Confetti Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

Sprinkle sugar cookies

So, yesterday, I totally had one of those panic realizations that Halloween is this month.  How did I forget something like that!?  This year has been going by so quickly, I can’t seem to keep up with the time!  Before we know it, there will be snow on the ground!  Although, I must admit, I am pretty excited to decorate our new place for Christmas.  Yes, I am weird like that.  I can’t help it, I love Christmas lights!

sprinkle sugar cookies

So, about these cookies.  Aren’t they just adorable?  What is it about sprinkles that makes everything cuter?  These sugar cookies are soft, chewy and just down-right delicious.  The rainbow sprinkles could definitely be exchanged for some holiday themed sprinkles.  Red, green and white for Christmas anyone?

Confetti Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

Yield: about 30 cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Mix in the dry ingredients with the on low speed just until incorporated.  Fold in the sprinkles with a spatula.

Scoop the dough into balls, about 2 tablespoons each.  Space them evenly on the baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the cookies are just set and the edges are barely browned, about 15-16 minutes.  Let cool briefly on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

It’s October!  Time to embrace apple season!!  I always look forward to apple pies, among other things.  Last year, I made an apple pie with caramel sauce.  Drizzling it over the pie is great, but I thought- why not mix it in with the pie filling?  Brilliant!  And I just had to make my favorite vanilla bean caramel sauce, but I put a twist on it.  I added more salt so we’ve got the sweet and salty thing going on here.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

This pie is fabulous.  It is beyond fabulous.  The sauce just makes it over the top.  And, I couldn’t resist drizzling it over the top of the pie either.  I made the same pie recipe since it’s my favorite.  This brings a basic, delicious apple pie above and beyond.  It’s a great way to dive into apple season!

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Yield: 1 apple pie

  • dough enough for two crusts
  • 5-6 medium/large apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon cold water (for egg wash)
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce made with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more for drizzling

Directions

On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pie dough into approximately a 12-inch round.  (Keep the other half of the pie dough chilled for now.)  Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, trimming the excess.  Place in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced apples, sugars, flour, spices, lemon juice and caramel sauce.  Toss well to combine.  When the bottom crust is finished chilling, pour the apple mixture and accumulated juices into the bottom pie crust and use a spatula to even the top out slightly.  Dot the surface of the apples with the pieces of cold butter.  Roll out the remaining pie dough on a floured work surface. Roll out large enough to cover the pie. Cut out shapes in the center with a mini cookie cutter, slice to make a lattice top, or cut a few slits in the top for steam to escape. Crimp the edges from the bottom and top crust together. Brush the top and edges of the crust with the egg wash.

Place the pie on a baking sheet (to catch the overflow. Trust me, you don’t want that on the bottom of your oven) and bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 50 minutes. If the edges are browning too quickly, make a ring of tinfoil over the edge or use a pie ring to cover the sides. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.  Serve warm or at room temperature with a drizzling of caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Source: Pie filling adapted from Annie’s Eats

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna soup

Our weather has been flip-flopping between warm and chilly.  For a while there, the days and nights were really beginning to feel like proper fall.  I even had to break out the down comforters for the beds, because I was getting cold at night.  The air was smelling so crisp and clear.  Sigh… I love Fall.

But, now, we are back to late summer temperatures again.  Muggy, and somewhat warm.  Thank you New England!  Be as it may, I still am craving soups.  I thought that a great way to kick-off soup season would be with this killer looking lasagna soup.  I mean really.  Tomatoes, noodles, hamburger and cheese?  You can’t go wrong!

Lasagna soup

My husband thoroughly dislikes ricotta cheese, so I opted not to put in the cheesy mixture.  Instead, I did a mixture of cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, served along side a hunk of crusty bread.  It was fabulous.  The kids loved it, we loved it.  It was a great, hearty dish for a chilly evening.  I look forward to making this again this winter.

Lasagna Soup

Yield: 8-10 servings

For the soup

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 lbs. hamburger
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons. dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cup chicken stock
  • 8 oz.  fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Cheese topping
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add hamburger, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 8 minutes.  Stir in onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes.  Then, stir in the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.  Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir until hamburger is coated.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns slightly brown.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente.  Stir in the fresh basil, salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the bay leaves, and serve in individual bowls, and top with a sprinkling of each cheese.

