The happenings of my hectic and eclectic life!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Festive Fall

Cue the sappy love song. I am in LOVE with my convection oven…

After putting it to good use the past two weeks, I’ve realized that I could never go back. The results are fantastic. All of my baked good have come out so much more moist and cooked more even. And let’s talk about the multi-tasking…I can cook multiple things on different racks at the same time. It’s heavenly.

Let me also tell you I was really glad that this was my longest training week for my upcoming half marathon. After having to taste test everything I was making (cue sad love song…you feel so bad for me, right?) I was happy to be running off the extra calories and also checking off the long miles.

It’s officially the day that Autumn begins AND my parents are coming to visit! So I decided to be a “Pintester” this week and try out some of the ideas I’ve pinned lately to serve to my “guests” and to celebrate fall. Here we go….

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I kept seeing this recipe for pumpkin cupcakes floating around on Pinterest. The recipe called for a box of yellow cake mix and 1 15 oz can of pumpkin. That’s it. Then a Facebook friend posted that she made the same thing using a box of spice cake mix instead of the yellow cake mix and a can of pumpkin. I was intrigued and for me, that’s usually all it takes to send me off on a mission.

Last week I tried a recipe for Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins that was just mediocre. If I’m going to bake, go to all that effort, make a big mess and consume the calories, it better be delicious. I wasn’t jumping up and down over it, however the frosting was fantastic! So I decided to combine the Pinterest recipe, the frosting from the Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins AND some mini chocolate chips because they just make everything better. These muffins are AMAZING! I finished making them, taste tested and texted my friend to tell her I was dying in delicious-ness. It’s so simple there’s no way you can’t try it.

No joke in the original recipe there are two ingredients.
Ingredients 2

1 box spice cake mix
1 15oz can of pumpkin

Then I decided to doctor it up a bit by adding...
⅛ tsp each of Cinnamon, All Spice and Cloves
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Mix together until all ingredients are combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes. Or follow cake box directions as if you are baking cupcakes. This recipe made 18 muffins.

On to the frosting. The frosting recipe I tried last week was a cream cheese frosting made from scratch. It was delicious, however I struggled with getting the consistency right. So instead of going to all that effort again, I decided to purchase store bought cream cheese frosting and doctor it up the way it was in the original recipe. I kept the same idea which was adding vanilla and maple flavoring to your cream cheese frosting. YUM. I would definitely do this again instead of messing around with making my own frosting.

Vanilla Maple Frosting
1 can store bought cream cheese frosting
1 T Vanilla extract
½ T Maple flavoring

Although I lack a food stylist (yes, I learned last week there is such a thing), I still thought they turned out pretty enough I could post a picture!
Pumpkin Muffins
I decided to make this next recipe because my e-mail inbox was filling up with notifications that someone had “repinned” my pin. So I thought a lot of you might be curious about this one as well!

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Streusel Coffee Cake
Coffee Cake

The recipe comes from the Pine Cones and Acorns blog. Everything on this blog looks yummy and is photographed beautifully! You can find the recipe here:
The original recipe calls for baking this cake in a 6 inch spring form pan. I didn’t have one so I lined a 6 inch Corningware dish with wax paper and baked in that. I left enough of an edge of wax paper sticking out of the pan that I could grab it and lift the coffee cake out once it cooled.

In all honesty the recipe is a little labor intensive. I like my baking quick and fabulous. So make sure you have time if you’re going to tackle this one. The inside of the coffee cake is delicious! The spice in the cake is just right and the cream cheese mixture is yummy! However, I thought the topping left much to be desired. If anyone else wants to test out this recipe and offer suggestions for improvement I’d love to hear them! I think the topping needs something to truly kick this recipe out of the park.

Are you beginning to see why all the running this week was necessary?! Two more delicious treats…

Pumpkin Hot Chocolate

1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon hot chocolate mix (I used chocolate and french vanilla cocoa mix)
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (to taste)

Whisk together the ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat.

{My Mom and I are also on a mission to perfect a Pumpkin Latte recipe while she is here! If we create the perfect concoction I’ll be sure to share!}
Caramel Apple Salad

I’ve had this recipe for some time and love to make it every fall when my parents visit! It feeds an army so make sure you invite your friends over!

4 red apples
4 green apples
1 8oz container Cool Whip (I use fat free Cool Whip)
1 15oz container pineapple tidbits, do not drain the juice
1 6oz package butterscotch pudding (I use sugar free pudding)

Chop the apples into pieces. Mix together Cool Whip, pineapple tidbits with the juice and pudding mix. Fold in apples. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Fall Decorations

Where are we going to eat all of this delicious food?? I couldn’t prepare all of these yummy recipes without creating a festive fall table for us to sit at. It all started with these cute, retro owl plates I saw in our local grocery store ad. I couldn’t pass them up as I thought they would add a whimsical touch to my table this fall. I was super excited to get them on sale and had an addition 20% off coupon. Deal alert!

How cute are these guys?!

I used this picture I pinned on Pinterest as inspiration for the rest of my table decorations!
Fall Table Box

I purchased 3 yards of burlap fabric at Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon for my table. I bought the decorative pumpkins, leaves and moss to fill the wooden box at the Dollar Store for $1 for each item. I used battery operated candles instead of real candles, which if you don’t own any, I highly recommend!

Add the owl plates and VOILA!
Table collage

I can’t wait for my parents to arrive to enjoy the comfort of family as our festive fall begins!

1 comment:

  1. Yum! Now I want a convection oven. So, if I make the muffins in my regular oven, do I cook it for the same time & at the same temp? (I am hooked on pumpkin protein shakes this fall. I have been trying to avoid sugar & have not yet treated myself to a PSL so I created a PS protein shake. Maybe I will be bold and try adding coffee.)