Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

It's officially Fall now and that means it's time for all things pumpkin!  You're seeing pumpkin beer, coffee, pastries and even scented room fresheners in all the stores!  I love this time of year, for all the beauty and color, the smells, and of course the food!  I was scanning Pinterest the other day when I cam across this pin someone had for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.  I have never made whoppie pies before and figured what better way to try them out for the first time than to make them pumpkin flavored!

I pinned it and grabbed some of the ingredients the next time I hit the supermarket, waiting for some free time to try them out.  Well that turned out to be yesterday.  It was rainy and gloomy and David's soccer practice was cancelled so what better way to feel better on a blah day than to bake!  I opened up the link to the recipe and started to read her blog post.  Since I had never made whoppie pies before I wanted to make sure I read all her tips and suggestions before having another baking kitchen disaster on my hands.  There are too many to list, baking has never been my thing!

After reading I felt ready to try my hand at this and I was honestly surprised just how easy they were!

What You Need:
3 cups Flour
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar  (the site I got the recipe from used Splenda, so that could be an option)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 - 15 oz. can of pumpkin
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Filling:
1 - 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 - 16 oz. package of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of cinnamon (to taste) 

The Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
3. In your stand mixer bowl or another large bowl, add the the sugars, oil and pumpkin and beat together. Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition, followed by the vanilla.
4.  Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.
5. Now time to make the cookies, on a greased cookie sheet, plop some batter and swirl a tiny bit.

She used a pastry bag with a round tip but I'm not that fancy!  She suggested using a zip lock bag and snipping the corner, but I'm just not that good with stuff like that.  Maybe next time I will get more ambitious.  This time I took my large Pampered Chef scoop and plopped it on the pan.  At first I tried to swirl it out and flatten it myself since she had suggested in her post that the reason she pipes them is because they didn't rise the way she wanted.  When I flattened them they just spread out flat.  Not bad and still tasted awesome, but not the affect you want in a whoppie pie.  So the best batch was just plopping the scoop of batter on the sheet and spreading it into a tiny bit.  I think this is one of those things that everyone is going to have a different way they do it to get their own best results.  Trial and error!

6. Bake for about 11 minutes and cool on a rack.
7. While the cookies are baking, prepare the cream cheese filling.  Beat together the butter and cream cheese and then add in the powered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.
8. Add filling to one cookie and top it with another.  I wrapped mine in plastic wrap and stuck them in the fridge to set.  She had suggested that they will taste better that way, plus I think the filling will set better anyway.  But that wasn't before the boys and I each tried one of my failed, super flat cookies with some frosting.  YUM!

The Verdict:
These were AWESOME!  I am seriously amazed at how easy these were to make!  I felt like a baking pro, of course only after I mastered my technique on the proper whoppie pie shape!  But honestly, even the failed cookies still tasted good so who really cares if it doesn't look like a "real" whoppie pie, right!  I can't wait to make these again.  I have to go stock up on some canned pumpkin and get to it!  I think I found my signature Fall recipe!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Copycat - Chicken Nuggets!

Want that delicious Chick-Fil-A chicken without all the hate? A friend of mine shared this recipe and I decided to try it out for dinner the other night!

What you Need:
2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour
2 TBSP powdered sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper peanut oil (is best) or canola oil

The Steps:
1. In a medium bowl whisk the egg and stir in the milk. Trim any fat away from chicken. Cube chicken into bite size pieces. Place chicken in milk mixture,and cover. Let it 'marinate' for 2-4 hours in the fridge. This will make the chicken very nice and tender.
2. In a gallon size resealable baggie combine flour, powdered sugar, salt and pepper. Seal and shake to combine. Place about 2 inches of oil in a medium deep pot. Over medium high heat (more towards the high side) heat oil until hot. If using a thermometer let the temperature reach 375°.

3. Using a fork or tongs remove cut chicken from milk mixture and place in the flour mixture. Seal and shake until nuggets are completely coated.

4. Place about a 6-8 nuggets into hot oil and let them cook until golden brown, turning half way through once the edge of your chicken starts to turn white. About 1 minute each side. Always double check to see if any chicken you make is cooked through. I always just make a tiny cut to see if it's pink. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Repeat until all nuggets are cooked.
5. Serve with your favorite sauce!

The Verdict:
DELICIOUS!  This was seriously the best chicken nugget recipe I have ever had!  The chicken was so tender and like I said above, the kids loved it so much they had THIRDS!  I am glad I double the recipe!  Some things I changed was that I substituted buttermilk for regular milk and I misread the sugar and used granulated instead of powdered.  I don't think that made much of a difference in the flavor but maybe it would have.  I also didn't have peanut oil, so I used canola (the peanut oil probably would affect the flavor).  I served this with fresh corn on the cob from the local farm stand, and sugar snap peas.  I will definitely make this again, especially since this chicken was made with love!

Chicken made with LOVE not HATE!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rootbeer Float Cupcakes!

The boys school is closing at the end of this school year and so we are having our Farewell Festival tomorrow. One of the games they play is called a Cupcake Walk (similar to a musical chairs type game) and we needed cupcake donations for the game. I thought it was the perfect chance to try this recipe I pinned for Root Beer Float cupcakes! It's a rather simple batter, I did not have all the exact ingredients (like I used root beer concentrate in place of the root beer extract and vanilla extract in place of the vanilla bean paste) but they still tasted awesome! And I would highly recommend making them in the very near future!

What you Need:
For the Cupcakes:
1 cup of Root Beer soda
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of canola oil
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of root beer extract
1 1/3 cups of all purpose flour
 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
Pinch of salt

For the Frosting:
1 1/2 cups of confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon of milk

The Steps:
For the cupcakes:
1. Stir the Root Beer soda and vinegar together and let it sit for about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add in the sugar and oil, whisking vigorously for a couple of minutes. It should look frothy.
3. Stir in extracts.
4. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, stirring in about 1/2 cup at a time. Do not overmix!

5. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake at 350 F for 18-20 minutes. (Makes 12 cupcakes)

For the frosting:
1. Beat the butter until you get a smooth consistency.
2. Beat in the vanilla bean paste.
3. Beat in 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar at a time.
4. Beat in the milk until all ingredients are completely combined.

The Verdict:
Like I said, these were really amazing and tasted just like a Root Beer Float!  I think I will try and make sure I have the vanilla bean paste next time I make these because I didn't get the same look in the frosting using the vanilla extract.  Definitely yummy and really easy to make!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gnocchi with Sausage & Spinach

After a winter filled with comfort foods, I am trying to get my diet back on track. I have finally gotten myself into a good routine with exercising, but I'm not going to drop any pounds if I keep stuffing my face with rich savory comfort foods! On the other hand, I don't want to sacrifice taste. We have had a couple fails recently so I was happy to have a winner with this Gnocchi recipe I found on Pinterest!

What You Need:
1 package pre-made whole-wheat gnocchi (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup gnocchi cooking water
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small shallot, chopped
3 links sun-dried tomato & basil chicken sausage, casings removed
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

The Steps:
1. Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water before draining.

2. Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté shallots until they begin to soften, 3-4 minutes. Add chicken sausage and garlic. Break up sausage and sauté until cooked through. Add in baby spinach, toss and continue to cook until spinach is wilted.

3. Add cooked gnocchi into the skillet with the sausage and spinach, top with parmesan cheese, the remaining Tablespoon of olive oil and the reserved cooking water. Mix together.

The Verdict:
I thought this was really yummy! I might add a little salt & pepper next time but I was pretty happy to have something healthy that didn't sacrifice taste, as we've been finding recently! I didn't have whole wheat gnocchi so I just used the regular gnocchi I had in my pantry. That could have saved even more calories! According to MyFitnessPal, this is only 366 calories per serving! And I find gnocchi to be really filling. The boys loved the chicken sausage, but I had to bribe them to try the spinach, but at least they tried it and I know that I can make this dish again without complaints! The best part was that it took less than 20 minutes to put together!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Roasted Sweet Pepper Turkey Chili With Beer and Chocolate


1 lb ground turkey
approx 20-24 small baby sweet peppers (1 bag)
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 can kidney or black beans, drained
8 ounces of a dark beer
2 tsps instant coffee
4 oz dark chocolate
1 packet chili seasoning
4 tsp dried oregano (mexican if you got it)
4 garlic cloves,peeled and chopped roughly
1 lime, sliced in half
1/4 cup ketchup
4 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt

Directions: Roast the baby sweet peppers at 425 degrees for 45 minutes on a baking sheet. Let cool, then remove any lose skin and seeds, if you can. Roughly chop then and add to the crockpot. Brown the turkey in a skillet, add it to the crockpot with all the other ingredients. Simmer on "low" for 8-10 hours. Garnish with sour cream, fresh tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese and some fresh chopped cilantro.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Rainy Day Gals ~ Beef & Broccoli

Rainy Day Gal is a great food blog. It's where I got my beloved Cuban Pork Recipe from and tonight's new favorite Beef & Broccoli! Who doesn't love HOMEMADE takeout?!

What You Need:
For the marinade
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs flank steak, sliced into thin strips

For the sauce
1/2 c low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp sherry

2 heads broccoli, crowns only
3 tbsp vegetable oil

The Steps:
1. First start by slicing your steak against the grain and then whisk together the baking soda, sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, water, and vegetable oil in a large bowl. Toss the steak with the marinade to coat.

Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, then proceed below.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, flour and sherry until smooth. Set aside.

3. In a large wok or saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over high heat until shimmering. Add broccoli and saute 3 minutes, stirring often. Transfer broccoli to a plate. This is where I strayed from the recipe and I oven roasted my broccoli with some olive oil in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.

4. Carefully add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the hot pan. Add the marinated meat and half of the sauce mixture and saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink.

Stir in the broccoli and remaining sauce. Saute 1 minute more.

Serve with white or brown rice!

The Verdict:
YUM! Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum! I can't say it enough times. I was so impressed with how spot on this was to real Chinese Beef & Broccoli. The meat was so tender and the sauce was just like it came straight out of one of those takeout boxes. David loved it and asked if I could try it with chicken next time. If you ask him what he wants for dinner 10 times out of 10 he yells CHICKEN AND RICE! Which means Chicken and Broccoli Chinese takeout. I bet it would taste just as good with chicken, but it will be hard for me since I LOVE BEEF!

I want to add that I didn't have low-sodium soy sauce on hand so I just used the regular stuff, but next time I will make this dish I will make sure I have it because it was definitely a tad salty and while I like me some salt, I think after a while it became overkill. So make sure you do use the low-sodium soy sauce!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tex-Mex Turkey Soup

On New Years day I made a Turkey and it was (if I do say so myself!) delicious. Just like at Thanksgiving, there was some leftover turkey meat and I didn't want to see it go to waste, so I went onto, one of my favorite sites for finding recipes, and found this one for a Turkey Tex-Mex Soup. We all love the flavors of Tex-Mex in this house, even the boys, so I was sure even before we could smell the soup simmering on the stove, that it would be a hit!

What You Need:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
4 cups water
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup salsa
4 cups shredded cooked turkey
1 tablespoon dried parsley
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 (14 ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained
2 cups frozen corn
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

The Steps:
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add minced onions and cook until onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Stir in water, tomato soup, diced tomatoes, salsa, shredded turkey, parsley and bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until bouillon cubes dissolve.

Add black beans, corn, sour cream and cilantro. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

Serve soup with crushed tortilla chips, chopped green onion, shredded cheese and additional cilantro and sour cream.

The Verdict:This was SO good! Like so good, I think that I'll make it again soon and roast some bone in chicken breast in the oven, good, since I don't plan on cooking a big turkey again for a while and I think it would taste just as good with chicken!! The boys loved it too! Evan, of course picked out all the beans and corn (his favorite part!) and David enjoyed dunking some tortilla chips in the broth. Next time I will sprinkle the top with some shredded cheddar jack. Oh and because SOUR CREAM is on the Doc's list of NO-NO ingredients, I used the new Philadelphia brand cooking cream, original flavor though I bet you could use the Santa Fe flavor for some added zing!