Pumpkin Bread

By Stephanie

The flavor of the week is……..

P U M P K I N!!!

I went to the pumpkin patch with my youngest kido and her preschool.  I bought my first sweet pumpkin.  I took it home and cut it up (saving the seeds of course, I am not wasting anything!).  Then I pricked each piece and put it into a large bowl with 1 Tbsp of water and covered with clear plastic wrap.  Then microwave on high between 8-12 minutes each pieces.  When done set aside to cool.  The skin will peel right off.  Then blend or process to make puree.  I had a small pumpkin and it made 4-5 cups puree.  Not bad and WAY cheaper than buying it in a can.  And yes, you can use butternut squash instead.  Sugar pumpkin smells and tastes exactly the same!!

Now you have do decide what to make.  Regular pumpkin pie is not my favorite.  I love my pumpkin cookies.  But I wanted to do something different.  You HAVE to try this.  I would have loaded it up with nuts….but kido with nut allergy stopped me.  But you go ahead.  Or craisins would be a nice add.  You can add a handful of chocolate chips, but I am also not a fan of chocolate and pumpkin (I know, I am probably the only one!!)   This makes two loafs.  But only eat one….wait till I show you what you can do with the second loaf….


Pumpkin Bread:

1 C butter, softened

3 c sugar

3 eggs

1 16 oz can pumpkin

3 c flour

1 Tbsp  baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda 

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg (or I used 4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice)

Cream together sugar and butter.  Add eggs one at a time.  Once eggs are in beat on high for 2-3 minutes scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Add pumpkin.  Mix dry ingredients together.  Add in slowly just till combined.  Pour into two regular loaf pans (greased) and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.


Chicken Etouffee

By Stephanie

My dear friend has a husband that is going to school for agriculture.  He gets lots of grown stuff that they have left over.  They sent us home with a TON of green peppers, jalapenos, tomatoes and leeks.  I found this recipe on tasty kitchen.  I have NO idea what an Etouffee is, but I was intrigued.  And I was excited to do something new.  It looked yummy but I changed a few things so here is my version.  And it did turn out SUPER yummy!!  It would be great with shrimp instead of chicken, maybe next time….



Chicken Etouffee

1/2 cup butter

1/2 onion

4 cloves garlic

2 green bell peppers, diced

2 stocks celery diced

5 tomatoes diced

1 Tbsp Tomatoes paste

1/2 tsp thyme

1 tsp basil



1/4 tsp cayenne

pinch of cloves, coriander and cumin

1/2 cup flour

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless cut into 1” pieces

1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

3 cups chicken stock

3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

In large stock pot melt butter over medium heat.  Add in peppers, celery, onion and garlic and salt and pepper (I used 1 tsp each).  Let them cook down until veges are soft (about 5-7 minutes).  Add in the rest of spices and cook about 30 seconds.  Add in flour and stir to cook flour.  About another 5 minutes.  Push stuff in pot to outsides and add in chicken.  Stir every few minutes until chicken is starting to cook.  Add in tomatoes and cook another few minutes.  Add in stock and stir.   Add in Worcestershire sauce and turn down to simmer about 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  Add in cheese and serve over rice.


Frozen meal group

By Stephanie

If you have never tried being in a group where you “swap” meals, I am hoping to inspire you.  There are hundreds of ways to do this, but I will share the way  that I do like to do the meals. 

Find six friend with similar family size and kidos ages.  I don’t know why but 6 seems to be the magic number. 

Then decide on 20 meals.  We make a list of chicken, beef,  pork and vegetarian so you get a good variety. Otherwise it seems you end up with 18 chicken dishes.  Make sure you are thinking of the season you are going into.  Like if it is spring, think of grilling recipes.  Almost any recipe can be converted into a freezer meal.  The only things we have found that totally don’t work are heavy cream and raw potatoes.  And we try not to have more than two or three of meals that need to go into pans, like enchiladas or lasagna. The rest go in gallon freezer zip top bags.  You put them into your freezer with two paper towels in between laid flat. 

It helps to have software that figures out your grocery list.  Allrecipies has one and the one I use is called advantage cooking.  But I am sure there are others. 

Start thinking about getting a group together. Over the next week I will give you the details of how mine works. 



by Stephanie

Ok.  I have a few obsessions.  Jessica Simpson shoes are one.  And hounds tooth is another one.  Combine them both and what do you get……..


I can’t blow it up or it gets fuzzy…but it you want to buy some click here


Brown Butter Brownies

By Stephanie

These are ridiculous!  Serious.  Don’t even figure out the fat content…just make them and enjoy. 

Brownies for some reason, are something I have always had trouble with.  I can remember as a kid making brownies and the NEVER turned out right.  That is still usually the case.  So I hardly ever make them.  However a friend sent this too me and OH BABY.  They are dense and fudgy and I am totally hooked. 



Brown Butter Brownies

Makes 12

10 TABLESPOONS (yes, I know) butter

pinch salt

1 1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup flour

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1 cup chopped nuts (Optional)

1/2 c chocolate chips

In large sauté pan melt butter of medium heat without stirring.  You can occasionally swirl pan but don’t stir.  Continue doing this until butter is brown and smells nutty.  Let cool slightly.  In large mixing bowl add in sugar, cocoa powder, salt and flour.  Add in melted butter and stir just until combine.  Add in eggs one at a time and stir about 20 times.  Add in vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts if using.  Pour into a 8X8 pan.  I put two sheets of tin foil so they make a + in the bottom of the pan with the sides overhanging so that you can pull it out of the pan.  Spray with non-stick spray.  Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.  Do not overcook.  When done pull brownies out of pan to let cool so they don’t overtake especially in a glass pan.  Cut into 12 squares and TRY not to eat them all!!


Mac and Cheese with Veges

By Stephanie

I combined two recipes I had to make this.  The one is from America’s Test Kitchen…love them!  The second was from my friend D’Neil (shout out to the Hobb’s now in Texas).  You can add in some chicken like I did, or leave it out and make it vegetarian.  Up to you.  And just use what veges you have.  I like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and zucchini, but lots of other veges will work.


Mac and Cheese with Veges

serves 6-8

1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

3 3/4 cups water

3 cups elbow macaroni noodles

1 tsp cornstarch

4 cups shredded cheese (I like 2 cups monetary and 2 cups sharp cheddar)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1” pieces

3-4 cups veges chopped into 1” pieces

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

salt and pepper

Into large stock pot put all of evaporated milk, leaving out 1/4 cup, water and about 1 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stirring occasionally.  Add in vegetables and macaroni noodles and cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente.  Do NOT overcook.

In separate medium sauté pan heat pan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp. oil and then add chicken.  Season chicken with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Cook on each side until golden, but not cooked through.  Add in chicken and juices in pan to noodles.

Take 1/4 cup reserved milk and add in cornstarch to mix.  Add into pan with noodles, veges and chicken.  Cook about 1 minute to thicken.  Take off heat.   Add in nutmeg, cayenne and cheeses.  Stir to combine and melt cheeses.   Put lid on for about 5 minutes and then serve immediately. 


Thyroid meds and eye sight

by Stephanie

Another Avery update.  She is doing great.  We had a few appointments last week in Seattle.  Her Endocynologist put her on a low dose of a thyroid med.  She was borderline low.  WOW!!  What a difference that made!  She was functioning at about 40-50% of her normal energy.  I thought this was all due to the fact they had done BRAIN SURGERY!  But once she was on the thyroid meds for a few days she skyrocketed to 90%.  Seriously!  It was amazing.  She is suppose to take it on an empty stomach with no milk products until it is digested.  So when I get up to take my 12 year old to school,  I wake her up to take it (and then she goes right back to sleep for about an hour).  By the time she gets up for the day, she can eat cereal and not worry. 

One of her doctors, Dr. Manuel Ferreira, Jr. (click for more info on him)  met with us and went over her scans.  He normally works at HarborView (an adult hospital) but he was called in to help with her surgery.  He was one of the two main surgeons.  (He is amazing!!)  He told us that they tumor was the size of a GOLF BALL!  We had heard it was about the size of your thumb.  I don’t know about you, but my thumb is a LOT smaller than a golf ball.  It kind of took my breath away.  Also her optic chiasm, where the two sets of optic nerves cross, is still located behind her right eye, where is was pushed by her tumor.  I asked if this will go back, “maybe” was the answer. 

I also said we thought that her sight had been slowly going and she probably didn’t have peripheral vision for a long time.  “For sure” was Dr. Ferreira’s answer.  He said with the amount of displacement (how far it had moved) the optic nerves would have been very slowly moved there.  Otherwise she would have been completely blind if it had happened any faster.  So YES, I let my 8 year old play softball with NO peripheral vision!  Scary.  But she functions just fine, because this is the amount of sight that she has had for a LONG time.  We still won’t know for another 4 to 5 months how much of this is permanent. 



By Stephanie

So I made the berry crumble that I had posted before.  I used rhubarb and strawberry before.  This time I used blackberries.  Blackberries grow wild up here.  There are kind of a pain to pick..literally.  They have lots of thorns and I also got into some stinging nettle…fun.  But, I ended up with enough for a small batch of jam, two pies, this crisp and enough to make two more pies or crisp in the freezer.  Yay!

Instead of the pepper, I used cardamom and about 1 tsp nutmeg and the full amount of pine nuts.  It was AMAZING.  Even my 12 year old said it was one of my top 5 desserts.  Which is saying something since we have dessert all the time!!



Berry Crumble

Serves 8-12

for crumble

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup pine nuts (I could only afford 1/2 cup so that is what I used)

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup sugar

1 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cardamom

2/3 cup butter, melted

In large mixing bowl mix everything but butter.  Stir to combine.  Add in butter and mix until all flour is wet and combined.  Press down into bowl and put in freezer while you make the berry part.

4 cups blackberries, washed

1 cup sugar

2 Tbsp flour

Put berries  in greased 9X13 pan.  Combine sugar and flour.  Sprinkle over berry mixture and toss to coat.  Then get crumble mixture out of freezer and drop in clumps onto berries  leaving some clumps big and others little.  Put into 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes until fruit is bubbling and top is golden and crisp. 

Serve warm with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream or sweetened whip cream