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apple spice cupcakes with rum buttercream

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Originally these cupcakes were for my DH to share with his co-workers, however, since they have rum *gasp*, he decided it would be best if he did not bring them to the hospital.  I, on the other hand, had no problem bringing them in to share with my co-workers, and they were very much appreciated.  :)

Use whichever type of apples you prefer to bake with.  I had Cortland apples so that’s what I used.

You can still see the sweet, chunky bits of apple after baking the cupcakes.  Apple in every bite!

One thing I like about using fruit in a dessert is being able to pretend it’s good for you!  It does have more nutritional value thanks to the apple. :)  You could also substitute some of the flour with whole wheat flour and still have delicious cupcakes.

I have to admit, you could definitely smell the rum in the cupcakes… So I guess I can understand DH’s hesitation to bring them to the hospital to share with his Attendings and senior residents.  The aroma was more overpowering than the taste of rum.

apple spice_8

The combination of apple, cinnamon and rum buttercream is just what the doctor ordered*!

*I typed “perfect” originally and wanted see my other options. I checked synonyms on Word and what do you know, this was one of the synonyms for perfect.  It was too funny not to use.  :)  Also, it’s a joke with DH.  Right after graduating from med school he made a comment to me saying, “It’s just what the doctor ordered.”  And I was like, “Oh no, that’s going to get old!”

Apple Spice Cupcakes

adapted from

Makes about 17-18 cupcakes.  (I made a dozen regular-sized cupcakes and a dozen mini cupcakes)


2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 eggs

¾ cup milk

¼ cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups chopped apple, peeled* (3 small apples or 2 ½ large apples)**

*Optional- depending on your preference, cupcakes taste good with or without the apple peel.

**If you choose to peel apples or if you have leftover chopped apple, set aside for later and see below.


¾ cup unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup shortening

1 pound powdered sugar (~4 cups)

2 oz. dark rum (I used ~1 shot)- adjust as needed

Make the Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease muffin pan or line with paper liners.  Makes 18 cupcakes.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and baking powder; set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together milk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla.
  4. Create well in center of dry ingredients.  Gradually pour wet ingredients into well and gently stir until until combined.  Careful not to overmix.
  5. Gently fold chopped apples into batter.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans, filling about two-thirds full.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean.  For mini cupcakes 10 minutes.
  8. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

Make the Icing:

  1. Cream butter and shortening in a large bowl.
  2. Slowly add powdered sugar and blend after each addition (about 1 cup at a time)
  3. Add rum and mix well.
  4. If piping frosting onto cupcakes, I put the icing in the fridge for 30 min- 1 hour.  This way the icing is a little thicker and easier for me to pipe—trick I learned from my mom.  Thanks Mom!
  5. Frost cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Enjoy!

Leftover Apple and Apple Peel

I had ½ an apple left and I didn’t want to waste all the apple peel (lots of good nutrients and fiber!) so.. I made a treat out it to serve as a topping on my English muffin.

Combine leftover apple and apple peel with ¼ cup water, 2 tablespoons sugar, and ¾ teaspoon cinnamon in a medium saucepan.  Heat over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until apple is desired consistency.

This apple topping is delicious plain, with yogurt, or on a toasted English muffin!


homemade pop tarts

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My older sister came to visit from Houston, Texas!  Actually, she was in NYC for work.  She wasn’t in town for sight-seeing… which she had to remind me over and over.  Luckily for me, it worked out that she was able to spend her evenings with me.

I thought it would be nice to surprise her with these homemade pop tarts!  I’ve wanted to make them for a while now (after seeing them in a food magazine).  Everything seems to taste better when it’s homemade.  :)


I wasn’t sure what I wanted to fill them with until I bought this pumpkin butter at Trader Joe’s.  I knew it would be the perfect filling for my fall pop tarts!


My sister got in quite a workout while she was here… I forgot how sore I was when I first moved to NYC from all the walking.


I had her walking all over Manhattan and Brooklyn.  We weren’t walking very slowly either.  :/

One night for dinner, I convinced her we needed to try a pizza place in Brooklyn.  She was a little hesitant since she was exhausted from training and starting to feel hungry (and her hotel was in the Financial District of Manhattan) but she finally agreed. 


On the way to dinner, I might have lead her towards the Brooklyn Promenade without letting her know..

..or asking if she even cared to see it (because I had decided on my own it was something she had to see before she left).



Our little detour added about 10 minutes… she was really hungry by then…and she was not a happy camper when she realized what was going on. Oops.


We finally got to the restaurant after a 30(ish) minute walk..

..not including the subway ride over.. or the walk to the subway.




Luckily we didn’t have to wait long for our dinner!  And I thought it was definitely worth the walk.  :)

Great ambiance and delicious pizza!


Right Beck?



We had these tasty pop tarts to look forward to for dessert when we got back to her hotel! :)

Perfect with coffee.  Flaky, buttery pieces of deliciousness… mmmm.

Pretty sure the pop tarts helped her forgive me  :P  (Also, we found a subway stop 5 min from the restaurant after dinner)


Next time, I’ll make sure I have ice cream to serve with these. Warm pop tarts with a scoop of vanilla ice cream– yum!

I filled half of the pop tarts with a brown sugar cinnamon mixture (for my husband who doesn’t love pumpkin as much as I do).


These would be delicious filled with chocolate chips or strawberry preserves. Oh! Or Nutella!


If you like pie crust, then you will love these!  Sooo flaky and delicious!


Homemade Pop Tarts

recipe slightly adapted from King Arthur


2 cups all-purpose flour (can substitute 1 c flour with whole wheat flour)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into ~ ½ inch cubes

1 large egg

2 tablespoons milk

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Filling (This makes enough to fill all 9 pop tarts.  I halved it since I was filling some with Pumpkin Butter.)

½ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1 large egg (to brush on pastry)

Make the dough

  1. Stir together flour, sugar and salt.  Work butter into dry ingredients until the mixture holds together when you squeeze it (a pastry blender can be used to do this OR you can use your hands-which is what I did).  Lumps of butter should still be visible.  Add egg and milk and mix until combined.
  2. Divide dough in half and shape into two rectangles (about 3”x5”).  Wrap each dough in plastic (separately) and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.  Chilling the dough makes it easier to work with later.

Prepare the filling

Mix together sugar, cinnamon and flour–set aside.

Assemble the tarts

  1. Remove dough from the fridge and allow it to sit out at room temperature about 15 minutes to soften.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one piece of dough about 1/8” thick.  You want the rectangle to be large enough that it can be trimmed down to an even 9”x12” rectangle.  Using a pastry wheel (or pizza cutter) rim edges and set aside scraps for later.  (Next time I want to use a fluted pastry wheel to make them fancier)
  2. Repeat step 1 for the second piece of dough.  Gently score the second piece of dough into thirds lengthwise and widthwise—creating 3”x4” rectangles.  (I used a metal ruler to do this)
  3. Beat the egg in a small bowl with a fork.  Brush the egg over the entire surface of the dough you just scored.  Place about 1- 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each rectangle.
  4. Gently pick up the first piece of dough and place on top of the dough with “puddles” of filling.  Press down firmly around each filling “puddle”- sealing the dough well on all sides.  Using a fork, prick the top of each filling mound multiple times.  This is to ensure steam can escape during baking.  If you are using multiple fillings, you can put different designs on your pop tarts to differentiate which pop tarts have which filling.  For example, use horizontal fork pricks for one filling (cinnamon sugar) and slanted fork pricks for the other (pumpkin butter).
  5. Cut the dough evenly in between the mounds of filling –creating nine 3”x4” pop tarts.  Use your fingers to press down the cut edges to seal.  Using the tines of a fork, press all around the edge of each pop tart.
  6. Lightly grease a baking sheet (or line with parchment paper).  Gently move the pop tarts to prepared baking sheet.  Place the pop tarts in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Once the pop tarts have chilled, bake for 25-35 minutes or until light golden brown.  Allow pop tarts to cool on pan.
  8. Frost and decorate pop tarts as desired!  I used a simple glaze on mine.  I put sprinkles on the pumpkin filled tarts and a cinnamon glaze on the brown sugar ones to differentiate them.  (DH would not have been happy if he accidentally bit into a pumpkin pop tart expecting brown sugar.  :P)

Dough Scraps (no wasted dough allowed-it tastes too good!)

Arrange pastry scraps on parchment-lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake for 13-15 minutes until light golden brown.


Make mini tarts—Do the same thing you did above (Assemble the tarts).  Form dough scraps into two balls and roll out on lightly floured surface.  Set aside one piece of dough and top other piece with filling of your choice.  Top with other piece of dough, press edges around filling to seal and prick the mounds of filling with a fork.  Cut the tarts out and place on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 13-15 minutes or until light golden brown.

chocolate cutout cookies

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October means apple season, Halloween and the World Series!  I originally planned on baking cookies to celebrate the Texas Rangers winning the World Series, but sadly, they lost to the Cardinals in Game 7.  I’m still pretty heartbroken over it, but luckily, I can always count on baking to cheer me up.  Even when it’s snowing outside, I mean really snowing (in October!?).

Note that this was supposed to be posted on Monday, October 31st…  I had the cookies made and pictures taken.  However, if you know me, it seems appropriate that I somehow made it possible for me to be “late” with my first blog post.  If I hadn’t made Halloween cookies it wouldn’t be so obvious that it’s late.  But I did.  And there is no hiding it…  Happy Belated Halloween!


This cookie dough tastes like brownie batter.  MMmmmmm!  … yes I ate some of the dough.  You have to do that to make sure your cookies are going to taste good.

Isn’t that what all the professionals do?

As long as your mom (or older sister) doesn’t catch you doing it, it’s okay you can eat some of the dough.  You should at least try a little, tiny piece of it.

When I use my Halloween cookie cutters, I prefer making the chocolate cutout cookies over traditional sugar cutouts.

I guess because Halloween is dark and scary… and for me dark translates to chocolatey things…  I dunno.  :) Also! this dough is better for making bats and cats… you don’t even have to ice them.. they’re already black(ish)!

These cookies are soft, chocolatey and delicious.

Enjoy with a nice cold glass of milk!

Chocolate Cutout Cookies

adapted from

1 ½ cups flour

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¾ cups unsalted butter, softened

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

1 large egg

½ teaspoon vanilla

  1. Stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until smooth.  Add the egg and vanilla; beat until well combined.
  3. Gradually stir dry ingredients into creamed mixture; mix well.  The dough may seem dry and be a little tough to stir—this is where you get your arm workout in!
  4. Divide dough in half, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. Remove dough from fridge.*  On a lightly floured surface (I used cocoa powder instead of flour), roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick.  Add more flour (or cocoa)** as needed to prevent dough from sticking.
  7. Using cookies cutters, cut into desired shapes.  Brush excess flour (or cocoa) off the cookies.  Place cookies on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.  The cookies won’t spread much during baking so don’t worry about leaving a lot of space in between the cookies.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before moving to wire rack to finish cooling.
  9. Decorate as desired!  I used a basic sugar cookie icing and sprinkles.  They also look pretty with powdered sugar sprinkled over them.  Store cookies in an airtight container to keep them soft.  If you have a problem with the cookies getting hard, add a slice of bread to the container and it will soften them up.  :D

*When you take the dough out of the fridge, you may have to knead it (just a little bit) in order to make it more pliable for rolling.  Don’t play with the dough too long or it will warm up and stick to everything.

**Be careful not to add too much flour or cocoa powder—that will make your dough dry and crumbly.  I mix in a little of the unused dough each time I roll out the dough—helps prevent dough from becoming dry.