Hello, Autumn: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies & Pumpkin Pecan Granola

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In case I haven’t already mentioned it, I’m pretty excited that fall is finally here.  I celebrated the autumn equinox yesterday with my first fantasy football win (woop!), and both my Huskies and Seahawks are off to a 3-0 start (unlike my fantasy team, which is now 1-2, or 1-1-1 if you don’t count tie-breakers, which I don’t think I should have to when they don’t go in my favor).  As much as I’m mourning the end of flip flop weather and longer, lighter days, I can’t wait to dig my boots, sweaters, and puffy vests out of the back of my closet, and start low-lighting my hair again.  And of course, before I’ve done any of that, I’ve already started making a few fall treats.  I’m going to try to refrain from overwhelming the blog with too many pumpkin-themed recipes between now and Thanksgiving, but I want to at least get a few of my favorites in before I delve into hearty soups and apple tarts (which I’m also pretty excited about).

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This cookie recipe is courtesy of my friend Amanda, who loves what she calls the “harvest season,” and everything associated with it, more than anyone else I know (this “some e card” that was going around social media last week applies even more to her than it does to me).  She made me these cookies a few years ago, and every year since I’ve had to ask her for the recipe as soon as it starts to feel like fall. In turn, everyone I make them for asks me for the recipe (or in many cases, just asks me to make them again and again), so I thought it only appropriate to post them as B&B’s inaugural pumpkin recipe. I made pumpkin snickerdoodles last week, and I have a pumpkin-oatmeal-raisin recipe on my “to try” list, but I feel like Amanda’s pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are pretty hard to beat.

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Amanda Brown’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies 

1/2 cup shortening (or butter; see note 1, below)
1 cup sugar (see note 2, below)
1 cup pumpkin purée
2 eggs
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, or 1 cup raisins and 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, then add pumpkin and eggs and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients and then add to pumpkin mixture. Stir in chocolate chips or nuts and raisins. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes.  Makes 2 1/2-3 dozen cookies, depending upon size.

Note 1: the recipe calls for shortening, which kind of grosses me out, but I use it anyways because I think it helps the cookies hold their shape. I suspect butter would be fine here, so if the idea of shortening doesn’t appeal to you, or if you don’t have it on hand, try butter instead (and let me know how it turns out).  Your cookies might be a little bit flatter, but that’s ok.

Note 2: the recipe calls for 1 cup granulated sugar; I often use 1/2 cup granulated and 1/2 cup brown and you can’t tell the difference. I know the “health” factor in that substitution is negligible, but it still makes me feel a bit better.

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In case anyone wants a non-cookie option, and because there’s no such thing as too much pumpkin, I thought this would be a good week for two recipes.  I’ve been patiently waiting to share this granola with you all since I first started Blueberries and Basil this past February (well past pumpkin season, which is why it’s had to wait until now).  I saw Sprouted Kitchen’s pumpkin granola on a cooking show last fall, and it looked so yummy that I immediately ordered her cookbook off of Amazon; while the book turned out to be a great overall investment, it would be worth it for the granola alone.  Homemade granola has been one of my favorite treats since my mom started making it a few years back, using her friend Finnegan’s recipe (thanks, Finn!).  Melissa Clark’s coconut granola, which was an early blog post, is similar to Finn’s, only using coconut oil; not surprisingly, this version follows a similar formula,  but uses (duh) canned pumpkin.  It would be hard to pick a favorite between the three, but this one really does seem perfect for this time of year, when clearly I like to make pumpkin-themed everything.  The pecans are a delicious, toasty addition, as are the golden raisins, but just like with any granola you can tweak the add-ins to your liking.  The recipe only calls for one-third cup of pumpkin, so even if you double the recipe, which I would recommend doing, a fifteen-ounce can of pumpkin still yields enough leftover to make the cookies above (or vice versa, if you make the cookies, save the rest of the pumpkin for granola).

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Sprouted Kitchen’s Pumpkin Pecan Granola, from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup Grade B maple syrup (I use Grade A, which is a lot cheaper – don’t tell!)
1/3 cup pumpkin purée
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raw pecan pieces
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup crimson or golden raisins

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup, and pumpkin purée and whisk to combine. Add the oats, pecans, and sesame seeds and stir until evenly coated. Spread the mixture on the baking sheet, keeping some of the clusters of oats and nuts intact so that the finished granola will have some chunks. Bake the granola, stirring every so often by scooping the mixture from the edges of the pan toward the middle and spreading it evenly again, until dry and light brown in color, 35 to 45 minutes (be sure to bake in a single layer, or steam created in the crowded pan will keep the granola from turning crisp). Remove from the oven and allow the granola to cool a few minutes. Add the raisins and toss to mix. Add another pinch or two of salt if needed. Cool completely before storing. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Makes about three cups (so I would recommend doubling the recipe).

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I usually just eat this by the handful, but it’s delicious plain with milk, or sprinkled on top of yogurt or oatmeal. If you don’t make cookies with your extra pumpkin, stir a little into your oatmeal and then top with granola for an extra-pumpkin-y treat.  Happy harvest baking!

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Friday Faves

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Happy fall, friends! Technically I’m two days ahead of schedule, as the equinox isn’t until Sunday, but its starting to really feel like the seasons are changing in Seattle. All my summer weddings are over, the air is getting crisp, and we’re almost four weeks into football season, so autumn is pretty much here in my book. Which is good news for so many reasons, including all of the pumpkin-themed recipes I get to start making. Cookies, muffins, soups, granola – I hardly know where to begin. And that’s just pumpkin, don’t even get me started on squash and root vegetables. If you have any favorite fall recipes, I would love to hear them in the comments. (I made these pumpkin snickerdoodles for a “new baby dinner” last week, if you’re in a baking mood this weekend – pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin granola coming Monday).

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How fun are these vodka escort cards at my friends’ Jody and Anton’s (half) Russian wedding last weekend?

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Love the fig garnish on this gorgeous tart (obviously not homemade, but maybe someday).

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I adore all of the beetle print happening at Tory Burch right now. Including this bag, and the Jasmine top that my idol Mindy Kaling wore on her press tour this week (seen here).

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Hawks tailgate on Sunday – crab feed, Philly cheese steaks, green and blue cupcakes and Jell-O shots, the Manning bowl, flip cup, and a tailgate puppy named Mosley. Have I mentioned how much I love fall?!?

Happy weekend, everyone! I hope yours is filled with pumpkin and tailgates, and/or anything else that you love about this season.

My All-Time Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie

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I was introduced to these cookies years ago, when our new neighbors brought them over as a “hello” gift (technically we should have been bringing cookies to them, but I guess we hadn’t gotten around to it yet). I’m not really a huge chocolate person, and thus not a huge chocolate chip cookie person. These cookies, however, also involve oatmeal, which I love – given the choice, as I often am at Starbucks, I would always opt for an oatmeal cookie over chocolate chip. They involve coconut, which is an unexpected surprise and adds a hint of tropical deliciousness (unless you don’t like coconut, in which case, what’s wrong with you? Also I think these cookies might change your mind). And lastly, they involve so much brown sugar that they taste almost caramel-y, which I think is really the best part. I can only make them as gifts, as to make them just to have them around the house would be to eat an entire batch of cookies in an embarrassingly short amount of time. But every time I make them, the recipient(s) inevitably ask me for the recipe, so I thought I’d share it now with all of you. They’re the perfect treat to bring to the hospital when your friend has a baby, as I did last week. They make a great addition to school lunches and care packages, so now is a good time to make them for new kindergarteners, anyone off to college, or anyone in between. And of course, if you need an excuse to meet your new neighbors – in the case of the original neighbor who brought us these, our families are friends to this day.

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One tip I learned awhile ago: always cream the butter and sugar(s) together for longer than you think you need to – 3 to 5 minutes seems like a long time, but it really does make a difference.

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Oatmeal + coconut + chocolate chips, yummmmmmm.

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I like to use an ice cream scoop to make (sort of) uniformly sized cookies.

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Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips (I usually use between half and three quarters of a package – you can use more or less depending upon how chip-heavy you like your cookies).
1 cup coconut (more or less, to taste)
1/2 cup oats (more or less, to taste)

Cream butter and sugars together for 3-5 minutes, until very light and fluffy.  Add egg.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add dry ingredients to butter/sugar mixture and blend until incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips, coconut and oats.  Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes (you may find your cookies need up to 18 minutes, depending on cookie size and/or your oven – that’s about how long mine usually take, but technically the recipe says 10-15). The cookies will keep cooking even after you take them out of the oven, so if you don’t want a super-crispy cookie, you can take them out when they still look slightly underdone.

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Friday Faves

Hello again, Friday. It’s gray and rainy here in Seattle, and I’m loving every minute of it (I can say that only after confirming the forecast predicts a sunny 75 for my friend Jody’s wedding tomorrow). I fell asleep to a thunder and lightning storm last night, and woke up feeling more rested than I have in weeks. I know fall isn’t here to stay quite yet, but I love these first few hints of it. Between two weddings, Husky football, my fantasy draft (ESPN gave my team an A, if you were wondering), and the birth of my good friends Wes and Kyle’s new baby girl, there was a lot going on this week. A few highlights:

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{brunch at the Agua Verde Paddle Club on Lake Union}

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{beet and veggie juice at Tom Douglas’s amazing new “urban marketplace” downtown Seattle}

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{nothing better than the Sunday sports page after a huge Husky win}

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{gluten-free baking experiment from Love and Lemons}

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{nothing sweeter than a brand new baby – and nothing more fun than putting together treats for her and her family}

Happy Friday, everyone! No Husky game tomorrow, so I guess all I can say is Go Hawks!!