Pumpkin Tipping

16 Nov

Frozen Pumpkin- FamilyKitchenBlog.com

No, I’m not talking about knocking pumpkins over!

It’s just a “tip” about using pumpkin puree. :)

This is an idea I totally should/could have come up with all on my own.  It was tempting to take the credit, but I will humble myself and admit I had to learn about it on someone else’s blog: scalingbackblog.com.

As you might have guessed from the photo above, the idea is (drumroll, please) to freeze pumpkin puree in an ice cube tray for use in smoothies or recipes with small amounts.  This is also an effective way to avoid wasting pumpkin since not all recipes call for the exact amount of pumpkin contained in one can.

Case in point:  the day I was at the grocery store to buy pumpkin, they only had the large size can in stock.  I bought it, knowing full well it was more than I needed, but feeling I had no other choice.  (It really was a tough decision for me- I abhor inefficiency and waste!) Then, when it came time to bake and I only needed 16 of the 29 ounces, I found this brilliant idea and filled up an entire ice cube tray with the left over pumpkin. It reminded me a lot of making vegetable purees for baby food back in the day!  (Another reason why I should have thought of this on my own!!)

So anyway, I hope you will benefit from this idea that I didn’t come up with!  And maybe someday I’ll stop punishing myself for not thinking of it first!



P.S. I’m writing so much about pumpkin lately that a whole category, or at the very least a tag, for pumpkin is becoming a necessity!

A Popcorn Treat

14 Nov

Butterscotch Popcorn- FamilyKitchenBlog.com

Q: What do you get when you cross a popcorn lover with a sweet tooth?

A: Candy-covered popcorn!

Seriously, there are a ton of chocolate-covered-popcorn-type ideas out there.  And for good reason.  It tastes amazing and is easy to make.  It’s the perfect thing for those times when you want something a little special but don’t want to put much time and effort into it, such as family movie night, a kids slumber party, or- in my case- girls scrapbooking night.

I went to my pantry planning to make white chocolate popcorn, but as it turned out all I had were butterscotch chips.  Which worked amazingly well! Thanks to eatgood4life.blogspot.com for the idea.

Butterscotch Popcorn

  • 1 Cup Unpopped kernels
  • 1- 11oz Bag of Butterscotch chips
  • 1 or 2 Teaspoons Shortening

Pop kernels according to these directions, a half cup at a time.  Melt chips in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each and stopping as soon as it is completely smooth.  Stir shortening into melted chips while still hot.  Add one teaspoon at a time and check consistency.  The shortening is just to thin out the chocolate or butterscotch, helping it spread more easily.  Use hands to toss and coat the popcorn (this is the only short-lived messy part).  Sprinkle with salt if desired (for a more sweet and salty taste).  Let it cool long enough for the chocolate to harden before serving (approx 30-60 minutes).

Pumpkin Better Than… Cake

4 Nov

Pumpkin Better Than… Cake- FamilyKitchenBlog.com

I realize that Halloween has passed, but it’s still fall, so I’m still posting pumpkin recipes!  I’m a sucker for trying new recipes, especially when they are introduced with such pretty pictures on Pinterest.  And this one tastes even better than it looks (as the name implies- haha!)!  This rich, moist treat is best enjoyed after refrigerating overnight, making it an excellent dessert choice when you’re cooking dinner to company and don’t have time to bake dessert at the same time!

Pumpkin Better Than… Cake
from SomethingSwanky.com

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 small can pumpkin puree (15oz)
  • 1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 – 8 ounce tub cool whip
  • 1/2 bag Heath Bits
  • Caramel Sauce (I used butterscotch sauce)

Mix together the cake mix and the pumpkin puree (DO NOT add the other ingredients on the cake mix box).  Pour batter into a well greased 9×13 baking dish. Bake at 350º  for as long as directed for a 9×13 cake on the cake mix box.

Let cool for about 10 minutes after baking. Using the bottom of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over the top of the cake (this post has great step by step photos for this part).  Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the cake, filling the holes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Spread the cool whip over top of cake. Sprinkle on the heath bits, and drizzle caramel over top (just to your liking). Refrigerate for 3-4 hours, or overnight for best results.

Pretzel Pumpkin Patch

29 Oct

Pretzel Pumpkin Patch

Okay, so this recipe doesn’t actually have any pumpkin flavor, but they sure are a cute and easy fall food activity for kids!  Or for any age- I made these with my son and my grandmother.  I think the pictures speak for themselves, so I’ll jump right to the directions.  My thanks to Jessica at butterwithasideofbread.com for the idea.

  • 1 Bag Orange Candy Melts (available at crafts stores such as Michaels or JoAnns)
  • 1/2 bag (approx) Pretzels- regular shape, not pretzel sticks
  • Green M&M’s  (You’ll need to purchase one Large (19.2oz) bag of M&M’s to get enough green ones for this project)
  • Wax paper

First, have kids sort the green M&M’s from the other colors in the bag.  Next, melt the candy melts in microwave in a glass bowl, according to directions on bag.  If the melted candy seems too thick, you can add a teaspoon or two of shortening to thin it out.

Using a fork, dip pretzels one at a time into melted candy.  Fully coat pretzel before removing.  Tap on side of bowl to allow excess candy to drip off.  Place on wax paper and immediately place green M&M in the top crevice.  The candy will set fairly quickly (maybe an hour total) at room temperature, but you can refrigerate or freeze them to speed up the process.

Once the candy is hardened, gently break off any remaining excess candy around the pretzels.  Then place pumpkins on a platter to create your very own edible pumpkin patch!

Note to Self

23 Oct

Note to Self

I have a little story to tell:

Back in September, it was yet another day of getting moved into our new house, when our friendly little Boy Scout neighbor caught my unsuspecting husband with a convincing sales pitch.  For some unfortunate reason, I (who normally handles ALL neighbor kid sales) was no where to be found and consequently an ungodly amount of popcorn was purchased.  To be fair, I’m all in favor of supporting Boy Scouts and the popcorn was indeed yummy.  But I’m the only one in our family who eats it.  And once it was in our possession, I certainly couldn’t let it go to waste.

Here is the problem.  The large bag of Butter Toffee Caramel Corn states that it contains 19- 110 calories servings.  Nineteen!?  I’ll just admit it-  I ate it in THREE.  I don’t even want to think about the calories involved here.  But I thought that if I can’t remember my own advice regarding snacking (see previous Snack Attack post), maybe it’s worth repeating to spare someone else from falling into the same pit I did!

So here it is: When faced with a large content of snacking material, divide it up into single serving portions from the get-go to avoid mindless over-eating.  Had I divided the humongous bag into even 12 smaller ones, I would have done myself a huge favor.  Not only calorie wise, but it also would have given me more mileage (i.e. number of snacks per money spent) out of the purchase.  For whatever reason, it’s mentally so much easier to stop eating when you reach the end of the single serving bag, than to stop in the middle of a large portion.

So follow my words, not my example :(  Hopefully this “note to self” will stick a little better this time around.

For the Love of Nutella

23 Oct

For the Love of Nutella

There are a plethora of tantalizing Nutella recipes floating around in cyberspace, but I couldn’t pass up the simplicity of this one.  Three quick ingredients, plus a few short minutes in the oven, and you have yourself a decadent cookie in hand!  It doesn’t get any easier than this, folks!

After doing a little research, I learned that this recipe was originally a four ingredient recipe as described at ABusyNest.com in 2010.  Then somewhere along the way, it was pinned on pinterest, with the recommendation to leave out the sugar.  I followed this suggestion and wholeheartedly agree.  Added sugar is simply not necessary, as the Nutella is plenty sweet on its own.

Nutella Cookies

  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 cup flour

Mix ingredients together until well blended.  Form into balls and drop onto cookie sheet by the teaspoonful.  Bake for 7-8 min at 350°.

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

19 Oct

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

Nothing tastes like fall more than pumpkin, so here’s a way to enjoy it in the morning.  And while I love a nice warm Pumpkin Spice Latte as much as the next person, the advantage of this recipe is that it is a more nutritious option and I can make it at home (i.e. less expensive).  I tinkered with this recipe for several weeks and finally feel like I got it to a good place.  So, please, take advantage of all my trial and error work!

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

  • 1 Medium Frozen Banana
  • 1/3 or 1/2 Cup Frozen Peach slices
  • 1/3 Cup Pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 or 1/2 Cup Vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Pumpkin Pie spice
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Stevia (optional)
  • 1 Scoop Unflavored or Vanilla protein powder (optional)
  •  1/2 to 1 Cup Milk (I poured it until the milk covered half of the other ingredients)

Place frozen fruit in blender first (If using non-frozen fruit add a half cup of crushed ice).  Next add pumpkin, yogurt, and spices.  Lastly, poor milk over it all until it it covers at least half of the ingredients.  Blend until smooth and enjoy!

A Vegetable Interlude

16 Oct

Crispy Edamame – FamilyKitchenBlog.com

I realize I’ve been posting a lot of sweet recipes lately.  And with all the pumpkin and nutella recipes floating around in my kitchen this fall, I don’t really intend to stop.  But for the sake of balance (for which I usually strive), I will throw in this one veggie post!

My family has been in a vegetable rut for quite some time now.  Seeing as how it was time to add something new to the mix, I decided to try edamame (sounds fancy, right?).  I skeptically thought maybe it was actually lima beans being re-marketed as something exotic.  But apparently not!  They are both legumes, but edamames are actually soybeans with origins in Asia; lima beans are from South America.  Nutritionally, edamame has twice the protein and half the carbs of lima beans, but are missing some of the vitamins found in lima beans.

So, how do you cook them?  There are several ways, but I tried this simple one first and it was a hit at my dinner table!


Crispy Edamame
from Allrecipes.com

  • 1 (12 ounce) package frozen shelled edamame
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the edamame into a colander and rinse under cold water to thaw. Drain. Spread the edamame beans into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle cheese over the top and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until the cheese is crispy and golden, about 15 minutes.  Serve while still warm.


Apple Cider Muffins

14 Oct

Apple Cider Muffins

This recipe has lots of fall flavor without using pumpkin (for all you pumpkin haters that didn’t vote in my poll, but I still know exist).  A single batch makes over 50 mini muffins, but we still managed to polish them off in only a few short days.  My son particularly enjoyed the last step of rolling the muffins in cinnamon sugar, so bring the kids into the kitchen and let ‘em help!

The secret ingredient- I was lucky enough to have some local-made from the farmer’s market.

Apple Cider Muffins
from Feastie.com

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking powder
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 2/3 Cup Brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Apple butter
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 1/3 Cup Honey
  • 1/3 Cup Apple cider
  • 1/3 Cup Plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400° and spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In another large bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, apple butter, vanilla extract, honey, apple cider, yogurt, and canola oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient mixture and whisk until just incorporated. Don’t over-mix – a few lumps are okay.

Using a tablespoon, fill a 24-hole mini muffin pan with the batter; fill each hole only 3/4 of the way, or you’ll end up with huge mini muffins. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

While muffins are still a little warm, combine cinnamon and sugar in another dish. Roll each muffin in the cinnamon sugar to coat the sides and top. If muffins are too hot the cinnamon sugar will dissolve into the muffin.  If they are too cool it won’t stick.  If you need it, a little melted butter brushed onto the muffins will help the cinnamon sugar stick.  Makes approximately 48 mini muffins.


Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

9 Oct

Peanut Butter Cups – FamilyKitchenBlog.com

Well, hello blogging world!  I’m finally ready to emerge from the great ocean of the moving process that has been my life for the past many weeks!

So, have you noticed the fad of homemade versions of store-bought foods on pinterest?  Well, I jumped on board, tried one, and was pleasantly surprised with the results!  Only three ingredients were needed!  And, it was so easy, that I think I *may* even try more candy bar copy cats of my own design.

Peanut Butter Cups
from Cherryteacakes.com

  • 6 Ounces of Milk Chocolate Chocolate Chips (half of a normal 12oz size bag)
  • 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • Mini muffin pan liners and pan

First, you need to melt the chocolate.  Place chips in a microwave safe dish and heat in 30 second increments.  Stir after each 30 seconds and stop as soon as all chips are melted.  Then, spoon about a half teaspoon of chocolate into each mini muffin liner.  Spread chocolate to cover bottom (and sides if you want the sides coated with chocolate. I personally kind of like exposing the sides).  Place muffin pan in freezer for a few minutes until chocolate hardens.  It won’t hurt to leave it in longer, so you can let it freeze through the next step.

Mix the peanut butter and sugar with a fork until combined.  Then, divide into 24 pieces.  Retrieve the pan from the freezer and spread each “piece” of peanut butter on top of the chocolate bottom.

At this point you will probably need to reheat your chocolate (unless you work way faster than me, which is completely possible!).  Heat again in 30 second increments until just melted.  Then, spread a small dollop of chocolate over each peanut butter cup.  Return to freezer until chocolate has hardened (this will only take a few minutes).  Serve cups with or without the liners and store in refrigerator.

These would also be great with dark or white chocolate chips!