PUMPKIN WEEK: Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Frosting

*please excuse the pictures in this post.  I decided to make this cake at night after a few glasses of wine.  

Hello hello,

It’s time for another rendition of theme weeks and this week is brought to you by pumpkin!  (insert pumpkin foofaraw here)  Truth be told, it’s still 80 degrees in SoCal right now, so my mind is not registering “Pumpkin Week” quite yet.  However, in the spirit of team camaradarie, I decided to join the party with a pumpkin spice cake.

photo 4-001

I know you’re probably thinking, “Pumpkin spice cake?  Yawn.”  But let me tell you, this cake is a delicate balance of pumpkin, spices, and sweetness that you will want to add to your repertoire of “classic” recipes.

Now, in researching pumpkin spice cake, I found there were not many variations in recipes.  Some called for buttermilk or sour cream to moisten things up, but I felt like the pumpkin would create enough moisture on its own.  Other recipes went crazy on spices, but I wanted to let the pumpkin shine through.

This cake turned out perfect!  The cake was full of flavor and the sweetness of the maple frosting balanced with the spiciness of the cake.  I am definitely making this again for Thanksgiving.

For the cake, you will need:

  • 1.5 sticks softened butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2.5 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside (flour, baking soda, salt, spices).

The finest of supermarket spices.

The finest of supermarket spices.

Using a mixer, beat together butter and sugars until combined.  Add eggs one at a time and vanilla.  Beat until creamy.

wet pumpkin ingredients

Then add the canned pumpkin until just combined.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.

Pour batter into greased bundt pan (or use my pal, Comfortably Domestic’s handy baking pan conversion chart).  Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes (check with a toothpick).

pumpkin batter

For the frosting, you will need:

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbsp. maple syrup (I used the real maple syrup.  You might want to taste as you go if you are using the imitation stuff because it’s a little stronger.)
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar

Wait until the cake has cooled completely.

Beat butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and syrup together until creamy.

Add powdered sugar one cup at a time until it is as sweet as you would like.  I think I stopped at 3.5 cups, but I was eye-balling it.  I should stop doing that when I’m developing a recipe, but whatever.

Spread the frosting over the entire cake until it’s as perfect or messy as you like.  Mine was rather messy, as you can see.

frosted cake

-Mads

Please check out the other wonderful recipes for Pumpkin Week!

Monday:

Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Beka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen – Pumpkin Streusel Bread

Tuesday:
Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama – Pumpkin Pie Macarons
Jeanne @ Inside NanaBread’s Head – Hazelnut Pumpkin Waffles with Cinnamon Honey Butter

Wednesday:
Megan @ Country Cleaver – Mini No-Bake Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Crumble Topping
Allison @ Decadent Philistines – Pumpkin Marshmallows & Pumpkin Spice Syrup
Shanna @ Pineapple & Coconut – Creamy Maple Bacon Pumpkin Risotto

Thursday:
Anne @ From My Sweet Heart – Pumpkin Doughnuts with Cream Cheese Icing & Candied Pepitas
Kat @ Tenaciously Yours – Marbled Pumpkin Gingersnap Tart

Friday:
Madeline @ Munching in the Mitten – Savory Pumpkin Tart
Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain – Pumpkin Mousse with Candied Squash
Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Pumpkin Kiss Cookies

Saturday:
Beka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen – Pumpkin Scones
Monica @ The Grommom – Pumpkin Ice Cream

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Night Zoo Safari

Hey team,

I recently took a weekend getaway with Jonathan and some friends up to a cabin in the Big Bear mountains of California.  It’s a beautiful 2 hour trip and it was the closest to “Fall” I will experience out here.

We played games, chatted, watched spooky movies, hiked, and ate All. The. Things.

But the best experience of all was the night zoo safari at Big Bear Alpine Zoo!  This zoo was unique because almost all of the animals were rescued and the zoo provided them with a safe habitat.  For example, they took in 3 black bears that were on their 3rd strike for venturing into a town, which usually means death.  They also had a one-eyed eagle, a hawk with a broken wing, and a mountain lion that couldn’t survive in the wild.

For an animal lover, this place was incredible, but it gets better!

We act like we’re 5 years old, but that’s ok at NIGHT ZOO!

They give tours of the zoo at night by flashlight when all of the excitement happens!   Now, I will try to refrain from an excessive amount of exclamation points (it might already be excessive), but this was one of the coolest experiences of my life and I won’t easily forget it.

Since this was a smaller zoo, we really got up close and personal with the animals.  Most we could reach out and touch (but we wanted to keep all of our fingers, so we did not).

Jonathan hangs out with eagles all the time. What, you don’t?

Truly, the best part of the night was the wolves.  There were 9 wolves in total and they were up running around and howling like crazy.

This is poor picture quality, but it’s the best I could do with 15 roaming flashlights, a crowd, and a moving target.

The wolves reacted to the zookeeper just like Josie reacts to me coming home from a long day of work–lots of tail-wagging, licking, and jumping around.

These wolves still had their summer coats, so they look pretty scrawny. In a few weeks, I have no doubt they would look like the wolves from The Grey. haha Seriously though, those were some big wolves.

This video attempts to capture the volume of wolf howling that was happening, but it really doesn’t do it justice.  In fact, this whole post does not do the night zoo justice.

What’s your favorite animal to see at the zoo?  Have you ever gone on safari?

-Mads

TURKEY DAY!!!

I am making my first homemade bird.  I am going with Comfortably Domestic’s Citrus Herb Roasted Turkey recipe!

Luckily, the roasting pan came in the mail just in time.  Thanks, Pioneer Woman!

The corn bake is done (recipe soon to follow).

The stuffing is prechopped.

The bird is waiting for instructions.

My wine glass is full.

My fat pants are ready.

I’m getting my game face on:

"I wanna wear wipstick so I can wook wike a wady"

 

Can you tell this post was written with a glass of Riesling in hand?  Perhaps…

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

What’s your favorite dish at Thanksgiving?

-Mads

p.s. All posts tagged “I can’t remember” are posts I wrote while under the influence.  Have fun with that.

The Fall Five

Hello ladies and gents,

Given that it’s the middle of NOVEMBER (shocking, I know), I thought it was time to reexamine my progress with my five goals of Fall: The Fall Five.

1) Get myself a Fall haircut.  Status: mission complete!  I finally found a stylist in Long Beach that suits my tastes.  Amen.  My favorite part of the haircut?  When he said, “I don’t want to ruin the marriage for you or anything, but you know since he’s Chinese, his mother’s going to move in with you at some point.”  hahah

2) Learn more about DSLR cameras.  Status: behind schedule.  Ok, so I haven’t learned how to take pretty pictures, but I have learned what *most* of the buttons are for.  Baby steps, people.  Baby steps.  I also wrote a post on cropping, which hasn’t seemed to help much since.

My best picture to come out of my fall practice:

This might be more about the deliciousness of the pie than actual photography skills.

3) Complete a 5k without walking.  Status: in progress.  I took a spinning class to build up my endurance (biking translates to running farther, no?).  I’m not certain it worked, but I am certain of my butt bruises.  Must buy padded biking shorts.

4) Fully transition to a hosted domain.  Status: in progress.  I bought the domain, but I need help to move all of my old content over.  Jonathan is too busy with work to help, so I am attempting to wait patiently.  This is my passive aggressive message to him.

5) Taste all the wine possibilities for my wedding.  Status: abandon effort.  As part of my effort to live longer and lose significant weight, I’ve given up weeknight drinking.  This leaves no room for trying 10 new wines.  Believe me, I am more disappointed than you.  The good news?  I lost 5 pounds without doing anything else.  Amen.

How are your fall goals coming along?  

-Mads

Turkey decisions in time for Thanksgiving

I was going to post my day in Tweets, but last night I found out that I won Pioneer Woman’s giveaway for a turkey set!

I have never made a turkey before, let alone been in charge of the Thanksgiving turkey.  Now I don’t have any excuses because I have this:

Roaster

The fact that Jonathan’s family is Chinese works greatly in my favor because they don’t quite know what to expect with a Thanksgiving bird.  Their taste buds aren’t biased and expectant of an herb-buttered golden moist bird.

Which brings me to the point of how to make the Thanksgiving turkey.  The internet is SO divided on this topic.  Some are briners, some are basters, some use fresh fowl, some use frozen, some use herbs, some use citrus…there is just no way of knowing what is the best.

Here are some recipes I found that intrigued me (click on the photo for the original recipe and photo source):

Alton Brown's Good Eats Roast Turkey. This recipe uses some crazy aromatics like apple, onion, and cinnamon. With over 3000 reviews, this recipe is 5 stars.

Ree Drummond's favorite brine. This one uses apple juice, oranges, and peppercorns. Such creativity! This one didn't get the same stellar reviews as Alton Brown, but it could be tweaked.

The New York Times has a meaty rendition of Thanksgiving, involving Italian sausage and pancetta. I know this will be Jonathan's vote, but it's not the traditional bird.

My tried and true bloggy friend, Comfortably Domestic, has a citrus herb roasted recipe. This involves a bunch of herbs and lots of butter. You really can't go wrong with that.

Needless to say, my mind is spinning with ideas.

What recipe do you use for your turkey?  Are you a traditional bird person or do you like funky twists on an old fave?

-Mads

Happy Halloweensicles!

This Halloween, Jonathan scared me by turning into Martha Stewart.

He didn’t dress up as Martha, but he revealed a whole new side to himself…a decorative side…*ahem*

He nearly shoved me out of the way so he could perfect the twist on these streamers.

Incredible.

And of course, Halloween wouldn’t be complete without dressing up Josie:

I’m spending Halloween night in class, but I will be thinking spooky thoughts.  That makes me sound creepy.  I will be there in spirit…as a spirit?  I am failing at Halloween puns right now.

What are you doing for Halloween?  What’s the best costume you have seen this year?

-mads

Fall recipes I’m dying to try

Fall always gets me in the mood to bake, roast, and mash all of the best comfort foods.  There’s nothing like curling up with a bowl full of homemade chicken soup or digging into a slice of piping hot apple pie.

This fall, I’ve decided to commit to a new approach.  I’m going to make recipes that I’ve never attempted before.  This could result in epic failures, but I have a feeling it will be more delicious than anything else.

Here’s what I’m committed to making this fall:

Miss InsideNanaBread’s Head’s POSOLE!  NanaBread is on a vacation from blogging, but I promise she is worth checking out when she comes back.

Mexican-style stew with hominy

Pam’s pie crust for apple pie (featured on The Pioneer Woman).  I have never made my own crust (shhhh), but I am determined to try this flaky goodness.  I have also never ventured into baked fruit pies, but apple pie is in the game plan.

101 Cookbook’s Easy Little Bread.  My track record with bread is not stellar.  Usually I end up with a cement lump or a dough ball of goo.  This no-knead bread promises that it will be easy and totally doable for a baking beginner like me.  101 Cookbook is a great blog with BEE-U-TI-FUL food photography.

Comfortably Domestic’s Mediterranean Inspired Chicken Wraps with Dill Cucumber Sauce.  Jonathan and I have been on a Mediterranean kick and anything by Comfortably Domestic is sure to be a win.

Kitchen-tested and children-approved

(Click on any of the pics above to find the original recipes.  These pictures are all from the bloggers linked in the text.)

Hopefully I remember to post my adventures in these dishes here, but let’s face it, I frequently forget who I am and what I’m doing.

Are you trying out any new recipes this fall?  What’s your favorite blog source for recipes?

-Mads