Doughnut Muffins

These. are. awesome.  I came across this recipe on Pinterest and knew that I had to try them out.  It’s basically a guilt-free doughnut since it’s baked, not fried (at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself).  

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Maple Cinnamon Granola

I’d never really thought I was the type to make my own granola; but when I came across a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated and realized that I had all of the ingredients in my pantry – I figured, why not?  I’m sure it’s way cheaper to make your own and it actually tastes much better – plus, you can adjust the flavors, dried fruits and nuts to be exactly what you want.  I have a feeling I just stumbled upon a new addiction…

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/6 cup real maple syrup (sorry, Aunt Jemima)
  • 1/6 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups Old Fashioned Quaker Oats (do NOT use quick oats)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup raisins

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oil, maple syrup, sugars, cinnamon and vanilla extract – whisk well
  • Pour in the oats and almonds and mix until everything is well coated with the sugar mixture
  • Spread the oat mixture out into a thick layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet – press it down with the back of a spatula until is compacted
  • Bake at 325°F for approximately 25-30 minutes (rotate the pan 180° halfway through)
  • Remove from the oven and cool for about 45 minutes, then break it apart into chunks of desired size, toss in the the raisins and mix well

Oatmeal Cream Pies

This homemade version of the classic Little Debbie treat is to die for.  They are unbelievably addictive, but oh-so-good.  I think I’ll be making these again sooner rather than later… 

INGREDIENTS

THE COOKIE

    • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar (if you don’t have it, just substitute light brown sugar)
    • 1 tbsp molasses
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 1/2 cups Quaker oats (you can use old fashioned or quick oats)
CREAM FILLING
    • 2 tsp very hot water
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 (7 oz.) jar Fluff
    • 1/2 cup shortening (i.e. Crisco)
    • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla

HOW TO MAKE IT

THE COOKIE

    • Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugars, molasses, vanilla and eggs
    • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon
    • Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and stir to combine
    • Mix in the oats
    • Drop tablespoon sized scoops into a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to brown
      • Be careful not to over-bake them – they will look moist
    • While the cookies are baking, prepare the cream filling…

CREAM FILLING

    • Dissolve the salt in the hot water and allow to cool to room temperature
    • Combine the Fluff, shortening, powdered sugar and vanilla and mix on high until fluffy
    • Add in the salt water and mix well

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER…

    • Spread the filling onto the flat side of one cookie and top it with another – then enjoy!

Blondies

This recipe came to me from my friend Lily who adapted it from a Bobby Flay recipe.  These blondies are chewy and delicious and will definitely satisfy any sweet tooth craving.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, unsalted
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (you could substitute milk chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp toffee chips (you could also chop up 3 Skor bars)
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp cinnamon

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Butter and line a 9 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing a 2-inch overhang – butter the lining, too
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt
  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan; add in both sugars and whisk until combined and the sugar is melted
  • Transfer the mixture to your mixing bowl and allow it to cool slightly
  • Mix in the eggs and vanilla until combined
  • Add the flour and mix until just combined
  • Fold in the chocolate chips and toffee chips and pour into the prepared baking pan
  • Bake at 350°F for 24-27 minutes or until the top cracks slightly, is firm to the touch and a cake tester come out with moist pieces clinging to it (definitely make sure you bake this until you see the crack on the surface, even if it means going over the 27 minutes)
  • Let the blondies cool completely – once they are cool, remove the blondies by lifting out the parchment paper “handles” and transfer to a cutting board
    • If you want the blondies to firm up more quickly, put them in the fridge for 30 minutes

Mimi’s Spiced Sweet Bread (Kleeja)

This recipe comes from my best friend’s mom.  It’s a Middle Eastern sweet bread that’s perfect toasted up for breakfast or in the afternoon with a cup of coffee or tea.  Don’t be afraid to “make bread” – it’s really not a hard thing to do!

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 cups of bleached flour (2 1/2 lb.)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp anise powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar added to 2 cups warm whole milk
  • 1 package of yeast added to 1/2 cup warm water + 1/2 tsp sugar
    • 1-2 egg whites for brushing

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl – mix well (if you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, you can place the dry ingredients into the bowl – do NOT use a hand held electric mixer, the weight of the dough will probably break the motor)
  • Add in the melted butter and oil while the mixer is going – if using your hands, get mixin’!
  • Next, add in the water and yeast mixture
  • Lastly, mix in the warm milk and sugar mixture
  • Your dough should be moist, sticky and, well, dough-like – it should not be dry and crumbly nor too wet
  •  Place the dough into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap – place the dough in a warm place away from any drafts for 3 hours so it can rise
    • I always place my rising dough in the cabinet with our cable box, etc. because the equipment gives off some heat and helps the rising process
  • After the dough has rested for 3 hours, roll pieces of dough of desired size into cylinders and twist the dough into a knot (I used a small handful)
  • Place the knotted buns onto a parchment paper lined (or greased) baking sheet and brush the tops with egg whites
  • Bake at 350°F for approximately 15 minutes on the top rack and approximately 15 minutes on the bottom rack (next time I make these, I’m going to to cut the time down by a few minutes, so it’s a little bit trial-and-error with the timing)
    • Recipe yields approximately 35-38 buns
    • These freeze really well – once they’ve cooled, just place them in a Ziploc bag and pop in the freezer!

Mrs. G’s Gingersnaps

Put away that bag of Betty Crocker gingerbread cookie mix and make these instead!  These cookies are crispy, yet soft and chewy and perfectly spiced – you won’t regret putting in a little more effort to make the real deal.   

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cloves

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer
  • Add in the egg and then stir in the molasses
  • Sift together the dry ingredients and then add them to the wet mixture – mix well
  • Roll the dough into small balls about 1 inch in diameter and then roll them in granulated sugar
  • Place the cookie dough balls onto a greased or parchment paper lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart
  • Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes
  • Remove from sheet and cool on a rack -recipe yields about 3-4 dozen

Maple Twist


This dessert is another one that can easily get away with being justified as a breakfast food.  It’s basically a glorified homemade cinnamon bun that looks really pretty (before it’s devoured).  It requires some time to make, but it definitely pays off.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast (1/4 oz.), dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp maple flavoring

CINNAMON SUGAR FILLING

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp maple flavoring
  • 1/4 cup of butter, melted
  • Optional: 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
GLAZE
  • 1  1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp maple flavoring (or 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract)
  • 2 – 3 tbsp milk
  • Optional: 1 -2 tbsp butter, melted

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Mix together the dry ingredients: flour, salt and sugar
  • In a small sauce pan, warm the milk and add the butter to the warm milk – keep stirring until the butter has melted then let the mixture cool
  • Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of water and add 1 tbsp of maple flavoring to the water, set aside
  • Add the milk liquid, yeast liquid and lastly the beaten eggs to the dry ingredients
  • Knead the dough with your hands and add in flour a little bit at a time until the mixture is moist but not sticky
  • Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in a warm place away from any drafts (I always put my dough in the closet that has all the equiment for the TV because it gets so warm in there!)
    • Allow the dough to rise for 1  1/2 – 2 hours (or until the dough has doubled in size)
    • If your dough isn’t rising, it’s probably because the surroundings aren’t warm enough
  • Divide the dough into 3 balls
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball into 12 in. circles
  • Fit one layer of dough onto a greased baking sheet
CINNAMON SUGAR FILLING
    • Mix the ingredients together using your hands, if you want, to get it really well blended
  • Brush the dough with melted butter and evenly sprinkle 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar filling on top
  • Continue the same steps with the remaining 2 layers of dough (end with the cinnamon sugar filling exposed)
  • Use a small juice glass to mark a 2 in. circle in the center of the dough (be careful NOT to cut through the dough)
  • Make cuts from the outside edge of the glass out to the edge of the dough
    • You want to end up with 16 pie shaped wedges – the best way to do this is cut the circle in half and then keep cutting each section in half until you get 16 wedges
  • Twist each wedge 4 or 5 times
    • Remove the glass once you’re done twisting
  • Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise again for about 1 hour
  • Bake at 325F for 22 minutes or until golden brown
GLAZE
    • Whisk together the ingredients and add more milk a little bit at a time until you reach your desired consistency
  • Drizzle the baked treat with the glaze while it’s still warm (but not too hot – about 5-10 minutes)

Lois’s Pumpkin Cake Roll

This recipe comes from a dear friend of mine… she loves making this around Halloween and has even made a low fat* version that tastes just as good!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin or squash
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
CREAM CHEESE FILLING
  • 1 cup confectionary sugar
  • *6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (use low fat cream cheese, if desired)
  • *4 tbsp softened margarine (or butter), room temperature (you can use as little as 1 tbsp, if desired)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Beat the eggs on high speed for 5 minutes
  • Gradually beat in the sugar
  • Stir in the pumpkin and lemon juice
  • In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture on low speed until all of the ingredients are well blended
  • Line a greased 15 x 10 x 1 in. cookie sheet with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper, too
  • Spread the batter evenly onto the pan
  • Sprinkle with nuts, if desired
  • Bake at 375ºF for 15 mins
  • Lay out a dish towel (preferably not a terrycloth towel) and sprinkle it with powdered sugar, this will help the cake from sticking to it
  • Turn out the cake onto the sugared towel and remove the parchment paper
  • Roll up the cake with the towel inside and let it completely cool
    • While the cake is cooling, make the cream cheese filling…
CREAM CHEESE FILLING
    • Beat all of the ingredients on low speed until well blended
  • Unroll the cake and spread the filling right up to the ends of the cake
  • Now, roll up your cake without the towel
  • Wrap the pumpkin roll up in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze it – when you’re ready to serve it, slice it into slices of desired size

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Sweet Seeds

Wondering what to do with those seeds after you carve your Halloween pumpkin? Try oven roasting them for a tasty treat!  You don’t have to stick to salt and olive oil – although that’s still a good option…  

INGREDIENTS

SWEET

    • 1  1/2 cups pumpkin seeds, rinsed and cleaned
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
    • 1 tbsp brown sugar
      • You can also add in a pinch of vanilla sugar if you have it on hand
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp salt
SAVORY
    • 1  1/2 cups pumpkin seeds, rinsed and cleaned
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp salt

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine the pumpkin seeds with the olive oil and your desired dry ingredients (sweet or savory)
  • Spread the seeds out evenly on the baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 20-30 minutes, or until the seeds are golden brown
    • Stir the seeds from time to time so that they roast evenly
Savory Seeds

Pumpkin Cheesecake

This cheesecake is the ultimate fall treat.  It’s decadent and has just the right amount of sweetness.

INGREDIENTS

CRUST
    • 1  cup graham cracker crumbs
    • 3/4 cup gingersnaps, finely crushed (put about 20 in a food processor and process until they’re fine)
    • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 stick butter, melted

FILLING

    • 3 – 8 oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature
    • 1 – 15 oz. can pumpkin
    • 3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
    • 1  1/2 cups granulated sugar
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/8 tsp cloves
    • 2 tbsp flour
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract

HOW TO MAKE IT

CRUST

    • In a medium bowl, combine the graham and gingersnap crumbs, sugar and cinnamon
    • Add the melted butter and mix well
    • Press the mixture down into a flat 9 in. springform pan – make sure the crust comes up along the sides of the pan
FILLING
    • Beat the cream cheese until it’s smooth
    • Add the pumpkin, eggs, egg yolk, sugar and spices
    • Add the flour and vanilla and mix together until well combined
  • Pour the filling into the crust and spread it out evenly
  • Bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 325°F (wrap the spring form pan in aluminum foil and bake it in a water bath – here are some more tips)
  • After 45 minutes in the oven, turn the oven off and leave the cake in there for another hour
  • After the hour, take the cheesecake out and let it cool on the countertop covered with an inverted large plate/platter – this will slow the cooling process down and prevent cracks
  • When the cheesecake is room temperature, place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours
  • Top your piece off with some whipped cream and enjoy!