Pumpkin Puppy Treats

Looking for a special treat for your four-legged friend? Pumpkin is a perfect ingredient when you’re baking for your dog. These treats are easy to make and are cheaper to make than most treats you can buy in the store.

Pumpkin Puppy Treats – makes 12 big treats, or 36 small treats

2 eggs
1/2c pumpkin
2T nonfat dry milk powder
2.5c flour

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine all ingredients using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, or mix by hand.
Add in water, 1T at a time, until dough comes together.
Roll out dough on a floured surface. Cut with your favorite cookie cutter (check out this set of dog bones).
 Place treats on baking sheet and bake 20 minutes. Flip the treats and bake another 20 minutes, until hard.
Nutritional Info, per small treat (for all the pups watching their weight):
Calories 34, Carbs 7g, Fat 1g, Protein 1g, Sugar 1g


Pumpkin Scones

After that snowfall this past weekend, I think it’s finally time to admit it’s fall. I’ve been holding onto summer as long as possible, but last night the heat went on. The one saving grace of the season though, is that it’s a perfect excuse to eat pumpkin desserts. But why limit it to just dessert?

The first pumpkin food I made this fall is a delicious pumpkin scone. After picking one up at Starbucks, I knew there had to be a cheaper way to indulge in this treat, and I was hoping to cut some calories on it by making it myself. Well, the cheaper part worked. But “healthier”? Not so much. These scones have a whopping 508 calories per serving, compared to 480 calories in the ones at Starbucks. They do manage to have 5g less fat though! (See bottom of post for some options to cut out calories in this recipe.)

The best part about these scones? They take about 10 minutes to mix together, and 15 minutes to bake. Perfect to whip up in the morning… try putting them in the oven and then hopping in the shower, or getting ready for your day – I guarantee the smell will draw you right back into the kitchen and you’ll be ready to try one the second they’re done.

Pumpkin Scones
Adapted from Food.com (Starbucks copycat)

For scones:
2c flour
7T sugar
1T baking powder
1/2t salt
1/2t cinnamon
1/2t nutmeg
1/4t cloves
1/4t ginger
6T butter, cold and cubed
1/2c pumpkin
3T fat free French Vanilla coffee creamer
1 egg

For sugar glaze:
1c + 1T confectioner’s sugar
2T skim milk

For spice glaze:
1c + 3T confectioner’s sugar
2T skim milk
1/2t cinnamon
1/4t nutmeg
1/8t ginger
1/8t cloves

Preheat oven to 425 and lightly grease a baking sheet.
Make the scones:
Combine all dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix in butter cubes until there are no chunks remaining. Alternatively, use a pastry blender or food processor to mix.

In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. (Half and half can be used in place of the coffee creamer, but will lack the vanilla flavor.)

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just mixed.
On a floured surface, form the dough into a ball. Use a knife to cut into 6 scone-shaped pieces. (Or fit dough into molds of a scone pan.)
Place scones on the baking sheet and bake about 15 minutes, until golden. 

 Make the sugar glaze:
Mix confectioner’s sugar and milk until smooth.
When scones are cool, spread over the top of each scone to cover. 
Make the spice glaze:
Combine sugar, milk and spices and mix to smooth.
Pour into a plastic bag and cut the tip. Drizzle over the sugar glaze on each scone. 
 (Excuse the lack of a good photo – these didn’t last long enough to take one!)

Nutrition Information (all amounts are approximate and per scone):
With both glazes: Calories 508, Carbs 95g, Fat 12g, Protein 6g, Sugar 64g
Spice glaze only: Calories 421, Carbs 74g, Fat 12g, Protein 5.6g, Sugar 42g
Sugar glaze only: Calories 410, Carbs 71g, Fat 12g, Protein 5.6g, Sugar 40g
No glaze: Calories 323, Carbs 50g, Fat 12g, Protein 5.5g, Sugar 18.5g



where I've been?  It's been 3 months since my last post on here, and 5 since I've posted a new recipe. Well I've been a bit busy getting something new up and running…

In May, after multiple people started asking me if I could make them cookies, cupcakes, etc., I decided to start a home bakery business. It's still a work in progress, but check out the website: www.sweet-treats-bakery.com!

And in all this time I've been gone, I've had plenty of opportunities to try out some new recipes, so stay tuned for those (I promise they're coming soon).


Relay for Life - I need your help

This year I am helping save lives from cancer by taking part in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. Our team, Bleacher Bums, has raised over $128,000 since the team started in 2006. Last year, we set the goal at $50,000 and came just short, raising about $46,000. This year we once again set the goal at $50,000. Can we do it? Of course we can!

I'm participating in celebration of my grandmother and aunt, both of whom have the amazing fortune of being able to say they're survivors. My grandma will be celebrating 5 years cancer free this June and I'd really love to be able to show her my support by meeting my fundraising goal.

So, I need your help! In order for us to reach our goal I need to personally raise $500 in the next 52 days. Will you help saves lives and donate to me now?

Remember that every dollar counts. Please consider giving up that coffee run one morning and donating that $5 to Relay instead. If each person on this email was able to give just $10, I be over halfway to my goal. As a special incentive, if you donate $50 or more, I'll send you a tasty batch of anti-cancer sugar cookies.

Just click here to make a secure online donation to my personal fundraising page. It only takes a minute to donate and every dollar counts! Or feel free to mail a check to me, made out to American Cancer Society. Contact me at bakesweettreats@gmail.com and I'll give you my address, or the address for the local ACS branch.

Thank you in advance for helping me do my part in this fundraising challenge!


Blood Orange Trifles

If you've never checked out Food Network Magazine, I highly suggest you do it. Every month without fail I find myself ripping out multiple pages of recipes I want to try, and they have a great table of contents in the front that has a picture index of all the recipes included in the issue. Don't want to spend the $15? All of their recipes are listed online, you just don't get the extra little articles.

This recipe was one of the ones I ripped out of that magazine, anticipating the day when blood oranges would be in season.

Even after I found some at the store, though, I put off making this. Why? One word - custard. The stuff scares me so much. I am not a very talented whisk-er, and the constant whisking requirement just doesn't work for me (see below for my trick to get around this).

Once I saw the recipe for the chocolate blood orange cupcakes, I took it as a sign that it was time. And it was SO worth the wait. The cookies are sweet, but not overly sweet, and the custard mixture gives it a light and smooth texture.

Blood Orange Trifles
(makes 4)

6 blood oranges
2/3 cup sugar
3T orange liqueur
3 large egg yolks
1t lemon juice
1/2c heavy cream
ladyfinger cookies

Squeeze the juice from 4 blood oranges. Reserve 1T of the juice.

Combine the remaining juice with 1/3c sugar, 1T orange liqueur, and 1/4c water in a saucepan. Boil and cook for 2-3 minutes, until a syrupy consistency. Set aside to cool.

Beat the cream until stiff.

In a double boiler over medium-low, whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice, the remaining 1T orange juice, 1/3c sugar, and 2T liqueur.

Whisk constantly until the custard is thick, about 10 minutes.

(See the trick? Yep, I'm using the whisking attachment on my hand mixer!)

Remove the bowl from the double boiler and continue whisking until cool.
Fold the whipped cream into the custard.

Peel 2 oranges and separate the segments.
Dip ladyfinger halves into the syrup mixture, then layer in each glass (4). Top with custard and orange segments. Repeat to form another layer, until all ingredients are used.
(Can't find ladyfingers? Me either. Just use another similarly shaped/textured cookie.)

Cover and chill 2 hours.
To serve, drizzle syrup mixture on top and sprinkle with crushed ladyfingers.


Blood Orange Lemonade

I think I've finally found the perfect drink. 

Seriously, if you like lemonade and oranges, you will absolutely love this. The best part is that it only takes about 10 minutes to make start to clean up. 

On this nice sunny Sunday morning, I wish I had more of it to enjoy with my blood orange scone (coming soon). In fact I think I'll go make some more right now...

Blood Orange Lemonade

1c sugar
1c blood orange juice
1c lemon juice
1 lemon
1/2c water
3c club soda
1 blood orange

Make a simple syrup: Mix the sugar and water in a saucepan on medium heat until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
Mix orange and lemon juices, simple syrup, and club soda in a pitcher.

Slice the lemon and orange into rounds and put in the pitcher with the lemonade.

Serve over ice with another splash of club soda.


Chocolate Blood Orange Cupcakes

So you're probably wondering why I love blood oranges so much right? (Even if you're not, I'm going to tell you.)

The first week I was studying abroad in Italy, my roommates took a trip to the local grocery store. Now I didn't speak much Italian at that point so the whole experience was a little bit overwhelming. Fortunately we went during an off-peak time so there weren't people everywhere to make it even worse.

But the store was tiny and I couldn't read any of the labels so I stuck with fruits and vegetables and other such easily identifiable things... or so I thought.

Well I got home that night and went to eat an orange from the 5lb bag I bought. I started to peel it, and started to break apart the wedges, and then I notice that the orange was a weird color. Being in a different country and not knowing how fresh food was, etc., I figured the orange had gone bad. So I started to peel a new one... same problem.

It took me about 4 oranges before I realized that these weren't the same oranges I was used to. After giving one a try, I fell in love, and proceeded to buy one of those massive bags every few days.

Since they're so hard to find in the Northeast US, I gradually forgot how good they were. But when I saw a recipe on another blog about a year ago that used blood oranges, I knew I needed to find some and get baking. It took me a year, but here we are...

Chocolate & Blood Orange Cupcakes

1c coconut milk
1/3c pure olive oil
1t vanilla extract
1t blood orange zest
3/4c sugar
1c flour
1T almond meal
1/3c cocoa
3/4t baking soda
1/2t baking powder
1/4t salt
1/2c butter, at room temperature
2-3c confectioners' sugar
1/2t vanilla extract
3T blood orange juice
1t blood orange zest
1-2T heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350.

Whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, olive oil, vanilla extract (1t), and orange zest.

Note: For this recipe, you'll need about one large orange for both the zest and juice.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and almond meal.
(I didn't have any almond meal on hand, and couldn't find it at the store, so I substituted corn meal.)

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Divide the batter between 12 cupcake liners and bake for 18-20 minutes, then let cool.

While the cupcakes are baking/cooling, make the icing.
Cream the butter until fluffy. Beat in 1c confectioners' sugar.
Mix in orange juice, zest, and vanilla extract.
Gradually add more confectioners' sugar and heavy cream until desired consistency.

Can't find blood oranges? This recipe would work equally as well with any type of orange, but the frosting would obviously be orange instead of such a pretty pink color.

Blood Orange Week

It's officially blood orange week here on Baking Sweet Treats! I love these little guys so much that when I saw at the grocery store my mind immediately came up with about 100 ways to use them in baking. Sadly, living in New England, you can only get them for a few weeks a year and they're too expensive to buy enough for all my ideas, so I had to narrow it down to 5 to try this year, which I'll be sharing with you over the next 7 days.

(Doesn't it just look so juicy and good?)

Make sure you check them all out - I'll be posting a survery at the end of the week to see which one was your favorite!


Peanut Butter Brownies

I've always been a sucker for the peanut butter and chocolate combo. Give me a pack of Reese's and they'll be gone before you can even open yours. Surprisingly, I haven't done much with the combo in terms of baking, except for these chocolate peanut butter truffles (which I couldn't stop thinking about for weeks later).

So when someone recently requested I make them brownies, I went for a peanut butter twist. These brownies are very dense - more of a fudge base than your typical cake-y brownie. Whatever you want to call them though, they're worth making.

Sweet, salty, crunchy, and chewy - the perfect blend.

Peanut Butter Brownies

For the brownies:
3/4c butter, room temperature
7 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1.5c sugar
1.5t vanilla extract
1/4t salt
4 eggs
1c flour
1c roasted peanuts, chopped

For the frosting:
1c peanut butter, chunky
1/4c butter, room temperature
3/4c confectioners' sugar
1/8t salt
1/8t nutmeg
1T milk
1t vanilla extract

For the coating:
7 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4c butter, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 325. Line a 13x9x2" pan with foil, then grease.

Make the brownies:
Place butter and chocolates in a saucepan over low heat until melted and combined, stirring constantly.
Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the sugar, vanilla extract, and salt.

Add the eggs one at a time.

Stir in the flour, then the peanuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, then let cool.

Make the frosting:
Beat together the peanut butter and the butter until smooth.
Beat in the sugar, salt, and nutmeg.

Add in the milk and vanilla extract.
Spread the frosting on top of the cooled brownies.

For the coating:
Combine the chocolate and the butter in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until melted and smooth.
Drop on top of the frosting and spread to cover.

Chill the brownies until the coating is set, about 1.5 hours.
To store, cover and keep chilled.


Green Velvet Cupcakes

I'm back! Sorry for the recent disappearance, but life (and by life I mean work) has been getting in the way of baking and blogging. But with a holiday coming up this week, I couldn't let the chance pass by to try something new.

This week at work my team somehow got into a discussion about red velvet cake. Ever since then, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Red velvet has always been one of my favorite flavors of cupcake, but I've never been corageous enough to try it. Something about the unique ingredients (vinegar and buttermilk) has always scared me. Like I've said before though, I'm trying to start incorporating new ingredients into my baking, so I figured there's no time like now to try these.

Why green velvet though? Well obviously - St. Paddy's Day! This holiday will always remind me of the lepruchan that magically dyed the milk green every year and left green cakes in hidden places (not to mention the stories my mom tells about my sister and her best friend running all over the house looking for the lepruchaun). So, in the spirit of the holiday, Green Velvet Cupcakes (makes 6-7):

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
To make the cupcakes:

To make the frosting:

Add green food coloring to the frosting until the desired color.

I learned a few tricks while making these that might help you too:

No buttermilk on hand? Don't need enough to buy a full carton of it? Just mix either white vinegar or lemon juice with milk and let sit for 5 minutes. Since this recipe already calls for white vinegar, I just used this to make my buttermilk. Pour 1T vinegar into a measuring cup, then fill to the 1c line with milk and let sit. (Since I only needed 1/4c buttermilk for this recipe, I used 1/4T vinegar and filled to the 1/4c line with milk.)

Looking to cut some calories? Try using Neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese. Less calories and fat, but still just as tasty.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, decorate them with the frosting and sprinkles (I used light green sugar pearls), then enjoy! Keep these stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days... if you can manage to keep them around that long.


Pomegranate Blueberry (Raspberry) Sorbet

After those pork chops the other day, I had about half a container of blueberries left over that I needed to somehow use. Those combined with the left over pomegranate juice from the Berry Chai Infusion made the perfect sorbet.

To make this, combine 1c of water with 1/2c of sugar and boil until the sugar dissolved. Chill until cold, about 1 hour, then combine with 2c pomegranate juice, 1/4c lemon juice, and 1T raspberry extract. Chill again (or chill the additional juices before adding). Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to instructions. About 5 minutes before finished, add in 1/2c blueberries.

I wish this had scooped better, but what was lacking in consistency was more than made up for with taste. This sorbet is super tart and tangy, and a great snack for dessert or just a quick refreshment.


Pork Chops with Blueberry Sauce

When I saw a picture of this on Love & Olive Oil, my mouth literally started watering. I'm not a pork chop person by any means - I've never cooked them before and they were always my least favorite meal when my mom made them. They always just seem so dry and chewy. Not my thing. But these... something about the blueberries in the sauce peaked the interest of my sweet tooth.

The original recipe called for boneless pork chops, but those weren't looking so great in the store so I went with the bone-in version. Probably not the best choice. As usual, these were very dry and I could barely eat them. Even the sauce didn't make up for it - way too buttery for me. I'm not going to blame the recipe, but rather the cook. It just looked so promising that I think I might have to try it again with a few tweaks - boneless meat and less butter for sure.

Pork Chops with Blueberry Sauce

4 boneless pork chops
1/2c red wine
1/2c blueberries
2T butter
1 shallot, finely diced
1/4c water
1/2 of a lemon (zest and juice)
fresh parsley, chopped

(1) Preheat the oven to 425.
(2) Season both sides of the pork chops with salt and pepper.
(3) Brown the pork chops, 1-2 minutes per side, in a skillet with about 1T olive oil.

(4) Place the pan with the pork chops in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
(5) Heat about 1T olive oil in another skillet and saute the shallots until golden brown.

(6) Add wine and water to skillet and boil down, about 2 minutes.
(7) Add the blueberries.
(8) When the blueberry skins begin to burst open, add the lemon zest and juice.
(9) Continue to boil until thick, then take off heat and stir in the butter and a pinch of salt.

(10) Serve sauce over pork chops, garnished with parsley.