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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

How can it possibly be the last day of September already??  I feel like fall just started and its already going to be October?  I just turned off the air conditioner this past weekend. 

I've been meaning to get this recipe posted all week and time has just not cooperated.  We laid new flooring in our house this past weekend and instead of helping all too much, I decided to bake for the help.  These cinnamon roll cupcakes are ridiculously good... think cinnamon roll without the need for a fork.  They are still a little messy - even with the wrappers, but in a good way.  While these are perfect as a dessert, they also would make an indulgent treat for a fall brunch - I mean they do contain fruit so that means you can eat it for breakfast right?

Apple Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes
Adapted from Stephani Pollack from Cupcake Project via Paula Deen

2 cups milk
1 packet active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2 eggs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 cups finely chopped apples (I used Golden Delicious apples)

In a small saucepan, heat milk to about 110 degrees.  Add yeast and sugar to bowl of a stand mixer and pour in the milk, stir to dissolve.  Add salt and two cups of flour and beat for two minutes.  Beat in eggs and butter.  Stir in the remaining flour half a cup at a time, beating well after each addition.  Switch to dough hook and knead about five minutes, until smooth and elastic.  Spray a large deep bowl with cooking spray, shape dough into a ball, put it in the bowl, turn once to coat and cover it with a clean towel.  Set in a warm place and allow to rise for about 40 minutes or until doubled in volume.

Meanwhile make the filling by combining the sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and apples in a small bowl.  Melt remaining butter in a small dish. 

Dust counter top with flour and roll out dough into a long rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.  Brush with about half of the melted butter.  Top with the apple mixture, sprinkle evenly over the dough, leaving about an inch empty on all sides.
Line cupcake pans with 24 liners.  Roll dough into a log beginning on the long side of the rectangle.  Trim off both ends to remove the uneven part that doesn't have any filling.  Slice the log into approximately 24 even pieces.  Place each piece in a cupcake liner, folding the ends together to make a “C” shape. The pieces should come to about the top of the liners.  Cover the cupcake tins with a clean towel and set in a warm place to rise for another 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Brush the tops of the cupcakes with remaining melted butter.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops are golden.

1 cup powdered sugar
About 2 tablespoons milk

In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and milk until combined.  Start with one tablespoon of milk and add more as necessary until you have a glaze that is thick but runs easily off the spoon.  Drizzle over warm cupcakes and serve.  Store in an airtight container and reheat leftover cupcakes in the microwave for about 20 seconds before serving.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Soft and Thick Sugar Cookies

These sugar cookies are similar to the Lofthouse sugar cookies you get at the grocery store.  They start out with a box of cake mix - which isnt usually on my grocery list but I happened to have a box in the pantry from a while back so I figured I would try them.  The recipe said to make sure you use the kind with pudding in the mix as that helps with the softness.  They turned out really, really good.  I loved the texture of these - they are so soft - and they stay that way for several days too. 

The frosting on the storebought version of these cookies is never great in my opinion, so using a homemade buttercream frosting adds a special touch.  You can decorate these however you want - they would be really cute for Halloween if you tinted the frosting orange and used some black sprinkles or nonpareils. 

Soft and Thick Sugar Cookies
Recipe adapted from Noshings

1 18 oz box white cake mix with pudding in the mix
2/3 cup flour
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
2 T sour cream (I used reduced fat)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together cake mix and flour.  Add eggs, oil and sour cream and mix on medium speed until incorporated.  Batter will be fairly stiff.  Use a cookie scoop or roll into approximately one inch balls and bake on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.  This will help keep the bottoms of the cookies from browning.  Use the heel of your hand or a glass dusted with sugar to gently flatten cookies to about a half inch thick.  You don't want the bottoms to be browned or you've overbaked these.  Bake approximately ten minutes until just set.  Let cool about one minute on the pan and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 T heavy cream
1 T vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 T meringue powder
Food coloring or sprinkles as desired

Beat butter on medium speed for about two minutes until smooth.  Add cream and vanilla and beat about one more minute to incorporate.  Add sugar, one cup at a time mixing on low speed until incorporated until you reach the desired consistency.  Add meringue powder  (this will help your frosting crust so that you can stack the cookies without smearing your frosting all over the place, I use a sheet of wax or parchment paper in between layers).  You want the frosting to be fairly stiff so that it doesnt run off your cookies.  Frost cooled cookies and decorate as desired.  Store cookies in an airtight container.

Friday, September 24, 2010

We have a winner!

The winner of the CSN $45 gift card giveaway is comment number 22 -- Manda!  Her favorite fall dish was sweet potato souffle.  Thank you to everyone who participated! 

Manda - please contact me as soon as possible with your name and address to receive your prize.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chicken Fajita Quesadillas

Quesadillas are a perfect weeknight meal when you need something quick and easy to put on the table.  However, quick and easy doesn't have to mean boring.  These also work great as an appetizer.

These quesadillas are full of chicken, bell peppers, onions, jalapeno, cilantro, and cheese.  The chicken is flavored with lime juice, cayenne pepper, ground cumin and garlic.  The lime juice makes for an extremely quick marinade, especially when you cut the chicken into small chunks, which also speeds up the cooking time.  Make sure you use a good quality cheese for these - grating your own cheese instead of buying the shredded stuff will add so much more flavor.  I used a blend of about half each of sharp cheddar and pepperjack but if you don't want them to be as spicy, Monterrey jack would be a good alternative.

Chicken Fajita Quesadillas

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup lime juice 
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
Cut the chicken into approximately 1" chunks and sprinkle with salt.  In a large Ziploc, combine lime juice, garlic and spices, add chicken and let sit about 15 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

4 large flour tortillas
1 bell pepper
1/2 onion
2 jalapeno peppers
1 cup cheese
Handful of cilantro
1 T canola oil plus more if desired for cooking quesadillas

Slice bell peppers and onions into long thin strips.  Grate cheese and set aside. 

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat with 1 T canola oil, add chicken, peppers and onions and cook about five minutes, turning occasionally until cooked through.  Wipe out skillet with a paper towel and reduce heat to medium-low.  You can add a little oil to the pan, but I don't usually think its necessary and I prefer to save the calories and fat. 

You have two options for assembling the quesadillas.  You can use one tortilla and put the filling on half and fold it over - which does make it easier to flip the quesadilla - or build the quesadilla on the entire tortilla and then cover with a second tortilla.  I use both methods, it just depends on the day.  To assemble, layer on chicken, peppers, onions and jalapenos and top with cheese.  Tear cilantro and sprinkle over the top.  Fold or cover and transfer to skillet.  Cook about 3-4 minutes per side, until cheese is melted and tortilla is golden brown.  Cut into wedges and serve. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fondant Toy Story Birthday Cake

This cake was so much fun to do - the more I work with fondant, the more I really like it.  You can do so many fun things with it because it creates such a clean back drop to layer anything on.  For this cake - the birthday girl loves Toy Story's Jessie so that's what inspired the cake.  I used a couple figurines that I picked up at Walmart to top the cake since sculpting them was a challenge I didn't want to undertake for this cake.  I used toothpicks to attach these to the top of the cake since there was a small hole in the bottom of one foot of each character.

As I've mentioned before I really like to use marshmallow fondant for cakes.  Marshmallow fondant has several advantages - it tastes a million times better than the store bought stuff, it's a lot cheaper, and it can be made in just a few minutes and stored for quite a while at room temperature.  You will want to let it rest after mixing it up for at least a few hours or overnight before working with it.

One thing to keep in mind when you use fondant, is that you will likely want to do something as a border in between your cake layers.  While fondant creates a very clean cake, the edges can sometimes leave a little to be desired.  For this cake I twirled two strings of brown fondant into a rope border and rolled red fondant into tiny balls to make a border for the bottom layer. 

You can use any regular cookie cutter to make cutouts for fondant - I used several different sized stars for the base layer, a set of alphabet cookie cutters to do the writing so that everything would be a uniform size and made freehanded cutouts for the cow print using a small wheel cutter.

Depending on the humidity on the day you make this, you may have to adjust the water to powdered sugar ratio slightly but this is a good starting point from my experience.  You'll also want to have plenty of shortening on hand to keep the fondant from sticking to your hands and the surface you use to roll it out.  I've only ever done this with a stand mixer, I'm sure it can be done by hand but it's going to be a lot more time consuming.

