Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread

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Halloween and I are at a stalemate.  It is one of mom’s favorite holidays and we really got into it.  I had some pretty cool costumes and most memorable was when I dressed as the tooth fairy.  We always made our costumes from scratch and my mom passed her talents on to me so later, I would sew everything.  Some might find that more tedious, but I loved having control over the process, fit of the costume, and the overall look.  I made some pretty elaborate costumes in college, including Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, and Eve (of the fated couple) with hand sewn leaves.  After college, I dabbled in costumes here and there, but with my old age, I have found myself at home (or at the gym!) on more than one Halloween, happy to be snuggled under a blanket and watching something non scary.

Just because I am not in a costume making phase of my life doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy other aspects of Halloween.  This year it took me a little longer to get into the pumpkin baking scene.  This is probably due to the fact that I am living in Arizona and it is still in the 80s here on most days!  However, the siren call of pumpkin finally lured me in and I made this lovely bread.  Let’s not kid ourselves, it is cake through and through.  The recipe I used called for 2 loaf pans but the batter is enough for 1 full 8×4 loaf and a little 4 inch round.  This cake is to die for.  The pumpkin bread is delightfully spicy and the orange favored creaminess of the cheesecake marbling complements it perfectly.  This bread reminds me of the Cheesecake-Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes that are a big favorite too!

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Bread

adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients

8 oz cream cheese

1/2 c white sugar

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

1 egg

zest of 1 medium sized orange

1 2/3 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoons ground ginger

1/4 teaspoons nutmeg

1/8 teaspoons ground allspice

1 c pumpkin puree

1/2 c vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 1/2 c white sugar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter an 8×4 loaf pan and a 4 inch cake round.

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, 1/2 c sugar, 1 tbsp flour, 1 egg and orange zest; beat until smooth.  Set aside.

Sift together 1 2/3 cup flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and pumpkin pie spice; set aside.

Place pumpkin, vegetable oil, 2 eggs and 1 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl; beat well. Stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture just until combined.  Pour 1/2 of the pumpkin batter into the loaf pans. Spoon cream cheese mixture on top of this layer and then pour on the remaining batter.  Use a butter knife to swirl the pumpkin and cream cheese mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool bread in pans for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Happy Halloween, ya’ll!

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Quick Sautéed Cabbage and Hurricane Sandy Anniversary

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Day to day, my cooking has evolved to fit certain criteria: nourishing, leftovers that stand up, and [obviously] must be delicious.  It would be remiss for me to not mention a fourth criteria, the dish can’t break the bank. A couple years ago, I stumbled on Lucinda Scala Quinn’s cookbook Mad Hungry, which has a fabulous Shredded Sautéed Cabbage recipe  .  It was so delicious (ding!), nourishing (ding!), and since it was cabbage, inexpensive (ding!ding!ding!).  It was the gateway to cooked cabbage in our house.  Those times when the grocery budget gets a little full of itself and I have to pull back, this recipe often finds itself on the top of the list.

We were happy to eat this budget saving dish until a little storm called Hurricane Sandy swooped in.   We ate it a bunch.  Like, it was our only source of vegetables for several days.  That and eggs was the most nourishing thing in the house.  I am a total brat and in times of stress, I kind of tend towards the sugary end of things or nothing.  When we ran out of chocolate {I was popping that Theo chocolate] and I was whipping up our fourth meal of cabbage and eggs, no amount of red pepper flakes and hot sauce was going to get me to eat it.  I went on a hunger strike.  Yes, I lost weight during Hurricane Sandy (don’t get out the world’s tiniest violin, some people lost everything and I know that my suffering was minimal).  Soon enough after I began my strike, I heard the glorious rumble of a bus coming down the street.  It was time to get out of Hoboken.  We hopped the bus and went to stay with family in Connecticut.  Thank goodness for family.

If you are ever confronted with a power loss from a natural disaster, I would recommend the following tips to include in your prepartion:

  1. Find a real list like this one to use for real, and then come back to this list (hoarding water, canned food, batteries, medicine, etc.).
  2. Find the playing cards ahead of time [we never found ours, monopoly for DAYS]
  3. Stock up on eggs as I assume they can be at room temp for a few days without killing anyone. [science]
  4. Also, stock up on fruit, veggies, and protein sources that can be room temperature (jerky from Steve’s PaleoGoods is yummy).
  5. Junk food must be stocked up.  This is not a time for a diet.  The chips that you love, get enough and then double it.  The candy that you love, get enough and triple it.  YOU CANNOT HAVE ENOUGH CHOCOLATE FOR STRESS EATING!!!
  6. Stock up on your favorite booze that can be served at room temp.  [see above remarks about chocolate]
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I wouldn’t be smiling if I knew what was ahead!

I’m not really joking about the list but, in seriousness, one year ago, Hurricane Sandy hit my little town of Hoboken, NJ pretty hard.  Nate and I were lucky, but others weren’t.  The town has worked hard to rebuild and I was proud to be part of the community during that time. People came together, pitched in and helped eachother out.  We got to know our neighbors better and had a good time doing it.

I leave you with another cooked cabbage recipe.  It is even simpler than Quinn’s recipe and it includes butter!  Believe it or not, a small amount of butter makes a huge difference.  We had this on the side with chili on a cool day and the creaminess from the butter softened the sharpness of the chili.

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Sautéed Cabbage

Adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients

1  head white cabbage, including outer green leaves (2 1/2 pounds)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

1.  Using a large, sharp knife, cut the cabbage in half and, with the cut-side down, slice it as thinly as possible around the core, trying to keep the pieces less than 1/4 inch wide.

2.  Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the cabbage, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender and begins to brown. Season, to taste, and serve warm.

High Five for Friday IV

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It’s been a while since I’ve linked up for High Five For Friday with Lauren Elizabeth, but this is  a pretty fun place to share what’s making me happy these days, so here it goes!

1.  Weather.  The weather in Tucson is amazing.  I LOVE hot weather, so they could turn up the heat in the evenings (since it is a bit chilly in the evening and early morning), but this is SO fabulous compared to rainy 50s in NYC.  I’m maintaining my freckles that were acquired in our big trip, but don’t worry, I’m still wearing spf 50 all over.  Yeah, it’s 90 during the day, so I am still enjoying funemployment in the sun.

Pool time!!

2.  Nice neighbors.  We had a little car problem earlier this week and our neighbor just drove over his car for me to use so we could get home from the towing place, etc.  He might be getting some Gooey Butter Cake!

3.  Bodeefit.   I have been using this website for a while.  Every day they email me a work out that requires no equipment, just body weight.  The warm up and the work out takes no more than 30 minutes and I haven’t got bored yet.  We went out of town this past weekend and I did this in the hotel room.  It doesn’t require a lot of space (some more than others), but it is a great way to get in a quick heart rate jump.  Best of all?  It’s free!  (you can sign up and pay and get more amenities, like the ability to post your results and track them).  [They have no idea who I am, I am just a happy user!]

4. Reading.  This could probably be its own post, but ever since finishing law school, it has been a joy to start reading again.  I am not reading as voraciously, since the name of the game these days is sanity, but I just read Loving Frank by Nancy Horan and am looking to start The Lowland by Jumpha Lahiri.  I love her writing and am looking forward to digging into that one.  Do you have anything you have really enjoyed reading lately?

5. These corduroys.  I don’t have them and I’m not sure if I’m going to splurge for them but I love them and think they are perfect for fall and winter.  Plus, I have worn this style before and the fit is totally on point: comfortable and soft like cords should be, but fitted and put together like all pants should be. That wine color is amazeeeee!!!

St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

My Dad is from St. Louis, so needless to say, we were eagerly anticipating  the start of the World Series last night with the Cardinals versus the Red Sox.  We made yearly pilgrimages to visit family (drove from NC to MO) and always spent an evening at Busch Stadium.  In addition to having a space in my heart for the St. Louis team, having lived in NYC, it’s virtually impossible to find anything redeeming about a Boston team, so the allegiance is easy to maintain!

In these times of sporting trials, I tend to turn to food, namely a theme food.  I decided that I needed to make a Gooey Butter Cake, since they originated in St. Louis.  I have made the Paula Deen version with the cake mix and it is delicious (linking to the pumpkin version because it is fall and that is what I made).  Although the Paula Deen version is fast (and dirty), my internet research yielded another, more traditional recipe with yeasted dough.  I was just in luck because Deb at the Smitten Kitchen tried her hand at it.  Oh, this was going to be great.

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I started the process last night, just about when the starting pitch was thrown.  Obviously, the game was a massacre but perhaps because my fabulous Gooey Butter Cake had not been consumed by two fair weather fans in Tucson, AZ.  The cake was finished after the game was over, but we were the true winners.  Nate wants me to be clear that he thinks that this cake is one of the best desserts I have ever made and it made him do the happy dance.  If you are afraid of sweet (hi, Mom), this is probably not the dessert for you.  But, as a yeast-avoider (as in I avoid using it), don’t be scurrred.  You can do it.  Obviously, you need some time to make it all happen, but once that dough is rising, go make dinner or something while the dough does its thang.  I used high quality vanilla and I could really taste it, so that would be a strong recommendation.

Gooey Butter Cake

Also, I read to heed a warning on the type of pan used.  Because I live on the wild side and I have limited resources, I used a metal pan and set the time for 25 minutes.  My oven runs slow, so I needed about 7 more minutes in the oven and the topping was plenty gooey.  We like gooey, so I knew it would be fine.  When I took it out of the oven, it immediately began to sink and crust over on the top.  Science. The edges are key!  They taste like chewy, classy, custardy heaven.  Make this for someone who is suffering heartbreak, because they will forget.

St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

Cake:

3 tablespoons half and half at room temperature, or slightly warmer (around 110 degrees F)
1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Gooey Butter Topping:

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling

Butter, for greasing the pan

Directions

Cake:

In a small bowl, mix half and half with 2 tablespoons warm water. Add yeast and whisk gently until it dissolves. Mixture should foam slightly. I gave it 1 tablespoon of the sugar to feed it a bit.  Remember to subtract this from the total 3 tablespoons of sugar for the dough.

Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and the milk mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition. I beat this dough with a dough hook on medium for about 10 minutes, until it started pulling from the sides of the bowl.

Press dough into a greased (with butter) 9-by 13-inch baking dish at least 2 inches deep. I used a metal 9×13 and it worked for me.  Cover dish with plastic wrap or clean tea towel, put in a warm place, and allow to rise until doubled, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Gooey butter topping:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk corn syrup with 2 tablespoons water and the vanilla. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and corn syrup mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.

Spoon topping in large dollops over risen cake and use a spatula to gently spread it in an even layer. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until it has a golden top, but still gooey in the center.  Don’t worry if the cake immediately sinks when you take it out of the oven.  The magic is happening.   Try to stop yourself from cutting into it at that moment and allow the cake to cool in pan before cutting and sprinkling with confectioners’ sugar for serving.

Enjoy and GO Cardinals!

Broccoli, Kale, and Sausage Soup

So, what’s new?  It’s been a bit wild in my world.  In a nutshell, I graduated from law school, studied for and took two bar exams, moved, and drove across the country.  Needless to say, it has been a time of madness.  However, one thing that I always return to is cooking.  After that cross country road trip, we were ready for some healthy homemade meals.  This may have been in part due to the fact that I did not turn down a tortilla chip (we have  a long standing relationship, ya know) or a dish of salsa one time on the trip (read more about the trip here).  Also, when you study for the bar exam, you may want to eat only nachos for every meal.   So, maybe a few veggies needed to be on the horizon.

I turned to my old favorites:

And then a few new ones:

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Ok, it’s not much to look at.  I don’t know how one would photograph it to make it look appealing.  So ugly it’s cute.  Perhaps.  However, in keeping with my desire to pull back a little, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner, it has been the perfect meal.  Sometimes I have an apple with it and sometimes Nate and I split an avocado on the side.

Note: this makes a TON of soup.  I would cut the broccoli in half if you want less soup.  Of course it all depends on how your grocer packages the broccoli but I used the stem in this soup since it all gets pureed in the food processor.

Broccoli, Kale, and Sausage Soup

Adapted from Stacey London’s Broccoli, White Bean, and Sausage Soup

  • olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large heads of broccoli (florets chopped; stems peeled and chopped)
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pound spicy chicken sausage, sliced
  • 1 bunch kale (cut into 1/2-inch ribbons)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, to taste

Instructions:

Place a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil and then toss in the onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just translucent. Add the broccoli and again season with salt and pepper.

Pour the chicken stock over the broccoli and bring up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is fork tender.

Let cool slightly and then transfer, working in batches, to a blender. Cover the blender with a towel to ensure it doesn’t splatter, and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Meanwhile, place another heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the sausage and brown on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes.

When almost completely browned, add the kale. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

Pour the broccoli soup in the sausage and kale and stir to combine. Let cook for one to two more minutes to let the flavors meld. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve while hot.