Garden Bounty

IMG_0583Our little garden continues to grow!  I thought our tomatoes would never get ripe and now suddenly, they are ALL deciding to be ripe.  I’m glad I didn’t put more plants in-I’m the only one that eats tomatoes around here.  I picked those tomatoes and wee eggplants about 2 weeks ago and they were delicious.

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Here’s the tomato crop I’m working with, but I just walked out into the backyard and there’s about 7 more tomatoes I could pick.  I need to start coming up with creative ways to eat tomatoes, although these are pretty perfect with just salt and pepper.

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This monstrosity grew in the garden as well.  I have no clue what kind of squash this is.  It’s a mystery!  I will continue researching to see if I can figure out what kind it is.  All I know is that this is definitely a summer squash because the outside skin is soft, not hard like an acorn or butternut squash.  I ate one a few weeks ago and the inside is soft and has big, white seeds, like a zucchini.  Any squash experts out there?

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We have some yellow crookneck squash growing as well.  More summer squash, since we obviously don’t have enough.  I picked some really fertile plants apparently.

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This is my favorite!  It’s a Jack Be Little pumpkin and it’s so tiny and cute!  I hope it grows to full size before the weather start to get too cold.  I want to set it out on our porch for a little while before we eat it!  It is Autumn here, despite it being almost 80 degrees today.  Can’t complain too much about warm weather though.  I’d take this over snow any day.  Our tree in the front yard thinks it’s time for Fall.  My boots are also waiting to be dusted off and walked through dry leaves again.

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls From Smitten Kitchen

When I was at home, I made pumpkin cinnamon rolls for Saturday breakfast.  You should too, like yesterday.  These are from Deb, at Smitten Kitchen.  The recipe is super easy to make and uses ingredients that your probably already have in your pantry.  Who doesn’t have an extra can of pumpkin after Thanksgiving laying around?

I followed her recipe exactly, except I added lemon juice and zest my my frosting.  They are so perfect.  Very moist and sugary, just like you’d want in a cinnamon roll.  The pumpkin adds a very subtle flavor to these rolls and the cardamon is optional, but you should add it.  It’s addition is totally worth it.

 

Check out the recipe on Smitten Kitchen and make yourself a weekend treat!  My family devoured almost all of these in one sitting, a sure sign that they are delicious.

 

Erhard’s European Cafe and Bakery

Here’s a useful recovery tip on getting yourself to walk faster on a bum foot.  Dress completely inappropriately for the weather so that you’re freezing.  You don’t need that extra layer.  Don’t wear gloves so your hands are icicles.  Also, it’s an added bonus if it rains, forcing you to walk even faster. Recovery at its finest.  My walk this morning did lead me to Erhard’s European Cafe and Bakery, which was a delight.  I have walked by this bakery many, many times and never went in there until this morning.

Steve wanted bagels this morning and I wasn’t so keen, so I wandered into Erhard’s.  Oh my.  The smell alone should be enough to keep you in here and buy something.  Freshly baked treats, pungent espresso and a cute Polish woman behind the counter taking orders truly made me love this place from the second I walked it.  It’s brightly lit, with windows surrounding the entire seating area and the dark red walls make it feel extra cozy in there.

I had a really hard time picking out what I wanted, but I ended up with a strawberry rhubarb muffin and a pumpkin tart.  I was really tempted to get the raspberry tart or some apple strudel, or a giant, fluffy croissant.  It would be totally worth it to get a croissant here, as they probably make their laminated dough in house.  After making laminated dough at school and finding out how much work goes into making a croissant, finding a place that makes their own is a rare treat.

Strawberry rhubarb muffin

 

Bright red muffin!

 

The muffin was much more rich and sweet that the ones I make at home, and for that reason, it was lovely. The streusel topping with powdered sugar made it extra special.  Delicate tender crumb and a hint of rhubarb tartness easily made this one of the best muffins I’ve eaten in a while.  I haven’t dug into the pumpkin tart yet, but expect a full report when I do.

 

We might make it a new Saturday tradition to go here and support this tiny bakery.  Boulder doesn’t have too many bakeries like this one and especially ones that specialize in German/Polish pastries.  I’m off to do some baking of my own.  I feel inspired now!  Happy Saturday!

Layered Nutella Pumpkin Bread

I really like it when baked goods turn out the way I want them to.  I came up with this idea after two days of thinking what to do with my leftover pumpkin.  Usually, when I come up with ideas and get really excited about them, the fail horrifically.  Much like the first time I tried to make gnocchi.  Or the time my sister and cousin and I made a chocolate cake and accidentally put an entire cup of baking soda in it.  But, that’s a story for another time.  I’ll let you imagine what happens to a cake when there is that much baking soda in it.

I’ve seen versions of this loaf swirled with Nutella, but I like the look of the contrasting colors.  When I took the loaf out of the pan, I was pretty disappointed to see that the outside was all one color.  But, when I cut into it, I was rewarded with a pretty layered loaf!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup Nutella

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix together pumpkin, oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining dry ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
  5. Divide the batter into separate bowls.  Mix Nutella into one half.
  6. Spread one batter into a greased loaf pan.  Then drop the second batter on the top. Bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

The Nutella adds a very subtle rich, chocolate flavor that I quite enjoyed.  The warm spices in this loaf pair nicely with the chocolate as well.  This loaf is not one of the faster ones I’ve put together because of the separating of the batter.  It’s worth it to make it though; it’s like a small surprise when you cut into the loaf and there’s two layers of flavor.  Enjoy!

Nearly Vegan Pumpkin Loaf

Here’s another pumpkin recipe for you!  My pumpkin loaf is very nearly vegan because it’s not completely animal free.  Whether or not one chooses to include honey in their diet determines whether this loaf is vegan.  This loaf is dairy free and very tasty.  It has a larger portion of whole wheat flour than most baked goods I bake and it lends the loaf a nutty flavor.  I chose honey as my sweetener for superior taste to sugar and also for the moisture that it would give to the loaf.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons ground flax

6 tablespoons water

1.5 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1.5 teaspoons baking soda

1/5 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup honey

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2.  Mix flax and water together to form “flax eggs.”

3. Mix dry ingredients, flours, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add wet ingredients and stir to combine.

4.  Pour batter into a greased loaf pan.  The batter will be very thick, just run your spatula over the top to smooth it out.  Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

 

Enjoy this spiced seasonal bread with jam or some vegan butter.  I’ve had it for breakfast a few times this week and it makes for a nice change from my usual nut butter and toast or oatmeal.  Let me know if you try it!

 

 

Pumpkin Oats

The Pumpkin Spice Latte is back.  This is not a monumental event for me, as I didn’t notice the signs until an hour after I’d been sitting in Starbucks.  I think I tried one a couple of years ago and remember being highly disappointed with the flavor of it.  It’s also still 85 degrees during the day in Boulder and not Autumn-like at all.  I’m ready for Autumn and for a little pumpkin in my life.  I enjoy it in some foods, but I didn’t run to the store and buy 50 cans of it on September first.  Like I’ve said before, I think it’s the accompanying spices that are paired with pumpkin that I enjoy more than pumpkin itself.

I do like pumpkin oatmeal.  Oatmeal does not keep me full for hours, like some people claim.  Unless I add some fat and some other fillers to my oatmeal, it doesn’t satiate me for too long.  Pumpkin is one filler that I add to increase the fiber.  I won’t pretend that oatmeal mixed with pumpkin tastes like pumpkin pie, even if you add pumpkin pie spice, because it doesn’t.  It doesn’t have copious amounts of sugar mixed in, there’s no delicious, flakey crust and there’s no whipped cream.  These oats are pretty tasty though.

 

In this bowl:

1/2 cup oats

1 cup almond milk

1 teaspoon chia seeds

1/2 banana

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

shakes of cinnamon & nutmeg

peanut butter, maybe 1 tablespoon?

 

Try it out the pumpkin oats, but don’t OD on it.  We’ve still got over a month until Halloween and over two months until Thanksgiving.  Don’t burn out and pass on pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving!

 

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

For one glorious week in Boulder, the weather was perfect. It was only 75 degrees during the day. It got cool at night, making sleeping much more pleasant. I didn’t sweat just walking (rolling?) outside and I even wore a sweater.  I was starting to think of Autumn.  And then we were right back in the 90s this week.  I’m a little sick of having to turn on my air conditioning every time I cook.  Summer is still my favorite season, but I wish Colorado would calm down with the heat already.

Autumn brings a number of things with it, including pumpkin.  I don’t know why pumpkin puts people in such a frenzy, but every year a pumpkin explosion happens around the end of September.  I enjoy pumpkin, but I don’t freak out about it.  There’s other squash I like better, like butternut or spaghetti.  I’m not really into those Starbucks drinks that have pumpkin in them either.  They taste nothing like pumpkin to me and at 4 dollars a pop, I’ll stick to making coffee at home.  I think the cooler weather makes me crave cool weather spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.  They all remind me of Thanksgiving, my most favorite holiday.

So, I made these delightful pumpkin muffins as a vehicle to eat these spices.  I changed a few things in the recipe, but pretty much stayed true to the original.  I subbed 3/4 cup whole wheat flour for some of the all purpose flour, didn’t add the molasses (because I didn’t have any), used almond milk instead of soy milk and added raw pumpkin seeds to the batter.  Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin muffins, extra pumpkin-y muffins.  They turned out great!  They were had a great crumb and were not dry in the slightest.  I refuse to use the word that would describe a non-dry muffin.  You know what word I’m talking about.

The pumpkin seeds added some nice crunch to the muffins.  Next time, I would buy the molasses to add them add more cinnamon and ginger to up the spice level.  I left out the cloves because Steve hates cloves  like no one I’ve ever met.  I made pomanders at Christmas last year and Steve lasted about 3 days before he said he couldn’t handle the smell any more.  No cloves for these muffins.  In conclusion, make these muffins.  It’s super simple and easy to throw together recipe and it will help slowly ease your transition into pumpkin-packed Autumn.