Holiday Goodies

Squash and Honey Pie with Cornmeal Crust

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by Joseph Erdos

squashpieMy favorite part about Thanksgiving is always the desserts. Pumpkin pie and pecan pie are my favorites, but squash pie is my personal specialty. But all the Thanksgiving pies are very much American specialties. You can't really find pie as popular anywhere else in the world. The first Americans, the pilgrims, who celebrated the holiday did not automatically think to make pies out of the land's native squashes and pumpkins. They were more apt to eat meat pies for a main dish and custards for dessert as was the tradition in Europe, but because of scarcity, they had to use the plentiful crops for something. Some bright individual combined pumpkins, pie, and custard and came up with the basics for the recipes we follow today. I sincerely thank that individual.

There's just something special about fall and winter squashes, their unique shapes and earthy flavors, that makes me want to cook and bake with them. Since I prefer the more mellow flavor of squash to pumpkin, I use acorn or butternut squash. Sometimes I steam or roast them for this recipe, but canned squash or pumpkin works perfectly well. Since it's synonymous with the holiday, it's the only time I use a can all year. This recipe is very quick and easy. The squash custard is whipped in one bowl. A machine isn't even required. So, do not buy a pumpkin pie from the bakery or frozen section of the grocery store. And whatever you do, don't buy frozen pie crust either. This pie with its cornmeal crust is much more unique than anything available in stores. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and your guests will be delightedly pleased with Thanksgiving dessert.

Cinnamon Ice Cream and a Deconstructed Apple Pie

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by Susan Salzman

icecream sundaeThanksgiving is next week. I am in amazement as to how quickly this year flew by. Last year at this time I was starting to clean out our pantry in preparation for experimenting with a gluten free diet. That experiment turned into a way of life and everyone in our home has greatly benefited from it.

With the change in diet and lifestyle, I promised myself that I would savor the little moments(Levi and I walking hand in hand to school), embrace my accomplishments, no matter how great or how small, and to try and be in the moment as much as possible.

I have been gradually planning my Thanksgiving menu. Gradually, because I am in denial that it is next week. Pie has never been my dessert of choice. It wasn’t something I enthusiastically raised my hand to make. In the past, when I did indulge in a piece of pie, it was always the center that I savored, discarding the crust.

Having 5 egg yolks on hand, with a day left before they had to be tossed, it was this cinnamon ice cream recipe that inspired me to create, what I am calling, a deconstructed apple pie – a la mode. A big bag of raw pecans and some homemade graham cracker crumbs were incentive to help this idea grow.

Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce

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by James Moore

caramelsauceThis is a quick and easy caramel sauce, but be sure to use a 2 quart saucepan, the hot sugar syrup mixture will bubble vigorously (and dangerously), and a small pan could overflow. Despite the slight drama on the stovetop, the sauce is well worth the minor effort.

It’s an incredibly smooth, rich, buttery caramel sauce that compliments any number of fall desserts. I recently made a batch to go with some rustic apple tarts and everyone raved that it was the best dessert ever. It’s also perfect to drizzle over warm bread pudding, or on a slice of Harvest Apple Cake.

1/2 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice from 1 lemon

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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by Susan Russo

Got leftover Halloween candy? Make cookies.

If you think Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are good straight out of the wrapper, then wait until you taste them baked into these big, bumpy, nutty, chocolate chunk cookies.

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Print this recipe.
  2. Ransack your kids' Halloween bags for 6 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
  3. If you don't have kids, then go the supermarket and buy a bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. It's not as much fun as #2 but at least you might catch them on sale.
  4. Bake the cookies, turning on the oven light to watch them swell.
  5. Eat a still warm, melty cookie and wash it down with a glass of cold milk while you reminisce about Halloweens past.
  6. Sigh in satisfaction. There are still 23 cookies left to eat.

Whole Wheat Honey Cake

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by Susan Salzman

cake.wholewheathoneyFall always symbolizes new beginnings; fresh school supplies, cozy scarves, and the celebration of the Jewish New Year.

Traditionally, we eat apples and honey which represent a sweet new year. For the next 10 days I try to incorporate honey into most of what I cook. And lately, I have been turned onto raw honey and I am loving the results.

Whether you celebrate this holiday or not, a honey cake is a wonderful way to end any meal. Drizzle some chocolate glaze over the top and you will have your kids (as well as the spouse), begging for more.

Pumpkin Caramel Bars with Bacon

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by Cathy Pollak

pumpkinbarsHow to take pumpkin bars to the next level...add caramel frosting and bacon. This sure beats the regular cream cheese frosting we normally use with pumpkin desserts. The bacon adds a smoky, salty and crunchy complement, while the bacon drippings in the pumpkin layer add another subtle smoky taste.

I have come to love bacon in my dessert. Itgives it that sweet-savory flavor I love. The caramel frosting is a take on Italian buttercream, however, themethod is actually easier and the results are "perfection".

Overall this is a great fall dessert. It would also go nicely as part of a Thanksgiving Day holiday dessert table.

Thank goodness these need to stay in the fridge, otherwise I would be grabbing one off the counter everytime I passed by.

Pumpkin Pie Martini's

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by Cathy Pollak

pumpkinmartiniI always think it's fun to offer your guests a couple of beverage choices.  Champagne is always a good celebratory drink and wine and beer are no-brainers. 

But come on, don't you want to do something different?  Something to make your gathering more memorable?  I know you do.

All you have to do is offer up these Pumpkin Pie Martini's and your party will be a hit.  No one will forget these very special cocktails or maybe they will forget everything...depending on how many they have.

I really can't decide if these drinks should be served during happy hour or with dessert.  They just need to make an appearance at some point. 

If it's cold out, these will be the perfect offering to warm everyone up.

Tres Leches Cake

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by Joseph Erdos

treslecheCinco de Mayo is not necessarily celebrated as a national holiday in Mexico, but here in the United States it's a celebration of Mexican culture and a day where no excuse is needed to fill up on Mexican favorites. Guacamole, tacos, and margaritas are all popular when May 5 rolls around, but what about dessert? One of the most popular Mexican desserts is tres leches cake, a sponge cake made of three types of milk, hence the name. Sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream make up this incredibly sweet cake.

All over Latin America and even the Caribbean, people enjoy tres leches cake for holidays or just simple family get-togethers, so why not serve it on Cinco de Mayo this year? Some recipes for the cake use butter, which creates a more dense cake, but this recipe leaves it out to create a softer texture. Also, the egg yolks and whites are beaten separately, which creates more volume. The resulting texture is truly sponge-like, easily absorbing about 1 quart of creamy liquid. After chilling, the cake is ready for the final flourish of whipped cream.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Bacon Guacamole!

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by Susan Russo

baconguacamoleMay 5th is Cinco de Mayo, the day when Mexicans commemorate their victory over the French in the Battle at Puebla of 1862. In the Mexican town of Puebla, schoolchildren will study history, artists will sing and dance and chefs will cook traditional foods, all to honor their brave ancestors.

And in cities throughout America, Americans will get drunk. Somehow, this day of national pride for Mexicans has become another excuse for Americans to get sloshed. Think I'm exaggerating? According to Time magazine Cinco de Mayo is the 4th drunkest holiday of the year.

How about this year you get drunk on bacon guacamole instead?

If you think traditional guacamole is irresistible, then be prepared to get punch drunk in love with this porky version: Classic creamy guacamole is studded with nibs of salty, smoky, crisp bacon.

And in case you're wondering, yes, bacon guacamole does taste better if you eat it while wearing a sombrero and shaking some maracas.


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