White Chocolate Irish Cream Mousse

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope everyone remembered to put on something green this morning and are looking forward to a cheerful day of shamrocks and leprechaun shenanigans. As for me, I’m eating the most delicious mousse while catching up on tons of assignments for school.

Sometimes celebration is in the little things, folks. And that’s okay! Especially when one of those little things is White Chocolate Irish Cream Mousse. I’ve made Irish cream mousse with coffee before (see the post here on my old blog, The Purple Door Kitchen.) It was a hit with my family, but I wanted to try something a little different. This mousse is much firmer since it uses gelatin and not egg yolks and it is so much easier to put together! No tempering of eggs, no stove or oven required, and it comes together in ten minutes or 15 minutes. It’s sweet, creamy, and rich from the white chocolate and the Irish cream flavor is not overbearing at all. It’s really just a hint, which I prefer. No one wants to get hit over the head with boozy alcohol after a meal in my opinion. It’s delicious cold and firm from the fridge, but my favorite is to eat the fluffy stuff right off of the beaters from the mixer. 😉

The mousse I didn’t eat straight from the mixing bowl I spooned into three ramekin cups, but it’s so rich and sweet from the white chocolate and cream, I would say that this makes four servings. A dusting of cocoa powder really adds to the mousse by adding just a hint of bitterness to cut the sweetness. Add a bit of extra whipped cream and a drizzle of Irish cream on top and you have not just a delicious St. Patrick’s day treat, you have a pretty one too!

White Chocolate Irish Cream Mousse
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup white chocolate
  • 1 Tablespoon whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Irish Cream Liquor
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Unsweetened cocoa (for garnish)
  • Whipped cream (for garnish)
  • Extra Irish Cream Liquor (for garnish)
Instructions
  1. In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the two tablespoons of water and let bloom for about five minutes. Microwave for about 20 seconds to melt the gelatin and set aside.
  2. In another microwave proof bowl combine the milk and white chocolate and melt in the microwave 15 seconds at a time, stirring in between each interval until you get a smooth consistency.
  3. Add the gelatin and Irish cream to the chocolate and stir until combined.
  4. In a stand mixer on medium-high speed whip the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Stir ⅓ of the whipped cream into the warm chocolate until combined and then fold into the remaining whipped cream carefully.
  5. Serve immediately for a looser fluffy dessert or spoon into cups or containers and chill 4 hours for a firmer mousse.
  6. Before serving, top with whipped cream, a drizzle of Irish Cream and dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder.

 

Taste bud Tales: Paddington Bear’s Spiced Orange Marmalade

“But whatever did you do for food?” asked Mr. Brown. “You must be starving.” Bending down, the bear unlocked the suitcase with a small key, which it also had around its neck, and brought out an almost empty glass jar. “I ate marmalade,” he said, rather proudly. “Bears like marmalade.” 

-A Bear Called Paddington

 Have you been feeling the drag of the world lately, friends? It seems dark and suffocating when you hear the news or see where we are going. There is so much unfairness and hate and it seems to only be growing. It’s easy to want to run back to bed and ignore our conscience until it all blows over and everything is sunny happy-go-lucky.

I usually find that when the world is getting to be an unbearable place and every day seems more hopeless than the one before that BOOKS are often a comfort. You discover that there are characters who are brave, selfless, who change their world, and speak out for good things. Those characters give a little glimmer of hope. Good really does triumph over the bad if we work hard and remember to live in truth and kindness.

There are hundreds of literary heroes, but especially in the books we read as children. The bravest souls are the ones who walk into a wardrobe, long for a bosom friend, or live under the stairs. With all of the crazy news stories and disappointing global situations there is one fictional character that we could look to for encouragement: Paddington Bear. Paddington is the world’s most beloved refugee. And if there is any group of people that needs a friend, it’s refugees.

“I’m not a criminal,” said Paddington, hotly. “I’m a bear!”

Paddington is from deepest darkest Peru and he was sent by his Aunt Lucy to England with a worn out hat, a worn down suitcase, and a vague set of instructions tied to his neck: “Please look after this bear. Thank you” He also carries a nearly empty jar of marmalade. It turns out that bears very much like marmalade.

When he meets his new family, the Browns, in the train station not everyone is on board to adopt a foreign bear. He runs into a few plights that our own refugees or immigrants could recognize, for example the cab driver insists that fare for bears is double and dirty sticky bears covered in marmalade are double the price again. Paddington’s neighbor refuses to call him by anything other than “Bear!” and tries to persuade Paddington to run errands for him. The little Peruvian bear doesn’t have it easy for sure. But Paddington proves himself over and over again and builds a family despite his struggles. His is kindhearted, polite, and stands up for the things he knows are important. He isn’t afraid to give someone a “hard stare” (taught to him by his aunt Lucy) if they are being unfair or judgmental. In short, Paddington is the type of person we should all strive to be, even if he isn’t a person at all.

“I’ll never be like other people. But that’s alright, because I’m a bear.” -Paddington

One small thing we can do to be more like Paddington is to eat quite a bit more marmalade. This brown sugar spiced marmalade is the perfect thing for spreading on toast or making marmalade sandwiches out of (marmalade sandwiches are Paddington’s specialty and he tends to keep one in his hat for emergencies.) With a packet of pectin you don’t have to worry about getting it to set up. This recipe guarantees a nice jammy sweet spread to brighten up the dreary world and remind us that we can always be brave and learn new things in the most unexpected places.

Taste bud Tales: Paddington Bear's Spiced Orange Marmalade
 
Ingredients
  • 5 sweet oranges
  • 2 medium lemons
  • 2 cups water
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 box of powdered fruit pectin
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
Instructions
  1. In order to make shelf stable marmalade you will need enough jars to hold 4 pints. Sterilize the jars and rings and set on a clean kitchen towel while you prepare the marmalade.
  2. First, prepare your fruit peel for soaking. Thoroughly wash and dry the fruits. Remove the peel from the oranges and lemon with a vegetable peeler and trim off any excess pith or white from the peels. Cut into thin strips. In a large sauce pot combine the peel with 2 cups of water and ⅛ tsp of baking soda. Bring this to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer about 20 minutes.
  3. While the fruit peel is simmering, remove all the pith and white part from the remaining citrus fruit and roughly chop, trying to remove as much of the membrane as possible from the segments. Add the fruit to the sauce pot and simmer another 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the pectin and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in the sugars, cinnamon, and allspice. Bring to a rolling boil again and boil one minute, stirring continually. Ladle the hot mixture into your sterilized jars leaving ¼ of an inch of head space at the top Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp cloth to remove any possible sticky areas that could prevent the jars from sealing.
  5. Process your jars of marmalade for 10 minutes in a boiling hot water bath. Once the jars seal with a pop they are able to be stored in your pantry for up to a year.
Notes
If your marmalade looks like it is too runny, place in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours. The cold will help it to firm up.
Also, any citrus fruit can be used in this recipe. Feel free to replace any of the fruit with 4 cups of prepared citrus fruit such as grapefruit, or lemon.

 

Five Spice Almond Cookies

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

Now, I never knew that Chinese New Year was even a thing until a year ago. I’m a pretty boring and uncultured white girl who loves Egg Rolls because they are vegetables wrapped in fried crunchy carbs and Orange chicken from Panda Express. The extent of my Asian culture experience is pretty limited. Last year, however, I was working as a receptionist/dental assistant for a dentist who had a large number of Chinese patients and I was able to talk to them about this big holiday. I had no idea that Chinese New Year was such a huge event!

Families get together for the entire day (even several days) and eat food, celebrate, exchange gifts, watch parades, and generally throw a party. It was really wonderful to be able to learn about the holiday from the patients I interacted with. Several of them even snuck me a little red envelope filled with chocolate gold coins or a five dollar bill (which I thought was the sweetest thing in the world) and wished me luck for the new year. I think that’s so generous and neat for a culture to do. We should all bless each other more, don’t you think?

So even though I am not working for Dr. Tran anymore I thought I would give a little shout out to the Chinese New Year and make some Five Spice Almond Sugar Cookies. Just a humble nod to those little red envelopes and the kind people who hand them out every year. Believe me, kind red envelope deliverers, you are making your dental receptionists, teachers, postal office workers, and friends days so much better by wishing them luck. Keep being you.

These cookies are so delicious, I can’t eat just one. I always end up grabbing another one (or two) after I lick the red sugar sparkles off of my fingers. They have a little crunch on the outside from the decorators sugar, but are chewy and soft like a bakery cookie. When you first take a bite it seems like a pretty typical (albeit tasty) sugar cookie. But after the second bite you can taste the sweet almond flavor and the unique hint of the Chinese Five Spice powder.

Five Spice is such a cool thing to have on hand. I end up tossing it into so many things and it really enhances a lot of dishes. Usually the five spices are Anise, Clove, Cinnamon, Pepper, and Fennel. You can use it as a spice rub for pork or chicken, add it to your stir fry sauce, mix it into your breading for fried foods, or scoop a bit into your cookies. 😉 The colored sugar is optional for these, of course. Also you can substitute regular sugar or take a teaspoonof Five Spice powder mixed into white sugar to give them a spicier oomf if you like.

Happy Chinese New Year! Good Luck and Blessings to you!

Five Spice Almond Sugar Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
  • ¼ cup red decorator sugar (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat softened butter and sugar until fluffy and pale.
  3. Add the egg and almond extract and beat on medium until mixed thoroughly.
  4. Add the flour, baking soda, and five spice powder beat until a dough is formed.
  5. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in decorators sugar. Place onto a baking sheet about two inches apart. Squish the cookie balls down slightly with the flat palm of your hand.
  6. Bake on the middle rack of the oven 8 minutes. Do not over bake, they will lose their chewiness.
  7. Remove cookies to a cooling rack. Eat them as soon as you can without burning the roof of your mouth. 😉

 

Mandarin Orange Meringue Pie

For some reason I have always thought meringue pie was fancy, difficult, and a little bit of a risk to attempt. I realized that this is ridiculous. If anything, making this meringue pie was easier than wrangling two different pie crusts that are crumbling everywhere, getting flour all over the counters.

Meringue is fluffy, sweet, and the perfect accompaniment to tangy citrus fruit. Lemon meringue is the most popular option and I LOVE lemon. I might love lemon more than most people. It’s a severe problem and I’m working on that (albeit, halfheartedly)

But since I was lacking enough lemons to make a whole pie and my fruit basket was full of mandarin oranges I decided to go a different route. It was 100% the right choice! Tangy, sweet, and a little different: Mandarin Meringue Pie. Genius. It has whole orange segments stirred into the smooth curd and topped with fluffy marshmallowy meringue that complements a crisp crust very nicely.

I think it’s a great way to usher into the season of more refreshing desserts after all of those heavy holiday dishes. Fruity and clean flavors are my favorite in the new year and since citrus is always growing year round here in California I don’t need to buy produce that is out of season to make a lighter pie. Win-win!


Mandarin Orange Meringue Pie
 
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup fresh mandarin or orange juice
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 can mandarin orange segments, drained with water reserved
  • ½ teaspoon orange extract, optional
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a pie plate with the pie dough and prick all over with a fork. Bake until it is golden brown, about ten minutes.
  3. For the filling, whisk together 2/4 cup of sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt in a large saucepan. Add the orange juice, lemon juice, and ¼ cup of the water drained from the can of mandarin segments. Whisk together slowly over medium heat.
  4. Add 4 egg yolks and orange extract and whisk together until frothy. Continuously stir over medium heat until the curd becomes thick and bubbly, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the 4 tablespoons of butter until melted. Stir in the orange segments from the can of mandarin oranges and pour the curd into the prepared crust. Chill or let cool to room temperature before making the meringue topping.
  6. For the meringue, beat four egg whites until they are foamy. While still whisking on high speed, gradually add ½ cup of sugar and ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar.
  7. Whisk about 5 to 8 more minutes until the egg whites are shiny and stiff. To test stiffness, pull the beaters or a whisk straight up from the egg white. The peak should stand up tall on it's own and not slump back down into the bowl.
  8. Spoon or pipe the meringue onto the pie. Make sure the meringue touches the crust on all sides, creating a seal in order to prevent it from shrinking as it bakes.
  9. Bake in an oven preheated to 400 degrees F for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the top is golden. Cool completely before serving.
Notes
To adapt this pie to make a version reminiscent of those childhood favorites: Orange Creamsicles, substitute 1 and ½ teaspoons of vanilla for the ½ teaspoon of orange extract.

 

Cranberry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.

My fellow elves, carolers, busy shoppers, and gift wrappers! Hello. It is December and now all the baking of all the things has begun. I’ve already hit up two holiday themed get togethers and it’s only the first week!

 

I always love a get together because it usually means I have an excuse to bake something a little more special than usual. Unfortunately, those special baked treats rarely make it to the blog. I can never snap a satisfactory picture before I whisk it off to be devoured.

This time, though, I vowed to set aside a few extra cupcakes to make an appearance here on Nifty Spoon, so I made a few extras just for you! Good thing, too because these delicious-out-of-this-world-amaze-balls Cranberry Cupcakes will not last long. When I tasted these they became my new favorite cupcake.

I think it’s because I wasn’t expecting them to turn out so moist and light. The cranberry flavor is subtle, sweet and tart at the same time. With a dash of nutmeg and a swirl of White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (hoh yes!) they transformed into a pretty spectacular dessert.

So if you have a Christmas party you need to make a good impression at, I suggest these. I also suggest these if you don’t have a party to go to at all and just plan on binge watching Hallmark Christmas Movies all evening. It’s a good choice either way.

I filled these with extra cranberry sauce because it’s spiced and jammy and want it all over everything anyway, but feel free to keep yours mess-free. There is plenty of cranberry flavor without the extra filling. For a great recipe for homemade cranberry sauce check out this one here. It’s what I used in this recipe and it’s awesome, but you can use whole berry canned sauce, your own homemade version, or a mix of whatever.

Now, it’s hard to choose what is the crowning glory of these cupcakes. There is that White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting, what on this planet could be more delicious?…and then unique fluffy cranberry cake, spiced cranberry and pear filling. I might be a little attached to these cupcakes, they are so good.

(Little shout out to the cute little Santa Village Bakery my little brother got me for Christmas when he was about nine years old. I love it to death. It just reminds me of how thoughtful that little dude was and how well he knows me. :D)

Cranberry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
 
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup cranberry sauce (homemade or canned whole berry)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 6 oz. white chocolate chips
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • ½ cup cranberry sauce for filling (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and cranberry sauce until well combined.
  3. Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg to the batter. Using a ¼ cup, scoop the batter into the cupcake liners, filling each about ⅔ of the way to the top.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until the tops have risen, a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and the cake springs back when lightly touched. About 22-25 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  5. To make frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. In a microwavable bowl melt the white chocolate in the microwave 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between each interval. Pour into the cream cheese mixture and beat until well combined. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. If the frosting seems too runny to pipe onto the cupcakes, refrigerate for an hour to let the chocolate firm up in the frosting and stiffen it.
  6. To fill and decorate, cut out the middles of the cupcake and then pipe a ring of frosting around the tops of the cupcakes to create a frosting "dam" to hold in the filling. Fill up with cranberry sauce.

 

Earl Grey Pear Cranberry Sauce

We are T minus 7 days until Turkey Day!! Are you ready? I’m ready. I’m so beyond ready to have my family here with me (where they belong), making classic Thanksgiving dishes, playing good music, playing board games, watching football, and eating lots and lots of deliciously amazing food!

 

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This is the third year that we have hosted Thanksgiving at the Nifty Spoon residence and I love that this is becoming a tradition. There are lots of things that are slowly weaving themselves into our traditions too. Like serving green bean bacon bundles every year, what could be better?

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Traditions are funny. We have those things that we do every year and we live life thinking everyone does those things and then surprisingly you learn that not everyone plays checkers while they eat dessert and you have a mini life crisis. One common tradition for people is serving cranberry sauce alongside their turkey.

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Sometimes its the jiggly canned kind with the ridges imprinted into the side, sometimes its the homemade jammy kind. For our family its the nonexistent kind. We’ve never served cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. I don’t think we are meat-and-fruit people. *shrug*

This year I’m going to transform our cranberry-less dinner and serve up this delicious Earl Grey Pear and Cranberry Sauce. It is so delicious, I might have eaten it by the spoonful for breakfast this morning…and then toasted up some sourdough and ate it again on toast.

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I love a good steaming cup of Earl Grey tea with honey and lemon, it’s one of my favorite things. So I decided to warm up a traditional cranberry sauce by steeping the berries with some tea and adding lemon and honey at the very end with some cinnamon and allspice. The end result is a slightly different sweet and tangy sauce that I want to pour on everything (maybe even my turkey?)

 

Ingredients!

This year I’m planning on making some crepes Friday morning for all the sleepy shoppers and this sauce is going to be the star so I made a pretty large batch, feel free to follow the amounts and freeze your leftovers since this stuff is delicious year round. Otherwise you can cut it in half to make a more reasonable amount for just Thanksgiving Day. Because we will be eating this with crepes, I decided to make this nice and sweet and a little less jelly like and definitely a pour-able sauce. This is perfect because if the holiday weekend starts to wind down and the turkey leftovers are dwindling…you can grab this sauce and warm it up to pour over that vanilla ice cream in the fridge. And then promptly die of happiness.

If you are looking for other Thanksgiving recipes at Nifty Spoon check out my Recipe Page for things like Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie, Herb Maple Glazed Turkey, and more.

Earl Grey Cranberry Pear Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 4 Medium to Large Pears (Bartlett or Bosc)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup pomegranate or cranberry juice
  • 5 bags of Earl Grey tea
  • 12 oz. cranberries
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • ⅓ tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Peal and chop your pears.
  2. In a large pot stir together the cranberry or pomegranate juice with the sugar and bring just to a tiny boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and steep the Earl Grey tea bags for 4 minutes.
  3. After 4 minutes, remove the tea bags and squeeze the excess juice from them and discard. Return your pot to medium heat. Add your rinsed cranberries to the juice and sugar mixture and cook about 5-7 minutes or until the berries are popped.
  4. Add the pears, honey, cinnamon, and allspice and cook another 10 minutes, stirring often. If you like a smoother sauce, use a masher to break down the pear chunks as they cook.
  5. When the pears are soft and cooked through (about 10 minutes) stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
  6. Let the sauce cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for 3 months. Serve at room temperature with turkey dinner, spread on toast, spooned over crepes, or drizzled on ice cream.

 

Maple Pumpkin Pie (Dairy, Soy, and Nut Free!)

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Is everyone ready for pie yet? I’m always ready for pie, but it seems like autumn is truly pie season. It’s the Thanksgiving itch that can only be scratched with flaky buttery crust and creamy sweet pumpkin covered in fluffy whipped cream. Mmmmmm…Let there be Pie!

Catch all of my little doodles and art on my instagram, @nifty.candice.l There’s lots of pictures of yummy baked things there too. 😉

For the past two years (three this upcoming season!) my family has come to our little Nifty Apartment to spend Thanksgiving cozy and snug with us here in California. I really love it and I look forward to it more than anything in the wholllle year. I get the excuse to plan an elaborate menu and make too much food for the people I love most in the world. This year I’m double excited because we are adding my new brother-in-law to the mix so I have another mouth to feed! Last year my sister spent the day with him and his family and we missed them a lot. It seemed a little empty and small without them, so we made sure to snatch up their schedules and claim them for the 2016 holiday weekend. 😉

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If you’re crew is like our family you might have a few dietary restrictions to maneuver for the holidays. Don’t let that get you down! Smile, dear friends, because I have a soy-free, nut-free, dairy-free pumpkin pie for you to make and it will change your life.  My mom recently found out that she can’t do dairy and my brother has had a soy and nut allergy for a few years. So the menu might have changed a little from the past two Thanksgiving dinners. At first I panicked, I’m not used to accommodating for allergies while cooking. But I soon realized it’s pretty easy to switch, you just have to double check your ingredients and keep your head about you when you are in the kitchen. It can be a hard habit to break, but it can be done. I just have to remember not to throw cheese and butter on everything. But pumpkin pie was proving to worry me. Pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving staple, it cannot be missed! So I set out to make one. This is the result after three attempts and it is wonderful. Pure fall perfection! It is a bit firmer than your typical pumpkin pie, but the flavor is out of this world! Rich maple and warm spices all in a crust you wouldn’t know is missing the butter because it’s so tender. I can’t wait to make this again soon. Even if you aren’t trying to work around allergies I would recommend this pie because it is so good.

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So happy pie season! Let us all grab our forks and truly enjoy it.

Pumpkin Pie (dairy, soy, nut free)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 5-6 tablespoons cold water
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 15 oz pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1¼ cups coconut milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degree F (220 degrees C)
  2. For the crust, combine the four and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cut in the coconut oil until it is mostly evenly distributed into little pieces (about pea sized)
  3. With a fork or pastry cutter, stir in the cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is shaggy and comes together. Separate the dough into two flat round, equal disks.
  4. On a floured, cool surface with a rolling pin dusted with flour roll out one of the rounds. When it is about half as big as the size of your pie pan, use a floured spatula to loosen the dough from the counter top to prevent it from sticking and flip to continue rolling out until it is large enough to line the pie pan with a little overlap. Press into the pan and crimp the edges with your fingers or a fork.
  5. If desired, repeat with the second round of dough and roll out to about ¼ inch thickness and cut festive fall shapes to decorate your pie later on.
  6. To make the filling, stir together the white sugar, brown sugar, spices, and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, vanilla, maple extract, and coconut milk and whisk until well combined and smooth. Pour this filling into the prepared pie crust and place in the preheated oven.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for 40 to 50 more minutes until a knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean. The center may appear jiggly, don't worry!
  8. If desired, 25 minutes after reducing the temperature to 350, carefully arrange your additional pie crust decorations to your pie. brush with a little water (about a tablespoon) mixed with an egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar to give them a little golden color and sweet crunch. Return to the oven and continue baking for the remaining time.
  9. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy at room temperature or cold. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Notes
-This pie crust recipe makes enough for two regular 8 inch pie pans, one deep dish pie pan, or a pumpkin pie with one crust and extra pie crust cut outs for decoration. If you want to forgo the extra decor, feel free to cut the ingredients in the pie crust portion of this recipe in half to make just the bottom crust.
-This pumpkin pie is a bit firmer than traditional pumpkin pie so be careful not to over bake!

 

Pumpkin Chai Spice Rice Krispie Treats

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Iiiiiiiit’s October! Let all the seasonal baking begin! Now that I have patiently let September jaunt past with it’s apple flavored goodies and temperatures in the 90s (UGH California…) I can now, with zero restraint and complete and utter abandon, PUMPKIN SPICE ALL THE THINGS!

October 1st rolls around and my brain starts going over time. What should I pumpkin spice first? Should I do a classic like pumpkin spice bread? So timeless. Something adventurous? Pumpkin apple soup, has anyone ever made that before? Healthy: pumpkin spice quinoa granola. Pumpkin spinach smoothie, ew? Pumpkin scones, pumpkin whoopie pies,  pumpkin creme brulee. There are just so many things to make. I might get a little goofy.

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So of course I decided to make something a kinda out of the box for me. Typically, I don’t like to mess with a good thing. And if there is one good thing out there, it’s rice krispie treats. Everyone loves a crunchy chewy sweet vanilla rice krispie treat. But sometimes fall does crazy things to a person and you want to add autumn spices and pumpkin puree to classics and make them AWESOME.

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For my birthday Mr. Nifty got me some Chai spice mix and I love it. It’s warm and spicy and not too sweet. A tablespoon of chai spice added to these krispies make them pretty perfect. They have that slight orange tint from the pumpkin puree to give you a hint and with a few shakes of fall colored sprinkles they are cute, delicious, and fit right in with your over sized sweaters, boots, and scarf.

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Bonus time! They are just as easy as regular rice krispie treats, just a scoop of pumpkin and a few dashes of spices. Score.

Pumpkin Chai Spice Rice Krispie Treats
 
Ingredients
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon chai spice drink mix
  • 1 10 oz bag mini marshmallows
  • 6 cups rice crisp cereal
Instructions
  1. In a large sauce pan heat the butter and pumpkin puree over medium heat.
  2. When butter is melted, whisk in spices and chai drink mix. Pour in the marshmallows and stir continuously until melted and smooth.
  3. Remove sauce pan from the heat and let stand until cool to the touch, about 20 minutes.
  4. Pour in the rice crisp cereal and stir with marshmallow mixture until all combined.
  5. Press into a buttered 9 by 13 baking dish. If wanted, sprinkle jimmies or sprinkles over the top of the bars and press slightly into the mixture to stick.
  6. Let sit at least 2 hours before serving. The pumpkin added to the recipe calls for a long resting period to firm up. Cut into squares to serve. Store in air tight container.

 

Mediterranean Meatballs with Feta Tzatziki Sauce

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You know what? Meatballs are great. Also, waking up to my husband putting the extra thick fluffy blanket over me because its getting chillier in the mornings now, that’s great too. Super great. Snuggly warm drowsy drifting back to sleep great.

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Mr. Nifty has been getting on my case because he wakes up early, heads off to work and I keep sleeping. I guess he feels really lonely and gets grumpy when he leaves and I’m still all snuggled in bed. So about a week ago I promised to try and get up when he leaves. So far I’ve done it! Twice…

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Yeah, I’m terrible. I don’t know if there is anything more difficult than waking up when you don’t have to. If I had to rush to get to class or work by a certain time it wouldn’t be so hard. But I study remotely which means I make my own hours. And who would MAKE their hours be before 10 AM? Not me, that’s for sure. Any tips for motivating me to get up at the crack of dawn with the hubby? (It’s not really the crack of dawn. It’s more like 7:30. But that’s practically still nighttime, you know?) I’d appreciate any insight. Or a good excuse to keep sleeping in without the shame. 😉 That works too.

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Lucky for me, I made these amazing meatballs so Mr. Nifty can forgive me for being a lazy wife. Typically, we don’t really enjoy Mediterranean food. We never eat Greek food, it’s usually Thai, Mexican or Indian honestly. I’m not sure, but the flavors aren’t our favorite. So when I heard our bible study dinner this week was Mediterranean themed we weren’t too thrilled. But I really wanted to make something I was excited to eat. What’s more exciting to eat than meatballs? I contemplated, I researched. I tested. I intensely thought and planned. And then I created the most stupendous Mediterranean meatball.  It is soooooo goooooood. They are literally the perfect meatball.

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Amazing ways to eat these meatballs:

  • On toothpicks with roasted red peppers
  • Over couscous with cucumbers and tomatoes
  • Dipped in homemade tzatziki sauce (yeah! I included a recipe for that too! Double bonus!)
  • Stuffed in pita with lettuce and yogurt
  • In a spicy tomato sauce over rice…

Yum!

Mediterranean Meatballs with Feta Tzatziki Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Little delicious savory bites of meatballs and a creamy yogurt cucumber sauce. Yum!
Serves: 35-40
Ingredients
  • ½ pound each of ground beef, pork, and turkey
  • 1 cup cooked couscous
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 6-8 leaves fresh mint, diced
  • 3 sprigs fresh oregano, diced
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 cucumber, grated with water squeezed out
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 40 degrees F.
  2. In a stand mixer or large mixing bowl combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  3. With wet hands, roll meatballs about an inch big and place on baking sheet. You can line with foil beforehand to help with clean up.
  4. Bake about 22 to 30 minutes or until the meatballs are no longer pink in the middle. Let cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature.
  5. In a small bowl stir together the yogurt, cucumber, 2 cloves garlic, fresh dill, ¼ cup feta. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve with warm meatballs. Store in the fridge.

 

Apple Cider Cutout Cookies

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Hello world, I want to talk to the non-pumpkin people for a minute here. I feel for you.

 

What do you eat when September rolls around? Do you resent everyone else walking around extolling the praises of the all-wonderful PSL? Do you even like fall? Please don’t discriminate against one of the best times of year just because of the shortsightedness that is pumpkin spice obsession. I understand that seasonally spiced lattes have been available to chug for a few weeks now, and blogs everywhere are crowning that rotund orange squash the king of the fall flavor profile. But I always always want to take a step back, take a deep breath of fresh autumn air (smell the crisp leaves!), and remember to appreciate all the other beautiful things to eat that aren’t pumpkin. Everyone deserves to experience the joy of fall, even non-pumpkin people.

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Apple cider is one of those amazing-delicious-I-could-literally-die-happy-as-long-as-I-could-finish-this-mug-of-cider things to enjoy during the fall months. When I was a kid, my family would visit a beautiful apple u pick farm every year when the air started getting cooler. We would pick bags and bags of crisp, juicy, cold apples. Halloween we spent at a Harvest Festival riding hay rides, petting bunnies, and drining mugs and mugs of warm apple cider and eating donuts. It was heaven! I think that might be why I love apple cider so much. It brings bac lots of childhood memories.

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These cookies would be perfect if they were just sugar cookies shaped like cute little apples. But they are so much more than that. They are adorable AND they taste like that spiced deep apple cider I drank as a kid. I was seriously motivated to make apple cider flavored cutouts that really tasted like apple and not just your typical “spice cookies.” And I got it, you guys. These cookies are it! We’ve got apple cider in the dough and apple cider in the frosting so you can’t miss it. I can’t stop eating them.

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So a few notes about some things included in this recipe: apple flavoring or apple oil. I got mine from Amazon (it’s from Lorann Oils) awhile back when I got ambitious and wanted to try making hard candy. It’s optional because the apple cider in the recipe gives it enough flavor, but I think the apple oil gives it an extra oomph. It’s very strong  so only a few drops is needed, but like I mentioned you can totally make these without it and they are equally amazing.

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Secondly, these might look intimidating or seem like they take a long time because they are decorated with royal icing. Don’t be alarmed, you can easily skip a lot of this steps! You can skip the stiff icing and piping and drizzle the thinned cider icing right over the cookies and it will harden as it dries. You can also turn these cutouts into drop cookies if you like. They will be thicker and softer instead of a more firm shaped cookie, but they are delicious that way too! If you want an in depth tutorial of how to frost cookies with royal icing I suggest heading over to Annie’s Eats, she has a great post that is full of information.

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Mmmmm…happy fall! And remember to spread the fall flavor love. *runs to drink the last mug of warm cider*

Apple Cider Cutout Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 packet dry apple cider mix
  • 1 egg
  • ⅛th teaspoon apple oil
  • 2½ cups flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ cup milk
Instructions
  1. In a mixer cream the butter, apple cider mix, and two sugars until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and apple oil and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add all of the dry ingredients and milk and mix until it comes together into a dough. Chill the cookie dough at least 40 minutes and up to two hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out the cookie dough to about ⅛ inch thickness. Cut out cookies with a cutter, dip in flour if it seems to be sticking. Place on a baking sheet 1 inch apart. Bake for 8-12 minutes until the edges are just slightly golden.
  5. Remove cookies to cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.
  6. For frosting, combine 2 tablespoons of meringue powder, 2½ cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons apple cider, 3 tablespoons water, and a few drops of apple oil in the stand mixer and mix for about 7 minutes until the frosting is thick and glossy. Remove about ⅓ cup of icing to tint green and tint the remaining frosting red. In a piping bag outline the apple shape on the cookies. With the green frosting pipe stems and leaves.
  7. Take the remaining red frosting and add apple cider one tablespoon at a time until it is slightly runny. It should create a ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl and remains on the surface for a few seconds before disappearing.
  8. "Flood" the cookie outlines with the thinned icing, or drizzle back and forth over the cookies for a more informal finish.