Mini Pumpkin Pie

10808097_10152927497314073_552949476_nDo you ever have one of those days where just nothing seems to want to come together, recipes you’ve done a million times refuse to work, and you just want to toss it all in the trash and order pizza? Well today was that day for me. I had a major sweet tooth and after scouring the cupboards I set everything up to make pumpkin pie. Tis’ the season after all. After getting all the ingredients mixed for my pie crust I realized it was just way too crumbly to actually roll out, so I put it back in the bowl and added a bit more water and butter (I know, over worked pie crust! The horror!!). Somehow even after adding both those things it was still too dry! After contemplating it for a bit I decided the crust could still be salvaged, if I made mini pies and just pushed the crust into my cupcake pan. A few minutes later I had twelve very cute mini crusts just waiting to be filled with delicious pumpkin filling. Victory! Now on to the filling… I’ve seen a lot of different variations but the basics are usually the same : Pumpkin purée, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. I decided to add the eggs last so I could taste as I went and find the perfect balance. The basic recipe I was using as a general guideline was missing a few things so I added sugar and vanilla, less nutmeg and a couple drops caramel extract. Thus was born the best filling I have had so far. I topped the little guys with some home-made whipped cream and gobbled down enough to make my hips beg for mercy. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

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Here’s the basic recipe I used as a guide http://allrecipes.com/recipe/perfect-pumpkin-pie/

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Mini Pumpkin Pie

  • 1/2 cup cold grated butter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1-3 tbsp ice cold water (the amount will depend on the exact amount of flour and the humidity in your home)

Filling

  • One 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
  • One 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg (just a pinch really)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 drops pure vanilla extract
  • 1 drop caramel extract (optional)

Whipped topping

  • One cup whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 drop pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In a large bowl combine flour butter and sugar. Mix with fingers until it resembles coarse corn meal in texture. Slowly add in the cold water a little sprinkle at a time until the ball of dough just holds together. Then push small pieces into your cupcake pan until you have even little pie shell-cups.

In a separate bowl whisk together all the filling ingredients. I used a small measuring cup to pour the filling into the pie shells. When all the shells are full tap the tray lightly against the counter to get out all the air bubbles.

Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes. Take out and let cool completely.

For the whipped topping you can totally whip all the ingredients by hand if you want, but I cheated and pulsed it in my blender until it held together.

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Apple Pie

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Ahh apple pie. My favourite dessert both to cook, and to eat. Thanksgiving this year was accompanied by dark clouds, rain and a super fun cold that hit all three of us. Needless to say, cooking was at the bottom of my priority list. But seeing as I am completely holiday obsessed I dragged my butt out of bed and made a simple chicken dinner, plus this amazing pie.

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So first you’re going to grate up some cold butter, and add some flour and sugar.

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Then you’re going to mix it together with a little water until it comes together in a nice ball, like so.

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Then you’re going to peel some apples. Which is my least favourite part.

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Then you’re going to chop them up into nice even slices, toss them in a bowl and add some spices

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Then we chop the dough in half and roll out both halves to about  1/4 inch thicknessIMG_20141013_040636

Carefully transfer one half to a pie plate.IMG_20141013_040754

Add all those lovely apples

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Top with the other half of the doughIMG_20141013_040933

Brush with egg wash and some sugar, cut a few slits for the stem to escape through and pop into the oven. Wasn’t that nice and easy?IMG_20141013_062128

Apple Pie

Crust

  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tbsp cold water

Filling

  • 6 apples
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp flour

Eggwash

  • one egg
  • pinch of white sugar

Grate the butter into a large bowl. Add flour and sugar and mix with your fingers until it resembles coarse meal. Slowly add the water, incorporating it evenly until dough comes together. It should feel dry and flaky but hold its shape. Cover and set aside.

Peel, core and slice apples. Place in large bowl and mix in all other filling ingredients. Shake the bowl to evenly cover all the apple slices.

On a flat surface cut ball of dough in half and roll out. I find pushing down hard and moving slowly helps keep it together. If any cracks form just wet your fingertip with some water and “glue” it back together. When its about 1/4 inch thick hold your pie plate over top to make sure its wide enough then lightly roll around your rolling pin to transfer it.

Pour apples into the pie shell and top with second half of the dough. Now how you crimp the edges together is up to you. Sometimes I use a fork, but this time I just used my finger tips and pressed down around the edge to hold everything together.

In a small bowl whisk one egg with a fork until pale yellow then using a pastry brush cover the entire top of the pie with a light coating. Sprinkle top with sugar then place in the oven and cook for one hour at 350 degrees.

Baked Apples

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Keeping with the Autumn theme going on in my kitchen I made baked apples the other night. Officially the easiest dessert ever. All the flavours of apple pie without all the effort. Plus they taste extra amazing if pared with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Just sayin’

Baked Apples

  • 2 apples
  • 1/4 cup porridge oats
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Using a teaspoon scoop out the apple cores being careful not to pierce through the bottom. In a medium bowl mix together the rest of the ingredients making sure the butter is evenly incorporated. Scoop filling into apples and place apples in shallow baking pan. Bake for about half an hour or until oats have softened. Serve with ice cream, whipping cream or enjoy plain.

Monday Night Meatballs

Meatballs

If you’re like me, or like most people, you probably hate Mondays. The last thing you want to do is cook something that takes a lot of time or effort and that pack of instant noodles keeps staring at you from the cupboard. For a long time the instant noodles seemed like the better idea, but recently I’ve been streamlining a bunch of my recipes to be faster and simpler. Mostly because I’d rather be spending time chasing my toddler around, but also for days like Mondays.

These meatballs are a family favourite around here. Satisfying, filling, reasonably healthy and enough ground beef to satisfy my very “Meat and potatoes” man. Quickly fried up then simmered in a super simple sauce, these are sure to be a winner for you as well.

Meatballs:

  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg

Sauce:

  • One large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • I tsp sugar
  • 6 fresh basil leaves finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup water

In a large bowl mix all the meatball ingredients together with your hands until thoroughly combined. Roll into 2 inch balls until meat is used up. Heat a large non-stick frying pan and and add the meatballs once it’s hot enough that they sizzle when placed in it. Don’t worry about adding oil, there’s enough fat in the meat that it’s not needed. Brown on all sides then set aside.

In a large pot add all the ingredients for the sauce and bring to boil then turn down to a simmer and add the meatballs. Leave simmering for at least 15 minutes. Serve with hot pasta or on a kaiser bun, top with parmesan and enjoy.

Apple Brown Sugar Tart

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetThe weather has finally cooled down here in Victoria and for me that means one thing: Baking!

All the delicious, fresh from the oven goodies that I would have melted trying to make during the summer are finally a reality. Usually I start with apple pie, but a friend was visiting from out of town so I wanted to try something new. This tart has all the best flavours of autumn. Apples obviously, cinnamon and nutmeg to balance it, rich brown sugar to make it sinfully sweet and a chocolate crust just because.. CHOCOLATE!!

Apple Brown Sugar Tart

Crust:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup grated butter (straight from the fridge means extra flakiness)
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 3 tbsp coco powder
  • 2-3 tbsp cold water

Brown sugar layer:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Topping:

  • 3 apples peeled, cored and finely sliced
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Start with the brown sugar filling by melting the butter into a small saucepan. When it’s completely melted add the brown sugar and stir until completely combined. Let simmer gently on medium-low heat. Lots of bubbling is normal. The goal is a thick syrup. Stir occasionally to prevent burnt spots.

Next, add the grated butter to the flour, sugar and coco powder and crumble with your fingers. You want the ingredients mixed evenly into coarse looking “crumbs”. Once you get it to that point add in the water slowly mixing with your fingers. When the water is fully incorporated squish into a ball and roll out to about 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface. Transfer to tart plate and trim edges.

Brown sugar mixture should be thickened and smooth by now. The best way, in my opinion, to test how smooth it is is to taste it. But be careful!!! It’ll be very hot. I usually pop a spoonful in the freezer for a minute or so to avoid a burnt tongue. Take the saucepan off the heat and set aside.

Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg on apple slices and get ready to assemble everything. Pour the brown sugar mixture into the tart shell. Arrange apples in circular pattern starting at the edge and overlapping slightly. When all the apples have been used up, sprinkle a little extra cinnamon over top. Then pop in the oven and cook until crust is baked and apples are soft, about 30-45 minutes depending on your oven and how thickly sliced the apples are.

Let cool for about 5 minutes and then enjoy!