Pear Chips

Pear Chips

In ancient China, people believed that pears represented immortality and prosperity because pear trees live for a long time. We couldn’t think of a better post to start off 2018 than a recipe symbolizing prosperity in the new year.

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The cub started off by cutting up the pear. Her slices weren’t exactly perfect, but she was able to practice her cutting skills and she felt engaged in the process.

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Next up is her favorite part, measuring and smelling the spices! This girl loves flavor on her food.

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And we always stop to smell them.

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And snack on our ingredients…

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This particular day was special because we had G-ma in town for the holidays. The cub enjoyed showing G-ma how she brushed the maple syrup on each pear slice. Some may have had a bit too much maple syrup. 🙂

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Quick break to taste the maple syrup. Finger-licking good.

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That wasn’t enough so she decided to lick the brush. *No double dipping occurred in the process.

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After the pears had been brushed with maple syrup, we sprinkled the spices over the pears. This is the cubs best “salt bae” impression. I’m pretty sure that this could also become an internet sensation for this “spice bae” signature move.

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Dusting complete. Some more than others, but that’s ok. Embrace the imperfections of cooking with a little one.

Pear12Slow baked to perfection. Delicious, wholesome, flavorful and prosperous! The cub wishes you a happy new year filled with endless possibilities in the kitchen.

 

Pear Chips
(recipe adapted from Vegetarian Heartland)

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe, firm Bartlett pears, unpeeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 3 different toppings can be used – see note
    • 1/2 tsp. garam masala
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon with or without pinch of cayenne
    • 1/2 tsp allspice and 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 225ÂşF.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Thinly slice pears.
  4. Prepare the chosen dry spice ingredients.
  5. Arrange pear slices in a single layer on the baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Brush with maple syrup on both sides and sprinkle with spice mixture.
  6. Bake, flipping once halfway through the baking time until all moisture is removed and they are brittle and not spongy – about 3 hours.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool. They should be the consistency of a chip when cooled.
  8. Store in resealable bag at room temperature for up to 3 months.

Note: We used the cinnamon without the cayenne for the cub but the other mixes are delicious for more adult/sophisticated taste or your adventuresome cub).

Paleo Peppermint Brownies

Paleo Peppermint Brownies

I have to be honest, I would not have thought to make a paleo style brownie a few months ago, but we have been exploring alternative ways to make sweets with healthier ingredients and I must say I’m completely blown away. These are just as good as regular brownies. Ooey gooey and delicious!

I also have a new obsession with Cheryl Malik’s blog 40 aprons. I found these delicious brownies on her site and knew the cub would love them!

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We started off our cooking session with a little snack – raisins! And an excuse for me to post a cute photo of the cub!

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In goes the dry ingredients. The cub has mastered this skill!

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After all the dry ingredients have been added, the cub likes to take a moment and observe the texture, color and smell.

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The cub observed how the coconut oil went from a solid, then a liquid after heating it. Fascinating!

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We always stop to smell our ingredients. Peppermint is a new smell for the cub and she approves.

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“It wont come out Grandma,” the cub explains! Grandma DiDi helps scoop out the almond butter from the measuring cup. “It’s thick, isn’t it,  explains Grandma DiDi?

Grandma DiDi and the cub completed mixing all the dry and wet ingredients and now its time to pour it into our 8 x 8 baking dish.

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“Grandma, am I doing this right” the cub asks? Grandma DiDi encourages the cub and lets her know she’s doing a fantastic job.

Grandma DiDi helps spread the mixture evenly in the pan and then it was time to put the brownies in the oven.

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While the brownies bake, it’s time to make the frosting!  The cub may or may not have eaten a few.

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There is a first time for everything. This was the cubs first time using a can opener. With a little help, she did it!

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After they opened the can, Grandma DiDi added the coconut cream into the frosting ingredients and popped it into the microwave.

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Once heated and stirred, the cub thought it would be nice to dip her bread stick in the frosting to make sure it was just right. “Delicious,” the cub yells!

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After the brownies have cooked, remove from the oven and let cool for 10 mins.  Pour over the frosting and add crushed candy cane! Almost time to eat. Let them cool completely before cutting into squares.

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I brought these to a dinner party and everyone thought they were sooo good. As good as a regular brownie and have a rich and gooey texture.

Paleo Peppermint Brownies
(recipe adapted from www.40aprons.com)

Ingredients

Brownies

  • 2 eggs 
  • 2/3 cup blanched almond flour
  • 2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
  • 2/3 cup Cocoa Powder 
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup Refined Coconut Oil melted
  • 1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 3 Tbsp. almond butter
  • 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Spray Coconut Oil

Frosting

  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp. Refined Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Cream
  • 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • vegan peppermint candies or candy canes crushed, for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325ÂşF.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine almond flour, tapioca starch, cocoa powder, baking powder, pinch of salt, and coconut sugar. Pulse a couple times until well mixed. Add in 2 eggs, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, almond butter, peppermint extract, and vanilla extract. Process until smooth. Alternately, to mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk well, then add in egg, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, almond butter, and extracts, and stir until very smooth.
  3. Line an 8×8” baking pan with parchment paper and spray with coconut oil. Scrape brownie batter into prepared pan, push batter into edges, and smooth surface. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out close to clean. Don’t overbake! You don’t want the toothpick to be perfectly clean, but it should not be coated in what looks like frosting.
  4. Make frosting: combine chocolate chips, coconut oil, maple syrup, and coconut cream in a medium microwavable bowl. Microwave 60 seconds then stir well. Continue microwaving in 30-second bursts, stirring very well between each burst, until chocolate is just melted. Stir in peppermint and vanilla extracts, then pour over still-warm brownies. Let cool slightly then top with crushed peppermint candies. Let cool completely before cutting. If frosting is not solidifying, chill for about an hour to harden. Cut into 16 square and keep in an airtight container about 4 days.

Veggie Quinoa Sushi

Veggie Quinoa Sushi

We are big fans of lazycatkitchen.com and her plant-based recipes! Grandma DiDi made these a while back for a baby shower and they were a hit. Light, delicious and healthy. So when trying to think of a healthy lunch option for the cub, these popped up! The cub is a big fan of sushi and we always like introducing new ideas to her.

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To truly make sticky quinoa for the sushi, we dissolved miso in water to add to the quinoa while it cooked. The cub helps stir it up and watches it dissolve.

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Next up, its time to julienne some vegetables. New word for the cub and she is happy to help cut the pickled carrots, because…

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She ate them all! She loves anything pickled. Remember the pickled veggies we made a few weeks ago. Obsessed! I’m not upset about it as it is great for her overall gut health and making them ourselves cuts down on the salt!

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Back to work! Cutting more veggies. Almost ready to make the sushi.

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Grandma DiDi took the quinoa off the stove so it can cool before it goes on the nori. If we add it too soon, it would ruin the nori. While we wait, the cub helps get the rolling station set up. Such a great helper.

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Quinoa is all cool. Grandma DiDi spreads it in an even layer on the nori while the cub eats more carrots.

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Add whatever combination of veggies you would like. We did raw beets and cucumber with pickled carrots and some avocado. We also tried another one that included raw beet kraut.

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The cub is very interested in the rolling. “Grandma, you’re doing it”, yells the cub.

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“SUSHI”!!! Grandma DiDi shows the cub how to cut it into bite-sized rolls. Almost time to eat!

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So simple, yet so wholesome and delicious. Pair with your favorite dipping sauce and you have an excellent lunch.

 

Veggie Quinoa Sushi

Ingredients

  • 6 nori sheets
  • 1½ cup quinoa (we used a mix of red and white.  Black is great if you can find it)
  • 3 tbsp white miso paste*
  • 1 small avocado, peeled & sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled & julienned
  • 1 beetroot, peeled & julienned
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled & julienned
  • tamari (for GF version) or soy sauce

Directions (modified from lazycatkitchen.com)

  1. Rinse your quinoa. Dissolve miso paste in ½ cup of water. Place rinsed quinoa in a pot with a see-through lid. Add dissolved miso paste and an extra 1 and ž cup of water to the pot. Put the lid on and bring quinoa to the boil. Once it starts boiling, turn the heat right down to simmer. Simmer (with a lid on) until all of the water has been absorbed. Once quinoa absorbs all the water (tilt the pot slightly to check if there is any water left in it), turn the heat off and leave the pot (DO NOT LIFT THE LID) on a hot hob for about 5-10 mins so that quinoa finishes cooking in its own steam. Make sure you cool it down completely before making sushi rolls or else nori sheets will become soggy.
  2. Time to roll your sushi – Wrap your sushi mat (bamboo mat or folded kitchen towel) in a large piece of saran wrap. Put the mat down, put a nori sheet on top of the mat, shiny side down. Grab some quinoa with a spoon and spread it evenly on the nori sheet leaving a 1 cm margin at the very top, for sealing. As well as spreading the quinoa evenly, keep on pressing it into the mat with the back of a spoon.
  3. Place avocado slices, a few pieces of beet, carrot and cucumber all along the sheet(veggies of your choice)
  4.  Using the mat, slowly start rolling the nori, squeezing it tightly with both hands as you roll. Go back every now and then to make sure everything is tightly bonded.
  5. Once you get to the end, dip your finger in water and brush the water on the margin to seal the roll. Finish rolling and set the roll aside.
  6. Cut them into 1 cm slices with a sharp knife. Serve with a side of tamari (or soy sauce) and wasabi if desired.

Apple Granola Bars

Apple Granola Bars

Kids are always looking for a sweet treat, so what better way to fill that craving then with one of these yummy apple bars. Low in sugar and high in nutrients! The cub thinks they are pretty great!

Apple 1

But first, a cracker! Grandma DiDi recently took a trip to Boston to walk the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk that raises money for the Dana Farber center and their fight against cancer. While enjoying the city, she stopped in to the famous Eataly and couldn’t resist this cute apron for the cub. Thanks, Grandma DiDi.

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The cub helped by chopping up the apples for the apple sauce.

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Grandma DiDi showed the cub all the spices that needed to be added to the apple mixture. In went the apples, too.

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As always, we must stop and smell the ingredients. It’s part of what makes a great cook!

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Stir it up! Then, Grandma DiDi moved it to the stove to heat until the apples become mushy and soft.

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While the apple mixture heats on the stove, the cub works on the crust. To be honest, we didn’t add enough sugar to the first recipe and it was lacking in flavor, so we upped it and now it’s delicious. Nothing wrong with a little trial and error until your recipes are just right!

The cub added all the dry ingredients, plus jarred  apple sauce to form the crust. Once it forms, we transferred it to the baking dish.

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We used parchment paper under the crust to make clean up and serving easier. Grandma DiDi shows the cub how to press the crust into the bottom of the pan in a nice even layer.

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Over on the stove, Grandma DiDi mashed up the apple mixture and poured it over the crust. Spread it thin and it’s time to add the granola.

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We used Purely Elizabeth Granola, maple flavor, but you can use any granola you wish.

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After it baked for 20-25 mins, we allowed it to cool, then pulled it out of the pan with ease thanks to the parchment paper.

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Slice into squares and Voila! Easy and healthy and perfect for a grab and go breakfast or snack.

 

Apple Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 4 Gala apples
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of cardamom
  • 1 tbsp lemon
  • 1/2 cup jarred unsweetened apple sauce.
  • 1 c. almond flour
  • 1/2 gluten-free flour + 2 tbsp
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 c. Purely Elizabeth Granola (We used maple walnut flavor)

Directions

  1. Pre heat the oven to 325 degrees and line the 8 X 8 pan with parchment paper so the bars can be easily lifted out of pan to make it a breeze to cut.
  2. Make the applesauce by washing, peeling and cutting up the apples and placing them into a saucepan.  Add the cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. cardamom and cook over low heat until soft and mash with a potato masher.  Add the lemon juice and let cool.
  3. Make the crumb crust. Mix Almond, gluten-free flour, salt, 1/2 tsp. cardamom and sugar into a bowl and mix well with 1/2 cup of jarred applesauce.
  4.  Once mixture becomes more like a dough, press into bottom of 8 X 8 pan.
  5. Pour apple mixture from pan over the crust.
  6. Sprinkle the granola over the top and cook for approximately 20 – 25 minutes.

Cool and cut into squares. Enjoy

Pumpkin Chiffon Puffs

Pumpkin Chiffon Puffs

The love of cooking didn’t just start with The Cub in our family. We have a long history of creative chefs who whip up delicious recipes with such ease. Grandma DiDi, being one of them, dug up some old family recipes a few years back and found these Pumpkin Chiffon Puffs her Great Aunt Adele used to make. Older family members were delighted to have them back on the Thanksgiving Day menu and newer members enjoyed them just the same. These are delicious, and come in a handy single serving size!

Speaking of amazing cooks, Grandma DiDi recently joined the San Diego Cookbook Club. A once-a-month cooking club where members bring a dish from a cookbook they are reviewing. She delighted the members with two dishes; a Moroccan Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Soup as well as a Leek and Potato Galette. After all members silently voted, Grandma DiDi won first place for her soup! Way to go! Click on the link above to get the recipes for the holidays!

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Back to the Pumpkin Chiffon Puffs… The cub helped us by placing liners in each cupcake form. She had a choice between polka dots and stripes and she picked stripes!

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Next up, she helped measure the spices to add to the pumpkin mix, which was already on a double boiler over the stove.

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The cub watched as Grandma DiDi added all the ingredients to the pumpkin mixture.

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Separating eggs is a fun sensory activity for toddlers. The cub really wanted to pour the egg yolks into the bowl after Grandma DiDi separated the whites.

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For a toddler, the best part of an egg is the shell. She kept herself busy breaking apart the shells while Grandma DiDi prepped the rest.

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If you can’t find graham cracker crumbs in the store, make your own! We placed whole graham crackers in a plastic bag and used a rolling-pin to smash them. BIG fun for a toddler!

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After the crust mixture was mixed, the cub helped Grandma DiDi press the crust into each liner. Lots of finger-licking fun!

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Now that the pumpkin mixture had cooled, Grandma DiDi whipped up the 8 egg whites she had set aside. In they go with the pumpkin mixture.

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Then gently folded into each other until well mixed.

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Last but not least, the pumpkin mixture goes into the forms and they are ready to bake. The oven should be nice and hot by now!

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And there you have it! The most delicious, single-serve, melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin chiffon dessert to add to your holiday menu. It’s not Thanksgiving without these in our family.

Pumpkin Chiffon Puffs

Please know that there are several approximations in this recipe.  The original recipe found was not complete and it had to be made several times to get things right.

Ingredients

  • 7 cups (approx) graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 to 2 cubes butter – start with less and add what you need
  • 1 large can pumpkin puree
  • 1 can evaporated milk and enough regular milk to equal 2 1/2 cups milk total
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 8  large eggs separated
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup (or more…) brandy
  • Whipped cream

Directions
makes approx. 30 puffs 

Set oven to 350 degrees.

  1. In a double boiler add pumpkin, all milk, 1 1/2 cups sugar (reserving the rest for the crust), spices, brandy and molasses and blend well. As it begins to heat add flour and whisk in along with the 8 egg yolks (after separating egg yolks, reserve the egg whites for later). Cook stirring occasionally until it thickens. About 10 – 15 minutes. At this point you can taste to add more brandy if desired. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. As the pumpkin mixture cools, make the graham cracker crust. If you can’t find graham cracker crumbs (very rare these days), make your own crumbs in processor or in a plastic bag with a rolling-pin.
  3. Melt 1 cube of butter and add to crumbs with 1/2 cup sugar. Mix well. Add more butter if needed. It should be at a consistency that will stick together when compressed but not greasy.
  4. Line the cupcake tins with paper liners and carefully pack the crust mix into each cup. Get it as far up the sides as you can, but truthfully, they don’t always go up all the way and that’s okay – more room for the pumpkin.
  5. With the pumpkin mixture almost cooled, whip the egg whites until firm then fold them gently into the pumpkin mixture.
  6. Fill the cupcake tins to the top and bake 12 – 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  They will puff up like a soufflĂŠ immediately after cooking and then will drop after a while, but still taste yummy!
  7. Top with a dollop of whipped cream

*They can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Pickled Veggies

Pickled Veggies

If there is one thing that can satisfy the cub, it’s pickles! She loves sour foods like lemons, limes and capers. As with anything, making it at home lets you control how much salt and sugar is added to the recipe. I prefer these over store-bought any day!

Parents, they are also the perfect addition to a cheese board at your next holiday gathering!

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Not all mornings start with a smile. It took a little time to warm up to cooking on this particular morning. The cub started by helping us chop up the veggies using her Little Chef knife.

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In goes the Apple Cider Vinegar. Did you know that Apple Cider Vinegar can help acid reflux, lower blood pressure, improve diabetes and support weight loss. The benefits of apple cider vinegar come from its powerful healing compounds, which include acetic acid, potassium, magnesium, probiotics and enzymes. We’ll take it!

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While measuring out ingredients, the cub discovered her measuring tool made music. She made lots of music.

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After all the ingredients went in for the base, the cub got a good sniff. She approved.

Next, the base went on the stove to cook for 3 -5 mins just until salt and sugar dissolved

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While the base heated, we added our cut raw veggies to the jars. You can add them in any order you would like.

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Grandma DiDi helps finish off the jars. Aren’t they pretty.

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In goes the base. Make sure it covers the vegetables. Take the lid and screw it on really tights. Pop them in the fridge and let them sit for 24 hours before enjoying.

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The most delicious addition to any sandwich, burger, charcuterie board, or just set out as an appetizer. Just in time for all your fall gatherings.  Oh, and the cub loves them!

Refrigerated Pickled Veggies

Ingredients

  • Vegetables of choice, chopped to bite size pieces (carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, green beans, etc.)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp (or less) sugar
  • 1  Tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 clove garlic (per jar)
  • dill sprigs for each jar
  • Optional – jalepeno slices

Directions
Makes 2 pint jars

  1. Prepare jars by washing thoroughly. Although, it is not required to sterilize jars it is highly recommended. Put clean jars and lids into large pan of water and bring to boil. Boil for 3 – 5 minutes and keep at simmer until ready to fill.
  2. Put vinegar, water, salt and sugar in saucepan and bring to boil and simmer until sugar dissolved. About 5 minutes.
  3. Have all vegetables washed, scrubbed and prepped. Cut vegetables into the size and shape you prefer.  Place peeled garlic clove into each jar and sprig of dill.  Divide mustard seeds into each jar.  
  4. Compress vegetables tightly into each jar.  They will shrink in size while pickling.
  5. Poor hot liquid into each jar and seal with lids. Allow to cool on counter.  Then refrigerate. Allow 24 hours before eating.
  6. Pickles will last about 2 weeks in refrigerator

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cookies

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cookies

Hello pumpkin season and my favorite time of year! To get in the spirit of the season, we decided to make some delicious pumpkin cookies.

*Warning, these are full of all the delicious ingredients that make cookies so good. Nothing gluten-free, sugar-free, butter free about these bad boys. Because a real cookie should be enjoyed once and awhile! Cookie1

Cooking should always be fun. The cub quickly discovered her reflection in the mixing bowl. A silly conversation ensued.  In the background you can see Grandma DiDi browning the butter over the stove.

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Grandma DiDi and the cub worked to add all the dry ingredients to the bowl. The cub helped stir while each one was added.

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Forget the spoon. Textures are fascinating to toddlers and they learn more by using their hands. The cub rubbed her hands in the flour, lifting it up and watching it fall through her fingers.

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In goes the cinnamon, but first, stop and smell it.

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Yum, that pumpkin pie spice smells delicious (and like my favorite season)!

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After deciding it was time to take her hair down, we were back to finishing the cookies. We mixed the wet ingredients and added raisins for flavor and texture.

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With curiosity, she watched Grandma Didi add all the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  We decided to also add a delicious new find from Trader Joe’s to this recipe.   Pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds.

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Time to scoop them onto the cookie sheet. The cub enjoyed using the ice cream scooper to plop the dough on the cookie sheet.

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These smell as good as they look. The cub thoroughly enjoyed her treat and we were so thrilled to introduce her to a pumpkin cookies. Something we will be enjoying for years to come! Note – This recipe was adapted from sallysbakingaddiction.com

 

 

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cookies

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (170g) old-fashioned whole rolled oats
  • 1 and 2/3 (208g) cup whole wheat flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice1
  • 3/4 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (228g) pumpkin puree ( not pumpkin pie filling and not the whole can) see note at bottom
  • Optional:   golden raisins and pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds(or plain)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  1. Brown the butter: Slice the butter up into pieces and place in a light-colored skillet. (Light colored helps you determine when the butter begins browning.) Melt the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Keep stirring occasionally. After 5-8 minutes, the butter will begin browning– you’ll notice lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan and it will have a nutty aroma. See photo above for a visual. Once browned, remove from heat immediately and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the oats, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together in a medium bowl.
  3. Pour the slightly cooled brown butter into a large bowl. Whisk in the granulated sugar and brown sugar until combined. Whisk in the egg yolk and vanilla extract until combined, then whisk in the blotted pumpkin (see note about blotting). Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be thick and sticky.
  4. Add optional ingredients at this time if you choose.
  5. Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop cookie dough into balls (about 2 heaping Tbsp of dough each) and place 3 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Slightly flatten the balls out as the cookies won’t spread much unless you help out first!
  6. Top with more pumpkin seeds
  7. Bake for 14-15 minutes or until lightly browned and set on the edges.    Cool and store in airtight container in refrigerator or freeze.

NOTE:   For chewier cookies blot the pumpkin in a paper towel lined strainer or bowl and let it sit for 1/2 hour or squeeze it so it becomes drier.