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Spice up the Season

Food Feature

Written by Kelli Terpsma

The fireplace is back in use. Gloves, sweaters and coats hang in closets. Timeless recipes reemerge from where they’ve been stowed. While many of us have our favorite seasonal recipes, winter can be the perfect time to hone your baking skills and try something new. Here are three easy treats to add to your collection that’ll make your house smell better than a Yankee candle and warm your loved ones from the inside out.

Chai-Spiced Poached Pears | Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 Bosc pears
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ tbsp. cardamom seeds
  • 1 tsp. five-spice powder
  • ½ cup dried unsweetened cranberries
  • Peel of one lemon

Instructions: Place everything except the pears into a medium saucepan and set burner on high. Peel the pears and slice off a small cross section from the bottom of each to create a flat surface, allowing the pears to stand up. When the mixture begins to boil, add the pears to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer the pears, rotating occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the middle of each one. Note: This may take different amounts of time for each pear, depending on ripeness. When ready, remove the pears from the mixture and set aside. Continue to simmer the mixture on low for another 40 minutes to an hour until a concentrated syrup remains. Warm the pears in a microwave before serving and drizzle with the syrup. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Coconut Oil Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ginger
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • cup coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ 15-ounce can of organic pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup water

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream together the sugar and oil. Add eggs one at a time, stirring to mix between each addition. Then incorporate the vanilla and canned pumpkin. When combined, introduce the dry ingredients a little at a time. Mix in the water. Pour the batter into a bread loaf pan that’s been lightly greased with coconut oil and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Orange and Gingerbread Pinwheel Cookies | Makes three dozen

Ingredients:

Orange Layer

  • ⅔   cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Zest of one navel orange

Gingerbread Layer

  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tbsp. molasses
  • 2 tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg

 

Instructions: Using an electric mixer, make the sugar cookie dough by combining all wet ingredients from Part 1 and sifting in the dry ingredients. Remove the dough from the mixer and divide in half. Roll one-half of the dough between two sheets of wax paper into a 16-by-8-inch rectangle. Add the other half back into your bowl and begin Part 2 by adding in the flour, molasses and spices. As with the first half, sandwich this half between two sheets of wax paper and roll into a 16-by-8-inch rectangle as well. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes. When dough is set, place one half on top of the other and roll dough together (along the short side) into a log to create the pinwheel spiral.

If the dough is cracking, wait a minute or two to allow it to soften and then try again. Wrap the 16-inch log with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and remove the dough from the refrigerator. Cut into quarter-inch rounds and bake for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through, until the surface looks slightly cracked and the edges are just barely browned. Cool before serving. Pairs well with eggnog.

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