Gingerbread Streusel Muffins with Caramel Icing

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I have always loved Christmas, but no one told me that it would be so much better as an adult watching your kids open gifts than when you’re little. Twinkling lights, festive tunes playing in the background, tiny shreds of paper and tape infesting every fiber of my carpet….oh wait. Forget that last part. 😉

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All of that gift opening can really work up an appetite, and I love a big Christmas morning brunch.

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These muffins taste like the holidays to me, and I couldn’t help but add streusel to yet another muffin recipe (Cranberry Orange Muffin, Carrot Cake Muffin. I haven’t heard any complaints yet, but I do admit these have a lot of topping. Feel free to cut that portion in half if you prefer.

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The caramel icing really puts the muffins over the top. Despite how they look, they aren’t overly sweet, which is nice at a time of year when cookies and candy abound.

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Recipe heavily adapted from Fork Knife Swoon

Gingerbread Streusel Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 small/medium) very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or sub dairy milk)
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    Streusel
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter-melted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
    Caramel Icing
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray or line a 12 cup muffin pan and set aside.
  • To make streusel topping in a medium bowl stir together 1 cup all-purpose flour, ⅔ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon salt, add 1 /2 cup melted unsalted butter melted and stir it with a fork until crumbly, set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mash banana with a fork. Add in egg, mix well to combine. Stir in the vanilla, oil, milk, yogurt and molasses, stir until completely combine. Add in the sugars, mix.
  • Add the baking powder, spices, salt and baking soda and stir to combine. Fold in the flour until just mixed. Do not over-mix.
  • Use a cookie scoop to divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups, about 3/4 full. Top each muffin with streusel topping.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees, and bake for an additional 7-9 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Let cool in the muffin tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.
  • For the icing, For frosting, in a microwave safe bowl, melt butter. Add brown sugar; cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from microwave cool for 3 minutes. Stir in the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve a thick pouring consistency. Drizzle over muffins.
  • Serve warm or at room-temperature.
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    http://blondegirlcravings.com/2016/12/19/gingerbread-streusel-muffins-with-caramel-icing/

    One-Pot Chicken Marsala Pasta

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    Holidays man. They’re killing me this year! Even though I planned ahead, it seems like the time is flying by and I don’t seem to have enough time to fit it all in. Anyone else with me?

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    How is a person supposed to impress guests with a 5 course meal and have time to do it all? They aren’t, that’s how! Bring on the one-pot meals. Limited dishes, people pleasing meals that can be adapted to your tastes.

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    This pasta is one that I would be more than happy to serve to holiday guests. I took the traditional chicken Marsala dish and made it about as easy as a meal could possibly get. Serve with extra cheese and a sprinkle of parsley on top and you have a dish that will impress any holiday guest and-dare I say- leave you a little extra time to actually enjoy the holidays?!

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    One-Pot Chicken Marsala Pasta

    Ingredients

    • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
    • 1 pound mushrooms (button or cremini)
    • 1 tablespoon oil
    • 3 tablespoons butter
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced (I used roasted garlic)
    • 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
    • 1 cup Marsala wine
    • 1 lb short cut pasta of your choice
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
    • ¼ cup heavy cream
    • Parsley, to garnish

    Instructions

  • In a deep saute pan, heat the oil, then melt the butter.
  • Add in the chicken. Stir often and cook until chicken is browned on each side, about 8 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and garlic, cook until mushrooms are just browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pot to pull up any browned bits. Add the broth and pasta.
  • Bring to a low boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally, until the pasta is cooked to al dente, When the pasta is cooked and the sauce has reduced, mix in the parmesan cheese and heavy cream. Stir to combine, until it is all warm. Garnish with parsley and serve, topping with additional cheese if desired.
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    http://blondegirlcravings.com/2016/12/12/one-pot-chicken-marsala-pasta/

    Lemon Coconut Biscotti with White Chocolate

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    This holiday season, I have decided to switch things up a bit and not make my normal “traditional” recipes. Instead of the same cookie and candy tray I usually make, I think I will give homemade granola for gifts, or these biscotti. Recipes that will keep for a long time, but aren’t as sweet as the expected holiday fare.

