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 overcasseroles 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
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Squeeze in a layer of pumpkin cheesecake mixture.
Squeeze in some whipped cream.
Take a spoon and tamp down these two.
Or you can gently rap them on your hand to level them out and fill the air pockets like the Wonderful guy did.
Now add in a heaping spoonful of toffee bits.
Shake to level them out.
Then add another layer of pumpkin and whipped cream.
If you’re at the top of your glass, make a pretty dollop.
Then sprinkle on some of the pecans.
Also you could sprinkle more of the toffee bits and cookie crumbs.
Then drizzle some caramel over top.
Last thing! Cut or break in half three of the gingersnap cookies to stick on top of each parfait for a cute garnish!
The Wonderful snuck one of these the night I made them and gave them two thumbs up.
They are really scrumptious. I may have snuck one myself around midnight after he went to sleep.
I couldn’t help it- my cousin Diane was right…the combination was delicious!!
Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits
Author: Katie of Dishin & Dishes
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
Let cream cheese come to room temperature
Beat pumpkin puree, cream cheese and 1 cup of the powdered sugar together until smooth and creamy
Wash mixing bowl and then pour in heavy cream, ½ c. powdered sugar, 1 t. vanilla and whip until soft peaks form.
Put ginger snap cookies in food processor and process until they resemble sand or put in baggie and roll with rolling pin.
Line up all ingredients with parfait cups
Spoon about a tablespoon of crushed gingersnaps into bottom of parfait cups
Place a gallon baggie inside a large glass and fold down the top over the glass – for the pumpkin cheesecake mixture
Do the same with another baggie – for the whipped cream
Spoon the pumpkin mixture into the first baggie
Spoon the whipped cream into the 2nd baggie
Zip both baggies removing as much air as possible and snip a corner off each baggie
Pipe the pumpkin in on top of the gingersnaps to make a thin layer
Pipe the whipped cream on top of the pumpkin
sprinkle toffee bits over top of whipped cream
Add another layer each of pumpkin then whipped cream
Continue layering to the top of your parfait cups and make the last layer a pretty dollop of whipped cream
Sprinkle with nuts, more toffee bits and gingersnap sprinkles then drizzle with caramel.
It helps to heat the caramel a bit in the microwave to make it thinner to drizzle
Break or cut 3 gingersnaps in half and stick on top for garnish
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.
Also, roughly smash 12 peppercorns.
Add in 3 star anise pods.
I think they look a little like a creepy spider don’t you?
Add in 12 whole cloves.
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.
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).
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.
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.
If you’re feeling a little bit naughty, add some frothed milk or even some whipped cream.
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
Author: Katie of Dishin & Dishes
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
Add water and sugar to medium sized saucepan.
Heat almost to boil and stir to dissolve sugar.
Add the spices and tea and pumpkin puree. Simmer on low for 8 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool.
Stir in vanilla.
Mix 1 part concentrate with 1 part milk or half-and-half.
Microwave or heat in pan until steaming. You can also pour over ice in the summer heat.
Blend in vanilla smoothies
Spoon over ice cream at Thanksgiving with Pumpkin Pie
Drizzle over Pumpkin Pie or Pumpkin Cheesecake
Look what other fabulous food bloggers made this week using pumpkin for Food Network’s Fall Fest!
You know it’s that time again, when you start seeing a zillion recipes cropping up with ingredients like pumpkin, butternut squash and apples.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Place the cut biscuits on a baking sheet.
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.
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.
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
Author: Katie of Dishin & Dishes
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
Add all ingredients to crockpot
Turn on high heat
Allow to heat to hot temperature then turn crockpot on low or warm for the rest of the day!
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.