Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Things Pumpkin

Lately I've been trying to keep my head above water with stuff around the house, the busyness of the season and taking care of my precious boy.  And if I'm being honest, taking a nap is usually more appealing than writing a new post. So, needless to say, I have totally slacked on blogging.  For this reason, I decided it was about time for a new post! In the spirit of the upcoming holidays, I decided to share a few of my latest pumpkin recipes that have turned out to be total successes.  Recipes are below the descriptions.

The first...Pumpkin Chiffon Cake. I made this one thinking that I didn't have time to make a pumpkin pie because if I'm going to make a pie, I'm going to make it with a homemade crust.  Ever since my grandma taught me how to make her homemade crusts, I don't take pie making lightly.  You either go all out and make the best pie ever or you don't make one at all. So...since making a pie is serious business and I knew I didn't have time for anything too serious but still wanted something pumpkinny that day I decided on this Pumpkin cake.  However, I ignored the Chiffon part and didn't realize that it was not a normal cake - a slight overlook that probably would have been noticed if I was a more seasoned baker.  With that said, let me also say that it was totally worth the 9 eggs it requires.

The second...Baked Pumpkin Seeds. This, of course, requires a trip to the pumpkin patch which we did for the first time for not only my baby but my hubby too! With my nephews along for the ride, we visited the petting zoo, stumbled through the kiddo corn maze and even went on the hayride! While we did get a few good pictures, I didn't realize the hayride would put him to sleep! The baby, not the hubby.  So he slept through most of the trip.  But, that's okay because now I just get to go back do another photo shoot! Maybe this time it won't be so dang hot...we are in October, almost November, right?

The third...Pumpkin Cheesecake.  I saw this on in a cooking magazine and needed an excuse to try it.  What better than my brother's 28th birthday? A man who likes pumpkin pie and cheesecake, so as a gift I did what any good sister who stays at home would do and I baked him a present! I had to experiment with this one since I had never baked a cheesecake before.  I'm not going to lie, I wasn't exactly sure what I was doing but afterwards I came to the realization that I make a pretty darn good cheesecake. I just need a better way to remove it from the pan. It didn't look as good as it tasted.  Needless to say, after all this baking, a trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond is in my near future.  (Before I published this post, another cheesecake was made and much better pics were taken so I will post those in another post to redeem myself.)

The fourth and final recipe...a do-it-yourself Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Now, I'm all for Starbucks.  In fact, they get a good portion of my money on a weekly basis.  However, I am also all for being able to do things projects, food, and now - coffee! I usually just get an iced coffee from Starbucks but every holiday season I hear people rave about the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Well folks, now you can have it whenever the craving middle of July perhaps.  (Pictures were taken and already posted on fb so, I did not feel the need to repost it here. Just imagine a steamy, hot cup of coffee with yummy whipped cream on top.  Yup...go make it!)
As mentioned before, the recipes are below but before I get to those...I would like to dedicate this post to my dear grandmother who passed away October 10th, 2010.  I still cannot look through her recipe book without tearing up. She passed the baking gene onto me and would have been the first person in line to taste these pumpkin creations - except for the coffee one, she drank hers black. 

I miss her.

Pumpkin Chiffon Cake
Serves: 12
Prep: 30 min (plus cooling)
Bake: 55 min

What you need:
1 cup flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated, plus 5 eggs whites, at room temperature
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Make It!
1. Prehet the oven to 325 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt.  In amedium bowl, combine the egg yolks and pumpkin puree.  Stir the pumpkin mixtureinto theflour mixture until smooth.
2. Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whop the remaining 9 eggs whites at medium speed ntil foamy, about 2 minutes.  With he machine on, gradually whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar; increase the speed to high and beat until stuff but moist, 1 ot 2 minutes.
3. Add one-quarter of the egg white mixture to the pumpkin batter, folding with a rubber spatula just until no streaks remain.  Fold in the remaining egg white mixture in the same manner.  Pour the batter into a 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom and bake until springy to the touch and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 minutes.
4. Let cool in the cake pan for 5 minutes, then invert the pan onto a narrow-necked bottle and let hang upside down until completely cook, about 1 1/2 hours.  Place the cake right-side up and remove the pan.  To serve, dust the cake with the confectioners' sugar.

Baked Pumpkin Seeds

What you need:
Pumpkin Seeds
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Make It:
1. Scoop out pumpkin seeds with large, metal spoon.
2. Clean seeds well.
3. Boil in salted water for 10 min.
4. Spread onto oiled baking sheet and bake for 10-20 minutes or until browned. 

Pumpkin Cheesecake

What you need:
38 Ginger snaps, finely crushed
1/4 up finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 pkg (8 oz.ea.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup thawed Cool Whip whipped topping
1/2 tsp.ground nutmeg

Make it!
Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix crumbs, nuts and butter; press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of 9 inch springform pan.  Beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer until blended.  Add pumpkin, spice and vanilla; mix well.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixingafter each just until blended.  Pour into crust.  Bake 1 hour 20 min. to 1 hour 30 min. or until center is almost set.  Loosen cake from rim of pan; cool before removing rim.  Refrigerate 4 hours.  Serve with a dollop of Cool Whip and a dusting of nutmeg.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

What you need:
3 cups hot whole milk
4 teaspoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
6 ounces double-strength brewed coffee
3 tablespoons sweetened whipped cream
3 pinches pumpkin pie spice

Make It!
1. Combine the hot milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice in a blender; blend until frothy. Pour the mixture into 3 coffee mugs to about 2/3 full. Pour 2 ounces coffee into each mug. Garnish each mug with whipped topping and pumpkin pie spice.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Decorations and Dinner

While I'm still discovering a whole new skill-set with this staying-at-home business, there is no doubt that my hubby has not only found his skill but has zeroed in on it.
My husband is one of the hardest workers that I've ever known (right up there with my own dad) and he is also a very talented wood worker.  I atrribute this skill to a couple things: the first, a God-given talent and curiousity on how to take things apart and put them back together.  The second attribution would be to his parents for allowing him to take those things apart and encouraging him in his interests.  He has made several items for around our home and a few items for our families.  Just recently, after much consideration, we decided to start selling some of his work.  Being the perfectionist that he is, my hubby works extremely hard on making these items look like something that someone could buy in a store.  I have included some pictures of these items.  If anyone is interested in these items, message me or check them out at  Yes, I am unashamedly promoting my husband's work but he's really that good.

segmented wood bowl

decorative airplane propellor (this particular one is hanging in our son's nursery)

wood bangle
decorative cross

Speaking of skills...I'm definitely working on my own.  I used to be really good at school work and I was starting to be pretty good at teaching - all of these things I'm taking a sabatical from.  So, with my other skills on hold for now, I'm developing new ones - cooking being one of them.  I have taken to reading cook books, cooking magazines and blogs/websites.  I've decided to take on this cooking deal as an adventure and I'm lucky to have a hubby that is willing to experiment with me.  Last night's adventure in skill-making was homemade chicken alfredo fettuccini.  And let me tell you...yum! I think my skill-set just went up a notch! I included the recipe and I encourage everyone to try it...alfredo fettucini is not the healthiest meal but it is a fav in our household so making it from scratch is slightly better for you than from the box. 

Chicken Alfredo Fettuccini

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook 1 pound fettuccine pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes.  Drain in a colander, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Using the same pot, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Add 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasrta water and bring to a simmer.  Add the fettuccine and 1 1/4 cups finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (about 5 ounces) and toss.  Season with salt and pepper and add more pasta water to make a looser sauce, if desired.  Top with chopped flat-leaf parsley and serve with more cheese. Optional: add chicken (however much is desired by your fam, we used 5 chicken tenders).
Add some fresh veggies and you're good to go!

What's for dinner tonight, you may ask? Another fav...Turkey BLT's.  Super easy...made with turkey bacon for a healthier twist. 
pic taken from another time we had this meal.

I am always praying for Baby B's own developing skills and I can't help but wonder if watching me cook would spark an interest in his little mind but I also know that my hubby cannot wait for him to be out in the garage helping him with his own creations! Either way is fine with me, my prayer is that he finds what he loves!

this happens to be my screen saver...makes me smile everytime I open the computer. :)