Monday, October 31, 2011

Spiderweb Pumpkin and Ginger Cupcakes

My favorite time to bake is when I have a Saturday when we don't have to do anything.  It's especially nice for when I am doing something with icing.  When I have to wait for something to cool, mix colors, decorate, etc. I just like to have a lot of time.  These weren't too bad time wise.  The cupcakes were easy to make and so was the icing. The recipe said it would make 12 cupcakes - I made 15 and they were the perfect size.  I love how festive they are for Fall/Halloween!  They're from a book that my brother and sister-in-law got me for my birthday (Thanks again, guys!)

Spiderweb Pumpkin and Ginger Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes
• 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• 3/4 tsp. baking powder
• 3/4 tsp. baking soda
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp. ground ginger
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
• 3 large eggs
• 1/4 cup (about 1 1/4 oz.) crystallized ginger cut into 1/8-1/4 inch pieces

• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 3 cups powdered sugar
• 1/2 to 1 tsp. cinnamon
• 1 to 2 tsp. whole milk

Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Line 12 muffin tin cups with paper cupcake liners.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger into a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low-medium speed, beat the melted butter, sugar, and pumpkin until smoothly blended.  Mix in the eggs and crystallized ginger.  On low speed, mix in the flour mixture until it is incorporated.  The batter will be thick.

Fill each paper liner with a generous 1/4 cup of batter, to about 1/2 inch below the top of the liner.  Bake just until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.

Carefully place the wire rack on top of the cupcakes in their pan.  Invert the pan and rack to release the cupcakes onto the rack.  Turn the cupcakes right side up to cool completely.  

In a large bowl attached to an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla on low speed until smooth and thoroughly blended, about 1 minute.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the powdered sugar, mixing until smooth, about 1 minute, then beat on medium speed for 1 minute to lighten the frosting further. 

Frost the cupcakes.  Transfer 1/4 cup of the frosting to a small bowl and stir in enough cinnamon to make it a light brown color and enough milk to make a thick but pourable frosting.  Set aside to use for the spiderwebs.  Use a small spatula to put a second layer of frosting on each cupcake.  Be generous with the icing - a scant 1/4 cup on each.  Make a smooth even layer on top.

Spoon the reserved cinnamon frosting into a small self-sealing freezer bag and seal it.  Cut a tiny hole in one corner of the bag, about 1 1/6 inch long.  Hold the bag about 1/2 inch above a cupcake and slowly pipe two circles, one inside the other, with a dot in the center.  Using a toothpick and beginning at the center on the dot, slowly drag the toothpick to the outside of the outer circle.  Alternate the direction of the toothpick as you continue making lines to form the web pattern, making the next line from the outside of the cup cake to the inside.  Finish the rest of the cupcakes the same way.

Halloween cupcake liners

Love these spiderweb cupcakes!

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pretty darn good pork and sauerkraut

Did you know that Giant Eagle sends coupons in the mail specific to what you?  I didn't know, until about a month ago when we got some coupons for $1 off each for bananas, Kraft grated parmesan cheese, pork, strawberries, and a few other things I can't remember.  After tearing apart the coupons and putting them in my purse I ended up carrying them around for around for almost a month.  During what was supposed to be a quick in-and-out grocery trip, I remembered them, (and remembered that we needed milk) so my little shopping basket became quite heavy.  All this to say, I bought a pork roast and was looking for a good pork roast recipe.  I found this one and am glad I did!  Nick said, "Add this to the 'make before not too long' list" so it must be good!

I had a small roast and squeezed it into a pretty small covered dish, covered it with the veggies and spices, and then squeezed the rest of my veggies into another small covered dish.  As a result of my squishing everything into small dishes there was a ton of liquid in both dishes.  The pork was more or less boiled in the juices from the sauerkraut and diced tomatoes.  This was probably not how it was intended to be, but it worked for us!  Also, when I made it I had a small roas, so I halved the sauerkraut, tomatoes, etc.  Here's the recipe:

Pretty darn good pork and sauerkraut
• 41 oz sauerkraut
• 1 - 4 lb. boneless pork loin roast
• 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
• 3 Celery ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 2 medium carrots, cut in half widthwise and quartered (I substituted with a handful+ of baby
• 1 medium onion, quartered
• 3 tablespoons brown sugar
• 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
• 4 bay leaves
• 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
• 1/4 tsp. pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 325°.  Place half of the sauerkraut in a large roasting pan.  Place pork roast over sauerkraut; top with remaining sauerkraut.  Spoon tomatoes over top.  Arrange the celery, carrots, and onion around the roast.  Sprinkle brown sugar overtop.  Add parsley, bay leaves, oregano, and pepper.

2.  Cover and bake for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160°F, basting occasionally with pan juices.  Discard bay leaves.  Let stand for 15 minutes before slicing.

Source: Sauerkraut Pork Supper