Vote for Me!

I have entered a recipe for the infamous White Chocolate Haystacks  to be included in a recipe book being created by Foodista. These haystacks are a favorite on mine and anyone that I share them with! They have shown up in this blog multiple times even though the blog hasn't even celebrated it's 1st birthday yet. So please help me out and vote for this recipe. Thanks!


Candy! and lots of it

Shortly after Halloween I started compiling a list of all the holiday candy that I wanted to make this year. It's a long list and at first I thought I was being a bit over zealous, but it turns out not only was I able to do it (well, almost, I still have a few more to make this weekend for my family's christmas) but I had enough gatherings to attend to get rid of most of it and not have an abundance sitting around the house.

I also have to note that the candy making itself is not hard, just tedious, BUT it's been impressive that I have stuck with it in lieu of baking since I am the proud owner of a beautiful new kitchen aid mixer that I have only used once since all of my candy making just has me utilizing the heck out of my double boiler and candy thermometer.

Here is the list of candy that I suggest you all try, SO delicious, and I think I will be on a sugar high until Valentine's Day.....

Nutella Kiss Cookies

This is becomoing an old favorite of mine that I could devour year round, but they always remind me of the holidays.

-1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (I used world market's brand, super tasty!)
-1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 cup light brown sugar
-1 egg
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-red and green sugar sprinkles
-1 package Hershey's Kisses (I used candy cane, milk chocolate, and caramel)

1.Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2.In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3.In another medium bowl, place the chocolate hazelnut spread, butter, and both sugars. Using a hand mixer, cream the ingredients together, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and blend until incorporated.

4.Stir in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated.

5.Shape the cookie dough into 1/2" balls with a table spoon. Rolls the balls in the sprinkles. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven. Quickly place a chocolate kiss in the middle of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 2 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

These were one of the first treats I made for the holidays so after they cooled completely I stored them in an air tight container and put them in the freezer. When I was ready to serve them I place them on the counter overnight with a slice of bread in the container to help soften them up and they were perfect.
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Triple Chocolate Turtle Fudge

This recipe is near and dear to my heart because it is the first candy I ever made by myself while I was in college. It was such a success and definitely sparked my interest in getting creative in the kitchen.

Recipe adapted from Pillsbury.com:

-4.5 Cups Sugar
-1/2 Cup Butter (1 stick)
-1 12oz can evaporated milk
-12 oz sweet baking chocolate, chopped
-2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1 cup chopped pecans
-1 14oz package caramels
-2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream

1. Line a 9"x13" baking pan with foil, spray with non-stick spray. In a double boiler over medium heat combine sugar, butter, and evaporated milk. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. Without stirring, boil over medium heat until thermometer reads 234°. Remove from heat.
2. Add marshmallows, chocolate chips, sweet chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate. Stir until all chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
3. Stir in the vanilla and 1/2 Cup pecans. Quickly spread mixture into the pan.
4. In a double boiler melt caramels and heavy whipping cream. Stir frequently until completely melted and combined. Drizzle over fudge and sprinkle remaining pecans on top.
5. Cool overnight. Lift foil from pan and cut into 1" squares.
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Caramel on Foodista

Almond Butter Balls

Even though I have pretty much discovered that if I crack open a new jar of peanut butter to eat or make some treats with I won't end up with a migraine I am still in a constant search for tastey recipes that use an alternate for peanut butter, so I thought I would attempt making peanut butter balls with almond butter instead and I think I like them even more than the original!

2 Cups Almond butter- I used trader joe's creamy sea salt variety, YUM
1/4 C unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-2.5 Cups powdered sugar- I may have used a bit more to get them to the right consistency
12oz semisweet chocolate chips
2 T butter

1. In a double boiler combine almond butter, butter, and salt until smooth and creamy. Remove from heat and add vanilla and powdered sugar until the mixture has the consistency of cookie dough.
2. Roll the dough into 1/2" balls, place on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper and chill for 2 hours.
3. In a double boiler melt the chocolate chips and butter until smooth.
4. Dip the balls in the chocolate one at a time. Place on a wire rack or baking sheet and place back in the refrigerator to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. These also freeze really well.
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Chocolate Caramel Candies aka homemade snickers bars

I historically have made myself sick over eating an abundance of these rich little candies every Christmas and I still haven't learned my lesson. These are SO delicious. I suppose for the average person these are extremely rich and half a piece is probably sufficient, but I could eat these all day all season long!

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home:

Bottom Layer
-1 Cup Milk chocolate chips
-1/4 Cup butterscotch chips
-1/4 Cup peanut butter
-1/4 Cup Butter
-1 Cup sugar
-1/4 Cup evaporated milk
-1.5 C Marshmallow creme
-1/4 peanut butter
-1 teaspoon vanilla
Caramel Layer
-1 14oz package caramels
-1/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
Top Layer
-1 Cup milk chocolate chips
-1/4 Cup butterscotch chips
-1/4 Cup creamy peanut butter

1. line a 9"x13" pan with foil sprayed with non-stick spray.
2. In a double boiler combine the 'Bottom layer' ingredients until melted and smooth. Pour into the pan and place in refrigerator to set.
3. In a double boiler melt butter over medium heat. Add sugar and evaporated milk until gently boiling. Reduce heat to medium low and boil and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in marshmallow cream, peanut butter, and vanilla. Spread over first layer, refrigerate until set.
4. In a double boiler combine the caramels and cream. Stir over medium low heat until melted and smooth. Pour over marshmallow layer and refrigerate until set.
5. In a double boiler combine all 'Top layer' ingredients and stir until melted and smooth. Pour over caramel layer and refrigerate until set. Once set, cover and refrigerate over night.
6. Remove foil from pan and cut into 1" squares.
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Angel Food Candy, Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles, White Chocolate Haystacks

We had a lovely work holiday party last night and I of course offered to make some candies for the occassion. In addition to a copius amount of chocolate caramel candies I also brought some other old favorites, Angel food candy and White Chocolate Haystacks (that my Grandma Vi had at every Christmas) and a new endeavor/favorite- chocolate hazelnut truffles.

Angel Food Candy- recipe from Allrecipes.com
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Dark Corn Syrup
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar (or any white vinegar)
1 Tablespoon Baking soda
1 12 oz package semisweet chocolate chips (i also threw in some leftover butterscotch chips)

1. Butter a 9"x13" baking dish
2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine the sugar, corn syrup, and vinegar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Heat without stirring until the mixture reaches 300-310° or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms hard, brittle threads.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda. Pour into prepared pan and do not spread. Allow to cool completely
4. In a double boiler melt chocolate chips stirring constantly until smooth. Break candy into pieces and coat with the chocolate. Place pieces on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles- recipe from Taste of Home
-3/4 Cup powdered sugar
-2 Tablespoons cocoa
-4 milk chocolate candy bars (1.55oz each)
-6 Tablespoons butter
-1/4 Cup heavy whipping cream
-1 Cup ground hazelnuts

1. In a large bowl whisk together the powdered sugar and cocoa. Set aside. In a double boiler melt the butter and candy bars. Add heavy cream and reserved sugar/cocoa mixture. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened and smooth. Pour into an 8" square dish. cover and refridgerate at least 5 hours.2. Using a melon baller or spoon, shape candy into 1" balls and roll into crushed hazelnuts. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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Thanksgiving Day Parade of New Recipes

My brother and I have started a nice Thanksgiving Day tradition filled with cooking, baking, pajamas, and video games. This Thanksgiving I not only mastered 4 new recipes, but I am quite skilled at playing the drums on Wii Rockband.

Here is our Menu/Itinerary for the day:

-Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
-Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Scones  I was so excited to finally find cinnamon chips, I just had to use them and these were SO delicious and came together very quickly!

