Halloween Kitchen Gadgets & Goodies

The truth is, I don’t need any more spatulas. I think I have seven. But until last week I didn’t have any miniature FRANKENSTEIN spatulas! These days kitchen gadget retailers are finding all new ways for you to spruce up your kitchen for the holidays, and I’m eating the Halloween novelty goodies right up. I’m so excited about my black table cloth, skeleton apron, and gauzy window hangings that I might just leave them out until Christmas, about the time my parents will come over and INSIST I take them down. These are a few more kitchen-y things I’d “die for” (ha!).

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1. Zombie Head Cookie Jar – Wandering fingers will think twice before nibbling on your cookies. 2. Purple Finger Spreader – The final touch to any cheese plate. 3. 400 mL Graduated Glass Beaker – An amazing way to serve up your home brew or wicked punch, even cooler with some paper straws! 4. Uglydoll Ice-Bat Salt & Pepper Shaker – It’s just too dang cute, and his head comes off. 5. Bones Sprinkles – Add the sweet crunch of bones to your cupcakes.

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6. Scary Creature 8″ Plates – I’m not even sure I could eat off of a plate with a spider on it. 7. Halloween Printable Treat Labels – Perfect for homemade Halloween goodies! 8. Skeleton Hand Bags – These filled with white cheddar popcorn are my favorite! 9. Black Cake Stand – A little bit gothic, a little bit chic, I’d use this cake stand year-round. 10. Smoky Black Glass Plate – For a wicked party display.

Hope everyone’s Halloween plans are coming together well. Here in the greater NYC metro area we’re still out of power, but hoping to get it back soon. This whole hurricane thing is putting a kink in my blogging stride, what with no electricity and all, but hopefully I’ll be able to update again this week! xo, Jenny

Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting

This week I’ve had a one day weekend, (yesterday) and most of the day was spent casually baking peach cupcakes with brown sugar frosting, as found on Smitten Kitchen. Over the course of seven hours I baked, frosted, set-up, arranged, photographed, edited, and weeded 135 photos. Perhaps it should take more time or less time to really get through the whole process, but it’s rare that I get to cook and “work” so casually.

Two more days of work, and I’m setting out on an 8 day adventure! On Saturday morning I’m heading down to Philadelphia for a couple of days to see friends that I’ve really missed since moving, and then on to Montreal!!! I’ve never been to Canada before and am really looking forward to it. While my French-Canadian is really poor, I’m hoping I’ll be able to mumble my way through things with what remains of my high school French memory.

Of course, one of the things I’m looking forward to on my trip is getting the opportunity to taste new things and hopefully get some cool travel food photographs. I’ve travelled a lot in the past, but have somehow managed to avoid snapping any photos of some of the world’s most incredible meals. While I can still taste the fine French cheeses and delicious Argentinean steak, it would have been far easier to mesmerize people with photos.

Anyway, on to the good stuff – the recipe:

Peach Cupcakes – Makes about 30

3 or 4 Peaches (4 if medium, 3 if large) – Peeled, cored & chopped into smallish cubes, about 1/3″.
3 c. Cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
3/4 c. (6 oz) Unsalted Butter at room temperature
3/4 c. Sugar
3/4 c. Light Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 c. Sour Cream

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. In a mixer, beat together the butter and both sugar until it become fluffy and lightens in color (a minute or two). With a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla to the eggs, and add the eggs to the mix one at a time, beating to incorporate. Scrape the bowl again. Add the flour in two parts, alternating with the sour cream and taking care not to over mix. When the batter is fully incorporated, remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the chopped peaches. Divide into muffin cups lined with cupcake papers and bake for about 18 minutes at 350 degrees.

Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 c. (4 oz) Unsalted Butter at room temperature
1 pound (two 8 oz packages) Cream Cheese at room temperature
1 1/4 c. Light Brown Sugar
1 c. Powdered Sugar
1/4 c. Cornstarch*
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

In a mixer, beat the butter until it is completely smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat it into the butter until completely combined and smooth. In a small bowl combine the sugars and the cornstarch and whisk together until they are completely combined. Add the sugars to the cream cheese and beat on medium until the frosting has lightened in color and is very fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape the mixing bowl down occasionally while mixing.

*Note: The original recipe includes the 1/4 c. of cornstarch, added for the purpose of stiffening the frosting. I also added a little more powdered sugar to my recipe to give the frosting a little more body and sweetness. Next time though, I’m considering cutting the cornstarch down or out altogether (it just seems a little weird to me) and upping the powdered sugar to make it even sweeter. I like it sweet, what can I say?

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