Friday, November 22, 2013

Moving to Wordpress!

It's official I am making the leap!  I have moved over to wordpress! Please check out my new site location at

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sour Cream Citrus Pound Cake

A few mere days ago, my biggest views per day number was 65 and I had hoped that maybe someday soon I would hit 100. I figured a reasonable goal. Well I am so proud to say that thanks to all of you coming over from foodgawker, because I have hit well over 700 now in one day! And of course that got me a little sentimental and made me start looking back through my blog posts. I went back to my very first recipe I posted and (gasp!) will you believe I didn't put a picture with it? Nope. Not one photo. Not even a quick camera shot from my phone! So I figured it was high time we got a photo of what I have come to believe is the best pound cake I have put to my lips.  Seriously, folks, I can't stress to you just how good this cake is. I finally present to you (with photo) my sour cream citrus pound cake.

This cake is light and bursting with fresh citrus flavor. I think what sets this cake over the edge is the tangy yet sweet lemon icing.  This cake is a citrus pound cake and not a lemon pound cake, because this cake is made with the zest of a lemon, lime, AND orange! If zesting is new to you, a microplane makes quick work and leaves you with pretty small ribbons of citrus.  You want the colorful outer rind, but be careful not to zest down too far. You don't want the white pith (that bitter part of the citrus right under the zest).  Pith make not a flavorful anything! The zest is where all the beautiful citrus oils are hanging out and provides a punch of citrus flavor.

I made this cake in a bundt pan this time, but generally I make it in two loaf pans. The bundt pan was great for presentation, but I think the loaf pans allow for more cake to icing ratio.  So if I were you make it in a loaf pan if you are like me and live for the sweet gooey icing.  If presentation is what you are going for, you could always make more icing!  This cake make a great Christmas present for family members, co-workers, the mailman, whoever is on your list.  I made it for my co-workers last year and it was well received and got the stamp of approval statement of "I must have that recipe."

So, now after what has been technically two years (with a whole lot of stops and starts in there). I present to you my first recipe post finally with picture! Thanks to all who have visited, read, and hopefully you will visit again.

Sour Cream Citrus Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze
From Cambridge School of Culinary Arts
from Boston Girl Bakes
Ingredients for Cake:
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4  cups sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
Grated zest of 1 orange, 1 lemon, 1 lime
1. Sift dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
2.  In another bowl, combine grated orange, lemon, and lime zests, vanilla extract and sour cream.
3. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.   Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the mixing bowl well after each addition and mix until blended.  Add dry and wet ingredients alternately to butter-sugar-egg mixture until uniformly incorporated- do not overmix.
4. Grease and flour one bundt cake pan (or 2 large loaf pans- or 6-7 mini loaf pans).  Pour batter into pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for approximately 50 minutes (be sure to lower the baking time if you are making things smaller).  The cake is done when a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool before glazing.

Lemon Glaze
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon zest

Mix all ingredients until smooth.  Pour over top of cake and serve.  For a thicker glaze use less lemon juice.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

10 minute steel cut oats

I know it may sound boring, but I love steel cut oats. No, really I do. Steel cut oats unless you are unfamiliar with them are actually the inner oat kernel (or groats- thank you Wikipedia!) cut into small pieces. They are generally used in Scotland for porridges, whereas rolled oats are more of a British thing (or basically what I grew up on).  Steel cut oats are less processed (i.e. healthier for you as well!) , and because of this requires a much longer cooking time. I think a lot of people (and I am totally putting myself in this category) shy away from steel cut oats because of the time they take to cook.  This recipe is a brilliant solution to the problem of "I just don't have time to cook steel cut oats!".  Thank you, Cook's Illustrated. You have done it again.

This post is more of a how-to then follow an exact recipe. Steel cut oats can be made the day of, but take about 30 to 40 minutes to make. (I know, 40 minutes!?) Ain't nobody got time for that. (ok I just had to say that.) This recipe cuts the time to a mere 10 minutes from boil to bowl. Now that I got time for! It does however, require you soaking the oats overnight. So it does require a little forethought. But, hey, it saves me a half hour in the morning. I'm all for that.

You start by boiling 3 cups water and once it is boiling, take the pot off the heat and stir in your oats.  To cook steel cut oats, it's a rule of thumb to follow a 4:1 liquid to oat ratio. We will let the oats soak in the hot boiling water overnight, and add in that last cup of liquid the morning of. Easy, peasy. The next morning, add in your last cup of liquid. Now here is where you can be as creative as you want. I added water (to save a few calories), but milk definitely adds more flavor and some richness.  Then go ahead in fresh or dried fruit, spices, nuts, or whatever you want. Sky's the limit here! I added in cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, two grated apples, raspberries, honey, and pecans. Like, I said, add in whatever floats your boat.

Here are some great steel cut oatmeal recipes I found online from some of my favorite bloggers and I think they are worth a look. All the recipes could be adapted to use the 10-minute cooking method.

10 minute Steel Cut Oats
From Cook's Illustrated
Note:  Cook's Illustrated notes that the oats will continue to thicken as it cools.  If it becomes a little too thick for your liking, thin it out with a little boiling water until it reaches your desired consistency.

3 cups water
1 cup steel cut oats
1 cup of another liquid (you could you more water or any type of milk you like)

Add Ins:
Fresh fruit cut up (I grated in two apples and raspberries
Nuts (I used pecans)
Spices (Cinnamon and Nutmeg add great flavor!)
Sweetness (Brown sugar is ideal, but I used raw honey and stevia)

1.  The night before, prepare a pot with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil.
2. When the water is boiling, remove from heat and stir in the oats.
3. Cover and let sit overnight.
4. The next morning, add in your 1 cup of liquid, and any add-ins you like and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium, and continue to stir for about 4-6 minutes until it resembles warm pudding and the oats still retain some chewiness to them in texture.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bacon and Cheese Strata

A couple days ago I posted those easy caramel pecan sticky rolls. And I was so excited because I submitted them to foodgawker and they helped me get to my first time viewing number of over 250!! Before that, I had an all time one day blog viewing number of 65, so you can imagine how excited I was to see a number of 100, 200, 300! Thank you foodgawker and pinterest! (I even now have an official "foodgawker" logo on the side of my blog.) I'm feeling pretty legit today folks! Well today I am presenting another fabulous brunch recipe for you to make for those holiday breakfasts that are fast approaching. It's perfect for those overnight holiday guests.  (I should know, I am one every holiday!)  This one is for those savory at heart- a bacon and cheese strata. A what-a? A strata!  A strata if you are unfamiliar is a layered breakfast casserole of scrumptious items like bread, eggs, and cheese.  Think savory bread pudding.

This dish is extremely versatile as well.  It adapts well to adding in whatever meats, cheese, herbs, and veggies you feel like adding in or happen to have on hand.  It's a great pantry clean out recipe.  I happen to have bacons and onion to add in, Monterey jack and cheddar cheeses to sprinkle on, and fresh thyme that was rapidly approaching its expiration date.  (Let me tell you, though, the fresh earthy thyme gave this dish that little something extra to it)

Ok so this dish was adapted from a cooking light recipe.  Yeah, ok I totally took the light out of this recipe.  You can definitely put it back in if you want to feel a little less guilty this holiday season.  You could use turkey bacon.  You could add in some vegetables.  You could use egg substitute or egg whites. could not and do what I did which was say bring on the full fat comfort food version!

Bacon and Cheese Strata
Adapted from Cooking Light
*  1 loaf of French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 7 cups)                 
*  2 tablespoons butter
*  2 cups chopped onion
*  Cooking spray
*  1 1/2 cups cheese (I used Monterey jack and cheddar)
*  8 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
*  3 cups low-fat milk
*  12 eggs
*  2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
*  1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
*  1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Arrange bread in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until toasted. 
3. Place bread cubes in a large bowl.
4. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions to pan and sauté for 10 minutes or until tender.
5.  Add onion mixture to bread and toss well to combine.
6.  Arrange half of bread mixture in a 13 x 9 baking dish coated with cooking spray.
7.  Sprinkle with half of the cheese and half of the bacon.  Top with remaining bread mixture, cheese, and bacon.
8.  Combine milk and the next 4 ingredients, stirring with a whisk.  Pour milk mixture over bread mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours (or overnight).
9.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
10.  Remove strata from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Bake strata, covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until set.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Easy Overnight Caramel Pecan Rolls

I present for you an easy and scrumptious brunch recipe that will get you rave reviews and have you saying, "Oh this dish? It was nothing!" I present to you caramel pecan sticky rolls. As the holidays approach, time gets even more precious and schedules more hectic it seems like the last thing in the world you might have is time to make sticky buns. Trust me, these rolls are a cinch to put together. And the best part, they can be prepared in a snap the day before. 
These rolls start with frozen bread rolls. Hence, the easy part. There is no fussing around with yeast, and rise time, and curse words when it doesn't quite rise right. Come, on admit we have all been there. Just let the rolls thaw out, and bam! Place them on a bed of pecans.

Once the rolls are ready. It's time to prepare the caramel sauce that will get poured over them.  Nothing could be easier than this. It requires vanilla pudding and butterscotch pudding mixes. Just be careful, don't get the instant kind. It has to be the cook and serve kind. I have no scientific explanation as to why this is. But just get the cook and serve kind. You're welcome.  This sauce started to seize up on me a little. If this happens to you, just keep stirring. Just keep stirring. It will eventually smooth out. Once it is all smooth, go ahead and drizzle that scrumptious sauce over all those rolls. Cover, refrigerate. Sleep. Done.

The next day, take the rolls out and let them sit on the counter for a few minutes to come back to room temperature.  Let your oven pre-heat, and when your oven is ready these will be ready to be popped in.  Easy. Peasy. Lemon squeezy.

I'm telling you, these rolls are fluffy and insanely delicious.  And so you didn't make the dough from scratch. Who cares, don't hesitate to rake in all the compliments when you get them. And trust me, you will get them.

The hardest part of these rolls, trying to resist eating them all!  

Like, seriously look all that ooey, gooey caramel-ness going on in that picture.  I think it's time I go eat another one. Diet starts...tomorrow.

Easy Overnight Caramel Pecan Rolls
Adapted slightly from Sweet Anna's
Print this recipe!

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
24 frozen bread rolls (2 bags of 12 rolls each), thawed
1 1/4 cups butter
1 regular package vanilla pudding mix (cook, not instant!)
1 regular package butterscotch pudding mix (cook, not instant!)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk or cream

Grease a 9×13″ or larger baking dish with lots of butter.  Sprinkle the chopped pecans into the bottom of the dish.  Place the rolls out evenly on top of the pecans, filling the pan evenly.

In a medium saucepan, melt together the butter and the pudding mixes.  Stir until smooth.  Turn off the heat and stir in the cinnamon, brown sugar and milk until smooth.  Pour the caramel mixture over the bread dough in the baking dish.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, remove the pan from the fridge to warm up to room temperature and raise a bit more while you preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Place the rolls into the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, until a piece taken out of the center and is cooked through and no longer doughy.
Place a large platter over the top of the baking dish and gently flip the caramel rolls out onto the platter so the caramel sauce and pecans can pour all over the buns.  Serve warm and enjoy!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pumpkin and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

 It's that time of year where everything has turned pumpkin. Every corner you look it's pumpkin lattes, pumpkin muffins, heck why not then turn a macaroni and cheese pumpkin too?  In the Cinderalla movie, turning back into a pumpkin was a bad thing.  For macaroni and cheese, however, it is a beautiful Fall comfort food. 

What inspired this dish, was a science experiment that was going on in my classroom where students test which substance will help to preserve a pumpkin better. So that means for two weeks, my classroom is filled with rotting pumpkin pieces. Oh the joys of my job! For this experiment, this means I had to carve a pumpkin into small chunks for each group. This left me with a half of a very large pumpkin. Not one to waste food, I took it home, and continued to carve it into small chunks and roasted it in the oven for an hour at 400 degrees seasoned with fresh thyme. It roasted up so easily! I highly recommend going to the trouble of roasting fresh pumpkin. (Ok, yea I can hear you laughing). Go to the trouble if you want and happen to have spare time on your hands (spare time? What's that?!)  I normally don't have a spare minute, so please feel free to use canned pumpkin. 

The great thing about macaroni and cheese is its versatility. I, mean, what doesn't go with cheese and pasta? One thing that definitely goes well is bacon. Bacon just makes things better. God bless bacon. The bacon helped to balance out the sweetness of the pumpkin fall flavors and added that much loved smokiness to the dish.  I also used and a combination of smoked gouda and cheddar cheese. The smoked gouda cheese gave a wonderful flavor, so if you can get a hold of some it's worth the splurge.

So although my classroom does not have lovely smells coming out of it, this macaroni and cheese filled up my kitchen with delicious Autumnal aromas. Oh and smells of bacon.

Pumpkin and Bacon Mac-n-Cheese
Print this recipe!
Adapted from Rachael Ray

Note:  I used fresh roasted pumpkin for this recipe but feel free to use the canned stuff. Trust me, I won't judge you.  I normally would too but I just so happen to have half of a pumpkin sitting around from a science experiment. (No, really I did). As for the bacon, I found the original recipe just needed a balance from the sweet, earthy spiciness from the pumpkin, honey, and other spices.  And bacon always makes things better right? I also used half gouda and half cheddar. The gouda gave it great flavor, but use whatever cheese you have it on hand. Overall, this macaroni and cheese got great reviews from my tastetesters and every noodle was devoured.

  • 1 lb. pasta rigatoni
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup pumpkin beer
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 2 cups roasted  pumpkin, or pumpkin puree
  • 6-7 strips bacon, crumbled
  • 2 1/2 cups cheese (gouda and cheddar)
  • couple pinche of cloves or allspice
  • pinch of cayenne pepper and nutmeg
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it and cook pasta to al dente. Drain and reserve. Preheat broiler.
2. Cook bacon according to package directions (I was lazy and did mine in the microwave!). Then on a cutting board, after the bacon has cooled, crumble the bacon into small pieces.
 3.  Melt butter in a medium saucepot over medium heat. Whisk in flour, cook for 1 minute, then raise heat a bit and add beer.
4. Reduce until almost evaporated then whisk in honey
5. Season with cloves or allspice, mustard, cayenne, a little freshly grated nutmeg, some salt and pepper. Thicken to coat spoon, a couple of minutes, then taste to adjust seasonings. 
6. Whisk in pumpkin puree then stir in about 2 cups grated cheese with a wooden spoon until melted. Combine pasta with sauce and arrange in a casserole or individual ramekins. Sprinkle remaining cheese and a light dusting of paprika. Broil to brown and bubble. Garnish with chopped parsley or chives.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Apple Spice Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream frosting

A couple of posts ago, you might remember I went apple picking and came back with ahhhhh-lot of apples. I decided some of the apples should go into cupcake form. And combined with salted caramel. I mean how could you go wrong? Yup, I'm right. You can't.

This was a easy cupcake recipe chock full of apples and fall spices. I made them miniature form to serve at a faculty meeting. I find that people cannot resist a cupcake in miniature form. And following Halloween and eating way too much candy, there is a less guilt that follows. The recipe made for me about 3 dozen mini cupcakes. If I had to guess, it would make about a dozen cupcakes, give or take a few. But that is only a guess, folks! If you make them in regular form let me know!

Apple Spice Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
Print this recipe!

Cupcake ingredients: (makes 10-12 regular-sized cupcakes, 36 mini cupcakes)

 4 Tbsp brown sugar
 1/2 C granulated sugar
 1/2 C applesauce
 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
 1/2 tsp vanilla
 2 egg
 1 C all purpose flour
 1 tsp baking soda
 1/2 tsp baking powder
 1/8 tsp salt
 1 tsp cinnamon
 1/4 tsp nutmeg
 Pinch of ground cloves
2 apples, chopped 

