pumpkin spice apple crisp

So last week, I made this pumpkin spice apple crisp.

I made it because I had three mushy apples and a jar of Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter to use up.

pumpkin butter

And oh my goodness… I’m so grateful for those mushy apples. Because this dessert is AMAZING!

This pumpkin spice apple crisp would be perfect to bring to a holiday gathering. It is a delightful combination of apples and pumpkin, two flavors that are bursting with holiday joy.

This crisp tastes like apple pie, only it is loads simpler to make! All you need are four ingredients {well, five, if you top your slice with whipped cream, which you certainly should!} And you don’t need to tell anyone, but for a dessert it’s even relatively healthy, thanks to all those apples and a relatively small amount of butter and sugar.

pumpkin spice apple crisp

{adapted slightly from this recipe}

– 3 large apples {I used fuji and jazz because that’s what we had going mushy in our fridge}
– 3/4 cup pumpkin butter
– 8 oz pumpkin quick bread mix {most packages are double this amount, so I used half of the mix for the crisp and then made pumpkin muffins with the remaining half of the mix… another alternative would be doubling this recipe and using the whole package of pumpkin bread mix}
– 3 tbsp butter
– whipped cream for serving {optional}

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Peel, core, and dice your apples and put into a bowl.

apples diced

3. Toss apple pieces with the pumpkin butter until they are coated. Pour into a shallow class dish or pie pan.

pumpkin butter apples

4. Cut the butter into small pieces and mix with your hands into the pumpkin bread mix until well-combined. This should create a crumbly topping. {Note: your fingers will be messy!}

5. Pour the topping over the apple mixture and spread it into an even layer.

topping prebake

6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until topping is golden brown and your house smells aaaamazing.

pumpkin spice apple crisp

7. Enjoy warm with whipped cream on top… or pumpkin ice cream! Yum, just thought of that, it would be delicious. Now I need to make this again so I can eat it with pumpkin ice cream 🙂

apple crisp slice

My Grandpap, an extreme lover of apple pie, told me that this was one of the best apple desserts he has ever eaten! We certainly gobbled this up in our household. Hope you do, too!

if you liked this recipe, you might also enjoy:
incredibly easy pumpkin spice cookies
apple cake with crumb topping and brown sugar glaze
gluten-free apple pie bites
chocolate pumpkin spice kiss cookies
pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream-cheese frosting

grandpap’s favorite cherry-cheese pie

grandpap birthday

For my Grandpap’s birthday this past weekend, we made him his favorite dessert: cherry-cheese pie! It was a big hit with my family, and I was surprised at how simple it was to make. This would be a great holiday dessert alternative to pumpkin or pecan pie!

cherry cheese pie

grandpap’s favorite cherry-cheese pie
– 2 eggs
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 & 1/2 cups sour cream
– 2 packages {8 oz each} cream cheese, softened {I used one regular package and one package of reduced-fat}
– 2 tbsp melted butter
– graham cracker crumb crust
– 1 can {21 oz} cherry pie filling

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Beat together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and sour cream.

bianca baking

3. Cut cream cheese into small pieces. Gradually add the cream cheese to the sour-cream mixture, beating well.

4. Beat in melted butter.

5. Pour cheese mixture into 9-inch graham cracker crust. Bake for 35 minutes, or until set in center. Will firm up as it cools.

pies in oven

cooked pies

6. Top with cherry pie filling; chill cherry cheesecake pie thoroughly before serving.

cherry cheese pie

Hope you enjoy as much as Grandpap did! 🙂

me and grandpap

you might also enjoy these recipes:
perfect pumpkin pie
blueberry pie
gluten-free apple pie bites

year of kindness challenge: week 13

year of kindness button

Hi everyone! Sorry I’m a day late posting this — yesterday’s Foodie Pen Pals reveal bumped things back a day. Hope your week is off to a good start!

Last week was very exciting around here, as the Year of Kindness Challenge was featured on the amazing blog Money-Saving Mom! What a true honor! Welcome and thank you to all our new subscribers! 🙂

The Week 12 Kindness Challenge was to deliver something sweet — coffee, cookies, baked goods, etc. — to your local fire station. I baked a pumpkin pie from scratch and delivered it to the local fire station with a handwritten thank-you note:

pumpkin pie

week 12 challenge

thank you note

My dad sent me this note about his act of kindness for the week:

“Instead of the fire station I gave some yummy Limonera gourmet lemon candy chews to a policeman and thanked him for his service. (I did it at my running park as they tend to come in and circle around now and then and I was ready!) I could tell the gesture made his day…”

And here are some wonderful kindness posts by my new blogger friend Pam:

Some good things happened in my world this week:

  • my absolutely wonderful and amazing friend Holly came to visit me
  • another friend surprised me with homemade cookies
  • I received a ton of sweet emails and congratulations about the Steinbeck Fellowship, which I am completely thrilled and beyond words excited to have been awarded for this upcoming school year — I’ll be moving to San Jose in August!!
  • I reconnected with a few good friends, who I will miss dearly after we graduate in May
  • Karen Russell, terrifically talented author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove, came to speak at Purdue and was so insightful, kind, generous and funny. I greatly admire her work and it was a real treat to meet her!

Now, on to this week’s kindness challenge: give someone flowers. This could be a friend, sibling, child, parent, neighbor, coworker, or even a stranger. They could be flowers from the store or from your own garden. You could give them in person or leave them for someone as an anonymous surprise. Spread the springtime AND the kindness this week!

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a great week!
-Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station

perfect pumpkin pie

Happy weekend, everyone! Sorry that I didn’t get a pumpkin recipe up yesterday … with Greg coming into town and my GRE test this morning, it kind of slipped by the wayside. But I’m happy to report that Pumpkin Week is back today!

I shared in a post last month that I made a delicious pumpkin pie … and that I also made a disaster of a pumpkin pie! Seriously, it was pretty gross. It never seemed fully cooked, so I kept putting it back in the oven for longer and longer, and then the top started to kind of peel away from the rest of the {still-uncooked-seeming} pumpkin mixture. Imagine a creme brulee or pudding sort of thing happening, only on pumpkin pie.

Not. Good.

I was so disheartened I didn’t even take pictures of it. The bad embarrassed blogger in me just tossed it into the trash. I wish now I would have taken pictures so I could have shown it to you. {Thanks to Bonnie at Recipes Happen for encouraging all of us to embrace our mistakes, laugh about them, and learn from them!} Alas, I did not take pictures, so you’ll just have to imagine it and take my word that it was baaaaad.

Here’s what I think happened: I tried substituting truvia for the sugar, and something about that mixture didn’t work out. I don’t know if I added too much of it, or too little, or if just my pie happened to be unlucky, or what. Have any of you tried baking with a sugar substitute like truvia or splenda? Any tips or advice? As you know, I’m always trying to find ways to make recipes healthier! But maybe sometimes, like in the case of pumpkin pie, it’s best to stick with the basics. 😉

I’ve also tried making pumpkin pie with both evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk, and I must say that I like the sweetened condensed version better. It’s a little creamier texture-wise, and has a good balance of sweetness and pumpkiny goodness. My latest experiment has been trying reduced fat sweetened condensed milk, which I’m happy to report tasted just as delicious with fewer calories! Hooray for small victories.

In the past I’ve always used pre-made graham cracker crust from the grocery store  but in the future I’m hoping to try making my own graham cracker crust {or even my own graham crackers after being inspired by this post by Jill at Reini Days!} I’ll keep you posted! I also am very generous with spices, particularly cinnamon. If you’re not the biggest cinnamon fan, you might adjust the spices to fit your tastes.

perfect pumpkin pie

– 1 graham cracker crust {I like the reduced fat version just fine}
– 1 can pumpkin
– 1 can reduced fat sweetened condensed milk
– 2 eggs
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp cloves
– 1/2 tsp ginger
– 1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Combine pumpkin with spices and vanilla.

3. Beat eggs and add to pumpkin mixture.

4. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat well.

5. Pour pie filling into graham cracker crust.

6. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake for another 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.

Serve with whipped cream on top for the perfect pie experience!

YUM! I love pumpkin pie.

I’m in the mood for celebrating now that my GRE exam is over … hooray for the weekend! 🙂 Hope you are having a wonderful day!

-Dallas

marvelous monday: pumpkin week!

Happy Monday, everyone! How was your weekend? I had one of my favorite types of weekend: cozy at home, laid-back, while also productive. {Or, as my brother calls it, “tcb-time: taking care of business!”} I am taking the GRE Subject Exam in literature next weekend and spent a good chunk of time studying for the test using a study guide I got from the Princeton Review, which is amazingly helpful and has actually been cracking me up quite a bit with the authors’ witty jabs and digs at the test. {Mike probably thinks I am going crazy from too much studying when he looks over and sees me giggling over my test book.} If you or someone you know is studying for the GRE or a GRE Subject Exam, I’d highly recommend their study guides!

Another reason I am feeling so jazzed this morning: my brother is coming to visit on Thursday! He’s staying for a long weekend and I am SO excited to see him. He is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met and has been my best friend since he was born and I was two and a half years old. 🙂 I feel really blessed that we are so close and that he still wants to spend time with his big sister. I am going to be on pins-and-needles driving to the airport after class on Thursday afternoon!

Greg and me at his college graduation this past May. I’m so proud of him!

As we transition from October into November, I had a realization: Halloween might be over, but I am *SO* not done with pumpkin yet! I feel like I haven’t even begun to take advantage of this marvelous squash in my autumn cooking. So, this week on the blog, I bring to you Pumpkin Week! Every day I’ll post a new pumpkin recipe, spanning all meals of the day. I’m hoping this week will motivate me to try all these pumpkin recipes I’ve stored up {like this amazing list from Two Peas & Their Pod} and might also inspire you to try some new recipes yourself!

Today we start with breakfast. I was inspired by Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers to work some pumpkin goodness into my morning batch of oats. It was easy and delicious — like having a healthy version of pumpkin pie to start the day off right! Plus, I love oatmeal on cold winter days. It warms my belly and just gets me into a happy mood.

pumpkin spice oatmeal

– 1/2 cup oats
– 1/3 cup milk {I like vanilla rice milk, but soy milk, almond milk, or just plain old dairy milk would all work}
– 1/4 cup pumpkin
– 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
– 1 tsp cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and stir together. Microwave for 2-3 minutes {depending on your microwave’s power} until desired consistency. I like my oatmeal pretty thick; my mom loves hers watery. It’s a preference thing!

Enjoy warm. Add more cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice as desired. YUM!

What are some of your favorite pumpkin recipes? I’m looking forward to sharing more with you tomorrow. Hope you have a marvelous day!

-Dallas 🙂

marvelous monday: finding happiness in the details

Happy Monday, everyone! I admit it, I had a hard time saying goodbye to this weekend. It was just so nice! I always feel such energy and excitement in the air when summer turns over to autumn. {I won’t lie, I still had a hard time waking up this morning … more on that in a minute!}

On Saturday Mike and I went to Feast of the Hunters Moon, a Lafayette tradition. It’s sort of like a Renaissance Festival but for colonial times. People seize the opportunity to dress up — not just in colonial period costumes, but as pirates, animals, face-painted Native Americans {which always makes me cringe after taking a Native American History course in college} … there is singing, dancing, cricket-playing, marching. We saw a fife & drum troupe and a miniature horse pulling a carriage around, bells jingling. Tents were set up all around with people selling homemade goods; we walked past a blacksmith, a leather tooler, potters and jewelry makers. And there’s all sorts of delicious and interesting food {as one friendly lady told me and Mike, “That’s why they call it FEAST!”} We sampled bison stew, fried smelt, corncakes, an apple fritter, and croquignoles, which are cinnamon-sugar donuts. It was a gorgeous, crisp sunny autumn day and I think my favorite part was just walking around taking everything in.

On Sunday we had a relaxing workday and book-browsing at Barnes & Noble, then played a few rounds of pinball at this local arcade before heading home. Would you believe that yours truly actually scored high enough to win a free game?? Yes, I was proud. The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” may just be running through my head right now. 🙂

Maybe because it was such a lovely weekend, it was extra hard getting up this morning. My first thought was: “Monday? Waaaah!” But I diligently rolled out of bed, and as I brewed my mug of tea I thought of that saying, “The dollar is in the details.” I think it can apply to happiness, too. The little details of our days can bring us so much joy if we just take a few moments to appreciate them.

Here are a few details that brightened up my Monday morning:

1. James Taylor on the radio. I love you, James!

2. Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice tea. {My mom got this for me last Christmas and it is so yummy I’ve been trying to draw it out and ration myself to a cup or two a week, though I might end up caving and using it all up this week! … It’s so perfect for autumn}

3. Pumpkin pie. For breakfast. {I needed to celebrate the yummy pie I made last night after a true disaster of a pumpkin pie attempt on Friday … more on that later this week!}

4. The “good morning” text message from my dad … he’s so sweet and always sends me text messages before he goes to bed on Pacific time, so when I wake up on Eastern time I’ll find a good morning from him waiting on my phone. Always gets my day off on a good note!

5. Watching a hilarious episode of Arrested Development as I ate breakfast.

6. A sunny 58-degree day outside … cold enough to wear my cute boots and scarf, but not too cold that going outside means freezing my butt off.

7. Cute dog videos on YouTube … I miss my dog Murray so much {he’s our family dog and lives with my parents in California} and watching videos of adorable & funny dogs that remind me of him almost makes me feel like I’m waking up to him snoring upside-down on “his” couch in the living room.

8. The pretty autumn wreath I snagged last year at CVS pharmacy, of all places. I just adore it! I love coming home and seeing it hanging on my front door. I hope it brings a little smile to our mailwoman’s face every day, too!

I’m feeling a zillion times better already, ready to embrace the day! What details are making your day marvelous?

❤ Dallas

blueberry pie

Looking for a quick, easy, and antioxidant-filled summer dessert? Try this blueberry pie! I had never made a blueberry pie before so I was a little anxious about how it would turn out, but all I did was throw the ingredients together in a pie crust and pop it in the oven.

I modified the recipe from this one I found on Food.com and served mine with whipped cream.

Blueberry Pie

-1 pie crust {I used a premade shortbread pie crust but I think a graham cracker crust would be nice, too}
-1/4 cup sugar
-2 tbsp flour
-2 {overflowing} cups blueberries
-1 tsp lemon juice
-pinch of salt
-whipped cream {if desired; I used the Kroger-brand fat-free kind}

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour blueberries into a strainer and rinse them. Pat dry with a paper towel and pour them into a large bowl.

2. Add the flour and toss to coat the blueberries. Then add the sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Mix well, being careful not to mash the blueberries.

3. Pour the berry mixture into the pie crust.

4. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the blueberries start to bubble.

5. Top with whipped cream if desired.

YUM!

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Time spent: 10 minutes prep, 45-60 minutes baking
Money spent: $6.00