Recipe: REAL Pumpkin Pie

img_6241For me, pumpkin pie is comfort food to the max.  So many happy holiday memories, smells and flavors.  This year, I took the plunge and attempted a pumpkin pie made out of a real pumpkin.  Now, don’t get me wrong…. I love the canned pumpkin puree.  So handy & versatile!  But, I wanted to finally try a pumpkin pie from scratch.  (Disclaimer – I used a pre-made frozen crust from Trader Joe’s, so I guess ‘scratch’ is debatable).

I cooked two pie pumpkins in my crockpot.  I cut them in half, scooped out the seeds (which I promptly planted in all of my patio pots – that’s a lot of P’s!), and placed the pumpkin halves in the crockpot.  Cooked on low until the flesh was nice and soft, about 5-6 hours.


After the pumpkin was cooled enough to handle, I simply scooped the pumpkin into an airtight container and refrigerated for a couple of days.  I didn’t have time to make the pie for a few days, so it was nice to be able to just store it until I was ready to use it.

Then, I followed a traditional pumpkin pie recipe and made the pie.  Funny, but the color wasn’t as rich orange-brown as when using the canned pumpkin puree.  But, the texture was thicker with the fibrous pumpkin flesh.

Here is my final result.  Verdict:  Very Flavorful and Rich!  I didn’t find it much additional work, truthfully, and the taste was worth any additional minor effort.  I would definitely prepare with this method for future pies!


Recipe: Traditional Pumpkin Pie


  • 1 pie crust
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, spices and salt.  Pour into pie crust.  Sprinkle more cinnamon on top & swirl with a knife.
  3. Bake 15 minutes at 425 F.  Reduce heat to 350 F and continue baking 35-40 minutes, until knife inserted in center of pie comes out clean.
  4. Cool completely before cutting.





2 Dream Dinner Recipe Reviews

Be sure to read my review of the preparation experience HERE.

I’m a busy working mom who strives to provide healthy food for my family in the most organized and time efficient way possible….. To that end, I was gifted with 6 entrees for my family to try from Dream Dinners.

Chicken Paella

The first recipe we tried was a one-pot breeze!  Described as “Tender white chicken and smoked sausage with garlic rice, sweet red peppers, artichoke hearts and fire roasted tomatoes creates a traditional Spanish classic that presents beautifully on any dinner table.” the paella did not disappoint.  Company claims that time to table from fridge is 30-40 minutes, which is definitely accurate.  My family gobbled up the yummy mixture of rice, kielbasa, chicken and spices.  Since we like spicy, we added some tabasco and it added just what we were looking for.  Really delicious.  Generous portions, where we even had leftovers for my husband’s lunch the next day.  Compare the pictures of what it’s “supposed” to look like, and what mine looked like.  Ha ha!  Definitely a do-over!

  • Price per serving: $5.31
  • Nutrition Facts per serving: 540 calories, 22 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, 58 g carbohydrate, 25 g protein, 1390 mg sodium, 65 mg cholesterol, and 4 g fiber.

Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms

“Our all-natural, boneless chicken breasts are cooked with a savory, smooth mushroom and Marsala sauce.  Serve them over our classic mashed potatoes for a cozy evening dinner.”  Disclaimer – we had potatoes a couple of other meals that week, so we saved the already-to-go, just heat-and-serve mashed potatoes for another time.  Instead, I served the marsala with some roasted broccoli, also purchased from Dream Dinners as an optional side dish.  The chicken marsala had a generous amount of delicious sauce with mushrooms, wine, onions and cream.  Fridge to table was 20-25 minutes, as noted on the info sheets from Dream Dinners.  Pictures from the company and from our dinner are below.  Total do-over…. not a scrap of chicken left!

  • Price per serving: $5.88
  • Nutrition Facts per serving (chicken/sauce only): 310 calories, 9 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 13 g carbohydrate, 23 g protein, 800 mg sodium, 75 mg cholesterol, and 1 g fiber.


Stay tuned for more reviews from Dream Dinners!

Dream Dinners

Imagine a place where you can prepare meals ahead of time for nearly an entire month…. wait, it gets better….. you do not have to shop for the ingredients…. you do not have to prepare sauces…. you do not have to purchase an entire bottle of specialized vinegar to use only a few teaspoons…. you do not have to clean up your work surfaces…. you do not have to wash your measuring cups, spoons, bowls, spatulas…. ready to go?!  Yes!!

When Dream Dinners of Tucson offered 18 meals to me in this wonderful environment, I jumped on the opportunity!  I’ve known about the company and it’s concepts for several years, but have never jumped into the pool myself.  For the record, I was not paid for this review, but was gifted the 6 different entrees my family ate.

This first post will simply go over my initial experience with preparing the freezer meals.  So, this is how it all works…. First, you go online to Dream Dinners to find your local store.  There are 86 locations nationwide.  Schedule your appointment time online – this is when you will go to the store and assemble your meals!

Second, you get to choose the meals that you want to make.  There is a huge variety, including chicken, beef, pork, vegetarian, sandwiches, pasta, seafood….. really, there is something for every family.  And, recipes offerings change every month, so there is little chance of getting bored.  Recipes can be purchased as 3 serving or 6 serving meals.  Here are the recipes I chose for my November session:

  • Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms and Mashed Potatoes
  • Chicken Paella
  • Swiss Beef Sliders on Mini Pretzel Buns
  • Chicken and Pasta with Lemon and Artichoke Sauce
  • Golden Shrimp with Parmesan Risotto
  • Outlaw Chicken Marinara

Third, arrive with your cooler at your local Dream Dinners store front at your scheduled time.  Assemble your wonderful meals and head home to your freezer!  Here was my take-home haul!  So organized and streamlined!


I found Dream Dinners super fun, clean, organized and friendly!

I was greeted by Sue Dew, one of the owners, who completely showed me the ropes.  The staff is incredibly helpful.  Here are a few photos from that day…. Take note of the incredible inventory of ingredients that you don’t have to store in your home.  Each recipe has it’s own prep station, where ingredients are prepped and stored, steps are simple to follow, and storage bags are ready to be stuffed.  Hand-washing stations are available for patrons to utilize between each recipe prep.  Industrial dishwashers are used to clean utensils, bowls and containers.  Individual assigned fridge space awaits your creations, so that they are safe and cool until you leave for home.  They will even help you load your heavy cooler into your vehicle and wave good-bye!

Stay tuned for reviews of ALL the yummy meals I brought home!

And be sure to visit Dream Dinners for more info!



Tasty Kids Nutrition Club – November Update

I think this extracurricular club may be one of my favorite professional gigs ever!  These kiddos are so enthusiastic and fun!  They are willing to try new foods each week.  I’m greeted with hugs and “what are we doing today?!” every time I see them.  It’s a true delight!!

We celebrated fall this month in full force!  During week 1, we learned about Fiber in apples, tasted apples in a variety of ways – fresh, dried, apple sauce, and juice – and we made beautiful apple nachos!  What are apple nachos?  They are spiralized Granny Smith apples topped with pumpkin seeds, oats, craisins, and soy nuts….then drizzled with caramel sauce!  YUM!

The kids’ creations were amazing!


During week 2, we learned about orange foods that contain Vitamin A and how this nutrient helps our eyes, skin and immune system.  We made Pumpkin Spice Energy Bites (Delish!) and tasted other Vitamin A-rich foods like carrots, dried apricots, sweet potatoes and kale.


In week 3, right before Thanksgiving, we made mini pumpkin cheesecakes in a cup.  The kids loved them!  The healthier ingredients included pumpkin yogurt and light cream cheese, piled on top of vanilla wafers and topped with pecans.  Gratefulness for all we have been given was one of our main topics of conversation while prepping our treats.


If you haven’t read the updates from September and October, be sure to check them out!

If you’re interested in bringing Tasty Kids Nutrition Club to your school, contact me!



Recipe: 20-minute Italian Chicken Pasta

Another super fast, delicious dinner here for you guys!  (Do you see a common thread lately?!)  Hey – I’m a working mom too & I am always on the lookout for recipes like this one.  Micronutrient bursts from the spinach & tomatoes, with fiber from the whole wheat pasta and lean protein from the chicken – this dish has it all!


20-minute Italian Chicken Pasta

Yield: 6 servings


  • 16-oz box whole wheat pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 15-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, meat taken off bones in bite-size pieces
  • 5-6 ounce package fresh spinach
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Optional garnishes – fresh basil & grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. In large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat olive oil, garlic and spices.  When garlic is lightly browned, add tomatoes and broth.  Bring to a boil and add chicken.
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together milk and flour to form a slurry, making sure there are no clumps.  Stir this into the chicken sauce and simmer until slightly thickened.  Add spinach and cook until wilted, stirring frequently
  4. Drain pasta.  Combine pasta and sauce.  Serve immediately with garnishes, as desired.


Recipe: Salmon Fajitas

What is easier than a one-baking sheet oven meal?  A working mom’s dream come true!  I’ve got you covered in this delicious, family-friendly, healthy and simple meal!  Not only is prep easy, clean up is easy too!  You need this in your home this week!  Let me know how you like it…. my family gobbled it up!


Salmon Fajitas

Yield: 4 servings


  • Three 4-oz salmon fillets
  • Homemade taco seasoning (see recipe here)
  • 4 bell peppers, sliced into strips
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into strips
  • olive oil
  • Fajita size flour tortillas
  • Optional condiments – shredded cabbage, queso fresco, chopped cilantro, lime wedges
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray cooking oil onto large baking sheet.  Arrange peppers, onions and salmon onto baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with homemade taco seasoning.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until salmon is flaky and veggies are tender.
  4. Arrange fajitas into tortillas, with desired condiments.  Enjoy!



Tasty Kids Nutrition Club – October Update

We have had a LOT of fun in our Tasty Kids Nutrition Club at a local charter school!  If you missed the September update, be sure to check it out!

img_5804First week of October we explored the Dairy Group!  The kids made yogurt parfaits using vanilla yogurt, granola, strawberries, grapes and pumpkin seeds.  They also learned how protein and calcium are important for growing bodies.  At the Tasting Station, we had high calcium foods to try – cheese, kefir and almond milk.  Surprisingly to me, the kids really liked the kefir drink…. asking for seconds and wanting to take the leftovers home!  Yes!

Second meeting brought us to the Protein Group!  Students tasted high protein foods like tuna, tofu, soy nuts and pumpkin seeds.  Using food labels, they calculated their protein intake and compared it to what they need each day.  Finally, at the Chef’s Station, we made Black and White Bean Tacos with Avocado Lime Cilantro sauce.  Mmmmmmm!!

For the final week in October, we celebrated Halloween with some holiday-inspired fruit creations.  Grape-raisin-craisin spiders!  And, candy-corn colored fruit parfaits!

We had kiddos trying new foods again this month – avocado, tuna, tofu, vanilla yogurt, pumpkin seeds, mandarin oranges and dried cranberries!

Interested in bringing Tasty Kids Nutrition Club to your school?

Contact me!