Homemade Pumpkin Pie

Nothing screams Thanksgiving to me like pumpkin pie. Sure there’s turkey and stuffing and sweet potatoes, but what really gets me jazzed is the pie.

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There’s something about the flavor of pumpkin that sings holiday. Growing up, a staple at our Thanksgiving dinner was homemade pumpkin pie. My grandparents would make 8-10 pies accompanied with a fresh bowl of whipped cream. The best part about the pie was that there was almost always left overs. The tasty remains served as the perfect late night snack or breakfast the following morning.

Now that I’ve moved out of state, I’ve taken on baking the pumpkin pie as my personal tradition. This year I even ventured down the road of making homemade pumpkin puree for the filling; it was so much easier than I thought!

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The recipe below will satisfy your sweet tooth without overwhelming your taste buds. The pumpkin flavor isn’t too bold and pairs perfectly with the flaky, buttery crust.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (chilled)
  • 1 cup ice water

Filling

  • 1 sugar pumpkin (1 1/2 cups will be used)
  • All-purpose flour, for work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 3 large eggs

Whipped cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Crust

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut chilled butter into small cubes and add to the flour mixture.
  2. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or knife and fork. Once finished, the mixture should be crumbly and butter should be pea sized. You can also complete this step by pulsing the mixture several times in a food processor.
  3. Next, add ½ cup of the ice water and mix. Continue adding ice water one tablespoon at a time until the mixture holds together. I like to start by mixing the dough with a wooden spoon and then switch to using my hands.
  4. Gather the mixture into a ball and divide in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (ideally two!). You can also prepare the dough ahead of time; it will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

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Filling

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Wash, de-stem, and cut the pumpkin in half. After cutting in half, remove seeds and inner gooey flesh. For a tasty snack, keep the seeds and toast separately.
  3. Oil the outside of the pumpkin and place cut-side down on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until pumpkin is tender.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool; once cooled, remove the skin and place pumpkin flesh into a food processor. Puree until smooth.
  6. Transfer pumpkin puree to a large bowl and add remaining ingredients: salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, brown sugar, cornstarch, eggs, and evaporated milk. Whisk until well combined.

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Pie Assembly

  1. Set oven temperature to 375 degrees; roll one disk of the chilled pie dough until it forms a 14-inch round circle. Transfer dough to pie pan; trim and fold edges so that it is flush with the plan.
  2. Cover the center of the pie pan with parchment paper or foil (covering the crust) and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake shell for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove weights and parchment paper/foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes; remove the pie from the oven.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Transfer pie filling to the pre-baked pie crust and place in oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the center is set (should spring back when touched).

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Twinkie Bundt Cake

It’s been awhile since I’ve done any baking.

Honestly, it’s been awhile since I’ve done anything other than wedding planning… and marry the love of my life. With the excitement and joy of the wedding day come and gone, I’m slowly rediscovering this thing called free time. As I unravel the day-to-day and embark on Mission Free Time, baking is at the top of my list.

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Having seen this Twinkie Bundt cake on Instagram, I knew this could be the recipe to snap me out of my baking coma. After seeing the post, I couldn’t stop talking about it. A Twinkie Bundt cake?? It sounded so wrong that it could only be right.

Thinking of twinkies conjured up memories from childhood: a red vinyl lunchbox safe guarding a PB&J sandwich, apple slices, and the prized Hostess snack… a twinkie. A guilty pleasure that, at the time, we didn’t know we needed to feel guilty about. Even still, I say leave the guilt at the door, tie on your apron and get ready to impress your friends and families with this buttery delightful recreation of your favorite childhood snack.

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The outer edges of the bundt glisten with a perfect golden brown hue while the soft yellow inside is offset by the shiny white marshmallow filling. As your fork dives in for a bite, you’ll notice the moist and spongy nature of the cake. A few crumbs may escape, but overall the slices maintain their form. The decadent buttery flavor will pique your tastebuds and leave you wanting more. The marshmallow filling adds another level of sweetness without being too overwhelming.

If you attempt making this cake (as you should!), I have three parting suggestions:

  1. Be generous: as you cut out the circles for the marshmallow filling, be careful not to break through the top of the cake but also be sure to remove enough of the cake so the marshmallow fills the slice. I wasn’t as generous with my scooping as a could have been which leads me to suggestions number two.
  2. Save the extra: if you find yourself with extra filling, save it! Serve each slice of cake with an extra dollop of mallow. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
  3. Top it off: for an extra flavor boost, try adding fresh strawberries or blueberries to each slice.

For the complete recipe, head on over to Smitten Kitchen.

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Strawberry Semifreddo

I almost always have ice cream on my mind. If it’s cold out, ice cream. If it’s stormy out, ice cream. Hot out, definitely ice cream. There’s something about the rich, smooth texture of ice cream that is refreshing no matter what the temperature is. Luckily, though, it’s summer and there’s no need to justify craving a cool treat. As the heat has been ramping up, I’ve even been considering investing in an ice cream maker. A dangerous purchase? Probably. But how could I resist being able to make frozen treats any time I want…. and in any flavor I want!?

*Spoiler alert* My will power sometimes surprises me and is stronger than I let on…

I didn’t buy the ice cream machine.

BUT, I do have an amazing semifreddo recipe to share with you.

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Semifreddo is an Italian world that translates to half cold and, unlike ice cream, is made with whipped cream; ice cream, on the other hand, comes together by churning air into the base mixture. I like to think of semifreddo as the dessert love child of ice cream, frozen yogurt, and mousse. It’s light, fluffy, smooth, and glides down your tongue. This particular recipe is layered with juicy strawberries that provide texture and sweetness. I wasn’t able to track down sesame seeds for the topping, so I opted to leave them off. If you don’t any have luck either, you could also substitute toasted almonds or pistachios or sprinkles!

For the full recipe and step by step instructions, venture over to Bon Appetit.

Peach Blueberry Greek Yogurt Cake

I’ve cast caution to the blazing hot wind this summer and have continued to bake in the relentless heat. Turning my apartment into a sauna seemed like a good idea at first. You know, save on those expensive trips to the spa (you’re welcome roomie). I’ve even tried embracing my inner night owl, waiting to bake until the sun to goes down and the cool temps make an appearance. This recipe is the result of one of those endeavors.

I had just finished a bowl of popcorn, a movie was streaming in the background, and I was finding my second wind. I was heading to a friend’s for brunch the next morning and knew this would be the perfect item to bring. Behold, I give you the Peach Blueberry Greek Yogurt Cake.

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Okay, the name is a bit of a mouthful, but you are going to love every bit of this moist, tangy sweet cake. Slices of peaches adorned with juicy blueberries layer every bite; you almost forget that you’re eating cake for breakfast.

The fruity colors of orange, red, and blue scream summer to me and awaken memories of sunrises dancing on lakes or early morning rays glimmering through your tent. If the vibrant colors aren’t enough to draw you in, hopefully the simple ingredient list will do the trick. The components of the cake are probably already in your kitchen; since I have a bag of berries that live in my fridge year round, the only ingredients I had to go out and grab were the greek yogurt (I opted for a single serve 8 oz container) and the peaches. Once you’ve gathered these items, follow the two step mixing process of wet ingredients followed by dry ingredients; pour the cake batter into your greased pan and decorate with sliced peaches and blueberries. Voila! You’ve just prepared a crowd pleasing, eye catching breakfast staple. Really, it’s that easy.

Head on over to Julia’s Album for the complete recipe.

Basic Sugar Cookies

I don’t know how Santa Claus did it. Somehow, in the midst of delivering all those presents, he’s managed to get the rep of needing a plate of cookies when he arrives at your house. Whether it started with parents and their sweet tooths or an older tradition, the idea of leaving cookies and milk out for good ol’ Kris Kringle has stuck. I’m not mad about it. That’s actually one of the traditions I love. However, you may be wondering why I’m talking about Santa in April. Well, with Easter upon us it has me thinking…. what about the Easter Bunny?

He’s big. He’s fluffy. He gives out Easter baskets. Wouldn’t he like some cookies too?

Better believe it.

So, Easter Bunny, this post is for you.

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This basic sugar cookie recipe is great for any occasion. The dough calls for less than 10 ingredients and can be made up to 3 days in advance. Just remember, it does need to chill for at least 1 hour!

I love these cookies because they aren’t overly sweet but still provide satisfaction to a sugar craving; I could eat them in the morning with coffee or after dinner for dessert, but then again, that’s how I like to enjoy most sweets.

The royal icing is also relatively simple and only requires 3 ingredients. When making the icing, you will want to prepare piping frosting as well as flooding frosting; the main difference between the two is their thickness. The piping frosting should be used first to line the edges of the cookie and is what will prevent the flooding icing from running off the sides; the piping frosting is also used to add designs to the cookies. The flooding icing, as the name suggests, is more fluid and can be used to add the base color to the sugar cookie. If you’re confused and want to dive more into icing, Sweet Sugarbelle does a great job detailing the process.

Now that you know the basics, let your creativity abound. Happy frosting, friends!

Recipe links:
Sugar Cookie Dough (Thanks Real Simple!)
Royal Icing (I used the egg white version, thanks Joy of Baking!)

All-the-Berries-Berry Pie

Some days just call for pie. They really do.

The morning was slightly overcast, and Mother Nature was starting to hint that fall is coming. So naturally with the grey clouds and cooler temperatures, I woke up craving pie. What, that’s never happened to you? Well, morning pie cravings happen to me more than I’d like to admit, but rarely do I give in to them. This time, however, I couldn’t resist. It was just one of those days that called for pie. I wanted the comfort of flaky crust, sweet berries, and fluffy whipped cream paired with a warm cup of coffee while I curled up in my reading chair. Now you see where I’m going with this. Sounds pretty good, right? I know. That’s why I made pie.

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You may have heard of berry pie or even a triple berry pie, but get ready, this pie has ALL the berries in it. Okay, not literally all of them, but it does have four different types: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. It’s like one big berry dance party in your mouth.

And for the crust, oh man, this recipe delivers 100% flaky, buttery, golden goodness. I’m a pretty harsh critic when it comes to crust, but will definitely bookmark this to use for future pie endeavors.

Finally, top your pie with homemade whipped cream and voila, pie perfection. Enjoy!Pie_good

Pie Crust
2 and ½ cups all purpose flour
1 and ¼ teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons butter, chilled and cubed
¾ cup vegetable shortening, chilled
½ – ⅔ cups ice water
1 egg, beaten (for brushing the crust)

Berry Filling
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
2 cups strawberries, halved (fresh or frozen)
2 cups mixed berries (fresh or frozen, I used frozen blackberries, blueberries, raspberries)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Whipped Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Directions
Begin by preparing your pie dough at least 1 hour before you plan on baking your pie; the dough needs time to chill. You can find step by step instructions here at Sally’s Baking Addiction.

After the dough has chilled for nearly an hour, you can prepare the filling. To make the berry filling, first mix sugar and cornstarch together in a medium bowl; set aside 1 tablespoon of this mixture (it will later be sprinkled on the pie dough). Next, add in berries and cinnamon then stir until well combined. Let the berry mixture sit for 10-15 minutes.

While the berry mixture rests, preheat the oven to 375ºF and then roll out your pie dough. Remove one of the dough disks from the fridge and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to form a 12-inch circle (mine was a little closer to 14-inches; just make sure the rolled dough will cover the bottom and sides of the pan. You will want a little bit of excess hanging over the sides which will be helpful when connecting the lattice pieces). To easily transfer the dough to the bottom of the pie pan, roll the dough around the rolling pin and then unroll into the pie pan. Once transferred, gently press the dough into the corners of the pan. Next sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of cornstarch and sugar on top of the rolled out dough; this will help prevent the bottom of the pie from becoming soggy. Next pour berry filling into pie pan. Finish your pie by rolling out the second dough disk into a 12-14 inch circle and then cut into 1 inch strips to be used as the lattice. For further detailed instructions on preparing your lattice top, you can check out this overview.

Once you’ve finished your lattice, brush the dough with egg and then sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes until edges are golden brown, then cover edges with foil and continue baking for an additional 20-30 minutes until the center is bubbly and has thickened.

To make the whipped cream, add the heavy whipping cream to a chilled mixing bowl. Whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks are about to form then add in sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form; be careful not to over-whip or the cream will become too thick and lumpy.

Buttered Popcorn & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hiding my love of popcorn has never really been an option. First there’s the audible click, click, click of kernels as they fall from the jar and then bounce around atop the pot on the stove. Then of course there’s the freshly popped buttery smell that permeates the apartment. My roommate can attest that popcorn is often my go-to snack (like every night often). So when I found this recipe, my mind was slightly blown.popcorn

Are you ready for this? My popcorn loving self and I weren’t, so I want to give you fair warning. Okay, here it goes. As the name suggests, these cookies have buttered popcorn swirled into the batter and are topped with sea salt. Oh and don’t forget there are also dark chocolate pieces swimming in every bite. I’ve made dessert popcorn in the past (aka a bowl of popcorn with chocolate chip pieces mixed in…. hello melty, salty, chocolatey goodness!) BUT I never thought to take this idea to the next level and create a cookie. Joy and Deb, hats off to you. Thank you for helping me step up my popcorn game.

You may be wondering what in the world does popcorn in a cookie taste like. Well, friends, let me tell you. It tastes a little bit like heaven. The popcorn gives the cookies a slight chew factor, in the best possible way, which is balanced by the ooey gooey center and crisp edges. I went ahead and made these bad boys with stovetop popcorn, but you can also use microwave popcorn, which the recipe actually recommends. Okay, I think that’s enough talking for now. Grab a glass of milk and your favorite movie and get ready to treat yo’ self.