Today’s post is going to be short, sweet and to the point. I’ve got a few tarts to make (tee hee hee), some travel stories to write, a million photos to edit and a workout to somehow squeeze in. It’s a day where I’d much rather trade places with Oscar, who seems to be living the dream at the moment.
So instead of a recipe, I thought I’d share something we all love during the holiday season, GIFTS!! Giving is my favorite part of the season. I love picking out things I know the people in my life will love and seeing their eyes and smiles widen as they unwrap it. There’s really no better feeling in the entire world.
Because I can’t give every single one of you a gift (I haven’t won the lottery, yet) I’m giving you guys something just as a nice, a chance to win an AMAZING knife and a set of my favorite graters in the entire world.
Image via Williams Sonoma.
One of you lucky readers will win avWüsthof Classic Nakiri Knife (valued at $150) and a Microplane Artisan Zester Set (valued at $40). I’m not lying when I say I use these zesters and graters EVERY SINGLE DAY and this knife has become my go-to when I’m chopping, slicing and mincing.
To enter, simply fill out the prompts below! Good luck! Giveaway ends November 11 at midnight.
This post is generously sponsored by Wüsthof and Microplane. However, all opinions are my own.
You know what never happens? I never overestimate (or underestimate) the sizes of things online and then act completely stupefied when the items arrive and they are insanely bigger/smaller than I had imaged.
That just NEVER HAPPENS.
I definitely did not mean to buy a jumbo muffin pan but bought a king size one instead, thinking they’re clearly the same thing. News flash, friends. The jumbo muffin is the king size muffins TINY & VERY MUCH SMALLER brother. Think a 5 year old and a 13 year old, that kind of difference.
You know what else never happens? I never stubbornly decide to keep said muffin pan or too tight jeans and force them to work despite them being completely wrong for the situation. Never. I don’t still squeeze my feet into boots that are 1/2 size too small because I’m too stubborn/lazy/proud to return them for the proper size.
That’s why the most gigantic muffins in the galaxy are in front of your face right now. After receiving said muffin pan, I refused to return it out of a principle I’ve since forgotten and instead made muffins the size of my small dog. And here’s something else that simply never happens either. I never tell myself not to eat a giant muffin the size of my face but then devour two. That simply doesn’t happen either.
Since most normal people don’t have a muffin pan that would fit infants, I tailored my recipe to adjust to a jumbo size pan. If you want to make baby size muffins, by all means, go at it. And wear stretchy pants. And don’t be ashamed when you eat the entire one, they’re just that good.
Jumbo Cranberry & Blackberry Muffins
RECIPE NOTE: The muffins pictured are king size, but the recipe tailors to a more standard jumbo size pan. To make king size, simply purchase this pan and double the recipe listed.
Yields 8 jumbo size muffins (or 3 king size muffins). Adapted from Taste of Home.
Prep time: 10 – 15 minutes
Cook time: 23 – 25 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup 1% or skim milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/4 cups fresh blackberries
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh cranberries*
*Sub in dried for a less tart muffin or alternate with your other favorite fruits. You can also omit and add in a full 2 cups blackberries.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a standard jumbo size muffin pan with jumbo muffin liners (I love these reusable silicone ones) and set aside. If making king size, spray your king size muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, applesauce, brown sugar, honey and eggs, one at a time, until fully combined. Whisk in the milk and vanilla.
- In another bowl, whisk the flours and baking powder together. Add the flour to the batter 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Stir until just moistened.
- Add the blackberries and gently fold in, careful not to squish or make them bleed. Then fold in the cranberries.
- Pour the batter into the muffin liners (or directly into the muffin pan for king size), filling about 3/4 the way full.
- Bake for about 23 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Nutritional information per JUMBO muffin (or 1/2 King size):
Fat: 7.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 52 grams
Fiber: 2.5 grams
Protein: 6.5 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 8
I have an addiction, and it’s commonly known as horror movie-itis. And now that Halloween is just 2 days away, I’m binging as much as possible. As in, the only thing I can have on when I’m home is something scary. But this is not news to anyone who knows me, I’ve been addicted to “being scared” since I was 5 years old.
As much as I love horror movies, scary decorations and haunted stories, I will not step into a haunted house, real or fake. In fact, we bought tickets to a haunted house, drove there and then I couldn’t go in. I mean, I could watch The Shining and Nightmare on Elm Street 15 times in one day, but can’t walk into a haunted house.
That’s something for my therapist, I s’pose. But I do have these dreams of being on one of those ghost hunters shows. You know the ones I’m talking about, where they take this “serious” looking equipment into haunted asylums and try to talk to the ghosts of the past. Even though I’d probably need to be heavily xanaxed, the thought of staying overnight in some massively haunted asylum is kind of enticing.
So maybe that’s my calling, be the next “Ghost Hunter” on SyFy. Actually, let me rethink that. Maybe I should just stick to my original calling, making delicious recipes like this insanely easy pumpkin french toast while I have ridiculous horror movies on in the background.
That sounds so much safer and doesn’t involve the demons and ghosts of old psycho doctors and demented patients.
Insanely Easy Pumpkin French Toast
Serves about 4.
Prep time: 8 – 10 minutes
Cook time: About 6 – 8 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
- 1/2 loaf of Italian bread
- 3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup low-fat milk (I used 1%)
- 1/4 cup light cream
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 2 – 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Maple syrup
- Low-fat whipped cream
- Slice the italian bread into thick slices, about 8 – 10 pieces.
- In a large bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree, eggs, milk, cream and pumpkin pie spice.
- Melt the butter into a large skillet over medium high heat. Liberally dredge each slice of bread into the bowl to evenly coat. Place in the butter and cook until browned or golden on both sides, about 3 – 4 minutes on each side.
