Tag Archive: pumpkin

Happy Halloween! (Yes, I know Halloween was yesterday.)

It was a nice, quiet celebration. Sebastian and I dressed up, and had a couple of friends over. It was our friend Emilia’s birthday, so I took it upon myself to make a pumpkin cake with caramel cream cheese frosting. It was delicious!

You’ll need:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar)
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
    2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel

Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices. In a large bowl, beat pumpkin, sugar and oil with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at the time, and the orange peel, beating well. Turn the mixer to low, and slowly add the flour mixture. Mix just until homogeneous. Divide the batter equally in   the pans, and bake for 30-40  minutes, or until an inserted  toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for  10 minutes, then remove from the pans (I turned them  upside down on plates) and cool completely on a rack.

Now for the caramel cream cheese frosting!

You’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 10 tablespoon butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

In a small sauce pan, melt the brown sugar and 4 tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and whisk in the heavy cream, blending well. Transfer to a heat-resistan bowl.

While it cools to room temperature, beat the remaining 6 tbsp of butter and the cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add vanilla and salt. Turn mixer setting to slow, and slowly pour in the cooled caramel (brown sugar mixture). Add the powdered sugar gradually, beating well after each addition until completely smooth. Refrigerate until firm enough (a runny frosting will leak), stirring occasionally.

And now for assembly: the fun part! When the cakes are cool and the frosting is a good texture, cover the top of one of the layers with frosting.






Delicately, with the help of a spatula, put the second layer on top of the first. Frost the top and sides of the entire cake. For an extra Halloween-y touch, I decorated my cake with candy corn.

This may have to be a repeat for Thanksgiving!


My father taught me the art of improvised cooking.. He does read and follow recipes on occasion, but generally, he just makes it up as he goes. Most of the time, it turns out great, but sometimes, it doesn’t work out. It depends on your gut and your luck.

Today, my luck and gut served me well (so far). Sebastian’s friend, Olivia, came to pick up a set of timpani she’d let the boys borrow. I invited her to stay over for lunch, and much to my delight, she accepted!

First, I tested one little gnocchi from last night (refer to previous post for recipe), but the dough hadn’t survived in the fridge overnight. So I started to make some of my dad’s ZUCCHINI FRITTERS.

You’ll need:

  • two or three zucchinis (washed, not peeled)
  • one or two eggs
  • flour or cornmeal (1/4 – 3/4 cup)

Grate the zucchinis into little strips (not too thin). Mix with enough egg and cornmeal so that the zucchini sticks together (you have to feel for it, I can’t give you a good measurement). Then, I drop silver-dollar pancake sized dollops on a heated skillet with just a tablespoon of olive oil, and fry the batter on each side until golden brown.

While I was doing the fritters, Olivia insisted that she should be put to work, too, so I asked her to chop some onion and the rest of the portobello mushrooms I didn’t use last night. We sauteed the mushrooms and onions in a little olive oil, and added a little balsamic vinegar when they were almost done (about 5-10 minutes). When they were done, we put the mushrooms aside in a bowl. Then, I pulled out some week old homemade pumpkin bread (not terribly fresh, but still good!), and toasted about four slices in the same pan used for the mushrooms, with a little olive oil.

I served the mushroom on top of the pan-toasted pumpkin bread, and the fritters in little stacks with sriracha. How’s that for a pretty healthy meal? And for a vegetarian lunch, it was quite filling! We bonded over good food, and decided to get drinks this coming Tuesday after work. Oh, and we’re going shopping this afternoon. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, guys, but I think Olivia might turn out to be a friend!

With enthusiasm and love,

– Viola –

Dinner last night was a SUCCESS! In my excitement, I forgot to take pictures, I’m sorry to say. But man, it’s so good to be cooking again!

The zucchini soup was the easy part. 3 zucchinis, thinly sliced (washed, not peeled), and some minced onion (about 1/3 of a yellow onion). Cover with some of that broth you have handy in your fridge (refer to this post –> https://violainthekitchen.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/apologies-and-a-broth-that-can-bring-you-back-from-the-dead/), boil until the zucchini gets mushy (about 5-10 minutes). If you don’t have broth, use salted water (though broth is SO MUCH tastier!). Transfer to blender and puree (just 5-10 seconds), and then transfer back to pot and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. I meant to add some curry powder, but forgot.

Next, the chicken. Also easy! Rubbed three boneless breasts with olive oil, pepper and salt, baked at 400˚F, 10 minutes on each side. Portabella mushrooms were brushed and sliced, and tossed into a pan with some olive oil. after browning them on medium-high heat for a couple minutes, put heat on low, and pour some balsamic vinegar (about 1/4 cup) over the mushrooms. I let them cook on low heat for 5-7 minutes, and arranged them on top of the chicken breasts when those were done.

And finally, la pièce de résistance: pumpkin gnocchi with butter sage sauce. Just typing that makes my mouth water. I used the flesh leftover from last weekend’s jack-o-lantern carving (2 sugar pumpkins’ worth of flesh), which I’d baked for an hour at 400˚F. I mixed in some flour (a cup or two) until it turned into a soft dough. I boiled some water in a large pot [Rule of Italian cuisine: always use biggest pot in the house for cooking pasta] and melted some butter with a few fresh sage leaves in a small saucepan. When the water came to a rolling boil, dropped in little bite-sized balls of dough. As soon as they floated to the surface, I removed them with a slotted spoon (had to scoop as I went), drizzled them with the butter sage sauce, and served them immediately to Sebastian and Fabian, who didn’t complain! The one fault was that I’d forgotten to sprinkle a little kosher salt on the gnocchi before serving, so they were a little bland.

Recap: fun cooking, good dinner, happy roommates. Now, I really must clean the house, because I may be entertaining guests for both lunch and dinner!

Laters, world! Love,

– Viola –

So I got off my ass and got to baking. Found this recipe on the Quaker Oats website, decided to tweak a little.

I used:

  • 1 1/3 cups instant oats
  • 2 cups white all purpose flour (I mixed 1 1/2 cups whole wheat with 1/2 cup white flour)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp fresh or 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (my idea!)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar –> I replaced this with 3/4 cup honey, it was a GREAT IDEA!
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin (canned, or freshly cooked)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • optionally: raisins, walnuts, or chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Mix the dry ingredients (oatmeal, flour, baking soda, and spices) in a medium bowl, and put aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar/honey with an electric mixer until the mixture thoroughly becomes light and fluffy. Add the egg, pumpkin and vanilla (I don’t actually measure it out, I just give a generous splash). Your mixture should look like this:

Add the dry ingredients in two installments. Mix briefly with the electric beater, then finish mixing with a spoon.


If you have raisins or nuts (or even chocolate chips), now’s the time to add them. The cookies are also fine plain. I save the chocolate chips for drizzling (see instructions below).



Using two tablespoons (or a small ice-cream scoop), form little balls of dough and display on a cookie sheet (NOT GREASED! the cookies won’t stick, they have a crap ton of butter in them). Each ball should be about 1/2 – 1 inch apart.

Bake for about 12 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. I like to cool the cookies for two minutes on the tray (they keep cooking, even outside the oven), then transfer them to a cooling rack, or a paper towel.

While the cookies were cooling, I microwaved four small handfuls of chocolate chips until they were melted (pausing every 30 seconds  to stir – it’s VERY easy to burn chocolate). What I should’ve done then was spoon the chocolate into a pastry bag, using the thinnest nozzle available. Since I’m kind of a cheapo and don’t own a pastry bag, I went with a plastic ziplock sandwich bag – just snip a tiny bit off the corner, and viola! You have a 7 cent pastry bag. The result? Very good, until the bag split and released a large chocolate slug on the cookie I was attempting to drizzle. So, if like me, you’re too cheap to get a real pastry bag (or don’t want to deal with cleaning one up), just drizzle the chocolate from a knife. The bag makes the lines very neat, though.

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