Monkey Bread

monkey-bread-out

Instead of hosting a Christmas party this year, we decided that it would be simpler and therefore more fun to host a post-Christmas brunch. For some reason a brunch just seems less stressful than a full evening party– maybe it’s the fact that the foods are easier to prepare, maybe it just seems more casual… in any case, that’s what we decided to do. Of course, “casual” doesn’t mean “starving,” so of course I had to come up with an appropriate selection of sweet and savory goodies. And one of the first things I knew I’d be making was monkey bread.

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Pumpkin Pecan Chip Muffins

pumpkin-muffins

I’ve been making these muffins for years now, and they are invariably hailed by my friends as “the best muffins ever.” They’re moist, tender, with plenty of flavor from the pumpkin and spices, and studded with white chocolate chips and pecans as nice surprises in the middle. I tend to make them in fall (our freezer always has a batch ready to defrost for snacks at this time of year) but have been known to make them on a whim out-of-season– they’re that good! Make them yourself if you don’t believe me, and you will be converted!

I will note that the recipe below makes 12 muffins, but if you don’t want to find yourself with half a can of leftover pumpkin and half a bag of leftover chocolate chips, you may as well make a double-batch. You won’t regret it!

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Apple Fritter Doughnuts

apple-fritters

One of the kitchen gadgets I use least often is the mini deep-fryer– it’s perfect for frying up a batch of chicken tenders, or an experimental batch of cronuts (I promise I’ll blog about those someday), but then you’re left with a bunch of oil you don’t know what to do with, and it’s a pain to dispose of, so I rarely go to the trouble. Still, once you’ve fried one thing, you may as well fry a bunch of things to avoid waste, so after my husband made some of the aforementioned chicken tenders that’s what I decided to do. But what to make?

I ran through the possibilities in my head, discarding some for being too involved, others for being too boring, and kept coming back to apple fritters. I love apple fritters, but almost never buy them because I invariably get distracted by the chocolate-covered old-fashioned donuts that are my favorites. But I’d faithfully bookmarked the recipe at some point, and when I came across it on my computer it was like fate was telling me that now was the time!

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Coconut Rice Pudding

coco-rice-pudding

I was prompted to make this by sheer necessity– I had a bunch of leftover rice that was starting to harden in the refrigerator, and a cupful of coconut milk left from a tom kha gai recipe that I had no other plans for. It was really inevitable that I’d end up making rice pudding out of the two items.

I really love kheer, which is a coconut-cardamom rice pudding that I’ve only ever had in Indian restaurants. Sadly, I didn’t have any cardamom in the house and it was 12 degrees F outside, so I wasn’t about to go out just to buy some. Instead, I decided to make a plain coconut rice pudding and see what I could do with it later.

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Snickerdoodle Blondies

snicker-blondies

These Snickerdoodle Blondies are basically like crack. Not that I’ve ever tried crack. Hmm, perhaps I’d better find a better analogy. The White Witch’s enchanted Turkish delight? (which, by the way, I will never make for Reader’s Digest(ibles) because I don’t like it) The lotus from the Land of the Lotus-Eaters? Anyone? Or perhaps I should just say that they’re like the butteriest, chewiest, most delicious sugar cookie in the world, kissed with cinnamon, redolent with vanilla, and utterly irresistible. Because they are.

Suffice it to say that these are good. Incredibly good. Addictively good. And they’re made from the most basic of pantry ingredients. Honestly, if I could figure out a way to make these without softening and creaming butter (which requires a mixer) I’d probably make them on a weekly basis and clog up my arteries with buttery goodness. Perhaps luckily for me, I do need a mixer (though don’t think I haven’t considered trying a different technique), so I only make these when I feel that there are deserving people around to eat them. Or when I need a last-minute treat to bring somewhere and haven’t shopped for specialty ingredients.

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Orange Spice Palmiers

orange-palmiers-close

So I was looking for something simple to make for a thank-you gift for some friends who did us a favor– I always promise baked goods for things like this. Since our friends had little kids I wanted to make sure that whatever I made was relatively mess-free, as well as being easy to eat and not too outrageously sugary. When I thought of palmiers I knew I’d hit on the right idea. But you know me, I never let well enough alone– I wasn’t going to go to the trouble of making my own puff pastry (it never turns out well for me) so I had to doctor them up somehow.

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Secret Ingredient Apple Pie

miso-apple-pie-pretty

It’s fall in New England, and that means apple-picking! Our family recently took advantage of a gorgeous fall day to head out to an orchard and participate in that most quintessential of fall activities, and came home tired, happy, and weighed down with a full nineteen pounds of apples. While my daughter has been doing her part to consume them (at least insofar as “taking two bites out of an apple and declaring it ‘all done'” can be considered consumption), that’s still a mountain of apples. So I thought I’d try my hand at another quintessential favorite– the apple pie, but with the added twist of a secret ingredient. What is it, you ask? Read on…

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