Fall Has Arrived – Pumpkin Style!

Well it is officially Fall! Get ready for holiday foods, winter boots, family get togethers and…. of course pumpkin products at almost every grocery store! I’ve never baked pumpkin bread before and decided to give it a go the other day since I remembered I had a can of pumpkin purée in my pantry from the time I attempted (but did not execute very well) pumpkin cinnamon rolls. All the other ingredients in pumpkin bread are pretty much staple products most frequent bakers would have. You can find this original recipe at: cupcakesforbreakfast.com


I’m happy to report that my first attempt at pumpkin bread turned out amazing. I heard great reviews from family members and coworkers. I baked two loaves and 6 muffins. The only thing I’d do differently next time is to wait a little longer for the bread to cool so the powdered sugar doesn’t melt. I sprinkled it on the top of the bread and muffins a bit too early, so next time I’ll be more patient, and wait a bit longer. I really love this recipe because the bread is not too sweet, it’s subtle and so it the pumpkin flavor. You know it’s pumpkin bread but the taste is not overwhelming artificial (you know what I’m talking about). Also, this bread came out so moist! Oh my goodness, it taste so delicious. It was hard for me to give it away, but it’s important to share the wealth (and get others peoples opinions). Here is the recipe, enjoy and share it with the people you love.

Pumpkin Bread
Makes 2 loaves
Bake time 60 min
Oven Temp 350 degrees

3 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (or a mixture of nutmeg & cinnamon)
1 (16oz) can of pumpkin purée
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs

Line both pans with parchment paper or coat with cookie spray or butter. I greased the bottom of the loaf pans with butter and then put parchment paper on top. With the muffins I just greased it with butter.
First in a bowl combine all dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, and pie spice). If you don’t have a sifter you can always use a whisk to get the lumps out. Set this bowl aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Then in a large mixing bowl add in all the wet ingredients. In no specific order. I think I added the purée first and the eggs last. Mix together with mixer or use spoon however if you use a spoon make sure all the ingredients marry together. Once all the wet ingredients are fully mixed together, go ahead and add in the dry ingredients 1/2 a cup at a time. You don’t want to overwhelm the mixture with too much flour too quickly. Once you have added in all dry ingredients, and mixture is well combined you can pour into two separate loaf pans. Or in my case 2 loaf pans and a 6 tray muffin pan. I made muffins for myself because it’s quicker in the morning to grab a muffin rather than cut into a loaf. Not much quicker but when you wake up at 5am and have to be out the door by 6:15-6:30am it’s just easier to grab and go rather than cut, grab and go… You get my drift. 🙂

Anyways, bake loaves for 60 min, check on it 45 min to see the progress. After 60 min stick fork in the middle of the loaf and if it comes out clean, it’s done! The muffins only took 15-20 minutes. Let cool for 25-30 minutes then sprinkle powdered sugar on top… So delicious. Eat and enjoy my friend, watch out though because this is a crowd pleaser!photo 2

Cake Batter Oreo Cookies

Cake Batter Cookies

 

HAPPY LABOR DAY! And happy first of September! Let me start by saying if you are a fan of Oreos and cake then this is the cookie recipe for you. As my friend Sarah said, this is a cookie in a cookie. I originally made these a month or so ago and gave some to my friend Eric for his birthday and my Uncle Renzo because he loves cookies. They were a huge hit, and this time around I made some for my girlfriends to go along with other snacks before we went wine tasting in Livermore for my birthday! All in all, wine tasting was pretty spectacular, everyone had a great time and we got to see another piece of the Bay Area that I am pretty sure, a lot of us had no idea wineries existed there. Thankfully my cousin Diana is a fabulous party planner and set a whole day of tasting up. Livermore has over 50 wineries, who knew? We hit up three of them, Rios Lovell, McGrail Vineyards and Wineries, and Fenestra, all located in Livermore, CA and reasonably close to one another. I feel so blessed to have such great friends and family around me, who support me. A lot of my friends I have known since I was in 4th or 5th grade, some younger. I will never forget this weekend and the shenanigans we got into. Here are couple pictures from the wine tasting/birthday celebration (YAY I am 25!).

