Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

It’s a recipe for fall, y’all! It’s been a while since I’ve posted…anything. I started two other special posts which have both been patiently waiting to be finished and published, but work kinda took over while I was traveling so I’ll get ’em up this week. Promise!

What’s up next? So glad you asked! Two new “TOP 5” posts: one is on my top five travel tips, while the other is on my top five tips for those of you considering blogging. Stay tuned!

Snow!I’m really excited to share both of those, but just for today I had to start with this bad boy of a post in honor of a perfecly snowy Sunday here in Oklahoma! We only got a little snow…but of the little we got – it was enough to inspire the crazy wannabe baker in me to get started. I felt compelled to bake something pumpkin-like with the cans of pumpkin puree lining the aisles at the local grocery store, the fire in our fireplace, and the simple fact that I’m home. Home home home.

I love being home.

I found a recipe that deliveres a perfect little dose of pumpkin as my favorite season of autumn comes to a close: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. High fives for this post goes out to Marg from food.com – thanks for the recipe!

Now, I’ll have you know that before I left for my last two week stretch of work-travel back East, I put on my fancy pants and actually made pumpkin puree from scratch. Like, from an actual pumpkin…not a can. Totally did! I was so proud of myself. I followed the instructions from my favorite Oklahoma homecook, Ree Drummond. Check out how to make it from scratch here: Homemade Pumpkin Puree.

I made it, froze it, and when I came back from my trip it was gone. Gone. I was devistated. No wonder Justin Timberlake wrote a song about it. Gone. It’s heartbreaking to make something from scratch and then have to start over when you’re toooootally not in the mood. It wasn’t Sean’s fault, btw. Just for the record – there was an issue with our new fridge/freezer’s power while I was gone and the poor guy had to throw everything out and buy new stuff. Sooooo those cans of pumpkin puree were lookin’ pretty good today.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients

2 Eggs (the picture above looks like 3, but 1 was a double yolk…so I just went with it!)

1 cup – Sugar

1/2 can (8 oz) – Pumpkin Purree

1 & 1/4 cups – Canola or Veg Oil

1/2 tsp – Vanilla Extract

1 tsp – Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp – Baking Powder

1 tsp – Baking Soda

1/2 tsp – Salt

6-8 oz – Semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

*Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

STEP 1:

Mix the eggs, pumpkin puree, vanilla, and oil into a bowl until it’s nice and smoooooooth lookin’.

STEP 2:

Then add the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

STEP 3:

Easy, right? Then the flour…in stages. Dumping it in all at once means that you will be wearing most of the flour. Ain’t no time for that. So add it in slowly, but steadily. It’ll look like this: Steps 1 and 2

STEP 4:

Then, remove the whisk/paddle/whatever if you’re using an electric mixer, and make sure you fold in the chocolate chips with a spoon/spatula.

STEP 5:

I’m a HUGE fan of these parchment paper wrappers. They’re so easy. Now, this recipe calls for about 15 muffins but I wasn’t about to use two different trays, so I just made all 12 a little larger and it worked out beautifully. So, either spray or greeze the pan or fill the paper cups about half way. IMG_7821

STEP 6:

Into the oven they go for about 20 minutes or less! 20 minutes was great for these rockstars since I filled ’em pretty well.

STEP 7:

Let them cool for about 5 minutes and enjoy!!! IMG_7846

Boom. Delicious muffins prepared, baked, and enjoyed in under an hour.

Happy baking!

 

A Tale of Two Muffins

This morning I woke up, made myself a cup of coffee, and watched the 8:30 a.m. episode of The Pioneer Woman – pretty standard Saturday morning so far. Ree made her precious family  some cinnamon sugar muffins to kick off some hard work on their beautiful Oklahoma farm. And then it happened. My eyes widened…my caffeine-induced energy spiked…and I wanted to bake. There was no stopping me. I turned to Sean…

Me: So I wanna bake something. I think muffins.

Sean: Chocolate chip and banana.

Me: No bananas.

Sean: Chocolate chip and cinnamon.

Me: Hmmmm….I was thinking about apple cinnamon. I’m pretty sure I want apple cinnamon.

Sean: Chocolate chip…and….chocolate chip…….chocolate…….chip.

Hehe. He’s pretty cute. But oohhh it was ON! Who was gonna win this battle? Luckily – brilliance stepped in.

I researched a few simple apple cinnamon recipes scattered online and decided to adjust the basics to my own variation for the batter and then split it into two separate bowls right before adding the final key ingredient. Problem solved! One dozen muffins – 6 apple cinnamon, 6 cinnamon chocolate chip.

As Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, says, “Here’s the cast of characters:

Flour – 1 1/2 cups

White Sugar – 1/2 cup

Light Brown Sugar – 1/4 cup

Baking Powder – 1 1/2 teaspoons

Ground Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

Ground Nutmeg – 1/8 teaspoon (or…just 3-5 sprinkles if it has a filter)

Milk – 1/2 cup

Unsalted Butter (melted) – 1/2 cup

Salt – 1/4 teaspoon

1 Egg (slightly beaten)

1 Apple (pealed, cored, and diced up into little cubes)

1/2 cup of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Penzeys Spices

I’ve gotta add a little shout out here to my girl Jeanne for her contribution to this recipe. For my 30th birthday back in February she and her husband, Travis, gave me some AMAZING Penzeys spices. You better believe I packed these bad boys up carefully when we moved from MD to OK last month. It was time to break out the Penzeys nutmeg and cinnamon for today’s little tale. Jeanne’s fellow blogger who loves to try new recipes, so be sure to check out her delicious recipes here: Jeanne’s Kitchen!

And there you have it! The entire “cast of characters” needed for my own little adjusted recipe for 6 apple cinnamon muffins and 6 cinnamon chocolate chip muffins. Be sure to PRE-HEAT your oven to 375 degrees. Now, here’s how “the tale of two muffins” unfolded:

STEP 1

Combine the flour, white sugar, light brown sugar, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon and nutmeg together in a bowl/mixer.

STEP 2

Add in the milk, melted butter, and slightly beaten egg to the dry ingredients. Stir slowly, or have the mixer on low. Combine until it looks all fabulous…like this:

6O9C1944

STEP 3

Are you on the edge of your seat!?! Here’s where the magic happens. Separate the batter evenly into two bowls. In one bowl add as much chocolate chips as you’d like. In the other, yes – very good, add the diced up cubes of apple. I didn’t use the whole apple by the way. I only really used like, half of it. You can use as much as you’d like…but be mindful of how the apple will create way more moisture in the muffins depending on how much you add.

STEP 4

Grease or spray a 12-cup muffin pan. Fill 6 with the apple cinnamon batter and the other 6 with the chocolate cinnamon batter. Then, into the oven it goes for 18 minutes.

6O9C1974STEP 5

Check on them periodically, but 18 minutes at 375 degrees should definitely do the trick. Take them out and let them sit for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt a tablespoon of butter and brush it over ONLY the six apple cinnamon muffins. Then…sprinkle over a little sugar! Tehe!

STEP 6

Woooohoooo! Enjoy. We sure did. We each thought our original preference was the best. Sean loved the Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins, while I loved the Apple Cinnamon Muffins.

6O9C1990

6O9C1991

6O9C1995

The beauty of this recipe is that you can add anything to it. There are so many possible variations to the key ingredient that you could play around with, like…blueberries with a little lemon or orange zest thrown in there? Heck yeah! Or maybe go a little crazy during the holidays and make some white chocolate chip and cranberry muffins with this batter. Ooohhhh the possibilities 🙂

Happy baking, friends!

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

There are a lot of cookie recipes out there competing for our love, praise, and affection. I actually thought about that last night as I watched the dramatic season finale of The Bachelorette (part 1) unfold. Yes, I watch The Bachelorette. NO JUDGING! I don’t even care how staged and scripted it is….it’s just so addicting! I never really watched any of the previous seasons before, but now I’m hooked. Ben was creepy. James was fake. Anyone else think Des would’ve been great with Zak? Drew’s weird. Chris is okay, and he’s from my favorite city (Seattle!). And what the heck, Brooks?! So many thoughts.

Mid-commercial, I just had to get up and get a cookie.

Cookie recipes and The Bachelorette kinda have a lot in common if you think about it. I’m serious! You know that most, but not all, of the recipes out there are going to give you a delicious chocolate chip cookie when you’re done. But which recipe is going to melt your heart….huh? Which recipe is going to “MARRY” (…hehe) those flavors in harmony? Is there enough…chemistry….(I’m on a roll!) with the ingredients? Okay I’ll stop.

Ingredients!

So what’s a girl to dooo!?

How do I choose among all of these mouthwatering recipes? Well, I got a little crazy – I made my own recipe. I love to research a ton of recipes out there to get a sense of ratios (I’m still learning) and then I have a little fun. This is what I came up with, and it TOTALLY worked! Sean (NOT a Bachelorette fan, by the way) really loved them and went back for more. WIN!!!

Here’s the recipe:

*Pre-heat your oven for 350 degrees

1 & 1/2 cups – Light Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) – Butter, softened (please ignore how the photo has 2 sticks…not sure how that other guy got in there!)
1 & 1/4 teaspoon – Vanilla Extract
1 – Large Egg
1 teaspoon – Salt
1/8 teaspoon – Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon – Cinnamon
1 teaspoon – Baking Soda
1 & 1/2 cups – Unbleached Flour
2 cups – Instant Oats
1 & 1/2 cups (less than1 bag) – Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Step 1:

Mix the brown sugar and butter together.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Step 2:

Keep the mixer on low, and add in the vanilla extract, egg, nutmeg, cinnamon, and baking soda.

Vanilla Extract

Step 3:

Replace the whisk with a more durable stir…er…(is there a better title for that?). Then, add the flour…stir slowly….then the oats….stir slowly….then stop.

Unbleached Flour

Instant Oats

Step 3:

Add the BEST part of this recipe!!!!!!! But stir it in by hand with a wooden spoon, otherwise the mixer will begin taking on a life of its own.

Hmmmmm

Best part!!!

6O9C9278

Step 4:

Roll each piece to the size of a golf ball, and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Then into the oven they go! About only 10 minutes should do the trick. Sorry…I don’t have photos of this part because Sean’s camera ran out of battery. You get the idea!

They were out of this world. If you want to see how delicious they looked, check it out and follow me on Instagram! Any favorite cookie recipes of your own? Comment and let me know!

Happy baking.

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

The most amazing dessert was just made, admired, and devoured. Made it from scratch. TOTALLY DID! Oh my golly. Hello happiness. Lemme set the stage real quick:

It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon over here in Maryland. Poor Sean has worked 75+ hours this past week, and is so relieved to have a weekend at home. We’ve run errands all morning, and as usual I’m crazy eager to bake something. Baking and cooking is on my mind constantly; especially now that I work for the world’s premiere culinary college: the CIA (www.ciachef.edu!!!). I’m so eager to learn everything I can about our world’s inspiring and ever-changing culinary industry. Soooo I’m thinkin this beautiful afternoon at home with my hubby is a perfect excuse to whip up a mid-afternoon treat for us.

Hands down – this is the best dessert I’ve ever made: chocolate molten lava cake. I researched recipes out there, and this one looked like a great choice: http://www.glorioustreats.com/2013/02/chocolate-molten-lava-cakes.html. Serious high fives go to “Glorious Treats” for this inspiration! I adjusted the recipe just a bit. Here it is below:

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

You’ll need:

  • 8 ounces of Chocolate ~ I recommend 4 ounces of Bittersweet and 4 ounces of Semisweet
  • 10 tablespoons of Butter
  • 1/2 cup of Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of Powdered Sugar
  • 6 eggs total ~ then put 3 eggs in a bowl, followed by 3 eggyolks in a separate bowl
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla
  • 4 to 5 Ramekins ~ these are oven-safe custard dishes 

Once you’ve got the ingredients armed and ready for this delicious creation…get ready for the easiest next steps you’ve ever experienced:

Step 1:

Melt the butter & chocolate together. You can totally just throw them in a bowl and microwave, but what’s the fun in that? No thank you…I’m in the mood to feel fancy. In which case – I like to melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler. So – ya just boil some water and place a bowl of the chocolate and butter overtop of it. This carefully melts it all together, and more importantly, the melting process with this method is way more gentle than the microwave.

Step 2:

Once the chocolate and butter looks good enough to swim in (…but please, don’t do that…) then it’s ready for Step 2! Simply just add the chocolate + butter liquid to the powdered sugar and flour in a mixer. Mix that in well, then add the eggs and vanilla. Let it do it’s thing from there until it’s all well mixed in evenly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Step 3:

Pour the batter evenly into each ramekin. This recipe calls for 6-8 individual ramekins…but I think 5 works better. I got a little pour-happy and ended up with 4. As long as you don’t over pour (which I did for one of them) then it’ll turn out beautifully. Pour each of them about 3/4 full, and them carefully place them in the center of your oven at 475 degrees for about 13 to 14 minutes.

Step 4:

Once they’re out…get ready because timing is EVERYTHING with this dish. I simply took a plate, placed it upside down over the cake, flipped it over and then gently slid off the ramekin so the cake rested upside down in the center of the plate. Dust it with some left over powdered sugar, and HOLD ON because this will be the GREATEST THING YOU’VE EVER TASTED!!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sean and I sat there in the happiest daze as we tasted each bite. I made four because I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out. It was his idea to drizzle the chocolate syrup on top over the powdered sugar…pretty smart man, huh? It was so delicious.

Now go make them!

Happy Saturday 🙂

For the love of Chocolate

Chocolate. There are a few people out there who don’t like it or care for it…and that’s……well, that’s…fine. I’m just not one of them. I was the little girl who would sneak an enormous chocolate chip cookie in her mouth right before dinner, hoping her parents wouldn’t see (oh and they did…I wasn’t very good at being sneaky). I just love chocolate. It’s so classic, so smooth, and such a special treat to humanity!

Two things happened this weekend:

1) I made this recipe for the 2nd time this week: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-chocolate-chip-cookies-i 

2) Sean and I joined a gym.

We love food, we love to cook, we love sweets, we love using our money wisely, and we love being active. As much as we love food, as gloomy as the weather has been lately, and as young as we are – there’s no reason why we can’t take better care of ourselves by investing in a good gym. So yesterday we jumped in the car and met with a representative at the Silver Spring Washington Sports Club to sign up. Special shout out to Nolan for being fantastic! She enthusiastically brought us on board and answered any questions we had about our new commitment. I’ve missed feeling active, feeling like my muscles are awake and ready for whatever adventure is next. Having these classes back in my life will be so sensational:

Group Classes at Washington Sports Club | Silver Spring

More than anything, making the conscious decision as a “newlie” married couple to maintain our health together meant the world to me. It was SO fun to hop around the gym from one machine to the next with my handsome cutie-pie of a husband smiling back at me. He even taught me a thing or two about boxing. Apparently I have a pretty rockin right hook. Is that what it’s called? A right hook? I don’t remember. Whatever, it was really fun. I’m no rockstar, but you might not want to deprive me of chocolate any time soon. Hehe…kidding.

One more thing about how fun being back in the gym was, and then I’ll get to describing the double chocolate cookie recipe. When I was on the eliptical machine I had set it for 20 minutes, but thanks to the little TV attached, I ended up pushing it to 35 minutes because the movie “Charlie’s Angels” was on. LOVE that movie. I wanted to keep watching, and as Lucy Lu, Cameron Diaz, and Drew Barrymore were taking care of business I kept cranking up the speed as if I was an “Angel” myself. Before I knew it, I burned a ton of calories and still felt fantastic. Pretty effective, those TV’s!

Okay, now for the cookies back home in my kitchen. Like I said, I made this recipe twice this week already. It’s really unhealthy, but hey, that’s why we joined a gym. The official recipe that I used can be found here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-chocolate-chip-cookies-i, but below is my own little documentation of how these cookies from heaven are created:

Ingredients - Double Choc CookiesYou’ll need: salt, cocoa powder, a stick of butter (ya scared yet?), a bag of chocolate chips (but a bag is almost too much…I’d use like 3/4 of the bag), 2 eggs, vanilla extract (mmmm, love the smell of vanilla), baking soda, sugar, flour, and I’d recommend a good mixer. LOVE MY KITCHEN AID MIXER!!! Here we go:

Step 1Beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and butter (pre-softened) so that it gets all fluffy. Then add in the cocoa, flour, salt, and baking soda. It’ll start to get pretty thick and tough, so I usually switch the kitchen aid whisk with a more durable utensil so that it doesn’t get stuck and un-stirred in the center.

Then…add…more chocolate. Again, a bag is (was) too much, so just use about 3/4 of the bag or even maybe half the bag.  Isn’t it beautiful already?!?!

Olivia Thanksgiving 2012-47Once it’s all mixed together, and the pre-heated oven has reached 350 degrees, ball up the dough so that you’ll have close to 2 dozen cookies (I use two un-greased cookie sheets). Keep an eye on them as they’ll cook pretty fast, but it depends on how large you make the cookies. The first time I cooked them, they were ready in 10 minutes. This 2nd time needed a good 15 minutes.

CookingAnd then……when you have them out, cooled, and ready for devouring – get the glass of milk ready. It’s for sure a heavenly combination.

Double Chocolate Cookies

Happy deliciousness.