a beertastic pumpkin dinner!

Happy Halloween, ya'll! We already went trick or treating with our firefighter, and had so much fun! We got loads of candy, saw lots of cute costumes and had a nice sugar rush for the night.


This pumpkin month has been so much fun to host throughout October! My love for pumpkin is severe, but it is well deserved. Pumpkin adds flavor, nutrients and should be used as often as possible, in my opinion! 

My last recipe for the month of October  (I am in no way saying this is my last pumpkin recipe for Fall) is Pumpkin Ale Chicken Chili. It is spicy and earthy, and the perfect addition to a cold Fall night! I know I am bias, but this dinner was pretty damn good. Make sure to read all the way to the bottom for my beer bread recipe!


Pumpkin Ale Chicken Chili 

Ingredients:

2 large chicken breasts cut up into bite size pieces (or hamburger meat)
2 T of coconut oil  
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of chili powder (or ¼ teaspoon, if you want spicy)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup pumpkin ale (I used Shipyard Pumpkin Ale)
1 15 oz can of pure pumpkin puree
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can of black beans, drained 
1 15 oz can of cannellini beans, drained
½ cup chicken broth 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Combine beans, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, and spices into a crockpot. 

In a medium saucepan, melt the coconut oil and brown and cook the chicken. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup of pumpkin ale, let simmer for 5 minutes. Dump into the slow cooker. 


In the same saucepan, cook the chopped vegetables (onion, carrots, and bell pepper). Once they are cooked through, add in the chopped garlic, cook until you smell the fragrance. Deglaze pan with remaining beer, let simmer for 5 minutes. Dump into slow cooker.


Mix everything in the crockpot and let cook on low for 2 hours. 

Served warm, topped with cheese and add pepper and salt to taste!

Enjoy!  


I served this chili with Beer Bread, as I am sure you have noticed in the pictures! I had made some in the past, but had neglected to sift the flour. Let me tell you, IT MATTERS! The original recipe is from, food.com, I changed mine slightly after a few trial runs. This bread is moist and SO easy to make. I used the same beer as the chili, Shipyard Pumpkin Ale, and thought it turned out perfectly. It was not pumpkiny, at all.


Beer Bread

Ingredients:
 
3 cups of whole wheat flour, sifted (trust me, do this step!)
½ cup of sugar
3 t baking powder (do not use if using self rising flour)  
1 t salt (do not use if using self rising flour)  
1 12 oz bottle of beer (I used Shipyard Pumpkin Ale)
½ cup melted butter
¼ t of cinnamon 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°

Grease a bread pan, I use coconut oil, making sure to completely cover. 

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, mix well. Pour into well greased pan and sprinkle with the cinnamon. 

Cook for 45 min, and let sit for 15 min, before removing from pan.

Enjoy!

Happy cooking,







hemp hearts love

I am always on the lookout for ways to add more protein into my diet. I am not a huge fan of lunch meat, and I don't always have shredded chicken on hand, so any type of "non-meat" protein is a win win in my book. Recently, FitApproach, launched a campaign with Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts. This is my first campaign as a SweatPink ambassador and am so excited to be teamed up with them!



Make sure to check the bottom of the post for a chance to win a bag of Hemp Hearts!


According to ManitobaHarvest.com, hemp hearts are the raw shelled hemp seed and have a slightly nutty taste. They are incredibly nutritious averaging 10 grams of plant-based protein and 10 grams of Omegas, per 30 gram serving. I had to give these a try, since I have heard so many great things about this super food. They are an amazing source of protein and super easy to add to all sorts of foods. 





I love having oatmeal in the morning, it is an easy breakfast and bonus points for being able to serve it to Luke, as well! So, I thought I would go ahead and add in the hemp hearts to my morning oatmeal, for some added protein and nutrition. I added 2 tbsp, and could not taste them in the meal, which is not a horrible thing!




Everyday around 3PM I have my healthy shake. I find it fills me up and helps me to eat a more balanced and portion appropriate dinner.
 So, I thought why not add some #hemplove ?

