Autumn Butternut Bacon Mini Tarts

Autumn Butternut Bacon Mini Tarts



Brrrr…it’s officially fall over here in Oklahoma which means Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  This weekend we cleaned up the garden and tilled the valuable compost bin matter into the beds. I had separated garlic cloves to plant but never quite got to it.

Oh for more time in a day!

As I get older, I realize just how much I cannot deviate from our Thanksgiving traditional dishes. I would be strung up if I didn’t have all the usuals, like Sweet Potato Crunch and Green Bean Casserole, but shhhhh…..can I share with you that I am kind of over casseroles and all the cream of soup dishes that I long ago loved?

I much prefer a giant pan of roasted root vegetables over casseroles these days, as does my hips and thights, so I have been letting the kids make their favorites and I’ve branched out over the years to trying some new things.

This appetizer is sure to please anyone who is standing around waiting for the turkey timer to chime. It marries together flavors like the sweetness of butternut squash and maple, the salty smokiness of bacon and chipotle pepper, and the tang of dried cranberries and it all comes along with the satisfying crunch of baked puff pastry.

Prep the separate ingredients days ahead and assemble and bake these just before your Thanksgiving gathering and everyone will be happy and mighty, mighty thankful!

Autumn Butternut Mini Tarts

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  • 1 package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 medium butternut squash, cubed (about 4 cups)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/4 c. pure maple syrup
  • 1 t. chipotle pepper powder
  • 2/3 c. dried cranberries
  • 1 c. grated fontina cheese
  • 1/4 c. chopped pistachios
  • Optional: 1/4 c. pomegranate arils

  • Preheat oven to 400º
  • Unroll puff pastry until flat and cut into 2-inch squares and place on parchment lined baking sheets (or Silpat lined)
  • Using a small paring knife, cut a square inside of each puff pastry square about 1/4 inch in from edge. When puff pastry bakes, this will form the center of the tart.
  • Brush egg over each puff pastry square
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes in oven until golden brown.
  • Remove and retrace the cuts on the squares and pop out center of tarts.
  • Cook bacon until crisp and crumble in a bowl (I bake the bacon on a separate lined baking sheet and put in with the tart shells for 20 minutes. It’s perfect!)
  • Cube butternut squash into 1/2 inch cubes
  • Add olive oil to skillet, sprinkle salt over squash and toss and saute squash over medium-high heat until fork tender, about 20 minutes
  • Add dried cranberries and bacon into squash in pan after squash is fork tender
  • Mix together maple syrup and chipotle powder and add to squash/cranberry/bacon mixture.
  • Stir often, letting squash caramelize in the syrup, about 3 minutes.
  • Grate Fontina into a a bowl
  • Add about 1-2 t. fontina shreds into center of each square
  • Add about 1 T. of butternut/cranberry mixture on top of cheese (which will melt the cheese underneath)
  • Sprinkle with pistachios and pomegranate arils if desired.




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    Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits | Dishin & Dishes

    Photo Nov 15, 3 01 59 AM


    My cousin Diane recently texted me that her mom had brought her over some baked pumpkin pie custard and that she had scooped it into a bowl with some different delectable things and it was delicious. She challenged me to create a recipe based on it and the first thing I thought of was parfaits.

    Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfait Recipe

    I love the idea of serving these at a quaint Thanksgiving get together or even to friends coming for dinner in the fall – and aren’t they beautiful?

    Pumkin Parfaits

    I wanted to skip the baked custard part so I thought -why not make a mock-cheesecake mixture to use so I mixed up one (15 oz) can of pure pumpkin puree with an 8-ounce block of cream cheese and a cup of powdered sugar for my pumpkin layer.  Oops! Almost forgot to add one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice!

    pumpkin cheesecake mixture

    I then whipped up some whipped cream (see tutorial here), using a 16 ounce carton of heavy whipping cream.

    Also spoon this into a gallon bag and snip off the corner.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 34 14 AM

    Now assemble (1/2 cup each) of some other yummy ingredients.

    Heath toffee bits.  Crack in a candy bag. Put 1/2 cup in a bowl.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 28 46 AM

    Toss about 12 store-bought gingersnaps into a food processor (or you can put them in a Ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin).  They should like like sand when you’re finished. You’ll need about 1/2 cup in a bowl as a reminder.

    crushed gingersnaps

    Also put 1/2 cup of chopped pecans in a bowl.

    This is not necessary, but it’s awful pretty to decorate the top of the parfaits with – some caramel. I am using my homemade salted caramel (recipe here) but you could use plain ol’ store bought regular caramel, like the kind you top ice cream with.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 43 42 AM

    I spooned some into a squeeze bottle, but again, not necessary as you can just heat it up to become thinner and drizzle it with a spoon over top.

    I’m just saying – get some of these squeeze bottles though – they are SO useful for so many things and they are usually at any grocery store now for a couple of bucks or less.

    So now you should have assembled – pumpkin cheesecake mixture in a baggie with corner snipped off, whipped cream in a baggie with the corner snipped off, 3 bowls each filled with a half cup each of -chopped pecans, crushed gingersnaps and toffee bits and some warmed caramel.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 43 37 AM

    Let’s assemble some parfaits!

    You can use a variety of things as cups – champagne glasses, wine glasses, even low ball glasses or martini glasses. I happen to have some cute parfait glasses Mr. Wonderful got me so I’m using them!

    You can layer these however you want but here is how I did it…

    A spoonful of gingersnap crumbs in the bottom.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 45 09 AM

    Squeeze in a layer of pumpkin cheesecake mixture.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 46 20 AM

    Squeeze in some whipped cream.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 47 19 AM

    Take a spoon and tamp down these two.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 48 11 AM

    Or you can gently rap them on your hand to level them out and fill the air pockets like the Wonderful guy did.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 48 21 AM

    Now add in a heaping spoonful of toffee bits.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 49 08 AM

    Shake to level them out.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 50 31 AM

    Then add another layer of pumpkin and whipped cream.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 51 42 AM

    If you’re at the top of your glass, make a pretty dollop.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 51 54 AM

    Then sprinkle on some of the pecans.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 53 04 AM

    Also you could sprinkle more of the toffee bits and cookie crumbs.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 54 07 AM

    Then drizzle some caramel over top.

    Photo Nov 15, 2 55 19 AM

    Last thing! Cut or break in half three of the gingersnap cookies to stick on top of each parfait for a cute garnish!

    Photo Nov 15, 2 56 32 AM

    The Wonderful snuck one of these the night I made them and gave them two thumbs up.

    Photo Nov 15, 3 14 50 AM

    They are really scrumptious. I may have snuck one myself around midnight after he went to sleep.

    Photo Nov 15, 3 10 55 AM

    I couldn’t help it- my cousin Diane was right…the combination was delicious!!

    Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits



    Recipe type: Dessert

    • 1(15 oz) can pure pumpkin puree
    • 1 (8 oz) cream cheese
    • 1½ c. powdered sugar (divided)
    • 1 t. pumpkin pie spice
    • 1 t. pure vanilla extract
    • 15 ginger snap cookies (1/2 c. crushed plus 3 whole for garnish)
    • ½ c. Heath toffee bits
    • ½ c. chopped pecans
    • ½ c. salted caramel (or regular caramel)
    • 1 (16 oz) heavy whipping cream
    1. Let cream cheese come to room temperature
    2. Beat pumpkin puree, cream cheese and 1 cup of the powdered sugar together until smooth and creamy
    3. Wash mixing bowl and then pour in heavy cream, ½ c. powdered sugar, 1 t. vanilla and whip until soft peaks form.
    4. Put ginger snap cookies in food processor and process until they resemble sand or put in baggie and roll with rolling pin.
    5. Line up all ingredients with parfait cups
    6. Spoon about a tablespoon of crushed gingersnaps into bottom of parfait cups
    7. Place a gallon baggie inside a large glass and fold down the top over the glass – for the pumpkin cheesecake mixture
    8. Do the same with another baggie – for the whipped cream
    9. Spoon the pumpkin mixture into the first baggie
    10. Spoon the whipped cream into the 2nd baggie
    11. Zip both baggies removing as much air as possible and snip a corner off each baggie
    12. Pipe the pumpkin in on top of the gingersnaps to make a thin layer
    13. Pipe the whipped cream on top of the pumpkin
    14. sprinkle toffee bits over top of whipped cream
    15. Add another layer each of pumpkin then whipped cream
    16. Continue layering to the top of your parfait cups and make the last layer a pretty dollop of whipped cream
    17. Sprinkle with nuts, more toffee bits and gingersnap sprinkles then drizzle with caramel.
    18. It helps to heat the caramel a bit in the microwave to make it thinner to drizzle
    19. Break or cut 3 gingersnaps in half and stick on top for garnish



    pumpkin cheesecake parfaits recipe


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    Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte Concentrate

    Water sugar pumpkin chai latte



    You remember my recipe for Homemade Chai Tea that was inspired by my daughter Kayla’s short stint in India a few years back?

    All I’ve heard about of late is the craze over Pumpkin Lattes since fall has hit and I received a new inspiration to come up with a homemade Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte over the weekend.

    But since slow-simmering a pot of steaming milk and spices isn’t really work-week friendly for me, I decided to try to make a concentrate solution that could easily be added to a steaming hot cup of milk throughout the work week.

    And by jove, I think I’ve got it.

    The process is similar to making Chai Tea in a pot on the stove.

    T start out, you’ll need a medium saucepan with four cups of water. Add in a cup of brown sugar. Stir it over medium heat until the sugar melts, stirring it with a whisk.

    Turn the heat down to simmer. Then add in some spices.

    Add in two whole cinnamon sticks.

    Cinnamon sticks chai pumpkin latte

    Also, roughly smash 12 peppercorns.

    Pgppercorms chai

    Black peppercorns chai latte


    Add in 3 star anise pods.

    Star anise chai latte

    I think they look a little like a creepy spider don’t you?


    Add in 12 whole cloves.

    Cloves chai tea

    I like a really spiced-up chai latte. When it comes to drinks, give me boldness and flavor.

    Also add in a chunk of ginger, about the size of your thumb. My ginger was ornery and didn’t photograph well, as do all yellow items I try to photograph. If you truly love the ginger flavor, cut it up into 3-4 pieces to make it stronger.

    These are cardamom pods.

    Cardamom pods chai

    They have tiny little black seeds inside. I find them whole at a place here in Oklahoma City called Spices of India. If you can’t find them whole, but you can find the seeds, use about 1/8-1/4 of a teaspoon. I give about 8 pods a whack to open them up.

    Add in ¾ cup of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling, which is evil, and bad).

    Pumpkin purée chai latte

    Stir the spices up a bit and let the pot simmer for 5 minutes. Then remove it from the heat and add your tea.
    Take ten black tea bags and wrap them around the handle of the pot (to keep them from falling in completely) and submerge them in the water.

    Chai tea pumpkin katte

    After 10 minutes, strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and into a large mason jar.

    Let the concentrate cool for an hour then stir in one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.

    To serve, mix one part of the concentrate with one part of steamed milk (coconut and almond milk are both delicious). Serve it hot or cold over ice. I would also probably heat the concentrate with the milk and right now, because it’s autumn, piping hot sounds perfectly wonderful.

    Pumpkin chai latte concentrate

    If you’re feeling a little bit naughty, add some frothed milk or even some whipped cream.

    Pumpkin chai tea latte

    This is the perfect hot drink for a cool fall day.

    But, how about this? For summer, try adding the base to ice-cube trays and freeze them. Pop out three or four and then pour over some milk, coconut or almond milk. Delicious!!


    Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte Concentrate



    Recipe type: Drink

    • 4 c. water
    • 2 cinnamon sticks
    • 1 knob of ginger the size of your thumb
    • 8 cardamom pods, cracked
    • 3 star anise pods
    • 12 whole cloves
    • 8 black peppercorns, crushed
    • 10 black tea bags or 1 c. loose-leaf tea
    • 1 c. brown sugar
    • ¾ c. pumpkin puree
    • 1 t. pure vanilla extract
    1. Add water and sugar to medium sized saucepan.
    2. Heat almost to boil and stir to dissolve sugar.
    3. Add the spices and tea and pumpkin puree. Simmer on low for 8 minutes.
    4. Remove from heat and let cool.
    5. Stir in vanilla.
    1. Mix 1 part concentrate with 1 part milk or half-and-half.
    2. Microwave or heat in pan until steaming. You can also pour over ice in the summer heat.
    1. Blend in vanilla smoothies
    2. Spoon over ice cream at Thanksgiving with Pumpkin Pie
    3. Drizzle over Pumpkin Pie or Pumpkin Cheesecake


    Look what other fabulous food bloggers made this week using pumpkin for Food Network’s Fall Fest!

    The Hungry Traveler: Pumpkin Brown Butter Madeleines
    Bacon and Souffle: Pumpkin Lasagna with Sausage, Kale and Parmesan
    Homemade Delish: Warm Pumpkin Salad
    Creative Culinary: Pumpkin Butter
    The Lemon Bowl: 20 Healthy Pumpkin Recipes
    Weelicious: Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts
    Virtually Homemade: Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
    TasteBook: Creamy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
    Dishin & Dishes: Homemade Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte Concentrate
    Napa Farmhouse 1885: Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes
    Red or Green: Spiced Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bars
    The Heritage Cook: Roasted Pumpkin, Potato, and Sage (Gluten-Free)
    Swing Eats: Pumpkin Panna Cotta with Pumpkin Seed Brittle
    Taste with the Eyes: Sultry Pumpkin Soup – Southwest Flavors, Dressed To Kill
    FN Dish: 8 Ways to Eat Pumpkin All Day Long


    Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte


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    Pumpkin Biscuits | Dishin & Dishes

    Pumpkin Biscuits Apple Butter


    You know it’s that time again, when you start seeing a zillion recipes cropping up with ingredients like pumpkin, butternut squash and apples.

    It’s Fall.

    The Christmas song that quotes “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” should have been written about Fall as far as I’m concerned. After a few months of mind-numbing heat, browning grass and flowers, AND the steering wheel in my car practically searing my hands to blisters every time I get in it, the coolness and beauty of Fall is something I always look forward to.

    And dishes with pumpkin.

    I love incorporating pumpkin into traditional sweet dishes like Maple Pumpkin Crème Brulee, Pumpkin Cookies with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting, Pumpkin Scones, and Pumpkin Crisp. But tonight I mixed some into some biscuit dough to create a savory biscuit that is moist and delicious. We spread Apple Honey Butter on top of them and oh my, were they fabulous!

    pumpkin biscuits

    They are pretty easy to make as well so join me in making these this fall!

    First you want to sift all your dry ingredients together. Measure out two cups of flour into a fine mesh sieve, or whatever sifter you happen to have. Add in one tablespoon of baking powder, 1 tablespoon of sugar, ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Sift this all together into a large mixing bowl.

    Sift dry ingredients

    This next step is important for making your biscuits light and flaky.

    ICE COLD butter.

    Take a stick of frozen butter and using a box grater, grate the butter completely. Then add it right into your dry ingredients. It will be a somewhat crumbly mess. That’s okay.

    Grate frozen butter

    Now in a separate bowl, add in one cup of pure pumpkin puree. DON’T get the pumpkin pie mix. They look very similar! Add it to ¾ cup of milk. Whisk it all together.

    Wet ingredients pumpkin muffins

    Pour it into the dry ingredients/butter mixture and using a rubber spatula just begin to mix it up. When you’ve gotten as much of the dry ingredients mixed in as possible, turn the whole mess onto a floured countertop or cutting board and begin to work it with your hands. Not too much, but just until it’s all mixed nicely. It doesn’t have to be super smooth (in fact, it shouldn’t be), and can be a little rough.

    Pat it into a circle and take your rolling pin and roll it out one way, then turn the rolling pin or dough and give it a roll the other way.

    Pumpkin Biscuit Dough

    This way your dough keeps the shape of a circle instead of becoming really long because you’re alternating rolling it in different directions. You want it to be just under an inch tall or closer to ¾ inch. Take a 3-inch biscuit cutter and cut as many biscuits as you can with it. (Use a glass if you don’t have a biscuit cutter or even the ring off a mason jar.)

    biscuit cutters

    Place the cut biscuits on a baking sheet.

    Pumpkin Biscuits

    I like to use a Silpat mat on mine but parchment works wonderfully as well. Take your leftover dough and shape it into a ball again and roll it to ¾ inch again. Cut out more biscuits. This recipe makes exactly sixteen biscuits nicely for me.

    Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes, then Remove them form the oven and brush them with melted butter.

    Pumpkin Biscuits brush with butter

    Remove them and let them cool and top them with some of my Apple Honey Butter. (Click here for recipe)

    Pumpkin Biscuits with Apple Honey Butter

    It truly IS the most wonderful time of the year.

    Fall goodness.

    Pumpkin Biscuits Apple Honey Butter


    Pumpkin Biscuits



    • 2 c. flour
    • 1 T. baking powder
    • 1 T. sugar
    • ½ t. kosher salt
    • ¼ t.baking soda
    • ¾ c. milk
    • 1 c. pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
    • 1 stick butter, frozen
    • Melted butter for brushing tops (about ½ stick)
    1. Mix all dry ingredients together and sift into large bowl.
    2. Mix milk and pumpkin together in another bowl.
    3. Grate stick of butter on large holes of box grater right into the dry ingredients and then mix with spatula. Mixture will still be pretty dry.
    4. Add in pumpkin/milk mixture and when ball starts forming, turn out onto floured surface.
    5. Knead with hands as minimally as possible just until flour is mostly absorbed (batter will still be rough and not super smooth)
    6. Form disk and roll with rolling pin once in each direction and then once in the opposite direction until dough is ¾ inch high.
    7. Cut with 3 inch biscuit cutters, mason jar lid or glass.
    8. Place on sprayed baking sheet or baking sheet lined with Silpat mat or parchment paper.
    9. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and brush each biscuit with melted butter. Return to oven for 3 minutes.
    10. Serve warm. Famtastic with Apple Honey Butter!



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    Holiday Spiced Cider | Dishin & Dishes



    Baby it’s cold outside…well sometimes.  We actually had a 75 degree day one day this week.  Ya just never know in Oklahoma.

    The holidays are and have been upon us. We like to start a crockpot of this cider on Thanksgiving and Christmas and pretty much every weekend in between. Not only is it warm goodness to sip on in the evenings, but it makes your house smell heavenly as well.

    But for the most part, the  weather here has dropped significantly requiring hoodies, sweaters, blankets. socks and the worst of all…pantyhose.  I hate pantyhose almost as much as I hate spiked high heels, and think it highly unfair that men don’t have to suffer the misery of either.  I mean, the things us woman have to endure to look marvelous..I tell ya..

    Anyway, I actually like cool weather.  I realize that places that stay warm all year have their perks, but I love the change in seasons.  Especially here in Oklahoma.  I love it when the 100 degree days spiral down to the 80’s, and then the mercury continues to drop to even the 60’s and 50’s.  I love wrapping up in a blanket on a cold Saturday afternoon and popping in a movie.

    But nothing makes it more perfect than a good cup of warm, fragrant Spiced Cider.


    This recipe is made in your crock pot, but can be made in a pot on your stove as well. Just simmer it for 15 minutes or so on your stove and you’re good to go.  However, the added bonus to the crockpot over the stove is

    #1)  if you walk away and forget about it, it won’t evaporate or reduce away, and

    #2) the heavenly aroma it fragrances your home with all day long.

    So, to begin, pour a gallon of apple cider into your crockpot.




    Now, the spices of mulled cider beg for this spice, the most important ingredient of spiced cider.

    Cloves just give it that little hint of something’ something’ at the back of your palate.  Add in one tablespoon of ground cloves.


    Next, add 1/4 cup of brown sugar.  I like my cider smooth with just a hint of tartness.


    Add 1 tablespoon of Allspice.


    Add 4-5 whole cinnamon sticks.  They look pretty floating on top.


    Slice up one whole orange.


    And float the pieces right into the pool.


    Some people use juice, but I prefer the pretty oranges floating on top and also, this way you release the essential oils in the rind of the orange as well.

    And that’s all folks.  Just pop on your crockpot lid and turn your setting to High.


    I left mine like this for several hours, then turned it down to Low.


    Now if you are a picky texture floaty person, you  might want to strain this before you serve it through some cheese cloth or a fine sieve.

    However, as one person who refuses to drink pulp in orange juice, it didn’t bother me at all.  The spices kind of melt in with the cider.  But there may be some residue in the bottom of your cup, so you decide.

    Ladle it out into a nice mug or cup.

    final collage

    During mid-afternoon at some point, it occurred to me that this would be fabulously amazing with one of my Triple Cinnamon Snickerdoodle Bars.  I think it was the incredible scent of the mix of apples and spices that drew me.

    I made up a tray and set off to watch Patrick Swayze for the millionth time in Point Break on some off-cable channel.


    Let’s have a minute of silence in remembrance of Patrick.  I will always have the biggest crush on him that goes way back to the 80’s.  I remember being pregnant with Tori and with my hormones all out of whack, sobbing all the way to the parking lot after watching Ghost for the first time.  I was astounded to learn he was 57 when he died recently.  I would have guessed early 40’s.  He still looked that good.

    So, it was a lovely, cool autumn day.

    I was under a quilt, sipping Mulled Cider.



    Holiday Spiced Cider


    Total time



    Recipe type: Drinks

    • 1 gal. Apple cider
    • 1 T. ground cloves or 8 whole cloves
    • ¼ c. brown sugar
    • 1 T. Allspice
    • 4-5 whole cinnamon sticks
    • One whole orange sliced thinly
    1. Add all ingredients to crockpot
    2. Turn on high heat
    3. Allow to heat to hot temperature then turn crockpot on low or warm for the rest of the day!
    4. After 2-3 hours can strain if desired or just serve with a little strainer and let guests ladle into their cups through the strainer.


    It doesn’t get much better than that.


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