Pumpkin Espresso Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Espresso Cream Cheese Muffins

Just the other day, my husband and I were at Costco, and I was super tempted to purchase these trees for our mantel when the holiday season is here. I’m always a little eager to decorate for the holidays (if it were up to me, I’d have everything up in mid-November), but I held back from purchasing them.

Out here, it still feels summer-ish. We had a quick cool blast of weather this past weekend, which was a sweet relief. I took most of the day to weed the gardens, combat dodge wasp nests (OMG, the wasps this year), add new pine straw and add pretty new annuals for the upcoming seasons. It was nice to be out there, and for once, not really feel the effects of being outside until the next day (yeah, my legs were sore for two days after all of that..). However, once Monday hit, we were back to ridiculously humid days and highs in the mid to upper 80s. I rebelled with pumpkin spice coffee, but no dice. Still humid and gross outside. :-\

Oh, and we also decorated for Halloween. I totally forgot just how many decorations we purchased after Halloween last year haha! Pulling all of the Christmas decorations from the attic is going to be a surprise for sure, because I know we ransacked stores once things got to be 75% off last January.

Even though it’s practically summer outside, I’m still cracking open cans of pumpkin. In fact, one of my husband’s coworkers was sweet enough to bring him pumpkin puree, since they get a lot of what I bake in the kitchen. I sent him to work with a batch of pumpkin snickerdoodles and half of these muffins (I need to bring something for my coworkers, too!)

This is a twist of the popular Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins that are typically seen in a certain coffee shop during the fall, and while the twist is subtle, oh man…it MAKES these muffins! Instead of filling with a plain, sweetened cream cheese, I decided to add in some espresso powder (since I’m ALL about the pumpkin spice coffee lately) with a little bit of cinnamon as well. The dozen muffins that I brought to work didn’t even make it to the break room table! (If my coworkers see me with an aluminum tin, they know some baked goodness is hiding underneath the foil.) While these muffins do take a few steps more than normal muffins (due to the layering of the batter/cream cheese/batter/streusel topping), it’s definitely worth it.

Pumpkin Espresso Cream Cheese Muffins
Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats, originally from Bakespace


For the filling:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

For the muffins:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

For the streusel topping:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • Optional: roasted pumpkin seeds


  1. To make the filling, mix the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, espresso powder and cinnamon together in a medium-sized bowl, until the ingredients are well-mixed and the mixture is smooth. Place a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter, and transfer the mixture to the plastic wrap. Shape the mixture into a 1 1/2 inch diameter log, and then wrap the cream cheese mixture tightly with the plastic wrap. Then, wrap the plastic wrap with foil, and place the cream cheese mixture in the freezer, for at least 2 hours (making sure the log is at least slightly firm before using for the muffins).
  2. Once the filling is ready, make the muffins. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two muffin pans by lining them with cupcake/muffin liners and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda. Whisk the dry mixture well.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix the wet ingredients on medium-low speed, until well-mixed. Turn the mixer on low speed, and add in the dry ingredients, mixing everything together until just incorporated. Set aside.
  4. To make the topping, add the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small-sized bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients well. Add in the butter cubes, and using a pastry blender or two forks, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. (Keep this mixture in the fridge if you aren’t immediately baking the muffins.)
  5. Assemble the muffins by filling each liner with about 1-2 tbsp. of muffin batter, making sure to just cover the bottom of the muffin liner. Take the cream cheese log out of the freezer, and slice it into 24 equal slices. Place a slice of the espresso cream cheese mixture into each liner, on top of the just placed muffin batter. Divide the rest of the muffin batter among the muffin liners (until about 2/3 of the way full), being sure to completely cover the cream cheese slices. Lastly, sprinkle the streusel mixture (as well as the pumpkin seeds, if you wish) over each of the muffins.
  6. Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, and then transfer the muffins to a wire rack to allow to completely cool. Note: DO NOT consume these muffins until they are completely cool, because the cream cheese will be ridiculously hot on the inside after baking. Enjoy!

