Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Cinnamon-Vanilla Icing

I’ve been on a “use-everything-up” kick recently, and noticed that we had a lonely can of pumpkin hanging out in our pantry. I’m a carb lover (especially in the winter – I should be hibernating!) so cookies seemed like the perfect use for that can of pumpkin. The first time I made these cookies (without the nuts) they were pretty flavorless, but seemed to become more flavorful after sitting in the cookie jar for a few days. I decided to up the spice level and add the nuts the second time around, and they turned out much better.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Cinnamon-Vanilla Icing

Pumpkin cookies 1

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Icing

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl combine the flours, oats, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  3. In another large bowl mix together the sugar, oil, applesauce, molasses, pumpkin, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three batches and then fold in the walnuts.
  4. Drop tablespoons of dough onto a baking sheet and flatten with a fork. If you’re baking multiple sheets of cookies at one time, bake for eight minutes and then switch the baking sheets around in the oven. If you’re baking one sheet at a time bake for 16 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to racks to cool.
  5. Whisk the powdered sugar, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust ingredients accordingly. Once the cookies have cooled use a spoon to drizzle them with the icing.

 

Source: Adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

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Acorn Squash and Pecan Soup

I’ve mentioned my love of squash before, so it’s no surprise that I always seem to have one sitting around waiting to be used in some recipe or another. This time it was an acorn squash, and I wanted to use it to make something fit for a Minnesota winter (usually pretty cold this time of year, but we’ve been experiencing  a warm streak), something warm and comforting, AKA soup.

 Acorn Squash and Pecan Soup

Acorn Squash and Pecan Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder, divided
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin, divided
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup cannellini beans, drained and puréed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Mix the olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp chili powder, and 1/4 tsp cumin together in a small bowl. Brush the squash halves with the mixture and set cut side up on a baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool. Meanwhile, place the pecans on a baking sheet and roast for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Once the squash has cooled scoop it out into a blender or food processor. Add the pecans, vegetable broth, agave nectar, and remaining spices. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and stir in the puréed cannellini beans. Cook over medium heat until heated through.

Source: Adapted from Food 52

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Caramelized Nuts

Pumpkin is one of my favorite fall flavors, one that I occasionally like to use during other seasons. That’s one reason why I like canned pumpkin – it’s available year-round and it’s quicker and easier than using homemade pumpkin purée. I’d like to make my own pumpkin purée someday, but for now I’ll stick with the canned stuff.

This cake is chock full of pumpkin flavor, and the cream cheese frosting and caramelized nuts add a nice bit of sweetness and crunch.

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Caramelized Nuts

Pumpkin Cake 1

 

 

Pumpkin Cake 2

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp (9 ounces) pumpkin purée
  • cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • large eggs (room temperature), yolks and whites separated 

Frosting

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (AKA confectioner’s sugar)
  • pinch of cardamom

Caramelized Nuts

  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup mixed nuts (I used pecans and walnuts), crushed

Instructions

  1. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray, line the bottom with parchment paper, and spray the paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.
  3. Use handheld or stand mixture to mix together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and salt. Add egg yolks one at a time.
  4. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk egg whites until they’re foamy and white in color. Fold into the batter.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, checking for doneness with a toothpick or knife. You can cover the edges with tin foil and cook longer if the middle is not quite done. Let the cake sit in the pan for 20 minutes after you take it out of the oven, then carefully remove it from the pan and place it on a surface that will make it easy to frost.
  7. Make the frosting: Use handheld or stand mixture to mix the butter and cream cheese together. Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add the cardamom and mix until incorporated.
  8. Caramelize the nuts: In a small saucepan, caramelize 1 tbsp sugar, moving it around in the pan frequently so it doesn’t burn. Once it’s turned a nice golden brown, add 1 tbsp of butter and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens a bit. Add the nuts and stir to coat. Pour nuts onto parchment paper-lined plate to cool.
  9. Once the cake has fully cooled, frost to your liking, then sprinkle the caramelized nuts on top.

Source: Adapted from Food 52.

Raw Kale Salad with Vegetables and Cashews

Along with the garlic scapes, I bought a bunch of kale at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago. One nice thing about kale is that it’s pretty sturdy, so it can sit in the fridge for a while without getting wilted and/or slimy. I have a few days off this week, which means more time for cooking. I made one or two dishes this weekend, but the results were not very blog-worthy. Sometimes that awesome recipe doesn’t turn out the way you hoped, but you learn from the experience and know what to do differently next time. Yay learning!

Given my recent not-so-great recipe results, I was glad to find one that required little prep and no cooking (except toasting sesame seeds). This salad is light, healthy, and super tasty.

Raw Kale Salad with Vegetables and Cashews

Kale Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1-2 carrots, peeled
  • 10-12 cherry or other similarly sized tomatoes, halved
  • 3 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Massage the kale: remove the biggest parts of the ribs from the kale leaves, and tear into bite-sized pieces. Place into large glass bowl and combine with lemon juice and salt. Roll the kale leaves between your hands until they become softer and a bit wilted.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrot(s) into 2- to 3-inch strips. Add the carrot strips, tomatoes, and green onions to the kale and combine.
  3. Add the orange juice, vinegar, and olive oil and stir. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Add the sesame seeds and cashews and stir again. As with most salads, all the good stuff will fall to the bottom of the bowl, so make sure you include a little bit of everything when you serve the salad.

Source: Adapted from Keys to the Kitchen

Visions of Sugarplums (and Other Tasty Things) Danced in Their Heads

The holiday season is a great time to try out new recipes – many of us have some time off from work and are surrounded by family members and/or friends on which to test new creations. I’d been on the lookout for holiday recipes for a few weeks and found three that sounded great. These are all dairy-free recipes, the sugarplums are vegan and the thumbprint cookies can be made vegan if you sub something in for the honey (the original recipe used maple syrup, which I didn’t have on hand).

Sugarplums

Note: The sugarplums mentioned in the classic poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (aka “Twas the Night Before Christmas”) are very different from this more modern recipe.

Sugarplum single

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) pecans
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup (90 grams) dried figs
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) dried cranberries and/or dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp candied ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Topping: granulated sugar and candied ginger

Instructions

  1. Place the pecans and walnuts in a dry skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  2. In food processor process dates, figs, cranberries/cherries, apricots, ginger, orange zest, and cooled nuts until minced. Add enough orange juice to make it all stick together.
  3. In a smaller grinder, combine sugar and candied ginger and process until uniform in size. Transfer to a small bowl and roll sugarplums in mixture before placing on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  4. Allow the sugarplums to sit until they’re no longer sticky.

These sugarplums were a bit too tart/orange-y for me; in the future I will probably leave out the candied ginger and some of the orange zest.

Source: Slightly adapted from recipe printed in St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 12, 2013

Thumbprint Cookies

Cookies 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole walnuts (or other nut of your choice)
  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • Jams, fruit butters, etc for filling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor or blender, pulse the nuts until they are whatever size you prefer. I like the nuts in these cookies minced – I like the nutty taste but don’t want to be chewing large chunks of nut. Transfer the nuts into a large bowl.
  3. Using food processor/blender, grind the oats with the salt into a coarse meal. Transfer the oats to the bowl with the nuts, then add 1 1/4 cup of flour, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup.
  4. Pour the oil into the bowl, then add the honey. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined.
  5. Form the dough into balls about the size of a whole walnut and place on the baking sheet.
  6. Using a small measuring spoon or your thumb, make an indentation in the middle of each ball and fill with jam, fruit butter, etc. I like to taste a bit of the filling with each bite of the cookie, so I fill them accordingly.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies begin to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on pan for a few minutes. Move to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Adapted from The Kitchn

Dairy-Free Eggnog

Eggnog 1

Ingredients

  • 1 can (14 oz.) light coconut milk
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sweetener (your choice)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • freshly grated nutmeg to taste (and more for on top)

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut and almond milk to about 160°F. I used a meat thermometer to gauge the temperature because that’s what I had on hand.
  2. While milk is heating to desired temperature, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until they’re light yellow. Once milk temperature has reached 160°F, pour 1 cup of the milk into egg yolks while continuing to whisk.
  3. Once the milk and eggs are fully incorporated, add the mixture back into the saucepan and whisk to combine. Chill for 1 or 2 hours. I chilled the mixture in a metal mixing bowl in my garage for about an hour.
  4. When mixture is cool, pour into a blender and add the vanilla, spices and sweetener. Blend well. Grate a bit of fresh nutmeg on top and enjoy.

You can add more egg yolks to this if you like a stronger egg-y flavor. You can also add your choice of alcohol to the nog if you’re in the mood for an adult beverage.

Need to use up leftover egg whites? Use them in a variety of recipes or freeze them for later use.

Source: Slightly adapted from Indian Country Today Media Network

I’m Nuts About Almonds!

I’ve been maintaining a (mostly) dairy-free diet for a number of months now. I’m eating some yogurt, and the occasional dairy ingredient in something I eat outside of my home, but that’s pretty much it. I do like milk, and need the calcium, so I’ve tried to keep some sort of milk in my diet, trying lactose-free, almond, almond/coconut, soy, and flax. Nothing tastes quite like regular milk, but I’ve come to appreciate other qualities, like the awesome taste of almond milk with chocolate syrup – much richer tasting than regular milk because of the nutty almond flavor. I saw this recipe in Thursday’s Pioneer Press “Eat” section and decided to give it a shot, with adaptations to fit ingredient availability and the like

Homemade Almond Milk

Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of  ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Place the almonds in a large bowl and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Soak the almonds for 8 to 12 hours.
  2. After the almonds are good and soaked, bring a kettle of of water to boil.
  3. Drain the almonds and transfer to a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup of room temperature water to the almonds, and process for 1 or 2 minutes, until you have a thick paste. You can add a bit more water if the mixture seems really dry or isn’t moving around in the processor/blender very well.
  4. Transfer the almond paste to a medium bowl and add 2 cups of boiling water. Let steep for 10 minutes.
  5.  Working in batches, ladle almond milk  into a medium- to fine-mesh metal strainer over a bowl. I HIGHLY recommend lining whatever strainer you use with a few layers of cheesecloth, because I found that using only a strainer resulted in bits of almond in my milk. You can use the back of a spoon to press out most of the liquid, then gather up the cheesecloth and squeeze out whatever is left. If you’re going to be making your own nut/seed milks on a regular basis, it’s probably worth investing in a sprouting bag (here’s a recipe that uses a sprouting bag, complete with pictures).
  6. Add vanilla, honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk to combine thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Other suggestions I’ve seen: a vanilla bean instead of the vanilla, dates…
  7. Store milk in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days, stirring or shaking before each use. Store ground almonds in refrigerator or freezer for future use. I used some of the ground almonds in the recipe below.

Note: At the end I had a bit more than 2 cups of almond milk.
 

Almond Crescents 

Almond Crescents


Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup Earth Balance (vegan buttery goodness), softened slightly
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup ground almonds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using an electric mixer (handheld or standing will work), beat the Earth Balance, gradually adding sugar until everything is light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts and mix for one more minute.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour and ground almonds. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until combined.
  4. Spoon about one tablespoon of dough onto a baking sheet. Shape into a log and bend into crescent shape. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
  5. Cool slightly;  roll in confectioner’s sugar while still warm.

Source: Recipe adapted from Cooks.com