I Surrender! Let’s Pumpkin Spice ALLLL the Things!

Not really. Not all of them. For instance, while I was in Seattle, I saw this:

The gentleman behind the counter assured me it’s delicious, but I just can’t get on board. Sorry.

However, there is a time and place for pumpkin spice things, and in my humble opinion, breakfast is one of them. A pumpkin-y breakfast is a great way to start your day!

Did you know that 1 cup of mashed pumpkin contains 200% of your recommended daily Vitamin A? PLUS, it has beta-carotene, the stuff that makes it orange, which your magnificent body changes into even more Vitamin A. Know what Vitamin A is good for? Your eyeballs. Especially when they need to see in low light, say, when you’re waking up at 6am in the winter.

If you’re one of those people I don’t understand at all who gets right out of bed and goes to the gym, having some pumpkin in your post-work out breakfast can help replace some of the potassium you lost–even better than a banana!*

Anyhoots, what I’m saying is, eat some pumpkin in the morning. Do yourself a favor.

Maybe you could try these pumpkin polenta bars? They’re pretty easy to put together the night before, and one batch should last you at least a couple of days, and maybe all week, depending on how many people are eating breakfast at your place.

1 medium sized pot
1 saute pan
1 wooden spoon, for stirring
can opener
9×9 baking pan (you might call it a brownie pan)

1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups water
1 cup polenta (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 T cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar + 1 T for the topping
3/4 cup panko (I used honey panko, but regular is fine)
1/3 cup rough chopped walnuts or pecans
1 T butter + some to butter the pan

Preheat your oven to 350°. Butter the pan lightly all over the bottom and at least halfway up the sides. Set aside.

In your pot, combine the water and maple syrup and bring it to a boil. Add the polenta, sprinkling it in a bit at a time as you stir to avoid lumps.


When all the polenta has been incorporated, lower the heat to a simmer and stir for about 10 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon and sugar, and stir it all in well.

NOTES: 1) Polenta gets hot… like molten lava hot, so keep your heat low and don’t stand right in front of the pot or you’ll get splattered and that’s not fun. 2) Make sure you are stirring pretty constantly to avoid scorching. If you need to walk away from the pot for any length of time, go ahead and remove it from the heat until you can get back to it. The polenta will keep thickening without the heat. If you come back and it’s a little too thick, just add a little water back in to loosen it up and keep stirring until it’s cooked.


This isn’t an overly sweet breakfast bar, but at this point you can taste the polenta and adjust the sugar and cinnamon as you see fit. Continue stirring until the polenta is thick, but not stiff. It should still be loose enough to spread into your pan.

Pour the polenta into your buttered pan and spread it around to even out the thickness. Set aside.

In your saute pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium low heat until the bubbles have subsided and it just starts to brown. Add the panko, the nuts, and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and stir to combine with the butter. You’re basically just trying to toast the panko and the nuts slightly.


Top the polenta with the panko mixture, and pop it into the oven for 15 minutes.


The polenta won’t brown. You’re basically baking it to set it up so it can be cut into bars.

Take it out of the oven, let it cool, cut it into squares, and viola! Portable Pumpkin Polenta!


*Source: Huffington Post 

Polenta Cakes with Pancetta, Oven Roasted Green Beans and Cherry-Black Pepper Syrup


If you’ve never tried making polenta, now’s the time! 

I think polenta is one of those things that either 1) sounds way more difficult than it really is or 2) sounds like it might just taste like nothing. After all, it’s just ground cornmeal, right?

Not so, my friends. Not so! Give this recipe a shot and take your taste buds on a little adventure.

(p.s. Did you know polenta is gluten free? Just in case that’s a little extra enticement for you.)

Polenta Cakes
3 C chicken stock                
1 C yellow cornmeal                                                                      
Four ¼” slices Pancetta, chopped                                            
2 T unsalted butter                                                                           
2 tsp salt     
2 T all purpose flour                                                                       
1 T olive oil

Medium sauce pot
Mixing spoon    
Measuring cups and spoons
Baking pan
Large skillet

In a large skillet, fry the chopped pancetta over medium heat until crisp. Transfer the cooked pancetta to a paper towel lined bowl and set aside. Reserve 1 T of the rendered fat.

Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the salt. Whisk the cornmeal in gradually, then reduce the heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is soft and tender. Stir often. When the polenta is fully cooked, remove from the heat and add 2 T of the cooked pancetta and the butter. Stir until the butter is melted.

Pour the hot polenta into a baking pan. Spread it out in the pan until it’s about ¾” thick. Allow the polenta to firm up in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

When firm, cut the polenta into four 4” circles. Dredge lightly on all sides with flour, and fry in the reserved pancetta fat and 1 T of olive oil until golden brown on both sides.

Oven Roasted Green Beans
1 lb fresh green beans, ends trimmed                                  
1 tsp sea salt                                                                          
2 T olive oil                                                                            

Baking Sheet
Large bowl

Preheat oven to 400°. Toss the trimmed green beans with the salt and olive oil in a bowl until the green beans are well coated. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet and roast for 14 minutes, stirring halfway through for even browning.

Cherry-Black Pepper Syrup

1/2 C Pure cherry juice 
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper            

Measuring cups & spoons
Small sauce pot

Bring the cherry juice to a boil. Lower the heat to medium low and add the black pepper. Reduce the liquid by half, or until thickened and syrupy. Keep over very low heat until ready to serve.

Place each polenta cake in the center of a small plate. Arrange 6-8 green beans on top. Drizzle the cherry-black pepper syrup over each polenta cake and around plate, then sprinkle ½ tablespoon of the remaining cooked pancetta around the plate to garnish.