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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake

Happy Thanksgiving!  

I hope everyone enjoyed their time with their families and ate a lot of good food.  I know I sure did!  I was very grateful to be able to spend time with my boyfriend's family this year, since this year we'll be visiting my family for Christmas.  We had A LOT of food, and some amazing desserts.  Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, traditional stuffing, rice stuffing, cranberry-blackberry sauce, and coleslaw were some of the dishes we enjoyed, along with plenty of pies--chocolate, pumpkin, and cherry pie!  We also had some amazing appetizers, such as warm brie with honey, nuts, and cranberries, bruschetta, and a variety of cheese and crackers.  Whatever you ended up eating for Thanksgiving, I hope you ended up full and satisfied, and remembered to give thanks to those things that we are very fortunate to have.  

If you are anything like me, you may have been doing a lot of pumpkin baking lately.  We've had a few different types of pumpkin recipes posted here during the last couple of months.  However, after baking so many pumpkin treats, I found myself stuck with a bit of leftover pumpkin.  I hate to waste perfectly good food, so if you have any leftover pumpkin sitting in your fridge, use it the same way I did and make a pumpkin pie milkshake!

I have to admit, I love pumpkin pie but I've always been skeptical of milkshake flavors that seem to stray from the norm.  Strawberry, vanilla and chocolate varieties are usually the only types of milkshakes I'm used to, but since I needed to use up my leftover pumpkin I decided to give this recipe a go.  I found this recipe on several blogs, but my first discovery of this recipe was from Our Best Bites.  

Ingredients:  milk, pumpkin, brown sugar, vanilla, ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla ice cream, and graham crackers.

Please believe me when I say this milkshake is amazing.  REALLY amazing!  I was never expecting to love it as much as I did, but I think this took my love of pumpkin pie to a whole new level.  The vanilla ice cream really adds to the pumpkin flavor, and I was pleased with the fact that this recipe calls for the individual spices, rather than "pumpkin pie spice," like I've seen in other pumpkin milkshake recipes (because who has pumpkin pie spice in their spice cabinet?  You use it only once or twice a year and then sits in your cabinet untouched.  I think its much better to just make your own, as needed).  

Most of the ingredients are things you should have on hand...just pick up a pint of vanilla ice cream and graham crackers if you don't have them, and you're set!  It's so simple and worthwhile to pull out the blender to make this milkshake.  It's a cold treat you won't want to pass up!

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake

Recipe from Our Best Bites
Yield:  one LARGE milkshake (or two small ones)

1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/16 tsp cloves (or about one pinch)
1/16 tsp nutmeg (one pinch)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 cups vanilla ice cream
1 graham cracker

Pour everything but the graham cracker in a blender.  Blend until thoroughly mixed (you may have to stir it around a bit with a spoon as you blend like I did.  Some blenders may not blend well because of the thickness of the ice cream).  Pour into a large glass and sprinkle with crushed graham cracker.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling


Lately, I've been seeing a lot of creative whoopie pies posted on the various blogs I read, and it has really gotten me interested in trying to make whoopie pies myself.  I've seen many recipes for the traditional whoopie pie:  chocolate with marshmallow fluff filling.  However, since it's almost Thanksgiving, I decided to choose something seasonal and make this pumpkin variation from Brown Eyed Baker.  

I love pumpkin, but what really got my attention was the maple cream cheese filling.  It sounded like the perfect flavor of filling to be sandwiched between the spiced pumpkin cake.  Biting into one of these amazing pies really brings out the flavors of fall.  The pumpkin cake has a very moist, delicate texture, and the addition of spices add a touch of Thanksgiving.  The cream cheese filling is light and creamy, with a subtle hint of maple that blends perfectly with the pumpkin.  It adds just the right amount of richness to this treat, without taking it too far.  

Since this was my first time making whoopie pies, I was initially a bit surprised by the amount of batter this recipe made.  I used a large bowl, and it was almost filled to the brim!  But, as I scooped the batter onto the cookie sheets, it ended up being just the right amount to make 12 large whoopie pies (about the size of a coaster)...so don't be alarmed if you try this recipe!  As long as you use a large heaping spoonful of batter for each cookie, you should end up with 12 whoopie pies.  You can also adjust your scoop size down to make smaller pies if you desire, and you'll end up with a lot more than 12!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Yield:  about 12 large assembled whoopie pies

For the whoopie pies:
3 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:
3 cups confectioners' sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or use a silicone baking mat, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, and nutmeg.  Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, mix the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and the oil together.  Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix well until combined.  

Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, and mix together until incorporated.  

Using a large tablespoon, drop a heaping spoonful of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.  

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  The tops of the cookies should be starting to crack, and should be firm when touched.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes.  Then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

To make the filling:  beat the butter on medium speed until smooth with no visible lumps, about 3 minutes.  Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth and well combined, about 2 minutes.  Add the confectioners' sugar, a little at a time, then add the maple syrup and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.

To assemble the whoopie pies:  Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down.  Pipe the filling generously onto one half.  Then place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling.  Press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the cookie.  Repeat until all cookies have been used.  Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm before serving.

  • I highly recommend using 100% pure maple syrup.
  • For filling cookies, no need for fancy piping tips and piping bags.  Simply spoon the filling into a large Ziploc bag.  Seal, then cut the bottom corner of with a pair of scissors and gently squeeze filling out of the hole.

Monday, November 21, 2011

White Chicken Chili

I have a few more pumpkin recipes coming up, but I figured I'd break it up by first sharing this white chicken chili recipe.  This recipe has been a regular in my house ever since I discovered it a year ago, at Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  I've never been much of a traditional chili fan and didn't really grow up eating it as a child.  My mom cooked a lot of dinners for my family over the years, but chili was definitely not one of them.  Although I have grown to enjoy it, no traditional chili recipe will ever compare to this white chicken chili. 

This white chicken chili isn't just something I kind of like.  In fact, I can confidently say that I LOVE this chili.  Traditional chili reminds me more of a summer BBQ, but this chili reminds me of cozy nights at home, sitting on the couch with a blanket, listening to the rain outside...

...you get the idea?  It's pretty much my idea of winter in a bowl. 

I especially love the fact that this chili is made with chicken instead of ground beef or turkey.  The hearty cubes of chicken provide a healthy dose of protein, and blends wonderfully with the creamy white chili sauce.  I feel that the amount of spices are perfect.  The cayenne pepper gives a subtle amount of heat that provides just enough spice to give the chili a little "kick," but it is perfectly tolerable for those who aren't fans of spicy foods.  This is also a great base recipe that can be adapted to fit your own personal vegetable preferences.  You can even exchange the chicken meat for leftover Thanksgiving turkey!

This recipe is definitely one of the top ten recipes I make.  Plus, my boyfriend specifically requests this chili, so that alone makes it a keeper!  I highly suggest you try this recipe, because I am confident that you will not be disappointed.  And like I said, it's a great way to use those turkey leftovers!

White Chicken Chili

Recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Yield:  Serves 6

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch  cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp oil
2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth
2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a large saucepan, saute chicken, onion, and garlic in oil, until chicken is no longer pink.  Add beans, broth, chilies, and seasonings.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and heavy cream.  Serve immediately.

*Although I haven't tried the slow-cooker method yet, I've included Mel's slow cooker instructions below:

Slow Cooker Option: In a medium round slow cooker, place 1 pound chicken breasts (fresh or frozen) without cubing them. Add the chopped onion, garlic powder, beans, green chiles and all of the spices. Do not add the sour cream or whipping cream yet! Reduce the chicken broth to 12 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) and pour in over the other ingredients. Stir the mixture around a bit to incorporate the dry spices. Cook on low for 5-7 hours (if using frozen chicken you’ll cook on the longer end of that spectrum, fresh chicken will cook in less time). Remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred in bite-size pieces. Stir back into the slow cooker. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the sour cream and whipping cream  until smooth. Whisk the cream mixture into the crockpot with the other ingredients. Let the soup cook until heated through. Serve.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins with Pecan Streusel Topping

I think it's about time that I share another pumpkin recipe, don't you?  This pumpkin muffin recipe was discovered about a month ago, just as the fall recipe season was really picking up in the blogging world.  I found this recipe at Brown Eyed Baker, a blog that I read on a regular basis.

I happen to love any sweet treat that includes pumpkin, so what could better than a pumpkin and cream cheese combination?  Plus, I really love the pumpkin and cream cheese muffin from Starbucks, so I figured I'd give this recipe a go.  And the results?  This muffin tastes amazing!  The cream cheese filling has just enough flavor to meld with the pumpkin flavor, without it being too overwhelming, and the subtle flavor of spices gives it that warmth that every fall recipe requires.  And the streusel topping...well, that just takes it over the top!  I love the nutty, sugary topping, which gives this muffin a delicate crunch.  I just wish I had used more pecans.  I loved the pecans!

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, this would be a great muffin to have for breakfast on Thanksgiving day.  Their fall flavor will set the tone for the rest of the days treats, and will keep everyone's stomachs satisfied but not full, which is perfect, since we all need to save room for the turkey!  And since your Thanksgiving morning will probably be very busy, feel free to make these ahead of time and keep in a airtight container in the fridge.  These taste great even when heated up in the microwave.  I kept mine refrigerated and just nuked them for about 15-30 seconds every time I needed a quick snack.

If you love cream cheese and pumpkin, give these muffins a try.  They are guaranteed to be a hit!

Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins with Pecan Streusel Topping
Print this recipe

Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker
Yield:  12 muffins

For the cream cheese filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the streusel:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

For the muffins:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
5 ounces (1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp) vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.  Set aside.

Make the cream cheese filling:  In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar  until smooth.  Add the vanilla, and mix well.  On a piece of plastic wrap, form the cream mixture into a 12-inch log.  Wrap it and freeze for about an hour.

Make the pecan streusel:  In a small bowl, use a fork to combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and butter.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

In another bowl, lightly beat the sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Pour the pumpkin mixture over the dry ingredients, and gently combine just until mixture is incorporated.

Remove cream cheese log from the freezer, and slice into 12 1-inch slices.  Scoop a small amount of batter into the prepared muffin cups.  Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each cup, then cover with remaining batter.

Sprinkle the pecan streusel topping generously over each muffin.  Press on the tops lightly to make sure the topping adheres to the batter.

Bake muffins in the oven until golden, about 20-25 minutes.  Cool in pan for about 5 minutes, then remove muffins and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Muffins may be brought to room temperature, or microwaved briefly before serving.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ground Beef Taco Bowls

I have a confession to make.  One that may make you think I'm strange, or make you think that maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to food, because I do something some people think is really odd...but I'll let you be the judge.

I put ketchup on my tacos.  Not salsa.  Ketchup.

There. I said it. 

Is it really THAT weird?  Because my boyfriend seems to think so.  But...people put tomatoes in their tacos, right?  So isn't ketchup just an adaptation of that?  

Someone please tell me that I'm not the only one who does this...

The reason why I'm telling you about my strange habit is because sometimes I just get a strong craving for tacos, so instead of getting those unhealthy-but-oh-so-good deep-fried 99 cent Jack in the Box tacos (which unfortunately, is on my way home) I'll stop by the store and pick up one of those ready-to-eat roast chickens, and simply shred the meat and make myself homemade chicken tacos (with ketchup).  And it definitely makes me feel healthier...


...sometimes I don't want chicken tacos.  I want the ground beef goodness, with all the flavor and spices!  I suppose I could grab one of those taco seasoning packages at the grocery store, which is easy but also full of sodium and other unhealthy add-ins.  So, instead I make my own ground beef taco meat.  It is a million times better than the seasoning packet kind, and makes me forget about those Jack in the Box tacos.  The next time you're craving tacos, or just need to make a quick, simple dinner, make it a taco night and try this recipe.  Trust me, this homemade ground beef taco meat is satisfying and gooooooood!  

Ground Beef Taco Bowls

Recipe slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Yield:  Serves 4

2 Tbsp canola oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 pound ground beef
1 to 3 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)

Taco shells or bowls
Additional taco garnishes 

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and chopped onion.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up the meat, until cooked through and no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and drain the remaining grease.  

Return the skillet to the stove and add garlic and dry seasonings.  Stir and cook for about 30 seconds and then add the tomato sauce and jalapeno, if using.  Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve in taco shells with your choice of toppings.

  • The tacos pictured have ground beef taco meat, black beans, fire roasted corn, shredded lettuce, and Mexican blend shredded cheese.  Tomatoes would be a great addition too and would add beautiful color, but I didn't have any at the time...but I DID have ketchup. ;)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bacon, Mushroom, & Spinach Quiche

Wow, I can't believe that it's almost Thanksgiving!  School has been busier than ever, so these last few weeks have been such a blur to me.  I started a new pre-nursing dosage calculation class a couple weeks ago, so I've had a lot of math on my mind lately, but luckily I've been able to squeeze in quite a few recipes.  That means that I've got a lot of posts coming up throughout the next few weeks so get ready!  To start, let's go back to a couple Sundays ago, when I made this delicious bacon, mushroom, and spinach quiche.

My boyfriend came up with the idea to make a quiche after a morning of watching football.  This was a great idea for two reasons.  #1:  Tony LOVES quiche...and so do I.  #2:  I had some extra veggies in the fridge that I needed to use up, so throwing them in this quiche recipe was a great solution.  I was able to throw this quiche together in about 15 minutes, and return to watch the game while it baked in the oven.  After 40 minutes of baking, this quiche was ready to eat.  The edges of the crust were crisp and golden brown in color, and the egg filling was cooked to a perfect, firm texture.

The combination of bacon, eggs, cheese, and veggies results in a very satisfying mid-day meal. This recipe is a great go-to quiche recipe, and is very adaptable to whatever veggies you have leftover in your own kitchen.  Since I wasn't in the mood to spend a lot of time in the kitchen that day, I used a store-bought pie crust, but you can definitely use a homemade crust recipe if you have the time!  I will probably update this post with my own crust recipe if I make it in the future, but for now, enjoy the simplified version.

Bacon, Mushroom, & Spinach Quiche
Print this recipe

Recipe adapted from Picky Palate
Yield:  8 servings

1 refrigerated 9-inch pie crust
1/2 pound chopped bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
4 oz sliced mushrooms
4 oz fresh baby spinach
8 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a 9-inch pan with pie crust.  Using a fork, poke holes in the bottom of the crust and partially bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook bacon, stirring until browned, about 10 minutes.  Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate and discard drippings.  Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 10 minutes.  Add mushrooms and spinach, and cook for about 5 more minutes, until mushrooms are tender and spinach is wilted.  Remove from heat.

Add eggs, milk, salt, and pepper to a large bowl and whisk to combine.  Add cooked bacon, onions, mushrooms, spinach, and about half of the shredded cheese to the egg mixture and mix together.  Pour egg mixture into pie crust, and sprinkle the remaining cheese and parsley on top.  Bake for 40 minutes, or until edges are golden and center of quiche is firm.  Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.


  • I apologize for my so-so quality pictures.  Since I made this quiche later in the day, the lighting wasn't very good for food photography.  I contemplated even posting this recipe, but it was so delicious that I had to share, good quality photos or not!