It wasn't until freshman year of college that I realized what an amazing ingredient pumpkin is. I have never been a big fan of pumpkin pie, and I think this must have always scared me off from ever trying anything else with pumpkin. It's really a shame I went through so much of my life without it. Then came that fateful care package to my freshman year roommate with a freshly made loaf of pumpkin bread. This was one of those loaves with a perfectly cooked inside but a gooey sugary crust on top. It was all over from there. I went pumpkin crazy and haven't looked back since. It just goes to show that the best friendships start over food. She shared. I love pumpkin bread. We're now best friends. Wonderful how those things work out, isn't it?

Now to these muffins. I don't know where to begin. I'm a harsh critic of all of my baked goods. I rarely will say I love something, but the second I tried one of these I not only loved them, I was in love with them. So were all of my roommates. They are incredible. There's nothing I would change about this recipe. The muffin itself is amazing enough to evoke the "Oh my god" reaction. Then you get a bite with cream cheese and all that love is taken up a notch.  Helllloo fall. Best muffins ever.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Recipe from Annie's Eats
Yield: 24 muffins
For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil
For the topping:
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp. flour
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth.  Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter.  Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil.  Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours.
To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil.  Mix on medium-low speed until blended.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend.  Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.  Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.
To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons).  Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces.  Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well.  Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely.  Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.  (It may be hard to resist immediate consumption, but the cream cheese filling gets very hot!)

What is it about peanut butter that gets me every time?  I actually am pretty moderate with the amount of peanut butter I put on sandwiches. I also have odd issues with eating peanut butter straight from the jar (after all, who wants peanut butter cookies made from peanut butter I've double-dipped in?). If I was making a peanut butter sandwich for anyone else, you better believe I'd slather on at least an inch of peanut butter. But for myself, I try to stay in the serving size. It's one of those things that when I take a step back and examine I wonder what on earth is going through my mind. I make wimpy little peanut butter sandwiches, and then turn right around and use a disgusting amount of peanut butter in baking. Must be one of those out of sight out of mind things. It's measured and in the batter...why bother thinking about anything but it's oh-so-delicious flavor after that point?

As if I hadn't made it clear enough how much I love pb&b sandwiches, and how much I love them in cupcake form, the peanut butter gods have come down and given me pbb&h cookies! The best part: they only use one overripe banana. That means no more disappointment because you have one or two overripe bananas and all banana breads call for three or more.  These cookies are easy, tasty and addictive.

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Honey Cookies
Recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large ripe banana, mashed (about 1 cup)
2 cups old fashioned oats
Peanut Butter Honey Glaze:
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon honey
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugars, mix until smooth. Add peanut butter, honey, vanilla extract, and egg. Combine until smooth. Next, add the banana and mix until combined.
3. Slowly add in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the oats.
4. Drop cookie dough by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper or Silcone baking mats.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.
5. To make the glaze-combine peanut butter, powdered sugar, milk, and honey in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth. If it is too thick or thin, adjust by adding more milk or powdered sugar. Drizzle glaze over cooled cookies.
Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies

One of these days, I'm going to figure out what grocery stores actually do with past-their-prime bananas instead of pondering it all the time. I kid you not, last night I was laying in bed thinking about this question. What is wrong with me? For now I'll pretend that's the first time it's ever crossed my mind.

I buy bananas all the time. My issue is that not only do I love them baked into just about anything, I also like them on sandwiches, plain, on cereal, in peanut butter, etc. So basically not only am I always buying bananas, I am also always running out of bananas to serve both these purposes.

I found this recipe the other day and decided it was worth saving some bananas to make. I think cream cheese enhances pretty much anything (anybody else a fan of cream cheese in their scrambled eggs?). I've found so many banana recipes I love that it's rare for me to find something new I want to try. This bread is extremely moist. It's not as flavorful as I was anticipating, but it was still delicious.  Also, if I could figure out a way to just bake a huge batch of this crust I would in a heartbeat. It is hands down the best part of this bread. The weird thing was that I couldn't really taste the cream cheese in the bread. I don't know why this would be considering there is a huge line of it smack dab in the center of the cake. It wasn't so bad because it still tasted great, but I might try to figure out some way to bring out that flavor a little more. This is a great way to change up the usual banana bread routine (or if you're like me, to change up the usual banana and peanut butter cupcake routine). Enjoy!

Banana Brunch Cake
Recipe from Lemons and Lavender, originally from Dining By Design: Stylish Recipes-Savory Settings
Yield: 12 to 16 servings

For the cake:
Nonstick cooking spray
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
3 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg, divided
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium-sized ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup chopped pecans

For the topping:
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 defrees F.  Coat a 10-inch tube or bundt pan with the cooking spray.

Combine the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon of the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of the nutmeg in a medium bowl.  Beat until smooth.  Add 1 of the eggs, beating to mix.

Cream 1/2 cup softened butter in a large bowl, gradually adding 1 1/2 cups sugar.  Beat well.  Add the remaining 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Whisk the baking soda and hot water in a small measuring cup.  Mix into the butter mixture.

Combine the remaining 3 cups flour, the baking powder, salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl.  Mix, alternating with the orange juice, into the butter mixture.  Mix in the vanilla, bananas and pecans.

Spoon 1 1/2 to 2 cups of batter into the tube pan and make a slight well in the center.  Spread the cream cheese mixture over the banana batter.  Spoon the remaining banana batter over the cream cheese mixture.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for 15 minutes in the pan.  Remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Brush with the melted butter.  Mix together 1 tablespoon sugar and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.  Sprinkle over the cake.
Look at that crust! Mmm.

What does it say about me that I was excited to post this recipe so I could make more "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" references? I since have decided I don't need to go on about my love of the peanut butter jelly time song again, and I most certainly don't need to remind anyone of how much I love peanut butter. I mean, if you can't figure that out within one minute of looking at my blog I don't know what to tell you. Knowing myself and my massive peanut butter obsession, these cupcakes seemed right up alley.  I usually pick peanut butter and banana over peanut butter and jelly, but I don't discriminate. If jelly wants a turn, jelly can have a turn! And who wouldn't love a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in cupcake form?

I'll be honest, these did not turn out how I'd hoped and it was a major let down. Usually if I don't love something I don't post it on the blog. I never understand why people do that. I get on Tastespotting, see something that looks amazing, then read the whole post only to find out they hated it. So now you're thinking, well, if you just posted this recipe you are doing the same thing. Here's where this is different: I had a few days where nothing I baked turned out well. Naturally I blamed it on the oven, but it could very well have been me.  I'll never admit to that completely, I'm just putting it out there as a possibility. Regardless, I don't think it is these cupcake's fault they turned out too dry. Considering how awesome the reviews were where I found this recipe I think it's worth giving the cupcakes the benefit of the doubt. I feel even stronger about this because this batter was to die for. I do realize a lot of the tasteless ingredients are what make the difference once the cupcakes are in the oven, but really, it was incredible.  I'd love if someone else would give this recipe a try and let me know how you like it! Please please prove me wrong.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes
-Recipe from Sing for Your Supper, adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (believe it or not, I used reduced fat and you totally CAN’T tell a difference!)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup chopped peanuts
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup jam (your favorite flavor- I use plum)
Peanut Butter Frosting (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter, peanut butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
Reduce speed to low. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla, milk and peanuts. Add dry ingredients slowly. Scrape sides of bowl. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.
Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 3 days. Makes approx. 18 cupcakes.
Peanut Butter Frosting
-adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream the butter, peanut butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar. Stir in the vanilla. Use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

To assemble:
When cupcakes are cooled, using a small paring knife, cut out a small hole in the top of each cupcake; discard crumbs. Fill a piping bag fitted with a round tip (I used a Wilton #12) with the jam. Insert the tip into the center of the cupcake and squeeze the jam inside (you’ll want to apply a decent amount of pressure) until the hole is filled. Repeat until all the cupcakes are filled. Pipe or spread the peanut butter frosting on each cupcake (I used a star tip). Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cookies in there's a concept. When I first saw this recipe I was a little skeptical. I think Oreos have a really distinctive taste, and I was unsure whether that would work combined with semi-sweet chocolate chips. Nevertheless I trust every cookie recipe on Sugar Cooking, so I went out to the store to buy some Oreos.

Apparently Nabisco has been on its Oreo creating A game recently because there are a ton of new amazing Oreo products. I really meant to buy just plain double stuffed Oreos, but then I saw the new Oreos that are Golden Oreo on one side, Chocolate on the other and double stuffed in the middle. Were they reading my mind? I grabbed that package (even though I knew those wouldn't work for these cookies) and then I saw something even more amazing, Oreo Blizzard Oreos. Get out of my head Nabisco! Or, actually, please stay in it because I'm in heaven. This kind of goes along with the cookies in cookies concept. An Oreo blizzard has Oreos in it, so how can Oreos become Oreo blizzard flavored?  I swapped packages.

I don't know how they did it, but they did. And they were incredible. It wasn't until a few days later that I remembered I meant to make these cookies and had already eaten half of my blizzard Oreos. I really can't be trusted at the grocery store. So today I was driving back from lunch and pulled into a gas station to quickly buy a package of Oreos before I forgot again. I also knew the gas station, despite pricing Oreos at $5 a package, wouldn't have the tempting variety.

Now that I finally tried this recipe I know for sure that cookies in cookies really works. I thought they were great. My roommate liked them even more. They're soft and chewy but packed with Oreo pieces and chocolate chips. Definitely a winner. I think I would probably make plain chocolate chip cookies over these, but it never hurts to add a little pizzaz to the ordinary cookie recipe!

Oreo Cookie Cookies
Recipe - Makes 20 - 30 cookies*
Recipe from Sugar Cooking (Adapted from AllRecipes)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 20 oreos, crushed
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.
  4. Add in the crushed oreos. Beat on low speed for just a few seconds to break up the oreos in the dough.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.*
  6. Bake for 13 to 16 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.**