Breakfast, Pastries, Recipes

SRC: Baked Caramel Apple Mini Doughnuts

These mini apple doughnuts are dipped in an easy sweet caramel sauce for the ultimate easy fall treat!

Baked Caramel Apple Mini Doughnuts | #secretrecipeclub #src

For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned to Cookaholic Wife, a blog written by Nichole. Nichole has SO many delicious recipes on her site. I had such a hard time deciding what to make! In the end, I chose these cute lil mini caramel apple doughnuts because they seemed so seasonally appropriate. I do love pumpkin but wanted to show apple some love. 🙂 Recipe runner ups included this Apple-Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Pork that Nichole just posted last week, Hawaiian Burgers, Caramel Grapes, and Coconut Lime Cookie Bars. If it was summer, those cookie bars would’ve definitely won! Aside from being into pretty much every one of Nichole’s recipes, I think the two of us could be BFFs. We’re the same age, both have two cats, and ideally would either be baking or reading on the beach. Yup, sounds about right. 🙂 While I have a 30 before 30 challenge, Nichole had a 28 before 28 challenge. How fun! [And speaking of fun, read this post about Nichole’s mom and her burning water habit. Hilarious!]

Baked Caramel Apple Mini Doughnuts | #secretrecipeclub #src

Anyways, I was psyched to see this recipe because I a) love caramel apples but hate biting into one, b) have a mini doughnut pan that I never use, and c) they just sounded AMAZING! And that they were. These mini doughnuts were a little bite of fall, perfect for dessert or breakfast. One word of caution though–the caramel sauce is super hot, so don’t take a bite until it’s cooled down a bit. The roof of your mouth will thank you! 🙂 [I learned that from Nichole’s first hand experience.]

Baked Caramel Apple Mini Doughnuts | #secretrecipeclub #src

Since I only have one doughnut pan, and wasn’t about to mess with letting the pan cool down in between batches, I used half the batter in my mini muffin pan for some adorable doughnut holes. So if you don’t have a doughnut pan, try that out! You may just need some additional caramel sauce for dipping since they’re a tiny bit bigger. Hope you enjoy! Thanks, Nichole for the great recipe! 🙂

Baked Caramel Apple Mini Doughnuts | #secretrecipeclub #src

one year ago: Baked Strawberry French Toast with Strawberry Maple Syrup
three years ago: Pumpkin Spread
four years ago: Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal

Baked Caramel Apple Mini Doughnuts

  • Servings: 24 doughnuts
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from Cookaholic Wife

  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup apple, minced
  • 1 cup chewy caramel candies – I used Kraft caramels, the ones they advertise for making caramel apples
  • 1 tablespoon milk


Grease mini doughnut pan(s) or mini muffin pan(s) with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. In a measuring cup, whisk together egg, sugars, oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into the dry and stir until combined. Fold in apples.

Spoon batter into prepared pans, filling about halfway.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove to a wire rack to cool for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place caramels and milk in a microwave safe small bowl. Microwave for 30 second increments on 50% power, stirring after each burst. Repeat until a caramel sauce comes together.

Dip doughnuts into caramel sauce then return to wire rack to set. Serve warm! Enjoy within a couple days, but they are definitely best the first day.

Be sure to check out other recipes from the Secret Recipe Club today!

Breakfast, Granola, Recipes

Cinnamon Applesauce Granola

There’s nothing better than a good granola. I love having some around on a regular basis as topping for yogurt or to enjoy as a quick snack. Truthfully, half the time I make granola I don’t even bother to photograph and share it here because I think it’s not good enough. Not crunchy enough. Missing those chunks. Too plain. Blah, blah, blah.

Cinnamon Applesauce Granola | The Pajama Chef

In fact, I’ve made several batches of this basic granola without sharing it. But recently as I was eating it I just decided enough was enough. This granola may not be fancy–it doesn’t even have any dried fruit in it, and the walnuts were a last minute [fabulous!!] addition–but it is what we like, and so gosh darn it I’m gonna share it!! 🙂 So I ran outside after I got home, photographed the granola, and am sharing the recipe the very next day. Who am I??!

Cinnamon Applesauce Granola | The Pajama Chef

Well, truthfully, I don’t know, but what I do know is this: I love this granola! It is perfect and pretty much incapable of being screwed up. It’s fairly lowfat and is just sweet enough for my tastes, which means it’s healthy, right? 🙂 The use of the applesauce not only keeps the fat down while still allowing for a crunchy texture, but it also adds a subtle apple flavor. Paired with its classic cinnamon counterpart, this is one flavorful granola! Add in a couple kinds of nuts and some chewy coconut and you won’t even miss the extra sugar or dried fruit [though you can certainly add either if that’s your thing]. I’ve pretty much decided that this is now my go-to granola. It’s crunchy, flavorful, and interesting–and as long as you refrain from stirring too much, those much loved chunks of granola remain after baking. Winner in my book. I know it will be in yours too!

Cinnamon Applesauce Granola | The Pajama Chef

Cinnamon Applesauce Granola [adapted from Macaroni and Cheesecake]
click to print


  • 3/4 cup natural, no sugar added applesauce
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or a silpat.

In a small saucepan set over low, combine applesauce, brown sugar, honey, and oil. Stir together until sugar melts and mixture is warm. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, toss together oats, walnuts, wheat germ, coconut, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon. Gradually pour applesauce mixture over oats, stirring to fully coat. Transfer mixture onto prepared baking sheet, then press down firmly with the back of a spatula.

Bake for 45 minutes, stirring once or twice. [If granola starts to burn or get too dark, especially after 30 minutes, cover loosely with foil].

Time: 60 minutes.

Yield: 6 cups.


Breakfast, Muffins, Recipes

Applesauce Muffins

Sometimes simple recipes, though delicious, get overshadowed by fancy recipes or decadent recipes. Know what I mean? This is a bad habit that I have… talking up the really yummy and impressive stuff… that then pushes the simple recipes to the back burner, where they sit and sit and sit. And then I don’t blog about them, for months and months. Like these Applesauce Muffins that I made…. last summer.

Applesauce Muffins | The Pajama Chef

Sure, we ate them up in a matter of days. I don’t even think they saw the freezer. For all the muffins I make, that’s saying something. Usually at least one or two gets frozen for lunches or snacks. But no, these muffins, in all their plain glory, were enjoyed in record time. I just didn’t bother to blog about them for months. Sad day. But they are here now!

Applesauce Muffins | The Pajama Chef

No idea why that was, as they are utterly delicious. Each bite is nutty and soft, sweet with hints of applesauce and rich brown sugar. Chewy from the oats and healthy from the whole wheat flour. Satisfying as breakfast with a bit of butter and jam, and savory enough to serve with soup at dinner. Pretty versatile and excellent anytime. One of my favorite parts? They’re made with pantry ingredients, so I can make them anytime. Another favorite part? The topping! Who doesn’t love a muffin with a little streusel topping. Yum! Don’t neglect them as I have! They are great! Enjoy! 🙂

Applesauce Muffins

  • Servings: 12 muffins
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from fearless homemaker


  • 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, sifted 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened [natural] applesauce
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 egg white

for topping

  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled 


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a small bowl, whisk together applesauce, oil, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry, then spoon into muffin cups.

Prepare the topping by stirring together oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Drizzle in melted butter then divide evenly on top of batter.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Main Dishes, Pork, Recipes

Pork, Apple, and Ginger Stir-Fry

So, on Monday, I shared the fabulous recipe I use for Carnitas. It makes more than any couple or family could reasonably eat for one meal, or even for one meal plus leftovers. Seriously, this makes a ton. Thank goodness it’s so tasty!! But you know what I think possibly could be tastier?

Pork, Apple, and Ginger Stir Fry | The Pajama Chef

If you guessed Pork, Apple, and Ginger Stir-Fry, then you would just so happen to be RIGHT! [Bet you didn’t see that one coming from a mile away, huh?]

I usually shy away from combining various ethnic-type foods in a single dish. Habit, I suppose. But this meal takes a bit of Mexican food [carnitas] and adds in a bit of Asian food/preparation methods to come up with something really special. To add to the culture confusion, the combo of pork and apples is classic Americana [yes?]. Hold that thought. Just googled it… and apparently pork and apples is a classic dish for many of European descent, including the British and the Danes. Who knew?

Pork, Apple, and Ginger Stir Fry | The Pajama Chef

Regardless of heritage, blending traditional flavors of many cultures in a stir-fry may seem a bit weird, but give it a chance. The sauce alone–sweet, salty, deep–is worth giving this recipe a shot. The way it coats the tender, tender pork and the substantial veggies… oh man! You will want to drink it with a spoon, I tell ya! And just wait til you get a bite with some fresh ginger. Absolutely amazing! Since the ginger is grated, it’s not too intense of an experience, but it does make an ordinary leftover-remake dinner a pretty awesome meal of its own. Enjoy!

Pork, Apple, and Ginger Stir-Fry

  • Servings: 4
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adapted from


  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 pound cooked shredded pork [leftover Carnitas]
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 4 cups vegetables [I used half carrots and half lima beans]
  • hot cooked rice, to serve


Preheat wok or large skillet set over medium heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together hoisin sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce, and applesauce. Set sauce aside.

In another bowl, toss together pork and cornstarch. Set aside.

Add oil to wok, then add ginger, garlic, and onion and saute until soft. Then add vegetables and cook until tender. Add pork and sauce and stir to combine. Cook until hot, then serve over rice.

Breakfast, Muffins, Recipes

Brown Sugar Squash Muffins

So, I kind of have a thing for muffins. They’re just so simple to make… leaving plenty of time to watch yet another episode of Make It Or Break It on Netflix. Muffins make such a convenient and [semi-healthy] snack. In a little over two years blogging, I have 11 other recipes posted here and a zillion others that are in the queue. Seriously! But enough about other recipes and muffins’ benefits. That’s boring. But these Brown Sugar Squash Muffins? They aren’t so boring.

These muffins are absolutely delicious! They’re stuffed with good things like grated yellow squash, applesauce, and mashed banana. The flavor of the yellow squash, for good or for ill, is drowned out by the applesauce and banana, so what’s left is a pillowy soft and light treat to make your day just a little bit better. The sweet fruity flavor is accentuated by the molasses-y, spicy flavor created by the welcoming combination of brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice [cannot WAIT for fall!]. Yum. Plus, if things weren’t good enough already… I topped them with a crumbly streusel to fancy them up a bit. Eeeeek! So. Good!

In the future, I can definitely see tossing in some dried cranberries, chopped apples, or nuts to add a little more texture, but they were amazing as-is and don’t really need that to succeed. Nope, we loved them and I hope you do too! I can’t wait til lunch–I have one waiting in my lunchbox! 🙂

Brown Sugar Squash Muffins [adapted from Parenting Miracles]
click to print


for muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup summer squash, shredded
  • 1 large ripe banana, mashed

for streusel

  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners or grease well with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flours, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, applesauce, milk, yogurt, eggs, squash, and banana. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then spoon into prepared pan.

Next, make streusel. Mix together oats, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. Add melted butter and toss until mixture makes coarse crumbs. Spoon on top of muffin batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

Time: 45 minutes.

Yield: 24 muffins.