Sunday, April 14, 2013

Skinny Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

Spaghetti Squash. If you haven't tried it, you MUST. I love pasta and while this doesn't taste just like pasta it does give the same consistency! I love this recipe and it seemed to be a hit! Once I purchased the spaghetti squash, I took to Pinterest to find a good recipe! I found this Skinny Spaghetti squash recipe and knew I had to try it!! The recipe originally comes from The Comfort of Cooking,

1 medium sized spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk I actually used Almond Milk
1 tablespoon cream cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus 2 tablespoons extra for topping
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes and fresh parsley for optional garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Prep the squash, cut spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet covered with water. Bake about an hour, until tender.
3. Once squash is cooked, use a fork to gently scrape the "spaghetti" strands in the center.
4. For the sauce, melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. Once hot, add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
5. Whisk in flour, cooking for another minute while stirring.
6. Whisk in milk, until no lumps remain. Once hot, add cream cheese and stir until smooth.
7. Remove from heat, stir in Parmesan, salt and pepper.
8. Spoon sauce equally into each spaghetti squash half. Pull up spaghetti strands to evenly cost as much as possible with the sauce.
9. Top with extra Parmesan and place under broiler of oven for 2-3 minutes, until golden and bubbly.
10. Top each half with red pepper flakes and parsley if desired.
11. Serve hot.

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Maple Glazed Salmon

Salmon is so easy to prepare and so healthy for you, I'm all for a quick weekday dinner! This is my new go-to salmon recipe! The sauce takes about 2 minutes to whip up and then bake the salmon quickly and you have a delicious meal. I got this recipe from Real Simple.

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillets

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a small bowl mix syrup, mustard, and a little salt and pepper. Coat salmon and place on a baking sheet.
3. Bake 6-8 minutes until opaque throughout.

Serve with your choice of veggies.

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Kielbasa, Apples, and Onions

This is one of my new favorite recipes to make, probably because it doesn't take long at all and makes plenty for leftovers! This recipe is originally from Broke Ass Gourmet Love it!

1 Kielbasa
1 red apple
1 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Put 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and put in half of the kielbasa, onions, and apples in and sauté. Repeat with the rest of the olive oil and ingredients.

I don't typically post pictures of myself in the kitchen but Allyson snapped this candid photo while I was preparing this dish so I thought I'd include it, a look inside my life in the kitchen!

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A new obsession, a slightly healthy one. Smoothies! My cousin, Robin, graciously shared this recipe with our family and those of us that have tried it have made it part of our daily routine! It is easy to make, delicious, and gives you an energy boost! Trust me, it is delicious, give it a try (I say this because I was a little reluctant myself to try it the first time).

Green Machine Smoothie
3/4 glass of Almond Milk
A couple of ice cubes (optional)
A large handful of Spinach (or Kale)
1/4 cucumber peeled, more if you'd like
1/4 avocado, more if you'd like
1/2 pear peeled (this is your sweetener) I typically add banana and/or peeled apple

You can also add blueberries if you'd like. Really, you can make it your own by the fruit you add!

Blend on high until creamy.

I have adapted this to make just about 1 smoothie.

Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie
Smoothies are just so easy to make in the morning and usually hold me over to lunch so I've gone to Pinterest and now have a collection of recipes to try! Here is one that I've tried and love!
1 tablespoon peanut butter
3/4 cup milk (I use Almond Milk)
A couple of ice cubes

Blend on high until creamy!

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Bunny Cake

An Easter tradition, a bunny cake! This year I was joining friends and family for Easter lunch so there was no problem eating all of the bunny cake! Typically I make a coconut bunny cake but this year I opted for carrot cake. My mom's carrot cake recipe!

This cake is very easy to make, you make 2 round cakes and cut one of them for the ears and bowtie! Simply take one round cake and cut out a curved portion for the ear, lay it over the opposite side of the cake and cut exactly along it, now the leftover center makes your bowtie. I arrange everything on a covered baking sheet and begin frosting. Set aside some frosting to color pink. I put a layer of frosting over the entire cake, then frost the entire bowtie with pink frosting. For the ears I used my icing tool that I use with my cupcakes and it made it ten times easier than ever before, mom was amazed! Ha. I used the round tip and quickly added a dab of pink in the center of each ear! For the whiskers I use one licorice twizzlers sliced to make several whiskers. I typically use jelly beans for the eyes and nose but this year used mini Cadbury eggs. On to the recipe!

Carrot Cake
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups finely grated carrots
1. Sift and mix dry ingredients.
2. Add oil and stir well.
3. Add eggs one at a time.
4. Add carrots and cinnamon.
Split into two round 8 inch pans.
Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.
Cool completely before frosting.
8 ounces cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 box (1lb) confectioner's sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Soften cream cheese and butter and mix together.
2. Add confectioner's sugar and vanilla and beat well.

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St. Patrick's Day cupcakes

This year I went to visit my sister St. Patrick's Day in Savannah and was assigned the task of bringing cupcakes, now that's a task I can handle!!

So I set out on a mission to find the perfect St. Patrick's Day cupcakes, I opted to take two kinds, Green Velvet cupcakes, and Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting! They were both hits but I'm pretty sure everyone voted the Guinness their favorite!

For the Green Velvet recipe, I used my traditional Red Velvet recipe but substituted green food coloring in place of red, a simple change! I added a few green sprinkles on top as well. You can never have too much green on St. Patrick's Day!

The Guinness cupcakes recipe I got from

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup Guinness stout
2/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and fill muffin tins with cupcake liners.
2. Combine butter and stout in a medium saucepan until butter is melted.
3. Add cocoa powder and brown sugar, whisking until combined and mixture is smooth. Set aside.
4. In a new bowl, mix baking soda and flour. Add salt and sugar.
5. Combine the flour mixture with Guinness mixture and beat for one minute.
6. Add eggs and sour cream, beat for another 2 minutes until well blended and smooth.
7. Divide among the cupcake liners, bake for 14-18 minutes. Cool completely.

Ingredients for Bailey's Frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 1/4 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Steps for Frosting
1. Cream butter until smooth and fluffy. Add salt and slowly add powdered sugar. Add Bailey's and vanilla extract and blend until smooth and creamy.
2. Choose piping tip and fill baggie or tool with icing and pip on cupcakes. I chose the round tip and to just add a dollop of icing.

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Strawberry Jello Cake

I believe I've posted this recipe before but this time I made it for Valentine's Day in the shape of a heart, my mom did this while I was growing up and figured I would do it for my friends this year too! Again, this is one of my mom's recipes. Also, the cake seems to sink in the middle, but that is okay, and still just as tasty!

1 box white cake mix
1 cup oil
4 eggs
5 ounces frozen strawberries
3 ounces strawberry jello

1. Stir oil in cake mix.
2. Lightly beat the eggs and add to the cake mix.
3. Stir in 5 ounces of strawberries.
4. Mix in jello.
5. Pour into 2 cake pans.
6. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
7. Cool completely and frost with the Strawberry Frosting.

Ingredients for Strawberry Frosting
1 pound powdered sugar
1/4 pound butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 ounces strawberries
3-4 tablespoons strawberry juice, from frozen strawberries

1. Beat powdered sugar and butter together.
2. Add salt and vanilla and strawberry juice.
3. Add drained strawberries.
4. Frost cooled cake.

One thing I love about this cake and frosting is you don't need to use any food coloring to get the perfect pink shade!

Of course these can easily be made into cupcakes, as seen here.

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Strawberry Honey Butter

This is the perfect addition to bagels, croissants, or just toast! Another random Pinterest find from Half Baked Baker www.half-baked

1 pint strawberries
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1. Purée the strawberries and force the purée through a sieve into a saucepan.
2. Add the honey and lemon juice, boil the mixture, stirring, for about 3 minutes, until it is thickened. Let the strawberry mixture cool to room temperature.
3. In a bowl, cream together the butter and the strawberry mixture. Let the butter stand, covered, in a cool place for 1 hour.

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Mustard Pretzel Chicken

Love this recipe!! Found on Pinterest, I originally got this recipe from Cinnamon and Spice and Everything Nice

4 cups hard pretzel crumbs
1/2 cup Canola oil
1/2 cup coarse mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the pretzels until coarsely ground. Transfer into a shallow bowl.
2. Wipe out the food processor, mix the olive oil, Dijon mustard, water, and vinegar and pulse until mixed smoothly. Season with salt and pepper!
3. Pour half of the dressing in a shallow bowl, dredge chicken and then coat with pretzel crumbs and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until done.
4. Cut the chicken and serve warm with the rest of the dressing.
5. Pair with any vegetables, I served with corn and asparagus.

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Coca Cola Cupcakes

Something new to try, right? Not too bad of a result either! I got this recipe from

Ingredients for Cake
2 cups Coca-Cola (do not use diet)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the Coca-Cola, cocoa powder, and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add both sugar and the brown sugar and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.
4. In a small bowl whisk the eggs until just beaten, then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Batter might be lumpy, that is okay, don't overbeat.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Cool completely.

Ingredients for Frosting
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Maraschino cherries for topping

Steps for Frosting
1. Beat whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until peaks begin to form.
2. Choose your icing tip, I used the round tip for these cupcakes.
3. Top with a cherry and enjoy!

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These cupcakes are based off one of the best movies, UP! Months and months ago Loree tagged me in this pin for UPcakes, so for her 25th birthday I surprised her by making them for her, never mentioning another thing about them since she pinned it!

I made 24 mini vanilla bean cupcakes and one jumbo vanilla cupcake to complete this dessert! I found the recipe off of Pinterest but it originally comes from Gimme Some Oven,

1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds)
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream (avoid non-fat versions)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Add sugar and vanilla bean to a large bowl and beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add in cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, beat for additional 1 minute until well mixed. Add butter and mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes until well combined.
3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium until just combined.
4. Slowly add milk and beat on low until just combined. The batter will be thin.
5. Fill the cupcake liners just over 1/2 full. Bake for 14 minutes at 350 and test to see if they are done. Cool completely before frosting.

