Gingerbread cookies recipe

Mr. Picky asked me the other day if I would make cookies with him and I was this close to saying “Not today, sweetie.  I’m too busy.”  That would have been absolutely true.  We’re all so busy.  I don’t know anyone whom I have asked lately “How are you?” that hasn’t responded, “Really busy!  How are you?”  It’s not just this time of year either.  I feel like we’re running around at 90 miles an hour all year long.

In my classes and on my blog, I try to emphasize balance and moderation, yet I’m not so sure I practice what I preach with respect to finding downtime.  And as I had that thought, my daughters came home from school.  That is to say, they pulled into the garage in a car driven by Daughter #1 who turned 16 two months ago.  They walked in and all I could see was a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old.  I used to hate it when people told me kids grow up so fast, but the cliché couldn’t be more true.  It goes by in a nanosecond.  I can’t say my daughters have asked me recently to bake cookies with them, instead they invite their girlfriends over to stay up late and eat the cookie dough I keep in the freezer.  Believe me, I’m thrilled they even hang out at our house!  So last week I skipped writing a post that I thought would get published last Friday and instead baked cookies with my favorite little dude.  Totally worth it.

Mr Picky is a funny kid.  Some people joke with me that a boy who eats lentils and beans cannot be labeled “picky.”  And every year he adds more and more foods to the still narrow “approved” list.  But he doesn’t seem to like what most kids do such as buttered pasta, macaroni and cheese, pizza or sandwiches, not that I’m complaining.  His favorite cookies don’t contain candy or sprinkles, but instead are gingerbread.  And that’s what we decided to make last week.

Gingerbread cut-out cookies are a commitment.  It’s not like make a batter and spooning drops of it onto a baking sheet.  There’s chilling the dough, rolling it out, cutting it into shapes, decorating the cookies.  It’s a fairly simple dough to make and I don’t hold back on the spices.  But these cookies aren’t spicy, they’re just really flavorful.  Whole wheat pastry flour can be substituted with a gluten-free flour blend such as the King Arthur Multi-purpose GF Flour plus the addition of 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum per cup of flour.  Mr. Picky’s favorite part is decorating which I always keep pretty simple with raw sugar, currants or mini-chocolate chips.

We had the best afternoon.  It was so nice to have one-on-one time with him and chat about school, football and his favorite new book.  We also talked about the mystery of Santa and that this was definitely going to be the year that he stayed awake to watch him leave gifts under my parents’ tree.  Sweet.  Spending time in the kitchen with my son was such a gift and a reminder to me that the biggest joys in life don’t come from checking off my to-do list.

Gingerbread Cookies
Serves: makes 24-28 4-inch cookies
  • 4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or your favorite gluten-free flour blend +1 tsp. xanthan gum)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • a few grinds finely ground black pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup dark natural cane sugar (i.e. muscavado), or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup unsulphured molasses (not blackstrap unless you like that bitterness)
  • large grain sugar for decorating or mini-chocolate chips or currants
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or by hand), cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add the sugar and mix again until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Blend in the eggs one at a time and then the molasses. Add the flour mixture in two additions either by hand or on low speed. Divide the dough in two pieces, wrap each in plastic and chill for at least an hour.*
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper or Silpats.
  4. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop to about ⅛-inch thick and cut with cookie cutters of your choice. ** Reroll the scraps and continue to cut additional cookies. Decorate with sugar crystals, dried fruit or chocolate chips before baking. For softer cookies, roll out a little thicker. Transfer to baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes for 3-4-inch cookies (less for smaller cookies, more for larger.) I like to see a little tinge of golden color around the edges of the cookies. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes and then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
*Dough can be prepared up to 2 days in advance.

**If you are not comfortable rolling on your countertop, roll the cookies out on a piece of parchment cut to fit the baking sheet. Remove scraps. Then transfer the parchment and cookies to the sheet and bake.

Pumpkin oatmeal recipe

I always thought the strategy stopped once I served Thanksgiving dinner, but I actually think it’s just as challenging figuring out how to work efficiently with all the leftovers.  I really detest throwing away food, so I try to give away care packages to my guests before they leave on Thanksgiving lest I end up with more stuffing than we can consume in two days.  But instead of searching the internet for creative ways to use up our turkey and vegetables, my 14-year-old daughter had the answer all along — invite a bunch of teenagers over for dinner.  Brilliant!  Ten of her friends came over the day after Thanksgiving for a “pot luck.”  Each kid was supposed to bring a dish for everyone to share, but I think only one boy brought a tupperware of mashed potatoes and gravy.  Fine by me!  I don’t think there was a shred of turkey left in the fridge.

The only thing the kids didn’t consume were a few raw egg whites and some pumpkin puree leftover from roasting pumpkin for a couple pies.  The egg whites could easily find their way into a frittata, but I wanted to do something different with the pumpkin.  I love making oatmeal on Monday mornings.  It’s easy and starts the week off on a healthful note.  After the oats were finished, I stirred in the pumpkin puree along with the typical spices that I would use in a pie — cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.  Everyone added his or her own twist to this new oatmeal.  My husband added granola; Mr. Picky sprinkled on cinnamon-sugar; the girls ate theirs with pomegranates and walnuts.  But I think mine was the best of all — fresh diced pear, chopped pecans and this crazy delicious new maple syrup my husband discovered called Noble.  It was heaven — warm and comforting and nourishing at the same time.

I was really winging it with the measurements for pumpkin and the spices, so you can too.  I had a heaping 1/2 cup of puree, but because pumpkin doesn’t have a strong flavor, I think you can add up to a cup and not feel like you’re eating a bowl of squash with some oats mixed in.  As far as the spices go, cinnamon and ginger in particular are favorites of mine and they happen to be anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants, so I was fairly liberal.  But again, this is an easy “recipe” to adjust to suit your tastes.   Do you dare me to go roast another pumpkin so I can eat this again?  I just might….

Pumpkin Oatmeal
Serves: 4-5
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup steel cut oats (you can also make this with rolled oats -- just follow package directions for cooking)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • optional: additional drizzle of milk such as almond milk or raw milk
  • ½ - 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • toppings can include: fresh pear or pomegranate seeds, sautéed apples, granola, maple syrup, maple sugar, pecans, sliced almonds or walnuts, bananas, mini-chocolate chips
  1. For overnight oats: Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add oats and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand overnight. The next morning, reheat over medium heat, stirring in some milk (I usually use about ¼ -1/3 cup) if desired for extra creaminess.
  2. If making in the morning, cook oats in water with salt until tender, usually about 35 minutes. Add enough milk to achieve desired creaminess.
  3. Add pumpkin puree and spices to oatmeal and heat through. Serve with optional toppings.
To make 6 servings, increase water to 6 cups and oats to 1 ½ cups.


Sweet potato casserole recipe

baked sweet potato casserole | pamela salzman

There are a few recipes I make on Thanksgiving that I call “one-hit wonders.”  That is to say I don’t make them on any of the other 364 days in the year.   I’m no fan of stuffing, for example, so I keep the masses happy by making it on the holiday and then we forget about it until next year.  My Maple-Glazed Sweet Potato Gratin was in the same category for no other reason than it just seemed a little decadent to serve on a day that isn’t considered the biggest meal of the year.

about to roast

roasted and peeled sweet potatoes

baked, covered for 40 minutes

Just for fun, I recently tried a new sweet potato recipe which my kids absolutely flipped for.  Not only has this Sweet Potato Casserole bumped the former gratin out of the coveted spot, but my kids have begged me to make it multiple times since then.  My girls have even eaten it for breakfast and as an after-school snack.  I am crazy for sweet potatoes any which way and I am perfectly content with a nice big juicy one plain and simple.  So when recipes start adding cups of brown sugar with marshmallows or oatmeal cookie dough on top, I can’t take them seriously.  We’re going to try and keep things classy over here, ok?

simple, no-sugar, organic corn flakes


bake covered for 40 minutes, then add the topping

But there was something intriguing about this recipe from Food & Wine that I had to try.   Despite the pureed sweet potato base mixed with eggs, milk, butter and an obscene amount of sugar, I saw potential.  The topping is what really had me since I just love a contrast in textures.  I could already taste the silky puree with the light and crispy cinnamon-nutmeg flakes and nuts.  Even after I cleaned up this recipe by cutting the sugar by almost two-thirds, the casserole was still absolutely divine and a perfect complement to your Thanksgiving buffet.  It’s also super easy to  make if you have a food processor and can be done in advance (Thanksgiving magic words!)  By the way, I have also made this recipe dairy-free with success by using coconut oil instead of butter and unsweetened hemp milk instead of regular.  Since it’s already gluten-free, everyone’s happy!

bite of casserole out of the oven

What?  Did you just call me “trashy” behind my back for using cereal in a Thanksgiving recipe?  Guilty.  Maybe I deserve it.  You know what I say?  Worth it!

Ah, Thanksgiving!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Sweet Potato Casserole
Serves: 8-10 (on a normal day, but probably serves more like 14 on Thanksgiving if you have a lot of other side dishes)
  • 5 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, such as garnet or jewel, scrubbed (these are often labeled "yams" at the market)
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter or ¾ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt + a pinch
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup whole milk or plain, unsweetened hemp milk
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup pecan halves or pieces, about 4 ounces
  • 1 cup cornflakes, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup maple sugar or brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the sweet potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the oven until tender, about an hour, but could be more depending on size. Or you can also boil peeled, cubed sweet potatoes in water for 15 minutes or until tender and drain, but I think roasting the sweet potatoes makes then sweeter.
  2. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
  3. When the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin and place potatoes in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Do this in batches if necessary.
  4. Transfer the puree to a large bowl. Add half the butter (6 Tbs.), salt, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, maple syrup, and milk. Stir to combine and then stir in the eggs. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top with a spatula. Recipe can be made up to this point one day in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes.
  5. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Transfer the pecans to a cutting board and coarsely chop. In a bowl, toss the pecans with the cornflakes, cinnamon and remaining 6 tablespoons of melted butter, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, maple or brown sugar and a pinch of salt.
  6. Remove foil from casserole. Distribute small clumps of topping all over sweet potatoes. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes longer, until topping is golden and sizzling. Let casserole stand for 20 minutes before serving. ( I have also baked it covered for 30 minutes, uncovered for 30 and it still turned out great!)
You can bake this up to 4 hours in advance and serve it warm or at room temperature.


Perfect Apple Pie Recipe

I am teaching Apple Pie in my Thanksgiving classes this month and I thought I really should share the recipe with you too, my dear readers.  Perfect for Thanksgiving or if you’re hunkered down watching Election Day coverage tonight.  What is more American, classic and delicious in the fall than a homemade apple pie?  It just oozes love and hugs, don’t you think?  My boyfriend in college was so smitten when I made him an apple pie, I think it’s one of the reasons he asked me to marry him!  Still works!

In addition to pumpkin pie, apple has been on my Thanksgiving table every year since I’ve been married.  I make it the way I like it, not too sweet and not overly spiced, so you really taste the apples.  At this time of year, there are so many varieties of apples with different flavors and textures, and everyone has his or her favorite.  But I think the secret to the best apple pie is using a few different types of apples. When I make apple pie, I like to choose a sweet, a tart and a soft variety.  The flavors are more complex and texture is fabulous.

Do plan ahead when making any pie, especially if you are making the crust from scratch, which I definitely think you should!  Pies take a good hour to bake and I think they benefit from cooling a bit out of the oven.  The juices settle and thicken up and I think apple pie tastes better warm, rather than piping hot, but I know some of you will disagree.

If you are looking to do some of the work in advance, you can make your crust a few days ahead and refrigerate it or a few months ahead and freeze it.  You can also combine your dry ingredients for the pie filling ahead and keep the mixture in a covered container in the pantry.  Unfortunately, you will need to peel and slice your apples just before filling your pie, but it’s a fun activity to do at the kitchen table with your child or friends.  I bake two apple pies on Thanksgiving morning, but I make sure they are out of the oven before the turkey needs to go in.  When the girls were younger, they would always help peel and slice the apples while we watched the Macy’s parade on television.  It’s a lovely memory of time together in the kitchen, but it’s just a memory since the girls haven’t woken up before 11:00 am on Thanksgiving in a few years.  Although I’ll admit, the smiles on their sleepy faces as I pull those pies out of the oven is still just as precious.




3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (this gets used in the filling) + more for dusting countertop

1 recipe for double pie crust 

1 large egg yolk

1 Tablespoon heavy cream, half-and-half, or whole milk

1 pound tart apples, such as Granny Smith

1 pound sweet apples, such as Fuji

1 pound soft apples, such as Golden Delicious

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

¼ cup organic cane sugar + extra for optional sprinkling on crust

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


  1. Roll one disk of pie dough on a lightly floured countertop, regularly checking to make sure disk is not sticking to counter.  Roll into a 12-inch round.  Fit pastry into a 9-inch pie plate.  Roll second disk in the same manner.  Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate pie shell and 12-inch round until ready to fill pie.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and cream.
  3. Peel, core and slice apples crosswise into ¼-inch slices.  Transfer to a large bowl and mix in lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Combine well.  Arrange apple mixture in pie shell and dot with butter.
  4. Place the rolled out disk on top of the apples and press down gently.  Press together the dough at the rim of the pie plate to seal.  Tuck top dough under bottom dough and crimp around the edge as you like.  Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.  Cut three slits into the top center of the pie crust to allow steam to escape.  If pie dough is feeling very soft, place pie in the freezer until firm.
  5. Place pie on a baking sheet.  Bake 20 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Continue baking until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbling and have thickened, about 40-50 minutes more.  Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.   Pie can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.


Zucchini bread pancakes recipe

A few years ago, someone suggested I teach a class with a breakfast menu.  At first I didn’t think it was such a good idea because breakfast seems kind of easy, at least too easy to be taught in a cooking class.  In our house the rotations is oatmeal or muesli, scrambled eggs, smoothies, yogurt and granola, pancakes and leftovers from last night’s dinner.  But the more I thought about it, I realized there was a nice variety of fun, delicious and healthful recipes I could share.  Because I do believe breakfast is nutritionally the most important meal of the day, especially for children, I knew these recipes needed to provide sustenance, long-lasting energy and stable blood sugar.  My first breakfast class was a great success and I have continued the tradition every June (arbitrary selection of month) since then.

I tend to follow a similar formula each June based on what my family and I love to eat for breakfast, both on the weekdays and weekend.  I always teach a smoothie, muffin, egg-based dish and a pancake recipe.  When I was growing up, pancakes were for Saturday mornings when Mom had time and no one was rushing off to work or school.  I too love lingering over a plate of pancakes on the weekends, but by making the batter the night before and teaching my older girls how to cook their own, we enjoy them on a school mornings, as well.  If you’re thinking it’s a little boring to eat plain old pancakes twice a week, I would agree with you!  We add lots of different things to our pancakes while they’re cooking and the kids each seem to have their own favorite combo, such as fresh raspberries and mini-chocolate chips or diced banana and pecans.

But for my breakfast classes, I needed to debut more than just buttermilk pancakes with a different fruit each time.  I’ve posted most of my favorites by now, including oatmeal pancakes and pumpkin pancakes.  Both are really delicious!  After seeing a recipe by fellow Foodily tastemakerJoy the Baker, for carrot cake pancakes, I had an idea to make pancakes with the same flavors in zucchini bread.  To me, zucchini bread really isn’t about the zucchini, which I think is a little tasteless but does add nice moisture to muffins and quick breads.  I’m mostly in it for the sweet spiciness of cinnamon and nutmeg, perhaps combined with a few nuggets of walnuts.  What’s not to love?  And zucchini bread pancakes could be made with almost no added sweetener — so great!

These pancakes made it on the menu this past June and I think they were a big hit.  I made them successfully with several different flours, including whole wheat pastry, whole spelt, and sprouted whole wheat.  The latter two flours tend to create a thicker batter, so I used a bit less of those, but they made for a nice hearty pancake.  Whole wheat pastry flour is very light, almost mimicking white flour, but still has all the fiber and bran of whole wheat, which it is.  We also played around with adding pecans, blueberries or the oft-requested chocolate chips, but personally I love them completely plain with either a thin drizzle of maple syrup or a dollop of whole yogurt.  Such a delicious breakfast for the long weekend as well as for a first day of school.  I hope you all enjoy a fantastic Labor Day!

Zucchini Bread Pancakes
Serves: makes about 12 4-inch pancakes
  • 1 ¾ cups sprouted wheat flour or 2 cups whole wheat pastry, white whole wheat or whole spelt flour (or a combo)*
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • scant ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups buttermilk**
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • Melted, unrefined coconut oil or unsalted butter for brushing the griddle
  1. Preheat a griddle to 400 degrees or medium heat.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl or 4-6 cup measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup and melted butter until well blended. (A blender can do this easily, too.) Fold in shredded zucchini.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  5. Brush the griddle with coconut oil and spoon about ¼ cup of batter onto the griddle. Add blueberries, chocolate chips, diced banana or chopped walnuts to the surface, if desired. When bubbles start to form on the surface of the pancake and the edges become slightly dry, flip it over and cook until done. Maintain the heat on medium-low or 400 degrees.
*Gluten-free: substitute 1 cup buckwheat flour and 1 cup brown rice flour for the wheat flour. Or you can use GF oat flour, too, such as ¾ cup oat flour, ¾ cup buckwheat flour and ½ cup brown rice flour.

**No buttermilk? Sub half unsweetened yogurt and half whole milk. Or use 2 cups milk, omit the baking soda and use 2 teaspoons baking powder instead.

Pumpkin pie


There are very few recipes that debuted on my first Thanksgiving menu 16 years ago that are still going strong today.  Roast turkey, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes are staples year after year, as is a traditional pumpkin pie.  Despite all my rantings about how destructive sugar is to your health,  I honestly can’t imagine Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie.  I wouldn’t even care if no one liked it, I would still make two of them.  I remember the first pumpkin pie I ever made when I was in high school.  I followed the recipe on the can of Libby’s pumpkin puree and poured it into a store-bought pie crust.  Heaven.


Since then I have adjusted the recipe to be much more wholesome, and dare I say, much more delicious.  I traded in store-bought piecrust for homemade, canned pumpkin (bye-bye BPA) for freshly roasted (hello yummy rich pumpkin flavor), refined sugar for maple syrup (and much less of it), and canned evaporated milk for heavy cream.  Sure, heavy cream is rich in saturated fat, but I would rather eat a couple of spoonfuls of a high quality organic cream than canned milk.  Would you ever drink canned milk or feed it to your kids?  I didn’t think so.  I use organic raw cream when I can get it, or I buy a nonhomogenized, but pasteurized organic cream from Straus Family Creamery.  I have made a dairy-free version of this pie using coconut milk and it’s just as delicious (it does not taste like coconut, either.)  Of course there’s still lots of butter in the crust.  Last year, I made one pie with a white flour-based crust and another with a whole wheat pastry flour-based crust.  Only my sister-in-law and I liked the whole wheat one.  As my mother-in-law says, “You two like anything that you know is good for you.”  Partially true.  This year I will go back to all white flour pie crusts and the wholesomeness comes to an end right there.

Speaking of which, I am quite conscientious about consuming very little sugar during the year, but come Thanksgiving I feel like I have earned a piece of pie (or two) and I don’t feel bad about enjoying it.  The problem comes the next day when I’m looking for that sugar fix again at 4:00 in the afternoon.  And the next day.  And the day after that.  Guess what?  I’m not alone.  Thanksgiving starts not only the beginning of the holiday season, but a time when lots of people pack on a few extra pounds from overindulging too often.  I love celebrating just as much as the next person, but I definitely don’t love trying to lose weight (it’s not as easy as it used to be!)  I look forward to Thanksgiving dinner and dessert, especially after I’ve worked so hard to make it special and delicious, but this year I’m going to be a little more mindful the next day.  At least until Christmas.


Pumpkin Pie
Serves: makes one 9-inch pie
  • Pie Crust:
  • 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose white flour or spelt flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ cup (1stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2-4 Tablespoons ice water
  • Filling:
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup heavy cream or coconut milk (not light)
  • 1¾ cups fresh or canned pumpkin puree (1 15-ounce can)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 Tablespoons pure maple syrup or brown sugar
  1. Make the crust: Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the butter and pulse 10 times.
  2. Turn the food processor on and slowly pour in 2 Tablespoons ice water. Stop the machine and carefully (watch the blade!) grab a small handful of dough and squeeze it in your hand. If it holds together well, you’re done. If it’s crumbly, add another tablespoon of ice water and blend. The goal is that when you squeeze the mixture in your hand that it forms a moist, but not sticky ball of dough. Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap and shape into a disc. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, flour a rolling pin and roll dough into a 12-inch round. While you’re rolling out the pastry, you should always be able to move it easily around the work surface without sticking. Add additional dustings of flour as needed. Fit the circle into a 9-inch pie plate and crimp edges. Refrigerate if it feels too soft.
  4. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork. Line the crust with a piece of parchment (like the one the dough was wrapped in), and fill it with pie weights or dried beans (the ones in the photo I've had since college!). Bake until lightly golden around the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove parchment and weights. Return crust to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes until light golden all over. Cool completely on a wire rack (this can take up to an hour so you may want to turn the oven off.)
  5. Preheat the oven again to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the salt and spices (if you are using brown sugar instead of syrup, add the sugar now.)
  6. In a large bowl or with a mixer, whisk together cream, pumpkin puree, eggs and maple syrup. Add spice mixture and combine thoroughly.
  7. Pour mixture into the cooled crust and bake until filling is set (it will jiggle like gelatin, but it will be a little soft in the center), about 50-60 minutes. The filling will firm up as it cools. This can be made the day before. I like to keep it refrigerated.

Pumpkin pancakes with sauteed apples

Now that my daughters are teenagers (sigh), I encourage them to invite their girlfriends to have sleepovers at our house on the weekends.  I don’t always get my wish, but I do like having them home so I can keep an eye on everyone and then I don’t worry so much.  Not only that, but the girls’ friends give me more gossip than they do, and enquiring moms want to know!  Last weekend, my husband and Mr. Picky were away on a guy’s trip and I had 6 girls keeping me company.  I used to dread sleepovers because there would always be one early bird that would wake everyone up at 5:00 am and then you had a Miss Cranky Pants to deal with the rest of the day.  Let me tell you, some sleep mechanism kicks in when the kids hit middle school and then you can’t wake them before noon if your life depended on it.

Last Sunday, I was able to get in a workout and shower before I heard the first signs of life at 10:30 am.  Still foggy and misty out, I wanted to make a cozy breakfast for everyone.  I had cooked some fresh pumpkin puree the day before with pumpkin pancakes in mind — my absolute favorite!  Before I even got started, the 13-year-olds were mumbling something about not being hungry.  I would not be discouraged.  I noticed two sad-looking Golden Delicious apples on the counter that I knew no one would ever eat.   I decided to peel and slice those and gently saute them in a little butter while I preheated the griddle and assembled the pancake batter.

This is just a twist on the classic buttermilk pancake recipe that is a weekly staple in our house.  The pumpkin puree adds a beautiful copper color to the batter as well as a little Beta-carotene.  And then all those fantastic warming spices add the flavor that says Fall!  If you have pumpkin pie spice, I’m sure that would work fine here, too.  Just like my standard pancake recipe, you can make this batter the night before.  I have taught my girls how to cook their own pancakes, so very often I will leave the batter on the counter for them to cook with their friends at whatever time they saunter downstairs and I’m free to get my day going.

I normally just serve these pancakes with a little maple syrup or with this incredible apple cider syrup we picked up at a roadside farm in the Hamptons this summer.  The girls like to add chopped pecans to the pancakes when they’re cooking on the griddle, but the sauteed apples were a special treat and ridiculously simple to make.  When they were tender I drizzled on them the tiniest amount of syrup and a dash of cinnamon.  Crazy good!  I made a plate to photograph and then said to the girls, “Look how pretty this is.”  Their eyes bugged out and someone said, “Yum!  Like that actually looks good.”  Actually??  Like, whatever.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Sauteed Apples
Serves: 4-5
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour*
  • 1 ½ teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk**
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup fresh or canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Coconut oil for brushing the griddle
  • Sauteed apples as accompaniment, optional:
  • 2-3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • a dash of cinnamon
  1. Preheat a griddle to 400 degrees or medium heat. (On some stovetops, 350 or 375 degrees is fine.)
  2. If you are making the sautéed apples, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter and add the apples. Lower the heat slightly and gently sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon and toss to combine. Remove from heat.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl.
  4. In a blender or medium mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, pumpkin puree, maple syrup and melted butter until well blended.
  5. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  6. Brush the griddle with coconut oil and spoon about ¼ cup of batter onto the griddle. Add chopped pecans or walnuts to the surface, if desired. When bubbles start to form on the surface of the pancake and the edges turn slightly dry, flip it over and cook until done. Serve warm with sautéed apples or maple syrup.
To make the pancakes gluten-free, substitute 1 ½ cups of Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Mix + 1 ¼ teaspoons of xanthan gum or substitute ¾ cup brown rice or GF oat flour and ¾ cup buckwheat flour.

**You can also substitute half yogurt and half regular milk for the buttermilk. Or, use 1 ½ cups milk, omit the baking soda, and use 2 teaspoons baking powder instead.


Sweet potato-coconut soup recipe


sweet potato-coconut soup|pamela salzman

We are a family of soup lovers, which is great since soup is generally easy to prepare and I can put leftovers into a stainless thermos the next day in the kids’ lunchboxes (ok, just the older girls; my 7-year-old son won’t be caught dead at school with a thermos.  More on him in future posts.)

sweet potato-coconut soup|pamela salzman


Given how much soup I make during the school year,  it says a lot that this sweet potato-coconut soup might have been last year’s favorite.  It is silky and sweet with a rush of orange color that gets me emotional.  But the best part is a little kick of cayenne that is just the perfect way to balance the sweet.  I know, I know.  Those look like yams.  At least that’s what the supermarkets would have you believe and it seems everyone these days is using “yams” and “sweet potatoes” interchangeably.  But technically they are sweet potatoes (either Garnet or Jewel, I can’t remember), and furthermore, “Yam Soup” doesn’t sound very sexy.

Before you think this soup is just another pretty bowl of goodness, allow me to toot the horn of the sweet potato.  This delicious root vegetable is outrageously high in Beta-carotene, a phyto-nutrient that has powerful anti-cancer properties, as well as iron, fiber, potassium and Vitamin C.  In addition, sweet potatoes are excellent vanguards against heart disease.  And yeah, the color is so … well, sweet.

sweet potato-coconut soup|pamela salzman


For the vegetarians and vegans in the crowd, feel free to use vegetable stock or water in place of the chicken stock.  You might also note the coconut milk in the ingredient list.  There seems to be a lot of controversial information about coconut products.  My opinion is that you would be wise to consume coconut products the way you would any other high fat food – in moderation.  But there is a lot of interesting evidence which supports coconut’s anti-viral, anti-bacterial properties since coconut is super high in Lauric Acid, a fatty acid found in breast milk with immune-boosting properties.  But nutrition aside, the real reason to enjoy this soup is because it’s just like a cozy hug on a cold night!

sweet potato-coconut soup|pamela salzman


5.0 from 1 reviews
sweet potato-coconut soup recipe
Serves: 6
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes (often labeled yams –red-skinned Garnet or Jewel), peeled and cubed or roasted and peeled
  • 3 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 2-3 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • ½ 13-ounce can coconut milk*
  • several dashes or more of cayenne or to taste
  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and butter until melted. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the cubed sweet potatoes and toss to coat with the oil, butter and onions. Pour in the chicken stock or water, sea salt and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook partially covered until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the maple syrup, coconut milk and cayenne. Cook until heated through. Puree soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately or allow to sit off the heat to thicken slightly.
*If you prefer to use more coconut milk, use a full can and use 1 cup less chicken stock.