Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pumpkin Roundup

photo credit: DrBacchus

Here's a blog post I didn't expect to write. But tis the season. I've been busy pinning pumpkin recipes on Pinterest over the last few weeks. I've stocked up on pumpkin because I always read that it can be hard to find (although that's never been the case for me). Here's a list of pumpkin recipes I've made recently or hope to make soon!

When we carved pumpkins this year my husband was adamant that we roast the pumpkin seeds. Scratch that. He was adamant that I roast the pumpkin seeds. The last time I roasted pumpkin seeds was a project in my kindergarten class. No, I am not a teacher. I was a student in kindergarten. Needless to say, the details were fuzzy. I searched Tasty Kitchen, a great resource for recipes, and found Simple Comfort Food's The Best Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. It looked like a classic recipe, so I gave it a try. Before even eating the roasted seeds, I googled whether you're supposed to eat the "shell." Apparently it's up for debate. After attempting to avoid the shell a few times I gave up and just started tossing the entire seeds in my mouth. They had a salty little burnt cheese meets popcorn flavor that was pretty tasty. We actually have two pumpkins that we painted instead of carved, and I'm considering opening them up just so I can roast some more seeds.

Today my daughter and I made these hearty Pumpkin-Walnut Oatmeal Squares with Cinnamon Glaze from Bake Your Day. Technically I guess mine were Pumpkin-Pecan Oatmeal Squares as that's what I had on hand. They have oats, applesauce, pumpkin, and honey, so I've convinced myself they're totally healthy. I failed on the glaze, however, using three tablespoons of milk instead of teaspoons, which I promptly remedied by dumping in another two cups of powdered sugar. So much for being healthy! I will say as a person who doesn't like the taste of honey, it is noticeable in the finished squares.  But I suspect for most people that wouldn't be a problem.

Before I started baking this morning I considered trying this Pumpkin Bread with Streusel Topping, but then I realized it had canned pumpkin pie filling instead of pureed pumpkin. I'm a sucker for a streusel topping, however, so I'll have to pick up some pumpkin pie filling and give it a try later. I guess I could try making my own substitute if I get ambitious.

This is the other recipe that caught my eye. These Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting from Sweet Pea's Kitchen look delicious. I probably would have made them, but somehow I convinced myself that with all the Halloween candy I've been eating this week the cream cheese frosting wouldn't do me any favors. And remember the Pumpkin-Walnut Oatmeal Squares are healthy! (right?)

I've never made a trifle, nor do I own a trifle bowl, but if I did and I had to make a fall trifle it would probably be this Low-Fat Pumpkin Trifle from Janelle at Comfy In the Kitchen via Women Living Well Ministries. And can I tell you how excited I am to learn you can buy boxed spice cake? I don't know why, but that excites me.

While our squares were baking in the oven, I remembered reading once that a dump cake can be made with almost any canned fruit (or vegetable in this case...I think). That led to some googling and to this recipe for Pumpkin Dump Cake from Cookies and Cups. Note to self: buy evaporated milk ASAP! 

And finally, this list wouldn't be complete without Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter Dessert Squares.  Hands down they are my favorite pumpkin dessert.  You may have been lucky enough to taste these if you've been in a Williams-Sonoma store this time of year.  They sell the Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter called for in the recipe and generously had out free samples of the squares (knowing full well the samples will lead to big sales).  It's one of the few reasons I will venture up to the Mall of America.  Totally worth it, I might add.  I did attempt this recipe one year with pumpkin butter from a local orchard and mixed with crushed pecans.  It was passable, but I recommend the real thing if for no other reason than avoiding having to figure out the correct amount based on different jar sizes.

My daughter would like to add: "What about Pumpkin Pie Pancakes?" That sounds brilliant. Google, don't fail me now!

And for today's trivia: Did you know allspice comes from the allspice plant? It's not some spice mix along the lines of pumpkin pie spice. I didn't know that. My mom didn't know that. My aunt didn't know that. We discovered this last spring in the spice room of the Como Park Conservatory. It kind of blew our minds. But you probably knew that.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Odds and Ends

Well I shared some happy news in my last post, but now I have sad news.  A few weeks ago I had a miscarriage.  Unfortunately it's a surprisingly common occurrence.  It was a strange experience.  Not nearly as dramatic as you often see in movies or read in books (for me).  In the end, everything happened naturally, and I think that helped me to accept it.  We're all doing fine, and things around here have returned to a relatively normal level of craziness.  It's like I explained to our three-year-old.  We were wrong.  It's not time for us to have a baby yet.  We'll have to wait a while longer than we thought.

And perhaps in a bout of stress-induced madness I attempted to start potty-training my youngest last week.  The attempt only lasted two days.  It was pretty clear early on that she doesn't yet sense the urge to go potty.  I seem to recall a similar attempt with her older sister.  I'm totally in the get-it-and-get-out camp of potty-training.  No pull-ups.  Bring the potty to you.  Living room, kitchen, wherever you are.  Give it a solid try for two days.  If there are no signs of progress, wait.  Then try it again the next time there appears to be a real interest.  Her older sister was potty-trained in a week, before she turned two, and when her sister was a month old.  I can already tell there will be new challenges with this one.  Gone is our pee-resistant leather sofa.  And here is the older sister to provide constant distractions.  And they are constant.  But I'm still confident that when the time comes it will work out.  Until then, I will just have to be patient and continue buying diapers.  Already I can tell she's one step closer.  Now instead of saying "potty" after soaking a diaper, she tells me after what seems to be a little trickle or occaisionally even before it happens.  I think I'll give it another try in a couple of weeks.

This past week of work has been perfect.  Just enough to keep me feeling productive but not enough to take over my life.  I've been able to get and more importantly keep the house picked up, and I've had time to spend with my husband at night after the kids are in bed.  We wrapped up season four of Breaking Bad last night.  Brilliant show.

This morning I whipped up a batch of spicy tortellini soup for a mom who just had a baby.  I'll be delivering it along with salad, garlic bread, and chocolate zucchini bread this afternoon.  I think it's impossible to understand just how awesome it is to have a meal delivered until you've had a baby and you're not getting any sleep and you're ravenous because you're breast-feeding every two or three hours.  It's such a blessing.  And there just happened to be a little left over for me.  Bonus!

And since I actually thought of it, I started a beef stew in the crock pot this morning.  Two meals banged out before 9:30 a.m.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

So that's what's up around here.  A belated Happy Halloween to you all.  I hope you have a generous Spiderman in your family who is happy to share candy.  I swear sometimes my daughter sounds like she's pushing dope.  Mom!  Don't you want some candy.  Here, it's really good.  You should have some.  Do you like this kind? Try it, Mom.  Mom, would you like some candy? She's very persuasive.  And I don't mind it a bit!