TWD Baking with Julia: Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

.  What a crazy month.  And I can't believe it's literally over.  Halloween is just around the corner!

It's been such a busy month that I almost forgot this TWD post was even due!  Good thing I caught myself.  And good thing for you because I experimented a bit and came up with a fun, festive, scrumptious biscotti.  Enter: Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti.

For the month of October, we actually have three recipe options to choose from.  But due to time, I decided to go with the last post due for the month, which was a Recipe Rewind.  This meant that the TWDers got a second chance to make a recipe that got bypassed in earlier months.
Fortunately I'd managed to sneak in most recipes that I was eager to try, but one did manage to slip by: Hazelnut Biscotti.  Now really, who would ever substitute something for hazelnut?  Because nine out of ten times, I wouldn't.  But I've found it rather difficult to find a large number of hazelnuts in this stinkin' town, so for simplicity's sake I went with another option.  Cranberries and pistachios.  I was a little unsure of the combination at first, but mmMmMMMm!

I absolutely adore the sweet and salty flavors in this biscotti, which isn't too overly sweet nor plain tasting.  However, next time around I'll add a white chocolate drizzle because 1) it's pretty 2) I do like my biscotti a touch more sweet and 3) because I can.  So there.  How festively holiday would that look though?!  Right?  Right.
So head on over to Homemade and Wholesome or Baking with Boys for the Hazelnut Biscotti recipe.  And if you decide to go my route, check out my notes below for the measurements I used. 

And be sure to check out the other TWD members' posts, they're always a good time!

On to November!  .

My Notes:
  • Instead of using the hazelnuts, I used a scant 1/3 cup of both the pistachios and cranberries.  Depending on your preference, you can add or decrease this amount.  Also, don't be afraid to try any combination you like.  Get crazy!
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Apple Butter Monkey Bread and a Musselman's Giveaway!

.  And the giveaways keep on comin.'

How fun, huh?!  And you can only thank yourselves because the more support and views LSM receives, the more opportunities I get to share some wonderful products with everyone.  Win-win situation if I do say so!

So what do I have for you today?  Well, you guessed it.  Apple Butter*.  But not just any apple butter paired with just any recipe.  But Musselman's Apple Butter paired with a caramelly mixture poured atop fluffy cinnamon-sugar biscuits.  A.k.a a caramel apple-like Monkey Bread.  GAH!

But maybe I should back up a bit and give you some deets [that would mean details in my world] about how this all started.

About a month ago, I received an e-mail asking if I'd like to receive a kit from Musselmans filled with a surprise kitchen gadget, a jar of apple butter, and various recipes using the infamous product.  Uhh, heck yeah!  I mean really, who wouldn't?

I received my lovely package in the mail and so here we are.  Baking away with Musselman's.

I'd actually never used apple butter before aside from the one time I bought some from a local farmer's market and proceeded to make cheesecake bars.  But not gonna lie, my bars were just average. Nothing really special, hence, I never made them again.  So going into this project I was probably a bit skeptical.  Shame on me.

Like I said previously, this monkey bread is pure heaven.  And you would never guess that this immaculate creation took a whopping 10 minutes to put together.  No joke.  Impressive, flavorful, and a sure crowd pleaser.  Couldn't ask for much more, right?!

So now that I've gabbed away about how wonderful apple butter truly is and that monkey bread is a must-make recipe [especially for beginner bakers or anyone in a rush], let's get into this giveaway.  Remember that package I received?

And just to recap, here's what you'd receive:

1 jar of Musselman's Apple Butter
3 recipe cards (I received Monkey Bread, Apple Butter Marinade for Chicken, and Sweet Potato Apple Butter Casserole)

So all you have to do to get a chance to win this fun and unique package is leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me about your favorite apple butter recipe.  Simple as that!  You have until November 11, 2012, to make your entry, so why don't you go ahead and just enter now?  And like most giveaways, you can gain additional entries by following Musselman's on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  Just be sure to leave extra comments for each one you do.

So now that you've entered this delicious giveaway, and I know you're drooling from these pictures, head on over to Musselman's recipe page for the Apple Butter Monkey Bread recipe as well as other apple butter recipes!  

Get bakin'!  .

*For those of you who don't know what apple butter is, it's very similar to [but thicker than] apple sauce but has a much deeper flavor and color.  It's a non-dairy product typically used for spreading on toast or baking.  You can typically find apple butter in the jam/jelly aisles of your grocery store. 

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Secret Recipe Club: Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

.  Before I get into this delicious, Fall-ey oatmeal.  I have to ask.

Have you entered my giveaway?  If you haven't, do it now.  If you have, then keep reading ☺

And now for the even better stuff: SRC.  Yep, it's that time again!

For October, I was matched with Debbie Does Dinner...Healthy & Low Calorie.

Uh oh...

As we know, LSM isn't exactly about cutting things out, particularly butter, sugar, you name it.  More is more in LSM terms.  Right?  Right!   But the moment I started browsing through Debbie's recipes, I knew there wouldn't be a problem.

To breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert, Debbie has it covered.  I had my eye on a few things, including [Slow Cooker] Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup, Cuban Quesadillas, and Pumpkin Sloppy Joes [because that just sounds interesting!].  Too bad I don't rarely cook!  I may have to try that slow cooker recipe though, even that can't be too difficult for me.

Anywho, after much debate, I settled upon this Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal because 1) I'm obsessed with anything pumpkin, 2) it's Fall, and 3) breakfast items = my faaaaavorite.  Even though I rarely eat breakfast.  Ironic.

I whipped this recipe up in a jif one morning before Robbie left town for work.  I figured he needed a good send off to the airport and we're both pumpkin lova's, so this was a no brainer.

The dish is rather hearty, with a texture somewhat similar to bread pudding.  And the spices, pumpkin, and oatmeal all marry together in a matter of minutes to create a wonderful morning treat.  From the reviews on Debbie's blog, everyone kept saying the pecans really made the dish. And lo' and behold, they really did!  That little crunchy nuttiness really brought everything together, so don't you dare leave them out.  Unless you have to.  Get me?

Thanks Debbie for the wonderful and healthy breakfast recipe!  Until December!  .

My Notes:
  • Unfortunately I couldn't find any small containers of apple cider [and I knew a big gallon of it would go to waste] so I ended up using apple juice instead.  However, as you'll notice by the ingredients list, this dish is more on the sweet side and so I think the apple juice added just a tad too much sugar.  I think the apple cider would have a much deeper note [if that makes sense], so if you can, stick with that!

1 c. pumpkin puree
1 c. apple cider
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. honey
2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-3/4 c. old fashioned oats
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. pecan halves

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease an 8x8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, apple cider, eggs, milk, honey, maple syrup, butter, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract until smooth.  Stir in oats, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  
  3. Pour into prepared dish and sprinkle with pecan halves.  Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until set.  Serve with maple syrup or honey.
Yield: 9 servings


My First...Shabby Apple Giveaway!

.  Wha, wha?!

Yes, you read that right my loyal readers.  LSM is having it's first giveaway!

Not gonna lie, I've held out on this for a little while waiting for a somewhat special reason to actually give something away.  And it took just a bit but we're finally here...

LSM reached 200 followers!!

Okay, maybe not a big deal to you but I've been watching that little counter slowly tick it's way on up.  And with each and every follower, I still get that happy feeling.  Fellow bloggers, I'm sure you know what I mean.  I've said it before but I'll say it again, I can't tell you all enough how much I appreciate it when you stop on by.  It's why I do this, right?!

So to thank you all appropriately, I'm taking a stab at my first giveaway!  So let's get into this giveaway because I'm oh-so-excited about it and I know you will be, too, once I fill you in on exactly what I'm talking about.

Let's start first with Shabby Apple.  Cute name, huh?  But what is it, you ask?

Shabby Apple is an online store filled with an endless number of feminine apparel "...that is artful in design and crafted with a vintage-style flare."  Shabby Apple is owned and operated solely by the ladies [sorry guys!] and they also make donations to women to aid in starting their own businesses.   Pretty neat?!  I vote 'yes.'

The website offers a full gamut of women's clothing and accessories, including [but not limited to] dresses, blouses, jewelry, swimwear, and even a maternity line!  Seriously, too. dang. cute.  Just take a gander at this small selection of Shabby Apple pictures, their clothes are ultra unique, affordable, and stylin'!

So now that you've had a chance to click around Shabby Apple [right??] and picked out your favorite item [riiiiiiiiight??], you're all set for my big giveaway!  So what am I giving away, dang it?!

Well, $75!!  Yep, I'm handing over $75 to you to spend at Shabby Apple on whatever you please!  I'd say that's a pretty good deal.  Free money?  Sign me up!

ALL you have to do to enter the contest is leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me what your favorite Shabby Apple dress or item is and....that's it!  [Oh, on a side note, you must have a U.S. mailing address to be eligible].

You can also tweet this giveaway and/or like Shabby Apple on Facebook, which will give you additional entries.  Just leave an extra comment telling me that you did either or both.  Easy peasy.

The contest will be open until Sunday, October 28, 2012, and at that point, I'll randomly select the winner and announce the person soon thereafter!  We'll get to the nitty gritty [i.e., mailing address] once I select the winner, no need to worry about that now.

So how fun is this?!  Because I'm pumped.  So start browsing through Shabby Apple, leave a comment, and tell your friends!  Can't wait to announce the winner!!  .

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Spiced Apple Cheesecake Coffee Cake

.  I don't know what the deal-io is but the next few weeks seem have to gotten quite jam packed. Not only do I have a number of posts I need to get cranked out but let's throw in some extracurriculars [more to come on that], work events, and a local art event I've been asked to bake for [I know, I was shocked, too].

So we're just going to get right into this recipe because let's be honest, I have some other things I need to get to.  But I didn't want to leave you guys hanging for several days without a scrumptious Fall recipe.  Heaven forbid, right?

First, I absolutely adore this coffee cake.  Three names [i.e., spiced apple ; cheesecake ; and coffee cake] means three different layers in one breakfast goodie.  And calling this a breakfast item makes me chuckle, but hey, we'll take what we can get!

Let's start with the first layer: the coffee cake.  The cake has a wonderfully tight crumb, sturdy enough to hold the second layer of cheesecake yumminess.  And the cheesecake itself is uber creamy, topped with a deliciously thick layer of sauteed apples.  And I mustn't forget the delectable autumn spices strewn through each and every layer of this treat.  Seriously, overflowing with the flavors of Fall, including cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Take it all in.

Not sure how much you'll be hearing from me in the next couple of weeks but I definitely have some fun updates for you.  Well, at least I think they're fun updates.  Until then!  .

My Notes:
  • For my apple topping, I used a mixture of tart Granny Smith's and sweet Golden Delicious apples.  I loved how the two flavors complemented each other, but feel free to use whichever apples you'd like.
Adapted from Scientifically Sweet

Apple Topping:
1-1/4 lbs. tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. all purpose flour

1-1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 c. evaporated milk

  1. Heat oven to 325°F.  Lightly grease an 8x8-inch pan with non stick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. For topping, fold together apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Heat butter in medium sized saucepan over medium heat until butter browns and has a nutty aroma.  Add apple mixture and toss until soften but not mushy (about 3 to 5 minutes).  Remove from heat to cool until ready to use.
  3. For cheesecake, beat cream cheese in a medium bowl until smooth and creamy.  Add sugar and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until smooth and sugar is mostly dissolved (about 40 seconds).  Beat in cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves until combined.  Add egg yolk and flour and beat just until incorporated and batter is smooth.  Set aside until ready to use.
  4. For cake, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium sized bowl.  In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and light brown sugar until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Beat in vanilla extract until combined.  Add egg and beat until well incorporated and batter is fluffy.  Add 1/3 of flour mixture and beat on low speed until mostly combined.  Beat in half of evaporated milk until blended.  Repeat with remaining flour and evaporated milk and beat for a few seconds until batter is smooth.  
  5. Spread cake batter evenly into prepared pan.  Spoon dollops of cream cheese mixture over cake batter and use the end of a knife to swirl the cheesecake mixture into the batter.  Gently spoon apple mixture over cheesecake layer.
  6. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until cake only wobbles slightly in the middle.  Let cool completely before serving.  Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
Yield: 9 large servings

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Pumpkin Harvest Cookies

Did the name of this post catch your attention?  Well I guess if you're reading this it must have, right?  I've been working on honing my creativity but it's still a bit lackluster.

Anywho, did you enjoy reading my post about my recent trip to Washington?  I hope so.  I absolutely love sharing tid bits about my life with you all [no matter how boring I may be] since 99% of the time all I'm reeling out is baking recipes.  I'm trying to bring back a healthy balance here.

