Homemade Pumpkin Puree

After making the steel cut pumpkin pie oats and the homemade pumpkin bread I had to break down and buy some more pumpkin so I could continue my cooking. But what I found shocked me! The canned pumpkin was $1.99 for generic and around $2.xx for name brand! I was astonished and decided I wouldn’t buy any! When I got home I looked on my pinterest and I found a how to on making your own pumpkin puree for use in recipes. I also like the idea of making my own because it won’t have any dyes, preservatives, or other artificial ingredients in it!

The pin: 

http://dailysavings.allyou.com/2012/09/24/pumpkin-cooking/

I went to a local grocery store and found they had pie pumpkins on sale for $0.89 and I bought two for under $3. The are a lot smaller then carving pumpkins, you should use pie pumpkin because they have a better taste to them. First you cut them in half legthwise (start at the stem and cut until you reach the stem again. After cutting it scoop out the seeds and put them aside (I am going to roast them for the first time tonight and post about it tomorrow) in a bowl of water.

Cut, scooped, and ready to bake.

Cut, scooped, and ready to bake.

Place both halve cut side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cook on 350 degrees the time ranges due to several factors. My tiny ones cooked up in 45 minutes but it can take up to 2 hours depending on size and density.

Baking

Baking

After they are cooked fully the flesh should scoop out easily, if not place back in over and cook longer. Wait until the pumpkin is cooled then scoop out the flesh and place into a bowl and toss the rinds in the trash, or compost. The pin said to mash it up but I had trouble and couldn’t mash it well enough so I dumped into a food processor until it was all smooth.

Pumpkin puree

Pumpkin puree

I baked two pumpkins and got around 3 cups of puree and since the bread calls for one and a half cups I measured out that amount. I put some into the fridge then froze the rest. I found nicer, darker pie pumpkins at a local market that sells Amish and Mennonite produce (they were $1.49 each) and I will bake them today but I don’t expect much change. I asked my mom about how pale the pureed pumpkin was compared to the canned pumpkin (she makes her own canned pumpkin) and she said the color didn’t matter. She said the products I made would be paler in comparison (to canned products) but taste the same since pumpkin has really no taste of it’s own…it’s the spices that make the taste. So don’t be frightened if your puree is pale too.  So for under $3 I got enough pumpkin for 2 loaves of bread compared to $2.xx for one can which would only make one loaf! It was super easy and unless I can find a crazy good deal on canned pumpkin I will make my own!

Happy Pinning!

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Food (and life) Saving Tips

Imagine you’re cooking your favorite meal and halfway through it you realize you don’t have the spices for it or another important ingredient. Nothing is more frustrating right? Well thanks to Pinterest I have found so many neat tricks that have saved me a lot of time, money, and most important frustration!

Seasonings

I was halfway through making tacos one night when I realized I didn’t have any taco seasoning packets! I was also broke so I couldn’t just run out and buy one! Thankfully I remembered I had pinned some seasoning blends so I went to my computer and found this lifesaver!

Taco Seasoning:
1 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
mix and use! When I made this I omitted the red pepper flakes since I don’t like it to spicy. Also when using this put a little in at a time then taste it before adding more. I didn’t do this and my meat came out really spicy so I had to cut it down with water and more meat before we could eat it.
Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend:

I was making the pumpkin pie steel cut oats I realized that it called for pumpkin spice blend and I didn’t have any! S0 again I dug through my pins and found a great helping recipe.

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cloves

mix together and use!

The best thing about these blends is the fact that they have no MSG, preservatives, or other additives! I like knowing what is in my food and I love how with a few simple spices you can save money by not buying packets at the store!

Freezing

Ever make something only to have a TON of it and no idea what to do with it all? I always freeze items for quick and tasty meals but I found some great tips that made this process a bit easier.

#1 Use a muffin tin!

Oatmeal in a muffin tin

Oatmeal in a muffin tin

(the pin http://highermiles.blogspot.com/2012/03/friday-food-oatmeal-from-freezer.html) After I made the pumpkin pie steel cut oats (post here https://aradiasilvermoon.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/pumpkin-pie-steel-cut-oats/) I took a 1/2 cup measuring cup and filled the muffin tin with the oatmeal then I put it in the freezer. After they froze I used a knife to gently loosen them so they popped out and I put them in the baggie to save for later!

bag of oatmeal!

bag of oatmeal!

You can also use your freezer to make yummy desserts!

