My First Recipe

After writing about the pumpkin bread I made in my last post, I started thinking about all of the ways I tweak the Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread recipe I use. The question that I came up with is, how many changes in a recipe constitute a new recipe?

I think I change enough when I make this bread that it is not the same recipe. Therefore, I have decided to post my first original recipe. We will name it Central PA Winter Squash Bread.

To start with, it is rarely “pumpkin” bread. I most often use Hubbard Squash instead of pumpkin, but have been known to use butternut or other winter garden squash.

Monster Squash

Next, I substitute unsweetened applesauce for half of the oil. We don’t typically eat applesauce on its own unless it’s homemade, by me or by our neighbor who makes amazing apple sauce, so I keep the lunch box containers around, which are about 1/2 c.


The original recipe calls for 3 cups of sugar. With the extra sweetness of the hubbard, or butternut, etc., and the applesauce (even the unsweetened is sweet), I can reduce the sugar to 2 cups. On top of that, I use one cup of white and one cup of brown sugar.

Next, I often substitute at least half white wheat flour for white flour. I like the softer consistency of Trader Joes flour.

tjs flour

It is rare that I put cloves in any recipe, and this one is no exception, I do not use cloves. But I do use semi sweet/dark chocolate chips or chocolate chunks! Dark chocolate is healthy, right? Once the batter is in the pan I sprinkle chips/chunks over the top. Instead of loaves, I use a 9 x 13 baking dish.

pupmkin bread

Here is the recipe (I have no idea how to make a printable version yet, sorry!):

15 oz hubbard squash, roasted and pureed

4 eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce mixed with oil to measure 1 cup

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 1/2 cups flour, combination of wheat, white wheat and/or white (I use 2 c white wheat, 1 1/2 cups white)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

chocolate chips/chunks

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray oil (coconut oil works well) a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together squash puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the squash mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pan.
  3. Cover the top with chocolate chips/chunks (I like to make sure there will be chocolate with every piece)
  4. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Bread is done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Catching Up

It’s been an interesting few weeks, and the longest number of days between posts since I started this blog about 9 months ago. We have said some temporary and more permanent good-byes, and saying good-bye is hard. There has been a lot going on with garden veggie processing, baking, Fargo-ing, kitchen updating and some running. There has not been enough going on with cleaning, organizing, weeding…but really, when is that list ever done?

Also, blogging is fun, but it’s hard work. I’m pretty sure I’ve had Blogger’s Block (is that a thing?). The process of coming up with ideas for posts, taking and editing pictures, and putting words together has seemed like too much time and energy…until today.

I have done a lot of baking, mostly to gift to others, but I’ve been baking the old favorites and not adventuring into new recipes. The most recent thing I baked was Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread, also an old favorite, but maybe new since the blog.

pupmkin bread

Though I generally follow the recipe, I have tweaked it quite a bit, using hubbard squash just for starters. I also cut the sugar down by one cup and use a cup of white sugar and a cup of brown. I use 1/2 cup applesauce in substitution for 1/2 of the oil. I use 1/2 white wheat flour instead of all white. I leave out the cloves, which I do for most recipes that call for cloves. I finish it off by adding semi sweet chocolate chips because everything is better with chocolate.

I spent a few hours over the weekend making fresh salsa, now that we finally have a few ripe tomatoes. I added onion, cucumber and peppers (green and Hungarian Hot Wax) from the garden, locally grown corn (more on that in a minute), a little vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. Hubby said it was the best ever.

fresh salsa

In the top left corner of the salsa, you can just see a plastic bag full of many ears of corn. That bag is actually the second bag of corn our neighbors gave us. Here is a picture of the first bag.

bag o corn

Although I didn’t actually count, I believe we husked, steamed, cooled and sliced (for freezing) around 6 dozen ears. Thank you wonderful neighbors!

And, to top off the weekend, for the first time in our homeowner lives, we have an over the stove microwave. Thanks to the hubby for his hours of work on this baby!


Although it made good sense on its own, especially given that the current unit is 20 years old, there was some ulterior motive. We are hoping that we can use the space our current microwave is sitting on for more baking room.

I will stop there for now. Happy Monday to all!

Pretty Pictures

I haven’t been doing much experimenting with new recipes, mostly baking the tried and true. Hoping that cooler weather will come through soon and usher in some inspiration to try Fall themed goodies.

Over the weekend I was sorting through pictures from the spring and summer and there are some that did not get posted, which should have. I think that the post-long weekend funk is a great reason to have some pretty pictures to look at.

It was a great year for larkspur, until the rain stayed away too long.


Larkspur II

The larkspur and lavender together were awesome!

lark and lav

Lack of rain impacted the white and pink echinacea as well, beautiful in the early part of the summer.

wh echinacea

pk echinacea

Beautiful choral bells this year.

choral bells

The former strawberry tower, which stunk as a strawberry tower, came into its own as a flower tower this year.

flower tower

Bergamot/bee balm brought in the hummingbirds.

bee balm

And the black eyed susans were the only color around during the worst of the summer drought.

bk eyed susan

I will leave it at that for now. There are more. I have really been enjoying taking pictures of food and flowers and goodies and veggies, etc. Thank you for letting me share them with you.




Rain Barrel

It was a pretty darn dry summer, and it was super stinky hot too. We have talked a few times about getting a rain barrel to help supplement the water we use for food crops, and this year we got one. In researching rain barrels, we saw images of some with beautiful paintings on them.

Given that we have amazing artists in the family, and the one who excels in painting was going to be home for a month, it seemed a shame to leave the rain barrel in its plain state.

Here are some images of the rain barrel project.

Base coat:


Fargo supervised:


Adding some background:


Looking amazing already:


Finished and we LOVE it!


Yard art at its FINEST!




Chocolate Peanut Butter Snack Bars

We love chocolate and we love peanuts/PB, so when Chocolate Peanut Butter Snack Bars came up on Sally’s Facebook page, it definitely went on the “recipes to try” list. I had bought almond meal for a previous recipe that I never actually made, and I had bought dates for another round of Date Cake, so we actually had all of the ingredients necessary (although regular sized chocolate chips vs minis).

I was tempted to just eat the honey/PB/almond meal/vanilla mixture with the mixing spoon.

honey pb

I refrained. (Note: we made these a second time yesterday and added a little bit of molasses, which is also yummy)

I did try to chop up the chocolate chips a little, but FYI, the food processor really just makes chocolate dust, not smaller chips. It takes some patience and a little muscle to mix this stuff up well and then press it into the pan. Pretty sure mine were way thicker than Sally’s.

choc pb bars in pan

I’ve made some different granola/energy type bars before, this is the first one that included baking time. And after the baking time is a lot of cooling time, both on the rack and in the fridge. I opted not to add the extra chocolate on top, even though it looks pretty in the pictures.

baked choc pb bars

choc pb bar

Do they look yummy or what?!? As a matter of fact, they are incredibly yummy. I am planning to try and use them instead of snickers for my upcoming long run. The biggest problem I foresee with this plan is that they might get too sticky, but I’m willing to risk it.


Best Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Cookies EVER!

I was in a chocolate mood. This is not unusual, but I was in a chocolate mood when the Sally’s Baking Addiction Facebook page posted a recipe for Salted Dark Chocolate Cookies and I noted that I had all of the necessary ingredients. I also have learned to actually read through recipes before beginning, which is how I saw that this recipe needs planning ahead. The batter needs to chill for at least 3 hours, then sit at room temp for 20-30 minutes.

FYI, these are very messy cookies to roll into balls.

messy cookie hands

I wasn’t sure about the “salted” part, but I did add a few flakes to each cookie.

salted cookie balls

They are so dark, it’s a little hard to tell if they look done. I’ve made them a few times now and they usually are, whether they look it or not.

choc cookies

They are SERIOUSLY the most amazing chocolate cookies we have ever had. And everyone we have shared them with has asked for the recipe. If they weren’t so dangerous, I would make them ALL OF THE TIME!

best choc cookies

I do like the salt, but only just a hint. Mixing chocolate chips and the chocolate chunks adds some different textures, which makes more of a difference than I had anticipated. These are at the top of the favorite cookie list!


Obedient Plant

Back when we first moved into this house, the landscaping was already beautiful. The people who lived here before us did a wonderful job getting it all started. In the front bed, there was a good sized patch of tall spikey light purple flowers. It was the perfect size for the first 3 years or so, and then I noticed that it was starting to take over the rest of the bed. Around year 5, I ripped much of it out. Each year it still came back, but not quite as thick.

Here is a picture from this year, it’s continues to hang around:

old obedient plant

The past few years, we’ve done a lot of reading and research on native plants and the benefits of converting from non-native ornamentals, to natives. Two years ago we even went to a local native plant sale and spoke to a Master Gardener, who recommended the Obedient Plant. Sounded like a good option, so we bought a small one, and planted it on the side of the house.

Imagine my surprise this spring, when I saw how big the plant had grown, and what it looked like…

new obedient plant

I’m not sure if you can tell, but there is a crap ton of Obedient Plant in there, and guess what, it’s the stuff I had ripped out of the front bed. I couldn’t believe it!!! The hubby and I ended up having a pretty good laugh over it, and I guess it’s a native, so that’s something. But who goes and plants the same thing she just ripped out? I guess I do.



Hey, Has Anyone Seen My Running Mojo?

Two weeks ago I ran a hilly 6 miler, and it felt pretty good. I even had some fun the last .5 after a neighbor offered me a cabbage which prompted some funny looks from passers by. It’s not every day you spot someone running with a water bottle in one hand and a cabbage in the other. I joked that some people get medals for running a 10k, but I got a cabbage.

run cabbage

I wore my new Hoka Clifton 3s and my new Sparkle Skirt, both of which felt good. Love the leg pockets on the skirt!

Two weeks ago was the last time I saw my mojo. I’ve gotten the majority of my miles in since then, not all, but I have had the internal battle each time. “I don’t want to run/don’t feel like running/feel old/feel creaky/have too much to do/it’s too hot/tired of the treadmill/etc/etc/etc vs I have to run/it’s good for me/I know I’ll be happy when I’m done/feel better when I’m done/be proud of myself/I signed up for this race so I have to train/I signed up for more than just a race WHAT WAS I THINKING/running is fun…

The constant internal battle is exhausting, so if you see my mojo, please tell it to come back because I miss it. Thanks!