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Fun Friday: Pumpkin Pie Nutella Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars

24 Oct
Talk about getting a bang for your buck! These treats have it all!

Talk about getting a bang for your buck! These treats have it all!

I’m not sure if I’m an emotional-stress eater or not, but I’m definitely an emotional-stress baker and cooker. I always crave the opportunity to get into the kitchen and cook something or bake something (or in a perfect world, both) to relax after a tough day, week or lately, a tough month. I like cooking and baking for others and trying out new things to get myself to chill out and relax. Oftentimes after my initial piece of whatever I’ve baked, I’m pretty happy and relaxed til the next time. I don’t need to eat the entire thing, just a taste.

Last weekend, after two particularly tough weeks scattered with illness, elementary school death threats, jury duty for my husband and all the usual daily work and school stress, I was in quite a mood, looking to bake SOMETHING good for the family to take the edge off. I went onto Pinterest, a place I hadn’t visited in a while, found their search bar (which seemed slightly different than the last time I’d been on) and I typed in all the things I was currently craving: pumpkin, Nutella, chocolate chips.

All those things had to go together in something, I was sure of it.

I was in luck! Sure enough, Parsley, Sage & Sweet had a recipe for me! I knew someone would. It’d be hot and out of the oven in just an hour or so.

Pumpkin Pie Nutella Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars.

Yes, seriously.

I got to work, feeling better and better by the minute.

I won’t lie, the recipe has some steps to it, but believe me, it was worth it in the end!

Through this baking experience, I also learned a valuable lesson that I’ll pass on to you, just as I shared it on Facebook that same evening:

“If you try to put the plastic jar of Nutella into the microwave to soften it up for baking, all the while thinking just how smart you are thinking of this little shortcut, you must remember that the wrapper over the top was originally metal and that there might be some left on there which will potentially catch fire and giant, bright blue sparks will fly inside the microwave, scaring you and your children half to death while making your husband jump higher and run faster than you’ve seen in a long time when you gasp out loud in the kitchen. You’re welcome.”

That said, this was a delicious treat! Everyone was anxious to try it out so I served it warm, waiting just ten minutes to cut into it, rather than the suggested hour cooling time, and it was a hit. However, I had one more piece a day or so later, after the whole thing had been refrigerated, and YUM!! Even better cold, in my opinion, just like pumpkin pie.

I plan to make them again this weekend for a get together I’ll be attending on Saturday.

Here’s the recipe as it’s seen on the Parsley, Sage and Sweet blog. The only thing I did differently was to use regular sized chips instead of mini. I really don’t “do” mini chocolate chips.

Pumpkin Pie Nutella Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars
Adapted from Megan’s Cooking via Julia, author Of Dozen Flours- with my revisions

Snickerdoodle Layer
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup mini-chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.

Pumpkin Pie – Nutella Layer
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups fresh roasted or canned pumpkin puree
1/2 to 3/4 cup Nutella

Topping
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:
1.  Lightly butter or oil spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan or dish.  If desired, line with parchment paper, two edges hanging over, so you can lift the whole uncut bar out of the pan for easier cutting.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and set aside. In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture into the egg mixture until uniform. Stir in the mini-chocolate chips. Spread the dough as evenly as you can on the bottom of the pan.

3. In a mixer bowl (you can use the same one you used to make the snickerdoodle dough) with a paddle attachment, mix together butter and sugar (You can also use a hand mixer, or a just a spoon) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. This mixture is looser, so pour/scrape over the snickerdoodle layer, smoothing out the top. Preheat oven to 350F.

4.  Drop tablespoons of Nutella over the top of the pumpkin pie mixture.  About 4 rows of three dollops.  Marble gently with a knife or spoon.

5. Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.

6. Bake at 350F for about 35-45 minutes, (depending on your oven..for some, it has taken longer) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bars cool completely (about an hour).
.
7. Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. Place on a cutting board and cut into bars.  Drizzle cut bars with melted chocolate (better to drizzle them when cut so some chocolate drips down every side).

8. Let chocolate set or eat them before the chocolate sets (which we did). Store any remaining bars in a covered container, preferably in the fridge so they last longer.

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken from Six Sisters’ Stuff

22 Oct
Definitely, definitely a keeper! Thanks Six Sisters Stuff!

Definitely, definitely a keeper! Thanks Six Sisters’ Stuff!

We eat a lot of chicken. It’s a meat most of the five of us enjoy, most of the time.

I’m being very diplomatic in that statement, because not everyone likes all of it all the time.

That said, I’m constantly on the lookout for some variety in our chicken recipes. We do breaded chicken, we do chicken with mushrooms, we bake it, we saute it, but I’m just always searching.

Recently I found a great one. It looked delicious and it did not disappoint. Almost all five of us loved it.

Almost.

There’s always one….

