Halloween Cookies

Despite the fact that there is snow on the ground and I was out shoveling this morning, tomorrow is Halloween and I am so excited for this year's cookies. (Quite frankly after Hurricane Irene I was just happy to have power this morning.) 

Last year I kept  it fairly simple, but this year I wanted to add some variety and not just do pumpkins and ghosts.  I did make the same pumpkins but I changed the jack-o-lanterns from last year.  I think this year's jack-o-lanterns have more personality.
My favorites are by far the spider webs.  The wet on wet icing always makes such a great effect and these cookies are no exception.  I tried picking out "creepy" colors and not just make black and white webs.  If you want to learn how to make spider web cookies like these check out Bake at 350 has a great tutorial.  I didn't follow hers exactly but all the basic steps are outlined on her site.
I love how the bats and spider webs look together.  I actually thought about posting these separately,  since they are not cheerful like the candy corn and pumpkins but I have plenty of other goodies to share later this week.  But this photo makes me want to do themed cookies next year and only make creepy cookies.  I guess I have a year to plan.
I still have a giveaway going on.   You can enter to win a signed cookbook by the Cake Boss until 5pm EST tomorrow.  If you have entered yet you still have time! 

Happy Halloween! (and for those of you in the Northeast happy shoveling).

Cake Boss! Signed Cookbook Giveaway

Last weekend Mohegan Sun celebrated it's 15th anniversary.  The weekend was filled with celebrities including appearances by celebrity chefs Bobby Flay, "The Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro and Todd English.

Buddy Valastro, owner of Carlo's Bakery and star of TLC's The Cake Boss created a special 15th anniversary cake for Mohegan Sun.  The cake took three days to make and features Mohegan Sun's famous Wolf Den and Sky Tower.  Visitors received complimentary pieces of the Cake Boss' famous cake (Yum!).

For those of us that didn't make it, here's the cake Buddy created for the event.

To see highlights from Mohegan Sun's 15th Anniversary Celebration weekend including a performance by Jennifer Lopez, checkout the weekend wrap up video. 

Now for the giveaway! Mohegan Sun is offering a signed copy of the Cake Boss' cookbook Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia for one lucky Pink Apron reader.

Here is how to enter:
1. Leave a comment on this post with what kind of cake you would have Buddy Valastro make you if were given an opportunity.  (Flavor, shape, be creative!)
2. The comment must left by 5pm EST October 31, 2011.
3. You may only enter once.
4. The winner will be selected in a random drawing and announced November 1, 2011. 

Good Luck!

Stuffed Shells with Turkey and Artichokes

I am a big fan of make ahead dinners and meals that freeze well.   Just because I work a long day and don't want to spend an hour in the kitchen after a ten hour work day, does not mean I want to rely on take out and frozen dinners.  Instead I try to plan ahead and stock up the freezer with dishes that will easily pop in the oven. 
This is a great dish that is super tasty and freezes incredibly well.  I love the turkey and artichokes.  Mr. Apron loves lasagna and I originally made this as a lasagna alternative and he loved it.  If you are not a fan of artichokes you can easily substitute spinach.   Sometimes I'll make two batches on a Sunday and freeze one tray and have the other for dinner on Monday night.  This makes more than enough for two meals for me and Mr. Apron with some leftover for lunches. 
Stuffed Shells with Turkey and Artichokes 
1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1 (8 to 10-ounce) package frozen artichokes, thawed and coarsely chopped
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
5 cups Marinara Sauce
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (about 5 ounces)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta.  Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is slightly golden and cooked through. Add the artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool.  In a large bowl combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 cup of sauce. Take a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full, about 24 shells. Drizzle the remaining Sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella.

To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 20 minutes if shells are unfrozen.

If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month.   Bake for 60 minutes. 
Source: Everyday Pasta

Lightened Up Chicken Cacciatore

I love chicken cacciatore.  I love how all the flavors slowly simmer together, how simple it is  to prepare and it only needs one dish.  It is also a meal that taste better the next day making it a great make ahead dish.  Because the chicken does have to simmer for an hour, I like to make this on a Sunday and have it for dinner on Monday and Tuesday nights.  It also freezing very well.

This recipe is my version of chicken caccitore.  Traditionally bone in chicken is used and the chicken is fried with flour. But my version uses boneless, skinless chicken breast and is only browned, not fried.  I am always looking for ways to lighten up some of favorite comfort foods and I really don't think that skinless breast tastes away from the meal at all.  The sauce is so tasty and the chicken simmers for long in the sauce that it absorbs a lot of the flavor.  Mr. Apron even said he preferred this version.  

I am not a nutritionist, so I can't tell you how much fat and calories are saved with this version of chicken cacciatore.  But clearly if you are not eating the skin and you are not frying the chicken you not consuming nearly as many calories.

Chicken Cacciatore
2 ½ - 3 1b boneless skinless chicken breast
½ cup olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb white mushrooms sliced
1 large onion, sliced
4 red peppers
1 cup dry white wine
15 ounces chicken broth
28 ounces wholes tomatoes with juices, crushed
Dash of red pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons tomatoes paste
fresh basil- about 5 leaves

Heat oil in large saucepot over medium high heat.  Add the chicken in batches and brown on both sides.   About ten minutes aside.  Set aside the chicken.
In the same pan add the garlic, cook for one minute.  Add the mushroom and cook until lease most of their liquid about 8 minutes.
Add the onion and peppers and sauté until soft, about 6 minutes.  Add the wine and let reduce for a one minute.
Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, red pepper, salt, oregano, basil and tomatoes.   Return chicken to pot and bring to a boil stirring constantly. 
Turn down the heat to low and simmer for about 75 minutes.   The sauce will thicken.
Turn off the heat and serve over whole wheat pasta.  
For reheating I recommend storing the pasta and chicken separate, then microwaving together.  The pasta will absorb the flavors from the sauce.  I have found if you store them together the pasta gets way too soft. 

Holiday Pies

It's only October but the Holidays are right around the corner.  And if you're a planner like me, it's never too soon to start thinking about your holiday meal planning.  For me one of my favorite things to do around the holidays, especially Thanksgiving is to make pies.  What  I love about pies is that there is so many types.  Even if you don't like one kind of pie, there is another kind of pie that you do like.  And all pie tastes great with real whipped cream. 

Here are some of my favorite holiday pie recipes, and some ideas so you can start your planning. 
Pecan Pie
Pie Dough (see below)
5 large eggs
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 molasses
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups pecans, coarsely chopped plus 1/3 cup while pecan halves

Set a 9 inch pie pan on a baking sheet.  Roll out dough to a 13 inch round.  Fit dough into pie pan.  Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to refrigerator.  Chill for another 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degree.  Bake chilled pie shell until golden, about 20 minutes.  (I recommend using pie weights to prevent shell from shrinking).   Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 5 eggs, the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, molasses, rum, vanilla, and salt.  Stir in chopped pecans. Pour filling into cooled pie shell; arranged whole pecans on top of pie.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake until knife tip inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.  Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool. 

Adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
I love the smell of pumpkin pie in the oven.  The combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger permeate the whole house.  There is a reason why they make a pumpkin spice candle.   
Pumpkin Pie
Pie Dough (see below)
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teas cloves
1/2 salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 milk
4 large eggs

Prebake pie shell for 20 minutes at 375 degrees until crust is light golden brown.  

Process the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, spices, and salt in a food processor for one minute until combined.  Transfer the pumpkin mixture to a 3 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring it to a sputtering simmer over medium high heat.  Cook the pumpkin stirring constantly until thick and shinning, about 5 minutes. 

As soon as the pie shell comes out of the oven, adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Whisk the heavy cream and milk into the pumpkin and bring to a bare simmer. Process the eggs in a food processor until the whites and yolks are combined about 5 seconds.  With the motor running slowly pour about half of the hot pumpkin mixture through the feed tube.  Stop the machine and add the remaining pumpkin mixture.  Process 30 seconds longer.   

Immediately pour the warm filling into the hot pie shell.  Bake the pie until the filling is puffed, dry looking, and lightly cracked around the edges, and the center wiggles like gelatin when the pie is gently shaken, about 30 minutes.   

Source: Baking Illustrated
And I can't talk about Holiday Pies without mentioning Apple Pie.  It's an American tradition and it's my favorite. It was the first type of pie I learned how to make.   I like to buy the apples from growers, especially in the fall when apples are plentiful in New England.  I find the apples to be fresher, and I like to support local businesses.  

And if you are more of a chocolate person,  Chocolate Cream Pie might more of want you want. It is Mr. Apron's favorite. 

Don't let pie crust intimidate you.  It's not that hard and just takes a little practice.  Homemade pie dough taste so much better than the pre-made stuff and once you get the hang of it, making your own won't take very long. This is my favorite pie crust recipe.  It's reliable and easy;  and it's great for when you are making a lot pies, like around the holidays and need several batches of pie dough. (Don't let the vodka scare you.)

Pie Dough 
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water

Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Source: Cooks Illustrated

I created this post as part of Frigidaire's Talk Turkey Campaign. Share your own recipes and tips at Frigidaire's Make Time for Change site.  For every recipe or top that's shared, Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children's U.S. Programs, which creates lasting change for children in need. 

Apple Crisp

After fulling embracing pumpkin, I have finally found time to take advantage of another flavor of the season: apples!  I don't know what it is about an apple crisp but the simple combination of fresh fruit topped with sugar, butter and flour makes a delightful combination.   I love the taste of warm apples with the spices and crunchy top.  It also makes your kitchen amazing on a cool fall day.

One thing I learned during the apple crisp process is that it is basically impossible to photograph warm apple crisp with a scoop of ice cream.  (Did not produce good results) Next time I will have to wait for the crisp to cool before trying to take a photo with ice cream.

Apple Crisp
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 Tables cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup coarsely chopped nuts

3 medium Granny Smith apples
3 medium MacIntosh apples
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the topping: Place the flour, sugars, spices, and salt in a food processor and process briefly to combine.  Add the butter and pulse 10 times, about 4 seconds each pulse.  The mixture will first look like dry sand, with large lumps of butter, then like coarse cornmeal.  Add the nuts, then process again for five  1-second pulses. The topping should look like slightly clumpy wet sand.  Be sure not to over mix or the mixture will become too wet and homogeneous.  Refrigerate topping while preparing the fruit.

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position an heat the oven to 375 degrees.

For the filling: Peel, quarter, core and cut the apples into 1 inch chucks.  Toss the apples, zest, juice, and sugar in a medium bowl.  Scrape the fruit mixture with a rubber spatula into an 8 inch square baking pan.

To assemble and bake:  Distribute the chilled topping evenly over the fruit.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Increase the over temperature to 400 degrees and continue baking until the fruit is bubbling and the topping turns deep golden brown, about 5 minutes more.  Serve warm. 

Source: Baking Illustrated

Black and White Chocolate Cake

Last week I needed to bring dessert over to a friend's house for after dinner drinks.  I was originally going to make a cheesecake but my local grocery store caught on fire!   No one was hurt but everything in the store had to be thrown out and the store was closed for a day. Since I could not run out to my neighborhood store I had to wait until the next morning to send Mr. Apron to a store further away to get  ingredients.  This delay also meant I had to change what I was going to make. I find cheesecake to be best when it sits overnight, and I did not want to risk having runny cheesecake by not having enough time for it to set.

As an alternative I decided to try Dorie Greenspan's Black and White Chocolate Cake. For a second choice dessert this cake came out really well.  The dark chocolate filling is incredible1  It is like a chocolate pastry cream. The cake itself seems a little thin, for some reason it works cut into four layers, but I think I would have preferred a bit more actual cake.

I read other review of the original recipe and several others said how they ran out of the white chocolate frosting when assembling the cake, but had extra dark chocolate.  Knowing that I typically need a lot of frosting, I altered the original recipe and used only the dark chocolate for the filling and saved the white chocolate cream for the outside.  I don't think it took away from the cake at all.  And being a big fan of dark chocolate I loved having only dark on the inside.  I think if I were to make this again, I would double the white chocolate cream to make sure I had enough for the filling and the frosting.
Black and White Chocolate Cake
For the cake:
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

Dark chocolate cream:
2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp corstarch, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces, at room temp

White chocolate whipped cream:
6 oz. premium quality white chocolate
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

To make cake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9X2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Working with a stand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minutes after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 28-30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then unmmold, remove the paper and invert to cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

To make the dark chocolate cream: Bring the milk to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolk with the sugar, cornstarch and salt until thick and well blended. Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk-this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle-then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (make sure to get into the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1-2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the melted chocolate, and let stand for 5 minutes. Then whisk in the pieces of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the chocolate cream is smooth and silky. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create and airtight seal and refrigerate the cream until chilled, or for up to 3 days. Or, if you want to cool the cream quickly, put the bowl with a cream into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir the cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

To make the white chocolate whipped cream: Put the white chocolate in a heat proof bowl and put the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir frequently to melt the chocolate evenly. Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup of the heavy cream to a boil. When the white chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from the pan. Pour the hot cream into the melted chocolate and let it sit for a minute. Using a small spatula, stir the chocolate gently until it is smooth. Let it sit on the counter until it reaches room temperature-it can’t be the least warm when you add it to the whipped cream. Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream only until it holds the softest peaks. Turn the machine to high, add the cooled white chocolate all at once and continue to beat until the whipped cream holds firm peaks. Turn the whipped cream into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap gently against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 6 hours.

