The Best Pizza Recipes—and a Few “Cheesy” Finds

If there’s one thing we consume a lot of in my house, it’s pizza! My kids are the pickiest eaters ever, and it’s one of the few self-contained meals we can actually all enjoy together as a family. And, you know, it’s got the essentials: protein, carbs, and, um, vegetables (tomato sauce counts, right?).

The husband and I enjoy all sorts of toppings on our pizza: salad, spinach, pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, and broccoli. Of course, my littles like it plain and simple. But, hey, they’re eating, so no complaints here!

Tomorrow is National Pizza Day, and you better believe we’re going to have our own little pizza-feast party! We usually order in from our favorite local place, but I’m going to shake things up tomorrow and we’re going to make our own! In fact, we might bake up a few- pies: cheese for the kiddies and maybe something more exciting for the grownups. (You can never have too much pizza.)

I’ve rounded up a few incredible pizza recipes to make and eat tomorrow… or, you know, every day.

Traditional New York Style Pizza via Baker by Nature

Spinach-Artichoke Pesto Pizza via Two Peas & Their Pod

BBQ Chicken Flatbread Pizza via Le Crème de La Crumb

Butternut Squash Pizza With Kale and Goat Cheese via The Balanced Berry

Taco Pizza via Life in the Lofthouse

Pepperoni Skillet Pizza via Tina’s Chic Corner

Pizza Dip via Keto Connect

Rainbow Veggie Pizza via Livingly

Oh, and in case you really love pizza (like me!), I’ve also curated a few MORE ways you can celebrate National Pizza Day… So you can have your pie, and wear it (or decorate with it… or sled with it…) too! Enjoy.

  1. Bow & Drape “In Pizza We Crust,” $65/ 2. Levtex Pizza Heart Pillow, $40/ 3. Ankit Pizza Is Bae Mug, $12/ 4. Big Mouth, Inc. Giant Pizza Snow Tube, $25/ 5. J. Crew Girls’ Glitter Pizza Slice Bag, $50/ 6. Sockart Pizza Socks, $9/ 7. Round Towel Co. Pizza Beach Towel, $55

This is not a sponsored post. It may contain affilliate links. All opinions are our own.

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Soup Is On: Best Soup Recipes for Cold Winter Nights

Do you think the groundhog will see his shadow today—or is spring coming sooner than expected? Well, regardless of what Punxsutawney Phil does or does not see today, the fact is: we still have a month and a half left of the woe-some winter. Cold, windy, snowy, brutal, and blustery conditions are inevitable. Brrr. (UPDATE: It’s official. He saw it! So don’t put away those mittens and pom-pom hats just yet!)

Luckily for those of us who like an excuse to celebrate, Groundhog’s Day is not the only holiday on the calendar this week. (No, we’re not talking about the Super Bowl… Although, all of the recipes below are most definitely SB-worthy!). Saturday, Feb. 4, just so happens to be National Soup Day. And I fully plan on taking advantage with a steaming hot bowl of soul-warming deliciousness.

I love the versatility of soup. It’s a great and easy lunch served with a salad or a hearty dinner when served with a hunk-a-chunk of Italian bread. I love me a grilled cheese, but I prefer my soup to be a self-contained meal with protein, veggies, carbs, and all sorts of salty, spicy goodness cooked inside. Every spoonful should be a delightful surprise!

I plan on slurping up a lot of soup throughout February and March, and so I’ve rounded up a few new recipes that are flavorful and fulfilling. Soup is on—get it while it’s hot… and cold outside!

Beefy Nacho Soup via The Recipe Critic

Creamy Tuscan Tortellini Soup via The Best Blog Recipes

Vegetarian Cabbage Soup via Chef DeHome

Chipotle Potato Soup With Cheddar via Platings and Pairings

Lasagna Soup via Flavor Mosaic

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup via From Valerie’s Kitchen

Chicken Fajita Rice Soup via Carl’s Bad Cravings

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are our own.

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The Ultimate Slice of Chocolate Cake

Sometimes Mama needs coffee. Sometimes she requires wine. Other times, she turns to tea. Then there are those days when Mama absolutely, positively must get her hands on (and fork into!) a slice of rich, decadent, and mouthwatering chocolate cake.

Oh, yes. This week has been a doozy. But, hallelujah, it’s Thursday—which means tomorrow is Fri-Yay! We’re counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds, and, in the meantime, we’re calming our relentless nerves and quenching our intense craving with some ooey-gooey, sweet, moist, and immensely indulgent cake. Because, we survived the work week… just about! Also, tomorrow just so happens to be National Chocolate Cake Day. (We’ll save some. Maybe.)

I’ve got my handy-dandy KitchenAid stand mixer at the ready, but have to admit that I’ll be using a package of cake mix to make my chocolate deliciousness. (This mama needs a quick fix!) But if you have the time, energy, skill, and, of course, sweet tooth, may we recommend one of these ridiculously awesome recipes. Enhanced with ingredients like red wine, champagne, caramel, peanut butter, mint, and more, these seven sinfully good desserts really do take the cake.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake via Smitten Kitchen: Red wine + chocolate = heaven on a plate. This is everything a hungry, exhausted, and indecisive mama could ever want right here!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake via Sugar and Soul: Fess up, you eat cookie dough… raw! Satisfy your hankering for cookies and cake with this mega mash-up cake!

Chocolate Champagne Layer Cake: Celebrate the fact that the kids are actually sleeping with some bubbly inside your chocolate cake.

German Chocolate Sheet Cake via Chef in Training: The messier, the better, and this coconut-y sheet cake is as sticky, sloppy, and satisfying as they come.

Thin Mint Poke Cake via Life in the Lofthouse: If thin mints are your weakness, this Girl Scout-inspired chocolate cake will be your ultimate jam.

Hot Chocolate Dump Cake via Tablespoon: Winter means cuddling up with a warm cup of hot cocoa. Have your hot chocolate and eat it too with this two-in-one dump cake!

Salted Carmel Chocolate Cake via Baker By Nature: No need to choose between sweet and salty with this cake. It’ll tease, taunt, and totally please your taste buds.

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are our own.

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The Ultimate Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Peanut butter. Love it or hate it (and I find that people usually fall into one boat or the other!), you can’t deny that it’s a convenient option. Creamy, crunchy, or whipped, it’s got texture, flavor, and, best of all, protein! Paired with its BFF jelly or its other pal, chocolate, it makes for a hearty and relatively healthy mid-day meal or nosh.

Today is National Peanut Butter Day and we’re celebrating the ultimate snack food with a few updates on the traditional PB&J sandie. Upgrade your lunchbox game with these fun, creative, and yummy ideas. (And get the latest pediatrician-recommended guidelines for introducing your child to peanuts and peanut products, HERE.)

Shape It or Cut It
A cookie cutter instantly transforms a plain ole sandwich into a work of edible art. It’s amazing how a heart-shaped PB&J can actually taste better.

Grill It via Cooking Classy
A standard PB&J is fine and all, but pressed in a Panini maker, it’s next-level delicious. Ooey-gooey, warm, and toasty it’s crispy on the outside and melted perfection on the inside.

Swap Out Your Bread for Toaster Waffles via Ready Set Eat
Instead of white or wheat bread, try smearing your peanut butter and jelly on two toaster-oven waffles. It’ll have the crunch and subtle sweetness you crave.

Whip Up Peanut Butter & Jelly Pancakes via The Baker Mama
Who needs syrup when you have a thin layer of peanut butter and a little bit of jelly sandwiched between two fluffy round pancakes.

Make Peanut Butter Quesadillas via Texanerin Baking
Layer a bit of peanut butter and sliced bananas between two tortillas and grill! Serve with some jam dipping sauce!

Treat Yourself to PB&J French Toast via PopSugar
Not sure we can consider this one a meal. This recipe is as decadent as a dessert can get. Sprinkled with powdered sugar, it’s sweet, savory, and soooo very good.

Roll It Up via Foodie Fun Net
Shape you mini sandwiches like sushi rolls and serve with chopsticks, and enjoy!

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are our own.

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Popcorn: 5 Ways to Spice It Up

Plain or buttery. Kettlecorn or extra salt. There isn’t a bad way to enjoy popcorn! But the same old method can get, well, old! In honor of National Popcorn Day today, we’re sharing five simple ways to spice up your popcorn routine. Let’s get popping!

Popcorn is a mom’s best friend. Having it on hand makes a quick after-school snack, makes an easy treat for that play date, and makes that Friday night movie a little more special.

While microwave popcorn is a quick option, we love an air popper like this one. It pops 30% faster than the microwave with virtually no unpopped kernels. Plus since it doesn’t use any oil, you can make your toppings as healthy (or unhealthy—ha!) as you want. Here are five must-try toppings, recipes and photo sources, below:

Brown Butter and Parm – Browning the butter gives it a nutty nuance while grated parm on the popcorn makes everything better. Simple, delicious, sophisticated.

