Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Spice Cake

I first made this pumpkin spice cake in 2008 using regular, unbleached flour and followed the recipe exactly. This was before I developed a sensitivity to wheat. The cake was delicious, and the aroma of the spices as it baked in the oven was heavenly. You can find the original recipe here.

I made the cake again in 2012, adapting the recipe by reducing the amount of butter and substituting with applesauce, reducing the amount of sugar and salt and using half a 10-ounce bag of dark chocolate chips (Nestle), which are larger than semi-sweet (they are labeled as 53% cacao). That adapted recipe is below. 

The photo above is of the cake I made the day after Thanksgiving following the original recipe, only I substituted 2 cups of gluten-free flour (Cup 4 Cup brand) and used only 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips (from Trader Joe's). Whichever way you make it, this cake is sure to please.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Spice Cake

2 cups flour (or gluten-free flour)
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, drained (put applesauce in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and let drain)
1-1/3 cups dark chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9"x13" baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on both ends. 

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda and salt; set aside.

3) With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin and applesauce (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

4) Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using foil overhang, lift cake from pan. Peel off foil and cut cake into squares. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Review of Hard Ciders

Hello! I hope everyone in the U.S. had a very happy and peaceful Thanksgiving. Today I thought I'd share a selection of hard ciders that I've been sampling lately. Cider is a wonderful fall beverage, and great for those who don't like the taste of beer or have to avoid it due to gluten intolerance

The first one is called Samuel Smith's Organic Cider from England. This was my beverage choice yesterday, Thanksgiving day. It comes in such a large bottle that I was able to enjoy it before dinner and with dinner.

Described as a medium dry cider with light body, clean apple flavor and a gentle, apple blossom finish, this cider is good paired with food. It's quite a bit drier than my favorite cider (J.K.'s) but I liked it enough that I would buy it again.

The next one, J.K.'s Scrumpy Hard Cider, is my favorite. If you only try one cider, I'd suggest this one. Made in Michigan on a family farm since the 1850's, it has the perfect amount of sweetness for me -- not too much, but enough that it isn't dry. Unfiltered and organic, it's hearty (not clear) and very flavorful. It's a satisfying cider that goes well with spicy foods. Their website shows a special seasonal called Winterruption that I'd like to try. It's described as apple pie in a bottle with flavors of cinnamon, vanilla and maple. Yum! However, our local store only sells the Orchard Gate Gold. I've emailed the company to ask if their product can be purchased online or if there are any other stores in our area that sell it.

The next one, Zombie Killer, is also produced in Michigan. It has a unique name and a unique taste. It is a hard cider with honey and cherry added. The cherry stands out quite strongly. It's a tart cherry, though -- like the kind you bake with -- not a sweet cherry. I don't really taste the honey. The color is quite pretty, and clear. This is a nice cider, but not a favorite.

There are two more ciders in our refrigerator that I will review next time. One is a pumpkin cider by Crown Valley Brewing out of Missouri. The other is Henry Hotspur's Hard Pressed for Cider, which comes from the Pacific Northwest. 

I hope your Thanksgiving was lovely. Ours was. The weather was beautiful! We moved our spread of appetizers out onto the porch where we stayed until dinner was ready. It was even warm enough to open the windows. By the way, the square cheese on the right side of the board below is fantastic. It's Trader Joe's Fromage Pavé, a soft ripened cheese from France. Really yummy. The crackers in the middle of the round tray are Trader Joe's Pistachio Pomegranate Crisps that were a huge hit. I was sorry I couldn't try one (they're not gluten free). What yummy foods and beverages did you enjoy this Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of mine, tied for first place with Christmas. Each year we host Thanksgiving dinner for our family. This year, we'll be one person short though. My husband's niece used to live 30 minutes away and would join us if she wasn't scheduled to work (she's a labor and delivery nurse). Now she lives across the country in Alaska. We'll miss her!

It'll be just five of us for dinner this year, but there will be plenty of food! We'll start with a selection of cheeses, crackers, herb-marinated green olives, Peppadew peppers and cornichons. Dinner will consist of turkey and gravy, stuffing, cranberry conserve, roasted Brussels sprouts, potatoes Anna, steamed green beans, carrot souffle from Trader Joe's (my husband sampled it last weekend and said it was fantastic), and corn casserole that my sister-in-law makes. For dessert, I made a traditional pumpkin pie. I'm also trying a new recipe this year: cranberry-apple cider sorbet. I'll let you know how it is. I'll also try to photograph the potato dish and share that recipe with you. It's so simple and so delicious -- and you can make it ahead of time.

My table this year is on the minimalist side. I decided against a runner and opted for a small bouquet of fresh flowers over the usual gourds and pumpkins. I bought three grocery store bouquets (two colors of small mums and mini sunflowers) and combined them into one. I'm not a very confident flower arranger, but I am pretty pleased with how this little bouquet turned out. 

My favorite glass turkey skinny taper holders from Williams-Sonoma are making their annual appearance on the table. Also, two of my glassybaby votive holders are featured this year. The one in the first photo is called Gingerbread, and the second is called Warm Gravy. Perfect color names for a holiday table! If you're looking for a unique present for that special someone, consider a glassybaby votive holder. I have six of them, each a different color. My friend, who introduced me to the Seattle-based company, owns dozens of them (it can become a bit of an addiction).

I hope you all have a very happy and peaceful Thanksgiving. Thank you for following My Little Bungalow. To those of you who leave comments, thank you for your support. I am truly grateful.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Fall Colors

Butternut squash-corn chowder, recipe here

Get inspired! Visit my Autumn Pinterest board.

Friday, November 4, 2016

A New Magazine: The Magnolia Journal

I was at the grocery store yesterday and as I approached the checkout I spied the above magazine cover. Instantly recognizing Chip and Joanna Gaines of "Fixer Upper" fame, I was eager to take a peek. A quick flip through the pages of The Magnolia Journal's premier issue told me this was a magazine I was going to like. At $7.99, it's a bit of a splurge, but if a magazine has really good content and is one that I'll hold on to for a long time, I consider it worth the money.

When I got home, I quickly put away the groceries and immediately headed to the porch with my new magazine (postponing chores like laundry and emptying the dishwasher). I'm really impressed with the layout, the content and the writing and photography. I placed an order for a 2-year subscription. The spring 2017 issue will be the first mailed and should arrive in February. Unfortunately Magnolia Journal is only a quarterly publication -- I wish it were at least bimonthly, it's that good. If you see it in your local store, be sure to check it out. Or subscribe online.

Have you visited the Magnolia Market website? There are lots of great things for sale ...

22" pine cone wreath, $85.00

Rustic wooden board, $54.00

8" round marble riser, $12.00

Seed & Supply sack, $10.00

Magnolia Silos shirt, $26.00

Joanna Gaines also has a blog called At Home with recipes, DIY projects, renovations and gardening tips. We don't have cable so I can't watch current episodes of "Fixer Upper" on TV, but I have watched many previous episodes online. In general I really like her style. Some of the accessories she uses aren't necessarily my taste, but the overall look is one that I really like. Are you a fan of the show "Fixer Upper" or the Magnolia Market website or blog? If so, be sure to check out the new magazine!

This is not a sponsored post.
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