Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Does anything scream Fall more than pumpkin spice anything?  I think not.

These pumpkin cupcakes are moist and perfectly spiced.  The buttercream frosting is sweet and spicy.

So embrace your inner Basic Bitch and have a cupcake or two.Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

The recipe for the cupcakes comes from Simply Stacie, while the frosting is the Basic Buttercream from Joy the Baker’s 2nd cookbook.

You’ll need:

For the cupcakes (makes 2 dozen) – 

  • 2 2/3 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 eggs

For the frosting –

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 4-6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1-2 tbs milk

To make the cupcakes, start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Set them aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the pumpkin puree, sugars, vegetable oil, and milk.  Add the eggs, one at a time, until well combined.

Little by little, add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until everything is just combined.  Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick, when inserted into the center of the cupcakes, comes out clean.  Allow them to cool for a few minutes in the tin, then remove them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

To make the frosting, add the softened butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat it on medium speed until the butter is soft (~1 minute).

Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, the salt, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until the powdered sugar is incorporated.

Add another 2 cups of the powdered sugar, along with the maple syrup.  Beat on low speed, and add the additional 1-2 cups of sugar as needed to thicken the frosting.  Use the milk to thin it out, if needed.

Once the frosting is as stiff as you’d like it to be, beat it on medium speed for about 4 minutes, or until the frosting is fluffy and smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and enjoy!

I dusted mine with a little bit of cinnamon, but that’s optional.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

Apple Cider Margaritas

These margaritas are a fun twist on a classic and are perfect for Fall.Apple Cider Margaritas | A Nerd Cooks

It’s the first day of Fall, you guys!  Let’s celebrate with some sweet and herb-y margaritas.

Something that I didn’t realize until relatively recently: I actually really like tequila.  Ask friends who have tried my margaritas.  They will tell you that I really love it; I make them suuuper strong.

Until I had seen the recipe for Rosemary Mezcal Apple Cider, it didn’t occur to me that tequila would play nicely with apple cider.  But it really does!
Apple Cider Margaritas | A Nerd Cooks

This cocktail was inspired by the recipe on the blog Kale & Caramel.

You’ll need (makes 2 cocktails):

  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, divided
  • ice, for shaker
  • 4 oz tequila
  • 2 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 tbs agave nectar
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • ice, for glasses

Remove the leaves from 1 sprig of rosemary and add it to the bottom of the cocktail shaker.  Add the remaining ingredients, minus the other two sprigs of rosemary.

Shake vigorously for 15 seconds.  Pour over ice and garnish with remaining rosemary.
Apple Cider Margaritas | A Nerd Cooks

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Cookies

Ever wanted to have loaded banana bread in cookie form?  Look no further!  These cookies are packed with chocolate chips, walnuts, oats, and banana flavor.
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

I had some bananas laying around that were seriously past their prime for just eating outright, but didn’t want to waste them.  I’ve shared banana bread with you before, and wanted to go in a slightly different direction.Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

What’s better than banana bread?  Banana bread cookies.

They’re tender and chewy because of the banana and oats, but loaded with crunch from the walnuts.  Plus there’s the bursts of sweetness from the chocolate chipsChocolate Chip Banana Bread Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

The recipe for these cookies came from Your Cup of Cake.

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1.5 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cups walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and oats.  Set this aside for a moment.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together.  Beat for 2-3 minutes, or until it is light and fluffy.

Add the egg, vanilla extract, and mashed banana.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Once everything is combined, add the dry ingredients little by little.

Being careful not to over mix the dough, add the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Scoop out golf ball-sized balls of dough (I used a cookie scoop) onto the prepared baking sheets. Top with some more chocolate chips, if you’d like.  Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until the edges just begin to turn golden brown.

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Cookies | A Nerd CooksSince these cookies have oats, banana, and chocolate (hello, antioxidants), I feel like these are basically health food.  Cookies for breakfast?  Okay!
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Pumpkin Risotto – Updated

It’s that time of year again!  This risotto is creamy, savory, and delicious.  The slight sweetness of the pumpkin still shines through.  This risotto will put in in an Autumn state of mind.Pumpkin Risotto | A Nerd Cooks

It’s that time of year again!

Love pumpkin?  Ever tried it in a savory dish?  You should!Pumpkin Risotto | A Nerd Cooks

Personally, I love using pumpkin in savory applications.  Yes, of course I enjoy a slice of pumpkin bread as much as the next guy, but it actually makes a really nice flavor base for pasta sauces and risotto!

Plus, look at that gorgeous orange color.  Does it get better than this?

Wait, it does!  It’s ALSO good for you!Pumpkin Risotto | A Nerd Cooks

I originally blogged about this pumpkin risotto 4 long years ago.  It was definitely time for a face lift.

You’ll need:

  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock/broth
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 – 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium pot, heat the broth/stock to a simmer.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, add the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the onion, garlic, and thyme, stirring occasionally.  Cook until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the rice, stirring to coat each grain with the butter and oil.  Stirring fairly constantly, wait until you smell a nutty aroma.  That lets you know that the rice has been toasted a bit.

A couple of ladles at a time, add the warmed broth/stock to the rice.  Stir constantly.  Once the liquid has been absorbed, add another couple of ladles.  More stirring.  Repeat this until most or all of the liquid had been incorporated and absorbed, and the rice has a nice tender bite to it.  I don’t usually end up making use of all 5 cups of broth, so if you don’t either, that’s fine.  Rely on your eyes and occasional bites of the risotto to guide you.

Add the pumpkin puree, stirring to incorporate well.  Add the spices and cheese.  Stir stir stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pumpkin Risotto | A Nerd CooksPumpkin Risotto | A Nerd Cooks

Chewy M&M Cookies

These Chewy M&M Cookies are fun, sweet, and crispy on the edges yet chewy on the inside.Chewy M&M Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

These little beauties were the first treats that I brought in for my new lab.  Hey, just because I’ve relocated doesn’t mean that I’m not still trying to fatten up my coworkers and give them diabetes.

I kid, obviously.  But it does make me happy to share the things that I bake.

They’re a jazzed-up version of a classic chocolate chip cookie: one that has invited oats and M&M candies to the party.  They’re fun, colorful, and sweet.Chewy M&M Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe comes from Your Cup of Cake.

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 1/3 cups M&Ms, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together for 2-3 minutes.  Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla extract, beating until everything is combined well.

Little by little, add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar in the stand mixer.  Mix until the flour mixture is incorporated.

Add the chocolate chips and 1 cup of the M&Ms to the dough, and mix until they are distributed throughout.

Drop golfball-sized balls of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets.  Gently push a few M&Ms into the tops of the dough balls, so that when they bake up, they will look pretty and professional.

You can bake the cookies straight off, or chill the dough balls for a half an hour or so.  Often, I can’t be bothered with chilling cookie dough.  However, in this case, I’d really recommend it.  They tend to spread out a lot if you don’t chill the dough.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on how brown you’d like them to be.

Chewy M&M Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Churro Waffles

Question: What’s better than waffles?

Well, not much is better than waffles, but humor me.

Churro Waffles | A Nerd Cooks


Churro Waffles | A Nerd Cooks

You know churros: the fried dough pastry that’s often coated in cinnamon and sugar.

The cinnamon sugar coating gives a slight crunch to these tender, cinnamon-y waffles.Churro Waffles | A Nerd Cooks

I drizzled these waffles with just a bit of maple syrup.  They’d be great with a chocolate sauce, too.  I love how that bit of syrup looks, pooling on the napkin.

These churro waffles are a jazzed up version of my Classic Waffle recipe.

You’ll need (makes 4 large waffles):

For the waffles – 

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tbs sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 egg whites, beaten until stiff

For the churro topping (you likely won’t use all of this up) –

  • 2 tbs butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cinnamon together.  Set aside.

Add the milk, egg yolks, vegetable oil, and vanilla to a large measuring cup.  Whisk to combine.  Pour the liquid into the flour mixture.  Whisk until just combined.  The batter will be lumpy.

Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter.  The batter will still be lumpy.  This is still okay.

Pour batter into your waffle maker and cook until they reach the desired color.

While the waffles are cooking, mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

Immediately after removing the waffles from the waffle maker, brush one side with melted butter.  Sprinkle the buttered side liberally with the sugar-cinnamon mixture.

Churro Waffles | A Nerd Cooks

Churro Waffles | A Nerd CooksChurro Waffles | A Nerd Cooks

As I mentioned before, this post is part of Waffle Week 2015!

A group of really talented bloggers, rallied by the lovely Kim from Feed Me, Seymour, have come together to share a bunch of delicious waffle recipes with you all.

Do yourselves a favor and check out everyone else’s amazing recipes!

#WaffleWeek2015 Hosted by Kim @ Feed Me, Seymour




Dessert Dish-affles

Coconut Mojitos

These mojitos are slightly sweet and perfectly refreshing.Coconut Mojitos | A Nerd Cooks

Guys, it’s hot in Durham.  Very hot.  Very sweaty.  Weather like this necessitates refreshing beverages.

I’ve recently begun a love affair with La Croix sparkling water.  Though I really like many of the flavors, coconut has emerged as my favorite.  Since first trying it, I’ve suspected that it would be fantastic as part of a cocktail.Coconut Mojitos | A Nerd Cooks

I saw these coconut mojitos on 5 O’Clock Fashionistas, and thought that they looked pretty great.  I took mine in a bit of a different direction, though.Coconut Mojitos | A Nerd Cooks

You’ll need:

  • 2 tsp simple syrup
  • 5-8 fresh mint leaves (crushed between your fingers), plus a few more for garnish (not crushed)
  • 1 shot coconut rum (or white rum)
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • Coconut La Croix soda

Add the simple syrup, mint leaves, rum, and lime juice to the bottom of a tall glass.  Add  ice and top with Coconut La Croix.  Garnish with more mint leaves and enjoy!

Coconut Mojitos | A Nerd Cooks

Still thirsty??

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