Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pumpkin Puree

Yummy note: So if you are running behind like me, I FINALLY pureed up our little pumpkins that were sitting on our kitchen counter for decoration. We successfully grew a handful of little pumpkins this year in our garden box, so instead of carving them, as they were kind of small, I let the kids paint them. The kids painted the pumpkins with a non-toxic washable paint. I was able to easily clean the paint off and washed the pumpkins so that I could get them ready to head into the oven. I'm just happy the pumpkins were still nice and not mushy or spoiled and I'll have enough pumpkin puree for some thanksgiving dishes... If you have time try the homemade pumpkin puree out; it really tastes so much more wonderful using a freshly roasted pumpkin than some of the canned pumpkin. Also you'll notice the color, texture, and taste are just amazing.

Pumpkin Puree

Small pumpkins-- cleaned, cut in half, and seeded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare pumpkin by cutting of the top and removing the stem. Next, split open the pumpkin in half and clean out the pumpkin. Remove all of the fiber and seeds, leaving only the pumpkin flesh and skin. Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil and lay the pumpkin halves, flesh side down. Leave pumpkin uncovered in the oven to bake for about 30-45 minutes. Roast pumpkin pieces until a knife can be easily inserted/removed into the pumpkin skin in several places to ensure doneness. Once the flesh is tender and roasted, it is ready to take out of the oven. Let the pumpkin cool for a little bit until it is ok to touch. Remove the roasted flesh of the pumpkin from the skin using a knife or spoon even to peel back the skin. It should just fall off easily. Place in a blender, food processor, or a food mill. Process until the puree becomes smooth; this usually only takes a few minutes. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for later use in your favorite pumpkin dishes.

Note: I went ahead an measured out my portions before freezing them as it is easier to thaw that smaller portion for recipes. Muffin tin pans worked well for small portions. I got about 1/3 of a cup of puree in each. I frozen individual "cups" of pumpkin and then just packaged them up that way noting the measurement on the bag.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sloppy Joe Pizza

Yummy note: If you are anything like me, the Fall seems to be the crazy time of year around here; between school functions, various appointments and activities, the evening meal sometimes gets comprised. I hate to admit it, but there are a few of those busy nights where take out is handy.  I am always looking for quick midweek meals, so when I found these recipe from my Secret Recipe Club friend, Jamie from Our Eating Habits, she really nailed it with some fast, easy, not to mention kid friendly meals. I'm always looking to add another staple to our round of supper choices, and I think this one for Sloppy Joe Pizza captured a spot. :) We love making our own pizzas here, as it is so easy to customize; seriously, we love sloppy joes and pizza separately, so why haven't we tried making this Sloppy Joe Pizza at home before?!  Needless to say, it was delicious. Also, what a nice way to use up leftover sloppy joes and incorporate them in a new meal or if you are in a pinch and don't have pizza sauce, it is an easy replacement. After your pizza, make sure you stop by Our Eating Habits for some amazing dessert options. Jamie has a ton of homemade cupcake recipes and other desserts like the Rootbeer Float Cake or these festive Gingerbread cupcakes!

Sloppy Joe Pizza
Source: Our Eating Habits Sloppy Joe Pizza

2 tubes of refrigerated pizza crusts or your own homemade pizza dough
1 lb of ground beef or turkey
1 - 15 oz can of sloppy joe mix*
 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
grated parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top - up to 1/2 cup

*I didn't have a can of sloppy joe mix on hand, so instead, I just used my quick standby sloppy joe/bbq recipe here for Easy BBQ.


Prepare your sloppy joes by browning the meat and adding your choice of sloppy joe mix or ingredients to make a homemade version. Next, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare pizza dough and press into lightly greased cupcake pans for smaller mini pizzas or on a cookie sheet for larger pizzas. Pre-bake crust for a few minutes, 5-6 minutes for the smaller pizza cups or 7-8 minutes for a larger pizza. Basically just bake it just until the dough sets up a bit. Top each pizza with the sloppy joe mixture and then layer on the cheese. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Note: This recipe can be easily cut in half to use up leftovers! 

Prepare the Sloppy Joes. 

Gather the rest of the pizza ingredients.
To make a pizza non-dairy, Daiya cheese  is a good alternative to try. 
We ended up making some smaller mini pizza bites as well using cupcake pans.
Top the partially baked pizza crusts. 
All ready for the oven - individualized pizzas perfect for all! 

In just a few minutes, bubbly golden pizzas ready to enjoy. 
Sloppy Joe Pizzas!!  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Coconut Caramel--Dairy-free dulce de leche

Yummy note: With dairy-allergies in our family, I've been trying to figure out a substitute for caramel. I  like caramel with brownies, dip for apples, and so on.. So when I found this recipe for dairy-free dulce de leche the other day on the Bon Appetite website, I had to try it out. The results-- it was not as thick or creamy as some traditional caramel sauces are, but it was delicious still being dairy-free.  It seriously couldn't be any easier. Just a few ingredients and about 25-30 minutes, you have a coconut-flavored caramel sauce, and it's a done deal! 

Coconut Caramel - aka dairy-free dulce de leche

2 -14-ounce cans of unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar (packed)
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

Put coconut milk, brown sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Whisk together ingredients over medium heat until the brown sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Keep a low boil going on this mixture to keep it going. Continue until the mixture is reduced even more and beginning to turn thicker and darker in color. Stir mixture occasionally, roughly about 25-30 minutes. You should get about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of dulce de leche caramel when finished. Transfer sauce to small jars to cool. Cool completely, cover, and refrigerate. This coconut caramel will keep for 1 month chilled.

Whisk together, keep stirring occasionally. 

Starting to boil after a few minutes. 

It is starting to look like dulce de leche!  
Thick and slightly coconut-flavored caramel! 

Yummy Tip: Coconut milk opens MUCH easier when you look for the right "top" to open, haha. I tried opening what I thought was the top and it took forever, then I turned the can and saw an "OPEN" arrow on the bottom of the can... Oops..