Tag Archives: autumn

Celebrating Fall With Pumpkin-Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

22 Sep

HAPPY FIRST DAY OF FALL! I don’t know about you, but I personally wait for this season all year long – the crispness in the air, the breeze, the leaves, the apples and pumpkins, the excess of pumpkin flavored products and ability to wear scarves…I love it ALL (what can I say, I’m a bit of a “basic white girl” – and while I don’t love the term, I have to admit it’s shockingly accurate sometimes…)

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…Not gonna lie, this would TOTALLY work on me.

But ok – seriously – now that it’s FALL and all things apple/pumpkin/autumn can OFFICIALLY commence, I thought the best thing to do would be to kick things off with a twist on a favorite cookie – Oatmeal Chocolate Chip – with PUMPKIN!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies are so great – it’s like the Chocolate Chip Cookie’s crunchier cousin (and slightly healthier cuz it has oats in it? maybe?) – and they are my husband’s favorite of all time – and so when I came across this fall-infused variation, I knew they would be the perfect way to kick off Autumn

Pumpkin-Oat Chocolate Chip Cookie
(Recipe Courtesy of Cooking Classy)

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups quick oats
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 cup unsalted butter , softened
1 1/3 cups packed light-brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Instructions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger for 30 seconds, set aside
-In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamy (occasionally stop and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl throughout entire mixing process). Blend in egg then blend in vanilla extract and pumpkin puree
-With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Mix in chocolate chips and pecans (if you want some chocolate to show through set some aside to press into tops before baking)

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The Beauty that is raw cookie dough – just slightly more orange tinted thanks to the canned pumpkin

-Let batter rest 5 – 10 minutes (this just gives the oats some time to absorb the liquids so batter isn’t so sticky and cookies don’t spread so much)
-Scoop dough out 2 Tbsp at a time (I used a 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop, which I recommend using for evenly shaped cookies and fill it heaping), and drop onto Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2-inches apart
-Bake in preheated oven 12 – 14 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container

 

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Cookies – pre and post oven

Couple of things that are great about these cookies – they stay super moist thanks to the pumpkin, and the combo of pumpkin and chocolate is pretty great. Also, even if you’re not a huge pumpkin fan, you’ll still like these – the pumpkin isn’t overpowering, and the cinnamon/nutmeg/ginger just lends a nice spice to them

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Best of all – they are easy to make. Cookies generally are, and these are no exception (ease of creation is probably one of the reasons why I love baking cookies so much!)

FallYall

(No – I don’t say Y’all – I am not Southern, not even a little – but I just love the saying “Happy Fall Y’all – so – whatever. It’s happening)

Ringing In Pumpkin Season With This Super Easy Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter

6 Sep

September = Fall. You may disagree with this statement, as I know fall doesn’t technically start until the later part of the month, but I don’t care. In my world, September is when it all begins – apple picking, pie making, pumpkin scented candles, pumpkin spice lattes (Starbucks helped me out with that one by releasing them early this year!), leaves changing, a cool crisp breeze in the air – it all adds up to the best season of all – and I am so glad it’s here once again!

Last year, I made tons of apple stuff – from Apple Crisp to Classic Apple Pie, to Applesauce and Apple Butter that I gave as Christmas gifts – let’s just say that we picked a LOT of apples, and not one of them went to waste!

This year, I want to try and focus a little more on Fall’s other signature flavor – the pumpkin! There’s always pumpkin pie or pumpkin cookies or pumpkin bread – all of which are amazing and delicious – but I thought maybe another item I could potentially jar and give as Christmas gifts might be just the ticket – so when I stumbled across this recipe for Pumpkin Butter I knew I had to try it out!

Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter (Recipe courtesy of Moms with Crockpots)

Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 5 hours

Ingredients
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
½ cup apple juice
¾ cup granulated sugar
1½ tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

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The ingredient list for this one is pretty simple!

Instructions
1. Set your crock pot on low heat.
2. In the bottom of the crock pot, thoroughly combine all of your ingredients.
3. Cover and let cook for about 5 hours, stirring occasionally, until pumpkin butter is thick enough to stick to
a spoon turned upside down.
4. Spoon pumpkin butter into a jar and let cool completely in the refrigerator before using.
5. It keeps in the refrigerator for up to one week or the freezer for up to 6 months.

I decided to double the recipe, since the ingredients are so few and cheap, and I figured if it turned out awesome then I would have twice as much to enjoy! So for whatever reason – I don’t have pumpkin pie spice at home – never have, I don’t know why – but luckily you can substitute the following to make the 3 teaspoons you need of pumpkin pie spice for the doubled recipe:
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

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The finished product. Doesn’t look like much really, but I really love the texture of it – it turned out really smooth and the flavors combined to make it a really delicious spread (which definitely took some time to thicken up – so don’t panic if you finish making it and its still hot and seems thin – it will get thicker as it cools!). The only change I would make is that I personally would add more of the pumpkin pie spice to it – as is its great, but a little more spice would kick it up into the next flavor dimension for sure! Next time I make it I will definitely be giving that a try

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This stuff would be great on bagels, bread/toast, english muffins, or even pancakes or french toast! Hmm…maybe I can convince my husband to bake us some delicious white bread to enjoy the pumpkin butter on…HAPPY FALL!

Sometimes, You Just Need To Eat Cake

12 Oct

I stumbled across this amazing looking Apple Pumpkin Spice Cake online and decided it was just the thing to whip up for a beautiful October day. It has it all: apples, pumpkin, applesauce – it’s a great fall dessert (and would be perfect for breakfast too!)

AppleCake Walter

My adorable sous chef is ready for action (and by action I mean “possibility of falling apple peels”)

 

Apple Pumpkin Spice Cake (Recipe courtesy of Once A Month Meals)
Ingredients:
• 0.5 cups butter softened
• 1.5 cups sugar
• 0.5 cups pumpkin puree
• 0.75 cups unsweetened applesauce
• 2 medium eggs
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 3 cups all purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 0.5 teaspoons salt
• 3 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
• 0.25 cups powdered sugar (for serving day)
• cooking spray or oil for greasing pan

 

Applecake 2 batter

 

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar 2-3 minutes until smooth and pale, then add pumpkin puree and applesauce and beat to combine
-Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla extract
-In another large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
-In a separate bowl, toss apples with 2 Tablespoons of the flour mixture (This will keep them from sinking in the batter) Set aside
-Gently stir remaining dry ingredients into wet ingredients by hand, only mixing until just combined, then gently fold in diced apples
-Grease 2 – 8×8 foil baking pans generously with cooking spray or oil and pour batter evenly into prepared pans
-Bake 45-50 minutes in preheated oven (skewer inserted in the center should come out clean)
-Check cake half way through cooking time – If the top is browning too much, spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover
-Cool cake 10-15 minutes in the pan. Cut into individual portions and garnish with powdered sugar

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Ready to hit the oven!

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The finished product – which has filled my kitchen with the most AMAZING scent

Oh, and did I mention – this recipe makes TWO 8×8 cakes? So you can eat one freeze one, freeze two (or eat two – no judgment)
Freezing Directions: Cook as directed above. Cool cake 10-15 minutes in the pan. To freeze whole cake, cover with foil, label and freeze. To freeze in individual portions, cut cooled cake, place parchment paper in between pieces and divide among freezer bags, label, and lay flat to freeze. TO SERVE: Sprinkle thawed cake with powdered sugar using a fine sieve or sifter and serve

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Sometimes, you really do just need some cake – the smell of it baking, the chance to share it with your loved ones, and the TASTE…speaking of taste, I’m off for a late breakfast of cake and coffee. Yum.

For The Love Of OATS

27 Sep

I eat plain oatmeal for breakfast pretty much every day – and people always ask me “don’t you get tired of it?” and I really don’t – it is nice and warm, and filling, and can be changed to suit your mood with different toppings and mix ins (craisins, maple syrup, apples, applesauce, pumpkin puree, cinnamon – to name just a few of my faves!). Oats are great – they are good for you, and they can be used in lots of different ways

I like to use this breakfast food when I bake, and there are TONS of amazing recipes out there, so to help you narrow down what you can use delicious, heart healthy oats for, here are my faves:

My Top 3 Oat Recipes

Oats ChocCookies 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies – These are my husband’s favorite, and what’s funny about that is that he HATES oatmeal raisin cookies, and will only eat an oatmeal cookie if he is sure there are chocolate chips in them! I like them because you can pretend you are being healthy by eating a chocolate chip cookie with oats in it

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose or unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz)
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Directions
1 Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir brown sugar and butter until blended. Stir in vanilla and egg until light and fluffy. Stir in oats, flour, baking soda and salt; stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
2 2 Onto ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.
3 3 Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

OatsCrisp

Apple Crisp – This is a fall favorite, I like to eat it warm, with or without ice cream, and sometimes with a drizzle of caramel on it too if I’m feeling naughty!

INGREDIENTS:

10 cups all-purpose apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup quick-cooking oats

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degree C).
2. Place the sliced apples in a 9×13 inch pan. Mix the white sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and ground cinnamon together, and sprinkle over apples. Pour water evenly over all.
3. Combine the oats, 1 cup flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and melted butter together. Crumble evenly over the apple mixture.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 45 minutes

Oats CraisinCookie

Oatmeal White Chocolate Craisin Cookies – I made a ton of these two years ago for Christmas – and they were a hit! Packed full of fruit, chocolate, and oats to give them a great texture – these are a winner for sure

Ingredients:
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 5-ounce package Ocean Spray® Craisins® Original Dried Cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

 

If you aren’t sure about oatmeal, or oats in general, then I suggest you try one of the above recipes to ease yourself into it, and hopefully you will discover just how delicious and versatile oats really are!

Applesauce – Easy To Make, Delicious To Eat, Fun To Give!

26 Sep

Confession: I have already gone apple picking three times this season, and will be going at least once more. Maybe twice. Or three times….but anyway, who’s counting? And besides, I need a lot of apples because this year I decided to make and jar applesauce to give as gifts at Christmas time. It’s been my first attempt at jarring, and honestly, it is so easy, I don’t know why I haven’t been doing it for years

A Apples

 Thankfully I have a VERY tall husband who can reach up to the very tops of the trees to pick me those perfect apples!

 

But first, I must make the applesauce – which is probably the easiest thing to make ever. I just peel and core the apples, cut them up into chunks and toss them in a big pot with a little water, and let them bubble away on the stove for a good 20-30 minutes. Once they are soft, I will mash them with my handy potato masher, and add some cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar to taste. Give it another 5-10 minutes or so on low, and voila – you have delicious homemade applesauce!

Homemade applesauce is so delicious that I figured I HAD to share it with the world – and by the world, I mean my family and friends – and that meant it was time to roll up my sleeves and get canning!

There is a TON of fancy equipment out there for canning/jarring, but I decided to forego that since I was new to the whole thing, and I went with this Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit, which came with instructions, 3 pint jars, and this cool basket/rack that fits right into a stock pot and holds 3 pint or 4 half pint jars. Not only does it work perfectly, but it was only $10 – what a deal, right?

Jarring

Here’s me – all ready to seal up some jars!

 

Here’s how easy it is:
-Fill the jars (leaving a little space at the top)
-screw on the lids (not too tight – you want air to be able to escape)
-Set the jars and basket into a pot of boiling water for 15 minutes (covered)
-Remove the lid and let the pot go for 5 more minutes
-Remove the basket from the water, and leave the jars in an undisturbed place overnight (you might be able to hear them “pop” – which means they have sealed!)

Check out the official instructions on the Ball website

I’ll wrap these up with cellophane and ribbon and cute little tags, and they will make perfect Christmas gifts! What better to give than something from the heart and homemade!

If you aren’t an applesauce fan, then maybe you could try a classic Apple Pie, or even these adorable Mini apple pies perhaps? Or there’s one of my other faves – Apple Crisp…yum. So many apple possibilities, so little time!

Embarrassing Confession (+Pumpkin +Chocolate)

9 Aug

 

I LOVE FALL – this is not a new love, and I have obsessed over the autumn season for a LONG time (maybe it has something to do with all the amazing things you can do with APPLES?). Love everything about it – the foods, the colors, the weather, the décor, the activities, the holidays – nothing beats it in my book. That being said – it’s now time for me to make my embarrassing confession- ready? I HATE SUMMER. There. I said it. I hate the heat, the sun beating down on me, the bugs, the humidity, grilled foods are not my first choice, and I am not too much of an “outdoor girl”, so getting to spend summer days outside does not appeal to me. At all. When I admit this to people – most of them are shocked and appalled, as the majority of people love summer. Sad (and slightly ashamed) to admit – I am just NOT one of them

So when people complain about the back to school ads and fall decorations and Halloween candy coming out earlier and earlier every year, I listen and nod along with them – but am secretly thrilled with the ever early arrival of fall (I got my first email for a “back to school sale” a few weeks ago and screamed out loud – that’s how exciting fall is to me!). I decided that since it was back to school time, then its fall recipe time too – and then I came across these Salted Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies on Picky Palate, I knew they would be the recipe to usher in the start of (my) fall season!
Salted Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Ingredients
• 1 stick/8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
• 2 tablespoons molasses
• 1 large egg
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal Flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• one 10 ounce bag chocolate chunks (2 cups)
• A few pinches Fleur de sel salt or sea salt for sprinkling on top of cookies
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Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place butter and sugars into stand mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add molasses, pumpkin, egg and vanilla, beating until well combined. Add flour, salt and baking soda, mixing to combine then add in chocolate chunks. Using a scoop/tablespoon, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet. Flatten cookies with hands then sprinkle lightly with salt if desired.
3. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until baked through
Makes about 15-20  2 inch cookies

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Me and my sous chef Walter – his main job function is cleanup should any debris accidentally litter the floor

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Pressed and salted cookies all ready for the oven!

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…Aren’t they pretty? Look at that pumpkin color, and that salt!

The only things I did differently from the written recipe were that I used all brown sugar (because I was out of white), and I also sprayed nonstick cooking spray on my fingers to flatten the cookies so the dough wouldn’t stick to my hand

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The end result? A cake-y, chocolate, delicious cookie! You could definitely taste the salt and chocolate, and the pumpkin makes it super moist, but unfortunately, the pumpkin taste gets lost in the shuffle, it’s VERY subtle, and that saddens me, as I would prefer as much pumpkin flavor as possible! But my husband loved that it was not as pumpkin-y, so to each their own I suppose

I will make them again for sure – what a fun way to take a chocolate chip cookie and put a salty, autumn-y twist on it!

Fall = Apples, which therefore = PIE

21 Sep

Living in Upstate NY has (a few) benefits – one of them being the amazing fall season, with its crisp air, colorful leaves, and APPLE SEASON! I LOVE going apple picking, and have gone twice already this year.
There are SO many things you can make with apples – my personal faves? Applesauce, apple crisp, and Apple pie – making these classic recipes reminds me of everything I love about fall, and today I decided a pie was in order
When it came to which recipe to use, there was really no question – it was the classic Betty Crocker Apple Pie all the way. Not only did I use her name in my blog title, but Betty’s cookbook was also the first ever cookbook I bought, and the one I rely on for all the classics, from pot roast to casseroles and yep, pies and desserts too!

Ingredients
Pastry
2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
4 to 6 tablespoons cold water

Filling
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (8 medium)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Directions
1. In medium bowl, mix 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).
2. Gather pastry into a ball. Divide in half; shape into 2 flattened rounds on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.
3. Heat oven to 425°F. With floured rolling pin, roll one pastry round into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.
4. In large bowl, mix sugar, 1/4 cup flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir in apples until well mixed. Spoon into pastry-lined pie plate. Cut butter into small pieces; sprinkle over filling. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1/2 inch from rim of plate.
5. Roll other round of pastry into 10-inch round. Fold into fourths and cut slits so steam can escape. Unfold top pastry over filling; trim overhanging edge 1 inch from rim of plate. Fold and roll top edge under lower edge, pressing on rim to seal; flute as desired. Cover edge with 2- to 3-inch strip of foil to prevent excessive browning.
6. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust, removing foil for last 15 minutes of baking. Serve warm if desired.

Ok, I admit – I cheat a little, I use store bought pie crusts. I have tried to make my own, and it has not come out well, it’s a skill I’m working on, but in the meantime, store bought is definitely my go-to for crusts
I also like to bake it at a little lower temperature, 400 degrees, for a little longer – I find it makes the apples more tender and tasty!
However you do it, the result is a drool-worthy smell coming from the kitchen, and a delicious flaky crusted, warm apple pie. Yum. Happy Fall!