Pumpkin Bars

pumpkinbars2I love this time of year, pumpkin EVERYTHING, in any form. It’s so wonderful in everything you put it in, how can we only use it (in a social/seasonally acceptable fashion) only two months out of the year? TELL ME WHY?!

I’m going to have to just give up Pumpkin Pie completely, because these are just absolutely ridiculous-my tighter jeans said so. I literally can’t not eat more than three at a time. I didn’t even attempt to make these healthy, but I’ll give it another go soon to cut out some of the sugar and go easier on the frosting, so stay tuned.

I’m an absolute freak, for making things harder on myself than should be. Taking something to a potluck or gathering for instance. I almost always pick something to bring that is ridiculously labor intensive (individual or bite size servings in large quantities), or something that needs to be piping hot, or appropriately chilled to be served at best. Why do I do this, why?! I’m trying to learn my lesson, and not cause so much un-needed food stress. (woe-is-me-right?)

Well here is the answer to every single one of those problems. These bars are easy, quick to bake, easy to frost, and they can be chilled or at room temp. What could make these better, but cream cheese frosting?! Yep, it’s got that too. Cream cheese frosting in any instance is great at locking in the moisture of the cake/bars.
Cream Cheese Frosting two-part awesome factor-
1. Cream cheese is dense, when you pair that with locking these up air tight, it makes your bars last so much longer, locking in all that moisture.
2. When you chill bars, whether same day, or as leftovers (because it’s dairy, fridge it!) and then serve them again later, as they come to room temp, some of the cream cheese starts soaking in to the bars. Extra yum factor.

This was my first jelly roll pan (12×17) experience. Love it, will do again! I wanted them more bar-like than cake-like (9×13) in a rectangular cake pan, bars are so much easier to get out of jelly roll pan than a cake pan! But either is great, so just use whatever you have on hand, or prefer. I feel like in my jelly roll pan I can eat more, stretching it out! Course…I’m not supposed to eat the whole pan alone- I’m pretty much doing that.

I LOVE November, December, and everything holiday, and I HATE eating moderately these two months. It is absolutely zero fun. So in honor of kicking off Thanksgiving week, lots of football, Family and Friendsgiving’s, eating till you explode and excessive amounts of wine, let’s celebrate with a basic pumpkin bar recipe. There really isn’t a lot of variation of them floating around, unless you start adding in different ingredients. Sometimes it’s better to just stick with keeping it simple, and not over-complicating what’s already great! (Isn’t that true in life sometimes too?)

**I can’t wait to re-post my healthier version in a couple weeks! Enjoy!! (I am…still)

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 15oz can of Libby’s Pumpkin
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup veg or canola oil

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
1/2 nutmeg
3 tsp cinnamon

7 oz. cream cheese, softened– I know, you can use the whole package, I just think it makes it too much frosting, people tend to start scraping it off
5 tbsp. of butter, softened
1 tbsp. milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 C powdered sugar

1. Add in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
2. Whisk together oil, eggs, sugar and pumpkin.
3. Pour into a greased (buttered, floured. Or, sprayed, then floured) 12 x 17 jelly roll pan or 9 x 13 cake pan.
4. Bake at 350 for 24 minutes in the jelly roll pan (35 minutes in the 9×13). Make sure when you remove from the oven to set it on a wire rack or something that allows air flow to the bottom of the pan.

Cream all ingredients until smooth. Add the powdered sugar in 4 sessions slow so it doesn’t explode all over your kitchen.
Wait about 20 minutes or until cooled to frost.pumpkinbars1

Red Potato Pork Chops


I’ve been on a break-but I’m back, I’m back!! Just in time for fall, and just in time for EVERYTHING PUMPKIN. This is prep-post. It’s not about pumpkin, I promise but it is pretty fall-worthy. So while I work you up with a fall dinner dish, be prepared to have an overkill of pumpkin because

1. I LOVE it
2. It’s October
3. It’s fall (they’re different, promise)
4. It’s acca-mazing 5. Because real people dig pumpkin

That was your warning, so here is a post to let that Pumpkin-Info settle in, before I drown you in it. In the meantime, let’s discuss this recipe, because it’s delicious- and you want another of reasons why…right?!

1.Red Potatoes: awesome
2. Cutlets: sign me up
3. One pan bake that isn’t really a casserole: stop why you’re doing, YES.
I’m on a list binge today–stay with me
Casseroles are good, but they’re super hard to photograph (amateur alert) and they are really hard to heat up without being a bowl of mush afterwards. This one, which I’m not calling a casserole because
1. I hate that word
2. It reheats like a charm
3. This doesn’t have rice or pasta in it
soooooo…..you’re carb-ly welcome.

I’m not gonna lie, this did take some time to prep, it’s not a quick meal to table deal. It probably took 1 1/2 hours start to finish…but wine was involved so the focus was…in my glass. I should really be a guest host on My Drunk Kitchen.
It’s worth the time, or at least a bottle of wine to put together 🙂 We’ll definitely be adding this into a regular rotation!  Great for a Sunday night dinner because of the prep time or even a partial prep the night before for a quick Monday family meal! Because this recipe is swap out friendly, swap the pork cutlets for chicken or even cube-steak if you want!

As always feel free to remove or substitute any part you choose to customize it to your family-


Red Potato Pork Chop Bake
Serves 4

4 butterfly pork chops, cut in half (to make 8)
1/4 Greek Yogurt
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Ginger
1/8 s/p each to season
2 tbsp of veg oil to fry
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
7 small red potatoes, cut into very thin slices (use a mandolin if you have one)
1/2 yellow or white onion, VERY thinly sliced, then cut the rings in half
1 small can of mushrooms and stems
1 tbsp of butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup + 3/4 can of water (**sub in Cream of Chicken if you’re not a mushroom fan**)
1 cup broccoli florets
2 handfuls of shredded Mozzarella
Parsley to Garnish

1. Trim your pork (or chicken if needed) then slice in half. Whisk your Greek Yogurt and marinate along with you salt/pepper, ginger, and cumin. Let this marinate while you prep the rest. Can marinate up to 24 hours if you want to prep ahead of time.
2. Thinly slice half an onion into rings, then cut in half and soak in water for 5 minutes. This will remove the onion bite.
3. Next very thinly slice your red potatoes.
Preheat oven to 375
4. In a saute pan, with 1 tbsp of butter on medium high heat, cook your onion and mushrooms for 15 minutes(I added 1 tsp of sugar at the end to caramelize).
5. In a 8×10 or 9×13 size casserole dish, line the bottom with a thin layer of red potatoes, don’t overlap too much, you just want it to cover the bottom.
6. Your mushrooms/onions should be translucent and fragrant by now, remove them from the pan onto a plate. Keep the saute pan on medium high heat and add 2 tbsp of oil, or enough to cover the bottom.
7. While oil is heating, take your pork/chicken cutlets and dredge them until coated in your flour. Brown each side for about 2 minutes (they will continue to cook while baking. Place browned cutlets on top of the red potato base in your dish.
8. Scatter your broccoli next across the dish along with the mushroom/onion mixture.
*Add 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes for a kick here if you wish.
9. Place remaining red potato slices over the dish on top of all the ingredients. (I threw several tbsp of Greek Yogurt in with this too, because I love it!)
10. Whisk water and cream of mushroom/chicken together and then pour evenly across the dish.
11. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Top with Parsley to garnish.redpotatocutlets3

Cookie Crust Apple Pie

10534641_10152209099321148_2236412238399488515_n (1)Apple and cherry, are my favorite pies ever. Simple, not too sweet when done right. The perfect texture of soft fruit with a crunch of crust! Every time I make a pie, I search out a new recipe. Fruit pie fillings are pretty consistent for the most part without a lot of change. When you’re trying to stay true to a classic pie, you aren’t thinking of anything crazy or over the top, just really great taste and texture. Pie recipe searching…no more!! At least for the crust anyways. I can’t imagine how amazing this would be with a vanilla pudding pie!

Pie crust. Ugh. Something everyone struggles with at some point, and something that everyone has their preference on. Thin, thick, flaky, pre-baked, ect. Well I found a new one…a new, absolutely, awesome, new one. It’s basically an oatmeal cookie for a crust, with the same cookie streusel topping. Like, seriously. Apple Pie Cookie.

Best part of this recipe…you don’t have to pre-make your crust, no rolling, shaping, or messing with dough. Fool-proof!! I just love it. For those who don’t like baking, or think they can’t, it’s easy, quick, and time-to-table in less than an hour. Even a great last-minute dessert! What more do you want, cookies with your pie? Wait- it’s that too.

I wish I could take all the credit for this recipe, but…I can’t. I first viewed then adapted this recipe from Six Sisters: The Best Dutch Apple Pie. Please try this, share it with your friends…then dump ice cream over the top!


Cookie Crust Apple Pie

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup oats (I used quick oats)

2/3 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cups cold water
4 apples, diced in 1 inch cubes (I used Braeburn)
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Combine flour, brown sugar, butter, and oats. Measure out 1 1/4 cup of the mixture and set aside to use as topping.
3. Press remaining crumb mixture into a 9” ungreased pie pan. I used my right10659223_10152209129346148_4091321112804247363_n (1) hand to press, and my left hand as a guide to push the crust up against to make an event line on the rim working the crust up the sides.
4. In a saucepan over medium high heat, mix together the sugar, cornstarch and water until smooth. Stir continuously while bringing to a boil for about a minute or thickened. This will happen very quickly!
5. Remove pan from heat and stir in the diced apples, cinnamon, and vanilla.
6. Dump covered apples into the pie pan and top with the reserved crumb mixture.
7. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the streusel on top starts to turn golden brown.

Chicken and Kale Wrap with Buffalo Dipping Sauce

chickenkalewrapIf you’re from Nebraska, you go to Amigo’s, and it’s not because they have amazing Mexican Fast Food. You go because you would give your first born child for their ranch.
A great wrap is similar, the secret is in the dipping sauce!! You can make the most simple combination of ingredient, but if you have that dipping sauce, that’s where you bring it home!

Most people go to a casual dinning restaurant or a bar and get a burger, right? Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re great, but wraps have always had this pull on me I can’t resist, which is the first place I look on any menu. IIt makes me feel about getting something…sorta healthy…until…I slather it ranch or some other form of heaven in small cup they’ve placed on my plate. Now that I can bathe it in sodium, empty calories, fat, and preservatives, I feel better. I don’t care, it’s my splurge, so I order fries for  my side too instead of cottage cheese. I’m gonna dip those fries in ranch too. Shut up, I’m weak. Don’t act like you don’t. It’s amazing. (Periodically throughout the meal I’m telling myself ” I work out, I deserve this)

I love working out, it’s a hobby, it’s a passion. You know what else I love? Pizza, burgers, ranch, cheesecake, cookies, chocolate, french fries, mozzarella sticks, tortilla chips. This is my life.  Although  i don’t splurge a lot, and when I do, I almost always regret it, or feel like a waste of space afterwards…BUT,I love every second I’m dipping my pizza in ranch and stuffing it into my face too.

Anyways, now that I’ve dumped that out. Healthy things! 🙂 As much as I love everything I listed above, they actually make me feel horrible afterwards, or the next day. If I carb load anymore after 4pm, I feel it for the next two days, not awesome. This is why I’ve taken one of my favorite guilty bar-food pleasures and turned it into something quick, easy, and healthy at home.

As always, feel free to substitute or remove certain ingredients.If you don’t want to plan this meal ahead, just ditch the yellow squash. Grilling your chicken is also a great and quick way to get these to the table!
These can be as simple or as complicated as you want. The secret weapon here, maybe to your surprise, isn’t the sauce, it’s throwing them on the stove top to seal the wrap and to melt everything cohesively together along with giving your tortilla the perfect crunch! Wrap it up.wrapsauce

Chicken and Kale Wrap with Buffalo Sauce
Yield: 4 wraps

4 Flat Wraps, or tortillas
2 pieces of boneless chicken, sliced in half the long-way to make them thinner
1/2 cup balsamic salad dressing
2 tbsp of lemon
2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 small yellow squash, peeled, seeds removed, sliced into even 1″ pieces
1 red onion diced
1 cup of kale, chopped
shredded cheese as desired per wrap (I used a small palmful of mozzarella per)
fresh basil (extra addition if you have some in your garden, 1 tbsp)

***At least 2 hours prior, or the day before is fine too
1.Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
2. Peel, scoop out seeds, and chop yellow squash. Season lightly with salt and pepper and 1 tbsp oil.
3. Spread onto baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Toss the squash, leave in the oven, but turn the oven off after the 20 minutes. (or grill these too!)
You want your squash to be in the oven for about an hour with the oven off. This will cook them firm without overcooking, and they won’t be mushy,
4. Slice the two pieces of chicken into four, the add the balsamic, lemon, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Cover and marinate in fridge until you’re ready to cook.

*** READY!
5. Preheat heat to 425 degrees (or fire up the grill, and grill your chicken!)
6. Bake your chicken for 20 minutes or until done
7. While chicken is baking, chop your kale, basil, onions, and whip together your buffalo dipping sauce.

8. Arrange your kale and basil (optional) and onions on the wrap leaving a 1-2″ gap at one end.
9. Then add your chicken. I do chicken here, because your other ingredients are loose and the meat helps hold it in place.
10. Now your cheese, add as much as you want, make sure the inch gap you left now as a little cheese at the end too, this will help seal the wrap together and not come apart.
11. Roll it up!
12. Heat up a skillet on medium-high. Sear 4 sides of your wrap (sealed side first), for about 30 seconds each side. You’ll get beautiful golden-brown sear marks as it crisps up. Feel free to omit this portion if you’re in a hurry or just want it cold!

Buffalo Dipping Sauce
1 cup of plain Greek Yogurt
4 tbsp of Wing Sauce
** I like mine spicy, and very buffalo–y. You can also start with less, add one tbsp at a time until you get a desired flavor.

1. Whisk together ingredients, then divvy out 1/4 cup to each person on the side, or you can spread the dip in the wrap if you’re not a dipper.


Chocolate Chip Banana Zucchini, Muffins

chocbanzucchiniI think as you grow into an adult,  you have this non-understanding of how you didn’t like certain foods as a kid. Mine is definitely zucchini. Grilled, baked, saute’, mashed, shredded. I’m in, both feet…feed me. What makes zucchini better? Match it up with a banana, or blueberries (yes, seriously, grill them with blueberries, it’ll change your life)

I have done Chocolate Zucchini Bread before, and its one of my favorite summer recipes…but there is also something to say for the convenience of a muffin for grab and go… or… chopped up and mixed in with your yogurt in the morning. (gotta get that protein in right?!) 🙂

They’re light, they’re fluffy, they contain very little sugar, no butter…no oil. I mean really. I love them, my Dad loves them, you will love them.
If you’re making these for people who claim they don’t like zucchini, or have texture issues…do what I do. Process your zucchini in a food processor, until it’s completely mushy. This gets rid of the shreds of zucchini without taking anything away from the muffins. The most comments I get on my zucchini recipes, is from people that claim they dislike zucchini. You can’t taste it. As long as it’s not shredded, there can’t be texture issues. In fact, the last time I made a zucchini snack, I intentionally handed them to people I knew didn’t like zucchini, but that loved muffins. They had no idea, and were instantly. Also a great way to sneak something in healthy for your kids.
Sometimes, secrets make friends…full.

I haven’t tried to sub in applesauce for sugar yet, but please feel free to and comment how they turn out! I have preached this time and time again, but you can’t taste the yogurt, if you think you can (crazy) then sub in sour cream. It will just add more flavor and give them the same great fluffy, texture!

Chocolate Chip Banana Zucchini Muffins Yield 15 muffins
Slightly adapted from Peanut Butter and Peppers

1 banana, mashed
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup plain Greek Yogurt, or sour cream
1 cup zucchini, shredded
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup milk + 1 tbsp
1 1/2 cups flour, unpacked
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
1. Cut the ends off, and peel a small zucchini (1 cup is usually a smaller zucchini). Chop into cubes and toss in your food processor or chopper. I used to ground mine with a cheese grater which often led to me cutting myself until I got a processor. I over-process mine until it looks mushy. Then I transfer it to a fine strainer, squeeze as much water out as I can, and let it sit for about 20 minutes to dry out a bit. Fluffing occasionally.
2. Line your tin with paper liners, and give them a light spray of non-stick oil.
3. In a bowl, mix banana, sugar and egg with a fork or whisk until somewhat smooth.
4. In the same bowl, add yogurt, zucchini, vanilla and cinnamon until combined. Stir in milk with a spatula.
5. In another bowl, mix flour baking soda, baking powder, and salt with a fork or a whisk. Then, add it to the wet batter, mixing gently with a spatula. Just before it’s combined, add in your chocolate chips. This will help you to not over mix. AKA, don’t over mix/work the ingredients!
6. Fill tins just bellow full. Bake in oven for 14 minutes, test with a toothpick.I remove my muffins from the pan right away and set on a cooling rack so they don’t continue to cook in the pan.

Let cool almost completely and you won’t have a problem peeling off the paper!choczucmuf2


Bacon-Eggy Cups

baconeggysSo these quick bite, travel-friendly, pop-and-go, egg-delicious bites have been floating around the internet for a while now. Clearly I’m not the inventor, but I do believe I’ve customized a new version I haven’t seen anywhere else. After scouring the interwebs for far longer than I will confess here, I found several different combinations, tips, and guidelines…giving me this wonderful recipe! Although simple, they do take a little time to put together, but a Sunday night is perfect for this, and it makes several, which will give you lots of servings for the week!

I made two sets for a test, I wasn’t sure how easily the eggs alone would hold up, even in the muffin tins. I love baked eggs, and being familiar with them, no matter how much you grease them, or how long you whip them, they’re hard to take out of the dish (which is why you use a pretty cassoulet, and leave it in!) and they deflate quickly. Some suggest putting muffin liners in to keep from sticking to the pan, but they still stick. I find if you have something of a base, these will pop-out of your muffin-tin effortlessly, and best of all, no scrapping!

Because my special person loves hash-browns…ding-ding! That’s what I used. You can use the shredded if you want, HOWEVER, if you’re looking to save some effort and time, if you buy the pre-made frozen patties, you can put them on the same grate as your bacon in the oven and they can partial cook at the same time. This will save you from dirtying another dish as well…my favorite. The shredded frozen is cheaper, but they do need to be partially cooked before becoming the base of these morning delights.

Although I love adding all kinds of different ingredients and flavors into my eggs, I kept it really simple this time. Bacon is so flavorful, as long as you add the right amount of salt and pepper, the eggs and bacon will speak for themselves! BUT… if you do want a little something-something… Buy the jarred jalapenos, if you toss a few of those in, make sure you add in just a little of the juice as well!! Or kale. I love chopped kale!


6 eggs
8 slices of bacon
3 hash-brown patties
1 full handful (or about 1/2-3/4 cup) of shredded cheese of your choice
1/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder

Full size muffin tins, not the mini’s

1. Preheat oven to 425
2. Place a metal cooking rack ontop of a large baking sheet lined with tin foil. Line your bacon on the rack leaving enough room on one side for the hash-browns. Using the tin foil will allow you to wrap up all that grease for easy cleanup. My stove is electric. I can cook bacon faster, in larger quantities, and more easily in the oven! Bake for 12-15 minutes. You want the bacon to be almost cooked, but not too much or it will break when you wrap it in the muffin-tins.
3. While the hash-browns and bacon are in the oven, whisk the remaining ingredients in a bowl, and spray your tins with non-stick spray.
4. When the bacon is finished, dab it with a paper towel on each side to remove the grease. Then cut the rectangle patties into thirds. This will be the base.
5. Place your third of hash-brown in the tin, press down a bit to make sure it covers the bottom. Then take your bacon and wrap it around the edge of tin (I cut the extra off so it didn’t overlap, and set them aside for my morning sandwich!), try to get it along the outside of the hash-brown base. Take a 1/4 cup, and under-fill it a little and use this as measurement for your egg mixture, you want the tins to be 3/4 full.
6. Bake for 25 minutes. I took a knife while it was still hot and scrapped around the edges, then just a large spoon to remove them. Let them cool completely before you store them in your fridge.

Re-heat for 1 minute in the microwave.

Baked Apple Dutch Baby

dutchbaby3I have been eyeing Dutch Baby recipes for well over a year, but have had yet to test one out until this morning. One thing that always drove me away from these is the 20 minute bake time…which is silly that, that was the only thing scaring me away. Bacon, waffles, pancakes, french toast take just as long, so what was the big deal, I’m a fool.

I was able to skim down the recipe to make just a single portion, which was awesome, because the only thing that should ever be allowed to re-heat in the breakfast department is a casserole or french toast.  Have you ever tried to microwave a pancake or a waffle….no where near the same. Albeit, if you’re going to…here’s a tip. Use the toaster. Seriously.dutchbaby1

A Dutch Baby, German Pancake, or Puff Pancake is a cooked in a cast-iron pan, if fluffs up as you bake it, and then when you take it out, it will deflate. It’s an interactive presentation,so if you have kids, it’s a great way to get them involved in the process so they can see it change forms…and let them add their favorite toppings! Traditionally served with cinnamon or lemon, I of course decided swerve off the beaten path. I began by baking some apples with lemon, cinnamon, and sugar, the perfect topping, along with a fried egg of course. I think round two is going to have to involve toasted almonds!


Baked Apple, Dutch Baby

1 small apple, peeled and sliced
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
dash of cinnamon

1 egg
heaping 1/4 cup of flour
pinch of salt
1 tbsp of sugar
1/4 cup milk (this will depend on your flour as well, you want it to be a runny batter, start with less milk if you need to)
1/8 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cinnamon

1. Peel a small apple, and slice into thin pieces.
2. In a small bowl combine apples, 1 tsp of sugar, 2 tsp of lemon juice, and a dash of cinnamon, mix well
3. Put apples on a pan lined with parchment paper and set aside.
4. Combine all ingredients in the batter together, bring it together gently, but you don’t want any air bubbles either. You want the batter to rest for a few minutes, preheat your oven to 400 degrees while you wait.
5. In your single serving cast iron (6″) melt 1 tbsp of butter (on medium), you want the pan to be hot.
6. Pour your batter into your hot cast-iron and place in the oven for 18-20 minutes on a rack in the middle, place the apples on your cooking sheet on the rack below.
7. When finished it should start to puff and the center shouldn’t look doughy, looking golden.
8. Take out of the oven, you can leave in the cast-iron if you wish, I slid my onto a plate, topped with my baked apples, a dash of syrup, and sprinkle of powdered sugar. Oh…and a fried egg, duh.dutchbaby4