Pumpkin Paradise

  
These days, way before you smell the crisp fall air, see leaves turning, or start wearing long sleeves, you are smacked in the face with the arrival of the pumpkin. This popular gourd signals autumn before anything else whether it be in lattes, baked goods, or home decor. But who’s complaining?! 

The thing that immediately comes to my mind though, is always, pumpkin pie. (And pumpkin soup, but that’s another post for another day.) 

Baking and family history are two of my most favorite things so I’m elated today to combine the two with this delicious pumpkin pie recipe, made in my husband’s late great aunt Louise’s pumpkin pie dish. It’s so seasonal and so simple you’ll love it. The men in my life wouldn’t even let it cool before they dove in; the (homemade, anything else is just a sin) whipped cream was melting all over the top. I prefer it a little more room temp but either way, it’s pretty delicious. Here’s the recipe.

Beauty & The Butcher’s Pumpkin Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can organic pumpkin (make sure you get plain pumpkin not pumpkin pie mix that has all kinds of seasonings already in it)
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked pie crust (I like to use Pilsbury pie dough and form in it in the pan myself but you could use a pre-baked pie shell, ooh graham cracker might even be good!)
  • Whipped cream (I’d say OPTIONAL but it’s really not, what’s pumpkin pie without FRESH whipped cream?! If you’ve never made your own it’s very simple, just mix about 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream with 1/3 cup powdered sugar and with a whisk attachment beat the daylights out of it until it’s firm and full of little peaks. But don’t over mix, that’s how you get butter!)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin, sugar, and spices. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
  • Pour into pie shell.
  • Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F; then bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours (or two minutes in my house) Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before devouring…er, serving. 

I’m going to be honest, yours might not taste quite as good as mine unless you also have an heirloom pumpkin pie dish and a crate & barrel plate that says “easy as pie” to serve it on. But you can certainly try! 

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Sweet Sprouts

“Brussels sprouts?! Yuck!” 

Those were my sentiments, as I’m sure most of yours as well, towards brussel sprouts as a child. Actually, to be honest, those feelings took me pretty far into adulthood as well. But as I have learned in my culinary journey, anything can be good if seasoned and prepared well. (Not saying my mother didn’t prepare them well, I’m sure her’s were delicious. I just wasn’t willing to give them a fair chance at the time because, well, they were brussel sprouts people!) 

First of all, can we just talk about the fact that they are actually called “Brussels Sprouts” and not “Brussel Sprouts”?! Who knew about that extra “s” at the end?! Not me, my friend, not me. World rocked. 

Members of the cabbage family, production of Brussels sprouts in the United States began in the 18th century, when French settlers brought them to Louisiana. Their highest producer to date is the Netherlands, where they’re probably served alongside raw herring or something different like that. Isn’t different such a nicer word than weird? Although now I’ve gone and said weird anyway, so you still know that was my initial word…I digress. 

These little cruciferous veggies help lower cholesterol, prevent cancer, and aid proper thyroid function. So basically, as usual, your mom was right; eat your vegetables! 

So, Mom, I hope you’re happy. Here’s a Brussels sprouts recipe that even kids will love, because they’re sweet, tangy, and crunchy and almost make you forget you’re eating veggie! I said almost, I’m not a magician….

  

Beauty & The Butcher’s Sweet Sprouts

Ingredients

  • 1½ lbs brussels sprouts, halved
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or 1 tbs balsamic glaze if you have it (trader joe’s makes an excellent one)
  • 2 tsp honey

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or use a silicone baking mat.
  • In a large bowl, toss brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper to coat thoroughly.
  • Transfer the brussels sprouts to baking sheet and roast until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Don’t freak out if some of the leaves get a little burnt, those crispy bits are the best part!
  • Place brussels sprouts back in bowl. Add remaining tablespoon olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey and toss to coat evenly. Taste and season with kosher salt if necessary and serve. Or at least try, I set mine to cool on the stovetop and most of them were gone by the time dinner was ready…

I paired them with my famous (in our house at least) turkey meatloaf and creamy goat cheese polenta! But that’s anothef post for another day… 

Doh! 

Homer Simpson isn’t the only one who loves donuts, apparently they’ve become all the rage. Instagram is flooded daily with donuts; donut craft projects, purses, pillows, stools, you name it. Some of my favorite insta bloggers feature them constantly…  

Kelly Mindell from studiodiy.com makes donuts into colorful accessories & works of art and has the best time doing it!


Sam Ushiro or aww.sam on Instagram even calls herself a “donut aficionado” and not only features the fried confection on the regular but even creates her own delicious donut recipes like donut s’mores! 
 

So when I saw this ever popular pastry turned pool float at my local target (buy yours here) I had to get it and try it out myself. Thanks to my super professional photographer aka husband, who was suspended over the pool Mission Impossible style to take it (just kidding..sort of), I got a picture of myself lounging in this sweet treat.  

 I still think eating donuts is more fun, but I’ll let this be a close second. 

sugar baby 

Here’s a throwback from just a few months ago (in case you didn’t read the previous post, I’m reposting some “oldies but goodies” this week) but it was just so darn cute I had to share again. 

I realized today I haven’t been to a baby shower in like six years. None of my friends are having kids! So I guess that fact, millions of unused Pinterest ideas, plus the fact that I’m not having my own, made me pretty excited for the shower I’m going to tomorrow.

I decided to make some cute baby themed sugar cookies in the color scheme of her registry and the party.
I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a lot of work. But the result is well worth it and people love them! One nice thing is you can make the cookies ahead of time. I make a double batch of Martha’s recipe (found here) as well as her royal icing recipe which is just 2 cups of powdered sugar and 5 Tb of meringue powder mixed with a little water. The trick is getting the texture right, you want it nice and thick for piping the outlines but then thinned with water for flooding the cookies. It sounds complicated, but once you get the hang of it it’s pretty simple. Here’s my stack after the baking stage. 

 

That’s a process in itself but now for the real time consuming fun, icing and decorating. I actually enjoy it though and find it somewhat therapeutic, it’s slow and methodical and a great time to binge watch Parenthood on Netflix! Once you pipe and flood the cookies you have to let them dry for a good amount of time.  


And then you can decorate! I got some of my inspiration from Pinterest and some just from the old noggin (wow I really thought spell check would get me on that one, turns out it’s a real word!) Here’s the finished product! 

   
     

Pretty cute if I do say so myself! If you like these, check out my tea party inspired chalkboard cookies here

blast from the past…

This week I am taking part in a special school to improve my teaching skills. So since I’ll probably be too busy to blog, I decided to feature some of my very early posts. Can you believe I’ve been doing this for two years?! Today, since I’m hungry, lets bring it back to a post from July of 2013, and for all you vegans out there, simply omit the eggs, sub almond milk, and voila! Vegan rice pudding! Not only that but the almond milk gave it a delicious nutty flavor and even enabled me to cut back on the sugar! You could also get really crazy and use quinoa instead of rice. But no worries, I’m going to give you the tried and true recipe too. Who can resist rice pudding?! 

  Beauty & The Butcher Rice Pudding
Ingredients:

3/4 cup uncooked white rice (I used minute rice)

1 cup half and half

1 cup milk

4 tbs granulated sugar

1 tbs light brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

2 egg yolks

1 tbs unsalted butter

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

Boil rice in a medium saucepan (according to directions on box – mine used 3/4 cup) with granulated sugar and salt until completely done and tender. Pour in half and half + 1/2 cup milk and simmer on low for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes until thick and creamy. It may look like it’s too much milk and it will never thicken, but it will you just have to wait. Once thickened, Mix in brown sugar. 

In a small bowl add egg yolks. Spoon 3 spoonfuls of the pudding mixture in with the yolks and whisk rapidly to temper and prevent scrambling. Once yolks are warm, add into pudding mixture and add the remaining half cup of milk. Cook for 3-5 minutes more until thickened up again. Once thickened, remove from heat and add in butter, vanilla and cinnamon. If you are making the vegan option your pudding will not be as thick, that’s just what chickens do. 

Pudding can be served warm or cold. Store in airtight container for 3-4 days, but it’ll never last that long! 

To Die For Tomato Tart…

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So don’t get me wrong, my goat cheese and tomato tart is super delicious. However, this one almost puts it to shame. The combination of the sweet carmelized onions, light buttery crust, tart juicy tomatoes, and the rich nutty flavors from the three cheeses are to die for. It’s a fairly simple recipe, a definite crowd pleaser, and also happens to be vegetarian if you’re concerned about that sort of thing. (As I think to myself in my best caveman voice, “Me like meat”) The butcher doesn’t love tomatoes but as soon as he bit into this he immediately said, “This is fantastic!” So here’s the recipe.

Beauty & The Butcher’s To Die For Tomato & Onion Tart

3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Large Sweet Onions Sliced Thin
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 Storebought Pie Crusts…obviously you could make your own but why?
2 cups of two to three grated cheeses of your choice (I used what I had on hand, a sharp white cheddar, Parmesan, and fresh mozzarella)
2 cups (or more) Cherry Tomatoes (yellow Or Red)
About a dozen fresh Basil Leaves, Chiffonade

Heat a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the butter, onions, salt, and pepper and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and deep golden brown.
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Lay pie crusts onto a shallow sheet pan (I used my pampered chef stone) Sprinkle the cheeses over the entire crust, lay on the caramelized onions, then put the tomatoes over the cheese.
Mix an egg and a few splashes of milk in a bowl and using a pastry brush, brush it over the crust around the edge of the tart. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tomatoes are starting to burst apart & the crust should be deep golden brown.
Remove the tart from the oven and let it to sit for at least 5 minutes so the juices can firm up. Sprinkle the fresh basil all over the top. Cut into squares and try to get a piece for yourself before the vultures in your house descend upon it!!!

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Summertime Fruit Tart 

  What screams summertime more than fresh fruit?! Here is a delicious, light, and crowd pleasing dessert featuring the finest of Summer’s harvest. So easy too, here it is!

Beauty & The Butcher Fruit Tart

Ingredients
Crust:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, room temp.

Filling:

  • 1 package cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon good vanilla

Topping:

  • Fresh strawberries
  • kiwi slices
  • blueberries (really you could use any fruit you like, raspberries, peaches, star fruit, etc. heck you could even throw some chocolate chips on there and really get crazy!)

Glaze:

  • 1 can frozen limeade concentrate
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar

* if you don’t have the glaze ingredients,  a little lemon juice mixed with sugar will work in a pinch

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  • For the crust: In a food processor or blender (I used my trusty Blendtec) combine the powdered sugar, flour, and butter, and mix until the mixture forms a ball. With your fingers, press the dough into a 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, making sure it’s evenly spread and pushed into the indentations along the side. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until very lightly browned. Set aside
  • For the filling and topping: Beat or stir the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth. Spread over the crust once it’s cooled. Cut the strawberries into 1/4-inch slices and arrange around the edge of the crust. Fill spaces in between with blueberries. For the next circle, use kiwi slices. Repeat these steps and try to make a pretty design in the middle. Pretty easy huh?!
  • For the glaze: Combine the limeade, cornstarch, lime juice, and sugar in a small pan and cook over medium heat until clear and thick, about 2 minutes. Let cool. With a pastry brush, glaze the entire tart and save the remaining glaze for another dessert!
  • Keep the tart in the fridge and remove about 15 minutes before serving. You might want to make two because this will go so quickly, trust me. It’s also a great thing to bring to someone’s house because you can make it ahead of time, it’s cheap and simple but would be at least $30 in a bakery, and this beautifully shiny fruity masterpiece will impress everyone at the party!