Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?

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Absolutely not!

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So let’s mix two amazing things together to make something incredibly awesome: muffins+doughnuts=moughnuts? No, that doesn’t really work. So we’ll just call them doughnut muffins.

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These duffins (that doesn’t sound nice either…darn) are made with PUMPKIN. Need I say more.

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I am sad because all of these babies are gone and I would really like to eat one right now.

OMG.

Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

Recipe from I Want Crazy

Makes: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

For muffins:

1 1/2 sticks melted butter

3 cups all purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

For sugar coating:

3/4 cup sugar +2 1/2 tsp cinnamon (mixed together in shallow dish)

1 stick melted butter (in shallow dish)

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease and flour a muffin tin.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, mix together buttermilk and pumpkin.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until combined and light and fluffy. Beat eggs into mixture. Mix in the flour and the pumpkin mixture, alternating additions between bowls until combined.

Fill muffin tins and bake for about 23 minutes (could be shorter or longer, depending on your oven).

Cool for 10 minutes and then sugar coat by spooning butter over muffin and then dipping/spooning cinnamon sugar all over muffin.

Cool muffins completely on wire rack and then store in airtight container.

Individual Chicken Pot Pies

Chicken pot pie is the perfect cold weather comfort food.

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Hearty chicken and vegetables surrounded by a flaky, buttery, crust…what could be better?

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I played around with a few recipes and came up with a perfect filling combo for these pies. I love onions, but I have a very strong intolerance to them so I wanted to try to make the pies without onion and with other flavorful ingredients and dare I say that these pies were better and more flavorful than any onion-filled pot pie I’ve had before!

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I made the pastry from scratch, though store bought puff pastry would also work well. This pastry recipe was pretty easy, compared to some others I’ve seen. It’s fun to make the dough from scratch and I urge you to do the same!

I also roasted bone-in skin-on chicken breasts instead of buying rotisserie chicken or boneless chicken and the meat was tender, juicy, flavorful, THE BEST.

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For the vegetable filling I used baby bella mushrooms, carrots, peas, red skin potatoes, and parsley.

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This recipe isn’t very challenging (especially if you use store bought pastry), but it certainly is time consuming AND well worth it!

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Make a special someone in your life very happy and cook this for them this weekend. You will not be sorry.

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Individual Chicken Pot Pies

Adapted from Ina Garten

Makes: 4 pies

Ingredients:

For pastry:

3 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1/4 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

2/3 cup ice water

1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water (for egg wash)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper for topping

For pie filling:

6 split chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

5 cups chicken stock

2 vegetable bouillon cubes

12 tbsp (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter

2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

2 cups finely chopped carrots

2 cups frozen peas

1 1/2 cups finely chopped red-skin potatoes

1/2 cup minced fresh italian flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare chicken: Place chicken on baking sheet and rub with olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper generously. Roast until fully cooked through with an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, 35-50 minutes. Set aside for about 10 minutes to cool and then remove meat from bones and finely chop meat.

Make pastry dough: In a food processor, add flour, salt, and baking powder and mix. Add the shortening and butter and using your fingers, incorporate into the flour until each piece of the shortening and butter is coated with flour. Pulse the food processor about 10 times, until the fat has dispersed into the flour. Turn on the food processor and with the motor running, add the ice water and mix until the dough just comes together. Pour dough onto floured cutting board and knead very quickly into a ball (you do not want the dough to warm up too much). Wrap in plastic and let rest in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare vegetables: Blanch carrots (already chopped) for 2 minutes. For tips on how to blanch, click here. Use the same pot of water used for the blanching to boil potatoes (already chopped) for about 5 minutes.

Prepare filling: In a small sauce pan heat the chicken stock and let the bouillon cubes dissolve in the stock. In a large pot or preferably a dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the mushrooms for about 5-8 minutes, until mushrooms  are tender. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring the entire time, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the pot. Simmer over low heat for another minute and stir as sauce thickens. Add 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and heavy cream. Add the chicken, carrots, peas, mushrooms, potatoes, and parsley. Mix well.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Assemble and cook pies: Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof ramekins/bowls. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll out each piece to be just larger than the circumference of the ramekin. Brush the outside edges of the ramekin with the egg wash and place the rolled out dough on top of each of the ramekins. Crimp the dough with your fingers to stick to the edges and it’s okay if it hangs a bit over the edges (this actually gives the pie a nice rustic look). Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.Place on a baking sheet (or if your baking sheet is too small, place baking sheet under pies to catch spills) and bake for 1 hour.

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms

‘Tis the season for soup! It’s cold out there.

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I actually made this soup a few weeks ago, but it has been very busy around here so I am just now getting to blog about it.

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This soup was super easy to throw together and is oh so creamy and delicious, warming, soothing, comforting, happy.

