Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pumpkin Favorites

Fall is by far my favorite time of the year. I’ll admit. I am a little nerdy when it comes to my love for this season. The weather…wearing boots with jeans….putting my orange fall mums out in front of the house, and finally… drinking that delectable and expensive Pumpkin Spice late from Starbucks! But what I love the most is cooking and baking anything with pumpkin. I mean, is this not the perfect season to do it?!  Although I’m aware of pumpkin being incorporated into savory dishes, the recipes I am sharing today are all sweet…and delicious. Last year, I shared a recipe for pumpkin empanadas and while I was putting the pieces together for this post, I thought, revisiting this recipe would be perfect. The second recipe I am sharing is for pumpkin muffins. I’ve tried a pumpkin muffin…or two, and really these muffins are moist and full of pumpkin deliciousness. These muffins are soooo good on their own, but the cinnamon cream cheese frosting and candied pecans only make them better! The last recipe I am sharing is one that I created in my kitchen, kind of by accident. I had ½ of a can of pumpkin puree left from trying out another pumpkin recipe I had seen online. Considering that I really did not want to throw it out, I decided I would add it to whatever I was making for breakfast or dinner that day. I ended up using the pumpkin puree and adding it to my pancake batter. It was so easy and a nice change to the ordinary pancakes that are whipped up for Sunday breakfast! These are my favorite pumpkin treats and they just may become some of yours too!

Pumpkin Empanadas

For complete Pumpkin Empanadas recipe refer back to Beef Empanadas post.

Source: Sweet,Spicy,and Sassy

Pumpkin Muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15 ounce can)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1.  Preheat oven to 350 and fill muffin tins with cupcake liners.
2. Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.
3. Divide batter among muffin cups, Fill 3/4th full and bake for 25 minutes.
Note: muffins may be either topped with one tablespoon of sugar mixed with cinnamon. Top muffins with the sugar cinnamon mix BEFORE putting them in the oven, or top muffins with cinnamon cream cheese frosting and candied pecans.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick of butter, room temperature
1 8 oz package of cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Splash of vanilla

Mix butter and cream cheese, cinnamon and vanilla first then add powdered sugar to the mix.

Candied Pecans
1 cup pecan halves
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Melt butter and sugar in a skillet. Add pecans and stir until all combined. Pour and spread pecans out onto wax paper to cool before serving.
Source: . Originally from American Club,in Kohler, Wisconsin via Gourmet Magazine.

Pumpkin Pancakes
½ cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons white granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Splash of vanilla
1-2 cups of pancake mix (I used Krusteaz Honey Wheat Pancake mix)

  1. In a small bowl combine pumpkin puree, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla and set aside.
  2. Prepare pancake batter according to the box. Fold in pumpkin mix and pour batter onto a warm griddle. Cook pancakes according to the box.
  3. Serve warm pancakes with maple syrup and your favorite toppings.

Source: Sweet,Spicy,and Sassy

Monday, September 2, 2013

Zucchini And Shrimp Stir Fry

There is this little farmers market down the street from my house that sets up every Thursday. Not only is this little market so cute, but all of their products are organic and home made. I love it so much sometimes I wish I could be one of the sellers there too! What would I sell? I have no idea, but this place is really cute. You get the point, right? Anyway, I know I’ve mentioned in previous post about my love for buying fresh vegetables. Whether I am at a farmers market or at my grocery store I always load up on certain vegetables, in particular, yellow squash and zucchinis.  Lets face it…my time is so limited that lately I find myself having little to no time to really make dinner. So…I often find myself buying food that I can make multiple meals out of. This post is a good example of what I am talking about. Last week, I bought a little more zucchinis than what I normally buy and knew right away at least two ways I’d be cooking these. The first recipe I am sharing is actually from Rachael Ray (who I loooooovvvvee!). These stuffed zucchini boats are seriously so frikin’ good! This dish is so good that you really don’t mind skipping the ‘meat’ part of your meal. Now, the second recipe I am sharing is a combination of two recipes. My father makes this delicious fried pork dish with zucchinis, tomatoes, and onions which is one of my favorite meals he makes. However, with me trying to shake off this stubborn baby weight, fried pork is not on my list of things to eat right now! Well, while watching an episode of the Pioneer Woman I noticed she too made a dish similar to my dads, but….she used shrimp instead! I was like “man…why did I not think of that?!” What I love about this zucchini and shrimp stir fry is the sweet and spiciness you get from using fresh corn and jalapeños. And really…go for the fresh corn with this recipe. You may think that canned corn will taste the same, but it really does change the flavor completely! Both of these recipes are a great way to turn all of those vegetables sitting in your fridge into a fabulous and simple meal!

Zucchini and Shrimp Stir Fry

Serves 4

1 lb raw or frozen shrimp, cleaned and tails removed
2 medium size zucchini’s, cut in half moons
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
½ an onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ½ cups fresh corn (roughly two ears of fresh corn)
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
½ tsp. ground red pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. parsley flakes
¼ cup parmesan cheese


  1. Heat medium size skillet over medium heat. Season shrimp with ground red pepper, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper and cook until they turn orange.
  2. Once shrimp have cooked, remove them from the skillet and cook onions, jalapeños, and garlic until onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Add in the zucchini, tomatoes, and corn to the skillet and continue to cook until the zucchini has softened and cooked through.
  4. Add in the parsley and season vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Mix in the shrimp with the vegetables and add in parmesan cheese.
  6. Can be served with white or brown rice, or couscous.
Source: Recipe inspired by Pioneer Woman and M. Martinez. Both recipes were slightly modified.

Stuffed Young Zucchini

Serves 4


4 small zucchinis
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
12 crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
½ cup bread crumbs
Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¾ cup parmesan cheese


  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut zucchinis length wise and scoop out center flesh to create a shallow center and set flesh aside.
  3. Arrange zucchinis in a baking dish and drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper.
  4. Heat remaining olive oil in a skillet and sauté mushrooms, onions, and garlic until onions are translucent.
  5. Chop reserved zucchini and add it to the skillet along with the chopped tomatoes and cook until zucchini is tender. Remove from heat.
  6. Add in parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs to the stuffing.
  7. Spoon stuffing into zucchinis and bake for 18 minutes.

Source: Rachael Ray

Friday, August 9, 2013

The best little thing I've ever created......

Well hello there friends! It has been a while since we’ve last chatted and although I haven’t been cookin’ up a storm in my kitchen lately, I wanted to share my latest creation, my baby boy. Antonio Tomás Chavez was born on July 1st, 2013, at 2:38 p.m. The last couple of months have been filled with trying to pull through the last couple of weeks of pregnancy to welcoming this beautiful baby boy and now trying to adjust to this new life as a mom! I’ve learned quickly that time is not my friend anymore!! I am constantly trying to catch up with whatever I need to get done around the house, feeding and changing the baby, putting the baby down for naps, and…trying to find time to make a meal. My meals have been way less than spectacular lately. I almost feel like I’ve been ‘the sandwich queen’ lately. With that being said, one of my cooking goals is to find recipes that are not so high maintenance and that are versatile to be made into more than one meal. I look forward to getting myself back into the kitchen and continue doing what I like to do most…cook! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Sweet and Spicy Valentine's Dinner

Back in the day my Valentine’s Day dinner dates were nothing but spectacular. I can really say that my husband put a lot of effort in planning which new restaurant we would be trying. Now…this post is not me complaining about the fact that this year we have chosen to stay in, or that as the years go by our Valentine’s Day dinner dates get less fancy and more low key. This year will be the first time in two years that we will actually get to spend Valentine’s Day together. These last two years we have skyped on all major holidays due to being away at trainings or on deployment. So with that being said, this year’s Valentine’s Day dinner has a ‘sweeter’ meaning because I am very grateful to have my Airman home to celebrate this lovely holiday. I have been working on this post for a few weeks now, trying to plan a nice, sweet, and delicious dinner that my valentine would enjoy. I knew I wanted to make a special meal for him this year, but didn’t want to spend ALL day in the kitchen. I played around with a couple of recipes, including various dessert recipes that were a no-go, and finally came across two recipes that I liked and worked out! This year’s dinner menu ideas were provided by no other than my friend, The Pioneer Woman. Ok…maybe we don’t talk everyday, or ever, but I am a true fan of hers and her cooking. I decided on making Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp. This dish is not only easy to make, but the flavor is so delicious. What makes this dish even better is the ‘scampi’ style sauce that the shrimp are cooked in soaked up with some warm crusty bread! Considering that this dish is so rich (member the two sticks of butter the recipe calls for), I decided to pair it with asparagus roasted in the oven with a little olive oil, salt , and pepper. I didn’t want a side dish that was too heavy or rich because I already knew that the dessert I would be serving was…well lets just say…nothing from the Skinny Cow dessert line. The Molten Chocolate Cake was the perfect dessert for this meal. I wanted something that was chocolate, somewhat easy to make, and delicious. May I add that it’s the perfect portion for you and your sweetheart? A Valentine’s Day dinner date doesn’t necessarily mean reservations for two and a bottle of wine. It can also be just as sweet with a homemade dinner for two and, in my case, a bottle of white…sparkling grape juice. ;)

Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp
Serves 6

2 lbs raw shrimp, deveined, shells on
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 tsp salt
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ tsp crushed red pepper
Zest and juice of 1 whole lemon

  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Arrange shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  2. In a bowl, combine butter, salt, garlic, parsley, crushed red pepper, zest and juice of lemon. Spoon chunks of butter mixture over shrimp
  3. Bake until shrimp are opaque. (about 23 minutes)
  4. Serve with crusty bread and a light side dish

Note: Using unsalted butter is very important. Otherwise, the shrimp will come out very salty using regular butter.

Molten Chocolate Cake
Serves 4

4 pieces semi-sweet Baking Chocolate
½ cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
6 Tablespoons all purpose flour

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray four custard cups with pan and place on cookie sheet.
  2. 2. Microwave chocolate and butter or 1 minute, until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is melted as well.
  3. Stir in powdered sugar until well blended. Stir in eggs and egg yolks. Stir in flour
  4. Divide mix between the four cups.
  5. Bake cups for about 13-14 minutes or until sides are firm and center is soft. Let stand for 1 minute.
  6. Invert cakes on dishes and top with whipped cream or ice cream.    
Source: Pioneer Woman.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mexican Rice Pudding

Ok….I am not one of those food bloggers that claim they always create these fabulous masterpieces. Lately, my cooking has been far from creating masterpieces and more like creating disasters. I know I have mentioned that I currently have a little bun in the oven and even though I am feeling so much better, my taste buds have been so out of whack. I mean…my appetite is back and I am finally able to enjoy food again, but whatever I end up whippin’ up in the kitchen ends up tasting like…..crap. And yes, some of the recipes are new and I just may not like the taste, but some of the stuff I am cooking are recipes I have made before. Personally, I think that when you don’t use it….you lose it! But I knew there had to be a light at the end of the tunnel! This Mexican Rice Pudding not only made me smile, but reassured me that I had not completely lost my cooking ‘swag’ ;) Rice pudding is a very universal dish. I have had various versions of rice pudding and I’m not talking about the cold kind that sits at the local buffet, but rice pudding dishes with different textures, various ingredient concoctions, and even from different cultural backgrounds. I have had this debate with my husband that rice pudding should have a slight watery almost soup like consistency, while he states that it should have a thick custard like consistency. And ‘I’ think.. well… what the hell does he know? Ha ha! Just kidding! Just wrote that in there to see if all of you were still listening J What I love about this recipe is that it uses brown sugar in the milk mix which gives it this delicious and rich flavor. It kind of reminds me of the taste similar to the burnt sugar in crème brulee.  Yes, this rice pudding has a thick custard-like consistency, but it seriously so good! I personally love making this dish in the winter because it is the perfect warm comfort food to have as a dessert or even breakfast. I hope you enjoy this little recipe as much as I do! Enjoy!

Mexican Rice Pudding

1 Cup of long grain rice
1 Quart of whole milk
3 Cinnamon sticks
1 Can of condense milk
¾ cup of dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon of baking soda
1 ½ cups of water
¼ cup raisins (optional)

  1. In a cooking pot, bring the quart of whole milk and cinnamon sticks to simmer. Make sure that you stir the milk consistently to avoid the milk sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  2.  Once you see that the milk is starting to bubble, rinse the rice under warm water in a Tupperware and fill with 1 ½ cups of water. Place Tupperware in the microwave and turn on for 2 minutes or until most of the water has been absorbed.
  3. Now that the milk has come to a low boil, remove from heat and add the ½ teaspoon of baking soda. Note: this will make the milk foam up at first. Just stir milk to avoid it overflowing from the pot. Also, if you don’t want to leave in the sticks of cinnamon in, remove them before adding in the rice.
  4. Add in the rice to the milk and stir. Also, add in the can of condense milk and ¾ cup of dark brown sugar.
  5. Stir the rice until it’s fully cooked. (do not stop stirring rice or it will stick to the bottom of the pan)
  6. Once the rice has fully cooked, pour mixture into a glass baking dish and top rice pudding with raisins. Let it set for about 30 minutes before serving.

Dish should be refrigerated, but may be eaten cold or warm. 

Source: H.Sandoval.