Whoopie! Oops! Thank Goodness!

We had plans to go to friends for dinner over the weekend and they asked me to bring a dessert.  I rarely make the same dessert twice.  Why, when there’s so many to
try?  I happened to buy a Whoopie Pie cookbook (Love Foods, UK, Paragon Books).
Yes, I have too many cookbooks, but this one was screaming at me with a $3.99 price tag as I stood in line at my local bookstore.  I decided to make two seasonal options – gingerbread and pumpkin.
I made the pumpkin cookies the night before we were going to eat them.  However I waited until the day of the dinner to fill.  My plan was to fill them as I made the gingerbread batch the next day about an hour before we were expected at our friends’.  Well, after quite a bit of time in the oven I realized the oven wasn’t actually on.  Yes, I did turn it on.  I tried what I thought as rebooting – turning on and off, but nothing.  I even got out the manual, with no help there either.  “Whoopie!”
Became “Oops!”  I called my friends and warned them I’d be bringing my cookie sheets to finish the whoopies at her house.

My friend’s oven saved dessert.  Both the pumpkin and gingerbread were a hit with all ages.  Although I thought the gingerbread wasn’t spicy enough and preferred the pumpkin.  Looking at the book, I realized mine are not as filled as the book photos.  I guess that’s why I have so much filling left.  It just seemed like so much.  My
healthy cooking philosophy and habits can sometimes get in the way of decadent
foods.  (I used low fat cream cheese for the filling too)  Also to get them to look perfect and smooth like the photos, you’d need a whoopie pie pan – which I
don’t have or want.  I was fine with a more rustic look, made from a small ice cream scoop.

So I need to call an oven technician.  Luckily I am not hosting Thanksgiving.  Thank
goodness.  That’s every host’s biggest nightmare.  I wonder what an oven house
call before Thanksgiving costs?  I’ll wait to call after Thursday.

Hopefully you have an oven and can make them.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Makes 12

2 cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup light brown sugar

½ cup sunflower oil

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup canned pumpkin puree

Cinnamon and Maple Filling

1 cup full fat cream cheese

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 2 baking sheets with
parchment paper.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

Place sugar and oil in large bowl and beat with electric mixer for 1 minute.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Then beat in pumpkin.  Stir in flour mixture and beat until
incorporated.

Spoon or pipe 24 mounds of batter onto prepared pans, spaced well apart.

Bake each sheet separately in oven for 8 – 10 minutes or until risen and firm to
touch.  Cool on baking tray for 5 minutes then remove with palette knife to transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

For the filling place the cream cheese and butter in a bowl and beat until well
blended.  Beat in the syrup, cinnamon and confectioner’s sugar until smooth.

To assemble, pipe or spread the filling over the flat side of half the cakes.  Top with remaining cakes.

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Thanksgiving Meal Wrap Up

So Thanksgiving is already over.  While ours was small.  We unfortuantely scared away the grandparents with the flu.  On the actual day, everyone was healthy.  All in all I was pleased with the food.  I always like the walnut mushroom stuffing.  My son picked mashed potatoes, though in years passed it’s been sweet potatoes.  The kids were great helpers with the brussels sprouts.  Really a fool spoof way to get a brussels sprouts hater to turn the corner.  Because grandma didn’t come and bring my kids’ requested pumpkin bread, we even managed to make a few loaves, so not to dissappoint. (We even shared with the neighbors)

However there was a dissappointment and that was the main attraction…the turkey.  I did the brine.  Everyone always says how great it tuns out.  But not for me.  Not for this bird.  I followed the directions.  Managed to spill some of the brine all over the kitchen.  Those bags can be tricky with so much liquid.   The bird browned and it tasted fine.  But fine really isn’t what we’re looking for.  There was something missing.  I realized what it was about 3/4 of the way through cooking.  There was no juice.  Where were the pan drippings?  And there was no aroma.  Why didn’t the house smell like roasted turkey.  My best guess is that the moisture stays in.  Well I want moist, but I also want drippings and aroma.  So next year it’s back to the wine and butter baste only.  Always worked for my mom.

On a high note was one of the best desserts I ever made.  No really.  It was Lilly Pulitzer’s Gingered Pumpkin Tart.  This was amazing.  The perfect mix of sweet and spicy.  I thought the crystallized ginger would be too much and was serving it on the side, until everyone asked for more.  The ultimate was fresh whipping cream and a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream.  I’m already trying to determine what occassion to make it for again and who I should share it with.

The kids were in charge of the table decor.  Note the colored tea lights (those are usually for outside).  There was a bit of a squabble over who would make placecards.  So my son made them for dinner and my daughter cleared those and set hers out for dessert.  They also made a stick centerpiece in the shape of a turkey.

Take a look…

peeling brussels
Ellery and her cranberry sauce
Me and my bird
the centerpiece arrangement
A piece of the gingered pumpkin tart
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This Year’s Thanksgiving Challenge….The Flu

So my challenge last year was the vegan menu.  However if you’ll recall (see last year’s post) I was pleasantly surprised with all the dishes and everyone – vegan and carnivore – seemed full and happy.

This year’s challenge is that it’s only a few days before the big turkey day and my son has the stomach flu.  Poor kid.  I got a touch of it last night, but nothing like he has.  His grandparents have already bowed out of coming for the holiday.  I certainly understand.  Who wants to come to a potentially guarantined household?  And that’s the problem for me too.  The wondering who else may be sick on Thanksgiving?  Will I get worse?  What about my husband and daughter?

Being that I try to make dishes ahead, I already have cranberry sauce made, as well as a tart crust.  I opted out of the lackluster pumpkin pudding (see previous post about test) for a pumpkin ginger tart instead.  At least we have something, right?  I could put the cranberry in the pie tart and call it a cranberry tart.  I feel like everyone remembers the sweet stuff anyway.  How bad could that be? 

I’m thinking positively and today I picked up my heirloom turkey.  It was already ordered, so I really didn’t have much of a choice.  Because our group is so small this year (and getting smaller), I decided I’m going to try brining the bird.  I feel like I’m the only person to have never brined a turkey.  I’m feeling confident because it’s not a 15 pounder.  I’m not going to worry about making space and the bag leaking all over my fridge, since I’ll be able to get my petit 9 pounder in a large stockpot.

At the very least the turkey will come in handy for turkey noodle soup if we all get sick.  Here’s crossing my fingers our planned menu goes somewhat as planned.  But if it doesn’t happen, we’ll do it another night. 

Here’s our favorite brussels sprouts recipe for Thanksgiving or the rest of the year.

Leaf Us Alone Brussels Sprouts

(pg. 205, Petit Appetit: Eat Drink and Be Merry)

Although they are one of my favorites, I realize Brussels sprouts are not welcome by many. I think they get a bad rap because they are usually boiled, bland, and still rock hard in the center. Peeling the leaves and discarding the center core, makes for an entirely different taste and texture. And yes, you and your kids may even have a new green favorite. Note this takes time and patience, but little hands make great peelers.

Makes 6 servings

1 pound Brussels sprouts

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil.

Cut off bottom stem or core of each sprout. Carefully peel away the leaves until it becomes too hard to peel. Cut off bottom core again and peel more layers. Continue cutting and peeling until it is too difficult to peel apart.

Place leaves in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and stir until all leaves are coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir again.

Spread leaves onto prepared baking pan in a single layer. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until leaves are cooked and start to crisp with golden edges.

Kids Korner

I brought these to the table to peel while my children were having a snack. It must have looked interesting as both my four year old and 18 month old starting peeling, too. I told them they were Brussels Buddies. My son just kept telling his dad “We’re only eating the skins.”

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I Heart Pumpkins with Pumpkin Pudding Recipe

I love pumpkins.  They signify fall to me, and Halloween is just the beginning.  I love their shapes, their colors (my favorite color is of course orange), and their tastes… Really everything from butter to muffins to breads to pancakes to pies to ice cream (I can go on and on).  I just can’t get enough.  Luckily you can buy canned pumpkin year round.  If you can’t in your area, now is the perfect time to stock up.

Here’s some photos from this year’s trip to the pumpkin patch.  We go to the same one every year (Peter’s Patch at the Springhill Jersey Cheese Co.), so I won’t bore you with the same blog (read last year’s).  However we experience it new every year as we share it with someone different each year.  This year with friends with kids.  It was such fun to see the kids all having full together:  milking cows, digging potatoes, petting donkeys, choosing pumkpins and racing up hay bales.  Here are a few favorite photos from the day.

 

I found this amazing looking recipe for pumpkin pudding from one of the Top Chef Dessert Judges on the Daily Candy website.  I’m hoping to recipe test it for something different for this year’s Thanksgiving table.  If you try it before me, let me know how it goes.

Dannielle’s Pumpkin Pudding
 

Serves four
 

Ingredients
 

1 envelope gelatin
¼ c. water
3 eggs, separated

½ c. milk

¾ c. brown sugar

1 15-oz. can of pumpkin

1½ tsp. pie spice

1 tsp. vanilla

¼ tsp. cream of tartar (optional)

1/3 c. sugar

1. Dissolve gelatin in water and set aside.

2. Combine egg yolks, milk, brown sugar, and pumpkin in saucepan, stir well, and cook over

medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat.

3. Stir in spice and vanilla, and then add gelatin mixture.

4. With handheld or stand mixer, whip egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form

(about four minutes). Slowly add white sugar and fold into the pumpkin mixture.

5. Divide among teacups, cute little bowls, or carved-out mini pumpkins, and refrigerate until

set.

6. Garnish with fresh whipped cream.

*NOTE* November 23rd Update – DISSAPPOINTING PUDDING

I made the pudding and while my family enjoyed it, I did not.  It had a texture that I didn’t care for.  Not like a creamy pudding at all – more like pumpkin pie filling.  I didn;t feel it was special enough for the big day.  Please note it makes much more than the recipe stated “4 servings”.  It filled 8 parfait glasses!

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A Tale of Two Feasts

Both my daughter and my son had “feasts” at school today.  My daughter is in preschool and I volunteered to do the food for the feast.  As the preschool classes get older, the teachers allow the children to choose what they’d like for their feast.  They usually pick pizza.  Not exactly what I picture in thinking of the pilgrims and native americans sharing on the original day.   However at age 3, the feast is traditional (somewhat) and there is no voting on the main menu.  I like the idea of the traditional food and so I supplied all the food for the feast.  (I won’t when it’s pizza).  The menu consisted of:

mini turkey and cheese sandwiches and roll-ups

fruit salad – some balked at the orange stuff…persimon

canberry sauce

sweet potato chips

steamed veggies and carrots with dip

oatmeal-chocolate chips cookes – which the kids made

Here’s what it looked like:

mini turkey cheese

sweet potato chips

cranberry sauce

preschool feast

I have to say it went over well.  Most kids ate something, and some even asked for seconds of fruit and sandwiches.  The kids were very proud of their handmade tablecloth, which was painted butcher paper.  So cute. 

The second “feast” of the day was at my son’s kindergarten friendship feast.  This was a clever idea.  The kids in each kindergarten class were each asked to bring an ingredient, such as onion (ours), tomatoes, stock, noodles, zucchini, etc.  Then one mom went home and made soup from the ingredients and returned with it the following day.  I knew making all the other items for feast number 1, I couldn’t make soup too.  Luckily someone else volunteered, but I did offer to make pumpkin muffins to accompany.  Here they are:

pumpkin ginger muffins

 

All four kindergarten classes ate soup together with teachers and some families and siblings.  Each class had made their own version of turkey hats and leaf placemats, which they were proud to bring home after.  The soup and muffins were appreciated and eaten.  Here’s a picure of my son and daughter sitting together.  The teacher is so sweet and treats her like one of the kindergartners.  After just coming from her feast, I was surpirsed to see she ate more than some of my son’s friends.

kindergarten feast

I must say with all these feast preparations, shopping, cooking, packing and clean up, I’m going to need to find some energy for the real feast on Thurs.  I’ll keep you posted…

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Pumpkin Patch Visit with Organic Pumpkin Ice Cream Recipe

From Lisa Barnes

I love visiting a pumpkin patch this time of year. Not the kind with a jumpy and a row of look alike pumpkins. But a real patch at a working farm with tractors, hay rides, animals, u-pick pumpkins, potato digging (my kids with their prizes), hay maze, cow milking and every variety of pumpkin and squash imaginable.

This is, of course, a fun Fall ritual, but also a great teaching opportunity to show your kids (especially those from the city) how a farm works.  We know how precious small farms are to our nation’s communities.  At this year’s Slow Food Nation event there was a wake-up call to encourage more to become involved in farming and teaching, and how vital it is for our food safety, health, environment and economy.  On the farm kids can see the balance and relationship of people, land and animal (and also appreciate how hard the people and animals work).

Across the nation there are many farms as well as farmer’s markets that have special pumpkin and harvest activities that are great for families with curious children. Besides pumpkins, autumn is also the time to find Asian pears, apples, persimmons, pomegranates, grapes, and winter squashes (butternut, acorn). To find a pumpkin patch and/or farmer’s market in your area go to LocalHarvest.

My family tradition for the past three years is to head to Peter’s Pumpkin Patch at Spring Hill Cheese Goat Creamery in Petaluma, California.  Most years we have visiting grandparents with us to share the experience as well.  Last year my son (4 at the time) asked his grandma where the “gutters” were, when approaching a milking cow.  This year my daughter (age 2) cried when we went to leave.  We asked her what was troubling her and she said she needed to see Jessie again (the same milking cow).  A big favorite activity, after getting lost in the hay maze, but before taking a wheelbarrow into the pumpkin field is eating homemade ice cream.  Not just any ice cream, but pumpkin ice cream.  This is one of my all-time favorite tastes.  While my version doesn’t do the creamery justice, I’ve included my recipe below.

Organic Pumpkin Ice Cream Recipe

Makes 1 quart

Sweet Cream Base:

2 cups organic heavy cream
1 cup organic milk
2 cage free organic eggs
3/4 cups sugar

Whisk eggs in mixing bowl.  Whisk in sugar, a little at a time until blended.  Whisk in cream and milk.

Ice Cream:

1 cup canned organic pumpkin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Pour 1/2 sweet cream base into a second bowl.  Mix in pumpkin until blended well.  Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add remaining sweet cream base.

Place mixture into ice cream maker and freeze per manusfacturer’s directions.
~
See also LIsa’s Happy HallowGreen – Roasted Organic Pumpkin Seeds Recipe
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Soybeans © Norman Chan | Dreamstime.com

OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
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Happy HallowGreen – Roasted Organic Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

From Lisa Barnes

You might think someone that promotes healthy eating wouldn’t like a holiday where begging for candy is involved. But I do. The “trick” at my house to avoid the (what’s on sale in the big bag) candy “treats” is that the Halloween candy gets “turned in” to mom and traded for a non-candy item of choice (usually a toy – but this year my son has already earmarked a pair of sweat pants). The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of “souling,” when people would go door to door, receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (All Hallows Day).

Fast forward to little ghosts and goblins (or firemen and princesses) going door to door expecting candy. A lot has changed! If you want to see something scary on Halloween read some of the wrappers on your child’s candy. There you’ll see partially hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, alkali, chemicals, artificial colorings and more. To decode these items and see a list of healthy sweet alternatives read the full story at Kiwi Magazine.

If you have ideas of a greener holiday check out this great article from the Lansing State Journal for suggestions on recycled costumes, fair trade chocolate treats, partyware, decorations and battery-free flashlights. For those looking for greener, non-candy items to pass out to trick-or-treaters here is an abbreviated list of suggestions from GreenHalloween.org:

  • seed packets
  • coins
  • pencils
  • stickers
  • polished rocks, sea glass or seashells
  • card games, tricks, jokes
  • barrettes
  • balls and spinning tops
  • mini pumpkins

Speaking of pumpkins and staying away from candy…how about making the most of the jack-o-lantern by roasting the seeds…

Roasted Organic Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

My favorite part about carving a pumpkin at Halloween is getting my hands into the pumpkin to pull out the seeds and stringy goop. My son does not share the enthusiasm for the slimy, gooey mess. And my daughter just wants to eat the goop and seeds right out of the pumpkin. The reward for mom picking thru all the stringy stuff is enjoying the roasted pumpkin seeds while watching the candle flicker in the jack-o-lantern.

1 cup organic pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon olive oil

Seasoning options:

½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon curry or
½ teaspoon granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 300°F. Cut off top of pumpkin and scoop out insides. Rinse pumpkin seeds in colander with cold water. Remove as much of the pumpkin strings and flesh from the seeds as possible. Try to blot excess water with a kitchen or paper towel. In a small bowl combine seeds, oil and seasonings of choice. Stir until coated. Spread out seeds in a single layer on foil lined baking sheet. Roast until golden brown and dry, about 40 minutes. Stir seeds with a spatula, every 10 minutes during cooking. Let cool on a paper towel and store in an airtight container.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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