When it comes to holiday recipes, these Cranberry Pecan Tarts work double duty as a Thanksgiving dessert or a sweet Christmas party appetizer. Either way they are scrumptious and nutty, tart and buttery little bites of holiday goodness!
The original recipe calls for a mini-muffin pan but I chose to make mine in standard sized cups. I always prefer mini-desserts that are at least two bites, what about you? I mean, who can stop at just one bite of tart? But if you’re planning on serving a large crowd for the holidays, I highly recommend the mini-version.
Piled high on a cake pedestal or simple platter and dusted lightly with powdered sugar, these tarts are beautiful and irresistible!
photos by Leah Bergman
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 3 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1 Egg
- 1/4 cup Butter, diced small
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup (48 to 72) fresh cranberries, washed, drained, cut in half
- Heat oven to 325°F. Combine flour, 3/4 cup butter and cream cheese in mixer. Beat at medium speed in until dough forms a ball or can be gathered together.
- Divide dough into 36 equal pieces for mini muffin tins, and 24 pieces for standard muffin tins. Place 1 piece of dough into each ungreased muffin pan cup. Press dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of cup. *The dough will not come all the way up the sides in a standard muffin pan.
- Combine sugar, pecans, egg, 1/4 cup diced butter and vanilla in small bowl. Place 4 or 5 cranberry halves in each pastry-lined cup. Spoon 2 teaspoons sugar and pecan mixture over cranberries.
- Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Loosen tarts from pan while hot by running knife carefully around inside of rim. Cool completely. Remove from pans.
- Variation: try adding in 4-5 white chocolate chips to each tart along with the cranberries before baking for a sweet addition.
Happy Friday! Is this crazy cold front nuts or what? Although we have little to complain about here in So. Cal, I am shocked at the snow fall across the rest of the states. It seems that winter is already here, and after waiting so long for fall, I’m not sure how I feel about that. But to bring a little warmth to this chilly Friday I offer Spiced Pear & Bourbon Cocktails!
This drink is sugar, spice, really good bourbon, and everything nice all wrapped up in a pretty fall cocktail package. It starts with a sweet pear simple syrup cooked down with cinnamon until it tastes like pie, mixed with nutty William Wolf Pecan Bourbon* and a hearty squeeze of lemon. I was sent a bottle of William Wolf Pecan Bourbon a couple months back and have been savoring it ever since! With it’s pecan-pie flavor and smooth quality, this is one of my favorite bourbons to date! Of course if you can’t find William Wolf, another good quality bourbon will do just fine.
Because I like my bourbon cocktails on the sweet side, I rimmed my glasses with a bit of pumpkin pie spice and sugar. What’s not to love about that? Garnish with a fresh cinnamon stick and serve alongside any savory fall meal. This cocktail will pair perfectly with Thanksgiving dinner, of course. So, stay warm this weekend my friends and make a round of these drinks for extra comfort. Cheers!
photos by Leah Bergman
* William Wolf Pecan Bourbon was gifted to be by the company. All opinions about this bourbon are my own however…it’s just that good.
- 4 oz William Wolf Pecan Bourbon
- 4 oz Spiced Pear Syrup (if you like your cocktails less sweet, reduce to 2 oz)
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- plenty of ice
- 1 Bosc pear, washed and chopped
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Make the syrup: In a small sauce pan combine chopped pear, water, sugar and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to a simmer and cook 30 minutes. Break down the pear with the back of a wooden spoon as the mixture reduces.
- Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve reserving the syrup. Discard the solids and chill syrup until ready to use.
- Make the cocktail: In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine bourbon, lemon juice, spiced pear syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Shake very well to allow ice to slightly melt into the drink.
- Strain into cocktail glasses rimmed with pumpkin pie spice and sugar if desired. Garnish with cinnamon stick and enjoy!
- To make the pie spice spice and sugar rim mixture, combine 2 Tbs granulated sugar and 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice. Rim glasses with lemon and dip in the sugar-spice mixture.
Perk up pasta night with a fun, fall twist on the classic carbohydrate: Carbonara! Let’s face it, it’s easy to fall into a noodle rut but this ridiculously easy recipe will get you right back on track.
You already know how to boil pasta, so let’s talk sauce. Who doesn’t love carbonara? It’s rich, creamy, cheesy—bacon-y!—I mean, come on! But here’s a tip: It’s even better with a scoop of butternut squash puree stirred into the mix. The squash adds sweetness and a hint of tartness that helps cut through the super creamy sauce. This definitely isn’t a diet dinner but (bonus) the squash does add some extra vitamins and nutrients, so cheers to that!
