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Recipe: Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake

I took some PTO this past week and decided I wanted to bake. I’m working on eating a healthier diet, which includes eliminating sugar, simple carbs and grains. It’s been going pretty well, but I knew it’d be difficult to stick to this while making a dessert that included salted caramel (I love almost anything with salted caramel!), pumpkin and cheesecake.

I found this recipe on Pinterest and decided to give it a shot.

I followed the recipe except for the following modifications:

  • I flopped the brown sugar and white sugar measurements; honestly, it was because I didn’t realize I was almost out of brown sugar. It didn’t affect the cheesecake at all.
  • I ground my own cinnamon from sticks, so to make sure all the sugar and spices were very fine, I put it all in the Vitamix for a little bit.
  • I cut some of the sugar in the crust … I thought the cheesecakes would be sweet enough with sugar in the crust, cheesecake and caramel.
  • I used less caramel on the tops to cut out some of the sweetness.

It turned out awesome and I did end up trying a bit of one. It’s so good! I think this will become a fall staple recipe.

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I love easy recipes and, in my opinion, this doesn’t really even “count” as a recipe because it’s so simple. But nevertheless, here is a great one I found using my Epicurious app. The recipe originated from Bon Appetit’s test kitchen. I’ve made this recipe several times in the last year and cannot believe how easy it is. If you like fried chicken, you’ll like this!

chicken

Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs (adapted from this recipe)

6 chicken thighs, bone-in with skin

Sea salt

Black pepper (freshly cracked is best, but pre-ground works too)

2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil (I used canola, but I want to see if coconut will work)
Method: Heat oven to 485 degrees with the rack in the lower-middle position. Rinse chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Generously season with salt and pepper, on both sides and under the skin (be careful not to detach skin from meat). Heat a Le Creuset Dutch-style oven pan (like one of these) on medium-high heat. Add oil and keep on heat until glossy and hot. Cook chicken skin-side down for 14 minutes. Occasionally move chicken pieces around depending on the heat of your pan and stove, ensuring each piece gets an equal amount of browning. Move pan from stove to oven and continue to cook skin-side down for another 14 minutes. Carefully flip the chicken and finish for five minutes. Remove from the oven and let it rest in the pan for five minutes. Enjoy!

 

I haven’t had a lot of time to bake as much as I like to, so tonight I decided to bake some banana bread for the family. I also wanted to bring something to the office tomorrow, so I poked around online and came across this recipe for Morning Muffins from Martha Stewart. Honestly, Martha isn’t my go-to person for recipes or ideas … nothing against her, but I just don’t have a personal preference for her stuff.

This recipe was super easy and has a lot of healthy-ish elements to it. I made some modifications to the original recipe (my adaptions are included in the recipe below).

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Morning Muffins

Makes: 12 regular-size muffins

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar (I was out of brown … and didn’t have enough agave)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped dried plums

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 large egg

1/3 cup whole milk

5 carrots, shredded

Method:

Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl. Add plums and oats. Add shredded carrots. Add liquid ingredients and gently stir, just until moistened. Scoop 1/4 cup batter into greased muffin tins. Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes.

*Note: I meant to include the banana, like Martha does, but totally forgot. Surprisingly, the muffins turned out well and aren’t too dry.

I like cooking with ground turkey meat as an alternative to beef (nothing against the cow, but it’s not my favorite type of meat). One of my original recipes I’ve tried perfecting over the past few months is a Turkey Burger with either spinach or kale.

I made these last night and love how they turned out! They’re moist, a bit spicy, quick, and best of all: made with nothing gross! Haha.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 package ground turkey breast (I used a 1.25 lb. Jenny-O brand)
  • 4-5 cups (yes, cups … packed) baby kale, minced (see note below)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or cayenne pepper)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic (fresh is best but jarred or powder work too)
  • 1 teaspoon spices (usually I toss in my own concoction, but Old Bay, Mediterranean or any general purpose MSG- and salt-free blend works)
  • 2 teaspoons oil (I like using coconut oil, but I’m out so I used canola)

Method: Mix everything together in a large bowl, except for the oil. Form into patties (you can make about 5 with this amount). Heat a skillet on medium-high heat, or until the oil is glossy. Cook the patties for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until browned and cooked through.

I prefer these just plain (no bun, cheese, etc.) with a little ketchup. They’re so easy and really, there’s nothing unhealthy about them. No grains, no sugar, no added fat (except the oil to cook them, but since ground turkey is virtually fat-free, you need something!). Try them out and let me know what you think!

**Note: For the kale, I prefer using baby kale (available in a tub at the store) instead of normal kale because there aren’t as many hard stems and you can use entire leaves. I tossed mine into the VitaMix with about 1/4 cup water and pulsed until it was minced really well (the size of chopped parsley).

I love fresh fruit … of almost every variety! Today was a super stressful, frustrating, depressing and otherwise horrible day, and I didn’t feel like cooking but needed something to eat when I got home. I decided to make a quick smoothie and I didn’t want to put any processed ingredients in it. Here is what I made … it turned out awesome! Sorry, I forgot to take pictures.

Smoothie:

  • 2 oranges, juiced (about 8 oz.)
  • 5 frozen strawberries
  • 12 frozen organic red cherries
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup fresh kale, chopped and stemmed

Whirl it all together in the VitaMix or whatever other blender you have. So simple and it doesn’t have any sugar from juices and it’s a massive amount of fruit and veggies! Enjoy.

I felt adventurous tonight while planning my weekly lunch menu, so I tried to think of something familiar and leave room for some innovation. Most people plan dinners and bring leftovers for lunch, but I’m pretty much the opposite: I love planning lunches and then eating whatever is left for dinner.

Anyway, so I knew I wanted to make something spicy and because it’s been so cold outside (super icy but not snowy … yet), I also wanted something hearty.

Here’s a recipe I came up with tonight. It’s simple, healthy, relatively fast and it turned out well (although I’ll admit, it is quite spicy)!

Usually, I try to avoid using canned products, but since I wanted something quick and easy, I gave-in and used canned (although, I did make the stock from scratch using the carcass from a Costco rotisserie chicken).  Also, I chose kale because it holds up well even after being cooked, unlike chard or spinach.

Let me know what you think!

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Spicy Chicken Sausage, Kale and Bean Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 package (4 links) Aidell’s Italian chicken sausage, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (4 oz.) chopped jalapenos, drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) tri-color beans, drained
  • 1 can (14. 5 oz) northern white beans, drained
  • 4 cups kale, roughly chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

In a Dutch oven (I use my beloved Le Creuset … well worth the money!), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.

Add the chopped onions and sweat until translucent, about 3 minutes.

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Add the chicken sausage and brown, about 5 minutes.

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Add the garlic, tomatoes, beans and jalapenos, stirring occasionally until excess liquid from the beans and tomatoes has evaporated.

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Add the chicken stock and sugar. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. After 20-30 minutes, add the chopped kale and remove from heat. Adjust the salt and pepper if needed.

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I didn’t have any, but this would go excellently with some rustic bread!

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**Note: I love the heat, so it’s not an issue, but if you can’t handle it, you can either use less jalapenos or replace it with chopped green chilies.

tHe fiCkLe piCkLe

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