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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Love To open The Windows & Put On A Sweater!

Autumn in the Ozarks

This is one of my favorite moments of the year. I love when it starts to cool down over night and we can turn off the A/C and let that wonderful breeze blow through the open windows all day and night. I love having to wear sleeves in the morning, but still pulling off flip-flops all day. The crispness in the air signifies, not only the change in season, but the beginning of the most fun, and sometimes hectic time of year. Soon it will fall festivals and pumpkin carvings, jumping in piles of multi-hued leaves, earlier dusk and the smell of cinnamon in the air. It is also the beginning of what I refer to as the "candy season." While I turn into a baking fanatic, trying new cookies and cakes and reviving old favorites, the holidays bring with them a ton of candy. From Halloween to Easter, we almost can't get rid of it all. Just when the glucose levels start to level out, there's another school party or family gathering that inevitably ends with more bags, boxes or tins of candy!!
It's ok, though. We portion it out as much as we can, without disrupting our daily routine too much. Then, of course, after bed time every night, whole handfuls disappear "mysteriously," with help from my husband and I. The funny part is, the kids are on to Daddy, but they think I'm a sugar-Nazi, so they never suspect me of candy-thieving. I'm not under any illusions, though, that just because the baked treats that I can't stop making aren't individually wrapped, doesn't mean they're any more nutritious or less sugary. I just prefer to know that what they're eating was hand-made with love and I know exactly what ingredients are involved.
That being said, I can't wait to try out a recipe for mini pumpkin tarts! My Mom made it years ago and I've always wanted to try it again. The original recipe came from Pampered Chef, but we tweaked it a bit. Here's the recipe, and I'll post pictures as soon as I get a chance.

Spiced Pumpkin Tartlets

1 package (15 ounces) refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts) (Or You could sub Phyllo Mini Tart Shells & Follow Directions for Prep)
1 can (15 ounces) solid pack pumpkin
2 cups thawed, frozen whipped topping
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 package (3.4 ounces) cheesecake instant pudding and pie filling
Powdered sugar (optional)
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 small orange (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400ยบF. Allow pie crusts to stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Roll 1 crust into a 12-inch circle. Using a scalloped bread tube, cut out 12 pastry pieces (9 from outer edge and 3 from center of pastry circle); press 1 into each cup of a stoneware muffin pan. Prick bottom of pastry with pastry tool. Bake 14-18 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes. Remove tart shells from pan to cooling rack; cool completely. Repeat with remaining crust to make 24 tart shells.

2. Meanwhile, combine pumpkin, whipped topping and spice blend in a bowl; whisk until smooth. Add pudding mix; whisk until smooth and thickened. Refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Lightly sprinkle tart shells with powdered sugar, if desired. Attach open star tip to a decorator; fill with pumpkin mixture. Pipe into tart shells. Chop pecans; sprinkle over tartlets. Zest orange; sprinkle zest over tartlets, if desired.

Yield: 24 tartlets

Tart shells and filling can be prepared up to 1 day in advance. Store shells in resealable plastic food storage bag at room temperature. Store filling, covered, in the refrigerator; fill tart shells just before serving.

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