Turkey Cupcakes

My nephew Roman loves chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, and these adorable little turkeys are on their way to North Carolina, along with my mom, for his Thanksgiving. I cannot get over how cute they are.

There are plenty of turkey cupcake decorating ideas out there, but I chose the M&M version for ease of completion. You can create their beaks, wattles, and feathers with the same candy, though I recommend buying a larger bag so you have enough for the whole batch. I used several different designs for their feathers, as you can see in the photo below, but I think the stand-up version – where you place the candies vertically instead of pressing them flat into the frosting – yields the best look.

Ingredients

Preparation

Bake cupcakes and allow to cool completely before frosting and decorating.

Make frosting and hand-frost the tops of the cupcakes. Fit a piping bag with a large plain tip and pipe a blob for the face, then pipe additional frosting around the top edge of the cupcake to make it easier to place the candies.

Add candy eyeballs, then use a yellow M&M for the beak, red for the wattle, and the colors of your choice for the feathers. I used two different methods for the feathers; I pressed some directly into the frosting flat, while I stood others up vertically, using the frosting as sort of a bolster. I prefer the second method, as the candies look more feather-like that way.

Store in an airtight container and serve within a few days. The moisture from the cupcakes and frosting will affect the candies after a while.

Makes 13. Below is a look at the flock for Roman!

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Spice Muffins with Pecan Streusel

spice-muffins-with-pecan-streuselHappy Thanksgiving, friends! This holiday offers so much wonderful food, from turkey to pumpkin pie. But what about Thanksgiving breakfast? Shouldn’t it have special food as well? I think these spice muffins, with their crunchy pecan streusel topping, make a wonderful addition to Thanksgiving breakfast.

These muffins are adapted from a standard recipe in the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, which I’ve had for 16 years (and has never, ever failed me). I began with a basic, plain muffin recipe and added cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, as well as a pecan streusel topping. You could opt for walnuts in the streusel if you like, or leave the nuts out altogether if you prefer. Next time, I might also add a spice drizzle icing.

Ingredients

Pecan Streusel

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
  • 4 tablespoons chopped pecans

Spice Muffins

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line one 12-count muffin tin with paper liners; this recipe makes 12 muffins.

In a small bowl, combine streusel ingredients: mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger with a fork. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or two knives) until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans; set streusel aside in a cool place until ready to use.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Make a well in the center.

In a medium bowl, combine egg, milk, and vegetable oil; pour into the well in the dry mixture and stir until just moistened. The batter will be lumpy, but that’s fine – you don’t want to over-mix.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of batter into muffin tins, filing about half full. Top with about 1 tablespoon of streusel mix.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and immediately remove muffins to a wire rack to cool, or serve warm.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Pumpkin Pie

 

 

 

 

 

Why do we eat pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, and not in the middle of July? Because once upon a time, long before supermarkets and canned pumpkin puree, people ate what was available to them in any given season, and pumpkins were available in the fall.

Seasonal eating is another great lesson that can be learned from your local family farm market. Pumpkins, squashes, and apples are great fall foods, as peaches, berries, and corn sweeten the summer. Citrus fruits, like my favorite clementines, are at their best in winter. So while you can procure nearly any fruit or veggie year-round, it won’t necessarily taste as good out of season.

You could certainly roast a pie pumpkin, scrape out its flesh, and use that in your pumpkin pie, but thanks to the good folks at Libby’s pumpkin puree is available year-round. This is a quick and easy recipe that works well for busy holiday times.

Ingredients

  • 1 9-inch pie crust, unbaked
  • 1 16-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 lightly beaten eggs
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup milk*

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a 9-inch pie dish with crust; trim edges and place on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any overflow.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and beat with a fork.

Add eggs and beat lightly until combined.

Slowly add milk and mix well.

Pour filling into prepared pie dish.

Cover the edge of the pie with a guard or foil to prevent over-browning.

Bake for 25 minutes, then uncover the edge and bake another 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.

Cool completely.

*Full disclosure: In my flurry of Thanksgiving preparations, I totally forgot the additional 1/2 cup of milk in this pie. It turned out just fine, but next time, I’ll make sure to use both the evaporated milk and fresh milk!

Turkey Sugar Cut-Outs

 

 

 

 

 

Several Thanksgivings ago, in our tiny kitchen in DC, I made sugar cut-outs in the shape of turkeys, pumpkins, maple leaves, and acorns. Rolling out sugar cookie dough in a galley-style kitchen is next to impossible, but the little dining table we had in our living room worked very well. Decorating sugar cookies is a fun endeavor, and because I had colored sugar that year, I decided to embellish the turkeys so that both toms and hens were on the platter.

When the cookies arrived at Aunt Liz’s house, they were a big hit. My cousin-in-law, Robb, first called the turkeys “anatomically correct,” but we later agreed that “gender specific” was a more appropriate term. Either way, I now make these turkeys every year.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe sugar cut-outs
  • 1 recipe Zella’s icing
  • Brown gel food coloring
  • Miniature chocolate chips, for turkey eyes
  • Colored sugar sprinkles, for tom feathers

Preparation

Bake and cool sugar cut-outs.

Prepare icing; add enough brown food coloring to reach your desired turkey color.

Frost turkeys with a small offset spatula or butter knife, using a swirling motion to make feather patterns.

Press a miniature chocolate chip onto each turkey for the eye.

For the toms: starting on the outside of the feather end, use a teaspoon to sprinkle on a generous amount of colored sugar; repeat with two additional colors. Gently press the sugar into the icing with your finger, then lift the cookie and shake off any excess.

Allow icing to set before storing; store between sheets of parchment or waxed paper.