Heart Apple Pies

Mini Apple Pies

It has become quite the tradition in our home that my daughter and I make something special for Valentine’s Day to pass out to her friends. My older son was never really into it, and also opted to hand out a piece of candy and store-bought card. My daughter however is 100% me. She absolutely loves to bake and loves to give gifts even more.

heart apple pies

This year we had to get a bit creative as there is a little boy in her class that is extremely allergic to eggs. After a few failed attempts at cookies, we opted for these mini apple pies.

apple pie filling mini pies

I am so glad they worked out because they are adorable. Delicately filled with fresh apple pie filling, glazed with an almond glaze, and adorned with cute heart sprinkles, they will be the perfect little valentine. Although the base recipe is eggless, we did baste all pies but one with eggs and set his aside. That way, he doesn’t feel excluded when she passes them out.


February is American Heart Month and we have partnered with USApple Association to spread the word. We will be celebrating by eating an apple a day for the #28daysofapples. Unless of course you are Baby Ben in which you will be eating like 10 apples a day. Seriously this kid can survive on just fruit alone.

mini heart pies

So tell me, what will you be making this Valentine’s day?

Heart Apple Pies

Yield: Made 18 hearts


  • 2 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup butter, cold and cut into 16 slices
  • 2/3 cup ice water
  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and diced into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple juice or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice or water.
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
  • 1 and 1/2 cups powered sugar
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
  • Sprinkles for garnish


  1. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl or your food processor.
  2. Add butter slices and either cut into flour or pulse until it forms small pea like clumps.
  3. Add ice water and mix until dough forms a large ball (do not over mix). This is best done manually that way the dough is not overworked and will be flaky after baking.
  4. Separate dough into two balls and gently flatten. Wrap disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  5. While your dough is chilling, make the filling.
  6. On medium heat, melt your butter.
  7. Add apples and sauté for about 3 minutes while stirring.
  8. Pour in sugar, apple juice and cinnamon and allow to simmer until apples are soft on medium low heat, about 10 minutes.
  9. Combine 2 tablespoons apple juice or water with corn starch to for a paste.
  10. Add paste to apple mixture and stir until thick.
  11. Once the filling is nice and thick, remove from heat and bring to room temperature.
  12. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  13. On a clean, floured surface roll out your dough to 1/4 inch thick.
  14. Cut out hearts.
  15. Lightly beat one egg.
  16. Place 1 tablespoon of filling into the middle of the heart.
  17. Baste the egg wash around the heart. (If you are making these egg free omit this step)
  18. Place another dough heart on top of the filling and pinch the edges of the heart together.
  19. Continue with the rest of the dough.
  20. Place hearts on baking sheet and baste with remaining egg wash. (Again if these are being made egg free, omit this step. Also, if you make both egg and egg free, I suggest making the egg free version first, and bake it on its own that way there is no cross contamination.
  21. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the tops and edges are golden brown.
  22. Place baked pies on a cooling rack and cool thoroughly.
  23. To make the glaze combine powdered sugar, milk, and extract in a small bowl until smooth.
  24. Pour a spoonful of the glaze onto each pie and spread it slightly.
  25. Garnish with pretty sprinkles.
  26. Store in airtight container until ready to serve or give. Can be made one day ahead of time.

Valentine’s Day Italian 7 layer Cookies

Pink 7 layer bars

Valentine’s Day is in 11 days. Normally I don’t really care about the whole romantic part of this holiday, and I usually focus on the kid part. This year however, I am counting down the days. You see, this will be the first year that I have actually procured a babysitter and my husband and I will actually be going out. Now that is something to be excited about in my home because date night is a rare thing.

petit fours

I am looking forward to a nice dinner with my husband, but what I am most excited for is the movie after! I CAN. NOT. WAIT. to see 50 Shades of Grey! A few years ago I started the series of books and literally could not sleep or do anything else for about 5 days. All I did was read. I can’t wait to see if the movie is as good as the books!

7 layer bars

So in celebration of my impeding date night, I bring you one of my family’s favorite treats Valentine’s Day 7 Layer Italian Bars. Now, like many recipes, it looks long, but it is not. It is originally from Gourmet Magazine, 2005. The batter is a cinch to put together. If you have an extra 5 minutes, I urge you to make the almond paste from scratch. It is easy and cheaper (you get a lot more for your money). Here is the recipe.

valentine's day cookie bars

Instead of just putting the chocolate on the top and bottom, I actually dipped the whole square into white chocolate to make it look more like a petit four. I think they came out pretty cute!

So tell me, do you do anything special for Valentine’s Day?


Valentine’s Day Italian 7 layer Cookies


  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8-oz can almond paste or homemade
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 different gel food coloring (measure with the tip of a knife)
  • 1 (12-oz) jar raspberry preserves, heated and strained
  • White chocolate coating (I use candiquik)
  • 1 tablespoon shortening or coconut oil
  • Pink food coloring
  • Sprinkles


  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spray a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and line bottom with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 ends, then spray the paper.
  3. Beat whites in mixer fitted with whisk attachment at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed until whites hold stiff, slightly glossy peaks. Transfer to another bowl.
  4. Switch to paddle attachment, then beat together almond paste and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until well blended, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add yolks and almond extract and beat until combined well, about 2 minutes.
  7. Reduce speed to low, then add flour and salt and mix until just combined.
  8. Fold half of egg white mixture into almond mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
  9. Divide batter among 3 bowls. Stir food coloring into each bowl.
  10. Pour 1st colored batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with offset spatula (layer will be about 1/4 inch thick).
  11. Bake each layer 8 to 10 minutes, until just set. (It is important to undercook.)
  12. Transfer to a rack to cool.
  13. When all layers are cool, invert 1 layer onto a wax-paper-lined large baking sheet. Discard paper from layer and spread with half of preserves.
  14. Invert next on top of 1st layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining preserves.
  15. Invert final layer on top of previous layer and discard wax paper.
  16. Cover with plastic wrap and weight with a large baking pan. Chill at least 8 hours.
  17. Remove weight and plastic wrap.
  18. Bring layers to room temperature.
  19. Melt chocolate and shortening in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. If chocolate needs to be melted more, place in microwave and heat for increments of 10 seconds until it is smooth.
  20. Trim edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife.
  21. Cut into 2 inch squares then carefully dip into chocolate to coat.
  22. Once all of the squares have been coated, melt about 1/3 cup of white chocolate coating with shortening and pink food gel.
  23. When melted and smooth, place in a ziplock bag and snip the corner.
  24. Drizzle pink chocolate onto the squares and top with you favorite sprinkles.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Salad

spring salad

Are you bloated with fried cheesy food from the weekend? Are you craving healthy light spring like salads like me? Well look no further, I have got a glorious Cilantro Lime Chicken Salad that is healthy AND delicious!

cilantro lime dressing

There are a few benefits to paying an exorbitant “sunshine” tax here in California. The first is of course the good weather, and the second is the ability to garden year around. So when my salad craving hit, I simply had to step outside and pick some of our freshly grown produce.

spring salad 2

Currently our garden is bursting with persian limes (they look like lemons but are actually a lime), lettuce, carrots, radishes, swiss chard and herbs. Hence where the inspiration for this post came from. I simply marinated a few chicken breasts with lime juice and cilantro, and quickly threw it on the grill.

cilantro lime salad

While grilling I blended together this delicious lime cilantro salad dressing. It is fresh, flavorful, and delicious. It would also make a great marinade.

To add a bit more substance to the salad I also added some quinoa and radishes. It totally fit the bill and instantly gave me a burst of energy. Exactly what I needed after a weekend of brews and fatty appetizers!!!

cilantro lime dressing 2

Cilantro Lime Chicken Salad

Yield: serves 4


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dressing
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salad
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 radishes, finely sliced
  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 3 radishes, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions


  1. In a shallow dish, combine lime juice, olive oil, cilantro and salt.
  2. Add chicken and cover and refrigerate to marinate for at least 30 minutes (flipping after 15).
  3. Grill or bake your chicken until fully cooked.
  4. While chicken is cooking, add all of the dressing ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  5. Assemble your salad with a layer of lettuce, quinoa, chopped chicken, sliced radishes and green onions.
  6. Pour dressing and serve immediately.

Barbecue Ribs

bbq ribs

For Christmas this year my wonderful husband surprised me with a new grill! Since having received it, I have used it at least 4 nights a week, regardless of the weather.  I have always been a huge fan of barbecuing and have become quite good at it! Let’s just say the my first year of grilling resulted in some pretty black undercooked meat.

bbq sauce

This January, Kraft Barbecue Sauce is celebrating the launch of a newly revamped line of sauces with recipes that feature high-quality ingredients like tomatoes, sweet molasses, cider vinegar and cane sugar. Barbecue sauce is one of the things that I prefer to buy. Although homemade is delicious, it is extremely time consuming to make. Plus, why make it when you can purchase a good quality tasty sauce for under $2?


When I opened my Evergriller package from Kraft, my kids were instantly excited. They love anything and everything Barbecue flavor. When I asked them what they wanted me to make and they each blurted out “Ribs!” The next day I armed myself with a jacket, a cocktail, and 2 racks of ribs and set out for a fun afternoon of grilling.

bbq sauce ribs

I doused my rib racks with my favorite homemade rub and grilled them for about an hour. Then, I covered them in a delicious lay of Barbecue sauce and continued to baste them for the next hour and half. The result? The most flavorful, fall off the bone ribs. I have already purchased a few more baby back ribs to grill again for game day this weekend!


We actually used both the Hickory Smoked and the Sweet Honey Barbecue sauce. They were equally delicious, but the Hickory Smoked sauce seem to add a delicious smoky flavor to the meat.


So tell me, do you grill year around? Would you like a chance to win an Evergriller Grill ‘N’ Flip Mitt of your own and a year’s supply of Kraft Barbecue Sauce. To enter, grill fans can visit GrillinFools.com between January 19 and January 30. The winner will be randomly selected at the close of the giveaway. Good luck!!

baby back ribs

Barbecue Ribs


  • 2 racks of baby back ribs
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoons dried oregano and parsley, each
  • 1 bottle Kraft Barbecue Sauce


  1. Preheat your grill to medium high.
  2. Rub your rib racks with a very generous amount of seasoning.
  3. Reduce grill heat to low and cook for about 30 minutes, flipping after 15 minutes.
  4. Pour 1/2 a bottle of Barbecue sauce onto ribs.
  5. With the remaining half a bottle, baste ribs regularly and cook for another 1 and 1/2 hours on medium low heat or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.
  6. Baste one last time with Barbecue sauce before serving. Slice and serve.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and provided product samples by Kraft Foods, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Game Day Party and a Delectable Ice Cream Cake

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GameTimeMVP #CollectiveBias

game day

The big game is in a few short days and the only thing more exciting than the half time show and awesome commercials is the food! Because let’s face it…football is so much better with some game time grub!

part table

During football season, Sundays become fun days with my husband’s buddies and their families. It’s a great excuse to decorate and throw a mini party. With a few simple decorations from Walmart, and of course good food and beer, you will be forever be known as the hostess with the mostess!


During these spontaneous get-togethers, the oven and my crock pot are my best friends. By purchasing DiGiorno® Cheese Stuffed Crust Pepperoni Pizza, I know that my main dish will be simple and delicious. Not to mention the fact that it is currently on Rollback at Walmart for $5.95 and there is also a coupon inside select boxes for $1 off, making it much cheaper than ordering out yet providing great quality. Freeing up cooking time, allowed me to take a few extra minutes with decorations!

football party

From the umpteen classroom parties that I have helped put together through the years, I have quite a collection of crepe paper. I simply pinned the tops to the wall and gently twisted them and pinned again at the bottom. It was a simple and cheap backdrop that added tons of color and texture!

ice cream cake

One thing that has been on my list of things to make for over a year now has been an ice cream cake. When I saw Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream touchdown sundae, I knew the day had come! As soon as I got home, I threw together my favorite brownie recipe. This recipe makes the perfect dense chocolaty brownies and only requires one bowl (plus the baking pans of course). After the brownies had cooled and were chilled for a bit, I added a layer of softened ice cream. To add an extra crunch I sprinkled a layer of Butterfinger® Peanut Butter Cups Minis, then placed it in the freezer until it was ready to serve.

ice cream cake collage

Once dessert time came around, I drizzled (okay poured) caramel sauce and hot fudge over the ice cream cake and sprinkled more. Butterfinger® Peanut Butter Cups Minis. Let me just say that this ice cream cake was the hit of the party. From grown men, to little toddlers, they just couldn’t get enough! Even after devouring the ice cream cake, everyone kept going back for “one last handful” of the Butterfinger® Peanut Butter Cups Minis! Seriously though guys, the added Butterfinger® crunch is a total game changer to peanut butter cups and might possibly be our new favorite chocolate!


So, in conclusion, parties don’t have to be difficult and perfectly planned. Spontaneous parties can be just as fun, but minus the stress!!! With ingredients like DiGiorno® Cheese Stuffed Crust Pepperoni Pizza, New Butterfinger® Peanut Butter Cups Minis, and Limited Edition Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Touchdown Sundae  your game day party will be a total winner! 



Delectable Ice Cream Cake


  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 1 gallon of ice cream, softened on the counter for about 10 minutes.
  • 2 cups Butterfinger® Peanut Butter Cups Minis
  • Caramel and Hot Fudge sauce to drizzle


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, grease a 2 8 in cake pans with non stick cooking spray.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate chips in the microwave on high for 1 minute.
  3. Remove from microwave and stir together.
  4. If the choc/butter mixture is not completely melted, put back in microwave for 30 sec.
  5. Let mixture sit for about 5 minutes to cool slightly.
  6. Add eggs and sugar and whisk together rapidly.
  7. Add the flour salt and milk, and whisk together to mix. Pour into baking dish.
  8. Bake for 30 min.
  9. Cool completely then chill for about 20 minutes before adding ice cream.
  10. Layer half a gallon of ice cream onto a brownie layer.
  11. Top with 1/2 cup Butterfinger® Peanut Butter Cups Minis.
  12. Place second brownie layer onto of ice cream.
  13. Add the remaining 1/2 gallon of ice cream and top with 1/2 cup Butterfinger® Peanut Butter Cups
  14. Minis
  15. Freeze cake for at least 1 hour.
  16. When ready to serve, drizzle with caramel and hot fudge sauce and top with remaining chocolate candies.
  17. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Orange Creamsicle Bars

orange bars

When we moved into the new house, I was overjoyed with the bountiful fruit trees that were all over the backyard. Being in a home that we could simply step outside and pick fresh fruit off the trees and harvest fresh veggies from the large garden has always been a dream for us. To me, there is nothing more gratifying than being able to make a delicious meal with ingredients that you grew.

orange cookie bars

Currently, our trees are laden with fresh oranges and tangerines. I seriously cannot make orange juice fast enough! So we are thinking outside of he box and make orange everything! We made multiple loaves of this Cranberry Orange Pound Cake over the holidays and have added this Orange Chicken to our weekly menus.

orange cookie bars

When I first met my blogging BFF, she served us a piece of fresh bread with an Orange Compound Butter. Holy cow was it amazing! It is extremely simple to make and adds a ton of fresh flavor to pancakes, toast, and sandwiches. You simply mix a stick of softened butter with 1 tablespoon of orange zest and 1 teaspoon of honey. Use Plugrá European-Style Salted butter for an even more amazing flavor!

photo credit: food channel

photo credit: food channel

Since we love the compound butter so much, I knew that a buttery orange sugar cookie bar would be pretty delicious too. I was right! These bars are delicious. Topped with a creamy orange blossom buttercream and a candied tangerine, it is like bitting into a slightly more glamorous and sophisticated creamsicle.

Orange Bars

Yield: makes 12 large bars


  • 1 cup Plugrá butter
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 table spoon orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • Frosting
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water or 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Candied Tangerines
  • 2 Tangerines
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper or nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, combine butter, orange zest and juice, salt and powdered sugar. Blend on medium high until light and fluffy.
  3. Add yolks, one at a time, and beat until incorporated.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour. Mix until just combined.
  5. Pour mixer into pan and press to level.
  6. Bake sugar cookie bars for 15 minutes.
  7. Cool completely.
  8. To make the candied tangerine slices, slice tangerines 1/4 inch thick.
  9. In a large shallow pan, add water and sugar and bring to a simmer.
  10. Add tangerine slice and cook for ten minutes.
  11. Remove from pan and place on a drying rack. Cool and dry for at least 20 minutes.
  12. Once bars are cool make frosting.
  13. Combine softened butter and cream cheese, milk, and orange blossom water and mix until incorporated.
  14. Add powdered sugar and beat until thick and smooth.
  15. Frost bars and top with candied tangerine slices.

San Diego Restaurant Week


Happy Weekend everyone! Just a quick note to mention that San Diego Restaurant Week starts tomorrow! It is a great opportunity to try out restaurants without spending an arm and a leg.

slaters 2

Hubby and I have the opportunity to preview the SDRW dinner menu at Slaters 50/50. This restaurant had been on our list for quite a while, so we were extremely excited to try it. When we arrived, the staff was extremely nice and the waitress spent extra time explaining the menu to us. We actually noticed that she took this time with each and every table that she served.

slaters 6

Hubby was immediately impressed with their beer list. With 100 beers on tap (a good majority was local) he and I got to try a few beers that were on our “to drink list” as well.

slaters 8

For the appetizer we ordered the Spicy Korean Wings and the Vampire dip (regular menu). Both were delicious. So much so that we filled up and were unable to take more than a bite of our burgers!

I ended up ordering the Where’s the Smoke, There’s Fire burger off of the SDRW week menu. It was good, but had a lot going on flavor wise. I did try hubby’s burger, Traditional Slater’s 50/50 and it was better.

slaters 5

The star of the show was the freshly made and fried beignets with a chai tea sauce. They were perfectly light and almost refreshing after the heavy meal and multiple beers.

slaters 1

All in all we were happy that we finally tried Slater’s 50/50 out. Next week we will also be taking the opportunity to try out some restaurants in our new neighborhood! Hope you will too!

This meal was comped, however all of our opinions are 100% our own.