Valentine Heart Cookies with Splenda #Moms4JNJConsumer

This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them.

Valentine Heart Cookies

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and we’ll be spending the day at home.  That’s not as bad as it sounds.  You see, we have a brand new baby at our home and that is reason enough to stay in and skip the crowded restaurants but we’re also in the middle of a snowstorm.  Up north this snowstorm wouldn’t be worth mentioning but here in this part of North Carolina, this is an epic storm.  The roads are icy, neighbors who’ve never spoken are out playing in the snow and getting to know one another, and kids are sledding and building snowmen.  Check out the one my daughter and husband built. {By the way, pictures of our new member of the family are coming soon!…and I don’t mean the snowman.}

Georgia Snowman

Since we’re going to be cooped up in the house for Valentine’s Day I think I’m going to make my husband something sweet to celebrate.  Maybe I’ll bake cinnamon rolls, a pie, or my husband’s favorite, cookies.  I made the Valentine Heart Cookies {pictured above} for him before and he really liked those.

No matter what treat I make I know two things, 1.) my daughter will “help” me bake them, 2.) I’ll substitute sugar in the recipe for Splenda.  My daughter always enjoys baking and helping mom and dad cook and this is an opportunity to help give Daddy a gift of her own.  I’ve substituted Splenda in recipes in the past and could never tell a difference but overtime I got out of the habit.  Now that I’m ready to shed a little post-baby weight I’m choosing to take small steps here and there to help live healthier.

If you’ve never used Splenda before it’s simple.  1 cup of Splenda is equal to 1 cup of sugar.  Anywhere you use sugar in cooking or baking you can use Splenda.  If you plan on baking a heartwarming treat for someone you love this Valentine’s Day try substituting Splenda for a sweet treat without all the added calories.

Use cookie cutters on baked cookies

To make the cookies pictured at the top of this post I used my favorite strawberry white chocolate cookie recipe and baked them as directed.  Then I look a heart shaped cookie cutter to make them look extra sweet.  I had no problem eating the scraps but the heart cookie makes a much nicer looking gift.

Raspberry Heart Cookies

Learn how to make delicious Raspberry Heart Cookies (made with Spelnda No Calorie Sweetener) that taste as good as they look by visiting

Get a printable coupon for $1 off any SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener product at  To sweeten the savings, you could get a free 30 minute nutrition consultation with a Registered Dietitian when you buy $10 of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products between now and February 17, 2014 – up to $75 value!  More details on this special offer at

How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day this year?

Cheesy Bacon Breadsticks Recipe #BaconLove

Disclosure: This is a post written in partnership with Bi-Lo but all opinions remain my own.

Everybody Loves Bacon

Can I see a raise of hands for those who love bacon?  That’s right, most of you do…and for good reason, it’s ridiculously yummy!  Recently, Bi-Lo asked me to come up with my own recipe using bacon for their “Everybody Loves Bacon Event.”  I spent days and days thinking of a recipe that could be improved upon by the addition of bacon and I came to the conclusion, “What recipe couldn’t?”  {See my bacon chocolate chip cookie recipe}  After much deliberation and searching Pinterest to make sure my recipe wasn’t taken I decided on Cheesy Bacon Breadsticks!

Breadsticks are one my favorite foods to indulge in.  No, they’re not healthy and they don’t claim to be.  They’re just warm, cheesy sticks of goodness.

Cheesy Bacon Breadsticks

Don’t they make your mouth water?  Mmm, they sure do mine and I just finished off a small plate of these earlier tonight.  The best thing about these are is that you can use your favorite breadstick recipe and add bacon to the top.  You don’t have to learn a new recipe if you don’t want to.


cups warm water (about 115°F)
2 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ cup non-fat dry milk
1 tbsp yeast
3 cups flour
½ cup melted butter (half for the bottom of the pan and half on top of the breadsticks)
8 oz package of mozzarella cheese
Sprinkle with crumbled fried bacon, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, salt & pepper (to taste)


Dissolve yeast in the warm water and let rest for 5 minutes. Add sugar, milk, salt, and enough flour to make a thin soup-like consistency.  Once blended add the rest of the flour, enough to form a moderately stiff dough. Knead the dough until smooth {by hand or with a KitchenAid dough hook}.  Roll the dough into the size and shape of your baking pan. Spread half of the butter onto the bottom of the pan and then place the dough into the pan. Allow dough to raise in a warm place for 15 minutes then spread the remaining butter on the top of the dough. Top dough with bacon crumbles and cheese.  You can also add garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.  Bake at 350°F for 20-25 or until golden brown. Cut into breadsticks and serve with your favorite marinara sauce {I’ll have to share my favorite marinara sauce recipe with you later.  Don’t let me forget!}.


Is it just me or do these not look amazing?  And another thing, why hasn’t Papa Johns or Pizza Hut thought of these before me?  I’m quite positive I’m on to something amazing and maybe they’ll take my idea and give me free pizza for life! …on second thought, maybe that’s not such a good thing to hope for.


No matter if you use my recipe or not, you absolutely must try and make Cheesy Bacon Breadsticks.  They are so good!  Don’t forget to shop Bi-Lo for a wonderful selection of fine bacon products at an affordable price!


Do you have a favorite dish you’ve added bacon to to make it even better?

Enter Jif’s Most Creative Sandwich Contest #MC

Now through November 8th, Jif Peanut Butter is running their Most Creative Sandwich Contest and I’m entering.  I think you should too!

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Jif. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Apple Peanut Butter Sandwich Recipe

Being pregnant with morning sickness {for 5 whole months!} I learned what worked for my body.  Snacking regularly on peanut butter was one of those sanity saving tricks that helped me make it through the day.  Because I soon grew tired of plain peanut butter sandwiches I found other creative ways to eat peanut butter.  One of my absolute favorites is this apple peanut butter sandwich that I created!  I have to emphasis that I created it because it’s one of the few recipes that’s truly 100% mine. {Okay, so my mom suggested adding the nutmeg but that doesn’t really count, right?}

I’m planning on entering my simple sandwich in Jif’s Most Creative Sandwich Contest and if you have a creative sandwich recipe that uses 2 tbs. of peanut butter I encourage you to enter to!  There is a $25,000 college fund and a trip to New York City up for grabs!  Go here to enter Jif’s Most Creative Sandwich Contest and be sure to read all of the entry rules too.  The contest ends on 11/8/13 so don’t delay if you want to win!

Tropical Fantasy Sandwich

Take a look at this fun Tropical Fantasy Sandwich that made it to the finals of the contest last year.

Here are the ingredients in my Apple Peanut Butter Sandwich:

– 1 apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced {I used a Gala apple}
– 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
– 1 pinch of nutmeg
– 8 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter
– 8 slices of bread {I used wheat bread}
– 1-2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

To see the full recipe go here to where I have it posted.  If you try it please let me know how you like it!

15 Sweet Valentine’s Day Treats

15 Sweet Valentine's Day Treats



Valentine Confetti Source: Valentine Confetti from Nest of



Valentine CookiesSource: Valentine Cookies from



Heart cakeSource: Heart Cake from





 Heart CookiesSource: Heart Cookies from





Perfect Pair CookiesSource: Perfect Pair Cookies on




Pink Heart CookiesSource: Pink Heart Cookies from



Fudge HeartsSource: Creamy Fudge Hearts from



Strawberry CocoaSource: Sweetheart’s Strawberry Cocoa from The Family Kitchen.



Rainbow Heart CookiesSource: Rainbow Heart Cookies from Ali Bee’s Bake Shop.



Raspberry Cream BitesSource: Raspberry Cream Bites from



Lace CrepeSource: Lace Crepe from

Don’t forget to check out our Free Valentine’s Day Subway Art Printable too!

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe


Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Recipe makes 5 dozen cookies.



