Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Chips

I was trying to sort thru some old photos on my computer today when I came across a few I didn’t even remember taking. Also, about 20,000 pictures of my kids. Wow. It’s a wonder they aren’t blind from all the flash bulbs going off in their faces. I apparently took pictures of food well before I decided to start a blog as there were a random recipe photos sprinkled throughout the birthday parties, first days of school and family holiday get-togethers. It’s no wonder. The food at events has always been almost as important to me as the people. Almost. I made this fruit salsa when I hosted a baby-shower for my sister-in-law. I remember it was awesome. And that in the midst of all the other deliciousness I made that day, the salsa and chips disappeared the fastest. Maybe because the day Anna chose for her party ended up being about 100°. Which might not be unreasonably hot in your neck-of-the-woods, but Seattleites are sure they’ve gone to Hades when it’s that warm outside. This salsa is bursting with cool-off fruity goodness. Paired with the sweet crunchy cinnamon chips, it is incredible.
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Pretzel Bites

It’s that time of year again. No more family Christmas parties with your crazy Uncle Lou who makes inappropriate remarks after a few glasses of Granny’s homemade nog. The presents are opened & carols all sung. You’ve convinced yourself that the tree and lights can stay up while you do absolutely nothing for a few days. This is the magical time of year when pretty much the only thing on TV is football. College bowl games and NFL playoffs are kicking into high gear. It’s time for lazy afternoons parked on your caboose with friends who don’t care that you are wearing your ratty sweatpants. Friends who totally understand that you must wear elastic waistbands due to the obscene number of holiday treats you’ve been eating for the past month. No judging. Just  more eating. And football. A great time of year indeed. [Read more…]

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes & Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Oh how I love love love these cupcakes. The spices, the pumpkin, the cream cheese frosting. It all combines for an absolutely perfect taste explosion. All individually packaged up in a convenient wrapper. Does anyone else think unwrapped cupcake holders look like tutus? No? Just me? Anyway. These are my favorite fall cupcakes – and while it may be spring technically according to the calendar, you’d never know it to look outside at my house. A chilly 48° with misty rain and wind. You know what I mean by misty rain right? The kind of rain that doesn’t really look like it’s coming down. Like it’s really just sprinkling. Yet somehow you are DRENCHED after walking the 14 steps between the front door and your vehicle. Misty rain. It’s the most deceptive of all the rain types. Trust me. I’m from Seattle. I know my rain.  Today’s weather had fall written all over it, so I figured I’d make the most of it with my favorite cold weather cupcakes. It’ll probably be the last time I get to before it’s all sunshine-y and spring like outside. (sigh) I know. That’s totally wishful thinking. Oh well. [Read more…]

Glazed Cinnamon Raisin Scones

We got new neighbors last weekend (total bummer to be moving New Year weekend) – and I’ve been waiting until the dust settles next door to bring over some baked goodies and say “hello!”. My super awesome talented cousin posted this recipe on her blog today and I decided it was perfect for saying “Welcome to the neighborhood”.

I prepped these scones in my food processor. I love that you pulse, pulse, pulse the dry ingredients, add the shortening, pulse some more, add the milk and raisins, pulse some more and you’re basically done. (does pulse not look like a word anymore to you too?) And only one thing to clean! As always with scones, don’t over mix your dough. I just knead it two or three times to make sure it’s all combined and then pat out the dough lightly with my palm. [Read more…]

Baked Eggnog French Toast

It’s a Christmas morning tradition in our home to have a big gorgeous breakfast together. For many years I’ve made french toast, eggs, bacon, sausage etc. for my family. This year, I decided to try something that would keep me away from all that flipping bread over a hot griddle. I’ve tried overnight french toast before, but didn’t want to go that route since I had zero time before Christmas day to prepare it. So, I kind of made up this version – and included some eggnog to give it a holiday twist. For the rest of the year, I’ll just use all milk instead of part nog. The great thing is that it came together in about 10 minutes, and then baked while we were reading the Christmas story and opening gifts. Easy and delicious. [Read more…]

Eggnog Vanilla Candied Nuts

It’s an awesome day today! MOPS this morning was fantastic, making up Dutch Apple Pies with my girls. Tonight I’m going to see Harry Potter at midnight. Well, actually – I’m getting in line at 7pm. Obviously I will need some snacks while waiting. I was in the mood to try something new that I could put a bag of in my purse. Wait, doesn’t everyone smuggle snacks into the movie theater? No? Just me? Hmmmm.

You may have noticed, I don’t put nuts in my baked goods. Not sure what it is, but I just don’t like eating something deliciously soft and then finding a hard nut in there. However, I adore nuts on their own merits.  The grocery store nearest my home has a nut bar and I absolutely LOVE their vanilla cinnamon coated macadamia nuts. But, they are $16 a pound. Seriously? I found a recipe for candied nuts and thought I’d put my own spin on it. Voila. Eggnog Vanilla Candied Nuts. Oh goodness they are so delicious. And way less expensive than purchasing them. I got a pound of walnuts on sale at WinCo (have I mentioned how happy I am to have one nearby now?) for $3.50 and threw together this recipe. Gonna try them next with macadamia nuts. I’m sure this would be amazing with whatever nut you particularly love. [Read more…]

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Muffins

Sometimes, you just want a doughnut. If you’re like me, you have trouble justifying the drive to a bakery just to buy one, so you get a dozen. And then eat them all. Not good. Here’s my take on a mini-muffin that tastes just like a delicious doughnut. Without the guilt. The original recipe for this used butter, I like to substitute applesauce wherever I can – and always have success when using it in muffins or bread. These are light and delicious. Bet you can’t eat just one! I’m glad I’m heading out of the house – otherwise there’s no way these would make it to the meeting I’m taking them to tonight!
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Brown Sugar Croutons

Quick and simple but oh so delicious! Serve with your favorite savory soup. I served this up with my Gourmet Pumpkin Soup tonight.

Brown Sugar Croutons

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Apple Crisp Cups

It’s a well documented fact that I love mini desserts. I don’t know what it is about them. Maybe it’s that no matter what you’re making, if you turn it into a bite sized version, it gets a little more adorable. And somehow, being able to pop the entire thing in your mouth makes it taste even better. Apple crisp is one of my favorite fall desserts. Since I’m not a fan of pie crust in general, crisps are way better in my book. But, there’s never enough “crisp” to go around it seems. Enter the Apple Crisp Cup. Mini muffin tins filled with crisp crust surrounding spiced apples with more crisp on top. Oh baby.

Apple Crisp Cups

Apple Crisp Cups

4 large Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored, and chopped
1/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
2 cups all-purpose flour
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
1/2 cup candied walnuts, chopped fine

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 2 mini-muffin tins.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. 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.

Apple Strudel Muffins

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

 

 

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
2 eggs
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

Strudel Topping

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Directions
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.

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