Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

applecupcakes

You guys may remember how rough of a year 2013 was. Every time something would happen, I’d think…well, it really can’t get worse. Well, I feel like God really tested us last year, because oh man…it just kept getting worse. It was just a rotten year all around. :-\

2014 is proving to be so much better. I got some good news…like REALLY GOOD NEWS. You may have noticed lately that I’ve been a bit quiet on here and on social media….

…well….

I got a new job!

I don’t want to give specifics, but let’s just say I’m in the same field and I’m pretty darn happy here. While the job is still very new to me, I feel like I can honestly look forward to work every day. I have to admit, I had some new job jitters. What if I wasn’t smart enough for it? What if I didn’t make friends?

I had my doubts, because I held my previous job for almost 5 years. It’s what I knew, and this new job is a pretty big change for me. However, so far I’m loving it. LOVING it. Everyone I’ve met at my new job is very friendly, and it’s just a different, yet refreshing dynamic. It reminds me a lot of my first job out of college, which I loved (I had to resign from my first job, since I moved to a new city).

I’ve been in such a cheerful mood because of this change (amongst other things), and you guys probably know that “Happy” song by Pharrell? Well, yeah…that’s my theme song right now. In fact, I caught myself humming this in Target the other day…haha!

Also, another reason to be happy is that my birthday is coming up. I’m pretty sure I’ll be eating cake all weekend, so it’s fitting to share this recipe for cupcakes. :-) I made these for the Opal Apple dessert party, and they were SO good! I love mini cupcakes, because I can enjoy one and feel like I had dessert, or like some others who had these, enjoy 5 or 6 of these without too many judge-y stares. :-P

This made about 40 mini cupcakes for me, so it’s more than enough to go around for a party. :-)

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: cupcake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction & frosting is an original 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 Opal Apples, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 batch spiced cream cheese frosting
  • Optional: 1 batch caramel sauce (for drizzle)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a mini cupcake pan by lining each cup with a mini cupcake liner and set the pan aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large-sized bowl and set aside. Whisk the melted butter and sugars together in a medium-sized bowl, until well-combined. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time (beating for 30 seconds with each addition), until smooth. Add the whole milk and vanilla extract to the batter, whisking until everything is combined.
  3. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring the batter gently until just combined. Fold in the finely chopped apples.
  4. Fill the mini cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full with cupcake batter (using either a small scoop or a piping bag, to make it easier). Bake the cupcakes for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove the mini cupcakes from the oven and allow them to completely cool before frosting.
  5. Once cooled, generously swirl on the frosting, and if you’d like, drizzle the cupcakes with a simple caramel sauce. If you’re not serving these immediately, refrigerate them until you’re ready to serve. Enjoy!

Disclosure: I’m a 2014 brand ambassador for Opal Apple. I was compensated in the form of free products, a party kit with all printed materials necessary for the party, and a gift card. All opinions are 100% my own.

Mini Apple Tartlets

applepietarts

Well, yesterday was Mardi Gras. Usually, I’m super jazzed about it, but I’ve had a lot going on in my personal life, and Mardi Gras sort of just snuck up on me. I’m glad I didn’t get my hopes up too much about parading though…we had SLEET on Mardi Gras Day. SLEET…ICE…they closed roads…in Louisiana…in March! Let that sink in for a little bit. This winter has been a weird one..

Now that Mardi Gras season is over, and I’m mourning over an empty king cake box, I have to face what I’m giving up during the lenten season: candy and soda. I was really considering all refined  & artificial sugar, but I really want it to be something I know I can handle. Soda is hard enough (diet coke addict here!), but candy during Easter season? Ugh…I’ll buy a box of Cadbury eggs for the week after Easter. :-P Hopefully, this will kick my sweet tooth to the side for a while…I really need to stop craving Reese’s cups darnit!

Speaking of the sweet tooth, I’m still thinking about these mini tartlets that I made for my Opal Apple dessert party. They were so simple to make, and they made quite a bit for a party! I think this would be a perfect dessert to throw together at the last minute, and if you have some caramel sauce or ice cream lying around, they would be perfection on these!

