A trick-or-treating tradition in our family is to have a mug of this spicy pungent warm-you-to-the-bones liquid upon returning from gathering candy. Also made tonight – Mom’s Tortellini Soup, Applesauce Drop Doughnuts, Simple Caramel Apples and Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.
Yes, it’s true. I love Harry Potter. The movies are entertaining, but I really love the books. I re-read them about once a year. Yes, the whole series. While trying to figure out my tickets for the upcoming (November 18th!) premiere of the first installment of the final book-turned-movie, I stumbled upon a fan website that had this recipe listed. When I read the description like “a whipped shortbread cookie”. I was sold. I figured I’d give it a whirl now so I can make a batch for drinking in line (we stake out a few hours before the show) at the midnight showing in a few weeks. For those of you who are not Harry Potter fans, butterbeer is what the kids (Harry and his school chums) drink at Madam Rosmerta’s establishment “The Three Broomsticks” in Hogsmeade (a little village just off the school grounds). According to J.K.Rowling herself, the flavor of butterbeer is “a little bit like less-sickly butterscotch”, and can be served hot in foaming tankards or nice and cold in a bottle. This is the cold in a bottle version, but if you wanted a hot mug – I’d imagine you could just add about 8oz of boiling water to the butter/sugar mixture. Continue reading
I used to just throw some salt and oil on my pumpkin seeds every year. Then a few years ago, I came across a recipe that used these ingredients. I’ve tweaked the recipe quite a bit based on what I’ve learned from making Chex mix from my mom’s old old recipe of it. Newer recipes use WAY less butter and seasoned salt. Same here. I pumped up the seasonings and the butter. Voila! Fantastic pumpkin seeds people will actually want to eat!
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
For every 2 cups of pumpkin seeds:
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt (to taste)
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (135 degrees C).
- Combine the butter, seasoned salt, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce and pumpkin seeds. Mix thoroughly and place in shallow baking dish. I use rimmed baking sheet so the seeds can spread out into a nice thin layer.
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes – until seeds are crunchy and golden brown.
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
- Grease a 9×9 inch square pan.
- Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Mix in the oats. Cook over low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until ingredients are well blended. Reserve 1/2 cup of mixture for the topping. Press remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust in the pan, and spread evenly with a knife or the back of a spoon.
- Crumble the reserved oat mixture over the chocolate layer, pressing in gently. Cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before cutting into bars.
1/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 2 mini-muffin tins.
- Mix apples, cider, white sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon together in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer until apples are partially cooked, about 5 minutes; remove from heat.
- Combine flour, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and nutmeg in a food processor, pulse until blended. Add the cubed/frozen butter and pulse until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. If you do not have a food processor, cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter. Dump the butter mixture into a large bowl and add the oats by hand.
- Place a heaping tablespoon of the crust mixture into a mini muffin cup, and, using the back of the tablespoon, press it into the cup so that it covers the bottom and pushes up the sides of the cup. Make the crust go all the way to the top of the little muffin cup, and patch any holes with more crust mixture. Place about 2 teaspoons of apple filling in the crust. Take two cups of the crust mixture and combine with 1/2 cup candied walnuts (optional). Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of the crust mixture over the filling. You will probably have about a cup of the crust mixture left over…don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong.
- Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Allow to cool in the pans about 10 minutes. Then, slide a butter knife around the edge of each crisp and pop out of the muffin tin. Place on wire rack to cool completely.
I took the original recipe and messed with it a bit. For starters, there is no oil or butter in my version – you will be AMAZED how fantastically moist these are using applesauce. Obviously if you put chocolate chips in, that decreases the “healthy factor” a bit, but still. No butter or oil? Superb! Also, I like the flavor of a mix of brown and white sugars much better than using all of one variety – but if you don’t have two cups of each, I’m sure these would still be great with mostly (or all) just one kind of sugar.
Spiced Pumpkin Muffins
3 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 cups white sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, applesauce, sugars, and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; stir into the pumpkin mixture until well blended. Add chocolate chips, raisins or anything else you’d like to add.
- Scoop batter into greased cupcake pans. Or divide the batter evenly between three 9×5 inch loaf pans that have been greased and floured. Top with candied walnuts if desired.
- If doing muffins, bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out with just a couple of crumbs. For loaves, bake for 1 hour. The top of the loaf should spring back when lightly pressed.
- For muffins, cool 3 minutes in pans, then remove to a wire rack. For loaves, cool 10 minutes in pan, then slide a paring knife around the outside edge then remove to a cooling rack.
Yesterday, my power was out the entire morning and most of the afternoon. It was very frustrating. I realized how completely addicted I am to my computer. When the power came back on, my monitor got fried and now won’t display anything. Computers are pretty worthless without a screen to show you what it’s doing. So, I’m typing on my little pink laptop – and having to stoop to non-RAW/unedited photos because this computer doesn’t have a program on it that can read RAW file format. Sigh. Woe is me.
None of these issues however, can stop me from baking. And, amazingly enough, these muffins taste just as good without the fancy-pants photo. The shredded apple gives moisture and flavor to the entire muffin while the apple chunks add that extra “Oh! I’m eating an apple muffin!”. This recipe makes 12 normal sized muffins, or 6 jumbo/bakery style muffins.
Apple Strudel Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons applesauce
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup peeled and chopped apples*
1 cup peeled and shredded apples* (use the biggest holes on your grater)
*Total, you’ll need about to large apples
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin pan, or use paper liners.
2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
3. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugars, applesauce and eggs until smooth. Mix in vanilla. Stir in apples, and gradually blend in the flour mixture. Using an ice cream scoop, spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan. Batter will be thick like a cookie dough.
4. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture is like coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over tops of mixture in muffin pan. Depending on how much sweetness you like, you’ll either use about half the mixture (like me) or more to your taste.
5. Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to sit 5 minutes before removing muffins from pan. Cool on a wire rack.
It was a gorgeous fall day! We went to the pumpkin patch as a family, enjoyed the brisk foggy morning and the muddy ground. We picked pumpkins and took some photos, then it was home to prepare for Madison’s birthday party.
She turned 4 back on the 5th, but because of wedding craziness, we held of on the party until tomorrow. She requested “chocolate cake with no frosting” for her birthday. Well, that’s no fun! So she gets a plain chocolate cupcake, but I created these babies for her guests. Madison LOVES candy corn (just like me!) – actually, it’s pretty much the only candy my daughter will eat (totally NOT just like me).
Originally I was going to make a cake in the shape of a candy corn. Yellow cake on the bottom, pumpkin spice layered over the top, cut it out into a triangle and frost it to look like a candy corn. Then I thought, I wonder if I can do cupcakes that are layered, yellow cake, orange cake and white frosting. How cute would that be?! Here’s what I came up with. It was time-consuming, but they taste AMAZING. The slightly sweet almond-y yellow layer combined with the spiced pumpkin layer are great together. And the creamy rich frosting is perfect on top. Plus, they are totally adorable.
Yellow Cake (bottom layer)
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups cake flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and the almond extract. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated.
- Fill cupcake pans (with liners) about 1/2 inch with yellow cake batter and set aside.
Pumpkin Spice Cake (top layer)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup applesauce
1. Sift together the flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
2. Beat 1/2 cup of oil, applesauce, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl to combine. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the mixture before adding the next.
3. Stir in the milk and pumpkin puree after the last egg. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.
4. Add pumpkin spice batter on top of yellow cake batter in cupcake pans until 3/4 full.
5. Bake in a 350° oven for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool in pan 2 minutes then take out of pan to cool completely on wire racks. Frost with swirled cream cheese frosting and top with a candy corn.
Here’s what you’ll have prior to frosting them:
Swirled Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar.
- Remove 1/3 C frosting to smaller bowl. Add orange food coloring to tint slightly orange.
- Put a Ziploc bag into a tall glass. Using a butter knife, spread a line of orange frosting vertically up the inside of the bag. Fill the bag with the plain white frosting. Press the air out, seal the bag and snip a corner. Pipe frosting around the cooled cupcakes to frost.
When I was doing some research for Pastor Phil’s Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies, I saw a photo online of Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars. Wow. I’m really glad I don’t drink coffee, because those baked goods would just about kill me I think. After finishing my Brownie Cookie digging, I started looking into recipe knockoffs for the bliss bars. I found this one at a delightful little blog and thought I’d give it a whirl for our yearly Haunted Corn Maze get together. These are beautiful and I think they’ll taste like heavenly bliss with my Bailey’s and Hot Chocolate tonight. I think the next time I make these, I’ll tweak a bit though – they seem just a bit skimpy on the chocolate and cranberries in the bar. I think 1/2 c each of the cranberries and chocolate would have been better.
Cranberry Bliss Bars (Copycat of Starbucks)
2 sticks (1 C) butter, softened
1 1/4 C brown sugar, packed
1 tsp ground powder ginger
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 C flour
1/4 C minced dried cranberries
1/4 C quality white chocolate, chopped
1/4 C minced candied ginger (make sure you mince it very fine)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange zest
2 Tbsp minced dried cranberries
1/3 C white chocolate, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 pan
Beat together butter and sugar and then add eggs and vanilla beating until light and fluffy. Add flour, powdered ginger and salt. Beat well. Fold in the cranberries, chocolate chunks and minced candied ginger. Spread batter in pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown.
After cake cools, mix all frosting ingredients together and spread over top of cake. Sprinkle with minced cranberries. Use a Ziploc bag of melted chocolate with a small corner cut off to drizzle the chocolate over the cake.
Allow cake to sit for several hours, then slice the cake lengthwise (the long way) through the middle. Slice the cake across the width three times making a total of eight rectangular slices. Slice each of those rectangles diagonally creating 16 triangular slices.
Put together some cake bites for the family get together for gift opening. Congrats to the new Mr & Mrs Desimone! I’ve had these cake bites sitting un-dipped in my freezer for about a month, took them out and dipped them while still frozen. It worked so much better than when I dipped them previously. I highly recommend freezing your batch – even if it’s just for an hour or so – prior to dipping them in chocolate. Added bonus, the frozen bites cooled the chocolate almost instantly, so I could pipe on the letters. I used black candy melts and an icing of powdered sugar and milk in honor of the new couple’s black and white themed wedding.