Pumpkin Bread and Plum Jam

I’ve been remaking several old favorite recipes lately. It’s such a pleasure to improve on what is already pleasing. This plum jam + pumpkin bread isn’t much out of the usual in my kitchen, but together it’s the new winning combination, hands down. I’ve been on a pumpkin kick since we harvested the garden patch and bought some on a hay ride nearby. Plus, you know how much I adore homemade spiced plum jam. I doctored this batch up a bit and made this tried and true pumpkin bread with coconut oil this time. Heaven help my sweet tooth. These are both considerably lower-sugar than their traditional counterparts, but tell that to my squats. I had to decrease the weight last week and huffed and puffed through all my strength routines. I have a feeling I have another sugar/grain free month coming up to clean the slate again. But wouldn’t this be the very best for Thanksgiving morning? Good thing I scaled up the recipe and canned 38 jelly jars and 12 pints to eat give away through the holidays. I think jam and bread make the best hostess gifts. I’m babbling. Try the bread. It’s divine, on its own or paired with the jam, which makes every single food better.

Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from Epicurious, October 2011

1/4 cup butter, softened, plus more for the pan
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup fresh pumpkin puree
2 eggs
2/3 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl. Beat the butter, sugar, and coconut oil on high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated. Mixing on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and 2/3 cup water and mix until just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55-65 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.

Spiced Plum Jam
Adapted from Food in Jars

4 cups plums, pitted and cut in 1/8ths  (keep the peels on!)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
scant 1/4 tsp cloves
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 packet pectin

Combine chopped plums, sugar, and cinnamon. Let sit for at least an hour until the fruit has gotten quite syrup-y. Put the fruit in a medium-sized pot and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the jam thickens and passes the plate test. Ladle into sterilized jars. Put on lids and rings. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Remove from the hot water and let sit on the counter with the rings on for a day before testing the tops of the lids to make sure they all sealed, then storing on a shelf in your pantry.

Best Gingerbread Ever

I think the title says it all. I could not get enough of these and ate far too many. (I doubled the recipe, hence the many.)

Best Gingerbread Ever
Adapted from Allrecipes

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup apricot jam (or any smooth jam of choice)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 inch square or springform pan or 18 muffin cups or use paper liners for the muffin tins. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg and mix in the jam and molasses. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Blend into the creamed mixture. Slowly stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan(s). Bake 45-60 hour for the 9 inch pan or 15-18 minutes for the muffins tins, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool a bit before serving. Will keep in an airtight container for 2 days at room temperature. Best warm and fresh!

Two Soups: Simple Vegan Pumpkin Soup and Holy Smokes Mulligatawny Soup

Everyone at our farm day festivities last weekend was well fed thanks to the lovely spread of food everyone contributed. I have awesome mama friends who know how to feed their families well. I noshed on hummus, plum muffins, granola bread with apple butter, veggies, and more. My plan ahead contribution was soup.

I often rely on a few trusted, tasty vegan and gluten free recipes when feeding a crowd because there are often so many food sensitivities. This pumpkin soup couldn’t be simpler (well, it could be if you used canned pumpkin, but that would be sad). The chicken veg soup on the other hand is anything but simple. I find a lot of chicken soups boring and set out to find one that would delight instead. I’ve been holding onto this recipe for a while and am so glad I found the right occasion to make a huge batch of it. I don’t even mind the leftovers for lunch.

First up…

Simple Vegan Pumpkin Soup
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Puree from 2 sugar pumpkins
8 cups (2 quarts) vegetable broth
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Salt to taste

Roast your pumpkins and prepare the puree. A great tutorial for this is at Oh She Glows. Into a large soup pot or dutch oven, add the pumpkin puree, vegetable broth, maple syrup, nutmeg, and salt. Stir well as you bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve right away or cover and keep at a low simmer until ready to eat.

Next… the not as simple but completely satisfying …

Mulligatawny Soup
Adapted from Allrecipes

1 onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrot, diced
1/2 cup butter
1 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs whole wheat flour
3 tsp curry powder
8 cups (2 quarts) chicken broth
1 apple, cored and chopped
1/2 cup quinoa
3 cups cooked chicken, cut into cubes
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp dried thyme

Heat butter and oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrot and saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and curry, and cook 5 more minutes. Add chicken stock, apple, rice, chicken, salt, pepper, and thyme. Mix well, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Keep over low heat until serving.

Aurelia and Friends Have a Farm Day

I was going to write a fun little wrap up of our farm day, but as I looked through the pictures, I just couldn’t get over how much Aurelia is growing up and how much my heart is tightly wound around her tall being. I would be completely lost without her and have no idea what I was doing with my life before she was in it. She is such a strong, sensitive, surprising, thoughtful, delightful, honest, funny, gentle soul. I am so incredibly blessed to know her and love her and be her mother.










Eggplant Lasagna

I ate this for dinner last night with Aurelia and a darling friend and had so much left over, I had it again tonight. Aurelia ate her serving up both nights and I couldn’t help but get seconds. It’s really wonderful, especially the second day. It’s somewhat like the Eggplant Towers, except with way more cheese and no goat heart. You can tell my diet has been falling below pretty and I’m doing my best to at least be posting as many savory recipes as sweet. It’s amazing how quickly I start slipping into my old sweet cravings and the effect it not only has on my waist, but my appetite the rest of the day.

I started a new running schedule and ran on Monday and Tuesday this week. I did weights on Wednesday and decided it had been far too long since I’d done heavy squats and lunges and proceeded to push myself down to the ground in double sets of 15 on both. Plus the rest of a full body strength day. It always feels great when you’re doing it and just done, right? It’s the last two mornings I haven’t been able to walk properly, let alone run again. Hmm. I feel like I have to drop the heavy weights if I’m going to run this often (and eat the carbs running for an hour+ affords), but I know that’s only the easy way out. I have to start lifting more and it will get easier as I get stronger. Meanwhile, I’ll wince on the stairs and wear slip on shoes I don’t have to pull or buckle.

This may seem like comfort food and feel downright indulgent, but it really is quite lean. I substituted eggplant for the lasagna noodles, cottage cheese for the ricotta, cut out the parmesean and used less mozzarella, and used turkey and tons of veg in the sauce for flavor, fiber, protein, and micronutrients. This is not your typical lasagna and I think you’ll love it more than any traditional version. Your body certainly will!

Eat your vegetables! Eat protein! Lift heavy things! Love the body you have and ask it to do more!

Eggplant Lasagna
Adapted from Allrecipes

2 eggplants, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
6 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1.25 pounds ground turkey
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs dried basil
2 tsp dried marjoram
1 (10 ounce) package fresh spinach leaves
2 cups cottage cheese (16 oz container)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 egg
2 cups tomato or marinara sauce (preferably seasoned or roasted)
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 cups tomatoes, chopped (or one 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes)
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the eggplant slices in a large bowl of heavily salted water. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once the eggplant is done soaking, rinse the slices under fresh water and dry. Brush the slices with olive oil on both sides, and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, flipping the slices over after 5 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the turkey and cook until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add some salt and pepper, the spices, onion and garlic. Cook another 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until it wilts. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and chopped tomatoes. Cook and stir for a few minutes until fragrant and perfectly saucy. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, half of the mozzarella cheese, the egg, and some salt and pepper. Set aside.

Ready to assemble. Place a spoonful of sauce on the bottom of an oiled 9×13 baking dish. Add half of the eggplant slices. Spoon half of the cheese mixture over the eggplant and spread into a thin layer. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the cheese layer. Do it all again with the last of the eggplant, cheese, and sauce. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven.

Take the pan out, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over the top, and bake for another 15 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let cool for at least 15 minutes or so before slicing and serving.

Zucchini Brownies with Semi-Sweet Chocolate Frosting

This is such an odd recipe. If you give it a shot, you’ll be cursing my name as you put it in the oven, certain that it won’t turn out. But it does, I promise! I ate a piece warm and plain out of the oven and it was, eh, fine. I wasn’t going to give any away or post it here. But the chocolate was deep and I remembered that my very favorite chocolate cake (which I have yet to post here – how is that possible!?) really needs a night wrapped up in the refrigerator before it’s ready. It’s something about a dense, chocolate, butter based, rich, moist cake that really improves with some patience and a chilled night in plastic wrap. The super simple chocolate chip frosting was perfect because I still wanted to be able to wrap these up and give them away, so a sticky or fluffy frosting wouldn’t do. Chocolate chips, the darker the better, are easy to melt and smooth, and then will harden back when cooled. The combination of dense chocolatey brownie with the layer of serious chocolate makes these a real treat to eat and give to sweet people. And they are full of zucchini! Convinced yet?

Zucchini Brownies with Semi-Sweet Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from Allrecipes

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Into another bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the butter mixture. Fold in the zucchini. The batter will be very, very dry! Spread evenly into the prepared pan. This will not pour. You’ll have to press the batter into the pan evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched. To make the frosting, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for 60-90 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted and smooth. Spread over cooled brownies. Wait an hour for the frosting to cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a few hours, if not overnight, before cutting into squares.

Quinoa with Chard and Mushrooms

This is a lovely side dish, though I admit it served as dinner its first night. See? I’m not always so great with a pre-planned dinner menu.  It started with a gorgeous bunch of chard that I picked up while in Boise intended for a minestrone soup. But I’m sick of soup. I’ve been eating soup for lunch every day the last two weeks. I made a vegetable sausage white bean soup and then my glorious roasted tomato soup again. They were both made at different times when I had lot of produce that needed to be used. But it never really stops because people keep kindly giving it and I keep driving into the farm stand nearly daily to get more. These will be problems I miss in another month. Anyway, the chard and earthy umami mushrooms and nutty, light quinoa all came together perfectly. I especially loved this for breakfast with an over easy egg broken on top. Yuuuum.

Quinoa with Chard and Mushrooms
Adapted from Serious Eats

1 cup quinoa
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 big bunch chard, stems removed, leaves chopped
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Combine the quinoa is a saucepan with 2 cups water with a good pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 10-15 minutes until the quinoa is fluffy and tender.

In the meantime, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chard and red pepper flakes and cook until wilted and tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove to a plate.

Add the remaining tablespoon oil into the skillet and add the thyme, garlic and mushrooms over medium heat. When the mushrooms release their moisture after about 5 minutes, season with a pinch of salt and pepper. When they are tender, about another 5 minutes, stir in the vinegar, reserved chard and parmesean and stir well.

Spiced Fresh Sugar Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I played with this recipe, made it twice, and compared it with my mother’s wonderful pumpkin cake recipe. The final result is a total winner, with half the fat of my mom’s spectacular, richer version and half the sugar as Martha Stewart’s. I compensated by boosting the spice profile considerably and using fresh pumpkin from the garden.

Martha says not to use fresh pumpkin. Lies. Of course fresh is better. The flavor is so much more pronounced and the texture is a good thing. This is not a overly sweet pumpkinish cake. This is a Spiced Fresh Sugar Pumpkin Cake! It’s a rewarding difference. To make your own pumpkin puree, take a look at this super tutorial from Oh She Glows.

I like the cream cheese frosting and it makes this cake decidedly dessert, even though it’s not a particularly sweet frosting. My mom scraped off all her frosting, so I made another batch into cupcakes and they were a lot like muffins unfrosted. Either way, they were wonderful. Super moist, autumnal, and just complex enough to be satisfying in that especially satisfying way. Make! Eat! Celebrate something!

Spiced Fresh Sugar Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Everyday Food, November 2005

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
2 eggs
3/4 cups sugar
2 1/3 cups fresh sugar pumpkin puree

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 cup powdered (confectioners’) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch round springform baking pan or 6 large muffins cups or 12 regular muffin cups. Or line the muffin cups with papers. Really, just prep whatever pan you have that will fit.

In a the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar, beating on low and then medium high for at least 5 minutes. I don’t know why I think this is so crucial, but it worked, so don’t skip. Add the eggs one by one and mix well. Add the pumpkin puree, mix well, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and mix well again.

Into another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on low until smooth.

Turn batter into prepared pan, and smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 45 minutes (or 25-30 minutes for large cupcakes or 15-20 for regular cupcakes). Cool cake 10 minutes in pan, then turn out of pan, and cool completely, right side up, on a rack.

Make Cream Cheese Frosting: In a the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar until smooth.

Spread top of cooled cake with frosting. Cut cake into wedges and serve. Or if you skipped the frosting and made cupcakes, wrap them up and take them along with you for the perfect midday, post gym, early morning, bored at work snack.

Chicken Curry

This curry was a hit and so easy. I made a pot of brown rice along side and mixed it all up before serving. Hardly authentic, I know, but oh so tasty. I skipped the cashews because I forgot to get them ahead, but kept them in the recipe because I think they’d be wonderful. The yogurt is crucial to me to relax the heat a bit. This made a couple lunches too and it was better the next day. Aurelia loved eating the chicken by itself with some cheese. Who can blame her?

Chicken Curry
Adapted from Gourmet, January 2005

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tbs finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
3 Tbs curry powder
3 Tbs dried parsley
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
3/4 cup cashews, very finely chopped
3/4 cup plain yogurt

Plan ahead and marinate the chicken in a large ziplock bag with all the spices, salt, ginger, garlic, onion, and olive oil for 4 hours or overnight. Once it’s marinated, place the chicken, marinade, and tomatoes in a slow cooker and cook on low for about 4 hours until the chicken is cooked through. This will make your home smell so delicious. Top with yogurt, cashews and cilantro if you’d like to when serving.

