Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Candy Corn Cookies

*~*Happy Halloween*~*

These Candy Corn Cookies will be sure to bring a smile to your little trick-or-treaters this year!     If you're stuck at home because of Superstorm Sandy today, spend the afternoon baking.  These are super fun to make.

Begin by whipping up a batch of sugar cookie dough.  This is my go-to recipe.  It's called No Fail Sugar Cookies, and I found it online several years ago.  The cookies are soft and have a delicious buttery flavor.  What I love most about this recipe is that the cookies don't spread or puff up very much, so you can use detailed cookie cutters and have fantastic results, especially if you plan to decorate the cookies with fondant or royal icing. 

Color 1/3 of the cookie dough yellow, and 1/3 of the dough orange.   Leave the other 1/3 of the dough uncolored.

Line a standard sized loaf pan with plastic wrap, and press the white dough in the bottom of the pan.

Next, press the orange dough evenly in the pan, followed by the yellow.

Fold the plastic wrap up over the dough and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight.

 Once chilled, pull the dough out of the pan.  It comes out easily with a tug on the plastic wrap.  Unwrap the dough and place on a cutting board.

Slice the dough into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices (depending on how thick you like your cookies!).

Cut each slice into triangles.  Trim the ends and set them aside.  You can bake them as little mini cookies!

Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet (line with parchment paper if you'd like), and bake 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your slices.  You want the edges to just begin to turn golden brown. 

Have a fantastic time baking these yummy treats!   Enjoy!!

No Fail Sugar Cookies

6 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract or desired flavoring (almond extract, lemon extract, etc.)
1 tsp. salt
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix well. Mix dry ingredients and add a little at a time to butter mixture.  Mix until flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together.

Chill for 1 to 2 hours

Roll to desired thickness and cut into desired shapes.  Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown around the edges.  This recipe can make up to 5-dozen 3” cookies.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Swedish Apple Cake

I have apples!  Lots and lots of apples, in fact.  A local orchard donated several hundred apples (!!!!) to a fundraiser for my littlest daughter's school yesterday, a walk-a-thon and 5K.  After gifting apples to the children and participants, we're left with quite a few.  Yay!  Apple recipes abound in my recipe book, so I preheated my oven and got right to work. 

My mom, rest her sweet soul, was Norwegian.  "Straight off the boat", as she would say.  She would make the most delicious and moist Norwegian Apple Cake....and I cannot find the recipe.  My sister and I have tried to replicate it, and we've come close, but I haven't yet found The Perfect Recipe.  Perhaps it was just my mother's touch that made it so fabulous.  Or just the special memories of the cake, and memories of my dear mommy.



A few Christmases ago I bought an awesome cookbook for my sister (and one for myself).  It's called The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, by Beatrice Ojakangas.  Within are tons of Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, and Danish recipes.  I've baked many of them, and they've all been fantastic.  Many remind me of the baked goods I tasted in Norway when visiting my grandma, uncles, aunts, and cousins over the years.

This Swedish Apple Cake is *very* close to the recipe I've been searching for, with the exception of the almonds.  My mom never added nuts to her Norwegian Apple Cake.   I've adapted it a little bit, but the essence is the same.

The batter is simple----butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, chopped apples, vanilla, and sliced almonds.  Additional apples are cut into wedges, tossed in cinnamon and sugar,  and nestled into the batter, which has been spread into a springform pan.   Then more sliced almonds are sprinkled on top, as well as some coarse "pearl" sugar.

The cake is baked for an hour or so, then cooled.  Once the collar of the springform pan is released, you can hardly wait to cut a slice!

A scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of freshly whipped cream would be perfect atop this cake, especially if served warm.  Oh my.

Enjoy the recipe!!!

Swedish Apple Cake

2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon almond extract or vanilla extract
6 small to medium apples
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sliced almonds, divided
3 tablespoons pearl sugar

Butter a 10 inch round springform pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel the apples.  Core and slice four of them into 8 wedges each.  Core and chop the remaining two apples. 

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the almond extract or vanilla extract.

