Hearty {and Healthy} Autumn Bread

One of the highlights of autumn is the availability of fresh pumpkin.  I just love selecting the prettiest pumpkins at the market, not only to decorate with, but to cook with as well!  Most people assume the only pumpkins you can cook with are the sweet little pie pumpkins, but that is absolutely not the case!
Those beautiful blue tinted Cinderella pumpkins?  
 
How about those large pale orange pumpkins that are just so elegant in a more formal setting?
 
Or the warty looking bright orange pumpkins?

And we can’t forget the simple white ghost pumpkins!

 

Each with their own slightly different and unique flavor, you can cook with all of them!I know you are wondering what you can do with that many pumpkins, so here are a few ideas.

First cook and puree your pumpkins.
{You can find instructions for that here}

With pureed pumpkin you have the basis for several dishes from maple/pumpkin oatmeal, cookies, or muffins to Thanksgiving dessert!

You can also make pumpkin butter

curried pumpkin bisque

a healthy pumpkin pie

or a very unhealthy (but absolutely delicious) pumpkin cheesecake, which uses the pumpkin butter that I posted just above.

That’s a lot of pumpkin recipes for just a few weeks of autumn holidays!

But I have one more that hits the spot as another healthy idea for using your pumpkins this fall.

A delicious Autumn bread!  I love this for so many reasons.
One serving (6-8 ounces) makes a quick breakfast or snack when I am on the run as it has a balanced proportion of protein and carbs.  It is very filling which keeps me from having the munchies between meal times.

It’s also a versatile recipe as you can make muffins (miniature or standard size) for grab & go access or to pack in school lunches.

Yes, it’s a healthy recipe that even my kiddos enjoy!

Ingredients:

4 Cups Organic Oat Flour
4 Cups Egg Whites (I prefer fresh, but you can use egg whites in the carton)
2 Cups fresh pumpkin puree
1/4- 1/3 Cup sweetener … I prefer Sweet N Low (depending on how sweet you like it)
4 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons Vanilla extract

**You can also add 1 1/2 Tablespoons cinnamon if you would like

Simple to assemble:  Thoroughly mix all ingredients together in a large bowl (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle attachment) and pour into a bread pan (or muffin pan if your prefer) sprayed with PAM.  This makes a very thick batter and does not rise like a typical bread, so fill your pan nearly full.

Place into a preheated oven at 400 degrees.

Bake about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in several places comes out clean.  This is a moist bread.  If you make muffins, bake about 6-8 minutes.

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A few notes to help you out…

**For the oat flour you can purchase this in many of your grocery stores….

or you can make your own by pureeing unsweetened oatmeal in a food processor.

**Also, when you purchase vanilla extract, make sure you pick up vanilla that does NOT have high fructose corn syrup.  Just read the ingredients or there are brands that specify that it does not contain it.

**My decorative bread pan came from Williams-Sonoma, but any standard size bread pan will work.

**I have not tried this in a bread machine, so I recommend using the oven for best results.
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After you have removed your bread from the oven, allow to cool completely on a cooling rack before wrapping it up.  This will keep your bread from becoming soggy and dough like.

Wrap and save to serve for breakfast one morning, or eat a bite immediately!  It’s delicious warm or at room temperature!

From a family picnic last weekend

Enjoy!

 

{Pumpkin Cheesecake} Cooking with Pumpkins pt. 4

Happy Thanksgiving week!  
I don’t know about you, but I am super excited about all this week has to offer!  From family time to football play-offs to date night out with the hubby, I feel like a little kid!  I think we have our menu all set (Momma will be doing most of our cooking), the kids are counting days until a long weekend and I am treasuring a rare week my hubby will be working in town (and enjoying vacation time off as well!).
One of our most favorite treats this time of year and a must-have on our Thanksgiving menu is a pumpkin cheesecake.  Audley has been patiently waiting for the moment I make this scrumptious dessert, and one of my brothers-in-law has insisted I will make favorite sis-in-law status if I bring this delectable dish to Thanksgiving dinner!
{Don’t you know I will own that special status?!}
 
I love to make this cheesecake, and it really is so easy as well as delicious!
Ingredients:
For the crust….
2 cups Graham cracker crumbs
5 Tablespoons butter, melted
For the cheesecake…..
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
2/3 cup brown sugar (I used Splenda brown sugar)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin butter
For the topping…..
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons soften butter
Let’s cook it!
**In a small bowl mix together the graham cracker crumbs and 5 tablespoons melted butter.  Press this mixture into a 10-inch springform pan that you have sprayed with PAM.  It should make a crust that covers the bottom of the pan only.
** In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese (brought to room temp), eggs, brown sugar and pumpkin butter.
(I didn’t let my cream cheese come to room temp which left my batter lumpy…. but it was still good!)
Pou over your prepared crust.
**Bake in the oven at 350 degree until the center is set, about an hour and ten minutes.  You can stick a toothpick in the center and check it as you would a cake.
**While the cheesecake is baking, mix together the softened butter, brown sugar and pecans to make a topping.  If you want to cover the entire cheesecake with the topping, double your recipe, but as sweet as it is, I just prefer to use it as a garnishing in the center.
**Remove the cheesecake front the oven, and cool about 10 minutes before taking a butter knife and gently run it along the inside of the pan, separating the cheesecake from the springform pan.  Carefully remove the ring so that the cheesecake is released.
**Garnish the top of the cheesecake with the pecan mixture and let come to room temp (unless you have that one person that loves their cheesecake hot and melty).
You can see where I didn’t let my cream cheese come to room temp before blending … ooops. 
**Slice and serve it up!
I hope you have enjoyed my handful of pumpkin posts this Thanksgiving season.  Everyone buys pumpkins for decoration, but often forget they are quite delicious as well!
If you missed one on the posts you can click on each tittle and check them out:
How will you spend your Thanksgiving week?
Linking up with On the Menu Monday today.
 

{Pumpkin Pie} Cooking with Pumpkins pt. 3

With all of the progress I have made in my journey to a healthier me, I have really been working on some ways to make this Thanksgiving enjoyable without messing up the momentum I have going.  I’ve lost 65 pounds at this point and personally I never intend to go back to the dark pit I’ve emerged from.
I have really been thinking of different ways to keep things healthy for all of us at Thanksgiving, skipping the table full of sweets, and planning to have delicious options available.
Doesn’t that look fabulous?!
But, it is Thanksgiving after all, and pumpkin pie will be on the menu.  If it’s not, I have a 13 year old who will have my neck!  For years I have made a decadent pumpkin pie that is always a family favorite, but also very high in calories and fat.  After playing with my recipe quite a bit, I finally fixed a pie that my skeptical husband didn’t want to share with anyone else!
SUCCESS!!
So here is my altered pumpkin pie.
2 Cups pureed pumpkin {click here for instructions for fresh pumpkin}
1 can Fat Free Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
6 egg whites
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
Combine all ingredients well using a hand mixer.  Prepare your pie crust in an 8-inch pie pan.
{I cheated and used a Pilsbury pie crust for my pie}
When preparing the pie crust I always poke a few holes in the bottom so it can “breathe”.
Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pie crust.
I like to take the extra dough to make a decorative crust for my pies.  You can braid an edge, or use miniature cookie cutter and cut out leaves to surround the pan.  It just gives your pie a little personality.
 Bake at 350 until center is set; about 30 minutes.  You can check for doneness using a toothpick inserted into the center.  If it comes out clean, your pie is ready.
**Add a dollop of freshly whipped cream which adds to the flavor, or make just the pumpkin filling and bake it without a crust for an even lower calorie casserole type dish.
What is on your menu this Thanksgiving?

{Pumpkin Butter} Cooking with Pumpkins pt. 2

Sometimes I think pumpkin is a forgotten delight that is only appropriate served in the fall.  Honestly I love it all year long, but I do not care for it from a can.  This is why when pumpkins hit the market I cook up as many as possible and preserve what I can for use during the year!This is of course after I have decorated with them.

 

One of my favorite treats to make with fresh pureed pumpkin is pumpkin butter.  I know, it’s not a commonly heard of item and is only found at Cracker Barrel & grocery stores during the fall, but Pumpkin Butter is so good!
And, it’s super easy to make!

 

3 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
3/4 cup apple cider
2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups white sugar
Don’t you just love the color of fall spices?

If you need a refresher on making pumpkin puree, click here for Cooking with Pumpkins part 1.

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan; stir well.  Bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently.
Transfer to sterilized jars or freezer containers.  Store in the refrigerator until using.
Will keep for 6 months in the refrigerator, if you process it.  The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends that you not keep it (or any winter squash) that has been pureed in a pantry, unless you pressure can it.

**If you just ladle into jars for use, it only keeps about three weeks.
Serve it up on hot biscuits or bagels, on your oatmeal, on Brie cheese, on a sandwich, on muffins, or my personal favorite, in pumpkin cheesecake!
But, You’ll have to wait on that recipe!
Linking up with Foodie Friday & On the Menu Monday this week!