Chai Spiced Coffee

I came across this recipe a year or so ago and making it is like having a session of aromatherapy. It just smells so good!

My husband would never go for a spiced coffee so I didn’t use my coffee pot. I mixed the spices with the ground coffee and then used my Keurig cups to make individual cups of coffee. Some comments left on the original pin mentioned problems with the spices actually making it through the filter. Other people were just mad that someone was blending a tea with coffee.

All I know is that it smells good and it tastes good.

What you’ll need:

1 cup ground coffee

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp ginger

What you’ll do:

Thoroughly mix the coffee and spices together.

Make your k-cup (or measure out the regular amount of coffee for your pot) and brew!

Full disclosure: when I mixed it and had the first cup the smell was nice but I expected the more flavor. I doubled the amount of spices the next time and still think I could go a little stronger and add more.

I enjoy coffee with just a bit of half and half. The addition of the spices added some lovely flavor without adding sugar and that makes me happy.

This is a wonderful cup to enjoy about mid morning when I have already had my regular coffee and just want a little something extra.

An Autumn Favorite ~ Applesauce

I will go ahead and confess right here at the beginning that I do not like applesauce. Not the kind you buy in the store anyway. But this homemade applesauce I can totally get behind! It is super easy and full of lovely fall flavor. I originally found the recipe on the back of a Juicy Juice bottle seven or eight years ago and I usually forget about it and then every couple of years remember it and dust it off and make a batch or two.

The absolute best side benefit? Your house will same utterly amazing when you cook it.

What you’ll need

6 baking apples chopped into pieces (best apples recommended for baking are Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, and the Pink Lady)

1 1/2 cups apple juice

1/2 cup dried cranberries 

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon 

What You’ll do:

Combine all ingredients into a large pot. 

Cook on high heat for about 30 minutes or until your apples are tender.

Yep, that’s it! But a couple of things to note…I don’t like super chunky applesauce so I use my potato masher to break down the larger apple pieces.

Also, I don’t exactly measure out my cranberries~I just add what looks like a good cranberry to apple ratio.

And as long as I am admitting that I don’t follow directions exactly my brown sugar probably isn’t packed down and if measured out is probably a little closer to 3/4 a cup. And if I am being completely honest I may or may not measure out the cinnamon and just sorta sprinkle it on until it looks and smells like I have added enough 🙂

Let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

**Update: I made a batch this morning with a variety of apples…granny smith, tango, and red delicious. I also added 4 TBS of butter to the chopped apples and cooked them a few minutes before adding the other ingredients. Letting it simmer on lowest heat also helped give it time to thicken nicely.

Laura Bush’s Cowboy Cookies

These are some seriously delicious cookies. They require a little extra time since they are so big and take a little longer to bake. (I used a cookie scoop although the original recipe calls for a whopping 1/4 cup of dough! They spread a bit so I found that only baking six on a sheet was ideal.)    Totally worth it though!

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What you’ll need:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar

3 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups sweetened flake coconut

2 cups chopped pecans

What you’ll do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine first five ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

Beat softened butter and both sugars until well mixed.

Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

Add in vanilla.

Gradually beat in flour mixture.

Finally, toss in all of those tasty add ins, mixing after each one. (This is a pretty stout dough so be prepared for your mixer to get a workout!)

Scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15-17 minutes.

Allow to cool as long as you can before grabbing a glass of milk and enjoying the world’s tastiest cookie!

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Homemade Pumpkin Pudding

I love homemade pudding. It’s so simple to make and so much more delicious than the box kind…even the cook and serve doesn’t taste as good. This is my go to recipe for chocolate pudding.

I also love that recipes abound that use corn starch instead of flour so it can naturally be gluten free too which is great for Sam. But I am also working really hard to get back on the sugar free band wagon and wondered how it would taste with Swerve (my preferred sugar replacement.) Aaaand, I also wanted to make a seasonal treat and use pumpkin.

Super happy to report that it was great on both counts! Had a yummy autumnal flavor and was still easy to whip up.

 

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What you’ll need:

2 TBS corn starch

6 TBS sugar (I did an even swap with Swerve)

1 3/4 milk

1 egg

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

dash of salt

dash of nutmeg (I used pumpkin pie spice)

whipped cream (I make mine from scratch and also use the Swerve Confectioner’s Sugar.)

What you’ll do:

Mix together the pumpkin and spices until well blended and set aside.

Whisk together the egg and milk and also set aside.

Whisk together the corn starch and sugar in a medium pot over medium heat.

Slowly add the egg and milk mixture to the pot, stirring continually.

Bring to a boil and cook for one minute, constantly stirring.

