Friday, October 26, 2012

Restful Friday

What a glorious day to stay home and be in my jammies all day. Hubs stayed home too and we are loving every bit of this misty, fall day. Staying home all day for me almost always involves some amount (or a lot!) of baking or cooking. Today is no exception and recipes are included!

Last night (after an encouraging FB post from my cousin Joy), I made a the batter for these Pumpkin Molasses cookies. Mine didn't turn out quite as crackly as the picture leads you to believe, but they are quite moist and very yummy. Peter described them as a little round pumpkin bread. 

I modified the recipe slightly, but otherwise basically the same. I think if I made again, I would try splitting the flour with whole wheat and regular flour. 

Pumpkin Molasses Cookies
YIELD: 24 cookies (mine made closer to 36, although I probably made mine a bit smaller)
2 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tsp black pepper (I ommitted the pepper, seemed weird)
8 Tbs butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup molasses
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg (I added 2 eggs instead of one, just because)
1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, ginger and cinnamon.

2. Working with a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar, molasses, and pumpkin puree and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until the flour and spices disappear. If flour remains in the bottom of the bowl, mix the last of the dry ingredients by hand to avoid over beating. You will have a very soft dough.

3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The dough is sticky, so the longer time it can chill the easier it is to work with. I just left the dough in the fridge overnight, mostly because I was falling asleep. It worked just fine in the morning. 

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

5. Put the sugar in a small bowl. Working with one packet of dough at a time, divide it into 12 pieces, and roll each piece into a ball. Roll the balls in the sugar and use a the bottom of a glass to press down on the cookies until they are between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Transfer to cookie sheets. 

6. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12-14 minutes, or until the top feels set to the touch. Remove baking sheets from the oven. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on the sheets before transferring them to a cooling rack.

7. Repeat with second batch of dough.

Having a excess of yummy apples from my Farmers Box (we use Tonnemaker Farms), I made one of Peter and my's favorite cakes, my Auntie Mel's Apple Cake. 

Auntie Mel's German Apple Cake
Modified with love

3 large eggs
1 c. oil (I use canola)
2 c. sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (my modification)
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
4 c. diced apples (be generous, this cake is fantastic if FILLED with apples)
Optional ½ to 1 c. walnuts (I dont' use any!)

Beat eggs and oil till foamy. Add sugar, flour, cinnamon, vanilla, soda and salt. Mix well with a mixer. Add apples (and nuts). Pour into greased pan (13 x 9) for 60 min. Bake at 350. If you are feeling indulgent (which really, why wouldn't you?), when cool, frost with icing below.

1 3 oz pkg cream cheese
1 ½ T. melted butter
½ t. vanilla
¾ to 1 c. powdered sugar

Combine until creamy. Frost cake when cool.

Perfectly delicious on a cool fall day. 

Vancouver, British Columbia

This is the view out my window today:

A bit less than a week ago, this was the view out my window:

Last weekend (and into early this week), I was in Vancouver, BC attending the Project Management Institute (PMI) Global Congress. I'm a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), so this conference was a opportunity to certified and have a chance to gain new learning in the Project Management field. It was a great conference overall with some really fantastic keynote speakers. We also had the following "entertainment" at the awards banquet Saturday night:

Just wow. All I can say. 

In addition to attending the conference, we of course had to eat! Having been to Vancouver a few times before, I had never really found any places to eat that I really liked. This time around, we did our research and didn't have a bad meal once! 

Saturday night we ate at a great sushi restaurant on West Broadway called Tojo's. Oh.em.gee. I'm not usually a huge sushi fan, but I do like rolls and I could eat edamame all day. I ordered the Northern Light Roll (Wild prawn tempura, avocado and seasonal fruit rolled in a cucumber crepe) and it was amazing! I also tried a bit of the tuna belly sashimi from my friend Katie and it was also SO-GOOD! 

Sunday night, we went to a little wine bar in Gastown called Salt Tasting Room. Tiny and down a slightly dark creepy alley, but once inside it was fantastic. Cheese, meat, condiments and wine. That's about it. But everything is beautifully paired with everything else so you get a fantastic little meal. 

With the wine bar's pairings being rather small, it was really a perfect pre-dinner kind of location. So we went down the street to a sister restaurant to Salt called the Irish Heather. Great little pub with really yummy food. I went with a Guinness and originally ordered a steak and Guinness pie, but their over went on the fritz so I ended up with a cider braised pork chop with Brussels sprouts. YUM!

My other little favorite place was a little bakery, Villaggio Cafe right along my running route (I am proud to say I ran all 4 days I was in Vancouver! Loved being able to run along the waterfront to Stanley Park!). We happened to hit it two mornings in a row right as they brought their muffins and scones out of the over. SO GOOD!