The season of orange!!

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The color orange.  It’s everywhere!  The trees, flowers, those large gourds on our porches! And this will continue through Thanksgiving!

With Halloween fast approaching, I thought I would re-post one of our family’s favorite fall cookies; it’s orange too–Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

These cookies are easy to make and travel well, no matter what your celebrations involve during the busy fall holiday season.  I have mailed these cookies to my kids living far away and they arrive in good shape! I have transported them many hours to give as a birthday gift.  They also freeze beautifully.

Most importantly, theses cookies might convince your children to give away some of the “loot” they will collect while trick-or-treating!

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup shortening

1 and 1/2 cups sugar

1 egg

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 and 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

6 ounces chocolate chips

In an electric mixer, combine the butter and shortening together until creamy; add the sugar and mix until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, stir together with a fork to incorporate everything well.   Slowly mix the dry ingredients alternately with the pumpkin, first some of the flour mix, then some pumpkin, etc. until all is combined well.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Scoop onto a buttered baking sheet,  about 3 inches apart.

Bake at 350 degrees about 10 to 12 minutes.

Cookbook Book Club

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Almost everyone I know is part of a book club.  But I am a member of the “Cookbook Book Club.”  This was a new concept to me last fall when a friend invited women to join a book club featuring our favorite cookbooks.  What a great idea. We meet whenever we can coordinate our schedules.

A month before we have our meeting (which, coincidentally, rhymes with EATING), someone in the group is asked to choose a cookbook they are interested in/have used before/want to try recipes from/new on the market and can’t wait to find out if the recipes are all they are promised to be….

Then, a google doc is sent out so members can sign up for a recipe from that cookbook.  Many of the recipes can be found on line. Many of the cookbooks can be found at Schlow and Pattee Libraries or from people in the club who own the cookbook.  Members sign up for a recipe or two, make the recipe and bring it to the meeting.  We discuss the recipes and the cookbook, and then we EAT!

Cookbooks we have used in the past several months for the club were The Smitten KitchenSalad for Dinner and Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.  Last week, we met again and used the cookbook The Sprouted Kitchen as our inspiration for an yummy meal.

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My contribution were the Almond Meal Cookies.

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I chose that recipe because, surprisingly, I had all the unusual ingredients called for — almond meal from a store (Sprouts) in Utah that I found on sale and just had to buy to try out and cacao nibs from the Theo Chocolate Factory in Seattle that were so intriguing I also had to buy them. These purchases were from two different trips; I love to shop for food on vacation!

The night was delicious and we decided that the cookbook was a good one for people who are really interested in cooking with all kinds of whole foods, especially whole grains.

I decided that I want to try more recipes using almond meal, as it gave the cookies I made a chewy texture and surprising taste (these cookies are also gluten free).  The one addition I made to the cookies from the original recipe was using half the called for cacao nibs (1/8 cup) and 1/8 cup chopped chocolate chips.  I mistakenly omitted the coconut!!  Don’t make that same mistake.

We have not chosen our next cookbook yet.  So many choices……!  Suggestions anyone??

Almond Meal Cookies

(adapted slightly from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook)

Makes 18-20 small cookies

1 and 1/4 cup almond meal

1/8 cup cacao nibs

1/8 cup chocolate chips, chopped

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup raw sugar

1 egg

3 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the almond meal, cacao nibs, coconut, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In another bowl, beat the egg well until it is a uniform color and doubles in volume.  Whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla extract.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

Roll the chilled dough into 1 inch balls.  Place on a baking sheet with 1 and 1/2 inches space between them, and give them a gentle press with the palm of your hand to flatten them slightly.  Bake until edges just begin to brown, about 7 – 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

World Food Day…..and Pasta!

Yesterday, October 16, 2014, was “World Food Day,”  a day for “action against hunger,” proclaimed by the United Nations.

On World Food Day, I attended a very interesting lecture by Bryan McDonald, Assistant Professor of History at Penn State. His lecture, “Dinner for Seven Billion:  Food Issues for the 21st Century,” was held as part of Schlow Library’s Research Unplugged series.

Mr. McDonald gave the audience a lot of “food” for thought. He talked about the problems of proper nourishment, optimizing food safety and food sustainability for all.

Mr. McDonald ended his talk showing us this poster from WWI created by the US Food Administration.  It is as informative and useful today as it was one hundred years ago!*

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*The federal government encouraged the public to use less wheat and meat because what the US produced was being sent to Europe for the troops during WWI.

Tonight I am serving Chicken and Tomato No-Boil Pasta Bake to our family and 3 guests.  It is affordable, easy to make and nutritious.  Ingredients were “bought with thought,” it has been “cooked with care.”  And I am sure we will “use what is left” by eating the leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.

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Chicken and Tomato No-Boil Pasta Bake

(adapted from thekitchn.com)

serves 8 to 10

1 pound dried rigatoni pasta, uncooked

2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (omit for vegetarian)

4 large cloves garlic, roughly minced

One 28-ounce can plus 2 cups diced tomatoes

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup cubed provolone cheese

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups milk, NOT skim (a higher fat content helps thicken the sauce)

Cheesy Basil Topping
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, and sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Heat the oven to 400°F and liberally grease a 3-quart casserole dish with olive oil. (Ideally you would use a heavy Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, but you can also use a standard 9×13-inch casserole pan, tightly covered with a double layer of aluminum foil during baking.)

In a large bowl, mix the dried pasta, chopped chicken breast, minced garlic, and diced tomatoes (with their juices). Stir in the salt and a healthy quantity of black pepper. (If the tomatoes you are using have no salt in them, add an additional 1/2 teaspoon salt.) Stir in the shredded cheese and the Parmesan. Spread this mixture in the prepared baking dish and pour the milk over top.

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Cover the dish tightly. Bake for 1 hour, or until the pasta is tender. Remove the dish from the oven and turn the oven to broil.

Meanwhile, prepare the herb topping. In a small food processor or chopper, whiz the breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, blending until the texture resembles wet sand.

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Slowly remove the lid (or foil) from the casserole dish. Be careful, as steam will billow out. Spread the herbed breadcrumbs over the bubbling pasta and return the uncovered dish to the oven. Broil for 5 minutes or until the topping is toasted and crispy on top.

Take the casserole out of the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

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