Monday, November 26, 2012

Better than Pumpkin Pie

And believe me when I tell you I LOVE pumpkin pie! But, I am the only one in my house who does so usually half of the pie gets thrown out and then I overindulge in the left over cool whip. So this year, I decided to try something different... and they were a HIT!

Of course there are hundreds of pumpkin something or other recipes on pinterest, but I picked this one.  The pin led me to Mama B's Blog with the simplest, most delicious cupcake I have ever made.

Ingredients:
  • Cake mix of choice (I used a spice cake mix but I imagine any flavor would work. - I wonder if a white cake would pull out the pumpkin flavor more. Hmmm...)
  • 1-15 oz can of Pumpkin Puree
Frosting:
  • 1 package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup of butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
Mix the cake mix and the pumpkin puree in a stand mixer. Fill your muffin tin holders 3/4 of the way full with the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool completely while making your frosting.

For the frosting: mix all of the ingredients together until fluffy and frost your cooled cupcakes!

 The frosting is key. After baking the first batch (I made two so K could take some to work for her pot luck), of course I needed to taste test the cupcake to make sure it wasn't poisoned. I was actually a little concerned because it wasn't that spectacular. In fact, it seemed kind of bland and left a weird after taste. But I continued on.

Before I even frosted the cupcakes, I "accidentally" got some on my finger so, of course I had to check that for poison too and OH EM GEE! It was so good I about dropped to my knees. (Ok, that's probably a little dramatic, but I have to get the point across that it was good.) My SIL thought it was so good, she wanted just a bowl of frosting, skip the cupcake. I'm telling you - it was good. Did I mention how good it was? ;o)

I scooped the frosting into a piping kit (which my piping skills leave something to be desired as you see in the picture above), and started frosting these little pieces of heaven. I was able to exercise some self control and wait until after we ate our Thanksgiving dinner to test it out and seriously, I don't think I will ever buy another pumpkin pie again in my life! It was ah-mazing!

A few tips -- The cupcake batter comes out unusually thick. I questioned it, but it just made the cupcake a little more dense than the average cupcake, which I think made it better. Some people on Mama B's Blog said they added a little water. I s'pose you could do that, but I don't recommend it - they were perfect without the water.

Like the professional cupcake bakers I watch on TV, I used an ice cream scooper to scoop the batter into the cups. The first batch I made, I did a whole scoop... it was fine, but they came out a little bumpy and more like muffins because they expanded so much when they cooked. After that I did about 3/4 of a scoop and they turned out perfect... I got 28 cupcakes total and probably could have gotten 32 if I would have done smaller scoops for the first batch.

Last, but not least, we stored our cupcakes in the fridge. Partly because I feel weird about leaving cream cheese based food out. I'm not sure what the rule is, but I would hate to cause all my taste testers food poisoning because I left a dairy product out too long. Also, that's typically how we store our cakes. I don't know why, but I think cake tastes better cold. 

I really hope you will partake in this awesome, super simple, delicious treat! I promise, you wont regret it. If your a little skeptical of the pumpkin... or the fact that there's only two ingredients in the cupcakes, fine... don't make the cupcakes that way, but do yourself a favor and make the frosting... slather it on anything.
P.S. I hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving and found yourselves realizing you had more than enough to be thankful for.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Apple Cheesecake Bars

I got the original recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything. She called hers Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars. I decided to leave the Carmel off my title because the first night K and I ate this, I forgot the caramel. The second night, I remembered the caramel but as I grabbed the jar of caramel off the counter, I realized that it wasn't caramel at all, but it was butterscotch sauce. So, technically my version didn't have any caramel at all.

Ingredients: 

Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
 
Apples:
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
 
Streusel Topping:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup caramel topping
 
Directions:
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
 
For the crust:
In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9×13 baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned. 
 
For the cheesecake filling:
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust. 
 
For the apples:
In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture. 
 For the streusel topping: 
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. I like to really combine it by using my clean hands to thoroughly combine the butter into the mixture.

Sprinkle Streusel topping over apples. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping and let cool. Serve cold and enjoy! Make 16 servings.


It's a lot of steps, but I think they're worth it. Next time I might use more apples, but it was delish just the way it was. I would make it again, for sure but it was waaaay too much for just me an K. It would have to be a dish I share in the future, or take to a gathering.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Crock Pot Taco Chili

Well, hello strangers! Have you missed me? I have missed you. 

I am still adjusting to my new job. I am used to having a lax work environment where I could just blog from work (on my breaks, of course. Psh.) and my new job is literally no internet, no email, no phones, etc while on the floor. I mean, I get it... we need our attention to be on saving lives, not surfing the net, but it's tough to find time to blog from home. And really, by "finding time" I mean finding the desire to want to take the time to turn on the computer, format pictures, down load pics and all the other fun stuff it takes to post a blog. Not to mention that I work from 9:45am to 8:00pm. I feel like my entire day is at work. I wake up, come home, eat dinner, unwind a bit by watching bad TV (since baseball is over GO GIANTS!!!!!!), and go to bed. Where is the time for blogging in there? ;o) 

Whatever, I am here now and that's what really matters. Just because I haven't been blogging, doesn't mean the projects have been lacking. One of the things I have been up to is making some chili. Taco Chili to be exact. It's a recipe I used to make all the time, but I haven't made it for a few years. 

Ingredients
  • 1lb ground beef (or turkey or fake meat/crumble) - browned and drained
  • 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can corn - undrained
  • 1 can black beans - undrained
  • 1 can kidney beans - undrained
  • 1 packet Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (I used the less sodium)
  • 1 small onion - chopped
  • Fritos (or any tortilla chip)
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
Directions
  • Combine all ingredients except shredded cheese, sour cream, and Fritos in slow cooker and give it a stir.
  • Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. 
  • Garnish individual servings with chips, cheese, and sour cream.
This is yummolicious! :o) Now if we could just convince the beautiful So Cal weather to take some time off so we can enjoy some cooler fall temps, we'll be perfect! :o)



That's all I have for you this round. I have other recipes and projects to share, but not today... probably not tomorrow... maybe this weekend. We'll see. Just be patient with me. Hopefully, I will get my groove back soon.