Pumpkin Cheesecake Day!

‘Tis the Season! The harvest season, that is. It’s the season of the pumpkin … pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns here and there, everywhere you look. Following an abundant harvest, pumpkin pies find their final demise, gracing the tables of most of America.  I, on the other hand, prefer to follow the beat of a different drummer. Let the masses have their pumpkin pie.  I choose to celebrate MY favorite pumpkin dessert, Pumpkin Cheesecake Day, on October 21st.

Pumpkins belonged to America before most of our ancestors did. Native Americans grew pumpkins hundreds of years before Europeans arrived on our Eastern shores. They grew them in mounds, among their other crops.  They used pumpkin chunks in stew and fed pumpkin pieces to their horses. Even the seeds were toasted or ground into meal for gruel or bread.

The colonists in theNew World quickly jumped on the pumpkin band wagon. Pumpkins were sliced and roasted, baked whole (after removing the seeds), boiled and made into dough for pancakes. The colonists also preserved pumpkins by drying them. They were sliced and placed on racks in the sun or hung from the rafters until they were dry.

Besides tasting good, pumpkins provide many nutrients essential for a healthy diet. They are rich in phosphorous, calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. One report states that pumpkin seed tea is good for the bladder and for killing tapeworms. Now, I like my pumpkin seeds, but I prefer them toasted and salted. I think I’ll pass on the tea.

Pumpkin Lovers Cookbook, by Golden West Publishers, has over 175 recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, muffins, breads, soups and other delectable dishes. Here is a recipe from Pumpkin Lovers Cookbook for Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars. Perfect for celebrating Pumpkin Cheesecake Day!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
1 (16 oz. pkg) pound cake mix
3 eggs
2 TB margarine or butter, melted
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (16 oz) can pumpkin (2 cups)
½ tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350°.
In large mixer bowl on low speed, combine cake mix, 1 egg, margarine and 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice until crumbly. Press into bottom of 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan; set aside.
In large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk, then remaining 2 eggs, pumpkin, remaining 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice and salt; mix well. Pour over curst, sprinkle nuts on top.
Bake 30 or 35 minutes or until set. Cool. Cut into bars.

Thanks to Louise at www.monthsofediblecelebrations.blogspot.com for encouraging posts with recipes to celebrate foods this month. Go check out her blog and you’ll discover a world filled with food celebrations, cookbooks and recipes!

Celebrate life … Celebrate Pumpkin Cheesecake Day!

A Reason to … Celebrate, Remember, Have Fun (Oct 14-20, 2011)

Friday, October 14th : TGIF! Celebrate life, celebrate Friday, and celebrate dessert! October 14th has taken on a life of its own, becoming recognized as ‘National Dessert Day’ without a traceable origin or national proclamations. Celebrate National Dessert Day with a special homemade dessert. No time to bake? Try a fun dessert bar for the family tonight. Pair up chocolate fondue with an assortment of fruits, marshmallows, graham crackers or pretzels. Or, whip up a few favorite puddings or jellos and serve with small bowls of sprinkles, candies or crumbles cookies for toppings. For something different, try pound cake slices with a spoonful of pudding, topped with some berries and a dollop of whipped cream. It’s your Friday celebration, do it your way.

Saturday, October 15th: Today, get your grouch on! (Yes, easier for some people than for others!) It’s National Grouch Day. In honor of Oscar the Grouch, “Have a yucky day!” Although the family might balk at sardine and spinach sundaes and pickle juice to drink, there’s still a lot of fun “grouchy” ways to celebrate. Send your friends some e-cards. (www.bluemountain.com or www.cyberkisses.com) Spend some time with the family watching ‘Grumpy Old Men’. For the younger ones, print some Oscar the Grouch coloring sheets from http://www.sesamestreet.org/games/art?gclid=CIjj0Y-1v50CFdVL5QodnytqiQ. We might just end up partying the grouch out of ourselves!

Sunday, October 16th : It isn’t a wacky or kooky celebration today. Today honors World Food Day, a worldwide event designed to increase awareness, understanding and informed, year-around action to alleviate hunger. In a country where most of us have so much, and countless tons of food are thrown into dumpsters every day, there are still too many going to bed hungry, here and worldwide. There are so many people that could live for days on what we eat at one meal. Let’s share our abundance. Look up a local food pantry and donate food, money or time. What can you do to recognize World Food Day, not just today, but all year? (www.worldfooddayusa.org)

Monday, October 17th :  Yea! It’s Mulligan Day and we all get a ‘do-over’! One rumor (of three) tracks the mysterious origin of a ‘mulligan’ back to golfer David Mulligan in the 1920’s. Not happy with a shot, he re-teed and hit again, calling it a “correction shot”. Who doesn’t need a ‘do-over?’ Celebrate the day, celebrate life with a “correction shot” at something important!

Tuesday, October 18th : Here a chocolate, there a chocolate, chocolate, chocolate everywhere! It’s National Chocolate Cupcake Day. Yes, by now you know my Achilles heel and chocolate is the culprit. Celebrate with some chocolate cupcakes, either homemade or bakery bought. Just for clarification, this national day of food is not to be confused with National Vanilla Cupcake Day on November 10th!  Here’s a moist, delicious recipe that doesn’t use any eggs or butter in the cake: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/super_easy_super_moist_chocolate_cupcakes/.

Wednesday, October 19th : Celebrate the beauty of ugly. It’s  … Hagfish Day! Yes, you read that correctly. There are 67 known species of hagfish. The giant hagfish can reach 4’ in length. And they ooze slime, buckets and buckets of slime. Whale Times created the day last year. They believe, “repugnant and slightly revolting animals like hagfish make great role models for highlighting conservation concerns for all marine animals.” Celebrate the day; celebrate the little known beauty of life. Learn about hagfish at: http://www.whaletimes.org/hagfish.htm.

Thursday, October 20th :  Take some ripened fruit, toss in a little sugar and add a splash of brandy. There, now you have the makings for National Brandied Fruit Day!  Brandied fruit makes up quickly and stores in the refrigerator for months. Top French Toast with a little for a special breakfast. It’s a delicious topping over ice cream, pudding or pound cake. Now you’re ahead of the game and have the makings for some holiday fruitcake too!

Here a pop, there a pop …. National Popcorn Poppin Month

Here a pop, there a pop … October is National Popcorn Poppin Month! This month-long celebration gives us thirty-one days to celebrate with this popular “poppable” snack. The Popcorn Board claims that Americans eat 16 billion quarts of popcorn a year. That’s approximately 51 quarts per man, woman and child.

Not only inexpensive, this treat is low-fat, high in fiber and low in calories. Air popped popcorn has a mere 31 calories per cup. Oil-popped popcorn moves up to 55 calories per cup and buttered popcorn weighs in with the most calories, 133 per cup.

For a zesty zip and different flavor, sprinkle this herbal mixture, from Sage Cottage Herb Garden Cookbook, over your popped popcorn. Combine ½ tsp chili powder, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¾ tsp dried oregano, and ¼ tsp dried basil. Play with various seasonings and herbs to create your own favorite popcorn seasoning. Myself, I don’t care for chili flavor so much and I love onion flavors. So on mine, I either cut out the chili, or reduce it down to ¼ tsp and I add ½ tsp onion powder. A little parmesan cheese added to the mix is good too.

Written reports of popcorn date back hundreds of years. The Popcorn Board reports that the Spaniard Cobo, wrote of the Peruvian Indians in 1650, “They toast a certain kind of corn until it bursts. They call it pisancalla, and they use it as a confection.” The oldest ears of popcorn were discovered in a cave inNew Mexicoin 1948 and 1950. The ears of corn found in theNew Mexico Bat Cave are estimated to be about 4,000 years old.

Celebrate life! Have a popcorn party tonight. Check out www.popcorn.org for popcorn recipes, printable coloring pages and popcorn games. There are many recipes on the site. The two recipes I really want to try are Cinnamon-Spice Berry Popcorn and Maple Pumpkin Spice Popcorn.

Cinnamon-Spice Berry Popcorn
6 cups air-popped popcorn
3 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
1 1/2 tbsp. light margarine
1/2 cup Craisins

• Combine brown sugar, corn syrup, spices, and margarine in microwave-safe bowl; cook on HIGH heat for 2 1/2 minutes until bubbly hot.
• Add Craisins to popcorn; toss with hot sugar mixture until well coated. Cool mixture before serving or store in airtight container. Serves: 4

Maple Pumpkin Spice Popcorn
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice mix
1 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
5 cups popped popcorn

• In a large saucepan or pot, heat brown sugar, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice mix over medium heat. Cook, stirring, 3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and mixture is bubbling. Stir in butter until melted and well blended. Add pecans, if desired, and popcorn and stir until well coated.

