After a great win over Penn State this past Saturday, you wouldn’t think I could have asked for more from the weekend (other than not pulling a tendon in my foot). But Hurricane Sandy had other plans for me, in the name of an extended weekend in State College! I was scheduled to leave on a flight Sunday evening, but my first flight was delayed so much that I would’ve missed my connection in Atlanta. Thankfully Delta let me reschedule my flight for the next day. Upon waking up however, my Monday flight had already been cancelled. Now the plan is to leave this afternoon, with a connection in Detroit. Not that I mind the extended mini vacation, I am just worried about my cat, Brady. So hopefully while you read this I am on a flight back to Memphis.
Despite all my traveling dilemmas, I still have a treat for you today in preparation for Halloween tomorrow! I am sure you are familiar with Oreo truffles. The combination of cream cheese and crushed Oreos is nearly perfection. Nearly, only because I may have discovered an even better way to make these treats – substitute the cream cheese for canned pumpkin puree! The truffles ended up being softer than when made with cream cheese, but it did not bother my taste buds in the slightest. You could always reduce the puree to 3/4 cup if you would like them to be firmer. I also think these would’ve been phenomenal dipped into white chocolate. Yum!
PUMPKIN OREO TRUFFLES
Makes approximately 3 dozen
8 oz cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel)
1 pkg OREO cookies
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 lb chocolate bark + 1 Tbsp shortening, melted over double-broiler
- Finely crush cookies in a food processor (or place in a ziplock bag) and mix in cream cheese and pie spice until well blended.
- Shape into 1-inch balls and place on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Place in freezer for 15 minutes.
- Roll in melted chocolate using two forks and remove, allowing excess to drip off; place back on sheet. Sprinkle with desired toppings.
- Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.
Source: Adapted from Oreo Truffles.
This month for the Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned to Finding Joy in My Kitchen. After digging through some delicious sounding recipes such as White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese, Zucchini “Pizza”, and Healthier Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Crumble Topping, I finally decided to make these sweet potato dark chocolate bars. It seems that I have not been able to get my fill of sweet potato lately.
These bars could have been made with pumpkins puree, which would have been easier because all I would’ve had to do is pop open a can. But I decided to go ahead and cook up some sweet potato and dig out my food processor to make puree. Was it worth it? Definitely. These bars are like sweet potato cheesecake, with a dense-cakey (almost sugar cookie-like) crust and a granola-dark chocolate topping. I have never used granola for a topping (only oats) and really enjoyed the extra crunch it added. I used one of my favorite store-bought granolas that has pumpkin seeds in it to complete the fall-ness of these bars.
Also, in the original post she wondered if this recipe would also work with a homemade yellow cake mix. So took up this challenge and went ahead and made my own homemade cake mix and used it in this recipe. Sure enough it worked! I’ll be sharing the recipe for the homemade mix tomorrow.
SWEET POTATO DARK CHOCOLATE BARS
Makes about 20 bars
1-18.25 oz. box yellow cake mix (homemade mix works too, about 2-1/2 cups)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg yolk
2 cups sweet potato puree (could also substitute for pumpkin)
4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 egg white
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup granola (I used a store-bought granola with pumpkin seeds)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch pan and set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the cake mix, butter and egg yolk together until it forms a ball of dough. Press into a the bottom of the prepared pan.
- In a medium bowl, combine sweet potato puree, cream cheese, egg white, sugar and spices. Mix well until most of the lumps are blended. Pour the sweet potato puree mix over the top of the crust.
- In a medium bowl, mix the granola, cinnamon and dark chocolate chips together. Add the melted butter to help the ingredients stick together. Sprinkle the topping over the sweet potato filling.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. The sweet potato layer remains somewhat creamy and solidifies as it cools. Allow to cool completely and then refrigerate before cutting into bars (not necessary, but the bars cut cleaner if you chill them first).
Source: Adapted slightly from Finding Joy in My Kitchen
Tomorrow, September 22nd, is the official start of the fall season. So why not compile a list of some fall favorite recipes in order to prepare oneself? Granted, I will still be living in the land of mid-80 degree highs, but I can try to pretend by lighting lots of fall scented candles. It is getting cooler at night, but unfortunately the boots and sweaters have to wait just a little bit longer for the daytime.
What is your favorite thing to make & eat during the fall?
One year ago: Sausage Stuffed Pretzel Bites
- Apple Butter Granola
- Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts
- Apple Cider Pancakes
- Apple Harvest Oatmeal
- Apple Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins
- Banana Pecan Waffles
- Biscoff Cinnamon Rolls
- Pumpkin Biscoff Cream Cheese Bread
- Pumpkin Danish
- Pumpkin Granola
- Pumpkin Pancakes
- Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese
- Sweet Potato Breakfast Biscuits
- Bleu Cheese Ball
- Homemade Wheat Thins
- Fried Mac and Cheese
- Loaded Baked Potato Dip
- Pomegranate-Goat Cheese Ball
- Pumpkin Spice Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
- Toffee Apple Dip
- Apple Maple Turkey Burgers with Maple-Dijon Sauce
- Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese with Caramelized Onion, Bacon, and Apple
- Butternut Squash Lasagna
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Cheddar Chili Cornbread Pasta Bake
- Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque
- Gnocchi with Goat Cheese and Spinach
- Goat Cheese Ricotta Gnocchi with Walnut Thyme Butter Sauce
- Grilled Three Cheese Sandwich
- Ron’s Chili
- Rosemary Brie Chicken Burgers
- Sweet Potato Cream Pasta with Crispy Kale
- Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Browned Butter Sauce
- Blue Cheese Scalloped Potatoes
- Cranberry Sauce
- Jalapeno Cornbread
- Roasted Potato Salad
- Homemade Applesauce
- Sweet Potato Fries
- Apple Blackberry Pie
- Apple Butter Chewy Cinnamon M&M Cookies
- Biscoff Cheesecake Ice Cream
- Butter Pecan with Brandy Ice Cream
- Caramel Apple Pie
- Cinnabon Roll Rice Krispies Treats
- Cinnamon Candied Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
- Iced & Spiced Applesauce Cookies
- Peanut Butter Cinnamon Raisin Apple Bars
- Pumpkin Kissed Gingerbread Brownies
- Pumpkin Nutella Mini Cheesecake Bites
- Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
- Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
- Saltine Cracker Toffee
- Speculoos S’mores Cheesecake Bars
Waste not: I hope you saved your seeds after carving pumpkins for Halloween (or from making homemade pumpkin puree) so that you can roast them up! Usually I only add a little salt but I decided to add something more, such as the uncreative addition of pumpkin pie spice! Such a non-novel idea isn’t it? Haha but anyway they are good, despite their obviousness.
My favorite part of making roasted pumpkin seeds is running my hands through the seeds while rinsing them. They feel slippery and fun! Makes me want to jump into a pool of them and swim around.. am I alone on this one?
PUMPKIN SPICE ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
Whole, fresh, unshelled pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin pie spice
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Rinse pumpkin seeds under cold water and pick out the pulp and strings, then drain. (This is easiest just after you’ve removed the seeds from the pumpkin, before the pulp has dried.)
- Place the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet, stirring to coat.
- Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice and salt and bake until toasted, about 25 minutes, checking and stirring after 10 minutes.
- Let cool and store in an air-tight container.
Source: Adapted from Allrecipes
I don’t think I have ever seen a can of store-bought pumpkin in my dad’s kitchen. I’m not sure I knew such a thing existed until recent years, because he was always cooking up whole pumpkins and stashing away its guts in the basement freezer, taking it out when the occasion arose to make the first pie I ever loved – pumpkin pie.
It’s really great to be able to make and store your own pumpkin puree because you can avoid all the shortages of canned pumpkin at the grocery. And it’s incredibly easy to make. You can really do this with any sized pumpkin so long as it fits into your oven. My dad is not convinced that the “pie” pumpkins are really any different other than their size (he has baked with both). Just be sure to keep align the rack in your oven away from the heating source to avoid burning.
Also, be warned that the puree with not be as dense and dark colored as the canned stuff. You can thicken it up a bit by following the extra step in the directions below, to drain out some of the liquid. I ended up not taking that extra step because my puree seemed thick enough to me.
HOMEMADE PUMPKIN PUREE
Yields about 1 lb puree
6 lb pumpkin, whole
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
- Remove the stem, and cut pumpkin in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the guts (reserve seeds for another use) and place cut-side-down on the prepared baking sheet. Cook until fork inserts easily, about 45-50 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool before scooping the flesh from the skin. Place flesh into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- If you would like your puree to be thicker, line a large fine mesh strainer with paper towels or cheesecloth. Transfer the pumpkin puree to the strainer and allow to drain for one hour. Once drained, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze up to 3 months.
Source: My dad and Sweet Pea’s Kitchen.
Are we really halfway through October? Guess that means it’s time to start embracing the Halloween aspect of fall before Christmas takes over every store in sight… bring on the holiday-themed Oreos!
Cupcakes do not appear on this blog o’ mine enough, (There’s only been two so far? Really!?) so let’s throw these fancy Oreos into the mix shall we? The Oreo sits at the bottom of a rich chocolate cupcake, topped off with orange-colored cream cheese frosting and some extra Oreo. I even put them in fun Halloween cupcake liners for your viewing pleasure.
I actually had a picture of the inside of the cupcake so you could see how pretty the Oreo looks in there, but I apparently wanted to eat the rest of it before making sure I got a photo that was in focus. So use that brain of yours and fire up the imagination! Or just make them and see for yourself O:-).
In a time crunch and want to make this recipe easier? I won’t tell anyone if you use a boxed cake mix and a jar of cream cheese frosting. It still gets a personal touch by adding the Oreos and dying the frosting!
HALLOWEEN OREO CUPCAKES
Makes 24 cupkcakes
36 Halloween Oreos (less than one package)
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar
Orange gel food coloring (or yellow and red)
- Preheat over to 350 degrees. Insert liners into a medium cupcake pan.
- Twist apart 24 Oreos. Place the wafer with filling on it, filling side up, in the bottom of each paper liner (save non-filling sides for another recipe, or crush and use as additional garnish). Cut 12 more Oreos in half for garnish.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the brown sugar and continue beating until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, being careful not to overmix.
- Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile make the frosting. In a medium bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add vanilla extract. Slowly add powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. Mix in food coloring until well blended.
- Once cupcakes have cooled completely, scoop the frosting into a pastry bag and pipe frosting decoratively on top of the cupcakes. Garnish with Oreo cookie halves.