Roasted Vegetable Moussaka

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I was inspired to make a roasted vegetable moussaka after seeing a recipe on El Chino Latino Cocina. It sounded like such a wonderful vegetarian version and had Greek yogurt in the topping to lighten the dish. I had made a similar, but non-vegetarian, light version for mom in the past because she LOVES Greek food. :) When my mom was visiting us recently, I planned to make her a special birthday dinner. I decided that birthdays deserve indulgence- and special, labor-intensive meals…. so I chose to make this “less light” vegetarian moussaka adapted from Tori Avey. :)

This dish was hearty and absolutely delicious. I loved the use of lentils instead of meat; I loved my choice of tiny black lentils too because they kept their shape. My mom really enjoyed it! We had carrot cake cupcakes (her favorite) for dessert as well. :) Just when I thought that my mom couldn’t be more pleased, my kids outshined my efforts by buying my mom a birthday gift at our local historic General Store with their saved allowance money. So cute. Happy HAPPY Happy Birthday, Mama!! <3

I’m bringing this dish to share with my blog friends at Fiesta Friday #42 this week at The Novice Gardener. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 lbs. zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes (about 3 large), peeled and sliced thin
  • 3 lbs. small eggplants
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • cooking oil spray
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup black lentils (about 1 1/2  to 2 cups cooked lentils)
  • 1 (12 oz) jar roasted red peppers or 1 large roasted red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 3 cups diced ripe red tomatoes or 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 10 tbsp grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, divided
  • 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp all purpose white flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg, or more to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

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  1. Place lentils in a sauce pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, lightly salt, and then lower heat to a simmer; cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Place racks on the upper and lower thirds of your oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees on convection roast. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray. Spread out the zucchini in a single layer across the baking sheets. Brush the exposed tops of the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper.
  3. Place one baking sheet on the upper rack of the oven and the other on the lower half. Roast veggies for 10 minutes. Remove sheets from oven and place them back in the oven, switching racks. Roast for about 5 to 10 more minutes, until veggies are tender and starting to turn golden brown (check the bottoms of the veggies for browning).
  4. Repeat this process with two additional parchment-lined baking sheets of sliced potatoes; include the garlic cloves.
  5. While potatoes and zucchini are roasting, remove the stem ends from the eggplants. Peel strips from the eggplants so that they have thin stripes of peel remaining down the sides (they will be half-peeled). Cut the eggplants into 1/2 inch slices, crosswise.
  6. When potatoes and zucchini are done roasting, remove them from the oven and set aside. Take the 3 roasted garlic cloves and chop them, reserve.
  7. Line two additional baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking oil. Spread eggplant slices into a single layer. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place the baking sheets in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, switching the baking sheets on upper and lower thirds halfway through cooking, until the slices are tender and lightly golden (check the bottom edges of slices for browning).
  8. While eggplant is roasting, place a sauté pan or sauce pan (I used a 4 quart sauce pan) on the stovetop. Warm up 2 tbsp olive oil in the pan over medium high heat. Sauté diced onion until softened and translucent. Add roasted bell pepper slices and chopped roasted garlic, saute for another 2 minutes. Add cooked lentils, diced tomatoes, fresh dill, oregano, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and 3/4 tsp salt to the pan; stir well. Reduce heat to medium and let mixture cook for about 5 more minutes until warmed through. If using fresh tomatoes, let the mixture cook for 10 minutes until tomatoes are soft.
  9. When eggplant is done roasting, remove it from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F (convection). Lightly grease your baking dish with cooking oil spray. Place a single layer of half of the roasted eggplant slices on the bottom of your dish.
  10. On top of that, place a layer of half the potatoes and half the zucchini.
  11. Spread the lentil mixture evenly in a single layer across the surface.
  12. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of grated pecorino or parmesan and ½ cup crumbled feta across the top of the lentil mixture.
  13. Place the rest of the potatoes and zucchini in another layer on top of the cheese.
  14. Finish with a layer of the remaining roasted eggplant slices. Sprinkle top of the moussaka with 2 tbsp more of grated pecorino or parmesan cheese. (I refrigerated the pan at this point.)
  15. (Return the reserved pan to room temperature.) Place moussaka in the oven for 20 minutes to bake at 375 degrees F (convection).
  16. Meanwhile, while the moussaka is baking, make the béchamel sauce for the top of the moussaka. In a small pan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk flour into the melted butter till dissolved and thick. Continue to whisk for a few minutes until the flour/butter mixture turns a light sandy brown color.
  17. Slowly whisk in milk. Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium.
  18. Whisk in 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese. Continue whisking for a few minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Remove from heat. Add ¾ tsp salt, nutmeg, and black pepper to taste. Whisk the beaten egg slowly into the sauce (drizzle the egg while whisking constantly).
  19. Remove the moussaka from the oven. Pour sauce evenly across the top of the moussaka. Sprinkle ¼ cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese on top of the sauce.
  20. Put moussaka back in the oven. Cook for another 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the moussaka is cooked through.
  21. Serve hot. Don’t expect it all to hold together neatly when served; it will slice more cleanly and pieces will hold together better after it has cooled.

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One Year Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Classic Mozzarella Grandma Pizza Pie

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My true (pizza) love is a thin-crust margherita pie- AMAZING. This pizza is the complete opposite- yet absolutely delicious too! The crust is thick, fluffy, and tender. The top is loaded with fresh mozzarella and a special tomato sauce. I have enjoyed a “Grandma” slice from a pizzeria in the past, but this version was exponentially better. This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Alfia Muzio.

Yield: 1 pie, about 6 servings

This pillowy crust dough proofs for 24-hours prior to baking. I was able to use my fingertips to form it into the 18×13-inch rectangle with ease.

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For the Grandma-Style Pizza Dough:

  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for surface (I used 1/2 white whole wheat flour.)
  1. Combine yeast and 1½ cups warm water (105–110°) in a large bowl; let stand until yeast starts to foam, about 10 minutes.
  2. Mix in 2 Tbsp. oil, then salt and 2 cups flour. Add another 2 cups flour, a cup at a time, mixing until incorporated and a shaggy dough forms.
  3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until soft, smooth, and elastic, 10–12 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill 24 hours.
  4. Coat an 18×13” rimmed baking sheet with remaining 1/4 cup oil. Gently and gradually stretch dough until it reaches the edges of baking sheet. (If dough springs back or is stiff to work with, let it rest 10 minutes before continuing. You may need to let it rest more than once.)
  5. Cover dough on baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place (but not too warm!—about 70° is ideal for yeast to grow) until it is puffed and full of air bubbles, 30–40 minutes. (I used the proof setting on my warming drawer.)

 The anchovies give the sauce something special. SO good!

For the Fresh Tomato Pizza Sauce:

  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained (I used San Marzano)
  • 2 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic cloves
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Pulse tomatoes, anchovies, garlic, oil, and basil in a food processor or blender until mostly smooth (some texture is okay); season with salt and pepper.

To Assemble the Pizza:

  • Grandma-Style Pizza Dough
  • 12 to 16 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated (about 2½ cups)
  • 1½ cups Fresh Tomato Pizza Sauce
  • coarse or flaky sea salt (such as Maldon) and crushed red pepper flakes, for serving, optional
  1. Place a rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 500° or as high as oven will go.
  2. Once dough has risen on baking sheet, top with mozzarella, and dot pie with tomato sauce; sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes, if desired. Bake pie until golden brown and crisp on bottom and sides, 20–30 minutes.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I feel as though I am revealing a secret recipe…. These cookies from Tate’s Bake Shop in Southampton, New York, are sold all over the United States. Now I know why these cookies are their signature item! They are FABULOUS- thin, crispy – but not too crispy, and loaded with chocolate chips. I don’t know if the water in the dough or the dark brown sugar makes the difference, but there is a difference. :)

This recipe is from Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Home-Style Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads. I modified the recipe by using unsalted butter, chilling the dough for 1 hour prior to baking, and by adjusting the baking time for a convection oven. I baked them for 12 minutes when using 2 baking sheets at a time, and for 8 minutes when using only 1 baking sheet. Delicious.

Yield: 4 1/2 dozen 3-inch cookies

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  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup salted butter (I used unsalted!)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees on convection.
  2. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, silpat, or butter.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add the water and vanilla; mix until just combined.
  6. Add the eggs and mix them lightly.
  7. Stir in the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips. Be careful not to overmix!
  8. Using a small cookie scoop, drop the cookies onto prepared cookie sheets.
  9. Bake them for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the edges and centers are brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

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Two Years Ago:

Indian-Spiced Chicken

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I may need this cookbook!! (I’ve also tried the German Apple Cake & Busy Day Chocolate Cake from this book- both absolutely wonderful!!) In this dish, chicken thighs are braised in a delicious and spicy tomato sauce. We ate it with Butternut Squash Basmati Rice (the inspiration for the meal), warm naan, and sautéed kale & chard (with CSA leeks & garlic). A WONDERFUL hearty feast on a cold and rainy day!!

This recipe was adapted from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn, via Martha Stewart Living. I used ghee instead of vegetable oil, increased the amount of garlic, and used a jalapeño.

Angie of The Novice Gardener asked for Indian food, so I am bringing this one to Fiesta Friday #41 this week! Enjoy!

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
  • 10-12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • one small onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 small green chile (I used a jalapeño)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 28-ounce can pureed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high to high heat. Add 2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to hot pan. Brown on both sides. Cook in batches if needed.
  3. Remove chicken from pan and add onion, garlic, and ginger. Cut a slit into the chile lengthwise and add to pan. Saute the onion mixture until softened, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add spices and cook for 30 seconds.
  5. Add tomatoes and 1/2 cup water and stir. Add chicken back to pan and bring up to a simmer. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes. Turn chicken occasionally throughout cooking.
  6. When ready to serve, uncover and stir in cream. Simmer for 1 minute and serve.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Butternut Squash Basmati Rice

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I loved the idea of cooking Indian-spiced rice with butternut squash. Fabulous! My desire to make this side dish with my small CSA butternut squash inspired an entire meal. A WONDERFUL meal! Yay! I know that I will make this all of the time now- such lovely color. This dish is from Food and Wine, contributed by Asha Gomez. I didn’t change a thing. :) We ate it with sautéed greens and Indian Spiced Chicken.

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 cup white basmati rice
  • 3/4 pound peeled butternut squash, cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook over high heat until the mustard seeds begin to pop, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the rice and diced squash and stir to coat with the butter.
  3. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over very low heat until the squash is tender and the water is completely absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and let the rice stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve right away.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Vanilla Bean Milk Tart with Brown Sugar Crust

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The cover of the Martha Stewart Living Thanksgiving issue displays an assortment of pies. I decided I needed to make a pie before Thanksgiving- because I am not planning to make six different types on Thanksgiving and I don’t want to limit myself!! My husband and daughter selected the same pie to try first… milk pie.

This pie is really a tart. The crust is cookie-like and delicious. The filling is reminiscent of rice pudding, in a vanilla bean, custardy sort of way. Delicious!! This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living.

For the Crust:

  • 2 tablespoons packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Ground cinnamon, for sprinkling

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  1. Make the Crust: In a food processor, pulse brown sugar and 1/4 cup flour to combine. Add salt and remaining 1 cup flour; pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse just until mixture forms pea-size clumps. Add egg yolk and ice water and pulse just until mixture starts to come together. Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and bring together in plastic to form a disk. Wrap and refrigerate until firm but still pliable, about 30 minutes.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 13-inch round. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9- or 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim edges flush with rim. Refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes. (I put it in the freezer for 30 minutes.)
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place tart pan on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Line dough with double parchment; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 25 minutes, then remove parchment and beans. Bake until crust is golden and set throughout, about 10 minutes more. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. Make the Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat milk and cream with vanilla pod and seeds until almost boiling.
  5. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together egg and granulated sugar until combined and thick, about 4-5 minutes, then whisk in flour, cornstarch, and salt.
  6. Reduce heat of the milk and cream to medium, then slowly whisk egg mixture into cream mixture. Continue whisking until bubbles appear in center of pan, about 3 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted. Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Pour filling into cooled crust. Sprinkle with cinnamon and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to overnight. Cut into wedges to serve.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Pasta Alla Norma with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

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My son is learning about eating a balanced diet in Cub Scouts. He had to plan a balanced menu and then compare it to his actual diet. When he was sharing the “healthy food items” from his actual menu with his den, he included slow-roasted tomatoes. His den leader- who happens to be a chef- had such a huge reaction: “Wow! Who made slow-roasted tomatoes? They are so good for you!”. I was so proud. :)

I had made this Sicilian dish in the past and enjoyed it, so I knew that this time-consuming version would be worth it. This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Mark Bittman. I nearly doubled the tomatoes, eggplant, and the ricotta salata- I prefer to have TONS of veggies on my pasta. :) Fabulous!!

Time: 3-4 hours, mostly unattended

Yield: 4 servings

  • 50 grape or cherry tomatoes, depending on size, cut in half
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • 2-3 thyme sprigs, optional
  • 4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
  • 1 3/4 pounds small to medium eggplants, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 2/3 to 1 pound fresh pasta (I used fresh pappardelle)
  • 4 to 6 ounces ricotta salata, grated, diced small, or broken into small chunks
  • 20 basil leaves, torn
  1. Heat the oven to 275 degrees. Put the tomatoes in one layer in an ovenproof pan and drizzle them liberally with oil, then salt and sprinkle with thyme sprigs, if using. Roast for about an hour, then stir and roast for another half-hour or so.
  2. After the 1 1/2 hours, when tomatoes are shriveled, add garlic, turn down heat to 225 degrees and roast for at least another hour. They should not cook completely dry; if they threaten to overcook, turn the heat down or pull them out. Fish out the garlic if you like. (I left it in!)
  3. In a large cast iron skillet, sizzle the eggplant in about 1/4 inch of oil over medium heat. (cover with a splatter screen!) The oil should bubble steadily. Turn eggplant as needed until nicely browned, about 1 minute on each side. Drain on paper towels, and when cool enough to handle, cut roughly into strips.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  5. Add the eggplant to the tomatoes and stir. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a bit of the pasta water.
  6. Cook the pasta and warm a serving bowl. At the bottom of the bowl put half the sauce and half the ricotta salata. Add the pasta and the remaining sauce, cheese and basil and toss.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Kabocha Squash Puree with Browned Butter & Sage

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Last year, I saw kabocha squash recipes everywhere- after the season was over. When I saw this special squash in the store this year, I bought one without a plan- I didn’t want to miss out again…

We ate this wonderful side dish, adapted from a “staff-favorite” Food and Wine recipe contributed by Michael Tusk, with grilled chicken sausages! It wasn’t the best compliment- but was absolutely delicious anyway. :) The squash was creamy and sweet and the browned butter added rich nuttiness. This dish would be a better match to an elegant meal. Next time! :)

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

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  • 1 kabocha squash (about 3 pounds each), halved and seeded
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), softened
  • 4 sage leaves
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 425° and line a roasting pan with parchment paper. Rub the inside of each squash half with 1 tablespoon of the butter and press a sage leaf onto each one. Season the squash with salt and pepper and place cut side down in the roasting pan. Add 1 cup of water to the pan. Cover with foil and roast for 1 hour, until tender. Let cool. Discard the sage and scoop the flesh into a bowl.
  2. In a small skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the remaining 2 sage leaves and cook over moderate heat until the butter is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sage to a plate.
  3. Add the browned butter and lemon juice to the squash and mash to a puree. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer the squash to a bowl, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and garnish with the fried sage leaves.

Make Ahead: The squash puree can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat in a microwave before garnishing.

One Year Ago:

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

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It can be so upsetting to bake for classrooms of kids…. I have learned my lesson the hard way. Laboring over homemade birthday cupcakes with cute decorations to bring in for preschool birthday celebrations, only to see kids lick off the frosting and throw them in the garbage… take one bite and throw them in the garbage…. You get the idea.

Both of my kids (now in 2nd & 4th grade) had a Halloween celebration at school this year where parents were asked to volunteer to help or bring in treats or supplies. I can’t help myself! I had to volunteer to bake. :) Our first plan was to make bat sugar cookies. Then I imagined rolling, cutting, chilling, baking, and decorating 60 bats and watching kids throw them out. Nope. When I saw these festive bite-sized sugar cookies I knew that they were a much better choice. Cute and quick. My kids also helped make them by rolling the dough into balls, sprinkling the sanding sugar, and adding the candy corns. This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living Special Issues.

