Being an adult can be a series of neverending inconveniences. Laundry, vacuuming, doing the dishes, cleaning your closet, paying bills- all while trying desperately to find time for work, exercise, family, friends, and…well… you. It’s hard to find even a second in the day that’s not already occupied and, on the rare occasions you do, the last thing you want to do is make a complicated dish. Yes, you deserve to treat yourself, but if it comes down to whether you’re going to spend two hours cooking after a long day or eat a bowl of cereal… well… we both know which you’re going to pick.

You admittedly have some easy recipes nailed, but they can get boring after a while if you’re not ‘changing things up’. But usually, when you hear that phrase it means adding an extra three hours onto your already tightly choreographed routine. Well, what if we told you that simply basting some new sauces onto the various meats you use would spice up (literally) your cooking? Here are some of the best store-bought sauces to help make your meals exciting again without adding any extra time to your cooking routine:

1) BBQ Sauces

A genuinely delicious BBQ sauce can be hard to find straight out of the bottle. Luckily for us, some celebrity chefs and experts have made public their favorite versions so we can get that finger licking taste we love without the hassle of following a complicated recipe:

stubb's bbq sauce

Photo Credit: Amazon

a) Stubb’s Original BBQ Sauce

Giada De Laurentiis, host of the Food Network’s show Giada At Home, told The Today Show that this was her favorite store-bought barbeque sauce because it’s the “Perfect balance of sweet and tangy with just a touch of warmth so everyone in the family can enjoy it….It’s so versatile I even use it in on eggs in the morning.”

sweet baby ray's sauce

Photo Credit: Target

b) Sweet Baby Ray’s Original BBQ Sauce

This little number appears fairly regularly on any top ten barbeque sauce list- and for good reason, too. Chef Lawrence Page of WE tv’s “Hustle & Soul” told Today, “I like the fact that the sauce is sweet, hence the name, and doesn’t have a heavy ketchup-like taste. For every cup of Sweet Baby Ray’s, I add two pinches of cayenne pepper, 1/4 cup Kentucky bourbon, 1 teaspoon ground white pepper and 1 teaspoon of dark Vermont maple syrup. The maple syrup really adds a nice sweet and smoky flavor to ribs when grilling!”

c) Trader Joe’s Kansas City BBQ Sauce

Another sauce that’s made its rounds on various platforms, including coming in as the number one ranked sauce on The Kitchn. It has a solid deep flavor that is just a tad bit sweet, perfect to add to your meat of choice. According to The Kitchn, some native southerners who tasted the sauce described it as feeling like home- doesn’t get much better than that!

2) Marinara Sauces

Any Italian grandmother will tell you how tough it is to find a good marinara sauce. In fact, if she found out you were getting them store-bought, she’d probably smack you with a wooden spoon. But, despite what Nana thinks, you can actually find some great marinara sauces pre-made.

a) Trader Giotto’s Traditional Marinara Sauce

This sauce is described by Thrillist as, “A hearty sauce, with strong, unabashed flavors — black pepper, fennel, oregano, parsley, fresh-cut basil — and large chunks of stewed tomatoes that maintained their dexterity from start to finish. It smelled wonderful poured over hot pasta, its barbecue-like sweetness cut with the lovely acidity of an aged Cabernet.”

Rao's homemade marinara

Photo Credit: Amazon

b) Rao’s Homemade Marinara

Rachel Ray Every Day ranked this sauce it’s number one spot among store-bought sauces, stating, “Rao’s Homemade Marinara has a complex flavor (spiced, but not too spiced) and a smooth texture we keep going back to. This splurgy sauce is great on its own, but to make it even more impressive, add meatballs or some fresh herbs.”

riserva marinara

Photo Credit: Walmart

c) Classico Riserva Marinara Pasta Sauce

The Chicago Tribune did their own taste test for several pasta sauces and this sauce ranked among the top three that they tried. They described the sauce as having a ‘bold, earthy flavor’ and a hint of sweetness.

3) Burger Sauces

When done well, burgers are one of the tastiest food groups around. But, when you’re making them at home, it can be easy to get stuck in a routine when you like what you’re doing. You have to change it up sometime though and simply adding these sauces to your routine can help you get out of your burger funk.

Photo Credit: Target

a) Aoili

Adding any variation of an aioli (whether it’s a garlic aioli, chipotle aioli, etc.) will add a creamy texture to the burger. This one, in particular, is made with chipotle peppers and has a very natural flavor- perfect for burgers, fries, or even sliders.

thousand island dressing

Photo Credit: Walmart

b) Thousand Island Dressing

This dressing may make you think more of a salad than a burger, but according to Saveur, “The classic blend of mayonnaise, pickle relish, and chili sauce goes beautifully with the flavor of charred beef.”

vermont maple sriracha

Photo Credit: Vermont Country Store

c) Vermont Maple Sriracha Sauce

If you’re an avid spicy food eater and you’re looking for your next favorite flavor, add a little bit of sweet to your spicy with a maple sriracha sauce. This one is made in Vermont (as you could probably guess) and has a mouthwatering balance between a medium-heat spiciness and a touch of sweetness. If this one, in particular, doesn’t appeal, look around in your local grocery store for a creamy maple sauce or some other sweet sauces to add to your burger. You’ll thank us for it.

‘Tis the season to be merry! While “being merry” for some may involve the enjoyment of festive adult beverages, or perhaps cozying up to someone with a warm mug of tea,  it’s also important to remember to keep properly hydrated at holiday time. In efforts to keep hydrated and also provide more drink options for your guests and their kids, why not give holiday infused water a try?

There are many varieties of flavored water on the market, but sometimes they get their natural flavor in not-so-natural ways. But it doesn’t have to be that way. All you need is a simple flavor infuser, water and a few fresh ingredients of your choice to make a delicious holiday drink that’s as crisp and refreshing as a new layer of snow on Christmas morning.

Check out these tried and true holiday-infused water recipes or get creative with festive flavor combinations of your own.

Apple Cinnamon Ginger Water

Nancy Creative was inspired to create infused water that’s as fitting for fall as it is winter. Fresh sliced apples are delicious, especially when combined with cinnamon sticks as the perfect combination. Looking to spice it up ever so slightly? Adding fresh ginger root will do the trick. Combine all ingredients into an infuser ball, refrigerate overnight and enjoy the next day! As Nancy mentions, if you squeeze fresh lemon juice on your apple slices before putting them in the infuser, they won’t turn brown, so your water creation will look fresh as can be!

Cranberry and Mint Water

This cranberry and mint water is courtesy Oh So Delicioso and it is just that…oh so delicious! The red of the cranberries and green of the fresh mint simply pull in the colors of Christmas into one festive, refreshing drink of water that’s made extra refreshing by the cooling mint. Combine fresh cranberries and mint and feel free to serve immediately!

If you’d prefer something with a bit more citrus flavor, combine the mint with grapefruit instead! According to The Chalkboard, a grapefruit is a great option for flavor as it helps to boost metabolism (ideal considering the holiday feast we’re all about to eat!), strengthens our immune system and has the power to reduce stress – even the stress from holiday gift shopping!

Sometimes it’s not easy to meet all of your water-drinking needs during the holiday season, but these creative holiday-infused water recipes make drinking water a bit more merry and bright.

No family hates pizza night, but they might get tired of the same old pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. Here are four pizza recipes to switch up your slice!

TACO QUESADILLA PIZZA (Source: Closet Cooking)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon homemade taco seasoning or 1/2 store-bought packet
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 (8 inch) tortillas
  • 2 cups cheese such as cheddar and/or jack, shredded
  • 1/2 cup refried beans
  • 3/4 cup salsa
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 tablespoons black olives, sliced
  • 4 green onions, sliced

Directions

  1. Brown the meat in a pan over medium heat, drain the excess grease, mix in seasoning and water and simmer until most of the liquid is gone–about 10 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese evenly over two tortillas followed by the meat and the 1/4 cup of the salsa.
  3. Spread the refried beans over the remaining two tortillas and place them on top of the meat covered ones with the bean sides down.
  4. Place one of the taco quesadillas in a large pan and grill it over medium heat until the cheese has melted and the tortillas are lightly golden brown, about 2-4 minutes per side.
  5. Place the taco quesadilla on a large baking sheet and repeat for the remaining taco quesadilla.
  6. Spread the remaining salsa over the tops of the taco quesadillas, sprinkle on the cheese, black olives, and green onions.
  7. Broil in a preheated oven until the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes. (Keep an eye on them so they do not burn!)

BUFFALO CHICKEN PIZZA STRIPS (Source: Inspired Taste)

Ingredients

  • 1 (13.8 ounce) roll Pillsbury Classic Pizza Crust or 12 ounces refrigerated pizza dough
  • 3/4 cup buffalo wing sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet (with sides) with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Form pizza dough into a 15-inch by 10-inch rectangle (this doesn’t have to be exact, just close). Place dough onto the baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes.
  3. While the pizza crust bakes, add buffalo wing sauce and shredded chicken to a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
  4. Spread the buffalo chicken over the pre-baked pizza crust then scatter the cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese and half of the sliced green onions on top.
  5. Bake the pizza 6 to 10 minutes until cheese has melted and starts to bubble. Scatter remaining sliced green onions on top. Then serve cut into 16 pizza sticks.

JAPANESE PIZZA (Source: Food and Wine)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 ounces shiitake mushrooms—stemmed, caps thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3 cups cooked sushi rice
  • 5 ounces firm tofu, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons unagi sauce (optional)
  • 1/3 cup shelled edamame
  • 5 ounces Manchego cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup soybean sprouts
  • Kosher salt
  • Togarashi and toasted white and black sesame seeds, for sprinkling
  • 1 cup large bonito flakes
  • 6 shiso leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375º. In a bowl, toss the mushrooms and soy sauce. Let stand for 5 minutes; drain.
  2. In a 9-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet, heat the oils. Press the rice into the skillet, about 1/4 inch thick. Cook over moderately high heat until the bottom is golden, 10 minutes.
  3. Top with the tofu in a single layer and drizzle with unagi Top with the shiitake, edamame, cheese and bean sprouts and season with salt. Sprinkle with togarashi and sesame seeds.
  4. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake on the top shelf for 15 minutes, until the top is golden.
  5. Slide the pizza onto a platter; top with the bonito, shiso and cilantro and serve.

OREO FUDGE BROWNIE PIZZA (Source: Dessert Now, Dinner Later)

Ingredients

For the Pizza:

  • 18 Oreos (for the bottom of the pizza pan)
  • 1 (13×9) family size box brownies
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oil

For the Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup Crisco shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup marshmallow creme or fluff
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 10 Oreos, chopped or quartered (depending on the size chunk you want on top)

Fudge Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • *optional 2 tsp HOT water

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix the brownie mix, eggs, water, & oil well.
  2. Lightly grease a 12″ rimmed pizza pan (I used a foil one from the dollar store.) Place 18 Oreos in the bottom of the pan. Pour brownie batter over and around the Oreos to evenly fill the pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes (check doneness with a toothpick.) Remove from oven to cool.
  4. While the brownies bake and cool, make the frosting by beating the shortening and butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attached (or a hand mixer.) Mix in marshmallow creme and vanilla. Slowly mix in powdered sugar. Spread frosting evenly over top of the brownies. Top with chopped Oreos.
  5. Combine the ingredients for the fudge sauce in a bowl. Heat in the microwave for 40 seconds. Stir and drizzle over the brownie pizza. Add water if needed, for a thinner drizzle.

Remember to use our pizza cutter for best results!

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It’s Tuesday night and your kids are begging for something special for dessert. You don’t have time to make cookies, but you don’t want to spend the money to go out for ice cream. What do you do? Make some tasty mug desserts, of course!

MICROWAVE JELLY DONUT 

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted Butter
  • 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • yolk of one egg
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry jam (or any fruit flavor you prefer)
  • Cinnamon sugar to garnish

Directions

  1. Place butter into a microwavable mug and microwave for 20-25 seconds, until melted.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients; mix well with a fork until just combined
  3. Once the batter is mixed place the spoonful of jam down into the batter
  4. Microwave for 45 seconds or until is firm on top (time may vary, depending on microwave power).
  5. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top and enjoy immediately.

S’MORES MUG CAKE 

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp graham cracker flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 Tablespoons of milk
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon graham cracker crumbles
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon of one-inch chocolate squares, halved
  • 3 large marshmallows (you can roast them on your stovetop if you have a gas stove)

Directions

  1. Combine flour, powdered graham crackers, baking powder, oil, milk, and sugar into a microwave-safe mug at least 8 oz in size.
  2.  Mix with a small whisk until no flour chunks remain. Stir in graham cracker crumbles and 1 tbsp of chocolate disc halves. Add remaining chocolate discs on top of the batter.
  3. Cook in the microwave for about 1 minute. Top of cake should look done and the surface of the cake should be dry rather than gooey.
  4. Add marshmallows on top to the still-warm cake, pushing down slightly so that the marshmallows partially melt onto the cake surface. Serve immediately.

FUNFETTI MUG CAKE

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon rainbow sprinkles

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and baking powder until thoroughly, completely combined, with no streaks of any ingredients remaining.
  2. Blend in milk, butter, vanilla, and almond extract until batter is smooth. Quickly stir in 1 tablespoon of sprinkles.
  3. Pour batter into a 14-ounce (or larger) microwave-safe mug with straight sides. Top with remaining 1 teaspoon sprinkles.
  4. Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes (give or take 30 seconds depending on the strength of your microwave), or until cake is done to your liking. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

SINGLE SERVING APPLE CRISP (Source: Well Floured)

Ingredients

  • 1 small gala apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

  1. In a small microwave-safe bowl combine the apples, granulated sugar, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
  2. Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, and remaining 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
  3. Add the melted butter and stir to combine everything.
  4. Top apples with the oat mixture.
  5. Microwave on high 90 – 120 seconds. Careful- the bowl will be HOT!
  6. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Remember: Each of these recipes makes one mug dessert. And make sure to use our Bowl Holder to avoid burns when removing from the microwave!

Vegans have a rough time with desserts. Eggs, milk, and butter dominate the course and prevent indulgence. But there are still options for those avoiding animal products, such as screwball cake. This chocolate confection earns its name by lacking the three above ingredients, making it a bit “screwy.” Delicious plain or with berries, this cake is easy and rewarding.

screwball cake stack

INGREDIENTS:

-1 1/2 cup flour
-1/3 cup cocoa
-1 cup sugar
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/3 cup vegetable oil
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1 teaspoon vinegar
-1 cup cold water OR cold coffee

screwball cake mix

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat your oven to 350.
2. In an 8×8 glass pan, sift together the dry ingredients.
3. Make three holes in the mixture using a spoon.
4. Add wet ingredients to the holes: oil in one hole, vanilla in another, and vinegar in the last one. The holes may overflow, don’t worry.
5. Pour the water or coffee on top of everything.
6. Mix together until combined (try to make it as smooth as possible, but a few small lumps are OK).
7. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

After it’s cooled, you can frost it, if so desired. The cake will keep for a week and remain moist if covered well. For a 9×13 pan, double the recipe.

For best results, prepare using Jokari Measuring Spoons!

Did you know you can use your favorite sodas in desserts? Here are two recipes that use Pepsi and Mountain Dew to create mouthwatering, indulgent sweets!

soda chocolate cake

DOUBLE FUDGE CHOCOLATE PEPSI CAKE (TIME: 55 MINUTES, SERVES 16-20)

Ingredients:

-1 cup Pepsi
-½ cup vegetable oil
-1 stick butter
-3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
-2 cups sugar
-2 cups flour
-4 oz melted bakers’ chocolate
-1 tbsp. vanilla extract
-1 tsp. baking soda
-½ cup buttermilk
-2 large eggs

1)Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 pan.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together flour and sugar.

3) In a large saucepan, melt the oil and butter before adding Pepsi and cocoa powder and bringing to a boil. Once it starts to boil, remove from heat and slowly pour into the flour/sugar mix, using a handheld or standing mixer. Allow batter to cool.

4) Add bakers’ chocolate, vanilla extract, buttermilk, and eggs. Lastly, pour in your baking soda.

5)Pour into greased pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool before topping it with your favorite chocolate frosting. Make sure you use our bottle pump or can cover on your leftover Pepsi!

soda apple dumplings

MOUNTAIN DEW APPLE DUMPLINGS (TIME: 55 MINUTES, SERVES 16)

Ingredients:

2 8-count cans of crescent rolls
3-4 tart apples
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 12-oz can of Mountain Dew

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 pan.

2) Peel and slice apples into sixteen even pieces.

3) Roll each apple in one section of crescent roll.

4) Place into the pan in two rows, with extras lining the sides.

5) Melt the butter. Mix in the sugar and cinnamon and brush over the dumplings.

6) Pour Mountain Dew over the entire dish

7) Bake for 45 minutes.

This goes great with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream but is wonderful on its own. Our Mountain Dew pump cap will make sure your soda stays bubbly before using it!