Monday, November 2, 2009

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

I have gone a little pumpkin crazy now, but once again, it was well-worth it. This recipe will make a very large batch of cookies, so I divided it into thirds and froze two-thirds of the dough and made the rest right away. I ended up with about 25 cookies just from the third of the dough that I used. I personally love a lot of pumpkin spice and cinnamon flavor in my pumpkin desserts, but if you like a milder taste, reduce the pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon accordingly. I used freshly roasted pumpkin for this recipe, but that was out of necessity, as I can't find canned pumpkin here. These turned out to be soft, melt-in-your-mouth cookies that taste just like a piece of pumpkin bread. They'll disappear before your eyes if you bring them to a party - guaranteed.

Iced Pumpkin Cookies
½ cup gluten-free baking margarine, softened (OR Spectrum Organic Shortening)
1 cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree (from a can or homemade – I used homemade for these)
1 egg
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup white rice flour
½ cup potato starch
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (OR ½ tsp. ground nutmeg and ½ tsp. ground cloves)

Optional Maple Icing Glaze

2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tbsp. soy milk or water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. maple extract
(note: Chopped pecans or walnuts can also be added)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine sorghum flour, rice flour, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the ½ cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 tsp vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
Bake for 15 to 20 min in the preheated oven. If you want them to be very soft, remove them when they are firm to the touch on top but not yet browned. If you want them to be a little crunchy, wait another 5 minutes until they are lightly browned.
To make the glaze, combine the confectioner’s sugar, soy milk/water, vanilla and maple extract. Add more water or soy milk by the tablespoonful as needed until you have the desired consistency (I like mine to be fairly thick).
When the cookies have cooled, drizzle glaze onto them with a fork or by putting the icing into a baggie and cutting one of the corners off to squeeze it on that way. If desired, add walnuts or pecans. If you prefer these without icing, they are just as delicious plain or with a little powdered sugar sprinkled on top.
For vegan cookies, substitute vegan margarine and 1.5 tsp. egg replacer + 2 tbsp. warm water for the egg.  You won't miss it.

Quick and Easy Lentil Bean Soup

Yesterday I got home and was in one of those moods to make something fast and with no fuss. I had some leftover brown rice and some leftover flour tortillas (which double beautifully as flatbread, it turns out), and I am determined to be creative with the ingredients I already have in my cabinets so I can cut down on my grocery costs. Living on about $300 per month is a challenge for an avid cook and baker like me, but I am determined to eat delicious food despite being a poor volunteer in a developing country! And tonight, I succeeded. This is a very easy soup that came together in about 15 minutes total, and I ended up eating it with two pieces of my homemade flatbread from the other night, made warm and crispy in the toaster. The flavors are simple; I didn’t spice it up too much, but you could add any spices to give it a more distinct flavor.
Quick and Easy Lentil Bean Soup
2 green onions, chopped
1 15-oz. can lentils, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz. can butter beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 – 2 cups boiling water
1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
salt and pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste

Heat through and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Adjust spices to taste and serve as a soup, with bread, or with rice.