10.29.2010

Cinnamon Swirl Streusel Topped Pumpkin Muffins

I think I've made it rather clear how much I ADORE Fall. Right? I mean, how can you go wrong? Hearty soups, desserts that sooth and the versatility of fall ingredients. And, since we've been more into snacking on our apples this week and I wasn't in the mood to have to peel something. But, I wasn't feeling overly lazy either. So for what is quickly becoming weekly tradition of baking on Thursday's with my lil' Mayhem Maker, we decided to try our hand at Cinnamon Swirl Streusel Topped Pumpkin Muffins . (yeah, say that 3 times fast) For the most part, it is a very easy recipe. I had all the ingredients already in my cupboards. The only thing some folks might not have on hand is the pumpkin. But, since it's Fall, doesn't pumpkin automatically become a pantry staple? I know it does in my house. I actually think I buy a can each time I go to the store. I just don't want to not be able to get one. You know - like last year, when, it was like, GONE. In light of the simplicity of these muffins, I do have a few complaint and a few things I would do different next time I make them. I dirtied THREE bowls while making these - not to mention my food processor as well as countless other utensils. There is a LOT of kitchen clean up involved with these. Also, the recipe called for filling the muffin cups 1/2 way, sprinkling with the brown sugar filling, more muffin batter and finally the Streusel topping. It's too much muffin batter for a standard sized muffin tin. As you can see from my photos, while these are TASTY, they are not pretty. I like pretty baked goods. I like to be able to share them with others and not have them look at the plate and cringe. When I make these again, I'd only fill the muffin liner a 1/3 of the way, then the brown sugar mixture topping with more muffin batter. I'd also probably hold off on putting the Streusel topping on the muffins until about the last 10 minutes of baking. It's a heavy topping and really sinks into the batter. By waiting I I think it would allow the muffins to develop more of a crown. Also, if your using decorative liners - Maddy chose white liners with pumpkins for these out of the cupboard - I'd double line them. As, you are dealing with a melted sugar filling - that seeps into the liner - making the design disappear. Not that it really matters - but, if you are looking to maybe gives these away or take to a party, you are going to want to see the pretty liner. Also, if your looking for something that really packs a pumpkin punch, these are not for you. The star of this muffin is really the streusel topping and the brown sugar filling. The sweet stickiness of the brown sugar filling is balanced perfectly by the crunchy oat filled streusel topping. Combined with the cinnamon nutmeg cake like texture of the muffins that have just the slightest hint of pumpkin to them...... *sigh*......then they are for you. Hands down, the perfect breakfast treat on a chilly weekend morning.
Adapted, slightly, from Two Peas and Their Pod

cinnamon Swirl Streusel Pumpkin muffins.

Muffin Batter:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Filling:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Streusel Topping:
1 1/4 cup oats
1 tablespoon flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin tins with paper liners or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a whisk together the dry muffin batter ingredients and set aside. In another arge bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, water, pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk all the wet ingredients until smooth and combined.

Very slowly stir dry mixture into wet and mix until until just combined.

Brown sugar cinnamon filling: in a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together. Set aside.

For the Streusel topping: In a food processor (or you can use two knives or a pastry blender - I'm lazy and just my food processor) put flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter. Process until mixture starts to get crumbly and add oats. Pulse a few more times just to incorporate the oats.

Fill prepared muffin cups 1/3 of the way full, Sprinkle approx 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar cinnamon filling over each. Fill the muffins cups with the remaining batter. Top each muffin with Streusel topping (or wait until there's about 10 minutes of bake time left).

Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean Remove pans from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove muffins from pans. You can eat these warm and they taste just as good the next day.

Enjoy!

10.25.2010

RE-DO Recipe: Caramel Apple muffin CAKE

So here's the deal. You want to make muffins. For breakfast or maybe as a snack. But, your out of those paper liners and no amount of cooking spray ever makes your muffins come out of the muffin pan in one piece. OR ~ perhaps your having one of those lazy moments where you just want to dump the whole darn batter in one pan instead of trying to get it evenly divided between 12 muffin cups. I find that to be such a pain at times - because I always end up with a muffin runt. But, finally - I have the solution. Turn your muffins into cake.You see, Very rarely does my husband come up with a suggestion for something that I make in the kitchen that makes me go "Hey - that's not a bad idea". And, as he was contemplating eating the paper liner on a Caramel Apple Muffin because they are that darn good, he said "you should make these a cake". And, so, shortly after this cooking epiphany, Carmel Apple muffin CAKE was created. Sweet spicy caramel goodness in a spring form pan. And, since it was a cake, I was able to pop it under the broiler once it was done baking to further crystallize the brown sugar and oat goodness on the top into a crust. A crust that crackles and provides a protective shell around everything you love so very much about gooey caramel with the still slightly crispy apple held together with warm cinnamon laced cake.
And, it was good. In fact, so good that by the time I remembered that I needed to take pictures of what a slice of this looked like, it was gone. Gone, gone, gone.

