Tag Archives: easy recipes

Sparkly Applesauce Muffins

Sparkly Applesauce Muffins​

These Sparkly Applesauce Muffins are so easy and so good! They’re a perfect treat for transitioning from summer to fall, before everything is truly all pumpkin spice all the time…which will be next week on this website and also everywhere.

The batter is made with ingredients you likely already have at your disposal and comes together in a flash. Divide it into a muffin tin, filling each well up to the top, and then sprinkle on a thick (thick!) layer of sugar and pie spices before sliding them into the oven.

While baking, the muffins will dome dramatically. This is because of the baking powder and baking soda, of course, but also because the oven time begins with a blast of 425F heat that jumpstarts the rise. After five minutes, the temperature is reduced to 375F for the remaining time, yielding tender muffins with the most glorious sparkly, crackled tops!

Sparkly Applesauce Muffins​

Once the muffins are cool enough to handle, dig in! You’ll love the simple balance of pie spices and buttery apple flavor, and that’s to say nothing of the textures! The tops are crisp and crunchy, and the insides are sooo soft. Be forewarned that this perfect combination is fleeting, however, as the topping will start to melt in about a day. If you want to keep your applesauce muffins around for longer, bake them without the sugary flourish. There’s no need to miss out entirely though—you can still have the sparkling effect by painting the tops of the cooled muffins with butter and dipping them into the spiced sugar before serving.

Sparkly Applesauce Muffins​

I’m all about living in the solution, y’all! Especially when it means there’s a sparkling batch of applesauce muffins on my counter and yours.

Sparkly Applesauce Muffins​
Sparkly Applesauce Muffins
makes 12 muffins

Topping:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Muffin Batter:
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
~2/3 cup milk of choice, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled slightly
1 cup (8 ounces) unsweetened applesauce

Preheat oven to 425F. Use muffin liners to line 12 cups in a standard muffin pan (or grease them well). Set aside.

Make the topping. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup or small mixing bowl, use a fork to whisk together vinegar and milk. Set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes, until curdled.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

Whisk eggs into milk mixture one at a time, followed by melted butter and applesauce. Add half the liquid to the dry ingredients. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir ingredients together (15 strokes maximum). Add remaining liquid and stir to combine (15 strokes maximum). Batter will be thick.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups, filling to the tops. Sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of the topping mixture onto each well of muffin batter. Tap full pan five times on the counter to release any air bubbles.

Bake muffins 5 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375F and bake another 15-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let muffins cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Serve immediately. Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to a day. Sugar topping will degrade over time.

Plum Shortbread Bars

Plum Shortbread Bars​

I try to keep a certain level of variety on here, but with 600 recipes there are bound to be some variations on a few really good staples.

Plum Shortbread Bars​

Case in point: shortbread bars. They’re one of the simplest desserts in my baking arsenal, and also one of my very favorites. They’re quick and easy to make and have a short ingredient list. You almost certainly have all the shortbread ingredients right now.

Shortbread bars hit all the same notes as pie, yet require only fractions of the work and time. The shortbread dough doubles as both base and topping, and you don’t need to roll or crimp anything—rustic is the name of the game. You can make them square, or bake them up round and cut them into wedges.

Plum Shortbread Bars​

Perhaps best of all, shortbread bars seamlessly adapt to whatever fruit you have in hand, whether it be apples, cherries, blackberries or an astonishing amount of sweet & tangy late summer plums.

Yep. This recipe’s a keeper.

Plum Shortbread Bars​
Plum Shortbread Bars
makes one 8-inch pan, 8-12 wedges

Filling:
3 cups sliced fresh plums* (1-inch pieces)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (about 1/2 medium lemon)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoons cornstarch

Shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes

Place oven racks in top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 375F. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan, or line with aluminum foil, leaving overhang, and grease with butter. Set aside.

Make plum filling. In a medium mixing bowl, combine sliced plums, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and cornstarch. Set aside while you make the shortbread.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It will be powdery, but should hold together when pinched. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture for topping.

Pour remaining shortbread mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using your hand to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Spoon plum filling over the top and arrange into an even layer.

For the topping, use your fingers to pinch together small portions of the reserved shortbread mixture. Scatter them over the top of the blackberry layer.

If your pan is on the shallow side, place it on a rimmed baking sheet to collect any light overflow. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Move bars to the top rack and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, until browned. Tent with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly. Let cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 90 minutes, or until cold.

Run a thin knife around the edges of the pan. Use parchment overhang to remove to a cutting board. Slice and serve.

Leftover Plum Shortbread Wedges will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. They will soften over time.

Note:

I used 2 medium red plums and a dozen Italian prune plums.

Cookies & Cream Blondies

Cookies & Cream Blondies

We all know cookies & cream as an ice cream flavor, but have you ever tried it in blondies? You should—it’s outrageously good. Like, I love a good Basic Blondie in all it’s butterscotch glory, but I think I might be a Cookies & Cream Blondie person now.

Cookies & Cream Blondies

These chewy, vanilla-scented squares are filled with big chunks of Oreo, along with some white chocolate chips for good measure. And when I say “filled,” I do mean filled—there might be more mix-ins than batter!

The batch comes together in one bowl, bakes up in half an hour, and slices like a dream once cooled. You’ll notice that the base for these blondies is lighter in color than the usual brown sugar batter. That’s because I only used granulated sugar in this recipe—because of their lighter color and flavor, I think of these as “platinum” blondies. This flavor profile is more in line with traditional cookies & cream, but feel free to swap the base for the brown sugary original, if that’s more your style.

Cookies & Cream Blondies

I cannot overstate how delicious these are. The blondie batter is basically only there to hold the ample amount of Oreos and white chocolate together, so every bite is filled with cookies & cream! There are so many textures here: soft blondie, crispy cookie, smooth white chocolate—these are proof positive that you can have it all. Or at least you can when it comes to dessert.

Cookies & Cream Blondies
Cookies & Cream Blondies
makes one 8- or 9-inch pan, about 16 bars

1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
16 Oreos (or other chocolate sandwich cookies), sliced into quarters + more for topping
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square pan and line with parchment, leaving overhang for bar-removal. Set aside.

Make the blondie base. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and sugar. Mix in eggs and vanilla, followed by flour and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in Oreos and white chocolate chips.

Spread the blondie batter in prepared pan. Top within more Oreos, if desired. Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean (no raw batter). Let blondies cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature.

Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan, then use parchment to lift them onto a cutting board. Discard parchment. Slice blondies with a large, sharp chef’s knife, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Serve.

Blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Cookies & Cream Blondies
Cookies & Cream Blondies

Friday Favorites: Peanut Butter Cookies

Friday Favorites: Peanut Butter Cookies​

I have a couple of new peanut butter recipes coming up in the next few weeks, so I thought I’d do a peanut butter round-up today. That is, until I then I went through my recipe index and realized that I have written a lot of peanut butter recipes. Like…a lot. I just really like peanut butter, I guess. So, instead of doing an endless round-up, I’m sticking to peanut butter cookies today.

I mean, what’s better than a homemade peanut butter cookie?! From soft to crunchy to vegan & gluten-free to loaded with oats and candy, there’s no wrong way to get your peanut butter cookie on this weekend! Here is some inspiration from my archives.

Friday Favorites: Peanut Butter Cookies​

Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cookies

If you’re looking for a dreamy soft & chewy peanut butter cookie recipe, this is it. You won’t need a mixer or to budget time for a chill, and you can swap in any mix-ins you like (or leave them out entirely). If you’re the kind of person who likes peanut butter with their peanut butter though, I highly recommend getting your hands on some Reese’s Pieces.

Friday Favorites: Peanut Butter Cookies​

Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

The polar opposite of my Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cookies, this old-fashioned recipe was inspired by the cookies at my family’s favorite road trip stop. Made with simple ingredients, crosshatched with a fork and baked until crunchy, these are a classic.

Friday Favorites: Peanut Butter Cookies​

Peanut Butter Cookies {Vegan, Grain-Free}

Peanut butter’s texture, protein, and fat content mean it works extremely well in gluten- and grain-free baking. These cookies have a short ingredient list and include a vegan egg substitute that you likely already have: aquafaba! And that’s to say nothing of that glossy chocolate drizzle.

Friday Favorites: Peanut Butter Cookies​

One Big Peanut Butter Cookie, Two Ways

Here are not one, but two more vegan, gluten-free peanut butter cookie recipes! Either way you bake this recipe, you’ll end up with a single cookie big enough for just one or two people. If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t share your peanut butter, these are for you.

Friday Favorites: Peanut Butter Cookies​

Monster Cookies

Monster Cookies are a peanut butter cookie classic! Made with oats, chocolate chips and M&Ms, they’re chewy, sweet and salty—so good.

What’s your favorite way to make peanut butter cookies? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

Like so many of my favorite recipes, these Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes came to be on a whim. There were no plans; I was just playing around with cornmeal leftover from making Blueberry Corn Muffins on a Wednesday morning when shortcake inspiration struck.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

I set to work making a batch of my trusty Cornmeal Biscuits, which are somewhere between a buttermilk biscuit and cornbread. They’re tender and a touch crumbly, but still pretty sturdy—perfect for shortcakes. I added a little extra sugar and cut them larger than I normally would for maximum surface area.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

I baked them up and let them cool, spending the lag time digging through my fridge for seasonal fruit. I sliced up a couple of perfect nectarines and tossed in some blueberries, then added a few tablespoons of sugar and let them macerate. I also whipped some cream.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

Then I assembled the whole lot. The cooled biscuits were sliced into two thin disks and piled high with whipped cream and fruit, only to be quickly demolished with forks and fingers.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

Oh my goodness, y’all, these Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes are so good. Sweet, but not too sweet. Fluffy, tender, just corny enough. Creamy, fruit-forward. Full-on late summer vibes. Not bad for Wednesday morning baking improv.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes
Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes
makes about 10 shortcakes

2-3 ripe nectarines (or peaches or other stone fruit), thinly sliced
1 cup blueberries
5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 batch Cornmeal Biscuits for Shortcakes (recipe below)

In a small-medium mixing bowl, toss together nectarines, berries and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit (macerate) at room temperature for up to an hour.

When the biscuits are cool and the fruit is ready, make the whipped cream. In a large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to whip cream until stiff peaks form.

Assemble shortcakes. Use a fork to gently split biscuits in half equatorially (it’s okay if they’re not perfect). Gently move the bottom half of a biscuit to a plate. Top with whipped cream and fruit. Place the top half of the biscuit over the top. Garnish with more whipped cream and berries, if desired. Serve immediately.
Cornmeal Biscuits for Shortcakes
makes about 10 shortcakes

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
2/3 cup buttermilk, very cold

For finishing:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and use a pastry blender (or two forks or very clean fingertips) to break it down until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir in buttermilk until a dough forms.

Flour a surface and your fingertips. Turn dough onto the surface and pat until it’s 1/2-inch thick. Use a 2 3/4-inch biscuit cutter to cut biscuits. Make sure to cut directly down—do not twist. Place cut biscuits a couple of inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Chill dough/baking sheet if anything becomes too warm/sticky at anytime in this process.

Bake biscuits 12-15 minutes, or until puffy and golden. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter.

Let biscuits cool until you can handle them. Cool completely before using for shortcakes.

Cornmeal Biscuits are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.
Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes
Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes