Creamy Pumpkin Smoothie

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Another day, another smoothie. I can’t help myself. I’ve made this pumpkin smoothie several times and it’s delicious. Creamy, healthy, filling, and well, pumpkin-y.

The other day my husband politely inquired if all baked goods from here until spring would be pumpkin flavored. Not entirely fair since I made this AMAZING apple cinnamon oatmeal bread the other day (I subbed Cup 4 Cup flour for the gluten kind), but understandable since pumpkin is my favorite, not his. Luckily the kids are on my side.

You can make this smoothie in a high powered blender or a Cuisinart. I adapted this from a Whole Foods recipe, but mostly this came straight out of my pumpkin flavored brain.

Creamy Pumpkin Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cold water or milk
  • 1/2 heaping cup yogurt (full fat will make a thicker shake, fyi)
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree (more puree = thicker + more pumpkin flavor)
  • 1 ripe banana (frozen or not)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, or a dash of nutmeg
  • a glug of maple syrup or honey, if you like things sweeter (I’ve enjoyed it both ways)
  • a handful of ice IF you have a high powered blender (please don’t put ice in your Cuisinart, at least it never worked for me)
Some of the players.

Some of the players.

Directions:

Dump everything in, and whirl away! Taste test and adjust seasonings/sweetenings until you’re satisfied, and then enjoy. Whipped topping optional. Can you imagine it, though? YUM.

IMG_4318 (1)* Update on the popularity of Smoothies in my home, the green kind in particular…

Green Smoothie POPS!

green smoothie pop

I froze some extra smoothie I made from a delightful blending of kale (yes, I said kale! for a children’s ice pop!), yogurt, pineapple, banana, and honey. Recipe coming soon.

Below is one satisfied customer. Bunky ate TWO for breakfast the other day and then asked for more after school.

I call this, "smoothie face."

I call this, “smoothie face.”

What are your favorite kinds of smoothies? I’m always on the look out for MORE.

 

Trifecta of Celebrations

First up, a very heartfelt thank you to all who commented and offered support on my last post about my other writing life. Hopefully by outing myself as a fiction writer on this blog, I will keep up with my goals and not slack off. Fingers crossed.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

November was a big month for us as we got to celebrate a trifecta of festivities: Little Guy’s birthday, Thanksgiving, and Chanukah. Rather than torture you with three individual posts, I’m lumping it all together.

First up, my birthday boy. I can’t believe this guy is TWO.

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Yet, I totally can because he is talking up a storm and can’t stop running around and dive bombing family members (leading, unfortunately, with his head). He also loves taking off all his clothes – and the clothes of EVERY single one of Bunky’s dolls. It’s really cute until he pees on the couch.

Last year I made him pumpkin muffins because that seemed like a responsible and healthy thing to do for a one-year-old. But a lot changes in a year, let me tell you. The kid still loves pumpkin, but that gourd has nothing on chocolate.

little guy second birthday cake

Everyone LOVED this cake. Courtesy of Gluten Free on a Shoestring’s Perfect Chocolate Cake. It really is perfect. Dense and rich and yet not overbearing at all. A sure thing for my chocoholic family. The fall foliage sprinkles were my favorite part.

Double thumbs up is the highest praise in our house.

Double thumbs up is the highest praise in our house. Little Guy only had one hand free.

little guy birthday cake close up

How cute is this kid? He’s totally trying to share his cake with me.

Which leads me to these leaf shaped sugar cookies I made for Thanksgiving. A GF Shoestring blog recipe. I highly HIGHLY recommend. My kids couldn’t eat them fast enough. And neither could my husband. Um, or me.

cookies close up

I frosted some with royal icing (not pictured), but it was a mistake. I’ve since realized that royal icing is more about making pretty decorations with a piping bag (which I don’t have). However, while the iced cookies didn’t look as pretty as I had hoped, no one complained as they were too busy cramming cookies into their greedy little mouths.

There was also chocolate pretzel marshmallow bark, because why not.

chocolate pretzel marshmallow bark

I jazzed up last year’s fail proof peppermint pretzel bark recipe and added mini marshmallows toward the end after the chocolate was cool. YUM.

Ariel view anyone? (Sorry, can’t help myself, it’s just so pretty.)

Oh, the lighting at my dad's house is just perfect.

Now let’s talk about PIE. Last year I made a cheesecake for my husband, but this year he requested (um, begged) for an apple pie. His absolute hand’s down favorite dessert.

My husband is a pie man.

My husband is a pie man.

I obliged because that’s the kind of awesome wife I am. Not shockingly, I went with another tried and true GF Shoestring recipe. I love Nicole Hunn’s pie crust recipe and helpful video. It’s worth mentioning that it’s the ONLY pie crust I’ve ever made from scratch (gluten and GF), but still, why mess with a sure thing? Here is one perfect looking slice. Seconds later it was gone, I’m sure.

apple pie

One of the best parts about Thanksgiving (in my opinion) is eating (a lot of) pie for breakfast the next morning. Nothing tastes as good, and for me, that pie must be pumpkin. Absolutely. No exceptions.

pumpkin pieLast year I made the mistake of attempting a graham cracker crust on my pumpkin pie. VERY bad move. The crust basically burnt to a crisp during the hour plus baking. Don’t cry for me because I ate the ENTIRE interior anyhow with a spoon. It wasn’t pretty, but it was good.

So, I stuck with the same decadent yet simple recipe as last year, but opted to make a double batch of traditional pie crusts to use for both the apple and pumpkin pie. This year I ate the whole pie, basically by myself (since my husband and daughter don’t like pumpkin pie?!?) but this time with the crust. It was DREAMY. I got a little fat. But it was worth it.

Besides the desserts, the other best part of Thanksgiving this year was the ease of it. Everyone was so chill and happy. It was hilarious watching Little Guy try to keep up with his cousin (three months younger but way faster) as they ran circles in the house. Bunky had a blast playing with the “big cousins” who are all college graduates. There was an adorable (though ear drum shattering) jam session with an electric guitar, a broken violin, a piano, and a mechanical singing Santa.

There was very little talk or anxiety over FOOD. Our kids ate our stuff, the rest of us ate their GF offerings, and we all shared dessert. Couldn’t ask for better, really.

Next up, or rather, simultaneously up, Chanukah.

Oh, Chanukah why are you so long?

Oh, Chanukah why are you so long?

The first night or two was sweet. Candles, singing dreidel songs, opening presents. But then a few days in, things started to go south. My husband grumbled about it, muttering about how at least Christmas gets it all done in one day. At first I defended my holiday, insisting how great it was to get eight nights of festivities, until it wasn’t. The truth is, one gift a night can be kind of frustrating for a kid. At least on Christmas the meh gifts get pushed aside for the great ones, but on Chanukah some nights end up being only meh – which translates to horrendous amount of whining around my house.

All that said, the last second to last night picture is pretty sweet. Bunky loves her waitress costume.

last night of chanukahI am pretty relieved it’s over, though. Until next year.

Now that I’ve got all that out of my system, I leave you with an image that will hopefully be symbolic of the rest of the season: may we all kick up our feet in green high heel shoes and relax.

little guy heelsHope you all survived November and I wish you the best of luck during December’s shenanigans. If the going gets tough, just be glad you’re not trapped in a jar like this poor lady. (Totally random and unrelated aside, but I am strangely in love with this picture.)

princess in a jar

My family will be spending Christmas in our pajamas watching movies. The kids will get one gift each, IF they’re lucky. Greedy ungrateful little boogers.

Just kidding. Mostly.

 

I’m so happy to be part of Vegetarian Mamma’s Gluten Free Friday recipe link-up! Click the badge below for more great GF recipes.

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

chocolate pic

In my home, it’s hard to bake anything without chocolate. I see recipes on Pinterest for lovely looking lemon vanilla sugar cookies and gorgeously frosted banana maple donuts, but I don’t make them. My family demands chocolate. Even Little Guy, who is not yet two, bites the chocolate chip off the top of his mini pumpkin muffin first and then goes rooting around for more. 

So when it comes to pumpkin season, which everyone knows is now (unless you live under a rock) I automatically add chocolate to my recipes, with the exception of pumpkin pie, which incidentally no one in my family enjoys but me. I thought this pumpkin + chocolate thing was universal, but after doing some reading on foodie blogs, it seems not everyone agrees.

They go so naturally together, don't you think?

They go so naturally together, don’t you think?

This recipe could go either way, but since my family demands chocolate that’s the route I take. You could skip it and frost with some decadent cream cheese frosting, or squirt some inside like the recipe I adapted mine from does, but that goes against one of my daughter’s very strict food rules, which I learned about the hard way a few years back after an unfortunate vomiting episode: cream cheese should never be sweet. Hence, the chocolate. 

No matter how you swing it, this recipe is a keeper. I made these a few weeks ago while trying to stock up on healthy school breakfasts before Bunky started kindergarten. They were so popular I made them twice that first week, and now again. It’s a great way to use a 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree, since each batch uses about a half a can. (Reason enough to double the recipe, which I haven’t actually done yet so if you do let me know how it goes.)

pumpkin big close up

Final thing before I get down to business: don’t be concerned about the seemingly long ingredient list. The spices make it appear busy, but in fact this recipe comes together very fast and easily. You know I have no time for any fussiness in recipes. Not with a kid crawling up my leg.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Yield: 9 regular size + 12 minis (or 12 regulars and a handful of minis)

pumpkin mini

[Measurements are in weight and volume because I am kind of a dork about my kitchen scale.]

1 + 1/2 cups GF Flour Mix* (200 grams)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 + 1/2 tsps cinnamon
sprinkle of ginger (or up to 1/4 tsp)
sprinkle of nutmeg (or up to 1/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup coconut palm sugar** or sugar of your choice (about 140 grams)
1/2 cup canola oil (90 grams)
1/4 cup milk, any kind is fine (60 grams)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (approx half of a 15 oz can is about 220 grams)
1 cup chocolate chips

* I sifted my coconut palm sugar because it’s kind of grainy and that seemed to do the trick. It made me use a bit more to get the measurement right, but I tossed the harder crunchy pieces back in the bag cause it’s great in my coffee (not to mention rather pricey).

Notice the price tag is scraped off because I can't stand to look at how much I paid for it.

Notice the price tag is scraped off because I can’t stand to look at how much I paid for it.

Speaking of the bag, look at the back! It’s the gluten free world’s very own Carol Kicinski, of the great recipe blog Simply Gluten Free and it even features a GF recipe. Score!

palm sugar carol k

Ok, finally (!) The Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line muffin tins with cupcake liners, or spray.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together GF flour mix, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, spices, and salt.

3. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, oil, milk, vanilla extract, and pumpkin until smooth. Slowly add in dry ingredients, mixing well.

4. Now would be the time to fold in the chocolate chips. But I often leave some minis plain so Little Guy can eat some before his nap without me stressing about him having a chocolate high. I was feeling rather generous, however, so I plopped one chip in the center of his minis.

A very un-photogenic pic of my unbaked goods.

A very un-photogenic pic of my unbaked goods.

5. Fill each prepared liner about 3/4 full with pumpkin batter. Bake the regular sized muffins for about 15-18 minutes and the minis for 8-10, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let muffins cool about 2 minutes in pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store in air proof container or freeze.

pumpkin big

**My (current) GF Flour Mix is 60% whole grains (millet and sorghum) and 40% starches (sweet rice and potato starch), all certified gluten free from Bob’s Red Mill that I mix myself using my kitchen scale and giant plastic canister. See here for details. But you can probably use most kinds of ready made all purpose GF mixes, including your own. If your mix already includes xanthan gum, then please – for the love of your stomach – don’t add any more.

And finally, having nothing to do with baking whatsoever, please enjoy this hilarious and adorable pic (in my humble and totally biased opinion) of my kids playing dress up, big sister style.

crazy dress up

Top 5 Posts of 2012

For my blog, 2012 didn’t really begin until May when my infant son turned 6 months old. That’s when I managed to pull my head out from under a mound of diapers to try to find myself amid the rubble of having a second kid.

I never would have thought that the second post I wrote after a half year hiatus (and before that, only a handful of sporadic posts) would be the #1 most popular post on my blog…

1. One Year Anniversary

This post was emotional for me to write (and read) since it really brought me back to my daughter’s celiac diagnosis that came just days after she turned three. Now we are only four months away from her 5th birthday. What a transformation in my girl, and in our lives.

On Christmas morning, thrilled with her new gift.

2. First Week of School Lunches Gluten Free

Who can forget my obsessive documentation of Bunky’s first week of school lunches? Um, probably most normal people, but here it is in case you’re curious. I may look through it for inspiration since we are in a total food rut. Shocking, I know.

First day of school pose.

Awesome first day of school pose.

3. When Your Kid Gets Glutened

Another tear jerker for me. I don’t think I have ever seen my daughter more terrified than when she realized the cupcake she was eating was full of gluten. Our lives are still effected by what happened at that birthday party. Bunky refuses to eat anything that other people prepare for her. In some ways I feel like it broke a piece of her trust with me, since I was the one who gave her the go-ahead to eat that crappy cupcake. Yes, mistakes happen, I know. But they still suck.

4. Cranberry Orange Muffins

On a lighter note, my husband had his GF baking dream come true (not counting croissants) when I made him these. I think it’s pretty funny (and great) that one of top ways people found my site was by searching for cranberry orange muffins. Who knew they were so sought after? Well, I guess my husband did. But don’t go telling him that.

Yes, he was that excited.

5. Pumpkin Addiction: A Round-up plus a Recipe

I’m not surprised that this one was popular. I just made pumpkin muffins this morning, so clearly my addiction is still on. Though it was temporarily surpassed by peppermint bark. If you want a flashback to when pumpkin was splattered all over the internet, check it out. There’s also an awesome recipe for pumpkin chai oatmeal cookies by my super talented baker/seamstress cousin Peeps.

pumpkin-cookies-1Now it’s time for a rather belated but completely genuine and heartfelt THANK YOU to you for reading my posts. Seriously. For a while there I felt like I was writing to myself, and that was okay, but writing to actual human beings is way better. So thank you again.

Happy (almost) New Year! Hope to see you all lots in 2013.

-Dana (mom to Bunky, the Celiac Kiddo, and not-so-new arrival Little Guy + wife to my husband, and beyond all that, an actual human being who loves to write)

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Pumpkin Soup in the Country

One of Bunky’s, and my, favorite fall books is Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper. It’s a gorgeously illustrated story about three bickering pals, Duck, Cat, and Squirrel, who live in a hollowed out white pumpkin and make delicious pumpkin soup.

Every time I read it, I want to eat the soup. The author makes it sound, and look, so good. But I’ve never made it until now.

The recipe I made is adapted from Gluten Free Girl and The Chef to fit my (picky as hell) family. I thought I had a fighting chance with Bunky, but not surprisingly she didn’t like it. My husband, however, said it was The Best Soup he EVER had. This is coming from a guy who doesn’t throw out gratuitous compliments. Also, we were totally annoyed with each other at the time, so clearly the soup had to be AWESOME.

I think Duck, Cat & Squirrel would approve.

Pumpkin Soup adapted from Gluten Free Girl and The Chef

Ingredients

5-pound sugar or pie pumpkin
4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
cracked black pepper
1 large carrot, peeled and large diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and medium diced
1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated is best, regular is fine
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream (sub coconut milk for DF)
2 tbsps butter** (skip this for DF)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Carefully cut the top off of the pumpkin and cut it into quarters. (I used two smaller pumpkins.) Scrape out the seeds and the innards and set the seeds aside*.

Place the pumpkin quarters in a baking dish and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake for about 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft enough to scoop with a spoon. Let cool to room temperature. Scoop the pumpkin flesh from the pumpkin and set aside.

2. Place a soup pot over medium heat. Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the carrot and garlic to the hot oil and cook. Stir frequently so the garlic browns lightly but doesn’t burn. Cook until the carrot is somewhat softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add the sage and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the sweet potato, nutmeg, and bay leaf to the stockpot. Pour in the chicken broth and pumpkin flesh. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes or until the sweet potato is fork-soft.

It’s burbling away. Looks witchy, doesn’t it?

3. Remove pot from heat. Take out bay leaf. I also took out the chunks of garlic, but you can leave those in if you’d like. Carefully, use an immersion blender to puree soup to desired consistency. It can be a little chunky if you like, or very smooth. Mine was mostly smooth with a bit of texture.

WARNING – be careful not to splash yourself with hot soup while blending. Transfer to a large serving bowl first if you prefer, and then return to the pot once blended. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender or Cuisinart and then back to the pot.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cream and butter. Put soup back in pot (if not there already) and bring to a boil and reduce to low heat. Let simmer until soup is thickened to your liking (about 10 minutes).

* If you want to bake the pumpkin seeds, spread them on a baking sheet and lightly coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake in the oven with the pumpkin, until the seeds start to brown (5 to 10 minutes). Remove from oven and season with salt.

For some reason I am unable to roast pumpkin seeds. I either over or undercook them. They are never edible. Don’t let my own failure stop you, though. I’m sure the soup would be lovely with some sprinkled on top.

My husband and I enjoyed this soup for dinner and lunch the next day. I was concerned about how to transfer the leftovers for the ride home, but turns out my worry was unnecessary. There was not a drop left.

A delicious, warm lunch.

My new plan for our country weekends is to make soup or stew the first night so we can all enjoy a warm lunch the next day. This way we can cut down on our cold sandwich intake. I just need to find a recipe everyone will enjoy. Having 2 out of 4 family members give it the thumbs up isn’t bad, but next time I’m shooting for at least 3.

Let me know if you make this soup. It takes some time, but it is SO worth the effort. Check out the original recipe if your family tolerates more spice and onion. You could also add some freshly grated ginger to heat it up. Oh, that sounds good…

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mama, Eat.Live.Make, and Gluten Freed R.D., and One Creative Mommy’s Gluten Free Monday link up. Click the links to find more great GF recipes.