The pin: http://www.funelf.net/ice-tray-strawberries-chocolate-go/

Slice strawberries in half, place in an ice cube tray, pour melted chocolate over,and freeze! I would spray the tray with a bit of non stick spray so you can pop them all out then break apart!

Misc Tips: 

#1: Use your muffin tin to poach eggs!

Poached eggs

Poached eggs

Crack the eggs into a muffin tin and cook at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes! You can then freeze them like this then heat up for breakfast or make sandwiches out of them and freeze those!

#2 Use 2 cookie sheets to make crispy, baked sandwiches!

Perfect grilled sandwiches

Perfect grilled sandwiches

Hopefully these tips will help you in your cooking future!!

Happy Pinning!

Homemade Pumpkin Bread

Since the season of pumpkin is upon us I decided to make some yummy, scrumptious pumpkin bread! I love all things pumpkin including, but not limited to, pumpkin bread, pumpkin rolls, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice cappuccino, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin oatmeal. Yummy!!

The pin:

http://mylifeandkids.com/moist-pumpkin-bread-recipe/#comment-91397

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1 c sugar

½ c brown sugar

½ c butter or margarine, softened

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1½ cup canned pumpkin

Ingredients

Ingredients

First you preheat the over to 350 degrees then mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Mix butter and sugar together until creamy then add eggs one at a time while still stirring (or crack one and then stir…add the other…stir). After the eggs add the vanilla, then you slowly combine the dry ingredients with the liquid ingredients. Add pumpkin into mixture (the blog says to “by hand, mix in pumpkin”) but I folded it in gently until all combined.

Pumpkin batter, ready to bake

Pumpkin batter, ready to bake

Pour into a greased, floured pan and bake for 45 minutes, let set in the pan once cooked for 15 minutes then remove and cool on a wire rack.

Done and ready to eat!

Done and ready to eat!

Tips from me:

#1: Oven temperatures vary widely so the cooking time may be longer. I checked mine at 45 minutes and it was still really liquidy so I cooked it longer, it took 1 hour and 10 minutes before the knife came out clean.

#2: Like I said above the blog stated to “by hand, mix in pumpkin”. But in my experience a batter like this that is sticky and really liquid it is hard to knead by hand.

#3: When it says dry ingredients it means the spices too lol! When I first made this (I have made 2 loaves so far) I mixed everything in but the spices since it didn’t occur to me they were dry ingredients! So I added them in at the end but before adding the pumpkin! It tasted every bit as delicious as my second loaf (made properly this time lol!).

I found this to be a very easy and simple bread to make! It was very moist, flavor full, and it sliced real easily! It was so good in fact my boyfriend ate half the loaf the next morning for breakfast! Since my mom, as well as I, wanted some I had to bake a second loaf and let him have the remainder of the first one! So be prepared because this pumpkin bread is so good it’ll disappear quickly!

Better Than Takeout Fried Rice and Crab Rangoons

Tonight my daughter had an away volleyball game so it was just me and the boyfriend for dinner. So after looking over my cooking board we came up with the idea to make our own Chinese. I love Chinese food, so does my boyfriend, but my daughter…not so much so it makes the perfect food to cook while she’s gone. I made shrimp fried rice and oven “fried” crab rangoons….it tasted so good!

The pins:

Fried rice: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/72057662761465337/

Oven “fried” crab rangoons: http://www.generationyfoodie.com/2012/02/takeout-makeover-crab-rangoon.html

Ingredients ready to cook

Ingredients ready to cook

Fried Rice:

4 cups rice, cooked

1/2 lb meat (I used shrimp)

1  cup peas and carrots

1 white onion chopped (optional)

2 cloves garlic minced

2 eggs

1/4 soy sauce

3 tbsp sesame oil (I used vegetable)

Crab Rangoons:

24 wonton wrappers (I used Nasoya brand)
olive oil cooking spray
8oz lump crab meat
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp curry powder (optional. I omitted this)
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
½ cup reduced fat cream cheese
⅓ cup scallions, washed and thinly sliced

I started by putting the shrimp on to boil and while that cooked I prepared the filling for the crab rangoons.  First I put the wonton wrappers into a oiled muffin tin then I put it aside. I mixed the ginger, Worcestershire sauce, and crab meat and used a fork to chunk it up then you add the cream cheese. By this time the shrimp was done so I poured it into a colander to drain off the water and let the shrimp cool down. I got out my frying pan and heated up the oil then I added the garlic, peas with carrots, and onions to sautee. While this cooked I spooned the filling into the shells then with wet fingers I curled the ends over and sealed them. I put them aside and turned the oven on and let it preheat (as I am doing this I occasionally stir the vegetables in the pan.)

