Pumpkin Galore

Every day I spend so much time looking at recipes and food blogs. I often get asked, “Don’t I ever get tired of looking at food all day, every day?” Honestly, no. As a Professional Recipe Developer, I am always looking for new, creative ideas for inspiration. I have seen so many incredible pumpkin recipes and ideas lately that I had to share them with you, starting with a recipe from Lisa for Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pistachio Bread  from her blog, With Style & Grace. Pumpkins are a nutritional powerhouse, and I hope you”ll enjoy some of these incredible ideas and recipes.

Here are some of my other favorites:

Maple Pumpkin Fudge from Sugarcrafter

Pumpkin Granola from Chocolate and Carrots

Studded Pumpkins from Gordon Gossip and Horchow

Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake Cooking on the Side

Stacked Monogram Pumpkins from Better Homes and Gardens

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes by Annie Eats

Pumpkin Vegetable Tray from Taste of Home

Homemade Caramel Corn

Homemade Caramel Corn anyone? This child (and adult) favorite is a great snack, dessert or even fun tailgating recipe. It also makes a great fall or Christmas food gift. I love this homemade Caramel Corn because it’s simple to prepare and uses a variety of almonds, pecans and walnuts, adding more protein. Make this even healthier by using my Saucepan Popcorn recipe to pop your popcorn. It’s so easy and uses no microwave. Be careful, this can get very addicting 🙂

Saucepan Popcorn Recipe & Healthy Back to School Snack Ideas

Since school just started back, I am trying to start the year off right. I try to be creative and point my kids in the right direction when it comes to packing healthy lunches and providing after-school snacks that are good for them. My three children love this recipe for Saucepan Popcorn which is so easy and healthier than the other popcorn alternatives. Here are some other quick ideas for when you are in a hurry that have a nice balance of protein, fiber and carbohydrates:

Healthy Snacks Ideas for Kids:

Trail Mix

Homemade Smoothies

Homemade Granola

Healthier Banana Bread

Other Ideas:

Reduced Sodium Cottage Cheese with fruit

Whole grain crackers with cheese

Greek yogurt with honey and fruit

Apple and Skim Milk

Almond or Peanut Butter and Banana

Hummus with carrots and celery Nut Butter on graham crackers

Hard boiled eggs

Any Occasion Chocolate Cupcakes

This is not one of my typical “lightened-up” recipes, but I had to share these Any Occasion Chocolate Cupcakes with you. My daughter, Leigh, made this recipe for me the night I arrived home from being in Italy for a week. I was so excited to come home to my family and true comfort food. These are so spectacular. You don’t even need to make homemade icing. I wanted to post the recipe for Father’s Day, but I was traveling again this past week. I realized that this recipe is perfect for so many occasions: Father’s Day, birthdays, parties, showers or just because. I thought they would be a great way to start off the week so enjoy.

Oreo Cupcakes

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone! This is my last dessert for a while, but I wanted to share this recipe for Oreo Cupcakes which has been lightened up. The cupcake part of the recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine. In their recipe, they sprinkled the cupcakes with powdered sugar, and they are great. I love extra chocolate flavor so I slathered mine with chocolate frosting and of course, an Oreo. If you don’t have time to make your own frosting, you can substitute the store-bought icing. The total calories per serving for the cupcake is 150 calories, 5 grams of fat and 24 carbohydrates. Enjoy and have a fun and wonderful Valentines!

Easy Holiday Appetizer: Cranberry-Orange Glazed Brie

While cranberries are still at their peak, why not prepare a simple sauce to serve with your holiday turkey or to serve over Brie. This festive appetizer recipe for Cranberry-Orange Glazed Brie is perfect served this holiday season at an open house on Christmas Eve or for a New Years Day celebration. Served with crackers and some toasted bread, preparation is a snap. If you have leftovers, just give to neighbors or friends for a last minute gift.

Decorating Christmas Cupcakes with Kids

My daughter, Leigh, and her friend Eloise have been at it again in the kitchen decorating Christmas Cupcakes. They did an amazing job, once again. They started by researching what cupcake designs they wanted to do with a few bottles of icing and some holiday candies and sprinkles. They created these fabulous cupcakes below completely on their own. This is great holiday craft idea to do with the kids and kids’ friends, and it’s so easy and inexpensive to do. Enjoy their talented creations below:


$100 Stella & Dot Jewelry Giveaway

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I’m so excited to bring to you this awesome, fun giveaway just in time to celebrate the upcoming holidays! Christine Raspino, an independent Stella & Dot stylist, would like to offer one Ingredients, Inc. reader a $100 gift certificate to go shopping at Stella & Dot! Just take a look at their fashionable, one of a kind jewelry pieces. They’re perfect for daytime, evening, parties, family gatherings, and get-togethers anytime of year! They also have a new teen line of jewelry which my daughter loves.

$100 Stella & Dot Jewelry Giveaway!

offers boutique-style jewelry that has been featured in top fashion magazines, like InStyle and Lucky, and worn by celebrities such as Penelope Cruz, Jennifer Love Hewitt and many others. The Stella & Dot design team is led by Blythe Harris, who previously designed for Banana Republic. She has created a line of jewelry for Stella & Dot with variety and style, from vintage-inspired pieces to modern, versatile designs. With pieces ranging from $15-$198, and half the line under $50, the collection has something for everyone!  

Still holiday shopping?  For all orders placed by Wednesday, December 22nd, Stella & Dot will automatically upgrade your shipping to 2-day air to receive in time for Christmas!  Everything comes adorably packaged and gift ready!

How to Enter

To be entered to win the $100 Stella & Dot gift certificate, all you have to do is leave me a note in the comments section of this post. How would you spend your gift certificate? What’s your favorite piece? Would you keep it for yourself or who would you give it to? 🙂

Also for an extra chance to win, join my Ingredients, Inc. Facebook Fan Page and Christine’s Stella & Dot Facebook Fan Page to keep up-to-date on new products, sales, giveaways, and more!

Also, tweet the following for another chance to win: Awesome Stella and Dot Jewelry Giveaway on Ingredients, Inc.  http://t.co/VycuXf3 via @AddThis via @alisonlewis

Contest ends Monday, December 27th at 8 pm CST. One entry per person, please. Winner will be chosen by and notified by email.

Exclusive Stella & Dot Jewelry Special for Ingredients, Inc. Readers! Get ready to sparkle on NYE!

For those who’d like to place an order, Christine would also like to offer fellow Ingredient’s Inc. readers an exclusive Stella & Dot promotion! Place an order by Monday, December 27th and you’ll be entered to win this beautiful Petra Bracelet (featured below, a $98 value).  Mixed industrial metal chains are braided together with the sparkle of cubic zirconia for take-no-prisoners style. This versatile piece will be the hit of any holiday / NYE event with a little black dress, or look great with just jeans and a t-shirt.  When you visit the site, click the top right hand corner, “find your hostess,” and enter Christine Raspino when prompted for your Hostess name.

Good luck!! 🙂

Savory Bread Pudding with Spinach, Bacon and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Breakfast and brunch recipes are some of my favorites, and I love celebrating the holidays with my family with a great brunch menu. I’ve had so many emails and questions for Christmas brunch recipes, so I thought I would suggest one of my favorites. This Savory Bread Pudding with Bacon, Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes makes a hearty breakfast or brunch main course, but it’s also great to serve for a weeknight or Sunday night dinner. This recipe is so easy and can be made ahead the night before. Then, all you have to do on Christmas morning is bake it in the oven. Enjoy this recipe anytime of the year since it’s also perfect for showers or any morning celebrations.

Last Minute Holiday Gifts: Dark Chocolate Chip-Peanut Butter Cookies

Wow, cookies are in abundance this time of year, and instead of racking my brain trying to create something new to give as holiday gifts, I decided to go back to a tried and true favorite. Dark Chocolate Chip-Peanut Butter Cookies are so incredibly fabulous. This recipe is adapted from a “Cooking Light” recipe that I have made many times. What I love about it is that it is lightened up a bit since it has no butter. Instead, it uses Canola oil, water and egg whites. These cookies come out soft and moist with just a hint of peanut butter. Feel free to substitute semisweet chocolate chips or even mini chocolate chips if you like. These are great to give as gifts to neighbors and teachers as well as to leave out for Santa on Christmas eve.