Pumpkin Bites

pumpkin-bites

These little pumpkin bites are so easy to make and store easily for a quick bite or two on the go, or just a little nibble of something when your sweet tooth comes calling.

Yield: 22-24 pcs.

You will need:
2 1/2 cups plain oats
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup pepitas
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup chocolate chips

To make:
1. Line a medium cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper.
2. Put all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir thoroughly until blended well.
3. Mix into 1″ balls (or another size if you prefer).  I use a medium cookie dough scoop to make each of the balls even.
4. Place the pumpkin balls on to the lined cookie sheet and store in the freezer for one hour, or refrigerator for two hours.
5. Remove the cookie sheet from the freezer or refrigerator and put the bites in an air tight container or freezer bag and return to freezer or refrigerator until ready to serve.

Eat chilled (frozen or refrigerated, whichever you prefer).  These will start to lose their shape if sitting at room temperature too long so I do recommend serving & eating these cold.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Butter

Fruit and Pumpkin Butter

This is the time of year when we start to see all the pumpkin spice flavored food products come out in the stores.  As much as I do love and buy some of these products, there is still nothing quite like homemade when it comes to certain things.  For me, pumpkin butter is one of those things.  This homemade pumpkin butter is so easy to make, takes less than 15 minutes to put together and is so much better than any store bought brand I’ve tried.

Prep Time: 15 min
Yield: Three 1-pint jars

You will need:
2 15 oz. cans solid pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 Tbsp unsalted butter (cut into smaller pieces)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves

To make:
1. Set your slow cooker (Crock Pot) on low.
2. Spoon pumpkin from cans into the slow cooker and spread evenly across the bottom.
3. Add sugars, spices, salt, lemon juice & butter.
4. Cook on low and when butter starts to melt, stir all items together until sugars, spices & butter are fully blended.
5. Once you have a well blended mixture, continue to cook on low for 3 hours.  I like to stir it every half hour to avoid it browning on the bottom & sides of the slow cooker.
6. If toward the end of the 3 hours the pumpkin butter is not as thick as you’d like it, you can continue to cook for more time without the slow cooker lid to thicken it up further.  It will also thicken more once refrigerated.

When butter is ready store in an air tight covered container.  I like to use three small 1-pint glass jars, put some ribbon on it and give as a gift.  It can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

Note: If you are tempted to make a large batch and can the pumpkin butter, please note that the USDA & National Center for Home Food Preservation does not recommend canning pumpkin butter.

 

Fall Fruit “Nacho” Plate

 

nacho-plate

This fall “nacho” plate takes just minutes to make and makes a great healthy after school snack or after dinner treat for both kids & adults.

You will need:
1 red apple
1 green pear
2 tsp peanut or almond butter
2 tsp chocolate sauce
1 oz. trail mix or nuts (I used a cranberry, almond & cashew mix)

To make:
1. Slice the apple & pear and arrange as desired on a plate.
2. In a small pinch bowl, melt the peanut or almond butter on low in the microwave for 10-15 seconds and drizzle over the apples & pears.
3. Drizzle the chocolate sauce over the apples & pears.
4. Chop the trail mix into small pieces and sprinkle over the apples & pears.

Serve & enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Pumpkin Pie Spice

If you’re like me, there’s been a time or two where you’ve gone to make a recipe that called for pumpkin pie spice and you either didn’t have any or there just wasn’t enough in that tiny container they sell in the stores.  Making your own pumpkin pie spice at home is super easy and takes just a few minutes using spices you likely already have in your pantry.

You will need:
3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 1/4 tsp ground cloves

To make:
1. Put each of the five ground spices in a small bowl.
2.Using a small whisk or fork, mix all of the spices together until well mixed.

That’s it.  I told you it was super easy!  Store in a small glass container (clean baby food or small jam jar works great) or plastic bag and use as needed.

Butternut Squash “Fries”

Pumpkin Fries

If you like sweet potato fries, these baked butternut squash “fries” are a great alternative with fewer carbs and filled with healthy nutrients.  This recipe could just as easily be applied to sweet potatoes as well.

To make you will need:
1 whole butternut squash
2 tsp olive or avocado oil
salt & pepper

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
2. Peel butternut squash, cut in half length-wise and remove seeds.
3. Cut in half a second time width-wise and then cut into sticks or “fries”, about 1/4″ thick.
4. Place on foil lined baking sheet (you don’t have to use the foil, but I find it makes clean up easier).
5. Spread butternut squash sticks/fries evenly out on pan.
6. Drizzle oil over the squash and use a basting brush to coat sticks/fries evenly.
7. Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste (or you may use cinnamon if you prefer a sweeter taste).
8. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes depending on desired texture.

These are great out of the oven on their own, but if you like a dipping sauce I recommend something a bit sweeter like honey.

Blues & Greens Salad

Blueberry Salad

This simple salad is amazing with a burst of fresh summer blueberry in every bite!  As I’ve noted before in previous posts I tend not to be overly concerned with exact measurements in any kind of salad with greens as the base, but I always like to provide a general guide of what goes into my salads so you can adjust to your own liking & preference based on what you have on hand. The flavor combination of this salad is both sweet & nutty and will not disappoint.

Yield: 4 servings

You will need:
5.5 oz field greens mix
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup chopped bartlett pear
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

I like to leave a little of each ingredient off to the side before tossing the salad. Toss (and add dressing if desired), then top with remaining toppings for presentation on the table. I serve this salad with a sweet poppy seed dressing, but it’s also great tossed with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar or another dressing that’s a little bit on the sweeter side like a raspberry vinaigrette.

Pumpkin Spice Zucchini Muffins

Pumpkin Spice Zucchini Muffins

It’s that time of year when zucchini is in full abundance.  Yay!  I love zucchini and there are so many different ways I use them during the summer months.  Yesterday I had a couple sitting on my counter left over from last week, conveniently had all the essentials for baking and some time to spare so I whipped these muffins up.  They let me enjoy one of my favorite summer veggies while also serving as a reminder that my favorite time of year is not too far off.

Yield: 24 muffins

To make, you will need:
2 1/2 cups grated zucchini (I used a blend of zucchini & yellow squash or “golden zucchini”)
3 cups white flour
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 15 oz. can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix, just pumpkin)
4 eggs

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Line 2 standard 12-slot muffin pans with cupcake/muffin liners.
3. Over a clean kitchen towel you don’t mind getting wet or even stained, grate the zucchini and then wrap the zucchini with the towel so it forms a ball.  Wring out all of the water in the zucchini over the sink.  I did this in two batches instead of one so it let me get more of the water out.  Leave grated zucchini in a small bowl off to the side.
4. In a medium mixing bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together well (flour, brown sugar, white sugar, pumpkin spice, baking soda & salt) and set off to the side.
5. In a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs, vanilla & pumpkin together and then add in the melted butter.
6. Slowly blend the dry mixture into the pumpkin mixture.  I add about 1/2 cup at a time until it’s all blended.
7. Fold in the grated zucchini.  You will want to use a spoon or spatula for this step instead of your mixer so that the zucchini stays in tact.
8. Scoop/Spoon the batter into the lined muffin pan.  I used a large cookie dough scoop.
9. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes and pull from oven when a toothpick comes out clean.
10. Cool completely before serving.  You will be tempted to try a muffin right away, but this is one recipe that really needs to sit & cool first.  If they aren’t fully cooled off they will not peel from the liners easily.  Trust me, they are worth the wait!

These are great on their own, but you can spread a little butter on them if you desire.

Note: Do not skip wringing the water out of the zucchini.  This is an important step in ensuring the batter cooks through and the muffins don’t come out soggy.

 

“GO TEAM USA!” Fruit Salad

Team USA Salad

I am so excited for the Olympics this summer!  I’m much more of a summer Olympics fan than a winter Olympics fan and can’t wait to watch the opening ceremonies in just a few weeks.  In the meantime I’m following the Team USA coverage on their Facebook page.

This past week I was challenged to try a fruit or vegetable I’ve never tried before.  While walking through the produce section there wasn’t much I hadn’t tried, but then I came upon the dragon fruit.  Bingo!  Not sure what to do with it I simply peeled back the pink skin like a banana and inside found the round white fruit with little seeds.  I liked it, but I’ll admit I did not love it as a stand-alone fruit choice and prefer it paired with something else.  So I got creative and sliced it up, got out my little star cookie cutter from Pampered Chef and just like that I had my “GO TEAM USA” fruit salad, which I’m sure will also now become my Memorial Day & 4th of July fruit salad as well.

Yield: 2-3 servings (adjust as needed depending on number of desired servings)

To make, you will need:
2 cups fresh strawberries, halved
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 dragon fruit, skin peeled and sliced about 1/4″

Directions:
1. Mix strawberries & blueberries together in medium bowl.
2. Using a mini-star cookie cutter, cut the dragon fruit slices into stars.
3. Top the berries with the dragon fruit stars.

Notes:
If you don’t have a star cookie cutter, you can just slice the dragon fruit rounds into halves or quarters.

Mediterranean Pita Dip

IMG_0213

The best way to guarantee at least one healthy option at this weekend’s holiday picnic is to bring one.  I typically make my layered taco dip for the 4th of July celebrations every year.  It’s loaded with sour cream, cream cheese, cheese & other toppings and it is delicious. This year though I’m focused on more healthy options and made this Mediterranean layered dip instead.  Similar concept, but such a better alternative and there is so much flavor!

You will need:
1 1/2 cups hummus
1/2 cup chopped seeded cucumber
1/2 cup chopped red tomato
1/3 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup black sliced olives
1/4 cup sliced artichoke hearts

To make:
1. Spread hummus evenly across a platter (I used a standard dinner plate size platter).
2. Top hummus evenly with chopped cucumber, red onion, tomato, olives, artichokes & feta cheese.
3. Serve with plain pita chips, sliced fresh pita bread, corn chips or bagel chips (I serve with plain pita chips).

Happy 4th of July!

Watermelon Salsa

IMG_0206

With temps hitting the 90’s yesterday, it’s safe to say that summer has officially arrived in Western New York.  As a result this watermelon salsa may or may not have turned into Sunday’s dinner.  So easy, light & refreshing!  To make, I used:

4 cups chopped seedless watermelon
1 pint blueberries
1 cup seeded cucumber chopped (peeled skin first)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice (juice of about 1 lime)

Toss gently.  You can serve alone as a side or salad, or with tortilla chips (I used Key Lime tortilla chips from Late July).