Early Afternoon:
-Mario Kart
-Wii Fit
-Garlic Herb Focaccia Bread (made the dough so we could have it with our dinner)
-It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (a few episodes)


-Vegetarian Tortilla Soup  minus the tortilla part since we had bread. This was so easy and tasty I will definitely be making this soup again and again.
-Focaccia Bread
-Wii Rock Band
-Truffle Brownies YUM, YUM, YUM, YUM, YUM!

We had Thanksgiving with our Dad's side of the family and whipped up these delicious sandwich cookies. Totally worth the time grating the carrots. Everything else is easy, especially eating them!
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Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins

In the spirit of fall I have been on quite the pumpkin kick and just about everything pumpkin sounds appealing to me. I am never opposed to cream cheese, so when I came across this cream cheese pumpkin bread I was very excited to try it. The recipe makes two loaves of bread so I decided to make one loaf to bring to a party and use the remaining batter for muffins. They both turned out fantastic! I also made a honey butter to go along with them which was just delicious.

Pumpkin Bread (adapted from Joy of Baking ):
1 Cup Pecans- choppped and toasted
3-1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 Eggs
2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Butter- unsalted, melted and cooled
1- 15oz can Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 Cup Water
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz Cream Cheese- softened
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour

Preheat Oven to 350°, grease and flour bread and/or muffin pans
1. Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated. Stir in the flour until smooth and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
3. In another large bowl whisk the eggs. Stir in sugar and butter until blended. Stir in the pumpkin, water, vanilla extract, and pecans until blended.
4. Add the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until just combined. Do not over stir or the bread will be tough.
5. Place a quarter of the batter in the bottom of a greased and floured bread pan and another quarter in a greased a floured muffin pan or another bread pan. Place a layer of the cream cheese filling into each. Top each off with the remaining batter.
6. Bake the bread 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. For muffins bake about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
7. Let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before removing from pans.

Honey Butter:
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter- room temperature
1-1/2 Tablespoons butter
3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

Stir all ingredients together until blended.
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1st is the worst, 2nd is the best....

In the past seven days my baked goodies have been in two different competitions. The first was an apple pie bake-off at my office. I think I have only baked one apple pie prior to this so I was pretty nervous. So nervous in fact that I did a trial run earlier in the week just to make sure my skills were up to par. The verdict of the bake-off, 2nd place, losing by 1 measly vote! However, I'm calling it a tie. Later in the day my office manager spilled the beans that she voted for my pie, but then decided not to count her vote. It was also declared that my crust was the best, yay! I think next time around all I would need to do is amp up my filling a bit with some more spices or a surprise.....the winning pie had craisins mixed it, admittedly, it was very tasty.
The second bake-off was a cookie bake-off at Bethaney's clinic. We decided to make S'mores cookies and they were awesome! A little graham cracker added to a simple chocolate chip cookie dough and some marshmallows on top, yum! They were very easy to make, but transporting them from cookie sheet to parchment paper proved to be extremely tricky. The dough really spreads thin and they fall apart if you take them off too quickly, but are really tough to get off the cookie sheet if you wait to long. Something about these cookies being thin and chewy makes them really delicious though. So, this was another 2nd place treat, the winner being some sort of brownie cookie. In my eyes a brownie beats a cookie most of the time so I can't complain, but perhaps I could question whether or not it was cookie enough to be in the competition.

Ah well, I'm a novice at baking and competing in bake-offs so I will take my 2nd places with pride and hope for the best with future entries. Here are a couple of solid delicious recipes:

Apple Pie (adapted from The Elegant Farmer):
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into pieces
1/3 cup ice water (I ended up using a couple more tablespoons than this)

