The Baker Upstairs: September 2014


roasted fingerling potatoes


It has been rainy and cold at my house for the last few days, and I am absolutely loving the fall weather! It's supposed to stay cooler for the next week, and I'm excited to squeeze in as many fall activities as possible. Last week we drove up the canyon to see the leaves, and it was incredibly beautiful. Sometimes I forget that I actually do live in a beautiful place, since I get so used to seeing it every day.

With the cooler weather, I've been really enjoying cooking more comfort food lately, and these fingerling potatoes are just that! They're really quick and easy to throw together, and super delicious! My kids have always been really ornery about eating potatoes, but I finally figured out the trick of telling them that they are eating french fries instead. :) Lizzy kept giggling over her plate and saying, "Those are the fattest french fries, Mom!" This is a great recipe that is really versatile and could go with any number of main dishes. I'm excited to make these potatoes again soon!
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

1 pound fingerling potatoes, scrubbed clean (I bought mine at Trader Joe's)
3/4 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter, cut into thin slices
fresh herbs (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375. Place the potatoes in a 9 x 9 baking dish. Pour the chicken broth over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat the potatoes evenly. Lay the slices of butter over the top of the potatoes. Cover with tin foil and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Uncover and let cook another 10 minutes to allow the skins to get a little crispier. Remove from the oven and toss with the remaining cooking liquid, then sprinkle with fresh herbs. Serve warm.


funfetti monster cookies


Yes, I'm starting off the Halloween recipes today! These funfetti monster cookies are totally ridiculous but perfect for Halloween. My seven year old Abby cracked up when she saw them and kept giggling over their silly googly eyes. Sometimes it's fun to just be a little silly with her, and considering how much I love Halloween (and cookies), these made for a perfect Sunday dessert.

They're made using one of my very favorite cookie recipes, with just a few little modifications to make them extra Halloweeny. I've been dying to use candy eyeballs for something since I first discovered them, and these cookies were a fun way to use them. I kind of love how each cookie is looking in a different direction. :)

In addition to being fun, though, these cookies are also super tasty. They're soft on the inside and crisp around the edges, and have a delicious vanilla sugar cookie flavor. Yum!

Funfetti Monster Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon green food coloring (I used neon green)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 - 1/2 cup halloween sprinkles
32 (plus or minus) candy eyeballs (similar here and here)

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until well blended. Add the food coloring and mix until blended. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar, and mix until a dough forms. Fold in sprinkles until well distributed. Shape into one inch balls (I got 16 balls from the dough). Place on prepared baking sheet and top each ball of dough with two candy eyeballs. If your dough is fairly soft, I would recommend chilling it at this point for about 30 minutes. If your dough is thick (like mine was), bake in the preheated oven for exactly 8 minutes. Remove and let cool 5-10 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a cooling rack. The cookies will look very soft and undercooked when you pull them out, but they will cook more as they cool on the pan. Enjoy!

adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

P.S. The down side of anthropomorphizing your cookies is that when you take a bite out of them, it looks like they are screaming at you. :)


baked honey lime chicken taquitos

These baked honey lime chicken taquitos are so flavorful and delicious!

These baked honey lime chicken taquitos are so flavorful and delicious!

Taquitos! Who doesn't love them? I've mentioned before that we eat a LOT of Mexican/southwest food, and I just can't get enough of it! Last week I was craving some of that honey lime flavor from the grilled chicken I made a little while ago, and when I found a recipe from Lovely Little Kitchen (seriously, go check out her gorgeous pictures!) on Pinterest, I couldn't wait to try it! These baked honey lime chicken taquitos are really quick to make, and were a big hit with my whole family. I served them with some fresh veggies and fruit for a light and easy dinner. I'm planning to make a big batch for the freezer so we can have them on hand for lazy/busy nights. They are a new favorite around here!

Baked Honey Lime Chicken Taquitos

for the taquitos:
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (rotisserie works great)
juice of one lime
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup shredded cheese
8 fajita sized flour tortillas
cooking spray
coarse salt

for the dipping sauce:
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons green taco sauce
juice of one lime
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, add the lime juice, honey, chili powder, and garlic powder, and whisk to combine. Toss the chicken in the sauce until coated. Spread 1/8 of the filling across the middle of each tortilla in a thin line, then sprinkle with cheese. Roll up tightly and place seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

While the taquitos are baking, combine the sour cream, green taco sauce, lime juice, and cilantro in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Serve warm taquitos with dipping sauce and enjoy!

adapted from Lovely Little Kitchen

These baked honey lime chicken taquitos are so flavorful and delicious!


snickerdoodle cupcakes

These snickerdoodle cupcakes have all the sweet cinnamon flavor you love in the cookies, but in cupcake form!

These snickerdoodle cupcakes have all the sweet cinnamon flavor you love in the cookies, but in cupcake form!

Since making these delicious snickerdoodle cookies a few weeks ago, I have been totally craving that awesome snickerdoodle flavor! I was in the mood for cupcakes last week, and thought it would be fun to try a snickerdoodle variation of my favorite vanilla cupcakes. They turned out awesome!

These snickerdoodle cupcakes have all the sweet cinnamon flavor you love in the cookies, but in cupcake form!

These snickerdoodle cupcakes have the perfect soft texture, and I love the little hint of cinnamon. It's kind of amazing how just adding a little cinnamon to the cake and frosting gives them a totally different flavor without being overpowering at all. These cupcakes taste just like snickerdoodle cookies, but with the added bonus of some delicious creamy frosting!

These snickerdoodle cupcakes have all the sweet cinnamon flavor you love in the cookies, but in cupcake form!

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

for the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, cold, cut into small cubes
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk (I used skim, and it worked fine)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the frosting:
2 sticks butter, softened
pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350. Line two muffin tins with paper liners. In a large bowl or a the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the milk and vanilla in a measuring cup, and add about half of the milk mixture to the flour mixture. Beat until well blended and smooth. Add the other half of the milk mixture, and beat until smooth. Fill paper liners 2/3 full and bake 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for a few minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. To make the frosting, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the salt, cinnamon, and powdered sugar, and mix until combined. Add the vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Frost cupcakes as desired (I used a large round tip) and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

adapted from my vanilla cupcakes

These snickerdoodle cupcakes have all the sweet cinnamon flavor you love in the cookies, but in cupcake form!


one hour orange rolls


Oh, how I love orange rolls! If given the choice, I will always choose an orange roll over a cinnamon roll. I have my favorite orange knot recipe that I make all the time, but a few weeks ago I was in the mood for a more traditional orange roll, and quick. I stumbled across a one-hour cinnamon roll recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Life Made Simple, and got to work. The resulting rolls weren't quite as soft and fluffy as a true orange roll recipe, but they were pretty darn close and so easy and quick to make! This is definitely one to keep around for when those cravings strike. Delicious!

One Hour Orange Rolls

for the rolls:
2 3/4 cup flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (I used active dry)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup milk
1 egg

for the filling:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
zest of one orange

for the frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons orange juice (more or less as needed)

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. In a small microwave safe bowl or measuring cup, combine the sugar, butter, water, and milk. Heat on high for 60-90 seconds, or until the mixture is warm and the butter is almost melted. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix until combined. Add the egg and mix to form a soft and sticky dough. Kneed 3-4 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Cover and let rest 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured floured surface to form a 16 x 9 rectangle. Mix together the butter, sugar, and orange zest, and spread it evenly over the surface. Roll the dough up lengthwise and cut it into twelve equal sized pieces. Place the rolls in a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan and cover lightly with foil. Turn off the oven and place the rolls inside, and let rise for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, pull out the pan of rolls and preheat the oven to 375. Remove the foil and bake the rolls 15-18 minutes, or until light golden brown.

Beat together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add the orange juice until desired consistency is reached. Spread the frosting over the hot rolls and let it melt. Serve warm.

adapted from Life Made Simple


garlic parmesan chicken penne pasta


I know I posted a similar recipe not too long ago, but this one was just too good not to share! I am really loving quick pasta dishes for dinner lately… somehow life just never seems to slow down even a little bit, so it's really nice to have a quick meal that's ready in under 30 minutes. My kids loved this (although Lizzy picked out every last piece of parsley, since she is anti-green right now) and I wanted to eat the creamy garlic parmesan sauce with a spoon. Yum! I think this pasta would be great with some sautéed mushrooms and spinach mixed in, but I didn't have any on hand when I made it. (And I'm sure Lizzy appreciated that I didn't try to corrupt her precious noodles and chicken with anything green.)

Garlic Parmesan Chicken Penne Pasta

1 pound penne pasta
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (I used rotisserie)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (dried would work fine as well)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant. Whisk in the flour to form a paste, and let the mixture cook 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the chicken broth and milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Continue to whisk frequently and bring the sauce nearly to a simmer, until thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in the parmesan, salt, and pepper until combined. Toss the sauce with the pasta and the chicken, returning to the heat if needed to heat through. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and enjoy!

adapted from Lil' Luna


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

These pumpkin cream cheese muffins are just layer upon layer of awesomeness. They are a must try this fall!

These pumpkin cream cheese muffins are just layer upon layer of awesomeness. They are a must try this fall!

I know the first day of fall isn't for a few weeks yet, but I can't help it! It's definitely necessary to squeeze in as much pumpkin baking as humanly possible during the next few months. These pumpkin cream cheese muffins are so delicious and perfect for fall! I made them a few days ago and brought some in to work, and the verdict was unanimous: they are delicious!

These pumpkin cream cheese muffins are just layer upon layer of awesomeness. They are a must try this fall!

These muffins are just layer upon layer of awesomeness. The pumpkin muffin base is lightly spiced and super moist, and so flavorful. The cream cheese filling is creamy and sweet, and tastes almost like cheesecake. And the cinnamon streusel on top adds a nice crunch and makes them over the top delicious! These muffins are definitely a must try this fall!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

for the cream cheese filling:
8 ounces of cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar

for the muffins:
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cup oil (I used canola)

for the streusel:
1/2 cup sugar
5 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 350. Line two muffin tins with paper liners. To make the filling, beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until well blended. Chill the filling in the freezer while you mix up the muffin batter. To make the muffins, in a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking soda. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of muffin batter into each cup of the muffin tin. Remove the filling from the freezer and scoop teaspoon-sized spoonfuls of filling into each cup. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full with the remaining batter, covering the cream cheese layer. To make the streusel, combine the sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle each muffin cup with a small amount of streusel. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the muffins spring back when touched lightly. Remove and let cool before serving.

adapted from Annie's Eats

These pumpkin cream cheese muffins are just layer upon layer of awesomeness. They are a must try this fall!


tropical green smoothie


Good morning! I have a super tasty smoothie to share today that's a perfect way to start the day! Geoff and I have been watching a lot of food documentaries lately (which I am loving) and it has been really inspiring us to keep making healthy changes in our life. We watched Hungry for Change a few nights ago and it really resonated with me. I love the idea of adding so many good things into your diet (and your life, really) that the things that aren't so great get crowded out. I hate feeling like I'm restricted or I can't eat things that I like, but I also know that when I'm eating good healthy food I feel better about myself and about the world around me.

In any case, we've been trying to squeeze in a lot more fruits and vegetables, and smoothies are one of my favorite ways to do that! This tropical green smoothie is super easy to make (my three year old added all the ingredients to the blender and helped me push the button to blend it) and super delicious as well! I love that the banana makes it sweet enough that you don't have to add any sweetener, and it's pretty great that my kids will drink spinach (which they would never even look at otherwise) if I blend it up with a bunch fruit. This is definitely one to make again!

Tropical Green Smoothie

1 cup fresh spinach
1/2 cup mango (I used frozen mango chunks)
1 kiwi, skin removed
1/2 green apple, cut into chunks
1 banana
3/4 cup almond milk (or soy milk, coconut milk, etc.)
1/2 cup ice

Add all ingredients to a blender, placing the heavier ingredients on top. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

adapted from Life Made Simple

And just for fun, here's a picture of my little smoothie helper. She was super proud of herself for adding all the ingredients, and ended up drinking more than half of the smoothie by herself. It's definitely Lizzy-approved!


5 quick and easy bread sides


Who's excited for fall? There are so many things to look forward to… cooler weather, cozy sweaters, hot chocolate, beautiful fall foliage… I can't wait! One of my favorite things about fall is all the yummy soups. We eat soup at least once a week (and usually twice or more) all fall and winter long, and it is heaven for me! Soup is one of my very favorite things to eat, and I have a pretty wide variety of soup recipes on the blog, from taco soup to baked potato soup to broccoli cheese soup. I usually try to make it a well-rounded meal with some fresh fruit and delicious bread on the side. I especially love making quick breads that I can just whip up while the soup is cooking.

Of course, you can't have bread without butter, and my family loves LAND O LAKES® Butter with Canola Oil. It's easy to spread right out of the fridge, and I love that it's made with three simple ingredients: sweet cream, canola oil, and salt. It has fewer ingredients than other spreadable butter products or non-butter spreads. I like knowing what I'm feeding my kids, and they love the way LAND O LAKES® Butter tastes. It's convenient, wholesome, and delicious!

Here are a few of our favorite breads:

These are one of our favorites and I make them all the time! We serve them with soup (of course) but I also love them for breakfast sandwiches. Yum!

These biscuits are sooooo good. Every time I make them, my husband makes sure there are no leftovers. They are my favorite to dip in tomato soup!

These are a new favorite, and they are fantastic. I love how tender and cheesy they are! If you don't have Dubliner available, any sharp cheddar will work fine. 

This cornbread is light and moist and perfect! I love to make it as-is, but it's also delicious southwest-style with a small can of green chilies and some cheddar cheese mixed into the batter. Depending how I'm feeling, I either make it in a 9-inch cake pan or in cupcake tins, and it's great either way!

These tortillas are the best! I've made them so many times, I have the recipe memorized, and we have them with everything. I love them for Mexican/southwest soups, tacos, breakfast burritos, and even just as a snack. They are amazingly delicious!

Do you love soup (and bread) as much as I do? What are some of your favorite fall foods? Leave a comment below for a chance to win a $100 Visa® gift card!

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