Happy Endings

When people talk about Thanksgiving, talk inevitably turns to pumpkin pie (and perhaps apple or pecan pie). While these are perfectly delightful dessert options for your Thanksgiving feast, there's something to be said for thinking outside the box every once in a while. And while it might be asking a bit much to forego the Thanksgiving turkey, switching out traditional pies for something a little less expected can be a fun way to add a little zip to your holiday plans.

Choosing fall ingredients like pecans, apples and cinnamon can give your holiday desserts that festive feel. Warm options like bread pudding or fruit crisps are especially fantastic, as they speak of comfort to most people and that's ideal for your holiday themes. In the spirit of the holidays, I'm offering two great non-pie dessert options for your Thanksgiving planning. Both are best served warm, with maybe a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Bread Pudding

  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce -- I make my own
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 cups cubed day-old bread
  • 1/2 cup chopped, peeled apple
  • 1/2 cup whipped topping
  • 1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping

In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, milk, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon. Fold in the bread cubes and apple.

Pour the mixture into an 8-in. square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm with whipped topping and caramel topping.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

Apple Pear Crisp

  • 2 apples -- peeled and sliced
  • 2 firm ripe pears -- peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
For the Streusel Topping:
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup cold butter -- cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss the apple and pear slices with the lemon juice and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix the cornstarch and 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon in small bowl. Sprinkle over the fruit; toss to coat well. Spoon into an 11x7-inch baking dish sprayed with no stick cooking spray.

For the topping, mix the brown sugar, flour, oats and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the fruit.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the fruit is tender and the topping is golden brown.

  • Yields: 6 (3/4-cup) servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour