Iced Pumpkin Cookies with Cranberries and Chocolate

With the first snowfall of the season a few days ago, it’s really starting to feel like the holidays are here. I’ve started sewing an advent calendar, making gift lists, and stocking the freezer with food for a few social events coming up next month. And since it’s not the holidays without baked goods, I tried out a new recipe for pumpkin cookies that I wanted to share with you. These are cakey and moist, yet are very easy to whip up. They are just as good plain as they are frosted, and make for a crowd-pleasing dessert option either way.

Check out the recipe for Iced Pumpkin Cookies with Cranberries and Chocolate Chips here!

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Maple Cornmeal Muffins

I’ve had a goal to make a gluten free corn muffin that’s as good as those made with regular flours for a while now. Of all of the breads that I bake, corn muffins (and cornbread) is what I want the most during the chillier months. So after a bit of experimentation, I think I hit that mark with this recipe.

We love corn muffins alongside soup, stews, and chili—or warmed with eggs in the morning or on their own as a snack. I particularly love this recipe because (in addition to being delicious) each muffin is filled with protein and complex carbs, so they are more nutritious than the standard white flour variety. Plus, these muffins are moist and just a little bit sweet, with the pleasing texture that you’d expect from a corn muffin. You can make them sweeter with an extra drizzle of honey on top (and a smear of butter wouldn’t hurt either!), or spread with your favorite nut butter.

Maple Cornmeal Muffins
Makes 12 large muffins

2 cups cornmeal
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1 t salt
3 t baking powder
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup melted butter, slightly cooled
4 eggs
2 T-1/4 cup maple syrup (depending on your preference)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a standard muffin tin.
2. Combine the cornmeal, almond flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Whisk the applesauce, yogurt, butter, eggs, and maple syrup in a separate bowl. Gently stir the wet ingredients in the dry until combined.
3. Portion into muffin cups, filling almost to the rim, and bake for 25-27 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 2 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled, as you like.

Variations:
Use canola or coconut oil in place of the butter.
Try honey instead of maple syrup.
Add in 1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries.

*Have little ones around? Try this recipe in a mini muffin tin. Just cut the baking time down to 16-18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

 

 

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Sweet Baked Apples

I recently made Sweet Baked Apples for recipe.com and it was such a good way to use some of the apples that we picked at a local orchard. The apples were fairly small, so they cooked quickly, and they made for a pretty delicious dessert—and breakfast, alongside thick plain yogurt, the next morning. My girl may have picked out all of the raisins before going near any of the apple, but it was still a great opportunity to talk about the memories of our orchard adventure. And fruit is fruit, right?

Get the recipe here.

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Chocolate Chip Banana Snack Cake (and Some Links)

At some point recently, I promised Linden that we’d make a cake together. At almost two and a half, she’s got a better memory than me most days and she’s always bringing up small moments from months ago—so she of course didn’t forget about the promise. I’m sure I said it quickly in passing, while trying to convince her to put her socks on, or to come inside from playing, but whatever the original context, I’m so glad that I did.

We whipped together a one-bowl banana cake that couldn’t have been easier. She, with her apron on and spatula at the ready, helped me to stir the ingredients together and to mash the bananas. She tasted a few chocolate chips as we added them in and shook in just enough cinnamon. The cake came together quickly in a matter of minutes, so she remained interested in the process the whole time.

It cooled while she napped and when she woke up, she helped me use the electric mixer to whip together the cream cheese frosting. And once I put the frosting in a mound on the cake, she helped to carefully spread it out. We ate it together in the dining room for our afternoon snack and it was very nearly a perfect motherhood moment: We had fun, made something together, we got to share something delicious, and—most importantly—no one got upset or had a tantrum.

I hope the cake is equally as enjoyable in your house.

Chocolate Chip Banana Snack Cake
adapted from Flourless

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup coconut or canola oil
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon honey

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 9-inch cake pan.
2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, stirring to combine. Pour into cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.
3. Let cream cheese (full fat versions are best here) soften a bit room temperature*, then mix together with sour cream and honey with an electric hand mixer. Cover the top of the cake and serve. Store in the fridge.

*We were impatient with our cream cheese, so it was a little hard and thus a little lumpy. Still delicious though!

And now for a little link sharing of some recent work!

I’ve done two stories for the new Yahoo Parenting, including 5 Healthy Foods Your Toddler Will Eat and The Truth About Nightime Potty Training. The first one includes a few of our go-to recipes; the second explains why I’ve been so tired since August.

These Twice-Baked Pesto Potatoes are seriously delicious and were great warmed up the day after.

Looking for a classic Chocolate Chip Cookie? Try this one.

We love grits and we adore bacon, so when they came together in this Make-Ahead Bacon and Grits Pie, we were all happy.

Sausage Meatballs, need I say more? (Really, these are incredibly good.)

And finally, we had a huge potato harvest this year, and these Crispy Smashed Potatoes are one of our favorite ways to eat some of them.

 

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Continuing my obsession with the Flourless cookbook, I did a variation of the Banana-Cocoa Muffins this morning. Since it’s Friday and I actually slept past 6—a big feat given what an early riser I have—I thought it was a good day for a morning treat. I added peanut butter to the original recipe for a bit more protein, cut the amount of sweetener in half, used butter instead of oil, and used almond flour instead of ground hazelnuts. They needed to bake a bit longer than the recipe mentioned and I only got 10 muffins from my batch, but otherwise, these were delicious. These are definitely going into regular rotation—and I am betting that I will frost them one day soon and serve them up as cupcakes!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins
Adapted from Flourless
Makes 10 muffins

2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 large eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup melted butter, slightly cooled
1/2 cup almond meal or almond flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a muffin tin.
2. Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until well combined and the batter is smooth. Fill 10 muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 30-32 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then cool on a rack.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Bread

I’ve been trying out a lot of gluten-free recipes lately and I’ve found a few that are definitely keepers. The first is this recipe for Flourless Banana Muffins, that when I made them for the first time, my family of three ate half of the batch of 12 in one sitting. They are pretty amazing. (I skipped the sugar and the chocolate since my girl has plenty of energy all on her own first thing in the morning, but do what you will.)

The second recipe is the one you see here, which is a variation on this Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread. I did the coconut flour variation with almond butter and used roasted and pureed butternut squash since that seems to be much more plentiful at our farmers market than baking pumpkins. I also used 1/4 cup honey instead of the maple syrup that was called for since that’s what I had on hand. I figured that since I’ve swapped in squash for pumpkin in pie, then doing so in bread would work just as well.

I’m pretty amazed that this loaf baked up with such a nice shape and that it holds together when sliced. I haven’t been on a strict gluten-free diet since before my daughter was born and I’m delighted to find that the recipes have improved even since then!

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies

I have sometimes been known to complicate matters when it comes to food, but after almost 2 and a half years of being a mama, I’m learning that often, the simpler the better. And such is the case with these crazy easy cookies. Without the need of an electric mixer or any other special equipment, these chocolatey cookies come together in one bowl (okay, two since you need one to melt the butter). You can make the batter ahead of time and stick it into the fridge until you are ready to bake and they even taste great when not super fresh.

Basically, they are the best of both a brownie and a cookie and when I recently made a batch for a party, all but one cookie was gone before dinner had even started. That to me is a total success. (I was relieved that the kids who ate them all spent the party running around playing soccer and jumping rope, which made me pretty sure that they weren’t still hopped up on sugar when they got home that night!) And since almost every dinner or party that we’re invited to is a potluck, I’m considering these my go-to for all events until further notice.

Click on over to recipe.com for the full recipe!

 

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Hash-Brown Crusted Veggie Pizza

We have harvested a load of homegrown potatoes—and for once I am not exaggerating. You know those boxes that reams of copy paper come in? We have three of them piled full of potatoes and there’s still more harvesting to do. I am hoping that we donate or share the rest of them because even with the cool storage in our basement, I’m not sure that it would be possible for us to eat them all.

Volume aside, these are some of the most delicious potatoes that I’ve ever tasted. There are a few different kinds but the German Pink and Yukon Gold are my favorite. They are creamy, buttery, and amazing when roasted whole in foil and topped with butter, salt, and sour cream. And they made a really delicious and crunchy base for this pizza-quiche dish shown here.

Click over to Recipe.com to learn more about this recipe and to try it out for yourself. It’s a great option for a simple end of summer dinner, or even brunch with the family.

 

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Cornmeal Muffins with Yellow Squash and Raisins

We’ve been trying to soak up the last bit of summer before school starts up again, which means that we’ve been enjoying lots of dinners on the porch with friends. Since those dinners tend to involve a lot of playtime with the kids, I always try to prepare the food ahead of time so that I’m not scrambling in the kitchen while also trying to jump rope or kick a soccer ball. At times this has meant classic potato salad with green beans and cucumbers with grilled brats, or a very simple pasta salad made with tomatoes marinated in olive oil and basil alongside muffins.

These muffins were a total surprise hit. I thought we had gotten zucchini in our CSA share but only found yellow squash when I looked in the fridge. I figured that it would probably work just as well, so I grated enough to make a cup when drained and packed.

This recipe is pretty basic, though the combination of all purpose flour and cornmeal lends a nice flavor and a surprising texture that will remind you of cornbread. They were moist, and just slightly sweet—and no one could tell that there was a vegetable inside. The kids all gobbled theirs up drizzled with honey (so did the adults!). You could use chopped walnuts or even chocolate chips instead of raisins and increase the sugar if you like a sweeter type of muffin. Just be sure to mix the batter gently to keep the final result light and airy.

Cornmeal Muffins with Yellow Squash and Raisins
Makes 12

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup grated yellow squash, squeezed well and packed
1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Coat a muffin tin with oil or nonstick spray. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Mix the wet ingredients and grate the squash. Squeeze it with your hands to release as much water as possible.
2. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, then gently stir in the squash and raisins. Fill muffin cups evenly, about to the rim of each cup. Bake for 22-26 minutes or until lightly browned. Let sit in tin for 5 minutes then cool on a baking rack. Serve slightly warm if possible.

 

 

 

 

 

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Roasted Vegetable and Tomato Salad

 

This salad is a perfect example of how I like to cook in the summer. It makes use of a load of vegetables, is fresh, flavorful, and simple. And it’s more of a method than a recipe since it can follow the lead of whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand.

Basically you:
1. Roast a sheet pan full of chopped vegetables coated in olive oil, salt, and pepper at 400 F for 20-25 minutes or until soft and starting to brown. I used zucchini, yellow squash, onions, and eggplant. Let cool slightly.
2. Toss with as many chopped ripe tomatoes as you like. Add a handful of shredded basil and stir to combine. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
3. Serve as is or top with crumbled feta, goat cheese, aged cheddar, nuts, white beans, or chopped cooked chicken as you like.

The juices from roasting and from the tomatoes combine to form a sort of a dressing, so you don’t need anything else drizzled on top. You might also want to consider serving with crusty bread so you can sop up all of the juices!

 

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