White Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies

I’m sure by now it’s no surprise that I LOVE all things pumpkin, so prepare yourself for a few more recipes :-)

When my friend Hannah visited last week she brought me a tupperware full of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that I promptly devoured. Once they were gone, I knew I had to re-create them.

Even though I love to bake, I’m not the biggest fan of measuring/following directions (um, yes – I realize this is usually essential for baking). I went with my instincts last night and the result was healthy and delicious (tooting my own horn, just a bit)!! I based the recipe loosely on these pumpkin cookies, but my final version was modified quite a bit.

white chocolate pumpkin cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of ginger and nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1.5 cups light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs (preferably organic)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 3.5 oz Lindt white chocolate bar, chopped into small pieces
  • small handful of dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees and grease a large baking sheet
  • Whisk together flour, spices, and baking soda in a medium bowl
  • Beat together the sugar and butter until creamy
  • Mix in applesauce, eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla
  • Slowly incorporate flour mixture just until combined
  • Stir in the pecans and white chocolate and dark chocolate chips
  • Drop heaping Tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on top

These cookies have a very light, fluffy textures (almost like little pumpkin breads!) and the white chocolate is a surprisingly good compliment to the pumpkin. To assist in her post-marathon recovery, Alma sampled 6 cookies and declared them “delicious!”.

And now….for my next trick, homemade pumpkin puree! Inspired by Christine, I set out to make good use of a small pumpkin that had been serving as a living room decoration. I bought this lil’ guy over a month ago and it was still perfectly edible. Yay, winter gourds!

Instructions:

1) Wash the pumpkin, cut a hole in the top, and scoop out the seeds/innards. Then cut the pumpkin in half and then into medium sized chunks (leave the skin on).

Sugar pumpkin

2) Put the pumpkin chunks in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the bowl from the microwave (be careful! bowl will be hot), stir, cover with new plastic wrap, and microwave for 10 more minutes.

Cooked Pumpkin

3) After pumpkin is finished cooking, allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. Then remove the pumpkin rind – I used a spoon to scoop the flesh into a separate bowl. I was doing this around 11:45pm on a Saturday night…real cool, I know.

4) Mash the pumpkin and store in a tupperware or small bowl until ready to use! I have plans to make some pumpkin risotto with my homemade puree.

Pumpkin Puree

This pumpkin was probably one of the best dollars that I ever spent. The gourd served as a decoration for over a month, yielded nearly 2 cups of pumpkin puree, and I plan to season and roast the seeds.

Hooray for pumpkin!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy pumpkin? In a pie? In a latte from Starbucks? As a jack o’ lantern?

8 miles of success

I had plans to run 6 miles on Wednesday morning, but I ended up feeling so good that I ran seven eight miles. Edit: I just used my Nike+ sports band and discovered that this run is longer than originally thought. Woo-hoo! Alma and I ran along the Bridle Path in Central Park early in the a.m. and I had absolutely no pain in my hamstring or IT band. I think the key is running slowly and only running 3-4 days a week. I’m trying to build up the mileage gradually, so that I don’t back-track into injury. I still haven’t decided for sure, but I *might* run the Greta’s Gallop half-marathon in a few weeks. I ran Greta’s back in 2007 and it was my first ever race in New York City/Central Park. And during last year’s Greta’s Gallop, I met Alma! This is one of my favorite races, so it would mean a lot to me if I could do it (even if my time is very slow)!

Pre-run fuel was a cup ‘o coffee and half a luna bar – I’ve noticed a big difference in how I feel when I have a small snack a few minutes before running.

luna bar

IT band problems? Runner’s World has a great tutorial on stretching and strengthening that pesky body part. I’ve tried the stretches and I think they really help   :-)

Highlight of the 9am hour: overnight pumpkin oats for breakfast!

  • 1/3 cup each of oats, greek yogurt, 1% milk, and pumpkin
  • chopped peach, handful of raisins and walnuts
  • cinnamon, maple syrup, honey

Overnight oatmeal

I had meetings most of the day, so lunch was quick. The weather is dreary, so I needed lots of color in my salad!

  • romaine, shredded carrots, red onion, mushrooms, roasted potatoes
  • kidney beans and chickpeas
  • tastings of pasta salad and tomato-mozzarella salad
  • whole grain croutons, feta cheese, craisins
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinaigrette

Salad

Afternoon snacks were sunchips and some delicious mini-muffins from my co-worker. She used my pumpkin-chocolate chip bread recipe and they were SO good :-)

sun chips

Pumpkin muffins

My early evening was occupied with a top secret baking project (to be revealed soon) and some yoga. I need to go to a formal yoga class ASAP – it always makes me feel so much better. By 8pm I was starving for dinner. I had some leftover homemade pizza dough, so I baked up another mozzarella and tomato creation. This time I remembered to add chopped, fresh rosemary to the dough and it really made the flavors pop. I love when the mozzarella cheese gets crispy and bubbly – the key is to bake the pizza in a VERY hot oven.

