Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Buttercream

Does it count as homemade if you use a cake mix? Yes.

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 C. canola oil
  • 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 1/2 t. ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. ground cloves
  • 1 lb. very soft cream cheese
  • 1 stick of very soft butter
  • 3 1/2 to 4 C. powdered sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1- 3 t. milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 24-cup cupcake tin with paper liners and spray it with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, oil, pumpkin, 1 t. of the cinnamon, the nutmeg, and the cloves. Mix for two minutes with a hand mixer until smooth. Spoon into the cupcake liners, dividing the batter equally among the 24 cups. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cakes spring back when pressed gently with a finger. Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully.

To make the buttercream, make sure the cream cheese and butter are truly soft- leave them out on the counter for several hours. Combine the cream cheese, butter, the remaining cinnamon, 3 cups of powdered sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Mix until smooth. If the frosting is too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar- 1/4 C. at a time. If it’s too thick, add a t. of milk at a time. Mix well, until smooth and fluffy. Spread generously on top of your cooled cakes.

I like to use this gadget: Tupperware Squeeze It Decorator. This isn’t sponsored, I just like the ease and speed of it for decorating things like cupcakes.

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Fresh Peach Cake

This is the perfect end to a summer meal. The cake is buttery and not too sweet, the peaches add a tart, juicy tang. This makes one 9-inch round cake, but the recipe is easily doubled if you want to get more servings, just use two pans and split the batter between them. This is perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of freshly whipped cream. Serves 8

  • 1 stick salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2/3 C. granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 t. almond extract
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C. milk plus 3 tablespoons
  • 2 large peaches, peeled (I use the boiling water method to peel)

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter the cake pan generously and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until it’s well mixed and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in the eggs and the extracts. Add the baking soda and salt. Add the flour a little at a time, and alternate with the milk until both the flour and milk are all incorporated. Beat until the batter is nice and smooth. The batter will be pretty thick. Scrape it into the prepared baking pan. Slice the peaches into about five or six slices each. Arrange the peaches however you like. Press the slices slightly into the batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Some crumbs attached to the toothpick are ok, that means the cake will not be dry. Allow the cake to cool completely before serving. I don’t frost this cake because it’s just too pretty to cover it up. It’s awesome with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Almost Instant Strawberry Sorbet

Can’t wait for strawberry season!

swellkid

Sorry California, your strawberries will never produce this color on their own! Sorry California, your strawberries will never produce this color on their own!

This went from whole berries to soft-serve in about 20 minutes.  When the local Oregon strawberries come into town I always buy too many and then they sit in the fridge and after a couple of days begin to wrinkle.  That is the perfect time to make this sorbet!  The berries are cold out of the fridge and they are nice and soft.  If you let them sit in the fridge for one more day they will be compost, so make this! 
  • 2 pints of cold, very ripe strawberries
  • 1/4-1/2 C. sugar, depending on your taste and how sweet your berries are
  • 1/4-1/2 C. cold water

Place the berries, 1/4 C. sugar and 1/4 C. water into the blender and puree.  Some blenders are better than others, so you may need to add a bit more water to…

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Turkey Croquettes

This time I added a little chopped fresh parsley, and 1/2 C. of leftover gravy. So yummy!

swellkid

What can I do with all this leftover turkey and stuffing?  Turn them into these crisp, satisfying croquettes!

  • 2 C. diced, cooked turkey
  • 2 C. leftover stuffing click here for recipe
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 C. cooked peas or other veggie
  • 1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
  • chicken broth if needed
  • 1 T. olive oil

In a bowl combine the turkey, stuffing, eggs, salt and pepper, cheese, and peas.  Use your hands to combine the mixture and form it into patties- if the mixture is too dry add a little chicken broth as needed to get it to hold together.  Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet on medium heat.  Working in batches, cook the croquettes in the hot oil until they are golden brown on each side, about three minutes per side.  Keep them warm in a low oven on a paper towel- lined plate.

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S’Mores Ice Cream

Graham cracker infused ice cream with mini-marshmallows and milk chocolate bits. The ice cream base recipe is loosely based on Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar recipe for graham ice cream. I love an ice cream recipe that doesn’t involve tempering eggs! The gelatin gives the ice cream smoothness and keeps it from crystalizing. Vegetarians could substitute agar powder (but follow package directions for dissolving). Makes 1 pint.

1 C. graham cracker crumbs

3/4 C. powdered milk, divided

1/2 C. sugar, divided

1/2 t. salt

1 C. milk

2 t. powdered gelatin (or agar)

3/4 C. heavy cream

2 T. light corn syrup

1/2 t. vanilla

1 C. mini-marshmallows

1/3-1/2 C. chopped milk chocolate, or mini milk chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 C. of the powdered milk, 2 T. of the sugar, and a pinch of salt. Pour the milk over the crumbs and stir to combine. Let the crumbs steep in the milk for 20 minutes. Strain the steeped milk through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on the solids to release as much of the liquid as you can. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bloom the gelatin: Put two tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin powder over it. Let it sit for about three minutes. The gelatin powder will turn into a wiggly jelly. Now dissolve it into a liquid by stirring in 2 teaspoons of hot water.

In a medium bowl, combine the strained graham cracker milk, the heavy cream, the corn syrup, the rest of the sugar, salt, and the rest of the milk powder. Whisk in the dissolved gelatin and the vanilla. You can hand whisk this, or use a hand mixer or immersion blender to make quick work of it. You want the sugar to be completely dissolved. If the mixture is still fairly cold it’s ready to pour into the ice cream maker. If not, let it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Pour it into an ice cream maker and churn for about 30 minutes. Add the marshmallows and chocolate and let the machine churn them in. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until solid, about three hours.

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Fresh Raspberry Sherbet

Easy as can be and just four ingredients! No cooking, and no eggs either!

What is sherbet? If it doesn’t have dairy it’s sorbet. If it has milk in it it’s sherbet. If it has cream, then it’s ice cream! I like to use half and half for this, but you could easily swap it out for milk. I haven’t tried this with a non-dairy milk, but I imagine it would be just as tasty.

24 oz. fresh raspberries, about four cups

1 1/2 C. half and half (you could use all milk, or all cream if you prefer)

3/4 C. sugar

2 t. fresh lemon juice

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture with a mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Chill the mixture in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn for 25-35 minutes. Transfer the sherbet into an airtight container and freeze until firm, about 3 hours. Makes about 1 quart.

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Fresh Pineapple Upside Down Cake

swellkid

I thought that canned pineapple was the best way to make a pineapple upside down cake.  That’s how everyone does it right?  I guess I thought fresh pineapple would be too tough, or just too much work.  It was so much better!  The texture was perfect and the fresh pineapple flavor really came through. The recipe came from Martha Stewart, but I made a few changes to suit the ingredients I had on hand.

  • 1 pineapple (I used about 3/4 of it)
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • Vanilla ice cream

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Peel the pineapple and cut off one end to form a flat base.  Cut down…

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Winter Sunshine

Winter blues are banished by this bright and cheery cocktail! Makes one, but it’s easy to double. I planted mint in my garden several years ago and it never completely dies down in the winter. The leaves are a bit tough at this time of year, but they are great for flavoring and scenting cocktails or for making simple syrup.

  • A few sprigs of fresh mint.
  • ice
  • 1.5 oz. Vodka
  • 1 oz. St-Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • Club soda or seltzer, mine was orange flavored, but plain or any other citrus would work.
  • lime, cut into wedges

Place the mint leaves and about a cup of ice into a large glass. Muddle the leaves and ice until the leaves are broken up into bits. Pour in the vodka, the St-Germain, and the pineapple juice. Stir vigorously. Strain into a clean glass filled with ice. Top with a splash of club soda and a squeeze of fresh lime. Garnish with mint leaves and a lime wedge.

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Turkey Curry: Your Personal Stash of Stouffer’s

I roast two turkeys every year. One for Thanksgiving, or sometimes Friendsgiving, and one for leftovers. I love to use up leftover turkey in different ways. This year I channeled Bridget Jones’ Turkey Curry Buffet. Remember the Christmas Jumper?

If you’re feeling especially motivated to make some freezer meals, check out this post: 1 Turkey, 15 Freezer Meals for 4 in 4 Hours. If you just have a bit of leftover turkey and stuffing, these Turkey Croquettes are really nice too! If you’re craving a creamy turkey casserole a’la 1985 then look no further than this Creamy Turkey Macaroni Bake.

This turkey curry recipe is very similar to my Chickpea Masala recipe, substituting roasted leftover turkey for the canned chickpeas. Check that one out for a great vegetarian take on this- and it will freeze equally well.

Ingredients:

  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into to or three pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 large shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 2 T. water
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. ground coriander
  • 4 t. ground cumin
  • 2 t. ground turmeric
  • 1/2 t. of cinnamon
  • 2 15 oz. cans plain tomato sauce- I like to use Hunts
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 6 C. leftover roasted turkey or chicken, shredded or cut into bite sized pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cilantro to garnish

Puree the ginger, garlic, and shallot with the water until smooth. I use my smoothie maker for this, but you could use a food processor or blender. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Scrape the ginger puree into the heated oil and stir to cook until the mixture starts to brown, about three minutes.  Quickly add the spices and stir for one minute more. Pour in the tomato sauce and the coconut milk. Stir to combine.  Be sure to scrape up all the brown bits in the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to low. Add the turkey pieces and stir to coat in the sauce. Cover and simmer for about thirty minutes. Season to taste. Serve over the rice with a garnish of cilantro.

To stock my freezer with frozen lunches, I use these cool bento-style lunch boxes from easylunchboxes.com. I bought these back in the old days when my kids actually left the house for school. They are great for the freezer and you can microwave them as well. This isn’t a sponsored ad, I just like them! I also used frozen rice from Trader Joe’s – it’s a favorite product of mine and I keep several boxes of it in my freezer at all times. I just portioned out the frozen rice and curry into the boxes and they are ready to go right into the freezer for a Stouffer’s style lunch later on.

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Holiday Cookies and Candies

swellkid

I haven’t had the time in the last two years to post many new recipes. My job as an elementary school teacher and my second job as a mom of two makes it pretty tough to carve our the time to create and test new recipes.  We are pretty much just eating a lot of tacos and spaghetti.

My favorite thing about having a food blog is that I have this giant archive of all of our favorite family recipes that I can go back to and search and revisit. Even if I don’t post anything new, I still use it all the time to make our favorite dishes.  At this time of year I use it for all of our favorite holiday treats.  Here is a list of my best cookies and candies for you and your family to enjoy!  Merry Christmas!

Chewy, Crisp, Gingery Mollasses cookies: 

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Sicilian Almond…

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