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Cooking for beginners

How to Make Mini Pecan Pies

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Mini pecan pies are the perfect answer to, ‘I don’t want a whole slice, but I want a taste’. Easy to make and they are the perfect sizing for a group setting. The taste of the filling was really good and very simple to make. This is definitely an easy recipe that you can do if you are in a pinch. The taste of these pies is also incredible, taste just like your favorite pecan pie just in a smaller version!

Mini Pecan Pies Overall Review: 4/5

Overall, these mini pecan pies tasted good, were easy to make and didn’t require a ton of ingredients. The biggest downside is the amount of filling. I’m sure that the goal was to not overfill the mini pies, but we found they ended up lacking in filling. Personally, I believe doubling the filling (not the amount of pecans) would help tremendously. Even if you don’t use all the filing, you need more than what’s listed in my opinion. HOWEVER, if you like quite a bit of crust these are perfect as is. The taste is really good don’t get me wrong and they are so easy to make you won’t regret doing it!

Check out more of our recipe reviews here: Cultivate Confidence Reviews

Mini Pecan Pies

Recipe From Mini Pecan Pies – Belly Full

  • 2 Pie crusts (From 14 oz Refrigerated box)
  • 1/4 cup Light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp Unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1/3 cup Light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • pinch Salt
  • 1/2 cup Chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan (normal size) with nonstick spray.

  2. Roll the pie crusts out of the package and cut circles with glass cup or cookie cutter to 3.5 inches in diameter. (I had to use a coffee mug as it was the only thing I had that size!) The goal is to get 6 circles per pie crust. I got 5 before I had to reroll the crust together.

  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk the brown sugar, granulated sugar, melted butter, beten egg, corn syrup, vanilla extract, salt and pecans. Mix well.

  4. Fill each pie crust with 1 1/2 tbsps of filling. (Mine really only made enough for 1 tbsp per pie. If you want a very full mini pie, you would need to double the filling –not the pecan amount though).

  5. Bake for 25 minutes until center of pie starts to solidify and isn't jiggly.

  6. Cool completely in pan.

  7. To get out of pan, gently run a knife to loosen any parts that are stuck. BE CAREFUL doing this so you don't break the flakey crust off.

  8. Enjoy!

How to Make the Best Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls

By Food No Comments

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls. Ya’ll, these might be one of the best recipes I’ve ever tried! Everything is made from scratch which I also love. If I’m going to make something I want to be able to say I made it all from scratch. This was my first-time making cinnamon rolls from scratch, and I will say it turned out to be easier than I was anticipating. The dough itself is going to be your biggest hurdle to overcome. Read the directions carefully before you start and be sure not to mix to the correct texture. The recipe called for the dough to be kneaded until smooth and elastic. Personally, I wasn’t entirely sure what elastic dough should look like, so I googled some pictures to help me get to the right consistency. I highly recommend doing so if you aren’t comfortable with what that dough texture should look like.

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls Overall Review: 4.8/5

Overall, I found these to be some of the best cinnamon rolls. There is plenty of flavor, which makes it absolutely perfect for autumn or the holidays. I might even make these again Christmas morning as a yummy treat! The small downsides are the price, good apples and good apple cider, as well as the number of calories per roll. It’s definitely not a healthy option, so be sure to have lots of people to share them with to spread the wealth! If you decide to try out these apple cider cinnamon rolls, let me know what you think in the comments below!

Check out more of our reviews here: Cultivate Confidence Reviews

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe from Taste of Home – Fall Baking 2021

Cinnamon Roll

  • 3 1/4 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 pkg Quick rise yeast
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 3/4 cup 2% Milk (I used whole milk )
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider (or apple juice)
  • 1/4 cup Butter softened
  • 1/3 cup Butter softened
  • 1 Large Egg (room temperature)
  • 2 cups Finely chopped peeled tart apples
  • 1 1/4 cups Packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup Finely chopped walnuts
  • 3 tsp Ground cinnamon

Apple Cider Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 cups Apple cider (or apple juice)
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 pkg Cream Cheese (softened)
  • 1/4 cup Butter (softened)
  • 1 cup Confectioners' Sugar
  1. Take a large bowl and combine 2 1/4 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Set aside

  2. In a saucepan, heat milk, cider, and 1/4 cup butter (to 120-130 degrees). Add to the dry ingredients you set aside and beat until just moistened. Add egg and beat until smooth. Take your remaining flour and add a small amount at a time. You are looking to add just enough to make a soft dough (sticky dough—I used about all that was remaining).

  3. Put dough on a floured surgace and knead until smooth and elastic(I recommend googling what elastic dough looks like for a better idea). Should take around 8 minutes to do. Cover the dough and let sit for about 10 minutes.

  4. Roll your dough into a 15×10 rectangle and spread remaining butter to about 1/2 of the border. In a small bowl, combine your apples, brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon. Once combined sprinkle over the butter.

  5. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with the long side. Pinch the seam to close. Cut into 12 slices (somehow, I only cut 11 haha). Place the cut side down on an a greased/parchment lined baking pan or dish. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes

  6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake until golden brown (30-35 minutes).

  7. Frosting: In a small saucepan bring the cider and cinnamon stick to a boil. Let cook(stirring frequently) until liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup (20-30 minutes depending on your stove). Remove cinnamon stick and cool the cider.

  8. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar and your reduced cider. Combine until smooth. Spread over warm rolls (watch how much you put on or you will overpower the cinnamon roll taste).

The only thing I would caution you on is how much frosting to put on top, the recipe makes a ton of icing for the cinnamon rolls. My husband and I think about 1/2 to 3/4 of the frosting made is what you actually need to properly frost the cinnamon rolls. If you are a huge icing fan, make the whole thing as it does taste great! It can just overwhelm the cinnamon roll if you aren’t careful.

How to Make the Easiest Apple Muffins

By Lifestyle No Comments

Hey y’all! Another fall day, another apple recipe! When fall hits, I am cooking all things apple and this recipe did not disappoint! It’s from Southern Living, a favorite of mine as all the recipes are amazing! These muffins did not take long to make and had a great flavor profile. My only suggestion to this would be that you may want to incorporate another 1/2 cup of apples. I like chunky muffins with lots of apple bites and feel like another 1/2 cup would have made the perfect muffin! Overall though, they are the perfect fall breakfast item and I highly recommend them!

Overall Review: 4.7/5

Apple Muffins

From: Southern Living https://www.southernliving.com/recipes/apple-muffins-recipe

  • 1 1/2 cup Diced Apples
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Whole Milk
  • 1/2 cup Salted Butter (Melted and Cooled)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs (Slightly Beaten)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

  2. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan with spray

  3. In a medium bowl mix the apples and granulated sugar and set aside

  4. In a large bowl — Whisk flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon

  5. Stir milk, butter, vanilla and eggs in the apple mixture

  6. Add apple mixture to flour mixture. Stir until just combined.

  7. Evenly pour into muffin cups

  8. Bake for 18 minutes until a wooden pick inserted to center comes out clean.

  9. Remove muffins to wire rack and let cool.

  10. Serve with butter and enjoy!


5 Simple Things To Make Cooking A Breeze

By Lifestyle No Comments

Cooking, especially on a busy workday can be stressful. By no stretch am I an expert cook, but I have been dealing with busy work nights and a husband with a busy schedule for years.

1.) Use A Cookbook

Seriously, unless you are a professional chef or have been cooking for years and years, use a cookbook. It is extremely helpful as you learn proportions, foods and spices that mix well together and just gets you comfortable in the kitchen. I rely heavily on cookbooks and do a ton of recipe reviews because its the best way to learn! Just like being in school, cooking by recipe is a great way to learn. If you don’t have a cookbook to learn off of, Pinterest is a great resource. Find food boards that either have reviews of the recipe or are by a reputable chef and use those recipes to enhance your cooking skills! But don’t do the same thing over and over again. Branch out to new recipes and slowly try to enhance your skills. You won’t get better if you continue to make sheet pan dinners.

2.) Necessary Tools

Okay this is going to be an ongoing topic for me. Let’s start with the absolute basics. When you are cooking you don’t need all the expensive culinary tools. You just need the basics and then you can work up from there. So basics I found that I just can’t replicate without.

  • Grater – A grater is so important so you don’t accidentally cut yourself (like I did) and saves you endless time and frustration. Trust me trying to ‘grate’ a lemon with a knife is not the same and it hurts when you miss the lemon.
  • Hand Mixer- The standing kitchen aid mixers are beautiful, but they are expensive. So if you are just starting out, I think getting a hand mixer will be your best friend. I have been hand mixing all the recipes I have tried and the time and effort it takes to get to the consistency you want is astounding. Save yourself the time and buy a hand mixer, this way you won’t be frustrated with recipes you are trying. My husband just got me one for our anniversary and I was thrilled! My cookies and recipes turned out 10 times better than if I had mixed them by hand.
  • Ladle, Spatula, Whisks, Wooden Spoon and a Spatula – For most of the meals you will be cooking these utensils should cover the basics! But my biggest recommendation is to buy good quality! You will be hardest on these utensils so make sure they will last! My spatulas are falling apart so I’m planning to get a better quality version!

3.) Use Salt Lightly

You can’t take salt back once its on your food. Start light and add more when necessary. So when they say sprinkle salt, sprinkle lightly and add as you see fit. But be careful not to add too much or you will ruin the food you spent so hard working on. You may already know this but it is always worth mentioning. Instead of excess salt, use other spices to bring flavor. I love red pepper flakes, oregano, basil and black pepper. Salt is an essential spice, but it should be used sparingly.

4.) When In Doubt – Stir Fry

This may not be the correct way to ‘Stir Fry’, but it’s what I call these super easy and healthy meals. For nights where I want to eat healthy or have a home cooked meal I make this. There are so many ways you can vary this and its done within 20 minutes!

  1. Take a large skillet and heat with about 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Chop up a meat(or meat substitute) of your choice and add to the pan.
  3. While your meat cooks, chop up a variety of veggies. I personally go for zucchini squash, bell peppers, onions, and jalapenos. Throw those into your 70-80% cooked mixture and combine.
  4. Season with salt, and pepper.
  5. Let cook for 7-10 minutes until veggies are tender.
  6. Serve warm with sides of fruit or rice.

5.) Cook Foods You Like

I feel like people forget this, cook the foods you like. Don’t cook foods that are healthy or popular if you don’t like them. Find healthy ways to serve the foods you like. Cook the tacos, the burgers, the chicken wings, etc. Life is short, cook the foods you enjoy and just look for new ways to help make those meals a bit healthier. But to cook at home more often, you need to like doing it. And that starts with cooking the foods you actually like eating!

Overall, just make cooking fun! The more fun it is the easier it will get. And the easier it gets the more frequently you will do so! Have fun cooking everyone!

How to Make a Buttermilk Blueberry Puff – Magnolia Table

By Food 5 Comments

Y’all, why I decided to try a new dish for a get together…. I’ll never know! But this dish is so easy to make and has such a unique taste! All the eggs and buttermilk give it a very unique texture and honestly was hard for me to work through. I absolutely loved the flavor profile, everything about the flavors is exactly what you’d hope for. Between the berries, the pastry and the coarse sugar topping the flavor is immaculate. But it is a very squishy dessert and I wasn’t huge on it. If there was a way to toughen it up -it would be the perfect dessert! But it was good in its own right and is definitely worth trying!

*Fun fact, figured out afterwards it should be cooked croissants. Fun lesson learned!

Overall Review: 3.5/5

I honestly just couldn’t get over the texture, but this is a super easy recipe to make and is a great brunch item! So if squishy textures don’t bother you, give it a shot and let me know what you think below!

Buttermilk Blueberry Puff

From Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines

  • 12 tbsp Unsalted Butter at Room Temperature
  • 12 cups Cubed Croissants (6-8 large)
  • 3 cups Blueberries or Blackberries
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 6 Large Eggs
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Coarse Raw Sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

  2. Grease a 9 x 13 x 3 baking dish with 1 tbsp butter

  3. Spread the croissant cubes evenly in the dish and top with berries

  4. Use a mixer and beat the 12 tbsp butter with granulated sugar until creamy. This takes a couple minutes to do.

  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

  6. Beat in the cream, buttermilk, vanilla and salt.

  7. Pour over the croissants and berries. Sprinkle with coarse sugar

  8. Bake until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

  9. Serve warm. Leftovers last about 2 days.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Review – Magnolia Table

By Food No Comments

Chocolate Chip cookies are a staple in our house. I mean they are iconic in general, but seriously I think it’s the only cookie my husband actually likes. Of all the cookies that I have made, these cookies are always a safe bet. I love this particular recipe because they are just slightly different than your average chocolate chip cookie. Between no regular sugar and sea salt instead of table salt, the taste of these cookies is sweeter and honestly just so much better! Joanna’s instructions are clear and concise making it easier to bake and get to the end result!

Another thing I loved about these cookies is that each one came out the same, each one tasted great and the batch made quite a few cookies. I’ve tried quite a few recipes where ingredients didn’t mix well or the batches turned out different. This one was very consistent and each cookie was great! Out of all the chocolate chip cookies I’ve made, so far this is my favorite version! Easy to do and the taste is incredible! These are the perfect addition to any family dinner, group gathering, or just a treat for Saturday night. Overall, I would give these a solid rating and would highly suggest getting her book and trying them out! You can get her book at this link: Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines.

Overall Review: 5/5

Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines

  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 8 tbsp Butter (ie. 1 stick)
  • 2 cups Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 cups Chocolate Chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  2. Mix flour, baking sode and sea salt together in a small bowl

  3. Mix butter and brown sugar together. I'd recommend remembering to sit it out and let it get to room temperature. I was too impatient and it took forever to mix together correctly! WAIT!

  4. Using a hand mixer, add in eggs one at a time.

  5. Mix in vanilla extract

  6. Toss the dry flour mixture into the liquid mixture and combine.

  7. Once thoroughly combined add the chocoalte chips. I only do about a cup to a cup and a half because I don't like a ton of chocoalte in the cookies.

  8. Scoop into spoonfuls, stick on a baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes

  9. I prefer to serve them warm out of the oven with a glass of cold milk! Enjoy!

Mina’s Lemon Bars Review – Magnolia Table

By Food 3 Comments

Y’all, my husband LOVES lemon bars. He’d rather have lemon bars over cookies, cake, any other dessert. And to be honest, he loves the kind that comes out of a box. but I wanted a good homemade recipe instead. Today, we tested out the Magnolia Table Lemon Bar Recipe and oh my word was it amazing! The crust is, in a word, so flaky and crumbly that it melts in your mouth. And to be honest, I did not use fresh lemon juice. Mainly because I didn’t have it, but I did have the lemon juice that’s in a bottle and the lemon middle was so good I didn’t even notice it wasn’t fresh lemon juice.

This recipe is by the one, the only, Joanna Gaines. Which means I was expecting the best lemon bars I’ve ever had. I can tell you with confidence that these lived up to that standard. I highly highly recommend that you get her book and start making these recipes! So far I’m very impressed with how easy the recipes are and how good they taste.

Overall Review: 5/5

Mina’s Lemon Bar Recipe

From Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1/2 Pound Butter (ie. 2 sticks)
  • 1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Eggs (Slightly Beaten)
  • 5 tbsp Lemon Juice
  1. Oven Preheated to 350 degrees

  2. I only have one set of glass bakeware, so technically I probably was not using the right size. But considering she was very clear in her recipe that we need glass to bake lemon bars–glass it was!

  3. Melted the butter and added it to the flour, powdered sugar and salt. Combine

  4. Once combined it pretty much fell right out of the bowl and into the glass bakeware making it easy to spread to the bottom of the pan. Stick in oven for 20 minutes

  5. In a new bowl, combine sugar, eggs and lemon. Whisk and add to crust you just baked

  6. Bake this for 15 minutes. Then cover with foil and bake for 15 more.

  7. Sprinkle (I heavily sprinkle) and then let cool. I swear cooling takes forever but worth it to get the good taste and easier cutting.

  8. I stick the lemon bars in the fridge for a bit so that way the center and crust are nice and cool. Serve cool.

Spicy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

By Food No Comments

Every once in a while I get in the mood for some stuffed mushrooms. Personally, I love stuffed mushrooms that have cheese in them, always a crowd-pleaser! But for those like my husband who can’t handle cheese or just don’t like cheese; this is the stuffed mushroom recipe to go to! This recipe is super easy and doesn’t take long to do! It is best utilized as an appetizer but it’s great for dinner as well! If you try the recipe let me know your thoughts below!

Spicy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Quick and Easy Stuffed Mushrooms. Perfect for those with dairy allergies as there is no cheese in this recipe!

  • 1/2 Jalapeno
  • 1/2 Medium Yellow Onion
  • 2 Celery Stalks
  • 1/2 pkg Hot & Spicy Ground Sausage
  • 2 pkg Baby Mushrooms
  • 2-3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

  2. Finely chop onion, jalapeno, and celery stalks and combine in a bowl

  3. Using a small pan on medium heat add 1 tbsp of olive oil and cook the sausage

  4. Once the sausage is cooked combine with the veggies in the bowl and transfer back to the small pan

  5. Let the ingredients simmer on low heat for 5 minutes

  6. On a large baking sheet — place all the mushrooms (stems gone) with distance between them

  7. Take 1-2 tbsps of olive oil and lightly coat the mushrooms

  8. Using a spoon, take your sausage mixture and stuff the mushrooms. I normally have fallout and I let that cook regardless. Always good to have more mix!

  9. Place in oven for about 10 minutes or until tops of mushrooms look wrinkly

  10. Remove and serve!

Super Tuna Melts – Cravings Review

By Food No Comments

If you like trying new things, this recipe is for you! Let me start by stating this as clearly as I can…. you need to like tuna to like this recipe. Warm tuna is a texture and taste that is very unique and specific. If you don’t like tuna or have a mild liking of it, be weary before trying this.

The ingredients on their own are good and what you would expect in a sandwich melt. I honestly believe the only thing that would make you not like this sandwich is the consistency or the warm tuna taste. But its always worth trying, so I recommend it!

Overall, I would say that while this is not my favorite recipe, its not bad at all! Like I mentioned before, this recipe is perfect for any tuna lover! So give it a shot and let me know what you think!

Here are the ingredients you need per Chrissy Teigens Cookbook and photos with instructions on how to cook it.

  • 2 (5 ounce) Cans of water packed tuna (drained)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 slices white country bread
  • 6 slices vine-ripened-tomatoes
  • 6 cheddar cheese slices
All the ingredients you will need.
Drained Tuna
Final Product — Add mango slices to go with it.

If you try it, let me know what you think in the comments!

Recipe Review is from Chrissy Teigens Cravings Cookbook.

Ramen Dump – Chrissy Teigen Cravings Review

By Lifestyle No Comments

I put off writing this review for weeks. Let me start out by saying that I had high hopes for this recipe. My husband and I have really grown to like ramen and I was interested in expanding my uses of ramen. Especially since it’s such a cheap ingredient! I will be honest that I was a little worried when I started reading the ingredients, there were a lot of items that I just wasn’t a fan of. For example, one of the prime ingredients is apple cider vinegar, which is a rough flavor, when it’s not cooked I feel like it overpowers the dish. There was also raw cabbage mix that went in, again something that I think it rough without being cooked with other ingredients.

Onto the honest thoughts. This was without doubt the most disgusting dish that I have ever had. I could barely get 3 bites down and my husband got maybe one bite before he looked over at me with wide eyes. This was just bad all around. For one, the ramen wasn’t cooked it was softened with the apple cider vinegar and that flavor combo was…. interesting to say the least. Combine that with the sugar, peas and corn and we just couldn’t stomach the flavors. I mean if you are a die hard ramen fan, then maybe I would suggest giving it a shot, but honestly I would say just avoid this recipe in its entirety.

Overall Review:

  • Overall Difficulty: 1/5
  • Price: Less than $15 for all ingredients.
  • Taste: 1/5
  • Recommendation: Now let me just state, this was an incredibly easy dish to make. It wasn’t hard and took very little time. However I would not recommend this dish. It makes a ton of food and if you don’t like it you will throw it all in the trash like I did. Sometimes its best to just let a recipe die and this is the one I would recommend.

The recipe can be found in Chrissy Teigens cookbook Cravings. This recipe review is a part of our Cravings Cookbook review.

xoxo – The Unprofessional Chef