- Stack the french toast and drizzle with maple syrup. Add whipped cream for garnish.
Nutritional information per serving (about 2 slices):
Fat: 11 grams
Carbohydrates: 19.5 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Protein: 9.75 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 5
I’ve made pumpkin biscuits, pumpkin coffee cake, 42-calorie pumpkin cookies, pumpkin lasagna and even pumpkin chili, but I’ve never made a simple loaf of good old fashioned pumpkin bread. And after a recent trip to the Pumpkin Patch where they were selling one loaf of pumpkin bread for OVER 7 DOLLARS, I thought, hey, no better time than now to make my own.
Because $7 dollars for a small loaf of bread? Ain’t nobody got time for that. We’re not in the movie Contagion, there is no need to have bread cost more than $3.
The reason I haven’t made my own pumpkin quick bread is kind of shameful, actually. My husband and I love the Pillsbury pumpkin quick bread mix. Like, seriously love it. It’s so easy to make and tastes pretty amazing. Plus, at the end of the day after making 4+ recipes for work, sometimes I don’t want to cook for the two of us. Sometimes I just want to eat bread that I don’t have to measure and can be done in less than 20 minutes.
But as my slightly pudgy belly will tell you, prepackaged bread mixes are filled with things I don’t know and aren’t doing any favors for my already tight jeans. So in a continued effort to lose weight (6 pounds down, only 14 more to go!), I thought I’d make my own and lighten it up.
This bread is so soft, so fluffy and so filled with rich pumpkin flavor, you won’t even know it’s got more than half the fat as regular bread (even my trusted Pillsbury recipe!) The best part, though, is that it’s just as easy as a box mix. So now I have absolutely no excuse to buy boxes of bread mix when I can just make this even better recipe at home.
As good as this bread is, I’d still never sell it for $7. Crazy rich Virginia people.
Easy Pumpkin Bread
Serves about 8 – 10. Inspired by Once Upon a Chef.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 65 – 70 minutes
Total time: 80 minutes
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup oat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Dash of salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
For the topping:
- 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a standard size loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- To make the bread, whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice together. In another bowl, beat the brown sugar, applesauce, butter and eggs, one at a time, until light, fluffy and fully mixed. Add the pumpkin puree and flour mixture, stir to combine.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for about 65 – 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan for about 5 – 10 minutes, then remove and completely cool on a wire cooling rack.
- Prepare the glaze by whisking the powdered sugar, cream and vanilla. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the loaf and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Serve with butter or your favorite topping.
Nutritional information per slice:
Fat: 8.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 49.3 grams
Fiber: 2.5 grams
Protein: 6.8 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 7
Today’s recipe, my friends, is a very indulgent one. But it’s pouring rain, dark and dreary and oh so chilly here, so let’s just have a little pizza today, okay?
Not just regular pizza, this one has a stuffed crust. In my defense, though, the cheese stuffed in the crust is part-skim, so that counts, right? I actually originally made this for work but they decided against another pizza recipe (which is crazy to me, because one can never have enough pizza) so instead of letting a perfectly good recipe go to waste, I thought I’d share it with you. I mean, what kind of person would I be if I let a cheesy and delicious pizza recipe go to the trash? A bad person, that’s who.
Plus, I’m kind of toying with the idea of changing things up around here. But that is something y’all already know, right? In addition to sharing a travel spotlight every week (starting tomorrow, Travel Thursday!) I’m thinking I might share a fun and indulgent recipe a few times a month too. Because sometimes, I eat stuffed crust pizza and I definitely don’t feel bad about it.
This blogging world is hard, sometimes. You have so many people telling you to stick to one niche and never branch out. And then there are others who say blog whatever you want since it’s your online world. I’m constantly torn between sharing recipes that I love to make (which aren’t healthy at all) and ones that are lower fat, lower calorie and fit with my whole theme.
But to be honest, I’m so different than I was when I started this blog. I’ve replaced my desire to get a masters in nutrition with one to attend culinary school abroad. I still eat healthfully most of the time and love making healthy foods delicious, but I also love baking with butter and stuffed my pizza crust with cheese.Sometimes I’m not sure what to do and where to go with this blog. So in the meantime, I’m just going to have a little fun and share every amazing recipe I make with you guys, even if it’s not skinny, healthy or low fat.
Because who wants to eat like that EVERY DAY? (Says the girl eating a spoonful of peanut butter for breakfast).
Stuffed Crust Pepperoni Pizza
Serves 8 – 10.
Prep time: 10 – 12 minutes
Cook time: 16 – 18 minutes
For the crust:
- 1 package of active dry yeast (0.25 ounce package)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Dash of salt
- 7 part skim mozzarella cheese sticks
For the toppings:
- 1/2 cup your favorite pizza sauce
- 2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 16 – 20 slices of turkey pepperoni
- Crushed red pepper
- In a large bowl, mix the yeast, honey and warm water together. Let sit for about 10 minutes, or until foamy. Add in the flour and olive oil and stir until a soft dough forms. Sprinkle the flour on a hard surface and knead with floured hands until soft and elastic, about 4 – 6 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Roll the dough out to 12 – 14 inches using a floured rolling pin. Grease a 12 inch pizza pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust with a bit of cornmeal.
- Place the cheese sticks around the inside edges of the crust, leaving a one-inch border on the outside. Carefully roll the dough over the cheese sticks and press tightly into the other dough to secure. You want the cheese sticks to be completely covered by dough and the edges pressed down tightly.
- Spread the pizza sauce over the center of the crust. Top with mozzarella cheese and crushed red pepper. Decorate with the turkey pepperoni.
- Bake for 14 – 18 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.
Nutritional information per slice:
Fat: 12.2 grams
Carbohydrates: 24.4 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Protein: 16.2 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 8