Frosted Cream Cheese Pumpkin Cookies

It’s officially FALL!!  Time to stock up on all things pumpkin.  I have been waiting patiently to share this recipe with you.  It has easily stolen the hearts of my boys.  There is something about the soft pumpkin cookie and cream cheese frosting on top that makes FALL MAGIC.  Your house will smell amazing while you are baking.  If you play “Autumn in New York” by Billie Holiday while baking your kitchen will become a dance floor.  I promise this will become a Fall favorite.

Keep Singing and Dancing,
Amanda  

Frosted Cream Cheese Pumpkin Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 T pumpkin pie spice, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 t Kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin 
1 egg
1 t Mexican vanilla

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces (1 brick)cream cheese, room temperature
3 T butter, room temperature
1 t Mexican vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt until combined.  Set aside.

With a mixer, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 1 minute until light and fluffy.  Add in the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla to butter mixture, and beat on medium-speed until just combined.  Fold in the dry ingredients until just combined.

Using a cookie dough scoop, make a heaping tablespoon of dough.  Drop scoop on prepared cookie sheet by heaping tablespoonfuls.  

Bake for 15 or until the cookies are cooked through and bounce back slightly if you touch them.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool until they reach room temperature.  Then frost with cream cheese frosting, and sprinkle with an extra pinch of pumpkin pie spice.  

Please read: Cookies are ready to serve.  Otherwise, refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.  In my family’s opinion, the cookies don’t taste the best right out of the refrigerator.  So plan ahead before your event.  Take cookies out of the refrigerator about 1 hour before your event.  

To Make Cream Cheese Frosting:
With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla together on medium-high speed until smooth.  Gradually add in the powdered sugar until it is all combined and the frosting is smooth.  If frosting is too thick, add in a tablespoon or two of milk until it reaches your desired consistency.  If your frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar until it reaches your desired consistency.

You know I LOVE Trader Joe’s. I used Trader Joe’s Organic Pumpkin and Pumpkin Pie Spice.

Smoked Gouda Pimento Cheese

Growing up in the south, I have always loved pimiento cheese.  When I lived in Texas, my favorite grocery store, Market Street, began creating a Smoked Gouda Dip that took pimiento cheese to a whole new level.  Every time we return home, we always get some.  And I was determined to create it myself.  With the help of my taste tester (Chris), we have got it right where we like it.  

Recently, we had a getaway at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina.  I highly recommended this beautiful place.  While there we ordered their pimento cheese for a poolside snack.  Besides being very yummy, their pimento cheese was served with pork rinds. Oh my goodness!  I am hooked.  Such a fun way addition to your appetizer.

Smoked Gouda Pimento Cheese 

1 cup mayo (I used Duke’s Light)
1 (7 oz) jar pimiento, drained, and rinsed
1 t Worcestershire sauce
½ t garlic powder
½ t cayenne pepper (this gives a little heat, use less if needed)
1 (8 oz) block extra-sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded- about 2 cups
1 (8 oz) block smoked Gouda cheese, shredded- about 2 cups

Stir together mayo, pimientos, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and cayenne powder.  Add in the cheeses until well blended. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.  

Sing and Dance Tip: rinsing pimentos will cut down on the salty taste

Since and Dance Tip: shredding your own cheese will make dip more creamy.  Pre-shredded cheese will make your dip dry. 

Serve with celery, bagel chips, pork rinds, or Everything crackers.

Confetti Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

I love these cupcakes.  There is something so yummy about the fluffy light cake and the classic buttercream frosting.  Filled with your favorite sprinkles, they are ready to help you celebrate your favorite people.  

Confetti Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
(Makes 24 cupcakes)

1 cup milk
5 egg whites
2 t vanilla extract (I used Mexican vanilla)
3 cups cake flour
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 t baking powder
½ t kosher salt
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chucks, at room temperature
½ cup of favorite sprinkles (I used these from Williams Sonoma)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. 
Line 24 cupcakes cups with paper liners.

In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup of the milk, the egg whites, and vanilla. Set aside.

Using a mixer, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until thoroughly combined.  With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, mixing until the mixture resembles coarse sand.  Gradually add the remaining ¾ cup milk and beat for 1 or 2 minutes.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl.

With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the egg mixture.  Mixing well and scraping down the bowl as necessary.  Gently fold in the sprinkles.

With a large ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake liners, filling them about two-thirds full.  

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Let cool for 15 minutes, then remove the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

Cool completely before frosting the cupcakes.  

Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chucks, at room temperature
6 to 7 cups powdered sugar
½ cup milk
2 t vanilla extract (I used Mexican Vanilla)
A few drops of liquid gel food coloring (optional)

In a mixer, cream the butter on medium for 2 or 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add 4 cups of the powdered sugar, ¼ cup of milk, and the vanilla and mix on low speed, until smooth and creamy.  Add the remaining ¼ cup of milk and mix until incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes.  Gradually add 2 cups more sugar, then add up to 1 cup more sugar if the frosting seems thin, and beat on low speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until the frosting is light and fluffy.

If you want to tint the frosting: Add a drop or two of food coloring to the frosting, mixing well, then add more coloring as necessary until you reach the desired shade. If you want multiple colors, scoop frosting into several bowls, then add food coloring. 

The frosting can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or refrigerated for up to 1 week.  If you refrigerate, bring to room temperature before you use it.  Then transfer the buttercream to a mixer.  Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.  

Change Your Life Grilled Chicken Marinade (Seriously)

In our home, I rule our kitchen and Chris is the king of the grill.  We are getting close to twenty-two years of marriage and we have not blurred those lines at all.  It’s like that line on Dirty Dancing where Patrick Swayze tells Jennifer Grey, “This is my dance space. This is your dance space. I don’t go into yours, you don’t go into mine.”  It is our happy places and we love it. 

During the last few months of really cooking at home, we have found a marinade that has taken our grilled chicken game to the next level.  Like Will (14.5 yo) can take down 2 or 3 chicken breasts because he loves them.  I will ask Chris to double the amount just to have extra for grilled chicken salad the next day.  This chicken is so good and yummy! 

Keep Singing and Dancing!
Amanda

Change Your Life Grilled Chicken Marinade (Seriously)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/8 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 t dried rosemary
2 T Dijon mustard
2 t  kosher salt
2 t ground black pepper
2 t garlic powder
6 chicken breasts 

Combine all ingredients, except for chicken, in a large mixing bowl. Whisk all the ingredients together until well blended.
  
Remove a half a cup of marinade and reserve for basting the chicken later.

Take chicken breast and remove any extra fat.  If needed, flatten chicken breast to a consistent level to guarantee  the breast will grill at the same consistency.

Place chicken in a large ziplock bag and pour marinade over the top. Close securely. Or you can put in a big glass container with a lid.

Marinate for at least 4 hours.  You can marinate up to 24 hours.  

Preheat the grill to medium high heat.
  
Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting the excess drip off.

Grill chicken for 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until cooked through (165 degrees)

Use the additional marinade to baste the chicken occasionally.  

Once your chicken is complete, remove from the grill.  Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes for serving.  

Homemade Taco Seasoning

During our weeks of staying at home and lots of experimenting in the kitchen, I decided to make my own taco seasoning. If I’m being honest, I ran out of taco seasoning and I needed taco seasoning. After a few times of playing with seasoning and measurements, I found a combination that made my guys say “throw out the pre-made stuff.” Complete Win in the Kitchen.

When I make tacos, I usually prepare 2 lbs of ground beef, turkey or chicken. I DOUBLE the following recipe to add to our tacos. BUT, when you have time you need to make up extra just to sprinkle on your black beans, scrambled eggs, popcorn, you see where I’m going. This has such a yummy flavor you will add it to lots of things.

Happy Taco Tuesday,
Amanda

Make your own Taco Seasoning

1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (you can use plain paprika)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (add more if you want more kick)

Combine all the seasonings.  Add to your ground beef for tacos.  Add a few shakes to your black beans.  Add to your scrambled eggs.  Yum!!  Store in a sealed container if you don’t use all.

Porcupine Meatballs

Me: “Whitaker, we need to look for 3 porcupines for dinner tonight!” 

W: (His Face) “Wait, What?”

Me: “We are having Porcupine Meatballs for dinner.  I need to find 3 porcupines on our walk to use for dinner.”

W: (His Face, Again!) “Mom, I don’t think that’s a very good idea.”

Ok, you don’t use real PORCUPINES but these fun meatballs studded with rice will remind you of little porcupine quills.  Our weather in Atlanta has been a bit rainy and gloomy.  These little meatballs add a little fun to dinner.  

At dinner, it gave us a great time discussing the creativity of God.  I mean look at a porcupine.  How cool!

Keep Singing and Dancing,
Amanda

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Porcupine Meatballs

1 1/2 lb. ground beef

3/4 c. uncooked long grain white rice

1/2 c. whole milk

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 T finely chopped parsley, plus more for garnish 

2 t Worcestershire sauce, divided 

1/2 t garlic powder 

⅛ t cayenne pepper 

Kosher salt 

2 T extra-virgin olive oil 

1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, pureed 

Freshly ground black pepper

Grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, rice, milk, onion, parsley, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Shape beef mixture into 1 ½” meatballs.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add meatballs in a single layer and cook until golden, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove meatballs to a plate.

In a 9”-x13” baking dish, whisk together pureed tomatoes and remaining teaspoon Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper. Add meatballs to the baking dish and cover with foil. 

Bake until rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake until sauce is thickened and meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes more. *Be sure to cook rice until tender or your family will experience a porcupine situation in their mouths.*

Sprinkle with more parsley and parmesan before serving.

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Business/Party Nacho Cheese Dorito Chicken

The last ten weeks have been like nothing we have ever experienced.  I have used the words “quarantine”, “shelter-in-place”, “Covid19”, “Coronavirus” so much that even my 6 year old understands everything is completely different because of one of those words.

I have been introduced to Zoom calls.  While not my favorite thing, I understand it is a way to connect and get to “see” others.  I also understand like many that you only have to be presentable from the waist up!  Business/Professional/Put Together on top and Party/Whatever/PJ pants I have been wearing for three days on the bottom.

During this ten weeks of our “Corona Chronologicals”, Will (14.5) and Chris, my hubby, have talked about the idea of a Mullet.  (Like “Business in the Front, Party in the Back” haircut.)  Will had no where to be and why not go for this look during his time off.  Chris watched a few Youtubes and felt confident that he could make this look happen.  So, a couple Saturday nights ago, on our outdoor deck, Chris and Will proceeded to make a memory with hair clippers. Within a few minutes, Will was ready for business and party!  I will admit that Will could pull off any haircut.  (The kid has good hair!)

This whole experience of Zoom calls in PJ pants and teenagers with mullet reminded me of a meal.  A meal that says, “I look like a hot mess with the ingredients I bring to the table but trust me.  I mean business!”  A meal that says, “Yes, I have Nacho Cheese Doritos all over me but guess what Fancy Pants?  You are going to be drooling over the business I bring to your mouth.”  

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In all seriousness, my boys loved that this momma brought a little party to the dinner table.  Don’t knock it until you try it.  Seriously, we are all trying new things right now.  Go for it!

Looking Forward,
Amanda

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Nacho Cheese Dorito Crusted Chicken 

4 chicken breasts, pounded
1 cup mayo
1 t Italian seasoning
2 cups Nacho Cheese Doritos, crushed
¼ cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Put chicken breasts in a zip-lock bag and pound to flatten.
Combine mayonnaise and Italian Seasoning in a pie plate.
Crush Doritos in a zip-lock bag.  You want chips small.
Dip chicken breast into mayo mixture and then roll in Dorito crumbs.
Place in a casserole dish and drizzle with melted butter all over the chicken.
Bake uncovered for thirty minutes.

Blood Orange Mimosas

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🌸It’s Mother’s Day Weekend!🌸

Mommas out there will be celebrated. On my list of ways to be celebrated is a yummy Blood Orange Mimosa. Thought I would share how we do it over here.
(Is it a recipe if there are two ingredients?🤷🏼‍♀️)

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You need 3 or 4 Blood Oranges and 1 bottle of Prosecco/Cava/Champagne

1. Juice the blood oranges.
2. Place 2 tablespoons of blood orange into your glass.
3. Slowly fill glass with champagne, prosecco, or cava.
4. Serve, Toast, Drink & Repeat

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Quarantine Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is Sunday!  If we are honest, it is different this year.  For the past two months everything has been different.  When chatting with a momma recently, she told me that this year Mother’s Day is just another day. She said it was not going to be special because of everything going on.  HELLO, WHAT?!?  Yes, I agree that things are different and might not be the dream Mother’s Day you had envisioned with your children all gathered (well behaved all day), an amazing meal out, a day of pampering at the spa, time with other mommas to sip mimosas, and that special moment at church where you get to stand up and everyone claps because you are mom! Oh and then there might be that amazing photo op that was setup and your children dressed up with fresh haircuts and all smile with you at the camera.  Then you post that picture and say #BlessedMomma.  You are correct my friend, all that special will not be happening this Mother’s Day!  So do you want to wallow in that or Momma Up!  Put on Your Cute Momma Britches and Let’s know that we are honored and loved.

A few tips of my 14 ½ of being a momma:

  1.  My husband and children cannot read my mind.  I can get frustrated or I can just say “you know I would like….”  This is what I did.  I love having brunch out on Mother’s Day.  I have already done the research and set my guys up for success.  I told them the place that is offering takeout brunch and when they need to have it ordered.  This year’s pick is: Little Rey’s. I’m already craving their breakfast tacos.  I also know I want something sweet so I have an order in to A Piece of Cake.  There is no shame in picking our your own cupcakes. 
  2. I know I will not be having a pampering day at the spa this year.  That’s ok!  I have learned during this time that just having a little time to myself goes a LONG way.  Again, I told my hubby that I would like to get out of the house.  You can take a walk or a drive.  Listen to your favorite podcast, read a book, or just listen to silence.
  3. Rediscover yourself.  IS there something you have been wanting to try?  Paint by number, baking, growing your own herbs, or playing the ukulele.  This is a great time to do this.  Tell your family that you want this for Mother’s Day.  You might need to send the links from Amazon but who cares.  You are getting what you want.  
  4. Don’t be a brat on Mother’s Day!  This is not the year to pull this.  Everyone is doing the best they can.   Your family wants to celebrate with you. You don’t want them to remember the year that mom pouted because she didn’t get the day she wanted.  

Proverbs 31:28 says “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”  Right there.  Proverbs 31:28 is the momma that I want my husband and children to find.  I want my heart and mind to focus on Jesus on Mother’s Day.  I want my family to see that I feel honored that I was chosen for them.  

Let’s Momma Up this year!  You can have your Mimosa.  (I have a recipe coming!)  Use your voice.  Focus your heart and mind on Jesus.  You got this.

Love You Mommas!

Amanda 

Last year’s Mother’s Day post looked a little different! 🙂

Rotisserie Chicken Tacos

Have you ever made a meal and then you feel like you completed cheated because it was so easy? Those are my favorite meals! Let me introduce to Rotisserie Chicken Tacos. Guys, this is so easy. First off, I am the girl that will always pick up a rotisserie chicken at the store. I mean all the work is done for you for 5 bucks.

Now you will take that magic chicken you bought and create chicken tacos that will have your family thinking you are a goddess in the kitchen. Chop up your favorite toppings and you are ready to roll. You have just changed the Taco Tuesday Game.

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Rotisserie Chicken Tacos
2 cups salsa (I used Mateo’s Salsa)
1 cup water
2 T tomato paste
½ t coriander
1 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1 small rotisserie chicken (picked up from Costco), meat removed from the bones (you’ll want about 1½ pounds of picked chicken meat)
6 T vegetable oil
12 white 6” corn tortillas
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce (I cheated and bought the bag)
8 ounces Monterey jack cheese or Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Toppings

Guacamole Homemade or My go-to
Sliced pickled jalapeños
Diced tomatoes
Thinly sliced red onion
Avocado wedges
Sour cream
Lime juice
Fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Use baking sheets with high sides ready that can hold 12 completed folded tacos (or 2 pans with 6 each). Brush both baking sheets with oil. This will prevent sticking. Lay out the corn tortillas, 6 per tray and brush the tops with the other half of the oil. Set pans aside.
In a large skillet, place salsa, water and tomato paste. Using medium heat, stir and combine. Add the coriander, chili powder and cumin seasonings. Stir together completely.
Shred the cooked chicken pieces into the salsa mixture and heat to hot then hold to keep warm.
Beginning working on taco assembly, divide the pepper jack between the 12 tortillas.
Divide the warm chicken mixture between the 12 tortillas, on top of the pepper jack. Leave some room around the edges so your tacos will not be too full (yet!) Now top the tacos with Monterey jack cheese.

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Place in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the edges start to get a little crispy and the mixture is hot and bubbly. Rotate halfway through for even browning.
Remove tacos from the oven. Then pick up each tortilla, fold in half and place in the reserved dish or pan, letting each taco stay folded by leaning on the one next to it. Add the lettuce at this time.

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Serve hot with whatever toppings you want including diced tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, thinly sliced red onion, avocado wedges, sour cream, guacamole, lime juice, fresh cilantro, etc.