Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes

So I love pumpkin...love, love, love. Matter of fact I made the Pumpkin Risotto from last week's post last night again and even put some more puree pumpkin in it and fried some sage leaves to put on top...oh and I used the Basil Pesto I blogged about on Monday and put it on french bread and warmed it in the oven. Oh my gosh I am hungry again...but anyway this is about pumpkin and my other favorite treat cupcakes.

As I have mentioned time and time again you can take any basic cake mix and change the flavors by the liquid or oil that you add into it...I love pumpkin bars with cream cheese icing but don't want to put all that work into them. So I took a basic butter cake recipe, a can of pumpkin, some pumpkin pie spice, a couple eggs and water (but everyone should have that) and a can of cream cheese frosting and made my own version of pumpkin bars but in cupcake form.

All the ingredients.
To make the cupcakes you make them just as the package states except replace 1/2 of the oil with the canned pumpkin or all of it if you want. It will make the cupcakes a little more dense but they will be healthier and very tasty. I also added about 2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice. I fill the cupcake papers to 1/2 or 3/4 full so they poof out of the top of the paper for prettier icing and bake per package instructions. I keep the extra pumpkin in the refrigerator for a yummy pumpkin risotto or soup! You could also freeze it in ice cube trays for a great addition to any soup this winter.

Awesome StayBrite cupcake papers.
I then ran across these super cute but not too cutesy cupcake papers in Target that are guaranteed to keep their vibrant color. They are made by Reynolds, called StayBrite and they are awesome.  

Old sad, cupcake papers.

Comparison of old paper cupcake papers to StayBrite

My decorations...I used gel icing to make pumpkins with sparkly orange and green gel.

These would be perfect for a fall party or a tailgate!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Homemade Basil Pesto

My basil plant is going a little crazy, partially because I have slightly neglected it over the last few weeks, um ok month or uh two. Anyway it was getting a little dead along the bottom with lots of leaves on the top. The only way I could think of getting it back on track is to chop off the long half dead stems and let the new undergrowth take over. With that much basil I wasn’t for sure what I was going to make and pesto always seems like the best way to get rid of large quantities of basil.

I rinsed and patted dry the basil with a paper towel.

Making your own basil pesto is pretty easy and the nice part is you can tailor it to your taste, if you like garlic you can add more garlic, more pine nuts, more basil, etc. There are also a variety of other flavors you can use instead of the basil: parsley, spinach, etc. I went online to see if there were any good recipes and they all seem the same and included garlic, pine nuts, basil, Parmesan and olive oil. I didn’t measure anything out just kind of added until it looked right and I think that is the best way to make it to your own taste.
Perfectly layered, the bottom is the pine nut and garlic mixture, then add basil then the Parmesan.

I started with garlic and pine nuts in my mini food processor and pulsed together until it was in a mealy paste consistency. Then I added the basil and Parmesan and pulsed together, then added the olive oil until you get a consistency that you want.
A beautiful green substance. I stored in in a cute little mason jar which I didn't get a picture of, but it will store nicely in the fridge for some time.
There are oodles and oodles of things that you can do with basil pesto…one of which I will post tomorrow night, but you can add it to French bread, use it in a pasta sauce, smother chicken breasts in it before baking, etc.