Below is my typical shake; 
1 scoop of chocolate shakeology
 1 tbsp dry peanut butter
1 frozen banana
 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
water to tast (I like mine pretty thin, where some people prefer thicker)

I added 2 tbsp Hemp Hearts, as well. I could definitely taste the difference in consistency, but was pleased with the taste, and the outcome! Yet, another win for Hemp Hearts!

All in all, I definitely think I will be adding Hemp Hearts into my daily diet. I loved how easy they were to add and the taste is natural and light.
Look below for you chance to win a bag of Hemp Hearts, completely free!!!


Happy hemping, 






Giveaway restrictions:
One prize per person. If you win this giveaway, and have already won another prize from Manitoba Harvest through another blog, please disclose that you have already won so we can choose another winner.

every pumpkin needs a stuffing

We have grown up in a house that completely embraces pumpkins. My love for pumpkins and Fall, comes from my mother, who is always so creative in the kitchen. A few years back she made stuffed pumpkins. Initially I was hesitant, stuffed pumpkin does not sound super enticing, but when I took my first bite I knew I was hooked. These are so fun to make, and you can even eat the rind of the pumpkin! 



We recently made these for a family party. We have a few vegetarians in our extended family, so we opted to do one sausage stuffed pumpkin and one tofu pumpkin. They both turned out so good and were a huge hit at the party! This recipe is for 1 stuffed pumpkin, so if you are wanting to make two, make sure you double the recipe. 

Stuffed Pumpkins

Ingredients:

1 3-4 lb pie pumpkin (they are the short, squat pumpkins)
1 onion, chopped
1 lb sausage, ground beef or tofu
3 eggs
1 cup cooked multi grain rice or quinoa
¾ t pepper 
½ dry mustard
1 ½ t pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ cinnamon 

Directions:

Cut off the top of the pumpkin, clean out the inside and save the top. 


Prepare rice/quinoa according to box and set aside

Brown the meat (or tofu) in a saucepan. Add in onions and cook until clear. Drain liquid and combine the meat with the rice.

Combine eggs, pepper and dry mustard.

Mix remaining spices in a bowl, divide in half. Stir half of the spices into the egg mixture, and set the remaining in half. 

Using a knife, poke holes throughout the inside of the pumpkin, make sure not to go through the pumpkin, just to the outside. 

Rub the remaining spices onto the inside of the pumpkin. 



Combine the rice, meat, and egg mixture. Pour into the pumpkin, filling to the top. 

Place the pumpkin into an oven safe pan, with tall sides. Add in ½ cup of water and place the pumpkin top back on. 

Bake at 350° for 2 hours, pumpkin should be soft to the touch, similar to a cooked pepper. Make sure there is at least ½ cup of water in the pan at all times. 

Lift pumpkin out of oven, and serve on a platter. Cut the pumpkin into halves or wedges and add butter/salt to taste. 

Remember you can eat the pumpkin, as well!

Enjoy!!



Happy cooking, 








starting a new decade..

I am officially a 30 year old! How is this possible? I was feeling great about the new decade, until my older sister reminded me that I can no longer tell people I am in my 20's, I now have to answer with "30 something". Honestly, I had never thought about that until I received her text, thanks Erin! 

 I am mentally, physically and emotionally, the best I have ever been. I have worked so hard in the past few years to become a better, more grateful person. Of course, I have more work to do, but I am happy with the progress I have made. My twenties were fun; I graduated college, I traveled, I married my husband, I moved three times,  I said goodbye to my husband for 4 different deployments, I got a dog and I had our son. It was a whirlwind, but a good one. 

 From 21

to 29 ....


I thought it would be fun to compile a list of 
30 things I learned in my 20's

Here is what I came up with;



1. Be positive. Life is too short to be worried about the negative, try your hardest to embrace the positive in life.

2. Surround yourself with the "good ones". Throughout my twenties, I learned that friendship is not in numbers, it is in quality. You don't have to be friends with everyone that you meet, and you don't have to stress about the reasons why someone chose not to be your friend. Move on and be thankful for the friends that are meant to be in your life. 

3. Marry the guy who loves you. Marriage is hard enough, loving your partner should not be hard. There are plenty of men to choose from, don't settle and most importantly don't let someone settle on you.

