Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Dulce De Leche Filling

Today I have some fun things to share with you! I was chosen to participate in OXO’s Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Bake a Difference campaign this year. They partnered with Dorie Greenspan as she prepares to release her new cookbook Dorie’s Cookies in October. So, lucky for me, I received a box of awesome baking goodies (all featured here) and this amazing recipe. For each blogger that participates in this campaign, OXO is donating $100 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. How great is that?!
pumpkin whoopie pies 1

So not only are these yummy, fall flavored whoopie pies amazingly delicious, I’m totally in love with the goodies I’ve added to my baking supplies.
pumpkin whoopie pies 4

Here’s what I got:
OXO goodies

  • OXO’s Non-Stick Pro 12 Cup Muffin Pan – made with ceramic-reinforced, two-layer, commercial-grade coating that provides ultimate non-stick release and is scratch-, stain-, corrosion- and abrasion-resistant. Unique micro-textured pattern ensures even baking
  • OXO’s Medium Cookie Scoop – designed for easy scooping and consistent shaping, it has soft grip handles that absorb pressure while you squeeze to smoothly release your cookie dough
  • OXO’s Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer – includes intuitive digital controls to steadily increase or decrease speed while you are mixing and has a light to guide you! Also features on on-board beater clip, wrap-and-secure cord, and flat, stable base that allows for compact, upright storage…amazing for limited kitchen cabinet space!
  • OXO’s Medium Silicone Spatula – tough enough for scraping, mixing and scooping, this soft, non-slip spatula stays flexible longer without discoloring or melting

Now, for the cookies!
pumpkin whoopie pies 2

for the cookies, you will need:
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ baking powder
½ baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
¾ cup fresh (or frozen) cranberries, coarsely chopped (if frozen, don’t thaw)**

Position oven racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 375°F. Butter or spray two muffin tins, even if they are nonstick.

Whisk the flour, cinnamon, cardamom, baking powder and baking soda together in a bowl and set aside.

Working with a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat for another 2 minutes or so, until creamy. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the pumpkin puree and beat until it’s fully incorporated; don’t be discouraged when the mixture curdles – it will soon smooth out.

Turn off the mixer, scrape down the bowl and add half of the dry ingredients. Pulse to begin the mixing and then mix on low, scraping the bowl as needed, until the flour mixture is blended in. Beat in the buttermilk. Turn off the mixer, add the remaining dry ingredients, pulse and then mix on low until you have a lovely smooth batter. Switch to a flexible spatula and fold in the cranberries. Don’t be too thorough – it’s better to have an uneven mix than to break the berries and turn the batter red.
batter & spatula

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop out level portions of dough, or use a tablespoon to get rounded spoonfuls, and fill the muffin tines. The scoops of dough will sit upright in the center of the tins, but when baked they’ll melt evenly into the cups.
muffin tins

Bake for 11 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom and front to back after 6 minutes, or until they are puffed, golden brown and springy to the touch.

Transfer the pan to a rack and let the cookies rest for 5 minutes, then turn them out on the racks and allow them to cool completely.

for the filling, you will need:
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
1 cup marshmallow fluff
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
pinch of fine sea salt
¼ cup dulce de leche, homemade or store bought

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, marshmallow fluff, sugar and salt together on medium-high speed, scraping the bowl and beater(s) as needed, for about 3 minutes, until very smooth. Lower the mixer speed, add the dulce de leche and beat until thoroughly blended.

to assemble the whoopie pies:
assembly Using a spoon or a small cookie scoop, place the filling on the flat sides of half of the cookies; sandwich with the other cookies, flat sides down. The cookies can be eaten now, but the filling benefits from a 30-minute stay in the refrigerator. Just be sure to let them come to room temperature before eating them, so the filling is nice and soft.
pumpkin whoopie pies 3

*Whopper-Size Whoopie Pies – Dorie says you can use a large cookie scoop (about 3 tablespoons) to portion out the dough and make 6 really big pies (12 individual cookies). These bake best when you use an insulated baking sheet or stack two sheets one on top of the other. Line the top sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and bake the cookie for 15 to 17 minutes.

*Storing: Unfilled cookies can be kept covered at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Once filled, they can be kept covered in the fridge for a day or two, but they are best the day they’re made!

**Disclaimer: I could not find fresh cranberries ANYWHERE! I checked or called every grocery store within 10 miles of my house, and nada. I did find some frozen ones that were infused with cherry and other juices and so I decided to just leave them out. But, I will surely be making these again in October/November when fresh cranberries are aplenty at my local grocer.

makes: 14 whoopie pies
time: 15 minute prep + 12 minutes baking + 15 minutes assembly
from: Dorie Greenspan

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Late Summer Gazpacho

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{Feelings Friday} Mama Self Care

Mamas. Let’s chat. This #momlife is crazy. Being a mother is amazing; I adore my kid and absolutely positively cannot imagine my life without him. But there are just so many things that fill up my days, weeks, months that sometimes I feel like I might go a little bonkers. Between working full time, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, the dog, maintaining a house and cars, shuttling the kid to school and all of the fun activities, budgeting, you know all the things. There are so many more! I feel hives breaking out as I think of all the stuff on my totally made-up “to do” list.

And sweet Mother of Mercy, three year olds are insane. I understand the term “threenager” now. He’s a tiny dictator, skilled in manipulation. He’s simultaneously adorable, hilarious and maddening. There are times you’d think there is a teenager in the house the way we fight (ex: meltdowns because I flushed his pee instead of him). Other times he has me rolling on the floor laughing (ex: “Mama I slept in my bed all last day…maybe you buy me a new toy or somethin’?”) or bawling because he is so compassionate and sweet (ex: grabs my face with his hands and says “I love you Mama, you know that?”). Its a daily roller coaster of alllll the feels over here.

Plus, lets just add the fact that I am completely and totally in charge of ANOTHER HUMAN LIFE. There’s no manual for that…I’m just making shit up as I go along and hoping to God that something sticks and I raise a kind, compassionate human who spreads love in this crazy world.

After taking care of all of that on a daily basis, the last pieces to get any sort of priority or attention is my marriage and myself, which are arguably the most important to nurture and care for. But when you are just going through the motions and rocking your routine, you think, look at me I’ve got this…don’t stop doing or moving. Then all of the sudden, the craziness just hits to you…like you’ve been treading water for too long and you just have to slow down and cling to the side of the pool for a bit. Then you think to yourself, maybe I should have slowed down, maybe those little things aren’t so important, maybe I need to take a break from the madness. Every time this happens to me, I promise myself I’ll be more proactive and not let myself get to the point of collapse…to let go a bit, to ask for help. It appears I have a lot of conversations with myself 🙂

Why is it so flipping hard to take time for ourselves?! Why do we feel guilty when we do?! We are our own worst enemy, I’m convinced…at least this is the truth in my case. Nobody gives me pressure to do all of the things. I do that to myself! Well, at least admitting you have a problem is the first step…

Self care is a huge goal for me, but one that continues to be so hard. Once I’m stressed, I make myself take time, but it continues to be a challenge for me to be proactive. This summer I had many built-in occasions that allowed me to take time for myself. Between a summer celebration of a college friend’s elopement, an NYC birthday weekend for my lovely mama, and a bachelorette weekend for a dear friend, I had a lot of fun trips. Oh, and some seriously good girlfriend time. It was good for my soul. I did miss my boys while I was gone and there were some times I let the guilt creep in. But overall, this summer was a reminder of how many wonderful people I have in my life and how lucky I am to have a support network that encourages me to take care of myself.

Here are a few snapshots of my summer adventures:

BFF reunion & classy celebration of recent nuptials

BFF reunion & classy celebration of recent nuptials

Feast at Chelsea Market

Feast at Chelsea Market

Mama Cheater Bite & I in Times Square

Mama Cheater Bite & I in Times Square

Bacheloretting in Folly Beach

Bacheloretting in Folly Beach

Celebrating this sassy gal becomming a Mrs.

Celebrating this sassy gal becoming a Mrs.

This weekend, I get to spend away with my wonderful hubby for more celebrating: a wedding in Baltimore and my sis-in-law’s 30th birthday celebration in Arlington. Its going to be great and I’m going to savor every minute, so that next week, when I’m stressed and feeling weighed down by all of the “should do’s,” I’m going to stop and be thankful for the time to celebrate.

So really, all this self care business is not only good for the mama, but for the whole family. How do you all take time for self-care? Please share your wisdom!!

Let’s help each other do better at this! Hands in ladies…

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Curried Cauliflower & Kale Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is one of my favorite things. I want to say grains, but it isn’t actually a grain; its a seed. I have found that most people either love or hate it, and I am firmly in the love camp. I’m always on the hunt for a new variation of this yummy super-food for my lunch or a tasty side to serve with dinner. I honestly don’t cook with curry powder too frequently, but when I saw this recipe I knew I would love it…and I do. The flavors are awesome together. I will definitely be adding this to the quinoa-for-lunch rotation!
curried cauliflower & kale quinoa

you will need:
1 cup quinoa
salt & pepper
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
4 teaspoons curry powder, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
½ cup raisins
juice of ½ lemon

Cook the cup of quinoa according to package directions and set aside to cool after seasoning with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 425°F and prepare the cauliflower. Toss pieces with 2 teaspoons of curry powder, 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil and salt and pepper. Spread cauliflower out on a non-stick baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes until tender and browned.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons coconut to a large pan set over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the chopped kale and cook until bright green and slightly wilted, about 5 minutes.

Add the cooked quinoa and cauliflower to the pan with the kale. Toss well, then add raisins, lemon juice and season generously with salt and pepper. Eat warm, room temperature or cold, all of the above are delicious!

serves: 4-6
time: 30 minutes
from: adapted only slightly Fooduzzi

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{Where to Shop Wednesday} Colette Paperie

It’s been a while since I’ve done a w-t-s post! I’m back at it this week with a totally non-food related suggestion for you all…Colette Paperie.

I love witty cards…both getting them and sending them. Last year I found Keli last year at the Handmade Arcade and stood at her table cracking up for a good 15 minutes. I purchased some cards then and have since in her online shop.

Here are a few of my favorites:


Go buy some awesome cards in Keli’s online shop now! You’ll give the best cards for all of your upcoming weddings, baby showers and just-cause-you-feel-like-it occasions. You’re welcome 🙂

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{Lightened Up} Eggplant Parm Stacks

Eggplant Parmesan is a delicious dinner, however I always spend the rest of the evening feeling super stuffed. Its a heavy dinner that is more suited for cold weather, but when I got it in the farmshare last week I had a strong desire to bread it :). This recipe is a lighter take on the traditional preparation, keeping the slices separate, limiting the amount of cheese and omitting the heavy tomato sauce. Honestly, I’d take this version over the traditional any time of year.
eggplant parm stacks

I suggest serving with some pasta and simple tomato sauce. I like Trader Joe’s Arrabiatta sauce, it packs a nice flavor for a jar of tomato sauce. Connor says its too spicy for him, so we always have some basic tomato basil variety on hand. Also, leftovers of these eggplant stacks reheat very well in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes. This is an easy dish to whip together on a weeknight and feels much more decadent than it is! That’s a win in my book, for sure.

you will need:
1 medium or 2 small eggplants, peeled and sliced into ½ inch rounds (about 15 slices)
kosher salt
¾ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon each freshly ground salt and pepper
1 cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup regular bread crumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 large eggs, beaten
olive oil for pan frying
2-8 ounce balls fresh mozzarella cheese, thickly sliced (about 15 slices)
2 large heirloom tomato or 4-5 plum tomatoes, thickly sliced (about 15 slices)
15 or so leaves of fresh basil
balsamic reduction for drizzling (I LOVE this Cream of Balsamic and always have some in my fridge)

Lay the eggplant slices in a colander or on a wire cooling rack and sprinkle generously with salt and let sit for an hour for the bitter juices to weep. Rinse the eggplant with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. While the eggplant is sitting, prepare your breading ingredients. In one bowl combine the flour, salt and pepper. In a second bowl combine the panko, bread crumbs, parmesan, dried basil and garlic powder. In a third bowl beat the eggs.

Dip each eggplant slice in the flour mixture, then the egg, then the bread crumb mixture. Make sure each slice is fully coated before moving on to the next bowl. Place each breaded slice on a baking sheet until ready to cook.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. You will need to add more oil for a new batch of eggplant slices.

Fry breaded eggplant slices in batches until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. When cooked, set the eggplant slices on a baking sheet. When all eggplant is cooked, top each slice with a piece of mozzarella, then a basil leaf, then a tomato slice. Broil on high until sizzling and tomatoes begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes.

Take out of the oven and drizzle with balsamic reduction/cream of balsamic and serve immediately alongside some pasta with a simple tomato sauce.

serves: 4
time: 15 min prep + 15 min cooking

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Fried Green Tomato BLTs

Every time I travel to the south, I can’t get enough fried green tomatoes. They are just so delicious. I’ve been wanting to make them myself and after I saw some other bloggers posting yummy photos involving these seasonal treats, I decided the time was now! One of the best food decisions I’ve ever made. This was an easy sandwich to whip up and felt so indulgent since it is not something I usually make.
fgt blt 2Honestly, I could just eat a whole plate of the fried green tomatoes with the aioli, but the sandwiches come with bacon, which is always a welcome addition. 🙂
fgt blt 1for the tomatoes, you will need:
2 medium/large sized green tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch slices
salt & pepper
½ cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 eggs, beaten
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of paprika
canola oil

Season tomato slices on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside on a paper towel. Set up 3 shallow dishes for the breading. One for flour and garlic powder, another for the eggs and the third for the panko, parmesan, cayenne and paprika. Dredge tomatoes in the flour, then the eggs, then the bread crumbs.

