Monday, December 26, 2011

S'more cake IN A JAR!

I have in the last year grown quite fond of the humble mason jar.  Well just jars in general really.  They are so useful and pretty. You can keep your flowers in them. Put your rice in them so it's not spilling out of the bag. Throw some pencils in for the most convienent little pencil caddy. Tie on some ribbon and fill it with candy and oh my look at your beautiful present! But that's not why you stopped by, to hear about my jar infatuation.  You came because someone said S'MORE, more importantly, S'MORE CAKE! (raises hand) Guilty as charged.  But let me tell you something, these are perfect anytime betweeen now and next Christmas, because really is there a season for s'mores? I think not.  So saddle up parter and grab your mason jar, empty peanut butter jar or cleaned out pickle jar (please clean it first) as we whip the easiest, and by far most decadent, s'more you will have in your life. 

s'mores cake in a jar
(adapted from How Sweet It Is)

This will make 4 pint sized cakes, or 8 1/2 pint cakes. I made the pint sized and they were over the moon sweet.  If you make them this size, have a friend or at least someone you like, handy.

For crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 stick of butter :)
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter and combine with graham crackers and salt until well mixed.  Spray the jars with non stick spray and dividing the crust among the jars, press it down into the bottoms.  I used a tart tamper I had, anything to get it spread even and packed tight.

For the cake:
1 1/8 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons sour cream

In a bowl, whisk egg and sugar until smooth, then add milk, cream, butter and vanilla, and mix until combined. Stir in the sour cream. In a seperate bowl sift dry ingredients together and add them to the wet mixture. Mix it all up until the batter is smooth.

If you're using pint jars, use a 1/4 cup and measure out the batter one scoop at a time. You only want to fill them up about half way and the batter should work evenly for 4 jars. I used pint jars and ended up having enough batter for 2 additional half pint jars as well.  Not sure why. But that's how I discovered that these are better in smaller packages.

Place mason jars in a baking dish and add about 1 1/2 cups of water to the bottom. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cake is set. I eneded up baking mine for 40 minutes, probably because of my stellar oven. Either way, when the cake is done, remove it from the oven and press large marshmallows down on top, being careful not to burn yourself. It's easier to to this in the smaller jars.  There is no set number of marshmallows to use, just cram some in there. But if you must know, about 4-5 mallows. Move your rack to the second lowest position and crank up your broiler in your oven and watching carefully, brown marshmallows for about 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown. Do not take your eyes off them.  I hovered and peered through the crack of the door and watched them brown up. I'm slightly paranoid with the broiler.

Serve immediately!

You might like to know that I had success reheating the crust/cake part and then adding marshmallows the next day and it tasted just as delicious as the first.  If you make more than you think you can eat immediately, just don't top all of your cakes with mallows and start the delicious magic all over again later. 

To reheat/redo:
Heat oven to 350 degrees and set the jars in a pan with some water and reheat in the oven for about 10 minutes or until warmed through.  Repeat the topping steps of the original recipie and enjoy, again!

Now grab your bff, your kids, or your sister and dig in!

Life is better homemade,

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pecan Brown Rice

       Rice is one of my favorite side dishes--it's so versatile. Making rice with pecans, however, is one way I have never heard or thought of preparing it. So when I came across this recipe my interest and curiosity was instantly piqued. I thought it would make a delicious fall/winter side dish--I was right. The spices freshened up the flavor, while the pecans brought the dish down to a complex and earthy taste. In the original recipe, the pecans were nearly completely pulverized, but I decided to keep mine small yet chunky. This way, the rice had a bit of a crunch to it. Besides making a good side dish, I personally think it makes a good light-ish afternoon meal as well. In fact, that's what I did with the leftovers. Super handy for the college student on the go. =)

Pecan Brown Rice
Recipe barely adapted from

  •  3 cups cooked brown rice
  •  2 tablespoons butter
  •  1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  •  1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped (or finely, however you prefer)
  •  2 tablespoons parsley, minced
  •  1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  •  1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  •  1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt

--Heat skillet over medium heat

--Put in the 2 tablespoons of butter to coat the pan

--Toss the onions, pecans, parsley, basil, ginger, pepper, and salt into the hot skillet


--When the onions are tender and translucent, remove the pan from heat

--Stir the cooked brown rice into the pan, combining all the ingredients. Only keep the rice in the pan until it is heated through, then transfer to a serving dish.

--Serve and enjoy!

Happy Cooking!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Maple Spice Peanut Butter Granola

With the holidays here, it seems that there is far too much sugar around and no matter how strong my will power may be the other 10 months, it sucks from October 31st to January 2nd.  What normal person can really resist all of the deliciousness that comes around the end of the year? The smells, the flavors, the perfectly decorated cookies are far too much for me to ignore, so I taste and nibble while trying to ignore the voices in my head that tell me not to.  But I haven't ignored them completely, in fact I created something just for them: wholesome maple spice peanut butter granola.  It's filling, it's satisfying, it's good for you.  Throw it on top of some greek yogurt or eat it with milk.  Pile some on your ice cream and drizzle with caramel.  See how you are imagining other ways to eat this right now?  It's a powerful little recipe.  Plus making granola yourself is A: cheaper and B: better for you because you get to control what's in it. Clearly there is no way you can go wrong with this simple, easy, and quick to make granola, so what are you waiting for? Get to the kitchen and whip some now to pack for your kids' lunches and for your breakfast or mid day snack, your tastebuds and stomach will thank me....and this sweet little blog!

Maple Spice Peanut Butter Granola
(From: little bitty bakes)


        1 3/4 cups rolled oats
        1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds (optional but so much better for you with it)
        1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
        1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
        1/3 cup smooth (or crunchy) peanut butter, melted
        1/3 cup light maple syrup (the real thing! (cant't harp on that enough sorry))
        1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine the oats, chia seeds, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, give a quick stir.  Stir in the melted peanut butter and maple syrup, and vanilla and mix well.  Dump onto a cookie sheet and smooth out into a fairly even layer and bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp and light brown.  Make sure you keep your eye on it, it will brown pretty quickly before you know it.  Cool the granola completely before storing in an airtight container. A quart Mason jar, or reused (cleaned) spaghetti sauce jar does the trick just nicely. 
Now forget about those chocolate covered oreo's that you just ate hoping no one was looking and eat something that you don't have to feel guilty about. You're welcome.

Life's better homemade,

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tomato Spinach Bread

       Happy belated Thanksgiving! I hope you passed a wonderful, memorable, and filling day. I wanted to make this Thanksgiving special for myself by making something I have never attempted before. So as I was flipping through this year's issue of Taste of Home's "Best Holiday Recipes" and came across this bread, I decided that it would be my something special. I have made yeasty breads before, but  never a flavored one, besides cinnamon sugar. Plus, I had never attempted to make a swirly sort of loaf. Well, as you can see my "swirl" didn't quite make the cut (I didn't seal the edges well enough) but I think it still looks pretty. And it was delicious, which made any technical flaw irrelevant as far as I am concerned. Each of the sections of dough was remarkable individually, but when all three were combined in a single bite the flavor was marvelous. During dinner, we ate this bread alongside all of our other dishes, but this would make awesome sandwich bread slices as well. Or you could do what my aunt did with all of the leftovers--turn it into garlic bread the next day to serve with spaghetti! Awesome.

Tomato Spinach Bread
Recipe from Taste of Home
Makes two loaves


plain dough
  •  1- 1/4 ounce package active dry yeast
  •  1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
  •  4 teaspoons of butter, melted
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 3/4 to 3 cups bread flour
spinach dough
  •  1/4 cup cold water
  •  1- 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (fresh would be better but I don't know how much you would need for this particular recipe)
  •  1- 1/4 ounce package active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • 4 teaspoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour
tomato dough
  • 1- 1/4 ounce package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • 4 teaspoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1- 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 3 1/4 to 3 3/4 cups bread flour
egg wash to brush on top of loaves before baking
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon cold water


Step 1

plain dough

--In a large bowl, pour in warm water. Sprinkle package of active dry yeast over water and let sit a couple minutes to activate.

--After the yeast looks a little foamy, combine butter, salt, and 2 cups of flour into the yeasty water. Combine until smooth.

--With the remaining flour, add a little bit at a time until the dough becomes firm and not extremely sticky.

--On a lightly floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic, then place in a greased bowl (I used olive oil to enhance flavor), cover, and refrigerate overnight.

spinach dough

--In a food processor, puree the cold water and spinach. (I don't have a food processor, so that is why you can still see chunks in my bread. I think it still looks cool, though.)

--In a large bowl, pour in warm water. Sprinkle package of active dry yeast over water and let sit a couple minutes to activate.

--After the yeast looks a little foamy, combine butter, salt, 2 cups of flour, and pureed spinach into the yeasty water. Combine until smooth.

--With the remaining flour, add a little bit at a time until the dough becomes firm and not extremely sticky.

--On a lightly floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic, then place in a greased bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

tomato dough

--In a large bowl, pour in warm water. Sprinkle package of active dry yeast over water and let sit a couple minutes to activate.

--After the yeast looks a little foamy, combine butter, salt, 2 cups of flour, and tomato paste into the yeasty water. Combine until smooth.

--With the remaining flour, add a little bit at a time until the dough becomes firm and not extremely sticky.
--On a lightly floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic, then place in a greased bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Step 2

--The next morning (or approximately 8 hours later), punch down each dough, then divide each dough into two parts.

--For each dough on a lightly floured surface, roll into a 10-inch by 8-inch rectangle.

--Stack 3 rectangles of dough (of each flavor) on top of each other, the plain dough being between the two flavored doughs. I absentmindedly did plain, spinach, then tomato, but nobody seemed to care. ;) You should end up with two different stacks.

--Roll each three-tiered stack into 12-inch by 10-inch rectangles.

--Then, roll up each rectangle "jelly-roll" style starting with the long side.

--Tuck the edges under the loaf and pinch all of the seams tightly.

--On a baking sheet (greased or covered with parchment paper), Place the uncooked loaves seem-side down. I ended up using two baking sheets because I wanted to bake my loaves separately just in case my oven decided to act up again.

--Cover the loaves and let rise for 30 minutes, preferably in a warm location.

--Preheat your oven  to 350 degrees.

--Once the loaves have risen, beat together the egg white and cold water to make a quick egg wash, then brush the wash over each of the loaves.

--Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown.

--Remove to wire racks.

--Eat warm or cooled, whichever you prefer. Enjoy!

Happy Baking!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Puppy Chow

       My father has taught me many things in life: good work ethic, compassion, dry humor, love. Some days, though, my favorite thing he instilled in me is his sweet tooth. Since I was young I have memories of him scraping the last bits of ice cream from a bowl, sometimes over exaggerating and scraping his spoon even when everything was gone, just to see if he would get a reaction from us kids. He even puts strawberry syrup on his cereal to give it that extra bit of sweetness. I don't go that far, that's too weird. My dad is also the one who ate all of my cookie mess-ups when I was just learning how to bake. He always tells me that there is no such thing as a bad cookie if it was homemade. Even if I don't agree with this statement (some of those first cookies got pretty crispy (with extra "flavor" (the burnt bottoms and edges))) the fact that he ate every single batch I ever made was extremely encouraging. I was always given a blue ribbon for my effort, in fact, I was given two.
       Though today I'm not sharing cookies, I am sharing something sugary and sweet, perfect for the sweet-tooth. Puppy Chow. Many people know this treat as "Muddy Buddies", but I grew up calling it Puppy Chow and refuse to call it anything else--I can be stubborn. I have made many batches over the years, and because of this I have found my favorite types of ingredients to use. First, I like to start with rice chex as opposed to corn chex. I prefer the lighter crunch and less pronounced flavor so the chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar can shine. The off-brand rice chex is acceptable to use, and is often what I choose to purchase. Next, I love using milk chocolate in my Puppy Chow. It is creamy and not overpowering, which is how I find semi-sweet chocolate to be. I have to use a certain type of milk chocolate though: Nestle. I even go so far as to check the expiration dates--the fresher the chocolate the better for the Puppy Chow.
       I used to think that it didn't matter what type of peanut butter I used as long as it was creamy, so I always bought the Our Family brand because it was the cheapest. Now I've come to realize the type of peanut butter does matter. I don't like using Skippy or Jiff, they are underwhelming and disappointing in Puppy Chow. Ironically, I prefer the Our Family. Lucky me, it's the least expensive around these parts. (As a side note, I have never tried using natural peanut butter but plan to in the future.) Finally, I discovered that the brand of powdered sugar matters as well in this recipe. I once bought some off-brand powdered sugar out of convenience, but it was no good in Puppy Chow. It wasn't even sweet and it left a waxy coating on my mouth after testing it, weird. Lesson learned.
       So, without further ado, here is the recipe; enjoy eating some crunchy, peanut butter/chocolate, sweet goodness. =)

Puppy Chow

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1-11.5 ounce bag milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 bag powdered sugar (you might not use it all)
  • 1 box rice chex


--Empty cereal box into an extra large Tupperware bowl

--In a separate microwaveable bowl, place butter, chocolate chips, and peanut butter. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir.

--Continue to microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each stop. You want the chocolate to be nice and runny, but be careful to not let it seize (become stiff and overcooked).

--Once chocolate mixture is melted, pour half of it over the cereal. Carefully stir the cereal to get it coated in the chocolate, try not to break the pieces.

--Once first half seems sufficiently combined, pour the rest of the chocolate over the cereal. Continue to mix the cereal slowly until all the cereal pieces are completely covered in chocolate.

--After the cereal is thoroughly covered, sprinkle 3 cups of the powdered sugar over the chocolate-covered cereal. Put the lid on the bowl and shake gently until the powdered sugar is soaked up into the cereal pieces evenly. You can add more powdered sugar as desired.

--Be careful not to add all of the powdered sugar at one otherwise it will all disolve into the hot chocolate pieces. Instead, once you have about 4 or so cups in the cereal, wait until the chocolate cools mostly down to add the final sprinkling of powdered sugar. This gives the nice, powdery white look that the Puppy Chow has when finished.

Happy Baking!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Big Apple Pancake

Mornings can't come soon enough for one reason. Breakfast is by far my favorite meal.  I could probably eat some type of breakfast fare at every meal and be perfectly satisfied.  As evident in a previous post, pancakes are a staple to our breakfasts and recently I discovered an amazing soufflé-like pancake, the dutch baby.   More like a custardy, strudel-y pancake cousin, this pancake surprises your eyes and your taste buds which I think are equally important to impress.  And a nice little bonus to this pancake is that you can prep the rest of your breakfast without trying to flip the pancakes at the same time as the bacon.  An effortlessly easy breakfast after a long and stressful week? Yes, please.  Because who really needs to finish out a laborious week with an equally laborious breakfast? Not this chick.  I believe there should be more recipies like this: Gather ingredients. Dump 98% of them in the blender.  Turn on the blender.  Pour contents of blender into a cast iron skillet.  Put the skillet in the oven…wait…take out of oven…enjoy! I mean who can’t cook like this?!

There are few things I look forward to more than weekend breakfasts and the discovery of this pancake has succeeded to make me wish everyday started with “S”.

Adapted from my Epicurious App:
Big Apple Pancake
½ stick unsalted butter
1 large sweet apple (Gala, Golden Delicious, Fuji) peeled, cored, and cut into ¼ inch wedges
½ c whole milk (it’s better for you people, the other stuff is just white water)
½ c all-purpose flour (whole wheat works here too)
4 large eggs (preferably organic, free range)
3 T. granulated sugar
½ t. vanilla
¼ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
Powdered sugar for dusting
SPECIAL GEAR: 10 in well seasoned cast iron skillet or other oven proof skillet

Make sure your oven rack is in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 450 degrees
Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat and transfer 2 tablespoons to the blender.  Add the apple wedges and cinnamon to the remaining butter in the skillet and sauté until they begin to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes.
While the apple is cooking, add milk, flour, eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt to butter in the blender and whip it up until smooth.  (I ran mine about a minute the second time I made this to really get some air in it which I must say really helped the puffiness).
Then pour the batter over the apples cooking up in the skillet and stick the whole thing in the oven.  Bake until pancake is puffed and golden, about 15 minutes. 
Take out of the oven. Dust with powdered sugar.  Scoop out a wedge and enjoy!

I’ve made this a few times now and each time I cannot believe it took me this many years in the kitchen to discover such a breakfast treat.  You can bake it without the apples and slather them on top once the pancake comes out of the oven. You can eat it plain with maple syrup and butter.  You can make compote of whatever fruit you have and pile it on top of the puffed perfection.  Just like regular pancakes, this little ‘baby’ has limitless possibilities.

Homemade is better!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Chocolate Mummy Cupcakes

       Happy Halloween! Happy Haunting! Happy Eat-So-Much-Candy-You-Get-Sick Day! Whatever you do today, I hope it's happy. I enjoyed my Halloween excursion a little early this year and went out last Saturday, it was just easier that way. These cupcakes, however, are not from Saturday. They are from the Thursday before (the 27th). Every Thursday night this semester I have a two hour class called "Visionaries of the Past" where we discuss the great minds of old. (Don't worry, I won't go into depth about the discussions.) Being that the 27th was the last Thursday before Halloween it was only right to bring something "spook-tacular". Since in this class we discuss old, dead people, mummies were the natural choice. I remembered looking at various people's mummy cupcakes last year and decided it was my turn to give 'em a go. I think they turned out kinda nice, what do you think?
       I chose chocolate cupcakes for two reasons: we hadn't eaten anything chocolate yet in class (I know, right?) and I liked the symbolic aspects, like darkness, death, and evil. Because I didn't have much time to waste--darn homework pile--I just chose a cupcake recipe that I had seen a couple days earlier on a blog I sometimes follow called Annie's Eats. It was a pretty tasty cupcake, though I felt it was somewhat crumbly. I followed her recipe exactly except for one thing: I used unsweetened cocoa powder instead of Dutch-process cocoa powder. Honestly, I did this because I only had the unsweetened cocoa powder. What is the difference? Instead of my gabbing, I'll send you here. The author of this blog did some investigating so we don't have to, and she gives the facts in a clear and concise way. I like that.
       For the frosting I used a recipe (at the bottom of the page) that i am baker used, so I figured it had to be good. Well, if I was only frosting a flat layer of cake then the frosting would have been delicious. But because I had to add more powdered sugar to make a stiff frosting, I found it to be a bit too much on the sweet side for my liking.  I will consider using this recipe once more just to make sure my observations were correct, but the search for my favorite buttercream frosting--that I can pipe with--is still underway.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe from Annie's Eats

Yield: 24 cupcakes

  •  1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used unsweetened cocoa powder)
  •  1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
  •  2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus one tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

--Preheat your oven to 350˚F

--Combine the butter and sugar in a saucepan, over medium heat, until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir occasionally.

--Once thoroughly combined, transfer your butter/sugar mixture to your electric mixer and stir on medium-low speed until cooled.

--While the butter/sugar mixture is combining and/or stirring, line your cupcake pans with some cute cupcake wrappers.

--In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and hot water until smooth.

--In a separate (medium) bowl, get your dry ingredients ready: whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

--By  now, your butter/sugar mixture should be cooled. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, mixing well after each is added.

--Mix in vanilla and coca mixture until smooth.

--On low speed, add the flour mixture and sour cream, alternating between the two. Be sure to start and end with your flour mixture. (ex: 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 sour cream, 1/3 flour mixture, rest of sour cream, last of flour mixture) Mix until just incorporated. You will have a nice, airy batter.

--Using a scoop, fill the cupcake wrappers approximately 1/2 - 2/3 the way full. Just try and have all 24 cupcakes to have the same amount of batter for even sizes.

--Bake 18-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out almost completely clean. (A famous pastry chef once said if it comes out completely clean you risk having a dry cake. So one crumb or two small crumbs is okay.)

--Let cool a little bit before removing the cupcakes from the pans. Let completely cool before icing.

Vanilla Buttercream
As used by i am baker

Yield: enough for 2-9inch cake rounds, or approximately 24 cupcakes

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 6-8 cups powdered sugar (Tasted really good with only 5 or 6, but 8 was too sweet)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (if you have lesser quality vanilla, add a little more)

--Place softened butter and 4 cups powdered sugar into mixer bowl, stir until somewhat combined

--Add milk and vanilla

--On medium speed, mix until creamy

--Add remaining sugar, a little bit at a time, until icing is at desired spreading thickness. You may not use all of the called-for sugar.

--Keep at room temperature for use

--Can be stored for up to 3 days, in an airtight container

To create the mummy look, use a basket weave tip (smooth side up) to pipe random strips of "bandages". For the eyes, use m&m's, and piping gel for the pupils for a more realistic effect. I only used red because the store was out of black, but I still like the "evil" effect it gives.

Happy Baking!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Butterscotch Blondies

       I've decided something. I would like Halloween a lot more if we could subtract the skulls, gore, and increasing number of scantily clad women. Personally, gore, skulls, demons, and the like disturb me. I can't even do scary movies. Now don't get me wrong, I love Halloween, but I prefer seeing cute pumpkins, happy witches, and Casper-like ghosts. Furthermore, why are all of the costumes available to females of all ages over thirteen hooker-esque? Costumes are meant for disguing, not revealing. Besides, it is my personal opinion that any young teenager should not be flaunting anything, even if there was the microscopic change she even had anything to flaunt. Anyway, what about all the modest, true disguise seeking costume lovers out there? Or what about the girls who feel insecure and can't even consider wearing the tight fitting pleather? Well, I think there are two options: one, make your own costumes, or two, eat these Butterscotch Blondies I made to make you feel better and then wear some ratty, torn up clothing used for outdoor work for your costume. Voila! A content bum. Or, pour red goop all over yourself (while wearing the ratty clothes), paint your face white or green with dark circles around your eyes, and commence moaning. Voila! A satisfied zombie. Satisfied because there is a "blondie" in the belly. (By the way, not all zombies are equal. Please don't be too gorey or scary (I don't care if you think that is the point of Halloween) because it will scare me. If you scare me, I won't share my blondies, so there.)
       Speaking of Butterscotch Blondies, these are really delicious. I was rummaging through my freezer and discovered multiple bags of butterscotch chips and multiple bags of white chocolate chips. Though I was seriously craving something chocolatey, I persuaded myself that spending more money--that I don't have--was silly and I should use up what I already had. I argued for a little while, but then I came across this recipe and realized I was fated to use my butterscotch and white chocolate chips to make these bars. Let me tell you why these turned out better than expected. First of all, the recipe only uses brown sugar (as opposed to granulated sugar, or both). Because of this, the butterscotch is toned down by the molasses and isn't overpowering. I was afraid of biting into a bar that was basically one large butterscotch chip--way too potent--but my fears were for naught. The white chocolate chips (which is why we can call these bars blondies) added a nice creaminess to the treat, and complemented the not-too-potent butterscotch remarkably.

Recipe from Cookies & Cups
Butterscotch Blondies

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup (dark) brown sugar, packed (If you don't have the dark brown, don't sweat it.)
  • 3/4 cup butterscotch chips, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips


--Preheat your oven to 350°F.

--Line an 8x8 pan with foil or parchment paper. If using tin foil, spray lighlty over with cooking spray.

--In a medium bowl, combine baking soda, salt, and flour. Set aside.

--In your stand mixer, combine the brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and melted butter.

--On low speed, incorporate the melted butterscotch chips, stirring until smooth.

--Gradually add your flour mixture to the mixing bowl and stir until just combined.

--Add in the white chocolate chips, either by hand or by mixer. Incorporated evenly.

--Spread batter into the prepared pan, the texture will seem like cookie dough, and place in oven to bake for 20-25 minutes. Keep in mind ovens and pans varry, so you may even need to go longer than this, or shorter.

--Once golden brown and seemingly crispy, remove the bars from the oven and let cool for a little bit before cutting them into squares. If they happen to be underbaked (or intentionally doughy), cooling is especially important so the dough has time to set.

--Try to only eat one.

Happy Baking!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes with Maple Glazed Apples

       Pancakes are something of a weekend tradition at our house, but mainly the buttermilk blueberry variety.  I have pretty much perfected them, so much so that I grew bored with the little blue orbs in the sea of pillowy batter.  So I took a break from pancakes and made eggs and bacon.  Oatmeal and raisins with fresh cream.  Smoothies and peanutbutter toast.  The weekend was just not the same without pancakes so I pulled out the whisk and went back to work, this time with fall and all of its culinary possiblities on my mind.  Enter Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes with Maple Glazed Apples!! Not quite your typical buttermilk pancake but they ended up being absolutely airy and delightful.  The apples, recently purchased by the bushel and begging to be devoured, helped to project the pancakes to another world by becoming deliciously coated with sticky, maple goodness.  One bite into the stack piled with apples instantly brought pancakes back to our weekend.  Now just to figure out how to make the weekend last seven days and not two....

Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes with Maple Glazed Apples
adapted from

Maple Syrup Apples
-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-3 Large Golden Delicious (or other baking apple) about 1 1/2 pounds)), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2 in-    thick slices
-1 Tablespoon plus 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1 cup all purpose flour
-2 Tablespoons yellow cornmeal
-2 Tablespoons(packed) brown sugar
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1 cup buttermilk (I used vanilla Kefir-which for those who don't know it's like a runny yogurt    with a bit more tang and a slight effervesent taste.  Highly recommend you check it out!)
-1 cup whole-milk yogurt (I didn't have yogurt either, but subbed in some cultered sour cream)
-1 large egg
-1 1/2 Tablespoons unslated butter, melted
-Additional unsalted butter
-Additional pure maple syrup
      *OKAY, I cannot stress the importance enough of using actual maple syrup! Not the high fructose   corn syrup ladden garbage that comes in cute little glass jars shaped like a southern house maid. Pay the extra money for the real stuff, that actually comes out of the tree, into a jar, and to your breakfast table. 

Back to the breakfast. 

For the Maple Glazed Apples:
Peel, core, and slice the apples.  Heat a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat, melt the butter, and add in the apples and the tablespoon of syrup.  Stir the apples a few times, giving them a chance to caramelize a bit, for 3-5 minutes.  Once the apples have softened, stir in the remaining syrup and sprinkle on the cinnamon and allow it to thicken a bit around the apples.  Now you can set it aside and thanks to the cast iron, it will stay warm for you until your pancakes are complete.

For the pancakes:
Combine the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
Nothing new here folks, combine dry ingredients in one bowl, combine the wet in another, and then put it all together later.  Makes sense....and more dishes to wash.  But it's important. 
Whisk together the buttermilk, yogurt, and egg in a medium bowl. Mix to blend and add to dry ingredients and mix until just blended, batter will be slightly lumpy.  Gently mix in 1 1/2 Tablespoons of melted butter.

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Rub some butter over the griddle to coat, and then working in batches, drop batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto griddle. Cook pancakes until brown on bottom and bubbles form on top. This, bonappetit said, would be about 3 minutes, I let mine sit for about 5 minutes (my griddle was at 350 degrees). Flip them over and cook until bottoms are brown and they are barely firm to touch. Transfer to plates. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more butter to griddle as needed.

Put two or three pancakes on a plate, pile on some glazed apples, and try not to eat them all before your family gets to taste.  Sharing is caring. :)

-Homemade is better!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Personal Cardamom-Apple Pies

       Look what I got! Then made! The other day my rather wonderful significant other bought me some new apple-shaped ramekins. Needless to say, I was pretty stoked and didn't have to think long about what I would make first in them. Since I got them as a gift from my-rather-wonderful-significant-other, I immediately decided I should try making personal-sized pies in them, being that his favorite thing ever is pie. I had to make an apple pie, specifically, for two reasons: I still have tons of apples on my apple tree and the ramekins are apple shaped. I briefly considered being ironic and making a different sort of pie, but the fact I had free apples won.
       Now to be perfectly honest I have only made pie two times in my life before making these. Meaning, I don't have any "go-to" recipes. So I searched online to see who had "the perfect pie crust". However, I had stipulations: there was NO WAY I was going to use any shortening in my crust. Butter all the way, baby! It makes the world taste better. Well, I got to searching and virtually all the recipes contained either only shortening, or a mixture of both. I didn't want that. So, instead of searching for "perfect pie crust" I searched for a "butter pie crust". Right away one of my favorite blogs popped up (go-figure (now I really know it's a good blog if they have an all butter pie crust  (and yes, it is legal to keep doing parentheses like this as long as your end parentheses match the same amount as your opening parentheses (which sometimes can be hard to count if you start doing a lot)))). <---See? =) Hehe, sorry for my digression. Anyway, smittenkitchen has an amazing pie crust recipe. Seriously, I refuse to even try any other recipes because I love this one so much! It was sooooo delicious--you could eat it on its own. Super flaky, full of flavor, and ahhhhh "perfect". Even if you already have a favorite pie crust, do me a favor and at least try this one once.
       Well I believe I have my love of buttery pie crust covered, so I'll move on to the filling. I wanted to do more than just have cinnamon and sugar on my apples, so I thought to myself, "Self, you have a little jar of cardamom sitting in your cupboard waiting to be used. Why don't you add that to the filling?" Instantly realizing the awesomeness of my idea, I quickly browsed the web for an apple pie recipe that included cardamom. This is what I found. I liked the looks of it, and also the name (I have a lot of Scandanavian blood in me) so I decided to give it a go. I was pleased. In the future, though, I may consider using more cardamom. Or use some freshly ground stuff. After all it is named a "Cardamom" Apple Pie, and I think if cardamom's going to be included in the name it should be tasted a little more. Overall, though, it was delicious.

Personal Cardamom-Apple Pies


For the crust

Since I'm a pie crust newbie, I'm going to send you over to smittenkitchen for the directions. Her's were wonderful. =)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup very cold butter
Note: smittenkitchen says that this recipe makes one double-crust pie crust, or two single-crust pie crusts, "regular" sized.

For the filling
Recipe from theweekinfood
  • 6 cups apples--peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/2 cup  sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Note: This filling is enough to fill two ten inch pies.

--Preheat your oven to 350°F.

--Make your dough, according to smittenkitchen's directions.

--Combine sugar, spices, and apples in a large bowl, making sure all the apples are covered equally.

--Once you have your dough ready, place in the prepared ramekins.

--Fill the bottom part of the crust with apples, creating a little bulge on top, if desired.

--Roll out your dough again for the tops of the pies, tucking the top layer of dough under the bottom layer for sturdy edges. Make sure they're pinched together tightly so extra juices don't run out while baking.

--Cut slits in the top layer of dough for air vents. Don't want that pie to explode on us now do we?

--Place ramekins on a baking sheet, just in case excess juices run over.

--Bake for 30-40 minutes.
         *If you are using regular pie pans, try 20-30 minutes first.

--Once the crust is golden brown, remove from oven and let them rest for a little bit. They're piping hot!

--ENJOY! =)

Happy Baking!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread

       "Ooh eeh, ooh ah aah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang! Ooh eeh, ooh ah aah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang!" Yes, it's true. Monkey bread makes me sing. =) It's just so fun! I mean, how can you not love something called "monkey bread"? And truth be told, that's the only reason why I decided to make it for our second post. I wanted to make something that would make people smile, because everybody deserves a little happiness in their life.  So when I came across Sugarcrafter's Pumpkin Monkey Bread recipe, I felt a little giddy inside...mainly because I haven't thought about monkey bread in forever. Shame on me. Anyway, I thought something pumpkin sounded tasty, but then I just wanted something really spicy. As in cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc. spicy. Not hot spicy. (Is there an easier way to explain that? I get so confused...) So I ended up adjusting the recipe a bit, and it was scrumptious. However, because I did add so many extra spices, I really couldn't taste a whole lot of pumpkin. So next time I want something pumpkiny, I'll just make the recipe "right".  

Recipe slightly adapted from Sugarcrafter
Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread


For the dough
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (about 110°F)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (about 110°F)
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 ounce active dry yeast

For the coating
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 stick butter, melted
Note: Because I "super coated" my dough I used double this. Also, the smaller the pieces you make, the more coating you need because you'll have more surface area to cover.

--In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and spices.

--In a separate bowl, pour in warmed milk and water. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the liquids and let sit for a few minutes, until the top is nice and frothy. (If you don’t get the froth, you either have bad yeast or you killed it, so start over.) Then mix in the pumpkin purée, melted butter, and sugar.

--Pour your liquid mixture into your flour mixture, a little at a time, stirring gradually until it is all combined.

--Once combined, knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Then place the dough into a bowl which has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover the bowl with a clean, moist cloth, and let the dough double in size. This will take about an hour.

--When the dough has risen, stir together the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Melt the butter in a separate microwaveable dish.

--Spray your Bundt pan with cooking spray.

--Remove the dough from the bowl and press it into a rectangle. Don’t bother with using a rolling pin since you’ll be cutting up the dough anyway.

--Using a sharp knife, or a pastry scraper, cut the dough into equal-ish pieces and roll said pieces into balls. How big you want your pieces will determine how many balls you get. I wanted small balls, so I ended up with sixty pieces.

--Once you have all your pieces rolled, dip them into the butter, shake off the excess, and roll them in the cinnamon-sugar. When I did this, I put several pieces of dough in the butter at a time, but took them out one at a time to roll in the sugar. I also made sure I had an excessive amount of coating on the balls. This way, I didn’t need to make a glaze at the end of baking because I’d already have a delicious sticky mess when I was done baking. Note: If you decide to do this, you will end up needing more cinnamon-sugar. Place the coated balls in the Bundt pan as you go.

--Once you’ve completed coating, cover the Bundt pan once more and let the dough rise for one more hour.

--Finally, before that hour is up, preheat your oven to 350°F. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.

--Let cool for a little while before flipping your pan onto a serving dish.

--Serve warm and enjoy =)

Happy Baking!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Apple Spice Cupcakes with Apple Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

       It's the first day of Fall! Leaves are changing color, a slight chill is starting to settle in the air, and people  finally have an excuse to make as many apple and pumpkin things as they want. To celebrate the coming of the new season, I knew I had to make something "fall-ish", but I couldn't decide what. That is, until I saw this recipe. I have an apple tree in the back yard that just had its first frost and my sister recently gave me some homemade apple butter, I knew this was what I had to make. What I was meant to make. So I did. And they were great. You should try them. Today. Or tomorrow, it would make a great Saturday afternoon activity. The cake was spicy and apple-y and delicious. Seriously, these things can stand on their own. I plan on making them a lot this fall for breakfast "muffins". The buttercream was silky and, well, buttery. Now I know it would be blasphemy to call something too buttery on the first post of a new blog called "Butter Believe It", but I just can't bring myself to steer you guys wrong. The frosting, in my opinion, had way too much butter. I was very skeptical about the two cups called for, but I always like to try a recipe the original way the first time and make tweaks to it later, if needed. Well, this needs a bit of tweaking. Perhaps use three sticks of butter instead of four? HOWEVER, I will say this: the "frosting" as the recipe is stated right now would make a delicious spread on your piece of toast in the morning. In fact, that's what I'm doing with my leftovers. =)

Recipes barely adapted from SweetRevelations
Apple Spice Cupcakes

Yield: 40 cupcakes (The original recipe said 30, but I got more)

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons  (freshly) ground cinnamon  
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon (freshly) ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup full fat sour cream (I used Daisy)
  • 2 medium-large tart baking apples, peeled and cut into tiny pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (I used homemade stuff that my sister made--recipe to come!)


--Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and fill your muffin pans with paper liners.

--Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Take about 3 minutes.

--Scrape the bowl, then mix in the molasses.

--Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

--In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and ground spices.

--Add the flour mixture and sour cream to the batter at low speed, alternating between the two. (Start and finish with the flour.) Mix until just combined.

--Stir in the apple pieces and vanilla.

--Fill the muffin cups a little less than halfway with the batter. These like to rise a lot.

--Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Apple Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup of apple butter, more to taste (I used 1 1/4 cups, but it depends on what kind of apple butter you use.)


--Fill a saucepan with two inches of water. It should be big enough so your mixing bowl can sit inside for a few inches, without water spilling over. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat so it continues to simmer.

--Before you put the mixer bowl into the hot water, whisk together the egg whites and the sugar until combined. Then put the bowl in the simmering water and whisk constantly for 4 minutes, or until the mixture reaches about 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

--Remove mixer bowl from water, wipe off the bottom with a thick towel (it will be hot) and put back on the mixer stand. Whisk on medium speed until whites have increased in volume and the bowl is just slightly warm. (SweetRevelations says this can take up to ten minutes.)

--Replace the whisk with the paddle attachment and continue to beat on low speed until the mixture is completely cooled. Then increase the speed to medium and add butter cubes one at a time.

--Continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and glossy. This could take a little while. If it starts to look like ricotta cheese for a while, don't worry, it will smooth out.

--Once the mixture is completely smooth, add the vanilla, salt, and apple butter. Mix until thoroughly combined.

--Frost your cupcakes!...or your toast =)

Happy Baking!

I would just like to let everyone know that 90% of the people (besides me) who tried the frosting LOVED it and thought it should not be changed and tasted perfect on top of this cupcake. I guess I'm just weird. =)