Archive | September, 2011

and it continues….pumpkin bread with streusel topping

26 Sep

I warned you. The pumpkin obsession continues with this lovely bread recipe topped with a delicious streusel that is not quite as unhealthy as one would expect! I found this recipe over on  Tasty Kitchen. My recipe is the one listed below, which has been modified slightly to meet my tastes. It’s a great bread. Moist and delish without that wet texture that some puree breads can sometimes get. The streusel topping is a great touch and adds a little unexpected crunch.

I love mine with some cream cheese or warmed up under the broiler with some real butter. It’s great at breakfast with some scrambled eggs, or for dessert after dinner.

This freezes fantastically as well, if you manage to have any left to freeze. Yield is 2 loaves.

Pumpkin Bread with Streusel Topping


  • ¾ cups Butter, Softened
  • ¾ cups Granulated Sugar
  • ¾ cups Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 4 whole Eggs
  • 2-½ cups Pumpkin Puree
  • 3 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 3 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ¾ teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon Allspice
  • ½ teaspoon Grated Nutmeg
  • ½ cups Buttermilk


  • ¼ cups Butter, Softened
  • ½ cups Brown Sugar
  • ½ cups Oatmeal
  • ¼ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons Ground Flax Seed
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 350º F.

Spray two 8″ loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray and lightly flour.

For the topping – mix together all the topping ingredients using a fork or your hands until combined thoroughly.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Add in the vanilla and eggs and mix until just incorporated. Stir in your pumpkin puree.

In a separate bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Whisk the mixture together until it looks even and smooth.

Add half of the flour mix to the pumpkin mixture, blending well. Beat in buttermilk. Add remaining flour mix and beat lightly until smooth.

Pour batter evenly into the two prepared 8″ pans. Cover each with half of the topping mix.

Bake at 350º F for 70 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If additional cooking time is required, do so in 5 minute increments.

Remove from pans and let rest on cooling rack. Slice and serve.

If freezing, let cool completely and then wrap in a double layer of saran. To serve, let thaw in fridge overnight.

Streusel close up

My Obsession – all things pumpkin. Today, lowfat pumpkin cupcakes!

21 Sep

Please accept my apologies in advance. There is potential for my blog to be overwhelmed with pumpkin recipes of all kinds. All it takes is that first day we have where the air is cool and you can smell the start of fall, or the day that pumpkin beers are announced on draft. I’m obsessed. When there was a pumpkin shortage, I started hoarding cans of the stuff, buying more than I needed on the off-chance I’d have a hankering for some pumpkin pie and not have any of it on hand. I also roasted some of my own and froze it just to be safe. Yes, I’ve got a problem. And then there were rumblings of there being a bad crop this year so next year there may be a shortage again. Oh the evil cycle.

Now, add to this the fact that I’m attempting to shed some pounds with the holidays quickly approaching….and I need low fat but still flavorful recipes for pumpkin items. Well, thank you Gina from Skinny Taste. I found her recipe, I made it, and I only modified it slightly from her recipe based on what I had on hand…and I loved it! I had a lot of cupcakes for just me and husband so I brought some in for my coworkers – what a huge hit! They all thought they were delish and would never have guessed they were low-fat and pretty healthy for you in comparison!

The recipe below is my modified version, click here to go to Gina’s version.

I hope you enjoy these as much as everyone in my neck of the woods did!

Low-Fat Frosted Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • 18.25 oz  Golden Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1 cup water

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz Philadelphia 1/3 fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 5 tbsp packed brown sugar


Preheat your oven to 350°. Line your cupcake pans – I needed 20 total.

Combine cake mix, nutmeg and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the canned pumpkin and water and beat about 2 minutes until combined. Fill your cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full and bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool completely on a wire rack.

For the icing, combine all the ingredients and mix until nice and smooth. Top cooled cupcakes with icing however you like, and serve!

Refrigerate any leftover cupcakes. These also freeze nicely even once you frost them, so it’s easy to pop a couple out to serve guests!

Homemade Ketchup

19 Sep

There is a certain big named company that has been producing ketchup for like, ever in my neck of the woods. But they better look out. Because there is a new kid in town. Busting out some ketchup that also starts with an H – Heather’s Ketchup. Ya. I said it.

Now that we got all that out of the way, this recipe is a fabulous way to use up the very last of your garden tomatoes. My tomatoes are starting to look a little sad and are either splitting, falling off the vines before they’re ripe, or being pilfered by the local bugs. So, I went through the garden and was able to save enough of the Roma’s to make this ketchup. You can use whatever type of tomatoes you like, but if using something like the”Big Boy” variety, your cooking time will be longer since they have a lot of water and seedy pulp. This took me about 2hrs total to make this and since I got such a large yield it was worth every second!

This recipe yielded me with 3 small ketchup sized jars, 3 jelly jars, and 4 pint mason jars. So, it’s a lot of ketchup. But it keeps well and will be a great item to gift at the holidays or just enjoy next summer!

Homemade Ketchup

Adapted from Jamie Oliver


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large Vidalia onions, diced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • large pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
  • 2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh chives, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 6 quarts of fresh Roma tomatoes, roughly diced
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  1. In a large stock pot, add olive oil and all the ingredients through to the jalapeno pepper. Cook over medium to low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions have softened and browned.
  2. Stir in the water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and continue to cook until tomatoes have reduced by half.
  3. Remove pot from heat, add the basil and chives, and using either an immersion blender or a regular blender, pulse until mixture becomes smooth. Pass this smoothed out mixture through a food mill to get rid of the seeds and tomato skins. (add the leftover skins and seeds to your compost pile!)
  4. Add in white vinegar and brown sugar and simmer until the sauce reduces to a thicker version. Taste and add additional seasonings as needed.
  5. To preserve, process sterilized hot mason jars in a water bath canner for 10 minutes, letting cool and seal overnight. Check jars for sealing, if any jars have not sealed they can be put in the fridge to use!

Note: this ketchup will NOT be thick like what you are used to seeing in the stores. It’s thicker than tomato sauce, but not as thick as Heinz or Hunts. If you feel like you must have it be thick like those versions, make a cornstarch slurry and add it in tablespoon increments until you reach your achieved thickness.

Almost the last peppers of the season…sigh

16 Sep

I’m not gonna lie. I am not a big fan of peppers. I don’t eat them. When I make stuffed peppers, I eat the meat and toss the pepper. When I eat a stuffed hot pepper, I eat the meat and pass the pepper along to the husband. Peppers in my salad? I pick them out. Yet somehow I managed to start from see 6 different varieties of peppers – Green Bell, Hungarian, Sweet, Tuscan (peperoncini), and Jalapeno. I’ve pickled and stuffed them, and still have tons left. So the boy said he had them one time with olive oil and cheese under the broiler. Um, ok. Sounds simple, but it didn’t sound like they’d be good just under the broiler because they’d be too crunchy. So I winged it and the end result was just perfect according to the husband. The husband, who actually said he could eat just this with some crusty bread for dinner. No meat. NO MEAT?!?!?!? He always wants meat for dinner. This stuff must be tasty.

Damn i’m good.

This recipe is simple. Use any type of peppers you want. As little or as many as you want. The husband likes a mix of hot and sweet peppers. The cheese possibilities are endless. Go wild, get crazy. Use one type or mix it up. Just make sure it’s something that will melt and bubble and brown.

Variety of peppers, cut in half/pieces and seeded – enough to fill a 9×9 pan (I use a mix of the types I planted in my garden)

Olive oil

Kosher Salt

Freshly shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drizzle some olive oil into the 9×9 pan. Add the peppers and sprinkle with kosher salt. Drizzle with additional olive oil – you want enough olive oil on these so that there is some in the bottom of the pan that will be flavored from the peppers and cheese and taste fantastic sopped up with some crusty bread.

Sprinkle the tops of the peppers with cheese, however much you want is your preference. Place in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes. When the cheese is bubbling and getting those toasty brown spots, your peppers are done.

Serve hot with crusty bread and enjoy!

Well known restaurant chain dressing, but without the cost. Hello Creamy Italian.

13 Sep

So I love the Olive Garden. Not because of their entrees. It’s because I can go there and gorge myself on bowl after bowl of salad and sop up any excess dressing with a warm bread stick. There are plenty of times I have gone there and eaten nothing but salad, bread sticks, and of course a piece of tiramisu. Bliss.

Now, I love the OG dressing, but at $7 a bottle (the last time I bought it…could be more now) that habit can get a little pricey when you’re eating salad just about everyday and can go through a bottle a week if you aren’t careful. So, I decided to attempt to clone the recipe. I Googled my heart out looking for a copy cat version that I could duplicate in my own home. When I saw the list of ingredients most of them carried, I felt the wind leave my sails. Then I decided I’d wing it and hope for the best.

Well, I think what I’ve created comes pretty close. Only it’s BETTER. The  husband used to be a devout Good Seasons italian dressing sort of guy. Now he wants nothing but my homemade dressing. Well bless his heart…..

I hope you guys enjoy this in its simplicity and uncomplicated goodness. Just a note – the picture is the recipe below 4 times over….we do eat salad every day and it’s more efficient to make one really big batch. The recipe I have provided will yield you enough for 1-2 family sized salads, depending on how much dressing you like.

Creamy Italian Dressing


4tbsp chives, dehydrated

4tbsp parmesan cheese

4tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3tbsp light mayo

1tsp garlic salt

1tsp italian herb mix

1tbsp lemon juice

2tbsp white vinegar

1tbsp water

Place all ingredients in bowl and blend with an immersion blender until well combined. The dressing will be light green color from the chives. Serve over a garden salad and toss to coat. refrigerate and leftover dressing. When using any leftover dressing, remove from fridge for about 10 minutes prior to using as the olive oil will make the dressing thicker and harder to pour.

If you don’t have an immersion blender you can use a food processor or blender and get the same outcome. DO NOT USE any type of oil but olive oil.

Pizza Pancakes. Hello lover.

9 Sep

So I saw this post for Pizza Pancakes yesterday and thought, hmmm. Interesting. And then I thought hmmm…GENIUS! Genius because I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner. Genius because I just so happened to have all the required ingredients in the house.

Don’t snub your nose up at these. I know the thought of pancakes usually brings images of melted butter and the shimmery gloss of maple syrup, but these are those particular pancakes savory counterpart. And they are excellent. The husband even enjoyed them. I plan on making another couple batches and freezing them so they can become a quick lunch or snack. All you’ll need to do is pop them in the toaster! With a salad, it’s a complete meal!

Make this this weekend, tonight, in the very near future. You will not regret it. I used some colby jack cheese as well as pizza cheese. I used chives instead of italian seasoning. It was all good.

The recipe is so simple, so go check it out! Link below.

Ginormous Chocolate Chip cookies, why yes please.

6 Sep

Ugh, back to the grind.

This Labor Day weekend was a lazy one for me. I had plans on being productive, but said forget it. I deserved to have a weekend where I slacked off a little and just kicked back and relaxed. No worries though – on Monday I totally made up for it! What a productive day I had. I made some sauce from our bounty of garden tomatoes, turned a bunch of cucumbers into pickle spears, cut a stack of fabric for napkins, and lastly, made some of these monsters. In case you couldn’t tell from the recipe name, these are BIG cookies. Super big. GINORMOUS. And the mix of the milk chocolate chips and the semi-sweet Hershey bar…

This recipe yields 24 cookies, and they freeze fantastically. Just let them cool completely and freeze them for later consumption. In our case, freezing half is the only way there will be any left to eat at a later time. The husband ate THREE yesterday. For real. I had one and was good…..but I did eat one on the way to work this morning as an after breakfast treat, so…..

Ginormous Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Ultimate Choco chip cookie recipe


  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 2 Hershey bars, broken into pieces


  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high until light and fluffy, 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Mix in flour mix just until incorporated; fold in chocolate chips and chunks.
  3. Using a large spoon or a large cookie scoop (1/4 cup size), drop dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Arrange 8 unbaked cookies, 3 inches apart, on each of two parchment-lined baking sheets (3 cookies on each side, then 2 staggered in between). Bake until edges are light golden brown, 18 – 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool. Repeat process with remaining dough.

Note: Cookies will be soft looking in the center. This is normal. They will firm up upon cooling. Also, I had to bake mine at the full 20 minutes. Depending on your oven, check them at the 18 minute mark.