Pumpkin Ginger Spice Cookies

It’s definitely fall here in Seattle, and I’m loving the changing colors of the leaves. As promised, here’s one of the fall-inspired recipes I’ve made recently. I took a recipe from Two Peas and their Pod and adjusted it a little based on my tastes and the amounts of ingredients that I had. The result was a cookie wonderfully flavored with pumpkin and spice, and deliciously chewy and soft, thanks to the molasses. I wouldn’t call them gingersnap cookies, since they’re soft through and through, but they do have a nice gingersnap flavor to them.

I did try baking a few of them without chilling, and they turned out much too cakey and fluffy, so unfortunately the chilling is necessary. But these cookies are worth the wait! I had a little more pumpkin left in my can than half a cup, so I increased the amount of pumpkin to 3/4 cup. I think that made the cookies turn out softer and fluffier than the original recipe, and the dough was also pretty sticky, so I omitted the extra step of rolling these cookies in sugar. They turned out sweet enough anyway, and it would have been difficult to do without getting cookie dough stuck to everything. Here’s the recipe I used:

Pumpkin Ginger Spice Cookies

adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Makes about 4 dozen small cookies

Ingredients

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup (half a 15oz can) pumpkin puree

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, until a smooth paste forms. Add the pumpkin, molasses, egg, and vanilla and beat until smooth and fluffy.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until well combined.

Chill for 2 hours, or overnight. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Drop small rounds of dough (about 1-1 1/2 tbsp each) a couple inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until the cookies are just set. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes before transferring to racks or plates to cool completely. Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Molasses Pumpkin Chip Cookies

Well, I’m 23 years old and just experienced my first snow day. Yes I’m from California, and cannot wait to go back, but my grad school experience up here in Seattle is definitely giving me a taste of what winter would be like if I lived in a place with seasons. I woke up this morning to a few inches of snow blanketing the ground, and everything looked pristine and sparkling white. It was quite beautiful. I walked down the street to a park and saw lots of families sledding and building snowmen and enjoying their day off of school/work. Here’s a little taste of the winter wonderland that is Seattle right now!

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Anyway, onto the cookies! I actually made these last year, when there were sales on pumpkin-related items after Thanksgiving, but haven’t gotten around to posting it till now. I got pumpkin chips for half off at QFC in the clearance section, and was inspired to make cookies! So I looked up some cookie recipes, and found this one at My Baking Addiction, increased the spices and added the chips, and these cookies were born! Sorry for the blurry pictures, I took them in low light and didn’t really look at them before the cookies were demolished, but the cookies were wonderful! The pumpkin and molasses keep this cookies soft and chewy, and the pumpkin chips at little bursts of melty pumpkin spice sweetness. Perfect for a snowy day like today, but alas, I used up the chips long ago. Perhaps I’ll just have to make something else. But in any case, here’s the recipe!

Pumpkin Molasses Pumpkin Chip Cookies

adapted from My Baking Addiction

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cloves

1 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup pumpkin spice chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter, then beat in the molasses, pumpkin, egg, and vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until well combined.

Use a small cookie scoop, or scoop about 1 tbsp balls of cookie dough onto the baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just set. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from the baking sheets. Enjoy!

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Roasted Fall Vegetable and Lentil Soup

Happy Sunday everyone! I’m taking a study break, and I wanted to share a recipe for a soup I made earlier this week that turned out better than I expected. I was making some pumpkin cookies, and I was going to have some pumpkin puree left over, so I started thinking of way to use it, and settled on making some soup. I added the lentils to give it some protein and make it hearty enough for a full meal, and roasted a bunch of vegetables to add to the pumpkin. This is a recipe where an immersion blender comes in extremely handy, since once I had all the ingredients in my pot, rather than blending it in shifts, I was able to just whir my immersion blender through it all and it became wonderfully smooth. It’s a great recipe for a chilly fall evening, and I’ve been having it with some toasted baguette on the side for the last few days. Here’s the recipe!

Roasted Fall Vegetable and Lentil Soup

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil (approximately)

1 acorn squash

1 sweet onion

4-6 oz carrots (I used baby carrots I had in the fridge)

1 1/2 cups split red lentils

4 cups vegetable broth

2-3 cups water (more or less depending your desired consistency)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (this is what I had left in the can, you could do more or less, or omit if you don’t have it on hand)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425˚F and line a couple baking sheets with foil. Cut the acorn squash in half, drizzle with olive oil, and place cut side down on one of the baking sheets. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, until fork-tender.

Chop the onion and carrots, toss with olive oil, and spread out on the other baking sheet sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until fork-tender.

While the vegetables are roasting, put the lentils, vegetable broth, and 2 cups of the water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow the lentils to cook until soft, then add the pumpkin puree.

Once the vegetables are roasted, add them to the pot and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Add more water if you want a thinner consistency. Serve with crackers or toasted baguette and enjoy!

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Molasses Ginger Cookies and a Swim Workout

Hello! I just saw that my last post was several months ago so… I’m alive! I have also relocated to Seattle, to start physical therapy school at the University of Washington! We had our first three days of school this week, and, as it turns out, grad school is not a joke. These cookies were the result of some Friday night stress baking after getting a little bit overwhelmed by all the work we have for all of our classes already. It seems a little surreal to me that I’m actually starting PT school, after working towards it for so many years, but I’m sure the workload will soon bring me back into reality. One of my favorite things about being in Seattle is the views of Mount Rainier that pop up everywhere! Here’s just one of the views we have from campus (on a clear day).

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Anyway, onto more important things: cookies! It’s officially falltime, the leaves are starting to change color (I’m living in a place that actually has some weather now!), and, the clearest indicator, Trader Joe’s has started to carry pumpkin products! My plan is to do a review of all the TJ’s pumpkin products that I’ve tried, so hopefully that will come soonish.

Last night, I wanted to make some cookies, and I had just bought some molasses, but I realized I had no eggs. Whammy. Well, as it turns out molasses is a pretty great substitute for eggs, and gives the cookies structure and chewiness! I found this recipe from Spice Up The Curry, and doubled it, upping the spices a little bit, as is my habit. The results were an amazingly chewy, spicy cookie with a crackly sugar crusted top. Delicious! Here’s the recipe I used:

Molasses Ginger Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus a little more for rolling

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup unsulphured molasses

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp water

Directions:

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.

Cream together the butter and sugar until a smooth paste forms. Add the molasses, vanilla, and water, and beat until well-combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir together until a thick, slightly crumbly dough forms. Cover and refrigerate for 20-30 min to help the dough hold together.

When ready to start rolling the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚F and pour a little granulated sugar into a shallow dish.

Scoop out about 2 tsp of dough, roll into a ball (you may have to smush it a little with your hands to help it stay together), then flatten and lightly press one side into the sugar. Place the cookie, sugar side up, on a baking sheet. Place them a couple inches apart, as they will spread a bit. Repeat until your baking sheets are full. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until the tops are crackly. Remove and allow to cool before removing and eating. Enjoy!

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Now for the second part of this post, a swim workout! This is mostly for my sister’s benefit and my own use for inspiration for future workouts, but perhaps someone else can find these of use. One thing that’s very sad about moving out of California is the lack of outdoor pools here. Sigh. But it hasn’t stopped me from swimming! Here’s a workout I did earlier this week:

4400 yard Energy System Monday

200 free, non free, pull

6×50 kick/swim, 100 pull

4×50 kick/swim, 200 pull

2×50 kick/swim, 300 pull

2×50 fly/free, 300 pull

4×50 fly/free, 200 pull

6×50 fly/free, 100 pull

4x(150 IM, double odd strokes on odd 150s, double even strokes on even 150s, 3×50 fast free)

200 easy

4400 yds

Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Brownies

Hello fall! I guess it’s been officially fall for a few weeks now, but it doesn’t quite feel like it. Still 80˚F outside, typical California. Can’t say I’m complaining! However, to make it feel a little more fall-ish, I decided to break out the pumpkin recipes! I made this delicious pumpkin bread earlier this week, which required 2 cups of canned pumpkin, and it turns out a 15oz can of pumpkin has one and a half cups of pumpkin. So I used a a can and a part of another can, so I had 1 cup of canned pumpkin left. What to do with this? Well, I’ve wanted to make pumpkin brownies for a while, so I decided to develop a recipe to fit the ingredients I had. I used one of my favorite brownie recipes from Something Swanky, and combined it with the pumpkin layer of a pumpkin brownie recipe from Smitten Kitchen. The brownie recipe I pretty much left alone except I left out the chocolate chunks, since there was going to be a whole pumpkin swirl layer to provide a flavor boost. We all have to make some sacrifices, and this one was worth it.

For the pumpkin layer, I got a little more creative. The original recipe would have ended up with 2 eggs in the pumpkin layer, but that seemed excessive to me. Pumpkin is an egg substitute and tends to make things more light and fluffy, and I wanted a dense, fudgy pumpkin layer, to match the fudgy brownie layer. So I decreased to one egg. It also called for granulated sugar, I since brown sugar holds moisture a little better, I decided to substitute that in. I increased the spices, as is my habit, since I really wanted the pumpkin spice flavor to come through. Since I only had 1 cup of pumpkin left, even though the original recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups, I just left it with 1 cup and they turned out fine, and the batter was probably denser and better for it. The bake time actually was shorter than I expected, I took them out at 30 minutes and they were just about perfectly baked. If you prefer gooier brownies and bars, then I’d probably take them out a few minutes earlier. If I were to make these again, I’d probably only bake them for 25-27 minutes, instead of the full 30. But anyway, here’s the recipe, so you can welcome in the fall!

Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Brownies

adapted from Something Swanky and Smitten Kitchen

Makes 20 brownies

Ingredients

Brownie Batter

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

Pumpkin Batter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp ginger

¼ tsp cloves

¼ tsp allspice

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup vegetable oil

¾ cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup pumpkin puree

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease a 9×9 baking pan.

For the brownie batter, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl cream together the butter and the sugar until a smooth paste forms. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and fold together until just combined. Spread the batter in a layer in the prepared pan.

For the pumpkin batter, sift together the flour, spices, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl cream together the butter, oil, and sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy, then beat in the pumpkin puree until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold together until just combined. Spread the pumpkin batter over the brownie batter in the prepared pan.

Using a spatula or knife, swirl together the brownie and pumpkin layer to create a marbled look. The brownie batter is much thicker than the pumpkin batter, so you may have to lift some of the brownie batter up over the pumpkin if you want it truly swirled together. I settled for a little more subtle marbling, with the layers still relatively separated. Bake the bars for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Do not overbake! Allow to cool in the pan for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

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Curry Lentil-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Well, I had my first final today. Which means that I should start studying for my other two next week, but instead I’m going to take a break and talk a little bit about food. To all my fellow quarter-system college students-good luck studying!

I decided to make some acorn squash, since I’ve used a lot of butternut squash and sweet potatoes, but I feel like I neglect this fall squash. It’s not my favorite, since it’s not quite as sweet at butternut squash or sweet potatoes, but it sure is pretty. When you cut the squash crosswise into rings, they make nice little flowery rings, and I just had to do something with that, so here we are!

For this dish, I made some curry lentils in the slow cooker, then I roasted the acorn squash, some cauliflower, and onions. I put a scoop of lentils inside the acorn squash rings, then topped the whole thing off with the roasted vegetables. The result? A delicious meal, packed with fall flavors. The slightly sweet squash, combined with the spicy curry, and the savory roasted vegetables all complement each other to make a wonderfully balanced meal. It does take some waiting, for the vegetables and lentils to cook, but the hands on time is pretty minimal. In any case, this is a dish worth trying!

Curry Lentil-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups red split lentils

1 14oz can lite coconut milk

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 tbsp curry powder

2 tbsp olive oil

2 acorn squash, sliced crosswise, seeds removed

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets

1 sweet onion, sliced

Directions

Mix together the lentils, coconut milk, vegetable broth, and curry powder in the slow cooker. Turn on low and allow to cook for 4-5 hours, until the lentils are cooked through and soft. This can also be done on the stove. Simply combine all ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are soft.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. On one baking sheet, toss the acorn rounds with half the olive oil, then place in the oven. On another baking sheet, toss the cauliflower and onion with the other half of the olive oil, then place on the sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through.

To assemble, place an acorn squash ring (or two or three) on a plate, then place a scoop of lentils in the middle. Top with the roasted cauliflower and onions. Serve warm. Enjoy!

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A delicious fall meal! It happens to be vegan too 🙂

Sweet Potato Gratin

Happy fall! It’s raining here in SoCal. I hate, hate, hate the rain, but we really need it so I don’t mind too much. One thing though, I really want to swim in the rain, since if you’re getting in the pool, you’re going to be wet anyway, and the droplets make such pretty patterns on the surface of the water, but the weather is just working against me. I’ve gone swimming three times in the rain this week, and every time, I walk to the pool in the rain, but as soon as I get in the water, it stop. Then of course, once I hop out of the pool, it begins to rain again. Go figure.

Anywayyyyy on a side note, the UCLA Women’s Volleyball team is hosting NCAA’s this week! It means quite a few extra hours for me, but it’s pretty exciting! It’s been super fun to watch them this year and to work with them as a team, and they’re a great bunch of girls. I’m excited to watch them rock it this weekend.

However, onto the food! At the very beginning of the school year, my apartment and the next door apartment had a big “family” dinner together. We all made dishes and had a fun meal together, so this recipe is from way back then. But, it would make a great fall meal for these cooler nights! It’s all made in the cast iron skillet, so it’s easy cleanup. It’s also fairly easy preparation. I like to make it look pretty for the pictures and all, but the slices really could just be thrown in and it would taste the same, it just wouldn’t be quite as aesthetically pleasing. But when it’s just going in your stomach anyway, who cares how it looks? This combination of sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, and a sprinkle of cheese is quite delicious. and it would make a lovely side dish for any fall meal.

Sweet Potato Gratin

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 sweet onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 sweet potato (orange)

1 white sweet potato

1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used a mozzarella blend, parmesan would be good too)

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized. This should take about 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400˚F.

While the onions are caramelizing, slice the sweet potatoes into thin coins. Once the onions are done cooking, turn off the heat and place the sweet potato slices in any patter you wish. You can arrange them in a spiral, or just throw them in the pan over the onions. Sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are soft and the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve warm. Enjoy!

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All baked up and ready for a roommate dinner!