It’s that time of the week again!
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.
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.”
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…).
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 1 Box Betty Crocker Decadent Swirl Cinnamon Supreme Cake Mix
- 1 cup pumpkin
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp of mini chocolate chips (optional)
- Pour cake mix into bowl, followed by 1 cup pumpkin and 1 cup water. Mix well with spoon.
- Fold in delicious Cinnabon mixture (don’t get too excited because it smells so good and overmix).
- Throw in some mini chocolate chips, if you’re feeling bold.
- 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.
- 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.
Swirled in Cinnabon Cinnamon packet and resisted the urge to go find the nearest Cinnabon store, so I could have an ACTUAL cinnamon roll.
Felt a little sassy, so I swirled in some mini-chocolate chips. BAM! (didn’t measure them, because that’s not how I roll).
Into the oven they went at 350 degrees.
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.
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.
Then, for a cinnamon kick, I sprinkled in about two tbsp of cinnamon-sugar.
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.
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.
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**).
As usual, my first customer was more than satisfied. She used the cupcake to get her through a boring afternoon conference call.
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 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!
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.
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.
Phew, it sure felt good to come back with a hit this week! Everybody loves a comeback right? Pressure’s on for next week…
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???