Baking Bonanza

I set out to bake something at least once a week during the month of November.

With four weeks in a month, that means I should have made at the very least, four things (what can I say, I’m a math genius). I started the month off with Fauxreos and Funfetti Fudge for our work Halloween celebration, and then didn’t do anything the following weekend as it was jam packed with a family wedding and a 20 mile (attempted) run. I came back with a vengeance the following weekend and made the exceptionally delicious Funfetti Cheesecake Bites, but that was where things had ended. The second to last weekend in November was consumed by the Philadelphia Marathon, and obviously last weekend was Thanksgiving fun. I know, I’m a discrace for not even contributing a pie to my own Thanksgiving feast.

But before you shake your heads in disappointment, I’ll have you know I made up for it the very last week of the month! Thanks to feeling like I was hit with a ton of bricks on Sunday  night into Monday morning, I stayed home from work and did as much work as I could from my bed. By the afternoon I was feeling a bit better, so I ventured to the kitchen and decided to make some white chocolate chip cookies. Going off of the base vegan recipe I used when making regular chocolate chip cookies, I simply substituted milk for white chocolate.

Even though I didn’t contribute pie to my own Thanksgiving (my mom made apple and a friend made pumpkin), I did try my hand at pecan pie later in the week. This is actually one of my favorite pies, and I fell in love with it one year when my Aunt made a chocolate pecan pie. This particular recipe is a bit different, though, because there aren’t any pecans! I found the recipe over at Sugar Crafter, and was intrigued. This would be a perfect pie for anyone with a nut allergy. I wasn’t sure if it would actually taste like the pecan pie I love so much, but since the base was pretty much the same, the pretzels were an excellent replacement. Next time, I may top it off with some chocolate ganache to snazz it up a bit.

Even though November is over, I’m planning on continuing to bake. I have my sights set on this chocolate pumpkin pie. It’ll be my last-stitch effort to squeeze out any fall flavors left before finally giving in to winter flavors. We also have our annual Festivus party coming up, which will of course involve lots of treats!

Next on the project list for the month of December is to try and run at least 4 times a week. Since this past week was our first week back running, and December started on Thursday, I didn’t get in 4 runs, but rather 3. With the Goofy Challenge in Disney only about a month away, I need to get in as much running as my little legs will allow!

Holiday Cookies

The end of the year is always crazy, and this year is no exception. Between holiday parties, shopping, and decorating, throw in a job in an industry that has a lot to get done at the end of the year, plus end of semester school-work, and you’ve got one busy lady. But enough about me, this post is about cookies!

This past Sunday I had the pleasure of attending the second annual cookie exchange party hosted by my co-worker’s sister. Last year, I made yummy choco-hazelnut cookies that were a huge hit. This year, I decided to make something a little more simple, but still different. I’ve had RecipeGirl’s Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies recipe hanging around in my recipe folder for over a year. Since I still had a can of pumpkin left, and am not yet ready to say goodbye to pumpkin season, I figured these cookies would be a perfect last hurrah. Not to mention, until only a few weeks ago I had never had a snickerdoodle cookie (I don’t like sugar cookies – they’re boring). So, the idea of adding pumpkin flavors to a cinnamon and sugar cookie seemed perfect. Maybe next year I’ll get creative and make my very own cookies. But I knew I was in good hands with RecipeGirl, as she’s yet to let me down!

We had the cabinets and flooring in our kitchen completely gutted and re-done on Saturday, so the day was spent laying in bed, running, and doing homework. Since I was banished from the kitchen all day, this meant I needed to wake up early on Sunday to prep my cookies for the 1pm party. My fiancé came downstairs to the smell of cookies baking in the oven – what a perfect way to wake up! Aside from having to let the dough chill in the refrigerator for an hour, the recipe was pretty straight forward. I’m still counting down the days until I have a KitchenAid stand mixer though; my hand mixer just isn’t cutting it!

I tried my best to make the cookies as cylindrical as possible by using a pint class to flatten the balls of sugary dough, but I definitely had a few that were misshapen. The cookies were only partly about presentation, though, because we all know everyone is at a cookie party to eat! And now that I have a solid 10 cookie recipes to add to my ever growing arsenal, eating is just what I’ll be doing over the next few weeks when I try to recreate these! But before that, I have to cook and bake for our Festivus Party this coming Saturday. I’m sure there will be epic stories about that to come.

But in the meantime, if you have some canned pumpkin laying around and are in need of a sweet treat, take a stab at these Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies!

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
– From the delicious

Cookie Ingredients:
2 sticks butter (1 cup), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Rolling Sugar Ingredients:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice

1. In a large bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and pumpkin puree and beat well. Mix in egg and vanilla, scraping down sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and ground cinnamon. Beat flour mixture into liquid mixture a little at a time until incorporated.
3. Cover dough with plastic and chill at least an hour, or until dough becomes slightly firm.
4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (or spray with nonstick spray). Mix rolling sugar in a small bowl.
5. Remove cookie dough from refrigerator. Use a medium cookie scoop (1 1/2 Tbsp.) or a large spoon to scoop out dough and roll into balls. Use your hands to roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar and make sure they’re coated really well. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use a glass with a nice, flat bottom to dip in sugar and flatten the balls.
6. Bake at 350°F. for 10 to 14 minutes, or until they are slightly firm to the touch. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes or so, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: About 3 dozen

More Pumpkin

Even though pumpkin beer has made its way off the shelves already this season, I refuse to accept that pumpkin season is over. So, I’ve continued to scour the internet for anything and everything pumpkin. This particular recipe comes from HangryPants, by way of And Her Little Dog Too. I know that Heather over at HangryPants loves pumpkin just as much as my fiancé and I do based on the number of recipes she’s posted in the past few months, but I didn’t actually come across this particular one until Leslie of And Her Little Dog Too made it and posted about it. As soon as I saw it, per the usual I fired it off via e-mail (I love the e-mail feature in Google Reader) to my fiancé and he responded with the typical “MAKE.”

After last week’s meat fest, it felt good to stick to non-meat meals for this week. Since we really haven’t been eating much meat these days, last week was like an overload for me. I’m certainly not complaining since I made up the week’s menu and everything was delicious, but it’s amazing how different you feel when you include or exclude things in your diet. That’s neither here nor there, though!

Since it was a pasta dish, it was a perfect dose of carbs for Thursday morning’s pre-work 6 miler. When my alarm goes off at 5:30am I really question my sanity. I question it even more when my head starts to bobble at my desk around 2pm. I decided to start Thursday off post-run with a Green Monster, which I haven’t had in quite awhile. I think I need to get myself some fresh spinach though, because the frozen stuff doesn’t really break down that well. I tried to make a pumpkin pie version with the leftover canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, plain Greek yogurt, and a splash of Almond Breeze (full-on vanilla flavor, of course). It wasn’t bad! I need to stock up on the more typical Green Monster ingredients though so I can experiment.

But yes, the pumpkin penne. YUM. I don’t have garlic gold (sounds fancy, though) so I stuck with regular garlic powder, and I didn’t know what I was missing. It was super creamy which was awesome, and there was a bit of a pumpkin pie flavor, unlike the pumpkin mac ‘n cheese I made a few weeks ago. My fiancé and I did make the mistake of putting two drops of MadDog 375 sauce, which is one of the hot sauces we got last week, on our plates. This sauce is 600,000 Scoville units. A jalapeño is 2,500 – 8,000. So yes, this was A LOT of burn. They aren’t kidding when they tell you to only use a drop in an entire meal, or to water it down. My entire mouth and lips were burning in a way that I could only imagine the next closest thing would be to light them on fire. I doused my lips and mouth in milk for a solid 5 minutes, and had to dump out what was on plate and get a new serving. I learned my lesson, I promise.

So before all the pure pumpkin disappears from the shelves at the grocery store, make this!

Pumpkin Penne
– Serves 4 –

1/2 box whole wheat pasta (*save 1/4 cup of pasta water)
2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 can pure pumpkin
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare pasta according to directions, slightly undercooking (it will finish cooking once all mixed)
3. At the same time, sauté chopped onion in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes.
4. Combine mozzarella, pumpkin, ricotta, followed by spices in a large bowl.
5. Add sauteed onions to cheese mixture and 1/4 cup water from the pasta to thicken, then add pasta.
6. Spread pasta mixture in a greased casserole dish, and top with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

This particular recipe came to fruition by accident. On Saturday my fiancé and I headed to my boss’ house for a lovely evening of eating and playing Just Dance on Wii (which rules, by the way) as a celebration for successfully getting through our conference in October. Since she was doing all the cooking, I knew I needed to bring something along. After finishing my longest run post-injury (oh hey 6 miles!) I didn’t have much time to whip up anything fancy, so I fell back on PBFingers‘ two ingredient pumpkin cake cookies.

There were a few left over, and I was forced to take them home with me. Since we still have a ton of Halloween candy laying around, I wasn’t sure what to do with them. On Sunday, though, I awoke with a genius idea – whoopie pie! And let me tell you, this will be the easiest whoopie pies you will ever make in your life – trust me. Since the cookies themselves are literally two ingredients, adding some cream cheese frosting in between was perfect. They were a great morning treat, and would translate well any time of the day.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
– makes 6 –

Cake Ingredients:
1 box of spice cake mix
1 can pure pumpkin

Frosting Ingredients:
1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine cake mix and pumpkin until completely mixed and fluffy
3. Bake 10-12 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean
4. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar.
5. Liberally spread frosting mixture on each side of the cookie, and press together

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

After watching the NYC Marathon on Sunday I was inspired to head out for 5 miles of my own (after all it was World Run Day!). Somehow, I’ve managed to drop my per-mile pace each run I’ve been on post-injury. I suppose my two month break was like an extended taper. If that’s the case, I’ll take it!

For dinner, I decided to make this Turkey Pumpkin Chili recipe from Whole Foods. I think, if I remember correctly, I found it on The Runner’s Kitchen blog, but I can’t be sure. At any rate, it was absolutely delicious. I substituted the jalapeño for habaneros, since the grocery store’s jalapeños were rather wimpy. This of course kicked up the heat a lot, and it was well worth it. Aside from that substitution and an additional tablespoon of chili powder, I followed the rest of the recipe exactly.

There’s really no other way to describe this recipe aside from YUM. It was the perfect consistency. Often times I find that chili is either too soupy, or too thick – this was right in the middle. There was a nice amount of heat, and the beans and puree pumpkin really added a great consistency. Plus, I’d like to think adding the 99% fat-free ground turkey made it healthier than your average chili recipe! Since it serves 6, there’s plenty left for me to enjoy throughout the week.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili
– Serves 6 –

2 tablespoons oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped (more or less depending on your heat preference!)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground white or dark meat turkey
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée
1 cup water
1-2 tablespoon chili powder (I used 2)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeños and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned.
2. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, water, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Cake Cookies

After being out of the baking scene for awhile, I decided to hop back in with what was hands down the easiest recipe ever. Aside from going to the store and buying a box of cookies, I don’t think this could have been easier (and it didn’t require me to leave my house!). This particular recipe comes from PB Fingers, who’s blog I stumbled upon recently. She’s got some super yummy recipes, and I love to see how her wedding plans are unfolding – everything is so cute!

I made a batch of these cookies and decided to bring a bunch to work the next day. Of course, I left some at home to enjoy as well. They were gone in a flash! My co-workers couldn’t stop talking about how great they were, and they were in shock after finding out they only required two ingredients, and a 10-12 minute bake time.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a big skeptical about the whole cake mix + a can of pumpkin = deliciousness, but I’m glad I went ahead with it anyway. All you need to do is combine a box of spice cake mix, and a 15 oz. can of pure pumpkin, plop them on some baking sheets, and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. That’s it! They’re going to be super moist and cakey which is just how I like my cookies. I have every intention of making these over and over again, and you should give them a shot too!

Twist on a fall classic: pumpkin mac ‘n cheese

Since I stocked up on pure pumpkin a few weeks ago at the grocery store, I’ve been looking to make good use of it. I did use a can to make some overnight oats, but I was itching to try pumpkin in a savory dish. So, after taking to the internets, I stumbled upon one of my favorite foodie running blogs, The Runner’s Kitchen, and a pumpkin mac ‘n cheese recipe. Yum!

I’m not going to lie – the thought of adding cottage cheese into the recipe scared me. I’d only ever tried cottage cheese once or twice in high school and college, trying to force it down because all the health conscious girls I knew would guzzle it with fruit and boast at how awesome it was. After trying it, I was convinced they were lying not only to me, but also themselves. However, I know that my palate has changed quite a bit in the past few years, so I was willing to give it another try. I also assumed it’d be barely noticable in a dish filled with cheese and pumpkin. I was right! It also called for a small amount of mustard, which my fiancé doesn’t eat. His condiment consumption involves ketchup (ocassionally) and hot sauce; that’s it. I toyed with the idea of using it or not, and eventually I did use it (see honey, you didn’t even notice!).

So despite my reservations, I forged ahead with the recipe and in the end it turned out deliciously. I have to say, though, it’s pumpkin mac ‘n cheese – not pumpkin pie mac ‘n cheese. I think for whatever reason when I first took a bite, I was expecting that cinnamon and nutmeg taste that is synonmous with pumpkin in the fall (even though neither was an ingredient – duh!). I later came to realize the pumpkin is really there to make the dish creamy and gooey in a healthy way, without adding a ton of cream, butter, and cheese – it worked. I definitely recommend this dish to all the pumpkin fiends out there. Plus, this recipe makes 8 servings, so my fiancé and I have lunch for at least two days on top of the dinner!

Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese
– Serves 8 –

1 lb whole wheat pasta
15oz canned pumpkin
2 cups skim milk
6oz reduced fat cheddar cheese, cubed
1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup parmigiano-reggiano, shredded
1 tsp salt
1tsp mustard
black pepper (to taste)
1 tsp olive oil
2 Tb whole wheat bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and coat 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray
2. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until “al dente” or about 8 minutes
3. In a large saucepan, combine pumpkin and milk until just about simmering
4. Remove from heat and add 2Tb parmigiano-reggiano, 6oz cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, salt, pepper, and mustard – combine until sauce is smooth and melted
5. In a large bowl, combine cheese sauce and pasta then transfer to the baking pan
6. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, bread crumbs, and 2Tb parmigiano-reggiano, sprinkle crumb topping on top of macaroni
7. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 3 minutes (until top is brown and crispy)

Nutrition: about 325 calories, 8.5 grams of fiber, 18 grams of protein per serving

‘Tis the season… for pumpkin flavored drinks

While we’re slowly but surely coming down from our 90+ degree summer days, it’s clear that everyone has fall on their minds. I can’t begin to tell you how many blog posts I’ve read within the last two weeks boasting delicious pumpkin recipes and fun foods including the oh so yummy fall flavor. Even though it’s only the third week in September, cool crisp weather and warm flavors are definitely on their way.

For me, fall usually means beautiful colored leaves (that need to be raked, boo), the perfect clothing weather (not too many layers, but just the right amount), perfectly ripe apples, and of course, pumpkin! To be honest, I wasn’t always a huge pumpkin fan. Matter of fact, for a large part of my life I completely avoided it. Yup, that’s right – I turned down pumpkin pie (gasp!). However, last year, my taste buds seemed to change, and I hopped right on the pumpkin loving bandwagon. It started innocently with a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks, and continued from there – pumpkin bread, pumpkin brownies, pumpkin french toast, pumpkin beer… you get the point.

So on Sunday, I started my pumpkin fix of the season off right – the first stop was to get a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks! I can’t wait to get myself more of these badboys.

From there, my fiancé and I headed to a local wine store that has a pretty decent beer selection as well, and picked ourselves up TWO types of pumpkin beer! First, we grabbed a six pack of Shipyard’s Pumpkin Head, which we both had for the first time last year and loved. We also grabbed a four pack of Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale, which neither of us had tried before. The store actually had a few other options (such as Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale), so we’re looking forward to heading back after we finish these two.

Even though both of the beers are pumpkin flavored, they  are definitely distinctive in their own rights. The Shipyard has a strong cinnamon flavor making it sweet, while the Weyerbacher has a more nutmeg flavor, making it a little more savory. I really enjoyed them both, and even though it’s Monday morning, I could definitely go for another one right about now!

Aside from drinking pumpkin, I have a ton of recipes up my sleeve courtesy of fellow bloggers that I need to try. Everything from pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin macaroni and cheese, pumpkin overnight oats, to pumpkin smoothies. It seems like pumpkin puree with some spices can really be added to almost anything, and I’m more than okay with that.

Happy pumpkin season!


A Simply Delicious Monday

Today was a somewhat hectic day. So, to calm the nerves, instead of going to the gym like a good girl, I spent it in the kitchen, cooking and baking.

I subscribe to a lot of food/recipe sites on my Google Reader and Twitter, so I’m taunted with deliciousness all day long. I’m constantly sharing and e-mailing recipes that are just filed away and rarely used. In the mood to bake AND cook, I decided to whip out my growing stack of recipes.

I suppose we should start with dinner. Late last week, while browsing Twitter, I happened upon Every Day Food, which is actually a division of Martha Stewart Living. Laugh all you want, but they offer up some seriously simple and delicious recipes!  This recipe was the epitome of simple; it required mini-shell pasta, smoked bacon, frozen peas, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese.Can it get any easier than that? Aside from EasyMac, I don’t think so. Take a look at the final product, and judge for yourself.

It was surprisingly light, despite having heavy cream and a ton of cheese (6 oz of Parmesan!). Mix in with one of the most underrated veggies out there (peas), and some bacon – quite the mix. The recipe makes 4-6 servings, and since there’s only two of us, my boyfriend has a nice re-heatable  meal for later in the week when I’ll be away for work.

Now onto the good stuff!!

Being that I’ve made multiple pumpkin recipes in the past few weeks, I decided to continue on the trend (really just because I had 1/2 a can of pumpkin puree sitting in the fridge). I found the recipe for the chocolate chip pumpkin brownies on Betty Crocker’s website. I don’t think I’d call them brownies, though. They’re more like super-moist cookies, or bars.

At any rate, they were absolutely delicious. Again, my kitchen started to smell like fall almost immediately after putting them in the oven. Taking a lick of the leftover batter, it tasted a lot like pumpkin pie. I knew I had success! I decided to pair mine with some chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and it was pretty heavenly. I think I could have gone for some more chocolate chips, though. It’s definitely a repeat.


I’m starting to worry that my pumpkin days are numbered. Being that I don’t enjoy mint flavored things aside from toothpaste, gum, and mouthwash, I’m going to need to find another “winter flavor.” Suggestions are more than welcome!

I think my next feat will be either Cherry Pie (for you, MerMer) or a sweet snickerdoodle cupcake recipe I found on Bakerella. They look phenomenal. I’m not sure when I’ll have time, though; the next few weeks are extremely busy.

It’s now time for me to nurse the not-so-pretty burn I have on my wrist, courtesy of pulling the brownies out of the oven a little too hastily.

More pumpkin!

Last night, I had the fine opportunity to make Pumpkin Bread.

Never having made bread of any sort before,  I was definitely nervous. I was somewhat comforted when I found a recipe from Simply Recipes, since simple was at least in the name. And let me tell you, the name of the site couldn’t have been more accurate – it was SO simple, and absolutely delicious!

While mixing all of the ingredients, the kitchen really started to smell like fall; I think it was a combination of the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. I also, however, was faced yet again (for the third time in the past two weeks) with the not-so-pleasant smell of puree pumpkin. It really reminds me of baby food; and not in the “oh, babies are so cute I love them and want my own one day” kind of way.

I’ve started to wonder if anyone can have too much pumpkin in their diet. I sure hope not, because I’ve ingested enormous amounts of it since the beginning of September. I even managed to work in some Pumpkin Pie Spice coffee that I found at Target over the weekend, on top of mixing it into fudge.

The bread definitely has a ginger-bread taste to it, but it also embraces the pumpkin flavor. This is definitely lower on the pumpkin intensity, which I happen to enjoy a lot. I find that pumpkin is a delicate flavor that needs to be measured meticulously, as too much can be extremely overpowering and unpleasant, while too little bodes the question of “what was the point?”.


I’m definitely going to make my co-workers jealous when I whip this bad boy out for my morning snack. Cue the salivating!

At any rate, here’s the recipe for the Pumpkin Bread. I definitely suggest giving it a try!


1 1/2 cups (210g) flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (1/4 L) pumpkin purée*
1/2 cup (1 dL) olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup (1 dL) chopped walnuts

* To make pumpkin purée, cut a pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, lie face down on a foil or Silpat lined baking sheet. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 min to an hour. Cool, scoop out the flesh. Freeze whatever you don’t use for future use. Or, if you are working with pumpkin pieces, roast or boil them until tender, then remove and discard the skin.


1 Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.

2 Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in the nuts.

3 Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a thin skewer poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Turn out of the pan and let cool on a rack.

Makes one loaf. Can easily double the recipe.