Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My First Giveaway!

This weekend I decided to go through some of the hundreds of cookbooks in my mom's collection to come up with some new recipes and ideas, mostly for thanksgiving.  When I got to her Paula Deen Collection, I came across 2 of Paula's very first cookbooks.  One was her very first, self published book that she gave to my mom when they were writing her show, Paula's Home Cooking and the other one was her 2nd cookbook that she signed to my mom just before the Food Network agreed to give her a series.   My mom favors these books more then, well, any other.

What I remember from that time was when they were filming the very first episode, Thanksgiving and mom brought home an entire Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake that was left over from filming (the food stylists were so nice, they made me and my sister some extra goodies!).   It wasn't anything anyone in our house ever had before and is now something I bring to my Aunts house every Thanksgiving.  Paula makes them in lots of different flavors but the pumpkin is my favorite.

If it wasn't for Paula Deen, don't think I would have learned how to cook so well (for my age, anyway) because when I have "cooking-block" aka what should I make today,  I still go back to her cookbooks and look for inspiration. 

So, since Thanksgiving is just around the corner I am giving away one of our The Lady & Sons autographed cookbooks signed by Paula!

The book on the left (with the Food Network sign) is after her show got signed and the book on the right is before it got signed! How cool!

Just let me know your favorite Thanksgiving recipe that either you make or someone brings to the feast in the comments to this post and I will pick someone at random!!

Contest closes Tuesday November 3rd  at 9 PM EST!!!! 

With love and cupcakes,

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin cookies. Pumpkin cupcakes. Did you know I love Pumpkin?

Best Time of year...Pumpkin Cookies and Cupcakes!!
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

One of my earliest memories of baking was when I was in nursery school.  Yeah, most kids remember playing with their friends in the playground or finger painting but I remember when we had ‘cooking” in class, which was usually for an upcoming holiday.  After we made our delicious treats, our teacher would send home a photocopy of the recipe just in case we wanted to make it again.  Recently, I came across one of those recipes buried in one of my desk drawers…Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies.

Every time we approach Halloween and then Thanksgiving, I think about these cookies.  Last night, at 1 in the morning when I should have been sleeping, I decided to go downstairs and whip up a batch to see if they are as good as my memory.

Here’s the recipe, its quick, simple and look how delicious they are!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies (For kids of all ages)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray cookie sheets with cooking spray
In electric mixer with paddle attachment—blend 2 sticks of butter with 1 cup packed light brown sugar and 1 cup of white sugar until fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.
Add 1 egg (slightly beaten) and 1 tsp vanilla
In separate bowl—combine2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of quick cooking oats, 1 tsp of baking soda, 1 tsp of cinnamon and ½ tsp salt.
Measure out 1 cup of pumpkin
Alternately add dry/flour ingredients and pumpkin to mixer starting and ending with dry/flour ingredients.
Stir in 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Place by heaping teaspoons onto prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15-18 minutes
Cool on wire rack.

Since I have loved these cookies all my life, would love to hear some feedback if you made them for yourself or your family and what they think.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Pumpkin Cupcakes and More on Betty Crocker I Heart Cereal For Halloween

Today we were supposed to have the team over for dinner but practice and the dinner got postponed and for the first time since school started, I got to come home at 2:30 instead of 7 or 8 PM.  Phew, finally, I can get caught up on my HW and have some time to make a recipe that has to get off my mind.  Now that we stocked up on cans of pumpkin (they were on sale last week) and I already made my pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cupcakes are the next logical step.

I visited the website and blog of where she had a comparison of 3 pumpkin cupcake recipes. The one by David Leite sounded so good and would be easy for me to adapt into this Halloween recipe idea I wanted to experiment with.

First things first—preheat your oven to 350 degrees and place liners in cupcake pans.  This recipe should make 18-24 cupcakes.

Now don’t be frightened, even though Halloween is around the corner before we get into the actual Pumpkin Cupcake recipe we have to make the bottom layer -Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal!

Start with 2 cups of finely processed cinnamon toast crunch cereal. 

Now add 5 Tbs of melted unsalted butter to the cereal and mix with a fork.  Mixture should be moist and hold together when pressed.  If not-add a little more melted butter.

Take one heaping teaspoon and place inside the cupcake liners and press down with your fingers covering the bottom only of the liner.

While you still have the food processor out—chop 1 – 1 ½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Place a heaping teaspoon of the chopped chips on top of the cinnamon toast crust and bake in oven for 5 minutes.

Let cool on counter while you prepare the cupcake mixture.

Beat 1 stick of butter with 1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar and ½ cup of white sugar for 5 minutes on medium speed.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt into a medium bowl.
Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time into the butter/sugar mixture and beat.
Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla to half a cup of buttermilk.  (I used powdered buttermilk by adding 2 tablespoons of powder to my dry ingredients and then added the vanilla to ½ cup of water)
Alternate adding the flour and milk (water) mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour.
Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.
Pour evenly into cupcake liners till they are about ¾ full.

Sprinkle remaining chopped chocolate on top of cupcakes and Sprinkle remaining Cinnamon toast crunch cereal mixture on top of cupcake. 

Bake at 350 for 19-24 minutes


I have some left over chocolate frosting from Friday when I baked for the football team, recipe is coming, I promise…so that’s what I am going to top these with.

Pumpkin Cookies and Pumpkin Cupcakes...maybe they go together?

Not as cute as when Bakerella did it... :(

With love and cupcakes,

 The Recipes: 

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookie Recipe:

  1. 2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 1 cup Quick cooking oats
  3. 1 tsp Baking Soda 
  4. 1/2 tsp salt
  5. 1 tsp cinnamon
  6. 1 cup pumpkin
  7. 1 cup (2 sticks margarine or Butter) 
  8. 1 cup packed light brown sugar (for a richer/darker cookie use dark brown sugar)
  9. 1 cup sugar
  10. 1 egg slightly beaten
  11. 1 tsp vanilla
  12. 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray cookie sheets with cooking spray 
  2. In electric mixer with paddle attachment—blend 2 sticks of butter or margarine with 1 cup packed light brown sugar and 1 cup of white sugar until fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. 
  3. Add 1 egg (slightly beaten) and 1 tsp vanilla
  4. In separate bowl—combine2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of quick cooking oats, 1 tsp of baking soda, 1 tsp of cinnamon and ½ tsp salt.
  5. Measure out 1 cup of pumpkin
  6. Alternately add dry/flour ingredients and pumpkin to mixer starting and ending with dry/flour ingredients.
  7. Stir in 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  8. Place by heaping teaspoons onto prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15-18 minutes
  9. Cool on wire rack.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Pumpkin Cupcake Recipe
Chocolate Crunch Bottoms Recipe:


  1. 2 cups cinnamon toast crunch cereal, (finely crushed in food processor or blender)
  2. 5 Tablespoons Unsalted butter, Melted
  3. 1 - 1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate--chopped (in food processor)

  1. Add 5 Tbs of melted unsalted butter to the crushed cereal and mix with a fork until all combined. Mixture should be moist and hold together when pressed.  If not-add a little more melted butter.
  2. Take one heaping teaspoon and place inside the cupcake liners and press down with your fingers covering the bottom only of the liner.
  3. While you still have your mini chopper out—chop 1 – 1 ½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  4. Place a heaping teaspoon of the chopped chips on top of the cinnamon toast crust and bake in oven for 5 minutes.Let cool on counter while you prepare the cupcake mixture.
Pumpkin Cupcakes Recipe:  (adapted from David Leite via Smitten Kitchen)

Please note:  I omitted the pepper, cloves and ginger from the original recipe on Smitten Kitchen, didn’t think it would go with all the extra ingredients I was using.  And frankly, I don’t think I am a fan of black pepper in my cupcakes.  What are your thoughts about pepper and cupcakes?


  1. 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. 1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  3. ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  4. 2 cups cake flour
  5. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  6. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  7. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  8. ½ teaspoon salt
  9. 2 large eggs
  10. ½ cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
  11. 1¼ cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° (175°C). Line a cupcake pan with 24 liners.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into a medium bowl.
  3. Add the eggs 1 at a time to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth. Divide the batter equally between the cups. (They’ll be about ¾ full.) Rap the filled pans once on the counter to release any air bubbles.
  4. Sprinkle remaining Chocolate and cereal mixture on top of cupcake.  Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 19 to 24 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

An Apple a Day

Apples have been a part of my diet ever since I had the teeth to chew them. On average I have about 1-2 apples a day, one for breakfast, on school days, and another with lunch. I really love them. My favorites are royal gala and Fuji apples. One super-simple apple recipe consists of peeling and chopping an apple and tossing it into a saucepan with some sugar (or Splenda), cinnamon and about a tablespoon or two of water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the apples are soft and tender.  I absolutely love having this after dinner on those chilly fall nights when my homework just doesn't seem to end.  In my AP US History class, we did a group project of life in an American city in the early 1900's.

I needed to bring in some sort of food that was typically American—Apple Pie came to mind right away. I needed to make the pie to feed about 20 people and was becoming increasingly nervous because I never, ever made a homemade apple pie and apple pie for 20 sounded impossible. My original plan was to just buy an apple pie or two from the farm in my town but then I remembered seeing mini pies on Bakerella and knew I had to make those and they didn't seem TOO difficult. So instead I went to the A&P and bought 2 Pillsbury ready pie-crusts, they come 2 in a box, so then I had 4 crusts. I wanted to make the pies more homemade and tastier; I mean I did want to impress my teacher. Everyone knows the way to a man's heart (aka his grade book) is through his stomach!

Since I always have lots of apples in my house, I grabbed 7 of the royal galas and peeled, cored and placed them in a large bowl of water with a few teaspoons of lemon juice so they didn’t turn brown while I was prepping the others.These were going to be mini apple pies so the apples needed to be super mini.

In a large skillet on medium heat, melt half stick of butter. Add the diced apples, 1 cup of sugar, ½ cup light brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to the skillet. I know that’s a lot of sugar, but these have to be sweet because they need to pack a punch in between the 2 seemingly bland dough circles.

Taste the mixture along the way and reduce or add more sugar as works with your taste buds. I even sprinkled a little more white and brown sugar after tasting.Increase to medium high heat; cook, tossing occasionally, until apples are tender—add a teaspoon of corn starch and cook until apples are soft and liquid is both evaporated, and thickened, about 15 minutes.

Spread out to cool on a baking dish or in a bowl (as shown) and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 and place parchment paper on 2 cookie sheets. Take 2 egg whites and mix in a cup, set aside.

I laid out some wax paper, sprinkled some flour and placed the Pillsbury pie crust dough on the flour, sprinkling on both sides made the dough easy to handle. There is no need to roll out thinner because the circle come the perfect thickness. Take a 2-inch circle cookie cutter and start cutting. Each crust (there were 4 as I said above due to my amazing math skills) made about 12-15 circles, which was more then enough for my class.

Place a circle on a cookie sheet and position the lollipop stick but before you press down on it, take your egg white mixture and put some under the stick to help make it sticks and press down to secure. Don't press too hard or you might mush the dough.

Then take a heaping teaspoon full of cooled apple mixture and place in center over stick.
Lollipop sticks are not necessary but they are super cute! And it is 10 times harder to resist something on a stick!

Brush egg white around edge of dough (I couldn't find my brush, actually I haven't found it since 1999, when I was 6, because yes I did bake then) so I just used a paper towel.

Place a second circle of dough on top carefully pressing down around edges using a second lollipop stick. First secure tightly the edges on both sides of the stick. The go around and secure/decorate the edges making indents along the side with the stick. Once the edges are secured brush with egg white mixture and make sure to brush the sides to ensure that the edges are completely closed. This will also give the pies a bit of color when they cook.

Sprinkle with some sugar.

I was able to fit 7 pies on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.

 Cool on a wire rack.

  Once COMPLETELY cool wrap in the pretty lollipop wrappers with colorful twist ties. How cute!?

This is I at school during the presentation—how nerdy do I look, I'm supposed to
be Jane Addams, co-founder of the Hull House.

Oh yeah—forgot to mention this. With the scraps of the dough and leftover apple
mixture I decided to make micro mini apple pies in my mini cupcake pan. I took
all the scraps, rolled them out on the floured wax paper and cut out circles
again with the same cutter.

Placing them in the cupcake pan. I added the mixture and then had to lift them out to decorate the tops.

Some I crossed hatched and some of did a mini basket weave for but most of the I covered with a circle and cut a latch on top for the steam to escape. Make sure to add some egg whites and sugar so they brown and bake for 12-15 minutes at 375.

These actually came out better then expected and my dad loved them too! Whether you make the pops or the micro mini pies give one a try, its apple season and remember…an apple a day.


Makes about 25-28 Pie Pops
  1. 2 packages of Pillsbury Pie Crust (in refridgerator section)
  2. 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter (about half a stick)
  3. 3 pounds Gala or Fuji apples (about 6 or 7), peeled, cored and diced
  4. 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar plus 3 tablespoons
  5. 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  6. 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  7. 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  8. 2 egg whites, gently mixed
  1. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium; to skillet, add apples, 1 cup sugar, light brown sugar, and cinnamon. Increase hear to medium-high; cook, tossing occasionally, add 1 teaspoon cornstarch and cook until apples are tender and liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Spread filling on a rimmed baking sheet or bowl; let cool completely.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees; line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a lightly floured work surface, unfold pie crust; dust both side with flour.
  3. With a 2-inch round cookie cutter punch out as many circles as you can.
  4. Place one circle on a prepared cookie sheet (with parchment paper)
  5. Position lollipop stick and paint egg white mixture under the stick, gently press the stick in place.
  6. Place a heaping teaspoon full of cooled appler mixture in center of crust.
  7. Brush egg white around edges.
  8. Place second circle on top and position in place, gently pressing down to deal the sides (first with fingers)
  9. Use a lollipop stick to press down the edges and add a decorative border.
  10. Brush with egg white mixture.
  11. Sprinkle tops with sugar (the 3 tablespoons you set aside earlier)
  12. Bake until golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Cool a wire rack and least 15 minutes before serving. The pies will not brown if you don't brush with the egg white mixture
I also tried making this apple cake last week when we were invited to my neighbors house across the street. It looked pretty and tasted good as well. However the edges were a little dry and I'm not sure why. I think I messed up the conversion of all-purpose flour to cake flour. If you have any suggestions let me know!! Maybe a buttery crumble on top?

Mom’s Apple Cake

  1. 6 apples, Mom uses royal gala apples
  2. 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  3. 5 tablespoons sugar
  4. 2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
  5. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 cup vegetable oil
  8. 2 cups sugar
  9. 1/4 cup orange juice
  10. 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  11. 4 eggs
  12. 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
  2. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla.
  4. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
  5. Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.

With love and cupcakes,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vermonster and Halloween!

Because it's Thursday. Because my game was cancelled. And because I'm eating pumpkin cookies and coffee, I am going to show you guys a little more about me.

You guys know that I'm sixteen years old and that I love to bake...obviously. But did you know that I ate a vermonster?! Say what? Yes a Vermonster. A Vermonster is twenty scoops of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, 4 ladles of hot fudge, whipped cream, 3 cookies and a choice of 4 toppings. I also rememeber it having a banana but maybe they've change it since I ate it last summer.
6 girls beat 6 guys in how fast we could eat a Vermonster. That's a little sad for the guys, but it could be because a lot of it ended up on us rather then in our bellies?

That's me "chugging" some of the ice cream as it began to melt. I'm actually very proud of this accomplishment!

There's something about a Vermonster which just makes me think of Halloween. Maybe its the amount of sugar or the fact that monsters are halloween-y.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays…after all it’s all about dressing up, candy and making fun desserts! As you may or may not know my mom was one of the creators of the series Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee on Food Network and many years ago, when I was just 11, they shot one of the episodes on my street because we have a small, historic grave site on our block and my mom thought it would be fun to film the beginning and the end of the episode there.
The best part is that she let me and some of my friends be in the show! The episode airs again on Foodnetwork, October 21st at 2pm est, check it out if you want to catch a glimpse of me as a munchkin!

I've been extremely busy between school work and the County Tournament for Field Hockey but I have been baking! Just not posting as often as I would like. I will be posting lots of Halloween and Pumpkin recipes as well as Apple Pies on a stick, Chocolate chip cupcakes, Grandmas Cheesecake, Oreo Brownies and many more...

Stay tuned for some really yummy recipes and keep in touch and let me know if you see the episode and if you recognize me!

With love and cupcakes,

Friday, October 9, 2009

Better Crocker Spooktacular: Reese's Cake Balls!

As soon as I heard of the I Heart Cereal for Halloween on the Betty Crocker's website – there wasn’t even a hesitation what to make—Reese's Cake Pops!

Now you know how much I love making cake balls, cake pops and cupcake pops—thanks Bakerella for introducing me to this great idea! Everyone in my town begs me to make them whenever there is an event going on. This week alone I made some for a Field Hockey Dinner, a friend that was home from college for the weekend and my good friends 17th birthday party (Happy Birthday Katie!). All of them were red velvet and cream cheese since that seems to be the favorite so far. But yesterday when one of my team mates mom asked if I could make them for the Field Hockey dinner she is hosting next Monday night I couldn’t turn her down. I then came up with an ingenious idea that I can't believe I did not think of before...chocolate and peanut butter cake balls, like the muddy buddies I usually make for the dinners. So I put my homework aside and asked my mom to take me to the store to pick up a box of Reese's Puffs cereal and a box of Betty Crocker Super Moist Devils Food cake mix ASAP.

Make the cake according to the package directions, eggs, water and oil—I baked it in a 13x9 baking pan sprayed with cooking spray. Let it rest for 10 minutes, once it is removed from oven then flip it out of the pan and let it cool on a wire rack. Since it has to cool completely it is a good idea to make this the night before.

Once the cake is completely cooled, cut off half the cake and save or freeze for another cake ball day.

Take the remaining half of cake and crumble in food processor. Yes, I got a food processor, well I got a small chopper but still it’s so cool! It holds about a cup or two and is perfect for everyday usage.

Then take 3 cups of Cereal and mix in processor until almost smooth but still leave some “crunchy” pieces. Add to crumbled cake and stir.

Meanwhile, make 2 batches of the muddy buddy choco-nutter mixture (2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips, ½ cup Peanut Butter and 1 stick of unsalted butter.) Microwave for 1 minute and stir in a teaspoon of vanilla….and stir again until its all shiny and mixed together.

Add ¾ of the choco-nutter mixture to the Cake/Cereal mixture and blend in with a fork. Add more chocolate mixture if cake is still dry and not sweet enough. You can give it a taste here and if you want you can blend in 1/3 - ½ cup confectioner sugar, if you like it sweeter. I added less than 1/3 of a cup.

Now for the fun part, roll the cake and cereal batter into balls and place on cookie sheet covered in wax paper. Place in freezer for 30 minutes or over night in air tight container.

When ready to decorate, microwave white chocolate candy melts according to directions—I did it for 45 seconds and then gave it a stir. Dip the tip of a lollipop stick into the chocolate and then place into the cake ball to secure it. This step seems menial but actually it prevent the cake innards from seeping out.

haha innards...gets me every time. Now roll the ball into the white chocolate.

I had a multitude of ideas for Halloween inspired decorating.

First were skulls, they looked really cute and not too scary (which is good!) To do this melt some dark or milk chocolate to use for the face. I used a toothpick to decorate but I think you could also use a Wilton bag and tip to be more accurate.

I also tried eyeballs on forks. I thought of the typical spaghetti and eyeballs (not meatballs) and they looked adorable. To make these just stick a cake ball on a fork and dip into the white candy melts. Then use a chocolate chip (cut the tip off) as the pupil and decorate with red food gel.

P.S. Since I wasn’t sure how much muddy buddy mixture to add, and this was just a test run…I made 3 batches but only used 2 so I took half the cereal/cake balls, covered them by hand in the chocolate mixture and tossed them into a bag of powdered sugar. Now when I tell you that these are amazing I am not exaggerating! My mouth is watering as I think about them. I brought these to practice and the girls LOVED them just as much, some people had as many as three! They wondered how I even thought of such a good idea.

My hands got very messy rolling the balls in the chocolate mixture, don't tell anyone but I enjoyed making the mess!

With love and cupcakes,



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