Posts Tagged ‘pumpkin’

Transition-to-Winter-Pumpkin Soup

I’m sure I’m not the only one who decoroates my house for the fall with real pumpkins, gourds, and squash.  It’s not only pretty to have a few pie pumpkins and acorn squash, but it’s also practical and efficient!  As long as they are kept at a room temperature of 75° or below (let’s face it, in Florida these would not last outdoors) they can keep a good 1-2 months.  But what do you do with them after Thanksgiving and it’s time to take the autumn decór down?  Well, I like to use them to make a special “transition-to-winter-dish”.  I’ve made things from pumpkin risotto served inside the pumpkin to pasta sauces and soups.  This time a pumpkin soup was in order.  A second-aunt was visiting from Ecuador and she had heard of my pumpkin soup and requested it.  In Ecuador they don’t serve a lot of seasonal items, being that there aren’t really any distinctions in the yearly seasons over there.  No, since it’s on the equator, and actually in the middle of the world, the seasons sort-of occur in one day.  Cold and brisk mornings, warmer mid-mornings, the sun is scorching by mid-day, and cooling back up by dusk.  And it pretty much stays this way year-round.  So, this soup was a big hit.  Usually I freeze half of my soups in containers to keep for busier days, but this wasn’t one of them.  It is actually a lighter soup too, even though many people don’t usually associate pumpkin with lightness.  And of course, you know it has plenty of amazing nutrients and benefits, as pumpkin is one of the superfoods.   Go ahead and try this soup, it may become your “transition-to-winter-soup” as well… and your spouse will be so proud of you for being so resourceful with your decorating budget 😉

Pumpkin Soup

About 3 small pumpkins or a total of 5 lbs of pie pumpkin and/or any variation of pumpkin or winter squash
4 tbsp olive oil
2 yellow onions (about 2 1/2 cups total) diced
4 celery ribs, diced
1 quart chicken stock
1 1/2 white wine
2 cups water
10 sage leaves, destemmed, and chopped
1 stem of rosemary
3 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp crushed black pepper



Halve your pumpkins or squash and scoop out seeds (save for toasting if you like this as a snack, if not discard) and place on a baking sheet, open side up.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Put into a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the flesh with a knife.  Set aside to cool.

  Once cool enough to handle you can actually just use a pairing knife and slice off the skin of the pumpkins like you would peel the skin off an apple.  Baking the pumpkins first makes it so much easier to peel.  If you have a grapefruit spoon you can even scoop the flesh out with that, and save yourself so much time.  Once peeled, cut pumpkin into 1-inch cubes.







Next, heat a heavy-bottomed pot with the olive oil over med-high heat.  Once hot add the onions, celery, and salt and give it a stir.  *Adding the salt to the onions while sauteéing causes the onions to release their juices or sweats them out and softens them quicker.  Allow the onion mixture to get nice and soft; the onions should be translucent.  Now add the pumpkin and stir into the onion mixture and allow them to meld together for about 5-7 minutes. 







At this point the pumpkin should be soft enough to smash with the back of your wooden spoon.  Now add the white wine, and with your spoon stir the vegetables and scrape off any sucs or deposit of caramelized sugars, carbohydrates, and/or proteins that form on the bottom of the pan.  Then add the chicken stock, water, and your rosemary stem and chopped sage leaves. 













Allow this to simmer for about 20 minutes, uncovered on a medium heat.  Remove your rosemary stem, then puree and serve with a dollop of plain greek yogurt, a sage leaf, and toasted pepitas. 

Stay tuned tomorrow for a winter apple salad to serve with your soup!




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My son and I went for a run the other morning.. the weather in Florida was just perfect!  And afterwards to replenish our energy I decided to make a smoothie, I used only what I had around the house, and it ended up being amazing.  It is more like a fresh juice than a smoothie, but it was really nice!  If you like it to be thicker use frozen bananas instead.  It was heavy enough for after a run, yet light at the same time.  And parents- this is a great way to get your kids to drink a juice with a veggie in it-pumpkin!  It adds a nice touch to it, but seriously, if I hadn’t made this, I wouldn’t know there was pumpkin in it!

Tangelo Banana and Pumpkin Smoothie

Half of a Tangelo (or orange)
1 ripe banana
2 tbsp pumpkin pureé
2 cups ice

Place your banana, ice, squeezed tangelo and pumpkin in your blender and blend!  It is an incredibly refreshing drink, of course my son loved it!  Enjoy it outside with family!










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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Good morning everyone, I hope your weekend was great!  This post is much later than I anticipated, but the weekend was filled with a lot of (good) appointments, so I didn’t have much time to get on the computer.  The good news is that I can’t wait to share some of the things that were cooked up in my kitchen (and my friend’s kitchen as well)! 

Have you ever heard of a whoopie pie?  I personally had never even tried one until after making this recipe, but I had heard of them.  I was surprised to find out a lot of people don’t actually know what they are.  I came across the recipe on my friend Kristen’s blog, notsodomesticated.com.  Kristen is a newlywed and blogs about the adventures of perfecting her “wifely duties” and I enjoy her trials and errors, successes, and her transparency and humor along the way.  But more than that she is a great friend and I love reading her blog so I can be up-to-date with her life and feel like we’re still close (distance-wise that is).  So.. on to the whoopie pie!  I realize this is a funny name, my husband laughed every time I offered him one.  This is basically a soft cookie that sandwiches a cream filling.  It is actually very reminiscing of a snack cake, but of course much better… and mothers, better to give one of these to our children than a Hostess or Little Debbie cake filled with trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup..;)

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie

For the cookies:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract                                                                                                                       Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1  cup powdered sugar


Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine your dry ingredients (1-6 on ingredients list).  Beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add your eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Next add your pumpkin and vanilla and beat until smooth.








Stir in flour mixture until combined.







Drop by heaping spoonfuls or by cookie dough scoop (as pictured) onto your baking sheets.  *I would say this is one of my most valuable tools, and sure speeds things along in the kitchen.  Bake for 10-13 minutes or until springy to the touch. 







For your cream cheese filling beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until light and fluffy.







Spread a heaping teaspoon of filling onto flat side of one cookie; top with flat side of second cookie to make a sandwich. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling.  Makes about 18 whoopie pies.  Store in covered container in refrigerator.







In my opinion, these are the best when freshly baked.  The cream filling is light and airy when at room temperature, so if you don’t serve these right away, maybe take them out a half hour before eating to take off the chill a little.  These are the perfect little fall snacks, enjoy!


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Florida Chili Con Carne

Last night Jeremy and I had to be somewhere at 6pm, and I wanted to make sure I had dinner ready before he got home.  I had a pound of lean ground beef in the fridge, and I wanted to use it to make something seasonal (of course).  So I looked in my fridge and saw that I had onions, beef stock, leftover pumpkin pureé and some jalapeños.  And in my pantry I have an array of canned beans and stewed tomatoes, as well as a leftover bottle of Merlot, so I decided I had everything I needed to make a chili con carne.  Except, Florida is sometimes too hot to really enjoy a pretty hearty, or in other words, heavy, dense stew.  I mean, let’s face it, we don’t need all those extra calories to survive the harsh, brutal, non-existent winters we have down here.  I know my Canadian-snow-bird-neighbors would agree :).  So I decided to see if I could thoughtfully create a lighter chili, without sacrificing any flavor… and I think I have achieved it!  My husband certainly thought so (he usually complains of, hmm.. bloatedness, heartburn, and heaviness after eating two or three bowls of chilli) :).  This time he was quite happy with the lack of side-effects..haha.  In other words, this chili will satisfy your desire for chili, without being heavy on your stomach, and there is a secret ingredient that gives it a creaminess (without being dense) that you wouldn’t imagine- you got it- pumpkin!

Florida Chili Con Carne

1 lb lean ground beef
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced (leave seeds in if you like it spicier)
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1/4 cayene pepper
1/4 tsp crushed coriander seed
1 32 oz can of peeled whole tomatoes
1 cup of pureéd pumpkin
16 oz of beef stock
1 ½ cups of merlot or red wine *(can be substituted with more beef stock)
1/2 bunch of cilantro, leaves and stems
1 16 oz can of black beans
1 16 oz can of red beans
3 cups of prepared brown rice


Heat olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.  Once hot add your onions and garlic, stir and allow them to sweat and soften. 







Add salt and pepper, as well as your diced jalapeños. 







When onions start to look translucent add the ground beef, break up with a wooden spoon and allow to brown.  Add your spices and seasonings to the beef. 







Once your beef is browned add your entire can of tomatoes in, juices and everything, and use kitchen shears or the back of your spoon to chunk your tomatoes into smaller pieces.  Add the beef stock, merlot, and pumpkin pureé and stir. 








Also, chop your cilantro stems and add them into your chilli along with the 2 types of drained beans. 







Allow your chilli to simmer, this could be 40 minutes on a lower heat.  Or in my case, about 20 minutes (with me carefully watching it) on high heat, since I had less time today, while stirring ocassionaly.  In the meantime prepare some brown (or white) rice in another pot.







Finally when the chilli looks like it has thickned a little, and reduced slightly in amount, add the chopped cilantro leaves, stir, and take off the heat.  Serve over a bed of rice, and you can dollop it with sour cream or greek yogurt if you’d like.  I didn’t have any, and it was simply delicious by itself with the rice. 


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Arroz con Salchicha

Good Morning friends!  Last night was a busy one, so today’s post will be something I consider really easy.  A latin-inspired dish of Rice and Sausage or Arroz con Salchicha.  At this point you may be asking yourself why I use sausage so much.  Answer:  we had a big family barbecue and my dad tends to buy too much food and then insist I take it home with me to freeze.  Of course I almost always say yes to free food.  In this case they weren’t just plain ordinary sausages, they were specialty Brazilian spicy chicken sausages, so I was happy to take on this burden ;). 

A little on this dish.  My husband is very familiar with this style of dish, because I have made it so many times.  When I was in the Air Force, there were days I came home too tired to supervise various pots and pans and worry about timing my vegetables and risotto perfectly with my roast in the oven.  No, there were days one pot was enough to handle.  So this is exactly that.  A one-pot dish that you can eventually let boil,  lower to a simmer, and go sip a glass of wine or iced tea while it finishes up.  Or in my case, entertain my 2-year-old so he doesn’t find the need to hide my camera just so he can watch me as I desperately try to find it again.  Ahh..life.  Because this is such a relaxed dish, know that you can substitute pretty much anything to suit your liking or what you have on hand.  Your protein can be swapped with chicken or eliminated all-together, your beans can be whichever are your favorite, and you can use any seasonal vegetables (or frozen ones) you have on hand.  This usually makes for a lot of leftovers, which I especially loved when I was in the service, since I could take it to work with me.  This is a very rustic and homey meal.

2-3 italian style sausage (chicken, pork, etc)
2 cups of brown rice (or white)
2 cups beef broth
2 cups water
Half of a yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of frozen garden peas
1 can of black beans (or red or kidney) undrained
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup of pumpkin puree (optional)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 packet of sazon goya w/ azafran
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
half of a lime

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, at medium-high heat.  Add sliced sausage to the pot and stir with a wooden spoon.  When you see the sausages has started to render (or release some of its natural fat), add the diced onion and garlic and allow to soften, approximately 5 minutes. 

Add the rice and packet of Sazon Goya and stir, allowing the rice to toast a little.  About 1 minute. 

Next add the tomato paste, pumpkin puree, oregano, and salt and pepper, and stir well.  Now add the beef broth,water, frozen peas, and can of beans, stir again and allow everything to mix well.  At this point I put the lid on my pot leaving it open just ajar.  I leave it on high heat because I want the liquids to boil faster and cook my rice quicker.  Once the rice boils I leave it that way for a good 5-10 minutes, checking it to see if the water has reduced down to the level of the rice. 

Once the water is at the level of the rice, I lower the heat to low, stir in my chopped cilantro, and allow it to finish cooking.  This will take about 30 more minutes, or once the water is completely absorbed and your rice is plump and done (tasting it is the best way to tell!) 

When the rice is done I fluff it with a fork or the same wooden spoon I have been using all along (usually the latter option) and take it off the heat. 

I like to squeeze about half a lime into the rice and stir it before serving, this elevates it a bit and gives it a cleaner and fresher taste.  Results: a very unpretentious, but satisfying, good bowl of rice!  And all your food groups in one bowl- buen provecho!


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This morning after a nice run in beautiful weather I decided to make Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes for my son and me. These pancakes are really great, they are very moist and you may not even want syrup! On a side-note, I thought I lost my camera (this tends to be a trend in my house with a 2-year-old) so I wasn’t able to take many pictures. I did find it after some picking up, however, so I’m extremely happy, as buying cameras tends to get expensive 🙂 You can adjust the ingredients in this recipe to fit your lifestyle. I was thinking of my vegan friends while making this and thought this was the perfect breakfast, I would just replace the buttermilk with almond milk, use an egg substitute and vegetable oil for the butter. I actually used 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour this time, and only 1/2 a cup of unbleached all-purpose flour. They are slightly more dense, but not too noticeable at all. I loved it and my son did as well. So here it is…

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup wheat flour
6 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 2/3 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
3 large eggs – lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon melted butter

Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and the spices in a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, stir together the milk, pumpkin, eggs and melted butter.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.

Dollop the batter in 1/4 cup amounts onto a well-greased skillet or large frying pan set to medium heat. Cook until tops bubble and turn and cook other side – about 2 minutes per side.

It makes about 20 pancakes and each is approximately 100 calories.  I freeze mine into 2 pancake servings to have during the week.  You can add chocolate chips to yours for an indulgent treat!

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It’s been difficult to get back into gear after our mini-vacation. But here is a recipe that will make your entire house smell wonderfully. This recipe is so good that I make it several times in the Fall and also a few other times of the year.  It is a slightly altered pumpkin bread recipe that I go-to, but since it makes two pans I decided to stir chocolate chips into one….oh, heaven.  I think this was the first time I had that combo, and I loved it.  It’s a great recipe to make, you can make one and give the other one away, or freeze it and keep it on hand for unexpected guests! 

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder into pumpkin mixture. 

Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions.

 Mix in chocolate chips.

Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut around edge of loaves. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.

I only decided to leave one with chocolate in case anyone has allergies.

I did not get a picture of the bread after it baked- it went too fast- sorry!  I will get one next time..  this is very easy, enjoy!

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