Pumpkin Muffins

If you’re anything like me, you have a hard time making it between meals without a little snack to tide you over.  Not a full mini-meal or anything, just some fruit or nuts or a baked good.  Okay let’s be honest, more often than not, a baked good.  I’ve had the usual suspects in rotation for quite some time – banana bread, oatmeal bars, blueberry muffins – until my sister introduced me to pumpkin muffins this winter, and my snacking world was turned upside down!  What is this delicious treat??  It tastes almost like cake given how soft and moist it is, and is sweet enough to not need frosting, but with the pumpkin puree and spices it tastes healthy enough to not feel (too) guilty for enjoying it between meals.  

Here my friends, is the pumpkin muffin.  Easy to make, hard to eat just one.  This recipe makes a double batch, nearly 30 muffins, so we’re in luck that these muffins freeze and defrost beautifully, if that’s your thing.  For those of you on the gluten free wagon, substitute a good gluten free flour (like Domata or Bob’s Red Mill) one-for-one with its wheat-filled sibling, and that’s it!  You’d never notice the difference.

A big thanks to my sister for sharing this recipe she received from a friend!  That’s one of the beauties of good food – you can share not only the end product but also the recipe, many times over, extending the joy to countless others. So go ahead and make a batch for breakfast, to give to a friend or for a delicious snack!


Pumpkin muffins

 

Pumpkin Muffins
Yields 30
These pumpkin muffins are moist and sweet, and perfect for breakfast or a snack!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 12 T butter, melted and cooled
  2. 2/3 cup water
  3. 3 cups sugar
  4. 4 eggs
  5. 1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz)
  6. 3 1/3 cups flour
  7. 2 tsp baking soda
  8. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  9. 1/2 tsp salt
  10. 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  11. 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  12. 1/4 tsp ground cloves
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour or line muffin tins with paper baking cups.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, water, sugar, eggs and pumpkin puree, and stir until fully combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients together, then combine into the wet ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix! It's okay if there are a few lumps.
  5. Divide batter evenly into muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.
  6. Remove from the oven, and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the muffins to a rack to cool completely.
Notes
  1. Make sure to use pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.
  2. You can halve this recipe for a smaller batch, or about 12-15 muffins.
Adapted from Courtney Remes
Adapted from Courtney Remes
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Pumpkin bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

As summer turns to fall I love enjoying all the seasonal foods that come with the changing seasons – warm soups, apple crisp and most of all, pumpkin bars.  I once had a lengthy debate with a friend about this recipe – if bars or cake was the right name for this pumpkin dessert – and we agreed that the name didn’t really matter because it’s delicious!

This dessert is a moist, dense cake, and is relatively thin because it’s baked in a large jelly roll pan, spiced with cinnamon and flavored with pumpkin puree.  The cream cheese frosting is coated on thick – smoothy and creamy, with a little tang from the cream cheese.  If you don’t want to make the frosting from scratch two cans of pre-made cream cheese frosting do very nicely – but be sure to use two cans (not one) to ensure you can get nice, thick coverage on these bars.

Once the bars are prepared, find some friends to share them with since the recipe makes at least 30 bars of generous size – I found out the hard way that if these hang around my home too long I’ll eat them all myself!

Pumpkin bars 1

Pumpkin bars 2

 

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields 30
This pumpkin bars are moist and delicious and with cream cheese frosting coating the top are the perfect fall dessert!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 eggs
  2. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  3. 1 cup vegetable oil
  4. 15 oz can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
  5. 1 cup rice flour
  6. 1 cup cornstarch
  7. 1 tsp xanthan gum
  8. 2 tsp baking powder
  9. 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  10. 1 tsp salt
  11. 1 tsp baking soda
  12. 2 cans of pre-made cream cheese frosting (16oz each)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a large jelly roll pan with PAM spray.
  3. Using an electric mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin on medium speed, mixing until light and fluffy.
  4. In a separate bowl stir together the dry ingredients (rice flour, cornstarch, xanthan gum, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda). Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until well combined.
  5. Spread the batter into the greased pan.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the bars begin to pull away from the edges. Remove from the oven before they begin to darken and brown.
  7. Let cool completely, then frost.
Notes
  1. If you prefer to make these non-gluten free, substitute 2 cups of unbleached flour for the rice flour and cornstarch, and exclude the xanthan gum.
Adapted from Lynn's Kitchen Adventures
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Chicken Salad Wraps

Earlier this summer I was in search of an appetizer I could bring to an outdoor BBQ party when the weather was nearly 100 degrees and I knew most people would be walking around with a plate and not sitting down for a full meal… I knew it needed to be something that didn’t require a fork and knife, and better yet, no plate, and might even be considered refreshing given the heat and humidity.  Where did this search and such challenging requirements land me?  Chicken Salad Wraps, my friends, that’s where.  These little guys go by a lot of names – some people call them “Pinwheels” while others opt for the less-traditional but very funny “Redneck Sushi” name.  

