Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pumpkin Pancakes

Happy Halloween! We started out our holiday with some festive pumpkin pancakes and boy does it smell like fall in here! These contain the perfect blend of spices and warm you up on a chilly morning. Serve them with hot maple syrup (pure is best) and a dallop of whipped cream (we made ours look like Jack-O-Lanterns) for a fantastic fall or festive breakfast!

Pumpkin Pancakes

2 cups flour
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling...we prefer Libby's) 
1 egg
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp vinegar

Mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Set aside. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/3 cup for each pancake. The batter is thick, so you may need to spread it out with the back of a spoon. Brown on both sides and serve hot with pure maple syrup. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Caramel Apple Pie

Nothing says fall than hot apple pie. But in truth I'm not all that keen on pie crust...So, a traditional double crusted apple pie is not my favorite...this pie however might be the most delicious combination of apple and pie ever to mingle. It has the WOW factor at first bite! 

Caramel Apple Pie

Crumb Topping:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter

Stir together brown sugar, flour and rolled oats. Cut in butter until topping is like course crumbs. Set aside.

1 pastry crust* (You can use any crust you like. My personal favorite recipe is listed below)
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
6 cups thinly sliced peeled apples (about 3 large apples)
1 recipe crumb topping
1/2 cup pecans (optional)
1/4 cup caramel topping** (Store bought caramel works fine but I've included the recipe we use.)

Preheat oven to 375. In a large mixing bowl, stir sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Toss apples until coated. Put in pie shell and sprinkle crumb topping on top (you might have to press it down a little). Put pie on foil lined cookie sheet. Cover edges of pie with foil. Bake 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle with pecans and caramel sauce while still hot. Cool on wire rack.

*Big-Batch Freezer Pie Crust

6 cups flour
2 tsp salt
2 1/3 cups vegetable shortening
1 1/3 cups cold water

In a large bowl, stir together flour and salt. With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in shortening until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add cold water all at once. Mix lightly with a fork until water is absorbed and mixture forms a ball. Divide dough into 6 equal portions; then shape each portion into a ball. Flatten each ball slightly, place in freezer Ziploc bags, making them airtight.

Each ball is enough to make one 9" pie crust.
To make crust for a pie WITHOUT top crust:

Partially thaw 1 ball of pie crust. Roll out dough to thin 11" circle. Place dough, without stretching, in a 9" pie dish. Flute edge.

If recipe calls for a baked pie crust, preheat oven to 425. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until very lightly browned. Cool; fill and bake as recipe directs. (HINT: if you place tin foil over shell and fill it with uncooked beans (for weight) and cook it for 8 minutes and then take beans and foil out and cook for 3-4 minutes until brown, you get a perfectly flat shell on the bottom, with no bubbles.)

To make crust for a pie WITH a top crust:

Use 2 balls of dough. Roll out 1 ball (as outlined above.) Fill pie. Roll out second ball; place top crust over filling. Seal and flute edge. Cut several slits or designs in top of crust to allow steam to escape.

-Can last well in freezer for 6 months.-

**Buttermilk Caramel Topping:
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup real butter (no substitutions)
2 Tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Combine buttermilk, sugar, butter, corn syrup and baking soda in a 4 quart pan. Bring mixture to a boil. and reduce heat to low. (Make sure it is still bubbling...) Cook, stirring very frequently for 7-9 minutes or until the syrup reaches a rich golden brown. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Poppy Seed Glazed Ham & Cheese Sandwiches

Need a little something substantial to take to a party? How about hosting a girls' lunch where you provide the main dish and your friends bring salads and sides? This sandwich is simple and always a big hit! 
photo courtesy

Ham & Cheese Poppyseed Sandwiches
Nicole Klika

24 dinner rolls (I use Hawaiin King b/c they are a little sweet)1 lb chopped ham

1 lb sliced Swiss cheese
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp mustard (I use dijon)
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
2 tsp onion flakes or powder ( optional...I use powder )

Preheat oven to 350.
Stuff buns with ham & cheese and then line closely in a 9x13 pan.
In a saucepan, mix remaining ingredients and bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
Pour sauce evenly over sandwiches.
Bake covered for 15 minutes and then uncovered for 5 minutes.

Hoot Owl Cookies

I love holidays and I love traditions with my kids. Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. There are so many opportunities to be together doing fun fall things orchards, pumpkin patches, nature walks...and of course, fall baking. These cookies have been made in Kandi's kitchen since I was a little girl. They are adorable and the kids start asking about them as soon as October hits. 

Hoot Owl Cookies

1 3/4 cup flour (If dough is a sticky, add a little more)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp water (optional...check the consistency. It should be dough, not crumbly...but also not too sticky)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/4 tsp soda
m&ms and cashews

Cream butter, sugar, egg and vanilla well. Melt chocolate in a separate bowl. Set aside to let cool. Add dry ingredients gradually to egg mixture. Beat well. Add water if needed. Put 2/3 dough on a flour board and mix in chocolate. Roll into a log (looks like a large tootsie roll...) Roll out white dough and fold around chocolate dough. Chill 1/2-1 hour in tinfoil. Slice. Press two slices together slightly to make the eyes. Pinch ears. Add m&ms and cashews. Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Baked Apple Dessert

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we are in love with picking our own apples lately. The orchards are fun and the apples are delicious! We are especially loving Zestar and Honeycrisp. But when I have fresh delicious apples in the house I have a problem. I CRAVE baked apple dessert. Its kind of apple crisp-ish except soft which in my opinion is SO MUCH BETTER. This is a childhood favorite. I love, love, love it. We may or may not have made it twice this week. And bonus, it makes a to die for breakfast. Leftovers are totally husband approved. 

Baked Apple Dessert

6 cups apples, peel and dice
Spread them in a 9X13 pan

Cover with: 
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
(Note: I always double the sugar mixture. I love it gooey.)