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This recipe makes a LOT of soup so we had tons of leftovers since I only serve two people. I froze half of the recipe, and just now moved it into the refrigerator to thaw because poor Casey is very sick with a bad sore throat. I bet this soup will do the trick and make him feel much better!

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The flavor of this soup is very similar to a chicken noodle, but in my opinion way better. The shiitake mushrooms add a wonderful texture and flavor. The chicken thigh richly flavors the broth. The wild rice adds a nice chewy texture and the carrots and celery add a nice crunch. It’s really really tasty and you can totally make a meal out of it. I think the soup would go great with a crusty bread on the side, but if you want to keep it on the healthy side that isn’t even needed!

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Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms

Adapted from Skinny Taste

Serves: about 8

Ingredients:

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 tbsp all purpose flour

6 cups low sodium chix broth

3 cups water

2/3 cup chopped carrots

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 celery stalks, chopped

14 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 4)

4.5 oz long grain rice and wild rice combo (I used Zatarain’s)

1/2 cup brown rice

5 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced

2 tbsp reduced fat sour cream

Salt and pepper, to taste

Melt butter in large dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently until soft but not brown, about 4 minutes. Add flour and stir consistently and cook for a minute. Add broth, water, carrots, garlic, celery, brown rice, and chicken thighs. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add wild rice mix and mushrooms and simmer covered on low about 25 minutes, stirring every 5 or so minutes.

Remove chicken with tongs and place on cutting board. Shred chicken with forks and then return to pot. Stir in sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste (I like to add less than more and then if someone wants it more salty, they can add salt onto their individual portion).

Homemade Pizza Dough

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One of my and Casey’s favorite weekend meals is homemade pizza.

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We love pizza. So much. It might be both of our favorite foods. We love it so much that we usually eat it once a week.

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While we stay true to our home and our first pizza of choice is always Chicago deep dish (Lou’s is our very favorite) , there is not a type of pizza that we will not eat and do not love. This particular dough recipe is not thin or thick, but regular crust (very similar to a lot of the pizza we had while in Italy)

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I found a wonderful pizza dough recipe from Food Network, and I have made pizza using this recipe several times. This crust is delicious. Not too bread-y to take away from the toppings, but bread-y enough to make you want to eat the crust at the end of the slice. Sometimes I’ll get lucky and Casey will even let me eat his crust (oh, I looove my carbs). 🙂

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This dough recipe is fairly easy, but with any yeast recipe, you do need to make sure you follow the instructions well because yeast it temperamental and not very forgiving.

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I don’t use a specific recipe for my pizza toppings-but I will share what I topped my particular pizza with this time around! I like to change it every time.

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Eyeball the topping ingredients and put whatever you like on there! It’s pizza so it will always turn out amazingly. Just don’t burn it!

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Homemade Pizza Dough

Makes 2 14 inch pizza crusts

Ingredients:

3 1/2  cups bread flour, plus more for rolling the dough

1 tsp sugar

1 packet active dry yeast

2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 cups water, 110 degrees F (this temp should be fairly exact), + more for mixing dough

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tsp

In the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment, add flour, sugar, yeast, and kosher salt. Mix for a few seconds to combine. Measure out water and use instant read meat thermometer to ensure temperature is exactly 110 degrees F.*** While mixer is running, add water and 2 tbsp of olive oil and beat until dough forms into a ball. You may need to add more hot water if the dough is too dry (add 1 tbsp at a time) or more flour if the dough is too sticky (add 1 tbsp at a time). I generally only need to add more water, and just a few tbsp. Move the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until dough becomes a smooth, elastic ball. Be careful not to over-knead, or dough will be tough.  

Coat a large bowl with 2 tsp olive oil and place dough ball in bowl. Coat ball with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm area to let it double in size (this will take about an hour). ****

After the dough has doubled, remove from bowl and place dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into two equal balls and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 10 minutes.

*** Note: my hottest tap water is about 120 degrees F so I usually measure out the water and then let it sit until it comes to 110. If you do not have a thermometer, using your hottest tap water and then letting it sit for a few seconds before using should work fine. Also, if you do not have a stand mixer/dough hook attachment, you can complete the mixing with your hands but it will take longer to mix/knead.

****Note: I like to preheat my oven early for cooking the pizza (I do 450 degrees F) and place the bowl with the dough on top of the stove since it becomes very warm.

Roll dough out onto pizza stone/baking sheet into about a 14 inch diameter.  Sprinkle with olive oil and spread across crust. Place desired toppings on pizza and bake at 450 for 12-20 minutes, until crust is golden brown and cheese on pizza is bubbly. I used the following toppings on my pizza: pizza sauce (store bought), shredded mozzarella cheese, sliced spicy salami, fresh torn basil.

Pizza Dough recipe adapted from Food Network

Asian Chicken Salad

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This is one of those meals that is just oh so absolutely perfect for a weeknight.

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It tastes no time to put together, especially if you used already cooked chicken. I put together the entire meal start-to-finish in about 30 minutes. Week night SCORE.

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This salad is packed full of produce and super healthy, but also tastes so wonderful. I love when healthy food tastes good. It makes me so happy.

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This is a keeper-something I’m going to for sure add to the week night meal rotation! This would also make great lunch leftovers.

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Asian Chicken Salad

Serves about 4

Ingredients:

1 jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tsp light brown sugar

1 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp fresh grated ginger (peeled)

1/2 small head of cabbage (or 1/3 of a large head), chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled then grated

6 scallions (white and pale green part only), minced

1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup baby spinach, thinly sliced

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Boil chicken breasts in water until cooked (20-25 minutes). Once chicken is cooked, remove to large cutting board. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Using clean hands, pull apart chicken to small pieces.

Whisk together jalapeno, oil, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, ginger. Add salt to taste.

Add cabbage, carrots, scallions, chicken, spinach, and cilantro to large salad bowl and toss to combine. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to combine. Add peanuts and sesame seeds and toss to combine. Distribute to serving plates/bowls and enjoy.

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Impromptu Late Night Cocoa Brownies

Would you believe me if I told you that my husband has a bigger sweet tooth than I do?

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Good, I’m glad you don’t because that statement is false. There is no way anyone could have a bigger sweet tooth than me.

HOWEVER, I would not hesitate to say that my husband has an equally big sweet tooth!

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The other night I was feeling great because I cooked and we ate a super healthy meal.

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Then Casey’s sweet tooth kicked in and he asked for dessert. Realizing I didn’t have any stocked chocolate bars or ice cream on hand, I started to brainstorm about what I could possibly make with ingredients already in my pantry. I immediately thought of cocoa brownies, because I always have cocoa powder stocked.

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The result was magnificent. So decadent, in fact, that we ate half the batch. I made Casey bring the rest to school the next day for his coworkers so that I wouldn’t eat the second half all on my own (and oh yes, I would…).

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Impromptu Late Night Cocoa Brownies

Ingredients:

10 tbsp (1 stick+ 2 tbsp) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder (I just used Hershey’s since that was what I had and it worked great)

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs, cold

1/2 cup all purpose flour (not sifted)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 325. Line 8×8 inch baking dish with parchment paper.

In a medium heat proof bowl, combine butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Microwave in 20 second increments (stirring after each time) until ingredients are melted and hot. Set aside until mixture is warm, no longer hot.

With a wooden spoon, stir in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs one at a time and after each addition stir vigorously. Add the flour and stir until no lumps remain. After no lumps remain, stir vigorously for about 40 strokes. Spread batter into lined baking dish.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool (or you can be impatient like Casey and me and eat them hot and let them fall apart a little!) Once brownies cool, they are a lot easier to slice, though!

Recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

The Best Baked Salmon

I realize that title is a little bit overconfident. But I promise you, this salmon is THE BEST EVER.

My step mom is an absolutely amazing cook, and salmon is her specialty. This salmon is adapted from her recipe.  While no salmon I make will ever be remotely as good as my step mom’s (I swear she must use some secret ingredient she isn’t telling me about…maybe the secret ingredient is love 🙂 ), my attempt at making salmon inspired by her recipe came pretty darn close to as good!

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The husband says my presentation needs some work, and I’d have to agree with that. After all we do eat with our eyes before we eat with our taste buds!

I only made 1 half pound fillet and my step mom typically makes a 4 lb fillet, so I guessed a lot with the measurements. I will mark down what I used here, but you should feel free to just put however much you want of each ingredient onto the salmon, and realize that no two pieces of salmon will cook/taste the same. I served the salmon with smashed potatoes made with chives and sour cream. I didn’t love them so I’m not going to share the recipe.

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Have fun experimenting like I did!!

The Best Baked Salmon

Serves 1-2

Ingredients (shown for .5 lb filet–>double, triple, adjust cooking time, etc. depending on size of fish/number of people to feed)

.5 lb salmon fillet (mine had skin on the bottom and once cooked the meat came off super easily but might be better with no skin)

1/8 cup white wine

juice squeezed from 1/2 lemon

4 sprigs fresh dill

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper (my step-mom uses red pepper but I didn’t have that)

garlic powder

olive oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375.

Place aluminum foil over cookie sheet and spray foil with cooking spray.

Place salmon on cookie sheet (skin side down if there is skin on it). Pour white wine over salmon. Squeeze lemon juice over salmon (be careful not to let seeds fall onto the salmon). Sprinkle generous amount of kosher salt on salmon. Sprinkle garlic powder and black pepper on salmon. Top fillet with fresh dill.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes.