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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Um, Happy Halloween?  We wouldn't know anyone about it in these parts - all festivities, trick-or-treating, etc. has been postponed due to the dangerous conditions left as a result of Hurricane Sandy.  Power outages and floods are the norm, wires and trees are down everywhere, and the worst part - many people have lost their homes and other prized possessions - some, even their lives :(

I baked a batch of these delicious things in anticipation of the hurricane.  Needless to say, they've made things a bit brighter around here.



Continued thoughts and prayers to everyone dealing with the awful after-effects of this storm.



White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cookies
from Bake Your Day

2 1/4 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a bowl.

In bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with paddle attachment), cream butter and sugars.  Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly.  Slowly add dry ingredients.  Fold in chips.

Drop with teaspoon onto parchment lined cookie sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes on sheet before removing.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Linked to:  Sweets for a Saturday




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Monday, October 29, 2012

Stay safe, everyone!

Just a quick post this morning while my area of the country is bracing ourselves for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.  Things are already looking bad, and it hasn't even really begun :(  PLEASE be careful out there...we will be back soon!



Friday, October 26, 2012

Quick Black Forest Cake

Happy Friday!  Any fun and spooky weekend plans?


There's chatter over something more than just Halloween in my neck of the woods.  Apparently, there's a crazy hurricane on the way here.  This will make 2 years in a row that a freak storm will have ruined October 31st and all that goes along with it.  Some say it's still too soon to tell, but the mobs of people packed into the grocery stores believe otherwise.


I don't know about you, but when there's threat of a massive power outage, I believe it's time to stock up on sweets.  This can be whipped up in an instant, and will definitely keep you safe and cozy while you worry about a tree falling on top of your house :/


Quick Black Forest Cake
heavily adapted from Allrecipes

1 box devil's food cake mix
3 eggs
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
chocolate frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix cake mix, eggs, almond extract and chocolate chips.  Stir until just combined.  Pour equal amounts into two prepared 9 inch round pans.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let layers cool completely.  Place one layer on serving dish, then top with cherry pie filling.  Add top layer, then frost cake.




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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pumpkin Granola

...and so begins The Great Pumpkin Dilemma.


You cook or bake something with pumpkin and end up with leftover pumpkin.  What to make...what to make?


I think you'll be seeing a lot of "pumpkin dilemma" posts here in the next few weeks :)


Pumpkin Granola
from Baked Bree

5 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine oats, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar in a large bowl.  In another bowl, combine pumpkin, syrup, applesauce and vanilla.  Pour wet mixture into dry mixture, and toss until oats are all coated.

Spread granola evenly onto a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and stir around.  Bake for another 20 minutes or until granola gets crisp.  Take out of oven and let cool for 2 minutes, then add cranberries and almonds and mix.



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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dijon Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables

Well, you all know how much we love pork tenderloin in this house...this is yet another delicious way to prepare it.  I added fennel to the butternut squash for a little kick, and just like that - a wonderful fall meal.  

Soooo easy!!  Soooo good.


Dijon Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables
adapted from Tastebook

1 pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into chunks (fronds and stems removed)
1 large onion, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Rub mustard all over pork, then cover in pepper.  Place pork in center of roasting pan or baking sheet.

Put squash, fennel and onion in a bowl.  Add oil, salt and pepper and toss to mix evenly.  Spread vegetables all around pork.  Cook for about 40 minutes.  Let pork rest for 5 minutes before cutting.



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Monday, October 22, 2012

Meatless Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Happy Monday!  What was the highlight of your weekend?

Since I know some of you like to "go meatless" on Mondays, I figured I'd post this today.

I recently made these to drop off to good friends for a ready-to-go meal during a time of need (hence the aluminum tin...sorry!).  They were so delicious that I had to keep one for myself :)  Feel free to add meat if you like...but you definitely don't miss it with this great combo of beans and veggies.


These can be made ahead and transported easily, too.  A great weeknight meal...especially on Meatless Monday!


Meatless Mexican Stuffed Peppers
3 bell peppers, cut lengthwise and seeded
2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried cilantro (I didn't have fresh on hand but it would be great, too!)
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat oil in a skillet, then add onion and garlic.  Saute for a few minutes, then add rice, corn and beans.  Add all spices and mix.  Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Place peppers in a baking pan and fill each half with rice mixture.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and add cheese on top.  Return to oven and cook another 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Serve.



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Friday, October 19, 2012

No Shell Taco Salad

It's recipe swap time again!  This time, for Blogger's Choice, I was assigned Tina's blog, Tasty Treats by Tina.  I had a few things bookmarked, but ultimately I chose a dish that I threw together with some leftovers that made a great lunch!

Normally I wouldn't think of putting cucumbers in a taco salad, but like I said, I was basically cleaning out the fridge with this one :)  So, anything goes...feel free to toss in whatever you have on hand.  I would have loved some jalapenos in here...and olives...what can I say, I was overdue to go shopping!


Obviously, a shell would be fantastic for this (or even chips underneath) - but if you're keeping it low carb, this is the way to go!  You don't even miss the carbs with this one.  Thanks for a great salad, Tina!


No Shell Taco Salad
adapted from Tasty Treats by Tina

1 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
1/4 chopped onion
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 avocado, cut into chunks
1/2 cucumber, sliced
cherry tomatoes
romaine lettuce
shredded cheddar cheese
salsa
sour cream

Place meat to a large skillet and cook over medium high heat.  Add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and stir to combine while cooking.  Once fully cooked, remove from pan and drain fat.

Combine all veggies in a bowl.  Add meat and cheese.  Mix salsa and sour cream in a small bowl, and use as dressing for salad.


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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Easy Apple Pie

What's better than an easy dish - especially when you have a newborn at home?


That's exactly why I chose to use this recipe for my guest post at The Keenan Cookbook!  Click here to  read more, and be sure to give the Keenans a big congrats on their new addition!

Linked to:  Sweets for a Saturday

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Quick Pumpkin Soup

I love soup.  Especially when I'm under the weather.  And for the past few years (coincidentally, since Bella started school) my first cold of the season has been right around this time.  It's a great reason to try out new soup recipes...and this one is a keeper!

I skipped the "extras" since I wasn't really up for cooking, but would definitely add them next time.  It was really good without them, though.


Fall in a bowl...love it :)


Quick Pumpkin Soup
slightly adapted from The Humble Gourmet

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, smashed
4 cups chicken stock/broth
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 cup pancetta, fried until crunchy (I omitted, but will definitely add next time!)
Basil Oil (recipe follows, and I omitted this too)

Heat oil over medium high heat in a large saucepan, then add garlic and brown.  Add stock and bring to boil.  Add pumpkin and mix well.  Add chile powder, paprika and salt.  Mix well.

Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer, and cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat and add creme fraiche.  Using an immersion blender or stand blender, puree soup until smooth.  Serve immediately with pancetta and oil on top.



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Monday, October 15, 2012

Maple Roasted Chicken & Sweet Potatoes

Fall.  Have I mentioned it's my favorite season?  And for so many reasons.  With one of the biggest being - the FOOD.

After all, it's always all about the food...isn't it?


Maple Roasted Chicken & Sweet Potatoes
slightly adapted from Handle the Heat

6 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
1 yellow onion, cut in wedges
3 sweet potatoes, cut in chunks
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange chicken, onion and potatoes in a 9x13 baking dish.  Drizzle oil over chicken and vegetables and season with salt, pepper and thyme.  Toss to coat.  Drizzle with syrup.

Roast until chicken is cooked through, about 70-75 minutes.  Turn vegetables halfway through.  Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.



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Friday, October 12, 2012

Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes (What's Baking?)

Pumpkin stuff.  Awesome.


And somewhat "healthified".  Even better!


By the way, I doubled the original recipe...and got 72 of these bad boys.  Needless to say, there were a lot of happy coworkers in 2 different offices.


Eva from Eva Bakes is the host of our What's Baking? group this month.  She challenged us to bake something delicious with pumpkin and/or sweet potatoes.  Can't wait to see the roundup at the end of the month!  Make sure you check it out, too!


Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes
from Two Peas and their Pod

for the donuts:
1 3/4 cups AP flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk

for the coating:
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 24 cup mini-muffin tray with cooking spray.

Add flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves to a bowl and mix.  In another bowl, combine oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk.  Mix until smooth.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

While muffins bake, stir sugar and cinnamon together.  Place butter in a bowl and sugar mixture in another.  Remove muffins from oven and let cool for 2 minutes.  Dip each muffin into butter first, then coat with sugar mixture.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Linked to:  Sweets for a Saturday



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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Baked Salmon with Basil Mayonnaise & Tomatoes

It must be October!  I have my first cold of the season.  It's actually more than just a cold...it feels like someone twisted my neck and upper back and then threw something at my head before sticking it down my throat.

How's that for a description?  Hope it's a good enough explanation for not writing a new blog post these past few days.  I'm hoping to get some rest today, aside from my plan to make the soup that cures everything.  And I'll continue to drink gallons of hot tea.  Flush it out, I say ;)


But enough about me.  Let's move on to the delicious stuff.  I made this dish back in August, when tomatoes were still in their heyday...but since they're baked, you could make this anytime and still yield a good result.  We really loved this and plan on making it again soon.


Baked Salmon with Basil Mayonnaise & Tomatoes
from Life's Ambrosia

2 salmon filets
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
tomato slices
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
10 basil leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray.  Place salmon on sheet and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic.  Place tomatoes on top of salmon and drizzle with oil.  Bake for about 10 minutes.

Combine mayonnaise, basil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.  Mix well and refrigerate until ready to use.

Remove salmon from oven.  Tent foil on top of fish and leave covered for 10 minutes.  Remove fish carefully from pan and plate.  Dollop mayonnaise on top of tomatoes and serve.



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Monday, October 8, 2012

Creamy Crockpot Salsa Chicken (Secret Recipe Club)

The Secret Recipe Club is back!  And my assignment this month was A Little Nosh, Amy's blog.  I'm very familiar with it because I often participate in her Tastetastic Thursdays (when I remember, that is!).  Amy has a wide variety of recipes on her blog, but I went with something that was essentially "back to basics", although a slightly different version that I'm used to.

Life has been a bit crazy lately, so this really worked out well for us last week after I was running around all day, then needed to head out to (our first!) Back to School night.  I think it took about 90 seconds to throw together.  Yeah, can't beat that.

The cream cheese definitely gives it a nice touch...better than a version I've made in the past without it.  Served over brown rice - done!


Thanks for a great recipe, Amy!


Creamy Crockpot Salsa Chicken
slightly adapted from A Little Nosh

3 large boneless chicken breasts (frozen is fine!)
1 (15 ounce) can of corn, drained
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained (which I would have GLADLY added, if Frank ate beans...)
1/2 block cream cheese, cut into chunks

Place chicken in crockpot, followed by corn, salsa and beans.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours.  About 30 minutes before eating, add cream cheese and stir.  Serve over rice.


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Friday, October 5, 2012

Breakfast Grilled Cheese

Our latest recipe swap theme was breakfast.  And I never would have thought a simple sandwich would make me so happy!  I haven't been eating much for breakfast lately, so this was a nice break from my rut.

Jenna from Jenna's Cooking Journey submitted this recipe.  For some, it might seem like an odd combination, but I promise you that it's far from that.  Even if you aren't a fan of goat cheese, this is worth trying...it may convert you to the other side.



Breakfast Grilled Cheese
from Jenna's Cooking Journey

1 egg
salt and pepper
2 slices of bread (I used whole wheat)
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese (or a few tablespoons of smooth)
1 tablespoon pesto (homemade or store bought)
2 pats butter

Scramble egg, seasoning with salt and pepper while cooking.  Add goat cheese to one side of bread, and pesto to the other.  Place egg on either piece, then close sandwich.

Add butter to each side of bread and place in preheated panini press.  Cook until desired toasted level is reached.


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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Confetti Cake Baked Donuts

I FINALLY got a donut pan!  Hallelujah!

And look how Bella and I christened it.


Aren't they pretty?  Easy to make, too.  Both are imperative when a (then) 3 year old is involved in the process.


She looks pretty darn proud, wouldn't you say?

I think she should be.  These were delicious!


And as you probably guessed, they didn't last long :)



Confetti Cake Baked Donuts
from La Fuji Mama

3/4 cup AP flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons sprinkles of your choice

for the vanilla glaze:
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  In another bowl, beat eggs, honey, yogurt, vanilla and almond extract until foamy.

Pour liquid mixture all at once into dry mixture.  Stir until just combined.  Add sprinkles and stir until equally distributed.

Butter or grease donut pan.  Fill each one halfway.  Bake for 13-15 minutes, until lightly browned, and when they spring back when lightly touched.

Remove from oven, then carefully from pan.  Cool on wire rack.

To make the glaze:  While donuts are cooling, combine all ingredients in small bowl.  Stir until smooth and well blended.

Once donuts have cooled slightly, dip tops in glaze, then return to rack (glaze side up) to finish cooling and to allow glaze to set.  Add additional sprinkles on top.

Makes 6 donuts.

Linked to:  Sweets for a Saturday



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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Angry Birds Cupcakes

My adorable nephew turned 6 this weekend!  When my sister-in-law asked him what theme he wanted for his party, his answer was his current obsession - Angry Birds.


An obsession I know NOTHING about.

So, when Isabel asked me to make Angry Birds cupcakes (yellow ones only, as per her request) I had some research to do.  Luckily, I came across this blog post that helped me out a bit.  I made a few adaptations, and was pretty happy with the result!


I used my standard yellow cake recipe, colored my buttercream frosting yellow (topped with some yellow sparkly sugar), and used the following for the faces:

Twizzlers black licorice nibs:  I cut them in 3's, lengthwise, and used 2 pieces for the eyebrows, and one for the top of the head

Mini marshmallows:  I cut them in half and used them for the base of the eyes

Mini chocolate chips:  went on top of the marshmallows

Orange slices:  I cut them into small triangular pieces for the beaks

A bit time consuming, but totally worth it!  They were a big hit.


Happy birthday Petey!!




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Monday, October 1, 2012

A Tribute to Daniel Saraga

As I've mentioned before, the food blogging community is a pretty tight knit one.  Although many of us have never met in person, we still have a special bond based on common interests and passions that revolve around cooking, baking, writing, sharing recipes...all of the things that we food bloggers do.  Because of this, we feel the need to join together when tragedy strikes among us.  This is the reason for my post (as well as the posts of many others) today.

Daniel Saraga, author of The Haggis and the Herring, passed away suddenly a few weeks ago at the age of 37.  His wife gave a touching eulogy at his funeral that she published on their blog for all to read.  Daniel was in the same group as me in the Secret Recipe Club, which is how I became more familiar with his blog, his writing, and his personality.  He always struck me as a man who loved his family and food and joined them together quite frequently, just like I do.


When deciding which of Daniel's recipes to choose for his tribute, I felt myself being drawn to one that is his mother's.  Daniel shared it on her birthday.  It seems like a fitting time to honor her as well - the woman who gave him life, and who undoubtedly is suffering an awful loss right now.




I hope Daniel's family and friends can find peace during this tragic time, and know that the food blogging community has you all in our thoughts and prayers.  This tribute is our way of paying our respects.  RIP Daniel.


Mom's Creamy Greek Salad Dressing
from The Haggis and the Herring

1/4 cup vinegar (I used champagne vinegar)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon onion powder (I used garlic powder)
5 garlic cloves

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix.  Enjoy :)




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