Month: October 2013

Hanging baskets – Fall edition

Fall hanging basketsSo, it’s totally Fall now. While the trees in my neighbourhood are looking spectacular in their autumn glory, my little garden is pretty dismal. The hanging baskets that flowered all summer and well into September have called it quits. It’s sad and pathetic.
Before-fall basketsI was taking them down to retire them for the season but decided to try giving them some new life instead. I’ve mentioned before that these hangers give a bit of privacy between me and next door and also, I just like color. So when I saw these ‘Coral Bells’ (Heuchera is the botanical name) on sale at my grocery store, I had to bring them home. They’re not really a typical container plant, but at $4 each there’s no big risk!
Fall hanging basketsOut with the old shrivelled bits and in with the new bells. I managed to keep the white trailing plants and added a few sprigs of ivy – which may or may not have been pinched from next door. Hey, if it’s growing on my side of the fence, I consider it fair game.
After-fall basketsAbout 15 minutes and a good watering later, I’ve got pretty new hanging baskets. The mix of colors and textures is just the ticket. I’m not sure how well the plants will do in pots so I’m prepared to put them in the ground if needed. For now, they’re making me smile. It’s the little things, right?!

Overnight apple sauce

Overnight apple sauceDo you ever put off doing certain projects because of all the time and effort they’ll take? Making apple sauce was something I’ve wanted to do for awhile but procrastinated because I just didn’t feel like standing peeling and chopping apples for hours. My practical side took over and I plunged in this weekend. Guess what? It was embarrassingly easy and took 1/2 an hour!
Overnight apple sauceI opted for this slow cooker method:

  • Peel and chop 8-10 apples. I used a variety including Gala, Sparton and Ambrosia apples and my handy dandy corer/slicer to do most of the work. Put them all into a crock pot to pretty much fill it.
  • Add: 1/2 – 1 cup water. I went with a full cup but will cut this down next time.
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Overnight apple sauceStir just to combine then turn the crock pot to its low setting and leave for 8-10 hours, or overnight. Don’t be surprised when you see the apples have cooked down to half fill the crockpot! Stir and/or mash with a potato masher until you get a consistency you like. This took less than 2 minutes in the morning. I’m storing some in the fridge and transferred the rest to small containers for the freezer.
Overnight apple sauceI use apple sauce in place of oil in most muffin and loaf recipes and since they also call for sugar, I haven’t sweetened mine. You could add 1/2 cup or so of brown sugar for more of a sweet treat. Most of my batch will be served with yogurt or on my morning oatmeal. So worth the effort! Mmmmm!

Skinny pumpkin loaf

skinny pumpkin loafRemember when I made my own Pumpkin Spice coffee syrup? Well every time I open my freezer now I see the frozen pumpkin ice cubes. It just seems wrong. I associate pumpkin with warmth like pie, muffins or a spiced latte. Plus I’m not a girl that wastes food – it’s the Scottish in me. So obviously I had to make something yummy with it. I combined a few recipes and came up with this easy, low fat pumpkin loaf.
Skinny pumpkin loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée (approximately)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash salt
  • 2 tbsp applesauce (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds (optional for topping)

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Spray or line a loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, spices and salt. In a large bowl, mix applesauce, eggs, purée, sugar and vanilla and beat.
Add the dry flour mixture to the wet and blend just until combined.
Pour batter into pan, it’ll be about half full but rises when baking.
Top with seeds and bake in the centre rack for 50-55 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes then slice when loaf is at room temperature.
skinny pumpkin loafEnjoy this not-too-guilty pleasure with a great cup of coffee and reflect on what a beautiful time of year this is! Happy Friday!