Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Baked French Toast Muffins

You've got to love the Christmas season.  Shopping every day for a Christmas party, gift exchange, work gathering, baking extravaganza.  It's madness!  Well, when I go out, I try to take my two year old since she is cooped up at home all day.  If you've ever had a two-year-old, you know eventful a simple trip to pick up a couple things can be.  She is in this stage now where she fancies bringing about 80 random objects into the car and always insists on taking all of them into whatever store we are venturing into.  Well, today, she had a shoebox filled with three little baby blankets, a pine cone, a rock, a fake flower, a little stuffed hippo, a small purse, and a bouncy ball.  When it was time to go into Target, I told her that she couldn't take her box.  Oh, no, I didn't!  She wigged out!  She was screaming and flailing about and letting the entire block of Silverado Ranch and Eastern that she wanted to take her box into Target.  I calmly held her and said that she wasn't taking her box.  As she screamed like Christmas was canceled, I got dirty looks by passerbys and police officers considering taking me in for child abuse.  Finally, I saw a police car parked out front.  I said, "Hey, Scarlet, do you want to see the lights on a police car?"  She calmly replied, "Okay."  That was that.  The end.  I laughed about the whole thing a few minutes after it was over, but I laughed harder at the picture that my eight year old drew to depict the situation:

I love how my hands are up in the air with a tornado of confusion/frustration above my head.  I'm glad my older daughter can bring humor to situations like this and laugh at my craziness of being a mom of three.  

Anyway- these little French Toast muffins are tasty!  My family loved them, and they are a bit different than your usual French Toast.  They taste the same but are in cute little muffin form!  What's not to love?!

Baked French Toast Muffins

3 lg eggs
1/2 c milk
1 T brown sugar
1 T sugar
2 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla
8 slices bread

Preheat oven to 350

Prepare your muffin tin.  Grease each muffin cup very well.  I used the PAM with flour, and it worked like a charm!

Combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix well.

Use a pizza cutter to slice each slide of bread into 1 inch cubes.  Add the bread cubes into the egg mixture and toss to combine.  Let it rest for 3-5 minutes to allow the egg mixture to soak into the bread.

Spoon some of the mixture into the muffin cups until it's about 3/4 full.  This will be enough to fill all 12 muffin cups.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are light brown.  Start checking around 20 minutes to ensure they don't burn.

Take them out and let them cool for 5-10 minutes.

Drizzle with syrup and perhaps some butter because butter makes everything better.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Homemade Thanksgiving!

Since my husband is working on Thanksgiving, Friday, and Saturday, we decided to have Thanksgiving yesterday.  One of my friends called it Franksgiving.  Indeed, my friend.  Indeed.  If you're a last minute kind of person and haven't picked what recipes you' like to try, look no further!  I've compiled all my favorites here for you.  And you won't be disappointed!

Have a happy Thanksgiving!


These rolls are, hands-down, the best I have ever tasted.  Even my mom gave up her cherished crescent roll recipe that she's been making for years and has converted to this recipe.  It's amazing!


No fanciness here- just your traditional delicious stuffing.  It's my favorite stuffing recipe when I want the good ol' classic stuffing.

Cranberry Chutney:

Fresh Cranberry Chutney

This cranberry chutney is easy to make, and it is made the night before.  I'll never eat another cranberry sauce!  It's absolutely delicious.

Sweet Potato Casserole:

Sweet Potato Casserole - Made with mashed roasted sweet potatoes and a crunchy pecan topping with an ooey gooey melted marshmallow center!

These potatoes.... This was my favorite dish on the whole table!  It's fantastic.

Magical Mashed Potatoes:

What table is complete without mashed potatoes?  These are light, fluffy, and full of flavor.  Top with your favorite gravy, and you're good to go!

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie:

It's the pumpkin pie that has taken over the traditional pumpkin pie!  Everyone loved it, and my pumpkin-pie loving husband said that it was much better than the best pumpkin pie he has ever had. Now, that's a compliment!

Chocolate Truffle Pie:

Sweet & Salty Truffle Pie Recipe

For those that aren't a fan of pumpkin pie, this is a delicious alternate for Thanksgiving.  It's rich, chocolaty, and delicious.

Layered Turtle Cheesecake:

Layered Turtle Cheesecake Recipe

This cheesecake will blow your mind.  It is every bit as delicious as it looks in this picture that the Taste of Home photographer took.  :)

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese and Caramel Frosting:

If you've got time on Thanksgiving morning to devote to a show-stopping breakfast, these are your ticket.  They were wonderful!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese and Caramel Frosting

There is this recipe... Because who doesn't need pumpkin and cinnamon rolls and cream cheese frosting and caramel frosting all wrapped into one breakfast?  These were a tasty alternative to the traditional cinnamon roll.  I love those, too!  However, I had to make about 15 dozen of them for a fun raiser over the summer, and I could barely muster up the motivation to make some again.  :)  I'm traumatized!  These were well worth the time though.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese and Caramel Frosting

Yield: 12 rolls

1/3 c milk
2 T butter
1/2 c canned pumpkin
2 T sugar
1/4 t nutmeg
1 T pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t salt
1 egg, beaten
1 package dry yeast (or 2 1/2 T)
2 c flour (bread flour is best, but regular flour is fine)
1/2 c brown sugar, packed
2 t cinnamon
2 T melted butter

Caramel Frosting
2 T butter
1/4 c brown sugar, packed
1 drop vanilla
1/8 t pumpkin pie spice
1 dash salt
1/3 c powdered sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 T milk
3/4 c powdered sugar
One drop vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, heat milk an 2 T butter just until the milk starts to boil and the butter is melted, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  In your mixer bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, sugar, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Stir with your paddle attachment until it's combined.   Add the milk/butter mixture. Beat with an electric mixer until well-mixed.  Beat in the egg and yeast.

Add half (1 cup) of the flour to the pumpkin mixture.  Turn the mixer on low and beat for five minutes.  Add the other 1 c of flour and mix thoroughly.  Lightly grease a large bowl, and put the dough in the bowl.

Cover the bowl and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.  Punch the dough down to roll into a 12x10 rectangle.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Brush the softened/melted butter onto the surface of the dough.  Sprinkle with the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Start rolling it up from the long side.  Pinch end seams to seal.

Use dental floss to slice the dough. Slide it under the dough, cross the threads, and pull.  It'll slice up perfectly!  Cut into 12 1-inch slices.

Place the rolls into a greased 9x13 pan.  Cover and allow to rise until doubled- 30-45 minutes.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool for 10-15 minutes.

For the Caramel Frosting:
While they are baking, prepare the caramel frosting.  In a saucepan, heat the butter until melted.  Stir in the brown sugar and milk.  Cook over medium-low heat for 1 minute.

Remove from heat.  Stir in the vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and powdered sugar.  Stir until well blended.  Turn heat as low as you can, and keep it there until the cinnamon rolls are done.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
Beat the cream cheese until it's light and fluffy.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla.  Beat in milk.  Stir until smooth.

After the cinnamon rolls have cooled for 5-10 minutes, spread the cream cheese frosting on top.  Drizzle the caramel frosting on top of that.

Chocolate Truffle Pie

In case you were so excited by the picture that you didn't read the title of this pie, let me write it out one more time:  Chocolate Truffle Pie.  Hello?!  Talk about three of the most delicious words in our language, and they are all in one dessert.  And let me tell you something else.  People think I am crazy when I say that I don't like pumpkin pie.  Why, you ask?  Because there are desserts like this out there!  Tradition or not, why would I eat a vegetable pureed into a pie when there are desserts like this?  This pie has got to be one of the best pies I have ever eaten.  It was unbelievable!  I don't have step-by-step pictures though.  I think a part of my brother died when we went to my in-laws' house for Thanksgiving because he wanted to try the pie.  I promised him that I would make it again soon, so I'll take pictures next time. 
Sweet & Salty Truffle Pie Recipe

 Chocolate Truffle Pie
recipe and photo source: Taste of Home November 2011 pg 51 or

pie crust (I used a pre-made frozen one and baked it)

2 c dark chocolate chips, divided
1/3 c heavy whipping cream
1 T shortening
2 t coarse sugar
1/2 t coarse salt

1 1/3 c semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 1/4 c heavy whipping cream, divided
1/4 c sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 c butter, softened
2 T vanilla

1 c heavy whipping cream
3 T powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla

Bake the frozen crust according to package directions.  Get a deep-dish one if you can.

For the truffles, melt 1 c dark chocolate in microwave.  Start with 1 minute.  Stir.  Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring after each time, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Stir in the cream until incorporated.  Cool to room temperature then refrigerate until firm.  Once the mixture is firm, scoop out about 2 t of the mixture.  Roll into 24 1-inch balls.

Place in the fridge until you're ready to do the next part.  By the way- if making truffles puts this recipe way over the top, you can skip the truffles or plop some store-bought ones on top to save time.

In a bowl, melt the remaining dark chocolate and the shortening.  Stir until smooth. Combine the course sugar and salt.  You can omit this part or use regular suagr and salt, if you'd like.  Stick the truffles on a toothpick and dip them in the metled chocolate mixture.  Let the excess chocolate drip off.  Before the chocolate sets, sprinkle the truffle with the sugar and salt.  Place it on waxed paper to set completly.  Repeat with the remaining truffles.

For the filling, put 1/3 c semi-sweet chocolate in a small bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring 1/4 c of cream just to a boil.  Pour it over the chocolate chips and whisk until smooth.  Once it's smooth, pour it into the bottom of the baked crust.  Place it in the fridge to set- about 15 minutes.

In a small, heavy saucepan, cook and stir the sugar, remaining semi-sweet chocolate chips and remaining cream over medium heat.  Once it is smooth, reduce the heat slightly.  Put the two egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk.  Add a small amount of the chocolate mixture into the eggs.  Stir it together.  Add it back into the chocolate mixture in the saucepan, stirring constantly.  Cook and stir until it reaches 160 degrees- It took me about ten minutes.

Pour this mixture into a large bowl.  Pour in the butter and vanilla.  Stir.  Place this bowl in an ice water bath.  Leave it there, stirring often, until the mixture has cooled.  The cooler it is, the easier it will be to whip it into shape for the next step.  Don't rush this step.  Once it's at room temperature, you could probably even put it into the fridge to speed it up a bit.  Once it is nice and cool, beat it with a mixer until stiff peaks form.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the pie crust.

Just before serving, prepare the topping.  In a bowl, beat the cream until it starts to thicken.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Beat until stiff peaks form.  Spoon the topping onto the pie.  Top with some truffles.

Oh, how I wish I knew the secret to slicing a pie without making it look like a toddler was digging through it to find a Hot Wheel car. Look past the messiness and try to imagine the taste.  It is out of sight!  I'm not even going to tell you the fat content because I think you will hunt me down and slap me in the face for even tempting you with such an amazing concoction.  On that note, happy pie eating!

Sweet Potato Casserole

Me: I would take this sweet potato casserole over pumpkin pie any day of week!
My brother, with a lip smack and dirty look: You kiss your mother with that mouth!?  How dare you?!

Seriously though, I would!  This was, by far, my favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table.  The mashed sweet potatoes, the crunchy pecan-Corn Flake topping, and roasted marshmallows blew my mind!  Why did I not eat this stuff as a kid?!  I find no need to hunt for a different sweet potato recipe for Thanksgiving.  This is the best one I've ever tasted.  Thanks blogger at  These sweet potatoes, were, indeed, that.  

Sweet Potato Casserole - Made with mashed roasted sweet potatoes and a crunchy pecan topping with an ooey gooey melted marshmallow center!
Sweet Potato Casserole
photo and recipe source:

serves 6

3 pounds sweet potatoes
1/4 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c milk
1 large egg
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt

For the topping:
1 1/4 c cornflakes, crushed
1/3 c pecans, chopped
1 T brown sugar
1 T unsalted butter, melted
1 c mini marshmallows

Preheat over to 400 degrees.  Bake sweet potatoes for 1 hour, or until tender.  Let cool before peeling.

Reduce temperature to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9 inch pie plate.

Make the topping.  Combine cornflakes, pecans, and brown sugar.  Stir in butter until well-combined; set aside.

In your mixer bowl, use the paddle attachment to beat the sweet potatoes, butter, sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla, and salt on medium-high heat until well-combined, about 1-2 minutes.

Pour the mixture into your prepared dish.  Sprinkle the cornflake mixture around the edges, leaving the center open.

Bake for twenty minutes.  Remove from oven and add the marshmallows in the center.  Bake an additional 5 minutes or until the marshmallows are golden.

Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

I honestly think that my husband has threatened to divorce me over my dislike of pumpkin pie.  It's his absolute favorite, and it has to be made just like it says on the can with his mom's crust recipe.  He could eat it ever day!  When I told him that I was going to try this pumpkin chiffon pie, he was skeptical.  I was a bit nervous since all of my family that came couldn't believe the blasphemous act of not making a traditional pumpkin pie.  Well, I served everyone a piece and just waited for the criticism.  It didn't come.  My husband said that he liked this better than his favorite pumpkin pie.  My brother was inspecting the crust trying to figure out what that deliciousness was.  Everyone loved it, and I think that traditional pumpkin pie is dead to us all!  The texture of this pie is far less dense, and the Nilla wafer crust is to die for.  I'm so glad that I found this recipe because it is a new family must-have for Thanksgiving or whenever my husband craves it.  

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Makes 2 pies

For the crust:
4 c crushed Nilla wafer cookies (a rough texture is fine)
10 T butter, melted
1/2 c sugar
1/4 t salt

For the pie filling:
3 t unflavored gelatin
1/4 c Cointreau (I used water)
1 1/2 c pumpkin puree
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c sugar and 1/3 c sugar, divided
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
3/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t allspice
1/4 t salt
4 egg whites

fresh whipped cream, to serve

Prepare the crust:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, butter, sugar, and salt.  Stir well to combine.  Press the mixture firmly into two 9-inch pie plates.  There may be some extra.  If you want, you can save it and sprinkle it in top of the whipped cream.

Bake for ten minutes.  Cool.

For the filling:
In a small bowl, sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over 1/4 c Cointreau (or water) to soften for five minutes.  Get a bowl that's bigger, put about a 1/4 c of water in the bowl, and heat it up.  Place the gelatin bowl into this warm water to get it to dissolve.

In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, 1/2 c sugar, 3 egg yolks, the cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and salt.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring for 10 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl.  Stir in the dissolved gelatin, an let the mixture cool.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until the hold soft peaks.  Beat in the remaining 1/3 c sugar, 2 T at a time, beating the meringue until it holds stuff peaks, and fold this meringue into the partially cooled pumpkin mixture.

Pour the filling into the baked shells and chill the pie, lightly covered, overnight.

Garnish with plenty of whipped cream and sprinkle with reserved crust crumbles, if desired.

Fresh Cranberry Chutney

There is a girl that blogs recipes at, and I take her word like gospel.  Every recipe of hers that I have tried is amazing.  In fact, if Mel and Martha Stewart were standing in front of me trying to offer cooking advice, I'd tell Martha to take a hike!  Get your orange jumpsuit, Martha!  You're dead to me! 

I was hunting for a cranberry sauce last year, and it was my first time ever making it!  Of course I went to by default, and I found this gem of a recipe.  It has raisins, apples, celery, and onion in it which is a little different, but sweet mercy it is delicious!  My dad walked in and saw me carrying cranberries.  I didn't get a "Hello! How are you?"  I got, "Is that regular cranberries or cranberry chutney?"  I don't even think he smiled at me!  He is serious about his love for this cranberry chutney!  I see no reason to ever make another type of cranberries, and for the love of all that is holy, do not use the canned stuff!!  
Fresh Cranberry Chutney

Fresh Cranberry Chutney

makes about 4 cups

4 c fresh cranberries
1 c dried raisins or craisins
1/2 c white sugar
3/4 c packed brown sugar
2 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/4 t cloves
1 c water
1/2 finely minced onion
1/2 c chopped granny Smith apple, peeled an cored
1/2 finely chopped celery

In a medium saucepan, combine the first eight ingredients.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the berries start to pop, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the onion, apple, and celery.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to thicken, 5-10 more minutes.  

Transfer to a container, cool slightly, an refrigerate overnight.