Buttercream frosting:
2 1/2 sticks butter, softened
 2 1/2 C powdered sugar
 1 tsp vanilla
 4 tablespoons caramel sauce
 2 Tbsp heavy cream 
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake pans with liners.
2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix together sugars, applesauce and vegetable oil. Mix in eggs and vanilla, followed by remaining ingredients. 
3. Mix just into all ingredients are combined. Use a spoon or cookie scoop to divide mixture among prepared liners. 
4.  Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted only has a few moist crumbs. Cool on a wire rack.
5.  Prepare buttercream in a medium bowl or stand mixer. Cream butter and powdered sugar together. Mixture may become slightly crumbly, that's okay. Add vanilla, caramel syrup and heavy cream. Beat until smooth and spreadable consistency. Add additional heavy cream if needed.
6. When cupcakes have cooled completely. Use a knife or cupcake corer to remove the center of the cupcake. Fill with apple pie filling, leaving a 1/2-inch space at the top. Slice off the dome of the cored piece of cupcake, place over the apple pie filling.
7. Pipe or frost cupcakes as desired. Drizzle with additional caramel syrup. Serve immediately or store in a covered container.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Oreo Brownies

Go ahead. I dare you. Google "best ever brownies". Don't worry I will wait. Done yet? Of course not! Google best ever brownies and you may as well kiss goodbye your afternoon your week.  Wait, I can hear you saying, I thought this was a post about "oreo brownies". It is! I promise.  But it started with a best ever brownie search and took shape from there. Every site, big to small, seems to have a "best ever brownie" recipe. I'm not a big of such claims to be honest.  I, mean, have they tasted every brownie recipe out there? From what my search did tell me, is that cocoa powder is the key ingredient. I know!  Simple cocoa powder. Everyone has a container of that in their pantry right? Not fussy tempered melted chocolate or a combination of both. So, I heeded advice from those that came before and went for it.

A good, nay, great brownie recipe should have two characteristics.  A crackly top. And a fudgey (fudgy?) interior.  Sorry, cakey brownie lovers, but fudgey wins over here. If I wanted cake, I'd eat cake! When I bite into a brownie, I expect to crunch through a chocolatey exterior to discover that ooey, gooey, fudgeyness (that's a word, right?) on the inside. These brownies delivered on both counts.  Crackly top? Check.  Fudgey interior? Check, check. Best ever brownies? Who knows, but they were d*#@ good! Have I got you clamoring to your cupboards to fish out that container of cocoa powder yet?

To be even more of a sweet genius, I threw in some crushed Oreos.  Have you seen the latest study on oreos? So you can't blame me for throwing them in. Perhaps, that also explains how when I had the idea earlier in the week to make oreo brownies and picked up a package that only a mere 3 days later only a dozen cookies remained.  Self control wasn't exactly my forte this week, people. It can't be helped, it's scientifically proven! Where are the oreos in those photos? I can hear you, out there! The recipe calls for pouring a hot butter and sugar mixture into a egg mixture. If you add the oreos in to the hot mixture, they tend melt into the batter. Trust me, you will still taste them, but you won't necessarily see them. If you are more patient then myself, wait about 20 minutes then add in your oreos. But, if you are like me then you throw them in and get to eating your brownies a little earlier! This is not a moment for delayed gratification.

I adjusted this recipe from a site I visit frequently, King Arthur Flour.  The original recipe called for Dutch-process cocoa powder. I could uncover a container of natural cocoa powder.  Fear not if you are in the same boat! Natural cocoa powder can be substituted for dutch process. So row on people!  If you want the full nitty gritty on these two cousins of powder, I highly recommend skipping on over to Joy The Baker, and read her post on Dutch vs. Natural Cocoa Powder. Then you should skip off to the pantry and whip up some of these brownies!

Oreo Brownies
Note: I used natural cocoa powder because that is all I had on hand. The original recipe calls for dutch process cocoa powder.  I can only speak for how my brownies came out. So use what you have! And I used 12 oreos because sadly that is all I had left! Of course, I highly recommend you use more!

Print this recipe!


  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup natural cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 12 oreos, crushed

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan

2. Crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.

3. In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Or simply combine the butter and sugar, and heat, stirring, until the butter is melted. Continue to heat (or microwave) briefly, just until the mixture is hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating the mixture to this point will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

4.Add the hot butter/sugar mixture to the egg/cocoa mixture, stirring until smooth.
5. Add the flour and oreos, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the oreos to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.
6. Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.
7. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cranberry Pecan Sweet Potato Bread

The last time I was home I got to visit the local cider mill.  A trip to the cider mill has been a tradition since childhood.  The smells of apples pie baking, fresh doughnuts frying, and spices hang in the air when you walk in the door.  It's absolutely intoxicating as you can imagine. The cider mill brings in local apples and presses them using an 80-year old apple press.  The young and old gather around to watch fresh made cider being made and smush even closer to get a free sample.  Besides being able to snatch up a gallon of the freshest cider around, a dozen of melt in your mouth fried doughnuts, and an apple pie I have yet to be able to duplicate in my own kitchen is being able to purchase other lovely jarred goodies I can never find in my local grocery store.  Case in point- sweet potato butter.  I decided to try out this sweet potato butter in a quick bread recipe for a nice change of pace from the typical apple and pumpkin recipes that around the internet at the moment. 

This is a simple quick bread recipe with traditional spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  It does have quite a bit of spice to it, so if you prefer less spice I would try reducing the amount of spices in the recipe.  The bread also calls for melted butter, instead of oil.  Next time I think I would try using vegetable oil.  I like the moistness that oil gives a to a quick bread recipe.  Although this bread is good, I think it could have been boosted a bit in the moistness department. 

The recipe does call for apple cider, which also gave me a chance to use up some of the fresh cider I watched get pressed. I also decided to throw in some dried cranberries and toasted pecans for some extra crunch and texture. Feel free to omit, or change it up. Hey it's your bread not mine!

If you aren't able to get a hold of a jar of sweet potato butter, and I totally get it using pumpkin butter or apple butter would be just fine I think.  You could also try using a mashed sweet potato.  Keep in mind, the sweet potato butter is sweetened and has vanilla flavoring added to it. So if you do us a sweet potato, I would suggest adding a little extra sweetness and some vanilla extract.  If you do try it with any of these suggestions, please let me know how it turns out!

Cranberry Pecan Sweet Potato Bread

Print This Recipe!

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
* 1/2 tsp. baking soda
* 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
* 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
* 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
* 1 egg
* 1 cup brown sugar
* 1/2 cup apple cider
* 1/4 cup melted butter
* 1 cup sweet potato butter, divided
*  1/2 cup dried cranberries
* 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
* turbinado sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling


1.                Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.                Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

3.                Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a bowl; set aside.

4.                Beat the egg in a bowl.

5.                Whisk in the brown sugar, apple cider, melted butter, and half of the sweet potato butter.

6.                Stir in the flour mixture until no lumps remain.

7.                Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and spread the remaining sweet potato butter over the batter. Pour the remaining batter over. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

8.                Bake in the preheated oven on the middle rack until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean,  50 – 60 minutes.

9.                Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Salted Caramel Apple Crumb Bars

Ok so it's been awhile since I've posted. I can hear you scoffing over there. Ok it's be a loooooong time- oh about six months give or take a day.  I decided to give this blogging thing a go one more time. I have to admit I got a little discouraged, blogging ain't easy! I decided if I was going to get back into though I was going to need to invest in a new camera.  My point and shoot just wasn't going to cut it. So with my new (ok used off of Amazon- I am a teacher folks and those fancy cameras aren't cheap!) camera in hand I'm giving this blogging thing a go one more time. So what did I make to celebrate my return? These delicious no wait... insanely delicious good that I hate to admit how many I ate- Salted Caramel Apple Crumb Bars.  I had a bushel? a lot of apples staring at me on the counter that I had to find something to do with. My friends and I had gone apple picking the weekend before and not being an apple picking expert I bought the BIG bag to fill. Well, folks, in case you are planning on going apple picking that BIG bag is way more apples than you know what to do with.  Consider yourself warned. 

These bars were a perfect little package of Autumn. And salted caramel anything? Count me in.  So apples, cinnamon, salted caramel. You can't go wrong. To me, they were like eating apple pie. Only you know easier to make and I didn't feel as guilty. Desserts in small form do that to me. Ok, so yea I ate probably way more than equivalent to a slice of pie so that logic totally doesn't count.  But if the crisp Fall air has you yearning for pie and simpler times these bars can deliver that. Well maybe not simpler times, but hey these bars should put a smile on your face.  What will I do with the rest of the apples adorning my countertop? Guess you will just have to wait and see... 

Salted Caramel Apple Crumb Bars
original source: Two Peas and Their Pod
Please note:  I cheated a little and used good jarred caramel sauce.  Feel free to do the same or go ahead and make your own.  Two Peas and Their Pod's original recipe includes a recipe for caramel sauce.  Either way, don't forget the caramel sauce at the end. Drizzle that stuff all over these little babies. Seriously, the caramel sauce at the end puts the bars over the top. (I apologize my picture does not include the final drizzle of caramel sauce!)

Print this recipe!


For salted caramel sauce
1 cup of your favorite jarred caramel
1 teaspoon fleur de sel, plus extra for sprinkling
For the Apple Filling:
5 cups peeled and diced apples
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup all-purpose Gold Medal flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground all-spice
For the crust:
3 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2. For the apple filling- place the diced apples in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix gently. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, cornstarch, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground all-spice. Pour over the apples and carefully combine. Set aside.
3. For the dough-in a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or by using your hands, until butter is mixed in, but you still have small chunks of butter. Mix the egg and vanilla together. Add into the flour and butter mixture and combine. The dough will be crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan.
4. Spread the apple mixture evenly over the bottom crust. Drizzle about salted caramel sauce over the apple filling, about 3/4 cup. Crumble the remaining dough over the apple caramel layer and pat gently.
5. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into squares. Drizzle  the extra caramel sauce (feel free to drizzle as much as you like- 1/4 cup is just my suggestion, but who am I to tell you when to stop?) and an extra sprinkling of fleur de sel over the squares and serve.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies and Old Adages

As the old adage goes you get what you pay for. Sometimes though, when things are just a dollar you don't even get your money's worth. I  I had been perusing around for a really good Easter celebration flourless cake when I happened to stumble upon these little guys. These cookies were simple, flourless, and pretty light in calories (toting only 55 calories a cookie! I know!) So I got sidetracked on the Easter recipe hunting and decided to get my whisk and bowl out for these cookies.  I went to the store and got the remaining ingredients I needed on the list to make these immediately. It wasn't until I got home that I realized I had forgotten to get parchment paper! I was so overjoyed to see that I had happened to pick up a box of it a couple weeks ago. I recently purchased some parchment paper for a dollar at a store that will remain nameless (Although, I am sure you can guess the name).  Little did I know what would ensue...

Everything was going well until.....that darn parchment paper. These suckers stuck like nobody's business. So I apologize for the ugliness of the photos, but I can tell you that even though a few curse words got thrown around (ok a lot got thrown around) and I had to finally give up on the last cookie on the sheet they still taste pretty amazing.  They will remind you of the top of a brownie pan. If you cut off the crunchy top of a pan of brownies so you still got some gooeyness underneath, you would have these cookies. Let's just say even though they did not win best in show that did not stop anyone from scarfing them down.

I adapted the recipe I found from Smitten Kitchen by reducing the amount of walnuts from 2 3/4 cups to 2 cups. I used chopped walnuts, which probably results in a lot more walnuts since I measured them that already chopped. I decided to save myself the step of having to chop them later.  I also then added in 3/4 cup of miniature chocolate chips for some extra chocolatey-ness. I decided to additonally boost the chocolatey flavor by adding in a 1/2 teaspoon of espresso powder. The consistency of these cookies will remind you of your favorite brownie mix as well. These cookies poof up and will collapse after you take them out. Don't worry they are suppossed to do that.

So as another old adage goes do as I say (make these cookies) and not as I do (in other words, don't buy cheap parchment paper and think you can get away with it).

Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies
Originally adapted from Francois Payard's Chocolate Epiphany

Yield: 20 to 24 2-inch cookies
2 cups walnuts, chopped
3/4 cups miniature chocolate chips
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Spread the walnuts  on a large-rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 7-8 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant. Let cool slightly. (If you choose to use walnut halves, you may need to keep them in the over for an extra minute. After cooling, coarsely chop them.)
Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and lower temperature to 320. Line two large-rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk (or combine in an electric mixer on low speed) the confectioner’ sugar with the cocoa powder, salt, and espresso powder followed by the chopped walnuts. While whisking (or once you change the speed to medium), add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (do not overbeat or it will stiffen).
Spoon the batter onto the baking sheets in 12 evenly spaced mounds, and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through to ensure even baking. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks. Let cookies cool completely, and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

pot o' gold cupcakes

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! Now I imagine that St. Patrick's Day is a crazy fun day everywhere right? Not just in Boston? Of course, if I have to be biased (and I will) what better place to celebrate the luck o' the irish then in Boston?! Boston bleeds green all year round and St. Patrick's Day is no exception.

To celebrate I made these pot o' gold cupcakes. You will want to make these regardless of what day it is.  It is a super moist chocolate cupcake with a hidden surprise of caramel in the middle topped off with a light and fluffy vanilla buttercream. Basically, it is to die for.

 It uses my go to chocolate cake recipe, which is really just Hershey's "perfect chocolate cake" recipe. What can I say Hershey got this cake right. Sometimes I find chocolate cake to be dry and lacking in flavor. Not so with this cupcake. It is moist and a breeze to throw together. The batter will be very, very thin. Don't fret! It is suppossed to be like that. It has a cup of boiling water added in as the last ingredient making it thin but super moist.  I actually ran out of vegetable oil (yup, I know I did.) I added what I thought was canola oil to only find out after I poured it in it was peanut oil. I panicked thinking I would have to throw it out and start over. After a quick google search, I found that peanut oil is fine for baking (not just frying) and can be substituted equally for vegetable oil. Phew! I actually somehow forgot to add in my baking powder, too! I didn't realize until it was too late. Oh well, a happy accident. I still liked the way these came out.

After baking I let them cool and hollowed out the center.  (It took great will power to not eat all the crumbs!) I then added about a tablespoon (or two, but who's counting) of really good caramel sauce into the center. You can definitely make your own if you would like, but since I made these last night at 8:30 p.m.  store-bough caramel would have to suffice. I used a caramel sauce from Fran's caramel sauce. If you are lucky enough to come across a jar of this, trust me, it is worth the extra dough.

I topped off these cupcakes with my favorite vanilla buttercream from Annie's Eats. It is a simple buttercream, but it is perfectly light and fluffy. It is not coyingly sweet. You know the frosting kind. That cavity sweet frosting that gets you right in the back of your teeth. This is whipped up for a good 4 minutes in the mixer which creates an airy light texture. It has the perfect blend of butter to confectioner sugar keeping it at the perfect balance of sweet and rich. I didn't have heavy cream, so I used fat free milk. Not as rich, but still provided that liquid I needed to thin it out.

So there you have it. Pot o' gold cupcakes. Perfect for any St. Patty's day celebration..or any day of the week!

Pot O' Gold Cupcakes

Chocolate cupcake recipe (slightly adapted from Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Cake)

* 2 cups sugar
* 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
* 3/4 cup cocoa powder
* 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (not afraid to admit my mistake here..I forgot to put this in!)
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanill extract
* 1/2 cup peanut oil (this is what I had on hand, feel free to use vegetable oil)
*1 cup milk, skim
* 1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners.
2. In your mixing bowl, sift together your dry ingredients.
3. Add in your eggs, vanilla, oil and milk and beat for two minutes.
4. Stir in the boiling water (batter will be very thin!).
5. Pour into your prepared muffins filling each cup about 2/3 full.
6. Bake about 16-18 minutes. (I set my timer for 15 minutes and kept a close eye on them. I also gave them a rotation at this time too. One side was cooking a little faster than the others. Every oven is a little different, so keep an eye on yours and take them out when the middles are set).

Vanilla Buttercream Recipe
slightly adapted from Annie's Eats (originally from Cook's Illustrated)

2 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. milk or heavy cream

1. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.  Add in confectioners's sugar and salt, beat at medium-low speed for 45 seconds, until most of the sugar is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl at this point, then beat for another 15 seconds.  Scrape down the bowl again, and add in your vanilla and milk (or cream). Beat at medium speed for 15 seconds until incorprated.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat the mixture for 4 minutes until it is light and fluffy (you may need to stop during this time and give the bowl a good scrape).