Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting–Fall Treats

photo (4)photo (16) photo (17) photo (18) photo (19)There are a few things I really love to eat. Mostly anything sweet and mostly dessert. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have an incredible sweet tooth. Funny that my name is Candi and I love candy, cookies, cakes and ice cream so very much. I would probably pass on most entrees and just cut to dessert if I had my way . When I was a kid I would gladly trade a sandwich for dessert any day of the week. Some things never change. I’d like to believe that my tastes in dessert have changed a wee bit and that I have a bit more of a sophisticated palate now but not when it comes to candy,  I still love junky candy as much as I did when I was 6. However my taste in cake has definitely improved with age. I don’t think I would have enjoyed pumpkin cake as a kid but I really love it now. Anything baked with pumpkin gets high marks in my book and if you put cream cheese frosting on it it’s off the charts.   It’s just the right amount of sugar and spice! Perfect Fall Cake and it may just find its way to my Thanksgiving Table. It really is a very easy recipe to follow ,  I made cupcakes but you can easily make this in a Pyrex 9 x13 inch pan as a sheet cake and frost it and decorate with candy corn or those little candy pumpkins!

Now you can make these without frosting and just eat like muffins with a little smear of cream cheese which wouldn’t be too bad either.

Shopping List:

1 can Pumpkin ( not pumpkin pie filling just Pumpkin) 15 oz. size

cream cheese  and paper liners for cupcakes

Staples: (things you should have in your Pantry and fridge all the time)

all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, salt, vegetable oil, eggs, confectioner’s sugar, unsalted butter, vanilla extract, and milk


2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 cup of sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves if no ground cloves you can substitute with pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg. I prefer cloves.

1 tsp. salt (regular table salt)

1 cup vegetable oil

1 can Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) Pure Pumpkin

4 eggs ( room temperature please)

Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 cups of confectioner’s sugar

1/3 cup softened butter ( unsalted)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 oz. softened cream cheese ( soften in microwave) not melted just softened or you can leave it out for a bit and it will soften up.  I actually used light cream cheese not fat free please. I mean the amount of calories is staggering, but you’re only going to eat 1 cupcake right? how many calories can possibly be in that????? Don’t tell me , I don’t want to know.

1 Tbsp. Milk ( I used skim plus)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I mixed all dry ingredients together then mixed in eggs ( one at a time) and can of pumpkin and vegetable oil. Mix till combined, don’t overmix. No need to sift, just put dry ingredients in a bowl first and whisk together with a whisk , get some air in there.

Pour into a greased muffin pan about 3/4 full.  I always use little paper liners and bake at 35o degrees for 20 – 30 minutes . Be careful not to over bake so the cake stays moist.  I baked for 26 minutes. I started checking on them after 20 minutes.

Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. I made my frosting in my electric mixer while cupcakes were cooling.

Frost Cupcakes / Cake  and if you’d like decorate with some of those little Halloween Candies like candy corn or those little pumpkin shaped candies sold this time of year. Enjoy!

*should make about 16 cupcakes , I made 12 and a mini loaf.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup (no cream)

I decided to re-post this amazing soup as it is one of my most favorite recipes and one of my most popular recipes. So very easy to make with pre-cut butternut squash readily available almost everywhere now. If you’d like a little different flavor you can roast the squash first.

It’s definitely fall and my first soup of the season  is almost always butternut squash soup. I’ve simplified the recipe along the way so that now it is just the way Joel and I like it. it’s pretty easy as long as you buy the squash pre – cut (available in every supermarket, and corner produce store). I just made my first batch of the season, and the squash is sweet and delicious. I always add a little butter to it, but you can totally leave it out. It tastes so creamy you’ll swear there’s cream in it, but really, there is none.  I love a little freshly grated nutmeg in it too, but you can certainly just sprinkle in a very little bit of already grated nutmeg. I hope your family and friends enjoy this as much as my family does! It’s always on my table for Thanksgiving. A delightful way to start a dinner, or a delicious main dish served alongside  a beautiful salad and bread. This can easily be made vegetarian by substituting chicken broth for vegetable broth, which is how I make it on Thanksgiving for Kerri, who is vegetarian.


