Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Trifle Recipe

A few weeks ago I asked my facebook friends which autumn trifle they wanted to try more...pumpkin or apple. The votes were basically split down the middle, although the pumpkin fans were much more enthusiastic about their love of ANYTHING pumpkin. I knew I definitely had to figure this one out. Personally, I have never met a dessert I didn't like, but pumpkin pie is not on the top of my list. I do, however, love everything else pumpkin. So the trouble with coming up with this trifle was trying to steer clear of the all pumpkin puree layered trifles I was seeing in the recipes online. They seemed to be trying to duplicate a pumpkin pie in a trifle dish. Just eat a pumpkin pie then!

I finally figured it out, and it was very tasty! Just the right amount of pumpkin.

  • Pumpkin bread- From scratch or a box. Either way will be fine. Make or buy 2 just to be safe. So what if  you have extra. Toasted pumpkin bread for breakfast...yes please! 
  • 1 box of white chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 can of pumpkin 
  • 1 box of spiced wafers
  • Whipped cream- Homemade or cool whip (I am sticking with homemade from now on).
That's it! Now see how easy it is to make...

Base layer:
Bake your pumpkin bread according to the directions. You could also just pick up a loaf at your local orchard or market. Homemade doesn't have to mean made in your home right?
Cube the bread.
Layer the base of your trifle dish with half of the loaf. Set the rest aside for now.

Mortar Layer:
Make the white chocolate pudding (vanilla will work too if you cannot find white chocolate). Allow the pudding to set for a few minutes in the refrigerator.
Once the pudding has set beat in 1 can of pumpkin. Mix well with a hand mixer for at least 5 minutes.
Spread half of the pumpkin mixture over the pumpkin bread in the trifle dish. 

Focal/decorative layer:
Put a little less than 2 sleeves of wafers in a large ziploc bag. Seal tightly. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash up the wafers. I broke them up into dime sized pieces. Spread half of the bag over the pumpkin mixture for your 3rd layer.
Then top with whipped cream and repeat all 4 layers finishing with the rest of the whipped cream.

Top the trifle with a sprinkling of wafer crumbs!

If your family is like mine, you always have pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, but a lot of people don't actually eat the pie. Try this recipe out as an alternative and watch how fast it goes.

Monday, October 18, 2010


This Saturday my Stepmom and I made a trip out to Adamstown, Pennsylvania. Known as the "antique capital of the U.S.A." Adamstown is located near Reading right off of exit 286 from the Pennsylvania Turnpike. If you like perusing old stuff, I would definitely make the trip. There are tons of antique shops and outdoor markets. I would suggest going on a Sunday if you can because some of the places are only open on Sundays.

I myself am not really into the fancy old expensive antiques. I hate saying that I am going "antiquing" because people seem to associate the term with stuffy old trinkets that smell of mothballs. I like old crap, but I can't really say I am going to spend my Saturday routing and rummaging through old junk without also raising some eyebrows. I bet some of you would be surprised to find how much fun you would have doing this. I have a few friends that I know would really enjoy spending the day at one of these markets, but because of the stigma associated with it they moan and groan whenever I suggest the idea -'s cool...go green! Reuse!

I usually head to the junk in the corners or the stuff set outside. On this visit we headed straight to Shupps Grove. It is a huge outdoor market and my favorite place for digging and dealing. I like old vintage slightly beat up items that I can either refinish or love as is for all of their flaws and history.

When you are visiting the antique markets, it is OK to have an agenda and specific item in mind, but do not be afraid to veer off and discover items you never thought you would love. If you find the piece you were looking for...fantastic and congratulations! But be patient and don't allow yourself to be disappointed if you don't. I have done this. Focusing on finding one type of item closes off my creativity and prevents me from discovering the possibilities in something else. It took my Stepmom 10 years to find a washing stand for her antique pitcher and bowl set - she finally found it this weekend and it was worth waiting for. Mainly, I love looking for old jewelry that I can work into a new piece. 

A few items that are always on my list:
  • Jewelry
  • Props for my jewelry displays
  • Old glass bottles
  • Beer cans- recently added to my list after this weekend. I began collecting beer cans and I have a feeling it is going to become a new obsession. Not something I am entering into for monetary purposes. I just love them. The marketing ploys companies used back in the day are hilarious.

Meet Miss Olde Frothingslosh- Apparently she is a trapeze artist who loves arm wrestling, soap carving and of course the 1969 "pale ale with the foam at the bottom" Olde Frothingslosh from Pittsburgh, Pa.
Ain't she a gem!
She is the one who started it all for me.

What is Olde Frothingslosh? 

I can't wait until I find an old rusty pbr can! Classy huh?I have since been reading a lot of good information about collecting beer cans. I am excited to see what I can find now that I will be looking.

More importantly I did find some really good jewelry pieces. Some are old and some just struck and inspired me. You may look at them now and wonder what the heck I liked about them and what on earth I plan to do with them (after I clean them up of course) well you will see...

I try to ask the vendors if they have any broken stuff hidden away. Since I am going to break everything apart anyway, I can get some really good deals asking to see what they didn't expect to sell in the first place. 

My favorite find from Saturday is these 2 little buddies. The charm was actually hanging on and old bottle no where near any other jewelry and just by chance I found it. I am not sure why I love it so much, I just think they are adorable. Stay tuned to see what I make with it...

Another good one is this silver leaf my Stepmom spotted. Leaves are big this year in jewelry and will make for a perfect fall accessory to any wardrobe. The detail is beautiful. Looks just like a real leaf!

Friday, October 15, 2010

My secrets to a good cupcake.

Following my post a few weeks ago on Phillies themed cupcakes, I received a few inquiries about how I make my cupcakes. So I decided to share my secrets...

There is no secret. Cupcakes and trifles have kind of become my thing. People seem to get excited whenever I make either one. When really, they are both so easy. Especially the cupcakes.

I use the cake mix in a box and the icing out of a tub. That's it. It's not really a secret, I will tell anyone who asks. People still seem to tell me my cupcakes are really tasty and moist compared to when they make them. Why? I have no idea. I think it is because I take the time to make them pretty. We do partially eat with our eyes right? It is all in the presentation.

So here it "secrets" to a good cupcake.
    1. Whenever I make cupcakes I make a batch of yellow and a batch of chocolate. I haven't settled on a brand I prefer, whichever is labeled "moist".
    2. I rotate the icing combination between chocolate and vanilla (I do prefer french vanilla whenever I can find it). Vanilla on vanilla cake, chocolate on vanilla, vanilla on chocolate and of course chocolate on chocolate.
    3. Scrape all of the icing out of the tub into a bowl and stir until it is really creamy. I never apply the icing with a knife. Instead, I always put it into a pastry bag and squeeze it out onto the cupcake in a circular motions just like an ice cream cone. Always purchase at least 2 containers of icing for each box of mix you use. Running out of icing is the WORST!
    Decorate your cupcakes!
    1. Sometimes I add dye to the vanilla icing depending on the occasion to add color. 
    2. You could add sprinkles or jimmies (yes, they are called jimmies and there is a difference between jimmies and sprinkles). 
    3. Make a visit to your local party store or craft store to check out their selection of cupcake cups. They really have a fun selection out there. Much better than the pale yellow, pink and blue pack you get at the grocery store. May seem like a pointless detail, but I think they add to the presentation.
    4. While you are at the party store look at their selection of decorative toothpicks, drink stirrers and anything else you could put on the top of your cupcakes. Be creative!
    5. You could get really crazy and add my new favorite accent...piped chocolate melts in various shapes, colors or letters that match the theme or occasion you are making the cupcakes for. This is really simple and people LOVE it. Such a cute little touch. Check out my post on the Phillies themed cupcakes to see how I did this.

    Whenever I am planning a party, whether it is a birthday party, baby shower, bridal shower...I incorporate the cupcakes into the decor. Find some way to display them and set them out at the start of the party. People will drooling over them until it is time for dessert, and sometimes sneaking one long before.

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Phillies Cupcakes

    It will indeed be another Red October!!

    You may recall from an earlier post that I am a huge Philadelphia Phillies fan, and I am proud to say that my team has yet again secured themselves a spot in the post season. To commemorate this achievement and also celebrate my roommate's 30th birthday (she is a huge fan as well), I made Phillies themed cupcakes.

    I made 30 cupcakes -15 chocolate and 15 french vanilla, rotating between chocolate and vanilla icing.
    • On top of each cupcake I sprinkled either blue or red sprinkles on the icing that I piped out of a pastry bag using a large round tip. 
    • I found red and blue cupcake cups at the party store to keep with the theme.
    • For an extra added touch I tried out something new this time. I piped out the trademark "P" using red candy melts. This was surprisingly easy and added so much to the team spirited little cakes.
    Decorating with chocolate melts. 
    • Candy melts (I prefer Wilton's) -You can purchase these at any grocery store, although you will find a broader selection of colors at a craft store or even some party stores. They are about $2.99 but I almost always find them on sale at Micheal's Craft store. They do store well so you can hold onto the leftovers until Christmas.
    • Wax paper
    • Decorating squeeze bottles -You can also pick these up at your local craft store. When you are finished with your project try to dump out as much of the melted candy as you can and then stick the bottle in the freezer. After a few hours crunch and shake the frozen candy out of the bottle. 
    Melting the candy:
    Fill the squeeze bottle with the candy melts and secure the lid and little orange cap. Place into a small sauce pan filled about halfway with warm water. Keep the burner set on LOW mixing and shaking the bottle often until the candy is melted. Add more candy melts as they turn to liquid and fill the bottle. Make sure the tip of the bottle remains out of the water and dry at all times. You do not want to get water into the bottle. When you are ready to squeeze out the melted candy shake it all the way to the tip with the cap on. You want to remove as many air bubbles as you can.
    Lay out some wax paper and patiently squeeze out whatever shape or letter you want. Practice and allow yourself enough so that you can choose the nicest looking shapes to use. Allow them to harden (about 30 mins) and gently pop it off of the wax paper and place on your cupcake. That's it!

    This new little trick has opened up so many possibilities for future cupcake toppers. If you decide to try this yourself, please post a comment below and let me know what you made and how it worked out for you. I am always open to new tips, tricks and ideas!