Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Kiss Cookies

photo 3Despite this lovely warm weather we’ve been having, I have been deep in fall baking mode. While visiting Chicago last weekend I simply had to do some apple picking; one of the few shortcomings of beautiful Colorado is its lack of apple orchards.  I came home with several humongous honeycrisp apples to make good use of, so of course I had to make one of my Famous Apple Pies.

I also found these delicious Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s Kisses while at the grocery store a few days ago. I was momentarily distracted by the shock that Hershey’s actually made a flavor of chocolate treat that I had yet to try… but within moments I had a great idea for a new autumn recipe.

photo 4These adorable Kiss Cookies are tasty and festive – call them “Wicked Witches Hats” and they are perfect themed treats for a Halloween party. The deep chocolate flavor of the cookies pairs perfectly with the rich and sinful sweetness of the spicey Kisses. They are delicious straight from the oven when the Kiss is slightly melty, but can be stored for up to two weeks in an airtight container. This recipe makes about three dozen cookies and can easily be doubled – or even tripled – for a big event!

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Kiss Cookies

  • ⅓ cup butter, softened (5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ⅔ cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 36 Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s Kisses

photo 1Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the Greek yogurt and egg and beat until smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture until just incorporated.

Using tablespoonfuls of dough, gently roll cookies into balls. Place 2 inches apart onto a non-stick (dark) baking sheet. If your baking sheet is not non-stick, line to sheet with parchment paper.

photo 2Bake cookies for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes. During this time, unwrap the Hershey’s Kisses. Place one Hershey’s Kiss on top of each cookie, pressing down gently. Do not move the cookies until they are completely cool and the kiss has a chance to set.

Store cooled cookies in an airtight container.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Namas-tasty!

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Densely Delicious Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

photo 4Yesterday was a dreary, drizzly, chilly day in Denver — aka the PERFECT opportunity for some more fall baking! I decided to make some chocolately pumpkin bars to curl up by the fire with. These dense treats are rich, moist, and full of pumpkin spice flavor and chocolate in every bite, almost like nibbling on a hunk of fudge! They are easy to make in mere minutes and can be enjoyed solo or with a nice big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Densely Delicious Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

adapted from Avery Cooks

  • photo 1-11/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (plus more for sprinkling)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.

In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter. Let cool for one minute. Add the egg, pumpkin, brown sugar, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and whisk until smooth.

photo 2Add the flour and stir until just combined, don’t overmix! Stir in chocolate chips.

Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula. Evenly sprinkle with chocolate chips, as few or as many as you would like 🙂

photo 3-1Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. I found that the flavor was intensified after sitting in the pan overnight, and I did not cut them into bars right away. Bars continue to get softer and moister for about 3 days after baking. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Namas-tasty!

Easy-as-Pie Slow Cooker Pumpkin Oatmeal

photo 1Happy first day of fall, readers!! Today is officially the autumnal equinox, and thus begins my absolute favorite season of the year.

Though we slowly lose our precious sunlight as the end of Daylight Savings Times approaches in November, the crisp, cool, “just-right” air still makes autumn a comforting time for many. And did you know that without the increasing darkness in the Northern Hemisphere during this time of the year, we wouldn’t be able to witness the beautiful golds, yellows, reds and oranges that are the defining features of fall foliage?!

photo 3According to National Geographic, plants can sense the waning daylight and deduce that winter is coming, so they begin to retrieve materials from their leaves before they drop off. Evergreen trees have ways to protect their needles from freezing, but leafy plants do not; therefore, they shed their leaves, typically after the first frost. Beforehand, trees such as the gorgeous Aspen that are characteristic of my beloved Colorado attempt to store up nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, much like bears packing in food before they hibernate for the winter. This natural process is what causes the springy green leaves to transform into dazzling displays of autumn color.

2014-03-02 10.43.28Enough of my rambling about changing leaves (although I do enjoy them so!). As many of you may have read last year around this time, I also absolutely adore fall because of the unique and comforting ingredients: pumpkin, apples, cranberries, I love it all! So I wanted to start the season right with a hearty recipe that is sure to keep you warm on the chilly fall days to come: pumpkin oatmeal! Simply throw a handful of ingredients into your slow cooker and let it whip up overnight. In the morning you’ll wake up to a thick, creamy and deliciously flavorful dish to rev you up for the day to come.

Easy-as-Pie Slow Cooker Pumpkin Oatmeal

Adapted from Around My Family Table

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 4 1/2 cups water (you can adjust this depending on if you like thicker or thinner oatmeal)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (about half a can)
  • 2 tsps pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup brown sugar

2014-03-02 10.33.18Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stirring occasionally if you can.

Season to taste with brown sugar and top with a few dried cranberries for an extra pop of fall color!

Namas-tasty!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

DSC02212Since you guys seemed to really enjoy my last post of my favorite pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (made even healthier!), I thought I’d continue the baking  trend and share with you this unbelievably tasty cupcake recipe, again made with applesauce instead of oil.

This past week was the last in the most recent term of my Master’s degree program, and thus it was my final week of student teaching. I had an awesome experience in my classroom of 14 super cool fourth graders, and I  wanted to give the lead teacher a gift for putting up with all of my annoying questions about lesson planning, classroom management and organization. I like to believe that baked goods add a really personal touch to any gift, so of course I settled on this pumpkin-inspired fall dessert. Another of my great Pinterest finds, I can honestly say I was a bit glad that I had to give away half of these bad boys, otherwise I would have eaten them all in one sitting! The cupcakes themselves are incredibly moist but dense at the same time, and the frosting is truly decadent. I have yet to get a review from her, but I give these two thumbs up!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Dolce Delicious

Cupcakes:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup homemade applesauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup fat free milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Frosting:

  • 1 (8 oz.) package reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

DSC02214Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, add butter, applesauce, sugars, and eggs and beat over medium speed until combined. Add in pumpkin and continuing beating until thoroughly incorporated. In a liquid measuring cup, combine milk and lemon juice and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients. Slowly, over medium speed, add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, alternating with the milk mixture, beating well after each addition. Line cupcakes trays with paper liners. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full and bake for 24 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

DSC02216To make frosting, combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and beat over medium speed until ingredients begin to combine, slowly increase speed and continue beating until a frosting is formed. Once cupcakes cool completely, frost as desired and enjoy!

Namas-tasty!

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

2013-10-21 22.21.04HELLO readers! Oh, how I’ve missed you so. I sincerely apologize for my brief absence; this week was the last of the current term in my Master’s program, and, needless to say, I spent the majority of it frantically finishing up final projects, presentations and classroom observations. Of course, I did what I do best to manage the stress: cooked through the crazy! There was, however, not a single spare moment to write to y’all about my triumphs in the kitchen.

BUT, that’s all changed now. I’ve got a nice long break from classes ahead of me, so I’m back and ready to share with you some truly awesome recipes! I mean really, I have outdone myself. But, first, I want to share the health(ier) baking recipe I promised a while back. There are the moistest and cakiest cookies I have produced in quite some time, AND I made them without butter and using homemade applesauce instead of oil! Needless to say, they were a huge hit. And so, ladies and gentlemen, I present:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup homemade applesauce
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 1 TB vanilla
  • 1 11oz bag chocolate chips

2013-10-21 22.09.27Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine pumpkin, sugar, applesauce, and egg in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir into the wet ingredients. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Stir for about one minute. Add vanilla and chocolate chips and stir until combined.

2013-10-21 22.09.41Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with cooking spray. Drop cookies on by the spoonful. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Namas-tasty!

Caramelized Pumpkin Seeds

2013-10-06 12.39.132013-10-16 14.37.39

One of my (many) favorite things about fall, besides the apples, of course, is pumpkins! Pumpkin patches, pumpkin pie; I am beyond excited when Starbucks rolls out their pumpkin-flavored menu on October 1st.

I also love pumpkin carving. I didn’t partake in the activity often as a child, but I have a few fond memories from my elementary school days of carving out silly/spooky faces and displaying them proudly while modeling my Halloween costume (I’m pretty sure I was a witch for 10 straight years). This year, on our apple-picking adventure, I came across the perfect pumpkin and decided to bring back a little piece of my childhood. Of course, my pattern of choice was sports-related: a Denver Bronco! I had a great time scooping out the pumpkin goop, poking a pattern into the thick pumpkin rind and chiseling out the design (although, as it turned out, it was quite intricate for my minimal level of expertise).

DSC02154Once I had an awesome pumpkin to decorate my apartment, I decided I was going to resurrect another fall tradition and roast the leftover pumpkin seeds! From what I can remember, my mom used to spread the seeds out on a baking sheet, season them with a savory blend, and throw them in the oven to bake. This year, however, I decided I wanted my pumpkin seeds sweet; so I picked out this recipe for caramelized pumpkin seeds that you can cook up fast right on the stove! They were a delicious fall treat, just like candy; I’ll definitely be adding these bad boys to the fall favorite repertoire!

DSC02156Caramelized Pumpkin Seeds

Adapted from Cooking with My Kid

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds (cleaned and patted dry)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • cooking spray

DSC02159Place pumpkin seeds in a dry non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Toast them in the pan, constantly stirring so that they roast evenly and don’t stick to the pan. When they start to pop and peel, take one out and taste it (make sure it’s cool enough first). If it’s crunchy it’s done. Turn the heat down to low and spray the seeds with cooking spray. Spoon sugar into pan and stir seeds as the sugar melts and sticks to them. Add the cinnamon and continue to stir until all seeds are coated. Turn heat off and sprinkle with salt. Let cool and serve!

Namas-tasty!