Daring Bakers Challenge: Apple Crostata


"The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well."

Remember a few weeks ago I mentioned I joined an Internet cooking club? Well as fate would have it, it's also associated with an Internet baking club.......and guess who joined. :D Laugh if you must, but you all benefit from the yummy recipes - so if you keep laughing, the hand that feeds you will bite you!

Our challenge this month was to bake a crostata which is basically an Italian baked tart/pie. They can be sweet or savory and I've made a couple in the past which I served to guests who ecstatically devoured the whole thing. I'd had my eye on this recipe for a while now so I finally had a reason to make it. I followed the crust recipe from the challenge, but the filling is from Alice Water's Apple Tart which can be found here. Overall the dessert was sweet without being too over the top, and if you hadn't guessed already - yes, the crust was the best part. Buttery and flaky perfection - perfect with a scoop of ice cream.

If you're an apple pie purist, this may not be the recipe for you. It's quite different from your traditional apple pie since cinnamon and nutmeg are not used. The apples are thinly sliced and showered with a coating of turbinado sugar. Once baked, it's brushed with a thick syrupy glaze made from a reduction of apple peals, cores, and sugar. I baked the crostata at the Cindyro's and I think the oven temperature ran a little high so my filling turned into mush - but it was still delectable. This pie travels well and would be great to take to your next holiday party. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Trifle


For Thanksgiving I put a twist on your traditional pumpkin pie and served a pumpkin trifle.While I do enjoy a good pumpkin pie, I'm always in search of new and innovative recipes - and let me tell you, this one delivered! What is a pumpkin trifle you ask? Well, think of it as a pumpkiny tiramisu meets bread pudding and marries a pumpkin mousse - yes, it's NUM!

For the photo, I made individual servings for Lobster and I, but for the actual big event I layered everything in a large trifle dish. Visually, it was a lovely presentation. Either way you serve it, your guests will be pleased.


Pumpkin Trifle
Makes 12 to 14 servings
Found on What Megan's Making but recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma

Ingredients:

  • 2 pumpkin bread loaves
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 10-oz jar pumpkin butter (Trader Joe's)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions:

Prepare the 2 pumpkin loaves allow to cool completely. Cut the bread into 15 slices, each 1/2 inch thick. Set aside. (click on pumpkin loaves under ingredient list for recipe)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the cream, vanilla and sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold in the pecan pumpkin butter. Refrigerate until ready to use.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the maple syrup, juice and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

To assemble the trifle, slice bread into 1/2 inch thick pieces - make sure not to cut them too thick or else the syrup will not be able to be absorbed in the bread and it will be too dense. Brush top part of bread with syrup mixture. Place 3 slices of the bread (syrup side down) in the bottom of a trifle bowl or deep soufflé dish, cutting the slices in half or into quarters as needed to form a single layer of bread. Using a pastry brush, brush the top part of bread with more of the maple syrup mixture and let it soak in. Using an offset spatula, spread 1 cup of the whipped cream mixture evenly over the bread. Repeat the layering process 3 to 4 times.

Make-Ahead Tips: Up to 2 day in advance, bake the pecan pumpkin quick bread and let cool, then wrap with plastic wrap and store at room temperature. Prepare the pumpkin butter whipped cream and maple syrup mixture and refrigerate separately in airtight containers; The next day assemble the trifle and refrigerate for 24 hours. I'm sure 8 hours is just fine but I found it tasted best the longer it sat.

Fakesgiving


The day before Thanksgiving, Lobster and I had our own Fakesgiving. Instead of your usual 10 pound bird, I bought a turkey breast and stuffed it with a sausage, fig and cranberry dressing. Even though it was a little dinner for two, we still went nuts and had all the fixin's - mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and a pumpkin trifle.

Stuffing the turkey breast was a nice change from your traditional turkey and one we enjoyed very much. I'm sure everyone's had their fair share of dried turkey breast, but this method actually produced a moist breast. I was really surprised how much we enjoyed eating it this way. In fact, we may even change our Thanksgiving tradition from here on out. (fingers crossed) My favorite part of the meal is the side dishes anyway - so having a twofer and smothering it in gravy and cranberry sauce made for one delicious bite. It's a shame Thanksgiving only comes around once a year - the glutinous day has just passed and I'm already thinking of next year's meal. Sigh, food freak I be ^_^

Note: The stuffing was a bit on the sweet side for me so next time I would try using one fruit instead of both - or an entirely different recipe all together.


Turkey Roulade
6 to 7 servings
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

  • 3/4 cup small-diced dried figs, stems removed
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onions (2 onions)
  • 1 cup (1/2-inch-diced) celery (3 stalks)
  • 3/4 pound pork sausage, casings removed (sweet and hot mixed)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 cups herb-seasoned stuffing mix (recommended: Pepperidge Farm)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten (I used one large egg plus an egg white)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole (2 halves) turkey breast, skin on, boned and butterflied (5 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions

Place the dried figs and cranberries in a small saucepan and pour in the apple juice and 1/2 cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage, crumbling it into small bits with a fork, and saute, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until cooked and browned. Add the figs and cranberries with the liquid, the chopped rosemary, and pine nuts, and cook for 2 more minutes. Scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon.

Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add the sausage mixture, chicken stock, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir well. (The stuffing may be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight.)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan.

Lay the butterflied turkey breast skin side down on a cutting board. Sprinkle the meat with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Spread the stuffing in a 1/2-inch-thick layer over the meat, leaving a half-inch border on all sides. Don't mound the stuffing or the turkey will be difficult to roll. (Place the leftover stuffing in a buttered gratin dish and bake for the last 45 minutes of roasting alongside the turkey.) Starting at 1 end, roll the turkey like a jelly roll and tuck in any stuffing that tries to escape on the sides. Tie the roast firmly with kitchen twine every 2 inches to make a compact cylinder.

Place the stuffed turkey breast seam side down on the rack on the sheet pan. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and roast for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until an instant-read thermometer registers 150 degrees F in the center. (I test in a few places.) Cover the turkey with aluminum foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Carve 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve warm with the extra stuffing.

With the leftover stuffing - place in a large oven proof bowl and roast along side the turkey during the last 45 minutes of baking. Stuffing is done when internal temperature register 165F.


Gravy

Recipe from Barefoot Contessa

Makes 3 cups


  • 4 tbs unsalted butter*
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Defatted turkey drippings plus chicken broth to make 2 cups
  • 1 tablespoon white wine, optional
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream, optional


Directions

In a large (10 to 12-inch) saute pan, cook the butter and onions over medium-low heat for 12 to 15 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Don't rush this step; it makes all the difference when the onions are well-cooked.

Sprinkle the flour into the pan, whisk in, then add the salt and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock mixture and Cognac, and cook uncovered for 4 to 5 minutes until thickened. Add the wine and cream, if desired. Season, to taste, and serve.

I started the gravy with 1/4 cup of the turkey dripping since my turkey breasts did not produce much drippings. I then proceede with the rest of the recipe and added 2 cups of chicken broth.

Cranberry Fruit Conserve


Thanksgiving is like the Superbowl of cooking holidays. This year I was able to make a couple dishes the day before and this sauce was one of them. Knocking out a few dishes before the big day is always a good stress reliever. This recipe uses a few basic ingredients and has the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Once chilled the sauce thickens up and tastes great smothered with turkey, gravy and stuffing - sweet and savory all in one bite. This one's definitely a keeper and will be my "go-to" for many Thanksgivings to come.


Cranberry Fruit Conserve

Makes 4 cups
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

* 1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries, cleaned
* 1 3/4 cups sugar
* 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
* 1 orange, zest grated and juiced
* 1 lemon, zest grated and juiced

Directions

Cook the cranberries, sugar, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the skins pop open. Add the apple, zests, and juices and cook for 15 more minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat. Let cool, and serve chilled.

Not yo mama's puddin' pie: Salted Caramel Banana Pudding Pie


Are you a fan of banana pudding pie? If so, I think you'll love this version with the addition of a salted caramel sauce. The caramel adds the tiniest bit of saltiness and takes your average pudding pie up a notch to something extra rich and gooey. Hence, why this aint yo mama's puddin' pie! There's also another lingering taste you can't quite distinguish, but the pie has a hint of alcohol or "booziness" which adds another dimension of flavor. Why? I do not know. Perhaps it was the addition of almond extract to the topping which will make your guests say, "hmmm...what is that?" Heck, I even said it and I made the dang thing.

After eating the pie I discovered I'm not a fan of whipped cream. I'd say the topping is purely optional IMO. Or perhaps I'd use a thinner layer next time rather than the entire amount - but that's just me. With or without the whipped cream, if you're a fan of banana puddin' pie this should not be missed. You'll definitely go bananas over this one :)


Salted Caramel Banana Pudding Pie

Adapted from Dessert First
Makes one 9-inch pie

• 1 box vanilla wafers (65 cookies)
• 6 tablespoons butter, melted
• 3 large ripe bananas
• salted caramel sauce plus 1 teaspoon fleur de sel, recipe follows
• Vanilla Pudding, recipe follows
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
• 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Put 45 vanilla wafers in a food processor and pulse until the cookies are finely crushed. Reserve 1/2 cup to top the pie. Stir together crushed vanilla wafers and butter in a small bowl until blended. Firmly press it into the bottom, up the sides, and onto the lip of a greased 9-inch pie plate. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove to a wire rack, and let cool until completely cool, about 30 minutes.
Coat the banana slices with salted caramel. Arrange half banana slices along with caramel sauce evenly over the bottom of the crust. Spread half of the Vanilla Pudding over the bananas, top with vanilla wafers, and remaining caramel-coated bananas. Spread the remaining filling over the vanilla wafers.
In a large bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Add the almond extract, and sugar and beat until peaks form. Make sure not to overbeat, or the cream will become lumpy, and butter-like. Spread the cream over the pie. At service, garnish with a caramel swirl, and the reserved vanilla wafer crumbs.

Caramel Sauce
• 3/4 cups sugar
• 3 tbs water
• 1/2 cup + 2 tbs heavy cream

Directions
Over moderate heat, mix the water, and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook until the sugar dissolves, about 5 to 10 minutes. Do not stir. Increase the heat to medium and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a warm chestnut brown (about 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer), about 5 to 7 minutes, gently swirling the pan to stir the mixture. Be careful - the mixture is extremely hot! Once it starts to smell smoky take it off the heat immediately.
Watch the mixture very carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Turn off the heat, and stand back to avoid splattering. Slowly add the cream. Don't panic - the cream will bubble violently, and the caramel will solidify.
Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. It will thicken as it sits. Once cool add fleur de sel.


Vanilla Pudding:
• 1.5 oz box instant vanilla pudding & pie filling (I used Jello Sugar free fat free)
• 3 cups cold 2% milk

In a bowl whisk together the pudding and milk for two minutes until thickened. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Salted Butter Caramel Apple Cheescake Bars with Streusel Topping


Cheesecake, apples, salted caramel, streusel topping - num num! All the classic flavors of fall wrapped into one lovely dessert. These bars are the perfect marriage of cheesecake and apple pie. Two American classics elevated with a modern twist. I love discovering new and innovative desserts.

Since Thanksgiving is next week these would make a great addition to your meal. I am always the person who wants to have new and innovative desserts for Thansgiving - like pumpkin whoopie pies instead of pumpkin pie, apple tarte tatin instead of apple pie. Who wouldn't want that?! Do I ever get to make these fun and exciting creations? Nope! Nada...zilch...nothing! I always get shafted and forced to make the traditional classics - BORING!


Well not this year! Hopefully I'll be able to convince Lobster to add these to our holiday table. They're rich, buttery, sweet and salty. Who could ask for more? Apple pie OUT - cheesecake bar IN! I served these to friends for dessert and after one bite one of them said, "oooh this is GOOD!" 'Nuff said!



Salted Butter Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping

Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Makes 9 large bars


Base:

1 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 sticks) butter, softened

Cream Cheese Layer:
1 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Apples:
1 1/2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened

*I used the caramel sauce from this recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, two tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine all the streusel topping ingredients and mix until crumbly. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, salt and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two forks until mixture is crumbly but combined. Press evenly into a 8x8-inch baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

While the crust is baking, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/4 cup sugar until smooth. Then add eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla. Mix well. Pour over the warm crust.

Spoon the apple mixture evenly over the cheesecake layer. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the apples. Bake for 30 minutes until the filling is set.

Cool the bars to room temperature then refrigerate until ready to eat. Drizzle with the caramel topping just before serving (or plate individual slices and drizzle with topping one by one). These taste best straight from the fridge

Enchilada Throwdown

please excuse the unattractive photo - enchiladas are not photogenic


Tonight we battled it out with enchiladas! I'm not big on Mexican food but I've always enjoyed eating enchiladas. Token's wife chose the theme for tonight so we faced off with two different kinds. Well, technically there was actually three. I made a roasted tomatillo salsa verde version and she made two different kinds - a similar sauce as mine and a more traditional one using a red sauce. Needless to say we had a ridiculous amount of food.

Our throwdown's have become a lot tamer now - no more trash talking or voting. Now it's more of a relaxing night to wine an dine and pack on a few pounds together. The enchiladas were well received and Token's wife made individual pumpkin mousses for dessert. They were delicious and put us into the ultimate food coma. Everyone felt a bit guilty after all the "healthy" food was consumed since we were watching a boxing fight on TV. Do you think they eat enchiladas for endurance while training? Oh well, we
must have burned a few calories through osmosis watching them jump around beating each other to an utter pulp, right?


Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa
4 to 5 servings
Adapted from Tyler Florence


Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa:
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked
  • 1 white onion, peeled, and quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 jalapenos, stemmed and deseeded
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

Enchiladas:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 deli roasted chicken (about 3 pounds), boned, meat shredded*
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • Chopped tomatoes and cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Guacamole, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

For the salsa:

On a baking tray, roast tomatillos (whole), onion, garlic and jalapenos for 20 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky. (If you would like to serve more salsa on the side, double the recipe)

Enchiladas:

Meanwhile heat a 2 count of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized - this should take 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin then cook for a further minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn't burn then gradually add the chicken stock to make a thick gravy sauce. Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. Turn off the heat, add half of the roasted tomatillo chile salsa, some additional fresh chopped cilantro and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Change the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees F and begin assembling the dish. Take a large baking dish and smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa. Now take the tortillas and briefly flash them over the stove-top flame (or put them briefly under the broiler if using an electric stove). Put a scoop of the shredded chicken-enchilada mix on top of the tortilla followed by a sprinkle of the shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll like a cigar to enclose it. Using a spatula place the tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all the tortillas. Finally pour over some more of the salsa and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top. Garnish, cilantro and tomato.

Serve hot with Spicy Black Beans and Yellow Rice, the remaining tomatillo salsa, sour cream and fresh guacamole, if desired.

*I poached 1 lb of skinless boneless chicken breasts instead. To poach the breasts you put them in one layer in a sauce pan. Cover them with water until just barely covered. Bring water to a boil. Then as soon as water boils, take it off the heat, put a lid on it and let it sit for about 15 minutes depending on how large your chickens are.

Fatwitch Bakery's Chocolate Conconut Pecan Congo Bars

"Excuse the tiny little bite in the corner of the bar - there was a mouse in the kitchen and he was the last one left of the bunch"


Ohhhh how I love me some sweet and salty desserts! If you've ever been to the famous Fatwich Bakery in New York you know they make sinfully delicious treats. I've had the brownies before but I've never eaten or seen these bars until I found them on another blogger's site.

My oh my are these suckers rich and dense! I ran into a bit of technical difficulty while baking them - just a little boo boo, nothing major. I accidentally under baked the bars by using an 8x8 pan instead of a 9x9 and apparently it makes a world of a difference if you're off by one little inch.

Since I followed the cooking time for the recipe my bars never quite "set up" and the crust was a bit runny. They were so fragile you pretty much had to eat them with a fork. At first bite my initial thought was holy richness!! I mean seriously - a large glass of milk was definitely needed! I gave one to Lobster and his reaction was, "Wow, so good - rich - but so good!" Talk about sticky, gooey, creamy and chewy! They were even a bit too rich IMO - which I never thought was humanly possible.

I took these to a potluck and my friends had the same reactions and everyone could only take a few bites. When I got home I put them in the fridge and pretty much forgot about them since I knew they were too sweet to eat. A couple days later Lobster asked to have one and again said they were "so good!" Of course curiosity got the best of me and I had to try them again. Since the crust "set up" in the fridge they could be eaten by hand and when I took a bite, OMG they tasted so much better! They were still rich but not overly sweet to the point where you had to stop at one bite. The salt in the crust helped balance out the overall sweetness of the bar and it was out of this world - a sweet and salty world! I don't know what miracle took place in the fridge but the taste of the bar changed and something turned into toffee mixed with an Almond Joy candy bar - LOVE IT! Damn Lobster for eating them again - must punish him! I think I'll serve him his favorite for dinner - brussel sprouts ^_^


Congo Bars by Fat Witch Bakery

Found on Savory Sweet Life blog but Reprinted by Permission by Rodale

Headnote from Patricia Helding: ” I think the name comes from the lineup of graham crackers, condensed milk, chocolate chips, and shredded coconut. This version doesn’t skimp on any of them and adds pecans to boot. These are a delicious after-soccer hit with kids, but if there’s a platter put in front of football-watching adults… they’ll be gone before halftime. You can make graham cracker crumbs in the food processor, or do it the old-fashioned way by putting whole crackers in a reasonable plastic bag and crushing them with a rolling pin.”

Ingredients:

Crust:

1/4 cup unbleached flour

1/3 teaspoon baking powder*

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 11 whole crackers, crushed)

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

Topping:

1 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut

1/2 cup semi-semi sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup milk chocolate chips

3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk**

1/3 cup chopped pecans or other nut (optional)

Instructions:

Grease a 9-inch x 9-inch baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350 F. degrees.

To make the crust, measure the flour, baking powder, and salt and then sift together into a medium bowl. Stir in the graham cracker crumbs and light brown sugar. Mix well. Cut the butter into a few pieces and mix into the dough with a fork until the dough is crumbly. Continue mixing with your hands until smooth. Spread the dough evenly in a thin layer in the prepared baking pan, pressing down with your hands. Bake for 10 minutes or until the crust is slightly golden. Remove from the oven and set aside. While the crust is cooling, prepare the topping.

Mix together the coconut, both chocolate chips, and the condensed milk with a spoon. Add the pecans, if desired. Spread the mixture evenly over the baked crust.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is well-set and light brown. Watch carefully at the end of baking time and do not let the top become too bubbly or dark. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 2 hours or until chocolate chips are no longer soft. Cut just before serving. Makes 12-16 bars


*1/3 teaspoon is a little more then 1/4 tsp but less then 1/2 tsp

**Substituted 1 cup of 2% evaporated milk and 1 1/4 cup of sugar heated it in a pan over low heat until all the sugar dissolved.


Daring Cooks Challenge: Spinach and Cheese Souffle


My little creations

so proud - standing straight and tall

oh no.....falling

...ugh, man down


"Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose Soufflés as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge! Dave and Linda provided many of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate soufflé recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website."

I've never made a souffle before so this was a new and exciting challenge for me. I'd only heard and seen how tempermental souffles were from clips in the movies. I'm sure you've seen those scenes where someone screams and a souffle collapses in the oven - yup, that was my envision before this challenge.

I'm glad I did a bit of research on souffles before I experimented with my own. During the last few minutes of baking I eagerly stalked watched them through the oven window as they slowly rose above the ramekins. Had I not known they would deflate the second you took them out of the oven - I think I would've gone into depression watching them wilt and collapse into a pile of mush. (Yes, mush is a foodie friendly word) The end result was an egg-y like custard-ish bite as light as a cloud. It was so light and fluffy it literally dissolved in your mouth.

The souffles would make a great dish to entertain with and one your guests will truly enjoy. They'll ooh and ahh once pulled from the oven and provide entertainment as everyone watches them fall to their destined fate. Your guests will feel special having their own personal dish, you'll look like a fancy shmancy cook, and be a kitchen rockstar. It's a win-win situation for all. Bon appetit!


Spinach and Cheese Souffle
4 servings
Adapted from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen


Note: This dish can be made ahead through step 7. Egg whites must be whipped just before the souffles are baked

1 Tbsp butter plus additional for the soufflé dish
1 3/4 Tbsp plain (all purpose) flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup finely grated cheese (I used Kerrygold Aged Cheddar Cheese and Val d' Aosta Fontina)
1/2 cup finely chopped spinach (this measure is the leaves after they’ve been washed, de-stemmed, and chopped)
2 room temperature large eggs, separated
1/4 tsp prepared mustard (Dijon)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar*
Salt and pepper to taste
* If you can’t find cream of tartar, a dash (~ 1/4 tsp) of lemon juice can be substituted

Directions:
1. Butter the soufflé dish(es) thoroughly -for the sides of the ramekin I buttered them using upward and downward motions so this would help the souffle climb - do not butter top of ramekin, then grate a small amount of cheese in each dish and tap so that the sides are completely and evenly coated with the cheese. Place the dish(es) in the refrigerator until needed (according to some sites, this helps the soufflé climb).
2. Preheat the oven to moderate 350º F
3. Wash and chop the spinach if you haven’t already.
4. Finely grate the cheeses
5. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook 1 minute, then add the milk, a little at a time, and stir until just thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the cheese and mustard and stir until it’s just melted. Remove from heat then add the watercress and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the mixture cool a bit getting it to lukewarm temperature is best.
6. In a larger pan, bring water to a gentle simmer. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl set just over this water until pale and slightly foamy – about 6 minutes. (I ended up cooking the egg yolks in my first attempt so I just whisked the egg yoks in a separate bowl instead of over water)
7. Mix the egg yolks into the spinach sauce.
8. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until they form stiff peaks yet are still glossy.
9. Fold the egg whites into the sauce in 3 additions so that it’s evenly mixed, but you don’t lose too much volume.
10. Remove the soufflé dish from the refrigerator and spoon the mix into it. Use a spatula to even the tops of the soufflés and wipe off any spills around edges and wipe around the edges of the ramekins making a little edge between the souffle and the dish as this apparently makes them rise much neater
11. Bake 25 minutes for small dishes or 40 minutes if using a large soufflé dish, tops should be golden and firm to the touch in the center. Serve immediately.

Mix-n-Match Applesauce Granola


Wow, two granola recipes in one week? Well, the first batch was so wonderful I found myself craving more. But this time I thought I'd try something a little less festive since my last granola recipe called for pumpkin. It also might have to do with the fact that I don't enjoy making the same thing twice unless it's filed under NuM NuM, so of course I had to search the Internet for another recipe. This one was slightly different and tasted like a traditional granola. Although I must admit I did enjoy my last batch more - maybe because it reminded me of a pumpkin pie and who wouldn't want that for breakfast - but this was delicious as well. So if you're lookin' to switch up your morning routine from bacon and eggs, granola would be a great start.


Mix-n-Match Applesauce Granola
Recipe from Baking Bites
8 servings

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 cups puffed rice cereal (I used all oats)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup plain sweetened applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
up to 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts
up to 1 cup dried fruit
nut suggestions: almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, etc
dried fruit suggestions: cranberries, raisins, apricots, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.

Preheat the oven to 325F and line a large baking sheet (or two smaller sheets) with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine oats, puffed rice cereal, and spices. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, applesauce (do not use chunky applesauce), maple syrup and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients along with chopped nuts and stir to combine. Spread on prepared baking sheet(s) in an even layer.
Bake for 30 minutes in center of oven, then turn over the granola carefully using a large wide spatula, and bake for additional 10-15 minutes, until crisp and golden. Depending on the size of your baking sheet, the center might not be fully dried if your granola layer is thick, so if necessary remove the edges of the cooked granola to a cooling rack and let the rest cook for another 10-15 minutes until done.
Cool on pan or on a wire rack.
Break granola up as desired and stir in dried fruit. Store in an airtight container. If you put it in the fridge it will last longer.

Cheesy Baked Farro


Farro is a fairly new ingredient for me, but ever since I discovered it its become a new fave. It's a grain made from wheat and has a great chewy texture similar to barley, but a bit nuttier. So not only does it taste good, but it's healthy for you too. Ummm...except I don't know how healthy it is smothered in cheese and bathed in a creamy sauce. Could it be a healthy balance?

If you're trying to imagine how this dish tastes - think mac 'n cheese but with a chewy bite. The sauce had a fabulous flavor since the recipe called for three different cheeses - which made it even more heavenly. Even though it was delicious in all its cheesy gooey goodness, we could only eat a small amount since it was so rich and dense because of the farro. But I guess this turned out to be a blessing in disguise since I don't want to imagine how much damage we would've done had it been made with pasta. So if you try this dish I would suggest substituting pasta for the farro. However you may have to change the measurements depending on how many cups the farro cooks up to be. Say cheeeese :)


Cheesy Baked Farro
Recipe from Giada at Home
8 servings


* Vegetable cooking spray

Sauce:

* 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 2 cups 2% milk
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Farro:

* 2 1/2 cups grated Parmesan (I used sharp white cheddar)
* 1 cup grated Gruyere
* 1/2 cup fontina cheese, grated (Val d' Aosta)
* 6 cups chicken broth
* 2 cups faro or barley, rinsed and drained
* 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper*
* 1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
* Olive oil, for drizzling

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

For the sauce: In a 2-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 8 minutes (do not allow the mixture to boil).

For the farro: In a large bowl, add the cheeses and stir to combine. Remove 1/2 cup of the mixture and reserve. In a large stock pot, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the farro, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the faro is tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, if necessary. Add the farro, thyme, and sauce to the bowl with the cheese. Stir until combined and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with the reserved 1/2 cup of cheese. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake until the top is golden brown and forms a crust, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

*I would season the dish after you mix the bechamel with the cheese mixture since it's already pretty salty because of the cheese.

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes with Swiss Meringe Buttercream




To celebrate my mom's birthday I made her these cute little cupcakes. I love eating my own individual dessert so I thought she'd enjoy these more then getting a regular birthday cake - uhh....apparently we were celebrating my birthday, not hers.

Swiss meringue buttercream and I have never gotten along and today was no different. That was until genius here took a closer look at the list of ingredients and realized it said 6 ounces of butter, not 6 tablespoons - moron! No wonder my frosting mixture was soupy. I made two different batches and tried to fix the freaking frosting for literally two hours until I eventually gave up. And yes, we're referring to it as the "freaking" frosting because after failing miserably - curse words were shouted and I was not a happy baker. The only way I was able to salvage the frosting and make it "semi" pipe-able was to add an entire box of confectioners sugar. Even then it still didn't hold its shape and it too must have become depressed and began to melt. Thank goodness the taste made up for its lackluster appearance because these were good! I mean real GOOD - like the I don't care if my ass gets big kinda good!

The cupcakes were refreshingly light and had the perfect balance of sweet and tart. The raspberry and lemon flavors added to the lightness and sent me to cupcake heaven. I enjoyed these so much I would deem them my new favorite cupcakes. I promise the taste will be like no other you've had before. Coconut milk, lemon, and lemon zest provide the base for the cupcakes and keep them moist, soft, and crumbly. The flavors are very complex but not intense and the taste is just phenomenal. Trust me - you must try these on for size. They make red velvets seem like last season's fad. Run, don't walk - or run but only after you make these - you can thank me later :)


Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes
Adapted from Love and Olive Oil
Makes 11 cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup full fat coconut milk (A Taste of Thai, Cocoonut Milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Frosting:
2 ounces (1/4 cup) of fresh raspberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
6 ounces unsalted butter (12 Tbs), at room temperature*
2 tablespoons lemon juice (approximately 1 large lemon)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat oven to 350?F.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add sugar and brown sugar and mix. Whisk together oil, coconut milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until relatively smooth it will still be a bit lumpy - I used the folding method. Fill cupcake liners with a scant 1/4 cup of batter (should be just under 2/3 of the way full). Since I was only able to get 11 cupcakes, I added water to the empty muffin tin. This may have helped add more moisture to the cupcakes. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden, and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

To make frosting, first wash raspberries and toss them into a food processor. Puree berries and push them through a fine sieve to remove the seeds and set aside.

Add sugar and egg whites into a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels warm to the touch, about 3 minutes. Poke your finger into the mixture and rub fingers together. If the mixture does not feel grainy that means the sugar is melted. (I've read on another blog it's important to get the temperature of the sugar mixture to 140 degrees to create a stiff frosting - so I may try that next time) Remove the bowl from the heat. Wipe off condensation from bottom of bowl and then put mixture into stand mixer bowl.

Using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until the mixture holds stiff peak and bowl is cool to the touch, about 8 minutes.

Switch to paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium low speed, beat in the butter, one tablespoons at a time. Making sure all butter has been incorporated before adding more. If the mixture separates after all butter has been added, beat on medium high speed for a few more minutes, the buttercream will become glossy and smooth again. Once the buttercream is thick and smooth, gradually beat in the lemon juice, vanilla and raspberry puree on low speed, until well incorporated and frost cupcakes. Or if you are frosting later put the frosting in the fridge.

When ready to use, bring the buttercream to room temperature and rewhisk it either by hand or a mixer to bring it to pipe-able consistency

*Butter should not be too soft. You should be able to make an indentation with your finger in the butter

**Since I did not read the directions properly, I only added 6 tbs of butter and then added a whole box of confectioners sugar to sweeten up the frosting and then about another tbs of lemon juice to balance out the flavors. I'm sure the frosting would actually set up and be pipe-able if you used all 12 tbs of butter. My frosting did not hold its shape very well but the taste was heavenly.


Pumpkin Bread


I have been making this Pumpkin Bread for years and it is always a hit! Since the biggest eating holiday of the year is coming up, this would make a great addition to your table. I like to serve it when guests first arrive so they have something to munch on before the main event. What better way to begin a day full of eating then with a perfectly moist slice of pumpkin bread. Don't forget it's healthy too - good for the heart and tummy :)


Pumpkin Bread

Recipe from Cooking Light
2 loaves
1 slice = 198 calories


Ingredients

  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (about 15 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through allspice) in a bowl.

Place sugar, egg substitute, oil, buttermilk, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add 2/3 cup water and pumpkin, beating at low speed until blended. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Spoon batter into 2 (9 x 5-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle pecans evenly over batter. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

Homemade Ricotta and Gnocchi


This weekend we celebrated Lobster and my father-in-law's birthday and it was a glutinous night of eating. Apparently this seems to be the ongoing theme in my life ever since I got married. We feasted on steaks, pizza made with my favorite dough, and these ricotta gnocchis. I've never been a fan of ricotta anything, but after making my own cheese at home, I am now a believer! Who knew how simple it is to make your own ricotta?! It is so different then anything you'd get from the store and there's absolutely no comparison. The gnocchis cooked up to be light pillowy puffs of tasteless clouds that literally dissolved in your mouth. While I was pleased with the texture of the gnocchi, I found them to be quite bland (i.e. the tasteless cloud analogy) and the brown butter sauce didn't add much flavor to the finished dish. That was probably my own fault though, but I imagine this would be fabulous with a stronger flavored sauce, so I'm determined to revisit this recipe! I'd say for my first attempt at gnocchi it was a semi-success, but a tremendous labor of love. So if you're looking for a weekend project, this would be a great start. If you're intimated by the gnocchi - do not forgo the the ricotta, it was simply delightful.


Homemade Ricotta
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Makes about 3 cups of ricotta


1 gallon whole organic milk (Horizon brand)
1 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup lemon juice

Using a large heavy bottomed pot heat the milk over medium heat for about 15 minutes until temperature register 185F on a candy thermometer stirring continuously so milk does not scorch. Take pot off the heat and slowly stir in lemon juice until fully incorporated for about 10 seconds. You will begin to see curds forming. Stop stirring since you don't want to disturb the curds separating from the whey. Leave undisturbed for 5 minutes. If milk does not turn translucent and is still milky add one more tablespoon of lemon juice and stir slowly until incorporated and leave to set for another 5 minutes. Continue this process until liquid turns opaque. After curds have formed, leave undisturbed for 20 minutes.

Line colander or large strainer with double layer of cheesecloth and set over sink. Drain the liquid into cheesecloth and allow to drain until you see no more liquid draining from the colander. Use immediately or transfer to an air tight container and refrigerate up to three days.


Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi from The Zuni Café Cookbook
Yield: Makes 40 to 48 gnocchi (serves 4 to 6)

Ingredients:

For the gnocchi:

  • 1 pound (454 grams/16 ounces) fresh ricotta (2 cups)
  • 2 large cold eggs, lightly beaten (do not over beat)
  • 1 tablespoon (½ ounce) unsalted butter
  • 2 or 3 fresh sage leaves, or a few pinches of freshly grated nutmeg, or a few pinches of chopped lemon zest (all optional)
  • ½ ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (about ¼ cup very lightly packed)
  • about ¼ teaspoon salt (a little more if using kosher salt)
  • all-purpose flour for forming the gnocchi

For the gnocchi sauce:

  • 8 tablespoons (227 grams/1/4 pound/4 ounces) butter, sliced
  • 12 sage leaves

Directions:

  1. Step 1 (the day before you make the gnocchi): Preparing the ricotta. If the ricotta is too wet, your gnocchi will not form properly. In her cookbook, Judy Rodgers recommends checking the ricotta’s wetness. To test the ricotta, take a teaspoon or so and place it on a paper towel. If you notice a very large ring of dampness forming around the ricotta after a minute or so, then the ricotta is too wet. To remove some of the moisture, line a sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels and place the ricotta in the sieve. Cover it and let it drain for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can wrap the ricotta carefully in cheesecloth (2 layers) and suspend it in your refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours with a bowl underneath to catch the water that’s released. Either way, it’s recommended that you do this step the day before you plan on making the gnocchi.
  2. Step 2 (the day you plan on eating the gnocchi): Making the gnocchi dough. To make great gnocchi, the ricotta has to be fairly smooth. Place the drained ricotta in a large bowl and mash it as best as you can with a rubber spatula or a large spoon (it’s best to use a utensil with some flexibility here). Push the ricotta through a strainer so you make it as smooth as possible. Add the lightly beaten eggs, melted butter, parmesan and salt to the mashed ricotta. (If you are using other fixin's - when you melt the tablespoon of butter. As it melts, add in the sage if you’re using it. If not, just melt the butter and add it to the ricotta mixture.) Add in any flavouring that you’re using (i.e., nutmeg, lemon zest, etc.). If you’re not using any particular flavouring, that’s fine. Beat all the ingredients together very well. (You want to quickly beat the mixture when you begin beating. When I watched the video of them making this they first began beating the mixture by scooping along the side of the bowl then began using a scooping motion starting at the sides of the bowl and scooping in towards the middle while turning the bowl. Keep beating like this until you start to see the mixture cleanly pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Here is a link to the video.) You should end up with a soft and fluffy batter with no streaks (everything should be mixed in very well).
  3. Step 3: Forming the gnocchi. Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. When it boils, salt the water generously and keep it at a simmer. You will use this water to test the first gnocchi that you make to ensure that it holds together and that your gnocchi batter isn’t too damp. In a large, shallow baking dish or on a sheet pan, make a bed of all-purpose flour that’s ½ an inch deep. With a spatula, scrape the ricotta mixture away from the sides of the bowl and form a large mass in the centre of your bowl. Using a tablespoon, scoop up about 2 to 3 teaspoons of batter and then holding the spoon at an angle, use your finger tip to gently push the ball of dough from the spoon into the bed of flour. At this point you can either shake the dish or pan gently to ensure that the flour covers the gnocchi or use your fingers to very gently dust the gnocchi with flour. Gently pick up the gnocchi and cradle it in your hand rolling it to form it in an oval as best as you can, at no point should you squeeze it. What you’re looking for is an oval lump of sorts that’s dusted in flour and plump. Gently place your gnocchi in the simmering water. It will sink and then bob to the top. From the time that it bobs to the surface, you want to cook the gnocchi until it’s just firm. This could take 3 to 5 minutes. If your gnocchi begins to fall apart, this means that the ricotta cheese was probably still too wet. You can remedy this by beating a teaspoon of egg white into your gnocchi batter. If your gnocchi batter was fluffy but the sample comes out heavy, add a teaspoon of beaten egg to the batter and beat that in. Test a second gnocchi to ensure success. Form the rest of your gnocchi. You can put 4 to 6 gnocchi in the bed of flour at a time. But don’t overcrowd your bed of flour or you may damage your gnocchi as you coat them. Have a sheet pan ready to rest the formed gnocchi on. Line the sheet pan with wax or parchment paper.You can cook the gnocchi right away, however, Judy Rodgers recommends storing them in the refrigerator for an hour prior to cooking to allow them to firm up. You can keep them covered in the fridge for about 6 hours.
  4. Step 4: Cooking the gnocchi. Place the 8 tablespoons of butter in a 12-inch skillet; set aside. Bring 2 to 3 quarts water to a simmer in a wide pan, 10 or more inches in diameter, so the gnocchi won't crush each other too much as they push to the surface. You want them to be able to float in one even layer. A sauté pan, flared brasier, or saucier pan will work, as long as it is at least 2 inches deep. Salt the water liberally—about 1 teaspoon per 4 cups of water. Add the gnocchi one by one, adjusting the heat to maintain the simmer. Dip your fingertips in water if you find they are sticking to the gnocchi, but don't fret if the gnocchi stick a little to the paper. Do avoid holding the tray of gnocchi in the steam. Cook the gnocchi as you did the sample, until just firm, 3 to 5 minutes from the time they float. You can taste it to check that its done or hold it up with your fingers and the gnocchi should be able to hold its shape and not fall on itself. Meanwhile, as soon as the gnocchi float to the surface, place the pan of butter and water over medium heat. Swirl the pan as the butter melts and begins to seethe. As soon as the butter is completely melted and has turned into an opaque pale yellow sauce, turn off the heat. Let it get golden brown but not dark brown or else the butter will burn. Turn off heat, add the sage leaves and swirl the pan a few more times. Lift the gnocchi out with a slotted spoon or skimmer, slide into the ready skillet, and roll in the warm butter sauce. Serve instantly in warm bowls.

Pumpkin Granola



Doesn't that photo just scream Fall to you! Coincidentally, that's me in the photo and as you can tell I was uber excited to play with leaves and see an orange tree. :) I love it when summer ends, days become colder, and the air turns crisp. It's a sure sign the winter months are near and sweater season is a comin'. Lobster and I went to Boston for the weekend and I was mesmerized by all the beautiful foliage there. Sadly, after spending a few days on the East Coast I had to return to the ugly green and brown trees of California. It's times like these I wish I lived in a city that has more then two seasons.

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I thought I'd embrace the holiday early and make something pumpkin-y. I don't know about you, but anything involving pumpkin reminds me of Fall and Turkey Day. Hence, I bring you pumpkin granola - a healthy way to start your day off right.


I consider this healthy because there's no butter or oil binding the ingredients together. Pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and applesauce work as the "glue" and add just a touch of sweetness to the granola. The pumpkin flavor was not overwhelming in the least bit and if anything, it probably could've been a bit sweeter IMO. Since there's hardly any fat in the recipe, you don't get the same crunchy texture as you would in store bought granola - this produces a moister granola with a chewier consistency, which I didn't mind. I had some this morning with milk but it would be wonderful as a yogurt topping as well. Enjoy.


Pumpkin Granola
Adapted from Baking Bites

5 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
¾ tsp sea salt
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup applesauce
¼ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pepitas

1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, spices, and salt. Mix well.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, pumpkin puree, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Pour wet ingredients into oat mixture and stir until the oats are evenly coated. They will be moist. Evenly spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and stir. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the granola is golden and crisp. Add the nuts during the last 10 minutes of baking so they do not burn. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Stir in dried cranberries and store in an airtight container.

*To make your own pumpkin pie spice mix 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp ginger, ¼ tsp all spice together to make 1 tbs and use as directed.

**Note-serve granola with yogurt, milk, or enjoy plain.

***Granola will keep for one week or if you store it in an air-tight container in the fridge it will keep for months

Variation: I have omitted the pumpkin spice and added 2 tbs of pumpkin butter and used 3 tbs of maple syrup instead of 1/4 cup and also used unsweetened applesauce