Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Health-ifying Halloween!


Admit it!  This time of year does a doozy on your diet.  The temptations are everywhere!  Candy corn, cookies, cakes, mini candy bars!  I don't think I am this obsessed with sweets during any other time of the year.  And, with three kids - it's even harder to balance the junk with healthy choices.  My mission this year is to bring "health-ified" versions of our favorite desserts to our Halloween and Fall parties and to use the best of the season's bounty.  I know that that candy and sweets will still out-way the healthy choices this month, but I take some comfort in the fact that the desserts I provide will have some nutritious value "hidden" inside!  The kids may never know that what they are eating, may very well be good for them, and provide enough vitamins to keep their bodies fueled for a night of trick-or-treating!

Caramel Apple Crisp
A simple yet delicious dessert that combines two Fall favorite flavors; caramel and apple.  Instead of serving gooey apples on a stick, serve it as a crisp instead.  Even those with braces can enjoy these caramel apples!

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups old fashioned oats

Apple Filling:
6 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples (honeycrisp, golden delicious, etc.  I like a combination of apples)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon butter

Apple Filling: Preheat oven to 350F. Peel and slice apples and toss with all remaining ingredients.  Pour apples into a buttered 8x8" baking dish.  Set aside.

Crisp: Mix together the butter and flour until the butter is evenly coated.  Add the oats, spices and sugars and blend into butter mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle mixture over apples.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.  Serve warm with scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt or ice cream.

Creepy Carrot Cupcakes
Cupcakes are an easy treat to bring to the neighborhood Halloween gathering, or to school events. These carrot cake cupcakes offer a more nutritious choice than the run of the mill chocolate and vanilla versions, and they are a great way to incorporate the bundles and bundles of fresh carrots we receive in our CSA delivery each week.

    Cupcake Ingredients:
 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  1 teaspoon baking soda
  1/4 teaspoon fine salt
   1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    Pinch ground nutmeg
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
 2 large eggs
 1 1/2 cups peeled and shredded carrots (approx. 2 carrots)
 1/2 cup cinnamon applesauce
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
 black and white candy sprinkles or candy corn for garnish

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of Orange Zest

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper cupcake liners. Sift together the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a large mixer, combine the brown sugar, oil and eggs. until well combined. Add the carrots, applesauce and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting:  Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and stir to combine.

Frost cupcakes when they have cooled.

Pumpkin Pie Brownies

This is our own take on a favorite Peanut Butter and Chocolate swirl bars.  In this case, we use canned pumpkin and cream cheese to create a pumpkin pie-flavored swirl! The pumpkin not only adds festive color, but antioxidants and vitamins to each brownie.

Brownie Batter:
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Pumpkin Swirl Filling:
1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 egg
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8" baking pan.
For the Brownie batter: Beat together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer.  Then beat in eggs one at a time.  Whisk flour and cocoa powder in small bowl, and then gradually stir into butter mixture by hand.

Pumpkin Pie Swirl: Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until well blended.

Spread about 2/3 of brownie batter into prepared pan. Drop dollops of the pumpkin batter over top, distributing evenly. Drop the remaining brownie batter over pumpkin batter. To make the swirls, run a butter knife back and forth through the pan, making figure swirls.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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