Pumpkin Tres Leches

beautiful-cake

Pumpkin tres leches cake is a fresh twist on a Cuban classic that is the perfect dessert for this Thanksgiving or holiday season. I have been bitten by the pumpkin bug, and I am relishing unabashedly in fall flavor goodness. I made this pumpkin tres leches cake last year for Thanksgiving on a whim- haphazardly dumping ingredients I had on hand together…and behold! My glorious creation entered into this world doused in tres leches and ready to be dressed with whipped cream and warm caramel.

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My recipe for pumpkin tres leches is semi-homemade, which means it is easier for you to make my friend. Make this dish a day in advance so you can relax and simply unleash the deliciousness on your family and friends stress free. I chose to serve this with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice since it was the easiest option, but you can dress this pumpkin tres leches up with merengue or whipped cream and a caramel sauce.

Pumpkin Tres Leches

  • 1 box French vanilla Duncan Hines cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 15 oz can pureed pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • ½ cup milk

Preheat your oven to 350F, and grease a Pyrex dish well (I used a 9×9). Sift the cake mix into a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, melted butter, spices, and pumpkin puree. Mix well using a hand mixer or KitchenAid being sure to scrape along the sides of the bowl. Pour the batter into the greased Pyrex dish and smooth out evenly. Bake the pumpkin tres leches for 35-40 minutes or until the center is set.

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Pour the condensed milk, milk, and evaporated milk into a container and shake well. Poke 50-70 holes into the pumpkin tres leches using a toothpick or wooden skewer. Slowly pour nearly two-thirds of the tres leches over the entire cake so it can be gradually absorbed and does not pool. If there seems to be too much milk simply pour it off or wait a few minutes before adding more.

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Tightly cover the cake and place in the refrigerator overnight.  Reserve and refrigerate the final third to use as garnish for plating.Cut the pumpkin tres leches into even slices. Pour 1 ounce of the tres leches onto the serving plate and plate the slice.

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Add a dollop of whipped cream or alternatively top with a dollop of meringue and torch to a golden brown. I made the burnt sugar decor by heating sugar on the stove top till bubbling and golden. The directions can be found here in my Cuban flan recipe.

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Healthy Baked Meatballs & Spinach

Meaballs steaming-meatballs

Healthy baked meatballs with spinach is an easy semi-homemade dinner that can be modified to feed 2 to 10. Dinner can be so daunting after a long day of work, but oh so rewarding when compared to the alternative. I am all about saving time in the kitchen, so I don’t mind cutting corners here and there. I have a lot going on with school, work, and blogging- so while making my own sauce and pasta would be swell- it ain’t happening right now.

Meatballs-to-bakeMix-Ingredients-VerticalBaked-meatballs

This recipe is for freshly made meatballs- healthily baked, mixed with an entire bag of fresh chopped spinach, and a store-bought light alfredo sauce with some added seasoning. I think the fresh bread crumbs are an absolute must here. I happened to have a two-day old egg knot roll from Publix that I tossed in the food processor . Really any bread will do- even regular whole wheat sandwich bread. The fresh spinach adds healthy antioxidants and that bright green which pops out on the plate. I baked the healthy meatballs till they were just cooked- you don’t want to overdo it since they’ll bake again with the pasta.

Baked-Dinner

 Regular store-bought light alfredo sauce is given a little love with dried Italian seasoning and some nutmeg. I used part-skim mozzarella on top and baked the meatballs and spinach topped with cheese to a delicious golden brown. I think this would also taste great tossed together and sprinkled with parmesan reggiano cheese for a nice bite. Bring dinner back!

Baked Meatballs with Spinach

1 lb ground beef or a mix of beef and pork sausage
Approx. heaping ½ cup fresh bread crumbs
1 onion 4-5 garlic cloves
¼ cup parsley roughly chopped
¼ tsp ground oregano
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
1 egg

For the Sauce: 

1 bag fresh spinach
1 container spaghetti
Light Alfredo Sauce
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp Italian seasoning
1 cup Mozzarella Cheese

Preheat your oven to 400F. Put the beef and pork in a large stainless steel bowl. In a food processor, place torn day old or stale bread into the processor first. If you pulsed the onion and garlic first, the container would be wet and the bread crumbs would stick, so logically- bread first! Place the bread crumbs in the bowl with the meat. Chop onion and garlic in the Cuisinart Food Processor. Add chopped parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, pepper, salt, and the egg. Mix ingredients and form into meatballs of your size preference; place on parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes.

Meatball-Ingredients Mix-Ingredients-for-Meatballs

Boil well-salted water for pasta with a splash of olive oil. Place entire bag of fresh spinach in a colander. When the water is about to boil place the colander of spinach in the hot water and stir lightly till spinach is blanched. I’m all about saving time, and flash cooking the spinach in the colander is brilliant because then you don’t have to fish the spinach out of the water! Press a large wooden spoon against the spinach to remove excess water. Set aside till cool and finely chop, draining off any excess water.

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Put pasta in the same boiling water with the same wooden spoon across the top vertically (I swear this prevents the water from boiling over!!). Boil pasta as directed; drain in colander. Put pasta, chopped spinach, sauce, and meatballs in the large pot and mix. Pour into cast iron skillet and top with cheese. Bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden; garnish the baked meatballs with chopped basil and enjoy!

 

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Healthy Garden Pizza

                  Healthy Garden Pizza

Fresh pizza dough, colorful healthy toppings, and bubbling melted mozzarella cheese all work to create a tasty semi-homemade pizza for two or a crowd.  In order to maintain my sanity with school and work full-time, I like to make semi-homemade recipes that are good for you, taste great, and above all simple. This recipe for healthy garden pizza is an easy and quick recipe that is worth the little extra step here and there. My local grocery store, Publix, sells fresh pizza dough made daily in their bakery. These delicious balls of dough allow you to still get that quality homemade taste that is lacking in the canned variety, without going through the effort of making your own dough on a busy weeknight.

          Hot Italian Turkey Sausage          steamed broccoli

 I couldn’t find my rolling pin, so I hand-stretched and tossed the pizza dough like those guys you watch at an Italian restaurant- minus the finesse. Lightly sprinkle flour on the surface you are using to work the dough into your desired shape.  Before I laid my dough on the baking sheet I added a scant amount of cornmeal for crunch and to prevent sticking to the aluminum foil (I ran out of parchment paper). I let the dough for my healthy garden pizza rest under a damp paper towel while I prepared the toppings for assembly and preheated the oven.

Seasoned Dough IMG_1108 Pizza ready for the oven

I happened to have onions, black olives, steamed broccoli, and hot Italian turkey sausage on hand, but these easy homemade pizzas would go great with any toppings of your choice. I crumbled the contents of one hot Italian turkey sausage link and cooked them through, chopped my onion, and halved the black olives. Instead of a rich tomato sauce, I opted for a very thin coating of light creamy alfredo on top of the well-seasoned dough. The easy pizza was lightly sauced, topped with veggies, sausage and cheese, and small little dollops of creamy ricotta throughout for richness before being popped into the oven.

                  Pizza Pie Perfection

The pizza was hot and delicious and tasted healthy. Not like a heavy delivery pizza that weighs you down. The abundance of fresh veggies and light sauce helped keep the flavors light and refreshing. This garden pizza is just one of many varieties to enjoy. The best thing about this pizza is the savory seasoning on the dough and its chewy, light texture. Next time I’ll add lots of red pepper flakes. Take back dinner friends, and cook at home!

Healthy Garden Pizza

Serves 2-3 generously

Slice of pie

1 ball fresh pizza dough from your local bakery

Brush with olive oil

Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning and Salt to taste

½ cup light Creamy Alfredo Sauce

3-4 ounces crumbled Hot Italian Turkey Sausage

¼ chopped Red Onion (or to your liking)

4 ounces Broccoli, steamed

1/3 cup Extra-Large Black Olives, halved

1 cup 2% Mozzarella Cheese

6-8 tsp Part-Skim Ricotta dolloped on pizza

Preheat oven to 350. Roll out pizza dough or hand-toss and stretch dough to your desired shape. Make sure your surface is clean, sprinkle with flour if needed. Scatter cornmeal on baking sheet to prevent sticking and add crunch. Lay pizza dough flat and cover with damp paper towel. Crumble and cook sausage till cooked through, dice onion and halve black olives. Lightly brush dough with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian herbs, salt, and pepper. Thinly spread alfredo sauce, add toppings, cheese, and a little more toppings. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until crust and cheese are golden and browning.

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