Homemade pizza

Tomato and mozzarella

With POM juice + seltzer:

POM and pizza

Dessert was a sampling of my freshly baked goodies. I had to make sure they tasted alright ;-) I can’t share the recipe yet, but I’ll give you a hint: peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, and M&Ms were involved!

Candy!

Time to finish up Season 2 of Gossip Girl. I still haven’t watched this season’s premiere!

Question: If you could only eat 3 foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?

For me, it would be peanut butter, greek yogurt, and veggie pizza!

Speaking of delicious food, check out this mac ‘n cheese restaurant that just opened up in New York. The Primavera mac with spinach, artichoke, fresh herbs, tomato, parmigianno, and feta sounds soooo good. Any locals want to try it out??

Soul Cycle

Although I  spend way too much of my discretionary income on my gym membership, I can never seem to motivate myself to go to group classes. In fact, I had to bribe myself with Starbucks before going to  pilates on Sunday. However, pilates, yoga, or spinning with a friend is much more exciting! Despite the $32 price tag, I jumped at the chance to go to a 7:30am spinning class with Katie this morning. $32? 7:30am? Yes, I realize this sounds a little crazy….

The alarm clock beeped at 6:30am and I actually felt somewhat lucid (the mosquitos must have been feasting on someone else last night!). After some coffee, it was time to head downtown.

I arrived at Soul Cycle a few minutes before class started, rented my clip-in shoes, and hopped on a bike. As we started to warm-up, a blog reader named Ellen recognized me and introduced herself. I get so excited when that happens!

And then, class began…45 minutes later, I was a sweaty mess. I think this is the hardest I’ve ever worked in a cycling class. The instructor was very energetic (in a good way) and even incorporated some upper body strength training. We did a few minutes of spinning + arm weights that made me want to cry.

Soul Cycle

Pros: Great instructor, awesome music playlist, challenging workout.

Cons: Pricy, tiny studio, clip-in shoe rentals are an extra $3.

Bottom line: If I ever win the lottery, I will sign up for a package of classes. My legs felt like jell-o after 45 minutes – definitely got my money’s worth :-)

Katie was a good sport and participated in a sweaty post-workout photo. Obviously, our appearance attests to how “for-real” the class was :-)

Soul Cycle

After a much-needed shower at the gym, I found a sunny bench in Columbus Circle and devoured my breakfast – overnight pumpkin oatmeal!

Pumpkin oats

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • chopped apple
  • handfull of raisins and walnuts
  • tsp each of maple syrup and brown sugar
  • lots of cinnamon

The night before, I mixed everything together and let it sit overnight in the fridge. Delish.

Another cup o’ coffee was needed:

Cappuccino

However, 2.5 hours later I was STARVING again. Luckily, I had just enough Nature’s Path flax plus pumpkin granola left to hold me over until lunch.

Pumpkin granola

At 1pm, I dashed down to the cafeteria and loaded up a very colorful salad. I enjoyed it in Central Park while reading my newest issue of Health Magazine.

Salad

  • mixed greens, shredded carrots, red onion, mushrooms
  • scoop of lentil & feta salad
  • bit of white bean and artichoke salad
  • bit of sun dried tomato pasta salad
  • whole grain croutons, craisins, and balsamic vinaigrette

On my walk back to the office, I snapped a photo of my leopard print flats. Wearing these shoes always make me so happy :-)

Leopard flats

Afternoon snack was a baggie of Stacy’s sea salt pita chips. I have to portion these out or else I will eat the entire 8-serving bag at once. Seriously, so good.

Pita chips

Snack #2 was a Dr. Weil Goji Moji bar. Loved the orange zest in this fruit and nut bar. I was hungry today!

Goji Moji bar

On my long walk home (I think today might be the end of the warm weather…) I was treated to some beautiful views of the city:

The Upper East Side

Once I got back to my place, it was time to start thinking about dinner. I toasted a slice of Ezekiel sprouted grain bread and topped it with jalapeno hummus, laughing cow cheese, and a black bean veggie burger. On the side: carrots with peanut butter!

pb, hummus, laughing cow cheese

Black bean burger

Dessert was the last of the pumpkin chocolate chip bread with a dollop of greek yogurt and more peanut butter. Mmm.

Pumpkin bread

Time for some netflix and an early bedtime! I have plans to run 6 miles in the morning :-)

30-day Vegetarian Challenge Update: Today was day 15 and besides being a bottomless pit (which is probably from the early a.m. spin class) it’s been easy-peasy. However, last night I had a dream that I forgot about the whole vegetarian thing and ate a burger. I woke up feeling pretty confused, but then I realized it was just a dream!

Want the health benefits of wine, in your dessert? Check out this new all-natural, dairy, gluten, and fat-free wine sorbet. Mmm, pairing it with a little dark chocolate sounds perfect!

Question: What made you happy today? For me it was all my pumpkin-themed foods!

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