Saturday, July 28, 2012

Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes

I know it's the middle of summer but who says you can't bake with pumpkin? One of my favorite muffin recipes happen to be pumpkin.  We made these for breakfast earlier in the week for something a little different and they were extremely addicting good!

To be honest these were the first donuts I've ever tried making. I'm not one that likes to fry things, the fact that these were baked in a mini muffin tin appealed to me. You can't get much easier than that, right?

They were so moist, full of pumpkin and spice flavors and that cinnamon-sugar coating is what sends these little treats over the top! After I started coating the donut holes in the butter/sugar coating I felt a little guilty serving these to the kiddos for breakfast- not very healthy. From that point on I only dipped the top halves in the coating and even left some plain, they still were very good.

They surely did not last long in our house, the kids kept sneaking little bites throughout the morning.....and I may or may not have had my fair share. These are definitely a keeper in my book. I bet they would even freeze well.

Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes

1 3/4 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/3 c canola oil
1/2 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c pumpkin
1/2 c milk (I used 1%)

1 stick melted butter
2/3 c sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray each well of a mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.  In a bowl mix together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ground cloves.  In another bowl, combine oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until smooth. Add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Using a small cookie scoop (even a regular spoon will work), divide batter among muffin wells. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. While the donut holes are baking, melt butter in a bowl. Combine sugar and cinnamon in another. Remove the donuts from the oven, when cool enough to handle, dip into butter and then cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat. Makes close to 36 donut holes.

Slightly adapted from: The Craving Chronicles

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

For the past two days I've been trying to get a blog post written but things keep happening to prevent me from sitting down. Monday it was the power, we were without electricity for a good 3 hours in the morning and early afternoon. We had to get a little creative with our lunch plan but it was no biggie. Yesterday I went to prepare lunch and found tons of tiny little ants in one of our pantry cupboards. Yuck! This was the first time I've had to deal with that whole thing, so I spent naptime going through food, throwing items away and cleaning. Let's hope we don't have any surprises today.....

So I've had this recipe bookmarked for awhile now, both my husband and I love anything buffalo flavored. Even the kids like it, if it's not too spicy. It's been really hot here in Iowa but I figured what the heck, let's make it for supper last night.

I made a few minor changes to the original recipe, like replacing the blue cheese dressing with ranch. Overall, we gave this 2 thumbs up! I find it hard to please the hubby all the time, he's so picky but even he said it was really good. That's when I know I've succeeded. It was a little too spicy for the kids, I felt bad because I know they really wanted to eat more but were having a hard time handling the heat. I might have to cut back on the hot sauce a little bit and see if that makes a difference for them.

I can't wait for you to make this! You're going to love the creamy buffalo sauce and the crunchy top layer from the panko crumbs and cheese! This will be a perfect dish to keep in mind for football season or any type of potluck.

Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

8 oz. medium shell pasta
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c hot wing sauce ( I like to use Cookie's Wings-n-Things)
3/4 c ranch dressing
2 c shredded/grated cheese ( I used cheddar but feel free to use any combo)
3/4 panko crumbs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and transfer to a greased 11x7 inch baking dish. Add in chopped chicken, peppers and 1 1/4 cups cheese, mix all together. In a food processor, combine garlic, cream cheese, ranch dressing and hot sauce. Pulse until smooth, add more sauce if desired. Pour over pasta and toss together.  Mix last of cheese and panko crumbs together and sprinkle over pasta. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Adapted from: A Spicy Perspective

Friday, July 20, 2012

Kid-Friendly Pizza Pasta

My days are pretty busy, as are yours I'm sure. Sometimes I don't have much time to get lunch (or dinner) on the table and I definitely refuse to feed my kids or daycare kids processed chicken nuggets,etc. Even if it takes me longer to prepare, I appreciate knowing exactly what's going into their stomachs.

I love meals like this where I can be done in 15-20 minutes start to finish. I made this for lunch the other day and every kid gobbled it up! They're tummies were full and I was happy that they were eating something nutritious and filling. We even got to spend more time outside since it was so simple to put about happy kiddos.

To make mealtime even more fun, let them choose which toppings they'd like to include with their pasta. Enjoy!

Pizza Pasta

16 oz. pasta
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes
Sliced pepperoni
Grated mozzarella cheese for topping

Cook pasta according to directions on package. Meanwhile in a large skillet, saute peppers and garlic in oil. Let veggies cook for about 5 minutes and add crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning and pepperoni. Continue to let cook until pasta is done. Once pasta is done, drain and add to pan. Stir pasta into sauce to combine. Serve with mozzarella cheese if desired.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Review: Kisses from Katie

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption

 I realize I'm slacking on my book list for the year. That doesn't mean I haven't been reading though, I'm always reading through magazines, blogs, cookbooks and children's books of course; but life got a little busy and I sort of fell behind on my reading list. Recently I've gotten back into the habit of taking the kids to the library for weekly visits. I was so happy when I spotted this book on the shelf there because it's one on my list and a book that I've been dying to read!

Even with my hectic schedule I seriously was reading this at any spare moment given. I actually finished most of it during our trip to Omaha, several hours riding in a car makes for some good reading time.

I've heard lots of people say be prepared for tears and have Kleenex by you. While I wasn't exactly crying, there were moments where I definitely had tears in my eyes. Katie takes you through her world in Uganda and what sort of living conditions these children are in. It literally makes you sick! We have it so good here in the United States and I don't think we stop to think about how others around the world have to work so much more for so little.

I really don't want to spoil the book for those wishing to read it because it's really that good, so I'll try to give a brief recap. Katie is your typical high schooler living in Tennessee, she comes from a well-off family and pretty much has the perfect life. She decides to follow God's calling and winds up taking a short missions trip to Uganda over her Christmas break with her mother. After spending a few weeks there helping to care for babies she returns home. However, she can't get those precious children out of head and wants more, wants to do more good and decides to listen to God's calling on her life.

Her parents reluctantly let her go back to Uganda under the condition that she returns to the U.S. after 1 year to start her college education. During that year Katie is able to do so much good in Uganda. She starts off as a kindergarten teacher and quickly realizes there is a great need to help provide these families with assistance so they can send their children to school. Not only are they not able to afford basic school supplies, many families have a hard time feeding their families from day to day. It's hard to imagine that $20 to us can feed a family in Uganda for a couple months.

Katie ends up finding a home to live in Uganda where she takes care of more than 100 children everyday. From feeding them meals, giving them baths, clean clothes and necessary medical treatment and just loving each and every one of them. One by one she adopts 14 children, loving each child with all of her heart.  She tells of her days, days filled with some much that I can't even imagine she can accomplish all she does. She truly does this all for the grace of God and it's such an inspiring and amazing story! After reading her book, I believe you'll be itching to go out and do something worthwhile; whether it's volunteering at a nearby shelter, children's hospital or simply just loving on your own kids a little more. I know I have a different outlook on life now.

If you'd like to follow more of Katie's story and all of her Ugandan children, you can check out her blog: Kisses from Katie.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cookie Dough Rice Krispie Treats

I took a few days off last week to enjoy some extra time with my family. We had a nice day at home on Wednesday celebrating the 4th and my husband's birthday and then on Thursday left for Omaha to take our girls to the zoo there. We spent most of Thursday in Des Moines shopping and in the afternoon made our way towards Omaha.

Friday morning we headed to the zoo, let me tell ya, we sure picked a hot day to go! I think after dealing with 100+ temps for the past couple weeks we were just used to it at that point. Luckily, there were little sprinklers throughout the zoo so everyone could cool off. I think those might have been one of highlights of my girls' day!

Despite how hot it was, we all had a really good time and it was so nice to get away for a couple days and spend quality time together as a family. After all, that's what it's all about!

Since it's been so hot, I haven't had the oven on much lately. Which means I haven't been baking either. I was definitely itching to get in the kitchen yesterday and bake something. I let my oldest daughter choose from my never-ending list of desserts to try and these were what she picked:

Don't they look amazing? I didn't even have to turn my oven on after all, even better! If you have a cookie dough addiction, these are most definitely your treat. Besides being incredibly easy to make, they're so good you might just eat the whole pan. I'm not lying. I need to get these out of my house now.

Cookie Dough Rice Krispie Treats


3 tbsp butter
10 oz. bag large marshmallows
6 c Rice Krispie cereal
1/2 c chocolate chips
1 stick butter
1/3 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp flour
1 1/4 c powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp milk
1/2 c chocolate chips
Additional melted chocolate chips for drizzling, if desired


In a large pot, melt 3 tbsp butter and marshmallows over medium heat. Stir until marshmallows are melted completely. While marshmallows are melting, mix cereal and 1/2 c chocolate chips together in a bowl. Once marshmallows are melted, add in cereal mixture and stir to combine. Dump cereal into a greased 9x13 baking dish, using a spatula to press down into an even layer. Let treats cool while you make the cookie dough.

In a medium pot, melt 1 stick of butter. Once completely melted, add in brown sugar and whisk until dissolved. Once mixture is bubbly, let cook for 1-2 mins. and remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Let set for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, whisk in flour, powdered sugar, salt and milk. Lastly, stir in chocolate chips. Spread cookie dough mixture on top of rice krispie treats and let chill in fridge for 20 minutes or until set.

Once cooled and set, you can drizzle additional melted chocolate chips on top. I like to place a Ziploc baggie over a glass, fill the baggie with melted chocolate. Then just snip a small corner and voila, you have your own decorating bag. Cut into squares and serve.

Adapted from: Steph's Bite by Bite

Monday, July 2, 2012

Blueberry Banana Baked Oatmeal

So I just realized today this is my 90th post! Wow, that's hard to believe, I'll have to start planning a special giveaway for my 100th post.  I sure do appreciate each and every one of my readers and I hope you're enjoying the recipes I've been sharing!

On to this oatmeal, in the past year our family has discovered baked oatmeal and definitely taken a liking to it. I've tried both baked apple and banana bread oatmeal and we've all loved them. I did spot this on Pinterest and thought it would be a perfect way to ulitize those fresh blueberries right now.

Once again, it's a keeper! We loved the banana layer on the bottom and the blueberries baked in with the oatmeal and also on top. Raspberries would also be great in this dish. If you're looking for something festive to serve for breakfast on the ya go!

Before I forget, remember I that wedding I was telling you about last week? Well it was a busy couple of days, but everything turned out perfect, the cake was beautiful and the bride loved it! I had so much fun doing these cupcakes (all 240!) and this cake, I'm really quite proud of how everything turned out! Here's a few pics for you to see:

Blueberry Banana Baked Oatmeal

1 c old-fashioned oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 c maple syrup
1 c milk
1 egg
2 tbsp butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 bananas, sliced
1 c blueberries

Lightly grease a 8x8 in. baking dish. In a bowl, mix oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Combine syrup, milk, egg and butter in either another bowl or a measuring cup. Spread sliced bananas on bottom of baking dish in a single layer. Top with half of the berries. Sprinkle oat mixture evenly over fruit. Pour liquid ingredients on top. Sprinkle remaining berries on top. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes. Let cool just a bit before serving. Serve with additional milk if desired.

Adapted from: So, How's it Taste?

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