Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Maple Egg Nog Cupcakes

My best friend and I have a tradition. Every year we get our families together, for one evening the week before Christmas and have coffees, dessert and exchange gifts with each other. We have been friends for 20 years, had our first babies 10 months apart 14 years ago (both girls... also very best friends), can talk on the phone (literally... just ask our husbands) for up to 3 hours at a time, have fought and made up where another set of friends would have given up, have been with each other through babies, moves, marriages, deaths, job changes/losses, business openings/closings, family drama, friend drama, selfishness, selflessness, fear, joy, pain, health scares, heartache, happiness and everything in between. I love her. We are so opposite it's almost laughable but we gel and share a closeness that I value and cherish deeply. We usually do this Christmas get-together at my house but this year we are doing it at hers. See... this year she had a new baby (a surprise baby!) so I figured it'd be easier to go to her since she has 4 kids and I only have 2 :) Another great part about our tradition is that my mom is a part of it. She comes over and she and my bff exchange gifts as well. She's coming tonight too. I decided I'd make a treat to take. I came up with these cupcakes this morning and they are awesome. I'm taking them tonight and wanted to share so you can make them for one of your holiday gatherings this week.

Maple Egg Nog Cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter
2C maple syrup
3 eggs
1t vanilla
2 1/2C flour
1T baking powder
1t salt
1/2t nutmeg
1/2C milk
1/2C egg nog

Heat oven to 350 and line muffin tins with cute little Christmas liners. Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream butter until it's light and fluffy then add the syrup. Add eggs, one at a time then add vanilla. Alternate the dry ingredients and milk/egg nog and combine well. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 15-18 minutes. Cool completely.

Cream topping

1 1/2C whipping cream
2t vanilla
2C powdered sugar
nutmeg (for dusting)

Whip the cream till it forms soft peaks then add the vanilla and sugar and whip until it forms stiff peaks (fairly stiff too... you want it to hold up). Pipe onto the cupcakes and dust each one with a light sprinkle of nutmeg.

Merry Christmas! Enjoy this week with people you love so much and make sure they know it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pumpkin Granola

I've posted a granola recipe once before and granola is not rocket science but I do feel like a lot of people are afraid to make it at home, or maybe feel like it's difficult. It isn't and I want to share this recipe with you so you can see how simple it is, make your own adjustments and enjoy a dish at home. It's perfect for the season and even more perfect for breakfast at the holidays.

Happiest of holidays to you and yours!

Pumpkin Granola

3C rolled oats
1/2C pureed pumpkin
1/4C hazelnut (or almond) oil
2T honey
2T maple syrup
1/2t cinnamon
1/2t nutmeg
1/2C dried cranberries
1C chopped pecans
1C mini chocolate chips

Heat an oven to 350 and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. In a large bowl combine; oats, pumpkin, oil, honey, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg (make sure you really mix these ingredients so all of the pumpkin is combined). Pour out onto the prepared baking sheet and spread this and evenly. Bake for 10 minutes. Stir, spread again and bake another 10 minutes then add the cranberries and bake 5 minutes. Stir and add pecans. Bake a final 5-10 minutes (watch it closely so it's browned but not burned). Remove and cool completely on the pan then stir in the chocolate chips and store in an airtight container for up to one week.