Friday, November 30, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Donuts

Since today is the last day of November I figured it's probably nearly time to say farewell to pumpkin until next year.  There are too many delicious Christmas flavors to be wallowing in pumpkin.  These babies are the perfect farewell. Plus your kids will think you're magical because you can make donuts.  Who does that, anyway?

These are baked in a donut pan so they come out perfectly every time and you don't have to worry about disfiguring your hands with boiling oil and ending up in the emergency room.  Great right?  To make them healthier, you can roll them in the cinnamon sugar coating while still warm, but I highly recommend dipping them in butter first like the recipe states.  It truly does something magical.
(I am a closet-butter-hater, so this is serious business.)

My hubby is participating in a Biggest Loser competition at work (Really, I have no idea where that need came from... We basically just eat vegetables at our house all the time), and this is one of the treats I am going to go back and make just for him when it's over.  I realize that sounds completely backwards, but these are yummy enough that it's just on the must-list. 

Happy Last Day of November!!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Razzleberry Pie

Since I'm posting Thanksgiving recipes today,  here are my thoughts on Black Friday as well:

I don't really get why people go to movies over Thanksgiving weekend.

An even better idea is to grab some popcorn and stake out a spot at Walmart in view of the doorbusters.

Watching 100 adolescents and adults in a frenzy over the PS3 display?  Easily the most entertaining part of my Thanksgiving weekend.

And free.

I couldn't help laughing out loud.  Multiple times.  The people at my Walmart are pretty nice so I was in a happy mood, but if you get your nose broken by some Grandma's purse or your My Little Pony set for your kids is stolen by a shopper in drag, I can understand having differing feelings.

That's ok.

We can still bond over pie.


Razzleberry pie.

It knocks the socks off of Marie Callendar's Razzleberry (the most delicious pre-made pie ever), so that, my friends, is saying something.

This pie is easy and delicious.  It was a bit tart, so I may add more sugar next time but my husband and my mom thought it was perfectly tart.  Personal opinion I suppose.  It would definitely have been fabulous with a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

PLEASE make a homemade crust for this.  It really makes a difference!

I’m partying at the Pi Day Pie Party at Crazy for Crust today. Come party with us!
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Rustic Pie Crust {Flakiest pie crust ever}

This pie crust is SO flaky and crumbly and has a wonderful texture.  I do think it is more difficult to work with than my easy flaky pie crust, so if you are a beginner, you may want to try that one.

Once cooked, this crust has a beautiful rustic look to it.  It is perfect for fruit pies that use a double-crust.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Banana Cream Pie

When my husband and I got married, I warned him I have big plans for family reunions when we are old and have grown up kids and grandchildren.  These plans involve family trivia games and lots of cream pies which will obviously be thrown in the face of anyone who gets a question wrong.

He thinks I am joking, which I don't really understand, because this is obviously a very serious plan.

Fun people like to get pies thrown in their faces.

Plus pie is delicious so a family reunion planned around pie has to be a slam dunk. 

Banana cream pie is one of my favorite cream pies.  I love it the first day it's made when the bananas are still fresh, and it's pretty good the day after as well.

So many banana cream pies are insanely sweet, so I cut down the sugar a bit in this recipe.  This is a really great pudding pie base, and coconut could be exchanged for the bananas (just mix 1 cup shredded coconut into the pudding) for a coconut version instead.

This pie MUST be refrigerated overnight before eating.  The banana flavor intensifies overnight.  If you eat it the day you make it, it will taste like a vanilla pudding pie with bananas mixed in.

We really can't have that, can we?

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Coconut Cream Pie

Thanksgiving for me is about the pie.

And having enough pie leftovers to eat for the next two days.

In the spirit of this conviction I have a whole bunch of pie recipes to share with you this week.  I made 5 new pies this Thanksgiving and only one of them was not blog-worthy. Save these recipes for next year.  It's always good to have great pie recipes in your arsenal.

This coconut cream pie is delicious.  Not overly sweetened and perfectly coconutty.  I found unsweetened coconut in the bulk section at Winco.  I have not had any luck finding it in the baking sections at regular grocery stores.  Mine was finely shredded (think very very finely shredded cheese), so if yours is long thick strands, you may want to put it in your food processor until you  have teensy shreds.  I personally don't care for long chunks of coconut in my pie.  Also I made this on a graham cracker crust but next time I'll use a regular pastry crust.  Personal preference only so use whichever you like.

I’m partying at the Pi Day Pie Party at Crazy for Crust today. Come party with us!
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Lindt Chocolate RSVP Preview Party

A few weeks ago Lindt & Sprungli (Swiss chocolatiers) contacted me and invited me to host a preview party for a new program they have called Lindt RSVP.   This is a home party program where consultants lead taste testings in someone's home and guests who are interested can order products from their catalog.  This party was a preview so in my case, there was no consultant. I just lead a little taste testing of some Lindt products and we sampled a variety of chocolates they sent me.  It was such a fun opportunity and such a great idea for a girls night. Women do tend to love chocolate you know.

If you've been reading for long you probably already know I love Lindt.  My dad has practically changed his citizenship to Swiss and in his frequent trips to Europe the one brand he always brings home is Lindt.  It's the real deal.  European chocolate has very rich chocolate flavors and is smoother and usually less sweet and waxy than American chocolate. I LOVE Lindt for its taste and texture and I also find that it is a dream to dip with.  

Want to see some of the products Lindt sent for our party?

You have probably seen Lindt's assortment of Lindor Truffles at various stores:

I'm convinced this is the stuff dreams are made of.  Before, during, and after the party I managed to sample every flavor of truffle Lindt sent. My personal favorites are the hazelnut, orange, and straciatella.  (Straciatella is like the Italian version of chocolate chip.)  In their catalog they even have peppermint Lindor truffles for Christmas!   *Groan*


Lindt also makes baking bars and even chocolate fudge sauce.  Their Lindt Chocolate Passion cookbook had me drooling.  I might have read it front to back.  The recipes in it are created by Maitres Chocolatiers- master artisans who have spent years studying chocolate and completing apprenticeships in Europe.  These guys know their stuff and the recipes prove it.


Here is one of the chocolate bar sampling trays I set out.  This one has White Chocolate Coconut, Black Currant, and Cranberry.  We also tried 70% dark, and milk.  The hit of the night was White Chocolate Coconut, and Cranberry was a big hit as well.  I like milk chocolate best so I definitely gravitated towards the sweeter chocolates.


An even bigger hit?  The Lindt Classic Chocolate Brownies from their cookbook.  They're so fudgy some of my guests actually thought they were fudge.  Lindt provided me with recipe cards and everyone went home with that one.  I also served a White Chocolate Strawberry drink from the same cookbook that was AMAZING.  Seriously good.  I can't wait to try their recipe for Hot Chocolate. 

Like I said, this was a preview party so there was no consultant, but I got to play that role just for fun and lead a little taste-testing of the Lindt 70% cacao bar.  

Taste-testings consist of using all five senses to experience chocolate.  Here's a brief run-down:

-Look: Examine your piece of chocolate.  Lindt chocolate bars have a silky sheen and an even texture.  Most low quality chocolates are a bit dull.
-Touch: Run your fingers over the surface of the chocolate.  It should be exceptionally smooth.
-Listen: Break your piece of chocolate in half.  You want to hear a sharp "snap"!  If you check out my Chocolate Dipping Tips tab you can see that I recommend chocolate with a "good snap" quite often.  This is a great way to tell a good chocolate bar from one that is loaded with wax and other ingredients.
-Smell:  Smell your chocolate and identify what scents you can pick out.  Fun Fact- The Lindt Chocolatiers are trained to discern hundreds of distinct tones in chocolate.  Seriously.
-Taste: Place a small piece of chocolate on your tongue and let it slowly dissolve in your mouth.  This really is the best way to enjoy any kind of chocolate.  Really savor it!

This was such a fun party to host.  Who wouldn't want to come to a party that's all about chocolate?  If you are interested in hosting a party you can get more details on the Lindt RSVP website.

PS- It's not just adults that love Lindt. 

Have a truffle.

 Have lots of truffles.

There you go.

Disclaimer:  I was not paid to write this review however I did receive free chocolate and supplies to host the party.  All opinions are my own although they may have been slightly influenced by the copious amounts of delicious chocolate I consumed yesterday.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Strawberry Shortbread Bars

How many cats is an appropriate amount to own?  Like twelvish?

One for each month?

Exactly.  I've been telling people this for years.

Just kidding, we only  have one cat, but sometimes when I go to Petsmart I like to pretend I am the mother of all cat lady's.


"Do you think Snuffliekins would like this Reindeer outfit or this Elf outfit better for family pictures?"

"What about Cuddly-boo-boo?  Should he buy this catnip-scented pillow for Fluffy-baby for Christmas?  Maybe we should call and ask him.  I've got him on speed-dial.  He's probably just watching animal planet."

It would probably be even more convincing if I actually brought in twenty cats on leashes and placed them in the cart and talked to them at intervals and waited for them to yowl back.  Maybe this year I can look into volunteering at the Humane Society in the "cat-walking" assignment and we can make that a reality.

Mostly I feel the need to do things like this because I worked at Gap in college.  I know boring jobs.  I like to think I'm providing the employees with some much needed entertainment for the day, and an amusing story to take home to their significant other at night.  Also it keeps me entertained because I am a five year old.

Know what else five year olds like?


I like these best the second day because the flavors meld and the crust becomes super moist and almost "pie-like".  These would be yummy with cherry pie filling as well.

They are not cat-friendly however.  So don't give any to cuddly-boo-boo.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Frosted Animal Cookie Gender Reveal Cupcakes

I have been dying to make gender reveal cupcakes and last week I got the chance to make some for one of Tim's coworkers.  The jist is that you gather friends or family and everyone chooses a cupcake decorated like the gender they believe the baby is.  (Pink or blue).  The cupcakes are filled with pink or blue frosting which reveals the gender the baby actually is once you bite into it. 

This baby was a girl so I got to play with pink frosting which was SO fun for me.

I loved how the animal cookie toppers turned out.  They would be cute for a baby shower even if you don't put them on cupcakes, or you could make them in holiday colors for Halloween or Christmas.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hot Cinnamon Caramel Apple Cider

Is anyone else feeling the sting of holiday craziness yet? I know it's only mid-November but my to-do list is a mile long. 

I mean that literally.

Like, I have to fold it into fiftuplets to fit it in my purse.

Like, people probably think I'm Santa Clause cause I have a list cascading out the back side of my purse when I go out.   Which I obviously scribble on MEANINGFULLY whenever kids crash into me wearing those skate shoes and then don't apologize. 

I'm sure they know I'm Santa cause I look like him and everything.

And yes, fiftuplets is a real measurement.

The good news is that I am not a procrastinator- so even though this month is going to be INSANE- by December I should have all my presents bought/made and wrapped, treats baked, packing lists made, and decorations up, so I can sit on my butt and stare at the Christmas tree and eat baked goods for the entire month of December. 

I highly recommend this method. 

I can't wait for Thanksgiving to be over so I can share lots of Christmas treats with you!

Also- This cider is about 500 times yummier than it appears.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Cream Cheese Spread

This spread tastes like pumpkin pie and you can eat it for breakfast.  That's all you really need to know.  It's perfect on a cinnamon crunch bagel!

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Caramel Apple Oatmeal Crisp

This is one of those desserts that I make every single year.  It just wouldn't be Fall without some caramel apple crisp.  I highly recommend topping with vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce.

Pull out your stretchy pants.  Skinny jeans will be "out" in a few years anyways.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Raspberry Swirl Rolls {& Sweet Roll Tips!}

I used to not be a good sweet roll maker.  Mine always turned out dense and dry.  After lots of trial and error I discovered I was adding WAY too much flour, especially in the rolling out process. My mind-frame of what the dough should look and feel like was totally wrong. I thought if it was sticky at all I hadn't added enough flour.

Lately I've discovered the secret to good sweet rolls is actually adding the least amount of flour possible.  This is what will make your rolls tender and moist.  Your dough should still be very sticky when you put it in a bowl for it's first rise.  After the first rise it loses some of it's stickiness and you can get a better idea of whether you need to add a little more flour or not.

One of the best things you can do to help you use the right amount of flour is use a kitchen scale to measure it.  I've included flour weight below for this recipe like I always do for my cookies.  This really takes a lot of guesswork out of baking sweet rolls.  Especially if you're at a high-altitude.

The other thing I do is use Pam spray instead of flour when rolling out my dough.  Sometimes you will have to add a bit more flour to get your dough to rolling consistency, but rolling the dough on a flour covered surface can really drown your dough in flour unnecessarily.  By spraying your rolling surface and rolling pin with Pam you can keep the dough from sticking, while avoiding adding excess flour.

Finally, make sure you take your rolls out of the oven when they're just barely done.  You don't want raw dough but you really don't want to overbake either or your product will be dry. 

For these raspberry swirl rolls I used raspberries from my garden and the filling was a bit tart.  Taste your berries before beginning and if they're tart add some extra sugar to your filling.   These are best the day they're made.  After that they will begin to dry out like most sweet rolls. These are tender and yummy but I think they would be even better with a cream cheese frosting, so feel free to substitute that for the glaze if you want.  

Happy carbohydrate inhaling!

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White Chocolate Berry Burst Bread

So, I'm wondering, is it normal to have a whole shelf in the pantry that's your shelf??  (Aka- "Children if you eat this I will personally throw all your nerf guns into the wilderness and escort you to the orphanage.")

I walked in to our secondary pantry yesterday and realized I had an entire shelf of hidden food.  Banana Nut Crunch (Dude, children, that stuff is expensive.  No, you cannot have a bowl), Chocolate Peppermint Stick Luna bars, Honey Nut Shredded Wheat.  Gingerbread Oreos.  It's kind of gotten out of control.

Is this normal?

Is this a rite of motherhood or do I have a strange hoarding problem I never realized before?  I really don't want to be on the show hoarders.

On the other hand, when you hoard berries from your garden all summer and hide them away in the freezer, you get to make this bread.  So sometimes hoarding is a good thing, right?

This bread is full of berries and is lightly sweetened.  You can substitute some quick oats to make this healthy enough for breakfast, or you can add extra white chocolate chips to turn this into a sweeter snacking/ dessert bread.
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Rocky Road Caramel Apples

A girl like me can't just make regular old caramel apples for Halloween.  I'm all about the toppings.  How many calories can we load on one apple anyway?  These Reeses apples are my favorites.

This year I made a rocky road version. Totally Disneyland worthy!

Pretend you don't notice I forgot the almonds.

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Apple Pie Caramel Apples

 Pie.  In apple form.

It's a good idea.

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Gooey Chewy Caramel Popcorn Balls

Chewy popcorn balls are a Halloween tradition for us.  I highly recommend eating them while watching a Halloween movie.  Like maybe a cheesy 90's one with a cat named Binx and references to 'yabos'. 

If you know what I'm talking about, I love you.

These popcorn balls are very sweet and heavy on the caramel.  If you like a higher popcorn ratio you can add an additional half bag of popcorn. These stay soft and chewy even once cooled but need to be eaten the same day.  The popcorn gets "stale" after that so unfortunately these aren't great to make ahead.

This is a recipe you'll want to read through before beginning because if you don't live at sea level you may need to do a little calculation to find the right temperature for cooking your caramel. 

That said, I've made these several times without a candy thermometer, just cooking about 5-7 minutes and they've been fine every time.  They may just stick to your teeth a little more.  :)   I live 4500 ft above sea level so I can't vouch for that happening if you live at a very different altitude, but so far these have been foolproof for me. 

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Candy Corn Krispy Treat Bites

The Christmas music is playing at my house today and the 4 boxes of Christmas decor are all hanging out in the laundry room waiting for that pesky Thanksgiving holiday to be over.

 (kidding.  but not entirely.)  

Christmas is great.  People are nice and I get to buy lots of things and travel and husband gets to take off work.  I am religious so more than anything I love that most of the Christian world focuses on the Savior at this time.   What's not to love about it?

That said, I'm obviously having a panic attack about all these Halloween treats that I made last month that I REALLY want to share with you.  ((But that I also REALLY want to get out of the way so holiday baking can begin.)

 Get ready for a posting marathon my friends!

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