Pumpkin-Pecan Whole Grain Waffles

Yesterday my hubby woke up and asked if we could have Pumpkin Waffles. I thought that was a funny request since I've never made Pumpkin Waffles before. We do pumpkin pancakes quite often. Of course, I'm always up for the culinary challenge so I made a face at him and set to work.

In case you haven't noticed, this time of year we throw pumpkin into everything so I figured, why not? If you're looking for something a little different to grace your breakfast table, try these. We made a double batch and froze some for another breakfast. You could always skip the pecans if you're not a fan or even substitute with walnuts or almonds. Pumpkin is a great source of fiber and it's full of carotenoids, which are antioxidants. Since it's cold and flu season, we're always looking for ways to incorporate antioxidants into our meals.

Did you know that an ounce (9 grams) of pumpkin seeds has the same amount of protein as an ounce of meat? (Check out The Doctors Book of Food Rememdies). You could even throw some toasted pumpkin seeds on top of the waffles.

Pumpkin-Pecan Whole Grain Waffles

½ cup butter, melted

1 cup pumpkin puree

4 eggs

1 ½ cups raw milk

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

½ cup wheat germ

2 tablespoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ cup chopped pecans

Maple syrup


1. Using a mixer, beat eggs and raw milk. Add pumpkin and butter.

2. Add flour, wheat germ and baking powder. Mix.

3. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and sea salt. Mix.

4. Add chopped pecans.

5. Follow instructions on waffle maker. Serve drizzled with real maple syrup.


Our 2009 Thanksgiving Menu

We'll be dining at 4:30 p.m. today with my parents, Ericlee's parents, and of course, our cutie little girls. Meilani is so excited to have "that bird" she named Sally!

Here's our menu:

Baked Brie with Cranberries & Pecans with Trader Joe's Everything Crackers
Butternut Squash Soup
Nana's Whole Wheat Crescent Rolls

Herbed Roasted Turkey
Whole Wheat Stuffing
Cranberry-Pomegranate Sauce
Homemade Green Bean Casserole
Nama's Armenian Pilaf

Pumpkin Pie & Blueberry Pie with Whole Wheat Orange Crust
Nana's Pizzelle cookies
Spiced Apple Cider


Thanksgiving Makeover: Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pomegranate & Mint

Our family loves all the Thanksgiving traditions. We love food, football and family. We love a chance to contemplate our country's beginnings and an opportunity to share our abundance with others. However, we have discovered through the years that we don't really like the comatose state that follows the Big Turkey Meal. The last couple of years we have been on a journey to find more locally-focused, healthy-inspired versions of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes. One stipulation is we were not willing to compromise on taste. We believe that feasting once in a while is not only good it's Biblical. Celebration with family and community is important to us. We just want our food choices to reflect our lifestyle.

Tomorrow morning we will be running the Annual Turkey Trot in Fresno. This is a family tradition we've continued for many years to start out our big Turkey Day with exercise and celebrating community. This year I will be running the 5k with my dad and Ericlee and the girls will be cheering us on with Nana Maria. After our meal we also take a family walk through the neighborhood and say hello to friends. We indulge in the color show presented by the fall leaves.

When it comes to holiday foods, it's all about baby steps. The first year we tried this we added a homemade Green Bean Casserole to our Thanksgiving and tried out our Banana Pumpkin Muffin recipe, which can be used for a bread or a dessert at the meal. Last year we wrote all about that experience.

This year we are sharing the cooking duties with my mom and mother-in-law. For dinner, our family is contributing our traditional Butternut Squash Soup, Green Bean Casserole and a shazam appetizer we made in our Cooking Club a few years back - Baked Brie with Dried Cranberries and Pecans with Whole Grain Crackers. We even convinced Ericlee's mom to make the stuffing with whole wheat bread - major milestone!

Our poll at the right suggests some of you are interested in a "makeover" version of sweet potatoes. We're actually ditching sweet potatoes this year as we minimized the number of dishes are serving for 6 adults and 2 kids. However, this is a dish I make throughout the winter months when sweet potatoes are ripe in the garden or at the market. You won't find marshmallows and brown sugar in this one but you will find some other secret ingredients to wow your guests. Buon Appetito!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pomegranate & Mint

1/3 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (arils)
Chopped fresh mint, for garnish

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, olive oil and salt.
3. Put cut potatoes into a 3-quart baking dish or 9x13 dish. Pour maple syrup mixture over the potatoes. Toss to coat.
4. Cover with tin foil and bake for about 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
5. Uncover potatoes and stir. Bake an additional 30 minutes.
6. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top with chopped mint. Serve.


Turkey Leftovers: So Many Options, So Many Choices

The big Turkey Day is coming and it's time to rev up those menus. I've been perusing food magazines and recipe files for weeks for new healthy spins on the traditional Thanksgiving dishes. But to be honest my fave part of this holiday is not the Thanksgiving meal at all; it's what I get to create with all the lovely leftovers. Since some of you will probably be shopping and making your menus in the next few days, consider a few extra ingredients for these "Luscious Leftover" dishes.

Last year, we turned our leftover turkey and veggies into Turkey-Lime Tortilla Soup. Don't throw that turkey carcass away. I know, I know, some of you are flinching because I just said the word carcass. Making turkey stock isn't as hard as you think. It's basically throwing all the bones from the turkey carving into a pot and adding a few spices. This is a great money-saving tip as well. If the turkey-lime flavors are not your style, you can use the turkey stock for any of your favorite soups.

This year I want to try out a Turkey Pot Pie and a White Bean Turkey Chili. Both of these are great opportunities to use leftover turkey and fresh vegetables with a healthy twist. I've been working up this pot pie recipe for a few weeks now. I love homemade crust. This whole wheat crust is great during winter when oranges are in season. If you want to save time, pick up some ready-made pie crusts from the freezer section at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. The key to this pie is using the vegetables and ingredients that are in season. For winter, broccoli, potatoes and carrots are a great choice. In summer, try corn or zuchinni. In spring, break out the fresh peas or asparagus.

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Pot Pie


Crust: (Best if made ahead; should be enough for two pie crusts or the top & bottom of an 8x8 Pyrex dish for pot pie)
-2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 cup + 1/2 tablespoon organic butter
-2 teaspoons grated orange peel
-1/4 cup cold orange juice
-1 tablespoon cold water

-1/3 cup organic butter
-1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper
-1/2 teaspoon paprika
-1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder (or chili powder or red pepper flakes, depending on how much spice you desire)
-1 teaspoon parsley
-1 3/4 cups organic cage-free chicken broth
-2/3 cup raw milk
-1/2 cup onions, chopped
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-2 cups turkey or chicken, shredded and cooked
-1 cup carrots (or diced potatoes or corn), chopped
-1 cup broccoli, chopped (or peas)
-1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded


1. Prepare pie crusts. If making the homemade crust, measure out flour and salt. Cut butter into dry mixture and use pastry blender or large fork to blend until forms pea-sized balls.
2. Add orange peel, water and orange juice and mix together until dough can be formed into two large discs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
3. Chop and prepare all vegetables.
4. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
5. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir in paprika, chipotle pepper and parsley. Cook until mixture bubbles (approximately 2-3 minutes).
6. Stir in broth and milk. Heat to boiling and stir continuously for one minute.
7. Stir in turkey, cheese and vegetables. Remove from heat.
8. Roll out pie crusts into shape of your pot pie dish. (I like to use an 8x8 pyrex but you can use a round, deep pie dish or double the recipe and use a 9x13 for a larger family or leftovers.)
9. Ease pastry into dish and line edges. Pour in filling.
10. Top with second pie crust and turn edges of pastry under or flute. (Hint: Even if your pie crust is crumbly or doesn't lay perfectly on top you can still use it. Just dump all the crust & crumbs on top of your pie.)
11. Bake about 35 minutes or until golden brown on top.


Recipe of the Week: Maple-Pecan Chicken Wonton Cups

Many of you have been asking me for this recipe so I thought this would be a good week to share my fave appetizer. This is a great show-stopper and, outside of "wonton wrappers," it doesn't require tons of special ingredients. You can follow the recipe or make your own version of chicken salad to fill the cups. A variation of this recipe recently won first prize in the Hidden V*lley R*nch recipe contest at the Big Fresno Fair.

The judges write their comments on the entries for the contest.

Maple-Pecan Chicken Wonton Cups

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (12 ounces)
1 cup water
24 wonton skins
Olive oil spray
3 tablespoons maple syrup
24 whole pecans
2 carrots or 1 red pepper (1 cup), finely chopped
1 small zucchini (1 cup), finely chopped
¼ cup green onions, chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries
1 cup mayonnaise (Trader Joe's)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh basil chopped

1. Add water and chicken breasts to a small pot. Cover and boil on medium-high heat approximately 20 minutes. Set aside chicken to cool.
2. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with olive oil. Place wonton skin in each muffin hole. Using fingers, gently push skin down into muffin hole shape. Spray each skin with olive oil spray.
3. Bake in oven for 8 minutes until wontons are hard and golden brown. (Do not overcook.) Remove and set on a platter.
4. In a small frying pan, add maple syrup and pecans. Heat on medium-low. Stir pecans to coat until maple syrup begins to bubble. Cool.
5. Assemble chicken salad. Dice chicken into small pieces. Mix with carrots (or red pepper), zucchini, green onions and dried cranberries. Add ranch dressing, mayonnaise, salt and fresh basil.
6. Use a tablespoon to add heaping spoonful of chicken salad to each wonton cup. Top with a whole maple-pecan. Serve.

Servings: 12 (2 cups each)


Cooking Club enjoys ethnic food lesson from Ethiopian friends

Our Cooking Club celebrated the arrival of our friend Stacie's adopted son from Ethiopia with an Ethiopian Cooking lesson. Stacie's friends, Emebet and Desta, who are from Ethiopia, came over to teach us some traditional dishes. In the photo, Desta (far left) with daughter (in red) pose next to Stacie, Nathanael, me, Cori, Mary (holding Samuel) and Emebet is front and center showing off our "raw materials" before the cooking began.

Emebet and Desta first showed us how to make a garlic-ginger mixture that is used in the majority of Ethiopian dishes. They make this in large quantities so it is fresh and ready for cooking.

**To make ginger-garlic spice mixture: Cut tops off two heads of garlic. Separate cloves and peel. Chop cloves finely. Peel ginger, slice and chop finely. Add garlic and ginger together with 2 tablespoons sea salt. Use rolling pin to smash garlic and ginger together. (Used as a fresh spice for all types of Ethiopian cooking.)

Next we got to work on chopping all the vegetables and making our various dishes. This spiced red lentil dish quickly heated up the kitchen with its rich aroma. The Ethiopians use a spice mix called "berbere," which gives this lentil dish its complex flavor and spicy kick.

Split Red Lentils (Key Wot)

2 red onions
5 tablespoons berbere (Ethiopian chili powder)
2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
1 can tomato paste
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic mixture**
2 1/2 cups red lentils
2 fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cardamom

1. Finely chop red onions.

2. Put large pot over high heat with 1 1/2 cup olive oil to coat red onions. Sauté until very tender.

3. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt over red onions. Stir onions as they cook to soften.

4. Stir frequently but keep pot covered in between.

5. Reduce heat to medium.

6. Add berbere spice to pot.

7. Add 1 tablespoon of ginger-garlic spice mixture (prepared ahead of time) to pot. Stir in. You want it to be emulsified.

8. Cook approximately 5 minutes.

9. Add one can tomato paste to pot and stir vigorously to blend in. This will look like a tomato-onion paste.

10. Add ¾ cup water to pot with lentils. Cook 5 minutes until water simmers off.

11. Add 3-4 cups water to pot with lentils.

12. Add additional ½ cup of water at a time to see how the consistency looks & lentils are soft. Lentils will continue to absorb water. (You want watery split pea soup.)

13. Add additional heaping tablespoon of ginger-garlic mixture to pot. Stir in 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon ground cardamom.

**See recipe above. Used as a fresh spice for all types of Ethiopian cooking.

 This yellow split pea dish is inexpensive to make and very flavorful. Turmeric is added to the peas to give it a spiced flavor and deepen the color. Turmeric is supposed to be good for combatting Alzheimer's Disease and has many other healing qualities.

Alicha (Ater Keke)


1 white onion

4 teaspoons sea salt

2 cups yellow split peas

1 teaspoon turmeric


1. Boil 2 cups yellow split peas with 6 cups water until water is fully absorbed. Set aside.

2. Heat 6 cups of water in a kettle or pot.

3. Meanwhile, peel and slice 1 large white onion.

4. Put large pot on medium-high heat with ½ cup olive oil to coat white onions.

5. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt over onions.

6. Cover pot and continue to stir frequently.

7. Reduce heat to medium.

8. Add 1 ¼ teaspoon turmeric to the pot.

9. Add cooked yellow split peas to the pot.

10. Add 5 cups hot water from kettle.

11. Add 1 heaping tablespoon garlic-ginger spice mixture* to pot & blend in. Add additional two teaspoons of salt to dish (to taste).

12. Add additional teaspoon of garlic-ginger to mixture (to taste). **(Recipe above.)

This yummy vegetable dish called Gomen is made a variety of ways. Emebet explained that she likes hers plain without a lot of other spices but some Ethiopians add turmeric, which gives it a bright yellow color.

Gomen (Cabbage)


1 large head green cabbage

1 large white onion

2 red potatoes

8 carrots

4 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon garlic-ginger

*1 whole jalapeno (don’t open, put in whole pepper for flavor and remove after cooking) or ¾ green pepper, coarsely chopped (remove after cooking)

1. Chop onions and saute in large pot with 2 tabespoons olive oil. Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoon salt over onions.

2. Meanwhile, peel off outer layers of cabbage. Wash leaves. Coarsely chop whole cabbage head.

3. Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes.

4. Peel carrots, quarter them lengthwise then cut into 2-inch wedges.
5. Add chopped cabbage to pot with one cup water and cover.

6. Add potatoes when cabbage is wilted and stir together. Cover pot.

7. Stirring frequently, cover pot, then turn down to medium heat.

8. Add carrots to pot. Cook 10 minutes.

9. Add heaping tablespoon of garlic-ginger mixture** (Recipe above.) to pot.

10. Reduce heat to low and keep covered. Cook additional 10 minutes.

After our meal was cooked, we served it up on Ethiopian bread called "injera," which is like a giant pancake/crepe. These were made homemade by a woman in Fresno. It's a 3-day process to make the bread so we bought it from her. Ethiopian food is then eaten with the hands and scooped up with the injera bread. We added a fresh fruit salad to cool some of the flavors. 
 We were all stuffed by the end of this fabulous vegetarian feast!

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