Fall Harvest!

It’s the best tasting time of the year! The weather is perfect and the trees are beautiful, but my favorite thing about fall is the flavors! Everything is bursting with pumpkin and cinnamon and apple and it’s just the best! As I’m gathering recipes for this season, I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes from last fall! I can’t wait to try even more fall flavors this year!

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins

Caramel Apple Cookie Tartlets

Pumpkin Cookies

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Apple Apple Pie

 

What fall recipes are you trying this year?!

 

 

Pumpkin Cookies

It’s funny how often accidents lead to great things. A few weeks ago, I forgot to eat the lunch that I brought with me on Thursday. The next Friday, I didn’t bring a bag to work with my lunch in it (since my lunch was already in the fridge at work). So afterwork on Friday, I ended up with a couple empty Tupperwares but nothing to carry them home in. It also just so happend that my boyfriend was meeting me after work to meet up with some friends for dinner, so I asked him to bring a sack for me to carry my Tupperware in. 

He forgot.

Not feeling like carrying my empty containers into a nice restaurant, the only solution was to buy something from the closest store so I had a bag to carry them in. That store was Crate & Barrel. The cheapest thing we could find there was a darling set of pumpkin cookie cutters. 

I didn’t have to have those pumpkin cookie cutters for long before deciding that I obviously had to make pumpkin cookies — both pumpkin shaped and flavored. The recipe I sought was just a few clicks away. I opted for the first one I stumbled upon to be honest with you, which was this one.  This was my first time ever trying pumpkin cookies, but I knew before even trying them that they needed cream cheese frosting. So that’s exactly what I did. Check it.

Pumpkin Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest (I didn’t actually use this, but I’m sure it’d be great if you did!)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of salt  
1 jar cream cheese frosting
food coloring, sprinkles or other decorating supplies 

In a medium bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar and orange zest (which I did not use).

Stir in the pumpkin.

Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. If you don’t have an actual sifter (the name of which I don’t even know), you can use a whisk to make the flour and spices nice and airy — works like a charm. 

Stir into the pumpkin mixture. I can usually use my hand-held mixer for about half of the flour mixture, and then I start to stir by hand with a spatula. 

Chill the dough for 30 minutes. Since the dough is easiest to work with while it’s cold, I like to separate it into two parts. That way, I can work with one part while it’s cold, and then switch it out for the other section as it warms up. Wrap each section with wax paper and pop it in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes (which are pumpkins — duh!).

Place onto an unprepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove immediately and let cool on a cooling rack.

Decorate! My favorite part … even if I did have to spend an hour and a half and go to five stores before I found orange sprinkles. 

Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake

I’m not exactly sure on the authenticity or legality of the cookbook I bought last year that features recipes from some of the country’s most popular restaurants, but I do know that it was one of the best $5 I ever spent. The cookbook, accurately called America’s Most Wanted Recipes, has over 200 recipes from some of my favorite restaurants including Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay biscuits, Olive Garden’s salad dressing, Panda Express’ Orange Chicken and a whole lineup of Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes, including today’s feature: Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake. 

As a little girl, I hated cheese cake. I couldn’t get over the idea of dessert being composed of cheese, let alone being topped with sour cream — which my mom’s famous cheesecake was. It wasn’t until I was in sixth grade, when I was forced to make Swiss Cheese Cheesecake for  a school project, that I was finally a believer. My sophomore year, I made a German Chocolate Cheesecake for our German Class’ Oktoberfest, and I was officially in love. 

I went to Cheesecake Factory last weekend and had a glass of red sangria, spicy chicken nachos and Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheesecake for dessert. As soon as I came home, I knew I had to bust out my Most Wanted cookbook to see if I could find my new favorite cheesecake in there. I couldn’t — but I did find something even better: Pumpkin Cheesecake. After an epic October 1, I knew that Pumpkin Cheesecake was just what I needed. So I headed to Treasure Island, the only true grocery store that I can find nearby, grabbed the few ingredients that I didn’t already have and got to work. Check it out.

Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice*
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. 

To make the crust, mix** the ingredients until crumbly, not pasty. Pat into a 9-inch springform pan, forming the crust along the bottom and up the sides. set aside. 

To make the filling, in a mixer, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until smooth.

Add the pumpkin puree and the spices and blend.

Add the eggs one at a time and blend again until mixed.

Pour into the pan over the crust. 

Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until the center is almost set.

Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for an additional 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate for several hours, until the cheesecake cools completely and firms.

To serve, run a knife or metal spatula around the sides of the pan to lossen the cake, and remove the pan.

* When I went to buy pumpkin pie spice, I noticed that it was $6.19! Which I was simply not going to spend. I already had cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg at home, and I was convinced to make that work. Check out this recipe for homemade pumpkin pie spice. I didn’t have the ginger, so I just used what I did have and it turned out great.

**I’m really big on using plastic bags instead of mixing bowls on things like this. I dumped all the crust ingredients in a gallon size, Ziploc bag, left in a little air, sealed it and shook it up until everything was combined. I think it’s easier and requires no clean up.