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. ***

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Tqwana Explains…Skinny Dip Noodles

Trying something new again. I don’t remember how I found out about this particular brand of shiritaki noodles, nor how I started getting weekly emails from them. But, when I got an email about a trial/tester pack, I figured I might as well test them out.

The brand is Skinny Dip Noodles. It’s called the 1x Variety Pak Sample and cost $23.95. In the ‘pak’ you get one bag each of  Angel Hair (I see a stir fry in my future), Fettuccine (chicken and broccoli Alfredo), Rice, Lasagna, and Spinach Linguine. They come in a compact brown box from a Weight Loss Media company. Bonus, the mail carrier is too lazy to bring things up to my apartment, so these stayed at the post office for a couple days. Still good to go when I picked them up.

Today I tried the spinach linguini. Don’t be put off by the liquid they float around in.
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First impression after removing it from the bag: still just as smelly as every other shiritaki noodle I’ve had, but they seem a little more dense and feel a bit more like fresh, homemade pasta and not like slimy worms.

Preparation is easy. First, rinse them thoroughly with cold water. This helps get rid of the smell. Then, boil them for one minute. The fresh pasta impression was even greater then. Drain, pat them dry with paper towels, and serve.
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The taste is bland. Really, they taste like nothing. Texture-wise, they are a little rubbery and chewy. Kinda reminded me of tofu, which I normally hate. I didn’t mind so much with these noodles.

Each bag is 2 servings, which I didn’t know when I started eating. No matter, they are incredibly filling, which I assume is because of the fiber. I ate half and was satisfied. Looking at the nutritional info, you’ll see that they are low carb, fat free, gluten free, etc.

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A good pasta substitute overall. Give them a try.

Until next time…

Tqwana Explains…The Magic of Cauliflower

I am on a recipe roll, y’all! Decided to cook some cauliflower “rice” and share my recipe with you. It really should be called cauliflower couscous, because that’s what the texture is most like, but whatever. Call it what you will.

My love of the cauliflower substitute came from a Dr. Oz recipe for rice pilaf. Then I found one for fried rice. And I decided, “hey, let’s just experiment and make yellow rice.” One day I’ll do lime and cilantro rice. And sushi rice. These recipes are out there, people. Get to hunting and cooking!

Exhibit A:

20140404_181857Here’s what a head of raw cauliflower looks like after it meets a food processor. Cut the head into florets first and grate about 1/4 the head at a time until it looks like rice.

Exhibit B:

20140404_181817Chop up some aromatics, which is a fancy way of saying veggies like onion, garlic, and peppers. This is about 1/4 cup each of red bell pepper and Spanish onion, 1/2 a jalapeno, and 2 garlic cloves. Careful with the garlic, you don’t want it to burn or your dish will taste bitter. Saute them about 5 minutes in 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and 2 Tbsp. of butter (I use Smart Balance, actually, which isn’t really butter).

Exhibit C:

20140404_182413Add the cauliflower. Stir to get it all saturated in the oil and the veggies evenly distributed. Let saute for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Exhibit D:

20140404_183856Add your liquid and spices. I used about 1 cup of chicken stock. If you’re not a carnivore, use veggie stock/broth. Just make sure you get a reduced sodium and fat version. Mix it all together and let the cauliflower cook about 10 minutes or until the liquid reduces to almost nothing.

Make sure it’s the one WITH achiote. Con means With, just in case you didn’t know.

For my yellow rice experiment, I seasoned with Goya Sazon, which makes it orange rather than yellow. Tumeric is also good to use. Saffron is even better, but pricey.

After a taste test, I added a little kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, because it seemed bland. I also got a lil’ spicy and added some Sirarcha for extra kick.

There you have it! Quick and simple.

Turkey and green beans courtesy of Atkins Frozen Meals. Black-eyed peas are all me.

Turkey and green beans courtesy of Atkins Frozen Meals. Black-eyed peas are all me.

 

Until next time…