Saturday, November 6, 2010

Two Pumpkins Cookies for the Price of One!

In my opinion, pumpkin is delicious. So in the last few weeks, I made two different kinds of pumpkin cookies. One was an old recipe from Real Simple and one was from JoytheBaker. Both were yummy, but this time my vote goes to Real Simple. Reasons being, I am not really a soft cookie kind of gal and secondly, I don't want my pumpkin flavor to be overpowered by sweetness. I found the cookie from Joy was a bit too sweet (maybe it was the addition of butterscotch chips) and just too soft. But do not be put off by these large cookies, the crowd went wild for these and did not take my side on either the sweetness or softness factors. So, you be the judge.

Enjoy the season and my your fall be filled with cider, pumpkin, and love.

Pumpkin Cream Sandwiches
From: Real Simple November 2007

They look like min-hamburgers, don't they?
I have wanted to try this recipe for a long time and finally did thanks to the extra pumpkin in the fridge and a impromptu party. People enjoyed them, making me wish I made a double-batch.

3 Tbsp unsalted butter; room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup cream cheese; room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Heat over to 350 degrees

Beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until smooth. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and egg and beat until combined.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a medium bowl. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar/butter mixture and beat on medium-low speed until fully Incorporated.

Spoon heaping tablespoons of the mixture 2 inches apart (about 9 on a pan) onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake until puffed and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Clean the mixer, as the cookies bake, and beat the cream cheese, heavy cream, and confectioners' sugar until smooth and spreadable.

Spread the flat sides of the half cooled cookies with the cream and top with the remaining cookies.

*Jenny note: I use apple pie spice because that's all I had, no complaints here. Secondly, I used a cookie scooper to make the cookies and they came out a little more perfect and less organic then if I used just a regular spoon. Just so you know. Lastly, I dusted mine with powdered sugar for looks.*

Makes 12 cookie sandwiches.

Super Soft Pumpkin Cookies
From: Joy the Baker

Ok so people liked these, but I think they look like aliens, were SUPER soft, and SUPER sweet. If you're into any of those things (aliens included) you may love these. The recipe is linked above to JoytheBaker. She's awesome and you should read her blog and make her food. Yummy stuff ladies and gents.

Hope this finds you well!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, Court!

Today is my dear friend Courtney's birthday! We are just one day a part and I love her so much! This girl has been such a gift of laughter, joy, and fun in my life! We have done so many fun things together; led WL camp together, gone on spring break together, traveled together, and just had really good times. She is one I will always carry in my heart.
Happy Birthday, my dear friend!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Suz!

Happiest Birthday to my dear friend, Susan! What better way to come back from a 3 week blog lull than to celebrate Suz? She is a wonderful woman of God, compassionate friend, and strong presence. She is bright, warm, and caring. All in all, Susan is simply great. 
Happy Birthday my far away friend!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Music on a Monday

This week is the Pygmalion Festival in the great C-U. I was thinking out some of my favorite people I have seen at this festival and Andrew Bird came to mind. Now, if your name is Courtney and you went to this Pygmalion show with me and Mr. S, then you would remember it as an emotional day to say the least, but I have seen him other times and I was in a much better emotional state.

Andrew Bird is an Illinois-native and is a true musician. He has an incredible, fluid voice and is probably the best whistler in the musical world. He has a fascinating style and is a one-man band, playing violin, guitar, banjo, harmonica, and bevy of other strange instruments he brings with him. This Windy City man is interesting, haunting, and takes you from the loud world we often are a part of and brings you into a quiet state of swelling sound.

Check him out.

Oh and P.S., he looks and talks like my friend, Stephe. I have always wondered if they are one of those long-lost brother stories you see on 60 Minutes. Hmmm...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Music on a Monday

This is Ray. I love him. Not like I love my husband, but I love him. He has music that can speak to my soul. I listen to him when I am happy or sad, on my birthday or worst day, rainy or sunny, and so many days and times in between. Ray is a man who sings from his soul and has a voice that is unlike many others. I discovered him on a soundtrack (A Lot Like Love) and instantly want to hear more from him. I remember listening to the soundtrack with my dear friend, Liz and then going out and buying his full album, Trouble. This was his debut and he has put out 2 other albums and recently an album with his bluegrass band, The Pariah Dogs. I have them all and had Mike and I not both fallen in love with Red Right Ankle by The Decemberists, I would have gone with a Ray song for our wedding dance.

Ray LaMontagne is such a wonderful and talented musician. Check out his albums Trouble, Till the Sun Goes Black, Gossip in the Grain, and most recently God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise. The first three are just him and beautifully painful and the album with The Pariah Dogs is more upbeat and bluegrass.

Check out him out for sure and tell him I sent you :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Three things I think are cool.

1. I think my banana-blueberry muffins are cool.

I found these muffins on tastespotting from a blog called Sweet Tooth. She said that these muffins "might actually make an appropriate and semi-healthy breakfast". The thoughts that went through my brain were, "I like to bake, I like to eat, but I'm on a diet. These may fit meet all the following criteria and still satisfy my belly." So off to the store I  and my students went (As a sidenote, I teach high school students with moderate to severe disabilities and we go into the community. Why not purchase some of your own items while these guys do the same? It only seems fair).

These have bananas and blueberries, whole-wheat flour, wheat germ (or flax seed), and all these other good for you things. The muffins are dense enough to last you through the morning, but still cakey so you'll actually want to eat it. The banana flavor was a bit pronounced, but I didn't mind that. I think they brought a nice amount of moistness to the muffin, that otherwise would have been missed. I also liked that they had a little bit of all purpose flour in them because sometimes too much whole wheat flour leaves your food feeling crumbly and dry. Overall these are winners and my whole family liked them :)

Her recipe says it makes 12, but I squeezed out 18, but from looking at her photos I think I skimped on filling the muffin tins. Oh well! It made for even distribution amongst the sibs, as they are the only ones who can regularly eat carbs.

Hit up Sweet Tooth for the recipe and note that I didn't have my wheat germ with me, so I used ground flax seed (I was at the 'rents house). They still had a heartiness and nice fiber content. So make these and start your day off right with a "semi-healthy" breakfast.

2. I think these cards are cool.
I went to Michael's yesterday because Mr. S wanted to play Madden at Best Buy. I asked to be dropped off, so I could meander through a craft store. Luckily, I had enough time to make it all the way to the $1 bins. I found these funny cards and bought several packs, but much to my surprise they are half-off! So, I bought 7 packs of 8 cards for $3.50. That was a bargain and these are hilarious. 
3. I think my cat is cool.
Those of you cat-haters out there need not apply because my cat is cool. She is funny looking, fluffy, and so adorable. She loves spring and fall because we can leave the door open and there is no worries of air conditioning or heat. This is her, enjoy.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cooking on a Saturday

This is one of my favorite times of year. As teachers, we are hopeful and ready to begin "the best year yet", the weather is beautiful (windows open, yes please!), and I have a renewed sense of purpose and excitement. I just love the late summer/early fall and I think it loves me back.

In celebration of my good feelings, I made a few things this morning/afternoon to enjoy throughout the week. Make one if you are in need of good vibes, or already have them, these are yummy treats for both states of mind and body.

Really Easy Hummus
Adapted from The Best Recipe and The Moosewood Cookbook

2 cans of chickpeas (low sodium, usually organic)
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 cup tahini (usually cheapest at ethnic grocers)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 of a bunch of cilantro
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
lemon juice, to taste

Put all of this into a blender or food processor, mix it up until you like the consistency and taste. If it is too thick or not blending well, add a little water, start with 1/4 cup and go from there.

Note to you: This makes a lot of hummus, so if it's just you or you don't want a ton cut this in half.

Second note to you: Try out different herbs and add-ins to spice this up. I usually make this with scallions and parsley, but this time did cilantro and extra lemon. What about some jalapenos? red peppers? sun-dried tomatoes? Try the base ingredients and then go from there.

Angel Food Cake
Found in Everyday Food Magazine

1 cup cake flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 tsp salt
12 large egg whites (room temperature)
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Sift flour and salt into a bowl and set aside.
3. With a mixer, preferably a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on med-high for 1 minute until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.
4. Continue to beat while adding sugar gradually and beat until stiff peaks form. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
5. Sift the flour and salt over the egg white mixture. While turning the bowl, fold the flour into the egg whites by slicing your rubber spatula through the center and coming up the side. Continue until all the flour is fully combined.
6. Spoon the batter into an angel food cake pan, ungreased, and smooth the top. Run a knife through the batter to pop any bubbles.
7. Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Cool while inverted, after 1 hour run a knife around the pan to release the cake and unmold.
9. Eat and enjoy with some fruit and whipped cream (make your own, take my word for it).

Another note to you: This is not a particularly easy recipe, but when you make your first 'perfect' angel food cake, you will be so proud of all your hard work and skill. Be proud of your mad baking skills, girlfriend.
My cake with spiced whipped cream.