Wow! November has been a super crazy month – and it’s not over yet. School has been busy, lots of prepping and work for my practicum in a grade 2 class. It’s been lots of fun too, I taught my class a dance and song for an assembly last week, and this week they are “exploring the world,” learning about different cultures in Canada, including things like what holidays they celebrate, and food they eat. Two things I am familiar with. As an Italian, my culture has a deep, and serious relationship with food.
Even though Canada has already had our Thanksgiving, this week is the American Thanksgiving, or shall I say another excuse for a crazy shopping, consumer-driven holiday. It’s become a little ridiculous, that American Thanksgiving. All I see in my inbox from Amazon is Black Friday Deals, which has now become an entire week of Black Friday deals?? I like that our Thanksgiving is so early, leaving a nice big gap between it and Christmas. However, I do like a good Pumpkin Pie.
I also like a good turkey dinner. I think I’ve convinced Adam’s mom to make a turkey dinner this Thursday to honour the American holiday. Plus, Adam and I get our house in TWO WEEKS!!!!! So it would be nice to have a big family dinner before we move.
I made this Pumpkin Pie, or tart, for our Thanksgiving and though I would share it for a couple of reasons. One, it’s a Paleo Pumpkin Pie. And two, It’s super ridiculously delicious and easy. No pie dough required.
Adam was on a Paleo diet for a while, he wanted to try it out and see how he felt while eliminating beans, wheat and dairy etc. from his diet. He was having two sandwiches a day for lunch, along with cheese, crackers, cereal, milk etc. A lot of dairy and wheat made up the bulk of his diet. He was always good at eating his vegetables too, but thought he would try the Paleo way of eating after talking to a cousin of his, who is also a personal trainer, and a friend who is an avid cross-fit instructor and Paleo enthusiast.
What is Paleo?
“The Paleolithic style of eating is based on the foods that our ancestors used to ingest before the introduction of agriculture (10,000 years ago). The idea is that humans are intended to eat certain foods, and evolution hasn’t caught up to digest or utilize the highly processed foods we see today. The Paleo diet was first suggested by gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin, who claimed that a carnivorous diet, high in fats and proteins and low in carbs, would improve health and prevent digestive problems. Since then, many doctors and nutritionists have jumped on the Paleo bandwagon and offer alternatives to the original plan which can include dairy and starches.” – The Fitnessista
Adam said it was pretty tough, and the first week sucked. He said he had a headache for a bit, from not eating those foods. But, he feels much better now that he tries to avoid those foods. He’s traded honey nut cheerios and milk in the morning for scrambled eggs with veggies and the occasional bacon, and he said it fills him up, and keeps him full longer. Which is a good thing when you work in a trade, and wake up at 5:30 am. I think eggs and veggies is a better alternative to processed cereals and milk for sure.
He did pretty good for a while, but he’s slipped the past month or so. I’ve been bad lately too with my wheat allergy, eating things containing wheat and then paying for it later. So does Adam. He said he can also feel it when he cheats, so we’re both trying to get back to that clean-eating lifestyle. I’ve made so many wheat-free main dishes for dinner, I’ll have to post them soon, because they were all delicious as well. We both are looking forward to the new house, getting into old routines and I’m most looking forward to my brand-spanking new giant kitchen.
I think I’ll need to maybe make this tart again for Thursday. I just baked and pureed my sugar pumpkins on the weekend, so I have lots of homemade Pumpkin Puree hanging around, even after making Butternut Squash and Pumpkin/Carrot soup last night for dinner. Also delicious.
I have always been a Pumpkin Pie lover, but I gotta say I liked the firmness of the pumpkin filing, and I prefer a nut crust over pastry!
This Paleo pumpkin pie is really easy, it’s Dairy-Free, Wheat-Free, and Gluten-Free. A perfect addition to your holiday table, to please all of your special diet-eaters.
Original recipe from here
Paleo Pumpkin Pie
1 1/2 cup nuts (pecan or walnut, or a mix of both)
2 Tbsp. coconut oil or butter
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cups 100% pumpkin (homemade or store bought)
1/2 cup coconut milk (full fat)
1/4 cup raw honey
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1-2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, or All spice, Ginger, Nutmeg and cinnamonDirections
Preheat oven to 350 degrees C.
Melt the coconut oil or butter and mix into the chopped pecans. Press this mixture into a pie dish/tart dish for the crust.
Place dish on top of cookie sheet, and partially bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool
Place pumpkin puree, coconut milk, honey and eggs into food processor. Pulse until combined, and then puree until filling is silky and smooth. Pour into partially baked tart crust, and bake for one hour, or until firm. Middle should be slightly wiggly if you tap it. Set aside to cool, can store at room temperature or in fridge.
Serve with Paleo Whipped Cream
To make dairy-free whipped cream, place a full fat can of Coconut Milk in the fridge 24 hours, overnight. Open can carefully, and scoop out top half of solid coconut milk. Discard the coconut water, or keep for later use. Using a beater, whip hardened coconut milk until fluffy, you can add some vanilla in if you like. Serve with Paleo Pumpkin Tart! Store extra in fridge.
Apparently February is Apple Month. BC Tree Fruits created this event as a way to encourage us to support local growers, orginiating in the Okanagan. The event began back in 1960 and has been celebrated every February since. It is also BC Tree Fruits 75th Anniversary of the Okganagan orginization. I’m lucky to be able to visit the Okanagan every year and vacation in Osoyoos, and have written about my love for local produce and fruit grown in the interior here
Apples are not only delicious, they are healthy. I like to pretend desserts such as Apple Pie are a ‘healthier’ choice, because it contains fruit. Of course eating an apple on it’s own is healthier, and can be just as satisfying.
My personal favourites are Fuji, Honeycrisp, and Royal Gala. I love a crunchy apple, and prefer them straight from the fridge. Of course most often you will find Granny Smith in baking due to their tart taste and hard texture, which become softer and sweet once baked. Perfect in pies and other desserts.
You can celebrate Apple Month by buying local BC Apples from your grocer or local food market.
Also, some tips when it comes to Apples:
- If you can, buy local, and/or organic
- Always wash apples thoroughly before enjoying as many apples are sprayed with pesticides, or peel the skin for baking.
- Store in refrigerator crisper at a low temperature and high humidity. ( From the BC Tree Website)
- As apples emit ethylene, a naturally occuring gas that encourages ripening, keep them in a plastic bag to prevent them from speeding up ripening of other produce items. ( From the BC Tree Website)
- Apples are easier to peel when they’re cold (but keep in mind, most of the fruit’s remarkable nutritional value is found in the skin). ( From the BC Tree Website)
- Wait before washing. Don’t wash your fruit until you’re about to eat it. Washing strips away some of the skin’s natural protection. Soap is not recommended for washing your fruit, just clean running water. Scrub it with your hands or a soft brush ( From the BC Tree Website)
Here are some of my favourite recipes including Apples that I’ve made in the past:
This Rustic Spiced Apple cake is perfect for an afternoon tea. It is dense without being overly sweet and rich. The apple are dusted with cinnamon and placed on top of the dough like a dimply cake. Perfect on its own and is one of my favourites // Recipe Here
This Skillet Apple cake is rich in flavour with a crumb crust. Studded with chopped Apples and topped with Apple slices // Recipe Here
An Italian dessert an Apple Crostata differs from an Apple pie in that it is baked free form, not in a pie dish. There is also the addition of egg as well as lots of sugar in the dough, which makes it denser and richer than pie crust. But just as tender. You can also make smalled individual Crostata’s // Recipe Here
You can’t talk about Apple Desserts without mentioning the most famous one. Traditional Apple Pie. A lightly sweetened cinnamon sugar Apple filling tucked between no-fail flakey buttery crust. Perfect on its own, or à la mode // Recipe for Pie Dough and Filling Here
This past weekend I entered a baking contest! It was the Second Annual Great BC Bake-Off held in Langely, hosted by Well Seasoned. It was a small part of a larger event, the BBQ on the Bypass. It is an all-day barbeque competition. There were free samples of every type of pork BBQ you could think of. It was delicious! I most definitely came home that day smelling of BBQ and smoke.
We were entertained by the wonderful Karen Lee Batten, a country singer from BC who was a finalist on the first season of Canadian Idol. Mom and I even got a picture with her between her show.
I had woken up early Sunday morning to prepare. I had made the tart dough the night before so that I would be ready to go in the morning, without having to wait for it to chill. I rolled out the dough, placed it carefully in my new rectangle tart pan(!), and began making the filling. It was only 8 am, and the kitchen already smelled of browned butter pecans and orange zest. It was wonderful. I even had a small amount left over to make a ‘mini’ tart, so I could taste test it ;) That was breakfast. Adam got up a little after me, I made him taste the tart (hard life!) and then we made our way out to Langley. Entries had to be submitted before noon.
There were about 30 pies in total entered in the contest. There were three categories, Fruit Pie, Open (anything goes), and Butter Tarts (of course). When I went to drop mine off, I did notice a few other Pecan pies/tarts that were also submitted. All of the pies looked very delicious! There were several judges, one of which was Follow Me Foodie.
We made our way around the BBQ tents, tasting what each had to offer. Adam was in BBQ heaven. By the second loop, I was pretty full! Adam’s mom and my mom met us there as well, so each time we took them around to the tents we had another sample. There was also homemade Perogies, and vegetarian Borscht. I can safely say no one was leaving the event hungry.
Adam and I had to stay until the awards ceremony, which said online, and on the entry form, was to be held at 4 pm. We had gone across the street for a little bit to shop, and returned around 3 to wait for the ceremony. As 4 o’clock passed, we began to wonder if it was going to begin soon. After asking an event coordinator, we were told it was actually at 5 pm. So, we sat down for another hour and listened to some more songs by Karen-Lee. If we had known earlier, I may have gone home for a few hours and perhaps done some homework.. but oh well. We also had a family dinner to get to at 5 pm.
However, the wait was worth it! My entry came in Second place! I was secretly hoping I would make some placement, after waiting around all day it would have been a little dissapointing if I did not. But, they did call my name! I came in second place for my Pecan tart! I was awarded a lovely ribbon (my first!) and a $100 gift certificate to the gourmet kitchen store, Well Seasoned. I thought only first place was going to receive a gift cetificate, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was going to be winning one as well! I have already begun thinking about what I may purchase with it..
I had only found out about the contest on the Tuesday before. So, I had to get moving! I made a whole pecan tart the next night, trying out a few new ideas and flavours. Then, the day before I made some mini tarts, using frozen dough just so I could try an idea I had after tweaking the filling recipe. That was it! I believe I had created something quite delicious.. !
me and the organizer Angie, photo from the flickr stream
So, here is my Award Winning recipe! The addition of the orange zest adds a lot of flavour to the filling! After making these brownies a few times before, I also decided to brown the butter instead of melting it in the microwave (because it also keeps exploding when I do that! anyone else have this problem of exploding butter..). I also wanted to do a tart dough with cream cheese, as I’ve heard of it before and thought it would be soft and prevent from an overly-hard crust that could be difficult to cut. I based mine off of this recipe I found.
This will definitely be making an appearance at our thanksgiving table this year :)
Royal Pecan Tart
Made with Crown Royal, Browned Butter Pecans & Orange Zest
Recipe by Bakeaholic
For the Crust
- 1/2 cup chilled cream cheese, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
To make the dough:
- Place the cream cheese, butter, flour and sugar in a food processor. Process until dough starts to form.
- Pour onto a piece of plastic wrap, and shape into a ball.
- Flatten into a disk, and cover tightly with plastic wrap, being sure to seal all edges tightly.
- Refrigerate at least 1 hour, or may be made and refrigerated for one night, or 24 hours in advance.
For the Filling:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Zest from 2 oranges
- 1 cups chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- Just under 1/2 cup golden corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons organic blue agave syrup
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons Crown Royal Liquor
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Roll out tart dough to ¼ inch thickness on slightly floured countertop.
I roll the dough over top of the rolling pin, and then unroll it over top of the pan. If using a round tart dish or pie plate, you would roll it in more of a circle, then fold it in half and then in a quarter, and place point in middle of pan and unfold.
Place over lightly buttered pan, and press down on sides and bottom lightly.
- Discard extra dough.
- Melt butter in a small pot over medium heat; cook two minutes, whisking until butter browns. Stir in pecans and cook a couple more minutes, continue stirring. Remove pan from heat.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs. Add orange zest, brown sugar, corn syrup, agave, Crown Royal and vanilla until well combined. Stir in pecans.
- Pour filling onto crust ¾ way full. Bake 20-25 minutes or until dough is golden brown and filling is set. Cool completely on wire rack. Best if served same day. Can be stored for 1-2 days.
Have you ever entered any baking or cooking contests!?
You can also make it in a round tart pan!