One-Year Blogiversary!

Happy Birthday/Blogiversary to my blog! One year ago today I did my first blog post, about a food I don’t even like (beets, blech), and with a picture that was horrible. What was I thinking? Good question. Since then, I have only posted foods that I love and have (hopefully) gotten a little better with the camera.

In honor of one year, I have a delicious fall treat for you: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars! So good. Of course, I found them on Pinterest (original recipe here). I was thinking they would be more like a cookie bar, but they turned out much more cake-y. Still, they were moist (sorry, but they were), flavorful, and delicious!

Seriously Yum

Best of all, I had pureed pumpkin in my freezer from a pumpkin I roasted last fall, and I finally got to use it up. OK, on second thought, maybe that’s not best of all. Best of all was savoring these delicious chocolate-y pumpkin-y bars.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
2 cups flour (I like to use white-whole-wheat flour)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp coarse salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar (I used roughly half white sugar and half brown sugar)
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13×9 pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang over the handles. This is what the original recipe’s instructions call for, but I’m sure you could also just grease the pan and that would be fine.

Whisk together the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Beat in the pumpkin puree. It’s going to look curdled, but don’t worry about it.

Now add the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spread your batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (or use a knife because you never have toothpicks).

Cool completely in the pan. If you’ve used aluminum foil, once they are cool, you can use that to help lift them out of the pan. Otherwise just cut them into 18 squares. One square = 9 PointsPlus. (I know, I know. Eat it anyway. What else are those extra points in the week for?)

Put these out on your table when you have friends over, and they will not live to see tomorrow. The bars, that is. Not your friends. Although, I could see why you would want to kill your friends if they ate all of them.

Now, what are you going to do with that leftover pumpkin puree? I had half a cup left over, but if you use canned pumpkin for your bars, you’ll probably have about a cup left. This morning I had the brilliant idea to mix it into my oatmeal! I don’t have an exact recipe, per se, just some rough guidelines. But it was really good.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Oatmeal, prepared for two or four
Apple Cider (optional)
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Brown Sugar
Almond Milk
Pumpkin puree

Prepare your oatmeal as usual. When it’s almost done, turn the heat down to low. Mix in 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (for two. If you want oatmeal for four, add 1 cup of pumpkin). Mix in about a tablespoon of apple cider, a few good sprinkles of pumpkin pie spice, a few tablespoons of brown sugar, and a tablespoon of almond milk. (My favorite almond milk flavor is unsweetened vanilla.) Obviously, taste and add more of anything if necessary. Even though cinnamon is part of the pumpkin pie spice, I added a little more cinnamon on top of that.

Enjoy with a glass of apple cider. Yay fall!


Rainy Day Bread

The fact that I haven’t yet posted any dessert-type recipes on here is exceptionally misleading. I love dessert. I love licking the batter off the spoon. I love the smell of whatever it is baking in the oven. I guess I do more cooking  because I feel like it’s harder to mess up. For instance, I made cupcakes from scratch for the first time a few months ago, and I had to throw away the entire first batch. They were a disaster. It took me awhile to get them right. Sometimes you need to be really precise in baking, and do things in a very particular way. I like cooking because you can experiment with different ingredients and flavors, and chances are you won’t mess it up too badly.

One dessert-y thing that I love, and is not too difficult to make, is pumpkin bread. OK, so I don’t know if you can classify something you can eat for breakfast as dessert. (Am I the only one who eats it for breakfast?) But whatever. It is sweet and delicious, (and easier than cupcakes). I had a couple cans of pumpkin in my cabinet, and clearly, fall is the perfect time to be eating pumpkin-flavored things! Last year my friend gave me the most delicious recipe for pumpkin bread made with pumpkin beer, and oh my gosh, it is SO good. I hate the word moist, but this bread is just that. I can’t get enough of it. Perfectly moist (ugh), perfectly flavored, sweet with a little spice, slightly crispy exterior. YUM! Luckily, this recipe makes about 3 loaves, so there is plenty to go around.

This whole week has been cloudy, rainy, and chilly. Perfect for doing a little bit of baking. There’s nothing better on a rainy fall afternoon than cozying up with a blanket and a slice of warm pumpkin bread.

Pumpkin Ale Bread
Puree (make first):

15 oz. can pumpkin
2/3 cup sugar
1 12 oz. bottle pumpkin ale (I used Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale)
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Combine all puree ingredients and stir slowly (because the beer makes everything fizz out of control). Set aside until ready to use. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup puree that you made above
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Combine sugar & oil with electric mixer. Slowly add eggs. Stop mixer and add 1 cup of the puree you just made. Turn mixer to low-medium speed and leave it running for 4-5 min. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Stop mixer and add dry ingredients. Mix for 1 minute at low speed or until ingredients are mixed & smooth. Pour mixture into 9 x 5 well-greased loaf pan, leaving room to rise. Bake at 350° for about an hour (usually more like 65-70 min.), or until knife comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 min, then out of pan on wire rack. Once cooled, dust with powdered sugar, and devour enjoy responsibly.

The puree mix is enough for 3+ loaves, so you will have about 2 cups left over after you make one loaf. If you make all 3 loaves, you will still have about 1/2 cup of the puree left. This was annoying to me, because I didn’t want to just throw it away. So I just estimated the amount I would need to make a little bit more puree to get one more loaf out of it. I added about 1/4 bottle of beer (drink the rest!), 1/4 can of pumpkin, 1/6 cup of sugar and 1/4 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice. Hurray! One more loaf of this delicious bread! If you are like me and absolutely do not need 4 loaves of mouth-watering, diet-breaking goodness sitting in the kitchen tempting you, keep one and give the rest away to friends. They’ll love it and your waist will love you.