11.24.2013

2013 Thanksgiving Recipe Round-Up!

.  You've probably seen your fair share of recipe round ups across the blogosphere as of late.  But guess what?  It's that time of year.  So you can't blame us.

And obviously bloggers have your best interest at heart.  We all know how hectic and absolutely crazy the holidays can be.  So why not list out some of our biggest hit recipes for you to easily pick out goodies that will surely wow your family and friends?  The holidays are all about the food, so you gotta bring your 'A' game.

So whether you're looking for some quick fixes or perhaps something a little more elaborate [a 'labor of love' piece is a must], here are several of my favorite recipes perfectly suited for the Thanksgiving bustle.  

This will be my last post before the big Thursday feast, so I hope you all have a beautiful day with your loved ones.  Eat lots and be thankful for everything around you!  Love you all!  .


11.18.2013

Secret Recipe Club: Salted Caramel Butter Bars

.  I can not even believe that this is my last SRC post for 2013.  Where the heck did the year go?! How is Thanksgiving less than two weeks away and Christmas is right on it's heels?  Whew, someone please slow time down.


But luckily my last 2013 SRC assignment, Making Memories with Your Kids, is chalk full of mouthwatering recipes to choose from, both savory and sweet.  So the only problem I had this month was choosing which one recipe to feature in this post.  Things like Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake, Apple Fritter Bread, and Peanut Butter Snickers Cheesecake Brownie Pie were a-callin' my name.  But I can vouch that each and every person who came within striking distance of these bars didn't have an ounce of complaint.


But really, what's there to say?  With a combination of gooey, sticky salted caramel and buttery, [buttery,] crispy, shortbread/sugar cookie layers, you can't go wrong. 


I realize it all sounds quite simple but more often than not, keeping it simple gets you the most absolute best treats.  And these Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars did not disappoint.  Not. One. Bit.


I can't rave enough about the buttery goodness of the shortbread crust and crumble topping.  Seriously, delish.  And the layer of sweet, gooey caramel in between makes it all come together.  And like I said before, the addition of the sea salt adds a lovely touch making this a unique baked goodie.  No one can resist the sweet and salty combo!  Plus, these babies scream Christmas/holiday cookie bar, so I couldn't have whipped these up at a better time!


Anywho, this sure was a fabulous way to end my 2013 SRC run.  So thank you, Erin, for an inspiring, easy recipe that I couldn't wait to share!  

Happy baking, everyone!  .

My Notes:
  • The original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of sea salt.  I stopped with half because I personally don't like too much salt, so I went the cautious route.  If you want more of a salty kick, stick to the full tablespoon.
Adapted from Making Memories with Your Kids

Ingredients:
Shortbread Crust/Topping:
2 c. butter, at room temperature
1 c. sugar
1-1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
4 c. all purpose flour

Salted Caramel Filling:
1 (14 oz.) bag caramels, unwrapped
1/3 c heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp. sea salt

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 325°F.  Grease a 13x9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. For the crust, in a large bowl beat together butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract and on low speed beat until smooth.  Slowly add flour and beat until combined.
  3. Spread half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan and pat down with fingers to make an even layer.
  4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Set aside to cool while making the filling.
  5. For the filling, place caramels into a medium saucepan with heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract over medium heat.  Stir mixture until smooth and caramels are completely melted.  Pour caramel over the cooled crust.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Crumble the remaining dough over the caramel.  
  6. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until filling is bubbly and top layer is golden brown.  Let bars cool completely before cutting to serve.
Yield: 2 dozen bars

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11.11.2013

A Recipe Contest/Giveaway and Flakey Cran-Apple Hand Pies

.  I'll be honest.


Couldn't be any more excited about this giveaway.

I've done a number of Lucky Leaf giveaways that include a package of goodies for myself and in turn, I bake up a recipe using the Lucky Leaf products and basically write a review.  So whether I like their pie fillings or not, you guys are getting the honest truth.  Fortunately, I've fallen head over heels for their pie fillings and will [most likely] never use another brand again.  They got me hooked.


Well for this giveaway, one of you is getting my most favorite package to date but also have a chance to enter the Lucky 13 Recipe Contest!

Without getting into too many of the details [who needs those?], the Lucky 13 Recipe Contest basically entails using [at least] one can of Lucky Leaf's pie fillings, the entire recipe must only take one hour, and...that's it!  Just come up with something creative and fun using their scrumptious product and YOU could win the grand prize of of $2,500!  I'd say that's a hefty payment for a pan of bars.  Or whatever it is you decide to make.


Unfortunately, I didn't read closely enough about the one hour limit, so this here Flakey CranApple Hand Pie recipe won't be making it into the contest as planned.  Dang it.  Because I'm really excited about these.


One could always use a store-brought pie crust to cut the prep time.  But to substitute for the homemade, flakey crust recipe I have here just wouldn't be the same.  The shining star [in my humble opinion] couldn't be replaced by Pillsbury.  Sowwy.

I realize this comparison is probably a baking sin and Laura from Tutti Dolci [source of the original recipe] would cringe if she read this, but for relatable purposes I'm going to say it.  The crust and filling combination of these hand pies strongly resembles a gourmet Toaster Strudel.


Gah, I'm sorry.  I said it.  But who hasn't had one of those stuffed pastries?!  And dang it, they're good!

But these hand pies are even better.  Not even on the same level actually.  But the flaky, peel-away-layers reminded me of those breakfast treats [minus the icing].  So I had to say it.

And now that I've spurred your creativity, get in that kitchen and bake up some goodies with Lucky Leaf pie fillings!  Oh, but you don't have any pie filling, you say?  Well then!


Enter a comment below telling me what you would bake up for the contest [if you were to enter] and I'll choose a random winner that will receive a Lucky Leaf package containing a can of Lucky Leaf pie filling, a ceramic pie bird, a recipe card, and and two pie slice boxes with forks.

Uh, awesome!

So get thinkin' and commentin', you have until December 2nd, to enter my contest as well as the Lucky 13 Recipe Contest.

Happy baking!  .


My Notes:
  • These hand pies are best the day they are made, but just keep them tightly covered when you're not snackin' on them and they'll keep for a good number of days.

Adapted from Tutti Dolci

Ingredients:
Flakey Pie Crust:
1 c. cold unsalted butter, divided
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 c. flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Large pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
3 to 4 tbsp. cold water

Filling:
1 (21 oz.) can pie filling (your choice)

1 large egg
1 tbsp. water
Turbinado sugar

Directions:
  1. In a small bowl, grate 1/2 cup of butter.  Cut the remaining 1/2 cup of butter into cubes and place in small bowl as well [keeping separated].  Place in freezer for 15 minutes to chill as well as buttermilk.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Sprinkle cubed chilled butter over flour mixture and cut in butter using a pastry blender or fingertips until the biggest pieces are the pea-sized.  Fold in grated butter.  Drizzle buttermilk over mixture and using a spatula, gather dough until it forms clumps.  Add tablespoons of water, one at a time, and gently knead dough to form a ball.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and flatten slightly to form a disc.  Refrigerate dough for 1 hour or up to 2 days.
  3. Heat oven to 400°F.  Grease two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper.  Whisk egg yolk and water in a small bowl to create an egg wash; set aside.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, rotating dough after each stroke.  
  5. Use a pastry wheel [or cookie cutter] to cut out 2-inch squares.  Place half of the squares on the prepare baking sheet and brush with egg wash.  Place one scant teaspoon of pie filling onto crusts.  Cut two slices into the remaining crusts and use to top the pies.  Seal edges with a fork.  Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Repeat with scraps and remaining half of dough.
  6. Bake 16 minutes or until pies are puffed and golden.  Transfer to wire rack to cool.  Repeat steps with scraps and remaining half of dough.
Yield: 2 dozen hand pies

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11.04.2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake Cookies

.  It has been quite some time since I've published posts within days of each other.  The Fall/holiday baking season must be getting to me.  It's too hard to resist.

But first things first.  I did have a Musselman's Giveaway a week or so back and it's about time I announced the winner of the Apple Butter, decorative bread carriers, and a Fall Musselman's recipe card!


And the lucky winner is... Drum roll pleaseeeee....

WHITNEY!!

Congralations girlie, and now all you must do is wait for your Musselman package to arrive!  Thanks again to the readers who participated, I absolutely love these giveaways and it's such a joy to share them with you all.  Until next round!


But hold on, don't leave.  Because we're about to get into these cookies.  Ones that I couldn't wait to post.  Because a combination of soft, fluffy pumpkin cake cookies studded with mini chocolate chips, and topped with a classic buttery glaze, is just too dang good not to share.  I can't keep all of these addicting goodies to myself.


But what I was truly excited about is the source of this recipe.  I nabbed the original Old Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies from Ms. Jamie over at Life as {Emma's} Mom.  But Jamie isn't just some random blogger who I happened to stumble upon.  Nope, we actually went to the same high school in good ol' Woodbury [but she's a couple of years younger than I am].  And although our paths never crossed too often, the bloggosphere [and social media] has seemingly brought us together.


As her blog name may indicate, Jamie is a loving mother to her beautiful daughter, Emma.  And even though I don't know her precious mini me personally, it has been a joy to watch Emma grow up via [Instagram] pictures and videos.  And now that Jamie has her blog, I've also been incorporated into another passion of hers: cooking.


I can't tell you how many times I've come across the mouthwatering pictures of the dinners and treats Jamie makes for her daughter and fiance.  First, it makes me wish I lived closer so I could randomly stop by.  And two, I'm hoping Robbie never wisens up and realizes what he's missing out on.  I may need some cooking lessons...

But the moment I glanced at these pumpkin cookies, they were 'pinned' and moved to first on the list for my next baking day.  And the second these babies were out of the oven [and glazed as fast as humanely possible], all of my beliefs about Jamie's cooking/baking were confirmed.  I'm hooked.


These cakey cookies are absolute heaven.  So soft and pumpkin flavorful that you'll be coming back for way too many.  If there even is such a thing.  A perfect fix for those Fall-spices cravings we all get!

Happy baking!  .

My Notes:
  • Jamie's original recipe didn't include mini chocolate chips.  So if you're not feeling those, leave them out.  Trust me, you'll still get a delectable cooke you won't be able to get enough of.
  • This may test your patience, but be sure to let the cookies cool completely before glazing.  Otherwise the glaze will drip right off!
  • For festive purposes, Jamie also added some food coloring to her glaze to get that orange pumpkin feel.  I'm boring and left the coloring out, but have fun with it!
Adapted from Life As {Emma's} Mom

Ingredients:
Soft Pumpkin Cookies:
2-1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 large egg
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/4 c. mini semisweet chocolate chips

Classic Glaze:
2 c. powdered sugar
3 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease 2 baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
  2.  Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, in a medium bowl.  
  3. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until combined (about 1 to 2 minutes).  Beat in egg, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract. until thoroughly combined.  Gradually add in flour mixture just before thoroughly combined.  Gently fold in mini chocolate chips.
  4. Drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets.  Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm.  Remove from oven to wire rack to cool completely.
  5. For glaze, in a medium bowl, beat together powdered sugar, milk, butter, and vanilla extract until smooth.  Glaze cooled cookies as desired.
Yield: 30 cookies

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