Pumpkin Gingerbread

pumpkingingerbreadI’m not a big pumpkin spice anything girl, but I am a big fan of pumpkin pie and just about any bread or muffin that has pumpkin in it.  I am not, however, a big fan of the amount of fat that usually accompanies those recipes and look for any way I can to trim that aspect down so I can enjoy more of those seasonal treats.

On this first day of October, it may have been 90° and muggy in the shade where I live, but I’m kicking off my fall baking (well after dark) with this recipe for pumpkin gingerbread with no added fat.

Pumpkin Gingerbread

  • 3 Cups sugar
  • 1 Cup applesauce or banana puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 Cup water
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 3+1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1+1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-15oz can pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, applesauce or banana puree, and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice cinnamon, and clove.

In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Cool loaves completely on wire racks.  Store wrapped in refrigerator.

#ThisGirlLovesToEat

Easy Vegan Pumpkin Spice Granola

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Fall officially started two days ago.  Temperatures in most of the United States (not here in Southern California, of course) have begun dropping and falling leaves are all over the ground with colors ranging from light green to yellow, orange, red and brown.  But to a very large, very loyal, bordering on fanatical. portion of society, MOST importantly it’s #PumpkinSpice everything season.

In keeping with the season, and my requirement that as many of the recipes I share be quick, easy & don’t require ingredients I can’t find at my local grocery stores, enjoy this granola recipe, found on Blissful Basil, that also fulfills a category I don’t usually include: it’s vegan!

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Granola ClustersSuper-Clustery-Pumpkin-Spice-Granola-1691

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats*
  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup raw shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup raw pecan halves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup creamy unsalted almond butter
  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 275F. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Add the rolled oats, coconut flakes, pepitas, and pecans to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  3. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the maple syrup, almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves, and sea salt over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and glossy. Pour over the oat mixture and stir very thoroughly to combine (you want every last bit of the dry mixture to be evenly coated).
  4. Turn the mixture out onto the lined baking tray and use a fork to gently nudge it across the pan, spreading it into an even layer that’s just shy of 1/2 inch thick. It’s okay if there are gaps or holes between clumps of granola.
  5. Bake for 38 to 48 minutes, or until the top is light golden-brown, the granola near the edges of the pan is just beginning to turn deep golden-brown, and the granola feels dry and firm but not yet crisp to the touch. (Note: I recommend keeping a watchful eye on it and checking it a few times as it bakes. Granola doesn’t become crisp and crunchy until it’s had a chance to cool, so rely on look and scent more than touch or you’ll end up with burnt granola.)
  6. Once the granola is ready, remove the pan from the oven and place it on an oven-safe cooling rack to allow air to circulate beneath and around the pan to efficiently cool and crisp the granola.
  7. Allow the granola to cool completely on the pan until it’s not even the slightest bit warm to the touch. If you start moving it around or try to break it into clusters while it’s still warm, it will crumble. I recommend a minimum 45 minutes of cool time at room temperature, but try to hold out for 1 hour if you can.
  8. Once the granola is completely cool, break it into pieces of desired size and store in large airtight glass jars to maintain its crunch.

This granola can be enjoyed many ways:

  • Crumble over plain or vanilla yogurt
  • Drop chunks over ice cream (my guilty pleasure)
  • Pile in a bowl, top with berries and/or some bananas and milk for breakfast; or
  • Eat the clusters straight from the jar

You can’t go wrong, no matter how you enjoy these.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Bacon, Gruyère & Spinach Quiche

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I love quiche.  It’s one of those dishes that can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or it can even be poured into mini muffin tins and made into appetizer sized servings.  Quiche is also one of the rare egg-dominant recipes that can be made ahead and frozen for later use.  This recipe is one I found in a Williams-Sonoma cookbook years ago, and one that is still featured on their website. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Bacon, Gruyère & Spinach Quiche

  • All-purpose flour for rolling out dough
  • 1 disk cream cheese pie dough, thawed, or purchased piecrust
  • 6 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

Prepare the pie dough (Cream Cheese Pie Dough link above) or remove purchased pie dough from package

Preheat oven to 400°F.

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch round tart pan and trim the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the overhang back over itself and pinch to create a sturdy edge. Pierce the dough all over with a fork. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Bake the pastry shell until the edges are lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool briefly. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.

Make the filling

In a frying pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the pan, add the shallot and cook just until softened, about 1 minute. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the spinach mixture to the bowl and stir to combine.

Bake the quiche

Sprinkle the bacon and the cheese into the pastry shell. Pour in the spinach mixture. Bake until the filling is set and the crust is golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool briefly. Remove the pan rim, cut the quiche into 6 wedges and serve warm. If freezing, set aside to cool (see note below). Serves 6.

Note: To freeze, let the baked quiche cool completely. Wrap in aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 months. To reheat, place the unwrapped quiche on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 325°F oven until heated through, about 40 minutes.

 

Start Your Meal Off Right

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When you’re relaxing before you’re ready to have dinner, but don’t want to sip on your wine without a little something to take the edge off of your hunger, these decidedly Southern, half moon shaped cheese biscuits are just the thing!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Southern Cheese Moons (Wine4Food)

  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cream together softened butter and finely shredded cheese, using the paddle on a stand mixer or a hand mixer.

Combine flour, salt, red pepper flakes, garlic, mustard, and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk together well.

Slowly incorporate flour mixture and cheddar butter. Don’t over mix, just combine.

Transfer dough to parchment paper. Gently press into one ½-inch oval shape.

Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, press cutter in dough. Then, slice in half.

For any remaining dough, shape into ½-inch ovals.

Place the cut half moons onto a parchment paper or Silpat-lined baking sheet. The cheese biscuits should be a minimum of 2 inches apart.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Transfer to cooling rack.

Enjoy these biscuits with a bold Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Syrah, Petite Syrah or Sangiovese. #GirlsGoneWine

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

pumpkin-cupcakes-with-cinnamon-cream-cheese-frostingIt may not feel like it, but fall really is right around the corner.  When the weekends bring football, the days of sunlight begin to shorten and there’s a barest hint of a chill to the morning air, so too comes the annual assault of all things pumpkin spice.

Good Housekeeping got ahead of the 2018 #PumpkinSpice season with this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with a decadent cream cheese frosting, and I, for one, am not content to wait until the leaves start changing to bake a batch of these babies up. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Jumbo Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

  • 1+1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1+1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 TBLS molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup (1 Stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 Cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine pumpkin, molasses and vanilla.
  3. In large bowl, with electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and beat in eggs, one at a time. Then alternately add flour and pumpkin mixture, beating until just combined.
  4. Divide batter among muffin-pan cups (heaping 1/4 cup each) and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack; let cool 5 minutes before removing cupcakes from pan to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 TBLS butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Cups confectioner’s (Powdered) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (if desired)
  1. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon (if using), and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
  2. To serve, frost cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Makes 12 Jumbo Cupcakes.  Store any uneaten cupcakes in the refrigerator.

Makers 46 & Snickerdoodles

TYSnickerdoodlesWhen I was young it seemed that there wasn’t a cookie that I didn’t love.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat 😉   Snickerdoodles were a particular favorite of mine!  I don’t know what I’ve been doing wrong, but somehow I’ve never managed to bake one that I absolutely loved.

Some were too crisp, some too soft, some too sweet and some have been strangely tasteless.  I was ready to throw in the towel and commit to buying my Snickerdoodles only from the bakery, when finally I found a recipe that satisfies my picky Snickerdoodle palate.

On Season 2, Episode 9 of Trisha’s Southern Kitchen on The Food Network, Trisha was doing holiday cookie baking.  One of the things I like about Trisha’s Southern Kitchen is that she cooks the same foods that everyday moms and wives have been cooking forever.  It’s salt of the earth fare that doesn’t involve a lot of fancy cookware or ingredients that are expensive and hard to find.  She makes the same mistakes in the kitchen that everyday cooks make and she laughs and has workarounds like we all do.

Trisha’s Snickerdoodle recipe was straightforward and was different than the others I had tried, so I decided to give it one more try.  The recipe was a hit with the family and not a single cookie lasted the weekend!  The ultimate sign of success in my kitchen!  To get Trisha’s insights and see her method, click on the episode link above to watch the video (about 2 minutes).

Trisha Yearwood’s Snickerdoodles

  • 1/2 Cup Salted Butter, softened
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Shortening
  • 1+1/2 Cups +2 TBLS Sugar
  • 2 Eggs (Trisha uses medium)
  • 2+3/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar and the eggs and mix thoroughly with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy and well combined, 1 to 2 minutes.

Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt, and stir into the shortening mixture.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon.

Shape the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls (1 tablespoon per ball), and roll each ball in the cinnamon-sugar.

Arrange the dough balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake two sheets at a time until the edges of the cookies are set but the centers are still soft, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through.

Transfer the cookies to wire racks for cooling.

Store in an airtight container.   Recipe adapted from Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen by Trisha Yearwood (c) Clarkson Potter 2008

I just broke the red wax seal on a new bottle of Makers 46.  The warm vanilla undertones of the smooth bourbon should go perfectly with the cinnamon sweetness of the snickerdoodles!  Looks like my evening is set!

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Oatmeal Cookies With A Sweet Surprise

oatmealcookiesI was feeling a little down today so I headed to the kitchen to change my attitude.

What better way to do that than bake some cookies?

Not content to make the usual “off the lid of the oatmeal container” recipe, I decided to tweak it a bit and came out with a cookie that smelled fantastic while it was baking, let me sneak in an ingredient my husband says he doesn’t like but I love (coconut), and went great with an ice cold bottle of Guinness while I settled in to watch USC Basketball play Providence #BeatTheFriars.

Oatmeal Cookies With A Sweet Surprise

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1+1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 (12 oz) package milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup packed shredded coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In the bowl of stand mixer (or a medium bowl if using a hand mixer) cream the butter, sugars, and vanilla. Mix on low speed for about a minute, then on medium for an additional minute until light and creamy.
  3. Add the eggs mixing on low between each addition. Mix on high for about a minute. The mixture should be pale yellow and very fluffy.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing on low until the flour disappears. Add the oats and mix on low again, just until blended.
  6. Add the coconut and chocolate chips mixing on low just until blended.
  7. Use a medium-sized cookie scoop (overflowing the scoop a bit) and place the dough on ungreased non-stick baking sheets about 2″ a part.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven for 12 minutes, or until the tops and edges start to turn a light golden brown.
  9. Remove the cookies sheets from the oven and allow the cookies to cool about 5 minutes on the pan before removing to a plate to finish cooling.
  10. When cookies are completely cool, store any you haven’t eaten in a tightly sealed container on the counter.

If it matters, the cookies even got my labs’ seal of approval.  After I spilled half a bag of coconut on the kitchen floor, which my labs were more than happy to help clean up, they were hounding around when they came out of the oven.  I gave them their own “cookies” but my black lab wasn’t satisfied with that and, even though she was SO BUSTED, I caught her standing up at the IMG_1743counter, as quietly as she could, eating as many cookies as she could (1 big one) before I got to her to get the plate out of her reach!

Before I get #HateMail, I know chocolate is bad for my babies, and she only got 1 cookie before I got her away from the plate, so don’t call the ASPCA on me.  It wasn’t dark chocolate so it was “less” bad, she’s a 90 pound dog so plenty big to handle digesting the minimal bit of theobromine in the maybe 5 chocolate chips in the cookie she managed to eat.  I love my dogs much more than I love cookies.  If you want to make them puppy safe just leave the chocolate chips out of a few.

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