Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake when looking for ways to use up some leftover canned pumpkin in my fridge. I am personally not a big cheesecake fan, but the description indicated that it would taste more like pumpkin pie with extra creaminess so I was happy to give it a go.

As promised, the filling had a very pumpkin-pie-like flavor, but with a smoother consistency, which I really liked. It was also a hit with my husband, who is both a pumpkin pie and cheesecake fan all-around.

I made some adaptations to the recipe based on what I had on hand. I substituted low-fat cinnamon graham crackers for standard crumbs in the crust. I used only 1/3 less-fat cream cheese in place of the original combination of fat-free cream cheese and 1/3 less-fat cream cheese. The recipe also called for an 8-inch springform pan, but I used a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and adjusted the cooking time a bit to compensate. I had worried that the filling might overflow because of the shallower pan so I put it on a cookie sheet just in case, but there were no spills.

I think this one will make a great addition to your holiday table. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Adapted from Cooking Light

Yield: 8 servings

  • cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup low-fat cinnamon graham cracker crumbs ( about 4 sheets)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 12 oz. 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • reduced fat whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 325°. Coat an 10-inch removable tart pan with cooking spray, and press bottom of pan evenly with crumbs. Combine the sugars and cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add pumpkin and next 9 ingredients (through eggs), and beat well. Pour the cream cheese mixture into prepared pan. Bake at 325° for 45 minutes or until center is just set. Turn oven off, and partially open the oven door. Cool cheesecake in the oven for 60 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven, and cover. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Serve with whipped cream.

Pumpkin Pie Streusel Bars

I hadn’t quite gotten around to making something truly “fall” yet this season until last week when I came across a recipe on the Bakers Royale food blog for Pumpkin Pie Streusel Bars. I love pumpkin desserts and this was a nice change from making a pie, bread or cookies. I adjusted the recipe a little to size it down to fit in a 9×9 pan for our two-person household and left out the pecans in the crust and topping so that my husband would be willing to share. I also upped the sugar a bit for the pumpkin filling since I wanted it to be a little bit sweeter.

These bars were yummy and even with my adjusted sugar levels weren’t overly sweet. They made for a nice portion controlled pumpkin pie flavor (if you cut them into small enough pieces!). I would probably bump up the amount of oats in the topping next if I leave out the pecans again.

Pumpkin Pie Streusel Bars

Adapted from Bakers Royale

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. + 3/8 c. sugar
  • 3/8 c. dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3/8 c. cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 c. old fashioned oats
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 2/3 c. (7.5oz.) canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • pinch of cloves
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. butterscotch chips

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×9 pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a medium bowl mix flour, 1/4 cup of sugar and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the oats. Place 3/8 cup of the flour mixture in a small bowl and add butterscotch chips. Set aside to reserve as topping. Press remaining flour mixture into the pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

Mix cream cheese and pumpkin with an electric mixer at medium speed until blended. Add remaining sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and vanilla; mix at medium speed until well blended. Spread pumpkin mixture over baked crust and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Sprinkle reserved oat mixture over the filling and continue to bake for another 15 minutes.

Cool in pan on a wire rack completely before cutting. Refrigerate leftovers.

Makes 16 bars.

Whole Grain Maple Oatmeal Bread

I love getting new recipe books from our local library. It gives me a chance to try out a book before I buy it and it’s an inexpensive way to try out recipes (excluding websites and blogs, of course). My latest temporary acquisition is Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg M.D. and Zoe Francois. It’s full of delicious and healthy recipes that are easy to fit into a busy schedule and don’t require a bread machine.

I love that their recipes are more hands on than using a bread machine, but still very easy and don’t require kneading. All I had to do was head to Whole Foods to add a new ingredient to my pantry called vital wheat gluten. Bob’s Red Mill makes it, but I found it very inexpensive in the bulk section and I wanted to start with a small amount before buying a bag of it.

Most of the recipes in this book have minimal mess because if you have a large lidded plastic bucket, or food storage container you can just mix all the ingredients for the dough right in there with a spoon and then finish it by mixing it with your hands. Let it rest in the container and then slip it into the fridge for up to 10 days (depending on the recipe) and pull the dough out when you’re ready to bake. Preheat the oven and/or baking stone and put the bread into bake. It’s so easy!

A couple of weeks ago I made a free-form loaf from their master recipe and it turned out well. The bread had a nice nutty flavor and went great with jam. I had leftover dough from that batch and made some whole wheat caramel rolls that were also delicious.

This third recipe I tried was 100% Whole Grain Maple Oatmeal Bread. How can you go wrong with a bread made with maple syrup, oatmeal and cinnamon? Of course there’s a bit more to it than that, but it is delicious. It has a light egg wash on top and a sprinkling of raw sugar that creates a lovely crust. A slice lightly toasted with peanut butter makes a great breakfast. You can also turn leftover dough into muffins. I usually halve the recipes in the book because my storage container is not quite big enough to hold most of the full recipes they provide.

Whole Grain Maple Oatmeal Bread

Adapted from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. granulated yeast, or 1 packet
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1/8 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3/8 cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water) for brushing the top crust
  • Raw sugar for sprinkling on top

Mixing and storing the dough:

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a 2 1/2 quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container. Add the liquid ingredients and mix with a spoon, without kneading. You might want to finish mixing with your hands to incorporate all of the flour.

Cover (not airtight) at room temperature for about 2 hours, until the dough rises and collapses (flattens on top). The dough can be used immediately after it rises, but it’s easier to handle when refrigerated. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use within 7 days.

On the day of baking:

Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the refrigerated dough with flour and pull it out of the container. Dust with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching the dough around the bottom on each side, rotating as you go.

Pull the dough into an oval shape and put it into the loaf pan, it should fill about 3/4 of the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour 45 minutes (or 60 minutes if it was not refrigerated).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint on the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Put the loaf pan on the middle rack and bake for 45-50 minutes, until deep brown and firm. Remove the bread from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Peanut Butter Cup Cake

I had been collecting a number of chocolate and peanut butter dessert recipes on Foodgawker over the last few months in anticipation of my husband’s birthday this year. Last weekend I asked him to pick one for me to make for an early birthday treat. He chose this Peanut Butter Cup Cake.
This was a very simple recipe that starts with a boxed devils food cake mix, eggs, buttermilk with chopped miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups mixed into the batter. The “frosting” is a chocolate and peanut butter ganache that is poured over the cake and sets for a minute before adding more chopped peanut butter cups for decoration. I didn’t go overboard with the decorative candy pieces. The cake had plenty mixed into the cake itself and I felt that really piling up the candy on the sides of the cake would overdo it here.
I usually prefer to bake a cake from scratch, but the buttermilk that was added gave the cake less of an “out-of-the box” taste. As if you couldn’t guess from the name, this cake was very rich and begs for a glass of milk to go with each slice. I’m not much of a chocolate cake fan myself, but I have to admit, this one was pretty darn good, even for non-chocoholics. Those that do love chocolate cake gave it rave reviews when I brought it to a barbecue this weekend. I think it also develops better flavor when it’s in the fridge for a couple of days. I seemed to like each slice better as another day passed.
I don’t want to think about how much each slice weighed in at calorie-wise, but for a once-in-a-while treat it’s worth the nutritional price!

Check out the recipe here: Peanut Butter Cup Cake recipe

Pumpkin Crunch

I recently tried a recipe from the famous Canyon Ranch for their Pumpkin Crunch. It can sometimes be difficult to find shelled pumpkin seeds, but I picked up mine at Trader Joe’s and they probably stock them at Whole Foods, too. You start by tossing the pepitas with a little oil and roasting them once, then tossing them with spices and roasting them again to bring out a smoky, nutty flavor while the maple syrup caramelizes on the seeds. You finish by tossing in the cranberries (though any favorite dried fruit would substitute well here) and letting the mixture cool. Yum!

Here’ a link to the Pumpkin Crunch recipe on the Canyon Ranch website. Enjoy!

Tomato Horseradish Rubbed Chicken Breasts with Roasted Vegetables

I picked up a cookbook from Michigan Chef Eric Villegas called Fork in the Road from the library the other day. Villegas had an Emmy-winning series of the same name on PBS celebrating Michigan based foods. It’s a great way to create recipes in your home based on local products.

Tomato Horseradish Rubbed Chicken Breasts

Adapted from pages 68-69 of the Fork in the Road cookbook.

For the Rub:
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 4 tbsp. tomato powder*
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. wasabi powder
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 4 tbsp. lavender
  • 4 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 8 tsp. sea salt

1. Combine all ingredients in small bowl.

2. Store the rub in a sealed container preferably away from heat and light in a cool, dark pantry or freezer. The blend will keep for several months.

*If you can’t find tomato powder you can make your own using dry-packaged sun-dried tomatoes. This is the method I used:

Blend 1/3 c. of dry packaged chopped sun-dried tomatoes in a blender until fine and powdered. Sift out seeds and large flakes over a bowl and reserve remaining powder. Discard seeds and and large flakes.

For the Vegetables and Chicken:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, preferably from Michigan
  • 4 tbsp. Tomato Horseradish Rub
  • 5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 large red potatoes, cooked, cooled and quartered
  • 2 whole portabella mushroom caps, stemmed and cut in half
  • 2 whole Roma tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 lemon
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Mix 2 tablespoons of the rub with 2 tablespoons of the oilive oil until well blended. Coat each chicken breast thoroughly with the paste. Cover and place in refrigertor at least 30 minutes or ovenight.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

3. Juice the lemon into a mixing bowl, toss with mixed vegetables and remaining olive oil. Season with the remaining 3 tablespoons of rub, one of the rosemary sprigs and additional salt and pepper if needed. Toss until well mixed.

4. Place the vegetables on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

5. Carefully remove the sheet from the oven and place the seasoned chicken breast on the baking sheet with the cooking vegetables.

6. Return the sheet to the oven and roast for another 15-18 minutes or until the juices in the chicken run clear.

7. Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and garnish with lemon and a rosemary sprig.

8. Serve immediately.