Pumpkin Pie Cake

This recipe is for all of you pumpkin pie lovers out there. This. is. better. For realsies. I got this from my friend Susie and it's the bomb diggity. I think it's something like 8000 calories per bite, but it's worth it.  Not exactly cake... not exactly pie.... just think of it as pumpkin perfection on a plate and go with it.

1 box yellow cake mix (reserve 1 cup for topping)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 egg

20 oz pureed pumpkin (not 29 ounces!)
12 oz can of evaporated milk
1 and 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 cup cake mix (that has been reserved)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 pan (I used just a metal cake pan).

Mix together CRUST ingredients and spread into the bottom of pan.

Mix FILLING ingredients together very well and pour over crust.

Mix TOPPING ingredients together until crumbly and sprinkle over the top.

Bake …

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I fancy myself to be a decent cook, but I am a longstanding baking failure.  These two skills don't necessarily go hand in hand and I have moaned about it quite a bit lately.

Recently I received a very timely, rather lengthy, and somewhat threatening email from my good friend Emily. She's a very accomplished baker, not that you can tell from the size of her skinny jeans, but whatever. My recent complaints troubled her deeply enough that she felt it was time to stage a no-nonsense intervention before my children lost all hope for homebaked goods and my husband started sniffing at the neighbors' kitchen doors.

She admonished me to unleash the Baker Within. She pointed me toward an amazing recipe that is designed specifically for high-altitude baking and sent me a private discourse on the do's and dont's for novice bakers.

The result: a paragon of cookie perfection.
I am a baker. I bake.

I made 54 absolutely perfect chocolate chip cookies.  Not doughy.  Not cri…

Chicken Cordon Bleu

It's always nice when I can make a meal that satisfies the taste preferences of every palate living in my house. Chicken cordon bleu is just such a dish.

It's fun, it's fancy, but the home run is all in the secret sauce. My standard recipe calls for lots of extra secret sauce for two reasons:

#1. That volume of liquid keeps the chicken from burning on the bottom and sticking to the pan during cooking.

#2. It makes a mean gravy for my mashed potato side dish! Or rice, or whatever.
6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
6 slices Swiss cheese
6-12 slices ham*
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tsp paprika
1/2 cup butter
1 and 1/2 cup unsweetened white grape juice
3 tsp chicken bouillon granules
2 Tbs flour
1 and 1/4 cup half and half

Cut 12 pieces of baking string, each about 12 inches long. Set aside.

Place chicken breasts one at a time inside a freezer bag and pound the heck out of them until they are about 1/2 inch thick.

Fold the cheese into quarters and hide inside folde…

Spanish Rice or Quinoa

I was tasked with providing a Latin side dish for dinner with friends a few weeks ago. I was having a hankering for Spanish rice, so I tried a new recipe! Risky, but it paid off! I researched about a dozen different recipes and smashed them together with my fingers crossed.

Savory, spicy, sassy success.

I have added a few more spices since that first attempt and am now ready to share the recipe in its perfected-to-my-personal-tastes state!

Now, before I unveil this masterpiece, I must also encourage you to eat the leftovers with breakfast. Yes, breakfast. I made two over-easy runny eggs and served them with half cup of rice. Yum. Yum. I tried it without realizing that this is actually a common dish! My natural culinary brilliance knows no cultural barriers. Cough, cough... I'm kidding.
2 Tbs butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 tsp minced garlic cloves
3 cups uncooked white rice***
2 cans chicken broth (14.5 ounces each)
1 cup water
1 10-ounce can of Rotel toma…

Asian Honey Chicken Thighs

I. love. this. chicken. This dish was inspired by the popular Spicy Honey Chicken at Our Best Bites. I messed around with the concept until I got just the gentle Asian flavor that I was looking for! Oh, and this isn't spicy. At all. I've had it with fried rice, on salad, and in a sandwich. It is Kinley's Most Favorite Chicken Ever, by a landslide. Enjoy!
2 packages of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, about 4 pounds (16-20 thighs). Yes, do it with thighs. Really.

2 Tbs vegetable oil

4 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp ground ginger

1 C Honey
2 Tbs Rice Vinegar

Unroll chicken thighs and use scissors to trim fat and other ickies. Drizzle 2 Tbs oil over the chicken and use your hands to make sure it lightly coats every piece.

Put rub ingredients into small bowl, mix thoroughly.

Use the rub to cover each chicken thigh. It's called a "rub" for a reason. Don…

Healthy Fried Brown Rice

I was in the mood for fried rice recently, so I did a little google exploration. I inspected a few dozen different recipes and picked out the common denominators. I have tweaked the general recommendations to my liking and am very pleased with the end result. This is one half of my addiction-of-the-month. The other half is an Asian honey chicken recipe that comes right after this post. Ingredients:
6 cups cooked, cold, leftover brown rice*
2 cups frozen peas and carrots
1/2 cup diced green onions (about 3 stalks)
1 Tbs sesame oil
1 Tbs butter
6 Tbs soy sauce
2 large eggs** (optional)

Melt butter in pan and add sesame oil. When pan is hot, add onions and stir for 30 seconds. Add frozen peas and carrots, and stir in pan until thoroughly warmed through. Add rice and stir until warm through. Add soy sauce and keep stirring until everything is completely warmed through. Yum!

Total Calories (with eggs): 203 per cup

*Leftover rice works a lot better than fresh, warm rice! That was …

Sour Cream Banana Mini-Muffins

Justin asks for banana bread weekly. I'm not sure why, considering my last attempt (7 years ago) was a total bust. Last week he came home from work carrying a bundle of bananas as a gift for me himself, begging me to transform them into baked goods. I took to the internet in search of a fail-proof recipe and hit the jackpot.

I don't actually own a bread pan, but I do own mini-muffin tins! I modified the recipe to suit my equipment and it was a super-success. These are the best banana muffins I have ever eaten. In fact, it's the best banana "bread" I have ever had (and I just paid $4.99 last week for a loaf from Kneaders). I realize they don't look very special, but they are insanely moist and uniformly delectable, with no "crust" to speak of. It's like 48 inside slices of banana bread with the crusts cut off... when you are only baking something for 15 minutes, there isn't time for the outsides to get extra crispy.Ingredients 1/3 cup b…