Marshmallow fondant

16 oz marshmallows - the size doesn't matter
2 1/2 T water
1 T vanilla extract (use clear extract if you want a true white fondant)
2 pounds powdered sugar
Vegetable shortening

Begin by liberally greasing a microwave-safe bowl to melt the marshmallows in, a large spoon, mixing bowl of your stand mixer and the dough hook attachment.  Add all but about one cup of powdered sugar to the mixing bowl and make a well in the center.  Add marshmallows and water to the microwave-safe bowl and heat about one minute in the microwave.  Stir and continue heating another 30 seconds to a minute until melted.  Add vanilla and stir to combine. 

Pour melted marshmallow mix into the powdered sugar and begin mixing on low speed.  When mixer begins to sound strained, turn up the speed a notch.  Mix until all the sugar is incorporated.  If mixture is too dry, add water, half a teaspoon at a time, mixing after each addition until all the sugar is incorporated.  If mixture is too sticky, add remaining powdered sugar. 

Coat hands with shortening, transfer mixture to a large sheet of plastic wrap, kneading into a ball.  Coat fondant with shortening and wrap tightly.  Either wrap in a double layer of plastic wrap or slide plastic wrapped ball into a large Ziploc bag.  This yields about three pounds of fondant which is approximately enough to cover two eight inch, two-layer cakes. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010


**This Giveaway is now closed**

It's your lucky day -- I'm doing the first ever Homemade by Holman giveaway thanks to CSN stores!  If you have never heard of CSN stores, they sell a little bit of everything from dining tables to bakeware to home decor. 

I've been looking at a couple of great Le Creuset dishes that would be perfect for fall baking.

And just imagine how handy this apple peeler/corer is for making apple pies and other delicious apple dishes.
But the great part about this giveaway is that you don't win what I want - you can pick out whatever you want or need because the winner gets a $45 gift card to CSN stores.  All you need to do to enter is leave a comment below telling me what your favorite fall baked good is. 

For an extra entry, become a follower of Homemade by Holman on Facebook by clicking here and leave a separate comment below. 

Finally, for one more entry, become a follower of HomemadeHolman and tweet about the giveaway on Twitter and leave a separate comment including your tweet below.

The winner will be chosen by a random number generator and announced next Friday.  The contest will close next Thursday, September 23 at 5 pm EST.  All entries must include a valid email address or they will not count.  Please note international shipping charges may apply for non-US residents.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fauxstess Cupcakes

One more marshmallow frosting recipe - this time I'm using the frosting as a filling for the cupcakes though.  These are homemade versions of the ever-popular Hostess cupcakes - complete with little swirls scrolling across the tops. 

A couple tips for these - make your ganache in a small container that is at least a few inches deep so you have enough depth to dip your cupcakes even as you get low on ganache.  Also, you'll want to make sure you fill your cupcakes full enough that they rise over the tops of the liner so you aren't hitting the liner before you hit the cupcake when you dip them.  You'll have to work quickly once your ganache is ready as it cools quickly and gets thicker as it cools so its harder to make the tops of the cupcakes smooth.

To fill these cupcakes, I used the cone method.  Once cool, I cut out a small cone-shape in the center of each cupcake with a paring knife and then filled them with a piping bag full of marshmallow filling.  This allows much more filling in the center than if you just try to pipe the filling in. 

Once the ganache is set, you can add any decoration you want, I used a bit of extra marshmallow filling and changed my piping bag to a small round tip (I think I used Wilton #3) to pipe on the traditional swirls. 

Fauxstess Cupcakes

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pans with cupcake liners. Recipe yields about 30 cupcakes. Combine sugar through salt in a large boil. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and beat on low until just incorporated. Increase speed to medium and beat two minutes. Stir in boiling water, the batter will be thin. Transfer batter to prepared pans, filling each liner about 3/4 of the way full, approximately 1/4 cup of batter. Bake approximately 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans about five minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  When cool, use a paring knife to cut a small cone shape out of the center of each cupcake.


2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a double boiler (I set my stainless steel mixing bowl over a small saucepan) combine egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar and heat over simmering water. Whisk almost constantly, heating to 160 degrees. Transfer mix to mixing bowl and beat on high speed (with whisk attachment if you are using a stand mixer) until egg whites hold stiff peaks. Add vanilla and mix until just incorporated. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe into the holes in the top of each cupcake.  Reserve remaining filling for piping swirls or decoration as desired.

1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate

Heat heavy cream until simmering in a small saucepan (you can also microwave but do it in 30 second intervals and watch it closely). Cut chocolate into chunks and put in a small bowl. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for one minute. Stir until chocolate is melted. Let stand about 5 minutes and then dip each filled cupcake quickly into the chocolate, tap lightly to get rid of the excess and turn over.  Let cool on a wire rack until chocolate is set.  Pipe on swirls or decoration as desired.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jalapeno Popper Dip

I have so many jalapeno peppers in my garden right now.  This spring I planted one jalapeno plant, one cayenne pepper plant and one Anaheim pepper plant.  So far I've harvested maybe 3 Anaheim peppers, about 100 cayenne peppers and for the past few weeks I've had tons of jalapenos and there are a lot more to come.  After picking roughly a dozen late last week, I remembered seeing a recipe for jalapeno popper dip a while back and decided to make it to take to the first football tailgate this past weekend.

I am so glad that its football season.  Fall is my favorite time of year and the kickoff to college football means its finally time.  Of course, football season and tailgating also gives me an excuse to make lots of great appetizers and dips.  Some of last year's favorite snacks included Goat Cheese Spinach Dip, Oktoberfest Dip, Stuffed Mushrooms, and Cinnamon Roasted Almonds - I'm really going to have to make some of these recipes again soon just so I can update the pictures!

Back to the jalapeno popper dip though, you may have to adjust the number of peppers to get the right level of spiciness depending on how hot your peppers are - usually I think the homegrown variety are a little more potent than the ones you buy in the store. 

Jalapeno Popper Dip

2 8 oz packages cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat Neufchatel cheese), at room temperature
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, chopped
6 jalapeno peppers, seeded, ribbed and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T cilantro, finely chopped
2 T lime juice
1 1/2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
1 tsp Ancho chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and mayo.  Add bell peppers, jalapenos, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, 1/2 cup shredded cheese, and half of the chili powder and cumin.  Mix well to combine to a uniform mixture.  Spread dip into a baking pan (I used a 1 1/2 quart oval Corningware baking dish but you can use any similar sized baking dish), smoothing into an even layer.  Top with remaining shredded cheese, cover with bread crumbs and sprinkle with remaining chili powder and cumin.  Bake approximately 30 minutes until cheese is hot and bubbly and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.  Serve warm or at room temperature with tortilla chips. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies

Now that kids are back to school, maybe you need the occasional sweet treat to send in your child's lunchbox.  When I was a kid, we used to get Little Debbie snacks every once in a while and one of my favorites were Oatmeal Cream Pies.  The soft oatmeal cookie sandwiching marshmallow cream filling was such a great combination.  However, these days if I'm going to eat baked goods, I dont want them in a cellophane package from the grocery store. 

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been loving this marshmallow frosting lately so knowing I would have some leftover, I baked a batch of soft, chewy oatmeal cookies and decided to make some homemade oatmeal cream pies to send with my husband for his company picnic.

I would recommend using a cookie scoop or some form of uniform measure to drop the cookies onto the sheet so that you end up with cookies that match up fairly well for even sandwiches. 

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies
Cookie recipe adapted from Quaker Oats, Filling recipe from here

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 T dark corn syrup
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups old fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Combine butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until creamy.  Add in eggs, vanilla and corn syrup and beat well.  Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and mix until well incorporated.  Add oats and mix in by hand until evenly mixed.  (A sturdy wooden spoon works well for this as the batter will be quite stiff.)

Use a cookie scoop or similar measure to drop onto prepared cookie sheets and bake for approximately 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.  (Depending on how big you make the cookies, you may need to flatten slightly.)  Cool for about a minute on the pan and then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.  Match up cookies in pairs and pipe on filling.

2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a double boiler (I set my stainless steel mixing bowl over a small saucepan) combine egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar and heat over simmering water.  Whisk almost constantly, heating to 160 degrees.  Transfer mix to mixing bowl and beat on high speed (with whisk attachment if you are using a stand mixer) until egg whites hold stiff peaks.  Add vanilla and mix until just incorporated.  Transfer to a piping bag and pipe onto half the cookies (a small offset spatula will also work if you prefer), leaving about 1/4 - 1/2 inch around the edges.  Sandwich with top cookie and press lightly to distribute filling.  Store in an airtight container.

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