Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mini Pumpkin Tarts

"Work in progress" - I used a ziplok gallon storage bag with the end cut off to fill the tarts.

This past weekend I attended the annual Ladies Fall Brunch at our church. The church asked ladies to host and decorate a table. I had decided to go with a new theme on my table this year - Thanksgiving! I found a really cute Thanksgiving tablecloth at a second hand store and built the table decorations around it. It seemed only appropriate that I would take a dish that had pumpkin in it - so I selected Mini Pumpkin Tarts. This is one of the easiest desserts to put together. Because you don't want the tart shells to get soggy with the filling I couldn't make these the night before. It was super easy to throw together just before leaving for the brunch. I have a picture of the table at the end of this post - check it out!

Mini Pumpkin Tarts

3 pkgs (15 tarts each) prebaked frozen mini pastry shells
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
2 cups (plus extra for garnish) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 tsp (plus extra for garnish) pumpkin pie spice
1 (3.4 oz) pkg cheesecake-flavor instant pudding and pie filling (I use vanilla flavor)
Mint leaves (for garnish if desired)

First, remove the shells from the freezer and let them thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the pumpkin, whipped topping, and pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl, whisking until smooth. Add the pudding mix and whisk until smooth and thick.

Spoon abut 1 tablespoon of the filling into each of the shells (you can also pipe the filling with a pastry bag or a plastic sandwich bag with one corner snipped off), then top the tarts with whipped topping, a sprinkling of the pumpkin pie spice and a mint leaf, if you like.

Makes 45 tarts.
NOTE: Refrigerate any leftovers - but be prepared, the tart shells will get soft the longer they sit with filling in them!

These are the tart shells that I used.

The mixture becomes very thick once you add in the pudding mixture.

Here are a couple pictures from the brunch that I made these for. Thanks Jennifer for taking the pics and sharing them with me!

Pumpkin Cake

Can you handle another pumpkin recipe? I can't get enough this time of year. My mother made this recipe many times over the years. She has been gone almost 6 years now but I still think of her everytime I make it. It is so moist, easy to make and tasty. I've shared this recipe with many people. If you are a pumpkin lover like I am, you'll love this recipe.
Pumpkin Cake

Cake Layer
1 spice cake mix
1 can Libby’s pumpkin pie mix (NOT puree)
3 eggs

Mix the above ingredients until combined.

Mix the following and add to the above mixture:
½ cup cold water
2 tsp baking soda

Pour into a 9 X 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool before putting topping on.

8 oz whipped topping
½ tsp vanilla
1/3 cup brown sugar

Whip together and spread on cake. Cake must be refrigerated.

Make sure you use the pumpkin pie MIX, not puree! They are NOT the same!

This is everything in the mixing bowl, before beating. Pumpkin, cake mix and beaten eggs.

Here is the "before" baking picture.

...and this is the "after picture!

Then you frost and eat!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Doggie Treats

This is the "little" man of our house - his name is Tito. I've been making doggie treats for him for several years and he never grows tired of them. You would think they were something new and great everytime he gets one. He gobbles them up. Because of Tito's size, I make them pretty small and even then he only gets a small part as his "treat". So they go a long way.

Tito's Favorite Doggie Treat
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In another bowl mix peanut butter and milk. Then add dry ingredients to wet ones and mix well. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead. Roll dough to 1/4" thickness and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Bake for 20 minutes* on a greased baking sheet until lightly brown. Cool on rack. Caution -- these can burn easily!
Note - *if you make treats as small as I do - the time cuts back to around 13 minutes!

This is what the finished treat looks like.

This is the cookie cutter set I use. The littles four sided flower one on the far right is the one I use.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Broccoli Grape Salad

The finished product!

I have a whole collection of family favorite recipes that I'm slowly trying to include on this blog. This particular recipe could have easily NOT been included in this collection. Broccoli and grapes in the same salad did not appeal to me at all. But one of my co-workers had made it up and insisted that I try one bite. Wow - this was great! The sweet of the grapes, the crunchiness of the broccoli, the savory flavor of the bacon. Mmmmm! I have now made this recipe so many times that I could not even begin to count. I just love it! And when I'm introducing it to anyone new, I now insist they try "one bite"! There have been many converts. If you have a vegetarian in the house, as I do, simply hold off on adding the crumbled bacon until after you scoop some out. This is a great side dish for your family gatherings. It is now a "must have" for our Thanksgiving table.

All the cut up ingredients, awaiting the dressing.

Broccoli Grape Salad

4 C. Broccli cut up
1 1/2 C. Green Grapes cut in half
1 1/2 C. Red Grapes cut in half
8 slices cooked bacon crumbled
1/2 C. Green Onions
1 C. Celery
1 can chopped smoke house smoked almonds (these can be pricey so I've used regular sliced or slivered almonds instead)

1 C. Hellmans Mayo (I use light Hellmans)
1/2 C. Sugar (I've used Splenda with no obvious difference)

Can be prepared in advance, but put don't put the dressing on till right before serving.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Especially for You, race against breast cancer

Becca, Patty & myself

On Sunday 10/11/09, I ran my 4th race EVER! This was my third 5K and the coldest conditions I've ever put myself into, by choice. There were thousands of people there, easily one of the biggest races in our area. There were 852 finishers in the 5K Run, 3947 finishers in the 5K Walk and 1422 finishers in the 1 Mile Walk. There were ALOT of people there! I'm presuming that if the weather had been better the turnout would have been twice as many.

The temp was below freezing. But all of us (sister Patty, daughter Becca and myself) had gotten great advice from my eldest daughter Rachelle about how to dress for the temperatures. She had advised layers, keeping in mind where you primarily get cold, i.e, arms or core. Patty and Becca both dressed with a long sleeve shirt and a vest. I double layered my arms and regretted it. I had a long sports bra on, a long sleeve shirt and a light jacket. We all wore running pants, warm socks and gloves. The best piece advice of all was the warm-up instructions. Rachelle had told us to jog around for 10-15 minutes. Nothing challenging, but man did it do the job! When it was time to get lined up for the start of the race my core was warmed up and I was able to stand there and not shiver as many around us were!

The race went well, it was pretty straight and smooth through city streets. My stamina is definitely improving and I tried to push myself as I wanted a new PR. And I got one! My time was 29:51 and my pace was 9:36. I broke the 10 minute pace! YEAH! I ended up finishing 11th in my age group (out of 26 women 50-54). I looked at the other women in my age group and some of them are VERY fast! The woman who won my age group ran a 24:04 time, 7:45 pace. WOW! That is even faster then Becca. How can that be? Needless to say there is lots of room for improvement. And when I see other women my age (and older) running that fast that tells me that I have capabilities that I can't even fathom at this time. The future will be interesting!

Next race? I'm thinking that I will do the Turkey Trot 4K/10K in Marion on November 21st. That is the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The Saturday before we leave for Cozumel to support Rachelle in her first Ironman event. Could be a busy weekend....I've yet to decide...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fruity Baked Oatmeal

I came across this recipe in the following cookbook in November of 2008 and have made it many times ever since. It is one of those recipes that you can change it up very easily with different fruits. It is great warmed up or room temperature. We eat it as a breakfast "on the go" type of meal. Definitely one of our family favorites. I like to mix everything up and put it in the fridge over night and bake it in the morning, so it is warm. This recipe will be used by our family for years to come!

Here is a picture of the cookbook I got it out of. It has become one of my favorites. It has many recipes that I've already made and liked and many more that I'm itching to get started on!

Fruity Baked Oatmeal
source: Taste of Home, simple & delicious cookbook
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup chopped peeled tart apple
1/3c cup fresh or frozen peaches
1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Additional milk, optional

In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Combine the eggs, milk and butter; add to the dry ingredients. Stir in the apple, peaches and blueberries.
Pour into an 8-in. square baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cut into squares. Serve with milk if desired. Yield: 9 servings
Editor's note: If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw before adding to batter
My comments: I have added dried cranberries, mashed bananas, chopped nuts, and applesauce (instead of apples). You really have lots of room for variation. You should have approximately 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cup of add-ins, regardless of what they are.