Google Amy's Cooking Adventures: October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Pizza Pockets

I always like to make something fun for the kids to enjoy on Halloween.  This year’s treat is a Pumpkin Pizza Pockets.  These little pizza pockets are quick and easy and perfect to eat as the kids head out the door to go trick or treating.

Recipe Notes:
*Play around with the fillings, adding in whatever you have on hand.
*These would also make a great appetizer at a Halloween party.
*Have extra dough pieces?  Press them back together, roll them into logs, and tie them into knots and bake with the pizza pockets!

Pumpkin Pizza Pockets

1 tube of refrigerated pizza dough
¼ cup cooked, crumbled Italian sausage
8 slices turkey pepperoni, cut in quarters
¼- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
Italian seasoning
½ cup pizza sauce

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unroll the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface and flatten with a rolling pin.  Cut out an even number of pumpkin shapes using a large pumpkin cookie cutter.

Lay half of the pumpkin dough shapes on the prepared cookie sheets.  Top each pumpkin with a sprinkling of Italian sausage, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese.  Place a second piece of dough on top of each and pinch the sides to form a pocket.

Bake the pizza pockets for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.  Immediate after removing from the oven, brush each pizza pocket with melted butter and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning.  Serve with pizza sauce.

Serves 3


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Latte Protein Shake

Pumpkin Spice Lattes are one of my favorite fall treats.  However, I don’t buy them often because they are just that, a treat (and my wallet and waistline don’t approve of having them more often).  Last year I started making a super simple copy cat version of my favorite treat, but it left a bit to be desired.

Fast forward to this past August when my Aunt shared with me some sample packets of the MonaVie RVL Protein Shake Mix.   Since I am working to maintain my figure and I’m *gasp* not a breakfast fan, a protein shake sounded pretty good to me.   A filling breakfast I could drink?  Win.

But, while the RVL mix greatly outshines other protein shakes in the taste department, there is still a slight residual “protein taste” (to me – I’ve talked to others who don’t taste it at all).  So then it became a simple matter of combining a few of my favorite things into a delicious guilt free (200 calorie) breakfast.  By adding the instant coffee, the protein taste is instantly masked and the teaspoon of pumpkin spice syrup adds the hint of sweetness and that little kick of spices to make this an everyday treat instead of a sometimes treat!

Recipe Notes:
*If you have an aversion to instant coffee, simply add a couple shots of espresso or strongly brewed coffee in its place.
*Feel free to use any other protein mix you happen to have on hand, though I do highly recommend MonaVie RVL
*This is not a sponsored post – I just really like MonaVie!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Protein Shake

8 oz (1 cup) skim milk
½ - 1 tbsp instant coffee
3 tbsp MonaVie RVL, chocolate berry flavor
Cinnamon to garnish (optional)
Whipped cream (optional)

Heat the milk in the microwave until hot and slightly frothy.  Whisk in the instant coffee and MonaVie, whisking until the powders are completely dissolved.  Add in the pumpkin spice syrup.  Stir until combined.  Top with a sprinkling of cinnamon and whipped cream if desired.

Makes 1 drink


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

Fall is the time of the year when Pumpkin Spice Lattes abound.  What started out as a delicious drink from Starbuck’s has made its way into kitchens everywhere.  From remakes of the java itself to a manner of baked goods.

If you follow other blogs or spend much time on Pinterest, you’ve likely seen many other recipes for Pumpkin Spice Syrup (especially this year).  The reason I like this one over the others is twofold.  First off, this recipe boasts a full ½ cup of pumpkin puree where others use a mere two or three tablespoons.  Second, there is only ½ cup of sugar whereas others have up to a full cup (or more!)  This slightly less sweet version of the syrup is perfect, especially when you are adding it to hot chocolate or other pre-sweetened drinks.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup
Adapted from Steph’s Bite by Bite

½ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1 ¼ cups water
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves

Combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan over medium high heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low.

