Ahoy Matey

Miles will be dressing up as a pirate this Halloween. There have been a lot of "Ahoy Matey!" and "Shiver me timbers!" type of statements coming out of his mouth all month. He's even been singing "yo ho, yo ho, yo ho, yo ho, yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me!" (I guess he really likes saying "yo ho"). Tomorrow he'll be dressing up for his party at school, which of course he's super excited for. And tomorrow night we'll carve our pumpkins at home in preparation for our chili and cinnamon rolls on Friday night.

To get our pumpkins, we made our annual trek to Tanaka Farms last weekend. We love this huge pumpkin patch, and Miles had so much fun running up and down the rows of pumpkins, climbing on hay bales, and petting animals in the petting zoo. They also have a cannon out of which they shoot pumpkins onto the hillside. It's pretty crazy watching the pumpkins soar into the air and then smash against the hill. Miles never got tired of watching it.

So, as a we prepare to celebrate Halloween, I wanted to share my recipe for spiced cider with you. It's super easy, and I love the way my house smells when I make it. I'll serve this with my cinnamon rolls on Friday night; it would also be good with other fall treats like my pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, or pumpkin cake. Even if you're not having company, you could make it for yourself to enjoy in the evenings by reheating the leftovers in a mug in the microwave for a few days (strain the liquid if you plan on saving it). Either way, I hope you make this soon. Have a great Halloween!

Spiced Apple Cider

2 quarts apple cider or apple juice
1 large orange
4 cinnamon sticks
10 whole cloves

Using a vegetable peeler, peel large strips of zest off of the orange. Place in a large saucepan along with the cider, cinnamon sticks, and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Turn heat down to low and simmer, with lid on but cracked, for one hour to allow flavors to blend. Continue to simmer on very low heat until you are ready to serve.

Serves 12-16


More Pumpkin

In case you made the pumpkin bread from my last post, and are wondering what to do with the pumpkin puree you didn't use, pumpkin cookies are your answer.


I started making these delightful little cookies (adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis) last year and must have made them about half a dozen times that fall. They are spiced with allspice and cinnamon and get a great chewy texture from oats. I like to mix in cranberries and pecans, but you could do raisins or other types of nuts. I love that it's now pumpkin season so I can enjoy these cookies for the next couple of months. Oh, and they best part - not only are they tasty, but they are also vegan, which means you don't need to feel bad if you scarf down a few.

Pumpkin Cookies with Cranberries and Pecans

1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup raw sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped, toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, oats, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, syrup, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined. Stir in the cranberries and pecans.

Drop batter in generous tablespoons onto the prepared sheets, spacing at least 1 inch apart. Using wet fingertips flatten each cookie into a 1.5 inch round. Bake until the edges are lightly browned and cookies are slightly firm to the touch, about 17-20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

Makes approximately 24 cookies. 

Note: Can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. 



Summer came and went in an instant this year. I've been extremely busy (more on that in an upcoming post), and therefore very absent from this blog for a while.

However, today I decided to usher in fall by doing some baking. Yes, a heat wave is going to hit southern California for the next few days. But, my Halloween decorations are up, and as soon as the calendar reads "October" I have a deep need for all things pumpkin.

Last year I made a pumpkin cake. Today I wanted something quick and easy and less sweet. Something that could work for breakfast, or a snack or even after dinner. Enter pumpkin bread.

Miles already ate two pieces after it was cool. Maybe I'll let him take a piece to school tomorrow. Yes, my little man stared preschool!

Pumpkin Bread

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (grate it fresh yourself, if possible)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk (I used almond)
3/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and all spices. In a large bowl whisk together granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. Whisk in pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 the milk, then another 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the remaining milk, and finally the remaining flour mixture. Fold in nuts if using. Do not over mix.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45-55 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Serves 8-12.