Thanksgiving Recipe Round-Up: Dessert

Thanksgiving Round Up

I LOVE Thanksgiving!  I know….there is a huge irony in that, being British and loving Thanksgiving! 

I love it for the time with family and friends, it’s a chance to get together with those you love from near and far and celebrate and be thankful.  We all have so much to be thankful for, whether it has been a wonderful year or a difficult one – if we think for just a moment we can think of a hundred little things to be thankful for.

I love that each family has their traditions.  I have been blessed to experience many different family traditions, especially as my first 5 years here where before I had a family of my own here, so I was always ‘adopted’ by a wonderful family, or friends and made to feel like I was a part of something.  From Pumpkin Pie eaten first thing in the morning, to watching the latest movie release, to everyone round the table sharing what they are thankful for, to playing board games, to going to bed early to get up even earlier to go Black Friday shopping, to not sleeping at all and shopping ’til you drop, to avoiding shopping altogether, to gift giving ‘just because’, to family baking sessions, to putting up Christmas decorations… was all wonderful, and special and unique to that family. Continue reading

Gluten-Free Rhubarb Crisp

Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp

This is one of my all time favorite desserts!

I cannot get enough of it!

I never usually make a gluten-free crisp topping but I have many friends who can only eat gluten-free foods so I want to accommodate them in this delightful indulgence.

I am by no means an expert at gluten-free baking – this is the first thing I have ever made deliberately gluten-free and it came out really well – and was a total hit with my gluten-free friends.  Certain gluten-free desserts are much simpler than I realized, so if like me, you are scared to try out gluten-free baking then this is the place to start!!

I managed to make this with ingredients I already had in the house – at no additional cost, and it took no more time than a normal crisp topping. Everyone commented that you would never have known that it was even gluten-free, so it was a win-win all around.

To find out how to make the rhubarb compote featured in this recipe, CLICK HERE


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Rhubarb: The Misunderstood Fruit

Rhubarb Compote

Rhubarb is one of my favorite fruits to use in Fall and Winter desserts.  

I love the combination of sweet and tart flavors, the beautiful color of the fruit and how something that seems hard, woody and tough can transform into something delicious!  I think rhubarb is the misunderstood fruit but with some help it can be incredible.

It does need some help, but with a few quick tips you have the foundation for multiple great desserts that you can pull together in minutes.

I made this compote well in advance and froze it ready to use in a dessert at a later date.  When I wanted to use it, I defrosted it and t was ready to go!

I hope this convinces you to give rhubarb another chance…….especially when you see the other recipes I used it for coming later this week!

Enjoy! Continue reading

Pumpkin Three Ways

Pumpkin Three Ways
It’s that time of year – pumpkin is all around and we are no different!

We bought 4 GIANT pumpkins with the intention of carving two and eating the other two……instead we only had time to carve one (which rotted before Halloween so we had to throw it out….the joys of California sunshine!) and we were left with three ridiculous pumpkins taking up valuable counter space in our kitchen!

I decided I wanted to make pumpkin puree and roast some chunks to use later – and I wanted to share the recipes with you here!

It was very easy, except cutting the thing….which was so big Captain America had to cut it for me as I wasn’t strong enough!

I used about a third of the pumpkin to make the puree, another third for the savory chunks and the final third for the sweet chunks.

It all turned out really well and now I have another two pumpkins left….and no room in the freezer!!!

We used a white pumpkin for these recipes as we had a recommendation from the lady at the pumpkin farm that they are the best ones for food.  They have more flesh, less empty space and are very flavorful.  The other pumpkins we have are the standard orange ones and we will make same with those too. Continue reading

Pumpkin Walnut Oat Muffins

Pumpkin Walnut Oat Muffins
As I may or may not have mentioned, I love baking, especially during the Fall months!  

A couple of weeks ago I was debating what excuse I could come up with to bake, all day I resisted the temptation and then I gave in at 9pm and started baking 🙂 My excuse was I had pumpkin to use and guests to feed at church! It worked!

I knew some of the out of town guests were diabetic and gluten intolerant so I wanted to make something suitable for them WITHOUT having to shop for extra ingredients – not being a gluten free or sugar free expert I searched for some suitable recipes, all of which I did not have the ingredients for, however I did discover that oats are more often than not gluten free, and I already had a recipe for bran muffins that are very low in sugar, so I adapted it and this was the result!

There was a chance they would have been a disaster as adapting baking recipes takes some skill and I usually get it very wrong and end up with a soggy cake or a dry, doughy cake.  These did require a little more time baking as the mixture is very wet – so don’t panic if it seems really sloppy!  It makes delicious, moist muffins!

Pumpkin Walnut Oat Muffins

The recipe made 18 bite-sized mini muffins and 12 regular sized ones – so it really goes a long way!

They were a huge success, gone on minutes….especially the bite-sized ones and my gluten intolerant and diabetic friends were very happy! Continue reading

Pumpkin Spice Pull Apart Bread

Pumpkin Spice Pull Apart Bread

I really enjoyed our 31 Days series – Walking Out A Leap Of Faith, however it was challenging for me not to publish any recipes for a whole month!

It did not stop me cooking or baking though, especially as it’s Fall and it is one of my favorite seasons and I love to bake delicious Fall recipes!

This was one of them!

Pull Apart Bread is one of those things you see ALL OVER PINTEREST….so I just had to give it a go!  For me, biscuits are a weird thing!  In England, a biscuit is a cookie, so to eat biscuits for breakfast here seems like a crazy indulgence!  We don’t have anything quite like them in England.  Also, I am not the girl that uses cake mix, or pre-made food very often.  I am purist and want to make things from scratch – but I wanted to give this recipe a try and it called for pre-made biscuits – so I gave it a go….and I will NEVER look back… good, so easy… have to give it a go too!!!

Pumpkin Spice Pull Apart Bread

It creates a ‘not too sweet, but totally fulfills any sweet cravings’ you may have, with its warm cinnamon crust, layered with pumpkin….so wonderful! It is so enticing I made a whole other loaf of it while I was typing up this recipe as I just couldn’t resist! Continue reading

The Cataldo Pie Escapade – Part Two

Cataldo Pie Escapade Part 2

And so The Cataldo Pie Escapade continues…….

Our host family in L.A. all love pie.  It is their favorite dessert.  If only I had known that BEFORE I took them I pie I wasn’t 100% happy with!  In a discussion about pie crust, they were strong advocates of using half butter and half shortening in pie crust.  Then I saw an episode of The Pioneer Woman on Food Network and she made a pie crust which she swears turns out perfect every time.  It also used half shortening and half butter.

My determination kicked in again – I WILL NOT be beaten by pie crust!

I needed a key kitchen tool which I didn’t own – a pastry cutter! Apparently this is more essential than I first realized – I’m not big on gadgets and thought this must be another non-essential tool…I was wrong!  It made all the difference.

Cataldo Pie Escapade #2

I will never attempt to make pastry without one of these again – DO NOT try it without one!!!

This time I used The Pioneer Woman’s ‘foolproof’ recipe, as I wanted to compare the pastries made with all butter and half shortening and half butter.

Cataldo Pie Escapade #2

Confession time: I made a HUGE error when measuring our the original ingredients as I wanted to make a double crust.  I got the measurements wrong, but realized part way though so tried to recify it…..and failed…..miserably! Unlike most cooking, pastry it seems cannot be redeemed 😦 I ended up throwing away the whole first batch of dough after multiple attempts at using it to make something that looked a little like pie crust.  I was so mad…..yet still determined! Please somebody save me from myself!!!

I made a second batch – carefully measuring this time and it was a success!

Cataldo Pie Escapade #2

I also changed the filling recipe a little after finding this incredibly helpful article from The Kitchn, Easy Fruit Pie Filling, I added a little balsamic vinegar instead of lemon juice….and it was delicious! Continue reading

The Cataldo Pie Escapade – Part One

Cataldo Pie Escapade - Part One

I am terrified of making pie.  I am scared of pie crust or pastry (depending on where you are in the world).  It scares me more than yeast – and that is saying something.  My Mum is also not a fan of pie crust…..don’t get me wrong we both love to eat it but it is very tempremental to make and we cannot be doing with the hassle.  As my Mum is scared of it too she rarely made pie crust when I was growing up, so I never learned how to do it.

For some of you out there, you will be reading this thinking “pie crust is easy, what is she talking about?” You are one of those cooks I really admire and aspire to be like.  I however am I big chicken when it comes to pastry.

I decided however to face my fear head on (in a moment of craziness, which I have since come to regret!), and because if that you get to read all about The Cataldo Pie Escapade – Part One, and yes that does mean there is more to come!! Not only did I decide to make pie for the very first time, but I decided to take it as a gift for our host family when we went to L.A. for a conference.  Who does that? Who makes their very first pie and decides to make it for someone else……………I am clearly insane!

As a way of easing the pain of making pie crust, I turned to my sister-in-law, Kristine.  She herself says she is no cook (although I have to disagree with her!), however desserts, and especially pie, she is famous for.  Captain America has raved about her pies. So I asked her for her recipe and advice.  She lovingly obliged and offered 24-hour phone support for my angst! (of which I took full advantage!)

Here is her wonderful recipe…….and the escapade….with pictures in full detail!!!

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