It’s Fall, y’all. Part Two: Cookies and Crafts.

Scratch that.

It doesn’t feel like fall at all.

It feels like icemageddon played ding dong ditch at my home in North Texas.

Technically, winter begins December 21st a the start of winter solstice; however, this year it showed up a little too early to a party that it was never invited to in the first place.

Global Warming? Where you at?

Here are some yummy goodies to help you finish fall strong and bring you right into the Christmas spirit!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins.

pumpkin cream cheese muffin

  • Filling
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Muffins
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Streusel Topping
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons softened butter

Prepare filling by beating together all ingredients. Freeze for at least 1 hour.

Line 18 muffin cups with paper baking cups or grease and flour the muffin cups. Heat oven to 375°.

Muffins: In a large mixing bowl with electric mixer, combine the 2 2/3 cups of flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add eggs, pumpkin, vegetable oil, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat until well blended.

Streusel Topping: In a small bowl, combine the 1/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and butter. Work together with a fork or fingers. Set aside.

Fill muffin cups about one-third full with the muffin batter, then put about 1 tablespoon of frozen cream cheese mixture in the center of each. Top with about 1 more tablespoon of the pumpkin batter, or until cups are about 3/4 full. Make sure all of the cream cheese is covered. Sprinkle each muffin with a little of the streusel topping. Bake for 18 to 24 minutes, until firm.

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese filling and Chocolate Ganache. *I know this is a terrible picture but it was all I had left*

cake

  • Pumpkin Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Chocolate Ganache:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 10 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, being sure to scrape down the edges after adding each egg. Beat in the vanilla.
In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin spice. Slowly beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Once mixed, turn the mixer off and gently fold in the pumpkin puree.
Scoop batter equally into the cake pans and level with a knife. Bake in preheated oven for 35 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for several minutes. Gently remove the cake from the pans and place on a cooling rack.
Make the cream cheese frosting filling by creaming together the butter and cream cheese. Beat in the vanilla. Beat in the powered sugar and mix until a stiff but spreadable mixture forms.
Place one of the cakes bottom side up on a cake stand. Spread the cream cheese frosting over the top. Place the other cake, top side up, on top of the frosting.
Make the ganache right before you are ready to use it, by heating the heavy cream in a saucepan just until simmering. Place the chocolate chips in a bowl you can easily pour from (I used my 4 cup measuring cup). Pour the hot cream over the top. Make sure all of the chocolate is submerged in the cream. Let stand for two minutes.
Gently whisk the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate has melted and the mixture has a glossy look to it.
Carefully, and working from the center outward, pour the chocolate ganache over the cake. The ganache will be thick, you can use a knife to spread it around. Do this quickly before the ganache hardens.
After ganache hardens, about 15 minutes you can slice and serve the cake.
Keep any leftovers in the refrigerator. Remove from the fridge about an hour before serving to allow the cake to come to room temperature.

Dark Chocolate Popovers and Cinnamon Whipped Cream.

popover

  • Popovers
  • 4 tablespoons butter, browned
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk, slightly warm in temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped and tossed in a bit of flour
  • whipped cream
  • 1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush a popover pan (muffin pan or deep mini cake pans work well too) with 2 tablespoons of the browned butter.

Add the eggs to a blender and puree until combined. Add in the warmed milk, the vanilla, remaining butter, flour and salt, blending until the batter is combined.

Place the pan in the oven and heat it for 5 minutes. Remove it from the oven and pour the popover batter in the pan, filling the tins 3/4 of the way full. Add half of the chopped chocolate to the tins. Bake for 25 minutes and do not open the oven!

Once the popovers are finished, remove them from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate. Let cool slightly before serving with whipped cream.

whipped cream
Add the heavy cream to the bowl of your electric mixer. Beat on low speed, gradually increasing to high speed, until peaks form and the whipped cream is thick. Beat in the sugar and vanilla extract. I added 1 TSP of cinnamon and used it in Mexican hot chocolate, as well as with my popovers. It was delicious. I plan on making it again using real strawberries. The possibilities are endless! Refrigerate any leftovers.

Turkey Wild Rice Soup.

turkey wild rice soup

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked, cubed turkey breast
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Add carrot, celery, onion, green onion, rosemary, thyme, pepper and garlic. Sauté about 8 minutes or until browned.Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

Stir in turkey and rice; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes or until rice is tender (15-20 minutes if using quick cooking rice).

Combine flour and milk in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until there are no lumps. Add to soup and stir well.

Cook over medium heat until thick (about 8 minutes), stirring frequently. Season with salt, to taste.

As I have been iced in since Thursday night, I’ve had ample time for crafting. These things are so cute and make great gifts.

Mugs.

mugs

Find a mug you like- I bought mine at Target and choose your medium. I did one with sharpie and the other with sharpie paint. If you choose paint, a little goes a long way.  If you use too much, it will bubble when you cook it.

Bake the mug for 30 minutes at 350. Hand wash to ensure design will be maintained. You can wash it in the dish washer, but the design might not last as long.

Celtic Knot headband.

headband

Literally all I had to do was watch this video. I chose to make mine with grey polar fleece. I LOVE the way it turned out.

Pine Cones.

pine cone garland

cotton and pine cones

I love pine cones any time of year, but Christmas pine cones are the best because they’re scented with cinnamon. I hot glued some onto twine and hung it in my cube at work. Now my desk is winter wonderland. I also paired some with cotton in a vase, for a chic-southern look.

Bow Ties.

merry christmas bowtieChristmas bow tie

Bow ties are my favorite thing to make, so I love incorporating them into Christmas decorations and giving them as gifts.

Painting.

Fall deer and pumpkintoesIt may be time to move from pumpkins to peppermints, but glitter deer heads are always in style. I simply got a wooden piece and glued it to to a canvas, painted, and glittered. Christmas nails are also a must. I always love O.P.I. and Essie, but my newest obsession is Julep.

May your Christmas season be filled with JOY!

JOY

Whole Heartedly.

I used to regularly post recent recipes I had tried and liked…Because I haven’t done one of these in a very long time, you probably thought I quit eating. Not the case. I still abide by the rule of “life is too short to eat bad food.”

My most recent baking obsession has been with whole wheat flour. I prefer wheat bread over white bread any day, so I thought ‘why not make my baked goods a little better for me?’ Notice, I didn’t say taste healthier…here’s some recipes I’ve tried and loved, that haven’t sacrificed flavor for health. I mean if you’re trying to be super healthy, you really don’t want a cookie anyway. Don’t worry; I’ll eat what you don’t.

Whole Wheat chocolate chip cookies.

WWCCC

These were adapted from my friend Kim. She is a pole vaulter for Baylor, so she always does the healthy alternative for food. She’s a beast! Seriously though, don’t let the whole wheat fool you. I brought these to work and they were gone in a flash.

  • 4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsps Baking Soda
  • 2 cups butter, softned
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 (3.4 oz) pkgs intant vanilla pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 4 cups chocolate chips (I like mixing milk, semi sweet, and dark)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Sift flour and baking soda and sit aside

In large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in pudding mix until blended. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Blend in flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips. 

Create 1 inch balls of dough and place on baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes; edges should be golden brown.

Peanut butter whole wheat muffins with dark chocolate chunks.

I got this recipe from a blog called, How Sweet it Is. Most of it I kept the same, except I used regular Jif Peanutbutter, and I mixed semi sweet and dark chocolate chips. These are so yummy! Not only are they whole wheat, but they contain peanut butter, greek yogurt, less than a cup of sugar, and only 1 stick of butter!

WWCCC

Whole wheat pumpkin bread with chocolate chips.

I love the flavor of pumpkin, but feel that it is so overdone in the fall. This is something different, yet tasty that everyone will love!

WWPB

  • 1 and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Next, in a medium sized bowl combine the dry ingredients, and in a large bowl combine the wet ingredients.

Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, making sure it is well blended. Mix in your chocolate chips. Once everything is mixed together, line a bread pan with parchment paper, and pour the batter into the pan.

Cook for 50-60 minutes.

Whole Wheat, no yeast Pizza Dough. 

Who doesn’t love pizza? Who doesn’t love a pizza that’s kind of good for you?!

WWPizza

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 3/4 tsp. baking powder (if using baking soda use half and omit salt)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 3/4 to 1 c. water

 Preheat oven to 400 F.

Mix dry ingredients. add 3/4 cup water and oil. Stir until it forms a ball. If dough is stiff, add more water.The dough will be soft, not sticky. Knead on a floured surface for 3-4 minutes.Add sauce and desired toppings.Bake for 15-25 minutes.

Whole Wheat Pasta.

This is an effortless switch. Whenever making spaghetti at home, just buy whole wheat noodles. I do this for all the pastas I make. This dish below is actually an avocado pasta recipe I got from the Flourishing Foodie. If you can’t resist the goodness of avocados, then this dish is definitely for you!

WWavacado

If baking and cooking with whole wheat or grains is just too much of a lifestyle switch, then start out with something easy. Goldfish and Cheezits both offer a whole grain option. Wheat Thins have a multi-grain version,and my personal favorite, Lance, sells whole grain butter crackers.

I’ll never be one of those girls claiming to always be on a diet and never eating much. The fact of the matter is, is that I like chocolate and cheeseburgers. However, I feel that God didn’t put us on the earth to be gluttonous, so I try to be healthy where I can.

Bon appetit!

“It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.” Proverbs 25:27