Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pumpkin Everything, Take 4: Pumpkin Bread Pudding

On the rare occasions when Jeff and I get to go out for dessert, I always request going to the Ram.  Why?  Their to-die-for bread pudding.  In fact, I am nearly drooling just imaging the ooey gooey caramel sauce dripping over the toasty bread.  I couldn't imagine anything tastier.  That is, until I imagined PUMPKIN bread pudding.  After trying a couple recipes, I brought this delicious mass of bready goodness to my family's Thanksgiving dinner.  I made it again for my MOPS group Advent celebration brunch using less sugar and 2% milk instead of half and half, but I called it Pumpkin French Toast Casserole so nobody had to feel bad about eating dessert at 9:30AM (shhh! don't tell).

Bread pudding

  • 2 cups half and half

  • 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin

  • 1 cup (packed) plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 10 cups 1/2-inch cubes egg bread, about 10-ounces (I used a day-old loaf of French bread from the breadmaker)

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Caramel sauce

  • 1 1/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

  • Powdered sugar

For bread pudding:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk half and half, pumpkin, dark brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Fold in bread cubes. Stir in golden raisins. Transfer mixture to 11x7-inch glass baking dish. Let stand 15 minutes. Bake pumpkin bread pudding until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare caramel sauce:
Whisk brown sugar and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Whisk in cream and stir until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes.

Sift powdered sugar over bread pudding. Serve warm with caramel sauce.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pumpkin Everything, Take 3: Pumpkin Oatmeal Pancakes

When our Full Circle Farms CSA newsletter featured this recipe, I knew it would be a hit in our family. But I had no idea our 2-year-old would devour FIVE whole pancakes in one sitting. What's not to love about pumpkin, oatmeal, AND pancakes all in one?


  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

  • 1 cup yogurt

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tbsp oil

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

  • 1/3 cup milk

  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 tbsp wheat germ

  • 3 tbsp ground flax seeds

  • 1 tbsp sugar

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

1) In a large bowl, combine oats and yogurt. Let mixture stand for 15 minutes to soften. Add the eggs, oil, pumpkin puree and milk, mixing well.

2) In a separate bowl, combine the flours, wheat germ, flax seeds, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and spices, mixing to combine.

3) Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing them until the batter is fairly smooth. Add more milk if the batter is too thick.

4) For each pancake, grease a hot griddle or pan with a small amount of butter and spoon about 1/3 cup of the batter onto the hot surface. Flip the pancakes when their undersides are golden brown and the tops begin to bubble.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pumpkin Everything, Take 2: Harvest Pumpkin Cupcakes

Call me a spoilsport, but I've never been a fan of cupcakes.  I am neither a huge cake or frosting  person, and even if I were, the frosting to cake ratio of a cupcake seems highly skewed.  However, I was called upon to rise to the occasion when my boss invited the fam to a Halloween party and cupcake exchange.  Much to my surprise, these cupcakes were delicious!  The recipe made two dozen, so we had plenty for the party and enough to bring to our neighbors as well.  Confession: I was short on time AND powdered sugar, so I used a can of cream cheese frosting instead of the frosting recipe below.



  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

  • 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt


  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

  • 3 tablespoons butter OR margarine, softened

  • 1 tablespoon orange juice

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated orange peel

  • 4 cups powdered sugar


  1. To make cupcakes:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Blend the eggs, oil, sugar, and pumpkin in a large mixing bowl; set aside. Stir together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and beat until well blended. POUR into lined muffin tins. Fill about 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until center springs back when touched. Cool 30 minutes. Spread with frosting.

  2. To make frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Spread over cooled cupcakes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween 2011: Cow and Sheep Costumes

When Halloween rolls around, I am ever so thankful for my husband's hoarding ways, as it provides rich fodder for any number of make-it-yourself costumes.   Our do-it-yourself attitude about costumes stems not from any skills in sewing or pride in making unique and amazing creations, but perhaps just from cheapness and laziness :)  We can't bring ourselves to shell out a lot of money for an outfit worn for a few short hours (wait, that sounds a lot like wedding attire!).   And I already mentioned my aversion to trips to the fabric store.   So we created this year's costumes solely from materials we had lying around.  Now I'll be the first to admit that our outfits might be a little ghetto, but you can't beat free!

My mother bought the kids' costumes at garage sales, so all we needed were complementary costumes for Jeff & me.  It's almost embarrassing to post instructions on how to make these costumes, because they are so simple, but here goes.

Sheep Costume

I got the idea here but of course no grown-up in a sheep costume can compare with a baby dressed as a lamb.   Nonetheless, we went for it, improvising with the supplies below:

  • large white t-shirt

  • old pillow

  • white hat

  • black and white paper

  • needle, thread, scissors, paper glue


Cut open the pillow and pull apart the stuffing into a couple large sheets for the front and back of the sheep

Sew the stuffing/batting onto the shirt using large, running stitches.  I did this in a somewhat random pattern, bunching up the stuffing to make it fluffier.

Cut out an ear-shaped piece out of black paper and a smaller piece out of white paper and glue them together.  Crease length-wise, and attach to the hat.  (I used safety pins since this is my regular winter hat, and I'd like to wear it around afterward without sheep ears attached)

Wear over a black shirt and black leggings.

Cow Costume

This is another testimony to J saving random stuff that later comes in handy.  See the bodysuit he is wearing?  That is the surgical garb he wore into the OR during my C-section.  The spots?  Old worn dress socks that he couldn't bring himself to throw away.  The ears?  A cereal box cut up and wrapped in tissue paper from our gift wrapping re-use stash.


  • white shirt, pants, and hat (or a surgical coverall, if you're lucky enough to have one handy)

  • black fabric

  • lightweight cardboard

  • white and pink tissue paper

  • needle and thread, fabric glue, or other adhesive of choice


Cut random shapes out of the black material and affix it to the white clothes.  I am sad to report that, despite its ease of use, duct tape will not suffice.  We tried this for this year's first Halloween party at Bethany Community Church, but J arrived home with far fewer spots than he left with.  Oops.

For the ears, cut out the shape in cardboard and wrap it in white tissue paper.  Cut a smaller shape out of pink tissue paper and glue to one side.  Curl the ear into a circle, secure it with tape, and pin it to the hat.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fruit Fly Trap

Jeff and I have differing philosophies on dealing with bugs in the house.  He has a zero tolerance policy and kills all intruders (aside from the time in college when he caught a fly and put it on a leash, but that is another story).  I, on the other hand, believe in catch and release.  I wish I could say that it was out of the goodness of my humane heart, but it’s more that I don’t like to feel a bug squish beneath my fingers, even through a piece of paper.  One thing we do have in common is our shared dislike of fruit flies.  When their population seems to be climbing, Jeff puts together one of these incredibly simple but effective fruit fly traps:


  • A clear container such as an old bottle or jar

  • A piece of paper

  • Tape

  • Scissors

  • Fruit scraps, such as a banana peel or apple core


1) Place the food scraps inside the jar

2) Form the paper into a funnel with an opening just big enough for a fruit fly to crawl in (roughly 1 mm) and fasten with tape

3) Tape the funnel to the jar

The finished product:

The flies crawl in but cannot find their way out, and the odor stays contained.  I suppose you could wrap the jar in some decorative paper to make it more aesthetically pleasing, but around here we keep it simple and unadorned.  It's more fun to see our growing swarm trapped in the bottle.  And rather than feeling bad about killing bugs, I like to think that they happily live out the remainder of their days in an all-you-can-eat fruit fly buffet.