Pear & Pecan Crumb Bars

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After being gone for a few months of blogging, I’m back! not like i’ll have a new post every week back, but i’ll aim for at least 2 a month and hopefully be able to keep adding more from there. 

If you enjoy most of my blog posts, you should follow me on Instagram @Theamanda.lassiter & like my facebook page: facebook.com/driven2eat

Were a few weeks shy of the official start of pear season, but so far many of the pears I’ve eaten have been fantastic! A nice fresh pear on it’s own cut up makes a great snack therefore, I don’t do too much with pears in recipes. I picked up a few pears that were a little unripe for my liking. They had a very starchy mouth feel & very little natural sweetness. To be fair, the pears weren’t pleasant to eat and I didn’t want to just throw them out. It took me two (2) days to think of how I could utilize the pears without wasting them. A few ideas that came to mind: infusing them in vodka, poaching them for a salad, or even blending them up for a smoothie…All basic ideas. I was pondering all this over a cup of coffee when a major sweet tooth & hunger craving hit me. I thought, what pairs well with coffee? Suddenly I thought about coffee shops and some of the menu items they offer. Soon after, the idea of coffee cake (duh) came to mind. Just like that, I played around with a few ideas & took the concept of a (apple) crisp and substituted pears, added more flour and some nuts, resulting in what I am calling a crumb cake (bars).

These are get them out of the house right now bars (They’re that good). This recipe is composed of three (3) parts: Shortbread crust on the bottom, cinnamon poached pears in the center, and a nut crumble on top make the perfect dessert for your coffee, day & night! Don’t be afraid to top with ice cream or drizzle with caramel sauce, I wont judge! 😉

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Mise en Place:

For the Crust:

-1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, Softened

-1/4 Cup AP Flour

-1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar

-1/2 Cup Pecans, Chopped

-1/4 Teaspoon Salt

For the filling:

-3 Pears, Peeled & Diced Small

-2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

-1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon

For the Topping:

-1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, Softened

-1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar

-1 Cup AP Flour

-1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

-1 Cup Chopped Pecans

-1/4 Teaspoon Salt

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Method of Prep:

-Spray a 9×9 pan (I used a bread pan instead for a thicker, pie like crust on my bars). Preheat over to 350.

-Using the paddle attachment in your mixer, begin creaming your butter & sugar. Slowly add in the flour, salt and pecans. Press the crust into your pan and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

-While crust is baking, start on the filling. Add diced pears into a medium sauce pan. Cover with water. Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes or until pears become translucent. Drain well.

-Next, start the topping. Cream the butter & sugar. Slowly add in the rest of the ingredients. The mixture should become crumbly.

-Take drained pears and add them into a mixing bowl. Add in cinnamon & sugar. Stir well.

-Remove crust from the oven. Carefully add pears (try to avoid getting extra liquid from the pears onto the crust).

-Add crumb topping. Bake for an additional 22-25 minutes or until the topping becomes golden brown.

-Cool completely in pan before slicing. (*Freeze up to 3 months if needed)

Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

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Whats not to love about a classic plain cheesecake!? If made right, you don’t even need the fru fru additions of fresh fruit and whipped cream. I make at least 1 cheesecake every year, depending on the occasion will determine the flavor I choose to make. With autumn in full effect, I wanted to make the one pumpkin flavored dessert I make each year. Last couple of years I’ve made a pumpkin roll and decided this time to make a pumpkin cheesecake. I get that pumpkin spice is over rated and over used, but I promise you this pumpkin swirl cheesecake via Juniors Cheesecakes will have you begging for more.

If you’re not familiar with Juniors (I wasn’t either, my Husband told me about them) they are known for the home of New York’s best cheesecake. You haven’t really lived until you’ve had Cheesecake at Juniors. Unless you plan on traveling to NYC anytime soon, using one of these recipes to make for your own is the closest you’ll get to the best cheesecake. Believe me when I say Cheesecake factory is good, but this is so much better! It has been voted number 1 cheesecake in NY for over 45 years, that’s saying something!

This recipe was borrowed from the Juniors website. Check out the site for other tasty treats and history! (Graham cracker crust is my own)

Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Total Time: 1 day.

Yield: 1, 9″ Round cake pan

Graham Cracker Crust:

-1 1/2 Cups Ground Graham Cracker crumbs.

-1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar

-6 Tablespoons Butter, melted

 

-Combine all ingredients and mix until well incorporated.

