Salty Pumpkin Cookie Butter Brownies


You guys....This is my last. ever. Secret. Recipe. Club. post!  What?!?!!?!  The club is closing it's doors and so I wanted to go out with an epic dessert.  I mean, let's be real that dessert is my THING.  As much as I'd like to be healthy, my sweet tooth really steers me toward those cookies and chocolate bars by the time 10am rolls around.  Not that I eat chocolate for breakfast.  Haha.  Ha.  I mean, no, definitely not!

For this month, I was paired up with Sarah from Well Dined.  I love this blog!  How cool is it that Sarah is a restaurant foodie and an avid homecook.  Sarah also mentioned that she is constantly working on her writing and photography skills.  Yup.  Me too!  My photography skills are improving I think.  Writing skills?  Welllll, just take a look at the previous paragraph and you can be the judge!  Also, I overuse exclamation points.Sarah claims she is not much of a baker, but you wouldn't guess it from the photos that she took of her brownies.  They look delicious!  I didn't have peanut butter on hand for this recipe, but I did have cookie butter.  Pumpkin cookie butter.  Yup, I said it!  The only drawback is that cookie butter has a slightly different consistency than peanut butter AND I didn't realize there were cookie chunks in it until I was already making the recipe.  BUT I followed Sarah's instructions anyway and everything turned out so well!

Now if you don't have a serious sweet tooth like I do, I would definitely recommend that you check out some of Sarah's other recipes, such as the Tabbouleh, Zucchini Pizza (Yes, please!), or the Slow Cooker Parmesan Tomato Soup.  (I just noticed all of these recipes are vegetarian.  I'm not a vegetarian by any means, but really, these are the recipes I'm truly interested in!  It's not easy being green!)

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Crockpot Mojo Pork



Hey hey hey!

It's time for this month's Secret Recipe Club post!  I was paired up with Terri of Our Good Life this month.  Terri is a retired elementary school principal who started this blog as a creative outlet for her and her husband's cooking.  I love how Terri has incorporated so much of her family into her blog!

A review of Terri's recipes led me to a number of tasty dishes that I wanted to make, including Pasta with Zucchini, Lemon, and Basil, Potatoes with Roasted Citrus Dressing (yum!), and The Ultimate Mac and Cheese (yes!).  The week that I decided to make one of Terri's recipes, it was hottttt here in NY/NJ.  It had started to get a bit cooler because FALL IS COMING!, but that particular week summer decided to make another appearance.  In light of this, I opted to pull out my slow cooker once again so that I didn't melt in the kitchen.  I pulled up Terri's amazing Crockpot Mojo Pork recipe and whipped it up.  Terri, I am pleased to say that this will be a staple in my kitchen from now on!

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Gnocchi, Sausage & Kale Bake



Oh my gosh, this could be one of my most favorite Secret Recipe Club recipes ever!  This lovely recipe comes courtesy of Nicola from the Lemon and Cheese blog.  First of all, let's chat about this name.  I love it!  I'm really into lemon and as you all know, I'm about that cheese life.  Well, it turns out that Nicola is also down to hang out with lemon and cheese, which is why she used them in her blog name!  That's one smart lady (aka - I wish I had thought of that!).  Nicola is also a librarian in London (where I'm going next month on vacation! Woohoo!) and I find it super interesting to see what people in other parts of the world are eating!

I perused several recipes on Nicola's site and was really keen on making the Salsa Verde Quinoa Bake, Squash Sausage and Chard Pasta, and the Crab Macaroni and Cheese (Let me tell you that this one was STRONG contender and I would have made it as well if this past month wasn't so busy!).  However, I finally settled on the Squash Gnocchi, Sausage and Kale Bake.   I've been trying to incorporate more vegetables into my food recently.  I also haven't made anything with gnocchi in a while and I thought that now would be an excellent time to revisit this tasty treat.

Though I have made homemade gnocchi before, this time I went the store-bought route to save me a little time.  I figured that was acceptable since we are basically making a CHEESE SAUCE -- yes, that needs to be said in capital letters -- to pour on top of the gnocchi and the other ingredients.  This sauce was everything!  I definitely recommend making it an drizzling it over everything within reach.  It's truly that good.  Whip everything together, top with even more cheese, and bake until you have the most perfect lunch or dinner combination.  Nicola, you have outdone yourself!

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Overnight Cinnamon Raisin French Toast


Well, I finally did it.  I broke down and purchased an air conditioner.  I had resolved that I wouldn't do it. I could stick it out and make it through the summer.  Yesss, you got this girl.

Two days into a massive heat wave (but it was really just two days in the high 80's/low 90's), I decided that maybe I couldn't do this.  No, you don't got this.  Get a grip on reality so you can stop taking 4 showers a day because of how much you're sweating.

I trekked over to Home Depot over the weekend and picked up a window air conditioning unit.  I got someone to help me bring it upstairs, and then I got someone to install it.  Ahhhh instant cold air goodness!  You know what this means, right?  Time to turn on the oven and bake all the things!

So that's pretty much what had to happen.

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned to Wendy's blog, A Day in the Life on the Farm.  Something I love about the SRC is that I get to peruse so many different blogs.  Everyone has such an interesting story to tell!  Wendy and her husband are both retired cops who decided to move to a small town and purchase several acres of property.  Pretty soon there were fruit trees, chickens and other livestock being raised there.  They had somehow turned their space into a farm, hence the name of the blog!

I was sorely tempted to make Wendy's Waffles recipe, as Ive been looking for a decent waffle recipe for a while.   Could this be the holy grail recipe I'm looking for?  I also really wanted to make the Stollen Bread Pudding (I'm on a carb-up diet, in case you couldn't tell) but this Overnight Cinnamon Raisin French Toast swooped in and held me hostage!

Not only am I a fan of cinnamon and raisin, but I'm also obsessed with baking my French Toast.   Additionally, this overnight version required only a few minutes of prep the night before so the next morning all i had to do was put it in the oven.  This is so ridiculously easy and tasty!!

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Spiced Pear Quick Bread



Another month, another Secret Recipe Club post!  It's May!  How did we get here already?  I'm not a fan of this "time travel" thing we seem to be doing.  Something I AM looking forward to, however, is the warmer months.  Let's move it along Winter.  Let's allow Spring to have a few weeks so we can smoothly usher in Summer.  I need to come out of hibernation soon!


As I'm trying to move this process along, I figured I'd see if making a summer-y quick bread would help Mother Nature out.  Makes sense, right?  Please say yes.  Yes.

I was paired up with Renee from Renee's Kitchen Adventures this month.  Renee and I both love cooking and baking, though she has been doing it since she was a teenager and I've been doing it for only the past 8 years or so.  Renee has been on a quest to serve healthy and delicious dishes to her family.  Over the past few years I've come to feel the same way.  However, this blog DID start out as a cupcakes blog, so let's just say that I come from "humble beginnings".  And you will definitely find desserts scattered among my recipes because I am in a long-term relationship with sugar.

Several of Renee's recipes stood out to me: Crockpot Chicken Chili (I don't care if it's not crockpot weather!), Fresh Apple Cinnamon Quick Bread (I love quick breads and cannot get enough), Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (chocolate and pumpkin - I want!), Peanut Butter & Banana Streusel Muffins (have I mentioned how much I love muffins?).  The Spiced Pear Quick Bread eventually won out above all the other choices mostly because I wanted to incorporate a summer fruit into the mix.  Mother Nature needs a gently nudge!  Thanks so much for the recipe Renee!

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Chipotle & Onion Shredded Beef


I'm kind of in the middle of packing.  You know, if being "in the middle of packing" means I've taped together a few boxes, filled one and only half-filled another four boxes.  I think I'm doing this right, no?

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned to Micha and the Cookin' Mimi blog.  Unlike myself, Micha has been cooking her whole life.  Like me, she is a super fan of Mexican food.  She was originally inspired to start Cookin' Mimi by another food blogger who focuses on slow cooking.  I love my slow cooker too, so I totally understand!

I started searching through Micha's recipes and saw so many that I wanted to make!  Easy Fudgy Brownies and Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches topped the list.  BUT, what if, hypothetically, you were moving and you placed your pots and pans at the bottom of the ONE BOX that you packed!  Just a hypothetical question.

If something like this were to happen, I would consider making either the Spicy Shredded Beef or the Chipotle and Onion Shredded Beef.  In the end, I chose the latter choice and I'm so glad I did!  This beef is smoky and spicy and just right.  I'm definitely going to be making this one again in the near future!  Thanks Micha!

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Mediterranean Chicken



It's time for the Secret Recipe Club again!

We took a short break from the SRC to account for the hectic holidays, but now we're back on track!  I was paired up with Kate from A Spoonful of Thyme this month.  Isn't that a cool blog name?  It may well have to do with the fact that I love the smell of thyme a lot.  Like, a lot a lot.  Other things I love include the following Spoonful of Thyme recipes:

Sausage & Sun-dried Tomato Sauce over Pasta - I have a jar of sun-dried tomatoes hanging out in my refrigerator and needed an excuse to use them up.  This is the perfect recipe for such a situation!  However, before I was able to make this, I found another recipe that made use of those sun-dried tomatoes.  More to come on that in a future post!

Rosemary Potato Frittata - As much as I love the smell of thyme, I actually prefer the smell of rosemary.  This is my favorite herb of all time.  Also, who doesn't love a good frittata.  Come on now.

Grilled Tomatillo Guacamole - I loved avocados before I even knew their real name.  Seriously, in the Bahamas, we always called them pears.  Sometimes they would be called avocado pears.  I also developed a real love of tomatillos after my friend Matt showed me how to make the best tomatillo salsa of my life!

Pork Tinga with Red Potatoes, Avocado, and Queso Fresco - I didn't end up making this because it turns out it was a recipe that Kate made for the SRC already.  However, it looks divine.  I might be slightly obsessed with tinga.

I finally settled on making the Mediterranean Chicken with Tomatoes & Cannellini Beans.  Except I hate all beans that aren't chickpeas or soy beans, sooooo....you guessed it!  I used chickpeas instead of cannellini beans.  To say this is a tasty dish is an understatement.  I bumped up the spices because I just can't stop myself.  The chicken thighs came out juicy and tender and seasoned to the max.  Thank you so much for this recipe Kate.  I will be making this again!

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Chicken and Tortellini Skillet



The first thing you may notice is that the dish in the picture above is not in a skillet.

It all started out in a skillet.  But apparently this dish is larger than life!  Or really just larger than my largest saucepan.  Sooo...into a casserole pan she went.  "Make it work."  I think Tim Gunn says that.  It's true.  I don't show all the behind the scenes OMG moments but I can typically rescue a dish one way or the other.  In this case, the fix was an easy one.  I'm so glad I was able to make this work. 


This recipe was courtesy of this month's Secret Recipe Club, where I found myself paired up with the 2 Cookin' Mamas blog!  The premise behind this blog is that Linda, who lives in FL, and her daughter Christina, who lives in Atlanta, have joined forces to bring their readers quick and healthy meals (with an indulgence here and there!).  I share their same philosophy, although I sort of got there in a roundabout way.  Their blog is chock full of delicious goodies and I had the hardest time choosing what to make.  The crockpot ropa vieja and the Italian spaghetti squash were high up on my list of recipes to try, but I was truly won over by the Chicken & Tortellini recipe.  Who doesn't love cheese and pasta and more cheese!  No one.  No one doesn't love it.  This recipe was amazing and easily made it into my lunch rotation last week.

Also, fun fact bonus time!  2 Cookin' Mamas had my blog last month for the Secret Recipe Club and they made my Chicken Tinga recipe and completely nailed it!  Thanks so much for the love!

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Tangy Baked Brie


I've wanted to make baked brie for such a long time!  And given my utter undying love for brie cheese, it's absolutely amazing that I haven't.  I tried to make it for my housewarming party almost 3 years ago (!!!), but it turns out that I had gone appetizer-happy and there was WAYYY too much food already.  So the baked brie, which I was going to make last, got nixed.  RIP housewarming baked brie.

This month, I realized that I could redeem myself.  I was assigned to Jessie Weaver's blog, The Vanderbilt Wife, for my October Secret Recipe Club assignment.  Jessie is a wife and a mom of 3, living in Chattanooga.  She started her blog as a way to write more regularly and also as a way to encourage other women.  I love that!  Jessie has several different sections on her blog, but looking through the Recipe Index, I came upon a recipe for Tangy Baked Brie and the heavens opened and cheese rained down.  Alright, not really, but I did get super excited and immediately decide that this recipe was gonna be THE ONE!

Of course this was the one week I couldn't find a round of suitable brie in the store (of course!), so I grabbed a large wedge of brie, cut it in half and placed it into a smaller baking dish.  Crisis averted.  Didn't you know that cooking/baking also involves creativity and the ability to be resourceful under pressure?  Fact.

Soooo when this little goodie came out of the oven, I may have eaten a bit of it.  And by a bit, I mean a lot.  As in, the whole thing.  Is that a problem?  I mean, I don't think it's a problem, but my cheese consumption has been outrageous lately so I'm not the one to give advice here.  But it was so good!! Jessie really outdid herself here.  I'm so glad I finally have a go-to baked brie recipe that is quick, tangy, and tasty.  I'll be making this at all housewarming parties to come!

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Stuffed Pepper Soup



I'm not really paying attention to the heat that's outside right now.  I'm busy prepping for fall weather (that has yet to show up) by starting early on my soup game.  Yes, you heard me.  We got us some soup!

I don't really care much for cold soups, or gazpacho, so there hasn't been much soup love on this blog since I made Broccoli & Cheddar Soup this past spring.  But that is about to change, my friends.  This year, I'm starting out with a variation of one of the first recipes I've ever made: Stuffed Peppers.  Even though I only posted a crockpot stuffed peppers recipe on this blog last year, I actually made an oven-based version of this dish years before that.  Maybe even as far back as 2009?  Oh, where has the time gone!

Anyhow, I can't explain my love stuffed peppers.  It's one of those things that just exists.  Since I can't get enough of them, I immediately latched onto this recipe when I saw it on my assigned blog for this month's Secret Recipe Club: Cookaholic Wife.  Nichole is the brainchild behind this delicious blog.  She first started cooking to escape burnt meals served up by her mom.  She recounts a few hilarious stories in this post called "My Mom Can Burn Water.  Can You?"  I am thankful that I haven't had any of these incidents occur in my life, though they are pretty funny in hindsight!  I also wasn't the best cook for a long time but, like Nichole, I eventually taught myself a thing or two in the kitchen in order to escape the ramen noodles and frozen pizza dinners that were becoming waaaay too frequent at one point.  I'd also like to mention that Nichole has a recipe called Nichole's Famous Crab Dip.  While I ran out of time this month to test this dish out, rest assured that I'm keeping this one in the archives to revisit someday soon!  That dip sounds absolutely amazing!

So let's get back to this soup for a minute.  I'd like to point out that while this dish can be created fairly quickly, you can also save yourself some time by prepping the peppers and onion the day before.  I did just that and when I made this soup, it honestly took me almost no time at all.  It definitely wasn't a lot of work!  I love dishes like this that can be made so easily as a weeknight dinner, but can still pack a ton of flavor.  I'll definitely be adding this soup to my regular rotation of dishes to make during the fall and winter months.

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