November 28, 2013

Pumpkin Bars


Happy Thanksgiving! Since I am not a huge fan of pumpkin foods, I was hesitant the first time I tried these bars. To my surprise, they were enjoyable since they weren't pumpkin overload! This is a Williams-Sonoma exclusive recipe :)

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 package yellow cake mix, reserve 1 cup
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 jar Murihead Pecan Pumpkin Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. milk [I used Almond Milk]
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • ¼ cup sugar [I substituted 5 packets of Stevia]
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon 
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9x13" baking dish.
  2. Divide cake mix into a bowl, reserving 1 cup. Stir in the melted butter and one egg until combined, then press the mixture into the bottom of the pan. 
    Every girl needs a sparkly spatula, right!?


  3. In a bowl, mix the Pecan Pumpkin Butter, two eggs and milk; stir until combined. Spread the mixture over top of the pressed cake mix. 


  4. Stir the reserved cup of cake mix with the flour, sugar, and cinnamon; add the softened butter and mix together with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the pumpkin layer. 

    This is the consistency you are looking for


  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Once cooled, cut into squares and enjoy :) 


November 26, 2013

Pecan Pie Cheesecake

Happy Thanksgiving week!
I had Pecan Pie Cheesecake around this time last year before I owned a Springform pan and knew it was something I had to make.
Preparing meals in the kitchen is something I genuinely enjoy and it gives me joy when prepared for others, like this dessert. I have so much to be grateful and thankful for in life. What are you thankful for this season?
Recipe from Heidi's So-Called Life.

INGREDIENTS

Crust
  • 1¾ cups Nilla wafers, crushed
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted
Pecan Filling
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅔ cup corn syrup
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups pecans, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cheesecake Filling
  • 3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • ⅔ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine Nilla wafer crumbs and brown sugar. Stir in melted butter.
  2. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" Springform pan.
  3. Bake for 6 minutes. Set aside to cool. 
Pecan Filling
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Pour into crust and set aside. 

Cheesecake Filling
  1. Reduce oven to 325°F.
  2. With a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.Add brown sugar and flour and beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.
  3. Stir in cream and vanilla; Pour over pecan filling.
  4. Bake for 1 hour. Turn off oven and leave cheesecake in oven with the door closed for an additional hour.
  5. Remove from oven and run a knife along the outside edges to loosen cheesecake from sides of pan. Let cool.
  6. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving and enjoy :) 
Just out of the oven

November 24, 2013

French Toast Casserole


Office breakfasts are the best! It is fun to see the culinary side of coworkers, as it is not something frequently experienced. This casserole was very simple to prepare and is best made the night before. Recipe adapted from Paula Deen.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 (16 oz.) loaf Cinnamon Raisin bread
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups fat free half-and-half
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Dash of salt
  • Praline Topping, recipe below
  • 100% pure Maple Syrup
PRALINE TOPPING
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1. Over your lowest heat setting on you stove, melt the butter, careful to not burn.
  2. Once melted, remove from heat and add all remaining ingredients. Stir until well incorporated.
  3. Store in a glass, ait-tight container overnight. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.
DIRECTIONS
  1. Slice bread into 1-inch cubes and arrange in a well greased 9x13" glass baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, fat free half-and-half, almond milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a whisk until blended but not too bubbly.
  3. Pour mixture over the cubes of bread, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. 
  4. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
  5. The next day, preheat oven to 350°F. Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup and enjoy :)

November 23, 2013

Oreo Cheesecake


With the holiday season approaching quickly, gatherings and get-togethers are sure to be on your calendar. This Oreo Cheesecake is sure to wow your family and friends, and believe me, it is worth every minutes of preparation!
Recipe adapted from CopyKat.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Standing Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes + 24 hours
Serves: 10-16 depending on what size you slice the cheesecake

Please note: For optimal flavor, this tastes best when you allow it to rest for 24 hours before serving.


