Happy Wednesday world! It’s post-election day, which means I am a happy camper because now the campaign ads are finally over. Unless you’re Louisiana… which stinks. But not here in Colorado, at least. Hooray! Otherwise, I am also excited that it’s Wednesday because that means I leave TOMORROW for Disney World with the hubs to meet up with our friends Mr. and Mrs. BakeNBurn for the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon and the renowned Food and Wine Festival in Epcot!
We all will arrive in Orlando late Thursday evening, but with enough time to rest up for a full day on Friday! Friday morning we will be heading out to the Expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, where we will pick up our bibs, tech shirts and other goodies. After that we’ll head out to the Magic Kingdom for a full day of fun and festivities. On the docket are riding Buzz Lighyear’s Space Ranger Spin, tackling Space Mountain, and making our way through Pirates of the Caribbean. One of the elements I am most excited for that day is finally dining at Be Our Guest inside the Beast’s castle!! Ever since my last visit in February I have been longing to dine there, and we finally got the chance! That night is the first night of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which should be a blast given all the rides, treats and shows that will occur throughout the night. It should be a phenomenally incredible first day in Disney.
Saturday is race day, so we plan to rest as much as possible during the day, and fuel up as needed. I envision lounging by
the pool and an afternoon doze session. That evening we’ll head out to the race area at around 6:15pm. The race actually begins at 10:00pm, and we’re all starting in corral H, so we will have a bit of time to wait, but this way we’re there and won’t be in a rush. This race will differ from the Princess Half Marathon as it goes through three parks, including Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and ends in Epcot. Because it’s all at night, the parks will be lit up (especially the Osborne Family Lights in Hollywood Studios!), and Christmas decorations will adorn the entire facility. Disney does an incredible job keeping the runners entertained en route, even between the parks, with characters, music, and the ChEAR squad, so I doubt there will be a dull moment along the way. After the race, there’s a huge finish line party, with food, drinks and lots of fun to be had. Although it’ll be around 1:00am in the morning, I think we’ll make the most of it before heading back to the resort.
On Sunday we will make our way to Epcot to indulge in the Epcot International Food and Wine festival around the showcase of nations. This part I am particularly excited for given my foodie nature. Dozens of countries (beyond those typically represented) will have booths set up with local flavors and national delicacies. I am SO excited to taste my way around the world, and I am sure the boys are excited to drink around the world too!
Sadly on Monday we depart, but not until later in the day to allow for a lazy morning. We’ll probably get a bit breakfast, lounge by the pool a bit more, pack up, and head to the airport. All in all, I am so excited for this little getaway and racecation with the hubs and our dearest friends!
But before I head out on my magical adventure, I still have work and a fun fall-themed potluck with another advising office on campus to look forward to. In the spirit of the season, our two offices decided to have a chili cook-off! A few of my coworker made variations of chili, others brought in sides and fixings, and I, of course, brought dessert! I didn’t want to make my go-to pumpkin bread as I brought that to our last potluck, but knew I still wanted to bake with pumpkin. So I hopped on the internet and searched for chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Thankfully it brought me to one of my favorite baking bloggers, Sally’s Baking Addiction. I previously made her birthday cake blondies, which were a HUGE hit with the hubs and my office, so I thought I would give her cookies a try. I am a big fan of chewy cookies as well, as chocolate chip cookies should be, so I wanted something similar that wouldn’t end up cakey or crunchy.
As Sally explained, pumpkins are primarily water, and typically watery cookie batters produce cakey cookies. To avoid this, the recipe calls for melted butter, which helps to glue the ingredients together (rather than make the batter fluffy), and remove the eggs as the pumpkin will act as an adhesive and moistening agent. So without further ado, Sally’s Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!
Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup light or dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 Tablespoons pumpkin puree (I used the rest in another of Sally’s amazing recipes!)
1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour (I used Hungarian High Altitude Flour)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 and ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (plus some extra to add to the cookies after removing them from the oven)
Melt the butter over the stove or in a microwave safe bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Add the vanilla and pumpkin until smooth. Set the wet ingredients aside.
In a larger bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and, if you’d like, a ¼ teaspoon of cloves (I typically do not use cloves, due to family preference). Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a rubber spatula. The dough will form into a ball and be fairly soft. Fold in ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. It may be difficult to incorporate them evenly, but work them through as best you can. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes, or up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator, and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into balls, about 1 ½ Tablespoons of dough each. Press down on the dough balls and flatten them because the cookies will only slightly spread in the oven. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will look very soft and underbaked, but trust me, this is how you want them so they’ll remain nice and chewy. Any extra time in the oven will cause them to dry out and become hard. Remove from the oven and press a few more chocolate chips onto the tops, if desired. If you find that your cookies didn’t spread much at all, flatten them out when you take them out of the oven.
Allow the cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring to a wire rack. The more cooling time they have, they chewier they are! Store the cookies in an airtight container and they should last up to a week. Enjoy!
Have you ever been to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival? What did you think? What was your favorite dish or nation? Are you as obsessed as I am with all things pumpkin?