Auntie Lei’s Caramel Apple Dip

This caramel dip is one of the easiest, tastiest fall recipes I have. It’s super impressive tasting and there are never leftovers. It is best eaten with apples, pretzels, nuts, graham crackers, cardboard, fingers (or if you’re more civilized, a spoon). So, I would advise doubling this. Or tripling it…

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
apples (I like tart apples)

Place butter and brown sugar in microwave dish.  Cook on high for 2-3 minutes.
Beat cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add butter and brown sugar mixture and combine till smooth.
Add in vanilla.


Caramel Apples

After buying a caramel apple at the Evergreen Fair for my younger sister, we were determined to make our own. The attempt actually worked and here is the basic recipe we used. Mom got these cute little apples that were about half the size of regular apples.

12 medium apples 
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup half and half or evaporated milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
coconut, nuts, chocolate
Wash and dry apples.  Remove stems and insert skewers. 
In a heavy saucepan over medium low heat, bring the sugars, corn syrup, butter, half and half and salt to a boil, stirring until sugars dissolve and mixture begins to boil. Cook gently to firm ball stage (246 degrees). Stir in vanilla. 
Remove from heat. Cool until the mixture thickens slightly. Hold each apple by the wooden skewer and quickly twirl in caramel. Roll in desired toppings or in sugar. Place on parchment paper to harden. 

Pumpkin Pie

Nothing special here… Recipe right off the can! 🙂

2 unbaked pie shells (deep dish)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
4 eggs
3 1/2 cups (29 oz. can) pumpkin
3 cups (2 – 12 oz cans) evaporated milk

Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl.  Stir in pumpkin and sugar mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shells.  This will look watery.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Reduce to 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes until knife comes out clean.
You may need to cover edges with foil. Cool on a wire rack for 3 hours.  Serve or chill.  Do not freeze.
Serve with whipped cream.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie

It may look like a funny combination, but it actually tastes delicious! It’s not as good as a good old-fashioned pumpkin pie, but it’s pretty close. 

1 9inch pie crust
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Streusal Topping:
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter

In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla and 1 slightly beaten egg with electric mixer on low to medium speed until smooth.  Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes (I didn’t).  Spoon into pie shell.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, the 2 eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg.  Carefully pour over cream cheese mixture.
To prevent over-browning  cover edge of the pie with foil.  Bake in a 350 oven for 25 minutes.  Remove foil.  Bake for 25 minutes more.
Meanwhile, combine the pecans, flour, the 2 T brown sugar and butter.  Sprinkle over the pie.  Bake for 10-15 minutes more or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 1 – 2 hours on a wire rack.  Refrigerate within 2 hours; cover for longer storage.

Caramel Apple Pie

Okay, I rarely feel like making pies, but a couple days ago I really wanted to make some. This was the first (out of four) pies I made. I love caramel and I love apple pie and it wasn’t too hard to make. I kept having everyone at home stealing my sugar/spice covered apples, so I should have thrown in a few extra and made it heaping with apples. I also think I would have used all Granny Smiths or another kind of apple besides Red Delicious. 

1 9 inch pie crust
7 cups Apples, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, or less
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup caramel sauce, at room temperature
3 tablespoons butter , melted
Caramel Sauce: 
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Streusel topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cold butter
1/4 cup caramel sauce, at room temperature


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Combine the pecans, sugars, cinnamon and cornstarch; add to apple mixture and toss to coat.
Combine butter and brown sugar for caramel sauce in a saucepan. Boil for 2 minutes. Stir in milk and vanilla and return to boil for a couple minutes. Cool.
Pour caramel sauce over bottom of pastry shell; add apple mixture (shell will be full).  Drizzle with melted butter.
In a small bowl, combine flour, pecans and sugar.  Cut in butter.  Sprinkle over filling.
Bake for 55-65 minutes or until done.  Drizzle immediately with caramel sauce.

Molasses Cookies

This is by far one of my favorite cookie recipes. The soft chewy inside with the crispy bits around the edge and the coarse sugar coating. It’s a super simple recipe and turn out beautiful every time.

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
coarse sugar

Cream brown sugar, butter and shortening.  Add molasses and egg.
Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.  Add to wet ingredients.
Chill for an hour.  Roll into 1 inch balls and roll coarse sugar.
Put on ungreased cookie sheet two inches apart and bake at 375 for 10-11 minutes or until set.
Let set for a couple minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.



Lasagna Soup

My new favorite soup. This is a spicy, filling and delicious cold and leftover when the pasta has absorbed all of the broth. This is also a super easy recipe to make!

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage (I used grounds sausage)
3 cups onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28 ounces) can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken stock
8 ounces pasta (I like penne)
fresh basil (optional)
mushrooms, chopped (optional)
Cheesy Yum:
1/2 cup basic leaves , chopped
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch pepper
mozzarella cheese, grated
meatballs (cooked and quartered) (optional, I’ve done this soup more times without that with)

Heat oil in large pot.  Add sausage and cook until brown. Add onions and cook until softened.  Add garlic,
oregano, red pepper flakes an fresh basil (if using). Add tomato paste and cook until tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.
Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, mushrooms (if using), meatballs (if using) and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add uncooked past and cook until done.
While pasta is cooking, mix together basil, ricotta, Parmesan, salt and pepper together.
Serve topped with mozzarella cheese and yummy cheese mixture.
Notes: cook pasta separately if planning on serving hours later.

Pumpkin Dip

It can’t be fall till there are fresh cooked gingersnaps and this deliciously creamy pumpkin dip. This dip would work well for unbaked tarts and frosting and could have anything dipped into it. We usually like gingersnaps, but pretzels, apples and graham crackers work in a pinch!

4 cups powdered sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
30 ounces canned pumpkin
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger

Combine sugar and cream cheese, beating till well blended.
Slowly bean in remaining ingredients. (if you dump everything in the bowl, trust me, it turns out with lumps of cream cheese and isn’t nearly as good)
Store in fridge.

Warning: this makes a lot!


These cookies are really easy. Except the never ending pile of dough as you roll. I found Silpats don’t work well, leaving the cookie not crispy enough, but soft. I do cook four pans in my oven, two on each rack, slightly overlapping. Any shape is good but I chose diamonds because you could dip it four times, one for each corner!

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups dark molasses
2/3 cup water
7 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat brown sugar, shortening, molasses and water together in electric mixer.
Mix dry ingredients together.  Stir into wet ingredients.  Cover and chill 2 hours.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease cookie sheets.
Roll 1/4 of dough at a time.   Roll to 1/4 inch thickness on lightly floured surface.  Cut with floured cookie
cutters.  Place on cookie sheet.
Bake 12 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when lightly touched in center.
Remove to cooling rack.  Cool completely before frosting.