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes

Top with one of the following:
whipped cream (again, the REAL fake stuff. ;) ), vanilla ice cream or a little half & half

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Apple Pudding Cake

Fall is in the air! The weather is changing and we have been frequenting the local apple orchards. It is my favorite time of year in Minnesota and my favorite time to bake all things apple and pumpkin. This recipe is one that I have enjoyed for as long as I can remember. It is the perfect dessert to serve to dinner guests. It is unique and combines flavors that you might not consider putting together...until now!

Apple Pudding Cake

2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening

1 egg
Beat together.

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp soda
pinch salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
2 cups diced apples

Spread in a 9X9 pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour 
(Note: 9X13 pan for a double batch)

Lemon Sauce
Mix well:
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/8 tsp salt
Stir in: 1 cup hot water

Cook until thickens; turn to simmer for 15 minutes stirring often. Add 2 Tbsp butter, 1 tsp vanilla and the juice of one lemon.

Serve warm and top with whipped cream. (Note: It's a sin at our house to use anything but real whipping cool whip or whipped topping from a can! Use real whipping cream, whip it and sweeten with sugar and vanilla.) 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Grilled Balsamic Zucchini

Zucchini seems to be growing out of every garden in our neighborhood. We've been given oodles and are loving it! Our new favorite is this super easy, super delicious grilled version. 

Grilled Balsamic Zucchini
adapted from

1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
6 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch wedges
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1.Preheat grill on medium heat and lightly oil the grate. (We have found that cooking it on tinfoil works great!)
2. Whisk olive oil, sea salt, garlic, rosemary and black pepper together in a bowl; brush evenly onto zucchini wedges.
3. Cook on preheated grill until brown, 5-7 minutes per side; transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over zucchini to serve.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats

I personally love these because they remind me of a dear friend and the first time I tasted them she made them for me...But others love these because who wouldn't love peanut butter, chocolate and butterscotch?? They are a big hit wherever we go. And by the way, they are NO BAKE! How easy is that?

Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats
Mindy Livingstone

2 cups sugar
2 cups karo syrup

2 cups peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla

Mix with 11-12 cups Rice Krispies. Spread onto a large cookie sheet.

Top with: 
1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup butterscotch chips, melted together.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

Almost as simple as regular pancakes....these add something special to your morning. Easiest "cinnamon rolls" ever! Beautiful presentation and yum-o!

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

Cinnamon Filling:
1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon

Mix ingredients together. Place in a gallon size plastic baggie and snip the end off. (May also use a disposable piping bag.) Set aside.

4 cups flour
8 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
4 cups milk
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten

Mix dry ingredients separate from wet ingredients. Stir them together until moistened. (Will still be a little lumpy.) Heat griddle to 325 and grease. (Be exact on temperature. You don't want them to cook too quickly or the cinnamon will burn.)

Make desired size pancake on griddle and then using piping bag and starting at the center of the pancake, create a cinnamon swirl. Wait until the pancake has lots of bubbles before you turn it. When you turn it, the cinnamon swirl will melt out and create the craters which the cream cheese will fill.

1/2 cup butter, melted
4oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter and add to softened cream cheese. Mix well. Whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Add little bits of milk until glaze consistency. Drizzle over pancakes.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fresh Strawberry Cake

This is one of those delicious treats you keep thinking about after you've tasted it. It's amazingly yummy! I also love that it is made using fresh strawberries...that means it's healthy, right?? Right.
Fresh Strawberry Cake
Jennifer Mietus {adapted from Cake Doctor}


Shortening for greasing the pans
Flour for dusting the pans
1 pkg 18.25 oz plain white cake mix
1 3 oz strawberry gelatin
1 cup mashed fresh strawberries with juice (1 ½ cups whole berries)
1 cup vegetable oil
½ cup whole milk
4 large eggs
1 cup frozen unsweetened grated coconut, thawed (Truth be all my gourmet shopping at Walmart, I have never been able to find this...I have used the sweetened, dehydrated and its still yummy.)
½ cup chopped pecans

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
I cube butter, softened
3 ½ cups powdered sugar
¾ cup fresh ripe strawberries, rinsed, capped, and mashed to make ½ cup,
then drained well
½ cup frozen unsweetened grated coconut, thawed
½ cup chopped pecans

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Lightly grease three 9-inch round cake pans with shortening, then dust with flour.  Shake out the excess flour. Set the pans aside.
2. Place the cake mix, strawberry gelatin, mashed strawberries and juice, oil, milk, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute.  Stop the machine and scrape down the side
of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed.  The strawberries should be well blended in the batter.  Fold in the cocon
ut and
pecans.  Divide the batter among the prepared pans and place them in the oven;  if your oven is not large enough, place two pans on the center rack and place the third pain in the center of the highest rack.
3. Bake the cakes until they are light brown and just start to pull
away from the sides of the pan, 25-30 minutes.  Be careful not to overcook the layer on the highest oven rack.  Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the
edge of each layer and invert each onto a rack, then invert again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. Allow them to cool completely, 30 minutes more.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.  Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds.  Stop the machine and add the sugar and drained strawberries.
Blend the frosting on low until the sugar has been incorporated.  Then raise the speed to medium and mix the frosting another minutes or until the frosting lightens and is well combined.  Fold in the coconut and pecans.
5. To assemble, place one cake layer, right side up, on a serving platter.  Spread the top with frosting.  Add another cake layer, right side up, and frost the top.  Repeat this process with the third layer and frost
the top.  Use the remaining frosting to frost the sides, working with clean smooth strokes.  Serve at once or chill the cake for later serving.**

**Place cake uncovered in refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes, then cover the cake with waxed paper and store in refrigerator for up to one week.