Super Easy M&M Cake Bars {just 5 ingredients}

Heading to a Valentine’s Day party, or just need a treat for the kids’ lunchboxes? These Super Easy M&M Cake Bars only have five ingredients (one is water!), and they’re quick to make. Another option is to use your favorite team’s colors, and put them out with your Game Day food.

Super Easy M&M Cake Bars | Just 5 ingredients and perfect for Valentines | MoneywiseMoms

Super Easy M&M Cake Bars
  • 1 box yellow cake mix (or substitute your favorite flavor)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 cup M&Ms
  1. Mix cake mix and wet ingredients together, using a hand mixer, until smooth.
  2. Spread into a 9x12 baking dish, prepared with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Sprinkle the M&Ms on the top and press lightly into the batter (see note below for alternative).
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees, or until edges are golden brown and pulling away from pan.
  5. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

To get the brightest colors, press the M&Ms into the top of the batter. Another option is to fold them gently into the batter before filling the pan. It’s not quite as pretty that way, but then the M&Ms are distributed throughout the top and bottom. (Most kids gobble them up before noticing where exactly the M&Ms are placed.)


 Linked up to Pin Junkie Pin Party at The Pin Junkie, Good Tips Tuesday at A Bird and a Bean, Tasty Tuesdays at Creative K Kids, Monday Funday at Uncommon Designs, Craftastic Monday at Sew Can Do, SITS GirlsWeekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now, Pin Party at Pin Junkie and Tis the Season Linkup at Bon Bon Girls.

Italian Pesto Rice {with Minute® Rice}

Thank you to Minute® Rice for sponsoring this recipe post.
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Oh, the holiday parties and sweets! It’s so hard to eat healthy during this festive season. For a holiday party we’re attending next week, we’re bringing this delicious Italian Pesto Rice. This healthy, savory dish is a nice contrast to all the indulgences we’re eating right now.

Italian Pesto Rice | #MinuteHoliday | MoneywiseMoms

I was happy to work with Minute® Rice because I’m passionate about helping moms get healthy dinners on the table, and this shortcut makes it faster and easier. One of the biggest hassles of “eating brown” is how darn long it takes to make brown rice! Who has 45-60 minutes to wait? Give Minute® Rice Brown Rice a try. It only takes 10 minutes to prepare and has the same nutritional value as regular long-cooking brown rice. My kids love the fluffy texture.

Italian Pesto Rice | #MinuteHoliday | MoneywiseMoms

With Minute® Rice on hand, you can have a whole-grain side ready in just 10 minutes. Or, use Minute® Rice Brown Rice as the base for any number of great recipes. Find over 400 easy recipe ideas at the Minute® Rice website. This Italian Pesto Rice comes together so quickly! While the rice is cooking–for 5 minutes, then sitting for 5 minutes–prep the other ingredients. Then, stir it all together for a flavorful, robust rice dish that’s great on its own or a heartier meal when you add chicken or Italian sausage on top.

Italian Pesto Rice | #MinuteHoliday | MoneywiseMoms


Italian Pesto Rice
Serves: 6 servings
  • 2 cups Minute® Rice Brown Rice, uncooked
  • 3/4 cup basil pesto
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (optional)
  1. Prepare rice according to box directions.
  2. While rice is cooking, slice tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.
  3. Add basil pesto to cooked rice, stir well to combine.
  4. Add tomatoes and cheese to rice. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  5. Add chopped basil leaves for a stronger flavor (we like this but the kids don't).

I like to serve Italian Pesto Rice warm with some extra protein, but we’ve also enjoyed it as a vegetarian lunch served cold. Either way, it’s yummy!

Italian Pesto Rice | #MinuteHoliday | MoneywiseMoms

There are so many ways to include Minute® Rice in your busy weeknight meals. I’m going to see how the kids like the new Minute® Rice Multi-Grain Medley, which includes brown, Thai red, and wild rice along with quinoa for a completely gluten-free whole grain side.

Minute Rice Varieties | Italian Pesto Rice Recipe | MoneywiseMoms

Linked up to Real Food Recipe Roundup at JoLynneShane, Tis the Season at Krystal’s Kitsch, On Display Thursday at Average But Inspired, Whatever Goes Wednesday at Someday Crafts, SITS Girls linky and Wow Me Wednesday at Ginger Snap Crafts.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Minute® Rice.

Pork, White Bean & Kale Soup {Smithfield Marinated Pork}

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Smithfield®, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #PutPorkontheMenu

Pork White Bean Kale Soup with Smithfield Marinated Pork | MoneywiseMoms

When you want to put an easy, home-cooked meal on the table for your family, wholesome shortcuts can be a big help. Instead of remembering to defrost a roast and planning to marinate for hours, just pick up Smithfield Marinated Pork. All seven varieties–like Mesquite Pork Loin, Portobello Mushroom Flavor Filet, and Peppercorn & Garlic Tenderloin–are so easy. You can WOW your family (or guests) and just grilling or baking via the directions on the package. It’s ready to go, as a timesaver and with no stress!

Pork White Bean Kale Soup with Smithfield Marinated Pork | MoneywiseMoms

I picked up the Garlic & Herb Pork Loin Filet at Walmart. Since each package is about 3 lbs., I cut the roast in half and will cook the rest another night (easy dinner!).

With the pork already marinated, I wanted to try this Pork, White Bean and Kale Soup recipe, adapted from Eating Well. Confession time! With all my healthy and “real food” eating, I have never tried kale, and I have never given it to the family. I’d heard that kale could be bitter, so I figured it would be great to introduce it to the family soaked in a delicious broth (and I was right!).

Pork White Bean Kale Soup with Smithfield Marinated Pork | MoneywiseMoms

The combination of textures in this soup is fantastic! The beans are smooth, soaking up the fragrant broth. The kale is lightly crunchy, which everyone enjoyed. The pork and onions have a little chew to them; I just love soups with lots of layers like this. As an added bonus, my house smelled amazing while this was cooking. Yum!

The cooking time is short on this soup–so be sure and prep all your ingredients ahead of time. I had them lined up next to me at the stove, so I could keep stirring and just add them as needed.

Pork White Bean Kale Soup with Smithfield Marinated Pork | MoneywiseMoms

Whether you try this Pork, White Bean and Kale Soup or just want an easy pork roast dinner, print yourself a coupon for .75 off one Smithfield Marinated Pork product, while supplies last. You can also find more easy recipes and inspiration at the Smithfield website.

Pork, White Bean and Kale Soup

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound Smithfield Garlic & Herb Pork Loin (half of package)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bunch kale, ribs removed, chopped (about 8 cups lightly packed)
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
  1. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until no longer pink on the outside, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate with tongs, leaving juices in the pot.
  2. Add onion to the pot and cook, stirring often, until just beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic, paprika and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Add wine and tomatoes, increase heat to high and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Add kale and stir just until it wilts. Reduce heat to maintain a strong simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is just tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in the beans and the reserved pork with its juices. Simmer until the beans and pork are heated through, about 2 minutes.

See what other fabulous recipes you can make with Smithfield Marinated Pork. Look for #PutPorkonthe Menu on Twitter and Facebook.


Recipe linked up to The SITS GirlsWeekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now, Whatever Goes Wednesday at seven thirty three, Tasty Tuesdays at Creative K Kids and Real Food Recipe Roundup at Jo Lynne Shane.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Pie

It’s pumpkin season, and after you’ve baked Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins and Pumpkin Pancakes and all the other yummy things out there, it’s time for pumpkin pie. But why stick with traditional pumpkin pie? This Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Pie adds a delicious swirl of flavor and takes your pie from traditional to WOW.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Pie | MoneywiseMoms
5.0 from 2 reviews
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Pie
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 package (8 oz) plus 1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Place pie crust in 9-inch glass pie plate as directed on package for one-crust filled pie. Bake about 8 minutes or until light golden brown.
  2. In large bowl, beat sugar, flour and cream cheese with electric mixer on low speed until smooth; reserve 1/2 cup in small bowl. Add remaining ingredients except milk to cream cheese mixture. Beat on medium speed, scraping bowl constantly, until smooth. Pour into crust.
  3. Stir milk into reserved cream cheese mixture. Spoon over pumpkin mixture. Cut through cream cheese and pumpkin mixtures with knife in S-shaped curves in one continuous motion for marbled design. Turn pie plate one-fourth turn and repeat.
  4. Cover edge of crust with 2- to 3-inch strip of foil to prevent excessive browning; remove foil for last 15 minutes of baking. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes.
  5. Cover loosely and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. Store covered in refrigerator.


If you don’t have the individual spices, just substitute 1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice. This pie has become our family’s Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, just a little more “fancy” than the regular one with hardly any extra work. My kind of recipe!

Find more easy desserts on my Sweets & Treats Pinterest board.


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Pie is linked up to Weekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now, Whimsy Wednesday at Smart School House, Wow Me Wednesday at Ginger Snap Crafts, Tasty Tuesdays at Creative K Kids, Take-A-Look Tuesday at Sugar Bee Crafts, Fluster’s Creative Muster Party at Fluster Buster, Inspiration Monday Party at Twelve O Eight, Real Food Recipe Roundup  at Musings of a Housewife, Marvelous Monday at Smart Party Planning, Monday Funday at Uncommon Designs, Manic Monday Linky Party at Serendipity and Spice, and Made by You Monday at Skip to my Lou. 

Tuscan Chicken Soup {Slow Cooker}

I’m so glad we’re heading into fall. While I use my slow cooker all year round, I do avoid soups and stews during most of the year. With some cooler temps, it’s a great time to try some new soup recipes. This Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken Soup has become a new favorite at my house–filled with my family’s favorite vegetables like red peppers, mushrooms and spinach. It’s a very easy recipe that makes a great healthy dinner!

Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken Soup

5.0 from 2 reviews
Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken Soup
Serves: 6 servings
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken, cubed
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 7oz jar roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz fresh baby spinach, chopped
  1. Add all ingredients except spinach to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.
  3. Add spinach, stir, and cover. Cook for 10 more minutes or until spinach is wilted.

I usually serve soups with carbs on the side (like one of these 10 Sensations Sides for Soups & Stews). That way, the kids can carb-load while the adults take it easily. Alternately, you could add cubed potatoes for a more stew-like broth, or serve this soup with cooked rice or pasta.

Looking for more easy Slow Cooker Meals? Follow my Slow Cooker & Crockpot Pinterest Board.

Linked up to Weekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now, Wow Me Wednesday at Ginger Snap Crafts, Whimsy Wednesday at Smart School House, Fluster’s Creative Muster Party at Fluster Buster, Too Cute Tuesday at Funky Polkadot Giraffe, Pinterest Foodie at Real: The Kitchen and Beyond, Real Food Recipes Roundup at Musings of a Housewife and Made by You Mondays at Skip to My Lou.

Tortellini Chickpea Pasta Salad {Cookbook Giveaway}

Tortellini Chickpea Pasta Salad

Easy, healthy meals on a budget–it’s a goal for many of us. I’m excited to share a great new cookbook with you–GoodCheapEats by Jessica Fisher–to help you meet this goal around your busy family. You may already be familiar with Jessica Fisher from the blogs Good Cheap Eats and Life As Mom. She’s all about making the most of what you have, whether that’s time with family, money in the bank, or food on hand. She has six kids and is passionate about budget-friendly meals that taste good. I received a copy of GoodCheapEats for review and have been working my way through the recipes, to my family’s delight.

Good Cheap Eats - budget friendly meals |MoneywiseMoms
GoodCheapEats is filled with strategies and tips alongside the great recipes, all focusing on how to shop smart and eat well on a budget. My family just loved this Tortellini Chickpea Pasta Salad, found on page 268 (or print it below). It’s the kind of pasta salad that’s tasty either warm or chilled. It will store in the fridge for up to four days.


4.4 from 5 reviews
Tortellini-Chickpea Pasta Salad
Serves: 4 servings
  • 12oz. cheese tortellini (fresh, dried or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas (rinsed & drained if canned)
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 (10oz) package grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped peeled carrots
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the tortellini according tot he package directions. Drain and let cool slightly.
  2. In a small jar or bowl, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Place the lid on the jar and shake well or whisk until smooth. Add the olive oil and shake or whisk again to emulsify.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the tortellini, chickpeas, spinach, tomatoes, and carrots. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Adjust the seasonings as desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

The GoodCheapEats Cookbook is out right now! Find it at Amazon, and purchase a copy in paperback or for Kindle.

Win the GoodCheapEats Cookbook
One lucky MoneywiseMoms reader will get a copy of the brand new GoodCheapEats cookbook. For a chance to win, just check out this preview PDF of the book, and pick one of the recipes you’l like to try:

To enter, take a look at GoodCheapEats’ Table of Contents and tell me one recipe you’d like to try.

If you’re reading this in an email subscription, you’ll need to click over to the blog to enter. One entry per person, please. This giveaway ends Wednesday, September 17th, at midnight EST. Good luck!


Linked up to Thrifty Thursday at Living Well Spending Less, Thrifty Thursday at The Thrifty Couple, Show & Tell at Gingerly Made, Inspire Me Wednesday at seventhirtythree, the Real Food Recipe Roundup at Sassy Moms in the City and Pinterest Foodie at Real: The Kitchen and Beyond.

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review. The publisher is providing the prize for this giveaway. I’ve also used an affiliate link to Amazon; thanks for supporting MoneywiseMoms at no additional cost to you!

7 Homemade Muffin Recipes – Lunchbox & Afterschool Snacks

Homemade Muffin Recipes | Easy #realfood #recipes for lunchboxes and afterschool snacks | MoneywiseMoms
Thinking about all the snacks and treats your kids will go through this school year? Rather than spend a lot on pre-packaged snacks, consider these homemade muffin recipes. We take a little time on the weekend to bake up a batch of muffins, then put some aside for lunchboxes and afterschool snacks. The rest go in the freezer to use another week. Each of these recipes uses real foods and include fruit and fiber, so they’re healthier than what you’re seeing advertised right now for back to school season. Plus, by making them at home, you’re saving a lot of money.

For our lunchboxes, I like to use a standard mini muffin pan, since the smaller muffins fit nicely. As a rule of thumb, if a recipe doesn’t have directions for mini muffins, cut the time to 2/3 of the regular-sized, then check it for doneness with a toothpick.

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Muffin Recipe | Easy #realfood #recipes for lunchboxes and afterschool snacks | MoneywiseMoms
These Whole Wheat Cinnamon Muffins have a crispy, sweet edge and a wonderful flavor.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffin Recipe | Easy #realfood #recipes for lunchboxes and afterschool snacks | MoneywiseMoms
Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins are easily made with either fresh blueberries (still in season now!) or a bag of frozen ones (the rest of the year).

Chocolate Banana Muffin Recipe | Easy #realfood #recipes for lunchboxes and afterschool snacks | MoneywiseMoms
These Chocolate Banana Muffins look rich and indulgent, but they’re still made with whole wheat.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin Recipe | Easy #realfood #recipe for lunchboxes and afterschool snacks | MoneywiseMoms
My kids love these Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. They’re a fall favorite!

Banana Blueberry Breakfast Muffin Recipe | Easy #realfood #recipes for lunchboxes and afterschool snacks | MoneywiseMoms
These Banana Blueberry Breakfast Muffins have the protein of Greek yogurt and fiber from oatmeal and whole wheat flour. They make a great on-the-go breakfast if you make them full-sized.

Brown Sugar Maple Muffin Recipe | Easy #realfood #recipes for lunchboxes and afterschool snacks | MoneywiseMoms
Brown Sugar & Maple Muffins are delicate and just the right amount of sweet.

Whole Wheat Banana Muffin Recipe | Easy #realfood #recipes for lunchboxes and afterschool snacks | MoneywiseMoms
This Whole Wheat Banana Muffins recipe is so simple, it’s a great way to get started with making your own.

What are your favorite homemade muffins recipes?


 Linked up to Real Food Recipe Roundup at Sassy Moms in the City, Whatever Goes Wednesday at Someday Crafts, and Inspire Me Wednesday at Seven Thirty-Three.

Microwave Creamy Tortellini {Deep Covered Baker}

I’m always on the lookout for easy weeknight dinners, like this Microwave Creamy Tortellini that is ready in less than 30 minutes thanks to the Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker. If you like my Chicken Tomato Pasta, give this one a try. It’s another pasta-with-veggies-in-sauce recipe, which is a great formula for success at my house. Yours, too?

Microwave Creamy Tortellini
Microwave Creamy Tortellini with Ham & Peas
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8oz ham, diced
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 16oz frozen cheese tortellini
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. In a microwave-safe container (I use a large glass bowl), combine butter and flour and whisk until smooth. Add garlic and milk and whisk well.
  2. Microwave, covered, on high 3-4 minutes or until thickened, stirring every 60 seconds.
  3. Add cheese; whisk until smooth.
  4. Add ham and pepper to sauce. Mix well, then set aside.
  5. Combine tortellini and broth in Deep Covered Baker. Microwave on high 12-15 minutes or until tortellini are tender, stirring every 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add cheese sauce to Baker, mix well. Stir in peas.
  7. Microwave, covered, on high 2-3 minutes or until heated through.
  8. Cover and let stand 2-3 minutes.


While this isn’t a one-dish recipe (it’s only two!), it’s still weeknight-easy and a new take on mac-and-cheese (which my kids never tire of, but I do). Serve it with a side salad for a great dinner. You can also replace the peas with another vegetable if your family prefers (like cut green beans or fresh baby spinach).

Looking for more Deep Covered Baker microwave recipes? See my DCB Recipes Pinterest Board, where all the recipes I’ve pinned are microwave-only and use whole/real foods:

Follow Gina Lincicum (MoneywiseMoms)’s board Deep Covered Baker Recipes on Pinterest.

Microwave Creamy Tortellini is linked up to TypeAParentFluster’s Creative Muster Party at Fluster Buster, Real Food Recipe Roundup at Musings of a Housewife and Made by You Monday at Skip to My Lou.

Parmesan Tuna Sandwiches

Feeding the kids in the summer is a little easier than packing all those lunchboxes. This summer, I’ve put a different child in charge of choosing and preparing lunch each weekday. My son (10 years old) likes to make these Parmesan Tuna Sandwiches because the prep is easy (just a can opener), and they’re a zesty take on an old standby. What a great way to liven up the a lunch sandwich rut! If you don’t have fresh basil (love that summer garden!), just used the dried spice.

Parmesan Tuna Sandwiches - easy way to jazz up your #lunchbox - MoneywiseMoms

5.0 from 1 reviews
Parmesan Tuna Sandwiches
  • 2 cans tuna in water, drained and chunked
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 6 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 2 tsp dried)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • Bread/rolls of choice
  1. In a bowl, stir together tuna, mayonnaise, cheese, basil, and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Serve on sandwich bread or roll.


This recipe makes 4 regular sandwiches or 2 giant ones (the way my son and husband like to eat it). I had mine on boring whole wheat bread, but this Parmesan Tuna would also be great in a pita bread or on top of a green salad.


This Parmesan Tuna Sandwiches recipe is linked up to Pinterest Foodie at Real: The Kitchen and Beyond, Real Food Recipe Roundup at Sassy Moms in the City, Monday Funday at Uncommon Designs, Inspiration Monday at i should be mopping the floor, and Made by You Monday at Skip to My Lou.