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Sticky Apple Pudding Cupcakes

With the thick blankets of clouds that rest on the towering mountains outside my kitchen window, the days have been getting progressively colder and colder. Today was a day just like that. It was bitterly chilly outside, so I spent the day sipping hot peppermint tea and baking.

I was sent some coupons from Foodbuzz and Duncan Hines in order to create something that “defies traditional”, so I attempted to do just that. These spicy little cakes are delicate, almost pudding-like in consistency and vegan!

Sticky Apple Pudding Cupcakes

Serves 25-30 mini-cupcakes
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Dessert
Delicate miniature vegan cupcakes are stuffed with sweet apple pie filling, giving them a consistency of sticky pudding.

Ingredients

  • 1 box Duncan Hines carrot cake or spice cake mix
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened apple sauce
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup Comstock apple pie filling

Directions

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2
In a large bowl mix together the cake mix, applesauce, water and vegetable oil and stir until just combined.
Step 3
Take the 1/2 cup of apple pie filling, dice and stir into the batter.
Step 4
Pour the batter into greased mini-cupcake tins, filling 2/3 of the way.
Step 5
Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out relatively clean.

I used the carrot cake mix but left out the pack of dehydrated carrots and raisins.
The applesauce is used as an egg substitute. 1/4 cup of applesauce = 1 egg.
Make sure you include the sugary syrup part after you dice the apple pie filling!
This batter appears thick, but it liquefies pretty quickly.
Fill the cupcake tins 2/3 full. These babies blow up!
While you wait for them to bake the 20-25 minutes, you can lick the spatula clean, thanks the the veganosity!
The consistency of these will make you keel over with happiness. I recommend smothering them with frosting and eating them with a spoon.
If you’re looking for something to whip together that’s ridiculously quick and easy, go for these!
Sweater and boots weather + sticky apple pudding cupcakes. HAPPY DANCE!

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Godiva Caramel Pecan Caffetini

This is technically not a martini. There is no gin or dry vermouth in this drink, but “Caffetini” is a much cuter way of describing a coffee cocktail. Therefore, I have proclaimed it officially a martini. I also put it in a martini glass. Any argument is now invalid.
As a participant in Foodbuzz’s Tastemaker Program, I get some free stuffs from time to time in order to review or create new recipes. Godiva and Foodbuzz sent me two of Godiva’s new limited edition coffee flavors to create a beverage recipe. I received Pumpkin Spice
and Caramel Pecan Bark. Immediately, I started daydreaming of delicious boozy dessert drinks perfect for a chilly autumn or winter evening.
My first recipe was created using all of these ingredients. It was awful. I attempted to make my own vanilla vodka, but I think the vodka has gone bad or the vanilla extract is too bitter to be mixed in. After dumping it all down the drain, I decided that simpler is better anyway!
Godiva coffee and Godiva chocolate liqueur. Yeah, that’ll do.
(Disclaimer: The liqueur was purchased on my own dime. Although if Godiva wants to send me another bottle free, I won’t complain…*hint hint*)

Caramel Pecan Caffetini

Serves 2
Prep time 10 minutes
Meal type Beverage
Adding coffee to the thick, rich liqueur balances this drink out so it’s not overwhelmingly heavy. The aroma of coffee, chocolate and caramel grace your senses with the the first sip. Sweet chocolate comes to the forefront when paired with the caramel sauce that has a hint of salt to develop the complex, buttery goodness of the caramel as it slowly drips down the glass to encase your fingers.

Ingredients

  • 4fl oz freshly brewed coffee
  • 4fl oz chocolate liqueur
  • 1 handful ice
  • Salted caramel sauce (for rimming (I used Trader Joe's Fleur de Sel))
  • Pecans (for garnish)

Directions

Step 1
Brew the coffee and set aside in the fridge to cool.
Step 2
Measure out the chocolate liqueur.
Step 3
Rim the martini glasses with caramel and garnish with a pecan.
Step 4
In a cocktail shaker, combine the coffee, ice and liqueur and shake vigorously. (This is where I had to get creative. We aren’t big hard liquor drinkers here, so there wasn’t a cocktail shaker in sight. Instead, I combined all the ingredients in a water bottle, shook vigorously and poured into the individual martini glasses through the top. Worked like a charm!)
Step 5
Strain (or pour through the water bottle cap) the shaken mix into individual martini glasses.
Step 6
Sip and enjoy bliss.

Adding coffee to the thick, rich liqueur balances this drink out so it’s not overwhelmingly heavy. The aroma of coffee, chocolate and caramel grace your senses with the the first sip. Sweet chocolate comes to the forefront when paired with the caramel sauce that has a hint of salt to develop the complex, buttery goodness of the caramel as it slowly drips down the glass to encase your fingers. Descriptive words I write feebly attempt to translate delicious images to your brain.

Now if only it would snow outside so I could light the fireplace and curl up in a fuzzy blanket with a foreign film, the world would be perfect.

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Happy Labor Day!

I hope you had a wonderful day off filled with hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, skydiving… Whatever your fancy! As for me, I mainly lazed about the house, did nothing, dyed my hair with blue streaks, did a little more of nothing and then made dinner.
Last Friday night at 8pm, my doorbell rang. On the front step awaited this bottle of barbecue sauce, sent to me for free from KC Masterpiece and Foodbuzz as part of the Tastemaker Program. I was sent this product free in order to review/create a recipe with. All my opinions are my own, blah blah blah. I now present to you:

Zesty Beer-Braised Baby Back Ribs

Serves 4-6
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 2 hours, 30 minutes
Total time 2 hours, 50 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs are tenderized with beer and drenched in a spicy sweet beer and barbecue sauce reduction.

Ingredients

  • 2-3lb babyback ribs
  • 12oz beer (I recommend something roasty like a nut brown)
  • 1 cup KC Masterpiece Southern Style barbecue sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar (tightly packed)
  • 1 lime (zested and juiced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch salt
  • pinch ground black pepper
  • pinch red pepper flakes

Directions

Step 1
In a large mixing bowl, combine the beer, barbecue sauce, garlic, brown sugar, lime juice and zest, onion powder, ground ginger, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Whisk until combined.
Step 2
Place the rack of ribs in a baking pan. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, then pour the marinade on top.
Step 3
Flip so the meaty side is drenched in the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and let it marinate in the fridge for 4-8 hours.
Step 4
When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 5
Take the ribs out of the marinade (setting the marinade aside) and encase them in foil, tightly sealed but with enough space to allow the air to circulate through.
Step 6
Bake at 275 for 2-2 + 1/2 hours, or until the meat falls off the bone.
Step 7
An hour before the ribs are done, pour the marinade into a saucepan, bring to a boil, then let simmer until reduced by half.
Step 8
Pull the ribs out of the oven, let rest for five minutes, then serve, drenching them with this sauce.

The hint of spice from the red pepper flakes, the caramel sweetness of the brown sugar, slight tang from the lime and the acidity of the KC Masterpiece Southern Style barbecue sauce make for a lively combination! Of course, adding beer makes everything better. There was never any doubt about that… I’d recommend using any amber/brown/stout – anything that’s incredibly roasty and malty will really round out this sauce and take it to the next level.

If you want to turn this into a full meal that teeters on the edge of health (but leans slightly toward the “not-THAT-healthy” side), grab a few ears of corn from the local farmers’ market, tear out the hairs and shove a couple of pats of butter between the husks.
Grill them outside over medium heat for about fifteen minutes, extinguish the flames that erupt from the singed husks (oops), turning every five minutes.
If you want to add ANOTHER vegetable, grab a potato or two (they come from the earth, therefore, I consider them a vegetable. Don’t argue! You’ll ruin it for me!) from the farmers’ market, wrap them in foil and grill them over medium for an hour, rotating every fifteen minutes. Then, stuff them with sour cream and butter so they no longer resemble anything healthy.
Hint: Taking pictures of your meal surrounded by green grass makes it appear to be more healthy. Green = healthy. I see lots of green in the picture above, therefore, it is indeed healthy.

There’s no better way to say farewell to summer than messily chowing down on a rack of ribs and freshly grilled corn, desperately trying to wipe off the butter that runs down your chin and slurping the sticky-sweet barbecue sauce from your fingers. Happy Labor Day!

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