Friday, December 18, 2009

Auf Wiedersehen!

I know it's been awhile, but I am here to share it's going to be a while longer! I am off to spend my holidays in Germany and the Czech Republic! It's a must needed - long dreamed about - trip of my life! I can't wait to share all the stories with you. I am so backed up with recipes. We have had so much going on and I have neglected my blogging. But have no fear, the new year is bring many exciting things your way! Stay tuned for LOTS of new and fun recipes AND some exciting aren't you glad I left you on that note! ;o)


Friday, December 11, 2009

Cupcake Snow Globes....and some sad news

I was so excited to makes these cupcakes! I got the idea from my Hello, Cupcake! Cookbook. I had been wanting to make another cupcake from the book and decided that my upcoming holiday party gave me the perfect excuse!

These cupcakes did take A LOT of patience. I had to adjust several of the ingredients (just because I was on a time crunch and didn't have time to go to a specialty candy store - my adjustments are listed below), I think that my substitutions worked great! I can't say whether or not they tasted good (I was too afraid to eat one because they were so pretty and took so much time!), but they were well received! I can't imagine they didn't taste good!

On a side note, Heggy my beloved pup, has to be put down in the morning. She has been so sick for so long and she recently took a turn for the worse. It hasn't been an easy road for the hubs and myself, and we honestly don't know how we are going to get through it tomorrow. I have cried more over the past couple of months (especially the last couple of days) than I think I have in my entire life. I just look into her eyes and see a dog that wasn't even given a chance to have the life she deserved. She is only 1 1/2, but has given the hubs and I a joy not even describable in words. Heggy changed our lives, for the better. Her unconditional love with never be forgotten. She was definitely one of a kind, and anyone who got the pleasure of meeting her knows what I am talking about. I will miss her "kisses", her "scratching - pick me up", her determination to find a way onto the couch, her sitting at the door waiting for mommy to come home (and not even letting me put my stuff down when I walk in the door), her love for her sweaters, her "hold me like a baby", her "oh yes scratch my belly", her sleep smell, her nickname "Hegster", and most of all her snuggling ...insisting on always being under the blanket with an arm around her belly. Heggy I will love you all my life and I hope your kisses will greet me in Heaven when it's my time. In honor of Heggy, the hubs and I have decided to make a commitment to run the Music City Half Marathon next spring. We are going to do it for her, and I will be wearing a chain around my next with her "Heggy" charm attached. I love you Heggy.

Snow Globe Cupcakes
(adapted from Hello, Cupcake!)
**I made 20 cupcakes, but feel free to make more or less. The original recipe called to make only 6, but I was going to a party and knew I would have enough stuff to make more.**
20 cupcakes baked in silver foil cupcake liners (I just used a boxed yellow cake mix.)
2 cans of vanilla frosting
3/4 cup of coarse white decorating sugar
snowflake decors (or white stars like I used)
red and green non pareils (or color sugar like I used)
20 chocolate-covered graham crackers (Keebler)
Tint 3/4 cup of the vanilla frosting green, using the food coloring, and spoon it into a ziplock bag. Spoon several tablespoons of plain vanilla frosting into another ziplock bag. Press out the excess air in the bags of frosting and seal.
Spoon the coarse white decorating sugar in a small shallow bowl. Spread remaining frosting on the top of the cupcakes. Roll the edges of each frosted cupcake in the sugar. Sprinkle the tops with some snowflake decors and the red and green non pareils.
To make the Tree:
small bag of tootsie rolls
small yellow stars
Gently warm tootsie rolls in maybe 5 seconds per piece. Roll (I just used my fingers to flatten out the tootsie roll) the tootsie roll out flat. Using a sharp knife cut out pieces for the trunk of the tree. You will need 10 trunks total. Gently press one trunk into the bottom of 10 of the cupcakes. To make the tree, use the green frosting bag (cut a small slit in the corner of the bag) and pipe the frosting starting in the center of the cupcake (the top of the tree) and moving downward for the branches. Continue piping this way moving closer to the trunk and making a tree shape. Top each tree with a yellow star.
To make the Snowman:
white spice drops
orange spice drops
tootsie rolls
red round sprinkles
Cut each white spice drop in half crosswise. Roll out the bottom half to make the disk slightly larger in diameter than the top half. For the body of each snowman, press the flattened disk at the bottom edge of the cupcake, cut side down. Place the top half of the spice drop , cut side down, above the bottom disk to make the head. Cut the orange spice drop into small triangles to make the noses. Attach each nose to the head with a small dot of vanilla frosting.
Gently warm tootsie rolls in microwave (again maybe 5 seconds per piece). Roll (I just used my fingers to flatten out the tootsie roll) the tootsie roll out flat. Using a sharp knife cut out square pieces to make the top part of the hat. Roll thin slices into the bottom portion of the hat. (make 10 of each so you have a total of 10 hats.) Carefully place bottom part of hat at an angle on the head of the snowman. Place square part of the hat onto of the bottom part of the hat.
Pipe a green scarf across the neck. Add two dots of vanilla frosting down the middle of the bottom of the snowman and attach the red sprinkles for the buttons. Add snowflake decors and red and green non pareils.
To Assemble Cupcakes:
For each cupcake, arrange 1 chocolate covered graham cracker (longways so the cupcake has more space to rest) on a serving platter. Using your small baggie of vanilla frosting, pipe a dollop of frosting onto each graham cracker. Carefully place the cupcake on its side onto the graham cracker, with decorations upright.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gingerbread White Chocolate Blondies

I love my Martha Stewart Cookie Cookbook! (My good friend Kristen gave it to me for my birthday present ever! PS - she does GREAT photography work!) When I got the cookbook, I immediately bookmarked several recipes that I knew I wanted to make first. Gingerbread White Chocolate Blondies happened to be one of those recipes, but it didn't really make sense to make them in June! (that is when my birthday falls) So when the holidays started creeping up on us, I decided I had better find a reason to make these delicious looking blondies!

Sure enough I had the perfect reason...I was invited to a special Christmas party over the weekend and brought these blondies (along with another awesome treat I am going to post soon). They were a perfect treat for a Holiday party. I haven't made a Martha Stewart recipe I didn't like and these blondies were again a HUGE Martha success! God Bless Martha Stewart!! ;o)
These blondies had such a great flavor. The white chocolate paired so well with the gingerbread. I couldn't believe how moist these blondies were. And they also seemed to taste better as a couple days passed. If you have a Holiday party to go to this season, I highly suggest making these! They were easy to make and extremely delicious! (I pretty much had to give them all away...including sending a bunch with the hubs to school, so I didn't eat them all myself...I probably would have!) Oh and if you do make these, I found that a little zap in the microwave for a couple seconds (just enough to warm them up) made them even more delicious!

Gingerbread White Chocolate Blondies
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
10 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a 17-by-12-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment cut to fit, and coat parchment. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

Beat butter and brown and granulated sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs and yolk, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Stir in white chocolate.

Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake until edges are golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 2-inch squares or desired shape. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Latte

I knew I wanted to make a special Thanksgiving Day breakfast since we decided not to do anything fancy this year for dinner. I came across a recipe for a Pumpkin Spice Latte and knew that it would be a perfect complement to the Pumpkin Spice Scones I made recently. My family loves pumpkin flavors just as I do, so I thought this would be a great way to start our day!

The recipe was so simple and so comforting! I am not a big coffee drinker, but if it tastes like pumpkin, I'm game! I really couldn't believe how good this was. If you haven't had a chance to try out the Pumpkin Spice Scones, now you have even more of a reason to!!

Pumpkin Spice Latte
**I tripled the recipe because I knew I wanted more than one cup. The recipe for one cup is listed below.**
1 cup strong coffee
2/3 cup (5-ounce can) evaporated fat free milk
1/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 to 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (the original recipe calls for 1/8 teaspoon of either, but I wanted a stronger flavor so I added a bit more and used both.)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon

Optional toppings:
whipped cream
sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice or freshly ground cinnamon

Combine coffee, evaporated milk, pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and freshly ground cinnamon over medium-heat in a saucepan. Heat until very hot stirring occasionally.
Carefully pour into mugs. Top as desired.
Before you run off to make your morning latte :o) I wanted to share with you that my Thanksgiving Day dinner at Cracker Barrel was FANTASTIC! My in-laws were even shocked at how tasty it was! We did have to wait about 45 minutes to be seated, but we didn't think that was too bad. The food was so delicious and the portions were huge!! We got turkey, ham, dressing, sweet potato casserole, one side of your choice, cranberry salad, biscuits, a drink and a piece of pie all for $8.99!!! So if you are every looking for an alternative or just don't want to go through the hassle of making that big meal, check out Cracker Barrel!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Ideas

I have neglected my blog :o(

I have been so sick and I haven't felt like cooking or even looking at food :o(

I am still pretty miserable. I have this awful dry, non-productive cough that just won't go away (and especially won't let me sleep at night). It sucks!

That being said, I have no recipes to share with you, however, I thought I would share with you some ideas that I used last year!

Last year I had the pleasure of hosting Thanksgiving at my house for the first time. It was the first time I had cooked a meal like that, and I loved it! We had so much food and everything went so smoothly! Check out my Thanksgiving Tablescape idea here. The hubs family all came down for the holiday so we had a good amount of people, but not a lot of space. Needless-to-say it wasn't very fancy, but it turned out super cute and everyone loved it!

I made Rachel Ray's Apple Cider Turkey from her Thanksgiving issue of her magazine last year, but I couldn't find the recipe on her website to share with you. It was delious! The gravy was out of this world good! If you have that magazine laying around at home you should definitely consider trying out that recipe!

I had several desserts, one of them being this Carmel Apple Layer Cake (A Rachel Ray Recipe, it was a Racheal kind of holiday last year!). It was very delicious!

I also made another holiday favorite (a recipe from a dear friend of mine) Pumpkin Dump Cake. If you want a recipe for this holiday season that will WOW a crowd...this is it my friends! This is one of my Sister-in-laws favorites, so I have to make it every holiday!
I also wanted to share with you some ideas for that leftover ham or turkey you may have.
--For leftover turkey try out this recipe for Creamed Turkey over Biscuits.
--For leftover ham try out this recipe for Broccoli, Ham, Mac and Cheese Soup (oh man was that delicious!)
This year, the hubs and I are staying low key. Our precious Heggy is having her surgery today so she will be recovering and we will be busy babying our baby! ;o) My in laws are coming into town, and we have decided to not have a fancy feast but to instead have our Thanksgiving meal at Cracker Barrel! I am actually quite excited about get Turkey and Dressing with Cranberry Salad, choice of two sides and a piece of pie for a ....drum roll please... $8.99! I couldn't make Thanksgiving dinner for 4 people for that price! Plus it's Cracker Barrel so I know it will be delicious!
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Be sure to give thanks to what you are thankful for. I look forward to sharing some exciting recipes with you soon. I hope my Thanksgiving Ideas/Tips were helpful! Happy Eating!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Scones

These scones seriously changed my life!!! I have always loved scones, but never attempted to make them -- fearful that they may be a challenge I wasn't ready for. I have bookmarked so many recipes telling myself I was going to get to it one of these days...well "one of these days" finally happened when I stumbled across the recipe for Pumpkin Spice Scones!! At that moment I told myself there would be no more putting it off!!

I told you in a recent post that my sister-in-law works for Starbucks, well because of that reason alone, I have gotten to try many scones in my day!!! (My favorite at Starbucks is the Vanilla Bean's small so I don't feel as guilty!!) I love that they aren't so overwhelmingly sweet, but yet satisfy that nagging sweet tooth. I also love how decedent they are. I always feel so dainty eating a I should be at a table set with silver and gorgeous china atop a white linen. Or maybe over in London with a good cup of afternoon I miss London, I need to go back!
Don't they look delicious!?!? Well they are/were!! hehe They didn't last long in my household, that's for sure!! I decided to change the icing from what the original recipe called for. I thought I would go ahead and make the icing pumpkin spice. Some of you might be thinking...wasn't that too much...the answer is NO!!! I think it made these scones 10 million times better!!!

So to sum up--I think these are hands down THE BEST SCONES I HAVE EVER TASTED!!!! So what are you waiting for, go conquer your scone making fears!

What flavors have you tried that you liked? Maybe I need to start making more scones!!!

Pumpkin Spice Scones
(recipe from Pinch My Salt)
1 C. all purpose flour
1 C. cake flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/4 t. ground ginger
6 T. unsalted butter
1/2 C. raisins (optional)
1/3 C. pumpkin puree
1/3 C. heavy cream
6 T. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Get out a baking sheet and line with parchment paper (not required but makes cleanup easy!). Cut the butter into small pieces, put it in a small bowl and put it back in the refrigerator. In a medium bowl, combine both flours, baking powder, salt, and all spices. Whisk together well. Place bowl in freezer (refrigerator is fine if you have no room in freezer).

In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, heavy cream, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk together well. Put this bowl in freezer (or refrigerator) and take the other bowl back out. Get the butter pieces out of the fridge and dump them into the bowl with the flour mixture. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender or rub it in with your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the raisins if you are using them.

Get the liquid mixture out of the freezer and pour into the flour mixture all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is just moistened. The dough will be very crumbly, this is the way it should be. Turn the mixture out onto the counter and push the pile together with your hands. It should stick together fairly well. Knead it just a couple of times until everything is together. Don’t knead it too much or the dough will get too sticky.

Pat the dough out into a rough circle, 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Cut it like a pie into 8 pieces. Place pieces on the baking sheet so that they are not touching. Bake scones for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees. They should be light brown on the bottom, the tops will darken as they cool.
If you want to use the icing from the original recipe click here and follow the directions...I suggest otherwise!! I made a pumpkin spice icing, which I think tasted better!
Pumpkin Spice Icing
(recipe from Liesl)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
2 Tablespoons milk
Combine all ingredients in a small dish. Brush over cooled scones, allowing some icing to drizzle down the sides.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Truffles

I finally am getting the chance to start baking more with pumpkin this season! It's been such a busy couple of months and I have been neglecting my Libby's Pumpkin sitting in my pantry! Pumpkin is my all time favorite flavor, especially when it comes to baking!

I got this recipe off Cake, Batter and Bowl's blog, which is so awesome you definitely need to go check out some of the great recipes she has! I knew I had to make this recipe, and I decided that I would make the truffles for the hubs to take to school! I knew his kids would enjoy least I hoped they would!!! :o)

My attempt at making the Pumpkin Pie Truffles was certainly not a elegant as Kerstin's version, I struggled a great amount with the chocolate. I think partly because I decided to put the truffles into the freezer for a bit while I prepped the chocolate (I did that because they were so soft I was afraid they would fall apart or loose their round shape to easily when dipped in the chocolate). So, when I dipped the cold truffles in the warm chocolate it just changed the temperature to quickly and didn't allow for a nice pretty even coating of chocolate like I was hoping for. But they still tasted amazing!! Yes just like pumpkin pie...ok maybe a little better! So if you have some patience and time on your hands, give these little treats a try! I loved the idea of putting a pecan in the top for the stem of the "pumpkin" cute!!!

Pumpkin Pie Truffles
(recipe from Cake Batter and Bowl)
I doubled the recipe and got 32 truffles, but the original recipe (below) makes 15 truffles.

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips
Several drops of orange gel food coloring
15 small pecan pieces
Mix butter, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice in a small nonstick pan and heat over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup.

Mix cooked pumpkin, brown sugar, flour, and salt in medium bowl until well combined. Chill dough for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Shape chilled dough into 15 1-inch balls. Place on waxed paper on a cookie sheet and chill in the refrigerator while preparing chocolate.

Melt white chocolate chips in a shallow bowl on High 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds; stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Mix orange gel food coloring with the melted chocolate until smooth. Using 2 spoons, dip pumpkin balls into melted chocolate and cover evenly. Place on waxed paper and top each truffle with a pecan piece “stump”. Serve after chocolate sets, about 5 minutes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Starbucks VIA Coffee Chocolate Chip Banana Bundt Cake

...with Starbucks VIA Coffee Glaze!!! (whew that's a mouth full)

Do I have your attention yet!?!?!

I hope so, because this cake was incredible! I saw this recipe pop up and immediately knew I was going to make it for my friend Erin. She has a birthday coming up and I wanted to do something special for her. We always seem to make cakes for each other on our birthday's, but she works the overnight shift on every day but Monday (which means I don't get to see her much), so I thought she might enjoy a little breakfast treat to start off her birthday week! This recipe came from Baking Bites...seems like lately I am getting lots of great tasty treats from there! I didn't stray from the original recipe on Baking Bites, however, I added my own little twist by putting the Starbucks VIA Coffee Glaze on top! I think the glaze really made the cake! So if you plan to make this cake, which you totally should, then I would definitely be sure and add the glaze!

I must say that I was really intrigued by this cake for one reason, my sister-in-law. She works at Starbucks and the last time I saw her (which was about the time VIA was launched) she loaded us down with a crap ton of VIA coffee. The hubs kinda turned his nose at the fact that it was "instant" (yes he is kinda a coffee snob), but then tried it and was pleasantly surprised (but he still doesn't like it as much as the real deal)!! I don't really drink coffee, so unfortunately we have A LOT of VIA around the house!!! I kept thinking this would be great to try out in a recipe, but hadn't had the time to really play around with ideas. So when this recipe showed up in my reader, I got SUPER excited and wanted to make it right away!!!! Thanks to my friend Erin happening to love these flavors and having a birthday right around the corner, I had my excuse!!

This cake was so moist and so full of flavor! I loved how the coffee complimented all the flavors in the cake. It was just enough to tease your taste buds into wanting to run out to Starbucks and order a hot cup of coffee to go along with it! And the glaze on top gave it just enough extra really was delicious!! I don't think Starbucks realizes what they have created!!!

Hmmm what to make next with VIA...any ideas!?!?!?
Starbucks VIA Coffee Chocolate Chip Banana Bundt Cake with Starbucks VIA Coffee Glaze
(recipe adapted from Baking Bites)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 packet Starbucks Via
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 medium bananas, mashed (approx 1 cup)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.
Lightly grease a bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, Via, sugar and brown sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, vegetable oil, buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract until smooth and well-combined. Pour into dry ingredients and stir only until no streaks of flour remain. Add in chocolate chips and stir to evenly distribute. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool in pans on a wire rack.
For the glaze: (this was my addition)
Combine 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 Tablespoons Starbucks VIA Coffee (I used about 1 teaspoon of the VIA and then added enough water to make 2 Tablespoons). Brush glaze over cooled cake. Let some of the glaze drizzle down over the sides.
I wasn't able to get a "good" shot of the inside, but I wanted to make sure you got to see what it did look like cut open...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Maple Coconut Blondies

I saw these Blondies pop up in my google reader and knew right away I wanted to make them! I thought the flavors were perfect for fall. I got this recipe Baking Bites blog (which I totally love!!). I brought these treats into work, as I do with many of my goodies!! haha I just can't leave this stuff laying around the house all the's too tempting for me!!! ;o) These Blondies were really great and so easy to throw together in a pinch! I hope you try them out!

Maple Coconut Blondies

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350F.

Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish.In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and the egg and whisk until smooth. Add in flour and salt and stir just until no streaks of flour remain. Add in coconut and stir to distribute evenly. Pour into prepared baking dish.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until blondies are set and lightly browned.

Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Brownies

I love fall.

I love when the leaves start to change and the chill creeps back into the evening air.

I love bringing my hoodies back out and snuggling under warm blankets.

I love the flavors of fall - - especially PUMPKIN!

I really can't believe I have yet to share a pumpkin recipe with you all. I have been so busy over the past month and haven't been able to put the time into my kitchen that I have been wanting. (My hips are forever grateful!) Sadly, I missed my blogiversary ... I looked back at my first post and really can't believe it's already been a year. I have learned so much. You guys have taught me so much! I am enjoying this journey so much!

Since I started this blog off in a fall month with a fall recipe, I thought it appropriate to blog for my blogiversary something seasonal. I actually made these brownies for work. We had all sorts of Halloween festivites on Friday and so I thought I would bring some treats in to share with my co-workers. (something other than a Twix or Reese's hehe)

My inspiration for these brownies came from wanting something quick and wanting to use ingredients I had on hand. Last year when the Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses came out, I stocked up not knowing if they would be back this year. I put 4 bags in my deep freezer "in case of emergency" lol! Sure enough they have come in handy!

I got to thinking of things I could do with my brownie box mix, and that's when I remembered the Pumpkin Spice Kisses! I had remembered reading things from other bloggers about this combination and thought I would try it out with my store bought brownie mix. These brownies were AMAZING!! No one would have guessed they came from a box! I loved the flavor of the brownies and I am so glad I didn't labor over a "from scratch" recipe! Don't knock the box mix :o) I hope you will try these out, they were a HUGE success!
Pumpkin Spice Brownies
(from the kitchen of Liesl)
1 box of Betty Crocker Hershey's Ultimate Fudge Brownie Mix
2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 bag of Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses, unwrapped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare brownie mix according to the back of the box. Add the pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon to prepared brownie mix. Spray a 9x13 glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread brownie mixture into dish.
In a microwavable safe dish, heat Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses about 30 seconds, stir. Continue heating at 30 second intervals until chocolates are melted. Watch carefully so they do not burn.
Spread melted kisses over top brownie mixture. Using a knife, swirl the melted kisses into the brownie mixture creating a marbled effect.
Bake brownies for about 30 - 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting.
**Here's a little trick:
Line the baking dish with foil first (don't forget to spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray). Pour brownie mixture over foil. When the brownies are done baking (and have cooled completely, you can easily lift the brownies out by pulling up on the foil. This makes it so much easier to cut the brownies!**

Friday, October 23, 2009

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Fluffy Cinnamon Vanilla Frosting

As promised, ANOTHER Martha Stewart recipe! I actually made these a week or so ago and have just now gotten around to telling you about them. I made these for my friend Shaunda. Her birthday was at the beginning of October, but I didn't actually get the chance to bake something for her on her actual birthday because I was out of town.

Of course I turned to my trusty Martha Stewart Cupcake Cookbook for a recipe! I had marked her Snickerdoodle Cupcakes to make in the fall and thought Shaunda's birthday was the prefect opportunity to try it out!

...Maybe not so much...

I must tell all of you that Martha calls for these cupcakes to be frosted with her famous Seven-Minute Frosting. I DID have great intentions of making the frosting, but for whatever reason it just would not come together. I got very frustrated and I finally had to give up on the Seven-Minute Frosting and turn to something else. I was running out of patience and ingredients! lol So I instead decided on her Fluffy Vanilla Frosting, but made a couple changes to it so that it would complement the Snickerdoodle Cupcakes. All in all, I think the cupcakes turned out great, however, I really was hoping to have success with the Seven-Minute Frosting. I think the cupcakes would have looked a lot prettier and probably not been as sweet (don't get me wrong they were delicious, just probably would have been better with the other frosting). Until next time Seven-Minute Frosting ... get ready cause I AM gonna master you! ;o)

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Fluffy Cinnamon Vanilla Frosting
(recipe from Martha Stewart Cupcakes, also found here)
For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

For the frosting: (below are with my changes, check here for the original version)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon

With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium-high. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy.

Add vanilla and cinnamon, and beat until frosting is smooth. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.
**I also dusted the tops of my cupcakes with addition cinnamon (NOT CINNAMON SUGAR-that would make it too sweet).**

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Applesauce Spice Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

A co-worker of mine had a birthday coming up and I had already planned to make her something special...I just didn't know what. Part of me wanted to make a cake, but the other part of me wanted to have another excuse to make another recipe out of Martha Stewart's Cupcake Cookbook! (Stay tuned I have another one coming that is just as good!)

I flipped through the pages of the cookbook trying to pick something I thought would suite her taste buds. I finally decided on Martha's Applesauce Spice Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting. Whew...that's a mouthful! I wanted to make something that fit the fall season (hence the Halloween liners!), but I didn't know if she would like the flavors. It turns out it happens to be one of her favorites, lucky me!
These cupcakes we incredible! I can't even begin to tell you how moist they were. Applesauce always seems to make such a big difference (and it's better for you). The flavor was so good and the Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting complimented it so well. I omitted the nuts from the recipe, just because some people don't care for them, but you certainly could leave them in. I actually think I wouldn't have enjoyed these as much with them. These cupcakes really were amazing! Another BIG Martha success! :o) If you are looking to make a treat for this fall season and want something that's not pumpkin, give these a try. They will be a crowd pleaser!

