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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pumpkin Love

Like every other blogger out there, I love pumpkin. Here are a few of my favorite pumpkin treats.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie:

1 cup vanilla soy milk (this definitely tastes better with soy milk vs. cow's milk)
1/4 cup canned pumpkin (you know me, I don't measure)
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Tiny splash of real maple syrup
Ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg to taste (I even used some fresh ginger this week as I was fighting off a cold)

Pumpkin Pie Latte:

I love the idea of Starbuck's pumpkin pie latte, but it's way too sweet for my tastes. Plus, the calories--for 400 calories, I'd rather eat a pumpkin bar and drink black coffee, thank you very much. I'd seen copycat recipes that called for real pumpkin, but I always kind of thought they sounded gross. But after I read that pumpkin would help me fight off my cold, I decided to give it a try. So here's what I did.

Warm up about 1/4 of coffee cup full of vanilla soy milk. (Again, soy tastes better here.) Add a spoonful of canned pumpkin, and cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to taste. Stir it up. Add whatever coffee you're drinking. I've been using Starbucks vanilla, and it's yummy.

Baked Spice Pumpkin Donut Holes:

Go try them. Not a health food, but worth it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

On smoothies and other goodness

I love smoothies. I often fantasize all day about smoothies (and oatmeal). I love smoothies like a fat boy loves cake (that was my 7th graders' favorite analogy last year).

Most of the summer I made my smoothies with plain Greek yogurt (Fage is my favorite brand), whatever fruit (fresh or frozen) I was in the mood for, a splash of lemon juice, and a little sweetener. Simple, protein-packed, and delicious.

But as we've moved into fall, I've been experimenting a little. (If you haven't tried the gingerbread smoothie yet, step away from the computer and go make it now.) The last couple of days I've been making what Kath calls a dough-boy smoothie and what Angela calls a cake batter smoothie. They are decadently thick and filling; I can have one for breakfast and not need a mid-morning snack. (By the way, you should also check out Kath's post on snack smoothies vs. entree smoothies. I typically make entree smoothies.)

Here's what you do:

  1. Soak some oats in milk overnight. (Kath calls for more than I use. I don't measure, but I probably use 1/3 cup oats to 2/3 cup milk. Kath also does this in her blender, but if you've ever been attacked by items in my fridge, you know that won't work for me.)
  2. In the morning, add a frozen banana, a spoonful of natural peanut butter, and whatever else you want.
  3. Blend and enjoy with a spoon.
Here's a few combos I've tried:

Oats, milk, PB, banana, cocoa powder, and agave nectar--chocolatey and delicious. Almost dessert-like, even.

Oats, milk, PB, banana, vanilla, blueberries, and agave nectar--that was breakfast this morning. I still wasn't hungry at 12:30!

And one more thing: if you love pumpkin like I love pumpkin, try these Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats. It's like fall in a bowl.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

In my kitchen

Here are some recipes I've been groovin' on lately.

On the healthy end of the spectrum, Overnight Oats have been saving my rear in the mornings now that school has started. I put them together the night before mornings that I plan to run, and they're ready and waiting for me in the a.m. I don't think it takes me too long to make regular oatmeal in the morning, but when you're in a hurry (as we always are), every minute helps. At first I didn't think I liked overnight oats, but it just took me a while to figure out how I like them. I combine about 1/3 cup oatmeal and about 3/4 cup milk (I don't measure anything) in a bowl with a lid. I add a sprinkle of chia seeds, a generous dollop of Greek yogurt, a spoonful of natural peanut butter or walnuts, a dash of cinnamon, a drizzle of honey, and some fruit (blueberries usually). Delicious! I can't to start including some pumpkin this fall!

It's no secret I love smoothies. Here's a recipe for an amazing gingerbread smoothie (which I found via Lil Runner) that makes a nutritious treat. It's also something totally different from my usual berry-based smoothie.

On the less nutritious end of the spectrum, I have discovered baked donuts. I got a donut pan when Ryan and I got married, but I'm a little embarrassed to admit, it took me 12 years to figure out what it was. While baked donuts are certainly healthier than their fried counterpart, they're not exactly a health food. One thing I like about them is that the pan only makes 6, which is just about the right number for us. So far we've enjoyed Baked Spiced Donuts and Baked Vanilla Donuts.

And on the completely decadent end of the spectrum, I discovered a recipe for Douglas County Pie, which is like a cross between pecan pie and a chocolate chip cookie. This pie was served at the Paradise Cafe in Lawrence (before it closed). I fell in love with it in high school (before the days of online recipes), and my mom and I experimented heartily trying to replicate it. We came up with some yummy recipes, but none of them were similar to the real thing. The key, I think, is the flour and lack of corn syrup, which contribute to the cookie aspect of the pie. It's super rich and best enjoyed rarely and with whipped cream.

And one more super decadent treat--Peanut Butter Cup Blondies. The recipe calls for 9 peanut butter cups in an 8 x 8 pan; I went ahead and bumped it up to 10 just for the heck of it. Then Ryan and I proceeded to eat the whole pan in one day. Oops!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Autumn Golden Vegetable Lasagna

It may still be August and 105 degrees outside, but I'm dreaming of scarves, sweaters, cider, and pumpkins. Although it's clearly still summer outside, it's fall inside my kitchen, where I've been whipping up goodies like apple cider cupcakes, ginger snaps, and Rachael Ray's Autumn Golden Vegetable Lasagna. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

This lasagna is genius for several reasons. First, egg rolls wrappers instead of lasagna noodles? Easy and amazing. Pumpkin + lasagna? Doesn't get any better. The plethora of cheese doesn't exactly make this a health food, but it's still lighter than traditional lasagna, and you definitely get your veggies in. It reminds me of my favorite fall tradition, Baked Stuff Pumpkin, but it's not quite as rich, and it's definitely easier.

So here's how you make it.


2 T. unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash (it says 10 oz, I used a 12 oz bag of precut squash from Walmart)
2 C creamy white sauce (recipe follows)
1 can pumpkin puree
1 egg
10 egg roll wrappers
1 3/4 C shredded gouda
8 large basil leaves

In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Add the squash and 1 C water and simmer over medium heat; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the water is evaporated and the squash is golden and tender, about 13 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8-inch baking dish (I think 9 inch might be better...). Place 1/2 C white sauce in the bottom. Whisk pumpkin and egg together in a bowl.

Cut half the egg roll wrappers into 3 strips each. Fill a bowl with hot tap water. As you work with each wrapper, dip it in the water to rinse the starch off. Use 1 whole wrapper and 3 strips to cover the bottom of the dish (they'll overlap). Spread a generous 1/2 C of pumpkin mixture on top and sprinkle with 1/3 C of cheese. Repeat the layering.

Add another layer of egg roll wrappers. Spread with 1 cup white sauce, then top with squash, basil, and 1/2 C cheese. Add another layer of egg roll wrappers, the remaining pumpkin mixture, and 1/3 cup cheese. Top with the remaining egg roll wrappers, then spread with the remaining white sauce.

Cover the dish snugly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. (It says you should put the dish on a baking sheet. I didn't notice this instruction, and my oven is suffering for it.) Uncover the dish, sprinkle the remaining 3/4 C cheese on top, and bake until golden and bubbly, about 10 min. Cool for 15 min before serving.

White Sauce

2 T butter
1/2 C chopped shallots (I used there a difference?)
1/4 C flour
2 C milk, warmed (I didn't warm mine, and it was fine)
1/4 C grated parmesan

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until tender, about 5 min. Stir in flour for 2 min. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add parmesan, and season with salt and pepper.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Things I'm Loving Right Now

Woohoo, a blog post. No more cat pee on the home page. Last week was our first full week of summer break, but since we had VBS, it didn't really feel like a break. This week really feels like summer. Here are some things I love about summer:

Being home to listen to High Plains Morning on High Plains Public Radio. Yeah, I'm a public radio dork.

Having time to cook healthy, nutritious well as lots of cake and brownies.

Not having to rush around to get anywhere in the morning.

Not having to get up before 5 to run (unless I want to). Sleeping in until 6 feels downright luxurious.

Other things I'm loving right now (that don't necessarily pertain to summer):

My new Ninja blender. It rocks. Got it for Mother's Day--best present ever! Ryan knows how much I love making smoothies. It's the poor man's VitaMix, and so far it's been up for everything I've thrown at it.

Ellie Krieger's cookbook The Food You Crave. Lots of awesome, healthy recipes. Love this soup recipe!

Kodiak Cakes. Whole grains. Easy to make. 140 calories per serving, and lots of protein. Does it get any better?

Chobani Raspberry yogurt thrown in the fridge for a couple of hours, then thawed just a few minutes in the fridge. Creamy deliciousness.

Fage 2% with strawberry. Like ice cream, only good for you.

Cottage cheese whirled up in the blender or food processor with almond extract and Splenda until it's smooth. Top with strawberries (or get wild and throw them in the blender with the cottage cheese). I know it sounds gross, but trust me, it's yummolicious.

Better Than Crack Brownies. Not at all healthy for you. But delicious. I took them to a church potluck dinner, and Don Foster (who loves chocolate almost as much as I do) asked me what they were called. I told him, and he replied, "Better Than Crap Brownies?" Moral of the story: come up with a new name when serving them to the hearing aid crowd.

Schwan's Bomb Pop Juniors. Great for rehydration after a long run!

Hope you're enjoying your summer, too!

Monday, January 31, 2011

yeah, it's monday

Yesterday our bathroom smelled suspiciously like cat pee, even though the litter box had been freshly cleaned. This morning I discovered the source when I reached out of the shower for my towel. Yeah, the cat had peed on the only towel in the bathroom, leaving me to wrap up in my robe and run dripping wet to the other bathroom for a fresh towel.

Remind me again why we have pets...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Emilia keeps dragging out shorts and tank tops from her dresser. (I know, I should put them where she can't reach them, but I'm hoping they'll still fit her this spring, and if I put them where she can't find them, I won't be able to find them either.) Today, I told her she couldn't wear shorts because they are for summer. "I want summer," she cried. Me too, honey, me too.

2. Emilia has discovered a love of raisins. We are very pleased to have her ask for something other than cookies and candy, but it is a little disturbing to find one or two that she's spilled in the corner and not immediately recognize them as raisins.

3. This afternoon Emilia went into the bathroom, closed the door, pooped in her diaper, smeared chocolate pudding in her potty chair, and wiped it out with toilet paper. She's kind of got the concept.