Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Best Pumpkin Bread. Ever.

I love, love, love pumpkin bread! Nothing says “fall” more than those warm, spicy flavors. Luckily, my husband and daughter share my love. In fact, after I make this bread for the first time each fall, Olivia asks for it at least once a week. The best part is, the recipe makes three full-sized loaves or, in my case, one full-sized loaf and 4 mini loaves. We usually eat one of the mini loaves right away and then tightly wrap the rest and freeze them. I take out a loaf the day before we plan to eat it and let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

This is the best pumpkin bread I’ve tried—moist, cakey, dense (but not too dense), with a nice crust. Simply put, it’s delicious!

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups white sugar
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour three 7×3-inch loaf pans or one 7×3-inch loaf pan and 4 mini loaf pans.

2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.

3. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Adapted slightly from allrecipes.com Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread


Cookbook Giveaway: Lighten Up, America!

Lighten Up, America!The folks at Cooking Light will release their latest cookbook, Lighten Up, America!, on October 22nd. But as a Cooking Light blogger, I got a sneak peak at some of the lighter versions of regional American favorites featured in the book. After spending an hour flipping through every page, I had bookmarked at least 50 recipes that I plan to make.

Having grown up in the south, some of my favorite dishes aren’t exactly known for their health and nutrition stats. A few recipes I have featured here—including collard greens, corn pudding, and key lime pie—get a healthy makeover in Lighten Up, America! I’m especially curious to try the corn pudding because my version is more sweet than savory, like the recipe featured in the book.

The best part about getting an advanced copy of the cookbook is that Cooking Light sent me two so that I could share one with one lucky reader!

Enter below for your chance to win your very own copy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 


Review: Belly Bandit’s Upsie Belly

There’s an old wives’ tale that says if you’re carrying your baby low and all out in front, you’re expecting a boy. Well either that’s completely opposite for me, or the doctors have been way off for the past 8 months. Let’s hope it’s not the latter because there’s a lot of pink going on in our house.

While carrying all out in front has its benefits, it also puts tremendous strain on your lower back. Every time I get up (or bend down, or roll over, or walk …) I get shooting pains through my sciatic nerve and have to hobble around like my 90-year-old grandmother. Still, I scoffed when my doctor suggested I start wearing a maternity support belt. She described it as “this harness that goes over your shoulders and under your belly,” and all I could picture was a Pepsi delivery guy. Ummm, no.

Photo via Bellybandit.com

But a couple of months ago, the pain got the better of me and I caved. I tried on several different versions at the maternity store and settled on the Belly Bandit® Upsie Belly. It was by far the most expensive one there ($70 as compared to $25-40 for the others), but I chose it for several reasons:

1. It was the most comfortable one I tried on- and when you’re hugely pregnant and uncomfortable enough as it is, this is incredibly important.

2. Of all the different types, this one was the least obvious under my clothes.

3. The design was simple- going around the back and securing under the belly- in a way that didn’t make me feel like I needed an engineering degree to put it on everyday.

The best compliment I can possibly give the Upsie Belly is that I wish I hadn’t waited so long to get it. It has been a lifesaver these past couple of months! As soon as I put it on, I feel instant relief in my back and support for my belly.

Is it invisible? No, of course not. I don’t usually wear it with dresses (it’s much easier to hide with pants and a top), and there are some shirts where it’s more obvious than others. But for the most part, it’s discreet enough that people don’t even realize I’m wearing it. It’s definitely more hidden than the stark white over- and under-the-belly contraption I tried on while shopping, that’s for sure.

I don’t normally wear the Upsie Belly to work because I sit at a computer all day. When sitting for long periods, the belt puts added pressure on my lower belly, which is both uncomfortable and makes me have to pee even more than I already do. But when I know I’m going to be on my feet, I never go without it. Not only does it help to alleviate my sciatic pain, but it lifts my belly up just enough to give me some relief from the pelvic pain and pressure that I’ve been experiencing.

If your doctor has recommended that you invest in a support belt, I would highly suggest at least trying on the Upsie Belly. Yes, it’s more expensive than most, but for me, it has been worth every penny. I think if I had opted to save the money and get one of the other ones (which were more uncomfortable and more obvious), I wouldn’t wear it as much as I do the Upsie Belly.


Monsters, Inc. Boo Halloween Costume

Last Halloween, I decided to get crafty and make Olivia’s costume—Boo from Monsters, Inc.

Monsters Inc Boo

Now, I am no seamstress. I worked in the costume shop in college as part of my theatre minor and somehow managed to sew my own sleeve to the dress I was making. So if I could pull this off, I’m pretty sure anyone can do it.

For the most part, I followed this excellent tutorial from Tiny Iron Fists with a few adjustments. In order to get the round bowl shape for the head piece, I actually covered a lightweight plastic bowl in the fabric. Instead of just using pipe cleaners to hold up the eyes, I wrapped a section of wire clothes hanger in pipe cleaners and glued them into holes that my husband drilled in the bowl.

As I don’t own a sewing machine, I ended up hand-sewing this entire thing. I do not recommend it. What could have taken me 30 minutes on a Singer wound up taking me somewhere in the neighborhood of a week, week in a half because there’s only so much sewing I could handle per day. If you have access to a sewing machine, for the love, USE IT!

Despite this costume taking forever to complete and being much more of an undertaking than I originally planned, it was all worth it on Halloween night to see the smile on this sweet face!