Half Chinese, Half French, Mimi Thorisson is an Amazing Woman : A Kitchen In France – A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse

france2I love finding new inspiring and artistic cookbooks, the kind that draw you into the person writing it, the books where you can clearly hear their beautiful voice coming through – letting you inside the inner workings of their life, hearing their unique opinions, experiences, and consequently, being taken into part of their heart.

Mimi Thorisson does this exactly, in her cookbook titled, A Kitchen in France, released recently on October 28, 2014.  She is an amazing woman, wife to Icelandic photographer Oddur Thorisson, mother to 6 children (with one on the way), and master creator of a wealth of recipes!

Speaking of recipes, if you love really good food, you need to visit her recipe page of her personal blog – it is mind-blowing and will transform your view on cooking!

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Mimi and her family moved from a small apartment in Paris, to a bigger château out in the serene & breathtaking French countryside and to slow pace of Medoc, France.  She was amazed to find how much she loved just enjoying her children – being there watching them grow up, all the little things like hearing a bird chirping, the slowness of life – and having the time to actually cook.  As a woman who’s worked in the research field while my son was a toddler, it was a constant struggle to find a balance… and part of why I started this blog (other than to vent creatively) was to document my food journey with my son & family.  Things like the decadent Traditional Chocolate Tart – something I couldn’t believe I was able to accomplish – or the homemade (completely from scratch) Eclairs… these things never would’ve happened when I was so busy balancing the working life, deadlines, and goals as well as trying to be a base mom… making sure my son got the basics covered.  I never had to time to relax in a bookstore with my son playing in the children’s section while I read amazing cookbooks or looked at beautiful magazines.

Hearing her voice come out in reading her cookbook (where she talks about things like this) was like giving words to my own, and more than likely many other mothers’, who’d gone from working full time to working from home/stay at home parents.  Hearing her appreciate the simple things was to me, a stark reminder of how Americans parent so differently than the French.

Her life that she reveals in her cookbook was just so interesting.  Growing up with a Chinese father and French mother (and grandmother who cooked for all their holidays spent in France) she lived a life full of gustatory delights from Hong Kong to the bistros of Paris.  Her father and her had a tender, special relationship, much centered around appreciating good food.  She writes about his particular love of food affecting her – being a very picky eater… how he was so patient, and would spend a lot of time trying to get her to try new things or buy very special delights just for her.

I get almost sentimental thinking about their relationship – my father is what I’d consider, a “foodie.”  Ever since I was little he’d take me to the supermarket with him (and he would go to special, out of the way whole foods and organic stores that were 40 miles away from our house at times) and always try to get me to try new foods.  I remember being 4 or 5 and trying my first ever cherry tomato at his urging – I was completely taken, and ever since then I’ve loved a fresh tomato slice on many different things.  He would also buy me special little foods or delights – things that my mother did in her own way, but his was just a different taste than hers.

Some of our favorite times now that I’m a cook and a wife/mother, is when he comes over to our house for dinner, or I bring over baked goodies to my parents house, and we just enjoy the home-cooked/baked food together.

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I love Mimi’s love of the kitchen – I love how she shows that it brings people together… nothing is as important as bringing children and their parents together, and the table (and very good food) provides a wonderful opportunity.

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She has such style.

She has such style.

 

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She has an entire section on Winter foods in her cookbook, it is so inspiring and such a gift to us – check it out at the bookstore, you won’t be sorry!

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Her adorable take on the importance of butter…

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Loving chocolate like I do, I found a recipe in her cookbook on the Chocolate Tart with a special Salted Caramel Sauce!!  Adding it to my list to make this week for Thanksgiving.

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Thank you Mimi, you are incredible.

All pictures taken by Oddur Thorisson

Mimi Thorisson Blog & Website

Swedish Chocolate Cake (Kladdkaka) – Easy & Out of This World – Perfect Holiday Treat

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I like to try ahead anything I’m planning on making to bring for our family holiday celebrations… even though there can be a mischievious element of fun in making your friends and family be the guinea pigs for a new recipe or pie, I truly want to know if I love it.  If I don’t absolutely love a dessert, I won’t eat it nor will I expect anyone else I love to eat it… why waste the precious calories 😉 ?

My motto is…

Eat wonderful, incredibly good foods or wine,

and don’t waste your calories on candy, store bought cookies, or lesser desserts.

 

There is something to be said about a homemade treat for the holidays – but they usually just take so much time that the average working person feels they can’t accomplish it.  The result of this Swedish cake was breathtaking!  The easiness in making it puts it easily above any “chocolate pie” – and is great for the ever-busy mommies or for working families!

You only need 7 ingredients, and you probably have most in your pantry already!

Recipe by Izy Hossack, creator of Top with Cinnamon cookbook (and only 18 years old – wow!):

Swedish Chocolate Cake
Serves 8 to 9

I’m throwing a bold claim in here: this is the best chocolate cake you’ll ever make. It’s wonderfully quick since it’s all melted together in one pot and poured straight into the cake tin. Bake it carefully—keep it gooey! I’ll cry if you over-bake it, OK? It requires no frosting, only a dusting of icing sugar but looks just as impressive as a four-layer cake with buttercream roses… It’ll be gone in a day, though, so don’t make any plans for it any longer than five hours post-bake. No worries though, you can just make another one because it was so darn easy the first time!

135 g (4 ¾ oz or 10 Tbsp) salted butter
55 g (2 oz or ½ cup) cocoa powder
350 g (12 oz or 1¾ cups) granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
110 g (3 ¾ oz or 1 cup, minus 2 Tbsp) plain (all-purpose) flour
3 eggs
2 Tbsp icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line, grease and flour a deep 18 cm (7 in) cake tin.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 20-30 minutes—it should be set around the edges but still gooey in the middle.

Let the cake cool in its tin for about 20 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the inside edge of the tin to loosen it. Turn out onto a wire rack, dust with icing sugar and serve warm.

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A note about her instructions… this isn’t exactly a difficult cake, however it IS a tricky cake.  It’s hard to get it to turn out just right – not too-under-baked, and not over-baked into the consistency of an American brownie.  You are not trying to make brownies 🙂 and you’re not trying to make a molten-lava runny cake either.  It’s tricky because it’s in between. 

I noticed her directions leave out that you need to mix all the dry ingredients together first – fully incorporate the cocoa powder together with the flour, sugar, and salt (I added a pinch of Kosher salt).

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You don’t need to melt the butter in a saucepan, you can easily melt it in the microwave if you wish.

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You DO need to whisk the eggs & combine them together with the melted butter and the vanilla, before combining them altogether with the dry mixture.

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Also, never add vanilla into a dry mixture – always add it into a wet mixture… it just won’t incorporate effectively otherwise.

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When everything is mixed, and you’re ready to combine the wet & dry mixtures, make sure you do not use an electric beater – there is no need and you risk over beating it.  Use a wooden spoon if you have one (or metal) or a spatula will work fine, only stir about 30 times – if you over-stir, the batter will be too hard and stiff.  You want to mix it until its just combined, then pour it into your greased pan.

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A word about baking time:  This will more than likely take longer than 20-30 minutes at 350 F.  For ours, it really wasn’t ready until about 40 minutes of baking.  But unless you’re ok with brownies, you need to be checking every 5-10 minutes after 30 minutes.  45 minutes is too long and gives you regular brownie texture.  But each environment is different and ovens as well, so make sure you keep a watch on it so that it comes out how you want.

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A trick I use… to cool quickly, place on top of ice packs

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Dust with powered sugar!  This picture was when it had been only 20 minutes baked – the edges were firm but the middle inside was still too runny, I popped it back in (checking it every 5-10 minutes) and meant to take it out at 40 total minutes, but got distracted by my little one (life of a mom right??), so it was in for 45 minutes and came out slightly over-baked :/  It looked great and done – just gooey enough at 40 minutes though.

Our delicious, a little over-baked, finished result:

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choclate tarte

If you love chocolate desserts, you have to check out the Traditional Chocolate Tart I made for Christmas last year – it was divine… and it’s still #1 in our family.

It’s incredibly easy, however it takes more steps than the Swedish Chocolate Cake (and of course, is a completely different texture… the Tart is more “mousse-like” instead of gooey cake-like in Kladdkaka), but if you want a truly decadent and elegant dessert that is SURE to impress family and friends, the Traditional Chocolate Tart is the way to go!  I’ll be making it again come December.

The Perfect Autumn Treat: Pumpkin Spice Latte Muffins

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I’ve never fallen into the whole pumpkin spice everything craze before this year, but since we absolutely love homemade baked treats, I decided to do it this year… and we were so grateful we tried this recipe from Pop Sugar !

I made two different batters (splitting the recipe equally): one with the espresso powder (for the Latte Muffins), and one that was simply regular Pumpkin Spice for my 4 year old.  The pictures might be a bit blurry sometimes – our camera wasn’t working and I had to use my phone camera (which is not the best)!

You start with the dry ingredients, the flour, baking soda, and espresso powder if you’re using it.

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The Espresso Powder I used:

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Then you add the special spices that smell like Autumnal Heaven!  Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Cloves – spices I’ve never baked altogether with before, and completely made this process of making the muffins from scratch totally worth it!

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Next you work in a separate bowl with the pumpkin puree

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Add the white and brown sugars and the oil, then use a mixer to make the batter, after the sugar is completely incorporate, add the eggs and mix until smooth

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Add the flour dry mixture into the wet batter slowly, beating until all of it is just combined.

I ended up with the lighter batter for the Regular muffins, and the darker batter for the Latte ones.  The bowl at the top was the streusel topping mixture (minus the dried oats), follow the instructions below or watch the video to see how easy that is to create

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Now you’re ready to fill your muffin cups!

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Add the streusel on top for a bit of sweetness with the spice

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Ingredients

  • For muffins:
    2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
    3 tablespoons espresso powder
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 cup vegetable oil
    4 large eggs

For streusel topping:
1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a cupcake pan with liners.
  2. Make the muffins: In a medium bowl, combine flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Stir, and set aside.
  3. In another bowl with an electric mixer, blend pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and oil; add the eggs, and mix on low.
  4. Add the flour gradually to the mixture, continuing to beat on low until fully incorporated.
  5. Transfer batter to the cupcake liners, filling until 3/4 full.
  6. Make the streusel topping: Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, melted butter, and salt together until well combined.
  7. Top each muffin with a generous portion of streusel mixture. Transfer muffins to the oven, and bake until they are golden brown, about 18-20 minutes.

We love cream cheese frosting, so we decided to make these muffins sweeter and easy to decorate with sprinkles and icing!

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The recipe made 48 muffins!!!!  They were smaller than the 24 shown in the video, so that’s what happened – but the extra was great as we got to share with family and friends, everyone loved them.

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So delicious!

http://www.popsugar.com/psvn/embed?video=32162600&width=728&height=410

The Best Cinnamon Apple Kuchen Cake!

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Growing up I always hated eating apples…  I was sadly, a very picky, spoiled eater.  Thankfully, I’ve outgrown this and now enjoy eating things like raw spinach almost daily, apples, along with a variety or fruits and vegetables I never would’ve otherwise wanted to try.  Cooking (and dabbling a little in baking) is what has broadened my horizons to the tastes of new foods, and this Apple Kuchen, although something I never would’ve eaten before (blame the sweet baked apples on top), is something I’m excitedly glad I tried & loved!

Searching for something new to try for this year’s Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, I stumbled upon this wonderful recipe is from the blog 2 Teaspoons – A Muffin Living in a Cupcake World, and is a quick from-scratch recipe that is ridiculously easy to undertake.  I’d never tried to make a cake from scratch before (baking really isn’t my forte), so it was wonderful to see it actually rise and turn into a delicious, moist, & definitely “cakey” treat – like the best coffee cake texture I’ve ever eaten! 

You can do this too!  Embrace Fall, and all the cinnamony-apple goodness that naturally comes with it! ❤

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Mom’s Apple Kuchen

“A fluffy, sweet, super simple German apple cake – perfect for fresh picked apples!”

Author: Karen’s Mom
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 24

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups Flour
  • 1½ Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Margarine or Butter Softened
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 3 Eggs
  • ½ Cup Milk
  • 2 ½ Pound Bag of Apples (about 10 Medium Apples) Peeled and Sliced
  • Lemon Juice
  • ¾ Cup Brown Sugar + 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ½ Cup Granulated Sugar
  • ½ Cup Chopped Nuts (optional)
  • 1 Cup Confectionary Sugar and Dash of Milk or Premade Frosting
Instructions
  1. Mix the first six ingredients in a large bowl. Press dough into a well greased (or lined with parchment paper) 13 X 9 X 2 jelly roll pan.
  2. Mix the apples with about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon.
  3. Lay the apples in rows on top of the dough. Press the apples into the dough.
  4. In a small bowl combine ¾ cup brown sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ cup granulated sugar and chopped nuts for the topping. Set topping aside.
  5. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven until cakes starts to expand, about 15 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle topping evenly on the cake. Return cake to the oven and bake until lightly golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a cooling rack.
  7. When completely cool drizzle cake with a sugar glaze. This can be made from confectioners sugar and milk or slightly melted frosting.
  8. Enjoy!

(Images belong to 2 Teaspoons)

Summer Afternoons, Shrimp Salad, & Summer Dressings

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There is something so wonderful about getting out and enjoying summer.  It gets extremely hot here in Texas, and since we live 10 minutes away from a great water park, we spend a lot of time in the cool water, and on the “beach.”  We love this set up, and wouldn’t trade it for the world….

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I’ve been trying to find some delicious summer dishes to make that go well with the hot weather: Shrimp salad, Caesar salad, hot dogs made various ways….  Now that my appetite is getting better, I want to eat things that taste like summer….

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Shrimp Salad:

  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp (deveined) cooked or grilled
  • sliced red and yellow tomatoes (to taste for your salad – I usually use two or three if its for just two of us… if I want left overs I’ll use about 5 tomatoes)
  • spinach leaves (enough for how many you’re planning on serving)
  • Diced watermelon
  • Diced cucumber
  • Diced goat feta cheese

Mix all ingredients, serve with shrimp on top.  Dress with something summery and tangy: Cilantro and lime dressing (cilantro chopped up and mixed with one lime’s juice in olive oil, or Asian salad dressing:

  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbs minced ginger root
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbs honey
  • 1/4 cup water

In a 1 pint glass jar or larger, combine the garlic, ginger, olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and water. Cover the jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake well. Remove lid, and heat jar in the microwave for 1 minute just to dissolve the honey. Let cool, and shake well before serving. Store covered in the refrigerator. (from allrecipes.com)

Inspiration

5 Beautiful Things (Blogs)

The online world is so full of endless possibilities, full of multitudes of ideas, recipes, and advice.  Here I bring you my top 5 unique, expressive, and from all over blogs of inspiration.  I hope you truly enjoy them. ❤

1. Judith Jones’ blog: http://judithjonescooks.com/ “The Pleasures of Cooking for One”

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Judith Jones

Most probably recognize who Julia Child is from the movie Julie & Julia that came out in 2009.  Her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” is a wonderful cookbook designed to bring French cooking to the modern American lifestyle.  Judith Jones, her editor, is also a fascinating woman not only credited with rescuing The Diary of Anne Frank from the rejects pile in 1950 (which how amazing is that?!?), but also with discovering Julia Child herself.

At her blog, you can find delightful stories of her past and present (up to 2010), and if you love food and cooking, you will be pleased to see all her thoughts and suggestions on the topic.  It’s a look into the mind of someone quite genius, and I’m glad to share my inspiration with you.

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Judith Jones (left) Julia Child’s cookbook editor and longtime friend

Judith Jones says of Julia:

 She made people see that cooking was fun and sensual.

She made sounds that were delicious. She lifted the hideous Puritanism that had, particularly in New England,

made food uninteresting. Suddenly everybody was “cooking Julia.’’

And then they were exploring the Middle East, China, India . . . she loved it all.

(photo credit and quote from interview with the Boston Globe www.boston.com)

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2. The Spanish Hipster blog:  http://www.spanishhipster.com/

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The Spanish Hipster is a blog I’ve followed for a little over a year now, they write about fantastic restaurants and recipes, City guides with information such as where to find the best Bakeries and Cafes in Paris, the top of the Restaurant scene, and Museums & shopping venues.  The inspiration there is never-ending!

Here’s how they describe their blog themselves:

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Spanish Hipster is our blog that we created, in various forms, four years ago, right about the time that our relationship started. Our name is a bit incongruous given who we are. Jose is the Spaniard.  And according to Jose I, Elise, am the hipster.   It is obvious to anyone that knows us that I am far from a Hipster. Jose did not know what a hipster was and somehow mistook my love of design and the less conventional lifestyle as hipster like.  Little did he know how uncool calling someone a hipster was =)  Somehow this ironic name stuck and Voila.. the Spanish Hipster blog was created.
As Jose mentions below we are not writers or professional chefs we are merely two people that were brought up in two completely different food focused families (one from Maine and the other from Spain) Our love of food was one of the many things that brought us together. In fact our second date was a cooking adventure in Jose’s 3×3 studio kitchen and from then on we used photography to document all our weekends food adventures. ( I was at RISD in Providence, and Jose in NYC) This has since transformed into nicer cameras, and more dinners out.
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3. Cupcakes & Cashmere blog http://cupcakesandcashmere.com/
emily cupcakes&cashmere
Cupcakes & Cashmere is an eclectic blog written by Californian girl, Emily Schuman (above), seeking to “Elevate Everyday Life.”  It is adorable and chic, with topics ranging from food to her wardrobe choices, beauty advice & ideas for hairstyles, and organization & interior design.  Always inspirational, this blog is for anyone who loves beauty & food, luxury & practicality.
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4. Tea Time blog:  http://blogs.vogue.es/teatime/
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Tea Time is written by model Alba Galocha, for Espanol Vogue (Spanish Vogue).  It is written half in Spanish and half in English, which is fun to test your language skills if you studied Spanish in school.  She writes refreshingly honestly about her life as a young model, her travels, includes her own snapshots of the cities and shops around her, along with some of her own very European yet casual fashion choices.
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Something I’ve learnt with modeling and the travelling that it entails is to be alone and to enjoy new experiences alone. Yesterday my roommate told me that she was bored and that there’s nothing to do or see in Milano, I think she’s wrong. To me the city looks like a mixture between Paris, with streets that look like museums, and Lisbon, all dirty and old, as if no one was taking care of the city, this combination makes of Milano a special place to be in and to discover. I thank very much all the tips and addresses that my friends and followers have recommended to me, it makes things a lot easier to know where to go while on my way to different places. I also discover new ones that I will share with you in future post.
alba galocha
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5. Into the Gloss blog:  http://intothegloss.com/
emily weiss
Into the Gloss is a blog wholly dedicated to Beauty (hair, skin, nails, makeup, health), written by Emily Weiss (above) & her team.  It is a completely new kind of blog that interviews models and fashion editors, designers, and celebrities (at least, in the fashion world) alike on their preferences of beauty products or their special, secretive, daily routines… of which they are only too happy to spill the beans!  It’s inspiring to read all the different kinds of approaches to beauty in a world where anything is attainable – it truly opens your mind to the different attitudes, and then corresponds that to the kind of products one would want to use – no matter your budget.
Hope you enjoyed a look into my mind on the top 5 inspiring blogs, let me know in the comment section if there are any that inspire you.

Super Bowl

Our sweet friends are having a huge Super Bowl party at their house today, the wife is 6 months pregnant and a friend of mine for a couple of years now – so I offered to help her clean her house yesterday.  In case you don’t know, when you are 6 months pregnant, you really don’t feel like cleaning anything, and she had the pressure of many many people coming over!  I remember how it was to be pregnant and feel yucky/awful, most of the time… and oh so tired!  I decided she shouldn’t have to do it alone.

I’m excited to say, I’m going to be making some theme related Super Bowl treats for the party later, definitely some cookies with white cream-cheese frosting and sprinkles the colors of the teams (Blue-Orange) & (Blue-Green).

Here are some pictures of ideas – have fun at the parties friends, I know we will ❤ !!!!

queso dip

Easy Cheesy Queso Dip

Ingredients 

1lb ground sausage 2 lbs Velveeta, roughly cubed 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese 1 can of Rotel Tortilla chip for serving
Recipe Source with Instructions
 

And to have a healthier option at the party, Fruit displays:

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(image from Pinterest)
 

Cupcake Themes:

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With adorable direction at Cupcakes & Cashmere

 

 

Magnolia’s Sweet Potato Muffins & Cream Cheese Frosting

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I love cooking & baking, my mom, who also loves to labor in the kitchen, gave me a novelty cookbook for New Year’s, The Show Boat Cookbook (Southern Cooking from the Banks of the Mississippi) by June Jackson.  It is wonderful!  It is not the most healthy of course, but it’s good to have balance in your life with food, as with everything else.  You can always substitute different flours like almond flour instead of the gluten.

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil (use extra virgin olive oil for nutrition)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup orange juice (or milk you’d like)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups sweet potatoes peeled, cooked & mashed
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Sift all dry ingredients except sugar and spices and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream together sugar, cooking oil, butter, eggs, and spices.  Gradually add dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Add orange juice (or milk) and vanilla.  Fold in sweet potatoes and pecans.  Pour into muffin cup-lined muffin tins (should make 2 dozen).  Bake at 325’F for 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve hot & with Cream Cheese frosting on top if you’d like!

Easy Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (fat-free can be used)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Combine the three ingredients and refrigerate before using.

ENJOY!