Friday, October 23, 2009

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

I am blessed to have a beautiful great-niece and she loves to cook with me.  Tonight, we made pumpkin cupcakes and iced them with cream cheese frosting that we tinted orange.  We added some of those sugar cupcake decorations for halloween.  What a blast.  The best part was licking our fingers!

We will bring these to the family reunion (or family unit as Ali calls it).  She will be very proud to serve her fancy cupcakes. I can't wait until my granddaughter Leah is old enough to cook with me!

 Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
1 Can Solid Pack Pumpkin (I like organic)
3 Eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. nutmeg

Place all ingredients in large mixer bowl.  Mix on low speed to combine.  Scrape down the bowl and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes.  Line 24 cupcake tins with paper liners.  Fill each liner ¾ full.  Place in a preheated oven for 15 to 17 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  This recipe makes 24 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Icing

1 8oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
½ Cup Unsalted Butter (softened)
4 Cups Powdered Sugar (sifted)
½ tsp. almond extract
2 tbsp. orange juice
2 tbsp. grated orange rind (optional, but great)

Cream the butter and cream cheese for three or four minutes.  Add extract and orange juice, mix to combine.  Add sifted powdered sugar all at once.  Turn mixer on low speed to combine mixture.  Turn mixer to high and whip until frosting is light and fluffy.  This recipe will generously frost 24 cupcakes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate and Cranberry

My crew loves homemade cookies.  While browsing through the October/November issue of Taste of Home magazine, in an advertisement, I found this recipe.  Of course, I had to modify it a little bit, but the result was a soft, chewy cooky.  The sweetened dried cranberries are more flavorful than raisins and the white chocolate and almond extract flavors compliment the oatmeal nicely.  Even my chocoholics raved about these cookies.  Oh yeah, there was "chocolate" in the title.  Bake of a batch, crack open the milk jug and enjoy.  We certainly did.

2/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 6-ounce package sweentend dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream softened butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Add almond extract and combine.

In a separate bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt.  Add to creamed butter mixture and combine.  Add sweetened dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoons full on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cooky is just done.  Remove from baking sheet right away and cool.  This recipe yields about 3 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cream of Tomato Soup

When I was growing up, it seemed like grocery shopping night was the soup and sandwich night.  There is something wonderfully homey and comforting about a warm bowl of tomato soup and a perfectly toasted grilled cheese.  I loved it when I was a kid and my family loves it today.  Except, I no longer open a can of tomato soup.  I  created this recipe for tomato soup and it is the new favorite.

Dawn's Cream of Tomato Soup

2 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes
½  cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Strain the canned tomatoes, reserving the juices, and spread onto a cookie sheet, season with salt and pepper, to taste, drizzle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and roast for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrot, onion and garlic, cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the roasted canned tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, chicken broth, and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Puree with a hand-held immersion blender  or in small batches in a blender until smooth.  Strain mixture (if you want to) and return to pan, add cream.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with grilled cheese sandwich.