4. Go to bed early and sleep in. Trust me you will miss the sleep and you will miss the option of sleeping in. Saturday errands can wait, snuggle up! 

5. Wear sunscreen and stay away from tanning beds. If you choose to still use those god forsaken things, please don't post about it on social media. You will be moved to the stupid column, very quickly. No, we don't care that you are tanning AND doing your laundry at the same time. You can't reverse sun damage, so be good to the largest organ in your body! 

6. Exercise. If I would have been more passionate about exercising in my 20's, I would have set myself up for a healthier pregnancy and an easier transition into the balanced life. Finding time to exercise will only get harder as you get older, set the expectation of yourself early on! 

7. Call your mom (and dad, and sisters, and brothers and friends). 

8. Love your body. If you aren't happy with something, work to change it. 26 is that magic age where you can no longer eat three late night tacos and still have abs. Love your new body and make it work. Confidence is hot people!

9. Travel, travel and travel. It only gets more expensive as you add to your family. Traveling is where you should be spending your money, not on late night bar trips or fast food. Save and take trips, experience the world and experience the cultures!

10. Move away from home. Even if it is for a short time, move. You will meet new people, have new experiences and learn so much. Who knows, maybe you will find a new place to call home!

11. Write letters. There is nothing better than receiving snail mail. 

12. Write thank you cards. They are not a thing of the past, don't listen to anyone who says that. They mean something and they make the person know that you truly appreciated what they did for you!

13. Don't wear Old Navy flip flops. Just don't, your feet will thank you in a few years. 

14. Use your crockpot! It's an amazing invention. There is nothing better than coming home from work and having dinner done and hot!

15. Eat your veggies. There are so many different ways to get in your veggies, find one that works for you and do it.

16. Get your annual checkups. Who likes to go to the lady doctor? No one, it doesn't matter, GO! Speaking from experience, early detection of anything is vital. Schedule the appointment, put it in your calendar and go. 

17. Be thankful! Write down three things you are thankful for at the end of each day. On your worst days, go back and read through what you have written down. There are always things to be thankful for, embrace them!

18. Drink water. Put a lemon in it, put a cucumber in it, it doesn't matter just drink it. And while you are at it, make sure it's from a reusable bottle, plastic bottles are so last year!

19. Read for fun! Your early twenties were spent reading because you had to. So get yourself some dirty novels and read up, or embrace the amazing YA novels that are constantly coming out. Mindless reading = amazing! 

20. Pray. God is there, when we need Him, when we think we don't need Him and most importantly when we are happy. 

21. Take care of your skin. Find a product you love and use it. Be gentle (I'm working on it, Mom), and find what works for your skin. 

22. Listen instead of talking. This is something I am constantly working on. I so admire people who can sit and listen. Not every conversation has to be about you, or include you even. Be the person that people want to talk to. 

23. Be with a guy that will be a good father. Having a husband that is a stellar dad is such a turn on. Honestly. If you don't want kids, be with the guy that will be a stellar uncle. This is not something that you can teach or change about someone, either they are or they aren't.

24. Host parties! There is nothing more satisfying than planning an amazing party, where everyone has fun. Pinterest is there people, use it! 

25. Spend money on your home. You worked hard for that space, be proud of it and show it off. Buy that throw pillow and get those curtains, you will thank me for it later. 

26. Drink wine. Not much explanation for this one. Have a glass or a bottle, just remember the recovery takes an extra day as you breeze through your twenties. 

27. Eat the donut. Life is about balance. Don't deprive yourself of things that make you happy. Go for the one with bacon on it! 

28. Tell the people you love that you love them, daily. Raise kids who are comfortable loving, and let your husband or boyfriend know that you love them. Love really is all around! 

29. Watch the news and read the newspaper. Know what is going on and don't be the fool who thinks it is not important to stay current on current events. 

30. Love yourself! Life is hard enough, love the person you are and love the decisions you have made. We all make mistakes, we all have regrets, but the person who can own them and continue to work on becoming a better person, is the person that I want to be! 



Here's to my next decade, may it be as exciting and informative as my twenties! 


october crafts

Going into Michael's is always a bit of a strain on the old credit card, but going into that store during the months of September - December, is pretty much a free for all! Luke and I recently braved the aisles, and came away with some really fun crafts and good deals. 

First up is this super cute mask (similar on Amazon, since Michael's is sold out online). Luke actually found these while he was running around, and at a price of $1, I knew this was a must have. We opted for Frankenstein, and with some guidance, I think he did pretty wonderfully! 



I don't typically have a fire place to decorate, but since I was with my parents at the time, I had so much fun adding in some Fall decor to theirs. This garland is super easy and was very affordable. I used twine, a hole punch and these leaves. 


I don't usually measure out the distance between the items on a garland, but I did this time and I loved how symmetrical it looked. I ended up doing 8 inches between, knotting the twine on both sides of the leaves. 


Lastly, we made this banner for some Halloween fun in the family room. It was really easy to make and was a great price, too! I think it fits perfectly for a goofy Halloween theme, and Luke had fun gluing together the eyes! Michael's may be sold out online, but here is a similar banner


Don't forget to check out the post we did on our our spidey pumpkins! Ours have held up very nice and will be a good addition to Trick Or Treat decor! 

Happy decorating, 




pumpkin pasta

Are we sick of pumpkin yet? Over here we are definitely still going pumpkin strong. I am averaging about two pumpkin recipes a week, which I think is the perfect amount! Talk to me after Thanksgiving and see how I am feeling, but for now we are pumpkin strong! 


This next recipe is one of Mix and Match Mama's, you all know the love affair I have with her blog! This year was the first time I have tried it, and I was so happy with how it turned out. My recipe is slightly different, with a few veggies and spices mixed in, but the main ingredient is still the magnificent pumpkin! 


Pumpkin Pasta 

Ingredients:

1 box whole wheat penne 
1 turkey kielbasa (or ground sausage)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
2 cup chicken broth
2 cup of pure pumpkin 
½ t cinnamon
1 t salt (add more or less depending on taste)
Pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Cook your pasta per the box directions to al dente. Drain and set aside once finished. 

In a saucepan add EVOO and brown the turkey. Add in the cut onion, squash and garlic, cook through (about 4-5 minutes). 


Add the chicken broth into the pan, de-glaze for about 2 minutes. Add in the pumpkin and cook until smooth and creamy. 


Stir in the pasta until well incorporated and let simmer a few minutes. 

Serve topped with Parmesan Cheese. 

Enjoy! 


Luke and my parents were HUGE fans of this. It was just the right amount of pumpkin, and was so hearty and filling. You will love this edition of Pumpkin Pasta. 

Happy cooking, 



pumpkin zucchini bread

I love the smell of pumpkin bread cooking in the oven. A good Yankee candle is close, but there is nothing like the real smell, and the complete contentment of a good loaf.  

 I have had a go to pumpkin break recipe that I have used for a very long time, but I wanted to try a new recipe this season. No worries, I will be bringing you my infamous Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread, but until then, here is my new recipe, warm and delicious Pumpkin Zucchini Bread. 



Ingredients:
3 eggs 
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup coconut oil (or 1 cup butter)
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking soda 
1 tbsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
1 ½ cup of shredded zucchini

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°

Beat the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla extract until well incorporated. 



Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly add in the dry ingredients to the mixture in the beater. 

Meanwhile, shred the zucchini. And mix into the bread batter. 

I used a potato peeler and it worked out perfectly. It ended up being about 1 whole zucchini - here is a picture of my shredded zucchini. 



Pour into well greased bread pans. I like to use coconut oil or flour based Pam. 

Cook 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

Let cool for 5 minutes and flip over the pan onto a wire rack, to complete the cooling process. 

This recipe will fill two large bread pans, I ended up using one large and three small pans. I was really happy with how this recipe turned out. I didn't feel like you could taste the zucchini, and I felt the pumpkin was just perfect. We ate it with a nice white chili, making it the perfect dinner. 

Happy baking, 





no bake pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pies are so yummy and such an epic part of the Fall season. But, sometimes you just want to whip up something easy and quick. This pie is great to bring to a party or serve up for a weekend dessert. It took ten minutes, start to finish, and I was really happy with how it turned out. 

