Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

 I think the best thing about fall is pumpkin- actually I know it is the best thing! I first made these whoopie pies about 3 years ago and never made them again because they were too addictive! The soft, moist texture of the cookie/cake is hinted with fall spice and the sweetness is matched perfectly with the slightly tangy cream cheese filling. I knew it was time for the hiatus to end so this pumpkin lover's birthday could be properly celebrated! These treats are perfect for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or even your office party :)

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
Makes about 2 dozen whoopie pies 
For Whoopie Pies-
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 3 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For Maple Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 2.5 - 3 cups powdered sugar (start with 2.5 and add more if you want it sweeter!)
  • 8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stickunsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup (I used grade A dark amber)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. 
    3. In a separate bowl, add the granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, oil, pumpkin puree, eggs and vanilla together and whisk until combined.
    4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until completely combined.
    5. Use a large spoon to drop a rounded, heaping tablespoon of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.
    6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until they look done and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. The cookies should be firm, but not overly so when touched. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely.
    7. To make the filling, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the cream cheese, maple syrup, and vanilla. Beat until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
    8. To assemble the whoopie pies: Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe or spoon the filling onto that half. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used.
    9. Store in a single layer if possible, but if not, use parchment paper between layers. 

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Cinnamon Sugar Donut Mini Muffins

     I am not sure what it is about donuts, but something about them always draws me to them. I think it is probably the pretty sprinkles and icing. I have always wanted to make them despite my deep dislike of all things deep fried. I tried once, and it was an utter failure (not to mention my whole house smelled like "fried"), and I vowed to never fry anything again. Then there are the baked donuts you can make, but they require a special pan that I just can't justify buying, at least not for now :) So, when I came across a recipe for donut muffins, I was sold. I think their name describes them perfectly as they really taste like a cross between a muffin and a cake donut! And I definitely suggest going for mini muffin size because then they are like little donut holes.
     Cinnamon Sugar Donut Mini Muffins (adapted from Very Culinary)
    Makes about 24-30 mini muffins
    For Muffins:
    • 3 cups all purpose flour
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
    • 2 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
    • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
    For Cinnamon Sugar Coating:
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour.
    2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and baking soda. 
    3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and buttermilk.
    4. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until just combined. Set mixer on low speed, and beat in one fourth of the dry ingredients. Then beat in one third of the milk mixture. Continue to alternate until all ingredients are incorporated, finishing with dry ingredients. Be careful not to over mix
    5.  Fill the prepared muffin cups with batter. Bake until lightly golden and firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove the muffins from the tin and let cool.
    6. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a ziploc bag. (I recommend gallon size, but quart would probably work). Once the muffins have cooled, brush each one with the melted butter.Then place a few muffins in the bag with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Shake well to coat the muffins. Repeat.

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Italian Sausage and Vegetables over Bulgur

    I have had a box of bulgur in my pantry for a very long time. Let's just say I have owned this box since I was in college...that's right, it was at least 4 years ago. So, when I came across Roni's recipe for Sausage and Vegetables over Bulgur, I knew that was exactly what I was going to make to finally get rid of the box! The only thing that backfired is that now I want to buy more of it. It is super healthy- high in fiber and protein, and it is a good source of iron and B vitamins. What more could you ask for? I basically love anything that has a marinara or tomato type sauce, and this one was no exception. The sausage with the peppers, onions and green beans go really well together making it a very warm and comforting meal. It also comes together easily and is perfect for weeknight meal. I loved the bulgur in this recipe, but you could also substitute a whole wheat pasta if you want.
    Italian Sausage and Vegetables over Bulgur (adapted from Green Lite Bites)
    Serves 4
    • 1 cup of dry bulgur
    • 1 sweet onion, large diced
    • 1 package of Spicy Italian Turkey Sausage cut in pieces
    • 2 Bell peppers (I used one red and one green), sliced
    • About 1 cup of  frozen green beans, thawed
    • 1 15oz can of tomato sauce
    • 1 tsp dried basil
    1. Cook bulgur according to directions on package.
    2.  While the bulgur is cooking, spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Start to cook the onion and peppers over medium high heat. Add the sausage and brown it. Then add the green beans.
    3. Cook for 1-2 minutes and add the can of sauce plus about 1/4 can of water.
    4.  Sprinkle with basil and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes allowing the flavors to merge.
    5. Once the bulgur is done, scoop  it into bowls and top with vegetable tomato sauce. 

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Peach Upsidedown Cake

    I made this cake a few weeks ago- just in time to catch the end of peach season. This recipe was a great way to bake with peaches because they are the star of the cake so their natural deliciousness doesn't get lost! The cake had a great texture. It was moist with a good crumb and a light cinnamon flavor without being overly sweet. Now I know peach season is over so you may be wondering why I am giving you this recipe now. I promise it's not just to torture you! The original recipe from Dorie Greenspan (which can be found here) uses cranberries, which is the perfect fall and winter fruit!
     Peach Upsidedown Cake (adapted from The Crumbly Cookie)
    Recipe is for 9" round pan. I halved it and baked in 6" round pan. 
    •  2 peaches
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 3/4 cups sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/3 cup 2% milk
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Spray round cake pay with nonstick baking spray with flour.
    3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
    4. In a small sauce pan, melt 6 Tbsp butter. Stir in 1/4 cup sugar and cook stirring constantly until it comes to a boil. Pour evenly into cake pan.
    5. Arrange peach slices in cake pan with sugar in whatever pattern you want so they cover bottom of pan. Set aside.
    6. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
    7. In another bowl, beat the remaining stick of butter with a hand or stand mixer until smooth.
    8. Add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until smooth and creamy. 
    9. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Stir in the vanilla. 
    10. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the flour mixture. Stir to combine. Add the milk followed by the rest of the dry ingredients. 
    11. Spoon the batter over the peaches and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
    12. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted and comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Run a blunt knife between the sides of the pan and the cake. Carefully turn the cake out onto a serving platter.
    13. Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with ice cream if desired.

      Saturday, October 9, 2010

      Chili Spiced Chickpeas

      In my efforts to eat less packaged snack foods, I decided to try roasting some chickpeas to have on hand rather than having crackers or even my beloved soy crisps. The only problem I have found is that I eat them too quickly so they aren't around long enough! They require very little prep time and are budget-friendly because a can of chickpeas costs like $0.89, which is a definite plus! You can use a variety of seasonings to create many different flavor combinations. So far I have just stuck with one because I like it so much, but really I should branch out... I didn't measure my spices, but I included approximate amounts below.
       Chili Spiced Chickpeas
      • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed and patted dry
      • 1 tsp olive oil
      • kosher salt (about 1/4 tsp)
      • chili powder (about 1/2 tsp)
      • cumin (about 1/2 tsp)
      • garlic powder (about 1/4 tsp)
      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
      2. Spread chickpeas evenly across a sheet pan lined with foil.
      3. Lightly spray chickpeas with olive oil. 
      4. Evenly sprinkle spices over chickpeas. 
      5. Bake until crispy- about 45 minutes. 
      6. Once they have cooled, store in a ziploc bag.