Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin… I’ve Gone Pumpkin Crazy!

When I’m bored, I bake. And since I’ve been back in Miami this summer, I’ve done a lot of baking. Along comes pumpkin spice season and I think I’ve lost my damn mind.

It started with pumpkin donuts, made with coconut flour. Decent, but the texture of coconut flour bothers me. Too spongy and wettish or something, which in itself is odd because coconut flour absorbs so, so much moisture. You’d think baked goods would be dry. And as you can tell from the picture below, I failed on the glaze.

 

Moving on to my next project, which was pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds. I discovered those at Trader Joe’s last year and wanted to create my own with a fraction of the sugar by using Splenda brown sugar blend. And no, it doesn’t have aspartame like tons of websites would like you to believe. Sucralose. It’s right there on the label. In fact, I’ve been using both version of Splenda baking blend a lot recently.

Which leads me to my most recent experiments, also inspired by these wonderful gifts from heaven from Trader Joe’s.

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Seriously, if you haven’t tried these, go to your nearest TJ’s and pick up a box now. They are tiny and so good and so, so bad for you. So much sugar!! I mean, they’re ice cream sandwiches, so sugar is to be expected. But, I knew I could do better and a bit healthier.

I set out to make my own and dammit, I have conquered this bitch!

The ice cream is an Atkin’s recipe. I modified it some by using Splenda bake mix instead, because I didn’t have Xylitol. I also used 2 teaspoons of my own pumpkin spice mix in place of the spices listed in the recipe, and food coloring to bring out the orange color a big more – 12 drops of yellow and 2 drops of red.

Mmmmmm… Pumpkin ice cream! 🍦🎃

A video posted by Tqwana (@theqissilent416) on Sep 26, 2016 at 2:47pm PDT

 

Now, the cookies. I found a recipe for chocolate chip cookies using almond flour (yes, I know it’s expensive) that I figured I could also play around with to get those soft, chewy ginger cookies.

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I ate about 4 of these once they were completely cooled. I regret nothing.

And bam! Look at these beauties!!

My version of Trader Joe’s pumpkin ginger ice cream thingies. I think I’ll blog this experience tomorrow.

A photo posted by Tqwana (@theqissilent416) on Sep 26, 2016 at 4:04pm PDT

 

And then I got fancy and decided to roll one in my pumpkin spice pumpkin seeds. I’m a genius, i tell ya.

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So, here are all the recipes. Happy baking!

Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
Ingredients
2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground all spice

Mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container. 


Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
Ingredients
2 cups raw pepitas
2 tbsp. Splenda brown sugar bake mix
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (see above)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar free maple syrup (I used Smuckers breakfast syrup)
1 1/2 tbsp. melted unsalted butter

Mix everything together until all the seeds are coated, then spread the seeds on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast at 300° for 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet, then store in an airtight container and try not to eat them all in one sitting.


Chewy Ginger Cookies 
Ingredients
1 1/4 cup of blanched almond flour (don’t get the one with the little brown spots from the skin)
1/2 cup Splenda brown sugar baking blend
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/4 cup Canola oil

Mix everything in a bowl using a fork, which helps to break up the clumps in the almond flour. Start with the dry ingredients, then add the wet. Divide the dough with your hands into 16-18 little balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and press down to flatten slightly. Don’t press down too much, because the cookies will spread on their own. Bake at 350° for 11 minutes. Allow to cool completely on baking sheet. 

***Assemble the ice cream sandwiches by using a cookie scoop. I believe it’s the mid-sized one, #40, which is a little over a tablespoon measurement or 1 1/2 tablespoons. I added the ice cream fresh out of the ice cream maker. Press down only a little, then put the sandwiches in the freezer to firm up before eating. ***

Tqwana Explains…How I Cook

I’m a foodie. And I love to cook. A few years back, I made the decision to change my eating habits. That meant no rice, pasta, bread, and sugar. Most of the time. Even I’m not that disciplined. So, I’ve had to find healthier alternatives. It’s amazing what you can do with cauliflower when you want rice or mashed potatoes. And spaghetti squash will make you forget wheat pasta even exists.

But, my one food addiction that I can not find a good substitute for is french fries. Seriously, if I didn’t think it would kill me, I’d eat fries every damn day.

After doing some fry-alternative research, I came across the daikon radish- a big, white East Asian radish that looks like a mutant carrot.

20140329_161511I’ve cooked the small, salad radishes before and liked them. Didn’t love them, but they would suffice if I wanted a pan-roasted/sauteed potato substitute. Daikon was something…else. First of all, they are near impossible to find.  I had to go to Whole Paycheck Foods to get them. Surprisingly, they were only about $2.50 for 3 of them. I then proceeded to make oven “fries”.

Follow along on my journey…

Step 1: Peel and cut the radishes into basic steak fry shape. This is only 2 of the 3 radishes. Do a better job then I did making them about the same size and thickness.

20140329_162149Step 2: Toss them in some olive oil, kosher salt, and any herbs and spices you prefer. I used fresh pressed garlic and dried chives.

20140329_163302Step 3: Roast them in the oven at 450 until they brown. Most recipes say 30 minutes. Turn them half way through for even browning.

20140329_182624Step 4: Eat

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Now, do NOT expect your daikon fries to have the texture or taste of potatoes. You’ll be disappointed. They seemed rubbery to me and were a bit bitter. Maybe I didn’t cook them long enough, or I should’ve parboiled them first like some recipes suggested. Ehh. It was my first time. I’ll keep experimenting.

Once I added Sirarcha mayo (which is exactly what it sounds like), I enjoyed them more. Make your own Sirarcha mayo; it really is that simple.

Overall, a satisfying meal. The pizza crust recipe is courtesy of Comfy Belly (be sure to try the coconut flour vanilla cupcakes while you’re there). The chicken strips are my own, made with almond flour. Sorry people, fried chicken is never healthy no matter what you do to it. Oven-fried is your best option here.

Verdict: 3 out of 5 stars. Maybe a different flavor combination will help. But, they sort of satisfied the craving. My recommendation: go for it.

Bonus: Here’s a pic of my pizza before I overcooked the cheese.

20140329_172818Until next time…