Pseudo-Caramel and Almond – Popcorn gets covered with a caramel-y sauce made from blending together coconut oil, dates, vanilla, and almonds. Sounds strange—tastes delicious. And waaaaay healthier.

Spicy Cilantro Lime – Who says popcorn has to be sweet or salty? Satisfy your savory tooth with this spicy blend of cayenne pepper, garlic, cumin, cilantro and lime. This one is begging to be paired with a margarita!

Tastes-Like-Cheese (but it’s not) – Stay with me here….have you heard of nutritional yeast? I know, I know…it sounds kind of scary. But it’s a dairy-free way to give your popcorn a cheese-like flavor! Plus, it’s nutritious (hence the name). The flakes are high in B vitamins, nucleotides (the building blocks of DNA and RNA) that promote cellular repair and regeneration, and they contain no gluten, no dairy, and no MSG. Try some nutritional yeast here.

Buffalo Ranch – Superbowl is coming….just saying. This Buffalo Ranch popcorn might be just the thing to make in bulk and add to your appetizer buffet.

What’s YOUR favorite popcorn flavor?

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Holiday Hot Cocoa Variations

Between the cold weather, holiday music on repeat, and all the lights and decorations, I swear that every morning feels like a morning worthy of hot cocoa with the kids! Today, in celebration of National Hot Cocoa Day, we’re sharing some of our favorite hot cocoa recipes – a basic (but oh-so-decadent) recipe from our upcoming Family Ski Guide plus four other variations to mix it up a bit. (And a bonus hot cocoa topper at the end that is sure to excited the kids!)

First, let’s start off with a pretty basic hot cocoa recipe if you’re not feeling too adventurous. The talented Catherine from our sister site, The Shopping Mama, came up with this hot chocolate recipe that is decadent, delicious and made with dark chocolate – my fav!

European-Style Hot Cocoa

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1.5 cups heavy cream
  • 1 large dark chocolate Hershey’s bar (4.25 oz)
  • vanilla – 1 tsp
  • spices as desired: nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne etc
  • salt – dash
1. Chop your Hershey’s bar into small shavings.
2. In a saucepan over medium-low, heat your milk and chocolate pieces. *Do not boil*
3. Whisk your heavy cream (or use a stand mixer) until thickened slightly.
4. Add in your vanilla, salt and spices to your chocolate mixture.
5. Whisk the thickened cream into your chocolate mixture. (Leaving a little for topping) Heat through *Do not boil*
6. Ladle into mugs and enjoy!
Ready to mix it up a bit? Try these hot cocoa variations for a little something different!

Add Some Spice: Mexican-Style Hot Chocolate

Looking for a little extra spice? I love the added heat and spice that Mexican hot cocoa has. This recipe relies on chopped up Mexican chocolate and a cinnamon stick for added spice.

Make It Minty: Peppermint Hot Chocolate

‘Tis the season for mini candy canes! Put those red and white treats to good use in this festive peppermint hot chocolate that uses peppermint extract and candy canes to make it minty.

Chilled-Out Hot Cocoa: Cookies & Cream Frozen Hot Chocolate

Who said hot chocolate had to actually be hot? This frozen hot cocoa from A Beautiful Mess is pretty much a milkshake but doesn’t require that you have ice cream on hand. It does require a cookies and cream chocolate bar though you might be able to get creative with a regular chocolate bar and some Oreos too. A fun way to shake up traditional hot chocolate.

Adult-Only: Aztec Slugger

This variation is only for the over 21 crowd. Hot chocolate. Coffee. Bourbon. Oh my! Just opt for decaf in this Aztec Slugger if you’re having this after 4pm. And take the advice of some of the reviewers and cut the booze in half. You want this adult hot cocoa to warm you up – not knock you out.

BONUS Best Topping Ever: Marshmallow Whipped Cream

Do you ever have the debate with your kids (or yourself) – do I top my hot chocolate with whipped cream or marshmallows? Now, you don’t have to choose. This decadent hot cocoa topper combines homemade whipped cream WITH mini marshmallows folded in. It’s practically a present in a cup.

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Our Favorite Make-Ahead Party Appetizers

Holiday party season is here – whether you are hosting just a few or a large shindig, the last thing you want to do is to be sweating and stressing in the kitchen over your appetizers. So we’ve rounded up some of our favorite, make-ahead apps that are delicious and won’t have you stressing when your doorbell rings.