You can find butternut squash puree right next to the canned pumpkin in your grocery store. It may be a few cents extra but it’s worth it! The flavor is a bit more sophisticated and aren’t you sick of canned pumpkin by now (at least until Thanksgiving)!? That said, if you can’t find the squash, feel free to swap pumpkin. It’ll work just as well. Shopping hint: I usually buy mine at Whole Foods but I checked a bunch of other grocery stores here in Brooklyn and everyone seems to carry the Farmer’s Market Foods Butternut Squash.
Another reason why this sauce is so amazing? You only need one cup! Everything happens in equal amount: 1 cup chopped bacon, 1 cup cream, 1 cup squash…you get the idea. It’s like that easy peanut butter cookie recipe everyone know but, like, in dinner form. Make this sauce, toss it with you favorite cooked pasta and dinner’s on the table. Let us know what you think!
- 1 cup chopped bacon or pancetta
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup canned butternut squash puree
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
- PANTRY STAPLES: Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel–lined plate using a slotted spoon. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the heavy cream and butternut squash puree to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by almost half and the mixture coats the back of your spoon, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until cheese melts, about 1 minute. At this point, the sauce can be cooled and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. (Gently reheat on the stovetop and thin with some pasta water when ready to eat.)
- To serve, cook your favorite pasta. Add 1/4 to 1/3 pasta water to the sauce to thin it, if desired. Toss the pasta with the sauce. Divide among bowls. Top with the cooked bacon, lots of freshly ground black pepper and more Parmesan, if desired.
My Dad is an expert self-taught bread baker. From homemade cinnamon rolls to the very best pizza dough and loaves of bread, my Dad has a way with flour and yeast. I on the other hand do not. I blame it on my general lack of patience— I can’t stand the whole wait to rise, punch it down, repeat nonsense. I much prefer baking scones, biscuits, banana bread, and all other sorts of quick breads that come together in a snap! It’s all about instant gratification and not waiting around for dough to rise. Sheesh.
This Thanksgiving, I’m making a batch of homemade Pumpkin and Sage buttermilk biscuits to take to our family dinner. They couldn’t be more simple to make but are sure to impress when served hot and steaming from the oven with a side of salted butter. Pass the butter!
Aside from the fresh sage and buttermilk, you probably already have all of these ingredients in your pantry. No biscuit cutter on hand? A glass with about a 3 1/2″ rim or even the lid of a mason jar will work just fine. I hope you will give them a try for your family Thanksgiving dinner. Plus, they make the perfect day-after lunch sliced open and stuffed with turkey and cranberry sauce! Who else just got hungry?
photos by Leah Bergman
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 2 Tablespoons fresh sage, minced
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- Make the biscuit dough: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Set aside. Combine the pumpkin purée and honey in a small bowl. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and fold in until just combined (do not overmix). Add the buttermilk and chopped sage and stir just until mixture clings together and can be gathered up (again, do not overmix).
- Roll out the biscuits: Set aside two ungreased baking sheets. Turn the biscuit dough out onto a well floured surface and knead a few times until it the dough comes together. Roll the dough out to 3/4-inch thickness, cut biscuits out with a 3 1/2-inch round cutter, gather the scraps, gently press together, and repeat until all of the dough is used. Place biscuits 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet and bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Tip: Make sure to work with ice cold butter. This will create a flaky and delicious biscuit!
Is there anything that a good can of spray paint can’t do? It really doesn’t get more simple than transforming your average glass hurricane candle holder into pure ambiance with a yard of lace and a can of metallic gold paint.
Gold Lace Candle Holders are the the perfect accessory for your fall table from everyday dinners to Thanksgiving feasts!
Here’s what you need to get started:
Glass hurricane candle holders
Gold spray paint
Lace Trim 2″ (or wider)
Newspaper to cover your work station
Let’s Get Started!
Step 1: Cut stripes of lace to fit the diameter of your glass hurricanes and tape securely. Note: Make sure to pull lace tightly before taping down. If your lace is too loose, or moves, you will not see the pattern after painting.
Step 2: Place hurricanes on a covered surface in a well ventilated outdoor area and spray the outside only in gold spray paint. Make sure to paint lightly over all of the lace. Allow to dry completely.
Step 3: Carefully remove the tape and lace to reveal your stenciled pattern. Fill with votives or tea lights, light and enjoy!
Hooray for fall! What sort of festive fall projects are you planning to make this season? Is there anything in particular you would like to see here on Freutcake? I’ve got a serious crafting bug.
photos by Leah Bergman
This weekend we had two days of the most Fall-like and lovely weather so far this season. It was the first time I felt like bundling up with a cup of hot tea, a pair of socks and actually thinking about the upcoming holidays. It was also the kind of weekend perfect for making easy Slow-Cooker Apple Butter.
When I was little I wasn’t much of an apple butter fan. It took years for me to find out that there wasn’t butter in apple butter and that it was actually delicious. Confusing to a kid, I assure you!
With the help of a crock-pot, all the cooking, stirring and standing over a hot stove is completely non-existent! It’s as easy as this: Six pounds of apples get pealed and cored, sliced and cooked slowly all night long in a crock-pot filled with sugar, spice and everything nice. In the morning the entire house smells like slow cooked spiced apple goodness!
Puree, and cook some more, before cooling and spreading all over crispy buttered English muffins or toast. Thank goodness for cool fall days without which we might never make apple butter. Now who’s ready for breakfast?
photos by Leah Bergman
- 6½ pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used a combination of Granny Smith, Fuji and Honeycrisp)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Place apples in slow cooker. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Sprinkle over the apples and stir gently to combine. Cook on low for 10 hours.
- Stir in vanilla extract, breaking up any large chunks of apples that remain. Cover and cook for an additional 2 hours.
- Remove cover and use an immersion blender to puree the apple butter until completely smooth. (Alternately, you could puree in batches in a food processor or regular blender.)
- Cook for an additional 1-2 hours with the lid ajar until apple butter thickens and does not separate when cooled on a spoon.
- Allow the mixture to cool, then spoon into jars and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.
- Tip: To test if apple butter is done cooking, scoop out a small spoonful onto a plate. If the apple butter begins to separate (liquid runs from the solids) then it needs more time to cook.
The end of the month signals discussion time for our October book club selection, The Silent Wife! I felt this was one of the easiest books to get through since I was dying to know how the events were going to unfold. And I realized that you don’t always need monsters, ghosts, possessed dolls, or ax murderers in a story to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up; often it’s the everyday things, the seemingly harmless things like the put-together wife with the smile on her face that prove to be the scariest of all. It can be shocking to find out what the human mind is sometimes capable of believing and justifying. Although The Silent Wife is a work of fiction, we have all heard of similar stories in the news and it’s unsettling to know that we walk amongst such tortured souls. Here are some questions to consider when discussing the book with your book club members or here with us in the comments below!
1. Why do you think Jodi looks the other way when Todd gets involved with other women? What does that say about her? What does that say about their relationship?
2. What are your thoughts on Natasha’s character? Do you think her and Todd’s relationship would have lasted?
3. Why does Jodi admire and open up to her friend Alison so much? What kind of “friend” does Alison prove to be?
4. Did you like the way the author switched back and forth between Jodi and Todd’s point of views? How do you feel about this technique in general?
5. Were you surprised by the twist at the end or did you have a feeling that that’s how things were going to unfold?
If you didn’t get a chance to read The Silent Wife, you still can! It can easily be read cover to cover in one cozy weekend under a blanket. Then check back for our next selection coming soon!
I’ve got fall fever and the only prescription is MORE PUMPKIN! Halloween is just days away, our Thanksgiving menu is already on my mind; there are dinner party desserts to be made, chilly mornings to fill with something sweet—and no other flavor will do! Once December hits, my thoughts turn to Peppermint Bark everything, but for now, it’s gourds or go!
Here’s the funny thing about living in Brooklyn this time of year: It’s too frickin’ lovely! I’d love to tell you that I’m cuddled up at home baking all day long but that would be a total lie. It’s the perfect few weeks for brisk jogs in the park, long sunny walks through the Brooklyn Flea or wasting away the afternoon wrapped up in a sweater (and drinking wine, of course) at a sidewalk table at our favorite local cafe. I’m not sitting inside baking!
So how am I getting my pumpkin fix? It’s easy: Make-ahead panna cotta. It has all the fabulous flavors of pumpkin pie and none of the annoying prep work. Mix it up, put it in the fridge, and go do your thing girl! Hours later you have a chic treat that’s sweet, slightly spiced and ridiculously jiggly.
I use a few shortcuts to make these grown-up “Jello” treats extra easy. First, half-and-half. Instead of measuring out different amount of heavy cream and whole milk, just use half-and-half! One ingredient. Done! My advice, though: Go for the good stuff. I love to get the local organic half-and-half from our grocery store. Since this is the base of your super-simple dessert, it’s important that you’re starting with the best ingredient possible.
Next up: Pumpkin pie filling. We used it to make our Pumpkin Spice Latte Waffles, remember? It already has sugar and spices in it, saving you a step or two.
These lovely little panna cottas are a great blank canvas for some topping creativity. If you’re willing to splurge on a few extra ingredients, you can serve them with whipped cream, maple syrup, a pumpkin pie spice sprinkle or maybe even some toasted pumpkin seeds. You’re a wonderful hostess (and a dessert lover!) so I’m sure you’ll come up with something amazing. Let us know what you think!
Want to walk through this together step-by-step? I made a quick how-to video for you—the whole recipe live! Watch and learn how to master this classic dessert xo
- 4 cups half-and-half
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin pie filling
- 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- PANTRY STAPLES: Water and a pinch of salt!
- Heat the half-and-half, pumpkin pie filling, brown sugar, vanilla and a pinch of salt in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until simmering and the sugar dissolves, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Strain pumpkin mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl, stirring and pressing down firmly on the solids to push the mixture through (discard any lumpy solids remaining in the sieve).
- Put 1/2 cup ice-cold water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over the cold water and let sit 2 minutes or until softened. Whisk in 1/2 cup boiling water until the gelatin dissolves.
- Gently whisk the gelatin mixture into the pumpkin mixture until combined. Divide among cups or ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 8 hours or overnight.
- To serve, unwrap and run a small knife around the inside of the cups to loosen the panna cottas. Invert onto a serving plate and firmly tap it a few times to release (it’ll come out eventually, just keep tapping the cup against the plate)! Serve with whipped cream, maple syrup and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice if desired.
It doesn’t take much to set a festive last-minute table for Halloween night. Spooky Pumpkin Place Card Holders can be made in no-time and are down right frightening! Little silver pumpkins covered in spider webs and creepy black spiders…guests are sure to get a scare when they sit down for dinner.
small white pumpkins
silver spray paint
faux spider webs
paper place cards
hot glue gun
small pumpkin carving knife
Let’s get started:
1. Spray paint white pumpkins silver and allow to dry completely.
2. Using a small pumpkin carving knife, carve a two inch horizontal slit across the top of each pumpkin to fit a place card.
3. Stretch a small amount of spider web over each pumpkin and attach at the bottom with a spot of hot glue.
4 & 5. Add a dot of hot glue to the top of each pumpkin and attach a spider.
6. Insert a place card into each slit and set the table!
I used simple black and white plates with silver details, faux-horns, and cut pomegranate to bring an eerie-chic look to my Halloween tabletop. Glasses of red wine in smoked glass coupes look naturally sinister! Are you entertaining this Halloween? How will you be setting your table?
photos by Leah Bergman
Happy Friday! Yesterday on Instagram, a friend/reader commented that “(Halloween) looks like it’s my favorite holiday” in response to all of my spider-filled, pumpkin adorned, and candy covered posts. It’s true that I do geek out a tiny bit over Halloween, Harry Potter, and all things October. But if you have been a reader for sometime now, you will know that Christmas is my absolute favorite of holidays followed closely by Halloween. Around here the festivities start late September and work their way through New Years Eve! I sure do love a good holiday party.
So without further ado, I give you yet another candy-coated Halloween cocktail that I mixed up for Style Me Pretty Living.
Salted Caramel Apple Martini’s are basically your classic sour apple martini rimmed with caramel and a sprinkling of Maldon flaked sea salt. Simple to make, tart and sweet, and always acid green! The perfect festive and fun beverage to sip this Halloween while passing out candy…because adults deserve a treat too! So, what’s your favorite holiday to celebrate?
photos by Leah Bergman / originally for Style Me Pretty Living
- 2 ounces vodka or apple flavored vodka
- 1-1/2 ounces sour apple liqueur
- 1-1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- caramel sauce
- flaked Maldon sea salt
- green apple, for garnish
- Rim martini glasses by rolling in caramel sauce and sprinkling with sea salt. Set aside.
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine vodka, apple liqueur and lemon juice.
- Shake until well chilled and pour into prepared martini glass. Garnish with a wedge of green apple.
- Tip: to keep apple garnishes from turning brown, rub with lemon after cutting.