“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~ Albert Camus

Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin!!!

When did the world become so pumpkin obsessed??

Didn’t it start with Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, now know as the PSL?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not knocking it. Not at all. I’m sitting right in the middle of that bandwagon.

I think a lot of it has to do with how much more people seem to enjoy and want to celebrate the fall season. I say more power to them! I love the fall and I’m glad it is getting the recognition it deserves!

So here is my contribution to the pumpkin craze.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Caramel Drizzle

(adapted from Chef in Training)

For the cake:

  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 (15 oz). can pumpkin
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the drizzle:

  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin and sour cream in a large mixing bowl. Add flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt and stir in to combine. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan.

Bake for around 50 minutes at 350 degrees F. Test it with a wooden pick to see if it comes out clean. Invert cake onto a cooling rack.

For the Caramel Drizzle:

Heat milk and brown sugar in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from stove and add butter and vanilla. Cool for five minutes and drizzle over cooled cake.

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-abp

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“Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.” ~ Jules Renard

I love Chicken and Dumplings.

I made them homemade from scratch, once.

And that will probably be the only time.

Don’t get me wrong they were fantastic and no, the shortcut versions will never be a good but if I ever want to have them again anytime soon – it will have to be a shortcut version.

Or I can go to Cracker Barrel.

This is very, very good alternative and it’s made in the crockpot to boot!

Lazy Day Chicken n’ Dumplings

(adapted from All Things Delicious)

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2  (10.5 oz.) cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
  • 1/2 onion, diced OR you can use 2 Tbsp. dried, diced onion (I used fresh)
  • 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 4 Grands flaky refrigerator biscuits

Place chicken in crockpot and plop the butter on top of the chicken.  Add cream of chicken soup and chicken broth.  Followed by onion and parsley.  Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-9 hours.  After the chicken is cooked, shred it and put it back into the soup. Cut each biscuit into 9 pieces.  Gently stir biscuits into soup.  Cook for another 45 minutes on low.

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I definitely recommend this shortcut recipe for those lazy fall days that are perfect for comfort food! Granted, it doesn’t look like traditional Chicken n’ Dumplings but it sure does taste like them!

-abp

 

“I’m a maniacal perfectionist.” ~ Martha Stewart

I am very impressed with people who can put dinner on the table and every single bit be homemade, every single time.

I can do it and have done it but I have found that if you really want to try and cook at home most weeknights, you have to take shortcuts or you will burn out.

I have gotten to the point that if I have cooked the main dish, I don’t feel too bad if I heat up a can of green beans or corn to go with it.

Or both.

Don’t judge. I never claimed to be Martha Stewart. 🙂

Here is one of those “I only have a short amount of time and a short amount of energy” dinners.

A main dish and canned veggies.

Baked Honey Mustard Chicken Tenders

  • 1/4 cup of grainy, coarse mustard
  • 1/4 cup smooth dijion mustard
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 of a small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken tenderloins
  • salt and pepper
  • 4-5 small sprigs of fresh rosemary, divided

In a small bowl, combine the mustards, honey, and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil.

In a sauté pan or cast iron skillet, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.

Add the onion and the leaves of one rosemary sprig and sauté over medium heat until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 1 – 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Transfer the onion and garlic to an oven safe dish (or if the saute pan you used is oven safe, you can just use it). Place the chicken on top of onion/garlic mixture. Salt and pepper the tops of the chicken to taste.

Pour the honey mustard mixture on top of the chicken. Arrange the rosemary sprigs around the chicken in the pan.

Bake the chicken covered at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. Then remove the cover, baste the chicken with the sauce, and continue to cook for an additional 20 – 30 minutes uncovered, or until the chicken is browned on top and cooked through.

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This was really so very good!! It was actually much better than I even expected it to be!! The flavors were fabulous and the chicken was incredibly tender. It will most definitely go on the weeknight rotation.

2 side notes:

1. The sauce was so good that I would omit the canned corn and add a bag of “boil in the bag” (keepin’ it simple) rice, then serve the chicken and the sauce on top of it.

2. I LOVE rosemary so I would never leave it out but if you are not a fan or do not have it on hand, this recipe could easily be made without it and it would be your basic Honey Mustard Chicken but still delicious!

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

-abp

“To me, my recipes are priceless.” ~ Colonel Sanders

Since I have now been on an almost year long quest to loose the baby weight, most of the recipes that would normally catch my eye while skimming Pinterest, magazines, cookbooks etc. have fallen to the wayside.

Those recipes being anything with the word creamy, creamier, and creamiest in the title.

Now, while perusing for new recipes, I refuse to click on them or I just keep flipping the page.

Although, last week, while flipping through the latest Cooking Light Magazine, I came across the recipe – Creamy Pork Chops and Mushrooms.

Wait a minute.

Those two things (Cooking Light and creamy) normally do not go together.

I was intrigued.

So, I gave it a whirl.

I’m very glad I did! These flavors were wonderful together and yes, I got to have a guilt free creamy dish!

Creamy Pork Chops and Mushrooms

(adapted from Cooking Light)

  • 1 cup unseasoned long-grain and wild rice blend
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut loin pork chops
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 12 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (or any mushroom blend that is not white button mushrooms)
  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used dried because I had it)
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  1. Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.
  2. While rice cooks, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork chops with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chops to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add rosemary, mushrooms, and onion to pan; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle mushrooms with flour; toss to coat. Stir in vinegar and chicken stock, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Return pork chops and any accumulated juices to pan. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.
  4. Stir almonds, parsley, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper into rice. Arrange pork chops on a serving platter. Simmer sauce, uncovered, 2 additional ­minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in sour cream. Serve pork chops with mushroom sauce and rice.

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My husband raved over this.  He said it was restaurant worthy. That always makes me smile. 🙂

-abp

“I would have been in bed an hour ago, if only I could find the bottom of this Pinterest page….” ~ unknown

I love Halloween! I think it is the most fun Holiday other than Christmas. The retail world has caught on to this as well and OH! the fun things you can find to make and to decorate!!

And Pinterest has taken it to the next level.

It makes my head spin.

But today, I am just going to do a Halloween classic. You can never go wrong with a classic. 🙂

Caramel Apples

  • 50 pieces of caramel, unwrapped
  • 4 popsicle sticks
  • 4 medium sized apples
  • 2 Tablespoons of evaporated milk

Wash and dry apples and insert popsicle stick into the core of each apple.

Place caramel and evaporated milk into a 1 quart microwavable bowl. Microwave on high, stirring frequently until smooth. (around 3 minutes)

Dip apples in caramel mixture and use a spoon to help coat.

Place on waxed paper until caramel sets.

The fun part is you can do a number of different things with your apples. You can roll them in nuts, crushed cookies, etc while the caramel is still wet or you can do like I did and decorate after the caramel has set.

So much fun and so easy!!

CA

The great thing about these are how versatile they can be. I know they are traditionally Halloween items but you can decorate them to suit any occasion.  They also bag up well and make great gifts!

bagsHappy Fall Y’all!

-abp