Monday, September 29, 2014

BAKED PUMPKIN DOUGHNUTS


Today is National Coffee Day, and what goes best with coffee? Doughnuts!

This time of year I crave pumpkin EVERYTHING (as mentioned in my previous posts). I think it’s a comfort thing. Like even though I know summer is over and cold weather is on its way, at least I get to indulge in pumpkin.

I typically don’t eat very many doughnuts – only for calorie reasons. I do indeed love doughnuts. And if I could eat doughnuts every single day like my 88-year-old grandmother I would, but then I would end up looking like a doughnut.

But I recently got a doughnut pan, and I could not wait to make baked doughnuts! And of course, my first doughnut experiment had to be a pumpkin doughnut recipe. I adapted this recipe from the King Arthur Flour recipe collection. These are the perfect indulgence because 1) they’re baked not fried and 2) the pumpkin makes them super moist!

So celebrate National Coffee Day with a doughnut, and find a list of businesses giving out free coffee here!


BAKED PUMPKIN DOUGHNUTS
Yield: 15 doughnuts (or 18 muffins)
Calories: 290 calories per doughnut

INGREDIENTS
For the doughnuts
·         1 (15ounce) can of pumpkin, or 1 and 3/4 cup
·         3 large eggs
·         1/2  cup vegetable oil
·         1 and 1/2  cups granulated sugar
·         1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
·         1 and 1/2  teaspoons salt
·         1 and 1/2  teaspoons baking powder
·         1 and 3/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour

For the glaze
·         1/2 cup brown sugar
·         1/4 cup butter
·         3 tablespoons milk
·         1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
·         1 teaspoon pumpkin spice


DIRECTIONS
For the doughnuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Lightly grease two doughnut pans. 
  3. Beat together the pumpkin, eggs, oil, sugar, spice, salt, and baking powder until smooth.
  4. Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.
  5. Fill the wells of the doughnut pans about 3/4 full; use a scant 1/4 cup of batter in each well.
  6. Bake the doughnuts for 15 minutes
  7.  Remove the doughnuts from the oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes
  8.  After 5 minutes, loosen their edges, and transfer them to a rack to cool.
For the glaze

  1. While doughnuts are cooling, prepare glaze by melting together brown sugar and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Bring to a boil and let boil for 2 minutes.
  3. Add milk and boil for another minute.
  4. Add confectioner’s sugar and pumpkin pie spice and stir until smooth.
  5. Turn heat to low
  6. Carefully dip each donut in glaze to cover tops. You may need to stir glaze occasionally to keep it from hardening.
  7. Allow glaze to harden before serving.
*NOTE: If you don't have doughnut pans, you can bake these in a standard muffin tin; they just won't be doughnuts. And if you’re baking muffins, you’ll need to adjust the baking time to about 23 minutes.

The gorgeous orange batter before the addition of flour

The batter will be pretty thick

I filled a Ziploc bag with batter to pipe the batter into the doughnut holes, 
but I think it's just as easy to spoon the batter into the wells.

Freshly baked doughnuts!

I used the same glaze for these doughnuts that I used for my pumpkin scones. 

Super moist inside

Make sure to enjoy a cup of coffee with your doughnut since it's National Doughnut Day!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

NO FUSS CROCK POT APPLESAUCE



We've talked about this before - I was definitely spoiled by my mother growing up. Never did we ever eat store-bought applesauce. Oh no. My mom always made homemade applesauce. I won't even eat brands like Mott's because it doesn’t hold a candle to the richly flavored, silky, tangy homemade version.

Now some people may be wondering - is homemade applesauce really worth the effort? And my answer to you is - THERE IS NO EFFORT! All you have to do is a little teeny bit of prep work consisting of peeling the skin off the apples and chopping the flesh off the core. And that's it! The crock pot does all the work.

Also, what's great about the homemade version is that you know exactly what goes in it. No artificial flavorings or colorings - just apples. And you don't even need to add any sugar. I typically add ground cinnamon to the applesauce and you can even add pumpkin pie spice or red hots.

So impress your family and friends tonight with this No Fuss Crock Pot Applesauce. It's the perfect side or snack especially this time of the year as the temperatures are cooling down and you just want to snuggle up with something warm.


