Monday, October 24, 2016

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes easy to make Fall or Thanksgiving dessert that everyone loves.  Easily gluten free.  Delicious treat that is a perfect marriage/combination of pumpkin pie and cupcakes.  Yummy!  Alohamora Open a Book

I've been working on this recipe for a good little while now.  The first time, still in the infancy stage, I brought them to a social gathering I had several people ask for the recipe.

Now that I've perfected the recipe... well you all NEED this recipe.  They are that good, and should make an appearance this Fall or on your Thanksgiving dessert table.  

These Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes are the perfect marriage between pumpkin pie and cupcakes.  When I say perfect marriage I mean in taste and texture.  

These cupcakes are amazing.  Seriously, we've made them more times then I can count and my son still gets giddy with excitement each and every time.  To be honest, I'm not even a huge pumpkin pie fan; however, these are different.  I'm a fan of these. 

For my gluten free friends, I've substituted the little flour with gluten free all purpose flour like this Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 flour.  This is the flour I'm using as of late, but I've used a handful of others as well.    

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes easy to make Fall or Thanksgiving dessert that everyone loves.  Easily gluten free.  Delicious treat that is a perfect marriage/combination of pumpkin pie and cupcakes.  Yummy!  Alohamora Open a Book

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes
Recipe: Alohamora slightly adapted CakesCottage
Active Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Time: 20 minutes + cool/chill time. 
Servings: About 15 cupcakes

1 (150z) can pumpkin puree
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs, large
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c. or 1 (6oz) can evaporated milk
2/3 c. flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

1- 1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1-2 Tbsp sugar
pumpkin pie spice


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line 15 cups in a muffin tin with paper or silicone liners. 
  2. In a medium bowl or a stand mixer mix together the pumpkin, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and evaporated milk together until combined. 
  3. Add the dry ingredients (flour and spices) on top of the pumpkin mixture in the order listed and mix until just combined and the batter is smooth. 
  4. Using a large cookie scoop fill the muffin cups with batter.  If you don't have a cookie scoop you can use just a little less than 1/4 of a cup or about 3 tablespoons of batter.
  5. Bake the cupcakes at 325 for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.  My magic number is 20 minutes in the oven.  
  6. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let them cool in the pan for 20-30 minutes.  The cupcakes will sink a little after removing them from the oven, but that is actually what you want.  It is what gives the perfect marriage between cupcake and pumpkin pie. 
  7. Either on a plate, or in the pan chill the cupcakes in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. 
  8. When the cupcakes are almost completely chilled begin making your whipping cream.  You can use store bought whipping cream, but I like to make my own.  It's so easy.  In a stand mixer or bowl with a hand mixture combine the heavy whipping cream and sugar.  The sugar gives the whipping cream a little stability. 
  9. Top each cupcake with whipped cream.  I like to use the Dessert Decorator Pro, but a pastry bag or spoon works as well. Finally, for presentation purposes top each cupcake with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.
  10. Enjoy! For some, especially my kiddos, they can be slightly messy getting out of the liners, but they are still amazing no matter the way they look. 
  11. Store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator. 

Happy Pumpkin Pie Cupcake Easy Making and Delicious Eating!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Three Dark Crowns gets 4 Stars {YA Lit} {Fantasy} {Series}

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake is the first in a new fantasy action thrillers with a strong female lead character.  If you liked Red Queen or Throne of Glass then you should give this fun story a read.  4 out of 5 Stars in my book review of this Young Adult/YA/Teen read that adults can enjoy as well.  Content included as well as spoiler free zone in review. Alohamora Open a Book

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake showed up on my doorstep in September's OwlCrate box. The box was fun from open to close, you can click on the link above for my full review and thoughts. 

My feelings on the book were a little different than the subscription box, and for that reason I give Three Dark Crowns 4 out of 5 stars in my book review.  

I liked the book, I really did.  It was fun, and I am looking forward to the next one in the series.  However, the beginning was not as fun.  Actually, to be honest it was 100+ pages before the pace picked up.  I actually broke my personal rule to quit after 100 pages if it hasn't grabbed me yet.  Though, I did hear from a friend on Instagram that the story got really good so I kept persevering.  I felt the fact that I had to push myself past the slow beginning was enough of a reason to have a less than amazing book rating.  

There was one other aspect of the book that left a sour taste in my mouth.  Mirabella, one of the queens in the story, came across quite kind not wanting to hurt others, but then one moment later she was a full on seducer not being kind or sweet at all but slutty.  Even though Mirabella knew the man she was seducing was involved with someone else she just couldn't "help" herself.  Not cool.  Basically, I felt the writing was a little off to have Mirabella switch back and forth from kind to slutty so quickly without any character development or internal struggle. 

I will say that Three Dark Crowns most definitely does pick up the pace and becomes a fun, unique, and surprising read.  I did thoroughly enjoy it, but I don't want to re-read those first 100 pages.  After the book picked up, I found myself on more then one occasion saying, "Ewww" or "Wow!" or "Really?!"  There were several aspects that surprised me.  

I didn't expect some of the abrupt punishments given by the priestesses.  I didn't always anticipate Pietyr's actions with Katherine, but I am sure, or hope, that I will be more enlightened with the second book.  I was surprised, but maybe should've seen it coming, with where the story took Jules, Joseph, and Arsinoe. I don't want to spoil anything for you.  Just know the action in the story and the surprising storyline made for an exciting read that I would recommend to high school aged kids and up.  

As far as content is concerned there is language throughout the book, but it isn't excessive.  There is no drugs or real violence of any kind, but the story does imply sex a couple of times with no details given.  It's not a dirty book by any means, but Three Dark Crowns isn't squeaky clean either.  

This is a Young Adult (YA) book that can still be enjoyed by adults; it doesn't feel too teeny bopper-ish.  I do think boys could enjoy this story, but it is definitely written with the girl reader in mind.  However, I should probably say readers who loved Throne of Glass, Red Queen, or other fantasy action thrillers with strong female lead characters will most likely enjoy this book.  However, to be fair, I wasn't a huge Red Queen fan, but I still enjoyed Three Dark Crowns

Amazon has the following book description: 

"Fans of acclaimed author Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood will devour her latest novel, a dark and inventive fantasy about three sisters who must fight to the death to become queen. 

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.
The last queen standing gets the crown." 

Are you a fantasy action/thriller kind of reader?  Are you going to check this one out? 

If you don't love fantasy, what is your genre of choice? Contemporary fiction here.  

Happy YA Fantasy Reading!

Don't read any farther if you don't want to read any spoilers.  Just close your eyes and scroll down to the comments.  However, if you have read it... please comment with your thoughts.


For those that have read it...

Did the slow beginning kill you too, or am I just too antsy? 

Did Mirabella's actions with Joseph make you upset?  I was a much bigger Jules and Joseph fan, but that is probably I see myself as more of a Jules rather than a Mirabella.  

Those priestesses are brutal.  Chopping off Elizabeth's hand b/c they thought she had a "hand" in Mirabella running away.  Ewwww is all I could say when I read that.  

I was not a fan of Mirabella constantly throwing herself at Joseph, and Joseph being so weak. Stupid boys sometimes. 

Um, Pietyr throwing Katherine off into the abyss after saying he loves her.  What was that?  Then, how did Katherine show up to Natalia's door later?  I am so intrigued with what all happened and Pietry's reasoning.  Do you think he had a reason for that?  I don't take him for being dumb, but that seemed so foolish.

I feel I should've seen Arsinoe's gift being mis-labeled.  However, Drake did a good job not leading you that way, and therefore really surprising you with that ending.  Though, I feel Kat's gift is probably mislabeled too.  What do you think Katherine is? 

Okay, enough questions.  I'm just trying to have a virtual book club with y'all.  Please join in the fun and conversation. 

Spoiler Free Zone again!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

September OwlCrate Subscription Box- YA Fantasy

I have a 5, 4, and almost 2 year old (day before Halloween), but yet my Young Adult Literature Subscription Box, OwlCrate, is a family affair.  My kids get some of the fun stuff, and we all partake in the excitement of opening it.  If I was a really good mom I'd get a kids subscription box, but I've yet to find one I really love.  

Today, I'm reviewing my September OwlCrate box, it had a Darkness theme which included a dark fantasy ya/teen read.   I thought this box was a lot of fun, but I really do love most of my OwlCrate boxes.  All in all, I've been very happy with my first subscription box service. 

Included in this box were a couple fun and unique items.  I love the Fortune Telling Bath Bomb; you take a bath and eventually you'll have a yes or no question to whatever deep conundrum you may have.  I like that the Da Bomb Bath Fizzers were created by to teenage sisters, and every one of their bath bombs has a surprise inside. What a cool concept. 

If a fortune telling bath bomb wasn't enough of a "spoil yourself" kind of night, this OwlCrate box included an amazingly smelling candle from The Melting Library. These book inspired candles are all hand poured, and the normal candle sizes found on the etsy site has the best library card covers.  They are awesome, and I spotted a couple Harry Potter candles I feel I may need to purchase.  

The book fandom fun didn't stop there with this box.  A cool Miss. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children pouch.  My son was quick to claim that one, and though I really wanted it b/c it was so cool looking I figured this pouch was a better fit from the shiny purple pouch he was "borrowing" from his sister. 

Finally, the book.  Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake was the dark fantasy young adult literature book that came in this box.  Check back tomorrow for my full review of this first in a series book.  I also love that OwlCrate includes a letter from the author and now a book plate sticker with the author's signature.  As well, this book included an old school paper fortune teller as shown in the picture below.  It wasn't until I opened my box and started folding the paper did I remember how they were made.  Man, I made hundreds of these paper fortune tellers in my elementary school days.  

All in all, September's OwlCrate box was another winner.  

If you have any questions about OwlCrate I'm happy to answer them.  This box is something I pay about $35 for myself b/c it is something fun for me.  I like books, and I like the fun things included in the boxes.  

 Rarely as a mom do I ever do things just for me, but this is something I love doing just for me (even though my kids partake in the fun). Now, if you have a teenager, I'd say most of the boxes are geared towards girls) that is a big reader this could make a really fun gift for them.  

If you sign up through my link here we both get a little bonus. 

Happy YA literature fandom and book fun enjoyment!  

Do you do any subscription boxes? 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Homemade Churros {Easy}

ight tools quite simple and painless.  Deep Fry these churros for mini churros or whatever size you desire. breakfast, recipe, dessert, fondue dippers, fun, party food, Alohamora Open a Book

I know Churros are more of a Cinco de Mayo type of party food, but for some reason when I think of Halloween and Fall I think of pumpkins and fried food goodness.  It's probably all of the State Fairs I've been to that have ingrained Fall with fried foods, but I'm not complaining.  It's delicious... and healthy, I know! 

Since, warm and delicious Homemade Churros sound good right about now, but let's be honest they sound good all of the time, I figured you needed this recipe pronto.  

Not too long ago we had a few friends over, made some fondue (slightly adapted this recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe), dunk marshmallows, fruit, and these warm churros in the chocolate fondue.  It was a good night with good friends and delicious food. 

Just so you know, Homemade Churros are far easier to make then I imagined.  They are actually easy to make.  You can totally do it, and you'll love them! 

Churros- Homemade
Recipe: Alohamora slightly adapted from AllRecipes
Active Time: 40 minutes
Inactive Time: 20 minutes
Servings: A lot, but varies on size of churros you make

1 c. water
2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp oil (vegetable, sunflower, etc.)
1 c. flour

For Frying: 
1-2 qts peanut or canola oil 

1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp cinnamon


  1. Over medium heat combine the water, sugar, salt, and oil.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then remove it from the heat.  
  3. Stir in the flour until the dough forms into a soft ball. 
  4. Begin heating the oil to fry the churros.  You want the oil to reach 375 degrees and stay at that level.  Be warned that it will reach 375 degrees and keep heating if you don't turn down the heat, unless you have a fryer that keeps track of all of that for you.  If you are like me using a candy thermometer you will have to watch the temperature for the best frying. 
  5. Fill a pastry bag, or the Dessert Decorator (this is what I used and it was so so easy) with the dough.  I used the 1M tip
  6. Pipe strips of dough into the hot oil and fry until golden, I used tongs to remove the churros from the hot oil.  
  7. Drain the fried churros on paper towels. 
  8. Before serving combine the sugar and cinnamon together, and roll the warm churros in the toppings.  
  9. Enjoy your warm churros plain, or dip them in fondue.  Either way you enjoy them they are delicious. 
  10. Churros are best eaten the same day made, but you can store them in an airtight container and reheat them in the microwave for 8-10 seconds on high.   

Happy Homemade Churros, that are actually easy to make, eating! 


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sisters' Fate gets 4 Stars {Fantasy, Supernatural} {YA} {Cahill Witch Chronicles #3}

Sisters' Fate by Jessica Spotswood is the 3rd and final book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles series.  This YA/Young A

I love finishing a series.  I love staying with characters for more than a book, and seeing the series tie up it's loose ends is satisfying.  

Sisters' Fate by Jessica Spotswood is the third and final book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles.  Born Wicked and Star Cursed were the first two books in the series. 

I gave Sisters' Fate 4 out of 5 Stars in my book review.  I liked the book, and I liked the series. The last book left me on such a cliff hanger (which I personally hate when authors do that, but maybe that is my personality) that I had to flip to the end of the book and find out what happened before reading the rest of the book. I am sure my cheating behavior is frowned upon by some, but I just had to know.  I was afraid of reading the entire book and being mad and/or bitter at the ending, but I like the happy and glad I read it.  If you have read the series you may know exactly why I felt I "had" to sneak to the end. 

Overall, the book is great.  There is a lot of action, and the action is well written for the most part.  I feel a middle school and/or high school girl would enjoy this series.  I think a reluctant reader could enjoy this series as well.

I did not enjoy the predictability of the story; however, only a critical reader will notice that and care about it.  A young adult reader will not bat an eye at the predictability, and they will love the clean romance in the story. 

Amazon had the following book description to entice you more to check this read out: 

"A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment." 

This is a really fun series.  I'm glad I read it, and I will be referring ti to the next girl who wants a fun new read.  

Have you read this fun series?!  Go check it out! 

Happy Fun Reading and Series Enjoying!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Pumpkin Anti-Roll aka Pumpkin Layered Cake

and easy to make. pumpkin, festive, easy for parties, Alohamora Open a Book

Among pumpkin fans I am not sure there is a single person that doesn't love a Pumpkin Roll.  Cream cheese between pumpkin cake goodness is bound to be delicious.  

However, if you have ever made a Roll dessert, than you know that it isn't the easiest thing to make.  Your roll can crack and split on you, and then you end up with a mess of sorts.

This Pumpkin Anti-Roll is for all those that don't like rolling desserts, are tired of their rolls cracking or looking like a hot mess, or just want a different looking but still delicious Pumpkin Roll.  


This recipe goes back 12 years when I was a 5th grade teacher in North Carolina.  A friend from church, who was almost like another grandma, gave me this Pumpkin Roll recipe, and it is honestly the best Pumpkin Roll I've ever had.  So amazing!

Pumpkin Anti-Roll/Roll
Recipe: Alohamora slightly adapted from Sister Hansen
Active Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Time: 10-15 minutes + cooling time
Servings: 10-12

For the Roll
3 eggs, large
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 c. flour 
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 c. walnuts, chopped (optional)

For the Filling:
1 c. powdered sugar
1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
4 Tbsp butter, softened
3/4 tsp vanilla
vanilla ice cream


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray 3 of the layered pans (10x4x.75) with a baking spray or grease and flour them.
  2. In a large bowl, or stand mixer, beat the eggs on high for a minute. 
  3. Gradually add the sugar. 
  4. Add the pumpkin and lemon juice and stir until just combined. 
  5. Add the dry ingredients, in the order listed, on top of the wet ingredients and mix until combined. 
  6. Pour and evenly distribute the batter into the 3 prepared pans.  Top the pans with the walnuts if you so desire. 
  7. Bake the anti-roll cakes at 325 for 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
  8. Cool the cakes on a rack for 10 minutes and then flip the pans over and remove the cake layers from the pans.  Allow the cakes to cool completely before assembling the cake. 
  9. Make the filling anytime you want, but wait to add the filling between the cake layers until the cakes are completely cool. 
  10. To make the filling, mix on medium the four ingredients until smooth. 
  11. Use a spatula to place the filling between the three cake layers.  Top the pumpkin anti-roll with nuts and powdered sugar. 
  12. Enjoy! 
  13. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.  Chilled pumpkin roll is pretty amazing. 
  14. If you would rather make a roll, rather than an anti-roll, line a cookie sheet or jelly/cake roll pan with aluminum foil and spray it with a baking spray or oil it. 
  15. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, top with walnuts if you desire, and bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  You don't want to over bake it. 
  16. Lay a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle it with powdered sugar. 
  17. Turn the cake over onto the prepared towel.  Pull off the aluminum foil and roll the cake in the towel beginning with the wide side.  
  18. Cool the roll on the rack. 
  19. Unroll the cake and fill it using a spatula, then roll it up again.  Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar, cut, and serve.  
  20. You can use ice cream for the pumpkin roll and freeze it. That's delicious as well. 
  21. Enjoy!  

Happy Absolutely Delicious Pumpkin Anti-Roll or Roll, if you are ambitious, eating!  


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Written and Drawn by Henrietta gets 4.5 Stars

Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers this graphic novel toon comic like book is great for teaching and stressing the example of the writing process.  Good for 2nd and 3rd graders.  Book review.. Alohamora Open a Book

"A box of colored pencils is as close as you get to owning a piece of the rainbow." (pg 7) That may have been one of my favorite first lines to start a juvenile/kids book, and Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers is the winner of that accomplishment. 

That line is the beginning of a fun story about how fun creating and writing a story can be.  This graphic novel/comic would be a great resource for teachers especially for second and third graders.  This Toon Book is the third one I've reviewed, and it is my favorite one as of yet.  
Written and Drawn by Henrietta gets 4.5 Stars in my book review. I think the story is fun, and the concept of the girl writing the story is even better.  I love that the book shows the writing process, and that writing can be a lot of fun.  I love the creativity the main character, Henrietta shows in writing her cute story. However, that is probably the teacher side of me coming out. 

Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers this graphic novel toon comic like book is great for teaching and stressing the example of the writing process.  Good for 2nd and 3rd graders.  Book review.. Alohamora Open a Book

The above picture shows the one qualm I have with this book.  I like that the story Henrietta writes uses drawn pictures so you can tell the difference.  However, I think Henrietta's illustrations are too rough and a little frightening looking.  The somewhat scary pictures almost pushed me away from the story, and I am not sure I would have picked this book up on my own b/c of them.  Written and Drawn by Henrietta is great, but if I were to do publish the book again I would've changed Henrietta's drawn pictures.

Amazon has the following book description: 

"Reading books is fun . . . but what about making them? Armed with new colored pencils, Henrietta's ready to try. Peek over her shoulder as she draws the story of a brave young girl, a three-headed monster, and an impossibly wide world of adventure. Whether read aloud to a toddler or discovered by a young reader, Liniers' celebration of the creative process is sure to make everyone want to bring out their pencils." 

If you have a reluctant reader, aka a 2nd or 3rd grader who doesn't enjoy reading or writing for that matter, then give Written and Drawn by Henrietta a check-out.  

Happy Graphic Novel/Comic/Toon Book reading

I received this book from Myrick Marketing in exchange for my review.  All words, thoughts, and opinions are my own.