Study Breaks and Spiced Cakes

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First and foremost Happy Thanks Giving Canada! I was constantly reminded this week of the many blessings I have to be thankful for - my family and friends, my incredible boyfriend, and all of the love and laughter that surrounded me this weekend; as well as the little things that we all take for granted - my education for one, which I am loathing because it's midterm season, but deep down I realize how blessed I am to even have the opportunity to learn, and of course a warm and safe home, containing a very good oven that allows me to bake the delicious goodies below!

I was desperate to make time for a little festive baking to go with Thanks Giving and the lovely autumn color and feel that October has inspired. I was also craving cream cheese icing, actually...if I am being completely honest, it was my cream cheese craving that inspired this post more than anything else, Thanks Giving just happened to come along at the perfect time.

And so did mom's harvest of the garden. The wheel barrel has been over flowing with zucchini, squash, carrots and the works, how could I not incorporate at least one of them into my baking?! Zucchini won the draw so I scooped one up and decided it was the perfect time for a study break.

I took to a cocoa stained Martha booked for this one, finding a recipe that i've had my eye on for awhile, Zucchini Spice Cupcakes.

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Here's what you'll need (makes approx. 24 cupcakes):

3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves

1 pinch of salt

Optional: 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (I omitted these guys)

1 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon of freshly grated lemon zest

2 cups of packed brown sugar

3 cups of grated Zucchini (this was about one Zucchini, I used a food processor for the grating)

Cream Cheese Frosting (makes four cups)

1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature

12 ounces of cream cheese

4 cups of Icing sugar

1 tablespoon of Vanilla

Beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy, add in the icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time until smooth, then add in vanilla. Once complete, lick those beaters!

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And here's what you'll do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cups of a standard muffin tin with paper or foil liners. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk oil and eggs until smooth, add brown sugar then mix in your vanilla, lemon zest and zucchini. Add to the flour mixture, and mix just until combined (do not over mix).

Divide batter evenly among cups about 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, and your kitchen begins to smell like autumnal heaven itself - about 20 minutes.

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Cool for 10 minutes; then slop on as much cream cheese icing as that little cake can hold!

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Best served after turkey leftovers, with a side of pumpkin pie.