Tag Archives: pumpkin

Pumpkin Pie Layer Cheesecake Bars for #SundaySupper

There’s something I’m determined to have before autumn hits this city a la Godzilla…

Pumpkin Pie Layer Cheesecake Bars 2--090514

A WHOLE WEEK OF UNINTERRUPTED SUMMER.

Of course, posting my first pumpkin recipe of the year implies, by tacit contract, that I acknowledge the arrival of fall. Don’t be deceived. It is not fall until I say it is….or until I stop eating double-scoop chocolate-dipped waffle cones of cookie dough / caramel swirl ice cream by the pound from Disneyland.

So basically, summer here will last ferrreverrrr.

Pumpkin Pie Layer Cheesecake Bars 5--090514

Since we aren’t visited by that weird quarterly occurrence some regions of the world know as “seasons,” there’s really not much to say for autumn, except that it’s kind of cute how some people actually consult a calendar before deciding what kind of “seasonal” treats to make.

Again, not in my vocab.

Around here, the running desserts philosophy is: if it rocks, make it. And then devour it. Lather, rinse, REPEAT to vaguely revolting extremes.

Pumpkin Pie Layer Cheesecake Bars 8--090514

So even though I’m technically celebrating squash/autumn season with the fantastic #SundaySupper crew today, the Gods of the Paradoxical Realm I occupy have reassured me that it’s still summer, somehow, somewhere. So lucky me, and now lucky you–we can have our squash, and eat it too!

No matter what bizarre climate zone you inhabit, these aseasonal pumpkin pie layer cheesecake bars will be a total hit. I brought them to a friend’s place during our trashy Bachelor in Paradise viewing party (um, but let’s not talk about that) and they got gobbled up, right next to some delicious Rocky Road Brownies that I’m going to be sharing with y’all next week.

Pumpkin Pie Layer Cheesecake Bars 11--090514

The breakdown, as the pictorial walkthrough demonstrates, is dangerous and fantastically delicious. The vegan shortbread crust is my absolute favorite crunchy shortbread recipe to date, and without any butter, it manages to top all. Of course, the real topping–a healthier applesauce cinnamon streusel–is the bomb.

These double fillings: wow. Just, wow. I wanted the classic pumpkin pie flavor to shine but have been on a cheesecake kick lately, so I threw together the best of both worlds and am giving you an awesome deal my Asian side can’t resist–two-for-one! Creamy, subtly tangy pumpkin cheesecake topped with a kick-arse pumpkin pie filling. What’s not to love?Pumpkin Pie Layer Cheesecake Bars 15--090514

So whether you’re still receiving 14 ridiculous hours of unadulterated sunshine a day in your neck of the woods, or are feeling the creeping impending shadows of autumn lurking in every bare tree branch: make yourself a panful of these, slice up a bar, and kick back with a nice glass of milk. Trust me on this one.

You’re welcome.

Ala

Pumpkin Pie Layer Cheesecake Bars

Creamy layers of healthy pumpkin pie filling and pumpkin cheesecake, stacked on top of a delicious vegan shortbread crust and topped with a healthified butter-free cinnamon streusel. This is a fall treat that can't be beat!

Ingredients

    For the vegan shortbread:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup soy milk (or other dairy-free milk)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • For the pumpkin cheesecake layer:
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk or dairy-free milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • For the pumpkin pie filling:
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin
  • For the healthy cinnamon streusel:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts, your choice
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup applesauce (can sub up to 1/2 cup with melted butter)

Instructions

    For the vegan shortbread:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x9-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until it forms the texture of wet sand. Press evenly into the bottom of prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from oven and set on stovetop while you prepare the fillings.
  4. For the pumpkin cheesecake layer:
  5. Using the same bowl (no need to wash it!), cream together cream cheese and sugar until completely smooth and fluffy. Beat in milk.
  6. Add egg and mix in until just combined. Mix in yogurt, vanilla, and pumpkin. Stir in flour.
  7. Pour cheesecake filling over shortbread crust. Bake in oven for 5-7 minutes, until the edges have just begun to set. Remove from oven and set on stovetop while preparing pumpkin pie filling.
  8. For the pumpkin pie filling:
  9. Using the same bowl (no need to wash it!), combine all filling ingredients. Spoon over the prebaked cheesecake layer.
  10. For the healthy cinnamon streusel:
  11. Combine flour, oats, nuts, sugar, and cinnamon in the same large mixing bowl (fun, right?). Add applesauce or melted butter, and stir until a mushy clump starts to form. Break up clumps and sprinkle evenly over the pumpkin pie layer.
  12. Bake everything for an additional 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in a spot without streusel comes out fairly clean, and the bars jiggle only slightly when you shake the pan. Allow to cool completely before refrigerating for an additional 5-7 hours. Cut into bars and store leftovers in fridge.
http://www.wallflourgirl.com/2014/09/06/pumpkin-pie-layer-cheesecake-bars/

Starters – Appetizers & Cocktails:

Pickles & Relish:

Soups and Salads:

Main Dishes

Side Dishes:

Sweets to Start or End the Day:

Sunday Supper Movement

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

53 Comments

Filed under Bars, Cheesecakes

Frosty Pumpkin Streusel Magic Bars

It’s spring! You know what that means…

lovin’ the sunshine

lovin’ the flirty sundresses

lovin’ the beaches

lovin’ life

Frosty Pumpkin Streusel Magic Bars 1--031313

loving the gifs!

How could you NOT love that creamy, squishy sweet pumpkin magic bar layer there?

Frosty Pumpkin Streusel Magic Bars gif

Yes, I’m sure all of you who have seen my latest batch of posts know that I have recently become obsessed with gifsWhether or not this will turn out to be an occupational hazard to my health remains to be seen.

Are they all lovely gifs? Certainly not. I’m a gif-fing amateur (is giffing a word? What good is being in an English doctoral program if you can’t make up your own words? Giffing is a word)–I use *cringe* online software because for some reason or other Windows Movie Maker does not work on my computer. I cannot figure out for the holy life of me why. (Any ideas, techie folks!)

Frosty Pumpkin Streusel Magic Bars 4--031313

So back to my point–these gifs are not Da Vincis. In artistic merit, they’re not Picassos or Monets or even Stephanie Meyers–nope, they’re definitely better than that.  Sorry, Team Mayers folks. It must be said.

As my dearest friend Clark Gable says about this very subject (or maybe it was a different one–I get mixed up when it’s this time of the school year), “Frankly m’dear–I don’t give a damn.

Because I drool over them anyway. This may or may not have physically happened to me in the middle of, erm, lecture last week when I was staring at them. It’s okay, nobody noticed.

Frosty Pumpkin Streusel Magic Bars 6--031313

There were many reasons for my choosing to go total gif-scapade (invented word number two–I’m on a roll! er, a stale one), but the biggest one was when I made the world’s fudgiest brownies and wondered how in holy heck I could convince you all of it. Pictures didn’t seem like enough. (As the Genie says: “Not enough…”)

Movement? Yes.

Showing the fudginess? Yes.

Gif? Yes, yes, YES.

Also, if you haven’t already seen the gif-spirational sensation Izy over at Top with Cinnamon, you probably want to pop on over there. Give credit where credit’s due, I always say! She’s a gif-nius.

So. To wrap it up, since I’m out of writing space (and frankly, I have a pile of papers waiting here to be graded).

Frosty Pumpkin Streusel Magic Bars 9--031313

Students asked me for this recipe.

Fellow TA’s asked me for this recipe.

You’ll want this recipe.

Kind of like you’ll probably want to eat these gifs and photos off the screen right now. Don’t. It’ll ruin your screen. I’d advise running to your oven RIGHT NOW instead.

Because they’re scrumdiddlyfantawesomelectabletasticumptious.

(PhD…here I come.)

Ala

Frosty Pumpkin Streusel Magic Bars
Adapted from Bakers Royale
Yield: 9×9-inch baking pan
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 heaping cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 large apple or 1.5 medium apples, peeled and chopped (I used Fuji)
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 recipe streusel topping (below)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×9-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, white sugar, and 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon until mixture is completely moistened. Press lightly but evenly into bottom of prepared pan.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Pour evenly over the graham cracker crust. Sprinkle apples, coconut, white chocolate chips, and streusel over the top of the mixture; press ingredients lightly into the top so that they stick.
  4. Bake in preheated oven 32-37 minutes, until center is mostly but not completely set. (If it’s still gooey, that’s perfectly fine–it will firm up a bit in the freezer).
  5. Allow to cool slightly at room temperature, then pop the batch into the freezer for 30 minutes for easier cutting. Cut into bars; store leftovers in freezer.
  6. NOTE: Alternatively, you can bake these bars 3-5 minutes longer than the listed baking time. This will result in bars that can be stored and served at room temperature.

Streusel topping:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut in butter and rub through with your fingers until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Use as streusel topping for pumpkin magic bars, muffins, breads, or anything you’d like!

16 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts

Pumpkin Pound Cake Truffles with Gingerbread Cookie Crumbs

I love the holiday season for many, many reasons. I’m sure you do, too.

Pumpkin Pound Cake Truffles with Gingerbread Cookie Crumbs 5 (12.14.12)

Holding a very special place at the top of this list is the fact that, as soon as Thanksgiving ends, I get to cram my Santa elf-ear hat on my head, flip on the Christmas song station, and belt out the following line without the slightest trace of irony whatsoever:

“Your soul is an appalling dump heap, overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled up knots.”

Except “knots” sounds more like “naaaaAAAAAaaaahhhwtzzz,” and Thurl Ravenscroft sounds about a bajillion times better singing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” than I do.

Seriously–if I had to choose one person to narrate my life, it would be him. Have you heard the man sing?

Pumpkin Pound Cake Truffles with Gingerbread Cookie Crumbs 4 (12.14.12)

Perhaps on my less-fond holiday season list (if such a thing exists–which it really can’t) is the end-of-the-term rush to get things typed, stapled, and shipped off into the wild unknown of academia’s bureaucratic abysses. I was told that we won’t be getting our students’ evaluations back until as late as 8th week of next year.

It’s a wonder I’m not more of a Grinch myself.

Pumpkin Pound Cake Truffles with Gingerbread Cookie Crumbs 3 (12.14.12)

On the contrary, however–I’ve been embracing this holiday season as if it were a friggin’ human-sized Pooh Bear.

Last night, my friends and I went to the candlelight procession at Disneyland. It was hosted by none other than Dick Van Dyke, sir Bert from Mary Poppins! Better yet, it was the grand man’s birthday: the best part of the night was when he stepped up to the podium at the front of town square, and suddenly a hum starting from the middle of this humongous crowd begins to grow. And suddenly, we’re all singing “Happy Birthday to Diiiiiick,” and, well–if that’s not a magical, holiday-filled moment, I really don’t know what is.

Pumpkin Pound Cake Truffles with Gingerbread Cookie Crumbs

I’m still dead beat from this week–I realize that I haven’t whipped up anything in the kitchen that’s really excited me for quite some time. As I’m grading these final exams and counting down the minutes until I can hop on the plane homeward bound, I’m actually absorbing very little of what’s in front of me and thinking very much about whether it would be indecent to throw gingerbread cookies, cookie butter, and zesty orange cheesecake into the same baking pan together.

I have a feeling I can keep Santa from putting me on the naughty list if I just leave out a plate of these for him this year.

You’ve really got to try it–my friends absolutely melted when they tasted it, and if you have a particularly hungry Santa Claus (or other secular holiday spirit!) hanging around your house, you’ll definitely want to keep these easy peasy treats on hand.

Pumpkin Pound Cake Truffles with Gingerbread Cookie Crumbs 2 (12.14.12)

Ho ho ho, and look forward to some really fun holiday swing posts again soon!

(I nabbed this delicious pumpkin pound cake recipe from the lovely blog I Wash, You Dry. Give it a try, too!)

Pumpkin Pound Cake Truffles w/Gingerbread Cookie Crumbs
Pumpkin pound cake recipe–as written at I Wash You Dry
 
For the pumpkin pound cake:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Instructions

  1. Pull out the eggs, butter, and yogurt and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Grease and lightly flour an 8″x4″x2.5″ cake pan.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. Place the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer and beat for a minute on high speed. Gradually add the sugar and let it mix on medium-high speed for 10 minutes. You’ll have to scrap the sides of the bowl every once and a while. You’re looking for a very light and fluffy butter mixture.
  5. Once you’re butter is light and fluffy add the vanilla and beat for about 30 seconds.
  6. Add one egg at a time, beating for 1 minute between each egg.
  7. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice. Sift together to combine.
  8. Alternately add the flour mixture, Greek yogurt, and pumpkin puree to the bowl of the stand mixer. Remember to scrap the sides of the bowl occasionally to make sure it’s being properly mixed.
  9. Blend until the mixture is smooth.
  10. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake at 325 for 65-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  11. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pan and let cool to room temperature. Once cake is completely cool, cover and let sit over night or enjoy right away.
  12. Slice into 1/2 inch pieces and drizzle with salted caramel sauce.
  13. To make truffles, cube cooled pumpkin pound cake and freeze for at least 1 hour, or until very firm.

To assemble truffles:

  • 2 (12 oz.) bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Gingerbread cookies, crushed
  1. Melt 1 bag of chocolate at a time by placing in a microwave-safe bowl on HIGH for 30 seconds, then continuing to heat at 15-second intervals and stirring vigorously between each interval until chocolate chips are completely melted. Dip frozen pumpkin pound cake cubes in chocolate and quickly coat. Remove onto parchment paper and top with crushed gingerbread cookies or other holiday cookies of your choice. Allow chocolate to firm up before serving! (You can store these at room temperature in an air-tight container for at least a few days; keep them in the fridge for up to a week.)
 

5 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Brownies & Chocolates

LWOM: Pumpkin Pasties (for a Very Harry Party)

I attended my very first Harry Potter party last night. Ever.

The following edition of Lit, Wit, and an Oven Mitt is brought to you by Pumpkin Pasties, paragon pastry of the Hogwarts Express.

Pumpkin Pasties (a la Harry Potter) 2 (12.1.12)

“For heaven’s sake, Harry, what are you doing?”

Harry ignored her and reached around her for a greenish-blue bottle on the counter, keeping his wand fixed steadily on the cauldron simmering beside him.

“Give it a rest already, Hermione,” Ron said, unwrapping a Chocoball that had appeared from some deep recesses of his robe pocket. “You’ve been at him ever since we came down here. Can’t you just let him be?”

Pumpkin Pasties (a la Harry Potter) 13 (12.1.12)

Pumpkin Pasties (a la Harry Potter) 3 (12.1.12)

“That’s because in the first place, we’re not supposed to be down here,” Hermione hissed, “and more importantly–”

Ron snorted. “You-Know-Who’s waiting upstairs looking for us and you’re worried about getting caught in the school kitchen? And here I was thinking you were supposed to be the clever one of us three…”

“More importantly,” she repeated, stamping her foot on the ground with such force that Ron actually dropped his Chocoball, “Volde–oh, for goodness’ sake, Ron, don’t eat that–Voldemort is waiting for us, and you’re sitting here tinkering around with a cauldron?”

Pumpkin Pasties (a la Harry Potter) 1 (12.1.12)

“Yeah, I am, Hermione,” Harry said through gritted teeth, “I’m making pumpkin pasties, all right?”

“You–you’re–you’re not–what do you think you’re going to do with those at a time like this, chuck them at Voldemort and his Death Eaters?

Harry muttered something about “photos” and “the more pastries, the better.”

“Well, he duff haf a pointh–oopth,” Ron said, spraying bits of chocolate onto Harry’s sweater as he reached for a tray of treacle tarts that had been abandoned on the counter of the empty kitchen. “Sorry, ‘arry.”

Hermione whirled on him. “He has what?”

From behind them, a small explosion sent a flash of bright orange whizzing out of the cauldron. Harry hunched over it and murmured something that caused a stream of sugary sparkles to emit from the tip of his wand.

Ron, meanwhile, leaned carefully away from Hermione–just far enough to put a safe distance between her fist and his nose–then he finished chewing and shrugged. “Well, I mean, there are so many pictures, we’re not exactly running out of time here or anything, are we?”

Pumpkin Pasties (a la Harry Potter) 7 (12.1.12)

“Ronald Weasley, you have exactly five seconds to explain yourself before I hex you and send an owl to your mother telling her why her son is missing his beautiful nose–”

“Oy, careful where you point that thing!” Ron said, backing up hastily as Hermione pulled her wand out of her robes pocket and aimed it at him with a furious look.

Well?” 

Pumpkin Pasties (a la Harry Potter) 9 (12.1.12)

“Bloody–come on, Hermione!” Ron dropped his half-eaten treacle tart and held up his hands. “I was just talking about the pictures, okay?”

Hermione’s eyes narrowed. Her wand moved up about half an inch, so that it was pointing straight between Ron’s eyes.

“Come on, you know, the pictures, Hermione, the pictures in the story! Point that thing away from me–go on, look down!”

Hermione glared at him for a moment, then glanced down. And this is what she saw:

Pumpkin Pasties (a la Harry Potter) 6 (12.1.12)

Hermione’s jaw dropped.