INGREDIENTS
Crust
  • 1½ cups Oreo cookie crumbs (about 23 Oreos, finely chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 9-inch Springform pan, buttered on the sides and bottom
Filling
  • 3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 8 oz. Plain 0% Greek yogurt
  • About 6 Oreos coarsely chopped for the batter
  • About 14 Oreos coarsely chopped for the top of the cheesecake 

DIRECTIONS
Crust
  1. Mix melted butter with Oreo crumbs. Press mixture in a Springform pan, covering the bottom and going 1½" up the sides with the mixture, set aside.
Filling
  1. All ingredients need to be at room temperature before beginning. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Keep mixer on a low setting during the mixing and beating process. Gradually add sugar and continue beating cream cheese until mixed through. Add eggs one at a time and continue to beat until blended.
  3. Measure the vanilla, salt and flour; pour into the cream cheese and egg mixture and beat until smooth. Add the sour cream and beat well. 
  4. Turn off the mixer and stir in the 6 coarsely chopped Oreos with a spatula. Pour cream cheese into the Springform pan and place the remaining 14 coarsely chopped Oreos on top of the mixture. 
  5. Place pan on the top rack and in the middle of the preheated oven and bake for one hour. The cheesecake will be done when it jiggles slightly in the middle when the pan is gently shaken. If the cheesecake is very jiggily, then cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  6. When the cheesecake is done baking, prop the oven door open and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for an additional hour.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool enough to place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. It is worth the anticipation-- trust me!
  8. 24 hours later, take the cheesecake out of the refrigerator and carefully take it out of the Springform pan. Slice into enough servings for your guests. Enjoy :) 





October 13, 2013

Turkey Chili


Happy fall, y'all! We've had a streak of rain this week, so it has been perfect chili weather. This recipe is best made at least 24 hours prior to serving. Serves 8-10. Recipe adapted from Tone it Up.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 pound ground turkey (I used 93% lean)
  • 1 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cups button mushrooms, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • Ground Cumin, to taste
  • Cayenne, to taste
  • Chili powder, to taste
  • 2 (7 oz.) cans medium diced green chilies
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a 5-qt. cast iron pot, brown the turkey over medium-low heat in the EVOO. Once turkey is cooked, add in the onion, mushrooms, and bell pepper. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until mushrooms and bell peppers are soft.  
  2. Add spices (I did a few taps of each), chilies, tomatoes and beans. Reduce heat to low. Cover and let chili simmer for 20 minutes.  
  3. Turn heat off; let chili come to room temperature. Store in the fridge overnight. Reheat the next day 30 minutes prior to serving. Enjoy!

*Sorry for the iPhone pics :(

September 27, 2013

Hawaiian Chicken with Pineapple Salsa


With summer transitioning into fall, I wanted to squeeze in this warm-weather dish before I had to wait until next summer to try it. This is an easy weeknight dish and was deceivingly filling!

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • BBQ sauce
  • Pineapple Salsa (recipe below)
PINEAPPLE SALSA
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup your choice of onion (i.e. red onion, green onions, or shallots), diced
  • Juice of one lime
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Wash and prep all ingredients for the pineapple salsa. In a medium sized bowl, combine the salsa ingredients. Gently toss to mix evenly; set aside.
  3. Place chicken breasts in a casserole dish. Spoon a thin layer of your favorite BBQ sauce evenly on each of the chicken breasts. Flip the chicken breasts over and spoon sauce on the other side. Pour some of the pineapple juice in the bottom of the baking dish for extra Hawaiian flavor!
  4. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
  5. Before serving, top each chicken breast with desired amount of pineapple and enjoy!


August 12, 2013

Overnight Oats


Recently I've been seeing so many variations for Overnight Oats. What I love about the recipe is that it can be a simple AND healthy grab-and-go breakfast option.

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon Chia seeds
  • 3 oz. Chobani Plain 0% Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • Stevia, to taste
  • Raspberries
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a glass bowl, combine oats, chia seeds, Greek yogurt, almond milk, cinnamon, and stevia.
  2. Once all ingredients are evenly incorporated, spoon half of the mixture into a glass jar. Then add a few raspberries. Add the remaining half of the mixture, then top with more raspberries.
  3. Seal jar and allow the oat mixture to sit overnight in the refrigerator. Grab for breakfast and enjoy!
*NOTES
  • The longer the mixture sits, the better!
  • If mixture is too stiff in the morning, stir in some more almond milk, a little at a time, to desired consistency.
  • If oats aren't sweet enough, sprinkle with more stevia.
What are your favorite variations?

August 11, 2013

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Baseballs


Strawberries are in their prime and baseball is still in season. These chocolate covered strawberry baseballs are the perfect indulgence for enjoying America's pastime.

INGREDIENTS
  • Large strawberries
  • Wilton candy melts
  • Wilton piping bags
  • Parchment paper
DIRECTIONS
  1. Wash and dry strawberries. Make sure strawberries are at room temperature before dipping!
  2. Heat white chocolate candy melts in a microwave safe mug (this was better than a bowl since it was deeper) then carefully dip the strawberries and place them on the parchment paper to harden.
  3. Once the white chocolate has hardened, melt the red chocolate candy melts in the piping bag. Carefully remove from the microwave and pipe the baseball laces onto the strawberry. Let chocolate dry, then serve and enjoy!

July 4, 2013

Patriotic Parfaits


Happy 4th of July, y'all! Here is a figure-friendly breakfast (or even dessert) that can be best enjoyed chilled and with good company, wherever you are celebrating America's Independence. Serves 2.

INGREDIENTS
  • Fresh, local strawberries
  • Fresh, local blueberries
  • Chobani 0% Greek yogurt
DIRECTIONS
  1. Rinse and dry the berries. Chop strawberries into bite size pieces.
  2. Divide blueberries evenly among two serving glasses, filling it 1/3 of the way.
  3. Next, dollop the Greek yogurt evenly among the glasses, filling it the next 1/3 of the way.
  4. Finally, place chopped strawberries on top of the Greek yogurt, filling it the final 1/3. If desired, sprinkle a little bit of stevia on top and enjoy :)
What will you be enjoying this fourth of July?

July 3, 2013

Red White & Blue Burgers



Red, white, and blue.
Just in time for the 4th of July! Grab your friends and get your grills ready for this mouthwatering, juicy burger! Recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma. Serves 4.


INGREDIENTS
For the caramelized onion jam (optional):
  • 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. dried thyme leaves
  • ¼ cup agave syrup

For the burgers:
  • 1 ½ lb. ground sirloin (I used 90% lean)
  • Worcestershire sauce, a few dashes
  • Red wine, a few dashes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
  • Bacon, cooked

DIRECTIONS
For the caramelized onion jam:
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the onion, vinegar, wine, sugar and thyme, then bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the agave syrup and stir to coat the onion. Cook until the onion begins to caramelize and the mixture is thick and syrupy, careful to not allow the jam to burn. Serve immediately.
For the burgers:
  1. Put the ground beef in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add desired amounts of Worcestershire sauce and red wine. 
  2. With wet hands, work the seasoning and liquids into the meat, careful not to overwork it.
  3. Divide the meat into 4 portions and shape each patty similar for even cooking. Place in the fridge on a tray lined with wax paper until grill is ready.
  4. Prepare the grill, then grill the burgers directly over high heat until they are nicely grill-marked and their juices begin to rise to the surface, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the burgers and grill the other side for the same amount of time.
  5. Serve the burgers on the hamburger buns topped with the blue cheese, caramelized onion jam, and bacon. Enjoy! :)
  6. (Amazingness, just waiting for its bacon)
    (Ta dah!!)
    I hope you all have a safe and happy 4th of July holiday! xo

June 17, 2013

Bacon and Gruyère Mac & Cheese


I stumbled upon this recipe and knew it was one that would be enjoyed by all. Who doesn't love bacon?! The original recipe calls for rosemary, but not being a huge fan, I omitted it. Feel free to include it if you wish!
Overall, this was such a simple dish. It requires no baking and everything can be made in one pot, making for easy clean up!

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 quart heavy cream (I used fat free)
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ pound bacon, cooked, drained & broken into small bits
  • 1 pound whole grain elbow macaroni noodles
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) Gruyère cheese, grated
  • Chopped chives
DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook elbow noodles according to package directions. Reserve 3 teaspoons pasta water.
  2. Place cream in large pot over low heat. Add salt and pepper. Slowly bring to boil and keep at boil until reduced by half. Be patient as this takes time.
  3. Stir in bacon and pasta and simmer until hot; add the Gruyère and 3 teaspoons pasta water. Stir until cheese is melted.
  4. Garnish with chopped chives. Serve immediately. Enjoy :)