Category Archives: Baking

Shortbread Thumprints with Pumpkin Spice Caramel

shortbread with pumpkin caramel

This is a simple shortbread recipe, that tastes simply amazing when you add the Pumpkin Spice Caramel on top.  Perfect for fall.  The cookies in this picture were actually made with whole wheat flour rather than all purpose (it was all I had on hand at the time), and they are still quite delicious.

Shortbread Thumprints

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cups butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups flour

Directions

1. Beat butter and sugar and salt together until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in the egg and vanilla, the flour. Do not overmix.
3. Cover and chill for an hour.
4. Preheat oven to 375. Roll 1 inch balls and place onto ungreased cookie sheet. Press thumb into each ball to make a large divot. Bake about 10 minutes until bottoms are golden.
5. Remove, cool, on wire rack. Use thumb or spoon to press down divots again if needed.
6. Top with Pumpkin Spice Caramel Sauce. Then sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

And, here’s the pumpkin spice caramel sauce recipe, in case you missed it!  Which, by the way is great all on it’s own!

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Sauce

Snack Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin

Directions

1. Put sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan (no need to stir) and bring to boil using medium heat. Swirl the pan occasionally to combine ingredients.
2. Once contents of saucepan are boiling, coninute to let boil gently for about 5-10 minutes until the mixture is a medium amber color.
3. Remove from heat and add butter and whipping cream. Stir well. Then whisk in the pumpkin pie spice and canned pumpkin.
4. Pour into jar and cover. Chill for 4 hours. Can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

 

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Sauce

pumpkin caramel sauceI just love all things pumpkin.  And, it doesn’t get much better than pumpkin and sweet, gooey caramel sauce.  This caramel sauce is very simple to make (no candy thermometer required!), but has a wonderful, autumn flavor.  Use it to dip apples, top cheesecake, cake or cookies, and stir it into your favorite warm, fall beverage.  Oh, and don’t forget…it makes a yummy ice cream topping, too.  The possibilities or endless.  Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing my favorite shortbread thumbprint cookies that are simply delicious with this sauce.

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Sauce

Snack Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin

Directions

1. Put sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan (no need to stir) and bring to boil using medium heat. Swirl the pan occasionally to combine ingredients.
2. Once contents of saucepan are boiling, coninute to let boil gently for about 5-10 minutes until the mixture is a medium amber color.
3. Remove from heat and add butter and whipping cream. Stir well. Then whisk in the pumpkin pie spice and canned pumpkin.
4. Pour into jar and cover. Chill for 4 hours. Can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

 

 

Happy Monster Cookies

monster cookies

I had some orange cookies leftover from yesterday’s super easy jack-o-lantern cookies, so I thought the kids would get a kick out of these happy monster cookies.

My kids are still pretty young, so they really enjoy having happy Halloween treats rather than all the gore and scary stuff….and I have to agree.  I prefer it, too.

These cookies are super simple.  You can really start with any flavor cookie, but I once again used the best sugar cookies in the world.  A little food coloring in the dough really makes the monsters more special.

Use two cookies.  Turn one upside down and pipe or spread some frosting on it, making sure one side is piled a little higher with icing.  This makes the monster look like it’s opening its mouth once you place the other cookie on top.

Cut a marshmallow in half and attach to top cookie with some icing.  Add some M&Ms or Reece Pieces for eyes.  Use frosting to attach.

Want another happy monster treat, check out my monster pretzels. 

An Easy Hallowen Treat: Jack-o-lantern Cookies

pumpkin face cookiesSo, this may not be my most clever idea, but it sure is simple!  And, guaranteed to put a smile on a kiddos face.  So, win-win: easy to do & sure to please! :)

Simply take your favorite sugar cookie recipe.  You can find my favorite, soft sugar cookie recipe here. Add a few drops of red and yellow food coloring to the dough (to make orange).

And, then decorate with candy corn, mini M&Ms, regular M&Ms, icing, etc.  Use a little icing to stick the candies to the cookies.  Voila!  Easy, right?

