November 15, 2013

Pumpkin Spiced Coffee Cake

I know, I know….I said 30 days of eating as healthy as I can but I just couldn't resist baking this scrumptious pumpkin coffee cake!!! If you take a close look to the ingredients I used the recipe really isn't that bad for you AND besides it's not like you are going to eat the whole coffee cake yourself in one sitting…..even if you did who am I to judge!

I did not have time to roast my own pumpkin to make homemade pumpkin puree (which I do recommend you trying….the difference in taste & color is amazing) thankfully I do know some one who had the time to prepare homemade pumpkin puree and shared it with the blogging world. If you haven't tried it homemade but would like to here is a recipe that was meant for you. Don't forget to look at all the other GREAT ideas/recipes you could use store bought or homemade pumpkin puree.

Courtney, the author of  Fitcakery is a fellow Culinary friend of mine who has also found their passion for cooking, baking and finding healthy alternatives in life without having to sacrifice flavor, quality or your budget! 

I have been eyeballing the pumpkin cookies since Courtney blogged about them a few days ago.

Pumpkin Spiced Coffee Cake

For the topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 TBS cold butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the cake:

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 can (15oz.) Pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix) 
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice


Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease and flour dust a 13x9 baking pan; set aside.

In a small bowl combine the topping ingredients and cut butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until creamy and smooth. Add one egg at a time make sure to beat well after each egg is added. Add the pumpkin and vanilla extract; mix well. 

In another bowl combine your dry ingredients and lightly whisk before slowly adding them to the pumpkin mixture. Beat on low just until blended. Spread into the prepped baking pan and sprinkle with the topping mixture.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean. Let cool 10-15 minutes before serving. 

October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Spiced Doughnuts

Last week in my baking class I decided to make my scrumptious Pumpkin Spiced Doughnuts for my classmates.....needless to say they were a HUGE success and I actually had to hide doughnuts to bring home for my family. SO with that being said I figured I HAD to share my recipe with you again. It's a KEEPER for sure and WILL have your friends and family asking for the recipe or for more!!

Previously shared September 19, 2012
*****This past Sunday my husband woke up and asked if we should go out for breakfast, which I had to turn down since we had been gone all day Saturday and we were going over to friends for a BBQ & Football. I asked him why he wanted to go out for breakfast and he replied with: "I am hungry for something Pumpkin Doughnuts". I jumped out of bed and said:"I have a recipe I have been wanting to try out for Homemade Pumpkin Doughnuts and I even have pumpkin in the pantry".

 So off to the kitchen I went!
Since I have never even tried making doughnuts EVER before I was not convinced this recipe would work or taste good. The original recipe called for buttermilk, which we never have in the house so instead I use Greek yogurt (this we always have). The dough was super easy to make and it was also really sticky, another reason I didn't think it was going to work BUT you do have to put the batter in the freezer for 15 minutes before you press it out to cut into shape.

**A little tip: cut all your doughnuts out before heating the oil to fry it in, otherwise you might have a flour mess like I did because I didn't think the doughnuts were going to cook as fast as they did**

Pumpkin-Spice Doughnuts

1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk <<<<greek yogurt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 TBS butter, melted
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp pumpkin spice
1 TBS salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 cups flour, plus extra for patting out


In a large bowl whisk together both the whole egg and the egg yolk until frothy. Add pumpkin, sugar, buttermilk (yogurt), brown sugar and butter; whisk until combined. Stir in baking powder, pumpkin spice, salt and baking soda.
Gradually fold in flour until a sticky dough forms; cover and put in freezer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile get your pan ready for frying. You will need at least 2" of oil.....don't heat until after you have cut your doughnuts.
Take dough out of freezer and pat out on a well floured surface to 1/2" thick and then cut using either a doughnut cutter or 2 biscuit cutters. Transfer these to a floured baking sheet.
Now heat your oil to at least 370F before you start frying your doughnuts. Fry doughnuts and doughnut holes until browned, about 3 minutes turning once halfway through. Keep an eye on these so they don't burn! Place the finished doughnuts on a baking sheet lined with paper towel. When they have cooled enough to touch finish them by dipping them in a cinnamon and sugar mixture. ( 1 cup + 1 tsp cinnamon).

Don't mind the jug of baby water in the background my husband pulled the camera out and I was so impressed with the way the doughnuts were turning out and slightly freaked out about all the flour I had tossed all over the kitchen that I didn't even notice the water jug in the background until I went to edit my pictures.

I don't think I will ever buy store bought pumpkin doughnuts again after making these!!! These doughnuts hit the spot on taste, texture and freshness. 

July 29, 2013

Chocolate Lave Cake **my guest post**

I have been a bit of a break from cooking, baking and's not that I have lost my drive but between summer vacation starting & ending, my college classes during their summer break, exams and lets not forgot our CRAZY hot temps AND flooding we had on our street/neighborhood!!

Before things got too off schedule and crazy for me I did share a recipe with Jutta over at Hungry Little Girl......she did it the right way, she sent all her blogger friends an email asking for us to fill her calendar with guest postings....GREAT idea ;-) NOTE TO this during the next school break!!!

Today it was shared on her blog so jump on over to Hungry Little Girl and check it out.
This is a recipe I got many many months ago when I was still a Pampered Chef consultant.

1 box Chocolate Cake mix (including the ingredients needed to prepare the cake as directed on the box)
1 tub chocolate frosting

In a glass or stone baking dish combine the cake mix and the ingredients listed on the box. Stir until smooth.
Now drop 1 TBS size dollops of the frosting on top of the cake mixture.
Microwave, UNCOVERED for 10 minutes! FINISHED!!

Be careful removing the cake it will be hot. 

The lava sauce will be at the bottom of the cake so when you serve it you have to scoop it out and then flip the cake upside down to plate....if you want to. Try it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream...yum!

June 20, 2013

Mexican Style Baked Potatoes ***Surprise Recipe Swap***

I love being part of the monthly Surprise Recipe Swap hosted by Jutta at HungryLittleGirl because it gives me the excuse to "have" to spend time browsing another fellow bloggers website for new recipes and then share them with you BUT another reason I enjoy being part of the monthly recipe swap is because it gives me a break from all my school work I am doing and am usually spending most of my computer time on right now.

This month I had the pleasure to browse Cindy's blog Hun...What's for Dinner? Cindy lives in Canada and is a complete foodie.....well at least in my opinion she is. She not only keeps sharing great recipes on her blog, she does cookbook reviews, has a job working for a General Mills company called Life Made Delicious (which is a website chuck full of recipes, coupons and other food related topics) AND she also is a Pampered Chef consultant. Oh and did I mention she has had recipes published in a cookbooks and has won a few recipe contests as well!? Yep the life of a Foodie.....this is how I picture it at least ;-) I am glad we get a whole month to browse for recipes because Cindy had so many to choose from! While browsing her recipes I kept coming back to a picture and recipe that seemed to be calling my name  Mexican Style Baked Potatoes. THESE are amazing and I can't believe I haven't eaten or seen baked potatoes made this way before.......where have I been living?

Now I know I just posted about my addiction of only stumbling upon "baked" dinners lately and how I try to not heat my house up so much BUT this recipe had to be recreated.....SOOOO I pulled out my toaster oven! I baked them for an hour in my toaster oven and then finished them off in the microwave so my A/C wasn't working overtime to for fill my craving for these yummy potatoes!

Mexican Style Baked Potatoes

4 russet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
3/4 cup refried beans
2 green onions, chopped (whites and greens)
1 TBS taco seasoning ( I used my homemade mix)
salt & pepper, to taste
3/4 cup salsa ( I used my homemade salsa)
1 cup shredded cheddar
sour cream or guacamole (optional toppings)

Preheat oven to 450F. Prick the potatoes with a fork, place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour or until tender. (I baked mine for 1 hour at 400F in my toaster oven and then finished them in the microwave. Baking them in the toaster oven before cooking them in the microwave helps keep the skin from getting chewy.)
After taking the potatoes out of the oven, reduce the heat to 375F while letting the potatoes cool for about 15 minutes or until able to handle them. When they are cool enough to handle cut them in half lengthwise and carefully scrape the pulp out (keep the skins).

In a bowl combine the potato pulp, refried beans, green onions, taco seasonings and your salt & pepper. Stir and mash together until well combined. Scoop the filling back into the potatoes skins and spoon 1 1/2 TBS salsa on top of the filling before returning them to the oven.
***I veered from the original just a bit.....I put 2 TBS salsa into the bottom of my potato skins before scooping the filling back into them***

Bake them for another 15 minutes, remove them and top them with 2 TBS cheese. Return them back the oven until the cheese is melted.

