Pumpkin Pecan Pie Cupcakes

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Cupcakes | Veggie and the Beast

Being a vegetarian, my Thanksgiving excitement is less about the main meal and more about the sweet stuff. I love that all of my family members, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, agree on the importance of dessert. Each one of us has our own attitude towards dessert. My grandma used to feed me spoonfuls of chocolate sprinkles because she believed no little girl should be without dessert, even if there were no cookies or cakes nearby. If you tell my mom you’re too full for dessert, she’ll tell you that dessert has its own stomach that’s separate from your “meal stomach” (side bar – my tendency to take my mom’s words literally resulted in many embarrassing moments in my childhood). Upon finishing a meal, my sister will always ask what we are going to have for dessert, and then insist that she just wants “one little bite” to curb her craving. When my sister leaves half-eaten desserts in her wake, we always know that my brother or dad will stop by eventually to perform clean up. This is the rhythm of my family operating on dessert time.

Pumpkin pecan pie cupcake filling

Our dessert time operations are a bit over-the-top. Thanksgiving, for example, isn’t a one-pie occasion. Every person in my family has a specific pie preference, and our pie demands greatly exceed our supply of time for pie-baking. For this reason my mom orders an array of bakery pies every year: french silk, pecan, pumpkin, and sometimes something else, just cause it looks good. Then I usually bring a dessert because, well, I usually have dessert around anyway (this is my take on dessert: must.have.sugar.available.all.the.time).

This year, however, my mom said she would only be ordering 2 french silk pies, (ummm…what? why? who? how?), so she asked me to make a pie. Right, cause I can just “make a pie” without dad being all, “where’s the pumpkin pie?” and Anna being all, “I want a bite of pecan pie. Where’s the pecan pie?” and then me being all, “How can I construct one full pie slice out of miniature slices of 4 different kinds of pie if there are ONLY 2 KINDS OF PIE AVAILABLE?” – Our Thanksgiving dessert balance was clearly in danger of major disruption.

After perhaps one-too-many viewings of Cupcake Wars, I came up with a solution. I decided to make a pumpkin cupcake (one of my faaaavorite kinds of cake, btw) on top of an oatmeal pie crust, and filled with a whiskey-spiked pecan caramel. While most pumpkin cupcakes have cream cheese frosting, I wanted to be respectful of pie and its straightforward goodness, so I went with a simple whipped buttercream that has never done me wrong. See what’s happening here? It’s two pies in one, and in a CUPCAKE, so it’s like 3 different desserts.

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Cupcakes2

The result was a light, fluffy pumpkin cupcake that’s spiced just enough to feel warm and comforting, without overpowering the brown sugar pecan goodness in the middle. The pecan center is cooked to a thick caramel texture, and the touch of salt and splash of whiskey make the flavor deep and playful. With a light-as-air frosting, you’ll probably wonder why you ever even bother with silly old pie (please don’t tell my family I said that).

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Speedy Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

Quick Whole Wheat Cinnamon Roll

I got this peculiar, intense craving on Saturday afternoon. The kind of craving that’s not just about eating something, but about the feeling that comes over you when you make food that’s completely comforting. When the craving hit me, I knew immediately that I needed to make cinnamon rolls on Sunday morning. It didn’t help that shortly after the craving hit, the boy and I went to the mall and walked right past the Cinnabon counter. The scent was intoxicating…I was drunk with cinnamon roll need.

Quick Whole Wheat Cinnamon Roll filling

After searching recipes, I decided to start with the one that promised cinnamon rolls in 90 minutes. Since most cinnamon roll recipes require a 1-2 hour rise time before you even get to the assembly step, the idea of a shortcut enticed me. The sooner the cinnamon rolls made it to my plate, the better. The situation was getting more serious by the minute.

Quick Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolled up

I need to level with you guys, cause this is a big deal. I’ve baked a lot of things in my life. I’ve baked things I couldn’t stomach, and I’ve baked things I couldn’t stop eating, but never have I EVER baked anything as good as this.

Quick Whole Wheat Cinnamon Roll Pan

These cinnamon rolls were absolute perfection. Using half whole wheat flour gives the rolls a wonderful nutty flavor, yet allows them to remain ridiculously light and airy. The filling stretches its buttery cinnamon brown sugar goodness into each layer of the roll. Then, as if that weren’t enough, when the cream cheese icing melts into those cinnamon-filled folds you get a combination that is no less than heavenly. I’m seriously in love. I could go on, but that wouldn’t be fair to you. Let’s get to the good stuff…


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Whole Grain Cheddar Cornbread Biscuits

Cornbread biscuits stack chili

There are certain things that innately go together in my mind, like television marathons and sweatpants, baking and my Norah Jones Pandora Station, or Friday and after-work wine. These things just should never be apart. It would be cruel and wrong.

Dough for cornbread biscuits

Another soulmate combo? Soup and carbs. I realize that some people eat soup without bread…I know in my mind that’s a reality of this world, but that does not mean that I approve. That does not mean that I think it’s okay, or even a sane decision. For instance, the chili that saved my life after yoga class last week would not have been the same without the large nutty seven-grain roll I used to soak up every last bit of chili in my bowl. The white bean vegetable soup I made a few weeks ago would be a whole different animal without the creamy gouda dumplings breaking up the broth goodness. It’s carbs like these that make soup worthwhile, and that’s the hard truth, folks.

Dough for cornbread biscuits glass

Which brings me to the copycat chili I made last week, and the inevitable carb deliciousness that had to accompany it. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not that big of a cornbread fan, but the idea of buttery, flaky, sharp-cheddar cornbread biscuits just felt right in this situation. Going with my gut feeling paid off; The slightly sweet-salty dichotomy pairs perfectly with the spicy, chunky chili.

Although biscuit recipes are always filled with butter, I like to make them a bit healthier by using whole wheat flour whenever possible. In addition to the fiber and nutrition boost, the slight nuttiness you get from the whole wheat works well with the cornmeal. These do not rise quite as much as they would with all-purpose flour, but they are definitely flaky enough to satisfy your most severe biscuit craving.

Dough for cornbread biscuits cut

I love biscuits for their taste, but I also love them because they’re the impatient girl’s bread-making dream. There’s no need to wait for silly things like dough rising, and you only give the dough a few good kneads before it’s cohesive enough to roll out, cut, stick into the oven, and move on to more pressing things…like eating said biscuits…with soup.


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Zen-Inducing Vegetarian Chili

vegetarian chili spoons biscuits

There are some times when you just need a bowl of comfort. Like last week, for example, when I decided to go to a Yoga Sculpt class all by myself for the first time. For the past month or so I’d been going with my sister to the classes. In the first class I got sick (literally in the middle of the class), but after that every class seemed to get easier. I figured it helped that I was prepared and knew what was coming, but I also falsely convinced myself that the classes were getting easier because I was getting SO STRONG.

They weren’t getting easier. I wasn’t getting stronger. In fact, this one lonesome time last week, I voluntarily walked into the hot, fiery, sweaty hell of my nightmares. 15 minutes in, I began thinking of my favorite CraigsList ad, and then after that slight amusement the hard reality set in: I had no way out, the walls were tightening…and my neighbor seemed to be inching closer…and did he just fling SWEAT at me? Oh no he didn’t…

vegetarian chili spoon

As the minutes (hours?) baby-stepped by, I looked around and wondered if any of my classmates were contemplating a revolution. This instructor clearly had no intention of letting us out…ever. We must do something, I thought. We must.

After my mind finally numbed itself to some of the pain, I found a light at the end of the tunnel (I even realized at the time that assuming there would be an “end” was optimistic). The hot torture chamber happened to sit across the street from one of my favorite restaurants, with my favorite chili, just waiting to be taken home. I promised myself that if I made it out alive, the first thing I would do is faceplant into that bowl of chili.

vegetarian chili spoon 2

After finally leaving the class, my legs felt like Jell-o and my hands would not stop shaking. I sent the boy a text that said, “Just leafing the gardens workout ass ever.” I noticed my typos just before pressing send, but didn’t bother correcting the message. He’d get the idea, and I couldn’t fathom expelling any more energy, even through my fingertips.

Just so you know, this class really was hard. I know because I’m strong and stuff, so otherwise I wouldn’t have thought it was hard. Yeah, that’s me…super strong and not a sissy.

This chili is truly attitude-altering, and the thought of it will power you through even the most awful of awful things. It’s warm-your-soul food with a thick tomato base, and just enough of a spicy kick mixed with a blend of chunky veggies and beans. I devoured the bowl in approximately 4 minutes, and immediately felt my mood turn around, as my body reverted back to its normal and less achy/shaky self.

After this chili saved my life last week, I realized I needed to find a recipe to have on hand in case the need for comfort hit when my go-to chili restaurant was not convenient. I found the restaurant’s Chicken Salsa Chili recipe online, then played around a bit until it matched my memory of the restaurant’s vegetarian version. The outcome was a stick-to-your-ribs hearty bowl of warm-your-soul goodness.

vegetarian chili spoon 3

The hardest part of this recipe is the patience it requires. It’s super quick to put together, but then you need to let it simmer. The longer the soup simmers, the more it will thicken, the more the flavors will blend, and the more awesome it will be when poured into your bowl. Think of what a yogi would say…probably something like “The concept of time lies only within the mind…know you are stronger than you think you are. Do another downward facing dog to rest and regain your strength” – okay guys…am I the only one who rolls their eyes when an instructor calls downward facing dog a “rest” position? Downward facing dog does NOT feel restful, so let’s stop lying to ourselves and just curl up in child’s pose dreaming of soup. Word?

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Secret Single Behavior and Brussels Sprout Quinoa Gratin

brussels sprout quinoa gratin

One of my favorite Sex and the City episodes discusses secret single behavior, which is something that both men and women can probably relate to. After Carrie moves in with Aidan she talks with her friends about the loss of her alone time, aka the loss of time for her secret single behaviors, such as standing in the kitchen reading fashion magazines while eating a tower of saltines with grape jelly.

I’m fortunate that my relationship has never involved much humility. We both realize how ridiculous the other one is, so nothing surprises us too much. At the same time, I do notice my behavior shift a bit when he’s out of town. Since we’re currently right smack dab in the middle of prime deer hunting season, the past few weeks have brought on a lot of secret single behavior opportunities.

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