Pumpkin Spice Cake

So the posse leave tomorrow, and I’m a mix of emotions right now.

On one side, I’m a little bit relieved because I.need.a.break.

On the other side, I’m going to miss the little buggers.

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However, instead of being concerned about what to pack, or what time we should leave in the morning for the airport, the most pressing issue on their minds right now is what am I going to do without them for 9 days?!

The possibilities are endless…….. 

Pumpkin Spice Cake – adapted from Taste of Home

  • 1 3/4  cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2  tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 – 15 ounce can solid-pack pumpkin
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; add to egg mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating well after each addition.

Transfer to a heavily greased 10-in. Bundt pan. Bake 60-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Remove pan and cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar or cream cheese icing. Yield: 12-16 servings.

 

 

 

The Gingerbread House Diary, Day 1

I’ve thought long and hard about this recently, and I’ve decided that this year, it’s time to overcome my fear of building a gingerbread house.

I know, that probably sounds silly, but you have to realize I’m still scarred after The Great Roof Collapse of 2012. You don’t remember that? Oh….. I do. It was devastating. All my hard work was for naught when the roof structure gave in and the whole house came down with it.

** sigh **

It was a HUGE house too – I can’t even begin to tell you how much flour, sugar, butter, and spices went into the trash.

** another sigh **

This year, I’m armed with a new template (I’ll be using this one), and using this recipe for the dough, and I’m ready to begin anew.

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I’m also fortunate enough to have an engineer-in-training (aka Sabrina), who will be standing by to offer advice on the best way to keep the house upright. She does have an ulterior motive for this, as she wants to make sure mine works first before she makes one of her own.

Great – my house is the proverbial guinea pig…….

 

Potato, Cabbage and Bacon Casserole

I found myself at an impasse the other day. I was in a predicament, a quandary , and completely devoid of intelligent thought.

Translated – I couldn’t think of anything to make for dinner.

I try really hard to come up with something new and somewhat exciting for dinner several times a week. And I just wasn’t feeling anything – I was browsing recipe after recipe, for what felt like hours, but nothing jumped out at me and said, “MAKE ME”.

And then, like the sky clearing after a storm, I found it. I can’t seem to locate the glorious photo I took of this dish, but it was outstanding and the entire family requested it become part of the regular rotation.

Of course, anything with bacon is a surefire hit with J and Sabrina…..

Potato, Cabbage and Bacon Casserole – adapted from Serious Eats

  • 3 medium russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 slices (about 4 ounces) thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 small but heavy head green cabbage (about 2 pounds), quartered, cored, and sliced into ribbons
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs. apple cider vinegar (I used red wine)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup grated mild white cheese, such as edam or gouda

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Add potatoes to a medium pot and cover with water. Set pot over high heat and bring to a boil, then drop to a simmer. Cook potatoes until they are firm-tender, about 7 minutes. Drain potatoes and set aside.

Add bacon to a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until bacon has rendered most of its fat, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.

If bacon has rendered more than 3 tablespoons of fat, drain fat, reserving 3 tablespoons. Return Dutch oven to medium-high heat and add cabbage, onions, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, and scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until vegetables have wilted and begun to brown, about 15 minutes. Add apple cider vinegar and deglaze pan, stirring rapidly and scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Add potatoes to cabbage mixture and stir to combine. Season thoroughly with pepper, then add reserved bacon, parsley, half-and-half and breadcrumbs. Stir to combine.

Lightly coat the bottom of a large casserole dish with cooking spray. Add cabbage mixture and press firmly and evenly into pan. Top casserole with an even layer of grated cheese, then cover pan with a sheet of tin foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake until casserole is bubbling and cheese has browned, about 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, let rest for 10 minutes, and serve.

Banana Pecan Bread

My father thinks knows is completely sure I’ve lost my mind.

Just so we are clear, this isn’t the first time he’s had that thought. And it won’t be the last, I assure you. 

Here’s the deal: I set a goal for myself last month to get back into my fitness groove – which means a lot of walking and riding. And get this – since October 23, I’ve ridden 167 miles and walked 64.8 miles.

Wow – that’s more than I thought. No wonder my shoes are so worn….