Serve with sour cream, guacamole and some extra salsa is desired. I opted for the guacamole and salsa....DELISH!!! I am glad I had extra to eat for lunch the next day too.

You can make these a day ahead too, just cover them in plastic after scooping the filling back into the skins and before reheating them the second time. They may need a few extra minutes to reheat but turn out great too. I unwrapped mine and microwaved them for a few minutes.

These would also be a great recipe to use if you make too many baked potatoes for dinner one night and have leftover potatoes that weren't eaten....I am pretty sure they WILL be eaten if you make these for dinner the next night.


June 17, 2013

Mexican Cornbread Salad

I know I have complained about this before and I will probably complain about it again....well at least while our temps outside are going above 100F daily right now. Something that I really have a hard time with is turning on my oven to bake when it is so hot outside and of course I am craving everything needing to be baked.

I keep finding new recipes for baked dinners and snacks....go figure! I know that not everyone lives in the same climate as I do but come on why do all these oven baked recipes look so yummy??
SO I try to narrow my choices down to recipes that only require to be baked under 30 minutes and try to keep the oven temp under's not that easy though.

Cornbread is a recipe that fits my criteria so that means this Cornbread Salad is a go! This salad is perfect as a side dish for a picnic, party or as a light dinner dish on it's own too. The dressing is very refreshing and goes great with the sweetness of the cornbread.

Mexican Cornbread Salad

1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix (with ingredients needed on the box)
1 lb ground turkey or beef
1 package taco seasoning (I used my homemade taco seasoning)
4 roma tomatoes, gutted and chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup sour cream (I used greek yogurt)
1/4 cup mayonnaise (optional....I did not use any)
2-3 green onions, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
2 cups crumbled cornbread
2 cans kidney beans or black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained and rinsed
1 cup shredded cheddar


Bake the cornbread muffins according to directions on the box. Cool completely before continuing with assembling the salad.......Do this either the day before or the morning you plan on putting together your salad.

Cook your turkey or beef until no longer pink. Add your taco seasoning. Set aside and let cool until ready to use. If you are prepping the day before store your cooked meat in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Whip together the sour cream, green onions, lime juice, chili powder and cumin.
Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to assemble. You can do this the day before as well, just give it a quick stir before using.

When you have your muffins cooled and dressing done you are ready to assemble your salad:
First layer: 1 cup crumbled cornbread
Second layer: half of prepared meat
Third layer: green peppers
Fourth layer: corn
Fifth layer: beans
Sixth layer: 1/2 cup shredded cheese
REPEAT ending with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, then top with the chopped the tomatoes and then cover with your prepared dressing.

Cover and chill at least 2 hours or overnight before serving.

**Don't hesitate to add more toppings like chopped onions, black olives or use red bell peppers instead of green peppers**

May 29, 2013

Culinary School Pictures

I was going through some of my 1000+ pictures on my computer that I have forgotten about and came across these and thought I would share them with you. Going to Culinary School was on my list of things to do and when I actually had the chance to go I was so excited. I couldn't wait to get my hands on new ideas, new tools, new recipes and techniques. The experience and knowledge is something I will never forget. Maybe some day I will go back to take a few more classes, just for pure pleasure!


Here you see a smoked pork leg and a whole smoked salmon. I personally liked the smoked salmon better.

Not very pretty but oh so yummy. This was the salmon before covering it with a glaze and edible decor.

The salmon is covered with a glaze that was used to preserve the fish. The white coating is referred to as a Chaud Froid, which is a type of aspic used to preserve meats such as fish or poultry. This was such an interesting thing to see and do.
Me covering the smoked pork with the same glaze we used on the salmon.

All of the students made their own appetizers for the last day of our Garde Manger class. See the plate to the left of the deviled eggs? That's my plate....Roasted Butternut Squash Bruschetta with sage pesto topped with a little goat cheese. Below is a dish with chicken breast stuffed with a ratatouille over a veggie pilaf.


This box was made completely out of chocolate. Our culinary teacher for this baking class did the decorative swirl on the top. Inside of the box are an assortment of chocolate truffles....yummm

This was one of my favorite desserts we made! The dessert is called Frangipani. It had almond paste in the batter and it was a mixture between a cookie and a cake. Moist but sturdy enough to cut into bars. The design on top of the Frangipani was made out of chocolate.

Frangipani presented in an elegant way that you might see in a restaurant.

This was done in a tropical fruit sauce and a raspberry sauce. On the left below is a Chocolate Molten Lava Cake and to the right more Frangipani.

The bowl is made out of caramel and is filled with an Apple Compote and vanilla ice cream. We had a few of the sugar bowls burn during the process of making them.....didn't smell to good. But the ones we did get right looked great and tasted good too.

Our swan made out of a pastry puffed filled with Chantilly. These took a little practice to get right but the effect was great was they were plated.

May 20, 2013

Pasta E Fagoli ***Surprise Recipe Swap***

Where has this month gone? Does anyone else like these past weeks have just slipped by them. It feels like we just had Spring Break and now my kiddos only have 3.5 days left before Summer Break starts!! 
I have been pretty busy with my current college schedule and on top of that schedule I had a house full of sick children....not a great combo at all. Thankfully I didn't catch the germs and that the germs have finally decided they don't like all the de-germifying I have been doing and have left our house ;-) So I hope you can all forgive me for not having posted much in the past days it really was not my intention to leave you hanging for so long.

Today is May 20th so that means we are FINALLY allowed sharing our partnered up with for the monthly Secret Recipe Swap hosted by Jutta over at Hungry Little Girl
I finally get to share the great recipes I have found and will be adding to my keeper files.
Spatulas on Parade was my stalking site for this months swap. Dawn the creator and editor of this blog has been doing a great job with providing a great variety of recipes. I browsed through her recipes and postings....and probably read every single one not because I couldn't find a good recipe but because I really liked SO MANY of her recipes and I REALLY felt she writes from the heart and the way it is.

Now to the I decided to recreate.....first I decided on her Pasta E Fagoli Soup recipe and then I just couldn't help myself and also made her Everything Tropical Cake. I chose to make the soup because I love eating it at Olive Garden but since I don't go that often I wanted to have a recipe that would compare that I could make at home. The Everything Tropical Cake was chosen because I love coconut, pineapple and mangos but my husband doesn't...thankfully I had a Bunco night with some friends SO it was the perfect opportunity for me to try it! Another reason I wanted to try this recipe was because it is DAIRY & EGG FREE!! 

This is without the seems I can never get a picture with the frosting on my cakes!

Both recipes are keepers :-) 

1 lb ground beef or turkey (I used turkey)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp italian seasoning
2 carrot, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
26 oz. beef stock
1- 25 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp parsley
3/4 cup cooked pasted

Cook beef or turkey with the paprika and italian seasoning ***I forgot to add the seasoning...oops***
Drain the fat from the pan before adding it to your crockpot. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir well. Cook on low 6-8 hrs or on high 3-4.   
30 minutes before serving add the cooked pasta and stir.
Serve with parmesan cheese and crispy bread.


Everything Tropical Cake

1 1/2 cup flour plus 3 TBS
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mango nectar
1 tsp white vinegar
5 TBS vegetable oil
3/4 cup shredded carrots
4 TBS crushed pineapple, after draining juices
1/3 cup coconut flakes
1/2 can white frosting
1/2 cup crushed pineapple with the juice


Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a glass 2.2 quart rectangle baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients first and mix well. Then add the mango nectar, vinegar, and oil. Mix until combined. Stir in the carrots, pineapple and coconut flakes. Stir well and pour into your prepared pan. Bake 30 minutes, cake will be nice and golden.
Meanwhile, whisk together the frosting and crushed pineapple. Set this aside until the cakes has cooled.  

I decided to pour the frosting mixture onto the cake while it was still warm....well I think it would have been better to frost the cake until after it has cooled because my frosting disappeared!!! The cake was so warm that it melted the frosting! HAHA oh wasn't a bad mistake but it didn't look as pretty as Dawn's cake ;-)

Joining Hungry Little Girl monthly Secret Recipe Swap is as easy as clicking on the link below!


May 1, 2013

Strawberry Crisp

Have strawberries been on sale like mad crazy every where or is it just in Tucson because I don't think I can remember the last time I have boughten and eaten so many strawberries!! Not to mention adding them to smoothies too.

This recipe that I am going to share with you was given to me by my mother in law and was for a Rhubarb Crisp. Rhubarb is used in a lot of different dessert in Germany but honestly I can't recall a single on being as yummy as the one my mother in law made. So of course I wanted the recipe and now I always keep a few servings of rhubarb in my freezer.

This recipe is easy to make and doesn't require too many ingredients either, another winner in my books. So far I have made it with rhubarb and strawberries but I do think you could try it with other fruit too. I am pretty sure I have some frozen peaches in my freezer...hhhmmm...I will keep let you know if I try it and how I like it!

3 cups strawberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
1 small pkg strawberry Jello mix
1 box white or yellow cake mix
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups hot water, not boiling
1 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a 13x9 baking pan. Measure your water in either a microwave safe measuring cup or bowl, add your butter to this and heat just until butter is completely melted, set aside. 

Roughly chop strawberries and put them into your baking pan to cover the bottom, set aside. In a small bowl whisk together sugar and jello powder, then sprinkle this mixture evenly over the strawberries.  

Then sprinkle the dry cake mix next...if you notice any large clumps mash them up a bit.

Now carefully pour the butter & water mixture over the cake mix, try covering all of the cake mix with the water but don't worry if there are still a few spots not drenched.
Now bake for 45 minutes, the top should be golden brown and the juices bubbling on the sides. Cool for 15 minutes before serving, then refrigerate any leftovers.

***I like making this the day before I plan on serving it BUT love it hot out of the oven's just a little messier warm ;-)

April 22, 2013

Shepherd's Pie - Secret Recipe Swap

It's that time of the month....Surprise Recipe Swap....yay....that means for the past weeks I have been blog stalking a fellow food blogger :-) Custom Taste has such a vast variety of healthy, unique and very allergy friendly recipes. I myself am lactose intolerant so it was nice to find recipes that had lactose free substitutes. I liked how each post/recipe has a list of needed tools or hardware you will need to cook/bake the recipes. I also saw a few links to online stores that gives you the option to purchase the needed items if you do not already have them.

Another great feature on the posts at Custom Taste is that they have added nutritional values, tips & tricks, reheating and storing instructions too. Oh and before I forget, cost of their recipes was also included....of course this is subject to change depending on where you live and shop.

Straight out of the oven!
After going through all of the recipes on Custom Taste I decided to try the recipe for a
And now am glad that I did! This is an easy and very tasty recipe. Something I hadn't tried before was to grind the dry spices before adding them to a recipe. Well let me tell you it is something that I am going to try again in recipes to come. 

3 potatoes, washed but do not peel**
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
3-4 mushrooms, sliced
1 lb ground turkey or beef
1 cup milk (I used lactose free milk)
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried sage
1 TBS dried parsley
Grind these spices and set aside for later. You can either use a mortar and pestle to grind the spices together or you can put them in a blender (I used my Bullet to grind them).

Chop all the vegetables; carrots, onions and mushrooms go in a bowl for later and potatoes go into a pot covered with water.Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook them until fork tender. Drain and return to pot. Mash the potatoes with the milk, olive oil and salt. Set aside.
Meanwhile brown your meat in a nonstick skillet. Once meat is not longer pink add the set aside vegetables and stir in the ground spices. 

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a square baking pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
Scoop just enough potatoes to cover the bottom of the baking pan. Top with the meat & veggie mix and then cover with the remaining mashed potatoes. 

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. 
**Custom Taste broiled the Shepherd's Pie for 3 minutes before removing....I opted not to do this**
Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. ENJOY!!


April 16, 2013

Taco Joe's

Who hasn't had sloppy joe's at some point in their life and I am pretty sure tacos have been eaten too BUT what about a taco shell filled with a mexican flavored sloppy joe?! While this is simmering away in your crockpot be prepared for the scrumptious smell that is going to fill your house.

2 lbs ground turkey or beef
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp minced garlic 
1 cup chili sauce
1 can (8oz.) tomato sauce
1TBS worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp pepper
1 pkg taco seasoning

buns or taco shells with toppings

Brown the ground turkey with the chopped onion and garlic until meat is no longer pink.
While you are browning the meat combine the remaining ingredients in your crockpot. Starting with the chili sauce and tomato sauce. Then stir in the worcestershire, water, pepper and taco seasoning. Carefully add the browned
meat to the sauce mixture and stir to coat.

Cook on low 6 hrs.

The best part about this recipe is that you have the choice to serve it either as a taco filler or as a sloppy joe.....either way tastes GREAT!! I personally liked the taco option the best! With a little shredded cheddar and sliced green onions....yum