Pumpkin Squares

If I remember correctly, this was one of the first things I made here at home after I had started baking. Possibly January 2004? That was the last time I had come home from CA in the winter before moving back here. Both my parents loved it, as did my cousin and her husband. And now this is the second year in a row where it's been requested at Thanksgiving. *shrug* Works for me!

An oatmeal cookie-esque crust with a pumpkin custard on top, it's pretty easy. I always add in spices that aren't in the recipe - allspice, nutmeg - and never seem to measure. I can't cook because I feel more confident in my boxes and measurements, but I can improvise with cinnamon and the like. Another thing we'll just chalk up to a Kristen Quirk. :)

Oh, and because I can rationalize ANY food as being good for you - pumpkin has vitamins and oats are good for lowering cholesterol. There ya go, Leslie. ;)

1 cup flour
½ cup quick-cooking oats
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened

15 oz. Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin
12 oz. evaporated milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves

½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup quick-cooking oats
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F.

Beat flour, oats, brown sugar and butter in a small mixer until crumbly. Press onto bottom on an ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

Beat pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in a large mixer bowl. until smooth. Pour over crust. Bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Combine brown sugar, oats and butter in small bowl; sprinkle over filling. Bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.

Chocolate Agave Cake

I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving. :) Mine was good. Except for the whole "working the next day at an ungodly hour" part. The joys of working in retail, right?

Mu aunt has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, so I sought out a lower-sugar dessert that everyone would enjoy. Having heard about agave nectar on a few different blogs - how it's lower on the glycemic index than even an apple - the quest began for a recipe using it. It was surprisingly harder than I had expected. Monday turned up results, though. Over at Baking Bites. (I really need to write a post-it to order myself one of the cookbooks)

The cake was SUPER easy to bring together, and I was happy to discover that agave nectar moves faster in the pouring process than honey does. The cake is very fudgey, but not as chocolatey as I had hoped. The frosting isn't very sugar-free, but I did use far less confectioners' sugar than the recipe called for. Everyone else loved it, though. Now that I think about it, I don't recall ever seeing it again after I went to bed so early. Hmm... :)

2¼ cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup agave nectar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
¼ cup milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round pans and line them with greased parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by agave nectar and vanilla extract.

Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the sour cream. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the milk, before stirring in the remaining flour mixture. Mix only until just combined. Divide evenly into prepared pans.

Bake at 350F for 22-28 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry or with some moist crumbs attached. Do not overbake. Turn cakes out onto wire cooling racks, peel off the parchment paper, and let cool completely.

Agave Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup butter, room temperature
3 tbsp honey
¼ cup milk
2-3 cups confectioners' sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat at high speed until smooth, gradually adding the confectioners' sugar until a thick and spreadable consistency is reached. More milk can be added to thin the icing, if necessary.


Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Alright, everyone. Try not to fall over - I'm actually updating. ;)

It feels as though I'm fighting an uphill battle in the fight against the lazy. I'm baking every weekend, but the lazy monster keeps coming up with paltry excuses from updating. Or even photographing. "It's rainy; no good light." "It's near-dark by the time I get home from work; no good light." Even worse, when the lazy monster gets in cahoots with the self-esteem gargoyle. "Oh, who's gonna care about yet another brownie recipe?"

But I'm doing good tonight. Baked yesterday, photographed a little over an hour ago, and here I am. (That and I told myself I couldn't read anymore of the book until I post this. Motivation, you come from the strangest places.)

So! I found this over at Recipe Girl and instantly fell in love. Pumpkin? In blissful union with snickerdoodles? Oh, my! You know it's gotta be something good if I'm making cookies before Christmas. ;)

And truly? These make me so ridiculously happy, it's not even funny. They're that perfect couple that, even though they're perfect, you aren't annoyed by them. You revel in their perfectness. You don't even feel that twinge of jealousy when they finish each other's sentences and get lovey-dovey.

(That last paragraph, upon re-reading, did make me raise my eyebrow in perplexedness. Have I gone off the deep end for good this time??) ;)

Anyways, divine. Everyone should make these. :)

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon

½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ginger
½ tsp. allspice

Cream butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and pumpkin puree, and beat well. Mix in egg and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Beat flour mixture into liquid mixture a little at a time until incorporated.

Cover dough with plastic and chill for at least an hour, or until dough becomes slightly firm.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice in a small bowl.

Using a medium cookie scoop (1½ Tbsp.) or a large spoon, scoop out dough and roll into balls. Roll dough through the sugar/spice mix. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Flatten slightly.

Bake at 350F for 10-14 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3-5 dozen (depending on the size, of course)


Chocolate M&M Cookies

Whew! It seems like it's been ages, hasn't it?

Well, first, vacation was WONDERFUL. Somehow squeezed in seeing everyone that I wanted to see, as well as nearly 12 hours of driving on the way to Oregon and back to the Bay Area. Not only was it great seeing friends again, but also the food that I can't get out here! LOL I really did pack a box and mailed it to myself, full of stuff that I can't readily get over here. (Why, yes, that did include vanilla from the Ferry Marketplace Building in SF lol)

In other awesome news, last week Southwest Airlines had a big 72-hour sale, with one-way flights as low as $25. Naturally I couldn't pass that up, so come January, as a little birthday present to myself, I'll be heading out there for a few days. And Amelia mentioned those wonderful words of "road trip" and "Disneyland." Quickest way to make this little girl smile. :)

Halloween was fun. My friend Leslie has been having a Halloween party with her daughter for quite some time, and I was able to go this year. Of course I volunteered baked goods, and cookies wound up being the choice. The regular chocolate chip stand-by and this one, which is based off a recipe I used a few years back. (So out of it tonight; I do apologize lol)

I did a half batch only because it was Halloween morning that I was making these and time was limited. The recipe's quite easy, mostly one bowl (I got lazy and just mixed the flour and stuff in the actual measuring cup *shrug*. The dough is a bit on the sticky side, and very yummy, so you might want to chew some gum while making this, just to resist the dough-eating. ;)

1-1/8 cups flour
¼ cup + 1 Tbsp. cocoa
½ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
½ butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup + 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
1 egg
6 oz. M&M's

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add egg. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture. Stir in M&M's. Place teaspoonful-sized dough at least 1-inch apart on prepared sheets.

Bake at 350F for 9-11 minutes. Let cool on sheets for two minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen.