Tuesday, October 30, 2012


A bright and colorful chili, the pumpkin adds lots of vitamins and minerals to the meal.  It also smooths out the acidic taste of the tomatoes and the bite of the chiles

Don't just pass over this recipe because of the pumpkin.  This fun and delicious chili with pumpkin in it comes from my high school friend,  Sandy Postema.  She handed out the recipe at our monthly laugh and eat Tuesday at St. George's in Grand Rapids because the chili had won first place at her office chili cooking contest.  When I looked at the recipe, my first thought was what a wonderful way to get extra nutrition into reluctant eaters be they children or adults.  Pumpkin is filled with vitamins, specially A, minerals, and it is low in calories.

A "Bowl of Red" as chili is called in Texas is a very American dish.  Looking at the ingredients in this chili made me think of it as a "Bowl of  the Ancient Americas."  Turkey, pumpkins, tomatoes, corn, beans, and peppers are all foods originally from the American continents.


My Mom put canned tomato soup into her chili to cut the sharpness of the acidic tomatoes and smooth out the flavor.  The pumpkin in this recipe does the same thing that my Mom's tomato soup did.  I added honey to the list of ingredients as I thought I would need it to cut any acidic tang.  However, I didn't need it.  Depending on your taste, don't forget it cuts the acidic sharpness and smooths out any chile pepper heat.

Michigan Cottage Cook's Pumpkin Chili with lettuce, cheese and avocado garnish.

Sandy Postema's Pumpkin Chili calls for a half tablespoon of cumin.  I think that is much too much.  The chefs on TV add cumin by the palmful which has lead non-Mexican restaurants to do so too.  The Mexican restaurants in the Chicago-area's food does not scream "cumin."  Cumin is a very strong spice.  It adds a lovely bass note to a dish as long as it is not over used.  When I did commercial cooking, my assistants would complain about the smell of "old gym socks" when I was adding the cumin to a big steam kettle of taco filling.  I added a half to three-quarters teaspoon cumin to the Michigan Cottage Cook version of Pumpkin Chili.

Bowl of the Ancient Americas.

Sandy Pumpkin Chili

1 lb ground turkey
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 c onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans tomatoes, undrained
1 (4oz) can diced green chiles
1/2 c frozen corn
1 (15oz) can pumpkin, 2 cups
1 1/2 T chili powder
1/2 T cumin
3/4 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
Garnishes:  Sour cream cheese, cilantro or whatever toppings you desire

Brown ground turkey until cooked through.  Add turkey to your crockpot, along with all other ingredients.  Stir well.  Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.  Serve with sour cream, cheese, cilantro, or whatever toppings you desire.

One of my favorite chiles is the Pablano seen in the top basket.  To learn how to char and peel them, check out:

MICHIGAN COTTAGE COOK PUMPKIN CHILI  I didn't want to just post a recipe without making it my own.  I used beef, RoTel Tomatoes with Chilies, and a Poblano pepper instead of just tomatoes and a green bell pepper.  Here is my version of Sandy's Pumpkin Chili.

1 lb. lean ground beef, browned and drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 Poblano chile, charred, peeled, and chopped
1 (28oz) can Ro*Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green chilies, undrained
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15oz) can kidney beans
1 (4oz) can diced green chiles
1/2 c frozen corn or more
1 (15oz) can pumpkin, 2 cups
1 1/2 T chili powder or to taste, I used a little more
Salt and black pepper to taste
Garnishes, if desired:  Tortilla chips, shredded cheese, avocado, green onions, shredded lettuce, or garnishes of your choice

Ingredients:  Ground beef, canned pumpkin, Ro*Tel Tomatoes and Chilies, black beans, red kidney beans, green chilies, frozen corn, onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, Poblano pepper, salt and pepper, to taste.  Honey, to taste.

 In a large skillet, brown ground beef.  Drain.  To the same skillet in which beef was browned, add onions and garlic.  Add a little water to remove browned flavor from the bottom of skillet.  Stir and cook onions until limp.  Add to crockpot.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the crockpot.  Mix gently.  Cook on HIGH for 1 hour.  Reduce to LOW, and cook for 6 to 8 hours.  Serve and garnish if desired.

Dice onion and mince garlic.  I used two onions as this onion was too small.

Brown ground beef and drain.  Add onions and garlic, saute until limp.  Add mixture to crockpot.

Drain and rinse black beans.

Add all the ingredients to the crockpot, seasoning to taste.
Gently stir to mix ingredients.  Cook on HIGH for 1 hour.  Lower heat to LOW and cook for 6 to 8 hours.
Serve and garnish if desired.

If I was creative, I would have made a pumpkin face out of cheese and put it on the chili.

Garnished with chips and cheese is fantastic.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!!


Monday, October 29, 2012


The time for holiday parties is getting closer and closer.  This dip recipe wins raves where ever it is served.  I combined Mexican cheese and European spices to create a deluxe version of this old classic.

I recently made it for a friend who was having her son's wedding at her home and then later in the day a birthday for her husband's 65th birthday.  She and her friends from both parties loved this dip.  I like to serve it with crackers or pita chips.

I am bringing this post back in case you missed it the first time.  Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!



Sunday, October 28, 2012


I was invited to a delightful Halloween breakfast at my dear friend, Paula's, on Saturday.  She wanted to have a party as she has had the coffee cups with the ghosts and candy corn for years.  She decided it was time to use them.  Paula is known for her lovely garden, decorating her home and being a true angel in disguised as a person.  Here are a few pictures of her great gathering.  My batteries in my camera gave out and I didn't have my spares with me.

Paula served Quiche, muffins, salad, fresh fruit, orange juice, cider, and other goodies.

 My plate is bottom left and is, of course, loaded.  However, food eaten with friends has no calories.
This fun cat is the napkin.  It is made to stand alone in the center of a plate.  I had never seen a napkin like this before Paula's.

Others loaded their plates with Paula's fantastic food too.

Serving table.

Even the windows were decorated.

Second shot of the serving table.

Happy Halloween and thank you Paula for thinking of me when you planned your wonderful party.  The guests all voted and want to be invited back again soon.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I spent yesterday having so much fun with four friends as Char taught us how to make the Lithuanian Kapusta as opposed to Polish Kapusta which is next on my list of "Things To Do."  You will want to watch for this recipe because it takes the humble cabbage and saurkraut to a heavenly place.

This is Char.  She taught us how to make Lithuanian Kapusta.  I think her beautiful smile comes through in the food she cooks making it extra special.  She gave me some soup recipes I must try soon too.
Kapusta takes the smell and the bite out of cooked cabbage.  I like it on potatoes.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


I have posts that I have taken the pictures and done the research for over a year ago and I still haven't gotten the information posted on the blog.  Sometimes I have even forgotten that I did them.  Other future posts keep getting buried in the stack of papers waiting for me to do the work and get them up.  However, after I made this pineapple and zucchini bread/muffin, my friends wanted it up on the blog immediately.  The flavor of this bread/muffin is truly unique and wonderful. 

Saturday I went to a lecture given my dear friend Millie.  I offered to do some refreshments so I could help in anyway to make her program a success and very special.  Her lecture is on Positive Thinking.  Her program is very informative and deals with something we need to remind ourselves everyday.  Be positive and your world is a better place.  I guess I need to stop saying, "OK, Hag, you woke up so you have another stupid day to get through," to the face I see in the mirror every morning."

For the lecture I tried this new recipe given to me by my dear friend in Maine, Nelda.  Those who have been reading my blog know that any recipe with Nelda's name on it is very special.  This bread or muffin recipe is no exception.  Everyone at the program wanted the recipe for themselves or their wives.

This recipe calls for currants which look like small raisins.  Currants are used a great deal in Dutch baking.  If you can't find them, use raisins.  The golden raisins would be good too.  For another great recipe using currants go to:  http://michigancottagecook.blogspot.com/2010/12/uncle-pats-favorite-currant-cookies.html

I posted before about using unsweetened applesauce for a substitute for oil; however, it is such a good tip, it doesn't hurt to repeat it.

I buy a big jar of unsweetened applesauce.  I put it into a gallon-sized freezer bag.  I seal the bag and carefully press the sauce flat inside the bag.  Because the sauce is frozen in a relatively thin layer I can break off pieces sauce to use without thawing the whole bag.

I break off pieces of my frozen applesauce and put it into a glass measuring cup.  Thaw in microwave.

Add oil to applesauce.

This summer I frozen grated zucchini in one cup bags to use this winter.  When using frozen fruit or zucchini in a bread, muffins, or scone recipe, I add about a tablespoon of extra flour right onto the fruit or zucchini. 

For information about freezing zucchini go to:
When you don't peel the zucchini for a recipe, look for a shiny skin as usually that means the skin is tender.

Like all quick breads, this bread/muffin gets better and better the longer it waits so it is a perfect make-ahead recipe. It also freezes well.

Neither Nelda or I feel that the recipe needs so much sugar. This a muffin/bread recipe not a cake. We reduced the sugar with no problems. I used the pineapple in its own juice.

3 eggs
1 c oil (or half unsweetened applesauce/oil)
2 c sugar, (Nelda and I use 1 1/2 or 1 2/3 c sugar)
2 t vanilla
2 c zucchini, unpeeled and coarsely grated
1 (8oz) can crushed pineapple, well-drained
3 c flour
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t cinnamon
3/4 t nutmeg
1 c walnuts, chopped
1 c dried currants or raisins

Ingredients:  Flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, eggs, oil, vanilla, zucchini, crushed pineapple in its own juice, walnuts, and dried currants.

In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix well.  Add nuts and dried currants to flour mixture.  Mix well.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, put eggs and beat until very frothy.  Add oil (or oil and applesauce), sugar and vanilla.  Beat together until thick and foamy.  If zucchini is frozen and thawed, add an extra tablespoon of flour to the zucchini.  Add zucchini and the pineapple to the egg mixture.  Stir well.  Add flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir gently together just until moistened.  Do not over mix.  Spray muffin pans or loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.  Put batter into prepared pans.  Bake in preheated 350 degree F. oven for 1 hour for 2 (9x5-inch) pans.  For muffin pans, bake 25 to 30 minutes.  For smaller loaf pans, bake for 35 to 40 minutes.  Bread/muffins will be done when a toothpick inserted in center of bread/muffin comes out clean.  Cool on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pans and continue to cool on wire rack.

My dried currants had gotten a little to dry so I poured some boiling water over them and let them drain well.

Drain crushed pineapple well.

Chop walnuts.

Measure dry ingredients into a bowl.

Mix well.

Add walnuts and dried currants to flour mixture.

Mix well. 
Break eggs into a mixing bowl.

Add sugar, oil, and vanilla to eggs.
Beat with electric mixer, until mixture is thick and bubbly.

Add zucchini and pineapple to egg mixture.  Stir to combine ingredients.

Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and gently stir until just combined and flour is just moistened.  Do not over mix.

Batter is ready to be scooped into muffin tins or loaf pans.
Spray pans of your choice with non-stick cooking spray.

Bake in preheated 350 degree F. oven until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Baking times for different pans given in recipe.

Cool baked bread/muffins in pans for 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove from pans and continue cooling on wire rack.

Pineapple Zucchini Muffins.

 Pineapple Zucchini Bread.
Beautiful and delicious.

Serve with softened cream cheese, if desired.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!