Just Eat It: Pumpkin Coffee Cake

The other day, I used Sally’s Baking Addiction’s wonderfully delicious Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, and as per usual, they did not disappoint. Even my mom, who is a pumpkin hater, enjoyed one. The only problem with making something that calls for pumpkin puree is that if it doesn’t call for the entire can, and you’re dangerously close to grocery shopping day and therefore without foil to cover it, it gets gross after a couple days.

So after looking up pumpkin muffins and realizing I didn’t have cream cheese (again, dangerously close) and realizing I didn’t have a doughnut pan for pumpkin doughnuts or buttermilk for pumpkin doughnut muffins, I landed on a recipe I’ve used before and loved – Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake from Joyful Healthy Eats. Her photos and step-by-step directions make it easy to follow early in the morning and before coffee.

Photo Credit: Krista / Joyful Healthy Eats

Photo Credit: Krista / Joyful Healthy Eats

And if you happen to have all the ingredients like I did (well, I had almost all of them), it’s free to make. And even if you have to pick up a couple, you’re still paying less for just one slice at any bakery or coffee shop. Here are the ingredients:

  • 2½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • ¾ cup of sugar
  • ¾ cup of canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin spice seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • ¾ cup of milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup of pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup of finely chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

You can click on the photo I posted above or here for the full recipe. The only change I made is that I didn’t have pecans and I was feeling adventurous, so I used the little remainder of walnuts I had and filled the rest of the cup with pumpkin granola. I was a little nervous about how the substitution would turn out, but I really like it!

One little square filled me up enough but didn’t make me feel too full and it had just enough spice to not overwhelm people who may not enjoy pumpkin as much as I/you do. This is actually the only pumpkin recipe I can get the majority of my family to eat, especially after the pumpkin explosion that happened last year.

SONY DSC

My rendition. Looks a little sloppier but tastes gooood!

What are you baking? Is it a recipe shared from your family, something you created or something you found in a cookbook/blog? Share in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

I’d Can That: A Canning Roundup

I'd Can That Roundup

Mason Jar Clipart from Creative Market / Click the photo for the link

Last year was the first year I ever attempted canning. It was actually the first year I ever thought about canning. My boyfriend got me a canner for my birthday (because these are the gift ideas I have nowadays) and a couple weeks before Christmas, I started canning like crazy, making apple and pumpkin butters for my family. That was the problem. I started way too late and became super stressed about the whole thing.

So, this year, I’m going to start a little earlier – making it a little more relaxing and enjoyable, and hopefully giving me time to try a couple new recipes. Luckily, canning recipes have been flooding all the proper social media channels, so there are plenty to choose from. I’m going to share some of my favorites today, in case you are also hoping to get a jump start on canning!

Photo Credit: Aubri / See Kate Sew

Pumpkin Butter / Photo Credit: Aubri / See Kate Sew

Of course I had to start with my favorite – PUMPKIN BUTTER!

I used this recipe from See Kate Sew last year and everyone loved it.

Photo Credit: Jackie / The Beeroness

Stout & Sriracha BBQ Sauce / Photo Credit: Jackie / The Beeroness

I know there are BBQ sauce connoisseurs and I’ll go ahead and tell you that I’m not one of them. However, I do love me a good stout and this Stout & Sriracha BBQ Sauce recipe from The Beeroness looks delicious!

Photo Credit: Annalise / Completely Delicious

Tomato-Basil Marinara / Photo Credit: Annalise / Completely Delicious

Ah, yes. The good ol’ marinara sauce.

This recipe from Completely Delicious is perfect because pretty much everyone uses marinara. I’ve always been a pesto fan, but my boyfriend likes marinara and so I’ll make a creamy marinara which is always yummy. Annalise made this recipe as part of a Canning Week link-up, which is definitely worth checking out.

Photo Credit: Becky / The Vintage Mixer

Maple Apricot Jam / Photo Credit: Becky / The Vintage Mixer

I can already imagine this Maple Apricot Jam from The Vintage Mixer spread atop a piece of freshly toasted bread

Raspberry Jalapeno Jam / Photo Credit: Leela / Rosemarried

Raspberry Jalapeno Jam / Photo Credit: Leela / Rosemarried

I adore jalapeno jam, and this Raspberry Jalapeno Jam from Rosemarried is the perfect twist on that

I can see putting this on top of my bagel and cream cheese in the morning!

Do you love canning? What are some of your favorite canning recipes? Share them in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest! Stay thrifty, my friends.

Yo Momma Monday: Tiffany McCauley of The Gracious Pantry

yo momma mondayAfter I had Cecilia, I got really interested in clean eating and living a clean lifestyle and one of my biggest inspirations was The Gracious Pantry. Tiffany’s recipes were simple, easy to follow, I didn’t have to search endlessly in a health food store for the ingredients and best of all – they were good! I was even able to trick my boyfriend into eating healthy. I learned about cooking from scratch from her website, and it forced me to slow down a little in the kitchen.

This is why I’m so happy to feature Tiffany in this week’s Yo Momma Monday!

Tiffany, 40, lives in Sonoma County with her son, whom she lovingly calls “Mini Chef” in her Facebook posts and recipes. She became a stay-at-home-mom soon after she found out she was pregnant, as her difficult pregnancy did not allow her to work much. She and her then husband had already planned on raising their son on their own, so that pretty much sealed the deal.

“The balancing act is always something I struggle with. The truth is, if you are giving your full attention to work, you will be lacking something in your mothering. And if you give your full attention to mothering, you will be lacking something in your work. So it really is a juggling act.

I think the most important thing you can do is forgive yourself for coming up short every once in a while. While most moms like to think they can do it all, it just isn’t humanly possible to actually do it all. So you have to focus on doing your best and forgiving the rest.”

Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Tiffany is a self-taught cook who says the most valuable lesson she could pass down to a beginning cook is that burning your dinner is not the end of the world. She assures that just because you burned it one time doesn’t mean you’ll burn it again. “You can’t give up because of one mistake,” she says.

“I also learned that when you start out with making a casserole and end up with soup, you don’t throw it away, you have soup for dinner! Cooking is a very creative thing. It’s an ongoing experiment. Evolve with the food you make instead of trying to make the food conform. You never know, you might end up with a new family favorite!”

Now that she is comfortable in the kitchen, she heavily involves her son in cooking, and says that she never questioned whether or not he would cook.

“And I think that is the very reason he loves doing it. It’s not a matter of teaching your kids something they already like, it’s a matter of teaching them to like something they absolutely must do to survive. Showing them that cooking can be fun. After all, the memories made in the kitchen just can’t be made anywhere else.

It’s really just a process of getting your kids involved with the everyday functioning of your life. They are definitely their own people, but when you function as a family unit, everyone needs to contribute in some way. Making time in the kitchen a regular thing is important. And I have found that most kids naturally gravitate towards cooking. They love learning about food and how to prepare it. It’s usually a naturally fun thing for them to do. You just have to present it the right way, and set things up so it’s not intimidating for them. 
 
For my little guy, that involved a stepping stool so he could reach the counter, an age-appropriate knife with careful supervision, and apron that was just for him, and even a special pig spatula that he got to pick out at the store himself. When you set kids up to succeed in the kitchen, you’ll find very little, if any, resistance.”
 
Kid-Friendly YoNuggets

Kid-Friendly YoNuggets / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Tiffany realizes the importance of teaching kids how to cook, and she says our society has become incredibly removed  from the very thing that sustains us.
 
“I’m finding that many grown adults these days were raised on boxed and packaged food from a freezer or on food that came through a drive-thru window. I know kids today who get three meals a day from a fast food restaurant. It’s a sad state of affairs. But that doesn’t mean we can’t fix it.

 
I think that teaching kids about food is the most important gift we can give them. Because it not only empowers them to feed themselves and their own families some day, but it also gives them power over their own health. Anybody who has health problems can tell you how important that is. Particularly when the life expectancy of our children is now getting shorter instead of longer. All you have to do is step back and take a look at the bigger picture where the health of our country is concerned to see why teaching our kids about real food is so critical.
 
Gone are the days when we could “trust” a large food corporation. And I would argue that those days never really existed. Because if you really dive into food politics at all, you’ll see that the stuff they label as “food” is actually very far from it. Our bodies were meant to run on food. Not food-like products. So it’s easy to see why health can go downhill so fast when you are not giving your body the fuel it needs.”
 
Tiffany talks a lot in her blog about how she dealt with body image problems through much of her life, something she learned from her mother. She says that the hardest thing is to not pass those problems down to her own child.
 
Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

“It’s a constant struggle and sometime I fail miserably. When you have been raised to view your body a certain way, it’s a very difficult thing to change. Sometimes it feels impossible. I don’t think I’ll ever really get past it completely, but I am learning to respect my body for the things it does every day and appreciate it for what it can do.
 
I mean, this body of mine made an entire human being. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me!! But I do still struggle with body image. It’s not an easy thing to overcome, no matter how much I try to show it respect. I think becoming a mom has simply made me far more aware of how badly I can put myself down sometimes. Not wanting to pass that on to my child has been a huge motivation for me to overcome this.”
 
For Tiffany, the biggest change she noticed after adapting clean eating to her lifestyle was how clear her skin was.
 
“I also lost some weight and started to feel much better. I noticed I actually felt full after a meal instead of wanting more and more food. I later understood that it was because my body was actually getting the nutrients it needed. I chose this lifestyle because I believe that real food is the answer to many problems we face today. My own personal eating plan is constantly evolving to suit my needs, but it’s always based on real food.”
 
Clean Eating Blueberry French Toast Casserole. Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Clean Eating Blueberry French Toast Casserole / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Before The Gracious Pantry, she had several other blogs, so she know she loved the blogging process. With this site, she wanted to track her own progress and share recipes she created.
 
“The best part about the blogging community is how small it really is. There may be a million blogs out there, but the community itself has sort of a “small town” feel to it. Once you start to grow, you get to know everybody and everybody gets to know you.”
 
Since starting The Gracious Pantry, Tiffany has also wrote a cookbook, which she says was a long and difficult process, but one that is filled with creativity and passion, one she equates with giving birth.
 
“You work really hard, sweat some, cry some, spend a lot of money, and in the end, you have this wonderful, amazing thing you can hold in your hands. You forget all about the difficult stuff and can’t wait to do it again! And at the end of the day, you are doing something you love and something you hope that others will love as well.”
 
Clean Eating Vegetable Basil Macaroni Salad. Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Clean Eating Vegetable Basil Macaroni Salad / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

She posts every other day without fail, because she wants to show people the endless variety of dishes they can make with real food. She wants people to learn that real food is delicious and to not be afraid of the kitchen. She also hopes people will learn that their health really will improve when they focus on real food and that cooking food does not have to take a lot of time, or money.
 
“The best compliments I get are the ones where people tell me that their lives/health/bodies have improved since they started cooking with my recipes. I think that sort of compliment is the most validating thing a health blogger could ever ask for.”
 
Her favorite recipe on her blog is the plum torte, and while she never posts a recipe that she does not like, she has had some fails – like a low carb brownie recipe that she is still working on. As for her favorite blogs and magazines, she likes iBlog Magazine and Will Write for Food.
 
“I tend to gravitate towards the blogs with the magazine quality photos. Really great photos are something I aspire to.”
 
Plum Torte / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious  Pantry

Plum Torte / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Now that Tiffany is in culinary school, she would like to host a cooking show in the future and to continue writing more books. “I’d also love to start teaching healthy cooking classes to kids. I’ve taught one or two and they are just so much fun,” she says. Her biggest advice for people who are beginning a clean eating lifestyle is simple: take it slow.
 
“Take it one meal at a time. Realize you WILL make mistakes. But the secret in success is using those mistakes. If you throw in the towel every time you goof up, you’ll never stick to anything. Using those mistakes to learn. A mistake isn’t the end of the world and it shouldn’t be the end of your healthy endeavors. Just keep at it. Success is found in perseverance. Come back to it again and again, no matter how badly you mess up.”
 
You can find out more about Tiffany and her recipes by visiting The Gracious Pantry. And for all you awesome moms out there, I still have two spaces left for a Yo Momma Monday feature so drop me a comment and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Thrifty Thursdays: A Recipe

A couple days ago, one of my really good friends Allie came up for a visit from San Francisco. She’s gearing up for a semester in Thailand in August and this just might be one of the last times I see her before she leaves. We planned on hitting downtown Roseville for a few hours but when it came down to it, we really just went to Target and Sprouts to get stuff for dinner. I’m pretty sure I ruined Sprouts forever for Allie, but it was worth the trip.

We had Mahi Mahi tacos for dinner and they were delicious! Typically I’m not a huge fish fan, I usually just like salmon or if I do have tuna, I like it fried in tempura batter and rolled up all pretty for me in a delicious sushi roll. But they were really good! We had toppings like chopped up tomatoes, pineapple, jalapeno and bell pepper, sliced avocado, shredded cabbage and lemon. It was set up like a taco bar and we served ourselves.

After dinner was over, there were still a lot of toppings leftover so I decided to make a pineapple salsa out of it. And it turned out so surprisingly delicious and refreshing, I decided to share the recipe with you guys! I don’t have all the ingredients measured out as they were just what was left over, but the cool thing about salsa is that it’s pretty forgiving, so you don’t need exact measurements and you can add or extract what you want.

IMG_2313PINEAPPLE CILANTRO SALSA

  • Chopped pineapple
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped bell pepper
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Chopped jalapeno
  • Sliced avocado
  • Squirt of lime for preservation

I just threw all the ingredients into the blender and hoped for the best! Mine turned out a little thick and chunky, which is perfect because that’s how I like my salsa. You can blend it more or less, depending on how you like your salsa. It’s a crisp and refreshing, and there’s some spice from the jalapeno and some sweet from the pineapple. Perfect for the summer!

I enjoyed it so much, I put it on my black bean tacos and used it as a dip for my chips the next day. Yeah, tacos are big around here.

IMG_2315

 

Still trying to grasp food photography, obviously. This was just a quickie I snapped while trying to fend the dog and baby off my food.

Do you have a favorite salsa recipe to share? Did you give this one a try? Post in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Stay thrifty, my friends.

My Healthy Life: Banana-Blueberry Chocolate Shake Recipe

Any time I hear the words “healthy shake,” I cringe just thinking about the existence of protein powder in the drink. Protein powder is fine if that’s what you’re into, but why do you have to mess up a perfectly delightful beverage with it! So, when I saw that Laura from A Beautiful Mess posted a new healthy chocolate shake recipe, I was a little hesitant.

Photo from A Beautiful Mess

Photo from A Beautiful Mess

As it turns out, this chocolate shake had no sign of protein powder anywhere, and it was indeed – as described – healthy and delicious! I had a hankering for chocolate and knew that this was probably a better choice for me than the Girl Scout cookies I had been devouring for the last couple weeks.

I decided to add blueberries to mine, and since I was making it for someone else too (promise), I increased the portions.

  • 1 frozen, ripe banana 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cacao powder 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (crunchy or smooth) 2 tablespoons peanut butter (it’s what I had)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk 2/3 cup coconut milk (again, what I had)
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

I used my ghetto blender and for once – it didn’t threaten to blow up! I just blended for about two minutes until it was nice and smooth, and voila!

This banana blueberry chocolate shake was delicious. And healthy. And delicious.

This banana blueberry chocolate shake was delicious. And healthy. And delicious.

Since I used up the last of my peanut butter in recipe and I LOVE me some peanut butter, it’s the perfect time to make my own!

Do you have any recipes that are delicious and surprisingly healthy? Did you try this recipe? Share your link in the comments and on social media!

Recipe Remix: Caramel Oatmeal Chewies

A couple weekends ago, I went to my very first estate sale. While there, I scored five cookbooks for $1.00. The deal was really 20 books for a $1 but since I wasn’t about to walk into my house with 20 books, I stuck with five. One of the books was a Betty Crocker Cookbook from the 70’s. Inside, there was a recipe printout for Caramel Oatmeal Chewies.

IMG_0197

I had never made this recipe before, and I wanted to give it a try. I decided to switch up the ingredients a little to come up with a “clean-er” version, and I wanted to share the recipe with you.

  • 1 3/4 c Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked) (I used oats from Trader Joe’s, but any will do)
  • 1 1/2 c Whole Wheat Flour (I didn’t have enough WW all-purpose flour, so I mixed in WW pastry flour)
  • 3/4 c + 2 tbl Honey
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 3/4 c Pumpkin
  • 1 c Chopped Walnuts (The recipe called for pecans, but I only had walnuts so I used those)
  • 1 c Dark Chocolate Chips
  • Unsweetened caramel topping  (It called for a cup, but I just drizzled a little

Heat oven to 350° F. Spray 13×9 in. baking pan (I ended up using a much smaller one) with olive oil or coconut oil spray (veggie oil spray also works, of course). Combine oats, flour and baking soda. Mix well. Stir in pumpkin and honey. Mix until all blended. Reserve one cup of mixture and spread the rest in the baking pan. Bake 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Cool 10 minutes.

Top with chocolate chips and walnuts. Mix the caramel and 1 tbl flour until smooth. Drizzle that on top and then spread the remaining mixture. Bake an additional 18-22 minutes (I baked mine for 20 minutes). Let cool until it sets. Cut the bars before they get too cold.

IMG_0205

So, there it is. My very first recipe remix! They turned out really super delicious! I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I plan to do many more recipe remixes in the future. I’m going to start with that Betty Crocker cookbook. I used The Gracious Pantry to figure out how much to use for my substitutions/conversions, so if you also want to find out how to substitute healthy ingredients, check her out! If there is a recipe you want me to remix, let me know in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter! You can check out my pictures of this deliciousness on Instagram and see more recipe remix inspiration on my Pinterest.

This Week at the Weekly Treat

weekly treat

Back when I could eat donuts whenever I felt like it, I would love the maple sprinkled donuts. You couldn’t find them at every shop in town, but when you did, it made your heart soar. Well, at least mine did. When I was a little older and classier, I ditched the sprinkles and just stuck to maple bars. It’s been a while since I hit up a donut shop, but I still love a good maple recipe. Here are some worth trying out:

Image belongs to food plus words

Image belongs to food plus words

Baked pumpkin autumn maple donuts from food plus words

Image belongs to Hot Polka Dot

Image belongs to Hot Polka Dot

Maple Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread from Hot Polka Dot

Image belongs to Two Peas and their Pod

Image belongs to Two Peas and their Pod

Mini Chocolate Chip Maple Pancake Cupcakes from Two Peas and their Pod

Image belongs Annie's Noms

Image belongs Annie’s Noms

Mini Maple Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins from Annie’s Noms

Image belongs to Lauren's Latest

Image belongs to Lauren’s Latest

Pumkin Maple Rolls from Lauren’s Latest

And if you’re in the mood for something healthier….

Image belongs to Opera Girl Cooks

Image belongs to Opera Girl Cooks

Pumpkin Scones with Maple Spice Glaze from Opera Girl Cooks

I hope you enjoy these maple recipes, and I hope that you take a few moments to check out all of these blogs. I do my very best to only get recipes from food bloggers, and I try to steer away from the big companies as much as possible. There are so many awesome food bloggers out there that spend hours planning their recipes, and even more time making sure every crumb is in the right place for their photos.

If you are a blogger and have some recipes you would like to share, please post in the comments and share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I will be sure to check out your blog/website and share any recipes that work well with what I’m writing. I’m also up for any ideas you have for future weekly treats. Just let me know! I don’t post every recipe I find, so if you are looking for more Weekly Treat recipes, check out my Pinterest.