Peanut Butter Maple Cookies

OK, I can finally breathe again.

My pants? Not so much.

I’m still trying to figure out what happened. All I remember is the table filled and filled with food and then all of a sudden I was home in bed with a killer stomach ache from eating too much food.

I was literally in pain.

And I didn’t even have a touch of turkey. Whoa.

Here my deal. My “going to the electric chair last meal” is definitely without a doubt gnocchi with butternut squash sauce.

Let me just talk about this.

Gnocchi: Pasta and potato. Combined. Enough said.

Butternut Squash sauce: Butternut squash. Enough said.

My aunt makes the absolute best (well, I’ve ever only had hers…) and I ask her to make it every Thanksgiving.

And we always have it during our first round of food. This year, the first round consisted of 2 types of lasagna’s, the gnocchi, and an amazing arugula, endive and radicchio salad.

I literally couldn’t sit down to eat fast enough. I put a nice pile of gnocchi on my plate with salad and lasagna (really, they were there to just keep each other company on the plate) and DUG.IN.

I really, honestly can’t even sit here and break down the flavors for you and describe to you why I love this dish so much. It just leaves me speechless.

So I ate that and when it was time for turkey, I filled my plate with all side dishes because everything just looked amazing. Artichokes, potatoes, turnips, veggies, cranberry sauce (with ridges from the can. The ONLY way to eat it, IMHO), stuffing, sweet potatoes, and fried cauliflower. I barely took one bite of each because I couldn’t fit anything else in my tummy. It was stuffed with gnocchi and it wasn’t letting anything else in there. And honestly, a tummy stuffed with gnocchi is a happy stomach. And if I missed out on other great Thanksgiving food because of that, well, that’s alright with me.

I couldn’t even fit dessert in my tummy!

Speaking of, I made my pumpkin coffee cake, mini funfetti cheesecakes, sugar free cupcakes (for my future sister in law), mini butterscotch pumpkin cream cheese pies and chocolate overload cookies.

But I wasn’t the only one. NO ONE was ready for dessert when it came time to eat it. I think I came home with the same amount of leftover desserts that I came WITH.

But it was all good. I spent the day with my family eating amazing food. No one is a loser when it comes to that.

I love Thanksgiving.

Now you’re probably thinking “these pictures of cookies has nothing to do with her ramblings.”

Duh. Yes. No.

After Thanksgiving, I took a baking break. I needed to catch my breath from the baking and the eating and the food.

My pants needed the break as well.

But I’m back in the kitchen and I made these wonderful cookies. Peanut Butter Maple Cookies.

Yes Yes Yes.

These cookies were great. The peanut butter is the first thing you taste and the maple slowly just peaks its head around the corner and whispers in your ear “Hey, I’m here too.”

Well thank you for coming, Maple. I truly appreciate it. The party wouldn’t be complete without you.

I was a little nervous when I pulled these babies out of the oven because they bake up thin. And you know me and my love for big, fluffy, chewy cookies. But when I took a bite, I was pleasantly surprised. While on the thin side, they still had a chew to them. (YAY!) That chew comes from the oats and brown sugar.

Oats. So it’s definitely a healthy cookie. Right? Right, pants?

YES.

These cookies are great for the holidays. Maple syrup. So winter-y. (Just nevermind the 70 degree weather we’ve been experiencing.) Seriously Mother Nature? WTF.

But make a batch of these (and mind you, the whole recipe makes about 4-5 dozen cookies. CHA.) and put them in cute little Christmas/Holiday tins, or cute little holiday bags, and you got yourself a great homemade gift that everyone will love.

Simple. Easy. Done.

Oh, and being that I have a thing with turning thin cookies into ice cream sammies, please totally completely make these into ice cream sammies using peanut butter ice cream. And then once you can lift your face out of those sammies, let me know how it went. kthanks.

PEANUT BUTTER MAPLE COOKIES

Recipe by: Taste of Home Cookies Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package (10 ounces) peanut butter chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in syrup and vanilla. Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture. Stir in peanut butter chips.
  3. Drop by heaping tablespoons (I used a medium cookie scoop), 2 inches apart onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown  (mine were done by 15-16 minutes). Cool for 1 minute before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip and Butterscotch Squares

You’re not sick of pumpkin yet are you?

Good. Because I’m totally not either.

Oh wait, you are?

Oh.

Well this just got awkward..

OK, well you may want to look away because, you guessed it, I made something pumpkin.

I don’t know what happens. As soon as the leaves start turning, and the air starts to get crisp, the only thing that consumes my brain (other than hoodies and sweaters and hockey and football) is pumpkin and how many things I can bake with it.

Nothing quite screams “fall” more than pumpkin. I mean, right (and I totally wrote “write” the first time) from beginning, there is the color. A deep orange. So lovely. I just want to paint all the tree leaves with it.

Then there is the taste. I mean, you CAN just eat straight up pumpkin puree. Go for it. It may not be amazingly flavorful, but it’s still yummy. But what makes it scream fall are all the flavors that you can add to it.

Pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, gloves, ginger, chocolate, butterscotch, etc. All amazing fall flavors that add a warmth and such a deep flavor that can’t be beat.

And pumpkin is just so nostalgic. Can you ever imagine a Thanksgiving dinner without pumpkin pie? Even if you don’t like it, it’s always on the table. It’s like the Thanksgiving version of Christmas fruit cake. It’s ALWAYS there.

And gosh, pumpkin is just SO versatile. Cheesecakes, mini cheesecakes, pumpkin brownies, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin cakes, pumpkin icing, the list goes on and on.

It’s just so receptive to other flavors.

Fall + pumpkin. They go together like peas and carrots. You can’t quite have one without the other.

Me personally? I like my pumpkin with chocolate. As I do many things in life.

And these bars fulfill the chocolate quota perfectly. But to take them over the top, I added butterscotch chips.

Butterscotch. What are your feelings? I find it seems to have a cult following. I mean, there are people out there that LOOOOOOOOVE butterscotch and then there are people that think it’s just OK, and then there are people that hate it.

When I think of butterscotch, I think of Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets. We’ve all had them.

I actually really like butterscotch. So I always find it enjoyable to use them in recipes. I just happened to have 2 bags of butterscotch chips in my pantry, so I thought they were just what these bars needed.

Pumpkin and butterscotch. Seriously people. They just work. And chocolate? Do I even need to convince you? Yeah, thought so.

These bars have such a lovely fluffy texture to them. Sometimes when baking with pumpkin, it can make things very light and cakey. These were light but had a nice solid chewy texture to them that was fantastic.

And the pumpkin flavor is spot on. These would be perfect for Thanksgiving, to bring into the office, to give as gifts to your friends, anything. They’re amazing.

Pumpkin, chocolate, and butterscotch.

They go perfectly together just like…pumpkins and fall.

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP AND BUTTERSCOTCH SQUARES

Recipe Adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 6 oz chocolate chips
  • 6 oz butterscotch chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 13×9 baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposing sides so you can lift the bars out after they bake. Spray the aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until well combined. Add the pumpkin puree and beat to combine (don’t be worried if the batter looks curdled, it’ll come together in the next step). With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in two additions, beating just until combined. Fold in the chocolate and butterscotch chips with a rubber spatula.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the bars cool completely.

Use the aluminum foil to lift the bars out of the pan and cut them into squares.

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Sometimes I let my brain get the best of me.

And it’s always at really un-opportune times. Like just as I lay down to fall asleep because I’m still feeling like crap and the NyQuil that I took isn’t really working because my body, at this point, has just become immune to it’s glorious effects.

And all I’m doing is staring at a dark room while my mind goes on and on thinking about stupid things. And then I get all worked up because I over analyze situations and then I start getting defensive and create imaginary arguments to no one in particular because I’m alone in my bed staring at a dark room.

Isn’t there an off button? My off button used to be NyQuil, but that’s not working so much right now.

Addict? Maybe.

What.Ever.

Why do we (I) tend to over analyze everything? It can’t be healthy. I mean, as you can see I end up having arguments with…no one. I’m basically arguing with myself. And why should we (I) do that to ourselves (myself)?

I find I just work myself up into a tizzy. If I feel like there is an issue, I get defensive and crazy and I re-live every detail over and over again in my head until it’s resolved. And more than half the time, there was no issue at all. And I made myself crazy for no reason.

Like, why?

WHY!

(!!)

Well, I do know why. I like to make sure that everyone is happy. I don’t like drama or confrontation, and if I feel someone is upset with me or angry with me or doesn’t like something I did, I go nuts inside until the issue is settled and everyone is fine.

You don’t have an issue with me, right? Like, you’re not mad or upset? Because if you are, I won’t sleep until it’s all cleared and I’ll definitely be “crazy-overanalyzing Deanna” and nobody likes that Deanna. Especially me.

It’s exhausting. And I’d much rather spend my time eating these Pumpkin Pie Bars.

These Pumpkin Pie Bars are uncomplicated. Just how I wish my mind was.

Simple, easy, uncomplicated, delicious.

And hey, did you know that Thanksgiving is totally next week? Yeah, I’m completely psyched about that thought.

And did you know these would totally be perfect for Thanksgiving? And totally a great alternative to a regular old pumpkin pie?

Pumpkin pie in bar form? Sign me up.

PUMPKIN PIE BARS

Recipe by Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) butter, melted
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin

For the top:
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on both sides.

2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt; set aside.

3. In a large bowl whisk together the sugar and butter. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and whisk until combined. Add the pumpkin and whisk until thoroughly combined. Add the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, gently stir or fold the flour into the pumpkin mixture until just combined.

4. Scraped the batter into the pan and smooth the top. In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and cinnamon, and then sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center has just a few moist crumbs on it. Cool completely and then, using the parchment as handles, lift out of the pan and cut into 24 squares. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

We now return to your regularly scheduled programming…

I’m out of commission.

I’m currently sitting in a cloud of tissues. I have no control over my nose. It is just continually dripping yuckiness and I can’t do anything about it. As I type this sentence I have a tissue shoved up my right nostril. It’s definitely a good thing this is a blog and not a vlog. I would most certainly lose all of my 3 readers.

Being sick, for a lack of better words, sucks.

It messes with your judgement and makes you crazy.

“What makes you say that, Deanna?”

Oh, I’m so glad you asked.

I’m sitting here watching “The Last Song” thinking “Hey, Miley. You’re not a bad actress at all! Don’t let the haters bring you down. You can’t be tamed!”

Oscar winner Miley Cyrus. It’s happening, people. Get behind it.

And I’m already bored. There is only so much bad TV I can watch.

I guess the only thing to do to pass the time is obviously to re-read Breaking Dawn to get ready for the movie that comes out next week. So excited and I don’t care who knows it. Vampire.Baby. Yeah.

So not only am I miserable because my nose won’t stop dripping like a faucet, there is nothing on TV, and Miley doesn’t have an Oscar, I am also miserable because when I get sick I lose my taste buds.

Yep. When my nose gets stuffy, I can’t taste anything. I don’t know why. But it’s the most ridiculously irritating thing in the world. You want me to get depressed? Take away my taste buds. Like it’s seriously mean. Just strip me of my baker-ness.

Le Sigh.

Luckily I made these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins when I could taste things. Oh, the glory days.

And thank heavens I could taste these. Because they were amazing.

A delicious pumpkin muffin with a brown sugar and butter streusel filled with a cream cheese.

Some of you may remember me saying this, but I’m not a huge fan of cream cheese. It’s sour. I don’t know. Just not my cup of tea.

But sweeten it with powdered sugar and place it inside a delicious muffin, well hell. I could learn to love cream cheese.

Note to self: I need to make muffins more often.

Can I start a petition to dub muffins the “new cupcakes”? Like can we get this going?

I mean, it’s not really a stretch now is it? They’re very similar to cupcakes. They just don’t have frosting.

They’re great.

Simple, delicious, crowd pleasing, lots of flavor combinations, no hassle of making and piping buttercreams, warm, homey, perfect.

Someone makes these for me today. It’ll make me feel better.

And please. Someone take this remote away from me. “From Justin to Kelly” is about to come on and I’m seriously considering watching it.

Help.

PUMPKIN CREAM CHEESE MUFFINS

Recipe by Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil

For the topping:
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp. flour
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Directions:

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth.  Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter.  Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil.  Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours.

To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil.  Mix on medium-low speed until blended.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend.  Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.  Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.

To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons).  Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces.  Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well.  Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely.  Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

 

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

I wasn’t supposed to write about this today. I was going to talk about pumpkin cream cheese muffins. And I will. Because they were completely filled with yum.

But then I made this. And I almost died.

And if I somehow died after taking my first fork-full of this coffee cake, then I actually might have been OK with that. Because I would have gone while eating something so amazingly delicious that it would have been worth it.

Guys, this cake.

You know when you eat something so good, that your head goes back and your eyes roll to the back of your head?

Yeah. I think mine are still back there.

As soon as this coffee cake came out of the oven, I knew I was in trouble. The smell that came from the oven was so amazing, that the 30 minutes it took to bake was the longest in while for me to wait.

I kept walking out of the kitchen trying to keep busy. But I just kept coming back trying to force the clock to go faster.

The cake by itself would have been fantastic. But when it comes out of the oven, you make a caramel sauce that you then POUR ALL OVER THE WARM CAKE.

The caramel seeps into the cake and makes it so moist while adding another layer of flavor that just slaps you in the face.

When this cake was done, I couldn’t wait any longer. I sliced a piece of cake while it was still warm (OK…hot) and seriously went to town.

Usually when I bake something, I rarely eat the whole thing. I take a bite or two to see how it tastes and then I’m done with it. But this cake? One or two bites just didn’t stand a chance.

Thank GOD I was alone in the house when I ate this. The sounds that were coming out of my mouth were not PG. I didn’t want to it end. That piece of cake was gone in an instant and I was left staring at the rest of the 9×13 sheet cake and then staring at my fork. Cake…fork. Cake…fork.

I literally had to walk out of the kitchen to prevent myself from eating it all. And it was THEN that I wished that someone else was in the house so they could take it away from me.

When my mom came home later, I pretty much shoved this in her face. I told her to bring it to work with her so it was out of the house and away from me. The verdict? She called me (OK..emailed) and said the cake was gone in 10 minutes. 10 MINUTES!!

Everything just worked with this cake. The pumpkin cake was incredibly flavorful. You tasted the pumpkin and spices but it wasn’t over-powering in the least. Perfect balance. The brown sugar/walnut/melted butter topping was amazing (and I don’t even like nuts! But here…the crunch that the walnuts adds really is a nice fit. And plus you can barely taste them when they’re covered with brown sugar and butter).

But what puts this coffee cake over the moon is the caramel glaze that you pour over the warm cake. Like seriously. I can’t. Brown sugar, regular sugar, vanilla and whipping cream. Melted all together to form a lovely brown oasis. Put that on top of ANYTHING and you’ve got yourself a winner. Put add it to this amazing cake? OFF THE CHARTS AMAZING.

It seeps through the cake to make it so moist and again, it’s just another layer of flavor that can’t be beat.

I seriously have no other words.

Just make this cake.

Make it for the holidays, for your family, for you friends, or just for you. Just do it.

And if you aren’t in love with it like I am…well then. I’m not sure I want to know you.

PUMPKIN COFFEE CAKE

Recipe by How Sweet Treats

Ingredients:

⅓ cups Water
1 can Pureed Pumpkin (15 Oz)
2 whole Eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 box Yellow Cake Mix (18 Ounce Box)
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup Brown Sugar, Divided
½ cups Flour
⅓ cups Walnuts, Chopped
4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
¼ cups Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
¼ cups Heavy Whipping Cream

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl mix together the water, pumpkin, eggs, 1 Tablespoon of vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined. Add the cake mix and baking soda and mix until just combined.

Grease a 9×13 pan with butter and pour batter into pan.

In a small bowl mix together 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, walnuts, and melted butter. Use fingers to sprinkle over the top of the cake. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For the glaze, combine the other 1/2 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir until all sugar is dissolved.

When cake is finished baking, poke holes in the top with a toothpick. Pour glaze over the cake, making sure to cover all surfaces. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.