Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Please, excuse the "iPhoneography." ;)
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Christmastime (specifically, holiday dinner party season) is upon us! Of course, I couldn't wait to whip up a festive feast packed with holiday inspiration, but before I get to that, here's a quick round-up of my Thanksgiving dessert spread, as pictured above. 

(Clockwise beginning from the top left)
These desserts were a huge hit at my family's Thanksgiving gathering this year. And best of all, they would all work fabulously for upcoming holiday gatherings, too! Give them a try, I promise you won't be disappointed!

Now, back to holiday dinner party season. There's something so fun, festive and cozy about inviting friends and family over for a delicious home cooked meal during the Christmas season. Especially on those nights where it's just too darn cold to face going out! So, in the spirit of seasonal entertaining, I teamed up with my friend Sumi (yes, again, remember her from my last dinner party?) to create a fabulous meal inspired by all the beautiful colors and flavors of the holidays.

Of course, we kicked things off with a lovely bottle of red wine. Toscana is on the fruitier side as far as red wines go, and with it's medium body, it paired well with the fruity notes in the meal we enjoyed.

The star of the show was our Garlic and Herb Braised Leg of Lamb with a Red Wine Cherry Reduction! I'm ashamed to admit that before this meal, I hadn't tried lamb before (I know, try to withhold your gasps). I'd heard lots of great things about it, especially when it came to pairing it with cherry, and I loved the idea of incorporating the rich, festive, cherry red hue in our holiday meal. Combined with the slightly bitter and acidic flavors of merlot, sweetness of cherries and a touch of balsamic, the reduction turned out to be the perfect addition to our tender, garlic and herb braised lamb with roasted asparagus. Don't you love that red and green?!

Alongside the leg of lamb and roasted asparagus, we enjoyed Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Red Wine Gravy, and of course, extra Red Wine Cherry Reduction. Is there a better comfort food pairing than mashed potatoes with gravy?! I certainly don't think so. And, this meal was all about the comforts and coziness of the holidays, so the side dishes were perfectly complementary. I love the red specks of potato skins in the mashed potatoes dish. Best of all, the gravy was made mostly of the drippings from the lamb, so it can be whipped up in no time!

And, of course, no holiday dinner party is complete without a fabulously decadent dessert! We opted for a Flourless Chocolate Cake since Sumi is gluten intolerant, and also just because I love the richness of a flourless cake for a change! This recipe serves as a perfect example of why all great dinner party hosts need to make sure they read the entire recipe through before deciding to make it, however. It turns out this recipe calls for overnight refrigeration, whoops! No need to fret though, I improvised a fun, rosette-inspired design in the gooiest inner circle of the cake (that would have set overnight), and it still tasted amazing! We didn't have any on hand, but I might try garnishing this cake with crushed candy canes or any other festive decorations sitting in your pantry for an eye-catching, seasonal finish!

This holiday season, take a moment to enjoy your friends and family around this festive meal made with love. Because, really, what more do we all want most for Christmas than to be surrounded by great food and the ones we love?  

Happy Holidays, everyone! :)

Garlic and Herb Braised Leg of Lamb with Red Wine Cherry Reduction

For the Garlic and Herb Braised Leg of Lamb:
1 5 pound deboned leg of lamb
1-2 large garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1 bunch fresh sage
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2-1 bottle of merlot
2-3 cups chicken broth

For the Red Wine Cherry Reduction:
2 cups merlot or 2 cups other red wine
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted (I have very successfully substituted bottled morello cherries)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
4 cups lamb stock or 4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the Garlic and Herb Braised Leg of Lamb:
1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Place lamb in large roasting pan.

2. With a paring knife, poke holes all over the leg and insert small pieces of garlic into them. Coat lamb with salt and pepper, olive oil, and additional garlic. Scatter fresh chopped rosemary and sage. Roast lamb 20 minutes.

3. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Pour half bottle of merlot and enough chicken stock over lamb so that it is about 2/3 covered.

