Monday, October 24, 2011

Lemon Bars (from Martha)

This was my first time making lemon bars! It's actually quite easy. The crust is a shortbread-type crust that you really can't screw up. The lemony part is just a mix-and-pour type deal. I followed the recipe on Martha's site exactly except I used regular butter for the crust instead of brown butter and I used vanilla sugar instead of regular sugar. It is definitely worth the trouble to squeeze your own lemons rather than using a bottled lemon juice. The bottled kind always has a weird metallic quality to it. The lemon is the star here!


Dryer-Vent Pumpkins!

I came across this idea on pinterest, of course! We just happen to have left over dryer venting from last year's Halloween robot display.

One great thing about these - you can use them for decorating for Halloween and Thanksgiving!

Here is the link to the tutorial:

She uses hot glue to glue the ends of the vent together. I used silver duct tape. Whatever works! I also used stick wrapped in black duct tape for my stem (yes, we tend to have a lot of duct tape around the house) I also didn't paint mine but it would be cool to do a bunch in different colors.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall Spice Quick Bread

I know it sounds weird, but here's the deal. We get lots of potatoes with our CSA farm share. We only eat potatoes in small amounts (usually mixed in with sweet potatoes, beets, carrots and other roasted veggies) so I've been struggling to keep up with the supply. I searched the web for potato-based cakes and found very little (although there is a recipe for candy made from potatoes...intriguing). However, there are LOTS of sweet potato bread recipes out there. So, I figured regular potatoes should work, right?

The bread came out very moist and plenty sweet (I thought about increasing the amount of sugar since the original uses SWEET potatoes, but it wasn't necessary). You don't taste the potatoes, just the cinnamon and nutmeg with a hint of citrus. Feel free to add nuts or dried fruit; I didn't have any handy but maybe next time. The turbinado sugar sprinkled on top before baking gives the bread a great crunchy top.

Here is the original recipe that I adapted:


  • 1 1/2 cups flour

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • 1/2 tsp orange zest

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 cup cooked and mashed potatoes

  • turbinado sugar (for sprinkling on top)


  1. Preheat oven to 325. Spray loaf pan with baking spray or grease with butter.

  2. Mix first six ingredients (dry) in a large mixing bowl, whisk to make sure thoroughly combined.

  3. Combine the rest of the ingredients, except potatoes and turbinado sugar, in another bowl. As always, make sure eggs and milk are room temp.

  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until ALMOST all combined. There may be a few pockets of dry stuff - that's okay at this point.

  5. Add mashed potatoes and stir until just combined (lumps are okay but no pockets of dry stuff).

  6. Pour batter into loaf pan and sprinkle turbinado sugar on top (I use a pretty liberal dose)

  7. Bake until tester/toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean (no crumbs or smears) - about an hour.

Monday, October 10, 2011

One Last Hurrah

It has been in the 70's and 80's around here, which is highly unusual for this time of year. There are still some blooms hanging on around the neighborhood, though it has been unusually dry, as well, so some are a little ragged. The bees and other pollinators are working frantically to gather as much as they can!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pumpkin Carrot Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting


Happy October!

Yay, October has arrived! This is my favorite time of year - leaves are changing, cheery orange pumpkins are everywhere, it's hoodie weather (well, not here - it's been in the 80's! in Minnesota!), and, at the very end of the month, is the frosting on October's cake - Halloween!

Anywho, I love pumpkin anything and have been pondering these cupcakes for a while. We got a bunch of carrots in our CSA box last week, too, so it seemed like this might be a good way to use some up!

I used the recipe from here, and modified it slightly:

I also made cupcakes instead of cake, so the baking time is much quicker! It makes about 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes.

3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon *note* you can use pumpkin pie spice, as the recipe suggests. I just never have any around
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove

3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 light brown sugar
1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp orange zest
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium carrots, grated (about 1 cup) *note* the original recipe says "coarsely grated" but I would grate them pretty fine unless you want pumpkin cupcakes with just the occasional big chunk of carrot


1. Preheat oven to 350 (I preheated mine to 325 because it is always way hotter than it is supposed to be. You know your oven best, so if you have a decent oven and not a crappy rental kitchen oven then go for 350).
2. Make sure eggs and milk are at room temp. This makes a big difference in the end product. You can place the eggs in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes and that should do the trick. For the milk, I used dehydrated powdered milk so just added warm (not hot!) water to it. For regular milk, you can microwave it a little bit to get it to lukewarm.
3. Place all dry ingredients (listed at the beginning, exclude the sugar) in a large mixing bowl and mix together with a whisk until well-combined.
4. In another mixing bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. When well-combined, pour wet into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. That means that there aren't any pockets of dry ingredients (make sure to stir up the bottom) but it will still be a little lumpy. Don't overmix!
5. Fill cupcake liners a little more than half full and pop 'em in the oven. Bake about 12-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (no goo and no crumbs).
6. Let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Recipe
2 blocks of cream cheese (8 oz each) (I used Neufchatel because it's lower in fat but whatevs)
1 stick of butter
powdered sugar (start with a cup)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)

1. Soften butter and cream cheese in the microwave. Be careful not melt them, though!
2. Use paddle to mix in stand mixer or mix on low with hand mixer. This is not a "fluffy" frosting so you don't want to incorporate too much air.
3. Once butter/cream cheese mixture is lump-free, start adding the powdered sugar. Mix on low or you will have a cloud of sugar in your kitchen! Keep adding sugar until you reach a good balance of consistency/sweetness. The sugar helps make the frosting less gooey but it also (obviously) adds sweetness so you don't want to lose the tanginess of your cream cheese.
4. Add cinnamon and vanilla to taste and mix until incorporated.