Mid-Winter Sowing Seeds & Sprouting Colorful Inspiration

Leaf Amaranth Seedling – February 2021

I know. I know. I’m — perhaps — a little unusual. I prefer seeds and grow lights (or sewing tools & fabric) as favorite gifts over flowers and jewelry any day.

In January, Jeff and I purchased a few little grow lights and I decided to work on some early seed starts as a way to help combat seasonal anxiety/depression and to learn how feasible it might be to start our seedlings inside, earlier in the season.

I have to tell you, I am blown away by how much I have loved growing the seeds as outdoor temperatures plunged to negative double digits last week (factoring wind chill). Featured above is my current most loved plant: Leaf Amaranth. The deep burgundy red fading to pink atop bright, luminous green brings me so much joy on cold and dark days. It also inspires me to think outside my comfort zone for future quilt, sewing and art projects.

This variety of amaranth is grown and used as an alternative to spinach. It may be eaten raw or cooked and is a nutritional power house. What a blessing for the senses! I can hardly wait to harvest some. In the background you can see beet root sprouts that I’m growing mainly for their greens. Again, there’s that spectacular contrast of burgundy red and bright, luminous green has me smitten.

What’s inspiring you these days? I’d LOVE to know. Please drop me a comment below (note, I have to approve comments to protect our blog from unwanted spam so it may take a bit to see your post appear).

This Quilter Eats Pumpkin Pie for Breakfast! Plus…my recipe.

On Friday I prepared a homemade pie crust. I’m neither the best nor worst crust maker. Truthfully, I could use more practice making pie crusts. But I’m afraid. You see, I love pie so much that if I practiced more that means I’d be baking more pies. And eating more of them. Probably for breakfast! Once in a while is fine, but at 55 years old, my metabolism isn’t what it once was and I’d like to not have to buy or sew a whole larger size wardrobe due to an out of control pie habit.

OK. Sew. Don’t judge.

This was the last piece. And it was DEEEEEElicious! Plus, pumpkin pie has way more nutrition than most commercial cereals! And technically, this isn’t even “pumpkin”. It’s an heirloom Spanish Squash called Buen Gusto de Horno which means, “good taste from the oven”. I just couldn’t help myself when I saw the gorgeous warty green “pumpkin” picture in the seed catalog listing, but I digress.

So…squash pie. This breakfast is actually pretty darn healthy, don’t you think? You knew all pumpkins are squash but not all squash are pumpkins, right?

I planted just a couple of this variety in my garden this year. Squirrels took one of the plants, but I still managed to get a few 7+ pound beautiful warty fruits from the remaining plant before the early freeze and snow came.

Buen Gusto de Horno Squash

Baker Creek (the seed company from which I purchased my seeds) says this in their description of this pumpkin…er…I mean, squash, “The dense, firm, medium yellow-orange flesh is sweet and fine-grained, and definitely excellent for baking. Add excellent keeping quality, and you’ve got a real winner that everyone is sure to love!

Here’s what it looks like when it’s cut open and the seeds have been scraped:

Now, maybe you’re thinking the inside flesh and thin green rind reminds you a little bit of cantaloupe? Well, I was surprised to discover it also smelled very sweet and quite a lot like cantaloupe. I wondered how this was going to work out for making a pie, but I charged ahead using the roasting and pureeing techniques I used for my New England Sugar Pie Pumpkins.

I was surprised again when I pulled the roasted squash out of the oven and the flesh had turned the most gorgeous deep gold. And the most heavenly, rich pumpkin aroma (no more cantaloupe smell).

OK…on to my recipe. This recipe is inspired by the one I used for YEARS (it came from the back of the can of a famous brand of commercially canned pumpkin). Yes, I did change it up. I don’t like my pumpkin pie too sweet so I cut the sugar a little bit. I also don’t care for quite so much ground cloves. I feel cloves are very strong and overtake the delicious pumpkin flavor; so, I use about 1/2 as much as the original recipe called for.

SewThankful Pumpkin Pie Ingredients:

  • Slightly less than 3/4 cup Granulated natural/unbleached Sugar (I remove about a tablespoon +/- from the 3/4 cup measure)
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon Ground ginger
  • Scant 1/8 Teaspoon Ground cloves (if you don’t have a 1/8 teaspoon, just eyeball about half of a 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups pumpkin (or winter squash) puree (or one 15 oz. can of commercial pumpkin puree)
  • 1 12 fl oz Can Evaporated Milk
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell (4-cup volume)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk together the dry ingredients: sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Mix well, making sure all ingredients are evenly distributed.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs. Then add puree and sugar/spice mixture. Next, slowly stir in the evaporated milk. Stir thoroughly, making sure everything is well mixed and evenly distributed.

Pour pumpkin filling into pie shell.

Bake pie at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for an additional 40 – 55 minutes or so. Test for done-ness by inserting a knife straight down near the center of the pie. The pie is done when the knife comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack for at least 2 hours, then chill in the refrigerator at least another 2 hours to over night before serving.

Optional Serving Suggestion: Top slices with a dollop of your favorite whipped cream, ice cream or other topping.

SewThankful Triple Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Moist, dense and DEEEEElicious! It’s got nutrition too.

Tis the season for zucchini. LOTS and LOTS of zucchini. This year, after several bountiful harvests, I was inspired to create a Triple Chocolate Zucchini Bread to help use up some of the “bounty”. Needless to say, it has been one of the most popular things I’ve ever made with Zucchini. Jeff asked me to make at least 10 more loaves to put in the freezer–yes, it freezes fabulously.

Recipe yields 2 loaves

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (or coconut oil)
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3.25 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • OPTIONAL INGREDIENT: 1 teaspoon espresso powder OR instant coffee. NOTE: Espresso powder OR instant coffee is OPTIONAL – but this ingredient adds another level of subtle, uniquely rich deliciousness. You can purchase espresso powder or make your own if you wish. There are lots of instructions online for how to make your own espresso powder. Choose your favorite browser and search away.
  • 4 cups shredded zucchini, packed (a little extra is OK)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate chips or milk chocolate chips, your preference)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS:

Prepare 2 loaf pans using your preferred method. (I use non-stick spray or butter depending on what I have on hand.)

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt butter until just barely melted (microwave or stovetop methods are both fine). Pour melted butter into a large bowl. Use a whisk, fork or wooden spoon to add brown sugar and stir well until the mixture is smooth. Stir in eggs, adding one at a time until each one is well incorporated.  NOTE: Do NOT add eggs before combining butter and brown sugar. Once you have combined the butter and brown sugar, make sure your butter/sugar mixture has cooled enough so that it does NOT cook the eggs. Stir in vanilla. Is everything evenly combined and smooth? If not, stir gently until it is.

In a medium size bowl, add all dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and espresso powder/ instant coffee. Use a fork or whisk to evenly combine all dry ingredients.

Pour dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients. Stir with wooden spoon or spatula until all ingredients are evenly combined but do not “over” stir. This mixture will be quite thick. Add zucchini, chocolate chips and white chips. Stir with wooden spoon or spatula just until evenly mixed.

Divide batter into the prepared loaf pans. Bake for 55 – 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean and batter-free. Note: melted chocolate chips can/will stick to the toothpick even if the loaf is done so pay close attention if your toothpick does not appear to be clean.

Allow loaves to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before turning them onto a cooling rack.

The bread tastes delicious when warm; but be advised that slicing it before it has completely cooled may result in lots of crumbling!

These LOAVES FREEZE very well and are good for up to 3 months or so. If you want to freeze your loaf/loaves, allow to cool completely then wrap snugly in plastic wrap then either place in a freezer bag and press out air or wrap foil securely over the plastic wrap.

Want to print print this recipe? Click here for the PDF

Fresh from the Garden: SewThankful Zucchini Breakfast Hash with Scrambled Eggs

My Favorite Summer Breakfast that’s also delicious for lunch or dinner!

INGREDIENTS:

1 or 2 small zucchini quartered length wise and chopped

1/4 cup diced onion

1 clove minced garlic

1 Tablespoon olive oil or butter

Salt & Pepper to taste

Optional: 1 or 2 slices of previously cooked bacon, crumbled

1 or 2 prepared scrambled eggs

Optional: 1 Tablespoon grated cheese (choose your favorite)

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oil or butter in a medium to large size heavy skillet over medium high heat.

Add onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic (don’t let the garlic burn).

Add chopped garlic.

Add chopped zucchini. Allow zucchini to cook until you see the edges turning golden brown then flip and allow the other side to cook just a couple minutes.

Add the OPTIONAL prepared, crumbled bacon. Allow to warm through .

Turn heat to low. Place previously prepared scrambled eggs on top of the hash. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover with lid for a couple minutes to allow eggs to come up to same temperature as has and for the cheese to melt.

Serve it up and enjoy!

OPTIONAL IDEAS: If you’ve got garden fresh tomatoes, dice one up and add it just before you put the bacon in. Toss lightly, allow to warm and then add bacon. Fresh/tender green beans and sliced mushrooms are also a nice addition. I like to cook my green beans and/or mushrooms with the onions and allow any liquid to cook off and them to begin caramelizing before adding the zucchini. The same goes for cabbage, kale, spinach or broccoli.

SewThankful Calabacitas (Zucchini) With Yellow Squash, Corn & Green Chile

One of our family’s favorite veggie dishes and it’s super easy to make. You may easily adjust up or down in quantity or tweak ingredients to suit your needs.

Ingredients:

2 or 3 Medium Size Zucchini sliced into 1/8th inch discs.

1 Medium Size Yellow Squash sliced into 1/8th inch discs. If you don’t have yellow squash, just add another zucchini.

1 small onion, diced

1 – 2 cloves of garlic smashed and finely diced (depending on how much you like garlic)

1 – 2 Medium Size Ears of COOKED Sweet Corn — left over grilled or flame roasted sweet corn is best but steamed or boiled is fine too–slice the corn off the cob(s), you’ll want to have approximately 1 – 1 1/2 cups. OR use approximately 1 – 1 1/2 cups of frozen sweet corn that has been cooked (microwaved corn works fine). Make sure the corn has been drained and is relatively dry.

1/2 cup chopped roasted green chile that is drained/relatively dry — you can substitute roasted bell pepper of any color if you don’t have green chile or don’t care for the heat.

OPTIONAL: 1/8 – 1/4 cup fresh grated Romano/Parmesan Cheese (or use your favorite cheese!)

2 Tablespoons Butter OR Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste if desired

DIRECTIONS:

In a large, heavy skillet (I like to use my largest cast iron skillet) heat butter or olive oil.

Saute onion until it begins to brown/caramelize. Add garlic and toss lightly. You don’t want to burn the garlic.

Turn up the heat a bit and add zucchini and yellow squash. You want to quickly brown the squash on one side before turning, tossing or stirring with out allowing it to become mushy. Once you’ve got a nice golden brown, turn, toss or gently stir to brown the other side of your zucchini & yellow squash.

Add the prepared corn and green chile or bell pepper. Keeping the heat up, quickly toss/stir gently to distribute all ingredients evenly. You just want to heat the corn & green chile (as it has been cooked previously) to the same temperature as your squash.

Remove from heat. Add Salt & Pepper to taste. Sprinkle the top with cheese and allow to melt.

Serve & ENJOY!