Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin. . Month? Kinda-Prize-Winning "Pie"

So much for pumpkin week.  Let's just say. . . .life. . . .got in the way.

Here it is, the night before Thanksgiving.  And I've just finished the last touches on my signature Thanksgiving dessert, "Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars" - which is heretofore known as. . . .

"Kinda-Prize-Winning Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake 'Pie'"

(You know there's a back story here, don't you?)

Our friends, the Bailey's, have The Social Event of the season - a good old fashioned Barn Party, complete with square dancing, a pig roast, and. . . . a Pie Contest.

So of course, never one to shy away from a competition, I whip up this recipe - in a pie pan, naturally - and submit it.  AFTER bragging on facebook that I would - um - soundly trounce a certain friend of mine.

The girls ready for some Barn Party Fun!
She won.

I didn't even place.

Oh, the humiliation.

Never to be deterred, I decided I would enter the blasted recipe at every contest I encountered - and luckily for me, that contest was at our Family Life Campout, held the weekend before Halloween.  I whipped up another scrumptious "pie", entered. . . .


(Never mind that there were only 3 entries.  Never mind that the other two entries were - ahem - made by girls under the age of 12.  I won, I tell you!  Victory!  I will not be vanquished!!!)

And now, with that gripping back story out of the way . . .on to the recipe!

Step One:  The crust

Crush one package of graham crackers - about 1.5 cups.  Mix with 1/4 c. sugar and 1/3 c. melted butter.  Spread in a greased 13x9 dish.  (Or. . . . in a pie plate.  If you're trying to win a pie contest.)

Step Two:  The Filling

In a mixing bowl, combine 2 pkg. (8 oz) cream cheese, softened, with 1 3/4  c. sugar and mix well.  Mix in 3 eggs, 1 cup pureed or canned pumpkin, 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  After mixing, set aside 1 1/4 c. of the mixture in a small bowl.

Pay no attention to the can of pumpkin behind the curtain.  Let's focus on the nice, fresh pumpkins on the counter, shall we?

 Step Three:  The Secret Weapon - CHOCOLATE!

In a small saucepan, melt 6 oz. chocolate chips with 2 Tbl. butter.

 Try not to eat the other half of the bag of chocolate chips.

Once melted, add the small bowl of pumpkin mixture to the chocolate.  Add just a little at a time, I think it prevents the pumpkin-cheesecake mixture from curdling or something. I  dunno.  That's just how I do it.
I did not have a photographer take this.  I'm pouring with my left hand, taking the pix with my right.  Be impressed.

Mmmm!  Stir it up!
 Spread the chocolate mixture on the graham cracker crust.  Bake at 325 for 15 minutes or so.

Remove the chocolate layer from the oven.

Carefully pour the rest of the pumpkin mixture over the chocolate layer.  Put it back in the oven (use your pot holders!  I forgot once. . . OUCH!)  for another 40-50 minutes, or until the edges puff up and the center is slightly set.

Remove from the oven, let cool 30 minutes.

In the meantime, mix 1 1/4 c. sour cream and 1/4 c. sugar.  When the dessert has slightly cooled, spread the sour cream mixture on top.  I like to sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice or cocoa for presentation.  And to win pie contests.  Or at least - try to win.

Refrigerate overnight, and keep any leftovers refrigerated.

It's pretty yummy, even if I don't say so myself.

And at least one pie contest judge thought so!

Thanks, Mike - your check is in the mail.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Week: Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

Time to get the blog back a-hummin' again.  And since it's fall, and finally colder weather, let's break out some warm and cozy recipes, shall we?  (Plus, I really don't have the energy or time or brainpower to finish some of the more weighty blog posts.)  So - lucky you, faithful readers (all 3 of you)!  It's. . . .


Let's start with a yummy breakfast recipe, shall we?

My long-time readers will remember the great spice fiasco while making Baked Oatmeal.   Despite that unfortunate incident, I have continued to make and serve that yummy dish fairly frequently.

Mainly because it doesn't involve any knives.  Safer than - say - separating frozen hamburger patties with a chef knife.  Not that I have any experience in that.  Or any scars to show.  Nope.  None. At All.

So lo and behold, what did I find in my stash of recipes?  A variation on the theme!  So warm up your fall mornings with this yummy dish . . . . . .

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal!

Yumminess.  Pumpkin. Oatmeal.  What more can I say?

In a large bowl, mix together:

2 3/4 c. oats (I use quick cooking, they work just fine)
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice (more if you like)

(I think you should also add about 1/2 tsp. salt, even though the original recipe doesn't call for it)

Then add:

1 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin, fresh or canned
2 beaten eggs

1 T. vanilla
3 c. milk

Stir in 3/4 c. raisins or dried cranberries (dried cranberries.  Definitely dried cranberries)

1/2 c. chopped nuts (Meh.  Optional.  I'm not a big nut fan)

Pour into an 9x11 pan and bake at 350 about 45-50 minutes. 

Serves a whole hungry crowd.  Make sure you get a serving before the gang digs in!

And then get yourself to the store and buy a pile of canned pumpkin - you're a-gonna need it!  

(Or better yet, send your wonderful husband, while you stay home in your jammies and sip your pumpkin spice latte.  That's my plan, and I'm stickin' with it.)

Stay tuned for the next installment of. . . .Pumpkin Week!  See you tomorrow!  Lord willing. . . . .