I was super excited to receive a jar of Reese’s Peanut Butter Spread from Influenster! Despite my first inclination to eat the entire jar with a spoon, I restrained myself and shared with my kiddos.
Connor my picky eater, regularly requires lunch from home while in school. We review the weekly school lunch calendar and I do encourage him to try things I think he might like, often times I know that he will just refuse and spend the day in school hungry. Sending him peanut better and jelly sandwiches in his lunchbox has become our staple. It is hard to find things that a kindergarten can eat that 1) he can open by himself, 2) doesn’t require refrigeration or 3) doesn’t need to be heated.
A Reese’s Peanut Butter Spread and strawberry jam sandwich was the perfect twist on the classic! It gave me an opportunity to give him something a little special in his lunch. He gave it RAVE reviews!
One cold snowy day I also made grilled Reese’s Peanut Butter Spread and banana sandwiches for Amelia and I. Fortunately she couldn’t finish hers (and this Mama got a few extra bites)! Super yummy but oh how decadent…. with the right bread, this could be dessert!
Reese’s Peanut Butter Spread may find a permanent place on our grocery shopping list!
I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.
My favorite thing about fall is flavors of fall food. Having a farm share at an organic farm also means that veggies don’t always last as long without chemicals and preservatives so sometimes it is all about using up what you have quick! Looking at what was on the counter, I made some Apple Pumpkin Squash Soup!
I baked some delicata squash and a few apples. I baked them all whole and then cut cut the squash to scrap out the seeds. I totally should have cored the apples first…. Then I tossed in the squash, apple and some leftover pumpkin (from the cookies) in a saucepan with some chicken stock. Since all the veggies and fruit were well cooked, this was really just to warm everything up to the same temperature and to mix in the flavor from the chicken stock along with some spices. I added a smidgen of curry, but mostly cinnamon and ginger.
Then I pour the whole pot of apple, pumpkin and squash, along with some whole milk (we were out of heavy cream) into the blender until it was nice and creamy soup.
Apple Pumpkin Squash Soup is super yummy!
Cooking is a great way to spend time with my children. October is a perfect time for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I had blogged about making these a few years ago, but to my dismay, the link back to the recipe I used was entirely different! Booo! But it gave me a chance to come up with my own.
Connor and I first roasted a few sugar pumpkins.
A good strong knife and a pumpkin scooper with a handy serrated edge are very helpful! After cleaning them out, I placed them open side down on an aluminum foil baking sheet and let them bake until soft when poked with a fork (maybe 45 minutes to an hour). Any flesh that was exposed I coated with vegetable oil so it wouldn’t dry out.
I scraped the flesh out after the pumpkins had cooled and mashed with a potato masher and stored in the fridge to use for baking. We made the cookies the same day, but I have more in the fridge to add to soup or to make pie. I find that roasting your own pumpkin, while super yummy is really tricky when baking because the water is so inconsistent. Good for most baking, but tricky with pie, especially when serving it to guests!
I also roasted the seeds from these sugar pumpkins along with the seeds from the other seeds from the other Kakai pumpkins we had. The color difference is amazing and so was the taste. Both were yummy!
While we were munching on the pumpkin seeds, Connor, Amelia and I came up with this recipe for pumpkin chocolate cookies!
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 cups of mashed pumpkin
- 3 cups of flour (give or take, depending on the consistency of your pumpkin)
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (maybe could have used more – or maybe some baking soda too)
- 1 stick of butter, melted
- 1 bag of semi sweet chocolate chips (minus a few for each kiddo)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- A sprinkle of ginger and nutmeg
A spooned them on to a cookie sheet and baked at 350 for 20 minutes or so, depending on the size. I tend to make bigger cookies and they take longer!
Connor loves them! Unlike the last batch that I couldn’t get him to eat more than one. Shhhh……… don’t tell him that pumpkin is a vegetable!
Our farm share grows Kakai pumpkins, specifically for the pumpkin seeds! They are not pretty solid orange pumpkins and the flesh isn’t tasty for cooking. These pumpkins are all about the seeds. However, when you have two small kiddos – any pumpkin can be turned into a jack-o-lantern!
They loved being able to pick put their own pumpkins are the farm and they were both very excited to help cut into them. Connor found some Christmas cheese spreaders he was sure was going to help!
The pumpkin seeds are buried deep in the flesh, it isn’t easy to scoop just them out without a whole lot of the flesh. The most tedious task is separating them out from the ooey, gooey flesh, of which neither of my kids wanted to help!
Then we gave them a super good soak and rinse to get off as much slime as possible. I coated them in a few tablespoons of melted butter and some salt – that was it. They are super yummy! Very nutty! Even Connor liked them and Amelia didn’t – which flies in the face of both children’s usual behavior. Amelia keeps trying them though… and then spits them out which just breaks my heart – they are so yummy! There are two pumpkins on the deck just waiting to be cut up next!
Just like every other family, we struggle with dinner time. Everyone is tired and cranky, not to mention hungry!
I wish I could offer 10 tips on making dinner time successful with two small kids. But I don’t think I could come up with a single suggestions! What might work one night with one kid, might not work another night and probably not with the other kid on any night!
We struggle with food prep. The kitchen is always chaotic as I try to get snack and milk packed for the next day, prepare dinner plates for the kids while my husband is cooking our dinner, cooking extras for our lunches and unloading the dishwasher from the night before. The kids are whiny and underfoot. The cats either trying to steal whatever food we are cooking or fighting with each other. We try to do this all while renovating the kitchen! We have no floor, the walls are a mess and the only counter and cabinets are what is holding the sink together! Yeah!
Sometimes it is helpful to engage the kids in our activities. Connor made the table arrangement pictured above. Sometimes they both are interested in setting the table and sometimes we end up with a dozen napkins and no forks! Often they are running around throwing plates like frisbees and stealing the utensils from the dishwasher to have sword fights.
As I have mentioned a bazillion times, Connor is my picky eater who is also super tiny so we are constantly struggling to get him to eat dinner. I remember a time when we couldn’t even get him to sit at the table. Thanks to preschool and school lunches he is open to a few more different kinds of food – FISH STICKS! Amelia’s is usually a pretty good eater, but takes forever at the dinner table. She will most anything, but often makes unreasonable demands – like apple milk or steak knives!
But dinner time is one of the few times we have to connect as a family, talk about our days and get our heads on straight about what the next day has in store for us, chaos and all!
This is one of my favorite fall soup recipes. We have started to see some squash in our farm share and I am hoping we to see butternut soon!
Curried Butternut Squash Soup Ingredients
2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion
2 or 3 stalks celery
An apple or 2 depending on sweetness
1 inch or more fresh ginger (grated)
2 tsp curry powder (or more to taste)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 butternut squash
1/2 cup apple cider
1 and 1/2 cups water
1 can broth (chicken or veggie)
1/2 to 1 cup heavy whipping cream (depending on taste)
Curried Butternut Squash Soup Directions
I roasted the squash instead of just boiling it. It was definitely more work and a bit messy, but I love that flavor that you get. Plus it makes the house smelled yummy! The best tool my husband brought home was a pumpkin scraper! It made short work of the squash goop and seeds.
Cook the onion, apple, celery and ginger in the olive oil until golden brown. I use a ginger grater for fresh ginger. Generally the are small ceramic dishes with a very sharp spiked surface that allows you to rub the ginger and get out the good stuff, living the stringy bits behind. I use a little liquid from whatever I am cooking to rinse of the grater into the pot so every little bit gets in there.
Add the salt, pepper and curry. Sometimes I throw in a little cinnamon!
Add cider, broth, water and squash. Cook until everything is nice and mushy. This would take a while if you didn’t roast the squash first. I try to add more cider or broth instead of water if I need to add more liquid.
Through the whole mess into a food processor or blender until a preferred consistency. I like to get it nice and creamy.
Put it back in the pot, add the cream, bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.
Sometimes I throw a little garnish on top, like coconut for fun!
Making apple crisp
My desire to bake kicks up in the fall and my favorite fall recipe is apple crisp!
This is my grandmother’s apple crisp recipe. For me, all other variations are not quite right. Some foods I am happy to try different versions. Not apple crisp! My grandmother’s recipe card makes one square (is it 8 by 8) baking dish. I never make a single batch so I decided to just double the recipe when I posted it – to save you the math!
Apple Crisp Topping:
- 6 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 and 1/3 cup powered milk
- 2/3 cup of flour
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter – or olio as my grandmother writes!
Apple Crisp Filling:
- 8 cups peeled and and cut apples (My grandmother writes tart – I say any kind goes)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup sugar
Put the apple mixture into a greased baking dish – I use the big Pyrex lasagna dish. Spoon the topping on spreading evenly. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes and the apples are soft and the topping is golden brown.
My mom told me that this was the only dessert that my grandmother let them eat for breakfast, so she let us eat it too! Guess what my kids will have for breakfast this weekend!
This post originally posed as part of a Stop, Drop and Parent 31 Days Challenge!