Posts Tagged ‘pumpkin’

October means pumpkin season is here!  I cleaned out our pumpkin to make the kids a Jack-o-lantern and saved the seeds.  I put the seeds in salted water overnight.  Drained the seeds and roasted them with a little olive oil and more salt, 350ºF for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan every 5 minutes.

salted and roasted pumpkin seeds

Now I have a snack to distract me from the little buckets full of candy and chocolate!

If you have more than you think will be consumed in a few days, store your seeds in a zip-top bag in the freezer.


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Pumpkin pie is a reminder of fall. It’s a delicious, traditional treat, and it would be hard to imagine Thanksgiving festivities without one or two pumpkin pies to finish off the meal. No matter how stuffed people are from a large holiday dinner, they always will find room for at least one slice. Pumpkin pie is a good choice for reasons other than its tradition and popularity. It’s a lower-cost dessert to bake, and uses healthy ingredients, making it one of the better dessert choices. Replace sugar with agave nectar for an even lower sugar dessert! Check out the following three reasons why making pumpkin pie is a healthier, low-cost option.

Making pumpkin pie from scratch is a frugal choice

Around the holidays there are always pre-made pies available in your grocery store’s bakery section. At other times of the year you can often find them amongst the frozen foods and desserts. This may make you wonder why you should bother making your own. The answer is that making your own allows you to control what goes into the pie. This is always beneficial to the healthfulness of the recipe and the frugality of the dessert. Purchasing your own ingredients means you can opt for the cheapest choices, and take advantage of deals at the grocery store. An added bonus is that once you have the basic ingredients on hand, you can continue making more pies without additional cost. In the long run, you’ll be amazed by the amount you can save if you avoid the pre-made pie. Next time you’re craving pumpkin pie, skip the bakery section and instead try this low-calorie pumpkin pie recipe, it only costs around one dollar to make!

Using less ingredients means spending less money, and saving on empty calories

There are many different types of pumpkin pies. These days you can find recipes that include layers of cream cheese, or caramel and pecan toppings. These will certainly add variety to your table; however, the traditional pumpkin pie uses fewer ingredients. BetterBudgeting.com suggests that the less-traditional recipes are much sweeter than the original. You’ll save some money, and some calories, if you stick to the tried-and-true version of the recipe.

Starting with fresh pumpkin is a healthy choice

Store-bought pumpkin pie filling usually has added sugar, and other things, like preservatives. If you start with the whole pumpkin, you’ll know that everything going into your pie is high-quality and fresh. When picking out your pumpkins you should choose smaller ones, as they pack a lot more flavor then the larger pumpkins.  Bonus points if you are growing your own pumpkins!

When it gets closer to the holiday season, you may find yourself thinking of pumpkin pie. And why not? It’s an excellent dessert option. Remember, to be frugal and healthy, stick to fresh and fewer ingredients, and make your own from scratch.

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I saw this Pumpkin Roll on A Recipe A Day’s blog and saved it to bake when I had some pumpkin available.  Well after baking the inaugural autumn pumpkin pie, I had half a can of spiced pumpkin puree leftover.  What to do?  This was more than I needed to try Nancy’s recipe.

The original recipe calls for plain pumpkin and calls out the spices to add to the batter.  I’ve shortcut this by using pie pumpkin puree and added a little extra pumpkin pie spice.  For the filling, I used a ready made vanilla icing (for some reason I have four containers of this stuff in my pantry!) foregoing the cream cheese and hopefully a few calories from fat (see the note below!).  The result was a delicate rolled cake with a good amount of sweet filling to hold it all together.  If you prefer less sweetness, visit the original recipe post for the cream cheese filling.

Ready To Serve Creamy Vanilla Frosting  (Duncan Hines)Calories: 280   Total Fat: 10g

Per serving:  28 calories and 1 gram of fat

Cream Cheese (Philadelphia)  –  8oz:

Calories: 800   Total Fat: 72g

Confectioners’  Sugar  – 1 cup:

Calories: 389  Total Fat: 0.1g

Butter – 6tbsp:

Calories: 600 Total Fat: 66g


Total Calories of the filling: 1789

Total Fat of the filling: 138.1g

Per serving 179 calories and 13.8 grams of fat

I think the type of pumpkin used makes no difference in the end, there was a soft spicy note to the cake.  If you have an abundance of pumpkins in your garden, roast them up yourself and use that instead of canned pumpkin, I love fresh pumpkin in pies so this should be equally delicious.


Pumpkin Roll

Adapted from A Recipe a Day

pumpkin roll

* Note * I suggest baking and assembling the night before you intend to serve this roll, keep it wrapped in plastic wrap once assembled.  This will help it hold shape and sort of remoisturize.

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel ~ use more if needed)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin pie filling
  • 1/2 can of Duncan Hines Classic Vanilla Frosting or similar

Preheat oven to 375°.

Butter a 15 x 10″ jelly-roll pan then line with parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper. On a flat surface sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar and set aside.

Mix the dry ingredients in small bowl.  Beat eggs and sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in the pumpkin pie filling. Stir in the flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched, do not over bake. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and carefully turn cake on to the towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Carefully peel off the paper. Roll up the cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on a wire rack.

Once cooled, unroll the cake and towel carefully.  Spread the cake with the vanilla frosting and roll it back up without the towel this time.  Wrap the cake in plastic wrap to help it keep its shape.

Calorie and fat information was taken from http://www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate/

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If you are a pumpkin pie lover, this is for you!

Pumpkin ice cream by Dreyer’s is creamy and tastes like pumpkin pie that is covered in whipped cream.  The spices are subtle enough that my kids didn’t bock at it.  Now I have to bake a pumpkin pie to have with the Pumpkin Ice Cream!  There goes my waistline…

This ice cream was a last-minute gamble at the grocery store that paid off.  Too bad they won’t be making this flavour all year round, maybe I should stock up the freezer!

Not a paid advertisement.  I did not receive free products.  Just wanted to tell y’all about this!



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Of the many things I am thankful for, it’s was the opportunity to move to Texas that still resonates with me.  Without that bold change, I never would have met the love of my life, husband and best friend.  Together we have two healthy children, and that was also very important for me this year at our quiet Thanksgiving feast.

Big brother munched on the orange segments from the Arugala salad from Angel Valley Farms, Little sister was entertained during the home stretch to finishing off the gravy and warming the sides.

In the haste of making a pumpkin pie I forgot to add sugar to the custard filling.  It turned out to be a savory pumpkin pie, but pie nonetheless.

With a scoop of vanilla ice cream, the pie was alright.  Next time I want to make the pie ahead of time, or *gulp* buy one.  I don’t like buying stuff because I don’t know what could be lurking within the sweet treat.  How careful are bakers when handling nuts, and equipment that once had nuts on them?  I can’t be sure so I bake my own.  The silver lining to this pie flop is that it contains no sugar whatsoever, so my sugar sensitive friends could enjoy it, if they were here for the holidays.

Then there’s big birdy!  I went with the apple and sage flavours from last weekend’s roasted chicken.  I stuffed the cavity with granny smith apple, celery, salt and pepper.  A compound butter (a whole stick) was made with plenty of salt, and lots of sage (a good palmful), pepper, some thyme.  The butter is tucked under the skin and the entire surface of big birdy.  Then I sprinkled more coarse sea salt and pepper on top of the butter slathered skin.  Make sure you first lay thick slices of onion in the roasting pan, then rest big birdy on the onion.  If you have white wine, pour a glass or two into the pan and this will add another dimension to the resulting liquids.  The oven started at a blazing 475°F until the skin started to brown, about 45 minutes.  Then the heat was reduced to 325°F until the thick part of the breast (pectoral) meat reached 180°F.  And voilà…

Once big birdy was out of the oven, it was time to warm the side dishes.  I made the green bean casserole and prepared the sweet potatoes earlier in the day.  Some fresh beets from the farmstand snuck into the oven with the bird for a while, I roasted them whole with the skins on then peeled the skin off and finished them in a foil bag drizzled with olive oil, sea salt and pepper.

The normal accoutréments joined the star of the meal: garlic mashed potatoes topped with chives, stuffing with raisins, cranberries, and gravy.  I was full just by looking at my plate, or maybe it was pure exhaution.

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Vote for my recipes on food52.com!

Here is today’s entry for the No-Pie Thanksgiving Dessert Contest.

Pumpkin Crepes

1 1/2 tablespoon butter, melted

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon ginger powder

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup cake flour

confectioner’s sugar

1/2 pint whipping cream

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Whisk all of the ingredients together except the flour.

Sift the flour into the wet ingredients, then gently whisk to combine. If the batter seems to thick, add a tablespoon of milk. The crepe batter should be thinner than a pancake mix.

Swirl the hot pan while pouring about a 1/4 cup of batter into the center. The crepe should be very thin and distributed over the flat portion of the bottom of the pan. Cook the first side for 1 minute, or until bubbles form throughout the crepe. gently flip the crepe over and cook for another 30 seconds until the center is set.

Keep the crepes under a clean kitchen towel so they don’t dry out. Whip up some whipping cream with a pinch of confectioner’s sugar, to taste.

Fill the crepes with the whipped cream and top with a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon.

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Add the flavors of the season to your breakfast with these pumpkin waffles!


I found a secret to crispy and soft waffles, it’s cake flour!  Swap cake flour for all or part of the all-purpose flour used in your favorite waffle recipe and notice what a difference in texture it makes.

To pumpkinize your waffles add the following to your cake flour batter:

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin (canned or left over roasted and pureéd)
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • you can substitute  the spices with 1 1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice

Add the spices with the flour.  Save the pumpkin for last and gently fold it in to the prepared batter.  Mix just until the batter takes on the signature orange color of the pumpkin pureé.  Cook the waffles according to your iron’s instructions, use a medium setting (which is number 3 out of 5 for mine).  Dust with confectioner’s sugar or drizzle with honey.

Serve up your autumn flavored breakfast with fresh fruit and my honey-pepper bacon.  To make the bacon, lay two sheets of paper towel on a microwave safe plate.  Place the bacon on the paper towel and drizzle lightly with honey.  Sprinkle freshly ground pepper over the bacon.  Top with one more sheet of paper towel.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes, check on the bacon then cook for another 1 – 3 minutes until you reach your desired crispness.  Allow the bacon to drain on a fresh piece of paper towel.

I’ll bet your little pumpkins will devour these waffles!

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Little Sister has now reached her first birthday and I’m astonished at how quickly this year flew by. The whole family packed up to go to the grandparent’s house, only 5 to 6 hours away, for a special celebration. Both Little Sister and Grandpa had birthdays this weekend, so we combined the two together. I made the appetizers and sweets, Grandma made brisket and rice, Tia made her beans.  Thank you very much to those who came out for some good laughs, invincible piñatas, and great company!

(red platter) Apple Cider Brined Carrots, (yellow platter) Skinny Pigs in a Blanket

Here’s what I contributed to the birthday bash.

Skinny Pigs in a Blanket

I’ve been reading Claire Robinson’s book (5 Ingredient Fix) and there’s some great pieces of advice in there, especially how you should use the best ingredients you can afford since there are so few components to a dish. This holds true for many recipes and I applied the philosophy to my Skinny Pigs in a Blanket by using super lean smoked sausage (which I found on sale last week) and pungent sharp cheddar. When you use sharp cheeses you need less of it to get the flavor to appear, this also means less fat. All three ingredients were toned down in fat levels, but flavor was not sacrificed. There were no leftovers whatsoever.

  • Lean Smoked Turkey Sausage
  • Extra Sharp New York Style Cheddar
  • Reduced Fat Crescent Rolls

Cut 3 inch sections of sausage, then quarter them lengthwise. Slice the cheese the same length, use as thin or thick a slice as you like. Wrap the sausage and cheese in a crescent roll, I had no fancy way of doing this, just cover as much as you can with the dough. Bake at 375 degrees for about 14 minutes or the tops are golden brown.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
  • water
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 teasp cinnamon
  • 1/8 teasp allspice
  • 1/8 teasp cloves

Follow the directions on the box, except for the amount of water.  I used about 1/4 cup of water in my batter, the remaining amount will be added by the pumpkin.  You can roast and puree your own pumpkin (I’ve also used calabaza squash) for this recipe. 

pumpkin cupcakes

Pecan Raisin Tarts

Tart Shell:
  • 1 cups cake flour
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teasp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • pinch of sea salt

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, that’s 175 deg C for my Canadian folks.  Cut the cold butter into the flour and salt until it feels like wet sand and will hold its shape when pinched.  Grease a muffin tin (or use silicone to skip this step, and I would have used my silicone molds because these little tarts stuck to my pan!) with butter.  Take a heaping tablespoon of the pastry and push it around the walls of the mold, then add a little more to cover the bottom.  Repeat until all 12 molds are filled.  Bake for 10  to 12 minutes, the outside edge should begin to brown. 

Whilst the shells bake, prepare the filling.  Set the raisins and pecans aside and whisk everything else in a bowl.  When the tart shells come out, they will look poofy, don’t worry, distribute the pecans and raisins to each tart, you can push them down in the middle gently.  Pour the egg mixture into each tart shell, then quickly get them back into the oven for another 20 minutes.  The result is a flaky shell with a sticky nutty caramel interior.  Let the tarts cool in the pan, this will be the hardest part but trust me, if you try to take them out while they are still warm you will lose a few chunks.  Yep, I did it.  So now you know what not to do, or use those fancy silicone molds instead.

Apple Cider Brined Carrots

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 teasp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teasp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teasp whole coriander seeds
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 whole Serrano peppers, stems removed
  • baby carrots, rinsed well

Prepare a glass jar by sterilizing in a hot water bath for 10 minutes, I used an empty pasta sauce jar (Classico uses thick glass which should not break if you reuse them * however, do so at your own risk).  Pack the onion slices pulled apart into individual rings into the bottom of the jar, then the peppers and carrots.  I will also suggest adding the spices to the jar, as the mustard seeds stuck to the pot where the brine was made.  Next, make the brine.  Pour the vinegar, water, salt and sugar into a pot and bring it up to a boil while stirring to dissolve the salt.  Let it boil for a minute then carefully pour into the jar.  Cover the jar with a lid.  Tip: don’t put the glass jar on a cold countertop, the temperature difference may crack the glass when the hot brine is added.  Let the jar cool then refrigerate.  I made these carrots two days prior to the party so they would be good and pickled for my platter.

Caramel Popcorn with Peanuts and Sunflower Seeds

(adapted from Emeril’s Microwave Nutty-Caramel Corn)

  • 14 cups freshly popped popcorn
  • 1 jar roasted peanuts (no shells)
  • 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds (no shells)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 teasp vanilla
  • sea salt
  • 1 teasp baking soda
  • large paper sack

D – this is for you!

Combine the popcorn, nuts, and seeds in the paper sack.  In a microwave-safe bowl, add the butter, sugar, syrup, vanilla and pinch of sea salt.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Stir.  Return to the microwave for 2 minutes.  Stir again.  If the brown sugar feels grainy under the (wooden) spoon, pop it back in for another minute.  Sprinkle the baking soda into the hot gooey mess and stir carefully, the soda will bubble and foam.  Pour the caramel into the paper sack, toss the popcorn around to coat.  Stuff the paper sack into the microwave for 1 minute on high.  Then shake it, preferably with oven mitts.  Spread the sticky popcorn on two wax paper lined baking sheets (or kitchen counter) and if you like salty-sweet nibbles add a dash more sea salt while the caramel is hot.  Let it cool then store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, if it will survive that long. 

Hummus and Chorizo Spread

I know what you’re thinking, chorizo is so greasy why on Earth would you use it?  Well, this is not your typical chorizo – this is homemade lean chorizo from the Grandparent’s kitchen.  I’ve requested a weekend to learn how to make this delightfully versatile sausage.  When I learn how to make it, I’ll let y’all know!  This spread was unexpectedly tasty and incredibly easy to prepare, your friends will think you spent all afternoon putting the dish together.  Here is our little secret… buy the hummus from your deli!  I even took two flavors, regular and roasted red pepper hummus, just to have a taste of each.  Grab some low-fat multi-grain pita chips and you’re set.  Well, except for the chorizo, stay tuned for that…  Now you have everything needed to put this spread to work.  Brown the chorizo (drain on paper towel if it’s not lean), spread the hummus on a plate (half regular and half red pepper – or pick the flavors you want), top with a sprinkle of chorizo.  Done.

Now go grab an iced tea and enjoy!

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