Thursday, November 08, 2012

To Decorate or Not To Decorate - that is the question

I've been struggling with the Nordstrom's announcement since I first read it. On the surface it sounds reasonable, even commendable but something just didn't feel right about it. I understand my views are somewhat tainted in that I LOVE CHRISTMAS and all the bells and whistles that go along with it, but it was a nagging that went deeper than that.

I am going to look at this from 2 different directions.....the company standpoint and the personal standpoint. First the company - if they wait until after Thanksgiving they will most certainly miss sales - a noble gesture some might say but what about the people that want to buy things in advance to be able to decorate the day after Thanksgiving. Some people get nauseous just thinking about going out into the throngs of crazy -yes, I said it - people on the busiest shopping day of the year. Some like to have all their supplies and sip eggnog, listen to some Christmas tunes and decorate at a leisurely pace, not pile in the car and have to fight for a parking space with the mom that has been up since 4am and hopped up on caffeine and donuts. She's on a mission, that widget is half price and it's on junior's list.....she is a force to be reckoned with for sure!

The other viewpoint is that similar to my personal belief- that what exactly is Thanksgiving? OK, obviously it's a time to gather and give thanks for what we have been given. I would venture to say that most Christians in this country top our list with freedom, family and forgiveness.  Freedom to gather and give thanks and freedom to decide when to decorate and prepare. Family to join together and celebrate both at Thanksgiving and Christmas and be reminded of the love by which we are surrounded. And lastly..forgiveness - and what greater example of that then the love and forgiveness shown in the life and death of Jesus? So really, Thanksgiving truly points to Christmas.....why do we think they should be separate? Thanksgiving should just be the start of the season to be thankful for all we have been afforded, and if we would examine our lives further, Thanksgiving and Christmas should be reflected in us daily not just the two days on the calendar.

So Nordstrom's you can wait if you want but this girl is going to put up my decorations and if we eat turkey and cranberry sauce with Christmas music playing and a bazillion snowmen looking on, then so be it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow

And yes, that is Christmas decorations in the background.
It's November, time to experiment with all things pumpkin. Today I tried a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow.  Very easy and very tasty. However I should know better than to start a project at 9PM but I never learn. I forgot to add the pumpkin pie spice to the melted mixture but added it to the powdered sugar and it turned out just fine. I found the base recipe on where?........oh yes, you remember......PINTEREST!! I altered it to fit what I had in my cabinet and it was totally yummo. Here is the one I used as my inspiration. And here is my version:

Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow

1 bag white chocolate chips
1/2 cup + a little more Biscoff Spread (will be in the peanut butter section, I found it at my Walmart)
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 box Cinnamon Chex (it wasn't quite enough so I had some wheat Chex I threw in - about 2 more cups)
2 cups powdered sugar
Have you tried Biscoff? Uh-Maz-ing

Melt chocolate chips and Biscoff spread together, 1 minute, stir, and then in 30 second increments until smooth. Pour over cereal and stir to coat evenly. Put powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a huge ziploc bag and then add the cereal mixture. Shake well to coat and separate clumps of cereal mixture. Spread on parchment to dry for about 30 minutes, then store in an airtight container.
I love creating......and it shows, don't ya think?
So simple and sooooooo good!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

First of all this is Pumpkin infused/flavored Bread Pudding, not bread pudding made from Pumpkin bread....ohhhhh the nuances of cooking! I used a recipe I found on Pinterest.....I know people probably think I must just sit in my pajamas and surf Pinterest all day long because I mention it so much but I actually do have a life outside of the magic boards of wonder. The pin I found was adapted from a magazine recipe which you can find here.

Let me give you a bit of back story before the recipe. I work in an office that frequently has catered lunches. Occasionally there are leftovers but not your typical left overs they are things like a gallon of refried beans or 3 quarts of salsa. While most people would just shake their heads and mutter about it being such a waste, I see it as a challenge. I retreat to my fantasy world where I am a contestant on Iron Chef and find a solution for this extra food conundrum. This weeks spare parts consisted of:
- 2 sleeves (a total of 24) of ginormous hamburger buns
- a gallon of creamed corn

The first thing I made was corn chowder. It consisted of the corn, potatoes, sausage, made into a thick soup and it was yummy. I also made some croutons out of a few of the buns. I brought the chowder and croutons to the office and needless to say I took nothing back home.  (I forgot to take pictures and document that one) but it was a winner!  Yayyyy!

Which brings me to the bread pudding.

The comments from my official taste testers were:
"Yummy! Tastes like pumpkin pie coffee cake"
"Good either way, but is better warm"
"Would be good with a caramel sauce"
"Might be good with a brown sugar frosting"
Here is my version of the recipe:

Pumpkin Bread Pudding


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 can solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 8 cups (or so) cubed hamburger buns that were very soft (or if you don't happen to have a bazillion buns to use, crusty bread of any kind will work)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • pecans- to taste
  • brown sugar - I generous handful?
  • powdered sugar.....1 cup, 2 cups?... until you have enough, whatever that is
  • Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Whisk together all the remaining ingredients except pecans, brown sugar and powdered sugar. Melt butter and toss bread cubes with butter in a ziploc, coating thoroughly. Spread bread pieces in large casserole dish and pour pumpkin mixture over all. Sprinkle with pecans and brown sugar and bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Mix together powdered sugar and water and after baking drizzle on top.
*Remember, it's ok to alter a recipe, cooking should be a creative process, not a chore, make it your own. :)