Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake

This cake was inspired by the amazing Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake that I made at Christmas last year. I've been dying to make another, similar cake.  While looking for something to make for Thanksgiving, I found a lot of pumpkin cakes with cream cheese frosting. So, I thought, I bet that would be amazing with a layer of cheesecake in the middle!

This cake is moist and has the perfect amount of spice. It really goes well with the creamy cheesecake layer and sweet cream cheese frosting, garnished with pecans. I hope you get a chance to try this! 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake
- 2 1/2 bars of cream cheese (20 oz), softened
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest,
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp coarse salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream

Pumpkin Cake:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 4 large eggs
- 1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 tsp nutmeg
- 1/3 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp salt

- 4 tbs butter
- 1 package cream cheese (8 oz)
- 1 lb powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups pecan pieces

Make the cheesecake
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium until fluffy, scraping down side of bowl. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in lemon zest and juice, vanilla extract and salt. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down side of bowl after each addition. Beat in sour cream.

Line the bottom of the cheesecake pan with parchment paper. Pour in filling and bake until just set in center, about 45 minutes. Remove pan and let cool 20 minutes. Run a paring knife around edge; let cool completely. Cover; chill for at least 2 hours. You may also wrap in plastic wrap and freeze if you'd like to assemble the cake another day.

Bake the cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat two 8" round cake pans with cooking spray and dust with flour.  

Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, and oil in a bowl.  Beat with a mixer on  medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add eggs and beat until well blended. Add pumpkin puree and continue to beat until thoroughly blended. 

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl.  Gradually add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture. Beat until well blended.  

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes; then remove from pans and cool completely.  

Make the frosting
Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add powdered sugar and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Assemble the cakePlace bottom layer on cake stand. Apply a thin layer of frosting. Remove cheesecake from freezer or fridge and unwrap. Place cheesecake layer on top of the frosted, bottom layer of the red velvet cake.

If the cheesecake is wider than the cake, and it is necessary to to trim it, use a serrated knife around the edge of the layer. Top with another layer of frosting. Place top layer of cake on top of the cheesecake, and coat with a generous layer of the cream cheese frosting to act as the crumb coat. Be careful not to get any red velvet crumbs in the bowl of frosting!

Refrigerate approximately 30 minutes, then frost with as much of the remaining frosting as necessary.  Garnish sides of cake with pecan pieces.  Keep refrigerated before serving. 

Source: Original Creation, components modified from Beantown Baker and CookingLight

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake on the dessert bar at Thanksgiving!

Ps, if you're not in the mood for pumpkin cake, try the original: Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake, mmmmmm! Perfect for Christmas!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Recap

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and relaxing weekend. We had a really busy couple of days and I really enjoyed spending time with our families and friends. 

We hosted for our families on both sides and had 12 people for dinner on Thanksgiving. All of the food was really delicious and our turkey came out beautifully! I don't have many pictures from the meal because I was super busy preparing everything then eating.  But, here's what our turkey looked like before heading in the oven for 3+  hours.  I really wish I had a picture from afterwards, but oh well!

We had so much food. We started out the day with tons of appetizers. This included: bruschetta, crudite platter, spinach dip, stuffed mushrooms, and snacks.  I was really excited to put the spinach dip inside this super cute "Turkey Bread" from La Farm Bakery! 

For dessert, we had a lot of options too. I made an original cake, Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake. It's a pumpkin cake with a whole layer of cheesecake in the middle. I can't wait to share more pictures and the recipe with you tomorrow!

I had worked on the tablescape for a few days leading up to Thanksgiving, so I had a lot of time to take pictures. I made flower arrangements inside pumpkins, inspired by pictures on Pinterest. 

Then, each person had a unique gourd with their place card on a napkin at their place setting. 

I also added mason jars with flowers, candles and more gourds to the table, to complete the look.

After dinner we even had some time to take some pictures for our Christmas card this year!  I can't wait to send the card out to our friends and family!!

Darcy's ready for Christmas!!!
We had a busy and fun rest of the weekend, but it was great. I hope everyone has a wonderful week this week!  I can't believe it's almost December!! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cabinet Wine Lattice

Remember this project? ...Yeah, the one that we started back in MAY!  Well, it's finally finished and what a relief that is. This wasn't a complicated project, but it was easy to ignore for a while once we were almost done, so that's why it took us so long to finally get it completed.

Of course, we went through many phases and it took hiring some outside help, but at least we're done and can enjoy the finished product now.

First, we removed the doors of the cabinet above the fridge during the cabinet painting prep work. We also removed the divider that was between the doors and the shelf in the middle of the cabinet.  We filled the holes with wood putty and painted this open cabinet as we did the exterior of the rest of the cabinets.

We ordered wine lattice from The Hardware Hut and had it cut to size and installed by a handyman in our area.

Then, I added a small piece of trim to the top to finish everything off. I sanded, caulked, and repainted.  Then, we filled it with all of the wine that we have at the moment.  I'm really enjoying this as it makes our kitchen feel more custom and fits our needs.