Mini Apple Tartlets
Source: Opal Apples

Ingredients:

  • 2 Opal apples, peeled, cored & chopped
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. candied ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2 packages (containing 15 each) mini phyllo dough cups

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, add all ingredients, except for the phyllo dough cups. Heat the apple mixture to a simmer over medium heat and cover. Cook the mixture for about 5 minutes and remove the mixture from the heat.
  3. Once slightly cooled, fill each phyllo cup with a tsp. of the apple filling. Place the cups on the prepared baking sheet, and bake them for 8-10 minutes. They’re best served warm, but also taste great at room temperature!

Disclosure: I’m a 2014 brand ambassador for Opal Apple. I was compensated in the form of free products, a party kit with all printed materials necessary for the party, and a gift card. All opinions are 100% my own.

Opal Apple Dessert Party

Opal Apple Party 2014

I absolutely love making desserts. One of the biggest reasons I miss the holiday season is because of the holiday baking. Our mixers (yeah, I’m crazy…I said mixers) and oven were going like crazy, and after the holidays (and a bit of weight gain), I decided to just stop baking. It’s been a couple of months, but I’m confident enough in my will power to give baking another shot. Since I’m a brand ambassador for Opal Apple this year, I was asked to throw a party featuring these awesome apples. So, I decided to throw a dessert party and get to baking!

Opal Apple Party 2014

Opal Apples were discovered in 1999 in Europe, but were brought to the states in 2010 and are sold exclusively through FirstFruits Marketing of Washington. They’re a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Topaz apple.

They are very crunchy in texture, and are super sweet with a slight tang. They also don’t brown as quickly as other apples, so when you’re serving slices at a party, there’s no need to dunk the slices in citrus juice. They’ve quickly become my favorite apples, and they’re available in stores from December through April.

Opal Apple also has their “Youth Make A Difference Initiative“, which awards funding to organizations that help the community, where the youth in the community take on a leadership role within the organization. If you know any organization in your community that follows the criteria listed on Opal Apple’s site, they’re still eligible to apply for funding until February 28, 2014! More information can be found here.

Opal Apple Party 2014

For the dessert party, I wanted to keep everything mini, so everyone could try one of everything and not feel too guilty about it.

The dessert menu was simple, but so tasty:

  • Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting & Salted Caramel Drizzle (recipe coming in another post)
  • Mini Apple Tartlets in Phyllo Dough Cups (recipe coming in another post)
  • Apple Bites, which were simply Opal Apple slices, white cheddar slices and grapes

Opal Apple Party 2014

Since two of the recipes from the party were from Opal Apple, I also placed recipe cards (made by the folks at Opal Apple) in a basket for guests to take home with them. :-)

Opal Apple Party 2014

All of the recipes were a hit, especially the cupcakes! I loved throwing this party together, and everyone had a great time getting together. :-) There were a few leftover desserts, but thankfully my coworkers were happy to take care of that. :-)

Thanks to Opal Apple for the opportunity to be a brand ambassador this year, and for the idea to throw this party! It was fun!

Disclosure: I’m a 2014 brand ambassador for Opal Apple. I was compensated in the form of free products, a party kit with all printed materials necessary for the party, and a gift card to throw this party. All opinions are 100% my own.

Top 10 Recipes of 2013

Tomorrow is the start of 2014. :-) It’s completely crazy to me that we’re already here, but it seems like time flying is becoming the norm in my life. It’s been a rough year for us, so I’m hoping that 2014 brings better news. At least it’s a fresh, new start.

I want to thank y’all for reading this blog. Next month will be my 6 year blogiversary, and I’m thankful for each and every one of you who take the time out of your day to read this blog. Your comments, tweets, etc. make my day, and I’m excited to share more with you guys in 2014.

Here’s the list of the top 10 most popular recipe posts of 2013:

10. Peanut Butter Cup Cookies 

These cookies are a favorite of mine. I’m a sucker for Reese’s, and these cookies are just SO good!

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

9. Fireworks Cupcakes

I started challenging myself to use cake decorating tips more often this year, and these were just so fun. You could make these for the 4th of July or hey, if you’re looking for something to make tomorrow, these would be perfect for the New Year, as well!

fireworks_final_text

8. 20 Minute (Pressure Cooker) Beef Stew

One of my favorite new appliances this year has been our pressure cooker. Meats that you cook low and slow are no big deal in this cooker. It’s so much quicker than a crock-pot or conventional cooking in the oven!

20 Minute Beef Stew

7. Banana Biscoff Protein Shake

I make this protein shake all the time. It seriously tastes like a milkshake, and is such a treat before/after a work-out!

Banana Biscoff Protein Shake

6. Pumpkin Bread Pudding

I think I’m going to have to make this before the fall again. Oh man…this was insanely good!

pumpkinbreadpudding

5. Whipped Chocolate Pudding Frosting

Pudding in frosting? Oh yeah…this fluffs up beautifully, and while it doesn’t taste like conventional buttercream, it certainly has has won me over for a new type of frosting to make!

Whipped Pudding Frosting

4. Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes

Boozy cupcakes….there’s nothing wrong with boozy cupcakes. :-)

Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes

3. Melting Chocolate Cake (for two)

Since we just came back from our cruise, I’m itching to make these again. I miss that warm chocolate melting cake so much! This tastes JUST like the cake from the cruise ship!

Melting Chocolate Cake for Two

2. Red Velvet Cookies

I was pleasantly surprised by these cookies. They baked up perfectly, and really tasted just like red velvet!

Red Velvet Cookies

1. Holiday Spritz Cookies

This was a quick favorite of y’all’s! The most popular recipe of 2013, and it was just posted in November! I love that you don’t need a cookie press for this…a large piping bag and a large star tip — that’s it! These are just so tasty. I can’t keep them in my kitchen whenever I make them, or I’ll just snack on them like crazy. :-)

bakingbook2

In case you want to see what was popular in past years, check out my top recipe posts:

Top 10 Recipes of 2012

Top 10 Recipes of 2011

Top 10 Recipes of 2010

Thanks again for a wonderful year, and I hope you enjoy the start of the new year surrounding by the ones you love! :-)

Red Velvet Peppermint Bark

redvelvetcakebatterbark

One of the things I can’t get enough of lately is peppermint + chocolate. I’m obsessed with Chick Fil-A’s peppermint chocolate chip shake, and I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten half a bag of Candy Cane kisses. It’s just insane how much I love it, because usually I could give or take peppermint bark. Eggnog is usually my thing. I’m really not sure what’s gotten into me, but I’m not complaining!

I originally saw the idea for cake batter bark on How Sweet It Is. I’ve been wanting to do it with red velvet, and thought that it would be so festive to use red velvet cake mix in peppermint bark. The results were great! One of my coworkers tasted it, and then grabbed 4 pieces haha! It’s also very simple to make, and it makes a good bit!

Red Velvet Peppermint Bark

I packaged these in simple printed cello bags, and added Christmas sprinkles with the crushed candy canes for a more Christmas-y touch. Y’all know I’m all about sprinkles!

Red Velvet Peppermint Bark
Source: inspired by How Sweet It Is

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tsp. canola oil (divided)
  • 3 1/2 tbsp. red velvet dry cake mix
  • 10 mini candy canes, crushed
  • Christmas sprinkles
  • red powdered food coloring

Directions:

  1. Melt the 1/2 lb. of dark/semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, along with 1/2 tsp. of the canola oil, until melted. You’ll want to do this in 30 second increments at 50% power, being sure to stir well between each microwave cycle. Pour and spread the chocolate, using a spatula, on top of a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Allow it to set for 15 minutes.
  2. Melt the 1/2 lb. of white chocolate with the remaining 1/2 tsp. of canola oil, until melted. Microwave this in 30 second increments as well, at 50% power, being sure to stir well between each microwave cycle. Mix in the dry cake mix, as well as the powdered food coloring (a little at a time until desired color is achieved), until everything is well combined. Pour this over the set dark chocolate and spread the red velvet white chocolate carefully, making sure to cover the dark chocolate. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes and Christmas sprinkles liberally over the red velvet white chocolate.
  3. Allow the bark to cool completely before breaking into pieces and serving.

Cranberry Crumb Bars with Mulling Spices

cranberrycrumbbars

I’ve been waiting for months for fresh cranberries to be back in stores. As a few of you may remember, I used to contribute on Weddingbee (under the moniker, Mrs. Ballet Flat). Every year around this time, some of the bloggers exchange ornaments, making one of the giftee’s moniker. So, I have quite a few ballet flat ornaments on my tree that I truly cherish. :-) Last year, along with the ornament, I also got a few of these bars in the mail (an awesome surprise!). I was addicted….absolutely addicted.

After the holiday craziness, I went to the grocery stores to buy fresh cranberries to make these bars, since my exchange friend mentioned they were from Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook (which I had recently purchased). Well, all of the stores near me were sold out. Gone. No more cranberries. I promised myself that once they were back in the produce section, I was going to immediately make these bars. They’re just as good as I remembered…a subtle spiced crumb layer and cranberry filling with a hint of orange in it. It’s marvelous (as if I expected anything different from Deb of The Smitten Kitchen).

I brought these to my coworkers, thinking that cranberries are an iffy ingredient for some people…they probably wouldn’t go that fast. Um…these bars left faster than when I bring cupcakes to work! They were an absolute winner! If you’re looking for a festive holiday dessert that is a little different than the norm, give these a try. The recipe comes together fairly quickly, and any cranberry lover will probably go crazy over these. :-)

Cranberry Crumb Bars with Mulling Spices
Source: Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Ingredients:

For the crumb base:

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled (saving the wrappers to grease the pan)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 large egg

For the filling:

  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. orange juice
  • 3 cups (12-ounce bag) fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 9×13 inch baking pan by lining it with parchment paper and rubbing the butter remnants left on the inside of the butter wrappers on top of the parchment paper.
  2. In a large, wide bowl, add the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and spices. Whisk the mixture well. Using a pastry blender or fork, work the chilled butter and egg into the dry flour mixture until the texture resembles a coarse meal. Pat half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of your prepared baking pan (note: the layer will be thin).
  3. In a food processor or blender, add the filling ingredients and pulse the mixture until the cranberries are coarsely chopped (but not pureed). Using a spatula or spoon, evenly spread the filling over the pressed crumb base. After the filling is evenly added, sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture evenly over the berry mixture.
  4. Bake the bars for 30-35 minutes, or until just lightly brown on top. Allow the bars to cool completely before serving, cutting the bars into 36 small squares.

 

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

pumpkinbreadpudding

Could the weather be more perfect lately? I can’t get enough of it. My day job is a standard desk job, and usually I’ll stay inside as much as possible, since it’s so gross and humid outside. However, lately…I take my breaks outdoors and walk or just relax on a bench and take in this perfect weather. It reminds me a lot of when I went to San Diego for a work conference…it was in the middle of July, yet, it felt like fall out there. Amazing!

I made this bread pudding since I took a bread baking class that I won in a local trivia contest on Twitter. After taking the class, I had 3 full baguettes at our house. When life gives you stale bread, you make bread pudding, right? And when life gives you stale bread in the fall, you make PUMPKIN bread pudding. Completely logical.

The most tedious part was cubing all of the bread, but after that, it was simple to throw together. Since I was bringing this to coworkers, I steered clear of the normal rum sauces (even though it’s cooked, I just don’t chance it) and made a pumpkin spice sauce to give the dessert an even bigger boost. This was SO good, and seeing that a double batch of this left the office well before lunch-time hit, I think quite a few people agreed with me. :-)

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Pumpkin Spice Sauce
Source: bread pudding adapted from Smitten Kitchen, sauce adapted from Land O’ Lakes

Ingredients:

For the bread pudding:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 5 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old baguette or crusty bread
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter

For the sauce:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, milk, sugar, eggs, egg yolk, salt and pumpkin pie spice until well-combined.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. While preheating the oven, add the butter to the bottom of an 8″ square baking dish, and place it in the oven, allowing it to melt.
  3. When the butter has melted, take the dish out of the oven, and carefully toss (using tongs, since of course, the dish & butter will be very hot) the bread cubes in the butter, coating all of the bread well. Spread the bread cubes evenly over the baking dish. Give your bread pudding mixture one last stir, and then pour the mixture evenly over the bread cubes, ensuring that all of the bread pieces are evenly coated. Bake the bread pudding until the custard is set, about 25-30 minutes.
  4. To make the sauce, add the butter, sugar, brown sugar, cream and pumpkin pie spice to a saucepan. Cook the sauce over medium heat for 5-8 minutes, making sure to stir ever so often. The mixture should thicken a bit and come to a full boil. Once that happens, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Allow the sauce to cool until warm.
  5. To serve, pour warm sauce over warm bread pudding. It’s also great served with fresh whipped cream or ice cream. You can store leftover bread pudding and sauce in the fridge, and microwave until both are warm again.

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

I have a random problem. I am a gift card hoarder. I realized when I was switching purses that I have quite a nice stack of gift cards, most of them being from last Christmas. I can spend my own money fairly easily, but for some reason, I want a gift card to end up resulting in a purchase that’s truly a gift. :-) This past weekend, I combined a couple of Macy’s gift cards (from Christmas last year), and purchased myself a big girl food processor. No more making salsa in batches in the small 3-4 cup food processor….no more shredding cheese by hand…this gal is very excited! I think that’s a good gift, no? It’s crazy how excited I am about this new kitchen toy.

I also hoard other random things…usually pretty things, like certain skeins of yarn, fabrics and well, as silly as it sounds, these cupcake liners. I purchased these from Pick Your Plum months ago, and I just thought they were so pretty…I couldn’t just use them on just any cupcake. So, they’ve been sitting in a drawer for months. I decided that I just had to bake with these at some point, and with Halloween around the corner, the orange polka dot ones would be perfect.

I got the idea to make double chocolate cupcakes from a local shopping expo yesterday. A bakery was giving out samples of chocolate-chocolate chip cake, and I thought that would be an excellent cupcake for Halloween. Dark chocolate in orange liners….festive, right? These cupcakes are delightful…I added chocolate chips in there to give it a deeper chocolate flavor, and then topped them with a classic chocolate buttercream that I featured on here before, which is always a winner. :-)

Double Chocolate Cupcakes
Source: cupcakes slightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, frosting from Savory Sweet Life

**makes 24 cupcakes**

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks)  unsalted butter
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the buttercream:

Directions:

  1. Prehead the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cupcake pans with cupcake liners and set aside for later.
  2. In a medium microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate together, microwaving in 30 second increments (stirring after each time). In another medium sized bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until well-combined. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the eggs, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla together until smooth. With the mixer on low, add in half of the flour/cocoa mixture, then half of the buttermilk. Repeat again until everything is added. Add in the mini chocolate chips, and mix until just combined (being mindful not to overmix).
  4. Add batter to the cupcake liners (1/2-2/3 of the way full). Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting according to the directions (linked above) as the cupcakes are cooling. Frost the cupcakes and enjoy!

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

pumpkinsnickerdoodle

Hey, did you guys know that it’s 68 days til Christmas? Yeah…I know, right? I found myself in a bit of a panic when I realized that I really haven’t started shopping yet, and that’s SO not like me. I usually have a closet full of gifts to wrap before Halloween even gets here. It’s just how I am. I’m the type of person who prefers to have a tree full of presents when the tree is ready to go up. I’m sure that makes me weird or something, considering most of my family is the exact opposite. I don’t know how my mom does it, but on Christmas Eve, she usually has a gift-wrapping fest and gets it all done. Me? I’m wrapping the evening of Thanksgiving. :-)

I tend to really get into the holidays. For me, I go for the “Merry, Not Scary” side of Halloween, thus the reason for the Halloween Pacman inflatable. No headless horseman/creepy skeletal/fiery inflatables here…I usually tend to veer towards pumpkins. I should clarify to say happy pumpkins….and Casper. I also get into the Halloween snacks. Is it just me or are Halloween Oreos for some reason 10x more addictive than regular oreos? Now, since the scientists have said that oreos are as addictive as cocaine. I guess that makes sense…I totally can’t have just 1 serving of oreos lol! Honestly, I probably could seriously sit down and eat half of a bag. :-P

Another cookie that’s pretty addictive are these pumpkin snickerdoodles. I seriously ate 3-4 of these right out of the oven. They’re slightly crunchy on the outside (from the coating) and perfectly chewy on the inside. The flavor is wonderful…even my pumpkin hating husband loved these!

By the way, this weekend I’ll make the quick drive to New Orleans for PMA Fresh Summit! I’ll be tweeting and Instagramming like crazy, so feel free to follow me on Twitter & on Instagram :-).

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Source: Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the coating:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • dash of ground allspice

Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk to combine. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugars, and beat them on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl down with a spatula, and then mix in the pumpkin puree. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until incorporated into the batter. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula again, and then with the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients and mix until just mixed. Cover the bowl and chill the dough for at least an hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare baking sheets by lining them with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. In a small bowl, add sugar and spices for the cookie coating and mix well. Scoop the dough with a cookie scoop and roll it into a ball. Place the ball in the coating mixture, and roll to completely coat the dough. Place on the cookie sheet and repeat with the cookie dough, leaving 2-3 inches space between each cookie dough ball. Gently press the cookies down with your hands to flatten the dough slightly.
  3. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are just set and baked all the way through. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, and then transfer them to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling. Repeat with the rest of the dough, until all of the cookies are done. Enjoy!

 

Peanut Butter Mississippi Mud Brownies

pbmissmudbrownies

It’s finally that time of the year. The weather finally got a clue and cooled down. I was super giddy about it all, until I remembered that my allergies usually hate weather changes. Let’s just say that I raided the grocery store today, and amongst the things in my cart were Mucinex, zinc drops, vitamin C, Benadryl & Reese’s cups. Priorities, people!

One of the great things about the weather cooling down is that I just want to bake up a storm. I naturally purchase more butter, flour, sugar and eggs. I already have a stockpile of chocolate chips & random candies to mix into baked goodies, so I don’t have to go to the store when the urge to bake strikes.  :-) I also really crave comfort foods, like pot roast, gumbo and chili.

Recently, I was asked if I wanted to review a copy of Southern Living’s new book “No Taste Like Home”, which was released yesterday.

cover

As a fan of Southern Living, I couldn’t say no, and with Southern Living being known for the typical Southern, comforting recipes, it was perfect timing with the weather cooling down. This book basically highlights recipes from different regions of the South, including:

  • The Heart of Dixie
  • Cajun Country
  • Big, Bold Texas
  • The Piedmont & the Mountains
  • The Bluegrass, Bourbon & Barbecue Trail
  • The Coastal South

Basically, if you’re from the South, there’s a good chance that you’ll see some familiar hometown recipes. If you’re not from the South, you’ll probably want to start cooking from this book immediately to introduce yourself to some amazing Southern fare.  :-)

When I got the book in my hands, I immediately had to skim through it with my sticky note pad handy to bookmark recipes that caught my eye. Let’s just say that the copy I have is full of sticky notes. So many wonderful recipes, and the photos are just lovely. I typically would have first made a recipe from the “Cajun Country” (Louisiana) chapter, but this recipe, from “The Heart of Dixie” (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi) chapter was just pulling me in. Rich chocolate brownies with peanut butter batter swirled in, topped with melted, gooey marshmallows, peanuts and a decadent chocolate frosting. I mean…c’mon. How could I not?

Do I even have to say that they were beyond delicious? Oh my gosh…insanely good! You will definitely want a glass of milk (or heck, a scoop of ice cream) handy for these, though. They’re definitely indulgent, and while there’s a few steps involved, they are just completely worth it. I promise!

Now, of course I wouldn’t gush about this book without sharing some of the love! The wonderful folks at Southern Living/YC Media are offering a lucky Nifty Foodie reader a copy of this book. To enter the giveaway, just check out the Rafflecopter widget below! [Read more…]