Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

 This recipe is adapted from a recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine, October 2004)

These cookies really make the season.  They are even better with cream cheese frosting.  There is a synergy that happens when you add this frosting to them.  When my sister and I were young, our mother took us to a bakery somewhere on either Palm Blvd or Central Blvd. in Brownsville, Texas that made soft carrot cake cookies with cream cheese icing.  These cookies remind me of these a little.  They are soft, like mini cakes, with yummy frosting.

2 ¾ Cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt

2 ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

1 ½ tsp. ground ginger

¾ tsp. ground nutmeg

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, preferably Plugra, softened

2 ¼ cups packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 ½ cups (14 ounces) canned solid-pack pumpkin, preferably organic

¾ cup, evaporated milk

1 tsp. vanilla



Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Fit a pastry bag with a large coupler and a ½ -inch plain round tip (such as Ateco #806).

(You can also use a Ziplock freezer bag, fill it with batter, and snip off a corner of the bag and pipe the cookie rounds this way.)

 Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

 Cream 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) butter, and brown sugar on medium speed in the bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment, until pale, about 3 minutes.  Mix in eggs, scraping down sides of bowl, as needed.  On low speed, add pumpkin, ¾ cup evaporated milk, and 1 tsp. vanilla; mix until combined about 2 minutes.  Add flour mixture; mix, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed until well-combined. 

 Transfer 1 ½ cups of batter to pastry bag, or into Ziplock bag.  Holding tip close to parchment paper, pipe 1 ½ inch rounds 1 inch apart.  Repeat with the remaining batter.   I made mine 12 cookies per sheet.

 Bake until tops are springy to the touch, about 9 minutes.  Let cool on sheets 5 minutes;  transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

 Frost with cream cheese frosting. (recipe follows)



Cream Cheese Frosting



Have the cream cheese cold and butter at room temperature


In a medium bowl of an electric mixer, beat with wire whisk attachment until just blended:


8 oz cream cheese

5 Tbs. butter

2 tsp. vanilla

pinch of kosher salt


Add one-third at a time, and beat until just smooth and the desired consistency:


2        to 2 ½ Cups powdered sugar, sifted.


If needed, add a tablespoon or two of whole milk or cream.


If frosting is too stiff, beat for a few seconds longer.  Do not overbeat.


This keeps refrigerated, up to one week, or freeze for up to three months.  Soften and stir until smooth before using.



Easy Sauteed Brussel Sprouts

I made these tonight. While I love to cook vegetables and am proud that my kids eat them well, I had never made brussel sprouts before and I was a little nervous. I made broccoli as well just in case. The verdict? There was a little broccoli left over but no sprouts. Yay!

1 package/1 lb. fresh brussel sprouts

2 tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil

splash of balsamic vinegar and/or red wine

kosher salt/ freshly ground pepper

crushed red pepper flakes

1 clove of garlic

1 tablespoon honey

Rinse, dry, and slice brussel sprouts into halves. Add oil to a cast iron skillet and heat on medium high to high heat. Add brussel sprouts and sautee for 2-3 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and/or wine and the remaining ingredients. Toss to coat. Cover and cook at a reduced heat (low) for 10 minutes until tender.



Single Crust Pie Dough

This is the crust I made for the Marlborough Pie.  It was pretty easy to make, and tasted great.  Hopefully, with more practice, I can make mine as pretty as the photo in the magazine!


Makes enough for one 9-inch pie


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
  • 3–4 tablespoons ice water


  • 1. Process flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until combined. Add chilled shortening and pulse until coarsely ground. Add chilled butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to large bowl.
  • 2. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons water over flour mixture. Using rubber spatula, stir mixture until dough forms. If dough remains crumbly, add remaining 1 tablespoon water. Form dough into 4-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. (Dough can be frozen, wrapped tightly in plastic and aluminum foil, for up to 2 months. Thaw completely at room temperature before using.)
  • 3. Let chilled dough soften slightly at room temperature, about 10 minutes. Working on lightly floured work surface, roll dough into 12-inch circle. Transfer dough to pie plate. Trim, fold, and crimp edges.
  • 1. Cover unbaked pie shell with plastic wrap and refrigerate 40 minutes, then freeze 20 minutes. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line chilled pie shell with two 12-inch squares of parchment paper, letting parchment lay over edges of dough. Top with pie weights and bake until surface of dough no longer looks wet, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • 2. For partially baked crust, transfer pie shell to wire rack and carefully remove parchment and weights. For fully baked crust, carefully remove parchment and weights and continue to bake until crust is golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Pie crust may be cooled completely or used warm, according to particular recipe. (Fully baked pie crust can be stored at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, for 2 days.)

Marlborough Pie

 From Cook’s Country

October/November 2012

This is a fantastic pie–a creamy, flavorful custard with shredded apples. 

My husband is a self-described “pie guy”.  He is all about pies.  He discovered this pie  several years ago, while  he was on a long road trip listening to”Talk of the Nation” on  NPR and they were talking about the history of apple pie.   This is the link to the story:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4187512  

 Notes: I recently saw this recipe in the current issue of Cook’s Country and had to make it.  As you will see in my photo at the bottom of this post, my crust did not look perfect, but it tasted really good, which I guess is what really matters!  I will post the recipe for the crust separately.  However, if you are nervous about pie crusts, feel free to use a good store bought one.  Marie Callender’s is really delicious.   I used my food processor to grate the apples and it was quick and easy.  It is really important to use two kinds of apples–one of them should be Granny Smith (for tartness) and the other something fragrant like Gala or Fuji.  I used “Summer Field Apples” from the Malibu Farmer’s Market and they were delicous. I used “Very Dry Sherry” because that is what I had and it worked perfectly.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: This lesser-known New England dessert combines the comforting apple-and-spice flavors of traditional apple pie with silky custard. Using equal parts sweet and tart apples gave us just the right balance of flavor. Grated apples leached moisture into the custard, making it grainy, but a quick sauté in melted butter evaporated moisture (thereby concentrating flavor) and softened the fruit to tender perfection. We enhanced sweet, rich custard with lemon, vanilla, and a dose of sherry before combining it with the apples. Then we baked the whole thing in our favorite pie shell, which we had parbaked to keep the crust flaky and crisp.

Serves 8

Total time:

Find our recipe for Single-Crust Pie Dough (see related content) or use your favorite store-bought dough; prebake according to the recipe instructions. Shred the apples on the large holes of a box grater. Store the pie in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.


4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and shredded (2 cups)

2 Fuji, Gala or Golden Delicious apples, peeled and shredded (2 cups)

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup heavy cream

5 tablespoons dry sherry

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 9-inch parbaked pie shell, cooled


  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add apples and cook, stirring frequently, until pan is dry and apples have softened, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer apples to bowl and let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
  2.  Whisk sugar, cinnamon, mace, and salt together in large bowl. Add eggs, cream, sherry, lemon zest, and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add cooled apples and stir to combine.
  3. Pour mixture into pie shell and bake until center is just set, about 40 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack, about 4 hours. Serve.


Sausage and Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pizza


Sausage and Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pizza

This is a quick and tasty supper. 

For the pesto:

In a food processor, chop ¼ cup hulled toasted pumpkin seeds with 1 small clove of garlic, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ Parmesan, and 1 cup tightly packed arugula.  Slowly add ¼ cup olive oil.

Spread a thin layer on pizza dough and top with mozzarella and feta, cooked sweet or spicy sausage and thinly sliced red onions. 

Bake on a cookie sheet or a pizza stone at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes.

I used “Stonefire” ready made pizza crust.

Roasted Sweet Potato Tostadas


Whether you call them chalupas or tostadas, this recipe will be a hit with your family. Take chalupa shells (purchase baked ones or toast corn tortillas in the oven until hard and crispy) and top with your favorite toppings such as mashed beans, avocado, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and my new favorite, roasted sweet potatoes. See recipe below.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

4 sweet potatoes

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

1-2 garlic cloves


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash, peel, and cut sweet potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Place in a large glass or ceramic baking dish. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and add crushed garlic that is well coated in olive oil. Carefully toss. Bake an additional 15 minutes or until pieces are soft and caramelized.



Quinoa, Nectarine, and Snap Pea Salad


This is my new favorite summer and late summer salad!

I made a few changes to the original recipe (substituting orange marmalade for mangy chutney, apple cider vinegar for rice wine vinegar, and salad greens for watercress). I also added diced avocados because I love avocados. I think your family will enjoy this. Mine did! (Even the kids.)


Adapted from: Curried Quinoa Salad with Nectarines and Sugar Snap Peas from July/August edition of Vegetarian Times.


8 oz. fresh sugar snap peas or snow peas

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

2 Tbs. curry powder

2 and 1/2 T. apple cider vinegar

2 T. orange marmalade

1 and 1/2 T. olive oil

2 small nectarines or peaches cut into wedges

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

2 cups greens

2 small or 1 large avocado, diced

1. Cook sugar snap peas in sauce pan of boiling salted water 1/2 to 2 minutes or until crisp tender. Transfer to paper-towel lined plate with slotted spoon to drain.

2. Stir quinoa and 1 T.  curry powder into the same pot of boiling water. Cook 14 minutes, or until quinoa is tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Meanwhile whisk vinegar, marmalade, and 1 T. of curry powder and olive oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

4. Toss together snap peas, nectarines, onion, and avocado into a large bowl. Add greens.

5. Drain quinoa, and rinse under cold water to cook; drain again. Add quinoa and dressing to salad and toss to  coat.


Alton Brown’s Gazpacho

I love Alton Brown.  I’ve really enjoyed watching his shows over the years. I found this recipe on the Food Network’s website. 

This soup is so refreshing on a hot day.  Also, right now, tomatoes are plentiful and good. I made a few changes to the recipe:  I did not seed the tomatoes, but  I did peel them as he instructed.  I think with everything blended together in the food processor, I didn’t feel it was worth the trouble.  I also did not have bottled tomato juice. I did not add the onion.  I doubled the amount of lime juice and served it with Jalapeno Tabasco sauce.  The results were fantastic!  

P.S.  The  recipe as it is written got great reviews.


1 1/2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

Tomato juice

1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 lime, juiced

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chiffonade



Fill a 6-quart pot halfway full of water, set over high heat and bring to a boil.

Make an X with a paring knife on the bottom of the tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds, remove and transfer to an ice bath and allow to cool until able to handle, approximately 1 minute. Remove and pat dry. Peel, core and seed the tomatoes. When seeding the tomatoes, place the seeds and pulp into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl in order to catch the juice. Press as much of the juice through as possible and then add enough bottled tomato juice to bring the total to 1 cup.

Place the tomatoes and juice into a large mixing bowl. Add the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno, garlic clove, olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the mixture to a blender and puree for 15 to 20 seconds on high speed. Return the pureed mixture to the bowl and stir to combine. Cover and chill for 2 hours and up to overnight. Serve with chiffonade of basil.

Prep Time: 45 min

Slow Cooker – Soy Ginger Chicken

I found this recipe on marthastewart.com It’s really tasty!  I think it would be great served with braised baby bok choy or some wilted green, or snow peas along with the jasmine rice.
I made a few changes based on the reviews on the website–specifically browning the chicken pieces before adding them to the slow cooker and cooking for the shorter time of 3 hours on low.  The recipe on the web suggested 6 hours, but reviewers said that was way too long.  The dish was flavorful, moist, savory–a winner.
Serves 4

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons dark-brown sugar

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus sprigs for garnish

1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches long), peeled and cut into thin strips

5 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal (1 cup packed)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

4 chicken drumsticks  and 4 thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds total), skin removed

2 medium carrots, thinly sliced crosswise

1 tablespoon cornstarch

For Serving

cooked white rice


1     In a 5-to 6-quart slow cooker, stir together soy sauce, sugar, garlic, cilantro, ginger, 1/2 cup scallions, vinegar, coriander, and pepper.   In a saute pan on the stove, heat a little canola oil and brown the chicken pieces.  I used boneless chicken thighs and left the skin on the chicken legs.   Add chicken to slow cooker and carrots; toss to coat. Cover, and cook on low until chicken is tender, about 3 hours. Using a large spoon, skim off and discard any fat from surface of cooking liquid.

2               In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water. Ladle 1 cup cooking liquid into measuring cup; whisk to combine. Pour into a small saucepan, and bring to a boil; cook until thickened, about 1 minute. With slow cooker turned off, stir in cornstarch mixture. Serve chicken with white rice, and garnish with cilantro sprigs and remaining 1/2 cup scallions.


Eggplant and Fig Pizza on a Cornmeal Crust


This pizza is very similar to the heirloom tomato and ricotta pizza from recent post. I just varied up the ingredients. See link: https://twostatesoneplate.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/heirloom-tomato-and-ricotta-crust

I am so glad I discovered these crusts (Vicolo Corn Meal Pizza Crusts) and they are so good. While I like to make my own homemade crust, I don’t always have the time so these are a wonderful alternative. They are even available at HEB! They bake up amazingly using a pizza stone. The crust is dense and crispy. So delicious with seasonal roasted vegetables on top, fresh basil and your favorite cheese! The possibilities are endless!



1 corn meal pizza crust

1 medium sized eggplant, cut into slices

2 figs, cut into slices

1 cup ricotta cheese or goat cheese

Parmesan cheese (optional)

Garlic slices

Olive Oil

2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Bake pizza crust for 15 minutes and remove. Place eggplant slices on a roasting pan with olive oil to coat, and salt and pepper. Allow to roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Place eggplant onto pizza crust  along with slices of fig and slices of garlic.  Top with spoonfuls of ricotta cheese or goat cheese.  Sprinkle with grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, if desired. Add salt and pepper.  Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and top with chopped, fresh basil. Serve and enjoy!

*Tip for using pizza stone, allow pizza stone to heat in the oven while the oven is preheating. Slice pizzas onto stone when ready cook. Assemble the pizzas on a separate cutting board and transfer assembled pizzas into the oven. Be careful! Remove cooked pizza and transfer to cutting board. Allow pizza stone to slowly cool. Sudden temperature changes may result in cracking of the pizza stone.