Monthly Archives: November 2015

Glazed Pumpkin Sugar Cookies


  I’ve been working on my Thanksgiving menu for about a month now.  It keeps getting longer and longer.  I just can’t help it.  There’s all this tasty food I’d like to make for my lovies.  My green-eyed Irish guy asks me how many people are coming for dinner.  I say 8.  He tells me you aren’t cooking for 20 or 30 people.  You don’t have to make that much food.  But I do!

These sugar cookies would be an excellent addition to any dessert tray. They are pillowy soft and have a spicy sweet glaze on them.  They have just enough pumpkin flavor to make them an unique sugar cookie.  I don’t usually use an electric mixer when mixing cookies but I did this time.   It made them come together pretty quickly.  Just make sure your butter and eggs are at room temperature and sift your dry ingredients.  I saw them on Lauren’s Latest (recipe here) and only slightly deviated from her recipe.
   Glazed Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Makes 32 cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 large eggs, at room temperature

4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2-3 Tbs. water

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat baking mat, if you have one.  Set aside.  Place the butter in a large mixing bowl.  Mix with an electric mixer on medium high until smooth and pale yellow.  Add the sugar and mix on medium speed until thoroughly combined.  Add in the vegetable oil, pumpkin puree, powdered sugar and vanilla and mix until combined.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition.  Sift the dry ingredients-flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and pumpkin pie spice-into the butter mixture. Mix on low speed until just combined and then increase speed to medium and mix for another 2 minutes so that everything is well incorporated. Use a 1 1/2 – 2 Tbs. cookie scoop to scoop the cookies onto the prepared baking sheet.  Place 1/8 cup sugar in a small bowl.  Dip a small glass into the sugar before flattening the cookies to about 1/2 inch thickness.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes.  While the cookies are baking, make the glaze. Sift the powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl.  Add the water, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice and stir with a spoon until smooth and a glaze consistency.  Set aside.  Remove cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the pan for about 3 minutes.  Place on a wire rack and spoon about 1 1/2 tsp. glaze onto each cookie while still warm.  Serve while the glaze is still oozy or allow to cool for one to two hours for the glaze to set.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,



Stuffed Acorn Squash


  The snowpocalypse has begun.  Yep, it is our first snowfall of the season. It snowed all day.  Big, fluffy, wet snowflakes.  Grudgingly, I admit it can be pretty, but this is what I really think of snow:

  I’m sorry winter.  We’re just not compatible.  It’s not you.  It’s me.  I’d like to see other seasons.  ANY other season!  I’ll just grab my sunglasses and flipflops because spring is waiting for me just around the corner.

Enough winter bashing for the moment.  Let’s talk squash.  Acorn squash to be exact.  I didn’t want to make soup like I usually do.  I wanted to do something different so I decided to stuff that baby.  I knew I wanted to use Italian sausage and rice.  A lot of people add apples and cranberries.  I didn’t have any apples on hand but I did have apple butter.  I thought the spicy apple spread would be an interesting addition.  Boy, was I ever right. The combination was pretty darn good.  The cranberries re-hydrated and gave it a sweet tart surprise.  All I am saying is give squash a chance.  Try it.  You’ll like it.  I promise.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

1 large acorn squash

2 tsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper


1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage

1 Tbs. finely minced onion

1/4 tsp. minced garlic

1/3 cup apple butter

1/8 cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 cup cooked brown rice


1/4 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 Tbs. maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.  Cut the squash in half vertically.  Remove the seeds and strings. Sprinkle each cut side with half the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place on the prepared baking sheet cut side down.  Cut several shallow slits in the skins of each half.  This will allow steam to escape so the squash roasts instead of steams.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. While the squash is roasting, make the stuffing.  Brown the sausage on medium high heat in a medium sized skillet.  Drain off the fat.  Reduce heat to medium and add the onion.  Cook for 2-3 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the apple butter, cranberries, salt, pepper and rice. Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes until heated through.  Set aside.  Remove the squash from oven.  Carefully turn each half over on the baking sheet with two spoons.  Sprinkle each hollow with half the chili powder, cinnamon and maple syrup.  Fill each hollow with the sausage mixture, making a large mound on top.  Cover the squash with aluminum foil, tucking the edges under.  Return to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Carefully remove the foil.  Using two spoons transfer each half to a bowl.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Chocolate Lovers Cake


  One thing I hold fast onto is my belief that everyone should have cake on their birthday in some shape or form.  Whether it be traditional cake or a fruit “cake” like I make for my daughter, N, everyone should be celebrated on their special day.  Each and every one of us is important and unique. The world would not be the same without any one of us.  At work I was known as the birthday cake lady.  I would ask each person what kind of cake they’d like and then I’d make them that cake.  Sometimes they’d tell me that was the only celebration they had.  That made my heart sad but also much more set in my belief.  Sometimes months later a person would tell me it meant so much to them that I made them a cake.  That gave me pause to think a humble cake could make such an impression.

I believe in these simple truths.  Our time here on Earth is limited.  We certainly don’t know how long we have.  Love deeply.  Say I love you often. Be kind.  Be generous.  Forgive yourself and others.  Sometimes we are our own worse critics.  Be a cheerleader.  It’s just as easy to lift someone up as it is to put them down. Use your talents to help others.  Be who you are because there’s only one you in this world.  Our smiles are our most beautiful feature.  Eat dessert first sometimes. Cake is an acceptable breakfast food item.

This is my favorite chocolate cake.  It’s very slightly adapted from My Baking Addiction (recipe found here).  It’s light, moist and packs quite a chocolate punch.  My green-eyed Irish guy always insisted he only liked white cake.  One day after I made this into cupcakes, I convinced him to take a bite.  He liked it and wanted another.  He took a big bite and bit my finger too.  He said, what have you done to me?  I replied, I have converted you to the dark side.
 This was a birthday cake for my new friend and neighbor.  Happy birthday Cherise!

Chocolate Lovers Cake

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli)

2 Tbs. dark chocolate cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s special dark)

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup buttermilk*

1 cup strong, freshly brewed coffee, at room temperature

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour or spray with cooking spray with flour two 9″ cake pans.  Set aside.  Sift all the dry ingredients-sugar, flour, cocoa powders, baking soda, baking powder and salt-into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix on low with the whisk attachment until combined. Add the wet ingredients-eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.  Mix on low speed until combined and then increase speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure all ingredients are mixed well.  Divide batter evenly between the two prepared pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pans and return to the wire racks until completely cool.  Frost with your favorite frosting.  Enjoy!

*I don’t always have buttermilk on hand.  I used 1 Tbs. white vinegar and milk to equal one cup instead.  I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir well before adding to cake batter.

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Cheery Cherry Coffee Cake


  Have you ever heard of the winter blues, otherwise known as SAD or seasonal affective disorder?  If nothing else, my joints sure do know about it.  The gray skies, the cold and the winter rain, sleet, snow and ice just bring me down. Do you feel that way too?  I always say on the gray, yucky days that I have to make my own sunshine. Most of the time I’m successful, but when there’s day after day and week after week of it, my sunshine making skills wane.  Yesterday was so yucky.  It was cold, rainy and the wind was howling. Today, it’s still kinda cold and the wind is still howling but it’s not raining. The sky is blue and the sun in shining.  Happy dance!  I’m soaking it in to recharge my inner solar panels to help me make my own.  This is just the calm before the storm so to speak.  The weather forecast says the “s” word for Saturday. I’m not ready for that darned white stuff! Then again, I’m never ready for it.  I’m the kind of girl who wishes for a green Christmas.  My green-eyed Irish guy always says you have to have snow for Christmas.  I always say I DON’T!

Gray, cold days make me think of baking.  Well, honestly, most days make me think of baking, but days like that REALLY make me think of it.  This coffee cake with its pretty red cherries and abundant glaze is a good thing to cheer a person up on a cold, bleak, blustery day or any day for that matter. It’s an oldie but goodie recipe from Bisquick.  I mean it when I say it’s a goodie.  It’s delicious.  I added some cinnamon to the cake batter.  It gives it a little somethin’ somethin’.  Usually I would make my own, but for this I bought the box o’ baking mix.  Add a can of cherry pie filling (or your favorite fruit pie filling) and you’re on your way to riding the tasty town express to cheery cherry coffee cake land.  Invite your friends over for coffee and coffee cake and spread the sunshine.

  Mmmmmm!  Look at all that glaze!
 Cheery Cherry Coffee Cake

4 cups baking mix (such as Bisquick)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. almond extract

1 tsp. cinnamon

3 large eggs, at room temperature

21 oz. can cherry pie filling (or your favorite fruit pie filling)


1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tbs. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease or spray with non-stick cooking spray a 9 x 13 baking pan.  Set aside.  Mix the melted butter and sugar together in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.  Add the remaining ingredients except for the cherry pie filling and the glaze ingredients.  Mix until just combined. Spread about 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan.  Spread the pie filling over the batter.  Drop the rest of the batter by the tablespoonful over the pie filling.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until light golden brown.  Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool slightly while making the glaze.  To make the glaze, place powdered sugar and milk in a small mixing bowl and beat with a whisk until smooth.  Drizzle glaze onto the coffee cake while it’s still slightly warm.  Cut into squares and serve either warm or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,