Pumpkin Spice Season: Pumpkin Spice Lattes


Starbucks really jumped the season this year – Pumpkin Spice syrup in August? Guess they figured if Costco has Christmas up on August 1st, they can push their seasons as well. I loved the “secret” get-it-early push. Oh please. Come on, give me to at least the 1st. I wanna pretend it is sweater weather….I was trying on sweaters yesterday and sweating to death in the tiny changing room.

Truthfully, I could have pumpkin treats year round. But…SB’s PSL isn’t something I can drink every day. It is worse than drinking a caramel latte made with the sauce. Not exactly lightweight in calories, fat or sugar content. A grande, made with whole milk and whip cream? Over 400 calories, nearly 50 grams sugar, and ouch…I gotta not look at nutritional stats. I had a free one yesterday, and after a third of my drink I tossed it. It was way too sweet. I couldn’t taste the coffee at all. It was just numbing sugar. And more so, isn’t vegan – even with soy milk, if you care. We can do better!


Fall is coming, so let’s celebrate with 5 Days of Recipes, all featuring the heavenly aromas of Pumpkin Spice! And up first? Pumpkin Spice Syrup and Pumpkin Spice Lattes (ooh, bonus day – you get two recipes!)


Pumpkin Spice Syrup


  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups organic sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks (about 4″ long each)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ cup pumpkin purée


Add the water, sugar and cinnamon sticks to a tall saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Add in remaining spices and pumpkin, stir in. Cook for 5 minutes more, stirring often, do not let boil.

Let cool for 30 minutes, then strain through a Jelly Strainer Bags. Transfer to a glass storage container, seal and refrigerate. A tall olive oil bottle with pour spout works great.


Don’t press hard on the jelly bag, or too much solids will pass through. I rest my bag in a fine mesh strainer, over a bowl. Discard the pulp and cinnamon sticks left in bag.


Pumpkin Spice Latte


  • 2 to 3 Tbsp pumpkin spice syrup
  • Milk, of choice
  • 2 shots espresso
  • Whip cream, if desired
  • Pumpkin spice blend, for topping


For a grande latte, steam about 1½ cups milk to desired temperature. I go for about 150° to 160° personally.


Pour syrup into mug, add in about half the milk, while pouring shots:


Add in shots, down the center of mug, top with remaining milk. Decorate top as desired.


When using non-dairy milks, use unsweetened and organic for best results. Almond often steams easiest, with little carry-over taste. I find that soy fries on the steaming wand, so have a wet rag ready when you take the wand out of the pitcher.  Rice tends to be watery, coconut is delicious, but has a very pronounced flavor when warm. As always, if you drink dairy, whole tastes best.


I realize of course that not every one has an espresso machine on hand. I was a barista in my 20’s for 9 years. This is the machine we run on: Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine. No, it isn’t cheap. It runs beautifully – and is pretty user-friendly (also easy for the non-barista to master).

So…the other thing is yes, you can warm milk in a saucepan and use double strength brewed coffee – but that isn’t a true latte. Please, consider an espresso machine if you love lattes. Find a barista who is nice, and ask them to teach you the basics. I did this for many customers. Once you learn how…next thing you know, you’ll have a showcase machine and all the tools to go with it 😉 And a tip jar on your counter! Your machine will pay for itself quickly if you are a daily drinker!

See you tomorrow and have a wonderful Labor Day!



Divine Pie Pumpkins, Pumpkin Seeds & Pumpkin Brown Rice Pudding

Was that a long enough title for a post? 😉 One pumpkin that was so pretty it inspires me to embrace fall even more….

My favorite farm had these last week at the farmers market, a pie pumpkin. It was 4 1/3 pounds, an easy size to work with. To get where I wanted to be, I roasted it, producing a sweet flesh.

Roasted Pumpkin Puree


  • 1 pie pumpkin (also called sugar)
  • Neutral vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 350°, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Wash or scrub your pumpkin gently, depending on how dirty it is, dry off. Cut the pumpkin in half, top to bottom. Scrape out the seeds and innards, reserving the seeds for roasted pumpkin seeds, if you desire.

Drizzle a little oil over the inside and outsides of both halves, rub in.

Bake face down for 50 to 70 minutes, until the inside flesh is fork tender and the peel is starting to wilt.

Remove and flip over, let cool on the baking sheet till you can handle it. Scrape the flesh into a large  mixing bowl, discard peel. Mash up with a fork or potato masher, then let rest for 5 minutes.Drain off the water that has pooled under the flesh, using a fine mesh strainer.

Place the strainer over the mixing bowl and gently press the purée against the side, going in circles. Periodically scrape the outside of the sieve with a spatula, dropping the purée in the bowl. Fair warning, this will take a while and use arm muscles. When it is done you will have a small amount of pumpkin left in the sieve that is fibrous, discard this. Left in the bowl will be silky smooth purée, about 2½ cups from my size pumpkin. Pack in an airtight container and refrigerate or freeze till needed.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


  • Raw pumpkin seeds
  • Fine sea salt
  • Neutral vegetable oil


After removing the seeds from a pumpkin, pick through to remove any pumpkin pieces, leaving the seeds behind. Rinse throughly in a fine mesh strainer.

Preheat oven to 325°.

Add the seeds to a large saucepan, cover with cold water, add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil, let gently boil for 10 minutes, drain seeds and shake dry.

Place the seed son a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle a little oil and a pinch more salt, coat the seeds by mixing.

Roast for 10 minutes, stir, continue roasting for 10 minutes more.

Let cool before eating.


The brown rice in this pudding adds a different texture. If you are not used to brown rice and especially short grain rice, you may not like it. Brown rice will have a bite, even fully cooked and simmered for 6 hours. I happen to be a big fan of brown rice…..but no fear, you can use short grain, long grain, brown or white. Whatever you like. If you use white it will take less time to cook, so check hourly.

The recipe itself I adapted from A Modern Christian Woman, changing the sweetener and the spices a bit.

Pumpkin Brown Rice Pudding


  • 2 cups cooked short grain brown rice (see notes)
  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp jarred or fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Pinch salt


Add everything a slow cooker, stir well. Cook over low for 6 hours (or so), stirring every hour. The pudding is done when it is very thick after being stirred. Taste for sweetener, you may want to add more.

Either serve warm or chilled.

Serves 6 to 8.


To make brown rice that isn’t sticky (gluey) use the baking method:

1½ cups sticky (short grain) brown rice + 2½ cups boiling water = bake in an 8×8″ glass baking pan, covered with foil, for 1 hour at 375°. You will need about half the rice in the recipe, the leftovers make a nice fried rice addition or to eat in veggie sushi rolls.


Tomorrow? My oldest son turns 15. Wow…..


Pumpkin Spinach Pasta

Over the weekend I was shopping at a local co-op, PCC, and saw a salad spinner in the clearance section. Kirk was questioning if we really needed it, as it was $10. A unitasker indeed, but with how many green we are eating now, I decided a small one would be happy. It is exhausting to soak, then air dry all the greens. When I got home I did research and I did get quite a deal – it is around $20 retail! (What did I get? A Zyliss Easy Spin Salad Spinner, 2-3 Servings, Green.)

The pumpkin sauce is rich and creamy, it will fool taste buds into thinking it has cream in it. If you leave the cheese out and switch to olive oil or Earth Balance Buttery stick, it is vegan friendly as well.

Pumpkin Spinach Pasta


  • 13.25 ounce multi-grain penne pasta
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp white whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup Organic Canned Pumpkin
  • 1 tsp dried rubbed sage
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt, or to taste
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese + more for topping


Bring a large pot of lightly slated water to boil, add pasta and cook for time on package. Rinse, spin dry and chop the spinach, place in a colander. Pour the hot pasta water over it slowly, to let wilt.

Meanwhile, heat over medium a heavy medium saucepan. Melt the butter, whisk in the flour, letting cook for a minute or two. Whisk in the garlic and milk till smooth, then the pumpkin through salt. Let cook until bubbling and thick, whisking often. Add in the cheese, whisking till melted. Take off the heat, toss with the pasta and spinach. Add in more cheese as desired.

Serves 4.

That purple on the plate? It was an amazing tasting head of organic purple cauliflower….the steaming water was an incredible hue of blue/green when done. It made me wonder if it would have dyed fabric well!


Vegan Blueberry Pumpkin Quick Bread

Last weekend I picked up another flat of blueberries at the farmers market, Walker was very happy – and ate ¼ of them on the way home from the farmers market. If anyone buys into the “nature’s candy” theory, it is that toddler! I adapted a blueberry pumpkin bread recipe, converting it to be both vegan and also no added fat – expect for the streusel. The banana filled in for oil. Moist and said toddler happily munched on it, he was howling while I was taking photos. Trying to grab the heel off the tray. At least someone appreciates my cooking 😉

For the pumpkin I call for Farmers Market Organic Pumpkin. Why? I have found it be much higher quality than Libby’s. It is thick, vibrant color and not…watery. Which sadly a lot of canned pumpkin is. Amazon has it for a good price, if you buy a dozen cans (it is cheaper to buy it than to buy Libby’s conventional growed pumpkin in the store!). For me, I happen to use a lot of pumpkin so it is a win-win.

Blueberry Pumpkin Quick Bread


  • 1 2/3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 cup Farmers Market Organic Pumpkin
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed, preferably organic and handmade
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed meal + 3 Tbsp cool water
  • 1 cup ripe blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp white whole wheat flour

Streusel Topping –

  • 2 Tbsp white whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar, preferably organic
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp neutral vegetable oil, such as sunflower


Preheat oven to 350°, lightly oil a glass or ceramic quick bread size pan.

Combine the streusel ingredients in a small until crumbly, set aside.

Whisk the flour through allspice together in a small bowl.

Soak the flaxseed in water for 10 minutes, whisk until thick. Add in and whisk the pumpkin, coconut milk, bananas and brown sugar till smooth.

Add dry to wet, beating till smooth. Toss the blueberries with the 1 Tablespoon flour, add to batter, gently fold in.

Spread in prepared pan, smooth out. Sprinkle streusel on top. Bake for 1 hour or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Let rest for 5 minutes, then turn out on a cooling rack. Let cool fuklly before slicing.

For best taste, eat within 24 hours.


A Trio of Baked Oatmeals

A trio of baked oatmeal that I have worked on of late. Two are vegan, the third has a vegan option included. The first two are smaller batches, a single breakfast each. If you have a large appetite you may find yourself eating 2 servings. The third recipe is 4 large servings, for smaller appetites you can cut it down to 6 to 8 servings.

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal


  • 1½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 Tbsp semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup mashed bananas, about 2 small
  • ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ cup raw almond butter
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt


Preheat oven to 375°, lightly oil or spray 3 oven safe ramekins or bowls.

Mix the oats, chips and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the remaining ingredients together, add to dry and stir. Divide between the ramekins and bake for 2o minutes. Let cool a bit before serving or cool and refrigerate for later. Reheat for about a minute in a microwave.

Makes 3 ramekins.


The Toddler really enjoyed this one!

Double Chocolate “Cake” Baked Oatmeal


  • 1½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 4-ounce jars or ¾ cup stage 2 baby bananas
  • ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ cup raw almond butter
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt


Preheat oven to 375°, lightly oil or spray 4 oven safe ramekins or bowls.

Mix the oats, chips and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the remaining ingredients together, add to dry and stir. Divide between the ramekins and bake for 2o minutes. Let cool a bit before serving or cool and refrigerate for later. Reheat for about a minute in a microwave.

Makes 4 ramekins.

Pumpkin Spiced Baked Oatmeal


  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ cup dried raisins
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice blend
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup original almond milk (or milk of choice, dairy or non-dairy)
  • 3 eggs or 6 egg whites or 3 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 9 Tbsp water
  • ½ cup pumpkin purée (canned is fine)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract


Heat the oven to 350°, spray a 9×13″ glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl combine the oats through raisins.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk the milk through vanilla together, pour over the dry and stir till mixed.

Scrape into the prepared baking dish and bake for 40 minutes.

Eat warm or let cool and chill in the refrigerator.

Reheat in the microwave uncovered for 1 to 2 minutes on high (it stores well for a couple of days for easy breakfasts).

Serves 4.


Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes – Perfect For Fall!

I adapted a recipe I had seen in the newest issue of Health Magazine, and was very happy with it (I think it was page 61). I did double the recipe so it would feed the 4 of us. Easy and no added oil to the batter or eggs! Although it was very hard to not crave bacon with these pancakes….sigh!

Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes


  • 2 cups pancake or baking mix (I used Trader Joe’s buttermilk multipurpose mix)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin purée
  • Oil for pan
  • Pure maple syrup for topping


Preheat a non-stick griddle or large skillet over medium heat.

In a large mixing bowl whisk the baking mix and spices together. In a medium mixing bowl whisk the water and pumpkin till smooth. Add the wet to the dry, whisk until just combined (small lumps are OK).

Pour a small amount of canola or vegetable oil onto the skillet, wipe off most of it with a paper towel (reserve the towel for use between batches). Add ¼ of batter for each pancake onto the hot pan and cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook for 2 more minutes. Repeat till done. If making all the pancakes and then serving stash them on a cooling rack in an oven on low.

Serve liberally drizzled with maple syrup.

Makes about 14 pancakes.


Pumpkin Sausage Pasta

My inspiration for this recipe was from Simply Organic’s website (I saw the recipe on their Facebook page!) I changed a couple of things (as always….I am notorious for doing that). I wanted to use a natural sausage with no preservatives and ended up using about 3 ounces less than called for – which was still a lot of meat for us and I swapped the heavy cream for whole milk. I have that on hand as Walker drinks it but I just cannot buy whole cream, to me whole milk is like drinking cream these days. And I swapped in more broth for the wine with me being pregnant. Otherwise I followed the recipe.

I really enjoyed the pasta dish. Very Fall feeling! My highlight of the dinner was turning my back to the cooling plate of sausage on the counter behind me. I turned around and Walker had scooted his little step stool over and was happily munching away…..

Pumpkin Sausage Pasta


  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 hot Italian sausage links (I used a 13.3 ounce of Isernio), taken out of the casings
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tsp granulated garlic
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 2 cups lower sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin purée
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Salt, if desired
  • 1 lb penne pasta


Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add in 1 Tablespoon of the oil and the sausage, crumbling up as it browns. Take off the heat and drain on a couple of paper towels.

Add the remaining oil and the onion to the pan, cook until soft, add in the garlic and cook a bit more. Add the sage, bay leaf and 1 cup of the broth, let reduce by about half, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining broth and pumpkin, stir well. Add the sausage, milk and seasonings, stir in. Cover, reduce to medium-low and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the penne in a large pot of boiling water, to package time. Drain and add the hot pasta to the sauce, toss to combine. Add salt if desired to taste and serve.

Serves 4.


Pumpkin and Sage Mac and Cheese

I saw this recipe in the October 2011 issue of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine and then adapted it a bit (I changed the cheese to cheddar and macaroni to bow ties, changed the heavy cream to whole milk and added a bit more sage). It was an amazing dish! The pumpkin isn’t overpowering, it melts right in and neither is it heavy on the cheese. Lets say that it cured my cravings and the guys loved it. And it pulled together quickly which is always a bonus….

Pumpkin and Sage Mac and Cheese


  • 8 ounces small pasta shapes (used bow ties)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp Kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese , shredded or diced
  • 15 ounce can pumpkin (Canned Pumpkin)
  • 1 tsp rubbed sage or 1 Tbsp fresh, diced
  • ½ cup soft bread crumbs (1 heel of DKB Blues Bread)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese (jarred is fine)
  • 1/3 cup finely diced walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil


Preheat the oven to 350°.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, cook the pasta for time on package, drain.

Meanwhile in a heavy medium saucepan over medium melt the butter, add in the flour and S&P and whisk to combine. Let cook for a couple of minutes and then add in the milk, whisking while pouring in. Stir in the sage and let cook, whisking often, until the sauce thickens slightly and starts bubbling. Add in the cheese, then the pumpkin, stir until smooth.

Add the hot pasta to the sauce and stir well, pour into an 8×8″ glass baking dish.

To prepare the topping –

To make the soft breadcrumbs, run the bread through a mini food chopper. Add it to a medium mixing bowl with the Parmesan cheese and the walnuts (use a food chopper as well to dice small). Stir in the oil.

Sprinkle evenly over the pasta and bake for 30 minutes.

Serves 4.


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