Baking, Holidays

Mini-Eggnog Cranberry Pound Cakes

Once upon a time there was a writer who was in the midst of writing a manuscript while working a full-time job and caring for an injured dog at Christmas, and just when she didn’t think her to-do list could get any longer, it did. She had to bake for her 20-plus co-workers. She needed something quick, easy and had a high yield because she was short on time. The countdown to Christmas day had begun and she needed her own little baking miracle. Then a flash of inspiration hit and within a couple hours she was packing up the cargo space in her SUV with treats for her co-workers. What saved the day? Cranberry Eggnog Mini-Pound cakes.

That is the year I traded my made-from-scratch pound cake batter for a box mix and it was the best decision I made that holiday season. Billy has major surgery, he’d fractured his jaw and he needed care 24/7. He was droggy from the pain meds, he really couldn’t eat so I had to serve him pureed pumpkin with water (a soup only a pup could love) several times a day to keep him hydrated. And it was Christmas!

I looked through what I had on hand and that’s when the inspiration sparked and I quickly gathered all the ingredients—eggs, vanilla, eggnog, cranberries. I used the eggnog in place of the milk. Add in some chopped cranberries and a plain pound cake became festive. Bake them in pretty molds and they become giftable (is that a real word? probably not but you know what I mean).

I always have a large roll of cellophane on hand and various ribbons stashed away for any occasion. I did have a stack of cake boards that I cut into small discs for the cakes. But that was a little time-consuming so now I just wrap the cakes in the cellophane. If you’re really short on time you can bake one large cake or a couple of loaf cakes according to the directions on the box. I do love the smaller cakes though. They’re just so pretty.

These little cakes showed me that simple sometimes is the best thing we can do. We get so caught up in all the things we think need to be done for the holidays and yet these very easy treats have become one of my most requested desserts and I’m happy to whip up a batch.

Ready for the recipe? There really isn’t one. But here are the basics and don’t be afraid to experiment. I’ve made mini-petite cakes and added Bailey’s Vanilla Cinnamon to the batter.

You’ll need: 1 box of pound cake mix along with the ingredients listed on the box but you’ll replace the milk with eggnog and you’ll add 3/4 cup finely chopped cranberries to the batter along with a dash of vanilla. In addition, confectioners’ sugar to dust each cake.
Tips:
For the mini-cakes pictured above I bake them for 18-22 minutes, it all depends on your oven.
I typically get 6-9 mini-pound cakes from each box.
If you’re using mini-bundt pans be sure not to overfill each mold with batter or else you’ll never get the cake out. (Been there and it wasn’t pretty.)

Merry Baking!

 

Baking, Recipes

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

It’s finally starting to feel like autumn. There’s a cool breeze, no humidity (thank you! thank you! thank you!) and the leaves are starting to become more intense in their color. Thanks to a storm on Monday night the walkway is covered with fallen leaves so when I walk to the street, there’s the comforting sound of rustling leaves.

Awe. Fall.

I had the urge to bake the other day and I wanted to make cupcakes. But I didn’t want to make the usual. I wanted something different. When I was in the grocery store I saw boxes of Pumpkin Spice cake mix and I thought “that’s it! I’ll make Pumpkin Spice cupcakes and the perfect frosting would be cream cheese”. I bypassed the boxes of mix because I’d make my own when I got home after putting the groceries away. And I did!

Biting into these cupcakes was like taking a bite out of autumn. Everything I love about the season was packed into this tiny little package of yumminess. The spices swirled with the pumpkin and the flavor burst in my mouth as the cream cheese frosting added a creamy richness. In a nutshell, these cupcakes were sweet, simple and very seasonal.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
These moist, simple and seasonal cupcakes are perfect for cozy days.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1⅓ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp. molasses
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temp
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Cream Cheese frosting:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temp
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350F and line 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In another bowl combine pumpkin, molasses and vanilla.
  4. In a large bowl beat sugar and butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and beat in eggs, one at a time. Then, alternating, add flour and pumpkin mixtures, beating until just combined.
  5. Divide batter among muffin-pan cups and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack for 5 minutes to cool, then remove cupcakes from pan to completely cool.
  6. Frost with Cream Cheese frosting.
  7. Cream Cheese frosting:
  8. Combine cream cheese and butter in bowl and beat until light and fluffy with electric mixture. Add in confectioners' sugar and vanilla, combine until light and fluffy.

 

Friday Faves, Holidays

Friday Faves – Cozy Reads Halloween Edition

Happy Friday!

Are you ready to get your spook on? Halloween is just a few weeks away and it’s the perfect time to curl up with a Halloween-themed book. Nightfall is coming earlier, it gets dark here about 7pm and that’s when I usually make a cup of tea, gather the pups on the sofa and settle in with a book. This month I’m reading spooky cozies mysteries. 🙂

Go grab a cup of your choice of hot beverage, dim the lights (but not too dim) and sink into a deliciously spooky cozy mystery.

Stirring the Plot by Daryl Wood Gerber (A Cookbook Nook Mystery)

Halloween in Crystal Cove, California, is a big deal, involving a spooky soiree where the Winsome Witches, a fund-raising group, gather to open up their purse strings and trade superstitions. But party magicians, fortune-tellers, and herbalists are only the beginning of this recipe for disaster…

Jenna Hart has packed The Cookbook Nook chock-full of everything from ghostly texts to witchy potions in anticipation of the annual fund-raiser luncheon. But there’s one unexpected addition to the menu: murder.

When the Head Priestess of the Winsome Witches is found dead under mysterious circumstances, there’s no logical answer and plenty of blame to go around. With her aunt, Vera, unable to call on her ability to foresee the future, Jenna will have to use more than just sleight of hand and a few magic tricks to conjure up the truth…

Dial Meow for Murder by Bethany Blake (Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery)

Even an experienced pet sitter like Daphne Templeton can be fooled by animal behavior: how can an adorably tiny fuzz ball named Tinkleston be capable of sudden flying leaps with cat claws bared? But human behavior remains even more mysterious, especially when Tinkleston’s owner is murdered on the night of a gala fundraiser for Fur-ever Friends Pet Rescue.

Accompanied by her unflappable basset hound, Socrates, Daphne plans to take charge of Tinks the Terror and leave the crime-solving to handsome detective Jonathan Black. But while luring the prickly Persian out of hiding, she uncovers clues that might take suspicion off her own mother. Maeve Templeton already has a reputation as a killer—in real estate. How far would she go to bag Sylvan Creek’s most coveted property, the Flynt Mansion?

To expose the truth, Daphne finds herself donning a deranged clown costume on an autumnal adventure that might just be crazy enough to work—if it doesn’t get her killed.

The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer by Krista Davis (A Paws & Claws Mystery)

Wagtail, Virginia, the top pet-friendly getaway in the United States, is gearing up for a howling good Halloween—until a spooky murder shakes the town to its core..

Holly Miller doesn’t believe in spirits, but the Sugar Maple Inn is filled with guests who do. The TV series in development, Apparition Apprehenders, has descended on Wagtail’s annual Halloween festivities to investigate supernatural local legends, and Holly has her hands full showing the ghost hunters a scary-fun time.

But the frights turn real when Holly’s Jack Russell, Trixie, and kitten, Twinkletoes, find a young woman drowned in the Wagtail Springs Hotel’s bathhouse—the spot of the town’s most infamous haunting. The crime scene is eerily similar to the creepy legend, convincing Holly that the death wasn’t just accidental. Now she’ll have to race to catch a flesh-and-blood killer—before someone else in town gives up the ghost…

Grave Errors by Carol Perry (A Witch City Mystery)

For residents of Salem, Massachusetts, the day after Halloween brings empty candy wrappers, sagging pumpkins, and a community-wide identity crisis. That is, until Lee Barrett’s TV production class suggests extending the spooky season with the traditional Mexican celebration Dia de Los Muertos. But when the students discover not all of Salem’s dead are resting in peace, the post-October blues don’t seem so bad after all . . .

As if a series of haunting graveyard visits isn’t disturbing enough, Lee and her policeman boyfriend connect the crime to an unsolved missing person case. Driven by a series of chilling psychic visions, Lee calls on her cleverest allies—including her shrewd cat, O’Ryan—to go underground and dig up the evidence needed to put a lid on a cold case forever . . . before the latest headstone in town has her name on it!

Deadly Brew by Karen MacInerney (Dewberry Farm Mysteries)

It’s Halloween in Buttercup, Texas, and reporter-turned-farmer Lucy Resnick is up to her ears in more than goats and wayward cows. Not only has her well dried up, but it turns out the old house Lucy recently moved to the farm has a reputation for spooks… and they are disturbingly active. Then a tarot card reading at a local mead winery foretells death… only to have exotic game ranch owner Bug Wharton turn up dead. Cause of death? Murder, by a fatal dose of bee venom. When the dimwitted sheriff fingers local witch and mead winery owner Seraphine Alexandre, Lucy gets involved… and soon discovers that all kinds of things are brewing in Buttercup. And some of them are deadly.

There you have it, a few good books to take you through the month of October. When I curl up with my tea I’m now using a new mug, perfect for fall and for a mystery author.

What’s your favorite book to read this time of year? Are you currently reading a Halloween themed cozy that’s not on this list? If so, what is it?

Happy Reading!

Debra
Friday Faves

Friday Faves – Halloween Edition

Happy Friday!

We’re getting closer to Halloween. Can you believe it? Actually, it’s a little hard for me to believe because this past week we hit 80 degrees a couple of days. Boo! I want cool, crisp October air. 🙂

Even with the slightly warmer temps, now’s a good time to start thinking about some Halloween recipes and crafts.

How about a Halloween Yarn Garland from Camille at Growing Up Gabel? The garland looks so cute and kids will love it.

To keep your crafty self busy these DIY Jack Skellington Multi-Holiday mugs are the perfect touch for snuggling up with a cup of hot cocoa. Sarah from Bombshell Bling shows you how to make a scary mug.

How about a snack on Halloween? Easy Oreo Pumpkin Pops could be the perfect treat for your little ghosts and goblins. Erin from Suburban Simplicity shares the very easy recipe.

Not looking for a snack? Then how about a drink? The Pumpkinhead Horror Movie Drink looks frightfully delicious. Liz and Chanelle from Eat Move Make share the recipe for a killer non-alcohol cocktail.

How about going a little batty this Halloween? Nina from Grandma Ideas shares the Easiest Ever Bat Craft just in time for Halloween decorating. They’re adorable!

I hope you enjoyed my Faves for this week. It’s nice to be able to take a quick break and visit some fun posts where you can pick up an idea or two.

Have a great day!

Debra
Friday Faves

Friday Faves – Autumn Edition

Happy Friday!

It’s a pumpkin spice kind of day. The temps are a little cooler than they were last week (yay!) and the squirrels are very busy outside, I hear them scurrying through the fallen leaves. I’m ready to pull on my boots, slip into a cardigan and cozy up with a cup of soup.

Truth be told, I’ve been ready for a few weeks. I started adding my fall decorations around the house the last week in August. Maybe for some it was too soon but not for me. They make me happy and as I was preparing to give the second book in my Food Blogger Mystery series a final read through I wanted to be happy. 🙂 The read through can be difficult because writers can tweak their manuscripts forever. So we look for things that make us happy and comfortable. For me, seeing a pumpkin decoration was a good thing.

Today I sent my manuscript to my agent. It’s a nerve-wracking day – sending your beloved manuscript out to the world. What I wouldn’t give for just another day to tweak. Oh, well, I don’t have another day. So I’m going to focus on something else. Like some Faves to share with you. Ready for some autumn inspiration?

Shelly from Calypso In The Country shares A Festive Fall Vignette on the Console Table with us. It’s lovely and has me wishing wehad a console table.

Angie from Angie The Freckled Rose shares a round-up of 15 Fantastic Fall Garden to Table Recipes. There are some great recipes to try and I’m particularly interested in the Whipped Cinnamon Pumpkin Butter recipe.

How about home tour? Ann from Sutton Place shares her home as a part of the Farmhouse Fall Home Tour. I love how just a few touches of the season warm up a room and create a welcoming space.

If you’re looking to get your craft on then you’ll want to check out the Easy DIY Fall Faux Floral from Jenny Marie Louise. Jenny shows us how to pull together the decoration in less than a half hour.

Some more decorating inspiration from Carol at The Red Painted Cottage. She a few tidbits from the fall home tour in A Few Sticky Pears and Other Details. I love the creamy white kitchen. And those pears! I want them.

I hope you enjoyed my Faves for this week. It’s nice to be able to take a quick break and visit some fun posts where you can pick up an idea or two.

Have a great day!

Debra