Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

Seeing as tomorrow is December and the flavors are changing from apple and pumpkin to peppermint and cinnamon, this will probably be my last pumpkin recipe until next fall.  But if you've still got a can of pumpkin kicking around your pantry, this would be a great way to use it.  I wanted something quick and easy for a Sunday morning breakfast with Dave. I thought I'd make regular muffins, but then I spotted my jumbo muffin tin and figured if I was going to make an oversized muffin, it might as well be one with good for you ingredients like pumpkin and cranberries.  These have a very strong pumpkin flavor and an excellent sweet flavor from the cranberries.  Perfect for Sunday brunch or just a lazy morning with the newspaper.

This is an original recipe I whipped up staring at the cranberries leftover from my Orange Cranberry Cookies and Cranberry Apple Walnut Pie.  This Pumpkin Cranberry Muffin recipe could easily be adapted to make 12 regular sized muffins or mini loaves by adjusting the cooking time.  I might spice up the pumpkin a little more next time, but otherwise these are a perfect muffin.  They're moist and flavorful and big enough to be breakfast.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Linzer Tarts

In 2005 Dave and I tackled the long distance relationship, him living in Massachusetts while I still lived in central Pennsylvania.  Dave bought his house the year before and for Thanksgiving in 2005 I visited him and his family for the holiday with the caveat that he allow me to complete several of my cookie recipes for my holiday baking.  Living the bachelor life, Dave didn't particularly care what I did with his oven so long as he got some of the treats. 

So on during Thanksgiving week when so many people spend their time in the kitchen making real food, I stumbled into the kitchen and prepared to make many batches of cookies.  Busying myself in the kitchen, Dave was in the living room watching TV or playing video games. I had several cooling racks full of cookies, having just completed a batch of Classic Peanut Butter Cookies, and just starting on a recipe of Oatmeal Cranberry. My first two sheets of oatmeal cookies were in the oven when the timer went off and I opened the oven door.

There was a flame.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lumberjack Cookies

Don't ask me about the name, I just picked these up from someone else's blog.  It is a fun name though.  But if you want a description, these are a soft molasses cookie that perfectly fit into the fall and holiday flavors.  They are certainly meant to be devoured and if I would have let him, Dave would have done just that.  These cookies are so good, that they actually have me contemplating not making my regular Gingerbread cookies this year.  Why compete with such a perfect alternative cookie?  I know there's the whole shapes and decorating thing...I'll think about it.

Jen over at Beantown Baker got this recipe from her mother-in-law and I can see why they are a family favorite.  Just a simple cookie, easy to put together and they bake up soft and delicious.  I wouldn't change anything, they are perfect as is.  They'd be a great cookie for kids to make for Santa or holiday parties if you want to get little hands involved and they freeze well, either before or after baking.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and get to enjoy the day with the people you love.  Among other things, I'm thankful for you, my friends, who come and read about my kitchen expeditions.  Thank you for your support and have a wonderful holiday!  Have fun in your kitchen and make something delicious.  I know I will.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cranberry Apple Walnut Pie

While my friends (well, Cindy) are more concerned about my lack of "applying" myself to cupcakes, I am determined to tackle a different baking challenge: pie.  I've never made a pie, let alone a pie crust, but with the season of pie upon us, it seemed the opportune moment.  The pie filling didn't concern me so much as the making of a crust.  So after my appeal to you, dear readers, I received a few comments and emails suggesting a few options for pie crust recipes.  I narrowed it down to three from very respectable bloggers and I appreciate the depth to which each of these bloggers explained the nuances and differences between various crust methods.

The Brown Eyed Baker had a good recipe and description, including specific instructions for using a food processor or mixing by hand.  The recipe uses all butter, but there was no sugar and the rest of the ingredients seemed a little on the light side and since I know I have an issue rolling dough, I wanted something using a little more in the quantity department, just in case.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodle Blondies

Prepare yourself for a new Thanksgiving dessert.  These will make your forget about the pumpkin pie altogether.  A thick bar consisting of a soft and chewy snickerdoodle base topped with a wonderfully smooth and creamy pumpkin pie filling garnished with cinnamon sugar, one bite and you'll be sold.  The cinnamon in the snickerdoodle base is the perfect bridge to the spiced pumpkin filling.  Dave was sold just by reading the recipe, but once he tasted them, he declared them perfect.  As did I.  In fact, these pimpkin pie snickerdoodle blondies were miles better than I thought they would be.  I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin pie in general, so I anticipated these bars being just okay.  I was wrong and I'm proud to admit it.

