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Apple Dumplings with Crème Anglaise and a Cinnamon Whisky Caramel Sauce

I love comfort food in all shapes and sizes.. but for me a true comfort food has to be warm and include something creamy. This is where the Crème Anglaise comes in! If you have never had apple dumplings with a warm custard sauce, then you have never really enjoyed apple dumplings the way you should! 

This is an updated recipe from the original that I shared quite a few years ago on my blog Dalla Mia Cucina. The only difference, is the added drizzle of Cinnamon Whisky Caramel Sauce,  hot and spicy and easy to make with a cinnamon liquor instead of cinnamon candies. I added a tiny amount of red food coloring for effect.. but you can eliminate it if you have a red dye sensitivity. 

Apple Dumplings with Crème Anglaise and a Cinnamon Whisky Caramel Sauce

Apple Dumpling Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2/3 cup shortening 
1/3 to 1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk 

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts 
1 tablespoon brown sugar 
2 tablespoons sugar 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
6 medium sized cooking apples, peeled and cored  
1 tablespoon butter or margarine

*1 egg slightly beaten for wash


1. For pastry, combine the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the half-and-half, light cream, or milk over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat moistening dough, using 1 tablespoon of the cream or milk at a time, until all of the dough is moistened. Form dough into a ball. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.  During this time, prepare nut filling. 

2. In a small mixing bowl combine the walnuts, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Rub Butter into dry ingredients. Set aside.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to an 18x12-inch rectangle.* Using a pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut into six 6-inch squares.

4. Peel and core the apples. Place an apple on each pastry square. Fill centers of apples with walnut sugar mixture. Moisten edges of each pastry square with egg wash; fold corners to center over apple. Pinch to seal. Place dumplings in a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Brush dumplings with egg wash. 

5. Bake in a 350˚ oven for 45-50 minutes or until apples are tender and pastry is golden brown. 

Cinnamon Whisky Caramel Sauce

2 cups water 
1-1/2 cups sugar 
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter


1. In saucepan on medium heat, bring sugar and water to a gentle boil, swirling pan, without stirring for about 20 minutes or until a deep amber color is reached. Watch closely so it doesn’t burn.

2. Turn down heat to low, add the Cinnamon Whisky, bringing to a simmer and let cook for another 10 minutes while stirring. It should start to thicken up. Mix butter in to incorporate, stirring for a minute. Turn off heat.

3. Transfer to a heat-safe bowl or bottle and let cool. Store covered in the refrigerator and bring to room temp or heat in a warm water bath before serving. You can also microwave it in the bottle or bowl for 30 seconds before each.

Crème Anglaise Ingredients

2 cups light cream or half and half 
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (can be found specialty food stores) or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated white sugar (Stevia monk fruit works well too!)
5 large egg yolks


*Have a fine medium-sized strainer and bowl ready near the stove.
In a stainless steel bowl stir together, using a wooden spoon, the sugar and yolks until well blended. (Do not let this mixture sit too long or a film will develop on the yolks.)
In a small saucepan heat the cream and vanilla bean (if using) just to the boiling point. Remove from heat and whisk a few tablespoons of the cream into the yolk mixture. Then, gradually add the remaining cream, whisking constantly.
Pour this mixture into a medium sized saucepan and, over medium heat, gently heat the mixture to just below the boiling point (170 - 175 degrees F). You will notice that steam will begin to appear and the mixture will be slightly thicker than heavy cream. Do not boil or the eggs will curdle! Check to see if it is the right consistency by holding a wooden spoon sideways that is covered with the custard and run your finger along the back of the spoon. If the streak remains without the cream running down through the streak, it is ready.
Immediately remove from the heat and pour through the strainer, scraping up any thickened cream that settles on the bottom of the pan. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the sauce. Stir until seeds separate. For maximum flavor, return the pod to the sauce until serving time. (If you are using pure vanilla extract, instead of the vanilla bean, add it to the cream now.)
The crème anglaise can be refrigerated covered with plastic wrap for a couple of days. 
Note: If sauce was overheated and curdling occurs, pour instantly into a blender and process until smooth before straining. If necessary, add a little heavy cream to the mixture before blending.
Makes about 2 cups.

To serve, spoon Creme Anglaise in bowls. Place a dumpling in each. Drizzle Cinnamon Whisky Sauce on top. Enjoy!

Seasoned Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


Pumpkins are one of the reasons I have such a fondness for the Fall season. 

I use the beautiful orange gourd in a variety of recipes, from Vegetable Soups, a Roasted Veggie Side-Dish with Sage Butter, Uova Zuccate, an Italian Pumpkin Soufflé and of course the all time holiday favorite, Pumpkin Pie! 

But it’s the pumpkin seed that gets the family involved in the kitchen prep, and then the annual pumpkin carving that follows. It’s such a fun event to do with the kids, and their friends too!

Seasoned Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


Seeds from 1 Pumpkin

Pot of Water

2 tsp. Salt

Clean Dishcloths

Seasonings Ingredients

5 Tbsp. grape seed or olive oil 

1/4 tsp. “Powdered” Oregano

1/4 tsp. Paprika 

1/4 tsp. Cumin

1/8 tsp. Cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. Grated lemon peel(fresh or dried)

Mix seasoning ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Line a baking sheet with non stock foil or parchment paper.

Fill a medium saucepan with about 2 cups of water and season with 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, scoop the seeds from your pumpkin. Clean as much pulp from seeds as possible. Add the pumpkin seeds to a bowl filled with cold water and swish them around until the seeds float and are mostly clean. Add cleaned seeds to the boiling salted water. Simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and pull away any remaining pumpkin 

attached to the seeds. Scatter the seeds onto clean dishcloths and pat them very dry. 

Add the pumpkins seeds to the seasoning ingredient bowl. Mix well. With a slotted spoon, remove seasoned seeds to the prepared baking sheet. (Try shaking off any excess oil before you place them on baking sheet)

Bake in a 350° pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes. Toss at least once during bake time to get a toasty golden brown color! Enjoy with friends and family!

Marinated Beets

1 bunch of Beets, usually 4-5 twined together
Enough water to cover Beets
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt (for boiling water)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar or glaze
¼ tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground
1-2 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme or Sage Leaves 
¼ of a Red Onion thinly sliced (optional)

Boil Beets ~ Trim the tops off the beets leaving 2 inches of the stem. Scrub beets to get all of the dirt off. In a large pot, add water and salt. Add beets, bring water to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until fork tender, about 30 minutes. When done, immediately place beets into cold water. Peel once cooled.

Once beets are cool to the touch, peel the skin off of the beets. They should easily slide right off.
Slice beets into ¼ inch slices. Set aside in serving bowl.
In a separate mixing bowl, add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, fresh herb and red onions. Toss to incorporate.

Pour marinade over beets and toss to coat. 
Either serve immediately or refrigerate for a cool salad.

Owl Creek Farms

Just relaxing here at home with some favorite books, espresso and a sweet smelling candle that is reminiscent of orange, raspberry, and vanilla cotton candy. 

I purchased a lavender essential oil roll-on, as well as this “Night Under the Stars” soy candle from Owl Creek Farms a little over a week ago and it arrived in just a few days!

Please go check out @owlcreekfarmsfoundation ‘s web site and read about the farm, and the work they do to provide provisions for veterans and individuals who are struggling. The facilities at the farm are used for retreats, weddings, celebrations of life...  If you go to their I.G. feed, you will see photos of their gorgeous property and some of the events that take place there. Also check out their product page! The lavender oil that I purchased is organically grown at Owl Creek Farms and distilled freshly upon harvest multiple times per year. “They do all of this in the name of Jesus for His service and His glory!!”

Cherry Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta.. my favorite desert and oh so simple to make! 
I have always loved a panna cotta, but within the past few years I have come to see how easily it adapts to so many diet life-styles. When I am eating Paleo, I use coconut milk and honey, when I am restricting my diet to Keto, I use only whole cream and a sweetener like Swerve or Lankanto.

Here is a "classic" Italian Panna Cotta recipe, with the addition of a cherry glaze. 
In keeping with my Italian Style, :) I used a rum liquer in the cherry glaze, but traditionally, a cherry glaze is made with lemon or vanilla. What ever flavoring you decide to use, Im sure it will taste amazing!

Cherry Vanilla Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta

2 cups heavy cream 
1 cup half-and-half
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 envelope unflavored gelatin*
(measures a little less than 1 Tbsp.)
6 tablespoons cold water

Heat the half and half, heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan.
When sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. (If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream and add the bean pod. Cover, and let infuse for 10-15 minutes. Remove the bean then rewarm the mixture before continuing.)
Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 minutes.
Pour the very warm Panna cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolve
Divide the Panna cotta mixture into individual cups. 
Refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

To release from cups, place bottom of cup in hot water for 30 seconds, turn over on plate and it should slide right out. 

*If you are using gelatin sheets, soak 2 sheets in cold water, let sit for 10 minutes. When it’s time to add the gelatin to the panna cotta, squeeze gelatin and excess water that has been softening. Add to heated panna cotta and stir until dissolved.

When ready to serve, top with Cherry Sauce. Recipe follows. 

Cherry Rum Sauce 

2 lbs fresh pitted cherries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar more if you like it sweeter
1 tsp arrowroot flour
2 tsp rum (Vanilla or lemon Juice can be substituted)

Put the water and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a full boil over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook for a few minutes till liquid begins to get syrupy. Add cherries. Cook on medium heat till liquid comes back to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer.  Cook till you see the cherries start to release their juices. *This is when you add your arrowroot slurry.
*Separately in a small cup, stir the arrowroot flour together with the rum (Or lemon juice) then add to the pan. 
Continue to stir and cook until the sauce has thickened and is glossy, this will only take a minute or two. Remove from the heat.
Let the sauce cool, then put into jars or an airtight container and refrigerate until needed. You can use it cold, room temperature, or warmed up.
Makes 1 and 1/2 quarts.

Crustless Shepherds Pie

This amazingly tasty dish has been making an appearance throughout Europe for hundreds of years. Mutton, lamb, beef and even fish, can easily find it's way into this British pie. I was first introduced to an English Shepherds pie early in my college days while on a short one month missions trip abroad. Previously in my home, we made this with a pastry crust, but recently an English girlfriend of mine told me that they make theirs without a crust all together! So easy to prepare and still just as satisfying! 

This recipe is pretty much allergy friendly and has ingredients that can easily be adapted to fit your dietary needs. Hope you enjoy!!

6 cups Mashed Potatoes (recipe follows)
2 cups Brown Sauce (recipe follows)
2 lbs. Ground Lamb or Beef
½ Onion
Salt and pepper
Butter or margarine
3 cups Dubliner Cheese Grated, I use Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese (*Please see note at the bottom)
3 Carrots cleaned and cut into small squares and cooked till tender.
1 Cup Peas (frozen not canned) cooked
6 Crimini Mushrooms cleaned and sliced

Mashed Potatoes
2-3 pounds russet potatos
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
3/4 to 1 cup raw milk or *Rice milk 
Salt and white pepper to taste

Peel potatoes and cut into 2-inch pieces. In a large heavy saucepan simmer potatoes in salted water to cover by 1 inch 10 minutes, or until tender, and drain in a colander. In pan or bowl combine potatoes, butter or margarine, and 3/4-cup milk. With a potato masher or blender mash potatoes until just smooth, adding more milk and butter if necessary to make a creamy but not pasty potato. *Over cooking and blending your potatoes will make them too starchy. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Brown Sauce
3 shallots or scallions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
10-½ -ounces beef broth, canned is fine
1 Tb. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce (this is gluten free)
1 Tsp. Fresh Tarragon leaves finely chopped
½ Tsp. thyme
Salt, pepper
Gluten Free Beurre Manie (recipe follows)

Sauté chopped shallots or scallions in butter. Gradually add wortsheshire and beef broth. Let it come to a boil and add the seasonings. Cook down for a few minutes. Add Beurre manié to thicken to taste. Let simmer for a few minutes and strain. Set aside.

Ground Lamb or Beef
Finely chop ½ an onion. Sauté in 2 Tbsp. butter. Add ground meat and cook. Drain liquids. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Mix prepared vegetables together.

Beurre Manié


1oz Butter

3/4oz Cornflour
1 Blend the cornflour and butter together in a small dish.
2 Add the Beurre Manié in very small lumps to the sauce that you wish to thicken, a few at a time.
3 A good way to stop the sauce going lumpy is to add a few lumps on the tip of a knife, scraped down the side of the pan.  This melts slowly, ensuring no lumps.
4 Stir into the hot liquid until completely blended.
5 Return pan to the heat and slowly bring to the boil, stirring all the time until the sauce is thickened.

In a lasagna or sheet cake pan, start with mashed potatoes layer your ingredients, always adding cheese and sauce after each layer. Repeat process until you end with mashed potatoes on top. Potatoes can be piped on for a decorative finish but it is not necessary. Bake Shepherds Pie in a pre-heated 375° oven for 20 minutes. If potatoes start to brown too quickly loosely cover with foil.

*Cheese can be omitted for those with a dairy intolerance, or substitute your favorite dairy free cheese.

** Any milk ingredient in this recipe can be substituted with rice, coconut or almond milk to fit your dietary need.