My new best friends are J. Biebs & 8th graders

The way to a middle schooler’s heart is through his or her stomach — guaranteed.

My sister Layne is a middle school science teacher, and after visiting her students last year and totally charming them with my sparkling personality and great sense of humor winning them over with Pillsbury Funfetti cookies, I knew I wanted to up the ante this year…and did I ever!

But I’m going to make you wait for that…

On Saturday my family got together to celebrate & congratulate my brother Andrew on his college graduation — woot woot! We are all so proud of him and his accomplishments. Way to go, dude! (Since the graduation pictures are on my mom’s camera, I’ll post pictures in an upcoming post.)

After the graduation ceremony, I headed to my sister’s house to spend a few days out in the boonies 😉 I loooovveeee “the boonies!” We’ve had a fun couple of days full of long walks, cooking & baking in the kitchen, watching the Justin Bieber movie and absolutely loving it, and catching up on our 4+ months apart.

The first night we got home a bit later and wanted something quick and not too heavy.

A grilled chicken salad to the rescue!

Lemon-pepper marinated slices of chicken breast came together with a bed of fresh spring mix greens, dried cranberries, pecan halves, feta cheese, and a handful of croutons. All drizzled with some more of the marinade…because it’s just that dang tasty!

On the side, we split a cinnamon raisin bagel. I chose to drizzle mine with honey.

Sunday night’s dinner was a recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Courtney from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life. Can you believe I was ready for pasta & pesto again?

We whipped up Courtney’s Chicken ‘n Penne Pesto in no time, with just one modification: we subbed in whole wheat rotini noodles for the penne. That’s all!

 While the broccoli was a tad bit soggy for my liking (my bad; I think that was when I was distracted with proclaiming to Layne my new-found love for J. Biebs), the rest of the dish was delish. Chicken, pasta, broccoli, garlic, pesto. What more could a girl want? So easy and quick to prepare, too…which never hurts.

I also brought Layne a souvenir: limoncello!

While it’s super-syrupy and uber lemony (think: a lemonhead) on its own, limoncello is tasty when mixed with other, more tasty things…such as cranberry juice, lemonade, and Squirt.

Now…on to some drool-worthy desserts.

As soon as I decided cupcakes were the name of the game, I headed straight over to Courtney’s blog because she is the Queen of all things sweet — especially cupcakes!

The minute I clicked on her recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes & Peanut Butter Frosting, I was sold. Like that.

Ya sold yet? 😉

These babies were the star of the 3-cupcake selection at the middle school…that’s for sure! Since I had to bake & frost over 80 cupcakes, I chose to make 48 of the PB choco variety, 24 Red Velvet, and 24 Pillsbury Funfetti cupcakes (my cousin Natalie thinks I’m joking when I say I’m having Funfetti cupcakes at my future wedding in place of a cake).

Photo creds to Layne on the above photo. She rocks my (tan) socks.

With the Red Velvet and Funfetti cupcakes I used boxed mixes and already-prepared frostings (Cream-cheese style and Funfetti white, respectively), because I had EIGHTY to make (hehe), but I did a little something special with the PB Cup ones. Per Courtney’s recipe, I started out with just a regular old Devil’s Food Cake mix and baked those according to box directions (subbing in applesauce for the oil because it’s a super-easy substitution that’s healthier and tastes just as great, if not better and more moist!).

Once the cupcakes were out of the oven, I let them cool for 10 minutes until I placed a mini Reese’s PB cup in the center of each.

Courtney is a genius. Seriously. Once you place the PB cup inside the warm chocolate cupcake, it gets all melted and creamy and ohmygoshican’tstopgawkingatthiscupcake.

We were so tempted to try one right then — but knew we had to wait for the Peanut Butter frosting.

All it takes is a little combining of some powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and — of course — the peanut butter! Just add milk ’til you get to the desired consistency. (Careful — I was tempted to add milk until it was thinner and thinner, but just remember: frosting is supposed to be thick! Add too much milk and the frosting will run right off the ‘cakes!)

Warning: This frosting is highly addictive. You WILL have leftovers (because the frosting is so rich, I didn’t want to put a TON on each ‘cake), and they will tempt you from the container in the back of the fridge, behind the apples, yogurt, and spinach.

Best part? You start out with something like this…

And when you bite (or stick your fork into — yes, I eat cupcakes with a fork if given the option) into it, it looks like this:

We microwaved ’em for just 12 seconds so the frosting would get all melty right before we dug in. They were obviously still moist and fresh, but melted peanut butter is just that much better.

And to think my sister & I don’t even like chocolate cake. Ha!

Trust me, even if you don’t like chocolate (cup)cakes, you will fall in love with these because of the irresistible combination of peanut butter and chocolate. Guaranteed…or your money back. (Well, not really. But I just have always wanted to say that phrase!)

What’s the best flavor combo out there?

  1. Peanut butter and banana
  2. Peanut butter and chocolate
  3. Cinnamon raisin and swiss (love, Love, LOVE cinnamon raisin toast or bagels with melted swiss cheese. So flippin’ tasty!)

About ciaotochow

ciao to chow: initially created as a little spot on the web devoted to the "chow" I find while studying abroad in Rome. But really, ciao to chow is about my life: the day-to-day experiences, funny stories, moments of laughter, and the food...that continue to inspire me and make me grateful for each new day.
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10 Responses to My new best friends are J. Biebs & 8th graders

  1. Julie says:

    Peanut butter and chocolate…sausages and syrup…ummmm, I’m out of combos!

  2. Layne says:

    PB chocolate. Is this even a question?!

  3. Thanks so much for all the shout-outs tonight! Your dinner and especially the cupcakes look AWESOME, girl! Thanks for trying ’em out. 🙂

    And ummm, fantastic idea on microwaving them. I always love my baked goods just slightly warm…why did I never think to try that out?!?

  4. Kenz says:

    OMG YOUR HAIR!!!! obsessssedddd!!!!!!!!

  5. Andrew says:

    Hey Anna,

    Glad you’ve turned into a Bieleber, he seems to be hurting for fans.

  6. Fun post! Those cupcakes look UHmazing, seriously. I think I’d have to have one of each flavor because I couldn’t pass up red velvet, funfetti OR chocolate peanut butter cup.

    My favorite combos in life are 1) cake and ice cream 2) PB and banana 3) PB and chocolate, and 4) coffee and cream.

    • ciaotochow says:

      I hear ya girl — it was SUCH a struggle to pick just one flavor. I think I made the right choice, but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Funfetti!

  7. Pingback: Like Jared. | ciaotochow

  8. MareMare says:

    San, sweet of you to treat the kids — and yourselves, and me! The pb/choc cupcake was delicious! Great photos. How about you whip up that pesto dish for the fam tonight??!! Best combo from my childhood, no less. . .chips/dip — sorry! xxxooo

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