Caramel Apple Muffin recipe here

Follow caramel apple muffin as written. After you fold in the apples and caramels, pour batter into a well greased spring form pan. Top cake batter with brown sugar and sprinkle with oats.

Place spring form pan on cookie sheet and into a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake 40 - 45 minutes until toothpick inserted into cake part comes out clean. (I started checking min around the 35 minute mark. and I think I pulled mine at minute 42)

Preheat your broiler. Place cake under broiler for 5 - 7 minutes. Your just looking for the the brown sugar to create that crisp almost 'creme brulee' type crust. Just keep a close watch on it - as sugar burns quickly and there is NOTHING nastier than burnt sugar.

Enjoy!

Menu Plan Monday: October 25 - October 31st

Last weeks menu sorta fell apart once the weekend got here. We had pizza as normal on Friday. I ended up cooking dinner on Saturday night. Which hardly ever happens. Granted, I took the easy way out and made croissant roll wrapped hot dogs stuff with cheese. Quick, simple, easy and only 14 minutes to golden brown yummy perfection in my oven.

But, I have to admit what killed me was Sunday. I had really been wanting some Roast Beef. Slow cooked most of the afternoon in the oven until it reached medium rare perfection. Served with gravy, taters and a veg. I'd been dreaming of it all week. Then, while standing in the meat section of the grocery store Saturday afternoon, that dream came to a screeching halt. Have you seen beef prices? Anything decent was going to cost me upwards of $20.00 or more. And, as I'm doing the math in my head I realize that $20 is almost almost 1/2 of my grocery budget. For the whole damn week. YIKES! I don't think so. I ended up making Oven Baked Crispy Chicken Breasts, smashed taters with gravy and peas.

Oh well. Maybe some day if I win the lottery my family can dine on Roast Beef. But, until then, it's chicken and ground beef and the occasional piece of pork - but only when I find it with a bright orange sticker that say "Special Today".

Have a great week!

This Week's Menu:

Monday
Breakfast for Dinner!
Cinnamon Swirl French Toast
Sausage

Tuesday
Crock Pot Chili
Cornbread

Wednesday
Chili Lasagna
*RE-Do Recipe*

Thursday
Leftovers/Cereal/PB&J night

Friday
Pizza

Saturday
*see note on Saturday from this post*

Sunday
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Green Salad
Bread

10.18.2010

Menu Plan Monday: October 18 - October 24th

Every once in a while I ask my husband if there is anything in particular that he would like to have for dinner. It is really the least I can do - as he's a good sport - always eats what I make. He only asks that I not feed him chicken more than once a week. And, so you can only imagine my shock and subsequent horror when he said "Hot Dogs & Baked Beans". I don't like Baked Beans. Even the sight of them makes me shudder. But, my husband likes them. And, as he so aptly pointed out to me, just because I don't like something doesn't mean that I can't make it for others. And, so, I'm sucking it up - and the Hubs & Madaline are having Hot Dogs & Baked Beans for dinner. Me? Most likely a bowl of cereal.

And, I must say I'm excited about this weeks Re-Do recipe. I'm not a fan of straight up left overs (unless of course it's pasta related, since that ALWAYS taste better then next day). But, my Re-Do meals? It really does not feel like I'm eating leftovers. And, it has really cut down on our food waste as well as our grocery budget. Tune in Thursday to see how it goes!

I hope everyone has a good week!!

This Week's Menu:

Monday
Hot Dogs
Baked Beans (My husband's request)
Chips

Tuesday
Crock Pot Beef Stew
Bake Off Biscuits

Wednesday
Beef Pot Pie
*RE-Do Recipe*

Thursday
Leftovers/Cereal/PB&J night

Friday
Pizza

Saturday
*see note on Saturday from this post*

Sunday
Roast Beef
Ranch, Cheddar & Bacon Oven Roasted Potatoes
Corn

10.14.2010

RE-DO Recipe: Slow Cooked Chicken Soup w/ Mini Ravioli's

I like simple food. Food that warms your soul. Food that makes the drama of the day just melt away. And, even more so, I like food that is eaten, without any form bribery, by a certain 3 year old little girl.

This soup surely fits the bill. It simmers all day long in the crock pot. It used up what was left of the oven roasted chicken we'd had Tuesday night for dinner. I always have stock in my pantry and several varieties of cream of {fill in the blank} soup. All I had to purchase for this soup was the mini ravioli's, carrots & celery. And, the only reason I purchased the mini ravioli's is that I had a $1 off coupon for Wegman's Specialty refrigerated pasta. Also, I try to do a either a crock pot meal or something extremely easy on Wednesday. As it never goes with out fail that Wednesdays are just crazy days for me at work. But, as the clocked ticked down towards 5pm I took comfort in knowing that after I picked up Madaline from daycare I didn't have to scramble home to make dinner. Dinner would be waiting for me. Oh - and was it ever! The yummy aroma wafting from this pot of slow cooked goodness starting tickling my nose as soon as we stepped onto the back porch. And, by the time I had my key in the door my mouth was watering.
And, as if there was some weird gravitation pull in the kitchen, I'd barely set our bags down before the smells of dinner sucked me towards the far end of the kitchen. I did manage to stop momentarily at the fridge to grab the mini ravioli's. Operating on sensory overload, I took the lid off the crock pot to dump in the pasta and was instantly greeted with a a chicken soup facial. Ahhhhh.......20 minutes later - Enough time to have cooked the mini raviolis through, change my cloths, slice a loaf of Italian bread, and hastily set the table, Madaline I were sitting down to dinner.
"Ohhh..MOMMY, CARROTS"..."Ohhhh....MOMMY, 'itle pastas"...."Ohhh...MOMMY, celery"..."Mommy - can I have another piece of bread"
(*sigh* my kid is such a carb junkie)
I think it is safe to say that this one is a keeper!

Slow Cooked Chicken Soup w/ Ravioli's

1 1/4 pounds of cooked chicken *
1 26oz carton of chicken STOCK (not broth! STOCK)
2 stalk of celery, chopped**
1 cup of baby carrots, each carrot cut into thirds
1 can of Cream of {something}***
1 16 oz package for fresh/refrigerated mini cheese filled raviolis****

Mix stock and Cream of {something} in a 3-4 quart crock pot until combined. Add celery, carrots and cooked chicken. Cook on a low for 8 - 10 hours. Turn slow cooker to High and stir in pasta 20 minutes (or until pasta is tender) before you are planning on serving.

*You can use chicken breast, boneless/skinless chicken thighs, or rotisserie chicken - totally your choice. We had Oven Roasted chicken Tuesday night for dinner, and so I just de-boned what was left and used it for this soup

**the original recipe I adapted this from also called for onions. I do not like onions. Not one bit, therefore it is not part of my recipe. If you are were going add onions {shudder} just add 1/2 cup or 1 medium sized onion*

*** I used Cream of Mushroom, but you could easily use Cream of Chicken, really Cream of Anything - just use what you have on hand.

****You can really use any pasta you would like. However I would make sure it was "fresh" or refrigerated pasta. However, if you are using frozen, just leave the bag in the fridge to defrost all day while the soup is cooking.

Enjoy!

10.12.2010

Caramel Apple Muffins

Just like chocolate was meant to be with peanut butter, it only seems natural for caramel to hang out with apple. Right? But, well, dunking apple slices into individual vats of caramel gets redundant. And, as much as I love caramel apples, I'm not a huge fan of them in the traditional sense. Too messy.
And, so last night as Madaline and I were loading up the dishwasher after dinner, I was doing a mental inventory of the ingredients I had on hand. Caramel candy squares? check. Apples? Check. Cinnamon to make it a wee bit spicy and balance the sweetness? Check. Brown sugar and oats to sprinkle on the top? check.

But, what was I going to combine those ingredients with? I wasn't in the mood for cake and all of a sudden Madaline says "Muffins - I want a muffin for snack Mommy". Which lead me too.... Well, thinking about muffins. Muffins are the perfect experimental baking vessel. You can add just about anything to a basic muffin recipe. Blueberries, raspberries, chocolate chips, peanut butter, the combination and possibilities are endless. And, it just seemed so natural. So right to want to take one of my favorite fall treats and turn it into a muffin.
Oh my good heaven! Just the smell of these bad boys baking in the oven last night made me weak in the knees. I was drooling all over myself as I was sticking them with a toothpick to make sure the cake part was done. And, I must have burned at least three of my fingers on the molten sugar as I was hastily trying to get the paper wrapper off one of the muffins. And, the gooey caramel with the still slightly crispy apple held together with warm cinnamon laced cake? Heaven, I tell you. Heaven!
recipe adapted and modified from Taste of Home

Ingredients
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 2-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 egg
* 1 cup 2% milk
* 1/4 cup butter, melted
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1 medium to largish apple - diced
* 14 caramel candy squares, quartered

TOPPING:
* 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/4-1/2 cup oats


Directions
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and wisk together until combined.

In another bowl, whisk the egg, milk, butter and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

Fold in apple and caramels and scoop into 12 paper-lined muffin cups.

Tops the unbaked muffins with brown sugar and then sprinkle with oats.

Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes (mine took the full 30 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the cake portion comes out clean.

Cool for 5 minutes in pan before removing a wire rack to cool. You can dig into them warm and they are just as fantastically sticky and yummy the next day cold.

Enjoy!

10.11.2010

Menu Plan Monday: October 11 - October 17th

Gosh. I wish I was more organized. Really. I make all this really awesome food and I never seem to be able to get any of the recipes posted in a decent manner. No wonder this poor blog only has 12 followers. But, by golly, they are LOYAL followers, and I appreciate them. Just wanted them to all know that. And, if your new here - WELCOME!!! The coffee is always hot and I've usually got a plate of homemade goodies to go with it.

Its been a busy weekend and it is shaping up to be a busy week. I am breaking out the crock pot this week for Wednesday's left over re-do meal. And, I'm already salivating just thinking about what is for dinner tonight. Have a greet week everyone!!!

This Week's Menu:

Monday
Parmesan Orzo and Meatballs
*hopefully I can get this recipe post up this week*

Tuesday
Oven Roasted Chicken
Stuffing
Green Beans

Wednesday
Chicken w/ mini Raviolis Soup
*crock pot left over re-do recipe*

Thursday
Leftovers/Cereal/PB&J night

Friday
Pizza

Saturday
*see note on Saturday/Sunday from this post*

Sunday
Lasagna
Green Garden Salad
Italian Bread

10.08.2010

Pumpkin Snack Cake

I love fall. Fall brings with it apples, pumpkins, and the beauty of rainbow colored leaves. I love the chill in the air and filling the house with the warm scents of old fashion home-cooked meals and delectable baked goods. Nothing warms my heart and soul more than spending my Sunday roasting dinner and baking a pan of goodies for the week. And, last Sunday I did just that.
I kept seeing multiple recipes in and around blog land for "Pumpkin Blondies". I love a good "Blondie". LOVE. And, I have been on the hunt to add some more pumpkinlicious-ness to my repertoire of fall baking. I have mastered an amazing pumpkin roll that gets requested every year at Thanksgiving and my husband drools at the mere mention of my pumpkin muffins with my homemade cream cheese frosting. All I was missing was a good fall cookie/bar thingy.
I had really been hoping that this would be it. I admit, while these are good and tasty I was left a little disappointed. When I read the words "BLONDIE", in reference to baking, I expect something that is soft and chewy - kind of like a cookie, but much more substantial. Suffice to say, had these been labeled Pumpkin Bars or Pumpkin Snack Cake I don't think I would have felt a shred of disappointment. Because, that is what they are. They are very dense and cake like.Don't get me wrong - they really are pumpkinlicious. And, the spicy sweetness of the pumpkin and cinnamon is beautifully complimented by the addition of the dark chocolate chips. It's just that I wouldn't call them a "Blondie".Pumpkin Snack Cake
*recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction

Ingredients
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg (more or less - I used a just a little shy of a full teaspoon)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (I was out of regular brown sugar and only had some Splenda Brown Sugar blend for baking on hand. Did not affect the taste what so ever)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (15 ounce) can pure pumpkin puree
2 cups dark chocolate chips

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides. Grease with nonstick cooking spray. (I did the whole line with parchment thing - I think it was a bit over-kill. These bars are so moist that as long as you grease your pan well, you should be good to go)

2. In bowl whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

3. Using a mixer, preferably a stand mixer (I used my beloved Kitchen Aid Stand Mix - and NO, I am not a Kitchen Aid spokes person, I just love my Red Stand mixer that much that I feel the need to tell you about it every single chance I get) cream butter and sugars on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined, then add and beat in pumpkin puree. The mixture is going to look nasty - almost like it is curdled. Don't worry - it's ok. It will work itself out. Trust me.

4. On low speed, add your dry ingredients until just combined.

5. Gently fold in your chocolate chip by hand.

6. Spread batter evenly in your prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes.

7. Cool completely in pan - or if you like me, take a fork and do a little taste testing after its been out of the oven for 15 minutes.

These kept really well for me, all week, on the counter, in an airtight container. However, by day 3 the top does get a little sticky. Wednesday night I moved them from the counter to the fridge. And, let me tell you - reheated in the microwave, for about 10 seconds just to take the fridge chill off - DIVINE! Also goes great with a strongly brewed cup of coffee.

Enjoy!