Pumpkin Pecan Granola

This recipe is courtesy of Minimalist Baker. I’ve made some changes noted below. It’s addictive!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/4 cups raw pecans
  • 1/3 cup raw pepitas (I used 1/4 cup sliced almonds, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, and 1T flaxseeds)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar (I used white sugar)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • A dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup Grade A maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree (I used Libby’s)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 340F.
  2. Combine the oats, nuts, seeds, spices, sugar, and salt in a bowl.
  3. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the coconut oil, maple syrup and pumpkin puree, stirring constantly with a whisk or spatula. Pour over the oat/nut combination and stir well.
  4. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer half the mixture to the parchment paper and make sure it is spread out evenly in one layer. Bake at 340F for 23 minutes (the original recipe called for 23-33 minutes, but my oven started burning it at 24), making sure to flip the granola halfway through. Repeat with the second batch. The granola should be crispy and lightly browned.

You can store this in an airtight container for 2 weeks.

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Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Cookies

I finally made some shortbread cookies. This recipe kept showing up on several websites and blogs. These cookies are great straight from the freezer! I’ve noted the original amounts but I used only 1/3 each amount.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 unsalted butter, softened (I used 1/4 pound, or 1 stick)
  • 1 cup sugar (I used 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used 1/2)
  • 3 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 1/6)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (I used just a sprinkling…about 1/12)
  • 6 to 7 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used half a bag of Nestle semisweet morsels/large chunks)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (to combine with the chocolate when melting)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup sliced almonds, for sprinkling on top

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute, until creamed.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and continue beating another 30 seconds.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Add this mixture to the stand mixer bowl, beating slowly to incorporate all ingredients.
  4. Mix on low speed for about 20 seconds, until dough forms a large clump.
  5. On a floured flat surface, roll out the dough into a flat disk or a 2-inch diameter log and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour or in freezer for 10 minutes to harden.
  6. You can then roll the disk flat and cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces using cookie cutters, or you can slice the log into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle with some sugar if you want.
  7. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes (or 16, depending on how thick you made them), until the edges are slightly browned and toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. The original recipe suggests you bake them for 20-25 minutes, which would work well if you have a finger-shaped cutter that measures 3×1 inch. However, since I used small rounds, they baked quicker.
  8. Once the cookies have cooled, melt the chocolate chips and the coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl, 25 seconds at a time, until chocolate and coconut oil blend together into a creamy consistency.
  9. Dip the cookies in the chocolate, using a spoon to cover all sides. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top or dip the cookies into a bowl of almonds to cover the chocolate portion with them. Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with wax and place in refrigerator to harden, about 30 minutes.

You may store these cookies on the counter, in the refrigerator, or in the freezer.

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Fluffy Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are fluffy! They puff up when baking and remain soft and chewy for several days. I found this recipe in a Good Housekeeping Cookies book, and I’ll be making these again. I dropped the dough into blobs measuring 2 tablespoons instead of 1.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 package (16 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup–I used the large Nestle morsels)
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) chopped pecans, or walnuts (I used walnuts)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown and white sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined.
  4. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture, beating until combined.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
  6. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons (or two tablespoons if you want bigger cookies) 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375F 10-12 minutes, until golden at the edges. For my oven, 10 minutes was perfect.
  7. Transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool. You can also bake two batches at one time, rotating halfway between the upper and lower oven racks.

Enjoy!

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Blueberry Crisp with Walnuts

Since I’ve tried a strawberry crisp, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t also try out a new blueberry crisp recipe. Tarter and juicier than the strawberry one, this crisp goes well with vanilla ice cream too. The recipe is courtesy of Food Network.

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 6 cups blueberries, rinsed and dried (I used a pint)
  • 1 T corn starch
  • 1/4 cup sugar

For the crumble:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (I used walnuts)
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Mix filling ingredients together and spoon into greased 2-quart baking dish (or bread pan).
  2. Combine crumble ingredients together and sprinkle over filling.
  3. Bake for at 375F for 40 minutes.

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Strawberry Crisp

Even though we are months away from summer, I’ve been making this strawberry crisp to celebrate the tasty fruit. The crumble is light and does not taste too buttery. I found this recipe on Green Valley Kitchen and modified it a bit. Serve it with a nice dollop of vanilla bean ice cream!

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 4 cups strawberries, sliced (I used 1 pint)
  • 2 T cane sugar (I used white sugar for this)
  • 1 T corn starch
  • 1 T lemon juice

For the crumble:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 T unsalted butter (softened)
  • Pinch of salt (I don’t add salt to mine)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a bowl, combine the filling ingredients and lit sit for a few minutes.
  2. Spray a bread pan with Pam or grease with butter and pour the filling into it.
  3. In a bowl, combine the crumble ingredients and sprinkle over the filling.
  4. Bake at 375F for 25-35 minutes.

Note: The recipe suggests you bake this in 4 8-oz ramekins. This would be better if you have a crowd or want individual portions, and it would certainly make serving it up easier!

Variation on Strawberry Crisp using almonds and a crunchier topping:

I use the same filling recipe, adding 1 t/4 tsp almond extract and 1 T flour to the mixture. Also, I increase the sugar amount to 3T.

This new crumble recipe comes from The Kitchn. I split it in half:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional) (I don’t use cinnamon for strawberry crumbles)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I don’t use much salt)
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • I also added 1/3 cup oats

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Spaghetti with Tomato and Garlic

As I was flipping through an Allrecipes magazine (which is amazing by the way), I encountered a meal that had been saved 13, 812 times on the website. Well, for good reason! This dish is so versatile, you can substitute different types of diced tomatoes, herbs, greens, and meats. The original recipe can be found here. I made this dish twice: first without meat and using the original recipe calling for 2 cans of diced tomatoes, and the second time with shredded chicken (leftovers from last night’s tacos) and one can of diced tomatoes. I didn’t have fresh basil the second time around, so I just used dried oregano and basil flakes. The second time I also used thin spaghetti instead of angel hair, and I liked it better. I also added fresh spinach to the sauce while simmering. This is a dish I will continue to make for an easy weeknight meal!

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces angel hair pasta (or thin spaghetti)–about half a box
  • 4 T olive oil (I used about 2)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed–I used about 2
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 2 (14.5-oz.) cans diced tomatoes–I used Del Monte, plain; you can also use one can only for less sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar (optional ingredient, but I added it!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil–If you don’t have fresh basil, sprinkle in some dried basil and dried oregano flakes)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil over high heat and add the pasta, cooking until al dente. For angel hair pasta, cook about 4 minutes and drain. For thin spaghetti, cook about 8-9 minutes.
  2. While your pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil (2 T) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute about 30 minutes, until garlic is fragrant.
  3. Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juices, tomato paste, sugar, salt, and pepper. This is also a good time to add in the dried basil and oregano if you are using. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 2 minutes. Add fresh basil if you are using. You can also add fresh spinach here.
  4. Add the cooked pasta to the tomato sauce in the pan and stir. Top with grated Parmesan.

A reader from Allrecipes suggested you add mushrooms or zucchinis too.

 

Here it is without the chicken using angel hair pasta and two cans of diced tomatoes:

 

This is the dish with chicken and spinach using thin spaghetti and one can of diced tomatoes:

 

Guava Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Guava…one of the most fabulous fruits you can find in sunny south Florida. I am very excited that we will soon be moving back to our home state. Hopefully I will see guava more often in central Florida than I see it up here.

For this recipe, I used a Duncan Hines cake mix and simply used guava marmalade (Ancel) instead of the 1 cup water called for in the recipe. I had a little bit of marmalade left over, so I added more to half of my cream cheese frosting. I found this cream cheese frosting recipe on Allrecipes. This was my first time making cream cheese frosting, and I had a blast. I was impressed with how well the gel food coloring blended into the frosting! I’ve always had trouble blending color into buttercream frosting. Although I prefer the taste of buttercream, I think I’ll be using this recipe a lot more. This is the cake mix and marmalade:

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For the cupcakes:

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Classic Yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs (as called for in the Duncan Hines box)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (as called for in the Duncan Hines box)
  • 1 cup guava marmalade (to replace the 1 cup water)

Directions:

  1. Beat all ingredients together using a stand mixer on low until incorporated, 30 seconds.
  2. Beat on medium high for another 2 minutes. The batter will be thick and frothy.
  3. For mini cupcakes, bake at the temperature suggested on the box (I think it was 325F), for 13 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  4. For regular cupcakes, bake at the temperature suggested for 20-22 minutes.
  5. Let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

Yield: About 36 mini cupcakes and 12 regular cupcakes.

For the frosting:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened (I left the Philadelphia cream cheese out about 2 hours)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Beat butter and cream cheese on medium high until blended, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the sugar and vanilla, beating on low until incorporated.
  3. Beat another minute or two on medium high until light and whipped.

If you wish, you can add 1-2 T of guava marmalade to make the frosting even tangier and sweeter. The cupcake batter is quite sweet (you could eat it as a Bundt cake alone) so you may want to skip this step. But if you really want to incorporate as much guava flavor as possible into your cupcakes, add the marmalade to the frosting. If the frosting isn’t pink enough, add a bit of red food coloring. The gel coloring blended perfectly in.

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