Wednesday, October 24, 2012


What, you may ask, is pumpquinoa? An excellent question, my friends! It's what you get when you stuff a pumpkin with a quinoa mixture. Pumpkin + quinoa = pumpquinoa. My friends Angie and Elizabeth deserve credit for coming up with the term. I'm still struggling with which syllable to stress (PUMP-keen-wah or pump-KEEN-wah). Neither one sounds exactly right rolling off the tongue, but this pumpquinoa tastes pretty good landing on the tongue.

At this year's pumpkin party, I got to make the big stuffed pumpkin dish that has become a staple at these annual pumpkin parties. For this distinct honor and distinguished occasion, I adapted a tasty-looking Quinoa-Stuffed Squash recipe from Cooking Light.

This is my favorite recipe I've made in a while, and I hope you like it as much as my fellow pumpkin party goers and I did!

Note, October 2016: I've been tinkering with this recipe every year and have decided it's time to incorporate those changes into this original recipe. Additions include celery, fresh sage, fresh rosemary, white wine, less quinoa, and a different kind of pumpkin.


Yield: 16 servings
Adapted from Cooking Light
Printer-friendly version

1-1/2 to 2 cups dry quinoa (yields ~4-1/2 to 6 cups cooked)
1 pumpkin (mine was 13 lbs.)
2 lbs. ground turkey sausage
2 cups finely chopped carrot
2 cups finely chopped onion (I used yellow)
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine (I used cheap chardonnay)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2-4 Tbsp. minced fresh sage
2-4 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
Generous 1/2 tsp. dried thyme (or 1/2 Tbsp. fresh)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pepper
Cayenne pepper, to taste
6 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (reduced fat, if available)
6 oz. pepper Jack cheese, shredded (reduced fat, if available)

Cook the quinoa according to package directions, but use a 1:1.5 (rather than 1:2) ratio of quinoa to water. This will result in less mushy quinoa. Also be sure to include a pinch of salt in the cooking water.

Cut the lid off the pumpkin, being sure to cut at an angle so that, when the pumpkin shrinks while it bakes, the lid will still stay on. Clean out the seeds and stringy parts and set the pumpkin aside.

Brown the turkey sausage; drain and remove sausage to another dish. Sauté carrot, onion, celery, and garlic in the skillet for a couple minutes over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/2 cup water and white wine; increase heat to high, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the veggies are tender but not mushy.

Preheat oven to 350 (and arrange racks to accommodate a tall pumpkin).

In a large bowl combine sausage, carrot mixture, cooked quinoa, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, cayenne, and all but 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cheese. Taste--savor the moment!--and add more salt, pepper, or cayenne if needed. Taste some more, just for kicks.

Pour the quinoa mixture into prepared pumpkin, top with reserved cheese, and place the lid on the pumpkin. Put the pumpkin in a roaster pan or on a cookie sheet with sides.

Bake for about 2 hours, checking every 15 minutes once you reach the 1-1/2-hour mark.* You want the pumpkin flesh to be soft enough that you can scrape it out with a spoon when you dish up the quinoa filling, but not so soft that the pumpkin collapses.

Carefully remove from the oven (this was a two-person job for me and my co-hostesses). Transfer to a serving platter and, if desired, dress up the platter with some fresh parsley sprigs. Serve straight from the pumpkin, scraping out some pumpkin meat to go with each serving.

*Note: I've made this with basic jack-o-lantern pumpkins, as pictured here, but I like it better with Cinderella pumpkins, which are more flavorful and prettier. My first Cinderella pumpkin was extremely tender after just 1 hour in the oven, and my second one was still a little al dente after about 1-1/2 hours. So I recommend that you plan for 1-1/2 hours but check it after 45-60 minutes. The good news is that, if it cooks quickly and is done earlier than you need it, it does hold really well. Just take it out of the oven and keep the lid on, and it'll stay nice and hot.

This was phenomenal! Savory with the sausage, with a bit of kick from the cayenne and pepper Jack cheese, and delightfully autumnal and festive. The carrots were still a bit crisp which complemented the soft quinoa and chewy sausage. I don't say this very often with it comes to recipes, but I don't think I'll change a single thing next time I make this for a big group. When I make it for just myself I'll obviously scale it down and cook in a little pie pumpkin or some other squash that strikes my fancy. But as far as flavors, ingredients, and ratios, I think this was just right! (2016 me here. Well, those comments about not changing a thing are ironic.)

A little peek inside before baking.
Sorry about the blurriness of the iPhone photo.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Blueberry-Peach Overnight French Toast

I made this overnight French toast months ago, drafted the blog post, and forgot all about it. Which is a shame, because it's a nice, tasty breakfast dish--and blueberries and peaches are so very photogenic. So without further ado, I bring you Blueberry-Peach Overnight French Toast!

While touching up this blog post for publishing, a random guy in Starbucks came up and asked me for my opinion on a really deep, emotionally-weighted ideas that "came to him intellectually." The conversation ranged from racism, theology, psycho-sexual development, abuse, politics, and murder. Interesting coffee shop conversation.

Back to lighter, tastier topics . . . I really enjoyed this breakfast--both straight out of the oven, and reheated the next few days. It needs a few tweaks for next time, but I've covered those in the comments below the recipe.

This dish is definitely wet and custardy, so if you have a strong aversion to soggy bread texture, this recipe may not be for you.

Blueberry Peach Overnight French Toast

Adapted from Prevention RD
Yield: 4 servings

~4 oz wheat bread, cut into 1/2-inch slices
3/4 cup skim milk
1/2 cup coconut milk, divided
2 Tbsp. white sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 15-oz. can peaches (in juice or light syrup), drained and chopped
1 cup blueberries
1 Tbsp. honey

The night before: Spray a 7 x 9 pan with cooking spray. Arrange bread in a single, flat layer on bottom of pan, packing it in as tightly as possible. Whisk together milk, 1/4 cup coconut milk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Pour over the bread. Top with chopped peaches and rinsed blueberries. Drizzle with honey. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or 8+ hours.

The morning of: Remove from fridge 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350. Pour reserved 1/4 cup coconut milk evenly over the top. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 30-45 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. After removing from oven, let the dish sit for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Nutritional Information per Serving (compliments of My Fitness Pal):
323 calories; 11.7 g. fat; 340.2 mg. sodium; 43.9 total carbs (2.9 g. dietary fiber; 26.6 g. sugars); 12.1 g. protein.
Note: It didn't give me an option to plug in (to My Fitness Pal) 1 can of peaches, drained. So I plugged in 3/4 of a full can, figuring that 3/4 can peaches plus juice would be close to the nutritional value of 1 can peaches minus juice.

Result and Comments:
This was very good, but I'll make some changes next time. I really wish I'd had a lemon or orange to zest, as that would have brightened the flavor. I'd recommend mixing the zest in with either the egg/milk mixture or the coconut milk that gets poured on the top right before baking.

It was ever-so-slightly under-sweetened, so I'll add a little extra sugar and/or honey next time.

I've made this once before with just peaches, and with cinnamon and brown sugar on top (closer to the original recipe from Prevention RD), and probably liked that version better than this trial run of the blueberry version. Perhaps I like cinnamon more than I like blueberries. Though with the addition of lemon/orange zest and a bit more sweetness, it might put them on an equal level for me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pumpkin Chai Latte

I have nothing profound to say about this chai latte. Just that it's good. If you make it, I hope you enjoy!

Pumpkin Chai Latte

Adapted slightly from
Yield: 1 large mug

1-1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
2 chai teabags
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 packets Truvia, or sweetener of choice
2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
Scant 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. maple syrup

Pour milk, teabags, vanilla, and Truvia into a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until milk is just about to boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and discard teabags.

Meanwhile, in a large mug, whisk together pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and maple syrup. Add milk mixture to mug and whisk to combine. Taste and adjust sweetness or spices if desired.


  • More often than not, one or both of my teabags manages to break. If this happens, just pour milk mixture over a fine mesh strainer when adding to your mug.
  • You could heat everything in the microwave rather than stovetop. I feel like the chai steeps better on the stove, and it feels a little more like a treat to warm the beverage on the stove rather than zap it in the microwave.

Nutritional Information (compliments of My Fitness Pal):
163 calories; 0.9 g. fat; 29.7 g. total carbs (1.4 g. dietary fiber, 5.5 g. sugars); 13.1 g. protein