Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip

I volunteered to bring a snack for tonight's meeting of Tulsa Cake Club, and this is the result...pumpkin cheesecake dip.  Easy.  Autumnal.  Pumpkiny.  Sweet and gently spiced.  What's not to love?

I saw this recipe online somewhere a few weeks ago, cut and pasted the directions from the website into Word, and printed it out, so I couldn't tell you where it's from.  Sorry, original recipe person!   Also, I made a couple of adjustments in the form of adding cinnamon and vanilla.

Anyway, this stuff is awesome with gingersnap cookies and sliced apples.  Pictured are slices of a Gala apple, but any not-too-sweet kind will do.  I'm noshing on some Golden Delicious right now with a dollop of the dip.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip
Serves 8-10

1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, softened
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash vanilla
1-2 tbsp. heavy whipping cream, optional  (I didn't need any.)
Gingersnaps and/or fresh fruit for serving  (I used apples.  Pears would be good, too.  So would graham crackers.)

Beat the cream cheese and pumpkin with a mixer until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until incorporated.  Add the spices and vanilla.  If the mixture seems too thick, add some of the whipping cream to thin it out.  Chill thoroughly before serving.

It occurs to me as I'm finishing this post that the leftover dip I brought home from my meeting would be quite tasty as a topping for tomorrow morning's toast or bagel...hmm...

Homemade Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole is a longtime favorite of mine, and it's pretty much universally popular as a Thanksgiving side dish.  Are you sad that you're relegated to the old standby of globby canned cream of mushroom soup, limp green beans, and greasy French-fried onions?  Think again.  You can make this deliciousness from scratch, and it's very easy.

All you need are:

~ 3 cups fresh green beans, washed and broken into pieces 1 1/2" to 2" long
~ 1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
~ 2 shallots or 1/4 of a red onion, diced
~ 4 oz. cremini mushrooms, washed and diced
~ 2 cloves garlic, minced
~ 2 oz. unsalted butter (half a stick, 4 tbsp.)- divided
~ 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
~ 2 cups milk
~ 1/2 cup panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)
~ kosher salt and fresh black pepper

Place the green beans in a shallow pan with about 1/2" of water.  Cover, bring to a boil, and cook until just bright green.  Drain off the hot water and dump the beans into a bowl of ice water.  Set aside.

Saute the chopped mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and thyme in 2 tbsp. unsalted butter over medium heat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the flour and mix thoroughly.  Slowly add the milk while stirring and cook until thickened.  Season to taste and add the drained green beans.  Heat through.

Preheat the oven to 400ยบ.  Put the green bean and mushroom mixture into an 8" baking dish.  In a small bowl, melt the remaining 2 tbsp. of butter.  Toss with the panko and spread the buttered breadcrumbs on top of the green bean mix.  Bake until bubbling and golden brown.  Cool slightly before serving.  Serves 4-6.

Fresh green beans were first broken into 1 1/2" to 2" pieces, and then steamed in a small amount of water until bright green.

See the pretty bright green color?  Drain off the hot water and toss those puppies into a bowl of water and ice.  This stops the cooking and retains crispness.

Saute some chopped mushrooms, thyme, shallots, and garlic in butter with salt and pepper.  Add flour and combine thoroughly.

Stir in some milk and cook until thickened.  Adjust seasoning and add green beans.

Mix together some panko bread crumbs and melted butter for a crunchy topping.

This is an 8" round baking dish.

Bake until golden and bubbly.  In hindsight, a cup of panko was too much topping for this small batch.  Half a cup should suffice.

Om nom nom nom!