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    These biscotti are so light and lemony, the perfect treat with a cup of tea. I love the combination of lemon and coconut and the white chocolate on top give the perfect amount of sweetness. They ship well and keep for a long time. Wrap individually and they will stay fresh even longer.

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    Recipe adapted from Laughing Spatula

    Lemon Coconut Biscotti with White Chocoate

    Ingredients

    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    • ⅔ cup sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about one medium lemon)
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
    • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
    • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
    • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
      Garnish:
    • 1 cup shredded coconut
    • 1 package white chocolate chips

    Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • In a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter, sugar, salt, lemon rind, almond extract, and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Beat in the lemon juice and eggs. Slowly add the flour, mixing until smooth. The dough will be sticky, I recommend flouring your hands or spatula when shaping the dough.
  • Tun the dough onto a large baking sheet with parchment or silicone mat.. Shape it into a log that’s about 13" long x 3" wide x 3⁄4" thick. Try to straighten the sides and smooth the top the best you can.
  • Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool on the pan anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes.. Reduce the oven heat to 325°F.
  • Use a serrated knife to cut the log crosswise into 1⁄2" slices.
  • Place the biscotti back on the prepared baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven, and bake them for 30 to 35 minutes, till they feel very dry and are beginning to turn golden around the edges. Biscotti will harden as they cool, so do not over-bake. Cool biscotti on wire rack.
  • While biscotti cool, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. Place the coconut on a large plate. Dip biscotti into chocolate, then in coconut. Allow chocolate to set. Store biscotti in an air tight container for up to 3 weeks.
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    http://blondegirlcravings.com/2016/12/05/lemon-biscotti/

    Grilled Kielbasa Sandwich

    Hello winter, I have been dreading your arrival. You can hurry up and leave now please! Now that the cold days and even colder nights have arrived, I crave comfort food. This sandwich is perfect for the nights when the kids are gone and I want something filling that won’t feed and army.

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    The sandwich consists of all the things I love: cheese, sourdough, sauerkraut and kielbasa. Mmmm I am drooling just thinking about it! Of course, if you are going to open a can of kraut and cook the sausage, you might want to make more than one sandwich, but I find that both ingredients freeze well. Depending on how thick you slice the kielbasa, you may need to put a weight on the sandwich while it cooks, like a heavy skillet.

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    Grilled Kielbasa Sandwich

    Yield: 4 sandwiches

    Ingredients

    • 13 oz package kielbasa (I used turkey kielbasa)
    • 14 oz can sauerkraut
    • 1 package sliced Swiss or provolone cheese
    • 8 slices sourdough bread
    • butter

    Instructions

  • Cook kielbasa according to package instructions. While kielbasa is cooking, drain sauerkraut well.
  • Heat skillet over medium heat. Butter two slices of bread. Slice the sausage into 1/4 inch slices, and layer cheese, kielbasa and sauerkraut onto bread. Place sandwich, butter side down, into preheated pan. Cook until golden and cheese is starting to melt, then flip and cook on other side. Serve immediately.
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    http://blondegirlcravings.com/2016/11/28/grilled-kielbasa-sandwich/

    Chewy, Fudgy Chocolate Chip Brookies

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    These bars are my love language. Brownies and chocolate cookies are two of my favorite desserts, and to combine the two?? I am disappointed with myself that it took me 29 years to try this. Honestly though, what held me back was sheer laziness. I have only ever seen “brookies” in cookie form, not bars. So when I saw these one day while cruising through Pinterest, I knew I must try. So much simpler than having to form the two dough’s together, just spread them in a pan and get them in the oven!

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    The recipe is from Cookies & Cows, and its everything I could ever dream of. Chewy, melty, chocoaltely. Absolute perfection in every bite. And topped with a scoop and vanilla ice cream might seem excessive to some, but to me would be the best. thing. EVER.

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    Recipe Source: Cookies & Cows

    Chewy, Fudgy Chocolate Chip Brookies

    Ingredients

    • Cookies
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2 eggs
    • 2½ cups all-­purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 11.5 ounces milk chocolate chips
      Brownies
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ½ cup canola oil
    • ½ cup all-­purpose flour
    • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
    • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
    • ¼ teaspoon salt

    Instructions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°
  • 2. Grease a 9x13­inch pan and set aside.
  • Cookies:
  • 1. In a large mixing bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
  • 2. Add the brown sugar and sugar. Stir until completely combined. All of the butter should be incorporated into the
  • sugar!
  • 3. Then add the vanilla and eggs. Stir to combine.
  • 4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture, stirring just until
  • combined.
  • 5. Fold in the chocolate chips. Set aside.
  • Brownies:
  • 1. In a large mixing bowl combine the sugar, eggs and vanilla.
  • 2. Add the oil and stir until completely combined.
  • 3. In a small mixing bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
  • 4. Add to the sugar mixture, stirring just until combined.
  • 5. Pour the brownie batter into the 9x13­inch pan and spread it evenly.
  • 6. Place in the oven at 350° for 5 minutes.
  • 7. Remove the brownies after 5 minutes and top with the chocolate chip cookie batter. Drop spoonfuls of the batter
  • across the pan, then gently spread until the brownie is completely covered. This will be easier than with other
  • brookie recipes because of the melted butter.
  • 8. Place the pan back in the oven and continue to bake for 25­30 minutes.
  • 9. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • 10. Use a plastic knife to cut into squares.
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    http://blondegirlcravings.com/2016/11/21/chewy-fudgy-chocolate-chip-brookies/

    Blackberry Lime Scones

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    Comfort: That word has so many definitions for different people. For me, my ultimate comfort is Saturday morning. Wrapped in a fuzzy blanket on the couch, a cup of hot coffee in hand, and a delicious pastry at my side. No rush, just cuddling with my babies and basking in two days free of work and responsibility. Perfect comfort for me.

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    These scones make the perfect lazy weekend morning snack. So tender, with the perfect crumb. The berries and lime zest add the perfect amount of tart to go with the sweet!

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    These freeze fantastic, just heat in the microwave for 30 seconds and they will be just as delicious for a quick weekday morning treat.

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    Blackberry Lime Scones

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups flour
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup cold butter
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • zest of one lime
    • 1 tablespoon lime juice
    • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 egg
    • 1 pint blackberries*
      Glaze
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 3-4 tablespoons lime juice, plus more if needed.

    Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the blackberries, tossing to coat. Shred the cold butter with a box grater. Add to the flour mixture and toss gently. Place bowl in the freezer to keep cold. Mix together the cream, lime juice, lime zest and egg with a fork. Place in fridge to keep cold. Line a baking sheet with silicone mat or parchment paper. Add cream and egg mixture to the flour. Stir just until combined.
  • On a well floured surface, knead the scone dough just until combined. Press dough into a 1 1/2 inch thick circle. Cut into eight pieces with a sharp knife, or into circles using a biscuit cutter. Place on cookie sheet, if desired brush with additional cream. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden around edges. Move to wire rack to cool.
  • To make glaze, mix the powdered sugar and lime juice until thick but pour-able. Pour glaze over scones, allow to set before serving.
  • *Frozen blackberries can be used, do not thaw.
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    http://blondegirlcravings.com/2016/11/14/blackberry-lime-scones/

    Bacon Ranch Cheesy Bread

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    I have been doing a cleanse/detox, and its amazing how much better I feel. I usually eat pretty well, but I still feel better when every now and then I rid my body of some of those toxins that are part of our world now.

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    That being said, some days a girl just needs some comfort. No comfort was ever found in a salad or green smoothie, and that’s where cheesy carbs come into play. Its all about balance I say! I served this bread with homemade tomato soup and didn’t feel the least bit bad about eating it.

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    Cheesy bacon covered carbs are where it’s at! I used a loaf of Homemade French Bread, but store bought is perfect for this recipe. This bread makes a perfect side dish, is delicious paired with a salad, and is a great snack for football watching.

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    Recipe adapted from: Mom On Time Out

    Bacon Ranch Cheesy Bread

    Ingredients

    • 1 loaf of French bread
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
    • 1 tbsp ranch dressing mix
    • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mixture of cheddar and jack)
    • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
    • 2 tbsp sliced green onion

    Instructions

  • Preheat the broiler, and line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the loaf of bread in half lengthwise.
  • In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, butter, ranch, shredded cheese, bacon and green onion.
  • Spread the cheese mixture on each half of the bread. Place under the broiler until golden brown, about 7 to 9 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly before cutting into pieces and serving.
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    http://blondegirlcravings.com/2016/11/07/bacon-ranch-cheesy-bread/

    Hot Cocoa Mix

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    Sibling rivalry. It’s making me crazy people. I love those two kids of mine, but why they insist on arguing about everything that ever existed is beyond me. I remember my mother telling my brother and I when we were little that someday we would have kids that would fight, and we too, would go crazy. Well guess what, she wasn’t wrong. I may have to lock them in separate rooms until….14 years from now.

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    Hot cocoa is one of my kids’ favorite winter treats, and instant cocoa mix is so simple to make. Just a few ingredients and you have a large batch of mix ready to get you through the colder months. I love hot cocoa because it’s so easily customized. Add a pinch of cayenne and cinnamon, caramel sauce, peppermint schnapps, peanut butter. Something for everyone, and hopefully, no arguments included!

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    Recipe Source: Alton Brown

    Hot Cocoa Mix

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
    • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
    • 2 1/2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
    • 1 teaspoon fine-grain salt
    • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

    Instructions

  • Combine the confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, milk powder, salt and cornstarch in a large airtight container. Secure the lid and shake vigorously to combine, and remember to shake prior to every use.
  • To serve: Place 2 tablespoons of the mix in a mug and add about 2 fluid ounces hot water or milk. Stir to combine. Fill the mug with more hot water or milk and enjoy.
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    http://blondegirlcravings.com/2016/10/31/hot-cocoa-mix/

    Pumpkin Spice Churro Bites and Caramel Sauce

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    Its me, and I’m back with another pumpkin recipe! Although, this one doesn’t include any acutal pumpkin. Just pupmkin pie spice, and lots of butter and cinnamon 🙂

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    Churros are delicious, but I don’t like deep frying so its something I don’t do often. These churro bites come together with just a handful of ingredients and are a fun snack to make for guests. I used store bought caramel sauce, but if you have the time I strongly recommend making this Pumpkin Caramel Sauce. So good!!!!!!!!!!!

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    These are best served immediately, but I did freeze most of them and then popped in the microwave for a few minutes to defrost and they were still delicious.

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    Pumpkin Spice Churro Bites and Caramel Sauce

    Ingredients

    • 1 puff pastry sheet-thawed
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter-melted
    • 1 cup caramel sauce

    Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450 F and line cookie sheet with parchment paper, silpat, or spray with cooking spray.
  • Unfold the puff pastry and cut it in half (lengthwise), then cut into strips (less than 1 inch wide)
  • Gently transfer the strips onto baking sheets and bake 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.
  • While the churros are baking melt the butter and set aside.
  • Combine cinnamon, pumpkin spice and sugar and set aside.
  • While they are still warm, roll baked churro sticks into melted butter ( don't soak them, just coat all the sides) then roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll and dip one stick at the time.
  • Serve with caramel sauce. Churro bites freeze well, just heat in microwave for 20 seconds to defrost.
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    http://blondegirlcravings.com/2016/10/24/pumpkin-spice-churro-bites-and-caramel-sauce/

    Recipe adapted from OMGChocolateDesserts