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.
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.
These moist, simple and seasonal cupcakes are perfect for cozy days.
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
Heat oven to 350F and line 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In medium bowl, whisk flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl combine pumpkin, molasses and vanilla.
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.
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.
Frost with Cream Cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese frosting:
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.
It’s the middle of the week and I think it’s a perfect time to share one of my favorite go-to snacks. I love these Oatmeal Raisin bars because they’re healthy and they’re easy to make. I used to reach for those protein bars and then those other “nice” bars (you know the ones I talking about) and various other bars for my mid-morning snack with a cup of tea. Then I got to a point where I realized some of those bars are just as bad as a candy bar. Go ahead, read some of those labels. And the other bars while they have real foods in them (don’t get me started on the ingredients that I can’t pronounce in packaged foods) I found them to be held together by something gooey and sugary and I didn’t like the taste or texture. Ugh. So I now make my own bars. And today’s recipe is an Oatmeal Raisin bar that is easy, fast and flexible. Best of all, you know exactly what you’re putting into the bar.
When I’m in the mood a little chocolate, I had a handful of chips to the batter. When I want to take the bars up a notch I substitute the raisins with dried cherries and add in dark chocolate chips. Like the bars as is but like and added kick of cinnamon, then sprinkle a little extra. You really can’t do anything wrong to this recipe.
There are days that are just meant to be soup days. You know the kind of days I’m talking about. Rainy, dreary, chilly or snowy and bone-chilling cold. The Sunday that I made my first big pot of this soup for the season wasn’t snowy or bone-chilling, just rainy and dreary with a gray sky. A perfect soup day. And what was the soup of the day you ask? Roasted Butternut Squash soup.
This soup says to me “Autumn” like no other soup but on a cold, wintry day it’s just as comforting. I love curling up, yep, this is that kind of meal, with a big bowl on the sofa while the changing leaves whirl around outside as the day slips into cool darkness. But before I can do that I need to make the soup. Some people opt not to make this soup because lets face it, a butternut squash can be a beast to work with. It’s awkward shape an thickness can lead to mishaps with a knife and since we don’t want that to happen it’s easier just to buy a can a soup at the store or pick-up a to-go container at a local restaurant. Since I love a challenge I’ve taken the butternut squash head on for several years, peeling and chopping and roasting until a light bulb went off over my head (seriously, I swear that happened) and the word “duh” escaped my lips. I don’t peel or chop or risk digits to make my beloved soup. I now simply cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Now, when I cut the squash in half it still is a little difficult to hold straight, it tends to want to roll a little so I simply slice off a small sliver of the squash on one side of the bottom (where it’s wider) so that the squash lays flat against the surface of my carving board and then I work my knife through it to slice in half. Once I have two halves I then sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle olive oil over both halves.
All right, enough with talking, lets get onto the recipe.
Oh, one more thing before we get to the recipe. I’ve used an immersion blender in the past to puree this soup and it’s worked fine. But this time around I used my Vitamix blender and I was left with the creamiest, silkiest soup I’ve ever made. In the recipe I refer to the immersion blender but if you have a blender that will handle a big batch of hot soup then go for it.
Rub both halves of the butternut squash with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over both halves. Roast for one hour or until tender.
In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, toss the onion, potato and garlic with olive oil to coat; season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, add the apples and continue to bake until tender. Transfer vegetables and apples and any juices to a large soup pot, add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Add milk to get desired thickness, season with salt and pepper.
Add a little festive to your next breakfast. Begin with a basic pancake recipe, pour in some eggnog and call it a holiday! For some more fun, kick up your syrup with some fresh cranberries. Boy, if Santa knew this was on the menu for Christmas breakfast he wouldn’t be returning to the North Pole so quickly.
Start your day with these yummy festive pancakes. If Santa knew you were making these on Christmas morning he would stay for breakfast.
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups eggnog
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon sugar
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In separate bowl, mix the eggnog, eggs, and sugar.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until the batter is evenly moistened. (Note, the batter will not be smooth and that's okay).
While the batter rests, heat a griddle over medium heat. Butter pan and then when the pan is heated, four the batter onto the cooking surface. Use the spoon to gently spread the thick batter.
Flip the pancakes when they're covered in bubbles and the underside is nicely browned. Cook the other side for about half as long. Serve immediately with syrup.
Cranberry syrup: Depending how many pancakes you make, this syrup can be adjusted. I used 1 cup of cranberries with 2 tablespoons sugar and two tablespoons of cranberry juice and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. This is such an easy recipe you can adjust it for taste. I also added regular syrup to my servings.