September 20, 2014

Soft Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Monk Fruit In The Raw. I received product samples to facilitate my post as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
Did you know that September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month? When I found that out, I decided to see what I could come up with to make some treats for my family using Monk Fruit In The Raw to replace some of the sugar in the recipe to reduce the calories a bit, but still retain all the delicious sweetness. Over the past month we've been trying to use Monk Fruit In The Raw on our cereal, in flavored coffee, in iced tea and on fruit and we have found we didn't miss regular sugar at all! I've started making over the switch to using Monk Fruit In The Raw instead of our usual sprinkle of sugar because even those few calories saved add up over time.

Monk Fruit In The Raw can substitute sugar cup for cup in any recipe that doesn't require baking. If you want to bake with Monk Fruit In The Raw it is suggested that you use half Monk Fruit In The Raw and half sugar to help aid in proper volume and texture.

You can learn more about Monk Fruit In The Raw and view some amazing recipes by going to the Monk Fruit In The Raw website:

You can connect with In The Raw on social media by following any of the links below.
These cookies were absolutely yummy! I loved them with a nice hot cup of coffee. They were like biting into Autumn with the warm spices and pumpkin flavor. I even liked them without the frosting. This recipe is one I have made before, using all sugar and I couldn't tell a bit of difference using the Monk Fruit In The Raw. The texture was the totally the same as well. I am definitely sold on using Monk Fruit In The Raw instead of sugar!  You can purchase Monk Fruit In The Raw in a convenient "bakers bag" for baking and filling your sugar jar and in individual packets, great for having on the go. If you are looking for a zero calorie sweetener to use for your family, I would recommend giving this one a try.

Soft Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cookies:
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup Monk Fruit In The Raw
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup mashed pumpkin (canned or fresh cooked and mashed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
2  tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons Monk Fruit In The Raw Bakers Bag
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cookies:
1: Cream together butter, Monk Fruit In The Raw and sugar.

2: Add the eggs, molasses, pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, clove and salt. Mix well.

3: Add the flour and baking soda and combine thoroughly. 

4: Chill dough for 2 hours.

5: Preheat oven to 350*F. Line baking sheets with parchment or grease well. Set aside.

6: Drop cookie dough onto baking sheets by large tablespoons.

7: Bake for 10-14 minutes, until cookies are set but still soft in the center. 

8: Cool on baking sheet for 10-15 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
In a mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on medium speed to beat the cream cheese, butter, and shortening until they are combined and fluffy, 2 minutes. Add the Monk Fruit In The Raw and beat until the frosting is smooth. Mix in the vanilla

Frost cookies using a butter knife or soft spatula when the cookies are completely cool. Refrigerate any leftover cookies.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies and 1 1/2 cups frosting.

September 19, 2014

Grilled Pork Fried Rice

I was selected and compensated for this opportunity to work with Smithfield through Sverve, but as always the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
As a Mom of three kids, I know what busy is. Running here and there, homework, activities, chores, errands... the list goes on and on. Sometimes we all need a delicious meal that will be quick to the table and still be wholesome. This meal fits the bill perfectly. I used some cold left over rice, veggies, seasonings and a Smithfield Portobello Mushroom pork loin fillet and had dinner ready before you know it!

I really enjoyed using Smithfield Marinated pork in this dish because it took some of the work out of dinner time... I didn't have to worry about planning ahead to marinate the pork and it was was so easy to grill and go! Having a a home cooked meal in as little as 30 minutes is so helpful on those busy weeknights.

Right now Food Lion has a great sale on Smithfield Marinated Pork products to make this meal an even sweeter deal. Smithfield Marinated pork comes in a variety of flavors:
  • Portobello Mushroom Loin Fillet
  • Garlic & Herb Filet
  • Peppercorn & Garlic Tenderloin
  • Garlic & Herb Tenderloin
  • Peppercorn Sirloin
  • Garlic & Herb Sirloin  
For the month of September, all of these items are an awesome $4.99 - $9.99 – all under $10 at your local Food Lion store!

If you are looking for even more great meal ideas, check out the Smithfield website: You are sure to find something to please everyone in your family.. from Quickie Meals to Leftover Love and Cooking with Kiddos.

For the recipe I created, I chose to grill my Smithfield Portobello Mushroom pork loin on the grill ahead of time. I wanted that charred, smoky flavor to be evident in the finished dish. My family loves grilled meats so we enjoyed it, but if you aren't a fan you could slice the loin into bite sized pieces and stir fry them just before adding the vegetables to your wok. The nice thing about this dish is that you can use whatever vegetables you might have on hand or that your family likes... don't feel like you have to stick solely to the vegetables I used. Add your own spin! I used a combination of frozen and fresh vegetables to make things a little faster. I had a bag of frozen diced carrots as well as frozen peas and they worked beautifully. Some days the less chopping and slicing, the better!

