Quinoa and Pumpkin Seed Stuffed Acorn Squash

Sometime last year, I discovered acorn squash. I don’t know how I went the last 30 years without ever trying this particular squash before. It has since become one of my favorite things to eat. My favorite fruit and vegetable market has an overabundance of various kinds of winter squashes now and I am beyond excited to try out different recipes! Who would have thought an acorn squash would become my definition of comfort food?!?

Quinoa and Pumpkin Seed Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients

  • 4 medium Acorn Squash, halved lengthwise with seeds removed
  • 3 cups Water
  • 2 cups Quinoa
  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup Carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup Celery, diced
  • 1 TBS minced Cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1/3 cup Apples, diced
  • 1/4 cup Dried Currants
  • 1/3 cup Pumpkin Seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Adjust rack to the middle shelf.
  2. Simmer the quinoa in 3 cups of water to make fluffy. This takes about 15-20 minutes.
  3. While the quinoa cooks, add the onions and 1/2 tsp of sea salt to a pan and cook until softened, stirring frequently. This takes about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the carrots, celery, cardamon and turmeric.
  4. Cover the pan and simmer the vegetables for about 5 minutes until they are tender.
  5. Using fresh apples, cut into small dices and soak with lemon juice.
  6. In a big bowl, toss together the quinoa and vegetables. Stir in the dried fruit, diced apples, pumpkin seeds, nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Brush the skin of the squash lightly with olive oil. Place the squash, cut side down, in a baking pan. Pour 1/2 inch of boiling water into the pan and bake for 20 minutes to soften the squash. Move the squash to a plate and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  8. Stuff the squash halves with the quinoa mix and return them, stuffing side up, to the pan. Bake until the flesh can be easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife. This should take about 30 minutes.

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Looks delicious, doesn’t it?!? I know what we are having for dinner! I love when I can find delicious, gluten free recipes to enjoy and share with my family!

*This recipe and image is courtesy of bistroMD

What’s your favorite way to cook acorn squash?

2015 Holiday Gift Guide – Logo Loops LLC

2015-Holiday-Gift-Guide

My daughter is my twin. Not only does she look like me, but her personality is so much like me that, at times, it’s kind of freaky! She loves wearing t-shirts with funny sayings on them, especially if those funny sayings are sarcastic! If she could, she would wear her hair pulled up in a ponytail, with a headband, ever single day. She calls this look her “Goalie” look.

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*I received the following headband for the purpose of this review. All opinions and stories are 100% my own*

Ever since she found this love for headbands, I have been on a mission to get her headbands she would wear. Anything to keep her hair out of her eyes! When I found out about Logo Loops Headbands, I couldn’t wait to try them out for Bella. Each headband is made of 90% cotton and 10% Lycra. This means they will hold their shape and fit snugly, keeping all of those little flyaway’s away from the eyes and face! If…no when…they get dirty, just toss them in the washing machine (cold water) and then toss them in the dryer!

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There are 100’s of Logo Loops headbands to choose from. Don’t see what you are looking for? That’s OK…customize your own!

About Logo Loops

Since 2010, Logo Loops has been producing custom embroidered cotton/lycra stretch headbands as well as ready-made styles. Each headband is a quality product that is manufactured and embroidered in their own workshop. Girls happily wear “loops” as a fashion statement, sports accessory or team/school camp spirit-building product. Whether she is wearing a customized loop or ready-made, she is telling the world that she’s proud of where she belongs, who she is and what she likes! Visit their website at www.logo-loops.com.

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When I saw the headband pictured above, I knew that my soccer goalie daughter had to have this one! The fact that it came in lime green (her favorite color) was a huge bonus! We’ve already picked out a few more that we like! I know what I will be picking up for Bella’s stocking this Christmas!

Each Logo Loops headband retails for $13.99. You can purchase them online or search for a store near you that sells them!!

Which Logo Loops do you want to order?

Adorable Turkey Cupcakes Recipe

My favorite holiday is quickly approaching…Thanksgiving! It’s the holiday where there are zero expectations! No need to get presents; no need to go door to door for candy; no stockings to stuff; no Easter baskets to fill. You are just expected to sit down, relax, eat too much food and enjoy the company of your friends and family. To me…that sounds like a pretty amazing holiday!

If your kids celebrate Thanksgiving in school, you can be the hit of the party with these super adorable turkey decorated cupcakes!!

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Turkey Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups Flour
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 1 cup Cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 Eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • 1/2 cup Canola Oil
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 cup Boiling Water
  • Package of Fudge Stripe Cookies
  • Package of Oreo Cookies
  • Bag of Candy Corn
  • Bag of Plain M&M’s

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 3/4 cups Heavy Cream

Royal Icing Ingredients

  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • Red and Orange Gel Food coloring

There are a lot of directions for these cupcakes. I have broken them up into groups to make them less overwhelming. I don’t know about you, but when I look at a recipe that doesn’t seem to end, I don’t want to make it. So with this, I broke it up into groups. Hope that helps!

Cupcake Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare your cupcake tins with paper liners.
  2. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, beat the eggs, whole milk, oil and vanilla. Then add this bowl to the bowl of dry ingredients.
  4. Beat together until fully mixed (about 3 minutes).
  5. Slowly add the boiling water, starting with a small amount and then pour the remaining boiling water in.
  6. Scoop the batter into cupcake lined cups about 3/4’s of the way full. The batter may be a little runny.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  8. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes before placing the cupcakes on a wire rack to completely cool.

Frosting Directions

  1. Beat the softened butter on its own until it is smooth.
  2. Add cocoa and powdered sugar, alternating with the heavy cream, into the creamed butter until it becomes a smooth and thick texture.
  3. If the frosting is too thick, add more heavy cream. If it is too thin, add more powder sugar.
  4. Scoop the frosting into a large pastry bag with a large frosting tip.
  5. Twist the open end of the pastry bag to push the frosting to the tip.
  6. Frost the cupcakes, starting from the outside edge of the cupcake working toward the center of the cupcake.

Royal Icing Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients (except food coloring) in a mixing bowl and mix on medium speed for 4 minutes.
  2. If icing is not stiff enough, add 1/4 cup powdered sugar.
  3. Divide the icing into three bowls.
  4. In the first bowl, add several drops of orange gel food coloring. Stir to blend.
  5. In the second bowl, add several drops of red gel food coloring. Stir to blend.
  6. Leave the third bowl of icing white.
  7. Pour each color of icing into individual frosting bags with #5 tips. Twist the open end of the bag to push the icing to the tip.

Tips for Assembling the Turkey Cupcakes

  1. Assemble the eyes first. Separate your 2 of your Oreo’s, trying to keep most of the white icing on one side of the cookie…go ahead and eat the other side. Using your white icing, glue an M&M in the center. Allow for the icing to fully dry.
  2. Next, take your Fudge Stripe Cookie and lay it with the stripe facing down. Take your candy corn and lay it out how you want it to look. Then “glue” each piece of candy corn down with the white icing. Allow to fully dry. Could take about 30 minutes for this part to dry.
  3. Once the eyes are dry, place a little bit of icing on the back of each Oreo and place them on the cupcake.
  4. Since your tail is probably still drying, take your orange icing and make the nose and take your red icing and make the waddle (or the gobble gobble, as my daughter calls it).
  5. Place the tail at the back of the cupcake, as indicated in the picture and allow the cupcake to dry some more before moving it.

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Aren’t they cute?!? I just love Thanksgiving!

What is your favorite part about Thanksgiving?


2015 Holiday Gift Guide – Operation ResCUTE

2015-Holiday-Gift-Guide

Shopping for the holiday season can be stressful. The one thing I try to do is make lists of all the people I want to shop for and put down an idea or two for that person. I also have a few birthday’s to shop for in December, as well, so I also make sure to make note of that on my lists. I’d love to say I have it all together, but more times than not, I forget to buy a gift (or two) and I am out on Christmas Eve trying to pick something up. Talk about stressful! One person I find very easy to shop for is my daughter. She loves anything and everything about animals. That’s why I know that this first item in the holiday gift guide, Operation ResCUTE would be perfect for her!

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Like I said, my daughter is the ultimate animal lover. If she could adopt every single animal, she would. When I heard about Operation ResCUTE, I knew this was something that she would absolutely love. The Story of Jingles is the first book in the Operation ResCUTE series. It’s about a little dog named Jingles and the journey that dog took before being adopted. Kids get invested in the story because it is written from the dog’s point of view. At the end of the story, you will find an Operation ResCUTE Membership Club sticker!

About Operation ResCUTE

Founded in 2014 by Laurie Brown-Nagin, 100% of Operation ResCUTE profits go directly toward helping shelter dogs get adopted. A life-long animal activist, Brown-Nagin has always been passionate about the protection and safety of animals. Inspired by the younger generations, Brown-Nagin set out to sift the conversation away from store-bought animals and empower young children to understand the benefits of adopting and how they, though young, can make a difference.

Personally, I think this is absolutely adorable! Also, if you have adopted a shelter pet, owners are encouraged to submit their shelter dogs picture, along with a detailed description of their own rescue story…your dog could become the next ResCUTE pet! How cool is that?!? The next Operation ResCUTE dog was picked in this way and The Story of Tanner is to launch during the holidays!

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Just look at that face! So what do you say…head on over to the Operation ResCUTE website and order one of these adorable gift sets today! Become a ResCUTER! Remember, 100% of the proceeds of every sale is donated directly to shelters to help the animals waiting to find their forever home! This would make a great holiday gift! Also, don’t forget to send in pictures and stories about the dogs you rescued! You never know when your puppy could become the next Operation ResCute!

Halloween Themed Cocktails Using 1800® Tequila

Halloween is not just about the kids. Sure we spend all that time getting them in their costumes, follow them around the neighborhood yelling at them to slow down and stop running all over everyone’s lawn, but it’s also a great time for adults too! Families get together, eat food, drink and have a genuinely good time with one another. This year, be the hit of your Halloween party with these Halloween inspired cocktails!

*I was provided with the bottle of tequila pictured below for the purpose of this post. All opinions and stories are my own*

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I am not always a huge coconut fan, but I am a big fan of tequila…this coconut flavored tequila is delicious. I am looking forward to making this first cocktail with it!

El Diablo Coco (The Crazy Devil)

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces 1800® Coconut
  • The Juice of 1 Whole Lime
  • 3/4 ounce Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice
  • 1/2 ounce Simple Syrup

Directions

Combine all ingredients, serve over ice and garnish with a lime wedge.

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El Deunde Verde (The Green Goblin)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces 1800® Silver Tequila
  • 1/2 ounce Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  • 1/2 ounce Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 ounce Lime Juice Cordial
  • 1/4 ounce Green Chartreuse

Directions

Combine all ingredients, serve over ice and garnish with a lime wedge.

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Blood Orange Margarita

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce 1800® Añejo Tequila
  • 2 ounces Blood Orange Juice
  • Splash of Agave

Directions

Combine all ingredients, serve over ice and garnish with a chili pepper.

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So…what do you think?!? Will you be adding these to your Halloween party this weekend? I’m a huge fan of tequila, like I mentioned above. When I was in Mexico last year, I tried Pomegranate Tequila and it was literally like sipping juice! So good! In fact, I liked it so much that when I got home I spent forever trying to find it. Driving from liquor store to liquor store only to find out that you could only get it in Mexico. My husband’s friend was going their for business and he brought me home a bottle!

What’s your favorite cocktail?