Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pumpkin Butterscotch Blondies

Posted by: Maggie

Le sigh.  Washington, DC is still repulsively hot and humid, despite the fact that it's almost October.  I've put off baking with pumpkin for a couple weeks now, hoping to have more autumn like temperatures to match my baking, to no avail. 

The unfortunate side effect of this pumpkin procrastination turned out to be an astronomically large folder full of "favorites" saved from various blogs with one common theme: PUMPKIN.  I knew I couldn't wait any longer, so when I got home tonight I pushed the memories of my sweaty day aside and forged ahead on these delicious blondies.

These are more cakey than your typical blondie or brownie recipe, but still super delicious!

Here's what you'll need:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with foil.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt.  Stir together and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined.  Mix in the pumpkin puree.  With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.  Fold in the white chocolate and butterscotch chips with a rubber spatula.

Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan.  Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, about 35-40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting.

To serve, lift the cake from the pan using the foil and transfer to a cutting board.  Peel off the foil and using a sharp knife, cut into 24 squares.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Posted by: Annie

Every Monday at my job is "Marvelous Monday", meaning that every Monday morning a different person brings in a treat to kick the week off on a great start. This week it is my turn for Marvelous Monday and my initial idea was to just go with a staple, and in my kitchen that would be my chocolate chip cookies. However, the more I thought about it I realized that I would be less inclined to eat a chocolate chip cookie at 7:30 am, because it lacks that certain breakfast-y feel. After much deliberation I settled on chocolate chip muffins - enough chocolate to make a Monday happy, but with enough muffin to make the guilt of eating chocolate for breakfast disappear.
What you'll need: (recipe below yields 1 dozen, I doubled it)

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup chocolate chips

Crumb topping:
3 tbs sugar
2 tbs brown sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. In a separate large bowl mix the milk, eggs, oil, vanilla extract and chocolate chips. Slowly add the dry mixture to the milk/egg mixture until the mixture is moistened. Fill cups 2/3 way. Sprinkle the crumb topping on each of the muffins and bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick entered in the center comes out clean. 


Posted by: Annie

Summer may be officially over, but the beautiful weather Friday night inspired my roommates and I to mix up a pitcher of white sangria. Because truly, after a day of work what is better than sipping on a glass of homemade sangria. After a quick trip to Trader Joes, our Mango Raspberry Pineapple Sangria was in the works.

What you will need to make this refreshing, slightly intoxicating beverage:

1 bottle white wine (we chose Yellowtail Chardonnay)
3 T sugar 
1 pint raspberries
2 cups mango/pineapple (we purchased a pre-sliced version of this from Trader Joes- really any fruit choice of your liking will work)
sparkling soda (we chose Raspberry flavored)

Mix sugar, raspberries, mango/pineapple and chardonnay together in a large pitcher or bowl. Let chill for 2-3 hours. Pour into glasses and top off with sparkling soda.

Pretzel M&M Bars

Posted by: Annie

Pretzels and chocolate have always been one of my favorite combinations. That being said, the new Pretzel M &M’s are constantly finding their way into my shopping cart. I was in a baking mood after work yesterday and really wanted to bake something involving pretzel M&M’s, so I was thrilled to find a recipe that called for not only M&M’s, but peanut butter. From there on Peanut Butter Pretzel Crumbly Bars were born. I adapted the recipe from here.  Enjoy!

What You Will Need:

1 stick butter
2 eggs
1 cup peanut butter
¾ cup sugar
2/3 cup  packed dark brown sugar
2 cups flour
¾ tsp baking soda
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 “Medium” Bag Pretzel M&M’s (9.9 oz)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together the butter, eggs, peanut butter, dark brown sugar and sugar. Gradually mix in  the flour, baking soda, and baking powder, and mix until smooth. Remove 1 ½ cups of the dough mixture and set aside. Press the remaining dough into the bottom of an ungreased 13x9 pan. Add the M&M candies to the reserved dough and crumble into the pan pressing down lightly. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cut into bars.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Posted by: Maggie

A few hours from now I'll be participating in Cupcake Camp DC! After much deliberation over what recipe to make, I settled on these dark chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream from Brown Eyed Baker.

I did a test run of them on Thursday night and gave them away to my coworkers. I received VERY positive reviews, and two coworkers didn't believe I made them myself, which makes me feel a bit more confident about going up against more experienced bakers today!

I had a bit of trouble finding Dutch processed cocoa for this recipe, but was finally able to track it down at Whole Foods (don't bother with Harris Teeter or Shoppers).

Here's what you'll need: (I doubled this - amounts below yield a dozen)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup (1.5 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¾ cup (3.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
¾ cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon table salt
½ cup (4 ounces) sour cream

Adjust oven rack to the lower middle position, and preheat to 350 degrees (325 if using a non-stick muffin tin). Line muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.

Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a microwaveable bowl. In 30 second increments on 50% power melt until smooth and combined. Set aside to cool.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a small bowl.

Beat eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated. Beat in cooled chocolate mixture until combined. Sift about one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and beat on lowest setting until just combined. Beat in sour cream until incorporated, and then add the remaining flour mixture. Do not over mix!

Divide batter evenly among baking cups, and bake 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Recipe:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Beat the first 5 ingredients on medium low speed until creamy. Add the heavy cream, and beat on high speed until mixture is smooth. I used a 1M star tip to frost mine.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Posted by: Maggie

I've had a few baking failures lately.

First there was cornbread a few weeks ago, which I made to go with a batch of black bean soup that I never posted on here.

Then I attempted to make "Redskins Red-Velvet Cupcakes" for Jeff, which I envisioned as red velvet cupcakes with gold cream cheese frosting and these doodads on top. I neglected to buy plain cupcake wrappers, so after mixing the batter up had the genius idea to spray the muffin tin with Pam. Don't do this. It stains your cupcakes brown. Also, since the recipe I used neglected to indicate how many cupcakes it yielded, I eyeballed the batter. That was mistake number two. It was a mess. I should have taken a photo but it was too shameful. I tasted the ugly cupcakes and the cake wasn't even very good, so I blame the author of the recipe for 50% of that debacle.

My most recent baking disaster was on Saturday night when I was staying in and watching tv with Jeff. We were watching some show about cakes, and I got the itch to bake. I'm running low on staples at the moment, and realized I had enough ingredients to make Snickerdoodles. I mixed up the cookies, and...I think you know where this is going. Jeff was kind enough to eat 4 of them, but he also referred to them as Frisbees since they were so flat and spread out.

Now comes the process of correcting (with new recipes) these recent failures. I made Snickerdoodles again last night using my favorite sugar cookie recipe, and they turned out delicious. The cinnamon flavor is really perfect for fall, and they made my kitchen smell amazing.

Here's what you'll need:

(yields about 50 small cookies)

1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup butter
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

For rolling: 1 part cinnamon to 3 parts sugar (you'll want about 1/4 -1/3 cup mixture total)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream together sugar and butter, and beat in egg yolks and vanilla.

Mix together dry ingredients in a medium bowl, and stir into wet ingredients until combined.

Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour. After dough has chilled, roll into 1 inch balls, and lightly coat in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake for 7 minutes, or until top of cookie has just started to crack. Let cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes, and transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chicken and Spinach Tortellini

Posted by: Annie

This pasta dish was created based on what I had in my fridge that was near its expiration/leftover. That being said, the measurements were not exact but the results were still delicious!

What you'll need:
Extra virgin olive oil
Minced garlic, to taste
2 cups baby spinach
1 large beefsteak tomato, seeded and diced
Grilled chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1 package cheese and spinach tortellini (I used Barilla)

Cook tortellini according to package directions, approximately 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in skillet and add in garlic, spinach, and tomato. Saute until spinach is tender. Add grilled chicken, and cook until heated through.

Mix spinach mixture with tortellini, and enjoy!
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