Roasted gem squash

Last weekend we bought two tiny Gem squash at a local pumpkin and squash festival, and had them for dinner last night. It was a bit of a ‘stuff them with whatever we’ve got’ dinner, but it turned out really well.

Serves: two plus left over veg stuffing
Preparation time: ten minutes Cooking time: 60 minutes


  • Two Gem squash
  • One onion
  • Three cloves of garlic
  • Ten mushrooms
  • One tin chopped tomatoes
  • Italian mixed herbs
  • Smoked paprika
  • 100g kale
  • Tomato puree
  • Cheddar cheese


  1. Set oven to approx 180° Celsius (ours is a fan oven, so you might need to raise temp by 20° or so if yours isn’t).
  2. Crush garlic and mix into tin of tomatoes.
  3. Cut top off squash and scoop out the seedy middle bit, rub a bit of oil over inside surfaces and put in oven while you cook the stuffing.
  4. Chop onion and mushrooms and fry until onions are soft. Add in paprika and herbs.
  5. Add tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, and chopped kale, and stir together.
  6. Take squash out of oven and stuff with veg mix (you will have too much, can always use rest for another meal the next day). Put slice of cheese on the top in the opening.
  7. Bake for another 30-40 minutes. When we got ours out you could see that the squash had separated nicely from the (now very crispy) outer skin. Needed to use a steak knife to cut it open… first time I’ve used one of the steak knives since we were given them a decade ago, haha.

Serving suggestions

We had ours with corn on the cob and mashed potato, and it was delicious, but I think it would go equally well with some fresh crusty bread (husband is currently making a sourdough starter so maybe next time we’ll be able to make our own!).


Vegetable & kale pasta bake

To be honest, this is so simple it probably doesn’t really need a recipe written out for it, but it was really tasty and I know in a few months if I come to make it again I’ll have forgotten some part of it, so at least this way I can come back and read it again.  And yes, I know my photography skills are still somewhat lacking, but hey, at least this one has pictures.

Serves: at least six
Preparation time: five minutes Cooking time: 40 minutes


  • 350g penne pasta
  • One onion
  • Four cloves of garlic
  • One courgette
  • One orange pepper
  • One yellow pepper
  • Ten mushrooms
  • One tin chopped tomatoes
  • Italian mixed herbs
  • 100g kale
  • Tomato puree
  • Grated cheese


  1. Set oven to approx 170° Celsius (ours is a fan oven, so you might need to raise temp by 20° or so if yours isn’t).
  2. Cook pasta according to instructions and drain.
  3. While pasta is cooking, roughly chop and gently fry onion, garlic, courgette, peppers and mushrooms; I chopped as I was going along and kept frying for about five minutes after I’d added the mushrooms.
  4. Add some Italian mixed herbs and tin of chopped tomatoes and stir together; I also added half a tin of water from the pasta saucepan.
  5. Wash and chop kale and add it to the frying pan for a minute while you serve the pasta into baking dish (we needed two dishes).
  6. Add the vegetables and kale into the pasta, add some tomato puree to the dish and mix it all together.
  7. Grate cheese over the top of dish (we used a mix of Cheddar and Red Leicester).
  8. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes (or until the cheese has reached your desired level of crispiness).

Veg and kale pasta bake42899397_400146743855930_1947720368261169152_n

I definitely think too much*

Oh poor, semi-abandoned blog.  I do love you still, honestly I do.  I’m just terrible at actually writing blog posts, and for that I can only apologise and promise (again) that I will try to do better.  This post was supposed to explain my lengthy absence, and started with the title ‘I think I think too much’.  However, several days and versions later, I’ve changed the title to ‘I definitely think too much’, because there’s not really any doubt about it.

It’s not that I don’t write posts, there are lots of draft posts, abandoned half written, that I’ve just never got around to finishing and publishing on here.  There are even more ideas for posts in my head that have never even got as far as a draft.  No, the problem is not lack of ideas (although lack of time does factor in), it’s that I spend too long thinking about those ideas.  I worry that my spelling or grammar won’t be 100% correct, that I’ll make a mistake with some fact or other, that my words won’t accurately convey what I really mean, or just that somebody won’t like what I’ve written and will leave an unkind comment.  Simply put, I worry that what I’ve written won’t be perfect.

I actually started the first version of this post with the same example as this article (before I’d read it, but it says some of what I wanted to say better than I could say it, so here you go – there are also many other articles out there about the problem, I am definitely not the only one):

Being a ‘perfectionist’ is definitely not as good thing (and doesn’t mean I think I am actually perfect in any way, quite the opposite most of the time!), and is something I really need to work on, but it’s how I am, and how I have been since school.  I think although some of it stemmed from exam results, as they mentioned in the article, an awful lot of it comes from being bullied for years from the end of primary school, and as a teenager.  The constant fear that anything I said would be ‘wrong’ and would be pounced upon as another reason to laugh at me.

It’s not just this blog that it has an effect on either, it causes me to dither and second guess myself in most areas of my life, and it needs to change.  So anyway, I’m going to press publish now, this is my challenge to myself – I have to learn to care just a little bit less and just do things.

I can’t be the only one who has this problem, has anybody found a way to overcome it?  To lessen the thinking and procrastinating, to overcome the fear of imperfection and actually just finish things?

* I do also have two small children, and spend too much time aimlessly scrolling through the internet, but the over-thinking / perfectionism are definitely the major factors in my inability to post as frequently as I would like.

On a cold and frosty morning

Monday was the first really frosty morning we’ve had since early spring. It was a chilly school run in the morning, involving finding hats and scarves. Our front garden is fairly shady in the morning, so there was a lot of low level frosty grass and leaves.

The sun was shining though, so higher up there was less frost – still some beautiful autumnal colours in the leaves though. Especially on our walk home after dropping Xander off.

Ted refused to stay under his beautifully cosy Buggysnuggle though (can’t suck your thumb so easily then), so his poor hands got very cold. No, don’t even think of suggesting mittens, ha.

Hello Autumn

Yesterday, as I greeted the day horrendously early thanks to Xander deciding to turn our bedroom light on and declare it was “Morning!” at about 5.30am I tried to stay positive.

Unfortunately, the only possible positive that I could find from this was that I got to see our road looking decidedly spooky – the early morning fog combining with the new, stark white, street lighting to create pockets of light in the gloom. Funnily enough I didn’t feel positive enough about it to get dressed and go outside to take some pictures, so you’ll have to make do with some I took on my way home from dropping him off at school a few hours later.

A murky view on the way home – you can normally see for miles across the whole town from that bit of hill, but instead you could barely see the trees behind the nearest houses.

A photo of our Christmas tree from last year because I am so damn proud that it is still alive. The first time we had one of those ‘living’ Christmas trees it looked decidedly dead soon after we put it outside, but this time, this time it lives! And grows!

Our roses (the people who lived here before us planted a lot) are mostly over now, but this one just looked so perfect, especially covered in water droplets, that I had to take a picture. If anyone knows what type of rose it is I’d love to know, as it’s one of my favourites in terms of colour, but we may need to move it as it’s not in a very good position currently and I don’t know whether it will survive.

Anyway, it reminded me that it was that time of year again. The time of year when I remember I started a blog called ‘Pumpkins and Pinecones’ because I love autumn oh so much.

So here I am, writing again. I shan’t make any promises this time. I’m on maternity leave again at the moment, so you’d think I would have more time for writing, but funnily enough having a five year old and a seven month old to run around after seems to leave me with no time at all.

Tomato & vegetable sauce

Another recipe. To try and get at least one post in the first month of 2016…

Serves: makes about seven portions of just over 200g each
Preparation time: depends how fast you can chop vegetables! Cooking time: 25 minutes
Calories: another very rough estimate as my brain objects to so many numbers, but I’ll give it a go (again, please feel free to correct me!)… the ingredients below made 1.5kg of sauce(!), and appears to have been 580 kcal in total. So a 200g portion would be about 80 kcal? Surely that can’t be right? If it is I’m doubling my portion next time…


  • 15ml oil
  • Six echalion shallots (approx. 170g)
  • Four garlic cloves (approx. 8g)
  • Two sticks of celery (approx. 65g)
  • Two courgettes (approx. 420g)
  • One orange pepper (approx. 150g)
  • One yellow pepper (approx. 175g)
  • Two portobello mushrooms (approx. 135g)
  • Six white mushrooms (approx. 90g)
  • Twelve cherry tomatoes (approx. 200g)
  • 500g tomato passata
  • Paprika, turmeric, fenugreek, mixed herbs


  1. Finely chop all your vegetables (quarter the tomatoes)
  2. Add the shallots and the garlic to a large pan and let them soften
  3. Add the celery, courgette, and peppers, and leave for five minutes
  4. Add the mushrooms and leave for five minutes
  5. Add the tomatoes and then the herbs and spices (use amounts suitable to your taste)
  6. Add the passata and leave to simmer for ten minutes

Serving suggestions & adaptations

Delicious served with wholewheat fusilli (or any other kind of pasta), or as a topping for a jacket potato.

Banana and Chocolate Loaf Cake

We had a grim looking banana that needed eating (seems to be an ongoing issue in this house), and baking it provided a tasty solution.  It was slightly drier than I’d hoped, but it was quite a small banana, will try a bigger one next time.  Next time I make it I’ll try to remember to take a photo before we scoff it all…

Makes: one, quite small, loaf cake
Preparation time: ten minutes
Cooking time: thirty minutes


  • One ripe banana, mashed
  • 100g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
  • One egg, beaten
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 110g plain flour, sifted
  • One tsp baking powder
  • One tsp vanilla extract
  • Three tbsp sunflower oil, and some for greasing


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, and grease the loaf tin with a little of the oil.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, and baking powder.
  3. In a smaller bowl mix together the mashed banana, beaten egg, and vanilla extract, before mixing in the chopped up chocolate.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the larger bowl and combine with the dry ingredients.
  5. Once well mixed, pour the cake mixture into the loaf tin.
  6. Bake in the oven for approximately thirty minutes (but keep an eye on it to check it doesn’t burn, and test with a skewer to see whether it is done).
  7. Move to a wire rack to cool.

Serving suggestions & adaptations

Slice and eat. Honestly, it’s a cake, what more do you want?  Although I think next time I might slice it in half and add some sort of filling as a middle layer.  I shall ponder on whether the filling should be banana or chocolate flavour.  Also, I might drizzle melted chocolate over it as decoration if I’m feeling a bit fancy.