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.
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
*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.
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 :)
Happy Friday everyone! Man, these 5-day weeks are BRUTAL!
To say that the weather around here has been crazy lately would be a complete understatement. Within about a week and a half, we had a Hurrricane AND a Nor’ Easter that brought the first snow of the season to Boston – and now it’s all melted and it’s supposed to be 70 degrees on Monday. Wuddup mother nature? I only have so much room in my closet to be prepared for all these weather scenarios!
Anyway, Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching in just two weeks! And this recipe for Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie is a special one as it’s a Schoon Family ‘Dessert Heirloom’ of sorts. Dave’s Mom and Grandmother make it every Thanksgiving and it’s really a nice change to your run-of-the-mill Apple and Pecan pie. After hours of grazing and face stuffing on Thanksgiving Day, when you think you can’t fit another morsel of food in your already overstretched stomach, out comes the Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie. And suddenly, ah ha! Whaddaya know, I found room for a sliver!
Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie
*A Schoon Family Specialty
*Yields 1 – 9″ pie – however, there is probably enough ice cream to make 2 pies, so if you double the graham cracker crust, butter and sugar measurements, you’d have enough crust for 2 pies.
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1.5 – teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon orange juice
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) To prepare crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a mixing bowl. Coat 9″ pie plate with non-stick cooking spray and then press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the the plate.
2) Bake crust in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until edges are golden brown. You’ll notice that the crust will puff up a little bit while baking – simply take your hands or a rubber spatula to push it back down into the pie plate. Cool on rack before filling.
3) To prepare the pumpkin filling, combine ice cream, pumpkin, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and orange juice.
4) After the crust has cooled, pour the pumpkin ice cream filling into the pie plate. As mentioned above, there will be quite a bit of ice-cream filling left over, so feel free to save it or prepare another pie with it.
5) Freeze until ready to serve. Feel free to top with cool whip, or as you can see, I ‘bedazzled’ mine with some fun harvest colored sugar crystals for some texture.
Be sure to spray your pie plate – I actually did NOT do this, and the crust was kind of sticking to the plate, so I think the cooking spray would help that (or you could totally cheat and buy one of those pre-made Graham Cracker crusts! But the homemade one just tastes that much better :))
I would also recommend letting your pie sit for 5 minutes or so before trying to cut a slice – it just makes it a little easier to take it out of the plate.
Happy Friday everyone – happy weekend to all!
It’s Friday! Woo Wooo Yeahh Yeahhh Woo Wooo Woooooo!
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!
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
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) 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!
Very VERY bad idea to be reliving this post from Saturday as I sit here at my desk eating my 100 calorie, whole grain VitaMuffin top.
Dave and I are very different when it comes to breakfast: he lives for it, and myself, I could probably live without it. On a Saturday morning, it’s always a struggle to decide what the first meal of the day is going to be. Dave usually wants to get up and use every pan we own to make a 5-course breakfast, whereas myself, I like to go out, get an iced coffee and a breakfast sandwich from my most favorite breakfast spot in the neighborhood – Magnificent Muffin. It’s a tiny, hole in the wall that I first was drawn to some years ago by the constant line out the door. And besides the fact that you can probably only fit about 5 average size humans in there at a time, the line is legit. Because their breakfast sandwiches are made-to-order, served hot off the griddle, and their muffins are in fact magnificent – it’s not even false advertising. And, the best part, every order comes with a side of sass from the owners – free of charge.
But this past Saturday, I was antsy to try this recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes that I found from Cozy Kitchen. Trader Joe’s has a really great Pumpkin Pancake & Waffle mix that I’ve used in the past to make PCCPcakes. But I tend to agree with the ladies at Magnificent Muffin – fresh ingredients and a side of sass make EVERYTHING taste just a little bit better.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes
*Modified from Cozy Kitchen
*yields about 8 pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1) In a medium bowl, sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
2) In a small bowl, measure out the buttermilk then add the egg and lightly beat.
3) Mix in the pumpkin puree with the egg and buttermilk and mix until completely blended. Then add the melted butter and mix again.
4) Add half the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix lightly. Then add the other half and mix until the batter is just combined (there will be small-medium lumps). Add chocolate chips.
5) Heat your griddle over low/medium heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray or butter. Use about 1/4 cup of the batter and place in a round circle on the skillet. Cook until small bubbles form on the surface of the pancake and then flip over. Cook on opposite side for about a minute, or until golden brown.
6) Serve warm with LOTS of maple syrup.
OMG – the pumpkin – the chocolate – the syrup. I would highly recommend serving a nice, salty side with this like sausage or bacon, just to have a good balance of salty and sweetness (if that’s your thing). And, these literally took all of 10 minutes to make, so it was a GREAT Saturday morning breakfast!
Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate.
The first one said, “oh my it’s getting late.”
The second one said, “there are witches in the air.”
The third one said, “but we don’t care!”
The fourth one said, “let’s run and run and run.”
The fifth one said, “I’m ready for some fun!”
OOOhh OOOhh went the wind
And out went the lights
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight….
….or into my belly
When I first saw these, I thought “OMG – these are WAY too cute to actually eat” – but I got over that real fast :)
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Cookies & Cups
*yields 14-18 whoopie pies
2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup room temp butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
Orange food coloring
Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
3) In a standing mixer, cream butter and sugar together then add egg and vanilla & mix until combined.
4) Mix your dry ingredients together.
5) On low speed add 1/3 of your dry mix, then 1/3 of your buttermilk…continue adding in this order until all your dry ingredients and milk are mixed in and smooth.
6) Now add your food coloring. You can use the Orange gel type, or I just used the red and yellow from the little 4 pack you can buy at the grocery store, alternating between the 2 until I got the right color (or until I ran out of yellow haha).
7) Mix on low to combine the food coloring, scraping the sides until color is even.
8) Place about 2 tbsp. of batter onto your baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. If you want them to really look pumpkinesque, you can place the batter in a ziplock or piping bag and pipe the batter onto the sheet in a fat heart shape.
9) Bake for approx 6-8minutes until they are set and spongy to the touch. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
10) In the mean time, prepare your cream cheese filling by creaming together your butter and cream cheese until smooth. On low speed, add in your vanilla and powdered sugar. Turn speed up to medium until combined, scraping sides of bowl when necessary.
11) Place about 1-2 tbsp. of filling on one side of the pie. Break off a a piece of a mini pretzel and place it in the frosting at the top to make your ‘stem’. Cover with the other half and pipe your ‘leaves’ onto the pie with green frosting.
I have a confession to make, that I actually make an oops when making these and added 2 sticks of butter vs. the 1 that was called for in the pie batter. I realized it when they came out of the oven without that puffy, cakey look that whoopie pies have. But, after several samples, I discovered that they were still pretty damn good! They took on more of a dense ‘cookie’ texture than the cake-like texture of a standard whoopie pie.
Regardless, this may be my favorite fall recipe yet! Go get your pumpkin on!
Last year, I had pumpkin risotto for the first time, and man was it good! Lord Hobo is a bar in Cambridge, MA that you’d probably walk right by and not give a second thought. But their craft beer selection is beyond amazing, and their dishes are just as unique.
So I decided to make this Pumpkin Risotto, in the spirit of fall. Risotto takes a bit of time – all the stirring and adding of the chicken stock – it’s a dish that really needs to be baby sat. So when it’s ready, you can’t WAIT to dig in! Dave and I paired it with Maple Garlic Marinated Pork Tips, which were out of this world. But the risotto just didn’t taste quite as good as I remembered. I strongly believe that thing always taste just a little bit better when you don’t have to make them yourself, but this wasn’t quite the level of delish that I experienced at Lord Hobo.
There was a lot left over, and I toiled back and forth as to whether or not I wanted to photograph and blog about it. Because I wasn’t fully supportive of it. But I didn’t want to waste it either, because it did take so much effort to make. Then the invisible lightbulb turned on and shined bright – ARANCINI BALLS!
I think the first Arancini Ball I ever ate was a frozen one from Trader Joe’s – and even that was so tasty that I wondered how I had never known about this genius concoction of cheese and risotto, rolled into a ball, and fried. I’ve never made them myself, and have heard from others that they’re a lot of work, but the work was well worth it.
Pumpkin Arancini Balls
*Adapted from Epicurious & Food Network
*yields about 16-20 arancini balls
For Pumpkin Risotto
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1/3 cup grated parmesean cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For Arancini Balls
1 cup + 1/2 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 eggs, at room temperature, beaten
2-3 mozzarella string cheese sticks, cut into 1/2″ pieces
Vegetable oil, for frying
To prepare the risotto:
1) Bring stock and 2 cups water to a simmer in a small saucepan and keep at a bare simmer.
2) Cook onion in oil in a 2- to 2 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.
3) Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add 1 cup simmering stock and cook at a strong simmer, stirring constantly, until stock is absorbed. Continue simmering, adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, about 18 minutes total. (There may be broth left over.)
4) Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin, cheese, and butter, stirring until butter is melted. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and be sure to let cool before preparing the arancini balls.
To prepare Arancini Balls:
1) Put 1 cup bread crumbs in a shallow dish and set aside.
2) In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of pumpkin risotto, bread crumbs, parmesan, and eggs.
3) With damp hands, using about 2 tablespoons of the risotto mixture, form the mixture into 1 3/4-inch diameter balls.
4) Make a hole in the center of each ball and insert a piece of the mozzarella in the center, covering the hole to enclose the cheese.
5) Roll the balls in the breading to coat.
6) In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in enough oil to fill the pan about 1/3 of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 350 degrees F. (about 5 minutes).
7) In batches, fry the risotto balls, turning occasionally, until golden, about 4 to 5 minutes.
8) Drain on paper towels and serve.
I know you’re thinking ‘WOW – that’s a LOT of steps and a lot of time!’ But I swear, they’re worth every bite, especially served hot, when the cheese is still all gooey and stretchy. The perfect combination of saltiness and sweetness from the pumpkin. And you could probably experiment with the cheese as well – I just happened to have mozzarella (I am 30 going on 5 and still LOVE string cheese!) but I bet goat cheese or feta would be equally as good. And if you didn’t want a big ball of cheese right in the center, you could use a shredded version to make the cheese distribution more uniform throughout.
These would be the perfect appetizer for Thanksgiving dinner or any Fall gathering you’re heading to – and everyone will say “AUGH, these are amazing! It must have taken you hours!” – and you lie and tell them “Nahhh – it was easy” :)
What a BANNER WEEKEND it was!
Here’s my weekend cliffs notes:
1) It was the most perfect fall weather, the kind that you dream about in the throws of winter, when it’s dark at 4:30 and the snow starts to pile up outside your window. Sunny, blue skies, big puffy clouds, and just the right temp to blow the dust off your favorite fleece jacket.
2) An outside beer festival – 3 blocks from our apartment – and a truck with beer taps attached to it. Nuf said.
3) An ENGAGEMENT! Now, it should be said that I get excited for random strangers when they get engaged. Being able to relive that feeling of excitement that you only get to experience once in your entire life, why it might be almost MORE exciting than when it happens to you! And it couldn’t be more true than for Dave and I, and two of our bestest friends, Meghan and Adam, who took a weekend off from home renovations and got engaged on Saturday afternoon, under a willow tree in the public gardens after a quick swan boat ride. Move over William Shakespeare.
4) A brunch with my best friends from High School. We grew up together in a small town, shared the ups and downs of our adolescence together, went off and did our own things through college and post-college, and now, 10+ years later, it’s like picking up where we left off in homeroom. Only people have babies now. Minor detail :)
All week, I thought to myself “Ooooh so many amazing fall recipes to make for brunch! Which will I choose?” And after tossing in my sleep trying to nail down the perfect one, I decided on these Pumpkin Donut Holes. I went out and bought all the stuff. I couldn’t WAIT to show up on Natalie’s doorstep with them Saturday morning…
But, I showed up with store-bought muffins instead.
You know those weeks where the days just get away from you? Welp – it was one of those – and the store bought muffins were delish – but not as good as these bad boys. The recipe looked so good that I couldn’t not try them, even if I missed my brunch deadline.
If you don’t have the ingredients for this, run – don’t walk – to get them – because these donut holes are like crack – dipped in butter and coated with cinnamon and sugar.
Pumpkin Donut Holes
From Domestically Speaking
1 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 pumpkin puree
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1) Preheat your oven to 350 and spray a mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2) Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl and whisk till combined.
3) In another bowl, mix together the oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix till it’s just combined (you don’t want to over mix).
4) Fill your mini tins with about 1/2 tbsp. of batter.
5) Bake for 10-12 minutes.
6) While they’re baking, melt your butter and in a small bowl combine your sugar and cinnamon.
7) Once the donuts have cooled a bit, dunk them in the butter and then the cinnamon/sugar mixture. If you want to make them a little less sugary, you can just dip the top in the butter and cinnamon/sugar.
This recipe AND this weekend – definitely one for the books :)