Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Weekend Visitor, “Great” Pumpkin Cookies and a Prize

Meet Iggy. His “daddy,” my son, had to go away for the weekend so Marion and I got to Iggy-sit. Iggy has never spent a weekend here so we didn’t really know how well he would take it. He’s kinda spoiled:) But, he did just fine.

I had quite the time trying to get pictures of him though. He was playing with Marion almost all day Saturday. I tried sneaking back to Marion’s to snap a picture and each and every time, I caught what looked liked a big fluffy hair ball! I know my son doesn’t have this problem. He sends me pictures of Iggy all the time. I’m not very good with the camera I’m afraid. This is the best I could do:)

If memory serves me correctly, Iggy was named after the apparent “godfather of punk” Iggy Pop! Don’t quote me on that and pleeeeeeze don’t tell my son that Marion insists on calling Iggy, Ziggy!!!

As many of you know, 99% of the time I go out for breakfast each and every morning to my very best favorite “diner” at Harry’s place. That’s not the name of it though:) It’s one of those places where “everyone knows your name” and in my case, what you eat. For many years, I never had to tell Sue or any of the other waitresses what I was eating because I had “my usual.”

I still go to Harry’s every morning AND, I have a new usual. There’s just one thing, for the life of me, the cooks just can’t seem to get my new usual right! At first I thought they were just trying to be funny. Then when one of the regular cooks left for a new job in the gas industry, have you heard we’re “booming” here in central PA, I thought the new cook would have no problem at all, after all, he didn’t know what my usual was to begin with! It did take Sue and the other waitresses a few orders to get it right but, until this past Friday, the cooks could not get it right no matter what!

How did I finally get Steve, the new full time cook, to get my order right? Good old fashioned cookie bribery, that’s how!!! As soon as I walked in the diner on Friday morning I made an announcement. ”Who ever get’s my breakfast right this morning will get a treat, Great Pumpkin Cookies!”

I followed the recipe as found in the Peanuts Cookbook. Once again I missed Peppermint Patty’s birthday which is October 4th but, if you would like to celebrate with one of her recipes, I posted one a while back right here.

As for these cookies, I left the testing to Marion. She gave them a thumbs up without the Orange Cream drizzle. I may leave them plain when I bring them down to the diner tomorrow morning, I may not:) The one thing I must say about the instructions for the Great Pumpkin Cookies is, I think it would probably be better to cream the brown sugar and shortening together before adding the pumpkin and eggs. It took so long for the shortening to cream when I mixed all the “wet” ingredients together. I don’t think it’s because this recipe is from 1969 that the directions are not clear. It’s probably because the Peanuts gang, and especially Linus would know better, lol…I also didn’t have plain canned pumpkin so I used the pre-spiced kind and left the spices out.

I think the “gang” at the diner will enjoy these. I sure hope so!

FYI: On October 2, 1950 the PEANUTS comic strip launched in seven American newspapers. Who would have guessed the impact the brand would have around the world for decades to come. Nearly 60 years later, the comic strip appears in over 2,200 newspapers, in 75 countries and 21 languages. PEANUTS animated specials have become a seasonal tradition…All About It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Look what Marion won!!!

Thank you so much to Kristy from My Little Space for letting me enter Marion in her generous give-away. I’m not one to usually enter give-aways but somehow I entered Kristy’s and when I was lucky enough to win, I asked Kristy if she would send the prizes to Marion. She did and Marion is absolutely thrilled!!! We haven’t decided what our first “goodies” will be but, I’m sure we’ll find something yummy in the enclosed recipe suggestions. Thank you Kristy! Marion send hugs and a huge Thank you too!!!

Just one more thing for today. The other evening I was washing dishes when I spied the most beautiful hues of golden reds and oranges settling over the mountains. Quickly, I shut the water, grabbed my camera and ran outside. Now, I get the morning sun in the back of the house where the garden is so I wasn’t to hopeful that the rays would still be shining by the time I made it out there.

This is almost the same spot I shared with you the other day. I just love it. I hope you do too:) Thanks for visiting everyone. “See” you Cookbook Wednesday for National Nut Day!!! Louise

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cookbook Wednesday; New Hampshire Bites

There are many reasons why I collect cookbooks. Today’s books bring back memories of wondrous days I spent in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, many years ago with my good friend Walter. I was contemplating moving there at the time and Walter did just about everything in his power to try and convince me to make the move. As a matter of fact, he even proposed:)

A Brief History of Strawbery Bank

And a recipe;
I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in Pennsylvania, Strawberry season is but a sweet and fragrant memory. That is why if you read that recipe for Date Strawberries carefully, you will notice it doesn’t include neither fresh or frozen strawberries. Unless there is such a thing as strawberry Rice Krispies that is:)

As you might expect, the Strawbery Banke Cookbook devotes an entire chapter to all things strawberry. Uh oh, what’s a girl to do? Well, it so happens, I preserved some of those sun kissed strawberries for just the right occasion.

And in my book, today is the day for Strawberry filled Thumbprint cookies. (as for those jars of goodness above, that's only three of the 12 varieties of freezer jams I have stuffed in the outside freezer. A couple of them are Peach AND Strawberry! I told you I was a busy beaver, lol…)

You would think I would have chosen the recipe for Thumbprint cookies from the cookbook but, fact is, most of the strawberry recipes included some sort of gelatin concoction and I just wasn’t in a gelatin kinda mood. This recipe for Winter Strawberry Candy is a perfect example.

The inspiration for the Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies that I share with you today comes from John’s recipe for PB&J Thumbprint (Thimble) Cookies.

PB&J Thumbprint (Thimble) Cookies
adapted from Kitchen Riffs
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
1½ sticks unsalted butter, softened (I used 1 stick of butter and 4 tablespoons of mashed Avocado)
¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
6 ounces peanut butter (chunky or smooth) (I used 4 ounces of smooth peanut butter)
1 large egg (I used 2 egg whites)
½ teaspoon orange extract
¾ cup jelly or jam for topping cookies (red currant jelly is excellent; or use strawberry, raspberry, or another flavor of your choice)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour and salt). Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer), cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter and blend well. Beat in the egg and the orange extract. Add the dry ingredients and mix until well blended.
4. Scoop out dollops of dough and form into balls about one inch in diameter. Place cookies 1½ to 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Make indents in the top of each cookie.
5. Bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until the cookies are just becoming firm (don’t over bake). Remove from the oven. Using a wide spatula, move the cookies to a wire rack for cooling.
6. Spoon ½ teaspoon of jelly or jam into the top of each cookie. Serve and enjoy.

John’s recipe was just what I was looking for but, as you all know, I have been making modifications to my diet these days and I just had to “play” with this recipe as well. If you’re not watching your diet, I highly recommend you checking out John’s recipe. He always includes helpful notations with his recipes and there is no doubt in my mind that his results are dee…li…cious!

My changes to John’s recipe are noted in red. I’ve been researching butter substitutes and it seems avocados are highly regarded as a good substitute in cookies.

1. I wasn’t willing to change off the entire amount of butter but, I must say, you would have to really analyze my cookie batter to detect the avocado!
2. When I realized my peanut butter was not heart friendly, I decided to use just 4 ounces of what I had on hand. I have since replaced my pantry peanut butter and when I make these cookies again, I will use the 6 ounces as John suggests! Not only will it enhance the flavor of the cookies, it will make them just a bit more healthier too:) (And yes, I totally agree with John and the orange extract; amazing!)
3. I have gotten into the habit of using egg whites in lieu of whole eggs. I was not happy with my one horrid experience with egg substitutes and after reading the labels and doing a bit of research, I’m sticking with regular ol’ eggs. Yes, I am having a problem justifying all those frozen egg yolks in the freezer. I’m thinking I’ll be doing some cookie gift giving for the holidays so they will go to good use then. And yes, some yolks have found their way down the kitchen drain but, I liken it to not always eating the peel on the apple, lol…Sometimes I just crave a peeled apple, lol…

I’m very pleased with the way the cookies turned out. Believe it or not, biting into these cookies was my first encounter coming any where near butter or saturated fat since my “episode.” I’m adjusting quite well except sometimes a girl just needs a cookie or a piece of cake for that matter. To think this was my first cookie in nearly three months seems almost impossible to believe, especially since Marion bought a brand new box of Mallomars, which are gingerly sitting on the “goodie” shelf in the pantry. But, believe it!!! BTW, Mallomars' Day is right around the corner:) Thanks for the inspiration John!

I hadn’t planned on including another cookbook or recipe for today but, when I saw the title of this little booklet, I just had to peek inside.

I’m sooooooo glad I did! Not only did the title of the book entice me but, I found myself drawn to this recipe for Apple Ugly Cake simply because it was made without butter! As I read the recipe, it reminded me of the cake mixes you use to be able to buy in the 70s that were made by Betty Crocker. They were called Snackin’ Cakes.

This recipe was almost as easy.

The only adjustment I made was I replaced one-third of the cup of oil with applesauce which I’ve done many times in cake recipes with much success! I also added 1/4 cup of homemade yogurt which I haven’t had time to “morph” into “greek” yogurt yet:) I’m sure it would have been just as good if I had omitted it but I was attempting to fortify with a bit more protein:) Next time I think I’ll add a sprinkle of flax meal or oat flour. I’m sure it will go undetected and taste just as yummy:) I do wish I would have included the raisins but I surely will remember next time! (I’ve been eating tons of raisins and walnuts as my daily evening snack, I just didn’t feel like having more raisins in this cake but, they would have been just perfect:) The recipe doesn’t tell you to grease the pan but I did use baking spray. Marion insisted on having it hot out of the oven with a dollop of Cool Whip! As for me, I didn’t miss the Cool Whip one bit. (Marion is a devoted Cool Whip fan from way back:)

It was such a warm day yesterday, I decided to take my walk right in my own neighborhood. (I usually go to the baseball field to do my laps:) Yes, dear readers, Fall has arrived in all its Glory!!!

~~Wiggle Those Toes~~

1. Portsmouth, A Picturesque New England Town (Karen from Back Road Journal shared an intimate post about Portsmouth recently:)
2. Strawbery Banke Museum
3. Strawbery Banke Poppyseed Cake
4. Rosh Hashana, Circa 1919