Pumpkin Caramel Bars

I pinned so many pumpkin recipes over the weekend and decided to give the Fudgy Pumpkin Caramel Swirl Bars from the Food Charlatan a try.  I have over 250 bars and brownie recipes pinned to my Pinterest board — you can check them out here.

I put my own twist on them by adding one-half cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips on top of the melted caramel.  The end result was a cross between a spice cookie, a snickerdoodle, and a salted caramel brownie.


  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 and 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons vanilla (not a typo — yes Tablespoons)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (11 ounce) package caramels
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (optional:  I added this, it was not included in the original recipe)


1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper, or grease the pan. (You can do foil too. Grease the foil).
2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, melt the butter.
3. Add the brown sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla, and beat well.
4. Add the flour to the bowl but don’t mix. Spoon the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into the flour and gently stir into the flour.
5. Beat well, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
6. Pour about half of the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth it on the bottom of the pan.
7. Bake at 350 for about 19-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and it is set in the middle.
8. Remove from the oven but don’t turn it off.
9. Meanwhile, melt the caramels and milk in a medium microwave safe bowl. Start with 45 seconds, then stir well. Continue to heat in 30-45 second intervals, stirring well each time. When the caramels are almost smooth, stop microwaving and stir until smooth.
10. Pour the caramel over the hot baked layer in pan, spreading to within 1/2 inch of the edges.  Sprinkle the optional chocolate chips over the caramel.
11. Drop reserved batter by spoonfuls over caramel layer. Cut through batter with knife several times for a marble effect.
12. Bake a second time for 25-30 minutes or until center is set. A toothpick test won’t work because the caramel layer is too gooey.

Fall is Coming Y’all – Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

Y’all!  I am ready for fall, and a change of scenery with pumpkins, and pumpkin waffle candles a burning! It’s technically not until September 22, but as soon as pumpkin hits the shelves at Trader Joe’s my happy season has begun.  I had my first PSL from Starbucks on August 29 – fall is my favorite!

This recipe from Crazy for Crust for Pumpkin Coffee Cake will be your new fall friend.  Here’s the thing, it doesn’t call for any eggs.  Don’t panic, it turns out fine (I was worried, so I wanted to offer you some reassurance).

For the Coffee Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used pastry flour)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pure pumpkin puree (I swear by Trader Joe’s organic canned pumpkin)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup nonfat milk

For the Streusel
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Pinch salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9×9” pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
Stir in pumpkin, vegetable oil, vanilla and milk until mixed. Pour into prepared pan. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, mix melted butter with 1/4 cup flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir with a fork to
combine. Spread on top of pumpkin cake layer.
4. Bake 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted 2” from the side of the pan comes out clean.
5. Store covered on the counter for up to 2 days or freeze for up to one month

This recipe along with 400 other yummy recipes for breads and muffins can be found on my Pinterest board.  Please feel free to follow!

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Banana Bread

I was gifted the most lovely cookbook for my birthday and I’ve already made several recipes including the one I am sharing with you today – Brown Sugar Banana Bread.  I love a moist slice of breakfast bread with coffee in the morning, but sometimes banana bread can be, well, boring. I love the twist on this recipe.  Faith, Family and the Feast is written by Kent and Shannon Rollins. You may know Kent from his wildly popular Cowboy Cooking show on his YouTube channel.

So here is the recipe:


2 very ripe bananas (I used three in my recipe and it was fine)

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1 stick butter, melted

1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 TBL light brown sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 with a rack in the middle. Butter a 9×5 inch baking pan. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the bananas, cream cheese, and sugar until smooth. Mix in the butter.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly mix the flour mixture into the banana mixture. Whisk in the vanilla. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the batter.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool to warm, then run a knife around the sides and turn the bread out of the pan. Invert and serve.


A Fun Way to Serve Ice Cream – in a Watermelon

I follow the Satellite Sisters podcast – which if you are looking for a fun way to connect with other women who feel like friends – please listen to their show. Recently, as they were sharing their plans for celebrating the 4th, they talked about a longtime family tradition of filling a watermelon with ice cream. I don’t have anything else going on so I thought I would give it whirl.

First, I took a small roundish watermelon, washed the rind, and cut it in half lengthwise starting at the stem. I scooped out all the watermelon down to the rind and saved it for another day (I love watermelon in the summer!). You won’t need the other half so just save it too, or give it to a neighbor.

We also cut off just a little of the end so the roundness of the watermelon half would make it level. I set the watermelon down inside a small dish and froze the watermelon for several hours.

I let Miss Bee select the flavors of ice cream to represent the colors of the watermelon – pints of mint chocolate chip, vanilla, and strawberry. All Bluebell ice cream, of course. Three pints easily filled the watermelon. It kind of reminded me of Neopolitan ice cream. Mother served it all the time and I remember what a treat it was to have her slice it right from the carton and put on a dessert plate after dinner.  It was so pretty!

I forgot to take a photo of spooning the ice cream into the hollowed-out watermelon, but basically I treated it like I was icing a cake. With an off-set spatula (or the back of a big tablespoon), just spread the first layer of mint chocolate chip ice cream into the bottom of the watermelon. Spread up the sides to the top and try to make it evenly spread around the entire, inside base of the watermelon. Put the watermelon back into the freezer and let it freeze for several hours. Repeat with the vanilla, then freeze until hard. Lastly, before I put in the strawberry ice cream I sprinkled in few chocolate chips to resemble watermelon seeds, scooped in strawberry ice cream, a few more chips, then emptied the pint evenly spreading the ice cream all over the top to the edges of the watermelon rind. I took a few more chocolate chips and placed them upside down in the ice cream. We let it freeze another few hours, then we had the finished product!

I have been collected vintage blue glassware lately, and this set of hobnail glasses were perfect for serving the ice cream. You don’t always have to use bowls to serve ice cream – use your pretty glassware. This set came from The Antique Azalea (follow her on Instagram).

We tried seeing if you could slice pieces of the watermelon and serve it, but the rinds were frozen solid so we just decided to scoop out the frozen dessert. You could definitely add hot fudge sauce, whipped cream, and a cherry. But, we made do with a sprig of peppermint from the garden.

We enjoyed sitting by the pool, with our feet in the water, enjoying our new ice cream treat. Happy summer y’all!

Blueberry Butterscotch Pie – Oh Me Oh My!

Do you know what you can do with all those beautiful blueberries available in stores right now? Let’s think outside blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, and blueberries on your yogurt – let’s put them into a pie!

I am sharing bestie’s recipe for Blueberry Butterscotch Pie. She first made this for me about 20 years ago, and ever since, it has been Mr. Bee’s favorite pie recipe. When blueberries bake, they pop open and make the most delicious berry pie. I promise if you make this, first, people are going to think it came from a bakery because it’s so beautiful, and second they will for sure ask you for the recipe.  Here’s a printable for your recipe box.



One pie crust, unbaked

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

1-pint blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt


1/4 cup butter

small bag of butterscotch morsels (if 12 oz bag, you are only using half the bag)

1/8 tsp salt

3/4 cup flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine lemon juice and blueberries in a bowl. Stir in sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Gently mix.

Pour into a 9-inch unbaked pie shell. Cover edges with foil and bake 20 minutes.

While pie is baking, melt morsels and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat, stir in salt and flour. Blend until it forms large crumbs. Transfer to a small heat-proof bowl and place in the freezer while pie continues to bake so the mixture firms up. When the pie comes out the oven, take the crumble mixture and stir it with a fork to break up the crumbs slightly. Sprinkle evening over the pie and bake the pie for another 25 minutes. Watch the edges of the crust, and if they start to brown too much, cover again with foil.

Let it cool and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Be sure to print the recipe for your files here.  This pie says, “Hello, Summer!”


Shirley Temple Cake

Looking through Pinterest recently, I found a recipe from Tastes of Lizzy T for a Shirley Temple Cake!  I loved this iconic drink when I was little.  Mother and Daddy would order me this mocktail to enjoy as they visited with their friends over dinner.  I always felt so special.  In fact, I dare you not to smile when you sip one!

A bartender may have invented the origin of the Shirley Temple drink at Chasen’s, a restaurant in Beverly Hills, to serve the then-child actress Shirley Temple. Temple herself was not a fan of the drink, as she told Scott Simon in an NPR interview in 1986: “The sugary sweet, icky drink? Yes, well, those were created in the probably middle 1930s by The Brown Derby Restaurant in Hollywood, and I had nothing to do with it. But, all over the world, I am served that. People think it’s funny. I hate them. Too sweet!” Adding an ounce and a half of vodka or rum produces a “Dirty Shirley.”  I wonder how Miss Temple would like that?

The cake is really yummy.  It’s very much like a pound cake base with a citrus finish from the added 7Up and lemon extract.  The maraschino cherries add a pretty touch.  Find the recipe from my Pinterest Cake Board here.

Since I have made it, I will make a few suggestions on how I would modify the recipe for next time.

  1.  I would get a larger jar of cherries and chop them, so they are more evenly distributed through the cake instead of just putting in whole cherries.
  2. The recipe calls for you to pour the reserved juice over the cake once it’s removed from the cake pan.  I would probably leave the cake in the pan, pour the juice over a hot cake, let it sit for about 10 minutes, then invert it onto your cake plate.  I think this would allow the juice to absorb more into the cake.

Other than that, I think this is a winning recipe and would be perfect to have for dinner or take to a pot luck.  Add a dollop of whipped cream and a sprig of mint, and it makes for a pretty presentation.

I hope Shirley approves — I know I do!

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Miss Bee gifted me Martha Stewart’s Cookie Perfection cookbook for Christmas. With extra time on my hands, I made her recipe for Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies. OMG. These cookies are not only beautiful, but they are so delicious and perfect with a cold glass of milk. For reals.

Her recipes require a little more time than most, but it was worth it. The result is a cross between a pecan sandie and a sable cookie. It’s very rich and buttery. What I like is the peanut butter filling is a not too sweet addition to the nutty flavor and texture of the added oatmeal.

I made my cookie size smaller than what Martha states in her recipe and I also used a scallop-edge cookie cutter to make the cookies look pretty.

Here’s the link to the recipe .  Let me know if you make them!

Happy baking!

Sister’s Strawberry Bread

Spring and summer say strawberries.  Storm Farms in Arlington is a great place to pick your own berries.  And this link from DFW Child lists all the local farms for other produce and “farm to fork” inspiration.

I love this recipe from my sister for Strawberry Bread.  It’s the perfect pink color, affords just the right touch of sweet to a salad plate, and is lovely with a cup of coffee or tea.  And, since this recipe makes two loaves, you can share with a friend to make a beautiful gift wrapped in cellophane and a bow.

Sister’s Strawberry Bread

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 cups of sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups thawed, sliced frozen strawberries (a one-pound bag)
1 cup of vegetable oil
1-1/4 cups chopped pecans (optional, I usually omit because I’m not a nut-in-my-bread person)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift together the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, strawberries and oil. Add wet ingredients to dry ones and combine them. Add pecans (optional) and blend well. Pour into two loaf pans prepared with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Bake for 60-75 minutes or until bread tests done. Cool in pan 5 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.

It’s yummy on its own, or sandwich two slices between soft cream cheese. To make it into a dessert, pile with fresh strawberries (just picked from the farm), a dollop of whipped cream and a sprig of mint.  Strawberry Shortcake with a twist!  Enjoy.

Cast Iron Cooking – Fleischmann’s Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are my #spiritanimal – that and white cake and sprinkles. I love to cook in my grandmother’s cast iron skillet.  You know you can use it for anything, not just savory. It’s the perfect baking dish for cakes, cobblers, biscuits and cinnamon rolls.

I was flipping through a magazine recently and saw an advertisement for Fleischmann’s yeast.  I looked up their website which has tons of terrific sweet and savory recipes and gave the one for cinnamon rolls a whirl. Do not be intimidated by making homemade bread.  It’s super easy, you just can’t be rushed.  This is a Saturday afternoon kind of activity.  Here’s the link to the recipe.  They bake beautifully!

Homemade Skillet Cinnamon Rolls
These easy homemade skillet cinnamon rolls are ready to eat in
under two hours and will bring the entire family to the table.

Yield 10 servings Prep Time 40 minutes
Rise Time 45 minutes Bake Time 23 to 25 minutes

2-1/2 to 3 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 packet Fleischmann’s® RapidRise Yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup corn syrup, light OR dark
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk


Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, dry yeast, and salt in a large mixer bowl and stir until blended. Place water and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH in 15-second increments until very warm but not hot to the touch (120° to 130°F. Butter won’t melt completely). (My note: 110 degrees is the ideal temperature for yeast to survive – I think 120-130 is too high).

Add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, add egg and mix, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in just enough remaining flour so that the dough will form into a ball.

Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic about 6 to 8 minutes. Dough should spring back when lightly pressed with 2 fingers. Cover with a towel; let rest for 10 minutes.

While dough is resting, prepare caramel syrup. Combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a 10-inch iron (ovenproof) skillet. Heat on stovetop until butter melts completely. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Roll dough to a 12 x 15-inch rectangle. For filling, mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Spread the softened butter over dough and sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter. Roll up from long side, pinching seam to seal. Cut into 10 equal slices. Arrange rolls, cut side down, on top of syrup in skillet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 23 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool skillet for 10 minutes on a wire rack, do not remove cinnamon rolls from skillet.

Combine butter, vanilla, and sugar in a small bowl, adding enough milk to reach desired consistency. Drizzle or spread frosting over warm cinnamon rolls while still in the skillet.

Be sure to check out Fleischmann’s website for other recipes – especially for pizza!

Summer’s Favorite – Zucchini Bread

We didn’t put zucchini in our garden this year because it’s a hearty vegetable that produces with gusto!  While I like zucchini, I didn’t have enough recipes in my arsenal to keep up with the demand of a zucchini crop.  But, I’ve baked a few recipes this summer I thought you’d enjoy, and I found a savory main dish with zucchini as the star. Even though it is passing the 100 degree mark here in the Texas, a southern lady never let’s the heat stop her from baking in the kitchen.

Here’s a zucchini chocolate chip bread shared on the Stone Gable blog from Paula Deen. It’s really good, but is a departure from the heavy breakfast bread we are typically used to — you know the consistency of the pumpkin bread from Starbucks. This is more like a cake.

3 cups flour

1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate chips
1 TBS orange zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 9×5 loaf pans.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking soda in a large bowl and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat eggs until light and fluffy. Add sugar and beat until well blended. Stir in oil, vanilla, zucchini, pecans, chocolate chips and orange zest. Stir all ingredients.
Add all sifted ingredients. And stir in till just mixed.
Pour batter into 2 prepared loaf pans.
Bake for 50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the bread and it comes out clean.
Remove from pans to cool.
Coral Gables also shares a recipe for Stuffed Zucchini Boats here that I am going to try this week.  You get all your daily vegetables and protein in his recipe for sure.
Back to bread, here’s one more recipe for Zucchini Bread with Brown Sugar and Oats Crumble from my favorite gal Amy Hannon in her cookbook Euna Mae’s – named after her beloved Grandmother.
{makes 2 loaves}3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil {I use canola}
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons good vanilla extract
2 cups fresh grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts-for the topping-
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup soft butter
*Euna Mae’s is a Great Day Farms ambassadorGrease and flour two 8×4 loaf pans or spray with Baker’s Joy. I prefer glass or stoneware. Do not use metal pans for this bread. Set pans aside and preheat oven for 325.
In a large mixing bowl preferably with a pour spout, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
I suggest using a box grater with the next-to-smallest holes to grate the zucchini because you want the flavor and color of the zucchini and not big hunks of it in your bites. I place the box grater over a small half-sheet pan to collect not only the grated zucchini but also the zucchini liquid. Set aside.
In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla together until combined. With the mixer on low, slowly mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Then slowly mix in the grated zucchini with juice. Mix just until combined. Stir the walnuts in by hand, making sure to fold them in so they’re distributed well.
Divide the batter between the two prepared pans. Place the pans on a baking sheet and place in the center rack of the preheated oven. Set a timer for 15 minutes.
While the loaves are baking, mix together the brown sugar, flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and soft butter with a dinner fork, mashing together to crumble and mix the butter in well. When the 15 minute timer goes off, divide the crumble topping between the loaves of bread and return to bake for another 45 minutes. Test cakes with toothpicks or cake testers every 3-4 minutes until toothpicks come out moist-clean. Cool pans for 15 minutes before removing loaves to platters for additional cooling. Store at room temperature covered well with clear wrap.
Since each recipe makes two loaves – make one, give one. It’s the perfect pick me up for a friend in need.