Wednesday, May 25, 2011

german chocolate muffins

I love a good muffin...especially a good chocolate muffin!  These German chocolate muffins are deliciously light and moist.  They are also full of surprises - they only have five ingredients, are chock full of vitamin A, and are really not all that bad for you.  The majority of the fat is the good stuff that comes from the added coconut and nuts, not from eggs, oils, or can't beat that!  

The foundation for this recipe is a box of German chocolate cake mix and two cups of pumpkin.  That's right...pumpkin!

You could just stop after combining the cake mix and pumpkin and just bake that.  However, I wanted to make my muffins a tad bit more special, so I added a few more mix-ins - coconut, milk chocolate chips, and chopped pecans.

Spoon the thick batter into muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Serve as muffins or top with German chocolate frosting for a delicious cupcake!

When Cookie Bandit saw me making these, he wrinkled his nose.  He wasn't so sure about the pumpkin. 
But then he smelled them cooking and saw me taking a big bite out of one.  He came over and took a little bit himself.  The next thing I know, he's eaten my entire muffin and is making his way towards the pan for more!  Suffice it to say, this recipe is definitely Cookie Bandit approved.

German Chocolate Muffins
18.25 oz. German chocolate cake mix
2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 cup coconut flakes (optional)

Combine all ingredients and spoon into muffin tins.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Makes 18.

Nutrition per muffin (calculated with Betty Crocker's Super Moist German chocolate cake mix): 173 calories, 5g fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 1mg cholesterol, 245mg sodium, 30g carbs, 2g fiber, 16g sugar, 2g protein, 85% vit. A, 2% vit. C, 4% calcium, 7% iron.

Made without the chocolate chips, chopped pecans, or coconut flakes (and assuming it only makes 12 muffins without the added ingredients), the nutritional information amounts to 174 calories, 2g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0g cholesterol, 352mg sodium, 38g carbs, 2g fiber, 19g sugar, 2g protein, 127% vit. A, 3% vit. C, 5% calcium, 9% iron.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

quick and easy christmas: winner revealed!

Thanks so much to all of the comments and entries for Gooseberry Patch's new cookbook, Quick and Easy Christmas (winner of the cookbook announced below).  I get a kick out of reading all of them and only wish I had time to respond to them all.  I wish every post got as much comment love as these Gooseberry giveaway posts! :) 

As promised, I tallied up all of the results to determine which of my featured recipes got the most votes.  I think the men in your life are going to be happy... :-)

The winner...Man Bars!

These are a perfect treat to put in Christmas tins or to serve to your favorite man (or woman!) any time of year!  They are best when warm (we pop ours in the microwave for a few seconds before eating), and they taste great with coffee.  Someday, I'm going to go all out and cover them with chocolate frosting and roasted marshmallows!

The base of this recipe is graham cracker crumbs, not flour!  Now, that doesn't mean that it's gluten-free.  But, using graham cracker crumbs gives it a unique flavor that you won't find in other bar cookies.

Add chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, walnuts, and vanilla.  Mix it well and press it into a greased 8x8 pan.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Before serving, roll these beauties in powdered sugar!

Man Bars
from Gooseberry Patch's Quick and Easy Christmas
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 t. vanilla
powdered sugar

Mix together all ingredients except powdered sugar.  Press into a well-greased 8"x8" baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.  Cut into small squares and roll in powdered sugar before serving.  Makes about 1 1/2 dozen.

And now...the winner of Quick and Easy Christmas...

ShellyRaeWood!  ShellyRae was picked using the random number generator at  She said, "Oh my family would go ga-ga for that Turkey and Cranberries.  Definitely gets my vote! :)  ShellyRae, I'm so excited that you get to try out the turkey recipe - it makes me go "ga-ga" too!

Everyone else, be sure to look for Quick and Easy Christmas at a local retailer soon or pre-order your copy from today!

