Pumpkin Date Muffins

Want to know what statement that makes a cook feel horrible? “I didn’t know what to have for breakfast so I skipped it. And you forgot to make me a lunch so I just had ramen.” Most days I do feed my husband good meals. I make him nice lunches most days and make sure there is something he can heat up for dinner (usually my leftover lunch). But some days Jack doesn’t let that happen. Michael knows I am busy all day trying to care for the baby and working in the evenings. He isn’t mad, and isn’t the ‘I expect dinner on the table at 6 sharp women!” kind of guy. But I love to cook and feed people, so hearing this was a dagger in the heart. I decided to make some freezer meals. This way there is always something to eat and it would save us money in the long run. I made 6 recipes total, so look out for the rest. Also, this recipe is also good for Baby-Led Weaning, the way we are introducing solids to Jack.

So, Michael never has to skip breakfast again. I decided to make muffins that he could eat in the car or at his desk. These muffins aren’t your those fluffy cake-like store bought muffins. Do you know why Costco muffins taste so good? They aren’t muffins, they are cake. You are eating giant cupcakes without frosting. Totally not the breakfast of champions!  My muffins are sweet but dense, and full of nutrition. A great way to start the day!
This recipes make 24 muffins or one 8 in by 12 in baking pan.
Pumpkin Date Muffins
2 tbs flax seeds
4 tbs hot water

1 29 oz can of pumpkin puree

2 cups chopped dates
2 cups old fashioned oats
2 tbs vital wheat gluten (or flour works fine too)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners or spray the pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a small bowl, add the hot water and flax seeds. Set aside for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, add the pumpkin puree and dates. Mix well.

Add the oats, vital wheat gluten, brown sugar, flax seed mixture, nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix until combined. It should be thick and lumpy.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tin. Fill it all the way to the top, these muffins don’t rise much.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are lightly golden.

Eat them hot, let them cool for later, or freeze them for the rest of the week! A tasty breakfast any time.

Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce

In last post, I mentioned that I also got a butternut squash at the pumpkin patch. I bought it randomly without a recipe in mind. Thursday morning I woke up and thought pasta with creamy butternut squash sauce would be amazing for dinner. Then my best friend (the maker of the amazing reception cake) and her boyfriend wanted to come over to carve pumpkins. So I decided to make a nice dinner for everyone.

This is recipe is similar to most other squash sauce recipes out there (except that it’s vegan), but it not based on any particular one. I just put in what I thought sounded good.

This recipe makes 6 servings.

Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce
1 large butternut squash
1 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance), divided
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 tps cinnamon
1/2 tps chili powder
1/2 tps smoked paprika
3 cups plain soy milk
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
6 servings of any kind of pasta (I used strozzapreti)
Basil, to garnish

Pre-heat the oven to 400.

Cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and membrane, and discard them,

Rub 1/2 tbs of the butter on the inside of both halves.

Roast in the oven until the squash is soft, like when a knife can be inserted without any resistance. This takes about 25-30 minutes.

Set the squash aside to cool.

Meanwhile, sautee the chopped onion in the remaining 1/2 tbs butter. Once soft and translucent, add the garlic. Cook for just a minute.

Now add the cinnamon, chili powder, and smoked paprika. Cook another minute.

Add the soy milk and veggie broth. Stir well.

Now, scoop out all the meat from the cooled squash. It should be soft, like mashed potatoes.

Mix and mash together the squash with the liquid. It’s okay if it is still a little lumpy.

Turn off the heat and let the flavors meld.

Cook your pasta according to the directions on the package.

Then add the pasta directly into the sauce.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with some fresh basil and serve.

We paired it with a nice salad and some bread, and it was a lovely meal indeed. Amanda said she could not believe how flavorful it was. Michael said the sauce tasted like Fall. I would just eat the sauce by itself honestly. With flavor like this—plus all fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A—there is no reason not to make this lovely Fall dish!

Thai Pumpkin Curry

I have professed my love for Fall and pumpkins before (check out my pumpkin carving and Pumpkin Waffles posts).  This past weekend Michael and I went back to the Half Moon Bay area to pick pumpkins. We decided to skip the Pumpkin Festival and all the traffic/chaos this year.

We went Arata’s Pumpkin patch, a cute little place just south of Half Moon Bay on Highway 1. It was pretty busy, but not as crowded as the Pumpkin Festival would have been. We picked our pumpkins and smiled at all the cute babies running in the patch and climbing the hay bails. It got us excited to take our little pumpkin next year.

The bump has started to appear

We each got a pumpkin to carve. Plus, we bought an extra little pumpkin and butternut squash to cook with later. I am not sure what to do with the butternut yet, but I knew the little pumpkin was destined for Thai curry. Roasted pumpkin adds another layer of flavor to a creamy and spicy curry. This is variation of my Yellow Vegetable Curry, trying to make it more authentic tasting.  I decided to make it in the crockpot so it could have plenty of time for all the flavors to mend.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Thai Pumpkin Curry
1 small pumpkin
1/2 tbs coconut oil
1 small white onion, chopped
1 half inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves of garlic
1 eggplant, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch of broccolini (normal broccoli is fine), cut into half inch pieces
1 large carrot (or 15 baby carrots), chopped
1/2 cup snap peas
1 can of coconut milk
4 cups water
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbs Sriracha
1/2 tbs tamarind chutney (or paste)
Zest of one lime
Juice of one lime
1 bundle of lemongrass
3 cardamom pods
10 large basil leaves, chopped
6 mint leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Carefully cut the crown off the top of your pumpkin (see my pumpkin carving post for more details).

Now carefully cut the pumpkin in half.

Scoop out all the seeds and membranes.

Lightly spray the insides of the pumpkin halves with cooking spray.

Place skin side down into a baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until soft and tender.

Set aside to cool.

Once cool, remove the meat from the skin (I suggest a small knife and just cut away the skin and rind).

Cut it into cubes.

Plug in your crockpot and set to low.

Add the coconut oil.

Once it is melted, add the onions, garlic, ginger. Let is cook for a minute.

Add the chopped eggplant, bell pepper, broccilini, carrots, and snap peas.

Pour in the coconut milk and water. Mix well.

Add all remaining ingredients, except the salt and pepper. Mix well.

Cover and cook until the veggies are soft, about 2 hours. You may need to adjust temperature and time for your crockpot.

Serve over jasmine rice. Garnish with basil, mint, and/or cilantro.

Tons of vitamins and flavor! I lovely fall dish.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Finally, my last Thanksgiving 2012 recipe: chocolate pumpkin pie. This was actually a big hit with all the non-vegans on Thanksgiving too. It’s got more protein from the tofu. Plus it has less fat and no cholesterol.

And once again, I forgot to take a picture of the whole pie. I remembered half way through eating my piece. When I went back to take some, it was already half gone.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
1 16 oz can of pumpkin
1/2 block of silken tofu, drained
2 tbs of coco powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup of soy milk
2 tbs of maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 graham cracker crust (store bought or homemade is fine)

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.

Pour into the graham cracker crust.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the center is firm.

Top with some vegan whip cream or my favorite, coconut cream.

Stuffed Pumpkin

source

This dish was fantastic and so adorable…too bad I forgot to take any pictures of it! I can at least post the recipe so you can make your own adorable little stuffed pumpkin.  I took this to my second Thanksgiving on Friday since we had to travel two hours. I just heated it up when I arrived.

Stuffed Pumpkin
1 small pumpkin (Mine had about an 6 inch radius)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
2 cups cornbread stuffing (I used a box mix, but you can make your own as well)
1/2 of a block of extra firm tofu, drained and dried well and cut into small cubes
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 of a small onion, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cut the stem off the top of the pumpkin and hollow out the inside (detailed instructions on my pumpkin craving post, just minus the actual craving part).

Coat the inside of the pumpkin with some olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, combine the stuffing, tofu cubes, chopped celery and chopped onions.

Stuff the pumpkin with the stuffing mixture. Make sure to leave a little room at the top. Cover the stem with foil and place back on top.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 to 1.5 hours. The pumpkin should be tender enough that a fork can easily pierce through it.

Now remove the stem, and cut into slices. You eat both the filling and pumpkin flesh. Goes lovely with some gravy.

Next time I promise to remember the pictures…

Pumpkin Waffles

I thought I would make a special breakfast this morning because this afternoon I am heading to San Francisco for the 4th annual FoodBuzz Blogger Festival! I wanted to go last year but I was in Hawaii and couldn’t miss school.  Now I live in the Silicon Valley so I can attend!

One of Michael’s favorite breakfasts in waffles. And he likes my homemade ones better than frozen ones. Michael was very sweet last weekend and took me to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival (see my other blog for a review) and afterwards took me to Bob’s Pumpkin Patch.

He bought me a huge pumpkin that I craved as soon as we got home (see my post from last year on how to crave a pumpkin). There were big chunks left over so I decided to save them. I roasted them, mashed them, and added it to my normal waffle recipe.

This makes 4 waffles.

Pumpkin Waffles
1/4 cup mashed pumpkin (I roasted and mashed my own, but canned is fine)
1 cup Bisquick
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup apple sauce
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp agave

If you want to roast your own pumpkin pieces, I suggest 450 degrees wrapped in foil for 25 minutes.

Pre-heat your waffle iron and spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together everything until combined. A few lumps are okay.

Pour half the batter into the waffle iron. Cooking according to the directions for your iron.

Once it’s all golden and crispy, and remove and top as desired. I just did syrup (check to make sure your syrup is high fructose corn syrup free!).

My next post will be all about the fun I had at the Festival!

Curry Squash Soup with Gnocchi

Once again, sorry I have not posted in awhile.  Let me update you…

The GreenPeace job did not end up working out. They are a great organization, but that job just was not for me. I still support them though. I am working part time at a Southwestern restaurant for now, and should hopefully be starting another full-time job soon, but more on that later.

Michael and I volunteered to help clean up his Grandparents’ old house and are living there as well. It’s a very cute old house built back in the 40s and is pretty much stuck in the 60s. Cleaning is turning out to be quite a challenge so far. We have been there for almost a month and still are only about 1/3 done. To give you an idea, here are a few phrases I have uttered during the clean-up so far:

“Of course the drawer is full of 100 steak knives.”
“Do not tell me there is more ceramics in that box.”
“This Tylenol expired before I was born.”
“Oh my God, these are the pills you would give your wife to shut her up if she was PMSing or talking back. They stopped making these like 40 years ago.”
“I have seen more dead spiders in the past hour than I have seen alive ones in my whole life.”
“Sorry I have bad reception in here, there’s lead paint.”

But, one perk to an old house, it has a old stove and range that stills works great. I feel like a little 50s housewife every time I cook on it.  I came up with his recipe last night randomly, I was originally just going to make it an all vegetable soup, but then thought Michael would complain so I added the gnocchi. They soak up the broth and come very flavorful and soft.

Sorry I did not take pics while cooking, I was doing three other things at once and forgot. But it’s easy enough anyways.

Curry Squash Soup with Gnocchi
Olive oil
2  large carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 large celery stalks, diced
1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
4 cups of butternut squash, cubed
1 cup of beer (I used 10 Barrel Brewing Apocalypse IPA from Kaleidoscope)
1 can of light coconut milk
4 cups of water
2 tbs of curry powder
1 tbs of cumin
Package of Gnocchi
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Add the carrots onions, and celery. Sauté until slightly golden.

Add the mushrooms and squash, cook until slightly golden as well.

Deglaze the pan with the beer.

Add the coconut milk and water. Add the curry powder and cumin.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Let it cook for 2 hours, stir occasionally.

Add the gnocchi and cook until soft.

Season with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

Try Lost Coast Apricot Wheat beer!

We don’t have internet at the house, but as soon as we do, I will start posting regularly again. Hope this tide you over for now!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Foodbuzz selected me for another free coupon giveaway! This time I got two coupons from Duncan Hines and one from Comstock-Wilderness.  I have been wanting to make a pumpkin spice cake for awhile so I was very happy to get the coupons. I used the coupons to get a box of Duncan Hines Spice Cake, a can of  Buttercream Frosting, and a can of Comstock Apple Pie Filling. Surprisingly, they are all vegan! But, they are processed food, which should always be eaten in moderation. Like Cookie Monster says, sweets should be a sometimes food. Processed foods should never be the main staple of your diet. That being said, there are things you can do to box mixes to make them healthier. Just preparing them vegan alone cuts out all the cholesterol. Rather than oil, I used apple sauce. And for more nutrition, I added pumpkin puree.  For the frosting, I blended the Apple Pie Filling so it was a bit smoother, then added it to the frosting.

These cupcakes combine classic holiday flavors into a small little treat. Could even make a wonderful Thanksgiving dessert.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
1 box of Duncan Hines Spice Cake
1 cup apple sauce
3/4 cup rice milk (soy is fine too)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 can of Duncan Hines Buttercream Frosting
1 can of Comstock Apple Pie Filling

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a cupcake tin with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, add the cake mix, apple sauce, and rice milk. Mix together well.

Add the pumpkin puree and baking soda, then beat together for 2 minutes.

Fill the cupcake tin 3/4 of the way full and bake for for 18-21 minutes.

The cupcakes are ready when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Once ready, let them cool in the tin for a bit, then remove and let them cool completely before frosting.

While those cool, puree the apple pie filling until smooth.

In a small bowl, mix together the puree and the butter cream frosting. If it’s too runny, add some powdered sugar to tighten it up. Refrigerate until the cupcakes are ready to be frost.

Finally, frost the cupcakes anyway you like. I really suck at decorating. If I was in Oregon, I would have begged my mom to decorate them for me. But, I did garnish with a little nutmeg and raw sugar for fun. 

The applesauce and pumpkin puree make the cupcakes so moist, definitely what I have been craving. Thank you Foodbuzz, Duncan Hines and Comstock-Wilderness! I am bringing this cupcakes to a friend’s house, I hope she and her roommates like them.

Kabocha Squash Soup

I love when good things are cheap. My local health food store had variety of locally grown squash on sale. The minute I saw them, I thought of hot bowl of creamy soup. I first picked-up a butternut squash but then a lovely little green one caught my eye. I didn’t know what kind it was but it wad lighter (hence cheaper) so I bought it. After a bit of Google and asking my mom, I learned it was a kabocha.

Kabocha is a Japanese winter squash. It looks like a squat green pumpkin. It has the texture of pumpkin but tastes more like a sweeter butternut squash. It is high in iron, vitamin C, and potassium. It’s meat is bright orange and it’s packed full of seeds too (I roasted them, a bit chewier than pumpkin seeds but still good). 
I came up with this recipe on my own, but it’s pretty much like any basic squash soup. This would also be wonderful with most other squash varieties as well. 

Kabocha Squash Soup

1 kabocha squash
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cup vegetable broth 
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups of kale, chopped
3 cups water
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. 
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. 

Spray a baking sheet or pan with cooking spray and lay the squash cut side down.

Bake for about an hour, until totally soft. 
While that roasts, chop up the veggies. 

In a large pot, heat a some oil and sauté the onions until translucent. 

Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes. 

Add the kale and cook until tender. Add the 3 cups water. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Once the squash is done and cooled, scoop out the meat into a blender. 

Add the coconut milk and vegetable broth. Blend until smooth. You may need to add a bit of water if it’s too thick.  ( I don’t know what happened to the picture of this step, sorry!)

Add the squash puree to the pot and turn the burner on to medium-low heat. 

Add the spices and salt and pepper to taste. Bring up to desired temperature and serve hot. 
I have a bit of a cold again so I had my with a lovely glass of Theraflu. Hopefully the vitamin C in the squash will do me some good. 

Jack-O-Latern and Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

I love Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday. Like I said in my Halloween Taco Rice Bowl post, I am named after Elizabeth Montgomery’s character Samantha from the TV show Bewitched, so this holiday is pretty much made for me. If I could get away with it, I’d still go trick-o-treating (and don’t pretend like majority you wouldn’t too!) As fun as dressing up and getting free candy was as a kid, my favorite part was actually carving pumpkins. It was good quality time I got to spend with my family while having fun and being creative. Those are some of my most cherished childhood memories. What kid doesn’t love to get messy and throw pumpkins guts at their brother? And, there was always the delicious toasted pumpkins seeds afterwards too. I haven’t carved a pumpkin in several years sadly. Now that I am not living in the dorms anymore, I decided it was time to carve and toast seeds again.  I also decided that I would spiced up my seeds this year, ya know be a little more adult. I divided my seeds in two in order to make some savory and some sweet.

You don’t have to carve your pumpkin like I did, you can just cut it in half length wise and scoop out the seeds. But what fun is that?

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
1 large, ripe pumpkin
Oil or cooking spray
Savory Seasoning
1 tsp curry
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic salt  powder
Sweet Seasoning
1 tsp cinnamon
1tsp ginger
1 tsp black strap molasses

Setting up to carve on my balcony. 

First thing, carve your pumpkin. Since this can be get messy, I decided to do this on my balcony. You will need two bowls, a big knife, a smaller pairing knife, a spoon or ice cream scoop, and a dish towel to wipe your hands.

Draw the desired design on your pumpkin while it’s still whole.

Cut a circle around the stem, clean off the gunk and set aside.

Ew, slimy.

Scoop out the membranes, but separate out the seeds. The little tiny ones can be discard though.

Carve the design. I am not the best artist, but I like mine cock-eyed and crooked-toothed. I named him Igor.

Meet Igor. 

Clean up the edges and put the stem back on.

Put your beautiful pumpkin on display for everyone to enjoy.

Now for the seeds….

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.

Rinse the seeds very well and get all the gunk off.

Dry them well too.

You can either oil or spray a baking sheet. Oil can give the seeds a bit more flavor but adds more calories. I just spray mine.
Spread the seeds into a single layer.

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once they are lightly golden, they are done.

Combine all the savory seasonings a bowl and add the seeds while still hot. Toss together to coat.

Combine all the sweet seasonings in another bowl and add the seeds while still hot. Toss together to coat.

Now you have a lovely jack-o-latern and delicious pumpkin seeds.

But, there is more a simple pumpkin can yield. Those slimy, nasty membranes can be added to a compost pile to give nutrients to your garden (assuming you have one). The pieces you cut out can be roasted in the oven and make a tasty addition to your dinner.

Baked tofu, pesto smashed potatoes and a side of roast pumpkin