Salted Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

In honor of the upcoming Blog Brûlée weekend in Vermont, I share with you Salted Pumpkin Crème Brûlée.

Salted pumpkin creme brulee

Fall is in the air, days are noticeably shorter and that means it’s time for pumpkins, apples and squash. So, even though I am trying to hold onto everything summer here on the Cape, it’s time to embrace the slight chill in the air.

I didn’t think I was quite ready for pumpkin anything (yet), until I made these little Salted Pumpkin Crème Brûlées over the weekend. If you love pumpkin, these won’t disapoint. They’re creamy, pumpkin-y, slightly sweet and slightly salty (I love sweet/salty combos). Greek yogurt replaces the cream and we’ve topped the Brûlées with pumpkin seeds for some added crunch and earthy goodness. These brûlées sound and look quite fancy, but they’re really not. They are very simple to make, they just take time because you need to let them chill for 5+ hours. But the wait is worth it. The perfect harvest dessert.

Salted pumpkin creme brulee

Salted pumpkin creme brulee with pumpkin seeds

Go ahead, dig in.

Salted pumpkin creme brulee with cinnamon sugar pumpkin seedsSalted Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

Time: 30 minutes (prep and cooking) + 5+ hours chilling time + 15 min broil/chill time

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla powder
  • 1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 dashes sea salt, divided
  • 3/4 cup Cabot low-fat vanilla bean Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, divided in half
  • ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon pumpkin seeds (we used Super Seedz)

Directions: Preheat oven to 325°F. Whisk together pumpkin, yogurt, ¼ cup brown sugar, egg yolks, pumpkin pie spice, salt and vanilla in medium mixing bowl. Divide mixture among two 3.5 oz ramekins. Place ramekins in a roasting pan. Add hot water to the pan so it hits halfway up the ramekins. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, until just set in the center. Remove from oven and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap tightly and chill at least 5 hours. When ready to serve, preheat the broiler. Sprinkle each ramekin with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and a dash of salt and put on a baking sheet. Then put under the broiler until tops are caramelized. Refrigerate 10 minutes or until sugar hardens. Serve topped with salted pumpkin seeds or sugar and cinnamon pumpkin seeds. You can also make these a couple days ahead of time and add the brown sugar topping and broil just before serving.

 

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Blog Brûlée … is 4 days away! {sponsored travel}

Disclosure: My upcoming attendance at Blog Brûlée is partially funded by the Sponsors of Blog Brûlée and I received a discounted registration to the event in exchange for writing this post. Opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for my time.

Blog Brûlée … is 4 days away!!

I can hardly believe the Blog Brûlée weekend is almost here! I have been looking forward to this weekend since April, when I learned I would be one of 20 healthy food bloggers and Registered Dietitian bloggers that would be headed to the mountains of beautiful Burlington Vermont for a weekend full of learning, discussing and sharing all the how to’s and best practices of better blogs.  And it goes without saying that with this group great food, wine, laughter and stories will be shared along the way.

The weekend is being led by 4 fabulous healthy food bloggers and Registered Dietitians who co-founded Blog Brûlée. Read all about Regan Jones, RD,  Robin Plotkin, RD, LD, Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD and Gretchen Brown, RD here. All four of these ladies have been an inspiration to me, especially in the areas of food photography, food styling, and supporting and engaging with other bloggers.

As I thought about what I want to get out of Blog Brûlée, I took a step back to reflect on 30 Seconds with A and J. My husband, Adrian, and I started this blog in March of 2012 as a way to share our love for healthy recipes, cooking and outdoor adventures (running, hiking, swimming, kayaking, going to oyster festivals, apple-picking, etc) and hopefully inspire others to take small steps towards a healthier lifestyle. It has been a creative outlet and hobby for me from the start that’s also become a growing passion of mine.

About a year ago, I started participating in Recipe ReDux, (which Regan and Deanna are cofounders of, along with Serena Balla healthy food blogger community that inspires monthly recipe challenges. Recipe ReDux has provided me with the opportunity to practice my photography skills in a fun environment and become a better food stylist and food blogger. It has forced me (in a good way) to continue to create and blog, even while we were/are in the midst of home renovations, including kitchen renovations. There were times in March/April when we didn’t have a kitchen and created recipes using only a microwave or our mini grill. We washed our dishes in the bathroom sink…It was a challenge, but a ton of fun and allowed me to keep dabbling in what I love to do. One of the greatest things I have learned through being a part of Recipe ReDux is how very important it is to show, through amazing food photography, that healthy food can be craveable, flavorful and sharable. I’ve loved being a part of this community of bloggers who have a similar love for creating and sharing colorful and beautiful healthy food.

The goal of gorgeous food photography has given me an excuse to collect pretty dishes and linens. Here’s a peak behind the scenes in our growing “studio.” Adrian has been very patient, as he puts up with my growing set of beautiful, but mismatched plates and bowls and linens that are mainly reserved for photography sessions. We used to only have simple white dishware and, well, that’s not the case anymore.

cabinetsMismatched dishes.

platesMismatched, yes, but pretty, aren’t they?

linensMy linen “prop” drawer.

I’ve been told I have maxed out my food prop allotment space. So, I have added a separate food prop closet area to our (my) renovation wish list.

Adrian has also been extremely patient, waiting for me, as I take pictures of the food he’s waiting to eat….

Jenny taking pics

All the while I am trying to find the “perfect” lighting, angle, linens, etc.

Blog Brûlée comes at the perfect time for me, as I plan to devote even more time and energy to blogging in the future and to continue to evolve and improve. There are a few areas in particular that I hope to gain insight on from Regan/Robin/Deanna/Gretchen and our featured speakers:

  • Food photography – my skills have been improving, but I still have more to learn. And I need to make a commitment to learn how to use the manual functions on my DSL camera vs always going with automatic. This is the year!
  • Lighting (!) – this is one of my greatest challenges. I cannot get the lighting right.
  • Brand identity – as I embark on updating my site to a more visual, engaging blog, brand identity is something that will be critical.
  • Monetization – those paid ads – what are they and how do they work?
  • Community development – with limited time, what can I do to build and engage with the community of followers/other bloggers.

In addition to the fabulous founding ladies, a huge thank you to the sponsors below who made Blog Brûlée possible. Cabot and Smugglers’ Notch are the Founding Sponsors of the 2014 event. See you in VT! And stay tuned, as I will be reporting back on key learnings from the weekend.

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WWW.INSTAGRAM.COM/SMUGGLERSNOTCHVT#
WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/USER/SMUGGSTV

Boyden Valley Winery Spirits Logo 2013

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Naan Pizzas with Garlicky Roasted Tomatoes and Ricotta

Naan Pizzas with Garlicky Roasted Tomatoes and RicottaOn Monday evening, Adrian and I were out in the yard sanding and oiling a few pieces of furniture – typical evening at the Rawns. We were greeted by our sweet neighbors with a few pounds of just-picked tomatoes. Love gifts from the garden. Aren’t they the best? Anyhow, the neighbors told us they couldn’t possibly eat all the tomatoes they are growing. And the truth is, we almost can’t eat all the tomatoes we’re growing either. But we can always put extra tomatoes to good use. Because, before we know it, just like summer, those tomatoes that were in abundance in August and September, will be gone.

Since Adrian and I both love roasted tomatoes, we decided to roast these “extras” simply with lots of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Just like so:

tomatoes and garlicThe balsamic brings out the natural sweetness in the tomatoes. The end result was worth turning on the oven on a humid 90 degree day. Sweet, tangy and garlicky tomatoes.

tomatoes and garlicIf you don’t like whole garlic cloves, remove them after roasting. Similarly with the tomato skins – if you prefer to remove, do that after roasting and cooling slightly, as they’ll slide off easily. We love the whole garlic cloves and the tomato skins, so left both in.

You can serve these tomatoes any way you like. We love them atop whole-wheat naan with ricotta.

Naan Pizzas with Garlicky Roasted Tomatoes and Ricotta

Or try with a sliced toasted baguette for bruschetta, toss with pasta or add atop leafy greens. Or eat straight up with a spoon like I did.

Naan Pizzas with Garlicky Roasted Tomatoes and Ricotta

Serves:  4

Time: 1.5 hours (mainly for roasting the tomatoes)

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs tomatoes (or any amount you have on hand. Slice larger tomatoes in half)
  • 1 jumbo head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 4 whole-wheat naan
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: preheat oven to 325. Combine tomatoes and garlic in a baking dish. Drizzle with evoo, balsamic, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Roast for 1.25-1.5 hours. Check after an hour to make sure garlic is browning not burning, stir if needed. Remove from oven. Toast naan and spread with ricotta. Top with tomatoes and garlic and serve.

 

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Penne with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella

Penne with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella Often times the simplest dinners are the best. One of my favorites, enjoyed beachside, is a baguette, some nice cheese, olives and red wine. Another favorite is this. Pasta tossed so simply with garden fresh tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella. Drizzled with your best extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Like a caprese salad with pasta. Does it really get any better? A summer garden in a bowl. This dish tastes great warm or cool, so either eat it right away or refrigerate and bring to share at your end of summer picnics.

Penne with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella The smell when you’re combining these ingredients is the most garden fresh thing you’ll ever smell. And it tastes even better.

You probably have your own version of it. Please share if so. Here’s ours.

Penne with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella

Serves: 4-6

Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 13.25oz box whole grain penne or other pasta (we use Barilla)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small handful of basil leaves, torn
  • 4oz fresh mozzarella, diced
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook pasta according to directions, until just al dente. Drain and set aside. Combine tomatoes, basil, mozzarella. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Serve and savor.

Penne with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella

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