Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pumpkin Bread (Well, Not Really...)

Here's another delicious autumn-inspired sweet bread. This was originally a recipe for pumpkin bread, but I had some other squash that needed to be used. So I made a crookneck squash/acorn squash bread. I also added raisins and chocolate chips just for fun, and doubled the recipe to make two delicious loaves. I'm really not sure what to call this, so I'll go ahead and keep calling it pumpkin bread, but just know that you can use any pureed squash or combination of squashes and get delicious results.

Pumpkin Bread
3 cups flour
1 tsp. of salt
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups pumpkin puree or other squash puree, canned or made from fresh
1 cup oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 cup raisins
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.

Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in the raisins and chocolate chips.

Pour into 2 well-buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pans. Bake 50-60 minutes until a thin skewer poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Turn out of the pans and let cool on a rack.

I have two big cans of pumpkin puree and lots of big, shiny apples that are just itching to be used in more delicious autumn goodies. I'll probably wait until this bread is all eaten before making more; gotta ration my overeating, you know. But I'm so excited about fall and getting to make lots of wonderfully and warmly spiced baked goods!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Celebrating Fall with Gooey Apple Bread

Yay for Fall!!!! Yesterday was the first official day of Fall, my absolute favorite season of the year. We bought some apples yesterday and I made this delicious bread to celebrate. I just used a recipe for apple bread, cooked it in a bundt pan (so I wouldn't have to wash the bread pans after making bread a couple days ago...), and added the gooey butterscotch sauce from Southern Plate's Apple Dapple Cake. It turned out so rich and delicious! More like a cake than a bread, and I'm okay with that. :-)

Gooey Apple Bread
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups diced apples (without skins)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon flour

Mix flour, cinnamon, soda, salt and baking powder together.

Beat eggs and add sugar and oil.

Add vanilla and dry ingredients.

Stir in apples.

Mix walnuts in a tsp of flour and add to batter.

Pour into 2 greased loaf pans (or one greased bundt pan). Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. It took about 1 hour 15 minutes in the bundt.

Gooey Sauce
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup margarine (1 1/2 sticks)

Mix and cook 3 minutes after it begins to gently boil, stirring constantly. Pour over hot bread while bread is still in pan. Let bread cool completely before removing.

I just LOVE Fall!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Zaylee's Birthday Cake, Fit for a Princess!

Wow, it's been a while since I posted here. We spent a week visiting family in Idaho, and then I just haven't gotten around to really doing anything special for the food blog. But I'm back, and hoping to get things going again.

While we were in Idaho, Zaylee had her 4th birthday. We had a fun family get-together to celebrate, complete with a fun cake!

This was such an easy cake to decorate, and everyone enjoyed it. I started with a simple yellow cake recipe, making 1 1/2 of the recipe. I made one 9x13 layer, and one 8x8 layer. While those cooled, I made a double batch of one of my favorite frosting recipes of all time. This stuff is so yummy!!!

Cream Cheese and Cool Whip Frosting
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 8-oz. carton frozen whipped topping
1/3 cup sugar (granulated)
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat cream cheese until softened. Beat in remaining ingredients until combined and creamy. Add a few drops of food coloring if desired.

I would have done all the frosting pink (Zaylee is such a girly girl), but I have a nephew who is sensitive to red dye, so we needed to have at least part of the cake with no red or pink at all. I frosted the 9x13 with white frosting, then dyed the rest pink. I stacked the 8x8 right in the center of the larger cake, and frosted it with the pink frosting.

Then came the fun part. We had paid a visit to the bulk section at WinCo and picked out lots of fun candies - lots of pink, but again making sure to get some things with no red dye. We placed four ice cream cones on the corners of the top layer to act as turrets, then frosted them and added pink jelly beans around the sides. Then we just went crazy with the candies! Lots of pink on the top layer, and all sorts of other candies on the bottom. We used chocolate covered peanuts, yogurt covered peanuts, jelly beans, gumdrops, and those little pastel mint chocolate chip thingies.

Four big red gumdrops sat on top of the ice cream cones to hold the candles, and then we were done!

This really is my favorite way to decorate a cake. I have bags and tips for piping frosting, and am fairly decent at it (or I would be if I practiced...) but I really love to just have a fun concept and then create it with things like candies, cookies, and other fun edibles to make a unique and exciting cake that the kids just love! Here's the other cakes in this style that I've blogged about:

Thomas' First Birthday

Thomas' Second Birthday

Zaylee's Third Birthday

And of course, I can't do a birthday post without a picture the little birthday princess. My family gave her several princess dresses as her birthday gift, and she had such a blast trying them all on, over and over again!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Granola Bars

I love granola bars, especially the chewy kind. They're delicious, they're healthy (relatively), and they come in so many fun flavors! They are great for traveling too, since they're easy to eat and don't make a mess when you give them to kids. So granola bars were the first thing to come to mind when we started thinking about what snacks to bring when we drive up to visit my family in Idaho this week. Unfortunately, they tend to be a tad bit pricey. We're super cheap, especially since we're in the process of buying a house (hooray!!!!) and need to save aggressively to pay the down payment. So instead of going out and buying granola bars, I decided to find a recipe and make them! After all, I've started making my own granola, it should be easy and fun to make granola bars too. So I found this yummy and simple looking recipe on allrecipes.com and got started. And boy, they turned out so good!

Granola Bars
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ (used wheat bran)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey (used pancake syrup)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, raisins and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges (Reading the recipe reviews, I deduced that this recipe makes kinda crunchy granola bars, so I cooked for only 20 minutes to achieve a more chewy bar). Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

This recipe seems like it would lend itself well to being personalized a bit. You could add chocolate chips, nuts or seeds, coconut, some reviewers used applesauce instead of oil, syrup instead of honey, cranberries or other fruit instead of raisins, one person even said she added canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. I love basic recipes that can be added to in a huge variety of ways! I have a feeling I'll be making granola bars pretty often. :-)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Orange Pear Jam

This is one of the prettiest jams I've ever made! It gets its bright color and sunshiny flavor by using orange jello instead of pectin. The jam was easy to make and has a soft texture common in fridge/freezer jam recipes. I got the recipe from the Taste of Home Cookbook.

Orange Pear Jam
7 cups sugar
5 cups chopped peeled fresh pears
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 packages (3 oz. each) orange gelatin

In a Dutch oven or large kettle, combine sugar, pears, pineapple, and lemon juice. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.

Reduce heat; simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in gelatin until dissolved.

Pour into jars or containers; cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover and let stand overnight or until set, but no longer than 24 hours. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks, or store in freezer until ready to use. Yields about 7 cups.

So bright and colorful! It would be fun to experiment with other flavors of jello as well.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Chocolate Mush

I was making cornmeal mush this morning and suddenly decided it would be fun to change it up a bit. So I added cocoa powder. It turned out really yummy, similar to chocolate Malt-O-Meal, but at a fraction of the cost. The kids and I just ate it up! It makes a fun change to what has become a breakfast staple at our house.

Chocolate Mush
1 cup corn meal
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup cold water
3 cups boiling water

Combine corn meal, salt, cocoa, vanilla, and cold water; pour into boiling water, stirring quickly.

Return to boil, stirring constantly.

Lower heat to medium-low, cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with milk and sugar (we like using brown sugar).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I used to not really care for snickerdoodles. It's not that I didn't like them, but I've always been a chocolate chip cookie kind of person, and snickerdoodles were a bit too plain and cake-like for my tastes. But tastes change; I know mine definitely have as I've grown older. I've learned to enjoy a great many foods that didn't interest me when I was younger, especially when I try making them myself. Coleslaw, apple pie, pineapple on pizza, and a variety of other things have become much more appetizing to me this way. And now I can add snickerdoodles to the list.

This is the first time I've made snickerdoodles (I know, a travesty!), and I could not get enough of them! I found that I loved them the best about 5-10 minutes after taking them out of the oven - they were warm, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. And sooooooo delicious!

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 large eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 400.

Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, butter, shortening, and eggs in large bown with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.

Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet (Zaylee helped me with this step. It was so cute to see her rolling handfuls of dough into balls and rolling them in the cinnamon sugar. She actually did a pretty good job of it! Thomas helped too. He climbed up onto the table and made sure that we didn't have too much dough. I guess he figured that since Zaylee and I were grabbing handfuls out of the bowl, he should be too!).

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.