Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Original Recipe HERE

These cookies were a great autumnal treat.  I would've eaten them all (with *N* gladly offering to assist) if I hadn't sent them to work with Husband.  He emailed me a few hours into the day to say they were a hit and that the recipe had been requested.

One thing to keep in mind when baking these is that they may not look or feel done - the tops will be very soft.  But watch for browning on the bottoms.  The end result is a very lightly-textured, "airy" cookie that means can easily find yourself consuming mass quantities because they aren't dense, fill-you-up-type treats.

1/2 cup butter, softened [or margarine or shortening]
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice [can be substituted with nutmeg and cloves]
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray.
2) In stand mixer or using a mixing bowl with electric mixer, combine butter, brown sugar, eggs and pumpkin until smooth.
3) In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pie spice, and salt.
4) Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix on low until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.
5) Spoon batter onto greased cookie sheets in tablespoon-size drops. Bake 9-11 minutes. Remove from sheets and let cool on cooling rack.

Notes: None.

Kid Participation:
* Measure wet ingredients
* Crack eggs
* Measure dry ingredients
* Whisk dry ingredients
* Spoon dough onto baking sheet (likely resulting in dough smeared all over the sheet and a burned-cookie smell from your oven)

Southwestern Black Bean Salad

Original Recipe HERE

I picked this as a last-minute addition to dinner because I needed a side dish.  It turned out to be tastier than the entree.  This was enthusiastically gobbled up by my husband, my 3-year old, and my 1-year old.  Since I was in a rush, I added the avocado along with everything else and didn't have time to refrigerate it for 30 minutes.  It still tasted great, and it was even better the next day after the dressing had had time to really permeate the vegetables.  See helpful information on how to cut an avocado without making a massacre of it here.

This is similar to my standard homemade salsa recipe: same ingredients as well as finely chopped mango and a few spoonfuls of store-bought pineapple or peach salsa, as well as some minced jalapeno and garlic if I want it spicy.

1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
9 oz frozen corn, thawed
1 tomato, chopped
1 small hass avocado, diced
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 scallion, chopped
3 Tbsps lime juice [or juice of one lime]
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp cilantro [optional]
salt and pepper

1) Combine beans, corn, tomato, onion, scallion, cilantro, salt and pepper in metal or ceramic bowl.
2) In separate bowl, whisk together lime juice, vinegar, olive oil, and sugar.
3) Add dressing to vegetables.  Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes. Add avocado before serving.

Notes: None.

Kid Participation: Just mixing everything together.


Flavorful Basic Tomato Sauce

Original Recipe HERE

I made this primarily for the chicken tenders, since I'm always on the hunt for the "perfect chicken tenders" recipe.  Homemade ones are obviously better than frozen, breaded, preservative-laden ones, and they're a staple in most households with little kids (though I'm surprised at how take-'em-or-leave-'em mine are).  They turned out fine, though they didn't blow my mind - next time I'll try panko.  But the sauce was killer...a very "vibrant" and concentrated flavor.  It was used for dipping, as the recipe suggested, but I think it would be a great straight-up sauce when served with pasta (which can be pretty boring if you have nothing else added to your noodles).  So "the secret's in the sauce," as they say.  I envision making this with a kid-friendly pasta shape (my latest favorite is ruffles), meatballs, and garlic bread (cut into strips for dipping fun).

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

1) Heat olive oil in medium pot over medium-high heat. Sauté onions, stirring often, until translucent (about 3 minutes).
2) Add garlic and cook another minute.
3) Add tomato paste.  Mix well and cook 1-2 minutes more.
4) Add tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes if using tomato sauce or 10 minutes if using crushed tomatoes.
5) Use an immersion blender, or put sauce into blender, and purée until smooth.  Sauce will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Notes: Maybe adding some spices - dried or fresh - to add more "flavor layers."  It could be turned into a cream sauce with the addition of 1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream.

Kid Participation:  None.


Apple Crimble

I don't know if this dish is technically a "crisp" or a "crumble."  So for now, I'm dubbing it a "crimble" until I can research further.

I came across a baked apple recipe that was super easy.  I thought I bookmarked it, but when I went back to make it that night, it was nowhere to be found.  Luckily I remembered how to make it, so I did.  It was really good.  But it involved halving apples, scooping out the seeds, and baking in the skin.  It got the pan messy with the juice the apples released, some halves fell apart, and the topping came off in one big piece.  So I tweaked it to be easier to both prepare and eat. 

Below is listed how to make a good-sized crimble for an individual.  The amounts are easily adjusted depending on how many apples you're using and how big you want the servings to be (and if you want to double the topping but keep the apple portion the same...).  This could be tweaked a bit, like using wheat flour instead of white and adding nuts. The type of apple used, and whether it's peeled, is variable as well.

1 large or 2 small apples
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
4 Tablespoons quick-cook [or old-fashioned] oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon [or to taste]

(1) Preheat over to 350 degrees F.
(2) Peel each apple and cut into 8 slices.  Toss with cinnamon if desired.  Place slices in a 2-cup ramekin.
(3) In bowl big enough to hold all additional ingredients, melt butter in microwave.  Add flour, sugar, oats, and cinnamon [if not already used] and combine well.
(4) Spread topping over apple slices.  Bake 25 minutes, or until topping crisps (but does not brown) and apples are easily pierced with a fork.  Serve with whipped cream or Cool Whip.

Kid Participation:
* Arrange apple slices in ramekin
* Mix ingredients into butter
* Spread topping onto apple slices