Applesauce Spice Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
(recipe from Martha Stewart Cupcakes...also found here)
For Applesauce Spice Cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups store-bought applesauce
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped (optional - I omitted)

For Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin and a 6-cup tin with paper liners. **While the original recipe says it makes 18 cupcakes, I was able to get 22 out of the recipe. I used my large Pampered Chef scoop to dish out the batter evenly. I think 18 would have made HUGE cupcakes.**
Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves together into a medium bowl. Set aside.

Put 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, the granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs, one at a time. On low speed, mix in applesauce and then flour mixture. Stir in nuts, if using, by hand.

Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely in tins on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, in the clean bowl of electric mixer make frosting. Mix cream cheese with remaining 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter and 1 cup brown sugar on medium speed until smooth. Spread cream-cheese frosting on muffins. Muffins can be refrigerated in airtight containers up to 2 days.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bruschetta with Fresh Garden Tomatoes and Basil

Yes, I know, it's a little late in the season to be posting this...
But really I am still getting wonderful tomatoes and my basil plant is just so big sitting out in my garden that I couldn't resist a Sunday afternoon appetizer of tasty Bruschetta!
The hubs and I love Bruschetta. I knew that I had to make it one more time before I was all out of my garden tomatoes. It is so simple but a very elegant tasting dish. I made it on a Sunday afternoon to enjoy while watching football! Not your typical football snack, but it sure is delicious!
Bruschetta with Fresh Garden Tomatoes and Basil
(from the kitchen of Liesl)
about 5 medium sized tomatoes
2 - 3 cloves of minced garlic (depending on how much you like garlic)
about 2 Tablespoons olive oil
about 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
2 fresh basil leaves (cut chiffonade style)
Sea Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 French Baguette
Olive Oil to brush on bread
Garlic salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If Baguette is not pre-sliced, slice at an angle with a sharp bread knife, making slices about an inch thick. Place slices on a baking sheet. Combine olive oil with a couple dash of garlic salt and brush mixture onto the topside of the bread. Toast for about 7 minutes or until bread is nice and toasty.
While bread is cooking, in a medium sized bowl combine garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Using a whisk, stir to combine. Add basil.
As far as the tomatoes go, I know some people do versions of Bruschetta with the tomatoes being peeled. I don't mind my skin on. You do want to seed the tomatoes and cut into small bite sized chunks. Once all the tomatoes are cut, add to the olive oil mixture and stir to coat the tomatoes.
Then all you do is place a spoonful on the topside of the each bread slice (the one you coated with the olive oil garlic salt mixture). Top with extra fresh cracked pepper if desired.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Inside Out Buffalo Wings

This recipe (from A Dash of Sass) popped up in my Google Reader last week and I was so excited that I went straight home from work and made it for dinner that night! The hubs and I LOVE LOVE LOVE anything Buffalo style...especially wings! I was immediately intrigued by this recipe because it seemed like it would satisfy my want for wings, but yet it wasn't as unhealthy as the greasy fried ones.

This meal was so delicious and easy to prepare! I served it wish a small salad with a drizzle of blue cheese dressing and franks buffalo wing sauce. It was a perfect side to the chicken. I will definitely be keeping this meal in a regular rotation! I couldn't believe how tasty it was. The chicken was so moist and full of that buffalo flavor we love so much!

Inside Out Buffalo Wings
1 pound thin chicken cutlets
4-5 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese (I used low-fat)
4-6 tablespoons Frank's Buffalo wing sauce (the original recipe says hot sauce, but I wanted to use wing sauce)
salt and pepper
**see note**
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place one chicken cutlet between two sheets of wax paper. Using a meat tenderizer or a heavy saucepan, carefully pound the meat until it is approximately 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Be careful not to tear the chicken. Repeat with each cutlet.
Season each side of the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper.
Place approximately 1 tablespoon of crumbled blue cheese on the wide end of each chicken cutlet. Roll the cutlets around the blue cheese crumbles. Secure each roll with a toothpick.
Place the rolled cutlets in a baking dish. Using a pastry brush (or your fingers) brush the cutlets with hot sauce. Roll the cutlets around so that they are completely covered with hot sauce.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Carefully remove toothpicks. Serve warm with crunchy celery. Feel free to drizzle more hot sauce over the rolls before serving.
**These are the exact measurements from the original recipe, however, I didn't measure a thing. I say just use what looks good and based on your tastes. If you want more or less sauce, go for it. Same goes with the blue cheese.**