Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I almost wore boots today, and it’s barely September. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year, and I do everything I can to encourage its arrival. I had a school meeting of a few moms at the house last night, and being unprepared with a sweet treat of any kind to serve, I went digging around my pantry and found a can of pumpkin puree.


Ingredients

For filling:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 stick of softened butter
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For cookies:

  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine flour, salt, baking pwder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, beat together eggs, brown sugar, oil, and pumpkin puree.
  4. Combine wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and whisk together until fully incorporated.
  5. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Drop 1 1/2 inch rounded spoonfuls unto the parchment-lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from pan and let cool on rack.
  7. Beat together (with a paddle attachment on a mixer) cream cheese and butter. Add in powdered sugar, and beat until smooth. Add in vanilla and blend well.
  8. When cookies are cooled, sandwich about 1 heaping tablespoon of cream cheese filling between two (comparable sized) cookies. Slightly press and adjust so that the filling is even and to the edge of the whoopie pie.
  9. Refrigerate before serving if you’d like the filling to firm up a bit, or serve as is, ooey and gooey. 🙂 Enjoy!

photo (22)

And in my usual fashion, I hunted around for the perfect recipe and ended up pulling and combining several, and tweaked here and there to make it to my liking. You’ll see that I used white whole wheat instead of all-purpose flour. I also don’t care for shortening-based fillings, so I went with cream cheese. Enjoy…and may Fall come quickly…

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup with Apples and Bacon

Roasted acorn squash soup with apples and bacon | gracelaced.com

Fall–in all her rustling leaves, crisp morning air, and warm, inviting aromas and flavors– is really like a familiar friend. She’s a welcomed friend, one you hope will come over early and stay long over a a warm cup of cider, or a bowl of steamy harvest soup. Serve her this one. I created this recipe by following my cravings…and you simply can’t argue with a pregnant woman’s cravings. Enjoy!

Roasted acorn squash soup with apples and bacon | gracelaced.com

Roasted acorn squash soup with apples and bacon | gracelaced.com

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup with Apples and Bacon

Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 1 hour | Total time: 1 hour 15 mins

Serves: 6

The perfect slightly sweet and savory soup showcasing autumn flavors.

Ingredients

  • 2 large acorn squash
  • 5 pieces bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 small granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • salt to taste
  • cracked pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a cookie sheet with foil, and spray with cooking oil spray.
  2. Cut acorn squash lengthwise and remove seeds and fibers. Place cut side down onto prepared cookie sheet. Roast squash for 30-40 minutes, or until flesh and outer skin is soft and just carmelized.
  3. When squash is roasted, carefully scoop out flesh and place in a blender and puree. You should have about 4-5 cups pureed acorn squash. Set aside.
  4. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, cook bacon on medium high heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  5. Add diced onion and apples to the bacon fat in the pot. Stir and cook on medium high heat until onions are translucent and apples are tender.
  6. Add pureed acorn squash, chicken stock, and apple cider. Stir gently until combined.
  7. Add spices, and salt to taste. Simmer on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, or until well incorporated and heated thoroughly.
  8. Serve hot soup with a sprinkling of reserved bacon and plenty of cracked pepper.

Roasted acorn squash soup with apples and bacon | gracelaced.com

Roasted acorn squash soup with apples and bacon | gracelaced.com

Roasted acorn squash soup with apples and bacon | gracelaced.com

Roasted acorn squash soup with apples and bacon | gracelaced.com

Roasted acorn squash soup with apples and bacon | gracelaced.com

Roasted Autumn Salad {Inspired by California Pizza Kitchen}

Have you ever had the Moroccan Chicken Salad at California Pizza Kitchen? It is to die for. It is the perfect Fall salad with it’s roasted butternut squash, beets, and dates. It’s an odd combination of flavors at first sight, but oh.my.word. is it good! I put my own spin on it recently, with ingredients I had available (which did not include lettuce!), and thought it might be worth sharing here. And, yes…it may appear an unconventional (and annoyingly loose recipe), but…you guessed it–it’s worth a try!

RoastedSalad

  • Lightly blanched green beans (I used frozen)
  • Roasted beets
  • Diced Roasted diced butternut squash
  • Roasted diced granny smith apples
  • Diced fresh granny smith apples
  • Pecans or sliced almonds
  • Diced dried dates
  • Champagne vinaigrette
  • Blanch, drain and chill green beans; set aside

Blanched green beans

Roast beets: Lightly coat in oil, wrap in foil, and roast in over at 375F for 45-60 min., or until tender. Cool, peel, and dice. (Salt and pepper, and add a splash of vinegar, if eating alone!)

Roasted Beets

Roast butternut squash and apples: Peel and dice both squash and apples. Toss lightly in olive oil and roast at 375F until lightly browned and tender.

Roasted apples and butternut squash

Add diced fresh apples, handful pecans, and dried dates, to the green beans, beets, squash and apples. Toss the entire mixture with vinaigrette. Serve chilled or at room temp. Enjoy!

Roasted Autumn Salad

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

It’s pretty much impossible to go wrong with tart apple and creamy caramel. Throw in some cream cheese and the turning of leaves, and you’ve got Fall bliss.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

  • Double batch of my caramel sauce 
  • 1 lb. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup  sugar
  • 2   eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 extra serving graham pie crust (or 1 regular graham cracker pie crust plus six mini graham cracker crusts for extra filling) 
  • 1 granny smith apple: peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon pecans for garnish

graham cracker crusts

Heat oven to 325°F. Make caramel sauce. Set aside to cool.

diced apples

Toss chopped apple with flour and cinnamon. Set aside.

helper

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer until well blended. Add eggs; beat just until blended. Fold in apple mixture.

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Pour a thin layer of caramel at the bottom of each crust. Pour cream cheese mixture on top of the caramel and fill crust, leaving 1/4 inch crust unfilled at top.

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Bake 40 minutes or 25 minutes for mini cheesecakes. Cool.

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Pour cooled remaining caramel sauce over cooled cheesecakes. Garnish with pecans if desired. Refrigerate 3 hours.

Caramel apple cheesecake

Butternut Squash Soup with Ravioli

There’s not much introduction needed here. If you saw yesterday’s post about the baby shower I threw over the weekend, and if your mouth was watering, then you are a Fall-flavors kindred spirit. Butternut squash is quintessential Fall. You’ve seen it in that amazing quinoa pie recipe, and now you can have this hearty gourd as a main course soup…Fall is here…savor it!

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup with Ravioli

  • 2-3 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into quarters
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter pinch ginger pinch cumin pinch nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 package frozen cheese ravioli (2-4 ravioli per person/serving) salt and pepper to taste molasses for serving (optional)

butternut squash

In a large pot, cook quartered squash, broth, and cayenne pepper, covered over medium high heat for 20-30 minutes, or until squash is very tender. Carefully ladle small amounts of squash and broth mixture into a blender, and puree until smooth. Set aside in a large container. Repeat in small batches until all squash and broth mixture is blended. Return entire mixture back into large pot, and add butter, additional spices, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on medium heat and add heavy whipping cream, stirring constantly. Simmer on low until ready to serve.

butternut squash soup

Meanwhile, prepare the ravioli according to package directions. Drain. Ladle hot squash mixture into bowls. Divide cooked ravioli among bowls. If desired, drizzle with molasses. I personally think molasses is NOT optional. 🙂

butternut squash soup with ravioli and molasses

October Is For Chai

Have I ever told you that our family took a trip to India several years ago? We had two kiddos then, and went with a group of college students we worked with. I will never forget that trip…the auto-rickshaws…the temples…the children…the many, many needs.

chai

It feels worlds away from the view outside my window this crisp October morning. It’s hot-air balloon time here, and my morning sky is dotted with them. It’s perfect weather for a cup of chai, a cup that may remind me that on the other side of the world, another is enjoying a cup as well. Another who will ride an auto-rickshaw today, on the way to a temple, passing the street children no one remembers. Another who has great need, for which I can remember to pray today.

chai ingredients

Homemade Chai

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  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teabags (black tea)
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 8 whole cardamoms (crushed)
  • 4 cinnamon sticks big pinch nutmeg big pinch of ginger sugar to taste milk to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, then simmer all spices in water until water is infused (about 8 minutes.) Add two teabags into the saucepan, simmer for another minute, turn heat off, and let alone for tea to steep. Add sugar to taste (I think I add almost a cup!), and milk to taste (I think I add almost a cup here too!).

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Strain, and serve hot or over ice.

Stout Stew

{photo from Williams-Sonoma}
{photo from Williams-Sonoma}

We had a special group of friends over for a dinner meeting last week. As the temperature has dropped in the evenings here, it is now the perfect time for hearty, one-pot meals. On the menu was this delicious beef and stout pie I discovered in a Williams-Sonoma catalog. The pie was complemented by a cranberry-pear-pecan-and-feta salad, baked brie en croute with a cranberry-blueberry chutney, crusty bread, and mashed potatoes. Dinner was followed by an apple tart made with rum-soaked golden raisins. The meal was rustic, made only more charming by the warmth of good company.

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Beef and Stout Piemy version, adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • 7 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 lb. white button mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 cups diced celery
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 1/2 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 cups Guinness Irish Stout
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 lb. carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1 lb. potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh thyme
  • One large pie pastry
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water

Directions: In a 5 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the mushrooms, onions, celery, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Season the beef with salt and pepper. Dredge the beef in the flour, shaking off the excess. In the Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add one-third of the beef and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Transfer to a separate bowl. Add 1/2 cup water to the pot, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Pour the liquid into a separate bowl. Repeat the process 2 more times, using 2 Tbs. oil to brown each batch of beef and deglazing the pot with 1/2 cup water after each batch.

Return the pot to medium-high heat. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add the beef, stout, broth and reserved liquid, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Add the mushrooms, onions, carrots, potatoes and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beef and vegetables are tender, about 3 hours.

**Update: I’ve been making this recipe mostly in the oven. I simmer on stovetop for only 30 minutes, and then transfer to oven at 300F for 2.5 hours. If making with the crust, I follow the directions for the crust:

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Roll out your pie crust to 1/4 in. thickness.  Crumble blue cheese on top half the pie crust.  Fold in half, and roll again, pressing the blue cheese between both layers of pastry.  Roll and shape to 1/4 in. thickness and diameter of dutch oven.

Brush the rim of the pot with water. Lay the pastry round on top, allowing it to droop onto the filling. Trim the dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang, and crimp to seal. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture, then cut 4 slits in the top of the dough. Bake for 30 minutes. Let the potpie rest for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8 to 10.