Pumpkin in Feb – Why Not?

Today was such a gloomy day, I just couldn’t deal with it. Tomorrow is March, spring is fast approaching and in 25 more days Mad Men will be back on. We can start to transition from our Fall to Spring wardrobe. Ahhh, life is good. But still, the weather. Really, come on now.

So I had a little slip back today, having a hankering for something pumpkin-y. I love that spice flavor but I try not to make it past the holidays, it just doesn’t feel right to me. I am very sensitive to those things 🙂 But today, I felt like my famous pumpkin cake that I make about twice a month during the season. I love it. Let me tell you, its good when it comes out of the oven and gets better as days go on. Even on Day 6 (refrigerate after Day 2),  just pop it in the toaster oven, and just as good as Day 1.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves galore are the perfect recipe to a comforting and palette pleasing treat. With this cake, you will be able to enjoy these flavors in the best way possible. Guilt-free. Which is way better than those fat-filled coffee shop treats.

Preheat oven to 350 degree. 10-inch bundt pan, greased

2 cups of Bob’s Red Mill 100% whole wheat pastry flour

Pumpkin Spice Cake

3/4 cup of honey, maple syrup or agave syrup
1/2cup of unsweetened applesauce
2 cups of canned pumpkin puree
2 tsp of baking powder
2 tsp of baking soda
2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of nutmeg
1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs
½ tsp of salt

In a medium bowl or electric mixer, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice and salt. In another bowl, whisk together eggs and honey until fluffy, then continuing to thoroughly mix and combine applesauce and pumpkin. Add the egg, honey, applesauce and pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Do not over mix. Add mixture into prepared pan and place in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and dry. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert on rack and allow it to continue to cool before serving.

Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding:

Great last minute dessert. Dare to impress!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Now, lets say you have some cake left over and its, oh say, day 8. Chop remainder cake into square pieces and lets make a pumpkin spice break pudding! Throw pieces into pan that’s big enough to not be layered. In a separate bowl add two egg yolks, left over pumpkin puree, milk or milk substitute, cinnamon, and your choice of sweetener. I did a tablespoon of Vermont maple syrup. This will make a delicious custard that you will enjoy in every bite! Mix it all together and pour over the bread pieces. If you feel you need more custard, add another yolk and a bit more spices. Shake the pan to even it out, and gently place it in the oven for 35 minutes.

Enjoy plain or with some ice cream 🙂

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Made with Love Scarf and Anne’s Champion Chili!

Here is a picture of long cowl neck scarf in charcoal grey. I made this for my friend, Anne. She loves it. She looks so cute in it! I did a seed stitch throughout the piece (meaning I knit the purls and purled the knits).

This girl is so fun, creative, fearless, (organized!) and an amazing chef as well.

She had us over for dinner one night and made this delicious chili from a recipe she found on epicurious but tweaked it to make it EVEN better.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp of chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 to 2 teaspoons chopped jalapeño chile with seeds, divided
2 15- to 16-ounce cans black beans, undrained
1 can of navy beans
1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken or vegetable broth

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Mix in cumin and 1 teaspoon jalapeño. Add beans, tomatoes with juice, and broth; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer 3 cups of soup to blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to pot. Simmer soup until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon jalapeño, if desired

You can add chopped cilantro, green onion and sour cream to add for flavor or just a beautiful garnish!
DebuTips:
  • Add your choice of meat in there to make it even heartier if youre in the mood.
  • Make some brown rice or noodles and put it over it or even in your own bowl
  • Made too much chili? You can always freeze it in serving size containers. You will definitely appreciate it on that long, cold, tiring day

Keen on Quinoa

I have been on a quest for healthy eating and new ideas. I have found out so far that I love quinoa. It can make any vegetable taste better! I have made it a few times randomly and it was only meh, but now let me explain how I make this new staple item in my refrigerator.

Dice and saute onion in a pan with a little olive oil. As the onion is browning, get out the quinoa. I usually do a cup of quinoa and that should last a few days. Add it to the onion and stir. This will roast the quinoa, giving it a nice nutty flavor when cooked, and the onion will also add a tasty flare. Then add the water. Remember, quinoa, like rice, is a 2:1 ratio. So add 2x the amount of water to however much quinoa you added. Add your spices. (I do the basics: salt, pepper, and garlic – but feel free to use whatever you like!)  Bring it to a boil. Then lower it and cover. And voila!  20 mintes later, you will have a nice fluffy, healthy and fiberous grain!

A nice light meal

I have been sauteing spinach. Yes, it took me a while to love it (which I do now) but adding the quinoa to it alleviates the boring soggy bites. It adds texture and crunch. Just wash and chop some spinach (you can even sautee diced onion before hand), add to a warm olive oil coated pan, add salt and pepper and stir untill spinach is cooked. Spinach shrinks fast. So this is a great way to get a lot of greens in your system.

Then I have been adding another family staple. String beans in tomato sauce. I have loved these even as a child. Again, with the onion. Dice it and saute in a little olive oil. Add tomato sauce, salt, pepper, garlic and green beans, either fresh or frozen, both will work just fine. Stir together and let it sit on medium low for 40 minutes to cook. You will know they are done when they turn a deep green. These should be made first since they take the longest.

Also, I had some sweet potatoes in the fridge that sounded amazing to me. I am a sucker for sweet potatoes. See? I have a huge sweet tooth. I chopped them into pieces, sprayed them with a little olive oil, and added salt and pepper. These should go in the oven on 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Take them out and turn them over so they will cook evenly for another 5 minutes.

Add a little chicken, fish or egg for protein allowing you to have a complete meal.

Enjoy!

Alternative Flour Answers

I have been getting some questions regarding the alternative flours I have been using. Let me explain. I love Bob’s Red Mill.

This all purpose flour is composed of numerous beans and added nutrition.

This brand can be found in the baking section of the grocery aisle. Bob’s makes a vast array of bean flour, rice flours and nut flours and a bigger selection can be found at organic based retailers.  Also, check to see if there are bulk bins, which is usually a huge score for flours!

There is nothing wrong with regular whole wheat flour, it has been purely experimental and fun to use these other nutritious blends.

The truth is using the bean flours makes the texture of any dough really soft  making it difficult to maneuver, shape and bake. I found out yesterday that Xantham Gum and Tapioca Flour, both gluten-free,  is a great additive to help thicken the dough and not sacrifice taste. And just 1-2 teaspoons goes a long way.

I hope this answers some questions. Please let me know if you have any more questions or comments!

Thank you,

Vermont Debutante

The Best Banana Cake Ever

Ok, so I have been out of town the past week in nyc attending  a few  life cycle events, visiting friends and family and doing a bit of work. I really just got home last night, and boy, could I not stop thinking about you while I was away. Nevertheless, I had to grocery shop, clean out the fridge, and toss the bananas.

NO! Don’t ever toss out bananas! Bananas are like gold when cooking. You can use them as an oil substitute because bananas are great moisture makers. You can also make any type of banana treat under the sun (depending on how many rotten bananas you have!) Remember, the older and browner they are, the sweeter they are, allowing whatever you make to be sweet and moist.

I have a few alternative flours on hand, and decided to use those. I have never really used some of these ingredients but did some research to see how they work and what they are actually replacing. Somehow, I got it right because this is literally the best banana treat I have ever made. And it doesn’t even have flour or sugar. This recipe is gluten-free.

Best Banana Cake Ever:

2 eggs

Moist and Delicious! I added just a few chocolate chips!

1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/4 cup olive oil
2 bananas (overly ripe and mashed well with a fork)
1/2 cup of apple sauce **
1/2 cup of Vermont maple syrup
1 cup garbanzo flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1 tsp of xantham gum
1 tsp of tapioca flour
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of cinnamon
pinch of salt
3/4 cup of chocolate chips, (optional)

**I did not have apple sauce, but I had apples. So I skinned the apple and boiled it beforehand  for 20 minutes, drained it and mashed it. I think this was the magic touch to this cake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray a loaf pan, 9×5 inches.

In a mixer, beat the eggs and syrup on high for 5-6 minutes until nice and creamy. In the meantime mix the flours, xanthum gum, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together in a separate bowl. Then lower the mixer speed and add the vanilla extract, olive oil, apple sauce, and mashed bananas. Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients and chocolate, if you choose to use it. Mix gently.

Transfer to pan and bake it for 40 minutes or until middle seems fully cooked.

Enjoy!

Citrus Zest Scones

I cant live without baked goods. I just cannot. I try, but then I fail. So I created a recipe that would allow me to have them whenever I want, but like all things, in moderation. But who’s looking?

Citrus Zest Scones:    
2 cups of whole wheat flour
3 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of baking soda
2-5 tbsp of cold butter –  while I first used smart balance, it didn’t cook right  and made for a very soft, rubbery texture.
1 cup of plain nonfat yogurt
less than a 1/4  cup of citrus of your choice
2 tsp of vanilla
3 tbsp of honey

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl or food processor with the dough blade. If you dont have a food processor, no problem. It’s not that necessary. Cut the butter into small cubes and blend together. Even use your fingers to pinch the butter to make sure its thoroughly blended and keep stirring. Add the yogurt, and keep stirring until mixture forms a sticky ball.

Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to just lightly coat it. Make sure you dont over knead it.

This is the fun part. How do you want your scones shaped? Circles? Triangles? Hearts?

For circles use the rim of drinking glass. Push down on dough and voila!

For triangles, shape your dough into one large circle. Then cut up and down and diagonally, as if you would a pizza. You can add more cute if you think the shapes are too big.

The dough should be 3/4 inch thick when you begin shaping, and they will rise in the oven.

Then, bake for 6-8 minutes or until they are golden brown. I usually flip them mid way to cook them evenly. Just make sure you keep your eye on them because they will easily overcook! (i learned the hard way)

DebuTips:

Make sure you eat them right out of the even. That’s when they are best!

Feel free to add one or more citrus of your choice, I used grapefruit, lemon and orange and it was delish!

Add a flavorful extract! I am a huge fan of vanilla, almond, even orange! There are tons of options! Just add a teaspoon to any batch.

 

Let me know how they come out!