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Saturday, 31 December 2011

Cranberry Scones


This season has been very busy! Traveling and visiting family over the holidays is delightful and busy in itself, however, living in a theatre for the last couple of weeks for rehearsals for the musical Mamma Mia has left my kitchen a little abandoned.

But what a better way to bring in some holiday cheer and energy than baking a yummy batch of cranberry scones and sharing with my wonderful cast? It was just the right touch after a long day.  Next week, we're back at it again so I'll have to bring some more goodies to keep us going!

Cranberry Scones
Adapted from http://annies-eats.com/
Makes approximately 8 scones
Ingredients:

1½ TBSP grated lemon zest
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup plus 3 TBSP sugar, divided
1 TBSP baking powder
½ tsp salt
6 TBSP cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1¼ cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped (these can also be frozen)
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream
Additional sugar for sprinkling
Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl combine the lemon zest, flour, ½ cup of sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add in the cold butter pieces and mix briefly until it represents a coarse meal and the butter pieces are in small pieces.
3. In a small bowl, toss together the chopped cranberries and remaining 3 TBSP of sugar.  Stir this into the flour-butter mixture.
4. In a liquid measuring cup whisk the egg, egg yolk and heavy cream.   Add the liquid ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir gently with a spatula or wooden spoon just until all the dry ingredients are moistened.  Knead gently to be sure the dough is evenly mixed, being careful not to overwork the dough.




5. You can either cut the scones using the same triangular method as seen in my Blueberry Scone recipe post, or you can simply roll out the dough and use a biscuit cutter to create circular scones. Because the dough is rather wet it is easier to use the circular cutters. Once dough is shaped and placed cookie sheet, sprinkle lightly with additional sugar.
Need to freeze?
Place the baking sheet with the shaped scones into the freezer and chill until frozen.  Transfer to a freezer-safe plastic bag and store until ready to bake.
6. Bake  until light golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.  (If baking from the freezer, add approximately 5 minutes to the original baking time.)

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Curry Chicken Casserole

Curry Chicken Casserole was a favorite growing up. However, despite my slightly disproportionate ratio of chicken to broccoli consumption as a child - I've come to love eating the broccoli too :)  This recipe is simple and is great for the family or for a small setting with the benefits of great leftovers.  I made this after a long hiatus probably about 5 years! I kind of forgot about it until I was looking through the family recipe book and was reunited again!


Curry Chicken Casserole
From my family cookbook
Serves 6 people


Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
2 cups of broccoli florets (frozen or fresh)
2 tins cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 TBSP curry yellow powder (more if you like spicier - less if you don't like a strong curry taste)
2 cups of grated cheddar cheese


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.


1. Boil chicken breasts in lightly salted water for about 20 minutes.  Remove and discard bone and skin and cut chicken into small cubed pieces.


2.  Parboil broccoli for 5 minutes and place on the bottom of a rectangular casserole dish.


3.  Place cubed chicken atop of the broccoli.


4.  Combine soup and mayonnaise and curry in a separate bowl.


5.  Pour mixture over the chicken, and top with grated cheese.


6. Bake for 30 minutes. Serves well with jasmine or basmati rice.


Keeps well for a few days in the fridge and is excellent for leftovers.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Apple Jelly

Mini disasters help you learn. I've certainly learned a lot from making apple jelly. Having not had much previous experience in the preserving world, I thought I would venture into making jelly.  I used the last of my locally picked apples, bought the necessary straining bags,  liquid Certo, and was on my way... to those mini disasters.

My pot was not quite as big as it should have been. Which lead to sticky jam boiling over onto my oven. Thankfully, not much juice was lost - and only tatters of my sanity. I dream of owning a Le Creuset set someday.

All was going smoothly and the jelly turned out relatively clear and a beautiful light rose hue.  However, after 24 hours of letting my jam "sit and settle" it was still like water. I was extremely disheartened.  A couple days of moping and occasionally shaking a bottle to see if it had set passed.

After a few days it seemed to set a little more - although it was still a little runny for my liking.  Apple jelly is a little tricky.  In any case, my answer to apple butter and salsa were easier to make as seen in my previous postings! I share all this not to scare you away from trying jelly - but just to let you know it's "finicky" and a little more tedious. So I would not introduce yourself to bottling with jelly, but warm up with some simple jams first!

Apple Jelly
Taken from Certo - www.kraftcanada.com
Yield: 8 cups

Ingredients:

Juice:
3 quarts (or 12 cups) of tart, juicy apples
6 1/2 cups of water

Jelly:
5 cups of prepared juice
2 TBSP lemon juice
7 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch CERTO Liquid Pectin

Materials:
Jelly Bag (see picture)
Preserving materials - bottles, etc. (see previous post from Apple Butter Recipe for more specific instructions on bottling)



Directions:

1. Remove blossom and stem ends from 3 quarts of apples, cut in small pieces (do not peel or core). Add 6 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, 10 minutes.

2. Crush pulp and simmer, covered 5 minutes more.

3. Extract juice:
a) Place prepared fruit in a jelly bag.
b) Place jelly bag in a colander over a bowl and let the juices drip - do not squeeze the bag as it will make your jelly cloudy!
c) If after your juice has been fully drained from the jelly bag - if there is insufficient juice you may need to add up to 1/2 water.

4. Pour 5 cups of prepared juice in a large saucepan (please use a LARGE one - and avoid boil over insanity) and stir in sugar and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil over high heat.

5. Boil hard for 1 minute.

6. Remove from heat and stir in CERTO Liquid Pectin.

7. Stir and skim for 5 minutes. Skimming is simply taking off the the thick layer of jelly that will form at the surface. Simply discard. To see if your jam is done use a metal spoon and dip it into the jelly mixture.  Take the spoon out and out of the steam and turn it sideways so the liquid runs off the side.  If the jelly is done, the mixture should be syrupy and form two drops that flow together and form a sheet that hangs off the edge of the spoon.

8.  Pour into warm sterilized jars (see process in Apple Butter recipe) to 1/4 inch from rim. Cover with lids and screw rings on tightly.





 These made great Christmas presents this year!  I did save a few for myself.




Saturday, 17 December 2011

Chocolate Delight Crinkle Cookies

Cocoa. It sounds, tastes, smells, and looks delicious. I have found a new favorite cookie - with cocoa. Lots of cocoa. I broke out my KitchenAid mixer, the Christmas tunes, and my red and white polka dot/snow flake apron and went to town.

This cookie may also make you do completely irrational things. Like eat it directly out of the oven while drinking out of a milk carton. I don't know anything about that - but that's what I've heard.

Please enjoy these - I am thinking that I may need to bake another batch since my cookie gift tins are taking it's toll on my personal cookie stash :)  It makes a yield of about 50. Think a dark deep chocolate taste balanced out with some icing sugar to make Christmas explode in your mouth.

Chocolate Delight Crinkle Cookies

Adapted  from simplyrecipes.com
Makes about 50 cookies.


Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
4 eggs
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup confectioner's sugar

Directions:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can use  a wooden spoon and a regular bowl) beat together cocoa powder, white sugar, and oil until it comes together into a shiny, gritty, dark batter.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds each.  Add the vanilla and beat thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix into the chocolate mixture on low speed until just combined - don't over mix.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough for 4 hours or overnight.

Preaheat oven 350 and line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place confectioner's sugar in a large plate with a lip.  Using a spoon, get clumps of the chilled dough and roll them into 1 inch (2.5 cm) sized balls using your hands. Roll the balls in the confectioner's sugar and place on the cookie sheet. You should be able to fit approximately 12-16.

Bake for 13-15 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Marshmallow Roll Cookies

Marshmallow Roll Cookies
Taken from family friend Mrs. Strong.


Ingredients:

2 cups finely shredded sweetened coconut
2 cups graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tin sweetened condensed milk
1 bag large white marshmallows


Directions:

Place coconut and graham crumbs in a large mixing bowl.  Add softened butter and rub together with your hands until well blended.
Add condensed milk and vanilla. Stir until well blended.

On a flat surface, lay a long sheet (about 2 feet) of waxed paper.  Place half of cookie mixture on the sheet an flatten to a rectangle approximately 6 x 24.

Place a row of marshmallows side by side along edge of mixture.  Using the wax paper as a guide, roll mixture tightly around marshmallows and seal seam by pressing together.  Twist ends of waxed paper (so it looks like a giant candy wrapper) and freeze.

Repeat with remaining cookie mixture.

Cut cookies from frozen roll and enjoy frozen or thawed.

In two weeks, I've made these twice - they are a popular item for my Christmas tins!

This may look more like a stick of chicken schawarma, but don't be alarmed -
you can remove the wax paper and cut the whole roll,
or simply cut off the ends.



Saturday, 10 December 2011

Sweet Potato Fries

Despite the need to bake lots of delicious desserts this season, it's nice to have some ideas for meals and appetizers planned to when you're expecting company. One recent stumble on Pinterest found me eyeing a recipe for sweet potato fries. I was worried that I would make them into a mushy mess. . . but I love sweet potatoes so much that I decided it was worth risking it - even with company for my first attempt.

So, the recipe held it's own and I made a few adaptations to suit my own personal taste. I hope that you can enjoy these as an appetizer or a side dish.

Sweet Potato Fries
Adapted from theartofdoingstuff.com.


Ingredients:

Sweet potatoes (for two people I usually use 1 large one - so if you're making for a crowd - you use a couple)
Corn starch
Olive oil
Pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425.

Peel and dice the sweet potato into rectangles - like fries!
In a bowl, place your diced sweet potato, 1 TBSP of cornstarch, 2 TBSP of olive oil and toss with your hands to make sure they're well coated.
Next, lay out the fries on a non-stick cookie sheet and make sure they are well spaced out and crack some nice fresh pepper to your taste over the top.
It's important that you not cram all the fries right next to each other - they need some space between each other so they bake and not get really soggy and steam.

Bake 25 minutes.

Take out and serve with this delicious dip:

Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup mayo
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
1-2 TBSP (to your taste) of Frank's Red Hot Sauce

Stir together well and if you like things hotter - add more of spice and/or hot sauce. Frank's hot sauce is good because it's a little sweet so you still get some good hot flavor.



Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Chews



 In my household, these chews are commonly called "ooie-gooies" and taken from a long time family friend Elizabeth.  I usually like to make a variety of the cookies you'll see on the blog and do up some fun Christmas presents with tins. Lots and lots of tins....Christmas trees, reindeers, polka dots, lights, trees, whatever Christmas themed tins you can find - get 'em while they're around and I promise that people will appreciate homemade cookies!

Also, I need to get on the ball with making some cookies for cookie exchanges with friends....and not eat them before I give them away ;)

Chews

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
1 2/3 cups white sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Heat butter, sugar, and milk in a medium saucepan until it boils.
Remove from heat.
Stir in rolled oats, cocoa, coconut, and vanilla.

Mix ingredients until well blended. Drop by spoonful unto cookie sheet and cool in refrigerator.  Can freeze for a few weeks.

Chocolate delish!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Christmas Skor Bark


Sometimes I have trouble making my baked goods look really perfect and pretty. I certainly am a messy cook in the kitchen, and I'm trying to make more "refined" finished products by taking more time for the finishing touches. As this comes with practice, it's sometimes nice to have a recipe that you're literally going to crack into messy pieces and be totally OK with that! 

This is a recipe that's always looks really great in a Christmas tin - and is so diverse that you can make it so many different ways (see variation note below!).  

If you do try some exciting new combos, please leave me a note - I would love to try some new ideas from you too! :)

Christmas Skor Bark
Adapted from http://homecooking.about.com/

Ingredients:
1 cup of butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 box (about) graham crackers
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup of Skor Chipits

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil. Arrange whole graham crackers to fit the bottom of the pan in a single layer, breaking up the last few to fit the space.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and white sugar. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let the mixture gently bubble for 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Carefully pour sugar/butter mixture evenly over the graham cracker layer. Spread to cover. Bake for 10 minutes.

When done, remove from oven and let rest until bubbling subsides. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Wait about 2 minutes for chocolate to melt, and then use a spatula to gently spread chocolate chips into an even layer on top of the toffee graham crackers.

Sprinkle with the Skor Chipits, pressing down gently into the chocolate.

Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 2 hours. Peel foil from chilled bark. Break into 2-inch irregular pieces.

Refrigerate any leftovers. You can also freeze this but I wouldn’t recommend it be over a couple weeks as it can taste stale.

For variations, ask yourself, “What’s my favorite chocolate and candy or nut?”

Chocolate – use milk, dark, or white chocolate

Toppings – 1 cup of chopped macadamia nuts, honey roasted peanuts, candy, candycane, etc.    

Be creative and have fun! 

Friday, 18 November 2011

Haystacks

Try adding a little extra to your wreath with fresh cinnamon sticks and hydrated fruit! Smells great!
Warning: bite-size cookies that are highly addictive!  

These are a family favorite that we've been making for over 10 years. They are great for a cookie exchange, gifts, or parties. Basically, they are good for any event where you will need a large yield. This batch makes over 100.  They are small, so don't worry about thinking it will take forever - it's pretty easy once you get started.  

Originally they were made with the toffee bars - and the company stopped making them! I was stressed that I would never be able to make my cookies again. However, I checked the website and they do still make the individually wrapped toffee candies.  Christmas has many smells for me - and the smell of cooking toffee is definitely one of them! 

Haystacks
Taken from a family friend, Mrs. Strong.

Ingredients:

2 x 170 g Mack Toffee (Macintosh plaid wrapper) Package (total of 340 g)
1 package of large white marshmallows
1 package of Special K
1 tin of sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup of butter

Directions:

Prior to starting to make the cookies I would place the following in their own bowls to make things easier: 1) all unwrapped toffee 2) cut marshmallows in halves 3) Special K

Prepare a cookie sheet with wax paper and put to one side.
 
In a large saucepan, melt butter and add toffee.
When melted, add condensed milk and heat until bubbling and smooth, reduce to low heat

Using a fondue or regular fork, dip halved marshmallow into toffee mixture until coated

Drop into bowl filled with Special K and turn until completely covered (be careful it’s HOT)

Place on cookie sheet.

Repeat until you’ve made all 100+ cookies – this is a huge yield and it’s meant to be frozen until served. You can place cookies in freezer in cookie sheet until just frozen enough to then stack on one another in an airtight container.

This recipe requires a little of an assembly line mentality to ensure things get done without burning on the toffee or scalding your hands! Once you get the first few done, you'll be flying in no time. 

Before serving, thaw slightly. These are a favorite and I’m glad there are so many to share with friends who keep coming back for more! 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Gingerbread Men Cookies



It's never too early to start your Christmas baking! Especially if you're like me and you want to do up some fun homemade gifts of your baked goods. These freeze well if you plan to make them ahead. And I highly recommend that you do start baking early and store up your supply as the Christmas season gets hectic. Devote some time early to baking, and then you get to enjoy relaxing AND eating treats later too!

As for these cookies,  I am in love with gingerbread.  You can get as creative as you want with decorating. I kept mine pretty simple this year - but have also enjoyed experimenting with chocolate, chocolate chips, candy pieces, and/or frosting!  Also, depending on your cookie-cutter size, you may have a different yield. 

Enjoy getting into the Christmas spirit. I also won't tell anyone if you start listening to Christmas music - December is only a couple weeks away!

Gingerbread Men Cookies
Adapted from simplyrecipes.com

Makes approximately 16 (5 inch) cookies.
 
Ingredients:

Cookies
3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature, softened)
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1 TBSP ground ginger
1 TBSP ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp.  finely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp.  salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses


Royal Icing
1 egg white
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)

Directions:

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy.
Mix in eggs and molasses. Gradually add the flour mixture; combine on low speed.
Divide dough in thirds; wrap each third in plastic.
Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes.
If after refrigerating the dough feels too soft to roll-out, work in a little more flour.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place a third of the dough on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies.

Use either a cookie cutter or place a stencil over the dough and use a knife to cut into desired shapes. Press raisins, chocolate chips, or candy pieces in the center of each cookie if desired for "buttons".

Transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let sit a few minutes and then use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.

 
Royal Icing

Beat egg whites and lemon juice together, adding the powdered sugar until the mixture holds stiff peaks.  

If the icing is too runny, add more powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency. Fill a piping bag with the icing to pipe out into different shapes. (Or use a plastic sandwich bag, with the tip of one corner of the bag cut off.) Keep the icing covered while you work with it or it will dry out.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Nacho Dip

It's that time of year when you start to get Christmas invitations for house and work parties and you're left to sign up what food you want to bring.  Well, this is an easy and delicious nacho dip that will be a success for that salty craving!


Nacho Dip
Taken from my family recipe book.

Makes 2 pie plates of dip. 


Ingredients:

1 block of cream cheese
1 250 ml tub of sour cream
1 package of taco seasoning mix
Ground beef
Mozza/Cheddar grated cheese
Salsa (heat of choice)
2 tin (or glass) pie plates


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.
Cook ground beef with taco seasoning as directed on package.
In a large bowl, mix cream cheese and sour cream until smooth.
Divide evenly between two pie plates and spread as a base into each pie plate.
Take salsa and spread over base evenly - about 1 1/2 cups for each pie plate.
Sprinkle cooked ground beef evenly over both plates.
Grate mozza/cheddar mixed cheese over the top.

Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes until cheese is melted.

Serve with your favorite nachos or crackers!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Stuffed Zucchini

 With Christmas sneaking closer, it got me thinking about stuffing. Christmas stocking stuffing, turkey stuffing, and stuffing your face with delicious treats.  However, one thing that I didn't think that could happen was stuffing my own leg into a cast.  But here I am, leg propped up, cast on, and ready for the Christmas season (as you can see!). 

This weekend my husband and I decided to go for a little hike. Nothing crazy, no multi-day backcountry deal, just into the woods, check out some potential places to explore in the spring, and then come home after a boil up with some maple smoked salmon we had packed.  It was a few degrees, sunny, and the trail was rocky and twisty that led to some stunning views. 

Half way back, it began to snow. We had our hiking boots on, and extra clothes packed just in case. No problem.  We had just eaten our lunch and were ready to head back to the parking lot and excited of  when we would return in the spring. Then it happened. My foot slipped on a large angled rock covered in snow, my body when flying, I saw and felt my ankle crack at an unnatural angle, and then heard myself scream as I landed in a heap.

It happened.
I broke my ankle or leg in the woods.
It's snowing.
Something is broken.

My husband runs toward me making sure that I didn't hit my head or hurt anything else. We slowly prop me up to see if I can bare any weight.  I quickly crumble. He fashions two large sticks into crutches to see if I can hop. 

Hop. Wince. Hop. Bones moving. Hop. I can't do this.

We must sacrifice a pack. I throw all of the cooking gear, garbage into my day pack and it's thrown into a tree. We then make sure we have the important things like extra clothes and a cell phone. A search and rescue was not what we wanted - especially with the sky only having a couple more hours of daylight and the astronomical costs of rescue plus the risk of us getting too cold while waiting. We weren't lost - we just needed to get out. 

I'm wearing his pack, bracing my leg, and am slowly lifted up on his back to begin the 2 hour  piggyback rescue until we reach the parking lot.  There were a lot of tears, words of motivation, and breaks to catch our breath.

But we made it. Onto the ER we go. After much welcomed morphine to kill the pain and X-rays, it is clear that I have broken my left fibula right above the left ankle. Thankfully, it's broken clean enough that it looks like surgery will not have to be an option, and I can get a cast.

Here I am casted. Trying to get in the Christmas spirit. And utilizing my crutches in the kitchen slowly getting from one place to the next.  I will have the cast on for at least six weeks - but this will NOT stop me from getting my Christmas cookie exchange and recipes ready - I have had time to look through too many recipes to give up now! Thank you for following along and for my friends who are giving much love and support! 

So, I have one foot stuffed into a cast or "stocking" for Christmas... here's some early supper goodies for you - stuffed zucchini :) Enjoy!

Stuffed Zucchini
Taken from America’s Test Kitchen: Light & Healthy 2010.

Makes 4. They’re great as a side dish or as a meal itself.

Ingredients:
4 zucchini (buy ones that are between 6-8 inches long)
1 shallot, minced (about 3 TBSP)
1 tsp olive oil
salt
2/3 cup couscous
¾ cup low sodium chicken broth
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about ¼ cup)
¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped coarse
2 TBSP chopped fresh basil (preferred but you can use dried spice)
pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven 475 degrees.


Slice off and discard the top third of each zucchini lengthwise and arrange the
bottoms, cut side down, in a microwave safe dish. Microwave on high until the
cut side of the zucchini is slightly translucent and easily pierced – 4-8 minutes.




Combine the shallot, oil, and ¼ tsp salt in a small saucepan.  Cover and cook
over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4-6 minutes. 
Increase the heat to medium, add the couscous, and cook stirring frequently,
until lightly browned and aromatic, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the broth and bring to a brief simmer. Remove the saucepan from the
heat, stir in ½ cup of the feta, olives, and basil, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
Fluff the couscous with a fork and season with pepper to taste.

Divide the couscous mixture evenly among the zucchini. Sprinkle with the
remaining 1/3 cup feta and bake until the cheese is slightly browned, about 10
minutes. Serve!! f you have leftover "stuffing" it's awesome to eat as is - don't
throw it out. 




Friday, 11 November 2011

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins


Gold Muffin Liners!
Over the last few days, I've been thinking about adding cream cheese as one of my favorite food groups. However, I realized it would be a slippery slope - and would have to add butter, chocolate, and cheese as their own food groups too. . . you understand how things would get complicated.


One thing that remained simple and delicious was this recipe. Plus, I was on the hunt for new baking goodies and found these awesome gold muffin liners! Bonus!


If you haven't already, you should check out the blog Annie's Eats linked below. It's a phenomenal professional blog that I often get some of my cooking inspiration from. With practice I hope to get better with everything with my own blog! I'm so glad that you've been following along and maybe even passing on some recipes to your friends :)
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Adapted from http://annies-eats.net/
Makes 24 muffins.
Ingredients:
Filling:
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1 TBSP plus 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil
Adding the cream cheese mixture

















Topping:
½ cup sugar
5 TBSP flour
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
4 TBSP cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Directions:
To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth.  Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter.  Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil.  Transfer to the freezer and chill. Make sure you let this chill for 4 or more hours - I would suggest doing it the night before to ensure it is well frozen. When I made mine it was a bit of a mess because I only let it chill for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend.  In a small bowl mix the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil.  Mix on medium-low speed until blended.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend.  Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.  Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.
To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (about 1/2 TBSP).  Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces.  Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well.  Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely.  Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffins.
Bake for 25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. 

AMAZING. If I had to rate the two pumpkin recipes this week - I'd have to say that I think I like this one more... that cream cheese centre is heaven! 
Don't forget your topping!