I drew inspiration from The Pioneer Woman with this meal. She made something similar using bowtie pasta (we know how I feel about bowties) and some similar ingredients. I didn’t have everything she had on hand, so I improvised! According to my Dad, that’s the best kind of cooking and he’s right. It’s way more fun than following a recipe.
I gathered everything that looked like it would taste good together. Leftover chicken from Taco Tuesday night, toasted walnuts from our dinner party on Thursday, my spices, leftover red onion…you get the idea.
The shredded chicken from Taco Tuesday night was simple. A bunch of random chicken parts (eww, I meant a couple of chicken breasts and some thighs) that I threw into the crockpot with enough beef stock and water to cover the meat (beef stock? I know, it’s all I had, and does it really matter?), threw in some sprigs of rosemary and thyme, a little s&p and a couple of cloves of whole garlic. Set it on low for several hours and came home to some yummy smelling chicken!
With the bones, spices and juices leftover I decided to make a simple chicken stock. I dumped it all into a pot and let it simmer for several hours. Just skim the fat every so often and voila! you have some homemade chicken stock. If you have carrots or onions, pretty much anything else, throw it in. The more flavor the better!
I shredded what I needed for the tacos and put the rest in the fridge. Well, today was the day it would be called up to the plate again (literally). I cut what I had left over into small pieces and set that aside.
On to the onion. I had a huge red onion I’ve been using all week for different recipes, and since I didn’t want to be overloaded with onion, I took off about a quarter and chopped it up.
Next, the walnuts. I toasted up some walnuts the other night when I made a spinach salad. You don’t have to if you don’t want. To toast them I put them in a dry pan over medium/high heat for about 5 minutes. Easy breezy. Chop them into whatever size you feel is appropriate for chicken salad. Like my salsa, I like to see what’s going on, not a gloopy mess.
Next, the raisins. Mine looked kind of dry so I thought I’d plump them up a little. I soaked them in hot chicken stock for about 10 minutes. Why not, right? In all fairness, they don’t look transformed that much, but in my mind they weren’t so dry.
Measure out your mayo.
If you’re feeling like you want some heat, throw in some crushed red pepper flakes!
And of course, the curry powder.
Throw in some salt and cracked black pepper, mix it together and you’ve got yourself a happy little sandwich.
Makes 4 sandwiches
8 slices of bread, I used some brioche I had in the freezer
1 large chicken breast & 2 chicken thighs, cooked and cubed into small pieces
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp curry powder
Spinach or lettuce
If you don’t have a toaster (like me), get your broiler going. Gather all of your ingredients and get yourself set up. Having everything set out before you start will make is easier for you, trust me.
If you’re going to get a little crazy like me, heat up some chicken stock (or broth) in the microwave and let your raisins take a soak. If you’re not a little crazy, don’t.
If you’re using the broiler, pop those slices of bread in, but keep an eye on them. Nothing worse than scraping burnt toast. If your a toaster using human, you know what to do.
Dice your chicken and drop it into a large bowl. On to the red onion. Dice it then drop it in. Add your mayo, your walnuts (toasted or otherwise), raisins and seasonings. If you want some heat but not too much, go easy on the crushed red pepper flakes. We like spicy food so I knew the 1/2 teaspoon would be fine. Mix it up, give it a taste. We don’t like too much mayo, you may. Adjust to your heart’s desire.
Time to assemble! The hubs likes spinach, I prefer lettuce. I piled his high with spinach, mine with romaine. Slice it on the diagonal (‘cause it’s prettier that way), and you’re all set!
When it comes to pasta shapes, I will eat pretty much anything, expect bowties. I don’t know why, I just don’t like ‘em. My husband, on the other hand, does not like long pasta. One of his favorites is orecchiette, little ears. I think they’re cute, and they remind me of little bowls, so the thought of tiny bowls carrying delicious cheese and sauce into my mouth is cool with me.
Now if I’m being honest, the meatballs were kind of a mistake. I hadn’t really realized that I was using ground turkey sausage until about half way through the meal preparation. Turns out, still pretty yummy in meatball form. I just think it’s funny that I hadn’t paid attention to what it is that I bought. In any case, I took some turkey sausage and pretended it was ground dark meat turkey. I added my spices, my bread crumbs, an egg and rolled them into meatballs.
I make my own tomato sauce. My Dad, who is a fantastic cook, has a beautiful vegetable garden in his backyard and for as long as I can remember, has been making our tomato sauce fresh fresh fresh. In a pinch, use the stuff from the jar though, but if you have the time, make it yourself. I haven’t decided if I’m going to share our family tomato sauce recipe. I don’t want to send my Italian Grandmother into cardiac arrest or anything. For now, let’s just say you use the sauce from the jar.
Makes 4 – 6 Servings
1 lb of short cut pasta
1 1/2 lb of turkey sausage, or just some dark ground turkey
1 egg, room temperature
1/4 cup bread crumbs, seasoned or otherwise
1/4 cup packed, fresh basil, chopped (leave some aside for garnish)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, chopped
2-3 Tbl whole milk
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup ricotta
Take out the turkey meat first and let that hang out on the counter while you get everything out. This will take some of the chill off of the meat.
Have all of your ingredients ready and out of your pantry so you’re not fumbling around with mushy turkey meat hands.
Get a nice big pot of water up to a boil. Don’t get a tiny “easier to clean later” sized pot, get one that offers your pasta some room to swim. Don’t salt your water yet. Wait until just before you drop the pasta. Salting your pot when it hasn’t come up to a boil could damage it.
Get out your sauce (homemade or otherwise) and dump it into a pan with high sides. Turn it on low.
Start chopping and dicing. Get everything situated on your cutting board so you’re ready to mix.
In a large bowl mix the meat, bread crumbs, egg, basil, parsley, red pepper, garlic, whole milk, salt and pepper gently. You can omit the milk if you want (or don’t have any), but it will just bump up the moisture level. Don’t over mix, or you’ll end up with tough meatballs. Form into whatever size meatballs tickle your fancy. I like them a little on the larger side. They look prettier that way. I usually get between 6-8 meatballs.
Time to get your meatballs into the sauce. This is kind of one of those, you could brown them first, or just dump them in with the sauce to cook through. I prefer letting them cook in the sauce rather than browning them first. I don’t like crunch when it comes to meatballs. Some people do, some people don’t. For today, straight into the sauce.
Gently nestle them in the sauce. Cover, turn up the heat to medium and let them simmer away. They should take about 12 - 15 minutes. They can certainly hang out in there longer though.
While the meatballs are doing their thing, start thinking about the pasta. Drop a nice handful of salt into your boiling water. Short cut pasta usually takes about 9 minutes to cook. Check the directions on the box though. There’s nothing worse than mushy pasta. Let the goal be al dente. Leave a little bite to the pasta.
When your pasta is done, drain it. Time to plate your masterpiece. I like more sauce to pasta ratio, my husband does not. Again, he’s wrong, I’m right. Get some meatballs on there, a nice dollop of ricotta and some fresh basil. The ricotta, once stirred in, gives the pasta a creaminess I find to be heavenly. If you’re watching your waistline, you can omit it.
Enjoy your sausage meatballs!
There is a restaurant…that has a sandwich…that my husband craves. It’s the Monte Cristo. For me, it’s meh. I mostly can’t stand spending more than $3 on a sandwich. Come on, it’s ham and turkey with some melted cheese.
I decided this was one of those things I could easily make, for half the price. So I did. And he liked it. Duh.
I bought some sliced brioche, ham, turkey, gruyere, frozen raspberries and a jar of raspberry preserves. Ok, this is going to be easy.
Makes 2 hearty sandwiches
4 slices brioche
8 slices of turkey meat
8 slices of honey ham
1 handful (about 1/2 cup) of shredded gruyere (or any melting cheese, swiss would do)
1 package frozen raspberries, thawed
2 Tbl raspberry preserves
1 Tbl white sugar
Salt and pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Cinnamon stick (optional)
Softened butter, for brushing pan
If you have a Panini press, this would be a good time to use it. I don’t, so I use my trusty Le Creuset grill/griddle pan. Get whatever you’re using nice and hot.
Get all of your ingredients prepared. Shred your cheese. Have your meat ready to stack.
In a small saucepan drop your thawed raspberries, sugar, preserves, cinnamon stick and if you’re daring, red pepper and give a quick stir. Simmer away on medium/low until it gets nice and goopy. This will take a few minutes, between 7-10. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t bubble over. Once that’s at a consistency that makes you happy for dipping, run it through a sieve. Get as may of the seeds out as you desire. I didn’t want it to be seedless, so I kept some in. You can certainly skip this step if you don’t mind them. Set it aside to cool (if you’re impatient like me, pop it in the fridge!).
Time for the sandwiches. In a large shallow dish whisk together your eggs, s&p, and some freshly grated nutmeg. I like a little hint of nutmeg, try it, you may too. Slap some butter on your grill pan (or sandwich press).
Start to assemble. Stack it up high! Dunk the whole sandwich, both sides, into the egg mixture and pop it on the grill. After about 3 or 4 minutes it’s ready to flip (assuming you’re using a grill pan or skillet). At this point, tent it with some tin foil so the cheese gets nice and melty. Once it’s to your melted liking, you’re done!
If you’re feeling super fancy, sift some powdered sugar over the top after you’ve cut them in half. For me, I figure with all of the cheese, I can skip the sugar (this time at least!).
Get your little dipping sauce out and have yourself some happiness!
Back in New York, you will not find any social gathering without an Entenmann’s Coffee Cake present. And that’s a fact.
We recently had a small dinner party at our home and I felt that same social gathering feeling swoop over me and thought, "I'll make a coffee cake!" I found this on The Pioneer Woman and figured I could make it. Well it came out super yummy, and it's really easy to make.
This makes a lot. You could serve at least 10 people.
For the cake:
1 ½ sticks of butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
3 cups flour, sifted
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ¼ cup whole milk
3 whole egg whites, beaten until stiff
For the pecan topping:
1 ½ stick butter, softened
¾ cups flour
1 ½ cup brown sugar
2 Tbl cinnamon
1 ½ cup pecans, chopped
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
With an electric beater (or by hand if you're feeling like the Hulk), beat egg whites until you get stiff peaks and set aside.
In a large bowl cream butter and sugar. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until combined. Don’t overbeat. Fold in beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula. Again, don't over mix. Be very gentle with the egg whites. Spread dough mixture into a well-greased 9 x 13 (or larger) baking pan. A cake pan with higher sides would be best. This will reduce the risk of it bubbling over and all over your oven.
In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients with a pastry cutter (or fork) until crumbly. Sprinkle all over the top.
Bake for 45 - 50 minutes, or until no longer jiggly. Serve with a side of coffee ice cream, and enjoy!
This turned into a “let’s use up what I have,” kind of meals.
I found a package of frozen cheese tortellini and spicy chicken sausage links and thought, “Well that sounds good together.” Then I saw some frozen peas and a package of goat cheese and said, “Okay, now we have a meal.”
Makes 4 servings
1 lb. frozen cheese tortellini
4 spicy chicken sausage links, casing removed
½ - ¾ cup frozen sweet, petite peas
½ - ¾ cup goat cheese, you’ll have to eyeball it when it’s time to add it
2 tsp olive oil
Small handful of chopped, fresh parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup reserved pasta cooking water
Get a big pot of water boiling. Don’t use a small pot to make pasta, give the pasta some room to swim. Cover and let it do its thing until you’re ready. Don’t add salt until you’re ready to drop the pasta. Salting the water when you first start could damage your pots. Right before you add the pasta, dump in a good handful of pasta. From what I hear, it’s supposed to taste like sea water, so pretty salty. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Water starting to boil, check! Get a small to medium pan going over medium heat with about 2 teaspoons to a tablespoon of oil. The sausage should give off some fat, so go easy with the oil. Remove the casings of the sausage (or better yet, just buy bulk sausage, save yourself a step), and crumble it with a wooden spoon in the pan. Brown the sausage, approximately 10 minutes. Cover and set aside.
Frozen tortellini usually only takes about 4 minutes to cook. Add some salt to your boiling water and drop your pasta. You’ll know they’re done when they begin to float. Take about a ladel full of pasta water and set aside. We’ll use this in a minute. Give the pasta another minute, then drain. And return to pot.
Toss your frozen peas and sausage with the tortellini. Give that a quick stir. Now add some goat cheese. As it begins to melt, add a little pasta water, this will help to make it smooth and saucy. Don’t add too much, it’ll just become a watery mess. Just a few tablespoons at a time. Give it a taste, add some salt and pepper. Retaste. Serve with fresh, chopped parsley for some freshness.
Voila, you’re done! Enjoy!
1 large jalapeño, diced, for more heat, leave the ribs and seeds, for less, remove
2 ripe mangoes cut into 1 inch pieces
½ red onion, diced
½ 15 oz. can of drained and rinsed beans, I used black today. If you have pinto, use that
½ cup frozen or fresh corn
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime
A healthy handful of cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I still can’t cut a mango like a normal person. I try, but it just doesn’t really work for me. There’s a pit in the center, so you have to cut around it. That I can do, it’s the dicing it while it’s still on the skin that I have trouble with. I hope you’re better at it. In whatever way you get the fruit off the flesh, get them into small pieces. Be gentle with it though, it’s tender so it can quickly turn into mush.
Dice your onion and jalapeño, drain and rinse your beans, chop a pile of cilantro and mince your garlic. I’m a big fan of getting everything done, then building my meal. I find it’s easier when you have all of your ingredients out, chopped and measured before you start.
In a medium bowl mix your diced onion, chopped cilantro, corn, jalapeño, minced garlic, s&p and juice of half your lime until incorporated. This is when I’d give it a sample taste. Remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take away. We still don’t have the beans or mango in, but before we go mixing crazy and everything gets mushy, give it a taste. For me, I usually need more salt and probably the other half of the lime juice. To get the most from your lime (and lemons for that matter), give it a roll back and forth on your counter, this will release the juices. If that doesn’t work, pop it in the microwave for no longer than 10 seconds. I use a fork to really squeeze and get out every last drop, and since there are no pits, you can do it right over the bowl.
Now add your beans and diced mango. Gently mix. Taste, taste and taste again! Like I said, if you like heat, add the ribs and the seeds of your jalapeño, if you want to go crazy, use a serrano pepper, it’s even hotter!
*I made this another time using peaches instead of mangoes and I have to admit, I preferred the mango. Also, I learned from my mistakes and upped the heat level with a serrano pepper! Oh boy was that spicy!
Enjoy on top of some delicious ground pork tacos!
Let me be clear about one thing here, these make some seriously big cookies. I’m talking full palm sized. If you don’t want them so big, just don’t make them so big. Use less cookie dough and smaller brownie bites and problem solved. But let’s be honest, it’s cookie dough and brownie, bigger is better.
Makes approximately 10 huge cookies
1 package brownie mix or better yet, homemade brownies
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 Tbl vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips, the miniatures would be cute here too
Make brownies according to package and let cool. Cut about ten 1 inch squares. Enjoy finding a way to get rid of the remainder of brownies…
I know my brownies look weird, I lined my pan with parchment paper to avoid any brownie sticking to pan issues. Also, I knew they didn’t need to look perfect since I was going to cut it into cubes anyway.
For the chocolate chip cookie dough:
Beat softened butter with a mixer until creamy. Add brown sugar and beat until smooth. Add eggs, yolk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
Combine sifted flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a medium bowl and stir together with a wire whisk. Sifting only takes an extra minute and you won’t have any weird chunks in your flour.
Add flour to butter mixture and beat until combined. Gently stir in chocolate chips.
Let dough chill covered in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Use a measuring cup to scoop batter by the 1/2 cup (or smaller, 1/4 cup, if you’re looking for less gigantic cookies). Since it’s chilled, you may need to pack it with a spoon. Then use the spoon to remove the dough from the cup and place it on parchment paper. Work quickly so the dough remains chilled or either prepare one cookie at a time so the rest of the dough remains cold.
After the dough is on the parchment paper, make an indention and place a 1 inch square brownie in the center. Press the brownie down gently and work the remaining dough around the brownie. You can use your hands to shape the dough into a ball.
If your dough gets too soft, you can chill the rolled dough balls for a few minutes right before baking.
Prepare six cookies at a time using a large baking sheet (15 X 20) and bake at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes. Return the remaining dough to the refrigerator until time to bake the second batch.
Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.
Makes about ten cookies using a little less than a 1/2 cup of dough for each cookie.
*If your cookies start to get too brown before they are done baking, you can place a sheet of aluminum foil over top for the last few minutes.
All you need now is a glass of milk and you’re all set. Wait, now that I think of it, you’ll probably need a bowl of milk. There’s no glass wide enough to fit these puppies.
Bake, enjoy, repeat.
My husband and I have recently decided to make Taco Tuesday a staple in our home. I love it. They’re easy and healthy. I use whatever meat I have on hand and have a go at it.
Makes 8 – 10 tacos
8-10 medium tortillas, soft taco size
1 lb ground pork
2 tsp olive oil
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper, depends on how much heat you want
1 15 oz can of black beans, or whatever you have on hand, pinto or kidney
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 leaves Romaine lettuce, shredded
½ cup sharp cheddar and Monterey jack cheese, shredded, or whatever cheese you’re into
Leave the ground pork on the counter while you get all of your other ingredients ready. Chop your lettuce, shred your cheese etc. Allow time for the chill to come off of the pork. You don’t want to add cold meat to a hot pan. The meat will seize and end up being tough and rubbery.
Heat some olive oil in a medium sized pan over medium/high heat. Add pork, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Easy on the salt, you can always add more later, but you can’t take away. Cook meat until brown, approximately 7-8 minutes. Add chicken stock and simmer, uncovered, until the liquid is absorbed.
While the pork is cooking, heat up the beans in a small pot over low heat. You’re just warming them up. Add a little salt and if you’re feeling really wild, some more cayenne pepper!
When the pork is ready, taste it. Does it need a little more s&p? When all of the liquid has evaporated, you’re good to go!
I usually nuke the tortillas for about 45 seconds. You could certainly stick them in the oven on warm or put a little canola oil in a pan and crisp them up a little over low/medium heat. I just layer the tortillas in between moistened paper towels and pop ‘em in the microwave.
Assemble those puppies in any way you see fit, top with some mango salsa and you’re good to go. Taco Tuesday (or any other day of the week) is off and running. Have a margarita and you’re all set!
I took a pound of ground sirloin, some dried cranberries and a handful of arugula and got started.
This will give you 4 average sized burgers. Or 2 huge ones, or 6 babies… you get the idea.
Package of hamburger buns (I use onion rolls)
1 1/2 lb. ground sirloin
1 Tbl. Worcestershire
1 egg, room temperature
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tsp. McCormick Steak Seasoning
Healthy handful of arugula
3/4 cup dried cranberries, this is an “eyeball it” kind of situation
1/4 cup olive oil, again, eyeball it.
1/4 cup gorgonzola
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat your grill pan. Better yet, use your outdoor grill. I don’t have one, so I use my Le Creuset reversible grill/griddle on the stove.
What to remember here: hot grill & meat that’s been out of the fridge for a while. Putting cold meat on a hot surface will cause your meat to tighten up. Your end result will be tough, dry meat. I take mine out when I start getting everything ready. Leave it on the counter, by the time you have everything out of the pantry and fridge, it’ll be good to go.
Mix the meat, the egg, garlic, Worcestershire and steak seasoning (which is really just salt, cracked black and red pepper, garlic powder and probably some secret ingredient I’ll never know) in a large bowl. I have one of those fancy microplane hand graters for garlic, if you don’t, give the garlic clove a GOOD whack on the counter with the flat side of your knife. Don’t chicken out, whack it. The peel will fall off and you’ll be left with a fairly mushy looking clove. Give it a quick run through with your knife and you’re good to go.
Don’t over mix. The more you work the meat, the tougher it gets. Just combine ingredients. And don’t be a baby, use your hands, they’re your best tool in the kitchen.
I use the method where I pat it into a ball at the bottom of the bowl and score it into four equal parts with the side of my hand. This ensures you have pretty evenly sized burgers. Shape your burgers, but keep the edges thicker. This will help keep them flat when they cook. Set aside. Time for the pesto.
You need a food processor for this. I honestly can’t imagine making this without one. You can I guess, they must have before food processors were invented, I, however, don’t believe that to be true. Drop your arugula, gorgonzola, salt and pepper (go easy on the salt and pepper, remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take away) and cranberries into the processor. Zip a few times. Start adding oil while it runs. Okay, taste it. What do you need? I usually need more salt. Really you have to look for texture here. It is a spread. If it’s too thick, add some more oil. If it doesn’t really taste like cranberries, add some more. Not enough body, add more arugula. And if you don’t have arugula, or don’t like its peppery taste, use spinach. If you don’t like gorgonzola, use blue cheese.
I like to toast the hamburger buns. I like a little crunch. I brush a little olive oil onto the buns and set them on the grill until they have pretty little grill marks that no one will ever see cause I slather them with pesto. I know they’re there, that’s all that matters…
Ok, get those burgers going. I’m a medium doneness kind of girl. My rule is (brace for the nasty), wait until the blood pools on top of the burger before you flip it. Don’t smoosh and reflip it a thousand times. One flip. You'll know they’re done when they’ve pooled, been flipped, and when you press on them gently with your finger and there’s a little give, but no mush. Usually it’s a 7 minute process.
Alright, time to assemble. Crusty buns, check. Spread, go crazy, why not? Let’s be honest, the pesto is really the star of this meal. Burger, check. I like some additional crunch, I add some more arugula leaves. If you’re feeling super crazy, add some more gorgonzola on top, why not?! Ok, you’re done! Enjoy!
2 Tbl butter, plus additional for brushing pan
3/4 cup kernels cut from one ear sweet fresh corn, or frozen if that’s what you have
1/8 tsp salt plus
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbl sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet or griddle pan over medium heat. Add corn and sauté for about 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to slightly brown. Set aside to cool.
Lightly beat egg in the bottom of a large bowl, then whisk in buttermilk, corn, vanilla and sugar.
In a smaller bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients into wet, mixing until just combined but still lumpy in appearance.
Reheat your pan to medium. Brush the pan with butter and ladle 1/4 cup batter at a time. When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, flip them over and cook them until golden brown underneath.
Serve immediately with a healthy dose of maple syrup and a nice salty pat of butter on top.
For my husband’s 32nd birthday I decided to make pumpkin spice cupcakes. He loves pumpkin pie and he loves spice cake, so it seemed like the best of both worlds.
I first made a three layer cake as a test to see if I liked the flavors. A cake, for me, is easier than cupcakes. It’s a lot less work to frost one cake, versus twenty four individual cupcakes.
These were a huge hit. Everyone really seemed to enjoy them. I hope you do as well.
Makes three 8-inch cakes, or 24 cupcakes
For the Cake:
3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup pumpkin purée, not the pumpkin pie filling
1/2 cup buttermilk, or make your own
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground nutmeg, if you can grate it, it’ll taste so much better
For the Frosting:
Makes 5 cups
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans with unsalted butter, or line your cupcake pans with liners. If you decide to make a cake rather than cupcakes, I highly suggest greasing and flouring the pans. Use unsalted, softened butter then a handful of flour. Tap out the excess flour, and your cakes will pop right out!
Cream softened (not melted) butter until smooth in a large bowl with an electric mixer set on medium speed. Add the sugars and mix until smooth.
Add room temperature eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture is smooth and light. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin purée, buttermilk, and vanilla and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the sifted flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and nutmeg and set aside.
In thirds, alternately add the dry mixture and wet mixture to the butter mixture, blending well after each addition until smooth.
Fill cupcake molds ¾ of the way and bake for approximately 21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. I’ve found that using an ice cream scooper gives you nice equal sized cupcakes. If making cakes, pour batter into the prepared pans and bake until done, approximately 35 to 40 minutes.
Allow your cupcakes, or cakes, to cool completely before frosting. Don’t get anxious and think they’re ready when you know deep down it’s too early. You’ll end up with crumbs in your frosting or worse, a melty mess.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the butter and continue to beat for 2 to 3 minutes more.
Slowly add the confectioners' sugar 1 cup at a time and beat until smooth and no lumps of sugar are visible.
Add the vanilla and beat until combined.