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Archive for the ‘In the Kitchen’ Category

Pumpkin Smoothie

Pumpkin Smoothie

1 cup nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt

(plain will yield a tarter flavor)

1 cup pumpkin, chilled (fresh puree or canned)

1 banana, preferably frozen (sliced or in two halves)

1/2 cup crushed ice (or cubes)

1/3 cup water

2 T brown sugar

1 t ground cinnamon

1/8 t ground nutmeg

dash of ground cloves

1 scoop protein powder, optional

honey to taste, if desired (for a sweeter flavor)

 

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It has been a busy, fun-filled Fall ’round these parts, and as I have had many aspirations…yet few actulizations…of blogging, here is our Fall summed up in four photo collages:

FALL HARVEST

Although we planted four pumpkin plants (one jack-o-lantern and three pie), only one plant survived and only one solitary pumpkin on that plant thrived.  As pictured above, the boys had quite the time trying to decide just who that one pumpkin belonged to; in the end, I took possession of it for cooking purposes.  It was just a medium-small jack-o-lantern pumpkin, but we made the most of it, and it yielded pumpkin cream sauce (over ravioli), a pumpkin roll, baked pumpkin seeds (for an Autumn salad), and two pumpkin pies.  Surely, just one pumpkin for the season wouldn’t do, so we bought many more and made:  more pumpkin rolls (x2); pumpkin soup (x2); pumpkin muffins (x2), pumpkin bread (a lot); pumpkin smoothies (look forward to the recipe in a later post), pumpkin ice cream (recipe here); pumpkin cookies (many).  And I still have FIVE pumpkins to cook through!  It’s a darn good thing I love pumpkin, and my family does too!

FALL FESTIVITIES

Cleaning out pumpkins for cooking and carving, sugar cookie decorating…the pictures say it all.

FALL RUNNING and RACING

There has been a lot of running and racing in this family of late.   I kicked it off for the season with the St. George Marathon in early October (a long overdue post probably to come…), which didn’t go as well as I had hoped, but I followed it up with three PRs (personal records) in three different distances, so I’m feeling great regardless. 

I had my boys “training” whenever we went to the park.  I registered them for two races this season (at their insistence, mind you).  I want for them to learn while they are young that running is fun and doable.  I don’t want them getting to their first “mile” in middle school P.E. and having a dreadful experience, as I did.  I don’t want them to have a preconceived notion that running is too hard and horrible, as I did.  I want them to remember that they RAN their first mile when they were only 5 and 7 (in a race last June), and that they did GREAT!  They will decide on their own if they really like running; my objective is to simply keep them from hating running.  So far, they love it…or at least the racing aspect of it.  The first race they were to run was in conjunction with my half marathon, and they were supposed to wear their Halloween costumes.  They were SO excited, but unfortunately it was canceled as the vineyard they were to run through was too muddy and rocky.  No matter, their dad and I took them to a deserted stretch of road near the vineyard and had them run a quick point to point race from him to me.  It was a short and spontaneous substitute, but at least they felt like they got to run their race and that they earned their medals.  The second race was a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving that the whole family (even Dad, 5K) participated in.

As for me, after the marathon I ran a local 5K (3.1 miles), a GORGEOUS half marathon (13.1 miles) through the vineyards of Sonoma Valley, and a 10K (6.2 miles) Turkey Trot in San Jose.  I set new personal records in all three distances:

5K:  22:59; 10K: 48:51; 1/2 Marathon: 1:51:04

The 10K Turkey Trot was the easiest course of the three, the only problem being the thick crowd of runners to navigate through (nearly 15,000 runners between the 5K and 10K, which partially shared a course..holy cow that’s a HUGE field!)  The local 5K was actually a very poor course, and I think I could have run it faster had the course been one good loop or a straight way out and back.  Instead, it was two laps of a really weird loop, with short out and backs included and far too many turns, some particularly sharp ones.  For a short race that is meant to be run fast, this course was NOT helpful…I felt like every time I gained some good momentum I had to slow way down to make a turn without taking a spill, and I had to focus far too much on simply making sure I stayed on the course, period.  The half marathon was hands down the most beautiful California race I have run thus far…picturesque, as in post card/calendar worthy.  It began at a really cool winery and wound it’s way along this old rural road that took us past 23 family owned wineries, ending at Lake Sonoma Receration Area.  The weather was perfect, and the course was nice…neither difficult nor easy, with gently rolling hills the entire way.  I LOVED this event.

FALL HIKING and EXPLORING

 

Our three-year-old was having a very hard time at first with his two older brothers starting school and leaving him behind during the day.  Soon though, he discovered that being the lone kid home does have some good perks.  One (unfortunately hot) September day his dad had the morning off work, so we took him for a hike up a local iconic mountain…sans the brothers.  He loved having both Mom and Dad to himself for such an outing, and he still talks about hiking up that mountain with us whenever he spots in out the car window.  I took all three boys to a nearby creek/recreation area for some easy hiking and great exploring the day before Thanksgiving.  One thing about boys I know:  they love to be outside where they have plenty of space to run and explore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farewell, my favorite season, until next year…

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This year marks my husband’s and my tenth Thanksgiving together, and this was the first we’ve shared with no extended family or friends (we’ll be spending Christmas the same way this year).  It was just us and our boys in our little home, in our own kitchen, at our uncrowded table.  My original plan was to go out to eat, but after consulting our budget…and to the delight of my hubby…we decided to stay in and cook ourselves (er, myself).   Actually, we were amazed at how well and with little work or fanfare it all came together.  And also at how well we enjoyed the intimate setting of just our usual five.

The one thing I really missed was breaking out the fine china.  It just didn’t seem worth the effort to dig it out of boxes in the garage, wash up, eat off of, wash again, then put away for just my hubby and me (the kids won’t be eating off of it for a few years yet).  But, if we had had but a single guest, I would have brought it out!  (I just noticed that whoever set the table put the spoons in the wrong place…again, if we’d had even one guest I would have double checked to make sure the table was set properly.)

Little Helpers

…..—–…..—–…..—–…..—–…..—–…..—–…..

We went ’round the table and each spoke of one thing we were particularly grateful for on this Thanksgiving day.

Our five-year-old answered “turkey,” and he got some….

I answered, a healthy body that is capable of running, because running makes me happy.  It was on my mind, as the whole family had run in the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot earlier in the day.  Hubby: 5K, Me: 10K, Boys: Fun Run

I set a new PR (personal record) in the 10K (6.2 miles) distance: 48:51

How I placed:

525 out of 4,118, overall

80 out of 2074, women

18 out of 370, age division (F 30-34)


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I had a few people say that they wanted the recipe to my pumpkin ice cream from this post.  Sorry it has taken me so long to get it up.  I had actually just improvised my ice cream on a whim, combining a simple vanilla recipe that I really like with a pumpkin recipe that I don’t really like.  Mine came out great, but unfortunately I didn’t write anything down as I went along.  Weese really wanted to try making it, so I gave her my improvised version to the best of my recollection, then she gave me the exact proportions that she used (as she was smart and actually wrote them down during the process).  So, without further adieu, pumpkin ice cream!  Thanks, Weese.

2 C heavy cream
1 C whole milk
3/4 C sugar
1 C pureed pumpkin
(I prefer to use freshly pureed pumpkin)
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t allspice
1/4 t cloves
1 drop red food coloring
2 drops yellow food coloring
I use a Cuisinart ice cream maker with the freezer bowl.
It’s simple, fast and easy!

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Straddling Seasons

We’ve been straddling seasons here in the Bay area.  In the midst of another heat wave this week…and with a little bit of leftover pumpkin puree in the fridge that I wasn’t sure what to do with…I decided that the best solution to both problems (heat when it should be cool, and leftover pumpkin) was to whip up a batch of pumpkin ice cream.  Seriously, we’ve reached the low 100s here in mid October, and in the summertime here it’s necessary to wear sweaters in the morning.  I am convinced that the “perfect” California Bay Area weather that I heard all about before moving here is a total farce!  (The climate is actually just confused.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pumpkin ice cream was delicious, though!

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My seven-year-old found this recipe in a kid magazine and insisted we make it.  Since I had most of the ingredients on hand and it looked pretty easy we made it for FHE.  I think the directions are for making one large cake, but I made five small individual servings instead.  The strawberries are from our garden…and they are very good, I might add.

1.  Wash your hands.  (My kids got a kick out of this being the first direction.  Huh, we really are supposed to wash before we handle food!)

2.  Cut a 5-inch square of watermelon, 3 inches thick.  (I just used a mini seedless melon…I was able to get five small stars, one per slice…about one inch thick…out of it.)

3.  Place the watermelon square on a cutting board.  Use a 4 1/2-  to 5-inch star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a star.  (My only star cookie cutter is pretty small, but the perfect size for individual kid servings.)

4. Set the star on a paper towel to drain for a few seconds.  Place the star on a serving dish.  (I was in a hurry and forgot to drain the watermelon stars.  I highly recommend not forgetting this step, as the watermelon juice will leak into the whipped cream and water it down if you do.)

5.  Carefully squeeze whipped cream around the bottom edge of the star.  Dot with blueberries.

6.  Squeeze whipped cream on top of the star cake.  Add raspberries, strawberries and blueberries to the top of the cake.  Dust with powdered sugar.  (I also forgot to dust with powdered sugar, but the cake was super yummy regardless!  I thought this would just be well received by the kids, but my husband actually commented that this is definitely a “make again.”)

So I think I posted this well enough in advance of the 4th of July for you to make this, unless of course you only check in here every two or three weeks now because I have become such a LAME blogger!

*This post is part of my week-long Independence Day series.

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Farewell Fall

pumpkiny boys

I will miss you.

Though I realize the official first day of Winter isn’t for another three weeks or so, in my mind Thanksgiving marks the end of Autumn.  My eldest woke me up yesterday morning to inform me that he had taken down all the Fall decorations and was ready to set up the Christmas tree, and that we did…a few hours later.

I will miss cooking and baking with my yummy little pie pumpkins (though I still have one left in the pantry, which will become our final pumpkin pie on Sunday).

Until next year…

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