Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls With Honey Butter

Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls

I cannot even tell you how happy I’ve been the last few weeks after making these rolls a couple of times.  I have almost grabbed people in the streets and the grocery store to tell them I successfully made dinner rolls with yeast!  I have been tempted to yell across our yard at the black cat that hangs out in the bushes that my rolls turned out.  I have wanted to call my kids and bother them at work and at school to let them know their mother is now not afraid of yeast and it cannot bully her anymore.  Fortunately, I have refrained from doing all these things due to the fact that I think they might want to haul me off to wherever they put out of control food bloggers.  Instead my poor husband has had to suffer my non-stop ranting about how blissful I am and the 21 reasons I think this recipe worked and how many more yeast recipes I am going to try, and aren’t these so beautiful,  you just want to cry?  I think he may want to cry, but it is not because of these rolls!:)

Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls

If I can make these, I think anyone can.  I just want to encourage you to not be afraid, if you have been leery like I was, of making things that contain yeast.  Because of the amazing tips I got from Averie Cooks, whom I will forever be grateful to for opening up a whole new world to me, you can be successful too.  Just follow the instructions exactly.  I would say probably the 2 most important keys to success are using King Arthur Flour (I found it at Wal-Mart) because it has a higher protein content,

Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls

and Red Star Platinum Yeast (I bought mine at Albertsons).

Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls

Red Star Platinum is an instant yeast that you don’t have to proof (let sit in warm liquid for 10 minutes while it is activated) so you can just add it in with your dry ingredients.  This yeast also helps baked goods to rise faster and higher than other yeasts.  Perfect for beginners like me!

Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls

This recipe is wonderful because you are not dealing with massive amounts of flour. It is a great starting point if you are not experienced in bread making.  You can use your stand mixer to do the kneading (yay!), and have rolls on your table in 2-3 hours, of which most of that time is just waiting for the dough to rise.

Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls

Keep in mind these rolls are not sweet.  They have all the spices and color of pumpkin pie, but are not a dessert type roll.  That is where the honey butter comes in.  The combination of the pumpkin pie spices and the sweetness of the honey butter pair so perfectly.

Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls

They would look beautiful on a Thanksgiving table, and they freeze well so you could make them ahead of time.

Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls

I love the color of these rolls.  I love the flavor of these rolls. I love the smell of these rolls while they are baking.   I love the honey butter that you put on these rolls.  I love that these rolls make you feel like it is fall even though it is still 91 degrees outside.  I love everything about them.  And I love you, too, for putting up with my gushing!:)  I hope you try them soon so you can have that same feeling of accomplishment.  It’s amazing how a small success in the kitchen can make you feel like you’re superwoman and that you can do anything.  I may even tackle pie crusts one of these days!

Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls With Honey Butter

  • Servings: 9 Rolls
  • Time: 2-3 hours, most of it for rising
  • Difficulty: moderate (only because it's important to follow instructions exactly)
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For the Dough:

  • 1/3 c milk
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 c pumpkin puree
  • 2 1/4 c King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp. Red Star Platinum Instant Dry Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg (I tried with only 1/2 tsp. and it wasn’t as good)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

For the Honey Butter:

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted (to brush on top of rolls before baking)
  • 2 Tbsp. honey (to brush on top of rolls before baking)
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (for serving at the table)
  • 1/2 c honey (for serving at the table)

For the Dough:

  1. Add the milk to a 2-cup microwave-safe measuring cup, or microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Add butter and heat on high power to melt butter, about 45 seconds.  Stir until butter has melted smoothly into the milk.
  3. Add the egg, pumpkin puree, and whisk to combine.
  4. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or large mixing bowl for hand kneading, add the remaining dough ingredients, through salt.
  5. Return measuring cup to microwave and heat for about 15 seconds to warm mixture up. Stir. This will help to activate the yeast.
  6. Pour wet pumpkin-milk mixture over the dry ingredients.
  7. Turn mixer to low-speed, and knead for 5-8 minutes or until dough is smooth and has come together (it took mine 8 minutes).  This is not a sticky dough and if your dough is sticky, tacky, or gloppy, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is no longer sticky.  You probably won’t need to add any, because 2 1/4 cups is more than enough.  Don’t over-flour your dough because it creates rolls that are dense and heavy (my dough was a tiny bit sticky, but I didn’t add any more flour, and it came out great).
  8. Turn dough out into a mixing bowl that’s been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Flip dough over once so both sides are lightly greased, and cover bowl with plastic wrap.
  9. Place bowl in a warm, draft-free environment until dough has nearly doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes (I did 60).  Do not go by time elapsed on the clock.  Wait until dough has nearly doubled in size, and if it takes longer than an hour, that’s fine.  (My house was not that warm, so while the mixer was kneading, I turned my oven on 200 degrees to heat it up, then turned if off, and put the bowl in with the oven door open for the first 30 minutes.  Then I closed the door and turned the oven light on.  This seemed to work for me, but I would make sure your oven is not too hot if you use this method.)
  10. Punch dough down, and turn it out onto a nonstick surface.  I sprayed a plastic cutting board with cooking spray and didn’t even need to add flour.
  11. Spread dough out a little with your fingers to form a square.  With a long knife, cut into 9 pieces, like a tic-tac-toe grid.
  12. Form each piece into a ball with your hands by pulling the 4 corners together and pinching them.
  13. Place dough balls into a foil-lined and cooking sprayed 9-inch square pan (important).
  14. Cover pan with a sheet of foil, place pan in a warm, draft-free environment until dough has nearly doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.  In the last minutes of rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees (take rolls out first).
  15. Melt 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter in microwave for about 45 seconds on high power.  Add the 2 Tbsp. honey, and stir to combine.  Before baking, generously brush tops of dough balls with honey butter.
  16. Bake for 15-16 minutes, or until puffed, golden, domed, cooked through, and when tapped, the rolls should sound hollow.  Allow rolls to cool in pan until they’re cool enough to handle before serving.
  17. Meanwhile, combine the softened (not melted) 1/2 c butter and honey, and whisk or mix with mixer until fluffy and combined.  Serve with dinner rolls.
  18. Rolls will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 4 days.  Heat in microwave for 5 to 10 seconds as necessary to recreate the just-baked taste and to soften.  Finished (baked) rolls will keep airtight in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally created by Averie Cooks

 

 

Posted in Breads and Rolls, Christmas, Company, Fall Recipes, Recipes, Side Dishes, Thanksgiving Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Caramel Apple Pie Cups

Caramel Apple Pie Cups

I absolutely love anything with crumble or streusal on top – apple pie, peach tarts, blueberry muffins, soup, chicken….Well, not really so much the savory foods, but you get what I mean. This time of year is so much fun in the blogging world because there are a ton of recipes that include crumble.  My “make soon” file is just overflowing with recipes that include streusal, and I couldn’t be happier.  My only dilemma is which one to try next.  This week these Caramel Apple Pie Cups kept calling my name, so I made them – twice!  They were so good, I had to share them with you.

Caramel Apple Pie Cups

These cups contain all the flavors of a caramel apple pie, but you can hold them in your hand, and you don’t have  to make a pie crust.  Instead of a crust, a very simple, but incredibly tasty blondie batter is used to hold the salted caramel, apples, and streusal.  The salted caramel is a simple combination of melted caramels and cream so you don’t have to know how to make caramel to enjoy this recipe.  It is an easy recipe, but there are a few steps and you  have to watch out for 1 thing.  Don’t let the caramel or brown sugar from the cooked apples touch the sides of the muffin tin.  I made a small dent in the middle of the batter so the apples and caramel would be contained more easily.  If you don’t, the caramel and brown sugar can turn hard and crunchy.  They still taste good, but are not the soft texture of an apple pie.

Caramel Apple Pie Cups

I just love these little caramel apple pie cups.  They are good with caramel sauce poured over the top of them, too.

Caramel Apple Pie Cups

To me, the ultimate way to serve them, though, is with vanilla bean ice cream.  The little cups are the perfect holder for the ice cream.  Actually, I think the ultimate way to serve anything is with vanilla bean ice cream so you may want to take that into consideration.  Whether you serve them with or without ice cream, if you like apple pie, you will love them.  They are a great way to get your streusal fix, way better than streusal covered chicken!:)

Caramel Apple Pie Cups

 

Caramel Apple Pie Cups

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For the Apples:

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 c peeled, chopped apples
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg

For the Batter:

  • 1/2 c (1 stick) melted butter
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c flour

For the Caramel Sauce:

  • 20 caramels (about 5.5 oz.), unwrapped (I used Werther’s)
  • 1 Tbsp. cream
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

For the Crumble:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter, slightly softened
  • 6 Tbsp. flour
  • 4 Tbsp. brown sugar

Instructions:

For the Apples:

  1. In a small skillet, melt the 1 Tbsp. butter.
  2. Add the apples, 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Cook for about 3 minutes or until apples are slightly tender.  They don’t have to be cooked all the way through, because they will continue cooking in the oven.
  3. Remove apples from heat and set aside.

For the Batter:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the melted butter and 1 c brown sugar together.
  2. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  3. Add the flour and mix until combined.  Set aside.

For the Caramel:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, place the caramels and cream and heat for 30 seconds.  Stir.  Continue heating at 10 second intervals and stirring until melted, about 50 seconds total.
  2. Stir in the salt and set aside.

For the Crumble:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the slightly softened butter, flour, and brown sugar with a pastry blender or by hand with a fork until mixture resembles coarse sand.  Set aside.

For Assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.  Do not use paper liners, because they will stick.
  3. Add about 2 Tbsp. batter to each muffin tin (I used my 2 Tbsp. cookie scoop).  Make a slight dent in the batter.
  4. Spoon about 4 pieces of apples into each dent without brown sugar liquid or apples touching the tin.
  5. Drizzle about 1 tsp. of caramel on top of apples, making sure to not let the caramel touch the edges of the tin.
  6. Sprinkle crumble evenly over the top of each.
  7. Bake for 15-16 minutes or until the tops are slightly golden.  Center will be slightly underdone.
  8. Let cups cool in the muffin tin.
  9. Once cool, use a knife to loosen the edges before removing.  Serve at room temperature or warm.  If not serving right away, they can easily be warmed by heating in the microwave for 30 seconds.  They are great with ice cream.
  10. Keep leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Recipe on Cook AZ I Do, originally created by The Girl Who Ate Everything

Caramel Apple Pie Cups

Leaning Tower of Pies – ah!:)

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 4th of July Recipes, Apple Recipes, Desserts, Fall Recipes, Party Recipes, Pies, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

This was a very special week!  It was the first time since last May it was cool enough outside in the morning when I woke up to be able to open the door and just have the screen open.  That is a big deal here in Arizona because it means you made it through another summer!  You can almost hear a collective sigh of relief.  And we are all crossing our fingers, wondering if, and hoping that we have seen the last of the 3 digit temperatures.  We attentively watch the weather on the news at night, checking out the 10 day forecast to see if it is going to be close.  So far, so good!  If these are not reasons to start making soup, I don’t know what is!

Butternut Squash Soup

I have always wanted to try making butternut squash soup as I love it roasted.  I have used it in salad, and as a side dish, but never in soup.  I really didn’t know what it would taste like.  I am happy to report it was delicious!  I also had never cooked with fresh sage before so wasn’t sure how that was going to go.  It smelled pretty strong.  I tasted the soup without the sage and with the sage added in, and it made a huge difference in how the soup tasted – in a good way.  It didn’t give it a strong flavor at all, it just gave it a depth of flavor. In other words, it gave the soup a whole new flavor instead of tasting like the ingredients I put in it.  It’s like 1 + 1 = 3.  But that doesn’t make any sense.  Maybe that’s why I enjoy cooking so much.  You don’t have to make sense for things to taste good!:)

butternut squash soup

Butternut Squash Soup would pair beautifully with Apple, Bacon, and Candied Pecan Salad and Autumn Cobb Salad.  Normally I think of salad in the summer, but these are salads that take advantage of some of the autumn colors and flavors and would be perfect with the golden color of the soup.  There are some things I am going to miss about summer, like the powerful monsoon storms that bring rain, and the gorgeous summer sunsets.  But trading those for the cooler air and fall cooking and baking is fine with me right now.  Especially if it includes this soup!

Butternut Squash Soup

  • Servings: 3 quarts
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 3/4 c carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 c celery, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
  • 8 c butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (that ended up to be 1 very large squash for me)
  • 6 c chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • croutons, pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds), or sour cream and paprika (smoked or regular), optional
  1. After you have all of your vegetables chopped, put oil and butter in a large soup pot.  Turn heat on low to melt butter.
  2. Next place onions, carrots, and celery in pot and sauté on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until almost tender.
  3. When vegetables are almost done, pour in minced garlic and stir.  Watch carefully and stir at 1 minute intervals so garlic doesn’t burn.  When garlic is cooked but not brown (about 3-4 minutes), turn off stove.
  4. Add the squash cubes, chicken broth, and chopped sage.  Turn up heat to medium, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until squash is tender.
  5. Puree squash mixture in batches in a blender and return to pot.  If soup has cooled too much, heat up again.
  6. Garnish with croutons, pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds), or sour cream and paprika, if desired. Serve immediately.
  7. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, adapted from Taste of Home Magazine, August/September 2004, page 29,30 from Della Clarke of Vista, California

 

 

Posted in Fall Recipes, Low Fat, Lunch, Main Dish, Recipes, Soups, Weeknight Meals, winter recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

Melt In Your Mouth Candy Corn White Chocolate Cookies

Candy Corn White Chocolate Cookies

I made some cookies the other day that just melted in my mouth and were such a fun way to celebrate the season, I just had to share them with you.  I found the recipe at Averie Cooks which is a wonderful site with a wealth of information about cookie baking.  I will be forever grateful to her for helping me find out how to make cookies that hold their shape without being cakey. If you or your family like candy corn, these are the cookies for you!  With their festive orange, yellow, and white colors, they make such a cute presentation.  They would be perfect for a fall potluck or school party or just to give to someone you know that appreciates candy corn.  Our kids love candy corn, so when our daughter wanted to bring her college roommates over for dinner, I decided these would be perfect for dessert.

Candy Corn White Chocolate Cookies

I was so happy with how these cookies turned out.  They were soft and moist and held their shape beautifully.  There are just a couple of things you need to know about baking them.  First, plan ahead as the dough needs to be refrigerated for at least 3 hours before baking.  This is important so they don’t spread out and become too flat.  Second, make sure there are no candy corns on the bottom of your cookie.  You might have to maneuver the dough a little bit after you scoop them out to make sure there is dough between the bottom of the cookie sheet and the candy corn.  This takes a little extra time, but not long, and is worth it, as the candy corn will melt into a puddle if it is on the bottom. Third, it is really important to use parchment paper or a silpat, also so the cookies won’t spread out too much.  Fourth, consider buying King Arthur all-purpose flour.  It has a higher protein content which helps cookies not to spread out so much as well.  Can you tell I don’t like flat cookies?:)  And finally, make sure you buy white chocolate chips that taste good to you. I found out the hard way that all white chocolate chips are not created equal.  Taste them first and make sure you like them.  I love the white chocolate chips at Trader Joes, but every person is different.  Get the ones you like.  If you follow these simple tips, your cookies should turn out great!

Candy Corn White Chocolate CookiesIt seems like candy corn is a lot like Peeps at Easter.  People either love them or hate them. But if they do love candy corn and you make them these cookies, you better watch out.  You just may have a new best friend for life, or at least until candy corn is no longer available at the grocery store!:)

Candy Corn White Chocolate Cookies

Candy Corn White Chocolate Cookies

  • Servings: 20-26
  • Time: 3hours 45 minutes including refrigeration time
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. cream or half-and-half
  • 2 c all-purpose flour (King Arthur recommended)
  • 2 tsp. corn starch
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • 1 1/2 c candy corn (10 to 11 ounces)
  • 1 c white chocolate chips
  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl and electric hand mixer), cream together the first 5 ingredients (through vanilla) on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the next 5 ingredients (through optional salt), and mix on low-speed until just incorporated, about 1 minute.  Don’t overmix.
  3. Add the candy corn and white chocolate chips, and mix until just incorporated.
  4. Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, leveled, scoop out mounds of cookie dough and roll into balls, making sure there are no candy corns on the bottom of each ball. (This is important as candy corn will melt, burn, or turn runny if they are next to the pan.  The candy corn pieces need to be in the interior of the cookies, shielded and buffered by dough.) Flatten tops of each ball just slightly.  Place balls of dough on a large plate, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
  5. Place plate of dough in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking.  Do not bake with warm dough because cookies will spread and bake thinner and flatter.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Line baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper (important so cookies won’t spread too much.)
  8. Place mounds of dough on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake for about 9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set, even if slightly undercooked, pale, and glossy in the center.  Do not overbake as cookies will firm up as they cool.  Baking longer than 10 minutes could result in cookies with overly browned undersides.
  10. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 9 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  11. Cookies will keep airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 4 months.  Unbaked cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, and originally found at Averie Cooks.

Posted in Company, Cookies, Desserts, Fall Recipes, Food Gifts, Party Recipes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Apple, Bacon, and Candied Pecan Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Apple, Bacon, and Candied Pecan Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Oh my!  This salad!  I can’t stop thinking about it.  It is one of the best salads I’ve ever had.  I think I could drink the dressing, it is so good.  There is just nothing like homemade vinaigrette.  The dressing is just as important to me as the salad as that is pretty much why I eat the salad.  And if the salad doesn’t have enough dressing on it, I am not a happy camper.  I always order extra dressing at restaurants, and in this day and age where most women dip their fork into the dressing and then into a piece of lettuce so they don’t get too much, the server usually looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. (If that’s true, just put me in a padded cell with this salad and plenty of dressing, and I’ll be happy)! Really, though, you have to choose which food is important to splurge on, and for me salad dressing is one of them, along with ice cream, and chocolate chip cookies! (If I start to put chocolate chip cookies or ice cream on my salad, then you may need to start worrying!):)

Apple, Bacon, and Candied Pecan Salad with Balsamic  Vinaigrette

Not only is this dressing amazing, though, the ingredients in the salad are just about as good as it gets!  With  apples, bacon, feta, candied pecans, and Craisins, you have that whole salty/sweet thing going on and every bite is bursting with flavor. The slight tang of the balsamic vinaigrette compliments the flavors perfectly. The colors are so pretty too, it is like having fall in a bowl and makes a beautiful presentation.

Apple, Bacon, and Candied Pecan Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

I found this recipe on Cooking Classy‘s blog. She added chicken to this salad to make it more of a main dish, but we were having chicken for dinner, so I left it out and made it as a side.  I’m sure I will be making it again both ways in the future.  She has so many delicious recipes on her site, she is usually the first one I check out when I am looking for a particular food or need an idea for dinner.  Every one of hers that I’ve tried has been so flavorful as well as using easily accessible ingredients.  I’m so glad to have found this recipe for such a beautiful and scrumptious fall salad.   I hope you try it.  I know you’ll go crazy for it as well!:)

Apple, Bacon, and Candied Pecan Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For the Salad:

  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and diced
  • 2 medium apples, sliced
  • 1/3 to 1/2 c chopped, candied pecans or walnuts
  • 5 oz. spring mix and spinach lettuce blend
  • 6 oz. crumbled feta or blue cheese
  • 1/3 to 1/2 c Craisins (dried, sweetened cranberries)

For the Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 c canola oil
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped shallot
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  1. In a mason jar or blender, add oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, finely diced shallot, salt, and pepper.  Either shake with lid on in the jar or blend in the blender until well emulsified and thickened slightly.
  2. Layer all salad ingredients into individual salad bowls or 1 large bowl.
  3. Serve drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.
  4. Store any leftover dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe slightly adapted by Cook AZ I Do,  originally from Cooking Classy

 

 

 

 

Posted in Apple Recipes, Company, Fall Recipes, Lunch, Recipes, Salads, Side Dishes | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Soft and Colorful Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

We hosted a game night at our house this weekend, and I decided we couldn’t have game night without cookies.  They seemed like the perfect dessert to snack on while playing a game.  I thought about making chocolate chip cookies, but my favorite recipe for those calls for the dough to stay in the refrigerator overnight, and I didn’t plan ahead enough to make them.  That set me to looking for a new recipe to try, and I came across this one that I have had in my files for years but never made.  I really didn’t expect them to turn out that great, because I have had some major cookie flops in the past.  For me they have to be soft, and hold their shape, but at the same time melt in your mouth.  I don’t like cookies that come out flat as a pancake or are hard and crunchy. Happily, these exceeded all my expectations!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies held their shape incredibly well. I thought they were almost too tall at first, but they flattened out just the right amount as they cooled.  They were also thick and soft and gooey in the middle.  The key is not to over-bake them in order to get soft cookies.  You want to take them out of the oven when they are still a little bit underdone.  Then don’t move them off of the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes.  These cookies are also very chocolaty thanks to the addition of chocolate chips and M&Ms.  By the way, did you know they have Caramel Apple M&Ms now?  I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t grab a bag when I saw them.  I love how festive these colorful candies are, and that you can get them in different  colors (and evidently different flavors now) depending on the season.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

These really were some of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten.  It’s a good thing I was making them for game night, as I think I could have eaten the whole batch myself.  Even Jeff who pretty much won’t eat any cookies besides plain chocolate chip, liked them a lot.  I found out he had hidden some away from the night before to eat with his coffee the next morning. I took that as a compliment!  I hope the next time you have game night at your house, or just need some cookies in your life, you will give these a try. Their festive color and chocolaty taste make you feel like you won a prize whether you are playing a game or not!

Colorful Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

  • Servings: 21-24
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c quick oats
  • 3/4 c M&Ms
  • 3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1 whole egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 c butter, slightly softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Mix first 9 ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add last 3 ingredients to bowl.  Mix until combined.
  3. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls.
  4. Place on a parchment covered baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 7 minutes in a 375 degree oven until just starting to turn brown.  For soft cookies, do not over-bake.
  6. Let cool on cookie sheet for about 7 minutes before moving them to a plate.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do

Recipe slightly adapted from Bakerella’s Cowgirl Cookies

 

 

Posted in Cookies, Desserts, Party Recipes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

I have really been enjoying all the summer fruit, especially the berries that are sweet and ripe and less expensive right now. Most of the time I just eat them by the handful, but these raspberry lemon muffins are another way to take advantage of the season.  There is something about the combination of lemon and raspberries – they just go perfectly together.  The nice thing about these muffins is they call for lemon extract and since lemons aren’t in season, it works out nicely and still gives the muffins a great lemony flavor.  Not to mention, the texture is so moist – they just melt in your mouth!

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

This recipe is super simple, and pretty much amounts to dumping the ingredients into a bowl, mixing briefly, and baking.  If you don’t have access to ripe raspberries, frozen works great as well.  When you don’t have fresh, frozen is nice as the color doesn’t bleed into the muffins.  One small tip, I throw the raspberries and the flour in at the same time, and this seems to keep the raspberries from sinking to the bottom.  Just be careful to fold them in gently, but this works out well as you don’t really want to overmix the flour either.

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

After the muffins have completely cooled, if you don’t need them right away, or if you have some left, place them in a Ziploc-type baggy, and throw them in the freezer.  They keep very well for at least a month and you can enjoy them again later.  This recipe is one of my favorites to serve to company alongside an egg dish.  That way half of your work is done ahead of time, and since I’m not a morning person, that is very good news!

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

I also like to give these to my kids for a quick breakfast.  They can be thawed in the microwave in seconds.  My kids are grown now, but it is always fun to give them something to take home when they stop by unexpectedly. If I keep doing this, maybe they will keep coming back every once in a while! I can just pretend they came by to see my husband and me!:)

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

  • Servings: 18-20
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 c half & half or light cream
  • 1/2 c canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1 1/2 c fresh or frozen raspberries plus more for garnishing.
  1. Combine the sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. In another small bowl, combine the eggs, half & half or light cream, oil, and lemon extract, and stir until mixed.
  3. Pour egg mixture over sugar mixture and mix well.
  4. Add flour and raspberries, and stir gently until just mixed.
  5. Spoon into 18 greased or paper-lined muffin cups about 2/3 full.  Add a few more raspberries to the top of each one.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes.  Watch carefully after 15 minutes to make sure you don’t overbake.  Test with toothpick to see if done.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do

 

 

 

Posted in Breads and Rolls, Breakfast, Company, Recipes, Summer Recipes, Valentine's Day | Tagged , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Watermelon Mango Salsa

Watermelon Mango Salsa

We just got back from vacation, and I noticed the date (time seems to stop when you’re traveling).  I was just amazed that it is already the last part of August!  How did that happen?  Then, because I like to cook seasonally, I realized there is not that much more summer left for all the summery recipes I want to try.  So many recipes, so little time.  I realize this is a self-imposed deadline because in reality, we can cook anything whenever we want.  But there is something so satisfying about looking forward to a season, especially here in Arizona where what you are cooking is sometimes the only way to tell what season it is.  Thoughts of dishes with apples, caramel, and pumpkin have started creeping into my mind, and I am looking forward to fall.  But, until then, I am going to enjoy a few more summer recipes I have been wanting to try.  Hence, this fruity watermelon mango salsa!

Watermelon Mango Salsa

I have never made or eaten a fruit salsa before and wondered how it would taste.  It is such an interesting combination of ingredients.  The beautiful colors of this salsa are what attracted me to it in the first place.  I figured something so pretty just had to be good.  And I was right!  It is very fresh tasting and a yummy combination of sweet and a tiny bit spicy.  There is a lime dressing you pour over the fruit that is more like a vinaigrette (minus the oil) that gives it additional, yet subtle flavor.  I don’t know how jalapeno, lime, mango, cucumber, watermelon, and onions end up tasting so good together, but they do.  Just be sure to drain the watermelon and mangoes for a little while before adding them to the salsa or your dressing will become diluted.  Also, don’t be afraid to add all the ingredients called for.  I was tempted to leave out the pepper and garlic salt because that just sounded strange to me, but it really does work. And, if you want to try something different, serve this salsa with cinnamon and sugar pita chips.  I loved the combination.

Watermelon Mango Salsa

I would never want to replace my traditional salsa with fruit salsa, but I think it would make a good addition to a summer bar-b-que, along with all the others.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m thinking this would be very good on fish as well.  If you like salsa and you like fruit, give this salsa a try.  But you better hurry, summer is almost over.  I wonder how pumpkin salsa would taste?:)

Watermelon Mango Salsa

Watermelon Mango Salsa

  • Servings: 5-10
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 1/2 tsp. lime zest
  • 1/4 c fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
  • 3 c seeded and diced watermelon
  • 1 or 2 mangos, peeled and diced or 1 1/2 to 2 c frozen mango chunks, diced and thawed
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 or 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • tortilla chips or pita chips, for serving
  1.  Stir together the lime zest, lime juice, sugar, and 3/4 tsp pepper in a bowl.  Set aside.
  2. After dicing the watermelon and mango, place the pieces in a colander to drain while dicing everything else.
  3. When the rest of the ingredients are diced, place all ingredients including the dressing in a large bowl, and gently toss to coat.
  4. Cover and chill the salsa until ready to serve.  Add the garlic salt just before serving and stir.
  5. Serve with tortilla chips or cinnamon and sugar pita chips.
  6. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally found in Food Network Magazine, June 2013

 

 

 

Posted in Cinco de Mayo, Company, Low Fat, Mexican, Party Recipes, Recipes, Salsas, Summer Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

Gooey Dark Chocolate Brownie Sundaes

Dark Chocolate Brownies

There are a few basic recipes that I want to be able to make without having to think about it and search for a recipe every time I make them.  Some of those things are a good pancake recipe, chocolate chip cookie recipe, a recipe for bar-b-q pulled pork, beef tacos, coleslaw, and several others. Some of those are already on this blog, and others I am still looking for and experimenting to find the best one. A great brownie recipe is on that list, too.  But to tell you the truth, I have been very lazy about looking for one as Ghiradelli Brownie boxed mix is so good, and so quick to make.  I really do prefer to make things from scratch, though, and in general think they taste so much better, and you know for sure what is in them. However, I have strict requirements for brownies.  They have to be extremely chocolaty in a dark chocolate kind of way, very moist and fudgy rather than cakelike, and contain chocolate chips as well.  This week after analyzing about a zillion brownie recipes and 1 extreme failure that I wouldn’t even feed my dog, if I had a dog,  I think I found the perfect recipe for my chocolaty brownie cravings!

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Did you know homemade brownies are very easy to make, almost as easy as buying a box mix (almost).  You don’t even need to use a mixer, or let the butter come to room temperature, or sift, or anything. Yay!  It starts with melting butter and chocolate together, and then just adding a few more ingredients and stirring.  I decided to pour my batter into mini-cast iron skillets, and make ice cream sundaes out of them. I under-baked them a little so they were gooey and perfect with ice cream and chocolate sauce on top. Ideally you would serve these warm out of the oven, however, I was taking them to my parents’ house for a family dinner, and the timing didn’t work out for that, but they were just as good at room temperature and still soft inside.  If you prefer, though, you can just as easily use an 8×8 or 9×13-inch pan and slice them into individual bars.

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Out of all the recipes I looked at and tried, the one that met all of my requirements was from The Pioneer Woman.  I shouldn’t be surprised.  I love her recipes.  She is the one that made me want to start blogging.  It was so funny, too, while I was making her brownies, her show came on TV, and it was like we were cooking together.  It was a very bonding experience (on my part).  We are so much closer now (she doesn’t know I exist).  And I look forward to when we can bake together again (in my dreams).  Anyway, I am so thankful to her for so many great recipes over the years and especially this one for rich, chocolaty brownies that I know I will be making over and over again for years to come.

Dark Chocolate Brownie Sundaes

  • Servings: 4 mini-skillets or 9-15 bars
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

  • 1 c salted butter (not margarine)
  • 5 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate (recommended: Ghiradelli  or a good quality brand – I ended up using 4 oz. 60% dark chocolate and 1 oz. semi-sweet chocolate because the store didn’t have what I wanted, and it came out great)
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder (recommended: Ghiradelli  or a good quality brand)
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 3 whole large eggs
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (recommended:  Ghiradelli or a good quality brand)
  • ice cream
  • store-bought chocolate sauce or chocolate ganache
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over low heat, stirring until smooth and melted.
  3. Sprinkle in cocoa powder and stir to combine.
  4. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
  5. Place sugar and vanilla in a medium-size bowl.
  6. Pour chocolate mixture over sugar/vanilla mixture.
  7. One at a time, stir in the eggs.
  8. Gently stir in the flour until halfway incorporated.
  9. Add the chocolate chips, and stir just until combined.
  10. If making mini-skillet sundaes, place one cup of batter into 4 different mini-skillets.  If making bars, pour into an 8×8 or 9×13-inch pan (square pan will result in thicker brownies).  Spread to even out the batter, and place in oven.
  11. For skillet brownies, bake about 20 minutes for slightly underdone, gooey brownies, or another 5 minutes for more done brownies, checking with a toothpick to achieve desired doneness.  For 8×8 or 9×13-inch pan brownies, bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, testing with a toothpick after 30 minutes.  For the best brownies, be careful not to overbake.
  12. For pan brownies, allow to cool before slicing.  For skillet brownies, serve warm with your favorite ice cream and chocolate sauce on top.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally created by The Pioneer Woman

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

 

 

 

 

Posted in Bars, Cabin Recipes, Cast Iron Skillet Recipes, Company, Desserts, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Let’s Taco ‘Bout It! – Review of Joyride Taco House Restaurant

Joyride Taco House

Let’s taco ’bout something – my favorite restaurant of the summer, Joyride Taco House! It really does live up to its name.  Eating there makes me happy!  I love everything about it, the tacos, the salsa, the atmosphere, the decor, and the beautiful patio.

Joyride Taco House

This restaurant is one of several restaurants created by the same owners whose philosophy includes taking old buildings in urban areas and turning them into restaurants.  Each is unique in style and full of character as well as good food.  I reviewed another one of their restaurants, Postinos, last year.  Joyride used to be an old Italian restaurant named Aiello’s and long before that was Humpty Dumpty’s Coffee Shop.  It has been updated with a coral, turquoise, and yellow color palate which contributes to its joyful atmosphere.  The decor has a modern, urban feel to it.

Joyride Taco House

One of my favorite elements is the extremely long, bright turquoise booth where there is plenty of seating to people watch and visit if you have to wait for a table.

Joyride Taco House

If you love to sit outside like I do, Joyride has a great patio which is shaded by umbrellas during the day and the building itself blocks the sun in the late afternoon and evenings.

Joyride Taco House

There is also a mist system that allows you to stay on the patio despite the summer heat! Yay!!

Joyride Taco House

A couple of my favorite things about the patio besides the misters, are the large trees and little white lights,

Joyride Taco House

and the fireplace.

Joyride Taco House

Now, let’s taco ’bout the food!  Chips and salsa are a very important part of Mexican food in Arizona, and the house salsa is incredible (see my recipe for Chipotle Salsa for something similar).  You also have a choice of 4 other salsas if you choose.

Joyride Taco House

There are 11 tacos on the menu, and it is my goal to happily work my way through all of them this summer (so many tacos, so little time)!  They have several different fish tacos, a couple of types of chicken ones, a veggie choice, and several beef tacos.  All of them have interesting sauces and condiments on them with names I can’t always pronounce and often times have no idea what they are, but I haven’t found one I don’t like yet.  I have tried the grilled fish taco,

Joyride Taco House

breaded fish taco,

Joyride Taco House

chicken tinga taco,

Joyride Taco House

the standard chicken taco,

Joyride Taco House

and one of the beef tacos so far.  All of them were unique and delicious!  It’s hard to pick a favorite.  Tortilla soup is another option which is so flavorful and full of all kinds of yummy ingredients.  (You can see in the background we inhaled the salsa and pretty much licked the bowl clean.)

Joyride Taco House

If tacos and tortilla soup are not your cup of tea or should I say, your bowl of salsa, a variety of burritos, tortas, enchiladas, and tamales are on the menu.  There are also some great sides –  fresh salads (one of the dressing options is prickly pear vinaigrette which was wonderful),

Joyride Taco House

and Mexican Street Corn,

Joyride Taco House

just to name a couple we enjoyed.  The servers have all been very attentive and friendly as well, and we have had a great time every time we’ve eaten at Joyride.

Jeff Kelley, Vicki and Don Poor

Joyride Taco House

After looking through all these pictures, it sure makes me want to go back again.  By the way, what are you doing for lunch?:)

Joyride Taco House

Joyride Taco House

5202 N. Central Avenue

Phoenix, AZ   85012

602-274-8226

or

302 N. Gilbert Road

Gilbert, AZ   85233

480-632-8226

Hours:

M-Th 11-11

F,S 11-12

Sun. 11-10

Menu:  Joyridetacohouse.com

 

Joyride Taco House

 

 

 

 

Posted in Restaurant Reviews, Things to Do in Arizona | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments