Friday, September 30, 2011

Pumpkin Scones with Maple Glaze

Did you enjoy yesterday's Pumpkin Latte's? I knew you would! Did you call a good friend over to share with? I knew you wouldn't! After taking a sip, you kept it all for yourself didn't you! Ok, well these you will have to share! This is only my 3rd time making scones. It took me a couple times to get it right. The best scones I even had were at a quaint little coffee shop in a sophisticated area in Kansas City. I wanted to replicate their flavor and texture. I think have have accomplished it! Ok, my friends, Enjoy!
oh ya, to a second batch that I made, I added 1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips!

Paired up with Pumpkin Latte for 2!
Pumpkin Scones with Maple Glaze
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, frozen
3/4 cup pumpkin purée
2 Tbl Buttermilk (or 2 Tbl milk with 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar)
1 large egg
1 Tbl baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Place 1 stick of butter in the freezer about 1 hr prior to making the scones.
Heat oven to 425. In a small mixing bowl whisk together the egg, pumpkin and milk.  In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking powder. With a cheese grater, grate the frozen stick of butter and with your clean hands, mix the shredded butter into the flour mixture until it resembles course crumbs. Stir in the pumpkin mixture and mix until it forms a well-combined dough.
Divide the dough into three equal pieces and pat each one out onto a lightly floured surface. Make each ball into a rectangle about 1" thick. Cut an X into each rectangle, creating 4-triangles. You'll have a total of 12 pieces.
Place the triangle scones on a cookie sheet (I lined mine with parchment paper). Bake for about 15 minutes.

Maple Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbl milk or brewed coffee
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp maple flavoring
1/2 tsp cinnamon

In a small bowl add in all the ingredients and whisk until well combined. Add more milk if necessary. Drizzle over cooling scones.

Happy Fall! Enjoy!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Latte's for 2

Guess what today is...National Coffee Day! I know, crazy huh! Coffee has it's own day. Have you always been a coffee lover? Not me. I have always loved the aroma of coffee beans. But my desire for the rich, bold, hot drink is fairly new. But now, there is something perfect about sitting with someone I love spending time with and chatting over a nice steamy cup of joe!
This recipe is going to make 4 (normal size) cups of Pumpkin Latte or 2 big mugs full! Oh, and I know that the recipe won't use the full 15oz can of pumpkin, and there's a reason for that. Save it for tomorrow's post! Pumpkin Scones with Maple Glaze! You're gonna go crazy over the combo! Pumpkin lattes and pumpkin scones! Amazing!

Creamy, spicy pumpkin lattes for today! And sweet soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside pumpkin scones tomorrow!

Pumpkin Spice Latte (make 4 servings)
4 cups freshly brewed hot coffee
3 cups almond milk (or you could use regular milk)
1 cup pumpkin purée
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (1/2 cup if you like it sweeter)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp vanilla
Whipped cream (optional)

In a small saucepan over medium heat whisk milk and pumpkin purée. Heat until it begins to steam. Whisk in pure maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Mix well.
Pour 1 cup of coffee in your favorite mug, top with 1 cup of the pumpkin milk. Add a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with a little bit more cinnamon!



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pear Walnut Arugula Salad

What can I say, I don't have a clever story as to how I came up with this recipe or why I made it. It is tasty, all the elements of a great salad. Sweet, nutty, crunchy, tangy! Minimal effort! So, no salad story but I can tell you that I went to the Broadway production of  Jersey Boys, The story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, which by the way was as great as I expected it to be! And thus the reason why I don't have a funny story for you! I can't get those songs out of my head! Did you grow up on that music? My parents were teens in the late 60's and early 70's so my whole childhood was growing up listening to music from that era. I can sing more songs from Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Isley Brothers and the Rolling Stones, than the music of the 80's! Just know that as I write and cook and bake these next few days I'll be signing "Beggin", "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", "My Eyes Adored You", and "Working My Way Back to You"! Oh and I've been singing so much around the house that the Warrior thinks "Walk Like A Man" was a song about him and the Princess is singing "Big Girls Don't Cry"! Good times! Life's too short not to sing and dance your way through it!

Pear Walnut Arugula Salad
4 - 6 cups Arugula
1/2 cup roasted walnuts, chopped
1 Bartlett or Anjou Pear, cut in chunks
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 Tbl Grapeseed Oil (or olive oil)
1 Tbl Lemon Juice
1 Tbl Honey

Whisk oil, honey and lemon juice.  In a bowl add washed Arugula and toss with the dressing.  Top with pears, walnuts and parmesan cheese.



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chocolate Carmel Cheesecake

I don't know about you but I need a good laugh today! I've been on Facebook this today and they changed up a whole lotta stuff! I can't find my friends... Shoot...I can't even find myself on there! All this confusion (yes, I'm confused! I am so NOT good on computers!)...confusion and frustration...I NEED a good laugh! Whenever I need to laugh I remind myself of a story from this summer. This summer the Princess and the Warrior took swimming lessons and by the way they Rocked! The Warrior is a total athletic rock star! He's four and can swim in the deep end of the pool by himself! That's not the funny part. One day after swim lessons my little warrior said "mom, did you know my swim teachers name is Yoo-Hoo?" I thought that was an odd name, but responded "Really?". He Said "ya, because whenever I need help I say 'Yoo-Hoo, I need help!'" What a little comedian. Where he came up with that, I have no idea! I remind myself over and over of that story and the more I say it, the harder I laugh! Oh, I feel better! Facebook who? Ha!

If you have time, keep reading, we'll be talking about cheesecake! If not, then just look at the pictures and then come back later!
Ok, cheesecake! I'm going to be honest with you, I have never been one of those "I would die for cheesecake" kind if girls. Sure cheesecake is good, but there are a hundred other desserts I'd choose over cheesecake. Until now! I had this dessert in mind when we had some special guests over for dinner. They are a family that I really respect as well as laugh a ton with! Super neat family! I had to make this good! Ok, but back to the cheesecake. So, I'm not a huge Cheesecake lover but I do have an outstanding Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe that is "Out Of This World" and is a frequently requested dish over the holidays (I promise to share soon). I knew that if I could come up with just the right combination, it could create one rockn' dessert. I started out with making an Oreo crust. Ok, so I didn't have real Oreo's on hand but the all natural Trader Joe's version and I don't what in the world happened, but they were a total BOMB! NOT the bomb but A bomb! A disaster! I should have taken a picture! So, I started over...this time with an original Graham Cracker Crust. Next ingredient... caramel. Carmel whispers fall to me, so I wanted to incorporate a layer of creamy caramel...I just wasn't sure where yet. Chocolate cheesecake? No, basic cream cheese sour cream or anything, just the good original stuff! Then I thought about a rich chocolate ganache topping. Perfect! All the elements of a rich, delicate, luxurious dessert!  I WILL make this again! And I will NOT change a thing! It came out absolutely perfect! It didn't even sink or crack...look! YAY!

See the chocolate and carmel oozing....yummy! I think they'll be back! :)

Sure wish I had better lighting for these pictures...hmmm...

Chocolate Carmel Cheesecake AKA the Best Cheesecake I have ever had in my whole life!
2 1/2 cups Graham Cracker crumbs (13 whole crackers)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar (for crust)
1 pkg caramels, unwrapped
1-5oz can evaporated milk
3-8oz pkg cream cheese, room temp
3 eggs, room temp
3/4 cup sugar (for cheesecake filling)
2 tsp vanilla
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbl butter

Heat oven to 350.  Combine graham cracker crumbs (I grind them in a blender), 1/3 cup sugar and butter. Mix well and press into the sides and bottom of an 8" spring-form pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.
In a medium microwaveable glass bowl add unwrapped caramels and evaporated milk. Microwave for 90 seconds. Stir. Microwave for another 60 seconds. Stir. Continue now in 30 second increments until all the caramel is melted and you have a smooth creamy sauce. Reserve 1/4 cup for later and pour the rest onto the Graham cracker crust. Set in the freezer to set while you prepare the next step.
In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until completely smooth, but do not over mix. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition. Again, mix well but do NOT over mix.
Carefully spoon over the caramel.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 and keep baking for an additional 45 minutes  or until filling is almost set. Turn the oven off but keep the cheesecake in there for 2- 3 hrs.
Remove from the oven and allow to continue to cool at room temperature. Now it's time to make the ganache topping.
Add chocolate chips and cream to a small microwaveable mixing bowl. Microwave for 1 minutes. Stir until melted. Add butter, cut in chunks. Stir until everything is melted and shiny. Pour over the top and allow to drip down the sides. Allow to set a bit then drizzle the remaining caramel over the top.
Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours!

Enjoy and be completely satisfied!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pecan topped Pumpkin Muffins

Good Morning, Fall! There is something about Autumn that is warm and cozy. Even the shades of fall are cozy, the deep and bright hues of orange, red, auburn and even cappuccino browns. I love lighting candles throughout the house with hints of cinnamon, maple and apple. Bundled up for walks and football games. Trips to local tea rooms and coffee shops. Flavors of apple and pumpkin. Cuddling on the couch with nothing on the to-do-list. Unwinding in a warm hot-tub outside in the fresh brisk air. All things comfy and cozy!

If you've been following my blog for a while (ok, It couldn't have been that long because I just started the end of May!) or if you know me, there are two things or really three things that you have learned about me. I am a morning person! I will be happy to see you in the morning, just because I'm not really the grouchy type! Secondly, I love to bake. Last weekend I couldn't find my favorite muffin tin and I about panicked. I realized then, that aside from not being kind to my kids (the princess and the warrior) one of the meanest things you can do to me is hide my muffin tins! Thankfully before anyone got hurt I found it tucked away inside another muffin tin....whew! And lastly, my weakness is muffins. I don't know why, but I love muffins. Especially if they are adorned with any kind of sweet crunchy topping! And I am not a respecter of muffin types, except that they must be freshly made.

So fall and my love for muffins of course ensured the creation of the perfect muffin recipe. And I will stand by my belief that this is the best pumpkin recipe! A distinct pumpkin flavor, well balanced spice, soft and moist texture and crunch top. Definitely plan to make this recipe this week! Then pour yourself your favorite cup of coffee or tea and a great book, magazine or best friend and enjoy the season!

(makes 17 muffins)

1-15oz can pumpkin purée
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Pecan Topping (optional)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 Tbl sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line muffin tins. In a large mixing bowl combine pumpkin purée, eggs, both sugars, oil, and vanilla. Mix until well blended and smooth.
In another mixing bowl combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir a few times, making sure that you scrape the sides and the bottom. When you think you should stir it just one or two more times...STOP! Divide evenly between muffins tins.
In a little bowl combine pecans, cinnamon and sugar. Spoon over muffin batter. Bake for about 20 min.

Burn your fingers trying to peel back the paper to get your first bite because you can't resist the smell anymore and must have a bite now...or wait until the muffins cool down a bit and ENJOY!


Friday, September 16, 2011

Meatball Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ho hum...yes, it's almost officially fall...Ok, that's not fair. I actually LOVE fall. Not as much as I love summer but I do love fall. I love romantic colorful walks at Holmes Lake, I love lunchtime picnics at Pioneers Park, I love all things pumpkin including muffins and bread, I love warm steamy drinks on the front pork in the morning, I love layers with cute boots and jeans, I love chili and hearty soups and oh how do I love football! So, as you can see, I so love many things fall...I'm just not a fan of what comes quickly quickly after fall. Nebraska's Harsh Winters! *shiver*

When I was single my big brother and I were roomies. We had a lot of fun cooking. He actually came up with this recipe but I didn't want to bug him for the official recipe, so I made up my own. And I will have to say, it turned out perfect. This has become one of my families favorite fall recipes. I hope it becomes one of yours too!

Meatball Stuffed Acorn Squash
3 acorn squash, halved and seeds scooped out
1 lb ground beef or pork
1 pkg dried onion soup and dip mix
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
3 Tbls butter
1/2 cup ketchup
couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Heat oven to 350. Place squash halves, cut-side down in a large baking dish.  fill with about 1/2 in deep of water. Bake for 20 minutes.
While the squash is baking, melt butter and add 1/4 cup of brown sugar, mix well.
In a medium mixing bowl add meat, soup packet, red pepper, and parsley. Combine well and divide into 6 equal meatballs.
Combine remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.
After baking the squash for 20 minutes, remove them from the oven. Carefully turn them over so that they are cut-side up. Divide butter drown sugar mixture between them evening, brushing the exposed yellow meat of the squash. Set a meat-ball into the center of each squash. Brush half of the ketchup glaze over top. Over with a lid or foil and bake for 40 - 50 minutes. When they are done, brush the remaining glaze and serve.

I hope you ENJOY this as much as we do!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Coffee Oreo Ice Cream

Good ole Nebraska! Monday it was 90 and today I think they are saying a high of 60 and it will probably get down in the 30's overnight. I thought if I want to try this ice cream recipe, I'd better do it now before it's too late!

Coffee Ice cream is pretty much my all time favorite ice cream! And Haagen Dazs is by far the best coffee ice cream in the world!  Add crunchy Oreo cookies and salty peanut butter...need I say more? Don't count calories on this one people, or carbs, or fat for that matter...just eat it and then go run 5 miles, or maybe 8!

Anyway, why is Haagen Dazs so stinking good? Evidently they add egg yolks to their recipe, which is why it boasts it's creamy goodness flavor. Don't see how eggs can make ice cream taste so good? Well, give it a try and I promise you will see!

Look at the bites of peanut butter, Oreo and the Oreo cream! MMM....

Enjoy My friends! Happy Last Day's of Summer!

Coffee Oreo Ice Cream 

1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
2 cups whole Milk
3/4 cups sugar
2 Tbl instant coffee
5 egg yolks
10 Oreo Cookies, broken into big chunks
1/2 cup peanut butter

Beat egg yolks in a small bowl and set aside. Combine cream, milk, sugar and instant coffee in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until it's just about to boil, it will be steaming. Reduce the heat to medium-low and remove 1 cup of the cream and sugar mixture. Very slowly add the 1 cup to the egg yolks - make sure you go slow and whisk continually until it's well combined. Now pour the egg mixture into the the remaining cream and sugar mixture on the stove. Cook and stir constantly until it thickens and is custard-like. Remove from the heat and strain into a medium bowl. Set a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the mixture and refrigerate until it is cool.
Pour into the ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturers directions. When you're done "freezing" the ice cream, stir in the Oreo chunks and the peanut butter. Pour into a freezer-safe container and place in the freezer for a couple hours until the ice cream is hard or just until you're ready to indulge!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Smore's Cupcakes

Nutrition and a healthy lifestyle is really important to me. It really is, I promise! I know you don't believe me because of all of the heavenly goodness that I am making all the time but I guess that's why I share it with you, because we don't eat it at home. And I must get this creative passion out some where! Anyway, I have been really good. Just "trying" the food that I make and not having one, two or three servings of it. Then we went on vacation! A nice, long, lovely, relaxing vacation. When we went out to eat and I ordered figure friendly items, we went out for ice cream and everyone else was shoveling large dishes of cold creamy goodness with mixed candy pieces into their mouths, I drank ice cold lemon water. I was so good...until we ran across the cutest little cupcake shop! Locally owned...always my favorite choice! I can easily pass up chain restaurants and desserts, but not the homemade stuff! I HAD to enter!!! So, I stood there for probably 15 minutes trying to decide which "ONE" I would get...ok, so I settled on two...but I did share every other bite. Sometimes every third bite, the princess and the warrior were like little baby chicks squawking for more. I had the mama Mia - tiramisu cupcake and the Marshmallow Fondue - a s'mores cupcake. They were both really good, but I honestly think my cupcakes are better! That's the thing about most cupcakes places that I've found. Sure they look cute and the frosting is good? But the cake is bland.
I'm a s'mores girl. Last summer I made s'mores brownies...they looked delightful but I didn't have one, my self control was a little better a year ago. I needed a reason to make my version of the s'mores cupcake. The brownies I had made had a Graham cracker crust...these cupcakes needed one too. On top I knew I had to make this frosting my mom had made for angel food cake when I was a little girl...I didn't remember if it tasted like marshmallow but I remember it being light and fluffy like Marshmallow Creme. And it was a given that I would make MY chocolate cake, I haven't found a better one out there yet!
Anyway, There you have it! Oh, and to top it off I added a chocolate covered Graham cracker to the fluffy white frosting. Mmmmm.... You're dreaming about it now aren't you! I know!