I hope you will try this yummy recipe and give these Smithfield Marinated pork products a chance to make your family meal time fast, easy and delicious because #FlavorHailsFromSmithfield

Grilled Pork Fried Rice
1 Smithfield Portobello Mushroom Pork Loin Filet (Grilled or roasted and cut into bite size pieces)
6 eggs, scrambled in a separate skillet
2 Tablespoons canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how spicy you’d like it)
1 large onion, chopped
16 oz bag frozen peas and carrots
4 Cups fresh (frozen would work too) broccoli florets
4 Cups prepared rice
1/2 Cup soy sauce
Green onions (for garnish)

1: Grill or roast pork loin according to package directions. Allow to rest and then cut into bite sized pieces. Set aside.

2: In a small skillet, scramble eggs in a little bit of canola oil and set aside.

3: Add canola oil to a large wok, skillet or electric frying pan over medium high heat.

4: Add garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and onion to oil and stir fry until onion begins to become translucent.

5: Add peas and carrot and stir fry until thawed.

6: Add broccoli and stir fry until just crisp tender.

7: Reduce heat to low. Add cooked rice, combine well.

8: Add Sesame oil and soy sauce, mix again.

9: Add scrambled eggs, mix well and remove from heat.

10: Plate, adding chopped green onion for garnish. Enjoy!

Makes 10 servings

September 18, 2014

Feta and Spinach Stuffed Chicken with Bacon


Is it feeling like Autumn where you are? The past week here in PA has been beautifully cool and wonderful! I am ready for the change of seasons... falling leaves, cooler nights, cozy sweaters, wooly socks and lots of  hearty, belly warming meals. School is back in session, football has started again and the holidays are only a couple of months away... this is definitely my favorite time of year for so many reasons. This is the time of year when I make lots of crock pot dishes, roasts in the oven and casseroles. Soul filling foods that permeate the house with delicious scents and just make you feel happy to be home after a long day.

September 16, 2014

Cast Iron Skillet Chai Apple Upside Down Cake

This past weekend I was searching though my pantry looking for something different to make for breakfast and I came up with the idea to make this upside down cake. The first time I made it, I used a gluten free yellow cake mix that I had been sent to work with from a sponsor, since I had it on hand. I'd decided that I want to add some vanilla and cinnamon to the prepared cake batter... since those flavors pair so well with apples. When I went to get my cinnamon, I realized my teenaged daughter had used it the last of it and didn't tell me! I really didn't want to go running to the store on that lazy Sunday morning so I started brainstorming about what else could be used instead of the cinnamon. As I was making another cup of coffee... I noticed the Chai Keurig pods that were sitting in their holder and I knew that would be the PERFECT addition! It ended up being amazing! I think it was a million times better than just the cinnamon would have been. It was warm and spicy and absolutely delicious. Everyone in the family (even my fussy eaters) adored it. That first cake was GONE between 5 of us within a couple hours!

September 14, 2014

Cinnamon Roll French Toast

Now that school is back in session, weekend breakfasts have taken on a new meaning. Monday through Friday, our mornings are busy and breakfast usually means something quick and easy. None of my kids are big on eating much as soon as they wake up so a piece of fruit, a small bowl of oatmeal or maybe some toast and that's all they want before heading out the door. Weekend breakfasts are slower, more relaxed and often times eaten closer to lunch time in our household. Last weekend I made this delicious Cinnamon Roll French Toast and it was definitely a hit.

September 5, 2014

Back To School Lunches with #HillshireNaturals

I was selected and compensated for this opportunity to work with #HillshireFarms, but as always the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

It's that time of year again! Back to school for the kiddos! Yes, you might hear just a little bit of excitement as I say that... Mama is ready for some quiet time ;) But before I get that blessed quiet time, getting geared up for back to school means many shopping trips for new wardrobes, school supplies and wholesome ideas for packed lunches. The clothes and supplies are simple... it's the lunch part that causes me stress. Trying to find lunch ideas that my kids will love that are good for them can be a struggle. My kids love sandwiches but I have always hesitated sending them with lunch meat because of all the artificial this and that... until I was introduced to the new Hillshire Farm Naturals premium line of lunch meat!

The other day I bought some Hillshire Farm Naturals at my local Walmart and took it home for a before school test to see what my kids thought of it. And you know what? They absolutely LOVED it! Score! I loved it too because not only does it taste great, it contains no artificial ingredients, preservatives or colors. I bought the Hardwood Smoked Turkey Breast and Honey Roasted Ham, since those are our favorite tastes but Hillshire Farm also makes a Slow Roasted Turkey Breast as well as a Black Forest Ham that I am sure are equally as delicious.

The lunch meat is packaged for freshness in double-sealed, resealable tubs that lock in the #HillshireNaturals great taste. I also love the resealable tubs to sort all kinds of craft items once the lunch meat is all gone. They also make wonderful lunch box containers for snacks ;)

You can connect with Hillshire Farm on the web at the following places:

September 4, 2014

Dark Hope: Book One of the Archangel Prophecies *Review*

I absolutely love to read. I can easily read 2-3 books per week with no problem. A good portion of the books I read are YA novels... yes, at 42 I still enjoy young adult literature, as strange as that may sound. I find it especially fun to read YA literature because my 13 year old daughter and I will frequently read the same book and then have a great time discussing the book together. It's a wonderful way to connect with her during a stage where connecting can be a little difficult... you know how those young teen years are!