Showing posts with label pumpkin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pumpkin. Show all posts

Monday, October 31, 2016

Trick or Treat?

It's Halloween

(by Jack Prelutsky)

It's Halloween! It's Halloween!

The moon is full and bright

And we shall see what can't be seen

On any other night.

Skeletons and ghosts and ghouls,

Grinning goblins fighting duels,

Werewolves rising from their tombs,

Witches on their magic brooms.

In masks and gowns

we haunt the street

And knock on doors

for trick or treat.

Tonight we are the king and queen,

For oh tonight it's Halloween!

Happy Halloween

Be safe !!



Monday, October 24, 2016

Fall is In the Air ...

Well finally the feeling of Fall has hit southern Italy these past few weeks and I love it! I came down with a really bad cold last week but I'm feeling much better now. I had such a lovely and relaxing weekend. I didn't do anything exciting but it was just nice to stay at home and relax. Mr. Amore and I fixed things up around the house, I cleaned as I usually do on Saturday mornings, and then I went for a run and took in the fresh autumn air.   I don't run on a regular basis but I like to on the weekends when the weather is nice. 

I decided I was in the baking mood over the weekend and  I happened to have 4 very ripe bananas laying around that I was probably never going to eat so  I made some delicious Banana Nut Bread so that they wouldn't go to waste.  I've been having a slice every morning with my coffee and I love it. 

I love banana nut bread. I have some Italian readers that follow my blog so before you say ...boring another banana nut bread recipe... let it be known that this is a very typical American recipe so I'm happy to share it with my International friends.

Silvana's Banana Nut Bread Recipe

4 ripe bananas
400 grams of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
50 grams of walnuts
50 grams of butter
120 grams of sugar
1 egg

It's a simple recipe, it's delicious and your house will smell great.

Mash up the bananas with a fork and mix in the ingredients. That's it. Complicated, no? I like to add the walnuts last and keep them whole. I prefer them that way but you can chop them up if you like.

Grease and flour your baking pan and bake for about 25 minutes at 200°C.

...and there you have it...


On a different note, I still haven't done much fall decorating but the pictures my mom sent of the pumpkin patch ride my sister and her friends went on have put me in the fall mood so hopefully soon I'll show you my fall decorations....better late than never right? 

Fall in Pennsylvania is just gorgeous. Here are some pictures of the beautiful pumpkin patch my sister visited. I so wish I could have been there with her. 

Those ladies in the back (including my mother) are angels on earth. They are so good with all of the children. It puts my heart at ease and I thank God everyday for the care they give these children. 

This looked like such a fun place to visit. I wish we had a place like this in Italy. 

The farm is called AGA Farms and here is the link if you're in the area and would like to visit. 

I guess I'll just have to make due visiting through Face Time calls from across the Pond! 

Have a great week ahead and God Bless! 



Friday, January 8, 2016

Baked Salmon Fillet with Veggies

Good morning my friends! How's the first week of the new year going for you? Mine is turning out to be pretty good. I'm sticking to my healthy eating plan and have been pretty productive. I've been quite the busy bee (as my grandmother used to call me when I was little hehe).

I wanted to share with you the dinner I made last night that was a real hit. I don't consider myself an expert cook and I don't think I'm any better than the next person that likes to cook but I do like to eat with good quality ingredients and I like to make sure I don't put (too much) crappy food in my body. So as I said in my last post I'm trying to eat better and eliminate most carbs. 

Usually when I come home from work I would break out the cheese and crackers and snack on them while preparing dinner. It was just becoming a really bad habit for me and once I started tracking my calories on my Fitness Pal app I realized just how many extra calories I was adding to my daily intake. I don't want to become a slave when it comes to counting calories either but I realized that I didn't NEED those extra calories so now what I do is either have a glass of cranberry juice that really curbs my cravings or a hot tea when I get home from work. 

Last night I had a salmon fillet in my fridge along with some fresh veggies that I had stocked up on. So I decided to oven bake everything just because I love the crispiness of oven baked veggies. 

The first thing I did was marinate the salmon for about 30 minutes in olive oil, apple cider vinegar and some Ariosto spices for fish. 

I let this marinate covered in the fridge. Then I washed and cut 3 medium sized zucchini, about a cup and a half of squash, and a cup of champignon mushrooms. I coated everything in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and let bake at 200° C for about 15 minutes.

I baked the veggies first because they take longer than the fish then I made room for the salmon fillet and continued baking for another 20 minutes. 

After the 20 minutes baking time, I broiled for about another 10 minutes making everything nice and crispy which is how I love it!

This meal (for two) left us feeling full and satisfied. It was a low calorie dinner that didn't leave me feeling hungry. I was quite pleased!

Do you like salmon? How do you prepare it? 

I hope you all have a fantabulous weekend :-)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sunday Sweets - Pumpkin Pie made with Fresh Pumpkin

Hello dear friends and Happy All Saints Day to my Catholic friends and Happy Sunday Funday to everyone else! 

One of my all time favorite American desserts is Pumpkin Pie. Pumpkin pie doesn't exist here in Italy so I have to make it exist in my home if I want to have a piece.... or two... or four.... 

They don't sell pumpkin purée or pumpkin spice or anything pumpkiny at all except for fresh pumpkin. So I have to make pumpkin pie for myself. I guess it's better than the store bought stuff because it's all made from scratch and has no preservatives or additives and it tastes just like American made pumpkin pie so I'm quite satisfied with this recipe. 

This post is mostly for my international readers who are new to pumpkin pie so I can pass on some of my American Pumpkin Pie making skills to my European friends. I won't post the pie crust recipe because I don't feel very confident yet in making my pie crust. It's either too flaky or it burns too easily or it falls apart. I don't know what I'm doing wrong... I would appreciate any advice you could give me, therefore if anyone would like to share their pie crust recipe in the comments I would be grateful for that. 

I do however know how to make a pumpkin pie filling that is pretty awesome so here it goes... 

I had a pretty big pumpkin so I cut about a one kilogram piece of pumpkin and baked it on a baking sheet for about 45 minutes. 

Once the pumpkin finished cooking I scooped out the flesh and added it to a bowl. 

I then went ahead and puréed it with a hand mixer and let it cool. 

Once everything cooled I added:

-  one 250gr can of sweetened evaporated milk
-  2 eggs and one yolk 
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 1/3 cup of white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon on ginger 
- 1 teaspoon of nutmeg 
- 1\2 teaspoon of salt

I blended everything together in my mixer. 

I buttered and floured my baking pan and added the crust. I let the crust bake for about 10-15 minutes before adding the filling. I added pasta to the crust because I didn't have pie weights or beans (oops). 
I then removed from the oven and added the filing. 

I let the pie bake at 220 degrees Celsius for about 45-55 minutes. 

I added aluminum foil to the crust so as not to burn it during cooking time. 

That's it... Once the pie has cooled it is ready to be served. Enjoy <3

Monday, October 26, 2015

My thoughts on Halloween and Roasted Pumpkin Recipe

Well, it's almost Halloween and I still haven't carved my pumpkin yet. I'm happy to say that Halloween is getting much more popular in Italy. About 10 years ago it really wasn't that known at all. Nonetheless, I always carved my pumpkin each year and put it out on the balcony. The neighbors probably thought I was practising some form of witch craft when I first came here lol because they didn't even know what a jack-o-lantern was. But now they know and I love teaching the children of the neighborhood how to carve or paint a pumpkin and now we even get trick-or-treaters that stop by our house :-)! I love it because it takes me back home.

Halloween was so much fun for me growing up. Those are the kind of memories that stay with you always. I had the best costumes and loved dressing up and putting makeup on because it was really the only time that my parents let me go all out with the makeup.

Italy isn't completely on the Halloween band wagon yet because the Roman Catholic Church sees it as a "Pagan" holiday but I personally don't look at it as a pagan holiday. For me Halloween is a fun children's holiday that has left me with many fond childhood memories so if I ever have children, I choose to let them create the same happy memories that I have created.

One thing I have never seen here are pumpkin patch rides. The picture above is of my sister Cathy that my mom sent me the other day. The home for disabled children that she stays at is such a wonderful institution. They take all the children out every year to a pumpkin patch and it's always such a good time for them! My first post was dedicated to my sister Cathy. You can read a little about that here if you want. Look at that gorgeous hair color! Sometimes I wish I would have never started coloring my hair... Natural hair is so much healthier...
So, I will be making my jack-o-lantern sometime this week and I'll make sure to post a picture of it. I don't get overly creative but I like to switch it up a bit through the years lol! There are such great ideas on the Internet.
I would love to do something like this with teeth. I think these are so cute. It looks a little complicated though. I'll have to try it out and see...
Moving onto the roasted pumpkin...
There are so many pumpkin dessert recipes but pumpkin is also really good served as a side dish and this particular side dish would be perfect for any Thanksgiving dinner for example. Oh and when I say really good...I mean like REALLY good.  I mean so good that after I made this I ate it all like right after taking the pictures... Yes, that good.
Cut the pumpkin into really thin slices. and grill them.
  As you place the grilled pumpkin on your serving dish drizzle each layer with a little olive oil, some thinly sliced garlic cloves and cut up jalapeno peppers and salt. Do this in layers and once done mix up the pumpkin a bit to coat each slice. 

 This is also delicious served on a slice of toasted bread or bruschettas. I hope you'll try it out and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall Decorations and Pumpkin Risotto

Today is officially Fall!! It's still a little too warm here for my liking but slowly the temperature has been getting cooler....very SLOWLY...

I started adding some fall decorations to my living room area and I love how just a few touches of autumn colors are able to create such a romantic and welcoming atmosphere. Here are a few pictures:

On my coffee table I originally had just the lavender in the vase but the other day I saw the most beautiful silk flowers with autumn colors and leaves at a craft store and I immediately put them in my cart and added them to the vase. I think they look beautiful together.  I didn't plan on adding them to the lavender but in the end I think they make the bouquet look fuller and richer. I'm loving the combination.

Then on my dining room table I added some fall leaves I already had to the candle holders that I bought from Marshall's when I was in the States. That is pretty much the extent of my decorating...I know, breathtaking right? :-)
Ok, ok I have something a little more interesting to share with you today than fake flowers...Continuing with the Fall theme, today I will give you my Pumpkin Risotto recipe which I looooove so much and cannot get enough of. This is also the first risotto recipe I share on the blog which is one of my favorite first course dishes to prepare. I surprised myself the first time I made it. When I prepare a new recipe for the first time, I get quite intimidated and never think it will turn out well for some reason. Sometimes it does others it doesn't. The bread I made for the first time was fantastic for example but then last night I tried to make a chocolate soufflé and it was a complete and total disaster...
Anyhoo, the first risotto I made turned out delicious. Each time after that was even better. There are some things I'm better at and others not so much. I am proud to say that my risotto's are the bomb!
Pumpkin Risotto:
Start by cutting about 2 cups of fresh pumpkin flesh into small cubes and in a separate pot bring 1 liter of water to a boil and add one organic vegetable bouillion cube. Some say to add 2 bouillion cubes to 1 liter but I prefer adding just one because I add salt and parmesan cheese later on in the recipe and this way I don't run the risk of the risotto being too salty. I also like to use organic bouillion cubes which I think makes a difference in the taste.

In a large pan or a wok, sauté one finely chopped shallot in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until translucent. Add the diced pumpkin and mix well making sure to coat the pumpkin with the olive oil and shallot.  After about 2-3 minutes simmer with a half a cup of dry white wine until reduced.

After the wine has evaporated, add about one cup of rice. One cup of uncooked rice will double when cooked so you get about 2 servings.

You want to stir in the rice and let it "toast" a bit in the pan - this will only take about 2 minutes but make sure you keep stirring. You want to start warming up the rice and get it ready for the hot broth you will be adding shortly. The key to a good risotto is to never leave it unattended. You need to keep stirring and stirring and stirring so that it doesn't stick to the bottom and so the rice cooks equally all around. It's a good arm workout as well! :-)
Begin adding 2 ladle's of hot broth and stir. Once you see the broth dry up add another ladle and continue adding one ladle at a time until the rice is almost cooked through. Do not let the rice cook too much or else you will have a soggy, sticky and gross risotto. Taste it. If you can bite through the grain of rice but still feel that it's firm, turn off the heat. Add about 3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, a full teaspoon of butter guessed it... stir. Taste it at this point and see if you need to add extra salt. Add some pepper and a tablespoon of finely chopped parsley.
Stir until everything is mixed well and serve.
Now you have yourself an amazing pumpkin risotto!! Buon appetito!