Pumpkin Sugar Cookies 1 | Espresso and Cream

 

It’s not often, but every once in a while I get the urge to bake something cute. I should clarify that “cute food” really isn’t my thing, but sometimes it’s pretty hard to resist the seasonal section at Target and I leave with, say, a pumpkin cookie cutter and fall-colored sprinkles that I didn’t even know I needed. Dang you, Target. Thankfully, the cookie cutter was only $1, meaning you, too, can easily get caught up in the excitement of fall, cute food and all things pumpkin.

Since everyone is posting pumpkin-flavored desserts, I decided to go with something that looked like a pumpkin rather than tasting like one. Although these cookies may look like a lot of work, they really aren’t too much of a pain to make since the decorating is on the simple side. And for a little extra time and effort, it’s worth it for the adorable end result.

This frosting is incredibly easy to work with and very versatile. The key to getting the glassy look on the cookies is to outline with a stiffer frosting, then thin the remaining frosting with a bit more milk so it spreads easily when put in the center of the cookie. The border you piped around the edge will prevent the thinner frosting from dripping out all over the cookies and give you a polished, perfect look. I could easily see this recipe be adapted for other Halloween shapes, like a bat or ghost. The sky’s the limit!

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies | Espresso and Cream

Frosted Sugar Cookie Pumpkins
Author: 
 
Recipe adapted slightly from Bon Appetit Dec. 2013.
Ingredients
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • Decorator Frosting
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons milk, plus more for thinning
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • Orange and green food coloring
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325°F. In large bowl, combine salt, baking powder and flour until well combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar until smooth and well combined. Beat in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla or almond extract. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and beat until just combined.
  3. Place on lightly floured surface and roll to ¼-inch thickness. Cut into pumpkin shape using a pumpkin cookie cutter and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are just lightly golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheets. Transfer to wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar, butter and milk until smooth and well combined. Use enough milk to create a frosting that is smooth but firm enough to pipe through a pastry bag.
  5. Place ¼ of the frosting in a small bowl and color with green food coloring. Color remaining frosting in large bowl with orange food color. Place a small amount of the orange and green frostings in pastry bags or zip top bags with the end snipped off. Use orange frosting in pastry bag to pipe a border around the edge of the pumpkin.
  6. Add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons milk to the remaining icing until it is slightly softer and runs a little more freely. Spoon a small amount of icing into the center of each lined cookie. Tilt the cookies around so icing in center completely fills the outlined cookie.
  7. Repeat process with the green frosting on the stem. Allow cookies to set, about 30 minutes.

 

prAna clothing shoot | espresso and cream

You guys, let’s get honest for a minute. No one told me that when you get pregnant it’s not just your stomach that gets bigger; everything gets bigger! Honestly, I’m working every day at embracing those changes and loving my growing body, but putting on old clothing that doesn’t fit the same way anymore doesn’t do much for my self confidence.

This has been especially true when working out. I immediately went out a bought a size up in some of my favorite workout shorts and purchased a few looser tops for working out, because nothing zaps my motivation at the gym like feeling gross and uncomfortable. I’ve been trying to stick to a fairly consistent workout routine lately, mainly consisting of lots of long walks, my beloved Tracy Anderson Pregnancy Project videos and my friend Robin’s “Balanced Beginnings” Pilates videos in addition to light weight lifting.

So when prAna asked if I would like to partner together, I jumped at the chance. The prAna Minneapolis store is only minutes away from my house and I’ll admit that until this project rolled around I had never stepped foot into the store. It was so fun getting to shop at the store and pick out the pieces I thought would transition well with me throughout the fall.

I was really impressed with the quality of all of prAna’s clothing as well as the comfort of all the clothes I tried on. They’re so soft! In the photos above I’m wearing the Eliza Jacket in coal and the Gabi Legging in black. The leggings are some of the softest I’ve ever worn, perfect for my body right now when comfort is king. And I can easily see this jacket being worn much of the fall as temperatures get a little cooler.

prAna clothing | espresso and creamWhat are your favorite active wear brands? I’m always dying to find new favorites! 

Madison

*The clothing in this post was provided to me by prAna. Opinions are 100% my own and always geared toward the best interest of E&C readers. 

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Over the last couple months I’ve really let my monthly goal-setting fall to the wayside, haven’t I? First trimester took everything out of me and goal setting was last on my list of things to do, behind basic tasks like cooking, cleaning, going to work and washing my hair more than once a week! Now that I’m staying awake past 8 pm and functioning like a normal human being again, I’m feeling inspired to start back up with goal setting as we welcome in my favorite season.

FITNESS
Do the Tracy Anderson Pregnancy Project 3 to 4 times /week + Continue to Walk 5 to 6 times/week
These videos have been such a blessing to me! I’m only wishing I would have discovered them sooner. I’ve struggled a lot with knowing how much to push myself in pregnancy when it comes to fitness, especially given my history of miscarriage. Although I know many women can safely run throughout their pregnancies, pushing myself to that degree just hasn’t felt right to me, so I’ve been looking for other ways to stay fit. I was fearful that Tracy was going to be a drill sergeant in her videos (just a notion I had about her) but she is incredibly affirming in her approach to prenatal fitness and pregnancy in general.

FINANCES
Stick to Our Budget
Two months ago, Joe and I decided to switch to a cash envelope system for discretionary purchases (aka everything other than mortgage and our auto bill pays) because I was having a tough time sticking to the budget we created in Mint. It seemed I was always looking back on the month’s spending, rather than proactively monitoring our expenditures.

Since I’m a very tactile person, having to deal with cash has been super helpful in curbing any impulse purchases. Plus, it’s fun to see the end of the month roll around when all our envelopes still have a little cash left in them. We’re already putting money away into our 401k’s and into savings each month, but with a baby on the way, it’s nice to save a little extra.

PERSONAL
Spend Less Time on Technology
Gah. Does anyone else find themselves mindlessly scrolling on their phones as they wait in line, sit on the couch and wait for the elevator? I’m finding myself guilty of mindless consumption of technology more and more, and I hate that I always feel glued to my phone. The other night Joe and I were sitting on the couch watching something on TV and I noticed that we were both mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. I don’t think there is anything wrong with Instagram, Facebook and the like, but when it takes away from face-to-face conversations, it becomes a problem. I’m making it a goal to leave my phone at home more often and give more attention to friends and family when I’m with them.

Make Time to Rest
This seems like a cheater goal, doesn’t it? Our fall is already looking super busy and very scheduled. I’m flying once in September and Joe and I are flying once in October and November, plus we have a lot of other social commitments on the calendar. Although all of the things we’re doing are fun, I’m making it a goal to be more mindful of creating restful times during the week and saying “no” when I can so that we don’t end up sick and exhausted by the time the holiday season arrives.

What about you? Do you have any specific goals for September or this fall in general? I had a friend at church say how they felt September was the new January and I loved that idea! Here’s to making September all about fresh starts!

Madison

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How far along are you? 15 weeks 1 day (every day counts!)
Cravings? I haven’t really had any strong cravings, but Caesar salads, chicken and homemade sno cones (ice and fizzy water blended with lemon juice and stevia in the Vitamix) have been on regular rotation around here
Weight Gain: 10 pounds
Fears: We have our 19/20 week ultrasound scheduled for October 6th and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Will our baby look normal and healthy? Will they find anything wrong? Now that we’ve hit a bit of a stride with good reports and good news lately, it’s scary to think about getting more nerve-inducing news. I’m constantly being reminded that it’s something I need to turn over to God daily.
Generally Feeling: Nausea hit me hardest starting at 11 weeks. I’m finally starting to have some better days, but I can’t say I feel normal yet. Sometimes I’m starving, sometimes I can’t stand the sight of food. It’s so strange! Thankfully I’ve gotten my energy back and can stay up past 8 pm.
Looking Forward To: Feeling the baby move! There have been a couple times when I think I may have already felt it, but I am looking forward to feeling it more consistently and with certainty. At my 12 week ultrasound we found out my placenta was posterior, meaning I should start feeling him/her sooner rather than later.
What I’ve Been Loving: After our 11 week appointment and hearing the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler, I caved and bought a doppler to use at home. It’s by far the best $50 I ever spent, and being able to hear this little one’s heart beating gives me such a sense of peace and relief!
Sleep: Not the greatest. Between the trips to the bathroom and trying to get comfortable on my side, I toss and turn quite a bit.
Maternity Clothes? Not many! I did cave and start wearing my one pair of maternity jeans, but other than that I’ve been able to get by with dresses and skirts with stretchy waistbands and shift dresses that are comfortable.
Boy or Girl: We find out October 6th! We’ve been toying with the idea of finding out but not telling anyone else. I’ll let you know what we decide!

Thank you for your continued encouragement and prayers! It’s been a daily struggle to continue to trust that this baby is healthy and to finally allow myself to get excited, plan for March 2nd and think about the future. Day by day I’ve been getting more excited for this little one to join our family and I’m so thankful for all of you who have continued to pray for us on this journey.

Madison

Baked Chicken Tenders 4 | Espresso and CreamRemember when I mentioned that I’m working with Food Should Taste Good to create some great recipes for game day? Well today marks the second installment  of this three part series and boy is the recipe I have to share with you good. Although the recipe for these chicken strips only makes two it can easily be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled depending on how many people you have coming over to watch the game. Since it was just Joe and me watching football this weekend, I kept the serving size to two.

I’m a huge fan of a certain chicken-based southern fast food chain that makes the world’s best chicken sandwiches. When I did a little digging, I found out that the key to their juicy, flavorful chicken is to marinade the chicken in pickle juice before cooking. Or, at least that’s what the internet told me. I’ve since started deploying that same strategy at home and it’s amazing how well it works! It’s a step I included when making these Tortilla-Crusted Baked Chicken Strips and it makes all the difference. The chicken is so juicy and flavorful, not dry in the least bit.

After marinading the chicken in pickle juice for at least 12 hours, I cut the boneless, skinless chicken breasts into strips and coated them in a mixture of crushed Food Should Taste Good multigrain tortilla chips and panko bread crumbs, along with a little salt, pepper and cayenne for a little kick.

Personally, I love that these chicken strips are baked, not fried, but still have a ton of crunch thanks to the crushed tortilla chips and panko. And to make things a little extra special, I served these with a simple sriracha aioli, which is really just a fancy name for a flavored mayonnaise.

Baked Chicken Tenders 3 | Espresso and Cream

Tortilla-Crusted Baked Chicken Strips with Sriracha Aioli
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup dill pickle juice (from a jar of dill pickles)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups Food Should Taste Good multigrain tortilla chips, finely crushed
  • 1 cup plain panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne
  • Sriracha Aioli
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha
Instructions
  1. Place chicken breasts and pickle juice in a plastic air-tight container or zip-top bag and allow chicken to marinade 24 hours or at least 12 hours.
  2. Heat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.
  3. Cut each chicken breast into 4 or 5 strips. Place egg in a shallow bowl. In a second shallow bowl, combine crushed tortilla chips, panko, kosher salt, pepper and cayenne.
  4. Dip chicken in egg, followed by the tortilla mixture. Place coated chicken strips on baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until chicken is baked through and no pink remains.
  5. To make Sriracha Aioli: Stir together the mayonnaise and sriracha in a small bowl. Serve with chicken strips.

This post is brought to you in partnership with Food Should Taste Good. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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