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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie with Pecan Crust A feel good alternative Gluten Free and Sugar Free


Its coming… It’s here… the most wonderful time of the year, you can drop the ball, and roll around with it or you can just keep it simple and delicious.

No guilt trips, no counting calories, just decide what makes you feel good before, during and after you eat it. I think that will be my mantra for the season and the year to come. I do not know if I will survive but I know that at least by asking this question it will make me chose better options with happy endings and no regrets like this Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie with Pecan Crust. To tell you the truth, when I was creating the recipe I was a little skeptical about if was going to be a recipe that will stand up side by side to all the goodness on a Thanksgiving table. Because after all it is “that time of the year” to be grateful and enjoy.
Trying a slice, this delicious creamy pumpkin pie that made me feel good while eating, before, during and after. I was hooked.


I decided to use simple ingredients, roasting my own pumpkin pure, because that’s the way I like it. Then I made a gluten-free crust, using pecans, almonds, and cinnamon. This is a no-bake filling pie, the only component that needs around 15 minutes of baking its the crust. The rest it’s just mixing and refrigeration.
A few hours later, I had a firm and creamy pumpkin pie, with the nuttiest crust, plus cinnamon and warm spices that scream Thanksgiving. Heck yeah!

I used Svetia to sweeten up the filling, which it gave the filling a natural sweetness. Svetia is a natural plant based sweetener that uses stevia plant extract as base for its sweet source. You can click here for more information. What I like about this settle sweetness is that you can taste the pumpkin flavor in combination with the warm spices with out being overly sweet.

I believe this pie its a great alternative, to include in your holiday season repertoire and feel good about it before, during and after; Or make it to pamper those special guests needs, by making something delicious they will remember.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

For the recipe you will need:

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie with Pecan Crust

A feel good alternative Gluten Free and Sugar Free

Makes a 10”round 2” deep Pie

For the Crust:

1 ¼ cups Raw Almonds
1 ¼ cups Raw Pecans
2 Tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
1 Tablespoon Maple syrup
2 dashes Saigon cinnamon

For the Filling:

1 ¼ cups pumpkin puree* If you need instructions on how to make your own click here
12 oz Cream Cheese room temperature
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract – Nielsen Massey
1 teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon
½ teaspoon Allspice
¼ teaspoon Nutmeg
¼ teaspoon powder ginger
1 pinch of salt.

5-7 Svetia Sweetener envelopes. I will highly recommend to start with 4 envelopes, taste, and then add one envelope at the time according to your taste.

Preparation Method:

1. Make the crust. Preheat the oven at 375F. In a food processor, place the almonds and the pecans. Pulse at least 10 times until resembles coarse sand. Transfer into a bowl and add the coconut oil, the cinnamon and maple syrup. Using your hand, mix well until looks like a coarse paste and when you press it in your hand stays together.


2. Using some coconut oil, rub a 10” ceramic or glass pie dish, and place the nut paste. With your fingers star to evenly distribute the crust. With the help of a flat measuring cup or a flat glass, or ramekin, press some of the crust against the edges of the pie dish leaving about 1/4” all around pie edge.

Pumpkin-Cream-Cheese-Pie-with-Pecan-Glutten-Free-Pecan-Pie-Crust 3. Bake for 12-15 minutes until it has a deep golden mahogany brown.Check the crust at 12 minutes.
If the edges are browning faster than the center of the crust, cover the edges with aluminum foil, lower the temperature for 350 and keep baking the crust for 3-5 minutes until the center looks baked and has a rich toasty nuts color.

4. Remove crust from oven and immediately lightly brush it with some bitten egg wash, to seal the crust. The heat from the crust will cook the egg wash really fast so no worries at all about rawness. This step its very important, because it will avoid the crust from getting soggy once you pour the filling.
Let the crust cool completely on a rack. Meantime start making the filling.


5. On a large bowl place the cream cheese and whip until light and smooth with a hand blender.
6. Add 4 envelopes of Svetia and whip for 1 minute.

Pumpkin-Cream-Cheese-Pie-with-Pecan-Crust-Svetia-Sweetened! 7. Add the pumpkin puree, vanilla, spices and salt whip until well incorporated and fluffy. At this point taste for sweetness. Add 2-3 more envelopes, I used 7 according to how sweet I like it.Pumpkin-Cream-Cheese-Pie-with-Pecan-Crust-No-Bake-Pumpking-filling_Yes-more-please! 8. Once the crust is completely cool, add the pumpkin-cream cheese filling and using an offset spatula, smooth out the top. Place the pie into the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then cover with a plastic wrap and let it set at least 6 hours. It is best if its chilled over night.


9. When ready to serve, whip up some heavy cream, adding a dash of vanilla extract, cinnamon, and some Svetia for sweetness about ½ an envelope, just a hint. and dollop up your pie.

Cut pie slices, cleaning the knife in between each cut, to get a clean nice sharp slice, and serve with a generous spoonful of the cinnamon whipped cream. Enjoy!


This post was sponsored by SVETIA.US
The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*

Thank you SVETIA! for providing the product and sponsorship.

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Day of the Dead Amaranth Skull Cookies


This year to celebrate Day of the Dead, I decided to make some cookies utilizing ingredients that were more commonly used in more traditional Mexican cooking. I used Amaranth and an assortment of seeds and dried fruits to decorate the cookies. Amaranth has being cultivated in Mexico by the Aztecs 8,000 years ago. It was a great source of nutrition for them. The real value on amaranth was and is its seeds. These tiny little seeds are loaded with 12 to 17% protein and are high in lysine and essential amino acids. Amaranth seeds are also high in Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and many more minerals and vitamins. I think we should start looking at this plant and its nutritional value with wider eyes. Puffed amaranth seeds taste like a nutty popcorn. They are soft, tender and hold a great natural flavor.


The intention behind the natural ingredients was to make a delicious cookie without utilizing too much sugar and to avoid the artificial coloring which in my opinion can affect flavor. I left those bright colors for the decorations on the altar and I like to leave the edible food more natural. Beside the looks, these seeds and nuts when baked into the cookies gives them a delicious flavor. I used pepitas for the flower decoration on the eyes, chocolate chips and dry cranberries for the eyeballs. For the teeth: Pine nuts and Sunflower seeds, almonds for the nose, and cashews for the gentlemen’s mustaches. These cookies are just the perfect treat for Day of the Dead. They are sweet but not overly sweet, just the way I like them. Amaranth gives the cookie a great texture and lots of seeds that give flavor and character to this buttery and nutty cookies.

It is really fun to decorate with seeds, utilizing their different shapes and combining colors and textures. Use your imagination and have fun. I think this can be a fun project that can involve your kiddos, whether you believe in tradition or if you are Mexican and have forgotten about this great tradition, this can be a great project to get in touch with your roots and pass along some history and memories with your kids.


Lets get started!, for the cookies you will need…

Day of the Dead Amaranth Skull Cookies

Makes 14-16 / 4″ cookies

For the dough:

2 sticks butter room temperature
1/2 cup melted piloncillo syrup*
1 stick of Mexican Cinnamon
The zest of 1 large lime
The juice of 1/2 lime about 2 teaspoons
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached All purpose flour
1 cup unbleached whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup puffed amaranth

To decorate:

1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon of water
1/4 cup raw pepitas-pumpkin seeds, for around the eyes and nose
1 Tablespoon Raw almonds, for the gentleman nose
2 Tablespoons Pine nuts, for the teeth
1 Tablespoon Cashews, for mustaches
2 Tablespoon Golden Raisins, for eyeballs
1 Tablespoon Cranberries, for eyeballs, lips, and chicks
1 Tablespoon Dark chocolate chips, for eyeballs
1 Tablespoon White chocolate chips, for eyeballs

Preparation method:

1. In a small pot place the piloncillo cone, cinnamon stick and 1/2 cup water. Heat up and bring to slow simmer until all the Piloncillo cone has dissolved, and it resembles to the consistency of a thick syrup almost like honey. Let it cool off while you prepare the rest of the steps. See picture below.

2. In a medium size bowl, using a hand mixer, whip the butter until pale. Add the lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract, and the cooled Piloncillo syrup. Whip for 2 more minutes with the hand mixer.

Day-of-the-Death_Amaranth-cookies-whip-butter-lemon-zest-and-piloncillo-syrupDay-of-the-Death_Amaranth-cookies-Whiping-the-butter-for-cookies3. Sift both flours and salt over the butter mixture. Using the hand blender on low, mix until flour is incorporated, about 15 seconds. Add the puffed amaranth and whip for 5 seconds until its incorporated. Do not over mix.

Day-of-the-Death_Amaranth-cookies-sift-the-flours Day-of-the-Death_Amaranth-cookies-Puffed-amaranth
4. Dump the cookie mixture into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. With a flat spatula spread the cookie dough into an even rectangle. Place another piece of parchment on top of the spread out cookie dough. With a rolling-pin evenly flatten the dough until it’s about 3/4″ thick.


5. Carefully slide the papered cookie dough into the baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, 30 minutes its best.
6. Once the cookie dough is chilled, prepare a baking sheet lined with a silpad, or parchment paper. Place the cookie dough into a flat clean surface, peel the top parchment paper and cut out the cookies with a skull shaped cookie cutter. Place the shaped dough into the tray about 1/2 inch separation in between each cookie. By now you should have about 14-15 uncooked cookies. Gather the rest of the dough and gently press it together, place the parchment paper on top, roll it up and refrigerate for next batch.Day-of-the-Death_Amaranth-cookies-making-cookies-cut-out-shapes

7. Now the FUN begins! brush each cookie with some egg wash and start decorating the cookies. Make sure when you place each seed to GENTLY press into the cookie. See picture below.


8. Final, lightly brush the cookies for a second time with egg wash. This will protect the seeds from burning when baking and it will give the cookies a beautiful glossy finish. Place the cookie tray in the coolest part of your refrigerator for about 15 minutes before baking.

9. Pre-heat  the  oven at 375F / 190C
10. Remove cookies from refrigerator and Bake for 15-18 minutes. Check cookies at 13 minutes and rotate the pan, so they brown evenly, give them another 2-5 minutes to finishing cooking. At this point, Keep an eye on them, to pull them right when they look golden brown, check the bottom of one cookie it should be deep golden brown, and the seeds look toasty. By now, your house smells fragrant, buttery and citric. Smell is always a good indicator when food is done : )
11.Remove the tray from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for another 2-3 more minutes until they firm up and are ready to handle. With a cookie spatula, gently transfer them to a cooling rack.Please eat a cookie NOW! Once they are completely cool, keep them on an airtight container. These Amaranth Skull Cookies last for 4-5 days, (if you are lucky) They are great for breakfast with a cup of tea or coffee, or ideal for an afternoon pick me up snack.


Day-of-the-Death_Dia-de-los-Muertos_Amaranth Skull Cookies_Calaveras_y diablitos Yes,-more-Please!


The Day of the Dead is coming soon, starting October 31st with All Saints Eve, November 1st All Saints Day and ending November 2nd with All Soul’s Day. I have written a previous post with the origins and history about Day of the Dead, and this beautiful Mexican tradition. Dia de los Muertos, It is not only about the cool and colorful looking skulls, It has a deeper meaning with strong roots and traditions since pre columbian times. If you want to know more about it, please check this previous post that also includes a great recipe for Pan de Muerto and the easiest recipe for Sugar Skulls!

 If you want to learn more about it click here.

Feliz Dia de los Muertos, Let’s celebrate life after dead!

Music Pairing: La Llorona- Eugenia Leon

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Matcha Streusel Pumpkin Bread



October is here and I can’t wait for pumpkinized everything. My primary pumpkin craving is pumpkin bread (delicious moist and spiced). So, here is my spin for this season. Its delicious and a new flavor combination for you to try.

The pumpkin flavor with Matcha is like having tea within your slice. The Matcha green tea powder, tames the sweet sweet notes and enhances the pumpkin, and the spices. These are the ingredients that ordinarily don’t meet in a recipe and come from opposite sides of the planet. Sometimes thats the kind of combo that we need. Matcha Streusel Pumpkin Bread will pumpkinize your tea time. Enjoy!

Happy Fall and stay tuned for Octoberfest! Pretzels, sausage, and beer recipes coming up soon!



Matcha Streusel Pumpkin Bread

Makes 1 loaf 9″x5″ or 10″x5″ or  about 24 muffins

Dry ingredients:

1 Unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cups of turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 -1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Wet ingredients:

1-1/2 cups roasted pumpkin
2 eggs room temperature
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup natural Bulgarian yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the streusel:

1/2 cup Unbleached all purpose flour
1/8 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons organic Matcha powder
1/4 cup roughly chopped pecans
6 tablespoons butter room temperature.


Preheat oven at 375F
1. Prepare the matcha streusel, with a fork, combine all the ingredients with the softened butter until the mixture resembles a coarse lumpy dough. refrigerate while you prepare the rest…

2. In a large mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients except for the sugar. Whisk.
3. On a medium size bowl combine all wet ingredients, mix well add the sugar whisk until well combined.
4. Combine wet into dry.
5. Butter up a 10″x 5″ loaf pan, lined up with a piece of parchment paper long enough to hang about 4-5 inches on each side. (See picture below)
6. Pour batter into the mold and cover completely with the matcha streusel mixture. Lightly press so the crumbs stay attached to the top.

7. Bake at 350F for the first 30 min.- Check your bread at 30 minutes mark and tent it with a piece of aluminum foil shiny side up, to prevent he streusel to over-brown . Lower the temperature to 325F and bake for another 25-30 minutes.
8. Passed the 50 minutes mark, check near the center with a toothpick to check for doneness. Toothpick should come out clean with a few moist crumbs attached.
Remove from oven and cool it on a rack for 20 minutes, before slicing.
Once cool, slice it and enjoy!!!




Store the bread in a piece of parchment paper and plastic wrap. It tastes better the next day!!!.. keep it safe and away from temptation… It will last for about a week, no need to refrigerate.
This recipe will work for muffins. Divide the batter into cupcake molds lined with cupcake liners, fill up a bit over 1/2 way and add 1 heaping tablespoon of matcha streusel, you will need to make a double batch of the streusel. Bake at 325F for about 20-25 minutes.PUMPKIN-BREAD-with-MATCHA-STREUSEL_slices

Music Pairing: The Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, tonight

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Thanksgiving Crostatas Pecan Apple & Pumpkin-Yam


I wish you could have smelled my kitchen the day I baked these crostatas, it was intoxicating!…
A cloud of buttery pecan, apple, cinnamon and allspice in the air.
Crostata, my absolutely favorite pastry. Let me tell you why…

During my sweet tooth life I’ve tried many pies: the open pies, the double crust, the lattice, you name it. I always felt there was too much sugary filling compared to the amount of crust. The pie ratio in most of the cases does not work for me.

The day I tried my first crostata I was madly in love. It was an apple crostata, in the town of apples Julian in California. It had the perfect ratio between crust and filling and the crust was golden brown , flaky and crumbly, tender, and buttery. The sensible single layer filling had a bubbly, slightly crusty caramelized top. Inside it was juicy and fruity, and I was lost. Yet, I felt illuminated, just like the Greeks when they discovered “the golden ratio”. I prefer to call it Crostata like the Italians, over Gallette like the French, and of course the less romantic name free form pie….any way you name it, it’s always so simply and utterly delicious.

What I call“The Crostata Golden Ratio” is that perfect amount of crust and filling, allowing you to savor the buttery flaky crust and the sensible layer of fruit topped with some sugar allowing the crust to stay crispy and flaky in every bite. The fruit acts like the butter; slightly sweet and a bit tart. Suddenly, all your tastebuds are  awake; sweet, tart, creamy, crusty , buttery flaky…even days after its made, you can warm it in a toaster oven and it feels like you just baked it.

Now, if we talk about appearance, I love crostata with its rustic and honest look. It’s not decorated and definitely you can apply some decor, however I think the beauty comes from its baked right ingredients, the simple look is what makes it so attractive to eat and to prepare, no fuss, it is what it is.

I serve these crostatas with a cinnamon whipped cream and a honey-balsamic vinegar reduction, I love the tangy-sweet note that the reduction brings to the crostata, a caramel sauce will go great too….

Thanksgiving Crostatas will make a fabulous and sweet end to your dinner.
~ Happy Thanksgiving ~ from Ian and Mariana.


Thanksgiving Crostatas: Pecan, Apple & Pumpkin-Yam

Makes 3 – 7 ” x 11″rectangular Crostatas. Serves 24 to 18 slices.

For the Crust:

3-3/4 cups of unbleached-all purpose flour
3 sticks of butter
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 pinch salt
3/4-1 cup Ice cold water

1 egg + 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
1 cup of turbinado sugar to top the edges of the crust.


Measure all your ingredients. Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix. Place the bowl in the freezer. Meantime cut your cold butter, and iced water ready to measure. Remove the bowl of dry ingredients from freezer and add the butter. With a pastry blender incorporate the butter and flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, and the butter pieces are small like the size of a pea. Slowly add the cold water and carefully, with your hands, form a dough that just holds together. Be careful not to over work the dough. 
Once that the dough holds together. Shape it into a rectangle about 9”x6” and then divide that rectangle into 3 pieces (see picture below) Wrap each rectangle with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour; you can rush it by placing into freezer for 20-25 minutes.


~ R o l l i n g ~

On a clean work surface, dusted with flour, unwrap the dough let sit for a couple of minutes and then roll the dough into a 13”x 9” rectangle and about 1/8″and 1/4″thin.
Rolling little by little, rotating the rectangular, for even thickness (see picture below).

Thanksgiving-Crostata_rolling-the-crust.. roll it!Thanksgiving-Crostata_rolling-the-crust_one-sheet

~  F i l l i n g s  ~



Pumpkin- Yam Crostata



1 cup hefty pumpkin purée.
1 egg
1 tablespoon of heavy cream
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon of heavy cream
pinch of salt
2-3 small Yams or sweet potatoes.
3 Tablespoon butter cut into little squares to top the yams.
½ cup turbinado sugar
extra cinnamon for dusting


In a bowl, mix the pumpkin pure, egg, heavy cream, sugar and spices and salt until well combined.
Yams: steamed, peel and slice into ½ “ slices. Set aside room temperature. Preheat Oven at 400. In a 1/4 sheet pan lined with parchment paper, place the 9″x13″ crust spread the layer of pumpkin mixture leaving a 1.5” inch margin around the rectangle to be folded. arrange the slices of yam and sprinkle with the little squares of butter, turbinado sugar, and dust with some cinnamon. Fold the sides and fold the corners into a triangle, (see picture below) Egg wash and sprinkle the turbinado sugar all around the crust and a little over the filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Until golden brown.




Apple Crostata



2 granny smith apples peeled and sliced.
1 Honey suckle or pink lady peeled and sliced.
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (taste your apples! if they are two sweet you might need less sugar, if they are to sour, you need to add a bit more!)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg freshly grated.
the zest of half a lemon about ½ teaspoon.
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Smidge of salt


In a sauté pan melt the butter, add the sliced apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest and juice, salt. Saute until the apples are slightly tender and the liquids reduce. Remove from stove and cool down filling before use. Preheat Oven at 400. In a 1/4 sheet pan lined with parchment paper, place the 9″x13″ crust spread the saute apples in an evenly layer  leaving a 1.5” inch margin around the rectangle to be folded. Fold the sides and fold the corners into a triangle, (see picture below) Egg wash and sprinkle the turbinado sugar all around the crust and a little over the filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Until golden brown.




Pecan Crostata



1 cup pecans halves roasted
½ cup fine chopped pecans
8 oz cream cheese softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar


In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, chopped pecans, egg, vanilla and one tablespoon of sugar.
Toast the pecans and quick sauté them using a little butter and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, set aside and let them cool before using. Preheat Oven at 400. In a 1/4 sheet pan lined with parchment paper, place the 9″x13″ crust and spread the cream cheese filling leaving a 1.5” inch margin around the rectangle to be folded. Top with the sautéed pecans. Fold the sides and fold the corners into a triangle, (see picture below) Egg wash and sprinkle the turbinado sugar all around the crust and a little over the filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Until golden brown.


~ T o p p i n g s ~


Cinnamon Whipped cream:

½ cup heavy whipping cream
dash of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powder sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In a clean chilled metal bowl, whisk all ingredients until it forms soft peaks.
Keep refrigerated until serving.

Honey-Balsamic reduction:

½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey

In a small sauce pan combine honey and balsamic bring it to a slow simmer, check for desired consistency by running your finger on the back of the spoon. Serve warm.


~ D r i z z l e ~


Happy Thanksgiving…ENJOY!!!

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