 

ready to cook

ready to cook

As the oven heats up I crack two eggs into the pan and scramble them up, making sure to mix it up really well. Then you add the rice, meat, and, soy sauce and stir it up until heated through. I put the pan of rangoons in the over and cook for ten minutes then pull out when golden brown.

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

It was easy to make and it tasted so good!

Table is ready for dinner!

Table is ready for dinner!

Tips by me: 

#1 I would add more cream cheese and less crab to the rangoons because I like mine really gooey and these were good but not cheesy or gooey enough.

I love how simple it was to make this and it was way better then takeout because I know what was put in there.  I like knowing that my food has no MSG, no preservatives, and real vegetables. The rangoons were even made to be “skinny” and come in at 40 calories per piece amazing! So after I filled my plate I poured me a glass of my favorite wine, Mia Dolce Moscato D’Asti, and enjoyed some healthy and tasty Chinese food!

Happy pinning!!

Step Out: To Stop Diabetes

Yesterday I had the honor to be apart of the annual Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes here in Kansas City. The walk started out in the park across from the Nelson Atkins art museum and we walked along brush creek to the country club plaza then back to the park. All in all it was about 2.5 miles in some of the nicest weather, along some gorgeous scenery. I walked with the team from my mom’s work North Kansas City Hospital and my brother in law and his kids walked for Team Subway (he owns several Subway restaurants)

Team North Kansas City

Team North Kansas City

Team Leaders

Team Leaders

My family me, my mom Georgieanna, my sister Angela, my nephew Drake, and my niece Hailey.

My family me, my mom Georgieanna, my sister Angela, my nephew Drake, and my niece Hailey.

my brother in law Jeremy and niece Cloe

my brother in law Jeremy and niece Cloe

 

As a health care professional I know all to well the horrible side effects that diabetes can have on the human body. Amputations of toes and feet is common a long with diabetic neuropathy (loss of sensation in feet and hands). Often times I have to teach people how to compensate for loss of sensation so they can still live as independently as possible. We use our hands so much and never stop to think things like “How would I know my bathwater was too hot if I couldn’t feel it with my fingers?” and I have to teach people to use a thermometer since their hands can’t feel. Or teach them how to do skin checks on feet and hands since any cut or sore can lead to disastrous consequences up to and including amputation. Then I have to help rehab them to get them (hopefully) back to where they can live independently as possible. Often times they can’t and wind up either living with family or in long term care.

This is why I walked yesterday…for all my past and future patients affected by this disease.

Everyone who came out

Everyone who came out

Long line of walkers

Long line of walkers

Waterfall along the walk

Waterfall along the walk

One day I hope we can cure diseases like diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s….this is my dream!

Tomorrow back to my regularly scheduled pinning post! Have a good day!

Pumpkin Pie Steel Cut Oats

‘Tis the season!! No not that season…not yet anyways! I mean the season of everything pumpkin! I LOVE pumpkin so much that I try to use it as much as possible this time of the year! Pumpkin pie, pumpkin coffee creamer, pumpkin roll, pumpkin bread, and now pumpkin pie steel cut oats! I have only recently because aware of how much better steel cut oats are for you vs. rolled oats so I looked up multiple recipes.  Last time, my first blog post on here, was cinnamon apple steel cut oats https://aradiasilvermoon.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/crock-pot-cinnamon-apple-steel-cut-oats/.

The pin: http://fooddoodles.com/2011/11/13/pumpkin-pie-steel-cut-oats-in-the-crockpot/

Ingredients:

  • 2 C steel cut oats
  • 1 15oz can of pumpkin(or about 1 3/4C)
  • 1 400 mL (about 1.5 cups) or 14 oz can full fat coconut milk plus enough water to make 7C(about 5 1/4C water)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 C honey or maple syrup(or leave unsweetened and add after it’s been cooked)

Mix all ingredients in a crock pot and cook 5-6 hours on low.

Ready to cook!

Ready to cook!

When done simply spoon up and enjoy with any topping you like!

Delicious!

Delicious!

I loved cooking this overnight because when I work up this morning not only did my house smell so good but a hot breakfast was waiting for me! I didn’t have to cook or prepare anything I could just serve it up and enjoy! It tasted like you crumbled up a slice of pumpkin pie and ate it in milk! So good! I can’t wait to have more tomorrow morning!

Tips from me:

#1 Any milk can be used in place of the coconut milk. I used a almond/cashew/hazelnut milk blend in mine.

#2 The temperature and time may vary from crock pot to crock pot. Mine has timed settings intervals of 4, 6, 8, or 10 hours so I started mine at 8:30 pm and set it on 10 hours so it would be done by 6:30 am and ready to eat!

#3 I didn’t have any honey or maple syrup so I omitted it (it cooked just fine) and I added brown sugar to my bowl and it tasted fabulous!

#4 It makes a lot so be prepared for leftovers if your family is small, like mine!

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!

Happy Pinning!

P.S.: I would love it if my readers would post some pins in the comments section! I am always looking for new things to try!!

Random Funnies

Often times I will pin things I find hilarious so that way when i get feeling sad I can look at them and laugh! Often times I will direct them at people in my life, via Facebook, to make them laugh too. Most often they are directed at my best friend, really like a sister, Larysa because we have the same humor and she would just “get” the joke!

The board: http://www.pinterest.com/aradias/funnies/

My best friend knows what to do!

My best friend knows what to do!

I prefer either Arbor Mist blackberry, last time we drank I woke up with a headache and vague memories of a lot of laughing!, or Moscato D’Asti 😉

Amen!

Amen!

The last one she found especially funny since she is a mom to 5 kids and they often don’t listen to her! Often times I will go with her (and take my 1 child) and help her corral her kids so she can do her shopping. I love those kids dearly but after 20 minutes of “Moooooooooooom Lily touched me!” “No I didn’t! But Aiden hit mmmmeeeeeeeee!!!” I am amazed she still has custody of them all (kidding)!

This is SO us!

This is SO us!

Sounds fun huh??

And one final funny:

Buffy

I HATE Twilight..cannot stand the movies…books…fandom…ANYTHING! So when I found this I started laughing so hard and couldn’t stop because it, IMO, is so true! I watched Buffy as a teen and I loved how she was a strong, positive role model for girls. She didn’t need to be save 24/7! Nope she kicked ass and had fun doing it! Now girl’s look at Bella and want to be her….WHY???…it boggles my mind because she doesn’t do anything as cool as Buffy did. Not to mention the fact that real vampires do not SPARKLE!!! Ugh….

Anyways hope you enjoyed these pins…because they make me laugh all the time!

 

Happy pinning!

Sizzling Fajitas and Homemade Guacamole

Looks like the post on homemade pop tarts will have to wait a bit longer…dang it! I discovered I don’t own a rolling pin so I froze the dough until I can buy one, payday is Monday, and finish them off! So tonight I found myself home alone, the kid is at a game and my boyfriend is fixing his daughter’s car, and I decided to make one of my favorite dishes…chicken fajitas!

The pin: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/gold-medal-sizzling-fajitas-recipe/index.html

Ingredients ready to cook!

Ingredients ready to cook!

Marinade:

1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
Dash hot sauce
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

mix in plastic bag then add your meat and chill (15 minutes for shrimp, 20 minutes for chicken and 1 hour for skirt steak.)

Marinating chicken

Marinating chicken

While the chicken chilled for 20 minutes I decided to make some homemade guacamole. Now I don’t have a pin for the guacamole because I already know how to make it…thanks to my sister Jessica! It is so delicious!

 

Guacamole

1-5 Avocados (depending on how much guacamole you want)

diced tomatoes or onions (depending on how chunky you want your guacamole)

lime juice, salt, and chopped cilantro

Mash the Avocados in a bowl and add the tomatoes and onions, mixing well. Add cilantro, lime juice, and salt making sure to taste as you go until you get the desired taste.

Guacamole ready to eat!

Guacamole ready to eat!

Chill the guacamole while you cook the chicken, peppers, and onions in a hot frying pan. Serve with warm tortillas, guacamole, sour cream or any other sides you desire!

 

Plated and ready to eat!

Plated and ready to eat!

I discovered I didn’t have tortillas so I had some chips on the side for the guacamole and I ate the filling alone. It was so delicious!

Tips from me:

#1 I was unable to get the meat to brown much because the recipe has you put it on heated chargers, like at a restaurant. So I would increase the temperature next time to get it to brown better.

Happy pinning!

Copycat Starbucks Chai Tea Latte

OK tonight I was going to post about homemade pop tarts but as I was making them I realized it was a 2 day process! I got half of it done and the rest will be completed tomorrow morning. I am documenting everything so I can make a big post about it tomorrow! Well that left tonight with nothing to post until I saw at the very bottom of my cooking board a tiny pin from when I started pinning a year ago.

The Pin: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/72057662758213519/

I am a HUGE fan of Starbucks Chai Tea Latte (nonfat, no water, with  toffee nut flavoring…or pumpkin in the fall please! 😉 ). But it got to the point where I was an unemployed, single mother who went to school full time. I had no money and no time for my Starbucks fix…until I got the idea of making it at home. I didn’t know if it was possible so I asked the Barista at a Starbucks in Target and she told me to buy the Tazo Chai Tea Concentrate and mix equal amounts milk and concentrate. I asked how to incorporate the flavoring and she said buy some syrup, like Torani, and add it in. Well I tried this and yuck!! Then i got the idea to use flavored coffee creamer! So I tinkered with my recipe and I came up with this:

3/4 cup Tazo Chai Tea Concentrate

1/4 cup flavored creamer

1/2 cup milk

Ingredients

Ingredients

Mix well in either a saucepan or a glass measuring cup. If you used a saucepan then heat on the stove until it is your preferred temperature. If you used a glass measuring cup place in microwave and heat until desired temperature.

Ready to heat!

Ready to heat!

Once hot pour in mug and enjoy!

Ready to drink!

Ready to drink!

Tips from me:

#1 I do the 3/4 cup since it fills my standard size coffee cups, I used a bigger one this time since it was clear and easier to see when photographed. If you use a bigger cup increase the ingredients to 1 cup mix, 3/4 cup milk, and 1/4 creamer.

#2 I do not have a way to steam milk like they do at Starbucks so this will taste slightly different then theirs. But it’s close enough to give me my fix without paying $5 a cup!

Now that I have a better paying job I do on occasion splurge at Starbucks but this gets me by! It also has helped since I moved out a big city for work to a small town and the nearest Starbucks in about an hour away!

 

Happy Pinning!

Skinny Sour Cream Enchiladas

So today I got up and was feeling better then I have been so I decided to take a walk in a local cemetery, sounds ghoulish I know but they have some cool Civil War graves there. Sadly walking around for 30 minutes really did me in and I had to go home and lay down for a 2 hour nap, this dang infection really saps the strength. But on a good note I put some chicken breasts in the crock pot for tonight’s dinner instead of boiling it on the stove like I planned! After it was done the rest was a breeze…so glad I decided to use to crock pot or else it might have been TV dinners lol!

The pin: http://www.skinnymom.com/2012/05/11/skinny-sour-cream-enchiladas/?_szp=161788

Ingredients

  • 8 oz fat-free sour cream
  • 1 can fat-free cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 cup fat free milk
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro (or 1/2 Tbsp dried)
  • 1/2 cup cooked shredded chicken breast
  • 1 can Mexican Rotel
  • 1 cup chopped onions (optional)
  • 8 low carb tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1 can diced green chiles
Ingredients ready to go!

Ingredients ready to go!

All you do is boil your chicken and shred it up then combine the sour cream, cream of chicken soup, milk and cilantro in a sauce pan. Cook until heated (careful it boils quickly and like she said in the blog “Will make a huge hot mess if you don’t keep stirring. I learned the hard way. Twice.”) then put aside.

Sauce and Chicken mixture cooking!

Sauce and Chicken mixture cooking!

Get out a frying pan and add your chicken, onions (if you used them I didn’t), ro tel, and green chilies and cook until onions are clear or the mixture is hot. Put 2 tbsp chicken mixture into a tortilla, roll, and top with the sauce and cheese. Bake at 350 until golden bubbly!

Yummy!

Yummy!

Looks so good doesn’t it?? Yes it did taste as good as the picture looks!! 😉

Tips from me: 

1. If you like big, fat, stuffed enchiladas then you will have to add more of the chicken mixture since the recipe calls for only 2 tablespoons.

2. I had extra chicken left over so instead of getting rid of it I added it to the top of my boyfriend’s before baking it.  Makes it more “meaty” for then men folk out there lol 😉

3. Next time I make these (oh yes there will be a next time!) I will reduce the amount of sour cream since it overpowered the taste of the cream of chicken. I am not a fan of sour cream (unless cooked like this) so this is just my preference. I will also drain the ro tel (the recipe didn’t specify.) since it was hard to roll them with the juices dripping everywhere.

Hope you like this as much as I do! I am having so much fun doing all these pins and I hope you guys are enjoying the as well!!

Happy Pinning!!