Sweet Potato Pumpkins – a Vintage Recipe from a Blogger Before Her Time

I recently picked up another vintage cookbook at a thrift store, and it quite possibly has been my most favorite thrift store purchase of all time. Of all time, people. That’s saying something because, ahem, I’ve bought a lot of stuff at thrift stores.

A Blogger Born Before Her Time

It’s my most favorite thrift store purchase not because of the awesome recipes I found in it (although there are definitely more recipes and ideas I want to try) but because I felt a certain kinship with the author, an Ann Batchelder who was the food editor for Ladies’ Home Journal during the forties. Now, I am not and never will be a magazine food editor (although it sounds like fun!), so that’s not where the kinship comes in.

No, the kinship I felt came from the sensation as I read her cookbook (which truly is a cookbook you read, not just flip through or skip to the index) that I was reading a blog. I could not escape the feeling that Ann Batchelder was a blogger born before her time; her quirky dry humor combined with creative ideas and tips, not to mention the occasional poetic prose about topics having absolutely nothing to do with food or cooking, all combined to create the effect of a modern blogger. Seriously, if it weren’t for the occasional mention of outdated tools, ingredients, or methods, I would have thought I’d picked up a cookbook written by a blogger, not a food editor from the glamor era.

A 1940’s “Blogger’s” Thoughts on Thanksgiving

A few sample tidbits so you can see what I mean:

She begins her Thanksgiving Menu portion with thoughts on the traditions of Thanksgiving Day, as well as a few choice comments about the guest of honor: ” From some remote date, turkey has always been the Thanksgiving feast bird. If you can’t have turkey you may have ham or chicken or roast pig, but whatever it is that takes the turkey’s place on your table, have it in the spirit* of turkey. For that spirit is a very emanation of Thanksgiving Day itself!”

*I did not italicize. She did. Told ya she was a blogger.

She finishes up her Thanksgiving Menu with these thoughts: “Have a good Thanksgiving. Whether it be simple or “simply colossal” as they say, have a happy day. It’s always well to remember that things around this world might be worse, and that we’ve got as far as we have, so it’s perfectly possible that we shall make the next grade – if we keep going. And for one thing let us be extra thankful. Thankful for Thanksgiving Day. And so all together now, ‘Come ye thankful people come, raise the song of harvest home.’ Will someone please take the organ?”

When was the last time you read that in a dull ol’ cookbook?

One more thought on Thanksgiving from Ann: “Celebrated according to their means and light by the old New England families. Celebrated as a tradition handed down from the time the Pilgrim mothers did their stuff (ha!*) with the wild turkey and the woodland herbs, it became under Sarah [Hale]’s lively interest and persistence, a national holiday. And President Lincoln yielded to the Hale persuasiveness and sent out the proclamation which secured to this Pilgrim tradition perpetuation and a place in the sun. So now we are nearing what to my mind is the best holiday of all – Thanksgiving.”

*I added the “ha!”. In case you couldn’t tell.

A Vintage Recipe from a Vintage Blogger: Sweet Potato Pumpkins

One of the things about Ann Batchelder that tells me she would be a mega blogger if she “did her stuff” in today’s world is that she has such creative ideas. (Not to mention that if the photographs were in color they’d be totally gorgeous and perfect for Pinterest. Yes, I know she had a whole team of food stylists and photographers, but still.) For each holiday, she created an entire menu filled with both traditional food items, new twists on old things, plus a few ideas just for fun. The kinds of things that people pin on Pinterest, kwim? 

One of those ideas leaped off the page at me and I determined that I had to make them for Thanksgiving: Sweet Potato Pumpkins. As you can see in the photo above, her instructions were rather vague, which is normal for vintage cookbooks (which assume that the average reader already knows how to cook). I was OK up until the point where she said “Shape the sweet potatoes into small pumpkins”. That’s where the blogger comparison totally falls apart. I mean, hello, where were the tutorials with step by step pictures?! And the links to where I can buy the tools on Amazon?!

Well, I’m not a perfect blogger, so sadly, I myself have no step-by-step pictorial tutorial for you today. However, I did my best at creating sweet potato pumpkins according to her recipe, and they turned out pretty cute if I do say so myself! So I can share with you in slightly more detail than Ms. Batchelder and you can try it for yourself this week.

Note: Next time I might experiment with adding some type of flour (maybe coconut flour?) to the mixture to see if it firms up a little more so as to make slightly smoother, firmer pumpkins. I’ll let you know how it goes!

So there you go – a cute little vintage (but not) recipe for this Thanksgiving!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan and Stuff {Secret Recipe Club}

Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan I love broccoli. I mean, I looooovvvveee broccoli. Steam it, drown it in butter, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and MMMMmmmmMMMM! That’s pretty much as close to heavenly as a vegetable can get. 

So I was super excited (probably more than one should be regarding cruciferous vegetables) to see that my Secret Recipe Club assignment for the month, Life of a Modern Housewife, had a delicious recipe for broccoli! Um, yes, please! Heavenly vegetables? How could I resist!

If you, too, like roasted vegetables, The Modern Housewife has a great roasted carrots recipe as well. I absolutely love Chinese dumplings, so I’m definitely going to be trying her Steamed Chinese Dumplings recipe because she makes it look awfully easy (and way cute). If you’re more into desserts, try her Lemon Meringue Cupcake!

But back to the broccoli. What I love about this recipe is that it’s a sprinkle-this-and-drizzle-that kind of recipe. Totally my favorite way to cook! Honestly, there are so many recipes I come up with at home that I never blog about because I never take the time to sit down and measure them, and I know you all get tired of my ambiguous directions. But really, this recipe is so simple, and you can start with a whole pile of broccoli, or just a handful, and go from there with a sprinkle and a drizzle. I will say – for the inquiring minds that want to know – that I had a little less than a pound of broccoli florets, and I used 2 cloves of garlic. Other than that it was seriously just drizzling and sprinkling.

If you’d like to give the Secret Recipe Club a try, you can apply to join here.

An Easy Pasta Side Dish {Secret Recipe Club}

“Grumpy’s Honeybunch” , aka Shelby, writes about her life and the people she loves, and those subjects often revolve around food. Her extensive collection of recipes includes quite a few that caught my eye, including Sour Cream & Chive Potato Bites, Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts, and her Mom’s Cheese Ball (I love family recipes!).

I was in need of a simple side dish for dinner and was thinking that pasta would work nicely, so I decided to make her Pasta with Garlic and Oil, originally by Mark Bittman, one of my faves. Whenever I typically make a simple pasta side dish, I just drizzle it with olive oil and add a few herbs, but adding the garlic takes it to a new level of deliciousness that’s elegant enough for guests yet retains its simplicity. I took out the chili peppers because we don’t eat those around here, but I kept with her idea of basil because I love basil! I wish I hadmore  fresh basil on hand, because nothing beats fresh basil, but I supplemented my little bit of (frozen) fresh basil with some dried. It was still delicious, but the fresh basil would take it over the top!

Secret Recipe Club

The Secret Recipe Club is a great way to find new blogs and bloggy friends… and of course, some pretty awesome recipes! Find out how to join here.

Super Simple Spicy Black Beans {Secret Recipe Club}

Super Simple Spicy Black Beans at Authentic Simplicity

So you know I’ve been such a good girl lately, almost completely eliminating sugar from my diet (or attempting to) and significantly reducing my consumption of refined carbs. And then what blog was I assigned for November’s edition of The Secret Recipe Club? Sweet as Sugar Cookies, of course!
Secret Recipe Club
If you haven’t visited Sweet as Sugar Cookies, then you’re in for a treat. Literally. If your sweet tooth is as powerful as mine, you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store with all the delightful desserts Lisa offers up: Honey Ginger Chai Bars, Lime and Coconut Crumble Bars, and Pumpkin Spice Thumbprints, to name just a few.

Oddly enough, though, I settled for a savory recipe, probably because I was feeling the effects of indulging in way too much sugar at Allume and afterwards and needed to balance all that with a little bit of healthiness. Since I had some black beans in the pantry, I chose to make her Spicy Black Beans, which was actually from a Secret Recipe Club event a year and a half ago.

What I love about this recipe is its simplicity. (You might not know this about me, but I like things to be simple. And authentic.) Just dump everything in the pot and simmer for a few minutes, then done! That’s my kinda cookin’, friend!

I will say this: I highly recommend you get in the habit of cooking up dry beans in the crock pot and freezing them so that you always have cooked beans on hand when you need them for a recipe. It’s the simplicity of canned beans without sacrificing the authenticity of the “real thing” (not that canned beans are terrible; but dried beans are definitely better).

Super Simple Spicy Black Beans

Find out how you can join the Secret Recipe Club, too, and partake in all the fun (not to mention the good eatin’!). And be sure to check out all the other bloggers’ delicious takes on their secret bloggy spy mission by browsing through the links below.

How to Cook Any Whole Grain {Get Healthy & Fit, Week 6}

Welcome back to the Get Healthy & Fit series here at Authentic Simplicity! Joining me are 18 other bloggers, all desirous of improving their health and raising their level of fitness. We each have a different goal in mind and a different plan to reach that goal; and you can follow each blogger’s progress here. Follow along on Twitter and Pinterest as well!

I discussed my personal goals at length the first week, but to sum up, this is what I’m hoping to do in the course of these 12 weeks:

  • Kick my sugar habit
  • Lose approximately 10 lbs. and a few inches
  • Fit in my clothes
  • Develop sustainable habits like eating more proteins and fewer carbs

Although I’m going low-carb, I’m not eliminating carbs entirely. Instead, I’m almost completely eliminating sugar from my diet (replacing it largely with stevia), and focusing on the healthiest carbohydrates possible. To that end, when it comes to grains, I am trying to minimize the amount of flour (any kind) I consume, and instead eating the grain in its entirety.

This is kind of new territory for me, to be perfectly honest. I’m familiar with whole-grain flours, but eating the actual grain whole is another matter altogether. I’m finding, though, that there are delicious ways to enjoy whole grains at any meal, and that cooking whole grains is a lot easier than it seems. 

How to Cook Whole Grains Quickly and Easily

Most people cook rice and other grains in a 1:2 or 1:3 (depending on the grain) grain-to-water ratio. Rice, for example. The recipe on a package of brown rice generally suggests cooking 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of water. The problem with this is that depending on a lot of different factors, some of them beyond your control, the water will cook off or absorb more quickly than the rice does. Or, alternatively, the rice will be done before all the water is absorbed, and you’re left with mushy rice. Neither scenario is appreciated during the dinner rush hour!

Furthermore, this process takes at least 40 minutes, and the same is true for almost any grain. Although I try to keep ahead of the game and have an extra batch of rice (or other grain) cooked up in the freezer, it still takes forever to cook grains with this method.

Here’s where I owe a huge thanks to my readers! When I posted about my method of cooking rice a while back, I asked my readers for their favorite method of cooking rice, and I got some great responses. A couple people mentioned a method I had never heard of, and it intrigued me so much I had to give it a try. It worked so well that now I typically cook my rice in such a way, and I also cook all other whole grains in the same fashion.

What I love about this method is that it takes less time than the more common method. I don’t know the science of how all that works, but I know it’s true! You can easily cook a grain in half the time by following this simple method. 

Oh, you want to know what the method is? I guess I shouldn’t make you wait any longer, huh? 

How to Cook Any Whole Grain

Cook It Like Pasta

Honestly, I can sum up the instructions in one simple phrase: cook it like pasta. Fill a big ole pot with water, and bring it to a boil. Add your grains, leave the lid off, and let it boil away until the grain is tender.

That’s it. It typically takes about 20 minutes, sometimes a little more (only when I’m in a hurry, of course!), depending on the grain and other factors.

But if you need more specific instructions, here ya go:

Once your grain is cooked, you can do whatever you want with it! You can turn it into a dish for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, limited only by your imagination. If you’re not familiar with cooking with whole grains as an ingredient, just imagine that every grain is rice, and then fix it like you would rice. Nine times out of ten, it will work just as well.

But if you need more inspiration, I will be sharing with you some ideas for preparing whole grains next week! Be sure to subscribe if you aren’t already, so you can get that post delivered to your inbox or reader.

This Week’s Update

Woot! The numbers on the scale continue to go down! Little by little! The other measurements, unfortunately, are progressing at an agonizingly slow pace. I am thankful that at least they continue to trend downward for the most part.

Here are my current stats that I will update every Monday:

Weight: 133.6 (3 lbs total weight loss so far!)

Waist (inches): 29-30

Butt: 39-40

Find out how the other ladies are doing with their weight loss efforts and other goals by clicking on the image below.

How do you cook whole grains?

Read more inspiring and informative posts at these link-ups: Motivation Monday, Mom’s Monday Mingle, Homestead Barn Hop, The Bulletin Board, Better Mom Mondays, Natural Living MondayTip Me TuesdayTrivium TuesdayMom’s LibraryTitus 2sdayTeach me TuesdayHip Homeschool HopTitus 2 TuesdayDelicious DishesOpen Call TuesdayTiny Tip TuesdayHealthy 2Day WednesdayFrugal Days Sustainable WaysWorks for me WednesdayWomen Living Well WednesdayReal Food WednesdayWhole Foods Wednesday,Allergen-Free WednesdayEncourage One AnotherLife in BloomThought-Provoking ThursdaySimple Lives Thursday, Homemaking Link-UpTastetastic ThursdayKeep it Real ThursdayFrugal Thursday RewindHomeschooling on the CheapFellowship FridayFight Back FridayFeast in Fellowship FridayFrugal FridayI’m Lovin’ ItWeekend Bloggy ReadingSnacktime SaturdayShow & Share SaturdayWeekend Whatever,

Red White and Blue Fruit Salad

Red White and Blue Fruit Salad #fourthofjuly #celebrationThis recipe is not late for Memorial Day. Nope. It’s right on time for Flag Day, and a little early for Independence Day. I’ve got you covered for your summer patriotic celebrations. (And you can use it for Memorial Day next year, too.) 

A QUICK and EASY side dish for any summer celebration!

CHEAP when watermelons and blueberries are in season.

And so HEALTHY: watermelon has more lycopene than tomatoes, did you know that? That gorgeous red color means something healthy’s going on! And let’s not forget the antioxidant power of blueberries, and the healthy fats and fiber from the coconut.


Perfect Brown Rice… Every Time!

perfect rice

It’s no secret that rice and I never got along very well. It’s kind of a love-hate relationship: I love that it is cheap and healthy (at least brown rice is), but I hate that it can be so stinkin’ temperamental when it comes to cooking! It never seemed to want to behave when I cooked it, always turning out either crunchy or mushy.

I do believe I’ve conquered the beastly grain, though. I have learned the secret to rice perfection. Every time.

And no, it isn’t a rice cooker. I wish! I do not have space for a rice cooker in my apartment, nor the funds to purchase one at the moment.

Nope. The secret is this: cook it in large batches. 

That’s it! Nothing fancy or earth-shattering, just a simple solution for a common problem. Love it when that happens.

I won’t even pretend to tell you exactly how or why it works better to cook rice in bulk, but it just does. Trust me; I know! For at least a decade now, I have alternately over- or under- cooked rice, and I’ve tried pretty much every trick in the book. It wasn’t until I started cooking it in large batches that I began to consistently churn out perfectly cooked rice – fluffy and just a tad chewy,  no mush, no crisp. 

I like to buy and cook 2 lbs at a time, but I’ve good success with 1lb bags as well. The left-over rice that you’re not going to use freezes up beautifully and can be used in casseroles, rice pudding, fried rice, soup, or even a quick pilaf.

Cooking 2 pounds of rice at a time is just as QUICK as cooking 1 cup of rice. Somehow it even seems quicker, but I’m not sure if that’s even possible.
It’s much EASY-er to cook a lot of rice than a little, at least in my experience.
Brown rice is a CHEAP and HEALTHY grain that will help you stretch your meals further, and fill those empty tummies.
What’s your tried-and-true method for cooking rice?

For My Vegan Friends: Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potato

First, let’s get something straight. I am not a vegan. I have tasted life without cheese and I didn’t like it. I won’t go back voluntarily. However, on Facebook recently, I asked my readers to give me some ideas for recipes to post in January; and to my surprise, several people requested vegan recipes. 


I am not entirely a stranger to vegan cookery – having a child who is allergic to beef, dairy, and eggs kind of thrust me in that general direction on occasion when searching for recipe inspiration. In fact, my favorite ever chocolate chip cookie recipe is Happy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies. I suppose if I were a vegan, I could forget about the cheese if I could eat those cookies all day long. Maybe. 

In any case, as it happens, I do have a vegan recipe to share with you, my vegan friends! I bet you’re not surprised that it involves beans. And sweet potatoes! The two together work some pretty awesome magic, let me tell you. I started with this recipe for black bean stuffed sweet potatoes, and then livened it up just a bit.

If you’re not vegan (or dairy-free, if that’s the case), you can un-veganize it by dressing it up with a little cheese (you know what my choice is!) and sour cream if you’d like. But honestly, they’re delicious as they are. Even without the cheese. (Really.)

Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

The bean filling here, folks, is kickin’ awesome, I can assure you! I could eat that on its own endlessly. Thank goodness my boys were there to stop me, or they might not have had any lunch.

Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

This is QUICK if you have cooked beans on hand. (I like to freeze extras, or I make them on a day when I have extra time in preparation for a meal like this.) If you don’t have cooked beans on hand, you’re going to have to plan ahead: soak them overnight the day before you plan to make this dish, then cook them in the slow cooker all day until you’re ready to get started with this recipe. Once you’ve got cooked beans to start with, you can make the black bean filling while the sweet potatoes are baking in the oven. Dinner will be ready in an hour or less!

It’s very EASY, for sure. In fact, it’s a one-pan meal, so that means very little clean up!

Both beans and sweet potatoes are super CHEAP, so this one’s a frugal winner in my book.

You’ve never seen so much HEALTHY packed into one little dish! You’ve got the Super Food Sweet Potato, combined with Vegan Protein Extraordinaire (otherwise known as beans), all wrapped up with antioxidants and vitamins from the cute little veggies and spices.

Sharing at Tastetastic Thursday. Frugal Food Thursday,
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Another Christmas Tree Tray – Veggies This Time!

Here’s yet another last-minute Christmas tray to bring to any festivities this weekend. Yesterday, I brought you a Christmas tree fruit tray. Today, it’s a Christmas tree veggie tray! Same concept, different produce.

Easy peasy. 

This one I also found on Pinterest (naturally), originally from the Betty Crocker website. Here’s another Christmas tree veggie tray, also from Betty Crocker, if you’d like something a bit different, or if you have different tastes in veggies. And if you’re looking for yet another creative Christmas-tree-shaped appetizer tray, try this cheese cube Christmas tree from Cabot.

Serve your Christmas tree with a bowl of homemade dip on the side. Unfortunately, I have no specific dip recipe for you (I was in too much of a hurry to take measurements), but I can tell you how I made my Ranch-like version of dip: I dumped equal parts cream/yogurt cheese (homemade from yogurt) and plain yogurt in a bowl and mashed it together well until it was creamy. Then I stirred in garlic powder, freshly ground black pepper, dill, parsley, chives, and a bit of salt until it tasted right. Then I refrigerated it for a couple of hours before serving.

Just as QUICK as any other vegetable tray!

And just as EASY, but with so much more presentation!

It’s CHEAPer than the fruit tray, because these veggies are cheaper than those fruits.

And it’s very HEALTHY, too, nothing but veggies! (Well, except the pretzel sticks, which I don’t normally buy, but didn’t have time to come up with anything more creative. Carrot sticks? Celery sticks? Right shape, wrong color. Let me know if you come up with something!)

Sharing with Real Food Wednesday, and…
day2day joys

A Thanksgiving Side Dish – Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato is the quintessential Thanksgiving side, and unless your family abhors this brightly-colored root vegetable, then it’s likely to appear on your table in some form or fashion this holiday season. And no wonder: it’s colorful, sweet, and easy to craft into pretty much any dish you desire!

Not to mention that it’s super cheap. I just picked up a whole bunch at the grocery store for $0.33/lb. Time to stock up on sweet potatoes, for sure! My friend Nancy bought more than 20 lbs (yes, 20 lbs!) and cooked them to store in the freezer. I’ve decided to follow her example, and I really think you should, too! Tasty healthy vegetables all year long  until they’re in season again. Sounds like a good plan to me!

But save a few of the beauties for this side dish to grace your Thanksgiving table. These stuffed sweet potatoes make a great presentation, perfect for special holidays and special guests. And they taste divine. Dee. Vine.

I’ll tell you a little secret:

I don’t really like sweet potatoes.

But these sweet potatoes? I ate the whole thing, lickety split. These are lick-the-plate good! My Certain Little Someone is a huge fan of sweet potatoes and he also thought they were pretty much the bomb. Gobbled his down and asked for more.

Many thanks to Edesia’s Notebook for this fabulous recipe!

Sweet potatoes take just as long as regular baking potatoes to cook in the oven, and maybe even longer, so this isn’t the QUICKest recipe ever. The majority of the time spent is time in the oven, though, freeing you to make other Thanksgiving preparations.

It is such an EASY recipe. And I love that it looks so fancy! Totally impressive without a great deal of effort.

As I’ve already mentioned, sweet potatoes are in season right now, making this a super CHEAP recipe for this time of year. And even in the off-season, sweet potatoes are only $0.99/lb typically (around here, anyway), so it’s not exactly an indulgence in any case.

Sweet potatoes are so HEALTHY for you. That vibrant orange color? Vitamin A! And antioxidants. And lots and lots of fiber. So eat it up!

Sharing at Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods, and…

Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays