Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Spread or Dip

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After I made my Pumpkin Hummus, I had half of a can of pumpkin left over. What to do with it? I thought some of it might be good in a cream cheese spread. I was inspired by this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens. I wanted to sweeten the spread with honey instead of sugar (although you could use brown sugar instead if you want to have a thicker spread) and made some other changes, and this is what I ended up with!

It’s a lightly sweet and spicy spread with a very creamy texture that’s great on bagels or pumpkin bread for breakfast. Or, use as an appetizer spread on crackers or as a dip for fruit. It’s very soft and creamy when you mix it up so it does need to be refrigerated for at least an hour or two after mixing. Even after it’s refrigerated, it’s more creamy than other cream cheese spreads I’ve made–so if you want a thicker spread, use brown sugar instead of honey and omit the vanilla. If you don’t have all the spices I used in this, you can use 1 1/4 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.

PUMPKIN SPICE CREAM  CHEESE SPREAD by NancyCreative, adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese or light cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 Tablespoons honey (or substitute brown sugar for a thicker spread)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In medium bowl, blend all ingredients together until smooth (if using an electric mixer, blend on medium speed). Pour mixture into a small serving bowl, then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Makes about 1 1/2 cups of spread. Serve on bagels or pumpkin bread for breakfast. Or, serve as an appetizer with crackers or apple and pear slices.

If you like pumpkin-flavored things, you’ll need to try this out! What other ways do you like to use leftover canned pumpkin?

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Pumpkin Hummus

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I started eating hummus about 10 years ago. A coworker and friend of mine made the best hummus, and he’d bring me some every so often. And I have been a big hummus fan ever since! I usually make this hummus recipe, but I thought I’d try making some hummus with pumpkin in it for the holidays. I liked most of the ingredients in this Pumpkin Hummus recipe and this one, so I used them as a starting point. I really like this Pumpkin Hummus! It’s a great healthy dip–really smooth and creamy, with a light pumpkin, savory taste. Perfect for balancing out all those holiday sweets! If you’re making this for a party or large group, you may want to double the recipe.

PUMPKIN HUMMUS by NancyCreative

Makes about 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas), drained
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or a little more, to taste)

Add all ingredients in a food processor, starting with the garbanzo beans, and process until smooth.

To serve, spoon out on a platter or in a small bowl. Sometimes I garnish it with a little paprika. Serve with veggies, crackers, or pita bread.

It’s nice when a dip that tastes good is healthy, too! What are some of your healthy holiday snack recipes?

I Will Give Thanks

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This chalkboard art is available on Etsy at Lily & Val.

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart….The Lord is gracious and merciful. He provides food for those who fear him; He remembers His covenant forever. He has shown His people the power of His works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations. The works of His hands are faithful and just….” PSALM 111:1, 4-7 (ESV)

Wishing you a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

Sourdough-Sage Dressing

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I’ve just recently discovered how much I like making recipes with fresh sage! After making some White Cheddar and Sage Biscuits, I was wanting to try something else with fresh sage. While I was looking through recipes, I also found out, conveniently, that my friend Denise had a big patch of sage growing in her garden and she was willing to share it! She said her plant is very hearty and stays alive through the winter. So, here’s what I came up with…Sourdough-Sage Dressing…because I thought sourdough bread would be a great combination with  sage, onion, and celery.  There’s also fresh parsley in this–I have parsley growing in a pot and it’s great to always have it on hand! This dressing is very buttery and savory…so if you like that type of thing, you really must try this!

I also learned something new when I was deciding what to name this recipe. I wasn’t sure if I should call it dressing or stuffing, because I didn’t know what the difference was. Well, I found the answer at eHow.com–dressing and stuffing differ in these ways:

Preparation: The key difference between dressing and stuffing is the method of preparation. Dressing can be prepared separately from the bird on the stove top, either from scratch or a store-bought mix. Stuffing, however, is made by stuffing the mixture into the cavity of the bird and cooking them in the oven together. 

Time: Another difference between stuffing and dressing is in the time needed to prepare it. Stuffing inside the bird must be cooked as long as the bird needs to cook, and also increases the cooking time of the bird. Dressing can be made quickly on the stove top or in the oven; either way it will take less time than stuffing.

Flavor: Stuffing made inside the bird can pick up flavors from the bird and impart flavors to the bird. This may be desirable or undesirable depending on the method of preparing the bird. The flavor of dressing depends solely on its ingredients.

So this recipe is definitely dressing. Consider yourself informed on the dressing/stuffing question! :)

SOURDOUGH-SAGE DRESSING by NancyCreative

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan, about 8 to 10 servings

  • 1 loaf sourdough bread (my loaf was 1 lb. 4 oz. and I did not use the end slices), with slices cut into 1″ pieces (or you can cut them smaller if you want)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/3 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 4 to 5 Tablespoons fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped (or use 4 teaspoons dried parsley)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can chicken broth (this dressing can be a little on the dry side in some places, so if you like your dressing more moist, add an extra 1/4 to 1/3 cup chicken broth).

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spread out pieces of bread onto a large baking sheet and let dry out at least 6 hours or overnight.

In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat, then add olive oil and stir to blend well. Saute onion and celery in this mixture until tender.

In large bowl, mix together bread pieces, onion-celery mixture, sage, parsley, salt, and pepper (and garlic powder, if using), tossing to coat all the bread pieces. Spoon this mixture into a 9 x 13″ pan and pour chicken broth evenly over entire mixture. Cover with foil and bake at 350˚F for 30 minutes, uncovering the last 10 minutes of baking time. Serve immediately.

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This would be a great Thanksgiving side dish, if you’re still looking for ideas! Are you making dressing or stuffing for your Thanksgiving meal?

Candy Corn M&M’s Crispy Bars

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Crispy bars are great, and I think they’re even better when you make them with extra add-ins! Last winter, I made some Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cup Crispy Treats which were really good, so I thought I’d try an autumn version with candy corn. I found this recipe at MyRecipes.com which had both candy corn and M&M’s. I thought I’d add some chopped peanuts in there, too, since I like the candy corn-chocolate-peanut combination. You could use cashews instead of peanuts, if you like. I also changed the amounts of some of the ingredients from the original recipe, which I’ve noted in my version below. If you like sweet-and-salty treats, I think you’ll like these, although they’re more sweet than they are salty. If you’d like them saltier, you could add a little less candy corn or M&M’s, and a little more chopped nuts to the crispy treats mixture. If you prefer your crispy treats all sweet, you can omit the nuts and add in some extra candy corn or M&M’s. I liked using the M&M’s Minis in these treats, but you can also use the regular size M&M’s.

CANDY CORN AND M&M’s CRISPY BARS by NancyCreative, adapted from MyRecipes Makes a 9 x 13″ pan

For Bars:

  • 5 1/2 cups rice cereal
  • 3/4 cup candy corn
  • 3/4 cup M&M’s Minis (or regular M&M’s)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely-chopped salted peanuts (or cashews)
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag miniature marshmallows

For Chocolate/Candy Corn Topping:

  • 1 cup white semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup candy corn

ncCndyCrnMMBrs2nmSpray a 9 x 13″ pan with nonstick cooking spray, grease well with butter, or line pan with parchment paper; set aside (I lined my pan with parchment paper).

In a large bowl, add the rice cereal, candy corn, M&M’s, and nuts. Stir these dry ingredients with a large spoon, until all ingredients are blended well; set aside.

Melt butter in large sauce pan over low heat. Add marshmallows, stirring constantly until completely melted and well-blended with the butter, about 3 to 3 1/2 minutes. Pour melted marshmallow mixture over the cereal/candy/nut mixture in the large bowl. Immediately stir mixture until all the dry ingredients are coated with the marshmallow mixture.

Using a buttered spatula or waxed paper, press mixture evenly and firmly into  your greased or lined 9 x 13″ pan. Then top with chocolate/candy corn topping.

To make the topping, microwave chocolate chips for 30 seconds, stir, then microwave another 30 seconds and stir, continuing this until chocolate chips are completely melted and smooth–about 2 minutes (be careful not to overcook)! Stir in coconut oil while chocolate is still warm, blending well (the coconut oil helps make the chocolate more drizz-able). Drizzle melted chocolate diagonally over crispy mixture in the pan, and sprinkle the candy corn evenly on top. Then drizzle another layer of chocolate on top of that, going the other direction diagonally, for a cris-cross effect.

Let crispy mixture and topping cool and set, then cut into bars (you can refrigerate them to help them set more quickly, for about 30 minutes). These are best eaten the same day; you can store for up to 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

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Crispy bars are so quick and easy to make! Do you like your crispy bars plain or with add-ins?

Butterscotch Pecan Banana Bread with Butterscotch Drizzle

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I haven’t made banana bread for some time, so I decided to try making an autumny type of banana bread with butterscotch chips and pecans–for some reason, I tend to make more butterscotch-flavored things in the fall! I chopped up the butterscotch chips so they would be lighter and more evenly distributed in the batter, and I really liked the way this Butterscotch Pecan Banana Bread turned out! It’s dense and moist with a nice blend of banana-butterscotch flavor. I also made a butterscotch drizzle to go on top, because a little drizzle of extra sweetness never hurts, does it? It’s kind of like a “hard-shell” drizzle and will break off a little as you cut the loaf, but it gives the top of the loaf just the right amount of butterscotch sweetness!

BUTTERSCOTCH PECAN BANANA BREAD WITH BUTTERSCOTCH DRIZZLE by NancyCreative, adapted from Food.com

Makes one 9 x 5″ loaf

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup butterscotch chips, coarsely chopped–measure out the 3/4 cup before you chop them (Note: chill them in your fridge before you chop them; that makes them easier to chop!)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (measure them out after you’ve chopped the nuts)

Butterscotch Drizzle

  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
  • 3/4 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease or spray a 9 x 5″ loaf pan; set aside (if your pan is not non-stick, you may want to dust it with flour, too).

In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg. and salt; set aside.

In large bowl, combine mashed bananas, sugar, eggs, and melted butter, blending well. Add in the greek yogurt and blend everything well.

Add the flour mixture, half the amount at a time, to the banana mixture and mix just until everything is blended together. Fold in the coarsely chopped butterscotch chips and finely chopped pecans. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 350˚F for 50 to 53 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing, then cool completely on wire rack. When loaf has cooled, top with Butterscotch Drizzle.

To make the Butterscotch Drizzle, place butterscotch chips in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds. Stir, then heat for another 30 seconds and stir again, until melted chips are smooth and creamy. If the chips aren’t quite melted enough, heat another 15 to 30 seconds and stir. Add in the coconut oil and blend well. Immediately drizzle over cooled loaf, then sprinkle chopped pecans on top. Let glaze set about 15 to 20 minutes before cutting into slices and serving.

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I didn’t realize butterscotch and bananas made such a great combination! Have you made anything with these two ingredients before?

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

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We’ve had several weeks of chilly weather, and I’ve been making more soup! This time I decided to try Pumpkin Black Bean Soup. I adapted my recipe from one I found at Taste of Home. It’s a savory-flavored soup that tastes a little like chili. So if you like chili and black bean soup, I’m sure you’ll like this! In addition to the pumpkin puree, which gives the soup a nice creamy consistency even though you don’t really taste the pumpkin much, other healthy ingredients include diced tomatoes, onions, and garlic.

PUMPKIN BLACK BEAN SOUP  by NancyCreative, adapted from Taste of Home

Makes about 8 servings (2 quarts)

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups (24 ounces) vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I used Bragg’s)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Optional: dash of salt and pepper, to taste
  • For garnish: 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream) and 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

Place beans and tomatoes in a food processor; cover and process until blended. Set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, saute onions in oil until tender. Add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Stir in the broth, pumpkin, vinegar, and bean mixture, blending well. Add cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, and, if desired, salt and pepper to taste.

Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish each serving with plain Greek yogurt and sliced green onions. Each 1 cup serving is about 240 calories.

I never seem to get tired of making and eating soup, and it’s fun to try different recipes! Have you made any soups using pumpkin as an ingredient?

Autumn Lights

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As the autumn days get shorter, you may be looking for different ways to add warmth and light to your fall decor. These ideas would fit right in! Like this one from iVillage–tie fall leaves around the outside of glass jars with twine and–to be on the safe side–add a battery-powered imitation votive candle or tea light inside the jar–that way you have “candlelight” that is safe as well as pretty!

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Here’s a similar idea with a fall flower tucked into the twine wrapped around the glass jar. You could also use artificial autumn leaves and flowers–that way you could use your autumn votive holder from year to year.

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This is a fun candle centerpiece idea! Miniature Indian corn is arranged around a pillar candle and kept in place with twine. Make sure you keep your bow small and away from the area of the candle flame.

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Or, instead of Indian corn, surround your candles with cinnamon sticks!

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Turn pumpkins and apples into natural holders for your candles!

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Or use hanging lanterns for a warm, homey, rustic touch.

What favorite ways do you have of adding soft, restful lights to your fall decor?

Candy Corn-Peanut Popcorn Balls with Marshmallow Coating

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Did you know that October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month? I had no idea until I saw it mentioned somewhere on the net. That got me thinking about making some popcorn balls! I found this recipe at About.com that sounded good. I decided to try it with peanuts added in, since they had tasted so good in the Candy Corn “PayDay” Mix I had made a several weeks ago. Yum! These popcorn balls are very easy to make, so this is a great recipe to start out with if you’ve never made popcorn balls before. It’s a great treat for kids and adults–who wouldn’t like munching on a fun popcorn ball like this?

CANDY CORN-PEANUT POPCORN BALLS with MARSHMALLOW COATING by NancyCreative, adapted from About.com

Makes 12 to 14 popcorn balls

  • 12 cups plain or light butter popped popcorn
  • 1 1/2 cups candy corn
  • 2/3 cup dry roasted peanuts (or you can use salted cocktail peanuts)
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) butter
  • 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil or parchment paper and spraying the lining with nonstick cooking spray.

In a very large bowl, mix together the popped popcorn, candy corn, and peanuts; set aside.

In medium microwave-safe bowl, melt butter for 30 to 45 seconds. Add the marshmallows and microwave an additional 90 seconds to melt them and stir, blending them with the butter (the marshmallows may not look melted, but they will liquefy when you stir them). After blending butter and marshmallows well, then add vanilla and salt, and stir until everthing is well-mixed.

Pour the marshmallow mixture over the popcorn-candy corn-peanut mixture, and stir until everything is thoroughly combined. Allow mixture to sit for a minute so the hot marshmallow mixture can cool slightly. Note: if some of the candy corn and peanuts are collecting at the bottom of the bowl, you can work those in as you’re forming the popcorn balls.

Spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray and scoop up a handful of popcorn. Press it firmly between your hands, forming a ball shape. It’s kind of like making a firmly-packed snowball! Make sure your popcorn balls are all compact; loosely formed popcorn balls fall apart easily. If the balls aren’t sticking together, allow the mixture to cool for another minute; they should hold together better then.

Place popcorn balls on the prepared baking sheet and allow them to firm up at room temperature. Store popcorn balls in an airtight container in a cool, dry room.

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These popcorn balls would be great any time of year–just leave out the candy corn and add some extra peanuts to the mix! Have you ever made any popcorn balls?

Candy Corn Trail Mix

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If you’re looking for a fun, quick, easy snack to make, try this Candy Corn Trail Mix–it’s a colorful, yummy blend of sweetness and saltiness, and the perfect treat for fall! Just mix all the ingredients in a bowl and it’s ready. It’s great for packaging up in small bags, too, if you’re needing some special treats to give out!

CANDY CORN TRAIL MIX by NancyCreative

Makes 15 cups

  • 4 cups Golden Grahams OR Vanilla or Honey Nut Chex cereal
  • 2 1/2 cups bite-size pretzel twists (like Rold Gold Tiny Twists)
  • 2 cups lightly salted dry roasted peanuts or cocktail peanuts
  • 3/4 cup dark or golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup roasted sunflower kernels
  • 2 cups candy corn
  • 2 cups M&M’s plain chocolate candy (or substitute 2 cups chocolate chips–semi-sweet, white, dark, or milk chocolate)

In a large bowl, add all ingredients and mix together by tossing with a large spoon. Serve in the bowl or package into treat bags. If you want to make a healthier autumn trail mix, you can omit the candy corn and M&M’s and substitute 2 cups of dark chocolate chips.

Another easy snack mix to try is Candy Corn “PayDay” Mix. Have you made any fun treats with candy corn this season?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.