Happy Birthday and National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

I always like to bake something to send to Poppa for his birthday.  How many golf hats and shirts can you have?  Although we did that too – sshhh.  When I realized today was Chocolate Chip Cookie Day (no it’s not on my calendar, another blogger informed me) I figured that was the start.  Trying something different I was inspired by a vegan chocolate mint cookie recipe.  I made some tweaks to reduce oil, omit nuts and amp chocolate and here’s what I came up with.  I had to pack them quickly and remind my kids they were (mostly) for Poppa.

Oatmeal Chocolate Mint Cookies

The mint and spices make set these apart from the same old chocolate chip cookie recipe.  They have a scone or cake like texture because of the lack of butter and addition of applesauce.  These can be made vegan by choosing dark or vegan labeled chocolate chips.

Makes about 24 cookies

2 cups flour

1  1/2 cups chocolate chips

3/4 cups rolled oats

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch ground nutmeg

2/3 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup applesauce

3 tablespoon canola oil

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place dry ingredients, first six listed, in a large bowl and mix together.

Combine wet ingredients in a medium bowl.

Add wet to dry ingredients and mix well with a rubber spatula.

Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.  Drop dough on prepared sheets by heaping tablespoon or small ice cream/cookie scoop.  Gently press with spatula.  Cookies will spread so leave room between.

Bake until golden brown on bottom, about 12 minutes.  Let cool on sheets.




Cake Ladies Cookbook Review and Applesauce Spice Recipe

So my oven as you know has had a few issues lately (like ruening off in the middle of my whoopie pies).  But a few days later a repairman came to fix it.  Probably is when he came, it turned on no problem.  Isn’t that always the case?  He probably thought I was crazy.  So he left and we discussed a new part that I may need to be sure it doesn’t happen again.  As soon as he left, since the oven was working I got out Cake Ladies, Celebrating a Southern Tradition by Jodi Rhoden.  I had been reading the stories of these lovely southern women (chefs, cooks, moms, grandmas, etc) who loved to make cakes as part of their heritage.


We were heading to friends for a large playdate so I thought I’d make and bring the Applesauce Spice Cake from Lois Mims in Pine Apple, Alabama.  Lois’ story is about using her intuition to cook and not measuring or writing things down.  Luckily she estimated for this recipe to share in the book.  And luckily my oven remained working through the baking.


Pros:  Fun stories of real women living in the south and the importance of their baking to their family, community and history.  Lovely, inspiring pictures.   A cake for everyone and every occassion – even vegan cupcakes.

Cons: Each recipe is by a diffrent lady, thus some are not as consistent or exact (heaping teaspoons etc).  Not surprinsigly, many are time consuming recipes.

Applesauce Spice Cake

1 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 cups self rising sugar divided

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1 heaping teaspoon clove

1 cup applesauce

1 cup whole shelled walnuts, coarsely chopped*


3 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar*


Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350F.

Spray two 9 inch round cake pans with cooking spray and set aside.

Mix the Batter

Combine the oil, eggs, and sugars in a stand mixer.  Beat until light and fluffy and fully creamed.  Add 1 cup of the flour, and spices and beat until just combined.  Add applesauce and combine.  Then remaining flour.  Combine.  Add walnuts and fold in with a spatula.  Beat until just combined.

Bake the Cake

Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans.  Place pans in oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the sides of the cake pull away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from oven and cool in pans on a rack for 5 minutes before inverting onto racks to cool completely.

Make the Glaze

In a separate bowl combine the milk and the powdered sugar.  Mix with a fork or whisk until no lumps of powdered sugar remain.

Assemble the Cake

When the layers are cool, place the first layer on a plate.  Drizzle 1/4 cup of the glaze overt the first layer to cover the surface.  Allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides a little.  Place the next layer on top of the first and repeat with remianing glaze.  Applesauce spice cake can be kept at room temperature covered for up to one week.

*Lois Kitchen Wisdom

“Way back yonder we didn’t have no mixer.  When my mama used to fix the cake we had to beat it 300 strokes every time.”

(Note: I substituted peacans since I didn’t have walnuts.   Also I sifted the powdered sugar for the glaze to be sure it was smooth)




The Apple Feast

Because of all the apples we’d harvested at the u-pick, I was inspired.  And admittedly a little over the top with my obsession with making an apple meal.  By this I mean, using apple as an ingredient in each food.  Also I also must admit, it was tasty and fun, and we now have only about a dozen apples left.


Note: I suggest if you have an abundance of apples – make applesauce of course.   This was great for my son who can’t enjoy raw apples easily with his new mouth hardware.  It can be swirled into yogurt, oatmeal and ice cream.  And also is a great way to create moist and nutritious baked goods.  This week I made apple banana bran muffins for my kids’ school snack.


Anyways… we invited our friends over for dinner, who we picked apples with.  Luckily they weren’t too burned out on apples (or just too polite) to go with my theme.  Over the course of a few days of planning and prepping we were ready for our apple feast.  Our guests were creative and brought two wonderful sides that went perfectly.  (No really.  I can’t say how much I appreciate it when someone offers and actually brings something that goes with the meal, rather than just bringing something because they think they should.  Your host doesn’t want extra food for that meal, unless you’re assigned.  O.K. so yes, that it a pet peeve of mine.).

Here was the menu…

Butternut-Apple Soup

Mini Grilled Cheese and Sliced Apple Sandwiches on Raisin Toast

Corriander Spiced Pork Chops (Sunset mag Oct. 2011) with Applesauce (very Brady Bunch)

Apple Slaw with yogurt dressing – thanks Anne

Mixed Greens with apple slices, candied peacans and blue cheese – thanks again Anne

Apple Pie with caramel drizzle and vanilla ice cream

We started the evening with apple bobbing.  This was a great activity to use those little tiny apples we picked.  The kids had fun coming up with ways to get the apple (nope, the stem is cheating) and finally dunking in head first (my son had seen this in a contest at school last year).

As far as the kids were concerned they were most excited about the first course (soup and sand) and dessert course.  No surprises there.  I was quite happy with the pork chops (thanks Sunet and Lee for grilling) and ate more than my share.  I can’t remember the last time we made them at home.  But I will again. (Note: the recipe has the chops with plum chutney, which I skipped due to the applesaue)

soup and sand
pork, apple sauce and salads

Here’s the soup recipe because it is so easy and perfect on a chilly autumn night.  I like to roast a halved butternut squash in the oven a day or two ahead, then scrape out flesh to make this soup even quicker.

Butternut-Apple Soup

(adapted from Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry)

This is a simple, sweet and aromatic soup that only requires a few ingredients.  It can be enjoyed with a salad and bread for a nutritious lunch or dinner, or as a comforting autumn snack on a chilly day after playing outdoors.

Makes 7 cups; 7 servings

1 tablespoon expeller-pressed canola oil or other vegetable oil

1/3 cup chopped onion

1 pound peeled, cut cooked squash (can buy prepackaged in produce section) or 2 pounds whole butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 medium organic Fuji apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped

1 (14-ounce) can organic low-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup water

1 teaspoon fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup organic milk

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in squash, apples, broth, water, thyme, salt, and pepper. Heat over high heat until boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring often until squash and apples are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (If not using precooked
squash, you’ll need to increase cooking time by 15 to 20 minutes.)

Spoon one-third of squash mixture into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Be careful: Mixture is hot and steam can burn when processing. Pour puree into bowl and continue processing remainder of squash mixture. Soup can be made
ahead at this point.

When ready to eat, return puree to saucepan and stir in milk. Heat through over medium heat until hot.

(Babes and Soup. Just remember many children do not like foods too
warm, so serve at room temperature for the youngest. Because this recipe has
cow’s milk, it should not be served to those under one year.)