Posts Tagged ‘pumpkin’


dinner 2

Lots of desserts

dessert table 4


bar 2

More meat

dinner 3

Delicious side dishes


Too many desserts

dessert table 2


guests guests 2 lauren sara

guests newlyweds



decor 2

decor 3

room 1

Much too many desserts

dessert table after

More food than one could imagine out of a NYC kitchen


More people than you’d usually fit in a 1-bedroom apartment

getting food

5 Years of Thanksgiving with Friends

Five years ago, in what started out as a “dinner club” with two other couples, Matt and I hosted our first mock Thanksgiving dinner with friends.  Four friends came to Matt’s apartment at the time for a turkey, sweet potato casserole, and some other dishes that aren’t memorable enough to stand out in my mind.  It was a fun night and such a success that in the years that followed, our intimate dinner party of six has turned into an annual event with almost twenty friends.  It gives us an opportunity to be in the kitchen together, share an evening with many of our closest friends, and show them how thankful we are for them through delicious food.

matt lauren cooking

This year’s dinner was so much fun and full of many tasty traditional and non-traditional Thanksgiving dishes: Turkey, Brisket, Turkey Meatloaf, Salad, String Bean Casserole, Sweet Potato Casserole, Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Parmesan, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Pumpkin Bread/Muffins

dinner 1

And of course, as you surely already know, lots of desserts

dessert table 5

Cookie sandwiches: Red Velvet Cookie Sandwiches with White Chocolate Buttercream, Chocolate Chip Cookies with Mocha Ganache and Chewy Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Filling

sandwich cookies 2

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake bars

bars on plate 1

Cookie Dough Topped Brownies

cooke dough brownies

Gooey Caramel Butter Bars

caramel bars

Chocolate Chunk Almond Butter Bars

Brownies with White Chocolate Buttercream and Mocha Ganache

I am excited about the recipes I have to share from the dinner party over the next few weeks!  There are definitely some new desserts that I know I’ll be making again

What is your favorite Thanksgiving-related tradition?

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In case you haven’t noticed, I have a sweet tooth:-) I always have room for dessert, but if you can make a side dish that tastes like a dessert, isn’t that even better?  Combining that with the fact that pumpkin is one of my all time favorite dessert flavors, you can understand why I’d be a fan of pumpkin bread.


I’ve had lots of pumpkin muffins and breads, some are dry, some are too dense, and some just lack a true pumpkin flavor.  This recipe, however, produces a light, moist and flavorful bread that also works for muffins.pumpkin muffins 1

This recipe is super easy.  It is the one my mom has been making for years and she had gotten it from a friend of hers originally.  You can do all of the stirring by hand so no mixer necessary.

First, take your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt) and whisk them in a large bowldry ingred

Set that aside and combine your wet ingredients, pumpkin, oil, water and eggs

wet ingred

Add your wet to dry

adding wet to dry

Stir until well combined


The recipe is set to make 3 pumpkin bread loaves, however I wanted a little bit of variety

badder in mini muffin tin

An ice cream scoop makes the perfect transfer to muffin tins

scooping badder 1

scooping badder 2badder in reg muffin tin

A few pumpkin seeds for crunch



pumpkin seedsmuffin badder with pumpkin seeds



1 loaf for good measure

badder in loaf pan

Bake until bread and muffin tops are rounded and a knife comes out cleanregular muffins done loaf 2



mini muffins cooked

Cool everything on wire racks

all pumpkin

Eat it as a side dish



Or for breakfast

pumpkin muffins 2

My Favorite Pumpkin Bread

Makes 3 regular-sized loaves OR 1 loaf, 1 dozen regular sized muffins and 2 dozen mini muffins


3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 small 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)  – about 1 3/4 cup

1 cup canola oil

2/3 cup water

4 large eggs


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Grease pans with non-stick cooking spray and/or line muffin tins with cup holders

Whisk together dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl and set aside

Combine wet ingredients (pumpkin through eggs)

Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and mix well until combined

Pour batter into baking pans

Baking times for different forms:

Loaves: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Regular muffins: 18 to 25 minutes

Mini muffins: 16 to 20 minutes

Bake until bread and muffin tops are rounded and a knife comes out clean



Cool pumpkin bread out of baking pans on wire rack


What is your favorite dessert-like side dish?

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Layers of Fall

One of my favorite desserts for entertaining (and eating) is a trifle.  It allows you to incorporate lots of different textures and flavors into one dish.  It also is visually impressive but almost always EASY to make.  Historically I have made summer trifles with berries, angel food cake or pound cake and cool whip and pudding.  It’s September, now, so fall flavors are constantly on my mind.  Pumpkin. Apples.  Cinnamon.  This Fall Trifle takes some prep time but is very easy to put together.

top of trifle

First thing I do when making a trifle is figure out how I will get in all of the textures I want: Creamy, Crunchy, Soft.  I also consider the look of the trifle, what are some colors that will go well together but not blend too closely to one another?

For crunch a few cookie options came to mind (graham crackers and gingersnaps especially), so when I found these in my parent’s kitchen I grabbed them!  I think of them as a ginger-spiked Oreo:-)  Regular gingersnaps would have worked too.  I like the little spicy bite with all of the other sweet ingredients.

ginger cookie

I just crushed them in a Ziploc bag.  No food processor required since you don’t want crumbs, just small chunks of cookies!

crushed cookies

Next I thought about the creamy ingredients.  I always include cool whip in trifles because it is light and creamy and tailors well to any flavor profile.  Fresh whipped cream would be even better (hmmm maybe cinnamon whipped cream!), but I was going for some less indulgent ingredients.  In addition to the whipped cream I chose to use vanilla pudding which is creamy but thicker in texture.

pudding ingredients

One of my favorite guilt-free EASY recipes is pumpkin spice cake.  All that you need is spice cake mix, pumpkin, egg whites (or egg beaters) and water.  I can promise you that the cake will be moist and flavorful.  No one ever knows that it is low fat.  Use this as a base for muffins or cupcakes with cream cheese icing!

spice cake ingredients

In the summer, berries are usually a perfect trifle component.  Sliced banana is also tasty, but sometimes the mushier texture doesn’t provide enough contrast.  What dessert is more fall than apple pie?  Enter, apple pie filling!

cropped apples

When you are ready to build your trifle, layout all of the ingredients and decide on an order for layering.  Consider texture and color for this.

trifle parts

For this trifle, layer the apple pie filling on the bottom of your trifle dish (a large glass bowl would work too).  The apples are a little too heavy to have in the upper layers.

apples in trifle

Next is the pudding.  Apples + pudding = slightly crunchy + creamy.

pudding on apples

The crumbled spice cake is next.

cake on pudding

Then cool whip for that cool and creamy addition.

cool whip on cake

Cookies next for another crunch layer.

cookies on cool whip

After that, you repeat the prior layers except for the apple pie filling.  Leave cool whip as your final layer and decorate as you wish.  I scattered cookie crumbs and a couple pieces of the apple.

top of trifle

The layers don’t have to be perfect, does that mean I should call this rustic??

trifle 1

Serve with a long spoon for scooping.  Dig deep for that apple pie filling!

trifle with scoop

Fall Trifle

Serves 10-12


Prepared apple pie filling (recipe below)

Vanilla pudding, 2 small boxes prepared (use instructions on box)

1/2 of prepared pumpkin spice cake (recipe below), broken up into small pieces

2 8-ounce containers of cool whip

2-3 cups of cookie crumbs (gingersnaps or a similar variety are recommended)


Layer ingredients as follows-

Apple pie filling


Spice cake

Cool whip

Cookie crumbs

Repeat, except for apples, leaving cool whip as final layer

Decorate as desired

Refrigerate prior to serving


When layering ingredients, cover each prior layer completely.  You want to get a taste of each component in every bite.  Plus, the view from the side is prettier when you can see each element

Instead of or in addition to the cookies, toasted walnuts or pecans would make a great crunch layer

If you like butterscotch, butterscotch pudding would probably be a great replacement for vanilla

I chose to use lower fat ingredients in this recipe because 1) I knew that the way it comes together it does NOT taste low fat, and 2) the rest of the desserts planned for our night were extra indulgent.  This version was made with fat free cool whip and fat free, sugar free pudding

Spice Cake:


1 box spice cake mix

1 small can (15 oz.) pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling

2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg replacement

1/2 cup water


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 9×13 pan or baking dish with cooking spray (if you want to, you can make into 24 cupcakes instead and save the extra; they will freeze well)

Combine all ingredients until batter is smooth.  A mixer is easier but this can also be done by hand

Spread batter into baking dish and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until knife or toothpick comes out clean

Allow to cool before using in trifle

Apple Pie Filling


3 golden delicious apples, sliced (peeling optional)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

Dash of cinnamon

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons granulated sugar


Combine apples, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.  Set aside

Melt butter in medium pan over low-medium heat

Sprinkle in granulated sugar and stir until mixture is lightly browned

Pour apple mixture into pan and stir

Cook over medium heat for approximately 30 minutes or until apple slices are softened

Allow to cool before using in trifle

What are your favorite flavors of fall?

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