  • 6 slices bacon {thick cut works best}
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, divided
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips




  • Arrange bacon slices side by side on a baking sheet.  I recommend lining it with foil first!
  • Sprinkle 1/2 cup of brown sugar over the bacon.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until crispy, turning after 10 minutes of baking.
  • Remove crispy bacon and allow to cool.
  • Once cooled, chop finely.
  • In a small bowl sift flour and baking soda.
  • In a medium bowl {or stand mixer} cream butter and remaining sugars.
  • Mix in vanilla, egg, and egg yolk and beat until light and creamy.
  • Slowly mix in flour mixture.
  • Fold in chopped bacon and chocolate chips.
  • Spoon small balls of dough onto a baking sheet.
  • Bake at 325 degrees F for 10-15 minutes, until edges begin to brown.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool on pan for 5 minutes before moving to wire rack to completely cool.


Enjoy!  Please let me know how you like this recipe.


Don’t forget that you can print this recipe by clicking on the green “Print Friendly” button below.

Amazing Queso Dip Recipe – Perfect for Parties

Queso Recipe

This queso recipe is, as the title says, amazing!  It’s cheesy, just a little spicy, and oh so addicting.  It’s perfect for super bowl parties, movie nights if you have a big family, a Christmas gift exchange, or just about any get-together really.  This recipe was my husband’s before we were married and we’re not sure where it originated from.  If this is recipe is from your cookbook or company’s cook book please let me know and I’ll give you the credit you’re due.

Serves: 10-15+   Ingredients:

  • – One 2 pound block of Velveeta cheese
  • – 1 pound Jimmy Dean Sage sausage
  • – Cumin to taste (we just shake a little in)
  • – Garlic to taste (we do two cloves)
  • – 1 jar of medium salsa – around 15 oz. (or hot salsa if you prefer)
  • – Cayenne pepper to taste (a little goes a long way so be careful!)


  • – Brown sausage and drain grease
  • – Cut cheese into blocks (to melt faster)
  • – Combine all ingredients in crock pot and cook till it melts, stirring occasionally

I hope you’ll enjoy this amazing queso recipe as much as my family does!  As with all of my recipes, I hope you’ll try it and come back and let me know how it was.  Don’t forget that you can print this recipe via the green “print friendly” button below.  Enjoy!

This recipe is featured in the new Circle of Mom’s Cookbook.  They have a lot of fabulous tried and true recipes submitted by “real” moms.

Homemade Twinkie Recipe

Twinkies I’m sure that by now you’ve all heard the sad, sad news of Hostess officially closing their doors.  Someone will probably buy the name and recipe and continue on but until they do you can either buy them on Amazon for $75 a box or make your own.  I hope you’ll try this Homemade Twinkie Recipe that I adapted from an old recipe I found.  I think it’s pretty great and you can pronounce every single ingredient inside!   You will need to get yourself a Wilton Mini Loaf Pan or a Twinkie Shaped Pan if you don’t already have one.


Homemade Twinkies recipe

Recipe adapted from TLC, which was adapted from Hey, that tastes good!


For the cake: 

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup Canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the filling: 

  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup light cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar & a little extra


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three mini loaf pans, six cupcakes, or 6 spots in the Twinkie pan with cooking spray.
  2. Beat the eggs and sugar with a handheld mixer until thick. Slowly add in the other ingredients and beat until fully combined. Divide the batter among your pan of choice and fill it till it’s about 3/4s full.  Bake cakes for 30-60 minutes until outside is a nice golden brown.  Once pan cools transfer to a wire cooling rack.
  3. Prepare the filling by mixing the shortening, sugar, vanilla and light cream with a hand mixer.  Once combined, slowly add in sugar and beat until combined.  Add a little extra confectioner’s sugar to get the right consistency.  Fill a pastry bag (or a baggie) with frosting and cut a small hole in the end.
  4. After the cakes have completely cooled carefully poke holes in the bottom of the cakes and pipe frosting in.  The cupcakes only need one hole, however, the Twinkie loaf or mini loafs may take two or three holes to fill it properly.  Enjoy!

