Tag Archives: thanksgiving 2015

Hand Me A Hand Pie, And I’ll Tell You A Story

5 Dec

Do you ever notice yourself having the same conversation with different people within a short period of time? (And not the boring “Ho, man, the weather, right?!” conversation that should never, ever have to happen between people who like each other.) I realized that in the past week, I’ve talked to three separate people about how easy it is to completely change the course of your life with a seemingly small action, and then not realize until years and years later– in my case, almost a decade– how massive that shift actually was.

I’m not sure how specific I can or should get without upsetting a few balances in my life, even though I’m not sure how “balanced” those balances even are right now. But I’m also not sure how cryptically general I can be without making you lovely people hate me for being so freaking cryptically general. I guess I’ll just say that I made a decision to assert my independence at a young age and have only just realized that, in the process, I may have inadvertently completely bleeping jacked up any chance of “following my dreams.” Those last three words are in quotes because part of me– probably the Indian part of me, since I feel like “dreams” are a privilege and brown people laugh at those things– thinks that most people in the world aren’t afforded the opportunity to lament not pursuing dreams, and so I should STFU and be happy with my life. And for the most part, I am. But then…Eh. I dunno. I guess the title of this blog does start with the word “sad,” so, you know, can’t expect Sesame Street, right folks? I’m trying not to complain. Like I’ve said many times before, I am thankful for so much of my life. But sometimes it’s hard not to feel like there’s something I’m not doing that I could be, you dig?

Alas, in the meantime, as I said, let us celebrate and be grateful. For, Thanksgiving has just passed, the greatest holiday that ever could be. A friend innocently asked me how I was preparing and I shook the mini-booklet of recipes that I collected and had SPIRAL-BOUND at her. Yeah. That kind of cray. And on page one of that booklet? Hand pies. There is nothing more genius than a hand pie. It’s pie. In your hand. That you share with exactly no one. How does life get more awesome? It doesn’t, right? Hand pie pizza, hand pie cakes, hand pie steaks. I don’t even eat steak and I could totally get behind a hand pie steak. I feel like the person who invented hand pies is such a wizard, such an innovator, such a problem-solver, that s/he could probably help me figure out my mess of a life. Hand Pie Creator, oh, Hand Pie Creator, where art thou? Does thou take payment in, um, hand pies? (Prob not.)

Pear Cranberry Hand Pies (makes eight pies)

based loosely on a recipe from Food and Wine

1 pear, cored and chopped (you can peel it too if you prefer, but I like the texture of it so I keep it on)

2 pears, cored and cut into 1/2 inch dice (I realize I put pears on separate lines, but you’ll see why in a second, promise)

12 ounces of fresh cranberries

1 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour

1 pinch of cinnamon

1 pinch of salt

14-ounce package of cold, all-butter puff pastry

1 egg white

Sugar for dusting, optional

So, to start, I’m going to let ya’ll in on a secret: this recipe is a monster hybrid of two other recipes, only one of which you’ll notice I linked to, because the other one sucked so badly. It was so bad that I realized about halfway through preparing the “treat” gave it the side-eye and decided to ultimately Tim Gunn it into this recipe (holla at me if you get the reference). Cool? Cool.

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Start by pureeing the one chopped pear together with your cranberries, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water in a blender. Mix until smooth, then transfer puree into a medium-sized saucepan and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (be careful, as this will most certainly splatter, neat freaks), until thick.

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Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and set out to cool at room temperature, about 2 hours.

When puree is cooled, add in your remaining chopped pears, flour, cinnamon and salt, and toss to combine. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to a 12 to 14 inch square. Note that you don’t have to be exact about it. I sure as hell wasn’t.

One of my Instagram friends compared this to the Windows logo, prompting me to wonder if there's any universe in which Bill Gates would pay me for this. (There is not.)

One of my Instagram friends compared this to the Windows logo, prompting me to wonder if there’s any universe in which Bill Gates would pay me for this. (There is not.)

Divide the square into eight sort of equal smaller squares. Spoon some of the pear mixture onto one side of the pastry, then fold over and crimp the edges. You’ll notice that I said “some of the mixture” and did not give you an exact amount. Try less than what I did, but more than a teaspoon. Basically just make sure you can close them properly. I mean, I could, but it took some maneuvering and a LOT of annoying questions about the elasticity of puff pastry dough from my boyfriend. Still, I ain’t complaining about oozing, hot, gloriously gooey hand pies.

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Transfer pies to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill for at least 30 minutes.(The first time I made these, I chilled them overnight because I was exhausted and still had to prep two pies, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, cornbread, Brussels sprouts and myself mentally for all of the foods I just mentioned. Chilling the pies overnight worked out totally fine.)

Preheat your oven to 400ºF, and brush each pie with a bit of egg white. Sprinkle sugar on top, if desired, then send these babies into the oven for 30 minutes, until they are golden and the fruit mixture looks bubbly.

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Ok, originally the plan was to haul these over to my parents’ house as part of our Thanksgiving dessert menu but…um… I was having a lot of feelings that night and decided to eat them. The pies. Also my feelings. I definitely ate a lot of feelings that night. And the feelings tasted PHENOMENAL. They’re flaky, gooey, tangy and overall wonderful. They’re also not too sweet, which I greatly appreciated.

Note: I’m writing this at about 9:20pm on a Wednesday night and I just made another batch of these because I had leftover filling. I purposely brushed my teeth while baking to avoid attacking one fresh out of the oven. Then I saw the pies, promptly forgot about my teeth, and had at ’em. #worthit

Also! Without getting all preachy on all of you, I’m trying to put together a toy drive for homeless kids, working with Coalition for the Homeless. Here’s a link to the wish list based on a list provided by the Coalition. If you’re willing and able, or know someone who is, please contribute. Thanks friends!

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Sorry For My Face. It’s Just My Face. Here’s Some Cake. There’s Booze In It.

24 Nov

So it has come to my attention that I have a condition that needs addressing. No, it’s not my asthma, which I’ve had and unfortunately known about since I’ve been able to retain memory, though that’s decided to rear its ugly, suffocating head this weekend as well. It’s an affliction that seems to be incurable, unless I suddenly come into a significant sum of money and develop a desire to make nice with a cosmetic surgeon.
I have Bitchy Resting Face.

Ok, I’m messing with you guys. I totally knew I had BRF. I’m not a complete moron! It has, however, come up more frequently in recent days, which either means that a. I’ve gotten bitchier-looking as I’ve aged, or b. more people have been talking to me and have felt comfortable telling me I’m scary, which is probably impossible if I’m that scary, so it’s probably a. My bad, guys. I’m trying out a new eyeliner?

How I've been nursing the pain

How I’ve been nursing the pain

The brave few in life who have dared approach me fall into the category of My Boyfriend (there’s, uh, one person in that group) and Nice People Who Have Told Me My I Dropped My Cell Phone (there are a LOT of people in this group. The most recent is a dude who informed me of the dropped device, handed it back to me, proceeded to start a conversation with me, then proceeded to promptly end that conversation once he saw what he was dealing with. And I smiled, too!). Sometimes, I even try to make pleasant conversation with other people, and it fails. Yesterday I attempted to joke around with the nurse who was treating me (for the asthma, not my face, though that’s probably kind of an untapped market, no?) and she just… left? Then, whilst picking up my prednisone at Duane Reade, I decided to load up on Halloween Kit-Kats that were still on clearance (32 cents each!) and tried to be all self-deprecating with the pharmacist, who was NOT having it. I mean, you’re not really supposed to mix chocolate and asthma– why did you bestow this illness upon me, Baby Jesus?!– so maybe she was just being judgmental, but still. It’s totally my face.

How do you all deal with these problems, dear readers? It’s very difficult to make friends as an adult, that is a fact. It’s even harder when you’re workin’ with what I’m workin’ with. I’ve decided to try and push through it the healthiest way I know how: drowning my sorrows in booze. And booze-soaked cake. Also it’s almost Thanksgiving, and you all know I like this holiday a little bit, so we’re recipe testing. Also booze. For the soul. Maple Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake, anyone? Try saying THAT while you’re buzzed, amirite?*

Maple Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake 

adapted from Food & Wine

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1/4 cup of brown sugar

1 overripe mashed banana

1 large egg

1 cup of milk, room temperature

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

Big pinch of salt

3/4 cup of pure maple syrup

1/4 cup of brown sugar

3 tablespoons of bourbon

1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional

1/4 cup of chocolate chips, optional

Ice cream, for serving, optional, highly recommended though

Preheat your oven to 375ºF.  In the microwave, melt butter in a deep 2-quart baking dish. Stir in sugar and banana until combined, then whisk in egg and milk. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt, then stir into baking dish until everything is mixed fully.

This is a dangerous mixture, btw. You'll be curious and will want to sip from this. Do not. It is the drink of the Devil.

This is a dangerous mixture, btw. You’ll be curious and will want to sip from this. Do not. It is the drink of the Devil.

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In a microwave-safe cup or in a saucepan (you can do this in the microwave, high power for one minute, or on a stovetop, medium heat until hot), heat maple syrup, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of hot water. Add in bourbon, then drizzle over the batter (it will seep to the bottom, and it will be glorious, just you wait). Don’t stir it.  Scatter pecans and chocolate chips on top, if using.

Set the dish on a baking sheet, then bake for at least 40 minutes (mine took closer to 50), until the top is golden. Let it cool for 5 minutes, then serve with ice cream if desired.

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So, my feelings? Um, they’re mostly feelings of drunken happiness. More happiness than drunkenness, but there’s a significant amount of the latter in there, I think because I was sipping bourbon while this was baking. Why, I cannot tell you. Inspiration? Maybe I thought it would go well with asthma meds? That’s totally safe, right?

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I mean, it may not look like much, but this thing packs a punch. It’s basically a cake-y top with a lovely, syrupy, lightly-bourbon-kissed pudding nestled underneath. If you’re trying to stretch your stomach in time for Turkey Day (um, I am) while inspiring your taste buds with fall favorites, this is the pudding cake for you. Oh, also, be over 21. There. A recipe AND a PSA. You’re welcome, America!

*Ya’ll know I’m kidding right? That’s super unhealthy. Pick up a journal, have some tea and have a good cry. Then call me in the morning. It’s better on the phone, you won’t have my bitchface to look at. Oh also I’m a little tipsy from, uh, recipe testing. 

Rugelach. Pumpkin. Pie. Rugelach. And… All The Feelings.

27 Nov

First off, I’d like to put out a huge thank you/sorry/thank you to everyone who read and understood (or, hey, didn’t quite understand) my previous post. Anxiety is an embarrassing thing to admit in any realm, I think, even though it shouldn’t be, because pretty much everyone has had those momentary fits of panic at one time or another. I just happen to have them at all the time or another. As I explained to my very understanding boyfriend, I operate at a seven (out of a possible eleven. Eleven for no reason. Also for Spinal Tap). Sometimes I go below that, but that’s pretty much my baseline. And I recognize that that’s not the best but… it’s me. So like me, please, tightened jaw, shaky fists, watery eyes and all. Or don’t. It’s cool (ohmygodeighteighteightI’mataneight).
So, anyway, now, let’s move on to something great: Thanksgiving! So, yes, there’s been a lot of garbage this year. In my life. In all of our lives, I’m sure. (If you live a garbage-less life, then, well, you’re probably not having any fun here and should probably go Youtube some Yanni or something. That was pretty much the best diss I could come up with.) There is, though, likely more lovely things to be happy about and grateful for than we realize. I’m grateful to still be writing this blog and still have new people tell me they read it. I mean… I really can’t tell you all how oddly wonderful that is. I think I spend so much time thinking I’m just a nobody posting about what a messy “baker” I am that I forget people sometimes enjoy this stuff. Thanks, you. I’m also grateful for the people who motivate me to keep operating (even if it’s at a seven) daily. You know who you are and you know that I love you.

Thanksgiving-funny-hands

Thanksgiving-funny-hands

Now that we’ve gotten that squared away, let’s talk about pumpkin. Ya’ll know I’m on a kick given the month and the season, so there are no surprises there. Also, Thanksgiving this year and the first day of Hanukkah fall on the same day, and since I love eating absolutely everything always, I thought it would be a splendid idea to work with a recipe that combines both holidays, because genius.

Pumpkin Pie Rugelach

adapted from Serious Eats (I swear I’m creative and look elsewhere for recipes, but I love these folks)

For the crust

2 cups of all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons of sugar

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of cloves

1/4 teaspoon of ginger

1/4 teaspoon of allspice

2 sticks (or 1 cup) of cold butter, cut into 1-inch chunks

8 ounces of cold cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks

For filling/coating

1 cup of pumpkin butter (I used Trader Joe’s brand)

4 tablespoons of chopped walnuts or pecans (I used pecans)*

1 egg, beaten

Cinnamon sugar (1 teaspoon of cinnamon + 1/4 cup of sugar)

*If you’d like to make these nut-free, you can! Chop up roasted pumpkin seeds and use instead :).

Now, you’ll want to keep the butter and cream cheese as cold as possible throughout this process to allow for the flakiest crust possible. Keep that in mind, homies.

Cold as ice. Not really. But cold.

Cold as ice. Not really. But cold.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and spices and set aside. Now, in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl and using a hand mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese just until smooth. Pour in your dry ingredients and mix just until you start to see curds form and hold together. Take the dough out, divide it in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Now, to assemble these babies. Lightly flour a large, and I mean large, surface. Gently roll out one piece of dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. Try not to do this on a surface directly above a working dishwasher, as that sh*t gets hot and will really screw with your dough. Just saying, not like that happened.

Ok. It happened.

Ok. It happened.

Anyway, form a large rectangle (9×13″ if possible), then spread dough with 1/2 cup of pumpkin butter and sprinkle with nuts of your choosing. Roll up from the short end, into a long log.

I realize that these look like the kind of monstrosity that Chipotle tries to pass of as a healthy meal. But I'm just messy.

I realize that these look like the kind of monstrosity that Chipotle tries to pass of as a healthy meal. But I’m just messy.

Cut into 1-inch wide pieces and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat this process with your other half of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.

Now, preheat your oven to 350ºF. Brush each piece with egg wash, then liberally sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake until golden and puffy, about 25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes in pan, then let cool completely on wire racks.

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I should mention that at first my rugelach didn’t come out as flaky as I’d hoped. I actually needed to toast them at 400º for an additional ten minutes to achieve the consistency I was going for. This annoyed me greatly, and I started out basically hating these things.

Then I bit into one. And then I let my boyfriend bite into one. And then I brought some to work.

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Mmmm. Yeah. It took some convincing to eat one after I got pissed off and gave up on Thanksgiving (it’s this annual thing I do before I inevitably change my mind and bake nine thousand more things), but then it took convincing to stop eating them, presumably because my boyfriend cares about my health wanted them all to himself. Work people also devoured them, which is kinda really nice. If you’ve got the time and enough cold surfaces on which to make these, go for it.

Whatever you decide, have a lovely Thanksgiving. Thank you for putting up with me for all of this time. ❤

Sweet And Sappy And Pies And FOOD! A Sad Shibow Thanksgiving

27 Nov

FRIENDS!
How was your Thanksgiving? Seriously, tell me. As you all [hopefully] know by now, Thanksgiving is, according to yours truly, the best holiday there could possibly be. There is food and booze (uh, where I come from at least…) and desserts and, most importantly of all, the people you love and lurrrrve for whom to be especially grateful. I love it.

So, this year, we went to my parents’ house and insisted on doing almost all of the work. My dad handled the turkey, mostly because a 15-pound bird would be screwed in my care. More importantly, the people who would be consuming that 15-pound bird would be screwed in my care. It’s just not my thing.

Know what is my thing? Fresh baked bread, three-cheese macaroni and cheese, fresh cranberry sauce, roasted brussels sprouts, and three pies. (I only kept it to three desserts since there were six of us and I had to make some savory dishes as well 😉 ) Boyfriend made the most amazing mashed potatoes, and Sylvapotamus killed it with homemade stuffing and some chocolate mousse that I did very bad things to (more on that later).

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Take a look at that bird! Gorgeous, right? Ahhhhh….

So, anyway, it has been quite an interesting year. It’s been both trying and wonderful, stressful and blissful. I’m honestly kind of shocked by how different things are from the way they were last year. And by different, I mean better. I’ve got a lovely, handsome gentleman to share a couch (and a kitchen, and a hamper, and, well, a home) with, and I have parents and sisters who’ve welcomed him with open arms and three fingers of Johnnie Walker Black (nice job, Dad). Certainly, life is far from perfect and there is a LOT of work to be done in many aspects of my life. But I’m grateful to have the time to do it, and I’m really fortunate to have the company I have while I do it.

