Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

From the October 2009 Real Simple (original online), these tasty cupcakes start with a cake mix, but folks will never know they’re not made from scratch!


  • 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 cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 24 pieces candy corn (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Let cool.
  6. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy.
  7. Spread on the cupcakes and top each with a piece of candy corn.

Scary Spiders

A recipe from the October 2009 issue of All You (original online). This no-cook party snack will “transform packaged snack cakes into creepy crawlers.”

IngredientsScary Spiders

  • Chocolate-covered cream-filled snack cakes (such as Ring Dings)
  • Mini chocolate cream-filled snack cakes (such as 100-calorie packs of Hostess chocolate cupcakes)
  • Black licorice laces
  • M&M’s
  • Chocolate and vanilla icing


  1. Use a toothpick to poke eight holes in cake, insert licorice laces into holes and trim ends to desired length.
  2. Attach M&M’s as eyes using dots of icing.
  3. Pipe dots of chocolate icing for pupils and create fangs by piping small bits of vanilla icing.

Blueberry Crumb Cake

A recipe from the April 2010 issue of All You (original online). The article explains, “This lightened-up version of a classic crumb cake can save you almost 200 calories per serving (compared to Starbucks classic coffee cake).”



  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries


  1. Make topping: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Use fingertips to blend until mixture resembles large peas. Refrigerate.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.
  4. Cut a 9-inch circle of parchment; place in pan. Mist with cooking spray.
  5. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  6. In a separate bowl, beat sour cream, butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  7. Add eggs and egg white.
  8. Beat until frothy, about 3 minutes.
  9. Blend in vanilla and yogurt until smooth.
  10. Stir in flour mixture until just combined.
  11. Fold in berries.
  12. Spread batter evenly in pan.
  13. Sprinkle with topping.
  14. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes.
  15. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before turning out of pan.
  16. Peel off parchment and turn cake right-side up on rack to cool. Cut into 12 wedges and serve.

Orange Crush Cake

I’ve read about soda cakes before, but I never tried the recipe until this week. The incredibly simple recipe turned out quite well, and left the family brainstorming combinations to try in the future (see the Variations below). Secretly, this cake does make me wish I had access to Alton Brown for a few minutes so he can tell me why this works.


  • 1 box white or yellow cake mix
  • 1 (12 oz). can Orange Crush, at room temperature
  • Zest of one orange (optional)
  • Icing or topping of your choice


  1. Preheat oven to temperature listed on cake mix box.
  2. Spray 13" x 9" pan with nonstick cooking spray (or follow the instructions on the cake mix box).
  3. When the oven is hot, pour the cake mix into a mixing bowl.
  4. Use a whisk or fork to break up any large clumps.
  5. Stir in orange zest, if desired.
  6. Pour in can of Orange Crush slowly, mixing as you go. If you pour too quickly, the mixture my bubble up and overflow the bowl.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake according to the instructions on the box.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  10. Ice with frosting, spread with whipped cream, or top with a glaze made of confectioner’s sugar and orange juice.
  11. Decorate with orange slices, if desired.


  • For a low calorie version, use diet Orange Crush and top with fat free whipped topping.
  • Mix strawberry soda with strawberry cake mix, and top with sliced strawberries and whipped cream.
  • Combine cherry soda and a chocolate cake mix for a chocolate-covered cherry cake.
  • Try Sprite or 7-Up with a lemon cake mix.
  • Watch for special flavors of Jones Soda, such as D’Peach Mode
    or Bohemian Raspberry, for unique cake options. I’d steer clear of Tofurky & Gravy Soda, but Candy Cane Soda might be interesting. You can often find single bottles of Jones Soda near the supermarket’s deli area or in refrigerator cases at some restaurants and coffee shops.