2 Granny Smith apples/3 Honey Crisp apples, peeled, cored, and thickly sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1.Make the Crust: combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the butter until pea-sized pieces appear. Add the water and continue to cut in a few more times—it will still look crumbly. Transfer the crumbs to 2 pieces of parchment paper or foil and form into 2 disks. Wrap the discs with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
2.On a work surface lightly dusted with flour, roll out 1 disk to a circle about 1/8-inch thick. Keep rolling until the circle is at least 2 inches larger than your 9" pan. Line the pie pan with the dough, letting the edge hang over a bit. Roll the second disk, place it on a sheet pan and chill it until you're ready to build your pie.
3.Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
4.Make the Filling: In a medium bowl, toss the apple slices, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg together. Transfer to the pie shell and dot with the remaining butter. Brush the overhanging edges of the dough with water. Carefully cover with the rolled-out top crust and pinch the edges together, turning them under all around to make a thick edge. To decorate the rim, press it all around with the back of a fork, or just pinch it to seal. With a scissors, cut a few V-vents in the center.
5. Slide the pie into the brown paper bag and fold the top down. Staple bag shut and place it on a sheet pan. Bake for 1 hour.
6.Remove the pie from the oven and cut a large circle in top of the bag. Return to the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 15 minutes more.

Let the pie cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

S'mores Cookies (recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod) makes 4 dozen:
1-1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1 Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups mini marshmallows
3 Hershey bars, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 375°
2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, & salt.
3. In a large bowl beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beat until combined.
4. Slowly beat in the flour mixture, about 3 additions, until smooth.
5. Drop small tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 8 minutes, remove and push 3-4 marshmallows and 3-4 pieces of chocolate onto each cookie. Place back into oven and bake an additional 3-4 minutes. Remove and cool on parchment paper.
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Pumpkin Pie Truffles

Perhaps part of the reason I love fall so much is all the fall season inspired treats. I have been buying a can of pumpkin just about every time I go to the grocery store and just started putting them to use. I have never made truffles before and since I am intending to make A LOT of holiday candy, including truffles, I figured I better get my feet wet sooner rather than later. I came across these tastey little morsels on Cake Batter and Bowl  and thought they looked like a delicious way to start. They didn't come together quickly and mine didn't turn out very pretty, but they weren't as complicated as I thought they were going to be. However, it really is important to cook the pumpkin in order to remove a lot of the moisture. I also had to refrigerate the filling for closer to an hour. They are really delicious, like little bite sized pumpkin pies. I think they look really cute even the mishapen ones, like real pumpkins.
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Happy Halloween! Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

I decided earlier in the week that I really wanted to make cream cheese sugar cookies for halloween and once I decide I want to bake something there is no stopping me.....Not only did I have to purchase a set of 100 cookie cutters to get the pumpkin I wanted, but since I was going to the symphony last night I was also up until 2 am baking and frosting these buggers. They sure are tasty though. It took me a bit to get the cooking time correct, the recipe said 8-10 minutes but each batch took about 12-15. I was also very excited to use my new food coloring gels that I have been hearing so much about, they really do seem to give a richer color and you don't need to use as much. Now I can't wait to make some Christmas cookies with all of my new cutouts!

Recipe's Adapted from Allrecipes.com
Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1.In a large bowl, combine the sugar, butter, cream cheese, salt, almond and vanilla extracts, and egg yolk. Beat until smooth.
2.Stir in flour until well blended.
3.Chill the dough for 8 hours, or overnight.
4.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/3 at a time to 1/8 inch thickness (I prefer a little thicker cookie than this), refrigerating remaining dough until ready to use. Cut into desired shapes with lightly floured cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until light and golden brown. Cool cookies completely before frosting.

2 C Confectioner's Sugar
6 teaspoons milk
4 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
food coloring

1. In a small bowl mix together sugar and milk until smooth. Add additional milk 1/4 teaspoon at a time if needed.
2. Stir in corn syrup and almond extract and mix until smooth and glossy. Separate into smaller bowl and add food coloring.
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Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes- Happy Birthday Claire!

I LOVE other people's birthdays. I have always been a fan of other people's birthday celebrations and I think I like them even more now since it is the perfect excuse to make something sweet for the masses. Claire requested a lot of something chocolaty and delicious so that she would have treats to enjoy for awhile after her birthday. Did I have the perfect recipe for her. Martha Stewart's Salted Caramel Cupcakes. For a total of 52 mini cupcakes I figured there would be plenty to go around. I learned a few things while making these.

1. do not microwave the water and then forget to put it in the mixture
2. do not overfill the liner, if anything they are better off lower than recommended.
The first batch made it into the garbage.
3. It is not smart to immediately put a finger covered in 360° caramel to your mouth
4. these are DELICIOUS and worth the time and effort
I made these over the course of a few days, starting with the frosting since it can be refrigerated up to 5 days. The next night I made the cupcakes, and on the final night I made the caramel and with the help of Bridget and Bethaney, assembled these delicious little morsels of heaven


Chocolate Frosting ( I actually made a half batch and it was more than enough, this is the full recipe below):
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1.Combine cocoa and boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved. set aside.
2.With electric mixer on medium-high, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture.
3.Frosting can be refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen up to 1 month in an air tight container. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth again.

Chocolate Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water

1.Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line mini muffin tin with paper liners.
2.Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water; beat until smooth and combined.Spoon the batter into liners about two-thirds full.
3.Bake approximately 15 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Transfer tins to wire racks and allow to cool for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.

Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 1 month in air tight containers.To finish, use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the pieces. I used a small melon baller.

Salted Caramel
2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, preferably fleur de sel

1.Heat sugar with the water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and stop stirring.
2.Cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360°F. 3.Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.Use immediately; if caramel begins to harden reheat gently until pourable.

Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons warm Salted Caramel Filling into each hollowed-out cupcake. You will notice the caramel will sink into the cupcake a little, just fill it up a bit more. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over filling.Use a pastry bag with a medium open-star tip (I used Wilton #1M) and pipe Dark Chocolate Frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Garnish each cupcake with a pinch of sea salt. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are filled and frosted. Store at room temperature in airtight containers - do NOT refrigerate.

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Caramel Apple Cream Brownies

Fall is in the air and as much as I want to make some pumpkin goodies I still had some apples to use up from my apple picking adventure with Maria, so I decided to put all the delicious pumpkin recipes I found on Picky Palate and make these AWESOME fall brownies. With the apples and cream cheese in these brownies they are very moist and perfect for the bakers edge, because the one drawback I have found with this pan is that the cooking times are a little tricky and some of the brownies I have made have been slightly dry. These were the perfect treat to bring to CJ and Shelly and their adorable new baby Addison.

I made a few modifications to the Picky Palate Recipe:

1 Box Trader Joe's Truffle Brownie Mix (this is for an 8x8 pan or the baker's edge)
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
4 Tablespoons butter
3 small-medium baking apples, peeled and thinly sliced ( I used honey crisp and empire)
4 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 Cup chopped pecans (or other nut of choice)
14oz Sweetened condensed milk- for caramel sauce (or purchase caramel sauce and warm in microwave)

1. Preheat oven to 350° Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Pour into a 8x8 inch pan that’s been sprayed with non stick spray
2. Place softened cream cheese and sugar into a mixing bowl, mix until smooth. Place dollops of cheese over brownie batter. Use a butter knife to carefully swirl without dragging against the bottom of dish.
3. Place butter into a large skillet over medium heat to melt. Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped pecans. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour evenly over brownies.
4. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until center of brownies are cooked through. Remove and let cool completely before cutting into squares.
5. While the brownies are baking place sweetened condensed milk in double boiler. Cook over medium heat for 60-90 minutes, stirring occasionally until milk thickens and turns a caramel color. Just before serving, drizzle caramel sauce over brownies

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I'm Dutch.......

So when I had some apples I needed to use up I decided to make Dutch Apple Bread. It is a simple apple bread with a delicious brown sugar/cinnamon topping like a Dutch apple pie. This turned out so great that I have actually made it twice since the initial trial. As I said, the first time I made it I just needed to use up some apples and ended up eating the whole thing myself during the coarse of a week for breakfast everyday. It was like having cake for breakfast, fantastic! The other two times I shared and brought it to gatherings where it was a real crowd pleaser and gone before my eyes. I apologize for my hiatus from blogging, especially since it's the end of apple picking season, but I suggest you try this if you happen to find yourself with some extra apples lying around.

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped, peeled apple
1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat Oven to 350°
2.In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.
3.Beat in eggs and vanilla.
4.Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; stir into the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Fold in apples and nuts.
5.Pour into a greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pan. For topping, combine the first four ingredients; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

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Grandma Vi's White Chocolate Haystacks

I happen to think that white chocolate is very misunderstood and people should give it more of a chance. I will say that if you are in the mood for chocolate it probably isn't going to do the trick, but on it's own it's so sweet and delicious.

My cousin Becky came to visit (and deliver my car to me!) the other weekend and I made sure to have all the fixin's to make one of her favorite treats that our Grandma Vi used to make. I did run a little short on peanut butter so we had to add a little maple flavored almond butter, which was a nice little twist on the original. Side note: if you have never tried any of Justin's natural peanut, almond, or hazelnut butter you really should, they are simply delicious!

These are so quick to throw together and will disappear in mere moments because even though they have a crunch they just melt in your mouth. If you are still opposed to giving white chocolate a shot I suppose you could use dark chocolate, milk chocolate , or butterscotch chips instead.

-12oz White Chocolate
-1 Cup Peanut Butter
-2 Cups Mini Marshmallows
-4 Cups Chow Mein Noodles (or just shy of a 12oz bag)

1. Melt white chocolate and peanut butter over double boiler or in the microwave
2. Pour chocolate/peanut butter mixture over chow mein noodles and stir in marshmallows. Gently combine.
3. Spoon clusters onto wax paper and let cool.

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Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have had this chocolate chip cookie recipe in my back pocket for over a year but have been making so many other fun desserts I just haven't gotten to them. With so many bbq's and outings lately I needed a recipe that was going to make a lot and be easy to transport. And who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies? really, tell me if you are out there....but even if you do, I probably won't believe you. I also might send you some of these cookies to change your mind. I found this article/recipe in the New York Times last year and since I LOVE the NY Times I figured I would love these cookies as well. These are honestly the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had and if the recipe had not already been published in a newspaper I would think about keeping the secret all to myself. The article is really quite interesting so check it out!

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet
chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)
Sea salt.

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
I prefer to make smaller cookies and scoop the mounds of dough out with a tablespoon or very small ice cream scoop. I bake them at 350° for 10-12 minutes. It will make about 6 dozen.

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Peppermint Patty Cupcakes

Another delicious recipe by who other than Martha?! I love that these are actually brownies in cupcake form and the peppermint patty center melts perfectly to give the entire cupcake a hint of mint. I also really liked that these did not call for a frosting (and it was not needed, they were plenty rich and flavorful on their own). Because there was not any frosting these were super easy to transport to the BBQ I was headed to. I purchased a large bag of peppermint patties so I thought it would be cute to make these cupcakes in a mini version. I tested this out by making 4 mini's first. I think the mini version would work with junior mints, but the small peppermint patties were still too large. The mint spewed out of the tops of the cupcakes and made a huge disaster. In fact, the tops popped right off the mini's. I'll have to try these again with junior mints, because a large cupcake is actually nearing too rich, even for me, which is next to impossible! Although if I make them as mini's I may just have to top them off with a bailey's frosting or something of the sort. I was a little disappointed that mine also didn't have the pretty cream center like the picture shows in the book, so I just went with the peppermint patty pic. Since I don't feel right about publishing a recipe that Martha does not have on her website, I'll let the St. Petersburg Times do it for me.

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Chewy Fudgy Brownie Perfection

I have been in search for the perfect combination of chewy and fudgy when it comes to brownies for quite some time. I found it……..and then did not blog about it for weeks, and now I am not positive if this is the recipe I used or not. I'm about 98% sure it is,but I will make them sometime soon,just to be sure.
Update: this is it!

Here are some representative photos of what I have been doing instead of blogging for the past month:

Taking Advantage of all the local farmer's markets

Jazz in the Park- Millenium Park

Narrowly avoiding cars while riding my bike.
Windy City Wine Festival

African Dance- taking a class that is.
Renegade Craft Fair- check it out!

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