NO FUSS CROCK POT APPLESAUCE
Yield: 5 cups
Calories: 128 calories per cup

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 (3 pound) bag of McIntosh apples*
  • Optional cinnamon, cinnamon sticks, pumpkin pie spice, red hots, etc.

DIRECTIONS
  1. Remove the skin from your apples
  2. Either use an apple corer or just a knife to cut the flesh of the apple off the core
  3. Stick the chunks of apple in the crock pot
  4. Let cook in the crock pot on low for three hours
  5. When you check on your apples in 3 hours, the apples will be completely broken down and will actually look like applesauce at this point. All you need to do is stir it. No need to blend it using a hand mixer or food processor. All you need to do is stir! 
  6. Add your optional cinnamon and spices to the applesauce, stir, and serve
*NOTE: McIntosh apples are the best apples for applesauce because like stated above they will completely break down on their own and you don't need to blend them or anything. However, cooking is all about using the resources you have available, so if you have other types of apples you can certainly use those as well. BUT you'll have help the process of breaking them down by blending them with a hand mixer or other device after the three hours is up.


The applesauce literally comes out of the crock pot looking like this.

100% apples in this applesauce, just the way it should be.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

PUMPKIN SPICE PARTY MIX


I've always been a big fan of snack mixes. They're great for taking to tailgates or parties or eating alone on the couch while watching Netflix. So with pumpkin season amongst us I wanted to share one of my favorite fall party mixes. This recipe is adapted from a recipe my mom found on a Chex cereal box. The mixture of cinnamon and pumpkin spice is just the perfect amount of sweetness. Also, the pecans in this mixture make it more filling than your average snack.



PUMPKIN PIE PARTY MIX

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups cinnamon Chex cereal
  • 3 cups honey wheat Chex cereal
  • 8 ounces pecans
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
DIRECTIONS
  1. Melt butter in large microwaveable container for 1 minute
  2. Remove melted butter from microwave and add vanilla
  3. Pour both honey wheat and cinnamon Chex into the bowl with the melted butter
  4. Add pecans to the bowl
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice
  6. Dump the mixture on top of the Chex bowl
  7. Stir the ingredients in the bowl until completely combined
  8. Microwave mixture for 5 minutes, but take the bowl out of the microwave after every minute and stir.
  9. Line a baking sheet with wax paper, and dump mixture onto wax paper.
  10. Let mixture cool for at least two hours.
  11. Store mixture in airtight container.
This is the mixture, pre-mixing.

Letting the mixture cool off on wax paper.

Waiting is the hardest part!

Check out that cinnamony, brown sugar goodness!

Aerial shot of the mix because this plate is adorbs.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

ADDICTIVE WHITE CHOCOLATE PARTY MIX


WARNING: This party mix is highly addictive.  Once you try one bite, you will not be able to stop. 

This mixture is always a favorite of friends and family! The light white chocolate coating provides the perfect sweet and salty combination. My mom found it in the newspaper years ago, and it's been a staple at all holiday gatherings. It's so easy to grab one little chunk and then end up eating the entire batch. I could eat this stuff until I make myself sick (which I've done quite a few times).

Two of the best parts of this snack are that it's 1) SUPER EASY (everyone knows how to use a microwave and stir) and 2) very colorful! You can use special holiday color M&Ms to make the mix super festive!

The whole recipe makes about 5 quarts. As far as serving size goes... well that's really hard to say. As I previously mentioned, it's hard to stop at just one handful, so who really knows how many servings it makes!


ADDICTIVE WHITE CHOCOLATE PARTY MIX

INGREDIENTS
  • 10 ounces of pretzel sticks, broken into halves
  • 5 cups of Cheerios
  • 5 cups of Corn Chex
  • 2 cups salted peanuts
  • 1 pound M&Ms
  • 2 (12 ounce) packages of white morsels
  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a large bowl, combine the pretzels, Cheerios, Corn Chex, peanuts, and M&Ms. Set aside.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, heat white chocolate morsels and oil for one minute.
  3. Take the bowl out of the microwave and stir thoroughly.
  4. After stirring, stick the bowl back in the microwave and heat for 30 seconds.
  5. Remove from microwave and stir again until there are no lumps.
  6. Pour melted white chocolate over cereal mixture and mix well with large spoon.
  7. Dump mixture onto wax paper-lined baking sheets and spread.
  8. Let the mixture cool and break apart into smaller chunks. Store in an airtight bag or container.
Melted white chocolate and oil

Mixing up the mixture!

Spread the mixture onto wax paper until it has cooled.

Break the mix into smaller chunks.

Normally, my family just serves the mixture in a big bowl so everyone can grab from it.

But in this case, I was bringing the mixture to Fox59 for a co-worker's birthday, 
so I thought it would be fun to divvy it up into cupcake liners!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

CROCK POT BARBECUE PULLED CHICKEN


I’ve always been a fan of big, messy barbecue sandwiches. They’re so tender and sweet. Generally, when you order a barbecue sandwich at a restaurant, they (1) use pork and (2) brag about how it’s been slow cooked for like 9 days (slight exaggeration). However, when it comes to this recipe I’m actually going to brag about the opposite.

This is pulled chicken barbecue -- that’s right, chicken! I’m sure some people are thinking “well that’s just not right.” But by using chicken, you cut the calories almost in half, making it more practical for the average person to eat on a regular basis. Also, this barbecue chicken takes four hours in the crock pot. Not twelve -- four! So if you don’t plan dinner ahead of time like I know some bachelors (ehemm Kyle) tend to do, you can still get home from work, start the dish and have it ready by 9.

Additionally, this recipe only has four ingredients. I know a lot of food bloggers like to come up with their special blend of spices to put on the meat, but in all reality most people don’t have 20 different varieties of spices just sitting in their cabinet. I understand that, and trust me, you’re not missing out on any flavor by only using these four ingredients.


CROCK POT BARBECUE PULLED CHICKEN
Yield: Makes enough meat for about 8 sandwiches
Calories: 160 calories per serving

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 and 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
DIRECTIONS
  1. Pour barbecue sauce, Italian dressing, and brown sugar in crock pot and stir.
  2. Place chicken into crock pot and stir again
  3. Turn the crock pot on low and cook meat for four hours
  4. Once chicken is cooked through, remove chicken from crock pot and place on plate
  5. Shred chicken into small pieces using two forks. It shouldn't take much effort.
  6. Once chicken is shredded, put shredded chicken back into crock pot and stir to combine the sauce with the chicken.
  7. Chicken is now ready to serve! Use sandwich buns, lettuce wraps, or eat it plain.


Chicken and sauce mixture in the crock pot.

Remove chicken from crock pot and use two forks to shred chicken.

This is what the end product of the shredded chicken will look like.

Dump the shredded chicken back into the crock pot and 
stir so it can combine with the barbecue sauce.

Scoop the shredded barbecue chicken onto sandwich buns

Pile it on so it's extra messy!

Monday, September 1, 2014

SOFT & CHEWY MONSTER COOKIES


I've been wanting to make monster cookies for quite a while. They've always been one of my favorites because they have a little of everything - peanut butter, M&Ms, chocolate chips, and oats! They're the perfect cookies for someone who is indecisive like myself. It was a bit tricky to come up with a recipe for these cookies all on my own since there's a lot going on, so I adapted this recipe I found on Sally's Baking Addiction to include more peanut butter and more oats.



SOFT & CHEWY MONSTER COOKIES
Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS
·      1/2 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
·      3/4 cup light brown sugar
·      1 cup creamy peanut butter
·      1 large egg
·      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·      1/2 teaspoon baking soda
·      1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
·      1/2 cup quick oats
·      3/4 cup M&Ms
·      1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS
1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.     In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes.
3.     Add in the peanut butter, egg, and vanilla and mix for another minute.
4.     Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
5.     Slowly mix in the baking soda and flour until just combined.
6.     Add the quick oats, M&Ms, and chocolate chips to the dough and fold in with a spatula by hand.
7.     Roll dough into1-inch balls and place onto greased baking sheet.
8.     Bake for 9 minutes.
9.     Slightly press down the baked cookies with the back of a spoon, since the cookies only slightly spread in the oven.
10. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
11. Store cookies covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. They also freeze well.


There's a lot going on in this dough!

After you roll the dough into balls, you can add a few extra M&Ms on top for a better look

You may want to flatten the cookies with the back of a spoon after 
you remove them from the oven because they don't spread much.

Mmmm I love how thick they are!
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