Thursday, November 19, 2015

Low-carb (and sugar-free!) Pumpkin Pie

As we are a week out from Thanksgiving this year, I feel like it's the perfect time to share this recipe: a low-carb, sugar free pumpkin pie!

This year I was asked to make pies for a wedding. It's not the first time I've catered for a wedding, or the first time I've made masses amounts of pie. It was, however, the first time I'd been asked to make sugar-free pies.

Before I committed to making sugar-free pies for the diabetic groom and his family, I had to make sure I could make them. So I set out experimenting and trying different recipes. Of all of them, the pumpkin pie was my favorite. I'm a huge fan of full fatness and full sugar in my desserts. But if you can't have that, or don't want that, this pie is an excellent substitute for the real thing.

Oh, one more note. I used a regular lard pie crust, as the engaged couple said they'd prefer that. Of course, that adds a lot of your carbs back in. So you can either not eat the crust, find a low-carb crust, or just not worry about it. :) The rest of the pie is good for you.

2 C pumpkin puree (or one 15 oz. can)
2 eggs
3/4 C sucralose (such as Spenda)
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/4 ground cloves
1 1/2 C heavy cream
1 unbaked pie crust

Roll out the pie dough and line the pie plate. Crimp the edges.

I'm a huge fan of fresh pumpkin and use it exclusively in my pies. So here's instructions for that, if you're interested.

Cut your pie pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds. Place both halves in a microwaveable bowl, add about 1/4 C water, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for about 15 minutes. Let it cool. The skin will peel right away from the pumpkin flesh, leaving you beautiful fresh pumpkin ready to be pureed.

Puree it. Don't just smash it or you'll have strings. I use an immersion blender (wonderful tool). A food processor would work too.

If desired, measure out two cups worth. Some pie pumpkins will yield exactly that; others a little less, others a little more. In my opinion, it doesn't have to be exact, just close. 

Now, beat in your eggs. You want to beat this so your eggs get fully blended and no one ends up with a chuck of egg white in their bite.

Add the spices.

And finally, your heavy cream.

Pour the pumpkin pie filling into the prepared crust and bake in a 425 degree F oven for 15 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350 and bake another 40-45 minutes.

A word of caution: You don't want to overbake a pumpkin pie. Or cool it down too quickly. Both of those things make your pie more prone to cracking as it cools. The pie will STILL JIGGLE IN THE MIDDLE when it's done. Turn your oven off, pop open the door, and let the pie finish cooling--and cooking--inside the oven.

Then, if you still get cracks, accept the fact that pumpkin pie is tricky that way. And keep whipping cream on hand to cover it up. Besides, a few cracks never hurt anything.

Since I do use fresh pumpkin and especially because there's no sugar (which acts as a preservative), I recommend refrigerating this pie. But wait until it has fully cooled.

Isn't it beautiful?


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Cheddar-orange Rolls

(Note: I don't know why this post is centered. I've edited it back to left justification three times, and it just goes back to centered. So, it is what it is.)

I love sweet rolls. Who doesn't? I first fell in love with them when I discovered Cinnabon in the airport as a teenager. My goal after that was to create a cinnamon roll that was EVEN BETTER. Why not? It's just a matter of trial and error to create the right taste.

I do believe I have succeeded. But in order to keep these cinnamon rolls extra special, I only make them twice a year.

That's not the recipe I'm sharing, though it is amazing. 

Why bring it up, you ask? For two reasons: 1) Because I now make this recipe twice a year with my cinnamon rolls and 2) the dough is the same dough! so you can modify this recipe to make cinnamon rolls too.

But there's a story to these recipe, also. When I was in the eighth grade, I stayed the night with a friend whose mom worked at a hotel. In the morning, she brought us home rolls from the hotel. They were some kind of orange cheese sweet roll, and they were divine. I consumed way too many.

Fast forward twenty years, and I've searched high and low for that recipe. There are tons of cheese roll recipes out there. Even more orange rolls. But no CHEESE ORANGE ROLLS. So I created this. It's mine, all mine. And I like it even more than the cinnamon roll recipe, but that's just me! After you've tried it (and loved it), feel free to change it and make it yours, all yours!

dough: 2 1/2 C warm water
2 T yeast
1/2 C oil
2 t salt
1 C sugar
6-8 C flour

1 C sugar
1/2 C butter
2 oranges, zested and juiced
2 C shredded cheddar cheese (other cheeses that would be good: Asiago, Havarti, Manchego, Gouda)

juice from the oranges
3 C powdered sugar

First, let's make the dough. I usually give myself two hours to get this done because it has to sit, then sit, then sit again. But it's not hard.

Mix water, sugar, and yeast together. Let sit for 15 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients. Knead until smooth. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1/2 hour.

Looks good!

Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a rectangle. There's no right or wrong here, just make it rectangular. (I roll out half the dough at a time because it's a lot of dough!)

Melt the butter and spread it across the rectangle.

Next, sprinkle on the sugar and blend it into the butter.

Add the orange zest. 

And the cheese!

Roll up the dough, starting with the long end.

The rolled up dough.

Cut the dough with a sharp knife every two inches.

Lay out on a baking sheet, leaving space between each one.

Cover and let rise for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes.

This is them as they come out. Aren't they perfect?

Oh, and don't forget the glaze. You should make this while they're in the oven.

Mix the reserved orange juice and powdered sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.


Pour over the rolls when they come out of the oven. 

Enjoy with a glass of milk. And yes, I did make cinnamon rolls at the same time. I made the full dough amount, then did half cinnamon rolls and half orange rolls. These are best warm, so nuke them for ten seconds in the microwave the next day and they're good again!

Yield: 24 orange rolls


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Keeping the faith

I've hit a bit of a roadblock in trying to get my cookbook published.

I've been actively pursuing publication, knowing that I myself cannot produce nor distribute the colorful, picture food memoir cookbook that I envision. I've had some wonderful responses from agents in the publishing world, including the encouragement to start a food blog (which is why this blog exists).

Last week I got the kindest, most bittersweet email I could expect to get in this line of work. The agent, who  has communicated back and forth with me for a few months, said that while my writing is lovely and the book proposal looks fantastic, until I am famous or have someone rich and famous behind me, she can't sell it. She can't market it. No publisher will take it.

This is how I feel.

Have you ever felt like there was something you wanted to accomplish--no, HAD to accomplish--but the ability to do so is simply out of your control? No matter how much you want it, your fate lies in the hands of another person?

I've felt this way before. And I feel this way now, about my cookbook. Basically I'm being told I'm still a nobody. And nobody will take a chance on a nobody. She did tell me that if my situation changes, she'd be happy to help me with my book.

Bittersweet. For once, I can say, "It's not my book, it's me."

And yet, despite this evidence glaring me in the face, despite the fact that only thirteen people will read this post (isn't it wonderful that I can see how many people visit my blog? LOL), I can't seem to let go of this dream. A part of me says, "Put aside this cookbook draft and work on something else, something that maybe will make you somebody." But the other part of me says, "I can't put it aside. It doesn't matter if no one believes in my work; I want this cookbook. I will write this cookbook."

Because I still have hope that I'm wrong, that's she's wrong, that somebody somewhere will back me up and believe. Believe in me. But I know that no one will believe in me if I don't believe in myself first.

So. Here we are. Keeping the faith.



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In my pursuit to getting a cookbook published, I'm trying to develop my credibility as a food writer, and not just an author.