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by Sarah Steimer

These cookies are basically a cross between gingerbread cookies and chocolate chip-walnut cookies. Perfect in every way.

  • 7 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Chop chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks (unless you were smart enough to get chips or morsels); set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and cocoa.

Beat butter and grated ginger until combined. Add brown sugar and molasses, again beat until combined.

In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Add in baking-soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. Mix in chocolate.

Place dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pat dough out to about 1-inch thick; seal with wrap and refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more (I prefer overnight).

Roll dough into 1 1/2- inch balls. Dip the top half into the chopped walnuts, pressing to make sure they stake in the dough. Place on a cooking sheet with either Silpat or parchment paper, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes until the dough firms back up (it is very sticky).

Bake at 325 for about 10 to 12 minutes. The cookies will seem rather soft when you take them out, but they firm up as they cool. DO NOT overbake or else you will be eating hockey pucks for a few days.

Makes 24 cookies.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart

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by Sarah Steimer

I definitely talked this pie up to my family, so let's all hope I don't ruin it for Thanksgiving. Trying to maintain the "best daughter" image I've created.

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree,* or canned
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 egg for glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • pate brisee pie dough (recipe here)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream (can use the rest of the carton for whipped topping – just add a little cinnamon!)

*For the pumpkin puree

Use a pie pumpkin – such as a sugar pumpkin or long pie pumpkin – that is about 1 1/2 pounds. Do not use just any pumpkin, as some are stringier than others.

Using a sharp knife, pierce the skin of the pumpkin, going all the way through. Place in a glass baking dish and fill with about 1 inch of water.

Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour, or until a butter knife can be easily inserted into the pumpkin.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Slice in half and remove the seeds. Scoop out the flesh and puree in a blender or food processor. Make sure there are no stringy bits and the puree is the same consistency throughout. Keep refrigerated.

Using my excess dough, I cut out leaf shapes with a cookie cutter. I brushed the leaves with the same egg wash used on the crust, sprinkled them with a little cinnamon and baked them on a cookie sheet for about 10 or so minutes.

For the pie

In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin puree and 3 eggs. Beat well. Add evaporated milk and combine.

Once your pate brisee has set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours (hope you followed directions), roll it out into a 12-inch circle or so. The crust should be about 1/8 of an inch thick. Place the crust in a 9-inch glass pie dish and cut off the excess edges, leaving about 1/2-inch overhang. Pinch edges to form a decorative edge, if you so please.

Beat the remaining egg together with the tablespoon of cream and brush the crust, being sure to get into all the nooks. Fill with the pie mixture.

Place the pie on a baking sheet in the oven (not sure why, but I was afraid to find out). Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes more. When I switched the heat, I took the pie out to let the oven lower its temperature and put foil over the crust edges – because you can never be too safe.

When the pie is done, the very center should still be a bit wiggly. Let cool on a wire rack for at least an hour.

Serve with whipped cream.

Recipe: Martha Stewart

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by Sarah Steimer

This is a fantastic recipe - but it does require a couple hours to prep and cook. It pays off, though, when all you have to do is reheat your dinner for a few nights.

  • 3 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
  • nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter OR olive oil
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • nine lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 4 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (1 1/4 cups)

Toss squash, oil and 1 teaspoon salt on a baking sheet. Season with pepper. Bake at 425 degrees until light gold and tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Combine ricotta, cream, yolks, mozzarella and a pinch of nutmeg in a medium bowl. Season with salt.

When I'm cooking for just Bill and I, it's better to use a smaller pan. I go with an 8-by-8-inch pan and make a little more than half the recipe.

Melt butter (or heat olive oil) in a small saute pan over medium-high heat. As soon as it starts to sizzle, add sage and cook until light gold and slightly crisp at edges, 3 to 4 minutes.

Place squash in a medium bowl, and mash 1/2 of it with the back of a wooden spoon, leaving the other 1/2 in whole pieces.  Gently stir in sage-butter mixture and stock.

In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, layer ricotta mixture, noodles, squash, noodles. Repeat – in that order – two more times, ending with the noodles. Top with the Parmesan. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is browned and a little bubbly.

Serves eight.

Recipe: Martha Stewart

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by Sarah Steimer

Treat yo'self*

  •  2 cups apple cider
  • 2 tea bags – choose something mild, such as rooibos
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 shots of bourbon or whiskey
  • water

Fill two glasses with 1 cup of cider each. Bring your water to a boil on the stove, then let it sit for about a minute (don’t want to burn the tea). Add the water and a tea bag to the cider. Distribute the 1 tablespoon of honey and two shots between the glasses.

Garnish with a thin slice of apple, cut width-wise so you can see the seed star. You could also try rimming the glass with sugar and cinnamon for an extra kick.

Makes two glasses, served hot.

*

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by Sarah Steimer

The flavors are very good, but very intense. This is definitely better as a side dish than a main dish.

  • 3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into   1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • pepper, to taste

Melt butter in a wide-brimmed sauce pan.  Add chopped rosemary and cook on medium-high until butter has slightly browned.

Add chopped butternut squash and toss until thoroughly coated with rosemary butter.  Add apple cider. If the squash is not submerged, add water. Season with salt. Bring to a boil then lower heat to simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender.

I may use a little less cider and a little more water next time. I can get down with cider - but I'm more of a salty/savory gal when it comes to dinner.

When nearly finished cooking, add apple cider vinegar.  If there is too much liquid left in the pan, turn up the heat and cook off remaining liquid quickly until left with an amber glaze.  Add more salt and pepper, to taste.

Serves about four to six as a side dish.

Recipe: Local Flavors

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by Sarah Steimer

I could eat this every week in the fall. These are literally my favorite flavors in the universe.

  • 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
  • about 10 Brussels sprouts, rinsed and quartered
  • handful of pecans
  • handful of dried cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons blue cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Wash the sweet potatoes and pierce the skin all over with a fork. Bake the potatoes at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a knife can be easily inserted into the potatoes.

When the potatoes have about 15 minutes left in the oven, toss the Brussels sprouts in olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a metal or glass pan. Roast for about 15 minutes or until the leaves begin to brown and crisp.

Once the potatoes have cooled to where you can touch them, slice lengthwise and apply pressure to open. Top with the roasted Brussels sprouts, cranberries, pecans and cheese.

Makes two servings.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart Living

Photo: Sarah Steimer

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by Sarah Steimer

This is only I think the third soup I've ever made - I'd much rather have something hearty like a chowder than some salty, brothy debacle.

  •  4 large or 5 small ears of corn, kernels removed and cobs reserved
  • 2 1/2 cups low-fat milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, plus 3 cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups sliced leeks
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry (I used dry red wine)
  • 12 ounces peeled sweet potatoes, cut into a medium dice
  • 1/2 pound green beans, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

Combine kernels, milk and crushed garlic in a saucepan. Run the back of a knife down the cobs to release milk and pulp into the saucepan, then add as many cobs as will fit in the pan. Bring to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and let steep.

I made the full recipe and wound up with waaay too much chowder on my hands. Either make sure you have people to share this with or cut the recipe down.

Heat butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat (I’m sure a good, sturdy pot with a tight-fitting lid would work well, too). Add the leeks, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occassionally. Add minced garlic and

paprika, cook for 30 seconds. Stir in sherry (or wine), cook 30 seconds. Add 4 cups water, remove pot from heat.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add sweet potatoes and saute for 8 minutes, or until browned; transfer to the Dutch oven.  Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to same skillet, add gren beans and saute for about 3 minutes. Transfer beans to plate.

Bring mixture in Dutch oven to a boil, reduce heat to medium0low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add green beans and cook for 4 minutes m ore.

Discard corn cobs from the milk mixture and stir the mixture, along with 1 tablespoon cilantro, into the Dutch oven. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with remaining cilantro.

Serves about six.

Recipe: Vegetarian Times

Photos: Sarah Steimer

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