 I am not a huge fan of using pumpkin pie filling, it's loaded with sugar and takes away the earthy taste if pumpkin. So, I typically lean towards using Libby's pure pumpkin in a can and spicing it up with pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon.  



Fluffy No-Bake Pumpkin Pie 

Ingredients:

1 premade graham cracker crust
1 15 oz pure pumpkin can
1 8 oz. container of cool whip
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
8 oz package of cream cheese (room temperature) 

Directions:

In a small mixing bowl, mix the cream cheese until it is fluffy.


Slowly add in pumpkin and continue to mix well.

Add in the cinnamon and the pumpkin pie spice. 

Fold the cool whip into the mixture, it will be a bizarre color so don't worry!




Pour into the pie crust.

Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.

Top with dollop of whip cream and dash of cinnamon.



Enjoy!

Happy baking, 



very spidey pumpkins!

I love making Halloween decorations. Particularly ones that I can redecorate after October 31st, and make them more Fall looking to last through Thanksgiving. Usually, when I get the Michael's emails, I look for good coupons and keep scrolling, but recently this craft came along and I knew that Luke and I had to give it a try. 


What you will need:
Hot glue gun
Pumpkin (faux or real)
Little spiders, big spiders, any kind of crawly spiders you want!

Directions:
Hot glue the spiders on the pumpkin. You can do them crawling up the pumpkin or placed all around the pumpkin. We opted for a real pumpkin, the glue stuck, but it definitely was not permanent. This was OK for me, since I want to use the pumpkin after Halloween, but if you want a more durable pumpkin or if you want to place it outside for more than one night, use a faux pumpkin, they will stick better!

Remember, hot glue is very HOT. I had Luke hand me the spiders, I applied the glue and than placed on the pumpkin. This was perfect for him, since he wanted to play with the spiders anyway!



This is the perfect decoration for a front hall or to place on the porch. Super simple and super cute! 

Happy DIY'ing,




october=pumpkin

How in the world is it already October? I feel like my mom when I say, "time moves so fast when you are grown up." But, wow it really does!

October is a HUGE month for me. It is the month of my wedding anniversary (7 years for those wondering), the month of my birthday and most importantly the month that I subject my loved ones to EVERYTHING pumpkin! So, I thought "hey why not subject my readers to the same?" This month I will highlight all of my favorite pumpkin recipes, pumpkin traditions and new pumpkin ideas. 


Some of you may love this and some of you may not be so keen on the whole pumpkin thing. Pumpkin can be an acquired taste, but I promise if you try just one recipe, you will be pleasantly surprised (and no a pumpkin spice latte does not count as trying a recipe). Pumpkin is loaded with vitamin C and potassium and is even said to help with fertility! Nope, there is not hint in that last sentence.



Let the pumpkin madness commence! 


Happily addicted,






easy pumpkin risotto

It's pumpkin month over here on semibalancedmama and I thought a good hearty risotto would be the perfect start! Risotto is not something that I grew up eating, but I had it a few years ago at a restaurant and fell in love. It is by no means healthy, but hey I live by the 80/20 rule. Mix and Match Mama inspired me to try risotto for the first time, her mushroom risotto is amazing! My first try turned out wonderfully, and I have been hooked ever since. 

I was inspired by a few recipes to try a pumpkin version, I changed a few things and added my own spin, here is what I came up with!




Pumpkin Risotto

Ingredients:

1 cup of arborio rice (this will be in the rice aisle)
4 cups of vegetable stock
1 medium onion 
5-6 garlic cloves, diced
½ cup of pumpkin puree
½ t cinnamon
½ t pumpkin pie spice
4 TBS of butter
dash of salt

Directions:

Over medium heat in a saucepan, melt the butter and add in the onions and the garlic. Cook until translucent.

Add rice into the saucepan, let brown for 1-2 minutes. 

Keep your stock close by, measured out. 1 cup at a time add in the stock and mix. Continue to do this until there is no stock and the rice is fluffy and cooked. You do not need to continuously stir, but you should stir every few moments to make sure it does not burn. This process will take 10-15 minutes to complete.

Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt. 

Enjoy!



Luke loves risotto, and so far this season he has been loving all of my pumpkin recipes! Such a trooper!

Happy stirring,