Friday, November 28, 2014

Mexican hot chocolate cookies

I suppose my favorite time of the year is now over with the end of fall and the celebration of Thanksgiving yesterday. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving; ours was a small gathering this year, but it was full of love and good food! Now it's time to turn all my pumpkins into puree and bring out the Christmas tree. 

Christmas is my second favorite time of the year and it means that it is now the season of cookies! That's a season I can get behind. Actually, I love a lot of things about the Christmas season - snow, lighted homes, carols, eggnog, Christmas trees... I just don't love the creeping of Christmas earlier and earlier each year and the focus on gifts and spending tons of money. This year I was at a store in early October glancing through some Halloween goodies and they were already putting up Christmas decorations in the last aisle of seasonal items. You can't turn on the television without being bombarded with Christmas commercials for buying gifts - starting as earlier as the beginning of November now (we actually saw some the week of Halloween). I'm a big fan of seasons and enjoying each time of year for what it is - not rushing to the next one. So this year I'm going to try to have a simple holiday season. It will still contain a plethora of homemade holiday treats as I love to give them for gifts and have them for gatherings. 

These cookies aren't a traditional Christmas cookie and can be made anytime of the year, but I like their hint of spiciness in the cold weather. If you've ever had a cup of Mexican hot chocolate, you know what I'm talking about - chocolaty, slightly sweet, with a bit of cinnamon and a touch of cayenne pepper - not enough to make them hot, but just enough to give them a touch of warmth. They are similar to these Mexican brownies that we love. This recipe will make about 30 cookies.

Mexican hot chocolate cookies
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
heaped 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, divided 
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt. Set aside. 

In a small pot, heat the butter and 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips over medium-low heat, whisking often until melted and combined (alternatively you can melt them together in a microwave). Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, and vanilla until well-combined. Whisk in the chocolate-butter mixture. Stir in the flour mixture until combined and then fold in the remaining chocolate chips. 

Scoop the cookies a tablespoon at a time onto the baking sheets placing them one-inch apart from one another. Bake for about 9-11 minutes, or until the bottoms and edges are beginning to turn golden. Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking sheet for another minute. Then remove to a wire rack to cool. Repeat until all the dough is used.

What was I cooking one year ago?: persimmon cranberry sauce 
Two years ago?: Old-fashioned pumpkin pie
Three?: slow cooker chili macaroni
4?: turkey Waldorf salad pitas

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pumpkin spice granola

Granola is a staple in our household, though usually it's in bar form (I need to update that recipe as I've made many changes over the years, especially in reducing the sugar). We make granola bars almost every Sunday for our weekday breakfast. Every once in a while though, I crave granola cereal with cool creamy milk. It's usually happens around this time of year when there's pumpkin puree around because that's how I almost always make it. I love granola that is full of spices. It fills your home with wonderful aroma as it bakes. You can eat this granola just as is, but I like to eat it as cereal or with plain yogurt. I wanted to have it around for Thanksgiving week for quick, nutritious breakfasts that make me think fall! Plus, it's a perfect recipe for Week 4 of 12 Weeks of Winter Squash!

On a side note, it seems that the manual focus is working better on my camera, so I'm getting decent photos again now (autofocus is still toast). I love the little pitcher in this photo. My Grandmother made it and the matching plates in her ceramics class!

Pumpkin spice granola
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup real maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl whisk together the pumpkin through allspice until well-combined. Stir in the oats, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and coconut until the are thoroughly covered.

Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. It is ready when it is golden and has turned crunchy. 

Let the granola cool and stir in the cranberries. Store in an airtight container.

What was I cooking one year ago?: creamy jalapeno & chicken spaghetti squash bake
Two years ago?: maple pecan pie
Three?: ginger-clementine cranberry sauce
4?: sour cream & onion dip

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Apple-cheddar-thyme quick bread

I'll be starting all my posts off now with the bad photo apology as I'm still dealing with camera issues.... But, I couldn't let the opportunity to post this bread recipe during apple season slip by - this quick bread is too delicious to not share. It's like a slice of autumn. I've been making it to serve along side of soups like cream of cauliflower and split pea now that it is getting cold here. This bread has a lovely sweet and savory flavor combination with pretty flecks of apple and thyme throughout the loaf and in each slice. It creates a wonderful fall aroma in your home while it bakes. My ten-year old cousin and my mom loved it when we had them over for dinner recently. I think it would be a great Thanksgiving dinner bread as the flavors compliment turkey and fall vegetables very nicely. 

I adapted this recipe from this one over at Gimme Some Oven. This recipe will make one 9" loaf of quick bread. 

Apple-cheddar-thyme quick bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1 cup lightly packed unpeeled grated apple (preferably a sweet variety)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly butter the loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. 

Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs and milk. Use a wooden spoon to mix in the flour mixture until almost combined and then stir in the apple, cheddar, and thyme until just combined.

Spread the batter into the loaf pan in an even layer. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until it is lightly golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the bread cool before slicing, but the bread is best served still slightly warm.

What was I cooking one year ago?: pumpkin gingerbread cookies
Two years ago?: smoked paprika & maple glazed delicata squash
Three?: ginger-clementine cranberry sauce
4?: Tex-Mex turkey-stuffed baked winter squash

Monday, November 17, 2014

Butternut squash and cranberry pancakes

Well... I'm having a camera dilemma, folks. I've just started taking a photography class and, of course, my autofocus decided to stop working after the first week of class. Not only that, but my manual focus isn't working so well either. It really stinks because I'm not going to be able to finish the class unless I go buy a new camera right away. Also, I'm not going to be able to take photos for the blog unless I buy a new camera or continue to spend tons of time to get an OK shot like the one above. I took it to a camera place and had my photography teacher look at it and was told that I would need to send it in to get fixed and it would take 4-6 weeks... boo... I had it cleaned and it didn't help. So, I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet. Any suggestions? The camera (Cannon T3i Rebel) is not quite 3 years old. But, anyways, I'm trying my best to take advantage of the class and get as decent of photos as I can for now. I'm looking forward to being able to do more with my camera once it's fixed or I have a new one. 

On a happier note, I made some very delicious seasonal butternut squash and cranberry pancakes for Week 3 of 12 Weeks of Winter Squash. These pancakes are a modification of my pumpkin pancake recipe (ugh - talk about bad photos). I think these would be a great Thanksgiving morning or day after Thanksgiving breakfast - they are lightly spiced, a little sweet from the butternut squash (but no added sugar), and little bursts of tart/sour from the cranberries which all pairs nicely with a sweet maple syrup drizzle.

Butternut squash and cranberry pancakes
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup cooked butternut squash puree
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
about 3/4 cup frozen or fresh cranberries
butter, for cooking
real maple syrup, for serving

Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through nutmeg) in a medium bowl. 

Whisk together the wet ingredients (buttermilk through vanilla) in a large bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.

Heat a griddle or castiron skillet until warm. Lightly grease with butter. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto the skillet for each pancake. Drop about 6-8 cranberries onto each pancake. Flip the pancakes when they are golden and begin to bubble on the top. Cook until the second side is golden. Repeat until all the batter is used.

Serve hot with a drizzle of real maple syrup. 

What was I cooking one year ago?: Chorizo & black bean stuffed delicata squash boats
Two years ago?: turnip & Yukon gold potato gratin
Three?: pumpkin gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce
4?: Moroccan spiced chickpea & lentil soup

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Turmeric and honey roasted chickpeas {and an Organic Turmeric giveaway}

I love turmeric, so I was very excited to see that Flavor of the Earth (who I partnered with before when trying out their real Ceylon cinnamon - this is now the only ground cinnamon I use) now sells organic turmeric. I love their cinnamon, so I was super excited to try the turmeric. I use this spice a lot in Indian dishes like Saag Paneer and Chana masala, and one of our favorite cold-weather drinks, spiced turmeric milk. We also use it to make these colorful and delicious turnip pickles. As I've mentioned before, we have tried to incorporate more turmeric into our diet for its health benefits. This turmeric is so fragrant, colorful, and flavorful. You can really smell and taste the freshness of the turmeric.

Roasted chickpeas have been on my to-make list for quite sometime now. I thought the turmeric would go perfectly with them and I was correct. These little chickpeas are nutty, sweet, salty, and have a bit of spice - not to mention the lovely color they pick up from the turmeric (as always, be careful when using turmeric as it will stain). They make a great snack or appetizer before an Indian meal. We ate them with this Chicken & Apple Indian curry.

Turmeric and honey roasted chickpeas
1 can (15.5 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 heaped teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
dash of cayenne pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons honey
sea salt, for sprinkling

After you have drained and rinsed the chickpeas, set them on a plate lined with paper towels to dry for about 45 minutes. Give them a stir about halfway through the time to help them dry thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Gently stir together all the ingredients except the salt in a bowl until combined and the chickpeas are well-coated. Pour them onto the baking sheet and spread them out in an even layer.

Roast on the bottom rack of the oven for about 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. They are done when they turn golden and fragrant. Sprinkle them with sea salt to taste.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Here is some information provided from Flavor of the Earth about their company and their organic turmeric: Flavor Of The Earth is on a mission to provide only the freshest, most flavorful spices that also have positive health benefits for the user.  We only source our product from the best growers, usually small growers, to ensure proper care and growing of the product.  Then, we always fresh grind our Turmeric in very small "gourmet size" batches and immediately pack it in our Flavor Pouch.  This ensures that we capture the best flavor, the most nutritional benefits and the maximum health benefits of the product.  We often run out of product available for sale due to this reason.  But, we would rather this than have a large quantity of mediocre, stale product sitting on a shelf like most sellers of Turmeric. 
  • 100% USDA Certified Organic
  • Freshly Ground In Very Small Batches To Ensure Maximum Freshness, Taste and Strength
  • Our Ultra Pure Organic Turmeric Root Powder is high in anti-oxidants and is 18 times stronger in essential ingredients than is common turmeric
  • No chemicals, pesticides, preservatives used. Salt free, Dye Free, All Natural
  • Our special Flavor Pouch does not impart a plastic taste like a plastic jar would
Flavor Of The Earth Organic Turmeric (Curcumin) is Ultra-Pure and freshly ground from the root in very small batches. It's grown on a small farm in India by people who care about natural farming. Then, after waiting a full 9 months for it to mature, it's hand harvested in the morning, right after the dew has dissipated. This ensures you get only the best in purity, effectiveness and flavor.

Now for the giveaway! 
Flavor of the Earth is providing a 1 pound pouch of organic turmeric to one lucky reader! To enter, please follow the directions below. For each entry, please leave a separate comment on this blog post.

1) Visit Flavor of the Earth's Amazon page to read about their organic turmeric. Then leave a comment on this post letting me know what you would make with the turmeric. 
2) Like Savory Moment's Facebook page and leave a comment letting me know. 
3) Follow Savory Moment's on Pinterest and leave a comment letting me know.
4) Share this post on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know.
5) Pin this post on Pinterest and leave a comment letting me know.

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you to Flavor of the Earth and to everyone who participated!

The winner will be chosen using a random number generator and will be notified via email (please ensure your comment/profile has a valid email address). The giveaway is open to residents of the continental U.S. only. 

Disclosure: Flavor of the Earth provided me with the turmeric; however, as always, all opinions are my own.

What was I cooking one year ago?: Chana masala 
Two years ago?: kabocha squash & ricotta pierogi 
Three?: orange & honey roasted rutabaga 
4?: cider-braised short ribs