Monday, May 9, 2011

blueberry banana muffins

I heart my mom...don't you?  I didn't get to spend Mother's Day with her, but I did think about her a lot and thank the Lord for her presence in my life.  My husband thanked God for her, too...after all, she's the one who taught me how to cook.  Someday, when we live closer, I'll make her a special breakfast for Mother's Day.  Until then, I'll send her pictures of a special breakfast for Mother's Day.

"Hey Mom!  You out there?  This is a special breakfast, just for you! weren't here.  So I ate it.  Sorry 'bout that!  Happy Mother's Day!  
Love, Kristin. :-)"

These muffins are excellent.  The banana gives them incredible moistness, and the buttermilk adds a whole new depth of flavor.  Mom, you would have loved them.

Start with two very ripe bananas.  Mine are almost too ripe...almost.

In another bowl, combine the sugar and butter.

Then, throw in the other wet ingredients - the bananas, buttermilk, egg, etc. 

Add the dry ingredients and mix well.  Then add a cup of blueberries (if you use frozen blueberries, don't thaw first.)

Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins.  You want each muffin tin to be about 2/3 full.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Enjoy!

Blueberry Banana Muffins
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 t. vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
1-2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs, bananas, buttermilk and vanilla, and mix well.  Add the dry ingredients, mixing until well combined. Fold in the blueberries gently with a spoon.  Pour batter into greased muffin tins so that each is 2/3 full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Makes approximately 18 muffins.

Nutrition: 180 calories, 6g fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 37mg cholesterol, 117mg sodium, 30g carbs, 1g fiber, 19g sugar, 2g protein, 4% vit. A, 2% vit. C, 3% calcium, 4% iron.

Mother's Day Brunch

What did you make for Mother's Day brunch?  Link it up here!

Friday, May 6, 2011

sweet ham steaks

We love ham and enjoy it on more occasions than just Easter.  Because there are just two of us, we never actually buy a whole ham...too many leftovers!  Instead, I opt for ham steaks.  They are inexpensive and each produces 4 servings, which is enough for us to get 2 meals out of it.

Ham steaks really just need to be heated up, but I enjoy giving them a special touch.  I place one or two ham steaks in a small baking pan.  I sprinkled 1/3 cup brown sugar over the top and then poured a small can (6 ounces) of pineapple juice over that.  Then, I covered the pan with foil and baked at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes (or until heated through).

It's quick, easy, and requires few ingredients - the perfect dinner when served alongside a baked potato and salad!  The pineapple juice and brown sugar form a delicious marinade that brings out the best flavors in the ham.  I encourage you to take advantage of all of the ham steaks on sale now that Easter is over and give this method a try.  It's delicious!

Sweet Ham Steaks
1 lb. ham steak
1/3 cup brown sugar
6 oz. pineapple juice

Place ham steak in a small baking dish.  Sprinkle brown sugar over the top; pour on pineapple juice.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until heated through.  Serves 4.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

caramelized pecans

You've probably seen me mention that I can't make salads.  I just can't.  For as long as I can remember, I've been completely inept at salad making...until now, that is.

I decided that this was the year to change things, so I've been experimenting in the salad realm.  These pictures are of the salad I made for our Easter dinner.  It featured spinach, blue cheese, bacon, blueberries...yum!  One of my favorite additions to this salad were the caramelized pecans.

We like putting nuts on salad, and it's even more special when they have a sweetness to them.  The best part...they are easy to make.  All you do is stir brown sugar, butter, and pecans in a skillet for about 3 minutes until caramelized.  That's it!

Then, you just set the pecans out to cool on waxed paper before adding them to your salad.  Total time from start to finish: 5 minutes.  Total ingredients: 3.  Total dishes to wash: 1.  I love it!

These pecans have a very subtle sweetness to them.  If you want something a bit more overpowering, you could always reduce the amount of pecans that you use (or increase the butter and brown sugar).  Next time I make them, I plan on using pecan halves and roasting them in the oven for a few minutes before caramelizing them.  I have a feeling that these will be a regular feature in our salads.

Caramelized Pecans
1 T. butter
1/2 cup pecans
1 T. brown sugar

Melt butter in skillet over low heat; add pecans and brown sugar.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes or until caramelized.  Cool on wax paper before serving.
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