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This year, to up the stakes, we held a gingerbread house competition during our ugly Christmas sweater party! My sister and I spent two days making the ginger bread house kits and we were lucky enough to have our friends from college, Isa and Mari respectively, help us out! We couldn’t have done it without them! Also, Isa got a new camera recently and some of her pictures are included here (denoted by an * in the caption). We had a total of 6 teams participate and we held a democratic vote to choose the top two ginger bread houses. We used the same recipe from last year. The recipe makes one gingerbread house and each icing recipe can glue together two houses. Congratulations to the winners!

 

The next set of cupcakes we made was this delicious combination of caramel apple all in a cupcake! I am a sucker for caramel so as soon as I found out that pure, thick, caramel was going both into the cupcake and the icing, I was sold! I will note that I do not like having left over icing, so I cut the icing recipe below in half and it was more than enough to cover all 24 cupcakes, but you can always make it as is shown below. Also, I didn’t do the fancy nut topping but feel free to add that nutty touch! Enjoy!

Ingredients
Cupcakes:
  • 1 (15.25 box) yellow cake mix
  • ¾ cup apple cider
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup apple butter
Frosting:
  • 3 (8 oz.) packages regular cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 3 (4 oz.) sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • ¼ cup thick caramel topping
  • ¼ cup apple butter
  • 6 cups sifted powdered sugar
Topping (optional):
  • ½ cup thick caramel topping
  • 1 cup finely chopped nuts (such as walnuts, pecans, or peanuts)
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin pans with paper baking liners or spray pans with nonstick spray. In a large mixing bowl mix together cake mix, cider, eggs, and ½ cup apple butter with electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Spoon batter evenly into prepared pans so that each cup is about ⅔ full.
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Bake cupcakes for about 19-23 minutes or when toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on wire racks and cool completely.
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To make frosting, mix together cream cheese and butter in large mixing bowl until well combined and lumps are all gone. Mix in ¼ cup caramel and apple butter until well combined. Slowly mix in powdered sugar until well combined. Frost cupcakes as desired with pastry bag or knife.
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If desired, warm remaining ¼ cup of caramel in microwave for 15 seconds or until drizzling consistency. Cool slightly then drizzle over cupcakes. Sprinkle nuts on top. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
 I didn’t get to add a caramel drizzle or nuts but I did try a mattice icing style with the same icing through a pastry bag.
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 To end off our Thanksgiving cupcake extravaganza, we made these delicious Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cupcakes thanks to Your Cup of Cake and they were absolutely delicious! Instead of just leaving them with plain icing on the top, we added some fun turkey faces on top of the whole treat to add to the festivities!

Ingredients
Cupcakes:
1 box yellow or white cake mix (you can use Spice mix and omit spices)
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. cinnamon
15 oz. pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1/2 C. applesauce or oil
1/3 C. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Snickerdoodle topping:
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 C. sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
Cinnamon Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 C. butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 – 4 1/2 C. powdered sugar
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Small note about this Pumpkin Pie Spice: I went to buy some at the grocery store because I saw it called for some in the recipe, but when I saw how much it cost to buy for a blend of other more common household spices, I decided not to buy it. I happened to find it in my pantry later at home and ended up using it, but always be sure to read the labels to see if it is one less thing you might need!
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pans with cupcake liners. Sift cake mix, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon into a bowl an set aside.
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In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, applesauce, milk and vanilla extract.
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Stir in cake mix and spices.
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Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 17-22 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
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Place your melted butter in a small bowl. Combine sugar and cinnamon in another small bowl.
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Use a pastry brush to brush melted butter on the tops of your cupcakes (they can be cooled or nearly cooled), then roll the tops of the cupcakes into your cinnamon-sugar to get that “snickerdoodle” look.
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Frosting: Beat butter and cream cheese. Add cinnamon and vanilla extract and slowly add in powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency. Add 1 Tbsp. milk if it becomes too thick.
Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkles extra cinnamon-sugar on top!

These cupcakes were for my sister’s homecoming weekend and were a hit! Please note they do contain alcohol in both the cupcake and icing so please bake responsibly but if you prefer not to include alcohol, you can replace mentions of alcohol with regular apple cider.

Ingredients

Cinnamon Spice Hard Cider Cupcakes

  • ⅓ cup butter
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temp
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups flour
  • ½ tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 cup hard apple cider, room temperature

Whiskey Caramel Apple Filling

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large (or 3 small) crisp apples peeled, cored, and diced (I used Gala apples)
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey

Cinnamon Whiskey Buttercream:

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3½ cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons whiskey

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Instruction

Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. The butter will start smelling sweet and brown specks will appear, remove from heat and continue whisking for 30 more seconds.  Pour into stand mixer and let cool.  Once the butter is cool, add the buttermilk, egg, sugars and vanilla, and mix until well combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda.  Gradually add the flour to the wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

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Once the flour is fully incorporated, stir in the hard cider, being careful not to over mix.  Scrape the sides and bottom to make sure there aren’t any clumps. Spray cupcake tin with non-stick spray.  Insert cupcake liners and fill each a little more than halfway. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

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Filling:

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.  Cook for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft and have released their juices.  (It will smell delicious!)

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In a separate bowl, whisk together the whiskey with cornstarch. Then add to the pan with the apples and cook for another 3 minutes, until the liquid thickens.  Set aside to cool.

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Frosting:

Cream the butter for a minute or two.  Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until creamy. Add the whiskey, start with one tablespoon and add more until you reach desired consistency (I ended up using 2 tablespoons).  Beat on high for 2-3 minutes, until fluffy and whipped.

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Assembly:

Core each cupcake with a cupcake corer (if you’re fancy like that) or a melon baller.

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Fill the cupcake with apples, then top with buttercream frosting.  Garnish with any left over apples and enjoy!

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And here are some of our other Halloween festivities!

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I had two old bananas and yet again I got sick of making a banana cake/loaf/bread variety so I found these awesome bananadoodles! These are absolutely amazing and way more fun than bread!

Ingredients

Cookie Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 large bananas. mashed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Topping: 

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

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Using either a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, beat the oil, sugar and molasses at medium high speed until light, about 1 1/2 minutes.

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Add bananas beating well after addition.

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Beat in vanilla extract. Scrape down sides of the bowl and beat 30 seconds more. At low speed, add the flour mixture and beat until just blended.

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In a bowl, make topping by mixing cinnamon and sugar together.

Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes (or up to a week in the fridge.) Shape the cookie into 1 inch balls (about 1 tablespoon of dough.) Roll each ball into cinnamon sugar mixture to coat completely and arrange balls on the baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Flatten each cookie into a 2 inch disk. Bake cookies one sheet at time, 14- 18 minutes until tops are crinkly and they are puffed and lightly browned around the edges. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.IMG_4951

My sister and I wanted to make cinnamon rolls but every recipe needed yeast and we did not feel like dealing with that. SO we found this recipe that did not need yeast and still made some awesome cinnamon rolls! She also took some sweet videos of the process.

Filling:
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs butter, softened
  • Optional: ½ cup raisins
Dough:
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 4 Tbs butter, melted, divided
  • 2 Tbs butter, softened
Frosting:
  • 3 Tbs butter, softened
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup half n half
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
Directions
Preheat oven to 425. Use about 1 Tbs melted butter to grease the bottom of a 9 inch cake pan. Set aide.
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In a medium bowl combine sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Mix together. Add in vanilla and cut in butter with a fork or your hands until well combined. Set aside.
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In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a liquid measuring cup, measure 1 cup of buttermilk, add ¼ cup other milk and then whisk in 2 Tbs melted butter.
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Mix buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients until just combined, then knead with your hands for about 30 seconds. (I recommend flouring hands first as the dough will be quite sticky)
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Lightly flour a clean work surface. Use hands to press dough into a 12×10 inch rectangle. (does not have to be exact or perfectly rectangular).
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Brush 2 Tbs softened butter onto the entire surface of the dough. Spread filling evenly onto dough coming to about ½ inch of edges. Lightly press filling into dough. If including optional raisins, now sprinkle them on top of the dough. Starting with the long end of the rectangle, roll the dough to the opposite end. Roll the dough back and forth to shape it evenly into a log shape. Pinch the ends together and cut off the excess, about ½ inch. Cut the dough into 8 equal sections.
Place one roll in the middle of the buttered cake pan and then place the remaining seven rolls evenly around the first. Brush the tops with remaining 2 Tbs melted butter.
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Place rolls in the oven and allow to bake at 425 for about 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 and allow to bake about 10 more minutes, until edges begin to lightly brown.
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While rolls are baking, prepare the frosting. Using a hand mixer, beat softened butter and cream cheese until light and creamy. Add in powdered sugar, vanilla, and half n half. Mix until well combined. When rolls are finished baking, allow to cool 5-10 minutes before spreading the frosting on. Store in airtight container for 2 days or serve immediately.
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My family and I went to Carter Mountain to pick some fresh apples and once we got home we made some caramel apple bars! They were absolutely delicious and gooey. Whether you pick your own apples or not, enjoy!!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups  old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
  • 1-1/4 cups  flour, divided
  • 1 tsp.  baking soda
  • 1 tsp.  ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp.  ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup  butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup  packed brown sugar
  • 1 pkg.  (11 oz.) KRAFT Caramels
  • 2 Tbsp.  milk
  • 2 large  apples, chopped (about 2 cups)

Directions

Heat oven to 350ºF. Line 13×9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides; spray with cooking spray. Mix oats, 1 cup flour, baking soda and spices until blended.

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Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture until blended. Reserve 1 cup oat mixture; press remaining onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 min.

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Meanwhilemicrowave caramels and milk in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until caramels are completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring every 30 sec. Stir in remaining flour.

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Sprinkle apples over crust; drizzle with caramel sauce. Crumble remaining oat mixture over caramel sauce.

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Bake 20 to 25 min. or until golden brown. Cool completely. Use foil handles to lift dessert from pan before cutting into bars.

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This cake was DELICIOUS! I was looking for a recipe with fresh raspberries and this cake incorporates them amazingly! Enjoy!!

Ingredients

Filing:

  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + a splash of vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Topping:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a 9 x 9 baking dish by buttering or spraying with cooking spray. To make the filling, whisk together the water, sugar, and corn starch in a medium saucepan. Mix in the raspberries and heat over medium heat until the mixture reaches a simmer. Let simmer 4-6 minutes, or until thickened. Set aside.

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To make the cake, in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla, and add to the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

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Spread about half of the mixture in the prepared pan.

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Pour the raspberry filling over the batter, then drop remaining batter by spoonfuls over the raspberry filling.

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To make the crumb topping, mix together the flour and sugar, then cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

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Sprinkle the topping over the batter.

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Bake 40-45 minutes or until light golden brown and cooked through.

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These brownies are SO easy to make and have SO much peanut butter! If you do not want so much peanut butter, just put less, but regardless these are delicious 🙂

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (185 grams) creamy peanut butter (do not use natural, runny peanut butter or powdered “peanut butter”)
  • 6 oz. low fat or fat free vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) skim milk (or almond milk)
  • 1 large egg (or 2 egg whites)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (42 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (40 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 8×8 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Place all of the ingredients except for the peanut butter into a blender or food processor. For easier blending, place the liquid ingredients into the blender first. Blend until mix is smooth and oats are ground up. You will have to stop the blender and scrape down the sides a few times.

Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Batter will be thin.

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Microwave peanut butter for about 30 seconds.

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Drop melted peanut butter by spoonfuls onto the batter, swirling gently with a knife to create a marbled effect. (Try not to overmix!)

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Bake for 20-25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.

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Brownies will be extra fudgy, so be sure to wait until completely cooled. You can also put them in the refrigerator for 2 hours, which allowed them to be cut very easily. Cut into squares and enjoy!  Brownies stay fresh at room temperature for 2 days, and then can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days after that. Brownies freeze well up to 2-3 months.

These cookies are a great combo of citrus and chocolate! I didn’t make the chocolate drizzle but even so the cookies are great on their own!

Ingredients

  • Parchment paper
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/4 tsp mild extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (at least 70 percent cocoa)

Directions

Heat oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment. In a bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup olive oil, sugar, 1/4 cup juice, 2 tsp zest and vanilla. In a second bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Fold flour mixture into oil mixture. Let stand 5 minutes.

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Drop batter by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between each. Bake until cookies are golden brown at the edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. In a microwave-safe bowl, nuke chocolate, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes; stir in remaining 1/4 tsp olive oil. Arrange cookies next to each other on parchment paper. Using a spoon, drizzle lines of chocolate across cookies. Let sit until chocolate has hardened, about 1 hour; serve.

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