Rios Lovell Winery

Rios Lovell Winery

McGrail Vineyards and Winery

McGrail Vineyards and Winery

Fenestra Vineyards and Winery

Fenestra Vineyards and Winery

Fenestra

Beautiful ladies at Fenestra Vineyards and Winery

 

 Anyways, back to this cookie recipe. I originally found this recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction Blog and you can find the original recipe here: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/03/01/cake-batter-oreo-cookies/

 

Cake Batter Cookies  

Ingredients:

1 and ¼ cups all purpose flour

1 and ¼ cups yellow or funfetti boxed cake mix

½ teaspoon baking soda

34 cup unsalted butter, room temp

½ cup sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

1 egg, room temp

1 and ½ teaspoons vanilla

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

½ cup sprinkles

10-12 Oreos, crushed (you can use any flavor)

 Cake Batter Cookies

Instructions:

In a bowl combine all wet ingredients – flour, cake mix, and baking soda. Set this bowl aside until later. In a mixing bowl start by creaming your butter on the lowest mixing speed. Cream your butter for about a minute and then add in your sugars. Mix on medium speed for a couple minutes then add in one egg. Mix until well combine on low and then add vanilla. Make sure the batter is all mixed together before adding in the chocolate chips, sprinkles and Oreos. You can add in the chocolate chips, and sprinkles and crushed Oreos, mix with a mixer or baking spatula just until well combined.

Seal the bowl with plastic wrap or foil. *Now refrigerate your dough for 2 hours* This is crucial to the baking process. Refrigerating your dough will help the cookies keep their shape when baking, rather than melting all over the pan and becoming lifeless shapeless cookies (which I have made before, they still taste good but look terrible). I think it is better for the overall goodness of the world if you do this step, it just requires a little planning head. Plus you can do a lot in the 2 hours the dough is chilling. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and start scooping your dough out and making small cookie shapes. The bake time can vary from 8 – 12 minutes depending on your oven. My cookies took exactly 10 minutes, they were light brown when they came out of the oven. Remember they will continue to bake once they come out. Let them cool for 10 minutes or so, then eat and enjoy!

Cake Batter Cookies 5

Cake Batter Cookies

Chocolate Raspberry Banana Muffins

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Well, it is no secret that I love chocolate and as of lately I have been on a chocolate baking binge. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a variety of desserts but chocolate is by far my favorite. It seems like ever since I was a little girl I’ve had a sweet tooth and a huge love for dessert. I think this is partially what inspired me to start baking. I wanted to know how to make the things that I love so much.

A couple days ago I bought ripe bananas at the grocery store with the intention of baking banana nut bread. BUT as I was looking at different recipes on Pintrest, I decided that I wanted to also include chocolate chips that I had in my pantry, and then I remembered I had a package of raspberries in the fridge, so I had to include those too! Suddenly most of the recipes that were popping up on Pintrest were for chocolate banana bread with raspberries and chocolate chip. I was thinking to myself – what did I get myself into? I usually prefer fewer ingredients, simple but bold flavors, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try chocolate raspberry banana muffins out and see how they tasted. Even though I was unsure about chocolate banana bread, I figured – why not.

Other than loving baking because of my initial curiosity with desserts, baking also makes me feel like I am doing right. It gives me this rewarding feeling and pleasure that I might make someone else happy with this dish or recipe. Food is a huge part of my culture (I’m Pacific Islander and Chinese) and I have a lot of family/friends who share the same pleasure and love for a great food, from appetizers to desserts! It is an awesome feeling knowing that someone appreciates the time and effort you put into making something. I get a similar satisfaction when blogging. All the research and recipe testing that goes into the perfect combination of ingredients and flavors, plus the photo editing and then drafting the content. Blogging is a lot of work, on top of actually doing what you are blogging about! However the feeling I get, once I share one of my post on Pintrest or Instagram, this feeling of happiness comes over me and I feel good about myself. That is why I continue to bake and blog because it inspires me and if it also inspires others too, that’s wonderful.

Currently, I’m in the process of deciding an official name that fits this blog. I have come up with so many options but nothing rings true to me. I am also in search of a graphic designer/blog designer to create a original template for me. So there are some changes coming to BrianaVeniana.com, including a name change (pretty sure, but not officially). Also, I am realizing more and more that perusing something that makes me happy is far more important that anything else. Happiness is key and success is subjective. Everyone has their own definition of success, and what makes life great to me is accomplishing goals that I set for myself. Creating this blog, and consistently updating it is one of my goals. Writing great content and producing professional photos is also on my list. Slowly but surely, I am getting there. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in how far you have to go, than looking at how far you’ve come… can’t remember who the author of this quote was.

Anyways that is enough of my ramblings, without further a due here is the recipe for Chocolate Raspberry Banana Muffins that came out pretty spectacular. Based on reviews from my sisters the muffins are not too chocolate-y and you only taste a hint of the banana. The raspberries are really the start of the show, and the chocolate chips pretty much melt into the batter. Next time I may try dark chocolate chips instead of semi sweet. This batter will come out thick and lumpy, so don’t expect a liquid like batter. Also, I bought another pack of raspberries from the store, so I could garnish the muffins with them but ended up putting 1 or 2 raspberries on top of the muffins once they were in the muffin pan.

