Monday, November 28, 2011

the best pumpkin chocolate chip bread ever!!!

It smells like the holidays in my house at this very moment.  The scent of cinnamon, pumpkin, a hint of ginger and chocolate wafts through the air as Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread cools on the counter.

I would like to think that Christmas has a scent.  It just doesn't smell like the holidays until I smell pumpkin, cinnamon or ginger.  When I was younger, the subtle burning smell of the heater lit for the first time was a gentle warning that Christmas would be near.  My mother's stove top potpourri, scented with citrus, cinnamon and clove was a warm welcome when returning home from school.  And long before my dad banned live Christmas trees from the house, the piney scent of our tree would launch excitement of presents to come and evenings with dimmed house lights and a magical, twinkling tree.  I love the smell of Christmas!

I wish everyone out there a wonderful and happy holiday season.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
yield:  3-9x5 loaves

This bread is amazing.  It makes 2-3 loaves.  I have a larger loaf pan so I yield two.  This bread is moist and flavorful and so good that my husband basically ate a whole loaf in one day!  When I asked what he'd like for dinner this week, he replied, "(Pumpkin) Chocolate Chip Bread."  Freezer friendly too!

3 cups white sugar
1 can (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
4 eggs
3 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
1 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup chocolate chips (I use a mix of milk & semi sweet)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease & flour three 9x5 loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs.  Beat until smooth.  In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, ginger, baking soda & salt.  Add dry ingredients to the sugar/pumpkin mixture.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Fill pans 3/4 full.
  3. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks before removing from pans.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Thanksgiving Recipe: Sweet Potato Casserole

I always find myself going for a stroll after Thanksgiving dinner.  How about you?
I think I may have been the only person in America who just realized that Thanksgiving is just days away.   Even after I had enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast at The Baking Tot's day school, I was surprised at how fast it crept up on me.

I began to panic slightly.  A few days.  Which in my world means, working Black Friday, decking the halls and begin to buy/make Christmas gifts-and I am not yet mentally prepared.  I'm not looking forward to Black Friday at all.  People become a different animal (a not so nice one at that) during the holiday shopping season.  Last year it put me in a bummer of a mood.
In my case, substitute "high end handbags" for coffee.  From:
And then there is the Baking Tot.  He is so excited for Christmas, he asked to have it two Sundays ago.  I love that he is now old enough to really enjoy it and experience the anticipation and excitement the season brings.  At least he will make my season brighter.

Baking Tot's school caters a big Thanksgiving feast for the church every year.  This was our first year to attend and it was pretty good.  His class was assigned corn & sweet potato casserole.  I volunteered to make sweet potato casserole and used my Nanny's recipe.  It didn't last long and I noticed it was the first to be eaten off of alot of people's plates.  With one bite, it sent me back to the children's table at my grandparents house for what seems like ages ago.

Nanny's Sweet Potato Casserole
4 cups cooked & mashed sweet potatoes
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of ground all spice
dash of ground ginger
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, chilled & cubed
1 cup chopped pecans
  1. Mix sweet potatoes, granulated sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and evaporated milk.  Place in a buttered 10" square casserole.
  2. Mix topping ingredients (brown sugar, cubed butter, chopped pecans) until crumbly.  Sprinkle over top of sweet potato mixture.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Then place under broiler for 3-4 minutes to caramelize the topping.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Must Share Recipe: Quick Beer Pizza Crust

I've come across many wonderful recipes from the blogging world.  I have my favorites, but this pizza is by far the current favorite and has been since August.  When Amber, from Bluebonnets & Brownies, posted this recipe I knew I had to try it.  She acquired it from the King Arthur Flour Co.'s blog and I'm so glad she shared it!

She had me at "quick."  The recipe had me at "freezer friendly."  These are the buzz words I search for nowadays.  I am always looking for something quick to make and is able to satisfy two thirty-somethings and a three years old.  The Baking Tot even helps out shaping the dough.

The recipe makes two pizzas, but I freeze half of the dough for a future dinner.  Unfortunately, we don't venture out into anything other than a good slice of cheese pizza (because of said Tot) but I have at least found some great products that make a darn good cheese pizza.

Now remember, the key for me here is *quick*.  So, I use Mario Batali Neapolitan Pizza Sauce.  This is my favorite store bought sauce thus far (liked it better than my homemade) and therefore I don't feel the need to make any and thus saving TIME!!!!

According to Cook's Illustrated, Kraft Low Moisture Mozzarella (Block) was amongst their top choices in grocery store cheeses a few months ago and it does a great job.  As for the beer, we use Shiner...because we are from Texas and that is just the law.
Please Note:  We normally don't cook in our underwear.  Baking Tot was in the middle of Potty Training Boot Camp, in which he hung around the house in undies for three days straight and was placed on the potty E-V-E-R-Y hour.  By the way, it was a BEAMING SUCCESS!!!!
Quick Beer Pizza Crust
yield:  2-10" pizzas
tweaked a slight smidgen by yours truly from Bluebonnets & Brownies

4 cups AP flour
A pinch of each, dried oregano & dried thyme
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bottle Shiner Bock Beer, room temperature
  1. Combine flour, herbs, yeast, baking powder, and salt into a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Mix until combined.
  2. Add the beer and olive oil to the dry ingredients and mix on slow speed for 1 or 2 minutes until ingredients combine.  Increase the speed to medium and mix for 7 minutes or until dough is smooth and doesn't stick to the bowl.
  3. Place dough in a lightly greased mixing bowl and let it rise for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  4. Deflate dough and divide in half (one half for now, the other half for freezer in my household).  Shape dough onto a pizza stone or lightly spray baking sheet and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.  Shape once more to desired size.
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place pizza dough into the oven and par-bake for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove your crust from the oven and top with desired toppings.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, until bottom is nice and crisp and top is beginning to brown.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Giddiness Snow Brings (Recipe: Oatmeal Cake)

I've noticed a lot of talk about snow.  Whether it be on the television, or my cousin posting first snow pics from Colorado on Face Book, or me checking in on the weather in Idaho, I've noticed the wintry weather trying to sneak in.  It is no secret that I miss snow and the giddy feeling one gets with its arrival.

I am younger each year at the first snow.
When I see it, suddenly, in the air, all little and white and moving; then I am
in love again and very young and I believe everything. 

-Anne Sexton

Oatmeal Cake
This recipe is from my college room mate, Jessica.  She had rummaged through her mom's recipe box and had quite a collection.  Scented with cinnamon and studded with pecans, this cake is a delicious autumn treat! 
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and pan spray a 9 x 13 cake pan.
  2. Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon & salt together
  3. In a small bowl, pour the hot water over the quick cooking oats, set aside.  Meanwhile, cream shortening, sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of a mixer.  Add the sifted dry ingredients to the sugar mixture.  Mix in the oats and vanilla and mix until combined.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes.
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup pecans
  1. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute
  2. Spread topping over hot cake and place under a broiler for 1 minute or until brown.