How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Those adorable, little pie pumpkins that are in the produce section of your grocery store at the moment are for much more than crafting or painting spooky faces on. They are fantastic to cook with and more importantly, they can be used to make this gorgeous, all-natural pumpkin puree! 

Now, humor me here, and take another look at that picture. Honestly, is that an amazing color or what?! Fresh, pure pumpkin puree is easier to make than you may think and it can be used in any recipe that calls for canned puree.  


Spiced Pumpkin Empanadas

I know I'm not alone in my excitement over fall's imminent arrival. It's my absolute favorite season of the year! Here in South Texas, the scorching, end-of-summer heat will linger a bit longer, and I always look so forward to the cool, autumn weather.  After suffering through the recent, sweltering weeks, the crisp, breezy fall days will be like heaven-on-Earth for me. 

The upcoming, chilly days will open the door for my family to enjoy some of our favorite things. To start with, my favorite things to wear are jeans and boots. In fact, I've already dusted off my favorite pair of Roper's and they're ready for action! And, hopefully it won't be too much longer before we get to bundle up in sweaters and watch the kids play in huge piles of fallen leaves outside. We also can't wait for bonfires, homemade hot cocoa, s'mores!


Breadless Zesty Italian Roll-Ups

For as long as I can remember, sandwiches have been one of my favorite things in the world. Just to give you all a glimpse into my sandwich-loving back story, here's a little tale for you:  When my siblings and I were much younger, the wall behind my dad's desk in his office was always covered in art, crafts and drawings made by each of us. Most of the crafts or pictures were created at school around the holidays, you know, the sort of nice ones that were worth saving. 

There were mystic, crayon-colored sketches of bright, green Christmas trees, construction paper cut-outs of trees, and Easter baskets filled with colorful eggs, large stick-drawings of cats and dogs, pasted randomly all over the wall. And then, somewhere near the center of the collection, there was one crayon sketch on a regular sheet of printer paper that was very clearly titled: "Hot, Ham and Cheese".  Yep, that one outstanding, original, colorful crayon sketch of a ham sandwich came from none other than moi. 


Creamy, Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

I think all of us have dishes and recipes that we reserve just for the holidays or certain seasons.  Scalloped potatoes is one such dish for me. My siblings and I typically only saw potatoes like this once, maybe twice, a year at Thanksgiving and sometimes Christmas too.  And, boy, did we look forward to them all year long!  

I don't make this dish very often either, but when I do anxious people start buzzing around the kitchen like nosy flies and asking questions like "Is it ready yet?!" way too often. Well, they get shooed out of the kitchen and reminded that potato perfection takes time. This dish needs about an hour in the oven before it's ready.

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