Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Cookies

Dessert

Holy moly it’s been a long time since my last post! These last few months have been FULL of travel for me and Jon but it’s time to get back to business. To kick off things off, today’s post is dedicated to the face of Fall— Pumpkin.

Two years ago, I was introduced to the joys of pumpkin carving by my good friend Carolyn. Her family is incredibly festive for every holiday, and it’s no surprise that Halloween was a thing in their household. Her parent’s bought us pizza, we carved our little hearts out and good times were had by all.

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Although last year was a miss, this year Carolyn and I were back on track!

With fall beers and light hors d’oeuvres on the menu, Jon and I decided Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies were the perfect compliment to Carolyn’s spread. The recipe below yielded 28 cookies and they were all pretty big! Unlike the texture of traditional chocolate chip cookies, these were a little more voluminous/cake-like. Also, in order to achieve a little crunch on the bottom, we left our cookies in the oven for 27-29 minutes BUT the original recipe did say they could be removed in 22-24 minutes. All depends on your preference :).

Have a safe Halloween, and happy baking!

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P U M P K I N   S P I C E   C H O C O L A T E   C O O K I E S

Ingredients (yields 28 cookies)

Pumpkin Pie Spice*

2 Cups flour

1 Teaspoon baking soda

3/4 Teaspoon baking powder

1/4 Teaspoon salt

1 1/2 Cup granulated sugar

1 Stick unsalted butter

1 Can of pumpkin

1 Egg

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 Cup semi sweet chocolate chips

(*You can absolutely buy pre-mixed pumpkin spice, but if you tackle it  yourself, just do a pinch of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, black peppercorns, and star anise.)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin spice in a medium sized bowl. Set this aside.
  3. Mix butter and sugar in a large bowl until the texture is smooth. Mix in vanilla extract, egg and pumpkin. IMG_9271
  4. In small batches, add dry ingredients into the large bowl with the wet mixture. For easy, even mixing, use a sifter throughout the process. IMG_9185
  5. Fold chocolate chips into the large bowl of cookie batter.
  6. Using a tablespoon, scoop  batter on to a non-stick tray with two inches between each cookie. (My baking sheets have seen better days so I tend to add foil and non-stick baking spray to play it safe.)
  7. Bake cookies for 24- 29 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Allow cookies to cool for 15 minutes, then chow down! IMG_4199

 

 

Crackle Brownie Cookies

Dessert

It’s borderline embarrassing just how many unutilized pins I have on Pinterest. It’s as if every pin binge is followed by an immediate black out.

The cookie recipe below is the product of not one but TWO over due efforts.  Well, the original plan (when I found this recipe in March) was to make this my contribution to the Rhoads’ Easter Extravaganza. Granted, Jon did get sick so we didn’t actually go but here we are three months later and I’m finally circling back. Now, where it gets really sad— about a week ago I decided I’d finally make these cookies and bring them to our 4th of July party at work but this was also a fail! My hectic week got best of me and I folded for store-bought cookies instead.

So, here we are three days after the party (but still a day before the holiday!) and I’ve finalllllly made these cookies from Cincy Shopper ! They’re a little on the messy side but overall pretty cheap and easy. Couple notes before we get started:

1. I swear by Ghiradelli brownie mix but I wouldn’t recommend using the chocolate chip variety for this particular activity. The cookie recipe itself calls for 1 cup of chocolate chips so for me it was almost a little too chocolatey having both.
2. When you drop the cookie batter into the powdered sugar it’s going to be goopy. Don’t freak out, just dust the sugar over the dough and it’ll act like flour. With a few mini kneads you’ll be able to scoop it out and place it on the pan with no problems. Just don’t over-work the sugar, the recipe is sweet enough as it is!
3. For me, these cookies turned out a lot larger than expected. With the first tray I definitely went overboard with my scoops– they were heaping. On the second tray I backed off and kept it to a plastic spoon full for each. Even then, the cookies turned out pretty sizable (maybe 3-4 bites, instead of 1-2 bites like I anticipated).
4. Sprinkles weren’t part of the recipe but I needed an element of “God bless America”. About 2-3 minutes before the timer went off I just tossed a few sprinkles on and lightly patted them down into the cookies so they wouldn’t roll away.

Alright, that’s all I got. Recipe time!

 

C R A C K L E   B R O W N I E

C O O K I E S

Ingredients

Brownie Mix

1 1/4 Cup flour

1/3 Cup vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon water

3 eggs

1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 Cups powdered sugar

Sprinkles (optional)

Process

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl combine brownie mix, flour, eggs, olive oil, and water. When smooth, slowly add chocolate chips.

3. In a smaller bowl sift 1/3 cup of powdered sugar.

4. For each cookie, scoop dough with a small spoon and place a dollop into the bowl of powdered sugar. Sprinkle a little sugar on the top of the dough (so it doesn’t stick to your hands) and lightly roll it around. Then place directly onto a non-stick cookie sheet.

5. Bake cookies for 10- 12 mins on the middle rack. Once done, allow cookies to cool for atleast 15 mins.

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Grilled Chipotle Chicken

Mains

If you’re anything like me, grilling food is fun to dream about, delicious to eat, and yet somewhat terrifying to prepare. So, today’s post is going to be a bit of a two for one special! Not only do I have a fabulous recipe for Grilled Chipotle Honey Chicken, but I thought I might provide some grilling enrichment in the form of a How To.

B A S I C   G A S   G R I L L I N G

Step 1. Turn on gas:  This was weird and tricky. There are two kinds of grills at our community pool– one that seemed to have BYO Propane situation going; and another that already had gas going through a pipeline. Had we brought our own propane tank, we would have opened the doors (so fumes wouldn’t collect), opened the valve on the propane. Since we did not have our own propane tank, we just turned a nozzle behind the grill. IMG_3058

Now, Obviously you won’t be able to see gas, but you’ll definitely smell it. Open the hood of the grill and wait one minute for the gas to travel through the line.

Step 2. Turn on starter: If you know anything about a gas stove, this is just like turning on a pilot light. For us there was a round button (for you it could be a nob) all the way on the left hand side of the grill responsible for getting the fire going. Press the starter (for us it took a couple times) and turn the nob next to it to High/Start. IMG_3059

Step 3. Activate the burners: Travel down the line and turn each burn to medium-high (depending your model, you may or may not need to press an ignition button for each burner). If you look inside the grill you’ll probably see baby flames.

Step 4. Allow temperate to rise: Close the hood of the grill and allow the temperature to rise for 10 – 15 minutes. IMG_3060

Step 5. Shut it down: Whenever you’re finished grilling your goods, turn everything off: starters, temperatures and do not forget to shut off the glass!

Okay! So now that all of that is out of the way, let’s talk about the food! The Chipotle Honey Chicken recipe below is super simple and I highly recommend grilling up some of your favorite veggies for sides. For us– salt, pepper, paprika (and olive oil of course) is the perfect seasoning for any veg going on the open flame!

G R I L L E D  H O N E Y  C H I P O L T E  C H I C K E N

Ingredients (Serves 4)

4 Chicken breasts

1/2 Cup Cilantro, chopped

1/4 Cup lime juice

1/2 Cup honey

2 Tablespoon Soy Sauce

1 Teaspoon chipotle seasoning

1/4 Teaspoon pepper

3/4 Teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Process

  1. Place ingredients in a large zip lock bag or bowl, and allow chicken to marinate overnight or at least 3- 5 hours.
  2. Preheat the grill to Medium- High (about 300- 400 degrees)
  3. Place chicken directly onto the grill. After 15 minutes, flip chicken so the other side can grill. IMG_3063
    Note: We wrapped corn on the cob in foil and placed it on the grill at the same time we started cooking the chicken. When we hit the 15 minute mark, we turned the corn and then added our squash. IMG_3064
  4. Allow the chicken to finish cooking until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees (about 15 more minutes). IMG_3071

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Pesto Turkey Burgers

Mains

If you’ve read some of my other posts during Whole 30, you know I’m a big fan of turkey burgers. They’re lean but hardy and can pack a lot of flavor if you’re intentional about it.

Last week Jon grabbed some Plainville Farms ground turkey meat on sale at Publix. He raved that this brand was top of the line and while I didn’t take him seriously at the time— I think i’m kind of a believer now! So here we are, one week later and I’m still so in love with this turkey meat and SO in love with this sandwhich. After a delicious round two this afternoon, I proudly present to you another turkey burger recipe for the archives. Meet the Pesto Turkey Burger.

 

P E S T O   T U R K E Y   B U R G E R S

Ingredients (Serves 3)

1 Pound ground turkey

1/2 Teaspoon garlic, minced

1/2 Teaspoon onion powder

1/2 Teaspoon black pepper

1/2 Teaspoon salt

1 1/2 Tablespoons pesto

Mozzarella Cheese

Sliced tomato

Olive Oil

Process

  1. Preheat oven to broil.
  2. Knead garlic and seasonings into ground turkey meat. Pan fry or grill until the burger reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  3. Place sliced onion on a foil pan. Lightly season with a pinch of salt, pepper, and a drop of olive oil. Cook until tomato begins to blister (3 – 5 minutes).
  4. Place burger buns open faced into the oven (or directly on the grill) until bread is lightly toasted.
  5. Assemble the burger: Spread 1/2 tablespoon of pesto directly onto the burger, or and/or directly onto the burger bun. Top with roasted tomato and mozzarella cheese.

Notes: Jon and I differ when it comes to the presence of tomatoes on food in general. For me, the texture of a straight up tomato is no good. For that reason, I made sure mine were roasted. Also, I’m a sucker for melted cheese whereas Jon choose to have his cheese fresh from the blade to the bun!

Pesto Turkey Burger

Apple Sharlotka

Dessert

Thanks to our friends at Facebook and Instagram, a lot of us instinctly eat with our eyes before we even get a taste with our mouth. When I saw a picture of Food And Wine’s Sharlokta (a traditional Russian apple cake), I knew it was something I’d have to try. First of all, I LOVE fruit desserts. Second of all, I had been dreaming of a very similar french dessert (Clafoutis) that Jon prepared from one of our Raw Spice Club packets earlier this year. Once this strangely constructed Sharlotka caught my eye on Pinterest, everything just felt right!

Although I had a few concerns the recipe would be out of scope for my afternoon, to my surprise, the only ingredients I needed to purchase were 4 apples, powdered sugar, and almond extract (in which case I’m still convinced there’s another vile of extract sitting in the back of my pantry). What’s more– the only prep required was a little chopping, and basic cake making tasks: mix wet stuff into a bowl, mix dry stuff into bowl, pour bowl contents into a baking dish.

In terms of a formal description for the Sharlotka, it’s basically a cross between a biscotti and an apple coffee cake… the top is kind of hard but the inside is soft. That may sound little bizarre, but it’s absolutely fabulous served warm. Now, when it comes to flavor the taste of almond extract may be a polarizing. For me, I find that almond paste or extract truly adds a wow factor. For jon, the presence of almond was more of a distraction.

So that’s it. I loved it, the coworkers who gobbled it up from the work break room loved it, and hopefully you will too! See below for an adapted version of Food and Wine’s Apple Sharlotka.

A P P L E  S H A R L O T K A

 

Ingredients

4 Granny Smith apples

1 Tablespoon lemon Juice

1 Teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

1 Cup white granulated sugar

3/4 Cup and 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 Teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 Teaspoon cloves

3 Eggs

1/4 Teaspoon salt

1/2 Teaspoon almond extract

2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar (for dusting)

Process

  1. Wash, peel and chop apples into thin slices.
  2. In a large bowl, mix apple slices, lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cover or place in a zip loc bag, setting the contents aside for atleast one hour.Sharlotka apples_bowl
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. In a different large bowl, whisk eggs, 3/4 cups sugar, and almond extract together thoroughly.  When egg and sugar mixture is smooth, slowly pour flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt into the bowl and mix. 
  5. Place apples into baking ware (I used a 9″ pie pan), and pouring the contents of the other bowl on top. Let this sit for 5 minutes before placing into the oven. 
  6. Allow the sharlotka to cook for 1 hour and cool for atleast 15 minutes.
  7. Dust the dish with powdered sugar and serve warm.  img_2654.jpg

Note: If you’re preparing this dish for family and friends make sure you warn them of the possible nut allergy :).

Pork Bahn Mi Bowl

Mains

I’ve never been the sort of person to make a big deal about my own birthday. I always joke that nothing can ever top my golden birthday (turning 8 on February 8th) at the Universal Skating Rink in Orlando, Florida. My third grade guest list was awesome, the popcorn and pretzels were delicious, and I believe this may have been the first time I ever had ice cream cake. My parents couldn’t have done a better job!

This year, I was pleasantly surprised by a random act of kindness from my good friend Carolyn. A few days after my birthday I found a gorgeous cookbook and a post-it wishing me a  happy belated 28th birthday sitting on my desk.

Now, when I say this cookbook is fabulous, it’s kind of an understatement. Skinnytaste Fast and Slow has nutrition facts, allergy notes (mostly pertaining to gluten), a nice variety of regional cuisines, plus plenty of meat and meatless options. Best of all, the recipes are super straightforward and concise. (As much as I enjoy trying new things, I’ve realized I have little patience for longwinded recipes.)

Since Jon and I both love Asian cuisine last weekend I finally busted out my cookbook for a little inspiration. The Slow Cooker Bahn Mi Rice Bowl recipe was literally everything I hoped. It was a little spicy, a little sweet, and required very little effort on my part.

I have provided an adapted version of Gina Homolka’s recipe below. If you like what you see here, I suggest grabbing this book for yourself or gifting it to a friend!

P O R K   B A H N   M I   B O W L

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Ingredients

1 Pound pork tenderloin

1/4 Teaspoon kosher Salt

1/8 Teaspoon black pepper

1/4 Cup soy sauce (Skinnytaste recommends low sodium but I used the regular stuff since that’s what I had in house)

1 Tablespoon light brown sugar

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

3 Cloves garlic

6 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1/4 Cup white granulated sugar

1 Cup shredded carrots

2 Radishes

1/2 Cup red onion (optional)

1 Cup red cabbage

3 Cups brown rice

1 Cup english cucumbers

2 Jalapeno peppers

1/4 Cup fresh cilantro

Process

For the Pork

1. Set crock pot to low and place the tenderloin inside. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and jalapeño. Cover the crockpot and let this cook for 6 – 8 hours.

2. When the pork is fully cooked, use a fork to shred the meat.

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For the Pickled Veggies

1. In a medium to large size container add vinegar, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, carrots, sliced onion (optional), sliced radishes and any other desirable veggies. Seal the container tight and refrigerate for least 3hrs (I prepared mine the night before).

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For the Bowl

1. Prepare 3cups of the rice of your choosing.

Time saver note: Jon and I used microwaveable rice (since it only takes 90 seconds). He used jasmine rice, I used a brown rice and quinoa medley— both were delicious.

2. Chop red cabbage into strips,  cucumber into rounds, and cilantro into small pieces.

3. In a large bowl, scoop 1 serving of rice into the base of each bowl. Add pork, freshly chopped vegetables, and pickled veggies on top.

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Mexican Three Bean Salad

Sides

If you grow up in a church, potlucks are pretty standard. Game nights, super bowl parties, Sunday school meetings, holiday gatherings, low budget weddings, you name it— the church is on it. These days, there are probably a myriad of rules and regulations about what a responsible contribution would be– but back then, the only instruction was to bring enough food to feed one family. For the Fortunes, our staple contribution was a bucket of fried chicken, potato wedges and biscuits. Now yes, we happen to be black (so I know what you’re thinking) but this kind of meal was a HUGE departure for my mother and I loved her for it! I remember walking into our church’s Family Life Center (essentially a large rec room) and jumping in line immediately just to get a plate of what my own family brought!

Fast forward to present day and City Furniture is my new potluck beat. When my sorority sister Carolyn lured me to the company, I was all but guaranteed fantastic coworkers, festive happy hours and regularly scheduled pot luck lunches— all of which has come true.

For this month’s marketing department potluck, I will be debuting what I have deemed my new go to: Mexican Three Bean Salad. Instead of getting caught up in coming up with something impressive or different every time I’m going to take a leaf out of my mother’s book and just stick with what works.

 

The colorful vegetarian side below is something I’ve made a few times for myself and I can never get enough of it! Only a $10 dish, it’s easy to make, easy to store (just slap it into the company fridge), and there’s plenty to go around. As per usual, once I get these beans on the buffet I’ll be hopping in line with the intent to throw down!

 

M E X I C AN    T H R E E   B E A N   S A L A D

Ingredients

1 Can black beans

1 Can garbanzo beans

1 Can red kidney beans

1 Can corn

1 Pint cherry tomatoes (about 2 cups)

1/2 Cup red onion

2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro

1/3 cup lime juice

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 Tablespoon honey

1/4 Teaspoon chili powder

1 Teaspoon salt

1/4 Teaspoon garlic powder

Black pepper to taste

 

Process

  1. Using a strainer, drain and rinse all beans and place into a large bowl. Drain canned corn and add it to the bowl. IMG_2576
  2. Chop cherry tomatoes into quarters (about 2 cups) and place into the large bowl.
  3. Chop 1/2 cup of onion, add it to the bowl and set the bowl aside.
  4. Chop 2 tablespoons of cilantro and place into a small bowl. Add lime juice, olive oil, honey, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. Whisk the ingredients together with a fork. IMG_2581
  5. Pour cilantro lime dressing into the large bowl, combining the mixture with a large spoon.
  6. Cover and refrigerate. IMG_2586