Monthly Archives: October 2016

Pumpkin Ale Bread

Tomorrow is Halloween and I have pumpkins on my mind. It is really rainy in the burgh so I thought I’d bake some beer bread to go with supper. I checked out the refrigerator and low and behold we had pumpkin hard cider on hand. 

I think this will make for a tasty fall bread. The bonus with this bread is you don’t have to let it rise. It is a quick bread. The only waiting period is allowing the Dutch-oven to heat up. 

This bread pairs well with butternut squash soup.

Prep Time:5 minutes 

Cook Time: 45 minutes


4 cups of Bread Flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 

12 of pumpkin hard cider (Ace is what I used)

3 tablespoons of honey

4 Tablespoons puréed pumpkin
Pre-work: Preheat oven to 500 degrees with large dutch-oven in oven. Allow to heat for 1 hour. 


1. In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt, & baking powder l. Set aside.

2. Pour the hard cider, honey and pumpkin into the dry ingredients. Mix with wooden spoon just until all ingredients are moist. Knead on lightly floured surface for one or two times just enough to form a ball. If you sill have time for the oven to heat up, spray the bowl with cooking spray and wrap with saran wrap. 

3. Once an hour has elapsed carefully (with oven mitts) remove the Dutch-oven from oven. Continuing to use oven mitts remove lid and carefully place the dough in the center of the Dutch-oven. Scoring the dough with a knife make a “X”. Using the oven mitts place the lid back on the Dutch-oven and return the vessel back into the oven. Decrease the temperature to 400 degrees and allow the bread to bake for 45 minutes.

Spicy Stuffed Pepper Soup

We had so many green peppers in the garden this year! I was stuffing them like crazy! At work we have stuff Pepper Soup on the menu all the time. I thought I’d give it a try in the slowcooker. I have made Stuffed Pepper Soup before with vegetarian soy crumbles and you can most definitely do that with this recipe. 

This is a perfect fall dish for the crisp weather this time of year and a good way to use those heirloom green peppers from the garden. 

This recipe yields: 12 serving

Prep time: 15 minutes


1 pound spicy sausage

1 pound extras lean ground beef (93/7)

32 ounce canned no added salt tomato sauce

1 (10 ounce can) rotel (undrained)

1 can diced tomatoes (undrained)

1 quart of low sodium spicy v8

1 quart of water   

2 cups of diced green peppers

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

1 small jalapeño, diced

2 cups of uncooked brown rice 

1/4 cup brown sugar 

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoon penzeys beef base


1. In a large nonstick pan brown the beef and sausage over medium heat. Make sure no pink meat remains. Drain the meat to remove excess fat. 

2. While the meat cooks prep and pour all other ingredients into a 6 quart slowcooker. Once meat is done dump the meat into the slow cooker and stir. Set the soup on low for 8 hours. Stir occasionally. 

Enjoy! Goes well with cornbread! 

Homemade Trail Mix 

Trail mix is a staple at our house. We love it to snack on when we travel or when we are watching a show. I love to even keep some in my bookback or purse when we are shopping. Trail mix is always good for a mid day high energy snack. A little goes a long way. 

Trail mix at the grocery store,vending machine, or convenient mart can be costly.  I bought all these ingredients for this blend at Aldi and tossed them together for a fraction of the price of the prepackaged variety.

Tips! Mix it up; if you don’t like sunflower seeds try pumpkin seeds. Or if you don’t like dark chocolate maybe try peanut butter chips. If you don’t like raisins use dried blueberries or cherries (just make sure to get the unsweetened ones). This blend below just happens to be my husband’s favorite pairing. 

This recipe yields approximately {8  1/2 cups}: 34 servings (1/4 cup is a serving

2 cups of lightly salted dry roasted peanuts

2 cups of  unsalted dry roasted sunflower seeds

1 1/4 cup extra dark chocolate chips (63 % cacao)

1 (8 ounce bag of Peanut M&Ms), about 1 1/3 cup

1 cup of raisins 


1. Throw all the ingredients in a resemble bag and shake it up! 


Sunflower Cocoa No Bake Bars

Recipe yields: 12 bars 


1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup sunflower butter

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 quick oats

1 cup brown rice crisps cereal 

1 oz Dark chocolate (melted) optional 

Pre work:

Take a class an 8 by 8 baking dish and foil line it and spray with cooking spray. Set aside


Place the sunflower butter & honey in a large glass microwave bowl. Microwave for 1-1 1/2 minutes and stir. Add in the cocoa, & salt. Add in oats and stir. Lastly fold in rice cereal. Press the batter evenly into the prepared class dish. Cover and let the bars firm up in the refrigerator for 2 hours to even overnight. 

Take the foil on both sides and pull the bars out of the glass dish. Place on a cutting on cutting board. Cut the bars into 12 bars. If you wish drizzle some chocolate on the top of the bars. Place in a resealable container. 

Chocolate Chip Greek Yogurt Muffins

Tomorrow we are celebrating a very special birthday in our office. I try and always make a special treat for my coworkers birthdays. Tomorrow our birthday girl is taking a half a day so I don’t want to make a dessert. However I would still like to make a sweet treat in honor of her special day. And no one ever said you cannot have  chocolate for breakfast….

I don’t think there is a better way than to celebrate with some chocolate….

This recipe yields 12 standard muffins


PRE directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take out your muffin tin and place paper liners in the tin and spray each with cooking spray.



1 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour

2/3 cup of granulated sugar or raw sugar

1 cup of greek plain fat free yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp kosher salt

3/4 cup of semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

2 large egg whites

5 TB canola oil


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the yogurt, vanilla, and egg whites.
  3. Add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix with a spatula. Be careful not to over mix. Once there is no signs of dry flour residue, fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Portion the muffins out using a # 16 scoop. You can make them a heaping amount if not you will have some batter left. And since whole wheat flour is more dense than regular All Purpose flour your muffins may not rise as much. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pan and allow to cool or enjoy warm.


Actifry Pesto Chicken & Potatoes

If you don’t know it by now, we love the Actifry at our house. We use this wonderful cooking gadget at the very least weekly. It is such a time saver. It can cook just about anything main dishes,sides, desserts, and snacks.

I appreciate using this device during weeknights for a quick easy dinner. Bonus easy clean up with essentialy a one pot meal. At the end of the meal, just throw everything in the dishwasher and call it an evening. 

We have so much Pesto, I have been adding it to everything. This recipe came to made on my way home from work. 

Prep time: 5 minutes  

Cooking time: 40-43 minutes

Servings: 2 large meals or 4 small


2 ounces of prepared Pesto, divided

2 chicken breast, cubed into 1 inch pieces

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 medium potatoes (about 3 cups, cubed 1 inch pieces) (washed clean & not peeled)

Tools for the Job:

  • Actifry


1. In either a ziplock bag or sealable container marinate the chicken breast ovennight with 1 ounce of Pesto.

2. When ready to prepare the dish,place the prepared potatoes with oil & remaining 1 ounce of Pesto in the actifry. Close the lid. Place the timer on 20 minutes. 

3. Add the chicken in the Actifry with the potatoes and place the timer on for another 20-23 minutes. 


Sea Salt Caramel Peanut Butter Brownies

I recently asked my husband, what dessert he would like for his sweet treat for his lunches? I enjoy packing his work lunches. I always like to include a few proteins, whole grains, veggies, fruit, salty snack, and sweet goodie. 

Also, I love packing lunches for my husband and I because brown bagging is a resourceful way to use leftovers. Packing a lunch daily can really help save money & reduce waste. So many people dine out or order in for meals for lunch breaks. This habit can be easily $10-20 a day downtown in a city; not to mention high in  unnecessary & unwanted calories. 

His response to my question for his sweet treat was brownies. I asked what kind and he mentioned a traditional style (last week I had made Blondies).  I couldn’t bare making Plain Jane Brownies; therefore, I spiced them up a tad. This led me to the mix up of a beautiful marriage salted caramel,peanuts, and chocolate. 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Foil line a glass 9 by 13 baking pan and spray generously with canola oil cooking spray


1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil

4 oz of extra dark chocolate (63% cacao), plus more for drizzle 1-2 tablespoon melted 

4 Tablespoons of natural peanut butter

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 1/2 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla

3 eggs

1 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 scant cup of dry roasted unsalted peanuts

1 1/2 cups of pretzels (wheel or mini pretzel shape)

6 ounce jar of sea salt caramel sauce or homemade prepared caramel sauce, plus 1-2 tablespoon for final drizzle

A few pinches of Sea Salt for final sprinkle (optional)

This recipe yields 16 large brownies or 32 mini

  1. Take over a double broiler and melt the chocolate, coconut oil, and peanut butter. Once the mixture is melted add in the applesauce, & sugar. Remove the double broiler and add in the eggs one at a time with a whisk and lastly add in the vanilla. Set aside.
  2. In the meantime, whisk together the flour, kosher salt, and baking powder. Add the liquid chocolate mixture to the flour. Mix until combined.
  3. Pour 1/3 of the batter on the bottom of the prepared 9 by 13 pan. Layer the pretzels evenly on top of the batter (it is roughly 47 pretzel wheels), than sprinkle with the peanuts. Drizzle with half of caramel sauce. Place the remaining 2/3 of batter on top of the nut, caramel, pretzel layer. I find using a plastic spatula sprayed with cooking spray makes for easier spreading.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 33 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center of the brownies clean. Place the brownies on a wire rack to cool. Allow the brownies to completely cool before removing from the pan.
  5. Using the foil sides, lift the brownies from pan and place on parchment paper.
  6. On a diagonal drizzle with caramel and chocolate. Lastly sprinkle with sea salt. Store in a sealable container. Cut to your desired serving size.
  • Make sure to store in an airtight container 

Herbed Pesto

My grandfather mentioned to me the other day the weather report mentioned it was going to freeze in the next few nights. Right away, I realized I still had to pick a few herbs and rhubarb out of the garden before they were destroyed by the frost.

If you plant a garden you know, you put to much time into it not to preserve the harvest for enjoyment for the winter months. Ironically,  I just used up my last frozen batch about a week ago for some pasta. This recipe freezes really well. I like to freeze it in silicone 1 ounce ice cube trays, it makes for easy use for sauces, soups, and marinating meat.

Recipe Yields : 21 ounces

6 cups of fresh basil, packed

2 cups of fresh parsley, packed

1 cup of lightly toasted pine-nuts

1 cup of freshly grated Romano Locatelli D.O.C. cheese

1/2 of one large lemon juiced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly grated Black pepper

14 small fresh cloves of garlic (ours are small from our garden)

1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil:

1. Place all the ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until pureed.

2. Drizzle of olive oil while the food processor is pulsing.

3. Enjoy on some crackers, homemade bread, pizza, or pasta!

Pimento Mac & Cheese

We recently made our own pimento cheese for burgers with our trial of Blue Apron order last week. My husband and I discovered it is super easy. Which had my head spinning and thinking what else can I put these cute little pimentos into?? …. aha Mac & Cheese! After all stewed tomatoes are generally paired with this gooey goodness.

Makes 6-8 servings


3 cups of mini shell whole wheat noodles (dried)

4 tablespoons butter, unsalted

1/3 cup all purpose floor

1 cup fat free half and half

1 1/2 cup skim milk

1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon franks hot sauce

1 cup shredded stelvio cheese

1/2 cup shredded part skim mozzarella

1/3 cup finely chopped canned pimentos

1 teaspoon kosher Salt


1.In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well. Rinse in strainer with cold water. Leave the pasta in the strainer and return the pot to the stovetop.
2. Melt the butter in the stockpot now over over medium heat. When the butter has melted and has started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for whisking continuously for 1 1/2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk & fat free half and half until no clumps of flour residue remain.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the roux, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 additional minutes.

4. Remove sauce pan from the heat and by wooden spoon, stir in the cheeses allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard, salt, and hot sauce.

5. Return the sauce pan to the heat and stir in the pasta & pimentos. Be sure fold in all the ingredients thoroughly, bring up the sauce to coat all the shells. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through.


Zesty Banana Orange Bread

I was lucky enough to receive a special delivery of produce from my grandfather yesterday. My mom and dad drove down to my husband and I’s house for a home cooked dinner. I was pleasantly blown away by the two large boxes of goodies from his garden and orchard.

One of the treasures my grandpa gave me was his very last batch of rhubarb for the season, which inspired me to pick my last batch. As pictured below. 

Needless to say with all this beautiful Rhubard I am also making our most requested  jam. Today I am trialing it in the slow cooker. 
This recipe yields 4 mini loaves 


1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon of ground pie spice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cup of very ripe mashed bananas (approximately 3 large)

1 teaspoon of fresh orange zest (1 medium orange)

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup honey

2 eggs

1 cup chopped rhubarb

Prework & Tools for the job

  • Stoneware Mini bread loaf pan
  • Cooking spray the pan with canola oil spray
  • Preheat oven 350 degrees


1. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, pie spice, and baking powder. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl hand whisk together mashed bananas, orange zest, vanilla,& honey. Add one egg at a time and caution not to over mix. Lastly fold in the rhubard. 

3. Place scant 1 cup into each bread vessel. Bake at 350 degrees for 28-30 minutes. Test the bread using toothpick method. 

4. Allow the bread to cool for 5 minutes in pan and then gently remove loaves from pan and allow to cool on wire rack. 

This bread is super moist you will not believe there is no oil or butter.