Recipe: Pumpkin Monster Cookies

What do you do when you make a batch of D E L I C I O U S L Y pumpkin cookies but they are looking a little boring and lackluster? Throw candy eyes on them and make them Halloween cookies! These cookies are simple to throw together and honestly I can’t stop laughing at how silly they came out. Perfect to throw into a treat bag for your loved ones on Halloween, or for you to eat the entire batch while giving out candy to trick or treaters. I’m not here to judge.

MORE ABOUT THESE COOKIES…These cookies are pillowy pumpkin goodness inside with just the right about of cinnamon and a little extra salt to get the flavors going. Originally, I thought of topping these pumpkin babies with cream cheese buttercream, but after tasting how wonderfully soft they were, I ended up doing an easy, breezy cinnamon drizzle. But try them with a little cream cheese glaze and let me know how it thrills you!

Happy Halloween 🎃

Pumpkin Monster Cookies

Yields 3 dozen

Adapted from this recipe

Pumpkin Cookies

  • 1 cup salted butter, room temperature

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 1 large egg, room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin

  • 2 cups AP flour

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Cinnamon Drizzle

  • 1 cup powdered sugar (plus more if needed for thickness)

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 2 tablespoon milk

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • pinch of salt

  • Candy eyes (optional, but recommended)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add in vanilla extract and egg. Add in pumpkin and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Add this to the wet ingredients in 3 batches, but careful not to over mix. Fold in walnuts by hand. Place dough in the fridge for 5 minutes to harden slightly.

Drop rounded tablespoons on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. This is a very soft dough so do not try to roll this into balls in your hand. Place tablespoon-sized dough babies onto the baking sheet and shape slightly with your fingers to make them rounded. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden on the bottom. Remove from the oven and let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to cool rack to cool completely.

While your cookies are cooling, whisk together all the ingredients for the cinnamon glaze. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the cookies and stick on candy eyes. Because these are soft cookies, they need to be eaten within a day or two. Make sure they are completely cool before storing them in an airtight container or they will sweat out their moisture.

Hot tip: you need to place the eyes when the glaze is still setting. If you miss that timeframe, mix a little powdered sugar with milk to get a paste and glue each one on.

Hightlights From Summer

Since I spent most of the summer months running all over the place and being a busy little bee, I thought I would sit down and take a few moments to reflect on the past few months and some of the high points. This is something that's H A R D for me to do. When things are positive, I tend to move on from them quickly and rarely take time to sit and think back. So I'm trying to change that behavior a little bit and share some of my highlights from the summer. 

If I'm being honest, this summer felt like a giant blur. A mix of traveling, work, friends in town, weddings, moving, not moving, trying to get enough sleep, and a lot of humidity. But it also was filled with many of my favorite things (and people). I also took a giant hiatus from blogging, which was semi-intentional with how busy I had been. Blogging for me is a hobby, something I enjoy doing, and when it starts to feel like another chore I try and take a break. Also, I create most of my recipes and content on the weekends which makes it hard when you’re busy.

Like most of the seasons these days, summer felt incredibly slow when I was in the moment but when I reflect back, really flew by. Here are a few highlights from the past couple of months…

Cape Cod. When I think back on it, I'm so thankful for this trip. It came at a time when things were feeling incredibly overwhelming for me personally & professional and to be able to jump in the car and drive away was a dream, especially since G and a travel buddy planned most of the trip for us. We spent a few nights in Salem, MA, then drove to Provincetown for a few nights, and ended at a friend's home outside of Cape Cod. The whole trip was super relaxed, we were able to escape the philly heat for a few days, and just filled with a lot of love and friends. 

This was also my first time in any of these places and Salem and Provincetown were very quaint and cute. Would definitely recommend them.

House Refresh. Where we live has been quite the topic of conversation this summer. We found out in mid-summer that our current landlord was going to sell our house. We live in an up-and-coming neighborhood in philadelphia so it wasn't a complete surprise, but we tried to approach the situation with positivity. We started looking for houses, looked at a few, people were touring our house (which was extremely annoying tbh), but in the end, they sold the house to an investor who wanted a tenant and we stayed in our home. We negotiated a few improvements to the house (helllllllo garbage disposal!) and decided to make some upgrades yourselves (painting, light fixtures, new towels & shower curtain, minimizing clutter, new kitchen bits, etc.). All in all, it was quite a lot of hubbub but we're happy to save on moving costs 😎  

Friends Visiting/Visiting Friends. Some of my favorite memories this summer were made with friends visiting or traveling to see friends in other cities. We spent a weekend driving out to Pittsburg to hang with friends, play board games, and swim in our fav wave pool. On top of that, we had a handful of buds stay in our spare bedroom, which gave me an opportunity to share my favorite city, eat all the best food it has to offer, and catch up while sitting on my own sofa.

Girl Time. Adult friendships are hard, my friend. And as someone who has never had a large group of tight girlfriends, I’m always incredibly thankful for the time my friends and I carve out for one another. I feel so grateful to have found my people, even if it’s not a huge dang group of them.

Highlights this summer were our weekend away in the Catskills, venturing out of the city to the airplane pool, and a handful of happy hours, dinner dates, and ice cream meetups.

Emerging From the Fog. The biggest change that happened this summer was emerging from the fog of anxiety and depression that I found myself in for most of the beginning of the year. It's uncomfortable for me to talk about—both because mental illness is a vulnerable topic and because I don't like to bring a lot of negativity to my digital life—but it feels a little like a victory to me. It’s difficult for me to figure out what caused this change (therapy, self care, changes in attitude, work, personal growth, probably a giant mix of all of those things) but I’m just thankful to be on the other side. Every day isn’t great and honestly, some days and weeks it’s still pretty unpleasant, but I’m able to see through the fog and that feels incredibly huge to me.

Until next time xo

Recipe: Banana Bread Donuts with Cinnamon Buttercream

As you can tell by my lack of recipes lately, my balance skills have seriously fallen to the wayside this summer. I've been actual months since I've turned my oven to actually bake something for fun that didn't turn out a disaster. but what can I say? Sometimes you're good at balancing everything and sometimes you're busy every weekend for 3 months and that's that.

But I do have to say that today's recipe is certainly worth the wait. We're using up brown bananas. We're covering it in cinnamon buttercream. We're not making your average run-of-the-mill banana bread anymore. Break out the donut pan, because we're making banana bread donuts!

Banana Bread Donuts with Cinnamon Buttercream

Yields 18 donuts

Donuts
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
2 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 medium very ripe bananas

Cinnamon Buttercream
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons milk
3 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a donut baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Make your donuts: In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg to combine and aerate the flours. Add the cubes of butter and using a pastry blender (or your hands), cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly and sand-like. You'll want the texture to be sand-like with tiny pieces of butter throughout the mixture.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until fluffy. Add in sour cream/yogurt and vanilla and whisk until combined. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula. Once dough comes together, mash the bananas with a fork in a separate bowl and mix in until combined.

Spoon the batter evenly into the wells of the greased pan. Before placing into the oven, lightly tap the donut pan on a flat countertop to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Make your buttercream: In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip your butter for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrap down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add in 3 cups of powdered sugar and mix for 4-5 minutes, beginning on slow and increasing the speed as the buttercream comes together. Add in vanilla extract, milk, and cinnamon, and the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar and mix again. Using an off-set spatula, frost your donuts and top with a dusting of cinnamon and coarse decorating sugar.

Keep donuts in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Cocktail: Strawberry Mojito Popsicles

Summer has been a little crazy this time around. We have people visiting from out of town, work travel, vacation travel, birthdays, and on top of everything: figuring out a new rental to move to. I love being busy, but it's hard for me to strike a balance between happy busy and crazy-freak-out busy. Plus, it's been like 100 degrees with 200% humidity in Philadelphia for weeks now.

So I'm bringing boozy summer popsicles to the rescue. Because it's too hot to turn on the oven to bake anything and these are the perfect post-work treat on a hot and busy day. Plus, they have fruit so they're healthy, right?

Strawberry Mojito Popsicles

Makes 10 popsicles

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
20 mint leaves
1/2 cup lime juice
1/3 cup white rum
8-10 strawberries, sliced 

In a small saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil over medium heat. Cook until sugar dissolves (a few minutes). Remove from heat, stir in mint leaves, and let steep until syrup is room temperature.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a pitcher (or something with a spout) and strain the leaves out of the mint syrup. Add in lime juice and rum and stir until combined. Pour the mixture into the popsicle molds until they are 2/3 full. Add 2-4 slices of strawberry to each mold, or until the molds are full. 

Place in the freezer for an hour, then remove from the freezer and add the sticks. Place back in the freezer and freeze overnight. If you have trouble removing your popsicles from the molds, try running warm water on the sides of your mold. 

FYI, the booze makes these popsicles melt QUICK so get ready to enjoy quickly!

Recipe: Peach Shortcake

Happy first day of summer, friends!

We've already had a few weeks of summer heat and so far I've dug my toes into the sand, bbq'ed a few hot dogs (as well as had my fav summer beer), hung by the pool, and covered myself in sunscreen and/or bug repellant from head to toe. I'm hoping for more of that as the summer weekends fly by. I thought about making a summer bucket list, but might just try to chill and see what the weekends bring.

Do you have big summer plans? Vacations and trips and big ideas? I hope you do! Got a bbq where you can't show up empty handed? I can help with that!

A twist on a strawberry shortcake, we're going a little wild and adding peaches instead of berries PLUS brushing these sweet little cakes with some peach syrup. The perfect way to feed a summer crowd but easy enough to throw together. We're hitting that sweet spot.

Peach Shortcake with Whipped Cream

Yields 8-12 slices

For the cake:
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For peach cake syrup:
1/2 cup peach puree (made from 1-3 peaches)
2/3 granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons water

For the whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5-7 peaches

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare three 9-inch round cake pans by coating in butter and a thin layer of flour.

Make your cake: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until combined.

In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to remove any lumps and combine ingredients. Mix in half of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, then mix in the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the other half of the dry ingredients, mixing just enough to combined. Scrape down the bowl.

Split the batter evenly between the three 9-inch cake pans and bake for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then finish cooling on a cooling rack.

Make your cake syrup: While the cake is baking, make your cake syrup. In a food processor, puree 1-3 peaches until you have a 1/2 cup of puree. In a small saucepan combine peach puree, sugar, and water. Heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolved (about 5 minutes) and remove from heat. 

Once your cakes are cooled, use a pastry brush to brush the syrup onto all over the top of them. Wait a few minutes until the syrup soaks in , then repeat. You can do this as many times as you want (I did 2-3 times), but you will have extra peach syrup.

Make your whipped cream: Place your metal mixing bowl and wire attachment in your fridge 10 minutes before you begin whisking. Add heavy cream and sugar to the bowl of the mixer. Begin whisking on low, and then gradually increase the speed until medium-high. Add in your vanilla extra. Continue to whisk until you have siff peaks (about 5-7 minutes).

Assemble the cake: place one cake on the center of a cake stand or large plate. Using a rubber spatula, spoon a third of the whipped cream into the center of the cake and spread towards the outside. Thinly slice your peaches and place them in an even layer on the whipped cream. For presentation purposes, you want to them to be all the way to the edge of the cake so you can see them once you assemble the rest of the cake. Repeat with the middle and top layer.

Store in the refrigerator or chilled space before serving. Because this is a "naked" cake, you'll want to eat the same day as the exposed cake will dry out faster.