Friday, December 3, 2010

One last fall recipe- Pecan streusel pumpkin muffins

Okay, one last fall/pumpkin dessert. It’s December and I’m super excited to begin baking Christmas/holiday/winter desserts (and to start my series of giveaways!). I love baking holiday desserts and I always feel like it is so rushed since we only have the month of December to bake them.

So I haven’t had a chance to get back in the kitchen yet to bake, but I plan on doing some major baking this weekend. Until then, I wanted to squeeze in one more pumpkin fall recipe. These pumpkin muffins with pecan streusel were made by me a few weeks ago and they were delicious.

The muffins were moist and flavored with nutmeg and cinnamon. The pecan streusel was a great addition and I love how these muffins look. I’ll definitely be making these again next year.

Stay tuned for a ton of holiday desserts and giveaways! I’m doing a series of giveaways in December in honor of the holiday season. I’ve been working hard these last few weeks to coordinate these giveaways. I’m so excited, I hope you are too!

Pecan Streusel Pumpkin muffins (adapted from Joelen’s Culinary Adventures)

1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin/cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

2. Whisk the oil and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs, pumpkin, and water and whisk until combined.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir to fully incorporate.

4. Pour the batter into cupcake liners, about 2/3 full.

5. To make the topping, combine the sugar, butter, cinnamon and the pecan pieces.  Use a fork and mix until it butter and sugar resembles a coarse meal. You can also rub the mixture between your hands so that the butter mixes thoroughly with the sugar. Sprinkle the topping  over the muffins before baking. Bake for approximately 20 minutes.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Twofer Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

A few weeks ago, I saw a recipe for a Thanksgiving Twofer pie from Dorie Greenspan, which combines pecan and pumpkin pie.  I thought it was such a great idea, letting you eat two Thanksgiving favorites in one dessert.

Unfortunately, no one else enjoys pecan pie or pumpkin pie in my family other than me.  I wanted to make it for Thanksgiving, but I didn’t want to be stuck with an entire pie.

Then I found a recipe for a pumpkin and cheesecake layered pie with a pecan streusel topping. My siblings love cheesecake. They are always requesting cheesecake. So I decided to try making this pie, allowing me to have pumpkin pie and letting them have cheesecake.

Of course the brilliant idea backfired. After all the requests, my brothers barely ate any of the pie — not even the cheesecake portion. I thought it was pretty good, except I don’t like cheesecake much so I ended up only wanting the pumpkin part.

It’s always hard for me to make the effort to make pies because my siblings don’t care much for pies in general. The recipe was a little time consuming to put together. Since my family barely ate it, I don’t know if I’ll make it again. But if you like pumpkin pie and you like cheesecake, this may be a great “twofer” pie for you.

You can view the full recipe here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Balcony Grill & Bar

2710 Alton Pkwy
Ste 215
Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 387-0888

Balcony Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

The Balcony is a Taiwanese restaurant/bar located in the popular Jamboree plaza that houses 85 C Bakery, Guppy House, Kula Sushi and many other food spots.

I visited The Balcony once (you can read the post and see the menu here) but I wasn’t particularly impressed. However, the one thing that I liked was that it serves snow shaved ice. With only a few spots serving snowflake shaved ice, The Balcony is the closest location to San Diego that serves it. For those who have not experienced snowflake shaved ice, blocks of ice with condensed milk are frozen and shaved into thin sheets, using a special machine, producing a very fine shaved ice that tastes almost like ice cream rather than ice.  It is a Taiwanese style of shaved ice that has become very popular in the last few years.

So on my last trip to the O.C. area, I stopped by The Balcony in the hopes of satisfying by cravings for snowflake shaved ice.

We decided to order some pineapple fried rice so we would have something salty to go with the sweet ice. I wasn’t very impressed with the pineapple rice. There was some curry powder flavoring the rice and some shredded dried pork on top.

For the ice, we chose the mango and condensed milk one.

For some reason the ice here is not nearly as good as the ones served in LA. The ice isn’t as fine, and isn’t very sweet. It looked right but it didn’t taste right. I left not feeling satisfied at all. I guess next time I’ll have to make the drive to Rowland Heights or San Gabriel Valley for some real snowflake shaved ice.