One of the things I love about making these is that you can switch up the ingredients depending on your audience or what you have on hand – easy to swap out mozzarella or cheddar slices for swiss, or instead of chopped chicken breast you could use ham, turkey or roast beef.  Want to add some more flavor to the mix?  Add some dijon mustard to the cream cheese and mayo or even a little horseradish. 

With no further ado – there’s some instructions and the recipe!  Even though temps of 100 degrees are now a distant memory these are still delicious and would be perfect for an after-school snack or during a football game.

First, prepare the filling for the wrap.  Lay out a tortilla with 3 slices of cheese, then spread the prepared filling evenly over the center of the tortilla, leaving the top and bottom sections without any filing.Chicken Salad Wrap 1

Carefully roll up the tortilla, pushing the filling out evenly towards the end of the tortilla.  Once fully rolled, let the tortilla rolls rest while on the end, letting it seal.

Chicken Salad Wrap 2

After about 10 minutes, use a serrated knife to cut the sandwich rolls into slices, roughly 1-2 inches wide.

Chicken Salad Wrap 3

Chicken Salad Wrap 4

 

Enjoy!  If you have ideas or suggestions please leave a note in the comments! 

Chicken Salad Wraps
Serves 10
These little sandwich wraps are a delicious appetizer that's easy to prepare!
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 large flour tortillas
  2. 9 slices of cheese, mozzarella or cheddar
  3. 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  4. 1/2 cup mayo
  5. 1 cup cooked chicken breast, diced
  6. Ground black pepper
  7. 1 cup lettuce, shredded
Instructions
  1. To prepare the filling, mix the cream cheese, mayo, chicken breast, black pepper and lettuce until thoroughly combined.
  2. Lay a tortilla out, then lay 3 slices of cheese across the center of the tortilla.
  3. Scoop a third of the filling and place in the center of the tortilla, spreading out, leaving the top and bottom of the tortilla without any filling.
  4. Starting at the bottom of the tortilla, carefully roll the tortilla towards the top, being careful to not roll too tightly so as the squeeze the filling out. Let sit for 10 minutes for the ingredients to set.
  5. Cut the tortilla rolls with a serrated knife into 2 inch slices.
  6. Set tortilla sandwich wrap slices on a plate to serve.
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Broccoli Grape Salad

It’s about time I add some variety to this blog, meaning some vegetables, as the last few posts have been about delicious yet not necessarily good-for-you foods.  This recipe is not only great for you but it’s delicious, and is best when made the day before, so if you like get your work done ahead of time in order to enjoy the party or meal, this one’s for you.

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My mom is the source of this Broccoli Grape Salad recipe and made it for us all the time as kids.  Imagine her glee that her 4 kids gobbled up this salad like it was dessert despite it containing broccoli, celery and nuts!  To be fair, this salad contains juicy grapes as well as a decadent dressing, so it’s not like you’re going to win some health nut contest for preparing this, but you’ll probably still get points for Vitamin E, fiber and protein – little known fact – broccoli is a good source of protein!

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Alright, food friends, a few more notes before we get to the recipe details:

1. Toasted almonds are optional, but delicious, and best if added to the salad right before serving.

2. This salad needs to be refrigerated at least 4 hours before serving, it not overnight.  You’ve got to allow the dressing time to do its magic and seep into those little broccoli florets.

3. Grapes vs Raisins – you can do either, or both, but I prefer fresh grapes, both green and red (seedless!!!) if available.  In the case of the batch I made for this post, you can see I didn’t have any grapes so opted for raisins and it is still great.  I’ve seen variations of this recipe online that call for yellow raisins or dried cranberries, so as I usually say on this site, add whatever makes you happy.  There’s no point in following a recipe to the letter of the law if you think a substitution could improve it.

 Enjoy!

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Broccoli Grape Salad
Serves 10
This salad is best served cold a day after preparation.
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Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 bunches of broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces
  2. 4-5 green onions, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  3. 5 stalks broccoli, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  4. 3 cups of green and red grapes, washed and sliced in half
  5. 1/4 lb bacon, fried and chopped (or 1 package of bacon bits)
  6. 1 1/2 cup mayo
  7. 4 tsp white vinegar
  8. 3/8 cup white sugar
  9. 1/2 cup slivered almonds
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine the broccoli, green onions, celery, grapes and bacon.
  2. In a small bowl combine the mayo, vinegar and sugar, stirring to combine.
  3. Pour the dressing over the contents of the large bowl, stirring to combine and fully coat the salad ingredients.
  4. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill for 4 hours or overnight, before serving.
  5. In a small saucepan, turn on the heat over low, and add the almonds. Stir almost constantly under they begin to brown and you can smell a nutty aroma. Immediately remove from the heat and pour the almonds onto a small plate to cool.
  6. When ready to serve, garnish the salad with almonds.
Adapted from Patricia Remes
Adapted from Patricia Remes
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp and Vanilla Ice Cream

That title there is a long one, isn’t it?  I’ll be forthcoming – there is no recipe for ice cream in this link, though maybe another day.  It’s really just a serving suggestion. 🙂 This here post is about fruit crisp, summer farmers markets and knowing your audience.  

First, fruit crisps.  Know them?  Love them.  They are a cinch to make, flexible to include almost any fruit you have on hand and are somehow easy to make but still feel a little fancy when served, especially when topped with ice cream.

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Second, I was a late-joiner to the farmers market craze but am now hooked on my weekly Saturday morning visit.  It’s a great way to start the weekend, to explore local produce and product offerings, and to experiment with foods you might not otherwise try.  This last week there were lots of strawberries and rhubarb for sale so the makings of this fruit crisp were decided for me.

 Finally, know your audience.  This doesn’t apply just to food, but to life.  It’s probably the most important professional advice I’ve ever received when it comes to formal presentations at work, and is equally important (if not more) to keep this in mind in the kitchen.  Who are you feeding?  Do they have special dietary concerns, aversions or passions?  What did you feed them last time they were over?  (This one is hard to keep track of, and in my case, the answer is almost always “Mexican food”)  Is there something special they love to eat that would make them feel like the whole meal was in their honor?  If I can find something to hit that last point, I will go that route 100% of the time, time permitting.  In the case of this recipe I was looking for something to make for dessert for a belated Father’s Day celebration for my beloved Daddio and know that this man loves desserts, homemade treats and rhubarb, so a fruit crisp in his honor it would be the ticket.

 

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The dessert was a hit on the patio on a hot summer Saturday night and some of us (*ahem me*) made it back for seconds.  If rhubarb isn’t your thing, leave it out, add some other berries, or go for straight strawberries.  Find your bliss here, my friends.  And don’t forget the ice cream.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream
Serves 8
This fruit crisp is super easy to prepare and bake, and delicious when served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 5-6 stalks of rhubarb, washed and diced into 1 inch pieces
  2. 1 lb fresh strawberries, washed and quartered
  3. 1¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
  4. 1/2 lemon, zested
  5. 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  6. ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  7. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  8. ½ cup light brown sugar
  9. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  10. 1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
  11. 3/4 cup cold butter, diced (1 1/2 sticks)
  12. Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine the rhubarb, strawberries, ¾ cup granulated sugar, and the lemon zest.
  3. In a measuring cup, measure the orange juice and add the cornstarch, stirring until dissolved, then mix it into the fruit.
  4. Pour the fruit mixture into an 9 × 13 inch baking dish.
  5. For the topping, combine the flour, the remaining ½ cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, salt, and oatmeal.
  6. Add the cold butter and mix until the dry ingredients are moist and the mixture is in crumbles (the butter should be the size of grapes).
  7. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, covering the fruit completely, and bake for 1 hour, until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is light brown.
  8. Serve while warm, topped with ice cream.
Notes
  1. This recipe is easily prepared gluten free by substituting gluten free flour and oatmeal.
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa "How Easy Is That"
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Marinated Cheese

Hello there!  Who loves cheese?  I certainly do.  For a few years I battled lactose intolerance and the only thing I really missed eating was cheese… not ice cream, milk or yogurt.  Just cheese.  Now that I’m back on the dairy bandwagon I eat cheese with reckless abandon (all for the sake of calcium, right??) and this recipe is one of my favorite ways to gobble it up.

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I am probably too well known for serving a cheese platter with crackers and meats when hosting at my house and this recipe makes serving such a simple appetizer feel a little more special – and the prep is really simple!  Just make sure you allow at least 4 hours for this cheese to marinate in the refrigerator so that the garlic, herbs and oil can mix together and infuse into the cheese.

A big thanks to my friend Ann for sharing this recipe with me!

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Marinated Cheese
Cubes of Monterey Jack cheese marinated in garlic, herbs and olive oil.
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
4 hr 5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
4 hr 5 min
Ingredients
  1. 8oz Monterey Jack cheese, block
  2. 1/2 cup olive oil, good quality
  3. 2 gloves garlic, finely minced
  4. 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  5. 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  6. 1/2 tsp dried basil
  7. A pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Cube the cheese by slicing the block into long slices, then cut each slice into 3-4 long sticks of cheese. Cut these sticks into cubes of cheese.
  2. Place cubes of cheese in a medium bowl, then top with herbs, garlic, salt and olive oil.
  3. Stir gently to combine.
  4. Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 4 hours to allow the flavors to meld.
  5. Serve cold or at room temperature with toothpicks. Great on an appetizer platter with other meats, crackers, dips and cheeses.
Notes
  1. If you cannot find a block of Monterey Jack cheese you can use Mozzarella instead. Also, the infused olive oil is delicious to use as a dip for slices of baguette!
Adapted from Ann LaPorte
Adapted from Ann LaPorte
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Artichoke Dip

I don’t know when I became a big snob about artichoke dip but a few years ago I realized I had become strangely particular about what I defined as “good” artichoke dip.  That’s not to say I won’t eat any variety put in front of me, because I will, but somehow my mind became instilled with this lofty aspirational ideal of what this dip should be.

With rants like this I should have a been a philosopher.

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And so began a quest for the perfect dip.  Should it include spinach?  The Mr. and I decided no, it made it the dip too watery with all that extra liquid.  Should it include mozzarella or parmesan?  Parm, it is – less melt, more bite.  And then I got stuck determining the right ratio of cream cheese to mayo – and should I add sour cream in place of the mayo, or substitute half the mayo for sour cream?  My life is full of really difficult quandaries and decisions, can’t you see?

So, here we are people.  Years of trial (I’m not exaggerating, sadly), lots of inspiration from various online recipes, a dutiful and honest taste tester in my other half, Mr. Krentz, and we have arrived at what I think an artichoke dip should be.  The artichoke hearts are cut in two and stirred into the creamy mixture to maintain their form and texture, add some lemon juice and red pepper flakes to cut the creaminess of the dip and add some heat, and use a 50/50 ratio of cream cheese to mayo.

Enjoy this bad boy with carrots, celery, a baguette or by the spoonful – whatever makes you happy.  And if by chance you think this dip leaves something to be desired, please tell me in the comments!  I’m an open minded gal and would love to improve this appetizer if possible.

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Artichoke Dip
Serves 4
Served hot or cold, this artichoke dip hits the right balance of artichoke and creamy dip - enjoy with veggies, crackers or slices of baguette.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 can artichokes, drained thoroughly, and cut in half length-wise
  2. 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  3. 2 green onions, roughly chopped
  4. 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  5. 1/4 cup mayo
  6. 1/4 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
  7. 1/4 lemon, juiced
  8. 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor place the garlic and green onion and pulse 10 seconds, until finely minced.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl (cream cheese, mayo, parmesan cheese, lemon juice and red pepper flakes) and pulse 10-15 seconds until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add the halved artichoke hearts to the bowl and combine by hand with a spoon until incorporated into the mixture.
  5. Spread the dip in a greased 10" ceramic dish.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until browned and bubbling.
  7. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  8. Serve with carrots, celery, crackers or slices of bread.
Notes
  1. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a crowd.
  2. This dish is great prepared in advance - once the dip is in the dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes until browned and bubbling.
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Slutty Brownies

A quick search on Pinterest will reveal that I am not the first person to indulge in a pan of slutty brownies… what’s unique about my recipe is that it’s both gluten free and painfully easy thanks to the help of two Betty Crocker gluten free box mixes.

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“What is a slutty brownie?” you may ask – well, it’s three desserts in one, because one treat is never enough.  Chocolate chip cookie dough, topped with Oreo cookies, topped with brownie batter, baked and served warm – that’s a slutty brownie.  “Why the name?” you may ask – well, I have no idea, but that’s what they’re called so I’m sticking with it.

Serve this up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an extra indulgence, as if three kinds of dessert combined into one wasn’t enough.

Slutty Brownies
 
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Bryna Krentz
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 15
Slutty brownies are chocolate chip cookies, Oreos and brownies all in one! I like the Glutino brand of Oreos but any brand will do.
Ingredients
  • Betty Crocker, Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (19 oz)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • Betty Crocker, Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Brownie Mix (16 oz)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (1/2 stick)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp chocolate syrup
  • 1 package Glutino Gluten Free Chocolate Creme Cookies
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9×11 baking dish.
  3. Prepare the chocolate chip cookie mix according to the package instructions.
  4. Place the cookie dough in the pan, spreading flat to cover the entire pan surface.
  5. Place the oreo cookies evenly on the cooking dough, pressing in just slightly.
  6. Prepare the brownie batter (in the same bowl used to make the cookie dough) according to the package instructions, add the chocolate syrup to the mix.
  7. Pour the brownie batter into the pan, spreading evenly over the cookie dough and cookies, covering both entirely.
  8. Bake for 35 minutes, testing with a toothpick to ensure the dough and batter are cooked through. Cook another 5 minutes if the toothpick comes out with wet batter on it.
  9. Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream.