Pumpkin Bread

Want to know a secret?

I’m not really a huge fan of pumpkin pie.

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I’ve never really understood what the big deal is. I think it’s a texture thing. Or maybe I just haven’t had a “real” pumpkin pie yet (although I have sampled quite a few). Continue reading

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Carrot Cake with Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting

Want to know why people love carrot cake?

Cream cheese frosting.

Let’s be honest with ourselves now. Carrot cake is a great idea. A cake that gets its moist texture from vegetables? Genius! But would you eat it without cream cheese frosting?

Would you really? Continue reading

Apple Butternut Squash and Sausage Gratin

Gotta love a dish that does double duty. This gratin works well as a side dish (Thanksgiving anyone?) or as a main, paired with some green veggies.

With the abundance of fresh fall produce, and the dark and chilly nights, what’s sounds better than a pan of cheesy, meaty, veggies and fruit? This is comfort food at it’s best. Filling, but not heavy, and loaded with vitamins to beat the winter blues. Continue reading

Pumpkin Parmesan Puffs

Yum. That’s all I have to say about these.

Y.U.M. YUM!

Seriously, I taste tested one (cook’s privilege you know), and quickly devoured 2 more as soon as they were cool enough to handle.

Could anything cheesy, garlicky, and wrapped in puff pastry every be a bad idea? Nope. And the best part? They’re so simple to make. Continue reading

Baked Cinnamon Apple French Toast

Breakfast is something I never spend enough time on.

When I’m running around in the morning getting ready, I only make time for some Greek yogurt and granola, or whole wheat toast, maybe some eggs if I’m feeling fancy.

And on the weekends, I find the allure of my cozy bed and fluffy pillow far too distracting to wake up early enough to make a time consuming breakfast.

But I might have to make time now. Continue reading

Rustic Apple Tarts

These rustic apple tarts, or Apple Snaps, as some (inexplicably) refer to them, were born on one of those beautiful fall days where the sun is shining, the weather is crisp, and the leaves seem to glow with all their colors.

Combine that with one of the most amazing apple orchards I have ever been to, and how can you not create something so simple, but so delicious?

While visiting my boyfriend in La Crosse, WI, we decided to embark on an apple picking adventure. He had never been, and I have always been fascinated by picking my own food (It’s just SO fresh!). Thus, we started our 40 minute journey to Ecker’s Apple Farm. Everyone should go to this apple orchard. I mean it, if you’re looking for a place to pick apples, this is where you should go. It’s run by the most adorable family you could ask for, they have a John Deere tractor to take you on a tour of the orchard with stops along the way where you are welcome to get off, pick an apple and eat it to make sure it’s just as tasty as it looks before you commit to picking and buying anything. Fabulous!

If the lure of a tractor train ride isn’t enough for you, they also make the best caramel I have ever tasted, which just happens to be delicious drizzled on the apple pie a la mode you can purchase by the slice, or by the entire pie, in the main barn. Trust me on this one, just go there, you cannot be disappointed!

So, as my boyfriend and I set off on our apple picking adventure, I knew I had to do something delicious with these apples.

You can’t spend all afternoon picking apples….or “apple hunting” in my boyfriend’s case….to not bake something delicious with them as soon as you get home.

So, with bag of apples and tub of caramel in hand, we set off down the road with dreams of these incredibly simple, incredibly delicious rustic apple tarts.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped into quarter-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup of sugar, plus a little extra for sanding
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • Two 9 inch pie crusts, store bought or your favorite recipe. (I used store bought)
  • Caramel for drizzling
1. Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then peel and chop your apples.
2. Add the sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine.
3. Roll your pie crusts out on to a pan. Cut them in half and add the apple mixture to the center of each half, leaving an inch or so of crust around the outside.
4. Fold over the edges of the crust any way you’d like (this is the rustic part!), then melt your butter and lightly brush over the edges. Sprinkle the buttered crust with a little extra sugar to get a nice crunch.
5. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of your tarts and the instructions on the package if you’re using store bought crust, or until the crust becomes golden brown.
6. Drizzle with caramel and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream

Welcome to Day 1 of my Halloween series! All week, I’ll be posting tasty treats, perfect for your Halloween party needs! No costume required, just sit back, relax and let the treats come to you.

These are the perfect treat to bring to bring to your boss’s Halloween potluck party. Their tiny size makes them easy to fit on plates already piled with food and lessens the guilt of eating three in a row, you can make tons of mini cupcakes with a regular amount of batter, and with a simple garnish they lend a sophistication that says “Why yes, Mr. Robinson, I can get you that report you’re demanding in 20 minutes while still maintaining my perfectly calm outward appearance, and please remember these delicious cupcakes when you consider my raise.

I had never made mini cupcakes before, but I do own a mini cupcake pan; the result of my wild fantasies about seas of adorably frosted mini cupcakes while at a Pampered Chef party. It had been sitting in the back of my cupboard for quite some time, so I figured it was time for a test run!

And oh boy, am I ever glad I have that mini cupcake pan now! Mini cupcakes are almost easier to make than their big sisters. They have a shorter baking time, you can fit 24 of these little babies in a pan and your frosting time is cut in half! I would seriously recommend investing in a mini cupcake pan, if for no other reason than they put a fresh twist on a potluck staple.

Sweet Potato Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces (or one small) sweet potato, cooked and mashed
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup), room temperature
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 tbsp. dark maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup crushed pecans for garnish (optional)
For the cupcakes:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the first six ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
    3. Cream the butter in an electric mixer and slowly add the sugar until fully combined.
    4. Add the buttermilk, egg, sweet potato and vanilla to the butter mixture and beat until           combined. Be careful not to over mix!
    5. Add the flour mixture in batches and mix until there are no lumps in the batter, but               again, be careful not to over mix. You’ll get adorable little cupcake shaped rocks                 instead of adorable little cupcakes.
    6. Once the batter is mixed, line your mini cupcake pan with mini cupcake liners and                use a small ice-cream scoop to fill each cup 2/3 full.
    7. Bake in the oven for 11 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the               cupcakes comes out clean.
    8. Take out your cakes and let them cool to room temperature before frosting. While               you’re waiting is the perfect time to make that frosting!
For the Frosting:
  1. Cream the butter in a bowl with an electric mixer. Use the whisk attachment if you have one.
  2. Add the vanilla and beat to combine.
  3. Slowly add the sugar. Note: I usually use a rough ratio of 1:1 for my butter and powdered sugar (1 stick to 1 cup). Feel free to adjust for your desired level of stiffness and sweetness.
  4. Add the maple syrup a tablespoon at a time, beating throughly after each addition. Feel free to sample the batch after each tablespoon until you get the desired strength of mapley-ness!
  5. Secret Tip: Spoon the frosting into a zip lock bag. Squeeze the air out, seal the bag, snip off one corner and use that as a piping bag to get perfectly swirled frosting on your cupcakes.
  6. Crush some pecans and sprinkle them over your frosted cupcakes. This is totally optional, but it does look pretty and adds a nice salty note to counteract the sweetness of the frosting.
  7. Watch your little creations disappear!