Category Archives: Fruit

pumpkin oatmeal cookies with cranberries

One more week left of classes and then finals come into view. I cannot even express how truly happy I am this semester is almost complete, like every other semester I’ve had. A fellow schoolmate put this semester into a perfect analogy: “It’s like spending all semester climbing up Mount Everest. Then, next Friday, we all fall off and have to start over again.”

The close of the semester means it’s getting quite chilly outside. Every year I seem to forget about how numb my hand gets when outside of my coat pocket or how tingly my face is when walking into the bitter wind. But, here it is again. And it’s not even super cold yet… about mid-30s here. That being said, I’ll take the cold if I can have my holiday baking. I actually baked this cookies back in the fall, so the flavors were perfect then. I’m hoping that they carry over into the winter well. It used to be that I couldn’t cook fast enough to get new recipes on here. Now I lack motivation to write the posts and have long backlog of recipes.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and White Chocolate

Makes about 3 dozen


2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
  dash of allspice
½ tsp. salt
1 c. butter, room temperature
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
1 ½ c. old-fashioned oats
1 c. white chocolate chips
1 ¼ c. dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone sheets

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

In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add in egg, vanilla, and pumpkin and combine. Slowly add in dry ingredients just until mixed. Mix in oats. With a wooden spoon, fold in chocolate chips and cranberries.

Drop in Rounded 1-tbsp. scoops onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden. Cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Adapted, slightly from Annie’s Eats


lemon meringue pie cupcakes

School is officially in full swing. This week is the first round of exams. That means I’m crunched for time on this post, so my apologies for the brevity.

I made these cupcakes a few weeks ago and have been meaning to post this recipe ever since. But, when you’re finished with homework (like I wish I was now) or you have too much to study for, writing up a recipe is one of the last things on your mind.

These cupcakes? Absolutely delicious. And cute, if I may say so myself. There’s a tiny bit of lemon curd hidden underneath the meringue that will surprise you every time you eat one (my favorite part!). Not to mention the meringue is a nice contrast to normal and everyday cupcake frostings.

Lemon Meringue Pie Cupcakes

Makes 15 Cupcakes

4 eggs
½ cup butter (1 stick)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
¼ c. + 2 tbsp. lemon curd, divided
¾ c. + 2/3 c. granulated sugar, divided
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  powdered sugar, for dusting

Separate eggs. Allow egg whites, yolks, and butter to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cupcake tin with 15 paper liners. In a small bowl, stir flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. In a separate small bowl, whisk together milk and ¼ c. lemon curd.

In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add ¾ c. granulated sugar and continue beating until combined. Add vanilla extract and egg yolks. Add flour in thirds and milk mixture in halves alternately, so that you start and end with flour additions. Beat only until combined.

Separate batter evenly into cupcake tins. Smooth out the top. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden and the top springs back.

Meanwhile, add egg whites and cream of tartar to a separate bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Slowly add in remaining 2/3 c. granulated sugar, about 1 tbsp. at a time, and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Place in a pastry bag or re-sealable bag.

Add remaining 2 tbsp. lemon curd in a medium re-sealable bag. Cut off the tip of the bag.

Once cupcakes have are removed from the oven. Evenly pipe the lemon curd onto the cupcakes. Pipe meringue onto the tops of the cupcakes. Bake for 7 more minutes until meringue is browned. Cool in tins over wire racks for 5 minutes.

Remove cupcakes and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, before serving.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications: Cupcakes

cherry cream cheese coffee cake

I think the bakery section of the supermarket has its own gravitational force. Somehow I always end up staring at all the baked goods, longing after what I know I shouldn’t have.  The gooey butter cake. The fresh baked loaves of bread. The cherry cream cheese coffee cake.

So, instead of spending an outrageous amount of money on something I could just as easily make myself, I decided to make that coffee cake myself. On the plus side, I actually know what’s going into this one, unlike the store-bought kind.

Enjoy the gooey goodness of this breakfast classic!

Cherry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Adapted from Taste of Home
Makes 10 Servings

For the cake:

2 ¼ c. all purpose flour
¾ c. granulated sugar
¾ cold unsalted butter, cubed
½ tsp. baking power
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
¾ c. sour cream
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

For the filling:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. granulated sugar, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten

1 ¼ lb. dark sweet cherries, pitted
¼ c. water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. cornstarch
(substitute cherries, water, lemon juice, cornstarch, and ½ c. sugar for 1 21-oz. can pre-made cherry pie filling)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium saucepan, combine cherries, water, lemon juice, cornstarch, and ½ c. sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter until pea-sized pieces are formed and consistent. Set ¾ c. of this mixture aside. Mix in baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the large portion. Add egg, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Mix until well-combined. Press cake mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Push 1 inch up the sides. Make sure all portions are even.

With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add sugar and beat for 1 minute. Add egg and beat until combined. Spread this mixture over the bottom of the crust in the pan. Make sure this is in an even layer. Dollop cherry mixture around the top of the cream cheese mixture, being sure not to mix the two layers. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 c. flour, sugar, and butter mixture over the top.

Bake for 50-60 minutes in the preheated oven, until center is set. Cool on a wire rack. Remove sides of pan. Store in the refrigerator.

vanilla banana trifle

We hardly ever have real desserts sitting around the house. Sure, I bake the occasional cookie or cupcake. But, to me, those are more snacks than anything else… perhaps a “lunch dessert”. Real desserts? Those are the pies, the layer cakes… anything along those lines. A trifle? Somewhere in the middle I suppose. Halfway between a lunch dessert and a dinner dessert. A late-lunch, early-dinner dessert.

I went to a family reunion a week or so ago; my aunt made a banana pudding-type dessert that was sooo good. She told me she had put whipped cream into the pudding. So, I decided to try and make that into a trifle, and man, did it turn out yummy. Definitely a blast from the past.

So, here it is, the vanilla banana trifle.

Vanilla Banana Trifle

Makes 10 Servings


1 11-oz. box vanilla wafers
1 12-oz. container frozen whipped topping, like Cool Whip, thawed
1 large box instant vanilla pudding
5 bananas, peeled and sliced
3 cups cold milk

In a large bowl, add pudding mix and cold milk. Whisk together for three minutes. Fold in 1 cup of whipped topping. Set aside.

In the bottom of a trifle dish, make two layers of vanilla wafers. Pour 1/3 of pudding mixture on top. Smooth with a rubber spatula. Make 2 layers of bananas on top (one banana made one layer for me). Add ½ of remaining whipped topping. Smooth with a rubber spatula.

Repeat with two more layers of vanilla wafers, another 1/3rd of pudding mixture, two layers of bananas, and remaining whipped topping. Add another two layers of vanilla wafers and the remaining pudding mixture on top.

Feel free to make whatever design you want on top. I put the extra banana slice around the outside, a ring of remaining vanilla wafers inside of that, and a dollop of whipped topping in the center.

Cool in the refrigerator for about 2 hours, or until ready to serve (don’t wait too long or your bananas will turn colors).

peanut butter banana smoothie

If there is one fruit on this planet that I love, it’s bananas (but, I will say bananas are far behind coconut on my fruit loves). Not to mention I could eat peanut butter on just about anything. Anyway, I’ve been feeling pretty hungry during the day recently (probably because I have been putting off eating lunch until about two then eating a mega light dinner). So, this smoothie was a perfect tide-me-over until lunchtime rolled around. And it’s super fast to whip together.

I used nonfat organic yogurt, 2 % milk, Truvia in place of sugar, reduced fat peanut butter, and low fat ReddiWip in my rendition of this smoothie, but I’m not going to hold anyone else accountable to the same. The truth is, I’ve been spending a little too much time eating out recently. Add to that the lack of guilt I feel during vacations, and the scale will scream out in anger (and I will, too).

So, what better way to cut down on all the calories than to steal low fat things from my parents. Anyway, like I said, use full fat if you want. If not, you can follow my recommendations above for reduced calories and fat.


Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Makes 1 Serving


1 banana, peeled and sliced
½ c. vanilla yogurt
1/3 c. milk
2 tbsp. French vanilla powdered non-dairy creamer
1 tbsp. sugar (I used Truvia)
3 tbsp. peanut butter
15 Reese’s pieces, divided
3 to 5 ice cubes
Reddi Wip

In a small glass, mix creamer, sugar, and milk until dissolved. Add to blender along with banana, yogurt, peanut butter, 10 Reese’s pieces, and ice cubes. Blend until smooth.

In a small bag, smash 5 remaining Reese’s pieces.

Add banana smoothie to a tall glass. Top with Reddi Wip. Sprinkle pulverized Reese’s pieces.

key lime cupcakes

For me, there is no dessert out there that epitomizes summer more than key lime pie. That’s probably because I only ever eat key lime pie when I’m vacationing in Florida during the summer. My cravings have been growing for a delicious slice of citrusy heaven for almost four years. Now, obviously that is much too long to be starved of creamy goodness. So, when I saw a recipe for orange creamsicle cupcakes, my cravings came raging forward and I knew I had to tweak the orange out to make key lime cupcakes.

Now, boxed cake mixes and I don’t have a friendly history together. Unless it’s scratch-made, I feel like I’m cheating myself out of something better. But, don’t let that be the only reason you stray away from this recipe. You’ll hardly even notice that Betty Crocker helped you out a bit. It will be our little secret.

Key Lime Cupcakes

Print this recipe

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications: Cupcakes, 2011
Makes 27 Cupcakes

1 4-oz. box lime gelatin
1 box 2-layer white cake mix
1 4-serving box cheesecake flavored pudding and instant pie filling mix
4 eggs
1/3 c. oil
1 1/4 c. plus 1 tbsp. key lime juice, divided
½1/2 c. butter
8 oz. cream cheese
6 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. lime zest
3 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
green food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 27 2-1/2 inch cupcake cups with paper liners.

Remove 2 tsp. lime gelatin from package and set aside for the frosting. In a mixing bowl, combine remaining gelatin, white cake mix, cheesecake pudding mix, eggs, oil, 1 1/4 c. key lime juice, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Divide evenly into prepared cupcake tins. The cups should be about 2/3 full. Smooth out the tops of each.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean (or with moist crumbs). Cool in tins on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove from tins to wire racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat butter and cream cheese together. Add 2 tsp. vanilla extract. Slowly add in powdered sugar. Remove 1/4th of the mixture to a separate bowl and add the remaining 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. To the remaining mixture, add 2 tsp. lime gelatin (set aside previously), 1 tbsp. key lime juice, and 1 tsp. lime zest. Mix well. Add green food coloring until the desired color is reached (I used green gel-paste food color and it took about 3 tiny drops).

Add each frosting mixture to separate piping bags (I just used large Ziploc bags). To the cooled cupcakes, pipe green frosting to cover the top. To the center of each, pipe a small dot of the white vanilla frosting.

apple and brown butter jalousie

To me, there is nothing better than a warm breakfast on a lazy, rainy day. So, I made sure I woke up extra early this morning to make a favorite breakfast of mine: apple and brown butter jalousie. I love jalousies. They remind me of a giant and grown-up version of the toaster strudels that I used to love and still enjoy.

On very rare occasions do my breakfasts ever surpass a protein bar or cereal. Christmas and Easter usually entail my mom’s famous breakfast casserole. About once every year my mom decides to make monkey bread as a special treat. But, other than that, my a.m. meal consists of a protein bar or cereal.

But, you see, company is here and I would feel quite guilty serving protein bars and powdered doughnuts from a bag for breakfast. So, I figure, what a good idea to spruce it up a bit and make a homemade breakfast for the entire family.

Apple and Brown Butter Jalousie

Print this recipe

Adapted, barely, from The Best of Fine Cooking: Breakfast
Makes 6 Servings

4 medium Granny Smith apples
¼ c. packed brown sugar
¼ c. granulated sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
dash of nutmeg
¼ c. butter
1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds removed
1 egg
flour, for dusting
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
1 tsp. turbinado or granulated sugar

Peel and core apples. Cut into 1/4-inch strips. Place in a large bowl with brown sugar, ¼ c. granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Toss until well combined.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt and brown butter. Butter is browned when the solids turn a golden brown color. Remove skillet from heat. Add vanilla seeds and the vanilla bean. Mix well. Carefully add the apple mixture. Return to heat. Mix so that all apples are evenly coated with butter. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until apples are softened and liquid has turned into a syrup consistency. Transfer to a baking sheet to cool completely.

Beat egg with 1 tbsp. water or milk to form an egg wash. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a floured surface, unfold puff pastry. Pinch together the seams. Roll into a 12”x14” rectangle. Cut the pastry in half to form two 6”x14” rectangles. Carefully transfer one of the rectangles to the lined baking sheet.

Brush a one-inch border of egg wash around the perimeter of the rectangle. Add cooled apple slices to the center of the pastry in a herringbone pattern. If needed, make a second row of apple slices stacked on top of the first. If any syrup remains in the baking dish, add 2-3 tbsp. on top of the layered apples. If no juices remain, do not worry about it.

Lightly flour the top of the second puff pastry rectangle. Fold it over onto itself lengthwise, but do not crease it. Cut ¼-inch cuts an inch apart. Do not cut all the way to the edge. These are just vents to release steam during the baking process.

Without unfolding the pastry, transfer to the top of the apple-lined pastry. Make sure the edges are lined up. Unfold and press together the edges. With a fork, lightly crimp around all sides. Transfer to a refrigerator to cool for 15 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once puff pastry has cooled, brush the top with the remaining egg wash. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. turbinado or granulated sugar. Bake for 15 minutes on the lowest rack. Rotate baking sheet. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, until golden brown on top and lightly browned on the bottom. Remove to a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serve with lightly whipped cream, vanilla bean ice cream, or mascarpone cheese.