Brown Sugar Pecan Pear Muffins

Last weekend Andrew and I traveled to Columbus, Ohio for a long weekend for a wonderful baby shower that Andrew’s aunt threw us. We had a great time, but as always the days just flew by. It seemed like we had just arrived when we had to turn around and head back home for work. We had a great time, saw lots of friends and family and it made me realize how much I really miss living in Columbus. Before we left, my parents loaded down our SUV with about 10 pounds of pears from their pear tree. The past few years the tree didn’t produce many pears, but for some reason this summer the tree is loaded. Maybe the pear tree loved the super hot and dry summer that we had. Who knows, all I know is that our kitchen is overflowing with tree ripe pears! The pears are so juicy and delicious that we have been eating many out of hand. Saturday morning I decided to whip up a batch of these brown sugar pecan pear muffins. They were devoured within minutes of coming out of the oven! Packed with warm spices, ripe pears and chopped pecans, these muffins were the perfect way to celebrate the unofficial start of fall!

One Year Ago: Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal      

Two Years Ago: Corn Bread with Honey Butter 

Brown Sugar Pecan Pear Muffins

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  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups finely chopped, peeled, ripe pears (about 6 medium)
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and salt; set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, oil and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, make a well in center of dry ingredients; pour egg mixture into well. Gently fold dry ingredients into wet, giving mixture only a few turns until just moistened. Fold in pears and pecans. Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups, smoothing the tops. Bake until muffin tops are a pale golden and springy to the touch, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes before serving.

Yields: about 2 dozen
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes

Source: adapted from Taste of Home

Posted in Breads & Muffins, Breakfast | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Make-Ahead Cheesy Pigs in a Blanket

Well it’s finally the day! The day I have been waiting for since last November…Ohio State Football is set to kickoff in only a few hours! 😀 Andrew and I are huge Ohio State fans. You know the kind of people who deck out in their Ohio State gear every game, wear buckeye beads, even put jerseys on our little dogs. Yep, that’s us…don’t judge! 😉 I only wish we lived closer to Columbus, Ohio so I could feel the energy that I am sure is streaming through the streets right now! Unfortunately, since we live about seven hours away, we have to have our own tailgate right here! I figured I would start the season off right with some football appetizers that adults and kids alike will enjoy-Pigs In a Blanket!  These are not any old pigs in a blanket though, this recipe uses a homemade cream biscuit dough to encase the hot dogs. No more of that refrigerated crescent roll dough! These babies are homemade and so fast and easy to throw together! And want to hear one of the best parts? You can make these ahead of time, pop them in your freezer and just bake a few at a time as you need them! Super easy and super delicious! If you missed my College Football Bites Roundup yesterday, check it out HERE. There are tons of football approved treats! Oh yeah…and GO BUCKS! 😀

One Year Ago: Coffee Break Muffins                    

Two Years Ago: Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes 

Make-Ahead Cheesy Pigs in a Blanket

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  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 6 hot dogs


  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse to combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Add shortening and pulse butter into flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs , about six 1-second pulses. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Mix in cheese and cream and stir to bring the dough into a rough ball. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 8-10 times, or until smooth.
  2. Roll the dough into a 15 by 10-inch rectangle. Brush the dough all over with the beaten egg. Cut the rectangle into six 5-inch squares (cut in thirds the long way, and half on the short side). Add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour to a shallow dish. Pat the hot dogs dry with paper towels then dredge them in the flour, shaking off any excess. Working with one hot dog at a time, place it in the center of one of the squares, then roll the dough around the hot dog, pinching at the seam to close. Cut each dough-covered hot dog into 4 pieces and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with all hot dogs until you’ve used all the dough.
  3. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and let the pigs in a blanket get firm – this will take about 30 minutes. At this point, you can either proceed to bake them or transfer them to a resealable plastic bag and freeze for up to 1 month.
  4. To bake: preheat oven to 425 F. Bake the pigs in a blanket for 20-25 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown and fairly firm to the touch. Let cool slightly before serving.

Yields: 24 pigs in a blanket

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes

Source: Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, originally from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2012

Don’t forget to check out my GIVEAWAY! You can win a copy of the new cookbook Cake Balls :) Click HERE for your chance to win!

Posted in Appetizers, Snacks | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

College Football Bites Roundup

Andrew and I last year at the Ohio State Vs. Illinois game.

Tomorrow marks one of my favorite days of the year! The kickoff to the college football season! Although college football officially kicked off on Thursday night, for me it doesn’t officially start until Ohio State takes the field! I am so excited for this coming season. We are finally back in the Associated Press Top 25 Preseason rankings (we weren’t last year) at #18 and we have Urban Meyer as the new coach! I have to say that I am a little disappointed with the lack of excitement over college football here in Central Illinois. Growing up in Columbus, Ohio everyone lived and breathed the Ohio State Buckeyes. Unfortunately here in Peoria, college football just isn’t as popular. Nonetheless, every Saturday we fly our Buckeye flag, wear our jerseys and buckeye beads and hope that the Buckeyes can pull off a win.

Me and the “boys”, Hemingway and Winston, ready to celebrate an Ohio State win!

If you are planning some tailgating parties this college football season you are going to want to check out my recipes each week. Last year I featured a football bite for each week of the college football season. Everyone loved it so much that I am doing it again this year! Make sure you come back tomorrow for my first College Football Bite of the 2012 season! But right now, let’s look back at the 13 football bites from last year…

Week One: Pizza Pretzel Bites 

Pretzel bites stuffed with mozzarella and pepperoni. You can stuff these the night before and place them in the refrigerator. When you are ready to make just let them rise on the counter while you boil the water and preheat the oven. Just boil, bake and serve.

Week Two: Slow Roasted Pulled Pork

Tender, flavorful melt in your mouth pulled pork that is slow roasted for up to 12 hours.

Week Three: Mini Corn Dogs

Bite-sized hot dogs dipped in cornbread batter and fried to golden perfection.

Week Four: Buffalo Chicken Bites

These bite-sized Buffalo Chicken Bites are oven baked, not fried, so not only do they taste great, but are so much healthier for you. They are super easy to make and can even be prepared beforehand if you are hosting a big football party.

Week Five: Texas Chili

Big chunks of beef, spices, chipotle chiles and beans are simmered together to make an incredible chili that your guests will be talking about for weeks! Although the cooking time is well over several hours, the slow cooker does all the work! That means you will have more time to watch every play and spend with your guests.

Week Six: Beer Battered Fried Pickles

Warm, crunchy, beer battered pickles served with a ranch dipping sauce.

Week Seven: Buffalo Wings

Football just isn’t football without some buffalo wings! Sink your teeth into these crispy, crunchy, lightly breaded wings bathed in hot sauce and served with homemade a creamy blue cheese.

Week Eight: Queso Blanco Dip

This recipe is so quick and easy you can have it on your table in less than 10 minutes! You can adjust the heat to your liking by adding more jalapenos and Tabasco sauce.

Week Nine: Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are a quick and easy one-pan meal all of your party guests will love. They are easy to make, serve and eat while cheering on your favorite team.

Week Ten: Ultimate Spicy Beef Nachos

Loaded nachos has to be one of my favorite football snacks. Not only are they super easy to make, but they are always a crowd favorite. Spicy beef, refried beans, and jalapenos are loaded onto tortilla chips, topped with a mound of pepper jack cheese and baked until warm and bubbly.

Week Eleven: Spinach & Artichoke Dip

This warm dish of creamy spinach, tender artichokes, and melted Parmesan cheese is sure to be a hit at your football party. This recipe can be made the day before and baked just before serving. Serve with toasted bread or tortilla chips for a crowd pleasing appetizer.

Week Twelve: Sweet & Sour Meatballs

These meatballs are a football tailgate staple and incredibly delicious. One of the best parts of this recipe is that you can make the meatballs and sauce ahead of time and freeze them for up to a month!

Week 13: Fried Mozzarella Sticks

This easy appetizer uses mozzarella sticks to make the perfect bite for football parties.

And because I can’t finish this round-up without including some Buckeye recipes, here are some recipes just for my Fellow Ohio State Fans! Go Bucks! 😀

Buckeye Cupcakes:

Dark chocolate cupcakes with a peanut butter ball in the middle and topped with a creamy peanut butter frosting. The perfect cupcake for any Buckeye fan!


Delicious peanut butter balls dipped in rich chocolate to look like a buckeye nut. A must for any Ohio State tailgate!

Peanut Butter “Buckeye” Pretzel Bites:

A buckeye sandwiched between two pretzels and dipped in chocolate!  The sweet and salty combination of these bite-sized snacks is incredible.

Buckeye Ice Cream:

Chocolate peanut butter ice cream loaded with peanut butter cookie dough and rich chocolate chunks. Does it get any better than this? I think not! 😉

Here’s to a good game on Saturday! If you try any of these College Football recipes I would love to hear how they turn out for you! Drop me a comment and let me know here or you can even upload a picture over on the Facebook Fan Page for Sweet Pea’s Kitchen!


Don’t forget to check out my GIVEAWAY! You can win a copy of the new cookbook Cake Balls :) Click HERE for your chance to win!

One Year Ago: Chocolate Nutella Scotcheroos 

Two Years Ago: Southeast Asian Fried Rice 

Posted in Appetizers, Candy, Cupcakes, Dessert, Ice Cream, Main Dish, Roundup | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Peach Shortcakes with Bourbon Whipped Cream

Here’s one dessert you’ll want to make for your Labor Day barbecue this coming weekend. A southern-style twist on everyone’s favorite peach shortcakes. Ripe peaches, bourbon whipped cream and toasted pecans sandwiched between a warm cakelike biscuit.  In one word-incredible! 🙂 Serve this dessert while the shortcakes are still warm from the oven for a perfect ending to any summer meal!

Don’t forget that tomorrow will be the launch of my redesigned website! With the transfer there will be a short downtime, so if you might want to print off your weekend recipes today to avoid not being able to tomorrow. Those of you that are subscribers, unfortunately your subscriptions will not transfer over when I make the move. So make sure you sign up for my RSS Feed or Email today so you don’t miss a single recipe! If you currently subscribe by email, you don’t have to do a thing…you will still continue to get recipe updates straight to your inbox! 😀

One Year Ago: Brown Sugar Cookies               

Two Years Ago: Coconut Almond Macaroons 

Peach Shortcakes with Bourbon Whipped Cream

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For the Topping:

  • 2 pounds ripe but firm peaches (4 to 5 medium), peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
  • 6 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons peach schnapps
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

For the Shortcakes:  

  • 2 cups bleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface and biscuit cutter
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar for sprinkling
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), frozen, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon half-and-half
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

For the Bourbon Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon


  1. In large bowl gently toss three-quarters of peaches with 4 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Let stand 30 minutes. Toss remaining peaches with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and schnapps in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high power until peaches are bubbling, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stirring twice during cooking. Using potato masher, crush peaches into coarse pulp. Let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse flour, salt, baking powder, and 3 tablespoons sugar until combined, about five 1-second pulses. Add the butter and toss with a fork to cover in flour mixture. Pulse until mixture looks like coarse cornmeal flecked with pea-sized bits of butter, about 10 to 12 pulses. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add egg with half-and-half; pour into flour mixture. Mix with a rubber spatula until mixture comes together. Turn mixture onto floured work surface and lightly knead until it comes together.
  5. Pat dough into 9- by 6-inch rectangle, 3/4 inch thick. Flour 2 3/4-inch biscuit cutter; cut 6 dough rounds. Place 1 inch apart on small baking sheet; brush dough tops with egg white and sprinkle with remaining sugar. (Can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 hours before baking.) After cutting six perfect rounds of dough, you can reknead the scraps and repeat the cutting process to get one or two more rounds. These shortcakes will be a little tougher and less attractive than those from the first cutting. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Place baking sheet on wire rack; cool cakes until warm, about 10 minutes.
  6. While the biscuits are baking, make the whipped cream: Chill nonreactive, deep, 1- to 1 1/2-quart bowl and beaters for a handheld mixer in freezer for at least 20 minutes. Add cream, brown sugar, and bourbon to chilled bowl; beat on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave a trail, about 30 seconds more. Increase speed to high; continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume, about 20 seconds for soft peaks or about 30 seconds for stiff peaks. If necessary, finish beating by hand to adjust consistency.
  7. Split each biscuit in half and place bottoms on individual serving plates. Spoon portion of crushed peach mixture over each bottom, followed by peach slices and any exuded juices. Top peaches with 2 tablespoons whipped cream and 1 tablespoon pecans; cap with biscuit top, and dollop each shortcake with some of remaining whipped cream. Serve immediately.

Yields: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 14 minutes

Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, July 2008 and Bon Appetit

Don’t forget to check out my GIVEAWAY! You can win a copy of the new cookbook Cake Balls :) Click HERE for your chance to win!

Posted in Dessert, Fruit | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Peach Galette

One of my favorite summer desserts to make this time of year are homemade fruit pies. But sometimes I don’t want to fuss with all the work that comes with making one from scratch. That’s when I turn to a galette, or rustic tart, because they’re so easy to put together and always taste fabulous. Just roll out the dough, arrange peaches on top, fold the outer edges of the dough over the peaches, brush dough with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar and bake. No cutting out strips for a lattice crust, fussing with a top crust, or fluting pie edges.  It really is as easy as roll, place, and fold! And don’t get upset if you peer into the oven and see a little bit of juice oozing from the galette, it won’t hurt the crust and it will still be delicious. Just remember, it’s supposed to be rustic! I always recommend using a homemade crust instead of store-bought. If you have never made homemade pie crust before, you will be very surprised at how easy it is to make. This time of year I like to keep several batches of homemade pie dough in my freezer just in case there is a pie emergency. And trust me, with this pregnancy almost to the third trimester, there are definitely “pie emergencies” in my house! 😀 Make this galette while summer peaches are at their best.

One Year Ago: Homemade Wheat Thins                          

Two Years Ago: Almond and Chocolate Chunk Biscotti 

Peach Galette

Printer Friendly Version

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices, chilled in freezer at least 15 minutes, preferably an hour
  • 1/4 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces, chilled in freezer at least 15 minutes, preferably an hour
  • 2 tablespoons vodka, cold
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 tablespoon turbinado sugar


  • 2 large, yellow peaches (about 3/4 pound total), skins left on, pitted, sliced into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch table salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter


  1. For The Pie Dough: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process 3/4 cups flour, salt, and sugar until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 pulses. Transfer mixture into medium bowl.
  2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. Using a folding motion, use a rubber spatula to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten into 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine peaches, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; set aside.
  4. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on floured work surface to 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the peach slices in an overlapping pattern in a single layer in the center of the dough, forming about a 7 or 8-inch circle. Dot with a little butter. Grasp 1 edge of dough and fold up outer 2 inches over filling. Repeat around circumference of tart, overlapping dough every 2 to 3 inches; gently pinch pleated dough to secure but do not press dough into filling. Refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven with the rack in the middle position to 425°F. In a small bowl, beat together egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush edges of dough with egg mixture, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yields: 8 servings
Prep Time: 2 hours (includes chilling time)
Bake Time: 30 minutes

Source: adapted from Simply Recipes

Don’t forget to check out my GIVEAWAY! You can win a copy of the new cookbook Cake Balls :) Click HERE for your chance to win! 

Posted in Dessert, Pastry, Pie & Tart | Tagged , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Dulce De Leche Cake Balls and A Cookbook Giveaway!

There’s no denying that I love desserts and sweets. I love making them, eating them and sharing them with friends and family. All of this love for making sweet and treats was recently noticed by Meghan from The Harvard Common Press. She contacted me a few weeks ago asking if I would like to feature Dede Wilson’s newest book Cake Balls on my blog. As soon as I saw that the cookbook was completely dedicated to Cake Balls, I was hooked! I was so excited for the cookbook to arrive that I would rush home everyday hoping that it would be at my door. When it arrived I sat down and drooled over all of the amazing recipes. This book is packed with over 60 incredibly easy, delicious and drool worthy recipes. From nine cake recipes, ten frostings, ganaches, and glazes to amazing photos, this book has everything you need to create incredibly easy, delicious, show-stopping cakeballs. The made-from-scratch cake ball recipes include kid-friendly ideas, such as Jam-Filled Cake Balls, S’mores, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake Balls; seasonal ideas, such as Red, White, and Blue Cake Balls; classics like Red Velvet; and sophisticated treats like Crème Brûlée Cake Balls and Cocoa-Dusted Truffle Cake Balls.

It was so hard to choose exactly which recipe I wanted to share with you today. I finally decided on the Dulce De Leche Cake Ball, a delicious combination of caramel and buttermilk cake dipped in rich chocolate and swirled with ribbons of golden caramel. If you like caramel and burnt sugar flavors, this recipe’s for you! These cake balls call for dulce de leche. You can easily make your own or purchase a can from the Spanish foods section of your local supermarket. Everything you love about cake is right in this little bite, plus it is covered in chocolate and drizzled with caramel-you can’t go wrong! Making these cake balls couldn’t be easier either. Just crumble the made-from-scratch cake into a large bowl, mix with dulce de leche and dip in chocolate. That’s it! I promise they will become a favorite among kids and adults alike.

So here’s your chance to win a copy of this amazing cook book before it’s even available in stores! Just follow the directions below for a chance to win! Sorry this giveaway is limited to US residents only.

How to Enter: Leave a comment on this post answering the question: “What’s the last cake ball flavor you ate?”

Extra Entries: The following six opportunities below will earn one extra entry into the giveaway for each. You must leave separate comments for each one to ensure that they are counted as separate entries:

  1. Subscribe to Sweet Pea’s Kitchen by either RSS or Email.  Come back and let me know you have subscribed in an additional comment.
  2. Become a fan of Sweet Pea’s Kitchen on Facebook. Come back and let me know you became a fan in an additional comment.
  3. Follow Sweet Pea’s Kitchen on Twitter. Come back and let me know you’ve followed in an additional comment.
  4. Tweet the following about the giveaway: “Cookbook ‪#Giveaway! Enter to win a copy of ‪@dedewilsonbakes‘s upcoming book ‪#CakeBalls from ‪@SPKitchen ‪” Come back and let me know you’ve Tweeted in an additional comment.
  5. Follow me on Google +. Come back and let me know you’ve followed in an additional comment.
  6. Follow Sweet Pea’s Kitchen on Pinterest and Pin this giveaway

Deadline: Monday, September 3, 2012 at 11:59pm CST

Winner: The winner will be selected at random by Sweet Pea’s Kitchen using All entries received after the deadline will not be considered. Entries that do not follow the entry requirements will not be considered. Winner will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to confirm receipt of the email. If the winner does not reply within 24 hours, another winner will be selected.

Dulce De Leche Cake Balls

Printer Friendly Version

For the Cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk

To Assemble the Cake Balls:

  • 1 (13.4-ounce) can dulce de leche
  • 1 3/4 pounds milk chocolate, such Callebaut or Valrhona Jivara, finely chopped
  • 5 ounces caramel, such as Nestlé
  • 56 miniature fluted paper cups (optional)


  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the inside of a 9 x 13-inch rectangular pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to aerate and combine; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in the vanilla.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition and allowing each egg to be absorbed before continuing. Add the flour mixture in four additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Begin and end with the flour mixture and beat briefly until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs when removed. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. The cake is ready to use. Alternatively, double-wrap the pan in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 1 day before proceeding.
  6. Crumble the cake into a large bowl and mix in 3/4 cup of the dulce de leche. Test by compressing and tasting and add more dulce de leche only if needed for flavor and moisture. Roll into golf ball–size cake balls. Refrigerate until firm. This can be done 1 day ahead; store in an airtight container once they are firm.
  7. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. Dip the balls one at a time in the chocolate, encouraging any excess chocolate to drip back into the container. Place, evenly spaced, on the prepared pans. Refrigerate briefly until the chocolate is set.
  8. Melt the caramel in the microwave until fluid, watching carefully so that it doesn’t boil. Use a fork to drizzle caramel zigzags on top of each ball. Refrigerate again until the caramel is set. Trim the bottoms, if needed. Place each cake ball in a paper cup, if desired. Place in a single layer in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Yields: 56 golf ball–size balls

Source: Cake Balls


One Year Ago: Seven Links              


Two Years Ago: Pineapple Sherbet 

Posted in Dessert | Tagged , , , , , , | 376 Comments

Peanut Butter Nutella Swirl Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lately I have been having major cravings for peanut butter and Nutella. I have usually been able to curb my craving by dipping a few apple slices into peanut butter and then some Nutella. Well that all went out the window when I saw a recipe for Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies on Pinterest. (Have I mentioned how much I love Pinterest? If we don’t follow each other we definitely should. I am finding all sorts of goodies to make and eat. 🙂 ) These cookies are fabulous! At the last-minute I threw in some chocolate chips just for an extra dose of deliciousness. It was a great idea! The melty chocolate chips combined with creamy peanut butter and rich Nutella is just out of this world! As I read the comments from the original recipe I saw that a few people complained that the cookies spread a bit too much while baking and came out flat. To help with the spreading I decided to chill the dough in the fridge a few hours (actually overnight) and that did the trick. These were anything but flat! Thick and chewy peanut butter cookies with crisp edges, tons of chocolate chips and swirls of Nutella. Seriously, does it get any better than that? 😉 Happy weekend everyone!

One Year Ago: Baked Pears                                          

Two Years Ago: Chicken with Peach & Apple Salsa 

Peanut Butter Nutella Swirl Chocolate Chip Cookies

Printer Friendly Version


  • 1 ⅓ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons Nutella
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add vanilla extract and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, beat to combine. Add chocolate chips and mix until incorporated. Shape into a 12 inch square on top of a large sheet of plastic wrap. Drop Nutella in 8 dollops all over the dough. Using a butter knife, swirl the Nutella into the cookie dough. Be careful not to swirl too much, you want to see the swirls. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a 1½-inch ball between your palms and then place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the balls about 2 inches apart (you should be able to fit 12 cookies on each sheet). Using your palm, gently flatten the dough balls until they are about ¾ inch thick.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets for 2 minutes before transferring cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Yields: 2 1/2 dozen
Prep Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes (includes chilling time)
Bake Time: 10 minutes

Source: adapted from The Sisters Cafe

**Don’t forget that I will be launching a new website design on August 31! Those of you that are subscribers, unfortunately your subscriptions will not transfer over when I make the move. Make sure you sign up for my RSS feed so you don’t miss a single recipe! If you currently subscribe by email, you don’t have to do a thing…you will still continue to get recipe updates straight to your inbox! :D

Posted in Cookies, Dessert | Tagged , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Here’s one coffee cake to put on the menu for this coming weekend! Moist and tender sour cream coffee cake with a cinnamon pecan swirl running through the center and sprinkled on top. Despite the name, this cake doesn’t actually have coffee in it and is not coffee-flavored, but is a cake that’s meant to be eaten while having coffee. Thanks to the sour cream, this cake is melt-in-your-mouth fabulous! The perfect way to kick-start your busy day! So get that coffee pot going…you have some delicious cake to eat! 😉

One Year Ago: Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers 

Two Years Ago: Cranberry Orange Scones    

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

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For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 (16 ounce) container of sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon  vanilla extract

For the Filling/Topping:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9×13 inch square baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. (The batter will be thick)
  4. To make the topping/filling: In a small bowl combine the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans; set aside.
  5. Spread half of the batter evenly into prepared baking pan and sprinkle with half the cinnamon-sugar topping. Spoon the remaining batter in 8 dollops over the batter in the pan and spread gently. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.

Yields: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 35 minutes

Source: adapted from Gimme Some Oven

**Don’t forget that I will be launching a new website design on August 31! Those of you that are subscribers, unfortunately your subscriptions will not transfer over when I make the move. Make sure you sign up for my RSS feed so you don’t miss a single recipe! If you currently subscribe by email, you don’t have to do a thing…you will still continue to get recipe updates straight to your inbox! :D

Posted in Breakfast, Dessert | Tagged , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Lemon-Zucchini Loaf with Lemon Glaze

We have more zucchini than I know what to do with. So after making numerous salads, soups, muffins, biscuits, breads and brownies, I really needed a new zucchini recipe to try. When I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest I immediately ran into the kitchen and whipped up a loaf. The recipe and pictures looked so different from the traditional zucchini bread that I am used to making, I was intrigued by what the results would taste like. I barely let the lemon drizzle dry before I was devouring a piece. It tasted even better than I thought it would! Bursting with lemony flavor, this melt in your mouth lemon-zucchini loaf will leave you begging for more!

One Year Ago: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies 

Two Years Ago: Apple Strudel                                           

Lemon-Zucchini Loaf with Lemon Glaze

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For the Loaf:

  • 1 cup grated zucchini (leave the skin on and use the small holes of the grater)
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons lemon juice)
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (about one lemon)

For the Lemon Glaze:

  • 1 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of one 9 x 5-inch loaf pan; dust with flour, tapping out excess.
  2. Place the freshly grated zucchini in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl to drain excess liquid  while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the sugar and eggs until smooth, about a minute. Add the oil, vanilla extract, buttermilk, lemon juice and lemon zest and beat until smooth, about 30 seconds. With a rubber spatula, fold in the shredded zucchini. Add the flour to the zucchini mixture in 3 additions, stirring until just combined after each addition.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing loaf to cool completely on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.
  6. To make the lemon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Add up to another tablespoon of lemon juice if the mixture is too stiff. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving.

Yields: one 9×5″ loaf
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 55 minutes

Source: adapted from Nancy Creative

**Don’t forget that I will be launching a new website design on August 31! Those of you that are subscribers, unfortunately your subscriptions will not transfer over when I make the move. Make sure you sign up for my RSS feed so you don’t miss a single recipe! If you currently subscribe by email, you don’t have to do a thing…you will still continue to get recipe updates straight to your inbox! :D

Posted in Breads & Muffins, Breakfast | Tagged , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Italian Vegetable Stew (Ciambotta)

Here’s one stew that you have to make before summer slips away. Ciambotta, a traditional Southern Italian stew is chock-full of summer vegetables that are simmered in a thick and hearty tomato-enriched broth. It’s the perfect way to use up some of the abundant summer produce from your garden. Ciambotta (pronounced chahm-BOHT-tah) is very similar to ratatouille and makes for a hearty one-bowl meal. Serve with crusty bread for a hearty and satisfying meal that will fill you up without weighing you down.

One Year Ago: Buttermilk Cornmeal Biscuits 

Two Years Ago: Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins   

Italian Vegetable Stew (Ciambotta)

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For the Pestata:

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup fresh oregano leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

For the Stew:  

  • 12 ounces eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 ¼ cups water, divided
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved and chopped coarse
  • 2 zucchini (8 ounces each), seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup shredded fresh basil


  1. To make the Pestata: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process all ingredients until finely ground, about 1 minute, scraping sides as necessary; Set aside.
  2. For the stew: In a large bowl, toss eggplant with 1½ teaspoons salt. Line the surface of large plate with a double layer of coffee filters and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray. Spread eggplant in even layer over coffee filters. Microwave eggplant, uncovered, until dry to touch and slightly shriveled, 8 to 12 minutes, tossing once halfway through to ensure even cooking.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Add eggplant, onion, and potatoes; cook, stirring frequently, until eggplant browns and surface of potatoes becomes translucent, about 2 minutes. Push vegetables to sides of pot and add 1 tablespoon oil and tomato paste to the clearing. Cook paste, stirring frequently, until a brown fond develops on bottom of pot, about 2 minutes. Add 2 cups water and chopped tomatoes and juice, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and gently simmer until eggplant is completely broken down and potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until smoking. Add zucchini, bell peppers, and ½ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned and tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Push vegetables to sides of skillet; add pestata and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir pestata into vegetables and transfer vegetables to bowl. Add remaining ¼ cup water to skillet off heat, scraping up browned bits.
  5. Remove pot from heat and stir reserved vegetables and water from skillet into vegetables in the Dutch oven. Cover pot and let stand for 20 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Stir in basil and season with salt to taste; serve.

Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

Source: Cook’s Illustrated, May 2012

**Don’t forget that I will be launching a new website design on August 31! Those of you that are subscribers, unfortunately your subscriptions will not transfer over when I make the move. Make sure you sign up for my RSS feed so you don’t miss a single recipe! If you currently subscribe by email, you don’t have to do a thing…you will still continue to get recipe updates straight to your inbox! :D

Posted in Soup, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments