Sloan’s apple pies

Sloan and I love to be baking in the kitchen together, and most days we would make our own pie dough, but for a little after school baking time, these individual frozen pie tart shells are fantastic. This amazing little granddaughter is only 6, but she did this totally on her own, with a little verbal guidance while I helped 3 year old Stella make biscuits, which believe me – takes all my attention!  Before I know it, this little one will be teaching Nana!

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For 12 tarts:

  • 1 1/2 cups apple, chopped up quite small
  • 1 TBSP white sugar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 TBSP grated butter

Mix everything together really well, and divide into each tart shell.  Sprinkle a little crumble topping over, and bake at 400 for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

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Pumpkins Pumpkins Pumpkins

 

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Pumpkins, anyone?????  It’s October and pumpkin season in the Okanagan.  These adorable little pumpkins are super for decorating, and make the best pumpkin flesh.  Roast up a few, and freeze it for using in the middle of winter when pumpkin season is just a memory.

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I like oven roasting my pumpkins, seems to intensify the flavour and – not only that, super easy!

Cut pumpkins in half, scoop out seeds and turn upside down on roasting pan (I like to cover with parchment paper for easy clean up)

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Set those yummy pumpkin seeds aside for another day …. roasted with some seasoning they are a great snack or addition to salads!

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Once you scoop out the roasted pumpkin flesh, use an immersion blender to puree it all, then turn it into a heavy bottom pot and allow to reduce slightly …. (4 cups pumpkin flesh should reduce to 3).  Removing some of this water makes for more flavourful pumpkin flesh.

 

Gazpacho, Morelia style

The gazpacho we encountered in Morelia was unlike anything we had tried before.  Certainly not cold tomato soup.  We loved that each bite hit all the notes we were looking for; sweet, sour, spicy, salty and refreshing.  Versatility is key here, and in my opinion, so is hand chopping the fruit and vegetables.  Sure, a food processor would make short work of it all, but you might not get such great flavour in every spoonful.

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We first tasted this in Morelia, Mexico – where everything is fresh and delicious!  Even at home though, we have loved the refreshing dish.  Try serving it in small dishes as a palate cleanser for a Mexican fiesta ….

Everything finely diced:

2 cups jicama

2 cups cucumber

1 cup watermelon

1 cup mango

1/2 – 2/3 cup red or white onion

I say 1/2 – 2/3 cup of onion because it will depend on how pungent your onion is, and how much you love onion flavour, play with it.

1 tsp chile flakes

1/2 tsp salt

juice of 1 lime

juice of 1 orange

Stir this all together, and taste!!!  Every little bit of fruit and vegetable should be in each bite and you should love the way it all comes together.  If not – adjust!

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As you can tell, this is no small bite!  – Small version in the market in Morelia.

 

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger Crust & Caramel Sauce

I will tell you right away, this isn’t quick.  However, it is worth every moment you spend …. and after all, isn’t making a special dessert like this worth it?  After all, it is a labour of love!

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 7-1/2 ounces gingersnaps (or 1-1/2 cups finely ground gingersnap crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling

  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin (such as Libby’s)
  • 1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 1-1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature

For Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/8 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more if necessary
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Instructions

For the Crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Wrap a 9-inch springform pan twice with aluminum foil (preferably heavy duty). Take care to pull the foil all the way up the sides so that water cannot seep in from the water bath. Spray the bottom and sides of the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pulse the crackers (or crumbs) and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse a few times to combine. Dump the moistened crumbs into the prepared pan and, using a measuring cup or glass, press into an even layer. Bake until fragrant and set, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

For the Filling

  1. Bring about 4 quarts of water to a simmer in a tea kettle (this will be used for the water bath). In a small, heavy saucepan, stir together the pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a sputter, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, until thick, bronzed and shiny. Scrape the mixture into a large food processor fitted with the metal blade and process for 1 minute with the feed tube open.
  2. With the motor running, add the cold cream. Add the cream cheese (cut into chunks) and process for about 30 seconds, scraping the sides if necessary, or until smoothly incorporated. Add the eggs and process for about 5 seconds or just until incorporated (do not overmix!).
  3. Set the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour the batter into the cooled crust, and then pour enough boiling water into the large roasting pan to come about halfway up side of the cake pan. Bake until the cake is just set, about 1-1/2 hours. If it jiggles, it’s not done. CAREFULLY remove the roasting pan from the oven and set on a wire rack. Use a paring knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Cool until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath, discard the foil and set on a wire rack. Continue to cool at room temperature until barely warm, about 3 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

For the Caramel Sauce

  1. Stir the sugar, corn syrup, water and lemon juice together in a 2-cup microwave-safe measuring cup or medium glass bowl. Microwave until the caramel is pale yellow, or just barely starting to take on some color, 4-8 minutes (depending on the strength of your microwave). It’s fine to stop and open the microwave to check often; just don’t let it get too dark or it will burn. Let the caramel sit for about 5 minutes — it will gradually turn a rich amber color. (If after five minutes, it’s not dark enough, place it back in the microwave for thirty seconds or so, then let it darken again. If it gets too dark, start over.)
  2. In the meantime, heat the cream in the microwave until hot. Once the caramel reaches the right color, add the hot cream a few tablespoons at a time. It will bubble up intensely, but won’t overflow. After you’ve added all the cream, stir to incorporate then add the butter. Add more cream if the mixture seems too thick. Once the caramel cools, you can store it in your fridge.

For Serving

  1. Remove the outer ring from the springform pan. Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and pan bottom to loosen, then slide the cheesecake onto a serving platter. (Alternatively, you can keep it on the pan bottom.) If there is condensation on the top of the cheesecake, blot it gently with a flat paper towel. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then cut it into wedges. Warm up the caramel sauce in the microwave (it stiffens in the fridge). If it’s too thick, add more heavy cream to thin it out. Drizzle the caramel sauce over each piece of cheesecake and top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream if desired.
  2. Note: You’ll need a large food processor — preferably with a 12-cup capacity — to make the filling (you can also use an 11-cup, but you may have a bit of leakage). If you don’t have one, it’s fine to use a Kitchenaid Mixer or electric beaters for the filling and a small food processor for the crust.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

Delicious!  Not only do these look pretty darn cute on a serving platter, you will love how they taste.  A couple quick bites of pure pumpkin cheesecake heaven ….

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INGREDIENTS:

For the crust:
8 gingersnap cookies
1 graham cracker rectangle
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 TBSP melted butter

For the cheesecakes:
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 teaspoons heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger

For whipped cream topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1 TBSP powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange oven rack in the lower third of your oven. Lightly grease a 12-cup mini cheesecake pan or mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In the bowl of a food processor, grind all ingredients for crust (except for melted butter) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add melted butter and process until crumbs resemble wet sand. Press mixture by the tablespoon (1/2 Tbsp. if using a mini muffin pan) into each cheesecake/muffin pan cup*. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare cheesecake. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin puree with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Mix in egg, heavy cream, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger until just combined. Evenly pour filling over each crust. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 20 minutes. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before removing cheesecakes from pan.

Remove cheesecakes from pan by gently running a blunt knife around the edges of each cheesecake and popping out.

Before serving, prepare whipped cream. Beat heavy cream, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to dollop on top of cheesecakes.

If these get past your original serving, refrigerate the rest until they disappear!

Morning Glory Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin season or not, these healthy, moist and delicious muffins are a great way to start any day.  Perfect for lunch kits or a mid morning pick up too!
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INGREDIENTS
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
10 grates of fresh nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup pure pumpkin puree
2 large carrots, grated (should equal about 2 cups grated
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 apple, diced or grated
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Whisk to combine.
  3. Next, mix in the sugar, molasses, oil, eggs, and pumpkin puree, stirring just until everything is mixed.
  4. Lastly, fold in the fruits and vegetables, making sure not to over mix.
  5. Grease or line a muffin pan. Then use a 1/3 scoop to fill each tin up. Bake the muffins for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a middle muffin comes out clean. Remove the pan and allow the muffins to cool for a couple minutes before removing them from the pan.

One of the things that I love about these muffins is how versatile you can be – use any nut instead of the pecan, or replace the cranberries with raisins or chopped dates.  Today’s mix included half a grated apple and 1/3 cup diced pineapple!