Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Best Pumpkin Bread Recipe

This Pumpkin Bread Recipe is wonderful all year. The recipe makes two loaves of rich, moist pumpkin bread. Enjoy one loaf and freeze the other for unexpected company or as a special treat!

The spicy aroma fills the house as this flavorful pumpkin bread is baking. This pumpkin bread recipe is wonderful just the way it is but you can also add cream cheese frosting for an added touch of sweetness.

Pumpkin is so full of nutritious benefits that it makes the perfect food for the whole family. Pumpkin is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins A, C, K, E, and the minerals of magnesium, iron, and potassium. Not only that, but only 4 ounces of canned pumpkin contains almost 3.5 grams of healthy fiber.

Moist Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Ingredients: (for 2 loaves)

3 ½ C. flour
3 C. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cloves
4 eggs, beaten
2 C. canned pumpkin
2/3 C. water
1 C. canola oil
1 C. chopped pecans (optional)
1 C. raisins (optional)

Sift together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices into a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, pumpkin, water, and oil. Mix together until the batter is well blended.
Add the nuts and raisins.

Pour the batter into two greased loaf pans. I use PAM spray and the loaves drop easily out of the baking pans.

Bake at 325 degrees for about one hour. Test with a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread. If the toothpick does not come out clean, bake at five minute intervals until done.

Remove the pumpkin breads from the baking pans while still warm.

Tip: After taking the pumpkin bread out of the oven, tip the loaf pans on their side before removing the pumpkin bread from the pan. This helps the bread retain its height, preventing the bread from dropping.

If you get really inspired, you can make your own pumpkin puree instead of buying canned pumpkin.

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Choose a firm, medium pumpkin. I made the mistake of trying to cut a pumpkin while it was raw and could have kicked myself when I found out how much easier it is to cook the pumpkin first! All you have to do is poke the pumpkin with a knife a few times to allow the steam to escape. Place the entire pumpkin on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours. Test if the pumpkin is done by inserting a knife into it. If the knife glides easily into the pumpkin, it is done. Set the pumpkin aside and let it cool.

Clean out the inside of the pumpkin, removing the seeds and fibers. Spoon all the pumpkin off the skin and mash until smooth or blend the pulp in a food processor. Now you can use the pumpkin puree for pies, breads, or any other pumpkin recipe.

Resources: Personal Recipe Files

Rich, Moist Banana Bread

This Banana Bread recipe has been in my family for years. It is very moist and heavy, just the way I like it.

The Banana Bread is simple to make and it freezes well. I cut it into slices and freeze them individually. All I have to do is take a slice out of the freezer and have a delicious slice of homemade banana bread...much better than a donut.

I always bake a number of these Banana Breads during the holidays, wrap them in colored plastic wrap and give them as gifts to friends and relatives. They look forward to homemade bread and it is a personalized gift that shows how much you care.

Banana Bread Recipe

2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3 ripe bananas
½ C. shortening
1 C. sugar
2 eggs
½ C. milk
½ C. chopped walnuts (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Cream together: shortening, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time until mixture is thick and lemony.

Blend together the bananas and milk. Add to the egg mixture.

Add the flour mixture slowly. Mix well.

Stir in the walnuts.

Bake in a greased loaf pan for one hour. Check with a toothpick inserted in the center. If the toothpick comes out clean, the banana bread is done. If there is batter on the toothpick, bake at five minute intervals, testing after each, until done.

Tip pan on its side on a cooling rack. This helps the banana bread keep its height. Remove from the pan while still warm.

Resource: Personal Recipe File

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How to Boil an Egg Perfectly

Boiling the perfect egg is not as easy as it seems. Many people have tried and failed! The egg either comes out too soft and runny or too hard and firm. The following instructions on how to boil and egg give the perfect boiled egg every time.

Boiled Egg Recipe

  1. Place the egg in a small pan of cold water.

  2. Cook the egg until the water comes to a full boil.

  3. Immediately set a timer for 2 ½ minutes.

  4. Remove the egg from the water as soon as the timer goes off because the egg keeps cooking even after you remove it from the stove.

  5. Cut the top off the boiled egg and enjoy.

The time for the boiled eggs remains the same no matter how many eggs you put in the pan. I usually boil 2 for myself. There's nothing better in the morning than two perfectly boiled eggs! Yum…

Friday, May 1, 2009

Home Canning Recipes

Home Canned Tomatoes:
Use ripe tomatoes for canning. To loosen the skins on the tomatoes, dip into boiling water for about 1/2 minute and then dip into cold water. The peels will crack and you can remove them easily. Cut out the stem ends and peel the tomatoes.

In glass jars: Pack the tomatoes to 1/2 inch from the top of the Mason jar, pressing gently to fill any spaces. Don't add any water.

Add 1/2 tsp. salt to pint jars and 1 tsp salt to quart jars.

Adjust the lids and process in a boiling water bath. Pint jars take 35 minutes and quart jars take 45 minutes.

As soon as you take the jars out of the canner, tighten the seals.

Home Canned Peaches

Wash the peaches and remove the skins. To make peeling easier, dip the peach in boiling water and then into cold water. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. Slice if desired.

To prevent the peaches from darkening during the canning process, drop the peaches into a gallon container of water mixed with 2 TBS salt and 2 TBS vinegar. Drain the peaches before heating or packing raw.

Raw Pack - Prepare peaches as above. Pack the raw peaches to 1/2 inch from the top of the Mason jar. Cover with boiling syrup and leave 1/2 inch space from the top of the jar. Adjust the lids and process in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes in pint jars or 30 minutes in quart jars.

Hot Pack - Prepar the peaches as above. heat the peaches in hot syrup. if the fruit is juicy, you can heat it with sugar and don't need to add any more liquid.

Pack the hot fruit into the jars, 1/2 inch from the top. Cover with boiling liquid, leaving 1/2 at the top. Adjust the lids. Process in teh canner 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts.

Canning pears is done with the same method as peaches.

Home Canning Plums

Wash the plums and prick the skins to can the plums whole. Larger plums can be cored and pitted. Prepare in the jars as for the peaches.

Process pints with raw fruit for 20 minutes, quarts for 25 minutes.

Process pints with hot fruit for 20 minutes, quarts for 25 minutes.

With all canning, tighten seals after removing from canner.

Complete insructions for: How to Can Fruits and Vegetables.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cherry Pound Cake Recipe

Turn your pound cake into something delightful with delicious, colorful maraschino cherries. This cake adds color to a party table or luncheon. I bake the cherry pound cake as a dessert after Sunday Brunch and it's a great springtime cake. This is the recipe mentioned in the Easter Sunday Brunch Menu Plan I posted earlier.

Cherry Pound Cake:

10" tube pan (well greased and floured)
3 C. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. confectionery sugar
1 C. shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 C. milk
1 C. maraschino cherries (diced or halved)

Cinnamon and sugar for topping.

Sift together: flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Add the confectionery sugar to the shortening and blend well. Add the vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk. Blend well.

Fold in the cherries.

Turn into the tube pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 65 minutes.

Remove from the pan while still warm and sprinkle with a cinnamon/sugar mixture.

This is a large, rich cake. Hope you like it as much as I do!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Springtime Pineapple Squares Recipe

If you like pineapple, you will love this pineapple squares recipe. It is a crowd pleaser!

1 can (1 lb. 4 oz.)crushed pineapple
1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 TBS. butter
1 TBS. sugar
1 egg

1 C. sugar
2 TBS. soft butter
1 egg
1 C. coconut
Beat sugar, butter and egg. Then stir in coconut.
Turn pineapple into a wire strainer and drain well. Sift flour with baking powder and salt.

Cream butter, sugar, and egg together
Blend in flour mixture.

Spread into an 8” square pan.

Spread drained pineapple over batter.

Sprinkle with topping, using fingers to level the mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Cut into 16 2” squares

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Easter Sunday Brunch Menu Plan

Easter Brunch is a tradition in my house and I thought you might enjoy a menu plan list of all the Brunch foods that I serve to my family. Everything on the list is a favorite of someone and I wouldn't omit any of the recipes from my Easter Brunch. If you're thinking of having an Easter Brunch or a Sunday Brunch anytime of the year, check out this menu plan. Your guests will love it!

An Easter Sunday Brunch is a wonderful change from the usual holiday dinners. A brunch offers a wide variety of foods that are a special Easter treat.

The following Easter Brunch Menu is one I have been serving my family for years. The family grows a little bit each year with the addition of my children's new wives or husbands and of course grandchildren. The Sunday brunch menu is ideal for a large dinner party because each dish feeds a number of people.

Easter Brunch Menu
Homemade Cheese Ball with assorted crackers
Shrimp Cocktail with Cocktail Sauce
Hard Boiled Eggs - colored for Easter

Main Brunch Menu

Cinnamon French Toast with Pure Maple Syrup and Powdered Sugar
Banana Bread
Homemade Blueberry Muffins
Quiche Lorraine
Scrambled Eggs
Warm Popovers
Home Fries
Cold Cuts - Imported Ham, Genoa Salami, Povolone, Lorraine Swiss
Dinner Rolls
Waldorf Fruit Salad
Fresh Strawberries in Sweetened Whipped Cream
Hot Coffee with Cream
Hot Coffee with Cream

Dessert Course:

Cheesecake (everyone's favorite)
Pineapple Squares
Lemon Meringue Pie
Chocolate Cream Pie
Cherry Pound Cake
Banana Cream Pie
Hot Coffee

Following the main brunch menu, the table is cleared and the dishes cleaned up. Then by middle of the afternoon everyone is ready for the dessert course. Each member of the family has a favorite dessert but that doesn't stop anyone from sampling each item.

I'm already preparing for this year's Easter Brunch and yes, there is a new member of the family. My daughter was married this year, so there will be another plate added to the brunch table.
Consider having an Easter Sunday Brunch this year. I bet it will turn out to be a tradition in your family, just like it did in mine.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Simple Party Cake for Passover or Easter

You can't beat this perfect party cake for upcoming Easter and Passover celebrations. The cake is easy and quick to prepare.

This time saving dessert can be whipped up in no time before your guests arrive. All you need to do is pick up an angel food cake mix at the grocery store, whipped cream, and fruit cocktail or fresh strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, blueberries, or peaches.

The fruit or fruit cocktail gives a colorful, festive look to the cake and the dessert table.

Colorful, Easy Easter or Passover Cake:

1 (16 oz.) can fruit cocktail or fresh strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, raspberries, or peaches

1 C. whipped cream or Cool Whip

1 Baked Angel Food Cake

Bake the cake in a tube pan according to package directions.

Drain the fruit cocktail (cut up fruit if using fresh).

Fold the fruit into the whipped cream and fill the hole in the center of the cake.

Use the remaining whipped cream and fruit to garnish the top of the cake.

That's all there is to it. You could also buy a baked Angel Food Cake in your grocery store's bakery. This cuts down preparation time to practically nothing.

My family loves this cake for Easter. The recipe couldn't be easier.

Essential Baking Tips and a Guide to a Well Stocked Kitchen

The following easy cooking tips are for everyone, whether you are a beginning cook or an old hand at baking. These baking techniques will make preparing your favorite recipes easier, better, and more fun!Let’s start with some basic rules about preparing your kitchen for baking.

Basic Baking Rules:

  • Be Orderly and Organized – Plan the things you need before you start baking. Choose the recipe you want to make and read through it carefully. Make sure you understand all the measurements and preparation needed. Collect all the ingredients the recipe calls for, following the ingredients list in order. Assemble all the kitchen utensils that are needed. Cultivate this habit of being orderly and cooking will be a breeze.

  • Use Quality Kitchen Tools - Good kitchen utensils make cooking a lot easier. They allow you to mix the ingredients more efficiently and measure ingredients with more accuracy. Quality mixers, blenders, baking pans, and measuring cups speed up the food preparation process, saving valuable time and energy. Here are a few kitchen essentials for preparing any recipe: electric stand alone mixer or electric hand mixer, assorted spatulas, measuring cups and measuring spoons, wooden spoon, sharp cutting knives, wire whisk, flour sieve, mixing bowls in a variety of sizes, baking pans (stainless steel pans are wonderful), pastry brush, biscuit cutter, cake tester, wire cooling racks, oven thermometer, candy thermometer, cake decorator tubes with assorted cake decorating tips. Obviously, you don’t need all of these items for every recipe, but if you stock your kitchen with these baking utensils, you will be ready to prepare just about any recipe.

  • Buy Good Ingredients - You can’t expect delicious results without good ingredients. Be sure to buy fresh ingredients and fine quality products. This is especially true of baking powder and baking soda. They lose their effectiveness over time, preventing proper rising of the cake batter.

  • Measure Accurately – This is a “must” for all baking! You can buy the finest ingredients available, have the best cooking skills, but if you don’t measure correctly, the recipe will be a flop. Measurements are always level.

  • Mix Carefully – Most recipes explain exactly how and in what order to mix ingredients together. Follow the step by step instructions that the recipe illustrates. You can’t just mix all the ingredients together at once. Follow the recipe to the letter and you won’t run into any problems.

  • Know Your Pans, Oven, and How to Cool Your Cakes - The baking process for any recipe is very important. Having the correct size pan, accurate oven temperature, a time-table for baking, and the correct cooling time after baking is necessary (most cakes should cool in the pan for 10 minutes before trying to remove them). This can vary by recipe, so make sure you follow the cooling instructions.

I’ll be adding many more cooking and baking tips on a regular basis, as well as tried and true, delicious recipes, so check in daily for more techniques on how to become a Star at baking!