Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Best Pumpkin Bars........

It is scary to think it has almost been 11 months since my last post.  I have missed my blog and sharing all my favorite recipes with you all.  When I last wrote I was seven months pregnant and was not feeling great and ready to be done with this whole pregnancy thing.   Now 11 months later, I am the momma of a 9 month old perfect little boy.  Crazy what can happen in 11 months.  While pregnant I lost all taste and desire for anything sweet and plus had a rough pregnancy so baking was not my thing for those 9 months.  But once I had Jack, my sweet tooth was back and stronger than ever.  It was like my body was making up for the last 9 months it missed out on.   And of course, as I have said thousands of times, I love fall and all things pumpkin.  I had to get on here and share the most amazing, simple and perfectly pumpkin-ee recipe ever.  I have made this several times since I saw it on a blog I enjoy reading called "i heart nap time" and it never disappoints.  It is easy to make, is moist and a perfect mix of fall spices, pumpkin and creamy cream cheese frosting.

The Best Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Bars
4 eggs
1 2/3 cup sugar 
1 cup vegetable oil
1 16 oz can pumpkin
2 cups flour sifted
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Cream Cheese Frosting
(I like to double the frosting)
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
2cups powdered sugar

Start off by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 15x10 inch pan or I used my jelly roll pan which worked great too. Set aside.

In a large bowl (preferably a Kitchen Aid mixing bowl) beat eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until fluffy.  Then in a medium sized bowl stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, soda, and spices. Once done with the dry ingredients, slowly add the dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture. Mix until fully combined but be careful not to over mix.  Once complete, spread batter into the greased pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. My bars took just under 20 minutes to bake, so keep a close eye on them.  Once fully baked, take out and place on a cooling rack.

While bars are cooling, get started on the cream cheese frosting.  I like to double the cream cheese frosting to give it a richer taste.  So to begin, using your mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter and vanilla.  Mix until light and fluffy.  Then gradually add powdered sugar. Beat the frosting until smooth and creamy.  Once bars have completely cooled frost the pumpkin bars and voila, you have a delicious and yet easy make dessert that will make your guests think you have been in the kitchen for hours baking!!!

Happy Fall Baking!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ocean Spray's Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies...........

I know that my posts have been few and far in between but I have a legit reason for being so sporadic with my posting.  I am 7 months pregnant with our first child who we affectionately call baby boy Forester.  And with being pregnant, I have proven to be my mother's daughter and have had nausea my entire pregnancy and while being pregnant the universe has played a cruel joke on me.  Usually, I love to eat anything sweet and baked and would take dessert over dinner, well not since being pregnant.   Sugar makes me ill and the mere thought of it turns me off....I have often told my husband that I feel like my taste buds have betrayed me.  So hence the reason you have not seen me bake posting as much about my baking adventures.

With that said I am determined to not let my crazy taste buds get in the way of this Christmas season and doing all the baking I so love.   And this recipe happens to be one of my favorite festive cookies.  I love the combination of brown sugar, oat meal, white chocolate and tart craisins.  And it is one of those recipes where everyone has had them at some point but is not sure where to get the recipe.  These have a light creamy taste with a twist of tart from the dried cranberries, soooo very good.

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 5-ounce package Ocean Spray Craisins Original Dried Cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

Start off by preheating oven to 375ºF.   Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  Next add eggs one at a time, mixing well.   In a separate mixing bowl combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt.  Then add dry ingredients to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition, but being sure to not over mix.  Lastly, stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks. 

Using the line cookie sheet, drop the cookie dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet.  Place cookie sheet in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown (my cookies took only 9 mins to bake, but it completely depends on your oven). Once done baking, remove from oven and cool on wire rack.  This recipes make about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

This is the perfect cookie recipe for a cookie platter or an easy cookie to whip up on short notice.  It seriously such a tasty and easy cookie to make, plus the dried cranberries add a festive twist to this yummy cookie.  So get in the kitchen and start baking, you will not be disappointed.

Happy Christmas Baking!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Caramel Apple Tarts...........................

I feel like I am a broken record when it comes to me saying how much I love fall but I just can't help it, it is one of my most favorite seasons.  And this past Saturday just so happened to be the first day of fall, so Thad and I went to the cutest little store down the road from us that sells baked goods, Amish jams and jellies, local fruits, veggies, grows mums and sells pumpkins and honestly it is like a fall wonderland and all it did was get me excited for fall.   We then returned home and I made Thad crawl into the attic and get out the Halloween decor.

But the first day of fall was not going to be complete without making an awesome fall recipe and I did not have to look far for inspiration.  I love getting my fall magazines, full of amazing fall pictures and fall recipes.  I got my Southern Living last month and it was jammed packed with recipes all featuring apples and what could be more fall than apples.

There were so many recipes to choose from but I decided to settle in on the Caramel Apple Ice-cream Tarts.  I used that recipe as inspiration and tweaked it according to my liking. I chose this recipe because there were cute little individual tarts topped off with sauteed apples, ice-cream , toasted pecans and homemade caramel.  Now if that does not sound good then  "you need to get on out of here" (a Thad phrase).  I made them and then presented a decked out plate to the master taster.....Thad and he loved it.  He even put this dessert in his top 5 which is big if you know Thad Forester.  This is the perfect fall dessert for a dinner party or just a chilly evening at home.  The smells that will fill your kitchen will give you fall fever and this recipe itself will get your taste buds ready for fall........

Caramel Apple Tarts
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup butter, cubed
2/3 cup powdered sugar 
1/3 cup cornstarch 
4 tablespoons butter 
4 cups peeled and diced Gala apples (4-5 apples)
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
Vanilla ice cream  
1/2 cup roasted pecans 

Start off by preheating oven to 350 degrees. Pulse first 4 ingredients in a food processor 10 to 12 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. Then spray the individual tart pans and then using the mixture, firmly press on bottom and up sides of 8 (3 3/4-inch) or 4 (6 inch) round tart pans with removable bottoms. Place in oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. While tarts are Baking, begin on the caramel sauce since it needs time to cool slightly (see recipe below).

Once tarts are browned, remove from oven and cool on a wire rack just until you are able to handle the tart pans.  Once cooled slightly, I turn each tart over and tap the bottom until the tart pan sounds hallow to make sure the tart comes out in pretty form.

Then melt 4 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add apples and brown sugar. I also added 2 tablespoons of cinnamon.  Once all ingredients are all combined, make sure to stir constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until the apples are tender and caramelized.

Caramel Sauce
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup whipping cream 
1/4 cup honey

Bring brown sugar, butter, whipping cream, and honey to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; boil, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool 15 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week. To reheat, microwave at HIGH 10 to 15 seconds or just until warm; stir until smooth.

To assemble, take the tart shell, fill with sauteed apples, then place three hardy scoops of ice cream on top, then add the caramel sauce and top it all off with some roasted pecans.  This recipe will send your taste buds reeling, just the apples, with the creamy ice cream and homemade caramel topped with roasted pecan.....you can't go wrong.  Such a perfect fall dessert that will wow any guest!  Definitely a keeper!

 Happy Fall!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

This is how we Roll Tide Roll........

To start each season off right we must place our scripted "A" on the door for good luck!
I love fall and this morning I woke up to a briskness in the air and although there is still some warm weather to come, it got me all excited for fall. I love all the cliche things about fall, changing leaves, apple cider and pumpkins, but also what fall symbolizes is College Football. I never really cared for football until I moved to the South and married a die hard Alabama fan and pretty much my life changed from there. I came to love game days on the quad in Tuscaloosa. And over time I grew to love game days on the quad more than Thad. I fell in love with the feel, the festivities and the smell of BBQ in the air.

Thad and I figured out the other day that this is our 5th football season we have spent together and in that time we have started some game day traditions that are pretty important to us. We both love tradition, good food and the Tide, so that basically makes a perfect combo for a perfect game day.

We recently moved from Tuscaloosa (Home of the Tide) to Trussville, a suburb of Birmingham. Since we no longer are in the center of all the action, we need to work a little harder to create a great game day atmosphere in our home. Usually mid-week we start talking about what we are going to make for game day and when I say "we", I mean Thad puts in his request and I make it. So we plan out our menu and enjoy the sounds of football playing on the TV and the smell of good food cooking in the air. I thought we would share with you a typical game day at the Foresters and show you how we Roll Tide Roll.........

So to start off with we had pigs in a blanket and they were the perfect appetizer for a football game
After the appetizer of pigs in a blanket we had some yummy homemade chili which I had cooked in the a crock-pot and the let all flavors marinate for several hours
Then Thad requested I make one of his favorite chocolate chip cookies.........New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

After our three course game day meal we sat on the couch and watched the Tide beat Arkansas in a 52-0 shutout. We definitely felt the Alabama spirit in our home on Saturday and hope to each game day, from here on out. Now we have to get to work on this Saturday's game day menu. Stay tuned................

Roll Tide!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Southern Living's Best Coconut Cream Pie.........

I know, I know, where in the world have I been????? And why have I not posted anything since December? Well in the last few months we have sold our house in Tuscaloosa, AL and bought a new home in Trussville, AL. Thad has switched jobs and in between all that time there has been a whole lot of packing and unpacking. We have have been busy but it has been a great move. We are loving Trussville and we love our new little community we live in. We have been in our new home for just over a month now and I am just now feeling like we have a normal routine back in place.

Our new home in Trussville, we love it!

In Trussville there is a BBQ joint called Jim 'N Nick's and we have come to love their salads and amazing muffins and they serve a coconut cream pie that is literally out of this world. So since having their coconut cream pie, I have had it on the brain. And in my unpacking I came across a magazine that caught my eye. It is a Southern Living Special Edition and is titled "Our Best-Ever Cakes & Pies". So with a title like that how could you not stop everything you are doing and sit down and read each page full of yummy desserts.

Once I had thoroughly examined the magazine, it was given to Thad, with orders to pick a dessert for Sunday and he chose their Coconut Cream Pie, which was genious, like he was reading my mind. And after making it, let me tell you that it was pure heaven. The homemade pie crust, fresh coconut custard topped with whipped cream....need I say more. Just trust me on this one, so worth your time!

Coconut Cream Pie Filling
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups half-and-half
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipping Cream Topping
2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Garnish: toasted coconut

Start off by preheating the oven to 425 degrees.

Using your favorite pie crust recipe, roll out the pie dough and place it in a 9 inch pieplate. Prick bottom and sides of pie crust with a fork. Make sure to make the pie crust edges pretty too (I always crimp the edges.) Then bake the pie crust for 12 to 15 minutes until the crust is a golden brown. Once golden brown, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.

While the pie is cooling, begin the coconut cream filling. Using a medium saucepan combine, a 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch. In a small separate bowl whisk the half-and-half and egg yolks together. Then gradually whisk egg mixture into sugar mixture; then bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Once boiling, boil 1 minute and then remove from heat. Lastly, stir in the butter, 1 cup coconut, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cover the filling with plastic wrap, placing plastic wrap directly on the warm filling in the pan; let stand 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes remove the plastic wrap from the cooled filling and spoon custard mixture into the cooled crust, then cover and chill for 30 minutes or until set. My philosphy is the longer it has to set the better and we love our coconut pie cold so I place it in the refrigerator for as a long as possible.

Next beat the whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, beating until soft peaks form. Spread or pipe whipped cream over pie filling and garnish your gorgeous pie with toasted coconut, to top it off.

*To make toasted coconut, I set the oven to about 350 degress and place in a tin pan and spread out about 1/4 to 1/2 cup coconut (depennding on how much you like as garnish) and place it in the oven for about 5 minutes. I always set a timer because I get busy doing something else and forget it is in there. I also check it about half-way through and make sure it is not burning and getting an even golden brown look.

This pie will seriously change your life. And if you have coconut lovers in your family, this will blow them away. Coconut cream pie is perfect for an Easter dinner or even just a perfect spring dessert. So give it a try, you will not be dissappointed.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ultimate Streusel Cake...............

Here is a recipe that is going to knock your Christmas socks right off. This recipe is simply amazing. A moist cake that has a streusel filling that is then topped off with streusel topping, brown sugar....lots of it, cinnamon and pecans, yum. Plus it makes your house smell so fragrant during the holidays and it is a nice change from really rich and chocolaty desserts.

I also, however, have a thing for Bundt pans and Bundt cakes, I think what it is, is that you simply pour batter into a mold and voila, it comes out party perfect, ready to be plated on a pretty little cake stand. I also love Bundt pans because when I use to work at Williams Sonoma and had to straighten all the gorgeous Bundt pans, I was taken by all the gorgeous, detailed shapes and sizes of a bundt pan.

Williams Sonoma sells the brand Nordic Ware which is a family owned company that is been known for their amazing bakeware since 1946. There are traditonal Bundt pans, rose shaped Bundt pans, castle Bundt pans, mini Bundt pans and so many more. I love them all and would love to add some more Bundt pans to my bakeware collection (hint hint...Thad).

Pecan Streusel Topping
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Struesel Cake
Nonstick cooking spray with flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sour cream

2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup milk

Start off by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10-inch Bundt pan (or other tube pan with a 3-quart capacity) with cooking spray; set aside.

To make the streusel filling, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves in a medium bowl. Stir in granulated sugar, flour, and salt. Then using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut in butter until combined and mixture is crumbly, forming into small little peas; lastly stir in the nuts. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the cake, using the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined. Next beat in vanilla. Add reserved flour mixture and sour cream in alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour; beat the batter until just combined.

Once mixed, using your sprayed Bundt pan, spoon half the batter into the pan. Then cover first layer of batter with two-thirds of the streusel mixture. Next spoon in remaining batter, smoothing top; sprinkle with remaining streusel.

Place the bundt cake in the oven and bake until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 45 minutes; invert cake onto a wire rack, set over a rimmed baking sheet to help with crumbs and loose streusel.

In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar and milk until combined; set icing aside and cover with plastic wrap, until ready to use. Once cake has cooled to where is is almost room temperature, drizzle the icing over the cooled, inverted cake. To give the icing that dripped look, place the icing on the rim of the Bundt cake and let the icing naturally and slowly fall down the sides.

This Bundt cake is a treat indeed and the cinnamon, brown sugar and pecans will warm your heart and taste buds this holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse..........

I have been horrible at blogging these last few months. Between trying to sell our house, looking for a new house and Thad living in another city during the week and me being all over the place......life has been busy and simply crazy the last little while, so I am sorry. I will endeavor to do better. However, just because I have been busy does not mean I have not been trying new recipes.....

If you love cheesecake and pumpkin pie, then this recipe is for you. Chef Brad Farmerie, who is the executive chef for a popular restaurant Public which is in NYC and who has appeared on iron chef, recently appeared on the Martha Stewart Show sharing his shared his mom signature Thanksgiving dessert, Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse. I know I have been smothering you with Martha's recipes but when I saw this recipe being made I knew that not only did I have to try it but after making it, I knew that I had to share it with you all too. I have a weak spot for when people say that this is their mom's recipe and that she makes it every year. That is code for this recipe is dang good.

At a glance it may appear that there are a lot of steps to this recipe, but they are easy steps that equal an amazing dessert, that not only tastes divine but also looks great plated with its three layers. I can honestly say I have found a new family favorite that I will make every year. And honestly I am already craving it.

Click HERE to watch Chef Brad Farmerie and Martha make his mom's famous Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse.

The Crust
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted unsalted butter, plus more, unmelted, for pan
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar

The Cheesecake

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar

The Pumpkin Mousse

1 (1/4-ounce) envelope gelatin
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large egg whites

Whipping Cream Topping

1 cup very cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Start off by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, and sugar; stir until well combined. Press graham cracker mixture into bottom of prepared baking dish in an even layer; set aside.

For the cheesecake, using the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together cream cheese, eggs, and sugar until fluffy. Spread cheesecake mixture over crust in baking dish. Transfer to oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

While cheesecake is cooling start working on the pumpkin mouse. To begin, fill a small bowl or liquid measuring cup with 1/4 cup water; sprinkle gelatin over top and let soften; set aside. In a large heatproof bowl, mix together pumpkin, egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, milk, salt, and cinnamon. Set bowl over (but not touching) simmering water; whisk pumpkin mixture until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and whisk in gelatin mixture. Let cool to room temperature.

In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue whisking until medium peaks form. Fold into cooled pumpkin mixture. Spread pumpkin mixture over cheesecake; Cover and transfer to refrigerator until set, at least 8 hours and up to overnight

For the whipping cream, using a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spread over cake or serve cheesecake with a dollop on the side.

This dessert will wow your holiday guests and will make them wonder how you found the time to make such a yummy, pretty dessert. You will be pleasantly surprised by this recipe.

Enjoy and happy holiday baking!