Carolyn’s Pumpkin Harvest Pilaf

“Finally pumpkin season” ….. words spoken by my sister every Autumn as she anxiously awaits indulging in pumpkin desserts, pumpkin coffee drinks, pumpkin anything. My sister LOVES pumpkin!! So this year I decided to create a recipe in her honor. Something healthy, hearty and out of this world …..

As I was making this recipe, I had the windows open and felt the Fall breeze in my kitchen. I watched the colorful leaves gently falling to the ground. I heard the neighbors outside saying, “oh, someone is cooking something delicious” …… They were standing right by MY window, so I guess that someone was me ūüėČ

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!!

Carolyn's Pumpkin Harvest Pilaf

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1 Hour
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • One Sugar-pie pumpkin
  • 1 cup wild rice blend
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken broth (for vegetarian, use veggie broth)
  • 1/3 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons pumpkin spice blend

Pumpkin Spice Blend:

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Blend all ingredients and set aside

Cook rice and broth per package instructions. Set aside.

Poke a few holes in the top of your pumpkin. Microwave for three minutes to soften the shell. Let cool for one minute then use a sharp knife to cut the pumpkin in half side-to-side. Scoop out the pulp and seeds from the center.

Take the top half, using a potato peeler, peel off the outer shell of the pumpkin. Chop into small square pieces.

Clean out as much of the pumpkin squash from the bottom half, being careful not to break the shell (this way you can use it as a bowl).. Put the pulp aside for later use in a smoothie or bowl of soup.

Turn oven on .. 425 degrees.

Coat the squared pumpkin pieces with one tablespoon melted butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove pumpkin from oven and stir. Add the walnuts next to the pumpkin and place back into the oven for 4 more minutes.

Add to a large bowl: cooked rice, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons pumpkin spice, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds. Toss gently.

Add toasted pumpkin and walnuts to the rice mixture and toss one more time. Serve


Step By Step:

Poke a few holes in the top of your pumpkin. Microwave for three minutes to soften the shell.

Let cool for one minute then use a sharp knife to cut the pumpkin in half (make the bottom half a little bigger so it can be used as a bowl later). Scoop out the pulp and seeds from the center.

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Take the top half, using a potato peeler, peel off the outer shell of the pumpkin. This is fairly easy since the microwave softened the skin.

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Chop into small square pieces.

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Clean out as much of the pumpkin from the bottom half, being careful not to break the shell (this way you can use it as a bowl).. Put the pulp aside for later use in a smoothie or bowl of soup.

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Turn oven onto 425 degrees.

Coat the squared pumpkin with one tablespoon melted butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Put onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes.

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Remove pumpkin from oven and stir. Add the walnuts next to the pumpkin and place back into the oven for 4 more minutes.

Add to a large bowl: cooked rice, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons pumpkin seasoning, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds. Toss gently.

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Add toasted pumpkin and walnuts to the rice mixture. Serve

*somehow, I was so enthralled in creating this recipe, mouth watering and tummy growling ……… I missed a few photos. SO, we jump from raw pumpkin squares to the final product!!

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Ta-daaaaaaaaaaaaah

Here’s to all you pumpkin-lovers out there. May you fill your kitchen with the delicious aroma of Pumpkin pie spices and cranberries. May your neighbors wish they were having dinner with you ….

Enjoy! Thanks for stopping by everyone.

Peace in the Midst of the Storm

During a recent church sermon I heard a story about a painting contest promoted by a man who sought the perfect picture of Peace. The artists were told to paint whatever they felt would portray “Peace”. Some artists painted serene landscapes with sunsets and fields of beautiful flowers. Another painted a still quiet lake with a reflection clear as glass.

Each was amazing and beautiful, but when the winner was unveiled, everyone gasped in disbelief. The title of the winning painting was “Peace in the Midst of the Storm”.

peace in the storm

Painting credit Jack E. Dawson

At first glance, the painting looks anything but peaceful. Black clouds and lightning cover the sky. Waves crash down a jagged rocky hillside with raging waters below. How could this be peaceful?

Now take a closer look at the photo. Just beneath the water falls (and just above the river of water) you will notice a bird with her nest of babies tucked underneath the edge of a rock. In the midst of a giant storm, this bird found a sanctuary, a safe place to rest her wings.

A true portrayal of peace.

Can you imagine the bird trying to fly through that storm, crashing into waves, being blown out of control.  Ridiculous right?

Our lives, as we scramble through our days, can be compared to the bird trying to fly through that storm. We fight through traffic. We struggle to get all our tasks done. We become totally stressed over all the “little stuff” that never goes our way.

Now look at the painting again. Just as the bird found refuge under a rock, so can we find refuge in Christ.

Imagine all the troubles in your life being shielded by a rock, feeling just as peaceful as the bird in the painting. Did you know the bible says that the Lord is OUR rock?

Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, my horn of salvation, and my high tower.

How amazing!!!!

That means He will shield us and protect us from all the troubles in our life. When we put our faith and trust in the Lord most high, He will guide our steps (Psalm 37:23), heal our wounds (Jeremiah 30:17), and carry our burdens (Psalm 55:22). He will protect us from the storms of life (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

Even if you feel like you are being beaten down by the storm right now, do not lose faith. The bible says (Romans 8:28) that God will work everything out for the good, according to His plan.

What types of storms are you surrounded with today? The storm of finances, health difficulties, relationship troubles, insecurities?

Heavenly Father above, I pray that whomever is reading this today will find refuge in your love, in your Holy power, in your strength and wisdom. No matter what the struggle or storm Lord, I pray that you send your healing hand down from heaven and  create a shield (like that cliff protecting the bird). Touch the heart and mind of everyone involved and create a path to peace. Thank you Lord Jesus, In your name we pray. Amen.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 16:33¬†“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

 This story comes from the book A Wardrobe From the King written by Berit Kjos.  (pp. 45-46).

Credit for the painting goes to Jack E. Dawson. Check out his website and other works of art HERE.

 

To Be A Witness For Christ Or Not

“To be a witness for Christ or not” is a question that many of us Christians ponder. We’re placed in situations where we see someone struggling and we just “know that we know” Jesus is the answer, yet something holds us back from speaking God into someone’s life.

We don’t want to feel judged for talking about God to someone who might not believe. We worry that someone will be confrontational and we’ll end up in a debate situation defending our faith. We don’t have time. ¬†These are just some of the reasons I’ve played in my mind.

This happened to me yesterday as I was getting my teeth cleaned. The hygienist began telling me of her life challenges. Her mother had fallen and broke her neck leaving her with irreparable brain damage. She fell in love with a man that had severe mental issues and was hospitalized for a nervous breakdown. She went on to tell me how she loved her lost boyfriend but also hated him, how she missed him but couldn’t stand certain aspects of him.

I began thinking about my life and how I had experienced similar difficulties, yet made it through all of them with the power of prayer. Then I felt a tug on my heart from God, telling me to minister to her and tell my story.

Have you ever felt that nudge to be a witness for God, ¬†but then felt awkward because the timing or situation didn’t seem right? ….. That was me!!! …. I had JUST met this gal, had no idea if she was a Christian, AND she had sharp metal tools in my mouth!!

Despite my reservations, I kept getting that nudge from God and I wanted to be faithful.

I began to tell my hygienist how God has a plan for each of us.   I acknowledged her sorrow and explained that God would introduce her to a wonderful man, in His timing.

Then I shared about my period of loneliness and how I finally met my husband. It wasn’t through a friend, a chance meeting in the grocery store, or by “trying” to find one.¬†It was through a specific ¬†prayer, long waiting, and trusting that God was orchestrating a perfect plan.

For TWO long years I prayed this prayer:

“Heavenly Father, you know my heart and you know I am lonely. I know I’m not ready for a healthy relationship right now, but God I am asking you to help me BE ready. Prepare my mind and heart. And prepare the mind and heart of the man you have waiting for me. God I trust Your will in my life and if I have to be lonely for a longer period, I will wait because I know your plan is perfect………….”

Long story short, my prayer was finally answered and God brought me a man that was exactly what I prayed for. It didn’t happen over night though. I prayed and waited. I cried. Sometimes I felt hopeless. But the more I leaned on God for the things I needed (companionship, guidance, wisdom), the more healthy I became. I learned patience. I learned to trust in God’s almighty plan. ¬†And I learned to love myself.

I was telling her this story because I wanted her to know that God¬†would bring just the right man into her life when she was ‚Äúready‚ÄĚ ……. and that maybe her plans didn’t work out because God had a better, more divine plan for her life. I suggested she pray¬†for guidance, for truth and understanding, and then trust God to do the rest.

My decision to minister to her was confirmed as the right decision when she looked at me and said,¬†“you know, that is exactly what my mom told me before her brain injury”. She told me that her mother could no longer carry on conversations like that with her and my words (from God) were just what she needed to hear. With a tear in her eye, she thanked me and then gave me a hug.

To be a witness for Christ or not?  Absolutely!!

God will put us in situations to minister to people, to be the answer to someone’s prayer, to speak words of love/faith/compassion to someone hurting. All we need to do is have a willing heart to be God’s vessel.

We need to press beyond those thoughts ¬†telling us the timing isn’t right or those fears telling us we will be judged.¬†People are hurting and we may be the only person in someone’s life to speak Godly wisdom.

(I wonder how many opportunities I’ve missed, to be a witness for Christ because I was afraid of what someone might think?)

Psalm 96:3 Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!

Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Please comment below how you’ve been able to witness to the people around you (I would LOVE to hear your stories!)