a little tricky

Pumpkin Orange Mascarpone Pie


This decadent twist on traditional pumpkin pie is quite possibly my favorite holiday indulgence. 

I have been making this pie for holidays for about 5 years now, and its been an absolute smash with my family.  Since I've moved to California, I've brought it to friends' holiday dinners, and it's received rave reviews there, too.  Loaded with yumminess, it is certainly packed with calories, but it will make you smile, so it's a recipe for a a smiley, happy experience! It's the holidays, people - everything in moderation. Taste the happieness!

Tools needed: 
9-10" pie plate, food processor
1 hour, 20 minutes
Pumpkin Orange Mascarpone Pie
2 cups finely crushed gingersnap crumbs (pulse in food processor)
6 tbs unsalted butter, melted
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz.)
1 tsp orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In the pie plate, stir together gingersnap crumbs with melted butter and press into pie crust with a spoon.  Bake until set, about 6 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Increase oven heat to 350 degrees.
  4.  Beat cream cheese, mascarpone, and 2/3 cup sugar in a large bowl until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each egg.  Add pumpkin, orange liqueur, citrus zests, spices, and salt.  Mix until smooth.
  5. Pour filling into crust and bake until edgees are firm but center still jiggles a bit, about 45-50 minutes.  Bake any extra filling in ramekins or a muffin tins.
  6. Cool to room temperature, then chill at least 6 hours, and up to overnight.
  7. Enjoy!



This amazing vegetarian enchilada recipe is courtesy of my friend, Charlene, who was kind enough to share her grandmother's meatless version of a classic Mexican dish.  What a great way to do enchiladas without having to use a soy meat substitute or overloading them with gobs of cheese filling.  I've, of course adapted them a bit to reflect my taste, so adapt away, and enjoy your version!

Tools needed: 
9 X 13 baking pan, large pot,
1.25 hours
One large can of favorite enchilada sauce (I like Trader Joe's, which comes in a bottle)
6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (rice or soy cheese works for dairy-free)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 dozen 6" corn tortillas
1 can pitted black olives, chopped (leave eight slices to decorate the top)
olive oil, enough to fry tortillas
1 medium (mild) pasilla pepper, deseeded and chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Open can of enchilada sauce (I like Trader Joe's) and empty into large post to simmer while you are putting the enchiladas together.  Sauce will thicken a bit.
  3. Put chopped eggs, onions, olives and 1 1/2 cups of cheese into a large bowl and mix all ingredients together, set aside.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil until hot.  Fry corn tortillas, one at a time until slightly crisp, remove and set on paper towels to absorb excess oil. 
  5. Carefully take fried corn tortillas and one at a time dip into hot enchilada sauce. (I found myself in need of assistance here!)
  6. Place dipped enchilada into dish and stuff with prepared filling, rolling the tortilla around the filling.  Continue until all tortillas are dipped and stuffed. 
  7. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over all enchiladas, sprinkle with remaining cheese, dot with remaining sliced olives and and bake for 45 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
  8. Allow enchiladas to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
  9. Serve with Girlbert's Guacamole and Black Bean and Corn Southwestern Salad
makes 12 enchiladas

Chocolate Pecan Bars


Gooey, yummy, chocolatey deliciousness!  Earned rave reviews at a recent potluck party.  I am not recommending these as having any health benefits, other than they'll make you smile!

Tools needed: 
9 X 12 baking dish or pan
1.25 hours
Pecan Bars
1 1/2 cups flour (gluten-free for a gluten-free dessert)
1/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup corn starch
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup honey
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

To make crust:

  1. Combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and cor starch in a large bowl.
  2. Cut in butter until crumbly.
  3. Press into greased baking pan.
  4. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minute until edges are lightly browned.

To make filling:

  1. Stir together honey, remaining sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla in a large bowl until blended.
  2. Add pecans and chocolate chips.
  3. Pour over crust and bake an additional 35 minutes until filling is firm and slightly softer in the center.

Cool completely, about 2 hours, before cutting into bars.


Brown Butter Raspberry Tart


My Denver friend Kirsten always brings amazing dishes to dinner parties and potlucks, and a lunch with friends this week was no exception.  This recipe is pretty tricky, but well worth the effort - DELICIOUS.

Tools needed: 
9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom, rimmed baking sheet, whisk, medium bowls
1.5 hours
Raspberry Tart
For crust:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tsp all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
For filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
12 oz. fresh raspberries
1 stick unsalted butter, diced
1 tsp vanilla extract

For crust:Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Using rubber spatula or fork, mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Using fingertips, press dough evenly onto sides and bottom of pan.Bake crust until golden, about 18 minutes (crust will puff slightly while baking). Transfer crust to rack and cool in pan. Maintain oven temperature.For filling:Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla; whisk until smooth. Cook butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until deep nutty brown (do not burn), stirring often, about 6 minutes. Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.Arrange raspberries, pointed side up and close together in concentric circles, in bottom of cooled crust. Carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over berries. Place tart on rimmed baking sheet. Bake tart until filling is puffed and golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool tart completely in pan on rack. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.Remove tart pan sides. Place tart on platter. Cut into wedges and serve. 


Rolled Eggplant with Capellini Pasta


I tasted this dish at the fabulous Trattoria Grappolo in Santa Ynez.  Before I was aware that they had a cookbook, I emailed the chef for the recipe, and he emailed it back to me within hours.  The first time I made it, I experimented on some friends, but luckily it turned out perfectly delicious, and we ate every last bite!

Tools needed: 
casserole pan
1 hour
Rolled Eggplant with Capellini Pasta
2 large, elongated eggplant
2 cups olive oil for frying
2 cups flour, for dusting eggplant
12 slices smoked mozzerella cheese
1 cup tomato sauce or favorite red pasta sauce, heated, for drizzling over rolls prior to serving
1/2 pound of capellini pasta
1 cup tomato sauce or favorite red pasta sauce
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
4 fresh basil leaves
Pinch of salt, pepper and dried oregano
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, add all the filling ingredients and mix well.  Meanwhile, cook the capellini according to package directions and drain.  Add capellini to the filling, mix well.
  3. Thinly slice the eggplant about 1/8-inch thick.  Dust each slice in flour and fry in olive oil until golden-brown.  Drain on pan using paper towels.  Line the slices of eggplant vertically and place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each eggplant slice.  Roll each eggplant slice and place in a baking dish.  Top with slices of mozzarella.
  4. Bake for about 10 minutes or until cheese is golden brown on top.  Serve 3 per person (for starters!), drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of warmed tomato or pasta sauce over top before serving.

NOTE:  I halved the filling mixture from the actual, "Grappolo-version" of this recipe, because we always had way too much filling left over.

Trattoria Grappolo
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