25 years ago, my friend Rita gave me her aunt’s English Toffee recipe. The best part was that you didn’t have to use a candy thermometer,
No, I’m not completely tired of pumpkin just yet. So last weekend I made Pumpkin Ravioli with Browned Butter, Sage and Walnuts. The family flipped and Sophie asked to take the left-overs for her school lunch. We eat a lot of pumpkin during the fall, but most of it is in the sweet form, pancakes, pumpkin bread, doughnuts and my favorite, pumpkin cheesecake. Pumpkin is very under-used as a savory, and yet it is a vegetable. While you can certainly buy and prep a whole pumpkin, using canned pumpkin makes this Pumpkin Ravioli a bit easier. I know it’s cheating to use won ton skins in lieu of hand-made pasta dough, but doing so makes this do-able for a weeknight meal, especially when you have some little hands to help out.
Having the kids help in the kitchen is a great way to get them to vary their palate, teach a skill and ease the cook’s work!
The simple browned butter sauce with chopped walnuts is a great counter-part to the rich filling.
This is also an elegant entree for the vegetarian at your holiday dinner.
- ½ cup cooked pumpkin, (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup parmesan or Romano cheese, finely grated
- 1 egg
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 package won ton or pot sticker wrappers, (round or square)
- 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 10-12 fresh sage leaves
- ¼ cup chopped, toasted walnuts
- Additional grated parmesan cheese
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine first 8 ingredients, pumpkin through nutmeg, and pulse 4 or 5 times, scrapping down sides until blended.
- Using 2 won ton wrappers, place one scant tablespoon of pumpkin mixture in the center of one, brush the edges with water and place second wrapper on top, pressing all around to seal. Place ravioli on a cookie sheet. Cover with a slightly damp tea towel to prevent drying out.
- In a large skillet, melt butter over over medium heat. Add sage leaves. Butter will become fragrant and begin to turn golden brown. Watch it carefully, as it can quickly burn. When it begins to darken, remove pan from the heat and stir in lemon juice to stop butter from cooking.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, reduce to a simmer and carefully drop ravioli, 3 -5 at a time in.
- Remove ravioli from water with a slotted spoon and place on a serving platter, cover with foil until all ravioli are cooked. Top with warm browned butter and walnuts. Serve with additional grated parmesan cheese.
Looking for more pumpkin recipes? How about:
My husband’s favorite cake ever is German Chocolate Cake. Every year my mom bakes him some variation on the chocolate-coconut-pecan theme. This is one delicious cake…buttery light cake with crunchy-sweet coconut pecan filling and frosting.
This year mom combined two different recipes, using The Whimsical Bakehouse’s Chocolate Butter Cake and Martha Stewart’s Coconut Pecan Frosting.
- 1 cup hot coffee
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup cold water
- 3 cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2½ cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 10 x 3 inch round pans.
- In a bowl, combine coffee powder, whisk until smooth.
- Add water and whisk until smooth.
- Whisk together dry ingredients; cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat at high speed until light and fluffy: butter and sugar. Reduce mixer to medium speed and slowly add vanilla and eggs, one at a time.
- Add the dry ingredients and cocoa mixture, mixing until smooth.
- Pour into baking pans and bake at 350 degrees F. for 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool cakes on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes before turning them our of their pans.
The Chocolate Butter Cake is moist, and would work equally well with a dark chocolate or milk chocolate frosting, but this Coconut Pecan Frosting takes it to a whole new level.
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
- 1¼ cups light brown sugar
- 1½ sticks 9 (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and brought to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon slat
- 2⅔ cups (7 ounces) sweetened flaked coconut
- 1½ cups (6 ounces) pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
- Combine egg yolks, evaporated milk and brown sugar in a saucepan.
- Add butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick, about 10 minutes. Pour through a fine sieve into a bowl.
- Stir in vanilla, salt, coconut and pecans. Let cool completely.
- Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day; bring to room temperature before frosting cake.
Mom added an additional layer of chocolate ganache to drizzle down the sides of the cake, but of course that’s optional.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- Heat cream over medium heat just until hot, but not boiling
- Remove from heat, stir in chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth
- Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally
My husband requested nachos this weekend, but instead of the traditional Mexican version, I thought it would be fun to try something different. Then I remembered our favorite Greek restaurant and their crazy-delicious Garlic Feta Potatoes, so I thought Greek Nachos with pita chips in place of the tortilla strips would be awesome. For a gluten free version, you can easily use tortilla strips of course. The components are basically the same, some sort of vehicle to maneuver the ingredients, (chips…pita), cheese. I opted for both feta and mozzarella since feta doesn’t melt very well. The mozzarella is mild, doesn’t compete with the feta and has that great “pull” quality. After adding all the toppings, I finished it off tzatziki and garlic oil, just like our favorite garlic Greek fries. He happily ate these while watching football…no dinner needed! Here’s a recipe for homemade Tzatziki, if you’re so inclined, otherwise you can easily pick it up in the deli section of your local market.
- 1 12 ounce bag pita chips or tortilla strips
- 1 pound lean ground beef, lamb or turkey
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 Tablespoon minced garlic, divided
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¾ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- ½ cup diced cucumber
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- ½ cup diced red onion
- ⅓ cup sliced Kalamata olives
- 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup tzatziki sauce
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Arrange pita chips on an oven-safe baking dish or baking sheet
- In a skillet over medium heat, add ground meat, oregano, salt, 1 teaspoon garlic and pepper, stirring to break up large pieces until browned, about 5 minutes. Drain meat well.
- Top pita chips with ground meat, mozzarella cheese and feta and bake in center of oven until cheeses are melted, but not brown, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from oven and top with diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and olives.
- In the same pan you cooked the beef, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil and remaining 1 Tablespoon minced garlic, stirring just to heat the garlic, do not brown. Remove pan from heat, drizzle garlic olive oil over nachos. Drizzle tzatziki sauce, and sprinkle with chopped oregano.
Looking for more Greek recipes?
I had surgery a couple of weeks ago…My wonderful “village” of friends brought us meals for 2 weeks which was so thoughtful and convenient as I was recuperating. One night, Wendy and her daughter brought us a simple Zucchini Salad with fresh feta and mint. The simplicity of this salad, the fresh taste of the mint and lemon, combined with the creaminess of the feta was delicious. You could also add just a drizzle of good quality olive oil, although, it’s just as tasty without.
- 1 each zucchini and yellow squash
- 4 ounces of feta, crumbled
- 5-6 fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste.
- Wash and trim squash. Using a vegetable peeler, make long ribbons on the zucchini and squash.
- Toss with crumbled feta, mint and lemon juice.
- Season to taste with salt and fresh pepper.
Yep, tomorrow’s the first full day of Autumn and I can barely wait, so I’m starting just a few hours early. I love fall and everything about it! The smells, the colors and naturally the pumpkins.
When my mom first told me about Duff’s (The Ace of Cakes) Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake, I couldn’t understand how it could be his most popular cake recipe. I guess I’m a bit of a purist and didn’t want anything coming between the pumpkin and its’ spices. Lo and behold, that was before mom brought in a batch last weekend and we put them to the family taste test. Ok, so I was wrong. Not only do pumpkin and chocolate marry well, they might just be a match made in heaven. Instead of using Duff’s buttercream, mom topped them with her Cream Cheese Frosting, which has just a hint of orange.
Mom made a couple of changes to the recipe and I tried to simplify the recipe for a home cook. So here are mom’s slightly adapted Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.
- 1½ cups of sugar
- 5 ounces (10 Tablespoons), unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour (or gluten free flour blend)
- 1 cup cake flour (can use all regular flour too)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 egg whites
- ¾ cup pureed pumpkin
- 1½ cups mini chocolate chips
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners
- In mixer on low speed, combine sugar and butter until well mixed, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, about 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl combine dry ingredients, baking powder, spices, salt and flours
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla and egg whites. Stir the pumpkin puree into the whites just until incorporated.
- Add the dry ingredients and the pumpkin mixture to the egg and butter mixture, using about ⅓ of each mixture, and mixing each time, just until incorporated. Mixture should be blended and even in color.
- Fold in chocolate chips.
- Fill cupcake liners ¾ full. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10-12 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
- Transfer to wire rack and cool.
- Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.
This Cream Cheese Frosting can also be used on:
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon orange juice
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- In a mixer fitted with a blade, beat butter and cream cheese until well blended.
- Add vanilla, orange juice and zest.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar, scrapping down the sides as necessary, beating until well blended.
Carrot Cake Cupcakes