Pumpkin Mac and Cheese (Spaghetti Squash)

Hey ya’ll! It’s Monday. If this were a normal school, I would totally be happy because I would have the entire day off for Veteran’s day to study for my advanced nutrition exam that is on Wednesday, but no I have class from 3-9. Go me. In order to cheer myself up, I have decided to share another recipe with ya’ll with some of my favorite ingredients. One is obviously pumpkin. I think pumpkin is one of the greatest things about fall, besides my birthday of course. The other ingredient is spaghetti squash. Ya’ll know I can’t live without my spaghetti squash. Seriously that thing is a staple in my diet. A good one too. So today I have for ya’ll: Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Spaghetti Squash.

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Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

1/2 spaghetti squash (if you really don’t like it, you can use regular noodles)
1/2 to 3/4 c of pumpkin (depending on how pumpkiny you want it)
1/4 c of light cream cheese
1/4 c of skim milk
1/3 c of shredded cheese (I used WW Mexican blend)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp of salt
sprinkle or two of pepper
Turkey bacon and green onions for garnish

1. First you will want to cook your spaghetti squash. I heat my oven to 400, stab my spaghetti squash all over with a knife, and then place in the oven for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Then I remove, let it cool, and then split it in half. You only need half of the spaghetti squash or even less than half because it provides a ton of “noodles” for the recipe.

2. Place your noodles in a medium pot and turn the heat on medium low.

3. Add pumpkin, cream cheese, skim milk, shredded cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper to the pot. Continuously stir as the ingredients heat.

3. You want to heat the dish until the cream cheese and shredded cheese has completely melted through. There will be no white chunks in the noodles is when you will be able to tell that it is ready.

4. You can let it sit on low heat while you work on the garnish. Heat a small skillet pan and place two to three slices of turkey bacon on. Cook until crispy. Then chop up into small pieces to place on top of pasta dish.

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6. Split into two or three servings depending on how much you want to eat. It is a pretty low calorie recipe since you are using spaghetti squash instead of actual noodles. This way you don’t need to feel as guilty.

7. You can top each bowl with green onions too, which gives it a nice flavor. Enjoy.

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This sort of looks like a pile of mush that isn’t appetizing in the least bit. However then you realize it is made with cheese. Who doesn’t love cheese? If you don’t like cheese, we probably can’t be friends. Actually that is a lie because one of my friends is allergic to dairy and I still love him. Anyways this dish is cheesy goodness with a light pumpkin flavor. To get it more pumpkin flavored and less cheese like, you will need to add more pumpkin. I thought it was perfect like this because it was a cold day and I was looking for something warm and filling to bring for my dinner that evening to class. The best part about this dish, besides it being super cheesy, is that it is pretty healthy for you. All the cheese and milk was low fat or fat free. Plus the base of the dish is just a vegetable. That is why I love spaghetti squash. You can create any pasta dish that you want without all the unnecessary calories while still getting a good source of fiber. It is a win-win in my eyes.

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Cheeeeeeeeese!

Happy Veteran’s day! I’ll be having fun in class all day, so wooo!

What is the best thing you have made with spaghetti squash?
Have you ever used alternative options for noodles?

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Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts

Hey ya’ll! I hope everyone had a pretty fantastic weekend. Those of you that don’t have school or work tomorrow are lucky because the perks of being a graduate student means that I get to go to my 6 hours of class tomorrow. Weeeee. Anyways this has been a pretty good weekend. On Friday, I went to this salsa dancing place with my best friend from home, Isa, and these two guys. It was interesting to say the least. I am a pretty good dancer, but even I felt like the whitest person in the room. The rest of the weekend I have been working my butt off on all these assignments for school. Yes more perks of grad life. Luckily this has given me time to make a ton of delicious recipes to share with ya’ll. I have a doughnut recipe for ya’ll today. I was so happy when my mom mailed me my doughnut pan because it means I can make some delicious treats to enjoy with my hot chocolate (and for my roommates to have with their coffee in the mornings). Since it is fall, I obviously had to go pumpkin themed!

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Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts

2 cups of flour (any type – I used white all purpose)
1 1/2 tsp of baking power
1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
1/4 tsp of ginger
1/4 tsp of cloves
1 1/2 c of pumpkin
1/4 cup of softened butter
3/4 c of brown sugar
2 tsp of vanilla extract
2 tbsp of skim milk
3 medium eggs

Maple Glaze

1 1/4 c of powdered sugar
1/4 c of sugar free pancake syrup (use maple or regular syrup)
2 tsp of cinnamon
2 tbsp of skim milk

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1. Preheat the oven to 350. Get out your doughnut pan and spray with nonstick cooking spray or grease with some butter.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, all the spices, and salt together. Stir well with a whisk until the ingredients appear to be thoroughly mixed by making the flour appear a brown color.

3. If butter is not softened, place in microwave for about 20 seconds until soft. Then place into a mixing bowl with the brown sugar and pumpkin. If you have a kitchen aid or mixer, you can use that. However I used a whisk and did it by hand. You can add more pumpkin if you like depending on how much pumpkin flavor you want to the doughnut. Once you have mixed thoroughly, the mixture will appear to be a grainy brown texture.

4. Add in the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Mix until the eggs are no longer seen. Then slowly pour in the flour mixture. I used a 1/4 cup to pour it in slowly while I hand mixed it. At times, it gets a little harder to stir. It will appear to be a thick mixture, so you have to spoon it into the doughnut pan and move it around with your hands because it is not liquidy enough to pour.

5. Bake in oven for 16 minutes.

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6. Let the doughnuts cool until you can remove them from the pan. This recipe made about 12 doughnuts. While the doughnuts are cooking, you can make the glaze. Just put all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix.

7. You want to set up a frosting station by placing aluminum foil down and then placing a wire rack on top. I was lucky enough that our microwave came along with a wire rack.

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8. Dip the doughnut into the bowl of frosting one at a time. Really let the doughnut soak into the frosting then flip it over and place it on the wire rack. Repeat for each doughnut.

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9. Let the doughnuts harden for about 20-30 minutes, so that the icing solidifies on the top of the icing. Eat and enjoy.

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These doughnuts are the bomb. I wish there was a never ending supply of these because they are just that good. The doughnut is really soft and moist inside, which is nice because it is baked instead of fried. The icing really soaks into the cake too. It gives a good syrupy taste inside the doughnut. The spices mix really well. At first I was worried because when I tasted the batter it was kind of over spiced. I think that baking in the oven helped mix all of it together and let it become less ginger-like. I can’t wait to enjoy these in the morning with my hot chocolate. I may even crumble one into my bowl of oatmeal. I am getting all kinds of ideas now.

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I am obsessed with doughnuts. I’m not even sure what started this obsession. Maybe Gourdoughs? Dunkin? I’m not sure, but who cares because doughnuts are so delicious. I can’t wait to start exploring with other recipes in my pan. This will definitely be a treat for my weekends every few weeks or so. I am already brainstorming delicious doughnut combinations. Ya’ll will be excited with what my brain has for you! I hope you enjoyed this recipe and try it out because you definitely won’t be disappointed.

What is your favorite flavor of doughnut?
What is the best pumpkin treat you have made this fall?

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

Hey ya’ll! We survived Monday. My last class was extremely painful, but I did it! We even got out 10 minutes early, which was amazing. The funny thing is that the class is so boring that at least 16 students were skipping class. I wonder if the professor knows how boring his class is. Anyways lets talk about food. I love food. Especially spaghetti squash. It is squash season right now and I am completely in my element. I have been coming up with squash recipes left and right, so I’m going to share one with ya’ll today. Let me introduce: Spaghetti Squash Carbonara.

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Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

1 c of Spaghetti Squash
2 slices of turkey bacon
1/2 c of peas
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 tsp of butter/margarine
1 pinch of shredded Parmesan

Sauce:
1 egg
1/2 c of egg whites
1/2 c of skim milk
1/8 tsp of nutmeg
1/4 tsp of garlic powder
1/8 tsp of salt
1/8 tsp of pepper
1-2 tbsp of flour

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1. Preheat oven to 375. Place spaghetti squash in a pyrex baking dish. Either cut the squash in half or poke holes in the entire squash with a fork or knife. Then place in the oven for an hour or until soft.

2. Once cooked, remove, wait till cooled off, and then pull out spaghetti from the squash.

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3. Slice up the two turkey bacon pieces into fine bits. Place them in a pan that is on medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until it has become crisp.

4. Add in the garlic and cook for about 2-3 minutes.

5. Add in the butter and peas. This will take another 2-3 minutes to cook through.

6. Remove mixture and place into a dish with 1 c of the spaghetti squash.

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7. Whisk egg and egg whites in a small bowl. Then whisk in milk, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Whisk over medium heat for 2 minutes and then let sit for another 2 minutes. At this point add in the flour to make it thicken.

