Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

pumpkin-cupcakes-with-cinnamon-cream-cheese-frostingIt may not feel like it, but fall really is right around the corner.  When the weekends bring football, the days of sunlight begin to shorten and there’s a barest hint of a chill to the morning air, so too comes the annual assault of all things pumpkin spice.

Good Housekeeping got ahead of the 2018 #PumpkinSpice season with this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with a decadent cream cheese frosting, and I, for one, am not content to wait until the leaves start changing to bake a batch of these babies up. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Jumbo Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

  • 1+1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1+1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 TBLS molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup (1 Stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 Cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine pumpkin, molasses and vanilla.
  3. In large bowl, with electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and beat in eggs, one at a time. Then alternately add flour and pumpkin mixture, beating until just combined.
  4. Divide batter among muffin-pan cups (heaping 1/4 cup each) and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack; let cool 5 minutes before removing cupcakes from pan to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 TBLS butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Cups confectioner’s (Powdered) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (if desired)
  1. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon (if using), and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
  2. To serve, frost cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Makes 12 Jumbo Cupcakes.  Store any uneaten cupcakes in the refrigerator.

Amaretto Poached Peaches

slow-cooker-amaretto-poached-peaches-03082016
PHOTO: Chelsea Kyle, PROP STYLING: Alex Brannian, FOOD STYLING: Dawn Perry

I’m planning a weekend dinner party and love having a make ahead dessert that allows me to spend as little time during the party in the kitchen as possible.  Considering that it’s peak peach season, and very few people have a strong aversion for them, I’d consider it  prime time to dig into my favorite peach recipes at www.californiagirlsgonewine.

This one is fast, can be made ahead, and only tastes better the longer it sits before being reheated!  The very best thing about this recipe is you have two choices when you make it:  Hands on by cooking it on the stove top or hands off by cooking it in the slow cooker!  For what it’s worth, I prefer the more focused control over the end product that comes from using the stove top method.

Amaretto Poached Peaches

  • 6 peaches (about 3 pounds), pitted, thinly sliced
  • 4 strips lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 3/4 cup Amaretto
  • 1/4 cup + 1 TBLS honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn if large
  • 2 tsp cornstarch + 2 tsp cold water OR 3 tsp arrowroot + 2 tsp cold water
  • Vanilla bean ice cream (for serving)

For Stove Top:

  1. Rinse and dry your basil leaves and peaches, and scrub the skin of your lemon thoroughly before you start your recipe.
  2. Heat peaches, lemon zest, amaretto, honey, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and 1 cup hot water in a medium pot over medium heat until simmering.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook until peaches are tender, about 25 minutes.
  4. Cover and remove from heat until 15 minutes before you are ready to serve.
  5. 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, scoop ice cream into serving bowls and place bowls into freezer.
  6. Mix cornstarch OR arrowroot with the cold water until a thin paste forms.
  7. Return peach mixture just to a boil.
  8. Stir cornstarch or arrowroot paste into peach mixture until sauce starts to thicken then remove from heat.
  9. Spoon peach mixture over the ice cream and add a full basil leaf or two. Serve immediately.

For Slow Cooker:

  1. Rinse and dry your basil leaves and peaches, and scrub the skin of your lemon thoroughly before you start your recipe.
  2. Toss peaches, lemon zest, amaretto, honey, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and 1 cup hot water in slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on high until peaches are tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour.
  4. Mix cornstarch OR arrowroot with the cold water until a thin paste forms.
  5. Stir cornstarch or arrowroot paste into peach mixture until sauce starts to thicken then turn slow cooker off.
  6. 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, scoop ice cream into serving bowls and place bowls into freezer.
  7. Spoon peach mixture over the ice cream and add a full basil leaf or two. Serve immediately.

**Tip  You can save yourself time during your dinner party by scooping your ice cream into your serving bowls and putting them into your freezer before the party starts.  #GirlsGoneWine

Note that I made a few changes & notes to the original linked recipe:

  • They didn’t specify whether to peel the peaches or not, but the photo shows unpeeled peaches;
  • The Amaretto (almond liqueur) you use matters to the amount you use.  If you ci-disaronno-originale-amaretto-02f22ebe37e1d171are using Amaretto Disaronno use the amount shown in the recipe.  If you are using another brand you may want to slightly reduce the amount as some tend to have a more pronounced almond flavor.  Adjust according to your taste;
  • I found the recipe to be “too saucy” and the sauce to be too thin the first time I made it so I made 2 changes: I increased the peaches from 4 to 6 and added a thickening agent to the sauce (cornstarch or arrowroot).  In this case, use cornstarch or arrowroot to maintain your shiny sauce;
  • I read the reviews of the original recipe, on www.epicurious.com, and agreed that it needed just a touch more honey, so I added an additional tablespoon; and
  • I added 1/4 tsp cinnamon to compliment the peaches, and tame the spice of the red peppers and the peppery basil.

This recipe served 8 and was a definite crowd pleaser!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafer Crumble

This isn’t your grandma’s banana pudding and it certainly isn’t the “off the back of the Nilla Wafer box” banana pudding recipe either!  Thumbing through the pages of the October 2009 Food & Wine Magazine, I found this different, may I even say elegant, spin on a truly classic Southern comfort food!

vanillapudding

Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafer Crumble

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons banana liqueur (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter plus 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vanilla wafer cookies (about 15), coarsely ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 bananas, coarsely chopped
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 325°.
  2. In a bowl, combine the wafers, cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of sugar and a pinch of salt.
  3. Stir in the melted butter.
  4. Spread the crumble on the prepared baking sheet; bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool.
  5. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch, the 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  6. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.
  7. Gradually whisk the milk into the egg yolks until smooth.
  8. Transfer the pudding mixture to the saucepan and add the banana liqueur.
  9. Cook over moderate heat, whisking, until the pudding is thick, about 3 minutes.
  10. Scrape the pudding into a bowl and whisk in the cold butter and vanilla.
  11. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 4 hours.
  12. Spoon the chopped bananas into bowls.
  13. Top with the pudding, sprinkle with the crumble and serve right away.

Yum! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

Frozen Margarita Pie

This dreamy pie comes from the magicians at Bon Appétit.  It’s easy and boozy!  My favorite dessert combination. 😉  It’s not a pie you can make at the last minute though.  You need to allow for at least 8 hours freezing time so the consistency is right, so plan ahead if you’re making this.

The Tequila you use matters – don’t just pour any old tequila in or you could ruin this pie.  Food & Wine Magazine recently published a list of 10 Top Blanco Tequilas and any of these would be great in this pie:

  • Espolon Blanco $26  100% agave tequilas, with a silky texture and a spicy kick
  • Tapatio Blanco $36  Smoky & complex, w/anise and classic herbaceous agave notes
  • Astral $39  Potent, floral tequila, agave juice ferments w/the pulp—a long-abandoned traditional approach
  • Casa Noble Crystal $40C  Certified Organic; Vegetal and funky (in a good way)
  • Siempra Valles Blanco $40  Earthy Agave from the Jalisco lowlands
  • Pasote Blanco $45  This subtle tequila from master distiller Felipe Camarena heads toward the lighter, greener side of agave, with grass and mint
  • Fortaleza Blanco $50  Guillermo Sauza started Fortaleza almost 30 years after his family sold its namesake brand. All of his tequilas—including this minty, unaged version—are superb
  • Expresiones del Corazóne Artisianal Edition Blanco $60  Agave at two different sugar levels is distilled and blended for this flavorful blanco—think eucalyptus, black pepper and plantain
  • Roca Patrón Silver $69  Emphatically agave-scented, this is made with the traditional tahona method, using a two-ton volcanic rock to crush the roasted piñas
  • Casa Dragones Blanco $75  This one is smooth w/lime peel and pine needle notes

 

frozen-margarita-pie-2

Frozen Margarita Pie

  • 6 TBSP Unsalted Butter
  • 10 graham crackers
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt. divided
  • ¾ cup chilled heavy cream
  • 5 limes, divided
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 Tbsp. tequila blanco

Melt 6 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let cool slightly.

Crumble 10 graham crackers into the bowl of a food processor. Add 3 Tbsp. sugar¼ tsp. salt, and melted butter to bowl and process until mixture resembles wet sand.

Transfer graham cracker mixture to a shallow 9″ pie pan. Using a measuring cup, press firmly into bottom and up sides of dish. Freeze 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk ¾ cup heavy cream in a medium bowl until cream begins to thicken to the point you see ripples and stiff peaks begin to form, 3–5 minutes.

Cut 4 limes in half and juice into a fine-mesh sieve set over a glass measuring cup (you should have about ½ cup juice). Pour lime juice into another medium bowl and whisk in 14 oz. condensed milk3 Tbsp. tequila, and remaining ¼ tsp. salt until smooth.

Fold half of whipped cream into lime juice mixture, carefully folding under and over while turning the bowl. Add remaining whipped cream and continue to fold until no streaks remain.

Remove pie pan from freezer and pour in filling. Using the back of a spoon, gently spread filling to edge of crust.

Using a microplane, zest half of the remaining lime over pie.

Freeze pie at least 8 hours, or preferably overnight.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Smashed Blackberry Goat Cheese Toasts

Getting ready to have the #GirlsGoneWine over for a Tuesday night #SipSnackAndChat and came across the picture for this dreamy goat cheese #WryToast that just screams to the #WesterlyWineOhs, “Serve me with Westerly Red wine.”

Total prep time is 20 minutes, which makes this an easy weekday treat, plus the jam portion makes enough to feed a crowd and keeps in a sealed container in the refrigerator for two weeks, if you can leave it there that long. 😉

I made a couple of minor adjustments to the original recipe, but nothing drastic.

Smashed Blackberry Goat Cheese Toasts

  • 1 1/2 cups blackberriesBlackberry-Toasts
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 tsp freshly grated orange zest (I added this)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (I substituted 1 tsp Grand Marnier® liqueur)
  • 1 1/2 tbsps sugar
  • 3 tbsps water
  • 1 – 2 tsps cornstarch, sifted
  • French Baguette, sliced
  • 8 oz goat cheese (More or Less depending on how many you are serving)
  • fresh mint to garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium saucepan combine the blackberries, blueberries, vanilla (Grand Marnier®), sugar, and water (covered) over a medium low flame. Once simmering and the fruit begins to burst (about 5 minutes) gently mash with a fork or potato masher, then whisk in the cornstarch until well incorporated.* Cover once more and simmer over a low flame until needed. (I removed from the heat so that the jam would cool and thicken)
  2. Meanwhile, toast the sliced baguette on a baking sheet in the oven as desired.  I made mine crispy but not crunchy.
  3. When ready, smear each slice with a thick layer of goat cheese, then spoon over with the smashed blackberries. Garnish with mint, then eat!

*add 1 tsp if you want the blackberries more runny, 2 tsps for a thicker texture!

Thankfully the freezer section is stocked with plenty of bagged blueberries, blackberries, and now even a mixed berry with pomegranate option that can make prepping this recipe easy and as easy to change as picking a different bag of frozen fruit! #GirlsGoneWine

Low Carb Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse

pumpkin-mousseI saw this on Pinterest and not only is it quick & easy to make, it is sinfully delicious without being heavy in calories or carbs!  Thanks go to The Sugar Free Mom, Brenda Bennett, for this wonderful, easy to make, treat!

Low Carb Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse

Instructions

  1. In a KitchenAid or stand mixer blend cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until whipped and fluffy about 5 minutes.
  3. Taste and adjust sweetener to your liking if needed.
  4. Pipe into serving glasses and top with cacao nibs or brown sugar sub like Sukrin if desired. Best if Chilled about an hour to set and thicken but still fantastic to enjoy immediately!

  5. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

Net Carbs: 4g

Amount Per Serving (0.5 cup)
Calories 280 Calories from Fat 243
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 42%
Saturated Fat 16g 80%
Cholesterol 95mg 32%
Sodium 186mg 8%
Potassium 154mg 4%
Total Carbohydrates 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 2g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 132.1%
Vitamin C 2.2%
Calcium 7.4%
Iron 3.9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
If you’re interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to like:  health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, gadget reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a community page on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Eat All You Want & Don’t Gain! Really!

fruitsEveryone who follows this blog regularly knows that #ThisGirlLovesToEat.  Anything that lets me eat unregulated amounts of food that I like, except kale #IHateKale, without bursting out of my jeans is something that is going to catch my attention. Sounds unlikely?  I know, I doubt it too, but I’m willing to be a guinea pig!

According to scientists, you can eat as much of these 14 foods and not gain any weight due to their high water and low-starch fiber content while containing very few calories.

These foods are not high in muscle building (and fat burning) protein, but they are filled with vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants.

Celery:celery

  • 95% Water
  • Contains potassium, folate, fiber, and 30% of your daily requirement of vitamin K
  • Has about 6 calories per serving
  • Eat when fresh – celery loses most of it’s nutritional benefits after 5-7 days

Kale:

  • One of the few foods that contains an Omega 3 Fatty Acid
  • 1 Cup has about 33 calories
  • High in vitamins and folate

Blueberries:three-blueberries

  • Champion in the Antioxidant world – has more than any other fruit
  • 1 cup has about 85 calories
  • 1 cup has 14% of the recommended daily requirement of fiber

Cucumbers:

  • 96% Water
  • 16 calories per serving
  • Seeds and skin contain most of the Fiber and Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene) which is good for your eyes

Tomatoes:tomatoes

  • Contain lycopene, a carotenoid, which helps fight against chronic diseases
  • High in vitamins A, C, and B2, as well as folate, chromium, potassium, and fiber
  • 1 medium-sized tomato has about 25 calories

Grapefruit:

  • High in fiber, which stabilizes blood sugar helps you feel fuller for longer
  • 1/2 a grapefruit has about 50 calories
  • High in Vitamin C and folate
  • Grapefruit has been found to help in weight loss, lowering cholesterol, and improving digestion

Broccoli:Broccoli

  • Contains an anticarcinogen known as sulforaphane
  • Most nutritious when eaten raw or steamed
  • Contains vitamins A, C, E, and K
  • 1 serving contains 20% of your daily fiber requirement
  • 1 serving has about 31 calories

Cantaloupe:cantaloupeandhoneydow

  • Contains beta carotene, a form of vitamin A that promotes healthy eyes
  • Contains potassium
  • Contains more than 100% of your daily recommended value of vitamins A and C
  • 90% Water
  • 1 serving has about 55 calories

Cauliflower:

  • Contains antioxidants and phytochemicals to help fight off chronic disease
  • An excellent source of folate, fiber, and vitamins C and K
  • Has about 25 calories per serving

Blackberries:The blackberry

  • Blackberries can help your brain to stay alert
  • Rich in vitamin C as well as antioxidants known as bioflavonoids
  • Can aid with digestion
  • Tightens tissue, leading to younger-looking skin
  • 1 serving has about 62 calories

Lettuce:

  • Whether Romaine, Green Leaf, Red Leaf, Romain, etc.: 96% Water
  • Folate, iron, and vitamins A and C
  • 1 serving has 10 to 20 calories

Oranges:

  • High in Vitamin C which is crucial in collagen production: oranges help keep skin free of damage and looking good
  • Medium orange has about 80 calories
  • You need to eat the white stuff under an orange’s skin (pith) it contains a lot of fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels

Strawberries:strawberries-on-white-plate

  • Fat-free, sodium-free, and cholesterol-free (healthy for the heart)
  • More vitamin C in one serving of strawberries than there is in one orange
  • Tons of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant
  • A good source of potassium and fiber
  • 1 Cup of strawberries has about 50 calories

Honeydew Melons:

  • Only slightly more calories per serving than cantaloupe (64)
  • Contains over half of the recommended daily value of vitamin C
  • Contains over half of the recommended daily value of copper, which is crucial for healthy skin

If you are interested in more scientific details, you can read the original article on INSIDER.

If you’re interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to like:  health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, gadget reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a community page on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood