Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

Pumpkin pie spice, 
for me,
is probably a once or twice a year necessity.
So it's not something I always keep on hand or like to spend precious dollars on,
and just for a measly little container of it too.

But recently, finding myself in need of it, and finding my little container smelling
not-so-pumpkin-y anymore, 
(it had been expired for over a year...or two),
I decided to make my own.

It was a tad overwhelming with how many different versions google dug up, 
but this one looked the best to me
mostly because I loooove cinnamon
and the ratio just kinda seemed right.

I guess there's no way to really know if it's good unless you bake somethin' up with it
and taste it.

Which is exactly what I did.
And it passed with flying colors.
And that will be my next post.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
big pinch of cardamom (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.  Use in any recipe calling for pumpkin pie spice.


Hearty Chickpea Soup

I know Fall is not officially over yet, 
but because today is a beautiful fall day and
because my weather-man is forecasting snow for tomorrow,
I feel the need for a "Farewell to Fall" post.

It's impossible for me even think of the word "Fall" without thinking of my mother-in-law.
She is the Queen of Fall.
As soon as leaves begin to redden and crisp up,
you can walk into her house, and, without fail, be greeted by
a home-y cinnamon or pumpkin aroma.
You can walk out onto her deck and smile at
homegrown pumpkins and bright, beautiful mums.
After a crisp fall walk, she'll make you
a delicious, warm fall soup.
I've never met anyone who loved fall more.

On a recent, particularly crispy fall day,
I made one of her soups.

It's vegetarian, yet hearty and comforting.
The combination of cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger in this soup =
absolute genius.
And although it makes me think of fall, I guarantee it will grace our table this winter too!

...catchya later, Fall...

Hearty Chickpea Soup
From my mother-in-law
4 servings

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 can (14.5-oz) diced or tomatoes (no salt added)
2 cups baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
lemon wedges, for garnish

In medium saucepan, heat oil on medium heat.  Saute celery, carrot, onion, and garlic 3-5 minutes.  Add cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger.  Cook 1-2 minutes longer.  Add broth, chickpeas, and tomatoes and simmer until vegetables are soft.  Add chopped spinach leaves and lemon wedges on top just before serving.


Homemade Taco Seasoning

After finding myself out of taco seasoning the other day,
with a half-made pot of taco soup on the stove,
I hastily googled, "homemade taco seasoning."

After browsing several, I knew this would be the one.

This recipe comes from Perry's Plate, one of my favorite food blogs.
So, I made it, AND...
The soup tasted better than with the usual store-bought packets.
Natalie's taco seasoning has all the expected ingredients...plus a few secrets...
namely cocoa powder & oregano,
bringing your hum-drum taco seasoning up a few notches.  :)

Moral of the story:  next time you're in a pinch for taco seasoning (or in a pinch to pay a dollar-plus on one measly sodium-loaded packet), this is your answer.

I'm planning on making this in bulk to use in place of store-bought packets from now on...

Perrys' Plate Taco Seasoning

For one packet's worth of taco seasoning (3-4 Tbsp):
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cocoa
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (I would personally leave this out if young children were eating it)
1/8 tsp ground coriander

For about 4-5 packets worth of seasoning, quadruple the above recipe.  
Combine all spices together and store in an airtight container.  Use in place of store-bought taco seasoning!


Chocolate Witches Hats

In an attempt to be festive & Halloween-y,
I made some simple witches hats...
(an idea I spotted on Pinterest)

At first I was a little disappointed at the blemishes & marks in the chocolate,
but quickly realized that it just gives the "hat" a more tattered look...
the more blemishes, the better!

Happy Halloween...a couple days late...  :)

Chocolate Witches Hats
Fudge-striped shortbread cookies
Chocolate kisses
Orange frosting (I used a simple buttercream frosting--next time I'll make my orange darker!)

Pipe orange frosting around the circle on the bottom side of the cookie (for piping the frosting, I used a ziploc bag and cut off the corner).  Place a chocolate kiss on top.
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