Pear Hazelnut Bread

Pear-Hazelnut Bread

Pear-Hazelnut Bread

Quick breads often meet my need for something sweet, without a guilt trip about how many calories I’m ingesting.  Of course not all of them meet that description, but this one is a nice compromise between a little sweetness and something you feel good about eating for breakfast.  It bakes up nice and hearty, with shredded pears and chopped hazelnuts folded into a cardamom-scented batter.

This bread would be a welcome addition to a holiday brunch or just nice to have with your morning’s coffee, on an average day.  Although, in my opinion, no day is average when it starts with a home-baked bread or muffin.

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Fresh, firm pears are needed for this recipe, so when they are grated you will not have a pile of mush.  I like Bosc pears but firm Bartletts work well also.  Wait to prepare them until you’re ready to put the bread together or the shredded fruit will turn brown.

While the original recipe for this bread called for 1  1/2 cups white all-purpose flour, I use a mixture of whole grains to make a total of  1 1/2 cups.  Examples are oats, spelt flour, whole wheat flour, and barley flakes.  The proportions should be about 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour, and 1/4 cup something else like oats or barley flakes.  This will give you a bread that is tender with good texture.   Toasting the hazelnuts in the oven for about 5 minutes improves their nutty flavor, but watch them carefully so they don’t get too browned.

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PEAR-HAZELNUT BREAD

Yield:   1  9″x5″ loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shredded, peeled, ripe pears that are still firm (about 2 )
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (see recommended types above)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  •  1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

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Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.  and line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides.  Coat well with cooking spray and set aside.

2.  Whisk together the vegetable oil, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla together well.  Stir in the shredded pears.

3.  Whisk together all the dry ingredients,  adding in the chopped nuts also.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients.

4.  Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones, mixing just to moisten thoroughly.

Mixing wet ingredients into dry.

Mixing wet ingredients into dry.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Test carefully as the top of this loaf may brown and look done while the center is still moist because of the pears.

5.  Let cool in the pan for about an hour, then remove from pan and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

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SOURCE:   Adapted from Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon

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Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

 

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October may be over, but anything pumpkin seems to still be a popular item.  Especially with Thanksgiving coming up.  If pumpkin pie is not your thing, or you would like something other than pie for your holiday dessert table, these dessert squares will surely fit the bill.

Recipes featuring the great orange squash are still popping up everywhere.   I have a whole board devoted to pumpkin on Pinterest….it’s called “Pumpkin Anything” and so many  pictures from that board get repinned.  Today’s recipe is one that I found on Pinterest, one of those quick and easy baked items that use a cake mix for convenience.  You’re gonna love this one 🙂

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This dessert is fabulous,  tasting like pumpkin pie, but rather cake-like,  a cross between cake and a creamy dessert square.  The pecans on top give it some crunch, so you have a nice contrast between the creamy pumpkin layer, the cake layer and the topping.   Oh, and be sure to dollop each serving with some whipped cream.   This makes a 13″ x 9″ pan, so there will be plenty of servings, about 20 – 24.

PUMPKIN CRUNCH CAKE

Yield:    Makes 20 – 24 servingsIMG_8134

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1  12-0z. can evaporated milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 box Yellow Cake mix
  • 1/2 – 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 sticks butter, melted ( I used 1 stick butter and 1/2 cup coconut oil with good results.)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Spray a 13″ x 9″ pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Pour into the prepared baking pan.

3.  Sprinkle the cake mix evenly over the pumpkin layer.   If the mix is very lumpy, run it through a sifter before sprinkling it on.

4.  Sprinkle chopped pecans on top of cake mix.

5.  Drizzle butter over all.    Bake at 350*F. for 50 – 55 minutes or until golden brown.    Cool.

Golden brown from the oven.

Golden brown from the oven.

 

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

This is sooo good!

This is sooo good!

 

SOURCE:   Itty Bitty Homestead

 

Soup’s On

 

A pot of soup for a cool fall evening.

A pot of soup for a cool fall evening.

With Fall just a few short weeks away, and school back in session, many of you (me included) are thinking about warm bowls of soup for cool autumn evenings.  Soups can be the main course or served as a starter.  Making a pot of delicious soup is easier than you may think with prepping being the most time consuming aspect of the whole thing.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while are familiar with the fact that I’m a soup lover, and have produced quite a number of them to share in this space.  New readers, however, may have missed seeing some of them, so today I’m going back into the recipe files and pulling up some of those nice warming bowls of soup for you to review.

With so many vegetables available now, make sure you use the freshest ingredients you can get and also be sure to include grains, pasta and beans for great variety.  Originally soup was made up of anything that was left over, so don’t be afraid to toss in bits and pieces and get creative with your leftovers!

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Bacon and Corn Chowder

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Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

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Butternut Bisque

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Fall Minestrone Soup

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Mexican Ham and Bean Soup

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Tomato Curry Soup

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Tuscan sausage and bean soup

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

Happy Halloween, everyone.  There are no tricks today, just treats!!

Every fall–it never fails, when the leaves start to fall and the weather gets crisp, I start thinking about these cookies–it’s crazy.  Usually I like my cookies to be crisp or chewy, but these are the exception.  They have a cake-like consistency which seems perfect and they taste like a combination of pumpkin pie and chocolate.  After they have cooled I like to drizzle some vanilla glaze over the tops to dress them up a little.   Honestly, they are the best pumpkin cookies I’ve ever tried!

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CHOCOLATE CHIP PUMPKIN COOKIES

Yield:  about 2 dozen cookies, depending on size

Ingredients:

Pumpkin,  spices and chocolate chips = Yummy

Pumpkin + spices + chocolate chips = Yummy

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree ( canned or homemade)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil ( can use applesauce instead)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 drops red or orange food coloring (optional)**
  • 2 cups flour ( white, whole wheat, or a combination)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (we love dark chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 *F.  Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugars, oil and egg.  Add food coloring, if using.

3.  In another bowl, Whisk together the flour, baking powder, spices and salt.

4.  Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and set aside.

5.  Add flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir together.  Stir in the baking soda/milk mixture and mix well.  Stir in vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts.

6.  Drop by tablespoon onto prepared cookie sheet (s) and bake at 350* for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.    I like to roll the dough into a ball and then flatten a little with a fork for a uniform look.  It makes the tops smoother if you plan to drizzle with icing.  An orange butter cream icing on top is wonderful also.

A little frosting drizzled on top fancies them up.

A little frosting drizzled on top fancies them up.

** These cookies will not be orange, therefore by adding the red or orange food coloring, you bring out the orange color of pumpkin.  Somehow when they look like pumpkin, the flavor of pumpkin seems to be more pronounced.  No kidding!

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SOURCE:   ALL RECIPES.COM

A Drive in the Country

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We have been having a spectacular fall here in the Northeast.  October has been a near perfect month with warm daytime temperatures and cool nights, with no frost yet.  The deep blue skies have set off the colorful foliage beautifully.  So on Mr. D’s. birthday which was last weekend, we set off on (another) foliage drive.   Even though some of the color was fading in a few areas it was still quite beautiful, and I was able to capture a variety of scenes with my camera.  Come along with us for a ride.

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For my readers who live in parts of the world where nature does not put on a show like this, I thought you might like to see some of what we experienced through my photographs.

A stream by the side of the road.

A stream by the side of the road.

Every bend in the road brought new delights.

Every bend in the road brought new colors.

I love these old farm houses, especially if they're red.

I love these old farm houses, especially if they’re red.

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A group of kayakers were out on the river, enjoying a beautiful day.  A short distance from this scene we came upon an old covered bridge spanning the river.  The following photos are from that spot.

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One car at a time can pass through this bridge.

Side view of the bridge.

Side view of the bridge.

Along the riverbank, orange leaves and evergreens mixed.

Along the riverbank, orange leaves and evergreens mix.

More of those orange leaves, so bright against the greens.

More of those orange leaves, so bright against the greens and browns.

Continuing on our drive,  we came upon another old farmhouse, beautifully maintained.  Note the stone chimney.

Another old red farmhouse.

Another old red farmhouse.

Another bend in the road brought new sights:

Bend in the road!

Bend in the road!

IMG_5429In New England there are many stone walls.  Constructed by hand to mark property boundaries, you see them everywhere, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one along a river bank like this.

IMG_5446Red barns are a common sight.  This one has an unusual round window on the side.  The weathered barn in the center is attached to the back of the house, seen at the right.

Big and little barns.

Big and little barns.

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Another style of old barn with a silo attached.

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I guess we know who these folks will be rooting for. 😀

At the end of the day,  a scene in my own back yard.  As I look out my kitchen window, I see this tree set “on fire” by the setting sun.  Gorgeous!

Sugar Maple tree lit by the setting sun!

Sugar Maple tree lit by the setting sun!

Hope you have enjoyed the day’s outing with us.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins, Lightened Up

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins.

With the chill that’s been in the air the last few days now, I’m finally getting a desire to eat some of the foods and flavors that we typically associate with fall.  Enjoying a pumpkin latte at Starbucks is pretty high up there on my list of favorite things to do and I have been know to also order a pumpkin spice cream cheese muffin to go with it.  Nothing like a little pumpkin overload.  😀

Now, I know that those muffins contain a whopping number of calories, fat and sugar, but they are so delicious.  As an occasional treat they are OK,  but I would like to enjoy them more frequently in a healthier version.   As luck would have it, I recently came across a recipe on-line for a copycat of the pumpkin muffins, and so with that as a basis, I set out to lighten it up, and see if I could still retain the luscious taste of the original muffin.

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In my opinion these are pretty close to the original.  If not an exact duplicate, they are close enough to be equally enjoyable, and a whole lot healthier.  My makeover included replacing the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat, replacing much of the oil with applesauce, reducing the sugar, and using low-fat cream cheese for the filling.  In addition, I made a crumb topping that includes oats for extra texture and a little more fiber.  These muffins have been a hit with everyone who has had them, and I feel much better about sharing them, knowing that they are not such calorie bombs!.

The on-line recipe makes a total of 24 muffins, which is way too many for me and Mr. D., so I cut it in half and made only 12 muffins.  The full recipe is presented here for those of you who like to make larger quantities, but can easily be halved if you want to.  The muffins freeze very well, and rewarm nicely in the microwave.   In fact, they are more spicy and intensely flavorful when warm.

LIGHTER PUMPKIN CREAM CHEESE MUFFINS

Yield:   24 muffins

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. honey

For the muffins:

Five spices plus cocoa and molasses make them intensely flavorful.

Five spices plus cocoa and molasses make them intensely flavorful.

  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2  tsp. ginger
  • 4  tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp. molasses
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

For the topping: *

  • 4 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour
  • 7 Tbsp. old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 Tbsp. turbinado (coarse) sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces

Directions:

1.   Make the filling:  combine the cream cheese and honey in a small bowl.  Beat with an electric beater until smooth.  Scrape onto a piece of wax paper, and shape into a long roll (log), not any wider than a muffin cup.  Place into the freezer to chill while you mix up the batter and fill the pans.

Make filling, roll into a log and chill it.

Make filling, roll into a log and chill it.

2.  Make the muffins:  Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.  In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients ( flour through baking soda).

In  another bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, oil and applesauce.  Blend well.  Add to dry ingredients, and stir just until incorporated.

3.  Make the topping:  combine all ingredients except butter in a medium bowl.  Whisk to blend.  Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two forks until mixture is course and crumbly.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Have the topping all made and ready.

Have the topping all made and ready.

4.  Assemble muffins:  fill each muffin cup with a small amount of batter ( 1 – 2 Tablespoons) just to cover bottom of the liner.

A little batter in the bottom of each cup.

A little batter in the bottom of each cup.

Remove filling from freezer and cut into 24  slices.  Place one slice of filling in each muffin cup.

Put a slice of filling into each cup.

Put a slice of filling into each cup.

Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing it on top of the cream cheese to cover completely.

Cover with remaining batter.

Cover with remaining batter.

Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each muffin.

Sprinkle on topping.

Sprinkle on topping.

5.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.  A toothpick inserted near the center should test clean. (Avoid the cream cheese filling.) Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

Imagine biting into one of these!

Imagine biting into one of these!

This will be extremely difficult to do, but the filling gets very hot, so please resist temptation.  😀

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins,  unbelievably delicious.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins, unbelievably delicious.

*  Topping is completely optional.  These muffins are great with or without the topping.  Chopped walnuts or pecans could be mixed into the topping, or sprinkled on top in place of the topping.

P. S.  I wish I had made 24, because now they are all gone and I just have to make more.

SOURCE:   Heavily adapted from Food.com