dip recipe will amaze you! It takes just 5 minutes and tastes irresistibly creamy and fresh.

Ranch Dip

Here’s our favorite trick that we come back to time and time again: this homemade Ranch Dip Recipe! In just 5 minutes you have a stellar dip that’s irresistibly creamy, savory and fresh. No ranch seasoning packet needed: this dip uses all seasonings you probably already have on hand in your pantry. It’s the perfect party dip to throw together at moment’s notice, or a healthy snack for kids. Even eat it as an easy side at dinnertime! Let’s get mixing.

Ingredients in this ranch dip recipe

This ranch dip recipe is quick and easy: and you won’t believe the fresh flavor! Thanks to the magic of Greek yogurt, this ranch dip is a bit lighter and fresher than those that use sour cream. It’s got ⅓ of the calories, but you’d never know it here! Combined with a little mayonnaise, it’s just as full flavored as any you’ve had. Here’s what you’ll need (see the recipe below for quantities):

  • Greek yogurt, 2% or whole milk
  • Mayonnaise: using this in combination with the yogurt adds a hint of richness
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried dill
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh chives (optional)

The fresh chives add a great nuance to the flavor, but if you don’t have them on hand you can omit them. We grow them in our garden every summer, but in the winter fresh herbs can be expensive at the grocery. Mix everything together in a bowl, and it’s done! Simple as that.

Ranch dip recipe

Ideas for dipping

What can’t you dip in ranch dip? While you might not need ideas, we’ve got a few standard and more creative ideas for making a ranch dip platter. Here are some for what to dip in ranch dip:

  • Carrot sticks or rainbow carrots
  • Celery sticks
  • Broccoli
  • Bell pepper strips
  • Cucumber slices
  • Kohlrabi sticks or jicama sticks
  • Potato chips
  • Pretzels
Homemade ranch dip

Other uses for ranch dip

Of course, you can also use this ranch dip in the same way you’d use a ranch dressing. (Or, head over to our Ranch Dressing recipe if that’s what you’re after!) Here are a few fun ways to use it:

More party dips

This ranch dip is the ideal dip for chips! Here are a few more party dips and fun ideas for easy snacks:

This recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Ranch Dip

Ranch Dip


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2 ¼ cups

Description

This homemade ranch dip recipe will amaze you! It takes just 5 minutes and tastes irresistibly creamy and fresh.


Ingredients

  • 2 cups (18 ounces) 2% or whole milk Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (optional but recommended)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 1 week.
  • Category: Dip
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Dip
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Ranch dip, ranch dip recipe

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Quick Tortilla Pizza

The tortilla pizza is a genius quick meal! It forms the crust of this crispy pie, ideal for an easy…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

The tortilla pizza is a genius quick meal! It forms the crust of this crispy pie, ideal for an easy dinner or appetizer.

Tortilla Pizza

Need food…fast? There’s nothing better than a cheater pizza to the rescue, and this one is loads faster than delivery pizza. Try the mighty crispy Tortilla Pizza! This genius concept uses a tortilla to make the crust of the pizza pie, making for a delightful crunch for each bite. We love naan pizza and pita pizza, so it was time for testing it with a tortilla…which we like even better! Here’s how to make the best crispy tortilla pizza: ideal for weeknight dinners, kid foods or even a quick appetizer.

Methods for tortilla pizza

The most important thing when you use a tortilla as the crust for a pizza? Getting the tortilla very crispy. No one wants a wimpy pizza. There are three different methods for tortilla pizza, each of which have pros and cons. Here’s what to know:

  • Pizza stone (crispiest): The best method for a tortilla pizza is a pizza stone. While it’s special equipment, the pizza comes out the crispiest. (Here’s the pizza stone we have). You can cook about 2 to 3 tortilla pizzas at once on a stone, depending on your stone and the size of the tortillas.
  • Cast iron skillet (single serve): Don’t have a pizza stone? Make a tortilla pizza in a cast iron skillet. This method comes out very crispy. The only downside? You can only make one at a time.
  • Oven grates (multi-serving): Tortilla pizza comes out great cooked right on the oven racks! This version doesn’t come out quite as crispy, but it still tastes great. You can cook several pizzas at once, which is great for serving a family. Make sure to place a baking sheet in the oven to catch drips with this method.
Tortilla Pizza

Another key: a great pizza sauce

Picked your method? The only other trick you’ll need to make a killer tortilla pizza? Our 5 minute Homemade Pizza Sauce. Here’s the thing: storebought pizza sauce is fine in a pinch. But this homemade sauce will blow your mind with the fresh, garlicky robust flavor. It takes every pizza up a notch. And it only takes 5 minutes to make, so why skimp?

  • This pizza sauce takes 5 minutes in a blender. All you need are canned tomatoes, garlic, oregano, salt and olive oil. In fact, we have the recipe memorized. Take one bite from the blender, and it’s life changing.
  • It capitalizes on the magic of fire roasted tomatoes. Fire roasted tomatoes are key for the flavor here! They’re tomatoes that have been roasted on an open flame, making them taste sweet right out of the can. Try them once, and you’ll never go back.
Tortilla Pizza

Tortilla pizza topping ideas

When it comes to tortilla pizza, our favorite flavor is margherita: a great pizza sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil. But you can customize this any way you like! The only thing to keep in mind? Chop the toppings very small, and don’t overload the pizza. Because a tortilla is not as strong as a standard crust, you’ll need small and light toppings. Here are some flavor combination ideas (scale down the quantities for personal-sized pizza):

Gluten free options

What’s a good gluten free option for tortilla pizza? We don’t recommend using corn tortillas because of their strong flavor. But there are lots of grain free tortillas on the market that could work! Use your favorite brand: the thicker the better. The brand Siete has various options like almond flour tortillas or cassava flour tortillas. We have not tested gluten-free tortilla pizza, so let us know in the comments below if you have good options.

Tortilla Pizza

More pizza recipes

There are so many fun ways to make a pizza! Here are a few more alterative pizza ideas to add to your arsenal:

This tortilla pizza recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, see the notes above.

Print
Tortilla Pizza

Quick Tortilla Pizza


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 pizzas
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

The tortilla pizza is a genius quick meal! It forms the crust of this crispy pie, ideal for an easy dinner or appetizer.


Ingredients

  • 8-inch flour tortillas* (the thicker the better)
  • ¾ cup Homemade Pizza Sauce (required!)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Grated or shredded Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
  • Fresh basil, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with a pizza stone if you have one (or a cast iron skillet, if using).
  2. Make the Homemade Pizza Sauce.
  3. Brush both sides of each tortilla lightly with olive oil. Top each tortilla with 3 tablespoons pizza sauce and ¼ cup shredded mozzarella. Add a sprinkle of grated Parmesan and a small pinch of salt. Add additional bite-size chopped toppings if desired (but not the basil).
  4. Cook using one of the following methods:
    1. Pizza stone or cast iron pan (crispiest): Place as many pizzas as fit directly onto the preheated pizza stone, or place one pizza into the preheated cast iron pan. Bake 4 to 5 minutes until crispy and the cheese is melted.
    2. Oven rack: Place the pizzas directly onto the oven racks, placing a baking sheet underneath to catch any drips. Bake 5 to 6 minutes until crispy and the cheese is melted.
  5. Top with fresh basil, if using. Slice into pieces and serve.

Notes

*For gluten-free, use your favorite brand of grain free tortilla: as thick as possible. We don’t recommend using corn tortillas because of their strong flavor.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Pizza

Keywords: Tortilla pizza

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

This Baby-Friendly Humidifier Fixed My Dry Skin

I am a winter baby, native New Yorker, and lover of deep, bountiful snow. My skin and sinuses, however, can’t stand super cold temperatures or my building’s dry radiator heat. That means, when the degrees start to plummet, my sensitive skin gets incred…

I am a winter baby, native New Yorker, and lover of deep, bountiful snow. My skin and sinuses, however, can’t stand super cold temperatures or my building’s dry radiator heat. That means, when the degrees start to plummet, my sensitive skin gets incredibly dry—even flaky—and the thickest, most luxurious (read: expensive) moisturizers only burn and further irritate my parched face. This, of course, is further exacerbated by the radiator's uncontrollable heat that dries out my nose, making it difficult to breathe and sleep easily. But still, that beautiful snow...

After visiting my dermatologist and allergist two months ago, they both made the same suggestion: get a humidifier. They said it would add moisture to the air in my bedroom to combat the winter elements outside and the dry heat inside, bringing relief to my skin and sinuses. They also recommended I drink more water, which, fair. After reading a ton of reviews on dozens of different products, I settled on the Frida Baby 3-in-1 Humidifier Diffuser Nightlight.

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