Monday, October 26, 2020

Pumpkin Donut Holes

It's pumpkin season! I know some of you have been eating and drinking pumpkin flavored things for a while now, but I need it to be well into October before I succumb to the madness. Just kidding, it's not madness. I do love pumpkin, and there's plenty of evidence on this blog to prove it. Pumpkin Gingerbread, FIVE varieties of pumpkin  muffins (herehereherehere and here!), DanishCrepesPancakesDonuts and WafflesBars with Cream Cheese Frostingwith oatmealwith white chocolate,  CakeAngelfood Cakea cake rollcupcakeswhoopie piessnickerdoodlesIce CreamPie, and even Pasta!  Whew! There are lots of options here. And this is just the tip of the pumpkin iceberg, I'm sure.

But these little guys. They win the day. Or the week, the month, or all of 2020, possibly. For me, it's hard to resist anything that is dipped in butter then coated with cinnamon sugar. But it's especially impossible if they're pumpkin to start with. I knew my waistline was in trouble when I decided to make these, but friends, they are worth every calorie. 

These are baked in a mini muffin tin, so they're not technically donut holes, but they can easily pass. And since they are baked and not fried, you can eat a few more. They are absolutely delicious and make the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of coffee on a Saturday morning. What are you doing this weekend? Making these, I hope.

Pumpkin Donut Holes

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla

4 Tbsp. butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside. 

In a separate bowl or large measuring cup (like a batter bowl), mix together the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, egg, milk, butter, and vanilla until fully combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Spoon the batter into greased mini muffin tins, getting each cavity about 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the donut hole comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove the donut holes from the pan to a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a microwavable bowl. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a separate bowl and mix together well. Take each donut hole and coat it with the melted butter. Then dip it into the cinnamon and sugar mixture, making sure to coat well. Return to the rack to slightly dry. Serve immediately.

(Note: If you're making these ahead of time, do not coat with butter and sugar until you're close to serving time.)

 Recipe Source: Live Well Bake Often

Monday, October 19, 2020

Coconut Cheesecake Bars

It's about that time of year when you need a little bit of a warm up...the seasons are changing and here in Minnesota, we're expecting up to FIVE INCHES of snow tomorrow. Good gracious!  Last night I made Irish Stew and Beer Bread and there are several soups on the docket this week, including Cauliflower Cheddar and Sweet Potato and Sausage

But another thing that warms me up, both literally and figuratively, is a dessert that reminds me of the tropics. And this is just the one. This coconut cheesecake is rich tasting but not overwhelming, and has the perfect balance of crunchy, chewy coconut and creamy goodness. 

I love fillings. However, I think the my favorite part of these bars is the CRUST. A salty, shortbread-y, addictively delicious crust sits under that fantastic filling. I may have been caught cutting off "just a bite" of these bars time and time again...even for breakfast.

This dessert makes the perfect ending to a dinner party, or a weekday dessert. You can dress it up with fresh fruit, or maybe a fancy fruit puree on the plate under the bar. Or you can simply slice off a piece for breakfast. However you serve it, or eat it, you will be delighted.

Coconut Cheesecake Bars

1/4 cup butter, melted, cooled completely
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

8 oz cream cheese softened (low fat is ok)
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter and sugar and stir until well mixed. Add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter will be thick. 

Press the crust dough onto the bottom of an 8" square pan that is lined with foil. Set aside. 

In a mixing bowl, whisk together cream cheese and sugar. Add flour, egg and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in coconut. Pour cheesecake mixture over the crust. Spread evenly. 

Bake at 375 for 33 to 36 minutes or until the center doesn't jiggle anymore and the top is golden. Cool completely before slicing. Serves 9-12.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Butternut and Brussels Hash with Chicken and Keilbasa

Oh, Autumn. Such a great time to cook and eat. Squash, pumpkin, apples....what are your favorite fall foods? I love cooking with those, and also starting to make soups again. And then there's all the comfort food dishes that feel too heavy for summer, like stroganoff, pot pie, lasagna, etc. It's fun to get those back in the rotation.

(And not to be dissin' on Summer. I LOVE SUMMER. I love when we can grill nearly every night, make lots of salads, eat tons of fruit in season, etc. So this is not a slam on Summer. It's a praise of Autumn. Just to be clear.)

So now that butternut squash and brussels sprouts are in season, you can whip up this easy hash for a quick week night meal. The original recipe did not call for keilbasa, but I added it because I think it compliments the brussels well, and adds a little pizazz. I think this hash would be really good with a variety of meats if you have leftovers - like carnitas, cubed ham, pork tenderloin. 

And I love eating these colors - orange and green look so beautiful in the pan, and are SO good for you -- they are chock full of vitamins A, B, C and K. 

As with all butternut squash recipes, the hardest part is cutting up the squash. I've seen the precut stuff in the stores now, so if you need to save time and strength, feel free to use that. The veggies take a quick steam bath in the microwave and then are sauteed til golden. Add back in the meats and you have a delicious autumn dinner. Even my picky eater really liked this, so that's a true endorsement...

Get more great ideas at Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul, Tasty Tuesday

Butternut and Brussels Hash with Chicken and Keilbasa

3 cups chopped butternut squash (about 12 oz)
1 Tbsp. water
2 cups quartered Brussels sprouts
4 bacon slices, chopped
8 oz. keilbasa, sliced into half moons
1 cup cooked, chopped chicken
1 cup chopped yellow or white onion
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

Place squash and  water in a medium microwavable bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave 2 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts; cover with plastic wrap, and microwave until vegetables are tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer squash and Brussels sprouts to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add bacon, and cook, stirring often, until just starting to crisp, about 5 minutes. If there is more than about 1 Tbsp. bacon grease, remove the excess grease.

To the remaining bacon grease (and bacon) in the pan, add keilbasa, chicken, onion, garlic and thyme; cook until onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; stir in vinegar. Transfer to a bowl. 

Increase heat to high. Add oil to skillet; swirl to coat. Add squash mixture; cook, stirring often, until mixture begins to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add chicken mixture to squash mixture; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.  Serves 4-6.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

Monday, September 28, 2020

Chicken Pot Pie Baked Potatoes

Today really feels like fall, at least in this neck of the woods. So it's time for a fall-like meal, good comfort food that fills you up and warms you up. This meal is just the ticket. I started making this last spring, but it quickly got too hot to recommend that you add this meal to your list in May! However, these were such a big hit with my family that I think we ate them three weeks in a row. That's really unusual for us, but they are just that good.

We love to bake potatoes in the air fryer. If you have an air fryer and haven't used it for potatoes, now's your chance! They bake up beautifully with a crispy outside and tender inside. I put a light coating of olive oil and coarse salt on the potatoes, then air fry them for about 12-15 minutes per side at 400. The recipe below indicates baking the potatoes in the oven, so do whatever works best for you.

While the potatoes bake, you can make the sauce. It's really easy, and so delicious! We enjoyed these topped with a little cheese, but they are just as good without the cheese. You could also add a little bacon if you wanted to get crazy. 

Chicken and vegetables swimming in a yummy sauce is one of life's greatest gifts. Trust me.  

Find more great ideas at Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul.

Chicken Pot Pie Baked Potatoes

3 Tbsp. butter
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1 cup frozen peas
2-3 cups cooked, chopped chicken
6 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed
Shredded cheddar cheese, for topping

Lightly rub the potatoes with olive oil and wrap each potato in tin foil. Pierce through the foil and skin of the potato with a fork a couple of times. Bake the potatoes at 400 for an hour or until tender.

Toward the end of baking time, make the sauce by melting the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes. 

Slowly add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth whisking quickly until thick and combined (adding a little liquid at a time will help avoid lumps). Continue adding 1/2 cup of the broth and milk at a time until it has all been stirred into the skillet and the sauce is smooth and creamy. 

Cook the mixture at a low simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is thickened. Stir in the peas and chicken and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve over baked potatoes with cheddar cheese, if desired. Serves 6.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Monster Cookies

Even if you're not a monster, you will love these cookies. They are chock full of all good things: coconut, candies, chocolate chips, oatmeal, and pretzel pieces for a little added salt. 

But the sky is the limit with add ons for these cookies: you could use other flavors of baking chips, different candies, raisins, nuts etc. Feel free to omit what you don't like and add in what you do! Make these cookies your own. (Try to stay within about 2 1/2 cups of add ins total; that way there will still be enough "batter" left so the cookies hold together.) 

Even though these are called "monster," I tend not to make them in a monster size. If you want to make
them really large, just increase the baking time by a few minutes. Myself, I prefer to have MORE cookies, so I make them just larger than a regular chocolate chip variety. 

C is for Cookie; that's good enough for me. 

Monster Cookies

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup M&Ms
1/2 cup broken up pretzel pieces

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, baking soda and salt. Then stir in the melted butter and peanut butter, followed by the oats and flour. Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips, coconut, pretzel pieces and M&M's. Let the dough rest (at room temperature) for 30 minutes.

Using a large cookie scoop or two large spoons, drop the dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silpat mats. Use your fingers to flatten the dough slightly. 

Bake at 350 for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the cookies are a light golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.  These cookies also freeze well. 

Recipe Source: Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Cookie Butter Rice Krispie Bars


If you want a crowd pleasing dessert that's a cinch to throw together, look no further than these amazing Cookie Butter Rice Krispie Bars. A little bit of cookie butter spooned into "regular" Rice Krispie Bars, and then drizzled on top, makes an ordinary treat extraordinary.

I made these for Labor Day weekend and took them to the lake, and they disappeared very quickly. Even very discerning adults, who don't "normally" like Rice Krispie Bars were a big fan of these. And that's about the most ringing endorsement you can get.

Cookie Butter Rice Krispie Bars

1/2 cup butter
16 oz package Marshmallows 
1 tsp. Vanilla 
1/2 cup Cookie Butter, plus more for drizzling
9 cups Rice Krispies Cereal

In a Dutch oven, melt butter over medium low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until marshmallows are melted are smooth. Stir in vanilla and cookie butter. Add Rice Krispies and gently stir until all the cereal is coated.

Press into a greased 9x13 pan. Put about 2 Tbsp. cookie butter in a microwave safe measuring cup or dish and heat for 15 seconds. Drizzle on top of bars. Let cool/rest for at least an hour before cutting and serving. 

Recipe Source: Adapted from Buucks Farms Bakery

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Enchiladas Guadalajara

These enchiladas are called different things depending on which restaurant you order them from, but I liked Enchiladas Guadalajara the best, so that's what we're going with. It really doesn't matter what they're called; the important part is how delicious they are, and how easy they are to make. 

They're a little different from most enchiladas in that while the inside is good, it's the outside that's the star here.
Cheese enchiladas are topped with carnitas and sauteed peppers and onions. So in every bite you get the cheesy goodness, the tangy/spicy sauce and the delicious meat and fresh veggies. It's really a super combination. The sauce is so easy to make, but you can used a canned red enchilada sauce if you prefer. 

And you might as well make a big batch of carnitas (my pork roast is usually 3 times as big as this recipe calls for!) so you can also make brunch tostadas and Cuban quesadillas later in the week...

Enchiladas Guadalajara 

2 cups Carnitas 
1/2 large white onion, sliced 
1 red pepper, sliced into strips 
2 cups shredded Mexican or colby jack cheese 
8 corn tortillas 
2 cups tomato sauce 
1 1/2 cup beef broth 
1/2 tsp. cumin 
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper 

For the sauce, combine the tomato sauce, beef broth, cumin and cayenne in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and simmer for a few minutes to combine the flavors. 

Heat a small skillet over high heat and add the corn tortillas, one at a time, to soften. Cook them on each side for about 20 seconds. Pour about 1 cup of sauce into the bottom of an 11x7 baking dish. Fill each tortilla with 1/4 cup of cheese, then roll up and put seam side down in the sauce. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until the cheese is mostly melted. 

In the meantime, saute onions and peppers in a large skillet until nicely browned, but still 'al dente.' (About 5 minutes) Top enchiladas with another cup of sauce (you won't use all the sauce), then top with the carnitas and vegetables. Return to the oven for 10 minutes. Serves 4.
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