With Sweet Dreams and Even Sweeter Days

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pumpkin Cranberry Cupkins


I thought long and hard about what to name these little guys.

For all intensive purposes, they look like muffins.

And more than a few people would be completely happy with just calling them that... and then calling it a day.

But when we take a step back and realize one of the main (and very few) ingredients in them is cake mix.... muffins just wasn't going to fly.

Cupcakes was definitely out.  They're not iced, there is fruit in them, and they were gladly eaten for breakfast.  Not that I would tell you there was anything wrong with finding reason to have a cupcake for breakfast either.

Which lead me to come up with some pretty awful alternatives, the least of which being Cupkins.

A part of me loves it and a part of me hates it.





























But 100% of me adores these, regardless of what you call them.


They are absolute breeze to whip up and with a few simple ingredients and no added fat outside of dry cake mix, we can definitely call them healthy.


If you're still looking for a simple breakfast after the madness that was Thanksgiving cooking, consider these.  Because really less time in the kitchen means more time with the people that matter, and it doesn't get much better than that.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving I hope your holiday was relaxing, special, and most of all filled with great food and people.  Now bring on the holidays!  Cheers!


Pumpkin Cranberry Cupkins
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Servings: 8-10 Cupkins

Ingredients:
- 1/2 box Vanilla or Yellow Cake mix
- 7.5 oz pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 egg white, beaten until frothy
- 1/2-3/4 cup fresh cranberries
- 2-3 Tbsp water (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a muffin tin with baking spray (or line with paper cups).  Stir together cake mix and pumpkin in a medium bowl.  Add the water to loosen things up a bit if you'd like.  Gently stir egg whites and cranberries into the mixture.  Spoon into prepared muffin tin.  Bake for 22-25 minutes or until centers spring back when lightly touched.  Cool and enjoy.


Recipe adapted from: Bake at 350





Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Toasted Coconut Marshmallows


As most of you probably already know, those here on the east coast got hit pretty badly from Hurricane Sandy.

For all intensive purposes my area got off easy, but watching our beloved Jersey Shore get destroyed and hearing about the trouble New Jersey and New York are still in with power outages was and is still horrible.  Our thoughts go out to them completely.

In preparing for what people around here were calling Frankenstorm and The Storm of the Century, I figured I would get use out of my oven before we inevitably lost power, and whipped up my first batch of marshmallows ever.



These were so much easier than I anticipated and got better and better every day they sat.  So by the 4th day of being stuck inside due to weather.... when everyone was eating easily four of these a day..... I think we knew we had a winner.

Dropped in a hot chocolate to give it a twist or enjoyed on their own, these are too simple and enjoyable to pass up.

My only regret is that I didn't get to make a toasted coconut s'more out of these.  I have a feeling though they'll be making another appearance soon.  

Enjoy!


Toasted Coconut Marshmallows
Servings: One 8x8 or 9x9 inch pan

Ingredients:

- 2 cups unsweetened natural dried coconut
- 3/4 oz unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup water (divided)
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (all I could find in my area was imitation and it worked great)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Toast the coconut on a parchment lines baking sheet until golden, stirring frequently, 7-10 minutes.  Oil a 9 or 8 inch square baking pan and sprinkle the bottom with 1/2 cup of the toasted coconut.

In the bowl of an electric mixer sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water and let soften while making syrup.

In a small heavy saucepan heat sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup water over low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved.  Bring to a boil over medium heat without stirring (wash down any crystals built up on the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water).  Place thermometer in pan and continue boiling until soft ball stage (240 degrees F) has been reached.  Remove from heat and let stand until bubbles dissipate.  

With mixer on low speed, pour hot syrup into gelatin in a thin stream down the side of the bowl.  Increase the speed to high and beat until thick (about 15 minutes).  Add in extracts and beat one minute more.  

Spoon marshmallow over coconut in pan and pressed evenly with dampened fingers to smooth top.  Sprinkle top with another 1/2 cup coconut.

Let stand at room temperature until firm, about 2 hours.

Run a sharp knife around the edges and invert onto a cutting board.  Cut 3/4 wide strips and then cut each strip into 3/4 inch squares.  Put remaining coconut in a bowl and toss marshmallows a few at a time to cover the sides.  Store in a single layer at room temperature (or layers separated by wax or parchment paper) in an airtight container.  These only get better as the sit.  Enjoy.


Recipe adapted from: Gourmet and Epicurious







Thursday, November 1, 2012

Things I'm Loving Lately: Fall 2012 Edition



Soaking up the last few perfectly warm days with BYOB and artisan pizza.


Views from my own window that will never ever get old.


Living in my own fall wonderland that is Northeast USA at this time of the year (at least until hurricane Sandy decided to have her way).


Birthday celebrations.


Probably one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken.  


Nerdy science jokes.


Celebrations.


The ugliest/most amazing fall dessert I've yet to find.


City brunches..... with biscuits the size of my head.


Re-imagined 10th grade dresses, and liking them just as much in a new way.


Remembering the days when Sadie looked like this.


Yet loving this just as much, if not more.


And this.
Most definitely this.