Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Before we get to the holiday baking, I thought I would take full advantage of all the pumpkins and make some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I bake cookies every week for my husband’s lunch and use Martha Stewart’s Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe. The recipe for the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies is from Delish.com and they are/were delish. At the present time, they are almost gone—just two left for the hubby’s lunch through Friday! Hence why no picture, but I do have a lovely photo of my Martha Stewart Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies on my IG feed.

The last few weeks of autumn have been busy as usual. There is always a lot of planning of my time. Thankfully my health has been great though I cannot say the same for my husband. Every year he gets allergies from ragweed–which is what we thought he had six weeks ago. Turns out he had something like a bad allergy, but not quite the flu, and it has really held on. It really is impossible not to get sick when your co-workers come to work full of sick. He has now been given a large bottle of sanitizer and a can of Lysol because neither one of us want him sick for his vacation–he takes 10 days every November and a week in December and that’s all the time he takes off from work–no sick or personal days in over 20 years. We’ve got a lot planned for his vacation time. This year we are going to be having an old-fashioned Christmas which I will be blogging about soon. I will also be blogging what products I use to stay healthy and keep a strong immune system going. Until then enjoy your family, Thanksgiving week and weekend if you celebrate it, and be well.

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Perfect Pumpkin

Now while pumpkins are plentiful is the time to start buying and baking–because pumpkin has so many health benefits not known to the general public.

About 10 years ago now my husband and I were in the middle of trying to adopt a greyhound. Our love and desire to have a greyhound become part of our family was huge. After most tracks in this country stopped racing greyhounds, local agencies formed to help people/families adopt the retired greyhounds. The one we were trying to get had really bad teeth (potential of hundreds of dollars of care) and she also had problems with her stomach also due to the poor diet given to racing dogs. Time and again at meetings we heard stories of how the foster families and forever families were always using pumpkin with their greyhounds. Pumpkin will bulk up their stool, settle their tummies, and boost nutrition. Unfortunately, because of where we were living at the time, which lacked the appropriate space for this particular greyhound, we did not adopt her.

I’ve never forgotten how much I learned about pumpkin–here’s what I know:

  • It’s rich in vitamin A
  • One cup of cooked pumpkin is 49 calories
  • High in antioxidants that may reduce your risk of chronic disease
  • It’s high in beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C–boosts immunity
  • The nutrients in pumpkin are good for your eyesight
  • Nutrient dense, low calorie, may produce weight loss
  • Antioxidants lower risk of cancer
  • Is packed with fiber
  • Promotes healthy skin
  • Versatile foodstuff that you can add to anything–wraps, salads(cooked) veggies, stews, soups and more

Some people may not know this but pumpkins are a type of squash. Pumpkins and squash belong to the same family called Cucurbitaceae.  Every year I bake up two dozen squash and pumpkin, then let cool, place in freezer bags and freeze. We then are able to eat squash every single month, almost, until the next year’s season. If one or both of us is feeling ill I will make up a pumpkin risotto. Pumpkin risotto does the trick every time. Here is the recipe–Pumpkin Risotto

I also roast all my pumpkin seeds for snacks and to add to bird food.

When you’re done with your pumpkins instead of throwing them into the garbage, where they’ll just clutter up a landfill, choose to break them up and set them out in a place where the birds and other small animals can get to them.

As we head into the season of sickness I would also like to add this article that has natural health remedies such as pumpkin, ginger, rice, and sweet potatoes that help manage diarrhea, nausea, and flu-like symptoms.

Until next time– stay healthy and happy!

The Beginner’s KetoDiet Cookbook by Martina Šlajerová– a book review

I would venture a guess that everyone on Planet Earth has heard about the Keto diet. I follow at least 50 people who have tried it this year. Often to me anyway, the diet seems complicated and in the back of my mind, I’ve always got several questions about what it all means, and how successful any one of them have been on it.

Until I reviewed The Beginner’s KetoDiet Cookbook by Martina Šlajerová. Here is the review I recently posted–

The Beginner’s KetoDiet Cookbook is an informational cookbook that thoroughly explains the science behind the Keto diet and with that offers easy to follow recipes, with easy to understand instructions, and fairly easy to obtain ingredients. I enjoyed the informative parts early on in the book and loved the easy to understand charts. I would describe this book as being one of the most user-friendly cookbooks out there for those interested in trying the Keto diet. I tried several of the recipes with my favorite chapter being soups and salads. I also loved the garlic and herb focaccia and brie egg muffins. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is planning to try the Keto diet. In The Beginner’s KetoDiet Cookbook you will find food swaps, substitutes, carb counters, instructional information, a Keto staple grocery list, tips for success, recipes and so much more.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher Fair Winds Press for giving me the opportunity to review The Beginner’s KetoDiet Cookbook by Martina Šlajerová.

10 Book ReviewsReviews PublishedProfessional Reader

My Top Five Essential Oils –and why?

What are essential oils?

A-essential oils are compounds extracted/obtained from plants via distillation.

What is distillation?

A- distillation is the action of purifying something through heating and cooling or the extraction of the essential meaning or most important aspects of something.

I’ve been using essential oils for a very long time. I bought my first essential oil a long time before essential oils became a billion-dollar business. My first essential oil was rose oil and I used to use it diluted partially with water as a face mist. My second essential oil was orange blossom oil and I used to steam it and/or put it and a bit of water in a pot on the stove and call it aromatherapy. The year was 1985 and I was experimenting with plants and oils and aromatherapy. Both of these oils worked wonders. To this day I still use them the same way I used them 33 years ago only now instead of steaming them or boiling them in water,  I use them in diffusers.

Time and money constraints keep me from buying every single oil I hear someone rave about. I don’t have the time to look into every recommendation or use, and I don’t have the money to waste trying every single oil to see if it works for me like it worked for someone else. That said there are five essential oils that I have used for a long time and would never be without. They are–

  1. Lavender essential oil- my husband uses this to fall into a deeper sleep at night and by using it and falling into a deeper sleep he is better rested and snores way less.
  2. Copaiba- helps me to manage pain caused by arthritis.
  3. Frankincense- Frank loves the skin and I use Frank on my skin.
  4. Lemon Balm- I use Lemon balm to help me manage PMS, inflammation, and upset stomach.
  5. Bergamot- this oil is so good–smells wonderful and mixed with mandarin orange is the perfect cologne.

**I use fractionated coconut oil as a base to apply all the essential oils listed above to my skin**

Recipes for my five favorite oils:

I put 10-15 drops of lavender in a roller ball and fill with coconut carrier oil. I roll this oil on my husband’s big toe (underside) every night and roll a bit on his pillow an hour before bed.

I mix bergamot with orange oil and use as a cologne. I put 10 drops of bergamot with 10 drops of mandarin orange oil in a roller ball and fill the rest of roller ball with coconut carrier oil.

I use copaiba and fractionated coconut oil in a roller ball and massage this mixture into my feet. I use 2-4 drops of copaiba and the rest fractionated coconut oil in a roller ball.

I use frankincense on my skin. I put 10 drops of frankincense in a roller ball and fill the rest with coconut oil and use on my face, neck, and hands. I also use frank on cuts and burns. Lavender is good for burns as well.

Recently I purchased a Lemon Balm hydrosol online from someone I follow and buy tomato seeds from (yougrowgirl on Instagram). I use lemon balm to help me manage PMS, tummy issues, and inflammation. With the hydrosol (yougrowgirl handcrafts her herb waters herself) I can add to water, or spray on the area of skin that has issues. So as far as Lemon Balm goes I am going to continue to buy it in hydrosol form vs. oil from here on out. I love that the hydrosol I purchased is user-friendly and so pure smelling that it’s unreal. The benefits I get from using it seems to come faster using the hydrosol vs. the essential oil.

Disclaimer- everyone that uses and sells oils or knows someone that does has a different opinion about them and may or may not use them differently than I do. In the section, prior to the recipes, I listed what my five favorite oils are used for in my family. You may or may not have the same experience as I do. I’ve been using these five oils and the rose and orange oil for a long time.  Aside from these oils, I do not use any other essential oils. I purchase my oils from a couple of companies online finding good quality oils at both companies.  Please consult your physician before trying anything new.

Buddha Bowls by Kelli Foster–a book review

One of my favorite cookbooks this summer has been Buddha Bowls by Kelli Foster. Here is a current book review I completed on this fabulous cookbook–

I’ve been looking for a cookbook like Buddha Bowls by Kelli Foster for a long time. I needed recipes with pictures, easy instructions, fairly easy ingredients to obtain, and fairly quick and painless preparation. Buddha Bowls has it all and then some. Every time I fix a meal from this cookbook I am asked for the recipe. Out of all the cookbooks I own and have cooked from this cookbook has had the most compliments. Most of the dressings are now my go-to dressings, and whenever I need a power lunch or a meal with perfect presentation and taste–Buddha Bowls by Kelli Foster is my go-to cookbook.

 

 

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher for an honest review.

Professional Reader

10 Book Reviews

 

Homemade Biscuits – an urban homesteader treat

A dream come true– I’ve just made homemade biscuits from scratch!

For years and years, I’ve been buying

and to be perfectly honest we’ve never been happy with them.

So today I followed a recipe by @colonialmilling

Combine in a bowl: 2 c All Purpose Flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp salt. Cut in 6 tbsp cold butter. The butter should be about pea sized when you’re finished. (use a fork or your hands) Pour in 1 cup buttermilk and mix just until it comes together. It will be very crumbly. Flatten the dough on a floured surface then fold it over on itself. Do this 3-4 times. (this makes them flaky) Cut your biscuits and bake 450-degree oven 15 min or so or until golden brown.

Total prep time- 10 min. Total bake time 15 minutes. These could also be baked in a cast iron pan. I used a cookie sheet. My first 6 weren’t as tall as my last 6 because I flattened my dough too much with my first batch. I tasted one almost right out of the oven–absolute heaven. I used organic flour, aluminum free baking soda, salt, organic butter, and organic buttermilk plus the slat and baking powder. I was able to get 12 biscuits vs. the standard 5-8 we got in the Pillsbury cans. I usually pay just a bit over $2.20 for the Pillsbury.  The total cost for a dozen organic homemade biscuits is-salt on hand, soda on hand, powder on hand, 2 cups of flour cost less than .50 cents a cup, buttermilk .35 and butter (6 tbsp).75 = total cost of approx. $1.80

Tonight’s meal- sausage patties and eggs on homemade biscuits!

Up Next- Endocrine Disruptors–what are they? and what can you do about them?

A Very Cranberry Christmas

Cranberries are definitely not just for Thanksgiving. Cranberries work perfectly paired with ham, duck, and turkey at Christmas time too.

Last Christmas I made an Orange Cranberry Bread w/ Honey from a recipe here that was a hit.  It worked great to serve it Christmas morning, and by Christmas dinner, it was ALL gone.

Every year I watch two Christmas movies from the show Little House on the Prairie–A Merry Ingalls Christmas and then the past three years I’ve made one homemade ornament or decoration inspired by these heartwarming shows. The first year we made a silver star out of aluminum foil like the one Carrie buys for a penny at the mercantile. The second year my husband made this paper garland–

this year we are making a cranberry garland like this one over at Ocean Spray only we’re skipping the popcorn.

At Thanksgiving time I don’t make cranberry sauce, I make a cranberry relish instead. I use a recipe by Tyler Florence that works great and goes well with turkey, ham, or duck. I also use it to spread like butter over bread with leftover ham or turkey for sandwiches.

So, that’s my story about my love for cranberries at Christmas time. Making homemade ornaments for Christmas is a way to incorporate something simple, yet cherished, into your holiday making. Cranberries though traditionally served at Thanksgiving look marvelous and taste great when added to bread, relish, even salsa.

I’ll be sharing my post with Marty over at A Stroll Thru Life— come on over and join the party!

Thanksgiving Menu–adding a couple of new dishes to the menu

I’ve been making Thanksgiving dinner since I was 18 years old. For my husband I’ve been making the same Thanksgiving meal almost 23 years. Several years back I decided not to try new dishes for the first time during holiday meal making, because if they don’t turn out then my stress level goes through the roof. Nothing worse than a dish that flopped and there are a minimum of10 hungry people at the table. Every year though I say to myself– “self, I should try something new this year”, but I never do. Until this year when I began prepping our Thanksgiving meal a few weeks in advance with a trial run of mashed cauliflower and a new dessert- pumpkin bundt cake with cream cheese frosting.

The recipes I chose worked great and both the cauliflower and pumpkin bundt cake turned out terrific.

I followed a recipe from Eating Well for Creamy Mashed Cauliflower.

Now, I don’t like garlic. Well, I used to, but I haven’t been able to tolerate it or onions for about five years now. No clue why?

Once my cauliflower was cooked, mashed and creamy I added butter, buttermilk, and nutmeg. Try Nutmeg– I promise you this will become your go to seasoning. It works well on cauliflower that has been steamed or boiled (just sprinkle a little over the top once done) and works great with green beans and brussel sprouts. Just make sure to have a bit of butter worked into the veggies and then lightly sprinkle with nutmeg. In place of butter, if you like, you can use any oil you would normally drizzle on veggies. I would find a good priced quality extra virgin olive oil if you are opposed to adding butter.

My menu looks something like this—

Roasted 16# Turkey
Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Cauliflower
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Baked Squash drizzled with Maple Syrup
Gluten Free Stuffing
Homemade Parker House Rolls
Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Pecan Pie  

(I love King Arthur Flour recipes– their pecan pie recipe is a big hit everytime I make it)

Until next time Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Soulful Baker by Julie Jones–a review

Soulful Baker by Julie Jones is a loving tribute to baking made beautiful by Julie Jones. I’ve followed Julie Jones and her soulful excursions making pies, tarts, cakes, and bakes for some time. Beautifully decorated desserts made with natural ingredients, and pastry recipes perfectly extraordinaire.

There is simply nothing more beautiful than the story behind both her Instagram account and this beautiful cookery book. Both feature fabulous creations by Julie and her mum captured in beautiful photography and loving stories shared throughout.  From the apple roses to the salted caramel, and the chocolate tart– this book is filled with inspiration. This is your chance to learn how to bake like a pro. All you need is your imagination and Soulful Baker by Julie Jones.

I requested Soulful Baker from NetGalley to review because of its loving tribute to the author’s mum. I simply fell in love with the recipes, photos, and stories included with each recipe. I highly recommend this cookery book to everyone!

Professional Reader

Sundays in our home

Every Sunday in our home is roasted chicken day. It’s also fresh baked cookies day, in preparation for the work week. I begin to prepare dinner around 2:30 p.m. every Sunday and I’m out of the kitchen, usually, by 7 p.m. after clean-up. This time of year brings with it a lot of baking– I bake pumpkins and save the pumpkin for pumpkin bars and pie. I dry the pumpkin seeds for our winter population of birds. About twice a week for approximately four- six months we eat squash. We love acorn squash. Apples my husband didn’t care for were peeled, sliced, and cooked into homemade applesauce. I like mine a bit on the chunky side. For 3# of apples I got four cups of sauce–I peeled, cored, and cut the apples then added 1/4 c. sugar and heated on medium heat for 25 minutes.