Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I volunteered to make both a bride’s and a groom’s cake for a wedding reception, and I was feeling a little stressed because I had never made cakes for a wedding before. Well, I’m happy to report that both cakes turned out great, and I even managed to get them to the reception without dropping them. :)

Making the wedding cakes turned out to actually be quite fun, but I now have a new-found appreciation for those cake bakers who make them as a full-time profession. I don’t know how they do it. They must be able to handle stress a lot better than I.

There was no stress involved whatsoever in making these yummy Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles though. They are super easy to make, and not only did this recipe produce a delicious treat packed with the flavors of the Fall season, but the aroma of the pumpkin and spice from the cookies baking in the oven filled my home with a wonderful Autumn scent. In fact, the scent might stick around longer than the cookies – they are that good.

Snickerdoodles are one of my favorite cookies, and I believe I’ve mentioned before that Autumn is my very favorite season. So it’s an extra special treat when I get to combine one of Autumn’s bountiful offerings, pumpkins, with one of my favorite cookies.

~Enjoy~
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Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles

For the cookies:
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the coating:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Directions:
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in the pumpkin puree. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Turn the mixer to low speed and gradually add in the dry ingredients; mix until just incorporated. Cover and chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and spices for the coating. Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Coat the bottom of a drinking glass with butter. Press the bottom of the glass in the sugar-spice mixture. Flatten the dough balls slightly with the bottom of the glass.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are set and edges are lightly browned. Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Cookie Bars

Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Cookie Bars

Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Cookie Bars

Oh dear, I’m starting to feel my stress level begin to rise. You see, silly me, I volunteered to make the cakes for a wedding reception on Thursday – which is only five days away. I’ll be making both a groom’s cake and the bride’s cake. Now I’ve baked plenty of cakes throughout the years, but I’ve never made a wedding cake before. I’m just hoping beyond hope that I haven’t bit off more than I can chew, and the cakes turn out okay. I don’t want to ruin the bride and groom’s big day.

One thing I know for sure I can’t ruin, are these Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Cookie Bars. I’ve been pretty busy lately and I haven’t really had time to bake, but I was watching t.v. one day and a commercial for Papa John’s Pizza came on the screen. Papa John’s was advertising their new mega chocolate chip cookie, and suddenly I had craving for chocolate chip cookies. Instead of dialing my local Papa John’s Pizzeria though, I headed into the kitchen and whipped up a batch of these wonderful cookie bars.

This recipe produces an incredibly moist and chewy bar, and the cinnamon flavor pairs so beautifully with the milk chocolate. Oh, and did I mention they are a cinch to make. You only need a couple of bowls and a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients together. No electric mixer required. It’s easy-peasy!

Now, if only wedding cakes could be that simple to make…

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

~Enjoy~
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Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Cookie Bars

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips, divided

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar and oil with a wooden spoon until well combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture a little at a time, stirring until well combined. Fold in 1 cup of the milk chocolate chips.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips over top of batter.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool. Cut into bars.

Makes about 12 cookie bars.

Gingerbread Apple Crisp

Gingerbread Apple Crisp

Gingerbread Apple Crisp

Fall has reappeared here in our neck of the woods, and the rains that have accompanied it have washed away all signs of the snow that fell earlier this week. Many of the leaves on the trees have turned a brilliant gold color, and the temperatures have climbed back into the 50’s. We’re supposed to get another chance of snow falling next week, but for the time being, I’m enjoying the reappearance of Fall.

To welcome back the Autumn season, however brief it may be, I decided to make this incredibly yummy Gingerbread Apple Crisp. Now I’ve had plenty of apple crisp throughout the years, but this recipe is one of my favorites. I’m not sure what makes this apple crisp so good. It could be the allspice and brown sugar that wraps around and coats each and every apple slice, or it may be the gingerbread pudding mix, oats, and pecans that combine to create the crisp and delicious topping. Whatever it is, I really love it.

If you’re not a big fan of gingerbread, you can get creative and try this recipe with other pudding flavors such as vanilla, cheesecake, pumpkin-spice, etc. Whichever flavor you like and think would pair well with apples.

~Enjoy~
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Gingerbread Apple Crisp

4 cups apples, peeled & sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup water

Topping:
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 package (3.4 ounce) Gingerbread Instant Pudding & Pie Filling mix
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the apples in an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch, allspice, vanilla and water. Pour over apples.

In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, pudding mix, sugar, cinnamon, salt and pecans. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apples.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and fruit is tender.

Remove from oven and place pan on wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped topping; if desired.

Zucchini Banana Nut Bread

Zucchini Banana Nut Bread

Zucchini Banana Nut Bread

Summer is winding down pretty quickly and Autumn will soon be upon us, but there is still time to stop by your local farmer’s market and stock up on all the fabulous produce they have to offer – which is exactly what I have been doing for the past several weeks.

I must say, there is nothing quite like the taste of fresh, locally grown produce. Anything you bake and/or cook with fresh fruits and veggies tastes more flavorful, not to mention it feels so good to support the local farmers.

While strolling through the entrance of a farmer’s market recently, I caught sight of a huge zucchini at a nearby stand. I was quick to purchase the monster squash before anyone else could snap it up, and as I placed it gently in my canvas shopping bag, I knew that I had severely underestimated just how big and heavy it actually was. After just a few minutes of toting the hefty veggie around the market, it began to dawn on me that it probably would have been wiser to save that purchase for last. :)

One of the first things I thought of using the zucchini in was bread, but instead of making the usual zucchini bread, I decided to combine it with another family favorite, bananas, and made this delicious and incredibly moist Zucchini Banana Nut Bread. This yummy bread is quick and easy to prepare, and can be enjoyed anytime of the day – whether it is with a cup of coffee for breakfast, or as an afternoon snack.

