Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pumpkin Bonanza!

Well, folks, it was a late night in the lab yesterday. I had to run a long furnace experiment (and had to go into lab today to finish it blah), and while I waited, I decided that I should tell you good people about all of the delicious fall baking I've been doing lately. I noticed that even though I included cupcakes in the title, my blog is definitely lacking in baked goods. Worry not...this sad fact will change in the coming chilly months.

My research group had coffee hour last week, which I always use as an excuse to go a little crazy with the baking. I made some apple cinnamon muffins (not as interesting) as well as a few pumpkin dishes (more interesting).

These pumpkin pie bars are a fun, easy twist on pumpkin pie. They're sort of halfway between pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake. The only modification I made was to decrease the amount of the topping/crust to 3/4 of the original recipe. Since they turned out so well, I made another bunch for a "practice Thanksgiving" that my friends Lauren and Kellie had at their place on Saturday. Our lovely hosts made the turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, and everyone else brought sides, desserts, and appetizers. There were great friends, great food, and great times all around. :)

Even though the bars were well received, the star of the show was something I made on a whim: pumpkin spice puppy chow. No, not like the stuff by Purina. This kind of puppy chow (aka muddy buddies in some places). If you haven't had it before, a very important piece of your childhood is missing, so go make yourself some. Right now. I'll wait.

The recipe for the pumpkin spice version replaces the peanut butter with Biscoff spread. However, since I couldn't find that, I used Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter, which is basically heaven in a jar. Seriously, the clouds will open up and angels with trumpets will appear when you first taste it. Couple that with some white chocolate and pumpkin pie spice, and you have a deliciously addictive snack. (I may or may not have eaten all of the puppy chow left over from coffee hour...but you have no evidence of this, do you? Mwahaha.) Puppy chow is super easy, and this version really seemed to be a crowd pleaser. Try it at home!

A little bowl of heaven

Also, not quite as heavenly as speculoos butter but still quite delicious is Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter. (I swear I'm not paid by TJ's in any way) It's like apple butter...but with pumpkin. I'm really digging it stirred into Greek yogurt with some granola.

The triumvirate

Once I discovered exactly how nutritionally sparse the PSL from Starbucks is, I've tried to avoid them (sigh). Thus, I sought to make my own. This recipe from Skinnytaste is an excellent substitute which uses the pumpkin butter...and it's super easy! Also, I can make mine more pumpkin-y if I want to without having to learn the language of Starbucks to get my order across. Be your own barista!

Starbucks, eat your heart out!

To use up the last of my pumpkin as well as some walnuts and applesauce I had lying around, I made a small batch of pumpkin nut muffins. They are moist and delicious and a festive way to use up any extraneous gourd you may have hanging out in your fridge.

As much as I love pumpkin, I'm super excited for the next season in line: peppermint! I think I saw some seasonal items popping up on menus already, so it's just around the corner! What's your favorite seasonal flavor?

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