Looking for a more complicated sugar cookie treat?  Then, you must try Candy Corn Sugar Cookies (although, honestly, those are pretty easy too :) )

Candy corn cookies

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

Candy corn cookiesCandy corn cookies look awesome and are super easy to make!  A perfect fall treat you can whip up quickly and fool everyone with your expert culinary skills! :)

You’re going to need: sugar cookie dough, a loaf pan, food coloring, knife, cookie sheet…and an oven :)

To make these, I simply used some premade sugar cookie mix.  I think pre-made dough would work well, too.

Simply divide your dough into 3 balls:

  1.   First Ball:  no food coloring
  2.  Second:  Knead in several drops of yellow food coloring to get a bright yellow color
  3.  Third:  Knead in a few drops of orange food coloring.

Now get our your loaf pan and layer, nice and flat, your three different colored balls.  You’ll want to do the yellow first, then the orange, then the plain.  Chill for 2 hours in the fridge until firm.

When the dough is firm, remove it from the loaf pan, and make about 1/4″ slices, like you’re slicing bread.  Then, cut each slice as shown.  I forgot to take a pic, so please enjoy my lovely graphic:

rectangleYou can either discard the gray shaded areas, cook as is, or squish the long sides together together to make a more regular candy corn shape.

Place slices on sheet and cook as directed! :)

See, wasn’t that easy, and aren’t they adorable?

Monster Pretzels Halloween Treat

monster pretzels

My kids are home on Fall Break this week and just get bored so easily.  It’s crazy.  The minute we walk in the door from a 4 hour play date at the park, my daughter starts begging for a craft or something to do.

I think it must be the routine and busy-ness of school that they  miss.  Surely, they are not spoiled….

Anyway, I saw this cute project while browsing through Family Fun magazine.  It was super simple to recreate (unlike many of the other ideas I’ve found in that mag).

I did it a little different than Family Fun suggested.  Piping in different colored candy melts seemed rather tedious & messy to me.

So, I just melted white almond bark in the microwave.  I used 4 bricks (one in each of 4 separate bowls).  Then, after it was melted, I stirred in a little gel food coloring.

IMG_3935I took a butter knife a scooped up a big sized dollup of the melted almond bark and spread it over the backside of a yogurt covered pretzel.  You  must take care not to cover the small hole of the pretzel because that is the mouth of the pretzel monster.  Immediately, I placed the pretzel onto parchment paper (wax paper would work too) to harden.  My kids used several different types of sprinkles we had on hands to make the eyes.  Of course, the sprinkles need to be placed on before the almond bark hardens again, but you should have plenty of time.    IMG_3936

I think they turned out adorable. We laughed and laughed at all the different “expressions” the monsters ended up with.   Then, the kids gobbled them right up.   Nothing like a little sugar-high to turn around the afternoon doldrums, am I right?

Dolphin Birthday Cake

dolphin cake

My daughter’s birthday was last month, and she insisted on a dolphin cake.  Well, actually she first wanted a camping themed birthday party and then switched at the last minute to a dolphin.  :)  Do your kids do that to you too, or just mine?  I had really cool camping party planned that I had to scrap and change to a dolphin party.  Sigh. 

Anyhow, I always make my kids cakes.  It’s kind of a tradition around here.  Remember the screwdriver cake?  I immediately started browsing Pinterest for dolphin cakes.  Most of them looked so complicated; I was feeling overwhelmed.  Was I really going to have to learn how to mold fondant this year?  Please, no!

But, alas, buried in Pinterest, I finally happened upon a link to this awesome dolphin cake template!  Seriously, a life saver.  And, I think it turned out beautifully.   I really didn’t know what to think when I cut out all those weird shapes on the template, but it really did work.  I used chose turquoise coloring for the dolphin (my daughter’s fave) and an m&m eye.  Everyone loved it.  I got tons of compliments from parents and my daughter’s friends.

The hardest part of making this cake was deciding where to put the candles!IMG_1153But, I think the tail ended up being a great location.  Don’t you?

Delicious Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread Recipe

zucchini bread This post is a little late.  I meant to post it this summer when everyone was up to their ears in zucchini.  But, alas, time got away from me.  I hope you still have some zucchini to enjoy.  Or, bookmark or pin this for next year.  You’ll be happy you did.

Finding a whole wheat quick bread recipe that doesn’t taste like cardboard, actually rises, and isn’t a dense as a brick is no small feat.  But, I’ve got a great one for you.  My kids devoured it.  I hope you enjoy it half as much as they did! :)

Yummy Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

Snack Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup Choped Walnuts
  • 2 cups Shredded Zucchini (about one large zucchini)
  • 1.5 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 cups Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3 tablespoons Sour Cream (I've subbed apple sauce for the sour cream before and it's good that way,too.)
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x5 loaf pan or line with parchment paper.
2. Spread walnuts out on a cookie sheet and toast in the preheated oven for about 5-7 minutes until golden brown.
3. Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinammon) in a medium sized bowl.
4. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture. Beat until well mixed, taking care not to over mix.
5. Stir in the toasted walnuts and zucchini.
6. Pour in prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes until bread passes the toothpick test. Cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

If you’re still craving more healthy carbs after this recipe, be sure to check out my whole wheat soft pretzels.  Yum!

soft pretzels

 

 

Make Owl Cupcakes…Perfect for Fall!

owlcupcakesAren’t these little owl cupcakes adorable?  And, such a fun change on a fall themed treat.  I really enjoyed making something other than pumpkins and leaves!

I was inspired to make these little owls when I saw a cupcake kit for sale at Crate and Barrel for $10.owl-cupcake-kitTotally cute, but I knew I could make them for 1/3 of the price!  Here’s the supplies you need, hopefully you’ll have most on hand already

  • Cake mix of your choice (I used vanilla)
  • Chocolate and vanilla frosting (or make your own)
  • Candy corn
  • Candy eyes
  • Piping bag (or use a sandwich bag with a hole cut out of corner)
  • Knife to spread frosting.

Step 1:  Make a triangle on 1/4 of the cupcake with the white icing.

IMG_3841Step 2:  Cover the rest of the cupcake with chocolate frosting.

IMG_3842Step 3:  Use one candycorn for the beak.  Use just the yellow part of 2 more candy corn for the feet.IMG_3843Step 4:  Apply the candy eyes and use the piping bag with chocolate frosting to make 2 triangles above the eyes for the ears.

IMG_3844Step 5:  Make lots and impress your friends (or you kid’s friends or your kid’s friend’s moms or your kid’s class or…you get the idea!)

IMG_3840

Valentine’s Hot Chocolate Popcorn

hot chocolate popcorn

I was putting away Christmas the other day and feeling nostalgic about another holiday gone by.  Isn’t there something about the end of the year/holiday season that makes you just a bit depressed?  Me too.  As I was putting boxes away, I stumbled across my little stash of Valentine’s things.  Not a lot of things, mind you.  Just some Valentine’s and toys for the kids.  A few little cutesy decorations.  It’s mostly for the kiddos; I mean, I don’t really LOVE this holiday.  It seems so forced and fake, and I have a hard time getting into it.

BUT…

I did get excited at the prospect of making pink and red treats and maybe getting out the glitter glue for some Valentine fun with my daughter.  What better cure for the post-holiday blues than indulging a little in another holiday?  So, while I was daydreaming of Valentine’s projects, I got hungry (or maybe it was all that taking down and putting away the Christmas that worked up my appetite).  And, being in a Valentine-y mood, I whipped up this yummy snack.

Hot Chocolate Popcorn with a Valentine’s twist.  I think this would be cute for an after-school snack, a little teacher gift in a fun Valentine mug, or maybe just some munchies while you chat with a friend over tea.  It’s a little festive, but a lot yummy.  Enjoy!

Hot Chocolate Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup un-popped popcorn
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 packets instant cocoa mix
  • 3/4 cups Valentine's chocolate chips (red chips and chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup marshmallows (pink, if you have them)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

1. Pop popcorn using air popper or on stove with oil. Put popcorn into large bowl.
2. Melt white chocolate chips and then pour over popcorn in bowl. Stir until popcorn is well coated. Before, chocolate sets, add hot cocoa mix and stir until well coated.
3. Stir in marshmallows and chocolate chips.
4. Lay popcorn out on parchment paper and drizzle with melted dark chocolate.
5. Allow chocolate to fully set before serving.
6. Store in airtight container.