Recipe: Pumpkin Cream Cheese


I am not a morning person at all... never have been and at this stage in life, it's pretty safe to assume that I never will be... and yes I know the whole never say never thing.... and maybe becoming a mama will finally do the trick... but I highly doubt it. Oddly enough, I love breakfast foods! Can't get enough... love everything about them... could easily eat breakfast for lunch AND dinner... on repeat! Don't ask me why because I honestly don't know. Just one of the many "special" things that make me, well... me. For weeks like this past one where it's been busy, busy, busy, my go to is always a bagel. I love the doughy, chewy texture mixed with the slightly crunchy outside... and let's not even get me started on the cream cheese! Full fat and everything baby! So in lieu of the pumpkin festivities, I decided to jazz up my morning bagel with some extra lovin... of the pumpkin variety. It has made every morning extra special for me and maybe, just maybe, ever so slightly less grumpy. You are welcome.

Gimme Some Oven Recipe, (which I adjusted) makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 1/2 can of pumpkin puree
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1tsp. vanilla extract
  • Combine the pumpkin puree, cream cheese, and maple syrup in a bowl. Mix until creamy.
  • Add in the spices and vanilla extract, making sure to blend until smooth.
  • And that's pretty much it! Serve on bagels or use as a dipping sauce for apples, carrots, celery... use your imagination and go nuts! Keep refrigerated in an air-tight container... finally a purpose for one of the bazillion jars I am always saving... enjoy!
Check out some other amazing pumpkin based recipes on the Pumpkin Series!

***Today I am thankful for bagels... always a classic favorite of mine and combined with pumpkin cream cheese they are truly amazing!***


Recipe: Curried Pupmkin Soup


Since moving to London, Indian food has become a pretty staple part of my diet. It's practically the national dish here (I kid you not), and hubs makes a mean curry! In my ever obsessive pumpkin recipe search I was more than thrilled when I found this little gem... pumpkin + soup + curry equals heaven in my book and I just knew I had include it for you guys (I mean me). It was surprisingly easy to make and although I was a little worried because I had to substitute some ingredients, and then decided to be brave and add some of my own, it came out delicious! An added bonus, it made the whole flat smell warm and spicy... and if that makes any sense to you than we should be friends! Hubs and I always pair our curry with some good Indian beer so I thought it only appropriate to do the same with my soup... it was awesome!

A Beautiful Mess Recipe (which I adjusted), serves 2

for soup
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1/2 yellow onion (chopped)
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. of thai sweet chilli sauce 
  • 3 tsp. curry powder
  • 1tsp. cayenne powder
  • a pinch of cumin
for toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin seeds (I used store bought ones)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • Saute the chopped onions and garlic in a pot over medium until golden. Warning: may cause sensitive eyes to cry!
  • Add in your curry powder, cumin, cayenne powder, and thai sweet chilli sauce. Mix around.
  • Pour in your coconut milk and pumpkin puree, making sure to blend everything nicely together, getting rid of any lumps that may form.
  • Bring to a soft boil and let simmer to bring out the flavors. I left mine about 15 minutes.
  • In a small frying pan, saute your pumpkin seeds in olive oil and curry powder until golden brown.
  • Serve soup adding salt and pepper to taste. Top off with some crunchy pumpkin seeds and wash down with some good Indian beer (a favorite of mine is Cobra Beer)... enjoy!
Check out some other amazing pumpkin based recipes on the Pumpkin Series!

***Today I am thankful for this dish... it was just so easy to make and so darn yummy too!***


Recipe: Pumpkin Pancakes


Pancakes have always been one of most favorite breakfast dishes! I remember little k and I used to get up extra early to make big and fluffy ones for any special occasion possible... Mother's/Father's days, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving... you name it! We always found that there was something extra delicious to our pancakes when served this way. And so now, even when I make them on a random Sunday morning, they keep that memory lingering in them that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I knew I had try a pumpkin version of them for this series and I happy to say that the results were amazing! I was worried that they might be too sweet for my liking but they weren't at all. They had just a hint pumpkin which was complemented nicely by the syrup. Even better, I had some left over batter which I saved in a tuppr-wear... and Monday night pancakes for dinner because hubs was working late happened! So if you have a hubs that works late hours sometimes too, try treating yourself to some lovely pancakes for dinner and I bet you won't be too bothered when indulging yourself in some sweet syrupy goodness!

Martha Stewart Recipe, makes 8-10, 6" pancakes

  • 1 egg 
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp. canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • In a bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, salt, nutmeg, and ground cloves. Make sure to mix well and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, canned pumpkin puree, melted butter, and egg. Mix until smooth.
  • Add the pumpkin mixture into the dry mixture and blend until thick and smooth. This pancake batter is surprisingly thicker than normal.
  • Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto a skillet to make 6" pancake. You can choose to make them smaller but I personally prefer the big ones!
  • When pancake starts to turn golden brown and bubbling at the edges it's time to flip it! 
  • Stack them high and serve them with your favorite toppings... I favorite is just simple old butter and syrup... enjoy!
Check out some other amazing pumpkin based recipes on the Pumpkin Series!

***Today I am thankful for pancakes... slightly golden, crunchy, and oh so sweet!***


Recipe: Chocolate-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars


This recipe was quite an intimidating one if I'm honest... cheesecake with a special crust... mixing chocolate and pumpkin flavors... and the swirls! I think if I had thought about it too long, I might have passed on to a more sensible sweet. But luckily that day I happened to be wearing my big girl pants (trousers) and just scribbled down ingredients and that was that. The outcome, it was a little bit tricky and I have got to start reading recipes before I start making the dish... I didn't realize how many parts there were and how much cooling time was required. My guests that night had slightly warm and gooey bars. After refrigerating the remains overnight, the rest were easy cut into bars and perfect to hand out at work. Actually when I first mentioned what they were, all the Brits curiously asked about them but none were daring enough try them. All it took was four o'clock tea and biscuits time to roll around... being out of biscuits (score for me and my pumpkin bars!)... and J, the first desperate Brit to dive in and report that actually, um they were amazing! Then the rest of the Brits flocked on over and that was how I (the little American obsessed with pumpkin) introduced a new and exciting flavor to the Brits. You are welcome guys! I've promised them some more pumpkiny treats and they are very excited!

 Martha Stewart Recipe, makes 16 bars

for crust
  • 9 oz. chocolate wafer cookies (I used Oreos!)
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted melted butter
for filling
  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate chopped up
  • Preheat your oven to 350 F (176 C)
  • Fully line an 8" square baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing for an over hang on all sides... you'll see why later.
  • You need finely ground cookie crumbs which you may use a food processor to achieve. I don't have one... I improvised. Brake cookies by hand, place them in a zip-lock baggy, wrap with a dish towel, and hammer those suckers into crumbs... I kid you not, works like a charm!
  • Combine your cookie crumbs with the sugar and butter until moistened. For this I used a hand held mixer.
  • Place crumb mixture into your foiled lined pan, pressing down softly to cover the entire bottom with a thin and even layer. Bake for 15 min. or until firm. Set aside to cool.
  • Blend cream cheese until smooth, I again used my handheld for this. Add sugar, pumpkin, eggs, flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt and mix well. Set aside.
  •  Microwave your chopped up chocolate pieces in bowl for 30 second increments, stirring in-between, until melted. Add 1 cup of pumpkin mixture and mix well. Set aside.
  • Pour your remaining pumpkin mixture into the crust lined pan. Drop dollops of chocolate mixture into the pumpkin mixture and swirl around. I was skeptical about this, and although mine didn't come out quite as pretty as Martha's it still turned quite nice I think.
  • Bake for 45-50 minute or until cheesecake is set and jiggles slightly.
  • Once baked, let pan cool for a few hours on a counter top. I waited about 3 hours before covering and transferring to the refrigerator for another 6 hours. The original recipe doesn't ask for that much time but I found mine was still falling slightly apart by their recommended times so I left a bit longer. I think general rule is allow for as much cooling and chilling time as possible.
  • When finally ready, use the overhanging foil (there it is!) to transfer your cake to a counter top. Use a knife dipped in water to cut cake into 16 squares. Of course try one right away!
Check out some other amazing pumpkin based recipes on the Pumpkin Series!

***Today I am thankful for this recipe actually, I'm not a huge sweets fan and this was the perfect balance of sweet and bitter from the chocolate***


Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Spice


Ok... so technically this one isn't a recipe of sorts... but it is a ready-made spice that a lot of my other pumpkin creations were asking for and well, lets face it... there was no way on Earth I was going to find this little number in the UK. I had a quick panic (about 5 seconds tops) and then little smarty pants that I am decided- "quick, let's google it!" And yes those words were said out loud... and no, to no-one in particular since I was home alone at the time... unless you count Henry, our winter resident mouse... but that's another story. Thanks to this easy pumpkin pie spice recipe, I was back in action! So now you too can make it at home if you are desperate like me... or just to lazy to go to the store ;)

 Annie's Eats Recipe, makes roughly 3.11 tbsp.

  • a jar (finally a use for the endless jars I'm always saving!)
  • 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Combine all of the spices into a jar trying to make as little mess as possible (ha!)
  • Seal jar with lid and shake to mix spices... I would double check that the lid is tightly on there... just saying.
  • And now your done... it seriously is that easy!
Check out some other amazing pumpkin based recipes on the Pumpkin Series!

***Today I am thankful for the internet and google simultaneously... if I had a penny for every time I said "google it!"... I would be a rich lady!***


Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


Once upon a time, an American girl living in London tried pumpkin for pretty much the first time in her adult life (she always just ignored it before!) and became obsessed. While it's debatable whether this new found love was based purely on homesickness and a need to consume familiarities or genuinely on taste... one thing is certain, pumpkin she needed! And so she searched high and low for canned pumpkin... being London, such a diverse and cultured city, one wouldn't have expected the task to be such hard one... but it was. She tried every grocery store she could find, desperately (and frantically) checked every aisle... twice... and still nothing. She was about to give up hope all together but decided to pop into one last store, Waitrose. None in the canned goods section... none in the ethnic section (yep, American things are found in the ethnic section my friends)... and then, tucked in the last dark corner of the baking section, she found six cans of pumpkin!!! Which she quickly proceeded to dump in her cart... along with a big pumpkin and three or four mini pumpkins... and sprinted to the checkout counter! Yes, in case you had any doubts, that girl was little old me...

And so that leads me to this... a series of pumpkin recipes to share with you all. To say I went a little pumpkin crazy is an understatement, I know... and yes I'm sure there are easier ways to deal with homesickness around the holidays... but I chose pumpkin and cooking my friends. And so now in the week leading up to Thanksgiving, you too can enjoy pumpkin delights in any form imaginable. Lucky (or unlucky) for hubs, those cans have to get used and I'm just the gal for the challenge... enjoy!

 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe, (which I adjusted) serves 4

  • a medium sized pumpkin's seeds (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper (I added in)
  • 1 tbsp.olive oil
  • Preheat the oven to 284 F (140 C).
  • Cut a whole at the top of the pumpkin where the stem is. Using a spoon, scrape out all of the fleshy insides of the pumpkin into a bowl.
  • Rinse all of the seeds (which are very slippery!) with water, trying to separate as much of the goo as possible. Pat dry.
  • Coat seeds with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and spread out on an aluminum foil lined baking tray.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. My oven is kind of slow so I just eyeballed/tasted tested it.
  • Let cool before serving... or eating... if you can wait that long!
Check out some other amazing pumpkin based recipes on the Pumpkin Series!

***Today I am thankful for that one shop that decided to stock canned pumpkins despite it's lack of popularity... thank you so much Waitrose!***


Man Cotton...


1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Hello friends. As some of you may know, hubs and I celebrated our two year mark of marital bliss on Wednesday! Things that I look forward to each and every year (yes I know it's only been two but still) are the following: 1. love declarations popping up as our facebook statuses with extra mush for just the occasion... usually accompanied by a couples profile picture of some sort 2. having our traditional curry date where I'm guaranteed to be be asked where in India I'm from... for the record, I'm not, I'm a Hispanic-American, and 3. abiding by the traditional wedding anniversary gift guidelines for all pressies... ever the fun challenge and yes I fully enforce it! This year's material of choice was cotton... an easy one at first glance... but then take into account that the gift had to be (by my rules) 100% cotton, and well... then things got a little bit trickier. You would be surprised at how many things are cotton blends (sorry, that's the designer geek in me)... and poor hubs didn't even realize that he was looking at things that weren't made of cotton, but wool instead. "What's the difference" he so cutely asked... to which I replied "cotton comes from a plant and is softer, wool comes from a sheep and scratchier" and this is what lead him to doing a rub test to all kinds of potential gifts. 

I thought it would be fun to put together a little man gift guide to cotton... for obvious reasons I couldn't post prior to our anniversary (hello stripe shirt that I got in navy!) My goal was to find 100% cotton items that would be just as practical as they were stylish... gifts that hubs would actually use and enjoy. Some of these items were a little over our agreed price budget... (hubs I do wish I could have gotten them all for you as you definitely deserve them!) but a girl can pretend. And as for hubs, well I was a little skeptical seeing as he didn't even know what exactly was cotton or how to check if if an item was a blend... but you know what? My man did good! He absolutely nailed the gift challenge for the second year in a row... 100% cotton, cute, and totally me! I'll have to do a style shoot to show off my cotton for you all... until then!

P.S. yes I got my man a bouquet... if ever there was a more appropriate man flower, cotton buds would be it!

1. gifts & a cotton bouquet 2. strictly cotton gift rule 3. celebrating with curry at tayyabs 4. snail mail from across the pond (thanks parents!)

***Today I am thankful for love... cheesiest of cheeses I know, but it's fact, all you need is love!***


Happy Cotton Anniversary!


Dear hubs,

Two years ago today, I looked into your beautiful blue eyes and agreed to embark on what I can only describe as the craziest adventure of my life thus far. The past two years have had a lot of trying times filled with changes, uncertainties, happiness, but above all else, more love than I could have ever imagined. Two years that have gone by so quickly and felt like a lifetime at the same time... where I have learned more about you and myself than I thought possible! Thank you for your endless patience and unconditional love. Here's to a lifetime of learning and growing together, happy anniversary love.

Still in love,

***Today I am thankful for you hubs... you truly make my world go round!***


Race Report: Amsterdam Half Marathon...


In the month of October I ran two half marathons... only two weeks part... because earlier in the year it had seemed like a good idea! I had already signed myself and hubs up for the Royal Parks Half Marathon when Run Dem Crew decided to make the Amsterdam Half it's next official Bridge The Gap race... and so peer pressure plus an excuse to run through a new city made me sign up! Slightly injured and half doubtful, I headed to Amsterdam without knowing what to expect come race day...

Once again I got to room with a few of my lovely friends that I had done so for the Berlin Half and it was so nice to catch up outside of London. It was fun to have a girly/runners weekend... where late night talks included anything and everything from what time are you going for to what shade of lipstick should I wear race day... and yep, proud to say we all wore some! Together we explored the city, partied into the wee hours, and supported one another as nervousness creeped in.

This race was a little bit different for me for two main reasons... 1. I had just ran another half marathon two weeks earlier... and normally I stop running all together for a good month after a half... and 2. This race started at mid day... unheard of in the race world and I worried about how much and how close to the race I should eat. I'm not sure which is worse, being hungry during a race where it feels like your stomach is literally going to eat itself... or eating too much and (forgive the grossness) having your food repeatedly try to come back out. Luckily, I managed to eat just the right amount and then only had the average pre-race jitters to deal with. Gathering with my crew and seeing all of the other crews from around the world in the same place, with the same purpose (to finish that race!) made me just as nervous as it did excited. It was so incredible to be a part of something so huge!

Miles 1-3: Being the ever hopeful optimist, I gathered with the sub two crew... translation, run a half marathon in under two hours... translation, averaging nine minute miles... translation wtf?!? But I started with them anyways with P (the amazing leader) reassuring me to do what I could, and my game plan was to just try and stick with them, at that fast-ish (for me) pace for as long as I could... great game plan hu? I told P that my exit signal would be a peace sign... meaning go on with out me... peace out! Well I lasted about a good two-three miles... and then up flew my peace sign because of the pain from my already injured foot! I resumed my regular hare like pace knowing that if I had any hopes of finishing, I would have to take it easier. I saw as the sub two crew disappeared into the distance but you know what, I'm still happy I got as far as I did with them! Next time we shall try to hold on for another few miles...

Miles 4-6: This part of the race was an inspiring one... I was able to forget the pain and just soak in all the beauty that is Amsterdam. I have to admit, as far as scenic and exciting races go, this wasn't necessarily one of them. There were long stretches of industrial sights mixed in with nature at it's best.... perfect for some deep soul searching... and lots of thinking... and so that is what I did. It was refreshing to do this during a race for a change, to just let my body take over like a machine and get lost in my thoughts. Usually I can only achieve a zen like state during good (meaning few) long runs. The only things that occasionally drew me out were the pats on the back, smiles, and nods of my fellow crew members as they passed me by. Never in a race had I been touched so much and all thanks to the logo I was sporting... and yes, it made all the difference...

Miles 7-9: So remember when I said the only things that were able to pull me out of my zen like state were things of happiness... well that was true until some silly (and I use that word in place of what I'd really like to say... be creative!) by standers decided it was a good idea to try and cross through the race! It all happened so fast and before I knew it I was colliding into a woman and cursing in a mixture of Spanish (the Hispanic in me) and English. Now we might not have spoken the same language, but I'm pretty sure she knew what I was shouting wasn't polite... but then again neither was her utter and complete selfishness. She is lucky it was only me... a smallish, less than 110 pound, slowish runner and not one of those huge and speedy men I saw on the course. It literally took everything in me not to let this ruin my race... and I know it may seem childish... but do not mess with me or get in my way when I am running... rude!

Miles 10-13: Anyways, luckily the run dem angels were on my side for this race too as out of no where, L appeared on my right side... and didn't leave it until we crossed the finish line... three times! Like a true soldier, she stayed by my side as I started to falter... understood that I couldn't really chit-chat, just merely provide company of some sort... handed me water, thumbs up, and knowing smiles... all because of the simple fact that we were from the same crew. Sappy I know, but our friendship began on the road somewhere around mile ten. I have run all of my races alone and thought it was just what worked best for me, but after this experience, I can see why you would want and sometimes even need to run with a friend. Especially when the pain had started to seep through, what kept going was the fact that I couldn't let my new friend down. Another run dem angel that I owe a huge thanks to is B... injured herself and benched, she didn't let that get her down and  instead decided to be a one woman cheer squad! And what a site (and sound) for sore everything she was! I just remember a surge of uplifting energy as I heard my name being shouted and I thought to myself, I can do this!

Miles 13- 13.1: So what I'm about to tell you is probably the worst thing that could happen to a runner and it happened to L and I... ok probably not the worst... I just like to be dramatic... and in my defense, it sure felt like it was the worse at the time. Nearly at the end now, there was a group of run dem angels that had already finished the race (luckies!) and were cheering the rest of us on. We saw (we thought) the finish line and L quickly whipped out her phone and started recording us as we sprinted, cheered, and shouted our way across the finish line... only it wasn't. I know what you are thinking... but just remember the signs are all in Dutch and the distance in km so we weren't really paying attention to any of that. I was so frustrated that I had just pulled out from somewhere deep within me, all of the reserve power and energy that us runners keep for crossing the finish line... and then it happened again! Another arch, another video, somewhat less energy and enthusiasm... followed by disappointment yet again! An that ladies and gents is when I through my first ever runner's tantrum... mid race... and with less than 500 meters to go. All (and I mean ALL) of the pain just surfaced... the anger... the I just can't run anymore I can't even see the finish line rage that blinded me. If you ever want to experience the biggest high and lowest low possible, run a half marathon and cross the fake finish line twice. I literally stopped running. Luckily L was having none of it and wouldn't take no for answer. She could have just left me and kept on running (and I wouldn't have blamed her for it), but instead she decided we would finish together and we would finish running! And so there is a third video of us crossing the actual finish line... probably the most anti-climatic finish ever... but a finish none the less. And then the tear gates opened up and let's just say there was a lot of sweaty hugging...

Final Outcome: 02:22:27 time / 10"43' pace / 1,1638 overall place / 3,554 female place... achy body parts- 5 (shoulders (again!), ankles, and my ego), blisters- 4. No p.b. for this race either but it was the first time ever that I ran two half marathons so close together and I even beat my first race by a bit so I'll take it. It was a first for tantrums and a first for partially running with someone. Loads to take in from this race and it just goes to show, even with six half marathons now solidly under my belt... no two races are ever the same!

Of course no Bridge The Gap (or Run Dem Crew event for that matter) is truly ever over until we've partied our little booties off! We may train hard... look hard... and even run hard... but rest assured, we most certainly party even harder!!!

***Today I am thankful for yet another great bridge the gap experience... where to next guys?!?***


Link Love 11.4.12


image via my pinterest

So I may be developing a small little hoarding problem... hoarding of pumpkins that is! Yes I'm that lady you see at the grocery with a shopping basket shamelessly full of all the left over pumpkins... the big ones... the little ones... the orange, green, yellow, and white ones (yep I scored I white beauty!) And the fact that most are now on clearance does not by any means help my problem, rather it helps me justify that I am actually saving money while saving the pumpkins too! I mean can you imagine what their future would be like without me... ending their days in a garbage bin somewhere?!? Instead I take them home with me... and yes hubs, I really do need five more...

This week's favorite little thing of mine is...not going to lie, I love it every.single.time!

Love this idea for a couples costume... plus this nifty diy face mask is just too darn cute... 

A little dry shampoo trick for you... tried and it works like a charm!

Such a cool way to customize your totes... a diy photo transfer tutorial...

Not sure what I love more, the name or how easy of a dyi it is... ahem, the man throw...

Amazing paintings... and all done on the face of a penny!

Man I just love this girl's style... note to self, get red pants pronto...

How sweet is this homemade memory game... I love the idea of using personal pictures...

It's also soup and bread season which I couldn't be happier about... spicy chipotle sweet potato yum! 

Keep up to date with my daily grind via twitter, facebook, & instagram if you like :)

***Today I am thankful for pumpkins... big, small, orange, green or white!***


A Rare Sunny Day...


sunglasses: urban outfitter | sweater: m&s | dress: victoria secret | tights: nyc | boots: steve madden | necklace: wet seal | bracelet: mint julep

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