So what do I have for you today?  Well basically, if these cookies aren't screaming Fall to you then I'm not really sure what will.  For reals.  These cookies are amazing little mounds of tender, moist, spiced pumpkin cookie dough, chock full of hardy oats, roasted almonds and hunks of milk chocolate.  Oh, and did I forget to mention the browned butter?  My. Goodness.  You intrigued yet?

And they're an absolute cinch to whip up, so I can bet that your friends and family will be begging for more.  I know my coworkers were! 

Happy weekend everybody!  .

My Notes:
  • I opted to use milk chocolate chips this time around but I do think semisweet chocolate would be just as [if not more] wonderful.  I felt like the milk chocolate flavor was a bit lost in all of the spices but my coworkers completely disagreed.  You can also use mini chocolate chips if you don't prefer big chunks.  The choice is always all yours, but just wanted to throw the options out there!
  • I used a scant tablespoon of dough per cookie but next time i think I'd use even more because I like my cookies a bit bigger.  Also, the cookie dough doesn't spread at all during baking, so if you like flatter cookies then I would slighty press down on them before placing in the oven.
Adapted from Bakers Royale

1-1/4 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 c. quick cooking oats
3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1 c. pumpkin puree
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Scant 3/4 c. milk chocolate chips
Scant 3/4 c. roasted almonds

  1. In a small bowl, combine old fashioned oats, quick cooking oats, and flour; set aside.
  2. Place butter in a medium skillet and cook over medium heat until butter turns brown and has a nutty aroma, ocassionally swirling the butter in the pan using the handle.  Remove from heat and let cool while preparing the dough.
  3. Heat oven to 350F and grease baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or use parchment paper.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, and egg.  Add browned butter mixture and mix to combine.  Add in baking soda, mix to combine, and then add in flour mixture until combined.  Fold in milk chocolate chips and almonds.
  5. Place scant tablespoonfuls of dough onto prepared  cookie sheets.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies appear set.
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

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Tasty Bites in Washington State

I mentioned last week that I was headed to Washington State to help my daddio out with the Tasty Bites trailer at the Central Washington State Fair.  Remember?  Okay.  Well what I may not have mentioned is that the majority of my relatives live out there as well, so I was not only being a great daughter [wink, wink] but also getting to spend some time with my wonderful cousins, aunts, and uncles.

I'm fairly certain I've discussed my relatives with you before, but just for remembrance sake, we can talk a bit more about them.  Sadly, most of my life has been spent halfway across the country from my family because we moved to Minnesota when I was only 8 years old.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore Minnesota and the life I had there, but one can probably agree there's no replacement for family.

Also sadly, I never made the trip back to Washington to visit quite as often as I would have liked.  You know, life gets in the way and what do you know, 10+ years have passed by.  But it seems that I'm trying to make up for lost time this year, what with the reunion and now this more recent trip.  I jokingly told one of my cousins that I'd seen her more in the past month than I had in the past 15 years!  Not joking either.

Anywho, I had an absolutely whirlwind of a time this last weekend with all of my relatives and even got to see more of them than I expected because [being the supportive, tight knit family we are] several of them traveled to Yakima just to see my dad and help out!  See?  My family is amazing.  And I also got to live out some of my greatest childhood memores at the State Fair, too, which is always a beautiful thing.

As you can probably tell, there was more than enough that went on this weekend that I wouldn't  be able to explain in words that you wouldn't eventually get bored by.  So like usual, I'm chronicling my weekend adventures via pictures.  They're much more exciting and will keep your interest that much longer.  Or at least I hope so.  I obviously couldn't include every picture that both myself, my dad, and relatives took, but I tried to get in as many as I could.
Here we go!

Had to start this picture frenzy off with the cutest thing I saw all weekend: Oliver.  He's the newest addition to our family, my cousin's first born, and could he be any more adorable?  Nope!

My first shift at Tasty Bites this last weekend was with my beautiful cousins.  They are absolutely wonderful, genuine people and have always been ladies I've looked up to.

Me and the pops!  Love this man for all he is and everything he passed on to me.

Told you I'm obsessed.  He was in my arms whenever he was within five feet of me.  Okay, maybe I exaggerated.  But that's still fairly accurate.

Remember how I said that I got to relive my greatest childhood memories at the fair?  Well, that there dear friends, is one of those great memories: the Elephant Ear.  If you've never had one of these cinnamon-sugar-butter-ladened fluffy pieces of dough, then you ain't living.  L.I.V.I.N.G.  Oh, and PHOTOBOMB!!

Another one of my fair traditions is gawking at the beautiful horses.  I've always had an admiration for them since before I can remember.  So if my parents didn't let me see the horses at the fair, pouting ensued.  I think I only visited the horses 7 or 8 times this last weekend.

One of my favorite guys ever.  That's Christopher and before the family reunion, the last time I had seen him was when he was a wee little tike.  My how time flies!

The fair actually had some pretty neat exhibits.  The picture of the tiger is of Sheena and she's only 15 months old.  How beautiful is that creature?  She slept most of the day but while we were walking out late one night after shutting down, she was up and I got to snap a great picture of her.  In a way I do feel bad for her because no tiger should be living in a cage, but I could write a novel about that.

And then, the fair had a rodeo and horse shows going on all weekend and guess what?!  I got to catch a peak at the bronco riders and bull riders with my Uncle and his wife.  I was truly awestruck, all of the rides were so intense!

Lastly, I must thank each and every long lost high school friend of my dad's, aunts, uncles, and cousins for supporting my dad the way you have.  You'll never know how much you all mean to our family, and of course, my dad, for the encouragement with his venture.  You are all truly a blessing.

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Classically Chocolate Cake for Daniel

.  Unlike my regular posts, which I try to keep upbeat, it is with a saddened heart I write this.

If you've stopped by LSM occasionally, you will know that I participate in a monthly group called the Secret Recipe Club (SRC).  Well a week or so back, the members received an e-mail from one of the SRC leaders explaining to us that Daniel, from The Haggis and the Herring, had unexpectedly passed away, leaving behind his wife, two sons, and soon to be third child.  Further on in the e-mail, SRC members were informed that as a tribute to Daniel, we were all welcome to choose a recipe from Daniel's blog and create a post to air on October 1.  So here we are.

I browsed through the numerous recipes from The Haggis and the Herring and decided upon this lovely chocolate cake, which Daniel's son and wife prepared for his birthday back in 2009.  Nevertheless that this classic, dense, rich, and moist chocolate cake truly is splendid, I'm fairly certain this recipe held a special place in Daniel's heart because his family made it just for him on his special day.  So making this cake seemed fitting.

Obviously I did not know Daniel personally, and in all honesty, I had never visited his blog before this.  But as is probably the case with many of the other SRC members, that tid bit is irrelevant.  Instead, SRC members are illustrating the wonders of the blogging world in that regardless of who you are, we are all supporters of one another.  Though many of us most likely did not know Daniel and his family, we are here now to send our thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathy to those he left behind.

Many of us can not even begin to imagine such a painful time, but then it's times like these when we remember what matters most.  Now that may be different from person to person, but the moral of the story remains universal.  

Take a breathe, take time for those you care for most, and don't ever let them go without them knowing how much you love them.  Sadly, you may not get a second chance.

In his post for this chocolate cake recipe, Daniel expressed his opinion rather simply:

"Jacob and Meredith made me the best birthday cake ever."

So I hope you enjoy this cake as much as Daniel did .

My Notes:
  • Since this is a truly classic chocolate cake, you can let your imagination run wild.  Next time around I may try adding in mini chocolate chips to the cake batter and/or frosting, or you can try some nuts, fruit, or different types of chocolate.  A milk chocolate frosting sounds deeelicious, too!

3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1-3/4 c. all purpose flour
2 c. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 c. milk
1 c. boiling water
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Rich Chocolate Frosting:
1 c. heavy whipping cream
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease 2 9x9-inch pans; set aside.
  2. Combine cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl.  Add vegetable oil and beat to combine.  Add eggs, one at a time, until combined.  Add vanilla extract and milk and beat on medium speed until batter is smooth.
  3. With mixer on low speed, add boiling water and beat until combined.  Pour half of batter into each prepared pan.  Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.  Cool cake completely before icing.
  4. For frosting, in a medium saucepan, bring heavy whipping cream just to a boil over medium heat.  Remove from heat and add chocolate chips.  Without stirring, let sit 5 minutes.  Stir until smooth and let cool 15 minutes.
  5. Place one piece of cake serving platter.  Spread half of frosting onto cake, letting some drip down the sides.  Place second cake on top and spread remaining frosting, also letting some drip down the sides.  Cut and serve.
Yield: 12 servings

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