Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Can Of Pumpkin

Are you tired of pumpkin yet? How 'bout one more recipe? I was supposed to share this pumpkin cheesecake with you all last Sunday for The Cake Slice Bakers, but I waited to make this for Thanksgiving so I'm just now getting to it. I hope you'll forgive my tardiness!

When I moved out on my own into my first apartment (in 2000) I scoured my mom's pantry for canned goods and staples to take along with me. Part of my stash included a can of pumpkin puree. I didn't bake much back then but my mom wasn't going to use it, so I figured 'why not?'. Well 3 years later, Mister H and I got a place together and the can of unused pumpkin came along with us.

Fast forward to November 2005 and we are newlyweds and living in our new house! We decided that we wanted to host our first Thanksgiving in our home for all of our family- 16 in total. I prepped, chopped, basted, baked and mixed in preparation for that day. At 10 pm Thanksgiving Eve I brought out my trusty can of pumpkin puree in order to make a homemade pumpkin pie. I opened the can and the puree had turned army green! It was disgusting and hilarious at the same time. I promptly sent my hubby along with my Dad, who had come in town for the holiday, to the grocery store for a couple more fresh cans. They saved the day and I learned my lesson- canned pumpkin doesn't last through 3 moves. ha!

And in case you're wondering, I used a fresh can of pumpkin for this cheesecake. You can tell because my cheesecake is autumn hued and not mossy green. :-) It was creamy and fluffy, a little spicy and pumpkin-y, but not overwhelmingly so. I decided to make my own crust because the original called for ground pecans (which my cousin is allergic to) and crystallized ginger (which I don't like). I opted for a buttery oatmeal cookie crust with cinnamon in lieu of graham crackers and it was delicious. I garnished my cake with toasted pumpkin seeds and sweetened whipped cream. I tasted it at room temperature, but it was best eaten cold right out of the fridge. If you're not totally over pumpkin, I hope you'll give this a try.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with an Oatmeal Cookie Crust recipes from The Cake Book and Monica h

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For the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground oatmeal cookie crumbs (about 12 cookies or half of a 12.5 ounce package of Mother's Oatmeal Cookies)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 pounds (20 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 large eggs

For the Crust: Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 9x3 inch springform pan with baking spray. Cut an 18 inch square of heavy duty aluminum foil and wrap the foil around the outside of the pan. Set aside.

Place cookies in the bowl of a food processor and pulse cookies until they're finely ground.

Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl along with ground cinnamon and mix together. Add melted butter to crumbs and mix til all the crumbs are well coated.

Press crumb mixture into an even layer over the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until crust turns golden brown.

Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

For the Filling: Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees F.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt until well combined.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as necessary.

Gradually add the sugars and beat until blended.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.

Add the pumpkin mixture and mix until blended. Then add the cornstarch and mix until just combined.

Pour the batter into the cooled crust.

Place the pan in a large roasting pan. Fill the pan with enough water to reach 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake in the water bath for 70 to 80 minutes, or until the center of the cake is set but slightly wobbly (the cake will set completely as it cools).

Remove the cake pan from the water bath. Place the pan on a wire rack. Carefully remove the foil from the pan.

Immediately run the tip of a paring knife around the sides of the pan, to prevent the top of the cheesecake from cracking.

Let the cake cool completely then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and whipped cream.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

Creamy pumpkin layered with maple soaked graham crackers and whipped cream, topped with buttery maple pecans. Yes please! A few weeks ago I hosted a Pampered Chef party with a few friends and close family. We fooled around in the kitchen, played with our food and ate this maple pumpkin trifle for dessert while flipping through catalogs. This trifle was simple to put together and would be a nice and different addition to your Thanksgiving meal, if you're still looking for a special dessert. It can be assembled the night before or even the morning of the big day, if you can find time to put this together :-)

As the family baker, Thanksgiving is a fun time for me. I love that I can bake anything and multiple things and it all goes. This year I'm making a pumpkin cheesecake, chocolate chip pecan pies and an apple cake with brown sugar glaze. My sister is making pumpkin crunch cake and my aunt is making not yo mama's banana pudding. We will be eating well and finishing it off with sweets galore. We are not doing without and we are extremely thankful for our bounty. Now I want to know what YOU are baking up for turkey day?

Pumpkin Maple Trifle adapted from Pampered Chef via Jolts & Jollies

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  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 box (14.4 ounces) whole graham crackers
  • 1 package (3.4 ounce) cheesecake instant pudding
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 container (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed or equal amounts of whipped cream

Make the maple pecans: Combine butter and 3 Tablespoons maple syrup in a saucepan. Cook on medium heat until butter melts. Add nuts and stir constantly about 5-7 minutes or until pecans are evenly toasted. Place on parchment paper and allow to cool.

Break up graham crackers and place in a large mixing bowl.

Pour 1/2 cup of maple syrup into a microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 60 seconds. Pour syrup over graham crackers and toss to evenly coat. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together pudding mix and milk until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and cinnamon. Mix to combine. Fold in 2 cups of whipped topping or whipped cream until there are no more white streaks. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining whipped topping and remaining 3 Tablespoons maple syrup and fold until well blended.

Fill a decorator bag with 2/3 cup of the maple cream and set aside.

Assemble trifle: Place 1/3 graham crackers evenly in the bottom of a trifle bowl. Top graham cracker layer evenly with 1/2 the pumpkin filling. Top with 1/3 graham crackers. Top with remaining maple cream. Top with final 1/3 graham crackers. Top with remaining pumpkin filling. Break up maple nuts. Decorate the top of the trifle with the decorator bag of maple cream and the maple walnuts.

Refrigerate trifle for 4 hours or overnight.

I'm grateful and thankful for many things this year. But 2011 is different since we were blessed by the birth of Hayden. We prayed, hoped and waited for him for 6 years and lost 2 beautiful sons in the process. Hayden will never replace his angel brothers, Sam and Jack, but he more than makes up for the heartache and countless tears we shed along the way. I love him more than I ever thought possible.

What are you especially grateful for this year?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pie and A Friendly Armadillo

I don't have a lot of time these days to get on the computer but I often have my iPhone by my side to play games, text, send family and friends pictures of Hayden and to check my email. For the past few years I've subscribed to the daily holiday emails from Better Homes and Gardens. This year they started posting slideshows to accompany their recipes and this particular pie caught my eye. Hey that rhymes!

The only thing is, since my time is limited in the kitchen, recipes have to be simple and quick. This pie was both. And Mr. H even got in the kitchen with me and helped! He mixed up the filling while I made the pie crust. This pie was in the oven within minutes. A short time later, it was smelling quite delicious, nutty with a hint of coffee liquor. Yes, there's Kahlua in this pie and it was a nice change from the ordinary pecan pie. I've added Bourbon to my pecan pies before but I never thought of adding Kahlua before. I quite liked the combination of pecans, chocolate, and coffee notes. Mr. H liked it because it was not as gooey as most pecan pies, which meant that it cut nicely and was sturdier. If you're not a fan of sticky and gooey, than you might like this pie.

On to the armadillo part of this post. haha! That's an odd combination- pie and armadillos. You see, we have a pet armadillo. Well not really. It's not a pet, but it is taking up residence under our shed and we welcome it because it's eating grub worms in the yard and Autumn likes to chase it around the yard. She's quite entertained by him. This past week, Maranda and her daughter (Little Butt) came over. LB wanted to see the armadillo and hoped he was purple because that's her favorite color. Unfortunately, the armadillo didn't make an appearance while they visited, but I promised her I'd share pictures on here for her. I hope you like our little friend!

Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie with Kahlua slightly adapted from BHG

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For the Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 4 - 5 tablespoons ice cold water

For the Filling:

  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup light-color corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup coffee liqueur (Kahlua)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

For the Crust: In a medium bowl, stir together all-purpose flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea-size.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cold water over part of flour mixture; toss gently with a fork. Push to side of bowl. Repeat with additional cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time (4 to 5 tablespoons total), until all is moistened. Shape into a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten dough. Roll dough from center to edge into a 12-inch circle.

Wrap pastry circle around rolling pin; transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate without stretching it. Trim pastry to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold under extra pastry. Crimp edge as desired. Do not prick pastry.

Sprinkle with the 3/4 cup chocolate chips.

For the Filling: In a medium bowl, combine eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, melted butter, coffee liqueur, flour, and vanilla. Stir in the 1 cup chopped pecans. Slowly pour filling over chocolate pieces in bottom of crust.

Cover edge of pie with foil to prevent overbrowning. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil.

Bake about 10-30 (my pie took a total of 55 minutes to bake through- I just checked it every 10 minutes) minutes more or until edge is puffed and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Cover and chill within 2 hours of baking until ready to serve. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Makes 8 servings.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Apple Or Cherry Pie? How 'Bout Both!

This is one easy peasy dessert. It literally comes together in minutes and bakes up in about half an hour. Pie in half an hour-that's awesome!

This recipe comes from a Pampered Chef cookbook titled, All The Best. My friend Maranda is now a Pampered Chef consultant and I snagged this recipe from her while at one of her cooking shows. It really is simple to throw together since all you basically do is layer ingredients then toss it in the oven. The hardest part is peeling and slicing apples but that really isn't difficult.

I liked this tart because it combines apple pie that my husband likes and cherry pie that I like. The two fruits come together and are topped with cinnamony crumbs- it's like three desserts in one! It really would have been great served with ice cream but I didn't have any. The only down side to this dessert is that the crust got soggy on the second day. So if you make it (and I highly recommend that you do) make sure you have enough mouths to feed and eat it while it's fresh!

Cherry Apple Crumb Tart adapted from Pampered Chef

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  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples
  • 3/4 cup canned cherry pie filling (about 1/2 of a 21 oz. can)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Let pie crust stand at room temperature 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add butter and blend thoroughly using a pastry blender or two forks. Mixture will come together and form crumbs when squeezed in your hand. Set aside.

Roll out pie crust into a 13-inch circle and place on a baking stone or a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Peel, core and cut apples into thin slices. Layer apples evenly over crust leaving a 1-inch border of crust.

Spread 3/4 cup cherry pie filling over the apples. Sprinkle flour mixture over apples and pie filling. Fold the outer edge of the pie crust up over the fruit to form a rim.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Serve warm.

I have a couple more Thanksgiving dessert recipes to share with you and I'm on a mission to get them blogged before Turkey day, so I'll see you back here in a few!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Pumpkins

Just a quickie post for today. I am one busy momma and it's already taken me 3 hours to edit and upload photos for this recipe! These days it seems everything takes me twice as long to complete, with the exception of bathing and getting ready- because I've gotten quite speedy at that. I do have some recipes to share with you all, it will just take me a little longer to blog about them. I hope you will all bear with me.

There are a few recipes I make that I wish I could force feed to people. You know the ones that are so good but they were blogged about years ago or didn't have the greatest photos to accompany them, that they got overlooked? Well that is this cake. This is my go-to pumpkin cake. It's homey and will never win a prize for beauty queen, but it's moist and flavorful and gets better day by day. A dusting of powdered sugar would be fine, but it's the icing and chopped nuts that send it over the top. All you need is a big bowl and a whisk and you can whip this baby up in no time. I urge you to give this one a try!

Last Sunday we went to the pumpkin patch. It's something I've looked forward to doing with my son for years. We enjoyed it though Baby H wasn't quite so impressed. We waited til the last minute and most of the pumpkins were already picked over but we found an orange globe that Hayden approved of. Here's my mini pumpkin!

Cinderella Cake Previously seen Here

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  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat sugar and eggs til well blended and light in color. Add oil, continuing to beat. Combine dry ingredients to egg mixture. Add pumpkin and mix well. Pour into greased 9-inch bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Let stand in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto baking rack or platter and allow to cool completely. Frost with Coachman's Icing.

Coachman's Icing

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup nuts, chopped (optional)

In a medium bowl, blend softened cream cheese and butter til smooth and creamy. Add vanilla. Then add powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Frost and top with chopped walnuts or pecans (optional) before icing sets.

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