Hot Cocoa Mix


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.



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!



Recipe Source: Alton Brown

Hot Cocoa Mix


  • 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


  • 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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    Pumpkin Spice Churro Bites and Caramel Sauce


    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 🙂


    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!!!!!!!!!!!


    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.


    Pumpkin Spice Churro Bites and Caramel Sauce


    • 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


  • 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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    Recipe adapted from OMGChocolateDesserts

    Fall Recipe Roundup


    Golden leaves falling, crisp mornings, pumpkins and apples everywhere. Fall is here! I’ve compiled a roundup of some of my favorite fall recipes from the past years on the blog. From sweet to savory, there’s something to satisfy any craving!


    Slow Cooker Taco Soup


    Salted Caramel Sauce


    Pumpkin Spice White Chocolate Caramel Corn


    Pumpkin & Chicken Sausage Pasta


    Caramel Pumpkin Spice Italian Soda


    Pumpkin Cornbread with Compound Butter-2 ways!


    Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Rolls


    Caramel Apple Popcorn


    Broccoli Cheddar Soup in Bread Bowls


    Harvest Salad


    Sausage Ricotta & Pumpkin Pizza


    Pumpkin Pie Biscotti

    Harvest Salad


    The season of hearty, calorie laden comfort food is upon us! I do love big bowls of chowder, pumpkin bread and anything creamy and cheesy as much as the next person, but my motto is “everything in moderation.” I eat a lot of salad, and I really do love it. I ate my fill of caprese and salads topped with fresh corn  and garden tomatoes this summer, but now fall produce is getting its turn.


    Spring mix is topped with crisp apples, tart dried cranberries, candied pecans, blue cheese and a simple balsamic vinaigrette. A perfect way to enjoy fall flavors while being both light and delicious.


    While you could buy candied pecans, homemade are so simple to make and completely customize-able. Add a little cinnamon or even a pinch cayenne for flavor. If you want to switch it up some, replace the apples with pears and the blue cheese with goat cheese.


    Harvest Salad


    • 5 ounces of mixed gourmet/spring greens
    • 1 apple (I used Fuji), cored and chopped (to equal about 1¼ cups)
    • 1 cup candied pecans
    • ⅔ cup dried cranberries
    • 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 1½ tablespoons pure maple syrup
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • ½ teaspoon smooth dijon mustard
    • a pinch (about 1/16 teaspoon) kosher salt
      Candied Pecans
    • 1 cup pecans
    • 1½ tablespoons packed brown sugar
    • 1½ teaspoons water
    • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla
    • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt


  • For pecans: Mix together all ingredients but the pecans. In a medium-large saucepan over medium heat, toast pecans for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. When you begin to smell them, they're done.
  • Quickly drizzle the sugar mixture into the pan, on top of the pecans, stirring the nuts as you drizzle. Stir constantly for about 15 seconds, until the pecans are thoroughly coated in the sugar mixture. Immediately remove from heat so they don't burn.
  • Spread the pecans on a piece of parchment to cool. Once cooled, you can break the nuts apart, if needed.
  • Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container. The pecans will be slightly sticky at first, but the coating hardens further within a few hours.
  • For the salad: Place greens in a large serving bowl (or divide it among individual salad plates).
  • Sprinkle apples, pecans, cranberries, and cheese over top of greens.
  • For dressing, whisk together balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, mustard, and salt until emulsified.
  • Dress salad just before serving.
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    Recipe Source: Two Healthy Kitchens

    Sausage and Pumpkin Pizza


    Anyone else feel as blue as I do when fall comes around? Something about the end of summer, school starting and the approach of winter gets we all kinds of melancholy every year.

    This year I am going to try to battle the “fall blues” by trying to actually enjoy the season. I know, who would have thought???


    Naturally, part of enjoying fall is eating all the pumpkin things. I wanted something that isn’t a baked good, and this pizza didn’t disappoint.


    I used my favorite pizza dough recipe, and with a short ingredient list this pizza comes together in a snap. Don’t skip the pumpkin seeds on the top, they add the perfect crunch! I know the combo seems a bit different than the pizza you are used to , but trust me this was delicious!


    If you are looking for another fun dinner idea using pumpkin try my Pumpkin and Chicken Sausage Pasta. YUM!


    Sausage and Pumpkin Pizza


    • One recipe Fast and Easy Pizza Dough
    • 1 lb. Italian sausage, browned and drained of grease
    • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
    • ½ cup pumpkin puree
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
    • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
    • ½ cup pumpkin seeds (pepita)


  • Preheat the oven according to 450 degrees. Roll out pizza dough to desired thickness.
  • Mix together the ricotta cheese, pumpkin puree, the salt, garlic powder and oregano in a bowl.
  • Divide the mixture in half and spread equally on the pizza dough.
  • Spread the sausage, mozzarella cheese and pumpkin seeds evenly on pizza.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, or until crust is crisp and cheese is melted.
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    Pumpkin Biscotti


    Can we talk for a minute about how being an adult is the worst? I keep telling my kids, but they don’t believe me. Guess that is their loss, they are going to grow up someday and wish they hadn’t!


    I just paid the bill from my tonsilectomy this summer. Not my favorite check to write, but that is part of adulting, right? If you need me, I will be nursing my woes with a cup of coffee and a few of these biscotti.


    Perfectly spiced, with a drizzle of chocolate and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds. These aren’t so hard that you will chip a tooth, but the perfect texture for dunking. They make a big batch, so they are perfect for sharing. Maybe with your fellow bill paying adult friend? 😉

    Pumpkin Biscotti


    • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin purée
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup chopped pumpkin seeds


  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  • Using a mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder and salt until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and pumpkin purée and continue beating. Add the flour and beat just until combined. (The dough will be very sticky.)
  • Transfer the dough onto the prepared baking sheet and divide it in half. Shape each piece into two 10x2 1/2-inch logs then pat the logs into rectangles.
  • Bake the biscotti for 25 minutes then remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325ºF.
  • Transfer the biscotti to a cutting board and using a sharp knife, cut each rectangle into 12 slices at a diagonal. Return the biscotti to the baking sheet, standing them up on the bottom edge and spacing them about 1 inch apart.
  • Return the biscotti to the oven and bake for an additional 25 minutes until golden and crispy. (The biscotti will still be soft in the centers.) Turn off the oven, crack open the oven door and let the biscotti cool in the oven. Once they are completely cool, remove the biscotti from the oven.
  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler until smooth. Drizzle the biscotti with the chocolate then sprinkle them with the chopped pumpkin seeds. Let cool until the chocolate fully hardens. Serve or store in an air-tight container at room temperature.
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    Recipe Source Just a Taste

    Caramel Apple Recipe Roundup


    I’ve compiled a round-up for you of all the Caramel Apple recipes from Caramel Apple Week’s 2014 & 2015, all in one handy list. I hope you find an idea to inspire you, and that caramel recipe really to die for! If you don’t feel like taking the time to dip the apples, try my Salted Caramel Sauce for a delicious dip for apple slices!

    #blondegirlcravings and show me your caramel apple creations!

    caramelapplepopcorn (1 of 1)-2

    Caramel Apple Popcorn

    tropicalapple (1 of 1)-3

    Tropical Caramel Apple

    granolaapple (1 of 1)

    Granola Crunch Caramel Apple

    cookiesapple (1 of 1)

    Cookies & Cream Caramel Apple

    applepieapple (1 of 1)-4

    Apple Pie Caramel Apple

    monkeyapple (1 of 1)

    Chunky Monkey Caramel Apple

    peanutbutterapple (1 of 1)

    Peanut Butter Lovers Caramel Apple


    Turtle Caramel Apple


    Smore’s Caramel Apple


    Samoa Caramel Apple


    Cranberry Bliss Caramel Apple


    Almond Joy Caramel Apple

    the kitchen sink

    Kitchen Sink Caramel Apple


    Ball park Caramel Apple

    Mary’s Maine bars

    One of the best parts of blogging, aside from getting to taste test lots of great food, is the opportunity to work with some awesome brands. Sponsored opportunities are part of what makes a blog possible, and when given the chance to help a meaningful charity its a win-win!


    Last year I participated in Cookies For Kid’s Cancer, and recently got and email  asking if I would like to participate in Bake a Difference with OXO for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and Dorie Greenspan. I would be sent some awesome baking supplies from OXO and make a recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook Dorie’s Cookies, being released in October 2016. The cookie book delves into over 200 recipes from classics to brownies to savory cookies. Cookies for Kid’s Cancer will be donating $100 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for each blog post (up to our $100,000 commitment.) As you can Imagine, I was giddy when the box of goodies arrived on my doorstep. I received the following:

    Glass 3 Qt Baking Dish with Lid
    Glass 2 Qt Baking Dish with Lid
    Brownie Spatula
    Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer

    I selected Mary’s Maine Bars for my recipe. I am feeling all the fall recipes right now, and these molasses and spice bars sounded like a home-run to me. I served them with whipped cream, and they made the perfect fall dessert. They would be a wonderful addition to a holiday spread as well!


    I have included some pictures of the bake-ware in action, but it’s hard to tell from pictures what high quality these products are. I have been using the same hand mixer I received in high school, and I am embarassed to admit what bad shape it was in. This mixer is amazing! I have never seen one with an illuminating feature before, but its something you don’t want to miss. It makes it so much easier to see what you are mixing!



    DSCN6519When you’re finished, the on-board beater clip, wrap-and-secure cord, and flat, stable base allow for compact, upright storage.


    Made from BPA-free borosilicate glass, OXO Good Grips Glass Bakeware can withstand extreme temperature changes.



    The glass baking dishes with lids are heavy duty, and the lids made them perfect for storing. No more struggling with foil or plastic wrap for me!

    Generous handles and sloshproof lids make moving full dishes easier, and the clean, elegant design means you can take them from the oven directly to the family table.



    With a light to guide you, OXO On Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer includes intuitive digital controls to steadily increase or decrease speed.


    Mary’s Maine Bars

    Recipe from Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan

    When Mary Dodd, my wonderful recipe tester, returned from a family trip to Maine, she cooked everything Maine, from lobsters to chowders to blueberry muffins, for weeks afterward, if not earning herself honorary citizenship in the Pine Tree State, then at least making the rest of us believe she was a Down Easter. Of the things she cooked and baked, this recipe turned up most often, bringing happiness with it. Mary’s first taste of the bars was in Portland, where they were called Little Cranberry Island Gingerbread. It must be some kind of Maine magic, but the combination of molasses and a hefty dose of cinnamon and cloves but no ginger, tricks you into believing you’re eating old-fashioned gingerbread.

    I’m the suggestible type, so when Mary told me the recipe was from Maine, the first thing I wanted with it was blueberries. Turns out that folding some blueberries into the dough is as good as you’d think it would be. Serving the bars with whipped cream and Blueberry Syrup is also good. In fact, the full flavors of molasses and spice invite other matches. Try spooning some Mixed Citrus Curd over the bars or go deep and swirl spiced apple butter through the dough; see Playing Around.

    A word on the measuring trick: Whenever you’ve got something sticky like molasses (or honey or corn syrup) in a recipe, measure it in a glass measuring cup that you’ve buttered or oiled; the butter or oil slicks the way for the sticky stuff to just slither out. And when you’ve got oil in the recipe — as you do here — measure the oil first and pour it out, then measure the molasses — it’ll slide out of the cup, leaving almost no residue.

    Mary’s Maine bars

    Yield: Makes about 20 squares


    • 1½ cups (204 grams) all-purpose flour
    • 1½ cups (204 grams) whole wheat flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    • ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
    • ¾ cup (180 ml) unsulfured molasses
    • ½ cup (120 ml) flavorless oil, such as canola
    • 1 large egg, at room temperature
    • ¼ cup (60 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
    • Sanding or granulated sugar, for sprinkling


  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan or coat it with baking spray. Line it with a piece of parchment paper.
  • Whisk both flours, the baking soda, salt and spices together.
  • Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the sugar, molasses, oil and egg together until smooth. Add half of the dry ingredients and pulse the mixer to start blending them in, then beat on low speed only until the flour disappears into the dough. Pour in the buttermilk and mix to combine. Add the remainder of the dry ingredients and, still working on low, beat until incorporated. You’ll have a smooth, heavy, sticky dough. Scrape the dough into the pan, using a knife or offset spatula to get it into the corners and to even the top as best you can. Sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake for 26 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan after 15 minutes, or until the top is dry and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack.
  • After 10 minutes, run a blunt table knife around the edges of the pan, invert the Maine bars onto a rack, peel away the paper, turn it over onto another rack and let cool. When you’re ready, cut it into 20 bars (about 1¾ x 3¼ inches).
  • Maine Blueberry Bars.
  • Once the dough is mixed, gently stir in 1 cup fresh blueberries. Or, if you’re making this in any season but summer, use 1 cup dried blueberries that you’ve soaked in very hot tap water for about 10 minutes, drained and patted dry.
  • Maine Apple Butter Bars.
  • Once the dough is spread evenly in the pan, dot the top with spoonfuls of apple butter (spiced or plain) — you’ll need about ¼ cup — and use a blunt table knife to swirl it into the dough to create a nicely marbled surface.
  • Storing
  • Wrap the bars well, and they will be fine at room temperature for at least 4 days; wrapped airtight, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.
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    Pretzel Rolls

    When you live in a town as small as I do, grocery shopping tends to be less than exciting. You can find the basics, but Gouda cheese or a good balsamic vinegar? Good luck!


    That may not be such a bad thing though, because it really helps me budget my grocery bill. It also forces me into making things at home that you could probably pick up at a bigger grocery store. These pretzel rolls are a perfect example. And while I haven’t actually tried a store bought pretzel roll, I though these were to die for. I mean, AMAZING people. One of my favorite things to ever come out of my kitchen!


    These made some pretty fantastic sandwiches, but shaped differently would also be great hamburger buns or even dinner rolls. Soooo good! And I promise, they aren’t hard to make, and you will be so proud of yourself for making homemade pretzel buns!! I loved all the cheese and seeds on top of these buns, but plain or even with a sprinkle of course salt would be delicious.


    Pretzel Rolls


    • 1 cup milk
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 1 envelope active dry yeast
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3 cups all purpose flour
    • 12 cups water
    • ½ cup baking soda
    • 1 egg, whisked
    • 1 tablespoon water
    • Optional Toppings:
    • coarse salt
    • poppy seeds
    • sesame seeds
    • shredded cheese


  • Heat milk and butter in a saucepan or the microwave until the temperature reaches 130 degrees.
  • Add the heated milk and butter to a stand mixer with the dough hook attached.
  • Add in honey, yeast and salt and stir to combine.
  • Add in flour, 1 cup at a time on low speed. If dough is still sticking to the bottom add more flour.
  • Knead the dough for 5 minutes in the stand mixer. (If you do not have a stand mixer knead by hand)
  • Shape into a ball and place the dough in a large bowl lightly coated in oil.
  • Cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm area until the dough doubles in size. Usually takes about an hour.
  • Divide the dough into 4 rolls. (You can do smaller or larger rolls depending on your use). Cover and let the rolls rest for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  • Boil water in a large pot. (Make sure to give yourself extra room. Baking soda will make the water foam up and rise) Add in baking soda.
  • Drop rolls into the water making sure not to over crowd the pot. Cook for 2 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Make sure the rolls do not touch.
  • Combine the egg and water and whisk until combined.
  • Brush the rolls with egg wash.
  • Cut two slits in the top of each roll. You can do crosswise or side by side.
  • Sprinkle the rolls with toppings (if using) and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and allow them to cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet.
  • Serve immediately, or freeze.
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    Recipe Source: Chef Savvy

    Tropical Banana Bread


    Some may call me crazy, but I already have most of my Christmas shopping done. Purchased at least, anything that needs to be crafted or assembled will happen closer to the holiday.

    Since most of the gifts are bought, I thought I should start getting a leg up on purchasing holiday baking ingredients. I love to bake more than ever around the holiday’s, but it can get expensive!


    One ingredient that I always have on hand? Bananas! A few always seem to brown before they get eaten, so into my freezer they go. This banana bread is a fun twist on the traditional loaf. I took all the ingredients I loved in my Tropical Blondies and added them to a super quick and simple bread. Delicious!


    Tropical Banana Bread


    • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
    • 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
    • 1 cup chopped dried pineapple
    • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (2 to 3 medium bananas)
    • ⅓ cup coconut oil, in its liquid state
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Spay a 9x5 loaf pan with nonstick spray, set aside.
  • In a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat toast the coconut and macadamia nuts until they become lightly golden. Remove from the heat immediately. Set aside.
  • Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
  • Mix together the eggs, banana, coconut oil,and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine.
  • Stir in the coconut, nuts (reserve some for the top if you like) and pineapple. Pour into the prepared pan. Top with reserved coconut and macadamia nuts.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. You may have to tent the top if the coconut or nuts start to get too brown.
  • Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then remove from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
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    Recipe adapted from Cookies & Cups