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

7-Layer Greek Dip

Going to the movies is fun, but there are some downsides to seeing a film at the theater. I don’t like the overpriced snacks. I like real butter on my popcorn rather than that bright yellow butter-flavored oil. No wine. The theater folks frown upon patrons coming in their pajamas and slippers. Oh, and they won’t pause the movie to let you use the restroom after you’ve had a 44-oz large soft drink. This is why we prefer to watch most movies at home. One video that recently came out was My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. Since we’re not limited to popcorn and soda at home, my HH and I decided that we needed Greek movie snacks. So when I saw this pin by Delish for their 7-Layer Greek Dip, I knew this was going to be our movie date night dish.

Here’s the video that was floating around Pinterest. How appropriate that this, too, is a movie?

The Pintesting:

The ingredients are traditionally Greek. Please note that there is a little dish of red onions off to the side. It’s not one of the listed ingredients, so watch for this special guest ingredient later. Let’s go through the layers.

Pintesting 7-layer Greek Dip

1: Hummus

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

2: Cucumbers

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

3: OlivesPintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

4: Artichokes

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

Make the sauce by combining the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and dill. Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

5: Yogurt Sauce

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

6: Tomatoes

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

7: Feta & Parsley

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

8:  but this is a 7-Layer Greek Dip? I added minced red onions since they’re in so many Greek dishes. Red onions are often found in Greek food and I thought it would add a nice flavor. This is totally optional.

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

Opa! You can let it chill in the fridge or just grab some pita chips and dig in, which is what we did.

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

Since it’s movie night, here’s my video of how to make the 7-Layer Greek Dip.

This is loaded with so many good ingredients that I had no trouble substituting it for a light supper, and my HH agreed. It felt like we ate a LOT but most, at least two-thirds, of the bowl was leftover, so the next day we scooped it over a mixture of romaine lettuce and spinach to make a Greek-style salad. I topped it with leftover salmon and crumbled the remaining pita chips as croutons – delish!

Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.85 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  My glass dish didn’t spin like the one in the Delish video did and I added the 8th layer of red onions, but I have to say that this was as delicious as the original video suggested. The Greek flavors would be what you would expect in the Mediterranean. I would risk sneaking this into the theater. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  Once all of the prep work is done, this is easy to layer up. Do pay attention if you’re slicing the olives yourself. Even if the jar says that they’re pitted, you might come across some that still have the pits so use caution. Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip Due to the amount of chopping involved, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  There is a bit of prep work in chopping the cucumbers, artichokes, tomatoes, and olives (if you don’t get them sliced) and making the yogurt sauce. However, start to finish this came together in 15 minutes. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  We eat a lot of Mediterranean-inspired food, so most of these ingredients are on hand in our home. If you had to buy everything it would run you about $10, but you’d have a lot of leftover ingredients to use in other dishes. The recipe had leftovers that perfectly repurposed into a lunch salad. We ended up with two large servings of dip and four lunch salads from this recipe, so that’s $1.67/serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  I loved how this could be used as a great dip and also made an easy Gree-style salad. The wholesome ingredients make this a healthier snack or appetizer and are a great way to sneak in more veggies. Adding red onions as the 8th layer was my customization, but you can change it up however you like. 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

Sour Patch Grapes

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

So it’s the end of February and New Year’s seems ages ago. Are you still doing well on your resolutions? Eating healthy and/or getting fit is listed as one of the top three New Year’s resolutions, depending on your source. Everyone wants to look and feel better, myself included. Over the years, we’ve made basic changes to the way we eat. We try to use only whole grains,  incorporate more fruits and veggies in every meal, eat lean meats and more fish, and drink lots and lots of water. Some days are easier than others, but we try not to beat ourselves up too much when we have an off day.

I was looking for healthy ideas from Pinterest to Pin Test and I found about 17 new dessert recipes. Then I saw this pin for Sour Patch Grapes by Kim of A Spotted Pony, and my inner 8-year-old started jumping up and down. I mean, who doesn’t like Sour Patch candies? They’re tangy-sour, slightly sweet, and have that sugar coating that gets all over your fingers. However, we try to stay away from things that have a lot of sugar, so most candy is out – unless it’s not candy. Thank you, Kim!

Original Pin from A Spotted Pony

Kim referred to her original source, in the pin below, by Carol from the blog Pure Sugar. (Does anyone else find it funny that I’m trying to find healthy ideas, and the pin is from the blog Pure Sugar? Anybody?) I decided to go with the original recipe from Carol since I was able to find the mystery Jell-O at my grocer.

http://puresugar.net/cooking-thursday-sour-patch-grapes-glitter-grapes-recipe/

The Pintesting:

On to the Pin Test! The recipe called for 1 lb. of grapes, pulled off their stems and washed, and a box of Melon Fusion Jell-O. My bag of grapes was almost 3 lbs with the stems on, so I got two boxes of Jell-o. The Cherry Lemonade flavor sounded fun, plus it’s one of my favorite Nerds candy flavors, so I went for it.

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

This is extremely difficult. Put some of the Jell-o powder onto a plate or shallow bowl. I used a shallow bowl so I wouldn’t worry about spilling. Remember, my inner 8-year-old is making this recipe.

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

Add some of the washed and still slightly damp grapes…

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

And swirl around until they’re coated with the Jell-o powder.

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

Put them in a bowl and refrigerate uncovered. This keeps them from getting gummy.

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

That’s it! Both bloggers recommended they not be frozen because they get really gummy and messy when the grapes thaw, but they should be served cold. I did the second half with the Cherry Lemonade flavor, but think I might save that for red grapes next time.

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

I brought them into work to share and get feedback. Everyone who tried them LOVED them! It was about an even split for the favorite flavor. One manager even asked for the recipe today and went on her lunch to pick up the grapes.

One note of caution, several people whose stomachs were sensitive to acidic foods said that they had some problems shortly after eating the grapes. I am not making any medical statements, just sharing the feedback of my colleagues. Now for the rating.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Rating: 5 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

 

Accuracy: The Mellon Fusion flavored grapes had the tangy-sour, lightly sweet taste that was very much like the Sour Patch candies. The Cherry Lemonade flavored grapes were a little sweeter, but not overly sweet, and they still had a bit of tang to them. Both made it almost impossible to not lick the Jell-o powder from your fingers while eating them. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty: My inner 8-year-old believes that real 8-year-olds could make these with very little supervision. The hardest part is not eating them all immediately. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Time: Each batch took less than 10 minutes to make, but both blogs recommend at least 1 hour in the fridge before serving. 5 Pins.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Cost: The grapes were on sale for $2.99/lb. and the Jell-o was $1.00 each. 5 Pins.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Practicality: These are a perfect treat and candy alternative for kids, or you could serve them at a wine and cheese party for adults, or anything in between. I like that you can get creative with different grape colors and Jell-O flavors.  5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

 

Mini Peach Cobblers

My husband loves peach cobbler. It’s one of his all time favorite desserts. When I saw this pin for Mini Peach Cobblers, I knew I had to make it for him. I’m very fortunate and blessed to have such a wonderful man to call my husband, and love to spoil him in little ways like this. Much of my love comes from the kitchen. Last week he had a rough work day, so we had pan-seared scallops and steak for supper with steamed veggies and a Greek salad. On a Tuesday – just because. He felt the love.

My wonderful husband spoils me by cleaning the house. The man is gifted at cleaning. I mean, he puts Mr. Clean to shame. He can do in one hour what takes me all morning. So tell me, who wouldn’t make peach cobbler for the man who cleans? That ‘s what I thought. He was very excited about this pin test, so let’s get to it.

The original pin was by Melissa from Sugar Derby, who was guest posting on Alli’s blog, Alli-N-Son.

http://www.alli-n-son.com/2011/06/02/mini-peach-cobblers/

http://www.alli-n-son.com/2011/06/02/mini-peach-cobblers/

The Pintesting:

The ingredients called for a can of diced peaches. Melissa tells a funny story regarding this difficult-to-find ingredient, but I had no problem finding them at my grocer.

Ingredients

First I mixed the dry ingredients and combined with the milk until smooth. Melissa says to use a wooden spoon. I used a whisk and the results were perfect.

Mix until Smooth

I added the melted butter to the muffin pans, then topped with the batter.

Melted butter and batter in muffin cups

Next came the peaches, followed by a sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Add peaches then sprinkle

The amount of brown sugar and cinnamon was omitted and left to the discretion of the cook. I did half with a lighter sprinkle and half with a heavy “sprinkle” to see if there would be a noticeable difference. We couldn’t taste a difference, but noticed that the cobblers with a more generous sprinkle were more nicely browned when baked.

I should note that the recipe yields 12 minis, but I had quite a bit of leftover melted butter and batter. I would recommend using 4-6 TBS of butter rather than the whole stick, and evenly divide up any additional batter.

Leftover butter & batter

I baked in a 350 degree pre-heated oven and set the timer for 12 minutes. Nothing was mentioned about using a convection oven, so I went with the conventional oven setting.

Bake

After 12 minutes the cobblers didn’t look quite done, so I gave them another 5 minutes. That seemed to do the trick.

Almost then Done

The directions say to let them cool almost completely before removing from the pan. After about 10 minutes, the cobblers had shrunk a bit from the cooling.

Shrink after cooling

Since it was a cold evening, we decided to test them with a cup of tea and skip the recommended ice cream. I’m sure it’s a delicious addition, but totally not necessary.

Done

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Rating: 5 Pins

5 Pins Overall - LARGE

Accuracy: The recipe was easy to follow, and the blog post added clarity on the sprinkle question of the brown sugar and cinnamon. My husband, who considers himself a peach cobbler expert, said this was one of the very best he’d ever tasted. We both liked the light, crispiness and chewiness of the cobbler crust. It wasn’t doughy at all, which is his biggest pet peeve of cobblers. 5 pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty: This was a very simple recipe. Perfect for a novice baker. 5 pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Time: I found that it took about 5 minutes more than the time in the recipe, but it took roughly 10 minutes of prep time, 17 minutes of baking time, and 10 minutes of cooling. At just over half an hour, 5 pins.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Cost: The ingredients are common to most kitchens. I only had to pick up the can of diced peaches for less than $2.00. 5 pins.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Practicality: This makes a nice after school snack or week night dessert. The leftovers (if you have any) also make a yummy breakfast with a cup of coffee. 5 pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL