Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pumpkin, Caramel, and Pecan Cheesecake - WOW!

 Hello everyone!  Yes, October is winding down.  It's almost Halloween.  How is that possible?  Where has this month gone?  The leaves are finally starting to change.  The transition is later this year because it has been so warm.  It's so nice to see the colors in the trees and the variety of hues on the hillsides.  It definitely means fall is here!

Our first born celebrated the 11th anniversary of her 30th birthday on Saturday.  We sat with her boys while she and her lovely husband had a date night.  They don't get a lot of those.  So, we celebrated with the family at our house on Sunday evening.  I cooked dinner for everyone and instead of the standard birthday cake, I made this fabulous pumpkin cheesecake.  The recipe is in the new Bon Appetit and the Food Network Magazine.

It is a Philadelphia cream cheese advertisement and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it.  Why? Because it sounded absolutely amazing and guess what?  It is absolutely amazing!  Talk about a dessert you are going to want to make for any and all upcoming occasions.  Things like Thanksgiving, Christmas, the new moon, the full moon, the sun shining, the dog got a haircut.  Just pick something.  It's worth it, believe me.

Here is what you need:

1/2 cup chopped pecans divided
38 Ginger snap cookies, finely crushed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup butter, melted

4 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
25 Kraft Caramels
1/4 cup milk

Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (notice, it's NOT 350)

Chop 1/4 cup nuts finely, place in medium bowl.  Add crushed ginger snaps and melted butter.  Mix well.  Press into bottom of 13 x 9 inch baking pan.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer until blended.  Add pumpkin, cinnamon, and vanilla, mix well.  Add eggs 1 at a time mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended.  Pour over crust.

Bake for 45 minutes or until center is almost set.  Cool completely.  Refrigerate for 4 hours.

Make the sauce when you are ready to serve.  Microwave the caramels and milk in a microwaveable bowl on high for 1 1/2 minutes or until caramels are completely melted, stirring every 30 seconds.

Serve cheese cake by spooning the caramel over each piece served and sprinkle with nuts.

Serve with whipped cream if desired.  We desired, it's just not in the picture.  YUMMMMMMY!

This cake is really easy to make and is even better the second day.  Oh so good.  Give it a try, especially if you are a pumpkin lover or a cheesecake lover.  It is a marriage made in heaven!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Because you don't live near a bakery doesn't mean you have to go without cheesecake!
Hedy Lamar

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chocolate Macadamia And White Morsel Cookies

 Let's talk about cookies.  Who doesn't love a good cookie?  Especially a home made cookie!  Do you have a favorite cookie?  We have many, but this cookie is in the top five.  It may actually be in the top two.  Yes, it's that good.

Let's discuss why this cookie is so very good.  First, it is chocolate.  Need I say more?  Second, it has Macadamia nuts.  (OMG)  Third, it has white morsels in it.  So, let's recap.  It's chocolate, has Macadamia nuts, AND white morsels in it.  How could it be any better than that I ask you?  Seriously?

I found this recipe years ago in some magazine or the other and decided to give it a whirl.  The recipe immediately went into my poor falling apart handwritten recipe book so that it would never be lost because this was many years before the advent of the internet and/or blogging where I put a lot of my recipes for reference.  It's a great place to keep recipes because the recipes don't get all smudged with stuff from your hands while you are cooking and the ink doesn't run when you get liquid on the page AND you can share it with lots of other people.  I have some favorite recipes that are nearly unreadable.  Nuff said.

You are definitely going to want to make these cookies.  Why you ask?   Because they are fabulous and you will not be able to eat just one at a time (don't ask how I know this), and because they are fabulous.

Let's talk about Macadamia nuts for a moment.  LOVE them.  How about you?  They are not the cheapest nut to use in a cookie, but they may be the absolute best!  I find them at Target in small 2 ounce packages and it takes 2 packages for this recipe.  What do you know about Macadamia nuts other than they are sooooooo good?  I did a little research and this is what I found:


a hard-shelled nut somewhat resembling a filbert and produced by an Australian evergreen tree  
of the protea family that is cultivated extensively in Hawaii —called also macadamia

No wonder they are a little on the pricey side since they only grow in Australia and Hawaii.  Trust me, it's worth the little extra for these wonderful nuts.

Now, here is what you need to make these cookies:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sat
1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups white morsels (1 12 ounce package)
3/4 cup chopped Macadamia nuts (rough chop - you want good sized pieces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

Beat the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until creamy.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Gradually beat in the flour mixture.  Stir in morsels and nuts.

Drop by well rounded teaspoon full onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 9 - 11 minutes.  Remove from oven, let cool slightly, remove from baking sheet with a spatula.

YUUUUUUUUUUUM!  Try not to gorge yourself on these beauties.

You are looking at these and drooling aren't you?  I know you are even if you won't admit it.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies.  I got 5 dozen out of the recipe.  If you want them a little bigger, be my guest, just make sure they are completely baked when you remove them from the oven.  They are not soft cookie.

Next week is Halloween and if you are having a party, try this recipe.  Or, try this recipe because it's fall.  Or, just make them because you need to. Share them - if there are any left.  

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

The Macadamia is named after a scientist by the name of John Macadam who first wrote about the tree and it's fruit (nuts) in 1865.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Baked Pear Spinach Salad With Mascarpone, Cashews, And Champagne Vinegar Dressing

Here it is Tuesday, October 22nd already.  How did this happen?  Where is it going?  Why am I not ready for cold weather or the fact that I had to put on closed shoes on Sunday because it suddenly got cool?  Bye bye sandals until next spring.  Sigh.  It makes me so very sad when sandals have to go.  My feet are not very happy.  I'll be waiting until the first warm day to drag them back out.  Believe me.

One of the really nice things about fall though is the abundance of tree fruit like apples and pears.  YUM!  I like apples, but I LOVE pears.  Dan is not a fan.  He doesn't like the texture which to me is unfortunate, but to each his own.

My daughter and I were talking about pears last week and she mentioned she had baked some.  Baked pears?  Why had I never thought of that.  When I got home, I headed straight to the world wide web and researched some baked pear recipes.  This is one I created by combining several things together for this fabulously delicious salad for dinner.  (The dressing recipe is my own.)  Are they good?  Let me count the ways.  My, oh my.  Here is what you will need:

Pears - as many as you want to bake (I used Bartlett)
1/2 to 1 stick butter
1 container Mascarpone cheese
Cashews, rough chopped (I used about a cup)
Home made Champagne Vinegar Dressing - recipe below

To check if pears are ripe, push around the stem to see if it's soft.  If so, they are good to go.  You want ripe pears for baking.

First, if you have never baked pears, this is how I did mine.  I used Bartlett pears and cut the pears in half, scooping out the core in each half.  I used a teaspoon to core the pears.  You can bake 2 halves, or as many as you want.  I did 3 pears the first time which was 6 halves.  Sunday, I did 5 pears for 10 halves.  I melted a half stick of butter in a baking dish for the 6 halves and a whole stick for the 10 halves.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Put the butter in an appropriate sized baking dish and melt the butter in the oven.  As soon as the butter is melted, remove the baking pan from the oven and coat the pears in the melted butter.  I rolled them on the skin side, then placed them cut side down in the butter.  Bake for about 45 minutes until they are fork tender.  Sunday, I baked these and this is how they look when they come out of the oven.  Heavenly.
Now, turn the pears over to expose the cut and cored side.  Place large dollops of mascarpone cheese in each pear half and stick them back in the oven for about a minute or two until the cheese melts.  Don't let it all run out of the pears.  It's the really good part.
If you are not familiar with Mascarpone cheese, it is an Italian cheese that sort of has the consistency of cream cheese but tastes like whipped cream.  Double yum.

I decided I wanted salty and sweet to go with the fresh spinach, and I had a can of cashew halves on hand.  I rough chopped them and sprinkled them over the melted mascarpone cheese.  I put several hands full of fresh baby spinach on salad plates and put a pear in the middle of the spinach.  I sprinkled more chopped cashews on the spinach.  Now to make the dressing.  I don't always measure when making dressing, but this is pretty close and you may want to adjust it to fit your taste.  It is sooooooo good, especially the tanginess with the sweet and salty.  Yummo.

Champagne Vinegar Dressing

Finely mince about 1/4 of a small shallot, super fine.

Using a large clove of garlic, make a paste out of it by putting about 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt on a cutting board and mashing the garlic with the flat side of the knife.  Work the knife back and forth, pressing and mashing until you have a paste made from the garlic clove.

In a bowl, pour about 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil in and add the shallot and garlic paste.  Add about a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. (two big squeezes) Add the juice of one lemon and two big splashes of champagne vinegar (probably about 2 TBSP).  Add one small pinch of salt if needed and fresh cracked black pepper.  Whisk until combined and drizzle over the spinach and the pear.  Serve.  Consume.  Just try to savor each bite.  Delicious.  (The dressing is so good I could probably drink it with a straw.)

This is such a pretty salad to present with whatever entree you are serving.  Perhaps you will just want to eat the salad with some good crusty bread.  Or, maybe you would prefer the baked pear without the spinach and dressing and consider it dessert.  It all works and it is wonderful any way to choose to eat it.  Truly.  They also keep nicely in the refrigerator (covered) and can be eaten the next day.  I ate mine cold and it was delish!

Sometimes things just come together in an oh so right way.  If you like pears, this is a great way to enjoy them.  Yes indeedy.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Pears have been cultivated and enjoyed for thousands of years.  Homer referred to them as a "gift from the gods" in the Odyssey.  healthdiaries.com



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cleaning Microfiber Furniture - It's Quite Easy

We bought the sofa in these pictures in the year 2000.  It was our first piece of microfiber furniture.  Microfiber is durable and very comfortable.  The sofa is very light in color and it did fine while it lived at our house.  No, it did not look like this when it lived at our house.

The sofa was given to our youngest son when he moved to Nashville about six  years ago and we purchased a new microfiber sectional.  Dan and Tyler loved this sofa and it is super comfortable.  My problem with it was I felt like the character Edith Ann that Lily Tomlin used to play when I sat on it.  I am only slightly over 5 feet tall and the sofa is so deep that my legs sort of stuck straight out when sitting on the couch.  That is why it went to live with Tyler and he was very happy to have it and I was glad it had a new home.  Dan was sad.

Tyler was about college age when he moved to Nashville and he lived with a bunch of guys.  Need I say more?  College guys?  Yeah, that.  They are not the neatest or tidiest people on the face of the earth.  He has had several room mates through the years, he has moved many times, and the sofa has had a lot of wear.  Actually, it is still in pretty good shape, it just had some gross spills on it and the cushions were a dirty from so much wear.  The arms of the couch were very dirty just from general use.

He recently moved in with a fellow who had furniture and he had things that needed a new place to live because he didn't want to pay for a storage unit.  Our best friends who moved here recently were in need of a sofa until they can buy one they want.  Aha!  Tyler had a sofa that needed a place to live and our BFF's needed a sofa.  It was a match made in heaven.  That is until I got a good look at it in bright light.  Oh my goodness.  It was in need of some real help.

I jumped on the world wide web and did some research about how to clean this sofa.  I discovered this information on Wikihow.

Check the sofa tag for care instructions. Microfiber furniture is typically labeled with one of four codes to indicate what can be used to clean it: W is for a water-based cleaning solvent, S is for a water-free solvent, S/W is for either, and X is for neither (i.e. vacuum-only).
  • If your sofa is labeled with an X, your work is done; resist the temptation to use any cleaning solutions, which can stain, spot, or shrink the fabric.

There are also several blogs that had information on how to clean microfiber sofas, most of which recommended clear alcohol, sponges, and a scrub brush.  I could not find the tag that Wikihow referred to, so I decided to go with rubbing alcohol because the poor sofa couldn't look much worse.  

Most sites recommended 99% rubbing alcohol if you can find it, or vodka or gin.  Some clear alcohol.  Tonya had 70% alcohol, so we used that.  It worked great.  The reason you want to use alcohol and not water it that alcohol dries quickly.  Water will cause rings and spotting if things get too wet.  We wanted no spots and no rings!

First, I vacuumed the entire sofa, removed the cushions and vacuumed under the cushions and in all the cracks and crevices.

I started with the worst stain which was on the lower front and side of the sofa as you can see in the picture above.  I don't know what it was - some kind of food spill.  (I really don't want to know.)  Using the spray bottle with nothing but rubbing alcohol in it, I sprayed the stains lightly, let it sit a minute and used a light colored dry sponge to begin rubbing the stain.  It really didn't take long at all and the stain began to come right off!  Hallelujah!  It's was a miracle.  

After the stains were removed, I used the small scrub brush to lift the nap on the fabric and it looked brand new!
The nap has highlights and shadows so don't think those are stains - they are completely gone.  I was amazed.  So, I worked on one end of the sofa and Tonya worked on the other.  It took us about 40 minutes to do the entire sofa and it looks really, really good for a 13 year old sofa that has been moved from pillar to post and had much wear and tear.  The room was full of moving boxes so I couldn't get back far enough to get a picture of the whole sofa, but you can see how nice it looks.
This is one of the arm cushions which was about 10 shades darker when we started.
It is back to it's original color.  Talk about a cheap cleaning solution!  We used 1 bottle of alcohol, 2 spray bottles, 2 sponges, and 1 scrub brush.  Everything but the alcohol came from the Dollar Tree, so that's $5.00 and alcohol is CHEAP at the drug store.  Less than $1.00 per bottle.  So, for about $6.00 and some elbow grease, we cleaned an entire sofa.  It looked great and smelled great.

I LOVE the world wide web for researching things like this.  What did we ever do before?  Oh, we had to go to the library and hope that  you could find the information you were looking for.  I remember now.  All I can say is YAY for technology!  It makes life so much easier.

Before you clean a piece of microfiber furniture, test an inconspicuous place to make sure the alcohol method will work for you.  If it does, have fun!  You will be happy with the results.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin Poppers!

 Happy Monday to you one and all!  Hoping your weekend was fabulous, restful, and all that you wanted it to be.  Ours was busy as usual.  We had little league games on Saturday and a birthday party for our seven year old grandson on Sunday.  I baked his cake and cupcakes and that was quite an affair.  I am not a cake decorator, but I do my best.  Will share his baseball glove cake and baseball cupcakes with you one of these days.

Well, fall is upon us and it is time for all things pumpkin.  It is amazing to me how the groceries now turn October in to "pumpkin" month with everything pumpkin you can think of.  I must say we do enjoy some good pumpkin treats, so I thought I would share one with you today that I found on Domestically Speaking.  She calls them Pumpkin Poppers and they are deliciously delectable morsels of pumpkin that are kind of like donut balls only baked in a mini muffin tin.  Yum!

This recipe made 24 of these Poppers in my mini muffin pan.  It's an easy recipe and SOOOO good, especially with coffee.  Then again, what isn't good with coffee?  Here is what you need:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1  1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/2 cup milk
This is how they look when they come out of the oven before you coat them in the cinnamon/sugar mix.


1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 1/2 TBSP cinnamon combined in a bowl

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.   Spray mini muffin pan with cooking spray.

Combine all dry ingredients.  Mix with a whisk until combined.  Mix all wet ingredients and pour into dry ingredients.  Just combine.   Do not over mix.

Fill muffin tins almost full.  Bake 8-12 minutes.  Let cool.  (I baked mine 8 minutes)

Roll in melted butter, then sugar/cinnamon mix.  Serve!

Oh, my.  These are really, really good and it's tempting to not eat all of them at one time.  Restrain yourself if you can - you will want some of these for breakfast, a mid afternoon snack, and evening treat.  They are two bites, three at the most and it's easy to just keep popping them in your mouth.  Yum.  Yum.  Yum.

Give this recipe a try.  It's a great fall treat and super easy.  You are going to love these!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

"Oh how we love pumpkin season.  You did know this gourd-ish squash has its own season, right?  Winter, Spring, Summer, pumpkin....We anxiously anticipate it every year."     Unknown

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Loaded Chicken and Potato Casserole Is Superb!

Ever have those days when you are tired of making the same old recipes and  you want something different - something delicious?  You look in the refrigerator to see what's there to use.  Looking back at you are three boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  We all know how it goes with chicken.  It can be fabulous or it can be totally blah.  I wanted fabulous.

I had pinned this recipe on my Pinterest board some time ago because it sounded amazing.  Tonight was the night to give it a try.  I actually had all the ingredients for once.  No trip to the grocery was necessary.  Yay!

This recipe is like a big loaded baked potato with some slightly spicy chicken.  When I say spicy, I mean just a hint.  You could make it much more spicy if you preferred, but our grandsons were coming over so I went with the recipe as written.  It was perfect.  Here is what you need.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in approximately 1 inch cubes
6-8 medium russet potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1/3 cup live oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 TBSP paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSPS hot sauce (I used Tapatio)


2 cups grated cheese - cheddar, jack,  or pepper jack (I used Monterrey Jack)
1 cup crumbled bacon  - about 1/2 pound (fry crisp and crumble)
1 cup diced green onions - whites and greens

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Mix the salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, and hot sauce together.  Add the cubed chicken and potatoes, stir to coat.

Pour into the prepared baking dish and spread it out evenly.  Cook for 55-60 minutes, stirring EVERY 20 minutes.  Fry the bacon while the casserole cooks.  Set aside until cool.  Crumble.

Once the chicken and potatoes are fully cooked (potatoes fork tender), remove the casserole from the oven.  Top with cheese, bacon, and onions.  Return to the oven and bake until the cheese melts.  Took about 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and serve.

I put some sour cream on the table to add to the dish if wanted and extra hot sauce.  This is a dynamite recipe, is so easy to make and could easily be halved and baked in a 9" casserole if you wanted.

Thanks to Singing Through the Rain for this recipe.  Everyone LOVED it.  We will be having it again and it reheats very nicely in the microwave.  Great leftovers for lunch the next day.

Give this recipe a try the next time you want something truly superb and easy to make.  Add a green salad and you are good to go.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Try one new recipe a week just for some variety in your dinner routine.  They are not all keepers, but when they are it is great to have something new to add to the rotation.  donna

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How To Decorate Potted Plants With Burlap

 Yesterday was a perfectly gorgeous fall day and we spent most of it working outside.  I worked on Halloween decorations and Dan painted our new chairs.  (I am so excited about them, can't wait to show you.)  These are the days that inspire me and my creativity soars.

I had purchased some fall mums to replace some of my waning summer plants.  You know how potted plants look when you buy them - plain.  Just plain.  We have no in ground planting space on our patio, so everything is planted in pots.  I like for things to look as much like a garden as possible.  This is how the patio looked in summer.
Many of the plants are fading and it was time to go with fall plants.  Mums are great flowering fall plants and they are readily available this time of year.  There are also plenty of pumpkins available which will last until Christmas if they are not carved.
Plants come in utilitarian pots and I have been known to use them that way, but not on our patio.  Big planters and baskets are expensive.  I am a "make do" kind of girl.  So, I had an inspiration to cover the pots with burlap which is inexpensive, comes in colors, and will withstand lots of water if it rains.  It also has a very fall look to it.

I spent many years working as a floral designer and have covered literally thousands of potted plants with pot foil.  You know that stuff florists use when you receive a potted plant?  It is shiny, comes in different colors,  and usually has a bit of a brocade look to it.  It is sealed on the inside to be waterproof.  I'm here to tell you I can cover potted plants in my sleep.  Then, they are usually decorated with a big bow.  I can make those in my sleep too.  Mercy me the hours I have spent covering pots and making bows.  Whew.

I wanted to jazz up the patio for fall/Halloween and didn't really want plain black pots.  Burlap was the answer and I happened to have a couple of yards on hand.  Pot sizes are measured in inches.  The pot in the picture above is a 10 inch pot, I had two  8" pots of mums and two 6" pots of mums.   Here is how to cover a potted plant.

You will need burlap and some wooden skewers to use with the burlap.  Remember, this is for outside use.  The burlap is not waterproof like pot foil and will leak if you water an indoor plant.  You will need a plastic saucer under the plant if you do this for indoor use.

 I also used jute twine in place of ribbon.  I just really like it because it is rustic looking.  Feel free to use ribbon if you prefer.  I also had some fall berries that I got at the Dollar Tree and added those as a little something extra.  Here is what you do.

Set your pot on the burlap and pull up the burlap on each side until you know the pot will be covered.  I couldn't do that and take a picture at the same time.  Hope you understand what I mean.  You should have a large square when finished.  Then, pull a thread horizontally and vertically so you can cut the burlap straight.  Just grab a thread on the side of the burlap where you need to cut and pull it all the way across.  You will have an opening between the threads that allows you to cut the fabric straight.
Now, set the pot in the middle of the burlap square.  Pull the front side up to the edge of the pot with just a little overhang, and put one of the wooden skewers through the burlap to hold it in place.
Do the same on the back side of the pot half way around.  Now, do the left and right quarter sides.  You will have 4 skewers in the pot.

Next, cut a long piece of jute twine, more than enough to go around the pot and tie in a bow.  Pull the extra burlap up close to the pot and wrap the twine tightly around the pot and tie it behind the front skewer pulling the twine as tight as you can get it to hold the burlap up on the pot.
Tie the twine in a knot around the skewer.

Next, I cut some stems of the berries and tied them with the twine, then made a shoestring bow.  The finished pot looks like this.
You wil have 4 corners that hang down like in the picture.  Doesn't that look better than a plain black pot?  A yard of burlap is $2.97 at Wal Mart and one yard will cover a 10 " pot with left over fabric and a yard will cover two 8 " pots with a little left over.  I used the extra white to cover my small 6" mums.  They are purple and I can't wait for them to pop!
I used natural burlap to cover the two 8" mums.
I placed some pumpkins around the patio and carport, hung my Halloween wreath and added the ghost and skeleton reflectors I got at Michael's for a whopping 50 cents each.  They look so cute in the pots!

Here is a picture of the little corner garden on the patio.  Everything is in pots, so it is easily changed with the season.  Can't wait for Christmas!
The white globes in the middle have white Christmas lights in them.  They are so pretty at night.
You can add extras to the pots like the Happy Halloween sign, the reflectors, cat tails, wheat - just use your imagination.  They add another level of interest to the potted flower.

Tomorrow, I think I may go get some pansies to replace the begonias around the patio because they won't last through the winter.  Pansies will bloom here most of the winter.  They like cool weather.

Have you decorated for fall or Halloween?  If you haven't started yet, give this inexpensive way to cover your pots a try.  It really is easy and makes them look so much better!  Have fun!!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

A garden is a delight to the eye and a solace for the soul.  -- Sadi

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

Oh what a glorious Monday today.  It was a perfect 66 degrees with amazing cerulean skies and it really felt like fall for the first time.  I could do this weather every day.  What's not to love about it?  We worked outside all day and it was absolutely perfect.  Pure bliss.
This weather definitely puts me in the mood to bake and cook.  I had the urge for something sweet, perhaps made with pumpkin (it is fall after all) and I  used this recipe that I found on Allrecipes.com.   This is an amazing coffee cake with a lovely streusel on the bottom and a brown sugar glaze on the top.  It has the taste of a pumpkin spice cake which is one of my all time favorite cakes and it is easy to bake.  Yes, the perfect recipe.

This cake can be baked in a tube pan or a bundt pan, whichever you may have.  I love bundt cakes, so I went that route.  Easy peasy.  Here is what you need.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt

Streusel Topping

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 TBSP butter, melted
1/3 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray the bundt pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar on medium with a mixer until well blended.  Add the pumpkin and eggs.  Mix thoroughly.  In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add to the pumpkin mixture.  Mix on medium until combined.  Pour into prepared pan.

Make the streusel topping by combining all the ingredients.  Sprinkle over the cake batter.  Bake at 30 degrees for 50-55 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool about 15 minutes.  Make the brown butter glaze while the cake cools.  Invert cake on a plate.

Brown Butter Icing
1 1/2 TBSP butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 TBSP milk

Put the butter in a saucepan and melt on medium heat, letting it cook until it bubbles and browns, continuously stirring.  Don't let it scorch.  As soon as it browns, remove from the stove and pour into the powdered sugar.  Stir.  Add milk 1 TBSP at a time.  I only needed 1 TBSP.  Pour over cooled cake.  Serve.

This cake is soooooo delicious and it was very hard to eat only one piece.  It's perfect with a cup of coffee.  It would also be lovely with hot tea or hot apple cider and it just screams fall.  Mm mmm mmmm.
We ate this cake for dessert, not just for breakfast or with coffee.  Deeeeeelicious!  Our grandsons LOVED it.  It is worth making.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

I'm pretty sure the secret to world peace is hidden somewhere in the smell of coffee and baked sweets.  Unknown

(What a great quote!)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies - Super Easy, Super Yummy!

 Hello October 1st!!  Isn't it exciting to see the sun a bit lower in the sky, the hint of color beginning to show in the trees, the coolness of the early mornings and late evenings letting us know that full blown glorious fall is just around the corner?  Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait!!  How about you?  Are you excited?

We have mums and pumpkins and Indian corn at the ready to begin our fall/Halloween decorating.  We made a trip to the Farmer's Market today and everything is good to go.   Now, I just hope it doesn't rain tomorrow.  If it does, we will just work on it another day.  Sometime's the inner child in me gets excited and doesn't want to wait.  Another lesson in patience comes in the form of fall decorating.  Patience is NOT my middle name.

Fall weather also brings out the "nester" in me.  I want to cook and bake and make ready for the coming cold weather.  Sunday, after fixing brunch for all the moving helpers, I made these cookies that I had seen on the Pioneer Woman's show on Food Network.

One of my guilty pleasures is watching the Food Network shows on Saturday morning, dreaming of all the recipes I want to make.  Are you a Food Network/Cooking Channel watcher?  Actually, this is about the only television I watch.  That, and the Voice.  Another guilty pleasure.

Saturday morning, Ree Drummond made these cookies and I was like - oh wow, easiest cookie ever and they have to be fantastic.  I mean, it's peanut butter cookie dough with a peanut butter cup in the middle.  What could possibly be any better than that?

Here is what you need:

1 refrigerated roll  Peanut Butter Cookie Dough (see, easiest cookie ever!)
1 package peanut butter cups (extras  - you will eat some)
1 mini muffin pan

Yeah, that's it.  Anyone can do this!

This is what I used.  There are other brands available - take your pick!  Remove the wrapper and cut the dough with a sharp knife in about 1 to 1.5 inch sections.  I got 8 sections from this dough.

Take each round and cut it into quarters.
Lay each section in a cup of the mini muffin pan that has been greased for easy cookie removal.  Somehow I missed taking a picture of this.  Oops.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  When oven has reached temperature, put the pan in the oven for 6 - 8 minutes, only until the cookies are lightly browned.  Watch them closely!  Mine were done at 6 minutes.  Remove pan from oven.
While the cookies are baking, remove the paper wrappers from as many peanut butter cups as you will need.  Work fast and don't stop to eat, you will not be done by the time the cookies are baked.  You will put 1 cup in the middle of each cookie.  I unwrapped 24 since that is how many cookies I had in the pan.

Simply push an unwrapped peanut butter cup in the center of each cookie and watch them get all ooey gooey in the hot cookies fresh from the oven and do your dead level best not to eat every one of them as fast as you can!

Let the cookies cool.  Remove from the pan.  I am here to tell you these didn't last very long at all!  They are a perfect 2 bite cookie.  At least for me.  I don't think some took 2 bites.  They just popped the whole delectable morsel in their mouth.  (You know who you are!)

Luckily, I have enough stuff to make more because I knew there would be no leftovers.  (This is not my first rodeo.)  Dan is not a big peanut butter cup fan (I know, I know), but he sure did like these!  Melty chocolate, peanut butter, cookie dough.  Mm, mmm, mmmm.  It was the melty chocolate that won him over.

These cookies would be easy for your children to help you make IF you can keep them from eating all the peanut butter cups before the cookies bake.  That is the real challenge.  Ergo, buy extra peanut butter cups.

Now, think about the options here.  You could make chocolate chip cookies with a chocolate kiss in the middle or a Rolo (note to self), sugar cookies with your favorite mini candy bar or some chocolate covered candies (aka M&M's) in the middle, the options are endless!   How about peanut butter cookies with a miniature Snicker's bar in the middle.  Oh my.

Be creative.  Give these a try.  You will be dreaming up options, believe me.  I mean what could be better than a cookie with your favorite candy in the middle and you don't have to make the cookie dough!  I don't know about you, but there are many more of these in my future.  Welcome, October!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

You got peanut butter in my chocolate!
No, you got chocolate in my peanut butter!
Two great tastes that taste great together!    Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Am I showing my age here?  Remember these ads?  donna