Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins- and -my FIRST GIVEAWAY!

These are so fantastically awesome, I'm considering buying a case of pumpkin to keep around all year, just for these muffins. I found these on Annie's Eats. She has some really awesome recipes on there, and I often check her site to see what other rockin things she's posted! Fall is here, Thanksgiving is Thursday, it's high time that I broke out the pumpkin. These are so delicious! The ONLY thing I change next time would be to add some finely chopped toasted pecans to the sugar mixture on top. But I just love pecans. A minor plan a head is the cream cheese mixture- I made that the night before and put it in my freezer, got up the next morning and made the muffin batter. Worked wonderfully!

That being said- Muffins are Awesome, Giveaways rock!

CSN has offered me a $35 gift card to one of my most awesome readers!! I LOVE CSN, you can get just about anything there! CSN is comprised of over 200 online stores, where you can find everything from a counter stool for your kitchen to a baby crib or a new pair of shoes! Seriously! The first time I visited I was SHOCKED at the amount of items they carry! Talk about one stop shopping!

* CSN ships to US and Canada only.

To Enter this Giveaway You'll Need to Do This: (leave a comment for each of entry)
1. Follow Me! (via Google on right)
2. Leave a comment on this post.

3. Post about this giveaway on Facebook, link back to this post.

Giveaway ends December 1st @ midnight EST. A winner will be randomly selected and I'll contact you via email.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins Printable
VIA: Annie’s Eats

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil

For the topping:
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp. flour
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log. Place into the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours, over overnight. It’ll be fine.

To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use. *Next time I’d add finely chopped toasted pecans to this mixture for some extra oomph.

To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. (It may be hard to resist immediate consumption, but the cream cheese filling gets very hot!)

Store in an airtight container. Makes 2dzn.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Caramel Cream Coffee Treat

So this really is more along the lines of an anytime treat vs just a 'coffee treat'. Cause really, for as simple and delicious as these are, you'll want to make them an anytime treat and not restrict them to just coffee time. Or if you're like me and found a new love for coffee. Then you find yourself drinking coffee 3-4 times a day. It's iced. It's delicious. I make them at home, so it's not killing my pocket book. Then every few hours is coffee time and you can eat these then. Until you realized that you've eaten 6 of them and your pants all of a sudden feel tight, and you wonder where you found the energy to scrub the kitchen floor with a toothbrush. Sugar, caffeine high. Glorious.

That was flighty. On to the recipe.

Caramel Cream Coffee Treat printable
(adapted from Pillsbury Best Bake-Off 1996)

1 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ c chopped pecans
⅓ c dark corn syrup
¼ c melted butter

2 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
½ c powdered sugar
2 T butter, softened
3/4c coconut

2 lg cans of Grands (or similar) flaky biscuits

Oven to 350. Parchment lined 9x13.
In a bowl combine brown sugar, pecans, corn syrup and melted butter. Spread on the bottom of a 9x13 parchment lined pan evenly.
In a small bowl combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and butter until smooth; stir in coconut.
Separate the dough in to 16 biscuits. Press or roll each until approx a 4” circle. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the cream cheese mix in the center of each one and spread within a ¼” of the edges. Roll up length wise. You want a nice amount of the cream cheese mixture in the center of each. Place SEAM SIDE DOWN on the brown sugar mixture in the 9x13. Continue until filled and you’re out of biscuits. It’ll be a tight fit.
Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes or until a deep golden brown. Cool 3-5 minutes and invert onto your serving platter. It’ll be gooey and delicious. Careful, it’s hot. I really liked these cooled as well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Black, White and Peanut Butter Brownies

These started with a box. My husband was so shocked when I told him. I told him not to tell anyone at work. ;) I've been to the library because it's been cold out- and I voted to add funding- I'd better use it. Anyway that led me to the cookbook section. I walked away with no less than 9 cookbooks to rummage through. I got this (and the next one I'm posting) out of an old Pillsbury Bake Off cookbook. I really love those type of books. They're often created from home chefs who know what works ... I like to think those books are like blogs are today. On to the recipe.

Black, White and Peanut Butter Brownies Printable
adapted from Pillsbury Best of the Bake off Cookbook 1996

1 (9x13size) fudge brownie mix
1/4 c water
1/2 c oil
2 eggs
1/2 c chopped pecans
1c semi sweet chocolate chips
1c white vanilla chips
1 c of peanut butter chips or candy coat

2 c powdered sugar
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
4 T hot water
1/4 c butter, melted
1 t vanilla
1/2 c chopped toasted pecans
Oven to 350.
Pam or parchment a 9x13. In a large bowl combine brownie mix, water, oil and eggs. Don’t over mix- approx 50 strokes. Add in 1/2 c chopped pecans, chocolate chips and vanilla chips. DON’T add the peanut butter candy coat yet. Spread in pan.

Bake at 350 for 28-35 minutes or until center is set. Remove from oven. Melt peanut butter candy coat until smooth and spread over the top of the brownies. While that cools mix the frosting.

In a small bowl, combine all frosting ingredients except the pecans and beat until smooth- it’ll be thin. Pour that over top of the cooled peanut butter layer, spread to cover. Chill an hour and 1/2 or until completely cooled.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

So, I randomly enter contests. Cause, ya never know what you might win right!? I've occasionally won some really cool stuff,(shake and bake with a gift card!) and some stuff that makes you go 'huh'. But it's all equally exciting!

However- my cool win of the month (a $50 CSN gift card) from Beyond Kimchee! You must check her out. Her photos are awesome, and a delight to read.

I just put 'delight'. I might as well put 'super dooper'.

I've never shopped @ CSN, but I've heard good things! I'm pretty excited for it!

On a cooking note: I've got some brownies cooling and my MOST AWESOME husband is working on my DIY Lowel lights. I'm hoping for some cool shots soon!

Thanks again Holly! :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mini Mint Brownies

My kids and I were deciding what to do that day. I was plowing through recipes trying to figure out what would be easy enough for my two little helpers. Came across these from Our Best Bites . Some seriously adorable stuff on that website. Anywho- we got to making them- Jackson (my oldest @ almost 4) was a super helper putting all the little liners in the mini muffin cups. While Nicholas was awesome at stirring up the chocolate that we melted. They came out pretty darn tasty! My boys quickly devoured the ones that they stuck their fingers in (can't send those to work with Daddy! ) they were a hit here. I think that these are pretty adaptable. I can see peanut butter frosting with dark chocolate drizzle, red PEPPERMINT frosting with a dark chocolate drizzle and crushed candy canes on top. Almost endless possibilities!

Mini Mint Brownies
adapted via Our Best Bites

4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate (4oz)
1 C butter (2 sticks)
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 C flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c mini semi sweet chocolate chips

3 1/2 C powdered sugar (give or take for your consistency)
4 T butter, softened
4 T shortening
1/4 t mint extract ( I would up this to 3/4 t next time)
1-2 Tbs milk (give or take for your consistency)
green food coloring

Chocolate Glaze:
6 oz (about 1 cup) Nestle dark and mint chips -limited edition!
1 Tbs shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a mini muffin pan with mini muffins liners or- go all natural. (In my opinion I prefer the liners- I think they help keep fresh if not serving same day)

Chop both unsweetened chocolate and two sticks of butter into chunks and place together in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until just melted and smooth. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally.

With an electric mixer or stand mixer beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla for 2 minutes. While egg mixture is beating, measure out flour and combine with baking powder. While mixer is running, slowly add melted chocolate and beat to combine. Turn beater speed to low and add in flour by spoonfuls. Mix just until combined. Pour batter into prepared mini muffins and bake for 12-16 minutes or until a toothpick poked in center comes out clean.

Cool completely on a metal rack. When brownies have cooled to room temperature, prepare frosting. Combine all frosting ingredients, starting with 1 1/2 tablespoon of milk, and beat until light and fluffy. Add more milk by teaspoonful as needed. Add frosting to the mini brownie bites as you’d like. A large star tip is will work fine-or a cute little swirl with the back of a knife is adorable too.

While brownies are chilling prepare chocolate glaze. Place chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon of shortening in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until just melted and smooth. Take a fork and drizzle across the icing. And you will enjoy minty goodness.

Makes 50 mini brownies.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chocolate Pound Cake - sorta

I have a few blogs (okay many) that I find myself navigation towards. Eliana of A Chica Bakes (not really a blog but a full .com operation) is one of them. I find myself getting absorbed in her posts and forget that I was there to check out a new recipe. She is one of a few that I know has checked out my blog on more than one occasion - and she's super sweet with her comments. Which all of us bloggers know is really what tickles our fancies. While I have several of her recipes bookmarked to try- this Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake of hers has been on there for a while. Now, I must admit. I goofed it up. Let's keep it real- not everything that comes out of our kitchens are photo perfect. Even when I'm lucky enough to catch what I think is a picture perfect photo- I snap back into mediocrity at it's finest. But I keep trying. It's what I need to do. I bake for myself, my family, my blog and my husband's coworkers. And I also bake for my gym membership. Sigh. That went off into left field and I'm not editing it. It's what you get.

So I baked this beautiful loaf. And it smelled nice. But I failed. Here's a few things that went wrong. 1. I sprayed my pan with Pam. Plain old Pam. I hardly ever do this. I usually Baker's Joy it at minimum. 2. I used a loaf pan that I think was too big- like a 9x whatever vs an 8. I think that lead me not to have that really pretty crown on top as well. 3. Most importantly because of 1 (and some of 2) my loaf broke. The bottom stuck so bad the the pan- when I tried to scrape it out, I pulled up some of the finish. I just tossed the pan. I'm lazy like that.

So I'm left with 2/3 of a tasty yet, ugly loaf. It left me wanting 2 things. 1. The ability of getting it right the first time. And 2. those adorable mini trifle cups- ya know what I'm talking about- these. I've seen them everywhere lately and I will have them soon. My son's 4th birthday is the end of this month- is it wrong to get me a present too? (don't answer that- he won't go without!)

So I used my regular custard cups- or they might be mini prep bowls. They're versatile in any case. I whipped up a box of french vanilla pudding and layered it with this yummy pound cake. Dessert tonight.

Thanks Eliana for the recipe! I'll make it again when I have all my wits about me.

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake
Adapted from: A Chica Bakes (via The Art and Soul of Baking)

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup (8 3/4 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon water, at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (5 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of Salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature
3/4 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a loaf pan with butter, generously.
Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light, fluffy and almost white in color - roughly 6-7 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. In a small bowl, combine water and espresso powder until smooth. Crack the eggs into the same bowl and mix to blend. Add vanilla. At medium speed, add the egg mixture to the butter mixture about 1/4 cup at a time. Allow each addition to completely blend before adding the next and make sure to scrape down the bowl after each addition.
Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and lightly whisk to combine. With the mixer on its slowest speed, add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated finishing with a rubber spatula by hand. Add the mini chocolate chips and fold just until mixed in.
Scrape the batter onto the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes - until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely over a rack before slicing and serving.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins with Pecans

I was in a little funk. Simply overwhelmed by what I wanted to make. Then I spotted these. They gave me what I was looking for. Deliciousness. They were simple to put together, and had that good MUFFIN texture. Not the cupcake delicate crumb. These babies gave me a moist, hearty crumb that was a nice mix of flavor. Not an overload on any one thing. I would usually bake these in liners- but opted to go all natural. I almost wish I hadn't sent them to work with my husband this morning. I kinda miss them.

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins with Pecans:
adapted slightly via For the Love of Cooking

* 1/2 cup of butter, softened
* 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
* 2 large eggs (or 3 medium eggs)
* 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 large)
* 1 tsp cinnamon
* 1/4 cup buttermilk
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 2 1/4 cups of flour
* 3/4 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp salt
*1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
* 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a muffin tray with cooking spray.

Beat the butter at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. Slowly add the brown sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each one.

In a separate bowl, stir together the mashed bananas, cinnamon, buttermilk, and vanilla. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in another bowl; add to the butter mixture alternately with the banana mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended after each addition. Do not over-beat. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tray, filling two thirds full. Sprinkle the pecans over each muffin evenly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from pans immediately, and cool on wire racks.

Makes 1 dozen. Store tightly in an airtight container for best freshness!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'm having a hard time.

So I'm sitting here, blowing through my list of recipes I haven't made yet. And I'm overwhelmed! I'm slightly leaning towards something banana. Just because I have some bananas in the cabinet that are starting to turn. But then that brings me to: banana muffins, banana bread, banana cupcakes. Or- I can flip to something that has nothing to do with bananas- those can be frozen. So then that leads me to the new bag of milk chocolate/peanut butter chips I got the other day. Or the toffee bits that are sitting up in the cabinet.

So, if anyone has heard of anything that sounds amazing. Drop me by a line! I'm stuck.