Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tasty Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I’m baking for a PTA event tomorrow & decided to make one of my kids’ favorites: Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  We like these for breakfast or after school snacks. They freeze exceptionally well & can easily be baked in loaf pans, mini muffin tins or regular muffin tins.  No paper liners needed as long as you use a non-stick spray.

·         1 ½ sticks butter at room temperature
·         1 ¾ cup sugar
·         4 eggs
·         2/3 cup orange juice
·         2 cups pumpkin puree
·         3 tablespoons molasses
·         3 1/3 cup flour
·         ½ teaspoon baking powder
·         2 teaspoons baking soda
·         1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·         1 teaspoon ground cloves
·         1 cup chocolate chips

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and molasses.  Add the eggs, orange juice & pumpkin puree.
Mix dry ingredients separately then add to the pumpkin mixture.  Add chocolate chips then spoon into pans.  Bake for 15-18 minutes.

Yield: 3 loaf tins or 24 minis & 20 regular muffins

Shimmering Party Favors

Shimmering Party Favors

These cuties will be party favors at my daughter’s 8th birthday party. 

  • Box of 24 sugar sticks from Trader Joe’s
  • 4 ounces of white baking chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon shortening
  • 2 packages of Wilton pretzel stick bags
  • Pretty sprinkles purchased at the restaurant supply store
  • Blank address labels

Melt chocolate and shortening in the microwave…30 seconds then stir & heat another 30 seconds.  Dip sticks in mixture.  Sprinkle on waxed paper.  Allow to dry about an hour.  Place in pretzel bags, adorn with various colored ribbons & place a “Thank You For Helping Me Celebrate” label.

These are a nice option as a hostess gift in a little vase or as a sidepiece to enhance your holiday buffet table.  To use in a vase, keep the sticks in their plastic wrapper part way then place in the green florist foam. Last, add your basket shreds and ribbon.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cherry Cookies

Cute Dipped Cherry Cookies!

I’ve found my new favorite gifting cookie!  This cookie has the perfect thickness and shape (thanks to the cookie scoop that Brit gave me last year!) and the colors are so festive.  At first glance this cookie looks like it will taste wayyy too sweet, thankfully it doesn’t.  It has a nice subtle cherry & almond flavor.  Also, it requires just 8 ingredients-love that.J

2 ½ cups flour
¾ cup sugar (divided)
1 cup cold butter, cubed
½ cup finely chopped maraschino cherries, juice drained & drained again after chopping
9 squares (9 ounces) white chocolate baking squares, finely chopped & divided
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons shortening
Sprinkles ( try the 20oz. container of rainbow crystals from the restaurant supply store)

Mix (lightly in your electric mixer) the flour and ½ cup sugar and cut in the butter until crumbly. Add the cherries, 2/3 cup white chocolate and almond extract. Use a cookie scoop and pack tightly to just under the rim (or smaller if you prefer smaller cookies). Drop onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Take remaining sugar and the bottom of a shot glass.  Run the bottom of the glass in warm water then dip into the sugar.  Lightly press the top of each cookie with the sugar/shotglass. Bake at 325 for 10-12 minutes (mine took closer to 14 minutes).  Cool on racks.

In the microwave, melt shortening and remaining chocolate for a minute then stir. Microwave an additional 10-20 seconds.  Dip half the cookie in chocolate and sprinkle. Place on waxed paper until dry. Store in an airtight container.

This recipe is an adaption from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars.  I reduced the amount of chocolate by 3 ounces.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pecan Pie

There aren’t many things better than homemade pecan pie.  Once you’ve made homemade pecan pie, I don’t think you’ll ever eat a grocery store bakery pie again.  The texture alone will scare you away from that store pie.  I have adapted my pie recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks “Junior League of Baton Rouge, Louisiana: River Road Recipes IV”.  My adaptations are: adding an extra 1/2 cup of chopped pecans, adding chocolate chips and omitting the salt.

Pecan Pie

6 eggs
2 cups dark corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup salted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups pecan pieces (finely chopped)
2 unbaked 9 inch pie shells
½ cup white chocolate chips
½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Gently whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar, butter & vanilla.  Fold in the pecans and chips.  Pour the mixture evenly between the two shells.  Use whole pecans to decorate the pie.  I use 4 in the center and 6 around the crust to use as a template for slicing. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Cool on a wire rack.  Serve with whipped cream on the side.

Yield: 2 pies

Pecan  Pie

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holiday Party Invitations


    Tis the season for entertaining & I have the pleasure of assisting Mom & Dad with their holiday party in December.  My folks' parties are legendary.  The stage is set with holiday decor classically adorning all areas of their home. No detail goes unattended to; including the exterior of the marina home & boat.  The strategy is to begin unpacking & setting up before Thanksgiving.  They welcome their children and grand children’s help but Dad is still climbing the ladder to the second story of the house and fixing the artificial tree that crowns the tower of the boat.  He is an inspiration!

    In preparation of the party, I have printed the invitation on beautiful card stock paper kits that Mom purchased at Tuesday Morning.  The "Anna Griffin Inc" kits are sold in packs of 10, regular price $25.00, sale price $17.99, reduced to $9.99 then in the clearance section at $3.99.  We love a bargain!!  My favorite part of this invitation is the dimension that the reindeer adds with his proud stance and handsome antlers.
    This weekend we will continue decorating and most importantly menu planning. Mom's menu is always thoughtfully planned with an amazing variety of delicious food.   My first post is filled with bragging, but trust me, it's merited.  Photos of home & boat decor soon.....