homemade raspberry sauce

     A simple sauce can completely elevate ingredients to another culinary level. One of my family's favorite desserts is peach melba. A peach half, scoop of vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. YUM!
     The raspberry sauce can be purchased, but making it is easy to do and often more economical... plus you know exactly what you put into it. It won't have lots of artificial things you can't pronounce or be loaded with sweeteners.
     Another use for this sauce is to serve it alongside a flourless chocolate cake, with a dollop of whipped cream or drizzled over a lemon pound cake. It can also be whisked into your favorite vinaigrette for a fruity salad dressing.
1 pkg frozen raspberries
1/4 c. confectioners' sugar
juice and zest of one lemon
1 jar seedless raspberry jam
Puree raspberries, sugar and lemon juice and zest in food processor. Strain through a fine sieve to remove seeds. Warm jam in microwave. Stir into berry mixture. Set aside to cool then refrigerate until needed.

november: a month of less

     Did you see all of the hoopla surrounding hashtag-thirty-one-days in the month of October? It's all over the blogosphere. Quite a few bloggers are participating. It is all the rage. I even managed to rope a friend into joining the party. I'm thoughtful like that. #31days.
     But what about moi? You can ask some of my childhood friends... I'm not a joiner. I've never been one to do group stuff. (Well, not in a creepy, loner, Unibomber sort of way or anything like that.)
     I don't impulsively enlist right away. I like to think, simmer and ponder. That's a diplomatic and sweet way to say I'm a procrastinator or a wee bit slow.
     You may have noticed the silence on this end... I've been quietly working on a tiny little project. It's not near as grand as #31days. It's November. There's only hashtag-thirty. So, stay tuned. I hope to keep you entertained. And curious.

missing: one food blogger. five foot three, eyes of green...

     Have you wondered lately if I'd been reported missing? Or if I'd abandoned my tiny snippet of the blogosphere for the bright lights of the big... kitchen? Well, never fear! It is I, safe and sort-of sound. I'm still cooking. And eating. And very occasionally posting something new.
     Life is really getting in the way of writing, dog-gone-it! Isn't that funny how that happens? You're minding your own business, blogging quietly away, following your own well thought out plan and WHAM. Out of the blue, you're boldly reminded of how you're not really in charge of anything.
     In the blink of an eye, your sweet little babies grow up and move on with their own lives. They're mean like that.
     Every single one of us is slowly aging, but the stark reality is glaringly clear when observing children and parents. Lately, we've been up to our eyeballs in caring for and planning care for my husband's tiny little mother.  Our furry girls are sorely neglected. The dust bunnies threaten to take over ownership of the homestead.
     When I have a chance to stop and think about it, mentally I still feel as young as I did in school. The mirror says otherwise. I'm moving into the 'Sandwich Generation.' I'm not really fond of it, so far. (It has nothing to do with food.)
     I nostalgically recall the days of being home. Looking back, things seemed simpler... even though I didn't think so at the time. How in the world are we busier today than even ten years ago?
     I was homeschooling the girls. Much time was spent on care and keeping of a house. And preparing family dinner almost every night. Staying home seems to be a theme I'm wishing for. (My new one sounds more like Willie Nelson's song, On The Road, Again.)
     In one instance, the knowledge of how powerless I am is liberating. On the other hand, it leaves much room for change. Faith, adaptability, optimism and a general bendi-ness of spirit are my God-given strengths. Thank goodness! It looks like I'm really going to need them.
     Bring it on, life. God's got this... And me.

Psalm 139
"1 O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am;
2 You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again.
Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking.
3 You observe my wanderings and my sleeping, my waking and my dreaming,
and You know everything I do in more detail than even I know.
4 You know what I’m going to say long before I say it.
It is true, Eternal One, that You know everything and everyone.
5 You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me,
and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder.
6 It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out;
the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it.
7 Can I go anywhere apart from Your Spirit?
Is there anywhere I can go to escape Your watchful presence?

13 For You shaped me, inside and out.
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath.
14 I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.
You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;
Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.
15 You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You
As I took shape in secret,
carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb.
16 You see all things; You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb;
Every detail of my life was already written in Your book;
You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it.

17 Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them!
How grand in scope! How many in number!
18 If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. 
Their number is inconceivable!" 
(The Voice version)

low-fat pumpkin apple muffins

     If you've left your house or simply trolled the pages of sites like Pinterest or Tastespotting recently, you've probably observed the same thing I have. The world is covered in pumpkin-flavored everything right now! 
     From a recipe recreating the popular Pumpkin-Spice Latte, (PSL) to pumpkin bread, cookies, soup and even gnocchi, pumpkin-y goodness boldly proclaims the season change. 
     My youngest daughter called on her way home from an evening class last week and said, "You know what I'm in the mood for? Your pumpkin apple muffins. They make me feel like Autumn." Well, I can't argue with that! So, I'm whipping up a batch for my girlie, the lone chickadee left in our nest.
     The house smells amazing... I'm tempted to build a fire and don a sweater.... but maybe not. Even though the calendar reads Fall, here in Coastal Georgia we're hanging onto the last remnants of summer heat.
     These muffins are simple to throw together. Cutting up the apples takes longer than any other part of the prep. And even that isn't too awful long.
     The original recipe contained even more sugar and quite a bit of oil. Since I'm trying to win the battle over my own personal muffin-top, I lightened them up by substituting the same quantity of applesauce for vegetable oil. On the Weight Watchers' plan each muffin is 3 points.
     If you double the recipe, you will use one entire can of pumpkin and won't have any left over. A double recipe makes 3 dozen muffins or more, depending on your own pans. These freeze well, but are also great to share with neighbors, teachers and friends.
2 ½ c. soft, all-purpose whole wheat flour (not whole wheat bread flour)
1 ½ c. brown sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. canned pumpkin
½ c. unsweetened applesauce
2 1/2 c. finely chopped, unpeeled apples (I used around 5 small ones)
2 T. raw Pepitas, (pumpkin seeds) for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray 2- 12 count muffin tins or use paper liners. Cut up apples.
Blend together dry ingredients. Whisk eggs, pumpkin and applesauce. Add to dry ingredients. Mix well with fork. Add apples. Mix until incorporated. Batter is very stiff. (The first time I made these, I considered adding liquid. It doesn't need any.)
see how stiff the batter is?
Spoon into greased muffin cups. I used a regular tablespoon, the kind you eat soup with. I heaped up the batter. It filled the muffin cup nicely. Top each muffin with a few raw Pepitas.
Bake @ 400 degrees for 20- 25 min. for regular sized muffins. Makes between 18 and 24 muffins, depending on size of your muffin tin.
ready to go into the oven
      Whip them up the night before to hand to your departing family as they rush out the door in the morning. So, get out that mixing bowl and get your bake on... It's pumpkin time! Happy Fall, y'all!