Recipe: Bite-Sized Brunch

MF Bite-Sized Brunch

I’m having a group of friends over for brunch and when I was thinking up a menu, I found inspiration in our bestselling Nibblers® bite-sized cookies. Bite-sized portions make it easy to sample everything without feeling too full (or too guilty). With classic french toast bites, creamy cheesecake strawberries, and savory breakfast sliders, this bite-sized brunch is the bomb!
MF French Toast Bites
French Toast Bites

1 loaf (1 pound) artisan bread
1/4 cup flour
6 eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cut bread into one-inch cubes without crusts. Add bread to a bag and add flour. Seal bag and shake it until bread cubes are evenly dredged in flour. Preheat a skillet on medium-high heat. Mix eggs, milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a shallow dish. Quickly soak cubes in the egg mixture then transfer to a buttered pan and toast until brown and crisp on each side. Serve with powdered sugar and a side of maple syrup.


MF Cheesecake Strawberries
Cheesecake Strawberries

1 pound large strawberries
1 (4 ounce) package instant cheesecake flavored pudding mix
1 cup milk
1 cup whipped topping

Stir pudding mix and milk by hand for five minutes, or until thickened. Gently fold in whipped topping until combined. Cover and chill while preparing strawberries. Cut the bottom off each strawberry to create a base. Cut the top off each strawberry, then carefully remove the light-colored hull. Transfer pudding mixture into a pastry bag and pipe it into the hollowed strawberries. Serve  immediately or chill until serving.


MF Breakfast Sliders
Breakfast Sliders

12 small dinner rolls
12 thin slices salami
12 eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup butter
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
fresh chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a microwave-safe bowl heat butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and pepper. Stir and set aside. Slice the top third off each dinner roll then, using your fingers, create a hole in the base of the roll by removing breading and leaving a thin crust around each edge. Arrange the rolls into 9 x 13 baking dish. Fill each hole with a slice of salami, tucking it into the hole and creating a cup for the egg. Crack each egg in half, reserving the half with the yolk and some egg white, discarding the half with only egg white. (HINT: Use discarded egg whites in the French Toast Bites.) Pour the egg into the middle of each salami cup and top with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and the top of the roll. Brush sauce on top of the rolls and drizzle any excess evenly over the top. Cover dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Top with freshly chopped chives and serve immediately.

Tips for Perfect Care Packages

Have you ever received a care package? It’s a rare and wonderful surprise, and always so appreciated. But do you know how to put one together? Here are my five best tips.

1. Choose a theme. Rather than a hodge podge of various items, decide on a theme for your package. Not only will it keep you more focused in you selecting items, it shows thoughtfulness to the recipient. It could be a theme like favorite cookies or pampering items, or even a color theme integrating several small gifts of a certain color.

2. Finesse the details. Incorporate interesting or beautiful papers, ribbons, or trinkets to polish off the presentation.

3. Wrap items individually. We all know that unwrapping a gift enhances the experience, so make each item special by giving it individual wrapping. Tissue paper or cellophane bags are great for smaller items.

4. Packing materials can be pretty. If you’re mailing your package, use popped popcorn, mini balloons (blown up), or shredded colored paper to make it secure for shipping. It keeps the wow-factor high. Use stickers, decorative tape, or paper to decorate the outside of the box.

5. Include a note. The most important part of any care package is the little hand-written note tucked inside. In my opinion, a gift without a note is only half a gift. Personalize it with your own words.

Need more inspiration? Check out these beautiful care packages.

Sunshine in a Box via Katherine Marie Photography

Breakfast in a Box via Style Baggage

Birthday Party in a Box via You Are My Fave

Of course, some of my favorite care packages are sent out every day to thousands of people across the country. If you don’t feel like putting together a care package, we can always do it for you!

Springtime Flower Box by Mrs. Fields

25 Great Stay-cation Ideas

If you are sticking close to home this year for Spring Break rather than chasing the tropical sun, there’s no reason why your stay-cation shouldn’t be as fun, refreshing, and well-spent as a tropical getaway. Here are 25 ideas to make your stay-cation spectacular!