FYI, it turns out that wine storage above a refrigerator can be quite controversial and some advise against it.  However, I have checked that the temperature does not fluctuate in this space above the fridge, which could damage the wine stored there. Our fridge vents on the front, below the doors so this is not a problem. Also, we don't plan to store very expensive bottles of wine here, it's more for decorative and casual use.

p.s. Happy 1.5 year anniversary to my wonderful husband, Kevin!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Prep

I hope everyone's getting excited for the upcoming holidays. I know we are.  I've spent the last week or so trying to get everything ready for Thanksgiving. We're hosting at our new house this year for the first time and I'm sure it will be an adventure ;)

We've been doing lots of cleaning, organizing and meal prep.  So far, I have the menu planned out and it's long, but what we have to do looks manageable.  Our families are all helping out and bringing dishes, so it's going to be a great mix of food that everyone loves.

Here's our menu:
Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Stuffed Mushrooms
Crudité Platter
Caramel Corn & Assorted Nuts

Roasted Brined Turkey
Glazed Ham
Green Bean Casserole
Mashed Potatoes
Macaroni & Cheese
Sweet Potato Casserole
Cranberry Salad & Sauce
Croissants & Yeast Rolls

Pumpkin Bars
Pecan Pie
Chocolate Chess Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake

I even put the menu up on our chalkboard in the kitchen for everyone to see.

I've also been working on the tablescape for the tables. I'm going to do centerpieces of pumpkins with flowers in the middle, that look like this:
Doing this for Thanksgiving! Pumpkin centerpieces  Fall centerpiece

I'm also going to have assorted gourds with place cards attached on a napkin in the middle of the plate at each setting, similar to this:
Pumpkin place card

I've already started working on these, I think they'll be really cute. Plus, I love how some of the gourds are so unique!

Tonight I'm going to work on cleaning and more prep for Thursday.  I'm also going to try to get all of my trays, baking dishes, platters, and serveware out to see if there is anything that I need!

I hope everyone has a wonderful, short work week! :)  

Friday, November 11, 2011

Upholstered Chairs

The upholstered chairs for our dining room table finally arrived yesterday. I was so excited to get them out of their packaging and set them up as the head chairs in our dining room. I'm pretty excited about how they look.  The colors are a little off in some of these pictures because it was dark outside when I took these pictures. I'm sure they'll look really great during the day as well.

Our dining room is really starting to come together nicely. I need to do a little more accessorizing and need a few more things for the walls, but it's come a long way! I think the neutral color scheme will be great for this room. It's cohesive with the rest of the rooms downstairs but we can also bring in almost any color for any holiday or season.  I can't wait to decorate for Christmas!! I'm also debating on adding a sideboard, but that will probably have to wait a while because I'm not sure if there will be room and I haven't found one I love yet.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dining Room Curtains

Over the weekend, I made the curtains for the dining room. I had previously ordered the fabric and drapery lining from LS Fabrics in Atlanta. Wow, this was a big project, but it was definitely a rewarding one!

I decided to make back-tab panels because I didn't want the ruched look of rod pocket drapes but I didn't think I had enough skill to make pinch pleats. I made these with a no-sew method and used only Stitch Wichery to hem and bond the fabric together. I may go over some of the seams with the sewing machine in the future, but for now, these drapes look great and are serving their purpose. This is a great way to easily create curtains for your home and the no sew technique works great if they will be dummy panels that you don't intend to pull across the window.

First, I started out by measuring and cutting both of my panels of fabric. I wanted curtains that were 106" long  so I cut pieces of fabric that were 112", allowing 3" hems for the top and bottom.

Then, I used the Stitch Witchery to hem the sides of the fabric panels. I folded over 3/4" down both sides.

 At the bottom and top of the panels, I hemmed about 3" to make the panels the correct length. Be sure to check that your panel is square and your fabric is how you want it at this stage.

At this point, I had hemmed the top, bottom, and sides of the fabric panel. Here's what they looked like laying out on the floor.

I wanted to add a fabric lining to these curtains so they would look more polished and not look flimsy on the wall.  I cut the lining to fit just inside the panel, "sewed" it to the top of the panel and then folded the seams of the fabric over onto the lining, ironing the Stich Wichery to hold it in place.

Then, I hemmed the bottom of the lining so that it laid over top of the hemmed fabric.  

At that point, I was almost done. I then added tabs on the top of the fabric, at the right height, so that I could slide my curtain rod through. I don't have a picture of that, but basically it looks like strips of fabric on the back that the rod slides through.

And, here's the finished product:

Some of these pictures were taken at night, so the lighting and color of the room is a bit off. Here's a daytime picture:

Kevin and I are really happy with the result. It was a lot of work making these curtains, but we think they really look nice in the room. It's also amazing how much bigger the room feels with these floor to ceiling curtains.  They add drama and a point of interest in the room.

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