Category Archives: fall

Individual Pumpkin Pies with Gingersnap Crusts

Since I recently acquired individual size tart pans, individual sized pumpkin pies seemed perfect for this time of year. I didn’t go with the typical pumpkin pie recipe that usually calls for sweetened condensed milk. Instead I added cream cheese, which made the pie so deliciously creamy, almost like a cheesecake, but not. You’ll have to try it and see for yourself, but you’ll never go back to an ordinary recipe.

In order to avoid cracks, you want to bake the pie(s) low and slow, preferably in a water bath to prevent the edges from baking too quickly. I do my pies at 325 degrees for about 50 minutes. The middle should still be wiggly when you remove the pie from the oven.

For the crust, I ground up gingersnap cookies, but you can use traditional pie crust or graham crackers as well. If you go with gingersnaps or graham crackers, a good rule of thumb is to mix about 1 tbs melted butter with 1 cup ground crackers. You want the crackers to be moist, but not soaked in butter. Pre-bake the crust at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes. Make sure the crust is hot when you put the filling in. You do not need to pre-bake the crust in a water bath.

Pumpkin Pie (Oven: 325 degrees)

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions

Preheat the oven for the pie filling to 325 degrees F. The crust should already be baked.

For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add the eggs mixed with the yolks, half-and-half, and melted butter, and beat until combined. Finally, add the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg and beat until incorporated.

Pour the filling into the warm prepared pie crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set. Place the pie on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate. Pumpkin Pie is always best after it sits in the refrigerator for awhile before serving.

This makes a lot of filling. Enough for 1 pie or lots of individual pies. Leftover filling will hold in the refrigerator for about 3 days. You can also freeze the filling.

As a perfect addition, grab some heavy whipping cream and whip it up for the top of the pie. It takes 3 mins and tastes delicious!

Maple Cookies

 My mom was in the city the other day and we went to my new favorite store: Fishs Eddy. They have the coolest plates, bakeware, and cookware. They also have lots of cookie cutters and I don’t have any. I wanted to make maple cookies for the fall and thought it would be fun to cut them into squirrels and leaves. The leaves look a little more like Christmas trees when held upright like in the picture below, but I like to think they’re leaves. 


When making this recipe I used pure Grade A maple syrup. There’s some debate as to whether or not you should use Grade A or Grade B and, after making these cookies, I have to say Grade B is the way to go. Grade B is mostly used for cooking and baking because it has a very strong maple flavor and a darker color. I had Grade A on hand so the cookies have a very subtle maple flavor even though I brushed them with additional maple syrup after baking. Next time I will definitely go with Grade B and trim down the amount added to the recipe by a little bit.
This recipe is adapted from one I found on Martha Stewart’s website. I’m reading this book called BakeWise right now by Shirley O. Corriher and am learning about different ingredients and what constitutes a good recipe, so I will be doing more and more adapting in the future. For right now, though, I pretty much stuck to the ingredients and amounts listed, but changed up the method a little bit. Oh and I definitely suggest cutting the recipe in half because the cookies only hold for up to 2 days.


Ingredients:


3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light-brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup maple syrup (preferably grade A)- They suggest A, but B will give a more pronounced flavor
More sugar for dusting


Directions:


1- Sift flour and salt into a medium bowl
2- Beat butter, granulated and brown sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes
3- Reduce speed to medium-low, and add yolk, then 1/2 cup maple syrup, beating well after each addition
4- Add flour mixture, and beat until just incorporated
5- Shape into 2 disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days)
6- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
7- Roll out 1 disk of dough to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on baking sheet. Freeze until firm (It’s important to freeze because this makes the dough easier to handle)
8- Spray baking sheets with non-stick spray
9- Remove dough from freezer and cut shapes. Roll and cut scraps one time more. Any leftover scraps can be made into circular cookies
10- Bake until edges turn brown (about 10 mins). While first batch are in the oven, repeat steps 7-9 with second disk
11- Remove cookies from oven and let cool on a wire rack before brushing with maple syrup and dusting with sugar.


You can find this and other recipes at: Maple Leaf Cookies – Martha Stewart Recipes 

Apple Crisp with Maple Syrup and Walnuts

The birthday dinner for Jim included buscuit topped chicken pot pie made with homemade chicken stock, salad, red wine, and for dessert, apple crisp. I won’t bore you with the dinner details, I’ll just get to the good part- the dessert. Apple crisp is an easy fall dessert- made even easier if you have an apple slicer, which I recently acquired. Nothing can stop me now ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s only a few ingredients-many of which you probably already have on hand.

I used maple syrup in the recipe, but if you don’t have that, you can use plain sugar. I’ll note that below. Also, the walnuts are optional.

Ingredients:
Oven: 375
Pan: 8″ square baking dish

3/4 cups flour
1/2 a cup of light brown sugar
1 stick cold butter cut into pieces (make sure it’s COLD- don’t prep this step ahead of time)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup oats (not quick cooking)
3 lbs apples (I used 5 medium ones) peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks (Add some lemon juice to prevent browning- enough to coat)
1/4 cup maple syrup or 1/2 cup plain sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon (1/2 tsp if you don’t like strong cinnamon flavors)
walnuts (optional)

Directions:

1- In a small bowl, mix together flour, salt,ย and brown sugar
2- Blend in the butter with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse crumbs
3- Add in the oats and walnuts (optional) and squeeze with hands until large clumps form- put in the freezer
4- In a medium bowl, add the apples, maple syrup or sugar, and cinnamon- stir to combine
5- Add the apples to the baking dish and spread topping over apples being sure to cover all of the apples
6- Place baking dish on a cookie sheet to prevent over browning the apples. Bake 55-60 minutes until topping is browned and apples are bubbling.
7- Let cool about 10 mins before serving

And don’t forget the vanilla ice cream!

Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon Glaze

I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve baked with pumpkin this season, but I guess that’s probably because we’ve been apple picking twice already. Yesterday I bought a huge can of pumpkin and began my pumpkin baking with scones. These scones are pretty similar to the ones ar Starbucks. They’re baked at a higher temperature, so they’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Buttermilk is also used instead of butter to make them less dense. I didn’t add anything additional into the mix, but you can choose to add raisins, craisins, or nuts. After baking them, you can also choose to make a cinnamon glaze to drizzle over the cooled scones.

Ingredients:
Oven: 400 degrees
Makes 8 scones

2 cups flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 – 1/2 cup buttermilk (Start with 1/3 cup and add more liquid if the dough feels too dry)
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the egg wash: 1 egg, lightly beaten and 1 tbs milk

Directions:
Prepare baking sheet by either lining with parchment paper or spraying with non-stick spray and pouring flour over it- tap off excess.

1- Mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking poweder, baking soda, salt
2- Add the butter to the flour mixture and cut in with a pastry blender. The mixture should resemble course crumbles
3- At this point, stir in any raisins, etc.
4- In another bowl, mix together pumpkin, buttermilk, vanilla and add this to the flour mixture
5- Mix until dough comes together- don’t overmix
6- Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead four to five times
7- Pat dough into a circle about 7″ in diameter and 1.5″ thick- Cut in half and then cut each half into 4 pieces
8- Brush with the egg wash
9- Put scones on baking sheet and put another baking sheet underneath to prevent overbrowing in the hot oven. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean
10- Let cool on wire rack. Once cool, you can make the drizzle (recipe below).

Cinnamon Drizzle:

3/4 cup powdered sugar
milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1- Add enough milk to make a paste
2- Stir in cinnamon
3- Spoon over cooled scones

Apple Bread

I made apple bread because we had extra apples from apple picking and I had already made an apple pie. I’ve made pumpkin bread a bunch and thought this would be something different, but I’m still on the fence about how the loaves came out. I think the apple chunks were a little big. The bread kind of had an awkward texture. If I make this again, I will definitely cut the apples smaller even though the recipe says to coarsely chop them. Also, if you want to make lower fat bread, use applesauce instead of the oil. You can also use half white and half brown sugar. You can also use half whole wheat flour and
half white flour. Don’t use all whole wheat flour as this will yield a dessert which is very dense. There are tons of variations, which will alter both the flavor and the texture of the recipe. I made the recipe as directed, but these alterations might bring welcome changes to the recipe.


You can enjoy the apple bread toasted with a little bit of cream cheese. Or you can make these into cupcakes and top them with cream cheese frosting:)


The recipe is from allrecipes.com


Ingredients:
Oven: 350 degrees


3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups apples- peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped (I would suggest smaller chunks)
1 cup walnuts (smashed into small pieces)


Directions:
1- In bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. 
2- In large mixing bowl, place oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla and apples. 
3- Stir into flour mixture. Add walnuts and mix. 
4- Divide mixture between two greased 8-in. x 4-in. bread pans. 
5- Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until bread test done. 
6- Cool for 10 minutes on wire rack before removing from oven. 


(picture from yogurtland.com)

Apple Pie

Normally I follow recipes, or at the very least the skeleton of a recipe. I might add my own little extra into a recipe, but I never go into the kitchen without some idea of where I am headed, but yesterday I took the leap. Apple pie seemed like a good start for this- it’s pretty hard to mess up and we just went apple picking on Sunday, so we have an abundance of apples!

The recipe I ended up creating is pretty similar to lots of recipes out there.

For the crust, I used, once again, Martha Stewart’s recipe found here: http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/our-favorite-pie-crust
Be sure to double the recipe for apple pie. But don’t double the butter, use about a stick and half.
My Apple Pie Recipe:
Oven: 375 degrees
Ingredients:
2 9″ pie crusts (See above link)
Peel and thinly slice apples (I used 1 pretty large and 4 smaller sized apples)
Lemon Juice
1 cup Flour
1 cup White sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar (I used dark)
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Cinnamon (plus additional for sprinkling)
a splash of Apple Cider Vinegar
Walnuts (optional)
1 tbsp Butter
Milk
Directions:
1- Once apples are cut, add a splash of lemon juice to prevent browning.
2- In the same bowl, add the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and splash of cider vinegar (enough to coat the apples). Mix everything together. The mixture should coat the apples with a little leftover on the bottom of the bowl.
3- Add in the walnuts, if you choose.
4- Put the apple mixture into the pie crust
5- Cut butter into thin slices and place around apples in crust
6- Put top crust on pie
7- Brush milk on top of crust
8- Sprinkle cinnamon on top
To bake: Put foil around the crust to prevent burning. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, take the foil off and bake for another 20-25 minutes. Crust should be a golden brown color.

Pecan Pie

I made two pies recently. I made pumpkin pie using the same recipe that I had already posted and I also made pecan pie, which was a first for me. I found a recipe on foodnetwork.com that looked good. I have no experience with this type of pie, but this looked like a typical recipe. Anyway, it came out well, except the crust stuck a lot to the pie plate for some reason. I may spray the plate with non-stick spray next time to see if that works. I also think I baked it a little too long. The recipe says to bake until the edges are set, but the middle is still fluffy and I think I just left it in the oven too long, but it still tasted good.

The recipe says to toast the pecans and that’s highly recommended because it added a nice toasty flavor to the pie. Only toast the pecans once you chop them coarsely because the more surface area to toast, the better they taste. To toast pecans, set the oven to 400 degrees and place the pecans on a baking sheet. I’d say keep them in the oven for about 5 minutes, turning them once. You want to see that they have browned, but are not too brown.

And I skipped the bourbon.

Oh, for the crust, I used the same recipe I posted with the pumpkin pie, so you can find that there. But you’ll want to pre-bake it. So once you make the crust, stick something heavy on the bottom so it doesn’t crack /or bubble, cover the crust in foil, bake at 400 degrees for 20 mins., remove the foil, reduce heat to 350 and bake 10 mins. or until golden.
Here’s the recipe:
(recipe courtesy of foodnetwork.com)
Happy Baking! Sorry no picture; it was eaten before I thought of taking one:(

Oven: 350 degrees
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 cups chopped toasted pecans
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten




In medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and stirring constantly, continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts, bourbon, and the vanilla. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. (If the crust has cooled, return it to the oven for 5 minutes to warm through.) Whisk the beaten eggs into the filling until smooth. Put the pie shell on a sheet pan and pour the filling into the hot crust.
Bake on the lower oven rack until the edges are set but the center is still slightly loose, about 40 to 45 minutes. (If the edges get very dark, cover them with aluminum foil half way during baking.) Cool on a rack. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.

Pumpkin Pie with a Graham Cracker Crust

Pumpkin pie is such a traditional fall treat. It makes the apartment smell so wonderful. For my pumpkin pies, I like to use a graham cracker crust. Also, instead of the traditional evaporated milk, I like to use sweetened condensed milk and then omit any other sugar from the recipe. I think the sweetened condensed milk makes the pie fluffier. Even though I’m not adding any sugar to the pie itself, I like to add some brown sugar to the top of the pie, kind of like a streusal topping. A nice addition to the streusal topping could be walnuts. You’ll see in the picture to the left that I did not spread the topping all over the pie, but that is definitely something you could do. Also, one last thing, I never measure any of the spices I add; I think that’s a bit boring. I also usually only use cinnamon and nutmeg in my pies; I just don’t like the taste of ginger. And if you have fine sea salt, use that.

Graham Cracker Crust:

1.5 cups finely ground graham crackers
6 tbs butter- melted
1/3 cup sugar

Use a rolling pin to mash the graham crackers. Put them in a bowl and add the sugar. Finally add the butter to this mixture and blend with spoon until all the dry ingredients are coated with butter.
Press into a 9″ pie plate.

Bake this at 375 degrees for 7 minutes. 

Pie Filling:

(Recipe courtesy of sparkpeople.com username jkaplan86, but with my substitutions)

15 oz pumpkin (not pie filling)
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 425.
Mix all ingredients together. Place in the already baked crust.
Cover the crust with a thin strip of foil so it does not burn.
Bake at this temperature for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 35-40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
After about 30 minutes in the oven, remove the foil and add the streusal topping. Before doing this, however, stick a knife in the middle, it should look fairly clean. You don’t want to take the foil off and put the topping on too early.

Enjoy with whipped cream /or vanilla ice cream!

Apple Crumble Pie

Yesterday we did the quintessential fall activity…apple picking and pumpkin picking. I even got a mum. So of course I had to make an apple pie. I don’t like apple pies with a top and bottom crust so instead I make apple crumble pies with a bottom crust and a streusal topping.

I’m not a master homemade crust maker at all, but I refuse to buy pre-made crusts. My crusts never come out looking pretty, but they always taste alright, so I suggest you try making your own crust because it really isn’t that hard.

After much experimentation, this is my recipe for a single crust pie:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup shortening
pinch salt
enough water to form a ball

Combine the flour, salt, and shortening with a pastry blender or your hands:)
Put in a little water at a time while working to form the dough into a ball. Use as little water as possible to form the ball.

After forming the ball, it’s a good idea to refrigerate it for a little bit because that makes it easier to roll out, but that’s totally up to you.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and transfer to a 9″ pie dish leaving a 1″ overhang. Make a pretty edge with the overhang if you want.

Here’s the pie recipe:

5 cups apples – peeled, cored and thinly sliced- add some lemon juice to prevent browning. Put in a bowl
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Topping:
1/3 cup white sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter

Here’s an alternate topping recipe:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C.) 
  • Mix 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over apples. 
  • Put this mixture in the pie dish
  • Make the topping recipe of your choice. For both recipes, you will combine the dry ingredients and cut in the butter to make a crumbly topping. 
  • Spoon topping over apples. Be sure to cover all the apples.
  • Cut a thin strip of foil. Cover the edges of the pie crust with the foil and bake like this for the first 30-35 mins. Take the foil off and bake for the remaining time (about 5-10 mins). The top should be browned and the apples soft to the touch.

Here’s how it should look when it goes in the oven:

You should let the pie cool all the way before serving so the juices soak up. You don’t want to freak out when you think you’ve made a pie that’s too liquidy! Don’t forget the ice cream!

Pumpkin Donut Holes

 
It’s not like we don’t already have a huge chocolate cake in the refrigerator already, but I decided to make pumpkin pie donut holes anyway just for fun. I’m sure they’ll get eaten ๐Ÿ˜‰
They don’t come out perfectly round like the ones at Dunkin Donuts, but that’s ok. These are unique and not done by some machine.
The recipe says to use a quart of oil, but that’s WAY too much. I’d say to use about 2″. Make sure to keep the temperature at a steady 375 degrees or else they might come out heavy and oily.  Otherwise, this is a really easy and fun recipe!
Pumpkin Donut Holes
(recipe courtesy of cooks.com)
1 1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
1/4 c. milk- I used skim
2 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Oil for deep frying
In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg; blend well. Combine pumpkin, milk, oil, vanilla and egg.
Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.In deep fat fryer or heavy saucepan, heat 1 quart oil to 375 degrees.
Drop by teaspoonfuls into hot oil, 5-6 at a time.
Fry doughnut drops 1-1 1/2 minutes on each side until brown.
Drain on paper towel.

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; roll warm doughnuts in mixture.
Makes 30-36 doughnut drops.