Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes

I wanted to make something for Halloween this year. So I decided to make cupcakes. Now the problem was trying to figure out what type of cupcake I should bake. Thinking about for a while pumpkin came to mind since it was for Halloween. But that sounded boring without some type of spice. Cinnamon was already in it. I kept wondering what to add, and suddenly I saw some candied ginger in the snack tray. Eureka, I now knew what to add, ginger. There was also the need for frosting, a cream cheese frosting.

Here are the ingredients needed for this recipe:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  (3.4 oz) package instant butterscotch pudding mix
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)

Step 1: Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Step 2: Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners.

Step 3: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, and clove.

Step 4: Whisk in the crystallized ginger; set aside.

Step 5: In a large bowl,  beat the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. (The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color.)

Step 6: Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next.

Step 7: Beat in the vanilla and pumpkin puree with the last egg.

Step 8: Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.

Step 9: Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups.

Step 10: Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 30 minutes.

Step 11: Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Step 12: When completely cooled you can frost the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

After trying hundreds of cream cheese frosting combinations I finally got the perfect one. It’s simply and easy to make without any complicated methods to it.

Here are the ingredients needed for this recipe:

  • 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Step 1: In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy.

Step 2: Mix in the vanilla

Step 3: Then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar.

Step 4: Store in the refrigerator after use.

Cafe con Leche

While at a local breakfast joint in town I spotted a drink called Cafe con Leche. I wanted to try it and I fell in love. The smooth thick texture of the drink just melted my dislike of most coffee drinks. Adding some sugar had me hooked to the drink. Later on I wanted to recreate the drink.

Café con leche (Spanish: “coffee with milk”) is a Spanish coffee beverage. More similar to the Italian caffè latte than to the French café au lait, café con leche is a coffee beverage consisting of strong or bold coffee (sometimes espresso) mixed with scalded milk in approximately a 1:1 ratio. Sugar or sweetener is added according to taste.

Here are the ingredients needed for this recipe:

  • 1 Tbsp coffee per cup of water (use a darker roast, such as French roast, for best results)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
  • sugar to taste (I add 4 sugar cubes = 2 tsp)

Step 1: Place coffee in bottom of pre-warmed French press or compress it down in the filter of coffee maker.

Step 2: Add boiling water, replace lid (without lowering filter), and allow to brew for 5 minutes.

Step 3: Meanwhile, place milk in a small saucepan.

Step 4: Bring just to boiling point (the first larger bubble breaking on surface), then reduce heat to barely simmering.

Step 5: Simmer gently for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until coffee is done

Step 6: After the 5 minutes are up, depress plunger on press to strain grounds.

Step 7: Divide coffee evenly between 2 mugs.

Step 8: Add hot milk to each cup in equal amounts to coffee. (strain milk before adding)

Step 9: Sweeten to taste. Garnish with a dash of cinnamon, if desired.

Tips:

  • Instead of simmering the milk in a saucepan you can place it in the microwave and heat it until it is almost boiling

  • Once you’ve heated the milk and the coffee is ready, it is time to mix them. Everyone’s tastes are different and microwaves vary in how much power (watts) they use, so I can’t tell you exactly how much milk to use or how long to leave it in the microwave. I can tell you that the typical proportion is about 1/3 cup of coffee to 2/3 cup hot milk. I recommend putting 1/2 cup of hot milk in a mug first, then slowly adding the hot coffee. If it needs more of one or the other, you can add it until you get it just right!

Gnocchi with Summer Squash

As i was surfing the net for a project that I was working on I kept stumbling over recipes on gnocchi. So in a moment of craving it I decided to make a dish with gnocchi. Since it’s practically still summer here I was able to get a hold of some summer squash and figured out what to make with it. Not really sure on what to do though I searched the web for some inspiration on a recipe.

Here are the ingredients needed for this recipe:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs of any summer squash, quartered and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved (used leftover tomato and beef dish)
  • 1 pkg of (16 oz) frozen gnocchi
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (used 1 tsp of dried)
  • 2 Tbsps grated Parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice (didn’t have any)

Step 1: In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat

Step 2: Add the squash and garlic

Step 3: Season with salt and ground pepper

Step 4: Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is crisp-tender (4-5 minutes)

Step 5: Add the tomatoes

Step 6: Cook, stirring occasionally, until juices are released (2 minutes)

Step 7: Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the gnocchi according to the package instructions

Step 8: Reserve 1/2 cup of the water

Step 9: Drain the gnocchi and transfer to the large pan

Step 10: Toss the gnocchi and add enough of the water to create a sauce

Step 11: Remove pan from heat

Step 12: Stir in the basil, cheese, butter, and lemon juice

Step 13: Serve hot

Grilling Oysters

My dad bought a box full of oysters last night. So we had to use them soon. Dad decided to grill them. I can’t really give you a recipe for it this time since I’m not sure on how to grill oysters, but I can show you the process.

We will be using a charcoal grill to grill the oysters.

Step 1: Heat the charcoal until they become white hot (20-30 minutes)

Step 2: Place the oysters on the grill

Step 3: Cover and cook until they open

Step 4: Remove from heat

Step 5: Shuck the shells and serve

Caramelizing an Onion

How to caramelize an onion without burning it. Well it’s pretty simple. Here I will show you how to caramelize an onion in some easy steps.

Here are the ingredients needed for this recipe:

  • 1/2 medium onion (yellow for this)
  • 2 Tbsps vegetable oil

Step 1: Peel off the outer skin of the onion

Step 2: Thinly slice the onion

Step 3: In a large pan, heat the oil on medium heat

Step 4: Add the onions

Step 5: Periodically stir the onion slices

Step 6: The onions will become translucent by this point (5-6 minutes)

Step 7: Cook a bit longer (4-5 minutes) or until the color of the onion slices should be a golden brown color and remove from heat

Banana Nut Muffins

I noticed that there was a stack of ripe bananas on the counter and since nobody else was eating them in the house other than I, I decided to use them for something. Banana bread popped into my head as something to make, but it felt boring. Instead I found a bag of pecans and decided to make banana nut muffins.

Here are the ingredients needed for this recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 large overripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup sugar (1/2 brown and 1/2 white)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Step 2: Line the muffin pans or lightly grease the pans

Step 3: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt

Step 4: In a large bowl, combine the bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter

Step 5: Fold the flour mixture into the banana mixture, mix until smooth

Step 6: Fold in the chopped pecans (can add optional ingredients at this time)

Step 6: Scoop into the pans

Step 7: Bake: (minis: 10-15 minutes) (large: 25-30 minutes) muffins will spring back when lightly tapped

Optional Ingredients:

  • dash of vanilla extract
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • pinch of allspice

Luncheon with Some Friends

As I finished with my last exam for the week I felt the need to wind down from the hustle and bustle of life. So I decided to have a luncheon with some friends. Since we were getting together in the middle of the afternoon, I couldn’t call it lunch nor was it close enough to be called dinner. At one point I was thinking of calling it Afternoon Tea, but none of the others drank tea. So luncheon was it.

Menu:

Garden Salad

Needing a filler in a lunch that I was making I wanted something fresh. So I turned to the Garden Salad. But I will be deviating from the original recipe for one. Instead I will be making it from the ingredients that are in my refrigerator right now.

Here are the ingredients needed for this recipe:

  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, cut or torn into bite sized pieces
  • 4 Tbsps grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups of Garlic Crouton
  • 1/4 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes

Step 1: Place lettuce in a large bowl

Step 2: Toss with dressing (optional), Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, and crouton

Step 3: Serve cold

Cheese-Garlic Biscuits

I didn’t feel like making biscuits from scratch so instead I bought Bisquick Complete Mix: Cheese-Garlic Biscuits. It’s pretty simple to make because all you need to do is add water and try not to burn it in the oven.

Here are the ingredients needed for this recipe:

  • 1 pkg (7.75 oz) Bisquick Complete Mix: Cheese-Garlic Biscuits
  • 1/2 cup water

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

Step 2: In a medium bowl, stir together the dry mix and water until a soft dough forms (will be sticky)

Step 3: Using a 1 Tbsp spoon, drop dough balls by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet (the package will tell you to lightly grease the pan, I find that it’s unnecessary since they come off when they are done)

Step 4: Bake for 8-11 minutes or until golden brown

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