Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pumpkin, Cranberry, and Pecan Pie

Are you ready?

Are the gifts wrapped, the cookies baked, the halls decked? 

Me?  Nope.  I pretty prepared, I'll admit, thanks to a lot of online shopping (the result of our little ice storm a few weeks back) and a bit of proactive holiday decorating before the season kicked into full swing.  But no sweet treats have been made in my kitchen yet (I'm currently tackling about a thousand plus cookies every morning at the bakery so baking anything at home right now isn't exactly making it to the top of my to-do list), however, I fully intend to bring a few dozen on our upcoming Christmas vacation. 

But today I must share with you this pie.  I made it for Thanksgiving (ok, Nathan made it for Thanksgiving- I fetched ingredients and told him what to do.  I'm good at that.), but it would suit any holiday meal just fine.  It's essentially your classic pumpkin pie doused with a cranberry pecan crumble and it's a nice twist on the traditional version.  And it's easy as...pie, so you can tell someone else to make it. 

Pumpkin, Cranberry, and Pecan Pie

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 slightly beaten eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 single pie crust

For the Cranberry Pecan Topping
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold butter
4 ounces fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup chopped pecans

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, zest, salt, and all of the spices (nutmeg through cardamom). In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin, eggs, cream, and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and lightly beat by hand until well combined. Pour the pumpkin mixture into a pie shell. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the brown sugar, flour, and salt, and butter to a small food processor and chop until it resembles a coarse mixture. Stir in the chopped cranberries and pecans.

Remove pie from the oven and sprinkle the cranberry mixture on top. Return the tart to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pie is set, topping is golden and bubbly, and the crust is golden. If the crust starts getting too brown, you can add strips of foil around the edges.  Cool on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate within 2 hours.

Adapted from Beantown Baker.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Quick and Easy Small Batch Chunky Marinara

I'm getting a little stir crazy.

The ice has me stuck inside.  Which means I don't have to work (woo hoo!), but it also means no Target runs, no Christmas shopping, no lunch dates (boo hoo).  I've slept in, I've cleaned the shower, I've washed the linen, I've attempted to defrost my windshield, I've succumbed to the fact I'm not leaving the driveway.  I had grand plans for the weekend like knocking off all my gift shopping, a trip to California Pizza Kitchen, and a little stop in Ikea but nope, not gonna happen.

Nothing left to do but throw on my grandma sweater, light up the tree, step in the kitchen and make a little pot of marinara (and knead up some fresh bread, but that post is for another day).  I've made this sauce a few times before, usually when I've had a busy day and am in a hurry to serve dinner (which was not exactly the case on this lazy afternoon, but it also works well when you're limited to what you have on hand).  If you can chop up an onion and open a couple of cans you can make this sauce.  Then serve up a romantic pasta dinner to the one that loves you even when it's just the two of you trapped in the house with a couple of dogs, who will tolerate your random outbursts of Christmas carols, and kind of likes your grandma sweater. 

Quick and Easy Small Batch Chunky Marinara

Serves 2-3

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 5 to 6 minutes until crisp-tender, stirring frequently.

Mix in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, salt, oregano, parsley, basil, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until flavors are blended, stirring frequently.

Adapted from AllRecipes.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pecan Pie Brownies

Got leftovers?

Ok now I'll admit we actually did not have a pecan pie this thanksgiving (we opted for pumpkin and apple this year), but that didn't stop me from purchasing one on discount at the grocery store a few days later.  I dug in and had a slice that evening, but the next morning I chopped up half and tossed it in some brownie batter.  I use the term "chopped" loosely here.  Have you ever tried to chop up a nutty, crusty, gooey pecan pie?  Mutilate may be a better word.  It's gonna get messy people. 

Just rip that pie apart- cut with a knife, tear with your hands, throw it in the batter and let the mixer mash it up.  I even used a gasp! boxed brownie mix.  Cheater cheater pumpkin eater. 

It should be noted that the combo of chocolatey boxed mix plus sugary chunks of pecan pie results in one super sweet, uber gooey brownie.  (Nathan describes them as "too gooey".  I don't know even him anymore.  Ha!  More for me.)

Got milk?

Pecan Pie Brownies

Makes one 9x13-inch pan

1 18.2-ounce boxed brownie mix (or you can always do homemade!)
1 (8 or 9-inch) pecan pie, chopped

Prepare brownie batter according to package (or recipe!) instructions.  Fold in pecan pie pieces.  Spread mixture into lightly greased 9x13-inch baking dish.  Bake according to package directions or until center is just set.  Let cool before slicing. 

Adapted from Cookies and Cups.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cheesy Chicken Corn Chowder

This is by no means a sexy soup.

But it got cold so I made it and I ate it and I loved it so now I share it.  Yup it got real cold.  Cold enough to put me in the mood for a little pre-Christmas-in-Colorado boot shopping.  Too bad I spotted these and now I find myself daydreaming about owning them but I just can't justify the price when a) I live in Texas where b) there's no snow so I'd basically c) look like a fool.  No sexy mountain boots for me.

Once old man winter kicks in though, I make a lot of soup (and I wear a lot of sweatpants.  and I drink a lot of chai).  Usually my soup consists of whatever I've got lying around the house: a can of diced tomatoes, the remains of a green bell, a handful of onion, a dash of cumin, a pinch of salt.  I just pull stuff out of the fridge, off the spice rack, and bam!  soup du jour.  Then I eat my non-sexy soup in my non-sexy sweats while I browse sexy boots.            

Cheesy Chicken Corn Chowder

Serves 2

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Melt butter in medium-sized pot over medium-high heat on the stove.  Add onion and garlic and sprinkle with pepper; cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add corn and cook another minute.  Sprinkle with flour and toss to coat.  Stir in chicken broth and milk and bring to a simmer, cooking until slightly thickened.  Add chicken and cheese, stirring until cheese is melted and blended.  Add salt to taste, if necessary.  

Chelsea Original :)