Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Chili

Judging by what I've seen on Pinterest and in my blog reader lately, it seems that chili is a traditional meal for many families on Halloween. In our house, that isn't the case. We usually order pizza or get Chinese take-out before heading out for trick-or-treating. Tonight is no exception; I'll be picking up sesame chicken and crab rangoon for us to enjoy before Joe and I and our little Luigi and Firefighter Will head out in the dreary, cold, rainy weather.

But I thought today would be the perfect opportunity to share this chili recipe. It's loaded with orange sweet potatoes and black beans, so it's perfect for Halloween. I made it over the weekend, when I'd originally planned to make sweet potato and black bean tostadas (which are still on my list to try); but then I found ground chicken on discount at the grocery store for 99 cents, and Joe mentioned that he was craving chili -- so this recipe was born.

This chili is absolutely fantastic -- spicy and just slightly sweet. And it's pretty healthy, too! If you have seasonal beer or hard cider on hand, use that to deglaze the pan (Joe only had one Oktoberfest beer left in the fridge, so I decided to save it for him to drink, but it would've been delicious in this chili). We topped our bowls with chopped avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, crispy tortilla strips, and a squirt of lime juice. Absolutely delicious!

Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Chili

3 tablespoons butter
1 red onion, choppped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground chicken
2 cups chicken stock
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can diced chili-ready tomatoes, undrained
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
Generous pinch of cinnamon (about 1/4 teaspoon)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can black beans, drained
Shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, tortilla chips, and lime wedges for serving

1. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion and sweet potato, season with salt and pepper to taste, and saute until onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add ground chicken and stir to combine, stirring occasionally until the chicken is cooked through. Add about 1/2 cup of the chicken stock (or beer, or hard cider) and use a wooden spoon to release the browned bits at the bottom of the pot.

2. Add the rest of the chicken stock, all of the tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Heat to bubbling then reduce heat and simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes, up to as long as you want. About 10 minutes before serving, add the beans. Ladle into bowls and garnish as desired.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Reese's Pieces Oatmeal Cookies

I had to be sneaky about making these cookies. You see, my husband has a Reese's Pieces Problem -- the problem being that, if we have them in our house, they make their way into his mouth at lightning speed. I knew if I wanted to have any Reese's Pieces available for these cookies, I had to keep them hidden from him, or avoid purchasing them until right before I baked the cookies. I just made it; mere moments after I'd stirred them into the batter, he was in the kitchen saying, "Hey, are those Reese's Pieces?" Then he proceeded to eat what was left in the bag (well, all except for one little handful I kept for myself). It was a close, close call.

We were both glad he didn't get to them before I made these cookies, because we would have missed out on an absolutely delicious sweet treat. These cookies are awesome! They were a huge hit with all of us and disappeared more quickly than I'd like to admit. The color makes them perfect for fall, but the flavor is one that we will be enjoying year-round (as long as I can keep Joe away from the star ingredient).

Reese's Pieces Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from MD Cooks for 2

1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup Reese's Pieces
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Mix flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

3. In a medium bowl, beat butter with sugar until smooth. Then whisk in the egg and vanilla.

4. Incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry mix until completely combined. Stir in Reese's Pieces and chocolate chips.

5. Drop about 2 tablespoons of dough per cookie onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

6. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Let cool five minutes on baking sheets, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October Re-Make Re-Cap

You've probably noticed that I stopped posting my weekly meal plans. I'm definitely still planning meals, but I haven't posted the menu plans because they kind of take a lot of time that, frankly, I don't really have these days. I figure that if I make something and like it, you'll find out about it eventually anyway, right?

But as for the recipes on my meal plans that I've already made...well, I thought it might be fun to start doing a monthly round-up of those recipes. I think it's a good way to share some of my family's favorites that I make all the time, as well as to give all of you some inspiration for your own meal plans! So here are the recipes I re-made during October:

Maple brown sugar muffins and apple cinnamon cream cheese muffins: I made both of these muffins for the boys' snack days at preschool/daycare. The maple brown sugar muffins are our family's absolute favorites, and I have the recipe practically memorized. But when I started to make them this time, I realized I didn't have any eggs. A quick Google search revealed this handy tip: If you're out of eggs, you can replace each egg in a recipe with 1 tablespoon of corn starch dissolved in 3 tablespoons of water. I tried it, and the muffins were delicious -- no discernible difference in taste or texture.

Three cheese baked meatball subs: This recipe makes a ton of meatballs, so if you make it once you'll have at least two dinners. I just pulled a portion out of the freezer for an easy and delicious dinner one weeknight.

Butter-baked chicken: I still swear by this recipe as the best bone-in chicken I've ever made at home. This time I served it with fried potatoes and some simple buttered corn. I've also used this breading for boneless chicken tenders, which is also delicious.

Spicy sausage dip: I've made this dip every Saturday since the beginning of football season. It's Joe's favorite football snack, and I just absolutely love this stuff too. Last week when I made it, I told Joe that it's probably what I'd request for my last meal. I...don't think I was lying.

Cheesy chicken broccoli bake: I usually serve this over white or brown rice, because when you mix it all together it tastes just like cheesy broccoli rice casserole. We love this meal.

Chicken noodle soup with homemade egg noodles: Soup weather is back, and I celebrated its return with big bowls of this soup. Ever since I started making homemade egg noodles, I just can't go back to store-bought. They really don't take much time at all, and the flavor is so superior.

Joe's favorite meatballs: Joe requests these frequently (probably because they are his favorite, right?). This time we had them over cheese ravioli. (The meatballs are too spicy for the boys, so I set aside some of the sauce for them before I add the meatballs back in.)

Cheesy sausage penne: There are no words to describe how delicious this meal is. The recipe makes a ton, but this is a pasta dish that we are happy to eat for days and days.

Crock pot pork roast with potatoes and carrots: Everybody needs a roast recipe like this in their back pocket. We use the leftover pork for pulled pork sandwiches or carnitas.

Fried pickles: I made these (minus the burgers) during one of Ohio State's recent night games. I just love fried pickles, and I can't believe I've been missing out on them my entire life. I wish I started making them years ago.

Creamed chicken over biscuits: My favorite comfort food -- and one that reminds me of my mama. That's probably why it's my favorite. :) Not only is this delicious, but it's also ready in about 15 minutes.

Pumpkin crunch coffee cake: I made this cake last weekend for a breakfast with friends before apple-picking. I love that the recipe makes two cakes. The topping is seriously TDF.

Pretzel ranch chicken tenders: Three ingredients, and the best chicken tenders you've ever had. I learned a hard lesson this time around: One package of chicken tenders is no longer enough for my family. My growing boys were not happy when we ran out of tenders! Going forward, I'll have to make two packages.

Creamy butternut squash soup: We had this for dinner last night, and it is just so simple and delicious. I served it with smoked gouda bacon grilled cheese sandwiches, and I'll be sharing that recipe with you soon, because HOLY YUM.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fried Egg Tostadas with Bacon-Black Bean Mash

This is one of my favorites out of the new recipes I've tried recently. I mean, come on: bacon and black beans mashed together with chipotles in adobo, topped with melted cheese, a fried egg with a soft yolk, and creamy avocado, all on top of a crispy corn tortilla? There is nothing not to love about that combination.

The bacon and chipotle in adobo gives these such a delicious smoky flavor, which pairs perfeclty with the cool and creamy avocado. And then there's that egg, with its silky yolk pouring down over the rest of the ingredients, coating the entire tostada with its delicious eggy flavor. Seriously. So. Good.

Fried Egg Tostadas with Bacon-Black Bean Mash
adapted from Ezra Pound Cake

4 slices bacon, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 to 1 tablespoon chopped chipotles in adobo (depending on how spicy you want it)
1/4 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
6 small corn tortillas
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter
6 eggs
1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
1 avocado, pitted, thinly sliced, and generously tossed with lime juice

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon to desired crispness. Remove to a paper towel to drain and discard all but about 1/2 tablespoon of the bacon grease. Add the green onions to the same skillet and saute until slightly softened. Add the beans, cumin, and chipotles in adobo and mash the beans lightly with a fork (you don't want them complete mashed; leave some texture). Add 1/4 cup of water and the sour cream and stir until fully combined, then add the bacon back to the skillet. Taste for seasoning and season with salt and pepper as needed. Turn off the heat and keep covered until ready to serve.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray both sides of the tortillas with cooking spray. Bake in the preheated oven for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and crispy. Remove from oven and set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook eggs to desired doneness.

4. Top each tortilla with about 1/4 cup of the black bean mixture and a sprinkling of cheese. Then add 1 egg to each tortilla and top with sliced avocado.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

It's been a few months since I made this dinner, but I remember that night vividly. It was a Sunday, and right at around 4:30 (when I usually start making dinner), there was a knock at the door. It was a vaccuum saleswoman, and she wanted to come in and clean our floors. I told her that we (obviously) had wood floors, but then she asked to clean our rug. And then, the kicker: "Please, I just have to do one more cleaning today, and then I can go home." Well, then. Okay.

I didn't expect her to take an hour. The entire time, my boys were playing with her equipment and begging to use it and asking her to explain, in great detail, what each piece did. I'm pretty sure she regretted her decision to knock on our door at that point, and I was definitely regretting my decision to let her in. There's nothing like watching a pound of dirt being sucked up from the rug that you JUST VACUUMED to make you feel like a horrible housekeeper.

Thankfully, this horrible housekeeper can still put a delicious dinner on the table. Although it definitely made it to the table later than usual, this casserole was fantastic. It was really simple to prepare and was hearty and filling -- the perfect thing to make me forget all about my dirty rug.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole
slightly adapted from Pillsbury

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
1 3/4 cups marinara sauce
3 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 can refrigerated garlic breadsticks
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 375 degeres. In 12x8-inch (2-quart) ceramic or glass baking dish, arrange chicken and season with salt and pepper. Pour marinara sauce over top to coat chicken. Sprinkle with basil and mozzarella cheese.

2. In a small bowl, stir together melted butter and Italian seasoning.

3. Separate dough into 8 breadsticks.  Cut each breadstick into 1-inch pieces and dip dough into melted butter mixture. Arrange pieces over mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over dough.

4. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut and cheese melted and bubbly.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread with Pecan Streusel

Earlier this fall, in an effort to get the most out of our favorite season, my husband and I made a "Fall Bucket List" for our family -- a list of about 20 things we want to do before winter descends upon us. The list has entries like "Rake the leaves and jump in the leaf pile" (check!), "Read 15 fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving books" (in progress), and "Drink pumpkin beer" (adults only, of course, and trust me, that was THE FIRST ITEM Joe and I checked off).

One of the items on the list is about fall baking: Bake an apple pie, a really good loaf of pumpkin bread, and one scary Halloween treat. The apple pie will most likely be happening next weekend, since we're going apple picking on Sunday (another item on the list). The Halloween treat is happening this weekend, and the pumpkin bread happened this past weekend.

I have a pumpkin bread recipe that I really like, but this time around I wanted to make something special: one that included both a cream cheese layer and a streusel topping (most recipes, including my go-to, have neither, or just one or the other). Andrew and I baked this bread on Sunday morning while Joe and Will slept in, and Andrew helped me every step of the way. He even swirled the cream cheese mixture into the pumpkin batter, and he was quite enthusiastic about it -- which is why you can only see a little bit of the cream cheese layer, as the rest got mixed into the pumpkin batter. But it didn't make this bread any less delicious, and I am so happy that he loves being in the kitchen with me so much.

This bread is pumpkin perfection, and it should be on everyone's fall bucket list!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread with Pecan Streusel
adapted from Hungry Couple

For the streusel:

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the cream cheese layer:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the pumpkin batter:

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. To make the streusel topping, combine the flour, sugars, pecans, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add butter and mix until completely combined. Set aside.

2. To make the cream cheese layer, blend the ingredients with a hand mixer, stand mixer or food processor until thoroughly combined and free of lumps. Set aside.

3. Make the bread dough by combining together the butter, sugar, egg, milk, vanilla and pumpkin and mix until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, spice and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir just until combined.

4. Pour half the bread batter into a greased loaf pan, add the cream cheese mixture and swirl into the bread batter with a knife. Top with the remaining bread batter and sprinkle on the streusel topping.

5. Bake for about 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then gently remove from loaf pan. We enjoyed it served warm.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Recipe Rewind(ish): Creamy Spinach Parmesan Pasta with Chicken

One of the best things about having posted nearly 1000 (!!!) unique recipes in the past four and a half years is that I'm constantly coming across things that we loved that I haven't made for a really long time. This is one of those meals. Since today is National Pasta Day, it seems like the perfect day to revisit one of the best pastas I've ever made.

There is nothing complicated about this pasta; it's actually one of the simplest pastas I've ever made, but the flavor is just so phenomenal. Garlic, cream, parmesan cheese and a hint of nutmeg make a truly luxurious sauce for the pasta. I made a few changes to the recipe this time around: I used minced garlic rather than garlic powder, I chose a short pasta with lines to soak up the sauce, and I topped the pasta with slices of pan-roasted chicken. My changes just served to make this taste even better, and this is surely a meal that I'll make for my family over and over again.

Creamy Spinach Parmesan Pasta with Chicken
adapted from On Top of Spaghetti... by Johanne Killeen and George Germon

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 pound penne pasta
8 cups firmly packed baby spinach leaves, washed and trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese
Salt to taste

1. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook, turning once, until cooked through. Remove to a plate, cover with foil, and keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Stir in a generous amount of salt and drop in the pasta. After a minute or two, add the spinach a handful at a time so the water doesn't lose its boil at any time. Cook, stirring often, until al dente.

3. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cream, nutmeg, and white pepper. Bring it to a boil, but don't let it reduce. Add salt to taste.

4. Drain the pasta and spinach in a collander, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Over low heat, stir the pasta into the cream mixture along with most of the parmesan cheese (save the rest for passing at the table or garnishing). If the noodles absorb too much cream, add pasta water, a tablespoon at a time, until you have the consistency of heavy cream, with each serving having a puddle in the bottom of the bowl.

5. Slice chicken and portion onto each individual serving. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Italian Sub Bites

I think we've all been in the position of being invited to a last-minute gathering. "It was spur-of-the-moment," the host says cheerfully. "Just bring a side!" Which is all well and good...unless you have two sons, a weekend that is already jam-packed, and haven't had a chance to go to the grocery store yet -- and no time to do it anytime soon. That exact thing happened to me recently, and these Italian sub bites were my solution. I brought together bits and pieces of what I had on hand and made them into one really delicious appetizer.

These little bites are easily customizable with whatever you have on hand. I could see using turkey, bacon, and cheddar cheese to turn them into club sandwich bites. These were simple, delicious, and a huge hit with everyone who tried them -- and as a bonus, I felt pretty satisfied with myself for making them up on the fly. :)

Italian Sub Bites

1 sleeve buttery crackers, like Ritz
1/2 cup chopped pepperoni
1/2 cup chopped salami
1/2 cup chopped ham
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Arrange the crackers on a baking sheet. Top each cracker with some of the pepperoni, salami, and ham, then add a sprinkling of cheese.

3. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the meat mixture is warmed through. Serve warm.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Broccoli with Cajun Garlic Butter

I know I promised you this recipe yesterday, and I didn't deliver. And I know that you kept refreshing the site all day, waiting for this broccoli recipe, getting angrier and angrier when it didn't appear. Because I know that vegetable side dishes are just that important to you.

I'm kidding of course. I doubt broccoli is that important to you. I mean, broccoli is broccoli is broccoli, right? I'm constantly on the look-out for new vegetable recipes, though, because simple steamed veggies can obviously get a bit boring after a while. My boys could eat steamed vegetables with a little bit of butter and salt every single day, but sometimes Joe and I need a little bit more flavor.

I think the method that I used for this broccoli is a real winner, and that it will work with all kinds of seasoning blends and many different vegetables. This method uses basic steamed broccoli, but when the broccoli is finished steaming, it's coated with a combination of melted butter, garlic, and Cajun seasoning. You could change up the seasoning blend by using any dried herb, Italian seasoning, Greek seasoning, lemon pepper...the list goes on and on. It adds a ton of flavor to a simple steamed vegetable, taking it from ordinary to extraordinary!

Broccoli with Cajun Garlic Butter

1 bag frozen steam-in-a-bag broccoli (or 2 heads broccoli, chopped into florets and steamed without salt)
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1. While the broccoli is steaming, heat the butter in a small skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and continue to cook over low heat until fragrant. Add the Cajun seasoning and stir until it's fully incorporated.

2. Place the broccoli in a large bowl and pour the warm butter mixture over it, tossing gently to combine. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cajun Ranch Chicken Sandwiches

Oh man, was this sandwich ever delicious. I already knew that Cajun flavors and ranch dressing were a delicious combination thanks to this pasta, and I was eager to try the combo again using one of my favorite vehicles: the sandwich! I generously seasoned chicken breasts with Cajun seasoning, cooked 'em up, then topped the sandwiches with Swiss cheese, bacon, and a generous drizzle of ranch. To up the ranch flavor even more, you could add some powdered ranch seasoning to the chicken breasts.

I made three sandwiches and, after devouring two, Joe told me, "I wish you'd made another one of these, because I could definitely have eaten a third." I glowed with the compliment, but what I didn't tell him was that, if I'd made another one, he'd have had to fight me for it -- because I could have certainly eaten two! Therefore, the recipe below is for four sandwiches. :)

On Wednesday I'll tell you about the simple, delicious broccoli I made to go with these sandwiches.

Cajun Ranch Chicken Sandwiches

4 strips of bacon, halved
4 boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets, pounded thin
Cajun or creole seasoning
4 slices Swiss cheese
Ranch dressing
4 sandwich buns, split and toasted

1. Add the bacon to a large skillet and cook over medium heat to desired crispness. Remove to paper towels to drain.

2. Season chicken generously with Cajun seasoning. In the same skillet you used for the bacon, cook the chicken until browned and cooked through.

3. To serve, place chicken on the bottom half of a bun and top with a slice of Swiss cheese, two pieces of bacon, and a drizzle of ranch dressing.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Brownie Batter Dip

I don't know if there's anything more adorable than the idea of a group of preschoolers having a tailgate party. I mean, a bunch of four-year-olds dressed in their team's colors, eating tailgating food? The cuteness of that is off the charts!

Andrew's class had a tailgating party recently, and by the time I made my way to the sign-up sheet, all of the spots for specific items (fruit, cheese, yogurt, juice boxes, etc.) were already filled. But that was more than okay with me! I placed Andrew's name on one of the "other" lines and immediately began to brainstorm what I'd make.

There are obviously lots of football-shaped food ideas out there, but given his class's food allergies and my own time limitations, I wanted something very simple. I finally decided on brownie batter dip with various dippers, since I knew that would be a big hit with the kids. To make it even more festive, I served it in an oval-shaped dish and piped football laces down the center with white decorating frosting.

Not only is the presentation adorable, but this dip is also absolutely delicious. It is so addictive, and really does taste like brownie batter (minus the raw eggs, of course). The kids seemed to like it best with graham crackers, but I preferred it with salty pretzels to balance out the sweetness. It's both a blessing and a curse that I brought home leftovers from Andrew's preschool. This dip is perfect for tailgaters of any age!

Brownie Batter Dip
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, plus more for a stiffer consistency, if needed
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-4 tablespoons milk
Pretzels, strawberries, graham crackers, animal crackers, etc. for dipping

1. In a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer, mix together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar. Mix well.

2. Add the flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, vanilla and 2 tablespoons milk. Mix until fluffy and smooth. Add additional powdered sugar and/or milk, if needed, until desired consistency is reached. The dip should be soft enough to easily dip a pretzel in (without breaking the pretzel!) but not so soft that it spreads out instead of holding its shape.

3. To make it tailgate-themed, serve in an oval dish and pipe football laces down the center with white frosting.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Sugar Frosting

I'm getting a late start on my pumpkin baking this year. Joe's been dropping not-so-subtle hints for about a month now, but we've been so busy on the weekends that I haven't had much time to bake. I have to say that I picked a real winner for my inaugural fall 2012 pumpkin recipe. These little cookies have just the right amount of pumpkin and spice flavor, and the frosting is simply divine. Oh, that's so delicious, there really are no words. It tastes like a praline, minus the pecans; and in fact, next time I make these, I'm going to stir pecans into half of the frosting, because I think they'd add a delicious crunchy element to these cookies.

I used a half-tablespoon measuring spoon for the cookies to keep them pretty small, because I suspected that the frosting would be very sweet -- and I was right. I thought the cookies were the perfect size to be paired with such a sweet frosting, and I got about 5 dozen cookies out of one batch of dough. That was on Sunday, and I think there are probably only 2 dozen cookies left. Whoops!

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Sugar Frosting
adapted from Your Homebased Mom

For the cookies:

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream together sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix until well-blended. Drop by half-tablespoons onto nonstick cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Cool completely before frosting.

3. To make the frosting, melt the butter in a small skillet. Add brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is mostly smooth (this will take 2 or 3 minutes). Add milk and vanilla and whisk to combine, then remove from heat and add powdered sugar. Spread frosting over cooled cookies.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pesto Chicken Crescent Pockets

When I first saw this recipe, I'm not too proud to admit that I squealed with joy. You know how much I love stuffing things inside crescent rolls, right? I think this fact is fairly obvious if you've read this blog for any length of time. It should also be apparent by now how much I love pesto, so a recipe combining those two things was right up my alley.

These remind me a lot of the chicken pillows I made last year, but in this case, the crescent rolls are coated with crushed croutons rather than breadcrumbs. I loved the crushed croutons, because they made the coating so crunchy. I didn't serve these with a sauce (the filling is creamy enough) but you could always warm up some marinara if you wanted to. I kept the filling pretty simple (just pesto, chicken, cream cheese, mozzarella, and seasonings), but artichokes or sun-dried tomatoes would be great additions if you're so inclined. These are simple, delicious, and flavorful, and customizable in a bunch of different ways. I'll definitely be making them again.

Pesto Chicken Crescent Pockets
adapted from Chew Nibble Nosh

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
2 cups cooked cubed chicken
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 packages refrigerated crescent rolls
1 1/2 cups croutons, any variety, crushed
1 stick butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a bowl, combine cream cheese, pesto, chicken, shredded mozzarella, and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Unroll the tubes of crescent roll dough and separate into 8 rectangles, pressing the perforated seams to seal in the middle. Spoon some of the chicken mixture into the middle of each rectangle.

4. Bring up the corners of the dough over the scoop of chicken, pressing to seal. Press to seal the seams on the sides of the bundle as well.

5. Dip each bundle in butter, then dredge them in the crushed croutons. Place them on a nonstick cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.