Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Homemade Toffee Candy

I used to be a candy junky.  Yep, junkie.  I would eat it all the time.  I mean like every day.  It was definitely excessive. 

This wasn’t just in my teen years, it was just like a couple years ago.  One day I realized, maybe this is too much.  So I stopped eating it all together.  I guess you can say I quit candy.  I went from one extreme to the exact opposite.

After a few months of going cold-turkey on candy, I started to enjoy it again.  I wouldn’t eat it all the time, just randomly here and there.  And up to this day, whenever I do have a piece of candy it’s like a sweet reward.

Now that my candy cravings are back and I’m enjoying it more, I can’t help but make some myself.  I've made pate de fruit (fruit jelly candies), caramel candies, homemade peanut butter cups, caramel lollipops, butterscotch, and now toffee.  

Toffee is a great classic candy.  You mostly see it with melted chocolate and some type of nut.  I wanted to change it up a little and just make the hard toffee candy part, without any extra additions.  

Without any extra chocolate or nuts, the toffee candy really shines.  It’s buttery and truly melts in your mouth. 

This candy would be a great addition to any Christmas gift basket, or dessert table.  Place it in a cute bag tide with a red bow, and you’ve got yourself a beautiful and tasty homemade treat.  


Monday, November 28, 2011

Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream

I have been in a really weird procrastinating mood.  I have items on my baking list that I have planned to make for a couple weeks now.  For some reason I keep pushing them back and back, and you know what, I still haven’t made them!  I don’t know what’s come over me.  Maybe it was Thanksgiving and all the baking and cooking that comes among with it.  Or maybe it’s the planning and preparing for Christmas season that has gotten me to procrastinate all my other plans.

Well, enough is enough, I’m baking those items today!  

Even with all the procrastinating that happens, it doesn’t mean I don’t bake.  I just don’t bake the items on my “Things I want to bake” list.  What happens is I see an item I want to bake and I bake it.  Instead of looking over my list and then bake from that, I just bake from what I just found in a book, magazine, or online (or thought up in my head).  These Vanilla Bean Buttermilk and Nutella Cupcakes are an outcome of when that happens.

I was looking through one of my favorite cake books, Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes, when I saw this amazing looking Vanilla Buttermilk Cake.  I knew I had to make it right then.  So I did.  Except I made a few changes and made them into cupcakes topped with a Nutella Buttercream.

The result was an extremely fluffy and springy cupcake that rose so much that the tops of the cupcakes ran over.  The taste was incredible, the texture was incredible, but they rose wayyyy to much.  So I scratched that batch and made a whole new one.  Don’t worry, I didn’t waste those cupcakes; I’m turning the crumbs into cake lollipops!

I tweaked the recipe by lowering the baking powder, and only filled the cupcake liners half way.  The outcome was a perfectly risen cupcake!  The flavor and texture stayed the same, with the look being more appealing.

I topped the cupcakes with a nutella buttercream, which added a nice slightly chocolaty touch.  Then I sprinkled some white chocolate sprinkles on top to add a bit of crunch.

This cupcake is definitely one that I going to bake much much more!  It’s a great fluffy base that will go with every flavor.  I can’t wait to play around with it more and add Christmas flavors, like peppermint, marshmallow, cranberry, and pistachio.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Mine was great!

I started my day baking this wonderful Baked Oatmeal for breakfast.  It was delicious and I really want to show it you.  I will be posting it soon :)

Then I went straight into baking and cooking for our Thanksgiving meals.  Luckily I prepped Wednesday so I wouldn’t have too much to do on Thanksgiving day.  About 4 hours in the kitchen and I was done.

The rest of my day was filled with family gatherings and eating delicious food.  I can truly say that I stuffed myself.  From the stuffing to the sweet potatoes to the pies, I ate it all!  And it was good!

After coming home from such a long day all I wanted to do was sit in bed, watch TV, and write.  And that’s exactly what I did :).

With Thanksgiving over, preparation for Christmas is in full swing.  Christmas decorations are going up, Christmas shopping is getting done, and Christmas parties are getting planned.

Because of this I want to start off the Christmas season with a simple and tasty cookie recipe.  Cookies are a great way to say Merry Christmas, and are a wonderful addition to a Christmas gift basket.

These cookies are filled with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and pecans.  They are a spin on your traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe with the same gooey chocolate chips, but with the addition of butterscotch chips and chopped pecans. 

The texture of these cookies are soft and fluffy on the inside, with the slightly crunchy exterior.  The chocolate and butterscotch chips add a gooey inside, with the pecans adding a crunch element.  

This is just one of many cookie recipes that I want to show you during this Christmas season.  Along with cookies, I have some tasty Christmas themed desserts planned :).


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mini Pumpkin Pies with Cranberry Pecan Crumble

Happy {Early} Thanksgiving! 

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I’m SO excited!  Are you?!

Thanksgiving has always been a big day for my husband and I.  We go to 3 Thanksgivings – Almost like that movie, Four Christmases {with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn}! 

4:00pm - First we go to my Dad’s family’s side, with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins.
6:00pm - Then we go to Steve’s side, with just his parents and sisters and brothers.
8:00pm - Ending the night with my Mom’s family’s side, with my aunts, uncles, cousins, and more!

It’s a looooong day.  It’s long but I love it.  I love being with family, and I love eating good food.  Both of those things in one day sounds pretty good to me :).

Even though Thanksgiving is not at our house, I still help out and bring different dishes to each gathering.  Here is what I’m making:

Cranberry Sauce with Apples, Lemon, Dried Cherries, and Pecans
Brown Butter and Coconut Milk Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Arugula Salad with Carrots and Spinach Pesto
Roasted Nuts, Mixed Olives, and White Bean Hummus for Appetizers 
Apple Pecan Pie (I’m making 2, One is a Gluten-Free version) 
Cranberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes
Handheld Apple Pies (Except I’m making them even smaller!)
And this Pumpkin Pie with Cranberry and Pecan Crumble that I'm showing you now!  Instead of making mini pies, I am making 2 large pies, one being a Gluten-Free version.

I’m getting a head start and starting to prepare everything today.  That way when I wake up tomorrow morning I just have to pop some things in the oven and finish off a few dishes.  I want to be prepared as possible.  I don’t want to end up rushing and finishing just before we have to leave.  {Even though this always happens.  Why? Why? Why does this always happen?  No matter how much I prepare, I’m always baking and cooking up to the last minute.  Are you the same way?}

Before I go I want to show you a quick recap of some Thanksgiving recipes that I've posted:
Pumpkin Sponge Roulade Cake {Gluten Free}

No blog post tomorrow, but I’ll be back Friday with a tasty cookie recipe.
After Thanksgiving is when the count for Christmas begins, and cookies are a wonderful way to celebrate the Christmas season :).  

I hope that you have a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful Thanksgiving!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Parmesan Bread Rolls

Last week I was lying in bed and all of sudden was overcome with sadness.  Nothing bad is happening in my life.  My husband, my family, my work, my baking, everything is going great!  But you want to know what got me sad?  Before I say it I am going to preface it with this: Don’t think I’m weird, I am who I am.  

I was sad because I thought after Thanksgiving I was no longer going to be able to bake and cook with pumpkin.  I know, I know, don’t judge.  Haha.

I thought that if I baked with pumpkin after Thanksgiving that people would think I’m out of place.  Christmas begins after Thanksgiving, and that calls for Peppermint, Ginger, and Eggnog.  Not Pumpkin.  

So as I was lying in bed in sadness, I thought, Is anyone really going to care if I bake with pumpkin.  No.  Is it just me who thinks weird things like that?  Yes.   So as long as I have pumpkin in my cupboard (which will be a long time, I have tons and tons of cans), I’m baking with it!

I might not post all of my pumpkin creations because I don’t want you guys to get sick of it (and of me!).  But I’ll still sneak a few in here and there :).  

But since I have a few days before Thanksgiving comes and pumpkin is still expected, here I give you Pumpkin Parmesan Bread Rolls.

This recipe caught my eye for 4 different reasons:

1)   Pumpkin, Of course

2)   Parmesan, One of my favorite cheese

3)   A no-yeast, quick bread

4)   The perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table

I love bread that you can whip up quickly, especially when you are busy and don’t have a lot of time.  It took me no more than 10 minutes to create the dough, and within no time I had a warm dinner roll right in front of me.

I loved the flavor and texture of these rolls.  They were fluffy, with just the right denseness.  They had a subtle pumpkin flavor that was complimented by the tangy parmesan cheese.  They tasted great on their own as a snack, and as a compliment to breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  And of course one of the best ways to know you made good tasting bread, that isn’t dry and tasteless – You don’t need to spread butter or jam on it.  

If you’re looking for a quick bread roll for Thanksgiving, that doesn’t compromise taste or flavor, this is it!  

Stay tuned tomorrow for the last Thanksgiving recipe I have to show you.  It’s sweet with all the flavors of fall in one small treat :).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Apple Pecan Pie

This is going to be a good week.  

1) My husband Steve is finally coming home, after being gone for almost 3 weeks – Which is almost a lifetime for us.

2) Thanksgiving is this week, which means family gatherings and eating lots and lots of food.

3) I get to pull out the Christmas decorations (which we really have only 3 things because we’ve never had a real house until now) and go shopping for newer decorations.

4) I have some incredible recipes that I’m really excited to show you.

Lately, I have been craving to make an apple pie.  A traditional, no-frills apple pie.

For some reason I always tend to gravitate to the more unique recipes.  I love the traditional recipes, but I also like to change it and make things more un-traditional and unexpected.  So the traditional recipes always fall to the wayside.

Well last week I got such the urge to make that apple pie that I got up immediately and made it.  Except {to my usual tendencies} I made a slight change :).  Instead of making a complete apple pie, I added pecans to the mix.  

So, I created an Apple Pecan Pie – A flaky, pie crust filled with a mixture of sliced apples, chopped pecans, sugar, and few extra ingredients, topped with a crumb topping.  

I loved the additions of the pecans to this pie.  It added an extra crunch that balances the soft texture of the apple filling.  

The pecans also add an extra fall touch to this pie.  Two fall flavors in one – apples and pecans.  And if you can’t decide between an apple pie and a pecan pie for Thanksgiving, why not make a combination of both?  An Apple Pecan Pie :).

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