Tag Archives: pumpkin

Gluten Free Pumpkin Fries

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Fries

Tomorrow shall be a BIG adventure for our little one.  We are off to a pumpkin farm with her Aunt Kari.  Pumpkins are a big theme around here. I’m not sure that Zoe will actually let me cut into the pumpkin she picks out to make a Jack-O-Latern with her.  She won’t let me touch the two little ones that she has now.   The other day she wanted to draw a face on the little pumpkins but when she saw that the marker wouldn’t come off, she wigged.  No pumpkin coloring for her yet.  Maybe when she sees ALL of us cutting and carving pumpkins, she will change her mind.  I’m willing to bet that she will be thrilled to see me carve *my* pumpkin but that she is not going to allow a knife anywhere near her pumpkin.

Case in point:  the pumpkin fries.

I bought two small pumpkins (about 2 pounds each, I think) to make pumpkin fries.  Zoe likes squash so I though she might like to try these pumpkin fries.  However, when I went to cut the pumpkins, she wasn’t happy.  In fact, I had to put the pumpkins aside and get her occupied doing something else.  Like play with her lavender-orange scented rice with scoops and funnels.

Playing with textures
Playing with textures by Kate Chan

Looking on

Then, and only then, could I start peeling and chopping.  Once she saw me happily peeling and preparing the pumpkin fries, there was no problem. She wanted to see the inside “guts” of the pumpkin and we talked about roasting the seeds, etc.

Zoe snuggled up next to my legs drinking her juice and munching on GF cheese crackers as I was prepping the pumpkins. And Rory was in a bouncing chair nearby watching it all go down and cooing away. It brought back memories of standing on chairs around our kitchen table as a kid while I scooped out the pumpkin I was going to carve.  I thought about how much fun I will have when both girls are old enough to carve pumpkins around the kitchen table with me.  Oh, the joy of two little ones.  I just hope time doesn’t steal all of the good opportunities away from me with it’s speed.

I’m going back to work a week from today.  It’s killing me.  Every second that I can, I am listening to the girls.  Rory’s little coos are enough to make time stop and fairies rejoice.  Zoe’s stories keep me company everywhere we go.  She and I headed to the cell phone store (again…really obnoxious third visit in five days….grrrrr) and she kept me laughing the entire ride, wait and trip home.  She tells great jokes (okay… repeating the same joke 700 times really does wear you down and make you laugh more somedays) and she loves to learn.  Both of these girls are the absolute joys of our lives.

Leaving the tiny moments to return to the ebb and flow of traffic, “to do” lists, papers to grade, lessons to write, emails to answer, etc has me just at the edge of breaking.  I can’t imagine what I will miss with them.  I don’t want to even think about it.  I can’t.  It hurts too much.  Instead, I am just trying to take comfort in the times that we will be together and the plans and things that we can do together then.  After all, I am incredibly lucky to be a teacher in the sense that I will have more time with my girls than some friends of mine who work a full calendar year.  I’m just worried about the fact that a teacher’s job doesn’t end when the school day does.  I work until 11PM sometimes and usually on Sundays too.  I’m worried about the impact on my family and my girls.. and to me, to a lesser extent.  I am definitely in need of setting some different professional expectations for myself as well.

I want more time with my kids.

More time to play in the buckets of rice.

More time to watch the seasons changing and teach them about the leaves changing colors, etc.

More time to cook and eat healthy food at a normal paced and not rushing through everything.

More time to listening to the stories that bloom from our days and adventures together.

More time to hear the coos turn into words and into stories of their own.

Just more time.

We all want that, don’t we?

So I guess I will just seize the opportunities as they come and as we make them.  Like making pumpkin fries and talking about Halloween when I was little with them.  And for those of you who are curious, Zoe is not interested in dressing up this year for Halloween.  She doesn’t think it sounds like fun (yet) to be wearing a costume or a wig or make up, etc.  Ah well, more time for me to savor my little one at home.  (And honestly?  MUCH less temptation to eat too!  We are giving out mini Play-doh containers.  Those leftovers will surely be loved to bits by the girls and my high school students.  LOL)

Since it is pumpkin season, now is the time to make your own pumpkin fries and relive or create some memories.  I made two batches of oven baked fries.  One was savory and the other cinnamon-sweet.  Both will enjoyed by Zoe and I.  We highly recommend you giving them a try yourself too!

Cutting pumpkin fries

Cutting pumpkin fries, Photo by Kate Chan

Gluten Free Pumpkin Fries

Ingredients (per batch)
1 two pound + pie pumpkin

for Savory fries:
olive oil
salt
pepper
optional: ground garlic, ground ginger

for Sweet fries:
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Optional:  1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Peel and scoop our pumpkin.
  3. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Cut pumpkin into fries.  (I cut mine into 3-4 inch long sticks that are about 1/2 inch thick.)
  5. Toss one pound of the cut fries in a tiny bit (maybe 1 tablespoon, or two?) of olive oil with salt and pepper (to taste).  Consider tossing in some of your other favorite spices combinations like:  ground garlic +ground ginger, cumin + fennel, etc.
  6. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar.  Toss the remaining pumpkin fries in the cinnamon sugar mix.
  7. Spread savory fries out in a single layer on one prepared cookie sheet and the sweet fries on another.
  8. Bake the fries in the oven for 20 minutes.  Then remove the pans.  Flip the fries over.  When you return the fries to the oven, be sure to rotate the pans as well.  Whichever was on the top shelf, move to the bottom and vice versa.  Continue baking another 15 – 25 minutes or until the fries are crispy and a deep golden brown color on the edges and the top.

Enjoy with your favorite meal – or eat them for dinner like Z & I did!

Happy Gluten Free Eating!
~Kate

Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins

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GF Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins

GF Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins, Photo by Kate Chan

Last week I couldn’t get enough pumpkin…. or chocolate… or sleep.  But that last one is definitely not worth blogging about (unless any of you have tips on easing a toddler out of nightmares or getting a baby to sleep longer than 6 hours a night – my ears are open!).

The Chicklet and her little sis The Peanut are definitely getting into more of a routine around here.  It’s often synchronous.  But the moments of synchronicity do not involve ones that are easy for Momma.  Other functions of theirs (those that would make Momma’s life easier) are out of whack.  For example: bodily functions/needs?  Synchronous.  Sleep?  Not so much.  Sometimes these asynchronous moments are the best of the best moments of the day, however.  I get time with each of them without the other feeling slighted or in need of attention when I can’t give it.  But mostly, it just keeps me busy, busy, busy, busy….. you get the picture.  I am fearful of the sheer exhaustion I am bound to feel when I return to work in a couple of weeks.  It makes me sad just to think about losing time with my girls and never getting these moments back.  But I have to work.  That’s just the way it is.  After all, diapers, wipes, and formula are not funded by the trees in my backyard.  No matter how hard I might wish that were true.

So, instead of being an Eeyore, the girls and I are seizing upon the time given and running with it.  This means that Zo and I are often in the kitchen creating something new (oh man – we’ve been on a roll lately too!) or in the living room creating new sensory experiences of my little wet-dirty-messy-phobic girl.  (Something tells me my mom never had to encourage me to get messy, by the way.)

Zoe has a new found love of pumpkins.  She points them out to me everywhere we go (much like a broken record until you acknowledge the appearance of yet another pumpkin).  Gosh, I’m glad it’s Halloween the season for pumpkins around here.  We are able to spot find them  at every intersection, store, package, flyer in the mail, and crack in the cement.  (I bet you don’t have a pumpkin-shaped crack in your driveway, do you?  I didn’t know we had one until the other day.  To be sure, I’m not certain we DO have one… but Zoe insists that it is out there…. somewhere.)

The other day, we made those delicious pumpkin pancakes because of her obsession with both pumpkins and the book.  The reason why I even had pumpkin (canned at the time, until she ate her way through that with pancakes, muffins, and yogurt-pumpkin smoothies) was because she spotted it at the grocery store

Cute grocery cart

Photo by MississippiMom on Flickr

Since she has been requesting to ride in the “special carts” at the grocery store, she has eye-level access to A LOT of things.  Thankfully, we skip a ton of the crap-filled gluten-filled aisles and hit the main drags and produce sections most often.  Truthfully, I hate these grocery carts.  It feels much like you are pushing a small bus without any turn radius down the aisle.  We used to indulge Zo when we would go out with these rides every once in a while.  She loves them.  But once Rory came along, there was no other option if I am alone.

Sometimes I carry Rory in a Beco baby carrier but sometimes…. it’s just too much.  I can’t bend over and get things off the bottom shelves very well with her in the carrier, so it’s not always the best option.  Putting the car seat on top of the traditional seat in the cart and Zo in the front of this thing makes seeing where I’m going nearly impossible.  Case in point:  two days ago I apparently pushed an orange caution cone about 50 yards before someone pointed it out to me.  Nice.  Zoe’s new job?  Advise mom BEFORE she hits something rather than sit in the Screamer-pose traumatized by the cone for 50 yards AFTER she hits something.  (Ooops.)

After that, we turned that freakishly giant cart around and Momma picked up two little sugar pumpkins to make some pumpkin fries (both savory and another bunch of sweet ones) for the babe.  Those were delicious too.  (That post will have to wait for another day.)  But the recipe we enjoyed that afternoon were these Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins.  OH, delightful!  They have just enough chocolate to let me ease my way out of guilty-Momma from the morning’s trauma (not the only one, mind you… she did get knocked down after walking in to a swinging door… and I couldn’t get to her in time).  BUT, it also has some decent whole grains and pumpkin to boot – so I don’t add to my guilt to think I’m serving complete junk to my babe.

Oh!  I am rambling today!  You didn’t come here for my ramble.  Just the recipe, right?  K… moving on then.  Here’s the recipe.  Do let me know how you like them!

Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 12 standard muffins

Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/3 cup pureed pumpkin
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 – 1/2 cup of milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 cup GF flour mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks
1/3 cup cocoa nibs

Directions:

  1. Preheat your over to 375F.
  2. Cream together butter, cream cheese and sugar.  Add pumpkin and mix again.
  3. Add eggs and 1/3 cup of milk.  Mix again.  (Reserve the remaining milk for the end, if you need it at all.)
  4. Add vanilla, cinnamon, salt, GF flour mix, baking powder and cocoa powder.  Mix again.
  5. Check your consistency.  If  it is thin (like cake batter) DON’T add the extra milk.  If it is thicker than a regular muffin batter, add the remaining milk.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chunks and cocoa nibs.
  7. Fill muffin cups 2/3 of the way.
  8. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until completely baked through and set.  (A toothpick test should only have ooey-gooey chocolate from the melted chunks, not batter goo if they are done.)  Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 – 10 minutes before eating.

Try NOT to eat them all in the same day.  We barely managed to do that.  (Thank goodness!)

Happy GF Chocolate AND Pumpkin Joy from our house to yours!
~Kate

Gluten Free: Pumpkin Cottage Cheese Pancakes

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes

Gluten Free Pumpkin-Cottage Cheese Pancakes, Photo by Kate Chan

I spend my days reading books, digging little hands into lavender-orange oil scented brown rice in a big bucket, coloring, finger painting, singing, and finding joy in everyday objects and things.  I am saddened that when I wrote out the October calendar on our family calendar that my “return to work” day no longer looms in the future – but is now clearly marked on the calendar.  Rather than rue the fact that I have to  return to my role of working mom, I will consider myself lucky.  I have, after all, had the pleasure of TWO maternity leaves in a mere 15 months.  In addition, not everyone is lucky enough to have the same breaks with their kids as I will.  So rather than worry about the incredible amount of hours I will have to put in shortly (I’m teaching a new course…that has NO curriculum and NO text (EEEEK!) this year),  I will just seize on the remaining memory-making moments to keep them alive.

Lately, Zoe’s latest obsessions have included the “If You Give A..” book series by Laura Numeroff.  These books tell a simple, circular story.  (And they feel quite repetitive – as they are, purposefully.)  Most of them include an animal and some type of food.  Her first beloved book from this series was “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie“.  And then came “If You Give a Moose a Muffin“.  But now?  Now she is into reading “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” and “If You Take a Mouse to the Movies“.  I’m sure you are wondering why I am telling you all this.  Here’s the reality:  if you read it or see it, the Chicklet wants to reenact it.  It is humorous to react our adventures – like we are trying to reenact her riding the merry-go-round in our living room or Super Grover swimming in a pool in the hallway, etc.

Amazingly, the Chicklet has never taken a shining to bread goods (not such a bad deal considering her Celiac momma!).  She doesn’t really care for bread, muffins, pancakes, etc.  She will take a couple nibbles of cookie or cake.  Don’t worry: she does have a sweet tooth!  Ice cream is definitely her thing.   It’s fabulous when I offer her a “treat” she will opt for a steamed soy milk with some vanilla flavoring. (Tastes just like marshmallow, if you ask me.)  But now she wants to bake all of these goodies.  For breakfast, instead of making puffy pancakes, I made these richer, denser pumpkin-cottage cheese pancakes for her to her absolute delight.  (She likes the mung bean pancakes we make, but not the fluffy traditional pancake that most of us know.)

She stood next to me on a chair while we whipped together all the goodies to make the batter.  She stirred her own little bowl of flours and water.  She helped flipped the pancakes.  but better yet:  she even did the dishes with me!

Doing the dishes!

She chowed down the pancakes with glee and raced to do the dishes.  In fact, she asked for these same pancakes the following morning as well.  I think we’ve found a winner of a recipe – and I have a delightful dishwasher to boot!

Maybe you have a friendly dishwasher or pancake lover that wishes for a little Fall-inspired morning goodness?  The sweet pumpkin here really enhances the pancake batter even though there isn’t a ton of it.  And the cinnamon could be enhanced even more with ground ginger to add a little zing (like we did the morning after these photos were taken).     I hope you get a moment to enjoy these pancakes too.  There are definitely a staple for us now.

Gluten Free Pumpkin-Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Recipe based on the plain cottage cheese pancakes we make.
Recipe makes 10-12 small pancakes.

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup pumpkin, pureed
1/3 cup gluten free flour mix
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey or sugar
a pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients well.  (The Chicklet loves to use our mini-blender for this job.  LOL)
  2. Heat a nonstick-pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Pour 1/4 cup of batter (or less, if making small kid-friendly pancakes) into the pan (fit as many as your pan holds 3? 4?).
  4. Cook each over medium-high heat until all of the bubbles have risen and the majority of them have popped – about 3-4 minutes.  Flip the pancakes and cook the other side an addition 3-4 minutes or until all of steam stops.
  5. Serve with powdered sugar, maple syrup or your favorite pancake toppings.  (We loved adding sliced bananas to these and rolling them up.)

Happy Gluten Free Pancake munching!
~Kate

PS.  And Zoe would like to recommend that you have a little read-a-thon of “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” while munching.  Much like you would read the back of a cereal box while munching too.  I don’t know what we will cook next.  She is currently becoming fascinated with a book I used when teaching elementary school:  ”The Z Was Zapped: A Play in Twenty-Six Acts” by Chris Van Allsburg.  Who knows what we will be making from that one!  I’m sure she will come up with something.