Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodle Cookies

Holy grail of snickerdoodle cookies (yay!) Soft, chewy and buttery thanks to a half-and-half mixture of butter and shortening.

For the cookies:

  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup shortening, butter flavored
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the sugar-spice coating:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, cream together butter, and white and brown sugars. Add egg and vanilla extract; mix until combined.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt.
  • Add dry mixture to wet mixture, in three increments, beating well after each addition. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least an hour or longer.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper or silpat.
  • Mix the sugar-spice ingredients together in a small dish. Using a cookie scoop, scoop dough and roll balls of dough in sugar-spice mixture. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until set.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet for only a minute or two and then transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Valerie’s Kitchen.

Banana Bread (with Coconut Flour)

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium bananas, ripened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare a baking pan with parchment paper or grease generously.
  3. Mash the bananas until smooth.
  4. Add eggs, maple syrup and vanilla to mashed bananas and blend well.
  5. Add baking soda, salt, pumpkin spice, cinnamon and coconut flour to the wet batter and blend well.
  6. Let the batter sit for 5+ minutes to give the coconut flour time to absorb the liquids.
  7. Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for 50 minutes or until the top begins to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
  8. Let bread cool before slicing.

Recipe adapted from Comfy Belly.

Couscous Tuna Salad

One of the easiest dishes, ever! We used one pot to boil the couscous and another large bowl to throw all of the ingredients in. Matt and I agree that this makes the perfect potluck dish! For future reference, we think adding feta cheese and a splash of anchovy juice will take this to a whole new (salty and briny) level.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1 (7-ounce) can of tuna packed in olive oil, drained and flaked
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp capers, drained
  • ½ cup pitted, oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, lightly packed and julienned
  • Handful of arugula leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Red chili flakes, optional

Directions:

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Add the couscous and reduce the heat to very low. Cover the pot and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until the couscous is just tender. (I pull the pot halfway off the heat.) Drain in a colander.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the tuna, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, capers, olives, tomatoes, garlic, scallion, basil, arugula, salt, black pepper and red chili flakes in a large bowl.
  3. Pour the hot couscous into the mixture and stir well. Cover and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, taste for seasonings and serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Full Fork Ahead.

Everyday Chocolate Cake

I’ve had this chocolate cake recipe saved in my Pocket for ages and now have finally gotten around to baking it! This recipe is definitely not as sweet and not as moist as last week’s spicy chocolate bundt cake, but if you’ve got chocolate-y cravings, this makes the perfect snack!

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup AP flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup chocolate chips, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 325 F. Grease a 9”x5” loaf pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. Mix in the vanilla and buttermilk.
  4. In three batches, stir in dry ingredients into wet ingredients, until incorporated.
  5. Pour batter into loaf pan. Add additional toppings (chocolate chips, nuts, etc.) on top. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean.
  6. Cool the cake in loaf pan for 10 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Collaborative Curry.

Natural Peanut Butter Cookies

One of the easiest, most delicious peanut butter cookies I have ever made. The only bummer with using natural peanut butter is that this this produces an extremely oily cookie! I am definitely looking forward to trying Ovenly’s recipe next!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, beat together the peanut butter and sugar.
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined.
  3. Wrap cookie dough in cling wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheet with Silpat, set aside.
  5. Use a medium cookie scoop and drop mounds onto the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges just start to brown.
  7. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to wire rack.

Recipe adapted from Little Sweet Baker.

Spicy Chocolate Bundt Cake

This past weekend, Sandra and Michael prepared a delicious chipotle-lime glazed pork loin for lunch. Matt and I made a chocolate bundt cake for dessert!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 cups AP flour, sifted
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Mexican vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10 or 12-cup Bundt pan and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa powder, salt, and coffee and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring, just until melted and combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and cayenne. Add half of the melted butter mixture and whisk until completely blended. The mixture will be thick. Add the remaining butter mixture and whisk until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until completely blended. Whisk in the sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and the vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto a rack. Let cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar.

Recipe Notes: Next time, I would increase the cayenne powder by another 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon to kick up the heat!

Roasted Banana Pecan Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large bananas, roasted and mashed
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. Maker’s Mark whisky
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with non-stick spray; set aside.
  2. Place bananas on a baking sheet and roast, with peels on, for 15-20 minutes. They will darken and blister. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  4. Remove roasted bananas from peels, placing the insides in a medium bowl. Mash the bananas.
  5. To the bananas, add: maple syrup, honey, melted coconut oil, milk, eggs, whisky and vanilla extract. Mix together until combined.
  6. Add liquid mixture to the flour mixture – gently fold until combined. Then fold in chopped pecans. Be careful not to overmix.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

Notes: This bread is not super sweet – in fact, roasting the bananas imparts an interesting deep, savory flavor. This is a perfect breakfast cake (it’s kinda healthy!) to be enjoyed with coffee in the morning, or feel free to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to make it an indulgent dessert!

Recipe adapted from: Two Peas and Their Pod, Cookie and Kate, Tutti Dolci

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

For Memorial Day weekend, Sandrita and I prepped some more slow-cooker tacos! We enjoyed these tacos with homemade refried beans from Sandra’s mother, red salsa, Green Dragon Sauce from Trader Joe’s, and chips and guac. Nothing beats a lazy Sunday afternoon with good food and great company.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (2-3 pound) lean boneless pork roast, excess fat trimmed, cut into 3-inch chunks
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ medium white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • ½ tablespoon chipotle powder
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ tablespoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add the pork and sear on each side until browned (about 1-2 minutes per side). Transfer pork to the slow cooker.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker, and give the mixture a stir to combine. Cook on high for 4-5 hours until the pork is completely tender and shreds easily with a fork.
  3. Once the pork is cooked, set oven to broil and prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Use two forks to shred the meat into bite-sized pieces, and then use a slotted spoon to transfer it to the prepared baking sheet, spreading the pork in an even layer and leaving the juices behind in the slow cooker – do not discard juices.
  4. Place baking sheet under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until the edges of the pork begin browning and crisping up. Remove the sheet from the oven, then ladle about 1/4 cup of the juices from the slow cooker evenly over the pork, and then toss using tongs. Broil for an additional 5 minutes to get the meat more crispy. Then remove and ladle an additional 1/4 cup of broth over the crispy pork.
  5. Serve immediately.

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta!

I had every intention of keeping up this blog with all the baked and cooked deliciousness happening in my life… and totally forgot about it until my wonderful boyfriend reminded me of its existence yesterday evening. I apologize to my very limited audience and will try my darnedest to record what’s happening in the kitchen. Otherwise, dare I say it, we might have to resort to our memories and tummies for all that I made in 2016…!

My lovely roomie Sandra and I were on last-minute kick to celebrate Cinco de Mayo properly. We had a fun lady date of margaritas and fajitas at El Tiempo the week before since we did not want to deal with the craziness of waiting and grabbing a table the day-of. Anyhow, like all sporadic events that our crazy minds dream of, we roped in our boyfriends, grabbed decorations, and cooked up a storm!

Sandra and Michael had a wonderful time exploring a nearby pinata shop and grabbing papel picado and our burro. (Later in the evening, the burro was beat up by all of us with a rolling pin.)

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Cinco de Mayo fiesta at La Casita de Sylandra.

On the menu:

I also made my first official attempt at making Tres Leches Cake using a combination of recipes. Here’s the final, below:

Tres Leches Cake

For the three milks mixture:

  • (1) 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • (1) 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk / maybe cajeta?
  • ¼ – ½ cup half and half
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 2 Tablespoons rum
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

For the cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • ¾ + ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup milk

For the frosting:

  • 12 oz. Cool Whip
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Instructions:

  1. Whisk together evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, half and half, cinnamon and cardamom in a saucepan over medium heat. Allow to just warm, cover and place in fridge for two hours. Stir in rum.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13″ pan.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Mix egg yolks and ¾ cup sugar in a stand mixer on medium-high speed until yolks are pale yellow and doubled in volume, about 4 minutes. Add milk and vanilla and beat until just combined. Pour egg yolk mixture over flour mixture and stir gently to combine.
  5. Rinse and dry mixing bowl and beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer on, add ¼ cup sugar and continue beating until egg whites are stiff but not dry.
  6. Gently fold egg whites into batter. Don’t over mix – stop stirring just before everything is mixed together.
  7. Spread the batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely.
  8. Poke holes all over top of cake using a skewer or fork. Slowly pour milk mixture over cake, getting it all around the edges and evenly coating the surface. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  9. Whip together Cool Whip, cream cheese and powdered sugar. Spread onto cake. Serve with maraschino cherries or fresh fruits of your choice.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. bag of Trader Joe’s riced cauliflower
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place the riced cauliflower in a glass bowl and microwave for 4 minutes. Leave the cauliflower in bowl and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, pour onto a clean dish towel, wrap up and squeeze out as much water as possible.
  4. Dump the cauliflower back into the bowl. Now add salt, basil, oregano, garlic powder, chili flakes, cheeses and egg. Mix until combined.
  5. On a baking sheet with oiled parchment paper, form the dough into a crust using your hands.
  6. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 8–11 minutes, until the crust starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven.
  7. For our pizza, we used: jarred puttanesca sauce from TJ’s, sliced fresh mozzarella, Kalamata olives and capers, however, feel free to use whatever sauce/cheese/toppings you want! Slide the topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 5–7 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly golden.

Recipe notes: Matt and I will most likely consider using jarred pizza sauce (with anchovy juice) when we make this again. While baking, the puttanesca sauce released quite a bit of liquid!