spiced pumpkin bread

For as many years as I can remember, I have been making my tried and true pumpkin shortbread.  I wish I could remember the original source for this recipe but it has been so long.  I particularly love it because a.) it is so tasty and b.) it yields 3 loaves.  One for us, one to gift and one to freeze for later.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread Recipe

This year though I tweaked my recipe to make it just a little bit healthier or “cleaner” as we are on a quest to eat fewer processed foods.  I started with subbing white flour for whole wheat flour and refined sugar for raw sugar.

It is also the first time I made it with actual pumpkin versus the canned stuff.  In fact, I plucked this one right from my porch.  Yum, so much tastier with the real thing!

natural fall vignette

I’d love to try tweaking the recipe even further by substituting the vegetable oil for perhaps more pumpkin puree.  I think some of the sugar could possibly be substituted for apple sauce too based on what I’ve read.

But anyway, here’s the recipe as it stands today, just a little bit “cleaner” or less processed.

15 ounces real pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups raw sugar
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

WholeWheatFlour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 7×3 inch loaf pans.

Remove the skin of a small pumpkin.  Cut in chunks and boil until pumpkin is soft.  Puree in a blender or food processor.

spiced pumpkin bread

In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake for about 50 minutes.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread Recipe

The spiced pumpkin bread is perfect paired with a cup of coffee!

You’ll notice that I had a squash in my fall porch vignette too.  It is also long gone because we ate it!  (So is that little zucchini.)

natural fall vignette

You may have caught a snippet on my instagram or facebook of the butternut squash & spinach lasagna that we had for dinner last week.  It was so good!  I followed the SkinnyTaste recipe posted here.  Delish!  However, I didn’t roll the noodles as recommended.

I would make this again for the creamy butternut squash sauce alone.  We used the extra for pasta a few nights later.

butternut squash lasagna

Looks like I need to redecorate since we ate most of my fall porch vignette.  What fall dishes are you cooking up?

P.S. This Sunday we’ll be at Clover Market with a truck full of vintage finds!  And next weekend I’ll be at Serendipity showing you how milk paint works.  Hope to see you soon!

MMS October flier

Sharing at the Pumpkin Parade!

kohlrabi stew

I’ve mentioned kohlrabi a few times this past summer.  It is still a phenomenon to us.  How have we never heard of this root vegetable before this summer?  It is one of Ryan’s new favorites.  Buuuut…we can’t just keep roasting kohlrabi.  Boredom will certainly set in.

It is fall now which means a warm hearty stew is in season.  So, friends, kohlrabi stew is born!

kohlrabi stew

This may possibly be the least photogenic dish but don’t hold that against it.  Trust me that kohlrabi stew is tasty and not so bad for you considering how creamy it is.

kohlrabi stew

Here’s how I made this which yields 4-6 servings:

  • Cover the bottom of your pot with sunflower oil, simmer and saute 1/2 – 3/4 cup of chopped scallions
  • Chop one large kohlrabi into 1/2 inch chunks and add to the pot.  Simmer for a few minutes on medium heat until they are soft
  • Next add 2 cups of vegetable stock (or chicken stock) and 1 can of cream of broccoli soup
  • Season to your preference: salt, lemon pepper, parsley, thyme
  • Put the lid on the pot and boil for 20-25 minutes
  • Allow the entire mixture to cool for about 20 minutes before transferring to a blender or food processor
  • Puree in batches
  • Once pureed, transfer back to the pot and add in 1 cup of small pasta shells
  • Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil, cooking the pasta right in the stew.  This is also where you could add in pre-cooked beef
  • Serve and enjoy!

kohlrabi stew

Side note:  I have been wanting to make butternut squash soup for a long time.  Longer than I have been cooking, actually.  It is always so delicious but I’m quite aware that it is usually made with lots of heavy cream.  I am going to try it by following the above principles (minus the pasta).  The cream of broccoli soup is the only creamy offender here.   I will let you know how it turns out!

What are you cooking this weekend?

veggie frittata

Friends, I made a frittata.  And it was good. I’m so proud.

veggie frittata (10 of 10)

You see, I was faced with this little problem.  We had way too many vegetables in the house and had to come up with a dish that would use some up.  A nice problem to have but still.  And quite frankly, another salad or pasta just wouldn’t do.

So frittata it was!  I love that word by the way. Frittata! Hakuna Matata.

veggie frittata (6 of 10)

I thought a frittata would be complicated but it was truly a very easy one pot dish to make.  And it is a great way to use up your harvest or even leftovers.  The options are pretty much endless. You can add vegetables, meat, fish, cheese.  And you can serve it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

veggie frittata

I used one cup each of the following vegetables: red/green peppers, tomatoes/tomatillos & scallions.

I chopped up the veggies the night before so when I woke up I felt like I was on a cooking show with all of my ingredients prepped in handy little bowls.  And then I remembered that I don’t have a hair and make-up artist on staff.  Hmm, I’ll have to work on that.

veggie frittata

First, I chose a round pie pan because it could go on the stove and in the oven.  Anything cast iron would work too.  I found that most of my pans, though, had handles that aren’t ovenproof.

So I sprayed the pan with olive oil and pre-heated the oven to 400.  On medium heat, I sautéed the hardest vegetable first.  In this case, the peppers.  I decided to add some sesame oil for added flavor.

I continued to add each vegetable and seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme.  But again, the seasoning options are pretty much endless.

Once the vegetables were cooked (about 15 minutes), I added shredded cheddar.

And then the eggs.  I whisked 8 eggs and poured them over the vegetables and cheese.  The sides cooked up in about 10 minutes on the stove top.

veggie frittata

Finally, I placed the concoction in the pre-heated oven.  It took about 15 more minutes for the eggs to cook through.  The top of the frittata browned nicely.

Cooking times will vary depending on the size of pan you use and how many ingredients you add.  You could certainly double this in a casserole for a brunch.

Our version serves four: 3 cups of vegetables, 8 eggs, 10 inch pie pan

veggie frittata

I let it cool for a few minutes, cut into wedges and served it with wholegrain toast for breakfast.  It was met with rave reviews!

veggie frittata

That, my friends, is a frittata!  Means no worries.  Oh wait, that’s Hakuna Matata.

beet stuffed peppers

I’m back with another food post, friends.

I’m talking about beetroots today.  They are said to be a natural anti-inflammatory vegetable which is what we are after in our house.  But what can be done differently with beets?  Well, this is one of my new faves that I like to think I made up because I’ve never heard of a Beet Stuffed Pepper before. About a week ago I posted a prep picture of this entree on instagram and got a lot of inquisitive likes.

Beet Stuffed Pepper

So I’m sharing the deets but hold onto your seats because there’s really only one thing you need to know about making this deliciously, filling vegetarian dish.

Are you ready for it?

The secret to Beet Stuffed Peppers is to follow your favorite traditional stuffed pepper recipe and then subtract the ground beef and add ground beets.

That’s it. Earth shattering, I know.  It kind of rhymes too: Subtract the ground beef and add ground beets.

Here’s exactly what I did to make this simple yet tasty dinner.

  • Take 3 average size beets, wash and peel the epidermis.  Grind the beets in the food processor.  Next, mix seasoned bread crumbs into the ground beets.  I used about a 50/50 ratio of bread crumbs to beets.  The bread crumbs absorb the moisture that the beets cook off.
  • Wash and core 2 green peppers.  A tip I learned from a friend when baking stuffed peppers is to briefly cook the peppers in boiling water to soften them.  This way they are more pliable and do not tear when you stuff them.
  • Next, you guessed it, stuff the peppers with the beet mix.  I sprinkled fresh shredded parmesan cheese to the top along with more bread crumbs.  Also, a dollop of raw honey (my favorite sweetener) on top complements the beet flavor very well.  The honey will cook into the stuffed pepper.
  • Bake at 325 for about 50 minutes and enjoy!

Beet Stuffed Pepper

These stuffed peppers are so filling that I couldn’t even finish mine!  Let me know if you give it a try.  And again, try this with your own stuffed pepper recipe and just substitute the beef for beets.

P.S.  Doesn’t the color remind you of red velvet cake?

summer peachza

I’ve never been much of a cook.  At all.
Until recently. I’ve suddenly tapped into this whole healthy eating thing, knowing where my food comes from, etc. and it’s made me incredibly interested in cooking. I’ve spent the better part of my adult life with a strong preference to eating out or at least having someone else cook for me.  I simply thought cooking was dull and that I was just too busy for the task.

Until recently when I had my aha moment.  Get creative in the kitchen.  Why not?  Do what I want.  Not follow a recipe per say but make it up as I go.  Creativity is something I’m into so if I can pull it off in the kitchen, I’m in.  I’m still focusing on simple recipes yet they’re totally interesting and tasty in my opinion.  I’m not onto, say, making dough from scratch or anything like that.  But I’m trying to keep it as healthy as possible.

But don’t worry, I’m not ready to jump ship from vintage and furniture into food blogging here.  However, when I reviewed the pics I took last week, I realized there were many more food photos than any of vintage treasures and furniture.  So without further adieu, I share with you my nearly famous Summer Peachza recipe.

delicious seasonal peach fruit pizza - peachza recipe

Yes, it’s a Peachza!

slice of peachza pie - delicious seasonal fruit pizza recipe

This is so easy to make and my favorite dish of the moment.  Peaches are abundant this time of year.  I seriously can’t get enough of their juicy flavor.  We’ve had peach smoothies, peach sangria, warm peaches and ice cream and now Peachza.

To get started, take two peaches and cut them into thin slices.

delicious seasonal fruit pizza recipe - sliced peaches

On a cookie sheet or pizza stone, roll out your secret ingredient…are you ready for it?

Crescent rolls.  Pop open a can of crescent rolls and arrange them in your best circle.  Don’t worry if the edges aren’t perfectly touching as they’ll bake together.

delicious seasonal fruit pizza- peachza recipe

Now arrange your peach slices on the pie sprinkling with blue cheese and rosemary as you go.  I also opted to drizzle some honey on top – can’t get enough of that.  Fold the edges up a little to create a crust.  You’re ready to bake your Peachza pie.

peachza recipe: delicious seasonal fruit peaches pizza

Follow the instructions on the crescent roll package.

Boom.  You have 8 servings of Peachza in about 20 minutes.

peachza recipe: delicious seasonal fruit pizza

Enjoy!  This is a perfect for a late summer soiree appetizer or lunch.

peachza recipe - delicious seasonal fruit pizza

Now if anyone has an alternative to crescent rolls, I am all ears!  I haven’t been able to find a pre-made whole grain crescent roll at the very least.  Maybe I will have to venture into dough making after all…

Linking to Home Stories A to Z

CSA carrot fries

A couple of weeks ago, I told you all about the CSA we joined this year. It is our first time participating in Community Supported Agriculture and we just love it!

Every week’s pick up is sort of like Christmas. You don’t know what you’re going to get.  There is a level of anticipation because you know you’ll love it either way. It’s so exciting.  Yes, I am still talking about vegetables…

carrots

We’ve picked up carrots from the farm a few times.  It is so adorable how they come with their green tops still attached much like in Bugs Bunny but nothing like in the grocery store.

I like carrots but I needed a new, fresh idea.  I didn’t want to just steam them again.  I racked my brain for something different.  We love sweet potato fries so why not try carrot fries?

easy carrot fries recipe

So we did!  I’ve found that just about any root vegetable is tasty sliced up and roasted in the oven producing healthy “fries”.  We did this with kohlrabi earlier in the growing season and loved it too.

To prep the carrots, you need to clean and lightly peel them.  Then slice them into 2-3 inch sections.

carrot fries

Brush on some olive oil, salt & a dash of cumin.

carrot fries

Pre-heat your oven at 425 degrees.  Then bake the carrots for about 25 minutes.

easy carrot fries recipe

That’s it!  We drizzled ours with a little bit of raw honey.  They were delicious and got rave reviews from my food connoisseur husband.

easy carrot fries recipe

the CSA way

This summer we joined a CSA for the first time. All I can say is, why didn’t we do this sooner?

csa (10 of 10)

We love everything about the experience!  We’ve been introduced to so many new varieties of vegetables which is right in line with our new healthy diet.

Raise your hand if you know what kohlrabi is.  Two months ago, I had never heard of it and I went to an agricultural college in the area!  Now it is one of our new favorite vegetables.  Unfortunately, they’re pretty much done for the season but that’s ok because we’ve moved onto tasty summer squashes.

csa (1 of 10)

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  In the spring, we paid a membership fee to Pennypack Farm and as a result we pick up 6 shares of locally grown produce & herbs weekly during the summer harvest season.  It has quickly become my favorite day of the week!

The shares offered weekly change as the growing season changes.  It’s like Pandora’s box of produce.  Being part of a CSA also challenges us in the kitchen because you have to work each week’s offerings to create delicious meals.  My latest concoction was beet stuffed peppers with a dollop of local honey.  Delish!

csa (3 of 10)

This week we got to pick our own string beans which we took right home and had for dinner.  It doesn’t get any fresher than that!

csa (4 of 10)

We go very few places without Wilson.  So its awesome that dogs are allowed on the farm too!

csa (5 of 10)

As a bonus we get to harvest flowers from the cutting garden.

csa (7 of 10)

csa (8 of 10)

Summertime and the livin’ is easy….

csa (2 of 10)

If you have the opportunity to join a CSA next year, I highly recommend it.  It will expand your palette and culinary skills as well as support local farms and farmers.  I have to thank Karen, a blog reader, for referring us to our CSA!

guest blog: home grown garden

Hi guys!  It’s tough to get back into a routine after all of the crazy planning, DIYing, traveling, and general wedding festivities.  And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’m doing a lot of staring at my dress and trying to figure out how and when I can wear it again.  I posted a picture of it earlier this week on facebook if you want to check it out.  There will certainly be more sharing here once I wrap my head around everything!  I’m already working on a post about our trip to Brimfield so check in early next week for lots of vintage eye candy.

Until then I have another special guest today from Healthline.com who is stopping by to discuss the health benefits of gardening – a favorite topic of mine behind all things vintage of course.  As I posted recently, we’ve taken on a much healthier eating routine since Ryan’s MS diagnosis.  No surprise here but eating healthy has made us feel great!  Since that post, we’ve also joined a CSA and planted our own veggie garden.  We’re about to purchase a juicer as well!  (I’m still doing research so if you have any juicer feedback, can you leave it in the comments please?)

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.

Today Valerie is sharing tips on planting your own healthy garden…

You may have the best proof of your actions in the care and maintenance of your diet and physical fitness.  You eat the right foods and you have a dedicated exercise regimen.  You and your mirror agree: you are the picture of health.  Even though there are splurges for birthdays and the holiday season, you know you will soon be back on track; your history proves it.  Surely, there is nothing more that would improve that picture.  You even know there will come a time when both diet and exercise must make adjustments for the inevitable decline of your body.  Aging comes to all of us.  If you feel this way, congratulations!  You are on the summit and there is no reason why you cannot stay there.

However, if you think there is nothing left to do, raise your hand anyway.  Teachers appreciate enthusiasm.  There is something so simple and beneficial, you are going to slap your forehead: that famous commercial vegetable juice can be made fresh instead of drinking processed juice: plant and grow a vegetable and fruit garden.

Harvest Your Own Health Garden

For as much as you have learned about diet and fitness, is there any doubt that consuming fresh fruits and vegetables will yield greater benefit than their processed, packaged and purchased counterparts from the grocery store?  Even if fresh, how long have those broccoli spears been lying in their tray in the grocery store with daily doses of water spray?  Face it; the only way you are going to assure freshness is if you have harvested yourself and have prepared the meal within minutes of transition from dirt to plate.

garden harvest

But we are far ahead of ourselves.  First, it may be necessary to clear an area in the yard currently dedicated to something else.  If it is a weed patch, there is no argument.  If it happens to be your prized Japanese garden, pick another location in the yard.  The right location will need full sunlight exposure all day long; under a shade tree will not suffice.  Your garden size is dictated by family size, types of vegetables chosen and available space you are willing to devote to the garden.  You may need to modify your current irrigation system to accommodate the more demanding needs of a vegetable garden.  Once determined, clear the ground of existing vegetation and till it thoroughly.  You want loose soil up to a foot deep.  If you do not own a tiller, you may have a friend who does, or most home and garden centers have them for rent.

Purchase an inexpensive soil test kit that will measure existing soil conditions of pH (alkaline or acidic condition), nitrogen, phosphorus and potash, essential elements to assure a bountiful harvest.  Treat the soil according to test results and lay down a layer of steer manure and till all of this fully into the soil.

gardening

The garden layout is going to be dictated by your plant choices; it is best to put a bird’s eye plan on paper.  You planting schedule is going to be dictated by the map of your planting zone.  Back at the home and garden center in March or April, you have a choice of a plethora of seeds, or seedlings ready to plant in the garden.  Follow planting instructions.  Cultivate and weed frequently so that all soil nutrients go where they’re needed.  Harvest according to instructions.

Sustainable Gardening

There is another benefit beyond the advantage of eating your own fresh vegetables:  this is going to require physical labor; always a healthful benefit.

farm to table

…sort of.

I love that phrase – farm to table.  It sounds like such a basic concept.  It is one that we’ve embraced recently in our house.  Well, I guess it has been more like farm to store to table.  But once the harvest season starts it will definitely be more farm to table.  Anyway…

First let me say thank you to so many of you who have consistently followed up with us on Ryan’s MS diagnosis last fall.  He is doing just wonderful.  In fact, much better than before.  And me too.  We have embraced new routines and ditched a few old ones.  Mostly we’ve been really cognizant of what we’re eating and how our meals are made and, most importantly, how those foods impact Ryan.

I’ve never been much of a chef and I’m no food blogger.  There are plenty of fantastic blogs out there for recipes and such but as I’ve been sharing some of my new recipes with friends, they encouraged me to post about it.  Perhaps you’ll have an interest too.

We haven’t become vegetarians or anything official but we’ve embraced a highly vegetable based diet and legume based for that matter.  The turning point was receiving my first ever food processor at my bridal shower.  We ate veggies before but usually in a raw or steamed state as a side. Nothing fancy.  The food processor has hands down changed my life.  And I actually like cooking and experimenting in the kitchen now.  I had no idea how versatile chick peas are!  Yes, I’m getting excited about chick peas.  That’s the new me.

Let me just share some of my latest concoctions.  Ryan laughs at me every time I take pictures of our meals.  I take pictures of our sofa, mantelscape and everything else.  So why stop at dinner?

Chick pea “meat”loaf with carrot soup – my soups need some work

chick pea loaf & carrot soup

Sweet potato stuffed pepper with a garlic cream sauce – hands down, my favorite so far although probably the least photogenic.  Can you believe I never ate a radish before now?

sweet potato stuffed pepper

Mediterranean loaf (with basil, pepper, tomato & mozzarella) – Ryan thinks we need to come up with a new word for “loaf”.  I agree.  Any suggestions?

Mediterranean loaf

Smoked salmon salad – an oldie but goodie.  I think we may be headed down the path of pescetarian but again, no official commitments here

smoked salmon salad

Mango vanilla smoothie – we still go for the ol’ classic strawberry smoothie on the reg too. Apparently I don’t have pictures of either.

I seriously shock myself with my new found kitchen prowess.  Ryan is feeling very healthy and active which is the goal when you have MS.  You want to keep a high energy level and remain active so the disease doesn’t creep up on you.  Certain foods, like kiwi, can increase your energy level.  He’s even lost weight.  Men, they lose it so easily!  Hmmph.

And we LOVE doing yoga.  It is so relaxing & strengthening.  I find it helps me a lot with stress.  I never thought I’d become an organic, yogi but I think that’s the path I’m on.  Ryan continues to do all of the things he loves like fishing & bike riding.

It’s funny how life has a way of throwing you curve balls.  You can either let it get you down or embrace it and make the best of it.  I’m pretty happy with how we’re tackling Multiple Sclerosis head on over here

So what healthy recipes should I try next?