Iced Pumpkin Spice Cookies

I made these cookies about two weeks ago, and I still haven’t posted them! First, my Great Aunt was visiting from Florida, and next it was my birthday and then my birthday party (which my wonderful friend Mookie and her lovely roommates hosted for me). Needless to say, I’ve been a bit busy. I wish I had posted some of the amazing recipes I used for my aunt’s visit, like Bobby Flay’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise, or Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Chip Pound Cake, both of which were met with rave reviews. But alas, it was a busy weekend so I didn’t have time to take photos while I baked. But believe me, both recipes are more than deserving of your time. Have you ever been amazed at how good something you’ve made is? Both of these recipes will give you and your guests that reaction. Or just you. I won’t judge if you make them for yourself. In fact, I will applaud you.

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When I made these cookies they were actually for my mom to bring to a beach gathering. It seemed a little counterintuitive since it was still pretty warm out at the time, but I was in the mood to make warm, chewy pumpkin desserts. They’re simple to make, and can be made with or without the sugary drizzle, though I recommend icing them. The cookies themselves are not super sweet, so a little bit of the icing goes a long way. If you do ice the cookies, make sure to let the icing dry before stacking them on a plate, or they’ll get stuck together- they just want to be friends! They can be kept in a container for up to three days (normally I suggest airtight, but because they’re so moist, they will create condensation which will change their consistency). So eat them quickly!

The original recipe hails from Allrecipes.com. I altered it slightly to omit the ground cloves; my mom has never used them so I don’t keep any around. If you like a hearty spice element in your pumpkin desserts, add the cloves back into the recipe, and add them alongside the other spices.

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INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin puree (Libby’s or organic is fine)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 cookie sheets with non-stick baking spray. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; set aside.

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In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly. The batter will be very sticky so don’t be disheartened if they look like crazy, misshapen rocks. 

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Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven.

To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.

Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork. You’re done! You did it! Reward yourself with a cup of hot apple cider and a few (handfuls of) cookies!

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

It’s not even the end of September and I’m already plotting which Halloween decorations will go where. Halloween isn’t even my favorite holiday- it just signifies the beginning of the holiday season, and perhaps more importantly, loads of candy. Since I’m diving right into fall with my decorating, I figured I might as well jump right on the pumpkin recipe bandwagon.

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Since it’s still relatively warm out, I didn’t want to make anything that has to be served hot, so muffins seemed like a good choice. I found this recipe on VeryBestBaking.com. It’s wonderfully simple; I just tweaked it to include vanilla and dried cranberries, as well as a streusel-inspired topping. I love grabbing a soft, crumbly muffin on my way out the door in the morning, or even eating one for dessert with some cool whip. They’re also great for taking in the car if you have to drive somewhere and need an easily accessible, hands free snack (i.e. NOT sushi, which I had to eat while rolling through Times Square while working at New York Fashion Week).

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INGREDIENTS:

2 cups  all-purpose flour

2/3 cup  packed brown sugar, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling

1/3 cup  granulated sugar

1 tablespoon  baking powder

1 teaspoon  salt

1 teaspoon  ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon  baking soda

1/4 teaspoon  ground ginger

1/2 cup  butter, melted

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

2 large  eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup  buttermilk

1 cup dried cranberries

1-2 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease or paper-line 12 muffin cups.

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Combine flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and ginger in large bowl. Combine butter, pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk in medium bowl. Add to flour mixture, stir just until moistened. Gently fold in cranberries. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, and dot with the cut up butter.

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Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely. I always take my muffins/cupcakes out of the oven a minute or two before they’re fully cooked, since they finish baking in the tin.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Chicken Pot Pie

It’s hard to find shockingly good recipes, but this is one of them. I have never been a huge fan of chicken pot pie, probably because up until now I’ve only eaten the frozen ones. It might seem strange to try a recipe for something that I don’t like, but I had a feeling this one would change my mind, and I was right! This recipe, though not complicated, is a bit time consuming, so I’ve been waiting for a day where I had a few spare hours to make it. Finally, a nippy fall day rolled along on which I didn’t have work, so I thawed those peas and grilled that chicken and geared up to make chicken pot pie.

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The wonderful blogger behind this recipe, Joy the Baker, warns against using pre-made pie crusts with this recipe. Normally I would have heeded her advice, but I was in no mood to patch together pate brisee, so I went for it: I used Pillsbury. Consequently, I had to cook my pie for about 10 minutes past the instructed baking time, and it didn’t appear to be as crispy as Joy’s. But, truth be told I’m kind of into semi-moist pie crusts (if you use Pillsbury and notice that your crust appears to be a bit translucent, it’s probably not undercooked, it’s just absorbed some of the creamy filling!). Additionally, I switched out her preferred fresh string beans for canned corn, which I had on hand. The corn also added a nice pop of color to the pie.

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One of the most convenient things about this recipe is that it calls for grilled chicken breasts, not leftovers from a rotisserie chicken, which many chicken pot pies use. However, because you’re using grilled chicken, make sure you season it well with salt and pepper so that it has as much flavor as a rotisserie chicken would.

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Original Recipe: http://joythebaker.com/2014/04/double-crust-chicken-pot-pie/

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INGREDIENTS:

2 pre-made Pillsbury pie crusts, thawed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups chicken stock

3/4  cup whole milk>> I often use skim when recipes call for whole milk, but in this case, USE WHOLE MILK! It adds to the creamy luxuriousness of the sauce.

2 oz cream cheese

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups cubed chicken meat (2-3 chicken breasts, seasoned and grilled)

2 tablespoons butter, unsalted or salted is fine

1 small onion, diced

1 small garlic clove, minced

1 cup thinly sliced carrots

1 cup canned corn, drained

3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

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DIRECTIONS:

In a medium-large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk in the flour.  The mixture, which is a roux, will look almost too thick- but don’t worry, that’s what it’s supposed to look like.  Heat for 1 minute.  Reduce heat to low and slowly add the chicken stock.  Whisk until no flour globs remain.  Whisk in the milk and add the cream cheese.  Heat over medium low heat, stirring often, until cream cheese has melted and the mixture is thick but not stiff.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove mixture from heat and carefully pour or spoon into a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In the same skillet over medium heat, melt butter.  Add onions and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add minced garlic and saute for one minute more.  Add carrots, corn, and peas.  Cook for  about 5 minutes. Remove from heat even if the veggies still look crisp, and stir in cooked, cubed chicken.  Pour the mixture into the sauce, and stir to combine. Set aside and let cool for a hot sec.

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Unroll one pie crust and place in a 9 inch pie dish. Make sure there are no cracks, or the filling may seep through. If the crusts are fully thawed, they generally won’t crack.

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Spoon or carefully pour the filling into the bottom pie crust.

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Drape the second pie crust over the filling in the pie dish. With your fingers press the top and bottom crusts together and fold under. Crimp the edges of the dough. Cut five small slits in the top of the crust so the steam can vent.  Brush lightly with beaten egg and place in the fridge to chill while the oven preheats.

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Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

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Place pie in the oven bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce the oven heat to 375 and bake for 20-25 (increased time based on Pillsbury crusts) more minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1 hour before serving.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkins are amazing. They’re beautiful, have a long shelf life, and most importantly, they can become pie. I try to pretend that pumpkin pie is at least moderately healthy since it’s made out of a squash-like fruit (naturally ignoring the fact that this fruit sits on top of a buttery crust and is topped with heaping dollops of whipped cream). Pumpkin pie is also among the easiest to make if you use canned pumpkin and a ready-made pie crust. Though I normally make it this way for Thanksgiving since I would be insane to attempt anything more elaborate while making all of the other desserts that the holiday entails, I do enjoy using fresh pumpkin when I have the time.

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So, today, I peeled, seeded, and cubed a sugar pumpkin that I picked off the vine* at Hank’s Pumpkintown out east. This is the most time consuming part of making pumpkin pie from scratch; pumpkins are relatively easy to peel (using a knife, not a vegetable peeler), but they can be tough to cut through. After steaming the pumpkin, I put it in the food processor, which you will notice in the following picture, has been in my family since formica countertops were in vogue.

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I also made the crust from scratch using Martha Stewart’s pie crust recipe, which can be found on her website: http://www.marthastewart.com/344292/our-favorite-pie-crust … This was my first attempt at truly crimping the crust; please forgive any glaring crimping errors. The original recipe for the pie filling hails from Libby’s, the brand of canned pumpkin that my family always uses. I altered it slightly to omit cloves and include nutmeg. I also used a little of the extra pie crust to make a jack-o-lantern face, which I put on top of the pie about halfway through baking.

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Original Recipe: https://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/18470/libbys-famous-pumpkin-pie/

*full disclosure, my friend Sam kicked it off the vine for me… did you know that pumpkin vines are super prickly??

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Scant 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

large eggs

15 oz. pumpkin puree (a little less than 2 cups)

1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk

unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

Pour filling into pie shell.

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Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees; bake for 20 minutes or until slightly firm, then apply jack-o-lantern face to the center of the pie. Continue baking for another 20-30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving (unless you don’t like whipped cream, in which case I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOUR LIFESTYLE).

 

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Maple Muffins

I think we all know by now that I’m a huge fan of autumn and everything that comes with it. One of my favorite autumn flavors, which often gets overshadowed by pumpkin and apple, is maple. Though maple syrup isn’t harvested until the late winter or early spring, its decadent flavor reminds me of eating warm pancakes on chilly autumn mornings.

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My aunt recently lent me a very cute maple leaf muffin tin, so I’ve been searching for a recipe to use it with. I happened upon this maple muffin recipe on tasteofhome.com; what a perfect fit! For an easy recipe like this, I try not to buy any ingredients if I don’t absolutely have to. For example, this recipe calls for sour cream and milk. Presumably, the author intended us to use full fat sour cream and milk, but that’s not what I have laying around the house. So instead, I used skim milk and light sour cream. Let me cut to the chase: use whichever version of these ingredients you prefer.

These muffins are ideal for eating on your way out the door in the morning, or tossing in your bag for an afternoon snack. Or, if you’re like me, they’re perfect for munching while you write your blog post. I prefer my muffins with a glass of cold milk, but go crazy- try them with tea!

Original Recipe: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/morning-maple-muffins

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INGREDIENTS:

BATTER:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup sour cream

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

TOPPING:

3 tbsp all purpose flour

3 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, combine milk, butter, syrup, sour cream, egg and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. For topping, combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.

Bake 16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pans and moving to wire racks. Serve warm.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

IT’S HERE, IT’S FINALLY HERE!!! Autumn, my one true love, has arrived. And you know what that means: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, roast chicken and vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, turnips, cranberries, pears, and last but not least, pumpkin. Come fall all of the usual suspects, even chocolate chip cookies, get an autumn injection in the form of a pumpkin twist.

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As much as I love most things pumpkin (I would say all, but you can never be sure of what’s out there), I hadn’t thought of adding pumpkin to something as classic as the chocolate chip cookie. I’m always wary of tampering with things that are good as they are. However, I recently saw mention of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies on Taylor Swift’s tumblr, and was immediately intrigued. She attributes her favorite recipe for the treat to foodnetwork.com. Although she says that she prefers using semi-sweet chocolate chips, the recipe recommends milk chocolate, so I went with that option. The end result is fabulous; the cookies are reminiscent of pumpkin pancakes in both texture and taste. Just make sure you mix in the chocolate chips thoroughly, or the morsel-free batter will spread too much when baking. Original Recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe.html

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INGREDIENTS:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups (12-ounce bag) milk chocolate chips, not semisweet

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2-4 cookie sheets with parchment paper for an easy clean up.

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Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Stir in the chips (remember to stir thoroughly!). Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets.

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Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges, and the cookies are a deep gold. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2-4 minutes. Carefully take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Kahlua Coffee Chocolate Cake

Kahlua Coffee Chocolate Cake: it’s a mouthful to say and to eat. Sometimes I bake for a specific reason, like a special occasion or a family gathering, but there are also times when I just bake for the sake of trying a new, enticing recipe. I’ve had my eye on this recipe, which I found on the beautiful bakersroyale.com, for a while now. And by a while, I mean 3 or 4 days, but those few days felt like a month. How could you see this cake and not want to make eat it immediately?

As fabulous as the recipe looked, I didn’t want to make an entire two layer cake for fear of eating an entire two layer cake by myself. So, I halved the cake recipe. I kept the buttercream recipe the same since I’m a fan of heavy frosting. I did have some leftover, but I never have a problem with surplus frosting. Since most of you would probably rather have a two layer cake to show for your labor, I have kept the cake proportions as they were in the original recipe. However, I did leave out the hazelnuts for allergy purposes.

Once I finished making the cake (and ate two slices), I actually brought it to my best friend’s house for her family to enjoy (especially Uncle Tony!). It also happened to be our 10th Friendiversary… yes, we celebrate the day that we became friends.

Original recipe: http://www.bakersroyale.com/cakes/kahlua-crunch-cake/

INGREDIENTS:

CAKE:

5 oz. dark chocolate

2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. baking soda

¾ buttermilk

¾ cup brewed coffee, cooled slightly

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

½ tsp. kosher salt

4 large eggs

1/3 cup Kahlúa

FROSTING:

6 oz. dark chocolate

1/3 cup Kahlúa

¼ cup heavy cream

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened

DIRECTIONS:

CAKE:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray the bottom of 2 8-inch cake rounds with baking spray.

In a heat-proof bowl, microwave the chocolate on high power in 20-second intervals until melted; stir between intervals. Let cool slightly.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, coffee, Kahlúa and vanilla; set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and salt at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at time until fully incorporated. Turn mixer speed down to low, in 3 alternating batches beat in the dry ingredients and the wet mixture, scraping down the side down the bowl as needed. Fold in chocolate.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 40 minutes, or until wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out free of wet batter.  Let the cake cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove and transfer cake to a wire rack. Using a wooden skewer or a long tine fork, poke holes in the cakes and brush Kahlua all over cakes.

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FROSTING:

In a heat-proof bowl, microwave the chocolate on high power in 20-second intervals until melted; stir between intervals. Let cool slightly. Cooling the chocolate is imperative; if it is too hot, it will separate from the butter when you mix it.

Transfer chocolate to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and on medium speed beat in Kahlúa and heavy cream. Beat in confectioner’s sugar.

Turn mixer speed to high and add butter in two tablespoons at a time and beat until the frosting is thick and creamy.

ASSEMBLY:

Transfer chocolate one cake layer to a serving platter or cake stand spread frosting on top. Place second layer on top and spread frosting on top and sides of cake. Garnish as desired: I recommend using turbinado sugar or dark chocolate bits.

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Enjoy!

         Leslie

Breakfast Cinnamon Buns

One of the most comforting scents of fall is that of cinnamon baking, especially when it’s accompanied by butter and sugar. It’s a unique spice in that’s familiar and exotic at the same time. Cinnamon buns, though excellent, take a pretty long time when you make them the standard way, which involves yeast. In contrast, this yeast-free recipe takes a measly 45 minutes including prep time, which makes it perfect for breakfast. Because they lack yeast, these breakfast buns are more biscuit-like than regular cinnamon buns, which err on the lusciously gooey side of things (eat at Cinnabon for reference). Normally I’d be all about lusciously gooey cinnamon buns, but in the morning I like to keep it pretty low key, which is why I recommend these delicious delights. If you don’t have time to make the dough and bake them in the same morning, simply prepare the dough and filling the night before, and bake the next day. Cinnamon buns are always best warm, so try to eat them as soon as possible after baking them (it won’t be hard).

This is a slightly modified version of a recipe I found on epicurious.com. Based on suggestions from other bakers, I doubled the filling. If you like a lot of icing, I recommend doubling the icing amounts as well since what’s listed below is only enough to drizzle sparsely on top.

Original recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Shortcut-Cinnamon-Buns-101437

INGREDIENTS:

FILLING:

4 tbsp granulated sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

DOUGH:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp granulated sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp cold unsalted butter

1 large egg

scant 1/4 cup milk (I used fat free since it’s what I have, but whole milk is usually best for baking)

ICING:

3 1/2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp water

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

FILLING:

In a small bowl stir together 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and cinnamon.

ICING:

In another small bowl stir together confectioners’ sugar and water until smooth.

DOUGH:

Into a large bowl sift together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut butter into small pieces and with your fingertips or a pastry blender blend into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. In another small bowl whisk together egg and 3 tablespoons milk and add to flour mixture, stirring until just combined.

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Transfer mixture to a lightly floured surface and gently knead, 3 or 4 times, until it forms a dough. Pat dough into a 10- by 6-inch rectangle. It doesn’t have to be exact, so no need to pull out the ruler!

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ASSEMBLY:

Brush dough with some remaining milk and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar.

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Beginning with a short side, roll up rectangle to form a 6-inch log and cut crosswise into 4 pieces.

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Arrange pieces on the center of a baking sheet, cut sides up, with seams touching.

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Bake buns in middle of oven until pale golden and cooked through, about 16 minutes.

Drizzle icing over warm buns.

 

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Enjoy!
 
Leslie
               

Graham Cracker Cookies

If you live anywhere near me (any New Yorkers out there?), you know that the sweltering humidity we’re currently experiencing is far from autumnal. With that said, I usually consider everything post Labor Day and pre Christmas to be part of my favorite season: fall. Fall is the rebirth of the year for children… sort of like New Year’s for adults. It’s when they get to start the new school year with a clean slate, new hopes and dreams, and most importantly, great snacks in their lunchboxes.

One of the snacks that my mom always kept stocked in the house growing up was graham crackers. When I was younger I didn’t really get the appeal unless they were transformed into s’mores. But now I enjoy them with peanut butter and fresh strawberries as a dessert when I’m being healthy. When I’m not being healthy, I still use them for s’mores making purposes.

This recipe, which comes from the pretty and pink Miette cookbook, takes graham crackers to the next level by making them into cookies. They’re delicious with milk, as most cookies are, but I especially like putting them out when I have people for tea.

Buy the Miette Cookbook here: https://www.miette.com/mailorder/books/miette-book.html

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

Heaping tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 firmly packed brown sugar (I used dark, but either works fine)

2 tbsp honey

DIRECTIONS:

Sift together flour, whole wheat flour, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

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In the bowl of a stand mixer (such as a Kitchen Aid) fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey on low speed for about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl throughout.

Add the sifted ingredients to the butter mixture a third at a time, beating just until combined after each addition. Form the dough into a disc shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling. Similarly to a pate brisee, this dough has a lot of butter so it must be chilled in order to roll properly.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unwrap the dough and place between 2 sheets of wax paper. It’s important to use wax paper and not flour because flour would ruin the caramel complexion of the dough. Roll out until it is about 1/4 inch thick. I made mine a little bit too thick so they didn’t turn out as crispy as they otherwise would have. If you like chewy cookies, feel free to make them thicker, but if you want more of a traditional graham cracker texture, I recommend sticking to the 1/4 inch suggestion.

Using a 3 1/4 inch round cookie cutter with a scalloped edge, cut out the cookies. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet, placing the cookies about 1/2 inch apart. Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and LET COOL COMPLETELY! I put that part in caps because I tend to be impatient and always move my cookies too early. But be warned: these cookies will break very easily.

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Re-roll remaining dough scraps and cut out more cookies. Bake as directed and let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Goat Cheese and Zucchini Tart

Autumn is my favorite season. I can’t wait for the leaves to fall and turn crisp, for everything in Trader Joe’s to be pumpkin flavored, and for it to be acceptable to make heartier, more buttery food. But, before I can dive into autumn, I must part ways with summer. Summer, though not my favorite season food-wise (or weather-wise if I’m being honest), is overflowing with fresh produce. If you live somewhere like California where there isn’t much of a season change, you maintain most of your produce quality year-round. But here in New York, there’s a relatively large disparity between what’s seasonal in the summer and autumn months. So, until Labor Day, I will be making recipes highlighting seasonal summer foods, as a sort of going away party for the season.

As a food blogger I really enjoy looking at other people’s food blogs and Instagrams to see what recipes they’re trying, and often, creating. A few months ago, I came across a food blogger (hautesucreblog.wordpress.com) whose food I’ve been itching to try. After a minute on her site, I found the perfect recipe for my going-out-of-season theme: a zucchini tart. Below is the original recipe, which actually uses feta instead of goat cheese.

Original Recipe: http://hautesucreblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/summer-zucchini-tart/

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INGREDIENTS:

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

1 large, or 1 1/2 medium zucchini, sliced very thinly using a mandolin (don’t try this with a knife!)

6 oz. crumbled goat cheese

Olive oil, for drizzling

Salt

Pepper

Herbs de Provence (I used Sunny Paris Seasoning from Penzy’s)

3 sprigs rosemary

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unfold the puff pastry on the baking sheet. Top with some goat cheese and a little bit of olive oil. Put a layer of zucchini on top, leaving a border of the pastry untouched as the crust. Hit with some salt, pepper, and herbs de provence, then repeat steps.

Lay rosemary sprigs across the top. Bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is puffy and golden brown.

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Enjoy!

Leslie