The Weekender: Happy Easter, Cat Beds, & Sweet Potatoes


Winter 20126Happy Easter to all you little bunnies and chicks! Did the Easter Bunny pay you a visit? I sure hope he brought a plethora of Cadbury Crème Eggs, jelly beans, or whatever Easter confection tickles your fancy. But if you’re still hungry even after all the treats the Bunny bestowed upon you, then get a gander at this week’s mouth-watering Smart Cookie recipes. Perhaps these will satisfy your hunger.

Let’s review, shall we?

  1. Baked Pepper Jack Cheese SticksDSC_2557
  2. 20 Easter Bunny-Approved Recipeseasterrecipes-2
  3. Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes w/ Salted Dulce de Leche-Cinnamon ButtercreamDSC_3693-2
  4. Sweet Potato & Squash Brown Rice MedleyDSC_3109
  5. Monster Granola BarsDSC_4118

It’s not too late to consult my Easter recipe round-up for last minute ideas to firm up your holiday menu. I’ll be enjoying a heaping helping of veggie lasagna (recipe coming soon), a generous slab of tiramisu (recipe also coming soon), and some of these adorable Spring Lemon Cookies my father sent me as an early Easter present. They’re almost too cute to eat, right? Good thing I’m merciless in the face of food.DSC_4134

Perhaps I should take it easy on the sweets though. I mean, isn’t it a bad sign when your butt is big enough for your cat to utilize as a bed?photo(18)

At least I can make some healthy swaps like with that Powdered Peanut Butter I raved about in last week’s Weekender. If that stuff wasn’t awesome enough to begin with, guess what else I discovered this week? They make a Chocolate-Peanut Butter variation, and it’s DELICIOUS!

Mother Cookie made a solo trip to Wegmans this week, so I had her stock up on the stuff. She also picked up some adorable Easter treats including my all-time favorite sugar cookie shaped like an Easter egg and a chipper chick cupcake. I ate both, and I have no regrets. Yum!DSC_4037 DSC_4022

I’ll just balance out the sugarfest with the world’s most supremely-stuffed sweet potato, because this hearty behemoth is loaded with nutrients. Stop by next week to get the recipe.DSC_3862

Tell me about your Easter feast. Do you have any traditional dishes? Are you trying something new this year?

See you on Monday!

20 Easter Bunny-Approved Recipes


In less than a week, the world’s most beloved bunny will be hopping down that bunny trail to your home and mine, baring whimsical eggs and glorious tooth-rotting confections. Side note: does anybody else find it odd that the Easter Bunny gives out chocolate versions of himself for us to merciless decapitate with our bare teeth?

Easter definitely crept up on us this year, and it falls earlier than usual, so don’t feel bad if you aren’t quite prepared. In fact, I’ve got you covered with a round-up of my 20 best Easter recipes, all Easter Bunny-approved of course. Would I cook you something that the Head Bunny himself didn’t love? Of course not.

From fresh lemon mousse shaped like little spring chicks to a cake shaped like a chocolate bunny to the perfect Easter dinner mac and cheese, there’s a little bit of everything in this line-up. You’ll want to shake your cottontail straight to the kitchen to get cooking after you chick it out.2012-11-221-2

Note: The numbers on the list correlate with the numbers on the photos.

  1. Party Bread
  2. Ma’s Baked Corn Pudding
  3. Chocolate Bunny Cake
  4. Bunny Butt Pretzel Bites
  5. Mini Strawberry Mousse Pies
  6. Bunny Rabbit Cauliflower Pancakes
  7. Nutter Butter Truffle Eggs
  8. David’s Ultimate Mac & Cheese
  9. Peter Cottontail’s Carrot Cake Bars
  10. Coconut Macaroon Easter Egg Nests
  11. From-Scratch Cheddar Green Bean Casserole
  12. Babci’s Carrot Cake
  13. Baby Chick Lemon Mousse Cookie Cups
  14. Bunny Butt Triple Chocolate Trifle
  15. Brussels Sprout Gratin
  16. Strawberry Coconut Poke Cake
  17. Brown Butter Blueberry Cookies w/ Vanilla Glaze
  18. No-Bake Twice-Baked Potato Mash
  19.  Banana Peanut Butter Cookie Pudding
  20. Extra Creamy Stovetop Mac & Cheese

And if these aren’t enough Easter eats for you, hop on over to my Easter recipe page for my complete collection.


What’s on your Easter menu this year?



The Weekender: Easter Week, Furry Friends, & Peanut Butter

Wegmans March 201312-2

It’s Sunday, which means Easter Week at Smart Cookie has drawn to a close. I hope you all had as much fun as I did! We had enough delicious and festive recipes to make the ol’ Easter Bunny proud. Next week, he’ll be hopping to our homes bearing baskets of Easter sweets. Are you ready for his arrival? If you’re not, never fear. My Easter Week recipes are a great jumpstart, plus I’ll be bringing you an Easter recipe round-up next week, as is customary here at Smart Cookie. But until then…

Let’s review, shall we?

  1. Baby Chick Lemon Mousse Cookie CupsDSC_3479
  2. Peter Cottontail’s Carrot Cake BarsDSC_3531
  3. Bunny Rabbit Cauliflower PancakesDSC_3361
  4. Coconut Macaroon Easter Egg NestsDSC_3178

I took a little poll on Facebook to see what the favorite from Easter Week was, and the winner was unanimously the Baby Chick Lemon Mousse Cookie Cups. Not only are they beyond cute, but they’re easy to make and absolutely heavenly. That mousse filling is velvety smooth and tastes like lemon heaven. See just how effortless those little guys are to make in my newest video.

Let’s talk about food news now. Last week, I wrote about the edible wonders I encountered on my last trip to Wegmans. One awesome product I discovered was powdered peanut butter. DSC_2981-2It sounds odd if you’ve never tried it; I was skeptical myself. But this stuff is life-changing. Add just a little water, and you get instant thick and rich peanut butter. But get this: two tablespoons of regular peanut butter has an unsettling 200 calories and around 16 grams of fat; powered PB, on the other hand, has just 45 calories and about 2 grams of fat. That’s crazy talk! I am obsessed with this stuff; sometimes I use it twice a day. It’s not just awesome for making straight up PB; I also mix it into stuff like sugar-free pudding or a little bit of Cool Whip. Yum!

Speaking of non-traditional food items, how about this Mina burrito, eh?DSC_3852

My cats are just so darn good-looking that I can’t ignore them. One minute I’m trying to photograph food; the next, they’re getting all of my camera’s attention. Such was the case when I was baking cupcakes the other day. The Cast of Characters took a back seat to my babies.DSC_3685DSC_3679DSC_3681

Do you have a furry friend who’s always by your side?

I’ve got a co-worker with a…less traditional furry friend. She has a moose named Trax that she dresses up for every holiday you can imagine. So, when her birthday rolled around on Friday, I knew the perfect cake to make her.DSC_3826

He’s almost too cute to eat, right? I’m still not sure anyone ever cut into it…but there were delicious cupcakes to go along with him, which were devoured quickly. That recipe is coming at you next week, along with some healthy delights, and the Easter recipe round-up you don’t want to miss!DSC_3701

The best way to ensure you catch every new bite on Smart Cookie is to subscribe. You’ll get my new posts emailed to you every morning! Just enter your email in the top right of the page. Also stay in touch with Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

See you on Monday!

Easter Week: Coconut Macaroon Easter Egg Nests


Welcome to Day 4 of Easter Week at Smart Cookie! Did you miss a hop somewhere along the week? Then be sure to check out Day 1’s Baby Chick Lemon Mousse Cookie Cups, Day 2’s Peter Cottontail’s Carrot Cake Bars, and Day 3’s Bunny Rabbit Cauliflower Pancakes.

Would you believe I never tried Cadbury Mini Eggs before this Easter? Forgive me; I live under a rock called College. However, Easter after Easter, I heard people harping about those little eggs, and I was beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about. Mini Eggs have a cult following; people don’t just like them; they love them and can consume an entire bag in one sitting. I myself have a passionate, all-consuming love for Cadbury Crème Eggs, so I figured the Mini Eggs couldn’t be bad if they’re made by the same UK chocolatiers.

Sign me up for the Cadbury Mini Egg Cult because I love these chocolate cuties. I don’t know if it’s against Cadbury Code for me to love Mini Eggs and Crème Eggs, because typically people are only diehards for one or the other, but I’ve got love for both. And of course, as is the case with every edible item I adore, I had to bake with the Mini Eggs. So I crafted these Coconut Macaroon Easter Egg Nests for the occasion.DSC_3214

I know they may seem too pretty to eat with their pastel green nests and the circle of colorful eggs perched on top, but I can assure you that you’ll get over that after one bite. These macaroons are chewy, coconutty perfection. But we don’t stop there; we add a perfectly-portioned dollop of luscious caramel sauce to act as glue for those undeniably delicious Cadbury Mini Eggs. It’s like a treat within a treat.


I’d argue that even people who don’t like coconut would happily eat a handful of these. Don’t believe me? Ask any one of my taste testers, from my parents to my co-workers to my friends; they all loved these scrumptious spring sweets. In fact, my friend from the gym dubbed them the best coconut macaroons he’s had. Not too shabby, eh?

The colors and whimsy of these macaroons make them so fun and delightful that they’ll put a smile on anybody‘s face this Easter (o should I say anybunny’s face?). Sure, they look fancy, but they’re actually easy as pie to make. The macaroons are a quick, one-bowl deal, then you just glue on the eggs with the caramel. The only real challenge is trying not to eat a dozen at a time.DSC_3203

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. If you don’t like caramel, chocolate sauce would be equally delicious “glue.”
  2. You could split the macaroon batter into three batches and dye each batch a different color so you have multiple shades of “Easter grass.”
  3. Keep an eye on these guys in the oven. Macaroons go from done to burnt fairly quickly.
  4. You have to make the indentations in the macaroons while they’re still warm and fresh from the oven, or it won’t work.
  5. If you skip making the indentations, you’ll have nowhere to put the caramel and no way to get the eggs to stick.DSC_3169

Coconut Macaroon Easter Egg Nests
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Yield – about 18 nests (or double the recipe and make 36)


  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. almond extract
  • Pinch salt
  • Green food dye
  • 1 bag Cadbury Mini Eggs
  • 1 jar caramel sauce, recommended: Wegmans


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the coconut, egg whites, flour, sugar, vanilla, almond extract, salt, and food dye until well-combined and color is evenly distributed.
  3. Form mixture into balls, roughly a tablespoon’s worth each, and place on baking sheet. Flatten out slightly.
  4. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and set. Immediately, using something with a flat, round base (I used the bottom of an ice cream scoop handle), gently press down into the center of each macaroon, creating an indentation. Let sit for 1 minute before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
  5. Place a small dollop of caramel sauce into the craters of each macaroon, about 1 teaspoon’s worth. Stick 2 – 4 eggs into each crater, using the caramel as glue. Store macaroons in an air-tight container.DSC_3235

Easter Week: Bunny Rabbit Cauliflower Pancakes


Welcome to Day 3 of Easter Week at Smart Cookie! Did you miss Day 1 or Day 2? Never fear; check them out right here: Day 1 – Baby Chick Lemon Mousse Cookie Cups / Day 2 – Peter Cottontail’s Carrot Cake Bars.

I knew I wanted to bring you a savory, healthy recipe during Easter week, which presented quite a challenge because all of my Easter inspiration involved decadent sweets. As I was trying to brainstorm, my mind kept drifting to pancakes, fluffy ones shaped like bunny rabbits. I remembered an Easter long ago, way before Smart Cookie time, when I whipped some up using good ol’ Bisquick and marshmallows for noses. I think they even had bacon bow ties. I was quite the little chef, even at the age. The Smart Cookie has always been in me.easterbunny pancake

Of course, those cute childhood p-cakes were neither savory nor good for you, so I unfortunately could not reincarnate them for this post. But they did inspire the recipe that follows: Bunny Rabbit Cauliflower Pancakes.DSC_3371

These are savory p-cakes, like potato pancakes but better for you. I am in love with these floppy-eared cuties because they’re adorable, delicious, and nutritious. If you want a good way to get your kids to eat veggies, this is the way to do it. In fact, I recommend getting them in the kitchen for this. Let them decorate their own bunny, and feel free to try different veggies as the facial features, like cherry tomatoes for the nose or chives for whiskers.

Although the cute factor seems like the star of this recipe, it’s really the taste that shines. These guys are unbelievably yummy. Much like a cauliflower pizza crust, these cauliflower pancakes disguise the veggies inside. It tastes so garlicky and flavorful that you forget about the cauliflower. A little bit of cheese doesn’t hurt either.

Best of all, these babies are low in fat and calories, so you can enjoy some Easter eats without all the guilt, and you’ll feel good about making them for you family. Cute, tasty, and healthy, these guys are a triple threat.DSC_3383

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. See all of my Easter recipes on the Smart Cookie Easter page.
  2. As I said above, get creative when decorating these. Try peppers, shredded carrots, broccoli florets, zucchini slices, mushrooms, and more.
  3. You’ve got to be gentle when taking these off the pan. Slowly work your spatula underneath, and once you have the whole pancake detached and supported, move it to a place carefully.
  4. This would be delicious with mashed potatoes instead of cauliflower. Of course, it won’t be quite as healthy.
  5. Use reduced-fat mozzarella instead of parmesan if you like.DSC_3319

Bunny Cauliflower Pancakes
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Yield – 4 pancakes


  • 1 small head of cauliflower, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 tbsp. fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. Egg Beaters
  • 4 carrot slices
  • 8 black olives
  • 12 bean sprouts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray liberally with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. Place cauliflower in a large microwave-safe dish and fill halfway with water. Cover and microwave on high for 3 minutes then stir. Keep microwaving for 3-minute intervals, stirring in between, until tender.
  3. Drain cauliflower. Squeeze and pat as dry as you can with paper towels. Transfer to a food processor and add the onion. Pulse until fine, but not yet pureed.
  4. Transfer cauliflower mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, basil, ricotta, parmesan, and Egg Beaters and mix well with a spatula until everything is evenly distributed. Make sure you break up the chunks of ricotta.
  5. Drop about a cupful of cauliflower mixture onto the baking sheet and press down gently into a ¼-inch thick circle. Add two dollops of mixture on top then press out into the shape of ears. Repeat with remaining batter, leaving about 1 inch in between each bunny. You may have to use two pans.
  6. Bake 20-30 minutes, or until set and golden around the edges. Let sit for 2 minutes before very carefully using a spatula to transfer bunnies to a plate. Make sure you have the entire pancake supported before lifting or it will break. Place one carrot “nose” on the center of each pancake then put two black olive eyes above the noses. Use the bean sprouts to make whiskers. Serve with marinara sauce or enjoy plain.