Newlyweds navigating their way through married life – and the kitchen

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pumpkin cheesecake dip

I’m not afraid to admit when perfectly laid out recipes go astray.

Last Thanksgiving, we had some friends over for a makeshift ‘Thanksgiving Dinner” and our friend Alissa brought this pumpkin dip with various treats to dip in it, and OMG – it was beyond good.  And the best part was that it was served in a hollowed out pumpkin! Major points for presentation!

So this past Sunday, Dave, Hairy and I had plans to meet up with my cousin Catherine and Buddy and my Aunt Jane at Buddy’s fab apt. in the north end (recess lighting and all).  Pizza from the ORIGINAL Pizzeria Regina, which is right around the corner from his apartment  (I swear I’d be well over 300 lbs if I lived there) was on the menu, so I decided I was going to make this pumpkin dip as a nice ‘lighter’ option for dessert.

Ooof.

I literally stood over the bowl with the electric mixer for a good 10 minutes, just waiting for all these little lumps of cream cheese to disintegrate.  But it didn’t happen.  And while it tasted pretty good, I am a firm believer that you taste with your eyes just as much as your mouth, and the sight of this mess of a dip even made me, someone who never passes on dessert, want to say “Ahhh ya know what? I am just SO full I think I’ll pass on dessert!”  I was so ashamed of it, I frustratedly tossed it in the dumpster outside of Buddy’s apartment as we were walking to our car – $1 leaf bowl from Target and all.

But I was determined to make this better somehow.  So I tried it again last night, using essentially the same recipe, but using a different process to combine them together, and BINGO!!!! We have a winner!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip
*Adapted from Allrecipes & Very Best Baking

INGREDIENTS
*makes about 1.5 cups – perfect amount for a small pumpkin!

1 – 8oz block of cream cheese, softened (room temp is ideal)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1) In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and pumpkin puree with an electric mixer on low until both are fully combined and smooth.

2) Gradually add the powdered sugar to the pumpkin/cream cheese mixture (I did about 1/3 at a time) mixing well in between.

3) Add the pumpkin pie spice and mix well until all ingredients are combined and smooth.

4) Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour (up to overnight).  Serve with whatever you see fit to dip! Personally I think that chocolate goes really nice with this, so  I used chocolate animal crackers, graham crackers and bite sized oreos, but the options are endless!

So what was the difference between the two?

In version 1, the directions said to mix the softened cream cheese and the powdered sugar together until smooth – without sifting the sugar first, causing big sugary lumps of cream cheese to form before the pumpkin even went into the mixture.  After that, there was no going back, no matter how much you mixed.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip

The second version though, I mixed the pumpkin and cream cheese together first, until smooth, and then gradually add the sifted confectioners sugar, which honestly makes perfect sense now that I look back, but at the time I just followed the instructions without giving it any thought.

Finally, after 2 tries, it was what I had always envisioned it being – a deliciously smooth combination of pumpkin and cream cheese that’s fun to eat and ridiculously easy to make. Feel free to tweak the measurements of pumpkin too, adding more or less depending on your pumpkin tastes.  And, putting it in a cute hollowed out little pumpkin = genius.  Perfect for a pre-dinner dessert for people to graze on, or a nice, lighter alternative for people after the big meal is over, as you can dip as much or as little as you like – it’s commitment free!

So go now and dip it.  Dip it good 🙂

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

It’s Friday! Woo Wooo Yeahh Yeahhh Woo Wooo Woooooo!

Pumpkin Cheesecake BrowniesI’m extra excited for this coming weekend because:

1) Tomorrow a WEDDING is happening!

2) I get to spend time with these clowns – a.k.a my family – a.k.a the farkles.  Don’t ask.

My cousin Allison is getting married to Neil.  They’re story is one of my faves.  Al moved to Dublin to channel her inner Irish self a couple years after college – she met Neil, a legit Irishman who might be one the nicest guys I’ve ever met in my life – they fell in love – last year they got engaged in Budapest (NBD) and tomorrow they’re getting married! I’m picturing a lot of jigging on the dance floor and a lot of guinness consumption, but mostly, lots of laughs and fist pumps with family and friends!Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

I’ll be honest – there’s no correlation between Al and Neil nuptials and these Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies, but nevertheless, they were amazingly easy to make (primarily cuz’ I cheated – cheaters DID prosper in this case!) and amazingly delicious.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies
*Cheescake portion adapted from A Taste of Home

INGREDIENTS

Your favorite boxed brownie mix, prepared according to instructions

1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 egg

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees (or whatever temperature the box says)

2) Prepare your brownie batter and set aside.

3) For cheesecake batter, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Beat in the sugar, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Add egg; beat on low speed just until combined.

4) Line a 12-muffin tin with paper baking cups.  Fill the bottom about 1/3 of the way with brownie batter.  Then place another 1/3 of pumpkin cheesecake batter on the top, and then top the last 1/3 with the brownie batter.  Take a knife and swirl the pumpkin cheesecake and brownie batter together so they look ‘swirly’.

5) Bake for about 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean

*You could also make these as just a standard pan of brownies by again, following the instructions on the box for the different pan sizes and following the same method of brownie batter/pumpkin cheesecake layering and swirling.

My only change would be maybe alternating the pattern and doing cheesecake/brownie/cheesecake next time, as to make them a little more pumpkin flavored.  But it’s totally up to you, depending on what flavor you prefer.

Next week is Halloween – BOOOOO!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies



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