Today is officially the first day of fall. YAY!!!! I’m waiting for our weather to catch on to the change of seasons, but I’m still excited that it’s official. To celebrate, I wanted to share 3 delicious recipes that use what are typically considered fall spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc.).
Let’s start with a favorite with a twist: carrot cake… cookies. This was a birthday treat for one of the hubby’s grandmothers. She loves carrot cake every year for her birthday, and this year I gave it to her with a little twist. These cookies (unsurprisingly) taste just like a carrot cake (complete with the fall spice – cinnamon), but there’s something dangerously easy about having it in a handheld form. I loved how moist these were, and, of course, they’re a great vehicle for some tangy cream cheese icing. I used a 1 1/2 tbsp. cookie scoop to make these and got about 2 1/2 dozen. So the next time you’re craving the flavor of a carrot cake, but don’t feel like all the work, give these beauties a try.
Carrot Cake Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing (from the May 2010 issue of Bon Appetit)
For the cookies:
1/2 c. raisins
1/4 c. old-fashioned oats
1/2 c. softened butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. grated carrot
1 1/2 c. self-rising flour
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
For the icing:
1 c. confectioner’s sugar
6 oz. softened cream cheese
1/4 c. softened butter
2 tbsp. heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 3 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Place the raisins and oats in a small bowl. Add in 1/4 c. water and let soak til the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars til fluffy. Beat in the egg, then the carrots. Add the flour and cinnamon and beat to blend. Stir in raisin-oat mix and the nuts. Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls 1 1/2-2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
3. Bake 1 sheet at a time, til the cookies are lightly golden, about 20 minutes. (The cookies will still be soft.) Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. In a medium bowl, beat together the icing ingredients until smooth. Spread on the cooled cookies.
Speaking of carrots, I recently got to try making a delicious carrot salad that I’d been thinking about for a long time. Why was I so excited about this salad? Well, to start with it’s from one of my favorite chefs, Aarti Sequeira. I love her accent, her personality, and so many of her beautiful recipes. (Coincidentally, I just learned today that she published a cookbook. I can’t wait to read it!) It also sounded like a delicious salad, and she helps you fake the taste of preserved lemons, which is an ingredient I really want to try. (Ever since I started delving into Middle Eastern foods, I’ve been adding a lot of foods/ingredients to my must-try list. One of those ingredients is preserved lemons. From what I know, they cut or slice lemons and pack them in salt and oil. Then they let them sit for a month or so. This mellows the tartness and makes them a great flavor component in a recipe.) This is a colorful salad that’s packed with lots of textures and flavor (like cinnamon and ginger).
Moroccan Carrot Salad (from Food Network)
1 large lemon sliced in thin rounds and quartered
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
2 pinches cayenne
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1/4 c. orange juice
8 peeled, grated carrots (about 4 c.) (To make this super easy, you could use shredded carrots from the grocery store.)
1/4 c. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts
1. Place the lemons in a cold skillet. Add a generous amount of oil (Not the 1/4 c., that’s for the dressing.) to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook over low heat til the rinds soften and begin to caramelize, about 20 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the spices, orange zest, and orange juice. Season with salt and pepper. While whisking, pour in the 1/4 c. oil in a thin stream til you reach your dressing’s desired consistency. Add in the carrots, parsley, and nuts. Remove the caramelized lemons from the oil and add them to the salad. Toss and taste to check the seasoning. Drizzle in some of the lemon oil for taste (you can save the rest to use in other dish).
This last recipe is the one I’m most excited about. I got to try out an idea that I’d been thinking about for some time, and it yielded incredibly delicious results. We recently had an international themed potluck dinner at church. This next recipe and the carrot salad were my contributions. It was easy to decide that I wanted to make the salad, but I didn’t have a lot of complementary dessert ideas. My best friend and I were collaborating on our dishes, so I decided to go off one of the flavors in her dish. (She made a coconut curry chicken recipe that uses curry powder and Chinese 5-spice.) For several years now, I’ve thought that it would be interesting to try changing a cookie that already has a warm spice (cinnamon), by subbing the Chinese 5-spice for whatever the recipe called for. Once again the hubby was skeptical of my culinary brilliance (*dripping with sarcasm*), but he was eventually won over by the fabulous flavors. Even if you don’t try my spice swap, these snickerdoodles are just perfect. I’ve never had them turn out anything but delicious with a crisp outer and a chewy middle. You get about 3 dozen from the recipe, so there will be plenty to share. By the way, the Chinese 5-spice gave them a very exotic flavor that was warm and sweet with just a hint of spice.
Snickerdoodles (My mom’s recipe!)
1 c. softened butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon (All I did was use Chinese 5 spice instead of the cinnamon.)
1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, 1 1/2 c, sugar, and eggs. Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt and mix in with the butter mix.
2. In a shallow dish, mix together the cinnamon and 3 tbsp. sugar. Roll the cookies into walnut sized balls and roll each one in the cinnamon sugar mix. (I’m bad at judging sizes, so I just used my 1 1/2 tbsp. scoop. It’s the only scoop I have, but feel free to use a smaller size if you have one.)
3. Bake the cookies at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
Don’t those sound good? I would love to know what your favorite “fall” spice is and what you use it in. I also wanted to share a couple of fall-ish recipes that recently caught my eye.
We’re always looking for easy or make-ahead breakfast foods, and Geoffrey Zakarian’s mini frittatas look like a great way to clean out your veggie drawer and get a healthy breakfast in return.
With the advent of fall and cooler weather, I’m definitely looking forward to soups and stews. Better Homes & Gardens’ Red Bean, Chicken, and Sweet Potato Stew looks delicious and healthy, and I can’t wait to make it.
Happy fall, y’all!!