Ingredients for Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean (optional)
3-4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Steps for Frosting
1. Add the butter and beat on medium speed for 1 minute until smooth.
2. Add powdered sugar, salt, vanilla extract, the seed of a vanilla bean and about 2 tablespoons milk, beat on low speed for about a minute. Increase to medium speed and beat for an additional minute until smooth. Add an extra tablespoon or two of milk if you want a thinner frosting.

Decorating the UPcakes
1. Separate frosting into 4 different bowls and color to your choosing (I did pastels- blue, green, yellow, and pink). Save some frosting aside for the big cupcake.
2. I used a round tip for these cupcakes and decorated each of the little cupcakes, alternating the colors.
3. Frost the larger cupcake with the vanilla frosting with the round tip and use food coloring pens to draw on the house.
4. Arrange the smaller cupcakes above the larger cupcake and using your food coloring pens add some balloon strings! I used a baking sheet to make transporting easier.

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Spinach Pasta with Ricotta and Pine Nuts

Pasta, yum. Spinach, yum. Ricotta, yum! What could go wrong with this recipe? I got this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Food Everyday, Great Food Fast (yes, while most of my recipes do come from Pinterest I still have a few printed and bound cookbooks that I live by!)
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 pound spinach penne (I actually used rotini for this recipe)
1 1/2 pound baby spinach
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven, toss occasionally, 6-8 minutes. Set aside.
2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to the package directions. During the last two minutes of cooking, add the fresh spinach and continue cooking. Drain and then return the pasta and spinach to the pot.
3. Add the olive oil, season generously with salt & pepper and toss well.
4. Serve immediately, topped with ricotta, pine nuts, and Parmesan.
5. Enjoy!

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Tacky Christmas Sweater

Again, this is an untimely post but save it for December, you'll be glad you did! Our Toastmasters club has started having an annual "Tacky Sweater Party" in December and this year, I decided a themed dessert was in order!

This post is more for the decoration of the cake so I will not have recipes attached but I believe I used a simple yellow cake recipe and I know I used a cream cheese frosting, which you can find in many of my blogs (Carrot Cake Cupcakes or Red Velvet Cupcakes)!

You can design this sweater however you like, make it as tacky as you can! I chose to do red and green frosting and added edible cake decorations purchased at JoAnns, Target, or Michaels!

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This is a simple, never failing cheesecake recipe! Who doesn't love a good slice of rich cheesecake? I got this recipe from my mom and hope I can live up to it!

Ingredients for Crust
12 ounce box vanilla wafers, crushed
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Steps for the Crust
1. Mix crushed vanilla wafers and butter and press into 10 inch spring loaded pan.
2. Cover bottom and at least half the sides.

Ingredients for Filling
40 ounces cream cheese
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream

Steps for Filling
1. In a large mixing bowl cream the cream cheese.
2. Mix in sugar, flour, salt, lemon peel, and vanilla. Beat well.
3. Add in eggs, 1 at a time, beat after each egg.
4. Blend in the heavy cream.
5. Pour into the crust.
6. Bake at 500 for 10 minutes. The top of the cheesecake may get brown but as long as it is not burning that is fine.
7. Then bake at 225 for 70-80 minutes.
8. The filling will almost set. Let it cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
9. Run knife around the edge of the pan before releasing the spring.
10. You can top it with whip cream, strawberries, or a jelly of your choice.
11. Enjoy! For a Christmas treat, a birthday cake alternative, or just a random dessert!

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Chocolate cupcakes with Peppermint Swirl frosting

I have been slacking on uploading new recipes, never fear I'm back and plan to do a major upload today!

While I know these cupcakes are a little more for the "winter" season, it doesn't mean you can't plan enjoy them any time! I tend to find one cupcake flavor that I love for a season and make it for everything I do, these cupcakes were my Christmas season go-to! Lets get on to the recipe!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Swirl Frosting
I originally got this recipe from Glorious Treats and love it!!

Cake Ingredients
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1. Line muffin tin and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder,baking soda, and salt.
3. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about 1 minute.
4. Stir in boiling water (your batter will be thin, this is correct).
5. Fill liners about 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 22-24 minutes, I still turn the pan halfway through.
7. Cool completely before frosting.

Ingredients for Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter
6 oz. cream cheese
4 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Place butter in a mixing bowl and blend slightly. Add cream cheese and blend until combined.
2. Add powdered sugar, a little bit at a time,and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed until fluffy.
3. Add vanilla and peppermint extracts.
4. Slowly add cream, a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.
5. Beat about a minute, until fluffy.

Because I use a piping tool to frost I usually 1 1/2 the icing recipe, the ingredients above are the original ingredients

Before filling the piping bag or tool, take some red food coloring gel on a toothpick and drag it down two sides of the piping tool then fill with the frosting. Once you frost the cupcakes add a Hershey's peppermint kiss on top, I tend to only put the kisses on half the cupcakes in case some prefer them without. Enjoy!

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