Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas

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Hope everyone had a special day yesterday! Have some leftover turkey, mashed potatoes or cranberry sauce? Here are a few ideas on how to use them up!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Recipe Round-Up

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Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow with family and friends! Here are 15 of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Enjoy!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Chocolate Pie

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If you've seen The Help, this pie might sound familiar. I wanted a decadent and super-chocolately pie to bring to my Dad for his birthday, and knew Minnie's cake would be a winner! Pumpkin and Apple Pies are traditional for Thanksgiving, but if you want to switch it up this year Chocolate Pie is the way to go.
Make sure you cover up the crust with aluminum foil halfway through cooking so it doesn't burn. Part of my foil fell off while baking so some of the crust got a little charred, but I just used a knife to scrape off most of those parts. Fail averted! Minnie sure knew what she was doing with this chocolately pie. It's both easy and packed with chocolate. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 packaged pie dough crust, such as Pillsbury
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • Whipped cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Ease the pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate and crimp the edges decoratively. Prick the crust lightly with a fork. Line the crust with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes or until set. Remove the foil and weights and bake for about 5 minutes longer, just until the crust is dry but not browned.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the sugar with the cocoa powder and salt. Add the butter and vanilla. Stir in eggs one at a time until combined. Finally, stir in the evaporated milk and stir until smooth.

Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake for about 45 minutes, until the filling is set around the edges but a little jiggly in the center. Cover the crust with strips of foil halfway through baking. Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool completely before cutting into wedges. Serve with whipped cream.

MAKE AHEAD: The chocolate pie can be refrigerated overnight.

Source: Food and Wine

Friday, November 22, 2013

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies

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These are probably the best cookies I've ever had, holiday-themed or not. The cookie part has a cake-like texture and is extremely soft and moist. The frosting is probably the best frosting I've ever had. Bottom line. The name of these cookies is definitely appropriate because they melt on your tongue with each bite.
The frosting is a rich brown sugar frosting. If you didn't know, brown sugar is the ingredient in chocolate chip cookies that makes them so flavorful. So replacing some of the powdered sugar with brown sugar in this frosting gives them that same flavor profile. I could eat it by the spoonful. Enjoy some this Thanksgiving!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup margarine, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp.  vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • Ground cinnamon (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat butter and margarine 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.

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.

In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup margarine 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.

Source: Adapted from Better Homes and Garden

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Caramelized Onions

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You guys. You need to make this macaroni and cheese. The basic recipe is so simple to make, but by adding two of my favorite things to my already addictive macaroni and cheese makes it out of this world. I also added extra cheese and decided not to bake it to make sure it kept the super creamy texture. It's so decadent and I'm obsessed.
This was a simple idea. I was craving macaroni and cheese and had some leftover bacon on hand, so I decided to toss it in before it went bad. Since I was already changing the flavor profile a little, I figured I should go all out and add my other favorite thing...caramelized onions. I don't think I can ever go back to regular macaroni and cheese again. This was amazing. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe


  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
  • 7 slices bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cups reduced-fat milk
  • 1 cup Mild Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3 cups Mexican blend cheese, shredded

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook pasta for 6-8 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Remove when done and drain on a paper towel-lined dish.

Add onions to the dutch oven with bacon grease. Cook until caramelized, about 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Remove onions when done and set aside in a bowl. Drain remaining bacon grease.

Melt butter in the same dutch oven. Gradually add in flour, whisking constantly. Immediately add salt, ground mustard and black pepper. Stir until well blended, about 1 minute. 

Slowly add milk to butter mixture, stirring constantly. Scrape up brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and let boil for about 2 minutes. Lower heat and continue to cook over medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Slowly add in cheese, stirring to combine along the way. Keep stirring until cheese is completely melted. Once completely melted, add in cooked bacon and onions.

Remove from heat and add cooked macaroni. Stir until combined. 

Add macaroni and cheese to baking dish. Serve immediately.

Source: SK Original

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pumpkin Nutella Swirl Loaf Cake

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This month I was assigned Annie's Noms for the Secret Recipe Club. With Thanksgiving only a week away, I wanted to make a holiday-themed recipe. So when I saw this loaf cake that combined pumpkin AND Nutella, I knew I had found a winner.
Annie has a ton of awesome looking recipes on her blog, and if I wasn't so insistent on picking a Thanksgiving recipe I really would have had a hard time picking one out! I'm glad I landed on this one, though. The Nutella swirl throughout the cake is really impressive looking. The Nutella actually compliments the pumpkin nicely in this moist and flavorful cake. Perfect for a Thanksgiving dessert (or even breakfast!). Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour*
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 2 lb. loaf tin.

Place the butter and sugar into a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes on med-high speed.

Add in the eggs and vanilla extract and mix until well incorporated. Add in the pumpkin purée, flour, baking powder and spices and mix until light and smooth, about 1 minute on med-high speed.

Take 3/4 cup of batter and place into a medium sized bowl. Place 1/2 cup chocolate spread into the medium bowl and mix with a spoon/spatula until well combined.

Spoon 1/3 of the pumpkin batter into the loaf pan and level off. Spoon 1/3 of the chocolate batter on top, then mix slightly with a fork until swirled. Repeat with the pumpkin batter and chocolate batter until the loaf pan is filled.

Place in the oven for 50 minutes or until risen and an inserted skewer into the center comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the pan for at least 1 hour before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, slice and store in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days.

Source: Annie's Noms

Friday, November 15, 2013

Apple Snack Stacks

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My new obsession is making fun new recipes for Bradley to try when he's old enough to eat solid foods. I know I have a while before that happens, but I'm having a great time playing around with some ideas. Whether it's a simple snack like these Apple Snack Stacks, or just recreating a normal recipe into something fun like these Pumpkin Hand Pies, the possibilities are endless! I'm sure I'll have a ton more of these types of recipes coming to you in the future!

Printable Recipe


  • 1 apple
  • 3 tbsp. reduced fat peanut butter
  • 1 graham cracker, crushed
  • Chocolate chips

Remove the core from the apple. Cut the apple into 6 1/4-inch slices.

Spread 1 tbsp. peanut butter on the bottom of three of the apple slices. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over the peanut butter. Top with a sprinkle of chocolate chips. Place another apple slice on top. Enjoy!

Source: SK Original

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

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One of my favorite things is coming home to a delicious smelling house. Slow cooker meals are quickly becoming one of my best kept secrets since they take practically no time and the meal is ready by the time dinner rolls around. Awesome.
I know the name sounds a little skeptical, and believe me, Chris and I were very skeptical ourselves. But you have to believe me when I tell you this dish was delicious. I thought it sounded like an easy recipe that would probably give the chicken a little flavor, but little did I know that it would be as good as it was! Chris thought the flavor kind of resembled chili, which I definitely agree with. The chicken was nice and tender and the sauce had a little kick from the taco seasoning and salsa. We served this over rice, but it would be good over noodles or even shredded in a taco shell. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 4 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup salsa
  • Sour cream, for serving (optional)
  • Rice, for serving (optional)
Place frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker. Sprinkle with taco seasoning.

Combine cream of chicken soup and salsa. Pour over chicken.

Cook for 6-8 hours on Low. Once done, you can either shred the chicken or serve whole.

Serve over rice and top with sour cream.
Source: Adapted from Spark Recipes

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cinnamon Sugar French Toast

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It's no secret that breakfast is my favorite meal. While I was pregnant, I could no longer order my usual breakfast go-to while we were dining out: Eggs Benedict. The runny poached eggs on top and the egg yolks in the Hollandaise sauce were both on my "can't eat" list. So I had to make a little sacrifice. Luckily, French Toast was still available.
The version I make at home uses basic white bread since it's always available in my pantry. I also spruce up the egg mixture with a little cinnamon and sugar to add some sweetness. The egg coating makes a soft yet slightly crispy crust on the outside, so you don't even need to use that thick, fancy bread that they use in restaurants. Enjoy! 

Printable Recipe

  • 5 slices white bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • Butter
  • Syrup, for serving (optional)
  • Powdered sugar, for serving (optional)
In a wide bowl, whisk together the egg, cinnamon and sugar. 

Heat a large pan over medium heat. Melt 1 tbsp. of butter.

Dunk a slice of bread in the egg mixture, flipping to coat both sides and shaking off excess. Place coated bread slices in the hot pan. Repeat with remaining bread slices (you may have to cook in two batches depending on how big your pan is). Cook for 2-3 minutes or until lightly brown. Add another tablespoon of butter to the pan, flip and cook on the other side for an additional 2-3 minutes. Repeat with remaining bread slices, if necessary.

Serve with butter, powdered sugar and syrup.

Source: SK Original

Friday, November 8, 2013

Shrimp Lo Mein

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When I was in college and a year or two after, my friends would usually come back to my house to wind down after being out and about. They all knew I loved to cook and bake, so I typically had some delicious leftovers on hand to snack on. One day when I had nothing readily available, I decided to make Lo Mein using whatever ingredients I had on hand. From that day on, everyone would always ask me to make my Lo Mein when we were at my house.
I typically add broccoli, mushrooms and water chestnuts to the dish. Shrimp is the protein of choice, but chicken is another great option. We liked ours with a little extra heat, so I would always add more red pepper flakes. And always, always more soy sauce. Just adjust the recipe to your preferred taste. Enjoy and have a fabulous weekend!

Printable Recipe


  • 1 lb. spaghetti, thin or regular
  • 1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil, separated
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli florets
  • 1 (8 oz.) can mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 (8 oz.) can water chestnuts, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. peeled fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Combine soy sauce and shrimp in a large zip lock bag. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving soy sauce.

Cook pasta as directed on package. When done, toss with 1 tsp. oil. Reserve.

Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and ginger and cook for one minute. Add frozen broccoli and cook for 2-3 minutes before adding water chestnuts and mushrooms. Cook for an additional minute or until heated through. Remove vegetables from pan and keep warm.

Heat 1 tbsp. oil in the same pan. Add shrimp and cook for one minute. Pour in the reserved soy sauce, broth, red pepper flakes and salt. Bring to a boil. Toss in the reserved vegetables and heat through. Add cooked pasta and combine. Taste and adjust soy sauce and red pepper flakes as desired.

Source: SK Original

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Kitchen Sink Brownies

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Have you heard the expression "Everything but the kitchen sink?" That's what these brownies include. Brownie, chocolate chips, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cups. Well, not everything but the kitchen sink, but it's a lot of extra stuff! Got extra Halloween candy lying around? Just throw it in this mix!
Bradley and I made these for Chris, so I threw in a bunch of extra sweets that he enjoys and would compliment a rich, chocolate brownie. The brownie itself was extremely moist and very chocolatey, so it would easily pass on its own. But who could deny the opportunity to throw in so many other delicious sweets? Modify the extras to meet your liking...nuts, white chocolate chips, coconut. Regardless these will be stinkin' good!

Printable Recipe


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chip cookies, chopped
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter cups, chopped
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Rub a 13x9- inch pan with butter. Set aside.

In small bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. 

In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add eggs, coffee and vanilla; beat just until blended. On low speed, beat in flour mixture until blended. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread batter evenly in pan.

Bake 55 to 58 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from edge of pan comes out almost clean.

Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, at least 2 hours. Cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store in an airtight container.

Source: Adapted from Betty Crocker

Monday, November 4, 2013

How To: Make Freezer Meals

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Before Bradley arrived, I decided to prepare ahead of time for the sleepless nights and the low energy during the day. Since I think it's important to continue to eat home-cooked meals instead of take-out or delivery every night, I made a few of my favorite meals that I could prepare ahead of time and freeze for easy dinners.

I make sure to write the date somewhere on all the items I freeze using a permanent marker. Since everything can only freezer for a certain length of time (which I have noted below) it's important to write the date on there. I also recommend writing the heating instructions directly on the packaging. This saves you some time so you don't have to look up a recipe to figure out how to cook it once thawed!

Soups and Chili: Soups are super easy to prepare ahead of time and freeze. Make the soup as you regularly would and allow to cool. Add it to a gallon-sized plastic resealable bag and remove all the air. Press the soup lightly so that it lays flat in the bag. This allows for easy storage. Place in freezer for up to three months.
Chicken Pot Pie filling works the same way as soups. I used my recipe for Turkey and Pancetta Pot Pie and replaced the turkey with chicken since I knew I would be able to use the leftover chicken in other recipes. I used a rotisserie chicken to save myself some time, and it was easy peasy. I made the filling and poured it into a large ziplock bag to freeze. All I'll have to do is let it thaw in the refrigerator, place it into ramekins and top with pre-made biscuit or pie dough and let it bake.

I also made a big batch of my 30-Minute Stovetop Chili and froze the leftovers in a Tupperware container. Since this was already cooked, all I have to do is thaw it and reheat it on the stove just until it's hot. Same thing with my Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork. Freeze in a Tupperware container, thaw in the refrigerator, and reheat over the stovetop or in the microwave. Then you have a quick sandwich or quesadilla in no time.

Casseroles: Casseroles are probably the easiest things to freeze. Not only are they easy to prepare, but you can make them as you normally would and freeze them right before the baking process. They'll last for about 3 months in the freezer.

Baked Ziti is a great example of this. It took me MAX 15 minutes to put together, then I just covered in aluminum and stuck it in the freezer. When we're ready to eat it, I can thaw it in the refrigerator the night before and cook as directed, or I can even cook it frozen and add on about 30 minutes or so. For easy preparation, use a permanent marker to write the cooking directions right on the foil.

Enchiladas: I love making chicken enchiladas, so this was a no-brainer when preparing freezer meals. I had leftover chicken from the filling I froze for the Chicken Pot Pie, so I used that chicken to stuff my enchiladas. I made them as I normally do, and froze them right before the baking process. I'll just thaw these in the refrigerator the night before we're going to eat them and bake them according to the recipe's directions. Again, use a permanent marker to write the cooking directions right on the foil. These will last for about 3 months in the freezer.

Meats: I had some leftover rotisserie chicken from the Chicken Pot Pie filling and Enchiladas, so I froze it in 1 cup portions. I can pull out one bag at a time to use in things such as quesadillas, wraps or taquitos. Cooked chicken will last for about six months in the freezer.
I also bought ground beef in bulk-size. I used some for the Baked Ziti, and froze the rest in ziplock bags in one-pound portions. Since most recipes call for a pound of ground beef, it will be easy to thaw these in the refrigerator separately instead of thawing a huge chunk and finding a way to use it all (since you can't refreeze meat after it has been thawed). Stuffed Peppers, Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole, Taco Salad, Meatloaf, and Meatballs are easy uses for defrosted ground beef. Uncooked ground beef will typically last about 4 months in the freezer. 

Muffins and Snacks: Since ice-cream sandwiches are loved in my house, I made some of the Snickerdoodle variety to keep in the freezer when we want a homemade treat.
Muffins are also a great snack to keep in the freezer. They thaw at room temperature pretty quickly and are a great alternative to cereal or a pre-made meal in the morning. For a really quick treat, you can even zap them in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. I made some Blueberry Muffins to freeze so Chris can grab one on his way to work while I'm busy with the baby. They'll last for about 3 months in the freezer.

These are just some of my tips and things I find helpful. What freezer meals are some of your favorites??