Falling in Love with Fall & a Recipe for Pumpkin Donut Holes

It’s fall in most parts of the country right now. Here in Arizona, fall makes me want to get out my, well, t-shirt and shorts. Yes, we pretty much don’t get to start the fall wardrobe wearing till just about Thanksgiving. It is like the opposite of growing up in Ohio. There, when it reaches 50 degrees in the spring, people start getting out their jean shorts and bikini tops. Here, when it gets down to a breezy 65, we break out the long sleeves and jeans (and then suffer miserably through most of the day!). In the meantime, I am trying to get my “fall” on in a variety of other ways. I start to get out the Halloween decorations, I light the pumpkin spice candles, I merit the pros and cons of wasting half my daily calorie consumption on a new “fall” drink at Starbucks. (Seriously, who are these demons of torture? Salted caramel latte, anyone? You had me at hello!) During the rest of my downtime, I peruse the J.Crew catalog and wonder how many days I can actually wear the sweaters in there over the winter and using some homemade mathematic ratio that is completely fair and balanced, I decide yes! I should have that cable-knit in Angora, please. I also drool over these boots in all colors and combinations.

One of the more productive things I have done, though, is to start baking anything and everything that includes pumpkin. Productive for my productivity and for little mouths around me, not for my thighs, exactly. However, recently I came across this recipe for Pumpkin Donut Holes and they are actually pretty healthy. These donuts are not fried and include plenty of real pumpkin. The whole family loved them and they are one of my few non-guilty fall pleasures. Take them to the kids’ fall parties at school, take them to a Halloween get together, take them to book club or the Rotary! (Does anyone go to Rotary anymore? What is Rotary?) Let’s get started; here’s what you need:

Pumpkin Donut Holes

1 Cup all purpose flour

3/4 Cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tso sakt

1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 Cup canned pumpkin

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 Cup skim milk (or almond, rice, or soy milk)

Topping:

3 Tblsp butter, melted

1/3 cup white sugar

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray each cup in a mini muffin tin with baking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. In a larger bowl, whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until smooth. Add dry ingredients  and mix until just moist. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Transfer to wax paper. Topping: melt butter in one bowl and combine sugar and pumpkin pie spice in another. Brush each donut with butter and roll in sugar mixture to coat. Place back on waxed paper to set and then store in an airtight container. Of note, if you are not serving donuts until the next day, wait till then to do the topping. Enjoy!

Banana Split with a (Watermelon) Twist

Here I come again with another watermelon recipe!  If you missed last week’s watermelon cupcakes, you should click on over and try them.  They are really good!  Since we are still in the middle of summer, the heat is plentiful and watermelon is our favorite light dessert… here is a light twist on the banana split.

Ingredients:

  • Bananas (1 per person)
  • Watermelon
  • Toppings: granola, whipped cream or whipped topping, berries, chocolate syrup to drizzle.
Instructions:
  1. Cut bananas in half lengthwise and place the halves on plates.
  2. Top with watermelon balls formed with an ice-cream scoop.
  3. Add dollops of whipped cream, then sprinkle on berries and chopped nuts or granola.

 

Serve and enjoy!

 

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Photo credit: Disney Family Fun

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White Chocolate Fruit Tart (Dole California Cook-Off)

I was so excited when I first saw this contest from Dole;  I have the most amazing recipe using Dole products that I knew I could win a fun trip to L.A. with adorable celebrity chef Ben Ford! The only problem is, the contest is for a GRILLING recipe, and my Dole recipe is a dessert (that doesn’t require the grill)!  I decided instead to pass the challenge on to you all, and let you in on my amazing recipe as well, sans trip to Hollywood.  Keep in mind, the Dole contest ends on May 15th, so fire up those grills, stat!

The secret I am about to share will pull back the curtain on my pastry chef skills.  I’ll never forget how impressed I was when my friend Karen Vernacchio walked into a dinner party carrying this dessert years ago.  I was skeptical when she claimed the recipe for this beautiful, mouth-watering treat was easy. It has since become my staple, simple yet elegant, dessert  for entertaining. I am grateful to her every time I make it. I even keep the non-perishable ingredients in my pantry, (I almost always have milk, butter and cream cheese in my fridge) so in a pinch I can just grab the fresh berries and whip it up.

White Chocolate Fruit Tart

Tart crust:

¾ c. softened butter

1 ½ c. confectioners’ sugar

1 ½ c. flour

Filling:

1 bag White chocolate chips

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese

½ c. milk

Topping:

Kiwi, assorted berries, Dole canned pineapple

Glaze:

¼ c. sugar

1 T. cornstarch

½ c. Dole pineapple juice

Preheat oven to 300. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Blend in flour.  Press mixture into 12 inch round tart pan, or pizza pan.  Bake 20 min. until lightly browned.  Cool completely.  In a saucepan, melt chocolate and milk until smooth.  Add cream cheese and mix until smooth.  Spread over crust to cool. Arrange kiwi, Dole pineapple and berries on top of filling.  In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch, stir in Dole pineapple juice. Stir constantly until thick. Drizzle over fruit topping. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

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