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’tis the season for baking, staying cozy and being jolly. And what could possibly get the job done better than a spicy gingerbread bundt, lovingly painted with a bourbon brown sugar glaze?! Let’s make it happen!

KATTY’S GINGERBREAD BUNDT WITH BOURBON BROWN SUGAR GLAZE
adapted liberally from King Arthur Flour

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter and flour a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, spices, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.

Using your mixer, beat together butter and sugar till fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add molasses and combine.

Add dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Start and end with flour. Mix till smooth.

Pour batter evenly into well-greased Bundt pan. I have a Nordic Ware heart shape I’m quite fond of.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Definitely check at 55–that’s all it took in my oven.

While the cake is in the oven, it’s time to make the glaze.

BOURBON BROWN SUGAR GLAZE
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon water

To finish:
2 tablespoons Maker’s Mark
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together butter, brown sugar and water. Bring to a boil for two minutes, continuing to whisk. Remove from heat; add Maker’s Mark, cinnamon and ginger.

Once you’ve taken the cake out of the oven, let it cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Then cover it with a rack and invert it to remove it.

While the cake is still warm, brush it generously with the glaze. Let it cool completely before serving. But we did enjoy giving each slice a quick go-round in the microwave to warm it, then served with Ashley’s vanilla ice cream.

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No Ashley’s near you? Froyo of Middletown always carries a dozen Ashley’s flavors. And Sweet Cream’s in Wallingford has a whole store of it.

This is one of those cakes that tastes good day one, better day two and potentially mindblowing day three, once all the flavors have a chance to soak in and meld. Hope you love it, too!

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If I must be known for something, I’m OK if it’s for my chocolate chip cookies (CCCs) in general. But these Oreo bombs? They’re crazy good and pretty much two-and-a-half cookies in one. With the pleasing combo of crispy and chewy, plus a whole ‘nother cookie inside, they’re huge–both in size and flavor! They’re especially wonderful right out of the oven. Let’s live large and bake some, shall we?

Cookie Monster is taking Metro North to my house right this minute!

Cookie Monster riding train

“Me on me way to Katty’s Kitchen! All aboard for New Haven and Oreo bomb CCCs!”

 

KATTY’S OREO BOMB CCCs

1 stick butter (salted), softened
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
½ cup dark chocolate Valrhona Guanaja feves, chopped
13 Oreos (just regular, not Double Stuf, please–otherwise, it will be even more challenging to cover them with cookie dough!)

Cream the butter and the sugars until light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add lightly beaten egg and vanilla; mix just till egg is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a separate bowl. With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients. Mix only until combined: do not overmix. Fold in chopped chocolate.

If you want to refrigerate these to bake later, make sure you roll the dough around the Oreos first, while the dough is still pliable, before you chill them.

I used my medium scoop, but made it a heaping scoop so there’s enough dough to completely cover the Oreo. Make it easy: split the scoop of dough in half, flatten it and wrap it around.

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Use a heaping scoop of dough.

Your unbaked Oreo bombs will look like this. Don’t stress if you break an Oreo inside. They bake up the same, regardless. These bombs get BIG, so I put just six per cookie sheet to give them room.

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. Bake for 11-14 minutes (14 in my oven) or until golden brown around the edges but still soft, almost not-quite-done, in the center. At the halfway mark, turn the sheets front to back and switch racks (7 and 7, up the river, down the river).

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This recipe yields 13 ridiculously, joyously, big, beautiful, AHM NOM NOM NOM Oreo bomb CCCs. You’re gonna love them!

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Whaddya get when you cross American chop suey with pasta e fagioli? Italian-American chop suey! No ground beef here, we’re talking sausage with San Marzanos,  a bell pepper plus some Italian long hots for heat, white beans, rosemary, thyme, red wine and a dollop of ricotta on top to make it nice-nice. ’tis the season for something warming, so andiamo–let’s go!

ITALIAN-AMERICAN CHOP SUEY

2 cans cannellini beans (small white beans are also fine), rinsed and drained
1/2 pound pasta (I love Sclafani double elbows a.k.a. cellentani)
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound Italian sausage (’round here, I love Longhini)
1 red bell pepper
2 Italian long hot peppers
1 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes (Cento is my brand of choice–buy whole ones and crush them between your fingers like the skulls of your enemies, HA HA HA!)
1/2 the 28 oz. can water, 1/4 can red wine
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce (such as Tuttorosso)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
pepper to taste
1 sprig fresh rosemary
a handful of sprigs of fresh thyme
whole milk ricotta to dollop on top of each bowl you serve

In a large pot, saute onion in olive oil with crushed red pepper flakes, rosemary and thyme till onions are golden. Add garlic. Add sausage, breaking up into small pieces as it cooks. *While you’ve got this going, bring a separate pot of water to a boil to cook your pasta.* Add peppers as the sausage is cooking. When sausage is completely cooked, crush each tomato between your fingers and add all the liquid from the can. Fill this can halfway with water and another quarter of the way with red wine. Add to pot along with the small can of tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Simmer 15 minutes or so. Add beans to warm, then add cooked pasta. Serve with a generous spoonful of ricotta and Pecorino Romano, if you like. Fresh parsley is always nice, too.

Found a cure for the colder weather right heah, amici–I promise this! Stay toasty!

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Magic cookie bars are a childhood favorite I’ve never outgrown. Today, I’m sharing them with a fall twist–fresh bits of apple and tart, chewy Craisins.

APPLE CRAISIN MAGIC BARS

¼ cup butter, melted
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup chopped dark chocolate (I used Valrhona Guanaja 70%)
¼ cup chopped Valrhona Dulceys (32% blond chocolate)
about ¾ cup flaked coconut—enough to make a generous coconut “snow” layer over the graham crumbs and butter
½ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup Craisins
1 small apple, diced (about 3/4 cup)–I couldn’t find my usual Macouns so I used a Smitten™ and really liked it
a bit more than ½  of a 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (SCM)
1 tablespoon bourbon to mix into the SCM (optional)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract to mix into the SCM
sprinkle of cinnamon for the top of the pan (optional)

Butter an 8 x 8″ baking dish. Melt butter, combine with graham cracker crumbs and ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, spread evenly over the bottom of the pan. Cover this layer completely with coconut, then nuts, chocolate(s), Craisins and apples. Sprinkle a bit more cinnamon over the top of the apples if you like. Stir 1 tablespoon of bourbon and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract into SCM, then pour evenly over the pan.

Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees F . Run a knife around the outside of the pan while still warm. Cool. Cut into bars or diamonds. Happy fall and happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your time with the ones you love and the ones who love you most.

Hope and Balashi

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It’s finally feeling like fall–a perfect time for soupin’ it up in the kitchen, and turning on the oven to roast tomatoes. All that sound good? Lasagna soup might be just what the weatherman ordered! I wonder if cousin Gil Simmons is listening?!

This recipe has all the delicious flavors of lasagna without being overly cheesy. Not that there’s anything wrong with being cheesy (HA HA, please, look who’s talking). But it’s plenty rich and hearty without ricotta or mozzarella. See if you agree!

LASAGNA SOUP

1 pint grape tomatoes
olive oil to coat the bottom of a large roasting pan
1 large sweet onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup vodka
1 pound sausage (patties, or casings removed from links) CT folks, I love Longhini!
1 red bell pepper, diced
5 oz. mushrooms (I used baby bella), sliced
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, if you have it
1 box (32 oz.) chicken stock (my fave is Kitchen Basics)
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup flour
1/2 pound lasagna noodles, broken (note: I found frozen lasagna noodles from Durante’s Pasta of West Haven at Shop Rite in Wallingford–SCORE!)
1 bag (6 oz.) baby spinach
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
fresh basil to garnish (optional), parsley’s always nice, too

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle olive oil to coat 9 x 13″ baking dish. Roll the tomatoes around in the olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Gently smash the garlic cloves with the side of your knife and add to baking dish. Make sure all the tomatoes are in an even layer. Roast in oven 10 minutes, then shake and put them back in for 10 minutes more. Then shake again and back to the oven 10 more for total of 30 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup vodka after you remove the pan from the oven. Sizzle-sizzle!

Watch the asterisks (*) for where we need to multitask a bit. 🙂

In a stock pot, cook sausage over medium heat, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Add pepper, mushrooms and thyme; cook 5-6 minutes. Add tomatoes/onions/garlic/vodka and chicken broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Add broken lasagna noodles, and bring to low boil. *Cook for 10-12 minutes (follow package instructions as a guide) or until the noodles are tender. Add spinach and cook for about a minute while stirring.

*While the noodles are cooking, in a separate smaller saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Whisk in 1/4 cup flour and continue cooking for 1 minute; whisking constantly. The butter/flour mixture should be bubbling. Slowly whisk in milk/cream until it’s smooth and thickened; about 3-5 minutes. Turn off heat and slowly whisk in Romano cheese. Once the mixture is creamy and the cheese has melted, slowly whisk into soup.

Now it’s time to serve. Garnish with basil or parsley and mangia, mangia! Serves four to six people, depending how hungry your people are. 🙂 Reheats very nicely, too.

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I saw a recipe for oatmeal cookies with peanut butter and pretzels and had to give it a try my own way. Based on Nanny’s recipe, as hers is my tried and true favorite, here’s this kat’s peanut buttery and crunchy spin on oatmeal cookies.

PEANUT BUTTER PRETZEL OATMEAL COOKIES WITH CHOCOLATE CHUNKS
3/4 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup peanut butter (I like Skippy creamy)
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups quick oats
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped (Valrhona in my house)
1/2 cup broken pretzel pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream peanut butter and butter till light and fluffy. Add sugars, egg, water and vanilla and beat together until creamy.

Sift together flour, salt and soda. Add to creamed mixture, blend well. Add oats and mix. Then add pretzels and chocolate and mix.

Original recipe calls for dropping by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. I used my trusty Zeroll Universal EZ Disher scoop (#60, pink). I love and highly recommend this scoop for perfect portioning!

Bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees F. In my house, 13.5 minutes is the magic number, but could be anywhere from 12-15 minutes at yours. Letting the cookies rest on the baking sheet a few minutes makes it easier to move them from sheet to rack.

Nanny, as always, I wish you were here to bake with me. And I hope, in some way, it makes you smile out there in the universe to know your traditions live on–not just through me, but through every new person who tries your recipes. Love you always.

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Nanny, Poppy and baby Jane (c. 1936)

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In a wondrous act of both Yankee thrift and ingenuity, I managed to get three pumpkin recipes from a single 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree:
last week’s pumpkin apple bread
last night’s pumpkin spice caramel budino
and now, these delightful pumpkin harvest CCCs.

Using my usual CCC recipe, I added fall spices and the last bit (1/3 cup) of puree. Oh, and pecans, because they taste like fall. Of course, I threw Maker’s Mark in there, too. It seemed wrong not to.

These cookies are soft and pillowy with the addition of pumpkin–and the spices lend a tasty twist to the classic, all-American cookie. Hope you love them. We did!

PUMPKIN HARVEST CCCs

1 stick butter (salted), softened
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon clove
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon Maker’s Mark
½ cup dark chocolate Valrhona feves
½ cup pecans, chopped

Cream the butter and the sugars until light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add lightly beaten egg, pumpkin puree, bourbon and vanilla; mix just till egg is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again.

Sift flour, baking soda, salt and spices into a separate bowl. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients in three passes. Mix only until combined: do not overmix. Fold in chocolate chunks and pecans.

Chill dough for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. I used an ice cream scoop to make big beauties. Space them 2 inches apart.

Bake for 11-14 minutes (14 in my oven, so that’s 7 minutes up and 7 minutes down). Turn the sheets front to back and switch racks halfway through.

Remove the sheets from the oven to cool a few minutes before moving the cookies to a cooling rack. Makes 22 cookies, but who’s counting?

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I hate to speak for the Cookie Monster, but since we share a birthday … I think he’d say these pumpkin harvest CCCs are AHM NOM NOM NOM!!!