In a large frying pan, add canola oil until it fills the pan up to a ¼ inch on the sides of the pan. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and set aside until ready to serve.

for the sandwiches, you will need:
6 slices cooked, crispy thick-cut bacon
4 slices hearty bread, toasted
6-8 pieces of lettuce
several heaping tablespoons of a spicy aioli (like this one)

Cook the bacon and clean and set aside the lettuce. Toast the bread, then slather both slices with the aioli or just plain mayo. Add tomatoes to two slices of bread, top with bacon and lettuce and top with the second slice of bread. Slice and serve! Crunch, yummy, awesomeness.

serves: 2
time: 30 minutes
recipe inspired by: How Sweet Eats

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Summer Corn & Zucchini Chowder

Summer corn is one of my favorite vegetables. I could just eat a whole dinner of 3 ears of corn, and maybe a plate of heirloom tomatoes. That is summer happiness right there. When I saw this recipe, I knew I needed to make it ASAP. Then, as fate would have it, I got 5 of the key ingredients in my CSA one week and knew this needed to come out of my kitchen pronto.

This chowder totally lived up to my expectations and I loved every bite! What’s your favorite recipe for summer corn?! I have so many, but am always looking for more!
corn & zucchini chowder

you will need:
4 strips bacon, chopped
1 cup chopped sweet onion
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 small/medium carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
handful fresh thyme
4-5 small red potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups water
4 ears of fresh sweet corn, grilled and kernels cut from cob
1 medium zucchini, diced
½ cup half and half or whole milk
handful fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
pinch of cayenne

In a wide sauce pan or dutch oven, cook the bacon until brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic and thyme. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes more.

Add potatoes, water and bay leaf. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a simmer. Lower the heat back to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the zucchini and simmer for another 10 minutes or until vegetables are completely tender. Add in the corn and allow to heat up, about 2 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf and then transfer 2 cups of chowder to a food process or blend with an immersion blender. Puree until smooth, then stir back into the remaining mixture in the pot. Add the half and half or milk and cook just until heated up. Taste for salt and pepper.

Serve with fresh basil and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and voila, summer yummy in a bowl.

serves: 4
time: 15 minutes prep + 45 minutes cooking
adapted slightly from: Little Broken

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Cheesy Corn and Veggie Dip

I love a good party dip. I’ve been know to saddle up next to the snack table at a family get together and eat so much chips and dip that I basically have no room left for dinner. This dip is no exception. Despite the fact that this is packed with things like tons of cheese, mayo and sour cream, it has like a ton of veggies in it…so its pretty healthy, too…
cheesy corn & veggie dip 1

This recipe makes a lot, but reheats really well in both the microwave and oven throughout the week. It just makes your day better knowing this can be your after work snack…take it from me. Definitely make this for your next get together or cookout!
cheesy corn & veggie dip 2

Also, word to the wise…this recipe is a lactose intolerant eater’s nightmare because all you want to do is stuff your face with it and its going to just destroy your stomach 🙁 I had lots of Lactaid on hand for this one.

you will need:
5 ears of corn, grilled
vegetable oil
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic
½ large red onion, diced
1 red and 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup mayo
½ cup sour cream
1 pound monterey jack cheese, shredded
2 green onions, sliced
1 can diced green chilies
chili powder for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350°F. Clean corn and brush it with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes on a grill pan or on a grill, turning frequently. Remove from heat and let cool, then cut kernels off of the cobs and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic, onion, peppers and jalapeno. Cook until soft and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, mayo and sour cream until well combined. Mix in approximately 2/3 of the shredded cheese until combined. Add in the green onions, corn, veggie mixture and green chilies and mix until just combined.

Spread mixture in a baking dish and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or veggies.

serves: 10-12
time: 40 minutes
from: Pioneer Woman

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{Where to Shop Wednesday} Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee

I’m an iced coffee addict. Once sunny spring days hit, I just can’t get enough. I could go to Dunkin or Starbucks daily for my fix, but that would be very bad for my wallet. So in order to not spend all of my fun money on coffee, I’ve been trying a few different store bought cold brew options this summer to see if they do the trick, and I’m having some luck.
Cold Brew

I really liked Chameleon Cold Brew’s vanilla concentrate. I liked it best diluted with water a bit and with a hefty pour of vanilla soy creamer or coconut milk and lots of ice. I don’t need any sweetener. I totally want to try their Texas Pecan flavor, but haven’t seen it anywhere around Pittsburgh.

What’s your favorite cold brew? Please share with me!

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