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  • Have a Spooky Halloween!

    Cheddar Witches Fingers - Cheese straws in the shape of fingers, complete with a black almond "finger nail." Delicious and totally spooky.

    Candy Apples - You don't need to go to the fair to get my favorite treat because you can make these at home. Black food coloring gives them a festive touch.

    Pumpkin Caramel Sauce - Having a not-so-scary Halloween party? Serve ice cream with this pumpkin infused caramel sauce on top.

Monthly Archives: September 2010

Iced Pumpkin Cookies


It’s finally cooling off here in Virginia, and I’m excited to share more pumpkin recipes with you!  Fall is my favorite time of year for several reasons, and baking with pumpkin is high on the list.  I have close to sixty pumpkin recipes bookmarked, so I can assure you that many more will popping up between now and Thanksgiving.

These pumpkin cookies are actually more cake-like than cookie.  They’re soft and pillowy, much like a cupcake, and they’re full of pumpkin flavor.  The spices make the cookies taste even more like fall, with the perfect amount of spices to pumpkin.  The thing that really sets these cookies apart is the the cream cheese icing.  Pumpkin and cream cheese are often paired together, and now I understand why it’s such a popular combination.  The icing takes these cookies from good to phenomenal.  With these cookies and a pumpkin spice latte, I’m ready to welcome fall with open arms.

I’ve made these cookies twice, once with Libby’s pumpkin purée and once with organic pumpkin purée.  I didn’t get the orange color this time around (when I used the organic kind), but I expected that since the purée itself was lighter in color.  However, the flavor was still just as good.  I plan on making my own pumpkin purée soon, since I know I’ll be using so much of it in the next couple months.


Iced Pumpkin Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
(You can substitute 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice for the previous three spices.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups pumpkin purée
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar

-Preheat oven to 350º.  Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.
-In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Set aside.
-In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until fluffy.
-Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla.  Continue beating until creamy.  Gradually beat in dry ingredients.
-Drop batter onto cookie sheet by heaping tablespoonfuls and flatten slightly.
-Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool on racks.
-While cookies are cooling, prepare frosting.
-In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine powdered sugar and cream cheese on low speed.  For extra flavor, add an extra teaspoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
-Once cookies have cooled completely, pipe or spread the frosting on as desired.

Yield: About 40 cookies

Adapted from Gimme Some Oven, originally from All Recipes

Pumpkin Spice Syrup for Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Pumpkin Spice Syrup
It’s been almost a month since pumpkin spice lattes made their seasonal debut. Like so many others, I get more than excited when they come out every year. However, getting them frequently can become an expensive and unhealthy habit. You can easily make them at home, though, which at least helps with the expensive part. While it may not be healthy, this version is made with all natural ingredients, which has to make it at least somewhat healthier than the Starbucks version.

As far as taste goes, this is unbelievable. It tastes like fall in a glass. I’ve made the syrup two times now, and I adapted it just a bit the second time by increasing the amount of pumpkin and nutmeg and reducing the amount of cinnamon. I prefer nutmeg over cinnamon, so I changed the recipe to suit my tastes. Feel free to adapt this how you like – with more or less spices. Either way you make it will be delicious, and you may even kick your Starbucks habit.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup and Latte

Get the recipe »

Black Bean Burgers

Black Bean Burger

I don’t know when it happened, but at some point, I started to incorporate more vegetarian meals into my weekly meal plans.  At first, they were mostly pasta dishes.  Then I noticed myself looking for and saving recipes that I probably wouldn’t have saved a year ago.  Now, Eric and I are more willing to try foods that were previously unfamiliar to us.  It just goes to show you that a simple change can result in an even bigger one.  :)

These black bean burgers are a great dish if you want to try a vegetarian meal, but are still a little timid about trying something totally different.  I love the flavors the cumin, paprika and Sriracha provide.  The Sriracha also adds just a bit of kick, making these burgers really stand out from others I’ve tried.  In terms of texture, I thought these were perfect.  The burgers firm up nicely in the oven, resulting in a kind of crunchy exterior, while the interior remains soft.  For topping, Eric and I both added a little Sriracha mayonnaise.  I’m not generally a fan of mayonnaise, but something about adding Sriracha to it makes me like it.  It tastes fantastic on these burgers, but they’re certainly quite delicious on their own.  If you’re like us and have leftovers, these freeze and reheat incredibly well.

Black Bean Burger

Black Bean Burgers
2 (14oz.) cans low-sodium black beans, drained and well rinsed
small yellow onion
1/2 large green pepper, seeds removed
1 large carrot
1 large clove garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Sriracha or other chili garlic sauce
1 egg
1/4 cup herbed bread crumbs

-Preheat oven to 350º and line baking sheet with parchment or nonstick foil.
-Add onion, green pepper, carrot and garlic to food processor.  Pulse to mince and combine well.
-Transfer mixture to a fine mesh strainer and press to remove any excess liquid.  Set aside.
-In a medium bowl, use a fork to smash black beans into a paste.  Add onion mixture and remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  
-Form mixture (which will be a sticky) into bun shaped patties.  Place on baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until edges are crispy.
-Serve immediately.
-To freeze leftovers, place in a single layer on a baking sheet in the freezer.  Once fully frozen, package in a freezer bag or other storage container.

Makes 8 burgers

Adapted from Good Things Catered

Smoky Baked Beans

Smoky Baked Beans

I’ve never really liked baked beans.  Before I met Eric, I don’t think I ever tried any that weren’t from a can, which was probably why I never liked them.  Thankfully for me, Eric’s mom makes delicious baked beans.  She does start with canned baked beans, but she adds several ingredients to turn them into something delicious.  If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have given this recipe a second look, but I’m so glad I did.  Once I saw that these are made with chipotle, bacon and beer, I was sold.

These baked beans are full of flavor.  They get smokiness from the chipotles and sweetness from the molasses and brown sugar.  If you want more heat, you can certainly add another chipotle.  The bacon retains just enough crispiness to add a contrasting texture to the beans.  Plus, they’re incredibly simple to make.  There’s absolutely no need to buy the canned kind when you can easily make these at home.  These would be a great side dish for any cookout or football watching party.

Smoky Baked Beans

Smoky Baked Beans
1 28oz. can Navy or Great Northern beans, drained
half a small onion, about 1/4 cup minced
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup beer
1 chipotle in adobo, minced
3 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled

-Preheat oven to 350º.
-Combine all ingredients in an 8×8 casserole dish.
-Cover with foil and bake for 1-1 1/2 hours.  The sauce will thicken the longer they cook, so check them after an hour and continue baking if a thicker sauce is desired.

Adapted from life, in recipes

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Fall weather is slowly creeping up on us here in Virginia.  Squash is starting to show up at the market, and soon all the gorgeous summer tomatoes will be gone.  Eric and I bought a butternut squash at the farmers market last weekend specifically for making this soup.  I have a feeling we’ll be getting another one this weekend because this soup is too good not to make again.  I can’t wait to make it when cooler weather arrives.

This soup is not your average butternut squash soup.  Sausage and cannellini beans make it thick and hearty.  It gets a good bit of smokiness from the Ancho chili, and the spices add so much earthiness and depth.  The butternut squash is still the star of this dish, but it’s accompanied by several wonderful flavors.  I imagine this soup could turn even the squash haters out there into squash lovers.

This soup can be adapted to your liking.  Eric and I chose to blend the soup before adding the sausage and cannellini beans, but you could certainly blend all of it for an even thicker soup.  Also, the sausage can be easily omitted for a vegetarian entree.  As much as I enjoyed the sausage in this soup, the soup would still be quite delicious and filling without it.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
1 medium butternut squash
olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. ground hot Italian sausage
1 small leek, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Ancho chili, stem removed
2 tablespoons white wine
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
2 tablespoons fresh sage
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
dash ground cloves
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons creme fraiche, plus more for serving
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

-Preheat oven to 400º.
-Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and pulp.  Reserve seeds for roasting, if desired.
-Place squash, on a rimmed baking sheet.  Rub cut side with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.    Flip over so that the flesh (cut) side is down.  Roast for about 45 minutes, until skin is blistered and flesh is fork tender.
-Meanwhile, toast the ancho chili in a small skillet over medium high heat for about 1 minute, turning often.  Set aside.
-Brown sausage in a medium pot over medium high heat.  Drain sausage and set aside, leaving about 1 tablespoon grease.
-Once squash is cooked and cooled to touch, remove and discard skin.
-Using the same pot as the sausage, sauté the leek, celery and carrot for 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue sautéing until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
-Use wine to deglaze the pot.
-Add broth, squash, herbs, spices and chili.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Allow to simmer 15 minutes.
-Using a blender, purée soup until smooth.  Return to heat and add heavy cream and creme fraiche.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add sausage and cannellini beans and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
-Alternately, add sausage and cannellini beans before blending, if desired.
-Top with additional creme fraiche for serving.

Serves 4

Adapted from Mike’s Table