Tag Archives: Autumn

How to Use Pumpkin Pie Spice (aside from a pumpkin pie…)

We all have spices in our cupboards that we never use. I personally have a shaker of garam masala that I used once two years ago and haven’t touched since. Well… there was one time I mistook it for nutmeg. Needless to say those pancakes ended up in the trash.

You probably use your pumpkin pie spice once a year at Thanksgiving, but during this pumpkin-y time of year why not pull it out for some unorthodox uses? Not that the below are TOO out of the box, but perhaps they’re new and exciting to you. I do hope that’s the case.

Maple brown butter pumpkin spice popcorn

On the menu:
Maple brown butter pumpkin spice popcorn
Serves 2

1/2 cup unpopped corn kernels
3 Tbsp butter
2 tsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Pop the popcorn in an air popper.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Watch the mixture closely as the color turns from white and yellow to a light brown. As soon as the butter is a light brown color, turn off the heat. Mix in the maple syrup and the pumpkin pie spice and stir to combine.

Pour half the mixture over the popcorn and toss to coat. Pour remaining butter mixture over the popcorn and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Pancakes with sauteed apples with maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice

On the menu:
Pancakes with apples sauteed with maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice
Serves 2

2 small apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Make pancakes according to this recipe.

In a small frying pan, melt butter over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add apple slices and stir to coat. Cook apples for approximately 5 minutes or until they soften. Add maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Stir to combine. Cook for another 2 – 3 minutes or until mixture is heated through. Top pancakes with sauteed apples and serve.

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Banana Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

Banana cupcakes
I think fall has to be my favorite season. Not only can we start wearing cozy sweaters and soft leather boots, but fall food is basically comprised of “comfort” food: donuts, apple cider, hot soup, cheesy pasta… God, I can feel my saddle bags growing by the minute! Blissful.

These cupcakes are truly delicious with this frosting but if you wanted to leave the frosting off you could easily call them muffins and eat them for breakfast. Or you could eat them for breakfast with the frosting. Ain’t no shame.

On the menu:
Banana Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 16 cupcakes
Cupcake recipe dapted from this recipe on AllRecipes.com

Cupcakes:
3 large very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp buttermilk*

In a large bowl, blend bananas and sugar with an electric mixer. Add in eggs one at a time and blend until completely combined. Add vegetable oil and blend until the mixture is completely blended, about 2 – 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour with the baking soda. Add to wet mixture and stir with a spoon to combine. Add buttermilk and stir to combine.

Line a cupcake tin with paper liners. Fill each cup about 3/4 full. Bake for 25 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one cupcake comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
16 pecan halves

In a small bowl, beat butter with electric mixer. Add cream cheese and blend to combine. Add brown sugar and vanilla and blend to combine. Frost cupcakes and top with a single pecan if desired.

*If you don’t have buttermilk, combine 2 1/2 Tbsp of regular milk with 1 tsp lemon juice and stir to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes and then use as directed.

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Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting by LaurenFoodE
I don’t have to tell you about my problem with late night cakes. There really should be some sort of “Late Night Cakes Anonymous” group or something. In any case, it’s putting a reeeeeal damper on Project Lose That Holiday Weight. I may or may not have gained a small amount of weight due to excessive holiday eating (namely chimichangas and In N Out and Jack In the Box, all of which I blame on The BF and his SoCal roots). And I made one of those stupid New Year’s resolutions that I was going to get healthy in 2013, finally join the gym across the street from me, and stop eating as if I was hosting an un-televised version of Man Vs. Food.

But here’s a short story about me: The BF, being a stand up comic, works weekends and a lot of nights I find myself alone with nothing to keep me warm but a kitchen just begging to be baked in. My pantry had pumpkin, my fridge had cream cheese, and I had a recipe and a dream. You know what that means… pumpkin cake.

On the menu:
Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting
Makes one 9 x 13 cake

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
2 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend together the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir together until combined. Pour into an ungreased 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting:
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Blend together all ingredients with an electric mixer until combined. When cake is completely cooled, spread frosting evenly over top. Refrigerate cake until serving.

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Bacon, Spinach and Chicken Stew


One of the (many) pitfalls of being unemployed is that now the weather is cold and gloomy and I have even less motivation to leave the apartment than I did before (which is truly frightening). One of the fantastic things about being unemployed is the colossal amount of time I have on my hands to dream up and cook delicious things. I’m like Jerry Seinfeld. It all evens out.

I’ve been dying to make soup lately and this was easy and used up lots of things I already had in my house. You could use this recipe if you still have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, or bookmark it for Christmas leftovers.

On the menu:
Bacon, Spinach and Chicken Stew
Serves 4
Adapted from this recipe from The Kitchn

1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
4 strips of bacon, diced into thin slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz. baby spinach
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 – 5 cups chicken stock
Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat and add bacon. Cook until most of the fat is rendered and the bacon is almost crisp. Add garlic and stir, cooking for 1 minute. Add baby spinach and stir until completely coated in bacon fat. Sprinkle spinach with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes or until spinach is wilted down. Add cooked chicken and stir to coat in fat. Cook for 5 minutes until mixture is completely heated through. Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes at a simmer.

Serve in big soup bowl and sprinkle grated cheese over the top.

Note: The sandwich in that picture is a delectable prosciutto with melted mozzarella and balsamic marinated cherry tomatoes on challah rolls. And yes… it was as good as it looks.

Last Note (promise): I don’t know why this is a stew and not a soup, but to me it’s a stew because there’s more stuff than broth. You feel me? Ok good.

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Three Cheese Fettuccine


The weather in New York suddenly turned cool which immediately puts me into comfort food mode. What’s better than a chilly Sunday tucked inside with football on TV and a plate of creamy, cheesy pasta in your lap? As much as I love summer fruit, fall is definitely my favorite season for food. Bring on the winter weight!

*Note: this recipe can be made with any spaghetti/fettuccine/linguine type pasta, but it would be best with tagliatelle. I made this first with tagliatelle and a second time, as pictured, with fettuccine. If you can find tagliatelle, use that but most standard grocery stores don’t carry it.

On the menu:
Three Cheese Fettuccine
Serves 2

4 oz pancetta, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 pound fettuccine
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup mascarpone
1 1/2 cups Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, freshly grated
2 eggs
2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (optional garnish)

Set a large pot of water to boil. In another large pot set over medium heat, add the pancetta. Cook,
stirring frequently, until the pancetta is crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. While the pancetta is cooking, add pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook according the instructions on the box.

Remove the pancetta from the pan once it’s crisped up and add the shallots. Cook until the shallots are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain off any excess fat.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta through a colander, reserving 1½ cups of the pasta cooking water.

Add 2 Tbsp of the butter and black pepper to the shallots and pancetta. Stir constantly and cook for 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of the reserved pasta water and bring to a simmer. Add the mascarpone and whisk until incorporated. Add the Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses, stirring until the cheese is melted. Add the pasta and heat until the pasta is cooked through, adding more pasta water if necessary. Season with additional pepper and set aside.
Make the eggs: In a medium skillet set over medium heat, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. Carefully add the eggs and fry until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny, about 4 minutes.

Divide the pasta between two bowls and top each with a fried egg. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

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Pumpkin Muffins: Easier Than They Look… Unless You’re Me.


Saturday afternoon I went grocery shopping and tossed a can of pumpkin into my cart on a whim. I. Love. Pumpkin. And I’ve been dreaming of pumpkin muffins so Sunday morning when I saw that new can of pumpkin in my pantry, I thought, What the heck. I found an easy peasy recipe on Smitten Kitchen and went to work. It took all of 15 minutes to throw this together, and then I was nestled in the couch with coffee, inhaling the scent of autumn coming from my oven. Took the muffins out at allotted time… heavy, dense, and uncooked. Back in the oven. Ten minutes later? Heavy, dense, and cooked. I tasted them. Huh. Kinda weird… Checked the recipe. …Oh. Baking powder. Yes, baking powder. Kind of a key ingredient in muffins, huh? Oh… and only ONE CUP of pumpkin. Not the whole can.

However, these babies aren’t bad. In fact, they’re actually pretty good. They’re just not what you think of when you think “light, fluffy pumpkin muffin”. They’re dense but incredibly moist, not too sweet, and would be perfect toasted with a little butter.

On the menu:
Pumpkin muffins
Makes 12
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 tsp baking powder [optional!]
1 1/2 cups flour
1 15-oz. can of pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 tsp plus 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together flour and baking powder. In a separate bowl, with a large whisk, combine pumpkin, oil, eggs, spices, sugar, baking soda, and salt together until combined. Whisk in flour mixture. Pour into greased or papered muffin tin until 3/4 filled.

Mix together 1 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp ground cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of the muffins. Bake for 28 – 32 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in tin for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

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Warm Me Up, I’m Chili

Beef and bean chili with coleslaw, jalapeno goat cheese cornbread, and pulled pork

Fall is by far my favorite season. Sweaters, boots, crispy apples, baked goods, pumpkins, leaves changing colors… hand me a Hudson Bay blanket and point me to the nearest easy chair, kids. It’s all I’ll ever need in this world.

Cue today’s Fall Football meal. I wanted to make something that would warm the bellies of the boys in my life, but also allow me to watch the games all day without standing over the stove for 6 hours straight. For the next few days I’ll be posting each individual recipe from this meal because they all turned out SO well. And by Friday you’ll be ready to make it all for your own football party on Sunday.

Beef and Bean Chili
Adapted from Epicurious.com
Serves 8

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped*
2 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, diced
2 15.25-ounce cans kidney beans. drained
14 ounces beef broth

Heat olive oil over medium/high heat in a large pot. Add onion and saute for around 6 minutes. Add jalapeno and garlic and saute for 1 minutes. Add ground beef and cook until the meat is browned. Add chili powder, paprika, and cinnamon, then mix in tomatoes with juices, kidney beans, and beef broth. Bring heat up to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let chili simmer for 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve chili in bowls with shredded cheese, sour cream, and/or chives.

*I used one jalapeno because I’m not a huge fan of spicy food. If you love spicy, you can add 3 jalapenos chopped with seeds.

Recipes for jalapeno goat cheese cornbread and coleslaw coming soon!

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