Pumpkin Caramel Tart

I’m not quite sure my attempt at spelling ‘Give Thanks’ is too clear in this Caramel Pumpkin Tart, but at least know that the effort was there! While this particular tart was made for the Thanksgiving Holiday, this dessert can definitely be made throughout the winter season and is a perfect staple for a weekend get-together. Its clever use of hazelnuts for the crust creates a nutty flavor that is tough to beat, but happens to combine nicely with the (surprisingly) light tasting pumpkin-caramel filling.

Here are a few tips for making this tart:

  1. Careful with the Caramel: Making caramel is a form of art. The best advice I would give is to follow the recipe, have a buddy help if you can and carefully watch the color as the sugar cooks. It’s amazing how quickly the caramel mixture will turn from a tasty concoction to a completely burnt mess in just seconds.
  2. Hazelnuts Crush Quickly: Hazelnuts will quickly turn into a paste (not what you’re looking for in this recipe) if you leave them pulsing in the food processor for too long. Just keep an eye on it.
  3. Always Fresh Ginger: It’s amazing how quickly I can tell if fresh ginger has been used in a recipe. If you can, I’d highly recommend to use fresh ginger. A good tip is to buy some and store in the freezer so that it can be used at any time.




Pumpkin Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

“Let them eat cake!”

No, but really, everyone should eat cake (at least before everyone’s New Year’s resolutions starts!). After hearing this phrase on the television (this phrase was supposedly spoken by a princess who learned that the peasants had no bread and was rumored to have  been Marie Antoinette, but no actual proof exists), I became inspired to bake a cake for our annual Christmas dinner.

Now, although the original recipe called to make homemade frosting (Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake With Caramel and Cream Cheese Frosting), I copped out and bought store-bought frosting because I was in a pinch and used a bundt pan instead of creating multiple layers. My deviations resulted in an easier version; however, although I saved myself time and energy, I am sure that the original version (complete with homemade frosting!) would have been more flavor-filled and fulfilling. But, that adventure will have to be saved for another day – at least everyone could eat cake!

Step 1: Mix Together Liquids

Step 2: Mix Dry Ingredients Into Liquids

Step 3: Bake and Add Frosting

Now, truly after this recipe, I swear that my healthy New Year’s resolution will actually start (I swear!).


Salt & Straw

I’m such a sugar fiend. I know I have a problem when ice cream seems like it could take the place of a meal such as breakfast, lunch or dinner. But, on top of craving bouts of sugar all of the time, I also crave variety. And, by “variety”, I mean that I like to try things that might be considered simply atypical. For example, some of my friends might “mix it up” by ordering pumpkin pie ice cream instead of a standard vanilla or cookies ‘n cream flavor. For me, I need something a little bit zanier, something that just peaks my curiosity just a little bit more…

I first read about Salt & Straw through an article in Portland Monthly Magazine. All it took was just one glance at the menu on their website and I knew I would be instantly hooked. How did I know so quickly? I saw the words pear and blue cheese combined into an ice cream flavor. Now, although that might not have been my flavor of choice, I knew that ice cream similar to that flavor realm would be completely right up my alley.

So, this past weekend, my boyfriend and I ventured to Salt & Straw. Not only did I try delicious and unusual flavors of ice cream, but the people that worked at Salt & Straw were absolutely delightful, incredibly helpful and even let me try multiple samples. After sampling a few different flavors that included the likes of Honey Balsamic Strawberry With Cracked Black Pepper, Brown Bread Stuffing With Apricot and an ESB flavored ice cream, I finally settled upon Banana With Spicy Caramel and Walnuts while my boyfriend ordered a flavor that tasted exactly like blueberry pancakes with maple syrup (alas, I cannot remember the name!). Besides the most important fact that the ice cream encompasses a unique batch of flavor-intense ingredients, Salt & Straw is a farm-to-cone ice cream shop that uses local, sustainable and organic ingredients. As a result, this just makes me appreciate their establishment even more and elated for the chance to go back.

All in all, let’s just say, delicious ice cream + friendly service + a sunny afternoon= one happy camper.