Well, that’s enough of that sap. Geez. Who invited the mushball to this sad-fest? Let’s move on to my favorite part of all of this: DESSERT!

Now, I need to confess something that is incredibly embarrassing for me: I cannot freaking make a freaking pie crust. I have freaking tried so many freaking times and every time my freaking pie crust sucks. Many recipes call for a food processor, which I am too boogie-down-broke to have right now, but I can’t even seem to follow the ones that don’t call for one. I mean, I’ve watched Youtube tutorials and consulted cookbooks and food blog forums, and I just have not gotten down the freaking process. I am so angry about this that I spent time debating whether or not to bust out ANOTHER f-word, but then I decided to keep this post a family show. How lucky are YOU?

So, yeah, there’s that. If you’re making a pie crust from scratch, please consult some other, better resources. I’d provide you with some but I’m not going to help you fail. :(. Anyway, I used frozen ready-made pie crusts. Now, these do not suck, but as many of you know, I hate the idea of not making all dessert components from scratch. But, after many tries and many sticks of butter wasted (R.I.P. hopes and dreams), I decided I had to go with the store-bought stuff, since pies are pretty much mandatory at Thanksgiving dinner.

Now, which pies, you wonder? I went with pumpkin, pecan and chocolate meringue. All three were deemed “must-haves” by various sweet-toothed guests. Since I used a pretty standard recipe for the pumpkin pie (the one found on the Libby’s Canned Pumpkin label), I’m only going to get into the latter two pies. Let’s start with the pecan!

Pecan Pie (makes one 9″ pie)

1 9-inch unbaked pie crust of your choice 😦

2 cups of coarsely chopped pecans + a few whole pecans for the top if you’d like to get fancy up in this pie

2 eggs

1/2 cup of light corn syrup

3/4 cup of brown sugar

1 tablespoon of molasses (if you’d like something milder, I would suggest pure maple syrup)

2 tablespoons of melted butter

2 tablespoons of flour

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Distribute your chopped pecans evenly along the bottom of your crust. Mix the remaining ingredients and then pour them over the nuts (pecans will rise to the top of the crust at this point).

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Top with whole pecans if you please.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the filling is set. If you’re worried about the crust burning, you can create a pie shield (basically a foil ring cut to cover the pie crust) and place it on top of the crust about halfway through baking. Once the pie’s done, remove from the oven and allow to cool on the counter completely.

Now, on to the next pie (don’t worry…the pictures are coming 😉 ). Now, the chocolate meringue is something I’m very fond of, mostly because it was one of the first successful desserts I ever made. Heart you.

Chocolate Meringue Pie(makes one 9-inch pie)

1 9-inch baked pie crust of your choice 😦

For the filling

3 egg yolks

1 cup of granulated sugar

3 tablespoons of flour

4 tablespoons of cocoa powder

1/8 teaspoon of salt

2 cups of milk (I used skim)

1 tablespoon of butter

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

For the meringue

3 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1/3 cup of granulated sugar

Preheat your oven to 400°F. In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together egg yolks, sugar, flour, cocoa and salt. Whisk in milk, and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a full boil.

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Remove from heat, stir in your butter and vanilla, and then pour into pie shell.

Now, let’s make our meringue. So, it’s really important, when beating egg whites, to work with an absolutely spotless bowl, and clean whisks. There shouldn’t be any moisture or bits of batter kicking around, or else you won’t have the stiff peaks a meringue needs. To start, using a stand or hand mixer on high, beat egg whites and salt together until foamy.

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Gradually add in your sugar while mixer is on, and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. This may take a little while, so just be patient.

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Once done, spread meringue evenly on top of custard, making sure to spread so that the chocolate isn’t visible. Obviously I took the above picture before I finished spreading. Anyway, bake for 10-12 minutes, until the meringue is lightly browned.

So, how did it all turn out?

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Pretty well, if I do say so myself. Boyfriend was partial to the pecan, which I was not as crazy about (I guess pecan’s just too sweet for my blood), and I was all about the chocolate meringue. I was also really into Sylvapotamus’s chocolate mousse, to the point where when I accidentally knocked the entire bowl of it over (and broke the bowl) I was still trying to figure out ways to eat it off of the floor. I am sorry Sylvapotamus. 😦

So, that was my Turkey day. And I miss it already.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding, And The Sasquatch That Changed Everything

2 Dec
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Originally, this was going to start out as yet another post dedicated to all things pumpkin and Thanksgiving. Now it’s the post where I rant about how tired I am of the city life and need to hunker down in the forest somewhere. Why the forest? Well, I saw this terrible, terrible movie a couple of weeks ago. It was an independent movie that apparently garnered rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival and caused me to worry about the fate of society (not because of anything particularly moving within the film, but because I can’t understand how a group of reputable professionals who supposedly know a little bit about cinema could stand this thing). I’m hesitant to tell you the name of the movie. As you can probably tell by now, I’m hesitant to even tell you the premise. But it involves a Sasquatch who sounds like James Earl Jones and enjoys peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And it’s a drama. But all I could think of was this:
Just spectacularly awful, but I couldn’t look away, because a. I think I was amazed that the yeti costume from Harry and the Hendersons has held up so well and, b. the film was shot in the forests of Oregon and that kind of made me want to make the entire state my new hiding place.

Yes, I am having visions of picking up my bakeware and hightailing it westward. Maybe it’s the ol’ quarter-life crisis popping up again, or maybe it’s just restlessness from spending my entire life in Da Hurst (That’s Elmhurst, for all of you fancy folk who don’t know Queens. Please don’t Google Map me.), but I am tired. Some random old dude rammed into me on my way home from work the other day, just because he could! Seriously, he went out of his way to walk toward me and knock into me (Yes, I do believe he was certifiably deranged, but still). Some other random young dude stomped on my tiny foot on the F train that same night and did not apologize! ANIMALS!

The chances of me actually fleeing the state anytime soon are pretty slim, but I still think it’s time for a change, for the above reasons and trillions more that have nothing to do with baking. Maybe I need a new neighborhood to call home and a new challenge to completely sink into. Does anyone have an obstacle course you can throw my way, or perhaps a complicated mathematical formula in need of solving? I can’t help with the latter, but I’d be able to find someone who can and maybe make a new friend in the process. Maybe I can even teach the nerd to bake.

Speaking of baking… oh, this is a baking blog, isn’t it? Ok, this bread pudding is legitimately one of my favorite holiday desserts. I’d made it last year and could not wait to bust it out yet again this Thanksgiving. I’d pulled it from an interactive column that the New York Times started last year. All of the recipes are vegetarian or vegan (this one’s vegan), and all of the ones I’ve tried out have been amazing. And that’s coming from someone who enjoys cheese. And bacon. Oh bacon. Wait…no… let’s focus:

Chocolate Pumpkin Bread Pudding

1 cup of coconut milk

15 ounces of canned pureed pumpkin

1/2 cup of brown sugar or maple sugar, or a mix of both if you’re wild like that

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons of nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon of ginger

1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves

10 cups of cubed, crusty bread of your choice (I used a 14-ounce loaf of French whole wheat bread)

3/4 cups of semisweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli which don’t have dairy in them, if you want to keep it vegan up in here)

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

Confectioners sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350ºF and grease a 9×13″ baking dish. In a blender, puree coconut milk, pumpkin, sugar or syrup and spices until completely smooth.

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Toss your bread cubes with this mixture, then stir in chocolate chips until completely covered. Super easy, right? Even better: this can be a make-ahead dessert, in that you can stir everything together and toss this into the refrigerator, covered, up to three days before you plan to bake it. Um, in that case though, don’t preheat the oven until you’re really ready to bake. I guess that should go without saying, but I’d rather be safe, especially since ya’ll know where I live now.

Sprinkle on brown sugar evenly over the mixture, then bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Cool for about ten minutes, then dust with confectioners’ sugar if you please, and enjoy.

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I don’t think this picture does the pudding justice. I really love this dessert. I love it so much that I kept a good chunk of it back in my refrigerator. Sharing, schmaring, am I right? If you ever want to reheat the leftovers, I recommend throwing it back into the oven at 200ºF for ten minutes. Or, if you live in the woods, heat a skillet over a small bonfire. If you’re lacking wood, set out a couple of PB&J sammies for the neighborhood Bigfoot and you’ll be set in no time. God, that movie really ruined me.

It’s Thanksgiving, So We’re Talking About Stuffing [One Dessert Into Another]

23 Nov

Guess what I did on Monday! I went to see Chris Cornell perform at Carnegie Hall! Guess how terrible my seats were! THIS terrible (my arms are stretched WAY out)!

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And yet, the show was pretty perfect. I’m happy I decided to go instead of scamming someone else into buying my nosebleed, second-to-last row seats. That man has got a VOICE, and that voice has got some power. He’s also got some serious Soundgarden fans: on the long elevator ride up to our seats, my show companion observed several long-haired devotees packed into our car and stage-whispered “take me to 1994!” Yes, I did lose it. And no, I obviously did not make friends at this show. Still, in the spirit of a holiday that’s supposed to be about being happy and grateful, I thought I’d start with a night that actually made me feel those things. Especially since I’ve been such a lame downer lately. Let me make that up to you with more sweets, dear people.

As you guys probably know by now, I like stuffing awesome things into other awesome things to create super desserts. I mean, why have one tasty, amazing and butter-filled concoction when you can have two? And why have them separately when you can just smush them together? Aren’t you always so bummed when you only have room on your plate for a few desserts, so you have to start piling cookies on top of pie slices on top of puddings? I know you all do that too, so don’t even play.

Enter the Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake. Yes, kids, it’s for real and it’s fabulous. It’s also not healthy at all, so if you’re looking for something pumpkin-y that’s low-sugar and low-fat (Mom and Dad), feast your eyes on my previous post on doughnuts. For the rest of us champions, there exists this glorious, fat-laden monstrosity that deserves a spot on your Thanksgiving treat table. It also just deserves a spot in any other void in your life. What I’m saying is that this cake will solve all your problems. Trust me, I’m a Reverend.*

I turned these into muffins because I’m an evil human being intent on giving these away to unsuspecting friends and family, and muffins make this so much easier. If you would rather make this as a cake, you can use a 10″ spring form pan for easy removal.

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photo(3)

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake Muffins (makes 18 muffins)

For the coffee cake

2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

3/4 cup of butter, cold and cut into cubes

1 egg

3/4 cup of sour cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the filling

8 ounces of cream cheese or neufchatel cheese

2 cups of canned pumpkin (again, NOT pumpkin pie filling, that ain’t right)

1/4 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves

Pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Let’s start with the coffee cake portion of this death trap. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Throw in your cubed butter and start mixing with clean fingers until it’s formed into little lumpy balls. This might take you a while, and it might feel a little like that pottery scene from Ghost. Don’t go there, though. Instead, set aside 3/4 cup of this mixture for the topping.

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In a separate bowl, mix together the sour cream, egg and vanilla, then stir into your flour mixture to create a loose dough (don’t overmix). For muffins, mold these into the bottoms and 1 inch up the sides of your tins. It might take a while because the dough gets sticky, so pace yourself.

Then, in a medium-sized bowl using a hand mixer, mix together your cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, spices and salt until smooth. Pour the mixture evenly into your muffin cups, over the coffee cake dough.

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photo(1)

Sprinkle the crumb topping you’d reserved over each cup, making sure to evenly cover them as best you can. Then send the pans into the oven for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating pans halfway through for even baking, until the sides are lightly browned.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Mine came out a little more than lightly browned, because I didn’t check on them at 55 minutes. Don’t be like me. These were still pretty amazing, though, based on all of the “taste-testing” I did. I also gifted one to my coworker and friend, Afshan, and stood behind her going “bite into it! Bite into it” while she picked it up (I realize how creepy that is now, but did not at the time. My bad, friend). She gave it a thumbs-up too, even though I am a creeper.

Anyway, since it’s Thanksgiving and one of the only times of the year I grow a soul, I’d like to just take a minute to let you people know how grateful I am that you actually read this thing. It’s funny and touching to hear someone say “I read about it on your blog,” because I’m still sometimes convinced that I’m the only person who sees it. So thanks for making this even more fun than I thought it would be when I started causing trouble in the blogosphere earlier this year. Have a Happy Thanksgiving. We’ll be back to our regular soulless, untouchy, unfeely programming shortly.

*Obviously I am joking yet again. Just because I’m a minister doesn’t make anything I say gospel (har har). Except that this dessert is amazing. That’s for real.

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