Saturday, October 31, 2009

Easy Pumpkin Spice Swirled Brownies


I saw these on HoneyB’s blog and knew right away I wanted to make them.  When I checked out the recipe it seemed easy enough but to make them even easier I grabbed a box of brownie mix.  I could lie and tell you that I should have made homemade brownies but that would be a lie! The truth is I thought these were great and can’t imagine homemade making much of a difference.  Either way, homemade or boxed give ‘em a try! 


While the kids liked these brownies they were a bigger hit with the adults.  The one thing I really liked about these (besides being ridiculously easy) was that the  pumpkin spice swirl firmed up after the brownies cooled and added some texture to the gooey brownies.  Did I mentioned how easy this was?  Seriously if you use a box mix all you have to do is melt some pumpkin spice Hershey Kisses and swirl it into the brownie batter that you’ve already poured into the pan.  See?  Easy! :)


bakeat350_flavor_smallThis is my submission to Flavor of the Month. Click here to check out this month’s pumpkin round up!




Hope everyone has a safe and Happy Halloween!

Technorati Tags: ,,,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Banana Bread


I’m sure that most of you have a “go to” banana bread recipe but I hadn’t been  fortunate to find one until now.  As a matter of fact I’ve made many an unsuccessful recipe before this one.  Sadly all of my recipe attempts have been over browned and undercooked but not this one.  This one was perfection. 


For months now every time I mentioned banana bread Monica told me about this terrific recipe she had  (She got the recipe from Dawn at Vanilla Sugar.)  and even when Monica told me this recipe converted her from being a banana bread hater I just nodded yeah, yeah and never made a move.  I’m kicking myself now for waiting so long to give it a try.  Learn from my mistakes.  :)


I followed the recipe but baked four mini loaves instead of one large one.  Although I didn’t alter the recipe I did kick things up a notch with two of the mini loaves.  You ready?  I swirled in some left over caramel  from this caramel corn recipe and topped one of the caramel loaves with walnuts!  While the caramel ones were beyond good, the plain ones were also very good so don’t think you have to “supe” this up.  Three out of four loaves were gobbled up before the end of day and the fourth went to our football commissioner as “just because”.


Chocolate Chip Banana Bread 

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
  • 3 tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional) I left these out!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl with an electric mixer or a spoon, cream shortening and sugar together. Beat in eggs one at a time; then mashed bananas, sour cream, and lemon juice.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet mixture, then fold in chocolate chips. Pour into greased and floured 9x5x3 loaf pan. Bake for 60 minutes.

NOTE: If your bread is getting too dark, loosely cover bread with foil. I did this for the last 15 minutes of baking time.


I did have one tiny issue with my bread though it wasn’t due to the recipe.  It was with  my addition of caramel.   My caramel sunk to the bottom and some of it stuck to the pan. (Check out my bottom photo.  I scrapped out the caramel bits and hid them from the kids.  They were THAT good!) My first mistake was swirling it in which gave it a head start to the bottom.  The next time I’ll try layering in the caramel and see if that keeps it from diving straight to the bottom.  I’m not sure I could have kept the caramel from sticking but next time I’ll remove the bread after its cooled 10 minutes and allow it to finish cooling on a rack. My last change……more walnuts.  I added what I thought was plenty but once the bread started baking up I realized it really wasn’t. 





Those of you who have read my blog a few times know that the Twins are super active and play various sports and you may also remember that Babygirl was cheerleading this year. WELLLLL, Devon’s Jr. Midget football team went 8-0 in the regular season!  They were the first team in the FOURTEEN years of our league’s history to go undefeated! As a matter of fact they won their conference in back to back years, another first!  One of the things I may not have mentioned was that Babygirl was cheering for her brother’s team.  WELLLLL, Babygirl’s squad won first place in the Mid-Florida cheerleading competition this weekend!  Not only were they competing against girls a couple of years older than them, half their squad has never cheered before, Babygirl included.  Both Winter Springs Jr. Midgets football team and cheerleaders were winners this season!  Unfortunately, the boys lost their first playoff game but they did have a good run.

Here are photos of my two in their uniforms!

devons football 001 mckenna cheerleading 001

Technorati Tags: ,,,

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rising to the Challenge

DSC02444 Some of you may have seen this post of Coleen’s or perhaps this post of Katy’s.  No? Maybe this one of Katy’s?  Well, a couple of weeks ago in a comment on Katy’s Mall Style Cinnamon Rolls I mentioned to her that I was a scaredy cat when it came to yeast and that my poor children were cinnamon roll deprived.  Worse than deprived,  I made them Pillsbury’s refrigerated canned ones! Sadly my children have really come to like them.  I guess, figuring that was as good as it was going to get.  (Yes, Monica that would TOTALLY stink if I learned to make cinnamon rolls and the kids preferred that canned stuff!)  After reading my comment Katy took pity on the kids, er me and decided to help me conquer my fear of yeast.  She promptly sent an email telling me of her intentions and later emailed again to say that she “talked” to Coleen and they both agreed to help get me past my yeast fears! 


Both of these lovely and generous bloggers have gone beyond the call of duty. They have each taken the time to post easy and doable recipes for me (AND YOU!).  These recipes include tons of photos and clear directions.  Coleen has gone so far as to issue us a challenge to get off our butts, conquer our fear of yeast and get to baking with it!  She knew what she was doing,  not one to let a direct challenge like that pass  I got to baking her Fool-Proof Butterhorns.


For the recipe and some step by step photos click here to see Coleen’s post.  Don’t forget to check out Katy’s two yeast friendly recipes!








Congrats to The Blonde Duck who won my Fall giveaway! Email me your addy!

Technorati Tags: ,,

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tres Leche

DSC02340As many of you know Monica and I are baking our way through Martha Stewart’s Cupcake book. This month’s cupcake choice fell to me and I chose the Tres Leche cupcakes. (Go check out Monica’s little beauties!)

Hmmm, where do I start. I’m trying really hard to be objective but the truth is I wasn’t totally thrilled with these. Martha, me and you can’t be friends if your recipes aren’t working for me!


I wound up making these twice. The first time I halved the recipe and my cupcakes came out hard and rubbery. Okay, no problem perhaps my calculations and measurements were off. I gave Monica a call to see how hers turned and after finding out they were fine I decided to give the recipe another go.


With my second try I decided to make the whole recipe but only bake 6 cupcakes and use the rest of the batter to bake an 8 inch cake. This time around I made certain to beat my egg whites until they were almost stiff (Hi, Donna !!) and they held up when I added the rest of the ingredients. I gave Monica another call and after exchanging notes and photos it appeared that everything went well this time. DSC02329

Except for making a cake along with the cupcakes my only change to the recipe was to slowly pour the milk mixture over the cupcakes and cake instead of brushing it on. I stored the unfrosted cupcakes and cake in the fridge over night so they could hopefully soaking up the last of the milk mixture. I frosted them the following evening with cinnamon whipped cream (I followed Monica’s suggestion and added the cinnamon to the whipped cream. YUM!!) though they never completely soaked up the tres leche mixture.

We ate the cupcakes the night after I baked them and they were surprisingly good. The boys even liked them so much DSC02358they asked if there would be more for tomorrow. I told them yes as I still had the cake. The cake; now the cake is a whole other story. It was a disappointment. The bottom of the cake never really soaked in the tres leche mixture and the top, it soaked in too much and was soggy. If you’ll take a good look you can see in the bottom photo a line on the top edge (which is actually the bottom as I flipped out the cake to frost and serve it.) which was a rubbery hard eggy “crust”.


Would I make this again? Yes, just probably not this recipe and at this point I’m not even sure Martha and me can continue our friendship. I’ve made 5 recipes out of Martha’s cupcake book and three out of the five have been a disappointment. Could it be me? Possibly but I’d like to think not as it seem to only have trouble with her (cupcake) recipes. If your looking for the recipe you better mosey on over to Monica's and I’m not even going to suggest buying the book. The majority of the recipes can be found online.



Check out this post and be sure to tell me what’s your favorite fall recipe and kitchen gadget to win one of my favorite gadgets.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Snickerdoodle Blossoms

These are  the first “cookies” I’ve made in YEARS if you don’t count the pizzookies. They are most likely the closest thing to cookies you’ll see on here, too.  While I like cookies they aren’t my favorite which is probably why I think they are a lot of work for just a little payoff.  


I first lusted after these beauties when I saw them on Monica's blog but it was seeing Denise's version of them, baked up in a mini muffin pan that gave me the final push to make them.  I suppose with my love of all things snickerdoodle-y, it isn’t a huge surprise that this would be the “cookie” to get me out of my “no cookie baking” funk.   :)


I know a few of you (April & Megan) are already thinking about what you are going to put on your holiday cookie tray this year and I think these should be considered.  They really aren’t difficult and they are VERY good!


Snickerdoodle Blossoms 

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 48 milk chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped

Heat oven to 375°F.

Combine the 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar and butter in large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Add egg, vanilla extract and salt; continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking soda. Beat until well mixed.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. If dough is too soft, cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour. (Don’t be lazy like me, refrigerate the dough! It makes it much easier to work with!!)Combine the 1/4 cup sugar and ground cinnamon in a small bowl. (On the 2nd batch I mixed some turbinado sugar with cinnamon and rolled the dough in it. I loved the crunch it added.) Roll dough balls in cinnamon sugar mixture.

Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.* Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until very lightly golden brown. Immediately press 1 chocolate kiss in center of each cookie and sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar over them while they're still warm. (Duh, I forgot to sprinkle my 1st batch but did the 2nd.  In case you’re wondering the 2nd batch tasted better!) Remove from cookie sheets; cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes 4 or 5 dozen.

DSC01862*Instead of the cookie sheets I put the rolled dough into a Pam sprayed mini muffin pan.  I won’t tell you how long I baked mine as I didn’t do a very good of job rolling my dough into a 1 inch size or even getting them all the same size.  I also like my cookies very soft so I took them out as soon as they looked done to me.   I think you’d be fine using Monica’s bake time for the regular cookies.


If you haven’t checked out this post you’ll miss out on a chance to win your own handy dandy Microplane nutmeg grater!