If you haven’t heard (and even if you have), Pope Francis is visiting Philly. This means many Philadelphians were given a “Popecation,” or in other words, days off from work while the city teems with secret service, disturbingly high fences that beg to be climbed, and millions of visitors from all over the World. While some braved the crowds, others got the heck out of dodge. And then there are those, who, like myself, stayed within a 5 block radius of the house and caught up on household chores, schoolwork, and drank a few boxes of wine.
Since I am finally caught up on sleep, can use the restroom at my leisure and am able to drink my coffee in its entirely before it gets cold (teachers, you get all of this, don’t you?!) I’ve had an abundance of energy and time to bring life back to this blog and to endure my passion of being in the kitchen.
Being that it’s sort-of fall-like weather in Philly, I’ve been feeling mighty nostalgic. Growing up in rural Ohio, fall was my favorite time of year. It meant cross-country meets on the weekends, Sunday drives that would end in apple picking and the entire house smelling like a bakery. Mom was always making something that smelled delicious and those smells would entice my teenage self away from the confines of my bedroom to the kitchen, where I would linger in hopes of taste-testing whatever it is that actually got me to turn off my Metallica CD and venture out of my hole.
So in honor of the Pope and the beginning of the best time of year, I decided to fill the house with all of the smells of my childhood to the best of my ability. I began with a hearty beef stew, which is exactly what I crave when the weather turns cool. While I don’t have a favorite beef stew recipe, I typically enjoy it more when it’s cooked in the oven versus the slow cooker. I almost always use a different recipe every time I make beef stew and this one did not disappoint. The highlight of this stew – the mash. I have come to adore leeks – they don’t have a dominant taste, but they smell so delicious when cooked. Mashed potatoes are always a hit, but this variation is certainly a keeper – just look at all the green! This stew is definitely a winner and one I’m filing away and making again in the near future.
Supper is not complete without dessert and while I’m not a fan of the PSL (pumpkin spice latte), I adore pretty much everything else pumpkin. I purchased a huge can of pumpkin puree and used only 6 Tbsp. to make the chewiest pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. So I guess that means I have more baking to do?!
If you’re in a hurry for something sweet, I don’t recommend this recipe as the dough must be chilled and the cookies need to cool completely before being inhaled. However, if you’re a chewy cookie fan like I am, you can table your impatience for a bit.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from: Sally’s Baking Addiction)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 c. light or dark packed brown sugar
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 6 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 c. flour
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- dash of nutmeg
- dash of cloves
- dash of all-spice (I added probably 1 tsp. accidentally – I have a heavy hand, apparently)
- 3/4 c. chocolate chips (more or less, depending on how much of a choc-o-holic you are)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter and sugars together with a whisk. Add in the vanilla and the pumpkin puree and mix until smooth.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking power, baking soda and spices. Add the wet mixture to the dry and then fold in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, longer if you have patience.
Spoon the dough into balls, flatten slightly and bake for 8-10 minutes. I had to flatten mine a bit when I took them out of the oven. Let cool and then enjoy with a huge glass of milk. Or wine. Preferably wine.