Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing

More pumpkin stuff and cream cheese stuff? Yup, more pumpkin and cream cheese stuff! And I have a small confession to make about these cookies. I made them a year ago for a Halloween party I went to last year. By the time I got around to uploading the pictures Halloween was long gone, so I figured I'd wait to this year to post them. I'm actually very impressed with myself for remembering about them!

These cookies were a huge hit at the party I brought them too. But then again, would you expect anything less when you top a pumpkin cookie with cream cheese icing? I didn't think so. The cookies are light and cakey and frosting adds the perfect finishing touch.

The recipe makes a huge amount of cookies so feel free to scale it down, or just do what I did and make huge cookies! I ended up using about 1/4 cup of dough for each cookie.

Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe: Adapted from www.allrecipes.com, Seen at My Baking Addiction


  • 2 cups unsalted butter; softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin (solid; not pie mix)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

1. Cream butter, white sugar and pumpkin. Add eggs and mix well.
2. Sift together the baking soda, ground cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, salt and flour. Add to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
3. Drop from spoon to cookie sheet. Bake 13-15 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Cream Cheese Icing


  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Mix the cream cheese with the butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and milk in a bowl. Heat in a microwave for 15 seconds. Drizzle spoonfuls over the cooled cookies and smooth with the back of a spoon or a spatula.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins

Hello, my new favorite pumpkin treat! Nice to meet you. Where have you been all my life?

Oh... are you expecting me say more about these? Are the pictures not enough to make you want to go bake them RIGHT NOW. Ok fine, I don't think words will do them justice, but I'll try. This muffin is a cross between a cupcake, pumpkin pie, and cheesecake. It's Fall in a bite. They're easy to make and even easier to look at. The only hard thing about these is watching them leave as your husband takes them to work.

I got the idea from these muffins over at Annies Eats. I used the same base, but instead of molding the cream cheese into log, freezing it, slicing it, and hiding it in the middle of muffin I decided to alter the filling a little bit and go black bottom cupcake style with these. I like the idea of the cream cheese showing so you know exactly what's in store. And the cinnamon sugar topping? That's just a nice little bonus that adds the perfect finishing touch!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins
Muffin and Topping adapted from: Annies Eats
Makes: About 45 mini muffins (12 regular)

For the filling:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbls flour
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the muffins:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbls vegetable oil

For the topping:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. flour
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  1. To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese, egg, flour and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Set aside.
  2. To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. 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 the bowl of an electric mixer combine 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.
  3. 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.
  4. To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin about 2/3 full with batter. Add a dollop of filling on top. (I would say I used about a tablespoon of batter and a heaping teaspoon of filling. They were pretty full going into the oven.) Sprinkle with topping. Bake or 14 minutes. Cool. Eat. Smile.

Caramel Corn

This post is going out with a disclaimer: This stuff is seriously addicting! I didn't even think I liked caramel corn that much, but I (along with 10 other people) could not stop eating this!

I took a giant batch of this to my friends place for Canadian Thanksgiving and even after we ate dinner and dessert, and everyone was as full as could be, hands were still reaching into the bowl of caramel corn because they just couldn't get enough. It's easy to make this festive and colorful by adding in seasonal candy. I added in candy corn to half of the batch and some fall colored m&m's to the other half.

Make this soon, but make sure you have plenty of friends to share with, because trust me if it's just you and the caramel corn, the caramel corn will win.

Caramel Corn
Adapted from www.allrecipes.com
  • 7 quarts plain popped popcorn
  • 2 cups dry roasted peanuts (optional)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).
  2. Make popcorn and place in a large bowl (or 2 large bowls). I actually used a double bagged brown bag from the grocery store. It worked great and cleanup was easy!
  3. Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring enough to blend. Once the mixture begins to boil, boil for 5 minutes while stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will be light and foamy. Immediately pour over the popcorn in the bowls or bag. Stir to coat.
  5. Bake for 1 hour, removing the pans, and giving them each a good stir every 15 minutes. After it has baked separate into pieces if need. Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers or resealable bags

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

I do a lot of stupid things, but this one takes the cake (pun intended). I had this recipe bookmarked for 2 years before I got around to making it. Two whole years! Why oh why did I wait this long to make it? It is hands down the best cake I've ever made.

