Finishing Fall Fun and All Things Pumpkin

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Oh, the joy of jumping into a big pile of leaves!

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And soft landings!

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And finishing projects.

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And baking and making…

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Saint and I grew a ton of mini pumpkins, and, well…what do you do with a ton of mini pumpkins?

Have a pumpkin Day with Elle! I planned it before Halloween and gathered ideas for all kinds of pumpkin projects, but, just as well that we didn’t have time for it before Halloween because we didn’t even have time to finish the “not Halloween” pumpkins. What we did have time for were pumpkin painting, pumpkin popcorn, pumpkin spice cookies, and chili with a secret ingredient. Any guesses? Yep. Pumpkin! Neither Saint nor Elle were fans of it, but I kind of liked it. I had made pumpkin chili before for a Super Bowl Party when the kids were teenagers, and it was a much better recipe. I liked the idea of adding another healthy ingredient, but Saint thought tomatoes, onions, beans were healthy enough already. Since this recipe failed to pass the Saint/Elle test, I won’t post it here.

The cookies, on the other hand, were easy, good, and the recipe made a LOT of cookies. I found the recipe at myhoneysplace.com, and I only made a tiny change. I used white chocolate chips for half the dough, and I preferred them to the chocolate chips in the other half. Here is the recipe:

Pumpkin Spice, Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies
Ingredients
  • 3 c. all purpose flour*
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 (3.4-3.56 oz) box of pumpkin spice pudding (dry)
  • 1½ stick of butter, softened
  • ½ c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1½ c. of chocolate chunks
DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and pumpkin spice pudding mix- set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream together (on medium speed) butter and both sugars until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Then add eggs, one at time, followed by vanilla and honey. Scrape down sides. Then reduce to low speed and add dry ingredients. Combine until just incorporated. Finally fold in chocolate chips .

Line baking sheet with baking mat, aluminum foil, parchment or wax paper. Scoop out 1 1/2-2 inch, cookie dough balls onto sheet (roll between the palm of your hands for a nice round shape). Space the cookies 2 inches apart. Slightly flatten the cookies using the palm of your hand. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

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Sometimes you need a break from pumpkins and cooking. This has been one of my favorite teacher projects; one I have used throughout the years with a variety of literature selections and science units. It is extremely simple, yet provides a beautiful display for classroom windows. Elle let me keep this one to display in the dining room, and I think I need to share it with teachers everywhere. Here’s what you will need:
Tissue paper-orange, yellow, brown, red, green-cut into small irregular squares and rectangles
Waxed paper-cut in the shape of a tree crown
Glue
Black construction paper
Directions: Give each student a waxed paper tree shape and a handful of multi-colored tissue squares. Students should glue tissue onto the shape, covering it completely. Glue down all edges, and trim off as needed. Cut tree trunk and branches out of black construction paper and glue onto the crown.
Note: I had parent volunteers cut a variety of trunks and branches for younger students. Older students may prefer to free cut their own.
I assure you these will brighten up your room as the sun magnifies the stained glass effect, but I can’t guarantee the trees will look as lovely as Elle’s. 🙂  She is very talented, you know.
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