Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

This pie. Oh, this pie. This pie is amazing. I’d almost go as far as saying it was my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. It definitely made the best breakfast, lunch, and snack for the (very) few days it lasted after Thanksgiving. I just feel lucky that I had a group of guests that were too full for 2 slices of pie and were all natural pumpkin pie choosers. The guests that did make the (best) decision to try this pie also loved it.

So what’s so great about this pie? The super sweet filling is enhanced by the warm bourbon and perfectly balanced with the toasted pecans and dark, bitter sweet, chocolate. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I’ve only had regular pecan pie one or two times. But now that I’ve had this chocolate bourbon version, I’m not sure a regular one will cut it.

 

 

Quinoa, Sausage, and Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash

First I want to thank everyone that entered my Thankful Giveaway. I announced the winner yesterday, but it was so much fun I think I might just have another one before the holidays. 🙂 I also have to admit that there was a slight ulterior motive to the entry question I asked – I’m going to be doing another week of Christmas cookies and I wanted to feel out some new ideas from readers. Maybe you’ll see one of your favorites in the coming weeks!

I know you’re probably feeling the itch to move on to those holiday sweets and treats, and obviously so am I – but I have one last fall meal that I just have to share. This stuffed acorn squash is so warm, filling, and satisfying. After a friend of mine posted a picture of her quinoa stuffed squash on facebook a few weeks ago, I just couldn’t get it out of my head. So I asked her to direct me to the recipe and I adapted it (for my meat lovin’ man) from there.  I absolutely loved the crunch from the pecans, saltiness from the feta, and subtle sweetness from the squash. Jesse loved that I added the chicken sausage, but if you’re looking for a meatless meal, you could skip the sausage and just use the quinoa, feta, and pecans.

 

Pumpkin Praline Cake

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Originally I was thinking that if Jesse wasn’t going to be home for Thanksgiving I would just fly back to Ohio. Unfortunately we found out too late and the cost of airlines tickets was outrageous. How annoying is it that the airlines can get away with charging so much more for tickets during the holidays? So I had to stay in San Diego for Thanksgiving.

Since a few friends were also staying in town, I decided to host a not-Thanksgiving dinner. Going in a completely different direction I planned a Mexican feast, complete with chicken enchiladas, shrimp enchiladas, black beans, and rice.The friends I had over were also at our turkey dinner 2 weeks earlier, so I don’t think they missed the traditional meal too much. And I have to say, I forgot how much I love enchiladas at home.

But when it came to dessert I couldn’t get the traditional pumpkin out of my head. I found this recipe and even though it didn’t really “go” with my theme, it was still awesome. Pumpkin cakes are always super moist, and the crunch from the pecans and the flavor of the caramel was perfect. And don’t even get me started on the cream cheese, whipped cream frosting fusion. Last minute I felt like the frosting needed a little kick so I sprinkled in some cinnamon and it was like heaven on a spoon when I tasted it.

Quick blog announcement: If you follow me on Facebook, then you already know this, but if you don’t (maybe you should :)) then I just want to share that starting Monday I am doing a week long feature on Christmas cookies! Stop by all next week for some Santa- friendly treats!


Pumpkin Praline Cake

Ingredients

Caramel Praline

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
3 Tbsp whipping cream
1 cup pecans chopped, and toasted

Cake
4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Frosting 4 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 – 1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter the parchment paper.

In a small sauce pan over low heat, stir together the brown sugar, butter and heavy whipping. Keep stirring occasionally until it has all melted together, about 5 minutes. Then divide the mixture between the two cake pans. Sprinkle the pecans into the cake pans, over the brown sugar mixture. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

In another bowl, with a hand held mixer (or standing mixer), beat together the eggs, vegetable oil and sugar until well blended. Slowly add the dry ingredients, and with the mixer on low speed, combine. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top of the cake is spongy and the edges start to pull away from the sides. Let the cakes cool in the pan or 5 minutes, then invert onto cooling racks*. Allow to cool until no longer warm to the touch, at least 1 1/2 hours, before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar until light and creamy. Add the whipping cream 1/4 cup at a time, beating on high speed until smooth, and scraping down sides of the bowl after each addition. After the last addition beat until it has the consistency of whipped cream. Finally stir in the cinnamon.

Frost the top of each cake then stack one on top of the other. Garnish with whole pecans.

Adapted from Beantown Baker

Easy Turtle Brownies

 

It’s Sweet Friday again and today I bring you Easy Turtle Brownies. I wanted to title this post “Crazy Easy One Bowl Turtle Brownies” but I thought that might be a little long. These are however crazy easy to make, and they do only require one bowl. Perfect for a weeknight chocolate craving.

I do have a go-to recipe that I have dubbed my favorite but in my opinion a girl can never have too many ways to make a brownie. If you haven’t noticed, there is a salted caramel craze across the foodie world. So I drew some inspiration from that – and a bottle of Hershey’s caramel sauce that I found hidden on my refrigerator door shelf. I also had a bag of pecan pieces in the cabinet. That’s how the wheels starting turning.

I thought these brownies were fabulous. The bit of brown sugar I subbed in the brownies gave the chocolate an extra caramely and chewy kick. And every so often I would get a nice bite of kosher salt. They also had my ideal brownie texture, chewy, fudgelike, and moist. Jesse on the other hand liked them but still thought they were too “wet.” He prefers a much more cake like brownie so I wasn’t at all surprised. Just keep that in mind, if you prefer drier cake like brownies, these aren’t it.

Crazy Easy One Bowl Turtle Brownies
(Brownie adapted from Hershey’s, idea inspired by The Novice Chef)

Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 cup cocoa powder*
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Hershey’s Caramel Syrup (or another brand of caramel, or make you’re own if you’re up to it)
Pecan pieces, optionally toasted
*I used half Hershey’s special dark and half regular cocoa powder, you can use a combination or whichever you have on hand.

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking dish (or if you’re like me and resisting this purchase, just use a 9 inch pie pan).

Melt the butter in a microwave safe mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir the sugars into the melted butter. Add the vanilla and eggs and stir until well combined. Add the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and kosher salt to the bowl. Without breaking into the liquid ingredients below, give the dry ingredients a few stirs with a fork, then use your wooden spoon to incorporate into the liquid ingredients. Stir until you no longer see the flour.

Pour half of the batter into the greased pan and spread with a spatula (or save dishes and just use the wooden spoon). Drizzle the batter with the caramel syrup, being careful to keep it a 1/4 inch away from the edges. Pour in the rest of the batter. Drizzle with a little more caramel syrup then swirl with the spatula (or wooden spoon). Drop a small handful of pecans on top.

Bake for 20 minutes**, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool then slice into even squares or wedges and serve with a LARGE glass of milk.

**Because of the caramel syrup these were a little bubbly when baking, probably not the prettiest brownies I’ve ever made, but that’s OK. Don’t be scared when they don’t have box-perfect shiny crispy crust on top.