Thursday, October 24, 2013


In honor of the temperatures hitting the high 50's this morning (it's practically about to snow!), I wanted to share a few pumpkin recipes I've made the past couple of weeks!  The first two are real-life breakfast recipes....Pumpkin Pie Smoothies and Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal.  The third, Biscoff Cookie Pumpkin Bread, I like to pretend it's a breakfast food.  Yes, it's basically a loaf-shaped cake with cookies on top.  But it's called "bread," and bread is totally acceptable for breakfast.  
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Holy cow, this is so yummy.  It definitely tastes like a pumpkin milkshake, but it's actually really healthy and filling.  I've seen a lot of different recipes for this floating around Pinterest, so I sort of combined elements of those with what I like in my usual smoothies, and threw together my own recipe.  This would be really good with butterscotch or vanilla pudding mix, too.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
makes 1 large smoothie

1/4 cup canned pumpkin
a hand full of ice cubes 
1/4 cup dry oats
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional- makes it more filling)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 packet Jello Sugar Free White Chocolate Pudding mix
1/4-1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk (to consistency)

Throw all ingredients in blender and blend until it's the consistency you like.  Top with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.  
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal:

This is another recipe I sort of just threw together this morning.  It was so lovely outside, so I decided to grab my (pumpkin spice) coffee and a bowl of pumpkin pie oatmeal and dig through some cookbooks for some nice, warm, comfort foods to cook this week.  (BTW- does anyone else find that they have a TON of cookbooks, but get their recipes mostly from Pinterest?  I had forgotten how much I love just sitting and reading cookbooks!)  This is another really filling breakfast, and perfect for chilly mornings!  I think I'm going to make a big batch to take to work for breakfasts throughout the week.  

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
makes 1 serving

1/2 cup instant dry oats
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp brown sugar
splash of almond milk

1.  Stir together oats and water in a microwaveable bowl.  Microwave for 2 minutes.
2.  Spoon pumpkin and brown sugar on top of oats and cook another 30-45 seconds, until brown sugar starts to melt.
3.  Stir in pumpkin, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and almond milk.  Enjoy!
Biscoff Cookie Pumpkin Bread

*I totally forgot to take a picture of this.  I found the recipe on another blog, but with copyrights and stuff, I'm not sure if I can use their pictures...not sure how that works.  I don't want to be a copyright infringer, so look here for the original recipe and pictures!  Hers are probably better than mine, anyway!*

We have the sweetest neighbors ever.  You see, Garrett adopted my crazy pup when I moved in.  Rocky is a sweet, adorable, loving dog, but has a bit of separation anxiety, which worsened when we moved here.  Let's just say a couple of windows, a bathroom door, and some fishing poles have been harmed while Garrett and I were out running errands (on more than one occasion).  After a lot of brainstorming (and trial and error), we ended up building Rocky a pretty sweet shaded pen in the backyard (and when I say "pen," I mean bigger than some bedrooms I've had).  Our neighbors moved in shortly after I did, and just happen to LOVE dogs.  They lost 3 doggies in one year to old age, and couldn't bring themselves to go through that pain again so they never got a new dog.  One day, our neighbors talked to Garrett and ASKED if they could watch Rocky sometime.  They watched him for a couple of weekends when we went out of town, and then ASKED if they could come over and get him during the day when we're at work!  Lonely pup in need of ear scratches and belly rubs + super-sweet doggy-loving neighbors who love giving pup attention all day = win-win situation.  Our neighbors always tell us how much they love Rocky, but we are SO grateful to have such loving sweet people to watch him for us when we're gone!  I think it's just as good for Rocky as it is for them!  

Last week I wanted to take them a small thank-you gift.  I decided to bake them something special and had been wanting to try this recipe for awhile (how can you go wrong with Biscoff cookies and pumpkin?!?!).  I doubled the recipe and took a loaf next door, and kept a loaf for us (and by us, I mean me, since I think I ate the whole loaf, minus the one bite I made Garrett try).  If you make any pumpkin bread this fall, make this one.  Holy cow.  So delicious.  

Biscoff Cookie Pumpkin Bread
makes one loaf
recipe courtesy of Will Cook for Smiles

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup Biscoff cookie crumbs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice (I used a heaping tsp pumpkin pie spice instead of the 3 spices)

1/2 cup Biscoff cookie crumbs
1/2 stick butter, cold
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1.  Preheat oven to 350 and grease a loaf pan.  
2.  For cookie crumbs: pulse half a package of Biscoff cookies in food processor until you get fine crumbs.  (Or do what I did and put them in a Ziplock baggie and pound the heck out of them with the can of pumpkin). 
3..  Whisk wet ingredients and brown sugar together in a bowl until smooth.
4.  Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices into the wet mixture.  Add cookie crumbs and whisk until incorporated. 
5.  Pour batter into pan, spreading evenly.
6.  For the streusel: pulse cold butter, cookie crumbs and cinnamon in a food processor until crumbly.  (Or do what I did and cut the butter into cubes and cut cookie crumbs and cinnamon in with a pastry cutter/fork).  Sprinkle crumbs evenly over the batter.
7.  Bake 55-60 minutes and cool on wire rack (if you can wait that long).  Remove from pan and eat the whole loaf eat a small slice.  :)

I hope you enjoy these pumpkin recipes as much as I do!  This week since it's getting chilly (for Florida) I'm making a couple of different soups and a pasta dish that will be some nice, yummy comfort food.  I'll share those recipes later this week. :)  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Crockpot Chicken Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Fall has finally arrived in nasty, humid, muggy Florida.  I'm told it's only for a couple of days, but today the temperatures finally dipped below 80 and it's so lovely to sit on the front porch and write.  I really hope this lasts, because I have a lot of boots, sweaters and scarves in my closet that are very lonely and calling my name.

So since the last recipe I shared was kind of a dud, I thought I'd share a much better one.  I've made this twice in the past 2 weeks.  Last week it was proclaimed Garrett's favorite, when he said "if I got this in a restaurant, I would order another one."  I made it again last night, as it's probably the easiest thing to put together, and he said he could probably eat it every day.  I found the recipe for Crockpot Cheesesteak Pulled Chicken on How Sweet It Is (one of my favorite food blogs!).  I halved the original recipe, because our Crockpot is on the small side, but it was the perfect amount for the two of us, with some leftovers for lunch the next day.  Last week, I sliced some sweet potatoes into fries, tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper, and baked on a cookie sheet at 450 for about 30 minutes.  Last night, we went old school with some tater tots.  This recipe literally takes 5 minutes to throw in the Crockpot and tastes amazing.  Enjoy!
Crockpot Chicken Cheesesteak Sandwiches
Serves 2 (plus some leftovers)
Adapted from How Sweet It Is

1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 large sweet onion, sliced
3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)
2-3 cloves garlic
4 oz beer (whatever you have in the fridge- I used Amber Bock)
smoked paprika
4-6 oz shredded cheddar cheese (or your favorite type of cheese)
Kaiser sandwich buns (from the grocery store bakery)

1.  Layer sliced green peppers and onions in the bottom of your Crockpot.  Top with garlic.  
2.  Season chicken thighs with salt, pepper, and paprika.  Place on top of onions and peppers.
3.  Pour beer over chicken, peppers and onions and cook on high for 6 hours.
4.  Around 4 hours, start to shred the chicken with 2 forks and stir into the sauce. 
5.  After 6 hours, use a ladle to drain any excess liquid (I saved mine and froze it for next time!).  Stir in cheese. 
6.  Serve on toasted buns with desired condiments (we love mayo!) and top with extra cheese. 

I promise I'm not a drunk, but I might have finished this beer...before noon.  

It's not photogenic.  But it's tasty.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pumpkin Tortellini Alfredo

My apologies for the delay in posting my first pumpkin recipe of the season.  I sort of put it off for two reasons:

1.  It was  It was mediocre and could use some tweaking, and I was debating posting a "just okay" recipe. 

2.  This past week was ridiculously insane and I didn't cook a single thing.  You see, MY BEST FRIEND IN THE ENTIRE WORLD GOT MARRIED this past weekend, and I of course had my maid of honor duties to fulfill.  I have to say, it was truly the best wedding I have ever been to (I overheard quite a few people say the same thing...) and I am so over the moon happy for my bestie.  They head out for their honeymoon this morning, so I can't wait to have an hours-long phone conversation with her when she gets back!! 

So, like I said.  This recipe is okay.  I was expecting so much more and was just a little disappointed in how it turned out.  I followed the recipe exactly, but it was just missing something.  I haven't had a chance to tweak it up (and believe me, I want to play around with this one, because it has so much potential!), but it just needs more pumpkin, flavor, something.  

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't disgusting by any means, and it was a decent quick meal to throw together after work.  I think next time I'll add a bit more pumpkin, more parmesan, maybe some bacon or prosciutto, roasted garlic, and some sage.  But here's the recipe I followed.  I also added the rest of the rotisserie chicken I used from the last recipe...just shredded it up and threw it in the sauce with the pasta.  I steamed up some fresh broccoli and served it on the side as well.

I have to say that Mr. Garrett only had a couple of bites of this.  When I cooked it, he worked super late and wasn't that hungry when he got home.  The weekend sort of got away from us, so I was the one who ate the leftovers for lunch the next couple of work days.  So, sorry I can't give his opinion on it! :(  
My opinion:  I just wanted more pumpkin, and more flavor.  

P.S.   I'm not even sharing the pictures because they looked so....blah.
Pumpkin Tortellini Alfredo
adapted from Handle the Heat
2 9-oz packages cheese tortellini
1 Tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 small onion or small shallot, chopped
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
pinch of nutmeg
1 1/4 cups heavy cream (I used fat free half and half)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded (optional)
black pepper to taste

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add tortellini and cook according to package directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.  Drain pasta.

2.  While pasta is boiling, heat butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add onion and cook until slightly soft, about 2 minutes.  Add pumpkin and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Stir in cream and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in cheese and cook until thick, about 1 minute more.

3.  Add tortellini and chicken to the skillet and stir into the sauce, adding reserved pasta water if necessary.  Serve topped with additional cheese.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I'm Back!

Hi everyone!  I have definitely been MIA for a ridiculous amount of time.  I know, I know.  I guess I can blame that on the fact that I wasn't really cooking or baking enough to blog about, since I was single up until almost 6 months ago.  Combine that singleness with a stupid busy work/school schedule and you get nothing to blog about (food-wise, at least).  But enough excuses, no one cares about all that. 

What matters now is that I'm back.  Baking, cooking and blogging is something I LOVED to do, and I found myself truly missing it.  My life has really changed in the past few months.  I met an absolutely AMAZING guy, Garrett, who treats me like a princess.  I fell in love with said guy, and have since moved in with him.  He loves food just as much as I do (cooking and eating it!) and thankfully he's not a picky eater!  He's an amazing cook and an amazing taste-tester.  It's truly a blast to come home to him everyday.  <3 font="" nbsp="">

Cooking for Garrett is one of my most favorite things to do these days and a few days ago, I found myself making a meal plan for the week.  Yes, a meal plan.  If you're one of those people who wants to barf at the sight of a meal plan on a blog, I feel you.  If you'd have asked me a year ago, I would've been right there barfing with you.  And I'm no Martha Stewart, but even in the past few days, making a meal plan has been such a stress-reliever.  And it's been fun, really!  I love going through the 1600 bunches of recipes I've bookmarked over the past few years and deciding what to eat for the week!  It's actually saved us a lot of time and a lot of money on eating dinner out and buying lunches at work (since we have tons of leftovers).  So I've converted over to the meal-planning camp.  If you hate meal plans, I hope we can still be friends.  Just bear with me, because I'm going to be sharing some amazing recipes.  You don't have to be a meal planner to ogle food.  Am I right?  

So if you're still sticking around, I'm going to share the first amazing recipe I made this week (well, second.  The first was chili, but that involves me opening cans and dumping them in a pot with some ground beef and macaroni and a bunch of spices...maybe I'll share that one later.  Maybe).  

I saw this recipe for Chicken Broccoli Casserole Cobbler on A Cozy Kitchen and it seemed like the perfect comfort food to me.  Yes, it has more than one "cream of" soup in it.  Sorry, not sorry.  I grew up and live in the South.  "Cream of" soups are a staple.  If you don't like them out of a can, you could make your own I suppose, or just skip this recipe.  But you'll be missing out.  Just trust me.  Plus, it's topped with homemade cheddar biscuits, which might just be the best drop biscuits I've ever made.  It's a pretty simple dish to prepare, and it's even better leftover.  I may or may not be eating this out of a Tupperware right now.   Don't read that last sentence.  

Note: I altered a few things, since Garrett is allergic to mushrooms, but you can get the original recipe if you click on the link above.  

P.S.  Would you look at this grated butter?  Ohmahgarsh.

You can't go wrong with chicken, cheese, and broccoli.

Chicken Broccoli Casserole Cobbler
adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
makes 6 servings

1 large can cream of chicken soup (26 oz)
1 small can of cream of broccoli soup
3 Tbsp softened cream cheese
1/2 store-bought rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp black pepper

Cheddar Biscuit Topping:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp buttermilk
1 large egg
black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, combine the cream of chicken and cream of broccoli soups with the softened cream cheese.  Stir in the shredded chicken, broccoli, and cheese until combined.  Pour into a 12-inch cast iron skillet (or large rectangular casserole dish) and set aside.  

3.  To make the biscuits, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Using a cheese grater, grate the stick of butter on top of the dry ingredients.  Place bowl in the freezer for about 5 minutes.  While the butter is chilling, whisk the buttermilk and egg together.  Remove bowl from freezer and gently crumble the butter into the flour with your hands, until you have pieces about the size of small peas.  Then add the 1 cup of cheese and mix until evenly distributed in the flour mixture.  Next, add the buttermilk/egg mixture and knead until the dough comes together.  

4.  Drop mounds of dough around the edge of the chicken and soup mixture, and add cheddar cheese (as much as you want- the more the better!) to the center.  Bake 20-25 minutes until biscuits are light golden brown and cheese is bubbly.  

Enjoy, y'all!  
P.S. Please don't make fun of my food photography skills.  I'm working with the camera on my phone for now.  Maybe someday I'll get a "real" camera.  
P.S.S.  My next recipe will involve pumpkin (are you shocked?).  And it is not a dessert.  I promise I'll hurl pumpkin desserts down your throat soon.  Stay tuned!  :)