Thanksgiving Traditions

I’m big on traditions. That was something my mom did really well when I was growing up. I’m still trying to figure out what I want our traditions to be, lol. But one thing I’m sure about is reading Stories of the Pilgrims by Pumphries every year starting the first of November.

We have yet to actually finish the book after many years of trying and the kids have the first part of the book nearly memorized. Heidi groaned when I brought the book out this year (typical 12 year old) but after we started reading it, she didn’t want me to stop for the night.

There is another option too that we took advantage of two years ago–the book is now available on mp3 to listen to! And it’s on sale right now here:

It’s always good to read aloud to kids, but sometimes there is laundry to fold, dishes to wash, or Christmas gifts to crochet.  It can be nice to listen while we work or even in the car.

(I’m not affiliated with Jim Hodges and he didn’t ask me to write this post.  Just passing on one of our faves.)

This is my super busy day–working all day to finish up menus  for the mailing tomorrow.  But I am still photographing and keeping track of food.  Hope to get that up soon :).

Pumpkin Sugar Cookie Cutouts

We made these cookies yesterday because I was in a festive mood. We couldn’t find our pumkin cookie cutter so we used an apple and acorn one instead. I had a bite just to make sure the recipe was good. This is a Coffman original. Soft sugar cookies with a nice pumpkin spice flavor but not too cake like.

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cups pumpkin puree
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice mixture
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Beat in Pumpkin puree. Add spice, baking soda and salt, stir just until mixed. Then add flour 1/2 cup at a time until all is incorporated. Chill for at least one 1 hour.

Roll out in a mixture of flour and sugar (half and half.) Dough will still be very soft, even after chilling and you will need to make sure the rolling area is amply covered. Cut with cookie cutters into desired shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool on pans for 3 minutes then remove to wire racks. Cookies can be eaten plain or frosted after cooling. Makes about 5 dozen.

P.S. Heidi says, “Mom, you know those pumpkin cookies you made yesterday? Well, they were heaven!”

Cranberry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

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These delicious cookies are a great way to use fresh frozen cranberries.  These would be wondefully festive for your Thanksgiving or Christmas snack table.  When I buy fresh cranberries, I immediately put them in the freezer in their original bag.  They are easier to chop or grind this way for recipes and keep for over a year.

Cranberry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

In an electric mixer cream together: 1 cup softened butter 1/2 cup white sugar 1 cup packed dark brown sugar 2 tsp vanilla 1/4 cup milk Add slowly, mixing well after each addition: 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt 3 cups wheat flour 2 cups quick oats 2 cups chopped frozen fresh cranberries 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips Drop by teaspoonful onto greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden around the edges.  Cool on a wire rack.  Makes 4.5 dozen at 133 calories each.

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Thanksgiving Snack Mix

I’m so happy the holiday season is here!  This recipe came home from school on the kid’s school lunch menu and I modified it to be even more festive.  This recipe serves 30, but you can halve it if you want to.

2-4.1 oz packages of bugles (approximately 8 cups–$1.18 each at Dollar General)

1-8 oz can of party peanuts (approximately 2 cups–$1.88 at Dollar General)

2 cups of roasted pumpkin seeds (free if homemade)

1 pkg. 22 oz candy corn (approximately 4 cups–$.89 on clearance at Aldi)

4 cups (8 oz) of mini pretzels ($1.00 from Aldi)

1 cup Craisins ($3.89 for 11 cups from Costco–or $.35 for this recipe)

4 cups of Goldfish crackers ($8.15 for 24 cups from Costco or $1.36 for this recipe)

Mix all and pour 3/4 cup snack mix into individual baggies.  Seal.  Yield 25 cups or 32 servings.  Cost of total recipe:  $7.84  Cost per serving:  $.25

These would be nice to have in your to go bag (or diaper bag) to hand out to the kiddoes while running errends to stave off the chants of “McDonalds, McDonalds…”

The school paper gave this symbolism: 

Bugles represent cornucopias, the symbol of our nation’s blessings.

Pretzels represent hands and arms folded in prayer.

Candy Corn represents the corn t the early Pilgrims survived on during the harsh winter.

Seeds represent future harvest if we are diligent.

Cranberries represent the bountiful land in which we live.

Fish Crackers represent the blessing that the abundant sea life provided for early settlers.

Easy Pumpkin Cake

This cake can’t get any easier.  It’s super moist, low in fat, and has only 3 ingredients.  To save money, stock up on cake mixes when they are on sale.  I snagged mine at a 1 day sale when the store brand mixes were $.59 each.  Also, making your own pumpkin puree is really easy if you have a kitchen aid food mill attachment.

Speaking of pumpkin puree…Does anyone know where there are pumpkins on clearance cheap in Kansas City?

Easy Pumpkin Cake:

1 box spice cake mix (other flavors are nice too, such as white or yellow with 2 tsps of pumpkin spice added; or chococolate :).)

1 cup of water

2 cups (or 1 15 oz can) of pumpkin puree (not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling)

Mix all for 2 minutes in an electric mixer on medium speed.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13 dish (or muffin cups) Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes (30 minutes for cupcakes) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cake will be very soft.  Frost with whipped cream or cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Bagels

I’m having a blast trying all the pumpkin recipes I can think of. Saturday we made pumpkin bagels. They were delicious, healthy, fast and easy!

The original recipe came from Taste of Home.  Here’s my modified version:

  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground giner
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

Put all ingredients in the order listed in your bread machine.  Set for the dough cycle.  When the cycle is ended, divide the dough into 10 balls.  Poke your finger through the center and make a large hole.  Let the bagels rise for an hour or until doubled. Pour 8 cups of water into a stock pot, boil bagels for 1 1/2 minutes, turning once.  Remove to a dish towel to drain.  Place bagels on a greased baking sheet.  Brush with egg white and sprinkle with a little sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden on the top.  Cool on a wire rack.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Even though I had doubts at the beginning, these rolls are light, delicious and child approved.  Mildly sweet, these rolls are the perfect compliment to a Thanksgiving feast.

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup milk

1 stick butter

2 eggs

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

2 Tablespoons yeast

5 cups whole wheat flour (I used hard white wheat)

2 cups all purpose flour

In a microwave safe bowl combine pumpkin, milk and butter.  Cook on high for 2 minutes or until butter is melted.  Beat mixture with a whisk until smooth, then beat in eggs and brown sugar.  Set aside.

In your mixer bowl, combine both flours, spices, yeast and salt. With the dough hook running, slowly pour in pumpkin mixture, beating until a soft dough forms.  (Add additional flour or water if needed.)  Allow the machine to knead the dough for 6-8 minutes.  Lightly oil the dough and let rest for 1 hour or until doubled. 

Punch down dough and divide into 2 balls.  Roll each27 ball into a large circle about 1/4 inch thick.  Use a table knife to cut the circle into 16 wedges.  Starting at the fat end roll each wedge into a crescent.  Place on greased baking sheets about 1 inch apart.  Let rest uncovered until doubled, about an hour.  Bake rolls at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden on the top.  Serve with pumpkin butter if desired.

Each roll has 145 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, 27 grams of carbs and 2.6 grams of fiber.

Pumpkin Granola


There are some delightful recipes out there for pumpkin granola.  This one from Two Peas and Their Pod looks especially promising.  Unfortunately I didn’t follow their recipe.  I soaked mine overnight first.  Just the 5 cups of oats plus 1/2 cup wheat germ, 2 Tablespoons of ground flax with 5 cups of water and 1/3 cup of lemon juice.  I wanted to remove the phytic acid from the oats and thought I’d give it a whirl.  In the morning, I drained the oat mixture and let it sit out for most of the day to dry a little bit.

Then I added my ingredients (similar to the two peas and their pod recipe except that I left out the applesauce and substituted brown sugar for the liquid sweetener.)  I think it would have turned out really good except I added my homemade roasted pumpkin seeds.  On their own they are great, but in the granola it made the whole batch pretty tough to chew.  (My nut mixture was 1/2 cup of in the shell pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, and 1/2 cup chopped almonds.)  DH loved it, so maybe it was just me.

I also had to cook mine longer to get it to crisp up.  I lost track of time, but kept checking it every 20 minutes.  I also had to break up the pieces with my fingers to turn it and again when it was done.  It liked to clump up a lot more than unsoaked granola.  Overall it wasn’t a complete flop, but it might be awhile before I get up the nerve to try again.

Frugal Fall Napkins

Thanks Ladies for all your encouraging comments yesterday.  I got a lot done yeasterday and am working on the laundry and dishes again today while DH paints for me.  It’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one that can get sidetracked and snowed under.

I found these inexpensive wash cloths in fall colors at W*mart this week.  I normally would have passed them by, but I remembered seeing something similar at my Sister-in-Love’s house used as napkins!  They were so soft and absorbant and washed up well.  All the fall colors were beautiful on her table, so I snagged a set of 18 for just $5.

I love it when frugal, easy and lovely all align.

How to make pumpkin puree

I know I promised you more Thanksgiving ideas today and I have some.  But I just realized that this weekend is coming upon your last chance to buy pumpkins. It’s crazy to me because when stored properly pumpkins will keep all winter, yet the stores seem to think that Halloweeen is the only time people want them. 

The local pumpkin patch told me all the leftover pumpkins will be tilled under on Tuesday.  Hello!  Pumpkin pie, bread, doughnuts, pancakes, cookies, muffins…..These dot our winter menus especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas.  And then I thought, I wonder how many people know how easy it is to make homemade pumpkin puree to us in all these fantastic recipes.  It freezes really well too for year long stockpiling.

Any pumpkins will work, but the tiny ones have the sweetest most pumpkiny flavor. 

First, Cut the stem out just like you were going to carve it.  Then cut the whole thing in half.  It’s much less messy to get the seeds out this way.

Then use a medium sized spoon to clean out the seeds.  I take some time to separate the seeds from the pulp (as much as possible) with my fingers and put them in a colander to rinse.  Then I toss them with a little oil and salt and roast.  I use the instructions here.

If you are using the pumpkins to stuff with meat and veggies as a stew holder, leave them in half and just place in the crock pot with a little water in the bottom to help steam them. If your are going to puree them, cut them in fourths or eighths before cooking. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, check for donness by piercing with a fork.  It should be very tender.

For faster cooking, you can bake them in the oven in a covered roasting pan at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Or you can boil the pieces for 25 minutes.

Let the pumpkin cool just enough to be easy to handle.  If you have an electric  food mill (like with your kitchen aid mixer), you can put the pumkin through skin and all and beautiful puree will come out to use immediately or to bag in recipe size portions and freeze.

If you don’t have a food mill, remove the skin with a knife or spoon and put the pumpkin in your blender.  Process until a smooth puree forms (not more than 2 minutes at a time without letting your blender rest.) 

Homemade pumpkin puree is lighter in color than commercially produced puree, but it works just as well in recipes.  If you feel your puree is too thin, you can put it in a fine wire strainer over a bowl and let some of the moisture drain out.  If it is too thick for your taste, you can add small amounts of water until the consistency is right.