Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Pumpkin Chip Vanilla Pudding Cookies

These cookies are little festive pillows of happiness!

No, seriously. I could honestly take a nap on one of these cookies. They are irresistibly soft and bursting with pumpkin flavor.

When I first saw these Toll House Pumpkin Spice Chips at the grocery store, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I HAD to have them. I didn't know exactly what I was going to do with them, but I had no idea it would be this delicious.

These Pumpkin Chip Vanilla Pudding Cookies are made with all the best things that we need in a cookie, plus a few extra special ingredients that kick the flavor up a notch. We start with a whole stick of butter, because duh, and a bit of pumpkin puree because it is October after all and if your pantry isn't packed with cans of pumpkin then how are we even friends? These get beaten together with both granulated sugar and brown sugar until smooth and creamy.

Note: if your butter is not super soft, this mixture may look a little curdled when you start mixing it...don't panic. Everything is fine. Keep going and trust the process.

To the butter, pumpkin, sugar mixture, we will add some eggs and the ultimate secret ingredient -- a package of vanilla pudding mix! If you have never made pudding cookies, I'm here to blow. your. mind. Adding a package of pudding mix to cookie batter adds a burst of flavor and also keeps your cookies soft and fresh for days and days!

To finish up the batter, we will mix together our dry ingredients. which includes a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg of course to bring out the flavor of the pumpkin, and combine wet and dry. Lastly, the pièce de résistance, those pumpkin spice chips! Delightfully bright orange in color, sweet, and packed with warming spices and a subtle pumpkin flavor. Oh gosh. My mouth is watering just thinking about these cookies, they are truly that good!

I actually LOVE these cookies straight out of the fridge - when they are chilled, they become a bit chewy and the flavors really develop...mmm, ok. I need to go make another batch of these! Don't miss this recipe!!

P.S. I am realizing now that these aren't the most beautifully styled photos, but that's because when I was taking these pictures my husband was up on our roof for the first time ever taking down a satellite dish so I was a little stressed...believe me, though - THEY. ARE. TASTY!!

Here's what you need for Pumpkin Chip Vanilla Pudding Cookies* (Print Recipe!)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3.4 oz. package vanilla pudding mix
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pumpkin spice chips

Here's what you do

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter, pumpkin puree, and the sugars. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the pudding mix, eggs and vanilla extract, beating until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.

Stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to mix the pumpkin chips into the batter. Scoop the batter onto the baking sheet using a large cookie scoop, keeping about an inch between each cookie. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until the cookies are set but not yet starting to brown on the bottom. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Cookies will last well-wrapped on the counter for 4 days or in the fridge up to a week.

*Pudding cookie recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Monday, October 9, 2017

Fall Drink and Snack Pairings with SkinnyPop!

There is nothing quite like autumn in New England!

Well, except this year, when autumn in New England means extreme humidity and mid-summer temperatures...

Then again, that hasn't stopped me from setting out mums and pumpkins on the front porch, going apple picking, and enjoying as many fall drinks and baked goods as possible!

As for everyday snacking, my husband and I always have a bag or two of different SkinnyPop popcorn in our pantry for munching on no matter what time of day it is. My favorite flavors are Sea Salt & Pepper and Aged White Cheddar. SkinnyPop popcorn is full of flavor and incredibly satisfying while still being a light snack you can feel good about all day long.

No matter what fall drink you love, SkinnyPop has a drink and snack pairing that you'll be enjoying straight through Thanksgiving and beyond! These five fall-inspired drinks make my mouth water, and I am even more excited that SkinnyPop has paired each drink with the perfect flavor of popcorn!

I am most excited to mix up a batch of Autumn Pear Mojitos to serve alongside SkinnyPop's Sea Salt & Pepper popcorn. Pears add a slightly sweet and autumn-inspired twist to a classic mojito, and you can really pump up the flavor by adding a pinch of cinnamon to the muddled pears and mint. The refreshing cocktail will quench your thirst while also bringing out the flavor of the pepper - a win-win!

Be sure to pin this post so you can always have delicious cocktails to pair with your favorite popcorn flavors! Enjoy responsibly :-)

Monday, September 25, 2017

Crockpot Turkey Sweet Potato Chili

It's 80 degrees in the middle of September, but soon enough Fall will be here for good and we will need as many Crockpot recipes as we can get our hands on. And I have a real keeper here!

This Crockpot Turkey Sweet Potato Chili is a deliciously lightened-up version of an old classic. It cooks low and slow all day long so that when you get home, you are greeted by a big pot of happiness and your home is guaranteed to smell of amazing fall flavors!

We will start by browning a diced onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil - and honestly, is there any better way to start a dish? Lean ground turkey joins the party next until it's cooked and crumbled, and that's all we need to do before throwing everything into our slow cookers. Dreamy, right?

Along with our turkey we need, not surprisingly, a peeled and diced sweet potato to join the Crockpot party. Diced tomatoes, tomato paste, black beans, white beans, and chopped bell peppers are very necessary. To keep the chili interesting, spice things up with the classics--a bunch of chili powder, paprika, cumin, red pepper flakes and oregano--plus a few dashes of something a little different--cinnamon! Trust!

What do I love about this chili? Well, it's easy. Super duper easy as any Crockpot meal should be. The turkey and sweet potatoes become incredibly tender and just melt in your mouth. The chili spices along with the cinnamon and tomato paste are warming and comforting. Extra bonus: this recipe freezes beautifully so you can make a batch ahead of time and store it in an airtight container for a day when you need a tasty meal in a hurry.

It may still be hot outside, but this chili is going to keep you warm and happy on the inside. So let's break out those slow cookers and get cookin'!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Ginger Mojitos

I think Monday is as good a day as any to talk about a new cocktail. I see no reason why a drink this refreshing has to wait until Thirsty Thursday, on account of I'm thirsty right now.

Today, we are talking about Ginger Mojitos. Doesn't that just sound so right!? Ginger and mint and lime often find themselves together in Thai cuisine, so the pairing already makes perfect sense.

The base of these mojitos is a ginger simple syrup (we've done that before: see here), ginger liqueur, and all the basics of a mojito, particularly loads of lime juice and fresh mint (in my case, straight from the garden because that's just how adults do).  As with any mojito, these are best enjoyed super cold, so I whipped them up first in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice then served in high ball glasses with even more ice. They are easy to guzzle and even easier to enjoy.

An infused simple syrup is incredibly--yes, I'm going to say it--simple to make. All you need is one cup of sugar, one cup of water, and whatever you want to infuse it with! In this case, that includes a knob of ginger, peeled and minced. The spicy ginger compliments the sweetness of the syrup plus the natural sweetness of the mint. A little tang from freshly squeezed lime juice, and please, please be sure it's freshly squeezed, and the perfect cocktail is born!

Cheers to Monday!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Zucchini Bread

I know what they're saying. Summer is almost over. Back to school is in full swing. I ate pumpkin spice Cheerios with pumpkin spice coffee for breakfast. I had a pumpkin beer yesterday.

But this recipe cannot wait until next summer. There's still plenty of zucchini at the farmers market and grocery store. Even if it isn't the prettiest zucchini, it will still make an AMAZING loaf of Zucchini Bread.

This bread is so simple to make, but it is certain to impress. Loaded with zucchini, cinnamon and sweet vanilla extract, it's everything you could want whether it's for breakfast, a snack, or dessert. In my mind, zucchini bread is banana bread's far superior cousin. The zucchini is not nearly as heavy as banana, both in texture and in flavor, and thanks to the extra water in the summer squash this bread stays fresh and moist for days and days!

I can promise you that wherever you take this bread, everyone will be begging for the recipe! Might I recommend it for your Labor Day barbecues or to bring as a thank you for your next overnight host?

After making this bread many, many times, I have a few tips for you to make this as delicious as possible!

- This bread requires quite a bit of zucchini, so I find a food processor with the grater blade is the fastest and most efficient way to grate it.
- I have used the small grate and the large grate, and although the flavor is just wonderful either way, I prefer the texture of the finer grate.
- I like to make this in one big 10 inch/1.5 pound loaf pan. This requires a little extra cook time depending on your oven. Another alternative would be to cook this up in 2 smaller (8.5 inch) loaf pans instead. Be sure to check the done-ness about 10 minutes sooner to ensure the edges don't get overcooked.
- To remove as much excess moisture as possible, sprinkle the grated zucchini with a pinch of salt and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Using 2 paper towels, press out as much water as possible and drain.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I have your new favorite dinner recipe, right here!

There's no oven involved (but we do get to break out our slow cookers!), every bite is packed with flavor and texture, and this recipe is so super simple! It's a win/win/win.

These Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps are bursting with sweet. sour, and spicy Asian flavors. It's like drippy teriyaki chicken meets fresh and crunchy spring rolls, all tucked together in a piece of fresh, tender bib lettuce. They are light yet satisfying - a perfect summer meal or appetizer! Let's walk through it all...

It all starts with the most unbelievable teriyaki chicken, which we whip up with very little thought thanks to our Crockpots. It starts with chicken breasts and chopped onions layered in the bottom of the pot, doused in an amazing teriyaki marinade. The marinade is quite simple and packed with tasty ingredients you probably already have on hand - teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, lime juice, garlic and ginger. After 4 to 5 hours cooking on high, we simply shred up the chicken, thicken the sauce with a bit of cornstarch, and pile it high on our wraps!

Besides the lettuce, I love adding a handful of vermicelli rice noodles to each leaf of lettuce. The rice noodles soak up the glorious sauce from the chicken and give the whole dish a little more oomph. To finish up, we just need a few simple fixin's. I'm partial to cilantro leaves, sesame seeds, and a squirt or two of sriracha.

Now, this dish...sure, it's a little messy. Your fingers are going to get sticky and you may get teriyaki sauce all over your face. But trust me - for a dish this delicious, it's worth it!

Monday, July 10, 2017

5-ingredient Mocha Latte Popsicles

Summertime and the living's easy.

And hot. It's very hot.

Now, I admit. I am not one who knows how to deal with the heat well. I don't like being hot, I hate the feeling of being sweaty and uncomfortable. I also hate bugs. I am just so pleasant to be around this time of year!

To help with my aforementioned issues with summer in general, I made us super-simple, super-refreshing, creamy and energizing popsicles! They are 5-ingredient Mocha Latte Popsicles to be exact, and I just love them so much! Homemade popsicles are the best way to keep cool in this summer heat, with seemingly endless tasty combinations to make. Plus - absolutely NO cooking is hot oven, no open flames on the stovetop, thank goodness!

The base of this recipe is a can of that magical ingredient called sweetened condensed milk. If you've ever made key lime pie, you've likely encountered this luxuriously decadent liquid. Nothing can compare to it. It'll add just the right amount of sweetness and creaminess we need to replicate the "latte" portion of this popsicle. Next, we will whisk, whisk, whisk some good, old fashioned chocolate syrup into a cup of strongly brewed coffee...that's the "mocha"! Do you see where I'm going with this?

So, there's sweetened condensed milk, coffee, and chocolate syrup...that's 3 ingredients. To tie everything together, we will add a bit of milk and some pure vanilla extract for a gourmet touch. That's right, that's all you need for this beautiful pops! I'm going to guess you probably have everything you need stashed away in your pantry or fridge, so what are you waiting for? It's popsicle time!