Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkin Hand Pies

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The dessert portion of holiday dinners is something I always look forward to. There is always a vast assortment on hand and I love trying new things. Mini or personalized desserts are always my favorite, so I decided to try out a smaller version of one of my fall favorites: Pumpkin Pie. These would be a perfect addition for both Halloween and Thanksgiving!
Mini hand pies are individualized versions of the larger pie. The taste stays the same, but everyone feels a little more special from having their own personal dessert. I even chose to cut jack-o-lantern faces into half of the hand pies I made for a more festive feel. The traditional version is great for adults, but I know kids would get a kick out of a more playful display. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 2 refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. 

Roll out one of the pie crusts using a rolling pin. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter, cut out circles. Take the leftover dough and roll into a ball. Use rolling pin to roll out the leftover dough. Cut out as many additional circles as you can. Repeat with other pie crust.

Place half of the circles on the baking sheets. Scoop a heaping teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture into the center of those circles. Place the remaining circles on top of the circles with the filling. Press down edges and seal by pressing the prongs of a fork around the edges. Pierce four slits on the top of each pie to allow steam to escape. (You can also cut a jack-o-lantern shape into the top circles prior to placing them on top--perfect for Halloween!)

Whisk egg. Brush tops of each pie with egg. Sprinkle a small amount of both cinnamon and sugar over the top.

Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to come to room temperature and store in an air-tight container.

Source: SK Original

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Guess What We Cooked Up??

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Bradley Christopher Clarke
September 19, 2013
2:16 am
6 lbs. 11 oz.
21 inches

Chris and I are so in love with this little guy and could not be happier :) He is easily the best thing I've ever cooked up.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Skinny Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

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With a newborn at home, it's not always easy to run to Starbucks to grab myself some of my favorite coffee. Pumpkin Spice Lattes are only offered once per year, and since I can't run out and get my usual fill as often as I'd like, I decided to make my own version at home. This tastes incredibly similar and I'm able to save myself five bucks and a trip out of the house. From now on, this will be my go-to recipe and now I can enjoy it year-round. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup reduced-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 packets Splenda
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Coffee
Combine milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and Splenda in a medium saucepan. Stir over low heat just until warm.

Fill a coffee cup half way with coffee. Fill the rest of the way with the milk mixture. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Source: SK Original

Friday, October 25, 2013

How To: Make a Sprinkles Number Cake

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For the 30th anniversary cake I made my parents, I wanted to do something special on the outside to make up for not making the cake from scratch. I wanted to make a cool "30" design on the top, so with the help of a printout, parchment paper and some sprinkles, I was able to achieve the design I wanted. Below are directions on how to decorate a pretty sprinkles number cake on your own!

What you'll need:
  • 1 iced cake
  • 1 printed sheet with desired number on it
  • Parchment Paper
  • Scissors
  • Sprinkles
Step 1: Print out the number you want so that it is large enough to cover most of the cake. Place a piece of parchment paper over top of the number and trace. Cut out the numbers.
Step 2: Place the parchment paper numbers on top of the iced cake. Make sure you press the numbers down so no sprinkles can sneak underneath.
Step 3. Cover the entire top of the cake with sprinkles. Lightly press them down so they stick.
Step 4: Carefully remove the parchment paper numbers from the top of the cake. And you're left with an awesome number design. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How To: Make a Checkered Layer Cake

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I was 9.5 months pregnant when my family and I threw my parents a surprise 30th anniversary party. I had offered to make the cake, but at two weeks away from my due date I wasn't exactly motivated to spend hours in the kitchen putting together the perfect cake. Therefore, I decided to use store-bought cake mix, but make an eye-catching design inside and outside to grab their attention. I also made homemade frosting, so that helped a little. I made a checkered pattern in the cake, which was easy to do and looked really cool! Below are the instructions.

P.S. Sorry the picture quality isn't the best, but you get the idea!

Step 1: Bake two 9-inch cakes of  two different flavors/colors (you will have 4 9-inch cakes total).
Step 2: Cut a 7-inch circle out of a piece of parchment paper. Also cut a 5-inch circle out of parchment paper.
Step 3: Place the larger circle on each cake and cut around with a knife. Place the smaller circle inside the smaller cake cut-out and cut around with a knife. Separate each piece.
Step 4: Put each cake round so they are alternating colors (in this case, two of the cakes were vanilla, chocolate, vanilla and the other two were chocolate, vanilla, chocolate).
Step 5: Stack the cakes so the outer layer alternates in color/flavor (chocolate, vanilla, chocolate, vanilla). Make sure to spread some icing in between each layer!
Please note I only used three out of the four layers since my travel container wouldn't hold all four layers).
Step 6: Cut and enjoy! This obviously isn't the best picture, but you get the idea! Everyone (especially the kids) thought it was really cool!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Quick Chocolate Frosting

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Here's a super quick and easy Chocolate Frosting recipe for your recipe collection. My usual go-to recipe is Quick Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, and this is basically the same concept. I didn't have any chocolate on hand, so I decided to use cocoa powder instead and it turned out just as delicious. Depending on how you like you frosting, you can add more milk to make the consistency thicker or thinner. This is a great option if you don't have time to run to the store and grab a jar of the pre-made stuff. Enjoy! 

Printable Recipe

  • 2 sticks (16 tbsp.) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt
  • 4 tbsp. reduced-fat milk, plus more if desired
In a large bowl, mix butter and cocoa powder with a hand mixer over medium speed. The mixture will be chunky, but will eventually get smooth after a minute or two.

Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and a dash of salt. Beat with hand mixer until combined. Slowly pour in milk while mixing. If you want a thinner consistency, continue to add milk until it reaches the texture you want.

Source: SK Original

Friday, October 18, 2013

Baked Ziti

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There's really no rhyme or reason to the perfect Baked Ziti dish. There's pasta, there's sauce, and there's cheese. The amounts and proportions are really up to your discretion, so I suggest figuring out what you like (a cheesier ziti, a meatier ziti, a saucier ziti) and amping up that portion of the dish.
I'm in love with my lasagna recipe, so I used that as a guideline to this recipe. I love meaty and cheesy pasta dishes and that's exactly what this is. There is a good amount of sauce, so it doesn't dry out like some Baked Ziti dishes tend to do. It also gets creamy from the Ricotta and hefty amounts of Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. I decided to freeze this batch so we could eat it at a later time (which is why the pictures are pre-baked). All I'll need to do is let it thaw and then bake it for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. Italian flavored pork (or you can use more beef instead)
  • 2 tsp. garlic
  • 4 cups store-bought or homemade marinara sauce
  • 15 oz. Ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 4 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, divided
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, add the ground beef and pork. Cook until brown, adding garlic halfway through. Drain off fat and add back to the skillet. Add sauce and cook until heated through. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, mix together the Ricotta, egg, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, 2 cups Mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine.

Spread two spoonfuls of the sauce mixture onto the bottom of a 9x13” pan to prevent sticking.

Add the pasta to the Ricotta mixture and mix well. Reserve a cup of meat sauce. Pour the remaining meat sauce into the Ricotta and pasta mixture and stir to combine. Pour mixture into the pan.

Spread the reserved cup of meat sauce over top of the pasta. Sprinkle the rest of the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over top.

If freezing, cover tightly with aluminum foil. Thaw in the refrigerator before cooking.

If cooking immediately, cover with aluminum foil and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to cook for 10 minutes or until bubbly.

Source: SK Original

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Easy Supreme Stromboli

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Stromboli is basically a pizza wrap. All the gooey deliciousness of a pizza is wrapped in crust for a portable snack. It's perfect for a game-time treat or to incorporate pizza into something classier for a get-together. This particular one is jam-packed with flavor. I added some chopped meat to the pizza sauce, then topped that with pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers and olives. Oh, and cheese. Lots and lots of ooey gooey cheese. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 (13.8 oz.) can refrigerated pizza dough
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • 3 oz. pepperoni
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 (2.25 oz.) can black olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

Brown beef in skillet. Once done, drain and return back to skillet. Add pizza sauce to the pan. Cook until heated through.

Unroll dough on baking sheet.  Spread meat mixture on dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the sides. Top the meat mixture with pepperoni, bell pepper, mushrooms, olives, cheeses and Italian seasoning.  Roll up dough lengthwise and seal around edges. Cut slits across top to allow steam to escape.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Source: SK Original

Monday, October 14, 2013

Savory Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Pastry

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While cleaning out our freezer, I came across some puff pastry that I either needed to use or toss. Since I hate letting things go to waste, I decided to incorporate it into our typical eggs and bacon Saturday breakfast. The end result was an adorable personalized savory puff pastry that would be suitable for both a casual breakfast at home or a fancy brunch celebration.
Puff pastry is extremely light and flaky, so I wasn't afraid to stack on the toppings. I opted for eggs, bacon, tomatoes and cheese, but all ingredients are pretty much interchangeable. If making these for brunch, it's a great substitute for setting out plain scrambled eggs and bacon. Guests will love having their own personalized savory breakfast tart. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 5 eggs, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup Monterey cheese, shredded
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
  • Italian seasoning
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Spray a small pan with cooking spray. Whisk together 4 of the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Add to the pan over medium heat. Continue to move the eggs around with a spatula until cooked through. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, roll out puff pastry. Cut in half and then in half again to make four rectangles. Roll up the sides of each rectangle to create a basket.

To the bottom of each puff pastry bundle, add 1/4 of the eggs. Top with 1/4 of the cheese, bacon crumbles and chopped tomato. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

Whisk remaining egg and brush over edges of each puff pastry.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

Source: SK Original

Friday, October 11, 2013

Slow Cooker Cuban Pork

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Slow cooker recipes should be mandatory when it starts getting cooler out. Not only do the meals leave the house smelling scrumptious, but it's hard to get motivated to cook when it starts getting dark by the time you get home from work. Set this on low before you leave the house in the morning, and it will make your life much easier.
I combined a simple Cuban-themed marinade consisting of orange juice, lime juice, cumin, cilantro and garlic to toss over the pork. My husband is half Cuban, so I knew his reaction would be a testament to if the pork was good or not. And he proclaimed it "amazing" multiple times, so I guess it passed the test. We had these on a tortilla with romaine, black beans, sour cream and cheese. The pork was also great on a sandwich bun the next day. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 (3-4 lb.) pork shoulder or butt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried cilantro
  • 3 tsp. garlic, minced
  • Tortillas, for serving
  • Rice, for serving (optional)
  • Black beans, for serving (optional)
  • Shredded romaine, for serving (optional)
  • Pico de gallo or salsa, for serving (optional)
  • Light sour cream, for serving (optional)
  • Shredded cheese, for serving (optional)
Place the onions on the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with the pork, fat side up. Season with salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, mix the orange juice, lime juice, cumin, cilantro and garlic. Pour over the top of the pork.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Remove from slow cooker and shred using two forks. Discard all fat. Return to slow cooker with one cup of the remaining liquid. Cook for an additional 30 minutes. Serve on tortillas or over rice with black beans, romaine, light sour cream, cheese and pico de gallo.

Source: SK Original

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Chicken Teriyaki Stir-Fry

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Towards the end of my pregnancy, I wasn't in the mood to eat too often. Not because I was having food aversions, but because I felt like there was NO. MORE. ROOM. in my stomach. Every inch of space felt like it was taken, and food was the last thing I wanted to add to the equation.
Since I still needed to feed my growing baby (and my husband), I preferred lighter meals when I had the energy to cook. I made this Chicken Teriyaki Stir-Fry, which was packed with vegetables and had amazing flavor. It was light enough for me, but when paired with some rice made a full meal. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 12 oz. fresh broccoli florets
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 3/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • Sesame seeds, for serving
  • Rice, for serving
Mix soy sauce, brown sugar, agave nectar, vinegar, garlic and ginger in a small bowl. Mix water and cornstarch until cornstarch is dissolved and add to soy sauce mixture. Set aside.

Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water. Heat water to boiling. Add broccoli and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat 1 tsp. oil in a large skillet. Add chicken and cook until done, about 7 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.

Add remaining 1 tsp. oil to skillet. Add carrots, red peppers, mushrooms, and onions. Cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. 

Add broccoli and chicken to skillet with other vegetables. Add soy sauce mixture and cook until well-coated, about 3 minutes. Serve over rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Source: SK Original

Monday, October 7, 2013

Loaded Chili Baked Potato

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I still had some leftover potatoes from when we went to the orchard the other weekend, and I was looking for quick and easy weeknight meals to make with them. I know it's going to be hard to cook dinner as often the first few weeks with the new baby, so I'm enjoying experimenting with dinners that can be done in 15 minutes or less. And this is one of them!
I made some quick 30-Minute Stovetop Chili the other night, and decided to use the leftovers for this. You can easily substitute canned chili if you don't have any homemade on hand, but my recipe is really easy to throw together. I love classic loaded baked potatoes with sour cream and cheese, so adding chili to the mix makes the potatoes even better. And you can just add a simple salad on the side to make it a full meal. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 2 large Russet potatoes
  • 1 cup chili, homemade (slow cooker or 30-minute) or store-bought
  • 2 tbsp. light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbsp. scallions, chopped
Puncture potatoes all over with a fork. Cover each potato with a damp paper towel. Place on a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 10 minutes. Check potatoes by piercing the center with a fork. It should enter easily. If potato is still firm, continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes at a time until fork enters easily. Remove from microwave and allow to cool slightly.

Cut potatoes in half and lightly fluff insides. Top with half of the chili, sour cream, cheese and scallions. Serve immediately.
Source: SK Original

Friday, October 4, 2013

30-Minute Stovetop Chili (Gluten-Free)

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I love making my homemade slow-cooker chili, but sometimes I don't always plan ahead to make it when I want it. I usually only make it during football season when it has the whole day to sit in the slow-cooker. Or maybe on a select winter night when I go to bed early and don't mind waking up early to get it started. But when it's a Wednesday and I'm in the mood for some chili at 6pm, I need a quick alternative.
That's when I made this chili. It doesn't sit all day so it doesn't get as thick as it normally would, but my goodness, this is a great alternative. I used most of the same basic ingredients that are in my slow-cooker recipe, so the flavors are still there, but it only takes a half hour to prepare (a little longer if you have time to spare). It's packed with ground beef and beans, plus there's a little heat from the green chiles. Try this one out next time you're in a time crunch. Enjoy!
Printable Recipe

  • 1.5 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • Dash of salt
In a Dutch oven or large skillet, cook meat and chopped onions. Cook until meat is brown. Drain and add back to Dutch oven.

Add kidney beans, tomatoes with green chiles, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, sugar and salt. Stir well.

Cover and allow to simmer over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes (the longer you can let it sit the better, but it will still taste great if you're in a rush). Enjoy!

Source: SK Original

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Crispy Seasoned Hash Browns

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Good thing potatoes stay good for a while, because I found myself with a whole bag-load of them after we went to the farm and absolutely no inspiration for what to do with them. Until Saturday came. And it was breakfast time.
I used my food processor to shred the potatoes and added an onion while I was at it. The flavor of the onion in the finished batch was delicious. Plus I spruced up the mix by adding some seasoned salt and pepper, and that little bit of kick went a long way. The potatoes got nice and crispy, but you have to make sure to drain them well after shredding to remove all the moisture. Otherwise this process will be somewhat difficult. But once you get that done, your result will be an amazing breakfast. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 3 large Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
Shred potatoes and onion using a food processor.

In small batches, squeeze out as much moisture as you can  from potato mixture using paper towels. Set aside in a large bowl and season with seasoned salt and pepper.

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add potato mixture in an even layer, and allow to cook for 7-10 minutes or until bottom is crispy. Use a spatula to flip the hash browns, and continue to cook on the other side for an additional 7-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy!

Source: SK Original