Tag Archives: pumpkin

Pumpkin Maple Bread

It’s as good an excuse as any to say I still seem to be decompressing from our vacation, slowly coming back to Earth, but not quite willing to sit down and harness my thoughts long enough to write anything.

Thinking it might be motivational, I did spend time in my kitchen dabbling with some traditional flavors of the season, incorporating them into a variety of dishes — including baked goods, casseroles, and soup. Pumpkin and cranberries often took a lead role, and in the case of this moist bread, provided quite a treat with coffee or tea in the morning.

It’s delicious toasted or not, but especially so with a smear of maple cream cheese butter.  On the motivation front, written words are elusive, but time to sit and ponder it all just might produce something.

I’m thankful for that.

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Gourmet’s Orange Pumpkin Cloverleafs

We live on a hill.  Some may not call it that, but I do, and depending on which direction you approach our hill, it resembles something quite large with very steep roads leading to it, making it a challenge if one happens to be stuck behind a truck, a school bus, or someone who has passed a driver's test but hasn't yet figured out that the gas pedal is what makes the car proceed in a forward motion if it's properly in gear.

But I digress.

Living on this hill provides us a view of the Pacific from one window and from two others, the skyline of the area near downtown and the mountains in the eastern part of the county.  Actually, the view of the Pacific is about 16 inches if I strain, sneaking out my ruler just to make sure, and the other more a craning of my neck around my neighbor's Texas Cherry Brush hedge that is more like a jungle.  On days like today when the weather is not exactly as most expect it to be, I look at both horizons and notice the dark grey upper sky heavy with rain clouds.  The sun is struggling to shine somewhere East casting the mountains in varying shades of grey and adding to the ominous look of the storm clouds.  The Pacific is indiscernible, as grey as the sky. 

I love rainy days. 

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So it seems appropriate that I bring you something that is about as close to packaged sunshine as I can find.  If you're lucky enough to get one right from the oven, the warmth speaks for itself.

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Pumpkin Pecan Bread Pudding: Dessert or Breakfast?

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Everyone has their rituals for special days — whether they involve huge family gatherings, or quiet time scheduled for two, food has a tendency to permeate them all.  I know.  Big surprise.  With respect to Thanksgiving, my mother always insisted that we eat early — 1pm.  I guess her mother did, so the tradition was passed along, allowing for the even more important tradition of getting all the leftovers out at about 7pm to begin the eating frenzy again.  You know, just in case someone didn't have turkey coming out their ears yet.

When I met my husband, my family's early eating time meant that we could eat with them — (a dinner I made…) and then like complete lunatics the loving young people we were, head over to his family's house to eat again, usually at about 6pm.  We could barely move when we were finished, our midsections stretched beyond anything we'd imagined before, and swearing we wouldn't eat turkey for an entire year.  Funny how that works, isn't it? 

Another thing I inherited was the notion of a holiday breakfast — but it wasn't from my family.

I was used to eating at midday, so the idea of a big breakfast not only made me want to crawl under a table to get away from even thinking of eating more food on such a calorie laden day, but cringe at the thought of trying to put a special breakfast on the table while I was in the middle of trying to pull off Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.  When my husband told me not to worry, that he'd make breakfast, I wasn't soothed by his cheerful smile or the image of two of us doing completely different things in such a small space on such a busy day.

We've all aged, and in the years we've been married, we've established our own traditions.  A holiday breakfast seems to have stuck — and it works, but only when I'm not also making the bulk of the holiday dinner and we're not eating until 7pm.  Plus, believe it or not, my husband is the turkey dude now.  Go figure.  That leaves me time to think of other things — like breakfast.

Hence, the adoption of a recipe I found years ago when I wanted something I could make the night before, pop in the fridge, and then into the oven the next morning:  Fat Momma's French Toast.  Since that time, I've altered the recipe, of course, and it's a bit different each time I make it.  But I tried something truly different a few days ago, and we enjoyed "breakfast" for dinner, another thing we did about once a week when I was growing up.

Funny, though.  As we mulled over the first bites of my latest, we knew it was more of a dessert — no longer French toast.  And with the day old pumpkin braid I had left over from the dinner rolls I made, my Pumpkin Pecan Bread Pudding was born.

Oh, my goodness.  If this is the epitome of a holiday breakfast, then sign me up and I'll forget the dinner.  It's truly amazing.  IMG_6886

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Pumpkin Rosemary Dinner Rolls

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With all the different types of bread recipes I've tried in the last year, I can say that I not only no longer cringe at the thought of tackling dough, but can decide five minutes before I lift Bertha from her spot in my kitchen that fresh bread it will be — and tonight if I want — even if it's the traditional version.  Big Bertha, my Kitchen Aid, definitely helps since I don't have to knead the dough for 10 minutes and couldn't even if I wanted to.  One or both of my arms have been royally screwed up for the last 25 years and when I do too much grasping or clenching, lifting or pruning, I live to regret it.  I used to be able to use Chopin as an excuse, but can't remember the last time I touched my piano keys for more than dusting.  *Sorry Mom.  How much did those lessons cost when you couldn't afford much else?*

My right arm has been singing with agony for two weeks now, thanks to a couple of hours choosing travertine for our home renovations.  How much does one of those 20×20" pieces weigh?  Definitely more than my arms want to deal with.

I'm quite thankful for my Bertha who is about 10 years old.  She's not sleek, but she's more than dependable, and when my arms are healthy, she doesn't mind that I enjoy getting my hands into a lump of silky dough.

The latest dough I experimented with was anything but silky.  It was sticky and not very cooperative, but so worth it.  Let's just say I was a bit more timely in getting the little  not so carved pumpkin off my porch after Halloween to bake and puree this year to create Pumpkin Rosemary Dinner Rolls.

Talk about pillowey bread-like wonderfulness?

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Pumpkin Pie Bars with Pepitas

Frozen Pumpkin Puree

If you’re someone who freezes food for later use, then you know there’s something to be said about how long food can be frozen and then used without sacrificing quality.  That would mean that the bones from last year’s something or other that are barely recognizable due to the accumulation of frost most likely need to be tossed.

But the two cups of fresh pumpkin I prepared last November, each carefully poured into its own bag, the air patiently pressed out, then frozen flat looked perfectly fine.  Bright in color, and not a hint of frost.  For about five seconds I imagined a whole new world of cooking up a storm of fresh items and then preparing them for the freezer.  And then I snapped out of it.

The food world on the Internet is aswirlin’ with pumpkin pies and mousse, and whoopie pies, soup, bread, and muffins, and since the idea of pumpkin pie is so yummy right now, but we wait until Thanksgiving to savor our first bite, I thought a compromise was in order.  I could have a somewhat pumpkin pie taste in a bar cookie.

Nice.  Very nice.  If you are someone who likes pumpkin pie but wishes there just wasn’t so much of that custard, then these are a lovely option.  Packing them up and sending them home with guests on Thanksgiving is quite a bit easier than sending pie slices, too!

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