Wednesday, October 28, 2009

-- Bring on the Pumpcake! --

Halloween is right around the corner which means it's pumpkin season! Everywhere you go, there are pumpkins...from supermarkets to restaurants and even as decorations on sidewalks and windows.

Pumpkin is such a versatile ingredient and is perfect for delicious soups, cakes, pies and even pastas. On the sweet side, most people immediately think of pumpkin pie because it's synonymous with Thanksgiving. However, if you are looking for something a little different this year, give pumpkin spice cake a try. I adapted this recipe from Martha and added a yummy Amaretto glaze. I have been making it for years now and guarantee your guests will love it!

You can bake it in a bundt cake pan or in my case, I decided to make individual mini bundt cakes for a dinner party. Bring on the Pumpcake!

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Amaretto Glaze

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 stick butter, softened not melted
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 can of pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice) in a container. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the pumpkin puree and vanilla until you have a smooth batter.

Add the batter to greased/floured bundt cake pan. Place in the over for 40 minutes or until you insert a knife in the center and it comes out clean. After you take it out of the oven, let it sit for 10 minutes and then flip onto a cooling rack.

Once cooled, pour glaze on top*

*To make the glaze, mix 1 teaspoon of melted butter, 1 1/2 cups of confectioner's sugar, 1 tablespoon of amaretto and 2 tablespoons of milk. If you want a thinner consistency add another 1/2-1 tablespoon of milk. Mix well and drizzle over cool cake.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

-- Mix & Match --

When decorating a room, make sure to use a variety of colors that complement each other, furniture styles that add interest to the space and fabrics/textures that vary yet seamlessly work together. Too much of anything is never a good thing!
Try to offset dark masculine furniture with lighter colors and soft fabrics. In the example below, a dark leather couch is a good complement to two beige microfiber chairs. Silk cushions and some decorative accessories make this room a suitable area that doesn't scream bachelor pad or girly room.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

-- Fall Flavors --

The leaves are turning and clearly, fall is here! I have to admit this is probably my favorite season; the crisp cool air, warm sunlight and beautiful red, orange and yellow leaves are just stunning. Fall-esque (is that even a word?! Oh well, I like it!) cooking and flavors are also so amazing! I immediately think of far one of my favorite holidays.

As I was thinking of fall recipes, my friend called me to tell me he had an entire bag of apples he wanted to drop off from his apple picking day in Michigan. It was perfect! I needed to create something for a brunch I was invited to, so I decided to use these amazing little apples to make a warm apple strudel. Delicious!

Warm Apple Strudel

1 sheet of puff pastry (can be found in frozen food section)
3-4 apples (use what is in season)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
3/4 c brown sugar
1 tablespoon Amaretto (optional)
1 egg
Powdered sugar for decorating

Turn the oven on at 400 degrees.
Peel and slice the apples into thin pieces. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Set aside. On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry slightly. Add the apple mix in the center. Tuck the two short ends, and then fold one of the large ends over the mix. With your fingers add a small amount of water to the end and then fold the last side over it. Flip over. Lightly brush the egg over the strudel and then make diagonal cuts along the pastry with a sharp knife.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cook for approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with some powdered sugar. Serve warm. Enjoy!!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

-- Dine-In, YES! --

So you make a nice meal and then what?! Sometimes it is easy to sit in front of the TV and munch on a sandwich or have a bowl of soup (once in a while, I love doing that). However, when you go through the effort of cooking up a small storm, it is good to make the time to sit down and really enjoy it.

The key to a dining area is striking the balance between casual and formal. You want a space that is nice enough to accommodate guests but casual enough that it can be used on a regular basis. If you have the luxury of having a formal living room, its a different story. I'm talking urban-condo living where you have to maximize every sq foot!

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