Jen at Beantown Baker is a genius for coming up with this winning combination.  I followed her recipe pretty closing, although I did add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the snickerdoodle batter and decreased the brown sugar by a half cup.  Jen also suggests adding a white chocolate & cinnamon topping, but Dave and I agreed to leave them with just the cinnamon sugar.  Either way, you have to try these bars.  Don't be intimidated by the ingredients list.  You're whipping up two batters essentially, but you can use the same bowl for both (I did at Jen's suggestion).  They came together pretty quickly and wherever you celebrate this Thanksgiving, everyone will be thankful for you and these pumpkin pie snickerdoodle blondies.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cranberry Orange Bread

I love this time of year. There are so many strong flavors to bake with and combinations to make with them.  Last year I shared with you what might possibly be my favorite cookie, Orange Cranberry Cookies, and today I'm bringing you a breakfast (or snack) version of those flavors.  This bread is delicious.  It's a little more dense than I expected, but that doesn't make it any less wonderful.  The fresh cranberries coupled with the orange juice provide a sweet/tart combination and the pecans provide a subtle nuttiness.  I took this loaf to my parent's house and my Mom and Grandma couldn't get enough.  If I'd have let her, I think Grandma would have eaten the whole thing!

This recipe is from (formerly Mixing Bowl) and was posted by member Jennabee who found it from Better Homes and Gardens.  I cleaned up the order of combining ingredients a little bit and opted to use fresh cranberries rather than dried.  And instead of a cream cheese glaze, I went with the light powdered sugar glaze from the aforementioned cookies for a light topping with to bring it all together.  Make this for a Thanksgiving breakfast or as a homemade holiday treat for a friend or hostess.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wanted: Pie Crust Recipe

With next week being Thanksgiving, I've decided to try my hand at pie for the very first time.  I'm not sure how it will turn out, but there will be a back up pie for the big day, so fear not.  The contents of said pie are a surprise until I post my (successful?) attempt next week, but the recipe I'm using enlists the assistance of a premade/frozen crust.

Somehow I don't think that's going to fly for my first attempt.

So I'm reaching out to you, dear friends, for your recommendations.  Leave me a comment with a link to your go-to pie crust recipe.  Next week I'll share which one I chose as well as the tasty goodness that will fill the crust.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

These cookies just taste like fall.  They are little bites of pumpkin flavor, perfectly enhanced with cinnamon and other spices that pumpkin always plays nicely with.  Dave thought they needed more pumpkin, but I think that was because they were pretty fresh out of the oven and needed some time to mingle a little more.  I love the sugar coating, because it made me consider calling these Pumpkindoodles.  If I would have thought to flatten the balls a bit, I probably would have renamed them!

Yet another perfect recipe from Beantown Baker.  I used pumpkin pie spice rather than the individual spices.  But otherwise, I didn't change a thing, although creating flattened versions of this cookie for Pumpkindoodles does sound like a good idea.  Live on the edge and roll them in cinnamon sugar if you're feeling particularly randy.  If you're potlucking Thanksgiving next week or will have a crowd and want an alternative dessert, these are a very festive touch that will be sure to please.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies

I'm so excited for this post!  Today is my first post for the Secret Recipe Club (SRC)!  If you haven't heard about it, you can learn everything you need to know here, but basically each Monday a group of bloggers post a recipe they've made from another blogger's repertoire, but nobody knows who's featuring their blog until that morning, hence a secret club!  It's a fabulous opportunity to check out new bloggers and force yourself to try new things.  I hope you'll take a look at some of the other bloggers in my group by checking out the blog hop at the bottom of this post.

I had the privilege of baking from Andi's blog, The Wednesday Baker.  Andi felt like a kindred spirit as I read her blog subtitle "One cookie at a time..." With a heading like that, I knew immediately that I'd be baking one of Andi's cookie recipes--to the point that I didn't allow myself to look at any of the other yummy things on her blog until I committed to a cookie recipe.  And by committed, I mean choose three and made Dave pick one, thus ensuring that I had to make them since he'd expect them.  Be sure to check out Andi's blog and take a spin through her sweet treats and good eats.  I already have a few other recipes from Andi that I plan to try and post.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

So yummy.  You know how much Dave liked the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars?  Well, this was like making it ok to have them for breakfast.  Because it's not a dessert if it's bread, right?  Soft, sweet but not sugary and perfectly spiced with a hint of chocolate.  Plus this makes a ton of bread.  I don't even want to think about the number of muffins that could be created with this recipe.  It's pumpkin, so the bread stays moist.  And I don't think it needs dressed up at all with a glaze or anything, but someone with a slightly sweet cream cheese spread might think otherwise.  Overall, you need to make this.  One for you.  One for your Thanksgiving hostess (oh, that's you too?).  And one for the freezer.  Or do what I did and make mini loaves that you can share to spread the joy.  I like mini loaves for gifts to random people I want to thank, like my hair stylist, a teacher, a particularly helpful coworker.  It's homemade, so that's always a thoughtful gesture, but it's small enough and easy to make that it doesn't seem like an overly dramatic gesture (like a tray of 5 dozen cookies might seem.  To some people.)

Have I mentioned how adorable I think Maria and Josh at Two Peas & Their Pod are?  I know I have, but for real, they are adorable.  And they make awesome food.  Really, they have amazing recipes and beautiful food.  This recipe was no exception.  It's a solid recipe and comes together very quickly.  I don't know any other recipe where I get such a large quantity with so little effort.  Maria uses canola oil which I subbed for vegetable oil since that's what I had on hand.  And I wouldn't be opposed to adding more chocolate chips, maybe an extra 1/2 cup.  Maria also makes three loaves in 8 x 4 pans, but my tool kit consists of a set of mini loaf pans, one 8 x 4 pan and one 9 x 5 pan.  Since I knew I wanted to do some sharing, I opted for the 9 x 5 (since my 8 x 4 was going to be put to use in another way--more on that next week) and the mini loaves.  I'm fairly confident that three mini loaves equal one regular loaf, so if you have a lot of people to share with, you can make up 9 little loaves and pass them out to everyone you see!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Apple Fritters

Confession: I can't remember the last time I fried something.  I mean, I don't even fry my french fries--I bake them.  Add to that, Dave and I got a cast iron skillet as a wedding gift two years ago and it desperately needed seasoned.  So of course when I saw this recipe I thought it was a great way to wrap up my apple baking bonanza and use up the last of the apples we picked at the orchard.  Considering my lack of skills in the frying department, they turned out very well.  Soft on the inside and a gentle crispness on the outside, these fritters reminded me of apple cinnamon donut holes.  Cindy and Dave also got in on the taste test.  Again and again.  They were sweet, soft and the apples were delicious wrapped in the tasty fritter batter.

This recipe came from Pioneer Woman who I positively adore.  When I saw the recipe on Tasty Kitchen, I knew it would be the perfect foray into frying and a good excuse to season my cast iron skillet that has been neglected.  Ree's recipe is great and she's always so wonderful with her detailed descriptions and beautiful photos.  Dave didn't think they had enough cinnamon, so Cindy suggested adding cinnamon to the powder sugar topping.  But when I did that, Dave commented it was too much like a donut hole. (Never satisfied, that boy.)   Ideally, being a the New Englander he is, more cinnamon in the batter would be ideal, maybe increased to a Tablespoon.  I also think I made my fritters a bit too big since I had some with gooey centers.  Guess I'll have to try this frying thing out again.  You know, to improve my skills.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Caramel Apple Cookies

I love finding different desserts and treats transformed into cookies.  Maybe one day I'll be as creative as the people who come up with these ideas, but until then, I'll just follow their lead.  These are very yummy.  An excellent alternative to the difficult to eat and always too big caramel apple, you get a little bit of caramel and apple in each bite.  It's a sweet cookie with a soft texture (from the apple) and I love the fine oatmeal addition to the dough.  The caramel, though messy, in conjunction with the ground oatmeal create an interesting flavor combo in the cookie as well.  They spread a lot on the pan when baking, so be careful not to put them too close together.

Now, before I fall off my soapbox, I'd like to remind you that there many more varieties of apples than just Granny Smith and McIntosh.  Granny Smith are great, but they aren't the only baking apple out there.  One of the great things about going to an orchard is learning about all the different kinds of apples available, how they are best used and the subtle differences in their taste and texture.  The recipe came from Katie Goodman via craftzine and she suggested using Granny Smith apples, which are a lovely option and yes are the traditional apple for a caramel apple on a stick.  However, when I was at the orchard, I came across some beautiful Empire apples which are also a hearty baking apple, a little less tart and full of flavor.  So I opted to use those in this recipe and I'm very pleased with the results.  Don't be afraid to supplement with something different--just make sure you have a sturdy baking apple, not something that will turn to mush when baked.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins

About a week or so ago, we had a very rainy and dreary day.  I was completely soaked by the time I got to the train station to come home and still soggy when Dave picked me up to drive me the rest of the way home.  (Yes, I had both an umbrella and a trench coat.)  So I knew it was one of those nights that exercise would go out the window. I was in need of comfort.  I needed to bake.  And since earlier in the afternoon I had been perusing Foodbuzz for muffins, I knew exactly what I wanted to make (especially because I had everything on hand).  This healthified pumpkin muffin seemed like just the way to bring the good parts of fall into my evening to level the playing field from the driving rain.  I loved how they puffed up and just look like perfect muffins.  They were super easy to make with two bowls and a whisk, so it was easy clean up, too.  A moist muffin with a great texture, these were a tasty treat and a perfect match for fall breakfasts.  Plus this recipe makes a lot! 

I'd seen other bloggers mention RavieNomNoms, but I don't know why I hadn't visited her blog. She's adorable and came up with this great treat. Unfortunately, she had forgotten to list the quantity of sugar in her post, so I guessed and used 1/2 cup.  Afterward I learned from Ravie that I should have used 3/4 cup (which was my first instinct, but I didn't want them to be too sweet).  Had I realized I would get the equivalent of 18 muffins, I would have done 3/4 because I don't think the version I made was sweet enough, and maybe use brown sugar.  And I would also amp up the spices, either adding more cinnamon or a combination of pumpkin pie spice, baking spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, from 1 teaspoon to maybe 2 1/2 teaspoons because I really like that compliment to the pumpkin.    After I filled my 12 cup muffin tin and had so much batter left, I decided to make mini muffins with the remainder.  Since 3 mini muffins equals 1 regular muffin (I don't know where I read that, but it works on all my recipes, i.e. if it makes 12 regular muffins, you'll get 36 mini muffins), I ended up with quite a few.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


When I showed Dave this recipe, he only looked at the title and said yes.  My husband is a man of simple tastes and a true New Englander, he loves his maple syrup.  So a cookie, based on the classic Snickerdoodle no less, that tastes like maple?  Yes is all he needed to say.  You'll be pleasantly surprised by the subtle  maple flavor from the sugar and the glaze.  The cookie is both crunchy (at the edges) and soft (in the middle) and the topping combined with the glaze (which, can I just say how awesome this glaze was?  Perfect consistency, not too sweet and made a ton.) offer a unique cookie that is a grown up spin to a classic cookie.

This recipe is from King Arthur Flour.  I had forgotten about it when I went to the store and thus forgot to pick up the maple sugar.  However, Dave and I were at an apple festival a few weeks ago and a local Massachusetts maple grower had a booth set up, selling maple syrup, maple candies and, lucky me, maple sugar.  Turns out it was cheaper to buy it from the vendor and I felt good about buying local (the vendor's farm is about an hour from our house).  The recipe is flawless and I definitely recommend drizzling the glaze on the cookie, rather than slathering it on, so that you can appreciate the taste and texture of the sugar topping and not be overwhelmed by a lot of glaze.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Soooo, what do you think?  I really wanted to clean up the place.  I like the fresh, clean look and hope you aren't freakin' out too much.  I promise everything is still here. Plus, did you see the URL?  Yup, I'm all my own now.  I feel like a grown up.  And I have my own email, so you can send me messages and I promise to respond.  It's all an early Christmas gift to me, but I hope you enjoy the changes as well.  Also added is an "About Me" page, but that silently launched about a week ago. 

Also, I would like to apologize for the lack of post yesterday and for all the people who commented over the weekend.  We lost power in central Massachusetts due to the Halloween snowstorm.  I'm still without power at the house (no baking this weekend. I'm really upset about it.)  But I got a chance to pop on, so as soon as I can, I'll respond to your comments.  But thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoy the changes!