Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pumpkin Scones with Brown Butter Glaze

I know you're probably sick of pumpkin… move on from fall and Thanksgiving to more winter and Christmas foods, right? Not me - I love pumpkin and I just haven't had my fill yet. So I made these pumpkin scones. They were absolutely delicious and disappeared fast. I enjoyed mine with a chai tea latte - perfect combination. If you've still got a craving for pumpkin, give these a try… I think you'll love them on a cold morning for breakfast or a chilly night for dessert.


Pumpkin Scones with Brown Butter Glaze
3 cups flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk*
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 cup butterscotch chips (optional)

for the glaze…
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon milk
4 tablespoons butter

*If you don't have buttermilk on hand, just add a teaspoon or so of vinegar to regular milk and allow to sit for a few minutes. The milk will curdle and work perfectly.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add the pieces of cold butter, using a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a course meal (about pea-sized pieces). You could also use a food processor to blend. 

In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla. Add the mixture to the large bowl and stir until just combined. Fold in the pecans and/or butterscotch chips if using.

Use a small scoop to drop scone batter onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes or until just browned. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

to make the glaze…
Heat the butter in a small saucepan until just browned and bubbling. In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla, milk, and butter. Stir until smooth, adding powdered sugar if needed to thicken or a drop of milk if needed to thin. 

Drizzle glaze on cooled scones. Enjoy!!

recipe from

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Caramel & Banana Napoleon

I'm not sure what possessed me to make this dessert, but I saw bananas in our fruit bowl and suddenly had a craving for some kind of dessert with banana. I don't even like banana much. It's probably my least favorite fruit. I certainly never pick up a banana, peel it, and eat it for breakfast. I suppose I can like anything if I turn it into a dessert… maybe I should try it with mushrooms (my least favorite vegetable). So even if you don't like bananas, try this light, simple, and delicious caramel & banana napoleon. It's layered with flaky puffed pastry, luscious vanilla pudding, bananas, and caramel.

Caramel & Banana Napoleon
2 bananas, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 box vanilla instant pudding
2 cups cold milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed*
1/2 cup caramel sauce**
1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash

* You'll find puff pastry in a box in the freezer section of your local market. Near the desserts and frozen pie crusts.
** You can use store-bought caramel sauce or make some at home. It's really not that hard… combine 1/4 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and continue simmering until it turns a deep amber color. Slowly add the cream and whisk until smooth. Allow to cool. 

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unroll one sheet of puff pastry (there are usually two in a box) on the parchment paper. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the pastry in thirds along the fold lines and then in thirds again, creating 9 squares. Separate the squares and brush with egg wash. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden.


While your pastry is baking, make the pudding and whipped cream…
Using an electric mixer, combine milk and pudding mix in a large bowl. Beat for about 3 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken. Set aside (or store in the refrigerator if not assembling the napoleons right away).

In another bowl, combine the whipping cream and powdered sugar. Beat with the electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate if not using right away.

Allow the pastry squares to cool. They should puff up into flaky layers. Carefully separate each square into two pieces. Place a "bottom" on each plate, top each bottom with a layer of caramel, then some sliced bananas, a layer of pudding, a second layer of bananas, and a drizzle of caramel. Top with the "top" piece of each pastry square. Add a dollop of whipped cream next to each napoleon, dust with powdered sugar, and add another drizzle of caramel.

Delicious, right?! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies with Toffee Bits

Emily found a recipe (along with some beautiful pictures) on a food-blog favorite of ours... The Novice Chef. So I surprised her by making them - with some slight adjustments of my own. The secret to keeping these cookies soft and chewy is corn starch. It's also the key to another favorite cookie of mine, the chewy almond sugar cookie.

I flew these in my suitcase from Oklahoma to California in a Tupperware container. They traveled perfectly! So these would be great for packaging as Christmas gifts!


Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies with Toffee Bits
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup toffee bits (you can usually find these in the market near the bags of chocolate chips)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer if you have one, beat butter and sugars together. Add egg and vanilla, beating until smooth. Slowly add the flour mixture, beating until completely combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and toffee bits (I use a large spatula to fold everything together).

Use a small cookie scoop (about 1 to 2 tablespoons) to scoop even amounts onto your prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between the cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not over bake!

Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. These are really delicious, actually luscious, to eat warm out of the oven - be careful not to burn your mouth.


recipe slightly adapted from

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pumpkin Fudge

This is one of my all-time favorite fudge recipes. I love just about anything with pumpkin. I make this fudge every year around the holidays. Give it a try and add it to your Thanksgiving dessert spread. It will definitely be part of mine.

Pumpkin Fudge
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
9 oz. white chocolate, chopped
7 oz. jar marshmallow crème
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
ground cinnamon, for sprinkling (optional)

Line a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with foil, allowing extra to hang over the sides of the pan. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large heavy saucepan, (I use the biggest one possible so I don't boil it over and get it all over my stove. I've boiled thing over about a hundred times. My stove takes a beating because things are always boiling over in my kitchen... I spend a lot of time cleaning up after myself.) Back to the fudge... In a large heavy saucepan, heat the sugar, butter, evaporated milk, pumpkin puree, corn syrup, and pumpkin pie spice and bring to a boil. Heat to 234 degrees on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage if you're a pro like my mom and can just "tell" when it's at soft ball stage). Remove from heat and stir in the chopped white chocolate, marshmallow creme, and vanilla.

Pour the fudge into your prepared pan and sprinkle the top with a little ground cinnamon. Let the fudge sit at room temperature for about 2 hours or until firm. Lift the fudge out of the pan all at once using the foil overhang. Place on a cutting board and cut the fudge into 1-inch pieces using a sharp knife.


slightly adapted from

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Kale, Pine Nut, and Ricotta Pizza

I am becoming a big fan of kale. It's so good for you and it can be quite yummy. One of my favorite ways to eat kale is as a chip. Yep - waaaaay healthier than a fried potato chip. Try this kale chip recipe for a great snack. Or if you're looking for a quick dinner - go for this delicious kale, pine nut, and ricotta pizza. You can throw it together in no time!

Kale, Pine Nut, and Ricotta Pizza
1 to 2 cups kale (washed, dried, and shredded into bite-sized pieces)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 cup ricotta
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup shredded mozzarella
pizza dough (I like to use the Pilsbury thin crust that you buy in a tube in the refrigerator section of the market)

Prepare your dough on a pizza pan. I grease my pan, then spread the refrigerated dough evenly on the pan. I pre-bake my dough for 5 minutes at 400 degrees to make it a bit more crispy.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta and nutmeg. Drizzle the olive oil over the prepared crust. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella, spread the bite-sized kale pieces evenly on the dough. Drop little dollops of the ricotta mixture on top and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is starting to brown.


recipe slightly adapted from

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Shrimp Pad Thai

I think my favorite style and flavors (aside from dessert, of course) would have to be Asian. Here's a simple Asian dish that's easy to put together (perfect for a weeknight meal), rather healthy, and very flavorful... delicious, in fact.

Shrimp Pad Thai
4 ounces dried pad Thai noodles (flat rice noodles)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate
4 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 minced shallot
1 teaspoon dried lemongrass
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 large eggs
2 ounces cooked shrimp
2/3 cup finely chopped scallions
2 tablespoons crushed roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons mung bean sprouts
lime wedges

Place the noodles in a medium bowl and cover with hot water; soak until softened, about 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, tamarind, fish sauce and vinegar and mix well to form a thick sauce. If you can't find the tamarind at your local market, sometimes you can find a Pad Thai mix in a pouch. Check the Asian aisle in your local market. In another small bowl, combine the ginger, garlic, shallots and lemongrass.

In a wok or skillet, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the eggs and scramble them until just set and cooked through, but not browned. Add the shrimp, ginger mixture and noodles and mix until warmed through. Stir in the tamarind sauce and cook, stirring, until noodles are evenly coated (about 1 minute). Stir in the scallions.
Transfer the pad Thai to bowls. Garnish each bowl with peanuts, bean sprouts and a lime wedge.


recipe slightly adapted from

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pear, Parsnip, & Blue Cheese Tartines

These are such a delicious and easy appetizer or light meal. I paired these flavorful bites with some butternut squash soup (my favorite this time of year). They are decadent. They also feel kind of fancy, which I think is fun (Mark always says I'm also drawn to anything that sparkles - must make me feel fancy - like these tartines). Tartine: a French open-faced sandwich. Fancy, right?!

Pear, Parsnip, & Blue Cheese Tartines
1 baguette, sliced thinly along a diagonal*
1 pear
2 or 3 parsnips
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon sour cream or creme fraiche

*You can make this gluten-free by simply using a gluten-free baguette or gluten-free bread of your choice.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Shave the parsnips (they look like carrots, but they are white and don't taste like carrots at all) into very thin strips using a madolin slicer or vegetable peeler. (I just used a vegetable peeler because it meant I only needed to dirty one cutting utensil.) Rub the thin strips with the olive oil, place on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until starting to brown on the edges. Watch these carefully. If they are very thin, they'll burn easily. But making them thin also makes them crispy, so slice as thin as you can. Remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, spread a small amount of sour cream or creme fraiche on each little slice of baguette. Top with thinly sliced pear (I just used the vegetable peeler to slice thin strips of pear). Add a slice of blue cheese on top of the pear on each tartine. Place the tartines on a baking sheet and set oven to BROIL. Place the tartines in the oven and broil for about 5 to 7 minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble. 

Remove the tartines from the oven and top with the crispy parsnip strips. Serve hot. Enjoy!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Whole Wheat Cream Cheese Filled Pumpkin Muffins


Oh I LOVE pumpkin!!!! I think I've mentioned this before. I could eat pumpkin everything this time of year... waffles, pancakes, cookies, soup, cappuccinos, bread, and MUFFINS! I found a recipe for a rather healthy pumpkin muffin - perfect for breakfast (from one of my favorite food bloggers - Annie's Eats). You don't have to feel guilty about these muffins. They have whole grains, fruit and veggies, and just a little sugar and oil (just a little won't hurt).

Whole Wheat Cream Cheese Filled Pumpkin Muffins
for the filling...
4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon honey

for the muffins...
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup canola oil
scant 1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

for the crumble topping...
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons quick oats
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, cold, in pieces

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

First make the cream cheese filling. Whisk together in cream cheese and honey in a medium bowl until smooth (you can use an electric mixer to make it easier). Transfer the filling to a large ziplock bag or pastry bag and set aside.

Next make the crumble topping. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the butter in pieces and use clean fingers to blend the mixture into a crumble. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, oil, and applesauce (you can use an electric mixer again for this part if you want). Blend until smooth. Add the flour, spices, salt, and baking soda to the mixture and blend until completely mixed.

Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full with muffin batter. Snip a hole in the corner of the ziplock bag (or pastry bag) and squeeze a dollop of cream cheese filling on top of the batter in the center of each muffin cup. (I suppose you could also just drop it in with a spoon, but this method just seems much easier to me.) Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, topping each dollop of cream cheese with batter. Sprinkle the crumble topping on each muffin.


Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

I think these go perfectly with a cup of Chai Tea or a Pumpkin Cappuccino. Enjoy!

slightly adapted from

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

These are super easy to make and ohhhhhhh soooooo decadent. I made them gluten-free by simply using a gluten-free all-purpose flour. They're soft and gooey like a brownie with that delicious hazelnut flavor from the Nutella and the sea salt really adds the perfect kick to make it even more flavorful.

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt
1 cup Nutella
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips
sea salt

In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients except the sea salt. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle each cookie with a little sea salt. Bake for  8 to 10 minutes. Remove and cool slightly on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Baked Pumpkin Donuts

I love this time of year... I don't really love the chill in the air (I must admit that I really would rather wear shorts and hand out by the pool every day. I love hot weather.)... but I do love the flavors that come with this season - warm cinnamon and pumpkin. Yumm! These little donuts are so easy to make and not as bad for you as that fried donut from your favorite coffee shop. I enjoy mine with a little chai tea latte - a pumpkin spice one!


Baked Pumpkin Donuts
1/2 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons flour

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the wells of a donut pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, spice, salt, and baking powder (using an electric mixer if you have one) until smooth. Add the flour and stir to combine.

Spoon some batter into the wells of your donut pan, filling them about 3/4 full. You'll likely have enough batter for about 12. 

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Top with a little maple frosting or a dusting of cinnamon sugar.

To make maple frosting, combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons water, 2 teaspoons maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon maple extract in a bowl until smooth. Add water a few drops at a time if needed to thin. Drizzle the frosting on the donuts or spread on with a knife.


adapted from

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Samoa Cupcakes

Mmmmm.... Girl Scout cookies. One of my favorites? Samoas (Emily's too)... I think they might call them caramel delights now? But when I was a little Girl Scout, they were called Samoas. I found a great recipe for them at Annie's Eats (one of my favorite blogs - you should check it out). I knew I had to try them.

I will say that they are quite involved. You need to start well in advance because these cupcakes require many steps. But they are worth it!

Samoa Cupcakes
for the cupcakes - mix up your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe. if you don't have one, try this

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar

for the shortbread cookies*
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

*you could also just buy some shortbread cookies and cut them to fit in the bottom of the cupcake

for the chocolate ganache
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup caramel sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

for the coconut caramel topping
15 ounces soft caramels
3 tablespoons milk
pinch salt
2 cups shredded coconut, toasted
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

First you'll need to make the shortbread cookies (or take a short-cut and buy some).

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix to combine. Last add the milk and vanilla and mix. Chill the dough for 1 hour.  Remove from the refrigerator and roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness and use a small round cookie cutter. Place on a cookie sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes.

Next make the cupcakes.

Combine all cupcake ingredients in a large bowl.  Prepare a cupcake pan with paper liners. Place a shortbread cookie at the bottom of each cupcake well. Top each cookie with cupcake batter, filling each well about 3/4 full. Bake the cupcakes for 18 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool completely.

Prepare the chocolate ganache.

Bring the caramel sauce and heavy cream to a simmer in a small pot. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Stir in the coconut extract.

Top each cupcake with a layer of the ganache. You will likely have a bit left over. Place it in a ziplock bag to use as the signature chocolate drizzle at the very end.

The last step is my favorite part of this treat (well, my favorite part to eat... not exactly my favorite part to prepare). You need to work a bit quickly with this caramel coconut topping because once it is melted and then begins to cool, it gets quite sticky and difficult to manipulate. In a heat-safe bowl, melt the caramels with the milk in the microwave at 30-second intervals until smooth, stirring between intervals. Stir in the salt and coconut extract. Lastly, fold in the shredded toasted coconut.

Using a knife or offset spatula, top each cupcake with the caramel coconut topping.

I then used the handle of a wooden spoon to make a whole in the topping to resemble the traditional cookie version of this delicious treat. Finish these off by snipping a small corner from the ziplock bag containing the extra ganache and drizzling some chocolate on each cupcake.

See... kind of a long process. But they will bring you back to those yummy Girl Scout cookies. Enjoy!

inspired by

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Whole Wheat Raspberry Scones


I love having a homemade breakfast treat to take to work with me in the morning. Especially on Mondays... it just makes the week start out a little bit sweeter. Try these delicious and rather healthy scones with your favorite coffee or tea in the morning (or as a snack any time during the day)!

Whole Wheat Raspberry Scones
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (if you don't have whole wheat flour you can use another cup of all-purpose)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 cup sour cream or plain or vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg, beaten

for the egg wash... 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk

for the glaze...
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon raspberry puree (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the butter with two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Gently stir in the raspberries. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vanilla, and egg. Add the liquid mixture to the large bowl and fold with a spatula to combine.

Dump the mixture onto a well-floured surface and pat into a circle. Using a sharp knife, cut the circle into 8 equal segments (you can cut each segment a second time if you want smaller scones). Place the scones about 2 inches apart on your prepared baking sheet.

Brush the top of each scone with the egg wash. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and water until smooth. Add a few drops of water if needed to thin. Spread glaze on each scone.

If you wish to add the raspberry drizzle, add a little raspberry puree to the remaining glaze. Place the raspberry glaze in a ziplock bag, snip off one corner, and drizzle the raspberry glaze on each scone.