Monday, October 15, 2012

How to Measure Flour

This isn't about pumpkin, but about how to properly measure flour.

Measuring flour properly will really improve your baking.  We are all taught to scoop and level, but this usually amounts about 25% more flour than is truly needed.  This will make your recipes dense and sometimes floury or chalky.

Instead, I learned from my research that you should spoon your flour into your cups.  Don't compact it down.  Just lightly spoon in and then level off.

But an even better way to measure flour is by weight.  Some recipes, such as on the, call for a certain weight.  But I have found that using the spooning method works very well.

For even more information see this link:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

When I saw these pumpkin chocolate chip bars on the Girl Who Ate Everything blog, I just knew that I had to try them.  She takes the most enticing pictures, so it was impossible not to be interested!  I posted the link on the Facebook page just in case I didn't get around to it.

But I did!

And the result were very delicious, very addictive pumpkin bars!  A lot like pumpkin bread, but better!  My mom agreed with me.  My cousin made her own version and even replaced some of the granulated sugar with brown sugar.  Sounds delicious!  I brought half to a get-together and the rest stayed at home.  They didn't last very long!  So, without further ado, here is the recipe!

By the way, this is another winning Martha Stewart recipe.  That Martha ...


2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (I used extra)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
12 ounces chocolate chips

STEP ONE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a  13 x 9" pan with foil.  Grease with butter or solid vegetable shortening and set aside.

STEP TWO: Whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda and salt.
Chopping your butter makes it easier to mix.

Don't forget to do a baker's scrape after each step!  Scrape after the butter and sugar are beaten, then add the vanilla and the egg.

Mix in the pumpkin.

It's okay if it looks grainy.

STEP THREE:  Beat butter and sugar on medium speed.  Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined.  Beat in pumpkin puree.  The mixture will look curdled, but that is fine!

STEP FOUR: Add the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.  Remember, you never want to overmix.  Then fold in your chocolate chips.

STEP FIVE: Spread the mixture evenly into your prepared pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let the bars cool completely in the pan.  When they are completely cooled, gently lift them out of the pan for cutting.  Cut into 24 squares and separate from the foil.  This part was a lot easier than it sounds!

Then, eat and enjoy!  They are so yummy!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Let's talk about beer again...

Sometimes I get blog "donations"  or gifts for stuff for me to try this time of year.  This time, my cousin brought some Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale for me to try.

There's not too much to say about this beer.  It's good, but it tastes like, well, Blue Moon.  I thought maybe I didn't know what I was talking about, but others also agreed with me.  We all think that, overall, it just tastes like a slightly spicier Blue Moon.  That's not to say that it's not good!  It is!  Blue Moon is definitely a nice beer, and there aren't a lot of beers that I like.  It sat a little heavy in my belly, so I didn't finish mine all the way.  I was full!

And, I have to add that I love the label.  Orange, blue and those beautiful pumpkin line drawings.  All contrasted against the dark bottle.  Beautiful!

So far, of all the pumpkin beers I have tried, Weyerbacher hit the mark the closest.  It's light and spicy and you don't wonder if it's supposed to be a pumpkin beverage because it is very apparent:

And there is also Sam Adams Harvest Collection, which is a popular assortment of beers:

Til next time,

Monday, October 1, 2012

Martha Stewart Pumpkin Cheesecake

I have been meaning to get around to make a pumpkin cheesecake for years now!  When I bake, I try to make things for get-togethers, otherwise I eat most of it.  So a very special occasion came up and I decided to give it a whirl.

There are many pumpkin cheesecake recipes on the internet.  Some require multiple steps that results ina lovely layered-type of cheesecake.  Some require pulsing cookies in the food processor.  I just wanted something simple - New York style cheesecake.

I finally found this Martha Stewart recipe:  Leave it to Martha to create a simple and easy recipe that is also delicious!  I'm sure those other recipes are very good, too.  Maybe next year!

The cake is delicious and tastes a lot like cool, creamy pumpkin pie. I definitely recommend it!  And the batter comes together very quickly. I write more about this later, but try not to over-mix.  And don't open your oven.

My notes are in italics (as usual).


1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 graham crackers or buy the pre-made crumbs)
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted (30 seconds int he microwave should do it)

4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (Libby's!)
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, room temperature (makes for easier and smoother mixing)

Crust ingredients
Filling ingredients
STEP ONE: Make your crust
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and place your springform pan on a cookie sheet.

Melt your butter and combine it with your sugar and graham cracker crumbs. Press into the embossed side of your springform pan.  If this is your first time making a cheesecake, here is something obvious just in case: make sure you pan is completely put together and locked.

Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes.  I did ten.

Baby helping me mix
Pretty sand-like mixture
Press firmly into bottom of pan
STEP TWO: Make the filling

With your electric mixer, beat the cream cheese (it should be very soft and room temperature!) until smooth. Mix in your flour.  Try not to over-mix.  Stop when everything seems incorporated.

Add pumpkin puree, pie spice, vanilla and salt.  Mix until just smooth.

Add eggs one at a time.  Mix each until just mixed.  Don't overmix.


If you haven't already, put your springform pan on a baking sheet.  Pour the filling into the pan and smooth the top.  Place the cheesecake in the middle of the oven.  Lower temperature to 300 degrees F.

IMPORTANT, read completely: Bake for 45 minutes.  Then, TURN OVEN OFF.  Do not open your oven.  Do not pass go or collect $200.  Leave the cheesecake in oven for two hours.  Letting it cool slowly in the warm oven helps the cake not to crack.  Not over-mixing also helps the cake not to crack.

Remove from oven.  Immediately slide a knife around the edges, but do not un-mold yet (see below). Cover with plastic wrap.  Let chill in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight.  I always do overnight.  Undo the spring to unmold and enjoy!

My pan from the Pampered Chef came with this handy knife, but you can use any knife.

Source:  Retrieved September 2012.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pumpkin at Dunkin Donuts 2012

Dunkin Donuts is always a great place to go for some pumpkin fare this time of year.  Pumpkin donuts, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin lattes and coffees.  I have had the lattes before, as well as the muffins, I know that BOTH are so delicious!

But this time, I decided on Pumpkin iced coffee with cream and sugar.  It was so delicious!  I would have one every day if I could.

They also make pumpkin coffee K-cups for your Keurig, if you are into that sort of thing.  I am told they are good!

So stop by Dunkin Donuts for some delicious fall treats!  I sure will again soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Williams-Sonoma Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Waffle/Pancake Mix

This past Christmas, I got a very special surprise.  Every year, we pick Pollyannas aka Secret Santas.  My siblings and our significant others put our names in a cup and write what we would like for Christmas.  Then, you pick something out for that person. I don't think I put anything particularly special on my list this year.  And I'm glad because my Pollyanna decided to surprise me!

She got me pumpkin pancake mix from Williams-Sonoma-- not just one, but two! AND she got me the Betty Crocker Cookbook!  It truly made my Christmas.  What she came up with was much better than anything I could have come up with myself because it was thoughtful and from the heart.  That night, on the way home, we picked up our daughter a play kitchen for Christmas (way to wait last minute).  At home as we put it together and I was in my glory.  I couldn't wait to surprise our baby, I had an excellent new cookbook and I was looking forward to pumpkin pancakes!

I went through the first can very quickly.  The mix makes about two meals, about nine pancakes each.  I still had one can left over for this season.  Last year, I made waffles every time, but this time I decided to make the pancake recipe. The waffles were good, but the clean up was annoying.

And what can I say?  It is delicious.  It tastes sort of like warm, spicy pumpkin bread.  And every other bite has a little toasted pecan in it.  :)  My daughter and I made it together, of course, and didn't have to share with my husband because he doesn't like many pumpkin flavored things.  Crazy, I know!

I love making things from scratch, but there really is something awesome about mixes.  You save so much time and get to the fun part so much faster.  And since it's from Williams Sonoma it was an especially good mix.

And, yes, I did check the expiration date!  Feb 2013.

Whisk together 2 1/4 cups mix, 2 eggs (lightly beaten), 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted) and one cup milk.  Don't overmix or you will get tough pancakes.  This is true ANY TIME you make pancakes, waffles, quick breads, cookies and cakes.  Let the batter stand for five minutes (I skipped this step because I forgot).  Preheat griddle to medium heat until a few drops of water dance and pop when put in the pan.

When I make pancakes, I melt some butter and brush it onto my pan.  You can also spray with cooking spray.  But I think butter tastes better and makes beautiful-looking pancakes.  Plus, you will be consuming less chemicals.  I got the tip from

Pour 1/3 cup batter and cook until bubbles form on top and batter is set.  Flip the pancakes and cook until golden brown on the other side, about two more minutes.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Makes nine five inch pancakes.  It really did make exactly nine.  But I used a 1/4 cup that was overflowing with batter rather than a 1/3 cup.

Top with some real maple syrup and you're ready to eat them!

I put the five pancakes we didn't eat in the freezer, wrapped individually.  Pancakes are easily reheated from frozen with just 30 seconds in the microwave and taste delicious!

I really recommend picking up this mix if Williams-Sonoma has it again this year!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Cake

Last year, it was suggested to me that I try to make Pumpkin Chocolate Cake by Whole  I did try to make it, but it was awfully rushed and I never got around to blogging about it.  And I didn't do the exact recipe, because I was out of canola oil.  That, in my opinion, isn't giving it a fair chance.  So this year, I decided I would take my time and make this cake again.  This time, I would have all the ingredients (except their special flour) and take non-rushed picutres along the way.

Mama's sous chef
My daughter and I made it together.  I need to get this little gal and apron (or make one?) because she insists on watching me every and any time I do anything in the kitchen.  Every night we make dinner together, in fact.  Safely, of course!

After we took it out of the oven, I was very patient and waited hours to cut it so that it could cool.  Then I dusted it with powdered sugar, which gave it a pretty and old fashioned look.  I took my first bite and it was STILL A LITTLE WARM it was delicious! There's nothing like warm cake dusted with powdered sugar.

I gave some to my sister, and we both came to the same conclusion. My sister and I both loved this cake!  She doesn't intend to share the pieces I gave her!  How naughty!  It came out moist and chocolatey. There is a very thin fudge-like layer on the bottom.  This might have come from slight under-baking, but it was definitely finished to me.  I didn't want to OVER bake it.  It also reminds me of pumpkin pie because of the pumpkin pie spice.  I just LOVE pumpkin pie spice.  Now that we have a new jar it will be in my morning oatmeal until I run out of it again!

I will definitely make this again.  The prep only took ten minutes and I didn't even have to take out my mixer.  It's one of those wonderfully simple cakes that you can make at almost any time.  And since there's no butter, there isn't any waiting for ingredients to get room temperature.  It's a great recipe for babies to help out with since you don't have to get out your mixer.  

Pumpkin Chocolate Cake by


  • 1/4 cup canola oil, plus more for greasing
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa (I used Hershey's Unsweetened Cocoa Powder)
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar (Sugar always has to be Domino brand!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (Libby's, of course)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

STEP ONE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8" x 8" pan.

Grease with canola oil

STEP TWO: Whisk together flour, cocoa, pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Baby girl adding the pumpkin pie spice

Whisking for me
STEP THREE: Whisk together sugar, pumpkin, eggs and vanilla.

STEP FOUR:  Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and whisk gently.  Try not to over-mix.

STEP FIVE: Pour into pan and bake 40-50 minutes.  I did 50 minutes.  I checked at 45 and it wasn't done.    Cool on wire rack until cool.  Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Moist and delicious, just what you want in a cake!

SOURCE:  Retrieved September 17, 2012.