I’ve always wondered how hard it was to make pumpkin puree, so I went ahead and made it!  It definitely isn’t hard, but requires a little time.  And if you plan on roasting the seeds afterwards (you should!)- your oven will be running for a long time.  Not necessarily a bad thing when it’s getting chilly out!

Pumpkin puree can be used for any of your pumpkin needs.  It’s awesome in pumpkin pies and makes it truly homemade.  It is good in many other baked goods, such as Pumpkin Snickerdoodles, Pumpkin Pancakes, Whole Wheat Pumpkin Waffles, or Pumpkin Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Slice pumpkins in half, as pictured.

Scoop out the insides and save the seeds if you plan on roasting them.

Place the pumpkin halves on a foiled lined baking sheet, open side down.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, remove from oven and let cool.

Scoop out the soft pumpkin with a spoon and put in a food processor or blender.

There you have it, pureed pumpkin!

My friend Lindsey shared her family’s recipe with me and I knew I had to try it.  It sat in my email inbox for a couple months, and I’m not sure why I delayed for so long in trying it.  I’ve made it three times in the last couple of months!  It’s perfect for a chilly fall Sunday, or for feeding a crowd.  As she said “it makes an impression!”

I love the addition of spinach to the lasagna, but if you aren’t a fan, feel free to leave it out.  Also, the sauce is the “secret”- so set aside an extra thirty minutes to let it simmer!  Lindsey’s directions to me were very flexible- so feel free to make it your own, as I did!

Ingredients:

Sauce:
-1 Large Jar of Traditional Prego Sauce
-1/2 Cup of Dry White Wine
-2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
-Dash of Salt
-Dash of Italian Seasoning
-1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Lasagna:
-Sauce from above recipe
-1 Box Lasagna Noodles (NOT precooked or no-boil type)
-1 15 ounce container of Ricotta Cheese
-1 15 ounce container of 2% Cottage Cheese
-2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella
-1/4 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
-1 Pound of Ground Beef
-1/2 Cup Frozen Spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

For the sauce:  Add ingredients to a medium saucepan and let simmer  on low-medium heat for at least 30 minutes before you start making the lasagna.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Boil water and cook 12-15 lasagna noodles per box directions.  Brown the ground beef and drain the fat.  Set aside.

If using spinach, run under warm water and thaw.  Squeeze out as much liquid as possible and dry again with paper towels.  Any remaining liquid will make the lasagna watery, so do your best.  In a large bowl, mix together ricotta cheese and cottage cheese.  Add the spinach and stir.  Set aside.

1) In a 9×12 inch casserole pan (I use Pyrex), spread a generous amount of sauce along bottom, in the corners, and up the sides.
2) Add three lasagna noodles, next to each other and not overlapping.  Add another layer of sauce to cover the noodles.
3) Add some of the ricotta/spinach mixture and gently spread with a spoon.
4) Add a layer of sauce, then noodles, followed by more sauce to cover the noodles.
5) Add the layer of beef now, and coat it in the sauce.
6) Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella cheese over the beef.
7) Add a layer of noodles, then sauce.
8) Add a layer of the rest of the ricotta/spinach mixture.
9) Add a layer of noodles, then sauce.
10) Finish with a layer of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Put the lasagna in the oven for 20 minutes uncovered.  If it is starting to look too dark, then cover with foil.  Bake for another 20 minutes (totaling in 40 minutes.)  Remove from the oven and let rest for 5-7 minutes.

Enjoy!

It’s that time of year!  I love everything apple and pear, especially in baked goods form.  Muffins are even better because it’s a good excuse to eat something sweet and tasty for breakfast!

Ingredients:

-1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
-1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
-1 teaspoon Baking Soda
-1/4 teaspoon Salt
-1/2 Cup Ground Almonds
-3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
-1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter, softened
-1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
-1 Egg
-1/4 teaspoon Vanilla
-2 Pears, peeled and cubed
-1/4-1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans

Optional:  Top muffins with a small amount of cinnamon/sugar before baking.

Preheat oven to 375F.  In a medium bowl, add flour, baking soda, salt, ground almonds, and cinnamon, and mix until incorporated.


In a separate bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla until creamy and fluffy.  Stir in flour mixture until just mixed, and add pear cubes and pecans.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners and fill 3/4 full with batter.  Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture on top if desired.  Bake for 15-25 minutes, until golden and done.

Makes approximately one dozen muffins.

Is it obvious yet that I just love squash this time of year?  I received a lot of nice squash in my produce bin and decided to roast it up.  The nice thing about squash is that it doesn’t need a whole lot to be delicious, especially when roasted.  The thing is, most recipes involve disturbing amounts of butter and brown sugar.  I promise you that although tasty, it isn’t necessary.  Squash is great to have on hand, since it will keep for a month or so.

Ingredients:
-2 Small Acorn Squash, washed and cut into wedges
-1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
-Salt and Pepper, to taste
-1 teaspoon fresh Rosemary, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 375F.  Lightly drizzle olive oil on top of the acorn squash on a baking sheet.  Shake on some salt and pepper, to your preference.  Add chopped rosemary on top and bake for 30-35 minutes, until fork tender.

My grandmother makes the best snickerdoodles on the entire planet.  When Christmastime comes around, we all gather around in her kitchen and sample her cookie platter.  It’s full of delicious traditions, which I really cherish.  And although I absolutely adore grandma’s snickerdoodles, I wanted to try a Fall variation because I just might not be able to hold out until the holidays.

These cookies are super soft and fluffy.  They aren’t the typical snickerdoodle texture since they have the pumpkin in them.  They puff up nicely and keep well for a few days in a sealed container.  This recipe makes about two dozen cookies.

Ingredients:
-3/4 Cup Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
-1 Cup Unsalted Butter
-1 Cup Sugar
-1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
-1 Egg
-1 teaspoons Vanilla
-3 3/4 Cups Flour
-1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
-1/2 teaspoon Salt
-3/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
-1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

For the coating:
-1/2 Cup Sugar
-1 teaspoon Cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Stir in pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla and mix until incorporated.

In a separate medium bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed.

On a small plate, mix together cinnamon, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice for the coating.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll balls into small ping-pong ball sizes. Roll each dough ball in the coating the place on the baking sheet.  Gently press down on each ball with the bottom of a glass to flatten a little.  Bake for 13-14 minutes.  Allow to cool for a minute on the pan, and then remove onto a cooling rack.

When the leaves start changing color, it’s time to get the fireplace ready, sip hot apple cider, and bring out the Fall recipes.  I love making squash during this time of year.  It’s so hearty!  No one likes a boring squash recipe, so I’ve mixed up the traditional butternut squash by roasting it with olive oil and garlic.  At the end, stir in some chopped kale and shredded Parmesan, and you have a delicious and healthy side dish to any meal.

Ingredients:
-1 Large Butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1 inch pieces
-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
-3 Garlic Cloves, minced
-Salt and Pepper, to taste
-1 Cup of Kale, washed and chopped
-1/4 Cup of Shredded Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400F.  Toss the peeled and cubed squash into a 9×13 baking pan with olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper.  Do not add kale or cheese.  Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, until the squash is fork tender.  Add the kale and Parmesan, gently mixing in with a utensil.  Put back in the oven for five minutes, until kale is wilted and starting to get cripsy.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

I’m pretty sure we will never put the grill away this year because of this glorious recipe.    I am picturing us preparing this chicken in the upcoming rain and snow.  It is just that good!  I know beer can chicken is a popular recipe, but I had no idea how delicious it was until we began making it.  We’ve probably made it ten times this summer, which is a ton for someone who refuses to repeat recipes often!  It has also given me the opportunity to refine it and make it exactly how I like it.  Even though Summer is coming to an end, do yourself a favor and give this a try!

Ingredients:
-1 Whole Chicken
-1/2 Can of Beer
-3-4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
-1-1.5 Tablespoons Chicken Seasonings of your choice (one of our favorites here)*

*Feel free to get creative with the seasonings but don’t over season it.  The chicken tastes so juicy and flavorful on its own with a flavorful crispy skin.  My suggestion is a simple blend or even just salt, pepper, onion/garlic powder, lemon, and thyme.

Preheat grill to medium indirect heat.  Remove giblets from chicken.  Rub the skin and under the skin with olive oil.  Sprinkle seasonings on top of the skin and under the skin, wherever possible.  Save 1/2 of the seasonings for the “can” of beer.  (I used a chicken stand, which you can find at any cooking supply store.  It’s well worth purchasing!)  Pour the beer into the stand and add seasonings.  Place the chicken over the opening of the stand/can.  Put on the grill and cook for approximately 45 minutes to one hour, or until temperature reads that it is done.

Let rest for five minutes before carving.

Enjoy!

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