Dried Fruit Cream Scones

Cream Scones

I know some things are better done by hand when it comes to cooking and baking, however, I love a good shortcut. The last time I made scones, I made them by hand. It was quite an arm work-out, and they took a good bit of time to make, but they were worth it. Homemade scones almost always are.

A few months back, I gathered up a couple of gift cards and purchased a food processor. We’ve always had a mini food processor, which was great, but I really hated doing things in small batches and well, sometimes the mini food processor couldn’t handle things. This one, however, is a work horse. When I thought about making scones, I was so excited because hey, any excuse to use a new toy, right? These scones came together incredibly fast. In fact, I ended up making 3 batches of these in one afternoon for my husband’s coworkers. SUPER easy. I added coarse sugar on top, because that’s how I’ve had them at a few bakeries, and I love the added crunch. The scones themselves were so tasty. I tried one with dried blueberries, and loved that they were so buttery in flavor and not too sweet. Totally perfect with a cup of coffee..totally. I made them with dried cherries and dried blueberries, but I imagine they would work beautifully with cranberries, too.

If you have a large food processor handy, I highly recommend this recipe. These would be perfect to bring to the office for a morning surprise or even bake them up for a brunch this Easter. :-)

Dried Fruit Cream Scones
Source: The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into chunks and very cold
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit, chopped if the pieces are large
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Optional: Coarse sugar


  1. Move the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.
  2. In a large food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, about 3 times. Add the butter evenly over the top of the mixture and pulse the mixture again until it looks like coarse meal with a few slightly larger pieces of butter, which will take about 12 more pulses. Transfer the butter/flour mixture to a large bowl and stir in the dried fruit. Stir in the heavy cream, until dough begins to form.
  3. Turn the dough and flour bits onto a lightly floured surface, and knead the dough for about 5-10 seconds, until a rough, slightly sticky ball forms. Pat the dough evenly to a 9 inch round and cut the dough into 8 wedges.
  4. Place the edges on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle the tops of the scones with coarse sugar, if using. Bake the scones until the tops are lightly golden brown, about 12-15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the baking process. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack, allowing the scones to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Cinnamon Rolls & A Giveaway!


It’s amazing how quickly one can go through butter for holiday baking, so it’s essential for me to stock up when it goes on sale! Usually $2/lb. is my stock-up price, and when I stock up, I usually buy 10 lbs. at a time. I have to wonder what the cashier thinks of me when I purchase all that butter, and I’ve been asked if I own a bakery once. Nope…I just LOVE to bake!

This recipe for cinnamon rolls goes through some butter, y’all. At first, I thought there was no way all of that butter was going to go in the cinnamon rolls…no way. However….yup…I used over a pound of butter in a batch of cinnamon rolls. 4 sticks alone served as part of the filling! Now, this recipe isn’t just for 8 rolls…I got 48 rolls out of this recipe. It’s the perfect recipe for gift-giving, and it comes from someone who is always cooking for a crowd: The Pioneer Woman.

I’ve heard so many wonderful things about her cinnamon roll recipe, but since it’s such a large recipe, I felt like I needed an occasion to make these. Well, how about the holidays? When this recipe makes 6 pans worth, you could totally get away with gifting this to neighbors, family, friends….whoever you want! I took a tip from The Pioneer Woman, and baked them in cheap disposable baking pans. While they aren’t the prettiest, you can totally dress up the pan by dying the icing, adding sprinkles on top of the rolls & wrapping the pan in holiday cellophane paper! How awesome would it be to give something like this to a loved one?


These cinnamon rolls were divine. Just…divine. This is my first time making cinnamon rolls from scratch, and I firmly believe that the scent of butter/sugar/cinnamon/dough needs to be in a candle. Holy moly…it smelled like king cake in our house! The rolls themselves were a tender, fluffy texture, thanks to Red Star Platinum yeast. I first heard about Red Star Yeast when I attended a King Arthur Flour seminar a couple of years ago. We were given samples at the seminar, and when I baked with the yeast, I was so surprised at how well the dough rose! I ended up purchasing a full 1 lb. block of Red Star Yeast the next week. I’m definitely a fan of their yeast.

[Read more…]

Sticky Buns with Pecans


Y’all. I just can’t stop thinking about fall spices. I can’t get enough of the spicy, warm scents in our house, and even though the weather hasn’t caught up yet, I’m baking up a storm! I’ve already gone through 3 cans of pumpkin, picked up all of my favorite fall spices (since a few were running low from last year) and I’m fairly sure my mixer is enjoying those precious little breaks ever so often.

This recipe is out of the norm for me. You see, when I started baking, I tried to be brave and try recipes involving yeast. I can’t tell you how many times the yeast just wouldn’t rise. I figured out that my error was probably in the temperature of the water, since yeast can easily die if you use too hot of a liquid in your recipe. So now when I bake with yeast, I’m very mindful of the ingredients’ temperature, and sometimes err on the cooler side, just in case.

I saw this recipe on America’s Test Kitchen’s twitter page a couple of weeks ago, and I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. I took a Saturday morning to make these happen, and thankfully, the yeast was my friend. These were delicious and pretty darn easy to make (seriously…it’s just time consuming because of the rising times). My mom happened to be in town to meet me for lunch that afternoon, and she loved these! I had to send one home to Dad, too. :-)

Sticky Buns with Pecans
Source: America’s Test Kitchen


For the dough:

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 4 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus additional for dusting work surface)
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm

For the caramel glaze:

  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. corn syrup (light or dark)
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • pinch of table salt

For the cinnamon-sugar filling:

  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • pinch of table salt
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the pecan topping:

  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. corn syrup (light or dark)
  • pinch of table salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup pecans (toasted in a skillet for 5 minutes on medium heat, then cooled and coursely chopped)


  1. To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment), whisk the eggs until combined and add the buttermilk, whisking to combine as well. Add the sugar, salt and yeast to the mixer and mix well. Add 2 cups of the flour, as well as the melted butter, and mix until the mixture is evenly mixed and moistened. Add another 2 cups of flour to the mixture, and switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook, and knead the dough on low speed for 5 minutes. Once the kneading is done, check the consistency of the dough (dough should feel soft and moist, but not wet and sticky…if you need more flour, add the extra 1/4 cup in). Knead the dough on low speed for 5 more minutes, and you’ll notice that the dough should clear the sides of the bowl but still stick to the bottom of the bowl. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, and knead the dough by hand for about a minute to make sure that the dough is uniform (if the dough is still sticky during hand kneading, knead in more flour 1 tbsp. at a time).
  2. Spray the inside of a large bowl or plastic container with nonstick cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl, and lightly spray the dough with cooking spray as well. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and place it in a warm, draft-free place until the dough has doubled in volume (about 2 – 2 1/2 hours).
  3. While the first rise is happening, make the glaze. Combine all ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan, and cook the mixture over medium heat (whisking occasionally), until the butter is melted and mixture is thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into a nonstick metal 9×13 inch baking dish, and spread the mixture evenly with a rubber spatula to completely cover the surface of the baking dish. Set aside.
  4. Now, make the filling by combining the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a small bowl, and mix everything until well-combined (making sure to break up any sugar lumps). Set the mixture aside. After the dough has finished its first rise, place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. With a gentle hand, shape the dough into a rough rectangle with the long side nearest you. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour, and roll into a 16×12 inch rectangle. At this time, brush the dough with the 1 tbsp. of melted butter, being sure to leave a 1/2 inch border along the top edge of the dough. After you’re done buttering the dough, with the remaining butter on the brush, brush the sides of the baking dish. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, making sure to leave a 3/4 inch border along the top edge. When all of the filling is used, smooth the filling in an even layer with your hand, and gently press the mixture into the dough to adhere. Starting with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the top seam to seal the dough, and roll the cylinder seam-side down. Gently stretch the cylinder to an even diameter and an 18 inch length. If necessary, push the ends in to create an even thickness throughout. With a serrated knife and gentle sawing motion, slice the cylinder in half, then slice each half in half once more to make even sized quarters. Then, slice each quarter evenly into thirds, making 12 buns.
  5. Place the buns in the prepared pan, cut-side down. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap, and set the pan in a warm, draft-free spot, until the buns are puffy and are pressed against each other, about 1 1/2 hours. While the dough is in its final rise, place the oven rack in its lowest position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Once the buns are done rising, place the pan in the oven, and bake the buns until they’re golden brown, and the center of the dough reads 180 degrees on a digital thermometer (about 25-30 minutes). Cool the buns in the pan on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes, and then invert the pan onto a rimmed baking sheet, large serving platter or cutting board. Using a rubber spatula, scrape any leftover glaze from the pan onto the buns. Allow the buns to cool while making the pecan topping.
  7. To make the topping, add the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt to a small saucepan and cook the mixture over medium heat, until it reaches a simmer, stirring occasionally to thoroughly combine. Remove the saucepan from heat, and stir in the vanilla extract and pecans, until the pecans are evenly coated with the sauce. Using a spoon, spoon a heaping tbsp. amount of nuts/sauce over the center of each bun. Continue to cool the buns until they are just warm, another 15-20 minutes. Pull apart the buns or use a serrated knife to separate the sticky buns and serve.

Nutella Banana Swirl Muffins


It’s been a while since I’ve consistently lost weight. I’ve been hovering around the 70 lbs. lost mark for about 3 months now, and while it’s great to know that I can maintain the loss, I really miss that loose clothes feeling. :-) I started a new weight training program last week, and it made me forget just how amazing weights can be. Currently, I’m working out 4 days a week straight, with 3 rest days, which is how the program is outlined. For those four days, my weight dropped a little, but once those rest days hit, the scale had a huge drop.

Five pounds lost!

I was completely shocked to see a number like that, and it’s super motivating to get back on track. My original goal was to hit Onederland (199 lbs.) by Halloween, but I’m not sure at this point if that’s possible. We shall see, though. Last Halloween, I hit 50 lbs. lost. How perfect would 100 lbs. lost be? (even though I’d probably gain 2 back testing out candy for Trick or Treaters).

Since I was getting back on track, I wanted to bake up something that would be a quick, easy snack to share with coworkers. These muffins were perfect. I subbed applesauce for oil (1:1), which substitutes perfectly in quick breads and muffins (you won’t miss it!), and omitted the pecans, since I’m probably the only southern gal who thinks pecans are gross. (Back story: I ate one too many rotten ones off my Memaw’s tree as a kid and now I can’t stand them!) These muffins were fluffy, flavorful and my coworkers didn’t even realize there was applesauce in them! :-) You don’t even need to fork out the mixer for this one….two bowls and a spoon will work just fine. I love recipes like that. :-)

Nutella Banana Swirl Muffins
Source: mildly adapted from The Novice Chef


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 medium over-ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened (no sugar added) applesauce
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • nutella


    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
    2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until everything is well-mixed. Set this aside for later use.
    3. In a large bowl, mix together the bananas, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Mix in the egg, applesauce and vanilla extract, and beat everything for about 2 minutes. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture, and slowly mix everything together until just mixed (don’t over-mix).
    4. Scoop the muffin batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each liner 3/4 of the way full. Add 1 tsp. of nutella to the top of each muffin, and use a toothpick to swirl the nutella into the muffin batter.
    5. Bake the muffins for 15-17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.

French Baguettes

French Baguettes

My husband and I really love bread. Before our weight loss journeys began, we could easily put away a loaf of bread between us, especially if it was warm right out of the oven. Oh man.

We’ve avoided that bread for a while now, until crawfish season was in its prime a few weeks ago. See, my husband likes the bread b/c the crawfish boiled garlic cloves are just perfection on it. While I love the garlic myself, I mainly use the bread to tone down the spices. I’ll hold a piece of bread in my mouth for a minute or so to give my taste buds a break LOL!. I’m such a wuss…

Since we were having friends over for crawfish, I decided to take the opportunity to face my fear of yeast. Yeast and I aren’t the best of pals. I usually add water that’s too warm, and I kill it. Our relationship isn’t healthy…I’m a yeast killer. :(

This time, I was super careful about my water temps….since this bread takes a LONG time to be oven-ready, I wanted to make sure that water temps weren’t the culprit. It worked out beautifully. The bread is VERY crusty (I sprayed water like crazy on it before placing it in the oven), with a nice soft interior. It’s not like the french bread out here (which is usually for po’boys), but it’s a wonderful bread nonetheless. While it takes a while to come together, the actual work time on this couldn’t be quicker. It’s very simple to throw together the dough (especially if you have a stand mixer)…you just need some patience for the rising times.

French Baguettes
Source: King Arthur Flour


For the starter:

  • 1/2 cup cool water
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

For the dough:

  • All of the starter
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. instant yeast


  1. Mix the ingredients for the starter, until everything is well mixed and smooth. Cover the starter with a kitchen towel, and allow the starter to rest at room temperature overnight.
  2. The next day, mix the starter with the remaining dough ingredients, and knead the dough (by hand or using a mixer), until the dough is springy but not completely smooth. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled/greased bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and allow it to rise for 3 hours. After the first hour of rising, gently deflate it and turn the dough over, and then do the same thing again the next hour.
  3. Divide the dough in half, and shape the halves into a rough oval. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes, then fold each oval lengthwise (carefully sealing the edges) and using cupped fingers to gently roll each piece into a 17″ log. Transfer the loaves onto a lightly greased or parchment/silicone lined pan. Cover the loaves once again, and let them rise until they’re puffy, but not yet doubled (this will take 2-2.5 hours).
  4. In the last 15 minutes of rising time, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Gently make three diagonal 1/3″ deep slashes in each loaf of bread, using a sharp knife or razor blade. After the rise is done, mist the loaves liberally with warm water. Bake the baguettes for 22-28 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Turn the oven off, crack the door open a couple of inches and allow the baguettes to completely cool in the oven.

Spiced Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Spiced Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Growing up, I have so many memories of my mother making breakfast for a family of 6. On weekends, we’d all get “Scramble Bambles” (eggs) or “Mickey Mouse pancakes”. I’m sure dealing with picky kids, this wasn’t an easy feat. We’d all whine over someone having a burnt pancake or heaven forbid the pancakes weren’t all the same size! I don’t know how my Mom did it. I really don’t.

In the afternoons, we’d either snack on bananas, smoothies or for a sweet treat, muffins. Blueberry muffins were our absolute favorite, and they wouldn’t last long in our house. I’ve always had a love for muffins since my childhood, and when we had some strawberries in the fridge to use up, I knew these muffins just had to happen. This was one of those times where my husband decided to bake. I sliced up strawberries and he whipped up the batter.

My husband is the type of guy who just loves to change up a recipe, and since you have to be sort of careful with baking, he thought the simple addition of cinnamon and nutmeg would make these awesome. :-) He also added applesauce instead of butter (which is ALWAYS a winner for quick breads and muffins). He was right…the spices added a wonderful little something to these muffins. :-) I will admit that I decided after the first batch baked up, a few mini chocolate chips wouldn’t hurt these muffins either (and I was right lol).  C’mon though…when does it hurt to add chocolate to baked goods? :-)

Spiced Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins
Source: adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped fresh strawberries, divided


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line two muffins tins with 15 cupcake liners (dividing the liners in the pans with 8 in one, 7 in the other).
  2. In the bowl of a mixer, cream the cream cheese and sugar together on medium-high for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Switch the mixer to low and add the applesauce and eggs, one at a time, until each egg is fully incorporated in the batter.
  3. Add the buttermilk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg to the batter. Mix until everything is just combined.
  4. With the mixer still on low, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, mixing the batter until things are just combined. Add 1 cup of the strawberries to the batter and mix for 5-10 seconds to just distribute the berries. Scoop the batter into the prepared pans, and fill them just 3/4 of the way full. With the remaining 1/4 cup berries, add a couple of pieces on top of each muffin, lightly pressing them into the batter.
  5. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden, for about 20 minutes, and rotate the pans 10 minutes into baking.
  6. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Pumpkin Nutella Bread

Pumpkin Nutella Bread

Counting calories has definitely changed things around the house. It was definitely strange to come home to bake this recipe, only to find out that I had almost 3/4 of a container of Nutella in the pantry. In the past, I used to seriously sneak spoonfuls of this stuff before bed, which isn’t really a bad thing, but the guilt of admitting to MyFitnessPal that I went over in calories because of Nutella kept me from grabbing for a spoon.

My love for Nutella started in high school French class. We had some sort of group project, where each group brought some sort of snack that the French enjoy. One of the stand-outs was definitely Nutella, which I had never tried (or even heard of) before. I remember going to work that afternoon, (at a grocery store) and searching our database to see if we sold Nutella. Sure enough, the store did. Whew! From then on, I was hooked!

However, now that I’m counting calories, I feel like I’m neglecting some of my old favorite snacks. :- I try to plan ahead with my meals and snacks. Sometimes, my calorie count is so close, that there’s no room for an impromptu snack. There are times where I think…”Heck, why not? Not like I’m going to gain ALL of this weight back from this snack”, but most of the time, I have to remind myself that while a certain snack is delicious, I don’t want to end up where I was 50 lbs. ago. If you’ve ever dieted, I’m sure you can relate.

Back to the recipe…when I saw this pumpkin bread with a Nutella swirl, I thought it would definitely be a fun twist to the classic pumpkin bread that I always enjoy in the fall season. :-) I ended up making this in mini loaves, as the recipe stated, and brought them to coworkers. I did try a slice (or two), and the Nutella definitely gave this bread a little extra indulgence. It was a fantastic combination, actually, and the swirls on the loaves look so pretty. If you love classic pumpkin bread, you should definitely give this a try.

Pumpkin Nutella Bread
Source: mildly adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod


  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 tbsp. Nutella (2 tablespoons per mini loaf)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare 4 mini loaf pans by spraying with baking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk the dry ingredients well.
  3. In another larger bowl, add the sugar, applesauce, water, pumpkin, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix/whisk the wet ingredients well, until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients, a little at a time, mixing until the ingredients are just combined.
  5. Divide the batter evenly into the mini loaf pans. Then, in each pan, drop 2 tbsp. of nutella, and swirl the nutella into the batter using a butter knife.
  6. To avoid leaks in the oven, place the loaf pans onto a baking sheet and then place the sheet with the pans in the oven. Bake the loaves for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool the loaf pans on a wire racks for about 15 minutes, and then remove the loaves from the pans. Allow the loaves to cool completely before eating.




Mango Bread

Mango Bread

A few weeks ago, I saw that my grocery store was offering a case of mangoes for $3.99! I love mangoes, but I wasn’t exactly sure how I’d eat a whole case before it got overly ripe. So, of course I looked for some recipes to help me use up the case. I thought I remembered seeing a mango bread around the food blog world, so I referred to Google and discovered that Dorie Greenspan actually has one in her book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. I grabbed my copy of the book as quickly as I could and got started on the bread!


No matter how excited you are to make a recipe, always read through the recipe a few times. ALWAYS…or you’ll skim over the cup of granulated sugar that the recipe calls for and you’ll end up with a mango door stopper.

So, the next night, I was determined to make this bread happen. I even put the cup of sugar near the mixing bowls to ensure that I wouldn’t forget it again. Luckily, no ingredients were forgotten this time (with the exception of raisins…those were kept out because I was too lazy to go to the store to get some), and I got to taste this wonderfully spicy mango bread. This bread reminded me a little bit of pumpkin bread, since it has cinnamon and ginger flavors running throughout the bread, yet the mango definitely made it the perfect summer recipe.

Mango Bread
Source: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours


  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower oil
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 cups diced mango (from 1 large peeled and pitted mango)
  • 3/4 cup moist, plump golden raisins (omitted)
  • Grated zest of 1/2 a lime


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the center notch. Also, butter and flour a standard bread loaf pan and place the loaf pan on a cookie sheet. Since the bread will be baking for a long time, the cookie sheet will act as an insulator to prevent the bottom of the bread from burning.
  2. Whisk the eggs and oil together in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Rub the brown sugar between your hands to ensure there are no lumps and add to the dry mixture.
  3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry, and using a sturdy spoon or spatula, mix the dough. Just to note, this dough will seem very thick, so you just have to keep mixing and it will get a little more manageable to work with.
  4. Stir in the mango, raisins and zest until just incorporated and spoon the dough into your loaf pan. Spread the dough evenly.
  5. Bake the bread for 1 1/2 hours. Check the bread ever so often to make sure the top isn’t getting too brown. If it is, just place some foil over the bread for the remaining part of the baking.
  6. When finished baking, allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then take the bread out of the loaf pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.


Oh yeah…I’m sure you are skimming quickly through this post to find the winner of the $100 credit to Joss & Main…

The winner is commenter #33 — Stephanie, who said:

The armless chair in gerber sunflower! I have wanted one for our bedroom forever!!!!!!!!! Love the site

CONGRATS Stephanie! Please email me at niftyfoodie@gmail.com within 48 hours in order to receive your prize!

Sorry, you snooze…you lose. :-( A new winner has been posted.

King Cake

King Cake

As of January 6th, it’s now the Carnival season! Of course, this means king cakes are back in stores. I absolutely love king cake. It’s a sweet, yeast bread with cinnamon and topped with icing and colored sugars (I made mine in black/gold for the Saints game on Saturday.). They make king cakes with so many fillings too, from cream cheese to apple to bavarian cream! This time, I made a plain king cake, since people are pretty particular about what fillings they like with king cake. :)

I’ve made king cake before, and it turned out tasting like bread. It was NOT king cake. This recipe, however, is MUCH better. This recipe actually comes from Haydel’s Bakery, which is where we had our wedding cake and groom’s cake (which was a tiered king cake) made. I found it fairly easy to make too, however, I think their recipe would be much better if you ice and sugar after baking, which is different than what their recipe suggested. When I made it their way (bake with sugar already sprinkled on), most of us just pulled the chunks of sugar off of the king cake while eating it.

King Cake
Source: adapted from WWLTV via Haydel’s Bakery


  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup all purpose shortening
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 lg. eggs
  • 1 cup milk (room temperature)
  • 2 sm. packs active dry yeast
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp butter extract
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar

For the icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. water

For the colored sugars:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar for each color that you want to make
  • assorted food coloring


  1. In a mixer at first speed combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar, salt, and shortening until well creamed. Add eggs and continue to cream.
  2. Dissolve the yeast in the milk and add the flavors. Once dissolved add to creamed mixture and continue to mix.
  3. Add flour a cup at a time and mix until dough tightens.
  4. Remove from mixer and knead into a ball. At this point sprinkle some flour on top and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest for 1½ hours.
  5. While the dough is resting mix your colored sugars and icing. Mix the 1/2 cup of sugar with a few drops of food coloring until the color you reach is desired.
  6. For the icing, whisk the confectioners sugar with the water and vanilla.
  7. When dough has rested roll out into an oblong piece. Brush on canola oil covering the entire piece. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar liberally over the whole piece.
  8. Once the dough is covered with the cinnamon sugar and oil, fold it in half lengthwise. Cut into 3 strips and braid the dough. Gently roll the dough by starting at one end and working all the way down to the other end. This will make the dough a nice long piece that can then be shaped into a circle. Once shaped place on a baking pan covered with piece of parchment.
  9. Allow the dough to rest again until it doubles in size. Bake at 370 degrees F for 12-15 minutes until dough is golden brown.
  10. Let the cake cool and spread the icing on top. Then, sprinkle with your colored sugars. Enjoy!