Pumpkin Spiiiiiiiiiiiiiice Tiiiiiiiiime!

I think anyone who took the time to browse my pinterest or my cupboards in the Fall would immediately realize I’m one of those people other people make fun of for really enjoying the emergence of pumpkin spice EVERYTHING in the Fall. I don’t apologize for it. It’s just what I like. I get a lot of joy out of this time of year – I’m not sweaty and hot when I take my walks, I like the colors changing subtly all over the Valley, I like being able to wear the sweaters/scarves that I spend all my time knitting. It makes my hard little heart so very happy. I also like all the pumpkin spice. I have yet to make it to “the city” to hit up a Starbucks for my annual PSL, but I did impulse buy a bag of pumpkin shaped pumpkin spice marshmallows at the grocery store the other day. And immediately came home and was like “what the hell am I going to do with these??” I’ll figure that out later. But in the meantime, I ran across several donut recipes on Pinterest and this one popped up and I realized I hadn’t yet test run my donut pan AND I found a jar of pumpkin pie spice so I thought SUNDAY FUNDAY DONUTS.

Browned Butter (Pumpkin Spice!) Donuts 
adapted from Joy the Baker 

You Need:

1 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons butter
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat the oven to 350. Grease a 6-donut donut pan. In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through the sugar listed above). In a small saucepan, carefully brown the butter (google a tutorial on how to do this if you’re not sure how). Immediately transfer the butter to a small bowl. Let it cool for a couple of minutes. In another small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and vanilla. Add in 2 Tablespoons of the cooled browned butter and mix together. Immediately add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until everything is combined with no streaks of flour left, but don’t over mix. Spoon batter evenly into the donut wells. Just a quick note: I did use all the batter for all six holes as the recipe stated and mine overflowed a bit. I cut away the overflowed bits and they didn’t end up having a hole in the center, but it still turned out tasty and nicely textured. Bake until the cake springs back at you when you lightly press your finger on the donuts and they’re lightly browned. Take ’em out, let them cool a bit, then glaze. I used that leftover tablespoon of browned butter whisked with some powdered sugar, a pinch of salt, some vanilla, and milk added slowly and in very small quantities until it was the texture I wanted. The original recipe has a recipe for chocolate glaze (and sprinkles!). I may try that next time…


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a simple supper

I’m still in such a food funk lately. I’m still eating a lot because I do like to eat but I’m just not into the planning and preparing part of eating much lately. I’d rather fight with knitting the sleeve on a sweater or finish off a pair of socks instead of getting up and actually cooking. This week I’ve made things a lot easier on myself by just making a ton of Mexican food and/or actually preparing some of those pinterest recipes I’ve got in my Foodie Stuff board (there’s 377 pins on that board so there’s honestly no reason why I’m having so much trouble coming up with menus). I’ve been browsing the Hispanic Kitchen site a lot lately because if left to my own devices, I default to tacos tacos tacos enchiladas more tacos. There are a ton of super delicious and different recipes for me there. Tonight’s dinner was one such meal: super simple, super flavorful, super fast. Because the sooner I can get back to my knitting, the happier I am.

Carne en su Jugo 
recipe from Sonia Mendez Garcia

You Need:

skirt steak, cut into inch long pieces
salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, ground coriander
tomatillos, rinsed well with husks and stems off
garlic cloves (a couple)
white or yellow onion, chopped
big handful of cilantro, chopped
a couple serranos
water or chicken broth
cooked pinto beans
onion and cilantro and avocado and lime for garnishing
warmed corn tortillas for serving

Put your tomatillos, your serranos, and whole garlic cloves into a pot, cover with water, and boil until the tomatillos are soft. Place them in a blender or food processor with chopped onions, some cilantro, salt, pepper, a little water or chicken stock (eyeball it to get the texture you want) and puree until everything’s smooth and kind of watery. Set aside.

Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large pot. Season the beef chunks with salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and coriander. Add the beef to the pot and let them brown. Once seared, add in your pureed tomatillo mixture along with some water or chicken stock. Taste to see if you need to add more seasonings (I added a bit more salt and cumin and garlic powder to mine), cover with a lid, and let it simmer for a bit (the recipe states to let it simmer for an hour – I think mine went for like 30 minutes total and it was just fine). In the last 10 minutes or so of cooking, add in like a cup of cooked pinto beans and let them warm through. Ladle into bowls with plenty of the broth, garnish with chopped white onion and cilantro and avocado slices and squeeze some lime juice over everything. Eat with hot corn tortillas. I expected leftovers of this – there were none. It was very, very tasty and quick.


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A Quickie – Christmas Treats Edition

Every year it gets a bit easier to get my Christmas treats and gifts ready. By October, my list of what I want to make is done and by November it’s pared way down or changed entirely. Since I’ve got vacation time to burn this month, I’ve gotten a little ambitious in my Christmas treat-ing and settled on a bunch of different recipes than I usually do every year. Today I made two batches of cookie dough for the freezer (they’ll just need baked and packed then shipped on one of my upcoming days off), a batch of coffee caramel fudge for gifting, my ever-present Chex Mix that I basically survive on from mid November until January, and since I am still completely and thoroughly obsessed with hot chocolates, I made these hot chocolate truffles to pack with a small box of treats I’ll be giving each of my co-workers at our Christmas party. The boxes will also have pan de polvo in them, which I haven’t made since my wedding almost 9 (!) years ago. I find these truffles a bit easier to do up than the usual powdered cocoa mix. If you’re in need of a quick gift, this fits that bill perfectly.

Hot Chocolate Truffles
recipe from Your Cup of Cake

You Need:
2 3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
peppermint candy canes, crushed very finely, mini marshmallows

Heat all the ingredients (except the candy canes and marshmallows) in a pot over low heat and stir together until everything is melted. Scrape the chocolate into a bowl and pop it in the fridge until it cools and can be scooped. It took me a couple of hours at least to get to that point. Scoop two tablespoons worth of the chocolate mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet (or whatever will fit into your freezer) and freeze for about 30 minutes to an hour. Roll the scoops into balls and roll in the crushed candy canes or the marshmallows. Keep them refrigerated. To use them, heat up  about 1 1/2 cups milk and stir a truffle into the cup until it melts. Enjoy!

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Such Pumpkin. Much Fall Flavor. Wow.

I know people like to bitch about pumpkin everything come Fall, but I look forward to it. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin pie, the pumpkin French toast I’ve got cooking away on the griddle at the moment. I love it. I also love bringing treats to work and this one went over very, very well. It was very tender and I love those spices.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread 
recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking

You Need:
3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups pumpkin
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350. I greased one large loaf pan and 2 smaller ones. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt. In another bowl, mix together the pumpkin, oil, eggs, water, and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix together until everything is combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into your pans. Bake until a tester comes out clean (it took about an hour, a little less for the smaller loaves). Let it cool before you slice it up.



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Brownie Heaven

I’ll be honest, it almost physically hurts to give these brownies away. But for the sake of family and birthdays, I must. And I won’t even fight about it. What I will do though, is most likely make myself a small pan because holy moly are these brownies decadent and delicious. There’s really no way that chocolate and homemade caramel sauce and a drizzle of ganache can ever be bad though, is there? 

Birthday Turtle Brownies 
brownies recipe from Epicurious
caramel sauce & ganache recipe from Joy of Baking

You Need:

10 Tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups sugar 
3/4 cups and 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 vanilla 
2 eggs 
1/2 cup flour 

Caramel sauce
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup 
2 1/2 Tablespoons water 
light pinch of salt 
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans 

2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips 
1/4 heavy cream 

Spray an 8 inch baking pan or line it with foil or parchment and spray that. Heat the oven to 350. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a heavy bottom pan. Heat all this on medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter is melted and everything is all melded together. Don’t do this on super hot heat because let’s not burn our brownie stuff, mmkay? Set the concoction aside and let it cool until just it’s not hot anymore (slightly warm is okay). Stir in the the two eggs and beat it in there until it’s all combined. Then add the vanilla and stir together. Then stir in the flour until it’s all incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake it until it’s puffed and a tester comes out mostly clean (i.e. not wet with batter but moist-ish with brownie crumbs is fine). The recipe says 20-25 minutes but I don’t think mine took that long, honestly. It was more like 15 minutes. 

After we take our brownies out and let them sit to cool for a bit, we’ll make the caramel sauce. In a heavy bottomed pan, combine the 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon of sugar, the corn syrup, water, and salt together. Heat this over medium heat, stirring constantly so nothing burns, and bring it to a boil. When it starts boiling, stop stirring and let it just cook until it turns golden brown. Go ahead and swirl that pan once in awhile so nothing burns. And don’t leave to go do something else while this is happening because sugar can go from bubbling happily away to a burnt friggin’ mess in no time at all. Once the sugar mixture is all brown and pretty, turn off the heat and carefully add in the heavy cream and vanilla. Don’t stand over the pan while you’re doing this or you’re going to get a face full of steam and whatnot and that hurts, man. Do stir that stuff into the sugar mixture and dump in the pecans and stir it all together. At this point, your brownies should be out of the oven and cooling. Immediately pour the caramel sauce over the top of the brownies and if it needs a little coaxing to cover the entire pan, go ahead and use a spoon to lightly spread it around. 

Let that cool to room temp and go ahead and make your ganache. Set the chocolate chips in a bowl on the counter and in another bowl, heat the cream in the microwave until it’s bubbly and immediately pour it over your chocolate chips. Stir stir stir until the chocolate melts. Drizzle that shit all over them brownies. Let that stuff cool entirely to room temp then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Cut into bars and eat. Or give it to your father in law for his birthday. 


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Winter Treat

 I made this hot cocoa mix with every intention of giving it out in little jars for Christmas treat gifts but then I tasted it and since I’m nothing if not spectacularly selfish, I hoarded it all for myself. The end. 

Mocha Cocoa Mix 
recipe from Better Homes and Gardens

You need:
3 cups nonfat dry milk powder 
1 1/2 cups sugar 
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder 
2/3 cups instant espresso powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 cup chocolate chips

Buzz everything together in the food processor until it is all a nice, finely ground powder. To make your cocoa, heat a mugful of milk or water until very hot, stir in some cocoa mix. The official recipe says to use 1/3 a cup but that seemed like a lot to me. I do fine with just two heaping tablespoons full. Top with marshmallows or whipped cream. Give some away as a gift if you must. Or hoard it for yourself; I’m not judging. What I like about this mix is that it’s not spectacularly sweet (until you add your mallows or your cream). It’s warming and has that lovely coffee flavor I so adore. It’s a nice little sipping treat while knitting. 


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Thanksgiving, in Pictures

hanksgiving Prime Rib (I wish I had taken a picture of it sliced up because man, it was so amazingly tender and delicious. Erik did a great job making it on the smoker).

Rustic Potato Rolls 


steamed carrots with herb butter & green bean casserole 



Gluten free dressing (simple dressing recipe with onions, celery, mushrooms, chicken stock, sage, thyme, salt, pepper, hot chicken stock, and diced up gluten free bread – the bulk of which was comprised of Udi’s gluten free baguettes but I also used the end pieces of a loaf of Udi’s gluten free multi grain bread)



Gluten free sweet potato pie on left, pumpkin pie with buttermilk crust on right 

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dinnertime blahs

It’s been so difficult to get excited about dinner lately. I don’t feel much like eating or coming up with menus so we’ve been winging it a lot. For this dinner, I made it because I read a description of it on XoJane and since it sounded very good and very easy (if I’m not stuck in the kitchen for hours, I have more time to knit things and that is very, very good) so I made it. The End.

Pork Belly with Black Beans, Onions and Avocado

You need:
a smallish pork belly (we happened to have a piece that was the perfect size for the two of us plus some leftovers I can use for tortas)
ground cumin
ground coriander
kosher salt, pepper
garlic (either powder or slices of fresh, I used powder because I’m lazy)
black beans (I like my low sodium cans of black beans but feel free to make your own with dry beans)
white onion, diced
Jalapeño or serrano, chopped
garlic cloves, minced
avocado, diced
chopped cilantro, salsa, corn tortillas for serving

Trim up your pork belly if you need to but leave a decent size fat cap on it. Score the fat. In a bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin and coriander. Spread this mixture all over both sides of the belly. Cover with plastic and let it hang out in the fridge overnight (or 12-14 hours). When ready to bake, set your oven to 425. Let the belly hang out on the counter while you wait for the oven to heat. Place it in a roasting pan and let it roast at 425 for an hour. After an hour, drop the temp to 300 and baste the belly a little with the rendered fat. Let it bake until a knife inserted into the belly goes in real easy. It should be tender and really nice and browned and yummy.

For the beans: in a pan, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Saute your onions, jalapeño, and garlic until the onions are softened. Dump in your black beans. Season with salt and pepper and cook until heated through. Serve the belly in slices with the black beans and with chopped onion, cilantro, avocado, salsa and corn tortillas.

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and if you have leftovers, make a torta:

Smear a crusty piece of bread with mashed black beans, top that with monterey jack cheese, add some sautéed onions to that, then layer heated up leftover pork belly slices on top of those, then top that with a fried egg. Smear the other half of your bread with mashed avocado. Eat.




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Goodbye Cake

Goodbyes suck. Even when they’re accompanied by cake. So we’re losing a fabulous nurse at my workplace. She has decided to leave cold, snowy Wyoming to live on the beach in California. I mean who in their right mind would make a decision like that? Leave all this for the beach? Smart people, that’s who. Still, I am going to sorely miss our current Public Health “dream team.” Our current group has been a really good fit for awhile now. It’s such a great change from working with people who exhaust and irritate you to working with people who make you happy to get out of bed and come to work just to see their faces (and I’ll admit it has been a boost to the old self esteem because Shelley laughs at all my jokes no matter how dumb they are. I am now and will always be thoroughly convinced that I am HILARIOUS. Shelley deems it so thus it is true.) So we couldn’t send her off with a store-bought cake so I made one. If you’re going to make a goodbye cake that will ensure that the person you are saying goodbye to will miss you, this is the one to make. It’s a perfect Fall cake, it’s dense yet moist with warm spices and it has all the components I know Shelley likes: carrots and cream cheese icing. I took a gamble that everyone would be okay with the presence of pumpkin because I have a suspicion that Erik is the only person I know who hates pumpkin with the fervor that he does. If anything, I hope the memory of this cake will mean she’ll come visit us on her trips home. I may make more of these in the future to make sure we can lure her back once in awhile. Cake as a Shelley lure. That works for me.



Pumpkin Carrot Cake
recipe by Ben Starr 

You Need:
to make a meringue first:
6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 Tablespoons sugar
In your mixer, place the egg whites. Fit the whisk attachment and let it start whipping up. Add the sugar slowly when it begins frothing, then add the cream of tartar. You’re looking for stiff peaks but don’t overheat it. Pop this in a small bowl and set it aside until you’re ready to add it to your batter.

For the cake:
2 sticks butter, softened at room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups pureed pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling please)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups grated carrots
2 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons  cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 Tablespoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt

Heat the oven to 350 and prepare your baking pans. I made this cake in a standard nonstick 9×13 rectangular pan and still had enough batter leftover for like, 4 cupcakes. Butter & flour (or use baking spray) and grease that thing like your life depends upon it. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together all your dry ingredients. Set aside. In your

(now clean) bowl of the stand mixer, cream the butter with the sugars until fluffy and well blended. Add in the egg yolks and beat until combined. Add in the pumpkin and vanilla and combine. Add your carrots and blend on low speed until combined. Then add your dry ingredients and blend until no traces of dry stuff are left. Add in the egg whites mixture gently with a spoon and stir until everything is all combined. Put your batter into whatever baking receptacle you’re using, smooth the top, pop it in the oven. Bake until a cake tester (my trusty toothpicks!) comes out clean. Let it cool for a few minutes then turn it out onto a cake plate or wherever it’s going to land when you finally ice it. Cool completely before you frost it.

I used a standard cream cheese frosting to frost it but apparently cream cheese frosting isn’t a very good decorating medium (too thick, wouldn’t pipe) so I ended up making a real quick buttercream to do up some roses on top and called it good. Use whatever recipe you like for frosting. But I do heartily recommend adding the following candied nuts to the cake. It pushes it way over the top from amazingly good to the most spectacular cake you’re likely to have ever eaten.

Candied Nuts
recipe also by Ben Starr

You need:1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon water

In a deep sided pan, combine everything and then bring to a boil and stirring constantly, let it boil until it is a deep brown. In candy terms you want hard crack stage which you can test by placing a drop of your mixture into a small cup of cold water. If that drop turns hard, then it’s ready. You have to be prepared

to work quickly here because sugar can burn fast. Anyway, when the mixture is ready pop 1/2 cup chopped pecans (or whatever kind of nut you’re into) into it and mix fast to get the nuts covered. Drop the nuts onto a greased sheet of parchment paper laid on a cookie sheet and let it cool completely. When it’s cooled, drop the hunk of candied nuts into a bag and beat it up to get chunks of candied nuts. Use this to decorate your cake. Or use a little of it to decorate and then eat the rest like a mad woman like I did. (Sorry I’m not sorry.)

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A Quickie

Boss’s Day muffins! Because, as I told Shel-dog, all edible gifts are great gifts. I liked these muffins so much that if I weren’t so pleased with having to wear smaller pants (because I’m not stuffing my face with delicious muffins on the reg) I would have seriously re-thought giving these away. Erik asked if he could have one and I turned into this guy while I firmly denied his request:




Nooooooooooooo muffins for you!

To be fair, they have gluten in them and they’re banana (which he hates) so it wouldn’t make sense to give him one even if I were so inclined to share these gloriously delicious treats. If you’re in need of a boss’s day gift, consider these! Or make them and eat them all yourself, I’m not judging. 

Banana Nut Muffins 
recipe from Love and Cupcakes

You Need:

2 cups flour 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
4 bananas (I used 3 large ones)
1  cup brown sugar 
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and cooled 
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1/2 cup pecans, chopped 

1/2 stick melted butter 
1/4 cup chopped pecans 
1/3 cup brown sugar 
1/4 cup flour 
pinch of salt 

Heat the oven to 375. Line 2 muffin pans with muffin papers. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, mash up two bananas. Toss the other banana(s) into the mixer and whip it with the brown sugar. Add in the melted butter, eggs, vanilla and combine. Mix in the dry ingredients then mix in the mashed bananas and nuts. Spoon into your prepared pans. 

To make the topping, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. I have to pause a second here because I realized, while typing this, that I made a mistake on my topping and instead of using 1/2 a stick of butter, I used a whole stick (1/2 cup) and that’s why my topping didn’t turn out crumbly like it’s supposed to. Instead mine was liquidy. Since I didn’t realize it at the time, I pressed on and spooned my liquid topping on my muffins and baked them that way. I thought they turned out SUPER FABULOUS. A tad messy, but certainly tasty because butter is a good thing. But if you want to do it right, your topping should be crumbly. Spoon your topping onto the muffins. Bake for 20ish minutes until the muffins are cooked through. 



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