Easy Pumpkin Bread Recipe

About a month ago I signed up to get notices from King Arthur Flour, as I had found some interesting products and recipes the few times I’d poked around there. A few days ago, they shared their Easy Pumpkin Bread recipe. Since it was almost Halloween, and we had a can of pumpkin in the pantry, I was good to go!

It WAS an easy recipe. I did make 2 loaves, as the recipe indicated, after considering cutting the recipe in half. I decided on the 2-loaf version mostly because it uses the whole can of pumpkin, and who was going to remember they had a tiny plastic container of pumpkin in the fridge? No one in our household – it would have ended up in the back behind all the seltzers, and one day in February we’d pull it out and ask each other, “What IS this?” And so… 2 loaves. (Not that having TWO loaves of delicious pumpkin bread to eat is a heartache – LOL – the other one went into the freezer.)

The recipe was simple, basically mixing everything together. And I had one dark, nonstick bread pan and a glass bread pan, and the nonstick pan was done at least ten minutes before the glass one because it was dark – I took it out of the oven at that time and let the other one finish baking. (So if you have the same issue – keep an eye on that.) It’s really moist and tasty! Here’s a slice:

And here’s the recipe from King Arthur Flour:

Easy Pumpkin Bread Recipe

1 cup vegetable oil
2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups (or one 15-ounce can) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, optional
coarse white sugar for sprinkling on top, optional

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pans (if you’re making the plain version of the bread); two 9″ x 5″ loaf pans (if you’re adding chocolate chips and nuts); or one of each, if you’re making one plain loaf, and one loaf with chips and nuts.

2) In a large bowl, beat together the oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, and water.

3) Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and vanilla, stirring to combine.

4) Mix in the chips and nuts, if you’re using them. To make one loaf with chips/nuts, one loaf without, divide the batter in half. Leave one half plain, and add 3/4 cup chips and 1/2 cup nuts to the other half.

5) Spoon the batter into the prepared pans. Sprinkle the tops of the loaves with coarse sparkling sugar, if desired.

6) Bake the bread for 60 to 80 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean; and that same tester inserted about 1/2″ into the top of the loaf doesn’t encounter any totally unbaked batter.

7) Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. When it’s completely cool, wrap it well in plastic wrap, and store it overnight before serving.

Yield: 2 loaves.

Cornish Hens With Honey

A recipe from our archive.

Cornish Game Hens with Honey

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 cup honey
1 tblsp. cumin, ground
1 1/2 tsp. anise seed
3/4 tsp. cinnamon, ground
8 Cornish game hens
salt and pepper

Combine olive oil, vinegar, sherry, cumin, anise seed and cinnamon in a small heavy saucepan. While stirring constantly, simmer until mixture thickens slightly, about three minutes. Remove glaze from heat. Brush hens with glaze. Salt and pepper hens generously. Roast in oven at 400 degrees until thigh juices run clear when pierced, about 45 to 50 minutes. Baste every 10 minutes. Serves 8.

White Chicken Enchiladas Recipe

This is the original recipe we had for White Chicken Enchiladas. In later revisions, we used our own homemade white cheese sauce instead of the canned soups, simple because we wanted to make a version without MSG, which canned soups have in spades. (And in high enough quantity, makes our hands itch!)

White Chicken Enchiladas

Microwave 1 minute on high:
1 chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter

Add:
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies
1 can cream of chicken soup

Microwave 1 minute on high, again.

Fill 12 small flour tortillas with the chicken mixture. Arrange in a 9×13 pan.

Combine:
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 can cream of celery soup

Pour over filled tortillas. Sprinkle with 1 lb. grated cheddar and/or monterey jack cheese. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees, covered, for 10-15 minutes, then uncovered for 5-10 minutes more. (This is also microwavable – don’t cover it with aluminum foil, and add the cheese AFTER you microwave it and then let it melt.)

Note: First time we made this we forget to get chilies and made due with some dried red pepper we had – that worked too – a bit hotter perhaps though. Tasted good topped with more sour cream.

Site Reorganization is Nigh!

We started Food Follies a long time before WordPress become the go-to choice for online weblogs. When we finally converted to WP a number of years ago, we just kept our old hand-crafted php recipes pages the same, probably for convenience at the time. Well, now I’m having the impulse to integrate the recipes into this site as actual posts. So I’ll be doing things like adding the recipes to posts that just link to the recipes, making new posts for recipes that don’t have posts of their own, and then finally updating the recipes index to these new posts instead of the old text files.

At least, that’s the plan right now. The major impetus being that now it’s so much easier to just post a recipe in the post itself, instead of also having to manually add another page and update the old index.  And yes, it’s been so much easier for a while now – heh – but it’s a good time to move it all into the new order.

So, here we go! You may not notice anything out of whack, but if you do, please overlook the crumbs for now.

Homemade Pancakes

Sometimes you’re inspired to try something new, and sometimes you’ve just run out of the instant stuff. This is definitely the latter case.  We had looked up a recipe from allrecipes.com a while ago, and decided to give it a try.

There are two main differences between the homemade and commercial versions (not counting the various “enriched flour” ingredients). The first is the use of butter instead of hydrogenated cottonseed or soybean oil, and the second was that the homemade recipe used only one egg instead of two.

The pancakes themselves came out lighter and softer than their commercial counterparts. The taste was good, but it felt a little like something was missing. We’re thinking of trying a second egg in mix next time to see how that tastes.

Overall it was a fairly easy process, and I liked removing the hydrogenated oils from the mix. After we tweak our own version of the recipe we’ll post it here.

Homemade Pancakes

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

John got me a cheesemaking kit for Christmas, and we finally decided that the time was right to make us some CHEEEEESE! Fresh Mozzarella to be exact. All we had to get was a gallon of (non-ULTRApasteurized) whole milk – the rest of the ingredients were in the kit – rennet, cheese salt (non-iodized), citric acid, and a thermometer.

Below are photos and general descriptions of the process – this is not detailed with exact measurements and not a full recipe by any means, so if you want to make your own cheese, follow the link above or google it – lots of great info online! Onward…..

First, we dissolved a 1/4 tablet of rennet into a little water and set that aside.  Then we dissolved teaspoons of citric acid in water and poured that in a large pot, and added the entire gallon of milk – heating it til about 90 degrees. It didn’t really take that long.

Then we removed the pot from the burner and slowly stirred in the rennet solution we made earlier for about 30 seconds. They make sure to specify stirring up and down, not just spinning it around.

Next, we took it off the warm burner and let it sit for about 5 minutes with the lid on. This is the part where the whey separates out and the curd beneath starts to get the consistency of custard.  Ours actually took a bit longer than 5 minutes – maybe an extra 5 tops.

In the image below you can see the custardy curd part is easily pulled away from the side of the pot. It was a lot softer than we were expecting (since we had ‘finished cheese’ on the brain) but it was just perfect at this point.

Next, we took a knife and cut the curd in a grid pattern – feels like you’re cutting nothing, but it’s really working – LOL.  I shook the pot slightly and could see that the cut marks were staying, not healing back up.  Whew!

Gotta heat it up again, to 105, while slowly moving the curds around – not really ‘stirring’. Then, we took it off the heat and kept stirring for a few more minutes. In the photo, you can see the yellowy, watery whey, and the chunks of curd much better now.

Then, we scooped out the chunks of whey with a slotted spoon.  After a while John suggested we use the strainer, which did save us a lot of time, although it was fun, for a while, to stir the goop and find new curds that had sunk to the bottom of the pot. Here are the curds in a glass bowl, with some whey settled around it.

At this point we used the microwave method of heating the curds, then draining off the excess whey, then adding a little salt, and massaging it into a ball-ish form, heating it again, and then stretching it like taffy, until it was smooth and shiny. (The more you stretch/work it the firmer it will be.)

After stretching, we formed it into a ball and cooled it in cold water. After five minutes, we added ice and let it set for 15 more minutes.

Then, as we could barely contain ourselves, we rescued it from the cold bath, patted it dry with paper towels, and cut off a chunk to eat – ohhhh – it was soooo good!  Creamy, a wonderful flavor and consistency. And although it seemed like there were a lot of steps, it only took us about 45 minutes to make it – not bad for cheesemaking newbies!

I highly recommend the Cheesemaking Kit from Cheesemaking.com – and they have a number of other kits and supplies and books too. The directions were easy to follow, and the cheese was delicious! :)

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

I scanned the internet for a good double chocolate chip cookie recipe, and found one that I tweaked a bit – they came out fabulous! Of course, it’s hard to mess up basic chocolate chip cookies, but you don’t want to take serious risks with CHOCOLATE! ;)

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies - photo © Kristen N. Fox

They were gooey when they came out of the oven but after waiting for them to cool down before removing them to the cooling rack, they stiffened up nicely, and then remained chewy for as long as they lasted. I think my swapping out some of the white sugar for brown sugar helped. Also, feel free to use a little less sugar if you like – reviews of the original recipe seemed to indicate that the amount can be flexible according to taste.

Here’s the final recipe I ended up with:

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 oz. bag of chocolate chips

Cream together butter and the sugars. Then add in eggs and vanilla, mixing well.

Blend in cocoa, and then baking soda and salt.

Mix in flour.

Fold in chocolate chips.

From dough, make balls about the size of a rounded teaspoon, place 1.5 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Slightly flatten each ball.

Bake at 350F for 8-9 minutes. Cookies will be gooey when you pull them out of the oven – let them sit in the cookie sheet for at least five minutes before using spatula to remove them to the cooling rack.

Review: Murphy’s Bistro and Tavern

Murphys-Chicken-pot-pie-300x225Kristen and I, and my sister, brother in law and niece all went to Murphy’s Bistro and Tavern in High Falls, NY, the restaurant which replaced the Northern Spy Cafe.

The staff was friendly and the food was amazing! I ordered the Chicken Pot Pie which was delicious. The crust on top was light and flaky, the chicken was tender and the gravy was to die for! Kristen had the burger which came with potato wedges. I sampled both, the wedges were awesome and the burger melts in your mouth. My brother in law had the Shepherd’s Pie which he said was the best he ever had.

For dessert, I had the Bailey’s Cheesecake, Kristen had the Chocolate Mousse, and my sister had the Flourless Chocolate Torte. I sampled all of them, and each one was amazing. The mousse and the torte were both deliciously chocolatey and the cheesecake was rich and creamy.

I will definitely be going back, the hard part is going to be choosing between the Shepherd’s pie, the Pot Pie of the Day, the Philly Cheese Steak Panini or…. Obviously I’ll be going back a lot.

Using the New Bread Pan

I finally had a chance to use the new bread pan John got me over the holidays! It’s for French/Italian type loaves, and, at least in my case, it REALLY helps them keep their shape instead of spreading out too much and going too flat during the second rising.

The pan is about a foot and a half long, so the loaves you’re seeing are a bit on the small side (as compared to, say, Italian bread you’d see in the grocery store), but that worked well for us as we ate one and put the other one in the freezer.

This pan is a Chicago Commerical II pan, and it did a GREAT job – loaves were much rounder and ‘normal’ shape and the holes let the underside get baked properly as well – I’d definitely recommend this pan!  :)

Blueberry Crepes

I decided to make some Blueberry Crepes for our 16th anniversary breakfast. Looking around the web I found a lot of variations but I decided to go with the way I remembered having them as a kid. (Does anyone remember a restaurant called the Crepe and the Pancake?) These were not the rolled kind that caused so many injuries in an episode of Seinfeld, but more gently folded like an omelet.

First step was the whipped cream. I don’t mean the store bought stuff; it only takes a few minutes to throw together the real thing and it’s so worth it! Once made, I put the whipped cream in the fridge and began working on the crepes.

For the filling, I combined blueberries, orange juice, cinnamon, vanilla and salt in a sauce pan and put them on a low heat. I heated them until the blueberries started to soften and release their juices. I set the mixture aside and made the batter next.

The batter is very similar to pancake batter but a lot thinner. I thought it was too thin at first, but decided to trust the recipe and go for it. Flipping them was tricky, I used two spatulas to get the majority of the crepe off of the pan before flipping.

Once they were done I moved the crepes to a plate one by one, spooned in the filling to one side and folded them over. The filling was still warm enough to serve, so there was no need to heat anything. Top them with a dollop of whipped cream, then eat!

The result was delicious! The blueberries were a little tangy which worked really well with the sweetness of the mixture and the whipped cream. The crepes had a soft, almost elastic texture to them which held the filling together but broke easily with a fork. I’ll definitely be making these again in the future.

Blueberry Crepes

Whipped Cream

1 cup of heavy cream
1 tbsp. confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Put ingredients in a medium to large bowl and mix with an electric mixer or a food processor. It will take a couple of minutes but watch it carefully. Stop mixing once peaks start to form or you may end up with butter. Store whipped cream in refrigerator until ready to garnish crepes.

Blueberry Filling

1 pint blueberries
1/2 orange juice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of corn starch
1/8 tsp. of vanilla

Mix blueberries, orange juice, sugar, salt, and vanilla together in a medium saucepan. Heat over low heat until the blueberries start to soften, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle a small amount of corn starch into the mixture and stir. Remove from heat but continue to stir occasionally. If the sauce looks too thin you can add more corn starch and reheat for a few minutes. Be careful not to over starch it though. It’s better for the mixture to be a little runny than it is to taste corn starchy.

Once done, it will probably stay warm enough to spoon right into the crepes, but if not, just reheat over low heat for a few minutes.

Crepes

1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
1 tbsp. Sugar
1 pinch salt

Preheat griddle or pan and add butter or nonstick cooking spray. Once warm, keep it on a low to medium heat.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients first, whisk together thoroughly. Break the eggs in a separate bowl and beat just enough to break the yolks. Add the eggs and milk to the dry mixture and whisk until batter is smooth. It will look very thin, but that’s normal. Use a ladle or pitcher to pour the batter onto the griddle in approximately 9-inch circles, although you can make them bigger or smaller as you wish. Watch for the sides of the crepe to look firm and then gently flip with a spatula. Once both sides are done, place on a plate, scoop the prepared blueberry filling to one side of the crepe circle, then fold the crepe over and garnish with whipped cream.