Category Archives: Baked Goods

Quinoa Pudding: How A Super Food Makes A Super Dessert

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Our new foodie hobby is eating at diners. In all seriousness, is there anything that rivals a food joint that serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and homemade desserts all day long? Diners are the Baskin Robbins of restaurants—there is an option and flavor for every type of eater.

A few weeks ago, while eating at one of our regular diners, the one I cook for ordered homemade rice pudding. It was absolutely divine. I knew recreating this sweet, old-fashioned dessert was inevitable, yet I wanted to experiment with the traditional form and make my rice pudding as healthy as possible. With a full pack of quinoa in my pantry, I figured why not incorporate this super food in place of the rice? The rest of the ingredients are fairly standard—milk, sugar, vanilla—and difficult to substitute with healthier alternatives without completely changing the overall taste and feel of the pudding.

So how does the quinoa pudding rival that of rice pudding? While the quinoa pudding may not taste exactly like rice pudding, it still tastes incredibly delicious—almost comparable to a dessert oatmeal, especially with the hints of cinnamon. Another plus about this dessert is that it has a versatile taste, meaning you can decorate it with almost any kind of topping(s) you can think of, however, the pudding is still very tasty and satisfying on its own. By far, the best part about my quinoa pudding is its health benefits. When you break the pudding down, it’s really not all that bad for you, making this dessert a new regular in my kitchen. I think it’s important to note that the quinoa pudding could also make a great breakfast alternative that is off the regular beaten path of standard oatmeals and cereals.

Quinoa Pudding

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Ingredients:

-1 cup of quinoa

-1 cup + 1 tbsp sugar, divided

-1.5 cups of 2% milk

-1/2 cup of fat-free half and half

-1 tsp of cinnamon (optional)

-1 tsp of vanilla extract

-1/2 tsp of salt

Topping Suggestions:

-Pistachios and dried cranberries

-Banana and honey

-Brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg

Directions:

-First, you need to soak the quinoa. In a large bowl, combine one cup of quinoa, four cups of water, and 1 tbsp of sugar.  Let the quinoa soak for about a half hour, but make sure you stir the contents periodically. This is an important step because you want to try to eliminate the earthy smell and taste of the quinoa. With a spoon, remove any of the floating pieces of quinoa.

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-In a medium to large pot, combine one cup of sugar, milk, half and half, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and the salt. Bring to a boil, but DO NOT turn the burner above the medium setting of heat. Burnt milk does not a good pudding make. Stir occasionally until the contents come to a boil.

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-Once the milk mixture comes to a boil, add in the quinoa. Let the contents come to a boil.

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-Once the quinoa mixture has come to a boil, lower the heat to low and let the contents simmer for approximately 30 minutes (or until the contents resemble that of pudding), stirring occasionally.

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-The quinoa pudding can be served both cold and warm. I topped the pudding with some of our favorite toppings, but the quinoa pudding is also very tasty on its own.

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-Last and most certainly not least, enjoy without guilt!

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I Heart Raspberry Pie

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They say Valentine’s Day is a day of romance, but please, we all know this love fest of a holiday is all about the sweet treats and chocolate—at least it is to me. Since everyone and their mother elects to go out to dinner on February 14th, I’ve found that staying in and avoiding the crowds results in a much more enjoyable and relaxed Valentine’s Day. Consequently, Valentine’s Day has become our little excuse to eat our favorite foods for dinner, enjoy a nice cocktail, and indulge in an obligatory Valentine’s Day themed dessert—or just loads of chocolate (or both).

Due to the fact that I’m in mid-move and my kitchen is packed up into twelve different boxes, my cooking and baking has been relegated from detail and order to haphazard and low maintenance. With this in mind, I decided to make this Valentine’s Day dessert an easy one, but tasteful nonetheless.

I was lucky enough to find my pie dishes before the rest of my bake ware, which made the decision easy: a pie with a red berry filling. Since we aren’t in peak season for berries, I opted for a raspberry pie using frozen raspberries. I’ve always been impressed with the way frozen berries bake and they are extremely convenient—especially in the off-season.

A raspberry/red pie doesn’t necessarily scream “Happy Valentine’s Day,” however, a raspberry/red pie with mini heart pieces of dough serving as a top piecrust does. I used a standard piecrust and cut out mini heart shaped pieces and systematically placed them on top of the raspberry filling. Don’t have a cookie cutter? Me neither, so I entrusted my DIY skills to make one out of the end of a paper towel role. Yes, you read that right, and my paper towel heart shaped cookie cutter exceeded even my expectations.

The hearts served as a perfect pie topping and made the pie more attuned with the whole Valentine’s Day theme. Not only was my heart pie pleasing to the eyes, it tasted incredible with its perfect combination of sweetness and that hint of tart from the berries. It was an extremely easy dessert to prepare, making the experience all the more sweet.

Wishing you all have a Valentine’s Day filled with love and food!

Raspberry Pie

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Ingredients + Materials:

-Smaller sized heart shaped cookie cutter (I used the end of a paper towel roll that I shaped into a heart. Wrap the edges in tin foil if you think it to be more sanitary).

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-Parchment paper

-2 9-inch piecrusts

-Approximately 5 cups of raspberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, I suggest letting the berries thaw for about an hour prior to baking time)

-1 1/4 cups of sugar plus another tbsp of sugar

-1.5 tbsp lemon juice

-2 tbsp of half and half (I used fat-free)

-1 tbsp of butter, cut into thin slices

-2 tbsp of corn starch

Directions:

-Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

-If your berries are frozen, take them out of the freezer and pour them into a colander. Leave the berries in the colander for about an hour—just enough time that some of the excess water is released.

-Pour the raspberries into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the one and a quarter cup of sugar, the lemon juice, half and half, butter, and corn starch. Mix well with a spatula until all the ingredients are well incorporated.

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-Roll one of the piecrusts onto the pie dish. Cut off any of the extra dough from the crust, if needed.

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-Place a large piece of parchment paper onto a flat surface and roll the second piecrust over the parchment paper.

-With your cookie cutter (or mock cookie cutter, in my instance), cut out your heart shapes. Make sure you don’t leave too much room in between each heart, or else you may have to roll out the dough for your last few hearts. I used 26 hearts, but depending on how you place them on the pie, you may need a few more or a few less.

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-Pour the raspberry filling onto the piecrust/pie dish.

-Place the hearts with the top of the heart touching the edge of the pie. Proceed to lay down the hearts all along the perimeter of the pie. If you need to move some of the hearts, just make sure you’re careful—you don’t want to drown the heart.

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-Once the outer border of hearts is complete, it’s time for the second set of hearts. You won’t be able to line them up perfectly with the border, so just try and make a second circle. You want to leave a little bit of space in between each heart.

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-Once the second set of hearts is finished, it’s time to complete the center. I only had room for three hearts, so I placed them in the shape of a three-leaf clover.  Note that there is no wrong way to decorate the top of your pie.

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-Take the extra tbsp of sugar and lightly sprinkle over the top of the pie as evenly as possible.

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-Bake your pie at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

-Lower the temperature to 350 and bake for additional 30 to 40 minutes or until the crust starts to brown.

-Let the pie cool for about an hour before serving (you can serve it sooner, the pie just may be a bit runny). To ensure your pie is perfectly set, let it sit out for a few hours before enjoying.

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A Perfect Holiday Cookie Part Two: Double Chocolate Chip Cookies With Pistachios and Cranberries

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If I had an alias, it would be the Cookie Monster. I never tire of experimenting with cookie dough, especially around the holidays. I’ve baked a few holiday friendly cookies over the past couple of months, but I believe I saved the best for last with my double chocolate chip cookies with pistachios and cranberries.

These cookies have nuances of the classic chocolate chip cookie, however, the taste of the cranberry and pistachio puts these baked goodies in a world of their own. The salty trace of the pistachio counters nicely with the tart cranberry and smooth white and semi-sweet chocolate.  The cookie dough is chewy, yet the pistachios provide the perfect amount of crunch, while the double chocolate leaves you wondering what kind of flavors will burst in your mouth with each coming bite.

Lastly, and certainly not least, the double chocolate chip pistachio cranberry cookies (now that’s what I call a tongue twister) are a perfect Christmas dessert/cookie. I’ve always found it very difficult to incorporate green colored ingredients into baked goods that are natural and not loaded with unnecessary dyes and sugars. The pistachio provides a unique green that contrasts beautifully with the dark red from the cranberry and the stark white from the chocolate—it’s a look that’s off the regular beaten Christmas path, and it’s a taste that is truly distinctive and delicious.

PS: These cookies are perfect to leave out for Santa…He told me so himself.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies With Pistachios and Cranberries

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Ingredients:

-2 sticks of butter, room temperature

-2 eggs, room temperature

-1 cup brown sugar

-1/2 cup granulated sugar

-1 tsp vanilla extract

-2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

-1 tsp salt

-1 tsp baking soda

-1/2 cup white chocolate chips

-1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

-1 cup cranberries

-1 cup pistachios, chopped

Directions:

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. If desired, line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

-In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix well and set aside.

-With either a hand mixer or a standing mixer, combine the butter and sugars until well blended and creamy.

-Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and continue to mix until creamy.

-Slowly pour in the flour (not all at once, but gradually) and mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated

-Pour in the white and semi-sweet chocolate chips and mix well.

-Add in the cranberries and the pistachios and mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated. The picture below is what my finished dough looked like.

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-Measure out about a tablespoon and a half worth of dough and place on the baking sheet.

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-Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 12 minutes (times will vary depending on oven). If you make the cookies smaller or larger, adjust the cooking time accordingly.

-Once the cooking time has elapsed, take the cookies out of the oven to cool. I slam my baking tray down to the let the cookies settle a bit. Sounds crazy, I know, but I like the look and taste of a flatter/denser cookie.

-Let cool for a couple of minutes and then enjoy!

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Gingerbread Cookie Cupcake Bites

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Have you ever had a fantastic gingerbread cookie? Yeah, me neither. Albeit messy, gingerbread is one of those rare foods that children are actually permitted to play with. Thus, in general, I feel that gingerbread desserts have been relegated to edible Christmas legos that make little kids happy as they build gingerbread houses and decorate them with loads of candy and frosting, however, rarely do they end up eating the actual gingerbread. But no worries—I found a way where us adults (and kids) can have a delicious gingerbread “cookie” and eat it too…

So, what happens when you take homemade gingerbread cookie dough and combine it with the idea of an inverted cupcake? You get heaven in the form of dessert and pure delight for your taste buds. I’m just going to go with my instincts here and call these sweet treats my gingerbread cream cheese frosting cupcake cookie bites (say that three times fast).

These little gingerbread cupcake cookies are a perfect holiday dessert for many reasons. For starters, they’re very easy to make. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making the dough from scratch like me, I suggest using Pillsbury Gingerbread Cookie Dough—it’s a practical and timely alternative. These little cookie cupcakes pack in the mature holiday flavor with spices like ginger, nutmeg, cloves (optional), and cinnamon; yet they aren’t too spicy as the cream cheese frosting—which can be enjoyed with every bite, unlike real cupcakes—offsets the bold taste from the dough with a sweet and creamy touch. In addition, this dessert is very easy to personalize with your preferred holiday colored frosting and sprinkles. I kept mine simple, but never be afraid to think outside the box when baking in the kitchen.

Gingerbread Cream Cheese Frosting Cupcake Cookie Bites

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Ingredients:

-3 cups all-purpose flour

-2 teaspoons ground ginger

-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

-1/8 teaspoon of clove (if desired; this is an optional spice)

-1 teaspoon baking soda

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened at room temperature

-3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

-1/4 cups white sugar

-1/2 cup molasses

-1 egg at room temperature

-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

-1 regular sized container of whipped cream cheese frosting (or be awesome and make your own)

-Holiday sprinkles of your choosing

*Note: you will need a mini cupcake tin, mini cupcake lining papers, and some type of utensil that can poke a hole through the mini cookie cup cake. I used the end of a corn on the cob holder, but the end of most cooking utensils will work, just be aware that you may have to work with the dough a bit.

Directions:

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

-Line your mini muffin tins with cupcake liners

-In a large bowl, combine the flour, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and baking soda. Mix together with a whisk until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Set aside.

-Either in a standing mixer or with a hand mixer, mix together the butter and sugars until creamy.

-Add to the mixing bowl the egg, vanilla, and molasses and mix until the ingredients are well incorporated and creamy (and be careful with the molasses—it can make a mess).

-Slowly add in the flour a few cups at a time until the mixture resembles dough (the picture below is what my gingerbread cookie dough looked like when ready).

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-With your hands (make sure you wash them prior to this step), measure out about a tablespoon and a half to two tablespoons worth of dough. Roll the dough in between the palms of your hands until a nice little ball forms. Place the ball in the cupcake liner that’s already lining the tin.

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-Continue the previous step until you have filled your trays. I had leftover dough and decided to freeze it for a later time.

-Bake the balls of dough for about 8 minutes. Remember, times vary depending on the oven, so make sure to watch the contents.

-About a minute after you have removed the cup-cookie, insert the utensil you decide to use into the middle of the cookie. This sounds a lot more difficult than it is. You basically want to create an even hole in the middle of the cookie, but make sure not to poke through to the bottom, as you don’t want your icing to fall through.  I find the end of my corn on the cob holders to work best, but I used to use the end of some of my cooking utensils. Don’t be afraid to work and perfect the hole with your fingers.

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-Repeat the last step until each cup-cookie has a hole-like opening in the middle.

-Next, either with a pastry bag or a ziplock bag filled with the icing with a corner cut off, fill the holes of the cup-cookie. You don’t want the frosting hanging over the sides, so be careful.

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-Sprinkle your desired holiday themed sprinkles and voila!

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-Lastly, enjoy!

A Perfect Holiday Cookie

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The weather in Charlotte is finally getting cold (wooohooo!). Any time I see the low temperatures dip into the 30s, I start to do the happy dance—I’m a rarity, I know, but I don’t think I’m the only crazy, winter-loving girl out there. One of the many, many reasons I love winter is that it’s the perfect time to snuggle up in cozy threads and take pleasure in warm and hearty meals and desserts.

My favorite cookie recipe to bake and enjoy this time of year are my cranberry oatmeal white chocolate chip cookies—consider them chocolate chip cookie’s more mature, tasteful, and holiday-friendly cousin. The cookie, in thanks to the oatmeal, is both crunchy and soft/gooey, and the combination of the white chocolate with the cranberry is captivatingly mouth-watering. It’s definitely one of those cookies that will leave you craving more. In addition, the cookie is pleasing to the eyes with the touches of red from the cranberry and white from the chips, making it an exemplary holiday treat for either Thanksgiving or Christmas (but don’t let the holidays trick you, I bake these cookies year round).

The first word I ever spoke was “cookie”, so I’ve always taken this dessert very seriously. I’ve been baking variations of cookies for almost 20 years now and I’ve definitely learned a few tricks of the trade. For starters, room temperature butter and eggs makes a huge difference because the softened butter reacts better with the sugars. Consequently, the dough is much more creamy/smooth, which leaves you a soft cookie with a crispy finish (I let my butter and eggs sit out for at least two hours before baking). I also get physical with my baking: I slam the baking sheet down on the counter a few times as soon as I take the tray out of the oven. It allows the cookies to collapse a bit so you have a more condensed and ooey-gooey cookie. If I don’t think the slamming of the tray has done the trick, I take a spoon and lightly press on the cookie. I’m also a salt freak, so I tend to add a bit more salt to cookie recipes because I love the sweet and salty combination. And lastly, I find that recipes with a higher ratio of brown sugar to white sugar results in richer, softer, and better tasting cookies.

In conclusion, I think it’s important to note that I’m a firm proponent of the idea that if there is oatmeal in a cookie, it is completely acceptable to eat one (or three) for breakfast.

Cranberry Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Ingredients:

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-2 sticks of butter, room temperature

-2 eggs, room temperature

-1 cup brown sugar

-1/2 cup sugar

-1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

-3 cups of oats (I used quick oats)

-1 tsp vanilla extract

-1 ¼ tsp salt

-1 tsp baking soda

-1.5 cups white chocolate chips (I had to use non-chocolate white chips for this batch as my grocery store didn’t have any real white chocolate – but both taste wonderful!).

-1.5 to 2 cups dried cranberries (if you love cranberries, I suggest 2 cups).

Directions:

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line one to two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside (I find baking one sheet at a time results in a more evenly baked cookie)

-In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix well and set aside.

-With either a hand mixer or a standing mixer, combine the sugars and butter until well blended and creamy.

This is what the butter and sugar should look like when properly blended

This is what the butter and sugar should look like when properly blended

-Add each egg, one at a time and continue to mix until creamy.

-Pour in the vanilla and continue to mix.

This is what the dough should look like once the eggs and vanilla are added and blended

This is what the dough should look like once the eggs and vanilla are added and blended

-Slowly pour in the flour and mix until well incorporated.

-Add the oatmeal to the mixing bowl and mix until well blended.

-Pour in the white chocolate chips and cranberries and continue to blend until the ingredients are evenly incorporated. The picture below is what my finished dough looked like.

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-Measure out about a tablespoon of dough and place on the parchment paper/cookie sheet.

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-Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes (times will vary depending on oven)

-Once the cooking time has elapsed, take the cookie sheet out of the oven to cool. I slam my sheet down to let the cookies settle a bit. Sounds crazy, I know, but I like the look of a flatter cookie.

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-Let cool and enjoy!

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Homemade Dog Treats

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Remember the saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?” Well, the same goes for dogs—just ask my dog, Nora, a mini cockapoo and lover of socks, belly rubs, nooks, naps, and all things food (except spinach and apples). Nora is an elemental part of our family and she is undoubtedly one of the most spoiled dogs ever. There aren’t enough words to explain my love for this little furry being, so I won’t even begin to try. Seeing as baking is something I love to do for the ones I love, I can’t get over the fact that it took me this long to bake a homemade treat for my beloved Nora.

We’re not the sit-down-at-the-dinner-table types. Yes, we have a dining room table, although it only ever gets used for special occasions and thus accumulates household/personal crap. While I feel this is typical for most 20 somethings out there, it becomes problematic if you have a dog—and an agile one at that. My dog’s unremitting begs for bits of food can get annoying, albeit cute, yet they leave me feeling guilty for not letting her join in on the eating. Therefore, I figured it was definitely time to make/bake something for Nora that she could actually eat and enjoy herself.

Most of the homemade dog treats I referenced were extremely easy recipes, so I decided to make her two different kinds of treats: one with a peanut butter base and one a little bit more savory. The peanut butter treats are made of pumpkin puree, peanut butter, an egg, oats, and whole-wheat flour (If your dog is on a strict diet, brown rice flour is an alternative to whole wheat flour). To the human pallet, they don’t taste so hot, but your dog will love them–plus, they’re not loaded with unnecessary sugars found in other treats.

The savory dog treats consist only of whole-wheat flour and baby food. I used beef baby food and sweet potato baby food, but you could use any type of meat/vegetable baby food you think your dog would enjoy (just make sure there is no onion!!). Not sure what to give your canine? This is a great website for dos and don’ts concerning your dog’s food. And just remember, like with any other dog treat, let your pup indulge in moderation. These homemade treats can be larger than store bought ones, so we gave Nora (a small breed)  just half of each treat.

Nora absolutely loved her homemade dog treats and thought they were bowwow-wonderful. She didn’t leave my side in the kitchen while I was prepping and baking—it was almost as if she knew I was baking for her. She devoured both types of dog treats and was left wanting and begging for more. After Nora saw me put the treats in the pantry, she stood next to the pantry door for over 20 minutes until I turned the lights off and went to bed–something she’s never done before.

I’ve officially become that crazy dog lady and I’m proud of it!

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You’re making me treats, mom?!

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I’m a good dog, I deserve some treats! See, I can sit!

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These taste so much better than dog food!

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats

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Ingredients:

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-1 cup of pumpkin puree

-1 egg

-1.5 tbsp peanut butter (smooth)

-1/4 cup oats (I used quick oats)

-1.5 cups of whole-wheat flour

Directions:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-In a bowl, mix together the flour and oats. Set aside.

-In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, egg, and peanut butter. Mix until well incorporated.

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-Stir the flour and oats into the peanut butter/pumpkin mixture until well incorporated.

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-On a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough.

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-Cut out your desired pieces. With a fork, poke holes in the middle and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

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-Cook for 25-30 minutes.

-Let cool for at least ten minutes before serving to your furry best friend.

Beef and Sweet Potato Dog Treats

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Ingredients:

-1 cup whole-wheat flour

-2 tbsp sweet potato puree or sweet potato baby food (I used the baby food – much easier and timely).

-6 tbsp beef baby food (I could only find beef with gravy and it worked out fine. Just make sure whichever baby food you use does NOT have onions in it).

*You can use any mixture of baby food/puree as you choose—chicken, turkey, etc., just make sure you have at least 4 oz. of puree for one cup of flour.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine the wet ingredients with the flour.

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-Stir until well combined and dough has formed.

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-On a lightly floured surface and with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to about ¼ of an inch thick.

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-Either with a cookie cutter or a knife, cut out your desired shape. With a fork, poke holes in the middle and then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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-Bake for 20 minutes and let cook for at least ten minutes before serving to your dog.

*Note: I didn’t use all of my dough and chose to freeze the leftover dough to use at a later time. These treats aren’t packed with preservatives, so use them within one week or so.

And a plate full of homemade dog treats leaves a happy doggy begging for more and a happy mom for knowing exactly what’s in those dog treats!

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But I want more? Can’t I have more? Aren’t I cute enough for just one more treat?

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My, Oh My, It’s Pie, Pie, Pie!

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“I don’t like pie,” said no one ever. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but one of the many reasons pie is so awesome is that it comes in many forms, satisfying the palette of even the pickiest of eaters.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a sweet type of pie, however, there are few things in life that can compare to a savory, meaty pie.  My mom’s meat pie recipe was such a success in this house that I just have to share it – but I couldn’t share only one pie recipe…

With fall in full swing (woohoo!), my kitchen has quickly become pie headquarters, where both savory and sweet pie recipes have been baked and enjoyed. Hence, I thought why not dedicate an entire blog post to pie? And don’t let the numbers fool you – three baked pies are greater than 3.14 (please, please, get my math joke).

Since coming into this world, my nickname has been — and will forever be — Pumpkin Pie. You can credit my impressive infant body weight for the name.  If I hear “pumpkin pie” in a public place, I immediately turn around expecting to see some close family member or friend. Despite my hatred for pumpkin pie as a kid (blame the nickname!), my adult pallet can’t get enough of the stuff – especially when there is a streusel/crisp topping involved. Yum. So there is pie number two.

Pie number three is actually somewhat crust-less and is what I call a deep-dish apple pie. Instead of crust, you pour a sweet batter over the apples that are smothered in sugar and cinnamon. It’s like a big snicker doodle cookie with apples in the middle. It’s a quick and easy pie to make that has traditional apple pie flavor, but with a sugary/buttery twist.

And lastly, I figured with all this pie talk, the least I could do was throw in a homemade pie crust recipe. It’s an extremely easy recipe that even the most inexperienced baker can perfect. The dough can be used within 30 minutes (after it’s cooled), or it can be frozen and used at a later time. Just don’t nibble on too much of the dough or you may not have enough for your pie.

Meat Pie/French Canadian Tourtiere

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Ingredients:

*Note that the following recipe makes one 9-inch meat pie, but it’s extremely easy to double the recipe and make two pies (meat pie tastes just as good a few days later – just warm the pie back up in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes).

-2 pie crusts (a homemade pie crust recipe is mentioned below, but just know you can use store bought crusts – I have before and they turn out just as tasty)

-1 lb. of ground meat of your choice (I used a mixture of ground bison and ground beef, but ground pork, turkey, and veal can also be used)

-2 cloves of garlic, minced

-1 small to medium onion, chopped

-1 medium potato, peeled and grated (I grated the potato in a food processor; if you don’t have a food processor, chop the potatoes as finely as possible)

-1/8 tsp clove

-1/8 tsp cinnamon

-1/8 tsp ginger

-1/8 tsp parsley

-1/8 tsp sage

-1/8 tsp + an extra pinch thyme

-4 tbsp milk (for coating the pie crust)

-Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

-Place all the ingredients except the pie crusts and the milk in a large pot. Pour in enough water that the contents are just barely submerged. Adjust your stovetop burner to low to medium heat.

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-Put the pot on the burner, and break up the ground meat and stir the contents.

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-Cover the pot with a lid and let simmer for 30 minutes. Do NOT lift the lid during cooking time. The picture below is what my meat looked like when done.

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-While the meat simmers, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place one of the pie crusts in a pie dish and set aside.

-After the contents have simmered for 30 minutes, strain and RESERVE the liquid. (I strained the meat mixture over a large bowl). Set the liquid aside.

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-Place and spread the meat mixture over the bottom pie crust in the pie dish.

-Pour the liquid over the meat. You want to level the liquid with the top of the ground meat.

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-Cover the pie with the second piecrust.

-Brush the top crust with milk.

-Prick the top crust with a fork for venting (at least five times)

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-Bake on the bottom rack of your oven at 450 degrees for ten minutes.

-After ten minutes, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and cook the pie for another 20 minutes.

-Let the pie sit for a half hour or so prior to serving because you want the meat  and crust to continue absorbing the liquid (If you don’t wait a half hour, your pie will be mushy).

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Pumpkin Pie Crisp

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Streusel/Crisp Topping Ingredients:

-1/2 cup all-purpose flour

-1/3 cup sugar

-2 tbsp brown sugar

-1/2 tsp cinnamon

-1/2 tsp pumpkin spice

-4 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces.

Streusel/Crisp Topping Directions:

-In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients.

-With a fork or a pastry blender, blend the ingredients until the contents are well incorporated and the butter is evenly distributed. There should be pea-sized sugary, butter balls. You may have a few chunks, but that’s okay.

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-See the pie filling directions for the topping instructions.

Pie Filling Ingredients:

-1 pie crust (if you want to do the braided crust, I recommend the amount equal to two pie crusts)

-3/4 cup granulated sugar

-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

-1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

-2 large eggs, beaten

-1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree

-1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk (I used fat free, but the typical recipe uses regular evaporated milk)

Pie Filling Directions:

-Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

-Place the piecrust in the pie dish and set aside.

-In a bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves. Set aside.

-In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs.

-In the large bowl with the eggs, stir in the pumpkin puree and sugar and spices mixture until well incorporated.

-Slowly stir in the evaporated milk (If you’re using non-fat evaporated milk, I recommend letting the pie filling set in the refrigerator for a half hour.).

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-Pour the pumpkin mixture into the piecrust.

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-Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

-After the 15 minutes has elapsed, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 40 minutes (times vary depending on oven).

-Remove the pie and let sit for about five minutes, but keep the oven on!

-Carefully, sprinkle the streusel topping over the pie until you have your desired amount.

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-Put the pumpkin pie crisp back in the oven and cook for another ten to fifteen minutes (again, times will vary. If the pie looks like it’s burning, trust your judgment and take it out).

-Let the pie cool for at least an hour and a half before serving. Enjoy!

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Deep Dish Apple Pie

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Ingredients:

-6-8 medium apples, peeled, sliced, and halved

-3.5 tsp cinnamon (this is for the sugar/cinnamon mixture that will sprinkle the apples. If you prefer more cinnamon, go ahead and adjust the spice to your preference)

-1 cup sugar + 4 tbsp sugar to mix with the cinnamon

-1 cup flour

-1.5 sticks of butter (margarine can be substituted), melted

-1 egg

Directions:

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

-Fill a 9 inch pie dish (mine is actually 9.5) with about half of the peeled, sliced apples. You can also use an 8×9 inch square baking dish.

-Combine the cinnamon and 4 tbsp sugar and sprinkle half of the mixture over the apples.

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-Pile on the rest of the apples until just about overflowing. You may have some leftover apple pieces.

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-Sprinkle the remainder of the sugar and cinnamon until the apples are completely covered.

-In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, beaten egg, 1 cup of flour, and 1 cup of sugar. Mix together quickly until well incorporated.

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-Immediately pour the buttery/sugar/floury mixture over the apples. Pour as carefully and evenly as possible over the apples. Try to completely cover the apples with the batter. The batter does NOT spread with a spatula very well, so pouring correctly is critical (it’s not rocket science, though).

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-Bake for 30-40 or until the crust starts to brown.

-Let cool for 15 minutes before serving. You can serve this pie warm or cool. Enjoy!

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Homemade Pie Crust

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Pie Crust Ingredients:

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*Makes two 9” pie crusts

-2.5 cups all-purpose flour

-1 tablespoon sugar (optional if you’re making a crust for a savory pie)

-1 teaspoon kosher salt

-1 cup/2 sticks of cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

-6-8 tbsp ice cold water (you may use less, just depends on how the dough works itself)

Pie Crust Directions

-In a large, cold bowl, (I filled my with ice water ten minutes prior to using, but you can always refrigerate the bowl in advance) mix together the flour, salt, and sugar.

-Add in the butter pieces.

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-With a fork or a pastry blender, cut into the flour and butter until the mixture forms into a variety size of crumbs.

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-Pour in the 2 tbsp of water and quickly fold into the dough (I used a baking spoon). Pour in another 2 tbsp of water and repeat folding the water into the dough.

-Continue adding water, a tbsp at a time, and folding it into the dough until the contents stick together and are moist enough that it looks like dough instead of a heap of flour crumbs. The picture below is what my dough looked like when ready.

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-With your hands, work the dough and separate it into two equal parts.

-Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for a half hour to cool.

-After a half hour, take a rolling pin and roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and bake accordingly with your pie recipe’s directions.

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-To create a braided dough perimeter, roll out some of the pie dough in a long and thin shape. With a knife, cut out three pieces of dough in equal length and proceed to carefully braid the dough. You won’t have enough to do one long braid, so repeat the directions 2 to 3 more times, or until your pie dish perimeter is complete!

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