Monday, November 30, 2009

The Last Piece

I love reading Mutts! It's one of my favorite Sunday cartoons. And this one is so true- there's always room for one more piece of pumpkin pie or on this cake pumpkin pie cake. This is a dessert I made along with Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie to take to my MIL's for Thanksgiving dinner.

Ingrid of 3B's reminded me of this wonderful pumpkin dessert. She called me up one day oohing and ahhing over a recipe called pumpkin cobbler. I thought "ooh that sounds interesting" and the more she described it I knew exactly what she was talking about. She was talking about a recipe I had tried several years ago that I called Pumpkin Pie Cake. I've seen people call it pumpkin crunch and pumpkin dump cake. Whatever you call it, I'm sure you'll agree with me that it is delicious.

This is a very simple recipe that consists of a couple small cans of pumpkin, a few eggs, a can of evaporated milk, spices, a box of yellow cake mix, butter and nuts. It's basically a pumpkin pie custard on the bottom, then you sprinkle a cake mix over the pumpkin, then drizzle butter over it. Top with nuts if desired. It's delish! Thank you Ingrid for reminding me about this dessert!

The custard is creamy just like the pie minus the crust and the topping is crunchy, buttery, sweet, and nutty. I like it cold just like my pumpkin pie but it's equally good at room temperature. The hardest part is waiting for the cake to cool completely. And this dessert stays fresh for several days. A double bonus.

Pumpkin Pie Cake from 3B's and
  • 2 - 15 oz. cans pumpkin puree
  • 1 - 12 fluid oz. can evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 -(18.25 oz.) package yellow or spice cake mix
  • 3/4 cup butter (see note)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease one 9x13 inch pan.

In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Mix well. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle the dry cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mixture. Melt the butter or margarine, and drizzle it over the cake mix. Sprinkle nuts over the top.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until done.

NOTE: I upped the butter from 3/4 cup butter to 1 full cup.

Spice cake would be good here too. Just ask Ingrid :-)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey: Take 2

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Mr. H and I went to his parents house for dinner. It was very low-key and quiet, but it was nice. I was itching to get in the kitchen and make something but my MIL wouldn't let me make much. Just so happens that when we got to their house for lunch at 3pm nothing was ready and she hadn't showered. So I was able to help out after all- yeah! Then we had dinner around 5:30 by candlelight.

And I didn't have to wash a single dish- score! Mr. H and his Dad did most of the clean up. They're quite handy in that department, so I think we'll keep them around :-) They also packed up the leftovers for us to bring home. Ah, leftovers are my favorite. Let me rephrase that, leftover turkey sandwiches are my favorite.

Which brings me to this sandwich. Mr. H makes the best sandwiches and he's been making this one for me since we first started dating over 10 years ago. At first I thought he was weird and I deemed it a "white" thing that he would eat cranberry sauce on his sandwiches, but now I love 'em too. The only rule with this sandwich is that you have to use Miracle Whip. I don't generally like MW, as I prefer Hellman's Mayonnaise but in this sandwich it works because it's slightly sweet and tangy and compliments the jellied cranberry sauce. I've tried real mayo here and it's just not that great. But you use what you like just be sure to pile on the goods.

Turkey & Cranberry Sauce Sandwiches
  1. Toast (top)
  2. Miracle Whip
  3. Jellied Cranberry Sauce
  4. Fresh Leftover Turkey
  5. Miracle Whip
  6. Toast (bottom)

Turkey Day is also the day we got Autumn, our Turkey Dog. We're so thankful to have her in our lives. In this picture (right after I stepped in poop!) she was looking for squirrels in the bushes. I love you sweet girl!

Anyone go shopping today? What did ya get? How was your Thanksgiving? I wanna know!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Red Jewel Bliss and My Thanksgiving Menu

As promised, here's the recipe for Apple Cranberry Sauce. I found it in the November 2009 issue of Food & Wine and it caught my eye almost immediately because the original title of this recipe was Jellied Cranberry Sauce. I love jellied cranberry sauce- even the canned sauce. And my husband loves it too because he can slice it and put it in his leftover turkey sandwiches. Stop cringing.

So this was the recipe I was going to make this year and I did. The recipe was supposed to gel up because of all the natural pectin in the apple which I thought was great because it didn't contain gelatin. Notice I said "supposed" to gel. That's because it didn't really turn out the way it was supposed to. The recipe called for A Fuji apple but I used a Granny Smith because that's what I had on hand. Perhaps Fuji apples contain more pectin than Granny Smith???

The cranberry sauce did firm up a bit more than traditional sauces but it was by no means "jellied". The pictures I took here are on my crystal cranberry dish but I think I'll serve it in a compote dish instead. Does anyone else have one of these? The cranberry dish I have comes with a silver spoon and is supposed to be a serving piece for canned jellied cranberry sauce. This came from Mr. H's late grandmother and is at least 30 years old. I think it's so retro.

Regardless of the cranberry sauce not being as jellied as I expected it was still really good. It was tart and tangy and not too sweet. The apples added a nice texture though their flavor was subtle. It was thick and chunky very much like a jam and would make a nice filling in cake!

(Not So) Jellied Apple Cranberry Sauce from Food & Wine

  • One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 large Fuji apple, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water

Line an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap and spray the plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries with the apple, sugar and water. Bring to a boil and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently until the cranberries are completely broken down and the sauce is very thick, about 15 minutes.

Scrape the cranberry sauce into the prepared pan and refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours.

Invert the jelly onto a serving plate and remove the plastic wrap. Garnish with fresh cranberries and rosemary sprigs. Slice with a serrated knife before serving.

NOTE: The cranberry sauce can be covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Serve chilled.

Mr. H and I are spending Thanksgiving with his parents. My MIL insists on cooking everything herself because (and I quote) "Thanksgiving dinner is the easiest meal to make" but I had to put my foot down when she said she was picking up store bought pies! Does she not know me?

Here is our Thanksgiving Menu:

  • Roasted Turkey
  • Cornbread Dressing
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Glazed Carrots
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Egg Gravy (A can of cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, chicken broth to thin, 4 boiled and chopped eggs and a teaspoon or two of dried basil- delish!)
  • Apple Cranberry Sauce
  • Chocolate Chip Pecan Pies
  • Cranberry Orange Muffins
  • Cherry Cream Cheese Pie
  • Cranberry Freeze
  • Sid's Slush (A combination of mashed bananas, crushed pineapple and ginger ale- frozen til slushie)

What's on your Turkey Day menu? Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Thought You'd Never Ask

You wanted to know what I had to go with that lovely Pumpkin Spice Latte didn't you? Oh wait you didn't ask- ha ha! but I'm gonna tell you anyway :-)

I made cranberry orange muffins- 00h yes! I saw the recipe for Cranberry Bread on Confections of A Foodie Bride last week and it looked so good, only I didn't want to be responsible for eating an entire loaf of bread by myself so I made them into mini and full size muffins. I mentioned that I made a birthday cake over the weekend, well I needed a 9x13 pan with straight sides and I didn't have one so I borrowed one from my neighbor. To show my thanks, I sent over half a dozen of these muffins.

The recipe calls for whole cranberries but since I was making them into minis I decided to cut them into halves and the larger ones into quarters. Accompanying the tart berries is orange zest and juice. They were moist, tart, slightly sweet, light in texture and low in fat. There's only 2 tablespoons of shortening in this recipe and the rest of the moisture is derived from an egg and almost a full cup of orange juice. These would be perfect for Thanksgiving morning or for snacking on throughout the day.

Cranberry Orange Muffins adapted from COFB

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp shortening
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup cranberries, cut in half
  • 3/4 cups pecans, chopped and toasted (optional- I left these out)
  • 1/4 cup demerera sugar

Preheat oven to 350. With nonstick spray coat your muffin tins and set aside.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in the bowl of your stand mixer. Turn on medium and add shortening until combined. Add orange juice, orange zest, and egg. Mix until well-blended. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Portion out your batter into muffin cups filling each one no more than 2/3 full. Spread demerera sugar evenly over the top.

Bake mini muffins for 12 minutes and regular muffins for 17 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Make 24 mini muffins and 9 regular muffins.

On a side note, here is my hairy girl waiting at the back door until I let her in. We usually leave the door cracked so when she's ready she can come in freely. But occasionally she just stands there and waits for us to give her permission to come in. Today she manged to get a foot in but she stayed there and looked at me until I told her it was okay to come in. What a ding dong!

Stay tuned for Apple Cranberry Sauce!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Man, I had a busy weekend. I spent all day (from 1-10pm) Friday making and assembling a themed birthday cake for the boys I nanny for. Then on Saturday, Mr. H and I went to the birthday party, did a little shopping and crashed at the end of the day. First thing this morning I got up and made myself a steamin' pumpkin spice latte. It was much needed.

I'm addicted to the pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks. I order a grande with two pumps of syrup not three. I like to wait for the whipped cream to melt into the steamy beverage before I take my first sip. Then I hold the warm paper cup in both hands and pretend I'm in cooler surroundings, preferable where there's snow outside and a crackling fire inside. My friend does the same only she looks through the LLBean catalog while sipping her cuppa jo.

I got inspiration to make my own latte from My Baking Adventures but I didn't use her recipe. I used very strong coffee, half and half and sugar in the raw as a starting point for this beverage because that's how any cup of coffee in this household gets made. Then I added pureed pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla to the concoction. Only to be topped off with whipped cream (from a can- don't judge!), a sprinkling of even more pumpkin pie spice and a cinnamon stick.

Need a calming moment to yourself? Make this latte, sit in your favorite cozy chair, grab the LLBean Christmas catalog and start making your list. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Latte from Monica H

  • 1 cup double strength brewed coffee
  • 1/3 cup half-n-half
  • 2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar in the raw
  • 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract


  • whipped cream
  • pumpkin pie spice
  • cinnamon stick

Combine coffee, half-n-half, pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a small saucepan. Bring to a high simmer (just before boiling), whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour into a mug, and top with whipped cream, pumpkin pie spice and a cinnamon stick.

Makes one large serving.

Refill as needed.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sugar, Sugar and More Sugar

It's Cake Slice time. Or is it time for a slice of cake? Either way, I have one for you! This is our second cake baked from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott. This months cake was a Burnt Sugar Cake which is different from caramel cake in that the burnt sugar syrup is incorporated into the cake and the frosting. In a typical caramel cake the caramel is just on the outside of the cake in the frosting while the cake itself is either white or yellow.

The burnt sugar syrup is made by melting and caramelizing white sugar then by adding boiling water to the golden goo. You then cook it down until the sugar and water become one. It took about 20 minutes for this to happen but it can be made in advance and waiting for you until you're ready to made the cake.

The cake itself was dense and sweet and slightly caramely. It was almost like the flavor of brown sugar. It was subtle in flavor but moist and delicious. The frosting came together really quickly though I thought it was way too sweet. It was like a really thick glaze in that the powdered sugar was combined with vanilla, a little butter and evaporated milk and the burnt sugar syrup. You mix it all up and frost your cake. It was simple but I didn't feel there was enough liquid in it to dissolve the sugar resulting in the texture being a little granular.

I'd make this cake again but I'd frost it with a different frosting. I wonder if it could be baked into a bundt and drizzled with a burnt sugar glaze? mmm.

Burnt Sugar Cake from Southern Cakes

printable version

Burnt Sugar Syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water

Heat the sugar in a cast iron skillet or another heavy bottomed pan with high sides. Heat over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts into a clear brown caramel syrup. It should be the colour of tea. Gradually add the boiling water, pouring it down the sides of the pan so that if the syrup foams and bubbles up, you should be protected.

Continue cooking, stirring often, until the water combines with the syrup and turns a handsome brown syrup. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Store the cooled syrup in a sealed jar if not using right away.

Burnt Sugar Cake:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup Burnt Sugar Syrup (recipe above)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and stir with a fork to mix well. Stir the vanilla into the milk.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and the sugar with an electric mixer at high speed for 2 – 3 minutes, until they are well combined. Stop now and then to scrape the bowl down. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well each time. Pour in half a cup of the burnt sugar syrup and beat well. Add a third of the flour mixture and about half of the milk, beating at a low speed, until just incorporated. Mix in another third of the flour and the rest of the milk. Finally, add the remaining flour.

Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes until the cakes are golden brown, spring back when touched gently in the centre and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out the cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.

NOTE: I cut the recipe in half and baked it into 2 6-inch pans.

Burnt Sugar Frosting:

  • 3¾ cups confectioners sugar
  • ½ cup Burnt Sugar Syrup (above)
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 – 3 tbsp evaporated milk or normal milk

In a large bowl, combine the confectioners sugar, the burnt sugar syrup, butter and vanilla. Beat with a mixer at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl now and then to bring the ingredients together. Add 2 tablespoons of the milk and continue beating until the frosting is thick, soft, smooth and easy to spread. Add a little more sugar if it is thin, and a little more milk if it is too thick.

To Assemble:

Place one layer, top side down, on a cake stand or serving plate. Scoop about ¾ cup of the frosting onto the cake. Spread to the edges and place the second cake layer over it, top side down. Frost the sides of the cake, and then the top until it is evenly covered.

Be sure to visit the other Cake Slice Bakers and see how they did!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Casserole In Cake Form

I made this cake for my boss' birthday last month. She kept eyeing the sweet potato cupcakes that are in Martha's Cupcake book, but she's not a fan of cupcakes. So I took my Cinderella Pumpkin Cake and substituted the canned pumpkin for canned mashed sweet potatoes. Then I added marshmallows, pecans and a sprinkle of brown sugar, then TORCHED it!

My husband bought this butane torch for me. I've been wanting one for a while but I have a hard time buying myself anything because I always convince myself that I don't need it. We picked this one out together at Home Depot along with a butane canister. Much cheaper than if purchased from a kitchen store and just as effective. I was worried about the butane not being food safe, but I called Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table and they both recommended the Butane cartridge from the home improvement store.

I was scared to torch the marshmallows at first but it was so much fun. Even Mr. H wanted in on the action! This cake was moist and spicy and tasted like a sweet potato casserole. It was like Thanksgiving in your mouth. From the one recipe, I was able to make an 8-inch cake as well as 6 mini bundts. You could also bake this in a large bundt or tube pan and top it with a marshmallow sauce, mmm! My boss says this is her favorite cake I have made to date and she tells me every other day :-)

Sweet Potato Cake from Monica H
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-15 oz. can mashed sweet potatoes or 2 cups baked and pureed sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • mini marshmallows, brown sugar, chopped pecans for topping

Beat sugar and eggs til well blended and light in color. Add oil, continuing to beat. Combine dry ingredients to egg mixture. Add sweet potatoes, mix well. Pour into greased 9" bundt pan or 2 9-inch pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes (for bundt, less for the 9-inch pans). Let stand in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto baking rack or platter and allow to cool completely.

Top with mini marshmallows, a sprinkling of brown sugar and chopped pecans. Toast marshmallows with a kitchen torch or place cake on a cookie sheet and place under a low broiler for a minute or so until golden. Or drizzle with a simple glaze.

Whether you make this cake with sweet potatoes and top it with marshmallows and nuts or make it with pumpkin and a cream cheese frosting in bundt form, this cake is moist and delicious and would be perfect at Thanksgiving.

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