To assemble the cake: If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Slice each layer horizontally in half. Place on layer cut side down on a cardboard cake round or on a cake plate. Remove the dark and white chocolate creams from the refrigerator and whisk each of them vigorously to loosen and smooth them. With a long metal icing spatula, spread enough dark chocolate cream (about 1 cup) over the cake layer to cover it completely. Top the cream with another cake layer, and repeat with 2 more layers. (You should have three layers.) Place the final layer of cake, cut side down  and frost the sides and top with the white chocolate whipped cream.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Buttermilk Icing

My pumpkin baking is in full force!  After a two week search my cabinets are full of canned pumpkin and I'm taking full advantage.   This weekend I made a Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake and it was delicious.  Even Mr. Apron who typical does not like pumpkin asked for seconds.  
I find most pumpkin cakes to be moist, but the buttermilk made this cake extra moist.  It has the right amount of spices without being overwhelming.  It's not too sweet and has a great texture. I will definitely be making this cake before the end of fall. It's also very easy to make.  Something that could be made during the week to be brought into work the next morning to have with coffee. (I wonder if any of my coffee ladies are reading this? You know who you are!)

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake
1 1/2  (3/4 cup) butter, softened
2 1/4 flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2  teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
15 oz (1 can) pure pumpkin
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs

For icing
3 tablespoons buttermilk
2 cups confectioners sugar

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bundt pan generously, then dust with flour, knocking out excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, buttermilk, and vanilla in another bowl. Beat butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth. Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top, then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and reinvert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.

Make icing:
While cake is cooling, whisk together buttermilk and confectioners sugar until smooth. Drizzle icing over warm cake, then cool cake completely. Icing will harden slightly.

Adapted from Gourmet on epicurious

How to Cook Lobster

Earlier in the summer I won five pounds of live lobster in a drawing  The lobsters were on Cape Cod, which is over an hour drive for me without traffic and that drive is significantly longer during the summer with all the vacationers headed to the Cape. With the summer traffic in mind, I decided to wait to get the lobsters until after Labor Day. Mr. Apron and I were finally able to go pick up my winnings last week.   The five pounds I won covered three 1.75lb lobsters, and we bought a fourth since we were eating with my parents. This was my first time cooking lobsters at home, but Mr. Apron and I found it to be very easy.

First, you need live lobsters.  Once the lobster dies the meat will start decaying, so you need to be okay with working with a live creature. Some people say freezing them makes this easier, but I think you are just postponing the inevitable. 
Fill a large pot with water.  Depending on the size of your pot and the number of lobsters you are cooking you might need more than one.  I had two large stock pots and put two lobsters in each pot.   Add some sea salt, thyme and lemon juice to the water.   Bring the water to a boil over a high heat.

Once the water starts boiling put the lobsters in the pot head first, one at a time.  Cover the pot and allow the water to return to boil.
Once the water starts boiling, you can slightly turn down the heat so that it doesn't boil over.  While your lobster is cooking start melting butter. 

The cooking time is based on the size of your lobster. Smaller lobster 1- 1.25 pounds should cook 12-15 minutes; medium lobsters that are 1.5 - 2 pounds cook for 15-20 minutes; and larger lobsters that are 2-3 pounds cooks for 20-25 minutes.

The lobster is done cooking when the lobster is totally red.  Properly cooked lobster meat is firm and white in color.  Use tongs to remove the lobsters from the pot.   I found it helpful to have a large tray next to the stove, to put the lobsters on as I was removing them from the water so that they continued to drain water.
Once all your lobsters are removed from the pot, they are ready to be eaten and should be served hot. You will need lobster crackers to crack the shell.  Just dip the meat in the butter you melted earlier, and enjoy! 

Pumpkin Muffins

I finally found pumpkin!   Anyone who follows me on facebook or twitter knows that I have been looking for cans of pure pumpkin for a couple of weeks.  Because of Hurricane Irene there is a pumpkin shortage in the northeast and apparently that affected my ability to find pure pumpkin in a can.  But the pumpkin deliveries finally arrived to the Boston area and now there is no less than 10 cans of pumpkin in my cabinets. 

My first pumpkin baked good of the season is pumpkin muffins.  I've done pumpkin cupcakes and cookies before, so I wanted to try something a little different.  These muffins did not dispoint.  They are super moist and the topping gives them a little crunch.  These muffins go perfect with a cup of coffee on a fall morning.
Pumpkin Muffins
3 cups flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil
For the topping:
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp. flour
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line two muffin pans with paper liners (recipe makes 24 muffins).  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil.  Mix on medium-low speed until blended.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend.  Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.  Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use. Evenly fill lined muffin pans with batter.   Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells. Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

Adapted from BakeSpace