Monday, November 26, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

Hi! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoyed the time spent with family and friends. Whether you stuffed yourself silly, or were standing in line at a Black Friday sale, or were overdosing on leftovers and football, Thanksgiving is such a great holiday, isn't it? I'm starting to plan out my Christmas baking and looking forward to making some of my favorite Christmas recipes (and trying some new ones) but in the meantime, I think I need to make a few big salads to make up for some of the over-indulging from last week.

I know people think of pumpkin desserts more for fall and Thanksgiving, but I love them all through the holiday season.  I've made this bundt cake several times this year and felt like I couldn't let the season go by without posting this recipe since it's been one of my favorite desserts to make this year. As you've probably guessed from my blog, I do love bundt cakes and even more so during the holidays.  They're easy, festive, and so adaptable to your favorite cake recipe, and, I just find them nostalgic and beautiful.

This pumpkin spice bundt cake has such a moist tender crumb--thanks in part to the pumpkin which is always so good in baked goods.  I played around with the spices until I found a mix that brings out those delicious fall flavors we love-- cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, but did not overpower the cake.  Finally, how can you go wrong with a sweet cream cheese glaze to offset the spicy cake? Pure fall goodness!

I know I plan on making this at least one more time over the holidays. It's a great cake to make for a brunch, an office holiday potluck, or wrapped on a beautiful plate to take to a neighbor or friend.

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 can (15 oz) solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 10-in. fluted tube pan.

2. In a large bowl combine sugar and oil until blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, ginger and cloves; add to egg mixture, alternatively with pumpkin, beating well after each addition.

3.  Transfer to the greased fluted tube pan.  Bake at 350 for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (I always set my oven time for about 10 minutes less than the estimated time in order to allow for differences in oven temperatures-- my oven runs tends to run hot, so it usually needs less time than what is called for-- so set the timer for 50 minutes and then check the cake and adjust the time accordingly).

4. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack.  Remove pan and cool completely.  Drizzle with cream cheese glaze.

Adapted from Taste of Home

Cream Cheese Glaze

4 oz. cream cheese, cubed and softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 to 2 Tbsp. milk
pinch of salt

1. Process cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, pinch of salt, and 1 Tbsp. milk in a food processor until well blended.  Add remaining 1 Tbsp. milk, 1 tsp. at a time, processing until smooth.  Immediately pour glaze over cooled cake, and sprinkle toasted pecans on top, if using.

Adapted from Southern Living

Serves 12-16

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sweet Potato Souffle

It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving at our house without my Grandmother's Sweet Potato Souffle. As long as I can remember, this dish of whipped sweet potatoes topped with a brown sugar pecan streusel was always on our Thanksgiving table.  If my Grandmother wasn't having dinner with us one year, than my Mother always made it in her place. I've always loved sweet potato souffle even when, as a child, I didn't like sweet potatoes in any other form. I guess when you pretty much dress this vegetable up as dessert I was definitely not going to complain. I know a lot of people like their sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows but, I really love the delicious crunchy streusel topping that is so good with the creamy sweet potatoes.

 I thought it would be the perfect recipe to share as we are about a week away from Thanksgiving. The sight of it bubbling in the oven and that delicious caramel smell from the brown sugar and the sweet potatoes baking together has such a nostalgic effect on me.  What are the dishes you are most looking forward to this Thanksgiving?

This dish serves about 6-8 so I would plan to double this if you are having a lot of people over, or if you want leftovers. I would say this dish makes a nice normal dinner sized portion but definitely plan to double if you want Thanksgiving-sized portions! :) I like to use my handheld or stand mixer to really make sure the sweet potatoes are nice and whipped before I sprinkle on the streusel topping.

Sweet Potato Souffle

For the sweet potatoes:
3 cups mashed cooked sweet potato
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

Instructions:  Peel and slice sweet potatoes into even sized pieces.  Put in a stock pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until fork tender, about 20-25 minutes.  Drain potatoes and mash with a potato masher.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter a casserole dish.

Mix the mashed potatoes with the sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, and butter.  Mix thoroughly until the ingredients are well-combined and the sweet potatoes are very smooth with no lumps.  I like to use my handheld mixer for this so the sweet potatoes get a nice whipped consistency.  Pour sweet potatoes into prepared casserole dish.  Prepare the topping and sprinkle over sweet potatoes.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until topping is golden and sweet potatoes are bubbly.

For the Topping:
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark is fine, but I prefer dark for this)
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

Mix all of the ingredients together.  Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in the butter until the mixture is the texture of course crumbs.  Sprinkle over sweet potatoes and bake.

Serves 6-8

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Gouda and Bacon

Who's ready for Thanksgiving?? Woohoo! I am! I know, I know, it's still a few weeks away but if you're like me, you are probably thinking, at least with in some corner of your brain, "hmmm, what should I make this year?" Maybe it's not just a corner of your brain, maybe it's your whole brain, or maybe you're already waking up in a cold sweat because you agreed to host your entire extended family for dinner this year when you got cornered by your Aunt Mildred.

So, never fear! For the next few weeks, I'm going to be posting some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes- some old, some new, some family favorites, all very fattening! I decided to start today with a recipe for mashed potatoes.  These are dressed up Thanksgiving mashed potatoes with bacon and Gouda cheese and are oh-so-good yet very simple.  The salty smoky flavor from the bacon is delicious with the mild creamy flavor of the Gouda and the green onions add a nice hint of flavor without being overpowering.  The original recipe calls for either pancetta or center cut bacon.  I decided to use bacon as I had that on hand and didn't feel like running back to the store for pancetta but I listed both on the ingredient list in case you'd like to use pancetta instead.  The center cut bacon will be slightly smokier than the pancetta, but I thought it was delicious. If you've ever topped your baked potato with cheese and bacon, you know what a great combo that is!

The recipe says this makes 8-10 servings and I would just say that if you are truly planning a meal for 8-10 people for Thanksgiving, I would double this recipe.  This dish makes 8-10 normal sized servings but if you are like most of us on Thanksgiving and want to go back for that 2nd helping or look forward to those leftovers late Thursday night, you may be out of luck.  And, I warn you, these are really good, like eat them cold out of the fridge good, so if you didn't double the recipe, you may be sad or worse, upset that I didn't warn you to make more!

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Gouda and Bacon

1 pound red-skin potatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 green onions
 1 cup uncooked center cooked bacon, snipped into small pieces or 1 cup 1/4-inch cubes pancetta (about 5 ounces)
3/4 cup half-and-half, light cream, or whipping cream
2 cups finely shredded Gouda cheese (8 oz.)

1. In a Dutch oven, cook potatoes, covered in enough boiling lightly salted water to cover for 20 to  25 minutes or until tender; drain.  Return potatoes to Dutch oven.

2. Meanwhile, thinly slice green onions, keeping the white portions separate from the green tops.  Set green tops aside.  In a medium skillet, add bacon.  After the bacon has begun to start crisping, add the white portions of the onions (if you add these too early they will burn).  Continue cooking bacon and onions, until the bacon is crisp and the onions are softened.  Drain off fat.

3.  Add half-and-half to cooked potatoes.  Mash with a potato masher, a ricer, or an electric mixer on low speed until smooth.  Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the cheese and the bacon mixture.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Transfer mashed potatoes to a serving dish.  Sprinkle with green tops of onions and the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

Serves 8 to 10 (If you are making this for Thanksgiving, and are serving 8-10, and want large portions or leftovers, I would double this recipe)

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

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