Celebrating Fall And Everything Pumpkin in Halton

Get Inspired By Exoloring Food, Drink, and Pumpkins Along Halton's Pumpkin Trail

Celebrating Fall And Everything Pumpkin in Halton

Halton Pumpkin Trail

When the cool autumn air begins to set in and the trees begin to turn colour my mind automatically goes to getting my family outside in warm sweaters to enjoy the sights and smells of fall and of course the comfort foods to warm us up when we come inside.

The launch of Halton's first ever Pumpkin Trail gave me an opportunity to do just that!

By launch, I mean an amazing inaugural event called Harvest Halton that offers a true farm to chef experience celebrating amazing local chefs, seasonal local food and some very tasty beverages.

It was the perfect snapshot of what Halton's Pumpkin Trail experience is all about.

The Pumpkin Trail runs until October 31 so if you live in and around Halton (which includes Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton, and Oakville) be sure to pick up a self-guided tour map or visit TheHeartOfOntario.com and enjoy a build-your-own-go-at-your-own-speed-fun-for-all-ages pumpkin experience featuring farmers' markets, restaurants, shopping, accommodations, and local attractions.

So whether you're looking for an afternoon out with the kids or a weekend romantic getaway here's just a snapshot of what you can expect along the Pumpkin Trail.

I knew it was going to be fun and fall-weather-perfect when we were greeted with this sign (I mean who doesn't love an autumn wagon ride!).

Within a few short wagon ride minutes we were enjoying with the smells of something yummy roasting on a huge outdoor spit.

We sampled so many yummy foods but some of our favourites included the Red Canoe Bistro's White Bean and Pumpkin Casoulet that went along with their spit roasted pork and their local Apple Slaw that went with their lamb. The "sides" were so good they stole the show and I plan on reproducing both of them Canned-Soup-Mom-style soon.

For dessert my husband and I may have shared two full portions of Chef Adam Mackay's White Wine and Honey Poached Pears with Maple Mousse and Blue Cheese Short Bread Crumble. I know for a fact he spent days peeling and slicing over 400 local pears for this dish then soaked them in wine and honey but the effort was worth it because the results were amazing. I am contemplating a slow cooker version... stay tuned!

If you enjoy Ontario wine, ciders and beers (including Pumpkin Beer!) then you will not be disappointed with what Halton's Pumpkin Trail has to offer.

Personally, I was happy find a new favourite Pinot Noir thanks to the Bosc Family's new Earth & Sky.

Then there were the farmers. I was introduced and fell in love with Hornby Apiaries Ontario Honey produced by "The Robertson Family Bees" and Marshall's farmers.

I must have sampled all of Marshall's farm fresh veggies and preserves and purchased some amazing items that will help inspire me in the kitchen.

So often I find myself looking online for cooking inspiration, but when I get out to local farmers' markets and events like the Pumpkin Trail I know that what's literally growing in my community can help me create healthy, fancy and still easy kitchen creations.

This October I hope you all have the opportunity to get out and get inspired with food and fall and stay tuned for more recipes from my kitchen inspired by the chefs and farmers I found along the Pumpkin Trail.



Butternut Squash Cheeseless Mac And Cheese

What I Learned Behind The Scenes With Campbell Canada At In The Kitch

Butternut Squash Cheeseless Mac And Cheese

Butternut Squash Baked Mac And Cheese Without The Cheese
Recently, the wonderful people at Campbell Canada invited me to a behind-the-scenes taping of In the Kitch with Chef Jo Lusted. To say it was an eye-opening experience is an understatement. 
Once in a while I like to fancy myself a food blogger which means I am fairly accustomed to producing food, photographing in stages, and considering angles and lighting while I am trying not to burn whatever is in the pot.
But shooting for television? That's a totally different ball game! Between hair, make-up, cameramen, producers, assistant producers, food stylists and others there were almost 20 people standing around a studio kitchen to make a short television spot featuring a yummy flank steak with a cream sauce made with—of course—Campbell's First Stock Cream Stock.
First and foremost, I laughed on a few occasions about all the stopping and starting and re-shooting and re-angling and re-styling (Chef Jo AND the food!) because that wouldn't last one second in my kitchen. Like most mom food bloggers I'm blogging what I'm feeding my family so I'm lucky if I get two whole minutes to prep, style, and photograph my own creations (usually it's my husband's portion and he's just slightly more patient than the kids — love that man!).
Also, if we were shooting video while I was cooking, the producers would have tons of fun shooshing or editing out the "Mom I'm staaaarrrvvvviiing" or "Mom he's not sharing" or "Mom where's my dance bag" from the background. Truly, I think the In the Kitch crew should come to my house and see what really happens while we're cooking for our families!
While I sat behind monitors and producers debating which hand Chef Jo should use to pour ingredients into the pan I had an opportunity to talk a bit to the people from Campbell Canada about stocks and broths and when you add in cream stock and it can get a tad confusing. 
What I learned is that stocks are best used for deglazing, braising, making sauces, and also as basting liquids. Broths are best used as a substitute for water when simmering potatoes, rice or vegetables and also when making homemade soups.
But what about Campbell's First Stock Cream Stock? I learned it can really be used in any cream sauce or as a substitute for cream when cooking those yummy comfort foods.
Which gave me an idea.
I've been trying to come up with a way to make Butternut Squash Cheese-less Mac and Cheese in a kid-friendly way without losing any of the flavour. Many of the ingredients I've seen added to give it a bit of a kick are things my kids could sniff out a mile away and turn their noses up at before I even got it to the table.
I decided to substitute the cream I was planning to use for cream stock and see what happened.


Simply saute your butter and garlic.

Add your cream stock.

Add in your flour, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Whisk until combined.

Blend your sauce and squash together.

Pour back in the pan and simmer.

Toss in cooked pasta and stir until coated then pour into casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Top with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.

Bake and enjoy!

My kids didn't even know it wasn't cheese!


1 cup roasted butternut squash (see "how to" below)
1 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup Campbell's First Stock Cream Stock
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt (or other coarse salt) and pepper to taste
1 450g box short pasta (I used rotini)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese


How to roast Butternut Squash: Peel and chop squash (carefully!). Place in large casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Toss with olive oil and sea salt and roast for approx. 40-45 minutes in pre-heated 425F oven. If you don't have time to roast a squash, simply pick up pre-packaged ready for the microwave squash (my grocery store keeps them in the same cooler as the pre-packaged salads and refrigerated salad dressings).

  Cook pasta according to package directions.

  In saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and saute approximately 1 to 2 minutes.

  Add in cream stock and flour and whisk until combined.

  Add in mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper, whisk until combined.

  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  Add squash and cheese sauce (careful it's hot!) to blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

  Place sauce back in pan, add cooked and drained pasta and stir until coated (Note: you can stop here and just enjoy as is or you can make the crunchy top as follows).

  Pour into casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and top with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.

  Bake in preheated 350F oven for 15-20 minutes until top is brown and sauce is bubbly.


Inspired By Oh She Glows.





The Easiest Way To Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Make Them Sweet Or Salty With These Easy Directions

The Easiest Way To Roast Pumpkin Seeds

roasted pumpkin seeds
The hardest thing about roasting pumpkin seeds is pulling each of the individual seeds out of the pumpkin, getting all the pumpkin goo off of them, then rinsing and patting dry. But when you're done that part making a yummy Roasted Pumpkin Seed snack is easier than you think!
I know this because last year I volunteered in my son's kindergarten class to help carve pumpkins with 28 four and five year olds and roast the seeds that came out of their pumpkins as a healthy afternoon snack.
The kids pulled out the goo, we carved the pumpkins then we set upon the task of sorting pumpkin seeds from pumpkin goo and then came the washing and the drying.
I think we did ten pumpkins worth and it took a loooonnng time. But once we had our big pile of pumpkin seeds the roasting part was easy.
For Salty:
2 cups pumpkin seeds (cleaned, rinsed and patted dry)
1 1/2 to 2 tbsp. olive oil
1-2 tsp. sea salt or other coarse salt
For Sweet:
2 cups pumpkin seeds (cleaned, rinsed and patted dry)
2 to 3 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. brown sugar
  Put all of your ingredients in a bowl and toss until coated.
  Spread pumpkin seeds into a single layer on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment.
  Bake in pre-heated 325F oven for 25-35 minutes until seeds begin to brown. I like to flip my pumpkin seeds over at the half way point for even roasting.
Note: Some of my friends leave their pumpkin seeds on the baking sheet to dry overnight. I've never been able to wait that long but I'm told it helps make sure they're nice and crispy after baking.
PS: Looking for some other fun Halloween baking? Check out my Top Five Halloween-Themed Treats!
PPS: Looking for some other healthy kid-friendly snacks? Check out my Breakfast Popsicles, my Flourless Blender Muffins and my Breakfast Cookies. Looking for more pumpkin seed recipes? Check out Alex's recipe here

Check out more scary secrets for making this Halloween terrific-ly terrifying.