Monday, September 30, 2013

Roasted Pumpkin For Your Fur and Feathered Babies

Hey, y'all punkin' heads! Autumn is here, FINALLY. Thank God fall is here at last. This is my favorite season and I know I am not alone. One of the many awesome things about fall is the availability of pumpkins. Now I don't mean just the cuttin' up kind of pumpkin for making Jack-O-Lanterns and the Headless Horseman's "head". The pumpkins I am talking about are sugar pumpkins, aka pie pumpkins.  

Let's talk about pumpkin for a sec. First, I am a rabbit parent. I have four rabbits that I adore and try to spoil rotten. Any rabbit person knows that pumpkin is the miracle food for bunnies. It is a great source of fiber, the seeds are rich in magnesium, and it just tastes great. Pumpkin is something even sick rabbits will eat willingly, and it also mixes well with Critical Care, which is a food supplement given to small animals when they cannot or will not eat. Rabbit tummies are prone to several kinds of ailments, including wool block, and pumpkin is another great source of fiber besides hay (which should be a rabbit's primary source of fiber). Urine sludge and kidney stones are also a common problem with rabbits, as they pass calcium in their urine and it can build up in their kidneys, just like in your water pipes. Magnesium is a good regulator of calcium, and raw or cooked, unsalted pumpkin seeds are a great way to get magnesium into rabbits. In fact, us humans can probably benefit from more magnesium in our diets, too.  

In case you are thinking that only bunnies  love pumpkin, let me inform you otherwise. Everytime I open a can of organic pumpkin puree' (NOT PUMPKIN PIE MIX, which has added crap that no pet should eat), our cat, Spider, aka Countertop Cat, will get in my way and harass me until he has a nice big spoonful of his own. Simon, our lab, and Bug, our chihuahua, will also beg for bowls of pumpkin. I have to open two cans of pumpkin at a time; Spider and the bunnies get one can, and Bug and Simon share one. Do you have a guinea pig or chinchilla? A pet rat or mouse? Exotic bird? Do you feed the wild birds in your yard? If you do, and are not giving pumpkin on a regular basis, you are doing a disservice to these creatures! Warmed pumpkin puree' in the morning or at night, especially for exotic pet birds, is the perfect cold weather treat. Also, if you make homemade pet treats (what a great idea for gift giving to your favorite babies), this seedy pulp is the perfect ingredient; there are no preservatives, no added salts, sugars, or chemicals.  From carnivores to herbivores, and all other 'vores in between, pumpkin is THE perfect food for us all!

Whole Roasted Sugar Pumpkin with Seeds:


One or more whole sugar/pie pumpkin(s), uncut


Shallow pan

Pumpkin carving knife
Butter knife
Toaster oven or regular oven. I used my toaster oven. Enjoy the aroma, it will make your whole house smell delicious and happy!


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash, dry, then place whole, uncut pumpkin in a shallow baking pan, stem up.

Bake for 1.5 to 2.0 hours.

Pumpkin is done when it turns from bright orange to a burnt umber/orange. See the difference?

Allow pumpkin to cool. The inside will be much hotter than outside. This baby has pretty much steamed inside the shell. CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO OPEN UNTIL COOL. Once the pumpkin has cooled, use your carving knife to pop the stem off, then carve into about four sections, similar to quartering an orange. The outside will be brittle and hardened. The inside will be a mushy pulp. 

Scrape the pulp, seeds and all, into a bowl. Use your butter knife to scrape any pulp still clinging to the inside of the shell. Don't waste any of it. 

You will not have to worry too much about storage. Just keep in a closed airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve a little bit to your pets daily. DO NOT ADD ANY SALT, SUGAR, or SPICES.  This is pretty bland stuff to our taste buds, but your pets will LOVE it. Do not project your desire for something pumpkin-pie-ish onto your pets.  They have a superior sense of smell and taste, and their digestive systems are not designed for the junk we add to food.  

I hope you bake up a few these orange darlings while the gettin' is good. Freeze what you can to keep a bit for the holiday season. Your babies deserve it!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Filtered Or Bottled Water - Chlorine Is NOT An Ingredient!