• Allow mixture to cool before serving. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container. Yield: 5 cups

Thanks to Louise at www.monthsofediblecelebrations.blogspot.com for encouraging posts with recipes to celebrate foods this month. Go check out her blog and you’ll discover a world filled with food celebrations, cookbooks and recipes!

A Reason to … Celebrate, Remember, Have Fun! (Oct 7-12, 2011)

Friday, October 7th: Do an act of kindness. Help one person smile. Celebrate World Smile Day!  This annual celebration began in 1999 by Harvey Ball, creator of the iconic ‘Smiley Face’.  He was concerned about the over-commercialization of the symbol he designed in 1963. He felt the original intent and meaning of the smile was lost. Harvey’s goal was to have a day devoted to smiles and acts of kindness. In honor of Harvey and his smiley face, let’s make a conscious effort today (and days to follow!) to smile, be friendly, and pass on acts of kindness! (www.worldsmileday.com)

Saturday, October 8th: You say potato, I say potahto … but today, who cares? Make some pierogies and celebrate National Pierogi Day. These tasty potato/pasta creations can be filled with meat, cheese, potato, or any combination of savory delights. Eastern Europeans introduced pierogies to the US in the early 1900’s. This cultural staple gained popularity. On October 8, 1952, Ted Twardzik, founder of Mrs. T’s Pierogies made the first commercial sale, hence the celebration date. Pierogies are fun and easy to make from scratch. (Or check your grocer’s freezer section.) Have a pierogi party tonight!

Saturday, October 8th: Get your game on! Your chess game that is. Sunday is National Chess Day. In 1976, President Gerald Ford designated this day “To give special recognition to a game that generates challenge, intellectual stimulation, and enjoyment for citizens of all ages.” Celebrate the day with a checkboard tablecloth, a chess game (maybe on the computer for most of us) and a special dessert of, of course, chess pie!

Sunday, October 9th: Pick a month, any month.  I needed a new reason to celebrate for today. The winner is … POSITIVE ATTITUDE MONTH!

How can I celebrate Positive Attitude Month you ask?

First, decide to have a positive attitude. I’ll be the first to admit, some days are easier than others. Some days it seems the world is out to get us, everything seems to go wrong. Those are merely situations. We are responsible for our own reactions and attitudes.

Surround yourself with positive people.  Positivity and negativity are both contagious. Unfortunately, Negative Nellie’s seem to have a stronger affect at bringing people down to their depths. Keep company with positive, optimistic people that see the bright side of life; you’ll see a profound difference in your life and your attitude.

Use positive affirmations. Changing the way we talk to ourselves changes our worlds. Read stories about inspiring people, they will lift you up. Read inspiring quotes. Copy them and keep them visible. My poor laptop is covered with some of my favorites. I have more in the car, on the visor, on the dashboard.

Find things to laugh about. Humor, laughter, and joy are closely tied to positive attitudes.

Monday, October 10th:  Lots of days to celebrate today and many won’t be working, with it being a national/bank/post office holiday. But since I’ll be at work today and it’s my longest work day of the week, I’m celebrating Angel Food Cake Day! Besides, I’m making it easy and cheating with a store bought angel food cake. There’s lots of ways to dress up a store bought cake, making it more festive. Louise, at ‘Months of Edible Celebrations’ posted a yummy recipe, honoring Andy Griffith’s birthday June 1st. Check out Louise’s blog with Andy’s Chocolate-filled Angel Food Cake at http://monthsofediblecelebrations.blogspot.com/2009/06/mayberry-holiday.html.

Tuesday, October 11th: is National Face Your Fears Day. Here’s a day to confront what we’re afraid of, be it people, situations, animals, places or other phobias.  These fears frequently keep us from reaching our goals or moving forward and easily stop us from enjoying life when encountered.  What to do? Admit to them. Discover the source.  Learn more about it. Talk it out. Be optimistic – you can do it!

Wednesday, October 12th: Don’t blow your top! Spin it! Celebrate International Top Spinning Day, the second Wednesday of October. “The world is a large top, spinning on its axis. Spin a top or tops wherever you are in the world today to recognize this fun and scientific fact. Add your spins to the worldwide total and then e-mail the results to the sponsor, the Spinning Top & Yo-Yo Museum.” http://www.topmuseum.org/

Thursday, October 13th:  Here a pop, there a pop … October is National Popcorn Poppin Month! This month-long celebration gives us thirty-one days to enjoy this popular “poppable” snack. For a zesty zip and different flavor, sprinkle this herbal mixture over your popped popcorn. Combine ½ tsp chili powder, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¾ tsp dried oregano, and ¼ tsp dried basil. (From Sage Cottage Herb Garden Cookbook) Check out www.popcorn.org for more recipes, including two that I can’t wait to try, Cinnamon-Spice Berry Popcorn and Maple Pumpkin Spice Popcorn. There are also printable coloring pages and popcorn games for the younger ones. Celebrate and make it a popcorn party tonight!

Get your Game on …. Chess game, that is!

Get your game on! Your chess game that is.  Saturday, October 8th is National Chess Day.  October is also National Dessert Month, so a special dessert gives us a two for one celebration.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford first designated this day “To give special recognition to a game that generates challenge, intellectual stimulation, and enjoyment for citizens of all ages.”  The day has been celebrated annually since then, though usually without much fanfare. This year, after much bickering and dissent about the national debt ceiling, the government pulled together for a unanimous, bi-partisan agreement on Senate Resolution 255 designating October 8, 2011 as National Chess Day.

(After years of being recognized on October 9th, this year it was set aside on October 8th … so today, we get two celebrations instead of one, Chess Day and Pierogi Day!)

Celebrate the day with a checkboard tablecloth, a chess game (maybe on the computer for most of us) and a special dessert of, of course, chess pie!

From ‘The Texas Experience: Friendship & Food Texas Style”, here’s a recipe for Aunt Mae’s Chess Pie.

1 stick butter
¾ cup milk
3 eggs, room temperature
¼ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell

Melt butter until caramel color; add milk until milk is almost scaled. Cool. Beat eggs, add salt, sugar and vanilla. Pour into pie shell. Grate nutmeg on top of pie. Bake at 325° for 45 minutes or until set.

National Pierogi Day (Oct 8th) & National Pasta Month (Oct)

You say potato, I say potahto … but today, who cares? Pull out the pot, mix up some dough, and make some pierogies to celebrate National Pierogi Day and National Pasta Month.

Typically filled with a potato stuffing, these tasty potato/pasta creations can be filled with any combination of savory delights. Meat, cheese, potato, diced onions, cabbage … pretty much whatever your little heart desires. (I think there are as many spellings of pierogy/pierogy/pieriogi as there are fillings!)

Eastern Europeans introduced pierogies to the US in the early 1900’s. This cultural staple gained popularity. Ted Twardzik grew up watching his mother and other women in the community make pierogies. They were always a family favorite and quickly became a favorite at church suppers and fundraisers also.

After college, Ted returned home to Shenandoah,PA and began making pierogies in his mother’s kitchen. It’s reported that after several weeks, Mom asked him to move the mess elsewhere. Switching locations, to his father’s former tavern, he “began churning out those potato-filled pasta shells by the dozens.”

On October 8, 1952, Ted, founder of Mrs. T’s Pierogies, made his first commercial sale to Capital Market, hence the celebration date on October 8th.

Mrs. T’s Pierogies has grown since 1952. They now produce and sell over half a billion pierogies a year. That’s enough to cover more than 888 football fields, or to circle the globe at the equator 1.2 times. Mrs. T’s Pierogies offers 14 different varieties, to please any taste buds in your family.

Pierogies are fun and easy to make from scratch.

Here’s a recipe from “Stories and Recipes of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, Volume III”, by Rita Van Amber.


Stir together 3 cups flour and 1 ½ tsp. salt in a large bowl. Beat 1 egg lightly, add 4 tsp oil and ¾ cup water. Add to flour mixture. Dough should be soft and not sticky. Add a tsp of water if necessary. Use a little more flour for kneading and knead until smooth. Cover for 30 minutes.

Peel and cut 2 or 3 potatoes in cubes. Cover with water, add ½ tsp salt and cook until tender. Drain.

Melt 1 TB butter and add 1 chopped onion, 1 TB chopped parsley, pepper and 1 ¼ cup shredded American or Cheddar cheese. Add 5 TB sour cream or yogurt to make a soft dough.

Divide pasta dough into 4 parts. Keep remaining dough covered while you roll out one fourth at a time as thin as possible. Cut in rounds with a glass, place heaping teaspoon of filling in center, fold over and pinch shut securely.

Cook in gently boiling water with ½ tsp salt added. Cook a dozen at a time in a wide pan. When they come up, cook a bit longer, about 5 or 6 minutes until done. Drain well. Keep warm in a warmed dish in the oven as you cook the batches. Serve with hot butter sauce.

Butter sauce: Sauté onions in melted butter and pour over the dish.

Makes 4 dozen pieriogies. Left over can be fried for another meal.

Now that you’ve got the whole recipe, I’ll add a little secret my Polish friend, Mary Sims, shared with me many years ago. She passed away many years ago, but I still think of her when I make pierogies or some of the other recipes she shared with me. She gave me her filling recipe (similar to the filling recipe above) and shared her time-saving tip. Since she worked full time and stayed busy as a wife, mother and grandmother, she shared how a busy, yet clever, cook can make her life easier by buying a package of wonton wrappers and using those as the pasta wrappers. I love to cook, yet I’m also an avid fan of making my life easier. They work wonderfully!

Thanks to Louise at www.monthsofediblecelebrations.blogspot.com for encouraging posts with recipes to celebrate foods this month. Go check out her blog and you’ll discover a world filled with food celebrations, cookbooks and recipes!

Celebrate life and have a pierogi party tonight!

A Reason to … Celebrate, Remember, Have Fun! (Sept 30-Oct 6)

Friday, September 30th, celebrate Hug a Vegetarian Day. This kicks-off to tomorrow’s World Vegetarian Day (October 1st) and Vegetarian Awareness Month, throughout the entire month of October. Celebrate life today by hugging your favorite vegetarian and having a meatless dinner tonight. Discover some of the delicious meatless options at http://www.meatlessmonday.com. Many restaurants offer meatless options now, even inTexas. My own personal favorite is Mooyah’s delicious veggie burger. How will you celebrate today?

Saturday, October 1st, celebrate Adopt a Shelter Dog Month today and the entire month. Can’t have animals? Or, if you’re like us and can’t have any more animals? There are other ways to help homeless dogs (and cats) in lieu of adoption. Attend pet fairs and shelter fundraising events. Donate supplies, money or time to local shelter or rescues. Many local shelters are desperately in need of donations, old towels, blankets, food and help. Share the message with your friends. See http://www.aspca.org for more information.

Sunday, October 2nd is National Custodial Workers Day. Day in, day out (or usually night in, night out) janitors and custodians spend their working hours cleaning up after us. Trash tossed out, surfaces cleaned, windows washed, carpets vacuumed; all to make our lives easier. This year (or maybe a day late if you work in a Monday-Friday work environment), thank these nearly invisible workers. Leave a note of thanks, thanking them for their tireless and thankless efforts. Do they do an exceptional job? Maybe a small gift, such as some flowers or a coffee gift card would be appropriate thanks.

Monday, October 3rd, in 1952, the first Ozzie and Harriet TV program aired. As the longest running sitcom, this iconic American family captivated a nation over 435 episodes. The series filmed 409 black and white and 26 color episodes. CelebrateAmerica’s beloved family with a bowl of popcorn and an evening of re-runs. No DVD’s to easily watch? YouTube has over 1,400 clips available. That should last you all evening!

Tuesday, October 4th is Cinnamon Bun Day. Now here’s a day I can wholeheartedly celebrate! Originating in Sweden in 1999, the Swedish Home Baking Council searched for a way to celebrate their 40th anniversary. They felt the cinnamon bun (or cinnamon roll) best symbolized Swedish home baking. Any Swedish bakery will boast baskets filled with cinnamon buns, or kanelbullar, to commemorate Kanelbullens Dag. Celebrate this fragrant concoction by picking up a box to share with co-workers. After dinner, pop some in the oven for the family.

Wednesday, October 5th commemorates the 12th Annual Balloons around the World. On this day, “balloon artists around the world will be taking part in an event designed to highlight the act of giving, to deliver thousands of smiles, and to showcase the art of balloon twisting and decorating.” Currently 55 locations, in 10 countries, and 26US states are participating in the festivities. Know how to make balloon animals? Share the fun and the smiles with others. Otherwise, pick up a bag of balloons and try your hand with the family tonight, creating your own balloon menagerie.(www.balloonsaroundtheworld.com)

Thursday, October 6th, is Mad Hatter Day. This 2nd crazy day of the year follows in the spirit of April Fools Day, craziness without the pranks. Celebrate silliness! The Mad Hatter, in Alice in Wonderland, is always acting silly. Grab a top hat (or any other silly hat) and join him in his jubilation. Be a little whacky for a day, it’s allowed today.  Celebrate, celebrate life and being alive. Live life to the fullest!

October 2011

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