Monday, October 27, 2014

Pumpkin cupcakes

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Today I went to a great gelato place in downtown Los Angeles and they had a pumpkin spiced affogato.  YUM.  I realized after making these cupcakes that I should have added a couple of teaspoons of espresso to make this a pumpkin spice latte cupcake.  Oops.  Well that is my next inspiration.

This time of year makes me so  happy.  It's not just the pumpkins.  It's the pomegranates and butternut squash and soups that excite me.  I have a pomegranate tree with fruits just almost turning a beautiful red.  So excited to pick those!  Anyhow back to the pumpkin...  It doesn't feel like autumn here in sunny SoCal so I thought I would make it fall with these beautiful leaf cupcake liners and sprinkles.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes Recipe
Adapted from Georgetown Cupcake

2‑1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1‑1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons mango honey
1/3 cup hot water
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two standard cupcake pans with twelve paper baking cups each, or grease pans with butter if not using baking cups.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt on a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper and set aside.

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl with a handheld electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Stop to add the sugar; then beat on medium speed until well incorporated.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition. Mix in the pumpkin puree and honey. Reduce the speed to low. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then gradually add one third of the hot water, beating until well incorporated. Add another third of the flour mixture, followed by one third of the hot water. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining hot water, and mix slowly until just combined. Take care not to overmix the batter so the cupcakes will bake up light and fluffy.

Use a standard-size ice cream scoop to fill each baking cup with batter, so the wells are two-thirds full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Frosting:
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until well combined. Be sure to beat on high speed for at least two minutes at the end to ensure that the frosting is light and fluffy.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hashbrown Quiche

Pepperjack cheese quiche with hash-brown crust

Weekend brunch item to knock your socks off!  Pepperjack cheese is one of my favorites.  Actually I think all cheeses are my favorite.  

I've been wanting to make this dish for a long time and the hash-browns were just waiting to be opened.  When I decided to make it this morning I realized I didn't have enough sour cream so I used some cream cheese instead.  I only had extra large eggs so I reduced it to be roughly the same amount as a large egg.  I didn't have scallions so I opened up one of my salad packs and sprinkled on some chopped spinach.  

Changing a recipe to what you have on hand is really easy.  Trust yourself that it will still taste good and making mistakes is the only way we can understand how ingredients work in a recipe.

Pepperjack cheese quiche with hash-brown crust recipe
Adapted from Martha Stewart

2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus more for pan
1 package (1 pound) frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
8 extra large eggs
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup cream cheese
4 to 5 ounces shredded pepperjack cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 9-by-2 1/2-inch springform pan with butter. Line the sides of the pan with strips of waxed paper (the same height as pan); brush paper with butter.

Squeeze excess moisture from hash browns. Mix in a bowl with butter, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.   
Tip: beat egg separately then add to the hash-brown mixture to make sure the egg mixes properly.

Pat into bottom and up sides of prepared pan, using a moistened dry measuring cup. 

Place on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until set, 15 to 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk sour cream, cream cheese,  pepperjack cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until well combined; whisk in 7 remaining eggs.   
Tip: beating the eggs in a separate container and then adding them to your mixture ensures the whites and yolks will be distributed evenly.

Pour into crust, and sprinkle with spinach. Bake until set, 45 to 50 minutes. 

Unmold quiche, and peel off waxed paper before serving.  

Voila!  Perfect quiche!  So yummy!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Classic cheesecake

Classic cheesecake with Strawberry Creme Anglaise

It's one of those recipes that you pop out for your loved one or somebody special.  But I say you should just make it for yourself because you deserve it.  Working hard, juggling jobs, parenting, relationships and the list goes on.  

I had a chance to watch Disney's Brave with my almost seven year old son.  I was thrilled to see that the princess finally did not need true love to find happiness.  There's something that she said at the end of the movie that resonated with me.  Princess Merida: "There are those who say fate is something beyond our command. That destiny is not our own, but I know better. Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it."  So what is fate and why do people believe in it.  Is it really as simple as Merida tells us?  Does fate live within us?  And how does psychotherapy fit into it?

Theraputic topic for the week: fate and destiny.

Destiny is different than fate. Destiny, as psychiatrist Alexander Lowen (1980) notes, "is related to the word destination. It refers to what . . . [we become], whereas fate describes what one is." (p. 49) Destiny is what we do with fate, how we play the hand we're each dealt by fate. Destiny is determined not solely by fate, but by how we choose to respond to fate. We are responsible for those choices. Part of each person's fate includes a personal destiny. But whether that destiny is fulfilled or not depends in part on the person and whether he or she is willing to accept responsibility for and courageously pursue that destiny. Finding and fulfilling our destiny is a principal goal of existential depth psychology.
Excerpt from Psychology Today in an article called Essential Secrets of Psychotherapy : Fate, Destiny and Responsibility written by Stephen Diamond.

Classic Cheesecake Recipe

For the crust:
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the filling:
2 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbs. water
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin

To serve: Strawberry Creme Anglaise
2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup strawberries

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

To make the crust, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and lemon zest, and process to mix well. Add the butter and process until the crumbs begin to stick together. Drape your hand with plastic wrap to form a glove, and press the crumbs evenly and firmly over the bottom and 2 inches up the side of a 9-by-2 1/2-inch springform pan. Bake the crust 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

To make the filling, in a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and granulated sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until well blended. Beat in 1/2 cup of the cream and the vanilla until incorporated.

Place the water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let soften for 5 minutes. Place the saucepan over low heat and stir until the gelatin is dissolved, then gradually whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup cream. Add the gelatin mixture to the cream cheese mixture and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. Spoon the filling into the cooled crust. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days. 

For the strawberry creme anglaise: Set a large fine strainer over a medium bowl and set the bowl in a shallow pan of cold water. In a large saucepan, combine the half-and-half and vanilla bean and cook over moderately low heat just until small bubbles appear around the rim, about 5 minutes.
In another medium bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks just until combined. Whisk in half of the hot half-and-half in a thin stream. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately strain the sauce into the bowl in the cold water bath to stop the cooking. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the sauce. Refrigerate until chilled.  Hull strawberries and add blender with the creme anglaise. Blend thoroughly. 

To serve, run a knife around the pan sides to loosen the cake. Release the pan sides and place the cake on a plate. Cut the cake into individual slices and spoon strawberry creme anglaise over each slice.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Catering for Charity

Red Velvet Cupcakes for Alderwood Elementary School's Cakewalk Fundraiser!  For more catering event details and information please visit

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