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Pumpkin Palooza Recipe of the Day: Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

21 Nov

Done….

Originally posted on November 14, 2011

The recipe I’m sharing today is one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Each year this is what we have for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, and we grill it, which is superb! The kids all watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade while they eat their grilled bread. I also usually make mini loaves of this to give the individual teachers as a gift, as well as two loaves to put in the faculty rooms at the kids’ school and my husband’s school as a thank you to everyone. Last year I think I tripled the recipe, if I remember correctly and had to mix it in a huge stock pot. Not sure what my plan of attack will be this year, but I have already stocked up on my cranberries and my pumpkin!

Enjoy!

PUMPKIN CRANBERRY BREAD

INGREDIENTS

2 cups pumpkin puree (1 can of One Pie Pumpkin = 2 cups)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
4 eggs, large
1/2 cup Canola or Vegetable oil
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
12 ounce package of fresh or frozen cranberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease loaf pan(s). You can either use two large loaf pans or 3 mini loaf pans.

Beat together pumpkin, sugar, water, eggs and oil.

Sift in remaining ingredients except cranberries. Mix just until smooth.

Gently fold in cranberries.

Pour into loaf pan(s) and spread evenly.

Bake in the center of oven for 60 – 70 minutes for large loaves, less time (40-50 minutes) for smaller loaves or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Do not overbake or bread will be dry.

Cool in pan on a rack for 10 – 15 minutes. Turn bread(s) out onto rack and finish cooling.

Bread may be made in advance, covered and chilled for up to four days.(When I make two loaves for us I often save one to eat and keep one to freeze to eat at a later date.)

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Pumpkin Palooza Recipe of the Day: Pilgrim Pies

20 Nov

Pumpkin flavored whoopie pies!

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON NOVEMBER 18, 2011

Last year, around Thanksgiving, a friend passed along to me a recipe for Pilgrim Pies, otherwise known as pumpkin flavored whoopie pies. My husband loves whoopie pies and he was laid up in a cast last year at this time, so as a special treat I made these for him and some of his friends who came to visit the night before Thanksgiving. They all gave them a thumbs up, so here is the recipe for you. Thanks to reader Jen B. who told me that this recipe actually originated from “Family Fun,” which is one of my all-time favorite magazines.

Ingredients for the Pumpkin “Cookies”

2 eggs

2 c of light brown sugar

1 c oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin

3 c flour

1 T pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Ingredients for filling:

4 ounces of cream cheese, softened

1/2 c butter, softened

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 – 5 c of confectioners’ sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Heat overn to 350 degrees.

Beat the eggs, brown sugar, oil and vanilla in a mixing bowl until smooth.

Stir in the pumpkin.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture a half cup at a time, blending each time until smooth.Drop a heaping tablespoon (I use my Pampered Chef medium sized scooper for jumbo cookies, small scooper for smaller sized cookies) onto an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a bowl until light and fluffy.

Mix in the confectioners’ cugar a half cup at a time, until the frosting is spreadable.

There is usually extra frosting.

Finally, assemble the pies.

Monday Musings: the making of One Small Butterfly Caps

9 Oct

One Small Butterfly Caps are for those who have lost their hair battling cancer.

This past weekend, two of our kids made public a project they’ve been working on for a couple of months now: One Small Butterfly Caps. They are reversible chemo caps for people who have lost their hair battling cancer. They were inspired by so many people who have fought the disease, but by several in particular.

Last fall, my oldest daughter was in class when her Algebra teacher announced she was leaving for surgery and recovery, battling breast cancer for the second time in a short number of years. She was young, with a husband and young kids, and visibly shaken as she told her high school math students she’d be out for a length of time. My daughter Caroline, her peers and the faculty at school were so upset and so worried for her.

Later in the school year, her teacher returned to school with the arrival of springtime. During one conversation, she happened to mention to the students how hard it was to find a good chemo cap that was affordable and stylish and matched her wardrobe. She was frustrated.

As someone who sews, my daughter thought she could sew her a cap that would fit her needs, and she put it on her “to do” list. Before she knew it, her teacher wasn’t wearing a cap any longer, her hair was growing back in. However, it was almost summertime and my aunt was about to undergo chemotherapy and would be losing her hair. My daughter decided to make her great aunt a chemo cap. Before she could do it, our aunt took a turn for the worse in July, ended up in the hospital, and a month later, lost her battle to a cancer she’d been successfully fighting for almost three decades. My daughter was devastated that she had to permanently cross this off her list, never having been able to give her a stylish handmade cap.

In stepped Elizabeth to take on and carry out the chemo cap project.

As she talked about how upset she was, she mentioned that she had even printed out an easy pattern, but just hadn’t gotten to do it in time. Our middle daughter, Elizabeth also sews, as does our youngest daughter, Alexandra. Neither of the younger two work outside the house, while our oldest holds down a part time job in addition to her after-school activities. Elizabeth decided right then and there that she would take on the chemo cap project and start making caps in advance for those who would need them. Alexandra offered to help, doing some of the sewing, but specifically interested in working on the social media aspect of the project and setting up a website.

Within days, Elizabeth had taken $40 of her own money to purchase fabrics and Alexandra had set up an Instagram page where all of the caps are pictured as they are finished, and had started working on a website. She began to keep track of what they were spending, how many they were making and specifically what they needed for materials, keeping copious notes of everything as they went along.

One Small Butterfly Caps were born that day in August during that very conversation, named in honor of those who have suddenly gone too soon from our lives, created in honor of all those we’ve lost already, but designed to help all those who will be fighting this awful disease going forward.

Alex was up, creating the perfect website early one morning.

The girls’ mission was to make functional, stylish, reversible, affordable chemo caps that would help people feel good about how they look as they fight their battle, thinking back to Caroline’s teacher and the conversation about her frustrations this past spring.

For days, prior to the start of school, they worked day in and day out, using the pattern designed for the adult sized caps, and modifying it to create smaller sized caps for kids too. They chose fun fabrics and beautiful fabrics, hoping to meet the needs of people with a variety of tastes. We didn’t say much about it to very many people, they just kept working on caps until school began. In mid- September, we mourned the loss of yet another close friend of our family who also lost her life to cancer.

Here is one of their reversible caps with a fun travel themed fabric on one side and a versatile creamy fabric on the other side.

Before we knew it, it was October, and it is specifically a month for breast cancer awareness. Although the girls didn’t have a huge amount of caps stockpiled yet, they decided to launch their One Small Butterfly Caps website and they were thrilled when Jerilyn Perry, owner and operator of Jerilyn’s Sewing School where all our girls have learned to sew, and where Caroline now works, offered them the opportunity to sell some of their caps in her store, The Creative Corner, which is attached to the sewing school. They were excited for the opportunity, so grateful to Jerilyn for her continued support, and this past Saturday they chose four of their favorite caps, two for adults and two for kids, and brought them to the store, where they will sell for $15 and $20 apiece for the small and large sizes, respectively.

Four favorite One Small Butterfly Caps were chosen to be the first ever to be for sale in stores this past weekend.

The One Small Butterfly Caps website is up and running now too, and soon the girls will be putting some caps for sale online as well. In the meantime, the sewing machines will be running again soon, and more fun fabrics await. For now, it is their hope that their One Small Butterfly Caps will be able to begin helping to make a difference in the lives of those who are living and fighting their battle with cancer.

Fun Friday: One-bowl brownies from Gluten-Free Living

6 Oct

Since finding this recipe at the end of the summer, we have made it at least four or five times.

Recently, I mentioned that when we cleaned out our kitchen to be redone, I had a huge pile of recipes and cookbooks to go through once we were ready to reload. In that pile was also a small pile of Gluten-Free Living magazines that I had put aside as they came in every other month, hoping for a day to go through them with my daughter.

At some point near the middle of August we found a day and we went through and pulled out any recipes we wanted to try, and recycled the rest of the magazines. Today’s recipe is one of the ones we pulled out to try. It’s from the newest issue, the September/October 2017 magazine that had just come in August. It is for a one-bowl recipe for brownies. I love anything that has very little cleanup, so one bowl appeals to me. I also love my new glass mixing bowl that I got in the springtime when my old plastic bowl broke, so I looked forward to the chance to use it as our one bowl.

This recipe was so easy that my daughter, who is 12, could make the whole thing by herself, with very little direction or help from me, other than some clarifying details. Additionally, I always enjoy a good teachable moment in the kitchen, and I loved showing her how the brownie batter doesn’t start out dark, but becomes so when you add in the unsweetened cocoa powder. It’s a simple thing, but when we make them out of a box, they start out chocolatey, so it was unusual for her to see the transition from a plain batter to a chocolate batter.

Like magic, it becomes chocolatey.

 

I’ll never not use parchment paper again.

In the months since we made this recipe for the first time, we have used it at least four or five more times, and we have doubled it depending on how many we were baking for. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s delicious. More importantly, people say that it doesn’t taste gluten-free. The brownies are thick and fudgy, just as brownies should be.

We started a new baking habit with this recipe and actually followed the directions for lining the bowl with parchment paper, which we sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. I always skipped doing this in the past, just spraying my baking dish, but my daughter wanted to use the paper, and we had it, and we’ll never go back to not using it again. The cleanup is super easy and the brownies can be lifted out, cooled and cut right on the paper.

Here is the recipe, I hope you’ll give it a try!

One-Bowl Brownies
from Gluten-Free Living magazine

Makes 12 brownies

Ingredients

non-stick cooking spray

1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup gluten-free flour blend (they recommended Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour, which we use as well.)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Line an 8×8 baking pan with foil or parchment paper, allowing the edges to hang over the side. This makes removal easy. Spray the foil or parchment paper lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together butter and granulated sugar until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined. Add the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir batter until smooth.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake until set, about 20 minutes. A cake tester inserted into the center of the pan should come out with a few damp crumbs clinging to it.

Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack, about two hours.

Lift the brownies from the pan using the foil, cut into squares.

Monday Musings: The story of our Little Free Library

2 Oct

It took us a couple of years, but we were finally able to open our Little Free Library yesterday!

Yesterday, October 1, 2017, we officially opened our very own Little Free Library. It was a project two years in the making and it means a great deal to us. Inside our library I have placed a binder which tells the history of our library along with some photos of the process from 2015 to now. I thought I’d share it here as well, for those who are not local and can’t just take a drive by to check it out in person.

In 2013, a friend gave us an article about a local Little Free Library from the Providence Journal. You can read that article here.

“If anyone would want to do this, it would be you and your family,” they said.

That following winter, we were in Providence with my brother for brunch, and we went looking for the Little Free Library we’d read about in the article, and found it.

We went exploring and found the Little Free Library from the article.

We decided that we too, wanted to have a Little Free Library. We began considering what sort of material to use for ours, but it seemed a bit beyond us, and buying a ready-made one was cost prohibitive for us.

 

 

 

 

 

In the summer of 2015, Chloe Rigg contacted me to do a story for the Cranston Herald about the Little Free Library she and her husband Jim had opened at their home in Cranston. You can read that story here.

I loved visiting with Jim and Chloe Rigg and learning about their Little Free Library. I even found a cookbook inside, that I still have today.

When I told Jim and Chloe Rigg that our family had really wanted to do a Little Free Library too, he offered to help us. He’d use his leftover scraps to create a kit for us. The girls and I could come to their house one Sunday and make it with him, step by step. He had the girls send him some design ideas for our library. A treehouse design, incorporating a fairy garden was soon in the works.

On September 20, 2015, we spent the day at the Rigg house, creating our library together with Jim.

Jim Rigg spent the entire day with us in his garage, walking us through every step of building our library and explaining what we were doing and why.

It was our intention to put it up the following spring, but it was that spring that we ended up unexpectedly having to start our kitchen renovations, and it delayed our ability to get the library up and finished. This summer, we finished up the bulk of the kitchen work and in September we were able to change our focus back to finishing up the Little Free Library project.

Now, exactly two years later, almost to the day, we are ready to open our Little Free Library.

Sadly, Jim Rigg passed away unexpectedly, just four months after we spent the day with him. We were devastated to receive that news, and we attended his memorial service that January of 2016.

We have dedicated our Little Free Library to Jim and his memory. Without him, it would not be possible and we know he would be so proud to see it open for business now.

We were incredibly sad to hear that Jim Rigg had passed away soon after our day spent together. We will think of him every day as we run our own Little Free Library. We made a plaque for ours, to honor him and the dedication he showed us out of the goodness of his heart.

We are forever grateful for Jim’s time and dedication and for the impact he has had on us and our memories from the making of our own Little Free Library and we can’t wait to see what stories we will have to share from this new endeavor.

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What’s for dinner Wednesday: two weeks of meals and a new kitchen toy

27 Sep

It seemed as if everyone was getting one of these for Christmas last year. I watched, and I waited, and then I bargain-shopped.

Happy Wednesday! Since it’s been a while since I gave you a two week menu, I thought I owed you a really good post when I shared one this time around. To that end, I have the two week menu, some new recipes to go along with it, and our experiences with a new kitchen toy.

It’s been a while since we got a new”toy” to add to our collection of small kitchen appliances, but around Christmastime last year, I started seeing this new Instant Pot appliance floating around blog posts and status updates, and my interest was definitely piqued. When I looked it up, the appliance was a bit costly, and with our impending kitchen renovations, not a priority at the time.

However, it’s a new school year, we have the usual “stuff” each night and/or after school, and yet we still try to eat as healthy as we can, at home, as often as we can, together. This Instant Pot seemed to really be calling my name, in that it seemed it might be able to help us continue to achieve those goals.

I finally bit the bullet, as they say, and on the advice of my friend Kim, I used a Kohl’s coupon code to get one for 30% off, on sale, with Kohl’s Cash (and earning Kohl’s cash with the purchase too) and I scored the Instant Pot for $75 (no shipping, including tax). I picked it up in the store, carried it home, and then I wondered what exactly to do with it. It reminded me of when they send you home with a new baby: it’s very intimidating, it makes some crazy noises, and you’re not quite sure if you know what to do if something goes wrong, or how to know if you’re doing everything right. For such a tiny appliance, it’s got a big intimidation factor, just like a new baby.

Ratitouille was a request from our oldest daughter as a new recipe to try. She cited the fact that we like all the veggies that come in it, so why not try it?

We let it sit there for almost a week, and then as the following weekend approached, we broke it out and did just what you’re not supposed to do: we used it (or attempted to) without reading the directions. We were also making a new recipe for Ratitouille, which is something we’d never made before with any recipe, never mind a recipe for use with a new appliance. New recipe, new appliance, no directions. Well played. Dinner took over an hour to make because we had no idea what we were doing, but it was delicious and although we were still a bit wary, we were thinking we liked this new toy. If we knew what we were doing, we’d like it even more.

These potatoes were so fast, so easy and I used them a total of three different times, for pork, for leftover salmon, and for a potato and egg omelet.

In the meantime, two of my friends, Gina and Marcia, also bought an Instant Pot the same week I did, and we all took our new “babies” home within days of each other and a texting thread emerged, sharing recipes, tips, new “parent” fears and more.  There were some successes in that thread, and we began to try each other’s recipes the following week. I chose to make Gina’s potatoes to go along with our grilled pork tenderloin one night and Marcia inspired me to try out a Mac and Cheese recipe another night.

During our trial week, the kids would come home each night from wherever, and joke that we were at it again, making something in the Instant Pot, moving it around to the best location in the kitchen, and they’d shake their heads, but they enjoyed each and every meal we made with it, and I joked that by using it every day, we didn’t need to find a place to store it. (I wasn’t really joking.)

On Sunday, a few days into our Instapot cooking adventures, we tried something new. We took a recipe we’d made before, nicknamed “Liz’s soup” because she requested it last year and I copied the recipe off a video and I have no idea where it came from originally. It was a crockpot recipe last year, but we didn’t have enough time to devote to using the crockpot this time around. Instead we found a recipe that was similar, had the same sorts of ingredients more or less, but used the Instant Pot to cook it. We adapted our recipe for Liz’s soup to that recipe for chicken stew, and presto….we had a delicious soup in a short amount of time. Each time we cooked, we seemed to have more of an idea of what we were doing, and in the meantime, with three of us friends trying out recipes every night, we had triple the ideas and solutions to any problems.

And so, today I share with you our two week menu, some new recipe links to go along with the menu items, and my encouragement for you to try out your Instant Pot too, if you haven’t yet, and if you haven’t jumped on that bandwagon, maybe this will be helpful to you in your own decision-making and bargain-shopping process.

Growing up, I’d only had Ratitouille at my friend Jen’s house. Her mom made it often. I channeled my memories of them as we ate this delicious meal over rice and chicken.

Two Weeks of Meals

WEEK ONE: In the days before the Instant Pot

Monday: Pastene Soup recipe here (Today I brought the Instant Pot home!)

Tuesday: Meatloaf Burgers recipe here

Wednesday: Paninis recipe here

Thursday: The Instant Pot is Opened:
Ratitouille recipe here 

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Grilled salmon with pesto (be watching for a post about this meal in the coming days!

WEEK TWO:

This soup is delicious and makes the house smell wonderful!

Sunday: Liz’s soup, adapted using this recipe

Monday: Grilled pork tenderloin, frozen homemade applesauce from the last time we grilled pork, and these Instant Pot potatoes.

Tuesday: Leftovers again!

Wednesday: Six Sisters Macaroni and Cheese (I am making this recipe tonight, but sharing it now. Gina and Marcia have made it already, and I love the Six Sisters’ recipes any time I try them!)

Thursday: Burritos and Quesadillas

Friday: We are leaving our new “baby” home and going out to dinner, we’ve definitely earned a night out tonight!

Liz’s Soup is amazing, especially if you top it with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese and use some crunchy tortilla chips on the side!

 

If I still used refrigerator magnets…

18 Sep

Even though I wasn’t busy blogging, I was still busy writing for you!

Which I don’t, because they would scratch my new refrigerator, but if I did…I’d want to post some of my latest work with the Cranston Herald and with the Providence Journal.

Although wasn’t active on this blog all summer, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t writing and eating, and eating and writing, because I definitely was!

In addition to writing about eating and eating so I can write about it, I was also preparing for the school year ahead, which will be our first senior year. Of course that means that not only was I preparing for it, I was also writing about it. I also chose to write about other experiences that people have had with their senior years as well as people who have a little more experience and could share their advice with the rest of us.

So today I have many things to share with you.

First off: I had two great dining experiences at Milestone Kitchen & Bar here in Cranston, and I wrote about them in the Providence Journal here. If you are looking for an affordable dining spot with a varied menu for all taste buds, I highly recommend you give Milestone a try. You can check out their website here.

Eating, and writing about eating!

Next up: I had the pleasure of interviewing Murray and Deby Kaplan who own Rainbow Bakery, a Jewish Bakery here in Cranston. I learned about Murray’s grandfather and the bakery he started 100 years ago this year, and all that Murray and his family have done to keep his family’s baking legacy alive. I also sampled many delicious pastries! I loved meeting the Kaplans and telling their story. You can read it here. To see what they’re offering for the upcoming High Holidays, check out their Facebook Page here.

And I thought college times one was a big deal…

And finally: I have done a series of three (so far) Cranston Herald articles about high school seniors/college freshman and the experience of that journey for parents and kids alike. The first article is about sending not one, not two, but three high school seniors to college at the same time! I have known these triplets since they were three, when my oldest daughter went to preschool with them, and now in the blink of an eye, they are off to college. You can read about their senior year and summer preparations here. You can read about our own preparations as we head into our first senior year with our daughter here. And, just so we all know that it does get easier from there, you can read some perspective from other parents who have done this before, in the latest article, here. Let’s hope they’re right!

I made several trips to Rainbow Bakery this summer and fall!

They say it does get better…