After too many parties where I was frantically trying to finish plating individual butternut squash and cranberry brushcetta toasts for a crowd (really, what was I thinking?) or cooking up the filling to this endive stuffed with warm pears and blue cheese, I’ve decided stress is not a good party look for me. So I’ve been compiling a collection of party appetizers beyond the traditional dips and cheese platters that I can prep ahead of time and take no or minimal work in the kitchen minutes before guests arrive. Here are a few of my favs –  but I’m always looking for more! Share your favorite make-ahead apps in the comments below.

Crispy Brussel Sprouts with Garlic Aioli – this is my new favorite app of the season. I can’t say that I’m a Brussel sprout lover, but I could eat an entire bowl of these. Granted, it’s probably the yummy garlic-y aioli sauce. The sprouts are easy to cut into quarters and roast in advance – this recipe is best room temp. I’ve also added some halved baby potatoes which are also quite tasty in the aioli too. (Photo: Costa Kitchen)

Prosciutto-Wrapped Melon – this is a classic and delicious flavor pairing that is easy for the kids to help with (melon ballers make it fun!). Wrap honeydew or cantaloupe melon with a strip of prosciutto. Secure with a toothpick and pop in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. (Photo: Bellalimento)

Spicy Shrimp Tapas – while you do have to cook the shrimp, this appetizer comes together pretty quickly if you buy pre-cut mango and assemble ahead of time. (Photo: EatWell)

Holiday Bourbon Whiskey Meatballs – If you have the kind of crowd that is going to boo a veggie tray, you might want to consider these oh-so-tasty meatballs. I made them once and they were d-e-v-o-u-r-e-d. You use pre-made meatballs and put together a decadent sauce with just a few ingredients. Pop them in a crockpot and you have a delicious, hands-off, hot appetizer for your guests. (photo: MyHomemdelife)

Caprese Stacks – if you can still find tasty cherry tomatoes, this app comes together in a few minutes. Buy mozzarella balls and either wrap with a basil leaf as show in the picture or just add it to the toothpick. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar right before serving.

What are your favorite make-ahead appetizers?

And if you need help with your holiday shopping, check out our all inclusive gift guide!

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4 Delicious Ways to Use Fresh Cranberries

Thanksgiving may be over, but fresh cranberries are still in season. Relatively inexpensive, these ruby gems are a delicious and festive addition to the holiday season. Plus, they are healthy too – cranberries are low in calories and low on the glycemic index, loaded with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, help support a healthy immune system, and are a good source of vitamin C, manganese, and fiber. Here are four delicious ways to use cranberries all holiday long.

Fresh Cranberries

Look for fresh cranberries in your grocery store’s chilled produce section. Fresh cranberries can be stored in a tightly-sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two months!

Fresh CranberriesBaked Brie with Balsamic Rosemary Cranberry Sauce –  I recently found this appetizer on Sarcastic Cooking and pinned it for an upcoming holiday party. I tried it out last night at a belated family Thanksgiving and it was devoured before I could snap a picture of my own! It’s simple, delicious and oh-so-pretty for a party. The final results looks like a cheesy present just begging to be bitten into.

fresh cranberries

Merry Cranberry MargaritaI know margaritas might make you think of warm summer days by the pool, but this winter version with fresh cranberries will make you want to bring your margaritas with you right into the holidays. This simple cocktail relies on blended fresh cranberries as well as cranberry juice and looks extra festive when the glass is garnished with some sugared cranberries on a toothpick across the rim.

Fresh Cranberries

Cranberry Harvest MuffinsThese cranberry muffins have all the flavors of the season – cinnamon and ginger, cranberries and toasted nuts. Skip the sifting to make this recipe even quicker and swap out any additions your kids won’t eat. A tasty treat for lunch boxes, an after school snack, or for unexpected overnight visitors.

Fresh Cranberries

Homemade Cranberry-and-Orange VodkaLooking for an easy and delicious homemade gift to give this season? With less than an hour and a few pretty bottles, you can create these containers of homemade cranberry-orange vodka to give to family and friends. Wrap them up with the cute printable hangtags found in our 2016 Holiday Gift Guide and consider adding an accompanying recipe for a festive cocktail.

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MOMS HOLIDAY PREP

MOMS HOLIDAY PREP

Most of us tend to forget the spirit of the season because we get lost in the hustle and the bustle that is inevitable this time of year. The Holidays are all about spending time with family and friends so make sure to keep that in mind when planning for the season ahead. I’ve got some tips to make entertaining easier.

My focus is always on three areas of the house: the kitchen, the pantry and the dining room. Keeping your pantry, kitchen and fridge stocked with the essentials is key.

MOMS HOLIDAY PREP

One of my favorite entertaining essentials is stocking a bar cart like this Threshold Metal & Stone Bar Cart and matching Barware Tool Set with festive beverages and mixers. That way, your guests can have fun mixing their own cocktails and you’re not stuck behind the bar all night.

Pre-Mix one custom cocktail and set out wine, beer, sodas and a big bucket of ice and it’s totally self-serve. Another time saver? Pre-washed and pre-cut Archer Farms Veggies ready to go as soon as you open the bag. Need to freshen up your snack rotation? Try Archer Farms holiday trail and snack mixes that are available for just a couple of weeks during the holiday season, so grab them while you can!

Cranberry Rice Pilaf Recipe

Another tip? Don’t sweat the menu. Sure you want some wow-factor (like a great turkey stuffed with sage and basted with Madeira), but you need some easy go-to recipes. Success® Rice takes just 10 minute to make and can be a key ingredient in some tasty recipes. like this  Cranberry Pecan Brown Rice Stuffing. It’s tasty, elegant and effortless. It’s a great classic recipe with a modern twist that will wow your guests. And there’s a variety of products available including White, Whole Grain Brown, Jasmine and Basmati. Everyone in the family will love it. Success is in the Bag.®

Cranberry Pecan Brown Rice Stuffing

2 bags Success® Brown Rice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp dried orange peel
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp margarine
1/2 cup celery, finely sliced
2 Tbsps shallots, finely chopped (may substitute onion)
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare rice according to package directions. In a medium microwave safe bowl, mix cranberries and orange peel with chicken stock and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Set aside. Heat a large sauce pan over HIGH heat and add margarine. Stir in celery, shallot and poultry seasoning and sauté 3 minutes. Stir in cranberry mixture, pecans, parsley and rice and cook over medium heat for 3 more minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

To toast pecans: Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Place pecans on a small cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn pecans. Cool.

For more recipes head to https://www.successrice.com/en-us/recipes/search/default.aspx

Hope these tips help to make your season more fun and let you actually enjoy hostess duty this year.

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Yummy Recipes with Spiced Apple Cider

As the weather gets cool and crisp, the cold weather drinks in our house ramp up – mugs of hot chocolate, spiced apple cider, and tea start to appear to warm up hands and bellies. While I often make tea and hot chocolate in single servings, our apple cider usually comes from Trader Joe’s. In a bottle. That my kids always beg for and NEVER FINISH. It seems like for the entire winter, I have a half used bottle of apple cider always in my (now clean) fridge! So I’ve been on a mission to find creative ways to use up the rest of that apple cider.

Recipes with Spiced Apple Cider

Whether you have leftover spiced cider like I do in my house or just are looking for a few new ways to use this spiced beverage throughout the winter months, here are few delicious ideas.

For Dinner

apple-cider-glazed-pork-1

Apple cider and pork are an perfect pairing that come together nicely in this easy Cider Glazed Pork entrée (pictured). If you can plan ahead, make this Cider-Brined Pork Tenderloins with Roasted Apples instead that marinates overnight. Or put your crock pot to work with this Apple Cider Slow Cooker Pulled Pork that I’m trying tonight! Not into pork? Pair spiced apple cider with turkey instead for this Apple Cider Glazed Turkey Breast.

For Breakfast

apple-cider-pancakes-with-caramel-apple-syrup-recipe-taste-and-tell-03-opt

Truth be told, I’ve been a little over my go-to pancake recipe. So this Saturday, I’m spicing up our routine (literally!) with these Apple Cider Pancakes with Caramel Apple Syrup from Taste and Tell. Both the pancakes and the homemade caramel syrup get a dose of apple cider. I also would not be mad if you invited me over for a cup of tea and one of these Spiced Apple Cider Muffins. Just think of how good your kitchen would smell!

With Veggies

apple-cider-braised-greens-lgn

While you might not think of apple cider pairing with vegetables, its appley spice can offer a nice complement to many fall side dishes like these Apple Cider Braised Greens or Roasted Acorn Squash with Cider Vinaigrette – both great options for the Thanksgiving holiday too!

For Dessert

apple-cider-bubble-up-cake-pin-1

I really had to restrain myself here. As you can image there are way too many delicious ways to use spiced apple cider in desserts! I might start with this Apple Cider Bubble-Up Bake – with no pie crust to make, this apple-y dessert is easy to throw together for a crowd. Or this Apple Cider Cream Pie with an oatmeal cookie crust. But I’m also tempted by these Apple Cider Cupcakes and Brown Sugar Cinnamon Buttercream. Don’t make me choose!

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that I won’t have to worry about having leftover apple cider any more. 😉

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