This post is part of the Witch’s Tea Party blog post at ParaYourNormal to celebrate Halloween and Samhain. Wander on over there today for a ton of fall themed fun.
Fall weather takes longer to arrive here in Houston than it does in other places. Sometimes, I think it will never arrive when I am sweating in the humidity and heat on Halloween.
You might think I am exaggerating about the heat, but this is how green things are at my house.
I have never seen actual fall leaves so pictures like the one below, look fake to me.
When the heat drops, even the smallest bit, I am ready to celebrate by whipping up a batch of my favorite pumpkin muffins. These muffins are more like mini spice cakes and will make your house smell wonderful.
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. each of ground cloves, cinnamon, allspice, ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. raisins
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. canned pumpkin
1/3 c. whole milk
1/3 c. canola oil
1/4 c. molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the flour, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, baking soda, ginger, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a whisk to combine well. Stir in the raisins.
In another, medium sized bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until moist.
Line your muffin tin with paper or foil then spray the liners lightly. This will help the liners not peel away half your muffin when you remove them.
Despite every recipe I have ever read telling me to do otherwise, I always fill my muffin cups right to the brim of my liners and my muffins are always big and beautiful. I suggest you break the normal rules and try it.
If you are making regular sized muffins, bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If you are making mini-muffins, check them at 10 minutes and then keep an eye on them. These muffins are best when they are not overcooked.
Variations: Add nuts. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on top before baking. Add cream cheese frosting on top!
I am excited to be participating in the Love That! launch event happening today. There are a bunch of authors participating in the Facebook party today and I am sure there will be plenty of online hoopla to be had. Join the Facebook party here.
Love That! by Brenda Novak is a cookbook of healthy, easy meals. All proceeds for this book are going to the University of Miami’s Diabetes Research Foundation to help find a cure for diabetes. Brenda’s youngest son suffers from diabetes and she has tirelessly worked to raise money and awareness for diabetes over the years.
The cookbook is well laid out, with beautiful pictures. It is full of wonderful dishes that are healthy and delicious. My family eats soup in the winter and salads in the summer and this book has a large variety of both, plus a ton of other things. I can’t wait for cold weather so I can try the Mediterranean Vegetable Soup. With summer coming, I want to try the Citrus Salad with Avocado and Bacon and the Salmon Stacks.
For the launch today, I made the Nine Layer Dinner. On the night I made it, we had a meeting at church, so it ended up being a dinner on the go. It traveled well and it was a big hit with the boys.
Here are the assembled ingredients: 1 lb ground turkey, 3 large tomatoes, fresh basil, cheddar cheese, pasta, black refried beans, red peppers, black olives, romaine lettuce, sour cream. I should note that I rarely follow recipe instructions as written. Because this was for an event, I did my best to follow the instructions. It was hard, but I succeeded.
I browned the turkey. While the meat was cooking, I used my food processor to chop up two of the tomatoes. I was feeling very lazy, so I threw in the fresh basil too.
When the tomatoes and basil were chopped, I added them to the cooked turkey along with the red pepper. I added some salt at this point. If I was cooking in my usual style aka using the recipe as a guideline rather than a prescription, I would have added some chopped garlic to this mix. Really, can you ever have too much garlic? The answer is no. No you can not.
While the pasta cooked, I left the turkey mixture to bubble and chopped up some lovely little colored peppers and small, yellow tomatoes. I put the tomatoes and peppers in a to go container since this meal was going to have to travel. I also put the refried beans into a small pot and started heating them up.
When the noodles were done, I added them and some of the shredded cheese to the turkey and tomato mixture. When is was combined well, I poured the mixture into a 9×11 dish.
On top of the turkey noodle mix, I spread the warmed refried beans and topped them with more cheese.
On top of the cheese, I spread some of the chopped peppers and the can of black olives. I put the lid on my baking dish and whisked it into my casserole carrier. I packed up the sour cream, lettuce, extra tomatoes and peppers, and threw in a small bottle of garlic lime Cholulah. Everything is better with a little kick of Cholulah.
To assemble the layers, place a scoop of the turkey noodle mix onto a plate. Top with lettuce, sour cream, peppers, tomatoes, and a hot sauce of your choice.
If we had this dinner at home, I would have made guacamole or sliced avocados to add to the top.
The verdict? My husband and boys loved it. It was easy and traveled great. Spreading the refried beans was not easy though. You could use whole black beans instead and get the desired effect. If you use whole beans, be sure to rinse them first. If you have trouble finding good tomatoes, use canned low salt ones.
Each Serving: Cal: 334 Carb: 36 g Fat: 10 g Protein: 23 g Sodium: 446 mg Sugar: 5 g
1 lb. ground turkey
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, crushed
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 cups low-fat cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz. Mastaccoli pasta
1 can refried black beans
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp. black olives, sliced
2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
4 Tbsp. fat-free sour cream
Fry ground turkey and drain. Add chopped tomatoes, water, pepper flakes and fresh basil.
Cook breaking up the chopped tomatoes to form sauce. Add 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese and the cooked pasta, and mix well. Divide pasta mixture onto 8 plates. Top with remaining ingredients. Add spoonfuls of warm refried beans, sprinkle with cheddar cheese, bell pepper, black olives, romaine lettuce and tomato–and top off with 1/2 Tbsp. sour cream.
I have recently come across two websites that I thought I would share as they are very useful. There are many times in our lives when we need to help out others. Sometimes, they need meals, sometimes people need help with other things, like chores or childcare, during a family crisis, surgery, or the arrival of a new baby. There are two websites that I have used that make coordinating these things for friends and family much easier.
TakeThemAMeal.com -is a site that coordinates meals. For some areas, they even have a section of the website where you can order soup to be delievered to someone. This website creates a new schedule for someone and then anyone with the last name and password (a four digit number) has access to the schedule.
Lotsa Helping Hands – This site lets you create a community. Each community has a message board, a calendar on which you place items that are needed (chores, meals, childcare, etc.), photo gallery, announcements, and a place for people to leave well wishes. This site requires that you create a unique account when asked to join the community.
Both websites are easy to use and seem to be intuitive. They definitely take some of the headache out of coordinating help for those that need it.
–Jane, currently benefiting from the meals provided by friends
Being the person in the family that bakes is fun, except on my birthday. Then I have to decide if I am going to bake my own cake or if I am going to save the time and mess and buy one. I have until Wednesday to decide. Perhaps, I will just listen to GLaDOS sing me a song about a cake.
It is one of my favorite times of year… Oktoberfest time. We have a local brewery in Houston called St. Arnold and they make many delicious seasonal brews. They only brew a finite amount, so often you have to know when the brews are due out and then stalk the local liquor stores. They can disappear pretty quickly.
Last year at this time, I was with child and unable to partake of the seasonal offerings. This year, there are no such restrictions.
Mr. Rochester and I bought the last two six packs at our local store and we gleefully danced out with them. We did spare a second or two for the schmoes who missed the goodness, but our triumph won and we giggled like children in the cookie jar. Only this is much better than cookies.
Today, a couple of my friends and I are participating in a family tradition of mine, Baking Day. It is the day you spend baking many varieties of goodies to disperse upon friends and neighbors because Lord knows you do not need to eat all that junk yourself. My recipes for the day include Pecan Crisps, Molasses Cookies, Date Bars, and Kolaches (the real kind with fruit). My friends are bringing recipes with them as well.
There is wassail a-brewing, nog in the fridge, and rum to make everything extra tasty. It is going to be a great day.