Chewy Pumpkin Pie Granola Squares

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I first felt the crispness of Fall just a few days ago when I let our 3 puppies out first thing in the morning and it was pretty chilly. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been whipping up pumpkin and Fall recipes for over a month now. But this week is when I felt like it was “okay” to start making Fall treats.

I’ve been trying to get in the habit of snacking between meals so I don’t stuff my face come dinner time. Which is why I bring to you this delightful pumpkin treat in the form of a bar today. It’s like autumn in a cute, edible square!

Chewy Pumpkin Pie Granola Squares
Makes 12 squares

1.5 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oats, flour, flaxseed, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add pumpkin puree, butter, honey, and vanilla extract. Once combined, fold in the chopped pecans. Press dough into a 9×13 baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool before cutting.

We’ve Moved!

Thanks so much to all my followers that have joined me in this journey for the past few months. It’s been absolutely amazing, and more than I could hope for!

Thanks to all you lovelies, I have expanded, and moved my site elsewhere! You’ll be able to get all the posts that have already been published as well as tons of new recipes and ideas over here!

Thanks so much for your continued support and I can’t wait to see you over there!

Salted Espresso Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Chocolate Peppermint Frosting

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These are a labor of love. I made them three times before they were right. Seriously. Three times.

They started out like this:

Embarrassing, I know. It didn’t stop me from tasting them, though.

Luckily, when I made the final batch they were like a party in my mouth. Thank goodness. So, it was totally worth spending 24 straight hours in the kitchen.

Salted Espresso Devil’s Food Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso salt (if you don’t have this, you can just use a mixture of instant coffee grinds and salt)
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar (do not pack firmly)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with liners and spray with non-stick spray. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and espresso salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Once combined, add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and water until all has been used. Sprinkle sea salt on top and mix until just combined. Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Chocolate Peppermint Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon espresso salt
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
2 tablespoons milk

Beat butter until it becomes fluffy. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate and add the cocoa powder to it, stirring to combine. Add about 1 cup of the confectioner’s sugar to the butter, as well as the chocolate mixture, peppermint extract, and espresso salt. Continue to mix. Add the rest of the confectioner’s sugar in small portions, alternating with the milk. Mix until blended well and smooth.

Butternut Squash and Pear Medley

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Let me tell you a little something about me. I am obsessed with yellow squash. Literally, obsessed. So, you can imagine my heartbreak when yellow squash goes out of season.

Let me tell you something else about me. I have never cooked any other type of squash. Until last night. I have to admit I’ve always been scared of the large butternut squashes I’ve passed in the grocery store. I never even though twice about buying one and trying it. They just aren’t the cute little petite squashes I love so much.

I was feeling adventurous during my last grocery outing, so butternut squash it was. It sat in the refrigerator staring at me for a few days. I had no idea what to do with it and was beginning to regret my adventurous decision.

Until last night when I had a brilliant idea.

Well…either brilliant or a disaster.

Luckily, I was having a good day and it turned out to be brilliant.

Butternut Squash and Pear Medley
Makes about 4 servings

1 butternut squash
3 pears
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel the butternut squash and cut into small cubes. Cut the pears into small cubes (you can leave the peels on the pears). Pour all squash and pears in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Next, add the cinnamon, brown sugar, ginger, salt, and pepper, and stir well to combine. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes. Squash should be tender when it is done, so adjust baking time accordingly.

Pepper and Mascarpone Rotini

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The past couple of weeks I’ve been racking my brain to come up with some new ways to serve pasta, so naturally I wanted to come up with a new sauce. I dreamt about pasta sauce one night. I stood in front of the pantry for an hour trying to find ingredients I thought would work.

And then I thought I was trying too hard. So I just threw some ingredients together. And guess what? It worked! Seriously. It worked. It worked better than I could have imagined. It may seem strange – all these ingredients together – but aren’t those usually the best recipes?

I also have a minor secret about this recipe. I’m almost too embarrassed to tell you. But I will. I used jarred roasted red pepper sauce. There, I said it. But why ruin a delicious homemade roasted red pepper sauce if the sauce wasn’t going to turn out like I wanted? Yes. That’s why I did it.

Feeling ambitious? How Sweet It Is has a very yummy roasted red pepper sauce you can use for this.

Pepper and Mascarpone Rotini
Serves 4

26 oz. roasted red pepper sauce
2 cups whole wheat rotini
1 whole orange pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons mascarpone
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon herbs de provence 

Heat the olive oil in a large saucer on medium-high heat. Add the chopped orange pepper and let saute until peppers get soft and slightly brown on the edges, about 5 minutes. While peppers are heating, begin cooking pasta according to box directions. Turn heat down to low and add roasted red pepper sauce to the orange peppers. Add mascarpone, mozzarella, herbs de provence, and garlic. Stir frequently on low heat to warm the cheeses and spread them evenly in the sauce.

Drain pasta and return to pot. Cover with the roasted red pepper sauce and stir, coating evenly. Serve with parmesan, basil, or as is.

Red Pepper Turkey Meatballs

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These meatballs changed my life. I seriously think they are the best meatballs I’ve ever had. The best part? I don’t have to drown them in sauce. We ate them just as they are, and they were perfectly juicy.

They aren’t perfectly round but, hey, I tried. At least they taste delicious, right?

Red Pepper Turkey Meatballs
Makes about 12 meatballs

1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 red pepper, very finally chopped
2 eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup bread crumbs or oats (I use half of each)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons pesto
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 teaspoons parmesan cheese
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper 

In a large pan, heat some of the olive oil. Combine the rest of the ingredients together and mix well. Form mixture into small balls and place in the heated olive oil. Shake the pan every few minutes to get the meatballs cooked well all the way through. Cook until the centers are no longer pink and the outside starts to get slightly crispy.

Serve alone or with your favorite marinara sauce.

Oh, and did I mention how easy this recipe is? Yeah. It is.

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