Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Butterscotch Chip Muffins

'Tis the season for all things pumpkin, is it not?
These simple, yet moist and delicious, muffins are perfect for fall - or any time, really. These can be whipped up in about 30 minutes from start to finish so are perfect for breakfast or brunch. They also freeze very well so the kids can take one out after school and pop it in the microwave for a snack. 
Quick breads are one of my favorite things to bake. 
Not only because they are "quick" but because they are so versatile and easy to tailor to suit your favorite flavors.

Pumpkin Chocolate Butterscotch Chip Muffins

3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup butterscotch chips
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)
1 cup oil

Preheat oven to 350. Line 20 - 24 muffin tins with paper liners, set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Add in the chocolate and butterscotch chips and walnuts.
In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and sugar until smooth. Whisk in the pumpkin puree and Greek yogurt. Vigorously whisk in the oil until well combined. 

Stir the dry ingredients in to the wet ingredients until just mixed - it's okay if a few small streaks of flour show. Evenly scoop into the prepared muffin tins.
Bake at 350 until muffins are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean, about 15 - 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit in muffin trays for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Serve warm or at room temp. 
See... easy peasy.
You can easily change the 1 cup of add ins - I used 1/3 cup of each chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and walnuts - to any that you like. For example dried cranberries, raisins, pecans, skor bits, caramel bits, dark chocolate chunks, etc. Really, really like chocolate - put in just a cup of chocolate chips and don't worry about anything else. Totally up to you!!! 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

Alright, here's the thing.
We cheated... again....
It's just that it worked soooo well with our Triple Butterscotch Cupcakes for Thanksgiving (recipe HERE) that we thought we should do it again. 
Don't judge.
Who doesn't want delicious cherry and lime cupcakes that also happen to be super de duper easy peasy? No one. That's who. 
Once you make these and see how crazy good they turn out... you'll be cheating too. 
For realz.

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

1 box white cake mix
1 box vanilla pudding mix
2 limes juiced + enough water to make 1 cup
zest of 1 lime
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs

Simple Syrup
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp sugar

Cherry Buttercream
1 1/4 cup butter, room temp
4 - 5 cups cups icing sugar
6 - 8 Tbsp maraschino cherry juice
few drops red food coloring

12 maraschino cherries with stems

Prepare cake - preheat oven to 350. Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat together cake mix, pudding mix, lime juice and water, oil, and eggs until well combined. Scoop evenly into the prepared muffin tins.
Bake at 350 until tops are golden brown and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean, about 20 - 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. 

Then remove from muffin tin to cool completely on wire cooling rack. 
Prepare simple syrup - Stir together lime juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved. 
Brush the simple sugar on the tops of the cupcakes using a basting or pastry brush. Let sit for a few minutes to air dry a bit. 
Prepare buttercream - Beat butter until smooth, scraping sides as needed. Gradually beat in icing sugar and cherry juice and food coloring until you reach spreading consistency. 

Pipe or frost the buttercream on top of each cupcake. Place a maraschino cherry on top of each cupcake.

Chill until ready to serve.

FYI - It might seem like a pain in the patootie but the simple syrup brushed on top of the cupcakes adds even more flavor so is totally worth doing. 
They looked so pretty on a platter with our Triple Butterscotch Cupcakes....

Two alternatives for those of you looking for a non-chocolate dessert cupcake. 
Plus... these are also perfect for an office potluck/party. Everyone in my office loved them! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Slow Cooked Short Ribs

When I started making this recipe I wasn't going to photograph it for the blog. I thought - there is no way I can take a picture where short ribs will look appealing. I thought - I'm going to make them look not delicious and won't do them justice. I's a hunk of beef in gravy. How can I make that look pretty? 
But then, being a food blogger for several years now, I thought.... well.... justincase I better take some shots. 
Good thing I did.
I think they turned out pretty darned appealing and tasty looking. Which is good because this is one of the most delicious dinners I have ever made. 
Not even lying. 
It is sooooooooo simple but is fancy enough to serve to guests you want to impress (in-laws, I'm looking in your direction...) 
Can you call beef short ribs "pretty"? 
Yes, you can.

Slow Cooked Beef Short Ribs

2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 to 3 lbs beef short ribs (bone in)
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 whole shallots (or 1 large onion), finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 cup red wine
2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp flour
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 250. 
In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook short ribs for 2 minutes on each side. Remove ribs and place in bottom of a dutch oven (*these can also be placed in a slow cooker!)
In the frying pan, cook the celery, shallots, and garlic until onion softens - about 3 - 4 minutes. 
Stir in the tomato paste and curry powder and cook for 1 minute. 
Add in red wine, beef broth, and soy sauce. 
Stir in flour and bring sauce to a boil. 

Pour the sauce over the short ribs. 

You may need to a little more liquid as you want it to almost cover the ribs. 
Cook at 250 until meat is very tender and falling off the bones - about 5 hours. **I flipped the meat in the sauce at the 2 hour and 4 hour mark to ensure even cooking.**

Keep warm in oven while you prepare your side dishes - I went with garlic mashed potatoes and peas & carrots. Serve hot.

It is ridiculously tender....
And can we talk about the gravy for a second?
Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan... that is some amazing gravy. Don't waste it. Use every drop. Seriously. 

I'm glad I decided to take some pics. I was very happy with how pretty everything looked. Maybe I was influenced by how crazy good the short ribs tasted!
Note - You can also place everything into a slow cooker instead of a Dutch oven and cook on low for about 9 - 11 hours (it really helps to know your slow cooker!!)
Slow is the way to go!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Triple Butterscotch Cupcakes

These pretty little things were part of our Thanksgiving dessert options.
Can I let you in on a little secret?
We totally cheated with these.
But no one knew. *insert evil laughter here*
We don't often cheat with by starting with a box mix but sometimes it just saves some time. (Especially when we went a little bonkers with our Thanksgiving desserts and made a billion things - check them out HERE.)
Don't want to use a box mix - make your favorite from scratch cake instead. We won't judge. 

Triple Butterscotch Cupcakes

1 box yellow cake mix
1 box butterscotch instant pudding mix
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs

4 Tbsp butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp Butterscotch Ripple liqueur 

4 cups whipping cream
2 boxes butterscotch instant pudding mix

Decorations (optional)
mini chocolate pieces

Cake - Preheat oven to 350. Line 24 muffin trays with paper liners. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together cake mix and pudding mix. Whisk in the buttermilk, oil, and eggs until well combined. Scoop evenly into the prepared tins.
Bake at 350 until cupcakes are golden brown and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean, about 20 - 25 minutes.

Remove from pan to wire rack to cool completely.
Prepare filling - In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt together butter and dark brown sugar. Cook, stirring constantly, until liquidy. Pour in cream and salt. Bring mixture to a boil. Stir boiling mixture for 4 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in Butterscotch Ripple liqueur. Let cool to room temp. 
Prepare frosting - Pour the whipping cream into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the butterscotch pudding mix. Beat until stiff - 1 to 2 minutes. 
Assemble cupcakes:
Cut a cone shape wedge of cake out of the center of each cupcake (see photo below). Keep the top circle part of the cone but discard the rest (or, you know, eat it....)

Fill the hole in the cupcake with a generous spoonful of the butterscotch filling.

Place the little circle back on top of the cupcake.

Pipe (or spread with a knife) a generous amount of frosting on top.

If desired, top with a mini chocolate bar piece.

Alternatively, you could also drizzle a bit of the leftover butterscotch filling over the top. 
Chill until ready to serve. 
A few notes - Don't have Butterscotch Ripple Liqueur?? Use any similar flavor - I have made it with Pumpkin Spice Whiskey and Salted Caramel Liqueur and it is also delicious.
The amount of frosting is a lot. If you are not going to be piping tasty swirly piles on top and simply spreading with a knife - then you probably only have to make half the frosting. (But, seriously, the frosting is amazing... pile it on!)
Everyone loved the little surprise of gooey butterscotch in the center. I mean... what's not to love??

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Crab Puffs with Garlic Aioli

I made these for an appetizer at Thanksgiving not really knowing what to expect. The original recipe was one I had clipped out of a magazine years ago and put in our mom's recipe tin under the cupboard and then forgotten about. 
After re-discovering it just before Thanksgiving I decided to give it a go. 
Turns out this was a fantabulous idea. 
These are addicting. They are baked, not fried so are a tad healthier. (Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying they are healthy. Just... heathier.
The crispy crust on the bottom is excellent with the savory cheesecake-esque filling on top. 
Plus they are actually super easy to make. I think they took 10 minutes to put together and then throw in the oven. 
In case you need another reason to make them... you can serve them hot, fresh out of the oven, but they are also just as tasty at room temp which makes them a perfect appie for entertaining when your guests will be milling around snacking for a while.
And definitely make the garlic aioli. It takes them over the top. So. Much. Garlic. It's amazing!

Crab Puffs With Garlic Aioli

Garlic Aioli
1/2 cup mayo
1 Tbsp dried chives
1 tsp prepared coarse mustard
1 clove (large) garlic, minced
salt & pepper

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 1/4 cup Panko type bread crumbs (I used Glutino Gluten Free Breadcrumbs Original)
1/4 cup butter, melted
salt & pepper

2 (8oz) pkgs cream cheese, room temp
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 Tbsp mayo
2 tsp prepared coarse mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire 
1 egg yolk
6 oz crab meat (cooked)
1 Tbsp dried parsley

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 24 tin, mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
Prepare the Garlic Aioli - Whisk together mayo, chives, mustard, garlic, and salt & pepper. 

Place in fridge to chill until ready to use. (This can be made up to a day or two ahead so the flavors have time to blend.)
Prepare the puffs - In a mixing bowl, stir together the crust ingredients (Parmesan cheese, Panko, butter, salt & pepper) until well combined. Press about 1 Tbsp of this mixture firmly into each of the mini muffin tins so it is well packed and is up the sides slightly to form a "cup". 

In another mixing bowl, stir together the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, mayo, mustard, Worcestershire, and egg yolk. When well mixed together, fold in crab meat and dried parsley. 

Scoop approx 1 Tbsp of the filling into the crumb crusts.

Bake at 350 until well browned and cooked through, about 20 - 25 minutes. When done, remove from heat and let cool at least 5 - 8 minutes in tin before attempting to remove.

They need to firm up a little or they will fall apart when you take them out. 

Run a knife carefully around each puff to loosen from pan. Remove to serving tray.

Serve hot or at room temp with the chilled garlic aioli.

Try not to eat them all before sharing with your guests. 

A few notes - **With my mini muffin pan size I ended up getting a total of 30 puffs. 
**Make the aioli ahead of time so the flavors can blend. You want it to be garlicky. That is what makes it so good. I used a LARGE clove of garlic but you could use 2 smaller ones to the same end.
**I bought Glutino Gluten Free Original Breadcrumbs (link HERE) as my niece is currently gluten free and they worked just as well as Panko would. You just want to use a crumb similar to Panko in consistency. 
**If you can't get fresh cooked crab meat then it will work just as well with canned/packaged. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pumpkin Pie

This is the best pumpkin pie.
In the history of ever.
Pretty bold statement, I know. Thing is...... you really have to give this recipe a try to see that I'm not even lying. 
The first thing it has going for it is that it is deep dish. More pumpkin filling is never a bad thing, am I right? It also has a secret ingredient that I would never have thought to add to a pie. Black pepper. Weird, right? But don't leave it out - it makes it better. Seriously. 
And... those pie crust leaves on top just make it super pretty. 
Make it. Compare it to your usual pumpkin pie. Let us know what you think!

Pumpkin Pie
(Slightly adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction)

1/3 third of our Never Fail Pie Crust (HERE)
(or enough crust for bottom crust of a deep dish pie)

2 cups pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
pinch salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground pepper
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup milk

whipped cream

Preheat oven to 375. Roll out pie crust and line a 9 inch deep deep pie dish with it. Bake the crust at 375 for 10 minutes. (If you are making extra pie crust leaves to decorate the pie then roll those out and bake on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes at this time. They are done when golden brown.)

Remove crust from oven and set aside.
Prepare filling - In a mixing bowl, whisk together pumpkin, eggs, and brown sugar until well combined. Whisk in cornstarch, spices, whipping cream, and milk. Continue whisking until everything is well mixed and smooth.
Pour into the pre-baked crust.

Turn oven down to 350 and bake pie until set - about 50 - 60 minutes. (FYI - I had to bake my pie for almost 90 minutes. Just cover the edges of the pie with a crust shield or tinfoil so they don't get too dark!!) You will probably want to cover the edges of the pie with a pie crust shield or tinfoil at the halfway mark of baking otherwise they crust will start to look burnt. 
(**Note** - If you are not using a deep dish pan then you will have way too much filling! If you are using a regular pie pan then just use the extra to make tarts or another, smaller pie!)

The filling will be fairly puffed up at this time but will sink down a bit as the pie cools.

If you made pie crust shapes to decorate the pie with then you can place them on now.

Let pie cool completely - at least 4 hours or so. Once the pie was room temp I put it in the fridge to chill. 

Slice and serve!

Of course it's not reaaaaally pumpkin pie until it's topped with whipped cream...

I'm the only one in the family that really goes crazy for pumpkin pie. 
And, trust me, I went completely bonkers for this version. 
Definitely keeping it as my favorite.

Pumpkin pie is traditional for Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert but, seriously, can we just enjoy it ALL THE TIME. 
Please and thank you.
Couple of notes - don't leave out the black pepper. Just. Don't Do. It.
Also, use DARK brown sugar. Light is okay but not as *jazz hands*  if you know what I mean.