Favorite Fall Foods...and Drink

Busy day today in the Kiernan kitchen. In between hugs from the (today) 10-month-old, playtime, feeding time, and glimpses of a football game, there was lots of cooking going on. Even though I am never a fan of the weather getting colder, snowier, windier, slushier, etc. in the fall, I am in love with the foods of the season. PUMPKIN is my favorite by far, but they are all good. And what comes after all of the 'Fall' foods? Oh, the Christmas foods...the spices, and the cookies, and the peppermint, and all of that. For now, I will focus on the Fall foods. I have been wanting to make pumpkin bread, but being on a sort-of healthy eating plan (or trying to be so that I can drop the last of the baby pounds) I did not think it wise to have a loaf (or 2) of hearty, sugary, Pumpkin Bread around the house. So I made the Cooking Light Magazine version, with a couple of changes...soooo good, and you would never be able to tell that it has been "lightened". This is what I did:

Pecan-Topped Pumpkin Bread

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup reduced-fat plain yogurt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
Cooking spray
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through allspice) in a bowl.
Place sugar, egg substitute, oil, yogurt, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add 2/3 cup water and pumpkin, beating at low speed until blended. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Spoon batter into 2 (9 x 5-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle pecans evenly over batter. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (Check the loaves at 50 minutes. You may need to cover the loaf with foil so that the top doesn't burn.) Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

I also made some mini Applesauce Muffins (for my little muffin). And what would be fall food without some squash? I have been inspired ever since I ate Jen's Savory Squash Ravioli at last week's Domestic Diva Gathering...I had to finish off the cooking/baking frenzy with a Butternut Squash Pasta Bake. Another 'light' dish, but filling dish, surprisingly.

20 oz package of peeled and cubed butternut squash
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
16 oz package whole wheat Penne pasta
1 1/4 cups fat free or 1% milk
2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tsp crushed thyme
1/2 cup reduced-fat or fat free ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375°.
Spread squash in a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Drizzle olive oil over squash. Sprinkle with allspice, salt, and pepper. Roast in oven for 20 to 30 minutes. When complete, transfer squash to a medium bowl and mash into a puree.
While squash is roasting, cook the pasta, following directions on package.
Combine milk, flour, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium sauce pan using a whisk. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in mashed squash and 2 tsp crushed thyme. Combine squash puree mix with drained pasta and mix well. Pour into a 2 1/2 quart casserole pan coated with cooking spray.
Top pasta with dollops of ricotta cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan and walnuts. Bake for 20 minutes, covered. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the top is slightly golden.

Steve and I enjoyed ours with my OTHER favorite Fall 'food'...delicious Pumpkin brew...Moira enjoyed hers with water :)!


Itty Bitty Freezer Paper Projects

I have been wanting to freezer-paper stencil some tops for Moira for a while and have been inspired by the fabric painting projects done by Angry Chicken and The Artful Parent that I found while searching for ways to dress up plain old T's, onesies, and other fabric thingies. I experimented a couple of months back on some old 'shorts' that I wore every time I went camping. I figured, "Hey, if I mess up the only person/thing that will see it is my family and the bears/deer/chipmunks." They turned out pretty well, so I now feel confident enough to stencil something that I would put Lil' Babes in.

I used some green striped, unisex, onesies that I got as a gift for Moira several months back...and yes, she is JUST fitting into them. With Halloween around the corner, I decided cats and pumpkins would be in line for my next freezer-paper stencil project. I got some ideas from clip art and the Internet but drew the designs myself...and since I was chomping at the bit to see how they would come out, and didn't get to the store to buy fabric paint in other colors, I just used the black fabric paint I had on hand. It truly is the easiest thing to do. Now I need to be careful not to start stenciling EVERYTHING that is without a pattern/design, embellishment in my/my husband's/Moira's closet. (I do wonder what my husband would say if he pulled out one of his work shirts and there was a stenciled A-S [Algonquin Studios] on it...hmmm.)

1. Draw and cut out your design onto the matte side of freezer paper using an exact-o knife.

2. Iron the freezer paper onto your fabric, shiny side facing the right side of the fabric. It helps to also put freezer paper onto the inside of the fabric, shiny side facing the wrong side, so that your paint doesn't bleed through.

3. Paint inside of the stencil with a stencil brush or sponge.

4. Let dry overnight.

5. Peel away freezer paper and iron over your design one last time. Ta-Da! You are all set to go...


Leaves...Lots and Lots of Leaves

With the cold weather coming and going, and rainy days here and there, I have been inspired to start the fall crafts and homemade Christmas gift frenzy. However, with limited time in my day that can be dedicated to such things, it has been slow going. In the past couple of weeks, I have (almost) finished Moira's Halloween costume...YAY...and it isn't even the middle of October yet! And for some fall home decor, I made this wreath from Dollar Tree supplies.
I suppose I could add some ribbon or some other trim to it, but I love the simple, yet chaotic, look of it. This one will stay just as it it...and I will likely make more...This is what I did:

1. Got my supplies from Dollar Tree--one floral wreath form and several bags of artificial leaves. I bought several but you probably only need 2 or 3. You will need a glue gun or craft glue to stick the leaves on. I started with straight pins and finished with a glue gun.

2. Start from the inside bottom of the wreath and pin/glue your leaves around one side. Once at the 'top', start back at the bottom and pin/glue your leaves around the other side. Remember to overlap your leaves. Keep doing this, working inside to outside, up each side, unitl the wreath form is covered.

3. Fill in empty or thin spaces with leaves. I liked keeping my leaves all facing in the same direction...down toward the center.

4. Find a fabulous place for your fall wreath...and something to do with the left-over leaves!