Archive for October, 2012


October 31st is National Candy Apple Day!

I’m not a big fan of candy apples, just for the simple reason that they are hard on my teeth. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t have fun making them and giving them away! Let others enjoy them (and break their teeth- geez, I hope not!).

Candy apples are easy to make, but there are a few things to keep in mind. First off- this is not a recipe that young kids should be helping with. I’m not trying to be mean. You will be working with a sugar mixture that is 300 degrees. Even once you start dipping the apples and the sugar mixture has stopped boiling, and it looks safe- it isn’t. Also, the cinnamon oil that you use to add flavor, is very strong. You will be adding this once the sugar comes to temperature, and there will be a lot of fumes. If you are standing over the pot (which I highly suggest that you Do Not) you could hurt your sinus cavities from the fumes. Believe me, I learned the hard way years ago when I first started making the sugar mixture for hard candy. If this is your first time making hard sugar candy, having a bowl of ice water nearby would be beneficial in case you get any hot sugar on your skin.

Ok! If I haven’t scared you off, let’s make some candy apples!

Cinnamon Candy Apples

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
3/4 cup light corn syrup
Red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon oil (.125 fl. oz.)
8 small apples (I used Gala apples)
8 popsicle sticks

Remove the stems from the apples and insert a popsicle stick. Place the apples on a silpat mat. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup. Bring this to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously. Clip on a candy thermometer and continue stirring until the temperature reaches 300 degrees. *If you have an exhaust fan over your stove, turn it on now (or open a nearby window)! Remove the pan from the heat and add in the food coloring and cinnamon oil (be careful not to stand over-top the pan), stirring well to combine. Working quickly, tilt the saucepan to pool the sugar mixture, and dip your apples. Let the excess drip off for a few seconds, then place the apples back onto the silpat mat. After all the apples have been dipped, any extra candy can be poured directly onto the siplat mat (on an open spot). The apples will set up very quickly, but wait 30 minutes before eating them. Note: if you had extra candy, once it hardens, break it up and toss it in a little powdered sugar.  Enjoy!

*I purchased my Cinnamon oil at a  local candy supply store, however, I have also seen it at Wal-Mart. Make sure it says oil- extract isn’t strong enough for the recipe.

Made with love, not calories!

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Here is the final challenge* from Willow Bird Baking…Cheesecake!

I believe I have mentioned before that while I like making cheesecakes, they don’t seem to really like me! I almost always get cracks in mine. And while cracks don’t affect the taste of the cheesecake, they just don’t look as pretty as I would like (and I’m not crazy about covering them up with sour cream. Chocolate, yes. Sour cream, no.). However, I do like making mini cheesecakes. They don’t seem to crack! Yay!

For our final challenge, I made pumpkin gingersnap mini cheesecakes. (Sorry about all the pumpkin recipes lately.)  I used store-bought gingersnap cookies as the crust. No need to crush them- a whole cookie goes in the bottom of the cupcake liner! Then a simple pumpkin cheesecake batter gets spooned over each cookie. A quick bake, and you have a fun hand-held dessert that you can take to a Halloween party!

One Year Ago: Eye Balls (Cake Balls)

Pumpkin Gingersnap Mini Cheesecakes
Makes 24

24 gingersnap cookies (I used store-bought)
2- 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin/cupcake pans with 24 liners. Place one gingersnap cookie on the bottom of each liner. Set aside.

In a stand mixer (a hand-held mixer would also work), cream together the cream cheese and sugars. Add in the pumpkin puree and the eggs and mix well. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Turn the mixer back on and add in the spices and salt. Once everything has been combined, evenly distribute the batter over the gingersnap cookies. Bake in a preheated oven for 17-20 minutes, or just until the cheesecakes are set in the centers. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, refrigerate for 3 hours before serving. Enjoy!

* Willow Bird Baking had 5 weeks of challenges. Sadly I missed the first one. Below you will find links to the big revels and what I made for weeks 2-4.
Week 2 challenge: Breakfast BraidsNutella Breakfast Braid
Week 3 challenge: Stuffed CookiesSamoa Stuffed Sugar Cookies
Week 4 challenge: Filled cupcakesBoston Cream Pie Cupcakes

Made with love, not calories!

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I buy my pumpkin in the large cans (29 oz.), so sometimes I have pumpkin left over from a recipe. I was able to use this can of pumpkin for 3 recipes! That means lots of yummy pumpkin treats!

I found this recipe for Pumpkin Apple Gingerbread Cake and I thought it sounded like a nice Fall dessert. However, I made a few changes. I don’t have pumpkin pie spice, so I added the individual spices (yeah, I would much rather have 4 jars of spices, instead of 1!!). Also, I was too lazy to peel and grate an apple, so I left that out. And I changed the hard sauce for a ginger glaze. (Just a few changes!)

I really enjoyed the taste of this. I think the pumpkin and gingerbread works well together- neither one over-powered the other. This would be great for dessert or at a brunch. You can serve this while it is still warm, or serve it after it has cooled completely. I let it cool just long enough to take pictures, then I dove right in (breakfast!)!!

Pumpkin Gingerbread Bundt Cake
Adapted from Very Best Baking
Prep time: 12 minutes     Bake time: 55-60 minutes

3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
15 oz. can of pumpkin (not quite 2 cups)
4 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1/4 cup whipping cream

Ginger Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 1/2 – 3 tablespoons whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 or 12 cup bundt pan*. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry cake ingredients. Add in the pumpkin, eggs, molasses, butter, and whipping cream. Stir until everything is well combined. Pour into the prepared bundt pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until the toothpick test comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

To make the ginger glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and ginger. Slowly stir in the heavy cream, starting with 2 tablespoons. Add additional heavy cream to get the spreading/pouring consistency you prefer (I left mine a little thick and spread it on the cake before it cooled).

After 10 minutes, invert the cake onto a serving plate and spread/pour on the ginger glaze. Serve while warm or let cool completely. Enjoy!

*Note: the original recipe calls for a 12 cup bundt pan. Mine is a 10 cup- it works, the baked cake will just dome up a little instead of having a flat bottom. If you have a 10 cup bundt pan and want a flat bottom to the cake, I suggest filling it only two-thirds of the way full and use the extra batter for cupcakes (just make sure to adjust your baking time- both for the bundt cake and the cupcakes!).


I’m linked at Chocolate, Chocolate & More!

Made with love, not calories!

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Another week…another weekly running recap!

Sunday: Rest
Monday: 3.5 mile run
Tuesday: 1 hour DVD
Wednesday: 1 hour treadmill incline walk
Thursday: 1 hour DVD
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 5 mile run

I found out late last week, that my last half-marathon (middle of November) has been cancelled. I was really looking forward to this race, for a couple of reasons. The race was going to be run on a race track (automobile and motorcycle race track). I have visited this race track many times, so I was looking forward to having the opportunity to run on it. The other reason was that it as going to be my first relay (Ali and Amie, this just means we need to find another race!).

After a few days, I started to look at the cancelled race as an opportunity. I really struggled to finish my last race, my IT band was hurting me a lot. As you can tell by my weekly recaps, I do very little cross-training, and no strength training. I already have races on my calendar for next year, and I would like to be pain-free for them. So all that said, I have decided to reduce the running to 2 days a week, and to start adding in other workouts. I also have been using my foam roller! I am going to try this for a month and then re-evaluate.

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October 23rd is National Boston Cream Pie Day!

A French chef named Sanzian invented Boston cream pie in 1856. He worked at the Parker House Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, which is also where the Parker House roll originated.
In 1996, Boston cream pie became the official dessert of Massachusetts in a bill sponsored by Norton High School. This bill defeated both Indian Pudding and Toll House cookies as the state’s official dessert. Boston cream pie is now also a popular doughnut, coffee, and ice cream flavor.
Although it is called a pie, Boston cream pie is actually a cake. It consists of two round layers of sponge cake with a thick vanilla custard filling. It is usually frosted with a chocolate glaze but it can also be topped with confectionary sugar. The dessert is served in wedges just like a pie. (Source)

I decided that instead of making a pie, I would make cupcakes!

Which leads me too…the week 4 challenge from Willow Bird Baking is…cupcakes! But not just any cupcake. The challenge was for us to make a cupcake, fill it, and frost it. And guess what? Boston Creme Pie cupcakes fit that description. Yup. It’s like killing 2 birds with 1 stone! Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. And I would never kill a bird, because that would make me cry.

Anyways! I made the batter for the Boston Cream Pie, but baked it into cupcakes. Then I made a vanilla pastry cream for the filling. A rich chocolate glaze covers the top. Each cupcake is the perfect portion for a wonderful dessert!


Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
Recipe lightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Pastry Cream (filling):
1 1/3 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Chocolate Glaze:
1 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1. Make the cupcakes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a muffin pan*. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using the whisk attachment, turn the mixer on low-speed and add in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Once the butter has been added, let the mixer run on medium speed, until the mixer resembles pebbles (or large pieces of coarse sand). Turn the mixer back to low and add in the eggs, one at a time. Once combined, pour in the milk and add in the vanilla bean paste. Turn the mixer back to medium speed and let the batter mix for 2 minutes. Evenly distribute the batter into the muffin pan, filling each 3/4 of the way full (I had a little batter- 2 or 3 tablespoons, left over). Be careful not to over-fill. Bake for 18-20 minutes in a preheated oven, or until the cupcakes test clean with a toothpick. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove cupcakes from the pan onto cooling racks, and let cool completely.

2. To make the pastry cream (filling):
In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until they are a light yellow. Whisk in the salt and cornstarch.
Once the milk is at a simmer, slowly pour 1/2 of the milk into the yolk mixture, whisking continuously. Once this is well combined, add in the rest of the milk, continuing to whisk. Pour this combined mixture back into the saucepan on medium heat. Continue whisking until the mixture has thickened (this will take a couple of minutes). Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla bean paste. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the pastry cream (this will prevent a “skin” from forming), and refrigerate for 2 hours.

3. To make the chocolate glaze:
In a microwave safe bowl, combine all the ingredients. Microwave on high for 30 second intervals, stirring after each one, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Let the glaze rest a few minutes to cool and thicken.

4. To assemble the cupcakes:
Take a sharp knife and cut around the inside edge, angled towards the center, and remove a cone-shaped piece* from the top of the cupcake. Fill the cupcake with pastry cream. Trim the cut-out piece so that it is flat (instead of cone-shaped), and place it back on the cupcake (it might not sit flush- that is ok). Repeat this on all the remaining cupcakes. Place the cupcakes on a cooling rack, which is sitting on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. Spoon or pour the chocolate glaze over the tops of the cupcakes, letting the excess chocolate run down the sides. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to let the glaze set. Enjoy!

* I greased and floured my muffin pan as directed, however, I struggled to get the cupcakes to come out cleanly. My pan isn’t non-stick, so that might be my problem.
* I made the cone-shaped cut as directed and ended up with extra pastry cream. However, when Nick and I were eating the finished cupcakes, we both commented that it could use more filling. I think a more straight-down cut into the cupcakes would have enabled more pastry cream to be used. Please keep in mind that this is our personal preference. Also, I had plenty of glaze on each cupcake, yet had a lot remaining. I think you could make half of the glaze recipe and have enough. The extra glaze won’t go waste (!), but I had more than enough for the 12 cupcakes.

Made with love, not calories!

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Chocolate Doughnuts

I finally bought one!

Yup, I bought a doughnut pan!

I love doughnuts. Like, can’t keep them in the house, because that’s all I’ll eat until they are gone- love. So, for that reason alone, I have held out in buying a doughnut pan. However, I finally gave in. To the voices in my head (they were getting really demanding!).

Now, I am in trouble! The doughnuts are delicious. And I want to keep eating them!

Please, kind readers, come and take these doughnuts away from me.

Chocolate Doughnuts
Recipe adapted from Shugary Sweets
Makes 12 doughnuts

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray the doughnut pan with baking spray. Set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add in the wet ingredients and stir until well combined. Fill each doughnut cavity about 3/4 full. Note: for easier filling, you can use a pastry bag or a zip-lock bag and snip off a corner. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, remove the doughnuts from the pan and place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.

To make the glaze: Whisk together the butter, powdered sugar, and milk, until it is well combined and smooth. After the doughnuts  have cooled for 10 minutes, dip the tops into the glaze. Return to the cooling rack to let the glaze set, or eat immediately! Enjoy!

Note: I used a simple powdered sugar glaze for the doughnuts, but I think they would taste even better with a chocolate glaze. Or by adding mini chocolate chips to the batter. I really like the texture of the doughnuts, but the chocolate flavor seemed a little mild to me (not that it stopped me from eating more than I should have!).

Made with love, not calories!

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Weekly Running Recap


Another week…another weekly running recap!

Sunday: Rest
Monday: 45 minute run
Tuesday: 25 minute HIIT
Wednesday: 45 minute run
Thursday: 1 hour incline walk
Friday: 45 minute run
Saturday: 1 hour run

Nothing new or exciting to report this week.


Have a good weekend!

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