-Press mixture into 9″ pie plate.

-Place in the oven @ 350 degrees and bake until lightly browned. Remove and allow to cool completely.

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For the Cheesecake:

Mise en Place:

Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese (use only full fat), at room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 cup canned pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more for sprinkling

Method of Prep:

1. Bake off graham cracker crust if you haven’t yet done so.

2. Put one package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl down several times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each one. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat in the cream just until completely blended. Be careful not to overmix!

3. Remove 1 1/2 cups of the batter and set aside. On low speed, blend the pumpkin and the 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice into the remaining batter. Gently spoon the pumpkin batter on top of the crust. Using a teaspoon, drop the white batter in small spoonfuls on top of the pumpkin batter, pushing it down slightly as you go. Using a thin, pointed knife, cut through the batter a few times in a “figure 8” design, just until white swirls appear.

4. Place the cake in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1 inch up the sides of the springform. Bake until the edges are light golden brown and the top has golden and tan swirls, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 2 hours (just walk away-don’t move it). Leave the cake in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cold, preferably overnight or at least 4 hours.

5. Release and remove the sides of the springform, leaving the cake on the bottom of the pan. Place on a cake plate. Pipe whipped cream rosettes around the top edge of the cake. Lightly sprinkle the cream rosettes (page 26) with a little pumpkin pie spice. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice the cold cake with a sharp straight-edge knife, not a serrated one. Cover any leftover cake and refrigerate, or wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.

The Junior’s Way
For this cake, the bakers use canned pumpkin, the kind that’s 100-percent pure pumpkin purée, not canned pumpkin pie mix. This works better than cooked fresh pumpkin because the moisture and flavor are consistent, cake after cake.

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Valentines Day Dessert Guide

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I smell sex and Candy, By Marcy Playground is playing right now as I type this, coincidence?? It’s funny because this is my ode to Valentines Day post….

Aside from my music playing in the background, The sweetest holiday (maybe the saddest for some), is this Friday. I’m pretty simple to please when it comes to Valentines day and this is why: I don’t really like box chocolates like I used to. Most are overpriced and have too much sugar and other artificial crap in them. I don’t care to dine out for dinner on Valentines day because even if I were able to get a reservation, the place would be too busy for me, lots of loud noise and slow service. Also, lets not forget I work in a kitchen and will be stuck working  on Friday anyways. While I do love flowers, I don’t really care to receive them because after about a week they begin to look sad as they slowly die and that makes me sad.

So if you’re going to do anything for me on Valentines day to win my heart and make me happy, make me something sweet from your kitchen. I love cookies and chocolate, hint, hint. I’ve put together a list of some of the desserts from my blog that are excellent to make for your sweetheart this weekend. If you want my advise for giving the best gift, make a card from scratch, write the nicest message to your love, and tie it to a box of one of these specially made home goods with love. Anything from scratch automatically wins my affection ❤

For The Love of Sweets!

Pies/Cakes:

I don’t know about you, but I am always down to get into some good pie and or cake even when it’s not my birthday!

Pie Dough: There is nothing wrong with baking a pie for the one you love. Use this recipe for your basic pie dough and fill it with your favorite flavors. Bake me away!

Grain Free Crust: If someone you love has a Gluten allergy or is 86ing gluten from their life, no worries, use this crust instead!

Spiced Carrot Cake: I absolutely LOVE carrot cake. I LOVE it so much this is the recipe being used for my wedding cake! If your looking to blow the mind of your sweetheart, bake this cake. Moist and very tasteful!

Angel Food Cake: A very heavenly treat! I love eating this cake with fresh cut strawberries, ice cream and or whipped cream! You’ll feel like your on cloud 9 after one bite!

Cookies:

Snickerdoodles: (GF/Refined Sugar Free/Vegan) These little guys are made from almond flour, but that’s okay because they are still pretty great!

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Thin Mints: If you missed your local girl scout this year, don’t worry, I got you covered! & seriously, who doesn’t LOVE thin mints!?!?

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Peanut Butter Blossoms: Peanut butter and chocolate, nuff said!

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Cocoa Cookies: This is my fiance’s personal favorite cookie.

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Macarons: This recipe is a bit harder to make, but once complete they are worth the struggle. These also make awesome ice cream sandwiches!

Chocolates:

Truffles: (Dairy Free/Vegan/GF) This is probably the easiest and fastest recipe on here. 2 of my favorite kinds!

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Almond Joys: (Gluten Free/Vegan) My favorite candy and this is my number 1 pick for Valentines day. Just like the candy except way way better for you!

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Misc. Desserts:

Coconut Rice Pudding: (Vegan/GF/Dairy Free/Refined Sugar Free) Another really good dish to make! Carmelized bananas really make this dish!

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Cannolis: No caption necessary!

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Happy Valentines day to all my followers out there!

Love, Amanda! xoxo

Basic Pie Dough

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Its a wonderful 25 degrees outside with a wind chill of 11. A light coating of snow is on the ground and the sky is grey. With that said, I think winter has finally arrived. This time of year is very popular in baking for the holidays and I can’t wait to share some baked goods and recipes for the gluttons out there reading this.

I’m keeping those post short and sweet. Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I have a ton of cooking and baking I still need to get done before I head off to work for the evening. If you’re planning to make a pie (perhaps a pumpkin or apple) I really recommend you make your own pie dough. If you’re in a hurry or really can’t find the time to do so and decide to get the pillsbury ready pie crusts then no worries. You know how I am with making everything from scratch. You can make this dough ahead of time and freeze it until future use. This only takes about an hour and half to make (most of the time goes into the dough resting in the fridge). You will be happy you took the extra time to make the dough yourself in the end.

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Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 10 Minutes

Mise en Place:

-2 1/2 Cups AP Flour

-1 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Sugar

-16 Tablespoons Butter (2 Sticks), cut in chunks

-1/4-1/2 Cup Ice Water

Method of Prep:

-In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, combine dry ingredients. Blend in the butter until flaky.

-Slowly add water until the dough forms. (You can switch to the dough hook attachment if you find that works easier.)

-Roll the dough into a ball and cover in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before rolling to make it easier when rolling.

Enjoy!

**I usually par bake my crust before inserting pie filling. Just bake about 20 minutes or until lightly colored on 350 degrees. If you choose not to do so, just bake according to pie recipe instructions.

Apple Crumble

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My Grandmother seriously makes the best apple pie in the world. I finally got the recipe from her to share on the blog so everyone can use it for the holidays. I changed the recipe up a wee bit because her recipe is very sweet (lots of granulated sugar in it). I switched to brown sugar and instead of using a pie dough recipe, I made a (grain free) crust which is why I’m calling this recipe a crumble and not a pie. You will understand when you see the texture after its done cooking.

I will include both recipes (Grandma’s and mine) in this post. If your not into the grain free eating trend or could give ten shits less about how much sugar you’re consuming, then you can use the original recipe.

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Grain Free/Gluten Free/Low sugar/Dairy Free/Vegan

 

Mise en Place:

Crust:

-2 C Almond Flour

-2 T Maple Syrup

-1/4 C coconut oil, melted

-1/2 t Baking Soda

-1/2 t Ground Cinnamon

-Dash Nutmeg

1/8 t Salt

Apple Filling:

-3/4 C Brown Sugar

-2 t Cinnamon

-6 Apples, Peeled and sliced

 

Topping:

-1/2 C Brown Sugar

-1/3 C Butter

-1/4 C Almonds, chopped

1/2 C Cashews, chopped

 

Method of prep:

-Set oven at 350 degrees.

-Mix all the crust ingredients together. Press firmly into greased pie pan. Bake 15 minutes until crust is golden brown.

-Take the sliced apples and mix them together with the filling ingredients.

-Once crust is finished, allow to cool to room temp. Pour apple filling onto crust. fill the pan up as high as it will go. (Don’t worry about there being too many apples, as the pie cooks, the apples will shrink and sink.)

-Take the ingredients for the topping and mix together in a bowl. Crumble up by hand. Spread the crumble on top of the apples evenly.

-Turn oven up to 450 and bake for 10 minutes.

-After 10 minutes, turn oven back down to 350 and bake an additional 45 minutes.

-Pull out and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Pairs great with vanilla ice cream!

Enjoy!

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For Grandmas not (Gluten free) version:

Apple mix (filling):

-See above

 

Topping:

-1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar

3/4 Cup AP Flour

-1/3 Cup Butter, cut into cubes

 

Method of prep:

-Follow the instructions above on how to assemble. Use a recipe for a regular pie dough instead of my grain free crust.

-Bake @ 450 for 10 minutes and 350 for 45 minutes.

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