I feel like I'd be breaking some sort of unwritten food blogger rule if I didn't post an obligatory pumpkin recipe for Halloween. 😅 Soooo... here goes - my recipe for pumpkin twists.🎃 Just a warning though - this recipe might be more of a trick than a treat. 😳
The concept of a pumpkin twist is really simple. Stir together a simple pumpkin filling, spread it over a sheet of puff pastry, roll it up and bake it. The execution of my pumpkin twist proved to be really difficult though. The problem was in the baking. I just couldn't get the pastry dough baked to the point of light and flaky. The outside was golden and beautiful but the center was much too soft, undercooked and dare I say - mushy. 😬 (gasp)
My tip for you is that if you're going to make this pumpkin twist - bake it longer - a LOT longer than I did. I baked mine for 30 minutes at 400. When I make this again - and I WILL make this again - I'll try baking it for at least 45 minutes at 375.
1 large egg
2 teaspoons water
4 sheets puff pastry
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Shape the pastry into a circle by pulling the two ends together. Place on silpat lined baking sheets, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake 30-35 minutes at 400.
Whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract. Drizzle over warm baked twists.
Just trying to keep it real on the blog today. Not every one of my recipes turns out to be a winner. Some of them are complete failures and some of them just need a little bit of revision - like this one. Normally, I try and do all of my recipe testing before I share it on the blog but in this case, I don't want you to miss out an opportunity to make this for Halloween. I really think that this would be a great addition to any Fall party - as long as you bake it properly. 😉
I wanted to learn how to make authentic Greek food so... I signed up for a cooking class - in Greece. 🤣 A cooking lesson, taught by a Greek chef in a traditional cave house - it doesn't get more authentic than that.
As students in the class, we learned how to make tzatziki, greek salad, moussaka, tomato fritters, sautéed shrimp and... we got to EAT it all! 🍆🍅🥒🦐 I learn so much more from watching chefs cook in their natural environment than I do from just reading through recipes in books and magazines. I came home with all kinds of great tips and tricks from our cooking class in Santorini. 👩🏻🍳
The Greeks love to incorporate fresh vegetables into their cooking so, naturally I was drawn to their style of cooking, immediately. I knew when I was greeted at cooking class by a beautiful bowl of fresh vegetables and herbs, that it was going to be a good experience.
The amazing food that we sampled in Greece was not limited to the food that we prepared ourselves in cooking class either. This was a dish that I ordered for lunch one afternoon in Plaka - couscous with vegetables. The big, bulbous couscous is called Israeli or pearl couscous. If you haven't tried it yet - you don't know what you're missing. It's delicious.
I learned in Greece how to pair the delicious Israeli couscous with fresh vegetables (like fennel) to create flavorful dishes like Fall Couscous Salad.
Fall Couscous Salad
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 red onion, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
1 fennel bulb, sliced
1 pound brussels sprouts, halved
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 + 1 Tablespoon cup olive oil
1 cup pearl couscous
2 teaspoons honey
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
This is my kind of lunch. Good thing I made enough of this to last me for the entire week.
If there was a theme for our most recent trip, it would be ... wrong shoes for the wrong activity.👟😂 I literally wore the wrong shoes - every single day, for every occasion, on our trip through Greece. I hiked rocky, mountain trails in strappy sandals, strolled sandy beaches in wedge heels and tackled a strenuous 12 mile hike in a pair of very unsupportive, slip on sneakers. 🤣🤦🏻♀️
And contrary to what you're probably thinking, I didn't chose my shoes based on smart fashion choices either. (I'm pretty sure I don't even own any fashionable shoes.)😂 Every morning, I got out of bed and put on the footwear that was most appropriate for the activities that we had scheduled, and headed out for the day. What I couldn't plan for were the impromptu hikes, watery adventures and random donkey rides that we encountered along the way. 🤣
Determined not to let my wildly inappropriate footwear stop me from enjoying any of the Santorini adventures - I slipped by bare feet into my 10.00 shoelace-less sneakers and hiked this beautiful mountain ridge. By the time we did this hike - both ways - we had walked 12 miles and climbed the equivalent of 199 flights of stairs. 😬🏔 It was a lot of walking but totally worth it. The views from this trail were absolutely breathtaking. 🚶🏻♀️
I may not have had the right shoes for this hike but I don't want you to think that I was completely unprepared. I did manage to pack water, granola bars, sunscreen and extra camera batteries in my backpack. I think my hiking priorities are a little out of sorts. 🤣 🥾 Snacks are important though. 😅
Granola bars are my go-to, quick energy snack on a hike when I start to get those hangry feelings.🤤 Store bought granola bars are good but chocolate filled, homemade, oat based bars are even better. The kind that blurs the line between a sweet, gooey cookie bar and a healthy, protein rich energy bar. 😅 I'll let you decided where these Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars fall on the granola bar spectrum.
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars
1 cup flour
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons rolled oats
2 teaspoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup + ⅓ cup chocolate chips
Fold in chocolate chips. Spread into an 8" square baking pan fitted with a greased parchment sling.
Bake 20 - 25 minutes at 350.
Cool completely. Slice into 16 squares.
I read through a lot of recipes and most have straightforward instructions that are easy to follow. Then there are those recipes that are so complex or delicate that the only possible way that I would understand it, is if it's depicted in pictures or with an accompanying video. Maybe it's just because I understand pictures better than words but, tackling a lattice topped blueberry pie is much easier for me when there are step by step picture instructions. 😂 🥧
My baked apple roses also fall in the category of a recipe that's best seen in picture form. I'm not denying that I could use some improvement on my recipe writing skills but I'm hoping that my photography skills will make up for the lack of detail in my recipe. These beautiful apples aren't difficult to make but take it from me - it's way easier to understand how to assemble the delicate fruit flowers when you read through the recipe and look through the pictures.
Baked Apple Roses
2 medium apples
1 puff pastry sheet
3 Tbsp apricot preserves
2 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Bake 25-35 minutes at 375.
Dust with powdered sugar. Just a heads up - this recipe only makes 6 apple roses. Double or triple the recipe if you need more. 🍎
Just like my baked apple rose recipe, I think my pictures from my trip to Athens will tell the story better than any words that I could write. So on that note ... enjoy.
It's hard for me to believe that less than a week ago that I was walking the streets of Greece.🇬🇷 More like hiking the mountains in Greece. 🏔🤣 I don't know why it feels like such a distant memory -- I'm still falling asleep on the couch before 7:00 every night. ✈️😴😅 #jetlagisnojoke
I had a lot of great meals in Greece but there were 2 that stood out as exceptional. A masterfully prepared Grilled Octopus in Santorini and in Athens, I had a Risotto with Shrimps that I ate until I was so full, I couldn't take another bite. 🐙🦐 (Yes, Greeks use shrimps as the plural version of the word.) They were so good that I'm still thinking about how delicious those meals were. The only problems is that my favorite Greek culinary creations are available exclusively at restaurants 6000 miles away from my house. 😩
My only option is to try and recreate the memorable restaurant meals at home, which is always a little risky. Even if I do manage to get my hands on the ingredients and adjust the flavors and seasonings just right - it's won't taste the same if I'm not dining al fresco at a table looking out over the crystal blue Agean Sea. 😅 It's probably better that I just make MY version of Shrimp Risotto. A meal served at my kitchen table with "seasonal" lake views and loosely based on the meal that I enjoyed so much in Greece. 😂
Creating a complex flavor profile in risotto is easy. Vegetables, spices, even fruits can all be incorporated to make a tasty risotto. Finding the right combination of those things is infinitely more difficult. Starting with a risotto flavor packed seemed like a better way to start the process of trying to recreate the shrimp and risotto meal that I remembered. I used a mushroom risotto pack from World Market.
3-4 cups chicken broth
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound shrimp (uncooked, peeled & deveined )
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, finely chopped
salt and pepper
3 green onions, thinly sliced
Chop shrimp into pieces and stir into cooked risotto.
Garnish risotto with green onions.
Ending the blog today with a few pictures of some of our favorite restaurants in Greece.
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