Kickin' Buffalo Chicken Dip

Another potluck, another recipe! This one is geared toward the men in my life, who just cannot seem to get enough of buffalo flavored anything! I swear, if you added buffalo sauce to even cupcakes, men would love it!

This buffalo chicken dip comes from my friend Eric, and boy is it delicious. I mean, I know all of the not so good for you ingredients that go into it, and I swear, it does not deter me from not delving into the creamy goodness. My justification is that I eat it on celery and carrots instead of tortilla chips. Whatever works!

So, I won't lie, this one does take a little bit of time, but it is totally worth it. Really though, most of it is hands off until the very end, when you add in all of the good stuff, you know, bleu cheese dressing and cream cheese. Yum! The recipe is perfect for a potluck, a picnic, and football games, and travels well in a mini crock pot. This recipe here is a real winner!

Buffalo Bleu Cheese Chicken Dip
adapted from Eric's recipe

4-5 boneless chicken breasts
2-3 bottles of beer
½ stick of butter
2, 8oz pkgs cream cheese ( I used 1 cream cheese package and 1 Neufchatel cheese)
1 cup franks wing sauce (or just a whole cup of one or the other)
1 cup of blue cheese dressing
3 handfuls of cheese-Used Cabot Cheddar- my absolute favorite!

Place chicken and 1 bottle of beer in sauce pan on stove
Simmer with a lid over medium-low heat for 2-2.5 hrs. Add more beer over this time as liquid is absorbed or evaporates- I used 2 beers. Between 2 – 2.5 hours, take the lid off and start breaking the chicken up with a fork. Pull the chicken until it reaches a “shredded” consistency. There should still be some beer left in the pan as you are doing this. By the end of shredding, all the beer will probably have absorbed into the shredded chicken. If not, cook until liquid is evaporated.

Add Butter and let melt
Add wing sauce and bring back up to a simmer
Add cream cheese one at a time and stir until it is melted
Add blue cheese/ranch dressing
Add cheese and stir until melted

Transfer to a mini crock pot to keep warm for serving


Candy Cane Cupcakes

Tis the season for potlucks, and potlucks, and a few other potlucks. I have tried so hard to be creative about what to bring, but crock pot recipes are boring and typically full of meat, and quite frankly, I have no other kitchen gear that would help keep food warm on even the smallest trek to a home.

In the past two weeks I have had two potlucks. For the first one, I made a tomato, mushroom, and mozzarella quiche. Totally easy, versatile, and I was able to use my new Le Creuset 12 inch cast iron pan. The pan is amazing, as was the quiche. Le Creuset, as I have said here before, is hands down my favorite kitchen cooking brand. The products are amazing.

Today though, I am here to tell you about Candy Cane Cupcakes. Who has time for cupcakes when there are so many cookies to bake, you might ask. I promise though, you should make the time for these babies. Easy to make chocolate and vanilla cake, with a lovely peppermint butter cream frosting. Simple, not overly minty, and delicious.

The cake portion of the cupcake recipes come from my favorite baking book, "Organic and Chic." I posted about it here before. The vanilla cake is simply to die for. The frosting came from Peanut Butter and Julie's Blog. Together, the two foods move mountains, and help to clear out nostrils in this cold New England weather.

So instead of making your 12th batch of cookies tonight, reach for this recipe. You won't be let down.


C is for Cookie

I love baking cookies. They are my most favorite dessert, and I get really excited for cookie making at the holidays. I personally love to give the gift of sweet treats to friends, as they are nostalgic, delicious, and most importantly, easy to ship!

Every Christmas season, my mom, sister and I used to pick a day and bake all day long. There were rarely any new recipes to add to our standards, but I never cared, because the ones we made were always my favorites- Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Blossom, Sugar, Pizzelles, Sour Cream cookies (Dad's cookies!). When I moved out of my parents, I also started the tradition.

This year my baking day fell a little early in December, but thankfully, cookies are easy to freeze. I made chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter blossoms, bourbon balls, sugar cookies, lemon poppyseed biscotti, irish coffee cookies, and this recipe. I look forward to this day all year long, especially this year, because Jack bought me Gourmet's Cookie book. Talk about some very different cookies, the book is totally jam packed with them. I love following the trends of all of the years, and it is interesting to see how cooks improvised during war years when many ingredients were rationed. Jack had the opportunity to choose a few for me to bake, and I am going to share one with you.

Before I indulge you with a chocolaty mint cookie bar, I do want to say this, and hopefully you are reading Mom, there were several times throughout the day where I really said, "I miss you mom," as I was slaving over the stove by myself, as opposed to the three of us. So maybe next year, I will make it home!

Now on to the cookie! This was the 2006 cookie of the year for Gourmet. The book details cookies from 1941, until the magazine's downfall in 2009. So, the Chocolate Peppermint Bar Cookies are definitely one of the newest recipes, and certainly my easiest undergoing of the day. The cookies were easy to whip up, required 2 bowls and a baking dish, and took only 20 minutes to bake. Much simpler than cookie sheet after cookie sheet being put in the oven every 10 minutes. The result was a chewy, chocolaty, minty brownie textured cookie bar. Immediately, Jack's reaction was this: "this one is a keeper!" There are very few recipes he says that for, but this one is definitely worth it!

For copyright purposes, I will not print the recipe here, but the easiest way to replicate the recipe without getting the book is to create a basic chocolate cookie bar recipe and add 1/2 c of semi sweet chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup peppermint candy pieces (or crushed candy canes)

Should you need help though or would like any of the other recipes, please let me know!


Guts and Glory

Last night I picked up the second share from our CSF, Community Supported Fishery. Jack and I decided to join the Cape Ann Fresh Catch CSF earlier this fall, and the shares just recently started. The fish are caught in the North Atlantic, and delivered to various sites in the Boston area the same day, giving customers the freshest fish available.

For economic purposes, we decided to purchase whole fish rather than filleted. I was under the impression that filleting a fish and deboning it would be tough work, but not gross. See, less than a year ago I could not even touch meat, and now I am preparing all types of meat dishes. Last night, when I picked up the fish, I discovered what a "treat" I was about to face.

My first sight of the bag of fresh fish was a tail hanging out of the bag. Immediately, I gagged. Then I peered into the bag and saw two headless fish, a little blood, and a lot of slime and bones. I honestly did not think I could even pull the fish out of the bag without running away. Alas, a meowing crazy cat was trying to jump on the counter, and caused me to do some quick work to keep the food away from Oscar the cat.

Descaling a fish is tough work. You need sharp knives, and I thought I had those, but I don't think mine were sharp enough. You also need a lot of courage, and a working knowledge of fish anatomy, which I believed I had learned from various YouTube videos of fish gutting. I learned through the 30 minute process that fish have bladders, there is a lot of slime, that skin is not so easy to pull off, and that when finished, you reek of fish (and your cat lovessss you!).

When all was sad and done though, I felt pretty proud of myself for tackling this task. However, I will admit, I left the bones for Jack to do when he can. I can safely say that I have overcome yet another fear of meat!


Brussel Sprouts au Great!

I know what you are going to say, brussel sprouts. EWWWWW!! I mean, I said that my whole life too. My mom, while typically a good cook, once tried to make the family eat brussel sprouts. When she cooked them, the end result was less than desired. They were burnt to a crisp, but we still had to eat them. I swore off the little cabbage looking veggie for years, until last week.

I was inspired by a lovely looking recipe from "Eating from the Ground Up" and the ever appearing brussel sprouts sales at my local Whole Foods. I decided to come out of my hiatus of eating them. Jack was not so happy with this choice. He hates brussel sprouts. Though before moving to Mass he also hated strawberries, peaches, apricots, and raspberries. I was determined to make him change his mind.

Thankfully, Brussel Sprouts au Gratin did the trick. This creamy concoction was easy, quick, and delicious. It definitely warrented seconds on my plate. I most certainly learned that adding cheese and cream to any semi bitter veggie really makes one want to eat lots of it!

Brussel Sprouts au Gratin
Adapted from "Eating from the Ground Up," which was adapted from Alice Waters

1 pound brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed and stems trimmed
1/3 cup breadcrumbs- I used a combination of Panko and Italian Crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan- I used Asiago
1/2 cup half and half- I used half heavy cream and half skim milk
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook the brussels sprouts in the water for 10 minutes, then drain. Chop them roughly, and transfer to a small casserole or gratin dish. Pour the cream over the brussels sprouts, then the parmesan, then the breadcrumbs, and then a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Dab the dish with pieces of butter, and bake for 20 minutes


Awesome Apple Pie

With the holidays approaching, I wanted to try to make a rendition of my Nana's Apple Pie. Her pie is certainly a family favorite, though is sometimes overshadowed by more chocolaty desserts. The crust is delectably light and flaky, and often rises up fairly high. She puts a sprinkle of sugar on the top of the crust to really enhance the sweetness and make it quite delicious and tasty.

While I did not have an exact recipe to follow as she does not use one, I did use a 1953 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that I found at the Salvation Army for $2! The cookbook is awesome and has all sorts of foods that I grew up with and came to love. You will not find many of the recipes in the more modern cookbooks, so this one will certainly be used whenever I crave comfort food.

Back to the pie. Let me preface with this- Jack will not eat foods that are not tooth achingly sweet, so in order for him to really love this pie, I had to come up with some sort of concoction involving loads of sugar. That said, I added a little more sugar to the apple filling than called for, and then put together a cinnamon whipped cream. That put the icing on the er, pie!

I have to admit that I struggled a pit with the crust as I do not think I added enough water, but all in all, it was delicious! I will definitely be making it again, or some sort of variation of it- maybe caramel apple!

Pie Pastry- for a double crusted pie
2 cups enriched flour (APF)
1 tsp salt
2/3 c. shortening, chilled
6-7 tbsp water

Sift together flour and salt. Cut the shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles course meal. Sprinkle water, a tablespoon at a time over mixture, and mix together with a fork. Divide the dough in half. Form a ball and flatten slightly. Roll onto a well floured surface. Place this half into pie pan and pre bake in preheated oven (450) for 12 minutes. Roll out the second pie crust when ready to put on top of filled pie.

Apple Pie Filling
5-7 tart apples- I used 3 different varieties- Granny Smith, Jonagold, and Macintosh
3/4-1 cup of sugar
2 tbsp APF
Dash of Salt
1 tsp of cinnamon- I put in an additional 1/2 tsp
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp butter

Pare apples and slice thin. Mix sugar, flour, salt, spices and add to apples. Fill the pre-baked pie crust with filling and dot with butter. Put on the top crust and back in 400 degree oven for 50 minutes. Check occasionally to see if crust is burning. If it starts to brown too quickly, place a sheet of tin foil on top.


Pumpkin Black Bean Curry Soup

My last post was about how to make your own pumpkin puree. This post is about a savory treat in which to use it. I may have mentioned before that Jack and I always make a soup on a Sunday to be used for lunches during the week. It is the easiest way for us to have something quick to grab to take for lunch at work, or also is a good standby on a night where we need a quick meal.

I love reminiscing how our soups have varied week to week by what fruits and vegetables are in season. We've done some kale soups, bean soups, tomato soups, eggplant soups, butternut squash soups, and most recently, a Pumpkin Black Bean Curry Soup. I was really searching for a while for the perfect soup to make that would incorporate these ingredients, but not any heavy creams or milks. I find that there are other ways to make soups hearty and delicious, while still being able to lay off the fatty creams. Now, don't get me wrong, I love a good creamy soup, but for a soup that will be eaten at least three times in a week, heavy cream is not the way to go.

Finally I found a recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen, that I heavily adapted based on what I had on hand, and what I wanted the end result soup to be. I have found that the ability to play around with the ingredients of a soup recipe, is what makes them so very versatile, and easy to manipulate to your current cravings. This one, this lovely little pumpkin-y, curry tasting, fiber filled soup, is most certainly a winner. Easy to make and easy to love!

Pumpkin Black Bean Curry Soup
Adapted heavily from Smitten Kitchen

Three 15 1/2 ounce cans black beans (about 4 1/2 cups), rinsed and drained
1 cup drained canned tomatoes, chopped
1 1/4 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup minced shallot- I used green onions
4 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground cumin- I omitted cumin, and used Curry Powder instead
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
4 cups beef broth- I used chicken broth
a 16-ounce can pumpkin puree (about 1 1/2 cups)- Put my own homemade puree to use :)
1/2 cup dry Sherry
1/2 pound cooked ham, cut into 1/8-inch dice- omitted the ham
3 to 4 tablespoons Sherry vinegar- omitted the vinegar as the soup would only be reheated, and not served at once

Garnish: sour cream and coarsely chopped lightly toasted pumpkin seeds

In a food processor coarsely puree beans and tomatoes.

In a 6-quart heavy kettle cook onion, shallot, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until onion is softened and beginning to brown. Stir in bean puree. Stir in broth, pumpkin, and Sherry until combined and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.


How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Last year when I carved my Halloween pumpkin, it dawned on me that I might be able to make my own pumpkin puree from it. I mean, everyone knows that you can roast the seeds, but make pumpkin puree? Genius! I googled recipes on how to do it, and then realized that puree comes from specific types of pumpkins.

This year, I didn't want to miss out on the fun, so I stocked up on Pie Pumpkins and Sugar Pumpkins. At such low prices at farm stands, I could not justify not making my own puree. The recipe is super easy to follow and do, and involves only a pumpkin, a little cooking spray, and olive oil if you are only roasting the pumpkin instead of pureeing it.

The great thing about making your own puree is that the recipe yields 2 separate results. The first is a roasted pumpkin, which you can use in so many different recipes, especially risottos and curry dishes. If you want the puree though, you take the roasted pumpkin, peel the flesh from the rind, and mash it up nice and good. If you prefer, you can even put it through a food processor, which I find to be unnecessary, as long as the pumpkin becomes soft.

I love roasting and pureeing my own pumpkins mostly because I can freeze the results in specific measurements to use in recipes later, but also because I love pumpkin seeds! This year, along with making homemade puree, I also experimented with various pumpkin seed recipes that I made up in my little ol' head. I have to admit that my favorite is still a seed with a sprinkle of salt, but Jack loved my recipe involving pumpkin seeds with lots of cinnamon and sugar. Try it out sometime!

So, I learned my lesson from the year before, and will definitely continue to make homemade puree in the future! Simple and delicious.

Homemade Puree

1 pie or sugar pumpkin
cooking spray
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, and cut pumpkin in half. Clean pumpkin of seeds and stringy middle. Reserve the seeds for roasting. Lay the pumpkin skin side up. Put olive oil on flesh if so desired, though I find that it isn't always necessary. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-55 minutes, until skin easily pulls from flesh.

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

Seeds from Pumpkin, cleaned and washed
3 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 cup of sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry seeds. Spread seeds on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Combine the cinnamon and sugar together. Sprinkle on seeds evenly, and bake in a preheated oven for 15-25 minutes, until seeds are no longer wet. The sugar will caramelize on top of the seeds, and create a deliciously sweet treat for all to enjoy!


Savory Sweet Apple Cheddar Biscuits

Jack and I went apple picking 2 weekends ago, and picked about 30 pounds of apples. And you know what, not one bit of pie was made! I hate admitting that, because well, that was the whole reason we went picking in the first place! Instead, we made caramel apples, which turned out terribly, ate apples as snacks, made homemade apple butter, and made Apple Cheddar Biscuits, using my all time favorite, Cabot Hunter's Sharp Cheddar Cheese.

Apple Cheddar scones have been popping up on a few blogs that I follow, but personally, I hate the stickiness of scone dough, and would rather not break out my rolling pin if ever possible. Therefore, I set out to make drop biscuits. The recipe I found here, was a terrific idea, but in actuality, I had to make a couple changes based on the outcome of the dough. Overall though, I enjoyed these biscuits a lot because of the sweet and savoriness. I love the tang from the onions, and the faint sweet taste of the apples. The cheese was not overwhelming at all, even though I added an extra quarter cup. I suggest you do the same if you are a cheese lover! These are a perfect fall treat, and great accompaniment to salads and fall soups!

Apple Cheddar Biscuits
adapted from "What's Cooking TV?"

1 cups flour- I added at least 1/2cup more after my first batch
4 tsp. Magic Baking Powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cold butter
1 cups shredded P'tit Québec Cheddar Cheese- I used Hunter's Sharp Cabot, and added an additional 1/4c
1 cups grated peeled apples (about 1 large)- Use a baking apple as you do not want sweet flavored apples overtaking the savory flavors
2 green onions, chopped
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cheese, apples and onions. Add milk; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not overmix.)
Drop 1/4 cupfuls of dough onto greased or parchment paper-covered baking sheet
Bake 15 min. or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks; cool slightly. Serve warm.

I learned quite a bit from using this recipe. After I had put together all of the ingredients according to instructions, I thought that the batter looked much too runny, but I trusted that it was okay. My first batch of biscuits turned out to be more like pancakes. I added the additional flour after this point, and the remaining biscuits baked up splendidly.


Ravishing (Daikon) Radish

The farmer's markets are full of lovely winter root veggies, including turnips, squash, carrots, and radishes of all varieties. One specific farmer brings a plethora of radish varieties to the shoppers, and I love picking up a new variety every week. As this was our last week with our CSA, we had to turn the the farmer's market to be our sole source of produce until it is over next week. We had been frequenting the market for supplemental veggies for our share, but now we really rely on it.

Last week I was able to pick up two different types of radishes- a lovely black radish which is super spicy, and daikon radish- a white variety that looks very similar to a parsnip or white carrot. Daikon radishes are terrific raw, served with hummus or salsa, but when cooking with them, they are typically showcased in Asian dishes. While I do love some Asian foods, I wanted to use the daikon in a less rice vinegary, sesame oil using way. I turned to this recipe, which was pretty simplistic, but very tasty. The end result seemed less like radishes and more like breakfast potatoes. Regardless, it's a good way to take a regular old radish, and make it ravishing!

Spicy Daikon Radish
2 tbsp veggie oil (I used olive oil)
1 green chili chopped- take out seeds and white membrane-y part
1 lb daikon radish peeled and shredded
Sugar and Salt to taste

1. Place oil in pan over high heat. When oil is hot, add the chili for 1 minute and stir continuously
2. Add radish and stir for 2-3 minutes, then cover. Turn the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, while stirring occasionally
3. Add salt and sugar to taste (less than 1 tsp each)
4. Turn the heat back to medium high, while still stirring occasionally. This will take roughly 10 more minutes. Cook the daikon until it is dry. The daikon will turn golden brown.


Lovely Leeks

Leeks are a new vegetable that have been in my recent recipe repitoire. I never had leeks before this year, and I certainly fell in love with them. I totally understand why they are so expensive at a grocery store, but for now, I am super excited that they are in season and pretty cheap at farmers markets. We have even been so fortunate as to have these treats in our CSA for the past few weeks.

I have made quite a few recipes involving them- potato leek soup, potato, pear, and leek soup, and some form of a ratouille. I really wanted to find something that showcased leeks though as I had quite a few on hand, and needed to use them before they went bad. I googled leeks, and found a recipe for a leek quiche, which sounded perfect! Jack was so kind as to make the quiche crust, while I prepared the filling, and then later rolled the crust. I adapted this recipe quite a bit, and will indicate where I made changes. Overall though, this recipe was a real winner as it was tasty, and easy to put together for a weeknight dinner. I would imagine that you could substitute any veggie for the leeks, but try it with leeks first as they are terrific!

Leek Quiche

2 tbsp. butter
4 leeks, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. light cream- I used heavy cream because that's what I had on hand.
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. minced parsley
24 mini pie crusts (store bought)- I, well Jack, made homemade quiche crust. We made 1-9 inch crust and baked for same amount of time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In heavy saute pan, melt butter and add chopped leeks. Saute 5 minutes stirring constantly, do not let brown.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and pour into pastry shells.
Beat eggs, mustard, cream and chopped parsley. Pour over leeks and sprinkle cheese on top.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until the tops are golden.


Homemade Fra Diavolo, Anniversary Cake, and the Winner!

This past week has been quite crazy! Moving, unpacking, adjusting to a longer commute, finally getting cable and Internet, and adjusting to a newer, bigger and better kitchen! Normally, it would not be such a hard adjustment, but I really don't know what to do with the extra space, anddd the extra sensitive fire alarm, which went off twice last night in two separate locations within the house.

Anyway, I digress. Last night I decided to try to use up some of our last tomatoes from the garden, before using our million other vegetables in the refrigerator. I wanted to make one of Jack's favorite Italian dishes, Shrimp Fra Diavolo. I tweaked with the recipe a little bit based on my ingredients on hand, my desire to economize my frozen shrimp stock, and, as usual, time. Last night I also wanted to finally make an anniversary cake for Jack and I, so I needed to make sure that I had the time to make both dinner and dessert

So the shrimp fra diavolo was really tasty, but I was little surprised by the way it looked. It did not turn out like a typical restaurant style pasta dish, rather, because I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned, it had a more homemade look to it. Regardless, it tasted very good, and will definitely be made again.

But here's the real reason for the post. I need to announce the winner of the $35 gift card from CSN. While I would love to put a picture of the Random.org number generator result, I am not totally sure as to how to do a print screen on my mac. Therefore, you'll have to trust me in saying that comment number 2 has won! I will send along contact information for the gift card. Congratulations!

Here is the recipe for the fra diavolo, enjoy with summer's last tomatoes!

Shrimp Fra Diavolo
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined- I used 1/2lb
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional as needed
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes- I used a little more as Jack likes his fra diavolo spicy
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons
1 medium onion, sliced
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes- I used about 2lbs of fresh heirloom tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
3 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes. Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and saute for about a minute, toss, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a large plate; set aside. Add the onion to the same skillet, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, if necessary, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, wine, garlic, and oregano. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the tomato mixture; toss to coat, and cook for about a minute so the flavors meld together. Stir in the parsley and basil. Season with more salt, to taste, and serve.


Yay Yay Give-A-Way!

So my blog has been a little less than loved this past week as Jack and I finally moved to a new place in Boston, and have been veryyyy occupied with packing, lifting, moving, unpacking, and trying to find a new home for all of our things. Moving is tough, especially when your company isn't doing it for you, but with the help of my parents, we got through the tough parts. Thanks Mom and Dad! During this crazy time, I was contacted by CSN to offer a giveaway to all of my readers! So exciting, especially for me when I realized they offer everything from a single ol' Bar Stool to Dutch Ovens, to pans, to well, everything else in the world! They have so many lovely websites with anything a girl (or boy!) could possibly want, which is especially handy when having just moved and broken a few glasses along the way...

So while you are waiting for me to post about all of the new recipes I christened my new apartment with (Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies thanks to Joy the Baker) or all of the last minute recipes I made at the old place (Cranberry muffins that may as well have been hockey pucks!), entertain yourself with a great giveaway- a $35 gift card to any CSN website!

Here's how to win!
1. Become a follower on my blog
2. Leave me a comment letting me know you stopped by
3. Check out CSN and all of their stores to see what fun things they have to offer
4. Post about this giveaway in your blog and tell your friends!

I will randomly pick a winner on Saturday, when I finally have my Internet installed. Good Luck!


Falling for Pumpkin

Fall is here! Fall is here! The wind and leaves are rustling outside, and autumn festivals are upon us. The changing of the season is most certainly underway, as are the recipes I have been adding to my to do list. Butternut Squash, pumpkins, apples, and fall leafy greens are dominating my current recipe repertoire.

I was really planning on not baking anything this week as Jack and I are moving apartments, and I needed to use time for packing, rather than baking, butttt the lure of pumpkin and chocolate called my name, and I succumbed to the desire to bake.

My go-to pumpkin recipe is typically pumpkin cookies with brown butter frosting, but I really wanted cake and chocolate, so I found a great, 2 bowl recipe for Pumpkin Cake (easily made into pumpkin chocolate chocolate cake). It was so easy to put together, and only took 25 minutes to bake. To make a sweet cake even sweeter, I added cinnamon sugar topping to it, and the cinnamon really enhanced the flavor of the pumpkin. If you have some canned, or real, pumpkin around, be sure to give this recipe a chance!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake
adapted from "The Bake-Off Flunkie"

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup wheat flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/4 cup milk (I use 1%)
1/4 cup applesauce (I use no-sugar added)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla (I used 1.5 teaspoons)

I also added in a few shakes of pumpkin pie spice to the batter for extra pumpkin flavor.

Heat your oven to 350, and spray the sides and bottom of a 13x9-inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, and mix to combine. In a separate medium bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients and whisk well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a rubber spatula until well combined.Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan and spread it evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting into squares or bars.

Cinnamon Sugar Topping
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/3 c sugar
1 tbsp of butter

Combine cinnamon and sugar and stir until incorporated. Melt butter and pour over cake, immediately followed by cinnamon sugar mixture.