Pumpkin Bread 2.0

While there is another pumpkin bread recipe posted (which is really good), this one is FANTASTIC.  Some tweaking and combining of various recipes have left me with this, which has become my go-to recipe.

1/2 c. butter, softened
2 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
4 eggs
28 oz. pumpkin puree
1/2 c. canola oil
2/3 c. water
3 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. ginger

Preheat oven to 350* and grease 3 - 7x3 pans (or 2 traditional loaf pans, or muffin tins, or a combination of your choosing).  Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time until well combined.  Mix in pumpkin, oil, and water.  Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Pour into prepared pans and bake for 50-60 minutes.

Homemade Milky Way- 5 Ingredients

I went through a bit of a milky way craze during Halloween. Once I had picked out every one from our candy stash I decided it was best just to leave it at that.
When I saw a recipe on pinterest for Three Musketeers, my brain wouldn't stop thinking and plotting. I tried to stop the obsessing, but alas, my pregnant self wanted more milky ways.

So, in order to make a milky way I took a part of two recipes, put them together, and here I am once again... eating too much candy.

I used this recipe for the nougat part, and this recipe for the caramel.

1 bag of caramel bits (from the baking aisle)
2 TBSP of heavy cream

Combine in a microwave safe bowl, Microwave for 60 seconds, then stir. Microwave again for 60 seconds. Stir together until the cream and caramel are completely combined. (You may have to microwave it a little bit longer, depending on your microwave.)

Pour it to onto wax paper that has been sprayed with non stick spray and set in to an 8x8 pan. Put it in your freezer for about 30 minutes to let it cool and set.

2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 ounce tub of cool whip

Melt chocolate chips at 50% power in a microwave safe bowl for 1 minute. Stir. Repeat until it's smooth. :) (I think my microwave did it in 3 minutes.) Let the chocolate cool for a bit. You will get a more spongey texture when you are done.
Beat melted chocolate chips for 30 seconds to a minute to incorporate some air into the chocolate.
Add all of the cool whip and beat together for 60 seconds.
Spread evenly on to cooled caramel. Put it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

After both are set, cover a cutting board or your counter with more wax paper. Turn the nougat and caramel out on to the new wax paper. 
Using a hot knife, cut into "fun size" or bite size pieces. Place the wax paper with the nougat and caramel back in to one of your 8x8 pans and stick it back in the freezer to set back up. Another 30 minutes will do.

Melt some milk chocolate bark or candy melts. Separate your caramel/ nougat candy pieces, and dip each into the melted milk chocolate. Tap and place candy on a wax covered tray. It should set up pretty quickly. I like to salt mine lightly with sea salt before it sets up because I am in love with salt.

This recipe made about 24 fun size candies for us. Store finished candies in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

My husband was not happy with me when he saw that I took the shortbread part out of one of the recipes. Tomorrow I will be remaking this candy, but adding the shortbread step from the "twix" recipe. I can't see that being a bad thing... just more candy...

(Not a fantastic picture, but these are SO GOOD!)

Salted Caramel Frosting

I am so very addicted to this stuff. I would marry it, if I wasn't already happily married. For this recipe alone, I will never regret my decision to join pinterest.

Salted Caramel
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, kosher or sea
1. Combine the sugar, water, and the corn syrup in a large saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
2. Cover the saucepan and let it cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
3. After 3 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
4. Do not stir from this point on, but instead swirl the liquid around the pan so that the caramel doesn’t burn.
5. Continue to cook until the caramel turns an even amber color then remove from the heat and let stand for about 30 seconds.
6. *** Be careful here *** Pour the heavy cream into the mixture. The mixture will bubble up significantly and is very hot.
7. Stir the mixture, again being careful. Add the butter, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until combined.
8. Measure 1 cup into a Pyrex measuring cup. Stirring occasionally, allow to cool until thick like molasses and warm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Save any extra in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It is delicious on ice cream, not to mention your finger… :)
Salted Caramel Frosting
2 sticks butter at room temperature
8 ounces of cream cheese
3-4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 cup salted caramel (recipe above)
1. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
2. Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar into the butter/cream cheese mixture and beat to combine.
3. Add 1 cup of the salted caramel and beat to combine.
4. Add additional powdered sugar until the frosting is the sweetness and consistency you desire.

Pineapple Whips

I had some crushed pineapple that I needed to use up. I needed the juice for another recipe awhile back so I had just drained it and had it in a tupperware in the back of the fridge. So, what's a girl to do? I searched Pinterest of course, and came up with THIS recipe. There was just enough juice left in the pineapple to make this recipe. Kismet!

2 20oz cans crushed pineapple, drained. (Reserve 2 tablespoons of the juice.)
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons reserved pineapple juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 8oz tub whipped topping (or 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped)

Puree all but the whipped topping together in a blender or food processor until smooth (I couldn't get mine completely smooth because of how fibrous pineapple is, but it was mostly smooth).

 Pour puree into a one gallon zipper seal freezer bag and lay flat in the freezer for one hour or until the mixture starts to become slushy.

Remove from freezer, dump into a large bowl and gently fold in the whipped topping until incorporated. Put the mixture back in the freezer and freeze for another hour or so until frozen.

You can serve this in a dish like ice cream or in a glass with more pineapple juice poured over the top. Sprite or 7-Up would be good too.

I've read that the original Dole Whips don't have any sort of milk or cream--just pureed pineapple reconstituted with water. I don't know how to do that so this version works for me. Also the copycat recipe I found used real cream which would be delicious for sure, but I only had Cool Whip at my house and it worked great too. I may try cream sometime in the future. I imagine it would be easy to make sugar-free too--substitute your favorite alternative sweetener for the sugar and voilĂ !

This is really refreshing and easy. I can see it becoming a favorite summertime treat.

Caramel Pecan Turtle Bars

This recipe was actually found among the coupons in our Sunday paper. Oh goodness, are they ever fantastic.

Prep time 25 minutes Bake time 22-26 minutes Chill time 2 hours
Makes 32 bars

Crust ingredients
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
4 TBSP Corn starch
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup pecans, finely chopped

Filling Ingredients
14 ounces of caramels, unwrapped
4 TBSP butter or margarine
4 TBSP heavy cream
4 TBSP light or dark corn syrup
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Line an 9x13 inch pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; let foil overhang edge of pan by 2 inches.
Blend flour, brown sugar, and corn starch in a large bowl. Cut in butter with two forks or pastry blender until crumbly.
Stir in pecans. Press into prepared pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 11 to 13 minutes or until crust in lightly browned.
Remove from oven.

Heat unwrapped caramels , butter, cream and corn syrup in a large microwave safe bowl on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture is smooth. Carefully spread over baked crust. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until caramel is just starting to bubble. Remove from oven.

Sprinkle bars with chocolate chips and let rest for 5 minutes until chocolate is melted. Carefully spread chocolate over the caramel using the back of a spoon for a swirl effect, leaving portions of caramel exposed.

Refrigerate for 2 hours or until chocolate is set. Remove by lifting opposite ends of foil. Place on cutting board and peel away before cutting.

Peppermint Bark Shortbread Bars

I have already made 4 batches of this during this year's holiday season. It comes together so very quickly, not much by way of ingredients, and people gobble them up! Land 'o' lakes butter company put out this recipe;

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of softened butter
1/3 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp of peppermint extract

12 ounces of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
About 1/3 cup of coursely chopped candy canes

Heat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, extending foil over edges; set aside.

Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips and candies in large bowl. Beat at low speed until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 19 to 21 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. DO NOT OVERBAKE.
Immediately sprinkle crust evenly with chocolate chips; return pan to oven for 1 minute to melt chocolate. Spread chocolate evenly over crust; immediately sprinkle with chopped peppermint candies. Cool completely.
Remove bars from pan using foil ends. Cut bars into 28 squares; cut each square in half diagonally. Makes 56 cookies!

Colonial Apple Cider Cake

I was asked to make this for Joel's class for the Colonial Week Celebration that the fifth grade has every year. It was amazing. I had trouble getting it out of the pans. I think maybe the apples kind of caramelize in the baking and make it stickier. Just generously grease and flour your pans and allow adequate time for cooling and you shouldn't have the same issues that I did.

4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used golden delicious)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 pound butter, melted (2 sticks)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups flour
1 cup chopped pecans

1⁄2 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons apple jelly
2 teaspoons cinnamon (I reduced this and only used 1 teaspoon. Two seemed like too much to me.)
powdered sugar, for dusting
Place apples in large bowl. Pour sugar over apples and let stand for 10 minutes to extract
moisture from the apples. Add eggs and butter; scrape bowl. Add all but glaze
ingredients; mix well. Pour batter into greased and floured bundt pan or two 9-inch
cake pans. Bake at 350°F for 60 to 75 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes
out clean. Allow cake to cool. 
Dissolve the apple jelly with the cider by warming them together. Mix in one teaspoon cinnamon. Brush this mixture over cake with a pastry brush. Continue brushing until all the glaze is gone. Dust liberally with powdered sugar.