“Hey, th-that’s my wand!” she squeaked, her finger trembling as she pointed it at the photo that appeared as if by, well, magic before her eyes. It looked as clear and colorful as it would have if the plate and wand had been sitting right under her nose.

Ron yawned and leaned back in his seat so that it teetered dangerously on two legs. “Yeah, I suppose it is.”

“What do you mean, you suppose–”

Pumpkin Pasties (a la Harry Potter) 11 (12.1.12)

“Hermione,” Harry said suddenly, looking around, “could you stop screaming for a minute–”

Stop screaming?” Hermione said, her voice rising hysterically. “My wand is out there, in goodness knows what alternate universe, and you want me to stop–”

“Yes, I think that’s what people generally mean when they say you should stop screaming,” Ron interrupted. “And anyway, don’t tell me you don’t know about the Narrative!”

Pumpkin Pasties (a la Harry Potter) 4 (12.1.12)

“Don’t be silly, Ron, this is no time to bring up narratives, what do you think I’ve spent all those years in the library–”

“Not ‘narratives,’ Hermione.” Ron rolled his eyes. “The Narrative. Go on. Look again.”

Her eyes shot daggers at him, but she did as she was told.

Pumpkin Pasties (a la Harry Potter) 14 (12.1.12)

“Do you believe me now?” Ron asked, taking a large bite out of a mysterious-looking pastry now.

“What’s that–that marking on my wand?” Hermione shrieked.

“It’s a copyright and serial number for idiot fans who spend their money on that sort of thing,” Harry said without looking over. “Haven’t you read about it in–”

–Hogwarts, A History?” Ron finished, smirking.

Pumpkin Pasties (a la Harry Potter) 5 (12.1.12)

“Oh my god,” Hermione said, her breath coming in short gasps now. “Are you telling me I’m having a metafictional existential crisis–as a character in a book?”

“Well, there’s only one way to settle this,” Harry said, tapping the side of his cauldron three times with his wand. “Ron?”

“Sure.” He looked up. A glazed look came into his eyes as he stared off into space with his head flung back, and then they suddenly focused again on some far-off point, as though he was looking directly through a fourth wall. “Narrator?”

Pumpkin Pasties (a la Harry Potter) 8 (12.1.12)

<Yes?>

“Can we get some, you know, proof?”

<Sure thing, Ron. Will this do?>

“Yeah, that’s great,” Ron said, winking as Hermione uttered a faint moan next to him. He grinned as he turned towards her. “Hermione?”

“Hermione, you all right?”

She was shaking her head so hard it seemed in imminent danger of being shaken right off her neck.

“Er, Hermione, what…”

“I look terrible in that illustration,” she whimpered, her lip trembling.

“Wait until she sees our picture for the Felix Felicis scene,” Ron whispered to Harry with a grin.

Pumpkin Pasties (a la Harry Potter) 12 (12.1.12)

After several minutes had passed, in which the warm smell of something baking wafted into the air that made both Ron and Harry sleepy, Hermione frowned. “So what happens now? If, you know…up there,” she finished in a whisper, pointing up at the ceiling.

“I guess it’s up to the narrator,” said Harry. “I know this one. She’s pretty nice.”

“Yeah, that’s what I meant. If we have all these pictures, it’s pretty clear You-Know-Who isn’t going to just barge in here, whip out his wand, and Avada Kedavra all of us to smithereens–”

Behind them, there was a sudden sharp noise that sounded like–

Barge!

Avada Kedavra!” a high-pitched voice screamed as a burst of green light filled the room.

Smithereens were all that anyone ever found of Harry Potter and his friends.

The End.

Pumpkin Pasties (a la Harry Potter) 10 (12.1.12)

Just kidding, folks. Kidding.

Actually, after the pumpkin pasties finished cooking, they went upstairs, confronted Voldemort and the Death Eaters, passed around pumpkin pasties and cups of pumpkin juice, and these were so good that all of them agreed never to fight again if Harry would share his recipe. They lived nice long lives and together started a new S.P.E.W. (the Society for the Production of Edible Wares), the proceeds of which went towards finding out a way to circumvent the exception to Gamp’s law in which you can’t create food out of thin air.

Because that’s just a dumb magical restriction to have around anyway.

I believe Harry and Voldemort even follow each other on Pinterest now. Word has it that Harry’s a prodigal baker.

Pumpkin Pasties (a la Harry Potter) 15 (12.1.12)

The Real End.

Happy holidays, all! And watch out for creepy-looking hags sitting at the table right next to yours when you’re celebrating. Enjoy these pumpkin pasties!

Ala

Sweet 2 Eat Baking

This post is part of the Lit, Wit, and an Oven Mitt (LWOM) series here at Wallflour Girl, where Ala takes a popular or classic literary character and uses him/her/it to tell a story about her recipes.  Ala is an English literature graduate student with a strong interest in children’s literature, Victorian lit, and everything in between, beyond, bubbly, or burgundy. Ala does not own the rights to any of these characters or original literary texts, although she does own a really cute Winnie-the-Pooh balloon-shaped stuffed-animal. This series is intended to offer you a glimpse into her world through our shared love for food. Please let Ala know what you think of these stories–she’d love to hear what you think (and I’m sure the Society for the Production of Edible Wares is keen to hear it, too). She also loves a good cup of butterbeer by owl mail, if you know what she means.

Pumpkin Pasties (i.e. Pumpkin Empanadas)
Dough recipe adapted from Allrecipes
Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 5 oz. cream cheese, softened and divided (into 4 oz. and 1 oz.)
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3-4 tablespoons homemade cookie butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • White sugar (1/3 cup) and cinnamon (1 teaspoon)

Directions:

  1. To make dough: In a large bowl, cream together margarine and 4 oz. cream cheese until smooth. Add flour and mix until just combined. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate overnight. Remove from fridge 10-15 minutes before handling the next day.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out a sizable chunk of dough on parchment paper until fairly thin; cut into 3 to 4″ circles with a cookie cutter, removing scraps as needed and tossing them back into the leftover dough. (Alternatively, I sometimes simply pat small balls of dough into a thin circle rather than cutting them out–this seems to work just as well.)
  3. To make filling: Combine 1 oz. cream cheese, pumpkin puree, cookie butter, cinnamon, white sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
  4. Place about a tablespoon (or less) of filling into the center of each circle. Wet your finger with water and run it around the edges of each circle so that they will seal properly. Carefully lift up one edge of the dough and fold it in half over the filling, being careful not to let the filling leak. Seal by crimping edges with a fork. Use a knife to cut a small ‘x’ on the top surface of each empanada to prevent leaking.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden. Immediately remove from sheet and carefully dunk into a bowl with combined white sugar and cinnamon. Make sure to get as much cinnamon-sugar on it as you can (you can even sprinkle extra on after you’ve set the pasties onto the cooling rack). Serve warm or cooled. You can also refrigerate these and heat them up slightly before serving.
 

Sweet 2 Eat Baking http://www.crazyforcrust.com/”http://www.crazyforcrust.com/”

11 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts

Owl Pumpkin Cupcakes with Choco-Orange Frosting

I treated myself two nights ago (i.e. Halloween, night of the dead, sugar-induced-accidents evening) to an indulging, sinful, completely guilty treat.

Sleep. Lots and lots of it.

That’s right—my haunting, harrowing, happy, hooligan-ing Halloween…ended at about 10 PM. I just turned off the lights, pulled on my PJ’s, and hopped into bed. No candy for you, children. This night is mine.

So are these owl cupcakes. Mine, mine, mine. Okay, maybe one yours. But mostly mine.

Aren’t they absolutely adorable? And I promise they won’t regurgitate their dinner in your living room.

Wallflour Power: I just watched “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” today. I’m so excited to review my (partial) namesake in my next post! In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this inspiring quote–”We accept the love we think we deserve.” <3 You deserve a lot. Embrace it!

These cupcakes have been circulating the blog-o-sphere since owls roamed the earth (give or take a few…millennia), and I couldn’t wait for a good excuse to make them. So I strolled on over to my calendar. I can always count on my calendar to have something awesome lined up. If it says “August 15,” I can just say, “Oh look–tomorrow’s the smack middle of August. Guess we’re gonna really need CUPCAKES.”

This time, my excuse was a little bit more warranted.

Excuse, meet Halloween. Halloween, Excuse. Pleasure. Let’s sidle over to the oven while we chat, shall we?

After throwing on a hastily-compiled, years-used Hogwarts student costume yesterday, I pulled out my authentic wand from Ollivander’s (you know, the really genuine one sitting in tropical Florida) and zapped up a batch of these owl-order cupcakes.

Technically speaking, conjuring food out of thin air is not allowed under the five principle exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration. But I didn’t just completely give away the caliber of geekiness at which I am operating there. And even if I did…obliviate, right?

Don’t worry. Even if you forget about your entire life, my utter geekdom, and the names of the Supreme Court Justices, you won’t be forgetting these adorable cupcakes anytime soon.

I guarantee it. And yes, Men’s Wearhouse stole that from me. Maybe.

Oh, whatever. Obliviate and let’s move on to the recipe, shall we?

These moist, sweet pumpkin cupcakes pair perfectly with a refreshing chocolate-orange frosting that will have trick-or-treaters lined up at your door next year!

Owl Pumpkin Cupcakes with Choco-Orange Frosting
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Cupcake Ingredients (adapted from Allrecipes):
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Cupcake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil, and applesauce. Mix in vanilla and pumpkin puree. Beat in eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, combine all remaining (i.e. dry) ingredients, then dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir in until just incorporated.
  2. Line 12 muffin tins with cupcake liners. Fill each liner 3/4-full with batter. Bake for 17-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted it just comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting with a scrumptious choco-orange surprise frosting!

Choco-Orange Frosting Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice (adjust to reach desired consistency)

Choco-Orange Frosting Directions:

  1. Cream butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and orange zest; mix until blended. Gradually add orange juice, stirring in after every half tablespoon to check for consistency. Add as much orange juice as needed to obtain a thick, gloopy frosting (you can also thin it out with additional orange juice as needed for a thinner frosting).

5 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

“Meltdown” seems to be the word of the week over in these parts.

As a consequence, I’ve chosen to melt down one of my favorite desserts and turn it into a completely acceptable breakfast liquid substitute. This smoothie found inspiration in Erica‘s recipe of the same, but you’ll find that the ingredients are about as similar as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Oscar Wilde.

If you can’t tell, I’m doing a lot of thinking about Oscar Wilde at the moment. I’m doing archival research at the premier Wilde institute possibly the world round and am, in fact, currently demonstrating my unconditional commitment to the process by writing this post in the archival tombs. Again.

Wallflour Power: A great idea for combating the meltdown syndrome is by starting with small reminders about great things that have recently happened to you. Every night before I go to bed, I write a post-it with something that made me smile during the day. When I have a bad day, I take a few minutes to look at my wall-ful of colorful post-its, and it never fails to bring a spark of inspiration back into my life!

More importantly, though, I’m teaching, and the bulk of this current week’s meltdown comes in the form of not having done any of my own work this week…although this may have had more to do with the fact that I went to an epic family banquet all day on Saturday, and spent my entire Sunday at Disneyland rather than with dear Wilde.

I am, undoubtedly, one of the hardest workers within a two-centimeter radius of myself.

I justify my dalliance with the consolation that I really, really needed this break. After spending nearly 40 hours poring over two classes’ papers last week, and after skipping every single one of my extracurricular activities trying to phrase my comments on near-fail papers as constructively (and kindly) as possible, I came charging into this week nose-to-ground first.

This is my rationale for creating a meltdown drink that is not only delicious and only a tiny portion of the guilt, but to which you can lift your glasses and say…

Cheers! We ain’t dead yet.

And amen to that.

What’s your best remedy after a bad day?

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Ingredients:
  • 6 ice cubes
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup cookie butter
  • 1/4 cup oats (any variety)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • A dash of ground nutmeg
  • A splash of vanilla extract
  • A few crushed graham crackers (for garnish)

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients (except graham crackers) in blender. Crush ice until mixture becomes liquidy, then blend until completely smooth. Serve with crushed graham crackers and cinnamon as garnish, and watch as your bad day melts away!

1 Comment

Filed under Smoothies

Pumpkin Spiced Granola

Do you all know what it means to feel hurt by someone you thought you could trust?

It feels a little bit like you’re sinking, a little bit like you’re falling, and a little bit like somebody’s tied you up by the extremities and thrown you into the water, all at the same time.

This isn’t an angry post, or a vengeful post, or a gossip-y post. This post is just a little…disappointed.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way about anything. The last time was in eighth grade when a guy I’d wanted to get in touch with because we used to be good friends hung up on me when I told him who was calling.

Something happened a while back that I didn’t think I’d have to deal with again. Past life, meet present life. I won’t go into the details, but believe you me–the feeling stinks. It’s times like these that I stop laughing at the cartoons of grown men crying for their mommies, and I curl up and cry for my mommy, too. There’s nothing like a phone call to that ever-loving maternal source to keep you feeling, well, worth something.

Cinnamon helps, too. Cinnamon always helps. I think it’s something about the warmth and feeling of nostalgic autumn days that it lends the kitchen when you’re around it.

Accomplishing things helps, too. I swam the 1.5k today in open water for the first time, then proceeded to get KO’d by food coma via some epic dim sum afterwards. Swimmers’ stomachs. Gotta love ‘em.

Flour Power: No matter how alone or down you feel, remember that the moment passes–but true friends are forever! Go look for a new activity or meet some new people in areas unrelated to your main interests; this will keep your identities from all blurring together, and prevent you from storing too many of your self-esteem eggs in one basket. I’m heading off to a campus activities fair tomorrow with a friend–my goal is to sign up for at least one new thing. (I’m also going to be an International Students Buddy this year!) Wish me luck!

Back in middle school, when the entire world consisted of longing for the time when I would finally grow old enough to get rid of my dorky roller backpack, it was easy to think that every little criticism or disappointment was the end of the world. Boom. Zombie apocalypse? Got nothing on my problems.

And then I “grew up,” and life didn’t consist of being shepherded along with the same 50 nerdy kids in AP classes every single day, and I had to figure out my priorities in life. I stressed, pushed myself, lost 20 pounds, gained 15 back, felt unhappy, felt extremely happy, had the best group of friends I could ever (and still could ever) ask for, and still thought myself the luckiest girl in the world. I graduated, moved, and while I found myself slightly outside of my depth, kept myself very energetic and happy–and for the most part, I’m very happy! Very happy.

It’s just a little bit of a sort of big downer when these things come back to get you. C’est la vie, I guess. You live, you cry, you learn.

It helps that I have a mom and dad who support the living daylights out of me, and tell me they would fly over right now if I need somebody. It’s been hard because lots of the friends I knew from last year have already moved on or graduated, and my other close ones are either from home and undergrad or too far away in LA for me to ask to come keep me company. I love these people so freakin’ much, though.

I’m not even angry. I’ve tried, and I can’t be. I’m just disappointed. But if I’ve lost some of my trust in some aspects of life, I’ve definitely gained an appreciation for a whole lot more.

So here’s to the  finer things in life, to things like people you can really count on, and to sticking to that strong moral fiber that keeps you from telling untruths to anyone else even though it’s been done to you–because even if I lose sleep over this tonight, I won’t lose sleep over it for the rest of my life when it really counts.

I could still use a pick-me-up. Hrm.

Now, about that cinnamon.

Funflour Fact #4: Did you know that, according to the World Food Programme,  there are more people in the world who go to bed hungry at night than there are people in the U.S., Canada, and European Union combined? (In light of serious statistics like these, it’s hard to dwell on personal problems quite as much.)

Pumpkin Spiced Granola
Inspired by recipe from Averie Cooks
 
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup cookie butter (1 batch homemade, or store-bought)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups almonds (or any nut variety you prefer), chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 cup raisins, cranberries, or dried fruit mix; adjust to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium-sized bowl, combine pumpkin, cookie butter, honey, oil, vanilla, and cinnamon. Stir until smooth.
  2. Add oats and chopped nuts to pumpkin mixture. Stir in until completely coated, then transfer to a foil-lined and greased cookie sheet. Spread out granola in a thin layer and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until granola reaches desired crunchiness. (Your granola may take even longer to bake, depending on your oven circulation–watch it carefully! The moistness of the pumpkin keeps it from baking too quickly, but you don’t want your granola to burn, either. Averie notes that the granola is inherently dark, because of the pumpkin, so you’ll want to do a crispness test occasionally by poking a cluster of granola to see if it’s firmed up.)
  3. Remove granola from oven and stir in raisins or cranberries. Allow to cool–your granola should obtain a boosted crunch!–and serve with yogurt, milk, or a plain old comfort food in its own right. Enjoy!

4 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Snacks

Pumpkin Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Ever feel like you’re being pulled apart by the seams from all the stress?

You know…the stress that always seems to converge on the very spot on which you happen to be standing at any given moment? That stress?

I feel that way all the time. Fortunately, this bread does, too. And I always say that there’s nothing better than food that understands exactly what you’re going through.

With the minutes ticking down to the first day of the school term, I can already feel the jitters creeping up all around me, as if someone’s broken into a museum of entomology and set loose all the live specimens.

I didn’t want to bog down this (truly wonderful!) post with my pre-term anxiety, but I’ll get to this amazing recipe in a second. Pinkies! But there are some major changes going on this autumn that make it different from the rest.

First off, I’m going to be teaching this year! Scary, right? Anybody who has ever been a teacher, thought of becoming a teacher, known a teacher, or had a teacher (all right, do we have everyone on board now?) knows at least something of how nerve-wracking it must feel to get up in front of an entire classroom for the first time.

Sure, I’ve been a teacher and workshop instructor before. This past summer, I taught enrichment high school writing and media classes that totally sucked up my life and threw my soul back bright and shiny new–that lesson planning does some major buffing on your self-esteem! I had a total blast, and I know I will be fine as soon as I set foot into the classroom and actually get this teaching gig on the road.

But.

Until then.

Did I mention that the kids (I say “kids”–I mean “people who are probably an average of 1-3 years younger than me; in many cases, they may be older) are all college-age? My parents tell me that it’s one kid teaching another kid.

They’re probably completely right. They were right about, well, pretty much everything else growing up! Except for my being allergic to chocolate, grass, and shellfish. They lied about those. But I guess they knew they were lying, so they weren’t really wrong, either. I adore my parents–they make everything so much more interesting.

Flour Power: When you’re feeling down, try going to the store and picking up something fresh that you’ve never used before! Then try making a new recipe with it. I did this with fresh basil this past Thursday and made basil almond pesto, and it turned out great–nothing like a refreshing success to perk up your day! Recipe to come soon!

On a brighter note, I’m teaching a subject I love–animals in literature!–which is completely jiving with my emphasis in children’s literature, so I’m very excited for that.

Losing sleep is my major way of coping with things. Combine that with mild loss of appetite (not that you could probably tell with the flood of recipes that are about to sweep your way!) and general immune system blah-ness, and you have a grand old way of starting off a new school year. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, though–wish me luck! I can fight, too, Sore Throat, thanks.

The other big change is one I just found out about today–my roommate is moving out! And we’re not talking about your-contract-is-up-thanks-buh-bye moving out. We’re talking “some anxiety about living so close to campus and working so hard at the library all the time and needing some space off-campus” moving out!

Funflour Fact #3: Did you know that Mel Gibson plays the voice of John Smith in Pochahontas? Erm, yeah. I used to love John–now, not so much…..

I’m going to miss her. It makes me so sad when I can’t help ease the anxiety of someone who’s close to me, but I understand why she had to work this one out on her own. To some extent, it probably doesn’t help that we’re in the same graduate program (although I’m also going to miss being able to come back and blow some steam about things happening with our people). We’re both extremely hard workers and very tough on ourselves–not to mention we’re kind of twins, since we both (and her identical twin! and her dad!) have the same birthday–and I guess always having someone else around for comparison can be difficult.

I know it’s hard on me sometimes. I’m naturally a very competitive person–sometimes I compete with the people next to me on treadmills…and they don’t even know it. I find it both hilarious and super, super ridiculously necessary sometimes. And while I know I’ve been struggling to keep this out of my life and the lives of those around me, I can only imagine that she’s feeling anxious sometimes by the comparison, too.

At any rate, this was supposed to be my gushing about this recipe I found on Julie’s blog post–and it still is! GUSH GUSH GUSH thisisamazingyouNEEDtotrythisandthenshoweverybodyelsetoo–but the jitters were eating up my brains. I made this pumpkin cinnamon pull-apart bread yesterday morning for a dinner and it was absolutely devoured. Thank goodness we all still have the good ol’ reliable kitchen! The only bad things that happen there are that you made too many cookies and have to eat them all by yourself.

I’m still very excited for this upcoming quarter, and what better way to kick it off than a 1.5k open water swim for a breast cancer foundation tomorrow morning?

Any big changes happening in your life soon? This isn’t a one-woman show, and I’d love to hear all about them!

Happy reading, and happy eatings, y’all! (Gosh, I haven’t said that in forever! It feels good to say it now :] )

Pumpkin Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread with Cinnamon Vanilla Glaze
Yield: 1 loaf
Adapted from original recipe: Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
 For the Pumpkin Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread:
Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (see directions)

Directions: 

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, brown your butter. (Note: This will take anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute; make sure you swirl your butter around occasionally, or certain areas will start to burn before the whole thing’s evenly browned. You’ll want to look for a deep golden brown color to tell that it’s done.) Pour into a heat-safe bowl and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in the same saucepan, heat up milk until it bubbles. Pour into bowl along with butter, and allow the mixture to cool until you can place your pinkie finger in it comfortably for a few seconds, but not much longer than that. (If your liquid is too hot to leave your finger in, its heat will kill the yeast. Conversely, if it isn’t hot enough, your yeast won’t be able to rise properly.) Add sugar and yeast. Stir in until sugar dissolves completely, and wait for 10 minutes. Your yeast should produce a foam–this shows that your yeast is active and ready to go! If you yeast does not foam, you’ll have to throw out the batch (sorry!) and try again with fresh yeast.
  3. Add salt, pumpkin, cinnamon, and 1 cup of flour to the mixture; combine ingredients well. Add an additional 1 cup flour (half a cup at a time works best) and stir well between each addition until flour is just incorporated. Your dough should be only slightly sticky when it’s ready to be kneaded, so you’ll want to use your own judgment here about the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. (You’ll be flouring your board, too, so there will be extra flour incorporated during kneading.)
  4. Flour your cutting board and turn out dough. Knead for 6-8 minutes by pulling your dough outwards (away from you, taking care not to break it) and folding it back in on itself. Turn dough a quarter of a turn and repeat until poking two fingers into the dough leaves two impressions that hold their shape. At this point, your dough will be done, so place it in a greased bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Place in a warm spot (I usually turn on the heat for 5 seconds in my oven and then turn it off before putting in the dough) and allow to rise for about 90 minutes, until doubled in size.
  5. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. (You may skip this step if you’re pressed for time, but I find that the overnight fridge visit really helps give your bread that extra lift!)
  6. Roll out dough on cutting board into an approximately 16″ x 10″ rectangle, or until 1/4″ thick. Lift dough carefully occasionally with one supporting hand under the middle to prevent sticking. When you’ve rolled out your dough, follow instructions for cinnamon sugar filling (below–i.e. brush on butter and filling).
  7. Cut dough into sixths lengthwise, then cut again into sixths vertically. Carefully stack dough pieces and place them horizontally across a greased loaf pan; squish in the pieces gently so that they all fit. (During baking, they will expand and not come out in a perfect row, which is perfectly fine! We had lots of fun peeling the pieces off from every which direction.) Cover with damp cloth again and allow to rise 30-45 minutes, or until doubled in size, in a warm place.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake bread for 30-35 minutes, until a dark golden brown. You’ll want to check all areas of the bread with a toothpick to make sure it’s done–if the toothpick comes out clean when inserted completely, your bread is done!
  9. Prepare glaze (see below) and serve over warm bread. Kick up some fall pizzazz (maybe some apple cider!), and pull away!
For Cinnamon Sugar Filling:
Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions: 

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, brown butter. Set aside to cool. In the meantime, combine remaining three ingredients in a separate bowl.
  2. Brush cooled butter over flattened dough, then sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture over the butter so that most of it sticks. (Note: Despite having read about Julia’s squeamish reaction and eventual conclusion that the truck-load of sugar is not an insanely exorbitant amount, I still blanched when I came to this step. Don’t! You can trust these amounts, and nobody else needs to know how much sugar you’re feeding them.)
 For Cinnamon Vanilla Glaze:
Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon milk, with additional as needed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients and stir until smooth. Pour over warm bread with some sass and sizzle, and serve immediately. Enjoy!
 

5 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bread

Pumpkin Pie Bars (and Hello from Yellowstone!)

I consider myself a fairly open-minded kind of gal.

Okay, sure–there are a few things that I tend to stereotype about. Whenever somebody says that word “Texas,” I immediately imagine a plump southern lady carrying a homemade batch of hush puppies and telling “y’all” to try a bite.

Anyone who seriously uses Twitter to update more than once a day is uncool. Anyone who still has an active Neopets account, on the other hand, is quite awesome.

And people from Idaho?

Tater farmers.

All 1,584,985 of them.

Okay, maybe 1,584,984 of them. I’m sure there’s got to be at least one kid who’s broken free from the tater chains and become a yam farmer.

I kid. I won’t deny that the thought didn’t cross my mind as I crossed into Idaho this week, though–oh yeah, did I mention that I was in Idaho? Wyoming, too. And Utah. And Montana. Doing what, you might ask?

Having a grand old family vacation!

And looking at sights like these day in and day out:

Does this photo look as insanely unreal to you as it does to me? Because this is the real deal. Midway Geysers in Yellowstone National Park. (Remember, I’m an amateur photographer who couldn’t do that sort of photo editing even if somebody set a giant grizzly on me and commanded me to do it.)

I love, love, absolutely love the feeling of being away from civilization and all of its busy buzz.

I love knowing that I can round a corner and not be bombarded by zillions of senseless advertisements telling me how a miracle detox plan is going to change my life.

I love getting in touch with my inner wolf/coyote/fox/bison/elk/whatever-the-heck-I-feel-like-being.

I love knowing that all of my cardio work on the treadmill and elliptical actually amounted to something when I descended (and climbed) the equivalent of 40 flights of stairs to see this view:

I also love the feeling of standing in the middle of the world’s first national park and feeling just the tiniest bit smug that I’m not running around with my head buried in insignificant-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things things like deadlines, grading, and life concerns.

Two things I do NOT miss about this vacation:

Thing that will remain unmissed #1: People in the Midwest really, really love their meat. Especially in Idaho, land of the oh-look-at-these-potatoes-they’re-vegetarian-so-I-think-we’ll-put-some-BACON-in-them.

True story. Halfway through my bowl of mashed potatoes from the fair (the only “vegetarian” main dish available in a 5-mile radius), I found a gigantic slab of bacon.

They also endorse things like these.

(How they manage to swallow any of it after passing by all the displays of cows and pet pigs for sale, I will never fathom.)

Thing that will remain unmissed #2: The most high-tech piece of cooking equipment to which I had access was the miniature honeypot I bought myself. Another true story.

I did, however, run into this clever cute sign at one of the mud geysers that absolutely warmed my heart:

Whoever wrote this sign was either a genius or a little wacko in the head giggling at his/her witticism and thinking everyone else reading it would find it equally witty. I’m going to go with genius.

I did, however, miss my oven very much, and I was consoled only with the knowledge that I’d be posting a stellar recipe when I got home, to internet, my oven, and all of civilization’s glorious mind-sucking technology.

Did I mention that autumn is here?

No, I didn’t. Because it’s not here, and I refuse to believe all reports that say otherwise. Even though I made these amazing pumpkin pie squares that you absolutely need to try.

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Yield: 9×9-inch baking pan

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin (you can increase this to as much as 30 ounces if you prefer a more pumpkin-y taste)
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup white sugar, melted butter, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon until mixture is completely moistened. Press evenly into a lightly-greased 9×9-inch baking pan. Bake crust in preheated oven for 7-8 minutes, or until golden and mostly firm. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs and 3/4 cup white sugar. Add pumpkin and evaporated milk, and beat in thoroughly. Mix in salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Pour pumpkin mixture over slightly cooled graham cracker crust.
  3. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, or until filling is set. Cut into bars and serve while denying the arrival of autumn!

6 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars