Somewhere along the lines we stop chasing after fancy things and realize that we get the most satisfaction and comfort out of the simple pleasures of life: spending time with family, reading a good book and… eating cupcakes.

It’s safe to say that during this time of the year everyone is a bit pumpkin crazy. I went to the store the other day to pick up canned pumpkin for these cupcakes and saw a sign that said “limit 4 cans per day.” Not only that but every coffee shop you turn to you find pumpkin lattes and cappuccinos and pastries. I laughed at first but then realized that I am proudly partaking in this craziness as well because quite frankly pumpkin is darn good.

I found the recipe for these cupcakes from one of my favorite blogs, Annie’s Eats. This cupcake is the ultimate pumpkin goodness, it has the perfect blend of spices that compliment the pumpkin flavor rather than overpowering it. And the cream cheese frosting is so very rich and creamy. It’s honestly one of the best frostings I have ever made. Overall it’s a great cupcake recipe to come back to again and again. Enjoy!

This recipe makes about 24-30 cupcakes.

Pumpkin Cupcakes Recipe (From Annie’s Eats)

  • 2 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves (I just used allspice)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350° and line your cupcake tray with paper liners.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt in a bowl.

In another medium sized bowl mix together the pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar and oil with an electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each one.  With the mixer on low add the sifted flour mixture until combined.

Fill the batter about three-quarters full in the cupcake liners.  Bake for about 18-20 minutes (until a toothpick inserted comes out clean).  Cool completely before you frost (about 10 minutes).

To make the frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 5 tbsp butter (room temperature)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar

First beat together the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until smooth this should take a few minutes. Then slowly add in the confectioners sugar until all of it is combined. Beat until the frosting is nice and smooth.

Decorate them however you’d like; I used chocolate sprinkles, walnuts, and crushed heath bar.

Martha’s Mac-n-Cheese!

October 18, 2010

It has been insane these past few weeks. Between school, work, home (and the million things in between) it’s been difficult to find time to gather any thoughts to write about. Luckily I’m getting better at managing my time and sorting out my thoughts. This saves you from reading about financial markets and saves me from writing a report for my economics class about a lasagna recipe :-)

Today I would like to share a recipe I tried a while back… some good ol’ macaroni and cheese! I’m not going to tell you that this is the best macaroni and cheese you will ever eat, but I will tell you that it’s pretty darn good. In fact this recipe is probably one of the most popular in the blogging world. If you search for the best mac-and-cheese recipe this one by Martha Stewart is bound to pop up. I had to find out what the hype was all about so I decided to make it and see.

I realized why this recipe is so popular: the sauce. The béchamel sauce of this recipe is what makes this dish “re-heatable”. In other words, you can re-heat this tomorrow and it will still be rich and creamy as when you first ate it. This is very uncommon for typical mac-and-cheese.

Also unlike other mac-and-cheese recipes, this one is not gritty and that is where the cheese plays its role. I never knew this until now but if you use regular cheddar it will cause your mac-and-cheese to be gritty but if you use white cheddar and white cheeses it will have a smoother texture.

However, this recipe is a bit time consuming. You have to make that béchamel sauce (which is basically a flour and milk white sauce) which requires a bit of labor but hey…haven’t you been wanting to make a “béchamel sauce” and be able to impress people with that fancy word?

The recipe itself makes enough for about 12 people so you might want to halve the recipe if you’re not feeding an army.

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • 6 slices white bread, cut into mini squares
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar
  • 2 cups grated gruyere
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni

Heat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 3 quart baking dish.

Boil macaroni following the package directions.

Toss the bread pieces with 2 tablespoons of butter and keep aside.

In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk.

Melt the other 6 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan then add flour and cook for 1 minute while stirring.

Whisk the hot milk into the flour mixture and cook until it becomes thick, while whisking.

Take the pan off the heat. Mix in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere

Stir macaroni into the cheese sauce.

Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish. Spread out the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere, also spread out the breadcrumbs over the top.

Bake until golden brown– about 30 minutes. Be sure to cool it before you serve to allow everything to set. Enjoy!

A Vegetarian Style Chili

October 6, 2010

Do you ever wonder how many things we make a mental note of throughout our lives? And we don’t exactly get back to half of those things due to our own laziness or maybe it’s just “memory overload.”

I tend to make notes of recipes that I want to make. Half of them I remember, half of that half I remember I’m too lazy to partake in the extensive labor to make the dish, and the rest of the half I manage to make happily :-)

For some reason I have wanted to make chili for the longest time. I figure its because of my love for soup-ish things.

After eating a bowl of the chili I made my brother says “this is a great vegetable stew”…. I guess what I made isn’t technically ‘chili’ because it’s vegetarian. But, I got the recipe from Simply Recipes and if they call it chili then I am calling it chili too.

The recipe is called spicy vegetarian chili and when I saw the picture of it I knew that it would be really good (seriously go look at it then come back you’ll see what I’m talking about.) The ingredients in this dish are very different from a typical chili making it healthier and so much more colorful. It has so many great vegetables in it; its a perfect “end of summer” kind of dish.

Like the recipe says, the level of spicy-ness is up to you. I put 1 jalepeno pepper and it ended up to be pretty darn spicy so I would recommend you put half of one. And start out with a teaspoon of chili powder not a tablespoon.

Vegetarian Chili (From Simply Recipes)

Yield: 8-10 servings

  • 2 medium eggplants cut into cubes
  • olive oil
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 medium zucchini chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1-2 jalaepno peppers seeded and diced (start out with half of 1)
  • a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 Tbsp chili powder (start out with a teaspoon)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • a 15 oz can of white beans (drained)
  • a 15 oz can of kidney beans (drained)
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • a teaspoon of sugar
  • handful of chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

First thing you need to do is roast the eggplants by putting them on a baking sheet, drizzling a few tablespoons of olive oil on them, covering it with foil and putting them in a 350° preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Next put a large soup pot on the stove and heat a few tablespoons of olive oil. Cook the onions in the olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a minute then add the bell peppers, zucchini, and jalapeno peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring every now and then.

Next, add the tomatoes, oregano, cumin, fennel seeds, and chili powder. Mix well. Add in the eggplant and stir carefully so you don’t mush them up, simmer for about 20 minutes with the lid on.

Finally, add in the white and kidney beans, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, cilantro, salt, pepper. Mix and simmer for 5 more minutes. Done! :-)