Food Philosophy

The following is from a restaurant, Hu Kitchen, in New York. They distilled my food goals and healthy eating philosophy (though admittedly not always practice) in such an articulate way, I have to share. I hope it makes sense to you, too. Here’s to a cleaner, tastier future. I can’t wait to make it to New York again and when I do, I’ll visit Hu’s.

The food revolution is taking too long.

The jury is in on the shortcomings of the Western diet and the benefits of pre-industrial food; reams have been written about the pressing need to change the way we eat. The moment is ripe. People are hungry to get started, yet no one is doing much about it. The space is still dominated by the same two players. On one side, there are the cynical profiteers of the food industry who have hijacked words like “healthy” and “natural” so they can stick them on the labels of their latest lab creations. On the other side, there are the rigid, alienating food fascists who insist that everything we eat should taste as unpleasant as possible. That doesn’t work for us. We have a different idea – unequivocally delicious food that also happens to be unprocessed and good for you. Is that even possible?

You bet your ass it is. Hu Kitchen is the first ultra-high quality restaurant and market 100% committed to making this dream a reality. We’re a haven for all things human – not just a place to grab food but a destination, a trusted partner in the shared goal of reclaiming what it means to eat and live deliciously. At Hu, every mouthful has been vetted to meet the highest standards, crafted and honed from the synthesis of everything we’ve learned about the benefits of pre-industrial diets. But the results of our self-experimentation and research will be behind the scenes. We are going to give you something awesome to eat, and then we’re going to blow your mind when you look at the ingredients.

And that’s where we stand. No compromise. No sacrifice.

We make food for humans and, frankly, we think it’s about time someone did. It isn’t as glamorous as a pill or a fad diet. It probably won’t sell books. We’re OK with that. We’re not here to make a quick buck in the same tired food space. We’re not here to be just another shelf in the megastore of “healthy” food products. We’re here to start a revolution…

We started with the question, “how should humans eat?” The more we studied and experimented, the more we came to understand that we are primitive bodies living in modern times, that getting back to a pre-industrial way of eating was the best thing we could do for our health. But we knew we wouldn’t be satisfied until we figured out how to make our food not just nutritionally superior but also genuinely delicious.

We created this guide to distill what we learned and explain how we do things at Hu. We believe it is the simplest way to cut through the confusion and get back to a more human way of eating without sacrificing the sensual experience of eating delicious food.



Before industry, food was minimally processed and nourishing. Demand ingredients with that same pre-industrial standard. Humans evolved to eat whole foods that exist in nature, not ingredients made in labs. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, there’s a good chance your body won’t either.



The quality of your calories is far more important than the quantity. Don’t count calories; make ingredients count. Make the ingredients list the first thing you check out when you encounter a new food. If you commit to eating foods with minimal, wholesome ingredients, we will commit to making them delicious for you.



Flip the conventional wisdom. Pull vegetables and fruits to the center of the plate; push animal protein to the edges. We don’t want to push animal protein off the plate altogether, but we’re making plants the main event again.



Grains aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Vegetables are carbs too, and they are almost always a better choice. Look for grain-free alternatives whenever you can. When you do eat grains, ensure that they are whole. We also think humans should minimize gluten whenever possible. At Hu, we are gluten-free except for two of our sandwich breads.



It’s not fat that is making us sick – it’s the wrong fat. Revel in the good fats and keep out the bad. We embrace healthy olive and coconut oils, nuts, avocados, and animal fats from animals that ate their natural diets.



If you are going to eat animals, demand they ate what animals are meant to eat. Animals aren’t meant to eat industrial, GMO food pellets, hormones, and antibiotics. Cows and fish aren’t meant to eat grains. We source only grass-fed, pastured meats and dairy, organic poultry and eggs, and wild seafood.



We think sugar in any form isn’t great for you, but we also love sweets, so our approach is to be smart about how we use sweeteners at Hu. There are a thousand names for cane sugar, corn sugar, and artificial sweeteners. We think they’re all bad for you. Instead, we use organic coconut sugar, unfiltered honey, and maple syrup. You’ll never find any form of corn syrup, cane sugar, or artificial sweeteners within our walls.



Ensure that your food is as free as possible from foreign, toxic chemicals and genetically-modified ingredients. Be smart about what needs to be organic. Demand the organic seal or verification of organic practices on food items where you feel susceptible to ingesting an unhealthy amount of toxic chemicals. Our lettuces, thin-skinned fruits, coffee, nuts, seeds, wines, beers, poultry, and eggs are 100% organic and everything at Hu is non-GMO and always will be.