Anyone got a sweet tooth? It is that time of year! Desserts seem to be a big topic of conversation these days. Halloween starts everyone off and then the treats and sweets just keep coming!

There are a few way people approach desserts during the holidays:
1. Go big or go home: Deal with it all on January 1st and eat as much of whatever you want for the next two months. Go crazy!
2. Just say no: As opposed to even letting yourself succumb to a sweet craving you say no to it all and do not give in to any sweets.
3. Try to be “good”: Don’t over think things too much and just eat what you want and try to “behave” at times.
4. Total denial: Do not pay attention to what you are eating and just go about your day.

Is there a right answer? Not sure if any of the above are going to get you where you want to be. Ultimately I want to emphasize the importance of awareness. Know what you are putting in your mouth! Whether it is fried, organic, baked, coated with sugar, stuffed with cream, using butter from France, grilled, local….whatever! Just take a moment before eating (especially during the food-filled holidays) to be aware of your options and then make a decision of what you want. Take ownership of your plate and make it your own.

Some tips to help with dessert if you tend to give in a bit too often to the sweets:
1. Do some recon. Before you have a sweet at an event be sure to know all of your options. Don’t eat the cookie and then realize you really wanted the pumpkin pie.
2. Do not save your calories! Be sure you continue your small, frequent meals with carbohydrates and proteins so you don’t walk into a party starving. That is asking for trouble!
3. Be aware. Mindlessly eating chocolates at the office or cookies at a cocktail party can get dangerous. If you want something sweet, enjoy it! Savor each bite and then move on when it is done.
4. Regift! If you get boxes of desserts as presents there is nothing wrong with giving them away or throwing them away. Just because you got them doesn’t mean you have to eat them all!

Thought I would share some recipes with you from some of my favorite people. If you are interested in cooking something up this holiday season check them out. These are not “healthy” recipes—just desserts some of the people I love, love to bake…..and I love to eat! Notice the ingredients and see what has calories (sugar, butter, cream, flour, oil…) and what doesn’t (spices). Again, take ownership of what you eat this holiday season. You can have it all! Just find a way to make it work for you.

Wishing you all a sweet holiday season!!!!

Cat’s Pumpkin Pie

My dear friend Cat wants me to make pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkin for Thanksgiving and sent this recipe on over. She has modified a recipe from The Joy of Cooking and made it her own. Yum….cannot wait for Thanksgiving!

Pre heat oven to 425 degrees

– 9 inch pie crust (Cat always buys a pie crust for simplicity but of course you can make your own if you like)

Mix the following ingredients until well blended:

– 2 cups cooked pumpkin or squash-.
(Cat prefers kabucha squash or japanese pumpkin but I know sugar pumpkin is often used for pumpkin pie—cut approximately. 2 inch pieces and steam till tender, then mash with a potato masher/run thru a sieve until at a consistency you prefer Cat likes it a bit lumpy and I agree but make it work for you)
– 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk or cream
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp ginger
– 1/4 tsp nutmeg
– 1/8 tsp cloves
– 2 slightly beaten eggs

Pour into pie shell and bake for 15 mins at 425 degrees then approx 45 mins at 350 degrees but check to make sure it’s not burning. It’s done when the knife/toothpick inserted in center comes out clean

Sylvia’s Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

Old recipes passed down through family are a wonderful way to connect generations as well as make a great activity for kids and adults to do together during the holidays and on a daily basis.

This recipe comes from my Sister in Law, Lillian’s Grandma Sylvia. It is printed in her Longview, Texas Temple Emanu-El Sisterhood cookbook entitled “The Food A Rama Cookbook” named for the annual fundraiser Food A Rama Dinner event that her temple began in 1936.

According to Lil, “It is the best, simple chocolate cake recipe you’ll ever bake!” I have tasted it and it is pretty delicious!

Lil is one the best bakers I know. Everything she makes is delicious and she spoils us way too often with her treats. Check out all her kid friendly activities at her blog

Sylvia’s Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

Chocolate Cake:
– 2 eggs
– 1 cup oil
– 2 cup sugar
– 1/2 cup cocoa
– 2 tsp. vanilla
– 2 1/2 cup flour
– 2 tsp. baking soda
– 1 cup sour cream (you can use fat free sour cream or even try Greek Yogurt)
– 1 cup hot water

Cream oil and sugar. Add cocoa and continue beating. Add eggs, one at a time. Sift dry ingredients. Add alternatively with sour cream. Add vanilla. Last of all, add 1 cup of hot water. Beat well. Pour into three greased and floured layer cake pans. (Lillian always uses 2 pans because she doesn’t have 3—do what works for you!) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on rack.

Chocolate Fudge Icing:

– 6 Tbsp. margarine (the original recipe calls for Oleo, but no one knows what that means anymore!)
– 6 Tbsp. milk
– 1 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 cup chocolate chips
– 1 tsp. vanilla

Melt together margarine, milk, and sugar. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until mixture thickens. Working quickly, spread on cooled cake layers. If mixture becomes too thick, add a very small amount of milk and reheat. Assemble three layers. Spread any remaining icing on sides of cake.

Raf’s Apple crumble

Sarah is one of my favorite people ever and I was lucky enough to spend my birthday with her in her beautiful home in Connecticut with the most beautiful fall foliage all around us. To make my day even better she made this delicious, super easy, crumble—happy birthday to me!

She got this recipe from epicurious and it was originally featured in Gourmet Magazine. You can use any fruit you want. We used apples because they were in season but stone fruits or any another combination would be great too. Enjoy!

Fruit Crumble
– 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1/2 cup sliced almonds (2 oz)
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
– 2 lb plums, peaches, or nectarines (or a combination), pitted and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch wedges

Accompaniment: vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 425°F.
Pulse flour, sugar, almonds, and salt in a food processor until nuts are chopped. Add butter and pulse until mixture begins to clump.
Spread fruit in a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish glass pie plate and sprinkle topping over it.
Bake crumble in middle of oven until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.