Fresh Cherry Crisp

Fresh Cherry Crisp I Pretty Little Pastimes

Fresh Cherry Crisp

This time of year means a lot of things to me, backyard barbecues, trips to the beach and fresh fruit everywhere! Sometimes I get a little overzealous at the store and end up with more fruit than I know what to do with. If I knew that I only had a couple days left before it went bad, I used to always ask aloud, “What should I do with this?” The immediate response from the BF was, “Something easy, like a crisp”. I used to cringe at this statement, because the “something easy” crisp had eluded me for years. Without fail, it would cook unevenly or I would end up with a mouthful of pure sugar when biting into it, ick. But after multiple failed attempts, I finally ended up with a winning recipe. It is quick and easy (really this time), perfect for a weeknight menu. I have made this twice in the last month, once with fresh strawberries and again with fresh cherries. But this recipe is not just for those warm summer months, with the addition of a little cinnamon and clove to your fresh fruit, it is perfect for Fall! So keep it handy!

Fresh Cherry Crisp I Pretty Little Pastimes

Fresh Fruit Crisp

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 cups fresh fruit; chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together oatmeal, flour, brown, sugar and walnuts. Cut in butter until crumbly. In a separate bowl, mix fresh fruit with white sugar. Grease an 8″ square pan and spread half of the crumb mixture in an even layer on bottom. Layer the fruit next, followed by the remaining half of the crumb mixture. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm.

Topped with a little vanilla frozen yogurt or fresh whipped cream and this quick and tasty dessert will really hit the spot!

Fresh Strawberry Crisp I Pretty Little Pastimes

Fresh Strawberry Crisp

Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies I Pretty Little Pastimes

I have a terrible habit of buying bananas and letting them get too ripe sitting on the counter. I have tried the plastic wrap over the stem trick and I admit that it does prolong the inevitable over-browning of my poor produce. But this time, rather than giving up, I found a cookie recipe that calls for very ripe bananas. I tweaked it a little and added some dark chocolate chips and walnuts. They came out soft and cake-like and had a banana bread flavor, yum!

Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

  • 2 & 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (approx. 2 bananas)
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl sift the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter with the white and brown sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and pure vanilla extract. Mix the mashed bananas. Slowly add the flour mixture into the batter until just combined. Stir in the dark chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop the mixture by the tablespoonful onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

I loved the sweet banana smell that came wafting out of the kitchen while these were baking. They are a nice dessert alternative to banana bread and a great way to use up bananas that you might otherwise toss out. I would like to say that I will only be making these when I have a craving, but with my track record, they just might become a permanent staple around the house. Enjoy!

Lemon Blueberry Cookies

Lemon Blueberry Cookies I Pretty Little Pastimes

I have always been a big HUGE fan of lemon flavors in cooking and baking, so when I saw a recipe for lemon cookies, I knew what was next on my baking list! With the addition of lemon zest, fresh blueberries, and white chocolate chips these, these cookies really wowed me. With the use of the cake flour, they came out very soft and the flavor combination works for snacking from breakfast to dessert (dangerous)!

Lemon Blueberry Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 & 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon

In a large mixing bowl beat butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and lemon juice one at a time, mixing until incorporated after each. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet and combine. With a rubber spatula, fold in the blueberries, lemon zest and white chocolate chips. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spoon the cookie mixture onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-13 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies are golden brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.

The cookies do spread while in the oven, so try not to overcrowd (a couple of mine ran into each other). Also, if you are looking for a more traditional cookie texture, you can replace the cake flour with 3 cups all purpose flour.

These cookies did not last long in our house, so I know I will be making them again and again upon request! Enjoy!

Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Dog Treats

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This weekend I wanted to do something special for my pups, so I decided to make some homemade peanut butter and oatmeal dog treats! This recipe is great because most, if not all, of the ingredients I usually already have in the pantry. They are quick and easy to make and my dogs just love gobbling them up as soon as they are cool!

Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Dog Treats

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, honey, olive oil and chicken broth. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, oats and cinnamon. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture until combined. If your dough is too dry add more chicken broth one tablespoon at a time.

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Transfer the dough to a flour dusted surface and roll the dough to about 3/8″ thick. Use a cookie cutter (I used a bone shaped one) and cut out your treats. Combine the scraps and keep rolling to get as many treats as you can out of the dough; I ended up with 26. Place the unbaked treats onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

I took a plate of these outside to get some shots when they were all baked, but a certain puppy of mine, Miss Maggie May, had other ideas!

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By the look of this happy little face looking up at me, I’d say she liked them!

maggie may 3 sm

Double Peanut Butter M&M’s Cookies

Double Peanut Butter M&M's Cookies I Pretty Little Pastimes
Every so often, a cookie recipe comes along that you just know is going to be a keeper and I was right with this peanut butter cookie. The problem with recipes I have attempted in the past, is that they are too hard or lack sweetness. This cookie stays soft and has just the right amount of sweetness for me. Although you can make them with Milk Chocolate M&M’s, I always make them using Peanut M&M’s or, my favorite, Peanut Butter M&M’s. With the Peanut Butter M&M’s you get a double peanut butter cookie that is hard to resist!

I made these over my Easter weekend with pastel colored Peanut Butter M&M’s eggs for a little holiday flare.

Double Peanut Butter M&M’s Cookies

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 & 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 cups peanut butter M&M’s

In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Mix in the peanut butter, egg and vanilla, one at a time, until combined. Slowly mix in the baking soda and flour; be careful not to overmix. Gently fold the M&M’s into the dough. Place the finished cookie dough in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I always cover my cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup). Press the dough slightly since they do not spread much while baking. Bake for 8-9 minutes until just the edges are beginning to turn golden but the cookies is still soft. Remove from oven and allow to cool/harden on a wire rack.

I will definitely be adding these to my Christmas Cookie baking list. With red and green M&M’s, they will make a great care package for my mom who can resist all sweets except a good peanut butter cookie! Like mother, like daughter. Enjoy!

Lucky Charms Rainbow Cupcakes

Lucky Charms Rainbow Cupcakes! I Pretty Little Pastimes

This St. Patrick’s Day I wanted to make one of my favorite themed cupcakes – Rainbow Cupcakes! I have made them a few times now, sometimes with green sprinkles on top, a white cloud of frosting, or even a shamrock, but this year I wanted to try them with some Lucky Charms brand cereal to make it a little more playful. I knew I also wanted to keep the “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow” theme, so I searched for some gold wrapped chocolate coins. They were not the easiest to track down, but I found a great little candy shop in our local mall that sold them by the pound. I just might have “accidentally” purchased a little more than I needed (whoops). They may look like I spent hours in the kitchen baking, but they are actually very simple to make and only a couple of extra steps then making a traditional cupcake. Whether you make them for friends, family, or just because, this Pretty Little Pastime is sure to get everyone in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit!

White Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 egg whites (at room temperature)
  • food coloring (primary colors: red, blue, yellow, green)

Decorations

  • 15 cupcake liners
  • 2 cups Lucky Charms brand cereal
  • gold wrapped chocolate coins (optional)

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-muffin tins with cupcake liners. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add butter, 3/4 cup of milk, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on low until blended. Increase speed to high and beat for another two minutes. With a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl and add the remaining 1/4 cup milk and egg whites. Beat for 30 seconds on high.

rainbow cupcake batter 2

Rainbow Cupcakes I Pretty Little Pastimes

Separate the batter equally into 5 small bowls. Add the food coloring one drop at a time to make up the colors: red, orange, yellow, green and blue. You can also add purple, but I skip it so the cupcakes do not get too dark on top. Once you have the colors at your desired hue (remember they do darken slightly while baking), spoon each color one at a time into the liners. Try to pour the batter into the middle of the liner in a steady stream, so it spreads evenly. Continue with each color until all of your tins are  1/2 to 3/4 full. Place the muffin tins on the center rack and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cupcakes and let cool completely.

Rainbow Cupcakes I Pretty Little Pastimes

Vanilla Frosting

  • 3 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cubed
  • 3 cups sifted confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

To start your frosting, whip the butter on medium speed for 8 minutes. Once the butter is creamy, add the sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt and mix on low for 1 minute. Turn up the speed to medium and continue to mix for another 6 minutes. Add green food coloring to the frosting to get a pale green color. Top the cooled cupcakes with your frosting in an even layer. Immediately top with a sprinkle of Lucky Charms brand cereal and repeat until all cupcakes are complete.

I love making these cupcakes and giving them to people as a little St. Patrick’s Day treat! They are always surprised when they bite in and see all of the rainbow colors. The cake and frosting recipes are also good to keep on hand for a quick cupcake anytime. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday Pupcakes

ImageOne of our two little pups, Bogart, celebrated his first birthday this past weekend. We adopted him as a puppy from a local animal rescue when he was only 12 weeks old. He was my first puppy (our second pup we adopted as an adult), so it has been such a fun experience watching him grow and learn over the last year. I decided to make him a special treat for his big day. These “Pupcakes” are a Pretty Little Pastime, your four-legged best friend will definitely approve of!

What you will need:

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (alcohol-free)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (preferred) or white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

I reserved extra peanut butter and shredded carrots to top my pupcakes. I also used Milk Bone brand treats and Beggin’ Strips to finish decorating.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the egg, peanut butter, oil, vanilla, and honey. Blend well. Stir in the carrots and mix thoroughly. Sift flour and baking soda together and fold into batter.

Fill 6 lined cupcake molds 3/4 of the way full with the batter. Bake for 20 minutes (35-40 minutes if making one full cake) or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and let the pupcakes cool completely before frosting.

Once cooled, spread peanut butter over the tops of the pupcakes and top with remaining carrot shred “sprinkles”. Break a Beggin’ Strip in half and push one side firmly into the cake to keep in place. Add a Milk Bone treat in front of the strip and your pupcakes are ready to be served!

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Bogey loved his birthday pupcake and just like most kiddos he took the time to lick off all the frosting first! I made sure to remove the wrapper before he started on the cake also. This recipe only makes 6 pupcakes, which is great for a little birthday treat, and can easily be doubled or tripled if you are having a bunch of party animals over. It is sure to get all of their tails wagging!

Check back for more on our Doggy Birthday celebration.