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Chocolate Raspberry Banana Muffins

Baking Temp: 350

Baking Time: 20-25 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup all purpose flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 1/3 cup bananas (mashed)

1 cup raspberries

¾ cup chocolate chips (semi sweet or dark chocolate)

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a large bowl whisk together flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set bowl aside.

In a separate bowl mix together the mashed bananas, vegetable oil and egg.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together. Mix together until all ingredients are combined, remember that the batter will be lumpy and this is okay.

Fold in the chocolate chips and the raspberries. Do not over mix the batter or else muffins will come out tough.

Pour batter into muffin pan ¾ of the way full, then bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes and enjoy with people you love.

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Chocolate Pecan Pie

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Let’s get one thing straight about this pie, you will not want to share! I usually make this around the holidays with my mom and sisters, and we crank them out 4 at a time. And then gift them to our friends and family. Today, I was feeling extra cheery, or rather am getting used to not having homework to do, so decided… why not bake some chocolate pecan pies. They’re a treat for everyone. So tonight, on my relaxing Sunday afternoon/evening, I baked three chocolate pecan pies. One for my friend Hosana, we went grocery shopping together today, and I thought a pie at the office would be a nice Monday pick me up. The second pie I will bring to my grandmother’s for dessert tomorrow, and the third pie I’ll keep at home for my sister, myself and my roommates.

This chocolate pecan pie is so good you will not stop at just one slice. My family loves it when I make this for them. it’s a great combination of sweet and salty. I love to drizzle a little bit of semi sweet chocolate on top too, just to give it that extra chocolate-y loving. The recipe below is for one pie, although I usually bake two at a time if I am buying the frozen deep dish pie shells, since two come in one package.

 

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Chocolate Pecan Pie

Baking Temp: 325

Baking Time:  45min – 1 hr

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup corn syrup

2 oz unsweetened chocolate

¼ cup of butter (½ stick)

Instructions:

First you want to add eggs to mixing bowl and mix on medium speed until frothy. Then add vanilla.

In a separate bowl melt chocolate and butter. I microwaved it for 1 to 1 ½ minutes, in 30 second increments to be sure the chocolate didn’t burn. Make sure the chocolate is cool before adding it to the eggs, you don’t want the high temperature of the chocolate to cook the eggs. Put this bowl to the side.

Next, add the sugar in with the eggs then add in salt and syrup. Mix together.

Last add in the chocolate and butter mixture, until all ingredients are combined. This does not take long, around 1 to 2 minutes. Don’t over mix the batter.

In your frozen pie shells, pour in 1 cup of pecans. Then add 1/2 cup of the batter on top of pecans. Add in the last 1/2 cup of pecans on top of batter. Then add another 1 to 1 1/2 cups of batter on top of the pecans.

The pie will cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour. After the first thirty minutes of baking, remove pie and cover with aluminum foil, this will prevent the pie from burning on top.

Let cool for 20-30 minutes and then you can serve or save for later. No need to refrigerate.

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Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These cookies are just what any chocolate lover needs, decedent and delicious. I love baking cookies because they are so simple. The ingredients can easily be found in any regular baker’s pantry, and cookies are easily adapted by changing the type of chocolate chips or adding nuts or sprinkles. I was in the mood for something chocolate-y, plus tomorrow my family and I are going to be going to see Think Like A Man 2, and I wanted to make sure we had some homemade snacks to bring in addition to the popcorn! Also, when my family goes to the movies, we usually take up close to half or a whole row, depends on how many of us are going.

This cookie recipe was what I found on Pinterest, and I especially liked it because it used whole milk and no eggs. I needed to use up my milk that’s been in the fridge and had a little more than half a package of white chocolate chips in my pantry, so that’s particularly why I chose this recipe.

Here is the link to the recipeI found on Pinterest., and the only thing I did differently was I added in ½ cup of milk chocolate chips in addition to the 1 ½ cup of white chocolate chips.

Recipe adapted from Chez CateyLou blog – http://chezcateylou.com/2013/06/13/oreo-inspired-cookies-chewy-chocolate-white-chocolate-chip-cookies/

 

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Ingredients

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2/3 cup cocoa powder

½ cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature

½ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup whole milk

1 ½ cups white chocolate chips

½ cup milk chocolate chips

 

Instructions:

First you want to whisk together the flour, baking powder, sat and cocoa powder

Then in a separate mixing bowl beat butter until smooth and fluffy

Add sugars in with butter then mix in vanilla

Add in about half of the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar, then pour in the milk

Add the rest of the dry ingredients plus the chocolate chips until well incorporated

Chill dough in freezer for 15 minutes

Take out the freezer and scoop about 1 ½ tablespoon into your hand (I use coconut oil spray to grease the spoon I’m scooping with)

Put dough in your hands and roll into a ball, then put on cookie pan and press down, making it a round cookie shape

Bake at 325 degrees for 13 to 17 minutes.

Let cool for about 20 to 25 minutes. Eat and enjoy!

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Moist and Delicious Lemon Pound Cake

Hello readers! Lately I have been so busy preparing for graduation and knee deep in finals that i haven’t gotten a chance to post this recipe for lemon pound cake! Thursday was my last final and this course was taught by a professor who has helped me throughout my two years at CSUEB. He is one of my favorites in the communications department, and I wanted to thank him for everything. So, what better way to thank someone than to bake them something delicious! I came up with lemon pound cake because I’d been wanted to bake a pound cake for a while now. Then after browsing through Pintrest, I called my grandmother and asked her for a recipe. She instructed me to do the following and I must say the pound cake turned out perfect! When I delivered it to my professor, I opened it up to show him how good it looked, and you could smell the lovely scent of lemon. I wanted to cut a slice right then and there, but I refrained (of course). I sprinkled the cake with powdered sugar after it was cool.

Lemon Pound Cake - Whole Cake Lemon Pound Cake - Side View

 

Oven Temp: 350

Baking Time: 45 min to 1 hour

Lemon Pound Cake

Ingredients:

3 cups sugar

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

½ cup shortening

5 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1 lemon zested

6 tablespoons lemon juice

½ cup whole milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

 

Instructions

In mixing bowl cream butter and shorting until fluffy, then add in the sugar until creamy. Add in each egg one by one as you mix all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. This process should take about 10 minutes. Add in the vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix together.

In separate bowl mix dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and salt. In small increments add in flour to mixing bowl, and exchange between adding flour and milk. Mix until batter is nice and smooth.

Pour into batter into 2 loaf pans or 1 large bunt pant and bake at 350 degrees for 45minutes to 1 hour. Another known trick is to put a toothpick or fork into the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean, the cake is done.

Pineapple Banana Bread (made with coconut oil!)


 This recipe is so simple and easy to make, I love recipes that only require one mixing bowl. It is also different from you regular banana bread. The pineapple elevates the flavor and adds that extra sweetness to it. I baked the bread in one loaf pan and then with the remaining batter, I made a dozen muffins. I didn’t get to cut into the bread because it was a gift for my dear friend Valeria, who currently lives about 2 hours away.

Valeria has been a friend of mine since I was in 1st grade, we have known each other our whole childhood and grew up in the same small town. Since I was not able to attend her party, I sent up the bread, muffins and other treats with a friend who did go to the birthday soiree. When I got the phone call the next day about how happy she was with the gift and how the delicious everything was, I knew I did something right. Happy Birthday Valeria!

This recipe is from Averie Cooks, I love her blog! All the sweet treats you could think of! Link below.

http://www.averiecooks.com/2013/03/pineapple-coconut-oil-banana-bread.html

 

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 ¼ cup sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

½ cup coconut oil (you can also use vegetable oil or butter)

A pinch of salt

2 large eggs

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 ¼ cup of ripe smashed bananas (I used 3 medium sized bananas)

1 cup diced pineapples (canned pinepples)

Instructions:

In one large mixing bowl combine the coconut oil, buttermilk, eggs, sugars and vanilla. Whisk all ingredients.

Add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and stir. Mix well enough so all ingredients are incorporated. Do not over mix, or else the gluten will overdevelop and the bread will come out tough.

Stir in bananas. Before you stir in the pineapple make sure they are not carrying too much liquid. I squeezed the pineapple with my fingers to remove the excess liquid. Careful not to over mix the batter.

Use cooking spray (I use Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil spray) to coat the loaf pan. Then pour batter until loaf pan is a little over half way full. You can bake this using two loaf pans or bake one loaf and a dozen muffins. The muffins are also excellent! They are a yummy on the go breakfast when in a rush.

Preheat over to 350 degrees and bake the loaf for about 45 minutes or until top is golden brown.

I baked the muffins for about 20 minutes at the same temperature.

Allow the bread to cool for about 20 minutes before removing from pan. I used a mix of powdered sugar and whole milk for the glaze. It was just to add a little extra sweetness.

Store in a airtight container or foil. Bread is delicious with tea, or coffee in the morning. Enjoy!