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

photo 1

photo-46

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).

photo 2

photo 3

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.

photo 4

photo 5

photo-45

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.

photo-47

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).

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

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).

photo 4

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!

photo 5

Advertisements

Friday Faves

I spent an amazing three days in Hood River, Oregon last weekend celebrating the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends.  After a late night on Friday and a very late night on Saturday, however, it’s pretty much taken me the entire week to recover.  At “29 again” (and again) I just don’t bounce back quite like I used to – gone are the days of back to back late nights on the weekend, followed by functioning like a normal/productive human being Monday through Friday.  Does this mean I’m officially old?   Totally worth every exhausted minute, though.  A few highlights from my loooooooooong week:

spawater

“Spa water” – cucumber + lime + mint. I love keeping a pitcher in the fridge so that I’m more motivated to hydrate.

My aunt Molly and I share a love of granola (remember this?) – when I stopped by her house on my way out of Portland last weekend she sent me home with a yummy bottle of pinot gris and this bag of deliciousness – it’s made with coconut oil and coconut sugar and has been my after-dinner treat every night this week.  Healthy granola and pinot gris, best goody bag I could ever ask for.

Wine in a can, and with a bendy straw – what could be cuter?

Delicious Sunday night dinner at Cuoco – handmade parmigiano cappelletti with morel mushrooms, arugula, and peas; vanilla panna cotta with strawberries and Dahlia Bakery cookies + cappuccino.  It’s totally healthy as long as you’re sharing, right?

A few of my favorite details from Molly and Patrick’s wedding: hand-chalked welcome sign, gorgeous floral centerpieces, blueberry mojitos with striped straws being passed around during cocktail hour, and of course the spectacular Mt. Hood backdrop. It was such a fun weekend celebrating with old friends and new, and the perfect kick off to Wedding Season 2013. Congrats Molls and Pat!

 

Double Coconut Granola (and a Cookbook Recommendation)

IMG_6042

IMG_6036

For anyone out there who has a hard time coming up with what to make for dinner each night, I would suggest you order Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now immediately. It’s only $12 on Amazon, and it’s completely changed the way I think about cooking. The cookbook is divided up into 12 chapters – one chapter for each month of the year, and each chapter containing 10 recipes that should be made in that month. Maybe it’s because I love to follow rules, but this structure really speaks to me. I’m sure I used to at least subconsciously think about cooking/eating seasonally – and I’ll make any recipe I can find with the word “pumpkin” in its title during October and November – but I never used to think of April as the month for asparagus and rhubarb, or August as the month for eggplant. Ever since my friend Lindsay introduced me to Cook This Now, however, it’s been a fun new challenge to shop not just for seasonal produce but even meat and fish. Linds sent me the book at the end of 2011, so I set out to cook my way through it in 2012, Julie and Julia style. 10 recipes per month seems totally doable, right? Of course I didn’t make it, but in Month One I was still going strong. “Double Coconut Granola” was the last remaining recipe I had to try at the end of January last year, and I was (co)hosting my book club girlfriends for a getaway at Hood Canal the last weekend of the month, so I thought it would make a perfect “favor.”

IMG_6037

IMG_6038

It turned out so delicious that I made a second batch as soon as I got home from Hood Canal – and in order to not eat the entire thing myself (turns out granola is really just deconstructed oatmeal cookies), I packaged it up and brought it to my aunt Molly’s birthday dinner that night. She loved it so much that I had to make it for her again this year (and this time, give her the cookbook to go with it). Molly is one of the most generous people I’ve ever known – she is always thinking of others, doing for others, worrying about others – so of course I was thrilled to be able to give her something she was excited about. She never shows up to a meal without a delicious treat or the perfect bottle of wine, she never lets a birthday go by without an over the top gift, and when I offhandedly mentioned to her last year that a girlfriend was house hunting in her neighborhood, she found my friend (also named Molly) the perfect house, two houses down from her adorable bungalow in Northeast Portland. Now the two Mollys are neighbors, and theirs is a street I love to visit, granola in hand.

IMG_6039

I should probably tell you at some point that I really, really love coconut, possibly more than the average person. Granola, cupcakes, curries, pina coladas, you name it. If you don’t love it as much as I do, or if you don’t have coconut oil on hand, this recipe would work just fine with olive oil instead. And if you’re really coconut-adverse, you can leave out the flakes too – the beauty of homemade granola, I’ve found, is that you can tweak any of the ingredients to your liking.

IMG_6040

It seems wrong to be talking about a “monthly” cookbook, and then posting a recipe from the wrong month, but this granola is too good not to share, and I promise you it’s as delicious in February as it is in January. As I still have a lot of recipes to catch up on from last year, I’ll try to share them during the appropriate months going forward. And I can’t wait for next fall when I can write about my other favorite granola recipe, pumpkin pecan (see above re: making anything involving pumpkin). Who knew granola could be so seasonal?

IMG_6041

Double Coconut Granola, from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped raw pecans
1 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup coconut chips
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup dried cherries

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients but the cherries (I usually combine all the dry ingredients, then stir the maple syrup and coconut oil together and pour them over the oat/nut mixture and combine until the oats are coated).

3. Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake until golden all over, about 45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

4. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add the cherries, tossing to combine.

For another fabulous blog post on granola (because who doesn’t want to read more than one), please visit my friend Yoona’s blog. Yoona is my blogging inspiration, and as I was writing this I started to remember (panic) that she had already written about granola, and that I was accidentally copying her. Turns out she not only writes about it, but gives you her own recipe, and tells you how to package it much cuter than I do. I mean, even her ribbon looks better than mine. Dang it! Oh well, what are friends for if not to inspire us, right? Next time I’m doing a gift tag too.