Holiday Recipe Roundup!

Well, friends, the holiday season is upon us! And by “holiday season”, you know I really mean “eating season” – so, put on some elastic-waist pants, grab a big blanket to wrap yourself up with, and let’s get to work making your Thanksgiving menu, shall we?

After more than two years of posting recipes to the blog, we’ve got QUITE the collection of dishes to round out your holiday meal. You won’t find much in the way of sweet potatoes topped with mini marshmallows, or how to prep and roast a giant turkey (I’m more of a ham girl, myself), but you WILL find plenty of delicious recipes that will add something new and fun to your meal (when all else fails? Sprinkle your dish with pomegranate seeds! Festive!). I’ve broken this (gigantic) list down into several categories: Salads, Sides, and Desserts. A good amount of them are quick and easy to make, most will impress the hell out of your friends and family, and ALL of them are delicious. Feel free to send me the leftovers of any of the following:

Salads:

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pomegranate and Fried Goat Cheese

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pomegranate and Fried Goat Cheese

Lemony Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pepitas

strawberry spinach salad with poppyseed onion dressing

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Vidalia Dressing

Beet Salad with Honey Goat Cheese Vinaigrette

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Honey Goat Cheese Salad Dressing

Ina’s Ranch Dressing

Side Dishes:

Honey Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries

Honey Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries

Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts

Honey Balsamic Carrots

Spicy Corn with Feta and Lime

Spicy Corn with Feta and Lime

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Smoky Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Mustard Roasted Potatoes

balsamic roasted potatoes.

Balsamic Roasted Potatoes

Sweet Potato, Pecan, and Dried Cherry Salad

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Chutney Vinaigrette

Cauliflower Fritters with Smoked Greek Yogurt and Pomegranate Seeds

Cauliflower Fritters with Smoked Greek Yogurt and Pomegranate Seeds

Cauliflower Gratin with Gruyere and Parmesan

Green Beans with Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette

Bacon Wrapped Green Bean Bundles

Green Beans with Orange, Goat Cheese, and Pomegranate Seeds

Green Beans with Orange, Goat Cheese, and Pomegranate Seeds

Bacon Creamed Corn

Beer and Chile Macaroni and Cheese

Four Cheese Baked Macaroni

Four Cheese Baked Macaroni

Desserts:

Classic Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

Cider Mill Donut Bread Pudding

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Classic Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust

Nutella Rugelach

Ginger Pear Hand Pies

Ginger Pear Hand Pies (you could absolutely use apples instead of pears, if you wanted to!)

Devil’s Food Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Finished cakes, with a slightly prettier caramel drizzle.

Finished cakes, with a slightly prettier caramel drizzle.

Mini Salted Caramel Icebox Cakes

Chocolate Cakes with Cream Cheese Filling

Coconut Cream Pie

Brownie Sandwiches with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Chocolate Pots de Creme

no-bake nutella cheesecakes.

No-Bake Nutella Cheesecakes

I am going to TRY to get a couple more Thanksgiving (or Thanksgivukkah, or other holiday) worthy recipes up on the blog over the weekend/early next week… but I can’t promise anything, as I might find myself too busy “taste testing” the desserts I’m making for all our Thanksgiving gatherings to get to the computer. I mean, do you think someone ELSE is going to test the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies to make sure they’re not poisonous?? No ma’am, it’s all on my shoulders. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

I hope you’ve found something that looks delicious enough to add to your holiday meal, and I hope your holiday weekend is filled with tasty feasts, and stretchy waistbands.

Bring on the pecan pie and mashed potatoes,
Tina

Ginger Pear Hand Pies

A couple weeks ago, a coworker of mine brought a GIANT bag of pears into the office. He has a huge pear tree in his yard, and it was producing so many pears that they couldn’t even begin to keep up with them all, and he didn’t want them to go to waste. So, lucky for me, I was able to take home a handful of beautiful, ripe pears, and make a fun dessert out of them!

Ginger Pear Hand Pies

The crust on these hand pies is unbelievably light and flaky, and the sweet pears and spicy ginger make for a great, balanced filling. They would be delicious topped with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream – but they’re great on their own, too!

Ginger Pear Hand Pies

Ginger Pear Hand Pies
makes about 12 mini pies

For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks of salted butter, cold, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 cup greek yogurt (2% or full fat)
1 T lemon juice
1/2 cup ice water

For the filling:
2 medium ripe, firm pears
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar

To top the pies:
one egg yolk
about 1 tablespoon water
turbinado sugar

1.) In a food processor*, add the flour, salt, and butter cubes. Pulse until the butter is just cut into the flour, and there are pea-size pieces of butter (about 4-5 pulses).

Hand Pie Pastry Dough

2.) In a small bowl, whisk together the greek yogurt, lemon juice, and water. Add 1/3 of this mixture to the food processor, then pulse twice; repeat two more times, until all the greek yogurt mixture has been added, and the dough has just come together (you want to keep the pulsing to a minimum, so as not to overwork the dough).

3.) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gently break it into two equally sized lumps; lightly pat each one so that it sticks together, and wrap them both in plastic wrap. Place them both in the fridge to chill for one hour.

Hand Pie Pastry Dough

4.) When the dough has chilled for an hour, lightly flour your countertop, and roll each ball of dough out to about a 1/8″ thickness. As you roll, be sure to lift and rotate the dough often, so that you don’t end up with your entire piece of dough completely stuck to the counter!

5.) Cut circles out of the dough, approximately 4.5″ in diameter (I used the lid from a plastic deli container to cut my dough). Place each piece of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat liner. Reroll the scraps from both pieces of dough together, and cut more circles out. (I found my dough was warm and sticky by the time I cut the first round of circles out, so I refrigerated the scraps for another 20 minutes or so before rerolling). You should get about 12 circles out of the dough.

6.) Once all your dough circles are cut, place the baking sheets with the pastry on them in the fridge for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, you’ll make your filling.

7.) Peel your pears, and cut them into a 1/2″ dice. Add the pears, grated ginger, butter, salt, and brown sugar to a small sauce pan, and place the pan over medium heat. Allow the mixture to cook for about 8 minutes, until the pears are slightly softened, but still crisp, and you have a somewhat syrupy sauce. Remove the pan from the heat.

Ginger Pear Hand Pies

8.) Remove your chilled dough from the fridge. Allow it to sit at room temp for about 3 minutes, until it’s just pliable. Place one heaping tablespoon of the pear mixture on one half of each pastry circle; use your finger or a pastry brush to brush some water around the edge of the pastry, then fold the other half over, and use a fork to crimp the edges shut.

9.) When all the hand pies are filled and crimped, place them back in the fridge for another 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375°. When the hand pies have chilled for 30 minutes and your oven is hot, remove the pies from the fridge; in a small bowl, whisk together your egg yolk and a little more than a tablespoon of water. Brush this egg wash over the tops of all the hand pies, then sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Ginger Pear Hand Pies

10.) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pies are a nice golden brown. Allow the pies to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

*If you are not using a food processor, mix the flour and salt together; then cut the butter cubes into the flour with a pastry blender or two knives, until you have pea-sized pieces of butter. Add the greek yogurt mixture to the flour and butter mixture in three batches, mixing gently with a fork after each addition. Once all the greek yogurt mixture is added and mixed in, proceed with the recipe as written.

These hand pies are best served the day they’re made – however, they’ll keep for several days, in an airtight container at room temperature. If you want to reheat them for serving, put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and place the pies into a cold oven; turn the oven on to 350°. About 3-5 minutes after the oven has come up to temp, the pies will be warmed through, and nice and crisp.

I promise I’ll post something that’s not a dessert next week,
Tina

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

This probably makes me a bad Pinterest/internet user, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a whoopie pie. They are EVERYWHERE on the internet, in hundreds of flavor combinations – there are even entire books written about whoopie pies! For some reason, I never felt compelled to give the whoopie pie trend a whirl, until this past weekend. I was making a couple kinds of chili for dinner with some friends, and I wanted a dessert that worked well with the fall feeling of chili and football – and pumpkin whoopie pies sounded like the perfect fit.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

For some reason, it didn’t occur to me that the cake part of a whoopie pie would be… cakey? I know, I know – Mensa is sure to be revoking my membership at any moment. Turns out a whoopie pie is basically like two cookie-shaped cupcakes, sandwiched together with frosting – making it infinitely easier and less messy to eat! Pretty genius, really.

These whoopie pies have a moist, heavily spiced pumpkin cake, and a sweet maple-y filling. As a bonus, they’re incredibly easy to make!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling
makes approximately 1 dozen whoopie pies

For the cakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon molasses
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil

For the filling:
8oz cream cheese, at room temp
1 stick of salted butter, at room temp
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup

*For the cakes, it’s really helpful to have a cookie scoop (1 tablespoon size) with a release mechanism. This ensures that the cakes will be uniform in size and shape (which makes sandwiching them easier), and it also alleviates some of the messiness of working with a very soft cake batter.

1.) Preheat your oven to 350°. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin, molasses, egg, and vegetable oil.

2.) Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and whisk the two together until everything is evenly combined.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

3.) Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners. Use a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop the batter onto the sheets, leaving a few inches of space in between them. Bake the cakes, one sheet at a time, for about 12-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out clean, and the top of the cake springs back when you touch it.

4.) While the cakes bake, make the filling. Add the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and maple syrup to a bowl, and use a hand mixer or stand mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment) to beat the ingredients together until they’re well-combined, and the mixture is smooth.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

5.) Once the cakes are baked, and completely cooled, put the filling into a large ziploc bag. Cut one of the corners of the bag off, so you have about a 1/2″ opening, and pipe the filling onto the flat side of half of the cakes. Top the filling with the other half of the cakes.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

The whoopie pies will keep fairly well for a couple days, in a tightly covered container. I’d refrigerate them if you can, but they should be fine if you can’t. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t expect them to last long enough to need refrigeration!

Now I’m a little pissed that I didn’t pick up some apple cider to accompany these,
Tina

Mixed Summer Berry Pie (with a crumble topping)

Now that summer is winding down (much to my delight, as fall is my very favorite season), the seemingly never-ending supply of summer berries is beginning to dwindle, too. While you’ve still got a chance to grab a few cheap pints of berries at the farmers market, you should definitely make this pie! It would still be great with frozen berries, but using fresh ones is really optimal.

Mixed Summer Berry Pie (with a crumble topping)

(Brief disclaimer: these photos were taken at around 10pm, so the lack of light was not really helping my cause… and neither were the Moscow Mules I’d been drinking. Summer at the lake means late dinners and cocktails on the boat all day long, and also that my food photography suffers. Such is life!)

Mixed Summer Berry Pie (with a crumble topping)
makes one 9″ pie

one pre-made pie crust
about 6 cups of fresh berries*
1/2 cup sugar
3 T constarch
juice of one large lemon (about 3 T)
1/4 tsp kosher salt

For the crumble topping:
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp salt
4 T COLD salted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup of coarsely chopped pecans

*I used about 2 cups each of strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. If you are using more tart berries than sweet berries (say, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries), you might want to add another 1/4 cup sugar to balance out the tartness.

Mixed Summer Berry Pie (with a crumble topping)

1.) Preheat your oven to 375°. Roll out your pie dough, and press it into your 9″ pie plate, cutting off the excess around the edges. (I am usually too anxious to get the pie cooking to bother with a decorative edge on my crust, but feel free to fancy up your crust in any manner you’d like.) Place the crust in the freezer for about 15 minutes, while you mix up your berries, and the oven preheats.

2.) In a large bowl, gently combine your berries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Once all the berries are evenly coated, set the bowl aside.

Mixed Summer Berry Pie (with a crumble topping)

3.) In another bowl, add the flour, brown sugar, salt, butter cubes, and pecans. Use your hands to combine everything, working the mixture into small to medium-sized crumbs.

4.) When the pie crust has chilled for 15 minutes, remove it from the freezer; use a slotted spoon to move the berries from the bowl to the crust. You want to leave behind the majority of the excess liquid in the bowl, so you don’t end up with a watery pie!

Mixed Summer Berry Pie (with a crumble topping)

5.) Sprinkle the pie with the crumb topping. Bake for about one hour, until the crumbs are nicely browned, and the pie is bubbling around the edges. Allow the pie to set for 15 minutes or so after removing it from the oven, so the slices don’t totally fall apart! Serve warm, topped with vanilla ice cream.

Mixed Summer Berry Pie (with a crumble topping)

This pie just SCREAMS summer. The fresh berries are perfectly tart and sweet, and they are extra delicious with some melty vanilla ice cream piled on top. And who doesn’t like a crumble topping?? Probably the same people who hate flowers and rainbows, that’s who.

Keep in mind that the leftovers (if there are any) would probably taste delicious eaten straight out of the pie pan, for breakfast. (It’s 90% fruit! It’s health food!) I’m not saying that I would necessarily have any experience with that particular method of consumption, but I have a hunch it would be pretty delicious. Probably.

The beauty of being an adult is that you CAN eat pie for breakfast,
Tina