Pumpkin Lentil Soup, Pretzel Bones and Vampire Cookies

Pumpkin Lentil Soup, Pretzel Bones and Vampire Cookies

Pumpkin Lentil Soup

2 Tbsp. oil
1 onion, chopped
1lb. sausage
6 cups chicken stock
2/3 cups dried lentils, rinsed
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 cans (15oz.), black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 tsp. salt
5 cups fresh spinach

In a 6-qt. stockpot heat oil, sauté onion until tender, add sausage and sauté until through cooked.
Add stock, lentils, cumin, oregano and bring to a boil. Cook uncovered over medium heat until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
Stir in beans, pumpkin, salsa and salt until combined and return to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes and stir occasionally.
Stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 3-5 minutes.

Pretzel Bones
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, or more as needed
1 (16 ounce) package refrigerated pizza crust
1 tablespoon cornmeal, or as needed
6 cups water
1/2 cup baking soda
coarse salt
Lightly flour a work surface. Place dough on flour and sprinkle more on top. Begin to knead dough, kneading about 2 tablespoons flour into dough until it is soft and supple but not too sticky, 5 to 10 minutes. Cover with a large bowl and allow dough to rest and come to room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal.
Place water in a deep skillet. Whisk in baking soda to create an alkaline bath. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Adjust heat to keep water at a low simmer while you shape the dough.
Dust dough with a sprinkling of flour as needed so that dough does not stick to work surface. Flatten slightly and divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a 12 to 14-inch rope and tie a knot at each end.
Transfer pretzels in batches to simmering alkaline bath. Boil about 30 seconds per side. Transfer to prepared sheet with slotted spoon. Immediately sprinkle with coarse salt while pretzels are still wet and sticky. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before baking.
Place on center rack in preheated oven until beautifully browned, and stretch marks have formed, about 20 minutes. Exact times will depend on the specific size and shape of your pretzel.
Transfer to a rack to cool a bit.

Easy Vampire Cookies for your Halloween Ghosts and Goblins
1 package of prepared sugar cookie dough that is in a tube
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam (or strawberry jam, if you prefer)

Slice refrigerated dough (that is in tube form) in rounds that are about 1/8 of an inch in thickness. Place half of the rounds on a baking sheet that is either greased or is lined with parchment paper.  Place 1 tsp. of jam in the center of the rounds. Top with remaining rounds and seal the edges lightly. Use a toothpick or tip of a paring knife to prick two small holes on the top of each cookie. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 325 degrees (or until the cookies are set). Jam will escape from the two holes as they bake making it look like a vampire bite. Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet and place on a cooling rack.

 

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