8. Pour over your bowl of prepared pasta and mix thoroughly. Top with shredded Parmesan.

This dish is so delicious and healthy for you. I love spaghetti squash. It is the best alternative to pasta. Low calorie and packed with nutrients. Spaghetti Carbonara is one of my favorite dishes at classic Italian restaurants, but it is one of the dishes that packs the most fat and calories. I obviously had to come up with my own healthy version that had just as much flavor. This was it. The smokiness of the cooked bacon with the garlic brings a nice flavor to the dish. The peas are very subtle in the dish and just provide a nice texture. The sauce is what really makes this dish. It is creamy and holds the noodles together. Topped with Parmesan it is perfect. I ended up eating this multiple times during the week. I brought it to class at night for my dinner twice, and of course everyone was staring at me yet again. Once it leaked in my backpack because my dish wasn’t sealed tight enough. Now my backpack smells like spaghetti squash carbonara. Oh well.

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Spaghetti squash contains a wide variety of vitamins. It contains a large amount of Vitamin C, which helps with immunity. Other vitamins that spaghetti squash contains is vitamin A, B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, and Vitamin K. Each of these vitamins plays key roles in your body. It is important to get the RDA of each one every day, so that your body is functioning properly. There are also minerals in spaghetti squash. The dominant mineral is manganese, which helps in healthy bones, tissues, and hormones. It also plays a role in metabolism, regulation of blood sugar, absorption of calcium, and functioning of nervous system. Other minerals in spaghetti squash are potassium, magnesium, copper, calcium, and iron. Also this packs a ton of fiber, which helps with the digestive system and cancer. And that is just the squash! This dish packs a ton of health benefits, so please make this to enjoy it!

Have an awesome Tuesday, I’ll be spending the entire day studying for my Advanced Nutrition midterm.

Do you eat a lot of spaghetti squash?
What is the best dish you have made with spaghetti squash?

A Sweet Treat – Petit Fours

Hey ya’ll! I hope everyone is having a fantastic day. Today is a very special day. Two of my best friends, since high school, have the same birthday, which is today. I’m very sad because this is the first time in 9 years that I haven’t spent with them. So I thought I would give them a very special shout out on the blog and share a recipe that can be used for birthdays and birthday parties – petit four cakes.
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This is us watching Harry Potter at the alamo drafthouse. They had butter beer, which was really delicious.  We always have the best time. Happy birthday Isa and Shayna! I love you guys so much. So now time for the more delicious part of the post. A petit four recipe. I love to bake. It is such a stress relief for me, so anytime I can bake I am a happy person. These petit fours are not your traditional ones that are extremely tedious, but instead they are pretty simple to make. If you want to do a meticulous version, you can bake them on a jelly roll sheet and cut them into little square, but who wants to do that. No one.

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Petit Four Cake

8 oz unsalted butter (make sure it is at room temperature)
8 oz of sugar
4 large eggs (at room temperature)
8 oz of all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla bean paste

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1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Get a silicon baking pan that are in small squares such as one for brownies or fudge. Then grease or spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray.

3. Sift the all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. Then place that mixture aside.

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4. In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter. Then add in the sugar and vanilla. Add the 4 eggs into the mixture one at a time until thoroughly blended.

5. Slowly add the sifted flour mixture until mixed well.

6. Spread into the silicon pan up to 3/4 of the square.

7. Bake for 15-18 minutes until you can touch the top of the cake and it bounces back.

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This is just a plain vanilla cake for the base. However you can make a ton of variations of cake to make as petit fours. To make a lemon cake, you can add 2 tbsp of lemon zest and 2 or more tsp of fresh lemon juice. I’ve made them and they are quite delicious. I think if you want a stronger lemon flavor, I would add more lemon juice. You can also make an orange cake using the same ingredients, but oranges. So orange zest and orange juice. Also chocolate would be a delicious cake to make. Just add 2 oz or more of unsweetened cocoa powder. A raspberry cake would be good too. I have all kinds of delicious flavor combinations in my head. Yum. Next comes the hard part of all of this.

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For the filling part, which comes after the cakes cool off, you will need pastry bags, tips, and filling. For the first time we made these, we ended up buying round tips, which was such a bad idea. You need a sharper tip to stab into the cake. For the filling, you can either make your own or buy pre-made filling. We ended up buying pre-made filling from this super cute bake shop in Austin, Make it Sweet, where we bought all of the baking tools at. This store is fantastic. They offer tons of classes and have all kinds of baking supplies. It is awesome. So for this part, you take each cake one at a time, poke in the tip, and squeeze your pastry bag to insert the filling into the cake. Sometimes it is hard to tell, so I would practice on one cake and then cut it in half to see if you got enough in there. We ended up filling our cakes with lemon and Bavarian cream. Delicious.  Now it is time for the icing.

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Petit Four Icing
2 lbs of confectioners’ sugar
2 oz of butter, melted
8 oz of heavy cream
1 tsp of almond or vanilla flavoring
food color if you would like to color your icing

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1. Place all of the ingredients in the top of a double boiler over hot water. You can just use two pots in this method. Place water in the bottom pot and then place another one on top of this. Although if you have a double boiler, props to you for having awesome cookware.

2. Stir the mixture until it is smooth.

3. Divide the icing into smaller groups and color each if you want to.

We ended up making our petit fours hot pink and aqua. These were for our volleyball players, so that is why we choose those super girly colors. These were okay for our first attempt at them. We are going to perfect them now today for my mom’s friends engagement party for her son and his fiance. We made notes as we baked them about all the things that we needed to edit, so now we can make perfect petit fours. Although they were not the prettiest of cakes for our first time, they were still extremely delicious.

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Be careful if you dye them a darker color like the aqua. It can stain your mouth for a little while like eating a blue piece of candy. You will certainly enjoy these treats though. They are cute little cakes to have at parties or at tea time. While they aren’t very healthy for you, they are nice to have as a sweet treat every once in a while. A smart thing to do is bake them and then place them in the freezer. You can take one out at a time to enjoy when you are craving that sweet treat. One batch made about 40 cakes.

I hope everyone has a fantastic day, especially my two best friends!

Have you ever had a petit four?
What is your favorite thing to bake?

Eggplant Parmesan Gets Healthified

Hey ya’ll! Hope everyone is having a good Saturday. I swear I am getting so forgetful these days. I just remembered that I had a paper due at midnight tonight in my online philosophy class. It is not a fun assignment either. Boo to doing work. Luckily my mom and I are working on a delicious baked good hat I will definitely be sharing with ya’ll in a couple of days. Until then I’m going to have to share another delicious recipe with ya’ll: Eggplant parmesan. Eggplant parm can pack in a ton of unnecessary calories, but if you follow this recipe then you will be able to lose weight while eating great!

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Healthified Eggplant Parmesan
1 eggplant
1-2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 fresh tomato
1/2 c. of tomato sauce
6-8  thin slices of mozzarella
1 tbsp of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
pinch of salt

photo(5)1. Preheat oven to 375. Slice eggplant lengthwise into slices and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle salt on top of the slices and drizzle a little bit of olive oil on each piece.

2. Cook in the oven for around 20 minutes or until the eggplant appears slightly brown.

3. Then place a small amount of sauce on each slice of eggplant (I had around four slices of eggplant, so it didn’t take that much sauce to cover lightly). Then add on 2-3 slices of tomato on each piece of eggplant. Next you add 1-2 slices of the mozzarella cheese (make sure that each slice of cheese is pretty thin that way you won’t be consuming a ton of calories and you will get the great meltability that you want). Finally sprinkle on some breadcrumbs and place into the oven.

photo(4)4. Cook in the oven at 400 degrees until the cheese is completely melted. Then remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes until warm enough to take off the pan.

photo(1)I am in love with this dish. A great thing to serve along with it would be spaghetti squash (just another vegetable that I’m obsessed with). The cheese, when it melts, provides a nice creamy flavor to the crunch of the crisped breadcrumbs. The eggplant is soft from being cooked, yet it is crisp on the outside. It provides a nice contrast in your mouth. Also by only having a thin amount of sauce, there is not a ton of mess from this fantastic dish.

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Italian food is one of the best good genres in my opinion, well besides Asian of course. However Italian food comes along with tons of empty calories and high fattening foods, so it is important to either modify the recipe or make smart choices when you are eating out! I hope ya’ll like this recipe because I know I did. Have an awesome rest of the night. I’m going back into the nerd world of writing papers. The things I do to make it to graduation.