Monday, November 25, 2013

Pumpkin Apple Spice Cake

'Tis the pumpkin season! If you hadn't noticed by now from all the pumpkin flavored whatnot - lattes, candy, even body butter. Thankfully, while my love of pumpkin is isn't over the top. For instance, just a few weeks ago I embarked upon a Pumpkin Apple Spice Cake recipe of delicious wonder, mainly because I had a batch of spice buttercream frosting to use up before it went bad (or more importantly, before I ate it all). 
Sadly, I don't have any pictures of the finished cake this time. Bad panda, I know. We ate it too quickly! That should be a testament to just how delicious this recipe is. I would likely add some slightly toasted walnuts, were I to do this one again, or maybe a coating of crushed nuts on the perimeter of the cake. Mmmm...walnuts and spice frosting. See, this is exactly why I had to get that frosting out of my house! And with that I instruct you all to go forth, be prosperous, and make use of those holiday leftovers after this coming weekend. 
To make up for my lack of baked good beauty, here is a collection of cakes from this past year. Whew, 2013 was definitely the year of bigger, better cakes in my kitchen! Maybe I should try an ombre cake next??
And another collection of various baked goods from the past few months. All this cold weather has me thinking of trying out new territory - chicken and waffles! 
And of course, one of my little helpers. The ever inquisitive Zip, a.k.a. my shadow. The one who keeps me on my toes and gives me a reason to always clean up after myself. She'll be waiting for Thanksgiving Day madness...mainly for the scraps. Happy holidays!

Pumpkin Apple Spice Cake
Adapted from: Je suis alimentageuse
  • 2/3 cup butter, room temp.
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin purée
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • Pinch of clove, ground
  • Pinch of nutmeg, ground
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or other milk)
  • 2-3 cups of your favorite frosting
Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and smooth.

Add in pumpkin purée, applesauce, and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.

Sift in pumpkin spice and other spices, baking powder, flour and salt and mix, gradually adding almond milk until you get a thin yet viscous batter.

Divide the batter between two greased and lined 8" cake pans. Or if making cupcakes, fill each cup with a cupcake liner and then 2/3 full with batter.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, check to see if the cake is done by poking the middle of the cake with a cake tester or toothpick. It should come out either with moist crumbs sticking to it, or clean.

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After about 5 minutes, remove the cakes from the pan and let them rest on the wire rack.

Allow cakes to fully cool before frosting. Frost with your favorite buttercream frosting. Store in the fridge for up to a few days.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mishmash Pot Pie

Have you ever had one of those mornings where you wake up, stumble into the kitchen to make yourself a cup of coffee, only to open the fridge and realize you've likely lost the Lindbergh baby in the recesses of it somewhere? Leftovers galore! Tupperware container upon tupperware container, piled several high. Yeah, I have those often. Welcome to my life. And to combat those pesky leftovers, I often try to repurpose as many things as I can into another dish. This week - mishmash pot pie.
Finger licking goodness here! Earlier in the week I'd found some pre-made pie crusts on sale at the local grocery store and in combination with my insane amount of various leftovers and aging vegetables, I made myself some comfort food. This time around, I made it vegetarian (as I have been toying with going back on the veg-wagon thanks to the way the USDA is going to start 'harvesting' poultry). I had some frozen veggies to use up (lima beans, peas, corn) along with some soon-to-expire potatoes, carrots, and other fresh vegetables. The sky's the limit here! My rule of thumb is to use what is expiring first and build from that.
So far, I haven't found a way to screw up this recipe. It has plenty of room for oopsies and odd flavor combos. Definitely a keep for a lazy Sunday. Enjoy!

Mishmash Pot Pie

  • 2 defrosted pie crusts
  • Various leftovers - veggies, chicken, etc. 
  • Gravy or flavored butter or chicken stock
  • 1-2 tbsp cornstarch or flour
  • Salt and pepper, herbs to your liking 

Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Take one of the pie crusts and lay it out in a pie pan if it didn't come in one. Make sure to gently press it down around the base of the pan, and pinch over the rim of the pie pan (make little thumbprint indentations for a crust design).

Saute the veggies in a little oil or butter, starting with the ones that take longer: onion, garlic, mushrooms, thicker stalked veggies. Saute until just al dente. White wine and/or chicken stock usually adds some good flavor!

Depending upon how much moisture has accumulated while sauteing, mix in a little bit of cornstarch or flour. I recommend mixing it into a tiny bit of liquid first and then into the frying pan. If you have any gravy on hand, use that (mmmm, good). Feel free to add herbs, salt and pepper, or other flavorings as you like.

Once the veggies are ready, gently pour them into the prepared pie pan. Spread everything out so the layer is even, and lay the other pie crust over the top. Trim off the excess and gently press the crusts together to form a seam. Make sure to slice a few slits in the top so the pie can breathe as it bakes.

Bake the pot pie for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let the pot pie cool and then serve.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

More Biscuits, Please

One thing I am most certain of in this that there aren't enough biscuits. Seriously. When was the last time you had a homemade, flaky, delicious little biscuit? For me, it was this morning. And hot damn, is my life better because of it. Yes, I am a firm believer in that we need more biscuits in our lives. They go with everything, have a wide range of flavor options, and are pretty hard to screw up. That's winning in my book! Therefore, I took it upon myself to test out yet another biscuit recipe and see just truthful the claim that biscuits taste better with buttermilk.
This one I borrowed from Joy of Baking (awesome in all things baking). Mainly because I was out of buttermilk, and biscuits had been specifically requested as a component of this morning's meal. I have to admit - the buttermilk makes a big difference. While these were amazing in their own right, a little denser, with just a hit of crispy to the edges, my usual buttermilk biscuits are just a wee bit better (I believe because they are flakier). One tweak I made this time, again because I was limited by what was in the cupboards, was the use of Kerry Irish Butter in place of plain ol' fashioned butter. A little bit of Irish seemed to make it tastier to me!
And in other news, I've been up and around more (the knee injury seems to nearly be behind me) and taking in the beautiful colors of fall. Outside of a few special places, the Western North Carolina fall season is one of the loveliest I've had the pleasure of experiencing. Just check out these trees?!?!
It's like Bob Ross has been hanging out in the local woods, painting a little color into the forest to perk folks up a bit. Mind-blowingly beautiful! Definitely more inspiration to make transportable food so I can make like John Muir or Henry Thoreau and contemplate my navel in the backcountry. Enjoy the season!

Good Ol' Biscuits

Borrowed From: Joy of Baking
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (use pastry blender, two knives, or fingertips). Add the milk and slightly beaten egg and stir until just combined. (The texture should be sticky, moist and lumpy.)

Place mixture on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough gently until it comes together and is a smooth dough.

Roll out dough to about a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out biscuits with a lightly floured round cookie cutter. Place on prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with the beaten egg and milk mixture and bake for about 10 -15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the biscuit comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Serve warm with butter.

Makes about 10 - 2 1/2 inch biscuits.