Halloween Baking

We are hanging out at home today, trying to lay low until trick-or-treating time because Cooper has been sick this past week and we’re trying not to overdo it.

In the interest of A.  using up some bananas that really need to be used up, and B. finding something to do other than clean my house, I decided to bake. 

First up:

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I tried to go not super-sweet and as healthy as possible in the hopes that Coops would eat some of it.  I think I was pretty successful.  Here it is…

3 T. mostly melted butter (I put it in the ‘wave for about 30 sec or so)

2  1/2 c. white whole wheat flour

1/3 c. brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp baking powder

1 egg

3/4 T. vanilla extract

3 medium bananas, fork mashed

1/4 c. milk

3/4 c. mini chocolate chips


Preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease, butter, or spray a regular loaf pan. 

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  In separate bowl, beat together bananas, egg, milk, vanilla and butter.  Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir until well combined.  Then add mini chocolate chips and stir until mixed in.  This batter is very thick, but make sure everything is moistened.  If necessary, splash in a little more milk, but mine was fine.

Spoon the batter into your loaf pan and bake until lightly browned on top and a toothpick comes out clean.  Mine took about 35 mins or so.  Let rest for a few minutes after removing from oven, and then flip out onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Next, I decided to use one of my big, lovely, organic Honeycrisp apples to try something completely new.  I started adding my favorite ingredients and this is what I came up with.  I must say, these aren’t the prettiest little mini muffins, but wow are they delish!

Mini Oatmeal Apple Cinnamon Chip Muffins

4 T. melted butter

2 c. white whole-wheat flour

1 c. quick-cooking oats

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c. cinnamon chips (found in the chocolate chip aisle)

3 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1/3 c. milk

1 large honeycrisp (or any kind) apple, coursely grated

1 tsp. vanilla


Preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease, butter or spray a mini muffin tin. (You could use a regular sized one, as well). 

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl.  Beat together egg, milk, vanilla, apple and butter.  Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine.  Then stir in cinnamon chips until well mixed.  Spoon batter into mini muffin tin, filling each cup up to slightly more than 3/4 full.  You should completely fill one mini muffin tin (12 muffins).

Sprinkle top of each muffin with brown sugar.

Bake until toothpick comes out clean.  About 20 minutes or so.  Remove from tin and cool on rack.


Ghiradelli Grand Fudge Cupcakes
November 3, 2009, 4:00 pm
Filed under: Desserts


Yesterday was my Dad’s birthday.  I already know he doesn’t really want “gifts” in the usual sense.  He much prefers just having his kids and grandkids come visit, or sharing a burger for dinner or something.  He’s also a man who loves his desserts.  When he was younger, the man could put away an entire sheet cake in a day or two and never gain a pound.  What ugly twist of fate occurred that I inherited none of those genes!?

I saw a recipe on a Ghiradelli cannister of unsweetened cocoa that I had in my cupboard for Ghiradelli Grand Fudge Cake.  It’s a two-layer cake covered in Ghiradelli buttercream frosting.  Sounded delicious, but honestly, at 6 in the a.m. yesterday with a cranky child who woke up at 5 a.m. thanks to ridiculous daylight savings, I just didn’t have it in me to do a layer cake.  I decided on cupcakes with the same frosting.

They turned out magnificently!  I don’t do cupcakes very often, so I was worried, but they were the most moist, rich, oh-so-chocolatey cupcakes I’ve ever attempted…and a big hit with the birthday boy, which was most important!

Ghiradelli Grand Fudge Cupcakes

2 c. all purpose flour

3/4 c. Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. butter, softened

1 3/4 c. sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

2 large eggs

1 1/3 c. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add liners to cupcake tin.

In medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.  In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add vanilla and eggs one at a time, scraping bowl after each addition.  Alternately add flour mixture and milk (starting and ending with the flour mixture), while mixing on low speed.  Continue to mix until smooth.  Spoon into muffin liners.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Ghiradelli Buttercream Frosting

6 T. butter, softened

2 1/3 confectioner’s sugar

1/2 c. Ghiradelli Unsweetened cocoa

1/3 c. milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy.  In separate bowl, mix confectioner’s sugar with cocoa.  Blend sugar mixture with butter alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.  Beat until smooth.  Blend in vanilla.

My dad is also a huge fan of coffee, so at the end, I grated an espresso chocolate bar over the top for a little added flavor….


Betty’s Apple Crisp
October 28, 2009, 7:45 pm
Filed under: Desserts

A few nights ago I decided to try out the tried-and-true Betty Crocker recipe for apple crisp and was so surprised to realize how unbelievably simple it is!

I made a little more involved apple crisp about a month ago, but really, how “involved” can apple crisp really get?  Isn’t it all about the simplicity of ingredients and the flavors of the apples shining through?  Regardless, I can’t find the first recipe, which I actually liked better, though D.Jones preferred Betty’s.  It did turn out well, but a tad sweet for my taste, which may, in part, have been because I used Honeycrisps, which are pretty sweet themselves.  Anyhoo…here it is.

Betty Crocker’s Apple Crisp

4 medium tart cooking apples, sliced (4 cups)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  Cream or Ice cream, if desired

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter 8-inch square pan.  Spread apples in pan.   In separate mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except cream.  Sprinkle over apples.  Bake 30 minutes or until topping is browned and apples are tender.  Top with ice cream or cream if desired.

See.  Super simple!


I do my apple crisp “straight-up” as pictured, but my husband topped his with Ben & Jerry’s Cake Batter ice cream, which I must admit, was pretty darn fabulous~


Witches Fingers
October 25, 2009, 1:57 pm
Filed under: Desserts

Every year, all of my siblings, our spouses, and kids all gather at my parent’s house for an annual pumpkin carving.  Most years, everyone brings an appetizer, and my mom makes some central dish.

This year my contribution was dessert in the form of severed witches fingers.  I found the recipe here and made a few very small tweaks, so mine turned out like this:


The only real differences to the recipe listed at the link is that I subbed all almond instead of the almond/vanilla mix, and used 1 1/2 tsp. almond, mostly because my mom loves almond in her cookies.  I whipped up some vanilla frosting that I colored red, and dipped the “stump” ends in to make them look a little bloody, and I painted the fingernails with green food coloring, which turned out looking greenish-blackish, and was perfect for witchy fingers.

My nieces and nephews alternated between giggling about how gross they were, and gobbling them up.  They were also a more dainty, crisp cookie than I thought they would be, and the adults loved them as well.

The pumpkin carving was also a success, and as usual, my more patient and artsy relatives turned out some pieces of art…


Happy Halloween, everybody!

Apple Oatmeal Cookies
October 19, 2009, 7:32 pm
Filed under: Desserts

Still enjoying the heck out of the season’s Honeycrisp harvest, and not wanting to leave my house after a hectic, short trip to southeastern Wisconsin to visit family for the weekend, I told the boy that he could help me make cookies.  I tried to make them as healthy as I could, and still delicious, so this is what we came up with….

Apple Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 c. butter

1 1/4 c. brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 c. milk

3 c. old fashioned oatmeal

1 c.  flour

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 T. vanilla

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 large peeled and diced Honeycrisp (or any apple of your choice)  If small, use 2.

1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly spray or grease baking sheet.  Cream butter, brown sugar, egg, milk and vanilla until smooth.  In separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.  Stir to combine and then add in oats, stirring again.  Add to creamed mixture a little at a time, beating on low.  When combined, stir in apples and walnuts.  If batter seems too liquid at this point,  add in a slight bit more flour.  I probably added in about 2 to 2 1/2 more tablespoons because mine seemed loose.

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto cookie sheet and bake approximately 12 minutes or so, until beginning to brown on the bottom. 

The result is a moist, almost cake-like cookie that captures the taste (and smell) of autumn. 

3 of them with a nice cup of coffee ended up being my lunch…


Baked Apple
October 5, 2009, 1:37 am
Filed under: Desserts

Tonight I enjoyed my first attempt at baked apples.  At this moment, as I set down my spoon and reflect on my late night snack,  I can’t think of a tastier evening treat that takes so little time.  Absolutely delicious…and so, so easy.

Since there were only 2 of us still awake to partake, I only made 2, but you can just change out the size of the pan and the number of apples to make any amount.

So, I’m not going to type it out like a recipe because it’s so simple and I measured nothing, so I’ll just tell you what I did, and then let you drool over the photos.

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees.  While it was heating, I placed a small amount of water in a glass loaf pan.  Just enough to cover the bottom.   I then cored 2 nice large Honeycrisp.  You can use any apple that you like, though.   Dig out slightly around where the core would be as well, to make a little room for what you’re going to stuff it with.  Make sure you don’t cut through the bottom of the apple though.

For mine, I first placed a small amount of chopped walnuts, then packed in a little brown sugar. Then a pat of butter…maybe 1/2 T., then filled the remainder of the opening with more packed brown sugar and a small sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg.

For my husband’s, I omitted the nuts because he doesn’t like nuts in any of his desserts, but otherwise, pretty much did the same thing.

Place the apples in the loaf pan, and bake for oh, about half and hour.  You want the apple soft, but not smooshy.

Here is mine as it came out of the oven…


And moments later, beautifully oozing with a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s Dublin Mudslide ice cream.  Whoa…  Plain old vanilla would be delicious.  The flavors of Irish cream and a touch of chocolate brought it to new heights. 


I have a miserable cold right now that I can’t take anything for because of the upcoming new Jones family addition, so today, I thought nothing could make me happy, until my first scoop of this, that is.  Mmm…the tastes of autumn.

Bailey’s Cheesecakes
September 1, 2009, 3:02 am
Filed under: Desserts

I was looking around online today and came across this wonderful recipe for beautiful little individual cheesecakes made in a muffin tin of all things!  I thought it was a fantastic idea and couldn’t stop thinking about them all day, until finally I gave in and made a quick trip to the neighborhood grocery store to pick up some things to make my own version.

Here was my inspiration over at The Way the Cookie Crumbles, and the following is what I came up with, really, because I’m not that big of a fan of peaches.  The recipe is essentially the same thing, but with Bailey’s substituting for the Amaretto, and strawberries for the peaches.  Oh, and I inadvertently forgot to add the heavy cream, and they still turned out perfectly…go figure.  I guess I lightened them up without even trying to….

Individual Bailey’s Cheesecakes

For the crust:

3 T. softened butter

1/3 c. sugar

pinch of salt

1 egg

3/4 c. all purpose flour

For the cheesecakes:

4 8oz boxes of cream cheese, room temp

1 1/3 c. sugar

1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs

1/3 c. Bailey’s liquer, plus additional Bailey’s for serving

2 tsp lemon juice

fresh strawberries

1 dark chocolate bar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin thoroughly with nonstick spray. 

For the crust;

Beat the butter with hand mixer until smooth.  Add in the sugar and salt and beat until creamy.  Add the egg and mix well.   Add in the flour and ditch the mixer for a spoon.  Stir until well combined.   Divide the mixture evenly between 24 muffin tins and spread over the bottom of each muffin cup.  Bake 7 to 9 minutes until they begin to brown around the edges.  Remove from oven and place muffin tins on cooling racks.   Reduce your oven temp to 325 degrees.

 Meanwhile, begin making the filling:

Beat all 4 blocks of cream cheese with hand mixture until very smooth.  Add sugar and salt and continue mixing.  Add eggs one at a time, throroughly mixing between eggs.  Add 1/3 c. Bailey’s and the lemon juice and mix until well blended. 

Pour batter into the muffin cups, filling them evenly to the top.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the internal temp reaches 150 degrees.  Remove muffin tins from oven and place them back on the cooling racks until they come close to room temp.  Then carefully remove the cheesecakes from the muffin tins and refrigerate until cool. 

Top with sliced strawberries, chopped dark chocolate and a splash of Bailey’s. 

(Truth is, my husband and I couldn’t wait for them to cool and ate 2 of them warm.  I also took the photos while they were still warm, so you can see they stood up pretty well, even before being refrigerated.)

Oh, and speaking of…I hear him going for round #2 right now!  Who can blame him!?  They really are beautiful and they taste even better than they look…


These may just become my new favorite homemade dessert, so a huge thank you to The Way The Cookie Crumbles for sharing….