Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Pumpkin Vanilla Sheet Cake

This may be possibly the best dessert I have made to date.

This past week was midterms, let me just say it was less than a fun week for Mariah and I and the boys. We decided to celebrate the ending of a terrible week on Thursday with dinner and some drinks. I had a midterm until 8:15, so Mariah offered to make lasagna and bring it to the boys and we could eat when I got done. This was no little dinner, more like a full blown feast. The boys made mozzarella sticks for an appetizer while they waited for me, then for the main course we of course had the lasagna and they also whipped up fried ravioli, salad and garlic bread. And plenty of wine. We all ate ourselves silly and I was nervous no one would want dessert (that I just happened to whip up that afternoon trying to waste time before my test). But, as soon as it was put on the table I don't think anyone could say no, no matter how full they were.

I'm pretty sure everyone died a little bit after their first bite.

Now, this comes from a box but after you doctor it up, you would never know.

Cinnamon Roll Pumpkin Vanilla Sheet Cake
source: Picky Palate


1 box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
3.4 ounce box Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix
1/2 cup sour cream
15 ounce can pumpkin
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream (start w 1/4 cup and add a little more cream if needed)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and spray a jelly roll pan with non stick cooking spray.
2. Place cake mix, eggs, oil, milk, pudding, sour cream and pumpkin into a stand or electric mixer, beating until well combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. Pour into prepared pan, spreading evenly.
3. Place butter into a microwave safe bowl and melt, about 30-40 seconds. Add brown sugar and cinnamon to bowl, mixing until combined. Drizzle mixture evenly over cake then take a knife and run it through to swirl.
4. Bake cake for 30-35 minutes, until cooked through and remove. Place powdered sugar and cream into a large bowl and mix until creamy and smooth. Drizzle over warm cake then let cool for 20 minutes before cutting into squares. Refrigerate if not serving same day.  Enjoy with milk!

Um. Yum. Go make this, now. You will not be disappointed. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Fun Project!

This past Thursday was Teresa's birthday so birthday festivities took place all weekend. On Saturday we went to the girl's for dinner and of course we just can't show up empty handed. We made Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese frosting (coming soon!) and since the only things that ever come out of this house seemed to be baked goods we thought of the perfect present.

Teresa isn't exactly a regular in the kitchen but she sure does love her treats so we made her chocolate chip cookie mix in a jar so all she had to do was mix up some ingredients and cookies were at her disposal.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix In A Jar
source: Nestle

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

1. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Place mixture at the bottom of a 1 quart jar. Press down firmly.
2. Layer the remainder of ingredients in order listed above. Press down firmly after a new layer is added.
3. Seal with lid and decorate with fabric and ribbon.

Directions to attach:
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Beat 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter or margarine, 1 large egg and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until blended.
3. Add cookie mix and 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional); mix well, breaking up any clumps.
4. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes I like to bake cookies at 10:30 at night. Just because . Even after Mariah tells me no because of the influx of baked goods that will be whipped up this weekend . But like it just sounded so much more inviting than my economics homework.

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies
source: Elegant Made Easy

6 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups plus 3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment or spray with non-stick spray.
2. Cream together the butter, cream cheese and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the Vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients and then add them to the butter mixture.  Beat until well combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Place a large scoop (about 2 tbsp) on the prepared cookie sheet and flatten slightly with your hand. Bake 10-12  minutes or until edges are looking light golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheets before moving to wire racks to cool completely.

And sometimes I like to eat these hot out of then oven after coming home from the gym. Opps.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grilled Chicken and Pesto Farfalle

This past Saturday I went home for to spend the day/ night with my parents (and get my laundry done, and order the new iPhone under my mother's observation). It was a perfect morning for a drive home and even more perfect 80 degree and sunny afternoon for pumpkin picking at Powers Farm Market and wandering the streets of the village at the Scarecrow Festival.

And of course, what trip home is complete without a home cooked meal? We had Rachael Ray's Basic Risotto which we always add shrimp and scallops. Possibly my favorite meal of all time. I remember growing up having risotto with mushrooms at my grandma's house and smoothing the mound of yellow rice perfectly around the plate into a flat surface and cutting out squares at a time until it was all gone. Making risotto is a group effort at home, it takes myself, daddy and momma to make. My dad and I handle the risotto and momma bear prepares the seafood. Served with Garlic Tuscan bread and you've got yourself one of the tastiest meals you can dream of, in 30 minutes!

Every time I go home I make sure I stop at my next door neighbors for a visit because I just adore them. And love sharing all my crazy college stories with Mr. and Mrs. And seeing my favorite boys. It's too ironic that 7 years ago I was sitting in a desk in Mr.'s classroom being asked 7th grade Social Studies questions and now I sit at his kitchen table being asked what my drink of choice is when I'm out. While we were talking, Mrs. was telling me she didn't understand how I planned our meals out and knew what to cook, it's not my job I'm not married with kids yet! Thing is, I love figuring out just what we're going to have and searching the Internet or cooking magazines for what we're going to have.

