Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Yesterday really felt like Fall. It was cold, cloudy, and raining in the morning and so I did what any sensible person would do. I called in to work and took the day off. I pulled the covers back over my head and slept in for a while, then got up and put on comfy clothes and fuzzy socks. I spent the day curled up on the couch drinking cinnamon spice coffee, and watched chick flicks, read a good novel, painted my toenails, and watched the rain through the window. I baked a yummy cake that filled the house with aromas of cinnamon and pumpkin and caramel. It was the perfect autumn rainy day.

OK, time for reality. I didn’t do that. Homekeeping, for all its wonderful qualities, doesn’t have the perk of “sick days” unless I really am sick. So I didn’t call and take the day off. I didn’t sleep in. I did wear comfy clothes, but my shirt was covered in spit-up by day’s end. I did drink some coffee and have a little downtime when both Little Man and Little Lady were miraculously napping at the same time. But the rest of the day included watching Disney movies and Super Why! with Little Man, reading Dr. Seuss books, and walking around with Little Lady in my arms for a long time trying to get her to sleep. And while I didn’t get to leisurely watch the rain, I did get to see Little Man play tag with the cat and give kisses to Little Lady. I got to watch Little Lady smile in her sleep as I held her. Still a perfect autumn day, just in a different way.

And I did bake the yummy cake. It was a quick and easy recipe that I was able to pull off even with the kids awake and wanting attention. The house smelled amazing and the cake tasted so good. I will definitely be making this recipe again, whenever I need a quick “perfect autumn day” fix.

I found this recipe on Not So Humble Pie, and altered it slightly. I baked it in a 9×13 pan and changed a couple proportions in the streusel. Finally, I topped the cake with a drizzle of homemade caramel, because pumpkin and caramel are soulmates.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

1 stick butter, softened
11/2 cups sugar
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbs cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt

Streusel:

3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
6 tbs butter, melted
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the pumpkin and eggs and mix. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Combine streusel ingredients together and sprinkle over batter in pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool about 20 minutes before applying Caramel Drizzle (below).

Caramel Drizzle (optional, but highly recommended):

In a saucepan, combine 2 tbs butter and 6 tbs packed brown sugar. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves mixture boils. Once the mixture boils, add in 2 tbs heavy cream (the mixture will bubble like crazy). Swirl the pan to combine and boil for 1-2 minutes longer. Drizzle caramel over the coffee cake.

Cut a big slice of cake and take a few minutes to slip into autumn rainy day bliss.

20110915-025252.jpg

Project Pastry Queen: King Ranch Casserole

I just recently discovered the Project Pastry Queen group and this is my first recipe from the project. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will say that I changed the recipe some to make it easier for myself. I used boxed chicken stock and the shredded meat from two chicken breasts that I roasted in the oven. I also couldn’t find New Mexico chilies at my grocery store (I think they are just heading out of season), and honestly I was too lazy to roast my own chilies anyway, so I used a can of mild fire roasted green chilies.

That being said, Big Man and I loved this dish. It was hearty and filling with just the right spice level. I really liked how thick and creamy the filling was even though it didn’t have any condensed soup like most similar casseroles. I even liked the mushrooms, and I am in general a hater of cooked mushrooms. Overall, this recipe was a big success and one I will definitely make again.

This PPQ recipe was hosted by Jody, so head over here to see the full recipe

 

20110913-083144.jpg

Weeknight Spaghetti and Meatballs

If I ever have time and money to burn, I would like to go to culinary school. I’d love to learn fancy-food dishes and techniques, use top-of-the-line equipment, and get to try lots of interesting things. I doubt that will ever happen, but I am blessed that Big Man lets me play “chef” and try new dishes and techniques even though he isn’t really the foodie type. (And if I’m being honest here, I am not really a true foodie either, I’m a wannabe. I’ll try just about any type of food, but what I actually eat day to day fits a 5 years old’s palate better than that of a Food Network star. Scallops, truffles, vegetables? Not so much. Sugar cereal, pepperoni pizza, and grilled-cheese-ketchup sandwiches? Yes, absolutely.) So a couple times a month I try cooking or baking something fancy and foodie-like, and it is something I really enjoy. But most of the time my recipes revolve around “normal” food, the simple, tasty thing that Big Man, Little Man, and I love eating.

So here is another weeknight recipe. Spaghetti and meatballs with a homemade sauce that is easy and quick enough to make on a weeknight. The sauce is a variation of 3 Ingredient Sauce from Smells Like Home and the Meatballs are from Savory Sweet Life. I added a couple things to the sauce, but the meatball recipe isn’t changed at all. I just cut it in half when I don’t want leftover meatballs and half the recipe makes just enough for 2 adults and a toddler. And if you are really in a time crunch, do bother sauteeing the onions and garlic for the meatballs, just mix them in raw. I’ve done it before and it works fine.

Sauce

1 28 oz. can peeled crushed tomatoes
5 tbs unsalted butter
1 yellow onion (or Vidalia when in season), peeled and cut in half
3 tbs half and half or heavy cream
1/2 tsp sea salt

Combine tomatoes, butter and onion is large saucepan. Heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt and half and half/cream and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove onion and serve over hot cooked spaghetti.

Meatballs (serves 2)

1/2 lb ground beef
1/4 medium yellow onion, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and sauteĀ onion and garlic until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes, cool slightly. In a large bowl, add all ingredients with onion and garlic and mix by hand until combined. Form golf-ball sized meatballs and brown on all sides in skillet (add more oil if needed). Once meatballs are browned, transfer skillet to oven (if oven-safe, otherwise place meatballs on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper) and bake for 15 minutes. Serve over hot cooked spaghetti and sauce.

20110911-094521.jpg