  1. Build a fort in the family room, or set up a tent in the backyard. Gather flashlights, blankets, and ghost stories for late-night fun.
  2. When is the last time you visited a local museum? A stay-cation provides a perfect opportunity to get to the places you’ve been planning to go, but never got around to.
  3. Do you have a home improvement project that’s been begging for your time? A week off could earn you a tremendous sense of accomplishment.
  4. Catch a pre-season baseball game with family or friends. There’s nothing like the roar of a crowd with a hot dog in one hand and popcorn in the other.
  5. How about a day trip to a nearby city? Visit a friend, go shopping, or try a new restaurant.
  6. Discover local eateries. Use Internet sites like Yelp or Urbanspoon to discover great eateries in your area, and find out what you’ve been missing out on.
  7. Spend a day at the park swinging on swings, tossing a frisbee, or organizing a game of kickball.
  8. Have a yard sale to cash in on some unwanted clutter. Check out my best tips for a successful sale.
  9. Close the blinds, pop some popcorn and have an all-day movie marathon. It’s a ridiculously fun indulgence for all ages.
  10. Could you use a makeover? Splurge on a nice haircut, a new outfit, or a visit to the makeup counter. It will make you feel as refreshed as a week at the beach.
  11. Use your time off to purge your closet and make room for warm weather clothes.
  12. Take a class to learn a new skill—cooking, photography, golf, basket-weaving, whatever suits your fancy!
  13. Rent a nearby hotel room for one or two nights and enjoy the amenities: swimming, room service, housekeeping, and endless hot water.
  14. Find hiking or biking trails and spend a morning or afternoon outdoors in nature.
  15. Plan a picnic in the park, backyard, or a tree house. Bring lots of cookies along.
  16. Pamper yourself with a pedicure, manicure, massage, or facial.
  17. Host a dinner party and invite the friends you’ve been meaning to call for months.
  18. Swap babysitting with a friend and enjoy a day all to yourself, doing whatever you please, even if it is nothing at all.
  19. Make appointments that have been put off—dentist, doctor, or oil change. It’s easier to schedule them when your schedule is flexible.
  20. Plant a garden. Visit a local nursery and gather up some flowers or plants and get them in the ground for an early start on the growing season.
  21. You don’t need a beach to sunbathe, only sunshine! Grab a lawn chair, a beach towel, some sunscreen, iPod, and celebrity gossip magazine.
  22. Treat yourself or your loved ones to breakfast in bed. I’ve got two great menus (one, two) that will delight everybody.
  23. For ultimate rejuvenation, get lots of sleep. No alarm clocks allowed; sleep each morning until you wake up naturally.
  24. There’s nothing quite like an evening at the theatre. It doesn’t matter if it’s Broadway or a middle school play, enjoy being part of a live performance audience.
  25. Get in touch with your creative side. (And if you don’t think you have one, you’re wrong.) Try a new recipe, create something with your hands, or spend an afternoon singing at the top of your lungs. It’s good for the heart and soul.

{Image via Pinterest.}

St. Patrick’s Day Fun In a Pinch

Since St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, you can make it an entire day of fun for the whole family with these great ideas for food, treats, and games from top o’ the mornin’ to late at night. Try some of these last-minute ideas for yourself!

Start by setting a leprechaun trap before the kids to go bed. A laundry basket, a stick, and a pot full of broccoli as bait starts all the fun. In the morning, the pot is gone, but the lucky leprechaun who got away has left the kids with a treasure hunt leading to a pot of gold. I love this idea from The Idea Room, especially for little ones.

MF St. Patrick's Day Breakfasts

A proper St. Patty’s Day breakfast can be anything from simple to silly to savory. I love these ideas for green milk with Lucky Charms cereal, a stack of green pancakes, or green eggs and ham.

MF St. Patrick's Day Treats

My St. Patrick’s Day Cream Puffs, Rainbow CookiesGuinness Brownies are fun to make with kids and perfect to take to parties.

MF St. Patrick's Day Dinners

I love these lunch and dinner ideas, which offer fresh takes on traditional fare. Try Shepherd’s Pie, Green Mac ‘n’ Cheese, or Corned Beef and Cabbage Pizza. I want them all!

Have a wonderful, safe, St. Patrick’s Day, and may all your rainbows lead to a pot of gold!

12 Feel-Good Resolutions for a Sweet Year

The way I see it, most New Year’s resolutions are frustrating and ineffective because they are about turning inward. I’ve always found more success reaching out instead. That’s why I’ve made this list of 12 goals for 2012, one for each month to make this my sweetest year yet. Will you join me?

January – Reconnect with a neighbor. It seems as though everybody disappears into their houses in the winter, making the already cold months feel lonely too. Take a plate of cookies to a neighbor and visit for a while, or invite them over for a homemade dinner of soup and bread. The world will instantly become a warmer place.

February – Spend one-on-one time with each family member. The Valentine month gets our focus on love and nothing says, “I love you” more than quality time together. Set aside a few hours to focus on each member of your family, and make sure it’s just the two of you. Go out to lunch, visit a museum, or make cookies together in the kitchen. Spouses and kids alike will bask in your individual attention.

March – Look up a long lost friend. You’ve been wondering about your best friend from second grade. Did she ever become an archaeologist? Or an opera singer? Modern technology has made it easier than ever to find those important people from the past. Make a goal to rekindle and old friendship. Send an email, make a phone call, or send a surprise tin of cookies. The reward will be sweet.

April – Switch up your routine. As creatures of habit, we can get stuck in a rut without even realizing. Mix up your regular routines this month. Buy a different breakfast cereal, drive a different way home from work, sign up for a different class at the gym, or try a different restaurant. The discoveries you make about yourself and your world might surprise you.

May – Pay it forward. Start a domino effect of goodwill by doing a kindly deed, just because. Pay for the next car’s coffee in the line at the drive-thru, put a few quarters into an almost-expired parking meter, wait a few extra seconds to keep a door open for someone, or anonymously deliver a plate of cookies to somebody who needs a lift. You’ll get a rush of joy, and chances are, all that goodwill will come right back to you.

June – Ask someone older and wiser. Interview a grandparent, great uncle, or elderly friend. Ask them about life when they were your age. How much was a gallon of gas or a loaf of bread? What was communication, transportation, and education like? What have they learned about life, and what do they wish they knew then? Let them reminisce while you soak it in. There’s a lot to be learned if you take time to listen.

July – Make a lemonade stand for charity. Take advantage of warm temperatures and set up a lemonade stand with the kids, then donate the funds to a charity. Enjoy the opportunity to help them learn about giving back. (Check out Alex’s Lemonade Stand for more ideas.)

August – Go for a walk; take a bag. Enjoy a brisk walk or hike outdoors at least once this month, but take a plastic grocery bag with you. Pick up trash along your path and notice how good it feels to leave things better than you found them.

September – Teach or tutor. Back to school time means new opportunities for learning…and teaching. Chances are, you’re really good at something. Consider teaching a free class in your community, or volunteer to tutor a student or an adult. Contact your local library to find out about community programs that might need your help.

October – Fill your trunk and fill your heart. Go through your closet, your garage, and your pantry with a question in mind: What am I not using that could make somebody’s life better? Gather unused coats, hats, boots, bikes, and non-perishable foods to donate to a local shelter, food bank, or charity. If you don’t have enough for one trunk full, let friends and family know your plan—they will likely join forces and fill in any gaps.

November – Give thanks. As in, a lot of thanks. Most people around us do a lot of thankless work every day. See what happens when you take time to express thanks to those around you for all the little otherwise unnoticeable acts of service. You’ll be amazed at the response in others, and you’ll realize how much for which you have to be thankful.

December – Use time as a gift. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of the holidays, searching out the perfect gifts for friends and family. Before your calendar gets filled up with 101 holiday obligations, block out time for things that matter most to you as a gift to yourself. (And a less-stressed you is a gift to others!) Is it time reading with the kids by the fire? A quiet dinner with your significant other? Or an uninterrupted bubble bath all by yourself? Remember that there’s no gift like the present, so spend your time wisely.

Those are my goals. What are your feel-good resolutions? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

25 Easy Ways to Be Kind

  1. Smile at a stranger.
  2. Warm your child’s favorite blanket in the dryer for a few minutes in the morning.
  3. Call someone you’re thinking about.
  4. Leave a note in your mailbox thanking your mail carrier.
  5. Buy a cup of coffee for the next person in line.
  6. Straighten up a mess.
  7. Invite someone over for dinner.
  8. Pour a bubble bath for a loved one and give them an uninterrupted hour alone.
  9. Volunteer an hour of our time at an elementary school or after-school program.
  10. Set your alarm an hour early and make a special breakfast on an ordinary week day.
  11. Reach out to someone new.
  12. Make a plate of cookies for someone, just because.
  13. Tutor a student.
  14. Celebrate a small victory with helium balloons.
  15. Give all the change in your wallet to the jar on the counter.
  16. Instead of throwing out your old magazines, offer them to a friend.
  17. Offer a listening ear instead of advice.
  18. Honk for happy reasons.
  19. Treat yourself to a milkshake.
  20. Better yet, treat someone else.
  21. Send a funny card in the mail.
  22. Switch the roll of toilet paper.
  23. Hold the door for someone.
  24. Memorize a joke and tell it to three people.
  25. Send a tin of cookies to a loved one far away.
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