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One of my favorite creations this weekend is the Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes. I made these for my daughter's Communion Class. Her birthday was last week and I wanted to make something for her class but between school, gymnastics and communion class I had to space the treats out. It's been so busy that I just didn't want to do it all at once. I went to Walmart one night to buy some last minute additions to my daughter's birthday presents. I barely have time to do anything myself because I always have the kids so my only alternative is to go shopping when the kids are asleep and my husband is home.
When I went to Walmart they had all this Libby's pure packed pumpkin. My eyes just became wide opened. I was so excited, it meant Fall was really here, my daughter is turning 8 and also means Thanksgiving and Christmas is coming. So I thought to stock up. Big cans, small cans, spices, baking goods and then I also saw Spice Cake Mix. I thought Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes would be perfect as a treat for communion class and put cute little candy pumpkins on top with cream cheese frosting. Yum!
I love Spice Cake and I love Pumpkin, so does Sofia. So I asked Sister Josephine if it would be okay to bring in a treat to class and she insisted without any hesitation. I love my church so much. It's still old school. All the nuns are still in full robe and habits just like when I was a kid. This is also the same church that baptized me and baptized my children and it was all done by the same priest who I love, he's like an uncle to us. I think Father Pat is the reason why I have been strong in my faith and the close family feeling we have in our church even though it's a huge church with many parishioners. Although there are many of us, I mean hundreds, we all pretty much know eachother and there is definitely the factor of 6 degrees of separation there. We are all connected and that is due to the our love for the church and the love the church gives back to us. It's almost unreal how the same priest who conducted my baptism, first confession, communion and wedding will be doing the same for my children. Who knew that the time when I was making my communion, one day my daughter would be walking up the same aisle to make her communion. What a blessing it has been. I have celebrated life in this church as well as mourned death in this church. It's so much part of my life that I can't imagine being anywhere else. Going to mass and looking up at the ceiling and seeing the paintings there and then recollecting doing the same thing when I was a child during mass. It's truly an amazing experience. Then there is the fact of walking out the door and looking across the street to the street where I lived when I was born until the age of 3, when my parents and siblings came here from Italy and all the other Italian immigrants who did the same and feeling sad that the neighborhood isn't the same and seeing my old house in shambles after such hard work my parents did to repair and fix in such a great condition only to be ruined by future occupants. It kind of angers you.
Nonetheless, I am grateful to the memories and passing it on to my children. Funny thing about it all is that my daughter was so nervous starting communion class. She was previously in Catholic School by our home but I didn't like it, I guess I had expectations that all Catholic Churches are the same and parishioners were all treated the same. Of course after 2 years of her enrollment I quickly realized this is not true. Sofia went to public school after that and it was the best thing we did. I feel more of a family unit at her school than I did at the local church. I didn't have her go to our family church for school because it isn't close and not I know I just couldn't do the drive. Had our church been closer that is where my children would attend, I don't mind the Sunday masses and being involved at my church. Being so occupied with the bad experience at the old school my daughter attended, I wasted a lot of time not going to my church. But now we're back and I am glad we are and my priest is certainly glad we're back. After all my parents were still going and I was no where to be seen and it was hard to admit I was at a different church. With Sofia being so nervous she wanted to leave before her first class even started. I told her it would be okay and Sister Josephine immediately consoled her, I was relieved. I think I just realized I was nervous as well. How weird it was to walk in and step on the stairs that I did when I was a little girl and had my Sunday School classes, to step on those stairs again almost made me cry.
Walking in, seeing the halls and classrooms it was a blast from the past. Then I noticed a guy in a bright construction shirt and at first before my brain kicked on in the morning, I thought to myself that he looked familiar. Well duh, it was my younger cousin (actually my second cousin but it's all the same to our family). He was there signing up my 3rd cousin (his daughter) Aliyah for communion class, Sofia and I both were relieved, she knew someone, her cousin was going to be in class with her. Weird how we didn't know she was taking classes, how did we not talk about it? Then my friend from school, her child was in the class, weird! Then I walked out after I left Sofia in class and was going into church for mass in Italian. Then I walked out and saw my other cousin Joe (first cousin) and his son Joey was going to be in communion class too! Oh geez, it was like a family get together, I said to them, well since we are having our kids making their communion this year we better let eachother know when we plan on having our communion parties. It was going to be a busy Spring for our family with parties! LOL! I think we were all relieved that our kids would be in class together. I went to mass.
I walked into church and mass didn't start yet. I was wondering okay, isn't there an Italian mass? I said wow now it must be too early for me and I was making up my own mass schedule. I remembered I was just there a few weeks ago when we had the memorial mass dedicated to my father and I was there at 10am. Then I saw Father Pat come out, he waved at me. I figured okay, I will just sit in church and wait to go and get Sofia out of class. Then the dimmed light became brighter, people started coming in. Father was getting ready, could it be that mass was late? Maybe it was really at 10:15am. I was sitting there, I had already read the mass in English in the book while I waited. Mass began and as I always do I looked around to see who was around. In the way back of the church I saw two women who look alike, in fact they could almost be twins. It was my aunts, my dad's sisters. I got up and went and sat with them and they said how they went back and forth about whether it was me just by seeing the back of my head. So now every weekend, I sit with my Aunt Vittoria (Zia Vicky) and my Aunt Domenica (Zia Calina). It's nice to be there with them. It's kind of funny, I mean how many family members can I run into in one day? Now I know my family is one of the biggest Italian families in Ohio but seriously this day was just crazy! It's funny no matter what, our lives are very much intertwined.
After mass in Italian, I went and got Sofia. I walk in and I see a friend of the family. Her son was in communion class too. Really? Sofia plays with him in the summer months because his grandmother and my mom not only are friends but they live on the same street. We hugged and were glad to see eachother. My world just got smaller. So pretty much about 85% of the kids in her class, she already knew. I knew instantly it was a sign and it was going to be something good.
Thank you for enduring my story. I think how funny food, faith, hope and love all come together.
Here is my Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes that I made....
Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes Makes 24 Cupcakes
1 box Spice Cake Mix
1/3 Cup of Water
1/3 Cup of Vegetable Oil
1 (15oz.) Can of Packed Pure Pumpkin Puree
1 tub of Rich and Creamy Cream Cheese Frosting or your own recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting.
Preheat oven to 350'F
Mix all ingredients in bowl with a mixer until ingredients are well incorporated.
Place cupcake liners in muffin pan and scoop enough batter about a little more than half way to the top of the liner. I use a Ice Cream Scoop to do this it fills about the right amount.
Bake cupcakes about 18-20 minutes until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean.
Let cupcakes cool in muffin pans before frosting.
Place frosting in a sandwich or ziploc bag and snip the corner, swirl frosting on top of cupcakes.
Decorate with candy pumpkins, candy corn, Halloween Peeps, pumpkin spice or caramel topping.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. Most of all ENJOY!
I want to end this blog with the my sweet Sofia. She had a Halloween party that her friend Dominic invited her to. Here she is as Draculaura, who is the daughter of Count Dracula, she is a character from Monster High which is about Monster Teens who attend school and live in their Monster Teenage World as the children of some of our famous Horror and Historical Creatures. My son is being a bat, Draculaura has a pet Bat named Count Fabulous and is her sidekick which we decided Johnny would look adorable in!
Thank You to Anita of Aunt Nubby's Kitchen, who awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award! I appreciate you taking the time Anita checking me out and feeling that I am worthy of the Award! I feel loved! So to pass the torch onto others, I have recently discovered many new blogs myself. Anita of course being one of them, I wonder Anita, could you be awarded twice? I encourage all of you to check out Anita's blog!
The rules for the Versatile Blogger Award are:
1. Thank the blogger who awarded you and link back to them.
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Pass the award along to 15 other newly discovered blogs.
So here are the 7 things you may not know about me: 1. I don't like watching TV.
2. I'm addicted to Facebook Games.
3. I love Caffeine Free Diet Dr. Pepper
4. I was run over by a car on the highway and had to learn to walk again.
5. My family is from Bari, Italy.
6. My maiden name Settanni means 7 years in Italian.
7. I'm a Conservative Democrat.
So I've decided to finally give my first try of messing with puff pastry. I will not though make my first attempt making it from scratch. So I bought frozen puff pastry sheets and thawed just 1 to make Nutella Palmiers. In my house, Nutella is a staple. It was a staple growing up and oh so good. If Nutella could be snuck into any chocolate recipe or on it's own, I will use it. Nutella makes anything better on just about anything! Okay maybe I don't use it with everything but if I could, I would.
So I bought Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry. It said to thaw for about 40 minutes and that's what I did. I rolled out the dough to be a little bigger than how it came. Of course unfold it before folding. I carefully spread Nutella onto the dough and rolled each end up towards the middle and gave it a slight squeeze to bring the middles to each other. I sliced them and then placed them onto parchment lined cookie sheets until lightly golden brown.
Whenever I went into bakeries and saw Palmiers, I was instantly gravitated to them. The best ones I ever had were from a small bakery in Woodbridge, Canada which is a city in Toronto. That's where my cousin's live. It has a high population of Italian residents so all the goodness of Italy is jam packed in this area. So I don't know how they did it, but the Palmier that I had was huge, crisp and just caramelized sugary goodness! It was crisp and flaky and I was in Heaven. Like I said, when I see Palmiers, I have to have one. I will never forget the one in Canada. Yum! I think Palmiers are a rare find here in Cleveland Bakeries. I have no idea why. So that is why I am taking my shot to them myself. One day though I plan on making my own puff pastry dough, but not quite yet....
So here I start with the basic frozen dough and Nutella. You can add nuts but I didn't have hazelnuts so I skipped that. Plus my kids aren't real fans big nut chunks so I would probably put them in the food processor and finely chop them. So here is the basic Nutella Palmier, a little different to the typical Palmier. It's worth the try, scrumptious puff pastry and Nutella! Do I need another reason?
PS: I have a really dingy camera, it's a Nikon Digital but it's not superior in taking food shots and proper lighting. One day, One day... I will own one of those top notch cameras, I try my best with the features it has. Sometimes it takes really professional looking photos...
1 sheet of Frozen Puff Pastry Dough (freeze the second one in plastic wrap and place back in freezer)
Finely chopped hazelnuts (optional)
mini chocolate chips (optional)
Sugar for sprinkling
Preheat over to 350' F.
Roll out puff pastry and thin it out a little making a bigger rectangle. Not much bigger than it already is.
Spread Nutella carefully to the outer edges. This is when you want to sprinkle with the finely chopped hazelnuts or mini chocolate chips. If using the mini chocolate chips, use the chocolate sparingly.
Roll up one side jelly roll style towards the middle, then go to the other side and roll that end towards the middle.
Cut into thin slices and take each tip and pull ends up towards each other making a tulip type look.
*I didn't take a picture of pulling them up towards the middle, but here are the strips, just fold them back up towards each other to look like heart shaped/tulip shaped.
Sprinkle some sugar on top of them and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Place in oven and bake until lightly golden brown about 10-15 minutes (depending on your oven)
Fresh from the oven:
*My daughter pointed out how the one Palmier looked like a heart!
I went to a craft store sometime ago and I purchased a plain unpainted unfinished wood jewelry box. I wanted to make something for my daughter that was whimsical. I got this jewelry box for about $5.00 and painted it all myself. I also added a layer of Modge Podge in a shiny finish to give it a smooth vibrant finish to the paint. I didn't apply Modge Podge where the drawers rub against the other parts of the wood because it could become stuck. I did all my painting base and the added my characters. I think for someone who normally doesn't paint mermaids did pretty good. Around the edge of the mirror it says: "Jewels and Trinkets, Baubles and Bubbles". Cute little whimsical saying.... I thought maybe I would sell it at the Art Gallery but my daughter loved it too much, so I couldn't let it go. Thought I would share this little painting adventure I did. Would love your feedback!
So I wanted to post these pictures of my daughter Sofia and my son Johnathan (Johnny) to share what my sweet monkeys were last year for Halloween. This was Johnny's second Halloween. Sofia's seventh Halloween. My mother in law took these photos of them in her backyard and at her home. I just had to show them off! =)
Sofia and Johnny's Halloween 2010
Sofia was a Candy Corn Witch. She was the sweetest and cutest witch around!
It was a perfect ensemble!
Try to catch her if you can!
Who said witches couldn't sit pretty?
Then there was the cutest little Elephant I ever did see....
Could he of been any cuter?
*Johnny knows he's the cutest!
The witch knew it was getting chilly...
And then the snuggling began....
Who ever thought an Elephant and a Witch could get along? Well it's true they can...
They are the happiest of them all!
This was the loving brother and sister sharing a beautiful Fall day together!
Stay Tuned for their next Halloween Adventure........ Halloween 2011!