Monthly Archives: October 2012

Pumpkin Muffins with Pumpkin Pie Cream Cheese Frosting

Forgive all the fall pumpkin posts, but pumpkin muffins are imperative in October.  Besides, when it looks like this outside, it’s difficult not to get into the spirit of fall and Halloween.

  Isn’t it just beautiful?  I’ve lived here for over two years now and views of peak season take my breath away every year.   The crisp air and cool breeze partnered by the seasonal colors and spices of October are only the beginning of what I love.  The chimneys start to smoke, the heavy coats come out of hibernation and the world just seems to finally slow down a bit.  It’s the moment of calm before the holiday storm.


We went pumpkin picking this weekend and my mom and sister came up to visit.  I made these muffins and they were a genuine hit.   I think the extra cream cheese frosting was the decided culprit of their success, though the moist crumb and high-rise center didn’t hurt their likeability factor.   The cream cheese frosting on pumpkin muffins is old news, but when you add a bit of pumpkin pie filling to it, a whole new level of spiced pumpkin October deliciousness is reached.  The result was the lightest, fluffiest, most delicately beautiful spiced pumpkin cream cheese frosting I’ve ever made.     I immediately thought of all the possibilities I could create with such a successfully light and perfectly easy frosting.  Instead, I just sat down and spread it onto the muffins I worked to make and enjoyed it.  That’s just one element of what October is all about, and why I love it so.

Pumpkin Pie Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin pie filling (not pumpkin puree)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • confectioners sugar to taste

With and electric mixer on high speed, mix together the cream cheese, pumpkin pie filling, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract.  Taste and add confectioner’s sugar to taste in increments of one to two tablespoons at a time, mixing after each addition, until desired sweetness is reached.

Pumpkin Muffins

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-grain pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsulphered molasses
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.   Line a twelve cup muffin tin with paper baking cup liners.    In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, molasses, oil and 1 egg until combines and then add the other egg and whisk again. Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the sour cream. Whisk once more until the batter just comes together.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes then remove from muffin tin and cool completely on a wire cooling rack.  Top with frosting (recipe above).

 

Muffins Adapted From:  Source

Posted in Breakfast, Entertaining, For Kids, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Stuffed Acorn Squash: Wild Mushroom Soup and Rosemary Biscuits

This is just a little something I tossed together for lunch today.     I made some wild mushroom soup yesterday which is one of my favorite things to make in the fall.  It has melted onions, herbs, ginger, ground nutmeg and a splash of cream.  Then I made some rosemary biscuits this morning and I thought, as I looked at the acorn squash, that roasting it with just a bit of butter and brown sugar would make a perfectly caramelized fall soup bowl.  And the biscuits…Well, let’s be honest here people; biscuits are always amazing.   It’s just that these are particularly amazing. They have a bit of rosemary and parmigiano-reggiano and then get dunked into the hearty and rich wild mushroom soup in bite sized pieces or whatever you prefer. The sweet roasted squash gets eaten in bits as you scoop away at the soup and biscuits adding just a hint of sweet to the savory, which I absolutely adore.  It’s pure fall comfort.

 

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Wild Mushroom Soup
Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 3/4 cups diced sweet onions
  • bay leaf
  • 13.5 ounces mixed wild mushrooms, wiped clean, trimmed as necessary and chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • dash of freshly ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup cream or half and half
Rosemary Biscuits
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • whole milk (about a cup)
Roasted Squash
Ingredients:
  • acorn squash
  • butter
  • brown sugar
Directions: Wild Mushroom Soup

In a medium pot over medium low heat, add olive oil and onions. Cover and cook, stirring every three to five minutes until translucent.  Remove cover and add bay leaf, garlic, butter and mushrooms and stir every few minutes until the mushrooms are browned (this step takes awhile, so be patient with it, please).  Add wine, vegetable stock, water and ginger and turn heat to medium.  Bring to a simmer and add thyme, rosemary, sage, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in cream.

Directions: Rosemary Biscuits

Preheat oven to three hundred fifty degrees fahrenheit.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together flours and baking powder.  Cut butter into pea sized pieces and mix into dry ingredients until crumbly.  Add rosemary, parmigiano-reggiano, salt, pepper and brown sugar.  Stir in milk until a sticky batter forms (about a cup).  Drop spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet and bake in preheated oven until they spring back when gently pressed and are golden on both the top and bottom side.

Directions: Roasted Squash

Preheat oven to four hundred degrees fahrenheit.  Note: If using squash as a serving bowl, you will need one per person.  Cut tops off of squash and clean out the insides of seeds and bits.  Combine one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of brown sugar per squash in a microwave safe bowl  and heat on high until melted and bubbling.  Score insides of squash with a knife in a checkerboard pattern.  Brush insides of each squash with the butter and sugar mixture.  Place squash on rimmed baking sheet and bake until tender enough that a fork easily goes through the flesh of the squash but it still holds its shape.

Directions: Stuffed Squash

Fill squash while warm with hot soup and top with bite sized pieces of biscuits.  Enjoy.

 

Posted in Dinner, Entertaining, Lunch, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Apple Streusel Crisp Cups

Look at them with all their luscious buttery cinnamon sugared deliciousness.  I’m warning you now, these are not for the weak willed.  They are portion controlled for a reason.

 

It all started when I had a craving for coffee cake that lingered in my head for too long and became a bit twisted.  I thought about making the coffee cake for a few hours, then I researched some recipes and never mustered the energy to bake one of those (many dish using) recipes.  My laziness morphed my innocent little craving for a simple small piece of heavily crumbed coffee cake into a maniacal streuseled beast.

For two days I thought about streusel.  I was in deep and I wanted something more intense; coffee cake was no longer my remedy.  My streusel fever could only be cured by something equally deliciously demonic as my craving.  It became clear I needed sweetly fresh morsels of red delicious apples tossed in a splash of orange juice, perfectly baked between layers of rich oatmeal and brown sugar streusel, spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and just a tiny pinch of ground cloves.

They are admittedly and unapologetically two bites of wondrous spiced apple streusel heaven.

 

 

 

Apple Streusel Crisp Cups

  • 1 stick chilled butter, cut into pea sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • dash of freshly grated nutmeg
  • small pinch of ground cloves
  • small pinch of ground ginger
  • 1  cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 baseball sized apples, cored and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

1.  Prepare for baking:  Move oven rack to top third of oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line a 12-cup muffin tin with parchment cupcake wrappers. Place muffin tin on a larger baking sheet for baking.

2.  Make streusel:  Combine butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, oats, flour and sugar into a bowl.   Mix with pastry cutter or your fingers until uniform in texture and crumbly.  You’re done when the mixture sticks to itself when pinched. Reserve about three quarters of a cup of streusel for top layer and then divide remaining streusel evenly among the bottom of cupcake wrappers.  Press gently to create a bottom layer of streusel.

3.  Prepare apples:  Toss chopped apples with orange juice to add flavor and prevent browning.  Add one layer of bite sized apples to each cup.  The cups should be about three quarters of the way filled, now.

4.  Sprinkle remaining streusel evenly over the layer of apples.  Gently press into the apple layer.

5.  Bake in preheated oven for 20-23 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool in the cupcake tin on a wire rack for about seven minutes.  Once cool enough to handle remove cups from tin.  Enjoy warm with ice cream or whipped cream if desired, or chill once the cups are cooled to room temperature for future devouring.

Apple Streusel Crisp Cups

Recipe Type: dessert, breakfast
Cuisine: American
Author: Kate Moran
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
The invention of apple crisp cups are my sick and twisted mind at work: Bite sized red delicious apples tossed with a splash of orange juice, sandwiched between two obscenely thick layers of oatmeal brown sugar streusel which is spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and just a tiny pinch of ground cloves. This recipe eliminates fillers to intensify the best of the best of every cinnamon apple streuseled dessert you could ever possibly imagine. They are admittedly and unapologetically two bites of wondrous spiced apple streusel heaven.
Ingredients
  • 1 stick chilled butter, cut into pea sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • dash of freshly grated nutmeg
  • small pinch of ground cloves
  • small pinch of ground ginger
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 baseball sized apples, cored and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
Instructions
  1. Prepare for baking: Move oven rack to top third of oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake wrappers. Place muffin tin on a larger baking sheet for baking.
  2. Make streusel: Combine butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, oats, flour and sugar into a bowl. Mix with pastry cutter or your fingers until uniform in texture and crumbly. You’re done when the mixture sticks to itself when pinched. Reserve about three quarters of a cup of streusel for top layer and then divide remaining streusel evenly among the bottom of cupcake wrappers. Press gently to create a bottom layer of streusel.
  3. Prepare apples: Toss chopped apples with orange juice to add flavor and prevent browning. Add one layer of bite sized apples to each cup. The cups should be about three quarters of the way filled, now.
  4. Sprinkle remaining streusel evenly over the layer of apples. Gently press into the apple layer.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20-23 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the cupcake tin on a wire rack for about seven minutes. Once cool enough to handle remove cups from tin. Enjoy warm with ice cream or whipped cream if desired, or chill once the cups are cooled to room temperature for future devouring.

 

Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, Entertaining, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Savory Pumpkin Quinoa Cakes

I used to loathe quinoa.

 

The foreign texture and lack of flavor was only highlighted by the ever faint taste of dirt, quite honestly.  The only thing I could find redeeming about it was saying the word quinoa (keeeenwaaa).  It’s a fun thing for me.  I don’t get out much.

However, like most foods, it’s all about the technique used to cook it that makes it terrible or amazing.   The package directions forget to tell you that quinoa naturally (for the most part) tastes like nothing and yes, maybe even a little bit like dirt.  However, if you cook quinoa in a delicious liquid, the quinoa will absorb the that deliciousness and become delicious itself, much like rice.  So, cook your quinoa in something delicious (like vegetable stock with mushroom and shallot and roasted squash – yum!) and it will be delicious.  I promise you.  Whoever is in charge of the quinoa package should really add that little tip to the back of box.

Then once you’re on the quinoa band wagon along with all the other foodies, you will have to make the always spectacular quinoa cakes.  These roasted pumpkin quinoa cakes with aromatics and sage butter are outstanding. My love of quinoa is now trumped only by quinoa cakes.  The inviting dark golden brown crispy exterior and adorable presentation are upstaged solely by their flavor.   You take a bite and an explosion of savory herbed aromatics and browned butter magnify the delicious autumnal flavor of warm roasted pumpkin.   It’s astonishingly delicious and perfectly, seasonally, vegetarian.

 

Savory Pumpkin Quinoa Cakes

Note: The quinoa needs to be cooked in (store bought or homemade) quality, seasonal vegetable stock.

  • 2 cups seasoned cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup seasoned roasted pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup minced carrot
  • 1/4 cup minced celery
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • pinch of dried rosemary and thyme (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • your favorite oil, for pan frying

Mix quinoa, pumpkin and eggs in a bowl, and set aside.   Heat a nonstick pan over low heat.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, butter, sage, rosemary, thyme and cayenne to the pan.  Lightly season with salt and pepper and cover to sweat out the vegetables and let the flavors combine.  Once vegetables are soft and fragrant, remove the lid and turn heat to medium to lightly brown the butter and onions.

Once golden brown, add to the quinoa mixture, mixing vigorously so you don’t cook the eggs.   Continue to mix until mixture is tempered.  Add oil to a pan over medium heat.  Drop rounded tablespoons onto sizzling oil and cook the cakes  on each side until brown and cooked through.   Serve warm.

 

Posted in Dinner, Entertaining, For Kids, Lunch, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Halloween Guide

Ten Things To Do, Make and Bake By October 31st.

1.  Make a pumpkin pie… from a real pumpkin.  It tastes better and you have more control over the quality and quantity of ingredients.   A step-by-step photo tutorial by, “Oh She Glows” on How To Roast A Sugar Pumpkin & Make Fresh Pumpkin Purée can be found here.  From there, you just need a decent pumpkin pie recipe that uses pumpkin purée.   Try this one from eagle brand.

 

Photo from Eagle brand Pumpkin Pie Recipe

For a more varied option on what to do with pumpkin purée, there’s pumpkin pie bars from one of my favorite bloggers, Joy the Baker.  They look fantastic, don’t they?

Photo from Joy the Baker’s post, “Pumpkin Pie Bars”.

 

Want more?   For fifteen more pumpkin dishes you’ll love, I send you here to the experts over at serious eats.

 

2.  Go to Oktoberfest!  Eat food and drink some Oktoberfest beer.  I’m partial to Spaten but Magic Hat and Sam Adams are also excellent.  For the top ten Oktoberfest beer list, click here.  We went to an Oktoberfest last weekend and we had a blast.  It was surprisingly family friendly with everything from rides for the kids to potato pancakes for the vegetarian (annoyingly raises her hand) while everyone else enjoys their sausages and smoked meats with a little polka in the background followed by a pie eating contest.  If you can’t find an Oktoberfest or you want more pumpkin-centric family fun, try pumpkin picking!

Spaten Oktoberfest Stein


Oktoberfest Dancers

Rides for the kids

3. Bake some Halloween cookies!   So you’re one of those artsy-crafty people and not so much into the cooking?  Or maybe you’re one of those ever so talented crafty foodies? Check out these spider cookies by the bearfoot baker, featured on the daily buzz  if you’re into sugar crafts.  Pretty awesome, right?  I was impressed.   I am lacking in the crafty department, so I leave that to the many sugar-talented foodies that roam the blogosphere.

 

The Bearfoot Baker’s Spooky 3D Spider Cookies

 

4.  Make a witch tortilla…or a bat snack cake.  If I ever were to give food-crafting a try for a holiday or special occasion, I’d start with one of the ideas found on Hungry Happenings.  Here you can find all sorts of adorable  treats and snacks for all occasions.  It’s a great way to impress the little ones or find inspiration for your next special-occasion themed snack table.

 

 

“Hungry Happenings” Photo

 

5.   Make and enjoy some Halloween themed cocktails!  Are you having a Halloween party?  These spook-tacular beverages will entertain just about anyone.  For more cocktail ideas find the complete list here.

Photo from MarthaStewart.com

 

 

6.  Make your own caramel!  You should really do yourself the honor of realizing just how easy it is.  Probably easier than disrobing fifty little caramel candies from their annoying little plastic wrappings.   It’s just logical and economical to make your own.  Dip some apples in it and roll them in nuts (or don’t) for the perfectly delicious yet very easy Halloween classic, caramel apples.  Click the photo of the apple (below) for the food network’s guide to making caramel.

 

Photo from foodnetwork.com

 

7.  Decorate!  Need decorating ideas?  Need more stuff to decorate with?  Check out Williams Sonoma.   I swear I could just drool and window shop there all day.  They have great products, though a bit pricey, they will at least inspire you to try to find something similar for less money.

Photo from WilliamsSonoma.com

 

8.  Dress up!  Are you someone that waits until the last minute to throw a Halloween costume together for that party you weren’t sure you were going to?   It’s five minutes until someone drags you out the door and you need a costume ASAP!  Have no fear.  There’s a guide for that too thanks to Real Simple.   Apparently, you can get away with just holding an iron while wearing a chef’s hat and you have yourself one very pun-tastic costume.   The complete list of easy to make Halloween costumes for adults can be found here.

9.  Dress your kids up!  Oh wait…Do you have kids? Well, if not then just omit this point. People with children and/or very fancy dogs that enjoy being dressed up can continue reading.   People with kids, as always, plan plan plan ahead! I like to figure out Halloween costumes for them in the first week of October.   Want to make your kid a costume?  How adorable is this spaghetti and meatball dinner costume?   I really enjoyed the clever static electricity costume as well.   Click the photo below for all thirty five easy to make ideas from Parenting.

Photo from Parenting.com

 

 

10.  Quick fix shopping!  Not interested in creating your own costume?  Me either!   Try this site.  I’ve bought a few costumes from here and they delivered on time and were pretty good quality for the price.   If your child is five or under, be sure to talk about how “cool and awesome” whatever costume you bought (or made) is, that way they’re excited and don’t lose interest in the costume by the big day.  If you’re looking for Halloween party decorations or other costumes, I recommend party city since it’s reliable and fairly inexpensive.  I haven’t ordered online from them yet, but their current offer of free shipping does make it tempting, so I might just have to give it a try.

 

 

Have your own Halloween treat, recipes, ideas, or websites that you absolutely couldn’t survive without?   Feel free to link or describe them in the comments below.  Happy Halloween Everyone!

Posted in All, Dessert, Entertaining, For Kids, Lunch, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments