Pumpkin Spice Mug Cake

Not to jump on the pumpkin spice bandwagon, but I was in the mood for a little taste of fall today; so I found a recipe for a pumpkin spice mug cake. During my boys’ naps, I whipped it up and enjoyed it with my coffee while I continued with the planning/prepping stage of my family’s impending move.

The cake burst with flavor thanks to the spices. It didn’t rise much, resulting in a dense, albeit moist, cake. I liked that the cake wasn’t overly sweet. I topped it with icing today, since we had an open can in the fridge, but in the future I think powdered sugar would work great. I definitely will make this again. The major drawback is that it only requires one tablespoon of pumpkin. I’ll use the rest of my can of pumpkin in soup and pumpkin snickerdoodles, but it could be wasteful if you’re not going to be making other pumpkin recipes in the near future.

Here’s my recipe below:

Ingredients

¼ cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. cinnamon
⅛ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
⅛ tsp. nutmeg
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp. milk
1½ tsp. unsweetened apple sauce with cinnamon
¼ tsp. vanilla extract

Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions

Mix dry ingredients together in your mug.

In a small bowl, stir together the wet ingredients. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet. Stir until smooth.

Spray the inside of your mug with cooking spray.

Scoop the batter into your mug. Cook on high for approximately one minute. Because microwave wattage vary, so do their cook times. After the first minute, check your cake every 10 seconds or so until it’s as done as you like it.

Allow to cool for a minute or two, then dust with powdered sugar before enjoying.

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Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

My boys and I — and to a lesser extent, my husband — have done a lot of traveling this summer. We got home yesterday to a nearly empty fridge and pantry. Although I did go grocery shopping, I wanted to use the odds and ends of our food for a healthy, tasty lunch for my toddler and I. One of those odds and ends was half a bag of slightly wrinkly but still useable apples.

My internet search turned up muffins, cookies, and baked oatmeal recipes. Since I frequently bake muffins and sweets didn’t entice my palate after eating lots of junk food on vacation, baked oatmeal sounded like an interesting option. I chose a simple recipe without a lot of sugar. I jazzed up the spices a bit by adding 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and a dash of ground cloves. I also only used 3 cups of milk, which still worked well and didn’t change the cooking time.

As a bonus, once I chopped the apples, my toddler could help mix up the oatmeal. He loved it and snuck as many raisins as he could. In fact, he picked out the apples and wouldn’t eat them, but he ate all of his raisins and asked for mine, too. Maybe next time I’ll skip the apples and just triple the raisins.

The baked oatmeal turned out beautifully. It had a cakey texture, though if I’d used all the milk it might have been creamier. The apples remained fairly firm, which I enjoyed, but if you’d like them to melt in your mouth, chop them finely.

Here’s the link if you’d like to try this : https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/baked-apple-oatmeal/c5e03f34-3e10-4a9a-b9f7-3483bf215bcf
Enjoy! We sure did!

Sheet-Pan Chicken with Lemons and Green Olives

I expected this sheet-pan chicken from Better Homes & Gardens’ April 2018 edition to be pretty good. However, this tasty recipe blew me away, and it’s flexible for family members who aren’t quite so adventurous. I made a few slight modifications. Here’s how I did this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 cup green olives, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat the sheet-pan with the oil. Pat the chicken dry. Place it on the sheet-pan and turn to coat. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika with the salt, then sprinkle evenly on all sides of the chicken. Quarter the lemons and shallots and scatter on the sheet-pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Squeeze lemon juice over the chicken and drain pan juices into a small saucepan. Add the remaining paprika, butter, and olives. Stir gently until melted.

I only put the sauce over my chicken. My husband and older son (3 and 1/2) liked the chicken with just the salt, paprika, and lemon juice. My younger son (15 months) wasn’t eating the chicken, but he tried and loved the saucy olives I sliced up for him; so that’s a victory. I loved how the richness of the sauce and olives complemented the bright, smokey flavor of the chicken. The sauce also tasted great over our mashed potatoes. I’m looking forward to making this again and maybe adding to the flavor by cooking the chicken on the grill!

Banana Coffee Caramel Ice Cream

Just for the heck of it, I’m doing a post. We recently got back from vacation and our schedule was completely thrown off. That meant I wasn’t getting up in time to make a lunch for the hubby which in turn meant that I had five very ripe bananas to use. I knew I’d make a loaf of banana bread, but I’ve been getting bored with banana bread, muffins, cookies… when suddenly inspiration hit, bananas foster! And since I had leftover whipping cream from making a dessert for friends on the keto diet, I decided I’d add the bananas foster to ice cream.

I found an easy recipe that I quartered since I’m the only one who’ll eat it and got to work. The only ingredient I didn’t have was rum (or extract). Then inspiration hit again: I decided to use coffee extract instead. In the end, I also added an extra batch of the bananas foster filling.

It turned out GREAT, though the texture was a little icy because I don’t have an ice cream maker. Give this a try some time!

It’s been fun!

Yes, Try It Tuesday has been fun, but the time has come for this tired — scratch that, exhausted mama to prioritize where she’s using her energy and what’s contributing to getting her where she wants to be. While I enjoy writing this blog, the time I spending planning and writing it would be better used on studying for the new career I hope to start by the end of the year, planning Sunday school lessons, hanging out with my husband, or just relaxing. So I’ll continue to experiment in the kitchen, but only those lucky enough to talk to me regularly will hear about the results. Thanks to those who took the time to read Try It Tuesday and to those who are supporting me as I let go of some things so I can be better at others. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Black Bean Brownies

If you prefer cakey brownies, this recipe is not for you. If you are unable to wait for a while before sampling your treats from the oven, this recipe is not for you. Now then, if you like cool, fudgy, sweet treats, read on!

I’ve had black bean brownies before and felt rather underwhelmed. The flavor and texture were only okay, certainly not tempting enough for me to take the time to prepare them myself. However, I have a whole lot of beans in my pantry right now. I hoped between the peanut butter and the admonition from the blogger who posted this recipe to let the brownies cool in the fridge overnight before eating them I’d found a winning recipe. 

Overall, I’d say that if I’m going to make black bean brownies, this is how I’d do it. Check out the recipe at the following link. My comments on the recipe will be just below!

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2017/01/30/peanut-butter-brownies-swirl/
These really are fudge-like. I loved pairing the cool richness of the brownie with the hot sharpness of my coffee this afternoon. I must say that the health benefits from the beans made me feel better about my afternoon indulgence, and the chocolate soothed my nerves after the fiasco (three times over) that was potty training thus far today. I let my oldest son try a few bites, and he didn’t notice that these were not traditional brownies — he knows when the pizza is homemade though. That said, I could tell the difference. The texture isn’t quite as smooth, and I noticed the floral notes from the honey I used as the sweetener. It wasn’t bad, but it was different. I might experiment with white or brown sugar next time since I don’t have a problem with using sugar in my desserts. Finally, while the peanut butter is a nice addition, the flavor is fairly subtle here. If you’re a peanut butter fiend, don’t expect that element to dominate. 

I still have three cans of black beans in my pantry. Let me know if you have a great recipe to use them in!

Snickerdoodle Blondies

I was very uncertain about these blondies when I came across this recipe. After all, snickerdoodles are supposed to be so soft they practically melt in your mouth. On the other hand, blondies are chewy and buttery. Could these two sweet snacks really meld into one? I didn’t know, but in my house, snickerdoodles always disappear fast, so I thought this recipe was worth a try.

Boy, was it ever worth it! Check it out here: https://sugarspunrun.com/snickerdoodle-blondies/

Although my husband looked at his first serving with a great deal of suspicion, he actually ended up bargaining with me for the last blondie in the cookie jar!

Which brings me to my comments on this recipe. These bars store well in a sealed container after you’ve sliced them. Or, put them in your kids’ lunchboxes for a great homemade treat.

Like most bars, they are also simpler and quicker to make than traditional snickerdoodles. The success of this recipe makes me want to explore recipes for other bar-versions of our favorite cookies.

As for flavor and texture, “blondies” is a misnomer because these capture the smooth, thick, melty perfection of a good snickerdoodle. They don’t taste super sweet despite the 2 cups of sugar. And don’t be afraid of the topping. The cinnamon might look overwhelming on the top of these bars, but the flavor and texture are perfectly balanced.

My husband has already insisted that I make these again. Try them and see if this becomes a repeat recipe in your household as well.

Hurricane Stew (and the Best Chocolate Cake Ever)

So as Hurricane Irma rumbles closer, I’ve decided to post early. Authorities are warning us we’ll most likely lose power for a few hours to a few days, so I’m doubtful I will be able to post on Tuesday. Instead, I’ll share what I made for dinner tonight as we watched the wind pick up and the rain fall faster. I’m calling this Hurricane Stew. 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 pound beef stew meat, cut into chunks

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 can condensed tomato soup

1 bay leaf

1 cube beef bouillon 

3-4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped

1 can (15-ounce) white beans (I used navy), drained and rinsed

Directions

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium skillet. Add the onions and beef. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook, stirring frequently, until the beef is seared and the onions are soft and translucent. Pour into a slow cooker. Add tomato soup, one can of water, beef bouillon, bacon, and bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.

In the last hour of cooking, remove the bay leaf and add the beans. Serve with a hearty bread or rolls.

My brother-in-law and I really enjoyed the soup. My husband would have preferred that I use potatoes instead of beans, but thought it was just fine otherwise. My son ate without fighting, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say he liked it. Still, I’ll take it.

I really don’t have any modifications to make. The base of the soup was thick and flavorful, the beans kept a creamy consistency, and the beef was tender. We don’t get much in the way of soup weather in hurricane country, but today fit the bill and this soup met that need.

Now, as a bonus, I’m going to share a second recipe for chocolate cake that I made a few days ago. I had been prepping for the hurricane and needed a quiet moment of baking to relax and rejuvenate. I don’t usually make cakes from scratch because, as I’ve said before, the result generally falls short of the texture and flavor of boxed mixes. This cake made me eat my words – and boy was it tasty! Check out the recipe here: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/king-arthur-flours-original-cake-pan-cake-recipe

The cake is moist and topped with a luscious frosting. The only change I made was to add a little powdered sugar to the frosting to sweeten sand thicken it a bit. Honestly, this easy-to-make cake was better than cake I’ve had in restaurants. Enjoy these two recipes on a chilly evening and you won’t mind the weather outside your door.

 

Milk-Braised Pork Loin

I had actually chosen a different recipe for this week’s Try It Tuesday, but I had a full gallon of milk in my refrigerator that was going to expire soon. So instead, I made some rice pudding for fellowship at church and gave this recipe for milk-braised pork loin in a slow cooker a try for dinner. 

It’s a recipe with a lot of flavor potential: fresh sage, garlic, lemon. I must say, my house smelled great from the moment I started searing the pork and sautéing the garlic and sage. Sadly, these flavors didn’t carry through for me — though that may not be the fault of the recipe. My sauce broke! Either the low setting on my slow cooker runs a little hot or I simply cooked the pork loin in its sauce too long. I’ll spare you the details of the mess in my slow cooker, but I think the garlic, sage, and lemon flavored the sauce (which was inedible), not the pork. 

Luckily, the pork still tasted good, if a little lackluster, and it was tender. I won’t rush to make this again, but if I need to use up a lot of milk, I’d be willing to give this recipe another shot. If you try it and it works for you, let me know how the sauce tastes!

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/braised-pork-with-lemon-sage

Chicken and Kale Casserole

 As I read through this Try It Tuesday’s recipe, I realized that I could do all the prep for the Chicken and Kale Casserole during nap time. I love when that happens. That’s also why I am in love with my slow cooker. Advanced-prep meals relieve so much stress at dinner. 

Anyway… I must say that I am glad that I read the comments for this recipe; I usually don’t. A number of people described the resulting dish as bland. They also suggested simple fixes like adding salt and herbs. So, you’ll find my additions and other notes below and the original recipe here: http://www.marthastewart.com/862208/chicken-and-kale-casserole

I halved the recipe, but used the same amount of onion, garlic, and lemon zest as the full version (remember, fight blandness!). I also used canned, chunked chicken, which I’ve never used before. I had it in my pantry from our move to our current location and wanted to use it up. It was actually flavorful and worked well. The can said it was rib meat and it already has some salt in it thanks to the canning process. To up the flavor subtly, I added 

  • a good deal of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander 
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

These additions gave a background of spice notes to the star flavors of the dish: lemon and chicken. The way in which the lemon shone through pleasantly surprised my palate. I appreciated how it’s brightness lightened what could have otherwise felt like a lot of ricotta cheese. If you have less picky/more adventurous eaters than I do, you could probably even double the coriander and nutmeg.

Sadly, my family’s reaction was less pleased than my own, so I don’t know if it’s worth making again for our household. That said, my son ate his required three bites without complaining or fussing and I can think of a number of extended family members who would enjoy this casserole. If you like lemon-pepper seasoning for fish and chicken, you’d probably like this casserole as well.