Monthly Archives: October 2011

Pumpkin Angel Food Cupcakes

Happy Halloween!!!!  I hope you had a fabulous weekend and have a wonderful Halloween!  I made these Pumpkin Angel Food Cupcakes w/Pumpkin Spice Buttercream Frosting.  I used an angel food cake mix because I was pressed for time, but you could also make these angel food cupcakes from scratch.  The addition of the pumpkin makes them airy and fluffy and gives them a wonderful flavor.  I added pumpkin pie spice to a vanilla buttercream and it tasted fantastic!

Do you have any fun plans for Halloween or any delicious recipes to share?  Enjoy!

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1 Box white angel food cake mix
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup cold water
Pumpkin Spice Buttercream Frosting:
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-2 tbsp whipping cream
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tin with 21 cupcake liners.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cupcake ingredients on low for 30 seconds.  Beat on medium speed 1 minute and pour into the cupcake liners up to the rim.  Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow cupcakes to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter.  Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
  4. Add vanilla, pumpkin pie spice,  and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.
  5. Fit a piping bag with frosting tip of choice and fill with frosting.  Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and serve.
*Adapted from Betty Crocker

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Filed under Baked Goods, Desserts

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

I’m definitely not a huge chocolate lover, but I have to admit that pumpkin and chocolate creates an amazing combination.  I could’ve made regular pumpkin bread, but I really wanted to get that added deliciousness from the chocolate chips, so I made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.  Now I know that there are a ton of pumpkin recipes going around the blog world right now, but isn’t that the point of cooking and baking seasonally?  I never crave pumpkin in June or July when I can get some fresh strawberries instead.  Likewise, I never really crave strawberries in the fall when I can get pumpkin, figs, apples, concord grapes, etc.  As for chocolate?  I never really crave chocolate any time of year (I crave things like sour gummies or vanilla ice cream swirled with chunks of peanut butter!).  I do like how chocolate pairs well with certain foods, like pumpkin.  Because of the chocolate chips, this bread is perfect for breakfast, snack or dessert (gotta love those versatile recipes).  As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I recieved a Tervis Tumbler.  I’ve been using this baby to drink some pumpkin coffee alongside this delicious bread.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

 Directions:

  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs and applesauce until smooth, about 1 minute.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth and well combined, 1 to 2 minutes. The batter will be thick.
  4. Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips just until evenly distributed, no more than a few strokes. Do not overmix. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake until the top is browned and crusty and develops a long center crack, 60-70 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf should come out clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.

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Filed under Baked Goods, Desserts

Sweet Potato, Apple & Ginger Soup w/ Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

While I was traveling for work several weeks ago, my husband sent me an email that had a link and the following message: “You should buy this.”  When I opened up the link, it went to a book review of The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Amy Traverso.  The book recently came out in stores and must have caught my hubby’s attention (he knows me so well!).  I instantly bought it and I can’t  recommend it enough.  It’s  awesome!!!!  Not only does it have amazing desserts, but it has some awesome appetizers, entrees, and side dishes as well.  At the beginning, it also has an extensive list (with photos) of every single apple out there.  If you want to know how tart an apple is, whether it’s good for apple sauce, how long its shelf life is, etc. this book will tell you.

Kudos to Amy Traverso for coming up with a wonderful cookbook that has beautiful photos and recipes and that showcases some of the various areas in the U.S. that are notorious for good apples (cough, cough… NYS!).  I used her recipe to make this Sweet Potato, Apple & Ginger Soup served alongside an Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  My pics don’t do this dinner justice because it was dark and the hubby and I were starving.  But take my word that both this soup and grilled cheese were amazing!!!!!!!


Sweet Potato Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 lb baby-cut carrots
  • 2 large apples, unpeeled, cored & cut into cubes
  • 5 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 inch-long piece of fresh ginger, cut into chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh apple cider
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes, carrots, and apples with 3 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper.  Line a baking sheet with foil and roast vegetables and apples until tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, add the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil to a large stock pot and set over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, ginger, garlic, bay leaf, remaining salt and pepper, and cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the onions turn golden.
  3. Add the roasted vegetables, broth, and cider to the stock pot and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the bay leaf and use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.  Season to taste and serve.
Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 2 tsp whole-grain mustard
  • 1 apple, peeled and sliced
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese thinly sliced
Directions:
  1. Set a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Butter one side of the bread slice and lay butter side down.  Spread mustard on two of the bread slices and divide up the apple slices between the two portions, laying on top of the mustard.  Divide up the cheese slices and lay over the apples.  Top the sandwiches with the two remaining slices, buttered-side-up.
  3. Lay the sandwiches on the skillet and cook until the bottom is browned, 3-4 minutes, then flip.  Cook until the sandwiches are crisp, about 4-6 minutes more.
*The Apple Lover’s Cookbook

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Filed under Main Course, Side Dishes, Soup & Salad

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake


I hope you had a wonderful weekend!  Remember when I went apple picking back in mid September?  Well, I’ve kept those apples out on our screened-in-porch and they are just starting to go soft now, 4 weeks later.  That’s pretty good right?  I’ve made a lot of different goodies with these apples, one of them being this Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake.  It’s perfect for brunch or dessert!  What is your favorite dessert with apples?  I still have some leftover and am looking for some new apple recipes.  Do share!
Streusel Topping Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup Original Bisquick mix
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter

Coffee Cake:

  • 2 cups Origina Bisquick mix
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 medium apples, peeled and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2-3 tsp milk

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray 9″ square pan with cooking spray.
  2. In bowl, mix the streusel toppings together except the butter.  With a pastry cutter, cut in butter until crumbles form and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine Bisquick mix, milk, sugar, egg, and apple slices and beat for 30 seconds.
  4. Spread half of the batter in the pan and sprinkle with streusel topping.  Spread the remaining batter over and sprinkle with remaining topping.  Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, stir the glaze ingredients together until thin enough to drizzle.  Drizzle over the warm cake and serve.
*Adapted from Betty Crocker

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Filed under Baked Goods, Breakfast, Desserts

Gingerbread Pancakes

It’s almost the weekend, so that means you have to make these Gingerbread Pancakes!  They are the perfect fall breakfast to treat yourself to.  It’s been a long week, and you deserve some TLC in the form of fluffy, spice-filled, gooey maple goodness.  I saw Jenna from Eat, Live, Run blog about these pancakes and decided I had to give them a whirl.  This is such a great recipe because these pancakes were fluffy, hearty, and had such a warm, spice flavor that was perfect on a cool, autumn day.  Enjoy these pancakes and have a wonderful weekend!

Do you have anything fun planned for this weekend?

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and brown sugar.
  2. In another bowl, combine the egg, melted butter, sour cream, and milk.  Combine the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  (Batter will be thicker than other pancake batter.)
  3. Heat a greased skillet and cook batter (in cupfuls) until golden on both sides.  Drizzle with butter and maple syrup.

Slightly adapted from Eat, Live, Run



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Filed under Breakfast

Pumpkin Ginger Bars

Big news here, or at least, big news for me… I joined a new gym!  After 6+ years of belonging to the same gym, my hubby and I checked out a new one and decided to join.  My old gym was afforable and had numerous locations throughout the DC Metro Area, so whenever I moved, I was able to still work out at one of their gyms.  However, since we just bought our house, the gym that is closest to us is not as great as the other locations that I’ve been to.  It’s in a really traffic-intense part of town and it doesn’t offer a lot of fitness classes and the ones that they do offer, are not at convenient times.  Needless to say, we found a new gym and this one is amazing!  They have a pool, basketball court, sauna, steam room, whirlpool, tons of machines, and most importantly for me, a huge selection of fitness classes offered each and every day.  I was so excited after joining this new gym that I went back home and made these delicious Pumpkin Ginger Bars with cream cheese frosting.  Enjoy!

Do you prefer working out on your own at the gym or taking fitness classes?  What are your favorite classes?

Ingredients:

Bars

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 ½  cups packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 2 eggs

 Frosting

  • 1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  • Pumpkin pie spice for sprinkling

Directions:

  1.  Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, ginger and cinnamon and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat applesauce, brown sugar, milk, vanilla, pumpkin, and eggs until combined.  Add the dry ingredients and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Spread in pan.
  3. Bake 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  4. In small bowl, beat cream cheese and butter on low-speed until blended.  Beat in vanilla.  Gradually beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and 1 to 2 tablespoons milk until frosting is smooth and spreadable.
  5. Frost cooled bars and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.  Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until set.
Adapted from Betty Crocker

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Pumpkin Seed Brittle


I hope you had a fantastic weekend! It was beautiful here this past weekend, perfect fall weather. One of the things that we accomplished this past weekend was building a stone fire pit in our backyard. Well, I have to give all the credit to my hubby for actually building it; I just helped him pick the stone out at Home Depot. The fire pit is awesome and perfect to sit around on cool, autumn nights. That’s exactly what we did this past Saturday night with some close friends. We sipped some hard apple cider and munched on this delicious Pumpkin Seed Brittle. This brittle is so tasty especially because it has that salty and sweet thing going on. Definitely give this brittle a try!!!!!
What about you, are you enjoying the cooler weather?
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 ounces roasted salted pumpkin seeds
  • Sprinkle sea salt
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pumpkin seeds on a large rimmed, nonstick baking sheet and bake until slightly toasted, about 7 minutes. Once toasted, set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, butter and corn syrup and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel is light brown and registers 300° on a candy thermometer, 10-15 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble.
  4. Stir in the pumpkin seeds, then immediately scrape the brittle onto the same baking sheet. Using the back of a large spoon (oil it lightly if it sticks), spread the brittle into a thin, even layer. Sprinkle with salt. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  5. Break the brittle into large shards.

*Adapted from Food and Wine

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Filed under Desserts

Spaghetti w/ White Wine & Mussels

Since my hubby and I are new homeowners (as of the end of August), we’ve realized how much work goes in to maintaining and upkeeping an entire house.  Before, we lived in a townhouse that we rented and didn’t have to worry about anything that broke or needed replacing.  For example, our oven broke, so we called the owner and he bought us a brand new one.  Awesome right?  Well renting is fine and dandy because you don’t have to worry about mowing your lawn (what lawn?) or about painting walls or replacing leaky faucets.  However, down in the DC Metro area, renting is no joke; we’re basically paying around the same in our mortgage each month that we paid for our rent each month… and we OWN THE PLACE.  Owning a home is a lot of work, but it has been fun to decorate as we see fit.  This past weekend, the hubby and I got a TON of stuff done around our house, the biggest of which was painting two rooms.  Painting is really annoying especially putting all that tape up.  I never knew how tedious and time consuming it could be, but it’s done and it looks great!  To celebrate?  I made us this wonderful meal of Spaghetti w/White Wine & Mussels for dinner on Sunday.  It was a much-needed reward for all of our hard work.  So if you’re looking to hire a part-time painter…. haha no, definitely just kidding.  But if you do live in this area and have any recommendations for good painters, do share!  We have one large room with a lot of doorways and curves that would take the two of us probably 2 months to paint.  Would love to hear your recommendations!  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/4-inch-thick lemon slices
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, reserve 1 tbsp for sprinkling
  • 2 pounds fresh mussels, scrubbed, debearded

Directions:

  1. Bring a large stock pot with salted water to boil.  Once boiling, add spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and salt and sauté until onion is light brown, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add wine, lemon slices and 1/4 cup parsley; bring to boil. Add mussels. Cover pot and cook until mussel shells open, stirring once to rearrange mussels, about 6 minutes.
  4. With a slotted spoon, transfer mussels to a bowl. Discard any that do not open.
  5. Drain pasta and add mussels.  Pour sauce over and season to taste with salt.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

*Adapted from Bon Appétit

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Homemade Applesauce


I hope everyone had a wonderful Columbus Day weekend!  Remember the 16 pounds of apples that I picked a few weekends ago?  Well, it was time to start putting them to good use, so I decided to make some Homemade Applesauce.  I like to keep my applesauce simple and showcase the flavors of the apples, so I use apples that are specifically good for sauce, like McIntosh or Macoun.  I love to eat my applesauce plain or add it to various foods, like French toast.

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I received Bauducco® Panettone with raisins and with chocolate chips.  I decided to use the panettone with chocolate chips to make some French toast for breakfast this past weekend.  I topped this delicious French toast with some applesauce and maple syrup.  It was scrumptious!  Enjoy!


Ingredients:

  • 12 apples, McIntosh or Macoun, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Mason jars, 1 quart and 1 pint, sterilized

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine apples, sugar, and cinnamon.
  2. In a large stock pot, place water on the bottom and add the apples.  Cook on low until the apples become soft, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add applesauce to mason jars and store in refrigerator.

*Makes 1 quart and 1 pint of applesauce

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Filed under Side Dishes

Broccoli Soup

Cool weather for me means soups and stews!  Broccoli soup is one of those classic soups that I love to make and love to dip bread in.  I decided to make some savory monkey bread with oregano, garlic, and olive oil.  The monkey bread came out soft and perfect for dipping in this creamy soup.  The soup recipe is also easy and delicious; I added a bit more garlic and red pepper flakes since I love both those flavors.  Melted cheese on top of the hot soup makes this dish perfect for a cool, fall day.  Enjoy!


Broccoli Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped
  • 3 small celery ribs, thinly sliced (1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into florets
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Shredded cheese, to melt over soup
  • Bread for dipping
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add the broccoli and water to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender and puree until smooth. Season the soup with salt and pepper and sprinkle cheese over.  Serve with bread.
*Adapted from Food and Wine

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Filed under Baked Goods, Bread, Soup & Salad