Archive for September 2015

Pumpkin Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

September 28, 2015
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FallFlavors #CollectiveBias

These fall spiced pumpkin cupcakes are moist and sweet - perfect topped with whipped cream cheese frosting and a dark chocolate pumpkin!

It begins tonight. It may have been fall for the past few days, but tonight I sit here in my living room. The smell of pumpkin, nutmeg, and cinnamon wafting in from my kitchen. The windows open with the sound of dry leaves blowing on the trees. I'm about to go grab my cable knit blanket from it's months-long hiding place in my linen closet because it's actually chilly while I sit here...


And I don't know about you, but this autumn atmosphere makes me want to get in the kitchen and bake up some yummy treats for the family. I absolutely HAVE to get the house smelling like the new season and the best way to achieve that is to start cooking. Are you ready? I sure am!!

These adorable Pumpkin Gingerbread Cupcakes are the perfect way to get you in the fall mood, and I'm going to let you in on a little trick: I used Pillsbury® Cream Cheese Frosting on those cupcakes. For real! You can easily pipe store-bought frosting onto cupcakes just by doing this:

Yep - you guessed it - whip the frosting on high speed for 5 - 10 minutes! Then just scoop into an icing bag with your favorite tip and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. 

I really loved how much time I saved using the Pillsbury frosting, and it had that creamy cream cheese flavor that brought me back to my childhood!

This recipe actually makes 36 cupcakes so I decided to leave 12 unfrosted to have muffins on hand for quick fall breakfasts. I may just pop them in the freezer for that purpose, too!

Pumpkin Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup Dunkin' Donuts® Pumpkin Spice brewed coffee
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 16 oz Pillsbury® Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 24 DOVE® Dark Chocolate Pumpkins, unwrapped
Cooking Directions
  1. In a stand mixer, beat together sugar, oil, eggs, and pumpkin. Add in brewed coffee and spices and beat until mixed well.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Gradually add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and beat until well combined.
  4. Scoop 1/4 cup batter into paper lined cupcake tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely.
  5. Place frosting in a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Whip for 5-10 minutes until the frosting is fluffy.
  6. Place frosting in an icing bag with desired tip and pipe onto cupcakes. Decorate each cupcake with a dark chocolate pumpkin.

See that right there? Yep. That's a 4 year old swipe at a cupcake while I wasn't looking. I can't really blame him though!

I really loved incorporating these new fall flavors into these amazing cupcakes! I mean you can't go wrong with Dunkin' Donuts® Pumpkin Spice Coffee, Pillsbury® Cream Cheese Frosting, and DOVE® Dark Chocolate Pumpkins (available exclusively at Target), am I right?! Be sure to click on those links above for special Cartwheel savings!

Just seeing them on the shelves during my last trip to Target put me right in the fall baking mood! As if I wasn't in the mood to start baking already... :)

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FallFlavors #CollectiveBias

Jack O' Lantern Yogurt Granola Parfaits

September 24, 2015
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AvengersUnite #CollectiveBias

This easy snack is layered with orange yogurt and chocolate chip granola, and decorated to look like a Halloween Jack O' Lantern - the perfect snack or breakfast to celebrate with your critters!

I literally can't even begin to tell you how excited these boys are for Halloween. Don't believe me? Here's a picture from yesterday morning:

Why yes, we do already have Halloween costumes, just in case you were wondering. I figured out a few years ago that it pays to get them earlier because you have a better selection and the kids get a chance to play dress-up more. As if it were any question, they chose to be their favorite superheroes: Iron Man and Thor. Well actually, as far as Wesley is concerned, Thor is his favorite only because he carries a hammer. When we ask him what's his favorite Avenger he can never make up his mind - but when we were looking in Walmart, it was the hammer that sealed that decision for him!

I'm not going to lie, we are all HUGE Marvel fans in this house and our whole family is insanely excited for the October 2nd Blu Ray/DVD release of MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron. We don't get a chance to hit the movies, really ever anymore, so we usually rent what we want to see and then buy the Blu Ray when it comes out. Let's just say we CAN'T WAIT for this one!

These adorable Jack O Lantern Yogurt Parfaits are the perfect way to celebrate Halloween with your kiddos! I like that it's not sugar laden with candy, and you can control the ingredients according to what your kids prefer. Any orange-colored yogurt will do, I was able to find orange creamsicle store brand yogurt at Walmart, but grab what you can find. The cups are VERY easy to create, just cut out shapes for your kids and give them tape and let them make their own "Jack O' Lantern" - Wesley absolutely had a blast helping me with these and it was a good preschool lesson on shapes as well!

Jack O' Lantern Yogurt Granola Parfaits

  • 6 clear plastic punch cups
  • black construction paper, scissors, tape
  • 48 oz orange yogurt
  • food coloring, if desired
  • 6 MARVEL chewy granola bars
  • MARVEL Avengers grapes, quartered
  • MARVEL Avengers string cheese, sliced
Cooking Directions
  1. Prepare the Jack O' Lantern cups by cutting out triangles and mouth shapes from the construction paper and taping them to the front of the cups. Set aside.
  2. Scoop yogurt into a mixing bowl and add food coloring to boost the orange color, if needed.
  3. Fill cups half way with yogurt. Crumble half of one granola bar into each cup. Add optional cut up grapes and string cheese as desired.
  4. Fill each cup with more yogurt. Sprinkle remaining half of each granola bar onto tops of cups, along with additional toppings.
  5. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.

I have to admit, these tasted as good as they looked! Keep them the basic parfait with yogurt and granola, or go ALL OUT and add in MARVEL diced red grapes and string cheese! I set up a parfait mix-ins station and let my kids add in what they wanted. Silas wanted just the yogurt and granola. Wesley? Well, take a look... 

Of course he wanted ALL of the mix-ins... no surprise there! We had a lot of fun putting these parfaits together as a family. I'm planning on surprising the boys with a batch of these for a special MARVEL'S The Avengers: Age of Ultron Halloween watch party!

I just can't get enough of these adorable MARVEL snack options available at Walmart - not only did the boys go crazy for the granola bars, but they LOVED seeing their favorite MARVEL Avengers characters on string cheese 12 packs and also red grapes - their favorite (and mine, too)! 

Here are some more of my favorite Halloween recipe ideas:

Spiderweb Cupcakes

Spooky Cinnamon Sugar Biscuits

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AvengersUnite #CollectiveBias

Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole

September 23, 2015
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hormel Foods for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Shredded hashbrowns, crisp bacon, cheese eggs, and milk cook away in your Crock pot for a simple and out of this world breakfast!

I've been obsessed lately with finding some great slow cooker breakfasts for my family. I have to say though, most that I've attempted to create have been complete and utter flops! Like burnt and inedible flops, ugh! 

I realized though with my last crazy recipe that I needed to try something more simple with quality ingredients. I snagged my favorite Hormel Black Label bacon and decided to try my favorite breakfast casserole in the Crock pot... You guys. I mean, seriously, this is a perfect breakfast! I'm not sure why I'm always trying to over complicate things, almost always the simpler recipes are the best in my opinion. No crazy ingredients, just good quality ones, and perfecting cooking time and temperature. It's one of the many reasons I'm SO thankful to be able to share my recipes here with you all on Mostly Homemade Mom! Find out more about Family Meals and also the FMI Family Meals program here!

We love to eat breakfast for dinner a lot too, especially on nights when it's just me and the boys, so this one will for sure be in our regular dinner rotation. Or if you have a timer on your Crockpot (I WISH), assemble the ingredients and set it so that way it's ready for your family when they wake up. I'm actually thinking this would be an awesome idea for a holiday breakfast as well. Genius!

Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole
  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 32 oz shredded frozen hashbrowns, partially thawed
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons dried, minced onion
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
Cooking Directions
  1. Chop bacon and cook in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to a plate, leaving drippings in pan.
  2. Add partially thawed hash browns to pan and cook over medium heat 5-7 minutes or until edges start to turn crispy brown. Remove from heat and place half of hashbrowns in the bottom of a greased Crockpot.
  3. Sprinkle bacon, mozzarella, 1 cup cheddar, and minced onion. Add remaining hashbrowns.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, ground mustard, and parsley. Pour evenly over ingredients in Crockpot.
  5. Cover and cook on high 2 1/2 - 4 hours or until center of casserole is set. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheddar over top, replace lid, and cook just until cheese is melted.

This casserole is seriously simple and SO yummy! Add some ketchup or Sriracha to kick it up a notch - yum!

I really love the quality of Hormel's Black Label Bacon in this recipe - I chose the original variety, but you can also find fully cooked bacon, thick cut bacon, and Canadian bacon as well. Visit Hormel Foods for more information on their amazing bacon varieties!

Looking for even more family meal ideas? Be sure to follow the Hormel Facebook Page as well as Hormel's Easy Recipe Ideas site -- there are LOADS of yummy recipes to find there! While you're on Hormel's Facebook page, check out the "Raise Your Mitt to Commit" contest! Just submit a photo of your family eating a meal at home for a chance to win one of a variety of awesome prizes!

Here are some more of my favorite breakfast ideas:

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Crockpot Veggie Lasagna

September 22, 2015
This conversation is sponsored by Horizon. The opinions and text are all mine.

This slow cooker lasagna casserole is filled with noodles, mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, sauce, and of course cheese - your entire family will enjoy this dinner!

We are HUGE GIGANTIC pasta eaters in this family. I'm not sure how to express to you the excitement through the house when I'm simply making spaghetti with meat sauce for dinner.

Of course, right? Their mom/wife is a food blogger. I'm constantly trying new dinner ideas with very often new and unique ingredients and flavor combinations. But by far their favorite dinner?

Pasta. Every. Time.

I don't blame them, I like pasta, too. Maybe that's partly why they like it so much - I'm so busy trying something different every night that they just love simple pasta with meat and sauce. Go figure.

While it's a simple dinner, I of course prefer to sneak in as many veggies into their tummies as I can. And I absolutely LOVE using my Crockpot to sneak them in. Sauteed or baked veggies, they can pick right out of the sauce and turn up their noses. Slow cook those same veggies in layers of noodles, sauce, and cheese? It all melds together creating an amazing hearty and cheesy casserole. 

Wesley had eaten 3/4 of his plate before he was able to pick out a mushroom. Of course he said, "Yuck - I hate mushrooms" and of course Paul and I laughed and told him he was eating them the whole time. And then he proceeded to eat a few more bites of his dinner. It worked!

Crockpot Veggie Lasagna

  • 24 oz jar pasta sauce
  • 1 zucchini, sliced and quartered
  • 6 oz fresh spinach
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Horizon organic shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 6 oven-ready lasagna noodles
Cooking Directions
  1. Spread a small amount of pasta sauce in the bottom of a Crockpot. Break 2 noodles in half and lay in sauce.
  2. Sprinkle 1/3 of the zucchini, spinach, and then mushrooms over the noodles.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, garlic, and oregano. Sprinkle 1/3 the cheese mixture over the veggies.
  4. Repeat layers twice more, ending with the rest of the sauce on top. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until veggies are tender and noodles are cooked.

Not only was this lasagna easy and delicious, it was insanely filling! All of us left the table full and satisfied. Success!

I really love using Horizon mozzarella cheese in meals for my family along with lots of vegetables. Be sure to follow Horizon on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram for more yummy meal ideas for your family. What Horizon product would you like to try next? Leave your answer in the comments below!

Here are some more of my favorite family dinners:

Weeknight Pineapple Dijon Ham

Easy Weeknight Clam Chowder

Don't miss another Mostly Homemade Mom recipe! Click here to have recipes delivered by email. Or, you can follow along via FacebookPinterestTwitterInstagram, or Google+ - I'd love to connect with you!

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This conversation is sponsored by Horizon. The opinions and text are all mine.

Crockpot Apple Cider Pulled Pork

September 19, 2015
Pork roast slow cooks in apple cider and cider vinegar, and then shredded and combined with yummy BBQ sauce - a perfect and fun meal for a crowd this fall!

You guys, it's September. And it's hot. 84 degrees with high humidity, hot. This weather has 4 days to get it's act together and start being fall-like. 

I mean, yes I know I essentially have a 5 ish pound batter kicking around inside my belly right now, but even the boys are still complaining about how hot it is - especially at soccer practice! This morning was a little bit cooler, so I had them wear long sleeve sports shirts under their uniform t-shirts for their games. Yes, they BOTH have games every Saturday morning, one at 8:30am and one at 9:00am, on two different fields separated by an insanely large hill. And then Paul leaves for work at 10:00am. Bascially by mid-morning on Saturdays I'm ready to eat dinner and go to bed!

Anyway, both of them were complaining at me about 5 minutes in that they were "REALLY, REALLY HOT, MOM!!!" with that look on their faces that says, "I can't even believe you made me wear this!!" Ok, give me a break, boys. I haven't even finished my coffee yet - what do you expect?!

This special fall Crockpot Apple Cider Pulled Pork is absolutely perfect if you're running around like a crazed person this time of the year. Start it in the morning, let it cook all day, and you have an amazing meal for dinner - plus tons of freezable leftovers!

Crockpot Apple Cider Pulled Pork

  • 7-8 lb pork butt roast
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 20 oz BBQ sauce
  • 12 crusty rolls
Cooking Directions
  1. Place pork roast in the bottom of a slow cooker. In a small bowl, stir together seasonings. Rub seasonings all over the roast, turning to get over all the sides.
  2. Pour apple cider and apple cider vinegar over the roast.
  3. Cover and cook on high 4-5 hours or on low 8-10 hours. Remove roast from slow cooker and shred with two knives.
  4. Pour juices out of slow cooker, reserving 1-2 cups in a small bowl. Return shredded pork to slow cooker, along with 1/2 of the bottle of BBQ sauce and enough of the reserved liquid to keep pork moist.
  5. Keep on low in the slow cooker while serving on rolls with additional BBQ sauce drizzled on top, if desired.
  6. Make sure leftovers are cooled completely before covering tightly and refrigerating or freezing for another meal.

This is such an awesome meal to have for any tail gating or game day party you have coming up - you could even keep a Crockpot of it warm on Halloween while you and your trick-or-treaters are in and out of the house having fun!

Here are some more of my favorite Crockpot dinners:

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Chicken Cordon Bleu Pockets

September 17, 2015
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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Smithfield Anytime Favorites.

The classic chicken & ham dish gets a family friendly twist tucked inside biscuits with swiss cheese and dijon mustard, and baked until hot - these are great for quick dinners, lunchboxes, and the freezer too!

Silas informed me the SECOND day of school that he'd like it if I sent him something other than a regular sandwich in his lunchbox. We're into the fourth week of school and besides an occasional slice of leftover pizza and a ham & cheese roll up (we were out of bread), he has had a regular sandwich in his lunchbox - which is one of his favorite things to eat, anyway!

I personally ate countless PB&J, ham & cheese, and bologna sandwiches throughout my school career and he will be no different. Sorry bud.

In his defense, I do understand looking at the other kids' lunches, and the hot school lunches, and wishing I had something a little bit different. I figure I might as well make a little bit more of an effort and find a few meals during the week that I can make for dinner, that would also work as leftovers in his lunch box. After all, when I was teaching, leftovers were my favorite thing to bring for my own lunch!

These Chicken Cordon Bleu Pockets fit the bill - easy to make for dinner, and perfect lunch the next day for something a little "different" than the usual sandwich. Me and Paul really enjoyed the swiss in our, but I gave the kids cheddar in theirs instead. Feel free to do the same with your littles!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pockets

  • 1 cup cooked chicken, diced small
  • 8 oz Smithfield Anytime Favorites Hickory Smoked Diced Ham
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese, sliced in half
  • Dijon mustard
  • 16 oz can refrigerated jumbo biscuits
Cooking Directions
  1. In a bowl, combine cooked chicken and diced ham. Separate the 8 jumbo biscuits.
  2. Press or roll each biscuit out into a 5 inch circle. Place 1/2 slice of swiss, 1-2 tablespoons chicken & ham filling, and 1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard in the center of each biscuit.
  3. Fold biscuit over filling and press seams with fork creating a "pocket."
  4. Place prepared pockets on greased cookie sheets and bake for 375 for 11-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

These pockets were SO much fun to serve for dinner - I actually dipped mine in some extra Dijon - yum!

I'm really loving Smithfield Anytime Favorites line of ham. It makes dinner time REALLY easy for me! They're inspired by the classic artisan flavor of Smithfield ham, but gives both quality and convenience at the same time. There are 20 different cuts to choose from - sliced, diced, cubed, chops, and steaks - with a variety a flavors, I can't wait to try more with my family on busy weeknights!

Here are some more of my favorite ham recipes:

Weeknight Pineapple Dijon Ham

Crockpot Tuscan Bean Soup

Don't miss another Mostly Homemade Mom recipe! Click here to have recipes delivered by email. Or, you can follow along via FacebookPinterestTwitterInstagram, or Google+ - I'd love to connect with you!

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Smithfield Anytime Favorites.