Wednesday, November 21, 2012


              ...For my watcher of pies. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a couple days away. What are you making?! My aunt graciously opened up her house to us this year, so the family will be heading to her house for some good eats. We usually do things potluck style so that everyone can bring their favorites and so that not one person is doing all the work. I am making a couple casseroles and a dessert of some sort. I haven't figured that one out yet, though I'm sure it will be pie- I'm thinking pecan. Thanksgiving isn't complete without pie!

I was craving something pumpkin-y the other day to go along with my pumpkin spice latte so I whipped up a batch of these pumpkin white chocolate chip squares. The recipe called for semi-sweet chips, but my mom was making faces at that addition so I used white chocolate instead- She's very opinionated, that lady. The buttery, creamy white morsels were really good in these bars and with each bite you got a little pocket of sweetness against the dense, spicy cake. If you need a quick no fuss dessert for Thursday, this might be the one for you. The recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9x13-inch pan to feed a crowd, if necessary. 

Pumpkin Chip Squares adapted from Martha Stewart 

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips (dark, milk or cinnamon chips may be substituted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Generously spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin-pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add pumpkin puree, then mix until incorporated, (mixture may appear curdled and that's okay). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. 

Using a spatula, fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chips by hand, reserving the other 1/4 cup for the top of the bars. 

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. 
Bake  for 30-35 minutes or 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. Immediately after removing the pan from the oven, sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips over the top of the pumpkin bars, gently pressing them into the top, being careful not to burn yourself. 

Allow to cool completely in pan before cutting into squares and serving. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Lattes and A Winner!

Just a quicky post today. This is a recipe I've shared before but I've tweaked it a bit so that it serves two, rather than one. Because a pumpkin spice latte needs to be shared. My version of this ever popular drink contains real pumpkin and spices, not flavored syrup. It's just as easy to make as it is to drive to Starbucks, but it's much less expensive and better for you! Thanks Maranda for making and reminding me of this delicious beverage. 

Pumpkin Spice Latte from Monica H

Printer Friendly Version 
  • 2 cups strong brewed coffee
  • 3/4 cup half-n-half
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar in the raw
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • whipped cream and cinnamon for garnish

Combine coffee, half-n-half, pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a small saucepan. Bring to a high simmer (just before boiling), whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour into two mugs and top with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon, if desired.

Makes two large servings.

And the winner of the Chinet Bakeware is commenter #40 Melody J. Congratulations! Thank you to all that entered the giveaway. And thank you Chinet for being so generous!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Dip Recipe and A Chinet Bakeware Giveaway!

The month of November has slipped on by me without me noticing it. How is it possible that Thanksgiving is next week? It was 82 degrees here a couple days ago and I've been seeing Christmas stuff filling up the stores. It just doesn't feel right. I'm not ready! Surely I'm not the only one? I'd love to have a lineup of Thanksgiving sides and dessert ideas for you, but that's just not going to happen. Instead I have one delicious dip for you that you can serve to your guests while watching the ball game and enjoying a cold beer. That's better than green been casserole, any day. 

I was asked by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board to come up with an original idea for a dip containing dairy. I brainstormed a bit with my mom and my friend Maranda, from Jolts and Jollies and we came up with  this Cheesy Ranch BLT Dip. It's loaded with spinach, tomatoes, bacon, held together with a healthy serving of Mozzarella and cream cheese and seasoned with Ranch dressing and fresh garlic. Served atop a a sliced baguette, this was like the classic sandwich kicked up a few notches. Maranda and I came up with several ideas for dips that we wanted to make so she decided to throw herself an impromptu birthday party and asked people to bring a dip along with them. I brought two dips- this hot BLT dip and Mr. H :-) It was great fun, we laughed, made new friends and no one went home hungry- Happy birthday Manna!

Cheesy Ranch BLT Dip from Monica h

Printer Friendly Version

Serves 8
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 box (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 oz. (2 cups) Mozzarella cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato, seeded
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 3 Tablespoons Ranch dressing powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 2 quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Dice bacon into 1/2-inch pieces and cook over medium-high heat til crisp. Remove bacon from the grease with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on a paper towel lined plate. 

In a large bowl, combine spinach, cream cheese, 1 1/2 cups of the grated Mozzarella, cooked bacon, mayonnaise, tomato, garlic and Ranch dressing powder. Using a rubber spatula, mix until well combined. Scrape mixture into the prepared dish and smooth the top. Sprinkle the top with the remaining half cup of Mozzarella. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and golden. Serve with a sliced baguette or crackers. 

Earlier this year, I did a review of Chinet Bakeware and loved it. Anytime I have a gathering to go to or if I'm taking a dish to a friend, I now bake it in these wonderful pans. You can read my review of the product HERE, if you'd like. Since the holidays are right around the corner, Chinet has graciously offered to give one of my readers a set of disposable Chinet Bakeware. One lucky reader will receive a set of each of the sizes pictured in the photo above. 

All you have to do is tell me what your favorite Thanksgiving food is by leaving me a comment on this post. Please leave a way for me to contact you if you win. I will select a winner this week. Offer valid to residents of the USA only. Good luck!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Why I Love Fall

I used to think that Summer was my favorite season. And maybe for a while, it was. After all, my birthday is in the Summer, and there was no school, and then there were trips to the beach! Yes, Summer is pretty great. But as I got older, I began to appreciate the beauty that is Autumn. The cooler nights, the changing of the leaves, warm colors and cozy sweaters, and of course the pumpkins! Pumpkins, in all their orange glory, make me smile. They make the season for me. And baking with it marks the start of the holidays. 

Let's be real, I live in Central Texas and I have yet to break out any kind of sweater, but it's my fantasy and I can dream, right? It's still in the 80's here and while I may still be wearing t-shirts and flip flops, I am drinking pumpkin spice lattes, wishing for the crunch of brittle leaves underfoot, and visiting the pumpkin patch. We took Hayden to the pumpkin patch last year, when he was just weeks old and he wasn't too thrilled, but this year he had a great time touching and patting all the gourds around him. We made it home with three mini pumpkins, one for each of my boys, and took a few family photos while we were there. Can you tell I was excited to be there?! 

Hayden likes to roll his pumpkin around the house and every now and again I'll catch him putting it in the back of his dump truck and pushing it through the kitchen. So cute, that boy! He loved these cookies too. I gave him a few without the icing and he just devoured them. In fact, while I was taking pictures of them, he kept grabbing them. Those hands get him in trouble sometimes! On their own, they are very much like pumpkin muffins, but with the brown butter icing, they are something special. They're spicy and sweet and have a nuttiness to them thanks to the browned butter. They're also soft and cake-like, unlike most cookies which makes them the perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee. I almost placed some of the icing in between two cookies and sandwiched them together like a whoopie pie. Oh that would have been a treat!

I received a package of butter in the mail a couple weeks ago. I love when that happens! The folks from Twisted Butter sent me an array of their new jazzed up butters. The blends include premium grade AA salted butter, canola oil, honey, fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and bacon. Yes, bacon! The Bacon, Dijon Mustard & Chive butter was one of my favorites while my mom couldn't get enough of the Blueberry, Honey & Lemon Zest. I decided to use the Cinnamon, Honey & Brown Sugar butter in these cookies to make them extra special and it was a success. Visit the Twisted Butter website for more "infused" flavors and to print a coupon to use on your next purchase. Thank you Twisted Butter for allowing me to sample your product!

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

For the Cookies: 
  • 6 Tablespoons Twisted Butter Cinnamon, Honey & Brown Sugar, at room temperature (unsalted butter may be used in place of the Twisted Butter)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup (7 oz) canned pumpkin puree
  • 6 Tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
For the Icing: 
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons evaporated milk, plus more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the cookies:  In a large bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the egg, then reduce the speed to low and add the pumpkin, milk and vanilla. Mix until well blended, about 2 minutes. 

Slowly add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Mix until combined. 

Transfer half the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip. Pipe 1 1/2-inch rounds onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing the cookies 1 inch apart. (A small ice cream scoop may be used if you don't have a pastry bag). 

Bake cookies for 12 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched, rotating the sheets halfway through the baking process. 

Cool the cookies on the sheets on the parchment for 5 minutes before transferring them to wire racks. Allow them to cool completely for icing them. 

For the icing: Put the sifted powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, cooking and swirling the pot occasionally until the butter turns a golden brown, about 3 minutes. Be careful not to let the butter burn. 

Immediately, add the butter to the sugar, scraping any brown bits from the sides and bottom of the pot. Add the milk and vanilla and stir until smooth. Add a teaspoon more of the evaporated milk at a time, as needed if the icing gets too stiff to spread.

Spread about 1 teaspoon of icing onto the tops of each cookie using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Allow icing to set before serving. 

Store cookies in single layers, in an airtight container. 

Makes about 3 dozen

NOTE: I was not compensated by Twisted Butter in any way. The opinion I express here, is mine alone. I was simply sent a sampling of product and I chose to blog about it.

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