December 12, 2011

Molasses Spice Cookies with Orange Sugar

Molasses Spice Cookies

If you couldn’t tell from many of the recipes on this blog, I love to bake and I struggle throughout the year trying to balance the sweet treats with savory and/or healthier recipes. But from Thanksgiving to New Years Day all that falls away and I embrace what I like to call “baking season”. I don’t put restrictions on myself, I don’t worry about calories, I just let loose and make whatever I want and I don’t feel the least bit guilty about anything I eat. It’s my yearly Christmas present to myself.

Cookies are my favorite thing to make during the holiday season and I think I’ve been mentally saving up because I haven’t posted any cookie recipes here since May. So when I heard about the Food Blogger Cookie Swap I immediately signed up. I’d be making cookies anyway so why not share some of them with others?

The thing I didn’t factor in was how difficult it would be to find a good cookie recipe! The main issue was finding cookies that could travel well and that would keep for at least a week. Maybe others didn’t have any trouble with …

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December 6, 2011

Pear Upside-Down Gingerbread Cake

Pear Upside-Down Gingerbread Cake
It’s finally December! Not only is it my favorite month with my favorite holiday, but it’s my favorite time of the year to bake since there are always so many fun recipes to try. I love gingerbread so this recipe has been on my “To Make” list for while and it finally seemed like the perfect time for it. I already have a gingerbread muffin recipe that I love, but this gingerbread cake turned out to be quite different and I love the twist of making it an upside-down cake, too.

The big difference from most gingerbread recipes I’ve made is that this recipe uses fresh ginger instead of ground. I was a little weary about this because I haven’t always been a huge fan of fresh ginger. It’s ok in small doses, but in a lot of recipes I find it really overpowering. Luckily, it turned out to be pretty great in this cake. My guess is that the molasses and all the other spices help to tone down the ginger just enough so it’s not overpowering. Despite that, you can clearly taste a difference between gingerbread …

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November 30, 2011

Cranberry Pandowdy (and my favorite Cranberry Sauce)

Cranberry-Apple Pandowdy

I hope all my American readers had a nice Thanksgiving. The past couple of years Brandon and I have had a guest to help us eat all that food, but this year was a simple Thanksgiving with just the two of us. Unfortunately, my brain kinda went on autopilot as I was preparing all my traditional dishes and I wound up making enough food for probably 5 or 6 people! Suffice it to say we had lots of leftovers.

The biggest culprit turned out to be cranberry sauce. I found a new recipe to try this year and went a little gung ho with it, making enough to feed about 12 people. Thankfully, the cranberry sauce turned out to be as good as its name: Cranberry Sauce Extraordinaire. It will definitely be my go-to cranberry sauce recipe from now on. The best thing is that it’s not just cranberries: it has apples, pears, pureed orange and berries. You can even mix in some pecans if you want. I love cranberries, but cranberry sauce can sometimes be a bit too tart for me, so I like how all the added fruit really balances the …

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November 18, 2011

Maple Applesauce & Apple Butter

Maple Applesauce & Apple Butter

Hey look, it’s more apple recipes! Have you had enough yet? I promise to cool it with the apples after this, but I just had to share these easy and delicious recipes since apple season is almost over. Thankfully apples are available year round, but they don’t seem to taste quite as good as they do in the fall.

The great thing about this is that it’s two recipes in one. Start with 5 pounds of apples and you can make both applesauce and apple butter in the span of about 2 hours (less than 30 minutes of which is actual hands on time). I honestly couldn’t believe how simple it was.

I always figured making homemade applesauce was easy, but my laziness won out in the end. After trying this recipe, I feel really dumb because this applesauce literally takes 30 minutes to make. 30 minutes! And most of that time is simmering on the stove, so in reality it only takes about 10 minutes of actual work. That is pretty much the definition of a lazy-proof recipe. I usually spend $3-4 a pop for those little cups of applesauce …

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November 15, 2011

Butternut Squash-Apple Soup & Gouda Grilled Cheese

Butternut Squash-Apple Soup & Gouda Grilled Cheese

It’s nearing the end of the year which means that I only have a few more deliveries from my CSA and I’m starting to get sad when I think about not getting that box every Wednesday. But I’ll definitely be signing up for another year and, thankfully, I only have to wait about two months since they pick back up in March.

I started this blog several years ago to become a better cook and put more effort into developing healthy eating habits, but joining this CSA has really been the final kick in the pants I needed to make that happen. I’ve probably tried more new vegetables in just the last 6 months than in all of the last 10 years. It’s been great and has helped me to finally convert my inner picky eater into someone who will try anything at least once. There’s still quite a few things I don’t like (mushrooms…yuck) but at least I tried them and I’ve even found ways to hide the stuff I don’t like so it doesn’t go to waste (mushrooms always go into my favorite spaghetti …

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November 8, 2011

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Biscuits

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Biscuits

I went to high school in a teeny-tiny mountaintop town in Tennessee. At the time it only had two options for fast food: Hardees and a rundown Dairy Queen (it later got a McDonald’s because even teeny-tiny towns on a mountain need a McDonald’s) I don’t even like Hardees, but when you’re in boarding school and the only other option is cafeteria food, you’ll eat pretty much anywhere else when you get the chance.

But there is one thing at Hardees that I always looked forward to eating: their Cinnamon ‘N’ Raisin biscuits. If you’ve never had one before, it tastes like a cinnamon roll but it’s a cinnamon biscuit covered in icing. So basically it’s like crack. I could eat those biscuits all day long. It seriously brightened my day when my friend would come into school carrying a carton of cinnamon biscuits just for me. I don’t eat much fast food anymore, especially not for breakfast so I’ve only had the biscuits a handful of times over the past 10 years. It’s probably better that way! But they’ll still pop into my head on a weekend morning every once in …

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October 24, 2011

Caramel-Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Caramel-Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Looking back through my archives I realized I’ve posted at least one chocolate-pumpkin dessert before Halloween for the past few years, so I figured it was past time to post a recipe like this, especially after all the apple recipes I’ve posted lately. Fruit is great, but for me at least, chocolate will always be better.

I’ve actually been working on this recipe for a while. I made some pumpkin swirl brownies last Halloween and even photographed them, but I kept deciding against posting them because they weren’t quite good enough. Something was missing. But then earlier this year I discovered Supernatural Brownies. These are hands down my favorite brownies. Ever. And I have tried lots and lots AND LOTS of brownie recipes. I’m not into cakey brownies (if I wanted cake, I’d make that instead!), I like fudgey brownies and these are moist and fudgey beyond belief.

October 19, 2011

Apple Pie Cream Cheese Muffins

Apple Pie Cream Cheese Muffins

Recipe inspiration can come from some funny places. I decided to make these muffins after buying some cute red cupcake liners from Target. I just knew I had to put something with apple in them (and it helped that I had basket full of apples waiting for me at home). I promise I’ll move on to something else besides apples after this, but I had to share this recipe because I was so happy with how these muffins turned out.

It’s a little hard to tell from the pictures what exactly these muffins are since many of the components are a similar color, so let me just describe it for you: it all starts with a graham cracker crust on the bottom (like a little pie!), the muffin is a spiced applesauce cake with a cinnamon cream cheese center and it’s all topped with caramelized apples. Basically, I was torn between making a pie or cake, so I decided to combine them!