Blog : Foodie

Pumpkin Spice Cake

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As many of you know, we love to bake. And baking is especially enjoyable during the fall, when the weather is cool and spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice take on fresh scents that beckon to the holidays. We’ve been baking with pumpkin lately, experimenting with various cake recipes for a bake-off we participated in.

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We took home second place to a delicious Italian cream cake, but had a blast. If you like pumpkin, cream cheese, and pecans, give this simple recipe a try. You don’t even have to cream butter and sugar together, so have no fear! This recipe is easy and delicious.

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Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Glazed Pecans
inspired by recipes from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody and Southern Living’s magazine and cookbooks

Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (we use canola)
4 large eggs
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin (we use Libby brand pumpkin)

Frosting:
1 (8-oz.) package full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 cups powdered sugar

Pecans:
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 cups pecan halves
Vegetable cooking spray
Parchment paper

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. TIP: As a general rule, use shortening to grease cake pans. Don’t forget to flour them too!
  2. Prepare the cake: Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a bowl until well blended.
  3. Beat together the sugar and next 2 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended. Add all 4 eggs, and beat until blended. Add flour mixture, and beat until blended. Stir in the pumpkin. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
  4. Bake at 350° for 25 to 27 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from the pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).
  5. Once the cakes are completely cool to the touch, prepare the frosting: Beat together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended and smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until blended. Spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. TIP: Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the top of the  cake layer before putting the rest of the frosting on the layer. This is called a crumb coat, and will help keep the tender cake from tearing as you frost it.
  6. Prepare the pecans: Stir together the corn syrup and sugar. (Mixture is very thick.) Stir in pecans. (This wasn’t super easy for me because the syrup mixture was so thick, but don’t worry. The syrup-sugar mixture will melt in the oven and coat everything completely then.) Coat a piece of parchment paper in a jelly-roll pan with cooking spray, and spread pecans on parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Remove the pecans from the oven, and spread into a single layer using a fork. Let cool completely. Use the pecans to decorate the cake as desired.

Yum! Pimiento Cheese BLTs

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When we’re not working behind the press, we love to cook and try new foods. So, we thought we’d start sharing some of our recipes with you in a new series: Happy Eats! Today we thought we’d share a recipe for Pimiento Cheese BLTs. This simple recipes makes a Tupperware full of pimiento cheese that you can keep on hand throughout the week for speedy lunches and snacks (and even a burger topping or two!). The original recipe is from Southern Living magazine a few years back. We loved it so much we kept it bookmarked for those hot summer days when nothing hits the spot quite like pimiento cheese.

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First, fix yourself a big batch of pimiento cheese. This recipe substitutes roasted red bell peppers for the pimientos (peppers, for those who aren’t familiar). Because we normally have a jar of roasted red bell peppers on hand, it works well for us.

After mixing up the cheese, let it chill for a few hours. See how long it takes before you pull it out of the fridge to snack on. Go on, we’ll wait.

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After the cheese has chilled for a bit, brown off some bacon until it’s nice and crisp, wash some fresh leaves of romaine, and slice up a Roma (plum) tomato. This sandwich is great on any kind of bread, but we love it on Publix grocery store’s French bread rolls, which are like fancy hamburger buns. Then spread the cut sides of the bottom of the rolls with a heap of pimiento cheese, and grill them off in a nonstick skillet until the cheese is nice and melty. Then pry open the sandwich, and add the lettuce, tomatoes, and bacon.

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Yummm. We served it with freshly cubed watermelon. Now go on and mix up a batch! Try it on grilled burgers, with crackers or crostini, or stuffed into pickled okra. It’s like Pringles. Once you start eating it, you just can’t stop!

Tip: Always shred the cheese by hand. We’ve learned from experience that while the food processor is fast, it won’t get the same texture as shredding it by hand on a box grater will.

Roasted Red Pepper Pimiento Cheese

Originally from Southern Living magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise (we use Hellman’s with olive oil)
  • 1/2 (12-oz.) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons coarse-ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 (8-oz.) blocks sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 (8-oz.) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

Stir together first 4 ingredients until well blended; stir in cheese and black pepper to taste.

To Make BLTs

  1. Prepare Roasted Red Pepper Pimiento Cheese. Refrigerate 2 hours (or longer).
  2. Meanwhile, cut 1 Roma (plum) tomato into slices, wash romaine lettuce leaves, and cook desired number of bacon slices until crispy.
  3. Cut desired number of rolls in half. Spread bottom halves of rolls with desired amount of pimiento cheese. Cover with tops of rolls.
  4. Cook in a lightly greased nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until browned on both sides and cheese is melted.
  5. Remove from skillet, and carefully remove tops of sandwiches. Top cheese with tomatoes, lettuce, and bacon. Cover with tops of rolls. Serve immediately.

Get in the Kitchen!

We’re busy brainstorming recipes for the Oh My! Handmade Kitchen Party going on. Right now we’re thinking about sticking to something we love, something delicious and homey and comforting and versatile and good any day of the week, any month of the year…

PANCAKES! 🙂

Image via Pinterest

But we’re still undecided. I know, I’m so wrong, spilling the beans early and then saying we’re not even sure. Don’t worry though—the recipe we settle on will be shared! Why not go sign up for the party yourselves? Oh My! Handmade Kitchen Party

Raspberry-Vanilla Cupcakes

A little over a week ago, a friend of mine took a job in D.C. To celebrate and wish her well, I made some raspberry-vanilla cupcakes. The batter that I used is my old standby, a recipe from a few years ago in Southern Living magazine. I cook a lot out of Southern Living because my success rate tends to be higher with their recipes (and their sister publication Cooking Light too). As usual when I work in the kitchen, Scout stayed close by, hoping for a raspberry to roll off the counter and into her mouth.

When the little cakes came out of the oven, they filled the kitchen with that wonderful sweet smell that reminds me of birthdays at home. Bryan became the official taste tester and declared them possibly my best batch yet! The girls and I devoured them the next day, licking bright pink frosting from our fingertips without a drop of shame. I hope you enjoy them too!

Raspberry-Vanilla Cupcakes

Based on recipes from Southern Living magazine

  • BATTER
    2 cups granulated sugar
    1 cup salted butter
    2 large eggs
    2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 1/2 cups cake flour (I use Swann’s and recommend it!)
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 cup buttermilk (I use nonfat and it works just fine.)
    24 paper baking cups
  • FROSTING
    1/2 cup butter, softened
    1/2 cup fresh raspberries, washed and thoroughly dried
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
  • GARNISH
    Fresh raspberries
  1. Prepare Batter: Preheat oven to 350°. Beat sugar and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until yellow disappears after each addition. Beat in lemon juice and vanilla.
  2. Combine flour and baking soda in a small bowl; add to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at medium speed just until blended after each addition. Place 24 paper baking cups in muffin pans. Spoon batter into baking cups, filling two-thirds full.
  3. Bake at 350° for 18 to 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans to wire rack, and cool 45 minutes or until completely cool.
  4. Prepare Frosting: Beat butter and next 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition.
  5. Place frosting in a zip-top plastic freezer bag. Cut off 1 corner of bag to make a hole (about 1 inch in diameter). Squeeze frosting on top of each cupcake. Top with fresh raspberries for garnish, if desired.

My Tip

When adding the flour mixture (Step 2), make sure that you don’t overbeat. Add the flour and then the buttermilk just as the previous addition is almost completely blended—but not quite all the way. Waiting until each addition is completely blended will increase your chances of overbeating the batter.

Dreaming of Pastries

Sometimes, I imagine opening a little pasticceria and filing it with all the lovelies I’d make.

via How Sweet It Is

Of course, a day only has so much time, and Happy Penguin fills much of it! Instead, I bake at home and share my creations with my husband and friends. This weekend’s goal is flaky, light-as-a-feather croissants. For inspiration, we visited Continental Bakery this morning.

continental bakeryvia Alabama Eats

Mmm, what a delight! We left with a handful of flavors (almond, cinnamon sugar, ham and jarlsburg) and very happy, full stomachs. Now onward to create our own creations! Wish me luck!

Sweet Styling

Sweet Styling

If you haven’t already found out about Nonpareil magazine, today’s your lucky day! This online magazine is chock-full of sweet inspiration and little details that will make you smile. This particular image caught my eye because of the attention to detail in the styling—and the cookies. Stained glass cookies? Yum! Check out this issue here.

Image from Nonpareil magazine issue #6 / Project and Styling by Shauna Younge of Shauna Younge Dessert Tables, Project Styling and Printables by Maddy Hague of The Inspired Bridge, and Photography by Emily Steffen