So I guess I have the start of a new Fall tradition on my hands. Last year we made these delicious pumpkin whoopie pies, and, with fall in full swing, we decided to make them again. Just couldn’t resist.

Photos by {Blue Eyed Yonder}

If you’re looking for something yummy to whip up to satisfy a hankering for that irresistible, it’s-that-time-of-year pumpkin flavor… make these. Everybody like a little whoopie. (Unless your name is Shea, and then you like whoopie, just not the pumpkin variety – wink.)

I made a little adjustment to this recipe from the last time I made it. The amount of frosting was never enough to fill all of the pies, so I doubled the vanilla icing recipe below to make sure you don’t run out.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
3 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 – 15oz. can pumpkin puree
Vanilla Filling:
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
3 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. light corn syrup
For Pumpkin Whoopie Pies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, and salt.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. Beat in flour mixture just until incorporated. Drop heaping tablespoons (can also use a small ice cream scoop) of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. With moistened fingers or with the back of a spoon, smooth the tops of the cakes.
Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the tops of the cookies, when lightly pressed, spring back. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Filling: Beat the shortening and butter until soft and creamy. With the mixer on its lowest speed, gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar. Increase the speed to high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Then, with the mixer on low speed, beat in the vanilla extract and slowly drizzle in the corn syrup. Continue to beat until the filling looks like soft mayonnaise.
To Assemble: Take one cake and spread a heaping tablespoon of the filling on the flat side of the cake. Top with another cake. The assembled cookies can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for several days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Makes about 14 Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.

Posted 10/24/11, Topic: Eats

Bring home the bacon

I just love trying something new.
I’ve had this 30-Minute Supper magazine lying on the coffee table for about two months now. It’s packed with yummy looking recipes that I’ve been itching to try. Sunday’s weather was just perfect for grilling out, so we decided to try the bacon-wrapped scallop recipe.

It was perfect. 
I mean anything wrapped in bacon is awesome, right? The recipe called for apple jelly, but I decided to substitute the jelly with my homemade fig preserves. I really liked the smokey, fire-grilled flavor paired with the richness of the figs. It was a great slip-into-fall taste.
But wanna know the real star of the meal? It was the celery-apple salad. The crunchiness of the celery combined with the sweet, tartness of the Granny Smith apples was such an interesting combination. The entire meal was packed with flavor and texture. I couldn’t help but stop every other bite and exclaim, “My gosh this is good!”

Photos by {Blue Eyed Yonder} and her Mister

Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Scallops Skewers with Celery and Apple Salad
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers

4 tbsp fig preserves
8 slices bacon, cut in half crosswise
16 large sea scallops (about 1 pound)
Salt and Pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp cider vinegar
4 tsp Dijon mustard
5 tbsp olive oil
6 celery ribs, sliced thin on the bias, leaves reserved
2 Granny Smith apples, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch matchsticks

In microwave safe bowl, microwave fig preserves on high power until bubbly, 30-60 seconds. Set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, spread out bacon pieces on microwave-safe plate over 4 layers of paper towels and cover with 2 layers of paper towels. Microwave bacon on high power until bacon fat begins to melt but is still pliable, 1-2 minutes.

Rinse scallops and pat dry with paper towels. Whisk 2 tablespoons fig preserves, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne pepper in bowl. Toss scallops and bacon in fig mixture. Wrap piece of bacon around each scallop. Using four, 10-inch metal skewers, skewer 4 on each skewer.

Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons fig preserves with vinegar, mustard, and olive oil. Toss dressing with celery, celery leaves, and apples. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Grill scallops, with surface of bacon touching grill, over medium fire until scallops are cooked and bacon is crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Serve with celery-apple salad.

Posted 9/26/11, Topic: Eats

Cashew Chicken Stir Fry

First things first… no, I did not take this picture and no, I did not make this recipe. I did, however, make something that looks pretty darn close I just forgot my camera’s memory card at work. Ugh, I know, the ultimate bloggy no-no. Oh well, sue me.

Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder and I tried our hands at a little Thai cuisine and made Cashew Chicken stir fry. I even dug into the back of the cabinets to find these adorable asian-styled bowls and plates that I’ve had forever but always forget to use.

I know most people would gasp at the idea of not serving rice with an Asian-style dish, but in addition to spending some time sans sugar, we’re also steering clear of processed flours and grains. Just trying to pack a little more wholesome goodness into our diets. We skipped the rice and added steamy bowl of coconut soup to the meal. To tell you the truth I didn’t miss the rice at all. This dish really packs in the flavor!

Cashew Chicken Stir Fry
adapted from Darlene Schimdt

2-3 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces or strips
1 small cooking onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. dried chili flakes
1 lemongrass stalk, pale section sliced and minced
4 green onions, cut into thirds
3 cups chopped broccoli or baby bok choy, chopped into square bite-size pieces
1/2 cup cashews, dry roasted, unsalted
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
marinade: 2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp. soy sauce + 1 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup chicken broth or white wine (or white cooking wine or sherry)

3 Tbsp. white cooking wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp. cornstarch powder, dissolved in 3 Tbsp. water
1-2 Tbsp. oil for stir-frying

Stir together marinade and place in a medium-size bowl. Add chicken pieces and stir well to combine. Set aside to marinate.

Combine all stir-fry sauce ingredients in a bowl or large cup, stirring well. Set aside.

In a large wok or frying pan, fry the onion, garlic, chili, minced lemongrass and green onion in oil over medium-high heat (1-2 minutes).

Add the marinated chicken plus mushrooms. Continue stir frying until chicken is cooked (2-5 minutes). When the wok or frying pan becomes dry, add a little of the broth or cooking wine, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

Add the broccoli and continue stir frying until it softens and turn bright green (about 3 minutes).

Finally, add the sauce you made earlier, plus the cashews. Then add the cornstarch powder dissolved in water. Continuing stirring until everything is well combined and the sauce thickens (1-2 more minutes).

Do a taste test for salt and sweetness (the sauce should taste tangy and a little sweet). If you prefer a darker, richer sauce, add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. more soy sauce.

Posted 8/25/11, Topic: Eats

Fig and Ginger Jam

Last week, while I was knee deep in figs, Amy was kind enough to share an intriguing fig recipe for fig and ginger preserves. I’m such a ginger fan and love the surprising twist it adds to dishes. This recipe called for crystallized ginger. 

It make look all sweet like candy, but pop a piece of this in your mouth and you’re guaranteed to get lock jaw. (Trust me, I looked like a goof ball in Whole Foods.) 

Super simple ingredients for a preserve packed with flavor. I can’t wait to try some of these preserves over a grilled pork loin, doesn’t that sound good? Thanks again Amy for the sweet tip. Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder and I are both big fans of this recipe.
Photos by {Blue Eyed Yonder}

Fig and Ginger Jam
adapted from Tasty Kitchen

2 quarts fresh figs, coarsely chopped
4 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cups water
Juice from one lemon
1/2 cups crystallized ginger, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoons salt

Begin by rinsing the figs and removing the stems. Coarsely chop figs and combine will all other ingredients in a large pot. Heat the mixture until boiling. You want a good roiling boil that does not fade when stirred.

Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Stir frequently.

Remove from heat and immediately ladle fig mixture into prepared mason jars, fill to 1/4″ from the top and seal tightly with lids. I did not process my figs in a water bath, the heat from the figs was enough to cause the jars to seal. If for some reason the jars do not seal, simply store in the refrigerator.

Posted 8/11/11, Topic: Eats

Women are from Venus, Grapes are from Mars

After picking our fill of figs at The Happy Berry Farm, we decided it would be a sin to leave with out at least trying some of their delicious Mars grapes. We noticed the dark clusters of grapes hanging from the vines as we drove into the farm. The vines were loaded.

We snipped to our heart’s delight and came home with a gorgeous bushel of Mars grapes. Just look for the darkest clusters and pluck a berry or two for a quick taste test. 

These grapes are super sweet, however the skins have a slightly tart flavor that balances it out nicely. If you’re ever in Six Mile, SC stop by The Happy Berry and say “hi” to the sweet Miller family for me.

Photos by {Blue Eyed Yonder}

Posted 8/5/11, Topic: Eats

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