Monday, October 31, 2011

Homemade Oreos

Happy Halloween! Sorry for the lack of posts during these past few days, it got insanely busy around here! Saturday was the last day of Farmers Market for this year, while I enjoyed my experience; I have to admit I'm so happy to be done with it! I loved having the opportunity to meet lots of new people and just having people get the chance to try my baked goods, especially my cupcakes. It was very humbling to hear how delicious customers thought my cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, bread, etc were. Maybe some day I'll get that store front, but for now I'm content doing what I'm doing!

Okay, back on track. These cute little cookies were featured at my booth this past weekend, and boy did they go fast! No need to buy the store bought kind anymore, just whip up a batch of these and everyone will love you. It's fun to change the frosting color to go along with the current season or holiday. I made these orange for Halloween, these would be great for the upcoming Christmas season.

Homemade Oreos

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
1 large egg

For the filling:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 1/2-3 cups confectioner's sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Splash of milk


Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the butter to bowl and mix to incorporate. Add in egg and mix until dough forms a cohesive mass.
Scoop a scant tablespoon of batter onto the baking sheet. Space dough balls a couple of inches apart. With moistened fingers, gently press down to flatten dough. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire rack and let cookies completely cool until firm and set.

To make filling, combine butter and shortening in bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on med high speed until smooth. Add in confectioner's sugar and mix on low just until incorporated, then increase speed to med-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Blend in the vanilla

To assemble cookies, pair them up by size. Use a pastry bag filled with a plain round tip to pipe a swirl of filling onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair. Sandwich together with the remaining cookie and press down so that the filling reaches the edge.

Makes about 30 sandwich cookies

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Zesty Grilled Chicken

We have a restaurant/buffet here in town that serves a chicken dish just like this one. It's always been one of my husband's favorite meals to get so I was thrilled when I stumbled upon this recipe a few years ago. It takes no time at all to throw all these ingredients together, put the chicken in the fridge before you're off to work and it will be ready to prepare when you get home. I also really like that it calls for ingredients that I typically have on hand.

 Things have been busy around here and I forgot to let it marinate all day, so yesterday afternoon I quick threw it together and got it in the fridge. I was only able to leave the chicken in there for about 2 hours and it still tasted great, so don't worry if you forget like I did. I always try to keep a little extra marinade out for basting while I grill.  Serve any leftovers in a wrap or on a salad.

Zesty Grilled Chicken

6 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

In a large resealable bag combine the first 9 ingredients, add chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 4-8 hours, turning occasionaly.
Drain and discard marinade. Grill chicken over medium heat for 7-8 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.
* If you want extra flavor, make sure to keep aside some of the marinade before you add the chicken, that way you can baste the meat while it cooks.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apple Dumplings with Cider Sauce

This year I'm definitely taking advantage of apple season. I've enjoyed trying out some new recipes as well as some old favorites. Yesterday was my kind of day, we had 70 degree weather and it was absolutely beautiful out, we had guests over for dinner and I was able to tinker around in the kitchen throughout the day. I started my very first batch of apple butter in the crockpot first thing in the morning and I'm happy to say I think it turned out pretty good. It's not as thick as I would have liked it to be but I can't wait to try it out on some bagels for breakfast.

Anyways, back on track. I also made these delicious apple dumplings to serve with our dinner last night. This was my first time ever making a dumpling and I'm so happy with how they turned out. Everyone loved them but I can't believe I forgot to make the cider sauce to serve with them! I think this sauce is half of what makes them so darn good! Oh well, I know everyone enjoyed them warm out of the oven with some vanilla ice cream. The dough was a nice, soft, buttery biscuit. The apples inside were nice and tender, and I'm loving this sauce! I used apple juice instead of cider because that's what I had on hand and it worked just as well, I just added a little bit more cinnamon to make up for it.

This certainly isn't going to be your quick and easy, throw together in 20 minutes kind of dessert. I also realize that I like to bake more complicated desserts than others; but if you have some extra time on the weekend, take advantage of those delicious apples from the orchards right now and make this one!

Apple Dumplings with Cider Sauce

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
5 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
3/4 cup cold buttermilk

6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 apples (I used Cortland, original recipe calls for Golden Delicious)
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the dough: Process the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until combined. Scatter butter and shortening over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. (You can also do this in a large bowl using a pastry blender) Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Stir in buttermilk until a dough forms. Place the dough on a lightly floured counter and knead briefly until the dough is cohesive. Press dough into an 8 by 4-inch rectangle. Cut in half crosswise, wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

For the apples: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. In a second bowl, combine the butter and 3 tablespoons of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Remove the core from the apples using a corer, then peel and halve them through the equator. Pack each apple with the butter mixture.

On a lightly floured counter, roll each dough half into a 12-inch square. Cut each 12-inch square into four 6-inch squares. Working 1 at a time, lightly brush the edges of each dough square with the egg and place an apple half in the center of each square. Gather the dough 1 corner at a time on the top of apple, crimping the edges to seal. Cut a vent hole in the top of each dumpling.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the dumplings on the sheet, brush the tops with egg and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake until the dough is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 25 minutes. Cool the dumplings on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Serve

Cider Sauce
1 cup apple juice or cider
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I added a little bit more since I was using apple juice)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Bring the cider or juice, water, sugar and cinnamon to a simmer in a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and lemon juice. Drizzle the sauce over the dumplings and serve.

Source: The Best of America's Test Kitchen, Best Recipes and Reviews 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Banana bread and chocolate chip cookies, two of life's greatest indulgences. Combine them together and what do you get? These cookies! I discovered this recipe in Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook a few years ago, of course I had to change them up a little, but they are really good and such an easy drop cookie to make. You really do get that soft banana bread texture and anything with chocolate in it is guaranteed to be fabulous.

The original recipe calls for old-fashioned oats and when I made these the other day I realized I normally put quick-cooking oats in instead. I didn't care for the texture with the old-fashioned so I've made that change in the recipe. You can use whichever one you prefer, they'll both turn out great! One other tip I have when baking these, I always make sure to bake them on a silicone baking mat. They turn out so much better than if I don't. If you don't have one, use parchment or wax paper instead.

Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large mashed ripe banana
1 cup quick cooking oats
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Using an electric mixer beat butter and both sugars on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed low, add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in banana. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chips and walnuts.
Using a medium cookie scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, spaced 2 inches apart. Bake cookies for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown and just set. Let cool for a few minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks, let cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen

Adapted from: Martha Stewart

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crunchy Lemon Garlic Chicken

Our family eats a lot of chicken, right now it's one of the cheapest meats I find at our grocery store. I try not to pay more than $1.70/lb. for boneless, skinless chicken breasts and when I find a good sale, I buy enough to last us a few months if possible. So with that being said I'm always on the look out for new ways to dress up boring ol' chicken breasts so everyone enjoys meal time a little more.

I came across this particular recipe on Pinterest, has anyone else become hooked on this? I'm glad to say I don't spend as much time on there anymore but I do try to browse a little bit every other day or so. The breading is one that you could definitely make year round but I'm thinking this would be wonderful in the springtime. I love the fresh lemon taste and the garlic is not overpowering at all. My kids even enjoyed it, I cut their chicken into strips to make it even more fun to eat.

Next time you have some chicken breasts thawed out and aren't sure what to do with them, keep this in mind. Add in your favorite herbs and spices if you don't like lemon or garlic and you'll love it!

Crunchy Lemon Garlic Chicken


1 clove of garlic
1 lemon
8 saltine crackers
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Olive Oil


Peel garlic and zest half of lemon. Put crackers into a food processor with butter, garlic, parsley, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse until mixture is very fine. Pour crumbs onto a plate. Sprinkle flour onto another plate or bowl. Crack egg into a bowl and beat with fork. Flatten chicken breasts out a little with either a meat tenderizer or rolling pin. Dip chicken into flour until both sides are completely coated, then dip into egg and finally into the crumb mixture. Push crumbs on to the chicken so they stick, you'll want to make sure they're completely coated.

Place a large frying pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and let heat for a few minutes. Add chicken breasts and let cook for 5-6 minutes on each side or until cooked through, golden and crisp.

Adapted from: Jamie Oliver

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Taco-Filled Pasta Shells

I made these the other night and couldn't wait to share them with you  It's pasta meets tacos, two great foods combined into one! I haven't made this dish in a few years and I'm not sure why now that I think about it. The hubby was in Chicago for the Bears/Vikings game so I decided to invite my parents over for dinner that night. We also made taco bowls out of tortilla shells since I wasn't sure if everyone would care for the pasta (Dad doesn't like to branch out too much), but I'm happy to say everyone enjoyed our meal! I had a variety of toppings set out but after I sat down I realized I forgot to add them to my plate. You know how it is, kids are being whiny and I'm lucky to even sit down for 5 minutes to eat.

This would also be a great meal to double and freeze another pan for later. Just add the tortilla shells when you go to bake it.

Taco-Filled Pasta Shells


1 lb. ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning or your own homemade seasoning
3 oz. cream cheese
20-24 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
1/4 cup butter, melted

Additional ingredients:
1 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup shredded cheese
1 cup crushed tortilla chips
Sour cream, optional
Chopped green onions, optional


In a skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add taco seasoning, prepare according to package directions. Add cream cheese, cook and stir for 5-10 minutes or until melted. Remove from heat and let cool.
In the meantime, cook pasta according to package directions, drain. Gently toss with butter. Fill each shell with the meat mixture.  Spoon salsa into a large greased baking dish. Top with stuffed shells and taco sauce. Cover and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and tortilla chips. Bake for 10 minutes longer or until heated through. Serve with additional toppings.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Caramel Apple Pizza

I scored 13 lbs. of apples last week at my favorite grocery store for a little over $4, I don't know about you but that excites me! This was one of the first things I knew I wanted to make with them, it's one of my favorite desserts to make in the fall. It's such a cinch to put together and the girls even loved helping me. You can use your favorite sugar cookie recipe or cheat like I did and use refrigerated cookie dough, either way it will turn out delicious! Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Pizza


1 tube (16 1/2 oz) refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
3 cups sliced, peeled apples
Lemon-lime soda, Sprite or 7-UP
1/2 cup caramel topping
1/3 cup chopped pecans


Press cookie dough into a greased 14-inch pizza pan. Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
In a bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, brown sugar and milk until smooth. Spread over the cooled crust. In a bowl, combine apples with the soda. Drain well. Arrange apples over cream cheese mixture. Drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with pecans. Cut into wedges.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Chili

I created this chili recipe a few years ago and it's been a staple in our household ever since. I love that I can get this on the table within 30 minutes, you can cook your chicken breasts beforehand to save you even more time. Feel free to use whatever beans you have on hand, sometimes I'll add black beans, other times I stick to kidney and pinto. Our family likes to use tortilla chips to scoop up the chili, almost like a dip.

I also took some time this week to experiment with cooking up dry pinto beans and freezing them. It really wasn't too time consuming and it's another way for me to save even more money at the grocery store. I cooked up around 2 lbs. of beans one afternoon and I had a good sized container to use for this chili plus 5 other bags to add to my freezer. I definitely think I'll try to do this more often!

Chicken Tortilla Chili


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked
15 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
15. oz. can kidney beans, drained
15 oz. can pinto beans, drained
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 packet of mild chili seasoning ( I used McCormick)
1-1 1/2 cups frozen corn
Tortilla Chips


Cut cooked chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes. Combine diced tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce and chili seasoning in a large pan. Cook over medium heat. Add chicken breasts and corn, stir well to combine. Let chili cook for 15-20 minutes or until warmed.  You can either crush up tortilla chips to add in the chili or serve them on the side.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins

We've had some beautiful days here lately with temperatures in the 70's and 80's even, but I knew it wouldn't last long. Today it's been rainy and gloomy, makes me either want to take a nap or get in the kitchen and bake. So I thought it'd be perfect to share these pumpkin muffins with you! I've been taking these to the market with me all summer long, however they are absolutely perfect for this time of year. These are incredibly moist, they are packed with a great pumpkin spice flavor and the struesel topping is an added bonus. They also freeze really well, I've been trying to keep ours stocked with these for breakfasts in the mornings. Just pull out what you need for the morning the night before and I like to put them in the oven for a few minutes to warm them, they taste like they just came fresh out of the oven!

Pumpkin Muffins


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

For the topping:
1/2 cup sugar
5 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda. In a large bowl mix together eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium speed until blended. With mixer on low speed, add in dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

To make topping, combine sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add in butter pieces and cut into dry ingredients with a pastry blender until mixture is coarse and crumbly.

Fill each muffin well 2/3 full with batter. Sprinkle the topping mixture over each muffin well. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Makes 24 muffins

Monday, October 10, 2011

Baked Apple Oatmeal

I've come across a lot of recipes for baked oatmeal or oatmeal baked in the crockpot lately. So I figured this morning I would give it a shot, I love oatmeal but have never tried it baked before. This was so easy to put together and everyone, including the kids enjoyed it! We've got a busy household in the morning, as I'm sure everyone does, so I was thrilled to know that I can whip this up quickly in the mornings before school and know that my kids' tummies will be full for awhile. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge and warmed up for the next day. I'm excited now to try some different flavor combinations......maybe pumpkin will be next. Stay tuned!

Baked Apple Oatmeal


2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large apple, peeled, cored and diced


Combine oats, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a large bowl, whisk milk, applesauce, butter, egg whites and vanilla together. Add oat mixture to wet ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in the apples. Pour oatmeal into a greased 8x8 baking dish.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until oatmeal is golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm. Garnish with additional toppings such as raisins, dried cranberries or brown sugar if desired.

Adapted from: Two Peas & Their Pod

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Caramel Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

I've been eyeballing this cake for awhile now. Ever since I got Dorie Greenspan's cookbook, Baking: From My Home To Yours, I knew this was one recipe I had to make. My birthday was this past week and I had planned to make it for our supper that night, but then our youngest got sick and I knew there was just no way I would be able to get this accomplished so it had to wait until this weekend. It was definitely worth the wait!

The brownie base will sink a little after baking, no worries though! This is perfect so that it can hold more of that delicious caramel topping.

I started to get a little intimidated during the cooking process of the caramel and it wasn't until the second time that I finally got it right. I took the sugar mixture off a little too early, before it turned the dark amber color I wanted so I ended up with a light caramel that didn't provide the flavor I was looking for. I finally succeeded the second time around though and ended up with this perfect    caramel-peanut topping I was wanting!

This dessert takes a little more time and effort than others but I highly encourage you to give it a try. You'll love hearing the "oohs' and "Yum!" when you present this in front of your guests!

Caramel Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Topping:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup peanuts (I used honey roasted)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch round springform pan, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line bottom of pan with piece of parchment paper. Put the pan on a baking sheet with a silicone mat.

Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together. Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, put butter and chocolate in the bowl and heat, stirring occassionally, until the ingredients are just melted. (You don't want them to get so hot that the butter separates). Remove bowl from heat.

In large bowl, whisk eggs and sugars together until well blended. Whisk in the corn syrup, followed by vanilla. Whisk in the chocolate mixture. Still working with the whisk, gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. You will have a thick, smooth, shiny batter. Pour batter into pan and jiggle the pan a bit to even out the batter.

Bake cake for 45 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into center comes out almost clean (You might find some moist crumbs clinging to the blade). Transfer pan to a rack and cool cake for 15 minutes, then run a knife between the cake and pan and remove sides of pan. Cool cake to room temp. When cake is cool, invert it and remove base of the pan and peel off paper. Wash and dry the springform pan, return cake to it right side up. Refasten the sides around the cake.

To make topping: Put sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir just to combine the ingredients and then put the pan over medium-high heat. Heat, without stirring, until the caramel turns deep amber,10 minutes, depending on the size of your saucepan and the intensity of the heat. To test the color of the caramel, drop a bit on a white plate. Lower the heat a little and add the cream and butter (the caramel will bubble and spatter). Stir to calm down the caramel and dissolve any lumps. Stir in the peanuts, and pour caramel mixture into a heatproof bowl.

Spoon the caramel and peanut mixture onto the cake, you've probably got more caramel then you need so you can set the extra aside. Allow topping to set at room temp for about 20 mins before serving.

Source: Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From My Home to Yours

Friday, October 7, 2011

Crockpot Barbecue Chicken and Baked Fries

What a week it's been! We've had some nasty sickness in our house all week long and I'm so glad it's finally gone! My youngest daughter had a fever for 7 days, the other kids had activites going on each night and then my husband had to work in Chicago for a couple of to say the least, this momma is worn out.

Anyways, enough with my rant. Let's move on to the food.  I love using my crockpot whenever I can, it makes my life so much easier. I love being able to throw everything in there in the morning and then when 5:30 comes around supper is already done. I made this the other night when the hubby was in Chicago and things were still crazy around here. This chicken couldn't get any easier, you literally can just dump everything in the crockpot and walk away. Plus the flavor is wonderful and the chicken is very moist.  These fries are also super simple, the girls even loved adding the seasoning to them!

Crockpot Barbecue Chicken


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I even threw them in frozen)

1/2 bottle Barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)

1/8 cup vinegar

1/8 cup brown sugar

1 garlic clove minced


Mix barbecue sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and garlic together. Place chicken in crockpot. Pour sauce over chicken and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Baked Fries


2-3 medium russet potatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon pepper


Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch julienned stripes. Rinse well and pat dry. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, garlic powder and pepper; toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer on a large baking pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 400 for 25 minutes or until lightly browning, turning once.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

These adorable things have been one of my favorite goody to bake for the market recently. Everyone has been going crazy over them and I can't keep them on the table long enough.....but with this much candy what's not to love? You start with a peanut butter cookie base, add a Reeses peanut butter cup to the middle and top with mini marshmallows, then drizzle with a chocolate ganache and finish them off with some mini M&M's.  They are incredibly easy to make and both adults and kids alike love them! Add these to your baking list for this fall and holiday season, you won't regret it!

Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies


2 cups creamy peanut butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

24 mini Reeses peanut butter cups, unwrapped

mini marshmallows

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon water

Mini M&Ms


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine peanut butter, sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until well combined. Divide the dough evenly between 24 wells of a mini-muffin pan (There will be some extra dough leftover, but do so to leave room for the candy) Make an indentation in the center of each dough ball. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until almost done. Remove from the oven and press a peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie until it's flush with the top of the dough. Top each cookie with 3-4 mini marshmallows. Return pan to oven and bake 2-3 minutes more, until the marshmallows have puffed up. Transfer pan to a wire cooling rack and allow cookies to cool completely in the pan before removing them. (This is an important step, if tired to remove while still slightly warm, they won't come out all the way and crumble)

Once the cookies are completely cooled, transfer them to a wire rack over a sheet of wax paper. Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Bring the cream, sugar and water to a boil, then pour the liquid over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds. Gently whisk the mixture together until smooth. Leave the glaze to sit until it thickens a bit to your desired consistency, then drizzle over tops of cookies. Sprinkle with mini M&Ms before the glaze hardens.

Makes 24 cookies

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Apple Pancakes with Cider Syrup

Welcome to one of my favorite breakfasts to prepare for my family! My house smelt amazing this morning as the pancakes were cooking on the griddle and the syrup was simmering on the stove.  I first came across this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine, the original uses a pancake mix as the base; but it's so easy and much cheaper to use your favorite pancake recipe so that's what I've done here. These also freeze beautifully, I like to make a double batch and put the extras in the freezer for mornings when we're running short on time. The next time you're not feeling so rushed in the morning; think of these pancakes, your family will thank you!

Apple Pancakes with Cider Syrup


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (I used buttermilk today since I had some to use up)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large apple, grated


1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup apple cider or juice
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice


In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and grated apple and stir until just combined.

Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto hot griddle, turn when bubbles form on top. Cook until second side is golden brown.

Meanwhile, for syrup, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in cider until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly., about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Stir in butter and lemon juice. Serve with pancakes.

Makes 12 pancakes
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