Fresh Friday – Last 10 on Pinterest

Some recent Pins that have made me happy, inspired me, or just piqued my interest

from OneGoodThingByJillee.com – Always looking for practical ways to reduce my keratosis pilaris. It does seem to be getting better as I get older, but the bumps are still noticeable sometimes

from ShugarySweets.com – mmmm, pumpkin, spice, biscotti, coffee…all so yumm

from MyBakingAddiction.com – chocolate and pumpkin in brownie form?! Yummm…I’m sensing a theme here

from HomemadeGinger.com – always looking for new crafty ideas. This sounds like a great cheat!

love embroidery. I have been wanting to try embroidery with ribbon too. Oh, maybe I can use it on this quilt I’m working on!

from SomethingSwanky.com – are you saying I have a problem here? Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip is totally normal in the fall 🙂

from LandscapeDesignAdvice.com – I have some fresh dirt patches that will need to be filled next Spring. Great ideas!

from TwoPeasandTheirPod.com – pumpkin again, yes. But they’re PUMPKIN DONUT HOLES!!! 🙂

I just love elephants. They are gorgeous and lovely and special.

by MeadowTea on Etsy.com – Pun intended!

You are welcome to find me on Pinterest. There is a quick button to the right of this post, just under the Instagram feed.

See you there!

Semi-DIY Decor and Pumpkin Spinach Soup

This has been a week! The Huz has been on the awful second shift at work, so I’ve had my evenings free. Evenings to get into some mischief. Mischief which includes decorating The House and making soup from scratch.

Yep. My kind of mischief.

I drove over to Pier 1 the other day because we had a $25 gift card for there AND they had a 10% off coupon on their website. I went to look for a thin shelf or a small table for the end of the hallway, but ended up leaving with some amazing curtains and a pillow to match.

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Did you know that sometimes businesses will sell curtains one panel per pack???? I sure didn’t. Doesn’t seem logical.

The curtains I found ended up being one such pack. I figured that I could probably just order the other one online, but it turned out that I was accidentally more frugal than I thought and got a pattern that was on clearance. The closest one was about 2 hours away in Columbus, OH. I opted for the easy route.

We have pretty great blinds on our windows, so I was looking for the curtains for color and accent rather than usefulness. The single panel was wide enough that I could make two panels myself. Got out the scissors, sewing machine, and went to town.

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Oh, and that shelf I was talking about? Well, I grabbed a white one from Target (and that curtain rod) with some leftover gift cards from the wedding and spray painted it green. Nothing like a pop of color in an unexpected spot.

IMG_20131014_222131P.S. High Fives for awesome hubbies who will hang shelves and curtain rods on their mornings before they go to work. I love our teamwork.

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And now for the soup!

A man at church was giving out bags of spinach from his garden. It looked soooo good. I couldn’t say no. We had picked up some sugar pumpkins at a nearby dairy farm and I have been aching for an excuse to hack into them. I found this recipe online and I’m only posting it as a reference to my starting point. I did things differently, but included most of the same ingredients. The original recipe is more for a creamy soup, since it calls for turning all the veggies into a puree. Also, I added chicken to mine, because I can’t get away with giving something without meat to the Huz.

Pumpkin Spinach Soup

Ingredients

2.5 lbs chicken breast, cubed (smaller pieces are better)
1 sweet onion
3 cups of cubed pumpkin (can be varied sizes, this is intensive) It took half a sugar pumpkin for me, probably great for leftover pieces from carving. remove skin.
4 cups raw spinach
1 32 oz box of broth (chicken or vegetable is fine. I used chicken)
2 cups water
1 tbsp butter
2 medium-sized tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 can of pumpkin puree
1 tbsp olive oil

Directions

Prep the pumpkin by removing the seeds and stringy innards and cutting apart the sides. As stated before, this is intensive and can take quite some time. There are easy ways to remove the skin by using wet paper towel and sticking them in the microwave. I was short on time, so, I just cut away, dicing as I went and then cutting the skin off at the last. (Fun side project: as you pull out the seeds, toss them into a colander and rinse. Be sure to get all the gunk off of them, then set aside between paper towels to dry – recommended dry time is one day. Toast later!)

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Dice the onion and garlic. Saute them in butter in a large pot on the stove over medium heat until the onion turns translucent.

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In a pan, cook the diced chicken until white on all sides. Set aside while the soup is prepped.

Once the onion is cooked, add the pumpkin, diced tomatoes, broth, water, pumpkin puree, chicken, and spices. I cut back one some of the spices because I wasn’t using as much liquid, but feel free to go at it. My end result was a very mellow flavoring, but pleasant. The Huz can’t handle stuff that’s too spicy.  (If you’re still cooking the chicken or cutting tomatoes, just add as you have it ready. This part is pretty flexible.) Add more water as needed to cover all the ingredients. Stir then cover the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Cut up the spinach and toss into a pan to cook until it wilts. Check that the vegetables in the soup are tender. The pumpkin should have a potato-like consistency. In fact, the Huz thought they were potato until I told him it was pumpkin. Score! If the veggies are tender, stir the soup and add spinach.

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I apologize for the lack of times in this recipe. I was given none, and since I spent a lot of time cutting my pumpkin while the soup was already going, I can’t remember how long it actually took me. All I know is that this soup has all the feel of gourmet.  If I could do it all over, I would have chopped up more chicken and chopped it up smaller (I did not use the above listed 2.5 lbs.) You can also do this without any meat, but you would probably need to add more pumpkin chunks to compensate.

Anyway, I discovered that potentially the best thing about cooking (soup in particular) is that you can take a recipe and make it your own. You can’t really do that with baking. I love my rules and parameters a lot, but I liked being free to improvise a bit with this recipe.

This batch made enough for me to freeze half of it in a gallon freezer bag and still have servings for myself and my husband for probably three nights. I know what I’m packing for lunch!

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Side Notes:

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So this is happening right now, in our front garden. Those suckers were all supposed to be less than 3 feet tall. 4 absolute max. I’ll be harvesting those seeds once they keel over completely. But right now, they’re just so pretty and as it’s getting so much colder, they make me very happy.

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This verse humbles me. I feel like I can keep a close watch over my mouth for the most part. I can get complainy like the rest of us, but the mouth seems to be fairly easy to keep tabs on. The heart, however, that’s a horse of a different color. Lord, help me to monitor what my heart dwells on. Out of the heart flows life and I want mine to be a life of praise and joy…not bitterness and discontent.

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Pardon the poor handwriting, but I found this fabulous piece in my box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It’s like they know me.

Have a great weekend!!

 

Recipe: Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

What is happening to me?! I’m becoming a cooking/baking monster! I always loved baking though. And there’s nothing like baking something from scratch. It’s probably my favorite, when I have time for it. And I try to make time for it. With just me and the Huz, it’s not too hard to spend a couple hours in the kitchen, and the end result is normally satisfying.

I really recommend baking from scratch for two reasons – 1) You know exactly what is going into your food. You know because you put it there. No silly obscure scientific names, just the basics: flour, sugar, milk, egg, vanilla, pumpkin. Yum. And 2) the end result is no longer whatever the recipe says it is. It’s now part of you. Your heart (not literally) went into making that and THAT is fulfilling. I have yet to truly get there with cooking, but I’ve had some successes recently with new recipes, so that is encouraging me a lot.

I was about to finish up work yesterday with a growing need to making something pumpkinny. Did you know that you can’t always find pumpkin puree throughout the year? Reminds me of Japan with all the seasonal veggies/fruits. And that’s comforting to me. I enjoy using fresh pumpkin myself, but the process can be very messy and time-consuming. It has to be combined with roasting pumpkin seeds too. That’s just a given.

So, I wanted something sweet and something pumpkinny. I have a Pinterest board exclusively for pumpkin things. It’s delectable. I found the quickest pumpkin dessert recipe on there. The original recipe calls for all things gluten-free. I am not encumbered by the dietary restriction, so I did not use anything specifically GF. If you are, feel free to run over to that website for the alterations. This post, however, will include all the gluten-full and probably not-too-healthy-for-you ingredients necessary. Here you go!

Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

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makes 24 individual cookies (12 sandwiches)

Prep:   30 mins      Total Time: 1:05

Ingredients:

Cookie

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice**
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter softened (unsalted)
1/2 cup pumpkin (you can refrigerate the remaining pumpkin in the can for about a week)
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Filling

8-oz package of cream cheese softened
2 tbs butter softened (unsalted)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

extra powdered sugar

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350*F

2. Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, salt) in medium bowl and set aside.

3. Combine brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter in large bowl and beat at medium-speed until creamy. Add pumpkin, milk, egg, and vanilla. Beat until well-mixed. It will not look very nice, but don’t worry. Add flour mixture and beat at low-speed until well-mixed. Now it looks like batter.

4. Drop batter onto ungreased cookie sheets with a spoon. I cover my cookies sheets with aluminum foil because I don’t like having to wash my cookie sheets. I’m lazy. I was liberal with the amounts (about a large half-dollar size) and they turned out pretty consistent. Not smooth like the ones on the original website, but they do the job. I had enough batter for 12 cookies each on 2 pans. Bake 9-10 minutes or until until set and lightly brown on the edges. I had to go a little longer to bake all the way through (since mine were thicker). Cool on cookie sheets for about 2 minutes then set on cooling rack. Cool completely.

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5. Combine all filling ingredients except for powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat at medium-speed until smooth. You’ll probably have to scrape the bowl a few times to get all the ingredients mixed in. Add powdered sugar to the mix, one cup at a time, mixing completely after each addition. This was my favorite part. Yum!

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6. Spread a layer of filling between the flat sides of two cookies and press together. You can be very liberal with this. We had a LOT of filling left over after I put a pretty good amount of filling between our cookies. We had so much, in fact, that we cut up a Honey Crisp apple and used half of it for dip and put the rest on the fridge for later use. So good. Sprinkle tops of sandwiches with extra powdered sugar (I forgot this part, but it does make them look cuter).

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7. This is up to you. Depending on when you are serving the cookies, it is best to pop them into the fridge for about 30 minutes so the filling will thicken a bit. If not, the cookies could slide off each other. We’ve made cookies that we called Gobs for years (chocolate cake cookies with super-rich cream cheese filling AND coated on outside) and this is how we set them up. You can just put them on a cookie sheet to cool, or, if you lack the space, wrap each sandwich in some Saran wrap and squeeze in wherever you can find a space. Makes it easy to pack into lunches for a treat, too, throughout the week. I sent one to work with the Huz so he could enjoy it later.

Go, my baking friends! Go and bake up some October!

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**You can also use 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg and 1/8 tsp ground cloves.