Monthly Archives: October 2012

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Bread

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Of course I had to jump on the bandwagon and post a pumpkin recipe!

Of all the pumpkin food and drinks out there, I would have to say pumpkin bread is my very favorite. Every Thanksgiving, my mom makes 2 or 3 loaves of pumpkin bread and they are always gobbled up within a few days. Panera Bread’s pumpkin muffins are also up there, with the powdered sugar topping – yum.

The great thing about baking with puréed vegetables or fruit, such as pumpkin or banana, is that it pretty much ensures you come out with a tender, moist product. Baking always used to intimidate me (and often still does), but I’ve learned that as long as you follow the directions carefully and don’t stray too far from the original ingredients, you will be successful. A little practice helps too, of course. 🙂

This pumpkin bread is lighter than some other recipes, using vegetable oil instead of butter and a mixture of whole wheat and white flour. The original recipe (see below for link) looked delightful, but I really love cinnamon, so I decided to add a cinnamon swirl to my bread. I learned how to do this when I made this delicious Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread via Sally’s Baking Addiction. You simply add half the batter to the pan, sprinkle with a cinnamon-sugar mixture, then add the rest of the batter – easy but looks fancy!

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Bread (adapted from Cookie and Kate)
makes 1 9 x 5 inch loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • for the cinnamon swirl:
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
    • 3/4 tsp cinnamon

    *If you don’t have pre-mixed pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can use a combination of 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp cloves, as called for in the original recipe.

Ingredients

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Lightly spray one 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine oil and honey and stir. In a separate smaller bowl, combine brown sugar, both eggs, and vanilla. Whisk together and add to honey and oil mixture.
  3. Add pumpkin purée, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice to bowl. Mix until smooth.
  4. To the pumpkin mixture, add both flours and stir just until combined and uniform.
  5. In a small cup, dissolve baking soda in 1/4 cup hot water. Once dissolved, pour into bread batter and stir.
  6. To prepare the cinnamon swirl, simply combine the 3 ingredients listed. Pour half of the bread batter into the greased pan, sprinkle the cinnamon swirl mixture on top, add the rest of the batter, and then crumble the remaining cinnamon sugar on top of that.
  7. Place in the oven for 55-60 minutes. (I think I cooked mine for about 58 minutes.) If a toothpick can be inserted to the bread and come out clean, it is done.
  8. Let bread cool for about an hour or two before slicing. Serve alone, or with a bit of butter or cream cheese.

Combine brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla, and then add to honey and oil mixture

Add pumpkin and spices

Stir in flours, and then baking soda dissolved in hot water and mix all together

After pouring in half of the batter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Add rest of batter on top, and finish off with another sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.

When your bread comes out of the oven, it will look something like this

Mmmm 🙂

Buffalo Chicken Soup

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The idea for this soup came from a restaurant I ate at in Maine over the summer. Their appetizer menu included a creamy buffalo chicken soup that I couldn’t say no to. Even though I’m pretty certain they cheaped out and used canned chicken, the soup still had a really great flavor.

I wanted to re-create this soup, but try to lighten in up. I was recently reading about substitutes for cream in cooking and learned about evaporated milk. For those of you who don’t know, evaporated milk is real milk in which about 60% of the water has been removed. It has a similar consistency to heavy cream, but will save you more than half the fat and calories. It works wonderfully as a substitute in soups, sauces, and even desserts calling for cream. It comes canned so there is some processing involved, but all in all is a great option if you’re looking to cut calories.

This soup is creamy, hearty, and lightly spiced with Frank’s RedHot. It comes together in under 40 minutes and makes a great weeknight meal or appetizer. It’s perfect for chilly fall weather, or when you just need some simple comfort food. It tastes delicious served with shredded cheese and a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream. With a satisfying flavor like buffalo chicken, it’s hard to go wrong!

Buffalo Chicken Soup
makes 4 large or 6 small servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
  • 2 tsp Ranch seasoning (I used part of a Hidden Valley packet)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper and/or red pepper flakes
  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s RedHot cayenne pepper sauce, or other hot sauce of choice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 14-oz can evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • optional toppings: shredded cheddar cheese or bleu cheese, plain yogurt, diced green onions

your ingredients

plus one of these guys

Directions:

  1. In a 3-4 quart cooking pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat. Add diced onion and carrots and saute for 10 minutes, or until softened slightly.
  2. Add diced celery and garlic and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, stirring every so often.
  3. Add cooked shredded chicken, Ranch seasoning, and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook for about 1 minute, or until spices become fragrant.
  4. Pour in chicken stock, hot sauce, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, and then lower heat and let the soup simmer while preparing step 5.
  5. In a small mixing bowl, combine evaporated milk and cornstarch. Stir and let it sit for a few minutes, until the cornstarch has dissolved and no lumps remain.
  6. Pour milk and cornstarch mixture into soup and stir. Return the soup to a low simmer and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with optional cheese, yogurt, and green onions.

dice those veggies.

saute the carrots and onions, then add celery and garlic

add shredded chicken and spices

pour in chicken stock, hot sauce, and bay leaf

prepare your “roux” by combining evaporated milk and cornstarch. let it sit until all lumps have dissolved and it has a smooth texture

pour milk mixture into soup and let simmer for another few minutes

serve with cheese and green onions

and enjoy 🙂

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie & What I’ve Been Up To Lately

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It is my goal, as I’ve mentioned before, to update this blog with a recipe at least once a week. The past month to month and a half have been especially busy for me, and I’ve found myself falling short of that goal multiple times. Not only did I have my wisdom teeth out last month, but I also moved into a new apartment right outside of Boston with two of my close friends from school! Senior year of college, we all dreamed of having a cute little apartment in the outskirts of Boston, but I didn’t believe it would really happen so soon.

The first few weeks of apartment hunting were full of ups and downs; in early September, we found an apartment we fell in love with, went through all the paperwork and were told all was going smoothly and we would be signing the lease within a few days, just to then be told that the owner chose other tenants (which we later found out was not true – ouch!) I was a little bit heart broken and still daydream about that apartment, but I suppose it was just too good to be true. In mid-September, we found another place that met all of our needs and decided to go for it, keeping our fingers crossed. This time we got lucky, and we now call that apartment home!

So the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sorting through all of my belongings and packing up my life. Last weekend, with the help of my family, I moved into our new apartment and have been living there for the past few days. Unfortunately, I realized I left my camera  at my mom’s and wasn’t able to upload any photos to this blog. I’m back at my mom’s to collect the last of my things, including the camera, so hopefully I can get back on track with weekly blog updating!

Anyway, before I moved, I photographed a delicious smoothie that I made. After I found frozen cherries at my grocery store the week before, I knew I had to somehow incorporate them into a recipe. This smoothie is packed with fruit, protein, a hint of chocolate, and lots of flavor. Feel free to add spinach or kale to get even more nutrients!

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie
makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 1/4 cup sliced frozen bananas
  • 1/8 cup chocolate protein powder (or other flavor – optional)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and add any additional ingredients as you find necessary. (I added about 1 tsp sugar to make it a little bit sweeter. A splash of milk may also be needed if it’s too thick.) Serve immediately, or freeze for later use.

combine all ingredients in blender

yum!

Since I didn’t bring my camera to my new apartment, I’ve been using my iPhone to take photos of what I’ve been eating lately.

Made my 3-Bean Turkey Chili last week

Made a tofu & veggie stir-fry a few days ago

And I also wanted to share something cool I learned via Pinterest: If you buy green onions (scallions, or spring onions) and they come with the roots attached, you can easily grow your own at home! After you’ve used up the green parts, simply trim them down to where the white part ends and stick them in a small cup with an inch or two or water. Put them in a sunny location and the green parts will shoot up in a matter of days and be ready to eat!

When I came home last night, after leaving them for 5 more days (for a total of 9 days), this is what they looked like:

I’ve heard this also works for herbs such as cilantro and parsley. I found this exciting because those are things I buy every week at the store, and now I can easily grow them at home! Hopefully next summer I’ll have learned more about gardening and can plant a proper herb/vegetable garden.

Anybody else know of cool secrets/shortcuts like this that you’d like to share?