Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Potluck Recipe #36: Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Yesterday Operations Director Kent Linder brought these pumpkin spice cupcakes to our Food Day celebration, a delicious reminder of the sweeter side of good food. Kent used real pumpkin in the cupcakes, which made them even tastier. Of course, there's nothing "unreal" about canned pumpkin, but like most things in the food world, homemade pumpkin puree is so much more flavorful, it's like a different creature altogether.

To make your own pumpkin puree, simply cut your pumpkin in half, pull out the seeds and stringy bits, and bake the pumpkin halves in tinfoil at 325 degrees for one hour or until tender. Scrape the meat out and puree it in a blender; if you're dealing with the Great Pumpkin, you may need to do this in batches. And voila: You have the base for pie, pudding, bread, ravioli, soup -- and these fantastic cupcakes.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

(Adapted from a recipe by Emeril Lagasse)

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup fresh, pumpkin puree
½ cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground clove
1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat 2 12-cup muffin pans with cooking spray.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. In a separate, medium size mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin puree with the buttermilk and vanilla extract and mix well. In another medium size mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and clove and mix well. In thirds, alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture to the creamed butter, blending gently after each addition.
4. Using an ice cream scoop or a ¼ cup measure, divide the batter evenly among the 24 cupcake wells and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of each cupcake comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
5. Cool the cakes on a wire rack in the pans for 15 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and continue to cool on the wire racks until completely cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting

12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. Combine the cream cheese and butter and beat until smooth and fluffy.
2. Add the sugar and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined.
3. Beat on high speed until smooth and fluffy. (If frosting is too thick, thin with a bit of milk to obtain desired consistency.) Frost cupcakes and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Potluck Recipe #35: Kale Chips

In my book, kale is a superstar. It's easy to grow, hardy and PACKED with nutrients -- the British government even encouraged its citizens to grow kale during World War II to compensate for nutrients they might have lacked due to rationing!

I used to feel at a loss as to how to use this amazing veggie until a friend taught me the following recipe. Now kale chips are one of my favorite snack foods -- and a great conversation starter at potlucks.

Kale Chips

1 bunch flat-leafed kale
2 tbsp. good-quality olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper
2 oz. Parmesan cheese (or to taste), grated

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. De-stem the kale and rip it into bite-sized chunks. Wash and thoroughly dry the kale, either using a salad spinner or blotting it with a towel.
3. Put kale into a large bowl and toss with the olive oil.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly spread out the kale. Top with salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake until the edges turn brown, about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Potluck Recipe #34: Southwestern Pumpkin Hummus

The combination of autumnal pumpkin with summery southwestern spice makes this week's recipe perfect for the warm fall we've been having. Pick up some chips and host a potluck for Open Arms to celebrate the change of seasons!

Southwestern Pumpkin Hummus

Adapted from a recipe from The Old Farmer's Almanac

4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup tahini
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 can (15-ounce) pumpkin
3 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 whole chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
pumpkin seeds for garnish

1. Combine all ingredients except garnish in food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Transfer to bowl and cover.
3. Refrigerate over night.
4. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and drizzle with extra olive oil before serving. Serve with vegetables, crackers or plain tortilla chips.