Tag Archives: Fall

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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Cheesy Pumpkin Polenta


Don’t you hate when a recipe calls for less than the full can of pureed pumpkin? I’ve thrown away more 3 month old half-cups of pumpkin puree than I can even tell you. So after making these gems last weekend, I found myself with the age old conundrum: what to do with the extra pumpkin?

DUH. You add cheese. Why do I even bother contemplating?

I can’t lie to you, I ate this straight from the bowl with a spoon and I didn’t apologize for it one tiny bit. But it would also be stupendous as a bed for pork chops with sauteed apples or pulled pork or grilled chicken with roasted tomatoes. Am I right, or am I right?

On the menu:
Cheesy Pumpkin Polenta
Serves 2

1/4 cup white onion, minced
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup whole milk (or half and half)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup polenta
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

In a small pan, heat 1 Tbsp butter over medium/low heat. Add onion and sautee until very soft, around 8 minutes. Stir in pumpkin and heat for another 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium sized saucepan, heat water, milk, salt, and pepper until it boils. Stir in polenta in a gradual, thin stream, whisking constantly. Turn heat to low and continue cooking for 4 – 5 minutes.

Stir pumpkin/onion mixture into the milk and water mixture and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes until hot and combined. Remove from the heat and stir in remaining butter and grated cheese. Serve immediately.

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Roasted Cauliflower Salad


This is a salad that I tasted for the first time at one of my favorite restaurants in New York, Otto. My only hang up is that the original calls for olives, which I loathe. When I made this I left the olives out but you could easily chop up and add 16 Kalamata olives during the last step to make it a truly authentic Mediterranean dish.

On the menu:
Roasted cauliflower salad
Serves 4 as a side

1 large head of cauliflower (around 3 lbs)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp capers
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

Clean stem and leaves off of the head of cauliflower. Chop cauliflower into bite sized pieces with flat sides (this just makes roasting and caramelizing easier). Rinse in a colander and shake off as much excess water as possible.

Toss cauliflower in a large bowl with olive oil and black pepper. Spread in one layer on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Flip cauliflower with tongs and roast for another 10 – 20 minutes until your pieces are golden brown and softened.

Spread cauliflower on a plate in one layer so that it cools down a bit.

In a large bowl, add capers, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and a healthy pinch of salt. Add cauliflower and toss to coat. (This is where you would add your chopped olives if you wanted)

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Pumpkin Ginger Soup

‘Tis the season to cook with pumpkin. You’ve been bombarded by orange at the farmer’s market, inundated with pumpkin recipes from your daily email recipe newsletters, and overwhelmed by Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts commercials featuring pumpkin flavored everything. I would say it’s cliche, but really… it’s just delicious. Below is an incredibly easy recipe that yields a flavorful soup that would serve as a lovely first course to any fall meal, or as a hearty lunch with crusty bread on the side. Don’t hold back, friends… give in to the power of pumpkin.

On the menu:
Pumpkin Ginger Soup
Serves 4
Adapted from this recipe at Yumm.com

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp ginger, finely grated (or use 1 Tbsp ginger powder)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 15-oz. cans of pumpkin puree
3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp Sriracha (or similar hot sauce)

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 8 – 10 minutes. Add garlic and ginger, cook for another 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper, pumpkin, stock, cream, and hot sauce. Stir until combined and turn down heat until the soup is simmering. Simmer for 25 minutes, occasionally stirring. Use an immersion blender to blend* in the pot, or pour soup into a standing blender and blend until completely pureed. Replace soup in the pot and heat until hot and ready to serve. Top with crunchy pumpkin seeds if desired.

*Note: you don’t necessarily have to blend this soup, but I found the crunchy onions distracting so I ended up blending the entire pot after I ate one bowl. It was much creamier and much more flavorful after all. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of dirtying your blender, though, it’ll still be delicious without the blending.

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