Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

This pumpkin pie spice is the perfect seasoning for all of your fall baking. Be sure to check out my secret ingredient that gives it a special POP. :)

Pumpkin Pie Spice | thepajamachef.com

Before last fall, I swore by store-bought pumpkin pie spice. Specifically, from Trader Joe’s. But then I ran out and didn’t have time to drive across town to my friend the Trader. Soooo I made my own. Let me confess, I was scared I wouldn’t like it. But guess what! I did. And now I won’t go back to the store-bought stuff.

Pumpkin Pie Spice | thepajamachef.com

My special blend of pumpkin pie spice has all the usual suspects–cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger… and when you’re measuring them, it smells like the essence of fall in your kitchen. Nothin’ better! I’ve spent some times playing around with the ratios of spices and have deemed this recipe my favorite for now. :) But wait… there’s more! I added a lil secret ingredient to give this pumpkin pie spice blend a special pop, a little wow, a big bang, a bunch of deliciousness to all your pumpkin goodies: dried lemon peel! It’s just a tiny amount in the grand scheme of this spice blend, but it adds some citrusy zing that elevates the flavor so much. I will tell you that my buddy the Trader did add lemon peel to his pumpkin pie spice first, but I’m glad I could capitalize on that success. Thank goodness for ingredient labels! :) You can find dried lemon peel in the spice aisle, but I will warn you it’s a little pricier than most spices. However, a little goes a long way so it will last. If you have cardamom I’m sure that would be a good addition too.

Pumpkin Pie Spice | thepajamachef.com

I keep this pumpkin pie spice in a small mason jar in my spice cupboard all year long and add it to anything and everything that can use some fall spice love: pumpkin quick breads and desserts of every kind, of course, but also oatmeal, yogurt, applesauce, and even on toast [a la cinnamon toast]. Some of my favorite pumpkin recipes include: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins, Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cake with Nutella Frosting, and Pumpkin Brownies. To see all my pumpkin recipes, click here. I’ll be adding many more this fall so stay tuned! You’ll want a jar of this stuff in your pantry to enjoy the deliciousness. :)

one year ago: Pumpkin Coconut Soup
two years ago: Iced Tea with Ginger-Mint Simple Syrup
three years ago: Pumpkin Granola
four years ago: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 tablespoon allspice
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lemon peel

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a small jar and shake to combine.

Use in anything and everything this fall–breads, pies, muffins, cakes… yogurt, applesauce… the possibilities are endless!

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Healthy Solutions Spice Blends Review + Giveaway

I was recently contacted by Healthy Solutions Spice Blends about doing a review and giveaway of their products. I’m always a little hesitant to do reviews or giveaways of food products because I never want to feel obligated to promote something that I would not normally purchase or recipes I wouldn’t usually make. At first I thought I would turn Ethan down, nice as the request was since I usually don’t purchase seasoning mixes. But I clicked over to the website and quickly figured out that this company was nothing like what I wanted to avoid. The name should’ve clued me in, but it didn’t. Hahaha. Healthy Solutions is just as good as they sound, and they were founded by a mom so you know they’re legit! :)

Our line of 16 spice blends is made for today’s busy families that prefer having homemade meals over fast foods or frozen foods. Healthy Solutions Spice Blends offer families an affordable, but even more importantly, a healthy alternative in creating flavorful gourmet meals that can be prepared in minutes.

Their products are made only with high quality spices and no fillers, preservatives, or MSG. Most have no salt or sugar. When you open up the resealable packages, you can tell that this is the good stuff! They smell fresh and AMAZING, and each packet contains enough for multiple uses. I honestly was expecting to use a whole packet for one dish and was surprised that each can probably be used at least two or three times.

Healthy Solutions Spice Blends Review + Giveaway on thepajamachef.com

I got to try four varieties: Cajun Seafood, Salmon with Dill, Savory Meatloaf, and Authentic Chili/Tacos. Now, you guys know that I always make my own taco seasoning. I don’t know exactly what Healthy Solutions puts in theirs, but it is really great! I made a quick taco dinner on a recent Sunday night when we arrived home after a weekend away. As we reached Nashville, I was tempted to hit up some fast food since I knew there were slim pickings at home, but instead I asked Ben to stop at the grocery store. I purchased ground beef, tomatoes, and avocados, knowing I had tortillas, cheese, and lettuce at home, and within 20 minutes of arriving home after being away for three days, had a yummy taco dinner on the table. Having the seasonings already prepared is a huge time saver. Reading over this, I realize how contrived that sounds especially against that quote above. But I promise you, I didn’t set that situation up so I could have a nice little blog anecdote. Dinner was so much better than eating fast food! The other night, we also made some Cajun fish by sprinkling a little of the Cajun Seafood seasoning on some frozen white fish, then brushing with olive oil and baking for a bit. I forget what kind of fish it was, since Ben cooks the fish around here, but he LOVED it. To be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t. The seasoning was too spicy for me, but it smelled wonderful. I think I might try making some Cajun spiced chickpeas and seeing if I can handle that since I like chickpeas better than fish. So far, we haven’t tried the meatloaf or dill seasoning blends, though I plan to remedy that soon. Healthy Solutions includes tons of recipes and suggestions of how to use their products, both on the packages and online. I think for lunches next week I might make this dill egg salad… sounds delicious! I think that seasoning blend may also be great with tuna.

Healthy Solutions Spice Blends Review + Giveaway on thepajamachef.com

All in all, I’m now a HUGE fan of this company. They have affordable, high quality products that taste great and are healthy and convenient. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy their products myself in the future, and find it super convenient that they’re sold online with a flat shipping rate so you can stock up. :) And I’m equally excited that one of YOU will get to try 4 varieties of their spices now too.

P.S. You should sign up for their Spice Healthy Eat Healthy Club to get a 20% off coupon for your next purchase!

You can enter this giveaway up to three [3] times by following the prompts below, and the winner will receive four [4] varieties of Healthy Solutions Spice Blends of their choice for free. Please be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry so it is properly counted.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Mandatory entry: go to Healthy Solution’s website and tell me in the comments what meat or seafood blend you would choose if you win.
  2. Optional entry: Follow The Pajama Chef on at least one form of social media: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Instagram and let me know which one you chose in the comments. Entries will be verified!
  3. Optional entry: Follow Healthy Solutions on at least one form of social media: Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter and let me know which one you chose in a comment. Entries will be verified!

Entries will be accepted until Saturday, September 13, 2014 at midnight Central Time. One [1] winner will be selected randomly through Random.org and will be contacted via email soon after. The winner will have 48 hours to respond before an alternate winner will be chosen. 

Giveaway open only to residents of the United States.

Thanks and good luck!

Disclosure: I received four complimentary seasoning blends from Healthy Solutions Spice Blends to try and review, and four more blends to give to a blog reader. I was not compensated for my time or to publish positive comments. My opinions are my own.

 

 

Healthy Crumb Topped Zucchini Bread

This soft, tender zucchini bread is my master recipe! It comes out perfect every time and is simply the best.

Healthy Crumb Topped Zucchini Bread | thepajamachef.com

Everybody has their favorite zucchini bread recipe, and this is mine. I’ve been making it for 5 years now and it comes out perfect every SINGLE time. Before Ben and I starting dating in 2008, I hadn’t ever had zucchini bread. It sounded so weird to me, but Ben grew up eating it in the summers and introduced it to me at one of our favorite coffee shops. And the rest, as they say, is history. My love for Ben and my love for zucchini bread will never die! :) Anyways…. this is a pretty simple recipe with walnuts and just a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg to spice things up, but the crumb topping makes it extra special.

Healthy Crumb Topped Zucchini Bread | thepajamachef.com

If you look at this loaf of bread, and compare it to my recipe below, you’ll notice that A) there are no nuts [I was out] and B) there’s no oats in the crumb topping. Oops. Just disregard that, and make as written below. It’ll be awesome, I promise. When I made this I had some leftover crumb topping from a pie in the freezer, so I used that topping instead. OH! Speaking of pie, I almost forgot to tell you what makes this bread healthy. Well, I’ve healthified the original recipe by cutting the sugar wayyyy back from 1 cup of each white and brown sugars, and using some whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose. It’s crazy to me how tender this zucchini bread is even when using whole wheat flour. I hope you give this bread a try to use up zucchini over the last few weeks of summer! Enjoy!

two years ago: Chocolate Mousse 
four years ago: Bestest Pizza Sauce Ever

Healthy Crumb Topped Zucchini Bread

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Print

adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil – canola or coconut, melted to liquify
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2-3 cups grated zucchini, about 1 medium – do not drain, the excess water adds the moisture that this recipe requires
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped – optional

for crumb topping

  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Directions:

Grease and flour an 8×4 or 9×5 loaf pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, stir together flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugars. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet and stir to combine. Fold in zucchini and nuts gently.

Spoon batter into prepared pan.

To prepare crumb topping, stir together oats, sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Pour in melted butter and stir with a fork until coarse crumbs form. Spread over batter. Bake for 40-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 55 minutes is perfect for my oven. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes, then remove bread from pan and cool completely before slicing.

Linked up with: Foodie Friends Friday, Weekend Potluck.

SRC: Corn Flakes Chivda, a Sweet + Spicy Snack Mix

This Indian snack mix is full of nuts, raisins, and corn flakes. It’s sweet, spicy, and oh so delicious!

Corn Flakes Chivda | thepajamachef.com

Normally I deliberate a bunch on my Secret Recipe Club recipe selection. Not this time! I was assigned to Trisha’s lovely blog, My Hobbie Lobbie. Trisha lives in Sydney, Australia but she moved there from Mumbai. Consequently, her blog is a huge treat of international cuisine! Mainly Indian food, of course, but she has traveled all over and has tons of fun recipes to share. When perusing her blog, one of the first things I was drawn to was this savory snack mix that used cornflakes! I love cereal and just thought it sounded delicious. I didn’t want to be too hasty, so I did consider other things like Homemade Mayonnaise, Samosas, and Crushed Black Pepper Crackers. But in the end, Corn Flakes Chivda drew me in, mainly because I was looking for an excuse to hit up one of the [many] international markets in Nashville.

Corn Flakes Chivda | thepajamachef.com

One of the best things about living in Nashville is the abundance of international groceries and markets. I always say I’m going to check them out, but you know how things go… when you’re busy, you just hit up the local Publix or Kroger. It’s just easier. So I make myself go to these places but picking recipes to make for blog events that REQUIRE a specialty store. Sometimes it stresses me out, but it’s always worth it! So Saturday, Ben and I headed to our favorite local Turkish restaurant [Istanbul Cafe, for local folks] for lunch and then headed to the Indian grocery down the road. It was so fun, and this snack mix is well worth the effort required to get any ingredients you may not regularly purchase.

Corn Flakes Chivda | thepajamachef.com

Ben and I are now totally addicted to this snack mix. In fact, I’m crunching on some right now. It’s sweet with a little bit of spice. It’s not spicy hot, but if you don’t want any heat I’d just leave out the cayenne powder. Trisha’s original recipe includes several types of chiles, but I only decided to use the cayenne. This snack mix is her husband’s favorite, and it’s a great recipe to change up based on your family’s preferences. I used cashews, peanuts, raisins, and chana dal as Trisha’s recipe stated, but you could use your imagination to choose whatever dried fruit or nuts you like. It was pretty cool to read this recipe at the Indian grocery and compare it to the selection of snack foods they sold. There was totally a cornflakes-based snack mix there, and I made my own at home! The one component of this recipe I had to change up was using curry powder instead of curry leaves. I wasn’t able to find any of those, but if you can, use ‘em! This came together in a flash, and I’m sure I’ll be making it again soon!

Corn Flakes Chivda

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Print

from My Hobbie Lobbie

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/3 cup roasted chana dal [dalia]
  • 1/3 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 2 cups cornflakes
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar [or granulated sugar, pulsed in a food processor]

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and let sputter for a minute or so. Add chana dal, cashews, and peanuts and saute for another minute or so.

Add raisins and cook for about 30 seconds. Sprinkle curry powder, turmeric powder, and cayenne powder on top and stir to combine. Slowly add in the cornflakes, tossing gently to combine. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with sugar.

Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Notes: amounts of nuts, raisins, and seasonings are totally flexible! Adjust to your liking and consult Trisha’s original recipe for more suggestions.

Be sure to check below for other recipes made by fellow SRC members this month!