Cinco de Mayo Taco Tuesday Party

Whole Wheat Tortillas 3
Cinco de Mayo falls on Tuesday this year…coincidence? I think not. It would be a travesty not to participate in Taco Tuesday this week. So to help you out, I searched around the internets for some of the most delicious looking tacos that will totally do the holiday justice. I hope one of these inspires you for an all-out taco par-tay!

Carnitas = Best.Tacos.Ever.

Sweet Potato Tacos are skinny but still delicious and could do double duty on Meatless Monday.

The Quesarito isn’t quite a taco but I had to share this one with you. A cheese quesadilla is filled with toppings and rolled up burrito style. Dying.

Korean Tacos for a little Mexican Asian fusion.

Grilled Taco Lime Chicken is great for busy weeknight meals and one I have made over and over. Soo easy and delicious.

Loaded Carne Asada Tacos. Carne Asada + Fries + Guacamole + Cheese. Need I say more?

Smoky Shrimp Tacos with Chorizo Beans and Mango Salsa – smoky and sweet is always a winning combination.

Huevo Rancheros Tacos for something on the lighter side and another meatless option.

You all know I don’t really like fish but these Blackened Fish Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Sauce look incredible.

Chicken Fried Steak Tacos. Ummm, whaaaaat? Mexican and Southern, the fusion of my dreams.

Crispy Cauliflower Tacos with Slaw and Avocado Cream are all about the texture. Oh, and they are vegan too.

Apple Pie Tacos, because what’s a Taco Tuesday Cinco de Mayo party without a dessert taco? I mean, at this point, do the calories really matter?

And wash ’em all down with Lime Sorbet Margaritas.






Healthy-ish Apple Doughnut Holes

Healthy-ish Apple Doughnut Holes 8
Let’s talk about carbs. Delicious, tasty, incredible carbohydrates. This is my open letter to carbs: I can’t quit you. I recently had a conversation on Facebook with my aunt’s friend who is doing a very low carb diet and was craving apple pie. She was wishing that a yummy no-carb apple pie existed and the conversation pretty much ended with me saying “there’s no such thing, #carbsforlife.”
Healthy-ish Apple Doughnut Holes 4
With all that being said, I do limit my carbs and the vast majority of the time I stick to the good for me ones. After our conversation I had apples on the mind and remembered a recipe I needed to share with you all that just might satisfy the apple craving a bit.
Healthy-ish Apple Doughnut Holes 7
We went to the annual apple festival in a nearby town a couple weekends ago and had a great time picking apples, enjoying a hay rack ride and inhaling hot apple doughnuts fresh from the oven. They were delicious and magical but not something we could indulge in every day. So when Noah requested apple doughnuts later that week, I told him yes, but on my terms.
Healthy-ish Apple Doughnut Holes 3
These apple doughnuts, cooked in a cake pop gadget for instant gratification, are made with very little sugar, just a bit of butter and are half whole wheat. I skipped the whole dip in butter and roll in cinnamon sugar to keep them on the healthy side but you could go ahead and do it if you wish. Just don’t tell me because I’ll be jealous. And don’t worry if you don’t have a cake pop cooker thingy, I’ve provided instructions on baking them in the oven as well. These are slightly sweet with a hint of apple. And you don’t have to feel so bad when you devour 3 or 4.

So here’s to a healthier way to get your carb on.
Healthy-ish Apple Doughnut Holes 5
Apple Doughnut Holes
recipe adapted from Chew Out Loud

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¾ cup whole milk
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp. regular butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 small (or 1 large) apples; peeled, grated, and squeezed dry

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees or preheat cake pop maker. In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a small bowl, mix milk, eggs, butter, vanilla and apples together. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and fold until just mixed.

2. Either grease mini muffin tin or cake pop maker with nonstick spray. Fill 2/3 full and bake in oven for 7-8 minutes or 2-4 minutes in cake pop maker.

*For butter and cinnamon sugar coating instructions follow link above to the original recipe.

Apple Streusel Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

Apple Orchard
See these apples? We picked them….for free. And we took them home…for free! Seriously people, nothing is free anymore. I found out about this cute little orchard owned by the city last year but we never got around to checking it out. So when I heard that the apples were ready this year I put it as top priority in my phone’s to-do list. I take my lists VERY seriously.
Picking Apples
So we headed to the orchard and had a great time picking the apples.
Joel Picking Apples
Good thing that boy of mine is so tall!
Apple Streusel Cake
Many of the apples we brought home were dedicated to Noah’s favorite snack, lala, known to normal people as applesauce. We are still not sure where he came up with that one. To use up the rest of the apples, I went through all my recipes I have saved to find some yummy apple options.
Apple Streusel Cake
This was the first recipe I found and after giving Joel tons of options, it was his hands down favorite. I will be sharing another of his must have picks later. It was even Noah’s top choice (after lala of course). Whenever we give him two options he always picks the second one, no matter what it is. I’ll admit we sometimes use that to our advantage.  Anyway, I asked him if he wanted apple cake or apple pie. His response: “apple cake.” I reversed the order and: “apple cake.” I asked several more times with a conclusive result of: “apple cake mama.” Apple Streusel Cake

You can’t really blame them can you? Apple cake with streusel and a glaze…I’m totally with them! I don’t care for fruit in dessert all that much but I can absolutely get behind this.

Apple Streusel Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze
recipe from Lauren’s Latest

For the cake:
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup peeled, diced apple (1/4 inch pieces)
1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup low fat buttermilk
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the streusel:
3/4 cup oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts

For the glaze:
3 oz. softened cream cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons softened margarine or butter
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk, or enough to make it a glazing consistency

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9-inch spring form pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and pour all wet ingredients in. Slowly start mixing the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined. Toss in apple pieces and stir. Pour batter into prepared pan. In a small bowl, stir all ingredients for streusel together until butter pieces are small chunks found throughout mixture. Sprinkle over top of cake and bake 45-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Remove from oven and cool.

3. Before serving, whip cream cheese and margarine together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar, vanilla and milk until smooth and runny. Add the milk slowly until desired drizzling consistency is reached. Un-hinge spring form pan and place cake on serving platter. Drizzle with glaze and serve.

Pumpkin Applesauce

Whenever possible, I like to make homemade versions of typically store-bought foods. That way you are really able to control the quality and quantity of ingredients that go into your product. Although I do occasionally buy applesauce from the grocery store, I love being able to make it fresh for my little man. The draw of store-bought applesauce is all the fun, creative flavors and combinations without any sugar added. So really, it’s not a bad thing to purchase. But I still love making things homemade, they always seem to taste better that way.

Pumpkin applesauce was something I had never thought of and totally jumped on as I knew Noah would adore it. I also love that this can be frozen for future use. Another great perk? It can be used as a replacement for oil in baking recipes to make the treats healthier.

Pumpkin Applesauce
recipe from Pennies on a Platter

2 1/2 pounds apples, peeled or unpeeled, cored and chopped
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Mix together the apples, cinnamon, lemon juice and water in a medium sized pot. Cook over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very soft. Remove from heat. Stir in pumpkin puree and vanilla.

2. For chunky applesauce: Use a potato masher to mash the apples to desired consistency.

3. For smooth applesauce: Transfer the apples to a food processor and pulse to desired consistency.

4. Serve at room temperature or cold. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze up to 3 months.

Caramel Apple Cake Pops {The Improv Cooking Challenge}

I am so honored to have been asked (along with over 100 other food bloggers) to participate in The Improv Cooking Challenge hosted by Lady Behind the Curtain. Each month we are given two ingredients and asked to make a recipe from them. For the first month of this awesome challenge, we were presented with apples and caramel. I immediately knew I would make these yummy Caramel Apple Cake Pops.

Aren’t they the cutest darn things you have ever seen? Well, maybe not the cutest. This guy totally wins in my book. Sorry, I love sneaking in photos of my little man whenever I can! This is Noah at 3 months as a giraffe. He is going to be a monkey this year.

I love that these look just like tiny caramel apples but when you bite inside it’s a moist, spicy cake that is accented by the sweet, gooey caramel and salty, crunchy peanuts. Yum! The cuteness of these treats does come at a cost. They are kind of time-consuming to make since they all have to be dipped and rolled. But they are totally worth it. And it is so fun to see your guests reaction to them which is so important to me. I bake and cook because I love to feed others and make them happy! These do the trick!

These were great as written but I think next time I want to punch up the apple taste. I was thinking of two different routes for this. Either dicing an apple or two into small chunks and stirring them in or possibly grating an apple and mixing that in (possibly replacing some of the applesauce). I wasn’t sure about the grated apple…thinking it might add too much moisture. Caramel Apple Cake Pops
recipe from Fun Stuff Cupcakes

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup applesauce
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 egg
1 1/2 cups roasted peanuts, chopped
30 wooden sticks
2 pkgs. (14 oz. each) caramels
5 Tbsp. milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 30 mini muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Stir applesauce, sugar, oil and egg in large bowl until well blended. Add flour mixture; stir until blended. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling three-fourths full.
2. Bake about 16 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
3. Line baking sheet with waxed paper; spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place peanuts on plate or in shallow dish. Insert craft sticks into tops.
4. Place unwrapped caramels and milk in large microwavable bowl; microwave on high 2 to 3 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring after each minutes. Working with 1 cupcake at a time, hold cupcake over bowl and spoon caramel over cupcake, rotating stick until completely coated. Immediately roll in peanuts to coat cupcake, pressing nuts lightly with fingertips to adhere to caramel. Stand cupcake (stick side up) on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cupcakes (caramel may need to be reheated briefly if it becomes too thick). Let stand 20 minutes or until caramel is set.

The Improve Cooking Challenge

Lady Behind the Curtain-Bringing the simplicity of entertaining into your life.

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Linked to the following wonderful blogs:
Full Plate Thursday
Sweet Treats Thursday
Mangia Monday
Totally Tasty Tuesday
Tasty Tuesday
Cast Party Wednesday
What I Whipped Up Wednesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Holiday Sweet Swap

Apple Crisp

I recently got to get together with the MOPS (Mother’s of Preschoolers) group from my church and we made apple crisp. It took a lot of proding to get me to join MOPS.  I’m quite shy when you first meet me and it takes awhile for me to warm up and really be comfortable with people. Social situations where I don’t know many people make me uncomfortable so I usually avoid them but I finally decided to stop worrying and just go. And I’m so glad I did. I have already made a lot of great friends that are so sweet and pretty darn funny too! It’s so great to have some social time where I can get together with other mom’s and just talk about life, our kids, our family and many entertaining topics.

We had so much fun making apple crisp together and I’m so mad that I forgot to bring my camera to capture some shots of all the ladies peeling, chopping and mixing. We used a recipe from one of the MOPS mom’s and it was so good! It would have been perfect topped with Cinnamon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

Apple Crisp

8 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used a mixture of Granny Smith, Fuji and Honeycrisp)
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups Old Fashioned Oats

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place apple slices in a 13 x 9-in. pan. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and cinnamon.
2. Combine flour, brown sugar, oats and butter until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of apples and bake for about 1 hour (mine only took about 50 minutes but my oven seems to cook faster than what most recipes state).

Recipe linked to these wonderful link parties:
Recipe Sharing Monday
Totally Tasty Tuesday
Bake with Bizzy
These Chicks Cooked
Full Plate Thursday
Fat Camp Friday
Friday Potluck
Fusion Friday’s
Seasonal Inspiration
Sweets This Week
Friday Food
Holiday Sweet Swap
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
What I Whipped Up Wednesday
Cast Party Wednesday

Apple Hand Pies

Joel loves apple pie. But I am no good at making them. The crust is always all wrong, it’s sticky and ends up tough. I can never crimp the edges and it always looks like a big, hot mess. When I asked Joel what dessert sounded good, he suggested apple pie since he never has it. I cringed and then a magical thought popped into my head. Why not hand pies? I’ve been seeing them all over the blog world recently and figured this was the perfect opportunity for me to give them a whirl.

I searched online and found a recipe that sounded relatively easy. And luckily it turned out to be. The dough came together so easily in the food processor and I literally only had to knead it twice. It rolled out thinly without much effort. The only little problem I had with the dough is all the chilling time it required.

It is super important for the butter to be cold and diced into small chunks.

The pie crust should look like sand when it is ready to be kneaded.

Then simply knead the dough until it comes together then refrigerate for an hour (or overnight as I did).

I didn’t have the right size biscuit cutter (4 1/2 inches) so I used one of Noah’s baby bowls to cut the mini pie crusts which worked out perfectly. I got exactly 15 crusts out of the dough just as the recipe stated.

Fill the pies with 1 tablespoon of filling then crimp closed with a fork.

Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with coarse sugar, bake and enjoy!

Apple Hand Pies
recipe from

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks frozen butter, cut into little cubes
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup ice-cold water
4 teaspoons lemon juice
2 large granny smith apples, peeled and cut in large dice
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar

1. Place flour, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade attachment. Pulse just until it looks like coarse sand. In another bowl, whisk together sour cream, water and lemon juice. Slowly drizzle in the liquid mixture to the flour and butter, pulsing just until a rough ball forms. Pour out onto a lightly floured board and knead until just combined. Pat dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for one hour.
2. Meanwhile make apple filling. Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add apples and sauté for 3 minutes or until beginning to soften slightly. Add cinnamon and brown sugar. Cook for 2 minutes more, or until brown sugar melts. Remove from heat and cool completely.
3. Remove dough from refrigerator and cut in half. Roll each portion of dough to a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch. Using a round biscuit cutter, cut into circles, about 4 1/2 inches in diameter (the rim of a small bowl works well if you don’t have a biscuit cutter that size). Place on a baking sheet, lined with parchment. Scraps can be re-rolled and cut again. Place baking sheet in the refrigerator and repeat with the other ball of dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5. Remove dough from refrigerator. Place about 1 tablespoon of apple filling on each round. Lightly brush edges with water, and fold over, using a fork to crimp edges together. Place back in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes. Remove from fridge. Brush the tops of each pie with an egg wash (whisk 1 egg yolk with 2 teaspoons of water), and sprinkle with sugar. Pierce each pie with the tip of a knife. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

This recipe is linked to:
Sweet as Sugar Cookies
A Well-Seasoned Life
This Week’s Craving
Holiday Sweet Swap