I’m so excited to announce that The 2012 Food Blogger/Reader Holiday Auction is officially LIVE! Over 25 bloggers and 20 offline readers/friends have joined forces to put on a fantastic auction filled with baked goods and holiday-inspired gift items.
This year, The Holiday Auction is even more special to me because it’s in honor of my good friend Lori Hammond. Lori (age 24) was diagnosed with APL Leukemia on October 4th, 2012 just as she was starting Veterinary School at UC Davis. She fought the cancer into remission but it was no easy feat and still has outpatient chemotherapy down in San Diego to ensure it is gone for good. You can read more about Lori’s journey on her auction item page and/or through her blog.
Since Lori is a huge fan of food and cooking, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate her amazing strength and spirit than to bring together a group of like-minded individuals who share the same love for food.
100% of all the proceeds from this auction will be donated so I hope you will do some bidding! There are a bunch of wonderful items that would make great gifts too :)
100% of the proceeds will be donated. 50% will go to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the other 50% will go to Lori. Everyone will also have the option of donating 100% to LLS (per Lori’s request).
The auction starts Monday (today!) and goes until Thursday, December 13th, 2012. All winning bidders will have to pay within 24 hours after the auction ends or else the item will go to the 2nd highest bidder.
If you win, your item will be shipped no later than Monday, December 17th so it will arrive in time for the holidays.
Bids are placed in the comments section of each item page.
Below is a list of all the people who contributed to this auction. I am so appreciative of the bloggers, readers, and friends (even if we’ve never met) who have volunteered their time and baking skills to put this auction together. Thanks again for the wonderful items!
But you know what? Pumpkin will never go out of style, no matter what people say. And neither will cheesecake.
It’s just the truth.
I’m so ready for the weekend! Life has been a little hectic and busy lately. But I guess life has to be crazy every once in a while or else it wouldn’t be any fun, right? I’m excited to grab some dinner with friends tonight and then spend the weekend baking my little heart out. And watching Christmas movies, of course. And listening to this song (I just LOVE it!!). Oh, and I’ll also be channeling all of my strength towards NOT buy everything from Sur La Table regardless of how many sale/find the perfect gift emails and catalogs they send me!
You guys, I also have something really, REALLY exciting for you coming up in a few weeks. More details about it next week.
In the meantime, let’s talk cheesecake.
This cheesecake has the perfect amount of pumpkin in it and the crust is buttery, sweet, and crunchy. Homemade graham cracker crusts are so easy and SO much tastier than store bought ones. Seriously.
The only downfall about this cheesecake is that it’s impossible to have just one slice. I had a piece for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. Two days straight. Cheesecake diet, anyone? No? Just meeee?!
The spices from the pumpkin layer also add such a unique touch to this cheesecake. If you don’t already know, I’m a HUGE fan of fall and winter flavors (such as pumpkin!) so needless to say, I’ll be making this pumpkin cheesecake well into…June.
Now, more importantly, does anyone have any fun plans for the next few days? Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! :)
4 tablespoons butter melted, plus a little extra for coating
For the Cheesecake
22 oz. cream cheese
⅔ cup light sour cream
⅔ cup sugar
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
For the Crust
In a medium bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and the graham cracker crumbs together.
Then drizzle the butter, a little bit at a time, into the mixture and incorporate well.
Use a little bit of butter to coat the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Then press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the pan to form the crust. Using the back of a dry measuring cup or something flat helps to press the crust down.
Bake the crust for 10-12 mins or until the crust is set.
Remove the crust from the oven and let cool while making the cheese cake mixture.
For the Filling
Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, remaining ⅔ cup sugar, flour, and vanilla extract using a handheld mixer. Beat on low until combined.
Then add the eggs. You want the mixture to be smooth but try not to overbeat it.
Pour 1½ cups of the mixture into a separate bowl. Add the pumpkin, brown sugar, and cinnamon to this bowl and mix well.
Pour the plain batter over the crust and spread evenly with a rubber spatula or metal spoon. Then pour the pumpkin batter on top of the plain layer and spread evenly.
Place the springform pan on a baking sheet and then bake the cheesecake for about 45 minutes or until the outside is set and the center is almost set (slightly jiggly).
Remove from the oven and place the springform pan on a cooling rack to allow the cheesecake to cool complete (about 1-2 hours).
Then refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to remove from the springform pan, run a knife along the edge to loosen up the cheesecake.
Serve and enjoy!
– To make the graham cracker crumbs, either pulse the crackers in a food processor or put the crackers in a ziplock bag and hit the bag with a rolling pin or the handle of a spatula until you get fine crumbs.
– If using a springform pan, I suggest lining the bottom of it with parchment paper before you do anything else so you can remove the cheesecake easily after it’s ready.
Did everyone have a nice Thanksgiving? I think my favorite part of Thanksgiving was when I caught my adult cousin literally licking her plate clean :) Trust me, I was thinking of doing the sammme thing…she just beat me to it.
Now that Turkey Day over, the Christmas season is starting to set in! Warm fires, snow, hot drinks, fudge, cookies, ugly sweaters, Christmas movies, Christmas SONGS. The list goes on.
My favorite drink? This mulled cider!! It’s so warm and tasty. One sip makes me want to curl up under a blanket and watch Christmas movies back-to-back all weekend long (too bad it’s Monday!). And if you’re not a grandma like me who enjoys the occasional spiked drink while watching movies on a Saturday night, I guaranteeeee that this cider would be a hit at any holiday party!! It’s really easy to make and one pot serves a small gathering.
The trick to this cider is using unfiltered apple juice. And fresh fruit. Fresh fruit always wins.
The fruit and spice blend create a magnificent aroma, and you can barely taste the rum but it adds a really wonderful flavor to the drink (you can add more rum or omit it entirely if you’d like too!)
Oh, and your house will smell AMAZING when you make this!! Not. even. kidding. Warning: This cider goes fast so you may want to get enough ingredients to make two (or three) batches :)
Heat up the apple juice in a large pot on the stove over medium-high heat.
While the apple juice is heating up, cut the apple and orange into ½ inch slices.
Add the apple and orange slices to the warm apple juice.
Then add the cinnamon sticks, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves to the juice.
Turn the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Add the spiced rum and let it warm up and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
– You can add as much or as little rum as you’d like to this recipe.
– You can also strain the mixture when it’s ready but honestly, I’ve never done this and I think the cider tastes great! Just make sure you don’t accidentally drink the cloves. :)
– Add a cinnamon stick to each cup for garnish, along with a slice of apple and orange.
– The apple and orange slices will have a stronger rum flavor than the drink itself.
Y’all know it’s that time of the year. Thanksgiving is tomorrow (I can’t WAIT!!), the weather is getting chillier, and comfort food is a must.
So whether you’re looking for a last-minute side dish to bring for dinner tomorrow or if you’re simply craving something cheesy, this is your dish. It’s made with whole wheat shells (you can use regular pasta too!) and there are three kinds of cheese.
I had about 10 people taste test this dish, and I think it’s safe to say that this recipe is a keeper. The dish also feeds a ton of people so if you’re going to a big event, this mac and cheese is perfect!
The pumpkin flavor doesn’t over power the dish and the crispy sage that’s thrown into the breadcrumb topping is amazing.
The sage is cooked in butter…
…and then the browned butter and sage are mixed into the panko/bread crumbs.
The breadcrumbs are sprinkled over the cheesy pasta and then the pasta is thrown in the oven so that all of the flavors can combine nicely.
Seriously, if you’re still thinking about what side dish to bring to dinner tomorrow night or what you should make with that left over pumpkin in the fridge, think no further. You won’t regret it!
Here are a few other pumpkin recipes suggestions in case you’re not a fan of mac and cheese:
But I mean…c’mon, who’s not a fan of mac and cheese?!
I’ll be heading back to Sonoma County for a few days to celebrate Thanksgiving with the fam. I’m so excited! I haven’t seen them in a while so it will be nice to spend some quality time with my big, wonderful family.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday filled with love, hugs, and lots of food! :)
1 pound whole wheat pasta shells, or any cut of pasta you like
5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¾ cup homemade pumpkin purée, or canned
2 cups (loosely) grated sharp white cheddar, plus ¼ cup for topping
½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus ¼ cup for topping
¼ cup grated monterey jack cheese, plus ¼ cup for topping
3 tablespoons of chopped sage, chopped, plus more whole leaves for garnish
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
½ cup plain breadcrumbs
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Cook pasta as directed on package but then drain it about a minute or so before the full cook time. (This leaves the pasta slightly undercooked so it can finish cooking when we bake the dish.) Set pasta aside.
To Make the Pumpkin Cheese Sauce
In a large pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk the combo until it smells lightly nutty.
Then slowly pour in the milk while constantly whisking the mixture.
Let the milk come to a simmer so it can thicken a bit (you can tell it’s thick enough if it can coat the back of a wooden spoon without running down the spoon).
Once the mixture is thickened, add the the mustard, salt, black pepper, thyme, garlic powder, paprika, and crushed red pepper.
Stir in the pumpkin until it is fully incorporated into the mixture.
Turn off the stove and then add 2 cups of sharp white cheddar, ½ cup parmesan, and ¼ cup monterey jack. Mix everything together until the cheese is melted.
Add in the pasta and mix together.
Pour the pasta/cheese mixture into a 9×13 baking dish and top with the remaining cheeses.
To Make the Bread Crumb Topping
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and melt 2 Tbs of butter.
Add the chopped sage and cook until crispy.
Stir and move pan constantly so the butter doesn’t burn but develops a nutty flavor (browned butter!).
In a large bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs, plain breadcrumbs, and some salt (to taste). Then mix in the butter/sage combo.
Sprinkle he breadcrumb mixture over the pasta evenly and then add a few whole sage leaves to the dish for garnish before putting it in the oven.
I got to spend all of last weekend at a cabin that sits right on the edge of Lake Pinecrest in Pinecrest, CA (near Yosemite). We went hiking, swimming, kayaking, and somehow even managed to incorporate bacon into every single meal on the trip (um, dream come true?).
There was no phone or internet service so it was just us and the lake. If you haven’t disconnected from technology in a while, I suggest you do so immediately. It feels amazing, and it was so wonderful spending time with a group of close friends in such a beautiful place. I’m so lucky!
Missing this place and the people already.
Hope everyone had a safe and fantastic Labor Day weekend! :)
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