Cooking

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

I find myself in the mood to bake, now that the weather has gotten cold. I also find myself with a pile of winter squash. Baking pumpkin bread is just the thing to do.

I often use pumpkin, but will also use butternut or Hubbard squash, instead of the pumpkin in the recipe. They all work just fine.

I like to make several batches at a time, and freeze the extra. Of course, if word gets out that I have fresh baked pumpkin bread it never makes it to the freezer. Every year I get a lot of requests for my pumpkin bread.  Everyone seems to love it.

It is versatile, served plain, it is a great breakfast. Topped with a dusting of powdered sugar or sweetened fruit and whipped cream, it becomes dessert. I also often bake smaller loaves for gift giving.

I do find myself adding more spices, sometimes. Play around to find the combination of flavors you like. I often add cloves, allspice or mace.

 

Pumpkin Bread

1 ¾ c. flour

1 ½ c. sugar

1 t. baking soda

¾ t. salt

1 t. each cinnamon and nutmeg

½ c. softened butter

2 eggs, beaten

1 c. pumpkin

1/3 c. water

 

Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Beat together butter and eggs until fluffy. Beat in pumpkin and water until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients until smooth. Pour into a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 60-65 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing from pan and placing on cooling rack.  Wrap in plastic, best served the next day. Freezes well. Makes 1 loaf.

As with other quick bread you can make this recipe and bake it in smaller pans for gift-size loaves. Baking temperature is the same. Time will vary, so check after 30 minutes and test for doneness as usual.

Mom’s Pierogi

Pierogi

My mother taught me how to make pierogi, the way her mother taught her. They are part of my family’s food traditions.

Pierogi, if you didn’t know, are pasta, filled with different fillings, often potato based.  They are also sometimes stuffed with prune filling or sauerkraut. Today you can find pierogi filled with all sorts of fillings.

There are variations in the dough, too. Some use just eggs, flour, water and salt. Others add some dairy in the form of milk or sour cream.

Once the pierogi are made, you can boil them and just serve them up, or brown the boiled pierogi in butter and serve with caramelized onions and sour cream. My mother used to make sweet and sour cabbage and serve it with the pierogi, or sometimes even use it as a filling. I can’t make them without remembering her.

 

Pierogi

Dough:
2 c. flour
1 t. salt
½ c. water (you can also use half milk and half water)
1 egg
Mix all ingredients together and knead on floured surface until smooth. Cover and let rest at least 15 minutes. Roll out thin and cut into circles. Re-roll scraps. You should get between 20-30. Spoon filling of your choice on center of dough circle. Fold dough in half over filling and press edge with fork to seal. Wetting the edge of the dough will help the dough to stick. Don’t overfill or the pierogi will split. Test a couple first to get the hang of it. Place a few at a time into salted boiling water and cook until they float. You can eat them as is or brown cooked pierogi in butter in a skillet. Serve with grilled onions and/or sour cream. We would often make a larger batch and then freeze them, uncooked on wax paper-lined baking sheets. When frozen they would be transferred to a freezer bag or container. Place right from the freezer into boiling water when ready to use.

Potato filling:
2 lbs. Potatoes, peeled and boiled
½ onion, minced
2-3 T. cottage cheese or farmer’s cheese, optional
salt and pepper to taste
Mash potatoes with other ingredients and season to taste.
Note: you can also add cheddar cheese if you like. In class we had some with cheddar cheese and added ham, too.

Fresh made pierogi

Maple Syrup Cookies

Unglazed Maple Syrup Cookies

The addition of maple syrup makes these cookies really special. They make a nice dessert for any Autumn dinner. They make a nice dessert for Thanksgiving, too.

Crisp and mildly sweet, they can be eaten plain, or you can coat them with a maple glaze, after they have cooled. Cookies are crisp but will soften slightly, if glazed. Either way, they are really tasty. You could also dust with powdered sugar.

A friend suggested making sandwich cookies with them. I used some of the glaze to sandwich two cookies together. I could see using a maple buttercream, too.

I used leaf-shaped cookie cutters, but cut them out in any shape you like. I am guessing I’ll be hearing from a couple of friends who will want to borrow my cookie cutters. 🙂

Maple syrup is one of my favorite natural sweeteners.  Love the stuff. I even went to high school in a city that had a maple festival every Spring.

You can do a lot more with maple syrup than just a topping for pancakes and waffles. Maple syrup can be used in sauces, salad dressings and marinades. You can also use maple syrup in baking, like in these yummy cookies.

 

Maple Syrup Cookies

1 c. butter

1 c. sugar

½ c. maple syrup

1 egg yolk

3 c. flour

3/4 t. salt

 

Glaze:

2 c. powdered sugar

½ c. maple syrup

To make glaze: Beat sugar and syrup together until smooth.

 

Beat together butter, sugar and syrup. Beat in yolk. Combine flour and salt and add to butter mixture. Mix well.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill. Roll chilled dough 1/8 inch thick and cut out with assorted cutters. Leaves and other autumnal cutter shapes are best. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 12 minutes. Cookies should be lightly browned around the edges. Cool and decorate with glaze. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

 

Duck Fat Bread

Duck Fat Bread

Today would be my Mom’s birthday. I still miss her. I thought I would share some of her favorite recipes this week. She was a great cook and I learned a lot from her. Here is a bread she was famous for in our family.

My Mom used to make this wonderful sweet bread. Made it for every family occasion. The recipe uses butter. She was a very frugal person. One day, she decided to render the skin from a duck she was using in soup. She didn’t want to just toss it. Too wasteful. Once it was cooled, the duck fat looked like butter. She was making her sweet bread and substituted the duck fat for the butter in the recipe. When my brother-in-law, Bob, tasted it he declared it was the best bread yet. My Mom told him what the secret ingredient was, and from that day on, we always called it duck fat bread, even when it was made with butter. Here is the recipe- wonderful even if made with plain old butter.

 

 

Mom’s Butter Coffeecake Braids aka Duck Fat Bread

4 1/2 c. flour

2 T. sugar

1 t. salt

½ c. butter or 1/2 c. cooled rendered duck fat

1 packet yeast

¼ c. warm water

2 t. sugar

1 c. evaporated milk

2 eggs, beaten

Combine flour with sugar and salt. Cut in butter or duck fat and set aside. Dissolve 2 teaspoons sugar in warm water. Dissolve yeast in warm water mixture and set aside. Allow to become bubbly, about 5 minutes.  Combine milk with eggs. Stir in yeast mixture and add to flour mixture stirring well. Knead dough in bowl until smooth, about 10 minutes. Place on lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1½ hours. Divide dough in half and then each half into thirds. Roll dough into ropes and braid three ropes together. Repeat with remaining 3 ropes.  Place braids in 9×5 inch greased bread pans and cover with a towel. Place in a warm, draft-free place and allow to rise until doubled, about 1½ hours. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. If you like glaze loaves while warm with a mix of powdered sugar, a little milk, butter, and vanilla. Toasted almonds or walnuts can be added, if desired. Makes 2 loaves.

Note: You can also refrigerate the dough after kneading it if you would prefer. Just place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Roll and shape dough into braids when cold from the fridge.  Rise, covered, until doubled in bulk, about 2-3 hours. Bake as directed.

Note: You can also place loaves on a greased baking sheet for a longer, flatter bread rather than in loaf pan.

Mushroom Dressing and Gravy- Vegan

Mushroom Dressing and Gravy

Not everyone at the Thanksgiving table will be eating turkey. If you are like me, you have friends and family who are vegetarians. That was the inspiration for this dish. Just because a person doesn’t eat meat, does not mean they can’t enjoy the other traditional foods of the holiday.

I’m not a fan of “fake meats”, so a simulation of turkey was not what I was going for.  I wanted to make a dish that was normally part of the regular menu, but minus the meat.

This is a dish everyone can enjoy together. Thanksgiving is about bringing us together, after all. I used mushrooms as the base for both the dressing and the gravy. The end result is rich and very tasty.

 

Mushroom Dressing and Gravy – Vegan

The Gravy:
3 T. oil
2 onions, diced
1 lb. mushrooms, cleaned and chopped- try to use a couple of different types
¾ c. diced celery
¼ c. chopped parsley
1 t. oregano
½ t. thyme
4 T. flour
2 c. vegetable broth
2 T. balsamic vinegar
Hot sauce to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

In skillet, heat oil and cook onions until golden. Add mushrooms and celery and continue cooking until mushrooms also start to turn golden. Toss in the parsley and herbs. Remove about ¾ of the onion mixture and set aside- it will go in the dressing. In skillet, with the remaining onion mixture, add the flour and stir in. Cook over medium heat for a minute or two. Add the broth and bring to a low boil, stirring often, until thickened and bubbly. Add vinegar and hot sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. You can let it simmer a few minutes longer, if you like it thicker. It cooks down quickly. Makes 2 cups.

The Dressing:

6 c. bread cubes, toasted
Reserved veggies from the gravy
½- 1 cup vegetable broth
2 T. oil
Extra parsley, if desired
Salt and pepper to taste
½ t. crumbled sage, optional

In medium bowl, combine the bread cubes with the veggies and stir to mix well. Pour the broth over the bread cubes, tossing to coat. Use more or less broth, depending on how moist you like the dressing. Drizzle in the oil and season to taste. Place in a casserole dish, cover and bake until heated through- about 30 minutes. Remove cover after 20 minutes if you like a crisper dressing.

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts are always a big hit when I make them. People can’t seem to get enough of them. The combination of salty and sweet, with the smokiness of the bacon, a little heat, and the crunch of the water chestnuts is a flavor explosion.

We made them in cooking class the other night. It was the last dish out of the oven. Everyone was waiting for them. Let’s just say there were no leftovers.

What is it about the smell of bacon cooking? Maybe for you, like me, it is a childhood memory. We never had bacon for breakfast during the week. Not even every weekend. But on some magical Sunday mornings, I would wake up and smell bacon cooking. No one slept in on those mornings. Mom or dad would be frying the bacon in the cast iron skillet. If we had pancakes or waffles, I would dip my bacon in the syrup on my plate.

This recipe combines some of those flavors. You can assemble them ahead of time, then just cook when you are ready. You can also cook them a day or two ahead, then reheat before serving. I have even been known to freeze them. They are easy to make, too.

So here is the recipe that I use. You can adapt it to suit your taste. Perhaps make them spicier? I hope you try them for a party soon.

 

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts

20 slices bacon cut in half

40 water chestnuts, whole

Hot sauce

Maple syrup

Brown sugar

Roll ½ a slice of bacon around water chestnut and place rolls in a baking dish. Cook in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until rolls are well-browned. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Return rolls to baking dish. Drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with brown sugar and hot sauce. Return to oven and bake until caramelized. Makes 40.

 

Cindy’s Butternut Squash Pie

Cindy’s Butternut Squash Pie

At first glance you would think my sister made a pumpkin pie. It looks like pumpkin pie. It also tastes a lot like pumpkin pie. When I was a kid, and tasted this pie for the first time,  it was the first time I liked “pumpkin” pie

My sister has been making this squash pie recipe for years. I love it. It is part of our Thanksgiving tradition. Cindy made it clear, from the beginning,  that she used cooked butternut squash for her pie and not pumpkin. She liked the flavor better. I can’t argue with her success. The pie is yummy.

Of course, you could use pumpkin or other winter squash, if you like. I use Hubbard sometimes. The recipe has the right mix of spices and just enough sugar without being too sweet. What ever squash you use, I am sure this pie will be a hit with your family, too.

 

Cindy’s Butternut Squash Pie

1 (9″) unbaked pie shell brushed with 1 egg white
2 eggs slightly beaten
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups (1 lb.) cooked, butternut squash (mashed or pureed)
3 Tbsp molasses
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz can)

Combine filling ingredients and pour into shell. Bake at 400 degrees for 55-60 min., or until custard tests done.

Cindy added: I find this to be a very generous recipe; could make 2 smaller pies or just bake the extra custard in a baking cup. I suppose it could be frozen and used in another recipe, but I’ve never tried to freeze the raw filling, so I don’t know.
This can be used with pumpkin, too.

Cindy’s Squash Rolls

Cindy’s Squash Rolls

I love these dinner rolls.  I think you will, too. The addition of squash is what makes them so special. The squash adds beautiful color to the rolls. It also creates a soft texture and an earthy sweetness.

These rolls are wonderful for any fall or winter dinner or holiday. They are especially nice for Thanksgiving.

We have them every Thanksgiving. My sister Cindy always makes them, and has been making them for years. They are rich, soft and sweet and make a perfect addition to the dinner table. Even with all the other foods at Thanksgiving dinner- you always save room for these dinner rolls.

While I use cooked butternut squash in mine, pumpkin could be used, as well as other winter squashes.

The recipe makes a pretty big batch. You can bake them, then freeze some for later use.

I love slicing them in half, and making mini turkey sandwiches with them the day after Thanksgiving.

 

 

Cindy’s Squash Rolls

1 c. milk

4 T. butter

½ c. sugar

¼ c. brown sugar

1 t. salt

1 pkt. Yeast

4-5 c. flour

1 ½ c. cooked butternut squash, strained, or 1 (16oz.) can squash or pumpkin

2 eggs, room temperature

Scald milk and butter. Place sugar and salt in large bowl and pour in milk mixture. Cool to lukewarm. Add yeast and 2 cups of flour. Beat at medium speed with mixer for 2 minutes. Add squash and eggs and mix until smooth. Add flour gradually to form a stiff dough. Knead on floured board for 7-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning dough to coat evenly. Cover with a towel and allow to rise until doubled. Punch dough down and shape into rolls. Dough can be placed in a greased cake pan where they will touch each other as they rise making softer rolls. You can also place them in muffin tins, or shape into rolls and place on greased baking sheet for crispier rolls. Cover and let rise until doubled. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes. Butter tops while warm. Makes 2 ½ -3 dozen.

Variation: you can also add ½ t. ground nutmeg, 1-2 T. chopped chives or 1 T. parsley flakes for a little different flavor.

 

New Day Cleveland- Thanksgiving

Had a great time on New Day Cleveland. Here is my appearance.

 

 

Mom’s Pumpkin Chiffon

Pumpkin Chiffon

I fondly remember when my Mom used to make this dessert. I think of her whenever I make it. From a technical cooking standpoint, it’s not really a chiffon, but that is what my Mom called it, so I will leave it as  Pumpkin Chiffon.

It’s more like a pumpkin pie, without the crust. Super easy to make and quite tasty. I bake it in a casserole dish but you could also make it in individual  ramekins.  This recipe is always a big hit when I make it for friends.

You could use canned or fresh cooked pumpkin or winter squash, like butternut or Hubbard. I always cook up and freeze pumpkin and squash for later use, so frozen would work, too. Because there is no crust, it is also gluten-free.  I sometimes serve it with gingersnaps and whipped cream. It is a lovely Fall dessert.

 

Mom’s Pumpkin Chiffon

½ c. applesauce
1 c. cooked or canned pumpkin or squash
¾ c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. salt
½ t. nutmeg
1/8 t. cloves
4 eggs, well beaten
1 c. half and half or evaporated milk
Stir together first seven ingredients. Beat in eggs and stir in milk. Place mixture in 1 ½ quart casserole and bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Serve alone or with cookies. Serves 6-8.