Combine the flour and baking powder.  Mix into the creamed mixture until well blended.  Fold in the chopped apples and ½ cup almond slices.  Spread batter into prepared springform pan.

In a medium bowl, toss apple wedges with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon.  Press apple wedges into the cake batter in a circular pattern with the wedges all facing the same direction.  Pour any remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture over the apples.  Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup almond slices over the apples.  Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons pearl sugar.  (Pearl sugar is coarse sugar.  Regular granulated sugar can be used.)

Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake and gently remove the collar of the springform pan.  Cool.  Serve with freshly whipped cream, if desired.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Sugar Cookie Chex Mix

Who doesn't love Chex Mix?   There are so many varieties----sweet, salty, spicy----something to satisify every tastebud!

Have you ever visited the Chex website?  Look at all the recipes

It's Halloween Party Time in my kids' classes, so today I made this Halloween Sugar Cookie Chex Mix for them to bring and share with their friends.

I began with the recipe for Sugar Cookie Chex from the Chex website.   I adapted it by adding some candy corn, Multigrain Cheerios, mini pretzels, and Halloween sprinkles.   I think the kids will like it!

Here's my adapted recipe:

Halloween Sugar Cookie Chex Mix

2 cups Chex cereal
2 cups Multigrain Cheerios
2 cups mini pretzels
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 ounces white candy coating
1 bag candy corn
3 Tbsp. Halloween sprinkles

Measure Chex, Cheerios, and pretzels and pour into a large bowl. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Spray a large cookie sheet with nonstick spray.

In a small saucepan, melt butter, sugar, and corn syrup.  Over medium heat, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda.  Pour over dry ingredients.  Stir gently.

Pour onto cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and stir gently, and bake for another 15 minutes.

Pour snack mix onto a large sheet of wax paper on your countertop.  Distribute candy corn over top of snack mix.  Sprinkle powdered sugar over top and stir gently.  Melt white chocolate in a small microwave safe bowl and drizzle over snack mix.  Sprinkle the Halloween sprinkles over the melted chocolate.  Cool completely.  Gently bread apart.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar again if desired.  Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Crumble Cake

If you're thinking ahead to the holidays and what you will be baking for dessert this year, give this recipe a shot!   It's a Pumpkin Pie Crumble Cake, and has all the flavors of your traditional pumpkin pie, but with a twist. 

There's a bottom crust made with a yellow cake mix, butter, and eggs.  Then there's the pumpkin pie layer with pumpkin, eggs, sugar, spices, and evaporated milk.  On top, the crumble---a little reserved cake mix, chopped nuts, sugar, and butter.   When it's baked, great things happen.   A little bit of pie, a little bit of cake, all mixed together to make a fantastic dessert!!

This would be perfect served with freshly whipped cream (or cool whip if you're that kinda girl), but since I lacked both of those, I just dusted the top with some powdered sugar.   Definitely plan ahead, unlike me, and get some whipped cream.  Perfection!!

Pumpkin Pie Crumble Cake

1 package yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, softened
4 large eggs
2 cans (15 oz. each) pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 can (5 oz) evaporated milk
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, chilled
1 cup chopped pecans
Cool Whip or whipped cream for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease bottom and side of 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Measure out 1 cup of cake mix and set aside. Place the remaining cake mix, 1 egg, and 1 stick softened butter into a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer until well combined. Press into the bottom of pan. For the filling, place the pumpkin, evaporated milk, 1 cup sugar, cinnamon, and 3 eggs in the same bowl used to prepare the crust. Blend on low speed with same beaters (no need to wash) for 1 to 2 minutes on medium speed until mixture lightens in color and texture. Pour over crust and spread to edges. For the topping, place remaining ¼ cup sugar, the chilled butter, and the reserved 1 cup cake mix into a clean medium-sized mixing bowl. Beat with clean beaters on low speed until just combined and crumbly. Add pecans and distribute evenly with a fork. Sprinkle evenly over pumpkin filling. Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until the center no longer jiggles when you jostle the pan. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Slice and serve with whipped cream.

Pumpkin Biscuits

I recently made these awesome pumpkin biscuits for my family for breakfast.  What is it about the flavors of pumpkin and cinnamon in the fall months?   Scrumptious!

The recipe is from Country Living magazine, and is soooo good.    I made the biscuits in a cute pumpkin shape, and served them with honey butter.  ( I adapted the recipe just a little bit with the addition of cinnamon and a little sugar, and by omitting the cayenne pepper.)


Pumpkin Biscuits

4 cups flour
2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 cup butter, chilled
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl.  Slice the chilled butter into small pieces and cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Set aside.  Combine the pumpkin puree and honey in a small bowl.  Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Add the buttermilk and stir just until the mixture clings together and is combined.

Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and set aside.  Turn the biscuit dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 10 times.  Roll the dough out to 3/4 inch thickness.  Cut out with a 3 1/2 inch biscuit cutter (or pumpkin shaped cookie cutter!)  Gather dough scraps, gently press together, and repeat until all of the dough is used.  Place cut biscuits 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet.  Bake until golden ---20 to 25 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack or serve immediately with honey butter or apple butter.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

TWD: Bagels!

You know what I am enjoying most about being a part of the Tuesdays With Dorie baking club?  I'm challenged to bake things I'd never otherwise even consider trying.  For example, bagels.  Panera makes perfectly scrumptious bagels!  I'd never thought to try making them on my own!

Yesterday, I did.

It was my kinda fun.  I'm a home-body.  I love to spend the day in the kitchen, working on fussy recipes like this one.  The results are typically out of this world, and so worth the time and effort!

This recipe, while not super complicated, has lots and lots of steps.  I had to read the recipe over and over again to make sure I got everything straight and in order before beginning.   Measuring cups, ingredients, sheet pans, pots of boiling water, etc. etc. etc.   And time.   Plenty of uninterrupted time.

Begin by mixing the dough ingredients and kneading, either by hand or with a strong stand mixer.   The dough is set aside to rise for an hour, then punched down, and placed in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours to rest and chill.

The dough is divided and formed by hand into smooth balls.

 The balls of dough are then shaped into rings, beginning by poking a finger in the center and gently stretching and pulling.   They rest on a floured tea cloth while the boiling water is prepared with a little sugar and baking soda.

The bagels are boiled for 1-1 1/2 minutes on each side.  (I had two small pots of water boiling at the same time to speed things up a bit.)

After being patted dry, the bagels are placed on a corn-meal dusted baking sheet.  A glaze of egg white and water is brushed on, followed by a sprinkling of toppings.  (I had coarse sea salt, poppy seed, sesame seed, and re-hydrated dried onion flakes.)

The bagels are baked in a super hot oven with a steam bath (a few ice cubes tossed into a pan on the bottom of the oven) for 25 minutes.  The oven is turned off and the bagels sit another 5 minutes with the oven door shut, followed by an additional 5 minutes with the oven door opened.

They are removed to cool completely on a wire rack, sitting there, tempting you, taunting you.  They are glossy and smell scrumptious and you can't wait to bite into one!!

Finally, you cut into a bagel and revel in your accomplishment.  The texture is chewy and perfect!

I enjoyed this onion bagel with a slathering of cream cheese for lunch yesterday.  Perfectly bagel-licious!

My hubby enjoyed a warm bagel sandwich for supper last night with turkey and pepper jack cheese.

My daughter enjoyed a plain bagel with raspberry jam and butter for breakfast today.  Needless to say, we're all impressed with this recipe and we're enjoying the "fruits" of my labor!

Today's host for Tuesday With Dorie is Heather at Heather's Bytes.   Please visit her blog for the complete recipe and directions.

I will definitely be making this recipe again.  I'd like to try a sweet variety of bagels, perhaps a cinnamon-raisin, or orange-cranberry bagel.  I do wonder about a blueberry bagel, which my kids love.  Should I mix fresh blueberries into the batter in the first step of mixing?  Should I knead them in when forming the dough into balls?  Any suggestions from fellow TWD bakers??

Thanks for visiting!  Again, please visit here to find the recipe. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Flat Apple Pie


It wasn't until the last year or two that I began making pie crust from scratch.  You're familiar with the refrigerated kind that comes in a red box?   Perfectly delicious.  I still buy them.  However, now that I have this recipe, I make my own pie crust far more frequently!

I'm sure you've all heard of Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, right?  I've not yet had the pleasure of meeting Ree, though I came very close last Spring when she was on a cookbook tour in Pittsburgh.  (Her book signing time was at just the wrong time, and the bookstore just far enough away that I couldn't work it out.)  I'll meet her one day!  At least I hope. :) 

Please visit Ree's blog!  You'll laugh, cry, and feel totally connected to her in a you're-a-stranger-yet-I-feel-like-I-know-you sorta way.  

So, this recipe for Flat Apple Pie is absolutely fantastic!  It's not a recipe which calls for perfect fluted edges.  There is no pie pan involved---it's a rustic, free-formed pie---perfect for pie beginners!

You begin by mixing the pie dough and rolling it out.  The recipe makes two pies.

The filling is simple----fresh sliced apples, a squirt of lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, a wee bit of flour,  and an even tinier smidgen of salt.  

Pile the filling into the center of each rolled out crust.   I added some toasted walnuts to one of our pies.  Ohhhh, just perfect!

Fold the crust up over the apples and dot with butter.

Bake until golden brown.  *note*  Do NOT use cookie sheets without sides!  You should have seen my husband and I fanning the smoke away from the smoke detector.  Oh yes.  The juice from the apples and sugar leaked from the pies and off of my side-less cookie sheets, burning on the bottom of the oven.  Yikes.    We had a good laugh....and a good upper-body workout with the 20+ minutes of fanning!

Allow the baked pies to cool a little bit on the pan, then remove to a cutting board or serving platter to cool until ready to serve.

Serve with whipped cream, or better yet, vanilla ice cream!

Here's the recipe from Ree!

Flat Apple Pie
~Ree Drummond~


5 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 recipe Perfect Pie Crust, recipe follows
6 tablespoons butter


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In large bowl, stir together the apples, brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, salt and lemon juice. Set aside and see how long you can keep from sneaking a slice of apple.
With a rolling pin, begin rolling out the Perfect Pie Crusts into large circles. Roll the dough from the center outward. Be gentle and patient, it'll take a little time to get the dough completely rolled out.

If you think the bottom is really sticking to the surface below, use a nice, sharp spatula to loosen the dough and sprinkle some extra flour on top. Then flip it over to finish rolling. Remember to roll from the center in single, outward strokes, no back-and-forth rolling.
Again with a spatula, loosen and lift the dough and carefully place the circles on large baking sheets.

Place half the apple mixture on one crust and the other half on the other crust. Fold over the edges of each crust so that it covers 2 to 3 inches of the apple mixture. No need to be artistic - the more rustic the better. Dot the tops of the pies with chunks of the butter.
Bake until the filling is golden and bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. If the crust appears to brown too quickly, cover the edges with aluminium foil for the remaining baking time.
Allow to cool slightly, then slice into wedges with a pizza cutter. Eat 'em on the go!

Perfect Pie Crust

3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks cold butter
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
5 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add in the butter and shortening. Using a pastry cutter, gradually work the butter and shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles tiny pebbles. This step should take 3 or 4 minutes.
Lightly beat the egg with a fork, and then add it to the mixture. Next, add in the cold water and vinegar. Stir the mixture together until it's just combined, and then remove half the dough from the bowl. Yield: dough for 2 crusts.

Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins

I've mentioned my love of pumpkin treats, right?  This must be one of my all time favorites.  Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins.

Mmmmmm.  The muffin is moist and pumpkiny, but the best part is the hidden cream cheese swirl in the center.  Such a sweet surprise!  And on top?  A yummy streusel.  Perfection!!

This recipe has sentimental value to me as well.  Is that odd, to be emotionally attached to a recipe??  It's tattered and worn, ripped out of a magazine over 8 years ago.  My sweet Emma was a newborn and was spending some time (13 days to be exact) in the NICU after she was born.  One Sunday morning I was visiting her and enjoying as many snuggles as I could while hubby took my other two sweeties to church.  After my time with Emma I sat in the front waiting area, waiting for them to pick me up.  It was that day that I flipped through the September edition of Country Living Magazine.  Was it so wrong of me to rip out this recipe??   I have no guilt about that.    ;)

I've enjoyed this recipe time and time again since that precious day.  Each fall as I unfold the magazine clipping I remember the sounds, smells, and feelings associated with that time, and I'm thankful that the Lord strengthened Emma.  She's now a boisterous, incredibly smart, athletic, and super adorable 8 year old, and I can't imagine a day without her hugs and giggles!!

Want the recipe?   Here you go!   (It's a bit fussy---there are three steps----batter, filling, and topping---but the time and effort is surely worth it!  Enjoy!)

Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
2 ½ cups sugar
2 ½ cups flour
1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 ¼ cup solid-packed pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat two 12-cup standard muffin tins with oil and set aside.

Mix the cream cheese, 1 egg, and 3 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Toss 5 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 cup flour, pecans, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Combine the remaining sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining cinnamon in a large bowl. Lightly beat the remaining eggs, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla together in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour the pumpkin mixture into the well, and mix with a fork just until moistened. Evenly divide half of the batter among the muffin cups. Place two teaspoonfuls of cream cheese filling in the center of each cup and fill with the remaining batter. Sprinkle some of the pecan mixture over the top of each muffin and bake until golden and a tester, inserted into the muffin center, comes out clean -- 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Autumn Welcome Cake

Our church welcomed a new youth pastor and wife this weekend!   All of the decorations are made with fondant.  The cake is pumpkin with a cream cheese icing.  Delicious!

TWD: Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaves

I love, love, love pumpkin recipes in the fall, so I was very excited to try this recipe.  I've never made a yeast bread with pumpkin before! 

I have a confession.  I didn't follow the recipe completely.   The dough was supposed to be refrigerated overnight in between the first and second rise, then brought back to room temperature.  My impatience took over, as well as my practical sense of not fully understanding the need for refrigeration.  Who knows?  Perhaps my loaves do indeed lack "character" as described in the recipe, resulting from the refrigeration!?

Regardless, my three mini loaves turned out beautifully!

I used dried sweetened cranberries instead of the called-for fresh cranberries.  My local produce dude said I'm "too early" with such a request, and there were no cranberries in the freezer section.  Since my kiddos love to snack on the dried, sweetened variety, it's all good.  They are perfectly delicious!

The dough is rather sticky to begin with, but rises beautifully.   Look at those yummy toasted walnuts and sweet cranberries!

The dough is divided in three, then patted into rough 5 by 7 rectangles....

....rolled up....

....and placed in mini loaf pans.....

....to rise a second time.   (That is, if you disregard the refrigeration as instructed in the recipe.)

The loaves are baked for about 35 minutes (mine were ready at 30), then cooled on a wire rack.   My family is really looking forward to having this tomorrow for breakfast!   Don't tell them I snuck a piece while taking pictures for this post.....shhhhhh! 

There is no comparison between this loaf of bread and a typical "quick bread" type of pumpkin bread.  The two recipes are completely different, and honestly shouldn't be compared.  The pumpkin flavor in this recipe is far less pronounced, and the bread is not very sweet.  That said, it's yeasty goodness with crunchy walnuts and sweet cranberries is simply delicious.  I'm already looking forward to my next slice, even as I type!

This week's host is Rebecca of This Bountiful Backyard.  Rebecca and I seem to have a few things in common----former teachers and now stay-at-home moms being two of them!  Please visit Rebecca's blog for the complete recipe for these lovely Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaves.  And if your interest is even more piqued, buy the cookbook, Baking With Julia, by Dorie Greenspan.  If you're up for some adventurous baking, you'll love it as much as I.