Anyway, I received a text from Dad yesterday that said, “Are you training for a marathon?”

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Nope – just enjoying the side benefits to all that activity – which means I have a slice of this bread smothered in peanut butter every morning after my workout. Plus, I have more energy and feel more clear headed, as I do my best thinking while exercising.

I’ve had a lot to think about lately…… like the fact that Christmas is around the corner. 

Commence online shopping!

Banana Pecan Bread – adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

This recipe is touted as “the best” banana bread. And while I’m not qualified to say whether it is or isn’t, I will say it is very good – it has a really nice texture and isn’t overly sweet.

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup yogurt
  • 2 cups mashed bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.Using a hand-held or stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed, about 3 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the yogurt, mashed bananas and vanilla on medium speed for 1 minute. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon together until combined. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients and pecans into the wet ingredients.Do not overmix.

Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 60-65 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf will come out clean when the bread is done. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

 

Buttermilk Pie

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I have been thinking about pie a lot these last few days. All different kinds of pie, that is – lemon, pecan, chocolate cream, pumpkin….. the list is endless.

What prompted this line of thought was that last year, on Thanksgiving Day, J and I made what I thought was a Buttermilk Pie. We had a great time making it, too. My contribution was the crust – don’t snicker - and I actually did a really good job.

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So imagine my surprise when I served a slice of this pie to him a few weeks ago, expecting some sort of recollection of our pie-making time together last year. Instead of the hoped-for trip down memory lane, he simply looked at me and said, “This is really good honey – what is it?” I looked at him for a moment, and replied, “Do you remember when we made buttermilk pie together last year?”

His response? “Oh that was CHESS pie, not buttermilk”.

No wonder it tasted so different……

Buttermilk Pie – adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbs. flour
1 tbs grated lemon zest
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 stick butter, melted
1 unbaked 10-inch basic pie crust shell

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and lemon zest. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the buttermilk and melted butter. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the pie shell and bake until the top is lightly browned and the center sets, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Slice the pie into individual servings.

Zucchini Spice Bread

Last week was quite the week.

no joke.

Let’s kick this story off with the best part first. Having my parents here for TWO whole weeks was simply spectacular. There are no words to describe having the family all together in the same house, even though that statement probably makes me sound like a typical mother (although I’m anything but typical). Even though Dad wanted to send a letter to upper management (i.e. me) about the absence of a TV in their room, the lack of a private bathroom, and the close living quarters, I think know they enjoyed being with us.

Imagine my disappointment when they tell me they’re never coming back.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding – call off the execution squad, please….

Let’s see…. what else happened….. at the top of the list, both dogs came down with a raging case of skin crawling bugs, which translated into, “Welcome to Texas, ma’am, your dogs have fleas…..”

Ugh.

That tidbit of news set off a sequence of events which necessitated a trip not only to the vet for once-a-month anti-flea medicine, but also to Petsmart for flea shampoo and carpet/furniture spray – then washing just about everything washable in the house, bathing both dogs repeatedly to remove the offending bugs, and treating the inside of the house twice to get rid of everything.

It was lovely, really…..

However, before that happened, my darling Sabrina, after visiting the doctor for her monthly checkup, was informed that her triglycerides are at three times their normal level, which meant going off her Accutane and onto a strict low-carb diet for two weeks.

On the positive side, she feels better and has lost quite a few pounds. On the negative side, she’s ready to take a hostage for a piece of bread or a cookie…..

Anyway, Mom and Dad left Saturday, and I still can’t figure out how they were able to escape – since I was holding on to both of their legs as they attempted to leave. I’m suffering from post-visitor-departure-syndrome (yes I made that up thankyouverymuch) and although they claim they’ll be back in a few weeks, I have my doubts.

Serious doubts.

May have to call in the big guns (i.e. Sabrina and Alexander) for help.

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Zucchini Spice Bread – adapted from Martha Stewart

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup blueberries (optional, I just happened to have a small bag in the freezer)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, and set aside. Grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater (to yield 1 3/4 cups); set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together sugars, oil, vanilla, and eggs.

Into a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, and stir to combine well. Stir in grated zucchini.

 

Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; invert onto a wire rack, then reinvert, top side up. Cool completely before slicing.