Saturday, November 27

Thanksgiving Dessert--My Contribution to the Family Dinner

The orange pie pumpkin was used for the cheesecake. 
The tan pumpkin was used in making pumpkin bread.
I still haven't decided what to make with the white pumpkin.


Baking Time For Thanksgiving

    Once Halloween passes, all thoughts turn to Thanksgiving. While I have only ever made one Thanksgiving dinner for just me and my hubby and baby (just one at the time), I do contribute to the larger family dinner. Usually my mother-in-law asks me which dessert I want to bring. I don't recall actually having brought a savory dish. Over the last couple years, I have made a Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake to contribute to dessert and with each success, I can't wait for the next year.
    After Halloween passed this year, my anticipation of the family Thanksgiving dinner grew. I couldn't wait to make the crowd pleasing Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake! This year I decided to make two: one for my mom and my step-dad and their dinner, and one for the dinner at my in-laws' house. Every year, however, I seem to forget how time-intensive cheesecake-making is. Making two wasn't any faster. Maybe next year it'll stick.
  
  Maple Pumpkin Cheesecakes
    *recipe has been adapted from the recipe found in Better Homes&Gardens New CookBook*
  
    First up, making the crusts. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Kyleigh helped me with the crushing up of the graham crackers. We put a little more than one package of graham crackers into a ziplock bag and Kyleigh smashed away with a small. pan. (Very therapeutic...and less expensive, too!) We were aiming for two cups of crushed graham crackers. We measured using the dry measuring cups, but put in the liquid cup to make it easier to picture. I melted half a cup of butter and measured out half a cup of granulated sugar. Add the crushed crackers and the sugar into the bowl of melted butter. Stir up well until all the sugar and crushed crackers have been mixed up with the melted butter. 
    Press the mixture into an ungreased spring-form pan about 1- to 1 1/2-inches up. Bake at 325 degrees F for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely.







    While the crust is baking then cooling, it is time to get to work on making the filling. Since I knew I had two to make, I adjusted the ingredients. I'm guessing I did something really right because this year got the best raves! (The original recipe can be found at the end of this post.) 

    Start with four 8 ounce packages of cream cheese. Beat the cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy. 
    Once the cream cheese is a smooth creamy consistency, add in two cups of pureed pumpkin, one cup packed brown sugar, 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon maple extract. Beat until well combined. 

    Once all ingredients have been incorporated, scrape off the beaters and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Fold in five whole eggs. Scrape down the edges of the bowl again.



    Gently pour the filling in to the crust. Pour only a little at a time so as not to go over the top of the crust. The recipe calls for the cheesecake to be baked in a shallow baking dish but I did not have one that the cheesecake pan would fit in. So I decided to bake it in the next larger sized spring-form pan that I have. There is also a water-bath option if you wanted to go that way.

    Bake at 325 degrees F for 60 to 70 minutes; until the center appears nearly set when gently shaken. 
    Cooling Phase1: Remove from oven and cool on wire racks (yeah, I don't have those either) for 15 minutes.
    Cooling Phase2: Run a small, sharp, thin knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen it a bit from the pan. Let cool another 30 minutes.
    Cooling Phase3: Remove edge of pan. Let cool another hour on the counter.
    Cooling Phase4: Before putting the cheesecake into the fridge, I like to replace the siding of the pan and cover with aluminum foil to protect it from anything and everything in the fridge. Keep the cheesecake in the fridge, not the freezer, for a minimum of four hours and up to twenty-four hours. 
    Slice it up and enjoy!

Original Recipe from Better Homes&Garden New CookBook
  1 1/2 c. finely crushed graham crackers
  1/3 c. granulated sugar
  1/3 c. butter, melted
  3-8oz packages cream cheese, softened
  1 c. pumpkin puree
  2/3 c. packed brown sugar
  1/4 c. maple syrup
  1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  3 eggs, slightly beaten

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium bowl combine finely crushed graham crackers, granulated sugar, and melted butter. Press crumb mixture onto the bottom and 1 1/2 inches up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch spring-form pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven. Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely.
    Meanwhile, for filling, in an extra large mixing bowl beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until smooth. Add pumpkin, brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Beat cream cheese mixture until well combined. Fold in eggs.
    Pour filling into crust-lined pan. Place spring-form pan in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until center appears nearly set when gently shaken.
    Cool in spring-form pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a small thin knife, loosen crust from sides of spring-form pan. Cool for 30 minutes more. Remove sides of spring-form pan; cool for 1 hour. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. To serve, spoon or drizzle caramel sauce over top of cheesecake.

Monday, November 22

Chocolate Crepes w/ Pumpkin Cream Cheese

    It's time for dinner again-- oh, what to make? I was craving breakfast but how to make it seem new and fresh? While looking through some cookbooks for last week's Super Food Friday, I discovered a recipe for chocolate crepes...why not give it a go? But what to fill it with? For Stuffed French Toast I whipped up a semi unsuccessful pumpkin cream cheese, so I decided to try again. Thanks to the help of my four-year-old, this one was on  the money!
    I have to admit, one of the reasons I love making crepes is because I enjoy watching my daughter's face when I flip it without using a spatula. And it is just something I have fun doing: flipping crepes in the air. :) And having crepes is an excellent excuse to eat chocolate and maple syrup for dinner! I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!


   Chocolate Crepes
     found in and adapted from Wonderful ways to prepare Crepes & Pancakes
3 eggs.
 

  Crepes
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp melted butter
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling.


  Filling
1 package cream cheese
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon





Beat eggs with milk.

    Beat the eggs, then add the milk and vanilla extract and mix well by hand or in an electric mixer.


    Sift the flour with the sugar and cocoa and slowly add to the egg and milk mixture.
Flour, sugar and cocoa.
    Stir in the melted butter and blend thoroughly.
    If mixing by hand, pour the batter through a strainer to remove any lumps. Set aside to whip up the filling.
    In a mixer, beat the cream cheese until soft and creamy. Add in the pumpkin and beat well. Beat in the powdered sugar and cinnamon. Set aside for when it's time to eat!
Eggs, milk, flour, sugar, & cocoa.
    Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, turn down to medium (about a 5 on a scale of 10). Pour 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of the batter (depending on the size of the pan) in the center of a hot, lightly greased pan. I poured my batter into a liquid measuring cup to make pouring easier and less messy--worked like a charm!
    Tip the pan in a circular motion to spread the batter around. Cook until the top is dry, then flip over and cook about 30 seconds.
Chocolate crepe batter.

Use cup to pour batter.
Cover the pan in a circular tipping motion.
Ready to be flipped.
The beautiful color of the done side after being flipped.
Chocolate crepes rolled with filling slathered in maple syrup.
  

    Looking for a dessert crepe instead? The next day I was craving something sweet and went hunting in through the kitchen. I found some leftover Maple Butter Frosting (yes, frosting) from the Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes and figured chocolate with a Maple Butter--how could I go wrong? Looking for a different dessert? This is it! Spread a decent layer of the frosting down the center, roll it up, and chomp away! Ya might want to have a glass of milk on hand. ;)
    Whichever way you go, enjoy it!




Saturday, November 20

Super Food Friday: Salmon & Tuna

   It's Friday again, and you know what that means! It's time for another super food! This week's super food for kids is fatty fish. The fatty fishes, like salmon, are a good source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats. These particular fats are also known to boost brain development, fend off depression, and have great anti-inflammatory powers. There is a concern to keep in mind when eating fish: mercury levels. With salmon, the levels of mercury are lower in the wild-caught fish. 




Now as this is being posted as a super food for kids, the recipes made for the kiddos will come first! (This may sound weird, but I like to add canned tuna to boxed macaroni & cheese and even tried canned salmon.)


Recipes from First Meals by Annabel Karmel
  Joy's fish pie 
  Rosti salmon cakes
  Tuna melt
  Honey & soy salmon skewers
  Penne with tuna, tomato & sweet corn
  Salmon teriyaki with noodles & bean sprouts
  Sticky salmon
  Salmon starfish
  Mini baked potatoes with tuna & sweet corn filling
  Pita pockets with tuna, eggs & tomatoes
  Tomato & tuna pasta sauce


Recipes from Wholesome Meals for Babies and Toddlers
  Salmon Fish Cakes
    serves 4
    12 oz salmon fillets, skinned and boned
    milk, for poaching
    1 lb 7 oz potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
    1 Tbsp tomato ketchup
    2 tsp Dijon mustard
    2 scallions, finely sliced
    all-purpose flour, for dusting
    corn or sunflower-seed oil, for pan-frying
    salt and pepper


    Put the salmon in a large, shallow pan and just cover with milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until just cooked. Lift out poaching milk. Let the salmon cool slightly, then flake the flesh into large chunks, removing any stray bones.
    Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in a large pan of water for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain, then return to the pan and mash with 2-3 tablespoons of the reserved poaching milk--you need a dry but lump-free mash. 
    Stir the ketchup, mustard, scallions, and half the salmon into the creamed potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix until well combined, then add the remaining salmon to the potato mixture, mixing gently to avoid breaking up the pieces of fish.
    Dust a large plate and your hands with flour and shape the mixture into 8 cakes, then lightly coat each cake in the flour. Put the fish cakes on a cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 30minutes to firm up.
    Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet generously. Cook the fish cakes, in batches, for 3 minutes on each side, or until crisp and golden. Keep the cooked fish cakes warm while cooking the remainder. Cut up into small pieces or mash for your child, depending on his or her age.
  Salmon & Broccoli Pasta
  Honey Salmon Kabobs




And now, recipes for the rest of the family.


Recipes from Rachael Ray's Book of 10
  Salmon Burgers with Caesar Slaw
  Salmon Burgers with Ginger-Wasabi Mayo and Sesame-Crusted French Fries
  Seared Tuna Steaks on White Beans with Grape Tomatoes and Garlic Chips
  Sweet Soy-Soaked Salmon Fillets Over Noodle-y Veggies
  Sauteed Salmon with Spicy Fresh Mango-Pineapple Chutney
  Italian Tuna Melts with White Beans and Provolone
  Ginger-Garlic Tuna Burgers on Cucumber Salad
  Tuna with Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink, Hold-the-Mayo, Stuffed Bread
    serves 4
    1 baguette or other crusty loaf (day-old is fine)
    1 1/2 cups (2 small cans) Italian tuna in oil, drained if packed in oil, thinly sliced
    1 15-ounce can artichoke hearts, whole or quartered, drained and chopped or sliced
    6 soft sun-dried tomatoes, dry or drained if packed in oil, thinly sliced
    A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley,chopped
    A handful of olives, any or all varieties are fine, chopped
    1/4 red onion, chopped or thinly sliced
    3 Tbsp capers or a couple of caper berries, drained and chopped
    2 cups arugula or other greens, chopped
    4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped, or a little anchovy paste (optional but recommended)
    A couple of sprigs of fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, tarragon, or basil-whichever you have-chopped
    Coarse black pepper
    Zest and juice of 1 lemon
    3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  
    Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. 
    Crisp the bread in the oven. Remove, split, and hollow out some of the soft insides.
    Place the tuna in a bowl and flake it with a fork. Add the remaining salad ingredients, dress with pepper, lemon zest and juice, and EVOO, and work the salad together with a rubber spatula. Overfill the bottom of the loaf, mounding the salad. Set the top in place and press down to set the creation. Cut into quarters. Wrap each sandwich in wax paper or paper towels at one end to limit dripping as you crunch and munch.
  Italian Tuna Casserole
  Lime-and-Honey Glazed Salmon with Warm Black Bean and Corn Salad
  Tuna Skewers with Orange and Rosemary on Bitter Greens Slaw
  Sweet Lemon Salmon with Mini Carrots and Dill
  Renaissance of Tuna Casserole
  Black Pepper and Coriander-Crusted Tuna with Potato Salad
  Poached Eggs on Potato, Spinach, and Smoked Salmon Salad
  
Recipes from Quick Fixes {with mixes}
  Tuna Nicoise Canapes
    makes about 3 dozen
    2 (5.5-oz) cans solid light tuna in olive oil, well-drained and flaked
    1/4 cup finely minced red onion
    3 Tbsp chopped kalamata or Niciose olives
    2 Tbsp capers, drained
    2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
    2 tsp Dijon mustard
    2 tsp balsamic vinegar
    1/4 to 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
    1/8 tsp kosher salt
    Cucumber slices or endive leaves


    Combine first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl. To serve , spoon tuna mixture onto cucumber slices or endive leaves.


Recipes from Classic Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals, The All-Occasion Cookbook
  Rachael's Tuna Pan Bagnat
  Elsa's Sliced Roast Salmon
  Smoked Salmon Rounds
  Baglio Della Luna Marinara
    makes 4 servings
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    1 lb penne
    3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (evoo)(3 times around the pan)
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    3 pinches crushed red pepper
    2 cans (6 ounces each) Italian tune in oil, drained or 2 cans (6 ounces each) Albacore tuna, drained
    1 cup dry red wine (a few good glugs)
    1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
    1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes
    16 to 20 oil-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped 
    2 Tbsp capers, smashed with flat of knife
    A handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped


    Put a large pot of water over high heat for the pasta. When water boils, add salt and penne. Cook according to package directions, until al dente. Drain.
    In a deep skillet, heat evoo, garlic, and crushed red pepper over  medium heat until garlic sizzles. Add tuna and saute 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, and reduce liquid by half. Add crushed tomatoes, olives, capers, parsley, and a few grinds of black pepper. Bring to a bubble, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. 
    Toss pasta in two-thirds of sauce and transfer to platter. Serve with remaining sauce for passing, along with salad and bread.
  Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon
  Grilled Rosemary Tuna Steaks with Eggplant and Zucchini Salsa
  Salmon with Champagne-Vanilla Sauce




These are some good recipes for a brunch.


Recipes from Wonderful ways to prepare Crepes & Pancakes
  Salmon Crepes with Lemon Sauce
    serves 6
    18 crepes
    2 lb canned salmon
    1 medium onion, chopped 
    1 cup chopped celery
    2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
    1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
    1 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp black pepper
   Lemon Sauce
    1 cup cream
    3/4 lb cream cheese
    2/3 cup lemon juice
    2/3 cup melted butter
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    chopped parsley


    Make the crepes using a basic crepe recipe. Set aside.
    Drain the salmon and break up.
    Mix the salmon with the onion, celery, eggs, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Set aside.
    In the top of a double boiler whip the cream.
    Place over simmering water and add the diced cream cheese, lemon juice, butter, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir until smooth and thick.
    Pour about 2/3 cup of the sauce into the salmon mixture.
    Fill the crepes with the salmon mixture. Fold over and place in a buttered shallow baking dish.
    Pour on the remaining sauce and bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes.
    Serve immediately sprinkled with chopped parsley.
  Salmon Crepes
  Tuna Fish Crepes with White Sauce


  I have enjoyed researching the salmon super food and I truly hope that you all enjoy trying them out!

Wednesday, November 17

Stuffed French Toast w/ Pumpkin Cream Cheese

    For awhile, I've been wanting to make some sort of stuffed french toast for dinner but something always came up which put that out of the question. On Monday I decided "to heck with it" and just did it. I had pureed pumpkin already waiting for me in the fridge.
     I creamed together 3/4 cup of the pureed pumpkin with 8 ounces of cream cheese along with some cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice (my favorite spices to use with pumpkin!). 

     I love using Texas Toast when I make french toast because of its thickness-- the slices are 1 inch thick! Great for french toast, and even better for stuffed french toast! After making the filling, I sliced a pocket in the slices of bread with a knife and left about 1/4-inch around the other three sides.
     Then, using a spatula, I filled the 'pockets' with the pumpkin cream cheese. I then dunked the stuffed bread slices into the egg mixture (5 eggs whisked with a little milk, cinnamon, and melted butter); one side, then the other. 
    Then they went into an already hot pan--after it gets hot, put the heat to medium so that the outsides won't burn before warming the inside. The girls were pretty hungry so I couldn't get a good picture before they were inhaled, but you are aiming for a nice even brown. Mine are a little uneven, but like I said, I had to hungry girls not concerned with even browning--just french toast with butter and maple syrup!
  
    If you give this a go, I really hope you enjoy them! I will use any excuse possible to eat chocolate, so of course I slathered some Nutella on mine then topped with maple syrup--I highly recommend this! My hubby likes giving them a good layering of butter then sifting some powdered sugar on top. The melted butter mixes with the powdered sugar for a pretty sweet topping to any piece of french toast, pancake, or waffle!

Tuesday, November 16

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I am super excited about my baking prospects for the week! My mother-in-law brought back some wonderful goodies from her trip to New York: cinnamon drops (front center), holly and berries sprinkles (left), snowflake sprinkles (back center), gingerbread sprinkles (right). My plans for the sprinkles are to make sugar cookies! Yum! The cinnamon drops are to be used for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies! I didn't have a chance to post this Monday, but my four year old and I did make them yesterday. The cookies turned out irresistible!
If you are in the Binghamton, New York area you can find these wonderful decorations at Apple Hills



Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cup old fashioned rolled oats, uncooked
1 cup raisins
1/2 cinnamon drops (mini chips)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets and set aside.
    In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
    Beat together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well.
    Add flour mixture and beat until combined. 
    Stir in the oats, raisins, and cinnamon drops.
    Drop by rounded tablespoons onto the greased cookie sheets.
    Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-14 minutes for larger cookies, and 10-12 minutes for smaller. Let sit on the sheet for about 10 minutes. Then remove to wire racks. Enjoy!



Friday, November 12

Super Food Friday: Cinnamon

Dinner



  • Having a Mexican food night? Try adding ground cinnamon to the black beans to be used in burritos, tacos or nachos. It'll give your food a unique twist!
  • Let's go with a healthy comfort food. Make your own Pumpkin Mac n' Cheese and add cinnamon!
  • Since it's fall with cool nights, make a nice Pumpkin Soup and add a nice dose of cinnamon for an extra warming sensation!

I've run into a cooker's block. So do any of you have dinner recipes that you could add cinnamon to? 

Super Food Friday: Cinnamon

    We've all used it in baking, especially lately with the pumpkin craze. And why not? It adds a nice taste. But what if I told you that some research considers it to be a super food? And not just a super food, but a super food for kids! 
    There is research that shows cinnamon helps to regulate blood sugar. How does this relate to the kiddos? Does the phrase 'mid-morning meltdown' ring any bells? By finding ways to spice up their breakfast, it could help to avoid any mid-morning energy crashes which often translate into meltdowns. 
    A study was also done proving the effects of simply smelling cinnamon. The cinnamon aroma boosts cognitive function and memory. Cinnamon is also a good source manganese, dietary fiber, iron and calcium. These are simply the benefits for children--there are plenty more that will be explored when we do the Super Foods for adults. 


Breakfast


  • Try sprinkling it over cold cereal. I decided to sprinkle it over plain Cheerios with some honey for my toddler-- to simulate Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, minus the extra sugar! For my preschooler, I sprinkled cinnamon over her Rice Chex with a little honey-- this to simulate the Cinnamon Toast Crunch she is allowed only on the weekends, minus the extra sugar! 
  • Add cinnamon to your morning oatmeal. Why not add in raisins (or dried fruit of your choice) and a little brown sugar? Yum!
  • Having pancakes for breakfast? Add cinnamon to the batter! Or make a buttery cinnamon topping!
  • Add to plain yogurt.
  • Cinnamon would be a good addition to your granola too!
  • If you are having french toast, add cinnamon to the eggs! I don't think I've ever made it without adding lots of cinnamon! It makes it delicious!
What do you have for breakfast? Any other ideas where cinnamon could be added?




*Note: As with all things, the key is moderation. Too much of a good thing can still turn out with harmful effects. Please don't go overboard with the cinnamon and overindulge! Remember folks, moderation.

Thursday, November 11

Super Food Friday

The theme for the upcoming 'Super Food Fridays': Super Foods for Kids

    When it comes to our children, we only want the best. They definitely don't make it easy on us and we bump heads on an almost-regular basis. Among others, one of the struggles that often stands out is when it comes to eating. I can remember wanting the sweet stuff, or what we as kids called "the good stuff". I grew up in a house devoid of a lot of sugary...well, anything. I was often teased for being the only kid in the cafeteria with whole wheat bread, milk in my thermos, and bananas in my peanut butter and jellies. On the other hand, thanks to my nutritionally aware parents, I developed a taste for the healthier foods. While I now enjoy not only the taste but also the satisfied feeling that comes with eating whole wheat bread, my husband does not. So we've made little compromises here and there. We eat white wheat bread and lean ground turkey (in place of ground beef). But I want to know which foods pack the most punch to insure my girls are eating the best they can...or what I can get them to eat.
    Each Friday will feature a new super food and my cooking that day will be centered on that particular food. A lot of websites have a '10 Best Foods for Kids' list. What is funny is how some don't overlap at all. So instead of comparing these lists, I'm not going to limit myself with a number. I will instead combine them for a master list! I will share my recipes and findings and I hope you will share your recipes too!



  • Blueberries/Berries
  • Tofu (this has contradictory findings)
  • Tomatoes
  • Low-Fat Greek Yogurt
  • Cabbage
  • Salmon/Tuna Fish/Fatty Fish
  • Cocoa (am I ever excited about this one!)
  • Black Beans
  • Basil
  • Cinnamon
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Whole Grains
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Beef
  • Chickpeas

Sources:
EHow.com (this correlates with Parenting.com)

Monday, November 8

Monday-- Taking a Look at the Week Ahead

    I was sitting here thinking about planning out the meals for the week ahead. It's been quite some time since I last planned out meals. It used to be a regular thing where I would plan out two weeks worth of meals, do the shopping for said meals, and that would be that. When I felt like I was getting in a funk with dinners, I'd look in my notebook full of recipes and check out lots of cookbooks from the library. I've since started watching Food Network, Rachael Ray, and such. I like going into the kitchen at five o'clock armed not with a recipe, but simply with an idea-- an idea of what I want to include in the dinner. So when I sat down to try and do some planning, I decided to do it a little different. I've decided to simply map out what to use each day, instead of recipes to use.
    
    Monday - What will transpire? 
chicken
apples 
rice

    A Look Ahead
Texas toast for stuffed french toast!

What do you do when it comes to dinner planning? Or is there any planning at all?

Thursday, November 4

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Butter Icing

    I had some pureed pumpkin left in the fridge from Halloween and I wanted to bake with it. So yesterday after her non-nap, Kyleigh and I baked cupcakes! I can't remember the last time I made cupcakes... ::pauses to think:: I don't know that I have ever made cupcakes before. If I did it was only once and quite a long time ago. Anyway, we made Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Butter Icing. Woo hoo! These are sin-sational! Absolutely irresistible! Scrumptious! Divine! You can't have just one! Believe me, I tried. I had to take a lot of pictures of the girls to keep my hands from grabbing another one. :)


Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Butter Icing

3 c. flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 c. sugar
1 3/4 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. butter, melted
5 eggs

Maple Butter Icing
6 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp maple extract
1/3 c. milk
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the muffin pans with paper cups.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and spices. Set aside.
In another mixing bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, butter and eggs. Using a whisk, mix well. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture.
Stir just until the everything is incorporated.
Divide evenly among the lined cups, filling about two-thirds of the way. (I used a quarter-cup measuring cup and rubber spatula to help keep it even.) Bake for 15-20 minutes; until a toothpick, or knife, comes clean out of the center of the cakes. Turn cupcakes out to wire racks to cool.

While the cupcakes are baking, it's time to make the icing!


Start with three cups of the powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. Add in the extract, milk, butter, nutmeg and cinnamon. To get it smooth, I like using a whisk (yes, again). Add an additional one cup of powdered sugar at a time until you get the consistency you like. I had to use six cups to get me desired consistency. 






Wait until the cupcakes are cooled completely, then ice away! And as always, enjoy!


My little helper.

We topped ours with Halloween sprinkles.


Betcha can't have just one!




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