Pumpkin Recipe Collection

I have this habit of calling my 2 and a 1/2 year old niece “Pumpkin.” Half the time, she giggles and says, “Yeah, I’m a little Pumpkin.” The rest of the time she giggles and says (like every great two year old), “Noooooo! I’m not a Pumpkin! I’m a BIG girl!” Either way, it’s pretty much the greatest thing ever.

Yesterday, my niece and I were walking past a bodega and we saw mini pumpkins for sale. We stopped and picked one out for her to bring home. She was so excited about her pumpkin, she walked and carried it the whole way home.

“Aunt Stacey?”
“Yes, Pumpkin?”
“Can you eat pumpkin?”

Can you ever! Pumpkin eating season officially began for me when Starbucks rolled out the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Delicious! But my pumpkin eating affection doesn’t stop there. I like pumpkin flavored anything. In that spirit, I put together a little round-up of all the pumpkin recipes I want to make as soon as I get over being a cooking coward.

Pumpkin Recipe Collection // Likes to Smile

(Gorgeous Photos by the Blogger who Published the Recipe.)

ONE: Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwiches // The Tart Tart TWO: Baked Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes // Seeded at the Table THREE: Pumpkin S’mores // Little White Whale FOUR: Pumpkin Spice Popcorn Recipe // A Blossoming Life FIVE: Pumpkin Fudge // Recipe Girl SIX: Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow // What Megan’s Making SEVEN: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies // The Corner Kitchen EIGHT: Skinny Pumpkin Pie Frozen Yogurt // Brit + Co. NINE: Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust // A Beautiful Mess

I will happily eat popcorn for dinner, so I really can’t wait to try the Pumpkin Spice Popcorn. I also love any and everything s’mores so the pumpkin s’mores are right up my alley, too. I figure I should try my hand at one recipe so my niece can taste pumpkin, seeing as how she’s my very favorite Pumpkin!

And you? Are you a fan of the pumpkin flavor? Do you like “pumpkin” as a pet name? Which recipe are you cooking first?

Until next time!

xoxo,
Stacey

Postscript: Through researching this post, I also learned that there are Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses and Pumpkin Spice M&Ms. Both have already been ordered. Obviously, a taste test is in order. Hope I love them!

Zach’s Pie Crust & Peach Filling Recipe

On Monday, I shared a peach pie recipe collection that was inspired by my friend Zach (remember meeting him over merit badges & s’mores?!). Zach and I have been friends for over a decade and I’m forever thinking of new reasons why he’s even more amazing. For instance, the recipe collection was inspired by the fact that he had just baked his Mom a gluten-free Peach Pie!! Adorable to the Max!

Speaking of adorable: meet Zach!! Serendipitously, I found a picture of the two of us attending a pie social in Brooklyn in September of 2012. The pie pictured is not one he baked, but I remember it being delicious. So apropos, right?!

likes-to-smile-pie-with-Zach

Here’s another reason I love Zach: a few of you left comments that you would like Zach’s recipe. I quickly emailed to see if he’d be interested in sharing and he wrote back, “I’d love to write a blog for you!” Reason #8,672 why I love him! And he wrote a blog with 2 recipes: a pie crust and peach filling (reason #8,673)!!

Reason #8,674 that I love him: he also gave the gluten & dairy free alternative recipes, as well!

Without further ado: Zach’s Pie Crust & Peach Filling (in his own words, obviously):

Zach's Pie Crust & Peach Filling Recipes // Likes to Smile
I love pie. It is one of those versatile desserts, as it can accommodate almost any dietary restriction while still being delicious. It is so versatile that it can even become a main course (Chicken Pot Pie or Quiche anyone?). The trouble with pie is that many people struggle to make a great crust, which is the literal and metaphoric base of the pie. Without a solid crust, the pie just isn’t worth eating no matter how yummy the filling is. And for those of you out there that just go to the store and buy a frozen crust, please stop! Those are not pie crusts, as they usually contain no butter and are not flakey at all. I am going to teach you how to make a butter and shortening crust (complete with dairy free and gluten free alternatives that are still surprisingly delicious).

There are a few tricks that I have picked up while failing to make pie crusts when I first started. I will share these with you so that you can avoid the embarrassment of promising a pie and showing up with a crumble when your pie crust fails miserably.

The first trick is that you need to take the amount of ice water in a recipe as a suggestion. The only real way to tell if you have enough water is that the pie dough can come together nicely into a ball. It should still look like it will crumble a little bit, but it should not fall apart. You also do not want to add so much water that the dough becomes gummy because it will lose the light flaky texture that you are looking for.

Next, you should use recipes that call for both butter and shortening. Shortening makes dough much easier to work with, but does not add a lot of flavour or texture. Butter, which should always be used cold, is difficult to work with, but makes for a much better tasting crust. Using both gives you the best of both worlds – a crust that tastes and looks great and was relatively easy to make.

This is my favourite trick: Roll the dough between two pieces of floured wax paper. I started doing this when working with a gluten free crust because the gluten free flour does not stick together as nicely, but now I do it will all of my crusts. The dough is much easier to roll out and you have the wax paper as a tool to help you move the rolled dough into your pie pan – amazing!

Also, if your recipe calls for a blind bake (baking the crust before you fill it) – don’t bother buying expensive pie weights. Just use some dry beans. They cost way less and will last you for years of pie making.

Now, onto the recipe:

This recipe makes enough dough for a covered pie. If you only want a base, you can freeze the second half of the dough for a later use.

Mix together:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (for gluten free – use Bob’s Redmill gluten free flour and just under 1/2 tsp xanthan gum – both can be found in a health food store or the health food section of a larger grocery store)
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar (replace with the fresh herb of your choice for a savoury pie e.g. rosemary or thyme)

In a food processor add:
The flour mixture
3/4 cup COLD shortening (frozen is best) in small pieces
3 tbsp unsalted COLD butter in small pieces (if you are cooking dairy free – use Earth Balance vegan butter – this is the only product I have found that actually tastes and bakes like real butter – avoid margarine, as it is gross).

Pulse the food processor until the flour resembles coarse sand – do not over mix as this will warm the butter. You need the butter to stay cold and in small pieces because the pockets of butter are what make the pie crust flaky.

Once the mixture is coarse add:
6 tbsp ice water

Pulse the processor until the water is mixed in. The dough should hold together at this point. If it does not come together easily, add:

1/2 tbsp ice water

Pulse again. If the dough still does not come together, repeat the previous step. I have had to add between 1 and 3 tbsp of water in the past. It depends on humidity in your kitchen or how the pie gods are feeling that day. Don’t stress if you need to add a bit more, but also do not go crazy. If the dough becomes gummy looking, you have gone too far.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces and wrap in plastic wrap. Put the dough in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour to get cold again before rolling out and then follow your favourite pie recipe.

I hear that some of you want the full Peach Pie treatment from one of Stacey’s previous blogs. So here is what to do with this amazing pie crust to make a stellar peach pie:

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Roll out half of the pie dough from the fridge and line a 9 inch pie pan

Peel and pit
2 1/2 lbs fresh peaches and cut into 1/4 inch thick pieces

Combine:
the peaches
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch (you can use flour, but I find this makes for the best filling texture)
3 tbsp FRESH lemon juice (the bottles stuff does not taste as good)
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger

Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. This will let the juices flow and create a nice base for the filling. You need to mix so that the corn starch combines with the peach juice.

Fill the rolled pie crust with the peach filling. Dot a few pieces of butter (about 2 – 3 tbsp) around the top of the filling.

Roll out the second half of the pie crust and cover the pie. Pinch the ends to seal the pie and use a knife around the outside of the pie crust to remove excess crust. Cut a few decorative vents in the middle of the pie – this is more than just esthetics. The pie will explode if you do not let air out and that is a crazy mess.

Beat 1 egg and paint it onto the top of the crust and then sprinkle a few tsp of sugar on top (for browning purposes)

Put the pie pan on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil to avoid a dripping mess (which will also burn on the bottom of your oven and set off the smoke detector).

Here is the trick for baking any pie where you have a raw crust and raw filling: Bake at 425 for 30 minutes (this will set the crust) and then turn the oven down with the pie still in the oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes at 350 (this will cook the filling fully). The pie is only finished cooking when the crust is browned and the filling is bubbling. If the filly is not bubbling, it is still raw! Also, you may find that your pie crust is browning too fast. If it is already brown when you turn down the oven, cover it in aluminum foil to avoid burning.

Now enjoy your fresh summer pie!

——-

Also, you may want to add that this is adapted from the Joy of Cooking. It is a different recipe now, but the base of the recipe came from there (with additions from my head).

Love,
Zach

——-

Stacey here: Love, Zach!! Obviously, I love him lots! And I want to thank him for sharing his recipes and all those tips!! I think he’s masterful in the kitchen. And I so appreciate a non-blogger taking the time to write out a blog for my readers.

And you? What pie making tips do you have to share? Do you also have a friend that you keep finding new reasons to adore?

Until next time!

xoxo,
Stacey

Summer Peach Recipe Collection

Saturday afternoon, I had the best time skyping with Zach. Each time we speak, I insist on discussing what Zach has recently cooked or baked. He’s masterful in the kitchen and it is always delicious. This time, he had just made his Mom a peach pie. I wish I had been there in person to taste it! Also, can we note how adorable Zach is for baking a pie for his Mom. Je T’aime!!

I usually go to visit Zach in Ontario in August and I always stuff myself silly with Ontario peaches. There is nothing quite as delicious as an Ontario peach and there is definitely no such thing as eating too many peaches. Since I won’t be in Ontario this August (oh so sad!), I thought I would celebrate the season by putting together a summer peach recipe collection.

Summer Peach Recipe Collection // Likes to Smile

(Gorgeous Photos by the Blogger Who Published the Recipe)

ONE: Peach Shortbread // Smitten Kitchen TWO: Peach Butter // The Messy Baker Blog THREE: Peach Chutney and Brie Crostini // The Sweets Life FOUR: Watermelon Peach Tomato Salsa // Southern Living FIVE: Peach Custard Pie // Eating Well SIX: Grilled Peach Chipotle Salsa // Fort Mills SC Living SEVEN: Stuffed Peach Bread French Toast // The Baker Mama EIGHT: Governor’s Mansion Summer Peach Tea Punch // Southern Living NINE: Cheesecake Stuffed Peaches // Swanky Chic Fete

I like anything peach and all of these recipes look insanely delicious. I’m imagining trying each and every recipe to figure out which one is my favorite. Since I don’t have Zach’s cooking skills, I’m especially excited to try the Watermelon Peach Tomato salsa!! I think even this cooking coward can master that one. Top Chef, here I come!

UPDATE: Zach shared his recipes for the pie crust and peach filling here.

And you? Do you have a favorite peach recipe? Are you as excited about (Ontario) peach season as I am?

Off to eat a peach! Until next time!

xoxo,
Stacey

Staying Hydrated This Summer: Drinking More Water and Less Soda

I keep a water bottle on my desk in the hopes that it will inspire me to drink more water and less soda. Some days it works and other days, well… that good old vending machine wins the battle. But I keep fighting the good fight and one day I will be victorious!

Last week, I was walking past a coworker’s desk and she had the prettiest strawberry and mint infused water sitting next to her computer. All I could think was, “I bet that tastes better than soda.” A-ha! I had it! Perhaps fruit infused water will be the key to my drinking more water and less soda!

In the hopes of staying hydrated this summer AND in the hopes of drinking less soda, I created a collection of fruit infused water recipes. Totally worth a try! And oh-so-pretty, too. I think this cooking coward is about to find her way into her kitchen…

Fruit Infused Water Recipe Collection // Likes to Smile

(Gorgeous Photos by the Blogger who Published the Recipe.)

ONE: Raspberry, Rose, Vanilla Water // She Who Eats TWO: Cucumber, Lemon, Lime Water // Active Junky THREE: Watermelon, Lime Aguas Frescas // The Kitchn FOUR: Pineapple, Sugarcane Water // A Spicy Perspective FIVE: Peaches ‘n Cream Fruit Infused Water // The Hawks Homestead SIX: Blueberry, Orange, Cilantro Water // The Runaway Dilettante SEVEN: Strawberry, Mint Water // Pepper and Buttons EIGHT: Honeydew, Basil Aguas Frescas // The Kitchn NINE: Watermelon, Basil Aguas Frescas // Love to Know Gourmet

I can’t wait to try out these recipes. How pretty and special would it feel to have a glass of any one of those?!?! And if it inspires me to drink more water?! Say it with me now: woo to the hoo!!

And you? Do you also look for ways to drink more water and less soda? Have you ever made fruit infused water?

Until next time!

xoxo,
Stacey

S’mores Summer Wedding Love

Eleven summers ago, I was hired to be swim staff at a sleepaway camp. I was new to that camp and I was a bit anxious. I felt a tap on my back and turned around.

“Are you Stacey?”
“Yes,” I nervously replied.
“I’m Zach! I’m swim staff, too. I heard a lot about you. I was told it is inevitable that we will be best friends.”

He said it with such confidence and conviction that I believed him. I had a friend from that moment on and a best friend for the eleven years since.

I’ve never ascribed to the “best means best” and therefore “there should be only one best friend” rule. Rather, I’ve always had best friends by situation. And Zach? With confidence and conviction, I can tell you that he’s my “camp best friend from 2002.” To this day, he is one of my first phone calls whenever life happens. He is also a gourmet chef. I am a cooking coward. But together, we’ve made s’mores more times than I could ever count. After all, we are camp best friends.

I spent this past weekend celebrating the wedding of two people I love: Zach & Dan. Wishing you both a lifetime of s’mores and s’mores love and happiness.

In honor of the wedding of my camp best friend, I put together a collection of s’mores recipes.

S'mores Recipe Collection // Likes to Smile Blog
(Gorgeous Photos by the Blogger who Published the Recipe.)

ONE: S’mores Truffles // My Baking Addiction TWO: S’mores Cups // The Vault Files THREE: S’mores Chocolate Waffles // The Doughmesstic FOUR: S’mores Whoopie Pies // The Daily Candy FIVE: Gooey S’mores Ice Cream Cake // How Sweet It Is SIX: S’mores Hot Chocolate // Babble SEVEN: S’mores Cake in a Jar // How Sweet It Is EIGHT: S’mores Bites // Cooking Classy NINE: S’mores Bars // Bakers Royale

How ah-mazing do the s’mores recipes look?! Even this cooking coward wants to try her hand at them.

And you? Do you love s’mores? Do they remind you of camp? And do you also have best friends by situations?

Until next time!

xoxo,
Stacey

Postscript: I am still out of town celebrating, but will respond to the comments when I return on Tuesday.