Pecan Pie Muffins

Pintesting Pecan Pie MuffinsThe American Pie Council National Championships are about a month away and this year I get to be a judge! I can’t even tell you how excited I am for this honor. So I’m going to be doing some pie-related Pintestings this month leading up to the big event. My Pinterest page, Desserts – Pies/Tarts/Crostatas are all about pie related recipes. Go check it out for some inspiration. The first recipe I’m doing is this pin for Pecan Pie Muffins by Christy from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

Even though the recipe has the word muffin, don’t be fooled. These are just like little pecan pies but a whole lot easier. Personally, I like that they don’t have the corn syrup that pecan pies traditionally have. And instead of thinking of them as muffins, you can think of them as self-crusting. Let’s get baking.

The Pintesting:

There are just 5 ingredients and most of them are kitchen staples.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

First mix the dry ingredients.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

Toss them together until they’re evenly coated.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

Next, mix the softened butter and the eggs.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

It won’t look pretty – mine looked kind of like curdled milk. Don’t worry, it’s supposed to look this way and will smooth out once everything is mixed together.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

Now stir in the dry ingredients JUST until mixed. See the bits of butter in the mixture? It’s okay to leave it like that.

NOTE: For the most part, muffins turn out best when they’re not over mixed. It’s better to leave a few lumps in the batter and have a tender crumb than to over mix the batter and have your muffins turn out like bricks.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

According to Christy, you want to grease your muffin pan really well or your muffins will stick. I love to use the “Best Ever Pan Release” recipe by I Am Baker (you’ll find the recipe at the end of the recipe in the Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake post found here).

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

Fill the cups 2/3 full. The mixture made more than the mini muffin tin could hold so I made 6 regular-sized muffins, too.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

Bake at 350 degrees until done; see the recipe for baking times.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

The muffins easily pop out of the pan and into my mouth.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

WARNING! These are incredibly addictive. If you’re not careful it’s easy to pop 4 or 6 of the mini bite-sized pecan pie muffins in your mouth before you realize it. (I have no idea if or how that happened.)

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.7 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

Accuracy:  These muffins have the taste and texture of pecan pie. In fact, the next time I have the urge to make a pecan pie I’m going to make these instead.They turned out just like Christy said they would. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  These are very easy to make. Just five ingredients and, if you buy the pecans already chopped, the only prep work is to make sure your butter is softened.  You don’t even need to use a mixer. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  According to the recipe, this should make 8 large or 16 mini muffins. When filling my muffin cups 2/3 full, I ended up with 24 mini muffins and 6 regular muffins. Since there were different baking times, I baked the different sized pans one after the other; 12 minutes for the minis and 14 minutes for the regulars. I also let the regular sized muffins rest in the pan for an extra 5 minutes to set after running a knife around the edge; they seemed just a bit soft. Total time was just over half an hour so I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost:  Most of the ingredients are kitchen staples – all but the pecans. I don’t know if they’re not in season, but they seemed a bit pricey at more than $10.00. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality:  Not only are these an easier substitute for home-made pecan pie, but they’re quicker to make, too. They make a lot of the mini muffins, and the bite-sized treats are perfect for lunches or, don’t judge, dessert portion control. I’m guessing that they’ll freeze well, too (although I’ll have to confirm and let you know). 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Sweet Potato Casserole

Thanksgiving is over, the dishes are done, and even the leftovers are gone. This year I did something a little adventurous (or maybe crazy or even brave) and, with the exception of the turkey and my mother-in-law’s dressing, I made our entire Thanksgiving meal from Pinterest recipes. This is the first of the Thanksgiving Pintesting recipe reviews – the Sweet Potato Casserole.

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

I’ll be honest; I didn’t see this initially on Pinterest. First I saw this TipHero video through my Facebook feed. I really like that TipHero gives credit to the original sources for their videos – just like they did for my Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake when they made it into a video. If you scroll down to the end of the recipe you’ll see the credit. When I went to their site for the recipe, I noticed that it gave credit for the recipe to Nikki’s blog Chef In Training so I went straight there and pinned her Sweet Potato Casserole recipe.

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

Don’t hate, but I find the mini marshmallows on so many sweet potato casserole recipes just too cloyingly sweet. If that’s your thing, then by all means, keep making your sweet potato casserole the way you prefer. But I should warn you – this recipe is now my go-to recipe. More on that later – for now here’s the Pintesting.

 The Pintesting:

The ingredients are pretty simple. Nikki used boiled sweet potatoes while TipHero used baked. I had a LOT of recipes to make so I went with baked since the oven was already on for the turkey.

Note: Multitasking is wise when you are making all of Thanksgiving dinner.

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

Mix until blended and smooth. I like that the baked sweet potatoes were cooked soft enough that I didn’t even have to get the mixer out.

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

Put into a greased 9×13 casserole dish and top with the streusel topping and bake it in a 350-degree oven.

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

This is how it looked when it came out of the oven. It smelled incredible!

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

My HH proclaimed that this sweet potato casserole was better than pumpkin pie. He said it one of the best desserts that I’ve made. I let him know that it is a casserole and not a dessert. He disagrees and calls it dessert. We do agree that it’s delicious both warm and cold. It’s like a crustless sweet potato streusel pie. So if you can’t be bothered with making a pie crust or if you’re on a “diet” and can’t have dessert or if you just want an easy side dish with a lot of wow factor, this is the casserole for you!

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.55 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  This recipe performed exactly as Nikki (and TipHero) said it would.  5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: The directions from both the Chef In Training and TipHero recipes were quite simple and straight forward. I really liked that I didn’t have to get the mixer out for this – one less complication when juggling 4 recipes at once. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time: Since I baked the sweet potatoes while working on other recipes I had a tough time judging this. On one hand, it took about an hour to bake them which is a lot of time to add to a recipe. If I had boiled them it would probably have only added about 10-15 minutes. On the other hand, just the post baking time would shorten the prep time to only 5 and 25 minutes of baking time. Averaging out the 1 1/2 hours and 45 minutes that’s still over an hour so I’m giving this 3 Pins.

Rated 3 Pins

Cost: Most of the ingredients are kitchen staples. The pecans and sweet potatoes were all that I had to buy for this recipe and I only needed 2. The recipe makes a 9×13 inch casserole dish which is a LOT of casserole/dessert but due to the pecans and sweet potatoes, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality:  This has been a pleasantly surprising Pintesting. I was expecting a good sweet potato casserole. I wasn’t prepared for one that was not only easy but also delicious enough to be one of the high points of our Thanksgiving meal. I was planning on making a pumpkin flan for a dessert, but HH said to not bother and went for another serving of this sweet potato casserole. Bonus points for making my life easier. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

When I was a college freshman living 700 miles away from home and “independent” for the first time in my life, I felt that I was seriously underfunded – as most freshmen do. I had a nice dorm room with a great roommate, a cafeteria card that would provide all the cafeteria food that I cared to eat, and all my needs were more than met. But that’s not the same as having spending money to go hang out with my friends (never mind that I was supposed to be studying). Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip CookieOne day I was feeling rather homesick, so I made Chocolate Chip Cookies in our dorm kitchen. I had girls rushing in offering to buy the cookies (and cookie dough). That was my Aha! moment. I found out that two hours of serious cookie making in the cafeteria during their down time on Saturday afternoons could turn my $20/week allowance into $80 or more, and got me the nickname, Betty Crocker.

Since then I’ve made hundreds of dozens of cookies, but I’m always looking for a way to improve upon the standard. I’ve tried chilling the dough, using different kinds of flours, using different kinds of chocolate, and so many other tips. So when I saw this recipe for The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie, I was rather sceptical. . . until I saw the source – America’s test Kitchen.

I’ve watched their PBS show, Cook’s Country, for years and I have a subscription to their magazine, Cook’s Illustrated. For those who don’t know, they test recipes, ingredients, gadgets, and products. Per their website, “we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe.”

Well, I’m accepting the challenge to see if theirs really is The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. Let the Pintesting begin!

Pintesting Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - ORIGINAL PIN

The Pintesting:

They make several changes to the original Toll House cookie recipe, so please go to their recipe to read the logic and science behind the changes.

One of the biggest differences is that instead of creaming softened butter with sugars, this recipe starts by browning most of the butter to develop the butterscotch notes and deepen the flavor.

You can see how the butter melts and then browns below. Then the browned butter is added to and melts the remaining butter.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Melt Butter Collage

Whisk the sugars, salt, and vanilla with the melted butter and then add the egg. Even here they modified the recipe from 2 eggs to 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk. They have their reasons – just go with it.

Now walk away for 3 minutes.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Add Sugars & Salt

Whisk and wait for 3 minutes two more times. This allows the sugars to completely dissolve rather than having a grainy creamed mixture.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Whisk & Wait

You can see that the mixture is satiny smooth. No graininess in these cookies.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Add Flour Mixture

Next, stir in the flour and baking soda mixture.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Dough

Here’s the dough made without a mixer. Doesn’t it look like peanut butter?

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Add Nuts & Chips

Add the chocolate and *optional* nuts. My HH LOVES chocolate chip cookies with nuts and he chose pecan pieces this time.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Cookie Dough

Oh. My. Gosh. Just look at that dough. This is the stuff that dreams are made of.

I scooped it for uniformity, as I usually do with cookie dough, and baked them in a 375-degree oven.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Baking

Even without chilling the cookies didn’t melt into flat cookie pancakes. I was so happy to see that they had nice volume and height.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Done

And after the torture of waiting for them to cool (because cookies don’t taste as good when they’ve melted the flesh from the roof of your mouth), they did recede a little. But only just a little.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Closeup

You need to try these cookies. The flavor and texture are beyond what I could have imagined from a humble chocolate chip cookie.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

And now for the Pintesting results – and a large glass of milk.

The Results:


Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  The recipe promised cookies that are “moist and chewy on the inside and crisp at the edges, with deep notes of toffee and butterscotch to balance its sweetness,” and this cookie definitely delivered. The taste and texture were incredible. My HH gave it 500 pins so I’m giving it 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: This recipe involved browning the butter, but because the butter was melted no mixer was needed. If it’s easier to just mix in the bowl, then I think it’s just all-around easier. But because there is the extra step of browning the butter, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  Most cookie recipes require a minimum of an hour to make and bake (not including dishes). This includes 30 minutes (give or take) to soften the butter, a minimum of 5 minutes of creaming time, and chilling time (30 minutes to overnight) in order to keep the cookies from going flat in the oven. But this recipe uses melted butter and although there were roughly 10 minutes of mix/wait time, they went straight from the mixing bowl to the oven and the cookies maintained a nice thickness. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost: There were no weird, unique, or specialty ingredients to pull off these cookies. Most of the ingredients are common to most kitchens, so I’m giving this 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  These are ridiculously delicious cookies when they come out of the oven. They were still moist, chewy, crispy, and delicious four days later. (They’re big cookies and it’s just the two of us.) This is now my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Pintesting Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

This is the post that wasn’t going to be and then wrote itself. I made the cake and took some pictures, but didn’t really intend on doing a proper Pintesting – until I shared the pics. The response was mind blowing, so here’s the post complete with my first recipe.

The Pintesting:

It started with this picture of a pineapple upside down cake in a bundt pan on Pinterest. Because it’s my HH’s favorite cake, I wanted to surprise him with this.

Pintesting Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Sadly, the link went to a picture. Can we take a moment to talk about responsible pinning here? Check the pins before repinning them, folks.

I did a search for an original source, but only came back to the same picture that was on Pinterest.

UPDATE: I found the original source for the picture! Her name is Tina Carver, this is her original idea, and she is very happy that her cake is getting so much fame. 😀

Pintesting Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Luckily, the picture was enough this time. Pineapple upside down cake traditionally starts with melted butter and brown sugar, then an arranged layer of the pineapple and maraschino cherries, over which the cake mix is poured. When the cake is baked and inverted onto the serving plate, then you see the design of the fruit. This is no different other than it’s in a bundt pan, and the pineapple rings are halved and arranged vertically.

I wanted to ensure that the cake would come out of the bundt pan cleanly, so I really greased the pan with my favorite pan release. (The recipe will follow.) I used a stick of melted butter and sprinkled a half-cup of brown sugar on top of it, then alternated the halved  pineapple rings and cherries. I think it turned out just like the original picture.

Pintesting Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Substituting pineapple juice and milk for the liquid and adding a box of instant vanilla pudding makes this cake incredibly moist and flavorful.  The cake batter gets poured on top, and then the cake gets baked, cooled, and flipped.

And let me tell you, you’re going to flip for this cake.

Pintesting Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Normally I give my Pintesting results at the end of each post, and this would get 5 Pins. Instead, I’m sharing my recipe. Enjoy!

The Recipe:

Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 1 Cake = 17-18 slices

Serving Size: 1 slice

Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake


  • 1/2 Cup butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 Can pineapple rings in 100% juice (reserve the juice)
  • 1 Jar maraschino cherries
  • 1 Box yellow or pineapple cake mix
  • 1 4-serving box instant vanilla pudding
  • 3 eggs
  • Vegetable oil
  • Milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare the bundt pan by generously applying pan release (recipe below) or non-stick spray.
  3. Melt the butter and evenly pour into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the brown sugar.
  4. Cut the pineapple rings in half and alternate with the maraschino cherries around the bundt pan as shown in the picture. Set aside.
  5. In a stand mixer or large bowl, stir the cake mix and pudding mix together. Drain the pineapple juice into a measuring cup and add enough milk to make 1 Cup of liquid. Add this with the eggs and the amount of oil called for in the recipe to the cake mixture; following the instructions on the box.
  6. Carefully pour the batter over the fruit. Place the bundt pan on a baking sheet and bake as instructed for a bundt cake on the cake mix box. The cake is done when an inserted knife comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Slide a knife around the edges including the inner ring.
  8. Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Slice between the pineapple rings and serve warm or room temperature.


Several people have commented that they had the butter and brown sugar overflow their bundt pans causing a big mess in the oven. Just say no to messes. Make sure to put the bundt pan on a baking sheet.

Also, use the baking time for a bundt cake that's listed on the cake mix directions. This will vary by brand. My times are approximate - go by the box.

In order to prevent problems with the cake being too moist, soft, or cracking, cover the pan with foil half way through baking and then uncovering for the last 10 minutes. This will also keep it from over browning. (Thank you, Barbara!)

Best Ever Pan Release: from I Am Baker

Mix equal parts of vegetable shortening, vegetable oil, and all-purpose flour until smooth. Using a pastry brush or paper towel, apply to the pans paying special attention to corners, nooks, and crannies.



Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Some days it seems like the angels sing, the stars align, and everything falls into place in order to make things happen. When that happens, life is easy as pie – or in this case, tarts.

My HH and I were thinking about how nice it would be to have just a little something sweet but didn’t want to go through a lot of fuss (or dishes). Then I remembered seeing this pin that had crossed my path recently. These Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts on the Inspired Dreamer site seemed like the perfect little treats. That I had one pie crust, one jar of lemon curd, and the exactly the right cookie cutter was just shy of divine intervention to make this. So let’s get on with this test!

The Pintesting:

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts - ORIGINAL PIN

There are only 3 main ingredients; one pie crust, a jar of lemon curd, and powdered sugar. Also helpful is flour for dusting while handling the pie crust. The hardware required is a flower-shaped cookie cutter and mini muffin pan.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Roll out the pie crust and start cutting flowers with the cookie cutter. Does anyone else think the flower cutter looks groovy? Flower Power!

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Cut out 12 flowers; rerolling the scraps and cutting to make the 12.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Carefully put them into a mini muffin pan.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Fold 3 alternate petals toward the center, gently place the dough into the cup, then work the petals on the sides by overlapping the three inner petals.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Bake for about 5 minutes.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

The flower tart shells pop right out of the pan – no greasing was required. Use some caution when removing them after baking as they are a little more delicate and can crumble if handled too roughly.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Cool, dust with powdered sugar, and spoon with lemon curd.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

This almost can’t be called a recipe, but it was inspired, cute, and easy. It did perfectly satisfy our sweet tooth craving, and there were plenty left over to share. We had them with a cup of tea. It was a perfect pairing. Now for the results.

The Results:

Overall Results: 5 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  These tarts turned out PERFECTLY. The pin photo was almost step-by-step enough to make these, but the recipes’ detailed instructions help ensure great results. The little tarts were a lovely combination of sweet, tangy, crisp, delicate, and pretty. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This very simple recipe would be fun to do with kids. The pie dough is very forgiving. I had several flowers tear a bit while I was working with them, but this was fixed while patting them into the tin. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  These took about 20 minutes from start to finish, and that included the photos and dishes. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  I happened to have everything on hand this time, so there was no extra shopping costs.  I had purchased the lemon curd at World Market for $3.99 to serve with scones. The pie crusts come two to a package (mine was the leftover in the back of the fridge), and cost about $3.00. That’s 29 cents per tart. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  These were quick, easy, and the tart shells are extremely versatile. You could fill them with any curd, custard, or pudding to make a bouquet of desserts. If you leave off the powdered sugar, you could use the shells with savory fillings, too. They’re perfect for a tea party, garden party, or mother’s day. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins


Today is (yesterday was) chocolate caramel day!

So obviously my perfect intentions for staying ahead of the game this year didn’t work out as perfectly as I’d hoped. Does anyone else have this problem?

That’s okay – chocolate makes everything better, so let’s focus on that. Combine chocolate with caramel and you take “better” to a whole new level. When I saw this recipe for Brigadeiros, and saw how few ingredients they needed, I knew I had to give this a go.

Pintesting Brigadeiros - ORIGINAL PIN

You’ve never heard of Brigadeiros??? Don’t feel bad; neither had I until this pin came across my Pinterest feed by Stacy of Food Lust People Love. They are a Brazillian chocolate caramel (swoon) made from only 4 ingredients. Shall we get on with the Pintesting?

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Here are the ingredients. I had everything on hand – hooray for a well stocked pantry. Not shown is the butter; 1 Tablespoon for the recipe and more to coat your hands when shaping them.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Pour the sweetened condensed milk and butter into a skillet, then sift the cocoa into the mixture.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Don’t miss this step or you’ll have clumps of cocoa! Use the back of a spoon to break up the clumps.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Heat on medium heat, stirring to combine well.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Keep stirring…

Pintesting Brigadeiros

…and stirring, until the mixture is nice and thick. Stacy says 10-15 minutes; it was just over 10 minutes for me.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Pour the chocolate sprinkles into a container and grease your hands with butter while the caramel cools enough to handle. Roll spoonfuls into little balls,

Pintesting Brigadeiros

and then coat them in the chocolate sprinkles.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

I did several at a time; dropping them in and swirling the bowl of sprinkles.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

My friend was having a birthday, and so I thought it would be fun to use these to top mini cupcakes.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

To go with the chocolate and caramel candy, I did rich chocolate mocha cupcakes with a salted caramel buttercream. The cupcakes were delicious, but the Brigadeiros were the star. Everyone loved them – especially the Birthday girl.

Now for the Pintesting results.

Overall Results: 5 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy: These sweets were as easy to make as Stacey’s’ blog said they would be. Her step-by-step instructions were easy to follow and the Brigadeiros turned out perfectly on the first try. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: This is one of the easiest candy recipes I’ve ever made. No melting sugar, no worrying about melting chocolate seizing, and no candy thermometer needed. Once the caramel has cooled sufficiently, you could let children help with the rolling and shaping, but use caution since it does stay quite warm to the touch. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time: Start to finish, this was done in 30 minutes – including the dishes! The recipe makes quite a lot, which requires quite a lot of rolling and shaping the caramels, so I thought it might take a long time. Nope! 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost: Since I had everything on hand, this was free for me. Even if you had to buy everything, the four ingredients would set you back fewer than $10 and you’d have lots of leftovers. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality: Stacy made these and served them in cute little paper cups, but don’t let that limit your creativity. I topped cupcakes with them. They’d be great to garnish a cake. You could even press them into candy molds or hand shape them into unique designs for any occasion. These are quick and easy – so much so that I’m going to be making more to bring as a class treat. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies

This is the year that I get completely organized, stay ahead of the game, and don’t let circumstances control the direction of my life.

*Cue Laugh Track*

Each January, like so many others, I make goals and resolutions to get my life organized. Then life sits back and just laughs and laughs. Well this year I’m doing a few things differently to plan better. For example, I’m not waiting until February 13th or 14th to start working on a post for Valentine’s Day.

The Pin for these Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies came across my Pinterest radar a few days after Christmas; Sally from Sally’s Baking Addiction had posted them as a Christmas treat. While I see how their colors look holiday festive, I think the pink, red, and white is much more perfect for Valentine’s Day. That they combine one of my favorite flavor combinations (cherry almond) with one of my favorite cookies (shortbread) is a major bonus for moi.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies by Sally's Baking Addiction

The Pintesting:

There are only 8 ingredients – including the optional (therefore not shown) white chocolate.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Ingredients

Cream the butter, then add the sugar, extracts, and maraschino cherry juice.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies

Add the flour…

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Add Flour

…and cherries

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Add Cherries

Wrap and chill the dough – I chilled it overnight.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Wrap and Chill

Roll the dough into balls and chill again. The chilling was very stressed in order to keep the dough from spreading into cookie puddles.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies

Bake the cookies just until they’re done – NOT browned – then cool completely.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Baked Cookies…then drizzle with melted white chocolate “if desired” – because who doesn’t like chocolate on cookies??? I tried melting the chocolate in the microwave, but it started to seize before it got very melty. Rather than just lose the battle, I decided to try making the nearly ruined chocolate into a white chocolate ganache to drizzle. Both tasted amazing (which is why there are only a half dozen in the picture), but for looks I like the melted chocolate. It gives a nicer visual contrast.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Cookies Finished

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.55 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  These cookies were very simple to make and delicious. Mine didn’t seem to come out quite as pink as Sally’s did, but that could have something to do with either my camera, the lighting in my kitchen (which is terrible), or because today is National Inane Answering Message Day. I’m going with the first two. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  The recipe was well written with detailed step-by-step instructions. A novice baker should be able to make these as long as they follow the recipe. That said, I might not recommend this for children unless they had adult supervision. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  While the mixing of this recipe goes pretty quickly, it calls for a lot of chilling time throughout the process. I chilled the dough overnight and then stuck the first baking sheet in the freezer while rolling the dough for the second sheet. This is definitely a plan ahead recipe; not something you can whip together at a moment’s notice. 3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Cost:  The ingredients are very basic to most kitchens with the exception of the maraschino cherries. The jar was less than $3. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  These bite-sized cookies started vanishing before they were even drizzled with the chocolate. They were loaded with flavor, and my favorite Valentine (aka Handsome Hubby) loved them. They’re perfect for popping in your mouth. Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day, Christmas or any other holiday. Show yourself some love and make these now. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Some of you know that I’ve been working very hard to change to a healthier lifestyle and lose weight, although the weight loss is secondary to getting healthy and fit. The problem is that I also love to cook and bake, and I don’t always want to choose the celery and peanut-butter rather than a rich dessert. Don’t get me wrong – I really like healthy foods, but I’m honest enough to admit to having moments of weakness. (Don’t we all?)

So when I saw this pin for Oatmeal Fudge Bars by Deborah from her blog Taste and Tell, my eyes lit on the “Oatmeal” and my brain tried to convince me that these were healthy. Well, oatmeal IS healthy… and chocolate has lots of antioxidants… and it would pair so nicely with coffee, which also has antioxidants.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - ORIGINAL PIN

Yes, I followed that logic right down the path to the kitchen. I mean, wouldn’t you? And since I had all of the ingredients, I thought it was a sign that this was the right thing to do. As you can see, the ingredients are pretty basic.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Ingredients

The first step is to prep the pan with non-stick spray, parchment paper, and more spray.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Prep the Pan

Cream the sugar and butter,

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars

…until it’s light and fluffy.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Add in the eggs and vanilla.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Mix the dry ingredients

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Mixed Dry Ingredients

Then add them to the creamed mixture

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Crust combinedPintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Crust

and pat it into the pan, reserving 1/3 of the mixture.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Pat Crust Into Pan

Now for the fudge layer.  Melt the milk, chocolate, and butter in a saucepan, stirring until smooth.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Fudge Filling

Stir in the vanilla and salt.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Add vanilla and salt and stir until smooth

Spread the fudge mixture over the crust (after a quick taste test), then crumble the reserved crust mixture over the fudge layer.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Top with reserved crust mixture

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Deborah says to let the bars cool before cutting, but she didn’t say for how long. I waited for 20-30 minutes because they smelled so good and I didn’t want my coffee to get cold. (Seems like a legit reason.) You can see that in the first picture that the fudge layer didn’t have long enough to get really set and solidified. The next day, however, these cut much better and the fudge layer seemed fudgier (2nd picture).

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - warm and cold

These bars were a huge hit. The HH loved them. They were delicious both warm-ish and completely cooled. Will I make these again? ABSOLUTELY!

Overall Results: 4.7 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy: These bars turned out exactly like they were portrayed. The oat cookie crust and crumble were the perfect compliment to the rich fudgy filling. The recipe was detailed and straightforward with no issues or surprises. It would have been good to know that these are best served completely cooled for the filling, but they were delicious either way. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating -  5 Pins

Difficulty: The bars were simple to make and the recipe was easy to follow. Because of the added cooking step rather than just mixing and baking, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time: The prep time took 20-25 minutes – longer than the 15 minutes in the recipe. However, I’m trying to take pictures while working a recipe for the 1st time. The total time, including cooling time which is necessary, came to almost 1 1/2 hours. This is a perfect recipe to make early in the day or even the night before. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost: I had every single ingredient in my cupboard for this recipe. Not running out to the store is a good thing. Even if you did have to make a grocery run, not any ingredient is more than a few dollars. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating -  5 Pins

Practicality: We had these for dessert, in our lunches, and as snacks. They would be great for a cookie exchange, potluck, or… anything. The cookie on top and bottom makes it not as messy for eating with your hands rather than a fork – again, perfect for kids lunches. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating -  5 Pins

Peach and Cherry Tarts

It’s time to Celebrate! Summer is a time of celebrations. There’s Independence Day (and Canada Day for my Canadian friends), Labor Day, and many birthdays of friends and family – including MINE (yes, I still get excited about my birthday, don’t you?). Summer is a great time to party it up! As much as I LOVE to make and eat cake, after a while I just need something different.  Too many cakes + bathing suit season = disaster.So when I found this Pin for a simple but delicious looking Peach and Cherry Tarts by Jo from Jo Cooks, I was all over it.

Pintesting Peach and Cherry Tarts - ORIGINAL PIN

Fresh peaches and cherries have been calling to me in my grocery store for a while now. I’ll walk past them, and the smell of those peaches calls me over, enticing me. “You know you want to buy us… We are your husband’s favorite…” It’s like the siren’s song. Then there are all of the wonderful health benefits to eating fresh fruit. Add the simplicity of the recipe… okay, let’s get started!


The Pintesting:

The recipe called for puff pastry, fresh peaches, fresh cherries, mascarpone cheese, cream cheese and a little sugar. I couldn’t find the mascarpone cheese, so I went with all cream cheese and a little milk and vanilla to help sweeten and loosen up the mixture.
Peach and Cherry Tart - Ingredients - Pintesting

Puff pastry comes frozen, usually in two sheets folded in thirds, and requires thawing before using. The instructions say to thaw overnight in the refrigerator or 30 minutes on the counter. Since I was making this early in the morning, I chose to thaw it overnight so I’d have one less thing to worry about before coffee. Seriously, who does ANYTHING before coffee? Exactly.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Puff Pastry - Pintesting

The pastry should unfold once thawed. However, mine was stuck together in two solid rectangles of dough. What to do? I just dusted the counter with a little flour and rolled it out to its intended size.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Roll it out - Pintesting

Once the dough was the right size, I cut it into thirds and put the pastry onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Cut into thirds - Pintesting

Now for the sweetened cream cheese. As I said before, I couldn’t get mascarpone cheese so I went with all cream cheese. Mascarpone cheese is a bit softer than cream cheese, so I added a little milk (maybe a teaspoon) and a little vanilla (1/4-1/2 teaspoon) to loosen and lightly sweeten the mix.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Sweet cream cheese - Pintesting

Mix together until smooth.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Mixed - Pintesting

Divide onto the pastry sheets…

Peach and Cherry Tart - Divide - Pintesting

…and spread it evenly.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Spread evenly - Pintesting

Slice the peaches thinly and pit and half the cherries. I like that you don’t need to peel the peaches. A note about fresh peaches; look for fruit that is just ripe but isn’t too soft. Peaches bruise easily and turn into mush if they’re too ripe. They should be firm enough to handle without indenting with gentle pressure.

I love fresh cherries but don’t care for the lovely purple hue they turn my fingers while slicing or pitting them, so I sliced the cherries under running water. That fixed the problem before it became one.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Arrange fruit - Pintesting

Arrange the peach slices on the pastries and the cherries down the center.

Pintesting Peach and Cherry Tart

Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes. (My convection oven compensates automatically, thus the temperature difference.)

Peach and Cherry Tart - bake - Pintesting

Done! That’s it. I brought these into work to be a morning tasty treat to celebrate my birthday. Make my own birthday treat? Yes! That’s just how I roll. Making people happy with food makes me happy.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Finished - Pintesting

So this is how the Peach and Cherry Tarts looked when I set them out mid-morning. They didn’t last long, though. Everyone loved the fresh taste from these that wasn’t super sugary.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Served - Pintesting

Oh, and those oddly shaped rolls on the left side are my way of using the other puff pastry sheet.

Bonus Recipe:

  1. Cut the puff pastry sheet into quarters and put a row of four miniature candies down the center of each section; I used Hershey Kisses and Rolos because that’s what I had on hand but you can use any kind of miniature candies. (Note: this is a PERFECT way to use up Halloween candy that didn’t get passed on to trick-or-treaters. You know – that extra bag that you got “just in case”.)
  2. Brush all the edges with egg wash and fold the pastry over in thirds like a letter. The egg wash will help seal the pastry so the chocolaty goodness doesn’t leak out.
  3. Place it seam side down on a parchment-lined sheet pan tucking under the edges.
  4. Brush the whole pastry with egg wash to make it brown and shiny and beautiful.
  5. I baked these with the tarts and they came out perfectly. Yes, there are only three. Yes, I made four. Don’t judge – I was testing for doneness.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Rating: 4.55 Pins

5 Pins Overall

Accuracy: The recipe was thorough, well-written and simple to follow. I had to substitute for the mascarpone cheese, but that didn’t take away from the recipe at all. The tarts turned out fantastic. I love how the fruit took the spotlight and made a wonderfully fresh and naturally sweet dessert (or in our case, mid-morning snack) without a lot of added sugar. It was really spot-on with the recipe and presentation. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Difficulty: There are only 6 ingredients in the recipe, and normally they’re easy to find at my grocery store. (Sorry mascarpone.) When I make this again – and I definitely will – I’ll thaw the puff pastry on the counter rather than use the overnight method. A puff pastry novice might have been put off by the dough that wouldn’t unfold. And while I didn’t think that thinly slicing the peaches, and pitting and halving the cherries was any trouble, others at my office didn’t seem to agree. “Sure, it’s simple for YOU”. Of course, these are the people that think that I float through my kitchen and sing as I cook and bake, while woodland creatures come and do the dishes and clean my house. All I can say to that is… I wish!

Princess Wannabe

Yeah… In the real world, this gets 4 Pins.

Rated 4 Pins

Time: I whipped this up before work – including getting ready and without the help of any woodland creatures. The whole thing took about an hour. If I hadn’t had to roll out the puff pastry, it might have taken a little less time, so I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Rated 4 Pins

Cost: With only 6 ingredients, or 7 since I subbed the mascarpone by adding milk and vanilla, the total cost was still around $10, and we had extra cherries for lunches and snacks. 4 Pins.

Rated 4 Pins

Practicality: This recipe is simple, cost effective, delicious, healthy, and (in my humble opinion) quick and easy tart. It works equally well for dessert, brunch, lunch, or any other food option. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

The Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread Alternative

As I’m writing this post, I’m memory-listening to a little boy singing his favorite song from his favorite movie. Memory-listening, for those who don’t know, is a lot like when you get a song stuck in your head (now referred to as an earworm), but it’s a song you’ve heard in the past. In this case, it’s a little boy from my day care, about 2-3 years old, singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story. I’d hear him sing it over and over again. He’s rather grown up now and probably getting ready for his first car, but I hear a little boy’s voice singing.

I have been blessed with some amazing friends, and I am most thankful for this great gift. One of the best things about the gift of friendship is that it comes in so many shapes and sizes. I’m not referring to the shapes and sizes of the friends, but the kinds of friends. New friends. Old friends. Friends that are close by. Friends that live far far away. Work friends. Gym friends. Zumba friends. (YES, they get a special category!) Church friends. Neighbor friends. High School and College friends. Cooking and baking friends. Blogging friends that you’ve never met in person, but look forward to meeting someday friends. Random-stranger-that-you-met-at-the-wine-shop-and-have-been-hanging-out-together-since friends.

My point is that no matter how or when or where you met, friendship is a precious gift.

And every now and then a friend will gift me with the gift of friendship bread. Except it doesn’t look like bread. Actually, it looks more like a bag or tub of goo, or the science experiment from the back of their fridge.

Appropriate response, “Um, gee thanks”. (Insert big sincere looking smile that ends up looking like a grimace.)

It’s a starter that needs to be fed and stirred in the fridge or on the counter for about 2 weeks before you can divide it, then share and bake. I don’t know about you, but if I want to bake bread, I don’t think about it 2 weeks in advance. “Wow, I think I’d like to bake in a couple of weeks.” Nope! Nope! Nope! I can be patient for some things, but I’m an instant gratification kind of girl. If I want to bake, then I’m going to bake now!

This is an example of traditional friendship bread with daily instructions of what to do for 10-14 days.

Photo by tizzie from Flickr, from The Curvy Nerd blog.

Photo by tizzie from Flickr, from The Curvy Nerd blog.

So when this pin came across my radar, I was so ready to try the bread and make a new friend – or at least feed the ones I already have. Melissa at Redfly Creations showed this quick recipe for a short-cut cinnamon bread. Yes! I’m in.

Here are the ingredients. I had everything on hand.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Ingredients

First cream the butter, sugar and eggs.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Cream butter, sugar and eggs

I like to start creaming the butter and sugar, and then add the eggs.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Sour the milk

Next, sour the milk (if you don’t have buttermilk) by mixing the lemon juice and milk.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Add flour mixture and milk

Combine the dry ingredients and the milk to the butter mixture.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Sprinkle with Cinnamon, add reamaining dough

Pour half of the batter into the baking pans, sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar, and repeat.

***A note here. Melissa says to pour into two bread pans, but doesn’t specify the size. Since she also mentions that muffin tins work well, I used one 5×9 bread pan and a half-dozen mini loaf pans.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Cinnamon Sprinkle #2

Swirl with a knife…

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Swirl Cinnamon

Then bake for 45=50 minutes.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Bake

Your house will start to smell amazing!

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Done baking

Cool the breads a bit before removing from the pans.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Cooling Bread

Sadly, the large loaf had sunk in the middle. The mini loaves seemed to do rather well, though.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Sunken middle

I left the large loaf to finish cooling in hopes that it would help the texture.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Plated to eat

One of the sliced mini loaves was eaten with our Sunday brunch. We ate some of the larger loaf the next few days, but found the extreme denseness of the sunken middle too much. Oh the other hand, the remaining mini loaves were brought to work and devoured with many thumbs up. In this case I think the smaller sizes worked better.

Now, for the Pintesting results.

Overall Rating: 4.3 Pins

4 Pins Overall

Accuracy:  This was a delicious quick bread recipe. Unfortunately, the sinking in of the large loaf, which might be attributed to the lack of specific pan size, didn’t give us great results for half of the dough. Otherwise the texture of the smaller loaves was wonderful; moist with a nice crumb. I love cinnamon and the swirled cinnamon sugar. Done in the two layers, it really distributed the yumminess throughout the bread. I might have cut back a little of the cinnamon sugar, or maybe drizzled a bit of melted butter on the topmost layer to give it a more streusel-like topping and to keep it from baking dry. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins

Difficulty: The recipe was well written (except for the lack of loaf pan size), and the most difficult part was the process of dividing the batter and cinnamon sugar for the two layers of cinnamon-y goodness. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins

Time:  The recipe calls for softened butter. Since I knew that I was going to make this on a Sunday morning, I put enough butter out before going to bed on Saturday night to soften properly. My own trick is to stick it into the microwave (NOT turning it on, just to keep it free from any kitties that might want some yummy butter) and close the door overnight. I’m not including the 8-hours of butter softening time. The actual prep and baking time was just under an hour, with another 20 minutes for cooling time. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins

Cost: There are no expensive ingredients on this recipes list. No special trips to the store – especially since Melisssa gave the alternative of soured milk for the buttermilk. (Good job!) 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Practicality:  I could see this as a great recipe for either muffins or mini loaves; perfect for breakfast, brunch or an afternoon snack. I especially like that the smaller sizes are perfect for freezing ahead and having on hand. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins