Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies

If you are looking for an easy, delicious, hand-held, pumpkin-spice flavored dessert for Thanksgiving, I have the perfect recipe for you. These Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies are the most ridiculously moist, soft, and chewy cookies I have ever tasted. They really do 'melt in your mouth'! Ok... this recipe is by no means a 'skinny' recipe (just look at all that butter!), but the cookies turned out so delicious I had to share. I only made a half batch, but they started to disappear so quickly I should have made the whole batch!


Seriously, this pumpkin cookie recipe is a keeper!! I think they might be my new favorite cookie of ALL TIME. Nom Nom!!

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies
recipe from www.bhg.com
Makes: about 60 cookies


Ingredients:
2 cups butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 15 ounce can pumpkin
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
Ground cinnamon (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat 2 cups butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Add eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in pumpkin. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.

2. Drop dough by heaping teaspoons 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are set. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.

3. In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar until melted and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Spread frosting on cookies. If desired, sprinkle with additional cinnamon. Makes about 60 cookies.


I'm taking these pumpkin cookies to my co-workers tomorrow as a pre-Thanksgiving treat! I am confident they will be a hit!! SO GOOD! Although you don't have to frost them... I think frosting the cookies and sprinkling them with cinnamon definitely adds another (amazing) layer of flavor to the cookie.

Oh I'm in love.....

Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!!

*Janel*


Sunday, November 24, 2013

'Lightened-Up' Eggnog Quick Bread

I love the Holidays for many reasons... one of them being Eggnog!!! Not only do I enjoy a small glass of low-fat eggnog with a splash of rum and a dash of nutmeg, but I also enjoy eggnog in my baked goods. I tried this recipe for Eggnog Quick Bread from allrecipes.com a few years ago... and thoroughly enjoyed it! The last time I made it, I stuck to the original (full-fat, full-calorie) recipe and it was to die for... seriously, it was "I ate an entire mini loaf in one sitting" delicious. But anything with 1/2 cup of butter is delicious right?!

So this time I made the quick bread I decided to 'lighten' it up, seeing as how Thanksgiving is in a few days (saving my calories for that!). I used light eggnog instead of regular, reduced the white sugar by 1/4 cup, and replaced the 1/2 cup butter with 1/3 cup of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter or margarine.


The result is a dense, moist sweet bread that (in Amy's words) tastes just like The Holidays... without all the original fat and calories! It would be a great bread for breakfast or dessert, or it could even be wrapped up and given as a gift! YUM... so delicious!!

'Lightened-Up' Eggnog Quick Bread
based on a recipe from allrecipes.com

  • 2 eggs, beaten  
  • 1 cup eggnog, light or reduced fat
  • 2 teaspoons rum flavored extract
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup margarine (or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter), softened
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease bottom only of a 9x5-inch loaf pan, or three 3x5-inch loaf pans.

Blend together the eggs, eggnog, rum extract, sugar, vanilla and butter.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add to eggnog mixture and stir just enough to moisten; pour into prepared pan or pans.

Bake large loaf for 40 to 60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Breads baked in the smaller pans require 35 to 40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, and remove from pan.

Cool completely, wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil, and store in refrigerator.


This is a great way to use up any leftover eggnog from your holiday celebrations too!

*Enjoy*

Janel

Friday, November 15, 2013

Acorn Squash with Apple-Spinach Stuffing

TGIF!!! Well it's Friday night... normally I would go out with Amy or friends and try a new restaurant, but I have been resting and eating healthy/clean this week since I have a half marathon (13.1 miles) to run on Sunday. So instead of going out and trying a new indulgent dish from a restaurant, I am staying in and trying a new healthy recipe from my kitchen! 

It's been a blustery, cold fall day so a warm, comfort-food, type dinner sounded good. I happened to have an acorn squash on-hand... that's right, they are not just for decoration! So what do you do with an acorn squash you ask? Well, if you are me... then you bake it and stuff it full of healthy ingredients! 


The end result is a warm, one-dish, hearty, delicious and nutritious dinner. I love the combination of fall flavors; the acorn squash with the apple, spinach, celery, and raisins is amazing!! The bread crumb and nut mixture is so crunchy, it adds a lot of texture to the dish. And do I even need to talk about the cheese on top!?! Cheese makes everything better, right?! 


This Acorn Squash dish is warm, comforting, and hearty. It is great as a main course (you could even add turkey, ham, chicken, sausage to the stuffing mix?) or as a side dish! Yum...

Acorn Squash with Apple-Spinach Stuffing
based on a recipe from www.tasteofhome.com

Ingredients:
  • 2 acorn squash
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped apple
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 package (10 ounces) fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 6 tablespoons whole wheat panko crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons pecans (I used pine nuts), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, reduced fat

Directions:
Microwave the squash for a few minutes (about 4) in order to cut it safely. Cut squash in half; discard seeds. 


Place squash, cut side down, in an ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Fill pan with hot water to a depth of 1/2 in. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 40 minutes.


Meanwhile, in a skillet, saute celery, apple, raisins and onions in oil until tender. Add the spinach and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook and stir until spinach is wilted.


In a bowl, combine the panko crumbs, pecans and remaining salt. 

Remove baking pan from oven, drain water. Turn squash cut side up. Stuff with spinach mixture; sprinkle crumb mixture over top. Dot with butter. Top with shredded cheese. 



Bake 15 minutes longer or until the squash is tender and cheese is melted. 



Yield: 4 servings

I really enjoyed everything about this Acorn Squash dish... the flavors, textures, and the fact that it's healthy, filling and satisfying too. I will definitely be trying the recipe again! I think next time I will add turkey kielbasa sausage...

Have a great weekend... Enjoy!

*Janel*

Monday, November 11, 2013

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

Today is Veterans Day! Thank you to all the men and women who have served this country... past, present, and future. We are the land of the free because of the brave!

Like many others, I had the day off today... but I really had to be productive! I had errands to run and chores around the house to do, so I decided it was be the perfect day for a slow cooker soup. That way, dinner would already be done by the time I finished my "to-do" list... and that's one less thing I would have to worry about tonight!! I love how quick and easy it is to prep and clean up a slow cooker meal.

Amy and I have been discussing making a batch of corn chowder for awhile now... so Slow Cooker Corn Chowder for dinner tonight it is! I found a couple of tasty-looking recipes, read the reviews, then put together my own recipe using the ingredients I liked the best and taking the advice of others.


This Slow Cooker Corn Chowder is so quick and easy to throw together... and it turns out super hearty and delicious!!!

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder
based on a recipe from tasteofhome.com

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 cups fat-free milk
  • 2 cans (14-3/4 ounces) cream-style corn
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of celery soup
  • 2-3/4 cups frozen corn
  • 2 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups lean cooked ham, cubed
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Directions:
In a large slow cooker, combine all ingredients.


Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

This Slow Cooker Corn Chowder recipe is one that will be around for a long time... it's perfect! The chowder is not too rich or buttery like many chowders can be. It's still creamy but not heavy. It's sweet but also savory. It has great texture from the corn and potatoes. I added enough black pepper to give it a little kick. Basically, I pretty much love everything about it...


Hope you enjoy as much as I did!! It would be a great addition to your fall/winter Slow Cooker rotation. :)

*Janel*

Orange Pumpkin Loaf

Once again I am trying out a recipe from a Google search for two specific ingredients I wanted to use... this time, Orange and Pumpkin! I found a delicious-looking, fall-inspired Orange Pumpkin Loaf recipe that uses the ENTIRE orange, peel and all! I think it's great the entire orange is used, the peel of the orange has so much flavor to offer and that also means there is no waste. Oh and the best part... chopping an entire orange means I get to use my favorite toy the Cuisinart Smart Stick, which has an electric hand chopper/grinder attachment!


Maybe I was too excited about the orange grinding because, truth be told, I totally screwed up the baking soda and baking powder amounts. Have you ever picked up a 1/2 tbsp. measuring spoon and thought it was a 1/2 tsp.? Yeah, it happens. And of course I didn't realize I had done it until the pan was in the oven. Oooops! Well the house smelled so good when I was baking the bread, I couldn't wait to get it out of the oven and try a big, warm piece topped with cream cheese regardless of how it turned out.


Despite my mix-up with the amounts of baking soda and powder... this Orange Pumpkin Loaf turned out delicious! The consistency of the bread is probably a little different from what the original recipe would be... however, it is still very moist and totally edible. Ummm... yummm! You can really taste that orange!

Orange Pumpkin Loaf
based on a recipe from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
1 large orange
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup chopped raisins (or dried cranberries)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

Cut orange into wedges, and remove seeds. Place orange, peel and all, in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped; set aside.



In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the pumpkin, water, and the ground orange. Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir into batter just until moistened. Stir in raisins. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes, then remove from pan, and cool on a wire rack.


I will definitely try making this sweet bread again... using the correct amounts of baking soda and baking powder (silly me). I love the combination of orange and pumpkin, and how moist this bread is!!! It would be a great addition to a holiday breakfast or brunch. It tastes soooooo good warm and topped with some cream cheese. Next time I might try using dried cranberries instead of raisins...


Enjoy!

*Janel*

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Crunchy Baked Apple Slices

Last week I bought a big bag of whole wheat Panko crumbs to use in the Baked Orange Chicken I was making for Halloween dinner. Of course I didn't use the whole bag and immediately started day-dreaming about what else I could make with the leftover Panko crumbs. Another crispy baked chicken dish seemed too obvious, so once again I headed down the experimental dessert route (I blame this tendency on my crazy sweet tooth). 


All I had to do was type "panko in desserts" into the search engine and to my surprise, my options were unlimited! I found an easy, delicious-looking recipe for Baked Apple Rings that called for regular Panko crumbs... Yeay for easy! So I used that recipe to create my own version of the tasty treat... Crunchy Baked Apple Slices! I just made some adjustments to the amounts of original ingredients and the way the apples were prepared. 


These Crunchy Baked Apple Slices smelled SO GOOD baking, I couldn't wait to dig in. They are the perfect, crunchy dessert finger-food... they are like apple fries!  You can sprinkle the baked apple slices with powdered sugar, or drizzle caramel sauce or maple syrup on them... or just eat them alone. I melted caramel bits and drizzled the caramel over the baked apple slices when they were warm out of the oven. They are super yummy!! Super crunchy! Super easy! And super fun!


Crunchy Baked Apple Slices
based on a recipe from www.ohbiteit.com

2 medium apples (any variety)
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
2 cups whole wheat Panko Crumbs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350(f) degrees.

Wash, core, and cut apple into 1/2″ slices.


Set up a “breading station”. Bowl #1 - Flour (with the cinnamon & sugar added and mixed well), Bowl #2 - The eggs, beaten, Bowl #3 - the Panko crumbs.


Dip each apple slice into the flour, then into the eggs, then the Panko… that order is VERY important! Make sure that they get fully coated in each bowl, so the Panko can cover as much of the apple as possible. Lay apples on a greased rack, over a baking sheet. 


Bake apples for about 45 minutes, or until golden and crispy... keep checking!


Serve warm (with some maple syrup, or caramel sauce, or a dusting of powdered sugar). 



I really enjoyed the crunch of the crispy Panko on the outside, with the soft, baked apple inside! These "Apple Fries" are a fun, tasty, hand-held treat!

Enjoy!

*Janel*