This recipe is from the blog Six Sisters’ Stuff, and I’m pretty sure I’ve made some of their other “Stuff” before, and shared it here. When I made this recipe, I knew for sure I had to share it here. It was amazing! The recipe is for baked sweet and sour chicken and in the description they said it was just like Chinese take out.

And it was.

I served it with a side of my Light Vegetable Fried Rice, to which I now always add a dash of sesame oil, and it was a perfect combination.

You’ll definitely want to give this recipe a try, and soon! It’s easy, there’s not a ton of ingredients, and it’s delicious.

Here’s the recipe exactly as it appears on Six Sisters’ Stuff, I did not change a thing, other than using chicken tenderloins instead of breasts.

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff
Ingredients:
Chicken:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup cornstarch
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

Sweet and Sour Sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.  Place cornstarch and beaten eggs in separate bowls.  Dip chicken into cornstarch then coat in egg mixture.  Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken until browned.  Place the chicken in a 9 x 13 greased baking dish.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, ketchup, vinegars, soy sauce and garlic salt.  Pour over chicken and bake for one hour.

Stop by and visit us on….

20 Oct
Stop by either of two websites to see my blog post for Pilgrim Pies featured!

Stop by either of two websites to see my blog post for Pilgrim Pies featured!

Everything is coming up Pumpkin!

Everywhere you go, everything is featured in flavors of fall.

If you go on over to either this website, or this one, you’ll see my blog post from The Whole Bag of Chips “Pumpkin Palooza” series, featuring the recipe for Pilgrim Pies, which is such a seasonal favorite.

It’s the greatest form of flattery when someone wants to feature your work on their site, and it’s even greater when they credit you for your work. Thanks so much to the crew over at cpnewsnet.com for featuring my work and doing such a great job!

Happy Fall, Y’all!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Healthy Shrimp Scampi

15 Oct
This was a great alternative scampi recipe for our family!

This was a great alternative scampi recipe for our family!

I know I say it all the time, but I just love all the recipes that come across my Facebook page every day. I’ve gotten so many great ideas just by my daily scrolling. Today’s recipe is one such recipe.

The only down side is I can’t remember who shared it! I know it was on Facebook though and it says it was from the Prego & Mommy Facebook Page. That’s not a page I follow, so someone definitely shared it and it appeared in my feed.

The thing that appealed to me about this particular recipe for Shrimp Scampi was that it specifically stated that it did not use any butter. We have issues with butter here, and anything too buttery makes some of us sick. I substitute with “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter” pretty often, but when I saw that this recipe had no butter at all, I decided to give it a try.

I’m glad I did! It got thumbs up from all who tried it! I’d definitely make it again. The thing I liked about it too, was that you could make it as lemony as you wanted it to be (or not to be) by adding additional lemon at the end.

I followed the recipe just as it read, other than one change to the type of shrimp I used which is noted below, and I served it with wide egg noodles. Anyone who didn’t want the shrimp could have plain pasta if they so desired. There was just enough left at the end of the night that I could have it for lunch the next day, too! I love it when that happens.

Here’s the recipe just as I copied it:

Easy & Healthy Shrimp….No Butter (uses chicken broth, white wine, lemon juice)
Ingredients
4 tsp olive oil
1 1/4 pounds med raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on)  **I used a bag of frozen shrimp and I removed the tails before cooking.***
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup + 1 T minced parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 lemon wedges
Preparation
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Saute the shrimp until just pink, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon transfer the shrimp to a platter and keep them warm.
In the skillet, combine the broth, wine, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the parsley, the salt and pepper; and bring it to a boil. Boil uncovered, until the sauce is reduced by half.
Spoon the sauce over the shrimp. Serve garnished with the lemon wedges and sprinkled with the remaining tablespoon of parsley. Enjoy!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Smoky BBQ Pork Tenderloin Sliders

8 Oct
This was an excellent Pampered Chef make ahead meal!

This was an excellent Pampered Chef make ahead meal!

You may have read some of my past two- week menu posts, where I mentioned having attended a recent Pampered Chef make ahead freezer meal “party” where we made up four or more meals for our freezer. I chose four meals from a pre-selected menu, but there were others who made ten! Today’s meals is one of the meals from that night. It was very easy to prep ahead, and very easy to cook the day of. It received all thumbs up reviews.

Pampered Chef recipes generally highlight some of their own ingredients, and this recipe is no different. The two needed PC ingredients are their Chef Smoky Barbecue Rub and their Garlic-Infused Canola Oil. When I participated in the freezer meal party, I was given a list of these types of items that would be ordered for me. I paid ahead of time for the items and when I walked in the door that night with the rest of the groceries I needed to prep the meals, I was handed a bag with my needed PC ingredients all ready to go. Any extras were mine to keep at the end.

When we arrived at the party, a station was set up for each of us with the recipes for our freezer meals. We prepped them right in the gallon ziploc bags we brought with us, double bagged them and put them right into our coolers. We came home with four (or ten) bags all labeled and ready to go with a list of cooking instructions, the full recipe and any other important information. It was fantastic.

Here is the recipe for the tenderloin sliders. I will note here that it calls for two pounds of meat but we only ended up needing one pound once it was cooked. We froze the cooked second portion for another night in the future. We’d just need another bag of the Hawaiian sweet rolls, which I found to be a teeny bit addicting! Those weren’t something I normally stock up on, but now I think I want to!

This meal was our dinner, we used it leftover for a few lunches and we froze a whole pound for another night, as I mentioned above. This was definitely a meal I’d prepare and freeze again!

Easy peasy, a meal all set to throw into my crock pot!

Easy peasy, a meal all set to throw into my crock pot!

SMOKY BBQ PORK TENDERLOIN SLIDERS (Pampered Chef, A Taste of Dinners Done freezer meal workshop)

Cook Time: Frozen in the crock pot 4-6 hrs. on low

Thawed in the Deep Covered Baker: Microwave on high 10-15 minutes.

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs. pork tenderloin

4T. Pampered Chef Smoky Barbeque Rub

1/8 cup Pampered Chef Garlic-Infused Canola Oil

1 yellow onion, wedged

Keep separate a 12-pack of Hawaiian Rolls. Freeze and thaw when ready to use.

 

 

 

Fun Friday: S’Mores Mug Cake

3 Oct
Everything tastes better in a mug!

Everything tastes better in a mug!

We have lots of mugs in our kitchen cabinets. Big mugs, little mugs, colored mugs, white mugs, kids’ mugs, teacher mugs, matched mugs, mismatched mugs and every kind of mug you can think of.

I almost never drink my coffee out of a regular coffee mug, ever. I almost always drink it in a re-usable travel mug.

So what to do with all those mugs?

Mug cakes!

I’m sure you all remember the notorious Four Ingredient Nutella Mug Cake recipe that’s my all-time favorite mug cake thus far, but there are plenty of other mug cake recipes out there which deserve equal opportunity to shine. A quick Google search will yield you plenty to try, and recently I even saw a link to breakfast recipes that can be cooked in a mug. I can tell you, that’s in my future for sure.

Last fall, my brother sent me a link which contained multiple mug cake recipes to try, probably 20 or so. I filed it away for future use, and this summer I pulled it back out again. The kids and I were craving something sweet (okay, when are we NOT craving something sweet??) and we couldn’t really agree on what it was that we wanted. I decided to pull up the link to the various mug cakes and let them each choose one to make, and go to town.

I think that for us, half the fun of the mug cakes is baking something so small, so individual rather than a full-sized anything. The other half the fun is eating your creation, sharing a bite with someone else, and taking a taste of theirs. Cooking mug cakes is a fun, easy way to involve kids in the kitchen. In general the recipes are quick and easy, a little less messy (sometimes), and still incorporate important math and science skills, an added bonus to cooking with kids.

On this night, I don’t think anyone even finished their whole mug cake, as they were pretty filling, but everyone definitely enjoyed their chosen creations.

I’ll share both recipes we tried eventually, but today I thought I’d share the 5 Minute Chocolate Fudge S’More Mug Cake recipe from How Sweet Eats because it was the more unique and different recipe we tried. I will say, ours wasn’t exactly like the one over at How Sweet Eats because I didn’t have exactly the same ingredients on hand, but it was pretty close and it still got a thumb’s up at the end of the taste test. I’ll also say, it took us much longer to prepare than five minutes, but I was told that it was worth every minute spent.

Here is their recipe, just as it appears on their site, and my photo of our finished version is here at the top of my post. I’ve tried to add in any notes where I made some changes, using an *.

5 Minute Chocolate Fudge S’More Mug Cake

from How Sweet Eats

INGREDIENTS

2-3 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs

3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted  *We used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour  *She said we could use all-purpose flour, so that’s what we did.

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (mine was dark cocoa, hence the dark color)

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1 1/2 ounces milk chocolate (chopped or morsels)  *We used chocolate chips, semi-sweet.

marshmallow fluff, cream or actual marshmallows  *We had giant-sized marshmallows designed for campfire S’Mores. We used one big one, right on top.

DIRECTIONS

Combine 3 tablespoons butter and 1 ounce of chocolate in a small bowl, then melt in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Set aside. In another bowl, combine remaining melted butter with 2-3 tablespoons of graham cracker crumbs and stir until moistened. Press graham crumbs into the bottom of your mug.

