I feel like August is autumn’s appetizer. It’s just a nibble of all the joys that the fall season has to offer. In August my Pinterest newsfeed starts to fill up with pumpkin recipes and stores are starting to get some pumpkin items shelved. It’s a welcome transition month.
I even saw a brown leaf fall to the ground and got ridiculously excited because it was a tangible sign that FALL IS COMING!
Last week, we got a small autumn package in the mail from Starbucks. It was a K-cup caffe latte sampler with pumpkin spice! There was a caramel one too but who cares and it was not good. I’m not a huge Starbucks pumpkin coffee lover but the Pumpkin Spice Latte is iconic in the cache of “Pumpkin Eatin’ Season” items.
A quick review is that it was totally drinkable but I would never purchase it and there were lots of grainy bits at the bottom of my mug that were unpleasant to drink.
Prepare yourself for the onslaught!
Oh a link party! Gina over at Desperately Seeking Gina is linking up (is that even the proper term?) with a Pin It or Spin It theme and since I just used a Pinterest recipe this will be my VERY first link up (again, is that the right term?). In my last bog post, I mentioned the Pumpkin Pie Matcha that I purchased from David’s Tea had a very BLAH flavor and so I decided to use the rest of it in a recipe.
Pin It: So, this was the Pin that started it all: Matcha Green Tea Shortbread Cookies
Spin it: I added a half teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice in addition to using the Pumpkin Pie Matcha to try and kick up the flavor. Plus, I used cookie slats to help roll a perfectly even dough.
How cute are these tiny little cookies? They are so dainty! I only made about a half batch of these because I didn’t want to sacrifice all of my matcha–but it was almost all of it. The recipe is very straightforward and is super quick to put together. The cutting of the cookies into tiny flowers is the most tedious part of the process. I would definitely recommend using cookie slats to get the dough perfectly even.
Instead of regular sugar for the dusting I used baker’s sugar, which is a much finer grain of sugar crystals. It worked out well and the sugar makes the cookies look extra cute and fancy without a grainy texture.
The outcome was a tiny cookie that can be a light snack, like Teddy Grams but with no gram and much more delicious. The matcha flavor was super light and I could only catch a hint of it at the end. The pumpkin flavor, even with the added pumpkin pie spice, was nonexistent. These tasted more like a straightforward shortbread.
These would be perfect for a little kid’s tea party (my super duper picky eating child even liked them) or maybe a St Patrick’s day snack but they would fail horribly at a pumpkin celebration.
We have declared this year to be the year of the vegetable! After overdosing on sugar, and all other food groups except for fruits and vegetables, something had to give because these pants are feeling a little tight. The goal is not to become vegan or even vegetarian but instead we are going to shoot for 2 vegan meals a day. This isn’t a huge sacrifice on the meat front. Shannon and I are both very picky meat eaters. We like white-meat chicken, not on any bone; some ground beef; an occasional very well-done steak; and a tiny bit of pork. We like all of our meat cooked to the point of dried out. The cheese, butter, and cream will be a bigger sacrifice. I could easily be a vegetarian but it would mean cheese pizza, pasta, and ice cream. I went that path for several years and it was not pretty-especially when my hair started falling out.
To help us prepare for this vegetable-heavy year we purchased a couple of new vegetarian/vegan cookbooks. I chose “The New Moosewood Cookbook” by Mollie Katzen because it’s kind of the original vegetarian cookbook—having been published in the 1970’s. Shannon chose “Isa Does It,” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, because Shannon is hip and cool like that . . . or maybe she just likes to go by the Amazon reviews. The other books we’ve collected over the years but haven’t utilized enough until 2014!
When looking at the above picture, maybe the old-school Sesame Street song came to mind. You know the song, “One of these things is not like the other/ One of these things just doesn’t belong/ Can you guess which thing is not like the others before I finish this song.” Did you figure it out which one? Yes, it’s the Cakelove cookbook. I was given the book several years ago and it was the first time I’d heard of Warren Brown. It’s a beautiful cookbook but the recipes call for potato starch and the ingredient are not by cup or teaspoon but mostly by weight. At the time I didn’t know where to get potato starch and I didn’t have a scale. Consequently, I just looked at the pictures and drooled.
Fast forward a few years later and I got the chance to visit DC for work. I looked up the Cakelove bakery on Yelp and the reviews weren’t spectacular but I made a special trip to the bakery anyway. Hot DAMN! The cakes were amazing. I’ve been back a couple more time and it has never disappointed. Our favorite is the Toffee Crunch. I’m already drooling! The last time we went to Cakelove, we got it to go and took a cab to the Lincoln Memorial. It was dusk and a spring storm had just blown through. We sat on the steps of the Memorial eating cake and watching lightening strike behind the Capital Building. It was a spectacularly beautiful moment.
This long story is to say that one of my 2014 resolutions is to finally bake a cake from the cookbook. Maybe I will make the Strawberry Shortcake, or the Chocolate Apricot Pound Cake, or the Chiapas Pound Cake, or the Mr. Banana Legs. OMG! I’m already overwhelmed with the possibilities. It’s just one more thing to look forward to in 2014.
Pumpkin Eatin’ Season 2013 is slowly winding down. The zippers on all of my clothing are actually glad for it. This was an exceptional season. Here’s the short list of the pumpkin items I can remember trying:
- Pumpkin Bread
- Pumpkin Pie Truffle
- Pumpkin Popsicles
- Pumpkin Spice Lattes & Frappuccinos
- Lots of Pumpkin Pie
- Pumpkin Pancakes
- Pumpkin Syrup
- Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Crackers
- Pumpkin Tea
- Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt
- Pumpkin Biscotti
- Pumpkin Coffee Creamer
- Pumpkin Brittle
- Pumpkin Macaroons
- Pumpkin Doughnuts
- Pumpkin Cupcakes
- Pumpkin Spice Caramel Chocolate Squares
I’m sure there’s more but I will just stop there and hang my head in shame for most of those items but there were a few that were sooo worth it.
Ace Pumpkin Cider
I am not a drinker because I typically have to pay the price of a migraine after a single alcoholic drink. However, when I saw the ACE Pumpkin Cider on tap at our favorite pizza parlor, I was gleeful. I’ve never found a great pumpkin beer but I’ve never had a bad Ace Cider. It was amazingly delicious. It’s so worth every last calorie.
The Snickerdoodle Bake with Pumpkin Ice Cream and Caramel Drizzle
We went to Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue for Shannon’s birthday meal. It’s kind of expensive but it is all-you-can-eat and if you are really hungry you can get your money’s worth. We love it because it’s an outside restaurant with live music and because of this it entertains the baby and we get a fairly relaxed meal. We never get the dessert because they are ridiculously enormous and after an all-you-can-eat buffet a super-sized dessert does not sound enticing. This is especially true when you’re at Disneyland and there is a sweet dessert option every 50 yards or less.
As a special birthday treat because we had 5 people to eat it, Shannon ordered the seasonal Snickerdoodle bake. It’s a giant warm snickerdoodle-like cookie that’s been baked in a cast-iron pan and topped with 3 scoops of pumpkin ice cream. It also comes with a small side of caramel. So amazingly yummy!
I’m sure there’s more to come but it will be hard to beat these two.
Did you see it? My first EVER guest post over ay Desperately Seeking Gina? I’m kind of happy with the way it turned out. Not only did they look good but they also tasted five-star yummy. The cupcakes were adapted from a pumpkin bread recipe and the mini cake in the back was chocolate. Both recipes are my go to recipes for birthdays or cake cravings.
I have been a baking fool lately. I think with all of my October baking and pumpkin eating that if I were grizzly bear I would now have enough fat stored in my body to be able to hibernate until at least July of 2014. Ugh!
If you’ve been a slacker and haven’t been gorging on enough pumpkin-flavored anything I have the recipe for you! These Pumpkin Oreo Cheesecakes are ridiculously tasty and the oreo-like Joe Joe’s make them extra adorable.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Joe Joe’s
12 Trader Joe’s Halloween Joe Joe’s cookies
1 8 oz package of room-temperature cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 room-temperature egg
2 tablespoons vanilla greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a muffin tin with 9 cupcake liners.
- Twist apart the Joe Joe’s and place one side of the cookie in each of the cupcake liners.
- With a mixer, combine the cream cheese and sugar on a medium-high speed until noticeably light and fluffy.
- Add the egg, yogurt, vanilla, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice to the cream cheese mixture. Mix on a medium speed until fully combined.
- Fill the cupcake likers 2/3 full with the pumpkin cream cheese mixture. Don’t worry, they won’t rise much while baking.
- Place the second half of the Joe Joe’s on top of the cheese cake mixture.
- Place the pan in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes.
- Let the mini cheesecakes cool in the pan for another 20 minutes and then lift the cupcake liners out of the pan and finish cooling on a cooling rack. Once they have fully cooled, place them in the refrigerator for an hour. They taste best when cold.
- Finally, finish with a dollop of whipped cream.
If “Pumpkin Eatin Season” doesn’t end soon, I may have enought fat stored to hibernate until “Pumpkin Eatin Season 2014.”
I’m finishing up my first EVER guest blog post for Desperately Seeking Gina. This feels a little like I’m back in college trying to meet a deadline but much more fun.