Pumpkin Spice Cake

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Wow!  The trees are amazing colors of red, yellow, and orange.  It’s sweater and boot weather.  We had another red October and its football season. Yes, that’s right its Fall here in St. Louis and it’s beautiful.  One of the best things about living in the Midwest is the change of seasons.

Nothing goes better with the Fall season than pumpkin although I’m not a fan of pumpkin…at all! However, I must tell you that this was delicious.  It doesn’t taste anything like pumpkin pie. The pumpkin in this cake makes it very moist. It’s a must try during the fall season or better yet, a great desert for Thanksgiving. Pumpkin lover or not, this one is a keeper.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups of Flour
  • 1 Tablespoons of Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 Teaspoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 Cup of Butter, softened
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup of Brown Sugar, firmly packed
  • 5 Large Eggs
  • 1 Can (15 oz.) Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 Cup Whipping Cream

Icing

  • 5 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 1/4 Cup of Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 Cup of Whipping Cream
  • 2 Cups of Powdered Sugar

**Optional – Candied Pecans to Top

Directions:

For the Cake –

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; Set Pumpkin before icingaside.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars at medium speed, scraping the bowl often.
  4. Add eggs one at a time beating well in between.
  5. Beat in flour mixture alternating with cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  6. Pour batter into a 12 cup bundt pan that has been lightly coated with Pam.  Bake in the oven for approximately 50 minutes or until a wooden tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes.  Invert cake onto a wire rack to fully cool.

For the Icing –

  1. In a small saucepan, combine butter, maple syrup, and cream over medium-high heat; bring to a boil.
  2. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Slowly whisk in powdered sugar until smooth. Let cool until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  4. Drizzle over cooled cake. Optional – Sprinkle with candied pecans.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Cake 5

Stuffed Zucchini on the Grill

Zucchini Boats

Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables especially in the summer. I grew up eating zucchini all the time, but I have never eaten them stuffed.

On this particular night, we had one of those great meals…marinated, grilled flank steaks, pasta salami salad, and stuffed zucchini on the grill or zucchini boats.  It was our first time making them.  I must admit they were so easy.  Plus, we love it when the majority of our meal can be grilled.

Last year I could have used this recipe, because I had an abundance  of zucchini from the garden.  However, this year the moles took over and decided they liked my zucchini 😦  I had to buy this batch from our local grocery store, Dierbergs, but they always have wonderful produce.

Stuffed Zucchini on the Grill

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 4 medium Zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped Bacon (we prefer real bacon as opposed to bits)
  • 1/4 cup chopped Black Olives
  • 1/2 cup diced Green Chiles
  • 1/2 cup minced Red Onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Tablespoon of fresh Basil from the garden

Directions

  1. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp to about 1/4 inch from the skin.  Chop the pulp.
  2. In a bowl, mix the zucchini pulp, bacon, black olives, green chiles, onions, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese.  Season with fresh basil and salt and pepper.
  3. Stuff the zucchini halves with the mixture. Seal each half with aluminum foil.
  4. Prepare the grill. Place packets on the grill over indirect heat. Cook approximately 15-20 minutes or until tender.

With stuffed zucchini, you can get creative with the mixture but I don’t think we will deviate from this recipe.  It was so delicious – stuffed zucchini or zucchini boats whatever you prefer to call them!

Enjoy!

Avocado Pineapple Blueberry Salad

Perfect Summer Salad

Perfect Summer Salad

During the heat of the summer, I love trying different salads, however I can’t take credit for this one. My husband pulled this one together. We seem to be on an avocado kick right now so sticking with that theme, here’s a great refreshing salad with or with out avocados.

Avocado Pineapple Blueberry Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 6 cup of mixed Greens
  • 3/4 cup of diced Pineapple (fresh or canned) – can grill if time permits
  • 3/4 cup of fresh Blueberries
  • 3/4 cup of diced Avocados
  • 1/4 cups of thinly sliced Red Onions
  • 3/4 cup of Lemon Vinaigrette
  • Dash of Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh Parmesan Cheese

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, toss the mixed greens with dressing; reserving 3 tablespoons of dressing.
  2. On five to six separate plates, evenly disperse all the greens.
  3. In the same large bowl add the pineapple, blueberries, avocados, onions, and remaining dressing;
  4. Disperse the mixture evenly over the greens. Add seasoning and sprinkle with cheese if desired. Serve immediately.

This salad was a hit with the family, however the kids preferred the salad with out the avocado’s. We also kept it very simple by using bottled Lemon Vinaigrette, but you can make your own or use any kind of Citrus Vinaigrette.

It’s a quick and yummy summer salad! On this particular night, we didn’t have enough time to grill the pineapple, but I do highly recommend grilled pineapple.  We love it!

Garden Success – Basil

Fresh Basil

Fresh Basil

I’m a city girl who just started gardening. Last year, I had so much success that I couldn’t wait for Spring of 2013. This year we tried out a few herbs, basil being one of them. I left the herbs in pots thankfully so because I have some creature taking over my garden that I planted in the ground (will give you more details about that in another post).

Back to the basil, I was craving a salad to accompany my meat loaf, conveniently so, I had a box of Near East Taboule Wheat Salad Mix on hand. I decided to follow a Greek Taboule Salad recipe that also called for fresh basil. I was so excited to cut my first batch of basil. Holy cow, it smelled so good. I cut my basil leaving the bottom leaves in tact so that I could ensure more growth in three weeks.

It’s pretty awesome enjoying the sweet success of planting your own seeds, not to mention a tasty quick Taboule Salad with fresh basil!

Greek Taboule Salad

Greek Taboule Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 package of NEAR EAST Taboule Wheat Salad Mix
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese ( I like the Athenos Garlic and Herb variety)
  • 2 large Roma Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of cucumbers, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Lettuce Leaves
  • Lemon wedges

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine wheat salad mix and contents of spice packet.
  2. Stir in 1 cup of boiling water and oil. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  3. Stir cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lemon juice into wheat mixture. Cover and chill for 2 hours.
  4. Serve on top of lettuce leaves with fresh ground pepper if desired.

This quick salad was so good. Do you have any good recipes using basil? I’d love to hear them.

Summer Smoothies

Banana Strawberry Smoothie

We love smoothies in the summer time.  Heck, we like them all the time. There are so many different types of smoothie recipes out there, but this first one is my absolute favorite.  I always have all the ingredients in the kitchen. Yogurt is always in the fridge and Costco‘s Kirkland Frozen Three Berries or any other frozen berry variety. My best recommendation is to double the recipes.

The Banana Berry Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt or any berry type
  • 3/4 cup of orange juice
  • 1 cup of Costco’s Kirkland frozen three berries (any kind is fine)

Directions

  • Blend all ingredients for 30 seconds to make 2 healthy servings.  Yummy!

Here is another great smoothie recipe based on ingredients we had at home…

The Banana Pineapple Smoothie

Banana Pineapple Smoothie

 

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • Hand full of ice cubes
  • 1/3 cup of fresh pineapple or canned pineapple
  • 1 cup of orange/pineapple juice (or any variety)
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla

Directions

  • Blend all ingredients for 30 seconds to make 2 healthy servings. Yummy!

The beautiful thing about smoothies is you can get creative, try different flavors, use what you have at home and enjoy!