Pumpkin Praline Bread Pudding

As pumpkin season comes to an end and we enter December with all things cinnamon and spice, I couldn’t help but think of this divine pumpkin praline bread pudding I made a few weeks back. This dessert is the epitome of decadence, filling you with warmth and happiness. It is very simple to make, but will easily impress anyone who eats it. I love when I discover those “winner” recipes, the ones that you know you’ll keep up your sleeve for years to come. This is one of them. Make it, you won’t regret it!

Ingredients

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

  • 1 pound loaf day old French bread, torn into small pieces
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 15-ounce can Pumpkin Puree
  • 1-1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 3 tablespoon Melted Butter
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice * (homemade or store-bought)

Praline Sauce

  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Toasted Pecans

Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and place torn pieces of bread in the dish.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, half and half, pumpkin, sugar, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice.
  • Slowly pour the batter over the bread pieces in the baking dish. Be sure to cover all the bread pieces.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for about 1 hour.
  • While the bread pudding is baking, make the praline sauce. In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the butter, heavy cream, and brown sugar; bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low, and stir pecans into the cream mixture. Simmer until the sauce thickens, for about 5 minutes.
  • Pour over bread pudding to serve.
  • Serve with vanilla ice cream for extra deliciousness!

Salted Whiskey Caramel Corn

Caramel corn and Halloween go hand in hand, and in search for the perfect treat I stumbled upon this incredible recipe that needless to say was an absolute winner. It is irresistible…you can hardly control yourself from grabbing more handfuls of this delicious caramel corn until you feel you’re in a complete sugar coma. What makes this so much better is the contrast of salty and sweet, roasted pecans, and the light whiskey notes. I shared with my friends and family, and plan to make mason jars of the stuff for the holidays. Happy Halloween!

Ingredients

  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • ¾ cup (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • ¾ teaspoon flaky sea salt (Maldon is a good one)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons Irish whiskey (Jameson is what we used)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions for Stovetop Popcorn

How to Make Stovetop Popcorn

  1. Use a good, heavy-bottomed pot. Cheap pots don’t distribute heat evenly, and you can end up with hot spots that burn the popcorn.
  2. Don’t crank the heat up too high. It’s too easy to burn oil at temperature higher than medium heat, and if you catch even a whiff of smoke coming from the pot, your popcorn is going to taste burnt.
  3. Add the vegetable oil to the pot. Start with two popcorn kernels to gauge the temperature.Once those pop, your oil is hot enough. Add the remaining kernels and remove the pot from the heat for 1 minute. This primes the popcorn to pop without burning the oil.
  4. Tip the lid ever-so-slightly while the popcorn is popping.That way, the popcorn doesn’t steam itself in the pot and lose crispness.
  5. If the popcorn starts overflowing the pot: Simply remove the lid and tip the excess popcorn into a bowl. Return the lid and return the popcorn to the heat until popping slows.

Instructions for the Caramel Corn

  • Dump popped corn into a large, heat-resistant bowl, add the pecans, and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a 3-quart heavy-bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter over medium to medium-high heat.
  • Add to it the brown sugar, corn syrup, and sea salt and stir until it starts to boil.
  • Boil for 4-5 minutes without stirring. If the caramel isn’t dark enough after the time has elapsed, you can cook it longer, but watch it carefully; it will go from perfect to burned in no time if you’re not paying attention.
  • Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract, whiskey, and baking soda. It will bubble up, so be careful not to get burned.
  • Stir until smooth, then quickly pour over the popcorn and pecans.
  • Toss the popcorn and pecans to coat evenly, then spread half in an even layer in one prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the other.
  • Bake for about 30-45 minutes, or until it has reached desired dryness. Every 15 minutes, rotate pans and toss the popcorn a bit, breaking up any big pieces.
  • Store in air-tight containers for up to 3 days.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Turnovers

This is the first night it’s truly felt like autumn to me, there’s a nice cool front and its breezy. The whole day has been gloomy, like those spooky October days that I love. I have the windows open and hear the rustling of the leaves blowing….and it is absolutely perfect. This dessert is just what I needed for an easy fall dessert. It was unbelievably easy to make and will most definitely be gobbled up by all. Best served warm! Happy Hallo-week!

Ingredients

  • Pillsbury Crescents (2 cans)
  • 1 can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 14 oz of cream cheese (divided)
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (divided)

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 14 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 tbsp milk

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Melt cream cheese in microwave or on stove until warm and no longer clumpy. Use a mixer to combine 1 egg, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 8 oz. of cream cheese. Mix until well combined. Reserve mixture in bowl.
  • In another bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, 1/4 cup of sugar, and the pumpkin pie spice.
  • Get each perforated crescent rolland fill the dough with a spoonful of pumpkin mixture and a spoonful of cream cheese mixture, this is not an exact measurement. Fold the edges of the dough until mixture is covered and not visible.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Allow them to cool a bit before drizzling with glaze. To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk until blended together. You can add more or less milk to create desired consistancey.

Sausage, Spinach, & Butternut Squash Soup

I’m a fan of all things with butternut squash. It is such “buttery” and “nutty” autumn vegetable. The name truly does describe its flavor profile. It can be used in so many different ways, and I love it about just as much as I love pumpkin when the seasons change from summer to fall. When I found this recipe, It seemed absolutely perfect for an easy weeknight dinner, on an evening where the weather may be a bit chillier. I made this when I was hoping for cooler weather, since south Texas has decided to boycott fall and every day has been 90°. Here’s to hoping for cool days and warm and soulful meals in the coming months *fingers crossed*. As for this dish, it’s great no matter the weather and truly may have ranked itself as one of the best soups I’ve ever made!

Ingredients

  • 1# spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups butternut squash peeled and cut in ½ in. cubes (can use store-bought pre-cut in bag)
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • 14 oz cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmigiano reggiano optional garnish *but highly recommended

Instructions

  • Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat and coat with a bit of olive oil. Add raw sausage to pot.
  • Brown sausage for 7-8 minutes using a potato masher or wooden spoon to break into bite-sized pieces.
  • Add garlic, diced onion and red pepper to pan (as well as a pinch of salt and pepper) and cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes.
  • When sausage is nicely browned, add broth to pan using a wooden spoon to scrape up all of the delicious brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Raise heat to high then bring soup to a boil. Add butternut squash cubes and cook for 15-20 minutes or until softened.
  • Five minutes before serving, add spinach and beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano if you wish.

Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes

This was absolutely the most fall breakfast I’ve ever had! It was everything I could have hoped for, fluffy, moist, full of spice, and perfectly pumpkin-y! This recipe was so easy and tasty, it honestly may be my favorite pancake recipe I’ve ever tasted. This would be great for entertaining friends and family for a brunch, feeding out-of-town guests during the holidays, and even as an annual fall tradition to make for the kids. I plan to make this again and again considering how much I LOVE THEM! Serve with warm butter, pecans, and your favorite syrup (my sister-in-law, Morgan, gifted us with delicious Bourbon Barrel Aged maple syrup and it was heavenly with these). Happy October!

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 ⅓ cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Instructions

  • Combine buttermilk, pumpkin puree, oil, eggs and vanilla in a bowl.
  • Mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl.
  • Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients. Mix just until combined.  Allow to rest about 10 minutes.
  • Preheat a skillet or griddle to medium heat. Grease with butter or oil. Pour ¼ cup batter per pancake and gently spread with the back of a spatula.
  • Cook until lightly browned and the bubbles on top begin to pop. Flip and continue to cook until done. About 4 minutes per side.

Seared Mahi Mahi with Avocado and Red Pepper

This is such a healthy and easy weeknight meal and can also impress your dinner guests! It’s unbelievably fresh and flavorful and can be made in less than 30 minutes, served hot on the table! I’ve made this recipe twice now and it has easily become one of my favorite Mahi Mahi recipes that I will make again and again. The red bell can be changed to different bell peppers if you want different colors!

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 cup minced red onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • Mahi Mahi– marinade for 30 mins
  • 4 Mahi Mahi portions, approx 6 oz each
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a saute pan. Add sliced red pepper and minced red onion to saute until tender.
  • Toss avocado chunks in lime juice, cilantro, and salt. Set aside.
  • Pan sear the mahi mahi. Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet or nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the mahi mahi and sear undisturbed until well browned on the bottom and the sides are cooked just past halfway up the fillets, about 4 minutes. Flip the fillets and continue to sear until just cooked through and the flesh flakes easily, 2 to 4 minutes more depending on the thickness of the fillets.
  • On a serving plate, place your seared Mahi Mahi fillets, top with the avocado lime mixture, and then finish topping with the sautéed red peppers and onions.
  • Enjoy!

Chocolate Mousse with Berries

This is such an easy recipe and can be modified for any occasion. I made this recipe up when I was looking to take a mousse to a family dinner. It was a crowd pleaser to the MAX! It’s almost embarrassing to admit how easy it is and definitely “semi-homemade”. Enjoy this anytime for a delicious chocolate treat!

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Start to beat pudding mix and heavy whipping cream in electric mixer
  • Add in 3-4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa until mousse consistency, about 2 minutes
  • Scoop out mousse mixture into serving bowl, and decorate with assorted berries.
  • Serve cold!

Watermelon Basil Margarita

Watermelon is the epitome of SUMMER! I just love watermelon and making cocktails with it. This recipe is perfect for a summer bbq, you can make a pitcher of it to please all your guests! The flavor of the basil adds just the right amount of herbal flavor to this sweet drink. I have found a new favorite! But be careful… it’s a strong one!

Ingredients (1 serving)

  • 3/4 cup watermelon pieces (cubed)
  • 8 leaves fresh basil
  • 3 ounce silver tequila
  • 1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar
  • 3 tbsp triple sec
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Twang-A-Rita Sunrise Spice for the rim

Instructions

  • In a cocktail shaker, add watermelon, basil and a few pieces of ice.  Muddle until watermelon is well juiced and basil is torn.
  • Add agave, triple sec, and lime juice and fill with ice.  Cover and shake vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Rub the edge of the glass with a fresh lime wedge or lightly dip the glass in fresh lime juice.  Dip in chile spice mixture and move glass around to fully coat.
  • Double strain using the cocktail tea strainer into the freshly rimmed glass.  Finish with fresh ice.

Southern Peach Cobbler

It’s peach season in the Texas hill country! I absolutely love fresh peaches and can enjoy them in just about any way. These sweet, juicy, full of nectar little beauties go well in cocktails (like my Hill Country Peach Spritzer I did last season), for pies and cobblers, on top of pancakes and waffles, jams & preserves, accompanied on a charcuterie board for a nice cheese pairing, or just eaten fresh! I am a huge fan of cobblers and pies, as I feel they are such a staple in the south. I grew up on peach cobbler, and wanted to make it for a family BBQ recently. This recipe is easy and is as authentic and comforting as it gets! Enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or some whipped cream for the perfect summer (or anytime) dessert!

Ingredients

Peach Filling

  • 8 medium-size fresh peaches peeled and sliced into thin wedges or bite size chunks
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Crust Topping

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 tablespoons butter chilled and grated (use cheese grater)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

Cinnamon Sugar Topping Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a large baking sheet covered in foil on the lowest rack in the oven. This cobbler overflows a bit almost every time I make it. The baking pan will catch the drips and prevent a mess in the oven.
  • In a large bowl, combine the peaches and the lemon juice and then add the rest of the filling ingredients. Stir to coat and then pour into a 9×13 baking dish.
  • Bake the peach mixture in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. While the peaches are baking, combine the  dry topping ingredients and whisk to combine. Toss the grated butter in the flour mixture. Stir in the boiling water, just until combined, leaving plenty of little lumps of butter.
  • Remove the peaches from the oven and drop the topping over them in spoonfuls. Sprinkle the cobbler topping with the cinnamon sugar topping. Bake until the crust is golden and a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Serve warm. Enjoy!
  • FREEZER DIRECTIONS: The peach filling can be prepared and frozen in advance. I have frozen it for up to a year without any problems. Combine the peach filling ingredients in a large ziploc bag, press the air out and freeze flat. When you are ready to bake the cobbler, thaw in the refrigerator and then pour into the baking dish and proceed with the recipe.

Grilled Queso Panela With Shrimp and Roasted Tomatillo and Poblano Salsa

I received Tomatillo y Poblano salsa from the Bernard family and needless to say that the entire jar is GONE! It goes well with so many things… the flavor is full and the heat is medium, just right. When I was thinking “outside the jar”, I wanted to make something unique with a flavor profile that reminded me of summer. Shrimp and queso panela were the perfect combo for this simple dish with an impressive presentation. You can make this for a night at home to share, accompanied with fresh warm corn tortillas, or for company to really WOW your crowd. Alternatively, this can be made using homemade tomatillo salsa, however, Bernard’s salsa is absolutely deliciously and I highly recommend checking out their website!

Ingredients (for 2 servings)

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 12 ounces queso panela, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 6-8 extra large brown gulf shrimp
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-6 tablespoons Tomatillo y Poblano Salsa
  • Corn tortillas, for serving

Instructions

  • Light one bbq pit full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes.  Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill cheese slices until browned on both sides, 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from grill. *alternatively can be grilled on a well oiled cast iron grill.
  • Toss shrimp in 1 tbsp salsa and 1 tbsp olive oil. In sauté pan, or on your bbq pit, cook shrimp until pink on both sides. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Spread a layer of salsa on the bottom of a shallow dish or plate. Nestle cheese in salsa. Add the cooked shrimp on top of cheese. Spoon salsa and cilantro on top and serve immediately with warm tortillas.