Thanksgiving Faves

IMG_4672{pumpkin pie cookies}

Happy Thanksgiving Week! Are you ready for Thursday? I’m clearly running behind this week, as this was supposed to be a Friday Faves post, and then a Monday Faves post, and now here we are, two days before the big day. You probably have all of your menu planning figured out, your shopping done, and everything prepped as much as possible by now.  But hopefully a few of these links might still come in handy, or perhaps like me, you can just bookmark them for next year.

FullSizeRender{Glassybaby + glitter leaves}

IMG_4646{my favorite side dish}

IMG_1041{Harper’s Thanksgiving present from Auntie}

IMG_4767{I got these outfits on sale at Baby Gap last fall – so excited they finally fit}

Friday Faves

IMG_3473{pumpkin snickerdoodles}

What are you up to this weekend? I have a long and ambitious list that includes a haircut, a trip to the pumpkin patch, and three dozen pumpkin sugar cookies that need decorating. [I have a new little cousin/nephew as of 2:00 this afternoon, just in time to get his name on his cookie! And one of B&B’s most loyal readers also welcomed a baby boy today – happy birthday Gavin and Cooper!] Some fun links and pics for your evening (I was supposed to post this 12 hours ago and somehow forgot ~ I’m blaming an early morning spin class that really threw off my routine):

IMG_3474{my new ‘godmotherglassybaby from my sweet godson}

photo-125{soup weather, finally}

IMG_3475{my new favorite sunscreen, thanks to my friend (and supergoop guru!) Steph}

IMG_3497{topping bar at Portage Bay Cafe, yum}

More Pumpkin: Pumpkin Black Bean Soup and Pumpkin Bread Pudding

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Three weeks ago I wrote something about how now that it was fall, I would be inundating this blog with more pumpkin recipes than anyone could ever want or need. I promptly made and posted two, made two more, started a post about them, and then apparently got distracted/lost interest.  I wish I had a good excuse as to why, but I really don’t.  Sometimes it’s just hard to sit in front of a computer and force yourself to do anything, whether it be work, returning emails (something else I’ve been really bad about lately), paying your phone bill (oops!!), or finishing up a blog post. This post has been sitting in my draft folder for the better part of three weeks, so despite the blue skies and warm temperatures today, I thought it would be a good time to finally get it up.

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Both of these recipes are from Smitten Kitchen, who probably thinks I need to stop stealing her recipes. Or would, if she knew my blog existed. Both are incredibly easy and delicious, though, so I couldn’t help but share. I went to the store for soup ingredients but somehow came home with a couple extra cans of pumpkin, which was all the excuse I needed to try her bread pudding recipe I never got around to last fall.

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This soup comes together in no time, especially if you get the pre-chopped onion, shallot, and garlic from Trader Joe’s that I discuss below. I omitted the ham from the original recipe, and used chicken stock instead of beef – if you wanted to make it entirely vegetarian I’m sure vegetable stock (or even water) would work as well. I also misread the recipe to read one can tomatoes rather than one cup, but mine turned out fine so that’s what I suggest (I used a 28 ounce can, you could use a 15 ounce can if that’s what you have on hand – I don’t think it will make a ton of difference).

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Pumpkin Black Bean Soup, modified from Smitten Kitchen

3 15 1/2 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can drained canned tomatoes
1 1/4 cups chopped onions*
1/2 cup minced shallot*
4 garlic cloves, minced*
1 tablespoon cumin seed, optional
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil or butter
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 15 1/2 ounce can pumpkin (or about 1 1/2 cups from a larger can)
1/2 cup dry sherry
3-4 tablespoons sherry vinegar, optional

*I list the amounts suggested in the original recipe, but – full disclosure – I actually used the pre-chopped onion, shallot, and garlic mixture from Trader Joe’s. I used two packages (they come in a small plastic container and are found in the refrigerated section of the produce department) and my soup turned out delicious. I’m sure it’s equally as good, if not better, if you follow the directions, but I had my soup ready to go (it just needed to simmer) 15 minutes after arriving home from the grocery store.

Heat olive oil or butter (you can get away with less than 1/4 cup if you’re trying to be healthy) in a dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, shallot, salt, pepper, cumin, and cumin seed if using, and sautée until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. While the onion mixture is sautéing, pulse black beans, tomatoes, and pumpkin in the food processor until coarsely puréed (aside from rinsing the beans and draining the tomatoes, you literally just dump five cans in the food processor and blend.). Add bean mixture to the pot and then add stock and sherry; stir until well combined. Simmer 25 minutes, or until thick. Serve garnished with pumpkin seeds, sour cream or Greek yogurt, and sherry vinegar, if using (I didn’t, as I couldn’t find it at the store, and it didn’t seem to be missing anything).

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And then, just because I was in a baking mood – and because it’s October – pumpkin bread pudding.  I’m not a huge bread pudding person, but (clearly) if you put “pumpkin” in the title of something I will want to make it.  And in this case I’m really glad I did, as it tastes like a boozy pumpkin pie in bread pudding form.

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This recipe is also super quick – if you started it once you finished up the soup you could have it in the oven before the soup was finished simmering – leaving plenty of time to clean the kitchen, even. I suspect it would be delicious with raisins, which I’m going to add next time, although it certainly doesn’t need them (I realize there are a lot of anti-raisin people out there).

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding, from Gourmet Magazine via Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 cups whole milk (or half nonfat milk, half half and half, if that’s what you have in your fridge)
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (I used a whole cup)
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus one yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
2 tablespoons bourbon (optional – this makes for a super boozy bread pudding so you might want to use less if you don’t love bourbon or want the kiddos to eat it)
5 cups cubed (one-inch cubes) day old or crusty bread (I didn’t have any on hand so I cubed a fresh loaf and then spread the cubes on a baking sheet and let them dry out in the oven while it preheated)
3/4 stick unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with rack in the middle. Mix all ingredients but bread and butter in a bowl and whisk well. Toss bread cubes with melted butter until well coated, and then mix with pumpkin mixture. Spread into an ungreased 8×8 baking pan, and bake until custard is set, 25-30 minutes.

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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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