German Apple Cake

I’ve been blessed lately with an overabundance of apples, as I’m sure many of you have.  One of my favorite things to do with lots of apples, specifically Golden Delicious apples, is make my mom’s German Apple Cake.

She has been making this cake every since I can remember.   As a kid, when the air got cool and the leaves started changing color, we knew that apple cake and apple crisp were in the very near future.  Of course mine and my sister’s favorite part was each getting a beater to lick after my mom had whipped up the cream cheese frosting.  I’m sure I tried more than once to either steal or somehow trick my sister into giving me her beater…I was obnoxious like that.

I love making this cake as an adult because not only of the memories, but I can appreciate the simple goodness of it even more now.  The flavor of cinnamon and chunks of soft apples along with the smooth cream cheese frosting are downright yummy.  And I love that it forms kind a kind of sugary “crust” along the edges.  So, so, SO good.  If you have apples coming out your ears, try this cake.  You’ll love it.

German Apple Cake
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 t. Cinnamon
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 c. Peeled, Sliced/Chunked Apples (About 4-5 apples. I prefer golden delicious.)
  • ½-3/4 c. Black Walnuts
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, cold
  • 5 c. Powdered Sugar, sifted
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray (which is what I did) or grease and flour.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in oil, eggs and vanilla. Add the apples and walnuts, mix in thoroughly and let set for 5 minutes or so, allowing the juices to soak into the batter. Spread into your baking pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes (mine took 40) until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely and then frost with cream cheese frosting.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese on high until smooth. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and mix thoroughly on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until smooth. Add vanilla and salt and thoroughly incorporate.
Notes
Serves 18

 

 

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Cancun Eats

Just one week ago I was digging my toes into soft, white sand, reading non-stop on my Kindle under a palm tree and eating waaaaayyyyyy too much food.  It was a good five days in Cancun.

Here are some photos of the most important part of our trip…dessert!  (Forgive the photo quality..taken with a phone…bad lighting..etc etc etc)

These are some of the gorgeous dessert buffets.  I honestly can’t tell you what 1/4 of the stuff is and there wasn’t much that I liked, believe it or not.  Oh, but I tried it ALL.  Most of the choices were either way too sugary sweet coconut candy type things or bland.  And the “cake”-like options were very dry.  I did find a chocolate cheesecake wrapped in a chocolate purse-type shell (in first pic below, bottom right) that was good and another plain vanilla cheesecake thing (at least I THINK that’s what it was..hard to tell because the top half was green and it was shaped like an oval) that I liked also.  I did find these little chocolate cube-like things that I LOVED and I actually found them in the shop at the resort.  Turns out they were made of toasted amaranth and chocolate.  Yep, totally going to try making them.

There were two little gems that I found on our shopping day.  One is an amazing chocolate shop called Ah Cacao.  They sold all kinds of chocolate, coffee, every form of vanilla, cookies and some of THE BEST brownies I have ever had.  Oh and their chocolate covered espresso beans…AH-MAZING.  They were dipped in dark chocolate and then had a crunchy outer shell, like an M&M.  I wish I had bought more than one package.

This was a lovely little gelato place called Aldo’s.  There’s actually alot of gelato places in Cancun, which surprised me.  They pretty much started shoveling gelato samples into our mouthes the minute we walked up to the counter.  But I’m not complaining!  It was delicious!  I ended up getting a waffle cone with Almond gelato–heaven!

And this is us on our last day of living like beach bums, soaking up the sun.  Let me tell you, it was SWEET.

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Fashion Show

While I don’t typically like to be in front of the camera, I had to show off some of my latest finds to you all (and Jeremy agreed to not get my face in the shots so it was all good).

First up, a cupcake necklace from the Fair Grove craft fair. Love it!

Second, a delicious cupcake shirt from Forever 21.

I also found these cupcake socks while I was waiting in line at Forever 21 to buy my cupcake shirt. I couldn’t resist.

