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 going...you 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 one...it'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 scone...like 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 tea...man 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 them...at 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"...so 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 punch...it 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 time...it'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!**