Pumpkin Cranberry Spice Cookies

Do you have pumpkin and cranberries leftover after your Thanksgiving festivities? If so, these cookies are a perfect way to use them up. I brought these cookies to a movie night with some friends. They were very well received.

Don’t let the long ingredient list intimidate you. These come together easily and while the pumpkin cream cheese frosting is an extra step, it takes the cookies to the next level of deliciousness! As usual, these are gluten-free. However, if you can eat regular wheat flour, then just use that in place of the gluten-free flour, and omit the xanthan gum.

Because these cookies have a soft, cakey texture, they are best enjoyed within a couple of days of baking. Otherwise, pop the extras in the freezer to enjoy another time.

PUMPKIN CRANBERRY SPICE COOKIES
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2 1/4 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour mix
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4-1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
1/3 c. white sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. plain yogurt
2/3 c. chopped fresh of frozen cranberries

Icing
2 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 – 2 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp heavy cream
3/4 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash each of ginger, nutmeg, and cloves

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, spices, and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the sugars and butter and using a mixer, beat until fluffy and lightened in color. Add the pumpkin puree and beat until combined. Add eggs one at a time; mixing completely between each. Stir in the vanilla.

To the pumpkin mixture, add the flour mixture alternating with the yogurt. Mix between each addition. Stir in the cranberries.

Drop by rounded Tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes (mine took the full 12 minutes) or until edges are golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the icing: Heat the butter in a saucepan until lightly browned, but not burned, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and whisk in the cream and vanilla. Add some powdered sugar to make a paste. Then add the remaining powdered sugar slowly, whisking until fully combined (add powdered sugar until icing is desired consistency). Stir in spices and the pumpkin puree.

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Nantucket Cranberry Pie

Cranberries are in abundance this time of year and this dessert is a perfect way to capture the beauty and flavor of the cranberry. This is really more like an upside down cake, but for whatever reason, it’s called a pie. It’s super simple, so if you aren’t a lover of all things pie, you might just enjoy adding this sweet treat to your Thanksgiving Day dessert spread. I ate the entire pan myself, (granted, it was just a half a recipe, I didn’t eat it all in one day, and my husband apparently doesn’t like cranberries, but still…) and enjoyed every bite!

I found this recipe on The Pioneer Woman blog. But I did decrease the sugar from her recipe. I like my cranberries to retain a little bit of their tartness. If I make this again, I think I’ll add a bit of orange zest to the cranberries and maybe a squeeze or two of fresh orange juice. Or, you could do as I did here and add the orange zest to your whipped cream! Also, if you don’t care for the flavor of almond extract, you might try substituting vanilla extract.

I made this gluten-free by subbing in my gluten-free all-purpose blend and it worked out great.

NANTUCKET CRANBERRY PIE
(slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman)
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2 heaping cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 c. sugar
orange zest (opt.)
1 c. flour (or gluten-free flour blend)
3/4-1 c. sugar (depending on how tart/sweet you want it)
1 stick of butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp coarse sugar for sprinkling (opt.)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Liberally butter a cake or pie pan. Pour in the cranberries. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans, orange zest, and 1/2 c. sugar.

In a bowl, combine flour, 3/4-1 c. sugar, melted butter, eggs, almond extract, and salt. Stir gently to combine the ingredients.

Slowly pour the batter over the cranberries, making sure to cover the surface. Spread gently, if needed.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. If using coarse sugar, 5 minutes before removing from the oven, sprinkle the surface with 1 Tbsp of coarse sugar.

Serve with freshly whipped cream or ice cream.

Off the Shelf: October Magazines

The weather is cooling and filling the house with good smells is one of the best activities! Our October magazines arrived and fall is officially ushered in – at least in our kitchens. We talked about magazines we would review and we have chosen four but the reality is – you can’t go wrong with any of the fall magazines. I have Bon Apetit and Cooking Light in my menu plan ideas with several recipes marked. All of the magazines have wonderful, seasonal recipes and there is a good chance you will see a few more recipes featured here during October and November.

Everyday with Rachael Ray (Alaina) – This magazine has a great variety of recipes. It was such a tough choice of what to make. The Pear & Goat Cheese Crostini, Spiced Squash with Browned Butter Glaze, Maple-Walnut Chicken Thighs & Cheddar-Apple Rice, and Apple Tart Tatin were all tempting. I think I’m just ready for the fall fruits and vegetables!

Mini Meatloaves Smothered with Onions finally made the cut and they were delicious. The combination of beef, dates, bacon, and onions with worcestshire sauce and balsamic vinegar made for flavorful and moist meatloaves.

MINI MEATLOAVES SMOTHERED with ONIONS
(Everyday with Rachael Ray, October 2010)
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1/2 cup pitted dried dates, chopped
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 1/3 pounds ground beef
3 onions, 2 thinly sliced and 1 finely chopped
3 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 375°. In a bowl, combine the dates and breadcrumbs, working the mixture through your fingers to separate. Mix in the beef. Mix in the chopped onion, bacon, egg, worcestershire and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Divide into 4 mounds and, on a baking sheet, shape into loaves. Place on the upper rack and bake for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, on another baking sheet, toss the sliced onions with the butter and season with salt; spread out evenly. Bake on the lower rack, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 30 minutes. Serve the meatloaves with the onions.

Food Network Magazine (Alaina) – I love this edition of Food Network. The recipes all look wonderful and again it was such a hard decision. How can you go wrong with a pull-out full of 50 delicious Panini ideas?! And the use of fall ingredients is impressive.

I’m still planning to make the Pumpkin Waffles with Trail Mix Topping and the Slow-Cooker Squash Stew and perhaps a few more!  The Caramel Apple Cake, Pumpkin Pie Parfaits, Honey-Mustard Chicken & Apples, and Portabella Fries all sound so good.

After many requests for more side dish recipes, I decided to try a couple of the recipes included in this magazine. So, we enjoyed Sweet Potato Mash and Sesame Broccoli. We really liked both dishes.

SWEET POTATO MASH
(Food Network, October 2010)
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Pierce 4 sweet potatoes with a fork; microwave 8 minutes. Scoop the flesh into a bowl, then mash. Brown 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet, then add 8 sage leaves and fry until crisp; transfer to a plate. Cook 4 chopped scallions with salt and pepper in the browned butter. Drizzle over the sweet potatoes; top with the sage.


SESAME BROCCOLI
(Food Network Magazine, October 2010)
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Cook 1 bunch broccoli spears in a steamer set over simmering water, 10 minutes. Pulse a 1-inch piece peeled ginger, 1 garlic clove, 2 tablespoons each water and sesame oil, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, and a pinch each of sugar and salt in a mini food processor. Drizzle over the broccoli and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Midwest Living (Heather) — Although Midwest Living is not technically a food magazine, the Sept/Oct issue included a huge spread focused on cranberries. The article was so beautiful and inspiring that I felt it was worth mentioning here.

The cranberry article included things such as cranberry scones, cranberry layer cake, and cranberry apple sweet potatoes. I chose to try the Crimson Slaw and it was delicious. The color, taste, and texture were right on and paired perfectly with my baked ham, roasted sweet potatoes, and steamed green beans.

CRIMSON SLAW
(Sept/Oct Midwest Living 2010)
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1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. dry red wine (optional — but added a great depth)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
4 cups shredded red cabbage (1/2 of a medium head)
1  6-ounce package dried cranberries (I used half this amount)
1/4 to 1/2 of a medium red onion, thinly sliced

For vinaigrette: in screw-top jar, combine oil, sugar, vinegar, wine (if you like), salt, pepper, and mustard. Cover and shake well.

In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, cranberries and onion. Pour the vinaigrette over cabbage mixture; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours. (I had to serve it immediately and it was great.)

Serves 6.

Victoria (Heather) — Victoria has always been my favorite magazine. The beauty and romance of its pages capture my heart. I enjoyed flipping through this magazine while on our recent “staycation”. Since I am a devoted Anglophile (more precisely a UK-phile), I particularly enjoyed this issue.

Page 38 contains a beautiful photo of an amazing cake: who knew it was gluten-free?! I had to make it. The result was beautiful, but strangely tinny. After some reflection I realized the recipe had been altered in translation and the “tablespoons” should be read as “teaspoons”, especially where baking powder is concerned!!! So, if you’re going to make this cake, be sure to follow the recipe below, or remember the proper translation when you read the magazine!

APPLE AND CINNAMON CAKE
(Victoria Magazine, Sept/Oct 2010)
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1 1/2 cups butter, softened (margarine can be used if you can’t use butter)
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose, gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill with great results)
4 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
2 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 large eggs
4 apples, peeled and coarsely grated

garnish: 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped; 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and line two 9-inch cake pans.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment at medium-high speed, beat together butter and sugar until smooth.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, and cinnamon. Add to butter mixture, and mix at low speed until combined and smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs and grated apple; fold into butter mixture.

Divide batter between prepared pan, and bake for 40 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes. Transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble cake, place one cake layer on plate and spread half of the icing over top; top with second cake layer, and spread remaining icing over top. Garnish with walnuts and dried cranberries, if desired.

ICING
(Heather’s Recipe)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a mixer and whip (slowly at first) until cheese is thoroughly mixed in and mixture has thickened.

Slow Cooker: Appetizers

What do you have planned for the weekend? Company? Olympics? I think these two cheesy appetizers will be perfect for your weekend plans.

We loved this orange cranberry dip. It was delicious! I used the zest and juice of one fresh orange – yum!

ORANGE CRANBERRY DIP
(Adapted from crockpot 365)
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8 oz. cream cheese
2/3 c. shredded swiss cheese
2 Tb. orange juice
1 tsp. orange zest
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c.  dried cranberries

Plug in your Little Dipper to get it started warming up. Shove the block of cream cheese down into it. You may need to squish it in with a spoon. Shred the swiss, and add it. Grate the orange and add the zest. Add the orange juice and pecans. Cover and let it cook for 45 minutes to an hour. When the cream and swiss cheese have fully melted, stir in the dried cranberries.

Serve with your favorite crackers or fruit slices.

We’ve established how much I LOVE brie. And so when I saw that the crockpot lady had a slow cooker brie recipe, I really, really wanted to try it! However, I haven’t tried it yet. I have all the ingredients and I plan to but instead we’ve had strep and haven’t felt like eating a whole lot. But I decided that I should still share it so you can try it. And I will try it when we are feeling better. 🙂 It looks amazing!

APRICOT WALNUT BRIE
(Adapted from crockpot 365)
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1 large round or wedge of brie (the round I used was 13.2 oz)
1/2 c. chopped dried apricots
2 Tb. brown sugar
2 Tb. water
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Use a 1.5 mini round crockpot. If you are going to use a big one, put the brie in an oven-safe dish. As long as the dish and the crockpot heat together, you’re all good.

Cut the top rind off. Put the brie into the crockpot. In a bowl, mix the chopped apricots, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, water and rosemary together. Spoon on top of the brie. Sprinkle on the chopped walnuts.

Cover and cook on high for 1-2 hours, or on low for about 3. Check after an hour in both cases just in case. Serve with your favorite crackers or fruit slices.

Holiday Feast: Stuffing and Cranberries

Stuffing and cranberries are two of the side dishes essential to most Thanksgiving feasts. Stuffing has always been one of my (Heather) favorite parts of the meal. Over the years I’ve tried a number of different kinds and there are many more I’d still like to try (like Nigella Lawson’s Gingerbread Stuffing). This Sweet Potato and Cranberry Stuffing is a winner, incorporating so many of the tastes we love on Thanksgiving with the addition of sweet potatoes and cranberries to the normal onion and herb bread stuffing. The colors are beautiful and festive and the taste is lovely. If you wanted to, you could also add a few stalks of celery with the potatoes.

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SWEET POTATO AND CRANBERRY STUFFING
(adapted from Country Living 2008)

4 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 c. dried cranberries
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped sage
1 tsp. salt
ground black pepper to taste
8 c. white bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 3/4 c. chicken broth

Heat oven to 350F. Lightly butter a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Melt 3 Tbsp. butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium, add potatoes, and cook until soft and onion is browned, about 15-20 minutes. Add maple syrup, cranberries, and 2 Tbsp. water. Cook until cranberries plump, about 3 minutes. Add sage, salt and pepper and cook 1 minute more.

Remove from heat and toss in bread and broth.

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Transfer to prepared baking dish and dot with remaining butter. Bake until heated through and top is golden (30-40 minutes).

Serves 10.

relish

This is my favorite way to have cranberries on Thanksgiving. This relish is fresh and tangy with just enough sugar to take away the sourness of the cranberries. I always have seconds and am always happy for leftovers (which go well in a fruit salad).

FRESH CRANBERRY-ORANGE RELISH
(Heather)

1 whole orange (peel included), washed, seeded, quartered
1 12-oz. bag fresh cranberries, washed
1/3-1/2 c. sugar

Place the quartered orange and cranberries in your food processor or blender. Pulse until evenly chopped in fine pieces. Add sugar to taste. Refrigerate until serving.

Serves 12.

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CRANBERRY SAUCE
(Alaina)
It should be noted that this is adapted from a recipe that my brother came up with!

1 c. water
1 c. sugar
1 – 12 oz. bag of cranberries, washed and sorted
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. orange zest
1 oz. brandy

Cook water, sugar, and cranberries together until cranberries begin to pop – about 10 minutes. Add zests and brandy and cook for 3 minutes more. Cool and chill.

Can be made ahead and served at any temperature.