Obviously not fashion, but I couldn’t resist sharing this Hello Kitty that my friend Nicole got me for my birthday. Yes, I know how old I am…but I don’t care, it’s adorable!

That’s all for now. I won’t be posting next Monday or Wednesday due to a vacation in a very tropical location…but I’ll have a little recap of our trip the following Friday. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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Maple-Walnut Fudge

So, you want to make fudge but are terrified of candy thermometers and have no idea what the heck soft-ball stage means?! Not to worry, I have a fabulous, EASY recipe for Maple-Walnut Fudge from the Brown Eyed Baker. In mere minutes, you will have creamy, delicious fudge without standing over a stove for hours or having to think about the atomic structure of sugar crystals. I have to admit, there are times when I’m making homemade candy that it feels like I’m doing some weird science experiment in a lab rather than just cooking in my kitchen. Thankfully, this was NOT one of those times.

This recipe was in fact super easy and, I believe, fail-proof. The texture was very smooth and the maple flavor was perfect. The only thing I did different was use two teaspoons of Pure Grade A Maple Syrup instead of the extract because that was all I had. If you’ve never made homemade fudge before, don’t be afraid…start with this recipe…you will be a fudge-making fool before you know it!

Enjoy!

Maple-Walnut Fudge
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 5 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon maple flavoring
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Butter an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch square pan. Line with parchment paper or foil, and butter that; set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, evaporated milk and butter. Bring to a full boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat slightly (no lower than medium-low) and boil for an additional 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and maple flavoring. Transfer the mixture to a standing mixer (or use a hand mixer) and beat the fudge on medium speed until thick and glossy – about 3 minutes. Fold in the walnuts and pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
  4. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. Slice the fudge into 1-inch squares and serve. (Fudge can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.)
Notes
Makes 50 pieces.

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Halloween Dessert Ideas

Holiday parties are getting into full-swing!  The first round of festivities are gorgeous fall parties and spooky halloween bashes.  Celebrate with one of these deliciously fun, fall themed desserts!  My favorite are the black cats!  What’s yours?

Spider Cupcakes

Black Cat Cookies

Ghost Cake Pops

Mummy Cupcakes

Spider Web Cookies

Pumpkin Pie Bites

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Apple Cider Doughnuts

A few weeks ago on a nice, bright Saturday morning I took a little road trip with my friend Sharla to the Osage Beach Premium Outlets.  We had a great time and scored some awesome bargains.  However, my favorite find of the whole trip was this doughnut pan from Norpro.  I have been wanting one for some time and was really excited to finally find one that was a great brand at a decent price.

The store where I bought the pan also had this apple cider doughnut mix conveniently placed next to it.  I’ve been seriously longing for an apple cider doughnut from Edwards Apple Orchard from when we lived up in Rockford.  This place is amazing…the coolest general store with all kinds of yummy stuff, finger lickin’ bbq, some of the best apple pie I’ve EVER had (and yes, we DID try a slice with cheddar cheese and it was good!!)  and their beyond drool-worthy apple cider doughnuts!  Jeremy and I have seriously discussed taking a weekend trip to Rockford just for the doughnuts at the orchard (of course I’d probably have to sneak in some Chicago shopping hehe).  They also have a petting zoo, live music and apple picking galore!  Oh how I miss it!  Apparently, they don’t have a website but here are some pics I found.

Ok so back to my doughnut mix!  I made them this past weekend with the new pan and I have to say that I loved both!  The pan worked wonderfully however, the side of the doughnuts that were in the pan got a bit darker and a tad more done than the other side.  Not an issue really, just looks kind of funny.  And the mix was great!  Not quite the caliber of the orchard doughnuts but really, really good.  We liked them hot out of the pan, brushed with butter and dipped in cinnamon and sugar but they were even better after they had cooled off and set for a while.  You could really taste the apple cider and the texture was very moist and cake-like.  Loved them!  Of course I’ll be trying from scratch doughnuts next but if I ever need any in a pinch, I’ll definitely go with this brand!

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Molasses Cookies

These are some of my most favorite cookies ever.  I’m sure I say that about a LOT of cookies but I really mean it with these!  This is another recipe from my friend Judy (I’ve never had a cake/cookie/etc of hers that ISN’T awesome) and it is one of the most wonderfully soft, slightly chewy, perfectly spiced cookies I’ve ever had.  They are not too sweet and so yum…one of those you could eat 4 or 5 or 10 of without thinking twice.  Or maybe that’s just me.

Totally addictive and perfect for this time of year.

Enjoy!

Molasses Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 2¼ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 t. Ground Ginger
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • ¾ t. Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ t. Ground Cloves
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • ¾ c. Shortening
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg
  • ¼ c. Molasses
  • ½ c. Coarse or Granulated Sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the shortening until softened. Gradually add the 1 cup of granulated sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs and molasses; beat well. Add half of flour mixture; beat until combined. Stir remaining flour in with a wooden spoon.
  4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the coarse or granulated sugar. Bake for 8 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks halfway through. Cool for 2 minutes and then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.
Notes
Makes 25 cookies.

 

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Drinks to Warm You

The nights are getting cooler which means it’s time to break out the hot cocoa and apple cider.  I thought it would be fun to share some recipes for hot drinks, both classic and new.  Oh and for those who prefer a bit of booze in your holiday drink, I’ve got a couple of those too.

Enjoy!

Hot Wassail

Crockpot Chai Tea

Peppermint Patty

Delicious Hot Chocolate

Roasted-Pineapple Hot Buttered Rum

Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate

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Spiced Pumpkin Cake

My original intent for this post was that it would be a recipe for pumpkin BROWNIES (or blondies..whatever) but about a quarter of the way through whipping these up I realized that I was not going to end up with the dense, chewy, pumpkin-y brownies I was dreaming of but most likely, a cake.  And I was right.  I was definitely a little disappointed at first but got over it pretty quickly after my first bite.

It was probably one of the most moist pumpkin cakes I’ve ever had and so wonderfully spiced.  It’s good enough to stand on it’s own without frosting but would most certainly be even more awesome with a layer of cream cheese frosting or a dollop of homemade whipped cream.  I took it to a family function and didn’t bring any home, so that’s a good sign!  So, I suppose it worked out but I’m still on the hunt for the perfect pumpkin brownie recipe!

Enjoy!

Adapted from allrecipes.com

Spiced Pumpkin Cake
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ c. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 c. Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1, 15 oz. Can Solid Pack Pumpkin
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 T. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In an electric mixer, beat oil and sugar. Add eggs and beat until incorporated. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and beat into wet ingredients just until combined.
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Notes
Serves 18. *I also put an 11 oz. bag of butterscotch chips in these but since they weren't thick like brownies, they all sunk to the bottom half of the cake. So, it's up to you if you want to add them or not.

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes by Recipe Girl

It’s October!  I am so excited about October for many reasons…craft fairs, pumpkin everything, Halloween candy galore, hot drinks, scary movies, bon fires…the list goes on and on.  I think we should kick off October AND Monday morning the right way–with Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes!  How delish do these look?!  You might recall when I posted about the original Cinnamon Roll Pancake recipe on a previous post awhile back, but I think the pumpkin takes it to a whole other level!  You better believe these are on the menu for breakfast next weekend!

Photo by Recipe Girl

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
 
Ingredients
Cinnamon Filling
  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Icing
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pancakes
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 1 cup pure unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (see Tips below)
  • ½/ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Prepare the cinnamon filling: In a small, microwave-safe bowl- heat butter, brown sugar and cinnamon for 40 to 60 seconds, just until butter is melted. Whisk the filling ingredients together and then pour it into a sandwich-sized zip baggie. Zip up the baggie and lay it on the counter while you prepare the pancake batter.
  2. Prepare the Icing: In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat butter and cream cheese 30 to 60 seconds, just until butter has melted and cream cheese has softened. Whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla and combine until smooth. Set the icing aside.
  3. Prepare the pancake batter: In a large bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vinegar. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, salt and brown sugar. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until all is moistened.
  4. Check on your cinnamon filling: Open up the baggie again and give it a good stir to re-incorporate any butter that may have separated. You want the mixture to thicken a bit- it's best when it's similar to the squeezing texture of toothpaste (which will eventually happen if you leave it on the counter long enough, but refrigerate for a few minutes if you need to). Don't try to use the filling for the pancake swirl unless it has thickened as it will be too runny! Snip off a small piece of the corner of the baggie.
  5. Cook the pancakes: Preheat a large skillet or griddle to medium. Use an ice cream scoop (or ladle) to add the batter to the pan. Use the bottom of the scoop or ladle to spread out the batter into a nice, even circle. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Pick up your cinnamon filling baggie and squeeze the filling into the corner. Starting at the center of the pancake squeeze the cinnamon filling on top of the pancake batter in a swirl (just as you see in a cinnamon roll). Cook the pancakes 3 to 4 minutes, or until bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake and it is golden brown on the bottom. Slide a thin spatula underneath the pancake and gently but quickly flip it over. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the other side is golden as well. When you flip the pancake onto a plate, you will see that the cinnamon filling has created a crater-swirl of cinnamon. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and repeat with the remaining pancake batter and cinnamon filling. Serve pancakes topped with a drizzle of cream cheese icing.
Notes
If you do not have pumpkin pie spice, use this combo of spices instead: 1 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes by Recipe Girl

 

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The Butterfinger Bites Disaster

Homemade Butterfingers by Plain Chicken

My friend Joelle had been raving on her blog about how amazing these things were called Butterfinger Bites.  My favorite candy bar of all time is Butterfinger, so naturally I just HAD to make these.  The only ingredients are candy corn, peanut butter and chocolate.  And not only that, you make them in the microwave.  Awesome!

Supposedly these little chocolatey gems taste EXACTLY like a Butterfinger.  But I, for one, will never know.  Because I totally and completely screwed up this recipe.  How you ask?  That’s what I’m trying to figure out.  I followed the recipe and warmed the candy corn in the microwave for one minute.  They melted a little.  So I continued at 15 second intervals, stirring between each.  The candy kind of was kind of melting but it was also EXTREMELY hot and kind of starting to clump.  Uh oh.  I eventually got it into some sort of semi-melted blob and thought, ok, I’ll just throw in the peanut butter and see if it comes together.

No, it did not come together.  I could barely stir the mixture for all the clumps of candy corn in the peanut butter.  So I stuck it in the microwaved for a few seconds…and that kind of helped.  The clumps were turning into itty bitty candy corn bits.  So then I had the thought that I would throw it in my mixer and beat the crap out of it!  That didn’t help.  The tiny little candy corn pieces basically got distributed more evenly.  So I poured it into a pan and just stared at it for awhile.  There was no way this was solidifying or even tasting good.  So I threw it away.  Sigh.  So depressing.

I felt like a total failure, like I couldn’t bake at all!!  I mean, candy from a microwave?!  C’mon!  I went to the blog where the original recipe was posted to see if anyone else had issues with it…no, not one person.  Just me. So, I had to console myself by going back and looking at pictures of things I’ve made but never blogged about.  Yes, I was that depressed.  It actually cheered me up a little and reminded me that I’m not a total screw up.  Here’s my trip down memory lane…

Tons of homemade candy for the holidays…that was fun.  And I didn’t screw anything up!

14-Layer Cake with my baking buddy, Betsy.  We were pretty proud of that one.

A 1st birthday cake for a special little nephew.

Neapolitan Cheesecake Cake for a friend’s husband’s birthday.  Yum.

Maple Pecan and Chocolate Peanut Butter Macarons, again with Betsy.  We got those right on the first try!  Woo hoo! Lots of high-fiving going on in the kitchen that day!

Buttered Pecan Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting for my sister-in-law Rachel’s birthday.  I think I need to make this one again…

Oreo and Cherry Birthday Cake for my friend Sarah Carter.  That was a fun one.

Ahh, I feel better.  Time to get back in the saddle!  Err, kitchen. Oh and YES, I most definitely will try to make the homemade Butterfingers again!

 

 

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GiGi’s Cupcakes

Last Friday night Jeremy and I visited one of the two new cupcakes places (yes TWO) that opened up this week in Springfield, MO.  GiGi’s is a franchise based out of Nashville, TN and I had heard good things about them so I was pretty excited to visit.  The place is cute, simple and clean inside.  No frills.  And quite frankly they don’t need frills because the cupcakes are gorgeous!  At three dollars apiece, they are good-sized and well worth the money.  And the frosting…OMG don’t even get me started on the frosting on top of these cupcakes.  The minute we stepped inside the doors and my eyes fell upon the mountain of frosting piped on top of the cupcakes, I was mesmerized and drooling.  I’m a frosting girl all the way!

Since it was their opening night and they had been giving away free cupcakes all day to all their fans on Facebook, they were down to some basic flavors but still a good variety.   I would have LOVED to have tried the Tiramisu or Red Velvet but they were out of those so we went with Wedding Cake (my choice), Midnight Magic (Jeremy’s choice) and Chocolate Salted Caramel.

The Chocolate Salted Caramel consisted of a yummy super dark chocolate cake with caramel buttercream topped with chocolate ganache and a sprinkle of sea salt.  It was very good and I loved the salt and chocolate combination but the caramel buttercream was just a tad too sweet for both of us.  Somehow we still managed to eat most of it though…how did that happen?!

My choice, the Wedding Cake, was vanilla cake topped with vanilla buttercream.   The cake was on the denser side and not so light and fluffy and the buttercream was very thick, creamy and smooth, not greasy at all and had a wonderful vanilla flavor.  I really enjoyed it, especially the frosting.

Jeremy’s choice, the Midnight Magic, was our favorite.  It was a rich chocolate cake topped with an absolutely delicious cream cheese frosting and mini chocolate chips.  We ate the whole thing and loved every bite.

I’m really looking forward to going back and trying more cupcakes.  And I will go back!  I can’t stop thinking about the frosting…and the Tiramisu cupcake…and the Miss Princess (strawberry) cupcake…and the Red Velvet cupcake..and the frosting..and the Kentucky Bourbon Pie cupcake…and the…

P.S. Check out all GiGi’s offerings here!

P.S.S.  After linking to her page, I read her story of how she started and it is totally inspiring!  Check it out!

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Apple Recipe Roundup

It’s Monday!  Who’s excited?!  Yeah, me neither.  Thought I’d cheer you up with some delicious APPLE recipes from all over the blogosphere.  It’s that time of year….apple cake, apple cider, apple donuts, apple pie….the possibilities are endless!  And so, so delicious.

Enjoy!

Apple Rings by How To: Simplify

 

Hot Spiced Cider by Better Homes and Gardens

Apple Pie Cupcakes by Annie’s Eats

Smooth and Sweet Caramel Apple Dip by Zesty Cook

Caramel Apple Granola Cookies by Healthy Food for Living

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate Popcorn

I’m not a huge popcorn fan but every now and then I do love to munch on some caramel or cheese popcorn and it’s usually around Christmas when some member of my family sees fit to lug a HUGE tin of the stuff to our family holiday dinner.  Ya know, cause there’s not enough food at those family dinners.

So the other day I remembered how my mom used to make caramel corn in the microwave.  I mean, really, really good caramel corn.  From the microwave!  She sent me the recipe and I made it for the first time ever and I have to say it’s even better than I remember as a kid.  Maybe I can appreciate it more now?  Who knows.  But for whatever reason I love the stuff and it’s very addictive.

I added my own little touch with some sea salt and then through in some homemade dark chocolate and peanut popcorn.  The recipes for both are below and they are super simple but if you only choose to do one, make the caramel corn!

Enjoy!

Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate Popcorn
 
Ingredients
Salted Caramel Popcorn
  • 8 c. Popped Plain Popcorn (NO salt or butter)
  • 1 c. Packed Brown Sugar
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, cut into chunks
  • ¼ c. Light Corn Syrup
  • ½ t. Regular Salt
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
  • ½-1 t. Fine Sea Salt (depending on how salty you want it to be)
Dark Chocolate Peanut Popcorn
  • 4 c. Popped Popcorn (NO butter or salt)
  • 1½ c. High Quality Dark Chocolate Candy Coating (NOT chocolate bark)
  • ½ c. Dry-Roasted Peanuts
Instructions
For the Salted Caramel Corn:
  1. Line a large cookie sheet pan with foil. Place Popped corn in a large brown paper bag. Set aside.
  2. Combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and regular salt in a large bowl. Microwave on high setting 3-4 minutes, stirring after each minute, until mixture comes to a boil (it only took 3 minutes for mine to boil). Microwave 2 minutes longer (without stirring) and then stir in baking soda. Pour syrup mixture over popped corn in bag. Close bag and shake well. Microwave for 1½ more minutes. Shake bag well. Microwave 1-1½ minutes more (I stopped at 1 minute because it smelled slightly burned and 3 or 4 pieces did burn--no biggie, just watch it). Add the sea salt and shake bag well. Pour onto the large cookie pan. Cool and stir to separate.
For the Chocolate Peanut Popcorn
  1. Line a large cookie pan with foil. Place popped popcorn and peanuts in large brown paper bag. Melt the chocolate in a medium bowl at 20 second intervals, stirring between each, until completely melted and smooth. Pour chocolate into the bag over the popcorn and peanuts and shake well. Pour onto the cookie pan. Cool and stir to separate.
Notes
Serves...well, it depends on how well you share. :)

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Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies

I’ve not made a whole lot of pecan cookies in my life other than these Pecan Sandies, so when I found out tomorrow is National Pecan Cookie Day, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try another yummy cookie recipe.  I found this one from King Arthur for Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies.  The cookie is loaded with pecans, butterscotch chips and rolled in a sugar and salt mixture.

I of course just HAD to mess with the recipe.  I omitted the espresso and butterscotch chips and subbed in dark chocolate chips and dried cherries and then sandwiched them with marshmallow buttercream.  I really, really liked my finished product but I can’t wait to try the original version below.  Overall, this recipe makes one seriously delicious cookie.

Enjoy!

Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1⅓ cups pecan halves
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon butterscotch, vanilla-butternut, or butter-rum flavor
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar, cider or white
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1⅓ cups butterscotch chips
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 to 1¼ teaspoons salt, for topping*
  • If you're making smaller (teaspoon cookie scoop-sized) cookies, increase the coating to ½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar mixed with 1¾ to 2 teaspoons salt.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
  2. Place the pecans in a single layer in a pan, and toast till they've darkened a bit and smell toasty, about 8 to 9 minutes. Set them aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sugars, butter, shortening, salt, espresso powder, baking soda, vanilla, flavor, and vinegar, beating until smooth and creamy.
  4. Beat in the egg, again beating till smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is thoroughly combined.
  5. Mix in the flour, then the chips and toasted nuts.
  6. If you're going to refrigerate the dough, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for about 4 to 5 hours; or overnight. Cookie dough refrigerated for 3½ to 4 hours will spread moderately; chilled overnight, it will spread much less.
  7. Mix the ⅓ cup sugar and salt for the coating, and put it in a bowl. Use a spoon (or a tablespoon cookie scoop) to scoop 1½" balls of dough into the sugar/salt mixture, rolling to coat. Then transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2" between them on all sides; they'll spread quite a bit. Or use a teaspoon cookie scoop to scoop 1¼" balls of dough.
  8. Bake the cookies for 10 to 11 minutes — 11 minutes for smaller cookies, 12 for larger ones. Their edges will be chestnut brown and their tops a lighter golden brown. (For dough that's been refrigerated, add 30 seconds to 1 minute to those baking times.) Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan till they've set enough to move without breaking. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Notes
Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies. There are a few of options once you have the dough made. If you bake the cookies right away, you'll have a flatter, lighter-colored cookie. Refrigerate it for 4 to 5 hours, the cookies will be flat, but not "puddle-y." Chill overnight, and the dough dries out, with some of the starch in the flour turning to sugar. The cookies will be darker, more "caramel-y," and won't spread nearly as much. These cookies are a good candidate for the "tablespoon vs. teaspoon" scoop choice. A tablespoon cookie scoop (actually 4 level measuring teaspoons) will yield big, 3" cookies; a teaspoon scoop (1¾ level measuring teaspoons) will make smaller (2¼") cookies. Also, the sugar-salt coating can be made more or less assertive, your choice. Use the lesser amount of salt for a less adventuresome audience; the greater amount for those who love the salty/sweet experience. It's easy to make some of both; just divide the dough in half, and make the coating both ways, rolling half the cookies in the saltier coating, half in the milder.

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St. Louis and Cheesecake

This weekend I went to the Joyce Meyer conference in St. Louis with a few other lovely ladies.  I’ve been several times before and it’s always a wonderful time of awesome music and challenging teaching.  It’s also a great time to sneak in some shopping and splurge on some good eating out!   On Friday, our sessions were at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. so during that gap me, my sister Hannah and friend Nicole high-tailed it to the Galleria for a marathon shopping session.

One of our stops was Urban Outfitters where I found these Kitty Cat Measuring Cups.  I am a HUGE cat person, so I pretty much died when I saw them.  I still regret not getting them.

I also came across this toothpaste at Urban Outfitters.  As much as I love cupcakes, I’m not sure I want to brush my teeth with them.  That just seems…wrong.

After the last session on Saturday, we went back to the Galleria for the Cheesecake Factory.  I know, I know it’s a chain and all but I’m sorry, I love the place.  We had some awesome salads and then left.

Just kidding!  Well, we did have salads but we most certainly ordered cheesecake too!  And no, we didn’t share a piece, we each got our own piece.  That’s right.  Total gluttony.  And it was sooooo worth it.  Here is a picture of all three of them taken with my crappy cell phone.

And here are some beautiful stock photos of what we got.  Much better.

My sister Hannah got Craig’s Crazy Carrot Cake Cheesecake.  It. Is. So. Good.  Layers of carrot cake, vanilla cheesecake, cream cheese frosting and toasted pecans.  Amazing.

I got the Lemon Raspberry Cream Cheesecake which consisted of Raspberry-Vanilla Cake, Creamy Lemon Cheesecake, Raspberry Lady Fingers and Lemon Mousse.  It didn’t have the lady fingers and didn’t quite look like this photo and wasn’t really my favorite, BUT it was good.  Just not my favorite.

What was my favorite?  My friend Nicole’s choice, the Kahlua Cocoa Coffee Cheesecake.  OMG.  I know that phrase is overused but seriously, OMG.  It was so, so, so good…a yummy brownie crust with a hint of coffee in the uber-creamy cheesecake filling and some seriously rich chocolate mousse and ganache on top.  I was *this close* to choosing the Kahlua cheesecake and I was KICKING myself for changing my mind at the last minute.  However, Nicole couldn’t quite finish all of her piece so like the good friend I am, I volunteered to help her out.

I had such a great weekend and was so sad to see it end but I’m thankful for the girl time and most importantly, God time.  And now, I’m gonna shut down my computer on this dreary, rainy Sunday afternoon and hold my husband’s hand as he rides the emotional rollercoaster that is fantasy football.  Hope everyone has a lovely Sunday evening.

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