Cook the mixture at a low boil, stirring frequently, until it becomes thick and syrupy; about 15 minutes.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Add 1 teaspoon to 3 tablespoons of the syrup to coffee, lattes, frapuccinos, or hot chocolate.  Mix well.



Please bear with me as I try to get the comments section back up & running.  It has come to my attention that many of you are having trouble commenting, so I am trying to fix it.  Unfortunately, this has removed the comments section completely from some recent posts (sorry!)  I will be doing everything I can to resurrect it.  Thanks for your ongoing patience!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Jalapeño & Cheese Pull Apart Bread

This month for Secret Recipe Club, I had the pleasure of recreating a recipe from Jessica’s blog, KitchenBelleicious.  Jessica is a stay at home mom, passionate about being fearless in the kitchen.

There are many wonderful recipes on Kitchen Belleicious, but the one that caught my eye was her Jalapeño and Cheese Bread.  So, even though it was an unseasonable 90 degrees the day I baked this (no, I don’t live in a Southern State), I just couldn’t resist!  The bread smelled absolutely delicious while it was baking and once it came out of the oven, my husband and I couldn’t keep our hands off of it!

Recipe Notes:
*I changed the process of this bread slightly, so the jalapeños and cheese were more evenly distributed.  Check out the original recipe if you would love some ooey gooey cheesey pockets in your bread.
*Don’t be concerned about the heat of the jalapeños.  If you’ve taken care to remove the seeds and ribs, the cooking process will take away most of the heat.
*Do wear this kitchen gloves while chopping the jalapeños to keep from burning your hands (or just be extra careful!)

Jalapeño & Cheese Pull Apart Bread
Adapted from KitchenBelleicious

1 package rapid rise yeast
1 ½ cups warm water, divided (120 degrees)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp dried dill
2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
4 ounces (1 cup) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine ½ cup of the water and the yeast.  Let the mixture stand until the yeast dissolves, 2-5 minutes.

Once the yeast is dissolved, stir in the salt, sugar, paprika, and remaining 1 cup of water.

Fit the mixer with a dough hook and add the flour.  Start mixing on low.  Once the flour begins to incorporate, increase speed to medium low until the dough comes together and forms a smooth, elastic ball.

Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.  Let the dough rest for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, roll the dough into a rectangle measuring approximately 12 inches by 20 inches. 

Spread the melted butter over the entire surface of the dough with a pastry brush.  Then, sprinkle the dill, jalapeños, and cheese evenly across the surface of the dough.

Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, carefully cut the dough vertically into 6 even strips.  Using a dough scraper if necessary, lift and stack the strips on top of one another.  Then cut the dough in 6 sections a second time, so you have 6 stacks of dough squares.

Place each section of dough squares up on end in a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan and let rest for 10 minutes.  Brush the top of the loaf with any remaining butter from the previous step.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until deeply browned.

Makes 1 loaf of bread

Like Secret Recipe Club?  Don't miss my earlier Secret Recipe Club Recipes!


Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Spice French Toast

French toast is another one of those go to meals in my house.  It is quick, easy, guaranteed to please my boys, and always for dinner (not breakfast!)  To get into the fall spirit (and to add a little extra nutritional boost to the meal – yay pumpkin!), I decided to make our French toast a bit more exciting.  Super festive, super delicious, welcome fall!

Recipe Notes:
*Instead of mixing the spices into the pumpkin puree, you can sprinkle the slices of French toast with pumpkin pie spice individually.
*If serving this to children, I recommend omitting the espresso powder.

Pumpkin Spice French Toast

10 slices dense 100% whole wheat bread
¼ cup pumpkin puree
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
Dash of ground cloves
½ tsp espresso powder (optional)
3 eggs, beaten
¼ cup lowfat milk

Preheat an electric skillet to 375 degrees F and spray with non stick spray.

In a large shallow bowl, combine with pumpkin puree and spices, stirring until thoroughly combined.  Beat in the eggs, milk, and espresso powder until combined.

Dip the slices of bread into the batter, flipping to coat.  Cook on the electric skillet 2-3 minutes or until the bottom is crisp and browned.  Flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until the other side is browned.

Serve hot with a sprinkling of powdered sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crispy Oven Fried Smashed Potatoes

Potatoes are one of my favorite side dishes, so I am always looking for fun variations.  There are a lot of steps to these crispy little potatoes, but they are worth it.  Plus – it’s fun to smash those little boiled potatoes!

Crispy Oven Fried Smashed Potatoes
Adapted from Fine Cooking

12-15 baby red potatoes (a maximum of 2 inches diameter)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Seasoning salt

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with an inch of salted water.  Bring the potatoes to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fully cooked and easily pierced with a fork.  Note: be careful not to overcook the potatoes, they shouldn’t be mushy.

Move the potatoes to a plate covered with a clean dishtowel.  After draining and cooling for a couple minutes, use a second towel (folded) to gently press down on each potato to flatten it to ½ inch thick.  Let the potatoes cool to room temperature (place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes if needed).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Pour half of the oil onto a rimmed baking sheet.  Place the potatoes on the baking sheet.  Drizzle the remaining oil on top of the potatoes, taking care that the potatoes are all coated.  Sprinkle the potatoes with seasoning salt.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and carefully flip each potato with tongs.  Sprinkle with a little more seasoning salt.  Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are deeply browned and crispy.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Root Vegetable Fries

I first saw these vegetable fries on Pinterest.  The photo was so stunningly beautiful, I repinned it, but never had any real intentions of making them.  Why?  Well, I already have a great recipe for sweet potato fries, and while I have baked with beets often, I’ve never actually just eaten them and I’ve never served turnips!

But I simply couldn’t get that photo out of my head.  So I bought all the vegetables, made a few slight adaptations and baked these fries up.  The result?  Phenomenal!  My husband and I couldn’t stop eating these and I even got the boys to try a few bites (by calling them red and orange French fries).  I am hosting my first Thanksgiving this year and these fries will most definitely be appearing on our table.  My family enjoyed these and I hope yours does too!

Recipe Notes:
·        Use whatever vegetables you have on hand.  I added zucchini to my recipes (not a root veggie) because it was in the refrigerator waiting to go bad – be creative!
·        Experiment with your favorite oils and spices.  You can even use nuts instead of sunflower seeds.

Root Vegetable Fries
Adapted from Yum Universe

1 medium sweet potato
2 large carrots
1 large (or 3 small) beets
1 large turnip
1 small zucchini
1 cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup fresh oregano
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp sea salt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Wash and peel the vegetables.  Cut them into uniform sticks.  Set aside.

Place the sunflower seeds in the bowl of a mini food processor and pulse until it form a small grain.  Add in the oregano leaves, garlic, paprika, and sea salt.  Pulse a few times to mix.

Place the vegetables into a gallon sized resealable bag and add the olive oil.  Shake the bag until the vegetables are coated with oil.  Add in the sunflower seed mixture, seal, and shake again until evenly coated.

Place the coated vegetable fries in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the fries are tender and lightly browned.  Serve hot.

Serves 4


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Snickers Cupcakes

Last weekend, I went out of town on girl’s weekend.  It was the first time I’ve ever been away from my 1 year old for more than a couple hours.  It was also the first time I’ve gone on a vacation by myself since marrying my husband 5 years ago.   Did I also mention that was my first time driving in a big city, by myself or otherwise?  Needless to say, this was a big step for me!

Since I knew I would be missing my husband and boys, and would be stressed out about the driving situation, I also knew that I would need some chocolate therapy.  Plus, what better way to kick off girl’s weekend than with a couple boxes of decadent Snickers Cupcakes and a bottle of wine?  I was even a nice thoughtful wife, and left some cupcakes behind for the boys (plus a Tater Tot Casserole and Creamy Chicken Taquitos—I couldn’t have my boys eating out all weekend!)

All in all, girl’s weekend was a blast!  My college girlfriends and I traveled from 3 states for a weekend of catching up and shopping.  My boys did great without me (but were very happy when Mama came home), and I even managed big city driving, at rush hour to boot!  And, of course, the cupcakes were a hit!

Snickers Cupcakes
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

1 box of Devil’s Food cake mix
          Eggs, oil, & water as directed on the packaging
24 bite sized Snickers bars

Caramel Buttercream
Caramel Sauce
4 tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup heavy cream
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups (1 lb) confectioner’s sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup caramel sauce
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp heavy cream

Additional Snickers bars, chopped, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 muffin tins with paper liners.  Mix the Devil’s Food cake as directed on the packaging.

Fill each muffin liner about half full of cake batter (approximately 2 tablespoons).  Place one bite sized Snickers bar on top of the batter in each liner.  Top the cupcakes with an additional 1 tablespoon of batter until the all of the cupcake liners are filled and the batter is gone.  Bake the cupcakes for 30 minutes or as directed on the cake box.

Once baked, cool the cupcakes on wire racks.

While the cupcakes cool, make the caramel sauce by melting the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the sugar, stirring and cooking until the mixture begins to form and starts to darken.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the heavy cream.  Once the mixture is smooth, stir in the vanilla and salt.  Let the caramel cool to just over room temperature (warm enough to be workable, but cool enough so as not to melt the butter in the following step)

Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, begin the Caramel Buttercream.  Beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Add the confectioner’s sugar until smooth and combined, and additional 1-2 minutes. 

Turn the speed to medium-low and stir in the vanilla, caramel sauce, and salt.  Add the heavy cream and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.

Place the buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a large tip and pipe the icing onto each cupcake.  Garnish with additional Snickers bars.

Makes 24 cupcakes


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pretty in Pink Cake & White Almond Sour Cream Cake

Last week, I got a request from our neighbor to make a first birthday cake for their daughter.  They wanted something simple and pretty to coordinate with their pretty princess themed birthday party.

We came up with an elegant design that included a bow and some polka dots to add a little whimsy.  The day of the party, a tiara was added as a topper, but since I was out of town by then, I was unable to photograph it.

Since they wanted a white cake, I decided to branch out from my usual cake recipe and use my other favorite, White Almond Sour Cream Cake.  This makes a nice moist cake that holds up well to decorating and stacking.  Happy Birthday, Sophie!

White Almond Sour Cream Cake
Recipe from Cake Central

Full Recipe
I used the full recipe for the pictured cake.  It makes two 8-inch round cakes, two 6-inch round cakes and 6 cupcakes (or a mini cake)

2 boxes white cake mix
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
8 egg whites
2 2/3 cups water
4 tbsp canola oil
2 cups (16 oz) sour cream
2 tsp clear vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract

Half Recipe
Makes two 8-inch round cakes OR two 6-inch round cakes and 6 cupcakes (or a mini cake)

1 box white cake mix
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ tsp salt
4 egg whites
1 1/3 cup water
2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
1 tsp clear vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Directions (for either recipe)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray desired pans with cooking spray and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cake mix, flour, sugar, and salt.   Carefully stir the ingredients on the lowest speed setting.

Add in the egg whites, water, oil, sour cream, vanilla, and almond.  Beat on low speed for 2 minutes or until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

Pour the batter evenly into prepared pans (see guide below).  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Then, check the cakes every 5-10 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Move the cakes to a rack to cool.  Cool in the pan at least 10 minutes before running a knife along the edges to flip and cool completely on wire racks.

Cake Sizing and Batter Guide
Via Wilton

Pan Shape
Number of Servings*
(2 Layers)
Cups Batter
1 Layer, 2 in.
Baking Time
Approx. Cups
Icing to Ice
& Decorate
 2 Layer Cake
25 - 30
30 - 35
30 - 35
30 - 35
35 - 40
35 - 40
50 - 55
55 - 60
3 1/2
4 1/2
7 1/2

*Serving size for this guide is a 1.5 x 2 inch slice of cake.




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