I would love fall a lot more if it weren't a direct descent into winter. There are just so many things to like about this season -- football, nice temperatures, beautiful colors, pumpkins and, of course, delicious food.

I've mentioned before how I am really not a fan of pumpkin pie. I'd choose cake over pie anyways, but pumpkin pie, in particular, just doesn't do it for me. In fact, if I had the choice of pumpkin pie or no dessert at all, I'd probably choose no dessert (actually, I'd just eat the crust). Pumpkin in any form other than pie? Sign me up. 

This is a perfect, easy pumpkin bread. It is SO moist (there's no getting around using that word in this instance), and it's simple, yet packed with flavor. I bought one of the larger sizes of canned pumpkin, which has allowed me to make/eat this multiple times in the last week. Healthy choices. 
Another great thing about the recipe is that it only uses 2 tablespoons of cream cheese for the frosting, so let's say you buy an 8oz block of cream cheese and a 28-29oz can of pumpkin. You can make this bread 3 times! All of the other ingredients are probably things you have on hand. In a world of expensive baking ingredients, this recipe is a godsend. Just try to block the amount of sugar from your mind, and you'll love every bite.


Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe from Garnish and Glaze

Prep time 
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12 slices
For the Bread:
  • 1¾ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ⅓ cup water
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ¾ - 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease 1 4½" x 8½" loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together. Make a well and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, thoroughly beat together the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, oil, and water. Add to the well of the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Pour batter into greased loaf pan.
  4. Bake for 60-70 minutes but tent a piece of foil over the top half way through (you need to pinch it at the ends so it forms a dome so the bread can rise) to prevent the top from browning too much. Start checking the bread at 50-55 minutes and if it looks too wet on top, take off the foil and finish cooking without it. Cook until toothpick comes out clean. Let the bread cool completely in the pan before removing.
  5. Make the frosting by creaming the frosting ingredients together. Spread on top of bread.

When I was in high school, my friends and I loved Chili's. This was before Durham, NC was quite the foodie town it is today, and before our metabolisms started to slow down. So, eating there sometimes even weekly was perfectly acceptable and normal. We'd all head there and get a big entree each, and then we'd order molten lava cakes...one each of those as well.

I remember being a sophomore and having a group of older girls from our school walk by our table one time (because yes, everybody was at Chili's), and with a look of shock one said something like,"Wow, did you all really order one each?" Up to that point I guess we hadn't considered the fact that maybe some people would split this giant dessert. To us, seven girls meant seven molten lava cakes. It just made sense. Long story short, we didn't let that judgment faze us, and continued to order our individual molten lava cakes for years.

The best thing about molten lava cakes is that you have multiple different elements all coming together at once. The cake is warm, the lava center is hot, and the ice cream is cold. When you cut into the cake with your fork, the heat from the chocolate core starts slightly melting the ice cream and the "lava" and ice cream flow out in chocolatey glory. It's incredible. When consumed following a giant plate of Chicken Crispers it will also send you straight into a food coma, but it's worth it.

I try to eat at local restaurants rather than chains these days (fast food chains not included), but Chili's is one of the few restaurant chains that holds a soft spot in my heart. Since I'm no longer close to one, this homemade version of the molten lava cakes does the trick. I think it's probably even better than the real thing. I debated taking a shortcut and using some leftover hot fudge for the filling, but opted to make the homemade version. If you have time I highly suggest doing this. The recipe as a whole is a breeze, so one step that takes slightly longer is worth it.

For the cake I used Duncan Hines Triple Chocolate Cake. I topped it with Smucker's Chocolate Pretzel Magic Shell, and used just plain store-bought ice cream. I didn't have caramel around for the sauce and didn't feel like making it, but I have no doubt that would take things to a whole new level.


Copycat Chili's Molten Lava Cake
Recipe from Oh, Sweet Basil

  • 1 Duncan Hines Fudge Cake Mix and ingredients
  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Chocolate Shell Ice Cream Topping
  • Caramel Sauce
  • Hot Fudge, recipe follows
  • Hot Fudge
  • 1 Cube Butter, Unsalted (1/2 cup)
  • 1 Cup Evaporated Milk
  • 1 Cup Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Cups Powdered Sugar
  1. Mix the cake mix according to instructions and bake in a Texas size muffin tin according to package instructions. Turn out to cool. (Remember you will be eating these upside down so you'll want them level)*
  2.  Hot Fudge
  3. Melt all of the ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue to boil and stir for two minutes.Remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir for one minute. Allow the fudge sauce to cool.
  4. Once the cupcakes and fudge are cool, use a serrated knife or another sharp knife to level the top of the cupcakes. Once level, turn the cupcakes over and at a slight angle carefully cut a well out of the bottom of each cake. Do not cut all the way through!
  5. Fill the cake with the fudge sauce, wrap in saran wrap and freeze for 1 hr or up to a few days.
  6. Once you are ready to serve, heat each cake in the microwave for 35-45 seconds or until warmed through. Drizzle caramel over the cake and the plate.
  7. Quickly top with vanilla ice cream and pour the chocolate shell topping over the ice cream. Serve IMMEDIATELY. 
*Note: I believe a Texas size muffin tin is just an oversized muffin tin. The only jumbo pan I had made six muffins, which, when using all of the batter, resulted in me having to cut off a lot of cake to make it level. I think this amount of batter would probably make 8-10 cakes, filling each section no more than 3/4 full. When making these again (since that will be happening), I will probably bake up six, wait for those to cool, and then re-use my pan for the remaining batter instead of just pouring it all in the six pan at once!

I'm not a snob when it comes to pizza. I have been happily enjoying greasy pizza for years, and I'm not really sure whether I will ever grow out of it. After all, when you want pizza at 2am you have to make some sacrifices. You may regret those sacrifices in the morning, but quality is never an overriding factor when the pizza craving hits right as you're heading in for the night. I also make homemade pizza a decent amount, and I'll admit that I'm not remotely above using jarred sauce. 

All that said, nothing beats great pizza with fresh ingredients. Using a homemade sauce makes a noticeable difference. The same thing goes for using homemade dough (even if you purchased that homemade dough from the bakery counter or a local pizza place). This sauce has a bold tomato flavor mixed with the perfect blend of spices. It's slightly sweetened with a teaspoon of sugar, and has a little kick from the red pepper flakes. It's well worth the time if you have it. I've also found that eating pizza with homemade sauce and homemade dough reduces the guilt factor you get from eating it by at least half.

I realize I'm talking about pizza and my pictures only show a jar of sauce, which is only part of the equation. You'll have to imagine the sauce on a delicious, cheesy slice of pizza because I didn't take pictures of the one I devoured shortly after making the sauce. But it was good. This recipe makes enough for more than one pizza, and if you keep it stored tightly it will stay good for over a week.


Homemade Pizza Sauce
Recipe Slightly Adapted from
Serves: 2 cups
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoon fresh basil (or 3/4 dried)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  1. Drizzle olive oil into 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent and tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, chopped basil and dried oregano. Cook for about 1 minute to release flavors.
  2. Pour in tomatoes, tomato paste, and add salt, sugar, and black pepper. Stir well to combine. Add fresh oregano. Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring often to prevent any sticking or burning.
  3. Remove from heat and use immediately or allow to cool before storing in an airtight container for up to one week.