Smore's Cupcakes
4 Graham crackers, crushed
4Tb butter, melted
2 tsp sugar
pinch of Salt
any Chocolate Cake batter, prepared but not baked yet (24 cupcakes)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 dash salt
2 egg whites, unbeaten
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Heat over to 350. Mix together the graham crackers, butter, sugar and salt. Divided evenly between cupcake liners. Press down gently and then bake for 5 minutes. Pour prepared cake batter on top of
graham cracker crust. I use an ice cream scoop to measure out the batter...perfectly sized cupcakes each time! Bake according to the directions for the cupcakes. Cool, of if you're like me...just toss then (gently) in the freezer for faster cooling! 
Now let's make the frosting! Combine sugar, water, cream of tartar and salt in saucepan. Bring to boiling, stirring until sugar dissolves. Very slowly add sugar syrup to unbeaten egg whites in mixing bowl, beating constantly with electric mixer until stiff peaks form (about 7 minutes). Beat in the vanilla.
Once the cupcakes are cool it's time to frost the them. Spoon, pipe or spread fluffy goodness on the cupcakes. Top with chocolate covered graham cracker cookie or make your own. To make your own just separate graham crackers at perforations. Melt about 1 cup chocolate chips or other chocolate in a microwavable bowl for 1 minute. Add 1 Tbl vegetable oil and stir until smooth and shiny. Lay the dipped graham cracker on a peice of waxed paper to set. 

Enjoy my friends!


Friday, September 2, 2011

Easy as Chocolate Creme Pie

So, I am beginning to feel the guilt of the neglectful mother! I know that the last couple of months have been lacking on the fabulous food posts! But I have great reasons why...I have been super duper busy! My MOPs (mother's of preschoolers) year is just beginning and I am a coordinator, so tons of planning and prep goes into that, all of my traveling (as you know), tons of cupcake orders, a Princess' first day of preschool, a Warrior's second year of preschool, soccer practice, playing doll house, races and my new obsession...making aprons. So see, I got lots going on! But I hope that you will forgive me when you try this simply delicious dessert!

So, I had some friends over the other night...very last minute. One of them has been know to say that I am "gifted" in dessert! Ha, He's right! And I couldn't let them down...I didn't have time for some "work of art" but when you're known for your talents you can't just pull out a box of oreo's and store bought ice cream! Ok, sure you can but I didn't want to! So, what do I have on hand...hmmm...pudding...Ok, great, I'll make chocolate creme pie! Oh, but no graham crackers...oh, but I do have chocolate animal crackers....which actually ended up being very fabulous crust, if I do say so myself! So there you have it, add some cool whip and mini chocolate chip and voila...dessert!

Oh and to make it even better! I used sugar free and fat free ingredients! FUN!

Chocolate Creme Pie
4 cups Chocolate Animal Crackers (before their crushed)
1/3 cup sugar
6 Tbl butter, melted
2 small pkg chocolate pudding (I used sugar free)
1 8oz container cool whip, thawed (I used lite)
2 cups milk (I used skim)
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

I put the animal crackers in the food processor to crush them, you do what works best for you. Add the sugar and butter to the crushed chocolate crackers...cookies whatever you want to call them, mix well.  Press them into a pie pan and bake at 350 for 6 minutes. Cool.
Beat the milk and puddings together. Fold in 1/2 the cool whip and 1/2 cup of the mini chocolate chips.  Pour into the cooled chocolate cookie crust. Spoon over the remaining cool whip and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips. Chill for 2 hrs.

Enjoy, kids!