Pumpkin Sugar Cookies with Spiced Glaze

It’s time for the next installment of What’s Baking?. This time around the theme is pumpkin or squash (appropo, no?).

I love these sugar cookies!! They’re pillowy soft and so chewy and delicious. A hint of pumpkin, a hint of spice and sugar all rolled together with a thin layer of spiced glaze.

They were very easy to make and have stayed perfect in an airtight container for a few days. I froze half of the dough so that I can make them again soon.

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Pumpkin Sugar Cookies with Spiced Glaze

Ingredients:

Cookie:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup more for topping
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Glaze:

  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 4 tbsp almond coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. Prepare cookie shee(s) with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl put the butter, oil, pumpkin, and eggs. Mix until well combined and smooth.
  4. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and pumpkin pie spice.  Whisk well to combine and break up any lumps.
  5. Add 1/4 of the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix to combine, scraping down any on the sides of the bowl. Repeat until everything’s combined.
  6. Spoon large 1 tbsp mounds of the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
  7. Place the additional 1/2 cup sugar on a deep plate.
  8. Using the bottom of a glass dipped in the sugar, flatten each cookie round to 1/2 inch, dipping the glass into the sugar before each cookie.
  9. Bake for 8-10  minutes. They will not brown.
  10. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes then transfer to cooling racks with waxed paper or foil underneath.
  11. Mix the glaze. Spoon about 1 tsp over each cookie.
  12. Allow glaze to harden.

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Adapted from wishesndishes.com

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Delicata Squash Chili–slow cooker

So we’re coming up on the last weekend of summer. What a fantastic summer it has been-full of outdoor fun, friends, family and baseball.

But I’m ready for fall. It’s such a gorgeous time of year-the colors of the trees, the crisp blue or gloomy grey skies, fall festivals and I can finally pull my boots out again. I miss them all summer.

Even though there’s still summer left last Saturday started cold and rainy. So naturally chili came to mind immediately. The result of pulling different items from my pantry was delicious! Just enough heat, different tastes and textures and it’s very very very good for you.

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If you’re not familiar with Delicata squash it’s shaped like a giant pickle and is green and white striped. You can eat the skins but I prefer to remove them for this recipe. The taste is similar to acorn squash-perhaps a touch sweeter. They’re much easier to cut and peel than butternut or acorn squashes. Here’s a photo of the cap of the squash and the diced pieces. I forgot to take a photo of the complete squash but you get the idea 🙂
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Delicata Squash Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 4 cups (about 2) delicata squash, peeled, seeded and cubed to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 16oz can low sodium black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 16oz can low sodium red kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 20 oz can fire roasted tomatoes (I used Muir Glen)
  • 8ozs frozen corn or canned corn rinsed and drained
  • 4ozs green chilis
  • 1 & 1/2 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • fat free feta cheese for garnish
  • sliced avocado for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a shallow pan over medium high heat melt the coconut oil. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, to soften.  Add garlic and stir to cook. Add spices and cook for 1 minute to coat and heat.
  2. Place the onion mixture and all ingredients above through and including the chicken broth, into the bowl of the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour then low for 4 hours.
  3. Spoon into bowls and garnish with feta and avocado and serve.

Makes: 12 cups

Serving Size: 1 cup

Reheats and freezes beautifully.

To make vegetarian swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth.

 

Chicken Chili-slow cooker

It seems like this winter just goes on and on and on and on. In the usually average temperature of 40 island I live upon it has been freezing-single digits, tens, teens etc.. and we’ve been introduced to the ‘arctic vortex’ which sounds like some kind of ice cream treat they’d make at Carvel. Sadly it’s not ice cream.  So I’ve had the makings of a lot of soups, chilis, stews around all winter and it was time to clear some of them out of the cabinets to make room for (hopefully soon!!!) spring-time stuff! This chili is great for cleaning out the pantry. Adjust to what you have on hand. It’s delicious!!!

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Chicken Chili-slow cooker

Ingredients:

  • 24ozs boneless skinless chicken breast (about 2 large)
  • 1 small can diced green chilies (7oz)
  • 1 15oz can sweet corn kernels
  • 1 15oz can black beans
  • 1 15oz can red kidney beans
  • 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes with green chilies (I used Muir Glen organic)
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce (I used Muir Glen organic)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped small
  • 3 tbsp taco seasoning (or you could use one of the packets)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • Toppings-avocado, grated cheese, sour cream, fresh chopped cilantro etc…

Instructions:

  1. Place chicken in slow cooker insert. Add everything else, stir to cover chicken and combine.
  2. Cook on low for 8.5 hours. Shred chicken with forks, check seasoning and add salt and or pepper if needed. Allow to cook for another 30 minutes on low.
  3. Top with anything you’d like.  Eat!!

Perfect Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I generally am really not so good at making chocolate chip cookies from scratch. They’re either too dark on the bottom, too soft in the inside etc….it’s pretty sad really. I’ve baked those ones from the mix or the tube a few times, and they’re great, but I feel like it’s a real cop-out.

But these–these were perfect.  Perfect I tell you.  And so easy to make! It took me less than 20 minutes from start to getting them out of the oven to cool.

I found the recipe that I adapted to make these cookies on a container of Crisco that I had bought-probably during the holidays intending on baking tons of goodie-but never did.

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Perfect Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1&1/4 firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark-your choice)
  • 3/4 stick Crisco butter flavor all-veggie shortening
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1&3/4 AP flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a rimmed baking sheet (or 2) with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the first 4 ingredients and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl when needed.
  3. Add the egg and mix until combined.
  4. In a medium bowl combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir with a wisk to evenly combine.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the bowl of the mixer on low speed and mix until just blended.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
  7. Place rounded tbsp of dough 2.5 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 11 minutes for chewy insides and crispy outsides, a bit less for all chewy.
  8. Remove from the oven, let cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet then carefully slide the parchment with the cookies off of the sheet to cool.

The full recipe makes about 36 cookies. I baked half and froze the other half in a ziplock bag with the instructions written on the bag.

My New Bolognese

If there’s one sauce that I choose more than any other to have with pasta it’s  bolognese.   During my visits to Italy I enjoyed a nice bowl of pappardelle alla  bolognese more times than I can count. The best, in my opinion, were all in Tuscany but the best of those were where they also include wild boar sausage in the sauce.  Just delicious.  Not to mention the many local Italian restaurants near me that each make their own fabulous version of the sauce.

I had a recipe that I had been making for a while but the last few times I made it I was underwhelmed.  Really disappointed even. To the point where I just threw it out.  I couldn’t tell if I had over cooked it or if the tomatoes I used had a different taste or what but I knew I didn’t like it.  So there has been a pretty long drought for home made bolognese in my house. 

And then Carrie from www.carriessweetlife.com posted this beauty oh her blog. Pancetta. Red Wine (chianti-always chianti for me). Parmesan Rind. I new that I would love it. And I did. It’s my new bolognese.  So a huge GRAZIE to you Carrie. My freezer is now full of yummy bolongese. I adapted it a bit and it’s just as delicious as it sounds.

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My New Bolognese

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 5 ozs pancetta, diced
  • 2 lbs ground sirloin
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped small
  • 1 large carrott, chopped small
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 small can tomato paste (or half of one tube)
  • 1 cup dry red wine (chianti)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 28oz cans Muir Glen Organic crushed tomatoes w/basil
  • 2 14.5 oz cans Muir Glen Organic diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Rind from Parmesano Reggiano wedge/wheel

Instructions:

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large stock pot. Add the pancetta and cook until it’s cooked crispy.  Add the sirloin and sausage and cook, using a wooden spoon to break it apart, until browned.  Drain the excess fat from the pan.  Add the onions, carrot, garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened.
  2. Stir in the tomato paste until it’s evenly distributed throughout the meat and vegetables. Add the wine and cook, scraping the pan to get the bits off of the bottom, until the wine evaporates. Add the stock, tomatoes, baty leaves, oregano, pepper flakes and Parmesan rind. Bring to a bubble then reduce to medium low to just simmer gently.
  3. Cover and let it simmer for 5 hours. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Remove the bay leaves and rind before serving or freezing.
  4. To serve place cooked pasta and desired amount of sauce in a pan over medium heat with some of the pasta water. Stir to coat the pasta with the sauce and serve.
  5. To freeze let the sauce cool completely then spoon it into quart-sized ziplock bags.  Give the bags a few shakes or gentle taps on the counter to get the air to the top. Leaving just a small portion of the zipper open lay the bag flat and gently push the air out.  Zip the remainder of the way and lay flat in the freezer. Don’t forget to label the bags!!

So this is how much sauce this recipe makes.  Those are quart-sized ziplock bags and smaller 1-3 cup containers. 

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I have a funny feeling that the different brands of tomatoes that I used before this recipe were the problem.  After cooking for a while they tasted bitter and made the sauce yucky.  I recalled seeing that America’s Test Kitchen had done one of their comparisons of canned tomatoes recently so I went to their website and they recommended the Muir Glen Organic higher than any other and gave them a stellar review.  They were right on! The tomatoes were perfect and tasted just like they should. I hightly recommend using them.

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Butternut Squash Chili with Queso Fresco-slow cooker

This vegetarian chili is a delicious mix of flavors and textures.  It’s a perfect dish to put in the slow cooker in the morning and then have it be ready when you go home after work. I prepped the onion mixture, washed the beans and peeled and cut the squash up the night before while prepping that dinner, kept them all in the fridge overnight and then just put everything in the cooker before I walked out the door in the morning.  So easy. Super delicious.

You could easily add chicken or beef or meatless crumbles or, for a vegan version, use soy cheese.

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Butternut Squash Chili with Queso Fresco-slow cooker

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1&1/2 cups yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 1.5 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 1 lb)
  • 2 16oz cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1&1/2 cups water
  • 1 16oz can sweet corn, drained
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 28oz (or 2 14.5oz) cans diced tomatoes (I used Hunts Fire Roasted)
  • 1 4.5oz can chopped green chilis (not drained)
  • queso fresco
  • scallions

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large, non-stick skillet. Add the onion and garlic, cook for a few minutes until tender. Add the chili powders and cumin and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly.   Set aside.  (If you’re cooking ahead allow to cool completely and place in an airtight container in the fridge.)
  2. Into the slow cooker put the onion mixture, squash, and remaining ingredients through and including green chilis.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  4. Ladle chili into individual bowls and sprinkle with cheese and scallions.
  5. To freeze allow the chili to cool completely. Ladle into quart-sized ziplock bags,  get all of the air out of the bag, seal and freeze.

Adapted from Cooking Light Slow-Cooker Tonight! cookbook (which is very good)

Best Tasty Shredded Chicken BBQ-slow cooker

Real BBQ people will be rolling their eyes at this name won’t they? It’s not REAL BBQ since 1) I don’t own a smoker (and you really need that for it to be real BBQ right?) and  2) I cooked it in my slow cooker and 3) I used jarred (GASP!!) BBQ sauce.

I will assume though that I will be quickly forgiven for this naming faux pas once those eye-rollers taste this chicken. I didn’t name it what I did because it’s only mediocre.  It’s delicious. It’s also so easy to make it nearly makes itself.

I used a BBQ sauce from my local Fairway Market-it’s their own bbq sauce and was in the middle of the line-not sweet, not hot, just smokey with a fair balance of sweet and spice-but nowhere near hot. In fact, it’s called ‘Schmokey’ which I think is cute. So get yourself a great tasting sauce for this and tuck in for a few hours.  Look at that beauty!!

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Best Tasty Shredded Chicken BBQ

Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow onion, cut in half then sliced to 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced, seeds removed
  • 2.5 lbs boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (about 8 breast halves)
  • 1 18oz jar BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup cola (not diet)
  • 3 (+/-) tbsp arrowroot
  • fresh bread that can hold up to the chicken (I used fresh French bread cut thickly), thinly sliced extra sharp cheddar cheese etc.. to assemble sandwiches.

Instructions:

  1. Place onion and lemon in the bottom of the slow cooker pot. Place the chicken on top of that and pour the BBQ sauce and cola over it.
  2. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour and then cook for 4 hours on low or until chicken is cooked through.
  3. Using a slotted spoon or a spider remove the chicken pieces and put them on a platter to cool slightly.  Remove the lemon pieces and discard. Leave the onions and the sauce in the pot and add the arrow-root 1 tbsp at a time, stirring to combine, allowing it to rest for a few minutes and thicken. It might take another tbsp or 2 but be patient-it will thicken eventually.
  4. While you’re dealing with the sauce resting/thickening shred the chicken.  Forget the 2 forks. If it’s cool enough just use your hands and pull it apart. 
  5. When sauce has become thick add the chicken back into it, stir, and let it cook for another few minutes to make sure every little piece has a nice coating of sauce.

As far as serving I made an outstanding, but very simple, sandwich. I also think that this would be great on nachos, baked potatoes or hell just tasty with a fork.

This made 5 sandwiches like you see in the photo and I froze about 4 cups as well.

This was an interesting adaptation. I started off originally with the Chicken Barbecue recipe from the Cooking Light Slow Cooker book.  Everything is the same until the chicken is finished cooking.  The original recipe instructions were to mix flour and water and then add that to the sauce. Disaster. It rolled up into these disgusting globs as soon as it hit the sauce. I had to pick every one of them out of the sauce. Yuck. I’m glad I was able to salvage the recipe at all-even happier that it came out so amazingly delicious.  The original recipe also didn’t shred the chicken or make a sandwich-just served the breast with sauce on it. So I guess this is highly adapted from that recipe.

Homemade Chicken Stock (from left over roast chicken) slow cooker

I have always bought chicken stock at the store. (If you read my roast chicken post you know that this is only about the 4th chicken I’ve ever roasted.) But this time is different.  We picked most of the meat off of the bones and I put the carcass in the fridge in a container for 2 days until I had time to make the stock.  Here it is in the morning before it started cooking. Excuse the green tinge-my flourescent lights do that-but in there you can see celery, carrots, onions, parsley, thyme, peppercorns and just little flashes of what’s left of the chicken.

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Homemade Chicken Stock

Ingredients:

  • 1 carcass (hopefully with a litte meat still on it) from roast chicken
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 celery stalk cut into one inch pieces
  • 1 carrot cut into one inch pieces
  • some peppercorns (i used about 15 or so)
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • a few sprigs of fresh parsley
  • many cups of water

Instructions:

  1. Place the carcass into the bottom of the cooker–you may have to cut it into a few pieces for it to fit.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients through the parsley. Stick the larger pieces down into the chicken if possible.
  3. Add enough water to cover the carcass by an inch or 2.
  4. Cook on low for 10 hours.
  5. When finished cooking taste and add salt if desired. Let it cool in the cooker until it’s cool enough to handle then strain out everything, just leaving the liquid. Refrigerate until cold, skim off the fat and then freeze in portions to use later.

A tool like this is perfect for skimming the fat off of the top of the stock.

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I carefully ladeled stock into 2 ziplock bags and poured the remaining stock throguh the strainer above into a small container and put everyone in the freezer until I’m ready to make soup or use the stock for cooking.  I opted to NOT add any salt before I froze the stock. I will add it when I use it.

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Adapted from thekitchn.com recipe.

Sunday Afternoon Chili

The fall bug has bitten! I can’t wait to make up all kinds of soups and stews and have a gray afternoon with something simmering on the stove all day.

As I wrote in the post for the cornbread that I served with this chili, Husband and I had a Sunday football day at home instead of heading out to the bar with friends. That cornbread and this chili was our dinner and it was delicious. This chili is meaty, it’s bean-y, it’s got some underlying spice and heat but it’s not spicY or hot. You can always add a squirt of hot sauce if you’d like but I like to keep the heat factor down a bit and go up from there.

The original recipe called for smoking the meat but since we don’t own a grill or a smoker we skipped that step.

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Sunday Afternoon Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1&1/2 lbs ground sirloin
  • 2 cups diced Spanish onion (about 1 large)
  • 2 cups diced green pepper (about 2 large)
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed to a pulp
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced, seeds and spine removed
  • 1&1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1&1/2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1&1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 2 15 oz cans dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 ozs beer (we used Belfast Bay Lobster Ale-a red ale)
  • toppings of your choice-fat free sour cream, grated cheese, scallions etc..

Instructions:

  1. Brown the beef until almost cooked through in a heavy bottomed stock pot, drain the excess fat, then add the onion and green pepper, garlic and jalapeno and cook until beef is cooked through.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 90 minutes.
  3. Serve as is or top with a dollop of sour cream, grated cheese, squirt of hot sauce, scallions etc……

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Adapted from Brother Jimmy’s BBQ cookbook Smoky BBQ Chili.

Turkey Taco Soup-slow cooker

I realize that since it’s only September 9th that there are still 2 weeks of summer left. You’d never know that it’s still summer. Everyone apparently times the beginning of fall by when their kids go back to school. Well since my dog doesn’t go to school I go by the real seasonal calendar.

That’s not to say that  I won’t embrace everything fall early. I’m looking forward to making soups and apple this and that and pumpkin this and that. And I did have my first Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks yesterday: non-fat, no foam, 140 degrees, half syrup-and it was perfect.  It’s the PSL’s 10 year anniversary this year. Happy birthday you delicious wonder!!!

So on that note my first soup of the time surrounding the beginning of fall is here. It’s a delicious concoction of ingredients you probably have all of (or most of)in your pantry.fridge.freezer already. If you read my other slow cooker recipes you know that I became quickly enamored with that little machine.  Here’s another recipe to feed that obsession. 

It’s hearty but not heavy, it’s well spiced but not hot, it’s not too thick or too thin.  In other words-it’s just right.  I just served this plain in the bowl but you could always put a dollop of sour cream or green onions or cheese.

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Turkey Taco Soup-slow cooker

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 16 oz can kidney beans
  • 1 16 oz can pinto beans
  • 1 15 oz can sweet corn
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 4 oz can diced green chiles
  • 1 package taco seasoning or 2-3 tbsp home-made taco seasoning

Instructions:

  1. In a pan over medium heat brown the turkey, drain it and set it aside.
  2. Place the turkey and onions in the slow cooker, pour everything else in and stir.
  3. Cook on low for 6&1/2 hours.

Adapted from allrecipes.com. The original recipe called for adding 2 cups of water but I didn’t add any and the liquid amount was fine.  The original recipe also called for using ground beef but I changed it to turkey to cut calories and fat and to use up some ground turkey that I had in my freezer. I’m sure you could also omit the meat all together and add tofu to make it vegetarian.

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