Archive | November, 2013

Making Breakfast Easy | Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

23 Nov

Clearly I’m obsessed with pumpkin. I’ve fallen head over heels for the flavors of Fall. Last night my friend Dillan (Instagram handle: dillandigi) posted a photo of an overnight pumpkin oatmeal he was prepping for the morning. This was the inspiration for the recipe that I’m posting here today.

A few weeks ago, when Kate was traveling in Texas for work, I made myself pumpkin oatmeal in the slow cooker. It had good flavor, but it made a ton and the edges got kind of well done. So last night, I was looking online for overnight refrigerated oatmeal recipes, but decided that I might not like the texture, or that they might not be to my liking once heated up (since I didn’t want cold oatmeal this morning). Of course, typical me, I decided to wing a pumpkin oatmeal recipe this morning, inspired by this Choco-Banana-Chia Oatmeal recipe that Dillan posted on his blog in September (it’s especially tasty)!

pumpkinoats

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

makes 1 serving

Ingredients

1/2 c Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Rolled Oats
1 c boiling water
1 TBS 100% pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 TBS chia seeds
1 tsp organic virgin coconut oil
2 tsp pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 pinch all natural sea salt (fine)
1 TBS organic dried cranberries

1) Add boiling water to the oatmeal and stir. I like my oatmeal a little on the thicker side, so I also microwave the oats and boiling water for 25 seconds, then stir.

2) Add pumpkin, chia seeds, coconut oil, pumpkin pie spice and stir.

3) Top with maple syrup, a pinch of salt and dried cranberries.

4) Enjoy!

Notes:
– Be sure to keep a close eye on your oatmeal in the microwave, if left unsupervised it can overflow & leave a mess.
– If you like your oatmeal unsweetened, omit the maple syrup–or for a less sweet option, reduce the syrup to 1 tsp.
– Feel free to use oats that are not gluten-free, the recipe would work just as well.
– Other delicious toppings would include: sprouted almonds, toasted pecans, or whipped cream.

Another great advantage of this recipe is that it is really healthy and costs almost nothing to make. All of the ingredients included in this recipe were items we had in our pantry–can’t get much better than that! 🙂

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Gettin’ Old is Rough | DIY Easy Entry Litter Box

19 Nov

We have a 17.5 year old cat. His name is Sitar, and he is the most beautiful cat I have ever seen. I had originally gotten him when he was 4 yeas old from a coworker of mine who was moving back to the west coast and couldn’t take him on the plane with him.

Sitar is a Maine Coon/Siamese mix and apparently his original owner had chosen him out of a litter, he was the most Siamese looking kitten of the bunch and fit in the palm of his hand. He grew to 27lbs at his heaviest!

Fast forward four years, I’m living at my parents’ house and Sitar has become my new roommate. My aunt calls him a lion cub, and he wins over my dad’s heart.

from 2009 one of my favorite Sitar photos

from 2009 one of my favorite Sitar photos

I know he doesn’t get much screen time on the blog these days. He spends most of his time sleeping in a dog bed at the end of our bed, settled into an oldie routine, he knows his meal schedule, and is sure to remind us whenever he can! He isn’t as limber as he once was, he seems stiffer as the years get on. So I decided to research an easier entry litter box for him, so he could just step inside instead of having to hop in and out.

My research did not yield many results for plain easy large covered litter boxes. I found one at Target, by Boots and Barkley, that was large and covered and had a lower opening it retailed for $23.99. I did read a bunch of posts
online, about making your own out of a Sterilite or Rubbermaid container with a lid. So I decided to try it.

DIY easy entry litterbox (L)

DIY easy entry litterbox (L)

Materials

1 18 Gallon Sterilite Storage Bin with Lid (available at Target for $5.49)

1 box cutter or sharp scissors

1 ruler

1 Sharpie Marker

Directions

1) Measure the height of the opening of the current litter box that your senior cat is using. Sitar’s litter box opening was 8″ from the ground. I knew I wanted it to be lower, but he needed to have a little bit of a wall so he wouldn’t have an accident and pee outside of the box, so I made the opening 4″ from the floor.

2) The actual shape and design of the Sterilite container is perfect to use as the opening of the litter box. I just measured 4″ from the floor and then traces the rest of the shape of the plastic front. As seen in the photo above it mimicked the shape of his original litter box opening.

3) Using a box cutter, I cut the straight line of the bottom of the opening first, then continued to cut the rest of the opening outline.

4) Fill the new easy entry litter box with the brand of litter that your elderly cat currently uses. It should be filled about 2-3″ deep. Cover the box with the lid and place it where the old litter box was living.

Notes:
– Sitar is on day four of using his new box, and everything seems great.
– Sitar uses World’s Best Cat Litter with no scent, and it seems to work best for him, since he is probably like having two cats anyway.
– He definitely has an easier time getting into this one, he just steps in and does his business.
– Our friends Casey & Dave modified the litter box that their cat, Wee Wee, was using by cutting the opening down to the floor and that worked for her. That is an alternative to buying a container, if your cat tends to not go to the bathroom right at the front of the box.

sitar our dusty old man

sitar our dusty old man

Sitar loves Halo Spot’s Stew canned food, My Little Lion cat treats, and messing with his two Boston Terrier brothers. He has also been known to enjoy the occasional piece of Sara Lee Turkey Breast and adventures in the great outdoors our tiny back deck. His favorite time of year is Christmas, mainly because it is when we get a real tree and he loves to drink the fresh water for the tree. It’s when the outdoors come in for the holidays 🙂

Fallin’ for Pumpkin | Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream

17 Nov

“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms.” – You’ve Got Mail


There are many things that I love about Fall. It holds a certain sense of nostalgia for me, a kind of love affair and anticipation of all the things that I love. New England in the Fall all that I have ever known. Memories of being a hooded little version of myself jumping in piles of leaves and making Simon the scarecrow with my Gram. Pumpkin carving, trick or treating, celebrating all of the wonderful Fall birthdays in my family, and favorite Fall foods like acorn squash, pumpkin everything, and apple pies.

As an adult, I have my own traditions built on the life that Kate and I share together. The Halloween costumes remain as well as recipes riddled with pumpkin and fall flavors. The following recipe is one that I made for the annual Diesel Halloween party, it could be made with dairy and it would be just as tasty, as always I like a baking challenge and also try to bake things that all the guests at the party can enjoy!

Vegan Pumpkin Bliss

Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream

adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

2 c 100% pure canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2/3 c canola oil
2 c organic vegan sugar
1/2 c organic vanilla soy milk
1/2 tsp Bragg’s organic and raw cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur Flour)
 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp all natural fine sea salt

Maple Buttercream

adapted from Wilton’s Classic Buttercream Icing

Yield: generous frosting for 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 c Spectrum Non-hydrogenated Vegetable Shortening
1 c Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (softened)
2 tsp vanilla extract
8 c confectioners’ sugar (sifted)
4 TBS organic vanilla soy milk
4 TBS organic maple syrup
pinch of all natural fine sea salt

Cupcake Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin pans with cupcake wrappers.

2) In a small bowl combine the soy milk and cider vinegar and let stand for 5 minutes. This will make vegan buttermilk.

3) In a large bowl stir together the pumpkin, canola oil, sugar, vegan buttermilk, and vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Stir together with a fork, don’t use a mixer it will make the batter gummy.

4) Once combined fill the liners two-thirds full. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes. Rotate cupcake trays at approximately 14 minutes into the total baking time to ensure even baking.

5) Remove cupcakes from pans and transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Directions

1) In large bowl, cream shortening and Earth Balance with electric mixer. Add vanilla.

2) Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry.

3) Add soy milk and maple syrup, then beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Remember to taste the frosting as you are adding the maple syrup, keep adding by the TBS until you achieve your desired taste. If the frosting appears to thick, add more soy milk, but be cautious   and add a little at a time in order to not thin it out too much.

4) Once you have reached the desired consistency, then add a pinch of sea salt and beat just to incorporate. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

These cupcakes were a big hit at the party. Kate said that the cake was the best pumpkin cake I’ve ever made, they were super moist and flavorful. You would never know they were vegan. Also, when dreaming up the frosting flavor, Kate doubted my decision to try a maple frosting, remarking that it might not be a flavor combo that appeals to the masses. She voted for a cinnamon buttercream, but I went with my gut and it was amazing.

Notes:
– This recipe could be made non-vegan by substituting butter in for Earth Balance and whole milk for the soy milk.
– An easy way to frost cupcakes is to fill a plastic Ziploc bag with frosting and cut one bottom corner of the bag off. Twist close the top opening of the bag and squeeze some frosting back into the bowl to remove any air pockets. Then start from the center of your cupcake and with even pressure move in a spiral until you fill the cupcake to the edge. Don’t worry if you mess up, just scrape the frosting back into the frosting bowl using a butter knife.

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