A New Spin on Wine and Cheese

Spiced CiderBy now, most of you know that I read Real Simple like the bible, flip through Cooking Light each month, and was an avid fan of Gourmet (RIP). I enjoy cooking and entertaining and — with the holiday season already peeking around the corner — you better believe I am vamping up for some get-togethers. With my next one coming up before Halloween, I decided to take a new spin on the tried and true ‘Wine and Cheese’ soiree.

Among other things, Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cupcakes and Hot Mulled Cider are on the menu. The office sampled the cupcakes as my first go-round and they seemed to be a hit. It would be difficult to get hot cider to the office, not to mention that (unfortunately) spiked cider does not marry itself with work. So, I guess you’ll have to take my word on this one.

Below are two recipes courtesy of Real Simple that are delicious and low fuss, which is key when preparing for guests. I prefer to make my own yellow cake, but maybe save that for when you don’t have to worry about company arriving. Feel free to get creative with garnishes for the cider, like rimming the mugs with the fresh juice from the orange and cinnamon. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes. Hands-On Time: 15m Total Time: 40m

Ingredients
1 18.5-ounce box yellow cake mix (plus the ingredients called for in the package directions)
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

2 8-ounce bars (low-fat) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
24 pieces candy corn, for decoration

Directions
1. Heat oven to 350° F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Prepare the cake mix as directed but with the following change: add the pumpkin pie spice and substitute the can of pumpkin puree for the water called for in the package directions.
2. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool.
3. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Spread on the cupcakes and top each with a piece of candy corn.

Hot Mulled Cider

Ingredients
1 gallon apple cider, preferably freshly pressed which you can purchase at local orchards now!
3 sticks cinnamon, plus additional for garnish
Zest of one orange
8 whole cloves
¼ cup honey

½ cup brandy (not-so-optional)

Directions
1. In a large pot, combine all ingredients and heat on low on the stovetop.
2. Stir occasionally until very warm. Note: The cider can be kept warm on the stovetop all day on the lowest heat setting. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
3. Serve in mugs with cinnamon sticks for garnish.

Posted by Daisy

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Posted By: marketingmarlo

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