Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pumpkin Bread

My house smells amazing right now. I wish I could somehow share this aroma with you. I've got pumpkin bread baking and it's a scent that should be bottled. Yeah, companies try to bottle it or make candles that kind of compare. While they usually smell pretty good... those products just don't quite cut it.

Pumpkin Bread

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 stick of butter, unsalted
2 eggs
15 oz can of pumpkin

White sugar
Ground cinnamon

In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Loosely stir together. In a mixing bowl, cream together brown sugar and butter. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Mix in pumpkin. Mix in flour little by little.
Just look at that beautiful batter!
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare bread pans by rubbing olive oil all around the inside. I used two medium size pans. One large pan or 4 mini pans would be great too. Just keep in mind your bake time will vary. Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle white sugar and cinnamon over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the middle comes out clean when checked with a knife. Remove from oven and let it rest for a few minutes. Loosen the sides with a knife or spatula. Flip the pan over holding a hand over the bread. Place bread on cooling rack.

Wait until the bread has cooled a bit before cutting into it. But DO eat some while it's still warm. You can spread on some butter or cream cheese frosting or a cinnamon glaze or add nothing at all.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Snickerdoodle Scones

I've got Snickerdoodle stuck on my brain lately. It's just that it is such a wonderful combination. Wonderful I tell you.

The best part of eating scones are when they are still warm enough that the butter pieces burst a little in your mouth with each bite.

2 cups flour         
2 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I actually did not measure this, I just added what I felt was good)
1 ½ sticks of cold unsalted butter, diced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Sugar Topping
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
butter, softened

White Chocolate Frosting
1/2 White Chocolate Chips
1 tablespoon shortening 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or baking mat.

Butter 'em

Combine the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Stir together. Add diced butter to the bowl and use a stand mixer to mix (on a low speed) until the butter is in pea sized pieces, about 6-7 minutes. Combine the cream, vanilla and eggs in a measuring cup and slowly pour into the butter/flour mixture. Mix just until everything is incorporated. Don't over mix.

Sugar 'em
Grab the dough and roll it out (shake some flour on the dough if it’s sticky). I rolled my dough to a generous thickness. These puppies don’t rise much, a little less than twice the size of the uncooked dough. Use a cute cookie cutter or cut the dough into a traditional scone (triangle) shape.

In a small bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon. Spread butter on each uncooked scone. Put the scone butter side down into the sugar/cinnamon and press gently, evenly adding sugar/cinnamon to the scone.
Get ready to bake 'em
Put the scones on the prepared cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes. Check scones at about 15 minutes. Place scones on a baking rack to cool. 

Cool 'em
In a measuring cup or bowl combine chocolate chips and shortening. Place in the microwave for 45 seconds or until stirring makes it creamy. Careful not to burn. Spread chocolate on scones or place in a ziploc bag to make zigzags on top of the scones. I started out using the ziploc bag trick but blew a huge hole in the bag. Just call me Hulk. 

Drool a little

Eat 'em

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

Back in May I donated "one baked good once a month for a year" to an auction held at our church with proceeds going to my daughter's youth group mission trip. I was excited right away about the all of the different options I had to chose from. I went Pinterest shopping, but up until now I hadn't ventured too much out of my past experiments.

Some of the recipes I've made are:

Pumpkin Bread with a cinnamon glaze (missed an opportunity to blog this one)
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins
Better Than Sex Cake with caramel and Rolos

This month I made Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies. My original plan was to make everything homemade but in the end I realized time wise that wasn't going to work. I then decided to use a cake mix in place of a from-scratch dough. It made the process very painless and quick.

What you'll need:
copycat from What's Baking in the Barbershop?

Carrot Cake Cookies
One box of carrot cake cake mix
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Cream Cheese Frosting
8oz cream cheese, softened
5 Tbsp butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups powered sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

For the cookies:

Mix together cake mix, eggs and oil. It seems a little sticky in the beginning but just keep whisking or stirring and it will come together nicely.

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare a cookie sheet with spray, parchment paper or a baking mat. Spoon dough onto the pan. I used two spoons. One to spoon it out of the bowl and the other to guide it off the spoon and onto the pan. Bake for about 9-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 2-3 minutes. Place on baking rack to cool.

For the frosting:

In a stand mixer, combine cream cheese and butter. Cream together. Mix in vanilla. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Finally mix in lemon juice. Place in  refrigerator 25-30 minutes.

Put them together:

Once cookies are completely cool and frosting has set, it's time to make the whoopie pie. Find cookies that are roughly the same size. Spread a generous amount of frosting on the bottom of one cookie. Gently press the other cookie on top of the frosting. There you go! You are done and your tummy will be pleased. Pleased indeed!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Not-so-traditional Eggs Benedict

This past summer my husband and I went to San Diego. We stayed in a hotel just minutes from the beach and within walking distance of many awesome delicatessens and restaurants. My favorite restaurant was Mona Lisa Italian Foods... oh mama mia! If you go, you must try the lasagna. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Absolutely the best I have ever had. Ever. But today we aren't talking about that kick butt lasagna. It's all about Eggs Benedict today.

Our hotel in San Diego served breakfast. I had yet in my life to ever try Eggs Benedict. We had it three times that week! Yeah, it's that good and also we were too lazy to go any further outside of the hotel for breakfast on those three days. Don't worry though. We absolutely checked out some great coffee shops too.

My husband is now a die-hard Eggs Benedict fan. Seriously, so much, I think he could eat it daily for the rest of his life. The Hollandaise sauce has a boat load of butter... that's explanation enough. The guy loves butter. But if we're honest, who doesn't? I admit though, and some won't agree, I have a limit.

Pile ham on baked biscuits
Needless to say, we've made this dish many Saturday mornings since our San Diego trip. The husband has become somewhat of a Hollandaise sauce master. Don't tell him because his head will swell, but his sauce is better than mine.

To spice up this recipe, I decided we should try a new approach. I'm so glad we did. We loved it. We will still make the traditional style Eggs Benedict with english muffins but this new recipe will definitely be entered into our food rotation too.

Pile over-easy eggs on biscuits and ham

Biscuit Eggs Benedict

Tube of Pillsbury biscuits (8 count) I used flaky layers but regular biscuits will work too
8-10 eggs
thinly sliced ham (I used 2 slices per biscuit)
salt and pepper

Hollandaise Sauce

4 egg yolks
1 stick of butter
4  cap fulls of lemon juice*
5 shakes of paprika*
5 shakes of black pepper*

Instructions on making the sauce (written by Jeremy, the husband):

Start by separating the egg yolks from the whites and reserve them in a bowl.  Next melt one stick of butter in the microwave for about 1-1/2 minutes, be sure to cover as it will splatter.  Combine the paprika, pepper and lemon juice with the egg yolks and whisk until smooth.  Finally mix the melted butter with the rest of the ingredients slowly while whisking them together.  Pretty easy and simple compared to a traditional method while achieving a very similar results.

Pour on the sauce
Cook the biscuits according to the tube's directions. Cook all eggs over-easy or however you like your eggs cooked. Salt and pepper the eggs while cooking. When biscuits are fully baked, add ham to top of biscuits. Place the eggs on ham. Pour Hollandaise sauce over the eggs. Warm in oven for a few minutes, if needed.

Just look at that sloppy goodness!
 **Love Jeremy's measuring method haha

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pumpkin Kiss Snickerdoodle Cookies

Snickerdoodle and pumpkin make the perfect marriage in these cookies. I discovered Pumpkin Kisses last Fall. Alone the Kisses are okay.... very pumpkin-y. But together with the right cookies or bars they are super duper!

Snickerdoodle cookies original recipe from Lovin' From The Oven

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

2 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Bag of Pumpkin Flavored Hershey's Kisses

In a bowl, combine flour, salt, baking and cream of tartar. Set aside. In another bowl, cream together sugars and butter. Add egg and mix. Add vanilla and mix again. Slowly mix in flour mixture.

Place dough in the refrigerator to firm up for about 30 mins.

Preheat oven to 300. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.

In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Roll each dough into the sugar/cinnamon before placing it on the cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cookies may seem undercooked but they will firm up. 

These cookies are amazing even without the Kiss

Once out of the oven, add the kiss. 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cups with a microwaveable caramel sauce

I am so very late to the pumpkin party! I just hope I'm not too late and you've all overdosed on it  already. I have a good excuse for being late... I really do. I am 3 1/2 months pregnant with twins and morning sickness has been in full swing. You have to feel bad for me. Just think of all the awesome Fall recipes I missed out on.

My first pumpkin recipe of the Fall involves pumpkin (duh!), cheesecake and caramel. Introducing Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake Cups...

These single serving size cups are made in a muffin tin. I used a large cupped tin but you can use whatever size you'd like. You can also check out the original recipe if you want to make a traditional cheesecake.

Because I love experimenting, I made these with a Cinnamon Toast Crunch crust. The result was quite tasty. The options of cookies, crackers, cereal you can use for a crust are endless!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cups (original recipe: Once Upon A Chef)

Makes 6 in a large muffin pan

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Crust 
4 cups Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
4 tbsp butter, melted

Pumpkin Cheesecake

5oz canned pumpkin
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Dash of salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
8oz cream cheese, room temp
2 eggs, room temp

Caramel Sauce (microwave!)

1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
2 tbsp water
1/8 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp butter

To make the crust:

Ground the cereal into fine crumbs. Pour in the melted butter and stir together.
Preheat oven to 325. Prepare a large muffin pan by rubbing olive oil into each muffin cup.

Divide the cereal mixture into each muffin cup. You may have a little left over.
Bake crust for about 8 minutes. Let cool while you prepare the cheesecake.

To make the cheesecake:

Combine pumpkin, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a saucepan. Cook on med-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to sputter. Reduce to med-low heat and stir constantly for another 5 minutes or until the mixture has become a rich brown color and thickened.

Pour into bowl and mix for one minute. Pour in heavy cream while mixer is on. Mix evenly. Add chunks of cream cheese and blend until smooth. This took quite a while for me and honestly it was still a little chunky when I decided enough was enough. The original recipe suggests using a food processor. I think it would be the preferred method in order to get the mixture smooth and to avoid chunky bits of cream cheese.  Add eggs and stir just until combined. Overmixing will cause the cheesecake to rise and crack.

Spoon the cheesecake mix into the muffin cups (on top of the crust).

We are going to bake this cheesecake in a water bath. The bath allows the cheesecake to cook evenly and helps to avoid it from cracking. Wrap the bottom of the muffin pan in foil.

Fill a cake pan with water. Just enough so it doesn't overflow once you add the prepared muffin tin.

Bake cheesecake for about 1 hour or until the cheesecake is no longer jiggling. Remove from oven and let cool for about 1/2 hour. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours. 

To make the caramel sauce:

Seriously, this recipe so easy and the sauce it absolutely wonderful!

Stir together sugar, syrup, water and lemon juice. Microwave until the caramel is pale yellow, or just barely starting to take on some color, 4-8 minutes (depending on the strength of your microwave). It's fine to stop and open the microwave to check often; just don't let it get too dark or it will burn.

Let the caramel sit for about 5 minutes -- it will gradually turn a rich amber color. (If after five minutes, it's not dark enough, place it back in the microwave for thirty seconds or so, then let it darken again. If it gets too dark, start over.)

In the meantime, heat the cream in the microwave until hot. Once the caramel reaches the right color, add the hot cream a few tablespoons at a time. It will bubble up intensely, but won't overflow.

After you've added all the cream, stir to incorporate then add the butter. Add more cream if the mixture seems too thick. Once the caramel cools, you can store it in your fridge.

When you are ready to serve, carefully slide a butter knife around the edges of the cheesecake and gently loosen it from the pan. Top with whip cream, caramel and a dash of cinnamon.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chippy Bars with Peanut Butter Frosting & Chocolate Drizzle

I have a sweet tooth. I think it's safe to say a lot of people do. Life is just more fun with sweets. Plain and simple. 

I love making these bars. They are easy and always a crowd pleaser. By adding a peanut butter frosting and chocolate drizzle, you can knock some socks off with tastiness and eye appeal. The platter will be empty before the party even starts.

Cookies (Tollhouse recipe):

2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla 
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Frosting:

6 tbsp butter
1 tbsp light corn syrup 

Chocolate Drizzle:

1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tbsp shortening

For cookies:

In a bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add chips and mix just until chips are evenly distributed.

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray or rub olive oil on bottom and sides. 

Bake for about 25 minutes or until a knife stuck in the middle of the bars comes out clean.

For Frosting:

Melt together chips and butter, once smooth add in corn syrup and mix well. Pour over cooled chippy bars. Let the bars cool on the counter until frosting has set then chill in fridge for 2 hours. 

For Drizzle:

Melt together chips and shortening in microwave for 45 seconds or so. Careful not to burn. Stir well and drizzle over bars.