Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin-Muffins-muffins-on-stand

Recipe adapted from Pumpkin Bread by Betty Crocker

published by Golden Press, New York, N.Y.

There’s nothing like pumpkin bread for brunch or snack time to remind you of how wonderful autumn is.  This recipe comes from the Betty Crocker cook book that I bought when Mark and I first got married, 30 years ago.  Usually I make a double batch and bake half into muffins and the other half into loaves for the freezer.  Be forewarned if you intend on making a double batch; this is a lot of batter.  The bowl of my Viking stand mixer holds 7 quarts and a double batch of this recipe fills the mixer bowl 3/4 of the way full.

Five years ago Mark’s Mom and Dad came to visit and the guys built our deck.  I knew Pepere meant business when he brought his very own jack hammer.  Talk about messy, our house was a construction zone for about 5 days.  However, the deck is a solid thing of beauty, and I’m so grateful to Pep for putting all his effort into its design and construction.  He added a lot of custom features into the design and I appreciate that very much.  He was in his glory leading a crew of men on a project, even though the crew only consisted of Mark and Bobby.  Plus, it was a great guy-bonding thing for all of them.  Mem and I were told to stay out of the way, and so we went shopping.  Hard to believe that it’s been five years.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

2/3 cup shortening

2  2/3 cup sugar

4 eggs

1-16 oz. can pumpkin

2/3 cup water

3 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon (I always use more)

1 teaspoon ground cloves (I always use more of this, too)

2/3 cup coarsely chopped nuts, optional

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Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, or if using muffin pans, grease bottom of each cup or use paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, mix the shortening and sugar.  Add the eggs, pumpkin and water.

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3. Blend in the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves.  Stir in the nuts, if using.

4. Pour batter into pans.  If making muffins, fill the cups a little more than half full ( I use a large scoop that holds 3 Tablespoons).

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5. Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes.  If baking the bread in a loaf pan, bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool slightly and remove from pans.  Store in refrigerator.

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Building our deck

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The guys are hard at work!

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The crew at the end of a long day

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It’s all done but the staining… great job guys!

Roasted Fall Vegetables and Lentil Salad

Roasted-Fall-Vegetable-and-Lentil-Salad-salad

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

We were planning on having this dish for dinner so I decided to modify the recipe and add a few starchy root vegetables so that it would be more filling.  The grocery store only carried regular brown lentils and although I had to make a special trip to a health food store to find them, the French green lentils were not expensive, and they tasted so good that they justified the trip.  They were peppery and nutty, and they cooked up tender, yet firm.

There were so many wonderful flavors and textures in this dish and the picture does not do them justice because so many of the veggies are hidden.  I highly recommend that you include parsnips and rutabaga in the mix when you make this.  Parsnips provide a little zing to the mix, and rutabagas have a sweet flavor.  After plating the veggies and lentils, I sprinkled on some shaved parmesan to put the whole thing over the top.  Enjoy!

Roasted-Fall-Vegetable-and-Lentil-Salad-veggies-with-bag-of-lentils

Ingredients

4 carrots; sliced lengthwise into 3 pieces each

1 yam; peeled and cut into 1/2  inch slices

1 small acorn squash; halved, seeded, cut into 1/2 inch slices

1 rutabaga; peeled, halved, and cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 turnips; peeled, cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 parsnips; peeled, sliced into thirds lengthwise

1 onion; cut into 1/2 inch slices (reserve 1 whole slice to cook with the lentils)

3 stalks celery; cut in half lengthwise, and then into thirds, reserve leaves for garnish

3-4 Tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

1 cup dry French green lentils

reserved slice of onion

juice of two lemons (about 5 Tablespoons)

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

olive oil (equal to the amount of lemon juice)

salt

pepper

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

shaved parmesan for garnish

 

Directions

1. The vegetables need room to roast, mine were very crowded and did a lot of steaming at first instead of roasting.  Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Place chopped vegetables on cookie sheet(s).  Drizzle  3-4 Tablespoons olive oil over the vegetables, then sprinkle coarse salt over all.

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2. Bring pot of water to a boil.  Rinse lentils and pick over them looking for debris, sticks, etc.; drain.

3. Place vegetables in oven and roast for 30 minutes, rotating cookie sheets between the two racks halfway through the roasting time (because of the overcrowding, I had to add 15 minutes to the roasting time).

Roasted-Fall-Vegetable-and-Lentil-Salad-raw-veggies1

4. While veggies are roasting, add lentils and slice of onion to the boiling water.  Do not salt the water.  Bring pot back to a boil, and then lower the temperature and simmer the lentils for 20 minutes.

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5. While lentils are cooking, make the vinaigrette;  Mix lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar) and Dijon mustard with a whisk.  Add olive oil, fresh garlic and salt and pepper.

6. Drain lentils.  Pour vinaigrette over the lentils.  Cover and set aside to keep warm.

7. Remove veggies from oven.  Pile roasted veggies on plate, spoon lentils over the top, and garnish with shaved parmesan.Roasted-Fall-Vegetable-and-Lentil-Salad-salad

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Toasted-Pumpkin-Seeds-sliced-pumpkin

October is finally here.  Crisp, bright days accompanied by cool nights make this the best time of year.  All kinds of fun stuff happens in October… pumpkin carving, baking, leaf peeping, football games.  I love the crinkly leaves and the sound they make when the wind catches them.  Hoodies and jackets come out of the closet, apple cider is kept warm on the stove, and everyone is digging out their crock-pots again.  If you are lucky, there is even a corn maze or pumpkin patch nearby that you can visit.

Every year when our kids were younger, we took them in early October to pick out their pumpkins.  I remember Bobby and Danielle being so excited as they chose their perfect pumpkin.  Then a few days before Halloween we would clean the guts out of the pumpkin and they would get to carve it.  On Halloween night we would place lit candles inside the jack-o-lanterns so that their creations could come to life.

Before they got to the really fun part (using a knife), they had to do the messy stuff.  Cleaning out a pumpkin can be kinda gross.  It is wet, stringy and smells weird.  I find it is easier to do if you use a big metal spoon to scrape all the fibers and seeds out into a big bowl.  Then, by hand, sift through the mess and extract the seeds.  If you are doing this with kids ( which I highly recommend), try to do it outside.

Toasting the seeds from your very own pumpkin is pretty cool.  Plus, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that the seeds taste like popcorn.  As our kids got older, we turned the pumpkin carving into an event.  Other families joined in with us; all the Moms made soup in their crock pots to share, and it was a messy, but fun day.  Just thinking about that makes me want to grab a mug of warm apple cider and visit a pumpkin patch.  Enjoy!

Toasted-Pumpkin-Seeds-pumpkins

Ingredients

1 pumpkin

oil

salt

Directions

1. After slicing the top off the pumpkin, use a big metal spoon to scrape the fibers and seeds into a bowl.  The outer skin on my little pumpkin was 1/8 inch thick and hard as a rock.  I had to have Mark slice the top off of the pumpkin for me.

Toasted-Pumpkin-Seeds-pumpkin-with-knife

2. Separate the seeds from the fibers (the gross part), and place in a bowl.  Pick out as much of the fibers and mush as possible.  Add water to cover the seeds.  Let soak a few minutes and then drain in a colander.  Using a paper towel, wipe the seeds.  This will remove any remaining strings as well as dry the seeds.Toasted-Pumpkin-Seeds-Mark-and-the-slime

Harvesting the seeds

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Soaking the seeds

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Seeds waiting to be baked

3. Sprinkle enough oil to lightly coat the seeds, salt them to your liking.  Mix well and pour seeds on a baking sheet.  Spread the seeds into a single layer.  Bake at 300°F. for about 30-40 minutes, or until slightly browned.

Toasted-Pumpkin-Seeds-toasted-seeds

Toasted seeds

Chili

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Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Levesque

I serve this as a chili bar, with the bowls of condiments in the center of the table. Grated cheese, chopped onions, macaroni, and sour cream are normally on the bar, along with a bottle of green Tabasco sauce.  Crackers or cornbread, and a crisp romaine salad round the meal out nicely.

Chili can be cooked on top of the stove in a large pot or Dutch oven.  However, once you are done browning the meat and vegetables, the chili mixture can be cooked in the oven, or transferred to the crock pot to finish cooking.  I’ve made it every way possible because during football season it is the menu item that is requested the most.  My recipe is fast, easy and we love it.  Tweak it to fit your family’s taste buds.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients 

1 1/2 pounds hamburger (or steak, chicken, pork, etc.)

1 large spanish onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped fine

2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with chiles-Do not drain

1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce

1 can (16 oz.) kidney beans-Do not drain

granulated garlic or garlic powder

chipotle

cumin

chili powder

red pepper flakes

salt and pepper, to taste

 

Directions

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1. Brown the hamburger with the onion and garlic, drain.

2. Place hamburger mixture in cooking vessel of choice.  Add canned beans, tomatoes and sauce. Mix it up good.

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3. Now is the fun part; the seasoning.   I didn’t put any measurements here because I tend to cook by feel, in other words by what looks good.  Adjust the amounts of seasonings by adding bits of what you like, then tasting as you go along.  Husbands are a good source for this task as they will not want to leave the vicinity anyway once they smell garlic, onions and meat cooking. We love garlic and you will notice that I have it on here twice.  I like to layer in flavors, so I use the chopped cloves and then the granulated garlic.  The chopped cloves of garlic become sweet as they cook and the granulated garlic has the nice bite.  You could even drop in a spoonful or two of a roasted garlic purée and that would be just delicious.  Add in the seasonings that your family prefers.

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4. At this point you want the flavors to have time to mingle.  If you are able to allow it a long, slow or low cook, that would be best. If not, then allow it at least 45 minutes to cook.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin-Spice-Latte-latte

Recipe courtesy of

Confessions of a Bright Eyed Baker

Pumpkin Syrup Ingredients

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/3 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground all spice

Pumpkin Spice Latte Ingredients

3/4 cup milk, steamed or foamed

2 Tablespoons pumpkin spice syrup, or to taste

2 shots espresso, or 1/2 cup brewed dark coffee

whipped cream for topping (optional)

pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon for topping (optional)

Pumpkin Syrup Directions

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1. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan set over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves.

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2. Add pumpkin and spices, and whisk until smooth.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent boiling. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 30 minutes. Pour into container, straining if desired. Store in the fridge and shake well before using.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Directions

1. Place desired amount of pumpkin syrup in a large thermos or mug. Add espresso or coffee and stir to combine. Pour frothed or steamed milk on top and stir lightly. I do not have a milk frother, so I used my immersion blender.  Top with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.  The leftover syrup is delicious on ice cream or waffles, too.  Enjoy!

Ginger Spice Muffins

Autumn-Muffins-and-a-Gooseberry-Patch-Cookbook-Giveaway-ginger-muffins

Ginger Spice Muffins are courtesy of

Hometown Harvest by Gooseberry Patch

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup light molasses

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup shortening

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

optional: Sparkly White Sugar, for topping

Autumn-Muffins-and-a-Gooseberry-Patch-Cookbook-Giveaway-ginger-batter

Directions

1. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Add remaining ingredients. With an electric mixer, on low speed, beat just until blended.  Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.

2. Spoon batter into greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake at 375° F. for 20-25 minutes.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes; remove muffins to a wire rack and cool completely.  Makes 1 dozen muffins.

Before baking, I sprinkled Sparkling White Sugar from King Arthur Flour on top of the muffins.  It looks pretty, but also adds a nice sweet crunch to these muffins that taste a whole lot like gingerbread.  Enjoy!