Pumpkin Butter


Happy Halloween

Hurrican Irene Update, 7:46 AM: It was COLD in the apartment last night. I went to my aunts house to take a shower because my hair was just not agreeing with me. The power company could provide no updates, of course. I did comment on their Facebook page twice, asking if there was any chance our area would receive power before my cats turned into catsicles. No response. It was extremely frustruating to be at 30+ hours when people right up the street had power. I confess, on the way home from my aunt's house I held up my middle finger at all of the nice warm houses with power. No, it wasn't their fault, but I don't live in the middle of no where anymore. I live in a highly populated area 1.5 miles from a major road. People on farms in the middle of no where had power and I didn't. Finally, at 4:30 AM almost exactly 36 hours since the power went out, and only 1.5 hours after I had finally managed to fall asleep, the power came back on. So I had to get up, turn off the lights, adjust the thermostat and fall back to sleep somewhere around 5 only to get a cat paw to the face starting at 6 AM. Vacation: I need one. 

And yes, I do feel like a complete asshole for even complaining slightly about this. There are people out there who no longer have a home. They have it much worse than I do and I fully realize that. 

One of my favorite things about fall is going to the orchards and farmers markets and picking up apple and pumpkin butter. Which is a bit funny because up until the time I met Tom, the only butter I'd ever had came in the salted and unsalted varieties from the grocery store. I had no idea people use pumpkins or apples to make butter. 

But after being introduced to that wonderfulness, I decided this was the year where I should make my own. I started off with pumpkin butter because I had all of the ingredients on hand. 

Pumpkin Butter
Source: Skinny Taste
Servings: 2 pints

    • 29 oz. can pure pumpkin puree
    • 1 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
    • 3/4 cup apple cider
    • 2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
    • 2 tsp. vanilla 
1. Combine all of the ingredients together in a large saucepan. Heat over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. 
2. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. 
3. Transfer into containers and let cool in the refrigerator. 

I use 4 of the Ball Half Pint containers for this. I had no idea how easy it was to make pumpkin butter. Now I'm tempted to double the batch and hand some out as Christmas presents! 

Chicken and Vegetable Soup


Hurricane Sandy update, 9:32 AM: We lost power yesterday around 4:30 PM. I found one reason to like my gas stove; I could still heat up dinner. Honestly, I was impressed we had power as long as we did. The wind gusts were scary. Power is still out, but we went into work where there is power. There was a detour to get here, but nothing too serious. The number of power outages is astounding and I wouldn't be surprised if we don't have power until tomorrow sometime. Ocean City, my favorite resort town was beat up hard by the storm. The fishing pier is gone and there is a ton of flooding. I can only wonder if its going to look the same once I go back. From what I'm reading online NJ and NY got the worst of it. Hope everyone there is safe!

This soup immediate caught my eye when I was going through my Cooking Light magazine. It wasn't full of necessary ingredients, didn't have a super high sodium amount and just looked super tasty. Plus, it didn't take very long to make.

Usually I don't mind letting a soup simmer on the stove for a couple of hours on a Saturday or Sunday, but sometimes you just need a soup recipe that you can whip together during the week on a particularly cold night.

Chicken and Vegetable Soup
Source: Cooking Light, October 2012
Servings: 6
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    • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil 
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1 carrot, peeled and coined
    • 1 cup green beans, cut into 1" pieces
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 sprig thyme
    • salt and pepper
    • 3 cups fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
    • 14.5 oz can no-salt-added fire roasted tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup orzo pasta
    • 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
    • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Season the onions, carrots and green beans with salt and pepper.
2. Add onions, carrots, green beans, garlic and thyme to saucepan. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until slightly softened.
3. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes, undrained to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the orzo and chicken. Cook for 10-12 minutes more or until the vegetables are soft.
4. Top each bowl of soup with a teaspoon or so of the Parmesan cheese.

For a quick cooking soup, I was impressed with the amount of flavor in this. I really enjoyed it and had the leftovers the next day for lunch.

Nichole's Famous Crab Dip


Hurricane Sandy Update: 1:20 PM EST:
I decided to use my blog as a way to update what is happening in my little part of the world while Sandy comes through and destroys everything in her path. I'm located north of Baltimore and my apartment is actually on the water, but we're 16 feet above water levels. Its raining really hard and you can definitely feel the wind gusts. I don't believe we'll have power much longer, I'm giving it until 6 PM or so but that's probably estimating high. It's really not pleasant on the MD beaches. Part of the fishing pier in Ocean City is gone and the Indian River Bridge in DE is a mess. I'm anxious to just get this over with. Stay safe East Coasters. My thoughts are with you.

I'll be completely honest with you. This is a recipe that I debated on sharing since...well, since the beginning of this blog. This was one of the first recipes that I ever created and so many people told me it was delicious, but I refused to give out the recipe for fear of someone claiming it as their own.

My own mother had me make this crab dip for a company party she had and passed it off as her own, so you can see why I spent so much time not very inclined to share. However, I came to realize that it is silly not to share the recipe. It is an amazing hot crab dip and its just not fair for me to only share it with those that I come in contact with.

There is another sillier reason why I am sharing it though. Because it's not my real recipe. I mean, it is, but it isn't. I had the hardest time writing down a recipe for this because I really just have an ingredients list. I have general measurements but to know for sure where I use a tablespoon or a tablespoon and a half is just not possible. I don't measure when making this, there is just a certain way that it looks when mixed together that I know is right. So I figured even if I share my best guess at the measurements, it will still never truly be "my" recipe since even "my" recipe changes each time that I make it.

So without further adieu, I share with you the most incredible, creamy, spicy, hot crab dip recipe you will ever have.

Nichole's Famous Crab Dip
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 8-10 as an appetizer
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    • 1 lb. crab meat
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • 1/2 small onion, diced
    • 12 oz. reduced-fat sour cream
    • 2 tbsp. mayo
    • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 tsp. hot sauce
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1/2 tsp. prepared yellow mustard
    • pinch of black pepper
    • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
    • 3 tbsp. Old Bay, divided
    • crackers, pitas, bread or veggies, for dipping
1. Preheat an oven to 375. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Pick through the crab meat to remove any shells. Season with 1 tbsp. of Old Bay and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, onion, sour cream, mayo, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, garlic, mustard, black pepper and the remaining Old Bay. Stir until combined. Add in 2 cups of the shredded cheddar cheese and stir until combined. Gently fold in the crab meat.
4. Spread a layer of the crab dip into the prepared baking dish, top with 1/3 cup of cheddar cheese. Repeat for 2 more layers.
5. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.
6. Remove the foil and bake another 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
7. Serve hot with your desired dipping vessels. Can be refrigerated for 5 days. To reheat, place in a microwave safe dish and heat at 20 second intervals, stirring, until warmed through.

Now go to your local grocery store, pick up these ingredients, make this crab dip, try it and then come here and tell me that you do agree with me that it is the most amazing crab dip you have ever tasted. I'll just sit here and wait. :-)

Weekly Menu 10/28 - 11/1, Weather Permitting


Hurricane Sandy.


The Perfect Storm.

The Storm of the Century.

If you live on the east coast, you're probably sick of hearing about it by now. Hell, even if you aren't on the east coast, I'm sure your local news is talking about it. I'm not a meteorologist and to be completely honest, I haven't paid much attention to the news, but I do know that this storm has the potential to be a monster, depending on where she makes landfall. So far, we're not really supposed to see the effects of Sandy until Monday night into Tuesday, but who knows.

I'm prepared-ish. We have two cases of water and enough canned goods to feed a small army. We have candles, flashlights, batteries and I even purchased a battery-operated radio. I'm really not concerned at the moment and I kinda just want to get this over with. I don't really have patience for this kind of stuff.

So pending our electricity situation, the menu for the week is as follows:

Sunday - Chicken Tostadas with Mexican Rice

Monday - Steak and Mashed Potatoes with Green Beans

Tuesday - Cranberry Apple Pork with Wild Rice

Wednesday - Chicken Quinoa Soup

Thursday - Shrimp Tacos 

For breakfast, I plan on having an Abs Diet meal of oatmeal made with milk and topped with cinnamon and vanilla whey protein. Lunches are going to be turkey wraps. As for dessert, I'm planning on pumpkin nutella cheesecake cupcakes.

Otherwise, a ton of Kindle books are downloaded and the wi-fi is turned off to extend the battery life. Oh, and I have 4 bottles of wine. If that doesn't get us through this storm, I don't know what will.

Stay safe East Coasters!!

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Shrimp & Garlic Toast


I decided that this fall and winter I would try to try a bunch of different soups. One of the first ones on my list was this red pepper soup for its simplicity. I envisioned a hearty soup with pieces of sweet red pepper combining with shrimp and a nice crusty garlic bread.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Shrimp and Garlic Toast
Source: Clean Eating Magazine, March 2012
Servings: 4
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    • 24 oz. jarred roasted red peppers, drained
    • 3 cups low-sodium fat free chicken broth
    • 15 oz. great northern beans, drained and rinsed
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 tsp. oregano
    • 16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 2 tsp. olive oil
    • 8 oz. baguette, sliced into 1" rounds
    • 1 garlic clove
    • salt and pepper
1. Combine the red peppers and 1 cup of the chicken broth together in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth.
2. Transfer the mixture to large stockpot and add the remaining broth, beans, bay leaves and oregano. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat to low and simmer.
4. Meanwhile, brush the baguette slices with olive oil. Heat a skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Place the bread on the skillet and grill for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the bread to a plate and rub with the garlic clove.
5. Add a splash of oil to the skillet and cook the shrimp for 1-2 minutes per side or until cooked through.
6. Ladle the soup into bowls, topping with the shrimp. Serve with the garlic toast.

The original recipe calls for 4 cups of chicken broth but I decided to cut this back after seeing how watery the soup was with only 3 cups. I was expecting this to be a flavorful soup, but the flavors were really mild and mostly taken over by the extreme amount of chicken broth. While this was okay, and served its purpose as a good warm-you-up soup, I don't think I'll be making it again without some serious modifications.

Corn and Black Bean Salsa


Back in September we had a small summer party for work. One of my coworkers always offers up his yard/house to us and we hire a friend of his to do the catering. One of the things the caterer made for the party this time was a corn and black bean salsa that was just incredible. I've never had a salsa that good before.

He used all fresh ingredients and you could really taste it in the recipe. I asked him what he did to get that hint of sweetness and he said that he removed the kernels from a corn cob, sprinkled sugar over them and then roasted the kernels for 10 minutes. Genius! While I would have loved to make this with all fresh ingredients (and I guarantee you I will) I happened to end up with a half can of corn, black beans and diced tomatoes in my refrigerator all at once.

With no Mexican dishes on the menu for the week, I knew these ingredients would go bad if I didn't use them up. So I decided to create the canned version of that delicious corn and black bean salsa.

Corn and Black Bean Salsa
Inspired by: Lou
Servings: 1 cup
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    • 1 cup corn kernels
    • 1 tbsp. sugar
    • 1/2 cup black beans, cooked
    • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes 
    • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
    • 1 jalapeno, minced
    • 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
    • pinch of salt
    • squeeze of fresh lime juice 
1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Spread out the corn into an even layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the sugar over the corn and roast for 10 minutes in the oven. Let cool to room temperature.
3. Meanwhile, combine the black beans, tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno and cilantro together in a bowl. Add the cooled corn and stir to combine. Sprinkle with salt and lime juice and refrigerate until ready to use.

I gotta say, this was pretty close to the fresh version we had at the summer party and oh so tasty. I think I'm going to have a hard time sharing this with anyone else.

Spicy Shrimp Fried Rice


Fried rice was the first form of Chinese food I'd ever tried. I was about 4 years old and my dad had ordered beef chow mein which usually comes with white rice, but they substituted fried rice instead. I was an extremely picky child and I remember looking at each vegetable in the rice and asking my dad what it was before I would even try a bite. Finally, I took a bite and decided I liked it. Same went with his beef chow mein. For years those were the only two Chinese foods I was willing to try.

Luckily for all of us, I've branched out and now have a hard time picking when we order Chinese food since there are so many things that I like. But fried rice is still one of my stand-by choices and when I saw this recipe I couldn't wait to try it. 

Spicy Shrimp Fried Rice
Source: Skinny Taste
Servings: 4

    • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
    • 1/2 tsp. paprika
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/8 tsp. pepper
    • 3 cups cooked brown rice
    • 2 egg whites
    • 1 whole egg
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 5 green onions, chopped, green and white separated
    • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
    • 4 tsp. soy sauce
    • 1 tsp. fish sauce
    • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
    • salt and pepper
1. Place the shrimp in a medium bowl with the chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. 
2. Scramble the eggs together in a small bowl. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. 
3. Add the eggs to the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a plate and set aside. 
4. Add the sesame oil, onion, whites of green onions and garlic to the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add the crushed red pepper flakes and shrimp. Cook the shrimp for 1-2 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
5. Stir in the rice, egg, soy sauce and fish sauce. Stir until combined and heated through, about 2 minutes. 
6. Serve, garnished with the greens of the onions.

Spicy, but really good. Homemade fried rice is never going to taste exactly the same as it does from a Chinese restaurant, but I've found using day-old rice definitely helps out a bit. 

Coconut Ice Cream


I like to think that I'm doing a pretty good job of embracing fall and letting summer go. See, I dread when summer ends each year. I require flip flops and iced coffee. Not boots and hot coffee. But we've discussed my issues on this before.

Outside of cooking, I've decided not to let fall and winter take over my wardrobe and make it completely drab. I seem to have a habit in the fall and winter of only wearing dark and depressing colors. Too much money spent, later, I have a fully stocked closet with brightly colored sweaters, scarves and other fall and winter items.

But a peach sweater can't starve off the sun setting so soon after I get home, so I've also decided to randomly throw some ice spring and summer recipes into the mix for as long as possible. Hence, coconut ice cream right in the middle of October.

Coconut Ice Cream 
Source: All Recipes
Servings: 8
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    • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
    • 14 oz. can coconut milk
    • 1/2 sweetened coconut flakes, toasted
1. Pour the coconut milk into a large bowl. Use a potato masher to remove any large solid pieces. Whisk in the milk, cream and coconut flakes. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
2. Process according to ice cream maker directions. Freeze for at least 4 hours.
3. Serve sprinkled with toasted coconut flakes.

I wasn't sure what this was going to taste like but I ended up pleasantly surprised. The ice cream is really rich and full of coconut flavor however it is a bit hard to get out of the container even if you let it warm up for a while.

Baked Caramel Apple Doughnuts


You know about my caramel obsession right? How I love all things caramel? Well, when I found this recipe I realized that actually, there is one caramel item that I don't actually like and that is a caramel apple. I think its just too hard to sink your teeth into a hard, chewy, sticky concoction wrapped around a firm apple.

While an apple a day may keep the doctor away, a caramel apple a day could easily lead you right to the dentist!

Baked Caramel Apple Donuts
Source: Shutterbean
Servings: 24 mini doughnuts
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    • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 egg, at room temperature
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 2 apples, peeled and minced
    • 1 cup chewy caramel candies
    • 1 tbsp. whole milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a doughnut pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg with the sugar and brown sugar. Then whisk in the vegetable oil and vanilla.
3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until no lumps of flour remain. Gently fold in the apple.
4.Spoon the batter in the prepared doughnut pan until almost full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
5. Combine the caramel candies and milk together in a microwave safe bowl. Cover loosely and microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring each time, until a caramel sauce as formed.
6. Gently dip the doughnuts into the caramel sauce, swirling to remove the excess caramel. Serve warm!

I don't know why I was thinking these would be less chewy/sticky than a caramel apple, but they weren't. I made the mistake of eating a semi-cooled caramel dipped doughnut and ended up with the doughnut stuck to the roof of my mouth in a caramel head-lock. Dangers aside, these are incredibly tasty little doughnuts that are just as good dipped in the caramel as they are plain.

Weekly Menu 10/21 - 10/25


What pretty weather we're having lately. Usually we kick summer to the curb and hop right onto into fall temperatures, but recently the weather has hovered in the 60s and 70s which is perfect for me. Its chilly enough in the mornings to wear a sweater or add some layers to your outfit but doesn't warm up so much that you're melting when you head out to lunch.

Yesterday a nearby church was having a fall festival and the community behind me was holding a yard sale. My friend Shannon met me in the morning and we headed over to the festival. It was smaller than I thought and mostly geared for kids, but I found a Christmas wreath that reminds me of The Grinch so I quickly overlooked the $20 price tag and snatched it up. The yard sales were a little less promising. I thought it would be in a central location, but it was just anyone in the community who wanted to participate, put stuff on their lawn. So it involved a lot of getting in and out of the car. I'm sad to say I didn't really find anything that great, just a pair of teal coffee mugs that would make for a nice prop in a picture.

Sunday - SRC Recipe

Monday - Chicken Stir Fry

Tuesday - Cranberry Apple Pork over Wild Rice with Green Beans

Wednesday - Abs Diet Burgers and Fries

Thursday - Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese 

On the baking front, I'm making pumpkin banana muffins for breakfast, apple butter and apple pie cupcakes.

Blogger's Choice: Bacon Ranch Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes


Oh man! That was my first thought when receiving Jaida's blog, Sweet Beginnings for this blogger's choice round of the recipe swap.

See, I could eat just about everything on Jaida's blog so trying to narrow it down and choose just one thing is  well, not fair. I scrolled through her recipe index for quite some time, stopping on probably more than half of the recipes and trying to decide whether or not I should make them. Then, in the pasta section the word "spinach" caught my eye.

Which is funny, because I don't even like spinach all that much, but that's beside the point. It caught my eye because I already had some recipes planned this week that were using up a decent amount of spinach. A decent amount being about 5 cups. Which, if you're purchased bagged spinach before, you know that they give you about 2 cups per bag. If I bought three bags, or 6 cups, I knew that last cup would go bad before I figured something out to do with it.

So, I chose this recipe mostly out of necessity for that poor little remaining cup of spinach. But lets be honest, do you really know if anyone who is going to say no to bacon and pasta together? Yeah, I thought so.

Bacon Ranch Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes
Source: Sweet Beginnings, as seen on A Taste of Home Cooking
Servings: 2-3
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    • 1 1/2 cups rotini or other pasta
    • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
    • 1 tsp. dried parsley
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 3/4 tsp. pepper
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
    • 1/8 tsp. dried thyme
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil 
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 cup baby spinach
    • 8 oz. diced tomatoes, undrained 
    • 1 tsp. fresh shaved Parmesan cheese
1. Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine the parsley, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and thyme. Set aside.
3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet large enough to hold the pasta. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add the heavy cream and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat to a simmer, stir in the seasoning combination. Add the spinach and tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the spinach has wilted.
5. Add the pasta and bacon. Stir until combined and the pasta is coated. Serve, topped with the fresh Parmesan cheese.

I cut this recipe in half because I ended up eating it for a late lunch on the weekend. Honestly, it was a bad idea. I should have made the full recipe and then just had leftovers because this pasta dish is SO GOOD. I easily ate more than one person should ever eat of pasta in one seating.

Improv Challenge: Oatmeal Raisin Bread Pudding


Confession: I don't like raisins. I never have. I've always thought they were gross. Initially I planned on skipping the challenge for this month so I could avoid making anything with raisins. But, Tom asked me what I was making for this challenge. I told him I wasn't participating because of the raisin issue and he asked that if he came up with something creative enough, if I would make it.

I can't turn down a challenge. I mean, look at me. I participate in bi-weekly recipe swaps and participate in this challenge and the Secret Recipe Club on a monthly basis. What is this challenge you ask? This is the Improv Challenge. Kristin, our awesome host, has come up with two ingredients for each month. We have pretty much free reign to do whatever we want with those ingredients, they just must be part of a recipe that is new to our blog. Then, we all share them on the third Thursday of each month. Cool, huh?

As I'm sure you've figured out by now, Tom was able to come up with something creative enough. It didn't take him very long to tell me that he wanted me to make oatmeal raisin bread pudding. I gladly accepted the challenge and then he threw in the little caveat that I also needed to make the oatmeal raisin bread from scratch as well. Fine then, dear husband, I shall meet your challenge!

Oatmeal Raisin Bread Pudding
Source: A Sweet Fantasy
Servings: 8-10
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Oatmeal Raisin Bread Ingredients:
    • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
    • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
    • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. ground ginger
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 stick butter, melted
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup raisins 
Bread Directions:
1. Stir the buttermilk and old-fashioned oats together in a bowl and let stand for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 8x4 loaf pan and then dust with flour.
3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and salt.
4. Add the butter, eggs, sugar and raisins to the oat mixture and stir until combined. Pour this into the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.
5. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top.
6. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
7. Let cool for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cinnamon Custard Ingredients:
    • 4 eggs
    • 3 egg yolks
    • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
    • 1/2 cup raisins
Custard Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 325. Spray a 8x8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine all of the custard ingredients and whisk until smooth.
3. Cut the cooled oatmeal raisin bread into 1 inch cubes.
4. Layer half of the bread cubes in the baking dish. Pour half of the custard mixture over the bread. Use a fork to press the bread down into the custard. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of raisins over the mixture. Repeat with the remaining bread and custard. Top with another 1/4 cup of raisins.
5. Create a water bath by placing the 8x8 dish into a larger dish and filling it with water until it reaches halfway up the 8x8 dish.
6. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Toffee Sauce Ingredients:
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 1/3 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tsp. vanilla 
Toffee Sauce Directions:
1. Combine brown sugar and butter together in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted. Add the cream and vanilla and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes or until mixture has slightly thickened.
2. Serve oatmeal raisin bread pudding with 1-2 tbsp. of toffee sauce drizzled on top.

Pull on your sweatpants and kiss your diet and waistline good-bye. I refuse to even enter this into MyFitnessPal because I'm pretty sure it has the same amount of calories as a Five Guys Burger. But, like all things super unhealthy for you, this is so tasty. There is just a bit of crunch from the top of the bread that didn't get soaked in the whipping cream. Then there is this melt-in-your mouth middle and bottom layer of bread, raisins and general unhealthiness. So of course, you must top it off with a drizzle (or two. or three) or a melted butter brown sugar concoction that could probably put someone into a diabetic coma.

While I'm still not a fan of raisins, I have to admit, when baked into bread and then baked again into whipping cream-sugar goodness, they aren't so bad.

Oven Roasted Red Potatoes


Do you go through phases of side dishes? I do. When I first started cooking, we had roasted red potatoes practically once a week. Then I went through a risotto phase where we had risotto all of the time. I think baked potatoes followed that. Then it was mashed potatoes, followed by rice, and finally, homemade french fries.

Apparently I've went full circle in my starches rotation since I'm back to red potatoes again. I'd forgotten just how much I'd missed them!

Oven Roasted Red Potatoes 
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 4
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    • 6-8 small red potatoes, washed and scrubbed
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. pepper
    • fresh parsley, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Cut all of the potatoes into quarters and transfer into a large bowl. Pour the olive oil over the potatoes and toss to coat.
3. Spread the potatoes out on the baking sheet and sprinkle the garlic powder, salt and pepper over them.
4. Bake for 20 minutes, flip the potatoes over and bake another 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Season with fresh parsley.

Delicious! I enjoy these almost as much as homemade french fries. 

Spiced Apple Cookies


I went on a bit of an apple-recipe printing spree not too long ago. I purposely searched for the less common recipes since you can find a million different apple pie or apple crisp recipes. Apples in cookies is always something I wanted to try out, so I was more than pleased when I came across this recipe.

Spiced Apple Cookies
Source: The Naptime Chef
Servings: ~3 dozen
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    • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp. salt 
    • 1/2 cup shortening 
    • 1 1/3 cup brown sugar 
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 cup whole milk
    • 1 cup unpeeled apple, minced
    • 3/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground nutmeg and salt until mixed well.
3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together until smooth. Add the egg and milk.
4. Add in the flour mixture and once combined, add the apple and walnuts.
5. Scoop tablespoon sized drops of dough onto the baking sheet. Press down lightly to flatten the cookies. Bale for 12-14 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden.

These are incredibly tasty soft little cookies. It kind of tastes like eating the crust of an apple pie, just with apples mixed in. And much softer.

Asian Marinated Chicken with Corn and Basil Faux-Fried Rice


That's a bit of a mouthful, isn't it? When I saw this recipe in the September 2012 edition of Cooking Light, I was first immediately intrigued by the picture. You eat with your eyes first and this was one tasty-looking recipe. Then I was interested because I love the combination of corn and basil together. And finally, I was looking forward to figuring out what faux-fried rice was.

For some reason, I ignore every recipe that calls for chicken thighs. I just don't see the need to purchase them when a chicken breast (which is always in excess in the freezer) is just as readily available. So that was my only change to this recipe.

Asian Marinated Chicken with Corn and Basil Faux-Fried Rice
Source: Cooking Light, September 2012
Servings: 4
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Chicken Marinade:
    • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 1/3 cup green onion, sliced
    • 3 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp. mirin
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil 

    • 1/2 cup basmati rice
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 2 tbsp. green onion, thinly sliced
    • 3/4 cup corn 
    • 1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
    • 1 lime
1. Place the chicken in a sealable bag. Add the green onion, soy sauce, mirin and garlic to the bag. Marinate for 2 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 375.
3. Heat the olive oil in an overproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown for 2-3 minutes on each side, then transfer the skillet to the oven to continue cooking for 6-10 minutes, or until the chicken is done.
4. Meanwhile, combine the basmatic rice with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the water.
5. Heat another skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the green onions to the pan, stirring constantly. Then add the rice, corn and the soy sauce. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the basil. Divide the rice among the plates, topping with a chicken breast. Squeeze the lime juice over the chicken and rice.

This was incredibly good. Like wish you made 3 times the recipe so you could have it for leftovers a couple of days type good. The best thing is, its under 330 calories!

Weekly Menu 10/14 - 10/19


How is it the middle of October? This year is flying by at quite an alarming rate. I've barely adjusted to the fact that summer has left and we're practically halfway through fall! I've barely even busted out the apple and pumpkin recipes!

I had nothing planned for this weekend so I figured I'd spend the majority of it in the kitchen baking and cooking up a storm. For other people to eat though, as I'm kind of going back on a diet again. It's the only one that I had a bunch of success with and I'm hoping this time, combining it with a bunch of exercise will actually get me some decent results.

If you're wondering, its The Abs Diet. I bought the new cookbook on Amazon and that's where the majority of the recipes this week are coming from, desserts aside. As for exercise, well, you're going to laugh. I don't have a lot of time that I can spend at the fitness center and the times I can spend there, 98% of the time, people are using all of the treadmills, elliptical and stationary bikes. So, at the advice of an internet friend, I purchased a workout DVD called...Brazilian Butt Lift.

I know, I know. Laugh it up. Then search for it on Youtube, watch the videos and laugh your ass off some more. Leandro, the Brazilian guy who created this workout, is...interesting. He is very positive and encouraging and my favorite part is that he calls your butt the bum bum but with his accent it comes out as "boom boom". While I can't samba to save my life, I try to keep my uncoordinated-self following as much as possible. Two weeks in and I can say, there is a slight change in my thighs and butt. Now I just need to increase the workouts and hopefully I can see some decent results by Halloween.

Fingers crossed.

Sunday - Seafood Stew

Monday - Filet topped with Grilled Onions, Roasted Red Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach

Tuesday - Turkey Burgers and Fries

Wednesday - Grilled Chicken Florentine with Broccolini 

Thursday - Pork with Apples and Green Beans 

For lunch this week I'm having a turkey wrap reminiscent of Thanksgiving, as it is stuffed with turkey, cranberry sauce and mixed greens. I'm excited! And the baked goodies I plan on sharing with my coworkers include my Improv Challenge recipe, some apple cookies and maybe some pumpkin ice cream. We shall see.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sauteed Mushrooms


It still amuses me to think sometimes about how I spent the majority of my life hating all things pumpkin. While I still don't like pumpkin spiced coffees (sorry!) I would be content to have a pumpkin meal or dessert at least once a month.

I really never realized how versatile it is. You can go sweet for things like pumpkin pie, rolls, muffins or bread, or you can go savory for pumpkin soups, pastas or sauces. Hell, you can even make pumpkin ice cream!

I was definitely excited to try this since I don't have a ravioli maker and wonton wrappers just seemed like the perfect solution.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sauteed Mushrooms 
Source: Unknown
Servings: 4-6
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    • 1 cup pure pumpkin
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. pepper
    • 24 wonton wrappers
    • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
    • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
    • 1/2 cup chicken stock 
1. In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper together.
2. Work with 4-6 wonton wrappers at a time, keeping the others covered. Place about 2 teaspoons of the pumpkin mixture into the center of the wonton wrappers. Dip your finger in water and trace the edges of the wrapper. Fold over to seal. Repeat with remaining wontons.
3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. In a skillet, melt 1 tbsp. of butter over medium-low heat.
4. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
5. Add the remaining butter and chicken stock to the skillet and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, working in batches, cook the wontons in the boiling water until the float. Transfer to the skillet with a slotted spoon and cook for 1 minute more.
6. Plate the mushrooms and serve the pumpkin ravioli with any remaining sauce on top.

I added the mushrooms to this recipe since I thought it needed more than just ravioli. If you have any idea where the pumpkin ravioli part of the recipe comes from, please let me know and I'll adjust the source. I printed out this recipe a long time ago and must not have copied the site where I got it from. I searched, but couldn't find anything.

I thought this was pretty good, but I think it would be better to use fresh Parmesan to cut down on the sweetness of the pumpkin. However, the mushrooms balanced it out nicely.

Homemade Pizza Rolls


When I was adjusting the menu for the party I had at the end of September, I was trying to find quick appetizer-style recipes that would work well with the other things we were serving. I hopped onto my Pinterest account to see if I had anything worthwhile saved and I found these Homemade Pizza Rolls. I figured pizza rolls are something that everyone likes so I should definitely add them to the menu.

It was a great decision because these were scarfed up pretty quickly.

Homemade Pizza Rolls
Source: Back to Her Roots
Servings: 48 rolls
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    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 2 cups marinara sauce
    • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 48 wonton wrappers
1. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-heat. Add the onion, green pepper and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes or until softened.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375. Spray two baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the marinara sauce and shredded cheese. Stir in the onion mixture.
4. Lay out wonton wrappers on the prepared baking sheets. Add a spoonful of the mixture to the center of each wrapper.
5. Use your finger to wet the outside of the wrappers and fold them over.
6. Repeat with remaining wrappers. Spray the tops with non-stick cooking spray.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve hot.

I think I could have cooked mine a little bit longer, I went with 12 minutes just because the guests had started to arrive and I didn't want to forget about them in the oven. I was pleasantly surprised at how similar they tasted to the packaged pizza rolls you can buy from the store. But no preservatives! Yay!  

French Onion Burger


I know what you're thinking...Another burger? She says she's supposed to be losing weight but she's making another burger!?...Well, yes. I can't help it. I saw this recipe and it sounded so good and reminded me of the Gouda Bacon Cheeseburger that was also topped with caramelized onions.

Besides, I think I have a better chance of losing weight eating burgers in moderation than I do eating sweets in moderation. Mostly because I can't moderate sweets.

French Onion Burger
Source: Better Homes and Gardens, Every Meal Easy
Servings: 4
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    • 1 lb. ground beef
    • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 4 slices Swiss cheese
    • salt and pepper
    • 2 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 2 cups onions, thinly sliced
    • 1/8 cup mayonnaise
    • 1 tsp. Sriracha sauce
    • burger rolls 

1. Combine the ground beef, Worcestershire sauce and garlic together into a bowl. Fold the Swiss cheese slices into squares.
2. Form patties with the ground beef, placing the cheese in the middle and making sure to seal up the edges. Place the burgers on a plate, season the tops with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to use.
3. Add the butter and onions to a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until the onions caramelize, 20-25 minutes. Cover and keep warm.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and Sriracha. Refrigerate until ready to use.
5. Preheat your grill. Grill the burgers flipping once, for 6-10 minutes or until they reach your desired doneness. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.
6. Lightly grill the burger buns. Assemble the burger by spreading the Sriracha mayo on both sides of the bun and topping the burger with a heaping spoonful of the caramelized onions.

These were pretty tasty burgers, but the caramelized onion flavor didn't really come through as nicely as I would have liked. I also thought that in order for these burgers to really be "french onion" burgers, they needed more cheese, preferably on top of the burger and not just inside.

Mashed Potato Soup


Every time that we go to visit Tom's parents, I inevitably end up going through food magazines with his mom and finding ones that appeal to me. She makes copies of them and either emails them to me or I go home with a stack of recipes.

I hung onto this one all summer waiting until the weather was finally cool enough that I could justify making a hearty mashed potato soup.

Mashed Potato Soup
Source: All You Magazine, April 2012
Servings: 6
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    • 4 medium baking potatoes
    • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
    • 4 cups + 2 tbsp. milk
    • 1/2 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
    • 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
    • 2 tbsp. chives, chopped
    • 2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled 
    • salt and pepper, to taste

1. Scrub the potatoes and prick all over with a fork. Wrap each potato in a paper towel and microwave the potatoes for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through.
2.Slice the potatoes in half and once cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh, discarding the skins. Place the potato flesh in a bowl and mash with the 2 tbsp. of milk. Set aside.
3. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until golden, about 2 minutes. Then whisk in the 4 cups of milk and cook for 5-6 minutes, whisking frequently, until the mixture slightly thickens.
4. Stir in the cheese until it melts then stir in the potatoes and sour cream. Stir until smooth and combined.
5. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with chives and bacon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This was just what I expected, a really hearty and filling soup. I barely ate a cup of this and I was completely stuffed! If you don't like chunky mashed potatoes, I would use an immersion blender on the soup to make it smoother.

SRC: Crock Pot Chili with Beans


Have you ever wondered why chili is called chili? This is something that bothered me for quite a long time until I finally looked it up and found that it is originally from chili con carne which was made with chiles or chili powder. Make sense now?

I knew after a 6 day diet where my lunches and dinners mainly consisted of salads, I was going to be craving some "real" food come the 7th day. Which is where the Secret Recipe Club fits in perfectly. For this month, I was assigned Cookin' Mimi, which is written by Miche and features a ton of hearty, delicious looking recipes.

The chili with beans immediately caught my eye. Mainly because the weather has turned cooler, but mostly because it definitely feel under my categorization of 'real' food. Plus its made in the crock pot. I'm a sucker for convenience, people. I admit it.

Crock Pot Chili with Beans
Source: Cookin' Mimi
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    • 1.5 lbs. very lean ground beef
    • 2 bell peppers, diced
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tbsp. chili powder
    • 2 tbsp. cumin
    • 2 tsp. oregano
    • 2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 14.5 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes
    • 6 cups spicy V8 tomato juice
    • Optional Toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, jalapeno slices

1. Combine the ground beef, green pepper, onion, and jalapeno together in a skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently until the meat is no longer pink. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
2. Season the mixture with chili powder, cumin and oregano.
3. In a 4 quart crock pot, combine the beans and tomato juice. Add the ground beef mixture to the crock pot and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
4.  Ladle chili into bowls and top with optional toppings if desired.

Yum! I was concerned at first with how long it was taking for the liquid to reduce but it eventually did. This chili is super tasty, and like all chili recipes, is even better the next day. I'm almost sad I didn't make enough for more leftovers!

Weekly Menu 10/7 - 10/11


About a week ago I noticed that when I would upload a picture or add a link to a blog it would just show the broken link image. I figured it was something wrong with Blogger since there were updates around that time. Then I realized that I could see my pictures when I was using my work computer, just not on my home computer. 

Twenty minutes of updating, malware searching and virus scanning later, there was absolutely no reason why this was happening. So I tested it out by using Internet Explorer instead of my trusty old friend Firefox. And interestingly enough, I could see images and links. But there is a small problem. I detest IE. We have never gotten along and I absolutely refuse to use it. 

So I made the decision to download Chrome and see what it was all about. I'm obviously a fan of the Google brand. I have three gmail accounts. I use Blogger. I use Google to search on my computer and on my phone, even though it is an iPhone. I use Drive to hold my pictures and Printer Friendly documents. But, I was still hesitant to use Chrome. I'm not really sure why, but so far we are getting along. Especially because there was an option to import my bookmarks directly from Firefox. And mostly because I can actually see pictures in Compose and HTML. 

I'm sure you don't care about any of that, but I felt like sharing anyway. 

Saturday - Chili 

Sunday - Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Monday - Roasted Pork with Salsa Verde

Tuesday - leftovers

Wednesday - Tacos

Thursday - Shrimp Scampi 

In other news, I went on an apple and pumpkin recipe-search spree and I kinda printed out a ton of them. So I'm going to bake some caramel apple donuts and spiced apple cookies this weekend as well. Check back soon to see all those recipes! 

Recipe Swap: Velvet Pumpkin Bread


The category for this recipe swap was Breakfast. I knew I couldn't miss participating in this swap because I am ALWAYS looking for new breakfast recipes.

And I have to admit, I was more than excited when I received this recipe for Velvet Pumpkin Bread. I still have canned pumpkin leftover in my pantry from last fall. That's how much I like pumpkin. So I couldn't wait to pop open a can and make this bread. Which I did immediately after receiving the recipe.

*My apologies for the picture. This is all i was able to take before the bread was devoured.*

Velvet Pumpkin Bread
Source: Sparks from the Kitchen 
Servings: 2 loaves
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    • 3 cups all purpose flour
    • 2 tsp. baking soda
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 4 eggs, beaten
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
    • 2 cups canned pumpkin
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray 2 9x5 loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the sugar and vegetable oil until smooth then whisk in the eggs. Combine the wet mixture into the flour mixture.
4. Fold in the canned pumpkin until combined. Divide the mixture evenly into the loaf pans.
5. Bake for 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack to let cool before slicing.

I took one loaf into work with a sticky note that read "pumpkin bread, please eat" and it was devoured in a matter of minutes. Everyone said it was delicious! I only tried a small piece of the other loaf that I kept at home and I had to agree.

You just gotta love a quick and easy bread that everyone enjoys!

Asian Pork with Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers


During the first trip we ever made to Wegman's one of the first things I noticed in the produce section was a bag of baby bell peppers. My first thought was that they were cute and my second thought was that I needed to find a recipe where I could use them.

I don't know how or why I began receiving the Weight Watchers magazine. I never signed up for it and I've received enough issues that it wasn't some random 3-issue special deal or something. They just started showing up in the mailbox one day. I'll never pass up recipes, so I went through the magazine and was thrilled to see they had a recipe where I could use the baby bell peppers!

Asian Pork Chops with Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers
Source: Weight Watchers Magazine, July/August 2012
Servings: 4
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Marinade Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. pork tenderloin, visible fat trimmed
    • 2 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 tsp. sesame oil
    • 1 tsp. ground ginger
    • 1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder 
    • 1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted
Stuffed Peppers Ingredients:
    • 8-10 baby bell peppers, halved and seeded
    • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
    • 1/4 cup carrots, chopped
    • 1/4 cup green onions, minced
    • 1 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1. Slice the pork tenderloin into 1 1/2 inch rounds.
2. Combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, sesame oil, ginger and Chinese five-spice powder together. Pour into a sealable bag. Add the pork tenderloin and marinate for at least 1 hour.
3. In a small bowl, combine the rice, carrots and green onions. Add the soy sauce and rice vinegar. Toss to coat.
4. Preheat a grill to high.
5. Place the pork rounds on the grill and grill for 5-7 minutes or until it reaches your desired doneness. Transfer to a plate to let rest. Place the bell peppers on the grill, skin side up, and grill for 3-5 minutes or until lightly charred.
6. Scoop the rice mixture into the bell peppers. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the pork rounds. Serve immediately.

