hazelnut pumpkin cake + nutella frosting

This is a holiday cake built to impress. A spicy pumpkin cake with a creamy nutella buttercream frosting and roasted hazelnut topping. People will be so happy they invited you to their holiday party.  

hazelnut pumpkin cake + nutella frosting

double hazelnut pumpkin cake (with nutella) 

This has been adapted from cooking classy's pumpkin cake and a little inspiration from Sally's Baking Blog Nutella Frosting

ingredients
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 cups sugar ( I like to use sugar in the raw)
3/4 cup dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, soft/room temp
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk

frosting
3/4 cup butter, soft/room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 - 4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of cream or milk
1/2 cup nutella
1/2 cup hazelnuts (roasted for 5 mins while the cake is baking)

instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. This recipe fills three, 9-inch cake pans. Or you can make a smaller 6 inch cake and cupcakes (that is what I did). Just make sure to not over fill your cake pans as the dough will rise! Butter your cake pans well. 
2. Mix together all your dry ingredients except the sugars.
3. In another large bowl, mix together the butter and sugars, then add your oil, eggs, and vanilla. Then add the pumpkin and milk to the sugar mix. (Note - it is freaking amazing if you use actual roasted pumpkin here, but for use mere mortals, the canned stuff will do fine :) 
4. Slowly, add the flour mix to the butter/sugar pumpkin bowl. 
5. Pour into the cake pans and bake for 30-35min until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool.
6. To make the frosting use room temp butter add the nutella, then add the powdered sugar, I use a Cuisinart Hand Mixer that I love. Frost your cake only when is is completely cold! Roughly chop half of your hazelnuts to add to the top.

 

loaded red pepper soup

This roasted red pepper soup is both creamy and bright and loaded with cumin crusted chickpeas and cabbage to make it an entire meal. It's November and red peppers still have a strong showing the Portland farmers markets, I for one am impressed. Over the last couple of months I've become a little obsessed with roasting vegetables, it sounds so simple but in my opinion it enhances the flavor a huge amount in comparison to sauteing or pan frying. This soup is proof, taking the extra 15 mins to roast these puppies in the oven is what makes this dish awesome.   

loaded red pepper soup

mindful eating tips

This might be a good time to refer you to the basics behind mindful eating. If you haven't checked them out,  here are the six principles you can practice before eating in order to bring more awareness and attention into mealtime:

1. Breathe
2. Put Away Distractions
3. Assess Hunger
4. Observe
5. Chew
6. Slow Down

 You can learn more about each step, and links to more resources here on my site. 

loaded red pepper soup

ingredients
4 large red bell peppers
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots
4 tablespoon cumin
3 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese (*don't include for the vegan option)
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper
1 can chickpeas
2 cups red cabbage 

instructions
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Cut your red peppers in half and take out the seeds (cut so that two halves are identical)  
Place the red bell peppers on a baking sheet with the cut sides facing down, and drizzle with olive oil.
Roast the peppers for 20-30 minutes until blackened on the top.
While the peppers are roasting start chopping the rest of the vegetables
Remove the peppers from the oven and immediately cover them in tinfoil, this steams the peppers. 
Turn the oven down to 350F, and toss the chopped cabbage and chickpeas in 2 tablespoons cumin and black pepper, put them on a baking pan and roast for 5 mins
Soup
Put onions, garlic and olive oil in a large pot and simmer over medium heat. After 5 mins add the soup stock chopped carrots, cumin, thyme and the red peppers. NOTE: the peppers should have now 'steamed' for about 5-10mins total and *remove charred red pepper skin* before adding the the soup.

Let simmer for 20 minutes or until the carrots are softened through. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup mixture smooth. (or a regular blender) 
Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Add the roasted chickpeas and cabbage, enjoy! This soup keeps well in the fridge or freezer for leftovers.

pumpkin funfetti cake + treat yourself challenge

Please forgive me if every dessert on my blog from here on incorporates funfetti. The reason I like sprinkles is the same reason I like champagne, their mere presence calls for a celebration. That is what this cake is all about. Rich, spicy pumpkin cake with cool cream cheese frosting and crunchy candy sprinkles to top it off.  

pumpkin funfetti cake mindful eating
pumpkin funfetti cake mindful eating
funfetti pumpkin cake

you should eat cake 

This might come as a shock but mindful eating does not mean you can only eat local kale. In fact the philosophy is that nothing is off limits, instead, the focus is to joyfully take pleasure in a huge range of foods. Eat cake, please! Just pay attention while you are doing it, allow yourself to take pleasure in every bite. Focus on what makes your body feel good. Intuitively our bodies can tell us when they've had enough. One small piece of cake might give you a tiny sugar buzz, on the other hand, eating a whole tub of frosting may cause your stomach to freak out . When you are full, stop and take a moment to be grateful that someone made you a god dang gorgeous cake. My advice is to put away your distractions, eat slowly, and give the cake all the attention it deserves. 

mindful treat-yo-self challenge 

Try this as a fun treat-yo-self moment: take 10 mins just to eat a piece of cake and do nothing else. Set the timer on your phone, and really extend the experience. Try to do this when you are actually hungry, I don't know about you but in my experience being hungry usually makes things taste awesome. Pretend that you are a professional taste tester and have to submit a detailed taste review of this piece of cake (or an equivalently decadent treat) to a magazine. Compared to standing in the kitchen, texting, and scarfing it down in 2 minutes, my guess is the treat-yo-self way will be more satisfying. But don't take my word try it yourself!   

pumpkin funfetti cake

This has been adapted from Cooking Classy. I also have to give a general shout out to Molly from my name is yeh for just generally making funfetti cool again. Check out her gorgeous version of this here

ingredients
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 cups sugar ( I like to use sugar in the raw)
3/4 cup dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, soft/room temp
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk

frosting
12 oz. cream cheese, soft/room temp
3/4 cup butter, soft/room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 - 5 cups powdered sugar
rainbow sprinkles to taste (maybe 1/2 cup or more if you want to get crazy)

instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. This fills three, 9-inch cake pans. Or you can make a smaller cake and cupcakes (that is what I did). Just make sure to not over fill your cake pans as the dough will rise! Butter your cake pans. 

2. Mix together all your dry ingredients except the sugars.
3. In another large bowl, mix together the butters and sugars, then add the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Then add the pumpkin and milk to the wet mix. (Note - it is freaking amazing if you use actual roasted pumpkin here, but for use mere mortals, the canned stuff will do fine :) 
4. Slowly, add the flour mix to the butter/sugar pumpkin bowl. 
5. Pour into the cake pans and bake for 30-35min until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool. Frost. Add Sprinkles.

decorating pro tips
1. The most important thing is to make sure your cake cools down. Cover in plastic wrap right away out of the oven and pop it in the fridge or freezer for 15 mins, this helps retain moisture if you do it right away. 
2. To learn how to get the cake frosted very evenly, there are A LOT of youtube videos out there for you. But the short summary is: you cut off the 'cake dome' a very thin layer off the top to make a flat surface. Next you frost a very thin 'crumb' layer around the outside, after that you put the cake back in the fridge for 15 mins and only then do you frost the outside of the cake. If you have a turntable and a frosting spatula, you can make this sucker real strait!  

orecchiette with kale + balsamic coconut dressing

I recently discovered a flavor combination I can't get enough of, you really have to try this it tastes phenomenal : mix melted coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, and pasta! This is a perfect, "I haven't gone grocery shopping for a while' kind of meal, because turns out that coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, and pasta are pretty shelf stable. I added some farmer's market kale and zucchini to give the dish some crunch and color.  I would venture to guess that there are many other vegetable combinations that would taste amazing in this dish as well. This is a super simple meal, really only 5 ingredients.  The kale and squash were brought to you by Spring Hill Organic Farm . They kindly drive into Portland from Albany, Oregon to sell their beautiful vegetables, and I'm pretty happy about it.

pasta orecchiette with kale and balsamic coconut dressing, mindful eating

Mindful Eating Book Review - How To Eat - Thich Nhat Hanh

For those of you on this mindful eating journey with me, I thought I'd share one of my favorite books on the subject. It is a simple, short compliation of a few meditations on ways to think about cooking, shopping, and enjoying food. It has a focus on how mealtime can connect us with the ones we love, and how to really be satisfied from your experience of eating. It is simple bite size reminders to practice slowing down and being grateful for what is right in front of you. It also has that unmistakable Thich Nhat Hanh tone that makes you feel like you're getting a hug from your grandfather every time you open a new chapter. 

The thing I like the best about this book, is that mindful eating is difficult to keep up when your life gets busy and things distract you from staying present. While other books on the subject are long how-tos, this is easy to pick up and read a little each week to re-focus on mindfulness.  Here is a link: How to Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh  

pasta orecchiette with kale and balsamic coconut dressing, mindful eating

orecchiette with kale + balsamic coconut dressing

servings: 2-3
10 mins prep
15 mins cooking

ingredients
3-4 cups kale cut into long strips (Lacinato if possible - the one that looks like a dinosaur)
1 zucchini chopped into thin disks
8 oz orecchiette pasta
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (a sweeter thicker kind works best) 
*optional: goat cheese
*optional: red pepper flakes

directions
1. cook the pasta per the package directions, slightly on the al dente (underdone) side. Chop the vegetables. 
2.Add one tablespoon of the coconut oil to a large skillet and then the zucchini, cook on medium heat for about 2min, then add the kale and cook for about 4-6 minutes longer, stirring the vegetables frequently. The goal is to get them just slightly soft, but really you don't want to overcook these guys. 
3. Melt the rest of the coconut oil in the microwave and then add the balsamic. Put the dressing and pasta into the skillet, mix everything together and serve!

Want another coconut oil, balsamic vinegar dish? Check out my brussel sprout mini galettes w/balsamic caramelized leeks

fall harvest cornbread cake

This dish is inspired by a Southwest camping trip through Arizona where corn is packed into every dish and cumin is king.  I was camping there and the idea of adding vegetables to cornbread struck me, I'll admit, mainly out of necessity to combine the very few ingredients we had in our possession.  

You’ll be surprised by how satisfied you are before you even take a bite

Now, fast forward to a Portland fall farmers markets. After an August of intense traveling coming back to a slow Saturday morning roaming the market is a dream. I love the mini eggplants each little bite adds so much color and texture, mix it with fresh sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, and crunchy cornbread and you've got yourself hit. 

Mindful Eating Notes

The main suggestion I have for eating this dish mindfully is use your sense of smell! With the amount of rosemary and basil I recommend for this dish, the baking process will absolutely fill up your kitchen with so many lovely and enticing smells. Enjoy the whole cooking process by really noticing and enjoying the smell, let it fill you up and satisfy you  as well. Take in three deep breathes every couple of minutes including right before you sit down . You'll be surprised by how satisfied you are before you even take a bite! 

Cornbread Base
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1⁄4 cup butter (melted) 
1 1⁄2 cups yellow cornmeal
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup white sugar + 2 tablespoons of raw sugar for texture
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Veggie Topping
2 cups cherry tomatoes, 
2 cups mushrooms,
1 carton of mini eggplants (about 10)
2 ears of fresh sweet corn
3/4 cup of sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
2-3 large springs of rosemary
1/2 cup of basil
cumin
olive or coconut oil / salt /pepper

*optional: 1/2 cup of cheddar or parmesean cheese 

The first thing to do here is preheat the oven to 350 and cut up the eggplant to small pieces, toss with coconut or olive oil and cumin, and start those puppies roasting in the oven on a baking sheet or pie dish. Roast those for about 30-40mins total until very soft, while you are doing this throw in your ears or corn for 5 mins, enough to soften just a little  so you can cut the kernels off the ear. 

While the eggplant is roasting, cut all your other veggies (your tomatoes and mushrooms, and corn) into small pieces and saute lightly with salt. This is mainly to drain excess water, add a generous helping of cumin to this mix as well. 

Next, make the cornbread base by mixing the milk, eggs, butter together, then adding the dry ingredients. Add the mixture to a buttered pie pan (or muffin tins)  then  add the veggie mixture on top. Bake for about 10 min then add the cheese and rosemary, bake for another 10 min and add the fresh basil at the very end. Tip: cut basil with scissors! (I wish someone told me that a long time ago, just try it)