Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ten things to do with pumpkins

There's something about October and pumpkins. The very word October conjures images of the big, orange squash. They are so versatile, healthy and delicious. October is such a crisp, cool and crunchy month outside and that has me yearning for warm bowls of smooth pumpkin soup; toasty, golden, salted pumpkin seeds; cinnamon and clove spiced cakes baking in my oven and creamy pumpkin risotto on the stove. Forget about carving scary faces in your pumpkin, put it in the oven instead!

Here is my top ten list of things I've been making with pumpkins these last few weeks:
1. Roasted pumpkin and goat cheese salad (pictured above)
2. Glazed pumpkin cookies (recipe below)
3. Spiced pumpkin whisky ice cream (pictured above, I made this for Thanksgiving and it was delish!)
4. Pumpkin risotto
5. Creamy pumpkin soup
6. Pumpkin and feta quiche
7. Pumpkin pecan loaf
8. Pumpkin spiced breakfast oatmeal (To die for!)
9. Toasted pumpkin seeds
10. Pumpkin spice squares

I'm not going to give you ten recipes, but here is the recipe for the Glazed Pumpkin Cookies that I got from the new Canadian House and Home. They are so amazing, you have to try them!

Glazed Pumpkin Cookies
adapted from Canadian House and Home, November 2010

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F.

Whisk flour with spices and salt. In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter with sugar. Add egg, pumpkin and vanilla. Slowly add flour mixture into butter mixture until just blended. Drop with a tablespoon onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 13 minutes, they should look like they are just cooked in the middle, but not over baked. Cool on a wire rack.

1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup almond milk (or regular milk)

Whisk together in a small bowl adding more almond milk or icing sugar to get the consistency you need. When the cookies are cool, dip the tops in the glaze and put them back onto the rack to drip and dry. Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies depending on how big you make them. I got 3 1/2 dozen. If you're serving these to friends, make sure you keep a stash in your freezer because they will be gone and when your friends go home you will wish you had just one more to get you through the dishes and clean-up (not that I'm speaking from experience or anything)!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Healthy Granola Cookies

I'm always on the quest to make cookies that are a little healthier. I'm not saying that cookies full of butter and sugar and chocolate shouldn't be enjoyed, but I prefer to leave those cookies to special occasions and holidays (especially Christmas, when a few extra pounds are expected). On an average day, when I want cookies, I want to feel just a little bit virtuous about it.

The other reason I've been thinking about trying out some healthier cookie recipes is because my Dad is a cookie addict. I know people who like cookies, but my Dad's love for the little round discs of buttery goodness goes beyond almost any love for a food item I've ever seen. My Mom has spent 41 years of marriage trying to keep up with his demand for a full cookie jar. When she makes cookies, it's like a factory in the kitchen, there are jars and tins slowly being filled and racks and trays covering every surface. She has "healthified" her cookies over the years, but one of the ways she does that is by using soft margarine. I'm not a proponent of chemically produced "healthy" fat. I've been trying to get her to switch to butter for years, but to no avail. Their Doctor told them that margarine is good for the heart, so it stays. But these cookies use canola oil, and a small amount of it, which in my opinion is much better for the heart, but I'm no Doctor.

I came up with these cookies this morning, and they are my rough draft, but I must say, they turned out so well, I don't think they need any editing. You can definitely play with them to make them your own by putting different nuts and seeds in them, or by using a different type of granola.

My Healthy Granola Cookies - Rough Draft

I use my homemade granola ( for these, which has gone through quite a number of drafts itself, and is now the best it's ever been. I will post the newest version soon. The one I made yesterday has almonds, hazelnuts, dried apricots, dates and golden raisins in it, but you can really use any granola you like.

Preheat the oven to 350C.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I think spelt flour would also work great here)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup ground flax

Whisk together in a large bowl. Add:

2 cups granola
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

In another bowl, whisk together:

1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 egg whites

Pour this over the dry ingredients and stir in with a spatula until everything is combined. Spoon onto a parchment lined cookie sheet (they should be about the size of a ping pong ball), and make sure you space them apart so they have room to spread. Bake for about 12 minutes or until they are golden brown around the edges and the centres don't look pale and doughy anymore.