Roasted Peach Breakfast Bread Pudding

I’ve been walking thru the produce sections of the grocery stores and salivating over the smell of peaches.  It is stonefruit season and their perfume is overwhelming.  It radiates as strong as the ladies that obnoxiously dose themselves in bottled perfume, but with the natural, earthy, sweet scent that manages to make its way into my belly and switch on the I want to eat button.

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So far each week I have not been able to resist the tantalizing scent of the peaches and home they come!  Last week I found myself in with a familiar situation- ever had a lot of bread leftover from dinner? Or even just a half of loaf?  Maybe you have even had a walk in freezer full of leftover bread.  Luckily, the day old bread makes a great treat the next morning , especially when there are roasted peaches involved.

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Ingredients

  • 4 ounces sourdough, French or Italian bread, day old, 1 inch cubed (about 3 cups)    
  • 2 small peaches, diced in ½ inch cubes    
  • 2 tablespoons raisins or dried cherries    
  • 1/3 cup low-fat ready-to-eat granola cereal    
  • 3/4 cup low-fat or skim milk    
  • 2 tablespoons sugar    
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon    
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-calorie pancake syrup  
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened Greek yogurt 

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Instructions

The evening prior to serving, coat a 8 or 9 inch baking dish with pan spray.   In a mixing bowl combine the bread, fruit, and granola.  In another mixing bowl whip the milk, sugar, egg and cinnamon until combined.  Pour liquid into mixing bowl of bread and fruit and toss gently.  Pour all into prepared baking dish and cover, refrigerate overnight.

Turn oven to 350°F.  Bake the uncovered bread pudding for 30 minutes or until the bread is toasted brown. Serve warm with syrup and 1 ½ tablespoon Greek yogurt.

Serves 4

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The peaches are lovely in the breakfast dish, but fresh plums and nectarines are easily substituted. Any fruit can be swapped out if you prefer.  Skip the Greek yogurt and serve it as dessert one evening with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt.

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This is a healthy yet decadent way to start any summer morning, and  certainly a guilty free way to use up that leftover bread!

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Florida Citrus Mint Squares- Jump Start on Summer

It’s hard to believe summer is already so close, it seems like spring was just starting.  Do you ever get used to time flying?  It especially doesn’t help that everyone is jumping the shark to get to summer, myself included.  I just the other day wrote Summer Vegetables onto a menu rather than Spring Vegetables, consciously deciding to make the move.  Popsicles are in the freezer, the beach bag is packed, coolers are rinsed out, beach chairs pulled down from the attic, and plenty of summer menus planned.  As I jumped the shark to summer in menu writing, I followed suit with my favorite summer dessert- Lemon Squares.

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I have loved lemon squares since a little girl. The powdery sweet topping over the slightly sour lemon filling that melts in your mouth is the perfect summer dessert.  They are also one of the two desserts my mom, Queenie, was able to make-I’ve mentioned she is a better taster then maker right?  But Lemon Squares, she could rock, simple, lemony, sweet lusciousness.

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While there is nothing wrong with the classic lemon square, we are in Florida, and have a produce market right in our backyard.  Grapefruits are falling over the fence from the neighbor’s tree, lovely, bitter sweet in flavor, and our herb garden is becoming like an overgrown aromatic weed garden.  Call me inspired, Queenie’s classic lemon squares became Florida Citrus Mint Squares.

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Ingredients

For the Crust

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sifting
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced into small cubes

For the Citrus Filling

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon grapefruit zest

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Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in center. Spray a 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray and lay a piece of parchment into it, pressing and folding it to cover the interior of the pan.

2. To make the crust, combine flour with confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a food processor and pulse.  Add the cold  butter and pulse until mixture is course crumbs.  Scrape crumb mixture into the parchment lined baking dish and press evenly.

3. Bake in oven until crust is lightly browned 20 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan.

4. Turn oven down to 325 degrees.  Start to make the lemon filling: In a mixing bowl, add the eggs and beat with an electric mixer until thick. Add in the granulated sugar, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, flour, baking powder, salt, mint and grapefruit zest and mix thoroughly. Pour over the warm crust. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until set. Cool to room temperature; refrigerate about 1 hour.

5. Lift the parchment paper from baking pan on to cutting board and cut into 16 squares.  Sift the remaining tablespoon confectioners’ sugar over the top and place on serving tray.

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Summer is just about here, wait another week or so or break out the Slip and Slide early, it’s up to you.  Either way, be sure to enjoy the flavors of summer, the beautiful produce that fills the markets.  Summer and childhood memories are bonded together, like Queenie’s Lemon Squares, be sure to create your own for your family and friends.

Chocolate Cherry Risotto- Warning, Life Changing Dessert

With the Food Blog Forum a few weeks ago, and somehow one of my favorite , Chocolate Cherry Risotto, being served, I felt it was time to share the life changing spoonfuls of decadence with Sir Wes.  He has been hearing me talk about it for the last year or so when one of the culinary in the kitchen made it for a family meal.  Ummm- so good it made its way on to many menus, especially the ones that I would be eating  :).

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Truly- I say I love a lot of food, dishes, recipes- but the warm, rich chocolaty gooey rice just floors me.  I’ve had it topped a few ways, with berries or granola, but my absolute favorite is with pistachio ice cream/gelato/frozen yogurt.  These guys in the kitchen that made this are ridiculously talented- life changing dish.

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Can you tell I like it?  A great thing is you can switch out the milks, sugars, or even make it with brown rice to make it allergen or waist line friendlier.  Almost healthy enough to be in the Nutritional MyPlate Guide!

Chocolate Risotto

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoon cherry brandy
  • 2 cup milk
  • ¼ cup chocolate syrup
  • ¼ cup dried cherries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped

Over medium heat in a heavy sauce pan melt butter and add the rice.  Stir until the butter becomes fragrant and the rice is toasted lightly.

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Add the cherry brandy and stir until it becomes absorbed into the rice.  Mix the milk with the chocolate syrup well.  Slowly add the chocolate milk, a ¼ cup at a time and stir well, until the milk is almost absorbed.  With each addition of milk the rice will become creamier, and tender to bite.

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The temperature of the stove should be over medium, giving a slow simmer so there is no scorch.  When adding the last ¼ cup of milk, reduce heat to low and add the cherries, sugar and chocolate as well.  Allow to the chocolate to melt and the milk to be absorbed before serving.

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Serves 4.  Start to finish the cooking time was 30 minutes.

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Serving this at a dinner party will promise a grand finale, but is also a little tricky as the hostess is usually ready to unwind at this time.  You can par cook the rice if you want to have the ability to serve quicker,  just follow the directions above and stop cooking the rice when it is al dente, (with bite).  Cool it down immediately by spreading it out in a pan and refrigerating. You can do this the day before even if you wrap it tightly after it is cooled.  When you are ready to finish and serve, it will help to heat the milk, and you might need another ½ cup of milk.  But pretty much continue where you left off just reheat it slowly and evenly by stirring well.

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Another tip is to go as far as adding the liquor and then turning the stove off until you are ready to cook.  This will save you about 10 minutes in the end.

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**Warning**  Sir Wes told me I should not have let him have that… how could any chocolate dessert hold a candle…  I have ruined chocolate desserts for him…

Florida Strawberry, Lavender Farmers Cheese and California Walnut Braided Pastries

How could there not be pastries at a brunch, desserts are a must, right?  Best for last?  California Walnuts sent all the participants of #BrunchWeek a bag of fresh from the tree walnuts and I was thrilled to use them for a scrumptious sweet #BrunchWeek finale!

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Strawberries are the perfume of the produce section right now in our Florida groceries.  I love this time of year with all the U-Pick farms, the road side stands filled with just picked berries.  With the inspiration from the berries and the beautiful earthiness of the fresh walnuts I thought making a pastry would be perfect.  To emphasize seasonal I wanted to use a floral essence, so I added the lavender.  Perfectly seasonal!

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Ingredients

  • 16 ounces strawberries, cleaned and sliced
  • 16 ounces of puff pastry sheets (2 sheets)
  • 1 cup California Walnuts, chopped
  • Lavender Pastry Cream
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash

 Lavender Simple Syrup:

  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • ½ teaspoon dried lavender

 In a small sauce pan but sugar, water and lavender in and bring to a rapid simmer for about one minute reducing to about half.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. 

 Lavender Farmers Cheese Pastry Cream

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 7.8 ounces farmers cheese (8 is fine, but the package I used was 7.8, either way)
  • 2 tablespoon lavender simple syrup
  • 2 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

 Add the softened cheese to a bowl and beat until combined.  Add in remaining ingredients and whip until the mixture is light and fluffy, and completely mixed. Place in piping bag if you like, but a spoon will work just as well.

Method: 

Preheat oven to 400.

On a floured surface, roll one puff pastry sheet out to be 1/8 inch height to about a 12×10 square.  Cut with a knife down the center so there are now two 6×10 sections.  Trim a triangle from the corners of each section.  Cut angled strips down the 10 inch length of the dough, about ½ inch apart, make the same number of cuts on each side.  

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Pipe or spread a ¼ of the pastry cream down the center of the each piece.  Top with 4 ounces of cut and cleaned strawberries and then sprinkle ¼ cup of walnuts down the center.
 

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Make a fold with the top piece of the pastry over the berries. Starting at one end, fold the pastry strips over the filling, alternating sides, to cover the filling.  Place on a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with egg wash.

Repeat with remaining cut section of pastry, and then repeat with the second sheet of pastry dough.  Place two braided pastries on each baking sheets.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until pastries are golden brown.  Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Cut each piece in half or in quarters depending how much your stomach is growling.

Makes 8 large or 16 regular size pastries.

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These pastries could be a little sweeter for some, but a simple sanding sugar after brushing them with the egg wash would do the trick.  The lavender is very delicate, not overpowering at all- infact, one may not even notice.  The California Walnuts earthiness were the perfect complement to the light floral, the farmers cheese and to the sweet strawberries. 

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As #BrunchWeek comes to a close today, leaving us with a library of ways to treat the Mom’s of the world tomorrow- I wanted to shout out again to all the participants of #BrunchWeek, and especially Terri of Love and Confections, and Christine of Cook The Story who made it all happen- You ladies are Fabulicious!

Join us at the #PinChat today, May 11th from 2-3 Eastern, for a chance to win prizes and participate in #BrunchWeek closing ceremonies!!  Until then- take a look at all this mouth watering goodness!

Brunch Drink Recipes

Frozen Grasshopper by Amanda’s Apron
Gin and Sparkling Red Wine Cocktail by Take A Bite Out Of Boca
Chocolate Trifle {kid friendly} by Real Housemoms
Vanilla Pomegranate Mojito by Noshing With The Nolands
Cherry Sangria by Cooking In Stilettos

Potato Brunch Recipes

Parmesan Roasted Red Potatoes with Vidalia Onions and Thyme by Cook the Story
A Salad Called German Potato by The Vintage Cook

Breads, Grains, Cereals and Pancake-type Yums

Chocolate Chip Craisin Granola Bars by Big Bear’s Wife
Dandelion Pesto Pizza by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Biscoff Walnut Granola Parfaits by White LIghts on Wednesday
Stuffed French Toast by poet in the pantry
Pina Colada French Toast by The Domestic Mama & The Village Cook
Sourdough Epi Baguettes with Rhubarb Blood Orange Ginger Jam by Spontaneous Tomato
Carrot Cake Pancakes by Love and Confections

Spreads and Dips for Brunch

Strawberry-Kiwi Jam by Sweet Remedy
Grilled Pineapple and Walnut Dip by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner

Brunch Dessert Recipes

Raspberry Sweet Rolls with Meyer Lemon Glaze by by Cravings of a Lunatic

WESitval and the Coca-Cola Float Cupcakes

Last week was my husband Sir Wes’ birthday or Birfday as he calls it.  It also happened to be my niece and nephews spring break, who were more than happy to come all the way from South Carolina to celebrate WEStival with us.   What kid wouldn’t want to go to a birthday party at Walt Disney World.  Forget the bowling alley/Putt Putt/Chucky Cheese parties, WEStival was where it was at. 

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Sir Wes had only made two requests for his birthday, first was to spend time with the family and the other was that he wanted Coca-Cola Cake for his birthday dessert; a child hood favorite of his.  Both of these requests were easy and fun to fulfill. 

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 We spent the few days hopping between the parks and the pools, kids and adults having a blast.  A little of this-

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 And a little of that-

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 Coca-Cola Float Cupcakes- recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess

Coca-Cola Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup Coca-Cola

 Coca-Cola Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. cocoa
  • 3 Tbsp. Coca-Cola
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

 Marshmallow Buttercream:

  • 7 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup confectioner sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup mini marshmallows

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For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, beat the egg, buttermilk and vanilla. In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa, marshmallows and Coca-Cola, heating it gently. Pour the warm butter mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring well, and then add the liquid ingredients mixing until the batter is well blended.

Pour into a muffin tin that has been greased or lined with papers filling each well ¾ quarters and bake for 20-25 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

For the glaze:

Sift the confectioner sugar into a bowl and set aside. In a heavy-based saucepan, combine the butter, Coca-Cola and cocoa and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla, and spoon in the sieved icing sugar, whisking well, until you’ve got a smooth, spreadable, but still runny, icing.

Either dip the cupcake tops into the pot of glaze, or carefully pour a tablespoon of glaze over the cupcakes while they are still warm, and leave to cool

For the marshmallow buttercream:

Mix together the softened butter, confectioner sugar, vanilla and milk until the buttercream frosting is a smooth consistency.

Gently melt the marshmallows in a glass bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds on 50% power until they have slightly melted and started to rise up.   Add the melted marshmallows to the buttercream frosting, and whip until completely combined; the frosting should be thick and light.  Spoon the frosting into a piping bag with your favorite style tip and pipe over the cooled, glazed cupcakes.  Garnish with cherries, sprinkles, nuts or your favorite float topping.

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The Coca-Cola Cupcakes came out extrmely moist, and very suitable for travel.  Even a few days later the treats are still delectable.

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Needless to say, we had a great spring break, and a fabulous WEStival!  Hopefully Sir Sully and Lady Corree are not going to be disappointed in the next birthday party they attend.

Smores Brownies

Ahhhh, the Florida winter weather.  Let me pick out what shorts to put on today, ones that match my favorite tan flip flops.  All while I am watching the news reports of the snow storm that has struck the northeast United States.  Piles of snow, city transportation suspended, flights cancelled, tired commuters sleeping on the airport floor- how many Facebook snow related pictures are on your news feed?   Admittedly, I am super jealous- would love to take a sled ride down the hill I grew up with in my Philadelphia back yard.

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Camping season, fire pit season, or even just soft blanket season come unexpectedly in Florida, and is gone before you know it.  I love cool nights that justify buying leather boots or a great looking jacket.  Sitting outside by our fire pit that has only been used a handful of times is a great way to end the day.  When there is a chance of winter visiting Florida, I grab on tight-  boots, fires, blankets, comfort dinners and how could Smores be ignored.

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Generally there is a box of brownie mix in our cabinet, stemming from my inability to resist 2 for 1 at the grocery.  Pastry Chefs may balk, but honestly, I have yet to meet a bad brownie.  Bad Cookies, cakes, ect- yes, I have tasted several that I put down with displeasure, but not the brownie.  Brownies are simply never bad.    With a cool night upon us, I pulled out the box mix and grabbed the smores components that I keep for in hopes of an impromptu fire pit evening.  They came out delicious!  A tall glass of ice cold milk and every bite was a treat.

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Ingredients

  • ½ stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup graham crumbs, about 6 crackers
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 box favorite brownie mix, or make your favorite recipe
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows

Directions

Preheat oven to 325.  Combine the melted butter, graham crumbs and brown sugar in a bowl and blend well.  Coat 9×9 brownie pan with cooking spray and spread graham crust evenly on the bottom of the pan.  Prepare brownies as directed on the box or in the recipe and pour on top of graham crust.  Bake  33-36 minutes or as directed.  Remove from oven when the center of the brownies is cooked, try sticking a toothpick in to see if it comes out clean.  Turn the oven to broil and sprinkle the marshmallows around the pan.  Place the pan back in the oven and watch until the marshmallows are evenly toasted.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Cut into squares as small or big as you like and enjoy!

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There may not be any sleds or even firepits in my plans for the weekend but the memories of multiple snow suit changes, mugs of hot cocoa and races down the hill will bring a smile when I see the 100th picture of snow in my Facebook feed.

May you enoy the snow or escape the snow this weekend- either way, stay warm in the heart!

Chili Butterscotch Squash Truffles

It tis the season…Pumpkin season.  I had to get in one pumpkin recipe before the Christmas extravaganza started.   At one time I loved all things pumpkin, but I am almost, a tiny bit, almost.., sick of all the pumpkin going on.   Anyone else feel that way?  Pumpkin is the fall version of Sliders….You can’t escape it.  Fortunalty I am only “kinda” tired of it, I still have some love for the orange squash.

Truffles are a great way to play with flavor combinations.  Small enough to not commit to entire desserts, and at the same time big enough to be impactful with strong flavor profiles.

Chili Pumpkin Truffles- Modified from Whole Foods recipe

  • 2 ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped gingersnaps, about 6 cookies
  • ¼ canned pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup finely chopped graham crackers, 2 whole wafers
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • Butterscotch morsels

Start by melting 1/2 cup of the chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat, stirring often to keep the chocolate from burning. Transfer to a large bowl.  Combine gingersnap crumbs, pumpkin, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, chili powder, salt and cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Transfer to a shallow bowl, cover and chill until just solid enough to roll into balls, at least 2 hours.

Line a large sheet tray with parchment paper. Melt remaining 2 cups chocolate and transfer to a small, deep bowl. Roll 1 heaping teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture into a ball in your hands, then drop into the chocolate. Working quickly, gently spoon chocolate over to coat. Using a small spoon or fork, lift the truffle out of the chocolate, shake off excess and transfer to prepared sheet tray. Dollop a bit of extra chocolate on any parts that remain exposed, then sprinkle a few gingersnap or graham cracker crumbs over the top, if you like. Repeat process with remaining pumpkin mixture and chocolate, then chill truffles until chocolate is completely set, about 1 hour. Melt Butterscotch morsels and drizzle over top of truffles.

Truffles are fun for the kids to help with as well, rolling balls and dipping into the chocolate.  Great way to keep them occupied while the game is on!

Hopefully you aren’t “pumpkinned” out yet and left room for one more recipe!!  Great idea for hostess gifts over Thanksgiving!