Monday, September 23, 2013

Pumpkin Granola

I just bought a flat of pureed pumpkin at Costco....who does that?!  At least my obsession is a healthy one.

I made a batch of this pumpkin granola a few days ago, it is gone and I need to make more. It tastes deliciously like fall and you can put it on yogurt, ice cream, eat it plain or with milk.  Enjoy.  

5 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pepitas
1/4 cup pecans
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine oats, spices, and salt, cranberries, pepitas, pecans. Mix well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, pumpkin puree, 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.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and stir. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the granola is golden and crisp. Remove from the oven  and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

pumpkin & dark chocolate tiramisu

Unfortunately for my waistline, I saw this recipe in Rachel Ray's October Everyday Food Magazine. I saw it, loved it, made it, loved it, ate it and LOVED It.
Make this for your next fall dinner party or family gathering!

3.5 ounces Dark Chocolate (50-60% cacao)
3/4 cup Hot Coffee
5 tablespoons Bourbon
1 1/2 cups mascarpone
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 package (7 oz) Italian ladyfingers

(about 24 cookies)

On a cutting board, coarsely chop chocolate. Whisk chocolate into hot coffee until melted. Stir in 2 tablespoons bourbon. In large mixing bowl, combine mascarpone, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin and 3 remaining tablespoons of bourbon. Mix with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add pumpkin puree; mix on medium-low until blended and creamy. Pour coffee mixture into a deep dish. Dip ladyfingers into coffee mixture until soaked but not soggy (about 3-4 seconds). Arrange in single layer in bottom of 6 - 8 oz glasses, breaking cookies if needed. Top layer with pumpkin mixture. Grate about 1/3 of the remaining chocolate evenly over the pumpkin mixture. Repeat layers twice more with the remaining cookies, pumpkin and chocolate. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days. Serve cold.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Butternut & Kale Lasagna (healthy)

We hosted family dinner last night and I wanted to make something warm and comforting but also healthy.  I found this recipe on and the combo of earthy kale and sweet squash was delicious.
Let the comfort food season begin!

I altered the recipe slightly (roasted squash vs. microwave added in herbs etc.)  

Butternut & Kale Lasagna (adapted from
(serves 8-10)

4 cups chopped fresh butternut squash
6 cups chopped kale
a bunch of fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, tarragon)
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded and divided
2 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking spray
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
6 tablespoons chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Place squash in a large bowl and toss with 2 tbs of olive oil and fresh herbs. Spread squash onto baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.  Roast squash in the oven for 30 minutes (shaking pan occasionally) and remove from the oven. Combine squash and kale in a large bowl. 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and 1 cup milk in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add milk mixture and remaining 4 1/2 cups milk to pan; increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 ounces Gruyère, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, salt, and pepper; stir until cheese melts.

Coat 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/3 cup milk mixture in bottom of dish. Arrange 3 noodles over milk mixture; top with half of squash mixture and 1 1/3 cup milk mixture. Repeat layers once, ending with remaining noodles and remaining milk mixture. Cover with foil; bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle remaining Gruyère and pecans over top. Bake, uncovered, at 450° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned and sauce is bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes.

For more of our favorite squash recipes, click here, here, here, here and here

Friday, September 13, 2013

S'mores Brownies

I am hanging on the the end of summer in every way possible and to me, S'mores represent not only summer, but family, campfires and good wholesome fun.  This super simple recipe allows you to enjoy this gooey dessert year-round even here in Wi when the winters are sub zero.

S'mores Brownies

Prepare a 19.5-oz. box of brownie mix in a 9x13 baking dish, according to package directions. I lined my baking dish with parchment paper letting it hang over 2 inches on each side - this made it much easier for me to remove the brownies from the pan once they were done cooling.

While the brownies are baking, combine the following ingredients in a bowl:

8 graham crackers, broken into pieces
3 cups miniature marshmallows
4 large Hershey's bars, broken into pieces

With 5 minutes of baking time left, remove the brownies from the oven and top them with the graham cracker/marshmallow/chocolate mix. Place the brownies back in the oven for the remaining cook time. Once the baking time is done, remove the brownies and turn the broiler on. Once the broiler is ready, return the pan to the oven and broil for no more than 2 minutes, or once the marshmallows just start to brown.

Remove the brownies from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Remover brownies from the pan, cut into squares and serve. Store, covered, at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

For more yummy S'mores recipes, click here, and here!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wine Cork Trivet

I love to collect wine corks, and they have been piling up (apparently we drink a lot of wine)! I started to look for a new project to make with them and found this brilliant idea online.

Each trivet turned out different and they have unique coloring from the different types of wines.   You can make a variety of different sizes, to fit all of your baking dishes, pots and pans.  I tried to make them as even as possible, choosing similar size corks.  They do not have to be perfect and they still get the job done.

SUPPLIES: You  need is wine corks (about 40-50 for the larger one) and a hose clamp which you can find at any hardware store (usually by the plumbing).

MY SECRET: Ask for corks at your favorite restaurant - I have gotten a bags full this way :)

For more projects with wine corks, click here & here!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies

It is hard coming off of a 3 day weekend. In theory the extra day is for relaxing & refueling so you feel revitalized and prepared for the week ahead.  This is not how I spent my extra weekend day.  I will not bore you with details, but I was so exhausted that I went to bed the same time as my girls (7:30!!).
I did manage to make 3 batches of these apple hand pies this weekend and they were the perfect dessert to bring to parties/picnics/WHATEVER, because they do not require utensils, plates, nada.

apples + caramel + salt + buttery crust + quick + easy + no fuss eating = the perfect dessert

Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies - Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour
yield: 10 (3-inch) Pies


For the dough:2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup cold sour cream

For the filling:
2 cups small diced (peeled) Granny Smith apples
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
8 store-bought soft caramels, roughly chopped
Large flake sea salt
Egg wash (1 egg lightly whisked with 1 Tablespoon water)
Crystal sanding sugar (optional)

Make the dough:
Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
Add the cubed butter to the bowl and use your fingers to work the butter into the flour until the mixture is the consistency of wet sand.  Stir in the sour cream (the dough will be very wet), and then turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface.
Knead the dough a few times until it comes together, adding more flour, 1 teaspoon at a time, if the dough is too sticky to handle. Roll the dough into an 8x10-inch rectangle and dust both sides with flour before folding it into thirds as if you were folding a letter.
Rotate the dough 90º and roll it out again into an 8x10-inch rectangle. Fold the dough again into thirds then wrap it securely in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes while you make the filling.

Make the filling:
In a small bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar and flour, stirring until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.  Assemble the pies:

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unfold it onto a well-floured surface, rolling it out to a 14x14-inch square. Using a 3-inch circular cookie cutter or cup, cut out as many circles as possible. Re-roll the scraps and continue cutting out circles until you run out of dough, ensuring you end up with an even number of circles. (You should have approximately 20 3-inch circles.)

Place six of the dough circles on a Silpat or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Spoon a small portion of the apple filling into the center of each circle, leaving enough of a border around the filling. Top the apple filling with a portion of the chopped caramels and a pinch of sea salt. Place a second dough circle atop each filled circle then use a fork to crimp the edges together, sealing each pie.
Brush each pie with the egg wash, and using a sharp knife, cut two or three vents on the top of each pie. Sprinkle the pies with crystal sanding sugar (optional).

Bake the pies for about 15 minutes, or until they're golden brown.  Remove the pies from the oven and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Repeat the filling and baking process with the remaining dough circles.

The cubed apples should be no larger than the size of corn kernels to ensure they become tender during the quick 15-minute bake time.