{Biscoff} Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

There is just something about Thanksgiving.

The family, the history, the stories, the shopping, the parade, the naps…

<;– My mom's amazing dry-erase art from my family's visit last weekend! If you couldn't tell, that's me,the husband and a plate of cookies…

Oh yeah, and the FOOD!

This year, go beyond the pumpkin pie and turkey… not too far (let’s face it, grandpa won’t dig tofu or quinoa), but far enough to make people think you’re fancy.

It’s nice when people think you’re fancy. Particularly when it takes very little actual effort. Kind of like these cookies.

Most people have tasted those lovely, sweet, slightly spicy little cookies that are handed out on Delta flights – Biscoff. What you may not know is that you not only can find the cookies at your local grocery store, but you can also find Biscoff spread.

This creamy concoction tastes like pulverized cookies mixed with peanut butter – Totally dreamy, and full of possibilities. Put it on your oatmeal, toast, yogurt, apple slices or pancakes. OR, you could make these fluffy perfect-for-Thanksgiving little cookies.

From cookie, to spread, and back to cookie again. You’re just completing the circle of life.

Biscoff Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

From this recipe – yet another great Pinterest find!

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/3 cup Biscoff Spread (or Trader Joe’s Cookie Spread)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • Optional Add-ins: Chocolate chips, pecans, dried cranberries…

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugars. Beat until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin and Biscoff spread and mix until combined. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.

4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only until blended. Stir in the oats.

5. Form the cookie dough into rounded tablespoons and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are golden and just firm around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then remove with a spatula onto a cooling rack.

Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Retro Squash {Truffles}

First off, these really aren’t truffles. Sorry to disappoint, but I just didn’t want the name of my post to be “Squash Balls”.

Umm… doesn’t exactly inspire cozy, happy, holiday thoughts. So, because these little treats are round and have somewhat of a crispy, sweet coating… truffles they became.

I found the inspiration for this recipe in a April issue of Family Circle from 1955 (one of my grandmother’s magazines). “Crispy Sweet-Potato Balls” – They are little funky-retro, and a lot fun to eat.

Unlike Mrs. Eisenhower’s Apple Pie, I did make some modifications to this recipe.

With the biggest eating day of the year looming close, I wanted to be sure I could pound some stuffing, mashed potatoes and Black-Friday-Power-Shopping-Frappuccinos without overwhelming guilt.

Don’t worry. The “yummier” PG-13 version is below also… Worth a shot if butter and zweiback crumbs are your thing. I’ll let you choose for yourself ; )

Retro Squash Truffles

Makes about 10 larger-than-golf-ball-sized truffles

Squash Mixture:

  • 2 Cups of roasted squash (I used a Kabocha, but Butternut or Sweet Dumpling would work well also, or even Sweet Potatoes like the original recipe suggests.)
  • 1 T Earth Balance (or butter), melted
  • 1 t Brown sugar (May need to vary based on the sweetness of your squash)
  • 1/2 t lemon juice
  • Dash of Nutmeg and Pepper (to taste)

Coating Mixture:

  • 2/3 Cups of Panko Breadcrumbs (graham crackers or a few crushed pecans would be great additions, too)
  • 2 t Earth Balance (or butter), melted
  • 1/8 t Cinnamon and Nutmeg and Salt

Directions:

  • Mash squash in a large bowl; add remaining squash-mixture ingredients; beat until fluffy; form into balls truffles.
  • Combine coating-mixture ingredients in a pie-plate; roll truffles in the mixture until coated well, place in a shallow baking pan.
  • Bake in slow oven (325) for about 35 minutes, or until truffles are heated-through and coating is crisp.

Garnish these little spheres of sweet-fluffy-mashed-potato-like goodness with a drizzle of real maple syrup, or….

…yep, I went there.

Add half of a marshmallow for the last five minutes of baking time for a gooey treat. Perfect nestled next to a turkey, and fun to make (and eat) with kids.

That is, unless you get TOO into the retro thing, and make the whole family dress alike…

Just. Don’t. Do it. They won’t appreciate that when they’re older. And, therapy is expensive.

Enjoy!

For all of you adventurers out there, here is the original recipe, as printed:

Crispy Sweet-Potato Balls

Makes 8 large Potato Balls

Potato Mixture

  • 2 Cans (1lb, 2oz each) of vacuum packed sweet potatoes
  • 4 T (1/2 Stick) of melted butter or margarine
  • 2 T Brown Sugar
  • 1t Salt
  • 1/4 t Nutmeg
  • 1/8 t Pepper
  • 1 t Lemon juice

Coating Mixture

  • 3/4 Cup coarse zwieback crumbs (About 6 slices)
  • 2 T Brown Sugar
  • 2T Melted Butter or Margarine
  • 1/8 t Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Salt

Directions: Same as above, but bake for 40 minutes.

Thought {full}

Tis the season to be thankful (and/or eat yourself into a food coma). At the FeshlyMinted household, we’ve been talking a lot about turkey, ‘taters, another important “T” word: Thoughtfulness.

In order to be the type of person that someone is thankful for, you’ve got to be thoughtful first. A spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a great boss… It’s those pleasant little moments of grace, or fun, or extravagance, or simplicity that make us so, so glad that they are in our lives.

The Husband has some great insight into how thoughtfulness works in a husband-wife relationship, and (without prompting / nagging / standing in front of the TV and begging / asking in a variety of accents to make him laugh) he jotted down a few ideas to share. Enjoy:

Thought {full}

I’ve realized that, unless I am intentional about going against my nature, every day I go through life zoned-in on me. What can I accomplish, what fires can I put out, and what anxieties and to-do lists will occupy my mind as I let little problems grow into big ones. Naturally, I drift into a life that is me-centered. I put my career first, my hobbies first, my t.v. shows first… Basically, I submit to my own desires and “needs”, and expect others to as well.

I bet you’ve guessed that this lifestyle doesn’t work so well with my wife… or in any relationship, really.

So, I thought I’d put some advice together that has helped me improve in the area of thoughtfulness – Not exactly an attribute that comes naturally, but one that means a lot in our home. Like, get you out of the doghouse, get you a nice dinner, get you a delighted, happy spouse to come home to, type of ‘a lot’…

For the gents out there:

Let me start this out by stating the obvious: Ladies are kind of confusing and unpredictable.

Yet, we like them (love them, adore them, share our lives with them) and they give us the support we need to allow us to be who we are, and who we are supposed to become. So, in their honor, here is some advice:

  •  Thoughtfulness isn’t about doing what’s easy. It’s about doing something out of the ordinary (aka – a surprise). If finances are tight, surprise the lady by spending the money on a dinner and a movie. If finances aren’t tight, don’t just buy a gift because it’s easy and quick, but instead, make something…write a letter…draw a funny picture and put it by the coffee pot. It’s all about extra effort. They’ll notice. Trust me. They notice ev-er-y-thing.
  • Girls want to be planned for and thought about without having to make it obvious. Girls joke about dropping hints, but in reality it’s how men discover ways to “surprise” our wives. It can be a tricky balance (and you might have to be pretty quick on the draw to beat her to that second or third “hint”), but there is no greater joy to my wife than something that is truly unexpected – no matter how small – and there is nothing better than seeing her light up with joy and the pride of being a wife of a thoughtful husband when I really, really hit the nail on the head with a simple note, or a fun date she wasn’t expecting.

{Send her to to Boston to see her best friend, buy matching coffees, mow the lawn, get her that goofy mustache corkscrew she was eying, give her a Snuggie and Food Network magazine for Valentines Day…}

  • It’s a little hard to admit, but really listening and finding out what your wife wants is pretty of important. I’m still working on this piece – all of us guys are. Hints and all, it’s not naturally easy. But it’s our job as a husband to “figure out” our wives and discover what puts a spring in her step. When you continuously pursue and serve your wife, in turn, she will gladly love, respect and serve you also. Think of it as a life-long treasure hunt… it’s fun!

Now, the ladies:

So, lots of women out there might be saying to themselves, “My man doesn’t have a thoughtful bone in his body. I should just quit reading now, and copy and paste the “man” section into an email and send it to him at work.”  Well, just hold the phone, because it might not entirely be your husband’s fault… and sometimes (cough- dear wife – cough) getting an email at work isn’t the best way to communicate.

Hang with me here!

  • Create an environment that makes it easy for us to be thoughtful. You probably know what I mean: Jabs with nasty absolutes like, “You never take me to the movies” . Or, when you’re with friends, you toss out:“The last time you bought me flowers was when my car broke down and you made me walk home in the rain. Haha!” (but no one’s laughing and it’s awkward). News flash: These types of comments make a man never want to never take you to the movies! It makes a man want to buy flowers for you, stomp on them outside the grocery store and walk away! Okay, that’s a bit extreme, but truthfully, the negative assumptions and attitude removes the fun of being thoughtful, and puts a bunch of prideful hurdles in the way of loving acts.  Side note for men: We’ve all been there when our minds says, “She ‘wins’ if I buy her flowers after a comment like that.” As men, we need to overcome the jabs as our wives learn not to throw them.

{Make your home a place he wants to be, don’t ask for a room with a hot tub when he just surprised you with a stay at a resort instead of a Days Inn, let him have his game time – and have fun with unexpected tickets even if you’re just there for the hot dogs, wait until a relaxed and focused moment to talk about your dreams and desires…}

  • Lose your preconceived notions. Right now, you might be a little depressed. I can hear some of your thoughts now: “But my husband probably wouldn’t ever do the dishwasher or take me on a nice date or do anything that requires thought unless I remind him.” Don’t fret ladies; there is a right way to prompt thoughtfulness. It all starts with removing expectations. It’s a step that you just can’t skip, because when a man does put forth the effort to be thoughtful and you expect something else or something better it will kill their motivation to do it again. Just let go, and I promise that you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The next step is…
  • Bring it up at the right time. Finally, it is very important that you don’t mention the things that are special to you right when your man is doing something they are really passionate about or absorbed in. For example: It is not a good time to ask a man to go on a picnic during a football game that he has been looking forward to all weekend. It is a good idea to chat about your dream vacation, future plans or favorite piece of jewelry over dinner. I admit it. We aren’t good multi-taskers. Take this into account… and leave the door open for your husband to get it right.

If you don’t learn to be thoughtful, you will miss opportunities to love.

Thoughtfulness isn’t just for marriage, it’s for everyone. So, call a grandparent, bake brownies for a neighbor, give someone in pain a hug, facebook message someone who affected your life, and just plain seek out opportunities to love. Try to live an entire day by being thoughtful – It’s tough, but it’s worth it. Let us know how it goes!

Harvest Salad with {Apple Cider} Vinaigrette

Yes, there is squash involved. Avert your eyes now if you can’t handle another bite. But really… you’d regret it.

You are sort of getting this recipe third-hand: This dish was inspired by Steph, who was inspired by this dish from The Daily Garnish. The genius that she is (that’s a math teacher for you!), Steph substituted apple cider for orange juice in the millet recipe. As I was licking my fork after sitting down to dinner with her and her husband a few weeks ago, It dawned on me that it would make a delicious salad dressing. Boy, was I right! (Thanks girls!)

P.S. Little known secret fact about Steph: She loves Honda mini-vans. Shhhhh.

This salad is packed with everything I love about this season: Salty-sweet roasted squash, tangy Gorgonzola cheese, crunchy toasted pecans, tart dried cranberries and melt-in-your-mouth pan-fried cinnamon apples. I declare these match(es) made in heaven.

A perfect accompaniment to any meal (Like Thanksgiving…), but this delightful concoction could be great as a main dish as well. Add chicken, toast a crunchy baguette, and you’re set. (Or, you could have it at 9:00p.m. with leftover quinoa loaf and BBQ sauce like we did. Super classy.)

Harvest Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Serves 4 (ish) as a side dish

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

For the Salad:

  • One squash, thickly sliced – I used a Sweet Dumpling, but Acorn or even butternut would work as well (you would just need to peel and cube the butternut)
  • One to two apples, sliced – Depends on size
  • 1/3 cup of pecans, toasted and chopped- Can use without toasting, but they are more flavorful after a just a little bit of time in a dry skillet!
  • 1/3 cup Gorgonzola crumbles – Any strong cheese will work, and even Feta in a pinch.
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • About 6 cups of spinach or mixed baby greens
  • 1 T Earth Balance, or olive oil (or butter) for sauteing
  • A few dashes of cinnamon

Directions:

  • Slice squash, and bake on a foil-covered baking sheet with olive oil and salt at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until it starts to get a little brown and caramelized. You will probably have leftovers… never a bad thing.
  • While squash is baking, combine the dressing ingredients, and whisk. You will have plenty for a crowd, or just to save in the fridge for another day.
  • Toss the sliced apples into a skillet with the Earth Balance or olive oil, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Let them cook until tender (they will smell soooo delicious!), about 15 20 minutes minutes on medium heat. Note: These apples are wonderful on freshly baked biscuits with honey (like my mama makes)…or almost anything for that matter.

  • Arrange cooked squash, apples and other toppings over a bed of greens, and serve! I like to have my dressing on the side, but feel free to toss a little in with the finished salad if you like.

When you eat this salad, it’s like the entirety of the month of November is having a party in your mouth. You wouldn’t want to miss out on that, would you?!

So, slip on your comfy PJ’s best party dress, grab some leftovers baguettes, and enjoy…