Now, what should I use the rest of the zucchini in?? (trust me, I have a lot left over)

~Enjoy~
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Zucchini Banana Nut Bread

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg
1 cup mashed banana (approx. 2 medium bananas)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan, or spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In a small bowl, beat the egg, banana, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in zucchini and pecans.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool bread in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Yield: 1 loaf

(To print this recipe, click on the ‘Print & PDF’ button below)

Root Beer Float Cupcakes

Root Beer Float Cupcakes

Root Beer Float Cupcakes

As I suspected would happen, a change in the weather has occurred, bringing grey skies, cooler temperatures, and a little bit of rain. Although it’s not exactly ideal weather conditions for the upcoming long holiday weekend, it has given me the opportunity to spend a little more time indoors and catch up on some household chores – and do some baking.

Today I decided to make these wonderful Root Beer Float Cupcakes to enjoy with our 4th of July holiday meal. I also felt it was my duty to “sample” one, just to make sure they turned out alright. FYI – they are delicious!! Of course, what’s not to like about a cupcake that includes root beer soda in the cake batter and ice cream in the frosting. :)

The float frosting is so sweet and creamy, and the cupcakes are incredibly moist. The root beer soda adds a subtle root beer flavor, but if you want a stronger flavor, you can add a teaspoon or more of root beer extract to the batter.

As long as I have one of these tasty treats close at hand, I don’t think the gloomy weather that’s expected to hang around this holiday weekend will bother me too much.

Have a safe and wonderful 4th of July everyone!!

~Enjoy~
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Root Beer Float Cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup root beer soda
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 12 cupcake tins or line with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add both sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from heat and cool.

Beat the egg in a small bowl, then whisk it into the cooled root beer mixture. Fold the root beer mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. (The batter will be slightly lumpy – this is normal)

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost cooled cupcakes with Float Frosting; if desired. (recipe below)

Makes 12 Cupcakes.



Float Frosting

1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup vanilla ice cream, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the ice cream and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar. If necessary, add more ice cream to thin or more powdered sugar to thicken frosting to desired texture.

Root Beer Float Cupcakes

Root Beer Float Cupcakes

(To print this recipe, click on the ‘Print & PDF’ button below)

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

It turns out that you can teach an old dog new tricks! I had the pleasure of turning 50 years old last month, and although I’m no longer a spring chicken, I discovered that I’m still capable of learning new things from my Mom.

Up until just recently, I didn’t know that you could freeze bananas whole, still in the banana peel, and use them in recipes later. My mother informed me of this nifty trick, and I had to give it a try. I decided to use my previously frozen, and then thawed, bananas in these Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars, and I must say, they turned out great!

Although the bananas didn’t look very pretty after they had been removed from the freezer and thawed…

Bananas - frozen and then thawed

Bananas – frozen and then thawed

…they worked beautifully in this recipe. I’ve had these bananas in the freezer for at least two months, and the banana flavor did not diminish one bit while they were in there.

I was hoping to take these bars with me on a short hiking trip this weekend, but since it’s currently snowing out and only 27 degrees, I guess I’ll just have to feast on them here at home.

~Enjoy~

AK Mom


Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 packets Cinnamon & Spice Lower Sugar Instant Oatmeal (can substitute 3/4 cup instant or quick oats – regular flavor, or any flavor you desire)
2 packets Apples & Cinnamon Lower Sugar Instant Oatmeal (can substitute 3/4 cup instant or quick oats – regular flavor, or any flavor you desire)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 (10 ounce) package Simple Truth Organic Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (or any semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch square baking pans.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the brown sugar and butter together. Mix in eggs and vanilla.

Add the oatmeal, flour, and bananas; mix until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Divide and spread batter evenly in prepared baking pans.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place pans on wire rack to cool. Cut into squares.

Makes 32 bars.

(To print this recipe, click on the ‘Print & PDF’ button below)

Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Sugar Topping

Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Sugar Topping

Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Sugar Topping

With our daytime temperatures only reaching between 40 and 45 degrees, I know it may be hard for some of you to believe, but to many of us Alaskans, it actually feels like Spring has arrived. The snow is gradually melting, I’ve seen geese flying overhead, and pussy willow buds are starting to emerge on more and more trees. Although it may be a while yet before we see green grass and flowers, I’m finally starting to let myself believe that Winter is now behind us.

To welcome and celebrate the arrival of our Alaskan Spring, I decided to make a batch of these yummy Blueberry Muffins topped with a refreshing Lemon Sugar Topping to enjoy with our breakfast this morning. I love blueberry muffins, especially when they’re bursting with blueberry goodness, like these are. The lemon flavor from the lemon zest pairs perfectly with the blueberry flavor, and the lemon sugar makes a crisp topping that adds great texture to the muffins.

Here’s hoping that your Spring is a bit warmer than ours.

~Enjoy~
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Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Sugar Topping

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Topping:
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 12 medium muffin tins, or line with paper baking cups.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla extract; mix until well combined. Gradually add in the dry ingredients; mix until just moistened. Gently fold in blueberries.

Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling about 3/4 full. Combine lemon zest with granulated sugar and sprinkle over tops of batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Makes 12 muffins.

(To print this recipe, click on the ‘Print & PDF’ button below)

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