White Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies

Cookies

White Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies

Adapted from a website

 If you haven’t tried these cookies, I know what you must be thinking. Pumpkin? With white chocolate? Gross! That’s what I thought when my mom came back from New York, saying she had tried these delicious cookies at Mrs. Fields and wanted to make them. Believe me, these cookies blew me a way. They are fantastic and a perfect autumn treat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1½ cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 10 oz white chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300F (148C).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, allspice and baking soda.
  3. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in the pumpkin. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Finally, gradually beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Don’t over mix.
  4. Stir in the white chocolate chips with a spatula.
  5. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until just set.
The Unbaked Cookies

The Unbaked Cookies

 

Comments: These cookies are truly spectacular. Only last year I wanted to bring in something fall-y for a Culinary Club meeting and decided to make these. Everyone loved them. One of my friends even became addicted to them. I obviously had to make them again. The soft, cake-like consistency of these cookies is to die for. I’m sure they will not disappoint you. It is very important to drop the cookie dough with space on the cookie sheet because they grow a lot. The cookie sheet doesn’t need to be greased because the cookies are super moist. The recipe says that it makes 18 servings but I got about 44 cookies. Enjoy and try not to eat them all at once!

The Baked Cookies They really do grow!

The Baked Cookies
They really do grow!

 

 

 

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Turkey-Feta Phyllo Bake

Poultry

Turkey-Feta Phyllo Bake II

Adapted from Betty Crocker’s Fall Baking

Here is another great dinner that has a touch of Greek-ness to it, and I love Greek food. The turkey, feta cheese and pine nuts go extremely well together in this satisfying dish. Another great thing about this pie-like course is that it includes all food groups!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 lb lean ground turkey
  • 9 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 cups (8 oz) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 5 sheets frozen phyllo pastry (14×9 inch), thawed
  • Cooking spray

Turkey-Feta Phyllo Bake

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F (204C). Grease a 13×9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Cook the onion in the butter for 5 minutes until it is tender, stirring occasionally. Add the turkey and cook for 8 to 9 more minutes or until the turkey is no longer pink. Add the spinach and garam masala, stirring until blended. Cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the cheese, pine nuts, salt and egg into the turkey mixture until well blended. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish.
  4. Unroll the phyllo pastry sheets and cover them with plastic wrap or a towel. Place 1 phyllo sheet on top of the turkey mixture and spray it with the cooking spray. Repeat this process with the remaining 4 phyllo sheets and spray the top one. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the phyllo is crisp and golden brown.

 

Comments: This is a very easy recipe and it does not take too much time to make. This is best eaten fresh out of the oven. Though you can refrigerate any leftovers and eat them the next day, the phyllo will be a bit soggy (I don’t really mind it). My next suggestion applies to the cheese. In the U.S. at least, I have not been very successful at finding very good feta cheese. The real, Greek one is made with goat’s milk and it makes a huge difference on the flavor. Where I live, I have only been able to find 1 or 2 places that sell feta cheese made with goat’s milk. If at all possible, please don’t use cheese made with cow’s milk.

Turkey-Feta Phyllo Bake pedazo

Meat and Potato Pies

Beef

Meat and Potato Pies

Adapted from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz

Pies are always good. Everyone likes them. I had always been curious but the classic savory British pies. I also wanted to try them before I went back to the UK so that I could compare. I was not at all disappointed with them.

Pie Crust

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 tbsp butter, chilled and diced
  • 8 tbsp vegetable shortening, chilled and diced
  • ½-3/4 cup cold water

Directions:

  1. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.
  2. Scatter the pieces of butter and shortening over the flour mixture. Pulse about 15 times until the mixture resembles coarse yellow meal and no white powdery bits remain.
  3. Turn the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle ½ cup water over the mixture and toss with a rubber spatula until the dough sticks together. If the dough is dry, add more water by the tablespoonful.
  4. Divide the dough in half, form into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Meat and Potato Filling

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 6 oz chuck steak or beef for stew, diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 1 medium red-skinned potato, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • ¼ tsp ground sage
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a deep pot. Add the meat and sear on both sides until crusty brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add the onions to the pot and sauté until well browned. Return the meat to the pot, sprinkle the flour over and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.
  3. Slowly pour in the chicken broth while stirring. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 ½ hours.
  4. Add the chopped potato and carrot, sage, salt and pepper and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to another bowl and cool to room temperature.

My Meat and Potato Pie

Making the Pies

Ingredients:

Pie crust (recipe above)

Meat and potato filling (recipe above)

Water

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (176C).
  2. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator. On a generously floured surface, roll out one of the disks very thin. Use a 6-inch saucer, mug or cookie cutter to cut out six circles. Fit the circles into a 6-cup muffin pan, leaving the overhang. Fill generously with the meat and potato filling.
  3. Roll out the second disk of dough. Use a 4-inch cup or cookie cutter to cut out six circles. Brush the overhanging dough with water and lay the circles over the filling. For each pie, fold the overhang over the top dough circle and press with your fingers to seal. Cut slits in the top of each pie to form vents.
  4. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, rotating the pan halfway through the baking.

 

Comments: These pies do take a while to make but they are very much worth it. They are cute, yummy and perfect individual portions. When cooking the filling, I highly recommend keeping a constant watch over it; for stew-like dishes, I always constantly check on the meat mixture to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot or dries up. I definitely cooked the filling for a shorter period of time.

Meat and Potato Pie abierto

Tomato-Basil Lasagna Rolls

Lasagna, Vegetarian

Tomato-Basil Lasagna Rolls

 

Adapted from Southern Living Vol.48 No.10

I love lasagna and recently I have become a bit obsessed with it. These rolls, are creamy, cheesy and so good. This is a lighter option compared to the traditional meat lasagna. Never the less, it is a very hearty dish.

Ingredients:

  • 10 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tsp cooking oil
  • 1 (24-oz) jar of tomato-and-basil pasta sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 14 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup torn fresh basil
  • 1 oz Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (177C).
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Drain the pasta (do not rinse). Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a piece of greased aluminum foil or wax paper.
  3. Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan. Sauté the onions in the hot oil over medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes until caramelized. Stir in the tomato sauce, sugar and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir together the ricotta and cream cheese until smooth. Stir in the spinach, egg white, basil and Parmesan cheese.
  5. Spread ¼ cup of the cheese mixture on 1 noodle. Roll up firmly and place, seam side down, into a greased 13×9-inch baking dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and cheese mixture. Spoon the tomato sauce over the lasagna rolls.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes until thoroughly heated and bubbly. Let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with some more basil and Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Comments: These are a lovely twist on the classical lasagna. The little rolls are adorable and make perfect individual servings. Making these might be a good idea for a dinner party, for example, because you don’t have to cut up a lasagna which may be a messy business. Personally, I am simply a sucker when it comes to spinach and ricotta lasagna.

Lemon Bar Cheesecake

Cakes

Lemon Bar Cheesecake

Adapted from Southern Living Vol. 48 No.2

 Doesn’t it look amazing? It is amazing and so much more. The shortbread crust with the creamy cheesecake filling and the gooey lemon curd…the perfect blend of sweetness and tartness. I made this cake for my mom’s birthday last year because 1) it looks amazing, and 2) she loves lemony things. Note: you have to start one day in advance.

The Crust

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup cold butter, cubed
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 to 2 tbsp ice-cold water

Directions:

  1. Pulse the first 3 ingredients in a food processor 3 or 4 times until just blended.
  2. Add the butter and pulse about 6 more times until crumbly.
  3. Whisk together the egg yolks and 1 tablespoon of the ice water in a small bowl. Add it to the butter mixture and process until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add up to 1 tablespoon of the remaining ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if necessary.
  4. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill 4 to 24 hours.
  5. Roll out the chilled dough into a 14-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Fit the dough into a greased 9-inch dark springform pan, gently pressing on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim and discard the excess dough. Chill for 30 minutes.

The Cheesecake Filling

Ingredients:

  • 4 8-oz packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Beat the cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until smooth.
  2. Gradually add the sugar, beating until blended.
  3. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

The Lemon Curd

(very easy and cooked in the microwave!)

Ingredients:

  • 6 lemons
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs

Directions:

  1. Grate the zest from the lemons to equal 2 tablespoons. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup to equal 1 cup.
  2. Beat the butter and the sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Gradually add the lemon juice to the butter mixture, beating at low speed until just blended after each addition. Stir in the zest. Transfer the mixture to a 3-quart microwave-safe bowl.
  3. Microwave at high for 5 minutes, stirring at 1-minute intervals. Microwave, stirring at 30-second intervals, 1 to 2 more minutes or until the mixture thickens, coats the back of a spoon and starts to mound slightly when stirred.
  4. Place plastic wrap directly on the warm curd to prevent a film from forming. Chill for 4 hours or until firm. Stir in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Lemon Bar Cheesecake 2

Assembling the Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • Crust (recipe above)
  • Cheesecake filling (recipe above)
  • Lemon curd (recipe above)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F (163C).
  2. Pour two-thirds of the cheesecake filling (about 4 cups) into the prepared crust. Dollop 1 cup of the lemon curd (about half) over the cheesecake filling in the pan and gently swirl with a knife. Spoon the remaining cheesecake filling into the pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes until the center is just set. Turn the oven off. Let the cheesecake stand in the oven, with the door closed, for 15 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and gently run a knife around the outer edge of the cheesecake to loosen from the sides of the pan. Do not remove the sides of the pan yet. Let it cool completely in the pan (about 1 hour). Cover and chill for 8 to 24 hours.
  4. Remove the sides of the pan and transfer the cheesecake to a serving platter. Spoon the remaining cup of lemon curd over the cheesecake and top, if desired with candied lemon slices (recipe below)

Candied Lemon Slices

Ingredients:

  • 2 small lemons
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup water

Directions:

  1. Cut the lemons into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Discard the seeds.
  2. Stir together the sugar, lemon juice and water in a large skillet over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon slices and simmer gently for 14 to 16 minutes until slightly translucent and rinds are softened. Keep the slices in a single layer and turn them occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and, using tongs, place the slices in a single layer in a wax paper-lined jellyroll pan. Cool completely (about 1 hour).
  4. Cover and chill for 2 hours to 2 days.

 

Comments: My mom was extremely happy with her birthday cake. When our extended family saw the pictures, they were all very jealous. It is the perfect combination of lemon bars and cheesecake in one. The lemon curd, usually a long process, is very easy to make and completely foolproof. I made the cheesecake the day before and just topped it with the remaining lemon curd before serving. Indulge!

Yummy, gooey-ness!

Yummy, gooey-ness!