You will notice in current and future posts that I insist on using filtered or bottled water; I say that chlorine is not an ingredient. This may seem like a joke, but I am very serious. Just like you should cook only with wine you would drink, if you would not drink your water right from the tap, do not cook with it right from the tap. All water we consume should be filtered.
Water is recycled and put through a purification process by municipalities, so the toilet you flush today will be the water you drink tomorrow. The water treatment plants do a good and thorough job of making our water supply safe for drinking. Right out of the tap, most water is not harmful. Now this all depends on the source of your water. In Oklahoma, we get our water from reservoirs, and some people have well water.
But we also have a problem in smaller towns with heavy metals in the water supply, so much in fact that citizens are warned to not drink the tap water.  A lot of smaller man made lakes will post warnings  that consuming x-amount of fish can result in arsenic and mercury poisoning, especially if you are a pregnant woman. Like in the human body, heavy metals are not so easy to remove from water sources. Some local governments may even claim that these amounts are negligible. To me, that is like saying a small bullet in your body is negligible.  I just do not want it in me!
Bottled water is great if you can afford to buy it all the time.  I gave up bottled water in favor of a filter on my faucet. I use so much filtered water that I go through a new filter about once a month. Every cup of tea, every gallon of Crystal Light, every bowl of water for the animals, every cup of noodles uses filtered water.
Oklahoma City water is safe enough. But I can smell the chlorine and it gags me. Why? Because it is the same chlorine smell that wafts from toilet water. My mind simply connects the smell of chlorine to toilet water and that is not an appetizing pairing with food and drink.  Cooking does not remove the chlorine smell, it only makes my soup and pasta taste like chlorine.
There you have it, hungry readers. Chlorine is NEVER an ingredient when I am cooking or preparing beverages. It should not be in yours either.

Friday, September 27, 2013

One Pot Pasta With Beefy Ragu

Busy day? Are you scratching your watch and winding your head? I got the super easiest one pot pasta for you. The meat ragu is so yummy, the fam will think you spent all day cooking, but is so freakin' easy to whip up in a hurry.  Chop a quick salad while it cooks and slice up a fluffy loaf of Italian bread and dinner is done in no time.

One Pot Pasta With Beefy Ragu:

1 lb ground beef, no more than 20% fat. You can substitute ground turkey or pork. 
1 lb spiral pasta
40 ounces filtered or bottled water (chlorine is not an ingredient!)
2 - 15 oz cans tomato sauce or tomato puree' (not paste)
1 Tbs each garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes. You might want to add more or less of each. I usually do not measure these, just sprinkle a thin layer over the whole pot, but add whatever tastes good to you. 

In a large pan/pot, finely crumble ground meat. Add seasoning and 20 oz of FILTERED or BOTTLED water. Cover and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, making sure the meat chunks don't cook together into little patties. When meat is browned and there is a beefy broth going, add tomato product, pasta, remaining water. Stir, cover. Continue to cook on medium until pasta is tender, about twenty to thirty minutes (cooking time with tomato and fat content is longer than just bringing a pot of water to a boil then cooking pasta). This ragu will thicken as it sits and cools a bit due to the starch in the pasta. That's it! Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Banana Pear Crumble!!

Ready for a creamy, crumbly treat? Rachel, who is the mum of my fur-nephew Speedy over at Speedy The Cheeky House Bunny Blog, sent a crumble recipe and said I could share! Now, I will share the recipe, but when you get a taste of this crumble, you will not want to share a spoonful with anyone!

"Here is my crumble recipe for you Brandi,xx Rachel"


Oats or crumble topping.
2 or 3 Bananas ripe best.
6 pears ripe best.
3 cups of raisins or sultanas.
3 dessert spoons of Cuban rum (Club Havana), Captain Morgan's, or a brown Caribbean rum.
6 heaped dessert spoons of sugar.
3 teaspoons of allspice.
Pear Sauce or Apple sauce (for a quick cheat)

****For best flavour make pear sauce using canned Pears by draining off half the liquid then put the remainder in a blender or food processor.****


Chop up ripe pears and bananas and mix with your pear or apple sauce then add your sugar, allspice, and rum into the mixture. Pour the mixture into an oven dish. I then get my oats and mix a couple of dessert spoons of brown sugar and a teaspoon of allspice in with the oats and sprinkle a layer about a 1 cm thick on the top, then cook in a preheated oven at 350 F (180 C) for between 45 min to an hour.
Serve with vanilla custard, ice cream, or cream.

And don't forget to share a wee bit of the fresh banana and pear with your rabbitty-eared friends!

Thanks a million, Rachel! Kisses and Snorgles to my Speedy!

Arrrgh! I be likin' me 'nanners and snorgles!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Gag Me With Chocolate Covered Bacon...On A Stick

We went to the fair Friday afternoon. All we wanted to do was eat and check out the exhibits. There are some very talented textile artists out there, let me just tell you. Joshua was pushing me out the door because he wanted to get home, so I did not get any pictures. Oh well. He is still not 100% from his battle with The Eency Weency Brown Recluse Spider and subsequent hospital stay. His joints are achy and he is quickly fatigued. Two hours of walking around the fairgrounds did him in for the weekend.
Oh, but we did eat!  I had an obscenity of a corn dog and ribbon fries. Mr. Bubbles had fried ribs and chili-cheese ribbon fries. Joshua had fried ribs, too.
As we were leaving, we stopped and got a pecan roll for me, a cinnamon roll for each of the guys, and a Muddy Pig. A Muddy Pig is bacon on a stick which is covered with chocolate. Mr. Bubbles approves. To me it looked like something from a colon cleanse infomercial.

