As mentioned before in a past post, my dad is diabetic. I inherited lots of things from him – my love for Star Wars, my sarcasm, and my affection for pumpkin and all desserts. He’s my loyal taste-tester of everything that comes out of my kitchen, but he’s limited to only a sliver whenever I make anything sweet. For his birthday, he asked for a diabetes-friendly treat that he couldn’t just buy at our neighborhood Ralphs (i.e., NSA pumpkin or apple pie). However, he does love him some pumpkin, so I decided to make some diabetes-friendly pumpkin muffins.
The recipe I used from Gourmet Magazine called for 1 1/4 cups of sugar, so I just replaced one cup of sugar with 30 (yes, 30) packets of Splenda. I’ve never baked with Splenda before, so I didn’t want to commit to buying a large baker’s box not knowing how using it would turn out. Admittedly, I had been pocketing a few extra packets from numerous Starbucks runs and accumulating a stash that I could use towards this recipe. I can’t help myself. I’m Asian.
They turned out a bit on the dough-y side, since using Splenda changes the chemistry of the dough when baking. But it could also be because I eat cupcakes more often than muffins, so I’m used to more of a cake-y texture. My dad liked them, and they didn’t have the strong fake-sugar aftertaste that I was worried they would have.
The fall brings a bounty of wonderful things every year – crisp air, Halloween, awesome seasonal produce, and an extra hour of sleep à la daylight savings. Aside from butternut squash, pumpkin is another one of those pleasures the fall season presents. [Disclaimer: a slew of treats highlighting delicious pumpkin is looming, so stay tuned for updates!] First and foremost, I thought I’d throw in something I made featuring pumpkin that isn’t a dessert!
I found this great recipe for Turkey and Pumpkin Chili on the Whole Foods recipe website a couple of years ago. Any excuse to sneak healthy and delicious things (i.e., quinoa, veggies, pumpkin, etc.) into my food is always welcome, but I was really impressed with the nuttiness that the pumpkin adds to an otherwise pretty standard chili.
Side story – I diced a jalapeño to throw in some guacamole over the summer. I’m not sure what kind of radioactive jalapeño I brought home from the market that day, but that little green pepper set my skin ablaze. The burning sensation started in my fingertips, spread into my cuticles, up my fingers, and all over my hands. Any part of me that I touched felt like it caught fire. I washed my hands a dozen times and even took a shower to try to make it stop. It even spread into my nostrils and eyes after I washed my face, and stayed there. My boyfriend at the time did a quick Google search for “jalapeño hands” and found out my dilemma wasn’t as uncommon as we had thought. The intense burning lasted about 4-5 hours (all from just one jalapeño) til it finally subsided on its own, but it was unbelievably uncomfortable.
Anyway, the point of that little digression is that when I cut up the jalapeño for this chili, you can be damned sure I wore gloves. I recommend wearing gloves to anyone who might make this yummy chili too!
Here is the recipe:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground white or dark meat turkey
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeños and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned.
Add tomatoes, pumpkin, 1 cup water, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium low and add beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes more.
I’ve spent every Memorial Day Weekend since childhood for the last 16 years playing in a basketball tournament, eating some loathsome amount of food I shall not delve into, and hanging out with my favorite people. This past Memorial Day Weekend was special however, because we were celebrating Jamie’s grad school graduation. Before I go any further, I have to provide the inspiration for the subject matter of this post. Jamie’s boyfriend, Shou, sent out an email letting us know about a graduation BBQ we were going to have for Jamie in LA since they were both down from NorCal for the tournament weekend. Naturally, I volunteered to bring dessert, and after failing to get an answer from Jamie as to what her favorite type of sweets were, I deferred to Shou as follows:
what kind of dessert does jamie like?
i get a half day tomorrow, so i was thinking of trying to bake her something
me: she said you like cheesecake but i don’t care what you like
she likes desserts period
like cake? cookies? bars? cupcakes?
surely, she has something she likes more than others
me: does she like fruity things? chocolatey? citrusy?
After accumulating all the random supplies needed from the market and Target (candy thermometer, anyone?), Shou sent the following text: “Omg. Jamie likes to MAKE cupcakes, not eat them.” I couldn’t bring myself to take the perishables back to the market the next day, because “I promise I didn’t poison these bananas or leave this buttermilk in my hot car all day” just didn’t seem viable. So, I decided to make pumpkin bars with a gingerbread crust in addition to the banana cupcakes.
My banana cupcakes were off to a good start with everything going smoothly in the batter-making process, but things took a turn for the worse when it came time to start the Caramel Buttercream frosting. I guess the need for a candy thermometer should have raised a red flag, but I refused to buy one because I would probably never use it again. Instead, I purchased a digital meat thermometer with a probe and clip it at such an angle where the tip of the probe wasn’t touching the bottom of the pan to give the most accurate temperature read. Behold my clever device:
I made the caramel successfully with said contraption, but in the process, I managed to knock a pan’s worth of hot melted sugar into my kitchen sink which quickly cooled and solidified. After pouring gallons of boiling water down the sink to try to dissolve what had probably become a giant rock of sugar, I found my inner plumber (sans buttcrack) and disassembled the sink, cleared the clogged pipe, and put the pipes back together. Of course, it continued to leak water, so I ended up taking it apart and putting it back together four more times. By the time I had gotten everything back to normal, all of the frosting ingredients had cooled or warmed to the wrong temperature. I tried to combine them all in vain and instead of a fluffy frosting, I was left with sugary soup.
Accepting frosting defeat, I bought dark chocolate frosting at the store to accompany my banana cupcakes. Until next time, Caramel Buttercream.