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Friday, September 21, 2018

Fall in Love: Three Pumpkin Recipes Perfect for Fall

The changing of the seasons is nothing short of magical, and the foods we eat help us mark those transitions. Of course, pumpkin is the name of the game this time of year! As we move into Fall, you'll want to try these recipes in your own home, for the pleasure of making them as well as to share with friends and family. So gather your tribe, set the table, and enjoy the warmth of good food and great company!

Thai pumpkin soup

Thai Pumpkin Soup: Easy, delicious, and a fantastic canvas for a variety of additions, it can be made vegan to accommodate guests of any food persuasion. It also freezes well, so definitely keep some on hand for a quick option at the end of a chilly day.

individual pumpkin custards

Individual Pumpkin Custards: Simple yet luscious, these are a gluten-free/grain-free treat, one that works equally well for breakfast as well as dessert! They're also fantastically easy to transport, and a welcome addition to any dessert table.

pumpkin butter bars

Pumpkin Butter Bars: Is it a bar cookie? A slab pie? Does it matter??? All you need to know is that these are out of this world, and deserve to be made as soon as possible. But be warned, they are just as easy to eat as they are to make!

What's your favorite pumpkin recipe? What do you look forward to making when the weather turns chilly and the leaves start to fall?


Friday, August 24, 2018

Georgia on My Mind: Peach "Pie" Bars with Pecan Streusel

A few weeks ago, I was fairly obsessed with these oatmeal cookie bars - I couldn't stop thinking about them! I finally convinced myself it was okay to make them if I shared them with friends, but that didn't stop me from eating quite a few myself. Just before making them, I couldn't remember if there were nuts in the recipe or not. And when I thought about it some more, I wondered, "Why aren't there nuts in the recipe??? That would taste great!!!" So then it was August, and August reminds me of peaches, and peaches remind me of Georgia, and don't they just happen to specialize in pecans there, too? I'm sure you see where this is going!

Peach Pie Bars with Pecan Streusel

Peach "Pie" Bars with Pecan Streusel

1 cup very soft butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
13 oz. peach preserves (I used this one, but homemade would be fabulous!)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 9x13-inch baking pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and salt together, then add flour and stir to combine as much as you can. At that point, scrunch the mixture between your fingertips to ensure the butter is evenly distributed and there are no dry pockets of flour left. Remove 1 cup of the crumbs to a smaller bowl, and mix together with the pecans, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Set this aside, then spread the remainder of the plain crumbs evenly into your prepared pan and press firmly to form the base. Bake for 15 minutes to set, then remove and (carefully) spread the preserves over the base, and finally sprinkle with the pecan-cinnamon crumbs. Return to the oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until just slightly golden and the edges of the filling start to bubble. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Cover and store any unused portion in the fridge, but let the bars come to room temperature before trying to cut them again.

Peach Pie Bars with Pecan Streusel

Notes: These bars are very sweet, but certainly cut back (or omit) the brown sugar in the streusel topping, if desired. As well, feel free to use any jam/preserves you enjoy, or any nuts you like! As is the case with many of my desserts, these travel well and can remain at room temperature until you're ready to put them away. Oh, and I don't need to tell you how great these would be with vanilla ice cream, right? :-)


Friday, July 27, 2018

Flour Power: Not Your Usual Brownies, Plus Some Encouragement

True story: I've been working with alternatives to wheat flour for many years now. I do this to provide something a bit more nutritious for myself, as well as create options for friends and family who need to avoid grains, either out of desire or by necessity. I've made these coconut flour brownies in the past, and they're very good. And recently, I spotted this grain-free brownie recipe online, and definitely wanted to try it!

I already had almond flour on hand (you'll remember those grain-free/egg-free chocolate-chocolate chip cookies from last month), and just needed eggs and some chocolate hazelnut spread to pull the whole thing off. After all, with only three ingredients, how hard could it be??? Of course, when the day came and the time was right, I gathered my loot and reviewed the recipe, only to notice a few minor details:

* I had a little more than half the amount of chocolate hazelnut spread as called for, but no worries - I'd just make half a recipe in a smaller pan.
* I had, inexplicably, bought jumbo eggs.
* I remembered, also inexplicably, I had about a Tablespoon of coconut flour left rattling around in the pantry.

The first two anomalies gave me more liquid in proportion to the dry called for in the recipe, but the third gave me the ability to correct for it - not to mention, use it up without letting it go to waste! I was confident (and greedy) enough to proceed, and dumped my ingredients, plus a bit of salt for balance, into a bowl and began to stir:

bowl of grain-free brownie ingredients

The batter came together, I set it in the oven to bake, and you know what? It worked! Fudgy, gorgeous brownies - nutty, chocolatey, and divine. I was grateful I had some experience with these ingredients under my belt, and didn't need to scratch the project completely. So, even though I didn't really follow a recipe, or even develop a new one, I still wanted to encourage you with this thought: cooking and baking with alternate flours is like any other cooking and baking. Once you get to know the ingredients and how they behave, you will be able to adjust as needed if circumstances aren't going quite to plan. If being grain-free is something you'd like to explore for any reason, don't be afraid to do so. I've created a new tag here on the blog for "grain-free", so you can find those options quickly. As well, I wholeheartedly suggest browsing through some of my long-time favorite sites, including Elana's Pantry and Deliciously Organic - and, for more awesome treats like those brownies, The Big Man's World! Be open, be curious, and take full advantage of the resources available. Others have been generous in sharing their work so you can avoid disappointment in your own kitchen. And, most importantly, enjoy :-)

grain-free almond flour brownie

Notes: If you really want to make these exact brownies, here's what I did!

Grain-Free Brownies a la Oops

13 oz. jar of chocolate hazelnut spread (you know the one, or use an organic one like this)
1/2 cup almond flour
1 Tablespoon coconut flour (alternately, increase the almond flour by two additional Tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 jumbo eggs (large or extra-large will still be fine)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8x8-inch baking pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together all the ingredients until fully combined, being sure to scrape the bottom frequently to catch and incorporate any dry bits. Let stand for a few minutes to allow the flours to absorb the liquid. Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are dry and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with fudgy crumbs. Let cool for a while before trying to cut and serve (they will actually have more flavor the longer they are allowed to cool). Baked goods made with almond or coconut flour are more filling than their conventional counterparts - you may be pleasantly surprised by feeling satisfied after just one serving!