Re-Post: Pumpkin Bread

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It’s my favorite cooking and baking time of year again! I love the weather change, (which wont be happening here anytime soon), and all the comforting and hearty dishes that I wait all year to make. As soon as it cools down here, I want to make this chili,  arroz con leche, this pot roast, and of course – Thanksgiving dinner!

Anyone who loves pumpkin anything, really enjoys this bread. I have been making it for years, and in this re-post I have added all my modifications. Even my husband who isn’t at all a fan of pumpkin anything said that it tastes “okay” 😉 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread – adapted from Allrecipes

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup oil or butter – I used 1/2 grapeseed, 1/2 unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (437 grams)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg – fresh is best
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Directions –

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare two 9×5 loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for about 60-70 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Roasted Vegetable, Goat Cheese and Pesto Sandwich

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The vegetables smelled amazing while roasting. I hope that is a good indicator of flavor 😉

Verdict: This is the best meatless sandwich I have ever eaten, and easily top five of all the sandwiches I have ever made. The kale pesto is so flavorful, the creamy goat cheese adds a tangy bite and the veg – seriously, this combination of ingredients is a match made in culinary heaven 😉 My husband would not touch this with a ten foot pole – it has the three out of four ingredients he refuses to eat. Oh well, more for me! My friend and I greedily/happily ate both of our sandwiches and can’t wait for the next time! I could have eaten this again for dinner…I may have a problem! 😉 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Roasted Vegetable Goat Cheese Pesto Sandwich – adapted from Wonderful Joy Ahead

  • 1 baguette (I bought mine at Panera Bread – totally worth the $2.79!)
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup of fresh pesto (I used this kale pesto)
  • 2T+ chevre goat cheese
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps (*I had 12 oz of cremini mushrooms*)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
 Directions –
Preheat oven to 475. Line two baking sheets with foil.
Gently wash the mushrooms and cut out the stem. Cut all vegetables in large pieces. In a large bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add the vegetables to the oil mixture and coat well. Place veggies in a single layer on the baking sheets, making sure each veggie touches the foil and is not on top of another vegetable. Place the vegetables in the oven. Roast for about 15 minutes, flipping the vegetables over at the 7 minute mark. They are ready to take out when the onions are starting to char on the edges and the peppers get nice blisters on the skin.
While the vegetables are in the oven, cut your bread to the length that you want your sandwich.  Slice in half and remove part of the inside to make room for the filling.
Spread 2-3T of pesto on one half of each sandwich. Then spread 1-2T of goat cheese on the other half of each sandwich.
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Remove the vegetables from the oven, and layer the vegetables in tidy layers over the bread. Close the sandwich up. Place on the baking sheets and put back in the oven to let the residual heat warm up the cheese for 5 minutes.

Pasta with Mushroom, White Wine and Cream

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I love cremini mushroom,s and this dish is a new vegetarian fave of mine!  Out of all the produce that I have ever prepared, mushrooms are by far the most rich, meaty and flavorful. Of course, it helps to season and cook them properly; and I have my two favorite methods down! I love sautĂŠing them in olive oil, butter and garlic; and a close second is roasting them with olive oil, salt and pepper. I had to fudge the amounts of ingredients in this recipe because the metric system and standard measurements don’t play well together 😉 When I make it again, I try adding some fresh thyme to cut through some of the richness of the sauce. This recipe yields about four servings, but if you served it as a side dish you could get at least six smaller servings. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Pasta with Mushroom, White Wine and Cream – adapted from Real Italian Foodies

  • 10 ounces dried pasta – pappardelle, fettucine, tagliatelle.
  • 1 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • grated Parmesan
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions –

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add salt and pasta – cook until al dente.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil. Once the butter has melted, add your cleaned and sliced mushrooms along with the minced garlic. Cook until the mushrooms begin to turn brown – don’t salt the veg until this happens, about 5-7 minutes. Season the veg with salt and pepper to taste, then pour the white wine into the pan to deglaze. Continue cooking until the wine has evaporated, add your cream and Parmesan cheese, turn the heat to low and simmer until the sauce has thickened.

Drain the pasta and add it to your sauce, mix together and serve with extra Parmesan cheese.

Coney Island Chili Dog

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I have never been to Coney Island, so I can’t verify authenticity of flavor; but we really enjoyed it – my boy gave me two enthusiastic thumbs up 😉 It’s not at all spicy and the celery seed is an interesting but welcome addition to this meaty sauce. Also, if you’re a fan of bread making you could make these buns. These are flavorful with a much heartier texture than store bought buns so they hold up well to the chili. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Coney Island Chili Dog – adapted from Key Ingredient

  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1- six-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin (heaping)
  • Âź teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions –

Brown ground beef in a skillet, adding onions half way through. Add minced garlic when meat is nearly done. Add remaining ingredients; stir well to combine. Simmer over low heat 15 minutes. Serve over hot dogs!

Parmesan Garlic Bread

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When in doubt – add more carbs and cheese, right? I wanted a quick garlic bread recipe to go along side this loaded potato soup for our dipping pleasure. The garlic/butter mixture added great flavor to this simple french loaf; and it’s less work that our favorite garlic bread recipe. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Parmesan Garlic Bread – adapted from Simply Scratch

  • 1 loaf of Italian Bread (*I used a loaf of this bread*)
  • 4 TBSP Unsalted Butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2-3 TBSP olive oil
  • 3 cloves of Garlic, minced
  •  1 tablespoon Shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoons Parsley, minced (I used about 1 tsp of dried parsley)
  • Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
  • Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper, to taste

Directions –

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut your french bread in half and then take the two halves and split those down the middle lengthwise. Combine the garlic, shallots, parsley, salt, black pepper, softened butter, olive oil and Parmesan. Mix until all the ingredients are combined. Slice the Italian loaf lengthwise and heavily smear half of the butter mixture on each of the halves. Bake for 7 minutes – take the bread out and sprinkle your grated cheese over top each piece. Place back in the oven until the cheese melts and is nicely browned – about 3-5 minutes. Cut into slices and enjoy!

Caesar Dressing

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Whenever we go out to restaurants, he always orders a Caesar salad…always! I have only tasted a bite or two during my lifetime and I never understood the hype. I knew that one day I would have to make my own dressing, and I was sure that it would make all the difference. Homemade beats bottled any day, right? Well, I was pleasantly surprised with the savory, bold and tangy flavor of this dressing. I’m used to the oil/vinegar based dressings and I rarely make creamy ones.

First I made the homemade mayonnaise which is so easy to make and you don’t even need a stick blender. I whisked it by hand – not the quickest way of course, but easy. I mixed most of the Caesar ingredients in a small bowl before pouring into the mayo bowl to make sure that it wouldn’t separate. My husband liked the flavor and he told me it’s right up there with his favorite Caesar dressing – not too bad for a first time! Also, make your own croutons! 😉 They only take about 40 minutes in the oven and store bought can’t beat the flavor of homemade. Thanks for reading, enjoy! 🙂

Homemade Mayonnaise – adapted from Epicurious 

  • 1 large egg yolk*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 3/4 cup canola oil, divided (*I used 1/2 cup grapeseed oil and 1/4 cup olive oil*)

Directions –

Combine egg yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Whisk until blended and bright yellow, about 30 seconds.

Using 1/4 teaspoon measure and whisking constantly, add 1/4 cup oil to yolk mixture, a few drops at a time, about 4 minutes. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup oil in very slow thin stream, whisking constantly, until mayonnaise is thick, about 8 minutes (mayonnaise will be lighter in color). Cover and chill. do ahead Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

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Homemade Caesar Dressing – adapted from Once Upon a Chef

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (found near the tuna fish in the supermarket)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup homemade mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 Directions –
In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, anchovy paste, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Add the mayonnaise, cheese, salt and pepper and whisk until well combined. Taste and adjust to your liking.

Loaded Potato Soup

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I got my first cold of the season this week, so I was really grateful when I felt well enough to be up and cooking for my family again last night. I had plenty of organic russet potatoes in the pantry and homemade chicken stock taking up space in my freezer;  and even though it’s not exactly cold and gloomy here – it is dark and rainy! I pinned this recipe from The Pioneer Woman and went with it because she rarely steers me wrong.

Verdict: This was really tasty and the whole family enjoyed it – even my picky daughter! I served this with Parmesan garlic bread because what is soup with out some extra carbs for dunking? ( I will share that new recipe with you all soon). I will make this again and it makes a big batch and would be perfect for potlucks or to split and bring to a family in need. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Perfect Potato Soup – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 6 slices Thin Bacon, Cut Into 1-inch Pieces
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 3 whole Carrots, Scrubbed Clean And Diced
  • 3 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 6 whole Small Russet Potatoes, Peeled And Diced
  • 8 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 3 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt, More To Taste
  •  Black Pepper To Taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Minced Fresh Chives or parsley
  • 1 cup Grated Cheddar

Directions –

Add bacon pieces to a soup pot over medium heat and cook bacon until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove the bacon from the pot and set it aside. Pour off most of the grease, but do not clean the pot.

Return the hot to medium-high heat and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 2 minutes or so, then add the diced potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, seasoning with salt, pepper, and Cajun spice.

Pour in the broth and bring it to a gentle boil. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are starting to get tender. Whisk together the flour and the milk, then pour into the soup and allow the soup to cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove half to 2/3 the soup and blend in a blender/food process until completely smooth. Pour it back into the soup pot and stir to combine. Let it heat back up as you taste for seasonings, adding more of what it needs. Stir in cream, then stir in parsley, reserving a little for garnish.

Serve in bowls garnished with chives, grated cheese and crisp bacon pieces.

Snicker’s Cake

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When it comes to making a cake (especially the three layer, super involved kind), I need a good excuse to make one. My husband on the other hand would have liked me to make this because it was a Monday – no real reason and no company to help us eat it. I know better! The last thing we need is a giant cake all to ourselves,  not to mention how selfish that would be 😉

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I have used this particular chocolate cake recipe many times before, so I knew it would be really good. Also, for quality control sake, I had to taste the fluff and salted caramel I made – so I knew those were also really good. This is definitely not a cake I would have wanted to make in one day because of all the components; also, it’s much easier to work with when the cake layers have been frozen. On Friday, I made the salted caramel and the chocolate cake – let the cake cool completely, wrapped them up individually in plastic and then placed them in the freezer. I made the fluff on Sunday, stored it in a glass container and let it sit on my counter. Monday I made the nougat and I decided to reduce the amount of peanuts added; but other than that modification, I made it as directed. Also, I totally forgot to add the salted caramel to the top of the nougat filling – boo! I figured no one would care especially once i poured ganache and more caramel sauce over the top 😉

Verdict: This cake tastes as good as it looks – maybe even better. All the guests at our Labor Day party really enjoyed it and we only have about 1/4 of it left! 🙂  I’m glad that all that work I put into it paid off, and I’m sure I will get requests for it in the future 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Snickers Cake – adapted from Punky Purls via Brown Eyed Baker

For the Cake:

  • 2½ cups AP flour (312 grams)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1  teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • ž cup vegetable oil (*I used grapeseed oil)
  • 4½ teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Nougat Filling:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Âź cup evaporated milk
  • 1½ cups marshmallow fluff
  • Âź cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped

For the Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • Âź cup salted caramel sauce
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

For the Milk Chocolate Ganache:

  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) heavy cream

For the Assembly & Garnish:

Directions –

1. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the insides of the pans, tapping out excess; set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or large mixing bowl if you’re using a hand mixer), sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin).

4. Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

5. Make the Nougat Filling: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and evaporated milk, stirring until dissolved, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and add the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and vanilla extract, stirring until completely smooth. Fold in the peanuts. Let the nougat mixture cool to room temperature before using it in the cake. You can do this leaving it at room temperature or you can pop it into the refrigerator to speed up the process. Be sure to give a stir occasionally as it cools.

6. Make the Frosting: Beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 5 minutes (I like to use the whisk attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer, but it’s not necessary). Pour in the salted caramel and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy.

7. Assemble the Cake: If your cakes baked up uneven or have domed on top, level off the tops. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with half of the nougat filling and then spread a couple spoonfuls of the salted caramel sauce over top to evenly cover the nougat filling. Top with a second cake layer and cover with the remaining nougat filling and top with caramel sauce. Place the final cake layer on top face-down. Frost the cake with the salted caramel frosting, finishing it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, until the frosting is set.

8. Make the Chocolate Ganache: While the cake chills, make the chocolate ganache. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm until it just comes to a boil. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Begin whisking the mixture in the center, gradually working your way outward until the ganache is completely smooth. Set aside to cool, whisking occasionally, until it has thickened slightly, yet still a pourable consistency.

9. Garnish the Cake: Transfer the ganache to a 2-cup measuring cup. Slowly pour the chocolate ganache into the center of the cake, letting it push itself outward and flow over the sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes, giving the ganache a chance to set up. To finish garnishing, drizzle some additional salted caramel sauce over the top and side of the cake, and top with chopped peanuts. Keep the cake refrigerated, removing it from the refrigerator about 20 minutes prior to serving.

Homemade Marshmallow Fluff!

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(*crossing fingers*) I hope this works out! Hi, name is Shawna, and I’m a total food snob. I am compelled to make as much as possible at home, cause it soothes my soul! 😉

Verdict: I don’t even like marshmallows, let alone the “fluff” stuff, but this is amazing! Lightly sweet and, well – fluffy! Mission accomplished 🙂

Homemade Marshmallow Creme – adapted from Cooking Classy

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions –

  • In a small saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Heat mixture over moderately high heat, whisking occasionally until mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip together egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed (I had to whip mine on high speed because the whisk attachment on my mixer doesn’t reach quite that low, so if yours doesn’t either you may want to crank up the speed), until soft peaks form.
  • Once the sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove from heat, set stand mixer containing egg white mixture on low speed and carefully pour about 2 Tbsp of hot sugar mixture down the side of the bowl into the egg white mixture. With the mixer running, slowly pour remaining syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg white mixture, increase speed to medium-high and whip mixture until stiff glossy peaks form, about 8 – 10 minutes. Stir in vanilla during the last minute of mixing. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to two weeks.

Salted Caramel Sauce

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I have never made caramel before, but I watched this episode of Kelsey’s Essentials and decided that this should be easy enough to try. Thankfully it worked out really well and I will use this recipe again. This caramel is destined to become part of the Snicker’s cake that I will be serving on Labor Day. I am also going to attempt making marshmallow fluff from scratch so hopefully that recipe turns out as well as this caramel! 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Salted Caramel Sauce – adapted from Kelsey’s Essentials

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel, or kosher salt

Directions –

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. If necessary, use a wet pastry brush to wash down any crystals on the side of the pan. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 7-10 minutes.

Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the unsalted butter, and salt. Transfer the caramel to a dish and cool.

*Cook’s Note: The salted caramel sauce will keep in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Reheat before serving.