Being Mrs. Pierce

Life as a wife, hiker, wanna-be chef, book-lover, traveler, and now, mom

Slow Cooker Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili January 11, 2015

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 8:56 PM
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While looking for slow cooker recipes for my 2015 Cooking Challenge, this Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili on the Skinnytaste blog first caught my eye because of the pumpkin among the ingredients.  I am a BIG pumpkin fan.  Then seeing that the recipe called for 2 lbs of ground turkey, I was sold. I’ve had 4 lbs of ground turkey (don’t ask me why) in my freezer needing cooked.  This would cut that number in half.


I prepped the chili this morning and left it to cook on low while we went to my in-laws’ house for the Cowboys game. Typically I avoid slow cooker recipes that require ingredients to be pre-cooked on the stove, as that seems counterproductive to the point of using a slow cooker — hands-off cooking with only one dirty dish at the end.  Yet browning the meat and sautéing the onions for this recipe wasn’t too much of a pain.


I purposely avoided telling my husband that there was pumpkin in the chili–especially after the Cowboys lost this afternoon. While John will eat and even enjoy pumpkin-based treats, they are more of the Starbucks or baked-good variety. He’s definitely not as enthusiastic (okay, obsessed) about pumpkin as I am.  I hoped that the chili would be so delicious that he wouldn’t care what its ingredients were.


Sadly, this was not the case. The chili was bland, bland, bland. I added salt. I added chili powder. I added more chili powder. The chili was still bland. It also was thick — nothing like the picture on the blog. I stirred in more chicken broth and sprinkled some cilantro on top. It was the best I could do. John and I both gave it 2 stars. We’ll eat the leftovers so as not to be wasteful, but I will not be looking forward to those dinners very much.


I now have 3 slow cooker recipes made towards my January slow cooker challenge.  The Balsamic Pork Tenderloin remains solidly in the lead!


Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake (New Recipe #103) December 23, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 9:49 AM
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Two weekends ago DFW was hit with a winter storm that left the roads covered in ice. My school district canceled classes that Friday and Monday, so I found myself with an unexpected four-day weekend at home. In the past, I probably would have spent most of that time reading, but my inner chef is calling loud and clear these days. As a result, I fiddled the hours away each day in the kitchen. On that Saturday morning, I tried out the Hungry Girl’s Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake for breakfast. A well-documented fan of pumpkin, I was eager to try this light –and pumpkiny — version of coffee cake.


For the white sugar, I followed the Hungry Girl’s alternative suggestion, which calls for Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated) instead of regular sugar. Using Splenda lowers the PointsPlus value of each serving from 4 to 3. While I enjoy the PointsPlus benefit of Splenda, I remain conflicted about baking with and consuming it. I am attempting to eat more natural, less processed foods, so the use of Splenda is in direct contrast with that goal. Yet six years of WeightWatchers habits are hard to break, and I want to maintain my current waistline. The final outcome of the sugar vs. Splenda war remains, therefore, TBD.


I removed the coffee cake 35 minutes after I placed it in the oven, and it passed the toothpick test. I did not feel the need to bake it any longer, even though the recipe calls for a 45-minute baking time. The breakfast treat made my house smell like fall as it cooked and cooled; it created the perfect blend of cinnamon and spice in the air. When it was finally time to try a piece, I was pleased at the taste and texture. The crumb topping is a definite plus; it added a pleasant crunch to the sweet and moist cake underneath. John and I both granted it 3 stars.


Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

Crumb Topping
¼ cup Fiber One Original bran cereal
3 TB old-fashioned oats
3 TB brown sugar (not packed)
2 TB granulated white sugar (or Splenda No Calorie Sweetener, granulated)
½ tsp cinnamon
2 TB light whipped butter or light buttery spread

1 cup whole-wheat flour (I used whole-wheat pastry flour)
½ cup granulated white sugar (or Splenda No Calorie Sweetener, granulated)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup canned pure pumpkin
½ cup fat-free liquid egg substitute
½ cup club soda
1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8″ X 8″ baking pan with nonstick spray.

2.  To make the crumb topping, place cereal in a sealable plastic bag. Seal bag, and finely crush cereal with a meat mallet or other heavy utensil. Transfer crumbs to a medium bowl. Add all other topping ingredients to the bowl except butter, and mix well. Add butter, and mash and stir until uniform.

3.  To make the cake, in a large bowl, combine whole-wheat flour, sugar, all-purpose flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Whisk thoroughly.

4.  In a medium-large bowl, combine pumpkin, egg substitute, club soda, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Whisk until uniform. Add mixture to the large bowl, and whisk until uniform.

5.  Pour cake batter into the baking pan. Sprinkle with crumb topping.

6.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

7.  Let cool for 30 minutes. Slice into squares, and eat!

Yield: 9 servings. Per serving, 4 PointsPlus (or 3 PointsPlus when using Splenda in place of granulated white sugar).


Pumpkin Bread (New Recipe #98) December 7, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 6:05 PM
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Without realizing it, I have apparently embarked upon a quest to make every pumpkin recipe that crosses my path. Just when I think that I have satisfied my pumpkin-baking urge for the year, I come across a new recipe and before I know it, I am in the kitchen making it. Such was the case with the Hungry Girl’s Perfect Pumpkin Bread.


For the dried fruit, I picked raisins over cranberries since I had very recently made the Cranberry Pumpkin Bars. I plumped my raisins before stirring them into the batter. The rest of the recipe I made according to the directions, although my bread needed only 40 minutes in the oven rather than 50.


Unfortunately, the Perfect Pumpkin Bread did not turn out so perfectly.  The taste of the bread was very disappointing — rather blah and barely sweet.  On the positive side, each serving of this bread was a generously-sized slice.  However, the large portion size was not enough to make up for the lack of taste; this bread earned only 2 stars.  I do not expect that I will make this recipe again.


Perfect Pumpkin Bread

1¼ cups whole-wheat flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)
¼ cup brown sugar (not packed)
2¼ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1/3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
One 15-oz. can pure pumpkin
½ cup fat-free liquid egg substitute
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup sweetened dried cranberries or raisins, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, mix both types of flour, Splenda, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

3. In another large bowl, whisk pumpkin, egg substitute, and vanilla extract. Add this mixture to the large bowl and stir until just blended.

4. Stir in chopped cranberries or raisins. Transfer batter to the loaf pan and smooth out the surface. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

Yield: 8 servings. Per serving, 4 PointsPlus.


Cranberry Pumpkin Bars (New Recipe #86) November 17, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 9:56 AM
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Continuing on my pumpkin kick of late, one evening last week I made up a batch of Cranberry Pumpkin Bars. I found the recipe on, and after the success of the WeightWatchers Pumpkin Oat Bread, I was eager to try these bars.


I made one small deviation from the recipe, using 1 cup all-purpose flour and ¼ cup whole-wheat pastry flour instead of just all-purpose flour. A little whole grain thrown in is never a bad idea, in my opinion!


The bars turned out more cake-like than their name implies. In fact, I kept referring to the leftovers as “Cranberry Pumpkin Bread.” The first evening I tried these, they were good but not anything too special, earning 3 stars. But the second day, they had become much more moist and I had to up their rating to 3.5 stars. They make for a great autumn dessert to serve alongside after-dinner coffee or hot tea, but they are also good at breakfast or for a snack during the day.


Cranberry Pumpkin Bars

1 cup packed light brown sugar
4 TB reduced-calorie margarine, soft, at room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/3 cup buttermilk
1¼ cups all purpose flour
1½ cups uncooked old fashioned oats
1 TB pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp table salt
2/3 cup dried cranberries

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray, then dust lightly with flour.

2. In a large bowl, cream sugar and margarine with an electric mixer; beat in egg, egg white, pumpkin, and buttermilk.

3. In medium bowl, combine flour, oats, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Stir into pumpkin mixture just until moistened, then add cranberries and mix gently.

4. Spread batter in pan and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until center springs back when gently pressed. Cool and cut into 18 bars.

Yield: 18 servings. Per serving, 4 PointsPlus.


Pumpkin Oat Bread (New Recipe #85) November 12, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 10:03 PM
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Each fall, pumpkin seems to take over the grocery stores, coffee shops, and restaurants just a little bit more than the year before. While I normally would roll my eyes at such a runaway trend, I have to grant an exception for pumpkin. I eat a ridiculous amount of pumpkin treats throughout October and November, and e-mail alerts with the word “pumpkin” in them set my heart to racing. One such e-mail from WeightWatchers a few weeks ago had not one but SIX pumpkin recipes! My printer got a workout that day as I immediately perused and printed every single one. The first of the recipes I tried was this Pumpkin Oat Bread. The online reviews were promising, and I was wanting a baked treat to send to work with John for his UIL Lit Crit team meeting.


I made two slight alterations to the recipe. Instead of the walnut halves, I sprinkled finely chopped walnuts across the top of the entire pan. And I only had 1 can of pumpkin on hand, which is a little shy of 2 cups, so I added a little bit of unsweetened applesauce to make up the difference.


Upon my first bite, I knew this recipe was a keeper. The bread was incredibly moist, and it did not taste like a diet-friendly recipe thanks to the inclusion of regular butter in the ingredients list. Both John and I rated the recipe a strong 4 stars! The bread works as a dessert, an afternoon snack, and a breakfast baked good. I will be making this Pumpkin Oat Bread at least once every fall, even when the pumpkin trend has fallen away and I have to dig to the back of the grocery shelves to find a can of pumpkin.


Pumpkin Oat Bread

1 spray cooking spray, flour-variety recommended
½ cup regular butter, softened
1½ cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups canned pumpkin
¼ tsp table salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or more to taste
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups uncooked quick oats
2½ tsp baking soda
24 half walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 10- X 15-inch baking dish with cooking spray. (I used a 9 X 13.)

2. Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and pumpkin; beat well. Add salt, pumpkin pie spice, flour, oats, and baking soda; mix thoroughly. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and place walnut halves on top so there will be 1 walnut in the center of each piece of cake. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes.

3. Cool in pan and cut into 24 pieces.

Yield: 24 servings. Per serving, 4 PointsPlus.


Pumpkin Bread Pudding (New Recipe #84) November 9, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 12:41 PM
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In my last post, I expounded on the joys of bread pudding.  It is no surprise, therefore, that when I received the Hungry Girl’s recent e-mail with a recipe for pumpkin bread pudding, I immediately made plans to try it.  Bread pudding AND pumpkin?  TWO of my ultimate food pleasures all in one?  I had to get to baking.


Similarly to the Hungry Girl’s breakfast bread pudding bowl, this dessert recipe is a diet one–light this, fat-free that–but it is also low Points as a result.


As the bread pudding baked in the oven, it filled the kitchen with the warm, spicy aroma that I can never get too much of in the fall. I served it warm, topped with light vanilla ice cream. I was especially glad for the ice cream upon discovering that the bread pudding itself was not very sweet. The pumpkin, however, was just right–flavorful but not overpowering.  John wondered if the bread pudding would not be a good breakfast recipe, topped with maple syrup rather than ice cream.  We never tried it, but I just may next time.  As is, the recipe earned 3 stars from John and me. With non-light bread and more sugar, the recipe would definitely earn higher stars.  Too bad that means it would have a higher Points value, too!


Perfect Pumpkin Bread Pudding

12 slices light bread
¼ cup light whipped butter or light buttery spread
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute
¾ cup light vanilla soymilk (I used unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze)
¼ cup plus 2 TB brown sugar (not packed)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8″ X 8″ baking pan with nonstick spray.

2. Lightly toast bread, and cut into bite-sized pieces.

3. In a large microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter for 30 seconds, or until melted.

4. Add bread pieces to the bowl, and toss to coat.

5. In another large bowl, combine remaining ingredients except 2 TB brown sugar, and whisk until uniform. Add mixture to the bowl of buttered bread, and stir to coat.

6. Transfer mixture to the baking pan. Evenly top with remaining 2 TB brown sugar.

7. Bake until firm and set, 40 – 45 minutes. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings. Per serving, 5 PointsPlus.