Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin… I’ve Gone Pumpkin Crazy!

When I’m bored, I bake. And since I’ve been back in Miami this summer, I’ve done a lot of baking. Along comes pumpkin spice season and I think I’ve lost my damn mind.

It started with pumpkin donuts, made with coconut flour. Decent, but the texture of coconut flour bothers me. Too spongy and wettish or something, which in itself is odd because coconut flour absorbs so, so much moisture. You’d think baked goods would be dry. And as you can tell from the picture below, I failed on the glaze.


Moving on to my next project, which was pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds. I discovered those at Trader Joe’s last year and wanted to create my own with a fraction of the sugar by using Splenda brown sugar blend. And no, it doesn’t have aspartame like tons of websites would like you to believe. Sucralose. It’s right there on the label. In fact, I’ve been using both version of Splenda baking blend a lot recently.

Which leads me to my most recent experiments, also inspired by these wonderful gifts from heaven from Trader Joe’s.


Seriously, if you haven’t tried these, go to your nearest TJ’s and pick up a box now. They are tiny and so good and so, so bad for you. So much sugar!! I mean, they’re ice cream sandwiches, so sugar is to be expected. But, I knew I could do better and a bit healthier.

I set out to make my own and dammit, I have conquered this bitch!

The ice cream is an Atkin’s recipe. I modified it some by using Splenda bake mix instead, because I didn’t have Xylitol. I also used 2 teaspoons of my own pumpkin spice mix in place of the spices listed in the recipe, and food coloring to bring out the orange color a big more – 12 drops of yellow and 2 drops of red.

Mmmmmm… Pumpkin ice cream! 🍦🎃

A video posted by Tqwana (@theqissilent416) on Sep 26, 2016 at 2:47pm PDT


Now, the cookies. I found a recipe for chocolate chip cookies using almond flour (yes, I know it’s expensive) that I figured I could also play around with to get those soft, chewy ginger cookies.


I ate about 4 of these once they were completely cooled. I regret nothing.

And bam! Look at these beauties!!

My version of Trader Joe’s pumpkin ginger ice cream thingies. I think I’ll blog this experience tomorrow.

A photo posted by Tqwana (@theqissilent416) on Sep 26, 2016 at 4:04pm PDT


And then I got fancy and decided to roll one in my pumpkin spice pumpkin seeds. I’m a genius, i tell ya.



So, here are all the recipes. Happy baking!

Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground all spice

Mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container. 

Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
2 cups raw pepitas
2 tbsp. Splenda brown sugar bake mix
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (see above)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar free maple syrup (I used Smuckers breakfast syrup)
1 1/2 tbsp. melted unsalted butter

Mix everything together until all the seeds are coated, then spread the seeds on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast at 300° for 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet, then store in an airtight container and try not to eat them all in one sitting.

Chewy Ginger Cookies 
1 1/4 cup of blanched almond flour (don’t get the one with the little brown spots from the skin)
1/2 cup Splenda brown sugar baking blend
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/4 cup Canola oil

Mix everything in a bowl using a fork, which helps to break up the clumps in the almond flour. Start with the dry ingredients, then add the wet. Divide the dough with your hands into 16-18 little balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and press down to flatten slightly. Don’t press down too much, because the cookies will spread on their own. Bake at 350° for 11 minutes. Allow to cool completely on baking sheet. 

***Assemble the ice cream sandwiches by using a cookie scoop. I believe it’s the mid-sized one, #40, which is a little over a tablespoon measurement or 1 1/2 tablespoons. I added the ice cream fresh out of the ice cream maker. Press down only a little, then put the sandwiches in the freezer to firm up before eating. ***


Trying New Things…Making New Memories

I’m still alive! This blog, though, not so much… I promise to do better

FB Memories

So, you know how Facebook has this memory thing going on now? Each day, you get a list of memories – photos, status updates, etc. from that day in previous years. Really, it’s the only reason to go on FB these days if you’re not into memes that you absolutely must like right this second or risk spending eternity in HELL!!!

← This one popped up for me last week, and I REALLY want to do this again, but not just for 30 days. All year. Maybe one new thing a month. Maybe once a week. I dunno.


The problem is, and was, is that despite my mostly reserved nature, I’m a bit adventurous. I’ve done a lot of shit in my time. So, I need ideas. I have a few small ones, like the strawberry-basil lemonade I’m drinking as I write this. Refreshing, if a bit odd.


The Mason jar makes the experience better. And I get 50¢ back if I return it to the bakery where I bought it.


I’ve never been a beer drinker, so in the spirit of Superbowl Sunday, tomorrow I will drink a beer. All of it. No, I’ve never actually done that before. Shocking…

Going to Alaska and Canada in May, though traveling isn’t new for me. The locations are though. And that’s about where I run out of ideas of new things to do. I’m lying, but the rest I will not share publicly.

So, readers (if there are still any of you out there) inspire me, please.

What new things should I do in 2016? If I like it, I’ll add it to my list below. I will not be jumping out of planes or off bridges, so that’s out. Phobias and all… But, I’m game for just about anything else. Nothing that will get me thrown in jail either.

Or I could just say no.

So, hit me with it in the comments. Go!

List of New Things TQ will try in 2016:
  1. Drink a whole beer
  2. Finish this strawberry-basil lemonade
  3.  Canada
  4.  Alaska
  5. See a Broadway show (dammit I WILL win a Hamilton lottery!!)
  6. Painting (thanks, Heather!)
  7. Hiking (which means new hiking shoes!)
  8. Horseback riding (technically I’ve done this, but not the real thing. I was a kid and it was a pony on a leash, walking in a circle)

Yes, You Can Have Too Many Cupcakes #CupcakeCrawl2015


Sometimes I live such a tough life. We have an author event coming up next month at work, and we’ll need lots of cupcakes. The grave responsibility of finding just the right cupcakes fell on my shoulders. It’s a tough job, but I was willing to take one for the team.

I mean, imagine if we served sub-par cupcakes?! The horror!

So, I roped my friends into going on a cupcake crawl. They didn’t protest too much. In case you forgot, this is our second food crawl (we learned our lesson this time about not eating more than one at any restuarant). We really need to do more of these. I think someone suggested chocolate, or wine and cheese, or both for next time. Why are there so many wonderful restaurants in NYC?

Let’s get to the cupcakes….



  1. Molly’s Cupcakes – Salted Butterscotch Caramel
    I had every intention of trying only the mini cupcakes in classic flavors, since that’s what we’d be having for the event. But, salted caramel always calls to me. This cupcake is amazing. Moist, flavorful. Great filling. The frosting wasn’t too sweet. Actually it wasn’t sweet enough for me. But, the rest was so good, it wasn’t an issue. The top bakery of the day and the one we’ll be using for our event. Molly’s also gets points for a whimsical dining area, with swings at the counter, books and games you’re allowed to play with, and a sprinkle station for your cupcakes. Very adorable, fun area for the kid in all of us. Did I mention they won Cupcake Wars on FoodNetwork?
  2. Little Cupcake Bakery – Blue Velvet
    Presentation matters. We eat with our eyes before food even gets to our mouths, so these cupcakes were a bit disappointing from the beginning. This is supposedly a blue velvet cupcake, but there was hardly any blue color. We Southerners do not play about our Red – or blue – velvet cake. And this just didn’t live up to its namesake. I’m not sure it this was a cake or a muffin with frosting. Aside from said really sweet frosting, there was no flavor. I love sweet frosting, but not if it’s being used to cover up tasteless cake.
  3. Sweet Buttons Bakery – Marple Bacon 
    wpid-20151025_140907.jpgI finally had a mini cupcake like I originally intended. From a bakery that wasn’t part of our itinerary, but Sweet Buttons is a cute little place that caught my eye. And yes, that is bacon. Nice, salty smoky bacon. And paired with the maple frosting, it was delicious! The cake was another disappointment. A little on the dry side. Texture was a crumbly also. I’d eat this maple frosting with bacon sprinkles by the bowl-full though.
  4. Sugar Sweet Sunshine – Coconut Mini
    This was our last stop. Unfortunately, we had already reached our sugar limit by the time we got here. Maybe that contributes to why this was my least favorite of the 4. Maybe not. This one felt like something I could’ve done at home with a box mix, and with better results. It was very dry, almost to the point of stale. Nothing special about the frosting either. A completely unforgettable cupcake.

I hate sugar now. I don’t want to see anything sweet for the next two weeks at least. I feel totally drained and sluggish. Sugar is just evil, but so yummy.