Cupcake Monday: Hoppin’ on the Pumpkin Train

It’s that time of the week again!

Hmmmm...what lies inside these delicious-looking treats? Read on...

Cupcake Monday!

As you may recall from last week’s post, I’ve decided to implement a new theme day that will benefit both my coworkers and myself: Cupcake Monday! This theme day is based on the belief that, just as we celebrate with a treat for making it through the week on Fridays, we also need a little something sweet to kick off the week on Mondays! And, nothing brings smiles and cheer like a good ol’ fashioned cupcake.

Now, THAT's a Cupcake Monday smile from Michelleh...probably because I didn't bake these!

But, to help people start off their weeks in a “semi-healthy” way, I’m trying my best to keep these cupcakes relatively healthy. Last week, I tried to make healthified stuffed cupcakes, and while they didn’t look so pretty, my coworkers  were willing to look past their appearance and give them a shot. The reviews were less than stellar, but as I say (way too often), “You can’t hit homeruns EVERY time.”

The Boston Cream Cupcakes gone astray...These were NOT sexy cupcakes.

Thankfully, this week, I rebounded with what one coworker claimed “might have been the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten.” (not that I like to brag)

This week, I wasn’t interested in fillings (if it’s broke, don’t try to fix it right away…).

Pumpkin-tember

This week, it was ALL about the pumpkin. Ahhh…pumpkin. It seems the moment September strikes, we can’t go anywhere without seeing pumpkin something. From lattes to muffins and soup, pumpkin is without-a-doubt the flavor of the fall. I always feel like it’s a good way to soften the blow of summer being officially over: “Oh it’s okay, at least we have football and pumpkin spice lattes.”

The only reason we welcome fall...

Personally, I eat pumpkin year-round, and I prefer fall to summer anyway. I like the fact that my subway rides are no longer an embarrassing game of “hide the sweat dripping from my forehead” and I can sleep in as long as I want on the weekends without sacrificing prime-time running weather. Oh, and being from Nebraska, I obviously appreciate the football and tailgates as well.

In short – I heart fall, even without the pumpkin.

But…the pumpkin makes it even better. So, for this week’s cupcake Monday, I decided to jump on the pumpkin train. I actually feel like I’m a little late to the game, because I’ve probably seen about 50 recipes in the past few weeks.

But, as they always say (especially in NY), better late than never.

Grocery Shopping Inspiration

I knew I wanted to go pumpkin, but I didn’t know where to go from there. I wanted something a bit different than the usual pumpkin recipe, but still easy, idiot-proof and Sometimes Healthy-friendly.

That’s when I saw this gem of a cake mix.

Cake mix photography is an art...I was sucked in.

Betty Crocker’s Cinnamon Swirl Cake mix. The description on the box was enough to make me drool right there in the grocery aisle (how embarrassing!). “Moist golden cake infused with aromatic Cinnabon® cinnamon!”

Immediately, I was inspired! So, I threw it in my cart along with a few other secret ingredients and stowed everything away to bake on Sunday (so they’d be fresh for Monday).

Baking and a Pity Party

It was a beautiful fall weekend here in the Apple. The kind of weekend we’ll all be dreaming about 8 weeks from now when the first snowstorm hits and we’re slipping around like new-born puppies in our Hunter boots. So, once again, I got ahead of myself and decided to go for a long run on Sunday…even though I was specifically instructed not to run long distances for a while.

It was a fairytale fall day that could only be properly celebrated with a long run...

4 miles into it, I remembered why I wasn’t supposed to run long distances: my foot and body just aren’t ready yet.

Note to Sometimes Healthy Self: You do not know better than certified professionals and doctors.

Discouraged, defeated and dramatic (per usual), I cabbed it back to my apartment, plopped on the couch and proceeded to watch One Tree Hill Breakfast in Bed on SoapNet while simultaneously giving myself a pity party, complete with a can of Reddi Whip and a side of hot chocolate.

Oh yeahhhh. Rough day, better triple the Reddi Whip. I think that's my thumb...apparently I wanted a taste?

But, thankfully, the idea of smelling pumpkin in my apartment was enough to get me off my butt and into the kitchen…which is two inches away from the couch…baby steps.

Check out this complicated recipe.

These babies are sure to make your the most popular girl in your office.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Cupcakes

The perfect way to kick off “pumpkin season,” these semi-healthy goodies taste like pumpkin cupcakes and cinnamon rolled all-in-one. But, guess what?They’re not nearly as fattening. Oh, and also, they’re so easy to make, they’re the perfect back-to-school treat to whip up with your children and/or incompetent significant other. Just think, when you tell the teachers, “She made them all by herself,” you’ll actually mean it. Yes, my recipes are so easy a two-year-old can do them (or a baking-averse male). You’re welcome.

Prep Time: 4 minutes (unless you count grocery shopping)

Cook Time: 35 – 40 minutes

Ingredients(12 muffins):

  • 1 Box Betty Crocker Decadent Swirl Cinnamon Supreme Cake Mix
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp of mini chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions

  1. Pour cake mix into bowl, followed by 1 cup pumpkin and 1 cup water. Mix well with spoon.
  2. Fold in delicious Cinnabon mixture (don’t get too excited because it smells so good and overmix).
  3. Throw in some mini chocolate chips, if you’re feeling bold.
  4. Pour batter into 12 muffin tins that either have liners or have been sprayed with lots of PAM. There should be enough batter for about 13 cupcakes, so save the last one for a bowl lickin’. There are no raw eggs – go wild.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350, allow to cool for a few minutes before either frosting or packing away for dangerous subway commute.

Here’s how it went down in my Sometimes Healthy Kitchen:

Mixed 1 cup of pumpkin + 1 cup water with delicious Cinnamon Cake mix.

Yes, it is true - it's just pumpkin, water and mix. It's THAT easy.

Swirled in Cinnabon Cinnamon packet and resisted the urge to go find the nearest Cinnabon store, so I could have an ACTUAL cinnamon roll.

The little magical crystals that you taste in those sinful Cinnabons. All the taste with less guilt.

Felt a little sassy, so I swirled in some mini-chocolate chips. BAM! (didn’t measure them, because that’s not how I roll).

BAM with those chocolate chips. Sometimes you gotta' get get impulsive in the kitchen.

Into the oven they went at 350 degrees.

Into the tins and into the oven. Doesn't get much easier than this.

And, while they baked, instead of watching Gilmore Girls (which comes after One Tree Hill and Beverly Hills 90210 in SoapNet’s “I can’t believe I’m watching this unbelievably cheesy show AGAIN” Sunday chick-hit marathons), I got to work on a little bit of homemade frosting.

Yes…homemade frosting.

Big step for this Sometimes Healthy Girl who gets visibly nervous when a recipe has more than 3 steps or requires a kitchen power tool.

Having already experienced one mini-failure with the long-run gone bad, I decided that making homemade frosting would cancel out any speed bumps from earlier in the day.

I dusted off my hand mixer and combined 8 oz fat free (YES fat free) cream cheese with 1 cup of powdered powdered sugar.

Proof that I used power tools in the kitchen. I'm a REAL grown woman now!

Then, for a cinnamon kick, I sprinkled in about two tbsp of cinnamon-sugar.

Real...homemade frosting. I am amazing.

And, BAM, after about 2 minutes of mixing, I had some semblance of a cream cheese frosting. It wasn’t perfect, but it sure tasted good.

Commuting Woes

Once again, my gym bag doubled as a cupcake carrier today…but this time homemade cinnamon-sugar cream cheese frosting replaced the can of buttercream from last week. I still couldn’t frost the cupcakes beforehand, because then all I would have had was 12 cupcakes and some tinfoil covered in frosting.

So, I threw the frosting into some tupperware and decided to frost the cupcakes “onsite.” Isn’t that what the pros do anyway?

My coworkers thought this frosting process was pretty entertaining, so they took some pictures…I think they were actually just pretending to be interested in watching me frost the cupcakes, so that they could have first dibs on the biggest cupcake.

Quiet PLEASE, Quiet PLEASE, there is a woman at work here! I cannot focus with all the paparazzi!

Note the addition of a “semi-healthy” topping: dark chocolate-covered raisins (dark chocolate is healthy, riight?) I had planned to adorn each cupcake with one raisin but my cube buddy informed me that one chocolate raisin looked like…something else that is brown and oddly shaped (In case you can’t read between the lines, I’m talking about shi**).

The masterpiece is complete!

As usual, my first customer was more than satisfied. She used the cupcake to get her through a boring afternoon conference call.

Her conference call just got a whole lot sweeter!

I sent out an email to the office, because I have received some “complaints” that the other side of the office usually misses out on my treats.

And within about 30 minutes, even splitting the cupcakes in half, they were ALL gone.

Whoa, this was quite the 360 from last week’s cupcake stuffing disaster!

Lindsay stopped by to sample my latest treat, and per usual ended up staying at my desk for an extra 20 minutes to talk about running, blogging, injury recovery and all of our other fave topics.

Oh hello, you little running machine! She needed these to fuel her run ;-)

Oh and of course our excitement around tomorrow 16 Handles meet-up to wish Christine farewell. Lindsay is considering a fro-yo strategy to ensure that both her sweet and savory tastebuds are satisfied. I think it’s pure brilliance…stay tuned.

Just like last week’s testimonials, I decided to keep track of the cupcake comments as they came in. These are all truthful, promise:

  • This tastes just like a pumpkin spiced latte in a cupcake.
  • Way to kick off the season!
  • Jamie, this is my fave cupcake of yours yet.
  • They’re so…moist. Usually lowfat means dry and tasteless…how are these so moist? It’s amazing!
  • This is the perfect taste of fall.
  • This might be the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten in my life (I might be biased because I’m starved, and I love pumpkin, but that’s okay).
  • Thank you for supporting my anti-diet!

The crowd just kept on a comin'!

I even had to turn away customers, especially when they saw there was one lone soldier hidden next to my computer. I kept it close to ensure no one took it -it was for someone special.

None other than one of my favorite people in a company full of favorite people. She resides in our LA office and comes to town every month or so on business. Each time I bake treats, she misses out. So, I promised I’d save her one this time around.

I just swam 2.4-miles biked 112-miles and ran a marathon...without stopping. Okay, I guess I'll eat a cupcake.

Oh…and she just completed her first IRON MAN last week. No big deal. I’d say that feat earned her cupcake priority status. After she finished it, she licked her lips and said, “Wow, if only I’d had this for breakfast the morning of my Iron Man, I’d surely have shaved an hour off my time.”

JUST KIDDING. She finished the Iron Man extremely fast without the pumpkin cupcakes, and they were good, but let’s not go overboard!

So, overall, whereas last Cupcake Monday was fun because we all had a good laugh over how interesting the cupcakes tasted, this time around, it was even better, because there was a unanimous consensus that they tasted DELICIOUS.

SOLD OUT! Come back next week, folks!

Phew, it sure felt good to come back with a hit this week! Everybody loves a comeback right? Pressure’s on for next week…

Question:

What’s your favorite fall flavor OTHER than pumpkin?

Okay, fine, let’s talk pumpkin. What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe?

Suggestions for next week’s Cupcake Monday???

16 Thoughts on “Cupcake Monday: Hoppin’ on the Pumpkin Train

  1. LOL. This was amazing. It had me laughing out loud and reaching for dark chocolate and graham crackers (to eat together. Poor girl’s cupcake replacement.) Call me a space cadet, but I didn’t realize that cupcake Monday meant you bring your coworkers cupcakes EVERY Monday! They are so, so lucky.

    I have no pumpkin recipes yet, but i promise that will change after this weekend! I will be buying my first can of pumpkin and making something delicious. Probably pancakes.

    I vote for carrot cake for next Monday! You already have the icing down :) If that’s too similar to pumpkin, then funfetti. It’s a crowd pleaser and easy-peasy.

  2. I looooove pumpkin dip…can’t wait to make some soon!

  3. Oh my gosh, those sound amazing!! I love pumpkin! I just made a pumpkin black bean soup courtesy of Courtney at Sweet Tooth Sweet Life, and I’ve been rocking a chocolate and vanilla pumpkin protein smoothie for b-fast the past two days- delish! I also tend to thoroughly enjoy pumpkin in baked goods :D.

  4. Wow these sound good! Another fall flavor that I love is cinnamon! mmm. You should make a coffee-cake cinnamon streusel cupcake!

  5. those. look. amazing. pumpkin everything please!

    i’m so glad you were able to come last night! you & lindsay were definitely the froyo champs. sending you an email with about 30 questions regarding chicago :-)

  6. WHY don’t you work at my office?!?

    And how fun that Lindsay works with you! I had no idea. Very envious that there’s a fellow runner/blogger in your office with you. I’m changing jobs!

    • These cupcakes look duehgitfll and smell amazing my mouth is watering now just at the thought! We visited Magnolia Bakery in New York City last year and we had to queue I can honestly say that cupcakes from Cupcakes To Your Door taste and look much yummier! and they are delivered to your door, right here in Norfolk, and with a smile!We ordered some for my daughters 18th birthday and we were all delighted with them. I will not be waiting for her next birthday before I order some more

  7. wow, you are amazing. I would like a pumpkin cupcake or 12 every Monday. I also like nutmeg as a fall flavor – does that count? Or apple-tasting things. But really it’s pumpkin, FTW. I love making pumpkin bread with a TON of chocolate chips.

  8. After a bit of a hiatus from the real world, I am so happy to be back to reading your blog… and it definitely helps that the first post I read was on your amazing cupcakes!! I LOVE pumpkin and adding chocolate chips was just pure genius :) Looking forward to reading daily!!

  9. Great idea!! I love recipes using cake mixes. There are so many great combinations! Since I am currently obsessed with everything pumpkin, I will definitely have to try these! Thanks for the idea!

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