Adventures in Dinner Prep…

Last Thursday I had my wisdom teeth removed. It was not a super pleasant experience and I can be a little bit of a whiner, so as a thank-you to my lovely parents and brother, who have been incredibly kind and shockingly patient with me for the past week, I decided to make a little surprise feast for dinner the other night. Feeling inspired by the new (and evidently fleeting?) fall weather, I wanted to serve up comforting and autumnal flavors for their enjoyment. We had a[n absurdly huge] meal consisting of baked brie with fig jam and apples, spaghetti squash “mac and cheese”, pork chops with peaches and bourbon sauce, a sautéed kale concoction, and pumpkin spice cake for dessert.  Hungry yet?IMG_3948

 (You’ll find links to the original recipes for the squash, pork chops, and kale if you click on them above. I made some slight alterations- detailed below- to the squash and kale recipes. The brie and cake were my own creations, inspired by various Pinterest pins.)

Baked Brie Appetizer

You’ll need:

  • Pizza stone or cookie sheet
  • 1 can of crescent roll dough
  • 1 round of brie
  • Fig jam (you can use any other fruit jam, or no jam at all; I used fig because my dad loves it.)
  • Brown sugar to sprinkle on top
  • 2 apples, cut into slices


  • Unwrap and unroll your crescent roll dough and lay it out on a pizza stone or cookie sheet (I used a pizza stone and then just served it right off the thing.) Note: I didn’t knead the dough before I laid it out, and in retrospect I should have. The pre-cut lines for making actual crescent rolls made it a little difficult to work with/wrap the brie.
  • Spread some jam all over the dough, leaving  a little space around the edges
  • Place the brie in the middle of the dough, wrap it up.
  • Sprinkle the top with brown sugar
  • Bake according to the directions on the crescent roll package
  • Serve with apple slices.


  • This whole thing took me about 20 minutes, cook time included. It was super easy and I’d definitely make it again.
  •  Like I said, it would have worked better if I’d kneaded the “perforations” out of the dough; because I didn’t, my baked brie was kind of ugly (but still tasty! But ugly, so no pictures).
  • With the fig jam and the super mild brie, it was a very sweet dish. I’d be interested to try it with savory toppings like nuts, pesto, and/or some spices. Next time… I’ll keep you updated.

Easy Low-Fat Pumpkin Pie Cake

You’ll need:

  • 11×7″ pan
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 1 can of pumpkin
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin pie spice


  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Mix everything together, pour into greased pan
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
  • Cool, eat.


  • This, again, was super quick and easy. (Noticing a theme?)
  • I’ve also made this batter into muffins and it works very well for that too.
  • I used a Greek yogurt-based frosting (I used vanilla yogurt instead of plain and I threw in some cinnamon.) It was alright, but I will probably just do it un-frosted next time.
  • This is a low-cal recipe; without frosting, if you cut the cake into 15 pieces, it’s only about 160 calories per piece. So I guess I can justifiably eat this for breakfast for the next week!

Notes on the Squash, Kale, and Pork Chops:

  • Spaghetti Squash “mac and cheese”: I subbed half of the cheddar that the recipe called for with smoked gouda. It was a good choice. Next time I think I’ll definitely double the amount of onion called for in the recipe- it was slightly bland and surprisingly creamy. I made it gluten free (with corn starch instead of flour) to see how it would turn out. Other than that, I really liked this dish and it was a hit with my family. I will be making it again.
This stuff is so versatile. I also love it with spaghetti sauce.

Just-cooked squash. This stuff is so versatile. I also love it with spaghetti sauce.

  • Sautéed Kale with Apples and Onions: I used a yellow onion instead of a red one, substituted fig-infused white balsamic vinegar for the cider vinegar called for, and opted for honey instead of maple syrup. This dish was the quickest to prepare. Not realizing how not-well it would sit, I made it too far ahead of time. When it hit the table after I warmed it in the oven, it wasn’t the prettiest, and probably didn’t taste as good as it would have, had I served it immediately. C’est la vie. This was my favorite part of dinner regardless.

Kale!Spaghetti Squash in the background.Sautéing onions and apples. Spaghetti squash hangin’ out in the background.Like most people I know, I'm all about any dish that calls for this stuff.Like most people I know, I’m all about any dish that calls for this stuff.

  • Pork Chops: The original recipe says that you can substitute the water with bourbon. Substitute the water with bourbon. Trust me. I’ve made it both ways- the bourbon knocks it out of the park. Also, (no-brainer, but…) make sure you cook the pork all the way. Both times I’ve made this, when I followed the recipe exactly the chops have been ever-so-slightly undercooked. Maybe add a few minutes to make sure they’re done. Anyway, another quick and super easy recipe. This one is so tasty, so easy and so relatively inexpensive, I could easily see myself making it once a week.
This was Peter's pork chop. Immediately after I took the photo, my dad asked why I didn't want a picture of his pork chop.

This was my brother Peter’s pork chop. Immediately after I took the photo, my dad asked why I didn’t want a picture of his dinner too.

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