Pasta is definitely a huge hit in our apartment because of the ease and how versatile it is, this is one of our favorites we have. We forget just how good it was until we bit into it for the first time since last semester.

Grilled Chicken and Pesto Farfalle
source: Cooking Light September 2008
serves: 10 (we cut ours in half and had left overs!)

1 3/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
Cooking Spray
20 ounces uncooked farfalle (bow ties!)
1 tablespoon butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups milk, divided (we used skim)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3.5 oz (about 1/3 cup) pesto (homemade preferably!)
3/4 cup half and half
2 cups shredded fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
4 cups halved grape tomatoes (2 pints)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
2. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 10 minutes or until done, turning after 6 minutes. Remove from grill; let stand 5 minutes. Cut chicken into 1/2 inch pieces; keep warm.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Place pasta in a large bowl.
4. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine 1/2 cup milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in pesto. Gradually add remaining 1 cup of milk and half-and-half, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 8 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1 cup cheese; stir until cheese melts.
5. Add chicken and sauce to pasta, tossing well to coat. Add tomatoes and basil; toss gently. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

I've talked about how much I love fall before, but I just don't want it to ever end. We can skip winter and head straight into spring for all I care. Even though it feels like we've gone back to summer with 80 degree temperatures the past few days, which I'm not complaining about one bit.

I went home Saturday and wanted to bake some Organically Hip cookies to bring home to my parents to try so I whipped up the Dark Chocolate Chip and Cowgirl Cookie mixes. But, I didn't stop there. I had a few hours to kill before meeting the boys for dinner so I decided to whip up some treats to bring to their house, as promised. I'm not sure if we've showed up at their house sans treats this year. Spoiled, spoiled boys let me tell you! I guess that makes up for us showing up at their door with our duffel bags packed full of multiple outfit choices, hair straighteners and make up to get ready at their house on Thursday before going out.

Pumpkin is just so good. And chocolate? I could eat the whole thing of whatever it is. I had made these Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars two weeks ago and they were a hit so when I saw them with pumpkin added I knew I had to try them, and who better to be the taste tester than our trusty boys?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
source: Two Peas and Their Pod

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 bag (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Add pumpkin puree and mix well. The mixture will look somewhat curdled. Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake bars for 25-30 minutes or until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.
4. Make sure you cool bars completely in pan before cutting. It's to tempting to just dig in but it's crucial you wait!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Catching Up

Is it really possible we are in week 6 of the first semester? Almost at the half way point. Scary. Slow down time. So much has happened in the past 6 weeks, I can only imagine what's going to come.

Here's a quick run down..

Move in time!!
My room looked like this for a great while, because let's face it I started packing in July. Just kidding. But not really.

We were reunited and life we complete.

I turned 20...Al visited! And I had a quarter life crisis, oh and the countdown to the home stretch of 21 is on.

We signed a lease for our house next year!! Look at this gem..

And, here's the biggest news of all.. if you're still with me.. well big news times two...

Numero uno..I am now a blogger for What The Health Magazine which is a health magazine that "delivers the latest buzz on fitness, nutrition and wellness to keep SU students in top shape."

Here, follow them on Twitter, @WTHOnline
and like them on Facebook, here
and last but not least, read my blog posts Fridays!!!

And for the biggest news of all...Friday I got some very exciting news.. I am now the "director of social media" for Organically Hip. Yay internship! Double yay it's at a company that produces organic baked goods. Hello, could this not be any more perfect for me??

Click here to learn all about the company.

Now go like it on Facebook, here
and Twitter, @organicallyhip
and the blog, yours truly is now an author, here

and go tell all your friends. because who doesn't love themselves some cookies?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

White Chili

 I have been a major slacker. Don't worry we've still been cooking and baking up a storm, hello number one procrastination tool, but I've just been a busy little bee, about to get busier. (more about that to come!)

This may be one of my all time favorites. Especially with the weather getting colder (like see your breath cold Saturday night) soups, stews and chili will become a big part of our diet.

We had this last year and it's a perfect week night meal because it's quick and hearty and full of flavor.

White Chili
source: Cooking Light, September 2008

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
5 teaspoons green hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons stone-ground cornmeal
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup plain fat free yogurt
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

1. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to pan; cook 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Add broth, hot pepper sauce, salt and chicken to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove chicken from broth mixture; cool.
2. Add cornmeal and beans to broth mixture, stirring with a whisk; simmer 15 minutes. Mash about 1/4 cup beans against side of pan. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add chicken to pan; simmer 5 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring frequently.
3. Top each serving with yogurt; sprinkle with green onions.