I really enjoyed this. The flavors on the pork were really nice and slightly sweet from the brown sugar and it paired really nicely with the sourness of the rice. Tom wasn't a fan of the rice at all, but he liked the peppers and the pork.  

Coconut Lime Cookie Bars


Back in August, I originally attempted to make Chewy Coconut-Lime Sugar Cookies for my Secret Recipe Club choice, but one look at the dough made me realize that they were not going to turn out the way I wanted them to, and I was right.

I ended up with cookies spread out and ran together into a gigantic cookie blob. This is the same thing that happens to me with snickerdoodle cookies no matter how long I refrigerate the dough. So even though these didn't form a cookie, they were still awfully tasty. I decided to play the spreading out to my advantage and decided to make them in bar form the next time.

Coconut Lime Cookie Bars
Source: The Cookin' Chemist, originally seen in Cooks Illustrated, Nov/Dec 2010
Servings: 24 bars
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    • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 2 oz. cream cheese, cut into small pieces
    • zest and juice of 1 lime, separated
    • 1 egg
    • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 tbsp. milk
    • 2 1/2 cup flour
    • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9x11 baking dish with parchment paper. Melt the butter.
2. Combine the sugar, cream cheese and lime zest together in a large bowl. Pour the melted butter into the sugar mixture and stir until combined.
3.Stir the lime juice, egg, vegetable oil and milk into the mixture until incorporated.
4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, coconut, baking powder and baking soda. Stir to combine and then fold into the wet mixture, mixing just until thoroughly combined.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Lift the bars out of the baking dish by the parchment paper. Cut into 24 bars.

Sweet and Spicy Green Beans


While the rest of the meal was cooking, I hopped on Allrecipes to see if I could find a new way to prepare green beans. I feel like we constantly eat them the same way which typically means I eat my portion and Tom leaves the majority of his on his plate.

The first search result for "green beans" was a recipe called Sweet and Spicy Green Beans. I didn't even need to look at the ingredients to know I was sold on the recipe. This was definitely not something I had tried before but it sounded delicious.

Sweet and Spicy Green Beans
Source: All Recipes 
Servings: 2
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    • 1/2 lb. fresh green beans, ends trimmed
    • 1 tbsp. butter
    • 1 tsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
    • 1 tsp. garlic chile sauce (like Lee Kum Kee)
    • 1 tsp. honey 
    • 1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted

1. Wrap green beans in a damp paper towel and place in a zip lock bag. Do not seal the bag. Microwave green beans for 1 minute.
2. Leave green beans in microwave with door open for 2-3 minutes to let the steam subside. Remove with an oven mitt.
3. Whisk together the soy sauce, garlic chile sauce and honey together in a small bowl.
4. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the green beans to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned.
5. Remove the pan from the heat. Pour in the soy sauce mixture and toss to coat the green beans.
6. Plate the green beans and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.

Have you tried Buffalo Wild Wing's Asian Zing sauce before? If so, you'll quickly realize that this is essentially that sauce. I overcooked the green beans a bit but this sauce was absolutely incredible! I definitely plan on making these again.

Taco Pizza


I'd admit it, some days I just get a genius idea. Granted, I didn't know this was genius until after I made it and Tom told me so, but genius, nonetheless. I'm aware that I'm not the first person nor will I be the last to think of taco pizza, but hey, it was the first time I ever thought to make it and I didn't consult any recipes so I'm calling it genius.

As much as I'd prefer not to admit it, we tend to eat ground beef at least once a week. There are only so many things that you can do with ground beef and I get bored easily. At the time I created this, I was burger-ed out. I realized we hadn't had tacos in a while, but I didn't feel like making traditional tacos. I also realized that I had just taken advantage of a coupon for Fleischmann's yeast and stocked up on the pizza dough variety. And the idea for taco pizza was born.

For Tom a taco consists of cheese, meat, broken up hard taco shells and taco sauce all mixed together in a bowl. Not a veggie in sight. I prefer mine of the soft shell variety with lots of lettuce and tomato and smidgen of sour cream. For the taco pizza, I decided we were both going out of our comfort zone because I planned on loading down this pizza with as many taco-related ingredients as possible.

Taco Pizza
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 1 10" pizza
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    • 10" pizza crust
    • 1/4 cup lean ground beef
    • 1 tbsp. water
    • 1 tsp. taco seasoning
    • 3 tbsp. taco sauce
    • 3 tbsp. guacamole
    • 3 tbsp. re-fried beans, warmed
    • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1/2 cup fresh salsa
    • 1/2 cup shredded lettuce
    • green onions, for garnish 

1. Preheat the oven (and pizza stone) to 425.
2. Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. Add the water and taco seasoning and stir until combined.
3. Brush the pizza crust with taco sauce. Spread the guacamole and refried beans over the taco sauce.
4. Sprinkle the cheese over the pizza, then top with the seasoned ground beef and fresh salsa. Place the pizza on the pizza stone and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden.
5. Top the pizza with shredded lettuce and green onions (if desired). Serve hot.

I have to admit, this was pretty damn delicious. I wasn't sure what I expected it to taste like, but this really did taste just like a taco on top of a pizza crust. I had a very hard time not going back for seconds and we actually liked this so much, I made it again over the weekend.

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