Monday, October 20, 2014

Top 10 Oatmeal Stir-ins to Make Breakfast Special!

I love oatmeal for breakfast in the colder months - warm, filling, and so darned healthy! We buy rolled oats in bulk (think 25 or 50 lb sacks) - which makes for a frugal breakfast (and ensures I have enough oats for baking treats as well).

But plain oatmeal? Sorry, doesn't do it for me. I like to jazz mine up with various stir-ins.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to make oatmeal special!

1 - Pumpkin Spice: this is a treat! Stir in 1 Tbs pumpkin puree, 1 tsp maple syrup, a few drops of vanilla extract, and sprinkle pumpkin pie spice to taste.

2 - Chunky Applesauce: this is my regular standby. I stir in a heaping Tbs of my homemade chunky applesauce and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

3 - Cinnamon Raisin Maple: stir the raisins into the oats as they cook. I use about 1 tsp per 1/2 cup of uncooked oats. The raisins will plump as they cook. A sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup (the real think, not the pancake topping stuff) make for a comforting start to the day.

4 - Peaches and Cream: I freeze peaches in the summertime, and noting is sunnier on a blizzardy day than stirring little chunks of peachy goodness! I usually add a drizzle of honey and a splash of milk or cream.

5 - Raspberry Jam: stir in a tablespoon of raspberry jam for a sweet treat. When I was in England many years ago as an exchange student, raspberry jam stirred into my porridge was an essential start to the day!

6 - Blueberries: stir 1/4 cup or fresh or frozen blueberries and a splash of milk. I sometimes add a tiny drop of almond extract and a dash of honey for an extra special treat!

7 - Classic Cranberry-Orange: stir in 1/4 cup of cranberries and a splash of oj for a unique breakfast twist! Only have craisins? Cook them along with the oats, just like raisins!

8 - Creamy Banana: I like banana slices in my oatmeal...but I love creamy banana even more! Blend 1/2 banana with a splash of milk so its thick and creamy, and stir into the oatmeal.

9 - Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice: this is more like dessert, but once in a while it makes a nice treat. Stir in brown sugar (to taste) and chopped nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, whatever), add a dollop of heavy cream, and sprinkle with cinnamon.

10 - Tropical Delight: stir in shredded coconut, small pieces of mango and pineapple, and a spoonful of brown sugar.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Spicy Pumpkin Pancakes Recipe

Spicy Pumpkin Pancakes Recipe

1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice (you can use 1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice in place of the cinnamon and allspice)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten


Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Lightly spray a griddle pan with oil OR melt 2 tsp butter on the griddle pan on medium-low heat. Keeping the pan on medium-low heat, heat the pan until a drop of water "dances" and sizzles away. Use a measuring cup or a scoop to drop pancake batter onto the griddle. Cook until the pancake is dry at the edges and there are little bubbles all over the top - then carefully flip over with a large spatula. Continue to cook for another minute or two til the pancake is done.

Serve warm with butter and maple syrup.

I love to make these as silver dollar pancakes for children...drizzle with maple syrup and for an extra special treat drizzle on a little Salted Caramel Sauce as well!

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

NIV God's Word for Gardeners Bible

"Before any garden work begins, there are decisions to be made. Choosing which plants to grow and where to grow them; deciding how to go about meeting their individual needs and assembling them in an overall plan is as inherent to gardening as the hands-on chores using hoes, sprinklers and spades. A wonderful metaphor, the choosing aspect of garden work draws us right into the heart of our relationship with God, for he has chosen each of us. "- God's Word for Gardeners

I have always felt God's presence most keenly in my garden - digging in the soil, sowing seeds, hoping, watching as tender shoots rise up to greet the sun, nurturing, pruning, thinning, harvesting - so when I saw the NIV God's Word for Gardeners Bible, I immediately felt drawn to it and offered to review a copy. I daresay I coveted this particular study Bible!And it did not disappoint.

I received an ebook version a few weeks ago - and I thought I would dive into it, nose around, and dash off a review. WRONG! Instead I was drawn in, compelled to read and reflect - and to read further. The "gardening" writings are structured to be weekly readings, with links to the appropriate Bible verses for deeper reading and insight. The readings are structured into groupings: 12 weeks of Garden Tours (actual gardens in the Bible), 23 weeks of Garden Work (topics of study focused on how one gardens in "real life" - choosing, preparing, planting, watering, pruning, etc), 7 weeks of Garden Tools (prayer, work ethic, humility, etc), and 10 weeks of Garden Stories (seasons, weather, pests, Jesus’ Horticultural Parables, and more). 

The readings are just brief enough to not be overwhelming and just long enough to whet my appetite to dive into the Scripture links. Always thought-provoking, often uplifting - and at times downright convicting - Shelley Cramm took me on a sort of spiritual guided tour of God in His garden, and all the while I was reading and re-reading and thinking and writing note...I was also finding myself inspired, renewed, refreshed. And for that I am grateful.

Author and Gardener Shelley Cramm blogs at Garden in Delight - which grew out of her writings for the NIV God's Word for Gardeners Bible.

NIV God's Word for Gardeners Bible is published by Zondervan. The beautiful hardcover version can be purchased for $34.99 directly from Zondervan, or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or other fine booksellers.

Religion, Christian, Bible; Teen/Adult

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trace Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Pumpkiny Goodness is Delayed Today due to Real Life

Due to a temporary Real Life issue, today's post (Pumpkin Pancakes) will not go up until evening. In the meantime, the grandbaby certainly knows pumpkiny goodness when he sees it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Anti-Oxidant Pumpkin Facial Recipe

When I was a young girl, I had an old book of natural recipes for beauty treatments....anything from cucumbers on the eyes to egg yolk shampoos was covered. And many, many recipes for skin care. I cannot locate the book anymore, but I do remember the fun of experimenting - and pumpkin facials have become quite popular (see here and here and here and here!). This is a simple recipe, rich with anti-oxidants and very nourishing to the skin.

Anti-Oxidant Pumpkin Facial Recipe

1/4 cup pureed pumpkin
2 tsp honey
2 tsp plain yoghurt
dash olive oil


Mix the ingredients well. Apply to clean face (avoid eyes). Allow to set 15-20 minutes. Rinse, using a wet washcloth to help remove the pumpkin and gently exfoliate.

NOTE: I have seen several Pumpkin Facial Recipes online that include ground almonds. For my skin, that would be far too harsh - but feel free to stir in a tsp to your facial if you like scrubs.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Savory Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Savory Pumpkin Soup Recipe

1 pumpkin, roasted
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 cup cream (milk will also work)
Salt and pepper to taste


Gently heat the stock in a soup kettle. Scoop the roasted pumpkin from its shell and add to the stock - be careful to avoid getting any skin. Bring to a gentle simmer, and then add the cream and salt and pepper to taste. If the pumpkin is too chunky or stringy,  use an immersion blender to smooth the puree - or do it the old school way by mashing with a heavy spoon or potato masher.

Serve warm with fresh bread. Add a few toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish if you managed to keep any aside (I rarely do). Savor the goodness!

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Roasting a Pumpkin and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Roasting a pumpkin (or other winter squash is easier than it may seem - and you get delicious toasted pumpkin seeds as an added benefit! For my readers who have never roasted a pumpkin, here are the steps.

Roasting a Pumpkin 

1 - Preheat the oven to 400F. Carefully cut pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and the stringy bits near the seeds (I use a tablespoon to scrape it all out). Save the seeds for making Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (see below).

2a - Put a piece of parchment on your baking sheet and place the pumpkin halves face-down on the baking sheet. This will be heavy and ungainly, so use two hands to move the baking sheet - especially when hot!
2b - Instead of a baking sheet, you can also use a large roasting pan - place the pumpkin halves face-down and then add about 1/2 cup of water, enough to just cover the whole bottom of the pan.

3 - Put the baking sheet with the pumpkin halves into the oven, and roast about 20-30 minutes - the skin will get dark and you can poke the pumpkin to see that it is getting soft.

4 - Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before handling. Flip the pumpkin halves over and use a large spoon to scoop out the roasted flesh for recipes (like Savory Pumpkin Soup). Or mash with a bit of butter and sea salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper for a tasty side dish.

One of the benefits of roasting pumpkins or other winter squash is having the seeds...

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin/squash seeds
1-2 tsp salt


Preheat over to 400F. Clean the seeds well - I like to rinse them under running water in a colander to remove all the bits of pumpkin. Shake them until they are damp, and spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and roast until lightly browned - about 10 minutes - occasionally stirring or shaking the pan to ensure they toast evenly. 

If you have prepared pumpkin or butternut squash and do not have the time to roast the seeds, you can soak them in salty water for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. 

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Weekend Reading, Pumpkiny Goodness Style

I love exploring new sites and blogs - and put together a Pumpkiny Goodness Edition of Weekend Reading for my fellow explorers! Enjoy!

Angela at TeachingMama shares a great Melted Crayon Pumpkin Tutorial

This weekend there is a giant pumpkin weigh-off at the South Jersey Pumpkin Festival - I donlt know about you, but I am fascinated by the idea of 700lb+ pumpkins!

Download a fun, FREE children's short story, The Singing Pumpkin, from Scholastic here.

And have some fun with Pumpkin beverages at Brit + Co.

And now I would like to introduce a few fellow Write 31 Days bloggers:

Ann shares her cookery adventure in 31 Days in the Kitchen

Gina writes about being Imperfectly Domestic

Jess Connolly writes on 31 Days of  Practicing Messy Motherhood

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Spread

Some days you want a sweet little treat without a lot of bother. This Pumpkin Cheesecake Spread gives you all the smooth, creamy deliciousness of pumpkin cheesecake without all the work. 5 ingredients, 1 bowl, 1 step. And delicious spread over a toasted bagel!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Spread
  • 1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbs sugar (or sweetener to taste)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat til smooth and creamy. Pack into a small container or bowl for serving, cover tightly, and chill at least 1 hour before serving. 

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