Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

This past weekend, it was my suites turn to host floor snacks. Every Sunday night, a different suite on our lovely 4th floor brings out some food into the middle of the hall for us all to munch on as we hang out for a bit together. All the girls in the room were super excited for floor snacks because we don’t know a lot of the people on our floor and we thought this would be a good way to go to know them. So instead of the basic chips and salsa route many of the other suites had gone, we decided to make an all out meal – cookies, quiche, waffles, more cookies, etc…

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As I’ve said before, I have an obsession with pumpkin. I’m assuming because it’s the fall season and I see them everywhere, but there is just something about anything pumpkin that gives me that lovely feeling of fall, being bundled up in sweaters and drinking hot apple cider. Anyway, I knew for floor snacks I was going to have to make something with pumpkin, so I settled on a pretty basic chocolate chip cookie, but with pumpkin as a main component. What makes these cookies special is that they are much more fluffy and bread-like then most cookies. They have a whole can of pumpkin in them, so it’s not surprising that they turned out that way. Honestly, I think they needed some more spices, because I just wasn’t getting much of a pumpkin taste in the two I tried. This could have been due to the fact that there were way too many chocolate chips, so the taste of chocolate was overpowering, but I believe that they simply needed some cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to spice up the pumpkin taste.

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Sadly, even after many days of planning and putting together floor snacks, Charlotte and I were invited to attend a taping of a comedy show down at the Skirball performing arts center on campus that ran past 8 o’clock. So while our treats were greatly enjoyed – there were no cookies left when we got back – we were unable to participate in the festivities. Oh well 😦 Hopefully we will be able to do it again next semester.

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

(Adapted from Joy the Baker)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola or corn oil
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

1) Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the paper.

2) Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl and set aside.

3) In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides as needed. On low speed, mix the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended. Mix the flour mixture to incorporate it. Stir in the chips and nuts by hand.

4) Scoop mounds of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 2 1/2-inches apart. About 1/4-cup per scoop.

5) Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 15 minutes. Let them cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

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Spaghetti Squash

I am obsessed with squash. Butternut squash soup is a staple in my pantry and anything pumpkin has my name on it. So after having some spaghetti squash a few weeks ago while at my uncle’s, I decided to make it myself. It seems to easy – you cut it in half, stick it in the over, and voila SPAGHETTI SQUASH!! In reality, it is that easy, but given my impatience for everything, of course I took it out of the oven before it was cooked all the way through. The spaghettiness of it was still there, but it tasted a little too squashy I thought. I added some tomatoes, feta, and olives which was the best part in my opinion and got to use some of our very own basil that grows in the window. Instead of going out to the store to buy the additional ingredients, I just went down to the dining hall and got a to go box with mounds of tomatoes and olives. I think some people might have given me some strange looks for this odd “salad” I was getting, but at least I’m using up my meals, which I seem to have so many of.
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Charlotte had her first experience with spaghetti squash and she thought it was very good. I’ve also turned her onto butternut squash soup and she tried her first piece of pumpkin pie last week, which was all very exciting. I can’t wait to make her some fresh pumpkin pie – the kind we had was store bought.

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SPAGHETTI SQUASH

(Adapted from Allrecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons sliced black olives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.

2) Place spaghetti squash cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance. Remove squash from oven, and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.

3)Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook only until tomatoes are warm.

4) Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash, and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the sauteed vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Serve warm.

Granola

I’ve been dying to make homemade granola for ages. Granola is a staple for my breakfast almost everyday of the week. So when my dad came up this past weekend for parents day and we embarked on an extravagant food shopping expedition, I decided that this would be the perfect time to buy all the ingredients. He was buying I figured, so why not 😉

Anyway, I was a little worried, because as I have said before, our oven is a little faulty, but that proved not to be the problem. To start, I doubled the batch, so there were A LOT of oats. I put it on one baking sheet at first, but after 20 minutes and no browning happening whatsoever, I transferred half to another sheet with much better results. The biggest mistake of the evening came when I took the sheets out of the oven and placed them on top of the stove. I went back to my halloween decoration making at the table when one of my roommates noted that something smelled like it was burning. I ignored it, assuming some oats had just fallen into the oven and they were burning off, but when I noticed smoke actually rising up from one of the cookie sheets, I knew something was wrong. I realized that I had left the stove on from when I was melting the butter, so the entire middle section of the cookie sheet was scorched. Thank goodness it was only a little bit, otherwise it would have been a huge waste of granola.

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All in all, besides the mini stove debacle, I’d say my first attempt at granola making was very very successful. I put the cranberries in before I baked it, which was a mistake, but it turned out fine – they were just a little harder but still yummy. Next time, I think I’ll try it without butter and perhaps use molasses in addition to the honey and maple. I’d say it will definietly become a staple for me 🙂

SIMPLE GRANOLA

(Adapted from Cookingforseven)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded or chipped coconut
  • 1 cup nuts of choice, chopped coarse (I used pecans)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (I used agave, since maple syrup is far to expensive)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried fruits (I used cranberries)

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat oven to 300° F and place rack in center of oven. Either grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) In a large bowl combine the rolled oats, coconut, nuts, and salt.

3) In a small saucepan set over medium low heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat. Stir in the honey, maple syrup, and vanilla. Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients and toss together, making sure all the dry ingredients are coated with the butter mixture.

4) Spread onto the prepared baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every five minutes. Do not over bake.

5) Place on a wire rack to cool. You will notice that the granola is still sticky when you remove it from the oven but it will become crisp and dry as it cools. Once the granola has completely cooled stir in your choice of dried fruits if desired. (I forgot this part. Whoops) Store in an airtight container or plastic bag. It will keep for several weeks.

Pumpkin Muffins


It has finally started to get cold in New York. I’m so excited, because I love wearing sweaters, and scarves, and boots and everything associated with the cold. In fact, the only thing that I have bought since moving here – clothes wise – are some incredibly warms sweaters from Housing Works. Well anyway, now that the colder are has settled in, I figured it was time to bake some pumpkin muffins. Pumpkins is one of my favorite plants ever. Questions – a vegetable, fruit, or just a squash? I feel it’s one of those things that kind of pushes the boundaries. At work, they have pumpkin truffles, which are AMAZING!! I eat one almost every day that I go into work. So this morning, I woke up – early in fact – to bake some muffins. Now as I’ve said before, my oven here in my dorm room is very faulty, so I turned the oven up a little high then 350 because I was worried they did not bake. When the first batch came out, they were a little darker then usual, but still delicious. The second batch I eyed a little more carefully and took them out the moment they started to brown. In my opinion, they were much much much better. Charlotte said they were just as good as the first batch, so I guess we all just like our muffins at different consistencies. Either way, I will definitely be making these again.

RECIPE FOR PUMPKIN MUFFINS

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

INGREDIENTS:


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 
1 tsp baking powder
  • 
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
  • 
1/3 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 large eggs
  • 
1 tsp pumpkin-pie spice (I ended up using Apple Spice, just about the same)
  • 
1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tbsp sugar

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:


  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven toe 350F. Put liners in muffin cups.
  2. Whisk together flour and baking powder in a small bowl.
  3. Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin-pie spice, 1.25 cups sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.
  4. Stir together cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another bowl.
  5. Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be about 3/4 full), then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Blueberry Scones

So I’m not going to lie, I have no where near enough time to bake as I would have liked now that I am in college. Everything just seems to be work work work and read read read with no time for baking. That being said, this past Thursday, during an afternoon when my writing class happened to be cancelled, I decided to make some scones. My dad tells me every day I should make scones and my suitemates seemed to like the idea of some pastries in the house as well.

I was about to venture out and use a new recipe, but after having already purchased the ingredients a few days prior, I just fell back on the classic recipe that I use all the time and never ceases to fail me. ( I didn’t make the glaze and used blueberries instead of strawberries) While the recipe never fails, our oven does. After keeping the scones in for longer then I ever do – and I even cut them smaller – they had still not baked all the way through. The dial said it was at 400 degrees, but I find that very hard to believe. Oh well. They were a little gooey, but still sweet and yummy.