Wednesday, September 28, 2011

peanut butter dip and pumpkin dip

There are a lot of recipes out there for fruit dip but, most of them have a ton of sugar, cool whip, fluff and other junk (aka the really good stuff).  They all sounded really good but, I wanted to keep the appetizer plate for Carter's party a little more on the healthy side. He loves peanut butter and apples so, I thought a yogurt based dip with honey and peanut butter would still seem sweet and fun with out loading the kids up with sugar before dinner.  The dinner they did not eat so, why did I even try?  I had 3 oz of greek yogurt left, cream cheese left and some pumpkin in the refrigerator so, I decided to play around and make a pumpkin dip as well.  Either dip would be great to have in the refrigerator for a fun fall snack with cut up fruit.

peanut butter yogurt dip

4 oz honey flavored greek yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 oz 1/3 fat cream cheese, softened

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. 
Cover and chill 30 minutes.
pumpkin yogurt dip

3 oz honey flavored greek yogurt
3 oz 1/3 fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Cover and chill 30 minutes

Serve with apple slices, apple chips, and graham crackers.

Monday, September 26, 2011

caramel apple cupcake

Five year old boys.  If they are anything like my son they like Star Wars, skeletons, Perry the platypus, spiders, soccer balls, and dirt.  So when you tell your son that is turning five that he is having an apple themed party you can only imagine how happy he becomes.  He is bursting with excitement, counting down the days, tasting different apple varieties and of course totally bragging to his friends about the apple party.  In my dreams.  Instead he stares at you with a total look of puzzlement and disbelief and proclaims for the millionth time that he wants a pump it up party again.  He is starting to grasp the concept that I am here to totally ruin his life.  I wanted to do caramel apples and have a smaller get together for Carter's birthday so being CEO of this household I made the big decision and set the wheels in motion and I did not let the little people like the birthday boy slow me down.  It actually ended up being really fun.  We bobbed for apples, did an apple shaped balloon pop, decorated caramel apples and ate apple fall fare.  The kids had fun.  Our house was destroyed.  The kids did not like the food as much as the adults.  

I made these cupcakes into mini cupcakes.  They are moist and have a slight hint of apple behind all of the spiciness.  The center is filled with dulce de leche and then topped with a vanilla cream cheese frosting. I still really like cupcakes.  Maybe cupcakes are as lame as an apple party for a five year old but, I am going to say I am still a fan.  I have been making mini cupcakes lately because you don't need a massive cupcake every night but, there is nothing wrong with indulging in a mini.  All the fun and flavors packed into a mini package.  They taste great and well they are just so cute.
caramel apple cupcake 
with dulce de leche core and vanilla cream cheese frosting
cupcake adapted: martha stewart

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 sticks butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cups brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce

1 can dulce de leche

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. 

Whisk together flour through cloves in a medium bowl; set aside. 

Cream butter and sugars on medium-high speed in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in eggs. Mix in applesauce.

Add flour mixture; mix, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until just combined.

Fill lined cups halfway with batter; bake until tops are springy to the touch, 18 to 20 minutes (15-18 for minis). Remove from tins; let cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove a core from center of cupcake and fill with dulce de leche.  
Frost cupcakes.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract in large bowl until smooth. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

caramel kit kat cookie

Halloween is coming.  We still have Easter candy ... no lie. I am going to use up all of the Easter candy before the Halloween candy arrives.  I could just throw it out but, it is still good and I like to prepare my body for the October sugar rush and calorie fest.  It is really just the only nice thing to do.  I don't want to shock my system.  I have not looked at the Easter candy in awhile.  In my head I had a ton of twix bars left.  I was all set out to add 2 sticks of butter and 2 cups of sugar to the lonely twix bars and make twix gooey butter cake.  I like butter.  When I got Carter seated at the table to unwrap the candy I realized I did not have twix bars I had kit kat bars and I did not have more then 1 cup chopped.  I had my mind set on twix.  I wanted the caramel, cookie and milk chocolate.  Instead of running to the store I made do with the kit kats while explaining to Carter sometimes really good things can be discovered from mistakes.  Inside I was thinking these cookies are going to suck.  Well we were both pleasantly surprised.  The cookies were so good.  They are a bit crispy on the edges but, so soft and chewy on the inside from the caramel bits.  Now I have another cookie recipe for all those lonely Halloween kit kat bars.

caramel kit kat cookie
source: sweet flours

2 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped kit kat bars
1 cup caramel bits
1 cup milk chocolate chunks

Preheat oven 325°. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients to the sugar mixture and beat at low-speed just until combined. Gently stir in the kit kat chunks, caramel bits and chips.  Scoop dough onto silpat lined baking sheet and bake 15-18 minutes.  Let cookies cool on sheet as caramel may have oozed out a bit (yum).

Monday, September 19, 2011

cinnamon and sugar doughnut muffins

This month of the secret recipe club I was assigned the blog Shugary Sweets.  Aimee is the author of Shugary Sweets and I immediately felt like I connected with her from her bio and recipes.  She is a mother of four, married to her best friend and loves to make family friendly fare.  Her blog sucked me in the day I was given the url and I have since followed it every day.  It is that good.  I honestly could not decide what to make because there were so many recipes I now have marked.  When I thought I had decided she would throw things out there like pumpkin scones and pumpkin cupcakes with maple frosting.  You should truly go check out this blog if you like cooking and baking family friendly food. She has everything from snacks, to meals, to treats, to sinful over the top delights.  Thank you Aimee for letting me bake from your blog.

Aimee has a recipe for cinnamon breakfast muffins on her blog.  We do at least one big family breakfast on the weekends and I knew that these would be the perfect sweet treat to accompany the eggs and bacon.  Brad got home from surfing and said the house smelled insanely good.  When he took a bite he said the smell did not lie these were bananas.  Well he didn't say bananas but, I wish he would say things like that some time.  Aimee said they freeze well and I planned on freezing half but, no luck all 20 were gone in 24 hours.  These are so delicious, simple and the kids helped which always makes my time in the kitchen more fun.

Happy Monday and thank you Shugary Sweets and Secret Recipe Club for a fun month.

cinnamon and sugar doughnut muffins
adapted: shugary sweets

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted
Mix 1/2 cup sugar with shortening until well blended. Add egg.

In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg. Add flour mixture alternately with milk to the creamed mixture. Beat well after each addition.

Lightly grease mini muffins tin. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-18  minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool to the touch.

Melt remaining stick of butter. In separate bowl, mix remaining sugar with cinnamon. Roll baked muffins in butter, coating thoroughly, then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

apple rice krispy treats

I am going to be THAT mom this year.  The mom I wished I was last year but, I was too busy working to be that mom.  I am going to do super fun things with my kids.  I am going to be full of energy, amazing ideas and lots of awesomeness. We will be crafting, baking, exploring, learning, solving world hunger,speaking another language, helping others, and all that jazz.  Totally the basic stuff moms should be doing with a 4 year old and a 2 year old.  No biggie.  I wanted to start the school year showing Carter how great I was by letting him bring a non-organic, sugary, red dye filled, candy studded treat for snack.  We made these together and basically rocked the week 1 back to school snack.  He loved them and we had a great time making these together.  See I am that mom and I am totally awesome.  Well at least for the first week of school. 

apple rice krispy treats

6 cups rice krispy cereal
1 bag of mini marshmallows
4 tablespoons of butter
1 package red jello (strawberry or cherry)
red food coloring
small tootsie rolls
green gummy candy

Melt butter and marshmallows.  When melted add jello and mix thoroughly.  You can add red food coloring at this point if it is not the desired shade of red.  Turn off heat and add the rice krispy cereal.  Coat the rice krispies in the marshmallow mixture.  Using a cupcake scoop take a scoop of the mixture and form a ball with hands.  Set ball on a silpat lined baking sheet.  Continue scooping balls.  The mixture should make approximately 2 dozen.  When the balls have set for a few minutes take your thumb and make an indentation in the top and fit a tootsie roll in the depression.  Cut green gummies into leaf shape and press against the tootsie roll.

southwestern cobb salad

There really is no reason for a recipe when it comes to a salad.  I have to document the salads that pass standards at my dinner table or I will forget the combination of vegetables that my husband allowed to pass his lips.  I may have cracked the husband salad code.  If it has lots of tasty hearty toppings (read bacon, avocado and cheese) and each bite is filled with various flavors it works.  The salad has to have enough heft to it that it does not require him to make a sandwich 20 minutes after I finish the dishes.  Wait why isn't he doing the dishes?  Oh yeah he is bathing the kids.  I like to give him a hard time but, I actually prefer him to stay out of my kitchen. 

This is an easy week night meal that you can have on the table in less then 30 minutes.  The dressing is light and spicy with a hint of sweet.  Even though it has lots of yummy topping it is actually light so, it keeps the health conscious happy as well.

southwestern cobb salad
adapted: cooking light

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil

3 slices turkey bacon
cooking spray
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper
8 cups torn romaine lettuce
1/2 cup refrigerated fresh pico de gallo
1/2 cup diced avocado
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled queso fresco
1/2 cup corn (~1 ear)
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained


To prepare vinaigrette, combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add oil, stirring constantly with a whisk; set aside.

To prepare salad, cook bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Wipe pan clean with paper towels. Increase heat to medium-high. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until done.

Place lettuce in salad bowl. Start adding toppings in lines side by side.  Drizzle vinaigrette and toss.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

spice cake with maple frosting


My alarm went off at 5:00 this morning.  I dragged myself out of bed in the pitch black.  Quietly making my way into the bathroom not to disturb the house.  Teeth brushed, hair in pony tail, gym clothes on and as I tip toe out of the room I hear from deep under the covers ... "Happy Anniversary I love you".  Even at 5:00am it is the first thing on his mind and that is why I made this spice cake with lots of love.  Eight years ago today we got married and cut into a spice cake.  We have had a lot of spice in our lives over the past eight years and I feel as if this anniversary symbolizes the start of the next chapter of our marriage and family life.  We have lots of exciting and scary changes coming up this year but, I know that together we will weather all the change and come out for the better on the other side.  Tonight we are going out to a nice dinner to celebrate the past 8 years and the many more to come.

The great thing about spice cake is there are so many variations and I have not found one I do not like.  My love of spice cake started with the spice cake from the Betty Crocker box and has progressed to layer cakes from scratch.  That alone shows how much I have grown over the past eight years.  At the start of our marriage making a cake from a box would have been totally homemade in my mind.  Last year I made this beautiful spice cake but, with the trip to Mexico in October and dinner out tonight I opted for a lighter version from Cooking Light.  The cake doesn't have as much rise as I would like but, the cake is moist and perfectly spiced.  The frosting tastes like the glaze on a maple bar (yum)!  It is very sweet which balances with the warm spiciness of the cake.  You have to work fast with the frosting as it sets up quickly.  You can always add a tablespoon of water or cream at a time to loosen the frosting up.  It does not seem like a lot of frosting but, as I said it is very sweet and a little goes a long way.


spice cake with maple frosting
adapted: cooking light

Bakers Joy Spray
9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash of ground cloves
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (plus additional tablespoons for thinning)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon butter
Dash of salt
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 2 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted (optional decoration)


Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare cake, coat 2 (8-inch) round metal cake pans with bakers joy spray.  Weigh or lightly spoon 9 ounces flour (about 2 cups) into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 9 ounces flour, baking soda, and next 4 ingredients (through cloves), stirring well with a whisk.

Place 1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter in a large mixing bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until combined. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.

Bake at 350° for 24 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 5 minutes on wire racks. Invert cake layers onto racks; cool completely.

To prepare frosting, place 1/2 cup brown sugar, heavy whipping cream, maple syrup, 1 tablespoon butter, and dash of salt in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, stirring just until sugar dissolves. Cook 3 minutes, without stirring. Scrape brown sugar mixture into a bowl. Add powdered sugar; beat with a mixer at high speed 2 minutes or until slightly cooled and thick. Beat in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Add a tablespoon or water or cream one at a time to thin frosting if needed. 

Place 1 cake layer on a plate. Spread about 3/4 cup frosting evenly over 1 layer; top with second layer. Spread remaining frosting over sides and top of cake; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons pecans. Let the cake stand until frosting sets.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

frosted zucchini spice cake cookies

I am a goal setter.  I don't like to fail.  Give me a goal and I will do everything I can to achieve that goal.  Since my entire family dislikes 90 percent ofa ll fresh fruits and vegetables I have placed a CSA box challenge upon myself.  

The goal consists of this:
1.) No fruit or veggie left behind.  Everything must be finished.
2.) One new fruit or vegetable preparation each cycle.
3.) Get the family to at least eat or taste one item in the box.  

Things were going really good this cycle.  Number 2 and 3 were checked off early on.  I checked the refrigerator Tuesday night to see what we had left.  There it was just one lone zucchini.  The zuke was taunting me.  I knew I could easily saute it and serve with the crab cakes that night but, no I could not make it easy on myself.  You give me one zucchini and I spit on the traditional saute.  I spend (aka waste) an hour of my life googling zucchini recipes.  There are so many uses for zucchinis and after seeing that I was actually sad I only had one zuke left.  I did not have a lot of needed ingredients on hand so, I went rouge.  I made up my own cookie because it is after labor day and I really wanted to start using pumpkin pie spice.  White pants gone and pumpkin pie spice in.  May be a good thing with my love of fall baking that white pants are away.  

These cookies are more like cakey (is that a word) then cookie.  They are soft and moist but, much more cake then cookie.  The zucchini balances well with the spices and then the thin layer of spicy frosting is just yum.  I had a back up desert for the kids because as I said they hate vegetables.  I put some green sprinkles on top to disguise the green flecks in the cookies.  Guess what ...  It worked.  The kids loved these.  Carter asked what kind of cookie it was.  I certainly could not tell him zucchini so, I turned the tables.  What kinda of cookie do you think it is?  He pondered and said "a yum yum cookie".  Done.  Yum yum it is.  Bring on the pumpkin, bring on the spice, the caramel, and the apples fall baking is on.

frosted zucchini spice cake cookies
source: sweetflours

1 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1/2 cup vegetable oil (*could sub 1/2 unsweetened applesauce)
1 cup grated zucchini (~1 medium)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2  tsp baking soda
1/4  tsp baking powder
3/4  tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
2 cup flour


2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Grate zucchini.  Take a paper towel and blot the grated zucchini to remove some moisture.

Whisk egg until light and fluffy. Add oil, sugars, zucchini and vanilla. Mix well.

Make a well in the center of mixed dough.  Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Mix well.

Drop onto baking sheet lined with silpat. Bake for12 minutes or until edges start to turn golden brown. Cool completely.

For the frosting cream butter and cream cheese. Add vanilla. Mix in powdered sugar until the right consistency. Add pumpkin pie spice. Frost cookies.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

mini chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes

Do you ever get envy?  Food envy?  Envy when you are at a restaurant that after you read and reread the menu you end up ordering something that does not look nearly as good as the meal sitting across the table?  Not only does it not look as good it does not taste as good.  You sit there and eat your blah looking meal while your friends raves about her dish.  Not even sharing a bite and now you are wasting calories on this crappy meal. 

When you read food blogs you start to notice a breakout dessert.  Everyone is baking it, raving about it and claiming it is mind blowing.  The pictures of said break out treat are gorgeous and literally make you want to lick your monitor.  These chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes made the rounds months ago.  While everyone was making these I was making other cupcakes but, they never looked as good as these.  I was envious of those cupcakes but, I never had the time to make all of the components.  I had some naked cookie dough truffles in the freezer so, I knew with one piece made I could finally make these.  The image that has danced in my head for months would finally come to fruition.  I made these as mini cupcakes which I think worked as they are over the top sweet.  The cookie dough is a nice little surprise when you bite in but, I honestly liked the unstuffed cupcakes better.  See look at me making it easier for you to make a version of these.  Don't have envy just go make these ... today.


mini chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes
adapted: annie eats

cupcakes (24 mini or 12 large): 
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4  cups light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tbsp. milk
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

mini chocolate chip cookies
mini chocolate chips
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line mini muffin pan with paper liners (24 total).  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar.  Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir together to blend.  Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl on low speed, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing each addition just until incorporated. Blend in the vanilla.  Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners.   Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To fill the cupcakes, cut a cone-shaped portion out of the center of each cupcake.  Fill each hole with a chunk of the chilled cookie dough mixture.

To make the frosting, beat together the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until creamy.  Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Beat in the flour and salt.  Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until smooth and well blended.

Frost the filled cupcakes as desired, sprinkling with mini chocolate chips and topping with mini chocolate chip cookies for decoration.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

banana zucchini and flaxseed muffins

I keep hearing people talk about all the zucchini they have.  Their garden is either bursting with zucchini or their neighbor just dropped off a large zucchini which apparently is like 10 pounds because they can make like 10 different things with it.  I don't have a garden and if any neighbors have gardens bursting with zucchini help a girlfriend out and drop a squash off. I do belong to CSA and I did get 5 average size zucchinis but, I would not say I was overwhelmed with zucchinis right now.  I can't decide if I am jealous of the people with ridiculous amounts of zucchini or annoyed.  Either way I was happy to get my five.  I used one average sized zucchini for these muffins.  I had to do a fine shred to hide the beautiful green strands which should show in the muffins.  The disguise worked.  Both kids and husband devoured these.  I was planning on freezing some for when the zucchini season was over and people stopped dropping them off on my doorstep but, they were finished in two days.  Sounds like great news for a mom who has two kids that don't eat vegetables let alone food at all.  It is good.  What is not good is what the flax does to a little body.  Lets just say the kids are definitely regular.  And on that note ... enjoy!

banana zucchini flaxseed muffins
source: everyday food

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1 cup lightly packed light-brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated zucchini (from 1 large zucchini)
1/3 cup mashed ripe banana (from 1 large banana)
3/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat 12 standard muffin cups with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, flaxseed, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add zucchini and banana and stir to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, egg, and vanilla. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir until combined (do not overmix).

Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let muffins cool completely in pan on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.
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