Creating memories in the kitchen...One meal at a time.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Picture from Annie's Eats

Originally a Starbucks knock off (I haven't had the original so I can't compare) these little babies are fast becoming one of my favorite Fall recipes.

Moist, warmly  spiced muffins with the most delicious sweetened cream cheese filling.

Each ingredient blends perfectly so that you get a little pumpkin, a little spice, a little creamy, and a little crunch, without any of them being too overwhelming.

The struesel topping is slightly crunchy and instead of covering the entire top, it slightly bakes into the muffin creating more of a cinnamon sugar crust.  

These will be on my "must make for Fall" list every year!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Annie's Eats

*Be sure to allow time for the cream cheese filling to chill*

Yield: 24 muffins

Ingredients:For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil
For the topping:
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp. flour
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours.
To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.
To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. (It may be hard to resist immediate consumption, but the cream cheese filling gets very hot!)

Posted by: Sallie
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gooey Chocolate Coconut Bars

Pictures From Evil Shenanigans 

Being that my sister and I live only about 2 hours apart, we are lucky enough to  spend most holidays together. Labor Day was perfect. Good food, good weather and just a fun time watching the cousins play. My brother in law loves, loves coconut and requested these coconut bars  for dessert.

Fudgy, creamy, coconutty and just downright good. These were a major winner.

Gooey Chocolate Coconut Bars    
Evil Shenanigans

Serves 8

For the base:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

For the topping:
4 ounces (1/2 block) cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Heat the oven to 350 F and spray an 8″x8″ square pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the sides, and spray the paper with non-stick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar until evenly combined.  Add the butter, egg, vanilla, and almond extract and mix until the mixture forms a stiff dough.
Carefully press the dough evenly into the prepared pan.  Set aside.
For the topping, cream together the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until smooth.  Add egg and mix well, then add the cocoa powder and vanilla and mix until well blended.  Slowly beat in the powdered sugar until smooth then fold int he coconut.
Spread the topping evenly over the base then bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the edges are just set and the center is a little wobbly.  Cool for 40 minutes in the pan before lifting out and slicing.

"The best advice I can give you for these bars is this: do not over-bake them.  They need to be set at the sides but jiggly in the center.  Trust me, things will firm up after cooling.  If you wait for the center to firm up in the oven the edges will become hard as a rock."

Posted by: Sallie & Julia
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Pictures from See Jane in the Kitchen

Mac and cheese is another sure fire, everyone will eat it meal in our house. The only downside being my kids are perfectly content with a box of Kraft while my husband and I want something a little more sophisticated. Having had success with this, I decided to try another version.

Enter Alton Brown's amazing mac and cheese. Seriously, this meal was so good! The sauce was smooth, cheesy and creamy. All the ingredients went together perfectly and were topped off with a delicious buttery, panko bread crumb topping. An all around winner with my husband asking for seconds and commenting on how good it was and rave reviews from the kiddos as well. I followed the adaptations of this blog (basically added more noodles) and I'm glad I did because it was perfect. 

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
from See Jane in the Kitchen and Alton Brown

1 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.

Temper in the egg (add a little of the hot mixture to it before mixing it in, if you add the egg cold right into it, it will scramble so very slowly add enough hot mixture to bring the temperature up).
Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Posted by: Sallie
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Friday, September 2, 2011

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Picture from Two Peas and their Pod (She takes GREAT pictures.)
Maybe it's because I'm on the miniature side myself (we're talking pushing  5'1) or maybe it's because I can trick my kids into thinking they're eating two cookies when they're actually only getting one, but when it comes to bite sized treats, I'm a sucker.

These cute little chippers are fast becoming a household favorite. Not only do they come out looking practically perfect, they taste great, bake up quickly, and freeze beautifully. (See bottom of recipe for freezing instructions.)

Perfect for lunches, wrapping up for a quick gift, or just changing up the classic chocolate chip cookie to something a little more fun, these mini cookies are sure to become a household staple.

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies
Two Peas and their Pod

Yield: Makes 3 dozen mini cookies
Cook Time: 8 minutes


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.
2. In medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until creamy and smooth. Add in the egg and vanilla extract.
4. Slowly mix in the flour, until combined. Stir in mini chocolate chips.
5. Roll dough into tiny balls, about 2 teaspoons of dough. Place on baking sheet and slightly flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake for 8 minutes or until cookies are golden brown and set. Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Freezing Instructions: To freeze before baking, roll cookie dough into desired size balls. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Freeze for 15-20 minutes or until firm. Once they are firm enough to retain their shape and not stick together, place in freezer bag.

When ready to bake, I like to place the frozen dough on cookie sheets and let come to room temperature before baking. Then just bake according to directions. I've had better results that way.

Posted by: Sallie

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