Soft Pumpkin Cookies

One of the best things about fall is that everything turns pumpkin flavored. I even saw pumpkin bagels at the store the other night! Nothing seems to be off limits.

I like to stick to the more traditional foods when it comes to adding pumpkin, and these cookies make a great fall treat. They are perfect to add some frosting and some orange sprinkles to, and send to school with your kids. Or, maybe you want a special treat for your pumpkin carving night. I really like to have these cookies on hand while we’re getting ready for trick-or-treating. They make putting costumes on a bit more festive, in my opinion.

For those with a serious sweet tooth, you can add chocolate chips or small candies to the batter, or you can top the cookies with extra sprinkles. No matter what your choice, you are sure to love the autumn cookies.

Soft Pumpkin Cookies

Ingredients:

2/3 cups white sugar
2/3 cups brown sugar
3/4 cups butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease your cookie sheet.

In a mixer, blend the sugars and butter until fluffy. Then add the vanilla, pumpkin, and egg. Beat the mixture really well, about three minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Be sure that everything is incorporated well. Then, slowly add your flour mixture to your pumpkin mixture. Mix the ingredients until they are combined.

Using a small spoon, measure out 1/2 inch dough balls and place them on your cookie sheet. They should be about three inches apart to allow for spreading. Baking the cookies for about 10-12 minutes, and cool them on a wire rack.

Enjoy with a cinnamon spiced hot chocolate or a chai tea!

Snickerdoodles

These cookies a great treat during this the fall. Actually, just about anything with cinnamon will remind me of leaves changes, crisp air, and cozy sweaters. But these cookies are some of my favorite.

Snickerdoodles are actually one of the least popular cookie flavors, which I find upsetting. I’m a huge fan of cinnamon anything: cinnamon rolls, in oatmeal, on toast, donuts… Cinnamon goes great with anything sweet. It tastes great in hot chocolate, too!

I’m looking forward to my first batch of the season, and I’m sure my family is, too. My brother, especially, loves these cookies, and since I moved away, I’ve had to resort to mailing them home in a care package. They actually travel really well, and he says they don’t taste stale or dry at all. I just make sure that the bag I use is sealed properly, and I mush out all of the air.

Here is the high-altitude recipe that I use these days:

Snickerdoodles

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
For the coating: 1/2 cup white sugar and 3 tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease your cookie sheet.

In a mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until it’s fluffy. Then, add the egg. Beat for one minute. Slowly add the flour, next, and be sure that you don’t have any clumps. Add the baking soda. Mix for two minutes. The dough should be really thick.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon for your topping.

After that, use a teaspoon to measure out one inch balls. Roll them in your hands until they are a smooth and round. Drop the cookie into the topping, and swirl the dough around until it is fully coated. Put it on your cookie sheet, and repeat until you’ve run out of dough.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges start to brown just slightly. For softer cookies, use margarine instead of butter, and bake for 7-9 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack, and enjoy!

Zucchini Bread

With fall coming, vegetable filled breads are becoming very popular. Things like pumpkin, carrot, and zucchini are all being baked into delicious loaves, and the added cinnamon, cloves, or all spice make your whole house smell amazing.

I have a special place in my heart for zucchini bread. It definitely reminds me of home during the fall. We always had a loaf or batch of muffins during that time of year, and I loved grabbing some on my way to school for an easy breakfast. I also like the idea of adding a little nutrition to cake. Like, if it’s healthy, I can completely justify eating it for an entire meal, and I can just wash it all down with some cold milk. Yum!

So add a little health to your cake, and enjoy!

Autumn Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degree, and grease your bread pans.

To grate the zucchini, be sure to use the smallest holes on your grater, and keep the skin on. It will add some color and texture to your bread.

Using a mixer, beat together the zucchini, vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs. Then add the vanilla, and mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. You want them to be mixed really well.

Slowly add your flour mixture to the zucchini mixture. You want to mix it just until it is combined. If you over mix, you could end up with a tough bread, which won’t be that great. Pour the batter into your bread pan. If you would like, top the batter with the walnuts. You can also use pecans or other similar nuts if you prefer.

If you’re making loaves, it should take 55-60 minutes. Test with a toothpick to be sure. However, if you’re baking in a muffin pan, it should take between 18-22 minutes. Again, you can test with a toothpick to see if they’re done.

Let cool on a wire rack.

For later eating, add a little butter to the top of the bread, and microwave for about 25 seconds. It will be the best thing you eat all day!

Enjoy!

Rice Crispy Treats

In all honesty, this is one of the few recipes that I haven’t had to alter to make it taste amazing at a high altitude. I love making these for my family, and my brother is a huge fan of them. He loves when I substitute in different kinds of cereal instead of using the regular Rice Krispies. Cocoa Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles, Fruit Loops, Cheerios, Captain Crunch, and just about any kind of cereal you can think of can be substituted in, and they taste amazing. There is just something so yummy about marshmallows and cereal. Kids and adults love them, and they are super easy to make.

Here is the recipe that I like to use:

Rice Crispy Treats

Ingredients:

6 cups of puffed rice cereal
1 bag of large marshmallows
2 tbsp. butter or margarine

(Seriously. That’s all the ingredients you need!)

Directions:

First, prepare your pan. Spray a large cake pan with non-stick spray. I like to use the 12 by 9 inch pans. Then, pour your cereal into the pan. Set it aside.

In a large pot, combine the marshmallows and butter. I like to use a medium heat so that I don’t accidentally burn the sugar. It will take a few minutes to completely melt everything. Make sure all the lumps have disappeared. Then, quickly pour the marshmallow goo all over the cereal. If you spread it out as you pour, it will make things easier.

Then, using a large plastic spoon, mix the cereal and marshmallow until everything is evenly coated. It may get a little messy, so be careful. Then, press the mixture into the pan to form a flat, even layer. Be sure that you cover the entire pan. If you have trouble with the mix sticking to your fingers, run your hands under some cold water. The moisture on your hands will keep any marshmallow from sticking to you. If you would like to add any toppings, like sprinkles, add them now. Be sure to press them into the top of the mix. You can also drizzle them with chocolate or caramel sauces.

Place the pan in the refrigerator to set. It should only take about thirty minutes. Cut into squares, and serve. Depending on the size you choose, it should make about 20 servings.

If you would like to dip them in chocolate, you should wait until they are set. Then, dip the bottoms into liquid chocolate, shake off the excess, and allow to cool again.

Enjoy!

French Bread

In my opinion, a pasta sauce is only as good as the bread used to dip in it. And, while the grocery store often has some really great bread in the bakery, I really love spending my morning making fresh bread loaves. It’s so relaxing to knead the dough, and there is nothing quite like the smell that takes over your house while it’s baking.

I actually just recently started making breads, so I won’t claim to be an expert. However, I do have a fool proof recipe that even beginners can complete pretty easily. It creates long loaves of bread, and it is super gooey, with a really great crust. Add a little butter, dip it in some sauce, or even eat it plain. It’s delicious… I promise!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups flour

In a large bowl, mix the water and yeast until it becomes foamy. Then add the honey, oil, and salt. Mix well. Finally, add your flour. It should become a very thick batter. Pour it out onto a floured surface and knead the dough. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour until it no longer sticks to your hands or surfaces. Knead for about 8-10 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled, large bowl. Swirl the dough around to coat it in the oil. Place plastic wrap or a damp cloth over the bowl to prevent any stale crusts that might form on your dough.

Allow the dough to rise for an hour.

Pull out the dough, and cut it into two pieces. Form the pieces into long, baguette shaped pieces. Place on a cookie sheet, and allow it to rise for another 45 minutes. Then, using a serrated knife, cut diagonal slices into bread, about 1/4 inch deep. Bake at 400 degree for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. For a crispier crust, brush an egg wash over the tops of the loaves.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Every kid on the planet loves a good chocolate chip cookie. So every mom should know how to make them. They don’t have to make them from scratch, but being able to put the dough on a pan, bake it, and serve is a must-have skill when there are kids in the house.

That being said, I’m pretty proud of my chocolate chip cookies. My husband goes crazy for them, and they are so easy to make. I always have the ingredients on hand just in case I get a craving for them. The best is to eat them straight out of the oven, but even days after they taste pretty awesome if you nuke them in the microwave. Room temp is good, too. Seriously. These cookies are just that awesome.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a mixer, beat together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs. Beat for one minute. Then add the flour mixture. Be sure that all ingredients are well-incorporated. Then add the chocolate chips. Your dough should be really thick. To test the consistency, scoop out a small ball with a spoon. If it holds its shape really well, your dough should be thick enough. Add more flour if the dough isn’t the right consistency.

Spoon 1 inch rounds onto a baking sheet, and leave about three inches between each cookie to allow for spreading. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.

If you bake your first batch, and the cookies come out looking like really flat puddles, your butter was too warm and loose. Refrigerate your dough for about twenty minutes and try again. This should solidify the fats in your dough to keep the cookies thicker.

Also, if you prefer softer cookies, use margarine instead of butter. It has less water in it, so less moisture evaporates, leaving you with a much softer cookie.

I hope you enjoy!

Soft Pretzels

My husband loves going to the movie theater for one reason: the soft pretzels. When we were first married, we used to go to the movies all the time. It got to the point that the people who worked at the concession stand would recognize him and start getting his pretzels ready.

However, since we’ve had a child, we haven’t really been to the movies. It’s just too hard to try to keep a toddler quiet and sitting still for such a long time. Plus, my kid doesn’t really like watching a screen, even if it is cartoons, so she isn’t very interested in the whole experience.

So I thought I’d bring a little bit of the theater to him. I tried several recipes, and I altered them to match my husband’s preferences. My recipe is super soft, with a slightly crispy crust. I like to add salt on top, too. They come out super fluffy, and they kind of lose their holes because the dough gets so thick. They are amazing, though. For a really awesome snack, dip them in mustard, nacho cheese, or even peanut butter!

Movie Theater Soft Pretzels

Ingredients:

1 packet active dry yeast
1 tsp white sugar
3/4 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
Salt for topping

Directions:

Preheat the over to 325 degrees. Use non-stick spray on a cookie sheet and set aside.

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and teaspoon of sugar in the warm water. It should look a little foamy.

Then, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the vegetable oil and yeast mixture, and combine the ingredients thoroughly. Sprinkle a little extra flour on a flat surface, and knead the dough. It should take about 8-10 minutes to make sure the dough is well-incorporated and has a smooth texture. Spray some non-stick spray in a large, clean bowl, and set your dough inside to rise. Covering the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth towel can help keep your dough from forming a stale crust on the outside. Let the dough rise for about an hour.

Once your dough has risen, put it on a flat surface and cut into about 8 pieces. Mix the baking soda into the hot water, and keep it close by. Roll each piece into a long rope (about 10 inches long), and form it into a pretzel shape. Dip it into the baking soda mixture, making sure that you soak it well (about three seconds). Then, place it on the pan. Add salt if you prefer. Once you have all your pretzels shaped and dipped, put them in the oven. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Cake

There is nothing quite like an amazing piece of chocolate cake with an ice, cold glass of milk to make even the worst day seem better. I always asked for chocolate cake on my birthdays, and it’s still my favorite. My husband loves it, too, and I love making a triple chocolate cake every year for him. I had to adjust the recipe quite a bit when we moved to a high-altitude location, though, but I’ve finally got it mastered. I use this cake recipe, put chocolate pudding in the center, frost it with chocolate frosting, and then sprinkle chocolate shavings around the edges. We can usually only eat a small piece at a time because it’s so rich, but it tastes so amazing!

I also love to make this recipe into cupcakes for bake sales. His coworkers are always raising money for the deployed soldiers, and they always ask me to help out. I like to counterbalance the flavor with a vanilla frosting, though, and I always add red, white, and blue sprinkles to make them look pretty.

Here is my high altitude chocolate cake recipe:

Ingredients:

2 cups white sugar
2 cups cake flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder (I like to use Hershey’s)
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling hot water

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degree. Use non-stick spray on your pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Be sure that all of the ingredients are mixed thoroughly. Set this aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Then, add the wet ingredients to your flour mixture. Using an electric mixer, beat ingredients together for three minutes. Then add your boiling water. It’s key for the water to be really hot so that the cocoa powder will combine more easily with the other ingredients.

Your batter will be really thin. If it’s not, add a bit more milk. Pour your batter into the pans, and place them in the oven. Cakes should bake for 33-38 minutes, while cupcakes should be done between 18-22 minutes. To check, dip a toothpick into the center of a cake. If it comes out clean, your cake is ready.

Cool on a wire rack, and cool completely before frosting. Enjoy!

Vanilla Cupcakes

Cupcakes are a great treat for birthdays, graduations, retirements, and even weddings! They are the most popular baked good in today’s world, and it’s obvious to see why. You can be so creative with them, and it’s easy to find a cupcake decoration that fits any personality.

Making cupcakes at home is a great activity to do with your kids, as well. They may not be able to crack the eggs or use the electric mixer, but they can help scoop flour, spoon batter into the paper cups, and put the sprinkles on top. And they can definitely lick the spoon with the leftover batter. (That’s the best part, am I right?)

Here is a great recipe to use if you’re living in a high-altitude location. The batter should be really thick, so don’t be afraid to add a little extra flour if it’s too runny. However, I’ve never had any problems with this recipe. It comes out with a slightly caramelized top (from the sugar), and it’s really fluffy inside. I hope you like it!

Ingredients:

2 cups cake flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks of butter, cut into small cubes
4 eggs
1 cup cold milk
2 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and prepare your cupcake tray with either non-stick spray or cupcake wrappers.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Then, add the butter, and mix until the butter is thoroughly coated with the dry ingredients. It may not look pretty, but I promise this is right.

Then, in a separate bowl, use a whisk to combine the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, add the liquid to the dry ingredients in three or four parts. Slow is key. You want everything to be completely mixed, but you don’t want to over-mix the batter. Once combined, spoon the batter into your cupcake tray. An ice cream scooper is a really great tool for this. Fill each cup about 3/4 of the way full. Place the tray in the oven.

Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the batter is completely cooked. You can use the toothpick to make sure the cupcakes are done. Cool on a wire rack, and frost before enjoying.

This recipe yields about 2 dozen cupcakes.

Pumpkin Bread

With the fall season coming up, it’s only fitting to share something that’s “pumpkin” flavored. Autumn brings pumpkin everything along with it, and I, for one, am so excited to have that scent filling my home. It makes everything seem so cozy and welcoming, and I always splurge on extra pumpkin spice or cinnamon candles during the holiday season. They are my favorite!

This is definitely a high-altitude recipe, and I’ve made it more times than I can count. It took me several tries to get it right. I find that the bread turns out much more moist if you make it in small loafs or even in a cupcake pan. However, making a single, large loaf can turn out well. Just keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t over cook and dry out.

I hope you enjoy!

Autumn Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

3/4 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 (15 oz) cans of pumpkin puree
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

Directions:

First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease the pan you would like to use.

In a large bowl, combine oil, eggs, sugars, and salt. Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Then add the nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin puree, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Be sure that the ingredients are mixed very well. Then, add the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Using your electric mixer, combine the ingredients. Pour your batter into the desired baking dish, and put in the oven. For large loafs, bake for 60 minutes. Cupcake-sized tins should bake for 25-30 minutes.

To check the doneness of the bread, put a toothpick into the center of the loaf. If it comes out clean, then it’s ready. If you don’t have a toothpick, simply touch the top of the loaf. If the center dents, then rises back to it’s original shape, the bread is done.

Cool on a wire rack and store in the refrigerator.

When serving, nuke it in the microwave for about 20 seconds and spread with a little honey butter. Enjoy!