November 2011

I know what you’re thinking.  Pumpkin, seriously??  That was so last month.

…and I couldn’t agree more.  I have baked myself into pumpkin oblivion this fall, trying as many pumpkin-y recipes as I could find, the more obscure the better.  While some were better than others {ahem pumpkin macaroni and cheese vs. pumpkin whoopie pies}, I think it is safe to say my palate is begging for next season.

Before I retire my Libby’s stash, though, there is pumpkin recipe I wanted you to see.

The “secret” ingredient in these cookies is pumpkin butter.  I think this is the most superb addition to cookies since their inception… No, seriously, have you tried this stuff?!  It’s like apple butter’s cousin, if that cousin was significantly more awesome and delicious.  The recipe didn’t use the whole jar, so this will most definitely be topping a bran muffin (or old shoe) for breakfast in the a.m.

Of course pumpkin pie spice also came to the party.  #essential

And the final ingredient in our lovely showcase {does anyone else miss Bob Barker?} today is cornstarch.  I’ve never made a cookie recipe that included cornstarch, but it totally made sense… I deduced that it probably helped keep the cookies from spreading too much when they were baked, but decided I frankly didn’t care why it was there because the cookies were so good.

First mix up the dry “stuff”: cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt with some flour and set aside.

Next melt the butter… again, not used to melting the butter for cookies.  And, also again, who cares?

Mix the 2 sugars with the melted butter in your mixer.

… and add some eggs.

Now add the pumpkin butter, flour, then finally the cute little chocolate chip minis.  {chocolate chips: cute? who knew…}

Then tell yourself 3 times slowly: “I will not eat the raw cookie dough.  I will not eat the raw cookie dough.  I will NOT eat the raw cookie dough.”

Divide the dough into generous golf ball-sized portions and bake away.

These were so deliciously unusual… I couldn’t get enough.  Seriously.  Like so serious I just looked at my watch to see if I still had time to go get another bag of chocolate chips before the store closes.

After all, there are still 3 hours of November left….

Ok, now no more pumpkin for the next 10 months.  Pinky promise.

Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

- 1½ sticks unsalted butter, melted
– 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
– ½ cup white sugar
– 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– ½ cup pumpkin butter
– 2½ cups all-purpose flour
– 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
– ½ baking soda
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
– 1½ cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325°.  In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda.  Set aside.  In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the melted butter and both the sugars.  Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix on low until just combined.  Add the flour in 3 additions, mixing after each, until the dough comes together.  {It may help to use your hands with this process}.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes, then roll into golf-sized balls.  Bake for 15 minutes until the edges are crispy.  {The center of the cookies may seem undercooked but will firm up during cooling}.  Let the cookies cool completely and enjoy!

{makes 18 large cookies}

Source: How Sweet Eats

I’ve always been humored by the waning propriety of the Thanksgiving feast over the days subsequent to it.

You know what I’m talking about:  the first day of this gluttonous pilgrimage is seething in formality.  There are freshly-pressed cloth napkins draped effortlessly in tandem with polished Frontenac and cut-glass goblets brimming with sweet iced tea.  There are lemon wedges for the tea.  In sterling bowls created for that purpose alone.  There is also a designated platter for butter.  Butter in decorative shapes.

Day 2 {or “Round 2″ as it is affectionally called in my household} tones down a bit.  The cloth napkins are stained with cranberry sauce and washing the silver is fun but once. Dishwasher-safe is the name of the game.

On day 3, we all know what’s happening: turkey sandwiches.  Off a paper plate.  In front of the television.  Drinking unsweetened iced tea- no lemon- from a giant plastic restaurant cup.  Dinnertime conversation is so over-rated… that, and Ina is on.

By day 4, all bets are off and you find yourself standing over the sink, in sweatpants, shoveling the last slab of pecan pie in your mouth before anyone sees you and forces you to share.  Healthy habits, people.  We are building wonderfully healthy habits.

This pie is most definitely going into my holiday rotation.  It’s the perfect mix between a classic pecan pie and a chocolately Kentucky Derby pie, all while being deceptively easy to make.  A crowd-pleaser for sure, guaranteed to “startle and delight your guests” Phil Dunphy-style.

And as for the whole mouth-shovelage thing?  Make this pie and get back to me on how successful you were at preventing that.

Chocolate Chunk Pecan Pie

- 1 pie crust (store-bought or your favorite recipe)
– 1 cup pecans, roughly shopped
– 6-ounces semi-sweet chocolate chunks
– 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
– 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
– 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
– 1 cup light corn syrup
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 4 Tablespoons salted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375°. In the bottom of the pie crust, scatter the chocolate chunks followed by the chopped pecans. In a medium bowl, stir together the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, butter and flour until well combined. Pour the filling evenly over the chocolate chunks and pecans. If desired, decorate with whole pecan halves placed lightly on top of the filling.

Bake for 70 minutes until the filling is set and the crust is lightly browned. To prevent excessive browning of the crust, tent the pie with foil after approximately 20 minutes in the oven. Once baked, let the pie cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. Delicious served both warm and at room temperature.

{serves 8}

Source: adapted from Emeril via Martha Stewart

This morning I was all prepared to share the recipes for the Thanksgiving desserts that graced our table this past week, but then I made Stone Soup.  Well, actually I made Broccoli Cheddar Chowder… and that’s basically the same thing, right?

I don’t know about you, but my body is still in “detox” mode from all the turkey/dressing/cranberry feasting… Basically, I feel like a slug and hypothesized a nice dose of un-gravied vegetables might be just the fix I needed.

The problem was, I just plain didn’t feel like cooking.  {I know, how surprising…}  I mean “helping” your grandmother, playing with adorable babies, and slapping together a few pies is hard work.  I wanted to make something easy.  Something I could come back to between Kardashian marathons and shooting a documentary on molasses in my Dad’s study {don’t ask…}

If you, too, had enough post-Thanksgiving energy to nod your head, I know you would be echoing my sentiments: easy.  good.  not turkey.

Well, good news, my friends: this soup fits that bill perfectly.  Seriously, the only prep work required is chopping a few veggies… {I even used pre-sliced carrots I found in the produce section}

Don’t be like me.  Don’t fill your plate with corn and potatoes as “healthy vegetables”, stifling your choice validation with “IT’S A HOLIDAY” and extra buttered rolls.

The holiday hiatus is over: this is your re-introduction to real vegetables {ok, ok… that tiny bit of leftover green bean casserole you found in the fridge can count, too}

And the crusty bread?  #necessary

Broccoli Cheddar Chowder

- 4 Tablespoons butter
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– 2 cups carrots, shredded
– 1 bunch celery, chopped
– 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
– 8 cups (64-ounces) chicken broth
– 4 large baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
– 1 Tablespoon flour + ½ cup water
– 2 Tablespoons cornstarch + ½ cup water
– 1½ cups milk
– 6 cups frozen broccoli, thawed and chopped
– 1 Tablespoon seasoned salt
– 1 Tablespoon black pepper
– 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and saute over medium heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the chicken broth and potatoes, then bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 30 more minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, make your two slurries: in two separate small bowls, combine flour and water and combine cornstarch and water, stirring each mixture until opaque and homogenous. When the potatoes are tender, add both the slurry mixtures and simmer over medium-low heat until the soup is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.

Next add the milk, broccoli, and seasonings, and cook until the broccoli is just heated through, about 10 minutes. Remove the soup from heat and stir in the cheese. Let the soup cool for 5 minutes before serving to allow the cheese to melt and the soup to continue thickening. Serve with crusty bread.

{makes 20 cups}

Source: adapted from Lulu the Baker

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