My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Cider Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting 10

Posted on September 26, 2009 by crankycheryl

0926090846a I’ve been been making wonderful cider cupcakes from Coconut & Lime for a couple of falls now.  They’re pretty easy and wonderful and a reasonable substitution for cider donuts, which I really oughtn’t buy every time I leave the house.  Probably.

I’ve adapted the recipe to make it a bit heartier and healthier, adding in (you guessed it) butternut squash, reducing the sugar and butter, and switching whole wheat pastry flour for white.  I don’t do this for every dessert I make, but I did for this because I doubled the recipe and baked the rest as mini-muffins to have around for snacks.  Plus I don’t think that cupcakes with sweet frostings need to be terribly sweet themselves.

As for the question of what is in fact on top of these, I’ve had the problem of not liking the idea of C&L’s icing.  For me, cupcakes are supposed to be fluffy and frosted and not things with delicate, subtle little dabs of things.  On the other hand, I’m not going to use shortening in homemade frosting, and I’m not likely to buy pre-made Toxic Sweet Stuff of Death to feed to my family.  I’ve experimented with cream cheese, white chocolate ganache, and with white chocolate-cream cheese.  All good, but nothing’s been just right.

Then this fall, to the rescue came Eating Well magazine with its featured apple recipes, and this lovely idea for a caramel marshmallow frosting.  Perfect – fluffy and sweet and light enough to be a nice balance for the butter-y cake beneath.  We’re bringing these to a potluck tonight, which is an awesome opportunity to act like a generous martyr as I let everyone else eat the cupcakes, never admitting that I’ve eaten a flock of semi-burnt mini muffins and the bowl of leftover frosting.  Yup.

Apple Cider Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting
Yield: 12
Cupcakes adapted from coconutandlime and frosting recipe from Eating Well



  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3/4 stick (6 T.) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin or butternut squash puree
  • 1 c. apple cider (Pasteurized?  Unpasteurized?  Here’s a take on the issue.)
  • 1 2/3 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease cupcake pan or line with parchment liners and set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar with electric mixer until fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then squash, then cider.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Mix dry ingredients into wet, stirring just until well blended and only small lumps remain.
  5. Fill cupcake wells 2/3 full and bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until firm and an inserted toothpick emerges clean.  Let cool on a rack while you make the frosting.


Marshmallow Frosting


  • 1 c. light brown sugar (I used fair trade raw sugar)
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 4 teaspoons dried egg whites (equivalent to 2 egg whites), reconstituted by stirring powder into directed amount of water until most lumps are gone
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
  1. Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler (I put one saucepan on top of another since I don’t have a double boiler).
  2. Combine 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in the top of the double boiler. Heat over the simmering water, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add reconstituted egg whites, cream of tartar and pinch of salt. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the mixture is glossy and thick and stands in peaks, 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Remove the top pan from the heat and continue beating for 1 minute more to cool.
  5. Add vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and beat on low just to combine.
  6. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.  I used a tablespoon to place and swirl a large dollop and am pretty happy with those results.   Garnish with sprinkle of cinnamon if you like.  (And I imagine you could avoid having those kind of big blobs I got  of it if you shook a bit out into a small bowl and rubbed it between your fingers to apply.  But who cares, right?  Homemade cinnamon-marshmallow frosting, for goodness sake.  What do they want from me?  Jeez.)

Three Things To Do With … Butternut Squash 2

Posted on September 10, 2009 by crankycheryl

0910091720 The winter squashes are suddenly bright against their crinkly grey dying leaves.  The apples have appeared, bright green Ginger Golds and stout little Paula Reds snug in their white bags at the farmstand.  The tomatoes are collapsing, and the lettuce that hasn’t already bolted is looking decidedly monstrous.

This is definitely the pivot of the harvest season, and time for butternut squash recipes.  I feel bad for these big old workhorses and how they seem to be either neglected or as maligned and sighed over as zucchini.

But they’re so wonderfully healthy and versatile, and have an incredibly long life in the pantry.  A friend of mine pulled one of these out in June from last year’s harvest, and she reports that it was perfect.

You can find – and love! – a use for them  in any meal of the day.  They’re a standby ingredient in breads and muffins and waffles, in oven-roasted vegetable mixes, and can easily replace carrots in carrot cake.

Here are a few of my very favorite ways to enjoy them.  (And don’t forget to rinse, salt, and toast the seeds!)

1.  The startlingly delicious Sesame Almond Vegetable Saute I came across in our local paper a few years ago. I look forward to cool weather vegetables all year so I can make this.

2.  Squash/Pumpkin waffles.  They’re just so awfully good that I can’t help reposting them.  (And the maple-bacon ones aren’t too bad either.)

3.  Ginger-Squash Cake from Bon Appetit a couple years back.  I made this for my birthday that year and really adored it.  I can take or leave white chocolate, but I did like it on this.

And more squash?  Without trying hard, you can stumble across recipes using it in flan and in risotto and in cookies and all sorts of stuff that will make you and your diners happy all through the winter.  Really!

You Put What in Breakfast Cookies? 3

Posted on May 28, 2009 by crankycheryl


Ten years ago I couldn’t imagine a life that necessitated rules like, “You are only allowed to spit outside the house, and pick your nose inside the house.”  And I couldn’t have known that I’d be sneaking healthy food into my children with clever marketing and techniques more appropriate for public relations than running a family.

But all things in life seem to intersect at some point, and I am where I am, feeding wild monkeyboys with whatever I can, trying to interrupt the cereal-pancake cycle of breakfast.  So why not Breakfast Cookies?  After all, the only real difference between a muffin and a cupcake and a cookie is some combination of height, frosting and marketing, no?

So I found this recipe on CD Kitchens (you’ll recognize the picture as mine), and adapted it slightly.  It’s good, certainly healthier than a lot of the stuff we call breakfast food (purple & blue poptart, anyone?), and boy did I feel like a rock star of a mom when I heard the boys bragging that they were eating Cookies For Breakfast.

Banana-Oat Breakfast Cookies
Adapted from CD Kitchen, as submitted by Kasie of Milwaukee
20 cookies

  • 1/2 cup sunflower butter or tahini (the original calls for peanut butter, but using one of these will let you bring them into a nut-free zone)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 c. pureed squash or pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or chopped dried apricots


In a large mixing bowl, beat peanut butter and butter with electric mixer 30 seconds. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla until mixed. Beat in bananas, baking soda and salt.

Mix in flours and flax. Stir in oats and dried fruit. Drop by 1/4-cup measure 4 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Spread to 3-inch rounds.

Bake in 350F oven 15 to 16 minutes, or until edges are browned. Let stand 1 minute. Remove; cool on wire racks. Serve in 24 hours or freeze.

A Surprising Hit 0

Posted on March 26, 2009 by crankycheryl

cardamom-bread-001cardamom-bread-005When it comes to what monkeyboys will and won’t eat, well, I just never know.  The larger one announced a couple weeks back that he no longer likes macaroni and cheese.  Macaroni and cheese!  From a box!

Though I explained that no one in our house is allowed to stop liking anything, he has persisted.  Now there’s no more spaghetti.  Or ketchup.  But cheddar is back on the list, and he did try a sweet potato … though he spit it out.

All of which is why I was surprised to have both the tykes like this one.  You can taste the squash, the cardamom is slightly unusual, and the pine nuts are perceptible.  But it’s a good snack cake: moist, flavorful, not too sweet, and pretty healthy.

Butternut Squash & Cardamom Cake with Pine Nuts

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Whisk together thoroughly:

  • 2 c. whole wheat flour – pastry if you can get it, white whole wheat if not
  • 1 c. unbleached white flour
  • 1/4 c. ground flaxseed
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1 t. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. baking powder

Combine in another bowl:

  • 2/3 milk or soymilk
  • 1 t. vanilla

In a large bowl, beat until creamy:

  • 6 T. unsalted butter


  • 6 T. olive oil

Beat in gradually:

  • 1 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup

Beat in one at a time:

  • 4 eggs

Add the flour in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 parts, beating on low speed or stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Fold in:

  • 1 c. pine nuts
  • 2 c. shredded butternut squash

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Let cool in the pan on a rack, then slice and serve.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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