Thursday, October 31, 2013

Zen Cookery

Inspired by today's Vegan Spiced Pumpkin Bread and a woman I work with, I'd like to ask you to take a moment and check out Zen Cookery.  I work with Erica and she's trying to launch her business based on her passion for baking while considering food allergies and sensitivities so everyone can enjoy dessert.  Developing goodies "free of allergens and full of joy" sounds like a pretty good business plan to me, but it doesn't stop there.  Zen Cookery has launched a 31 day challenge to raise the funds it needs to grow, using the money for renting kitchen space or booths at farmers' markets, as well as the legal permits and other licenses necessary to start a business. 

I'm inspired by Erica's dedication and entrepreneurial spirit and can definitely get behind a fellow baker.  Please check out her project and if you are equally inspired, consider contributing to the Zen Cookery campaign.  Just $35 gets her an hour in the kitchen, and you can get a lot done in an hour!

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

Vegan Spiced Pumpkin Bread

It's been a while since I baked up some bread.  But I couldn't just make one big loaf, so I opted for a pile of little mini loaves, made dairy-free with pumpkin and lots of spices.   In fact, this bread is so well spiced, that you might stop for a second, like I did, and wonder if it's gingerbread, thanks to a little bit of added molasses.  Soft and tender, this is a delicious little loaf.  I had a bit with my breakfast and then later a little nibble for a late night snack. It's just too good.  And since it's vegan, you know there was a reason that I decided to make this recipe, as my tendencies rarely lean toward vegan or dairy free cooking.  So a vegan recipe and the last day of the month can only mean one thing: Foodie Pen Pal reveal day!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Maple Toffee Cookies

These cookies scream fall in New England without being pumpkin or apple flavored.  There's nothing like stopping at a sugar shack in Vermont while leaf peeping to pick up a jug of maple syrup, and possibly some other maple goodies.  But cookies are not a maple treat I typically see in our New England travels, so I was eager to try them and they certainly are delicious.  These maple toffee cookies have a strong maple flavor and are studded with crunchy toffee and speckles of chocolate.  A delicious and crisp cookie perfect for enjoying with coffee or tea, you might find these as a new fall favorite.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies

There's a lot going on in these cookies and I can tell you it all comes together in one delicious bite of pumpkiny, oaty, cinnamony goodness.  This is also the first time I've used brown butter for a cookie and I'm very pleased with the subtle, but delicious, difference.  I think I like it because the brown butter has a nuttiness to it that goes really well with the oats in these cookies.  The cookies are really soft, thanks to the pumpkin, but still hearty with the oats.  And cinnamon chips a perfect mix in. In hindsight, I which I had tossed in some dried cranberries as well, but there's always next time.  I have a feeling these will be requested in the future.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Butterscotch Pudding Triple Chip Cookies

So I've heard all the rage about adding pudding mix to your cookie dough, but I hadn't yet tried it.  Now that I have, I can honestly say, I'm a believer.  These cookies ended up soft and fluffy in a way that I don't think I've had before.  With the addition of enhancing the dough with great butterscotch flavor, the perfect palate for adding a bunch of chips--chocolate, white chocolate and butterscotch.  Plus, I got the best compliment on these cookies.  I took them to work for a training session and was questioned about whether I actually baked them, being told "They look too perfect to be homemade."  Aw, shucks.  That's just how I roll.  The cookies are delicious, slightly salty in the best way because there is plenty of sweetness to go around.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pretzel Crusted Chicken

I love this chicken.  Tender and juicy, coated with a salty pretzel crust held on by a thin mustard glaze, this chicken is a delicious entree, and we have it pretty often in our house.  I love that it's simple to prepare but has a ton of flavor.  Plus, it's a unique twist on baked "fried" chicken.  The pretzels keep their crunch, and I even though I'm not a mustard fan, it's a perfect complement to the pretzel coating.  Serve this up with a salad and maybe some roasted squash or potatoes for a delicious dinner.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pumpkin Beer Chili

It's October.  The temperatures are cooling and football is in full swing.  That means chili season, pumpkin season and beer season.  Well, it's kind of always beer season for us, but now that I've discovered the excellent flavor enhancing skills of beer when added to chili, beer and chili go together in a whole new way in my kitchen.  So I completely devoured this chili made with a mix of turkey, pepper and onions, tomatoes, pumpkin and lots of seasoning, as well as a nice, healthy serving of beer.  This is a perfect chili for October--oodles of flavor, hearty and filling for cool fall evenings, and a savory pumpkin base.  Yet another chili for our rotation, and that's just fine with me.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Peanut Butter Lover's Cookies

Soft, chewy, peanut butter cookies that are almost overloaded with peanut buttery goodness.  Almost.  Peanut butter, peanuts, peanut butter chips, and chopped peanut butter cups all mix in to this batter with amazing results.  These cookies are more than good.  They're heavenly, and a completely different way to enjoy peanut butter than the monster bars I made last month..  Sweet without being sugary and all the peanut butter goodies you could want, these cookies represent perfection in birthday baking for my nephew Aidan who hit double digits yesterday.  He could survive on peanut butter alone and as soon as I saw this recipe, I knew he'd love it.  Dave did, too, so that was a good indication I was on the right track.  Perfectly soft cookies and bit peanut butter flavor are just about all you need to turn 10, right?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Acorn Squash Soup

For two weeks in a row, we got cute little acorn squashes in our CSA.  While I've never cooked acorn squash before, I was really excited about it.  The possibilities included roasting them or stuffing them, but then Dave asked for just a simple soup.  Done!  I'm all about something that's simple.  And this soup is also delicious.  Rich, creamy and perfectly seasoned, this soup is filling and hearty without being heavy.  Savory seasonings help this soup feel less like a starter and more like a meal, which is how we had it, complete with rolls and salad.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Vegetarian Black Beans and Rice

I can think of all kinds of meals for which this black beans and rice dish would make the perfect side, but my favorite way to have it has actually been for lunch with a green salad.  It's filling but still has light, fresh flavors that keep me going through the afternoon.  Dave surprised me by really enjoying this as well, and he's figured out that wrapping some of this in a tortilla with a little taco sauce or salsa makes a perfect and quick burrito.  There is a bit of sweetness from the tomatoes and a gentle heat from the diced chilies, plus lots of flavor from cilantro, cumin, onion and garlic. Definitely yummy and healthy never hurt anyone.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Loaded Caramel and Chocolate Monster Bars

Monster bars are what you make when you find a bunch of half used bags of yummy mix-ins in your pantry.  I feel compelled to make them every once and a while so that I don't feel guilty for buying new bags of mix-ins.  Plus, they taste delicious.  Any cookie base will do and then just go to town combining as many of those leftover handfuls of this and that--caramel bits, leftover Twix eggs from Easter (I'll admit--those things must have been hiding from me), milk chocolate chips, Hershey's Cookies and Creme Drops, and fudge brownie goldfish graham crackers.  Yes, that will do for a full on chocolate and caramel experience.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

I'll admit it: this combination simultaneously intrigued and scared me.  I mean, I thought it could be tasty, but the back of my mind told me that pumpkin and peanut butter just didn't belong together.  But I ignore that little voice in my mind and went with it for these bars.  They are soft, moist, chewy and nutty with sweetness and spice.  Neither the pumpkin or the peanut butter overpowers the other, but compliment each other, making and excellent duo paired with the oats.  Dave and I both enjoyed them, as did the ladies as work when a took a few in to share at a training.  What can I say?  I'm a believer in the pumpkin/peanut butter combo.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cheeseburger Meatloaf

I love a twist on a recipe standard.  Like meatloaf. It can be dressed up in so many ways (like this one or even this one).  And this recipe is yet another way of proving, you don't need to make your grandmother's meatloaf (unless her recipe is fantastic, then definitely make it).  But if your standard meatloaf leaves you wanting more, try this variation to turn your meatloaf into a cheeseburger dinner, without the bun.  Ground beef is doctored up with ketchup, mustard, onion and burger season, then stuffed with cheese, only to have more cheese melted over top for a delicious dinner and a new way to make meatloaf.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pumpkin Pancakes

October means it's pumpkin season and now I can unleash all the delicious pumpkin recipes I've been wanting to make since last fall.  Truth be told, I love pumpkin so much I'm not afraid to cook or bake with it "out of season."  Regardless, pumpkin taste like fall and these fluffy, soft pancakes are a perfect way to start your crisp fall mornings.  Spiced with pumpkin pie spice, these pancakes have an excellent pumpkin flavor and are just lovely for brunch. Or cook up a bunch on a weekend and freeze them for quick breakfasts during the week.  Warm and covered in maple syrup, pancakes like this are exactly why I enjoy fall mornings.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Skinny Fudgy Chocolate Cupcakes

These cupcakes are rich, delicious and full of fudgy flavor, have a chocolate glaze and are just over 100 calories each.  Let me give you a second to get up off the floor.  Better?  Yeah, I fell over too when I saw the stats on these figure friendly and amazingly delicious cupcakes.  And fell over again when I tasted one.  While the majority of what I post here would indicate otherwise, I do try to indulge in moderation and keep things healthy from time to time (so that I can indulge in the decadent and rich stuff on other occasions).  My boss and a coworker have birthdays a day apart, and my cousin Angela enjoyed her 21st birthday a few days later, so these cupcakes where a hit all around.  You'd hardly believe there are just four ingredients in these awesome cupcakes.  There are five ingredients in the glaze!  But I'm pretty sure I've found the perfect cupcake recipe for Girls' Night.