Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

  Happy Halloween!

    Halloween festivities started early at our house. 

    The boys gave their costumes a trial run by wearing them to Friday Night's UGA soccer game. 

    Last night the kids carved their pumpkins.

    Can you guess whose is whose?

    While the kids were busy carving, I was gathering up all the seeds out of the kids pumpkins for roasting.

    First I rinsed them all really well.

    Then I separated the seeds into 3 different bathes.  

    I made little trays out of aluminum foil to separate them on one baking sheet so I could bake them all at once.

    I baked them for 20 minutes at 300.

     Chili Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

     Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

    Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt

    They were all really good but cinnamon sugar was by far my favorite.

    I don't know what it is like on Halloween night at your house but I can assure that it gets chaotic at my house about 2 hours before the trick or treating begins.  When the kids were younger, I always planned to feed my family a healthy dinner before they headed out to the streets to collect candy.  Unfortunately, even though I had the best of intentions, the healthy dinner often took a back seat to last minute preparations.  As the kids got older, I took on the primary role of Halloween organizer.  I found myself preoccupied with costume alterations, searching for accessories or locating appropriate footwear in the hours leading up to trick or treating.  I finally realized that sitting down to a big family dinner on Halloween night is just not feasible, but I wasn't willing to sacrifice my healthy meal.  

    Last Friday, I was scurrying around the kitchen working on a cake and watching The Chew on TV.  Chef Michael Smith was making a goulash that looked like something that my family would love and he did it in 5 minutes!  (They actually timed him or I wouldn't have believed it.)   I thought I would give it a try and even though it took me 10 minutes to make - it was still a really fast dinner.  This would be a great meal to serve your family before they head out for trick or treating tonight.  

    This meal is so simple - it only has 6 ingredients.  

    Ground Turkey (or Ground Beef)
    1 can Diced Tomatoes
    1/2 pound elbow macaroni
    1 onion, chopped
    1 clove garlic crushed
    Parmesan cheese

    Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.


    Brown turkey in skillet.


    Chop onions and garlic.


    Add onions and garlic to turkey.

    Add tomatoes to turkey mixture. Bring mixture to a boil and and allow to simmer 2 minutes.

    Add pasta to mixture. You can add reserved pasta water to thin sauce if it becomes too thick.

    Top with Parmesan cheese and serve.

    My family really like this ghoul-ash.  (pun intended)  My daughter ate 2 huge helpings and my son and my husband both loved it too. This super quick meal hit the spot on a chilly night. Give it a try and stay warm out there tonight.

    Bon Appetit!

    Sunday, October 30, 2011

    Nutritious Fall Snacks

    I have posted in the past about my love for pumpkin spice lattes.  As much as I love them - I live in Georgia and the weather isn't always conducive to drinking hot coffee drinks.  October has been absolutely beautiful.  We have cool mornings and evenings and temperatures in the 70s during the afternoons.  No complaints from me - I love this weather.

    I don't usually drink hot coffee drinks until the temperatures drop much lower but I've missed my lattes.  I decided to turn the flavors that I love in my pumpkin spice latte into a smoothie that I could enjoy now. 

    Remember my vow to make more smoothies?  There is just something serene and relaxing about sipping a smoothie that is hard to describe.  I focus my life on good living and this vitamin and calcium packed smoothie is a great way to experience Fall, even when the weather is warm.


    Pumpkin Spice Smoothie
    1/2 cup Fage yogurt
    1/4 cup canned pumpkin
    1 Tablespoon honey
    1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    1 cup ice
    1/2 cup apple cider

    I put all of the ingredients in my smoothie blender and the result: a super yummy pumpkin spice smoothie.  I made this quick, healthy treat with ingredients that I already had on hand.  I sipped on it while I worked on my blog and this nutritious drink kept me energized and focused.  Good living means eating foods that are good for me but also taste good.

    I've had so much fun coming up with new smoothie recipes.  Some were better than others but this one was exceptional.  If you have a great smoothie recipe - send it to me in a comment.   I am especially interested in finding great winter smoothie recipes. 

    Since I always need something that I can bite into along with my smoothie, I also made a batch of cinnamon frosted pumpkin cookies.  I got the recipe from the blog "For the Love of Cooking".   


    Cinnamon Frosted Pumpkin Cookies
    2 cups flour                                         2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    1/2 cup whole wheat flour                1/2 cup butter
    1 teaspoon baking powder                1 1/2 cups sugar
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda                 1 cup canned pumpkin
    1/2 teaspoon salt                                 1 egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Combine flour, wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

    Cream butter, sugar and pumpkin pie spice.  Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla.

    Add dry ingredients.

    Drop onto baking sheets.  Bake 15 minutes at 350.

    Cool on wire racks.

    Cinnamon Icing
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    2 cups powdered sugar
    3-4 Tablespoons milk
    1 Tablespoon melted butter

    Combine icing ingredients and spoon over cookies. 

    These cookies were absolutely wonderful. Soft and moist and delicious. 

    As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here:

    Bon Appetit!

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    Pumpkin Crisis

    A couple of years ago, I had a hard time finding canned pumpkin in the grocery stores.  Unbeknownst to me, there was a pumpkin shortage that year which meant that canned pumpkin was sparse.  Apparently it was a nationwide shortage because I called my mom and asked her to buy some pumpkin for me in Ohio and she ran into the same issues.  It was a pretty sad Thanksgiving with no pumpkin pie.  From now on, when I see canned pumpkin hit the supermarket shelves in late September, I start to stock up.  I love to cook with pumpkin (obviously) and I certainly don't want to face another pumpkin crisis. 

    Ben asked me to make a birthday cake for a friend of his last week so naturally, I thought of my pumpkin butterscotch cake.  I make this cake at least once every Fall.  The pumpkin makes it nice and moist and the spices really add a nice flavor.  Don't let that fact that it is a scratch cake discourage you from trying it.  It really is easy and I took some photos to help walk you through it.

    Pumpkin Cake with Butterscotch Sauce
    1 2/3 cup butterscotch chips               ½ teaspoon ground cloves
    2 cups flour                                             1 cup pumpkin
    1 ¾ cup sugar                                         ½ cup oil
    1 Tablespoon baking powder               3 eggs
    1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon                       1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 teaspoon salt                                        1/3 cup evaporated milk
    ½ teaspoon nutmeg

    Grease a bundt pan.  Microwave 1 cup chips until melted.  Cool to room temperature.  Combine dry ingredients.

     Stir together melted chips, pumpkin, oil, eggs and vanilla. 

     Stir in flour mixture.

    Spoon batter into bundt pan.  Bake 4-50 minutes at 350.  Cool 30 minutes in pan and remove. 

    For Sauce:  Heat evaporated milk until boiling.  Remove from heat.  Add 2/3 cup chips and return to heat.  Bring to a boil.

     Cool to room temperature.  Drizzle over cooled cake.

    This was somewhat of an nontraditional birthday cake but it was well received.   I really like to eat this cake with my morning tea.  It is just as good as coffee cake as it is a dessert.

    I also baked a batch of pumpkin cupcakes last week to send to school for FCA.   They were really good and really cute. 

    Cream Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes                                 Filling
    2 cups sugar                                                                      8 Tablespoons butter
    3/4 cup oil                                                                         8 ounces cream cheese
    1 can pumpkin                                                                   2 cups powdered sugar
    4 eggs                                                                                1 teaspoon vanilla
    2 cups flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    In bowl of mixer combine sugar, pumpkin, oil and eggs. 

    In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

    Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture.  Stir until combined.  Fill muffin cups two thirds full with batter.

    Bake 22 minutes at 350.

    Let cupcakes cool on a wire rack.  (It was so tempting to eat them warm - they smelled amazing.)

    I filled 24 cupcake papers and I still had some leftover batter so I decided to make some mini bundt cakes.  My family was so happy that there were samples.

    Combine filling ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend until smooth.  

    I used this handy dandy little tool to take the centers out of the cupcakes.  If you don't happen to have one of these corers, a paring knife works just as well.

    Fill the centers of the cupcakes with cream filling and replace the core.  Top each with a whole clove. For the mini bundt cakes, I piped a dollop of cream filling in the center of each.  If you like to taste more cupcake and less frosting, these cupcakes are perfect for you.  For me, it was the perfect cake to frosting ratio.  There were not cupcakes that came home from school so I guess the kids at FCA thought they were pretty good too.

    Bon Appetit!

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Not so origional

    My kids love this snack mix.  I can't blame them really - what's not to like??   Melted chocolate, peanut butter and butter poured over crunchy cereal and covered in sugar. 


    My mom handed this recipe down to me a long time ago - even before I was married.  It was passed down to her from a family friend.  I thought that it was an original recipe and I made it for years thinking I was making a unique snack mix that very few people had ever heard tasted.  You can imagine my surprise when I was eating breakfast one morning only to find my "original" recipe on the back of the Chex cereal box!  So much for having an origional recipe - little did I know that Chex lovers everywhere were making the same recipe. 

    I copied the Chex recipe for Muddy Buddies from the Chex webiste to my blog. 
    15 Minutes!

    Chex® Muddy Buddies®

    Another popular name for this favorite mix is "puppy food". Chow down; it's doggone good!
    Prep Time:15 min
    Start to Finish:15 min
    Makes:18 servings (1/2 cup each)
    Corn Chex®Rice Chex®Chocolate Chex®
    9cups Rice Chex®, Corn Chex® or Chocolate Chex® cereal (or combination)
    1cup semisweet chocolate chips
    1/2cup peanut butter
    1/4cup butter or margarine
    1teaspoon vanilla
    1 1/2cups powdered sugar

    Preparation Directions
    1.Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.
    2.In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
    3.Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.
    Nutritional Information
    1 Serving: Calories 210 (Calories from Fat 80); Total Fat 9g (Saturated Fat 4g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 5mg; Sodium 170mg; Total Carbohydrate 29g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 16g); Protein 3% Daily Value*: Vitamin A 6%; Vitamin C 6%; Calcium 6%; Iron 25Exchanges: 1 Starch; 1 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat Carbohydrate Choices: 2 MyPyramid Servings: 1 tsp Fats & Oils
    *% Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

    I thought I would a few pictures of my own too.

    Corn Chex

    Melted chocolate, peanut butter and butter

    Coated cereal

    Cereal mix drying on waxed paper lined cookie sheets.

    I added a bag of candy corn to my snack mix to make it more festive. 

    My kids were super excited to see this snack sitting on the table when they got home from school.

    After I stopped them from eating it all, I put some in baggies to send to school for FCA snack.

    Warning:  This snack mix is VERY addictive.  It is really hard to stop eating it once you start.

    Just in case you were curious - and you probably are - my family didn't eat all of this week's featured Halloween treats.  Quite a few of them went to a party last weekend for my group of middle and high school girls from church.


    I packed up the peanut butter spider crackers, the chocolate pretzels, the rest of the Muddy Buddies snack mix, the chocolate popcorn, the spider cupcakes and the pumpkin cookies for the party.  You didn't really think that we are ALL those treats by ourselves, did you?

    We had some teenage help.  I saved a few treats and put them in the freezer to save for Halloween night too.

    Bon Appetit!