Written on November 27, 2013 at 9:00 am , by Michael Wurm, Jr.
The holiday season is officially upon us. While there are so many reasons to love this time of year, one of my favorites is the chance to spend more time in the kitchen. I’m a baker at heart and constanly looking for new recipes for sweet little nibbles to have around the house when company arrives.
In addition to delicious treats, I’m always on the hunt for simple, stress-free recipes. I like to have a few recipes that I can whip together quickly for unexpected guests. My go-to place for these ideas is obviously BHG. They have a collection of recipes for Easy Brownies and Bars that is stellar. Everyone loves a brownie or bar and there are endless tweaks you can do to make it really special.
Today I followed this recipe for Peanut Butter Bars with Chocolate Ganache. This is one of my favorite flavor combinations so trying this recipe was an easy choice.
The crust is actually made with a devil’s food cake mix. Adapting the wet ingredients creates a soft yet crunchy base for these bars.
Slathered with a rich peanut butter filling and topped with a decadent chocolate ganache, these are one bar that will be put on repeat in my kitchen.
I was so impressed with how quickly these came together. I was able to shorten my cooling time by placing the pan on my side porch. This is a trick I learned from my mom when I was little. We’d place iced Christmas cookies in the garage to get the icing to set so we could pack them up quickly. It’s chilly here in Central PA this time of year, so I realize this little trick may not work everywhere.
You can get the recipe for these Peanut Butter Bars with Chocolate Ganache by clicking here.
So that’s what happening in my kitchen. What’s your quick go-to sweet treat for the holidays?
Michael Wurm, Jr – Inspired by Charm
Written on November 13, 2013 at 9:00 am , by Michael Wurm, Jr.
I’m always on the lookout for unique ideas for cocktails Throw in a seasonal twist and that instantly makes it a winner in my book. As the Thanksgiving holiday quickly approaches and get-togethers with family and friends abound, it’s always helpful to have a deliciously fresh cocktail idea in your back pocket when you hear you the doorbell ring.
Today I’m pulling inspiration from BHG’s recipe for Apple Cider Punch. Being a fan of the always classy martini, I’m upping the ante a smidge and turning this punch into a martini.
With an apple cider base, this martini is perfect for the fall. The touch of citrus gives it a flavor that is bright and fresh.
My favorite addition to this drink, however, is the splash of sparkling wine or champagne to finish it off. The bubbles dress this drink up for any fall holiday celebration.
To keep things simple, I garnished this martini with a few slices of fresh apple. I love the way the bubbles gather around the slices. It’s a clear sign that you are in for a treat. Now, let me tell you how to mix one of these up.
Here’s what you’ll need for one martini:
3 ounces apple cider
2 ounces orange juice
1 ounce vodka
1 ounce sparkling white wine or champagne
Fresh apple, sliced
In a shaker filled with ice, add apple cider, orange juice, vodka, and the juice from one lemon wedge. Shake vigorously. Pour into a martini glass, leaving room at the top for a splash of sparkling white wine. Float an apple slice or two in the martini as a garnish.
And that’s it, friends. A delicious martini with all the flavors of fall and a little bubbly to boot! It certainly will be a star at your next party.
Michael Wurm, Jr – Inspired by Charm
Written on October 30, 2013 at 10:00 am , by Michael Wurm, Jr.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of pumpkin pie. There’s nothing better than gobbling up a slice of that pumpkin-y goodness this time of year. Seriously, I’ve been known to eat pumpkin pie with just my hands – like a piece of pizza.
As much as I love traditional pumpkin pie (no whipped cream for me by the way). I also like to mix things up sometimes. Changing up perennial favorites can be a fun way to experiment in the kitchen and give new foods a try.
I was excited to stumble upon this recipe from BHG for Snickerdoodle Pie. It sounded like a winner to me, so I decided to give it a fall-inspired addition.
Yes, I cheated a little bit and used a store-bought crust. I just haven’t mastered the art of crust making.
I was really intrigued by this recipe because it’s almost like a cake in a pie crust – a pake. (My fellow Drop Dead Diva fans will understand that reference.)
The gooey caramel layer and cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top create an almost crunchy shell for this pie’s soft interior. It’s kind of like a snickerdoodle.
Since the center of this pie is cake-like, I think a dollop of whipped cream is sheer perfection on this. It acts like icing.
To recreate this recipe, I added ½ cup of pumpkin puree after mixing in the eggs. I also mixed ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, and ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg into the flour before adding it to the batter. When it comes to pumpkin, it’s all about the spices.
As you’re entertaining this fall, don’t skip the pumpkin pie. Add this version to your recipe repertoire for a wonderful weekend or party dessert. You won’t be disappointed. Click here for the Snickerdoodle Pie recipe.
Michael Wurm, Jr. – Inspired by Charm
Written on October 16, 2013 at 8:00 am , by Michael Wurm, Jr.
Whether I’m cooking or baking, I love being in the kitchen.. When it comes down to it, however, I’m really a baker at heart. Being a huge fan of sweets, I’ve always found comfort in baking. I also think that baked goodies remind me of celebrations – cakes for birthdays and cookies for Christmas and so on. So when Better Homes and Gardens newest cookbook, Baking arrived at my door, I couldn’t have been more delighted.
Shortly after receiving Baking, I sat down with a cup of coffee and leafed through its five hundred plus pages. It was pure delight. With over 350 recipes, it certainly covers everything under the baking umbrella. While I want to make every recipe in this book, given the upcoming holiday, I decided to try my hand at the Halloween-inspired Ghost Cake. To up the cuteness level, I went with cupcakes instead of a cake.
I started off with the Classic Chocolate for the cake. The resulting cupcakes are light, fluffy, and delicious.
As they baked, I worked on crafting some chocolate trees. This was another reason I was thrilled about this recipe. I couldn’t wait to try making these cute little trees. They were so fun to do. I really liked the idea of sprinkling on jimmies to give them a little texture. I even found some fall colored jimmies to look like leaves. When you’re making your trees, be sure the chocolate is thick enough. Otherwise, they will be very fragile. A few of my trees turned into bushes. No harm done, though.
Once the trees were set and the cupcakes cooled, I made the Meringue Frosting. Growing up, my mom always referred to this as Seven-Minute Frosting. This frosting is made on the stove with a double boiler. Seven minutes is typically how long it takes to make the frosting. Hence, the name.
With the frosting ready, I gave my cupcakes a quick base coat. Since I didn’t have a pastry bag, to pipe the ghosts on, I just used a plastic baggie with the corner snipped off. Two round sprinkles for the eyes, the tree tucked into place, and my Ghost Cupcakes were complete.
Are they not the most adorable things you ever seen?
These would be such a sweet, yet slightly spooky touch for a Halloween party or fall get together. Despite the fact that everything was made from scratch, I was also really surprised how quickly they came together..
Well, I’m off to figure out which recipe I want to whip up next. You can find the recipe for Ghost Cake here. If you are looking to add Baking to your own cookbook collection, you can pick up a copy here.
Written on October 2, 2013 at 9:00 am , by Michael Wurm, Jr.
I don’t know what it is about the first of October, but right now life seems to be moving faster than a leaf spiraling to earth. Maybe it has something to do with the holiday season on the horizon, pressure to finish up outdoor projects, and trying to savor the fleeting beauty of fall.
With all that’s happening this time of year, I’m always looking for quick, easy, and hearty recipes. One of my favorite simple meals is pasta, but that can get boring. So of course, I was delighted to discover this recipe for Farfalle with Mushrooms and Spinach in BHG’s collection of 20 Healthy Dinner Recipes Under $3. Ding, ding – I think we found a winner!
Even though this recipe had all the elements of a fabulous meal, I wanted to amp up the hardiness a bit. While more vegetables or garbanzo beans would have done the trick, I ultimately decided to toss in some three cheese Italian style chicken sausage.
Not only did the sausage make this pasta more filling, it added a wonderful flavor and spiciness to the dish, making it perfect for a fall dinner. Hearty and warm but still healthy and super simple.
You can find the recipe for this Farfalle with Mushrooms and Spinach here. While it’s delicious on its own, have fun changing it up to suit your tastes or mood.
Happy cooking and happy fall!
Michael Wurm, Jr. – Inspired by Charm
Written on September 18, 2013 at 9:00 am , by Michael Wurm, Jr.
As you may already know from my Chocolate-Pumpkin Brownie recipe, once autumn arrives, I like to incorporate pumpkin into pretty much everything I make. Thankfully, I’m not the only one who has this love for pumpkin.
This week on my blog Inspired by Charm, I’m hosting the Second Annual Fall Cookie Week. Essentially, it’s a week (or eight days as is the case this year) of fall-inspired cookie recipes. As I was searching for inspiration and recipes on the web, I knew that I had to include a cookie from Better Homes and Gardens. Their cookie recipe collections are some of the best.
I’ve also always been intrigued by palmiers. They look so fancy and they taste delicious – two essential characteristics of any cookie. So when I stumbled upon this recipe for Chocolate Palmiers, I thought it would be the perfect place to sneak in a little fall flavor. Yes, this is where the pumpkin comes into play.
Other than chilling time, which is a must for making these sweet treats, they came together quickly. Plus, I love the combination of pumpkin and chocolate. These are definitely a winner in my book.
I followed this Chocolate Palmier recipe except for these few changes:
- I omitted the nuts from the filling.
- I put in six tablespoons of pumpkin puree before adding the egg.
- In addition to the cinnamon, I used 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg.
That’s it. Simple touches, but a big difference in flavor!
Over the years I’ve learned that adding pumpkin puree to a recipe isn’t enough to get that wonderful pumpkin taste. It’s all about the spices. The combination of cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, cloves, and nutmeg really bring the pumpkin flavor to life.
So if you are looking for a scrumptious autumn treat, be sure to give this
a try. For more fall cookie inspiration, swing on over to Inspired by Charm’s Fall Cookie Week.
As always, happy cooking!
Michael Wurm, Jr. – Inspired by Charm