The Great Pumpkin

Sorry for my clear hiatus from blogging this past week. I instead spent the time catching up with friends and family (whom I haven’t spoken to in months) via skype and phone calls. I also want to apologize for  any “ghost posts”. Apparently  I had chosen to date some blog posts months down the road so I had time to either complete them or  be sure they were ready to post. That obviously did not work out. Live and learn. Anyways changing the subject: The Great Pumpkin!

IMG_1917img_1478

In the last few weeks the temperature has dropped  10-15 degrees and now that the sun is going down around 5pm, it is clear our wonderful fall is fading quickly. For more proof of this our creative Halloween pumpkin art headed for the dumpster last weekend and my pumpkin candle is down to it’s last bit of wax.

IMG_1951

But fall is not over yet, we still have a few colored leaves on the trees and plenty more on the ground. And I’m pretty sure I’m not done experimenting with cans of pumpkin puree. As we transition into these late fall days I thought I’d review the wonderful pumpkin goodies of the season so far:

img_1476

1. Pumpkin spice latte mix and Pumpkin spice creamer.  I mentioned this once before in Glimpses of Fall.  These two items are the easy and cheap way to keep me out of the Starbucks line. If you want some helpful hints on how to make your own Pumpkin spice creamer see Coffee Creamer Simplified.

IMG_1967IMG_1971

2. Roasted Pumpkin seeds: sweet and salty. This was my first year attempting to roast pumpkin seeds. And yes I used the pile of seeds you saw in our carving pictures (why go and buy them when they come with the pumpkin?). I split the seeds in half and tried two different recipes: one sweet and one salty. For both I used foxinthepine.com as a baseline.

IMG_1962IMG_1969

I found that after melting butter in with the mixture you can pretty much add any seasonings and stick them in the oven to roast. For the sweet seeds I used honey instead of white sugar and for the salty/savory I added Siracha to the mix of spices they listed. Both seed recipes turned out as great snack for Halloween and to throw in packed lunches.

IMG_1944

3. Pumpkin Cheesecake popsicles. It may seem odd to some of you but they honestly taste like mini frozen creamy pumpkin pies. The ingredients and instructions are simple. I used one box of sugar free cheesecake pudding mix, a little pumpkin puree, milk, and fall spices. For more on my pudding pop/homemade popsicles and ingredients check out cookies n cream pudding pop; or  Tropical Banana creamsicles .

IMG_2004

4.Pumpkin snicker doodle cookies. These turned out amazing. I made them for our Tuesday night small group and had Luke take the leftovers to work. When he brought the cookie bin home that night there was nothing but crumbs left. I’ll take that as a compliment. I got the base recipe from highheelsandgrills.com.

IMG_2008

I made three small changes to this recipe: One I added a pack of dry pumpkin pie pudding mix. Two I didn’t flatten out the cookies before baking. And three I used brown sugar to coat the outside instead of white. This made these snicker doodles crispy on the outside and just the right chewy softness on the inside. (If you can’t find the pumpkin pie pudding mix you can alway use vanilla.)

0b59abfd5ab52554950fed5c707eb4c4

5. Pumpkin brittle. This was also my first year to try pumpkin brittle and to be honest my experiment didn’t work out the way I had hoped. My candied brittle mixture had great flavor but I ended up with a green pumpkin seed filled blob instead of crunchy brittle. But this will not discourage me from trying again next year. Speaking of next year when I do make it I will probably be using eatsybitsydaisy.com‘s recipe which is an amazing mock See’s candy peanut brittle recipe.

What about you?  Do you have more fall pumpkin flavors headed your way? Anyone out there anticipating pumpkin pie for  Thanksgiving ?

Halloween Update

Halloween update:

Around 5:30pm the kids started showing up and quickly I realized  . . . I may run out of candy!! I tried to balance making dinner and answering the door while Luke worked late.

But even after being creative in stretching the candy out we ran out of all sugar by 7pm. When Luke came home he ran to the store but by then we’d been without candy (with the lights out) for an hour!! So now we have candy and no trick-or-treators.  This may be contributed to the rain as well.

Luke told me he found out at work that our neighborhood is THE neighborhood to go trick-or-treating in the area. Oh well, lessons learned.

For now I think I’ll enjoy “The Great Pumpkin” (Charlie Brown) and eat some chocolate!

Happy Halloween!!!

Today I am at home making some pumpkin brittle and sneaking (barley and tree-nut free) halloween candy before the trick-or-treators come by tonight. On that note if you haven’t yet seen my post on 2013’s allergy free candy check in out here: Good to know: Gluten and tree-nut free candy.

This will be the first year to give out candy from our front door. Considering the out-door haunted house our neighbor constructed across the street, I think it’s fair to assume will get some visitors.

IMG_1973IMG_1975

All of our carved pumpkins are set out on the front porch. Tonight we will light them up with blue, red, and yellow glow sticks. And although I don’t have a true costume this year, I will be wearing my Old Navy star wars shirt. Depending on what mood Luke is in he may pull out his old Jedi costume (and toy light-saber) too we will see.

IMG_1976IMG_1979IMG_1983

This week I also roasted the pumpkin seeds from pumpkin carving and made cupcake size brownies with decorative candy corn on them for Luke to take to work today. Confession: of course I snuck a few pieces of candy corn as I baked.

IMG_1967IMG_1969IMG_1997

And it has been a year since I started using my ex-wedding decoration: the manzanita tree for  holidays decorations. This month each mini-mason jar is filled with Indian corn with a votive pumpkin spice candle at the center. The base if filled with pine cones and mini-pumpkin shapes and atop sits a perfect mini plastic pumpkin. This is all wrapped up in a black and white striped bow.

IMG_1998IMG_2002

Whether you are dressing up for a party, taking little ones trick-or-treating, or enjoying a night-in watching movies and snacking on sugar hope you have a safe and happy halloween!

Muffin Remix: Cinnamon Oatmeal Pumpkin Muffins

Last week I shared some of my favorite fall recipes (see fall recipe round-up) including a recipe for cinnamon oatmeal apple muffins. As an extra bonus I said I was currently working on a recipe alternative or remix using pumpkin instead of apples. Well here it is! They are just as tasty and hearty for morning breakfast as the apple variety.

IMG_1619

Today is my mother’s b-day and she makes a wonderful cream cheese pumpkin muffin. When Luke and I got ready to take the U-haul across the country to New York last fall I asked her to make us a batch. They were a great treat with coffee as we hit the road (even if the crumble topping made a small mess in the truck). Now these are not the same muffins. As much as I love her cream cheese pumpkin muffins I wanted to attempt a healthier alternative. But maybe I will make some  closer to the holidays. . .

images

Other than the obvious difference in fruit use (yes pumpkin is actually a fruit) I added  honey because pureed pumpkin does not have the natural sweetness of applesauce or apples.  Each muffin is 125 calories and this recipe makes 20-24 of them.

images-1

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 C pumpkin puree

1 C 1/% milk

1/2 C brown sugar

¼-1/2 C honey

2 egg whites

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cloves

1 tablespoon pumpkin spice

IMG_1618

Instructions:

1.  Soak the oats in milk for an hour.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

3.  Spray muffin pan with cooking spray or line with butter.

4.  Combine the oat mixture with the pumpkin, milk, egg whites, and honey, mix until combined. Depending how sweet you want your muffins, you may want to use 1/4 or 1/2 C honey. If you use 1/2 C honey then you muffins will be 140 calories each.

5.  In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients (except the ½ tbl pumpkin spice, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp sugar) together.

6.  Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined.

7.  Spoon muffin mixture into muffin pans

8.  Combine cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and brown/white sugar and top each muffin with some of the mixture.

9.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

IMG_1619

What is your favorite pumpkin flavored food? Dessert?

Glimpses of Fall

Fall (or Autumn) is my favorite season for so many reasons. The season makes me feel welcomed and comfortable. The cooler air, the wind, the beautiful colors of the trees, the opportunity to wear scarfs, flannel, boots, and of course more excuses to cook and bake. And the smells are warm and inviting (who doesn’t like cinnamon and cloves?).

Unknown-2

This is our first time experiencing fall here in New York and I more than a little excited, mainly because upstate New York, especially the region we live in, is know for a beautiful fall foliage. The trees are starting to slowly turn, I will see glimpses of yellow or orange here or there. I can’t wait to go on some beautiful drives and hikes in the colorful trees.

Unknown-1

Other hints towards fall are less inviting, because of the cooling weather we have an increase in spiders. 😦 After a few bites we discovered it is typical for East Coasters to spray their houses down when fall hits. So we bought some Ortho home defense and coated the outside of our house before the problem got any worse. Since then we have been bug free (let’s hope it stays that way).

Unknown

our future bite preventer

I am looking forward to corn mazes, pumpkin patches and carving, and autumn flavors. (I have already looked up the closest pumpkin patches and corn maizes in the area). Speaking of flavors I have also jumped started the season with some pumpkin spice coffee mix and granola. (Hopefully this will keep me from ordering sugary drinks out).

IMG_1476

Labor day weekend I made an orange spice cake that fit perfectly into the transition of seasons. This week I also tried out a new recipe for cinnamon oat apple muffins.

IMG_1347

IMG_1474

Then finally this past weekend when I went to the store I found my favorite hard cider: Woodchuck’s limited release Fall. It taste just like an apple pie! It also brings back memories of our honeymoon last October eating Gluten-Free pizza and drinking hard cider while enjoying our rainy beach-front view.

IMG_1468

In addition to this,  I bought a wreath for the front door on sale (before all the season’s crafts were turned over to Christmas!). It started off a little bare but with a few extra wire wrapped leaves and berries I was able to make it a full autumn bouqet. Using orange and gold wire wrapped ribbon, I tied the broadest ends of the twine leaf shape together and tied off a bow. I’m waiting to see other autumn wreaths on my neighbor’s doors before hanging mine.

IMG_1485IMG_1490

This past weekend we took a rare trip to the mall and I bought a pumpkin candle I plan to use every fall. It’s labeled pumpkin cupcake but to me it smells like something is pumpkin flavored is baking in the house a very similar to when I make my family’s pumpkin bread.

IMG_1478

This is also the time of year that people begin to persevere summer produce. Jars of jam and pickled foods are popping up everywhere. Someone at Luke’s work found out he is a big fan of pickles. Next thing I know he came home with a cardboard box filled with mason jars of pickles seasoned and prepared in a large variety of ways. Alongside the preserved pickles came a small jar of grape jelly (one of Luke’s favorite fruit flavors).

IMG_1464

Only a small portion of the goods Luke brought home (the rest are in the fridge)

We also have begun preserving produce. This past week we finally started using the dehydrator bought for our us from our wedding registry to make fruit leathers/roll ups. We even picked up and an apple corer-peeler and a few extra trays for the dehydrator so now we are ready to make apple chips, pie, or roll-ups/ fall fruit leathers.

IMG_1471

IMG_1467

IMG_1459

Our new kitchen gadget means less of this

Of course also with the change of the season I changed out my holiday tree. (Don’t know what I’m talking about then see Holidays grow on Trees) I filled the small mason jars with a dark roast coffee beans then placed votive pumpkin candles in the centers. The base of the tree is filled with small pinecones and pumpkin shapes. I also picked up a plastic pumpkin to stick in the pine cone base. Then I tied it all off with a beautiful wire rapped ribbon in orange and gold. The extra base filling I added into the vase where I’ve been displaying/storing our wine corks.

IMG_1484IMG_1479IMG_1482IMG_1462

What are your favorite fall activities? Flavors/Foods?