Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

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It’s official. My baby is growing up. My oldest daughter turned 8 this weekend, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around that idea. As a Mommy, I have mixed feelings. I miss my little cuddle bunny that called vegetables “begebles”, but I am also treasuring the conversations we are having now, as she tries to sort through her little world. I’m having to learn to give her rope some more slack, as far as responsibilities she can work her way into. One of my greatest struggles is letting go of the reigns in the kitchen. It’s “my” safe zone, and having someone else tinkering in there makes my heart beat faster. I want things done a certain way, and egg shells in my bowl makes my blood pressure rise. I’m learning to grit my teeth, and try to enjoy the process of baking and cooking with her, and it’s getting better every time. She loves being a part of the process, and I love to see the excitement as she learns new things. A couple weekends ago, we made cupcakes!
I’m excited to share my favorite cupcake recipe. I stock up on canned pumpkin through out the year and wait excitedly for the announcement that it is fall, so that I can make these. I have made them twice now in the last few weeks, and each time, I have had to share them with friends quick, because they do not last more than a day or two at my house, which is plain dangerous. On that day we  were having company over and my friend had insisted (it was more like threatened) that I make these cupcakes for dessert. I got to bake them with the girls, and actually let my ‘little lady” do most of the measuring and stirring. She had a blast! The end result was two girls, happily licking bowls and spatulas of batter, watching the oven as the cakes baked. It made all the teeth gritting and elevated heart rate totally worth it.

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These cupcakes are great by themselves, but I can never resist piping some cinnamon cream cheese frosting on them. If you don’t have access to canned pumpkin, here’s a link on how to make it at home. If you get the canned stuff, be sure to get the 100% pumpkin puree, not the pumpkin pie filling. There’s a significant difference. You could also substitute 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice blend for all the separate spices. I had posted the cream cheese recipe before. Just add a teaspoon of cinnamon to this recipe, and you have the frosting I used.

Adapted from All recipes
Makes 24 cupcakes.
Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup milk
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. In a bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg,cloves, allspice, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter, white sugar and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (you should see the mixture look noticeably lighter in color). Add the eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to combine before adding the next. Stir in the milk and pumpkin puree after the last egg. Mix in the flour mixture, stirring until just incorporated. Scoop the mixture into the prepared muffin tins ( I use an ice cream scoop).

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3. Bake until golden, and a toothpick to the center comes out clean (22-25 minutes). Cool slightly in the pan, and then transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Frost the cupcakes with the prepared cinnamon cream cheese frosting linked above, or simply enjoy as is.
Enjoy!

DSC_0033Devotion For the Day:

We have been reviewing Galatians 5 that talks about the fruit of the Holy Spirit with our kids and I wanted to share it with you.

Galatians 5:22-23- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things, there is no law.

As we were talking over these qualities, my husband explained to the girls that you cannot portray this fruit without the help of the Holy Spirit, and I was thinking…. it’s so true. We all admire the attributes above, but humanly speaking, it totally goes against our nature. It becomes so hard to do the very things we wish we could, until the Holy Spirit is within us. These qualities are then an outward manifestation of the wonderful transformation happening within us!

Sour Cream Banana Bread

I wish you could smell my house right now. It smells divine! I just pulled some banana bread out of the oven a little while ago, and we are camped out by the counter waiting for it to cool. I have to share a little story about my quest to find a go-to banana bread recipe. You see… I really dislike bananas, thanks to my older sister who decided when I was about 5 years old that she hated bananas. Seeing as I thought she was the smartest kid ever (don’t tell her I said that. I will deny it..) I figured I would follow in her foot steps. I actually talked myself into hating bananas, and to this day I can’t stand them. Of course I would marry a husband that LOVES bananas, and now have an almost 2 year old that would sell her left leg for a banana. She is bananas for bananas 🙂
I had to find a way to make use of left over bananas, and the quest to find a good bread recipe began. I tried a few, and each time my sweetie was quick to let me know it was not like the banana bread his mom made him when he was younger. Apparently, it was the bomb. Just when I was about to give up, I tried baking this one, and it won his approval. This is my official recipe now. It is not too sweet, and the cinnamon and nutmeg give it a wonderful spice flavor, without overpowering the bananas. I love mixing in a half cup of walnuts or pecans, but my sweetie hates nuts in his bread. Feel free to add them if you please. When it comes to picking the bananas, use the ripest you can find. The darker the spots and skin, the better. They have more sugars in them, and taste more banana-ey (I made that up) when baked.
Oh… and a little side note. I discovered something that has been really helpful. I was throwing out a lot of bananas because they were overripe and I was not ready to bake bread until I discovered that you can freeze them skin on in a plastic bag until you are ready to bake. Just thaw and mash. I now have a constant supply of bananas for bread.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp lemon juice
3 bananas

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
2. Melt your butter and cool slightly(I microwave mine). Meanwhile, sift out the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl and set aside.
3. In a large bowl mix the butter and the sugar. Next, add in the eggs and the vanilla. Make sure the egg is well incorporated.
4. Add the flour mix to the liquid mixture in 3 batches, combining until smooth.
5. Mash the bananas and mix in the sour cream and  lemon juice. Fold in the banana mixture to batter. Do not over mix. Pour into greased pan.
6. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Note: I often use three mini loaf pans instead of the 9×5 pan. They bake for 30 minutes. It makes it easier to share with my friends. This bread is dangerously good, and having too much of it around messes with my resolve 🙂

Devotion For The Day:

Wonderful Me:

 I read Psalms 139 a few days ago, and the words keep coming back to me. So much so that I HAVE to post this. Last night I was thinking about those verses again and the enormity of what they really mean. My sweet hubby would probably tell you that I have a PhD in being my worst critic. At the drop of a hat, I can give you a list a mile long of my imperfections. My prayer lately has been that I would be able to see myself as God sees me. That is why this chapter really speaks to me. I was thinking last night about all of God’s creation. The stars and the planets, all the varieties of plants and animals that he took such care to make, one different from another. The sea and sky and everything in it… I mean… there is no doubt that God’s works are wonderful beyond our human comprehension. Yet the pride of His heart was not in all the plants and animals and all the other stuff. It was in the creation of me and you. WE are the apple of His eye, created so that we can have a relationship with our Daddy.
The cool thing isn’t just that He made me, it is that He continues to know everything about me. When I rise, when I sleep, my thoughts (ouch) and my deeds. Yet all these things do not diminish His great love for me, and His desire to be close to me. As much as we might think that He would go running for the hills once He gets to know the real us, He always has His hand stretched out towards us. He loves us, and thinks we are wonderful. He loves Me… and He thinks I’m totally awesome. I hope these words from Psalms speak to you as much as they did to me.