‘Skins, Steelers and Junior District Orchestra Auditions

This past Sunday, we went to brunch.  Not just the sit-down-and-order-breakfast-food brunch, nor the buffet line and omelette station.  We went to the big Palm Court brunch at the Westifeld Marriott.  Breakfast food, carving station, baked goods, seafood, entrees and dessert at multiple stations.  As much as you want, so plan to stay a while.  Ken was semi-adventurous.  Although he tried some roast, the chicken entree (which he said was too dry) and a taste of my red-wine-braised short rib, he was happiest with the cheddar biscuit, made-to-order waffle and eggs benedict (his first time to try a poached egg).  Kurt tried everything on top of a mimosa and bloody Mary.  I took bits of what looked good to me, and my favorite was the crusted fileted branzino with a finely diced eggplant caponata and roasted brussels sprouts.  I WILL recreate that meal one day…

I was happy the Skins won what Kurt had deemed “the battle for the basement.”  Whatever.  I totally love RGIII and have misgivings about Michael Vic!   By the time the Steelers game started, the guys felt a bit peckish, so I made them breakfast sandwiches.  We couldn’t believe how close the score was against the Ravens with the backup QB.

I woke up Monday morning to the sounds of Ken’s violin; he was having a last minute practice session before his Junior District Orchestra audition that afternoon.  My son has a love-hate relationship with the violin; he loves the performance aspect of music, but hates practicing to be able to play harder pieces.  Neither Kurt nor I thought he was as prepared as he could be, but that’s a tweenie boy who coasts on talent rather than excel with industry.  (Indeed, even with this blogging project to “distract” me, I still do the Tiger Mom thing– just not as intensely).

I decided to make a special treat for him (well, for all of us) after dinner for going through the audition– for those of you who play the violin, he had to learn new shifting positions to play three octave scales and the required piece.  I recently found a recipe on Pinterest for Pumpkin Gingerbread Parfaits, “pumpkin pie in a cup.”  Pumpkin pie is one of Ken’s favorite pies and he insists I make it every Thanksgiving (and whenever he can bug me to make it off-season)!  If this recipe worked out, we could do “pumpkin pie” throughout the year…

The original recipe is here; I used Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Snaps. I used twice as many as the recipe called for since they are smaller than regular gingersnaps.

My stuff; the bag holds the crushed TJ gingersnaps:

Very few ingredients and NO COOKING!

I dumped the pumpkin pie puree, brown sugar and cream cheese into a mixing bowl:

The beginnings of the pumpkin pie layer

I blended the puree, sugar and cheese with a hand mixer on low, then added the spices.  I also used the full three tablespoons of brown sugar.

Blend the pumpkin and cheese first (I used a mixer on low).

I then beat the cream and sugar til I had peaks:

I beat til the peaks were just stiff

The parfait is layered as follows:  pumpkin, gingersnap crumbs, whipped cream.  Times two.  I used sundae glasses for ours:

Use a spoon to push the filling to the edges of the cup, if needed

I mounded the last whipped cream layer per the recipe; it looks prettier that way.  Add the gingersnap garnish and you’re done!  I refrigerated mine for a few hours just because we were at the audition, but I’m sure you could eat them immediately.

Pumpkin pie in a cup!

Afterthoughts:

I will say in retrospect, that Ken was NOT excited by the pumpkin filling; the tanginess of the cream cheese distracts from the “pumpkin pie” taste, “What’s wrong with the filling; it tastes weird.”  The joy of having son with a great palate.  We also felt it needed more seasoning, but I think that’s because the TJ cookies are highly spiced and shadowed the spices in the filling.  Kurt suggested I use mascarpone next time which is sweeter and therefore lacks the assertive tang of the cream cheese.  I asked Ken if more sugar would help, but he thought no amount of sugar would get rid of the off-taste of cream cheese–“There’s no cream cheese in pumpkin pie, MOM!”  Next time I’ll try mascarpone or simply whip more cream and use some to lighten the pumpkin puree.  I bet Cool Whip would work, too, but that’s one of the fake foods we try to avoid.  It’s a really easy, fast dessert, so I’m willing to experiment.  I’ll post if I do…

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