Updated Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf

Last fall I happened upon an amazing recipe for Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf.  This recipe was one of my favorite fall treats.  I set out to make it again, but decided to change it up a little.  The results did not disappoint.  I used dark chocolate cocoa in place of the regular cocoa & cut back the sugar.  Here is the updated recipe:


*Recipe courtesy of Carrots’n’Cake, modified to be gluten-free by me


1 1/4 cups flour (I used Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix, but you could use any GF Flour Mix, just make sure to add xanthan gum if you mix doesn’t have it already)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup liquid egg whites
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 can (7.5 ounces) pumpkin
3/4 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325*F. Grease loaf pan (I used Pam).

2. Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl; blend well.

3. Once mixed, pour batter into loaf pan.

4. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until top is firm and a toothpick comes out clean. (I did 47 minutes)

5. Allow loaf to cool for 15 minutes; dust with powdered sugar (if desired).



I am going to have to hide some of this and quick.  Jon oohed & aahed over it last night and had some more for breakfast.  Do you think it would be okay to have it for lunch?  Perhaps I’ll spread some almond butter on it!  YUM!



28 Random Things

Across the blogosphere this past week, I saw this on a couple of different blogs.  It has been a while since I have done one, so why not now?  I know there are some new readers out there, so now is the time to learn some mostly useless info about me, though you may want to keep this to use against me one day. 😉  LOL!

1.  I was born in Newport, Rhode Island.  My Dad was in the Navy and my parents were stationed in Newport.

2.  I played violin as a child.  I was 2nd chair.  I couldn’t play now if you paid me!

3.  Until about a year ago, I never ate fruit.  My Mom didn’t serve us fruit growing up because she didn’t eat it.  She now loves it, as do I.  I feed my kids fruit at least once a day, if not at every meal. 

4.  I had posters of Jon Bon Jovi plastering my bedroom walls as a teenager.  My Uncle used to call my bedroom the “Bon Jovi Museum”. 

5.  I was extremely shy as a child.  You would never know that now.  I can’t shut up.

6.    Even though I am not nearly as shy as I was as a child, there are still some situations that make me nervous & very quiet until I can feel things out.

7.  I don’t like change. 

8.  I like predictability.

9.  I am a planner.  Flying by the seat of my pants makes me a bit nuts. 

10.  I am a touch overprotective of my children.  Some people would say that I am more than a touch overprotective. 

11.  I had thyroid surgery when I was 5 because I couldn’t swallow this huge horse pill that I needed to swallow for the drs to be able to do a test.  My thyroid was enlarged & they needed to figure out why. 

12.  I love experiencing the change of seasons living in Ohio, but I despise the cold.  What I would give to have the weather be 72 & sunny every day.

13.  I was never really an ice cream eater until I was pregnant with Hannah.   When I was pregnant with Hannah I ate Edy’s Double Fudge Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream almost every night for the last 6 months of my pregnancy.  Perhaps that can account for my gain of 75+ pounds while pregnant with her? 

14.  My Dad was a runner when I was a child.  We always went to his races no matter what the weather.  I distinctly remember thinking that running was the dumbest sport and who would ever want to do it.  Here I am at 36 getting ready to run my first half marathon and hopefully training for a full marathon in May 2010.  Funny how things work, huh?

15. My sister & I fought like cats & dogs as kids.  She hit me upside the head with a shoe when I was asleep once.  I punched her in the face once when I only mean to pretend punch her.  She is now my best friend.  I don’t know what I would do without her. 

16. I love to read and wish I had more time to do it.

17.  I am deathly afraid of heights.

18.  I love to watch hockey, especially when my son is playing.

19.  My husband was my first boyfriend that I dated longer than a few months.  I am glad I did.  😉

20.  I used to eat Wendy’s french fries dipped a Frosty for snack after school when I was in high school.

21.  I saw Annie on Broadway when I was a kid.  We lived in New Jersey from the time I was 8 until I was 12.  That was the coolest thing!

22.  Speaking of New Jersey, one Thanksgiving we went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC.  It was so cold!!  I remember just wanting to go back home to be warm!

23.  I am sitting in my house with my fleece jacket on.  Remember how I said I hate being cold? 

24.  I have selective OCD.  LOL!  Certain things have to be a certain way.  Other things?  Not so much. 

25.  My first concert ever was a Willie Nelson concert.  Thanks Mom & Dad. 🙂  My favorite has been the multiple Bon Jovi concerts that I have been to over the years. 

26.  I have lived in 4 different states: Rhode Island, Ohio, Texas & New Jersey.  I have  been in Ohio for the past 24 years. 

27.  I drive a 2007 Honda Odyssey.  Yet another thing I said I would never do – drive a minivan.  I should probably start to say things like “I will never win the lottery” since several things I said I would never do, I now do.

28.  I love my life & wouldn’t change a thing about it. 


Feel free to post yours in the comments or on your blog! 



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Product Review: Emergen-C

With cold & flu season knocking at the door, these samples came right at the right time!  I had forgotten that I had signed up for them, but was glad when they arrived.  Extra Vitamin C is a very good thing this time of year. 


The first packet I tried was the Cherry-Pomegranate.  This package was actually a multi-vitamin plus extra vitamin C and other vitamins.  I mixed the powder with about 4 oz of cold water.  It was super fizzy! 



The taste was very pleasant & not too strong.  It did remind me a little bit of the Flintstones Chewables that I took as a kid & when I was pregnant with my daughter.  Nothing wrong with that!  😉 


The Pink Lemonade flavor didn’t taste much different from the Cherry-Pomegranate.  This one wasn’t a multi-vitamin, though, just the 1000mg of vitamin C and some other vitamins & minerals. 

All of the Emergen-C products are gluten-free and safe for Celiacs.  You  can find Emergen-C in your grocery or drug stores.  I did see it at Trader Joe’s the other day and if I remember correctly, it was only $7.99 there, cheaper than the grocery store.  You can also find the Emergen-C products on Amazon.com


While I am chatting about vitamins, I have had low vitamin D for the past 9-10 months, or longer (I hadn’t been tested previously).  I had been taking 2000 IU/day in a capsule form, but they were bothering my stomach.  So when I found a sample of Caltrate 600-D Chewables at my doctors office, I picked them up.  I called to verify they are gluten-free and tried them out.  The flavor is not fantastic and they are a little chalky, but hey, it is a vitamin, not a piece of specialty candy, right?  Most important part….they are gluten-free and didn’t bother my stomach! 



Don’t forget to take your calcium & vitamin D, ladies!!  Also, keep your immune systems healthy this flu season by eating healthy & taking your vitamins!  Also, getting the proper amounts of rest is really important, too. 


Baked Ziti – Gluten-free

My family loves Italian food, so what better dish than Baked Ziti for a great fall meal?  This recipe is so simple and the results are so flavorful.  It is also a great meal to make and then freeze half of for a later date when you are in a hurry.  I found the base recipe on Allrecipes.com and modified it to be gluten-free. 


  • 1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta (I used Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Penne Pasta)
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese (part skim)
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese (I used a little less than a pound -that was all I had left)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce (I used Prego Three Cheese – verified gluten-free)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

    1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook for 7-8 minutes (you want it to be a little undercooked so it doesn’t get mushy in the baking process; drain and rinse.
    2. In a medium bowl, mix ziti, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg and 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce.
    3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
    4. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and spoon in ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce, followed by Parmesan cheese.
    5. Bake covered in preheated oven for 30 -40 minutes; broil uncovered for 5 or so minutes; let stand for 15 minutes before serving.



    Jon said that he liked this better than lasagna!!!  That is quite the compliment, as he is always asking for lasagna.  Don’t tell him, but this dish is much simpler to put together. 

    I think it would be great to toss some roasted veggies in with this….mushrooms, zucchini, squash and tomatoes.  My family would refuse to eat it, but I would love it! 😉 


    Don’t forget to enter my Febreeze Home Collection giveaway!  You have until Wednesday at midnight!


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    Febreeze Product Review & a Giveaway!!

    I was lucky enough to receive a great kit to review by Febreeze Home Collection and MyBlogSpark.  I love fun new scents, so I was especially excited to review this kit.  Giveaway information is down past the review. 🙂


    I received the following products:

    • Green Tea & Citrus Flameless Luminary and three refill shades (Pomegranate Mango, Cranberry Pear & Willow Blossom), to let a flickering light shine through to accent your room with scent and style. 
    • Green Tea & Citrus Soy Blend Candle, which has a soft glow and releases the premium fragrance into the air as the candle slowly burns
    • Green Tea & Citrus Room Spray, available in an easy, yet stylish spray canister
    • Green Tea & Citrus Diffuser, to add a stylish and aromatic touch to the air with scented oils

    I loved the idea of the flameless luminary because I have young kids or really, just kids in general who don’t always pay attention.  I can get the same effect as a lit, flickering candle without the danger of someone getting burnt or my house burning down.  😉  The Green Tea & Citrus scent is nice, but I prefer the Cranberry Pear. 


    The candle emits a nice amount of scent, but it not overpowering.  It seemed to burn evenly each time I lit it.  I like the decorative glass & wooden lid that comes with the candle.  You can use the lid as a base as well.


    The room spray is a bit overpowering at first, but definitely helps rid the area of any odor that was there.  I am thinking about using this for Jon’s hockey bag, though I am not sure he will appreciate that.  LOL!  One thing I did like is that you don’t have to spray a whole lot to get the effect you are looking for. 


    I placed the reed diffuser in our bedroom.  I don’t like to light candles in the bedroom because I am afraid I will fall asleep with them lit.  I also haven’t had much luck with the plug-ins, as the scent seems to disappear after a couple of days.  I was happy with this reed diffuser.  The scent is not overpowering & is subtle enough to be able to tell there is a pleasant scent present. The one thing I didn’t like was that wooden lid doesn’t really attach to the glass….it just sits on top of the glass.  This could be a potential hazard for those with kids.  I made sure to put mine out of reach of the ones who don’t know better. 


    Now for the fun part!  Are you ready????  Febreeze & MyBlogSpark have given me a $20 Walmart gift card to give away!  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and tell me how you would use the Febreeze Home Collection to spruce up a room (or hockey bag 😉 ).  This contest will end Wednesday, October 6, 2009 at midnight! I will choose a winner first thing on Thursday morning.  You can find coupons for Febreeze products here.



    Weekly Menu Plan ~ October 4, 2009

    October is here and so is the chilly weather!  We had lows in the mid-30s the other night!  Nice layer of frost on the ground when we got up.  I actually covered up my basil plant outside to protect it from freezing.  I need to harvest those leaves and make some pesto this week. 

    Hockey conditioning started this weekend.  Hockey will now go through March and into early April and then the recreation 3-on-3 league that Jon plays on starts up and lasts through June.  Couple that with Jon refereeing hockey now and Hannah’s gymnastics & skating and you have one crazy set of parents! 

    On top of the busyness, I have been feeling very blah for the past few days.  Not sure what is going on, but my head has been killing me.  It feels like it is sinus related, but none of my usual tricks are helping.  I also have no energy.  My half-marathon is 2 weeks from today, so whatever the issue is, it better stop!  LOL! 

    Onto the week. 

    Sunday – Rotisserie Chicken, red quinoa, asparagus & salad

    Monday – Grilled Chicken Breast, roasted kabocha squash, broccoli & salad

    Tuesday – Spaghetti with marinara, green beans & salad

    Wednesday – Burgers (veggie or turkey for me), sweet potato fries, carrots & salad

    Thursday – Herb roasted pork (didn’t make last week), parmesan potatoes, veggie & salad

    Friday – Leftovers or breakfast for dinner

    Saturday – boys are on their own…Hannah & I having a secret girl’s night.  🙂

    Baked Goods

    Pamela’s Bread

    Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf (a variation on the one I made last year…see pic below)

    Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

    Manda at Asparagus Thin is hosting this week’s Gluten-free Menu Swap.  The theme this week is super foods.  One of the super foods I have been incorporating more & more into my diet is coconut & coconut products.  You can see my review of Tropical Traditions virgin coconut oil here and Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream here (though I wonder if that qualifies as a super food?). 

    Also, make sure to check out Orgjunkie for tons more meal planning ideas.

    I hope you all have a great week!  Make sure to check in tomorrow….I have a fun giveaway that will be up tomorrow!!! 

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    Product Review: Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil

    I received a great book & jar of virgin coconut oil from Tropical Traditions not too long ago. I had never cooked with coconut oil before, so I was a little intimidated at first.  But, as with all new, gluten-free products, I go in with an open mind.  I just decided to jump right in & begin experimenting. 

    First, I read the book that was sent along.  It is called “Virgin Coconut Oil” written by Brian & Marianita Jade Shilhavy.  This books talks a lot about the health benefits & healing powers of virgin coconut oil.  From the website:

    Virgin Coconut Oil: How it has changed people’s lives, and how it can change yours!! is the most practical book written on the health benefits of coconut oil. Based on years of research and the experience of Brian and Marianita Shilhavy, this book documents how tropical cultures eating a diet high in the saturated fat of coconut oil enjoy long healthy lives. It also shows how a premium Virgin Coconut Oil has changed thousands of lives outside the tropics.

    First I used the virgin coconut oil in place of olive oil when roasting vegetables like eggplant or zucchini.  You may also have seen me use it in a few recipes lately on my blog, such as:  Super-Charge Me Cookies or Cocoa Coconut Chili.  I really enjoyed the foods that I made using the virgin coconut oil and see myself continuing to use it in the future.  There is another recipe in the book that I am anxious to try – Coconut Cream Cheese Squares.  That recipe uses coconut flour and coconut oil.  I need to go through my stash of gluten-free flours before I am permitting myself to buy anymore.  Remember the pantry?

    You can order the virgin coconut oil straight from Tropical Traditions.  You can see their weekly sales here.  On top of a great product, Tropical Traditions also has great customer service.  My coconut oil was damaged & lost during shipping.  I called them upon receipt of my package and they immediately sent a new package out. 



    More Betty Crocker Gluten-free Fun

    I have experimented with all of the Betty Crocker gluten-free mixes now.  I love or like them all.  Not only are they super convenient, but they taste good.  Good enough to satisfy those who don’t have to eat gluten-free, too. 

    I got out my stick of butter to soften to make the chocolate chip cookies yesterday around lunch time.  Come 3 o’clock, I had no desire to make them.  Figures.  Well, I decided to make them, but instead of forming into individual cookies, I pressed the dough into a glass Pyrex dish (9 x 11 approximately) and baked.  They did take a bit longer to bake, but I just made sure to keep a close eye towards the end.  They turned out great!!


    Jon was whining at first that he only liked “cookies”.  I told him that he didn’t have to eat these if he didn’t want to.  LOL!  Funny, I caught him moaning & groaning over one after dinner.  Guess he didn’t like them. 😉 

    This is a great treat to make for a potluck or child’s class party.  Quick & easy. 


    Product Review: Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream

    I had the pleasure of trying out some of the So Delicious/Purely Decadent Coconut Milk frozen treats & ice cream. I received some coupons in the mail and set out to choose my treats.  🙂

    I selected 4 different frozen treats to sample.  I will go through them and share my opinion on each one.

    So Delicious Coconut Almond MinisThese were amazing.  A++++  Basically it was coconut ice cream on a stick that was coated with chocolate & almonds.  Heaven!  Dairy free and sweetened with agave.  The only con about these treats?  Not enough of them in the box!  LOL!  There are only 4. 

    Purely Decadent Mocha Almond FudgeThis ice cream is coconut milk based and had a great flavor.  Big pieces of almonds throughout and a decent amount of fiber per serving (5 grams).  I would definitely purchase this again.  Dairy free. 


    Purely Decadent Coconut Ice Cream-  A great coconut flavor ice cream.  Perfect for using as a topping for brownies, cakes, pies or cookies.  Also good to add fruit to for a boost in nutrition.  Creamy texture.  Dairy & soy free. 

    Purely Decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream This ice cream reminds me of a Reese’s Cup!  YUM!!  Big chunks of peanut butter throughout the chocolate ice cream.  Wonderful taste & texture.  A great way to finish off your day.  Dairy free.

    I am also interested in trying the Coconut Milk and the Coconut Milk Yogurt, but was unable to find them in my store (or I was looking the wrong spot). 

    Great products from Turtle Mountain.  A little on the pricey side, but you can get some coupons from their site.  Just go to their home page by clicking on the link above and then click on “rewards”.  You can get to the coupons from there. 



    Just wanted to post a quick teaser for you all….I have been chatting with a nice woman from Accent Furniture about reviewing & giving away some great cookware/bakeware from their website.  I am so excited about this, I can’t even begin to tell you.  I can’t tell you what the item(s) are yet, you will just have to wait & see! 


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