Pumpkin Mac n Cheese

As promised, here is a recipe to use up the pumpkin that is left over from the Pumpkin Cookies with Maple Glaze I shared with you last week. This recipe provides a unique, healthy, delicious twist to the traditional macaroni and cheese dish. Ssssshhh. The kids will never know what’s in it (mine didn’t), and they are even getting a dose of their vitamins from the pumpkin! If you made two batches of the cookies instead of one and no longer have leftover pumpkin puree, you can use another kind of squash puree! The original recipe from Jessica Seinfeld‘s cookbook, “Deceptively Delicious,” calls for butternut squash. It also calls for cream cheese which I switched out for cottage cheese to lower the calories and up the protein power. I’m a busy mom who needs food to energize me as long as my kids do!

Goodbye, boxed mixes! Hello, homemade gourmet! Eat up!

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

Pumpkin Mac n Cheese

2 cups uncooked whole wheat elbow pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste
 

In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add the elbow pasta. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over low-medium flame. Add the flour and stir until flour starts to get pasty, 1 – 3 minutes. Add in the milk and stir until the flour is dissolved. Add the cottage cheese and heat through a little bit to dissolve some of the chunkiness of the cottage cheese. It won’t dissolve completely. Then add in the pumpkin puree and cheddar cheese and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle in the salt and some ground black pepper. Heat this mixture completely through until bubbly and hot. Meanwhile drain the pasta when it has cooked to al dente. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and serve immediately.

Note: If you are used to a mac n cheese with a crumb topping, you can pour this entire meal into a baking dish, sprinkle the top with a mixture of melted butter and bread crumbs, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 -15 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Ingredients
ingredients I had a very tiny bit of Parmesan cheese that I needed to use up so I threw that in also just for the heck of it.
Flour paste

flour paste

Milk and flour in skillet
milk and flour  You probably noticed that I am featuring two different pans here, so let me explain. I had a mom brain moment and forgot to snap a picture of the flour paste the first time around so when I made this dish a second time in a different skillet without having a mom brain moment, I remembered to bust out the camera. Moving on…
Cottage cheese and pumpkin added to skillet
cottage cheese and pumpkin As you can see, the cottage cheese does not dissolve completely.
Looking so creamy and yummy!

cheese sauce

Bring on the cheddar, baby!

cheddar cheese

Dive in!

Pumpkin Mac n Cheese

A spoonful of mac n cheese makes the medicine go down…Whoops! Wrong song!

spoonful

 
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Pumpkin Cookies with Maple Glaze

A few weeks ago the boys and I were invited to a friend’s house for pumpkin painting and carving. My son got carried away with both his imagination and the paintbrush, creating what looked more like a giant plum than a spooky jack-o-lantern.  It doesn’t quite fit in with my decorating theme outside the front door, but his efforts did merit him a Pumpkin Cookie with Maple Glaze. These cookies were a big hit at our little gathering that day, and I thought you would enjoy them too.

The perfect treat to bring to a Halloween party, these delicious chewy cookies are a very healthy alternative to the usual candy and cakes. Your child will not be bouncing off the walls after eating these, so no worries there! They are sweetened with my all-time favorite – maple syrup – and topped off with a little drizzle of it also. I love that the recipe does not require you to use a whole can of pumpkin so you have some leftover to make more yummy treats. Hmm. I think I have another blog post coming to me.

All treats and no tricks here! Eat Up!

Pumpkin Cookies with Maple Glaze

Pumpkin Cookies

Cookies
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup peeled, grated apple
 
Glaze
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and maple syrup in a large bowl. Add the canned pumpkin, egg, and vanilla, stirring it all together with a whisk. In a separate bowl, mix the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and spice. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Add the grated apple and mix until well combined. Place heaping tablespoons of batter on two greased cookie sheets, leaving a few inches in between each one to allow them to spread. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until the bottom edges just start to brown. Transfer to a rack and cool before pouring on the glaze. Yield: 3 dozen

To make the glaze:Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low-medium heat, whisking constantly to make sure all the ingredients blend well together, 5 – 10 minutes. Cool slightly before pouring over the cookies.

This original recipe came from the The Maple Syrup Cookbook by Ken Haedrich.
 
The stars of the table

ingredients

Dry and wet ingredients

dry ingredients     wet ingredients

Grated apple and batter

grated apple     batter

Out of the oven and cooling

     Pumpkin Cookies

Glaze

glaze

Glazed cookies

glazed cookies

 

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Walnut Streusel Bread

A few weeks ago my friend Pam hosted a play date and served one of the most delicious quick breads I have ever tasted, Walnut Streusel Bread. Being the food blogging mom that I am, I bugged her for the recipe so I could make it at home and share it with all of you.  The original recipe was from Cooking Light Magazine, but I added my usual twists, and it came out tasting just as scrumptious.

The streusel topping calls for cinnamon, but I want to introduce you to a new glorious spice I tried that is perfect for the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas baking. Move over cinnamon! Hello Apple Pie Spice! You know how the fashion industries go through color seasons where pink is the new black and taupe is the new white? Well, I’ve decided the food industry needs to do the same, and apple pie spice is the new cinnamon. It’s that good! You can get it from my favorite spice place, Penzeys Spices, or I’m sure any grocery store would have a similar product. The ingredients include two different kinds of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and mace which is a spice with a flavor similar to nutmeg.

I could go on all day about how deliciously marvelous this bread is, but I would be keeping you from making a loaf for yourself. So go! Bake a loaf! Right now!

Walnut Streusel Bread

sliced walnut streusel bread

Streusel
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
 
Bread
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
5 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup rice milk
 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with baking spray.

To make the streusel topping, combine the sugar, oats, flour, and apple pie spice in a small bowl. Add the melted butter, stir until combined, then add the chopped nuts. Mix again and set aside.

To make the bread, combine the flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium size bowl. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until well blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat again. On a low speed, alternately beat in the flour mixture and the milk into the butter mixture. Beat until combined. Pour half the bread batter into the loaf pan, then pour half the streusel on top. Pour the rest of the bread batter on top of the streusel, then with a butter knife, swirl this mixture. Finish off with the remaining streusel. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for at least 10 minutes before removing the loaf to finish cooling on a wire rack. Eat Up!

Note: The streusel topping could be used on many different quick breads if you wanted to jazz one up. I’ve made this bread several times already and doubled the streusel topping once, but it made the bread too dense. I just thought I would let you know so you don’t go a little streusel crazy like I did and make the same mistake!

Wet and dry ingredients

mixing bowls

The glorious streusel. It was worthy of a picture by itself!

streusel

The bread batter

bread batter

Layering

layers     layering

Topping it off! Note to self: Do a better job of EVENLY dividing the streusel between the middle layer and the top layer. As you can see from the picture, I came up a little short on this top layer. Don’t worry, though; the world didn’t cone to end!

topping

A baked loaf of lusciousness
walnut streusel bread     walnut streusel bread
The glorious rays of Heaven even shone down on this magnificent baked delight. At least that is what struck me when I took this picture. Actually, it was the light coming in from the skylight above.

heavenly bread

walnut streusel bread

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Homemade Birthday Treats

My oldest son, Jake, celebrated his third birthday a few weeks ago, and I had a play date birthday party in his honor! My sister and her two children graced us with their presence, as did my good friends Maria and Pam and their children. Much fun was had by all, and I can’t wait for the next birthday celebration! I always count a party a success when the moms have as much fun as the kids, and there is hardly any stress preparing for it.

What’s my secret for a stress-free birthday treat that takes less time to make than ordering a cake and picking it up? Vanilla Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting! I’m on a total Autumn baking kick these days, and since my son’s birthday falls at this time of year, these glorious cupcakes fit in nicely to my baking line-up. You don’t need a birthday excuse, though, to whip up these homemade treats. Just any Autumn day would do! The original recipe was from the Penzeys Spices catalog, which is where I order a lot of my seasonings from, but I added in my usual twists. I found that using pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon really jazzed up the flavor and gave the cupcakes a more dreamy taste. I hope you agree. Eat up!

What do you like to serve at birthday parties for your children?

Vanilla Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

vanilla pumpkin spice cupcakes

Cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup almond or rice milk (you can use regular milk)
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
 
Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3 cups powered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup almond or rice milk (you can use regular)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 

For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill a 12-count cupcake tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until well blended. Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract and beat again. In another bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until well combined. Fill the cupcake tin and bake for 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Invert the cupcakes onto a wire rack and cool before frosting.

For the frosting, beat all the icing ingredients in large bowl until well combined. Have a few spoonfuls then frost the cupcakes! It doesn’t get much better than that!

 
The ingredients

ingredients

Fresh out of the oven

fresh out of the oven

Frosted and ready to be eaten. Get this party started!

frosted cupcakes

Bring out the birthday boy!

birthday boy

My youngest son ate the other half of this. Sorry. Just so you know, I devoured this piece after taking this photo! Wouldn’t you!?!

half eaten cupcake

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Something Smells Fishy Around Here

It was a Friday night, I didn’t feel like cooking, and I was hoping someone would suggest we go out to eat. Ever feel this way? I’m sure most moms do at one time or another, and when the suggestion to go out doesn’t materialize, everything you need for my quick Fish Tacos are probably on hand already. I realized I had the fish, taco shells, and taco fixings in the cupboard, and a brilliant dinner idea was born! Okay, not really, but it did make cooking that night super quick and easy which, in my opinion, is a brilliant idea any night of the week!

As I mentioned above, I used whatever I had in my fridge to make these, but the tacos are missing the typical Mexican ingredients like tomatoes and avocado, so if you have these in your possession, I highly recommend using them. They did taste just fine without them, though. Any mild white fish (wild caught is best) will work, and I just happened to have on hand Seamazz Deep Sea Dory Fillet, which is a good choice. My dear friend Maria was oh so very kind to share some of her mother-in law’s delicious homemade salsa with me, and it added just the right amount of flavor and spice. Serve with some homemade margaritas (every mom needs one of these every now and then), and you just might not want to eat out ever again! Maybe!

Fish Tacos

fish tacos

5 – 6  thin medium-sized white fish fillets
1 small can sliced black olives
6 – 8 hard corn taco shells, warmed
Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1/2  small head of lettuce, chopped
1/2  8 oz. jar of your favorite salsa
Shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
 

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet on the stove. Place the fish fillets on a cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place these pieces in the skillet on low-medium heat, and cook for 10 – 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through (white in color). Add the salsa and continue to cook until heated through, another 5-10 minutes. Salt and pepper according to your liking and/or add some taco seasoning if you want more kick. I have learned that just like each and every one of us is unique in our own way, so we all build and layer our tacos according to our own tastes. Having said that, here is the way I do it! Take a taco shell, fill the bottom with fish, then sprinkle with cheese (so it melts from the hot fish), add lettuce, and top with olives, Greek yogurt, and more salsa. Eat up! Serves 4.

ingredients   fish The amigos

cooking fish Cooked fish

salsa fish Salsa added

Mucho Gracias!

fish tacos

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