Pumpkinpalooza Continues: Vegan Pumpkin Ice Cream

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I knew my first pie pumpkin would go fast. I made pumpkin seed brittle, pumpkin butter, pumpkin bars, pumpkin cinnamon rolls and used up the last of it last night making vegan pumpkin ice cream. It was super quick and easy and very, very yummy.

I had a second pie pumpkin on deck ready to go, and I roasted it a few days ago, in anticipation of using up the first one. But the weirdest thing happened. After hours (4 or 5) of roasting, it remained hard as a rock. AND it turned really brown/charred. I tossed it, I guess I got a bum pumpkin? But now, sadly I am pumpkin-less. (until I buy a new one)

Vegan Pumpkin Ice Cream:

2 cans chilled coconut milk (canned, full fat)
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
Pie spices: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves to taste

Mix everything up, then freeze according to your manufacturer’s instructions. I have the kitchenaid ice cream attachment, so I just pop the chilled bowl on there and churn for about 15 minutes. We ate a bit, then I froze the rest. Initially the consistency is like soft-serve, but freezing it turns it a bit harder like traditional ice cream.

What is YOUR favorite pumpkin recipe? I think I need to make cookies and maybe a bundt cake next.

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Spooky Saturday Night

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It was hard to narrow down what to do over the weekend to celebrate the Halloween season. Haunted hay ride? Zoo trip? Museum event? Pumpkin patch? I had a few ideas, then a friend on Facebook let me know that R.L Stine, one of my boys’ favorite authors was speaking at the Texas State Cemetery after dark.

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I am eternally grateful to R.L Stine and authors like him for creating books that capture my boys’ imagination. When they were learning to read, all of the early readers were boooooring to them and I was worried that they would not learn to love books the way I do. I spent hours googling early readers, graphic novels and chapter books that were more on the gory exciting side for them. Of course R.L Stine came up.

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Before R.L (“Bob”) went on, a man named James Preller read from one of his newer books. I’ll definitely add him to our list of spooky, boy-friendly authors.

After the reading Mr. Stine walked past me and I said hi. He told me that Griffin was cute. I wanted to thank him for helping my boys become book lovers, but all I managed was a smile. I think he got it. Authors have always made me far more starstruck than movie stars. The line for autographs was super long, and most of the people there were adults, oddly enough. My boys didn’t have the patience to wait, the three of them wanted to shine their flashlights at the headstones instead.

What spooky things have YOU done so far for Halloween?

The Scobe: Adventures in Kombuchaland

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I inherited a scoby from a friend last week and decided to bite the bullet and finally give DIY kombucha a whirl. I had no clue what to do with her when I brought her home in a glass pint jar, swimming in the brew she was born in, so I did a lot of internet reading to prepare. After a couple of days I shrugged and tossed the scobe in with a fresh batch of sweet tea into a glass jar with a spigot (that I had just bought) I saw the scoby sink to the bottom. I had no idea if I had killed it or what was going on.

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The next day I took the kombucha down from the shelf above my dryer in the laundry room and peeked under the coffee filters (used to help the ‘booch breathe and keep bugs and fruit flies out) The scoby had floated to the top and it smelled happy and very kombucha-y in there. I tasted it in day three (I slipped a straw under the scobe and took a sip) and it seemed like it was going to be good.

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After it brewed for 7 days I used a pair of tongs to fish out the scoby (my oldest boy insisted on putting on a pair of plastic gloves so he could feel it’s slimy squishiness) and let it swim in some of the kombucha in the pint jar I brought it home in. I tossed in a chunk of peeled fresh ginger and added 32 oz. of organic honeycrisp apple juice. I used the scoby (fused with it’s baby, I didn’t separate them yet) to start a fresh batch and put the first batch back on the shelf to do a second ferment and hopefully create some yummy bubbles in there. (like what I’m used to in store-bought)

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This morning I poured a glass to sample and really loved the way it tasted. It was definitely “real kombucha.” I put it back on the shelf and was excited to see lots of bubbles forming on the top. I tasted it again tonight and the flavor is definitely deeper and more complex. I’ll taste it again tomorrow and if it seems to be where I like it then I’ll toss it in the fridge. I don’t plan on straining it, the spigot seems to be catching the bigger chunks and I don’t want to mess up the carbonation. Plus it will be gone probably before the second batch is finished with the first fermentation.

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I let my older boys have some with dinner and they loved it. I think we’ll need a bigger jar! I feel bad because my sweet husband wanted to get a 2 gallon screw top (looked like a giant mason jar!) container the first time but I was hesitant to go bigger than a gallon or so in case it didn’t work out. (the one he wanted was twice as much as the one I wanted) I want to get a case of flip top bottles and a few jugs and another bigger container with a spigot. I found a few online, but I will probably end up investing in real homebrew supplies as time goes on. I can’t wait to experiment with different flavors!

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Have you made kombucha before? What are YOUR favorite flavor combinations?

Baked Sunday Mornings: Going Rogue

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We were supposed to make Devil Dogs with Malted Buttercream Filling this time, but I am too deep in my yearly pumpkin obsession to do chocolate and buttercream right now. For me, pumpkin is pretty fleeting–October and November, then on to other things for Christmas baking–but I can do chocolate anytime.

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I didn’t intend to go rogue necessarily, but a few weeks ago my boys were flipping through Baked Elements and pointed at the Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls recipe. ‘Mama. Make these.’ And I have been thinking of them ever since.

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These cinnamon rolls were so easy to make, but they look so beautiful they would be perfect for any fall brunch. The only 10″ pan I own is a springform and that was perfect. Once they were out of the oven I just took the sides off the pan and slid the rolls, still on the 10″ round onto the cake stand to frost. If I was going to travel with them I would have just put the round into the cake taker and been on my way.

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I did make the frosting ahead of time but that ended up not making a difference. I used an offset spatula and smeared/dripped the frosting evenly onto the rolls. As lovely as the picture is in the cookbook, I require more than just a delicate drizzle of frosting on my cinnamon rolls: they need to be drenched.

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The pumpkin made the finished rolls soft and puffy and they were spicy and yummy from the cinnamon and nutmeg. (I didn’t have ground cardamom) I would definitely make these again, and I probably will before pumpkin season closes out for the year.

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Go over and check out my friend’s devil dogs!

Next up: Good Morning Sunshine Bars! Yay, I’ve been wanting to make these!!

Pumpkin Butter!!

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I love love love a piece of good bread with jam in the mornings with coffee. I recently decided to take a bit of the pumpkin puree I made and turn it into some lovin’ for my toast. It’s incredibly easy and super tasty. I’m sure there are some recipes online but I just freestyled it. I really need to replenish my fall spices, but what I had on hand worked fine.

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Pumpkin Butter:

3-4 frozen pumpkin “pucks” (roughly 1 1/2-2 cups)
Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom to taste. Allspice would be a good addition too.
Maple syrup to taste
1 tablespoon good butter (like Plugra)
A bit of confectioner’s sugar if it seems too thin

Defrost pumpkin, strain if it seems watery. Add spices, syrup, butter. Add powdered sugar until it is a good consistency. Refrigerate and use within a week or so.

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Baked Sunday Mornings: Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

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This recipe forced helped me to jump-start my fall baking. I bought my first two pie pumpkins and located my pie weights. That alone made me feel triumphant. The bars are really yummy, the perfect thing to make for a holiday potluck…(or in this case, a random rainy weekend)

The only problem with it is that it is NOT procrastinator-friendly, it definitely takes a bit of time and planning to execute this recipe. Luckily we were just having a lazy weekend at home so while the boys snuggled on the couch watching Winnie the Pooh I spent some time in the kitchen.

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By the time we were finished having breakfast this morning (ok, I’m still in my jammies drinking coffee, but it’s technically not the morning anymore) the bars were ready to be cut.

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I definitely think they were a hit. I don’t need a pan of these laying around my house, so I think I am going to pack up most of them and send them with my oldest boy to take to his Nana’s house.

Go see how my tester friends fared with these yummy autumn treats!

Next up: Devil Dogs with Malted Buttercream Filling. WOW!

The Great Pumpkin

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It’s finally fall(ish) and our first pumpkin of the season went into the oven. I haven’t used gross canned pumpkin in many years. I had once figured fresh was a pain, or wouldn’t taste right or would be expensive. Not only is that just not true (one good-sized pie pumpkin can bake three-four pies) but fresh just tastes better and isn’t artificially orange. (fresh pumpkin bakes up brown, an orange pie or other baked good is a surefire canned giveaway)

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Baked Elements has instructions for making pumpkin puree from a fresh pumpkin, but I didn’t use directions since I have done it lots of times before. I just poke holes (or employ two stabby 8 year to do the job) and put the pumpkin on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake on 225 and go do other things.

This time I started in the evening and by the time it was done (a fork will pierce the skin very easily) it was bedtime so I turned the oven off and left the pumpkin to hang out in there overnight.

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The next day I cut off the stem, reached inside and scooped out most of the guts/seeds (the fun part) then cut it into quarters. Using a fork, I gently scraped off the rest of the stringy bits and seeds Those went into a colander to be cleaned later. Using a large spoon I scooped out the flesh and scraped the skins clean.

The pumpkin chunks went into a large bowl with a lid (there are about 4-5 cups) and when I am about to use the pumpkin in a recipe I will toss a cup or so into a strainer and drain any liquid off before putting it into the food processor to blend until smooth.

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I almost always roast my seeds but this time I used the Baked Elements book and made the Toasted Pumpkin Seed Brittle.

Brittle is so so so easy, and I’m happy most people would assume it was difficult: it makes great gifts when tucked into a cute tin. This recipe is salty and sweet and cinnamon-y and makes me (and all my guys) very happy.

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What side are you on? Team Canned or Team Fresh?