In a bowl. whisk egg, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add in flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa, stir until a thick batter forms. Stream in melted butter and chocolate, mixing to combine. Fold in remaining chocolate chips. Add half of the mixture on top of the graham crust, then throw on a scoop of marshmallow fluff/cream or a few marshmallows. Add remaining batter on top, then pop in the microwave for 1 minute and 20 seconds to almost 2 minutes. Remove and top with additional marshmallow if desired. You can pop it back in the microwave for 5-10 seconds to make them melty, or pop them directly under the broiler for about 10 seconds to toast if desired. You can also use a kitchen torch if you have one. Sprinkle with graham crumbs!

Notes: If you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour, you can use all-purpose. I would not recommend using regular whole wheat. Additionally, I have made this by substituting coconut butter for the full amount of butter. It was just as delicious, albeit slightly drier. You cannot taste coconut at all. Finally, take into account the power of your microwave. Mine has a mind of it’s own and is insanely powerful, so I cooked this on 80% power. Judge accordingly and add/subtract a few minutes of cooking if you know yours is wonky too. Unfortunately it may take 1-2 trial runs to get the right consistency because all microwaves are different, but I promise it’s worth it!

 

 

Get your pumpkin on and Go Orange for No Kid Hungry!

1 Oct
Thanks to Paula over at My Soup For You for teaming up with me today to bring you some great pumpkin recipes, and for bringing even more awareness to No Kid Hungry!

Thanks to Paula over at My Soup For You for teaming up with me today to bring you some great pumpkin recipes, and for bringing even more awareness to No Kid Hungry!

It’s October! It’s fall. It’s the season of beautiful leaves, fun autumn events like apple picking, hay rides and pumpkin carving.

Pumpkin….mmmmm…..does it make you think of pumpkin spiced coffee, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pie?!

Me too!!

We’re a lucky bunch, most of us. We can run through the drive through at the local donut shop and get this month’s pumpkin flavored muffin or drink, without too much of a struggle. We can pop a recipe for my good friend Paula’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread or her Pumpkin Soup right into the oven and enjoy it without too much trouble. All those warm, orange flavors warm our bellies and our thoughts all throughout the fall.

We’re very lucky.

Not everyone is so lucky, however. According to the No Kid Hungry statistics for our local area, as of June 2013 (more than a year ago), 22% of kids in our little state were struggling with hunger. Fifty-five percent of them were eligible for free or reduced lunch at school, and only 51% of those students were eating school breakfast.

At a recent school event I covered for the newspaper earlier this month, when a room full of young students were asked what the most important thing was that they’d miss if they were late to school, their answer wasn’t attendance, or morning math, or reading, it was breakfast. Every student who raised their hand was worried that if they were late to school in the morning, they’d go hungry until lunchtime.

Childhood hunger across our nation is a growing problem, but we can do something to help.

Last year, you may remember that our own family started a local Go Orange Day for No Kid Hungry after seeing a television commercial about the nationwide effort to help end childhood hunger. Nationally, the official Go Orange Day for No Kid Hungry is at the end of September, but we opted to do ours just a little bit later at the start of October. It was a big success. We rallied our large school district, the superintendent’s offices and City Hall all to Go Orange for No Kid Hungry, and raised over $1000 in monetary donations as well as bringing in hundreds of pounds of non-perishable food items for our local food pantry. We were helping to put food on the tables of families all around us, and it was a great feeling.  All around us, local restaurants and other establishments went Orange as well, donating portions of their proceeds to the No Kid Hungry effort, and wearing orange to show their spirit.

This year, we’re doing it again. We’ve pushed our date out slightly further, and this year on Friday, October 31, Halloween Day we’ll be getting our pumpkin on, going Orange for No Kid Hungry again. We’ve rallied our school district, our superintendent’s office, City Hall, and even our church to help us put an end to childhood hunger again this year. So far we’ve had TEN local responses for going Orange on Halloween Day. Even more exciting, we’ve had some inquiries from local folks wanting to spread this year’s local Go Orange day to their communities and schools within our state and neighboring areas. All around our city, people will be showing their Halloween spirit, dressing in orange, donating money and/or non-perishable food items on Halloween Day and helping out their neighbors all in a day’s work.

We are thrilled. Wouldn’t it be great if we could really make a difference EVERY YEAR?

Wouldn’t it be great if just by spreading awareness and spreading the word, we could help feed other families?

We are foodies, we are blessed, we are thankful to be able to cook and bake and eat our fun pumpkin flavors in the spirit of the season, all month long.

So I ask you: will you get your pumpkin on this Halloween Day too? Will you spread the awareness of childhood hunger in your area and continue the good work of No Kid Hungry and their Go Orange efforts in your city or town, at your school or church or temple? Will you help?

Get your pumpkin on. Visit Paula’s blog over at My Soup for You and help her spread the word too. Make some Pumpkin Soup. Grab some Pilgrim Pies, eat some pumpkin spiced Chex snack mix, and be thoughtful, be thankful that you can help another family in such a simple way.

 

 

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