Conflict Resolution

It's the time of year when the seasons can't seem to make up their mind - one day it's summer and 70 degrees and the next day is near-winter 47 degrees.  Such conflict it causes!  Summer clothes or warm fuzzy blankets for the bed?  A summer-themed dinner or a hearty casserole served alongside root vegetables?  It's just hard to know which path to travel sometimes.     

My quest for seasonal conflict resolution landed me over at Healthy Living for Life ogling Lauren's recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake Yogurt.  It's perfect for this time of year because it satisfies on a lingering warm holding-on-to-summer kind of day and it uses one of the most popular seasonal food item crazes - pumpkin. 

I tinkered with Lauren's recipe just a wee bit in order to use up what I had on hand and came up with a creamy, spiced pumpkin frozen treat.  I'm sure my end result should technically be considered ice cream instead of yogurt since I monkeyed with the fat and calorie content.  I also had all the components on hand to make my own pumpkin pie spice and have shared that recipe below as well. 

Enjoy the last of these warm days and stay tuned for more yummy pumpkin treats!

Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream
Makes approx. 1 quart

6 to 8 oz  cream cheese, at room temperature (I only had 6 oz on hand leftover from a previous recipe and it worked just fine, but go ahead and use the whole block if you'd like)
1-1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice*  
gingersnap cookie crumbs for garnish, if desired

In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, pumpkin puree, Greek yogurt, and sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat mixture until smooth and well-combined.  If, like me, you have a hard time making the cream cheese smooth, make sure it is softened and add it in small amounts at a time while you are mixing the other ingredients. 

Add in the milk, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt. Beat until smooth and combined.

Pour mixture into your ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions.

Transfer yogurt into a freezer-safe air-tight container and freeze until desired consistency is reached.
Once fully frozen, take out of the freezer 15-20 minutes prior to eating for easier scooping.

Garnish with crumbled gingersnap cookies if desired. 

*Pumpkin Pie Spice

1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground allspice
3/4 tsp ground cloves

Combine all spices in a small bowl and mix well.

Ghosts of Halloweens Past: Mummy Cookies

If the thought of spiders, skeletons, witches and ghosts scares you, you may just need your mummy. 

Mummy cookies, that is. 

These cookies are so cute and fun to make and don't require any advanced skill level or long list of ingredients.  Let your little ghouls have just as much fun wrapping the mummies as they do eating them!

View the recipe and instructions for decorating here.

Happy Halloween!

It's the Great Pumpkin!

No tricks for you today - just this fun little Halloween treat. 

The idea for these cute cheese pumpkins originated from a blog called That's So Michelle which features some really fun, easy and creative ideas and since Boy Toy and I were headed to a tailgate party I thought I'd borrow her idea.  It's things like this that have awarded me "Food Nerd" status because who, in their right mind, could show up to a party with just cheese and crackers when you can turn heads with this??

It's really simple to do.  All you need is a tub of cold-pack Cheddar cheese, some pretzel sticks, finely chopped nuts (I used pecans), a few sprigs of fresh parsley and crackers of your choice (I used Triscuits because they are sturdy). 

I used a small cookie scoop but you can also just use a tablespoon to portion out the cheese and roll it into a ball with your hands (my method yielded approximately 20 pumpkins).  Chill them for a bit afterwards to make them firm enough so you can work with them.  Using a toothpick or wooden skewer, score lines into your cheese pumpkins from top to bottom.  They don't have to be perfect as a real pumpkin is beautiful in its own rite with irregularities. 

Dip the bottom of the pumpkin into some finely chopped nuts of your choice and refrigerate them until serving time.  Just before serving, decorate with a broken pretzel stick "stem" and a piece of parsley for greenery.  You don't want to do this until just before serving because the pretzel stick becomes soft when it is refrigerated. 

Serve them atop a cracker for ease of handling, but keep in mind this is quite alot of cheese to eat in one bite or for one cracker.  Serve a basket of crackers alongside so your guests can spread some cheesy pumpkin cheer!

Visit That's So Michelle's rendition of the pumpkin cheese plate and check out some of her other totally cute and fabulous ideas. 

Ghosts of Halloweens Past: Caramel Corn

I'm so excited to make this caramel corn again because:

a) it reminds me of my childhood
b) I love to put things in cute little Halloween baggies
c) this stuff is so unbelievably addictingly good

Click on over to the original post and give your Halloween goblins a scary good after-school treat.

Seasonally correct salsa

It is with great sadness that I start to adjust my menus for the fall and winter seasons while the rest of the food blogging world becomes ecstatic and rejoices that these seasons have rolled around so they can once again feature the likes of pumpkins, acorn squash and root vegetables on their menus.

The fact of the matter is, I don't really enjoy the fall and winter food offerings as much as I do the summer fruits and vegetables so I try to hold on to the seasons as long as I can by eating and posting seasonally incorrect items. I'm trying to do better, though.  I really am. 

I thought I'd break myself in slowly with this salsa that seemed more appropriate for fall since it featured cranberries and I still had a few bags of fresh cranberries in the freezer left over from last season.  Even though the recipe said not to use frozen, I went with it anyway and it probably accounted for the fact that all of the ingredients in the salsa were ruby red colored - fresh cranberries wouldn't bleed as much color, if any.  In addition to the 1/3 cup brown sugar it called for, I used pretty close to another 1/4 cup to season plus a pinch or two of salt because it was VERY tart and even then it was still just a tad too tart for my taste.  But again, I'm trying.  I really am. 

This salsa appeared in the November 2008 edition of Gourmet magazine and is a good complement when served with turkey or chicken but honestly, I liked it best with good old-fashioned tortilla chips and it seemed to get better, albeit still tart, a few days after it was made.  The saltiness of the chips seemed to balance it out very nicely. 

If this is your season, I'm happy for you. I really am.  I'll just sit over here in the corner and wait patiently for my beloved season to come back around.

Cranberry Pineapple Salsa
as published in Gourmet, November 2008

  • 1 (4-pounds) pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 (12-ounces) bag fresh cranberries (3 1/2 cups; not frozen)
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup Seville orange juice (or 2 tablespoon each of fresh lime juice and regular orange juice)
  • 1 cup packed cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped

  • Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in upper third.

    Toss pineapple and onion with oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large 4-sided sheet pan, then roast, stirring occasionally, until charred in spots, 40 minutes to 1 hour (Alison's note: 30 minutes was plenty enough time for roasting.  I decided to let it go upwards of 40 minutes but my pineapple started turning into charcoal briquettes shortly after 30).

    Meanwhile, pulse cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped, then transfer to a large bowl and stir in 1/3 cup brown sugar.

    Add hot roasted-pineapple mixture, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then stir in citrus juice. Season with brown sugar and salt. Cool, then stir in cilantro. Let stand, covered, 1 hour.

    Note: Salsa, without cilantro, can be made 3 days ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature and add cilantro before serving.

    Ghosts of Halloweens Past: Pumpkin Bars

    Halloween is one of my favorite holidays of the year - what other time can you dress up in a crazy costume and run around begging for treats from strangers?  I've already decided what this year's costume is going to be, it's just a matter of getting it all pulled together. 

    Admittedly Halloween seems to be more fun when you have a couple of ghosts and goblins running around that you can claim you are baking all the cookie and candy goodies for, so I plan to take full advantage of that this year.  I'm busy making a list of everything I want to try this year and hope to get a jump start on it so we can celebrate all month long, but in the meantime I wanted to share some of the treats from Halloweens past by bringing them to the forefront once again during the month. 

    These pumpkins bars are really great to bake all the way through the end of Thanksgiving since pumpkin is still in season even then.  View the original post here and stay tuned for some ghostly good new treats and a few others being brought back from the dead!


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