Chocolate Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Ever since an isolated incident back in the early 70’s gave us all a fright, the commercial candy industry has been aggressively persuading us not to give out apples, popcorn balls or other home made treats on Halloween. So for years, especially when I had a young son, I dutifully purchased commercial candies in miniature form each year (and ate a fair share of them myself). However, I have long questioned this practice.
I live in a small community with a very high incidence of diabetes and obesity … even among children. So for the past few years I have resisted giving out candy, choosing instead to buy expensive organic cheese crackers in little boxes from Annie’s, which the kids have loved. But since I get 100 or more Trick Or Treaters each year, this adds up! Then there came this report from the Cornucopia Institute … detailing the problem with most treats passed out this time of year and suggesting solutions. As a professional baker (at least for dogs) I decided to go the cookie route instead. It is an economical way to put a little love in each colorful treat bag (bought on ebay for just a few dollars).
I started out with some vintage cookie cutters of a bat and a scaredy cat (tail straight up). This quickly became unworkable with the tender cookie dough. So I switched forms to Acorns and Pumpkins. I added easy decorations of chocolate sprinkles on the acorn caps and chocolate covered dots to make jack-o-lanterns of the pumpkins. Each bag gets two large cookies, one of each kind, and is tied with a string of raffia (also from ebay, also very inexpensive). The cookies are delicious! Here are the recipes, in case anyone wants to try them.
Triple Threat Chocolate Peanut Butter Cut Out Cookies (makes 2-4 dozen cookies, depending on size)
Preheat oven to 400F
- 1 Cup Unsalted Butter (softened to room temp)
- 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar (packed)
- 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter (smooth)
- 1/4 Cup Melted and Cooled Chocolate (I used chocolate chips with 60% Cocoa)
- 2 T Dark Cocoa Powder
- 1 Egg
- 3 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
- 1 t Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 t Baking Powder (Double Acting)
- 1 t Salt
- Cream the butter & sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Add Peanut Butter and Chocolate
- Add Egg and Vanilla
- Add Flour, Baking Powder and Salt
- Keep dough cold while not working, but no need to pre-chill before rolling
- Roll out between parchment to 1/4″ thickness and cut shapes.
- Bake on parchment, keeping 1″ or more between cookies, about 12 minutes.
- Remove to wire racks to cook completely. You can store in zip locks until packaging in treat bags.
Pumpkin Spice Cut Out Cookies
Preheat oven to 350F
- 3/4 Cups Unsalted Butter (softened to room temp)
- 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar (packed)
- 1 Egg
- 1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree
- 1 T Vanilla Extract
- 3 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 t Double Acting Baking Powder
- 1 t Salt
- 1-1/2 t Cinnamon
- 3/4 t Ground Ginger
- 1/4 t Ground or Grated Nutmeg
- 1/4 t Ground Allspice
- 1/8 t Ground Cloves
- Cream Butter and Sugars together until light and fluffy
- Add Pumpkin, Vanilla and Egg
- Add dry ingredients
- Chill dough for 15 – 20 minutes before rolling
- Roll out between parchment to 1/4″ thick and cut shapes
- Decorate and put on parchment to bake
- Bake 12 minutes
- Transfer to wire rack to cool completely before packing in treat bags
Cut shapes close together & then remove xtra before lifting shapes with spatula
Enjoy! And have a safe and Happy Halloween!
Our daily bread!
It is actually true, that bread — at least healthy fermented bread — comes pretty close to supplying what we need on a daily basis to live.
But bread has come under fire from dieters and dieticians alike ever since the bastardization of the baking art in the mid-20th Century. Done to achieve shorter baking times, long shelf life and enhance profits, commercially made bread relied on wheat stripped of all nutrition. When that created a nation of sick people (true), companies like Wonder Bread began adding the “health” back into the bread and using that as an advertising tool. But in reality, even with nutrients added, the process and ingredients of most commercial breads to this day do nothing to promote your health, and may in fact be unhealthy. The type of flour used, additives (some of which are known carcinogens, un-fermented gluten and commercial yeast have produced many celiac disease sufferers, but also many more who react to the lack of fermentation, experiencing bloating and other gut problems. Lack of fermentation in bread has also contributed to an epidemic of diabetes and may be responsible for the spike in Candida diseases and allergic reactions that may contribute to cancer. Fermentation actually pre-digests those elements of the bread that produce such discomforts. It releases nutrients in the bread so that your body can absorb them. It helps control candida albicans, where commercial yeast encourages it. And it contributes to a healthy microbiome, slowly recreating the friendly lactobacillus digestive bacteria in your gastrointestinal system, which in turn boosts your immune system.
In generations past, bread fermentation was the ONLY way bread was made. But it took time (at least overnight and sometimes days) to produce delicious healthy loaves. Now, however, the pendulum has begun to swing back. Consumers are starting to realize the health benefits of fermented sourdough bread. Now, please don’t run out and buy a loaf of sourdough bread from your local grocer. It is likely to have no fermentation in it and may not even have any real sourdough in it … just vinegar to produce a “sour” flavor. Real sourdough bread is so easy to make. Even making your own wild caught sourdough starter is easy. And the flavor … I can never go back to store bought bread again.
I bake bread a couple of times a week. I live alone so 2 loaves a week is usually all I need unless I have company. What I don’t eat before it begins to go stale goes to the chickens (who love it) or I make croutons or bread crumbs with it. So there is no waste. Just deliciousness.
I encourage everyone to read my previous posts how to make a sourdough starter, and various approaches and recipes for creating healthy bread. Again, they are not difficult and require little hands-on time, mostly just waiting for the magic to happen.
Whenever I come out with a plate of “lunch” for the girls, they come running! Here is a typical lunch for them. Using my ulu board and knife (curved to capture and hold anything you chop — really a must for making my chickens’ lunch) I chop everything up pretty good, especially if it is at all stringy like celery (only in moderation).
Starting with the bottom layer: Bok Choy, Collard Greens, Celery, Green Beans, Broccoli, Hard Boiled Egg (shell and all), Ripe Banana, Styrian (hullless) Pumpkin Seeds, Chia Seeds, Old Fashioned Oats (raw – just a sprinkling).
But the list of potentials for such lunches is very broad and I regularly also include dried meal worms and bread. This meal is in addition to their organic layer feed and scratch. And of course, plenty of clean water. But there are some no no’s — things chickens should never eat — such as avocado, potato, tomato or eggplant leaves, dried beans, apple seeds/core, onion or garlic, rhubarb, anything with caffeine.
My girls are happy, healthy, energetic, and produce gorgeous large organic eggs which help keep ME happy and healthy too!
I am totally with Michael Pollan on the sensuality of having a pot of something aromatic and delicious cooking all day. This is heightened, I think, when the weather is particularly nasty — a huge snow storm or, as today, the push off from Hurricane Matthew. So I took my usual African Peanut Stew recipe and revised it somewhat to accommodate what I had in my fridge. The result is awesome and will have you daydreaming while it slowly stews for hours in the other room.
Sirloin Chunks (I am using approximately 1 pound) cut in 1″ cubes, sauteed on high heat in a dutch oven (preferably a cast iron one) in olive oil with two large bay leaves and a teaspoon of salt and fresh ground pepper until the meat is browned.
Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and sautee one onion and some celery stalk, finely diced. A minute or two later add two cloves of smashed minced garlic. To that, after a minute, add fresh roughly chopped ripe tomato and chopped collard greens. After a minute, return the beef & bay leaves to the mix. Add about a quart of water. Cover and simmer for an hour or so.
Add Chunky Peanut Butter to thicken sauce (I use the same organic brand I use in my Lucky Like Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits). Taste and correct seasoning if necessary, cover and simmer until meat is falling apart. Then it is ready. Enjoy!
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