Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Bread

Ok, so I realize... I've become one of those bloggers that I used to hate. I am posting two pumpkin recipes in the span of 8 days. Sue me.

But, it turns out... that pumpkin, nutmeg, etc... well, they aren't the nasty tasting foods that I thought they were. My bad.

I had a half can of pumpkin puree hanging out in my fridge leftover from last week'sTuesdays with Dorie recipe and I asked my friend Steph for her favorite pumpkin bread recipe.

She sent me to a link from that seriously had like a zillion awesome reviews. This is some bread, apparently.

I made some changes to make it a wee bit healthier. I plugged the changes into a nutrition calculator and came up with 191 calories (50 from fat) per serving. Those changes were:

Halved the oil with unsweetened applesauce
Used Splenda for 1/3 of the sugar in the recipe.

It turned out great with those changes. Sweet and moist (just how I like my bread!). I will be trying this recipe again and I might try the 89 calorie/serving version: all splenda and all applesauce. If I do, I'll let you know how it turns out.

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

Now, here's a Tuesdays with Dorie recipe that I can get behind. Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze chosen by Clara of I heart food 4 thought. Clara suggested that we might all decorate these cupcakes for halloween! Which is a GREAT idea. But... I had an even better idea...
With their rich, dark color, they were perfect for a Gamecock Tailgate! Check. It. Out. Our sweet ass tailgate set-up for the South Carolina vs. Ole Miss game (wayyy back on Oct. 4th). My intention was to decorate these cupcakes with South Carolina themed decorations... but, I didn't have the time. (It's probably for the best though... my decorating skills SUCK).

Instead of the glaze that Dorie had in the book, I used some leftover Dark Chocolate Frosting that I had in the freezer to decorate with.

These cupcakes are great! I find it very hard to mess up Chocolate cake recipes (don't even talk to me about any kind of vanilla or butter cake recipe... they ALWAYS jack up for me). They are flavorful and tender... moist and delicious!

Check out Clara's blog for the recipe!

Here is the recipe that I used for the frosting:

Especially Dark Chocolate Frosting
(from the back of the Special Dark Hershey's cocoa box)

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup Special Dark Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk (might need more)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to a spreading consistency. Add small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups of frosting.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

BFB: Scotcheroos

Okay, so the best thing about this recipe? Is that it has reawakened my absolute love and devotion to rice krispies. Since I bought the first box of rice krispies last thursday night, to this morning when I polished off my second box, I have become a rice krispies addict. Like, seriously... WTF? Who knew that rice krispies... a little splenda (okay, a LOT of splenda) and some milk could join together and create pure tastebud nirvana? OH. MY. GOD. It's heaven in a bowl (or a big ass plastic cup, when I run out of bowls).

Digressing, (because as I write this, I'm starting to crave a bowl)... Steph and I chose to make Scotcheroos (not only because they look delicious, but also because I requested a recipe that I could use up some butterscotch chips I had lying around) for our next Best Friends Baking dish.

Now, I've made Scotcheroos before. And I remembered them being kind of ooey-gooey and peanut buttery and delicious, so I was pretty excited about this recipe.

I must say though... that this recipe for Scotcheroos was just... okay. I mean, instead of ooey-gooey, they kind of turned into brick-like. If you like the standard, crunchier rice krispie treats, then this recipe is probably right up your alley. But, if you prefer a looser, gooey-er treat, then you might want to try my other recipe (the only difference is the other recipe calls for brown sugar, instead of granulated...).

Regardless, these were tasty. I found myself continually cutting off portions of it and snacking on it.

Chocolate Scotcheroos
Makes about 24 bars

So, when a recipe has peanut butter in it, I expect it to taste peanut buttery... and even though I basically doubled the peanut butter in this recipe, it still wasn't peanut buttery enough for me. I'm not sure how to fix that. I'm afraid if I add more than double the amount of peanut butter, that the bars won't turn out right because of the proportions of the other ingredients. Maybe in the future, I'll experiment with adding some peanut butter to the top layer or something. Not sure.

1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups rice krispies cereal
1 package semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 package butterscotch morsels
Vegetable cooking spray

Measure corn syrup and sugar into large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat.

Stir in peanut butter; mix well. Add rice krispie cereal. Stir until well coated. Press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Set aside.

Melt chocolate and butterscotch morsels together in small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Spread evenly over cereal mixture. Let stand until firm. Cut into bars when cool.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TWD: Pumpkin Muffins

This is the time of year that as I peruse through various other foodie blogs, I usually end up saying to myself.... "ewwwww..." because every freaking blog out there loves pumpkin recipes and puts like a gazillion pumpkin recipes on their blogs. Pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cakes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin. And for someone who doesn't like pumpkin flavored anything... this is all very disappointing.

So, when Kelly of Sounding my Barbaric Gulp picked this weeks Tuesdays with Dorie recipe... Pumpkin Muffins, I just threw my hands up in the air and said... what the hell... I'll give these a whirl.

You see... my hope was that I just thought that I didn't like pumpkin. As a kid... we never had pumpkin pie or pumpkin anything... and the smell of nutmeg, cloves, etc... just doesn't do it for me. So, I just always assumed that all things pumpkin were... well... gross. But, I couldn't actually remember a time when I've had anything pumpkin. And I adore spice cake flavors, so it only makes sense that I'd like pumpkin (yes, even with nutmeg, which I realize I've sworn off on here many times before, I realize that maybe I've given nutmeg a bad name for nothing). So... it was time to test out my taste buds.

For this recipe, I went ahead and bought some whole nutmeg and some whole cloves. I mean... if I'm going all out... I might as well go all out in style, right?

The recipe came together very quickly... but I will say this.... it's really hard to measure cloves and nutmeg when you are grinding whole ones with a microplane. Any tips?

The verdict? Well... first let me say... that I didnt think these were overwhelmingly pumpkin-y. They were very mild in flavor (I probably didn't get enough of the spices in there), but they were some of the best muffins I've ever made. Very moist with a tender crumb. They could have been a little sweeter for my tastes (I mean, I realize... it's a muffin, it's not supposed to be a cake, but... what can I say, I've got one helluva sweet tooth). But the flavor was pleasant. And so, I've decided to expand my horizons and give some other pumpkin, nutmeg, clove recipes a try in the future!

Because of the muffins mild flavor.... I whipped up a little bourbon glaze: bourbon, confectioners sugar and melted butter and drizzled over them to jazz them up. (And jazz them up, it did!).

So, if you want to make these, check out Kelly's Blog for the recipe. Thanks Kelly for showing me that I don't have to shun pumpkin anymore!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lemon Bars

I think it's awesome (and usually dangerous to your diet) the way food can link you to memories of people or particular moments of your life. A lot of my favorite foods remind me of people or places that I love... Pecan Pie: My Aunt Rita. Outback's Cheese Fries: College. Grandma Cookies: My childhood. Coconut Cake: My Paternal Grandma. Chili-Cheese Dip: Tailgating. And Lemon-flavored anything: My Maternal Grandma.

My Grandma B. loved all things lemon. And every year, her birthday usually coincided with the big family reunion in October. I can remember my mom cooking all day and night on the Friday before... and one of the things she always made was specifically for my Grandma: a lemon bundt cake with a lemon glaze. The cake was from a box mix, but damn was it good. Moist and sweet and lemony, it was the only time I really ever had anything lemon-y like that and I loved it.

My Grandma B passed away when I was a senior in high school. Before she passed, she was living with us for a couple of years... and in my selfish, teenage angst I think I subconsciously resented her for taking away attention from me (I know, it sounds terrible... but when you're a teenager you think that the world completely revolves around you) and I'm sad that I never really got to know her as a person... I really only knew her as my grandma with the uncomfortable couches, chickens that pooped everywhere, and constantly churning milk in the kitchen. I think as adults, she and I would have gotten along really well.

She was a very strong, independent woman... she wasn't necessarily sweet and demure like you think of most grandmothers, she was fiery and passionate and you always knew where you stood with her. As a child... I didn't appreciate those qualities... but as a woman of 28, I understand her a little more and I definitely feel like I've acquired a lot of the same qualities.

Her birthday is today... and while I didn't make a lemon cake, I did make these lemon bars a few weeks ago in her honor. They are absolutely delicious and definitely the best lemon bars I've ever had. It's funny how her favorite dessert is representative of her personality... sassy and tangy at the onset... but sweet and smooth for the finish. If you're looking for your go to lemon bar recipe, look no further... Anna at Cookie Madness found them.

Possibly The Best Ever Lemon Squares

It looks like the original source of this recipe was a Cooks Illustrated recipe. But, Anna at Cookie Madness made some changes, click the link above to see her post and recipe (and to check out her blog, cause it's awesome).

This recipe is everything that a lemon bar recipe should be: the filling is lemony and creamy and oh so smooth and rich and the crust is buttery and crunchy with a hint of saltiness that compliments the sweet tanginess of the filling.

A word on the crust: it will look like it's just flour pressed into the pan... but fear not... as it blind bakes in the oven the butter will melt and meld the crust together. I also poured the filling over the hot (not just warm) crust and it turned it out perfect (it did sizzle when it hit the pan though).

This makes an 8 inch square pan.


3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (114 grams)

1/3 cup powdered sugar — plus extra for garnishing

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3/8 teaspoon salt (just use ¼ tsp plus an extra pinch)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces


2 large eggs

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon lemon zest (the zest of 1.5 lemons)

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (I found this to be 2 lemons)

3 tablespoons half & half (I used heavy cream, cause thats what I had)

1/8 teaspoon salt

Don’t preheat oven quite yet. Line an 8 inch square metal pan with foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray.

Pulse flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt in food processor. Add butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then pulse until coarse. (I used a pastry cutter to cut the butter in)

Pour what will seem like a very *dry* mixture into lined pan and press over pan bottom.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While it chills, you can make the filling.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. When oven is preheated and after the crust has chilled for 30 minutes, bake the pre-chilled crust for 18-20 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned.


Lightly beat the eggs, sugar, and flour together in a bowl. I used a fork. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, half and half, and salt and mix well.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees (oops! I forgot to reduce the temp, I cooked mine at 350 and had no problems). Stir filling again, then pour filling over **warm** crust. Bake for 20 minutes or until filling no longer appears wet and shaky.

Set on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Lift from pan, place on cutting board, dust with extra powdered sugar and cut into bars.

Cut into a dozen squares.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TWD: Lenox Almond Biscotti

For me, this quasi cookie/pseudo biscuit baked good should come with a tagline:

Homemade Biscotti... awesome kitchen potpourri... terrible cookie/biscuit impersonator.

I was hoping that I had just had "bad" biscotti in my past... and that magically, these biscotti would become my new favorite baked good. Alas... they did not. I'm just not a biscotti girl. I don't drink coffee (I get my caffeine by way of liquid diet coke) and I don't generally eat ice cream... so... these were just kind of like sugary croutons for me. I'm sure if you like biscotti though... they're fantastic.

They are easy enough to make... and I halved the recipe (thank goodness), used some vanilla in place of the almond extract. I mean, I'm all for almond extract, but it sounded like just a wee too much for me... and I think the half and half vanilla/almond extract was a smart choice. I also threw in some coconut... cause... ya know... why not waste one of your favorite ingredients in a cookie you most likely won't like, right??? Hmph.

Anyway, if you like biscotti give this a try... you can visit Gretchen's blog at Canela & Comino and be sure to check out all the other TWDers at Tuesdays with Dorie.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

BFB: Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

So, as I've mentioned before... my best friend Steph recently moved to Oregon. She, like me, loves to bake, and she also, like me, has a blog. Are we two cool cats, or what?

Anyway, since we talk about baking and food a lot and compare recipes, we thought it would be fun to buy the same cookbook and randomly and sporadically pick out recipes to make together (well, apart... whatever, you get the idea).

So, we bought this book Favorite Brand Name Best Loved Chocolate Recipes (quite the title, no?). And since we both love pecans and chocolate... we picked as our inaugural recipe... Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars.

These bars were good. But, I'm going to be honest... they're not great. I mean... pecan pie is my absolute favorite pie. I have dreams about pecan pie... I would marry pecan pie if it were legal (incidentally... maybe it is, in sweden?) And so when the words.. "pecan pie" appear in a recipe, I get a little excited. These bars do not taste like pecan pie. Actually, they taste like fudge pie with pecans thrown in. Good bars and easy to make... but not worthy of having "pecan pie" in their name.

Incidentally, if you want to try these... Steph had a good idea... of instead of melting the chocolate into the bars, to throw in chocolate chips whole... I think thats a great idea!

Check out Steph's Blog to see how hers turned out and stayed tuned for some more chocolatey recipes in the future :)

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
from Favorite Brand Name Best-Loved Chocolate Recipes

The crust will seem VERY dry. Just make sure you press it really hard into the pan and as it bakes the butter will melt and meld it all together. Like I said... don't expect it to be very pecan pie-y. Think of it more like fudge pie squares with pecans and I dont think you'll be as disappointed as I was.

Makes about 32 bars


3/4 cup light or dark corn syrup (I used dark)
3 squares (1 ounce each) semisweet chocolate, or 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Bar Cookie Crust
non-stick cooking spray
2 cups flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold margarine or butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2. First, prepare the bar cookie crust: In large bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat flour, butter, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press firmly into bottom and 1/4 inch up sides of prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.

3. Meanwhile, for filling, in heavy 3-quart saucepan stir corn syrup and chocolate over low heat just until chocolate melts. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla until blended. Stir in pecans. Pour over hot crust; spread evenly. Bake 20 minutes or until filling is firm around edges and slightly soft in center. Cool completely on wire rack. Cut into 2 x 1 1/2-inch bars.