Category Archives: autumn

Fall-ing for Autumn

In an effort to add a little more color and beauty into the world, every week on Pinterest I pick one of my favorite things and create a a new board to house all the images I find. On Tuesdays I make a blog post devoted to the theme.

Autumn Equinox

Yesterday was the Autumnal Equinox. The word equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal night.” At the fall and spring equinoxes the hours of daylight are equal to the hour of darkness. This happens because the Sun crosses the celestial equator. Autumn is a time of change as leaves change color, days grow shorter and temperature begin to drop.

Why do leaves change color? The bright pigments carotene (yellow) and anthocyanin (red) you see so vividly during the fall are actually present all year. They are simple masked by chlorophyll (green). When the temperature starts dropping, a barrier forms between the twigs of trees and the leaves preventing sugars from exiting and nutrients from entering the leaves. This results in the chlorophyll breaking down, leaving behind these other pigments.

Follow my Autumn board on Pinterest.//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Pumpkin Spice Bread

It’s October and pumpkin is everywhere. In the past two weeks alone, I’ve had two pumpkin spice latte, 4 cups of sweet harvest pumpkin tea, a bag of pumpkin spice kisses, five varieties of pumpkin beer (including one from Fate) and this bread… (and no, these companies are not my sponsors).

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions:

Heat oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, water, vegetable oil, applesauce, yogurt and eggs. Beat until well mixed. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves in another bowl and stir until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture. Beat until smooth. Grease two 5×3 inch loaf pans and dust with flour. Evenly divide the batter between the three pans. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10-15 minutes, then remove from pans by inverting onto a rack and tapping the bottoms. Slice and serve plain, buttered, or with cream cheese.

Butternut Squash Autumn Stew

The air feels crisp and cool, leaves are creating a beautiful mosaic of colors across the landscape and the days are growing shorter, which means it’s time to make soup!

Every year I always elect to craft a butternut squash stew; to me it screams fall. Therefore every year as the sales on butternut squashes begin I pick one up. I must be blocking the fact that every year it’s actually me who’s screaming (and fall is not mentioned once in said screaming). I wonder why I never remember how awful it is to deal with butternut squashes probably some psychological blockage. Well I am reminding you now to save you the trouble. They are literally the worst vegetable. And here’s why:

  1. They are impossible to slice into when raw. Are they made of steel or what?
  2. You also cannot peel them when raw. They wear the armor of the gods.
  3. After you cook them, you can’t peel them without burning the skin right off your fingers.

    On the other hand, butternut squash is also one of the most delicious vegetables and they’re packed with vitamins and other wonderful things your body needs. So here’s my solution, buy a bag of frozen, cubed butternut squash and save yourself the hacking, prying, swearing, and crying.

    If you, like me, enjoy torturing yourself this is how you tackle the Monty-Python-and-the-Holy-Grail-bunny-like squash:

    (Aside: this is a somewhat obscure reference so I will spell it out for you: the knights in the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, underestimated the rabbit because it was cute and cuddly and did not intimidate them; then the bunny lurched at one of them and ate his face off. The butternut squash appears inviting and agreeable but then it turns on you becoming an impenetrable fortress. Was this allegory too much of a leap?)

    Right, sorry about the silliness… Back to squash (which is in no way silly):
    1. Preheat the oven to 375°F
    2. Cut the squash in half. Spoon out seeds and goop (technical term); save seeds.
    3. Pour a thin layer of water into a baking pan or cookie sheet with sides.
    4. Place the cut side of the squash face down in the water.
    5. Slide tray into oven and bake for 40 minutes or until fork easily pierces flesh of squash.

    Toss the seeds with salt and toast in toaster oven until crispy 🙂

    While the squash is baking, prepare your other veggies. Finely chop 1 medium onion, peel 3 potatoes and an apple, then chop, setting one potato aside from the others.

    Bring 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth to a boil. Add 1 1/2 pound chicken thighs and boil until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove chicken from broth and place on a plate to cool. Pour broth into a bowl.

    Meanwhile bring about 3 cups of water to boil in a separate pot. Add the apple and two of the potatoes. Cook until tender then drain water and add to a food processor. When squash is finished baking scoop half of the squash into the food processor and set the other half aside to cool. Pulse the potato, apple and squash until smooth. This thickens and adds a creaminess to the soup/stew without adding fat.

    Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and the third potato cook until onions are translucent, add 2 minced cloves garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (we enjoy spicy food here, feel free to reduce or omit this ingredient if you prefer non-spicy), 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon allspice and 1/8 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard, and 1/8 teaspoon celery salt. Stir until you catch a strong whiff of garlic (about 30 seconds), then pour in the reserved chicken broth. Reduce heat to simmer.

    With a fork and knife and fingers… remove the skins from the chicken. Then remove the chicken from the bones. Add chicken to simmering pot. Then add pureed potato, apple, squash mixture to the pot. Add one 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes as well (with liquid).

    Return to the other half of the squash that you set aside. Cut cubes into the squash and remove skin. Add squash cubes to the pot. Then add 1 cup (ish) chickpeas/garbanzo beans. Stir until everything is heated. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper (or to taste).

    Serve over cooked quinoa or brown rice or with bread.

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    Ingredients

    • 1.5 pounds butternut squash, halved and seeded
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1.5 lb chicken thighs
    • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
    • 1 can diced petite tomatoes
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 1/2 cup chicken broth
    • 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
    • 1 apple, peeled and cubed
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard
    • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
    • salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon each)
    • 1 cup garbanzo beans

    Well that’s a long list now isn’t it… trust me it’s worth it! (See that bowl of apples? my grandma gave me even more after I made the apple butter… look out for apple cake and applesauce posts coming soon!)

    What’s your favorite fall soup?

    Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    On the first day of October it only seems fitting to post a recipe for pumpkin muffins…

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    Whenever I make up a new recipe it is always a messy process. The first step is always the idea that acts as a catalyst for the rest. In this case the trigger was pumpkin. As the chill in the air gets stronger I always start craving pumpkin everything. It doesn’t help matters that Starbucks incessantly advertises the pumpkin spice latte, or that the scent of pumpkin bagels can be detected wafting halfway across campus, or that people insist on pinning every pumpkin recipe that comes under detection. Regardless of how the idea came to me, come it did.

    The next step is generally in what form do I want to eat the craving (sometimes this is linked to the first step, as in “I am craving tomato soup,” rather than simply tomato). I decided muffins would be the best mode of consumption. Muffins are compact on-the-go type foods. Sometimes you need that kind of thing around the house.

    Then comes the Googling and the comparing and the improvising. I tend to have about 13 web pages open along with at least two cookbooks on my lap. “A cup and a half of oil; that’s outrageous! I’ll need to reduce that, Maple syrup? Nope don’t have any of that, I’ll use brown sugar… What’s the conversion factor again? Baking powder, baking soda, salt… How can I slip some flax seed in? Can I use almond milk and yogurt instead of milk?”

    It’s a nightmare, honestly. But, it’s definitely rewarding when something wonderful comes out of all this hard work. Luckily this is one of those times. This is what my recipe card looked like after all of that.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    I wanted to use flax seed to give them some more nutrition. Flax seed can increase the fiber, unsaturated healthy fats, phytoestrogens and omega-3 content when added to foods.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Flax seed

     In a medium-sized mixing bowl add 1 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup flax seed, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda and a pinch of salt.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    I wanted a lot of spice flavor so for the spices I used cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and allspice. I prefer the flavor of ceylon “true” cinnamon because it is sweeter than the cassia variety (most of the store bought cinnamon is cassia). Cinnamon is my favorite flavor, in Maggie’s world, we look for excuses to add cinnamon.

    To the flour mixture add, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon allspice and 1/4 teaspoon cloves.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin is the best pumpkin puree out there. I’m not usually able to tell the difference between store-brand and name-brand products so I tend to stick with store-brand because they are cheaper. In this case there is no comparison. I am generally disappointed with the quality of the store-brand pumpkin purees.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    Pour the entire 15-ounce can of pumpkin into a larger mixing bowl. (Be sure to remove any large metal items that fall in).

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    Add 3/4 cup brown sugar to the bowl.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    Next add 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    Then an egg…

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    Mix it all together then add the dry ingredients.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    Whisk together all the ingredients until just mixed.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    Then add about 1 1/2 cups of your mix-ins (I used 3/4 cup walnuts and 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips).

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    Spoon into greased muffin tins. Each cup should be between 1/2 and 2/3 full. (I hope this picture doesn’t give you vertigo. I’ve rotated it every possible way, it’s just a weird angle).

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    Cool in pan for ten minutes then remove and continue cooling on a wire rack.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts
    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts
    Yummy! Hello autumn; I welcome you with open arms…
    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

    …as long as I can eat one of these everyday for the duration of the season. Please and thank you!

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