Pumpkin Pie and Pancakes

The other day at the store my family spotted pie pumpkins. We just had the discussion a few days prior about how pumpkin pie is made from pie pumpkins and not the ones you carve. So when they all saw the pie pumpkins, I heard three voices begging “make pie!”. Of course I had no choice but to do as the family wanted.

I don’t know how, but we always have a perfect amount for 2 pies and a round of pumpkin pancakes. In between soccer games, school work, and remodeling the kitchen I managed to get the pie pumpkin cooked and at least tossed in the fridge for later. I may end up doing this all the time, since it was a lot easier to work with cold.

The Pie Pumpkin Recipes

If you’ve been an Idea Queen reader for awhile you may have seen these recipes scattered about. Since they are my favorites and work so well together, I have to mention them again.

Cooking Pie Pumpkin

Wash and cut a pie pumpkin in half, crosswise. Remove seeds and strings. Place in baking pan face down, shell up, in 1/2″ water. Bake in a 325* F oven for 1 hour or more, until tender. Scrape the pulp from the shell and put in through a ricer or strainer (optional – we never strainer our pumpkin pulp and it’s always made some fantastic pies and pancakes!).

Fresh Pumpkin Pie Recipe

3 cups cooked pumpkin
4 eggs beaten
1 1/4 white sugar
1/2 cut brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice (or nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon cloves
12oz can evaporated milk
2 pastry shells (we use graham cracker crust)

Mix together with a hand blender until creamy and smooth. Pour into pastry shells and bake in a 400* F oven until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (approx 45 mins).

Pumpkin Pancake Recipe

2 c Bisquick
2 Tbs Brown Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon
2 Eggs
1 (120z) can Evaporated Milk
1/2 c Pumpkin
2 Tbs Vegetable Oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Mix together Bisquick, brown sugar, and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix togethr eggs, milk, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla. Use hand mixer to make sure you get a smooth blend.Stir in dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto a lightly greased hot griddle (or pan, if you need to). Turn when bubbles form on top of pancake.

Last night we did a pumpkin dinner night, where we had just pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin pie. The kids thought it was a real treat and we had a blast making it! Today we’ll be using the seeds to make some yummy pumpkin seed snacks.

If you have any fantastic pumpkin recipes that use fresh pumpkin, please be sure to leave a comment!

Should I Buy a Kindle?

I’ve been wanting one of these little buggers for years. Ever since the big release I’ve been drooling over the Kindle and debating if I should buy one or not. Since my significant other just purchased a tablet, the “want” has grown. I’m just not sure if it’s quite a “need” just yet.


Pros to buying a Kindle

1. School Textbooks
I’ve recently discovered many of my textbooks for school are available in Kindle version. The latest cost a whole $9.99 which I did buy the Kindle version of, so that my book is always on my desktop and netbook. No dragging it around! Although I do have to drag around my netbook still if I want the book to go anywhere.

2. Lending Capabilities
My best friend and I have a history of swapping used paperbacks. I happen to know she has a Kindle, so it would be super easy for us to swap books back and forth without even leaving the house.

3. Easy to Use
I’ve played with a few of them in the store and found them so super easy to use. I think even my techno-challenged mother could use one without problems or without internet (IF she had the 3G version). Which would make it super easy for three of us to swap books amongst eachother.

4. E-Ink
I love my netbook, I really do, but it’s so hard to read the screen when outside. Since my other half drives most of the time, I’m free to do homework or reading in the car. Kindle would be a HUGE help in this area and actually allow me to see the screen. My original thought of the e-ink was it looked so uninteresting and basic, but now I’m starting to realise it’s purpose. It doesn’t suck the battery and is SUPER easy to read anywhere anytime.

5. Better Battery Life
I never stopped to check the battery life before, but when I finally did, my jaw hit the floor. The basic Kindles have a battery life measured in weeks and months instead of hours. Amazon has them quoted as lasting 2 months so even if they only last half the time quoted, that’s still a whole month. My netbook’s battey life was originally about 7 hours but is not down to about 4 hours, depending on what I’m doing. Again, Kindle has AMAZING battery life.

Cons of the Kindle

1. Limited Use
Despite all the pros, it’s still only for reading various materials. I can’t type essays or blog posts on the go like I can with my netbook. Granted it may be difficult in some areas to do these tasks with my netbook, but it is possible. Not the Kindle though – it’s only for books, blogs, magazines and newspapers.

2. Kindle for PC
I think it was smart for Amazon to make the move to PC, but it makes the Kindles look slightly less desirable. Granted the PC versions do not have the imfamous “e-ink”, yet you are still able to read Kindle books with them.  This is actually the reason I bought my netbook last summer – because I could view Kindle books on the go.

3. Price
This may not be a con for  most people. I’m on the fence right now as to if the $100+ for just the basic Kindle is worth the cost for no more than I’d used it. As stated before, I own a netbook that has about half the capabilities of a Kindle. Is the extra cost worth the benefits the netbook doesn’t have? I’m really not sure. It appears this post will have a part two as I compare Kindles and netbooks.

Final Note

Even though I’m still on the fence about Kindles, I do know the rival Nook isn’t something I’m interested in. I spotted them at a Barns & Nobels and asked if I could view Kindle books on it. I was told by the sales employee “not legally, but they do have programs to convert Kindle books so you can”. Ummmm…no. That’s rediculous to spend the extra time to strip out Kindle formatting when I could just buy the Kindle in the first place. Not when I currently have a small library of Kindle books and plan to buy more textbooks for school from Amazon.  And honestly, I believe Nook may be more like a limited tablet than anything, but I could be wrong.

If you own an e-reader of any kind, I would LOVE to hear opinions!

Two Easy Casserole Recipes

A visitor dropped off these two yummy looking recipes some time ago, but I’m just now getting around to posting them. I haven’t tried either yet, but the hashbrown casserole looks FANTASTIC and we plan to make it soon.

Pork Chop Casserole

4 Pork Chops, browned
1 Box Brocoili and Cheese Rice-a-Roni, cooked as directed on box

Place browned pork chops with juices in bottom of casserole dish, then cover with the rice-a-roni mixture and top with cheese. If mixture is to thick, add a little broth. Bake at 350 till chop are fully cooked. (I’m assuming at least 40 minutes or so, depending on the size of the chops)


Hasbrown Casserole

1 Bag Shredded Hash Browns
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 cups Shredded Cheese
1/2 cup Milk
2 tbsp. Butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix together and place in casserole dish. Bake at 350 until potatoes are done.


Thank you Kacie for the fantastic recipes!

3 Easy Taco Meal Ideas

Tacos are a regular menu item in my house. Doesn’t matter what the day, the kids are constantly requesting something resembling tacos. Being the creative type who doesn’t much care to cook the same thing every night, I’ve had to come up with some alternatives to “just tacos”.

1. Walking Tacos
This has quickly become a favorite around here. Replace taco shells with Doritos, and you’ve got yourself a walking taco.

2. Baked Tacos Cups
Grease a muffin pan with cooking spray, then arrange flour taco shells in the pan. Spray shells with butter-flavor cooking spray (this makes them crunchy). Fill with taco meat and cheese, and bake at 375* for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and taco shells are crispy. We top our’s with sour cream and home-grown tomatoes, although other taco toppings can be used as well.

3. Chimichangas
These are the same as the baked taco cups, but minus the muffin pan. Fill a flour taco shell with cooked taco meat and shredded cheese, place on a pan and bake at 375* for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remember to spray with a butter-flavored cooking spray so the taco shells are crispy. Top with sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, or other favorite taco toppings.

Other ideas include taco salads, taco soup, or casseroles. These we don’t use as often, since we aren’t big lettuce eatters. Plus, we like to keep our meals simple. When in a rush, regular tacos or walking tacos are the easiest, but once in awhile a change is needed and we fire up the oven.