Fresh Pumpkin…..

My Mom used to cook regular old pumpkins to make pies and baked goods so I decided to do the same.  You do not need “pie pumpkins” specifically.  I cooked one large 12 lb. (approximately) and got roughly 24 cups of pureed pumpkin.  That’s equivalent to about 12 cans of store bought Libby’s pumpkin at $2.99/can.  So I’ve saved $35.88 simply by cooking one of our uncarved Halloween decorations,  I LOVE that!

The process is quite simple.  You will need a food processor.  My Mom tried using a blender but it was too thick to completely puree.

1)  Cut the pumpkin in half.  Scoop out all of the seeds and connective stuff.
2)  Place cut side down on a large cookie sheet with sides.  I added water to the bottom of the pan as when I originally started roasting the pumpkin I could hear sizzling.  I did not want the edges to become browned or caramelized so I added just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.
3)  Roast in a 350′ oven.  I cannot tell you exactly how long to bake as it depends on the size of the pumpkin.  You must bake it until the flesh is very soft.  This took a good amount of time for the huge pumpkin I roasted.   It took a little over an hour and a half.
4)  Remove the pumpkin from the oven and carefully flip it over to release the steam/heat.
5)  Scoop out the flesh and put it right into the food processor.  Reserve some of that cooking liquid from the bottom of the pan.
6)  Puree in the food processor, add a small amount of water if it’s too thick.
7)  To freeze, first label and date quart size freezer bags.  Remove as much air as possible from each bag.  Freeze and use in recipes like Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice Bread, Traditional Pumpkin Pie, or one of my absolute favorites Pumpkin Squares with Cream Cheese Frosting.  As good as these recipes are with canned store bought pumpkin, they’re even better with freshly made pumpkin.

Have a great week!



Homemade Banana Chocolate Chip Bread…..

Today is the perfect day for banana bread, don’t you think?  Our lovely sunny and perfect weather is gone.  It’s a bit gloomy outside.  Nothing like a sweet quick bread with chocolate chips to lift our spirits!  This recipe is a very simple one bowl recipe that is consistently delicious.

I always make my quick breads in mini loaf pans.  I do this for three reasons. 1)  They take far less time to bake thus, we’re baking green.  2)  When you bake a quick bread in a large loaf pan they often times dry out due to the very long baking time.  3)  I usually give half of what I bake away as little gifts or pick me ups to my friends.  These are the perfect size to share with someone who might need a little lift.  You can find disposable ones at most any baking isle in the grocery store. I also found them at Bed Bath & Beyond in packages of four for around $10.

What to do with over ripe bananas if you’re not ready to bake?  Don’t throw them away!  Simply remove the peel and put into a zip freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible, seal, and date.  When they thaw they are not the most appetizing fruit but let me tell you, frozen bananas make the BEST banana bread!  I find that when I pulverize the bananas with the other wet ingredients before adding to the dry, you get the best result.  I use an immersion blender but a regular blender will work just fine.

When adding chocolate chips, raisins or nuts to a quick bread, always mix them in with the dry ingredients.  This will prevent the goodies from sinking to the bottom of the bread while baking.  Even chocolate distribution….very important.
Homemade Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

1 1/2 cups ripe bananas (about 3 large bananas)  I’ve made it with four smaller bananas, the measurement doesn’t have to be exact
3 eggs
2/3 cup oil
2 cups all purpose  flour (you can do half whole wheat flour with half all purpose flour if you like)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips, any variety you like, I love milk chocolate chips:-)

1)   Preheat the oven to 350′.  Coat 4 mini loaf pans well with cooking spray.  They should be about 6″x3″.
2)  If you’re using an immersion blender, place the bananas, eggs, and oil into a large mixing bowl.  Blend well with the immersion blender.  If you’re using a regular blender, blend the bananas, eggs, and oil in the blender and pour into a large mixing bowl.
3)  In a medium size bowl, mix the flour through the chocolate chips until well blended.
4)  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just blended.  Divide among the prepared pans.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Test with a toothpick if you’re unsure if they’re done.  If it comes out clean, you’re good to go.  Allow them to cool on a rack in the pans for about 10 minutes before removing.  Cool completely.  Wrap with cling wrap or put into a cellophane gift bag and tie with a pretty ribbon.

*This bread freezes brilliantly!



Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread Video…..


Pumpkin bread?  In the summer?  Always a wonderful breakfast/snack option in my house.  Why not make a delicious trifle?  Cube the delicious bread and layer in a pretty individual serving dishes with custard, whipped cream, and fresh blueberries…delish!

Check out this video.  This is the simplest and most deliciously moist pumpkin bread I’ve ever had!  I use 100% whole wheat flour in the recipe.  The recipe is especially near and dear to my heart because it’s one of my very first posts in 2009!  It also freezes beautifully.  Bake some up on a mild summer day and squirrel it away for later.

I’ve had a hard time finding canned pumpkin in the stores I shop.  I’ve never had a problem, I could always find pumpkin year round.  There was a pumpkin shortage a couple of years ago.  We had a lot of rain that year and it made it impossible for the farmers to harvest their pumpkins, so sad!  Anyway, I’m wondering if they’re still trying to recover from that.

Have a wonderful evening!


Scratch Whole Grain Biscuits, A Video!


Hurray!  Scot Mc Intosh, you’re the best!

Check out our latest video for Homemade Whole Grain Biscuits!  Simple and delicious!

Whole Grain Biscuits
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup cold butter cut into ½” cubes
½ cup plain non fat or low fat yogurt
½ cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1) Preheat the oven to 375’.
2) Into a medium size mixing bowl, add flour through baking powder.
3) Add cubed butter and combine using your hands or a pastry blender until the flour resembles cornmeal.
4) Whisk the yogurt and the milk together in measuring cup. Make a well in the center of the flour
mixture. Add the yogurt/milk mixture all at once.
5) Mix with a fork until most of the dry ingredients are moistened. Dump onto counter top. With your hands, knead 3-4 times into a ball. Roll out to ½” to ¾”. Using a 3” biscuit cutter, but out as many biscuits as you can. Place about ½” apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
6) Beat the egg with the milk. Using a pastry brush, coat each biscuit top. Place into the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes. Serve immediately with butter and honey. YUMMY!



Traditional Croatian Easter Bread (Sirnica)…..

I absolutely love learning about food traditions of other ethnicitys.    I think it’s my favorite part about being a cook.    Every week I try to make something I’ve never made before, sort of a dinner passport to different places all around the world.  This holy week, I’ll be making Croatian Easter Bread.   Check out another interesting version of this bread made with boiled, colored eggs, so interesting and beautiful!

Heather with her darling daughters Sadie,Clara, and Fiona.

I first had the pleasure of tasting this delicious bread when my friend Heather surprised me with a loaf right before Easter last year.  I was honored that she would share a loaf of her treasured family recipe.    It had a gentle yet distinctive citrus taste and was very pleasantly sweet without being too sweet.  Tender, moist, and delicious.   Of course, after the first bite I wanted to make this bread for all Easter Dinners going forward.  Heather kindly shared her recipe.

Try this Croatian Easter Bread.  It may become the next family tradition in your family:-)

Traditional Croatian Easter Bread


2 cups milk
1 package active dry yeast or 2 ¼ teaspoon

½ cup softened butter (1 stick)
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
Zest of half of a lemon and half of an orange
6 cups all purpose flour
Crushed sugar cubes or sugar for dusting

1) Slightly heat the milk in a microwave. Add the yeast and set aside. (about 10-15 minutes or until yeast is dissolved and a little bubbly)

2) Meanwhile, in a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter, and sugar, then add the eggs and salt, and zest, beat until well blended. Add the yeast-milk mixture and half of the flour, beat well. Add remaining flour gradually, until a smooth, soft dough forms. (you may not use all the flour or may require more)

3) Place the dough in a large greased bowl, burning to coat both sides, and let rise, covered, until doubled. Punch down and turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.

4) Preheat oven to 375′.  Divide dough into 4 to 6 equal pieces, shape into a nice round ball. Cover and allow to rest 5 minutes.

5) Place dough on cookie parchment lined cookie sheet. Egg wash the dough with 1 large beaten egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Sprinkle with crushed sugar cubes. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

 *one way to check if a yeast bread for doneness is to thump it with your fingers, if it sounds hollow, it’s done. Be sure that you have a nice brown color was well.

Pumpkin Bran Muffins…..Weight Watcher’s and Ryan Worthy!

Forget the notion that bran muffins are bland and dry.  As far as bran muffins go, these are incredibly moist and delicious, and will only cost you 4 Weight Watcher’s points!  Packed with flavor and fiber they’re very satisfying and filling.  Ryan gave them the double thumbs up so I know they’re great:-)   My recipe makes 10 but you can easily double it and put some in the freezer (individually wrapped)  for an easy breakfast.  This simple recipe goes together in no time.

Pumpkin Bran Muffins
(4 points/muffin)

Wet ingredients:

½ cup all bran cereal
¼ cup milk
½ cup pumpkin
1/3 cup water
¼ cup non fat yogurt
1 egg
2 T. canola oil
¼ cup raisins

 Dry ingredients:

 1 cup whole wheat flour
6 tablespoons packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon each cloves and nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

 1)  Preheat oven to 350’.  Add 10 muffin liners to muffin pan and coat with cooking spray.

2)  In a medium size mixing bowl, mix all wet ingredients and allow to stand for 10 minutes (this will make the bran cereal dissolve)

3)  In a large mixing bowl add dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients all at once.  Mix until just blended.  Divide among 10 prepared lined muffin cups.  Bake for 16-18 minutes.

*add nuts if you like (this will affect the point value.

Cheddar and Onion Whole Grain Biscuits…..

Umm.  One word.  Delicious.

Ok, maybe a couple more words.    These are made with real ingredients.  I use unbleached all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and wheat germ….and butter.   Can you imagine taking a bite of this right now????  They’re wonderful with honey too.   These go together in 10 minutes and bake for about 17.  Have some leftover?  Quick breakfast:  nuke the biscuit in the microwave for 15 seconds and top with a fried egg and cheese.  That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Cheddar and Onion Whole Grain Biscuits

1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup wheat germ
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
½ cup cold butter, cut into ½” pieces
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup thinly sliced green onions (green part only)
½ cup plain non fat yogurt
½ cup milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon of milk

 1) Preheat oven to 375’. Foil line a cookie sheet, set aside.

2) In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour through the salt, whisk to blend.

3) Add the cubed butter pieces to the flour mixture. Use your hands to work the butter into the dry ingredients until there are no lumps of butter. The flour should resemble cornmeal.

4) Add the cheddar cheese and green onions, stir to blend. Make a well in the center.

5) Whisk the yogurt and milk together. Dump into the center of the flour mixture. Mix with a fork until the dry ingredients are moistened. Dump onto counter. Bring all ingredients together with your hands, knead a few times to make a dough. Dust the counter with a small amount of flour if the dough is too sticky.

6) Roll out the dough to ½” thickness. Using a 3” biscuit cutter, cut out as many biscuits as you can. Place them on the cookie sheet 1” apart. Put the scraps together trying to handle too much and cut out as many as you can. Pitch the scraps.

7) Beat the egg with the milk. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the egg wash. Bake for 14-17 minutes or until the biscuits are golden and set.   Makes 12-15 biscuits.  Serve with butter and honey. Yowza!

*Don’t have yogurt?  Substitute 1 cup of buttermilk, or 1 cup of milk with 1 teaspoon of vinegar.

Have a wonderful day!


St. Patrick’s Day Dinner Accompaniments….

Irish Soda Bread.  This soda bread is not of the dry variety.  This bread is moist, slightly sweet, and quite pleasing to the eye.  I make mini loaves as they take about half the baking time.   The shorter the baking time the less dried out it may become.  You can buy mini aluminum loaf pans at most any grocery store.  Serve alongside your traditional St. Patrick’s Day dinner.  If you have any leftovers, use it for french toast…OH  BOY!

Sauteed Cabbage.  I know this isn’t the traditional “boiled” cabbage but come on!  Who wouldn’t prefer delicious caramelized cabbage over boring boiled cabbage!  Trust me, you’ll LOVE this!  So simple.  Slice the cabbage into quarters and remove the core.  Thinly slice the entire head.    In a heavy large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the cabbage.  Season with kosher salt and pepper.  Cook for 40-50 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring often,  until the cabbage is caramelized. 

Homemade horseradish.  Wow!  If you like the sensation horseradish gives your sinuses, look out!  There is nothing like homemade horseradish to go with your corned beef and potatoes.  It’s quite simple.  Fresh horseradish root can be found in the produce section at most any grocery store.  Make your own cocktail sauce with one cup of ketchup, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.  Add horseradish to taste.  So good!

I hope you have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!


Corn Muffins with Ceddar Cheese and Chives…..

Boy, look at the background in this picture!  I took this last summer….I can’t wait to take my pictures on the deck again!  I love that you can see Ryan’s ball in the back of the yard.  I’m so easily distracted!!!

This muffin is outstanding with most any soup creation you come up with.  They go together in about 10 minutes and bake for only about 17.  These round out your soup into a hearty,  pleasing supper.

Corn Muffins with Cheddar Cheese and Chives

1 ¼ cups flour
¾ cup yellow corn meal
1/2  cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons minced chives
3/4 cup milk
¼ cup sour cream or plain non fat yogurt
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 beaten egg

1) Preheat oven to 350’. Line a twelve count muffin pan with paper liners and coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
2) In a large bowl, add flour through chives, mix to blend.
3) Into a 2 cup measure, measure milk, oil, and add egg. Beat slightly.  Add sour cream or yogurt and give a quick mix.
4) Make a well in the dry ingredients and add liquid all at once. Mix until just blended. Divide evenly among 12 muffin cups. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 12 muffins.
*if you don’t have sour cream or plain yogurt, simply substitute ¼ cup of milk.


You Tube Cinnamon Roll Demo Video!

If you’d like visual instruction on how to make cinnamon rolls (recipe below), click here!  Be advised that this is my very first demonstration video but you get the idea:-)

Have a wonderful evening!