I even found some treats for Bug and Simon! Annie's Pooch Pops had a booth and I got a good sampling of several kinds of treats.

Bug's absolute favorite. Vanilla glazed chicken feet. She powered through one and just about ripped out Joshua's throat when he tried to take it from her. I am going to have to buy some chicken feet, slap some vanilla on them and bake until they are disgusting enough for Bug's yucky pallet. Food for dogs counts on this blog!

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks. We go to the movies not just for the entertainment, but for the delicious popcorn. Someday I will have my own professional popper (mini) at home. In the meantime, I can get my fix with a few simple steps, and using the microwave. While still popped in a paper bag, this homemade popcorn is nothing like the stinking kernels cemented in mystery shortening. My version is light and fluffy, buttery, and as salty as you desire.

Pair a batch or two with an assortment of candies, from Red Hots to Raisinets, and have yourself a movie marathon on Netflix!

Homemade Microwave Popcorn


1 cup of popping corn kernels
4 tablespoons cooking oil. I recommend melted coconut oil, but any light, high heat tolerant oil is fine.
Half of a stick of real sweet cream butter, melted
Popcorn salt
4 small lunch sized paper bags

In a bowl, mix cooking oil with popping corn kernels. Add a bit of your popcorn salt and mix everything together. Divide your mix into 1/4 cup portions and put them into your paper bags. Using smaller paper bags ensures that the smaller space heats up quicker and remains hotter longer. Roll or fold your bags tightly to keep the heat trapped in them. Put one bag in the microwave and set on POPCORN setting or 2.5 minutes if your microwave does not have a POPCORN setting. DO NOT WALK AWAY. You will need to experiment with your popping times. Most of the popping will happen at the end of cooking time. Listen for the popping to slow down, and be mindful of the smell of burned popcorn.
When you finally get your batch just right, add one tablespoon of melted butter to the bag, add a bit of salt, close bag and give it about five good shakes.
When all your bags are popped, buttered, and salted, empty them into a big bowl.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Great Northern Beans - WOW!

Being Hispanic, I grew up eating boiled and refried pinto beans as a staple. We are talking beans every day. However, Great Northern Beans, or white beans, have become my absolute favorite kind of bean. If you make them with just water, they still taste like you fussed over them in preparation. When I do make a (minimal, very minimal) fuss preparing them, the flavor is out of this world. They taste like they have been cooked in stock. Serve as a meal by themselves, or with greens. No one can pass up these healthful, hearty, flavorful legumes!

Great Northern Beans

3-ish cups of great northern white beans
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder, or two cloves (or more if you love garlic) garlic
1 tablespoon onion powder, or 1/2 of a medium onion, chopped
standard 5-6 quart crockpot/slow cooker

Sort and rinse your beans, removing any blemished or discolored beans and rocks.

Rinse them in cold water, using a colander and rubbing beans together to scrub off any dirt.

Put beans into crock pot and fill 2/3-ish with clean, cold, FILTERED or BOTTLED water. Chlorine is NOT part of this recipe...hehehe

  Add remaining ingredients. Cook for about six hours on high heat setting, until beans are VERY soft and there is a nice golden broth. Add more salt as desired. If you have too much broth, remove the lid and let some of it cook away. Keep an eye on your beans if you remove the lid, as liquid can evaporate faster than you realize. Also, be careful when you stir the beans toward the end of the cooking time. As they get softer, these delicate beans are easy to crush, releasing their starch into the broth. If you want a thicker soup, go right ahead and let some of the beans get mashed.  I do that to pintos when they are done cooking. But for Great Northerns, I love the soupy broth!
My mother gave me this Rival crockpot when I started my own home 21 years ago. Who knows how long she had it before that. I have had newer, fancy schmancy slow cookers, but this has always been my favorite. You can see the years on the ole gal!

Look at the broth on those beans. These are the only beans I love to eat like a soup, with lots of golden broth. The beans turn out super soft, and cook pretty fast.  All morning while they cooked, my son and husband kept asking when they would be done, as the whole house had a wonderful aroma!

Countertop Cat, Spider, taste testing the filtered water. As I was sorting through the dry beans, he kept trying to paw at them in the bowl, like they were the strangest cat litter he had ever seen. Tried to get a pic, but they did not come out well.  He is so dang silly.