My son and daughter each brought 30 sugar and 30 chocolate-sugar cookies to school to celebrate. Perfect! I had a couple leftover to bring to Fiesta Friday #40 this week too! Happy Halloween! :)

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Yield: 64 bite-sized cookies

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 stick, very soft
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • orange sanding sugar
  • About 64 candy corns (I used Brach’s)

Note: To make the chocolate variation: Reduce the amount of all-purpose flour to 1 cup. Add 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder along with the flour in step 3.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (convection). Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer; beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add flour (and cocoa if making the chocolate version), and mix until a dough forms.
  4. Scoop out level teaspoons of dough (I used the teaspoon side of my melon baller & scooped it out with a tiny condiment spoon), and roll into balls. Chill dough balls for about 10 minutes prior to baking.
  5. Place balls on 3 parchment-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with orange sanding sugar.
  6. Bake until edges are firm and cookies are dry to the touch (do not let cookies color), 9 to 10 minutes on convection, or up to 12 minutes in a standard oven.
  7. Remove from oven; gently press a candy corn into center of each cookie (surface of cookies may crack slightly). Cool on sheets 1 minute; transfer to a rack to cool completely.

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Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake

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I may have overdone it… I made Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bread for breakfast and Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake for dessert on the SAME DAY…. BUT, I have never made a “dump cake” (or heard of a “dump cake”) and I really wanted to try this one! :) A “dump” cake is named for its simple preparation- dumping ingredients into a bowl, stirring, pouring into a pan and then coating with toppings prior to baking. The bottom layer of the cake is custardy and the top crunchy- great.

I knew that this “pumpkin-overload” in my menu planning was okay when my son called this cake “heaven on a plate.” My husband said that it was the best pumpkin dessert he had ever had! What rave reviews!! :) This recipe was adapted from AllRecipes, via Nancy Creative. It is a wonderful autumn dessert and would be a great part of a Thanksgiving menu as well. We ate it with a dollop of whipped cream.

Yield: Makes one 9 x 13-inch cake

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  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 (16.5 oz.) package yellow cake mix (or use spice cake mix) (I used Dunkin Hines Classic Yellow Cake Mix)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup toffee bits
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
  • whipped cream, for serving, optional
  • salted caramel sauce, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (on convection). Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch pan.
  2. In large bowl, mix pumpkin, light brown sugar, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and salt, blending well. Stir in the evaporated milk, then beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well. Pour pumpkin mixture into prepared pan.
  3. Sprinkle all of the dry yellow cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mixture, then sprinkle the chopped pecans and then the toffee bits evenly over top of cake mix. Drizzle melted butter evenly over everything.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes (on convection) or up to 60 minutes in a standard oven, until edges are lightly browned (it may be a little soft in the center, but will set as it cools; also, the cake may sink slightly as it cools). Cool for 30 minutes before cutting and serving. You can serve just as it is or with a dollop of whipped cream. (maybe even a drizzle of salted caramel sauce on top if you really want to make it decadent!) Refrigerate any leftovers.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Skinny Whole Wheat Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bread

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Dave of Dave Bakes may not know this, but he convinced me that I needed a 13-inch Pullman loaf pan. :) I couldn’t wait to ask for it for Christmas, so I bought one on Amazon. Yay! It is FABULOUS. I love it!! What a presentation (& shorter baking time!!). This “skinny” bread was its initiation into my kitchen! Nothing better than a surprise special weekday breakfast for the family (& excuse to use my new pan!).

This recipe was adapted from Chez Catey Lou. It was a moist, low-fat, and special autumn treat -especially with the chocolate chips.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (convection). Grease an 8×5-inch loaf pan. (or a 13x4x4-inch Pullman loaf pan)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugars, oil, and eggs until very well combined. Add pumpkin and yogurt and mix well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour the batter evenly into the loaf pan. Bake for 39 minutes (I started checking the loaf at 35 minutes) in the Pullman pan, on convection, or up to 45 – 55 minutes in a standard pan and/or oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

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I have a few friends on a gluten-free diet. Chocolate Soufflé Cake is really my go-to gluten-free dessert, but I feel the need to expand my horizons. I have had a couple of failures in the past- most memorably a gluten-free berry clafoutis. :( Happy to say that these cookies were a success! They were crisp on the outside and sweet, chocolatey, chewy, and tender on the inside- difficult to believe that they were flourless. We ate them as is, but they would be wonderful with a bowl of ice cream too- and still gluten-free. This recipe was adapted from Joie de Vivre. Delicious!

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (on convection). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt until well blended. Add in the egg whites, egg, and vanilla extract; mix until well combined.
  3. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Drop heaping full tablespoons (I used a large cookie scoop) onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing each cookie 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes, until cookies are puffed and crackled, rotating sheets once during the baking.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an air tight container at room temperature.

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