Breakfast in Bed – Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin Butter

Post by Alison Hein.

Before we let go of autumn and plunge into winter’s chilly arms, why don’t we briefly revisit the harvest with some old-fashioned, homey Pumpkin Butter? A jar of this sweet spread is a time capsule that will bring you back to days past as you enjoy its cozy, pumpkin pie flavors. Make your own flavorful purée by roasting or steaming fresh pumpkins, or use a pre-packaged can for a quick, easy delight.

Pumpkin Butter

It’s “butter” only in the sense that it is spreadable. Pumpkin purée, brown sugar and pie spices thicken up and colors darken as they cook into a “shmearable” substance, just right for a slice of hearty toasted bread. Or, try a spoonful of Pumpkin Butter stirred into some hot oatmeal for a delicious diversion. You may also like it scooped on top of some freshly baked waffles, or even mixed into a dish of plain yogurt. Packed neatly into a glass mason jar, pumpkin butter makes a lovely gift as well.

Years ago, many families prepared and canned their own pumpkin butter. In recent years, however, the USDA warns against canning pumpkin (and other squash varieties) due to the low acid content of the vegetable. While some people still preserve pumpkin butter, adding lemon juice or vinegar to raise the acidity levels, I think it best we follow the guidance of the USDA and simply eat it immediately – spread, scooped or stirred – for an old-fashioned, homey breakfast in bed.

Pumpkin Butter

Ingredients

1 15-ounce can (or 2 cups fresh) pumpkin purée
½ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pumpkin Butter

Preparation

Combine pumpkin purée, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and vanilla in small heavy saucepan. Bring to a slow simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, then cook until thickened and flavors are melded, stirring occasionally, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Cool, and place in jar. Use immediately, freeze, or refrigerate and use within one week.

Pumpkin Butter

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Movies in Bed: Guardians of the Galaxy

GOTG-posterPost by Mark T. Locker.

In a world where every superhero gets a movie, or a movie franchise, it’s hard not to feel a little bit jaded or at least completely overwhelmed by the flood of choices. It seems like there are new movies every week. So when a movie like “Guardians of the Galaxy” shows up, it’s hard not to be totally skeptical. For one thing: ANOTHER movie from the endless reservoir of Marvel characters. And another: a giant tree man and a talking raccoon make up part of this team. But all that concern falls away when you watch the movie.

Good news: this movie is enjoyable! It’s funny, it’s clever, it’s not a lot of things it could have been. Here’s the premise: Peter Quill is an Earthling who was taken from his home in 1988 and has been raised by a race of blue-skinned thieves. In a tussle to claim a mysterious orb, he and his opponent are arrested and taken to a space prison. Here he meets a giant tree man named Groot, a brilliant but bad-tempered name Rocket, and Drax, a big meaty very literal guy. This motley crew, along with Gamora, the one who fought Quill for the orb, they form an alliance when they discover they have a common enemy in Ronin, who seeks the orb.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is peppered with funny one-liners, top-shelf cast, and plenty of action and special effects to keep viewers entertained. There is a great deal of fighting and killing but none of it is graphic or bloody. Good exciting movie for grown-ups and older children. And I bet you anything you will have “Hooked on a Feeling” in your head for days afterward.

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Chic Chandeliers: Make a Lighting Statement in Your Bedroom

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Bedroom lighting is often an afterthought but should be part of the design plan from the beginning. While ambiance is a key component in a sleep space, task lighting for reading is equally important. That being said, beyond bedside lamps, sconces, and recessed lights, chandeliers portray elegance when chosen for a bedroom, and these are some exquisite examples to inspire.

This serene bedroom contains all of the design elements needed for a tranquil place to rest and relax. The large circular pendant/chandelier draws the eye upward and accentuates the crisp crown moldings.

This room boasts another pendant-type fixture but this one resembles an oversized lampshade. Suspended at just the right height, the style of light is ideal for the room and works well with the sloped ceiling.

Terrific in turquoise, the L-O-V-E-ly bedroom boasts a touch of whimsy, particularly in the accessories. The feminine crystal chandelier is the perfect choice for the theme of this cheery room.

Although I’d like to see a little more color in this super neutral bedroom, I adore the chandelier. I’m sure the designer made a conscious choice to not install shades but rather let the shape of the fixture take center stage. This light is a modern version of a classic.

Far from your ordinary chandelier, this oversized light joins the bed in becoming a focal point in the room. This fixture not only sufficiently lights the space but adds a decorative element that dresses up an otherwise fairly simple mountain house bedroom.

How do you feel about using a chandelier in your bedroom?

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Breakfast in Bed – Lemon Ricotta Egg Cups

Lemon Ricotta Egg Cups

Post by Alison Hein.

For several months now, I’ve enjoyed making the crisp, salty Prosciutto Egg Cups my friend Michele told me about. So much so, in fact, that I wanted to experiment with the recipe to change them up a little. What if I whisked eggs with some seasonings instead of cracking them whole into the center of the prosciutto?

Lemon Ricotta Egg Cups

I was fumbling with exactly how I should season these imaginary eggs – savory herbs? Spicy pepper? Perhaps some thin-sliced mushrooms? when I had an ‘aha’ moment. A friendly stranger told me about the most divine lemon ricotta pancakes she had enjoyed at the Stoneacre Pantry in Newport, Rhode Island. That was it! I would put an Italian slant on my whisked eggs, adding lemony ricotta cheese, a dash of parmesan, and a sprig of fresh, green basil.

The ricotta-laced eggs emerged from the oven all puffed up and popover like – their warm insides a delightful cheesy fluff; a savory cheesecake. The salty exterior provided a crispy counterpoint to the delicate melt-in-your-mouth middle. If you decide to make your egg cups without their prosciutto wrapper, be sure to add a generous amount of salt to the egg mixture before baking or they may taste a bit bland.

Lemon Ricotta Egg Cups

And, if you’re wondering about those divine pancakes, well, frankly, so am I. On to the next experiment, and hopefully, the next divine breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

Cooking spray
2 pieces prosciutto
2 eggs
¼ cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Lemon Ricotta Egg Cups

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a muffin tin with cooking spray (for as many eggs as you plan to make). Arrange a piece of prosciutto in each muffin cup, wrapping around the sides and covering the bottom to form a closed bowl.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk until thick and frothy. Stir is ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Whisk until smooth and pour egg mixture into prosciutto-lined muffin cups. Grind some fresh black peppercorns onto the top of the egg mixture. Place in oven and bake for around 20 minutes until egg is cooked firm. Carefully scoop out eggs with a large spoon. Garnish with fresh basil and serve hot.

Makes 2 servings.

Lemon Ricotta Egg Cups

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Bedtime Stories: Remembering R.A. Montgomery

choose-your-own-adventure

Choose your Own Adventure: Prisoner of the Ant People by R.A. Montgomery.

Anyone who grew up in the late seventies or beyond had probably read a book by R.A. Montgomery, though they might not even know his name. The author and publisher of over 200 Choose Your Own Adventure books passed away last week at the age of 78. I have many memories of reading these unique books over and over again as a kid. Just looking at the covers of such volumes as The Cave of Time and Your Code Name is Jonah brings back floods of memories, not necessarily of the plots, as those vary with each reading and each choice bu the reader, but of the feeling of adventure and control over your own destiny as you read.

ant peopleWhat made these books so special was the way Montgomery put the reader in the driver’s seat. Not only is it one of the few books you will find written in the second person (as in, “You walk into a room”) but at pivotal moments in the story you, the reader, must decide what to do next. Do you take it slow and explore the spaceship for the missing crew, or do you follow your gut and shrink yourself to a tiny size and look for them at the subatomic level? Choose, but choose wisely. For one decision may lead to a successful adventure but the other may lead to your demise.

My son picked out his first Choose Your Own Adventure a couple weeks ago. He picked Prisoner of the Ant People which is a weird sci-fi novel filled with Martians, disintegration rays, and talking ant “people”. I’m excited to be introducing him to this wonderful and exciting world of interactive reading. If anyone else has tried to do the same kind of bo0k, they have not succeeded. R.A. Montgomery will always hold the torch for those who want to decide whether or not to follow the Sherpa into the Yeti’s cave.

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