I don't make cakes all that often because I prefer cookies, brownies, and cupcakes (things that are easy to send to work with Ross), but when the occasion presents itself I love making layer cakes.

Last week was Ross' 29th birthday. When I was giving him a few options for a cake to choose from, I'm pretty sure he didn't hear anything after I said "Chocolate Peanut Butter." I read off the list to him, but I could tell he was just waiting for me finish talking so he could blurt out "I want the chocolate peanut butter one!"

This cake did not disappoint. The cake itself was light and moist. It wasn't too too chocolaty, which was good when you paired it with the peanut butter frosting. And the peanut butter frosting... there are no words. Just go make it. I know it sounds weird because it has peanut butter and cream cheese, but trust me on this one, it's amazing. And the chocolate peanut butter ganache is the perfect finishing touch (not to mention it does a great job hiding all the frosting imperfections)!

A few notes about the recipe:
  1. I'm leaving the original instructions for the cake, which produces a 8 inch cake. I ended up halving the recipe and making a 6 inch cake. I did not halve the recipe for the frosting or the ganache. I had leftover, but don't worry, I put them to good use. :)
  2. The original ganache recipe calls for 8 ounces of chocolate, but I read comments on the original post from people who had trouble with the ganache spreading so I reduced the chocolate down to 6 ounces.
  3. This cake is rich and intense, serve it in the thinnest slices possible!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Recipe: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped peanuts (I used honey roasted), optional

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. (Deb note: These cakes are very, very soft. I found them a lot easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer for 30 minutes. They’ll defrost quickly once assembled. You’ll be glad you did this, trust me.)

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Once the cake is fully frosted, it helps to chill it again and let it firm up. The cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze.

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Decorate the top with chopped peanuts. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

6 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of d double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

Chopped Greek Salad & My Favorite Greek Dressing

Okay so I definitely feel kinda lame for posting about a salad because...well... it's a salad. But since this salad finds its way to my dinner table at least once a week, I figured it was time to post about it. And really, this post isn't about the salad as much as it's about dressing. Aren't all salads really about the dressing anyway?

Once I started making my own salad dressings, I have never gone back to store bought. Have you read the ingredient list in that stuff? It's all sugar and words I can't pronounce. I'll take my sugar in the form of cookies, not salad.

This greek dressing is great because I can pretty much guarantee that you have all the ingredients to make the dressing right now. You can throw it together on a moments notice. The other thing that I love about this dressing is that it has a high ratio of vinegar to oil. Most vinaigrettes have wayyyyyyy too much oil in them. This dressing uses more vinegar than oil so it gives it a really good tang and makes a little bit go a long way.

I'm posting a "recipe" for the salad based on what I usually put in it. Obviously change things around as you see fit. The version I'm posting is a vegetarian version, but if I have leftover chicken I usually throw that in too. This makes quite a bit of salad. It usually makes enough for me and Ross for dinner one night and lunch the next day.

Chopped Greek Salad
  • 1 bag of romaine, washed, dried, and chopped
  • 2 - 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped (I use one orange and one yellow)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup garbanzo beans
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 feta, chopped
  1. Throw everything in a large bowl and mix it together!

My Favorite Greek Dressing:
Source: AllRecipes.com
*Note: The quantities are a little weird. This is because the recipe is scaled back from a restaurant recipe that makes like 120 servings.

  • 2/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp onion poweder
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  1. Whisk together all of the ingredients except the olive oil.
  2. Slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking until well blended.

Greek Salad Dressing

Cranberry Almond Granola

I absolutely love granola, but I hardly ever buy it because every time I read the nutrition facts in the store I'm reminded that most granola is full of calories and sugar. I've tried a few granola recipes before and none of them were worth blogging about... until I tried this one.

This granola uses unsweetened applesauce in place of oil, which reduces the calories and makes it a lot healthier. I also used a combination of brown sugar, agave, and a little bit of maple sugar to sweeten it. It's not super sweet oatmeal, so if you're looking for something sweet just add a little more sugar. I adapted the recipe from David Lebovitz, and it uses 1 tablespoon of oil along with applesauce. I'm not sure why, but I went with it anyway. The recipe is really adaptable and it will be my base recipe for granola from now. Next time I think I'll throw in some sunflower seeds and maybe some dried apricots. The flavor combination are endless!

Recipe: Cranberry Almond Granola
Highly Adapted from: David Lebovitz
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled outs
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1/4 light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup agave (I used light), or honey, or maple syrup
  • 2 tbls maple syrup
  • 1 tbls vegetable oil
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries (or other dried fruit)
  1. Preheat the oven to 300F (150C).
  2. In a very large bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, coconut, toasted wheat germ, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
  3. In a small saucepan, warm the applesauce with the agave, maple syrup, and oil.
  4. Mix the applesauce mixture into the dry ingredients until thoroughly dispersed, then divide and spread the mixture evenly on two baking sheets.
  5. Bake the granola for about 45 - 60minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the granola is deep golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven, mix in the dried fruit, then cool completely. Store the granola in a large, airtight container. It will keep for up to one month.

Chewy Chocoalte Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I hope there's no limit to the number of times a food blogger can post a chocolate chip cookie recipe and declare it amazing. Here's another one. This time it's a milk chocolate chip cookie with oatmeal in it. I know the picture makes them look flat and crispy, but these cookies came out so chewy and the oatmeal added some great stability and texture. Ross said he didn't even notice the oatmeal, that they just tasted like really good chocolate chip cookies.

The cookies are pretty straight forward and easy to make. The only advice I have to offer is to take the cookies out of the oven after 10 minutes even if they don't look done! I was REALLY skeptical about taking them out because they still looked doughy and raw, but I let them sit on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes to cook a little more, then transferred to the cooling rack. They were perfect and they stayed chewy for days! Also, I halved the recipe and it came out fine, so if you're looking for a small batch of cookies go head and halve it. I'll post the recipe for the entire batch though.

Side note: If you're wondering why I haven't blogged in a while it's because I took a little vacation to New York for my birthday. I had a great time, ate way too much, and bought some awesome stuff. And even though it was high on my priority list, I somehow did not make it to the Levain Bakery for one of their famous chocolate chip cookies. Oh well, that just gives me a reason to try the copycat recipe that's been floating around the internet. Here's a couple pictures from a baking supply store that I went to. Valrhona chocolate and sprinkle heaven! It's amazing I didn't walk out of there with an entire rainbow of sprinkles in every size and shape. I did get some awesome (gigantic) tips for frosting cupcakes, so you can expect some cupcake recipes soon! I'm thinking mint chocolate chip but if you have any other suggestions, send them my way!

Recipe: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from: Kar in the Kitchen
Makes: About 3 dozen cookies

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 generous teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder together and set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugars until very fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well incorporated.
  3. Add half dry ingredients, mix until incorporated, then repeat.
  4. Stir in oatmeal and chocolate chips.
  5. Drop cookies onto cookie sheet using two spoons or a scoop and bake 9-11 minutes, depending on how done you like them. I prefer to take the cookies out around the 9 or 10 minute mark (they will look underdone) and let them finish cooking on the cookie sheet out of the oven.

Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies

If you know me at all, you should know that when it comes to cookies, I can't leave well enough alone. I have this habit of saying to myself "what else could I could put into this cookie to make it even more over the top"? My best examples: Oreo Cookie Cookies & Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies. Today, I decided to go with butterfingers.

I've been itching to throw butterfingers into a cookie recipe for a while and when I saw this peanut butter cookie, it looked absolutely perfect to me. I was a little skeptical about the recipe because it has a whole tablespoon of baking powder, but it was a David Lebovitz recipe so I decided to trust the man and forge ahead. In the end, I had mixed reactions to this cookie. It was thick and chewy and didn't spread too much which is what I look for in a peanut butter cookie, but I definitely thought it had a bit of a strange aftertaste to it. At first I thought maybe the cookie was too sweet (you know, since I added a bunch of candy to an already sweet dough), but then I thought maybe the aftertaste was coming from the baking powder. It could be too much baking powder, it could be that I need new baking powder, or it could've just been in my head (after all my husband loved these cookies and had no problems scarfing them down). Whatever the case may be, I'm not quite done experimenting with this cookie recipe. I think it has the potential to be a great peanut butter cookie. Next time, I'll skip the butterfingers and bring the baking powder down to a teaspoon.

Peanut Butter Butterfinger cookies:
Source: Adapted from
The Busty Baker, originally from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz
Makes: About 30 Cookies


  • 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 fun size butterfinger bars, chopped
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter, sugars, and peanut butter just until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix just until the dough comes together. Add in the butterfinger and mix together.
  3. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Remove the dough from refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
  4. With racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, preheat to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.
  5. Using a 1-inch cookie scoop or a heaping tablespoon place cookie dough on prepared cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Using the back tines of a fork, make a crosshatch pattern on each cookie, flattening it slightly.
  6. Bake, rotating sheets halfway, until cookies begin to brown at the edges but centers still look slightly uncooked, 9 to 10 minutes. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Spicy Sweet Potato Hash

I absolutely love breakfast foods, but I hardly ever make them. My standard breakfast consists of a bowl of Special K or Multi-grain cheerios. Occasionally, I'll make a bowl of oatmeal, but on most mornings I can't be bothered to put a bowl in the microwave (No judging). So when I had the brilliant idea to make breakfast for dinner last night, I was very excited to try some breakfast recipes that have been lingering in my mind. I made this spicy sweet potato hash and a smoked salmon frittata (recipe coming soon).

This hash was absolutely delicious. It's healthy and flavorful and pretty easy to throw together. It has sweet potatoes, onions, and red peppers. It did involve a lot of chopping, but that can all be done ahead of time. And of course you can chop the pieces to be a bit larger, which will save some time. I, however, have this crazy idea that things taste better when they're chopped smaller (remember, no judging). This, of course, makes making salad a very labor intensive process for me. My salads are exclusively chopped: chopped greek salad, chopped cobb salad, chopped chicken ceasar salad... you get the idea. The bottom line is, whatever size you chop your potatoes, this will still be amazing.

* Note: I read a bunch of different recipes for hashes and some of them had you boil the potato pieces in some water for about 3 - 4 minutes before you put them in the pan with the onions and peppers to make sure they were cooked all the way. I decided to do that, but ultimately came to the conclusion that if you chop your potatoes as small as I did, it's unnecessary. If your pieces are larger, go ahead and boil them first to make sure they are cooked all the way through, but they only need a couple minutes. They should be slightly tender but still hold their shape.

Spicy Sweet Potato Hash
  • 1 tbls vegetable oil
  • 2 - 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped* (See note above)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (add more if you want, I have a low spice tolerance)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  1. Pour the oil into a large skillet and place over high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and saute, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, lower the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender and some are browned. The potatoes will begin to stick as they cook. Just continue to turn with a spatula.

Pretzel Cookies with Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chips

It seems like the culinary world has been slightly obsessed with the salty/sweet combination lately. I keep seeing salted caramel desserts and fleur de sel sprinkled on top of various desserts. I for one, am completely for this. Once I made the infamous NY Times chocolate chip cookie recipe with sea salt sprinkled on top, I was hooked. So when I had a bunch of left over pretzel salt from making soft pretzels, I knew exactly what I would do with it.

These cookies were awesome. I loved what the pretzels added to the cookie. They stayed nice and crispy, which was a great contrast to the chewy cookie. And of course you can't go wrong with milk chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.

I absolutely loved the combination of pretzel, milk chocolate, and peanut butter and I would make these again in a second. The only change I might make next time is to the base cookie recipe. I strayed from my normal recipe because I wanted to find a recipe that made less cookies (strange, I know). This recipe was good, but if you have a favorite cookie recipe feel free to use that instead.

Another note about these cookies is that they did not spread very much for me. The first batch barely spread at all, so I smushed down the second batch a little before putting them in the oven.

Recipe: Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip Pretzel Cookies
Makes 24 cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1/2 cup broken up pretzel pieces
  • Preztel Salt or Sea Salt


  1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a larger bowl, beat the butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). On low speed, slowly add the beaten egg and vanilla extract. Beat to combine, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the flour mixture and beat just until there are no more streaks of flour. Stir in the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and preztels. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out well rounded tablespoonfuls of the dough and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Leave about 2 inches between each ball. Bake for 10 minutes. If you prefer crispier cookies increase the baking time by 1-2 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing.

Chickpea Salad

This has become pretty much my favorite thing ever this summer. I love making it at the beginning of the week and having it to snack on when I get hungry. The chickpeas provide plenty of protein and the olives and feta give it a delicious saltiness.

This salad is really easy to make with whatever you have on hand. I had sun-dried tomatoes that I needed to use up but I think it would also be great with slow roasted cherry tomatoes. Some toasted pine nuts would also make a great addition.

Chickpea Salad
  • 1 can of chickpeas (about 15 oz), rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of artichokes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of feta (I used reduced fat), diced
  • 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbls basil, chopped
  • 1 - 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbls red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbls lemon juice, optional (just add a little vinegar if you don't have lemon)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and stir together. Add salt & pepper to taste. Refrigerate and serve cold or at room temperature.

Butterfly Cupcakes

I saw these cupcakes in this book, Hello Cupcake, a while back but never really had an occasion to make them.... until last Friday that is. My friend was having a party to celebrate Arts Fest that happens every summer in State College. I asked what I could bring and she said "an artsy dessert." Done!

Overall these cupcakes took a little bit of work, but they weren't hard, and they were a lot of fun to make. When I brought these to the party, everyone was really impressed and couldn't believe that I had actually made these.

Here's a rundown of the steps to make the wings:
  1. Get/make a stencil of a butterfly wing to use as your template. I just freehanded mine with the brush tool in Photoshop, then made a word document with 6 sets of wings on 1 page. (See below)
  2. Lay down your template, and put wax paper over it.
  3. Melt the dark cocoa candy melts. I melted them in a bowl then poured the melted chocolate into a squeeze bottle. I found the squeeze bottle was much easier to use when outlining the wing, and making antenna.
  4. Place about 1/2 cup of colored candy melts in a plastic bag. Microwave in 10 second intervals, unsealed, massaging the candy melts in between, until the candy is completely melted and no lumps remain. Press out the excess air in the bag and seal. Push the mixture down to one corner of the bag and snip off a very small corner.
  5. Trace the outline of the wing template with the dark cocoa melted candy. Do the wings one at a time otherwise it will be too set to swirl by the time you have outlined two wings.
  6. Use the bag of colored candy melts to fill in the outline. Be generous, so that it will spread all the way to the sides.
  7. Use a toothpick/chopstick to spread the colored candy to meet the outline.
  8. Use a tooth pick to swirl the edges together slightly to form a pattern.
  9. Sprinkle the top and bottom of each wing with a few white nonpareils.
  10. Repeat this process until you have enough wings. I suggest making a few extra of each color, just in case.
  11. Make antennas. Again, I just freehanded a template.

Note: You may need to remelt the candy a few times during this process. To do this, just pop it back in the microwave for 10 seconds.

Once you are finished making the wings, let them harden. I actually put mine in the fridge for a couple hours because it was HOT out that day! You can definitely make the wings a few days ahead of time if you want.

Once the wings have hardened, frost some cupcakes. Place the wings into the cupcakes leaving about 1/8th of an inch in between them. Use melted chocolate (again in a squeeze is probably easiest) to draw a body to connect the wings. Place the antenna in the cupcake.

I had a heck of a time getting the antenna into the cupcakes without breaking. Again, I blame the humidity. I actually ended up breaking about 10 antenna so make plenty extra. I found that placing the antenna in the freezer helped their stability.

Now, if you've seen these cupcakes before, you'll probably notice that mine look a little flat. That's because it was super hot and humid the day I decided to make these. I tired to get the butterfly to form a V and look a little more 3d but it just wasn't happening so I gave up and settled for flat butterflies. Pretty, flat butterflies.

If you want to see some more butterfly cupcakes and another tutorial check out Annies-Eats. Her tutorial is great and inspired me to try it on my own!

Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Summer Vegetables

This summer, in an effort to eat healthier I've gotten in the habit of making side salads like this to have around the house. I'll make way more than I need, serve some of it as a side dish for dinner, then put the leftovers in the fridge. Salads like this are great cold and I love having them around any time I want something to munch on between meals. It's a lot easier to avoid junk food when you open the fridge and have a healthy, colorful, ready made snack staring you in the face.

(All the grilled veggies, chopped up and ready to get mixed into the couscous)

One great thing about this recipe is that it made me realize that I actually like peppers! I always thought I didn't care for peppers, but it turns out I just don't like green peppers or raw peppers. Marinated and grilled red/orange/yellow peppers are a completely different story! As a matter of fact, a lot of the peppers went straight from the grill to my mouth!

This is a Bobby Flay recipe that I found on FoodNetwork.com. It has great reviews all around and is incredibly adaptable. It's a perfect summer recipe with all those veggies, and it would make a great veggie drawer clean out recipe if you have vegetables that you need to use up before they go bad. I ended up changing it up quite a bit. Here are my notes on the recipe:

  1. I ended up using almost the same amount of veggies as the original recipe, but much less couscous. The recipe calls for 1 pound of couscous and I ended up using about 6.3 oz because that was the only package of israeli couscous I could find. I think it works great better with a higher veggie to grain ratio. The directions for cooking the couscous in the recipe were pretty vague, so just use as much couscous as you want, just follow the directions on the package.
  2. Instead of using water to cook the couscous, use vegetable stock or chicken broth to give it more flavor. I needed about 2 cups of liquid so I used 1 can of chicken broth and a little bit of water to get to 2 cups.
  3. I added feta cheese because... well... feta makes everything feta.
  4. The original recipe calls for asparagus which I'm not really a fan of so I left it out and added an extra pepper instead.
  5. And finally, I'm a complete idiot and somehow managed to forget to add the fresh herbs to the couscous. It's suppose to have basil and parsley in it, which I'm sure would have made the salad even better, but it was still great without it.
Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Summer Vegetables
Recipe: Adapted from FoodNetwork.com

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 green zucchini, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 yellow zucchini, quartered lengthwise
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
  • 1 orange bell pepper, quartered and seeded
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, quartered and seeded
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, chopped
  • 2 tbls basil chiffonade (stack leaves, roll in a cigar shape and cut crosswise into thin strips)
  • 2 tbls cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 package Israeli couscous, prepared according to package directions (See Recipe Notes above)
  • Chicken broth or vegetable stock
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and garlic, slowly add the olive oil and whisk until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour 1/2 the marinade over the vegetables and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat the grill. Remove the vegetables from the marinade and grill the vegetables until just cooked through.
  3. Cut the zucchini and peppers into 1/2-inch pieces, cut the tomatoes in half. Set aside.
  4. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add the couscous and toast until lightly golden brown. Cover the couscous with the hot stock/hot water and bring to a boil, cook until al dente and drain well. Place in a large serving bowl, add the grilled vegetables, feta, and herbs and toss with the remaining vinaigrette. Serve at room temperature

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

Are you ready for the easiest cookie recipe ever? This is it. I feel silly looking back at all the times I've thrown away egg whites when the recipe calls for just yolks. Knowing how easy it is to make meringues pretty much guarantees that no egg white will go unused again!

I'm not gonna go so far as to call this a healthy cookie because there a decent amount of sugar in these, but as far as cookies go these are definitely on the healthy end of the spectrum. They are essentially fat free. No butter, no oil, no egg yolks. Just egg whites and sugar.

If you've never had a meringue before they are hard to explain. The exterior is crackly and crispy but the inside is so light and airy. I love the way it practically dissolves in your mouth when you take a bite.

A few notes about the recipe:
  1. Make sure your egg white are at room temperature. Separate them when they are cold, then let the egg whites sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Temperature. I saw some recipes that said to cook at 200 degrees for a long period of time (1.5 - 2 hours) and some recipes that said to cook at 300 degrees for a shorter period of time. I went right in the middle. I cooked them at 250 for about an hour. Then I turned off the oven and let them sit in the oven for about another hour.
  3. Working with egg whites. Make sure your bowl is very clean and dry, otherwise you will never get your whites to stiffen.
  4. Sugar. The recipe calls for extra fine sugar. I used regular sugar and pulsed it in the food processor for about 30 seconds. Don't overdo it though, you don't want powder.
  5. Chocolate. I used mini chocolate chips and I took a knife to about 1/3 of them and chopped them really really finely. This gave the cookies more a of a speckled look which I liked.
Chocolate Chip Meringues
Recipe: Inspired from SmittenKitchen
  • 3 egg whites room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cups of superfine sugar
  • 6 oz mini chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 200°F.

  2. Beat egg whites until foamy. Add salt, cream of tartar and vanilla, and beat mixture again until it holds soft peaks.

  3. Add the sugar, gradually, beating the batter until it is stiff.

  4. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon batter onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets (or pipe the batter if you want). Bake for 1 hour, rotating the pans half way through cooking. After 1 hour, turn off the oven. Let the meringues sit in the oven for 1 - 2 hours.

Blueberry Muffins with a No Fail Streusel Topping

I've been searching for the perfect blueberry muffin recipe for a while now. I've tried countless recipes on the internet and I've come really close a few times but there was always something off about each recipe I tried. Too dry, too dense, too flavorless, too sweet, not sweet enough. I finally turned to a cookbook that I've had on the shelf for a few years (shocking, I know) and there it was...when I was least expecting it, I found it, the perfect blueberry muffin.

This muffin uses buttermilk and lemon zest to add to the flavor. It is light and perfectly sweet and tastes exactly like a blueberry muffin should. And the streusel on top is just perfect. If you're looking for a recipe to use up some blueberries give this one a try... you won't be disappointed!

Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins with Streusel Topping (Makes 14 Muffins)
Recipe: Adapted from "Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins, & More"
  • 1 recipe of streusel topping (recipe follows)
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup (1 1/3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  1. Prepare the struesel topping (recipe follows).
  2. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Heat teh oven to 375 F. Line fourteen muffin cups with paper or foil cupcake liners.
  3. In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the lemon zest and mix on medium speed until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Add the sugar in a steady stream, then blend in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, dividing the flour into three parts and the buttermilk into two, starting and ending with the flour. mix just until blended after each addition.
  6. Gently fold in half of the blueberries.
  7. Fill each cup about 2/3 full. Place a layer of blueberries evenly over the batter, then place a dollop of batter on top of the blueberries. it's okay for the berries to show. Take a handful of the streusel topping and crumble it over the batter and berries completely covering the tops of the muffins with the crumbs. Press gently to adhere. Brush any stray crumbs from the top of the muffin pans using a small pastry brush.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the streusel topping is golden brown. To ensure even baking, towards the end of baking time, rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.
Struesel Topping
Recipe from: "Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins, & More"
  • 6 - 7 tbls unsalted butter (See note)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbls finely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  1. Place the butter in a 2 qt heavy bottomed saucepan and heat until almost melted; remove from heat and cool to tepid.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and nuts (if using). Add to the butter and stir with a fork until blended and mixture begins to form crumbs. Gently squeeze the mixture with your hand to form larger lumps, then break them apart with your fingertips. Before using, let the streusel stand for 10 to 15 minutes.
Note: Start with 6 tablespoons of butter. If the crumb mixture appears to be too dry or too crumbly add a bit more butter. If the mixture requires additional butter, push some of the crumbs aside and place the butter in the cleared spot. Place the saucepan on low heat, positioning it so that the butter is over the heat.

Tomato, Corn, Avocado Salsa

I'll pretty much eat anything if it has tomato and avocado in it. Now that it's summer and tomatoes are flavorful, plentiful, and cheap I find myself making salsas all the time. This is one of my favorite because it screams summer!
So what do I do with this salsa? Pretty much everything. I've thrown it on top of grilled mahi mahi. I've served it as an appetizer with some blue corn tortilla chips. Last night I served it with black bean quesadillas. And more often than not, I just eat it with a spoon.

The recipe is more of a guideline than a recipe. Feel free to add more jalepeno and onion if you want more heat. My only note: Don't be shy with the salt. All of the ingredients really need it to help their flavor come through.

Corn Tomato Avocado Salsa Recipe
  • 1 1/2 cups of diced tomato (I used about 4 roma tomatoes)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 cup of corn (canned, fresh, or frozen)
  • 1/4 of a small red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 of a jalepeno, seeded and diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbls chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Healthy Zucchini Apple Muffins

After posting about blueberry cheesecake ice cream and smores brownies, I figured I should make something a little healthier. I had some zucchini and apples that I needed to use up so I threw them into a healthy muffin recipe not really sure what to expect. I had 2 zucchini and 2 apples. I couldn't decide if I wanted to grate the apples or dice them, so I grated one and diced the other. I really liked the bites of diced apple running through the muffin. These came out great and I'll definitely be making them again!

This was my first time making a "healthy" muffin, so I still used a little real sugar and real oil. I think next time I make them I would cut the sugar out completely and just use a little more agave or honey. I definitely recommend keeping the walnuts in the recipe. I'm not usually a fan of nuts in muffins, cookies, or brownies, but in this case the walnuts added a really nice texture to the muffin.

Zucchini Apple Muffins
Recipe: Makes about 16 muffins
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 2 cups grated zucchini (squeezed, then packed into a measuring cup) [about 2 medium zucchini]
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated
  • 1 apple, peeled and diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 agave or honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 tbls canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line muffin cups with paper liners. Grate zucchini by hand or using a food processor, then gently squeeze grated zucchini to remove some of the water.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, beat egg, egg white, then add vanilla, sugar, and agave nectar and mix to combine. Stir in the grated zucchini, and apple then the oil and applesauce.
  3. In a smaller bowl, combine AP flour, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Stir dry ingredients into the zucchini mixture, then fold in chopped walnuts and apples.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let muffins cool a few minutes in the muffin tin or cups, then remove and cool a few minutes more.

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Blueberries, cheesecake, and ice cream. Those are pretty much 3 of my favorite things, so naturally I absolutely loved this ice cream. Ross declared it the best ice cream that I've ever made (but to be fair he says that every time I make a new ice cream flavor).

I definitely had my doubts about this recipe. It uses no eggs and gets it cheesecake flavor from a packet of instant cheesecake flavored jello pudding. There is no actual cream cheese in this recipe, but if you tasted it, you wouldn't know. It came out amazing. It was creamy and rich and indulgent, the way ice cream should be!

A couple notes about the recipe:
  1. It makes A LOT of ice cream. You may have to freeze the mixture in 2 batches depending on the size of your ice cream maker.
  2. I used 2% milk for the ice cream and it was fine.
  3. If you wanted to save time you could buy a premade graham cracker crust and crumble that into the ice cream instead of making the graham cracker crust yourself.

Recipe: Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
Adapted from: AllRecipes.com

Blueberry Mixture:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Graham Cracker Mixture:
  • 2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Ice Cream:
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant cheesecake or vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 quart heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in water until smooth. Stir in blueberries and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Stir in butter. Pat into an ungreased 15-in. x 10-in.x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the ice cream ingredients. Fill ice cream freezer cylinder two-thirds full; freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Refrigerate remaining mixture until ready to freeze. Whisk before adding to ice cream freezer (mixture will have some lumps).
  4. Crumble the graham cracker mixture. In a large container, layer the ice cream, graham cracker mixture and blueberry sauce three times; swirl. Freeze.