Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Posted by Lindsey On 3:30 PM 4 comments

Ok I have a treat for both local readers and readers from far away. Since October is right around the corner there are lots of fun fall activities to take part in in the Chicago Suburbs. Here is a list of some of my favorites around the Chicago Western Burbs.

Sonny Acres Farm
This is by far the best place to go get pumpkins, enjoy a petting zoon, go on hayrides, enjoying some yummy cotton candy and roasted corn.
290 W. 310 North Ave.
West Chicago, IL 60185

High Point Harvest Acres
Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze
30 Ferry Rd
Naperville, IL 60563

Lynfred Winery

They have having a Oktoberfest this weekend with live music, grape stomping, food and wine of course!'
15. S. Roselle Rd.
Roselle, IL 60172

Ok now for a yummy recipe that inspired my fun little list. This recipe is a must try. Perfect for fall and amazingly tasty!

Caramel Apple Cupcakes
from Rachael Ray Magazine
1 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 honey crisp apples, peeled and shredded
1 1/2 cups chewy caramel candies
1 tablespoon heavy cream
3/4 cup pecan pieces

Arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350°. Line a cupcake pan with baking liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth. Whisk in the oil and vanilla. Stir into the flour mixture until just combined; stir in the apples and 1/2 cup pecan pieces. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan until almost full. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

In a small, microwavable bowl, combine the caramels and cream. Microwave for 1 minute at medium power, then stir; repeat in 30-second intervals until melted and smooth. Let cool. Spread the frosting generously on the cooled cupcakes and top with remaining pecan pieces.

To celebrate the end of summer I made this amazing healthy pasta dish. It was very easy to make and took less than 30 minutes. I must admit that I haven't cooked much before with arugula, but now that I have made this I want to put arugula in everything now. I love the peppery crisp taste of it. To make this dish even healthier feel free to skip the ricotta!

Whole Wheat Pasta with Tomato, Dill and Ricotta adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine

1 pound any type of whole wheat pasta
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
3 cups loosely packed baby arugula leaves
3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot, reserving 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil, 3 turns of the pan, and the garlic over medium-high heat, swirling the garlic in the oil, for 2 minutes; discard the garlic. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper; cook for 4 minutes, then add the dill and reserved pasta cooking water.

Add the tomatoes and arugula to the pasta; season with salt and pepper. Serve the pasta in large, shallow bowls and dollop with the ricotta for mixing in while you eat.

Salted Peanut Butter Cups

Posted by Lindsey On 2:34 PM 3 comments

Before I start, this recipe is not for those who are trying to watch what they eat ;) These candies are very rich and even more addicting. Who ever came up with the combo of chocolate and peanut butter is a true genius. I never thought of trying to make my own, until I saw a recipe online and realized how easy it is. The addition of the fleur de sel was just an added bonus I came up with.

Salted Peanut Butter Cups

8 oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup natural peanut buter
1/2 cup agave nectar (or honey)
Fleur de Sel

Place 12 baking liners on a baking sheet. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Reserve the pot of hot water to keep the chocolate liquid, as necessary.

Place about two teaspoons of the melted chocolate in a baking cup swirling to coat about halfway up the side of the cup. Repeat with the remaining cups. Refrigerate until set.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in the peanut butter
and agave nectar. Transfer the mixture to a resealable plastic bag and snip off one corner.

Fill the chocolate cups about three quarters full with the peanut butter mixture, smoothing the surface. Refrigerate about 15 minutes.

Top each peanut butter cup with melted chocolate to enclose, smoothing the surface. Top with a sprinkle of fleur de sel . Refrigerate until hardened. To serve, remove the candies from the baking liners.

Sweet and Savory Chicken Bites

Posted by Lindsey On 9:26 AM 0 comments

So I must admit this picture really doesn't do this dish justice. I would love to be able to take good pictures of our dinners, but we usually eat once its already dark out. So bear with me this winter and just take my word for it on our dinner photos. I made this last night and it was super easy and so flavorful. It took me less than 10 minutes to prepare and the hubby and I both really enjoyed these simple chicken bites.

Sweet and Savory Chicken Bites
adapted from The Rachael Ray Magazine

1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
1 box lemon flavored gelatin
2 tablespoons poppyseeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the pineapple juice, soy sauce, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Add the chicken and let marinade for 15 minutes. On a foiled lined rimmed baking sheet arrange the chicken in a single layer. Pour 1/2 cup of the marinade over the chicken then sprinkle with half of the gelatin, bake for 20 minutes. Flip and sprinkle with the remaining gelatin and poppy seeds, then baked until browned about 15-20 minutes.

Oreo Cheesecake Pretzel Bites

Posted by Lindsey On 11:00 AM 3 comments

Today is my day off! I haven't had a Saturday off in a very long time so to celebrate I made these awesome little treats this morning. My whole family is in love with the ever so famous Oreo truffles. So when I saw this on Picky Palate I knew this is something right up my alley. With only five ingredients this recipe is super easy and likely you will have most if not all the ingredients already on hand. Also this recipe requires no baking but still results in a chocolate creamy party in your mouth!!

Oreo Cheesecake Pretzel Bites
Adapted from Picky Palate

14 whole Oreo Cookies
2 oz cold cream cheese
48 square pretzels
8 oz bittersweet bakers chocolate, melted
Sprinkles of your choice

Place Oreos into a food processor and process until finely ground. Mix Oreo crumbs and cream cheese until dough forms. Pinch 1 Tablespoon of dough and form into a little square. Place onto pretzel then gently press top pretzel to close. Top with melted chocolate and sprinkles. Chill until chocolate has hardened and serve.

Makes 24-26 pretzel bites