Sunday, September 30, 2012

Carrot Cupcakes with White Chocolate Orange Cream Cheese Icing

          If you haven’t made any of the recipes I have written about yet, now is the time to start. I understand that carrot cake is generally more popular in the springtime, when Easter is around the corner, but I like it all the time. This is easily the BEST carrot cake I have ever tasted, and that includes store-bought, restaurant made, and other homemade recipes.  It is the perfect amount of moistness and sweetness, and not overbearingly carroty.
          I think that even people that don’t have the taste buds for carrot cake will like this recipe. The icing is superb. It has a secret ingredient of orange zest that gives it that perfect last kick.  Anyway, I hope if you haven’t starting cooking/baking yet, that you decide to after reading this recipe! I found the original recipe here, and I pretty much followed it perfectly.

·         Easiness---5---It is a bit time consuming, and it requires a lot of ingredients.
·         Yumminess---30!!!!---This is my favorite dessert that I have yet to make. It is also the dessert that my dad took to work with him and all of his friends went crazy over it.
·         Repeat---10---Well, this is the second time I have made it so….obviously yes.
Cream Cheese Icing:
·         ½ cup white chocolate
·         1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat)
·         ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         Zest of 1 orange
·         4 cups confectioners sugar
·         2 tablespoons heavy cream
·         2 eggs
·         1 1/8 cups sugar
·         1/3 cup brown sugar
·         ½ cup vegetable oil
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         2 cups shredded carrots (I used a food processor)
·         ½ cup crushed pineapple
·         1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
·         1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
·         ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
·         ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
·         Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.
·         In a bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in vanilla.  Gradually beat in the confectioners sugar until the mixture is fluffy. Mix in heavy cream. Zest 1 orange and add it to the mixture.
·         Microwave white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl for 1 minute. Stir, then add to mixing bowl.
·         Beat together the eggs, white sugar, and brown sugar in a bowl, and mix in the oil and vanilla.  Fold in carrots and pineapple. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Mix flour mixture into the carrot mixture until evenly moist. Transfer to the prepared muffin cups.
·         Bake 25 minutes in the oven or until done. Cool completely before topping with the icing.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cheese Crisps

          You know how sometimes you just don’t want to cook? Or maybe it’s one of those days when you hardly have anything in the fridge or pantry? Well, in my house, those types of days call for Cheese Crisps! I had these for the first time when I was on vacation with my parents and two of their friends (They let me tag along as 5th wheel for my high school graduation present). When we arrived to the condo, my mom’s friend told us she was going to make Cheese Crisps. What?
          First of all, I hate cheese. Well, cold cheese. And nacho cheese. And feta. Ok, basically I only like cream cheese, melted cheese, cheeseburgers and pizza.  Well, the cheese crisps were the easiest thing to make, and you literally just dip them in sour cream, guacamole, and salsa and you have a meal (or a very scrumptious snack).
·         Easiness---10---Super easy to make, literally just a tortilla, some cheese and an oven. I guess you could add some other ingredients to it, such as peppers or salsa, but that would take away the simplicity of it.
·         Yumminess---8---Not your 5 star gourmet meal, but definitely a yummy snack or meal when you are just having one of those days…or maybe just when you want an excuse not to cook!
·         Repeat---10---I make them all the time!

·         Soft Tortilla Shells
·         Cheddar or Mexican Cheese (Fat Free Cheddar in the picture)
·         Sour Cream, Salsa and Guacomole for dippin’
·         Preheat oven to 350°
·         Spread parchment paper or foil on baking sheet
·         Spray with Pam
·         Lay out tortillas
·         Spread desired amount of cheese over tortilla
·         Bake 10-12 minutes, or until edges are crispy (hence, the name Cheese Crisps)

Gooey Butter Cake (St. Louis Style)

          Who doesn’t like Gooey Butter Cake? Nobody, that’s who. Well, being from St. Louis (birthplace of the Gooey Butter Cake), I feel that I am a good judge on what is tasty and what just doesn’t quite cut it. This recipe that I found over here is absolutely to die for. If you are from St. Louis, or maybe if you are a Gooey Butter connoisseur, you will be able to attest after the first bite that this is the best Gooey Butter Cake you have ever and will ever taste.

Tell your taste buds to get ready, because they are about to be “wowed”.
I must say, my photography skills are getting quite good :)
·         Easiness---10---When it comes to cake, there really isn’t any recipe easier than this.
·         Yumminess---10---I don’t even think I need to explain how perfect this cake is, but I will do it for you, my reader. It has a perfectly crispy, but not hard, crust, and the gooey part is the perfect amount of goo.  Sometimes, Gooey Butter Cakes are easy to make too dry or too mushy, but that is absolutely not possible with this one.
·         Repeat---10---This is the 4th time I have made this. My dad took my carrot cupcakes and my Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins to work with him for his coworkers to try, and they loved them.  So, he told them, “Wait until you try her Gooey Butter Cake”.  That’s what brought about the old Gooey Butter this time around at least J

          Oh, and if you haven’t noticed….this recipe scored a 10/10 on each category, so they MUST be a winner! Just a tip, making this the day before makes it even more perfect (as if that is possible!).

·         1 box yellow cake mix
·         3 large eggs
·         1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
·         2 cups powdered sugar
·         8 oz. cream cheese (softened)

·         Preheat oven to 325°
·         Combine, Cake mix, 1 egg and melted margarine or butter.
·         Press into a greased 9×13 pan with your fingers
·         Blend, cream cheese, 2 beaten eggs, and powdered sugar until smooth.
·         Spread over first batter.
·         Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until edges are brown.
·         Dust with powdered sugar on top after cake has cooled

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pumkin Cream Cheese Muffins

          Ok, it’s official, I have truly redeemed myself for the Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies (sorry if you liked them. I thought they were a little “off”). First, let me tell you about my Tuesday. I started my job on Monday, or career J I will be a Guest Services Senior Team Lead at Target! So basically, I will be managing the front of a Target (Including the cash register area, the Guest Service and returns area, the Food Avenue, and a Starbucks) Yeah, that last one made me smile too.
          Anyway, Tuesday I didn’t have to work until 3:30, because I am still in training and we were closing the store that night. I decided this would be a great chance to sleep in till 9 and then go do Zumba. I love Zumba! That went really well. Then, after Zumba I stopped at Starbucks for a Tall 2 pump Pumpkin Spice 1 pump White Mocha latte with skim milk and no whip cream (yes, a mouthful). That went well. THEN, I went to the grocery store, because the deli has fantastic, fresh sushi. I got a Spicy Salmon Roll, YUM. I also decided it would be a great day to make my Carrot Cupcakes with Orange White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing, so I bought all the missing ingredients I needed.
          Here’s the kicker. I get out to my car. It doesn’t start. Awesome. What am I supposed to do? Well, I call my mom and we try to figure out who could come get me or jump my car. Turns out the closest and most available person was my cousin, who is 16 and in school. He had to leave school during lunch to come jump my car. I love him. And my family. That could have been a huge disaster. Luckily, our grocery store is near a Lowes, so I walked over there to buy the jumper cables while I waited for him.
          THEN, on my way home, I called and requested a song on the radio and I GOT THROUGH! That is a huge success in my book. Still waiting to hear the song though haha.. Ok, last part of the story. I get home and I do NOT have all the ingredients to make my cupcakes, so I had to resort to a recipe from Pinterest for Pumpkin Creem Cheese Muffins with Spiced Crumb Topping, even though I had to use Splenda instead of sugar and egg whites instead of whole eggs. To end the day, I didn’t get to leave work until 12:40am. Oh, and my car wouldn’t start again, so I had to get someone I work with to jump it.
          As you can see, I had a series of ups and downs on Tuesday, but luckily the final up was the muffins! They turned out fabulously! I did change the recipe quite a bit, but you can find the original recipe here.
·         Easiness---6---It was a bit time consuming to mix everything, because you have to do it in 3 different sections.
·         Yumminess---10---WOW. This might be my new favorite, especially for breakfast.
·         Repeat---10---Yes, I would love to make these again! Soon!
For the muffins
·         1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
·         2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
·         1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·         1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
·         1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
·         1/2 teaspoon baking soda
·         1/2 teaspoon salt
·         2 eggs
·         1 cup granulated sugar
·         1 cup canned pumpkin
·         1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
·         1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For the filling:
·         4 ounces cream cheese, softened
·         1/2 cup powdered sugar
·         1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
For the crumb topping:
·         1/2 cup all-purpose flour
·         1/3 cup brown sugar
·         1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
·         Make the filling by combining the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl and stirring until smooth. Scrape the mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap at least 12 inches long. Form the mixture into a 12-inch log, wrap tightly, and freeze for at least two hours.
·         Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
·         Make the crumb topping by using a fork to combine the flour, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and melted butter in a small bowl.
·         In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine the sugar, canned pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a spatula just until completely combined.
·         Remove the cream cheese filling from the freezer and cut it into 12 one-inch pieces. Divide the muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups. Press one piece of the cream cheese filling into the center of each muffin, then sprinkle each muffin with about one tablespoon of the crumb topping. Gently press the topping into the batter to ensure that it sticks.
·         Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins in the pan for about five minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in the refrigerator.
·         Makes about 12 muffins

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cherry Graham Cracker Delight

          The love of dessert runs deep in my family’s veins, apparently. My younger brother, Kyler, has claimed this latest dessert as his own. It is something he came up with when he was pretty little with our grandma. Ever since then, we have considered it “his dessert”. I must say, for how simple it is, it is quite a yummy treat!
          When I asked him what I could call it, he came up with “Cherry Graham Cracker Delight”, and that is exactly what it is. It is such a delight to know that I am not the only person that enjoys tasty food.  And it is a delight that he enjoys food and he is only 13. To get an idea of who I am talking about, here is a recent family picture taken at my graduation.
          Kyler is second from the left (yes, I know…quite tall and manly looking for a 13 year old), Derek is all the way to the left and is 16, Cameron is next to me, and Karissa is in the pink dress and is 19. And of course, the other two are mom and dad. I figure this is a good chance to introduce you to the rest of the family since I will probably mention them often.

As for the recipe, here it is!
·         Easiness---10---Doesn’t get much easier than this! No baking required!
·         Yumminess---8---If I were to change anything, I would make it with Cheesecake flavored pudding.
·         Repeat---10---We make this dessert quite a bit at our house!
·         ¾ Box Graham Crackers
·         1 Can Cherries
·         2 Boxes instant vanilla pudding (and the milk that the directions call for)
·         1 Tub Whipped Cream
·         Make the Vanilla pudding according to package directions and let sit and cool.
·         In a 9x13 pan, make 1 layer of Graham Crackers
·         When pudding is cooled, mix with whip cream (but reserve about ¼ whip cream)
·         Spread ½ of mixture over graham cracker layer
·         Spread ½ of the cherries as the 3rd layer
·         Make another layer of the pudding/whip cream
·         Final layer is cherries.
·         Crunch up a few graham crackers and sprinkle on the top
·         Top with a dollop of whipped cream

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Apple Cobbler

          To make up for the cookies (even though they DID taste pretty good), I decided to redeem myself with an Apple Cobbler. You seriously can’t go wrong there. This cobbler was super easy, and very similar to my Peach Cobbler, as it was also made in the crockpot. I actually like this recipe better than the Peach, and I will probably make the same recipe again with peaches.
          You can find the original recipe here!
·         Yumminess---10---There was absolutely NOTHING I would change about this recipe…except maybe double it and make more next time…because we ran out.
·         Easiness---7---Lots of ingredients, and a bit time consuming to do the apples if you don’t have the lovely Apple Peeler Corer Slicer from Pampered Chef like I do!
·         Repeat---10---YES, soon please!
Oh wow. This picture doesn't even do it justice!


INGREDIENTS (for the crust)
·         1 cup flour
·         ½ cup brown sugar
·         ½ granulated sugar
·         ½ tsp cinnamon
·         ¼ tsp nutmeg
·         1 pinch salt
·         ½ cup butter, melted
INGREDIENTS (to mix with apples)
·         ½ cup granulated sugar
·         1 TBS cornstarch
·         ½ tsp ginger
·         ½ cinnamon (I sprinkled a little bit more on at the end)
·         6 cups apples-peeled, cored and chopped
·         Mix flour, brown sugar, 1/2 cup of white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in a bowl. Combine butter with the flour mixture using fingers or a fork until coarse crumbs form. Set aside.
·         Whisk together 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Place the apples in a slow cooker, stir in the cornstarch mixture. Sprinkle the crumb topping on top. Cover and cook on High for 2 hours or Low for 4 hours, until apples are tender. Partially uncover the slow cooker to allow the topping to harden, about 1 hour.

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

          I learned a valuable lesson yesterday: Always be sure to double check the recipe before you start baking. Everything was going great while I was mixing together my ingredients for my Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies, that is, until I got to the part where I needed to add the pumpkin puree. For some odd reason, I had it in my brain that the recipe called for a CAN of pumpkin puree. Well, sadly, I was mistaken. The recipe actually called for 2 TBS of pumpkin puree….just a teensy tiny difference right? The result was super moist, not crispy cookies that actually taste pretty good, despite my goof-up.
         You can find the original recipe here…obviously I changed it quite a bit…
·         Yumminess---6---I wish I had read the recipe, because I like my cookies to be crispy. The flavor is perfect though. I just have a texture issue with this batch.
·         Easiness---10---Really easy recipe..haha…unles you are me, of course.
·         Repeat---8---I will most likely make these again to redeem myself and make them the correct way.
I think I am getting good at taking these pictures :)
·         1 ½ Cup flour
·         ¼ tsp baking soda
·         2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
·         1/8 tsp salt
·         ½ cup granulated sugar
·         ½ cup brown sugar
·         2 TBS butter, melted
·         2 egg whites
·         1 can pumpkin puree (or 2 TBS if you want to do it correctly. If you do only 2 TBS, only use 1  cup flour)
·         1 tsp vanilla extract
·         ½ cup white chocolate chips
·         Preheat oven to 350°. Line two cookie sheets with non-stick silicone baking liners or lightly spray cookie sheets with cooking spray.
·         In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, salt and pumpkin spice; stir to blend. In another bowl, whisk the sugars, butter, egg white, pumpkin puree and vanilla together until light and fluffy
·         Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two additions until the batter is very well blended. If the batter looks more “crumbly” than smooth, add just a drop of water at a time (ONLY if needed) until it smooths out
·         Drop by level spoonfuls about 1 inch apart onto baking sheets.
·         Bake 10-14 (if you make it with 1 can pumpkin puree, otherwise bake 8-10 minutes) minutes. Remove from the oven, and let them stand 5 minutes before removing the cookies from the pans to cool on wire racks.