Gradually add the pumpkin mixture and continue to stir and cook over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove from heat and pour into serving dishes. Allow to chill and then serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

I sprinkled a little bit of cinnamon on top too.

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It is a soft serve pudding with a creamy smooth texture and good flavor.

I’m sure it would be amazing with sugar but for those of us trying to avoid that this recipe is a definite keeper!

 

 

Chicken Pot Pie

This is one of those adaptable recipes that can be a major made from scratch (ha!) delight or a take-some-short-cuts-and-it’s-still-a-delight recipes. I’ve tried making homemade pie crust and frankly I’ve found the store bought ones to be just as good. (No offense to you homemade pie crust making people…I’ve just never made one that was so significantly better that it was worth the extra time and work.) I’ve also made this with fresh vegetables as well as frozen and both work just fine.

What you’ll need:
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups boiled and shredded chicken (I use about 6 chicken tenderloins)
3 cups vegetables of your choice (I have used the frozen mixed veggies for soup and I’ve also chopped up celery & carrots and mixed them with corn and green beans.)
4 TBS butter
4 TBS flour
1/2 cup milk or half & half
Italian seasoning
double pie crust
What you’ll do:
Place one crust in the bottom of a pie plate and set aside.
Add your chicken and veggies to your broth and boil for 15 or 20 minutes.
Turn your heat down and let simmer.
In a small sauce pan melt your butter.
Add your flour, milk and Italian seasoning. (You may need to remove from heat so you do not scald your roux. It should be pretty thick.)
Add roux to the chicken and vegetables and stir until it is mixed in very well.
Pour mix into prepared pie plate. Unroll and add top pie crust, pinching sides together and cutting out small vents.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
This is probably one of my most requested recipes. It tastes delicious and seems to go far. I have made a beef and mushroom variation that is pretty yummy as well just by swapping a few ingredients. I haven’t done it yet but I’m thinking leftover turkey at Thanksgiving would obviously make a good pie too.
But the chicken pot pie? It’s just a classic staple.

Baked Summer Vegetables

Summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and russet potatoes all baked to crispy perfection on a bed of caramelized onions. Absolutely delicious!

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What you’ll need:

1 large sweet onion, sliced and sautéed to caramelized perfection with minced garlic

2 russet potatoes, sliced

1 or 2 zucchini, sliced

1 or 2 yellow squash, sliced

3 large roma tomatoes, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

Fresh Parmesan cheese

What you’ll do:

Spread your caramelized onions in the bottom of a lightly greased baking dish.

Layer the other vegetables alternately in a tight spiral on top of the onions.

Drizzle with a little olive oil, and season to taste.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

Uncover and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and continue to cook for another 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and the cheese is nicely browned.

I have never made it with any other vegetables but I have come across a few recipes that say you can use eggplant in lieu of the squash which would be interesting. And The Barefoot Contessa and Ina Garten both use Gruyère cheese instead of fresh parmesan. I bet you could even try Swiss or mozzarella cheese too!

 

 

 

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This is such a delicious recipe that is naturally gluten free. Now, I know most people who do not need to be gf are usually skeptical of desserts that lack gluten but this kind of cake has been around for hundreds of years. Actual stories of the history of flourless cakes all usually involve some sort of mistake as the reason behind it’s creation and they range from Austrian princesses to good old American gangsters being involved.

All I know is that this recipe is simple but very elegant and it taste wonderful. I’ve been making it for years now with the favored form being little individual minis. It really is a crowd pleaser but recently it got even better in my opinion.

Turns out it is still ridiculously yummy even when making it sugar free by using a sugar substitute such as Swerve. Seriously, it still taste absolutely delicious and that is a major feat for something that is both gluten free and sugar free.

What you’ll need:

1 cup regular or sugar free chocolate chips
1 stick butter
3/4 cup regular sugar or Swerve*
3 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder (again I have used regular cocoa powder and dark chocolate)
2 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee (made it with and without and it’s tasty either way)
For the ganache:
1 cup regular or sugar free chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
What you’ll do:
Preheat over to 375 degrees
Melt chocolate chips and butter until combined
Pour into a bowl and add the sugar and espresso powder if you’re using it, stirring until thoroughly mixed
Add eggs and whisk until batter is smooth
Add in cocoa powder and stir
Pour into a well greased cake pan (you may want to use parchment paper but I’ve not had any problems just using Baker’s Joy)
Bake for 20 minutes (I’ve started cooking mine for 18 minutes because I noticed my edges getting too done at the full 20 minutes.)**
While the cake is baking make your ganache by heating your heavy whipping cream and chocolate chips until smooth and well blended (be careful not to allow your cream to get too hot and keep stirring as the chocolate melts)
Let the cake cool for ten minutes and them flip it onto a plate
Pour ganache over the top and allow it to drizzle over the sides
Let the cake sit out for about 30 minutes before refrigerating for at least an hour before serving.
Try it topped with a dollop of whipped topping or garnished with fruit, you will thank me I promise.
*Swerve is the only sugar substitute I have used so it is the only one I can recommend. If you try some other kind please come back and let me know how it turned out!
**If you are making minis cut the cooking time down to ten minutes. No matter which size you are baking do not over back! The gooey goodness is part of what makes it taste so good.

 

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

So easy it’s ridiculous. It’s also a Weight Watchers recipe so bonus points for being tasty and not as bad for you as regular muffins, right?

What you’ll need:

1 box spice cake mix

1 large can pumpkin*

water

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What you’ll do:

Stir the spice cake mix with the pumpkin until well blended, adding water until it reaches a good consistency although the batter will be thick.

Spoon into a well greased muffin pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Check with a toothpick for doneness and continue cooking in five minute intervals until it comes out clean.

Allow to cool and enjoy!

I love making regular sized muffins but they are a particular fun treat in mini form. You can also trade out the spice cake for a chocolate mix but my people found the chocolate pumpkin combination not to their liking.

*The last time I made these I accidentally bought a can of pumpkin pie filling…meaning all of the spices and sugar had been added already. Which probably means it was not quite as healthy as the plain pumpkin version but man, did it taste delicious! So if you have no diet constraints go that route 🙂

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Cherry Chocolate Sheet Pan

So this isn’t a gourmet dessert by any stretch but it is pretty scrumptious, easy, and pretty. Which means it hits my trifecta of criteria and is definitely worth sharing and worth you making.

I made the chocolate cherry version a few weeks ago for our fellowship meal at church and it was gone before I could taste it and it was well received. We had a bunch of friends over on Monday and I knew I wanted to make it again but I also knew that one of my friends doesn’t like chocolate. (I know, right? Oddly enough she isn’t my only friend who feels that way.) I noodled on it a bit and made a few adjustments so that I could keep the general idea and still have something to offer for my non-chocolate loving friends.

First, because it is my favorite, the chocolate cherry version.

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What You’ll Need:

2 packages of your favorite brownie mix, prepared according to directions*

2 packages cream cheese, softened

Confectioners Sugar, to taste

heavy whipping cream

2 cans cherry pie filling

What You’ll Do:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread prepared brownie batter into a lightly greased jellyroll pan.

Bake for 15 minutes and begin to check for doneness, being careful to not over bake.

Allow to cool completely.

Cream the cream cheese until smooth and add confectioners sugar and heavy whipping cream until you reach the desired taste and consistency.

Spread on top of cooled brownie.

Add cherry pie filling, smoothing out to the edges.

That’s it! Like I said, not rocket science but seriously tasty. To make the non chocolate version I simply swapped out the brownie mix for snickerdoodle cookie mix and caramel apple pie filling for the cherry.  It was a pretty even split on Monday as to which one tasted better.

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You could use a sugar cookie bottom and goodness, how delicious would it be with a cream cheese nutella topping? Oh man, I need to make this and see if it tastes as good as it sounds!

What other ideas and combos can you think of?

*I do make some changes to the brownie recipe. I swap the water for an equal amount of milk and I also use butter instead of oil keeping the amount the same.

Also, I have made it in a 9×13 pan like regular brownies but found that the taste ratio of chocolate to cream cheese and cherry was much better with a thinner brownie base.

Sharing with Melt In Your Mouth Monday

Ritz Cracker Rolo Bites

Normally, I would consider these a holiday treat. Something quick and yummy that fits into the busy holiday schedule when kids need a little something to take for a class party.

But a couple of weeks ago we were having friends over for dinner and I had found out that Rolos were a particular favorite. So I decided to make a batch of these and man, I don’t know why I regulate them to once a year. Actually, wait, I do know.

These are delicious. And dangerous. Because you just whip them up in a few minutes and you can gobble them up in about the same amount of time. So, fair warning. Make them at your own risk. (But do make them because, like I said, delicious!)

What You’ll Need:

One bag Rolo candies, unwrapped

Ritz crackers, two for each sandwich

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What You’ll Do:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place Ritz crackers face down in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Put a Rolo candy in the center of each cracker.

Heat in the oven for 3-5 minutes or until the candy is softened but not melted.

Top them with another Ritz cracker as soon as you pull them out of the oven.

These little guys taste amazing eaten right away still warm from the oven or after the caramel goodness has cooled off a bit.

You can go here to read about the do I or don’t I dilemma I faced buying the ingredients to make this last batch.