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Houston, TX
Just your atypical hispanic male living in the big city

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Scrumptious Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

Well the holidays are here and its time for much food hedonism as can be expected. This recipe I have done a couple of times since I came across it 10 years ago. I don't normally make this all the time as it is very rich, but oh so good.

Keep in mind that the best thing about this recipe are the pecans. You can avoid the pecans, but it adds an additional texture and depth of flavor that people just can't stop eating it. I also have to say that I prefer fresh pumpkin. I used roasted pumpkins from the same steps that I had in a previous post.


2 1/2 cups pecan shortbread cookie crumbs (20 cookies or 2 pkgs of cookie)
4 tbsp melted butter
3 pkgs (8 oz ea) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 cups (16 oz or 1 can) roasted pumpkin
4 eggs
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup whipping cream

Heat the oven at 350 degrees. While that is heating up, crush the cookies into crumbs. Mix cookie crumbs with butter. Press evenly of the bottom and sides on a ungreased springform pan (9 x 3 inches). Bake for 10 minutes take out of the oven and allow to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl. Mix this on medium speed until smooth and fluffy.

Beat in the pumpkin and spices until mixed. Beat in eggs one at a time on low speed.

Pour over baked cookie crust. Place into the oven and bake about 1 1/4 hour or until center is firm. You might notice that it starts to break a little. This is another way to tell if the cheesecake is done.

Take out and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or until chilled.

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and add the sugar on a medium or low heat. Add the pecans. Continue to stir and allow the sugar to melt until a golden brown. Move to a cookie sheet and allow to harden. Once hardened, coarsely shop the pecans.

Add the pecans to the cooled pumpkin cheesecake. This is great with fresh whipped cream. A great treat for any day!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Making a Classic Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving

So it's Thanksgiving week and time for baking. I do love some pumpkin, but I prefer to have fresh pumpkin pie as opposed to the canned stuff. Like most of the post, I do like fresh items as there is so much more flavor than what is typically expected.

My Grandma used to make her own pumpkin pies, but also made many pumpkin empanadas. She used to make fresh pumpkin and roast her pumpkins in the oven. There is nothing like the aroma of roasting pumpkins in the house. It reminds me so much of being at Grandma's house! You can always use the fresh Roasted Pumpkin like I did when making this pie.


9 inch One Crust Pie
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
16 oz fresh pumpkin (or canned pumpkin)
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk

So most recipes call for canned pumpkin. I found this recipe a long time ago using fresh pumpkin. As stated earlier, there is something about having roasted pumpkin added to a recipe. You can puree your pumpkin, but if you remove from the heat and mash it when it is still warm, the pumpkin will be easier to mash.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Make the pastry as directed (especially if you are using a frozen pie crust).

Beat eggs slightly with a whisk or hand beater. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Place the pie plate onto a cookie sheet. This prevents spilling onto the oven. Pour filling into the pie plate.

Place into the oven and allow to bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350. Bake about 45 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Refrigerate about 4 hours or until chilled. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Roasting Fresh Pumpkins and Pumpkin Seeds

Ever roasted pumpkins? Well, when I was a kid, Grandma would roast pumpkins of different kinds with many variations. Mostly, she would use piloncillo to sweeten a large pumpkin. Most Spanish speaking countries call it panela, but in Mexico it is called piloncillo. Piloncillo is basically an unrefined sugar cane mostly found in a block form.

For the pumpkins I am using, I prefer to use small, sweet pumpkins. These have natural sugar and are rather sweet. So I don't add the piloncillo to these pumpkins. I use these pumpkins for normal baking instead of the canned stuff.

First, start by cutting the top off of the pumpkins. This makes it easier when you are slicing open the pumpkins.

Next, cut open the pumpkins. Scoop out all the seeds and place off to the side. Take out the veins that are attached to the seeds. Make sure you scoop out all the veins and seeds from the pumpkins. Each pumpkin half should be placed onto a foil wrapped cookie sheet. Place the pumpkins into a preheated 400 degree oven.

Allow to roast for about 30 to 45 minutes or until you see the skin starting to shrink away from the meat of the pumpkin. You will notice that these pumpkins have caramelized somewhat. This is great as the natural sugars have just helped in the cooking process. Notice that I have taken the pumpkins onto a wire rack and allow it to fully cool. The skin will pull away from the meat and you can scoop out the pumpkin from the outer skin.


Now, we have the pumpkin seeds. I really do love pumpkin seeds especially with some simple salt and olive oil.

Make sure you fully rinse the seeds in cold water. Place them onto cookie sheets with paper towels lined on the bottom of the cookie sheets. Allow to air dry overnight so that they can evenly dry.

The following day, the pumpkin seeds are dry. Some of the seeds may stick, but you can just flick them off and unstuck them.

In each tray, sprinkle some olive oil and sea salt making sure that the seeds are coated well. In a preheated oven around 375 degrees, add the pumpkin seeds to the oven. Allow to roast for about 30 minutes. Make sure you are checking the seeds as you want to avoid having burnt pumpkin seeds. After for about 15 minutes, toss the seeds and place back into the oven. Once you notice that the seeds are somewhat brown and take it out. Allow to cool. These are rather addictive!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Vegetarian Chili

So it's that time of year. Time for soup, savory desserts like Banana Nut Bread and of course chili. There are so many types of chili, but very few recipes for veggie chili. This recipe is something I came up with that is truly vegetarian and at the same time rather flavorful.

You can add additional items like bell pepper, corn, black beans and other such items to the chili. This is especially when you are making a chili for vegetarians. I have cooked it with red and yellow bell pepper. When you do that though, the chili becomes a little sweet for my taste. I don't cook with green bell pepper all the time as this affects M's acid, so I just leave that out.


1 large yellow onion
1 small red onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can light red kidney beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
4 cups pinto beans
1 can chili ready tomatoes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp chili powder
black pepper and salt to taste

Start by dicing up the onions. Then in a large enough heated pot, add the olive oil. Add the onions to the heated pot.

While the onions are cooking, add the garlic. Continue to cook until the onions are translucent.

Add the light red, dark red, and pinto beans to the cooked onions. Now with pinto beans, I use pinto beans that I have cooked previously. If you don't have fresh pinto beans, then canned will do. I would rinse them as I normally do when making anything like chili.


After adding the beans and chili tomatoes, add the vegetable stock to the chili. Bring this to a boil first (about 10 minutes), then bring down to a medium heat. Allow this to cook for about 15 minutes.


Add the spices to the chili. Allow to continue to cook for another 30 minutes.

 Again, when I cook chili, I normally like to cook it a day or two before I actually eat it. This lends for the spices to meld together and the flavor is fantastic.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Key Lime Pie Tartlets

It's almost the end of summer and the end of enjoying the heat. NOT! Well in our area, its always hot and this recipe is refreshing while poolside. I have had this recipe years ago and make it sparingly. I am a stickler for anything authentic. For Key Lime Pie, I prefer it to be rather tart. With the addition of sour cream, it maintains the tart flavor that you find in Key Lime Pie.

For this simple recipe, I opted to make a double batch. I prefer to have it in single tartlets as people can enjoy their own individualized pie.
2 cups key lime juice (can be regular lime juice, but key lime juice is ideal)
2 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup sour cream
4 large eggs
24 small graham cracker crusts
8 ounces whipped topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Blend key lime juice with the sweetened condensed milk.

Add the sour cream. Beat for about a minute when the mixture is blended well.
In a separate container, beat the eggs, then add to the key lime mixture and beat for 1 minute. 

Pour mixture into the graham cracker crust. 
Bake for 10 minutes. Make sure you cook half of them first. If you add all of the key lime tartlets at once, this would extend the cooking time. Remove from the oven and cool pie completely, about 1 hour. 

Top with whipped topping and put in freezer. 

Freeze at least 3 hours. Serve straight from freezer. You can add additional whipped cream to each tartlet and also freeze, but I prefer to add it after the fact.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mexican Style Bread Pudding (NOT Capirotada)

So this is a different take on the usual Bread Pudding that we are all used to having. In a previous post, I gave my rendition of Bourbon Bread Pudding. The following is the same recipe, but a couple of changes here and there. 

Now normally, mexican bread pudding or capirotada, is more savory than sweet. My grandmother used to make capirotada all the time and honestly, I HATED IT. She would put the usuals like raisins, carrots, bread, milk and then top it with cheddar cheese. I just couldn't eat it and refuse to till this day.

For this recipe, I am using bolillos. A little history here, did you know that bolillos were actually influenced by the French? Mexico at one time did have a monarchy in King Maximilian I before the famous Battle of Puebla also known as Cinco de Mayo that we are all familiar with (thanks to Benito Juarez). They ended up creating mariachis, paper mache, and of course bolillos.


12 to 14 cups French bread (or bolillos)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 cups whole milk
6 large eggs
1 8 oz bottle mexican sweet and condensed milk
5 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
a couple of tbsp mexican cajeta (a mexican style caramel)

First, I am using mexican bolillos. These are basically french rolls. Tear them up and place into a bowl or pan and allow to dry for a short while. Every so often mix it up as the open air allows the bread to harden.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease your pan with the butter. Normally, you would use a large 9x13 casserole dish. I am using a disposable pan and once its is sufficiently covered, I place off to the side.

Combine with a whisk the heavy cream, milk, sweet condensed milk, and eggs in a large bowl. I am using sweet condensed milk instead of sugar since it will make it taste that much different. When I was growing up, my grandmother used to use mexican condensed milk. It was great and was a little sweeter than your normal sweet condensed milk.

 Next add all of the spices to the liquid mixture.Whisk assuring that the spices mix well.

Unlike the Bourbon Bread Pudding, add the raisins to your bread mixture. I personally like to have both regular raisins and dried cranberries.

Pour the cream mixture over the bread, and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for about 35 minutes. Notice that I have placed all of the bread mixture in a disposable pan. Some of you know how I am all about making it easy for the cook.

Now drizzle a little of the cajeta over the bread pudding. Cover in foil. Now place into the oven allowing to cook and set, for about 50 minutes. Check to make sure its set. If you want a nice crust, take off the foil and allow to continue to cook for another 20 minutes.


Take out of the oven and you are ready to serve. If you want, add a little more cajeta to your bread pudding. What's the harm?

BTW, I did have someone have to do quality control. Go fig on that one. We had this for a gathering at the house, and from what everyone said, it was damn good!!!