Friday, October 25, 2013

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Wow, I can't believe October is over in less than a week! It really just flew by. I wanted to make sure I posted at least one more pumpkin recipe before the end of the month. This one is a great one! I made these pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting last Saturday during a baking break while working on papers. They are so delicious! I think it's my favorite pumpkin recipe I've made this season. The cupcakes are perfectly spiced & the texture is amazing. The frosting is also pretty incredible. I'm usually strictly a frosting person, but I actually might like the actual cake better in these cupcakes (don't tell the frosting). I topped some of the cupcakes with sweet and salty pumpkin seeds. This is totally optional. Greg thought he wouldn't like them, but he loved the combo and when given the choice of having one with or without seeds, he chose one with seeds. I also shared some cupcakes at work this week & my coworkers enjoyed them. One coworker said the seeds were good, but she thought that the cupcake alone with the cream cheese frosting was so good that she didn't really need the seeds. I had actually made the pumpkin seeds to top a butternut squash soup, and I used the leftovers for the cupcakes just for fun. I'll be sharing that soup recipe soon. But for now, here is the recipe for moist pumpkin cupcakes with yummy cream cheese frosting that is spiked with just a little bit of cinnamon. Enjoy (I think my baby really enjoyed the cream cheese frosting - so I think I am going to have to incorporate more cream cheese frosting into my diet)!

Recipe for Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (and sweet & salty pumpkin seeds)

2 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tsp. of baking soda
2 tsp. of baking powder
2 1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. of ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. of ground cloves
3/4 tsp. of salt
15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of light brown sugar
1 cup of canola oil
4 eggs

8 ounce package of cream cheese
6 Tbsp. of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 1/4 tsp. of vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. of ground cinnamon
2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted

Sweet and Salty Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup of pumpkin seeds
2 tsp. of canola oil
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.

Put the pumpkin puree, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and canola oil into a large bowl. Use an electric hand mixer set on medium-low speed to blend. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and mix after adding each one. Add in half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed, and then add the rest of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just incorporated.

Line cupcake pans with paper liners. Use a cookie dough scoop to fill the liners three quarters full with the batter. Put in oven and bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Check to make sure cupcakes are done (insert a toothpick in the center & if it comes out clean, it's done). Then remove from oven and put pans on a wire rack. Let cool for about 10 minutes, remove cupcakes from the pans and allow to cool completely.

When cupcakes are cooled, make the frosting. Put the cream cheese and softened butter into a medium sized bowl. Use an electric hand mixer set on medium-high speed to beat together for a couple minutes, or until mixture is smooth. Then add in the vanilla extract and mix. Mix in the ground cinnamon. Add in about 3/4 cup of the powdered sugar and blend until fully incorporated, then add in another 3/4 cup and blend. Check flavor and consistency, then add in another 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup depending on your preference and beat until completely smooth.

Frost the cupcakes.

For the pumpkin seeds: Put the sugar and salt into a largish sized bowl. Heat the canola oil over medium high heat. Add in the pumpkin seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until the seeds begin to pop quickly (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and add seeds to the sugar and salt mixture. Stir to coat. Pour the seeds onto a foil-lined baking sheet and allow to cool. Then top cupcakes with desired amount of seeds (I added about 5 - 8 per cupcake).

Store the cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge. They stay fresh and delicious for about 5 days.

Recipe makes about 20 cupcakes. 

Pumpkin Cupcake Recipe Source: Annie's Eats
Sweet & Salty Pumpkin Seed Recipe Source: Alexandra Cooks

Friday, October 18, 2013

Creamy Cajun-Style Pasta with Andouille Sausage

If you are looking for a way to jazz up your pasta, this is the recipe for you! I made this recipe a couple times quite awhile ago, and remembered it the other day when I looked at my Pinterest board for inspiration. I knew I had loved the dish, so I decided to make it again. This time I made it with sausage instead of chicken. If you are looking for something healthy, this recipe is probably not what you are looking for. The sauce is loaded with cream and butter - which makes it extra delicious. But, if the fat taste good, then they are good fats...right?

This creamy cajun-style pasta is fairly quick and easy to make. It is nice and filling and it is definitely a comfort food. I recommend that you try it today! Enjoy.

Recipe for Creamy Cajun-Style Pasta with Andouille Sausage

7 ounce link of Andouille sausage, sliced into smallish pieces (I use precooked sausage)
8 ounces of Farfalle pasta (bowtie)
1 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup of sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp. of kosher salt
1/4 tsp. of garlic powder
3/4 tsp. of Cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp. of cayenne pepper
Several grinds of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of 2% milk
1 cup of heavy cream
1 Tbsp. of cornstarch
1 Tbsp. of water

Cook the sausage according to package directions, or until fully cooked, in a large skillet. Transfer sausage to a plate and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.

In a small bowl, mix together the water and cornstarch. You will use this for the sauce. Set aside.

While pasta is cooking, put the butter and olive oil into the skillet you used to cook the sausage. Set over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the chopped peppers and onions to the skillet. Add in the salt, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Cook for about 6 - 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add in the milk and cream and bring to a simmer. Once it simmers, give the cornstarch and water mixture a stir and then add it to the sauce. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes or so.

Once pasta is finished cooking, drain in a colander. Add the cooked pasta to the thickened sauce and add in the cooked sausage. Stir well to coat in the sauce. Adjust heat to medium-low and cook until the sausage is warmed through. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 generous-sized servings. Good for leftovers. 

Recipe Adapted from: Annie's Eats 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Amazing Pumpkin Bread with Milk Chocolate AND Dark Chocolate Chips

I know, it's another pumpkin recipe. Last week I posted a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies with walnuts and sea salt, and now today I'm posting this recipe for pumpkin bread! I'm crazy for pumpkin. I also made a pumpkin smoothie recently & it was healthy and delicious. That might be the next recipe that I post. But if you're tired of the pumpkin recipes, maybe I can post a recipe for lentil and sausage soup, creamy cajun pasta, or thai squash soup. Or we can do more long as there are no objections!

About this's pretty incredible. It's super moist and flavorful and full of chocolatey goodness. If you can, use the Guittard brand of milk chocolate chips. There is something extra special about these chocolate chips and they are my choice for this bread. If you can't find them, the bread will still be amazing with another brand. This pumpkin bread seemed to be a hit at the latest staff breakfast that was hosted by my disappeared rather quickly. I also made it again the other night for a homeowners meeting that we had at our house, and the neighbors seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. At first I thought they were just being nice, but when I offered for them to take some extra home, they took me up on the offer to share with their spouse (or save for themselves)! I have another 2 loaves cooking in the oven right now. I just put them in, so I can't smell the deliciousness of the bread yet, but it definitely does fill the home with a wonderful aroma.  This bread is super easy to make and it taste great for several days. So if you were wondering what to do this Saturday evening, go make some pumpkin bread and enjoy it tomorrow!

Recipe for Amazing Pumpkin Bread with Milk Chocolate AND Dark Chocolate Chips

3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tsp. of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice
1/8 tsp. of ground cloves
1/4 tsp. of ground nutmeg
2 tsp. of baking soda
1/2 tsp. of salt
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree (about 2 cups)
4 large eggs
1 cup of vegetable oil
3 cups of granulated sugar
2/3 cup of water
1/8 tsp. of freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of milk chocolate chips (Guittard brand, if possible)
1 1/3 cups of semisweet chocolate chips

Butter and flour 2 large loaf pans or 3 smallish loaf pans. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. In a very large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, eggs, vegetable oil, sugar, and water and stir until well incorporated. Add in the ginger and vanilla extract and mix. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir until ingredients are just incorporated. Pour in the milk chocolate and dark chocolate chips and fold into the batter.

Divide the batter among the loaf pans. Put the loaf pans into the oven and cook for about one hour, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Remove bread from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Gently remove bread from pan and cut into desired sized pieces. Enjoy!

*Bread can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 5 days.

Recipe Adapted from: All Recipes - Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts & Sea Salt

It's funny, it doesn't even feel like Fall here right now. We have been in the 70s and 80s for the past week or so, and even though it's hot, all I want is pumpkin. I've been trying to stick to a diet of four main food groups -  pumpkin soup, pumpkin soda, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin cookies! I made these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies a couple weeks ago and enjoyed them thoroughly. I brought a plate of 8 cookies over to a friend and she said she and her father-in-law finished the plate in less than 30 minutes. She has been asking for the recipe, and I'm finally getting around to posting it! This week I also made a delicious pumpkin bread with chocolate chips for a staff breakfast. I liked it so much and didn't save any to keep at home for myself, so I think I'll have to make another loaf today. It will be my first time baking in my new General Electric oven, which was just delivered to my home and installed within the last 45 minutes! So exciting. Our fridge went out three weeks ago, and we ended up buying the new GE one, and we added the oven and microwave to the purchase. They are cute appliances. I never thought that appliances were cute before, but these really are. And I'm just really happy to have a fridge again - the mini fridge just doesn't cut it in my kitchen! So, hopefully I will be able to post the pumpkin bread recipe very soon, but for now, enjoy these cookies!

*These cookies are not as cakey as most pumpkin cookies, but they kind of have the consistency of a muffin, but crispier....if that makes any sense at all. But they are delicious, and that is all that matters*

Recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts and Sea Salt 

1 cup of canned pumpkin
1 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 egg (optional)*
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp. of baking powder
1 Tbsp. of ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. of ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tsp. of baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. of milk or cream
2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips (semisweet or milk chocolate)
1/2 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
Extra cinnamon, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the canned pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg (if using). Whisk together until ingredients are well incorporated. In a smallish bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. In a very small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the milk or cream and then add to the flour mixture and stir. Add the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture and stir well. Add in the vanilla extract, chocolate chips, and walnuts and fold in.

Use a cookie dough scoop to drop 1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp. of cookie dough onto a baking sheet. Press down each one with your hands a little to flatten.

Sprinkle each with a little bit of coarse sea salt and a little ground cinnamon (optional). Put baking sheet in the oven for 12 - 14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then use a spatula to carefully transfer cookies to a cooling wrack.

You can store the cookies on a plate covered with foil at room temperature for several days, if they last that long.

*You don't need to use an egg for these cookies. The cookies will be a little less moist without the egg. I prefer the recipe with the egg, Greg prefers it without the egg!

Pumpkin Cookie Recipe Adapted from: All Recipes