Fall Treats and Sweets: HCPL Staff Recipes

All the fun of Christmas and all the great food of Thanksgiving, with none of the stress—that's October. Sure, down in Houston, we don’t always get the picturesque autumn trees or the refreshingly cool breezes, but we definitely know how to whip up the fall ambience in the kitchen. 

Here are a few of our favorite recipes for a tasty fall treat! 

Banana Bread by Leslie E.

Although I am a big fan of pretty much everything savory, fall is a sweet flavor to me. And baked goods are my favorite avenue to that taste. For the longest time, cookies were basically the only thing I could make. So banana bread was a big step up for me. Luckily, it turned out delicious, especially when I added the chocolate chips. 

This is the recipe I used, and it was a hit! Among family, friends, and coworkers alike, so I definitely recommend it. Banana bread does require a bit of prep though, since you do need the bananas to be overripe. Plus side, if you already have some mushy bananas, you’re good to go. 

For this recipe, you’ll need 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups mashed overripe bananas
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Chocolate baking chips are optional! You add them when you add the walnuts.
You’ll preheat the oven to 350 degrees and the baking time is 1 hour. 

You can also check out these cookbooks for their recipes on banana bread! 

Bake! Essential Techniques for Perfect Baking by Nick Malgieri - A great introduction to banana bread and baking in general. 

BAKE: My Best Ever Recipes for the Classics by Paul Hollywood (yes that Paul Hollywood from The Great British Bake Off) - For if you want to make your banana bread fancy. 


Pumpkin Bread by Natalie B.   

When you hear pumpkin bread, your brain automatically associates it with cool, crisp fall weather, cozy sweaters, and the delicious food that comes along with the holidays. This recipe is the epitome of the Fall season in a bread loaf. It’s also super easy to make! I’m always the pumpkin pie maker for family holidays, but these last couple years, I’ve decided to mix things up and found this  recipe that is a great pumpkin pie alternative. My family and friends absolutely love it, and it’s delicious with or without a dollop of whipped cream on top. Here is the recipe I found online from Natasha’s Kitchen.  

Here are the ingredients to this recipe:  
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar 
  • 1 tsp baking soda, sifted to eliminate lumps 
  • 2 tsp baking powder  
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature 
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (or vegetable/corn oil) 
  • 15 oz can pumpkin purée  
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
  2. In a second bowl, whisk together pumpkin purée, oil and eggs.
  3. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and transfer to 2 buttered/floured loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes. 

I personally alter the recipe a little bit by adding a a dash of nutmeg and ginger to give it more of a pumpkin spice flavor, and each year, it’s always been a hit!  

I hope this is a recipe you and your loved ones can try, and enjoy, this holiday season! And don't forget to check out the other great recipes available at HCPL!

The Pumpkin Cookbook by DeeDee Stovel - For if you want to keep rolling with the everything-pumpkin flavor.

The Complete Autumn & Winter Cookbook by America's Test Kitchen - For if you want to keep the seasonal train going.  

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies by Delaney Daly 

Want to know what’s even better than regular chocolate chip cookies? You guessed it—pumpkin chocolate chips cookies! Because I am utterly obsessed with fall, I will eat these even in the middle of summer when it is approximately 12,000° outside, and I am melting. But, as I take each glorious, gooey bite, I daydream of the falls of yesteryear . . .  

For this recipe, you will need: 
  • To wear a sweater (obviously—but roll up the sleeves because a ruined sweater is cause for tears and you can’t enjoy your cookies if you’re crying)
  • At least one cat that keeps trotting on your kitchen counter and meowing incessantly at you as you attempt to make these delicious cookies (just kidding hehe or maybe your cat also does this to you)
  • ½ cup of unsalted butter, melted and then slightly cooled
  • ½ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons of pumpkin purée
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon store bought or homemade pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Blot pumpkin purée until smooth.
  2. Whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a bowl. Whisk in vanilla extract and blotted pumpkin. Set this bowl aside for now.
  3. Mix together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix them together with a large spoon or rubber spatula (maybe you even have a spooky-themed rubber spatula—cute!) 
  5. Mix in semisweet chocolate chips.
  6. Cover dough and chill for half an hour.
  7. Remove dough from refrigerator and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 
  8. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Scoop dough, roll into spheres, and place them approximately 3 inches apart on baking sheet.
  10. Slightly flatten the tops of each dough sphere. 
  11. Bake for 11 – 12 minutes.
  12. Allow cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes. And the longer you let them cool, the yummier they become and the happier you will be!
  13. Finally, put on a spooky movie and enjoy these perfect fall cookies! 

Here is the the original recipe I used!

And here are some other great recipes:

The Great Big Pumpkin Cookbook by Maggie Michalczyk - For if you still want more of that everythingpumpkin flavor.

The Perfect Cookie by America's Test Kitchen - For more great cookie recipes, including other pumpkin hits like PumpkinPecan Cookies, Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars.

Lavender Berry Mocktail by Silvia R-D

(I’m serving it for my movie night, Practical Magic)  

  • 1-pint fresh blueberries muddled
  • 1 cup basil chopped 
  • ½ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed juice of about 2 lemons
  • ¾ cup Lavender Simple Syrup
  • 1½ cup soda water, any unflavored carbonated beverage would work
  • In a medium sized pitcher add in the blueberries, chopped basil, and lemon juice. 
  • Swish or muddle all the berries and basil together until they release their flavor and juices.
  • Add in about 2 cups of ice and the soda water and stir thoroughly.
  • Pour. Garnish with blueberries, lemon, and basil, and enjoy.

Here is the link to the original recipe.

These are some other great recipes for more movie nights:

Mocktails Punches & Shrubs by Vikas Khanna For more mocktails!

Cocktails, Mocktails, and Garnishes from the Garden by Katie Stryjewski For mocktails and more!

May your fall be fun and delicious!