autumn oatmeal cookie bars

Another squash recipe, but this time – a sweet version!

IMG_8593

I don’t know if it’s the cooler nights, seasonal flavors, or the fact that it’s no longer “swimsuit season” {LOL} but this time of year I start craving desserts. There’s something so special about sitting down at the end of the day, dinner cleaned up and dishes put away, and enjoying the perfectly sweet bite of dessert. For some people – ice cream {year round!}, others – cookies and cakes. I am not going to say no to any of those options, but boy…do I love me a good cookie.

This particular recipe was inspired by…as mentioned above…squash. I LOVE pumpkin, y’all! It’s a great ingredient to work with; packed with vitamins and minerals, full of flavor, and it serves as a great way to scale back on some of the typically not-so-good items that go into cookies. Paired with tangy Greek yogurt, the resulting cookie is perfectly moist and chewy, and loaded up with spices. A combination of rolled oats and all-purpose flour lends a hint of nutty flavor, which is beautiful with the pumpkin and brown sugar. The little nuggets of chocolate chips and raisins don’t hurt, either ; )

Once you bake up a batch of these, don’t expect them to last long. BUT! If you want to, portion of a section of the pan to freeze; your weeknight self craving something sweet, but not overly indulgent, will be glad you did.

IMG_8582

IMG_8591

~~~

Autumn Oatmeal Cookie Bars {recipe adapted from Averie Cooks}

Traditional chocolate chip cookie meets pillowy pumpkin cookies. They taste every bit delicious as they look: perfectly fluffy, with crispy edges and bursting full of flavor and goodies. Ideal for any autumn get-together; I promise, they won’t last long. 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed {light or dark is fine}

1 large egg

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree {not pumpkin pie filling!}

1 Tbsp. molasses

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

pinch salt

3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour {I used a combination of 2 cups AP flour and 1-1/4 cups oats, just for extra texture and flavor}

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2-1 cup assorted dried fruits…cherries, apricots, cranberries, raisins, etc. *nuts of your choice can also be used

*optional: for a sweeter cookie, add 1/2 cup of granulated sugar 

**optional topping: 1/3 cup granulated sugar + 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, mixed together

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine plain Greek yogurt, brown sugar {optional granulated sugar to be added here, if using}, and beat on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes to cream ingredients together; stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add in the egg and vanilla, and beat on high speed for 3-4 minutes or until mixture is light and fluffy.

Add in the pumpkin, molasses, 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, pinch of salt, and mix until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Add in the flour {or combination of flour and oats} and baking soda, and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips {and any add-ins you might like} by hand. Cover the mixing bowl and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 90 minutes {I only chilled for about 30 minutes because of time constraint}. Dough can be chilled for up to 4 days.

Prepare your 9″ x 13″ baking dish by coating liberally with nonstick spray. Evenly distribute the batter into the dish, making sure to spread it out evenly and ensuring that all corners are filled. Top with optional cinnamon/sugar mixture, and bake for 20-25 minutes {edges will be golden and set, and the top will have just set; they will continue to firm up as they cool}. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into bars.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to three months.

IMG_8594

Advertisements

thirsty thursday: crafting the perfect beer flight

We’re talking beer today, y’all! And being a typical lady {and lover of all things autumn}, I thought – why not share some ideas for creating the ideal beer flight? After all, the start of September means ALL.THINGS.PUMPKIN.

Image result for pumpkin

I was doing my weekly grocery shop a few days ago and couldn’t help but notice all of the fall seasonal beers beginning to make their appearance on the shelves. From local brews, to popular craft breweries, and all the way up the chain to the national/international names that everyone knows, it seems that everyone is dedicating a vast majority of their brews to seasonal fall beverages. I am certainly not complaining, but the choices can be a little lot overwhelming! So naturally, I’ve brought in the hubs as my “professional” consultant on today’s post, and together we’re sharing how to kick off autumn with the perfect seasonal beer flight!

Question: What makes pumpkin beer so special? 

Answer: There is only a small window during the harvest year where pumpkin is accessible. You should NEVER use canned pumpkin puree – there is a substantial amount of flavor {and appreciation!} that comes with roasting fresh pumpkin for using in brewing. It’s also a great way to carry that pumpkin flavor out, and stretch it over a few months.

~~~~~

Question: What are the main differences in the kinds of offerings? Shouldn’t they all taste the same if they’re all technically “pumpkin” beers?

Answer: That’s like saying “all chocolate cakes are the same!”. In all seriousness; the foundation of the beer, that is the pumpkin, is the same…but that is where the similarities end. Each brewer, whether on a large or small scale, has crafted their own recipes to suit their flavor profiles and taste preferences. Many on today’s market rely heavily on traditional pumpkin pie spices – this gives them a much sweeter taste than say, one that is brewed with roasted pumpkin and fewer ingredients. For a true experience, you want to ensure that your pick is made with 100% pure roasted pumpkin, and flavored according to your taste buds. Be on the lookout for labels that say only “pumpkin flavor” or “pumpkin pie spiced”, as these typically do not include fresh pumpkin in their batch.

~~~~~

Question: How many varieties of beers {ales, IPAs, etc.} can we expect to see in our local stores?

Answer: The most common would be a pumpkin ale. Other ones worth looking out for {but may be harder to find} include: shandies, lagers, stouts, porters, and wheat beers. Truth be told, any type of beer can be crafted into a pumpkin beer – the style of the brew is what will make the biggest difference. My best advice is to pick a style that you like, and go from there!

~~~~~

Question: What are some of your top suggestions?

Answer: In no particular order…Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, Schlafly Pumpkin Ale, Southern Tier Pumpking, Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale, and New Belgium Pumpkick.

~~~~~

And now….taking all this information and building it into your beer flight!

According to the hubs, here are some good things to keep in mind…

“Pour all four {or however many beers you’ve selected!} into separate glasses. At this point, order doesn’t matter – we are looking mainly for color and heaviness. Because we’re talking pumpkin beers today, the heaviness will all be pretty similar; so we’ll next look at the ABV {alcohol by volume}. **sidenote: if we were doing a more traditional flight, you would start with a lighter beer {like a lager}, then move on to ales and darker beers**  From this point, you’ll line up your beers from lightest color and lowest ABV, and gradually move up to darker colors and higher ABVs. Just like in any beer flight, you want to progress towards your strongest-flavored beer, so that the flavors build on each other as you go. Make sure to take an initial sip between glasses, before your second {longer} sip, so that you can clear your palette for each flavor. 

…and if all else fails, just drink them in the order where you finish with your favorite!”

Happy beer drinking, friends!

harvest pumpkin muffins

I’m sure y’all have noticed from this earlier recipe, but I am a total sucker for all things pumpkin.

IMG_4098

But we’re not talking sugary-sweet, over-the-top pumpkin creations here today. We’re keeping it short, simple and to the point. Because for me, it’s not about tasting pumpkin PIE. I just want to taste PUMPKIN.

And that is why I love this recipe. It is absolutely loaded with pumpkin. Minimal sugar does nothing to overwhelm its delicate flavor; rather, it helps to enhance it. A dash of cinnamon and nutmeg warms you up with each bite. The Greek yogurt provides the perfect body and balance, creating a moist and fluffy muffin.  Brimming with cranberries, these not only taste delicious, but look beautiful while doing so.

IMG_4099

IMG_4100

IMG_4101

These are easy enough to whip up at a moment’s notice,  and freeze beautifully if you’re feeling inclined as to prepare a double batch. Simply cool completely, wrap individually and store in plastic bags. You’ll be the perfect hostess when company drops by for coffee on a chilly morning!

~~~

Harvest Pumpkin Muffins {recipe adapted from Spontaneous Tomato}

Perfect to whip up at a moment’s notice, and easily adaptable to whatever add-ins you have in your pantry, these muffins are a crowd pleaser! We’re keeping them healthy by using white-whole-wheat flour and minimal sugar, so they’ll be sure to fill you up and keep you powering on all morning long. 

Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups white-whole-wheat flour

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

1 heaping tsp. ground cinnamon

dash nutmeg

2 eggs

2 cups pumpkin puree

6 ounces plain, non-fat Greek yogurt

3/4 cup dried cranberries

optional: cinnamon-sugar mixture, to sprinkle on top 

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease and line a muffin tin {I used a 12-spot tin, but feel free to adjust according to your culinary tools!}.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in the eggs, pumpkin puree, and Greek yogurt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir until the  dry ingredients have just been incorporated, sprinkling in the dried cranberries and you stir. Be careful not to overmix!

IMG_4104

IMG_4105

Evenly distribute the batter between your muffin tins. Sprinkle the tops of each with a bit of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

IMG_4106

Bake muffins for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from tins, and allow to cool completely before serving. Muffins will keep, tightly covered, on the counter top for up to 3 days.

IMG_4107

pumpkin chili

Chili is one of the quintessential dishes of the autumn season. It’s versatile, comforting, and can be transformed into thousands of different variations. Some people take it on top of rice, others with spaghetti….left plain, or piled high with cheddar cheese and sour cream and Fritos and onion, it’s a safe bet that few and far between people take theirs exactly the same way.

IMG_3708

The recipe that we’re making here today is probably one of our favorites here in the KK house. I still remember seeing this pop up on my feed, via Skinnytasteat least 2 years ago. My initial reaction was – pumpkin in chili?! So I bookmarked it for later, not sure if it would make it into the crockpot.

…I am so thankful that it did, and the hubs is too! This chili is seriously one of the best flavor combinations that I’ve yet to find in chili. It combines my favorite traditional chili spices {cumin, chili powder, & LOTS of oregano}. The onions and garlic give it that extra punch we all love.

IMG_3704

IMG_3703

The great northern beans, when mixed with the green chili and creamy pumpkin, results in the most luxurious mouth feel; it’s truly one that I have not yet been able to replicate in any other recipe. And if you’re concerned that the pumpkin flavor may be too pronounced, fear not! It lends the perfect taste of fall; it lets the other flavors and ingredients shine and takes the back seat. It gives a gorgeous color, however!

IMG_3705

IMG_3706

When it comes to the style of meat used, I take a note out of Gina’s book and go with the ground turkey. However, I use a less lean version…we’re going with a 93% lean. But feel free to take liberty, and sub in your favorite! You could go even leaner with the turkey; ground chicken is great {I can attest to this!}, or even mix it up with a spiced sausage and beef mixture {chorizo, anyone? WOW!}.

Just make sure you serve a side of tortilla chips with this dish – you’ll be happy you did!

~~~

Pumpkin Chili {recipe adapted, slightly, from Skinnytaste}

Rich and creamy due to the pumpkin puree added during the cooking process, this chili is sure to warm you through. With just the perfect amount of smoky spice {thanks, cumin and chili powder!}, this is the perfect fall dish.

Ingredients:

cooking spray

1 lb. ground turkey {I like to use 93% lean, but you can substitute as necessary!}

1 medium onion, finely diced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1-1/2 tsp. chili powder

3 bay leaves

1 tsp. cumin

1-1/2 tsp. oregano

1 {15 ounce} can white northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 {15} ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 {15 ounce} can pumpkin puree

4.5 ounce can chopped green chili

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock

salt and pepper, to taste

optional toppings: baked tortilla chips, low-fat sour cream, low-fat plain Greek yogurt, chopped cilantro, chopped chives

To Prepare:

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and lightly spray with cooking spray. Add meat and cook, breaking it up until white, about 5-7 minutes.

Reduce the heat slightly and add in the diced onions and garlic, stirring to distribute through the meat. Add in the spices and cook until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes.

Add in the meat/onion/spice mixture into the bottom of the crockpot. Add in both of the beans, the chopped green chilis, and the pumpkin puree. Stir to combine, then add in the stock and the bay leaves. Give one final stir and cover.

IMG_3707

Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours.

Once complete, remove the bay leaves and ladle into bowls. Serve with desired toppings – enjoy!

IMG_3709

Let’s Discuss: how do you like to dress your chili? 

cranberry-studded pumpkin honey biscuits

If we were having breakfast together this morning, this is what I would make for you. Warm biscuits, studded with cranberries, fresh out of the oven. Hints of maple syrup and cinnamon are wafting throughout the kitchen, making it seem ever so inviting.

I’d pour you a cup of coffee {or tea!} and we would sit down at the table, lounging and talking. A plate of biscuits between use, that seems to keep refilling itself, keeps the conversation flowing and the mood light. A slight breeze is coming in through the kitchen window, but we’re not chilled because of these gems.

You might ask – where does the golden color come from? And I would tell you “pumpkin”! We’d laugh about how pumpkin is so overused during the fall, but who are we to complain? We’re enjoying and indulging in said biscuits, without a crumb to be left over.

Before you leave, and we begin our day in the real world, I would hand you the recipe, along with any leftovers. But if I’m being honest, I’m sure we polished them off, without a blink of an eye or a speck of regret. They’re that wonderful.

~~~

Cranberry Honey Pumpkin Biscuits with a Caramelized Maple Glaze {recipe adapted from Food 52}

Warm, spiced, with cranberries studded throughout, these biscuits are the perfect start to any fall morning. A caramelized maple glaze, brushed on top just before the baking session is complete, is the best complement to the flavors within. Flaky and light, these won’t weigh you down – replacing the butter with our trusty Greek yogurt lets you indulge without feeling guilty. So go ahead! – smear on a little whipped honey butter and enjoy. 

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 Tbsp. baking powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

5-6 ounces of plain 0% Greek yogurt, very cold {or, use 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter if preferred}

1/3 cup pumpkin puree

6 tbsp. honey

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/4 to 1/4 cup dried cranberries

For the Glaze:

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1/4 cup of vanilla sugar {I keep a jar, on hand, of a mixture of cinnamon and sugar that I’ve stuck a vanilla bean in – the longer it sits, the better it gets!}

To Prepare:

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Flour a large wooden cutting board and rolling pin, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and spices.

In a smaller mixing bowl combine the pumpkin, honey, and buttermilk. Whisk with a fork to combine.

Cut the Greek yogurt into the flour mixture using your fingers, two knives, or a pasty cutter until no pieces larger than a pea remain.

Stir all but the last 1/4 cup of the buttermilk mixture in with a fork just to combine. If the mixture seems dry, add in the additional 1/4 cup {I ended up using the entire wet mixture}. It should be sticky! Fold in the cranberries.

Turn the dough onto your cutting board. Sprinkle top of dough with flour, and pat into a rectangle, fold in half, rotate clockwise, pat back out, and fold again. Repeat this once more, and then gently pat the dough out until about 1″ thick.

Great a baking sheet, and using a floured 2-1/2″ biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits, being care to not twist the cutter. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet, touching.

Gently reroll the scraps as needed until all the biscuits are cut, and then bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and turn on the broiler. Brush the tops of the biscuits with maple syrup, then sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Place the biscuits back in the oven, and don’t leave their sight! You want to pull them out just when the maple syrup starts to bubble, and the tops start to darken ever so slightly.

Place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Store, tightly covered, at room temperature. After a day or so, transfer to refrigerator {simply pop in the oven to reheat – perfection!}.

Let’s Discuss: do you have a favorite biscuit recipe?