4 pkgs. (approx. 4 lbs.) butternut squash (it’s doesn’t have to be exact)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large spanish onion, chopped

8 – 10 cups chicken or vegetable broth

*1 -2 tablespoons unsalted butter (for this serving size, I use 2 but it’s totally optional)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

*use whole nutmeg – you just grate a little in for flavor. I always tend to use whole, but grated will do. It’s just a touch of it–if I had to guess, I’d say 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon depending on your taste


In a heavy Le Creuset (or any other ample size large pot), I heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When oil is heated, put in onion and about 1/2 tablespoon of kosher salt. Sweat out the onions until they are translucent (approx. 5 – 8 minutes). If you’re using the butter, add it now too. I then add all of the butternut squash and mix the onions, oil and butter as best I can all over the squash. Next, add enough broth to cover the squash (I used approx. 10 cups of chicken broth to cover). I keep the remaining half a box of broth in case I need it later. Return to a low boil, then bring to a simmer. I let it cook a very long time–at least an hour until soft–and then I turn off the heat and let it sit for a while. I like to make it early and let it sit for as long as possible, because the squash gets very soft. Then right before I am about to serve, I use an immersion blender and blend it into a beautiful smooth soup. If you need more broth, add it as you blend. This is also your salt, pepper and nutmeg moment. Season to taste and blend just until smooth. I leave it in the pot until I need it and then gently warm it up. This soup will keep in the fridge for a few days. It can be frozen as well. Upon defrosting you may need to add more broth. Sometimes I serve this soup with beautiful croutons if I can find them in specialty stores, but it is delicious and beautiful on its own, and very good for you! My family loves it , and I hope yours does too.

*should serve 10 – 12 as appetizer

Set it and Forget it –Chicken Taco Chili

Slow cookers make for perfect cooking all year round. Nothing better than setting it and forgetting it! Making life easier and less clean up after dinner. I bought all my ingredients yesterday and went to Soul Cycle this morning , came home and by 10 am this was cooking in the slow cooker. I actually put it to high cook for 6 hours and I am sitting here smelling all this deliciousness . I happened to have a package of Taco Seasoning Mix in the house so I used it along with cumin and chili powder. I used dark meat and white meat chicken, you can use whichever chicken you’d like. Just set it and forget it and come home to this delicious meal of chicken . If you don’t own a slow cooker this may be a good time to buy one!


1 small yellow onion , chopped

1 15 oz. can black beans, drained-you don’t have to rinse the organic beans. If you already have them in the house and they’re not organic just rinse them with water and drain.

1 15 oz. can red kidney beans, drained -you don’t have to rinse the organic beans–same instructions as above

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

10 oz. package frozen corn kernels

2 10 oz. cans diced tomatoes with chilies –available in the Mexican Food aisle in the supermarket

4 oz. can chopped green chili peppers, chopped–also available in the Mexican Food aisle

1 packet Taco Seasoning- *if you don’t like using Taco Seasoning see note below

1 tbsp. cumin

1/2-1 Tbsp. chili powder

Kosher Salt to taste–if using the package of Taco Seasoning you may not need extra salt , wait till 6 hours of cooking are over and taste for salt . I sprinkled a little bit at the end of seasoning to taste.

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts and I added 6 small skinless , boneless chicken thighs and if you cannot find boneless don’t worry because the meat will fall off the bones and you can remove all the bones from the chili before serving.

I don’t know the nutrition information but I have to believe that this is a fairly low-fat , low caloric way to go. I added the dark meat so maybe not as light as you can make it. Enjoy!

*handful of fresh cilantro – chopped if you would like


Combine drained beans, onion, chili peppers, corn , tomato sauce, diced tomato, cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning in a slow cooker and mix well.

Nestle the chicken in to completely cover and cook either on Low for 8-10 hours or on High for 4-6 hours. I did it on high for 6 hours.

App. 1/2 hour before the cooking was over I thought I would shred the chicken, when I opened the slow cooker and started to stir the chicken it all just fell apart on its own!!! This was so amazing how I didn’t even have to do that. I guess it cooked so long that it just fell apart! This was just perfect and tasted so delicious! If that is not your experience and you only cook for 4 hours you may want to shred the chicken yourself about 1/2 hour before finished. But mine really did shred itself as I stirred it with a wooden spoon.

Top with fresh cilantro and your favorite chili toppings! I also serve with soft corn tortillas. You can use crunchy taco shells or whatever you’d like, this is totally optional. And some avocado never hurt anyone!


*to make your own seasoning follow this

1 1/2 Tbsp. Cumin

1 1/2 Tbsp. Chili Powder

1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder

1/4 tsp. Onion Powder

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper









Pumpkin Lentil Soup (can be vegetarian)

It’s Fall and that means it’s time to cook up some heart-warming soups! Pumpkin Lentil Soup is a delicious, hearty soup that you and your family will love.

This recipe has been around my family for a while. A friend gave it to me a while back, and I make it every fall.  Just because it’s fall and it’s pumpkin and this soup can wind up on my Thanksgiving Table if I don’t make my Butternut Squash Soup.   It’s hard to get canned pumpkin any other time of year, so I take advantage of it now and pick up a few extra cans and try to make it throughout the winter. Warm, hearty and pretty healthy. And what’s a little butter between friends? I actually lost this recipe, but luckily my friend Marcy still had it, so thanks Marcy! It’s good to share with friends, and now all my recipes will be posted on my blog so I’ll never have to search far. You can freeze this ahead of time and take it out for Thanksgiving. For the holiday, it’s always between this and Butternut Squash Soup, and I like that they can both be vegetarian.

*this can be doubled but no need to double the butter (just add a little bit more)


1/2 cup butter (unsalted)

2 large onions (spanish) chopped

1/2 cup lentils (if you can find red lentils, buy them because they look beautiful for Thanksgiving and give the soup a lovely orangey color)

5 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (make sure it’s not pumpkin pie filling)

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Melt butter in large stockpot (Le Creuset). Saute the onions until translucent and golden, then stir in the lentils and the stock. Add pumpkin and herbs and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower it and let it simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.

I take the immersion blender to it. It becomes rich and creamy. You may prefer it not pureed, it’s up to you. A third option is to not puree it all the way. If you don’t puree, you may need to add more broth. If soup is too thick, use the broth as needed, a little bit at a time, to reach a good consistency.

*soup freezes just fine but you’ll need to add broth/water after you defrost and heat up

A noodle pudding from Ellen – Cottage Cheese and Craisons

Here’s a late addition to the Holiday Menu–but you might want to check it out. Happy Healthy Holiday and an easy fast to all of those who observe.

Cooking with Candi

Always on the hunt for new ways to invent the wheel, I sent out a plea for help to some friends for some new recipes for noodle pudding. Now mind you they are never new but sometimes people come at it from a different angle. This one sounds delicious, and simple. It contains milk , if you’re looking for a good one to serve with meat that isn’t dairy check out Marcy’s noodle pudding. Again, enjoy and Happy Healthy New Year. This will help sweeten your New Year for sure and according to Ellen it stays on the table for dessert. Thanks to Ellen for her support and input. This one will be perfect for Breakfast Table at Yom Kippur.


1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 lb butter ( melted)

8 eggs ( room temp. best always) beaten

1 lb. medium size egg noodles

1 cup craisins

1 lb. small curd…

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Break Fast Food – Blintz Souffle

Here we go again…another holiday to cook for. Most of breaking the fast is taking in bagels, fish, etc. Easy to do. But I still try to make a few dishes and this recipe is an oldie but a goodie. I have been making this recipe since 1975 and it never gets old.  This dish can be assembled ahead of time, kept in the refrigerator and baked right before eating. This is a keeper and a tradition in my house. Always delicious. You can buy almost any of the frozen blintzes. Some stores have homemade ones, but it doesn’t really make that big of a difference with this recipe. Enjoy! This is super easy, with excellent results.


6 blintzes (you can use cheese or fruit-filled, whichever you like. Depending on how many people I’m feeding, I usually make 1 fruit and 1 cheese tray)

2 eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine

3/4 cup sour cream (lite is fine but I wouldn’t use fat-free)

1 tsp. vanilla

Dash of cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter or margarine in saucepan. Spray baking dish with Pam spray (Original). Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl together. Place frozen blintzes in baking dish. I usually use a 9×13 size dish but anything close to that will work. You can double the recipe, in which case you’d obviously need a larger baking dish (you need room for the blintzes to expand a little and for the egg mixture to rise around it. Don’t spread it too thin.) Pour the melted butter on top of the frozen blintzes, followed by the sour cream mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 30-40 minutes. Let it sit for a few minutes out of the oven before cutting into it.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

This is a staple in my Chinese Restaurant take out , I love it. It’s sort of on the “lighter” side of most Chinese main entrees. It is usually in the appetizer section of the menu. img_2523


That being said I made this recipe tonite and am totally in love with it. It’s super easy but contains a lot of ingredients that you may not have in the house so some grocery shopping may be involved.  I highly recommend this recipe for a lovely lunch or delicious dinner!! I didn’t even use salt or pepper because it had so very much flavor it didn’t even need it. I would taste for it though since everyone’s taste is a little different where salt and pepper is concerned.

This recipe literally cooked in less than 1/2 hour and it really was delicious. This is a dish the whole family may enjoy.


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound ground chicken or turkey–I prefer dark meat because I think it’s more flavorful use whatever you prefer

2 cloves garlic minced

app. 1 medium onion (yellow), diced

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

2 Tablespoons soy sauce –I use low sodium

1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1/2 -1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger–you can use a full tablespoon if you really love ginger, it was fine with 1/2

*1 Tablespoon Sriracha, totally optional. This didn’t make it super spicy just gave it a little kick. You can use Sriracha on the table if you like.

1 8 oz. can whole water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped. I had sliced in the house and I just gave them a rough chop

2 green onions ( scallions) green and white, sliced thinly

*Kosher Salt and Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 head butter lettuce


Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add ground meat and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Make sure to crumble the meat as it cooks, drain any excess fat.

Stir in garlic, onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce , rice wine vinegar, ginger and Sriracha until onions have become translucent, a few minutes.

Stir in the chopped water chestnuts and green onions until tender, another few minutes. Now taste for salt and pepper, as I said I didn’t use any salt and pepper at all.

For serving, spoon meat into the center of a lettuce leaf.

If you’d like you can serve with hoisin sauce and sriracha on the side.









Baked French Toast — all time best







DSCN4294I posted this originally back in October 2011 for Yom Kippur break fast. It is truly one of the best French toast recipes I’ve ever made.  I include it every year since my friend Ilene Stern gave it to me. I never have a single piece left. Delicious and decadent, perfect brunch and breakfast food. I almost always include it in my Mother’s Day Brunch as well. Once you’ve made this recipe there is no turning back, your whole family will love it and you’ll have to make it every time.

The only downside is that you must prepare and refrigerate the night before without cooking it, you cannot cook this dish till you’re ready to eat it, the bottom will get hard like a caramel candy would. So cook right before you’re going to serve. Enjoy!

*recipe as is should serve 6- 8 if you have more people make 2 trays!


1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 stick unsalted butter

2 tbsp. corn syrup ( I use Karo Original light corn syrup)

5 eggs (room temperature please)

1 1/2 cups milk ( you can use low-fat, I use Skim Plus)

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 package of sliced cinnamon bread. ( Pepperidge Farm is fine) if you can get thick slices it’s great , but the thin kind will work just double stack them it will be fine) You probably will use 12 slices of bread per tray. You will have 6 stacks of 2 slices each, 12 slices total, or 6 thick slices of cinnamon bread. If you can’t find just cinnamon bread use raisin cinnamon bread it’s easier to find .


Melt butter, add brown sugar and corn syrup and combine well. Spray a 9×13 baking dish, Pyrex works well here. Pour butter mixture into baking dish and arrange bread slices flat in the mixture ( you will double stack the thin sliced bread) Unless the bread is 1″thick you will be doubling the standard sliced bread. Squeeze the bread to fit–it should hold 12 slices ( 6 double stacks), 3 on each side of a 9×13 baking dish.

In a blender mix the eggs, milk and vanilla and pour over the bread slices, covering them completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The bread will absorb all the liquid by the morning, so if you need to travel with it will be fine.

Uncover and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Once it’s out of the oven you can dust with powdered sugar, but not necessary. Serve right from the baking dish.

*if you let this sit out too long before serving, the bottom may get hard like a praline candy. It never ever lasts long enough for this to happen at my table.

Look at my original recipe post on October 5 2011. More Break Fast: the all-time best Baked French Toast, I swear.

Kasha Varnishkes–Jewish Comfort Food

This is truly traditional Jewish comfort food made with buckwheat grains and bowtie noodles. I love it and grew up eating it and  try to make it a few times a year. What better time to make it than the Jewish New Year? it’s super easy and super tasty. If you’ve never made it why not start now. It’s a wonderful side dish to any meal and it can be vegetarian for all of those who need some extra vegetarian dishes on their tables.

Kasha comes in a box. There are different types of Kasha and almost all will work. I use medium or coarse granulation.  Wolff’s brand is really wonderful so look for it.

If you’re looking for an easy side dish to put together now is the time to look at this great recipe. This is also our go to the night before Yom Kippur. It’s tradition and delicious and comforting all at the same time.


1 package bowtie ( farfalle ) noodles (app. 3/4 lb.)

1 white/yellow onion thinly sliced or you can use chopped onions , entirely up to you.

app. 2 tablespoons olive oil, you may need a  little more and may want a bit more to drizzle at the end. You can also use vegetable oil. I do use vegetable oil with this recipe.

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper–to taste

1 box button mushrooms sliced 8 ounce box

1 cup kasha, medium or coarse granulation.

1 egg

2 Tbsp. Butter/Margarine–this can be omitted if you’d like. It adds another layer of richness to the flavor though.

2 cups vegetable or chicken stock ( obviously if you’re making vegetarian you’ll use vegetable )


Cook the pasta according to directions on box for al dente.

Saute’ the onions in olive oil, salt and pepper until they just start to soften, about 5 minutes. I use a medium size frying pan large enough to add in the pasta, and make sure you have a tight fitting lid.

Add the mushrooms and sauté until they start to soften as well, a few more minutes , set aside. Place mushrooms and onions in a bowl and you’ll use same frying pan to cook kasha.

Coat the kasha in a slightly beaten egg. You’ll just place kasha in a bowl and put beaten egg on grains. This will help the grains not to stick to themselves while you are cooking them. Make sure the grains are completely coated with egg.  Put the kasha in the same frying pan, set over a fairly high heat. Flatten, stir, and break up the egg-coated kasha with a fork or wooden spoon for a few minutes till toasted and the egg has dried on the kasha and kernels are brown and mostly separate. Kasha instructions for cooking are usually on the box as well. Then I pour in the broth that I am using, a little margarine/butter is OK as well ( app. 2 Tbsp) bring to a boil, cover tightly, lower flame to simmer and cook for 10 minutes till kasha is fluffy.

Add back in the mushrooms and onions and combine with chicken broth. Cook box of Bow Tie Pasta according to directions on box al dente.

Bring to a boil and cook over low heat covered tightly. Check on it after 10 minutes or so to make sure the kernels are tender and the liquid has absorbed. If not, cover and continue steaming for another few minutes till all liquid is absorbed.

Adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if you’d like, mix in cooked pasta, and if you’d like drizzle a little more oil on it. I like to do it all in a large enough frying pan to hold pasta . You can always mix in pasta in a large bowl separately. I like it in frying pan on stove top till I serve it. You can always make ahead and heat up in oven at 350 degrees in a pyrex dish,  you’ll most likely need to add a little oil if you do so.

*Wolff’s Kasha has directions for cooking kasha on the box. It’s pretty much the same , I just add in the mushrooms and onions for more flavor.

*should serve 8 people

Happy New Year Brisket

Brisket can definitely be an intimidating thing to make. I once made it as a young cook, and it was perfectly inedible. Back then, I couldn’t believe how long it took to cook, but it does take very long. Now I usually make it in the slow cooker, which is awesome as well and that recipe is up on my blog as well.  Sometimes  I use my trusty Le Creuset, which worked out beautifully this time.  I just finished cooking it and froze it before I took pictures so I will post pics when it defrosts.  A lot of people have some pretty awesome brisket recipes and I welcome you to send me yours. This really couldn’t be any easier and it’s super tasty. This original recipe came from my friend, Michele (with a few comments from Karyn too.) I did change a few things to the original recipe, but not a lot and I thank Michele for the recipe.


4 lb. brisket (I didn’t need larger but you can adjust this recipe for whatever size brisket you use)

Lawry’s seasoned salt (I’ve never used this before today but I found out it doesn’t contain MSG, as I had previously thought)

2 large Spanish onions (Karyn uses Vidalia, which is also good), sliced thickly

2 cans of tomato sauce , I used the 16 oz. size. You can also use the 1 can of 28 oz. size. It depends on you and how much sauce you like.

2 tbsp. brown sugar (this is my addition. It doesn’t really change the flavor so much as cut the salt a bit)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

I sprinkled Lawry’s seasoned salt on both sides of the brisket (generously) then seared it in the Le Creuset pot with a little vegetable oil–probably about a tablespoon. (After the meat was seared, it shrunk to fit perfectly in my pot but I don’t think that a larger brisket would have fit.) Next, I added the tomato sauce and onions, covered the pot and put it in the oven. I cooked it for a total of 3 hours. I checked on it after each hour, which probably wasn’t even necessary. I then let it cool, off of the heat, for about an hour. Next, I sliced it with an electric knife, which came out beautifully. The meat was soft, but not falling apart at all. I then added the brown sugar to the gravy, put the brisket in a container with the gravy and froze it. I’ll take it out the night before I serve. Karyn pulses her gravy with an immersion blender. I didn’t do this but I think it makes for a good suggestion. In fact, I might still do it on Thursday. I’ll let you know. Thanks again Michele and Karyn!