Mini Sweet Potato Pies: Decadent Cookie Pies Recipe! #InTheALDIKitchen

Mini Sweet Potato Pies

Last month I visited ALDI’s US headquarters on a blogger trip to participate in an ALDI Test Kitchen holiday event. One treat that was introduced during the food styling portion of the day was their take on mini sweet potato pies. They had named them “Cookie Pies” and I was instantly in love with their adorable size, and I definitely adored the name!

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After a delicious dinner from a selection of ALDI’s specially developed recipes, I popped one of those mini sweet potato pies into my mouth. I decided right then and there that I needed to make these cookie pies for my family!

With a buttery sugar cookie crust, and a topping of whipped cream, pecans and caramel, the sweet potato flavor in the fluffy filling is very almost undetectable. In fact, I made everyone in my family try a cookie pie (and confirm that they loved it as much as I did!) before revealing that they weren’t pumpkin, which everyone assumed. When I told them all that they were actually eating mini sweet potato pies, no one could believe it!

Now I want to share this Cookie Pies recipe with you. Since the recipe comes directly from ALDI (and I have permission to share it), you’ll see some store-specific ingredients. If you don’t live near an ALDI store, feel free to substitute a different brand.

Mini Sweet Potato Pies

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray
  • 16 ounces Bake House creations Break ‘N Bake Sugar Cookie Dough
  • ¼ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 4 ounces Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 8 ouncesWhipped Topping, thawed, divided
  • 24 Pecan Halves, toasted
  • Caramel Apple Dip

Directions for Mini Sweet Potato Pies

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Place sweet potatoes in a  saucepan and cover with water. Boil for 30 minutes or until cooked through. Drain and place in a medium bowl. Mash until smooth. (use a hand mixer to speed up the mashing)
  3. Coat a mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Place a sugar cookie square in each muffin tin and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Remove from oven and press down the center of the cookie to create a cup.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, cinnamon, cream cheese and half of the whipped topping.
  6. Remove sugar cookie cups from muffin tin and place on a platter. Spoon sweet potato mixture into cooled cups and top with a dollop of whipped topping.
  7. Place a toasted pecan half on top of each cup. Drizzle with caramel apple dip.

mini sweet potato piesThese mini sweet potato pies are perfect for the holidays or any sort of gathering! If you make them, please come back and let me know how much you like them :)

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe: The Easiest Recipe for Perfect Gingerbread Men!

gingerbread cookies recipe

I love to bake, but making any sort of cutout cookie can challenge my patience and short attention span! Plus, finding a good gingerbread cookies recipe is a challenge in itself!

However, both my little ones have been sick and Haiden has been requesting gingerbread men cookies for the past several days. Since I’d do my best to give my kids anything they wanted, especially when they’re unwell, making cookies doesn’t seem like such a chore :)

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If you’re looking for quality cookie cutter suggestions, I have to say that the Wilton Comfort Grip Cookie Cutters are my favorite. The metal cuts through dough eaily, and the “grip” reinforces she shape of the cookie cutter so it doesn’t get bent out of shape. I also like using my Nordicware half-sheet pans as cookie sheets. They’re sturdy, they heat evenly and they’re big–maximizing the amount of cookies I can get into the oven at the same time!

This is my favorite gingerbread cookies recipe. I like that it comes together easily. To be honest, I usually dump all the ingredients but the flour into the bowl of my KitchenAid mixer, cream them together, then slowly add the flour. It makes mixing up the dough a snap!

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions for the Gingerbread Cookies recipe:

  1. Cream the butter, shortening and the sugar together. Add the egg, vanilla and molasses and mix until well-blended.
  2. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, ground cloves and salt, mixing until well combined. Use a wooden spoon if your mixer can’t handle it.
  3. Transfer the dough to an airtight container and chill for 2-3 hours.
  4. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Lightly flour a surface and roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Use cookie cutters to cut out the dough in Gingerbread Men or other shapes
  7. Place cookies 1″ apart on greased cookie sheets.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are light brown along the edges.

Enjoy!

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An M&M’s Stocking Stuffer, an XBox One Gift and Something for Me! #FueledbyMM #shop

CB-sponsored-post-white-600Forza Motorsport 5 and M&M'sI’m a deal-seeker. That means I’m always looking to either spend less than an advertised price or get something extra with my purchases. In short, I want to get the most for my money! Snacks and video games aren’t my usual combination that produces a great deal, but I have an exception to share!

I have a lot of people on my shopping list this Christmas, which means it’s even more important to figure out the best deals, coupons and gifts with purchases to spend less and while get as much as possible. [Read more...]

Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice Recipe: A Starbucks Copycat!

starbucks caramel apple spice recipe

I love Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice beverage, but it seriously bothers me to pay that much for apple cider. Fancy  drinks with flavored syrups and premium espresso? Yes. I can’t do that at home. But figure out a Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice recipe so I can make it at home? I can do that!

I promise you, you’ll be hooked on this Caramel Apple Spice recipe after you make it one time. It’s delicious, and it’s easy to make Caramel Apple Spice in a crockpot if you’re serving it to a group. Even better, you can also make a single serving!

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I’ve seen several recipes for Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice that require Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce syrup*. I’m sure you’d eventually use up the entire liter of syrup, but I also think the drink can be made without spending $13-$17 on a gourmet coffee syrup.

One more note: get a good caramel sauce in a squeeze bottle for a more authentic experience. It doesn’t have to be a $10 caramel coffee topping, though! Look for this Smucker’s Caramel Sundae Syrup the next time you’re at the grocery store.

Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice

Serves 1. See below for how to make it for a crowd.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces (1.5 cups) apple juice
  • 1-3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • Generous pinch of cinnamon
  • Whipped cream
  • Caramel sauce

How to Make a Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice

  1. Heat the apple juice over medium heat just until boiling.
  2. Reduce heat and add brown sugar and cinnamon to taste. (I recommend starting with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and adding more if you want it sweeter) Stir until the brown sugar is dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and pour into a large mug.
  4. Top the beverage with a generous amount of whipped cream Drizzle the caramel over the whipped cream.
  5. Enjoy!

If you want to make Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice for a group, use a slow cooker or a coffee urn (this 30-cup coffee urn is $29.99 and eligible for free shipping) to make the cider all at once. Then allow guests to garnish their cider with the whipped cream and caramel.

I’m going to assume your slow cooker has a 4-quart capacity. Two 64 ounce bottles of juice will fill it all the way up, so follow the recipe below that explains how to make it with one bottle of juice. Double or triple the recipe as needed to make as much as you’ll need.

To make Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice for a crowd:

  1. Pour 1 64-ounce bottle of apple juice into your slow cooker, coffee urn or a large stockpot.
  2. Stir in 1/2-1 cup of brown sugar to taste.
  3. Add 1/2-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
  4. Turn the slow cooker on high, turn on the coffee urn or Heat the contents of the stockpot on medium-low. Watch the stockpot so the sugar doesn’t burn! 
  5. When the apple juice mix is steaming, serve in mugs to guests. Top with whipped cream and caramel.

*If you do want to use Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce syrup in the single serving Caramel Apple Spice recipe, just omit the brown sugar and cinnamon from the recipe above and use 1-3 tablespoons of Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Syrup instead. If you’re making a batch with a full bottle of juice, use 1/2-1 cup Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Syrup for each bottle of juice.

Image credit: Sholeh

Mashed Potato Substitutes: 10 Fantastic Side Dishes for the Dinner Table

Mashed Potato Substitutes

When I was younger, I was always searching the dinner table for those mashed potato substitutes and alternatives. Call me crazy, but I seriously did not like mashed potatoes. Now that I’ve grown up, I’ve become a normal woman with typical characteristics: I’m a mom, a homemaker, a wife and a carb addict!

Of course, since I challenged my own parents by being a picky eater, my kids seem to be following in my footsteps. Now they’re the ones who turn their noses up at potatoes and scan the buffet for mashed potato substitutes!

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When I reflect upon my own childhood tastes and how they’ve changed as I’ve grown up, I like to reassure myself that my kids will come to like more food on their own time. Until then, I’m going to bring at least one of these mashed potato substitutes to the Thanksgiving table!

Before you leave to check out these amazing recipes, be sure to take a look at my easy Thanksgiving crafts featuring over 30 Thanksgiving crafts for preschoolers and toddlers!

Mashed Potato Substitutes

1.  Bruleed (or not) Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes. These can be made in individual portions or as a casserole.