If you want to print this recipe just click on the green “Print Friendly” button below.   I’m pretty excited about this recipe and I like it but if you would rather try a recipe from  Hostess’ The Twinkie Cookbook, you can also buy that on Amazon.  Let me know how you like the recipe!!

Peppermint Whipped Cream Recipe

Peppermint Whipped Cream Recipe


Peppermint Whipped Cream Recipe



6 Peppermint candy canes {or any flavor you want}
16 oz. Heavy whipping cream
Hot cocoa
Handheld mixer (optional)



1.  Place your candy canes in a blender, unwrapped of course.  Blend these to a fine powder.  This should make around 1/2 cup of peppermint powder.

2.  Whip your whipping cream to desired consistency.  I prefer to use a handheld mixer for this but it’s not necessary.  No need to add any sugar as you normally would because the peppermint powder will make it sweet enough.

3.  Fold in the peppermint powder to the whipped cream.  This will make pretty pink whipped cream with tiny peppermint pieces.  Yum!  I like the tiny pieces but if you don’t you can set your mixture in the fridge for a few hours to allow the peppermint pieces to dissolve.

4.  This is completely optional but I like to sprinkle a little chocolate powder on top just for kicks.


That’s it!  This is yummy and is perfect for Christmas get-togethers!  If you try it please come back and let me know how you liked it.

Free eBook – Healthy Dinner Recipes (Amazon offer)

Healthy Dinner Recipes eBoook

Right now you can get the Healthy Dinner Recipes ebook for free on Amazon.  Hurry because on October 3, 2012 this book will go back to it’s original price of $3.99.


Thanks, reader Sarah for the heads up!

Just-like-Starbucks’ Frappuccino

Just like Starbucks' Frappuccino


I’m a huge Starbucks’ frappuccino fan!  I love them but because of their cost I’m not a frequent Starbucks’ customer.  Plus, have you noticed how many calories one of these bad boys can have?  Upwards of 500 calories!  I would have to run about 5 miles to burn that off and if you know me, you know that isn’t going to happen in this lifetime. {I’m all about exercise but 5 miles and me just don’t mix!}


Still having a love for this summery drink of goodness I decided to play around and see if I could create my own just-like-Starbucks’ frappuccino at home.  I think it’s pretty close and well worth the little extra effort to make.  It only takes 5 minutes to prep and 2 minutes of work.  7 minutes is shorter than the 15 minute drive to the Starbucks’ drive-thru.


This recipe can easily be printed too!  Simply click on the green “Print Friendly” button below this post to have a hard copy of this yummy recipe.


Just-like-Starbucks’ Frappuccino
2 min | 5 min prep

Serves 1



  • 2 cups of crushed iced
  • 2-1 ounce shots of espresso OR use 3/4 cup of strong coffee mixed with 1/2 cup of milk and increased crushed iced amount by 1/4 cup.
  • 3/4 cup of your favorite milk
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar {Use more or less to suite your tastes}
  • Whipped cream from a can or freshly made whipped cream
  • Chocolate syrup {Use your favorite syrup or flavored powder}



  1. Blend all the ingredients except the whipped cream and chocolate syrup in a blender for 30-45 seconds.  Pour into a tall glass and top off with whipped cream and garnish with your favorite topping {chocolate syrup, cinnamon, caramel, etc.).  Serve with a straw and enjoy!
Other Variations: Splenda can be used in place of sugar.  A portion of the milk can be replaced with any flavored coffee syrups or creamers.  For a richer beverage, try replacing a portion of the milk with half and half of heavy whipping cream.


There are endless variations of this basic frappuccino recipe and I hope you enjoy experimenting with yours as much as I do with mine.  Enjoy!


Disclaimer: This is not Starbuck’s actual proprietary recipe. This is my own personal copycat version of their frappuccino recipe. This recipe is for a blended iced frappuccino drink similar to but not exactly the same as you’ll find at Starbucks.