4. Cover and roast until lamb is very tender, about 1 hour and 50 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, uncovered, 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm, covered, in 350°F oven for 30 minutes before continuing.)

For the Red Wine Cherry Reduction:
1. Combine the wine, cherries, garlic and shallot in a saucepan over high heat and reduce until the mixture is almost dry, about 20 minutes.

2. Add the stock, decrease the heat to medium, and reduce until the sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon, 15-20 minutes.

3. Add the butter and stir until melted.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the balsamic vinegar.

5. Keep warm until you are ready to serve.

Red Wine Gravy

1 cup remaining braised lamb drippings
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon flour
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

1. In a medium skillet, whisk together braised lamb drippings, butter and flour over medium high heat. Stir with a wire whisk until the flour has thickened and the gravy is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook slowly to brown the flour, and stir constantly, about 10 minutes.

2. Keep warm until you are ready to serve.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

5 partially peeled, quartered red potatoes
2 crushed garlic cloves
3 Tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup sour cream
Heavy cream to taste
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a pot of boiling water in a medium saucepan to a boil. Partially peel, quarter and boil potatoes until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes; drain.

2. Heat butter, sour cream and heavy cream over low heat until butter is melted. Using a potato masher or electric beater, slowly blend milk mixture into potatoes until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup white sugar
18 (1 ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
6 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease one 10 inch round cake pan and set aside.

2. In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the water, salt and sugar. Stir until completely dissolved and set aside.

3. Either in the top half of a double boiler or in a microwave oven melt the bittersweet chocolate. Pour the chocolate into the bowl of an electric mixer.

4. Cut the butter into pieces and beat the butter into the chocolate, 1 piece at a time. Beat in the hot sugar-water. Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Have a pan larger than the cake pan ready, put the cake pan in the larger pan and fill the pan with boiling water halfway up the sides of the cake pan.

6. Bake cake in the water bath at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 45 minutes. The center will still look wet. Chill cake overnight in the pan. To unmold, dip the bottom of the cake pan in hot water for 10 seconds and invert onto a serving plate. (Or, in our case, chill the cake in the freezer for about an hour and cross your fingers that the cake will transfer onto a plate!)


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Best Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tomorrow's the big day! The Super Bowl of all things food, an annual feast of the most grand proportions, a foodie's dream come true... that's right, folks, unless you've just landed from another planet, you know tomorrow is Thanksgiving!

While I'll admit to being a bit of a Christmas-crazy gal, myself (anyone else already watched "Elf" and listened to your favorite Christmas playlist?!), I don't believe there's any better way to kick off the holiday season than with an over-the-top Thanksgiving celebration. I love the holidays for the special time they offer with family and friends, and Thanksgiving is no exception. What better time to whip out your finest, most tried-and-true recipes than when you have a chance to really enjoy them over some great conversation and memorable laughs with those you love? Let me tell you, you don't want to miss out on these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. I didn't deem them "the best" for nothing!

Unlike your typical "cakey," fluffy pumpkin cookie, these babies are reminiscent of the beloved, classic chocolate chip cookie. Their soft, buttery and chewy texture make these pumpkin and chocolatey treats a Thanksgiving dream. I made my first test-run batch last week and enjoyed them so much that I considered leaving them off the official Thanksgiving menu for fear that I would eat too many of them! If that doesn't give you proper indication of just how delectable these cookies are, then I don't know what does! Whip up this heavenly recipe to share with your Thanksgiving clan this year, and I guarantee you'll soon find out the real reason why I'm calling these "The Best Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!" 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Enjoy good family, good friends and exceptionally good food. :)

The Best Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from Picky Palate


1 stick/8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons molasses
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 10 ounce bag chocolate chips (I used Hershey's!)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, silpat liner or parchment paper.

2. Beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add molasses, pumpkin, egg and vanilla, beating until well combined.

3. Add flour, salt and baking soda, mixing to combine then add in chocolate chips. Using an ice cream scoop to place dough onto prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until baked through. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to cooling rack. Enjoy!

Makes about two dozen cookies.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Apple Hand Pies

It's beginning to look a lot like the holidays! And as those close to me know, the holidays are one of my most favorite times of year. Family, friends, food, festivities and fun all rolled into one? What could be better! 

However, I'm not sure if anyone else is feeling this way this year, but it appears that somehow I got up from my beach chair back in July and was instantly transported to November 14, only days before Thanksgiving! With the first snow already behind us (in New England, that is!), the holidays seem to be rushing onward with a vengeance and I'm starting to wish I had a remote control for life to sloooow thiiiings dooown. I love the holidays for the quality time they give us with the people we love, so, life, if you could kindly stop this whole barreling-through-the-holidays-in-a-blur-of-turkey-and-gingerbread-and-christmas-carols charade, then I think this special time of year would become much more enjoyable. :)

In the interest of savoring all of the flavors and experiences of the holidays, I'd highly recommend whipping up a batch of these delicious Apple Hand Pies. In addition to being just plain adorable, they're a fun way to switch up the traditional apple pie served every year for Thanksgiving. And, hey, they have major portion control benefits, too! That is, of course, if you can limit yourself to just one -- and that is easier said than done!

The recipe is both a cinch to put together and budget friendly because you can use Pillsbury's pre-made pie crust. If you're up for the challenge, you can always use your favorite homemade pie dough recipe, too. Either way, these pies are the perfect way to make your holiday guests feel right at home. Enjoy!

Apple Hand Pies

1 package Pillsbury pie crust
4 medium Apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 egg, for egg wash
1 Tablespoon water for egg wash


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with aluminum foil.

2. Toss the apples, sugars, flour, lemon juice and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Add room temperature butter (in small cubes) to apple mixture and combine thoroughly.

3. Unwrap one Pillsbury pie crust (keep other in the refrigerator until ready to use). Place pie crust on a lightly floured surface. Using a medium sized drinking glass (or any shape or size cutter of your liking!), cut out circles, re-rolling re-rolling scraps (if they start to get warm, refrigerate then roll in 15-20 minutes).

4. Whisk together egg and water. Brush dough circles with egg wash. Pile about 1/4 cup of apple mixture in the center of the circle, leaving a border around the edges. Place a second dough circle atop each filled circle then use a fork to crimp the edges together, sealing each pie.

5. Place hand pie on lined sheet pan, brush top with egg wash, and score with a knife if desired. Repeat to fill sheet pan, placing hand pies at least an inch apart.

6. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until golden. While first pan bakes, continue rolling, filling and sealing remaining dough.

7. After finished baking, allow to cool for 15 minutes and serve.

Makes about 24 pies.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Oreo Chunk Brownies

I just can't get enough of all of this fall baking fun! The pumpkin craze continues with these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Oreo Chunk Brownies. The marriage of pumpkin, cream cheese, Oreo cookies and brownies is simply divine and to boot, this recipe is super easy! To create this festive and sure-to-impress treat, just pick up a box of your favorite double chocolate brownie mix (I love the richness of Ghiradelli!), a can of pumpkin, a little cream cheese, a few Oreos, some brown sugar and cinnamon, and consider yourself in Pumpkin Cream Cheese Oreo Chunk Brownie heaven!

Photo by

With the holidays just around the corner, don't forget about this deliciously fun recipe that you can whip up in no time. After all, what's better than pumpkin AND chocolate?! 

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Oreo Chunk Brownies
Recipe adapted from Picky Palate

1 box of double chocolate brownie mix (plus ingredients that the mix requires)
4 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 Oreo cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line an 8×8 inch baking dish with foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray (or, I used my beloved Wilton bar pan, without the foil).
Prepare double chocolate brownie mix according to the directions on the packaging. Transfer batter to prepared baking dish, spreading evenly.
Place cream cheese, brown sugar and cinnamon into a large bowl. Beat until creamy and smooth. Place dollops over brownie batter then take a knife and swirl pumpkin mixture through brownies. Top and gently press broken up pieces of Oreo Cookies into pumpkin layer. Bake for 40-50 minutes (or about half the time in a Wilton bar pan), until cooked through. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.
Makes 9-12 servings. Enjoy!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Easy Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

By now, I think we all know how I feel about cinnamon rolls. I did some fun (and delicious!) things with the concept here and here, and always seem to find myself adding cinnamon to my fall recipes however I can (like here and here)! Because, let's just be real, is there any more amazing and intoxicating smell than cinnamon and fall spices fresh from the oven? I certainly don't think so!

Typically, the only downside to such scrumptious treats is the amount of preparation and time it takes before you can finally sink your teeth into one! Don't get me wrong, sometimes you're in the mood to really put in the effort, but other times, life may get in the way. For those times when you're seriously craving one of these legendary breakfast goodies and can't imagine waiting hours to whip up the dough, consider picking up a bag of pre-made dough! I love Trader Joe's brand, and used a bag of their white pizza dough for this recipe. This can also be a more cost-effective option than purchasing all the ingredients to make homemade dough, as well. The cinnamon rolls will be ready in a snap, and trust me, you (and your taste testers!) will never notice a difference!

To spice up my standard cinnamon rolls, I added a seasonal kick of pumpkin to this recipe. If for no other reason, this recipe is worth making for its pure aromatic benefits! Your kitchen will smell of pumpkin spice and everything nice! Drizzle a bit of Maple Cream Cheese icing on these babies, and consider yourself in fall brunch heaven! They're too easy to pass up, so go whip up a batch for your next fall gathering today! Happy Baking!

Easy Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe adapted from The Ungourmet


For Cinnamon Rolls:
1 16-18 oz package of refrigerated pizza dough
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp room temperature butter
4 tbsp brown sugar

For Maple Cream Cheese Icing:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature


For Cinnamon Rolls:
Roll out dough into a 12x10 inch rectangle. Combine the pumpkin, spices, syrup and butter. Spread filling onto the rolled dough, leaving 1-inch on each side. Sprinkle brown sugar on top of pumpkin spice filling. 

Carefully roll dough jelly-roll style, starting at the long end (this will be a little messy!). Pinch seams on each end to seal. 

Use a sharp serrated knife to cut 12 1-inch slices. Place rolls into a greased 9 inch baking pan. Cover and place in a draft free area and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

For Maple Cream Cheese Icing:
Place all ingredients in the bowl; beat until well combined. Be sure to beat on high speed for at least 2 minutes at the end to ensure that the frosting is light and fluffy. 

Once you've created the frosting (which keeps very well over time in the refrigerator!), spoon out about 1 to 1 1/2 cups and warm in the microwave for about 10 seconds (or until desired icing consistency). Drizzle onto cinnamon rolls while they are still warm and allow to set and harden for about 15-20 minutes.

Makes about 10-12 cinnamon rolls.



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Happy Halloween, everyone! Halloween is like Christmas for sweet-toothers like myself, so of course I couldn't wait to whip up a candy-inspired treat this year! In my fondest, spookiest memories of trick-or-treating as a kid, I'll always remember the annual candy trading party that my brothers and I threw upon returning home with our loot. Reese's peanut butter cups were always worth at least two of any other candy, because we all agreed that they were the best. Years later, I still can't resist tearing open a few bright orange wrappers in the month of October. Chocolate and peanut butter really are a match made in heaven, aren't they?!

So, of course, when I miraculously came across a bag of Reese's peanut butter chips in my pantry this week, I took it as a sign of some serious Halloween baking inspiration and let my mind run wild. These Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies are made candy-licious by semi-sweet chocolate chips, Hershey's cocoa powder and Reese's peanut butter chips. Their chocolate and peanut butter chewy interior with a slightly crispy exterior make for a seriously irresistible seasonal treat that is sure to put you in the Halloween spirit! Make a batch this Halloween, but be careful, you'll have to eat them quick -- they're so good, the ghouls and goblins might get them!

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's, in honor of Halloween!)
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups Reese's peanut butter chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter with a hand mixer. Add the white sugar and brown sugar. Beat until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until blended.

Sift in the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder; blend together until smooth. Stir in the chocolate and peanut butter chips. And, don't hold back! It may appear that you are adding too many, but trust me, this is the secret to these cookies.

Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls (about the size of a golf ball; I used an ice cream scoop) and place them one inch apart onto cookie sheets lined with aluminum foil.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Keep a close eye on your oven as temperatures vary and you don't want to over bake these cookies. They're much better softer!

Makes about two dozen cookies. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Fall Feast Fit for the Food Network

Hey, ya'll! I know that sounds a little funny coming from a born-and-raised New Englander, but I'm feeling especially inspired by Ms. Deen these days, so you'll have to forgive me. It just so happens that the Queen of Southern Cuisine is holding a talent search for the next Deen Team blogger, and as soon as I found out, I knew I had to whip up a fall feast that would make Paula (and Jamie, Bobby, and the whole Deen clan!) proud!
You see, Paula might not know it yet, but I happen to think we're soul sisters. We have so much in common and often times when I'm watching one of the many delicious episodes of Paula's Home Cooking, I imagine how much fun we'd have if we were ever able to spend a day together. 

Paula and I share a passion for creating and enjoying delightfully uncomplicated home cooking with our family and friends. I just love Paula's fun, cook-from-the-heart style that she infuses into every recipe. As someone who takes special care to appreciate the "little things" in life, I love Paula for reminding us all to appreciate life's most simple pleasures (like inviting the girls over for brunch, tending a garden, or sharing a laugh with grandchildren). Paula is one of those special people that we all hope to know at some point in our lives -- always lifting spirits and bringing a smile to everyone's face. She really is the epitome of a sweet, southern belle! And, as those close to me know, I have some serious southern aspirations of my own. I'd love to (and am planning to!) make the big move across the Mason Dixon soon. So, I've been taking some notes from Savannah's southern sweetheart when it comes to real, down-home cookin'! 

In true Paula fashion, I rounded up one of my best girlfriends, Sumi, to help me create a fabulously seasonal meal that I think the Deen's (or anyone, really!) would love. We kicked off the night with some fun and festive cocktails (don't you just love the napkins?!) and appetizers. We paired a fruity and floral Riesling with a few whole wheat crackers topped with fig butter and herbed goat cheese. So simple, but dangerously delicious!

Please, excuse the "iPhoneography." ;)
It's no secret that I could spend hours innovating and reveling in the magic of a kitchen, but something about teaming up with good friends makes the process so much more fun. Sumi and I balance each other out perfectly in more ways than one, but especially when it comes to creating an amazing meal -- Sumi loves savory and I love sweet! From shopping for ingredients to sitting down to dig in, we had a ball designing this meal and I can't wait to share my recipes with you!

Are there any two more famously spectacular fall ingredients than apple and pumpkin? With it's slow roasted, richly spiced flavors, this meal features the dynamic duo in all its glory! The Roasted Pumpkin Spice Glazed Chicken packs perfect pumpkin sweetness with a punch of spice from the peppers and soy sauce. Paired with my Apple Sausage Corn Bread Spicy Stuffing (is there any better southern staple than corn bread?!), the two make a match made in autumn heaven. 

And, of course, the grand finale of this fall feast does not hold anything back! When one is crafting a dessert to earn Paula's seal of approval, it is no time to skimp on rich and decadent flavor. I think my Honey Apple Butter Pecan Crusted Cheesecake with Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce is sure to impress folks at your next dinner party, and I certainly hope Ms. Deen feels the same! Something about the words "honey," "butter," and "pecans" makes me think she might love it. :)

My favorite part of fall is the amazing inspiration for entertaining that it brings. Beautiful, burnt hues of fall foliage, vibrant, freshly-harvested apples and pumpkins, and spooky Halloween decor surround and bless us with unlimited ways to interpret such seasonal elegance in your own home. I'd love to join the Dean Team bloggers to share my own fun, affordable and creative adventures in making the most of life's simple (and delicious!) pleasures. After all, as the Deen's have so kindly taught us, there is nothing more special than the joy of good food, good friends and good family.

Roasted Pumpkin Spice Glazed Chicken


For Chicken:
1 5-pound roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh rosemary
1 large yellow onion, large chunks
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
5 to 7 small potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks
Olive oil

For Pumpkin Spice Glaze:
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets (discard or save for a future endeavor - like gravy!). Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the outside of the chicken. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt, pepper and rosemary. Tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken so the tips do not burn while roasting. 

Place the onions, carrots, and potatoes in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, rosemary, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top. Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Baste the chicken with butter and pan juices every half hour. 

Meanwhile, prepare the pumpkin spice glaze by combining the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, red pepper, maple syrup, salt, butter and chicken stock in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow to simmer and reduce. 

Remove the roast from the oven, baste with pumpkin spice glaze, and cover with aluminum foil. Let the juices in the roast rest for about 20 minutes before transferring the chicken and vegetables to a platter to carve and serve. Enjoy!

Apple Sausage Corn Bread Spicy Stuffing

2 cups cubed corn bread
1/2 pound ground spicy sausage
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the corn bread cubes in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes in the preheated oven, or until evenly toasted. Transfer toasted bread cubes to a large casserole dish.

In a large skillet, cook the sausage and onions over medium heat, stirring and breaking up the lumps until evenly browned. Add the celery, salt, pepper and rosemary; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes to blend flavors.

Pour sausage mixture over bread in casserole dish. Mix in chopped apples. Drizzle with chicken stock and melted butter, and mix lightly. 

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes to combine flavors. Enjoy!

Honey Apple Butter Pecan Crusted Cheesecake with Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce


For Pecan Crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup ground pecans
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold butter
8 to 9 tablespoons ice water

For Cheesecake:
3/4 cup honey apple butter
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup Fleur de Sel caramel sauce

For Apple Garnish:
1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced thin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, pecans, sugar, and salt. Mix well. Add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the water and let sit for 1 minute. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out on the floured surface into a circle about 9-10 inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick. Gently place the dough in a 9-inch springform pan. Aerate the dough with a fork before baking at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

In a large bowl, combine honey apple butter, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth then add eggs and mix well. Pour over crust.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes, or until center is set. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Remove the sides of the springform pan and set cheesecake on a serving platter. 

Heat caramel topping in a small saucepan for about 1 minute. Spread caramel sauce evenly over the cheesecake. 

Sautee apple slices in a small frying pan with brown sugar, cinnamon and sugar. Let cool and garnish the cheesecake by placing them around outside edge. Chill until ready to serve. Enjoy!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar

Oh dear. These donuts. If you love pumpkin as much as I do and have any weakness in the self-control department, don't make these. Don't say I didn't warn you!

In my continued adventures with my favorite Wilton doughnut pan (I'm telling you, it's SUCH a fun and worthwhile investment!), I decided to whip up a batch of these babies. But, of course, any fall donut is not complete without the signature cinnamon sugar topping, and so these babies are bathed in the deliciousness of exactly that as soon as you pop them out of the oven! I love that these donuts are baked instead of fried (less guilt, right?!) It gives them an amazingly soft and cakey texture that amps up the pumpkin spice flavors to places I never imagined possible (ok, maybe in my fall baking dreams...) These pumpkin treats are a perfect way to spice up breakfast (pumpkin spice, that is!) or really any time of day. Enjoy! :)

Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar Glaze
Recipe adapted from Taste and Tell 


For the Donuts:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup (or to taste) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (or to taste) cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare a donut pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside.
In another bowl, cream together the brown sugar, butter and pumpkin. Add in the eggs, mix well, then mix in the milk and vanilla. Stir in the reserved dry ingredients.
Place the mix in a large zip-top bag. Cut off the corner and pipe into the donut pan.
Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 10-11 minutes. 
Remove pan from oven, let rest for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the cinnamon sugar topping: In a small bowl, melt the butter. In a separate small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar. 
When the donuts are slightly cool, dip them in the butter, then the cinnamon sugar. 
These donuts are best enjoyed when warm. :)
Makes about 9 donuts. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Healthy Baked Stuffed Apples

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Apple season is most definitely upon us, and I don't know about you, but I can't get enough of the crisp, sweet fall flavor! I even picked up an amazing new "Sugared Apple" scented candle the other day so I could revel in the unmistakable, fresh-from-the-oven baked apple aroma even when I'm not whipping up a delicious apple treat. I'd highly recommend it!

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Speaking of pulling delicious apple treats from the oven though, let's talk about these baked stuffed apples. While I certainly am loving the seasonal apple craze, I haven't been loving all of the calories that come along with the sugars and butters most recipes require to make your next apple crisp, pie, etc. extra special! Apples are so flavorful and sweet on their own, so when I found this great guilt-free and amazingly simple recipe for Healthy Baked Stuffed Apples, I couldn't wait to try it! The recipe only calls for three (that's right, THREE!) ingredients that I guarantee are sitting in your pantry, plus a few freshly-picked, juicy apples! Throw this together and consider yourself in healthy AND delicious apple-heaven. These taste just like your favorite apple crisp, and don't even pack HALF the calories. Need I say more?!

Healthy Baked Stuffed Apples
Recipe by

1 apple (variety of your choice)
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp oats (steel cut oats, rolled oats, whatever you like)
Generous sprinkling of cinnamon
(Serves one)

Pre-heat oven to 350F.
Slice the apples in half. Scoop out the seeds to create a little “bowl” in each half.
Add 1 tbsp of oats to each apple half.
Add 1 tbsp of maple syrup to each apple half. (Amount for both oats & syrup may vary depending on the size of your apple).
Top with a very generous sprinkling of cinnamon.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, let cool a bit, and enjoy! :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Dutch Apple Pie

Warning: this Apple Pie will make you want to toss the recipe for Grandma's tried and true, mile-high crowd pleaser out the window! The crust of this Dutch-style Apple Pie is made with Cinnamon Rolls -- yes, Cinnamon Rolls. And, the crumb topping is drizzled with Cinnamon Roll icing. The Cinnamon Roll dough coupled with warm, baked apples and fall spices is truly a match made in autumn heaven. It was so much fun to make that I even forgot to take some of my own photos in the process!
Photo by Cooking With Sugar for Pillsbury
This delicious twist on a traditional fall favorite wowed my taste testers, and I'm sure it will be a new must-have at your next gathering! With limited ingredients and simple preparation, this dessert is a perfect way to jazz up good 'ole apple pie. Happy Baking!
Photo by Cooking With Sugar for Pillsbury
Cinnamon Roll Dutch Apple Pie
Recipe by Cooking with Sugar for Pillsbury


For the Crumb Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened

For the Crust:
1 can (12.4 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing

For the Filling:
6 medium Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons apple pie spice
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat oven to 375°F. In medium bowl, mix Crumb Topping ingredients with fork until large clumps form. Refrigerate. Spoon icing from can of rolls into small microwavable bowl; cover and refrigerate.
Lightly flour rolling pin and work surface or cutting board. Separate dough into 8 rolls. With rolling pin, roll each cinnamon roll, cinnamon side up, into 4 to 5 inch round.
In ungreased 9-inch glass pie plate, place 1 dough round in center. Arrange remaining 7 dough rounds around center round and up side of plate, overlapping slightly as necessary. With fingers, press dough to seal together in bottom and up side of pie plate to form crust. Flute edge.
In large bowl, gently mix Filling ingredients. Spoon filling into cinnamon roll-lined pie plate. Sprinkle crumb topping over top to completely cover filling.
Bake about 1 hour or until top is golden brown and apples are tender. Cool on cooling rack at least 1 hour.
Before serving, microwave icing on High 10 to 15 seconds or until runny enough to drizzle. Drizzle back and forth over top of pie.

Helpful Tips:
Cover the edges of the crust with 2-inch-wide strips of foil after the first 15 to 20 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning.
Whipped cream or ice cream makes the perfect topping for this pie.
Keep a close eye on the pie as it's baking -- mine was done in about half the time!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Baked Glazed Apple Cider Donuts

One of my favorite fall pastimes is apple picking, and though I haven't had a chance to get out to the orchards yet, I have been dying to start whipping up some of my favorite fall apple recipes! I was psyched to finally get my hands on some fresh picked Macintosh this weekend and knew that Apple Cider Donuts had to be up first. There's just something about the smell of warm, baked apples and fall spices that makes you feel at home, don't you think?!

This baked version of Apple Cider Donuts is a healthier adaptation to frying them, but certainly doesn't count out any flavor. The dough is dense like a muffin or scone, but also light and airy. The chunks of baked apple coupled with warm cinnamon and nutmeg create the perfect fall bite. Top these babies with a thin layer of apple cider glaze, and consider yourself in Apple Cider Donut heaven! Happy Baking!

Baked Apple Cider Donuts
Recipe adapted from Healthy. Delicious. 


For the donuts:
1/2 cup Apple Cider
2 tablespoons Butter, softened
1/4 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1/4 cup Milk
2 cups All Purpose Flour, plus additional for dusting
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Apple, cut into a 1/8-inch dice (about 1 cup)

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered Sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons Apple Cider
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Cinnamon and Sugar for dusting

Pour the apple cider into a small pan set over high heat. Bring to a boil and allow to reduce by half. Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, then mix in the reduced cider and milk.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir half of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Fold in the diced apple, then mix in the remaining flour.

Chill the dough for 15 minutes to help it firm up.

Heat oven to 425F. Remove the dough from the fridge and spoon into a greased Wilton donut pan (or cut into donut shapes on a floured surface using a donut cutter, cookie cutters, or a glass, then carefully transfer each donut to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat).

Bake at 425F for 10 minutes.

Allow donuts to cool for 3-5 minutes and dip the top half of each donut in the glaze.

Dust with cinnamon and sugar. Enjoy!

Makes about 7-9 delicious donuts.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

I absolutely love oatmeal for breakfast. Packed with all sorts of nutrition benefits, it's a perfectly delicious way to start the day. So, of course, when I came across this easy (one bowl!) and healthy recipe for Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal, it seemed like another fun way to kick off October and incorporate pumpkin this season. I couldn't wait to whip up a batch! Can you even imagine a more amazing fall breakfast treat?! 

I have to admit I prefer baked oatmeal to instant oatmeal, and this pumpkin recipe was no exception. The oatmeal is dense, the pumpkin keeps it moist and the array of spices punches up the fall fabulousness to a whole new level! The recipe doesn't call for any sugar, so to add a hint of sweetness, I sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on top of the oatmeal before popping it in the oven. You could also serve it with some pecans, diced apple, dried cranberries or brown sugar to kick up the sweet factor, if desired. No matter how you prefer your oatmeal, this recipe is a great way to enjoy fall flavors in a healthy and scrumptious way! Enjoy!

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal
Recipe by Real Mom Kitchen

½ cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
⅓ cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
⅔ cup milk (I used skim)
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp fresh ground nutmeg
½ tsp salt
2 cups old fashioned oats
1½ tsp baking powder
A few pinches of cinnamon sugar (optional)
½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 apple, diced (optional)
¼ cup dried cranberries (optional)
Brown sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray an 8 x 8 baking dish with non stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, egg, syrup, vanilla, milk, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, oats, baking powder, and pecans if desired.

Pour the oatmeal mixture into the dish and spread evenly. Add a few pinches of cinnamon sugar, if desired. 

Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until golden and let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Cut into 9 squares and if desired, top each serving with some diced apple, dried cranberries, and brown sugar.

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