apple & cheddar pupcakes

yesterday pua turned 1!

happy birthday to pua bear!  i can’t believe that our little puppy is 1 already.  i would have loved to have a little birthday party for pua because i am totally that crazy dog lady, but i settled myself down and decided that chris and i could have a small celebration with just the 3 of us.  i definitely wanted to make her some dog treats and was so excited that i found this recipe for apple and cheddar pupcakes (don’t you love that!) because cupcakes are the perfect dessert to celebrate birthdays with.

they are full of flavors that dogs like – apple and cheese.  plus they are dog safe, which is definitely important.  i also really liked that the recipe called for ingredients i usually have on hand anyway, like apples, cheese, flour, oats, honey, etc.  pua absolutely loved her pupcake and she gobbled it right up.

i can’t wait to make all different kinds puppy treats so keep reading for some other fun dog friendly recipes.  but in the meantime, if you’re celebrating your doggy’s birthday or if you just want a special treat for him or her, definitely whip up a batch of these apple and cheddar cupcakes.

start by combining the flour, oats, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.

in another bowl, mix together the applesauce, oil, eggs, honey, and water.

now time for the stars of the show, the apple and cheese!

fold in the apples and cheese…

and pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry.

i think pua knew i was making something for her, so she came to check on the progress of her pupcakes.

the pupcake batter is ready.

scoop a bit of the batter into each cupcake lined cupcake cup.  you’ll want to make sure that the cup is actually almost full.

bake at 400 degrees f for 15-20 minutes.  my pupcakes took 18 minutes.  allow the pupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

while the pupcakes cool, make the frosting.  it’s just cream cheese with a little bit of honey.

mix until it’s nice and smooth.

once the pupcakes have cooled, spread some frosting on each one.  then it’s time for your puppy to enjoy a delicious treat!

happy birthday pua!

if you have a small/medium size dog like pua, i would suggest breaking up the cupcake before giving it to your dog.  pua found it a bit challenging to take bites of the whole cupcake.


caramel apple cheesecake bars

can you believe the summer is almost over?  for some students, the summer is already over since many schools started this past week.  my fall semester doesn’t start until next week but students have already been trickling in getting ready for classes.  crazy!  it has been a wonderful summer but i am ready for the cooler fall temperatures and of course amazing fall flavors like apples, pumpkin, and cinnamon.  yum!

to welcome in the fall, i made these caramel apple cheesecake bars.  well to be honest i first made them in the middle of summer, for my good friend’s going away party.  she said she likes apples and cheesecake so i figured why not find a recipe that combines both.  i found this recipe online and i think it’s a winner!  a couple of our friends who came to the party especially liked them, so  i made another batch to give to them as  a happy anniversary present.

these caramel apple cheesecake bars have several layers – starting from the top… caramel, streusel topping, apples, cheesecake, and finally a cinnamon crust.  phew!  i’m not going to lie, you are going to use a lot of bowls and there are quite a few steps.  but once you taste a bite of these bars, i think you’ll agree that it was well worth the time and effort.  there is a great balance of crunchy, creamy, apple-y, caramel-y, cinnamon-y deliciousness.  it may seem like there is a lot going on, but everything works together perfectly.

okay let’s get started.  first up, the caramel sauce.  i made the sauce in the original recipe the first time and unfortunately i wasn’t a fan.  so the second time around, i used my favorite vanilla bean caramel sauce recipe instead – a definite winner.  first, pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan.  scrape the seeds out of 1 vanilla bean and add the seeds and pod to the cream.  warm over low heat.

while the vanilla flavor is infusing into the cream, boil the sugar and water.

once it is an amber color, carefully pour the cream (sans vanilla pod) into the melted sugar.  whisk well and then pour into a bowl.  allow it to come to room temperature and then put in the refrigerator to cool completely.

on to the apples.  you’ll need 3 granny smith apples.

peel and core the apples and then chop them into small pieces.  combine the apple chucks with a little bit of sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  set the apples aside.

next the streusel topping.  in a medium bowl, mix brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, and quick cooking oats.

add 1 stick of butter, cut into cubes.

using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers cut the butter into the oat mixture until the streusel is nice and crumbly.

done!  well this one part is done… set the streusel aside.

next the crust.  it’s actually very similar to the streusel topping but no oats.  put the dry ingredients in a bowl, mix them up, cut in the butter and then the crust is ready.

pour the crust mixture into a 9 x 13 baking pan, lined with parchment paper.

press the mixture with your fingers to form an even crust.  bake the crust at 350 degrees f for 10 minutes.

while the crust is baking, whip up the cream cheese mixture.  put 2 packages of cream cheese and some sugar in the bowl of your stand mixture.  mix until well combined.  then mix in the eggs 1 at a time.

add the vanilla (forgive the poor lighting, i promise the cream cheese isn’t yellow).

the cream cheese part is done.

once the crust has been baking for 10 minutes, remove it from the oven.

pour the cream cheese mixture over the warm crust and spread into an even layer.

do the same with the apples…

and finally the streusel topping.

bake for 30 minutes.

allow the bars to cool to room temperature.  i actually made them the day before i needed them to allow them time to chill overnight in the fridge.  this made it much easier to make nice, clean slices when cutting them into bars.

time for the finishing touch.  pour some of the vanilla bean caramel sauce onto each bar.  i put the caramel sauce in a squeeze bottle, but you could just use a spoon.

eat up!

since i used majority of the original recipe, i’m going to send you over to mel’s kitchen cafe for the recipe.  you could use the caramel recipe included in the original recipe or try my favorite vanilla bean caramel sauce.

apple pie dip and cinnamon chips

growing up, my family never watched any sports.  well maybe we watched a little college volleyball but that’s about it.  so when i started dating chris, i had no idea what football was about.  but he was an avid patriots fan (don’t hate ;-)).  he watched football all day on sundays and i would do my homework (i was in grad school).  at first i didn’t pay much attention but slowly but surely i started getting into it.

i asked chris a million questions about what was going on (i’m sure he was sick of me and my questions) and i started playing fantasy football in my office’s league.  this really helped me start understanding more and more about the game.  now i can’t get enough of football and i am a big redskins fan!!!  my poor parents now have to endure hearing me talk about football and it’s especially hard on sundays when i tell them i need to go because the game is about to start or something exciting happened in the game so i need to go watch.  oops!

anyway so how does football related to this apple pie dip and cinnamon chips?  well, i made them for a superbowl party we went to this year.  it was a great addition to all of the other dips and finger food you typically see at superbowl parties, but i loved that it is a lighter, healthier dessert option after all of the usual cheesy, fried food.

start off by making the apple pie dip – it’s super easy.  just some chopped apples, a little brown sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice.

mix it all together and simmer until the mixture is boiling and a bit of the liquid is released from the apples.  remove from the heat.

then combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and pour into the apple mixture.

stir to combine and then return the saucepan to the heat.  cook until the sauce thickens a little bit.  set aside to cool.

now it’s time to make the cinnamon and sugar tortilla chips!  i used whole wheat flour tortillas to make them a wee bit healthier.  first, brush the tortilla with some melted butter.

then mix up the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl…

and sprinkle an even layer on to the tortilla.

now cut the tortilla into chips.  i cut each tortilla into 8 wedges.

place the tortilla wedges on a parchment paper or silpat mat lined baking sheet and bake them at 400 degree F for 6-8 minutes.

once they are baked transfer, them to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.

repeat until all of the chips are made.  now that the dip is complete and the chips are made put it all together in a lovely serving platter.  i love this dip and chips bowl.

the cinnamon chips and apple dip are a great combination but i have to say, i loved the cinnamon chips on their own.  i may just make the chips from time to time as a great healthy snack. 🙂

for the recipe, please visit pennies on a platter.

apple pie cupcakes

can i tell you how excited i am for thanksgiving tomorrow!?!?!?  my brother is coming to visit and one of my close friends is coming for thanksgiving dinner.  plus, it’s going to be the first time chris and i will make our own thanksgiving dinner.  eek!  fingers crossed everything turns out well.  on the menu so far: apple sausage cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, rosemary rolls, turkey, apple pie, and green bean casserole.  yay i can’t wait!

yesterday was wonderful because we had a thanksgiving potluck at work and i got a taste of some of the delicious thanksgiving foods i love.  i was going to make some kind of pumpkin flavored cupcake but there was already a couple other pumpkin desserts on the potluck dish list, so i decided to make these apple pie cupcakes instead.  this is actually perfect because apple pie is super thanksgiving-y to me – every time we go to chris’ mom’s house for thanskgiving she always makes the most amazing apple pie.

this cupcake is inspired by chris’ mom’s apple pie.  it is a light cinnamon cupcake filled with apple pie filling and then topped with vanilla bean swiss meringue buttercream and streusel (because the streusel crumb topping is my favorite part of apple pie :-)).  i picked swiss meringue buttercream as the frosting because swiss meringue buttercream often tastes like ice cream and it would be like apple pie a la mode!

luckily the combination worked out well and these apple pie cupcakes turned out pretty good, if i do say so myself.  if you still haven’t decided on your thanksgiving dessert or have room to add another, i would highly suggest making these as a great alternative to the traditional pie.  yum!

since there are quite  a few steps to making these cupcakes, i made the apple pie filling the day before.  chop up the apples…

then mix all the ingredients together in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat.


then after a bit, it will come together and thicken up to look like apple pie filling.  yay!  now just let it chill in the fridge until you’re ready to make the cupcakes.

to make the cupcakes, start by mixing up the cupcake batter – just white or vanilla cake mix with a little bit of cinnamon.

divide the batter into the 24-26 cupcake cups and then bake them up.


while the cupcakes are cooling, make the streusel crumb topping.  i found that it actually made way too much so i would suggest halving the recipe (it’s adjusted correctly in the recipe below).  mix the dry ingredients together and then cut the butter into the flour mixture until it’s nice and crumbly.


now it’s ready to bake…

bake for 20-30 minutes stirring it every 5 minutes.  allow the topping to cool completely.

whip up some vanilla bean swiss meringue buttercream.  for a play by play on how to make swiss meringue buttercream, visit this post…  check out all of the vanilla beans and extract – super vanilla-y!

now that all of the components of the cupcake are done, we can assemble these apple pie cupcakes.  first, core each cupcake using the cone method and then fill each with the apple pie filling.

pipe some of the vanilla bean swiss meringue buttercream on to each cupcake. i used the 1M tip to frost the cupcakes.

finally, sprinkle each cupcake with some streusel crumb topping.

phew!  all pau – the apple pie cupcakes are ready!


apple cranberry baked oatmeal

i have another baked oatmeal recipe for you!

this one is a combination of a couple recipes – the pumpkin baked oatmeal i made not too long ago and a new one that i found on a very cute blog called becky bakes.  i really liked that the pumpkin baked oatmeal included both steel cut oats and rolled oats so i wanted to incorporate that idea into other baked oatmeal recipes.  i found a recipe for blueberry baked oatmeal on becky bakes but i thought it might be nice to add cranberries instead of blueberries since we bought a monstrous bag of fresh cranberries from costco to make cranberry sauce.  but since a direct swap of cranberries or blueberries wouldn’t work too well since cranberries are way too tart, i decided to add some apples too.

but one thing that i really liked about becky bakes’ baked oatmeal recipe was that she added a sprinkle of brown sugar on the top of the baked oatmeal.  how good does that sound!

but sadly although the brown sugar topping did add a little bit of sweetness, it wasn’t quite enough for the super duper tart cranberries. so i would suggest adding a small squeeze of honey when serving to cut some of the puckerness of the cranberries.  still i love that the apples kept some of their crunch and the tart burst of the cranberries is actually pretty refreshing.

although it’s not the prettiest looking breakfast i hope that you try it out!