Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Sheet Cake | Pretty Little Pastimes

Would you believe me if I told you that I have never had a pumpkin spice latte in my life? It might be hard to accept, but it’s true. I actually gave up drinking caffeine completely more than 5 year ago so I have to pass on the seasonal coffees and teas. But before you start feeling bad for me, rest assured that I make sure to get my all-things-pumpkin fix in during the fall season. I LOVE the time of year when pumpkin flavored treats line the shelves of local grocery stores and bakeries. Then again, who doesn’t?

In my last post I shared the recipe for the Nantucket Cranberry Citrus Pie that sat on our dessert table this Thanksgiving. You’ve probably guessed that there was more than one sweet treat sharing the stage and you are right. My husband loves pumpkin rolls and I love cake, so here you have it: Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. After all, marriage is all about compromise, right? This Pumpkin Sheet Cake is rich, moist, and has that pumpkin spice flavor no one can’t get enough of during the fall. It is definitely a keeper.

Pumpkin Sheet Cake | Pretty Little Pastimes

Pumpkin Sheet Cake

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 pound powdered sugar, Sifted
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13″ x 18″ sheet pan with baking spray and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 sticks butter. Whisk in pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice until combined completely. Whisk in boiling water until mixture is smooth and combined. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Whisk and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Pour in the pumpkin mixture and stir until halfway combined. Pour in the buttermilk mixture and stir until combined. Pour into the pan and smooth until even. Tap the tray against the counter a few times to release the air bubbles. Bake the cake for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

To make the frosting, mix together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and salt until smooth. Add milk and check the consistency. You want it to be thick and smooth, but still thin enough to spread easily over the cake. If your frosting is too thick add additional milk until desired consistency.

Spread the frosting all over the surface of the cake and sprinkle with chopped walnuts (optional). Cut into squares and serve.

*If you like a very thick layer of frosting, you can easily double the frosting recipe. I actually reserved some of my frosting to top homemade pumpkin cinnamon rolls the next morning. So, so good!

Pumpkin Sheet Cake | Pretty Little Pastimes

The size of this cake is perfect for sharing with friends and family at any holiday gathering. Enjoy!

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Singapore Rice Sticks

Singapore Rice Sticks I Pretty Little Pastimes

I tried Singapore Rice Sticks for the first time at a little Chinese restaurant  we happened to stumble upon in the midwest. We were going to order a curry rice dish and our server told us they had a much better version of the same dish, but that was not on the menu. Feeling like we had just been let in the back door of a speakeasy, we decided to go with the “secret” menu we were let in on. I’m so glad we did, because what came out was a huge bowl of Singapore Rice Sticks. They were full of bold flavors like curry and garlic, but were rounded out with the addition of fresh ginger and bell pepper. They were hot both in temperature and spice and stood out as the favorite of the entire meal … more over kung pao chicken!

When I decided to try to make this dish at home, I shied away a couple of times, because it seemed like a lot of work. But don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you! This dish may seem like a tall order, but keep in mind it is mostly stir frying, meaning that you are cooking things at a high temperature for a very short amount of time. What ends up on your plate is definitely worth a little extra prep time. And, like the best Chinese food does, it tastes even better the next day!

Singapore Rice Sticks

  • 8 ounces rice sticks (fine dried noodles)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons hot curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 4 ounces raw lean pork, cut into 1/4 inch julienne
  • 4 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/4 inch julienne
  • 3 ounces Chinese barbecue pork or smoked ham, cut into 1/4 inch julienne
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 hot chili peppers, slivered thinly (or crushed red pepper to taste)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch julienne
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch julienne
  • 12 scallions
  • 1 and 1/2 cups fresh bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • salt & pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and boil until tender, 1-2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Let the noodles air dry and firm in a colander for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Whisk together the eggs, 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder and the sesame oil until blended. Spoon 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil into a wok (or heavy skillet) over moderately high heat. Pour in the egg mixture and immediately reduce the heat to low. Scramble the eggs until just set, transfer the eggs to a bowl and reserve.

Return the wok to moderately high heat and add 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Add the shrimp and stir fry until mostly cooked, about 1 minute. Remove the shrimp and reserve. Repeat the oil and stir fry process for the chicken and lean pork, cooking each for about 1 minute. Transfer each to a bowl and reserve.

Turn up the heat to high and when the the wok is very hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the ginger, garlic, chilies, and remaining curry powder. Stir fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add Chinese pork or ham, bell peppers and stir fry another 30 seconds. Splash a small amount of water (2 tablespoons or less) and cook until boiled off.

Push the vegetable and pork mixture to the sides of the wok and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the center. Add the scallions, bean sprouts and noodles and toss over high heat until very hot, about 30 seconds.

Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Return the shrimp, pork, and chicken to wok and add soy sauce. Toss well and add reserved egg mixture and salt. Serve hot.

I served our Singapore Rice Sticks over some simple white rice, but it would have been plenty filling on its own. We also decided to make it EXTRA spicy, by using 1/2 of a ghost pepper as our chili pepper. It was my first encounter with the “ghost pepper” and I was very glad I listened to the warning of our friend, who grew it, and only used half. It was hot! Nothing a few extra glasses of water won’t fix. Enjoy!

Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts & Pearl Onions

Roasted Balsamic Brussel Sprouts & Pearl Onions I Pretty Little Pastimes

I’ll be honest that Brussels sprouts were on the list of green veggies that I tried my very best to stay away from growing up. My mom didn’t care for them, so I got out easy. That is until a good friend of mine (a James Beard nominated chef that doesn’t take no for an answer) decided I was not going one more day without trying one. She made me a plate and I reluctantly tried the tiny little cabbage-looking vegetable I feared. Like many foods she has proved me wrong about, the Brussels sprouts were more than just eatable, they were tasty! I wanted to share my version of Roasted Brussels Sprouts hoping that it might inspire a few more you to give them a try.

When shopping for Brussels sprouts, look for the smallest, freshest you can find. These tend to be sweeter and more tender than larger ones. Before cooking, trim the stems and discard any damaged or discolored leaves. Next, cut the sprouts in half (lengthwise); this will speed up the cooking time. Blasting the halved sprouts in a hot oven will caramelize the edges and bring out their sweetness. It also significantly shrinks them, so don’t be surprised when you pull them out of the oven!

I decided to add pearl onions to this dish, because I just love their subtly-sweet onion flavor, especially when paired with balsamic. To prepare the onions for roasting, soak them in warm water for 5 minutes. Remove the onions and discard the skin and trim the roots.

Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts & Pearl Onions

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1/2 pound pearl onions, trimmed
  • 2 ounces hot capicola (or pancetta), chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss all ingredients together and spread out in an even layer on a baking pan. I always line my pan with parchment paper for easy clean up, but if you don’t reserve a little warm water to deglaze the pan at the end. Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20-25 minutes or until the sprouts are brown on the edges and tender, stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Roasted Balsamic Brussel Sprouts & Pearl Onions I Pretty Little Pastimes

These roasted Brussels sprouts will make a wonderful sweet and spicy side dish to add to your dinner. I am definitely thankful that I was coaxed forced to try them. Enjoy!

Garlic & Leek Smashed Red Potatoes

Garlic & Leek Mashed Red Potatoes I Pretty Little Pastimes

If you like potato and leek soup, you will love these garlic and leek smashed red potatoes! We have a list of staple starch side dishes in our house which include potatoes, rice and orzo, but I have been experimenting more and more with new variations on old favorites.

We saw these fresh leeks while wandering around the produce section earlier this week and added them to our rapidly filling cart. If you haven’t cooked with leeks, keep in mind that they are in the same family as garlic and onions, but have a sweeter flavor. Unlike garlic and onions, there is no bulb on a leek and everything other than the root and stem base is edible, although most avoid the dark green section. Leeks are a good source of Vitamins A, B6, C and K, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and fiber. They can be eaten raw, steamed, baked or sautéed, but avoid boiling as they will lose a majority of their nutrients.

Before working with leeks, rinse them well; dirt may be stuck between the tight leaves. Then trim the root and stem. I choose to only trim about an inch from the darkest green end of the leek, since most of the nutrients are found in the green section. Now they are ready!

Garlic & Leek Smashed Red Potatoes

  • 1 pound red potatoes
  • 4 strips pancetta (optional), chopped
  • 1 large leek
  • 3 garlic cloves (or to taste)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup milk (or soymilk)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chives to garnish

Garlic & Leek Smashed Red Potatoes I Pretty Little Pastimes

In a medium saucepan cover potatoes with water and generously season with salt. Bring to boil and let simmer for 15 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.

While the potatoes are cooking slice the rinsed leeks into thin rings. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic, season with salt and pepper and sauté until the leeks are softened, about 7 minutes, adding the pancetta halfway through.

Garlic & Leek Mashed Red Potatoes I Pretty Little Pastimes

Drain the potatoes and place them in a large bowl with half of the milk (1/8 cup) and the 2 tablespoons of butter. Using a potato masher, mash and add the additional milk by the tablespoon, until potatoes reach desired consistency. Fold in the leek mixture and season with salt and pepper. Top with freshly chopped chives and serve warm.

These potatoes are a great twist on a very simple recipe. The addition of the garlic and fresh leeks give these potatoes some new life. They make a great side for countless main dishes, plus they heat up well the next day … if you have any left over! Enjoy!

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