Tag Archives: buy local

Easy Pumpkin Pie Dip

If there’s one flavor that defines the holiday season for me (besides maybe peppermint for Christmas) it’s pumpkin. (Have I mentioned this before?) :)

I love pumpkin. I love it in pies, cakes, breads, lattes, fudge, you name it. But, those things don’t always fit in with my mission to stick with wholesome, natural, real foods. Pumpkin is very healthy and nutrient-rich, but all the sugar, whipped cream, and other things we muck it up with are most definitely not.

That’s why I love the days between Halloween and Thanksgiving, when pumpkins and winter squash are abundant, and super cheap! If you haven’t already visited your local farm stand, drop what you’re doing and go. NOW!

I did, and I brought ALL these beauties home for a mere $3 total! The Cinderella pumpkin alone should yield at least 16 cups. How’s that for maximizing your food dollar? :)

What? You’ve never cooked a pumpkin? You’re not alone. Most people I come across tell me that they would, but they don’t know how. Pumpkins (and all winter squash), with their hard, intimidating exterior can be offputting.  But, fresh pumpkin has SO  many benefits:

  • Your purchase can help support a local farmer.
  • Fresh produce hasn’t lost any nutrient content through processing.
  • No can! Cans can leach toxic things into your pumpkin, not to mention they have to be transported, recycled, blah, blah, yuck.

If these things are important to you, you’re in luck! It really is extremely easy to prepare a pumpkin for your favorite recipe! There are several ways, but here’s my method:

  • Wash pumpkin.
  • Split pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds. Cut halves into wedges if they are large.
  • Put pumpkin, cut side down, into a baking dish with about 1″ of water. (Check water and add more if it gets too low during baking.)
  • Bake at 350 degrees until fork tender.
  • Remove from oven, let cool. Scoop out flesh (use an ice cream scooper!) and use in your favorite recipe! (I like to put mine in the food processor for a quick whirrr if it looks fibrous. )

My favorite way to use our stash of fresh pumpkin puree? Pumpkin Butter!

Find details on my recipe here.

Keep pumpkin butter in your fridge throughout the fall and winter. You can use it on toast, in oatmeal, for baking, even over ice cream. And if you’re heading to or hosting a party, here’s the easiest holiday recipe ever!

Pumpkin Pie Dip

  • 1 cup pumpkin butter (the thicker, the better)
  • 8 oz neufchatel cheese

Combine ingredients in a bowl; whip until smooth. Add extra cinnamon or nutmeg to taste. Serve with gingersnaps or graham crackers. (For a little extra flair, serve dip in a tiny, hollowed out sugar pumpkin!)

*This recipe is easily doubled or tripled.

Is it healthy? Well, that’s all relative, isn’t it? Sure, it has a little fat and some sugar, but if you’re looking for the true taste of fall made with real ingredients, fresh produce and nothing artificial,  this might be right up your alley (and you’re probably supporting a local grower while you’re at it!  :D )

Put it on the buffet and watch it fly! Happy entertaining, everyone!



Filed under Green Living, Recipes & Food

Finally, That Fall Feeling!

I’m finally getting fall fever!

Fall always used to be my favorite season. But, for the past few years (since I started my long commute) winter is just so dang scary that I spend most of fall worrying about it, and last year, I pretty much missed fall altogether because of the all-encompassing arrival of my little man. :)

But today, I decided that I needed a neck pumpkin for a recipe, so we headed down to THE place in our area for pumpkins, gourds, and all things autumnal: Bailey’s Market in Selinsgrove. I remember when this place was just tiny!

So I closed up the laptop, left the cell at home, gathered up my boys and immersed myself in that “crunchy orange leaf” feeling. I did bring my camera, though. ;)

And you know what? It was the best day I’ve had in a really long time. It’s official: I’m totally loving fall again. (Isn’t it just incredible how having a tiny, new perspective along puts the wonder back into everything?)

….and my personal favorites, the Fairy Tale pumpkin!

Oh, and about that neck pumpkin…we got one, and the recipe turned out great!

Next post, I promise!

Any guesses?


Filed under Green Living, Home & Garden, Parenting & Family, Recipes & Food, The Everyday

Know Your Neighbors: Tomatillo Chicken Stew

I don’t want to invite trouble, but I just might be able to die a happy woman after this weekend. It was perfect. Yup, I said it. Perfect.

There was a little time spent in the kiddie pool, a fun impromptu picnic snack with Daddy, a short but delicious nap, and lots of baby snuggles. All wonderful, but there was a high point…

It was my first Saturday off in months, and I was busting at the seams at the thought of spending the whole day with my boy (make that boys.) It was also my first opportunity to check out the Selinsgrove Farmer’s Market. Don’t get too excited…it’s not like many of the others I’ve seen and salivated over on other blogs. But, small as it may be, there were treasures to be had!

We met a local farmer, Giles, who told us that he operates an organic farm nearby, Mystic Springs. And get this: he’s one of our neighbors! I had no idea! We chatted for a bit, and he told us that he and his wife have 8 children, and their desire to feed their family organic foods is what sparked their farming career. They’ve chosen not to seek certification, but they do run a sustainable, energy efficient, organic farm. What a find! I can’t stress this enough: Get to know your local farmers!

This totally makes up for that guy in Lewisburg who told me pesticides were OK because “my daughter eats my peaches and she’s fine…” :roll:

Here’s the Mystic Springs farmstand, CSA baskets and all…

We grow many of the same items, so we didn’t need much, but I just couldn’t pass up the challenge of the tomatillos!

Pretty, aren’t they?

We picked up a brochure and found that the Mystic Springs mission statement includes “integrating spirituality with farming” and Giles’ wife, Marcia, is a lactation counselor! I wonder if I can talk them into being our new best friends… :D

I strolled away, tomatillos and a few other purchases in hand, feeling a little less alone in the world. *sigh*

So what do you do with tomatillos? I wasn’t feeling the salsa idea so much, so I set out on a Google hunt for a new recipe…and found Tomatillo Chicken Stew! 

This recipe required me to roast the tomatillos under the broiler (which was fun because they pop and squeal!) and make them into a sauce, which I refrigerated overnight to let the flavors meld. I finished the stew up on Sunday in a matter of about 35 minutes. It was a tart change of pace, and we really enjoyed it! Although next time, it definitely needs a little more heat. My jalapenos must be a little dull…

Here are some pictures of the “stew progression.” For the sake of time (since the baby is tucked in and I’d like to savor the last few hours of my perfect weekend with my husband…) you can find the original recipe here.

Many thanks to Giles and his family for their produce, which mingled with ours in a lovely locally grown collaboration. They are expecting delicata squash next week…I can’t wait! 

Go bug a local farmer today. You’ll be glad you did!


Do you make an effort to support local farmers? Have you found any hidden gems?

Have you ever eaten a tomatillo?


Filed under Green Living, Recipes & Food