Pumpkin Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

Tuesday, September 25, 2012



We had out-of-town guests last week so our schedule was busy and fun all week long.  In addition to our normal routines, ballet and soccer and school and church, we added a trip to Santa Fe for a day at the Renaissance Festival and an afternoon hiking through the river trails near home.  Guests + busy outings always require good snacks so I spent some time preparing in the kitchen. 

I started by making these Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies that I shared on Good Life Eats last year. They are delicious, but I wondered about adding in cranberries and maybe a hint of orange oil.   My sweet sister-in-law suggested white chocolate would compliment them perfectly, and she was right.  A new favorite cookie recipe was born!

Pumpkin Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies


Wet Ingredients

1 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 drops Orange Essential Oil

Dry Ingredients

1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray cookie sheet, or line with baking mat and set aside.

Combine wet ingredients in a bowl and mix.  Sift in dry ingredients.  Stir in chocolate and cranberries.

Drop by spoonful onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 10 to 13 minutes, or until bottom of cookie is lightly browned.  Cool on wire rack and enjoy.

Makes approximately 3 dozen small cookies.
 

Sweet Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I hope you're not tired of pumpkin yet because I am taking my pumpkin obsession to an extreme right now.   Pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin dip, and so on and so forth.  I love pumpkin!

I had this pumpkin soup at a Christmas party somewhere in Virginia nearly ten years ago.  It was so good, and I raved about it so much that the hostess shared her recipe with me at the end of the party.   Then, I forgot all about it.

I recently discovered the recipe again while cleaning out the cookbook shelves and with a few slight adaptations, it was a delicious surprise once again.  This soup is really good!  The blend of spices and a touch of sweetness compliment the pumpkin, which really is the star of the show.  This recipe also freezes well, which is a huge help now that school is in full swing around here.

Sweet Spiced Pumpkin Soup


Ingredients

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup diced carrot
3/4 cup diced celery
3/4 cup sliced ripe banana
1/2 onion,chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
2 cups pumpkin puree
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 whole clove
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon yellow curry powder

Directions

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add carrots, celery, banana, onion, garlic.   Saute vegetables until they are soft, approximately 10 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of broth, then transfer mixture to blender, or use submersion blender, and blend until smooth.  Return mixture to pot and add remaining 3 cups of broth and all other remaining ingredients.  Bring soup to a boil and simmer over medium-high heat for 15 minutes.

Cool slightly.  Using a submersion blender, or carefully transferring mixture in batches to a blender, puree soup until smooth.  Return soup to pot and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with fresh cilantro if desired.  Serve warm.

Makes 8 servings.


Adapted from Bon Appetit

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I am obsessed with pumpkin, and all the members of the winter squash family for that matter.  As soon as I wake up to a chill in the air, a few rainy days, and the first appearance of a yellow leaf in the yard, I pull out the pumpkin.  I like to puree my own pumpkin from the garden or farmer's market, but I also stockpile the canned stuff because you can't be too prepared when it comes to pumpkin. 

This week we are replacing our salt water sandals with moccasins, mixing in tights and sweaters with all of our outfits, and adding lot's of pumpkin to my menu plans for the next few months.   I've already made a big dent in my canned pumpkin stash since the weather turned, so I think I better plan on making some pumpkin puree real soon too.

These Pumpkin Pie Bars have been dessert more than once in the past week.  They are simple yet delicious. These bars taste like a pumpkin pie and are pretty, not unlike a pie, but they are a fraction of the work.  They satisfied my seasonal pumpkin cravings and sweet tooth demands in no time at all.    


Simple Pumpkin Pie Bars


Crust Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 tablespoons butter (softened)
3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Filling Ingredients:

8oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

In a food processor, combine crust ingredients and pulse two or three times until mixture is crumbly. Reserve 2/3 cup of the mixture for topping.  Press remaining mixture evenly into the bottom of an 8x11 baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Cool slightly. 

In a medium bowl, combine filling ingredients.  Using an electric mixer at medium speed, blend until mixture is smooth.  Pour mixture over baked crust.  Sprinkle with remaining crust topping. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until firm. 

What are some of your favorite Autumn Pumpkin recipes?

Glazed Lavender Scones

Thursday, September 6, 2012

While I was at the Lavender Festival, I was able to sit in on a few classes about cooking with lavender.  I had never thought about using lavender in the kitchen, but having put the plant to good use in a lot of recipes lately, I am now a big fan.

We tried Lavender Peach Jam, Lavender Lemonade, a Lavender meat rub, and most recently Lavender Scones.  The scones are our most favorite use of lavender in the kitchen thus far. 


These scones were inspired by Jamie from My Baking Addiction, to whom I bow down when it comes to all things baking.  Her Glazed Orange Scones have made more than one appearance in our kitchen in the past two weeks.  It really is the best scone recipe I've ever tried.

The addition of lavender in this recipe is delicious and it makes your kitchen smell delightful while you mix and bake.  I've been topping the scones with a lemon glaze and then, with the help of my three hungry girls, promptly devouring the whole batch, in the most ladylike way of course.

Look for culinary lavender locally, or you can purchase it here, and give these scones a try!

Glazed Lavender Scones

 

adapted from My Baking Addiction

Ingredients

1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lavender buds (or to taste)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
1/2 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
1 large egg

For the Glaze
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium bowl, combine sugar and lavender.  Using your fingertips, mix sugar and lavender together, breaking open lavender buds and combining well with sugar.    Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Using largest holes on a box grater, grate frozen butter.  Add to flour mixture and mix until it resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, combine egg and yogurt and mix well.   Stir yogurt mixture into flour mixture.  Using hands, shape dough into a ball, making sure to fold in all the loose clumps.

When dough is well combined and sticks together in a large ball, turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Shape into a 7 inch circle, approximately 3/4 inch thick, and cut into 8 equal pieces.   With space between each triangle, place on a parchment covered baking sheet.  (Alternatively, you can use a scone pan.  I have this one.)  Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden.   Allow scones to cool and prepare glaze.

In a small bowl, combine all of the glaze ingredients and whisk until smooth.   Drizzle glaze over cooled scones and allow glaze to harden.  Double glaze if desired.   Eat and enjoy.

Albuquerque Lavender Festival

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

One of the things on our summer list that we wanted to accomplish this year was to go to a Lavender Festival.  Luckily we have one in town here, so while my sister and her kids were visiting this summer we made it our mission to get some lavender.

The festival was wonderful!  I attended some classes on cooking with lavender, visited the pet parade, bought all sorts of goodness at the farmer's market, held baby animals, and chatted with knitters, spinners, and weavers.  We could not have enjoyed ourselves more!

We've also been making some delicious treats with our lavender from the festival - I'll share the recipe in the next post.  In the meantime, here are some snapshots of all the fun.

Cousins
This one makes me laugh. 
Montoya's Peaches are my favorite.  We buy them every year. 
My sister's gorgeous baby.  I love those cheeks.
Not all face painting is created equal.  Luckily neither sister realized that.
Los Poblanos Organic's Farm + Lavender fields

Coming up next, I'll share one of my favorite lavender treat recipes.

Tell me, what do you use lavender for?
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