Tag Archives: pumpkin

Baking Day!

First of all, I have updated my Recipes page! I organized it by category so the recipes are easier to find. I also added several photos to make you nice and hungry. ;) I encourage you to check it out.

I guess I am a glutton for punishment.

About a week or so ago, I mentioned that I have no self-control when it comes to my Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread. I ate way too much of it. But I was in the mood to bake today. And I wanted a snack to take to work tomorrow. So I made some more of that delicious bread.

This time I left out the walnuts. Why would I do that? Aside from the fact that I am completely out, I am going to take some of this bread to work tomorrow for my coworkers. One of my coworkers is allergic to nuts so I wanted to make sure she would be able to eat it. I learned my lesson last time: eat some and give some away. I can’t be trusted with the whole loaf.

I also made a bit of a salty snack: homemade pretzel bites! I have been on a pretzel kick lately and we are completely out. Rather than making a special trip to the store to buy them, I decided to make some. I searched around for several recipes online and finally just created my own recipe based on the ingredients that I knew they would need. I am so glad these turned out well.

These pretzel bites are delicious! They are golden brown and a little crispy on the outside and they have a wonderfully chewy center. If left alone with these for too long, there is no telling how many I would eat.

And they are so easy! Much easier than I thought they would be. The hardest part is waiting for an hour so the dough can rise. You can always half the recipe if you don’t want quite so many pretzel bites. But why would you want to?

Homemade Pretzel Bites (makes 100+ little pretzel bites)

1 1/5 c. warm water
2 T. brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
4 c. flour (I used half white and half wheat)
6 c. water
4 tsp. baking soda
salt to taste

In a mixing bowl, add yeast, water and sugar. Let sit for ten minutes. Mix in flour and knead for 8 minutes. Grease bowl and place dough back in bowl. Let rise for one hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

Separate dough into 10-12 pieces. Roll into long ropes about 1/3 inch thick. Cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Place on cookie sheet and let rise for 20 minutes.

the pretzel bites about to go into their "baking soda bath"

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add baking soda and reduce heat to gentle simmer. Boil pretzels in batches, about 20 seconds each, turning once. Sprinkle pretzel bites with a little salt (to taste). Bake at 450 degrees for 7-8 minutes or until golden brown.

Fresh out of the oven . . . check out who is lazing about in the background

You can dip them in mustard .  . .

Or pizza sauce .  . .

Or whatever else your little heart desires.

And now that I have officially ruined my appetite for dinner by eating too many pretzel bites, I am watching a little “Survivor” and “Modern Family” before turning in. Today is our last day of this wonderful staycation, so it’s back to work tomorrow! I guess we had to go back to the real world eventually. :)

Pumpkin Biscuits

I love breakfast for dinner. I tweeted a few weeks back that breakfast for dinner always seems like a treat. Several people commented back that it was the same for them as well. I wonder why that is.

Last week when I made Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread, I mentioned a recipe for Pumpkin Biscuits that came from the same cookbook. When I first saw that recipe I knew instantly that I wanted to make them. I even bought whole wheat pastry flour at Whole Foods this weekend specifically for this recipe.

When I was planning the menu for the week, I wanted to plan something that would go well with the biscuits. Breakfast was the best (and my favorite) option.

I am so glad I made these biscuits. They basically taste like regular biscuits with a slight hint of pumpkin and spice. The amount of sugar in them is perfect. It’s just enough so there is a hint of sweetness, but the sugar doesn’t overpower the biscuits or make them into a dessert.

Pumpkin Biscuits (makes 16-20 biscuits) – from Pumpkin: A Super Food for all 12 Months of the Year

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
1 c. canned unsweetened pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in food processor. Add the butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Dump the mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the pumpkin and mix until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and knead a few times, adding a little flour if it is very sticky. Pat the dough into a 1/2 inch circle and cut biscuits with a 2-inch biscuit cutter. Place biscuits 1 inch apart on a baking sheet and bake for 12 -15 minutes, until risen and lightly browned.

I ate two of the biscuits, one when it was fresh from the oven and another one with my dinner. They were so tasty with just a little bit of butter.

I had the biscuits with some breakfast potatoes, peppers and onion. I also had two eggs and one egg white scrambled with a little cheese.

It was perfection. :)

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

I don’t use my cookbooks nearly often enough. Also, there has been a major pumpkin shortage in my life. I have hardly eaten any of it since Christmas.

My friend Luke gave me a cookbook for Christmas and for some reason, it has taken me this long to use it. I don’t know why because there are tons of mouth-watering recipes in it.

I decided to make pumpkin bread as my first recipe from the book. I just changed up the recipe a little. I used egg whites instead of whole eggs and applesauce instead of oil. I also decreased the sugar and the amount of chocolate chips just a bit. The end result was a wonderfully light and moist bread that had a hint of sweetness and spice and was loaded with nuts.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread – adapted from Pumpkin: A super food for all 12 months of the year (makes one loaf)

2 egg whites
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. canned unsweetened pumpkin
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 c. flour (I used 1 c. white and 1/2 c. wheat flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 c. chocolate chips (I used white chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the egg whites, sugar, pumpkin, and applesauce in a large bowl until well blended. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and nutmeg into the pumpkin mixture. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips. Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Cool completely before slicing.

Wonderful recipe! There is also a recipe for pumpkin biscuits in the cookbook that I have my eyes on. :)

Back to the Grind

I did NOT want to get up this morning.

After several days of being able to sleep in, I had to get up bright and early so that I could make it into work.

Even if I wasn’t happy about dragging myself out of bed, I was happy about getting back to a routine and back to eating on the healthier side.

I started out the morning with leftover Pumpkin Pancakes. Yummy!

I wanted a nice pear to go with that, but alas I could not find them. Later, I found out it was because Corey put them in a place that we don’t usually keep them. That also explained the case of the missing grapes.

 

Note to my husband: This is NOT the drawer we keep that stuff in!

 

Traffic going to work was awful! It wasn’t raining when I left for work (just a slight drizzle, but there were still two car accidents on my route to work. What usually takes me 30 minutes took me an hour and fifteen minutes. Luckily, I had my Christmas CD I made yesterday and it wasn’t too bad. Singing along made the long car ride somewhat more enjoyable. I also listened to it throughout the day at work. I am definitely in the holiday spirit. :)

For my midmorning snack, I ate some watermelon that I had purchased at Publix a few days ago. Good thing too because the sell by date was yesterday.

I paired the watermelon with some low fat cottage cheese.

I forget how good watermelon is. It’s so sweet and juicy. Who says watermelon is just for summer?

For lunch, I had leftover pasta.

Mmm . . . it was a simple dish of whole wheat pasta, 365 organic pasta sauce, and cooked chicken. It was super tasty for being a week old! the only problem was that I think I put a bit too much red pepper in the pasta sauce. It was a little too spicy. Is that even possible? This dish was very filling though.

An afternoon snack consisted of the rest of the watermelon from earlier in the day. I also had my new favorite snack, rice cakes and Trader Joe’s pumpkin cream cheese.

I am so addicted to this stuff! Last week, I went through a container in one week. I wonder if this week will be the same.

I’m glad I had a filling snack. I knew I would need it for the treacherous drive home. It was pouring rain at this point. I tried to leave a little bit early because Atlanta traffic is a nightmare when there is bad weather . . . or anytime between 6:00 am and 10:00 am and 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm. :)

Speaking of getting back to the grind, I really need to start exercising again on a regular basis. When I got home, I tried to make excuses for not working out. I even cleaned. But eventually, I dragged myself off the couch, put on my workout clothes and did an awesome workout. I did Jillian Michaels’ kickboxing DVD, as well as 40 minutes on the elliptical. My quads are sore, but I feel awesome! I really pushed myself on both workouts, so I feel great now. :)

Unplugged

I can’t believe it, but this is my first post in over two weeks. Where did the time go?

Over the past few weeks, I have been really out of touch with the blogging community. It has been entirely out of choice. I had gotten to the point where I was just tired of blogging and I felt like maybe I was posting for the wrong reasons (like gaining readership). So I decided to take a break.

I still read a few of the blogs that I keep up with, but I haven’t commented on them in a while. Honestly, there were some comments to the last post that I didn’t even approve until today. If you made a comment to my last post and I didn’t respond, I am sorry. I promise to be better. :)

The past few weeks have been nice without the pressure of blogging. I actually spent time with my husband (I admit that I neglect him occasionally) and I ate and cooked without the pressure of what the blogging community would think. I am such a people pleaser. But over the past few days, I realize that I kind of miss blogging. I like having this as an “outlet” and like that it is something just for me. So here I am!

I will catch you up briefly with my life over the past two weeks.

I became addicted to my iPhone.

 

Love the pic of me and Corey as my wallpaper. So cute!

 

And isn’t it sad that my iPhone actually takes better pictures than my regular camera? Maybe Santa will be good to me this year . . .

My husband and I went back to Farm Burger. Mmm, best burgers I have ever had!

 

burger with arugula, caramelized onions and Farm Burger sauce. Yummy!

 

We also had a date night at Seasons 52, one of my favorite restaurants. I was anxious to try the Fall menu and it did not disappoint!

 

Seasons 52: chicken cabernet, wild rice, broccoli, and golden beets

 

During the course of this meal, I realized I do NOT like beets. Not at all. My grandmother claims I liked them as a child, but maybe I just ate them under duress? ;)

I did clean my plate when it came to the Pumpkin Pie for dessert. So delicious!

 

Must get every single bite!

 

I tried brussel sprouts. No, I did not like those either. I didn’t bother to take a picture of those because they were kind of forgettable. Maybe it was because the brussel sprouts were frozen. Maybe I would like them if they had a different variety of spices? I am not anxious to try them again.

I also made a Pumpkin Cheesecake!

You can find the recipe here. I did not do anything to modify it and it came out beautifully. The only thing I did differently was that I left out the pecan streusel topping. I may have to try that next time. It was still delicious though. And it was so much better the next day!

I got too many migraines and had a wonderful companion to make me feel better.

 

Callie really is the best medicine!

 

My husband was an okay caregiver too. :)

I tried Honeycrisp apples for the first time.

These were so delicious! I think these are my new go-to apple. Love the flavor!

I realized I like peanut butter better than almond butter.

 

my go-to snack: bagel with peanut butter and honey

 

Blasphemous, I know since almond butter is all the rage. But there is just something comforting about the taste of peanut butter.

I won a free Custom Choice cereal mix from a blog giveaway!

 

Like my name? :)

 

Love, love, love this cereal. For my mix, I chose cinnamon granola, organic good morning flakes, sliced almonds, raisins, and dried pineapple. It was so yummy and it’s also gluten free!

I also tried a new strength training workout. Thanks to Comcast On Demand, I was able to try Jackie Warner’s total body circuit workout.

Oh. My. God. This workout was 45 minutes and worked EVERY single muscle. Seriously, she had section for quads and hamstrings and she even had three different sections for abs (upper abs, lower abs, and obliques). I did this workout last week and I was sore the entire week. So sore that I couldn’t do another strength training workout. I did this again on Monday. I didn’t get quite as sore as last week, but my biceps and triceps are still sore today. I am going to do this workout yet again today and I hope I will get stronger as time progresses.

I believe I like Jackie Warner a lot better than Jillian Michaels. Jackie isn’t as annoying or drill sargent like, but she gets the job done. And I love that she works every single muscle so thoroughly. There were times with 30 day shred that I didn’t feel like I was working all of my muscles.

So I guess I have done a lot and eaten a lot over the past few weeks. I was happy for the break, but now I am anxious to get back to a routine of blogging again.

Weekend of Firsts

So this weekend had its highs and its lows. I found out that my multivitamin I took (for the first time) had MSG in it. Seriously . . . that stuff is EVERYWHERE! I learned a valuable lesson: I MUST check the ingredients on everything that goes into my body. My body is very sensitive to MSG and I actually got a two day migraine because of it. I was sick all day Friday and all day Saturday. Not fun.

But I am feeling much better now and this weekend was a weekend of firsts.

Last night, I tried butternut squash for the first time.

leaving the dirty work of the cutting to my husband

Before . . .

After!

I really liked it. It wasn’t actually as hard to peel or cut that I thought it would be. Maybe that’s because I left that part for my husband. :)

I do think that I overcooked it a little because it was kind of mushy. But I still liked the taste and I would try it again. How long should I roast butternut squash anyway?

Today I tried making homemade cinnamon rolls for the first time. I made Pumpkin Cinnamon rolls and they were so tasty!

Fresh out of the oven

I can post the recipe later. It’s one that my dietician emailed to me and it was adapted from Cooking Light. There were a few times that I wasn’t sure me and Corey were doing it right, but they came out so delicious and they actually looked like cinnamon rolls.

It was a great Sunday morning activity for me and Corey to do together. The couple who cooks together, stays together . . . that is, unless the couple kill each other over which room is best to leave the dough in to rise. ;)

I also left my very first Operation Beautiful note!

I was in the fitting room at Kohl’s, trying on some new clothes for work. I was feeling really bad about myself and engaging in a lot of negative self-talk. At that point, I stopped myself and decided that I would post an encouraging note instead. I couldn’t think of a better location for positive encouragement than a fitting room! It made me feel so much better and it really put a smile on my face.

I also got my very first IPhone! Yay! My cell phone that I had was about five years old, so it was practically ancient. Our Verizon contract ended yesterday, so we switched to AT&T first chance we got. :)

Love the pic of me and Corey as my wallpaper. So cute!

This evening, I tried spaghetti squash for the first time.

Mmm . . . very tasty. Corey and I made some simple sauce by combining 365 organic pasta sauce, some Jennie-O lean turkey sausage (hot), some garlic powder, oregano, and red pepper. The sauce was super tasty and the squash really didn’t have that much taste, which I didn’t mind. But I think we undercooked the squash just a little because it wasn’t as tender as I think it could have been. How tender does spaghetti squash get anyway? We bought half a squash that was already cut up and baked it in the oven for about 30 minutes. Did I undercook it? Again, I just need some advice. How long should I bake the spaghetti squash?

The highlight of today (for sure) was that I had my very first Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks!

this pic was taken on my new IPhone!

Totally yummy . . . I may have to look into making my own Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I have seen so many recipes on blogs lately and goodness knows, it would be cheaper than going to Starbucks all the time. I definitely see more of these in my future. :)

So that was my weekend in a nutshell. Were there any firsts for you this weekend?

Happy Halloween!

Love your Body!

Today is National Love Your Body Day.

I may never have known that if Tina hadn’t pointed it out. When she asked how we would be loving our bodies today, I really had to think about that. It occurred to me that I thought several discouraging things about myself and the way I looked before I had even left the house. That was no way to celebrate or acknowledge this day.

So this is how I am choosing to love my body today.

1. I will not argue when my husband tells me I am beautiful.

2. I will not feel guilty for eating real maple syrup at breakfast instead of the fake, sugar-free stuff.

3. Nor will I feel guilty for cleaning my plate at lunch.

4. I will feed my body foods that nourish me and give me energy, rather than ones that make me crash a few hours later.

 

apple with some almond butter

 

5. I will not avoid mirrors.

6. I will not criticize myself or my appearance when I do look at myself in the mirror.

7.  I will not feel bad about eating carbs.

8. I will sweat and get in a good work out, not because I long to be thin, but because I know it will make my body healthy and strong.

9. I will bake a dessert that is made with real sugar and real butter. And no, I will not call myself fat because I eat more than one. Who can stop at just one pumpkin whoopie pie? ;)

Seriously, this is the best pumpkin dessert I have made yet. I got the recipe from Marg at Running on Cupcakes. Click on the link for the full recipe. They are phenomenal!

10. And finally . . . I will send my picture to Heather at Faces of Beauty. Enough procrastinating. It’s time to celebrate how beautiful I am!

How did you love your body today?

Sunday Breakfast

I love Sunday mornings. My wonderful husband let me sleep in and I guess my body needed it because I ended up getting about nine hours of sleep. Yay.

The best part of Sunday mornings? Pancakes! My husband loves to make me breakfast and every Sunday, he does. Most of the time, Sundays scream pancakes for me.

Today, I wanted to break out one of my cans of pumpkin I managed to score at Publix . . . and I wanted to use my peanut flour. So I used them both in the same recipe. Mmm . . . tasty pumpkin goodness.

 

my husband cooking pancakes for me!

pancake goodness

These pancakes were so moist and I loved the pumpkin flavor. Couldn’t really taste the peanut flour that much, but it still gave me a healthy dose of protein. These were the best pancakes I have had in a very long time. So good! And I have leftovers for the rest of the week. :)

Pumpkin Pancakes - as adapted from Taste of Home

 

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. peanut flour
2 T. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 c. fat free milk
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
1 egg
2 T. olive oil (you can also use canola oil)

In large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. In small bowl, combine the milk, pumpkin, egg, and oil; stir into dry ingredients just into moistened. Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto hot griddle coated with cooking spray; turn when bubbles form on top. Cook until second side is golden brown.

 

I think there is someone who may want in on the pancake action too!

 

Now that I have had a hearty breakfast, I am going to work out and then Corey and I are going apple picking. I love this time of year! :)

 

Whole Foods vs. Trader Joe’s

This morning, I woke up bright and early so that I could go to the grocery store before work. Corey is coming home from his business trip tonight and I wanted to get that pesky errand out of the way.

I made myself a nice breakfast of eggs and bacon,

 

yes that is hot sauce on my eggs . . . I put that stuff on everything!

 

then proceeded to go to not one, but two, grocery stores. I went here . . .

and here!

For those of you who don’t know, Harry’s Farmer’s Market is really Whole Foods (just a different name). I didn’t realize this myself until early this year. :)

I would go to Whole Foods for everything, but I just don’t have that kind of money. Plus, Whole Foods does not carry the Poptarts that my husband adores. Yes, I am married to a seven-year old. ;)

The stores are so quiet and peaceful at 9:00 am. However, Publix did not have ANY pumpkin . . . again! Doh! You would think we were in a pumpkin shortage again. Who is buying all this stuff?

After buying up tons of goodies, I headed back home to get ready for work and get my dog prepared for her day at doggy daycare. She’s always so excited about that!

Lunch was very hurriedly eaten while at my desk at work. It was some leftover Turkey Sausage Meatloaf on a whole wheat pita with some spinach and ketchup. Weird combination maybe, but so tasty.

The only bad thing is that I can not find a pita that will stay together! My pita starts to fall apart before I even start to put my fillings in and this makes for a very messy sandwich.

Work was kind of slow, so I actually got out early. But instead of picking up Callie at doggy daycare, I headed out for more grocery shopping. Yes, more shopping. There were important items to be found after all! But I couldn’t possibly go shopping on an empty stomach. So I ate a delicious apple that I had bought at Whole Foods.

Check out the green leaf on the top! That is a sure sign the apple is fresh if I ever saw one.

I first stopped at the Publix near my work and guess what I found??

I swear, I almost did a jig in the aisles. And I bought 5 cans of the stuff to stock up. Woo-hoo!

Then I was on a mission to head out to Trader Joe’s.for the latest craze that has hit the blogger world.

Peanut flour! I have an idea of how I want to use it this weekend and I can’t wait.

Speaking of Trader Joe’s, am I the only one in the universe NOT impressed with that place? You can get stuff that is more nutritious or organic at the grocery store than you can here . . . and for a cheaper price too. While I was looking for the flour, I was browsing through their stock and most of their breads and stuff had way too many ingredients. Even their “organic” tomato soup has “natural” flavoring in it. When are people going to realize that if something has “natural” flavor it is NOT organic? That just means that it is more processed and there are more additives added to it in order to make it taste good. I stay away from that crap as much as possible, especially because natural flavors often contain MSG and MSG gives me migraines. Maybe people just don’t look at the ingredients that closely.

Anyway, this was my second or third time in Trader Joe’s and I still wasn’t impressed with anything they had. I much prefer Whole Foods. I will continue to stick with them . . . except for maybe peanut flour.

Corey is coming home tonight and I am so, so, so excited. I have enjoyed my alone time, but I miss him and I am ready for him to come home. I still have much to do to get ready or him, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to fit in a workout. :( I did manage to grab a nutritious meal on the way home. No way I felt like cooking, so I grabbed some Subway.

I got a yummy roast beef with green peppers, yellow peppers, pickles, lettuce, light mayonnaise, and spicy mustard. I purchased it as a foot long so I could save the other half for tomorrow’s lunch at work.

I paired the sandwich with some Lay’s potato chips . . .

and some leftover pineapple.

Now I am relaxing and getting ready for Corey’s arrival. He should be arriving in about an hour and I want to be ready for him. I wish I could be like Callie. She is so exhausted from doggy daycare that she passed out as soon as she ate her dinner.

Her life is so hard. :)

Pumpkin + Peanut Butter makes it all better

Today was a very crummy day. I woke up with a major sore throat and a sinus headache. And . . . the symptoms kind of progressed from there.

I got through work the best way I could. I was planning on working out after work, but I did not feel up to it at all. So now I feel guilty for not exercising.

So Corey and I ordered pizza instead. This is as good a time as any to find out if mozzarella cheese is a migraine trigger. But that and several cups of hot tea with honey have really hit the spot. I have taken a few doses of Zycam, but we’ll see how well that works.

I also needed  comfort food in the form of pumpkin bread. I still had pumpkin left over from my Pumpkin Spice Bagels and I have been thinking about how to use it. After much recipe searching, I came up with a perfect recipe: Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bread! I saw a recipe for it on Taste of Home, but I made a lot of changes and modifications to make it healthier and also to up the pumpkin flavor a bit. Can’t have too much pumpkin flavor. ;)

I did overcook the edges a bit, but it was still more than edible and so very tasty! The peanut butter taste was subtle and the pumpkin flavor was just right. And it was incredibly moist!

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bread – as adapted from Taste of Home

1 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
7.5 ounces of solid pack pumpkin
2 egg whites
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/3 c. water
1/3 c. peanut butter (or any type of nut butter that you prefer)

In large bowl, combine the two flours, the sugars, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice.  In another bowl, combine the pumpkin, egg whites, applesauce, water, and peanut butter. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

Pour into greased 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan (or two smaller loaf pans). Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for ten minutes before removing to wire racks to cool. Makes 16 slices.