Saturday, November 19, 2011

Yummy Pumpkin Bread

Here is another recipe that I love but haven’t made in ages. I don’t really have a whole lot to say about this recipe so this post will be short… you’re happy about that. I got this recipe out of my favorite, all-purpose cookbook, the Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham. This is my go to book for answers to any baking and cooking questions I have like, “How to truss a chicken or turkey”, and other questions. I also used to give copies of this book as housewarming gifts. 

I like making this recipe and the Cranberry Nut Bread recipe that is in here, and which I hope to make sometime within the next few weeks, in mini loaf pans and give them to family and friends. Back when I baked this a lot, Reynolds was still making plastic wrap and I could buy it in red and green and I would use it to wrap my small loaves of bread,which made them look quite festive.

I apologize for the quality of my photos, which aren’t always good anyway, but are worse than normal. This time of year since the days are getting shorter my chance of using natural light is slim. That’s what happened here, by the time my bread was done, it was dark outside. Then, at the time, I wasn’t sure what was wrong with my camera, but I must have gotten something on the lense because it looks like there is smear of some sort in most of my pictures…the hazards of taking food pictures. At least it wasn’t a problem with my camera.

Pumpkin Bread
Print Recipe

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda
3. Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, water and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in the nuts.
4. Pour into a well-buttered 9x5 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a straw comes out clean.
5. Turn out of the pan and cool on a rack

Sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda.

Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, water.

Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice

 Add spices, to pumpkin mixture.

 Then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly. If adding nuts, stir them in next.

 Pour into a well-buttered 9x5 inch loaf pan.

 Bake 50-60 minutes until a straw comes out clean...or in my case, a toothpick.

 Turn out of the pan and cool on a rack.

Mmmmm....this smelled so good while it was baking. It tasted even better....I love pumpkin and all those delicious spices that are used in this bread.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Apple Crisp

Whenever I think of apple crisp I think of school lunches. By the time I was in high school I refused to buy lunch at school mostly because the food was normally pretty awful. I would either take my lunch or, usually, not eat lunch at all and save the weekly $3.00 - $4.00 to buy gas for the car. Yes, back in the old days $3.00 would buy a lot of gas….I think gas was around seventy cents a gallon, maybe less. I would save my lunch money, combine that with babysitting money and/or allowance (babysitters made about $1.00 an hour) and I could fill up the car for around $10.00 and still have plenty left for a movie or going out to eat…maybe even buy a record or two, especially If they were 45’s.  Those were the days! Anyway, back to my story. One of the few times that I would buy the school lunch was on the day they served chili. The chili was actually quite good and along with chili I would get a peanut butter and honey sandwich and, one of my favorite desserts, apple crisp. The only time I ever got apple crisp was at school, Mom never made it and back then, I had no interest in cooking but I loved that stuff.

Many years later, I was in my 20’s and living on my own, I had some apples that I had been enjoying but wanted to do something with them other than just eat them raw, so I decided to try to bake something. I was new to cooking and baking at the time so wanted to make something simple. I pulled out my Betty Crocker cookbook and found a recipe for apple crisp…it looked like it would be similar to the apple crisp I had at school.  I peeled and sliced the apples, made the topping and put it in the oven. The aroma was heavenly, I love to smell apples, cinnamon and sugar baking, reminds me of home when my mom would bake apple pies. After it had baked and cooled a bit, I tasted it and was very pleased…it tasted just as I remembered, maybe even a little better than the apple crisp I enjoyed at school.
Apple Crisp
Print Recipe

4 cups sliced, peeled tart apples (about 4 medium)
2/3 - 3/4 cups brown sugar - (packed)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup butter

1. Heat oven to 375 F.
2. Grease a square 8x8x2 inch pan.
3. Place apple slices in pan.
4. Mix remaining ingredients thoroughly.
5. Sprinkle over apples.
6. Bake 30 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown.
7. Serve warm and, if desired, with light cream or ice cream.

Servings: 6

Source: Betty Crocker's Cookbook
Copyright: 1969 Twenty-first Printing 1974

Place 4 cups of peeled and sliced apples in an 8x8 inch pan. I don’t know what apples I used, I had some Jonathan and Cortland that I just mixed together.

 Mix together brown sugar (I used 2/3 cup), flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg and softened butter.
You can either use a fork, pastry blender or, as I usually do, your hands to mix the topping.

Spread topping over apples and bake.

I baked mine just a little over 30 minutes, until the apples were tender.

Serve warm and, if desired, with light cream or ice cream

Once again, someone decided to dig in as soon as I turned my back. About half of the Apple Crisp was gone before I had a chance to eat any. It was definitely Michael approved!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Easy Coffee Cake

I may have mentioned this before but in case I haven’t, here it is…. I enjoy and prefer baking from scratch. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that when I was a child, even though my mom was a good cook, she usually baked with mixes…cake, brownie and even used a box mix for her pie crust. I rarely had a baked good that was made from scratch. I’ll get more into that subject in a future post. Even though I prefer baking from scratch, I am not completely against using shortcuts from time to time, especially when I come across recipes that use mixes as an ingredient and that look and taste good, not to mention are so easy to prepare. I have a few of those kinds of recipes that I’ve already posted about and here is one more.

I can’t remember when or where I found this recipe, but it’s another one that I used to make often and then eventually, after a while, I guess got bored with so stopped. It was very popular at work and it was easy enough to make that I could even prepare it in the morning, put it in one of those Pyrex carriers and it would be nice and warm by the time I and my co-workers arrived at the office. Because it’s so easy to make, It’s a great recipe to make on Christmas morning…..a nice warm coffee cake to have with a cup of coffee, tea or glass of milk….yum!
Easy Coffee Cake
Print Recipe

1 cake mix (spice, caramel or yellow)
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted

1. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour into a 9x13 inch cake pan. After 15 minutes in the oven at the temperature stated on box, remove cake and sprinkle on a mixture of the chopped nuts, sugar and cinnamon. Then pour melted butter over all. Continue baking until done, 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Serve warm

3. May be frozen

I've made this using a yellow cake mix and a spice cake mix, which are both good, but I prefer the caramel. The problem with using the caramel mix is that it isn't easy to find, the only place I'm able to locate it is at Meijer.

One cake mix, whatever ingredients that are needed to prepare the cake mix (the Duncan Hines caramel mix uses, water, oil and eggs), nuts, sugar, cinnamon and butter. When I first started making this, the Duncan Hines Caramel mix was easy to find....not so easy now. As I stated in the recipe notes, I'm only able to find it at Meijer.

Prepare mix, according to package directions and pour into a 9x13 pan that has been coated with butter/oil and flour. I use either Baker's Secret or Pam for baking. Love the ease of just spraying it on in the pan.

Place in preheated oven (temperature that is listed in the cake mix directions) bake for 15 minutes and remove.

Combine nuts, sugar and cinnamon. I usually do this while the cake is baking.

Sprinkle mixture on cake.

Pour melted butter over cake.

Return cake to oven and bake and additional 15-20 minutes or until cake is done.

Hmmm, looks like someone was doing a little tasting while I had my back turned.

This was as good as I remembered. It smelled so good…the aroma of the caramel cake and cinnamon was wonderful. Apparently it was too much for Michael to stand since, as you can see from the previous photo, he tasted it as soon as it came out of the oven.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tangy Meatballs

I’ve been stuck in a cooking rut. I’ve been making the same old same old for the past several months, so due to boredom, I recently started reviewing some of my favorite recipes that I haven’t made in years.  I decided it was time to make a few of them again, not only because I really like them and haven’t had them in a long time, or since Michael and I have only been together for close to three years, he’s never tasted them, but also because I’ve got one of those recipe programs where I’m now storing my recipes, along with photos of the completed dish and my older recipes look so sad without a photo.

The following recipe is another one I found in Taste of Home magazine, as a matter of fact, the same issue that included the Apple Walnut Cake recipe that I wrote about in my last post. When I first found it, I made it a lot….. Back in those days between work potlucks, family reunions and other parties I attended, I felt like I was making this all the time. It was always a hit whenever I took it somewhere. I remember one time when I helped my cousin Jayne prepare food for an open house she was having when she and her partner, Tom, moved into their first house, I made five batches of this recipe and we kept the meatballs warm in one of those large aluminum chafing dishes. Jayne’s brother-in-law Dick and one of the men she worked with practically camped out in front of the chafing dish eating the meatballs…they just wouldn’t stop. Every time I made these, I would get a similar reaction from other people.....

This is a great recipe for potlucks because it’s easy to make a head of time and can be kept warm in a slow cooker.  If you don’t want to make your own meatballs, you can substitute frozen but trust me, the homemade ones are much better!

Tangy Meatballs
Print Recipe
2 eggs
2 cups quick cooking or rolled oats
1 can evaporated milk, (12 ounces)
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 lbs lean ground beef
2 cups ketchup
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped onion
1-2 tsp liquid smoke (I use 1 teaspoon)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add oats, milk, onion, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add the ground beef; mix well.

Shape into 1½ inch balls. Place in two 9x13 inch baking pans. Bake uncovered at 375 for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and drain.

Place all of the meatballs in one of the pans.

In a saucepan, bring all sauce ingredients to a boil. Pour over meatballs.

Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until meatballs are done.

Yield: 4 dozen

Using a fork or whisk, beat eggs.

Add oats, milk and onion to the eggs.

Add pepper, garlic powder and salt.


Add ground beef to mixture and mix well.

Shape into 1½ inch balls. Place in two 9x13 inch baking pans. Bake uncovered at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and drain. Place all of the meatballs in one of the pans.

Ooops, I did it again, I forgot to take some pictures, but I have faith in you and know you can do this by reading the instructions and without the accompanying photos.

In a saucepan add ketchup, brown sugar, onion, garlic powder and liquid smoke. Bring sauce ingredients to a boil and pour over the pan of meatballs.

If you've never used liquid smoke and not sure where to find it, it is usually located in the isle where the hot sauce, worchestershire sauce and BBQ sauce is located.

Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until meatballs are done.

Mmmmm….when you make these meatballs, your home will smell so good that you won’t be able to stand it. They have a nice, sweet barbeque flavor and, I have to confess, it is easy to eat more of them than you should.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Apple Walnut Cake

Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love the temperatures of early to mid-fall, sometimes the days are warm and other days are cool and crisp, well suited for wearing a sweatshirt, sweater or light weight jacket. The colors are gorgeous….the leaves on the trees begin to turn red, yellow, gold and orange and the mums and some bushes add to the beauty of the season. I like the feel and even the way the air smells and after the long hot days of summer, that make me feel limp and lethargic, I feel energetic and reborn in the fall.

One of my most favorite things about autumn is the produce that is in season, especially apples. I know you can get apples all year round, but in my opinion, the best apples are the ones that are only available in the fall….Jonathan, Winesap, Honeycrisp, Cortland, etc. They are so good and are great to just grab and eat or even better, to use in baking.
One day while out running errands, Michael and I stopped by a local farm stand where they had a nice selection of apples so I purchased some Jonathan, Cortland and Honeycrisp. I thought about using some to make a pie but since I had just made a cherry pie, decided to make a cake instead. As I was going through some of my recipes, I came across one that I hadn’t made in years. It’s a delicious cake and when I first discovered the recipe, I used to make it often but as newer recipes made their way into my files; this one was pushed aside and forgotten.
I’m a long time subscriber to Taste of Home magazine….I’ve been getting it since it was first published back in the 90’s and have all, except the first magazine, in my collection. This recipe happens to come from the second magazine that Taste of Home published.
Apple Walnut Cake
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 cups chopped, unpeeled apples (4 or 5 apples)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
8 oz of Philly cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp of vanilla extract

1. In a mixing bowl, beat sugar and eggs.
2. Add oil and vanilla; mix well.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg; gradually add to sugar mixture, mixing well.
4. Stir in apples and walnuts.
5. Pour into a greased and floured 9x13 inch pan.
6. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes or until cake testes done.
7. Let cool.
1. With an electric mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes on medium speed until very smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
2. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Keep adding until you get to desired sweetness and thickness.
3. Frost cooled cake

Mix sugar and eggs. You can use an electric mixer, but I find that mixing with a whisk works just fine.

Add oil and vanilla; mix well.

Pre ground nutmeg doesn’t stay fresh very long, so I buy the whole nutmeg and using a hand grater (rasp), grate it myself. Not only is the nutmeg fresher but it smells heavenly.

Vietnamese cinnamon is my favorite…has a stronger flavor. As many of you know, I’m a big Penzey’s fan so buy most of my herbs and spices from them; never fear, you don’t have to purchase this cinnamon online, you can find Vietnamese cinnamon at the supermarket.

Clockwise from top: cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and baking soda.

Add to flour and mix with a whisk.

Gradually add flour to sugar mixture.

I apologize for my lack of pictures at this point. As I mentioned earlier, it’s been a long time since I’ve made this cake so, as I was combining the flour with the sugar mixture, the batter became quite thick, more like a cookie dough than a batter. I was getting concerned, thinking I had left something out of the recipe so stopped to read the list of ingredients. When I saw that I hadn’t made a mistake, I proceeded where I left off and forgot to photograph the batter before adding the apples and walnuts. So, if your batter looks like cookie dough, don’t worry, it’s supposed to look that way. Trust me; it will work out just fine.

Chopped apples. Chop the apples in smaller pieces if you want but I like them this size. Don't worry about the peels, that concerned me the first time I made this. After the cake is baked, you won't even know they are there. I love that I didn't have to peel the apples, that's my least favorite thing about baking with them, just be sure to wash them well before chopping.

Chopped walnuts.

Combine batter, apples and walnuts.

Pour into greased and floured pan. The batter is so thick, you have to spread the batter, it doesn't really pour.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until cake tests done. Allow cake to cool before frosting.

I had just put the cake on a cooling rack and was ready to walk away when I turned back around and noticed Michael, with spoon in hand, ready to dig into the cake. I said, “Don’t touch it, don’t you dare touch that cake. I still have to frost and photograph it.” The look on his sad face was priceless. I stood there until I saw him walk away before I left the kitchen. 

 Combine 8 oz. cream cheese and 1/2 cup butter.

This cake had a cream cheese frosting recipe but it called for 2 3 oz. packages of cream cheese. I don’t know about you, but I usually have cream cheese on hand but it’s the 8 oz. packages, not the 3 oz. So I used a recipe that called for 8 oz. of cream cheese.

 Mix in vanilla and powdered sugar.

 Ready to frost the cooled cake.

The cake tasted as good as I remember. The apples release their juice while baking making this a moist and tasty cake. Reminds me a lot of carrot cake, only made with apples.

Michael was very happy….he grabbed his trusty spoon as soon as I finished snapping photos.
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