2.  Roasted Sweet Potato and Carrot Mash

3.  Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

4.  Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

5.  Loaded Mashed Cauliflower with bacon, sour cream and cheese.

6.  Gorgonzola Mashed Potato Latkes with Jalepeno Apple Relish

7.  Individual Au Gratin Potatoes made in muffin cups!

8.  Fingerling Potatoes with Rosemary Alfredo Sauce

9.  Simple Roasted Red Potatoes with Tarragon and Garlic

10.  Boerenkool Stamppot (Kale Mash Pot). This is one of those true mashed potato substitutes–a traditional Dutch dish made with vegetables and smoked sausage.

Do you love mashed potatoes? Will you be making any mashed potato substitutes over the holiday season?

Cornbread Stuffing Recipe and a $1000 Giveaway! Make a Difference And Choose Foods in Cartons

This post brought to you by Carton Smart. All opinions are 100% mine.

Keep reading to find out how to enter the $1000 giveaway!
One of the first things that comes to my mind when I think about the holidays is cooking and baking. So many memories and good feelings are wrapped up in the foods I share with family and friends, just writing about it makes me want to get to work in the kitchen!
I consider myself fairly environmentally conscious—I limit my use of plastic bags, try to use reusable containers, I recycle everything that can be recycled and, overall, I’m very conscious of how my actions impact the environment.
Sometimes it’s a bit disheartening to toss my waste into a recycling bin, only to see a dirty trash bin overflowing with goods that could have been recycled. It makes me wonder if my actions are doing any good at all. Then I’m reminded that I’m definitely not the only one recycling. As an individual, my actions feel small, but, when multiplied, those small decisions add up.
Tetra Pak’s carton packages are designed for maximum efficiency and environmental friendliness, and their designs make those smart little decisions even easier. Here are just a few reasons to choose products in Tetra Pak cartons:
  • Tetra Pak cartons are made of 70% paper, which is a renewable resource.
  • Tetra Pak cartons are recyclable and use 1/3of the packaging compared to cans. They ltimately result in 60% less landfill waste than cans.
  • The cartons are reclosable, meaning you can use what you need and save the rest for later. It also eliminates using another container to store the excess!
  • The unique packaging process preserves the flavor and nutrients in food without using preservatives.
There are so many fantastic foods packaged in cartons that can be used to Become Carton Smart when preparing holiday meals. Two items that surprised me when I saw them were Pacific Foods jellied cranberry sauce and Pacific Foods Organic pumpkin puree. I had no idea either one of these came in anything other than a can!
You can Tweet @CartonSmart and Follow #CartonSmart on Pinterest to find out about more products sold in Tetra Pak cartons!
This year, my family and I are heading to my sister’s for Thanksgiving. My sister and I are close and we both love to cook, so I’m more than happy to bring a ton of ingredients and spend the day cooking and preparing for Thanksgiving dinner alongside her. In years past, I’ve made a fabulous stuffing that’s a mix of cornbread, white bread, veggies, herbs and chicken broth. If I make it this year, I’ll be sure to buy Pacific Foods chicken broth that comes packaged in Tetra Pak cardboard rather than a can.

Cornbread Stuffing Recipe:

Cornbread Stuffing Recipe Ingredients:
  • 1 Pan Of Cornbread (homemade or made from a mix), in 1-inch cubes
  • 1 16oz loaf French Bread, in 1 inch cubes
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 cups Pacific Foods No Sodium chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried rosemary, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Cornbread Stuffing Recipe Preparation Instructions:
  1. Spread the cubed cornbread and french bread out on two baking sheets and let dry overnight. (I put them in my cold oven because I hate letting food sit out).
  2. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and celery and cook until the onions start to get soft and translucent.
  3. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add basil, thyme, rosemary and half of the chopped fresh parsley. Stir until combined.
  4. Place dried bread cubes in a large bowl and mix them up a bit. Gradually pour the broth mixture into the bread, tossing as you go. Keep gradually adding the broth mixture until the bread is fully moistened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place in two greased baking dishes and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown on top.



1000 blog giveaway


Ready to win?

Want to win $500 for you and $500 for the charity of your choice?
To enter the giveaway, visit CartonSmart and leave a comment below sharing your “small smart” recipe that uses ingredients in cartons OR a smart entertaining tip that produces great tasting food with little waste.
Note: Izea (the facilitator of this blog post) is hosting this giveaway, so please see the official rules here: http://socialspark.com/carton-smart-rules.

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