Source: Adapted from 300 Sensational Soups, via A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

Kitchen Reveal! (Almost done)

before

(Before picture.  Please excuse the mess, I was in the middle of baking about 5 things.  And of course, it was just before I painted the walls, so there is tape everywhere.)

before

So, I have been mentioning, here and there, about how I have been totally revamping our kitchen.  We moved into our house in the middle of May this year, and we have been slowly chipping away at upgrading the house.  It was built in 1910 with lots of great character.  But, it also has horse-hair plaster walls, sloped floors and very out-of-date wall paper, rugs, cabinets, paint colors.  But- I am totally okay with that.  I love the idea of slowly changing things, and making it our own.  My husband and I (mostly my husband), did a total wallpaper overhaul before we moved in.  It took him two weeks straight of removing wallpaper from three rooms, repairing walls, sanding then painting.  He took the day shift, then after the kids were in bed, I would come over and take the night shift of painting and cleaning.  It was exhausting, but oh so worth it.  We got the bigger things done before we moved in so we didn’t have to live around the mess of wallpaper pieces everywhere.

before

before

Since the kitchen is my place, my sanctuary, and where I spend a lot of my time, I was determined to re-do it this summer.  The walls were bright yellow with outdated, wooden cabinets.  Just yuck.  I couldn’t stand the room.  We didn’t want to replace all the cabinets because that gets costly, very quickly.  I was set-on doing it myself to save as much money as possible.  So, I did some serious research on the internet, and talked to some friends, about how to go about painting my cabinets.  I really don’t like, or have the time, to do thorough sanding.  So, after probably two months of research and finding pictures on Pinterest as inspiration, I decided to get to work.  I ended up making my own chalk paint for the cabinets.  There are several different recipes online, but I roughly did 1/3 cup plaster of paris, 1/3 cup water, then 1 cup Behr eggshell paint.  I did three coats on all the cabinets, then I did two coats of poly-acrylic, crystal clear formula that is water based (oil based would make the white cabinets yellow over time).  (If you don’t know about chalk paint, then you need to research it!! You don’t have to do any sanding, or at least very minimal, depending on the surface you are painting.  It goes on so thick and smooth- I loved it!)

after kitchen

(After!!!)

I started by painting the walls.  Even after finishing one wall with white paint, it made a world of difference.  (I used Behr Ultra paint- eggshell, ambiance white- for the record!)  Then, I took the top cabinet doors off.  I placed them on a big table in the shed and got to work.  I didn’t paint the inside of the cabinets, because I didn’t think it was necessary.  Just the inside/outside of the doors and the outside of the cabinets.  I did the top cabinets first, got them all hung back on, then started on the lower ones.  Considering I was still using the kitchen full time, I didn’t want to overwhelm myself in trying to do it all at once.  In the days of waiting for doors to dry (we had about two weeks of fog and damp days while I was trying to do this!), I painted the trim.  I used Behr Ultra, semi-gloss, silver drop.  It is the same color as my dining room, and I totally love it.  It is a very light gray.  And for the blue cabinets, I used Behr Ultra eggshell- admiral blue (keep in mind, I made it into chalk paint).  The upper cabinets, I did the same color as the walls, just as chalk paint.

Before I painted the lower cabinets, my husband removed one cabinet and installed a dishwasher.  What a world of difference that has made!!  After I painted the cabinets, we installed handles.  It dresses them up a lot.  Some other additions we made are, I purchased two lights from Etsy for the kitchen.  One is a beautiful pendent chandelier, made of six vintage Kerr jars that I hung over the kitchen island.  That light, we were able to hook right into the wires that were already there (thanks to previous hideous neon lights), but the light over the sink is a plug in the wall with a switch on the cord.  I love both of the lights, and they were both reasonably priced.  Another favorite addition of mine are the four shelves placed on the wall.  I love how I can access my baking goods so easily.  And we can’t forget the killer island that was so generously given to me!  The island is where I do ALL my prep and mixing.  It is perfect to roll out pastries since the top is granite.  The addition of that beautiful cutting board given to me by the neighbors has made a great space to work as well.  I just love it all!

after kitchen

after kitchen

Overall- I am SO happy about the kitchen.  I just love being in there now.  When I say we are almost done, it’s because I still have several ideas for next year.  I plan on taking down a cabinet and creating open shelves for the dishes we use.  Also, we need to upgrade the thousand year-old fridge (ha!).  I think we may leave it in the cut-out space in the wall, but just frame it in to make it look nicer.  Also, distant future are new countertops and potentially new flooring.  But, for now, we are done!

after kitchen

after kitchen

after kitchen

Sorry that I have written a novel.  I am just so excited about it all, can’t your tell!?  I hope you enjoyed seeing where all my creations come out of.

*All opinions are my own, Behr doesn’t even know who I am, and the guys I purchased the lights from don’t know I am a blogger.

Baked Chicken Fingers

baked chicken fingers

Right now, my son is going through a bit of a non-eating phase.  All he ever wants is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, despite our best efforts.  (P.S- that is because all I ate/craved while pregnant with him were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!)  The rule in our household is, you eat what is put in front of you, or go hungry until the next meal.  No special, separate meals here!  Once in a while, I will gear a dinner toward the kids just to be fun and knowing that they will clean their plates.  It’s a win-win!

baked chicken fingers

This recipe is definitely for those chicken finger lover/picky kids.  I don’t usually like chicken fingers, although my kids definitely will devour them anytime.  But, when I tried these chicken fingers, I was converted.  They lack the sinking gut feeling of heavy grease, thanks to baking them instead.  The panko makes a wonderful crunchy exterior, but still holds in the moisture in the chicken to make it nice and tender.  Serve alongside a salad and your favorite dipping sauce, and any picky eater will be happy!  (Or non-picky too!)

Baked Chicken Fingers

Yield: 4-5 servings

  • 2 cups panko
  • 2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil, or canola or vegetable
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 3/4-inch strips
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 475ºF.

In a large skillet, combine the panko and oil over medium heat.  Cook until golden brown, stirring often, about 8-10 minutes.  Transfer to a shallow dish.  In another shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  In a third shallow dish, whisk together the egg whites, water, mustard and thyme.

Spray a wire rack with vegetable spray and place over a rimmed baking sheet.  Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper.  Dredge a piece or two of chicken in the flour until coated, then dip into the egg whites, then, press in the breadcrumbs to adhere to all sides.  Place on the greased wire rack.  Repeat with remaining chicken strips.

Spray the tops of the chicken lightly with vegetable spray, then place in the oven.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cooked through.  Serve with desired dipping sauces.

Source: Barely adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, Healthy Family Cookbook

Peach Vanilla Bean Pie

Peach Vanilla Bean Pie

Okay, I swear this is the last peach recipe for a while!  I just couldn’t resist sharing this recipe with you.  Vanilla beans are one of my favorite additions to any dessert.  They always add a great depth of flavor.  And, they can take any classic/plain dessert to a whole new level of greatness.  So, when I saw this recipe for a classic peach pie, I thought, why not incorporate vanilla beans!

Peach Vanilla Bean Pie

I don’t think I have ever actually made a peach pie.  So strange, I know.  Most likely because only in the last few years, I have discovered my love for peaches.  So, I was pretty excited to try this pie out.  Since the addition of vanilla beans to my favorite jam worked so well, I figured it would work well in this pie.  Boy, oh boy, I was definitely right!  This pie is pretty much like eating warm forkfuls of peach jam, sandwiched between a flaky, buttery crust.   Oh, and topped with whipped cream, of course.  I’ll wait while you go and make this pie.  Right now.

Peach Vanilla Bean Pie

Peach Vanilla Bean Pie

  • chilled pie dough for two crusts (homemade is definitely better, but store bought is acceptable)
  • 3 lbs. ripe peaches
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • Dash of ground nutmeg
  • 1 vanilla bean, split with the seeds removed
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoon cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water, for egg wash

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.  Roll out half of the pie dough to about a 12-inch round.  Transfer to a pie plate, then place in the refrigerator while making the filling.  In a large bowl, place the sugar with the vanilla bean seeds and rub together with your fingers until fragrant and evenly distributed.  Whisk in the cornstarch, flour and nutmeg.  Peel the peaches and slice them to 1/4-inch thick slices. Combine the peach slices with the sugar mixture.  Toss to coat.  Add in the lemon juice and stir until combined.

Remove the lined pie plate from the refrigerator and pour in the peach filling in an even layer.  Dot the top of the peaches with the pieces of cold butter.  Roll out the remaining pie dough to a 12-inch round.  Cut into strips with a pastry cutter or knife (a pizza cutter works well here too!) and weave together to form a lattice top.  Trim away excess dough and crimp the edges together to seal.  Lightly brush the top and edges of the pie dough with the egg wash.

Place the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips, then place in the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 350ºF and continue baking until the pie is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 40-50 minutes more.  Remove the pie to a wire rack and let cool until just warm, about 2 hours.  Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

Source: Roughly adapted from Annie’s Eats

Spiced Red Lentils with Rice

Dal with rice

So, you know those meals that aren’t exactly a showstopper, but taste amazing?  This is definitely one of those dishes.  It really doesn’t look very pretty, or maybe even appealing, but man oh man, it tastes soo good.  And, it makes the house smell amazing.  The red lentils become creamy, perfectly spiced, and just downright delicious.  I love to serve it over cooked white rice.

I have been trying to find recipes to use my fresh garden tomatoes that seem to just keep coming. (I am not complaining!)  This was a perfect way to incorporate many small ones.  This dish is a great, healthy, and quick meal for those busy weeknights.  And, it makes killer leftovers.  Win win!

Spiced Red Lentils with Rice

Yield: About 8-10 servings

For the spice mixture

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (if you like spicy, use more)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

For the lentils

  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil (or grapeseed, or canola oil)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils, picked through and rinsed
  • 12 ounces tomatoes, chopped (I used a combination of small romas and cherry tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter
  • salt and pepper
  • cooked white rice

Directions

In a small bowl, mix together the spice mixture.  In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Stir in the spice mixture and cook until fragrant, about 10 seconds.  Mix in the onion and cook until softened, 5-8 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the water and lentils and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer until the lentils are tender and resemble a thick purée, 20-25 minutes.

Off the heat, stir in the tomatoes, parsley, tomatoes, butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Stir gently until combined.  Adjust seasonings if necessary.  Serve over rice.

Source: Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen, Healthy Family Cookbook