Thursday, October 31, 2013

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Bread Eater


Most pumpkin flavored foods are eaten throughout the Fall season.  Pumpkin cake, bread, pie, cookies, coffee and lattes.  Almost anywhere you eat, there is something pumpkin on the menu.   Pumpkin pie was always my favorite dessert this time of year, ever since I was little.  Pumpkin bread has become a new favorite, and my kids love it.  I usually bake two loaves, one to keep on hand in the freezer, and one to cut into as soon as it comes out of the oven.  Not only does it taste scrumptious, the whole house smells fantastic while it's baking!

The ingredients, and getting ready for the mixing.
 Dry ingredients and sifting them together.
Mixing the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
 And here it is!  Ready for baking, the batter makes 2 loaves.
Baking in the oven, don't they look pretty!

Moist and delicious Pumpkin Bread.  Enjoy!
Pumpkin Bread

3 1/3 cups unbleached flour
3 cups of sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons of nutmeg
1 /4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 - 15 oz can of Libby's Pure Pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 cup of canola oil
2/3 cup of water
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Use Bakers Joy, or grease and flour two 8 x 5 inch loaf pans, set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together, the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, set aside.  In another medium bowl, pour in the pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs.  Beat until batter is smooth and there are no lumps. Gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, beating to combine.

Pour into prepared loaf pans and bake for 1 hour, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let the breads cool in the pans for at least 10 minutes.  Turn out of pans onto a cooling rack and cool completely.  If freezing, wrap tightly in plastic wrap then foil. Unwrap and defrost about 2 hours before ready to serve. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream sprinkled with nutmeg or cinnamon sugar.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fashion Wednesday!

Brrrrrr! It's getting so cold outside.  I finally broke down and put the heat on and I usually don't do that until the end of November.  It's time to get out the Winter clothes, the hot chocolate and get cozy. You don't have to buy anything new, just open up your closet and let the outfits begin.

LEFT: Dark Wash Skinny Jeans, Black/White Animal Print Blouse, Fuchsia Chiffon Ruffle Trim Sweater, Black Shoeties, Grey/Fuchsia Rhinestone and Pearl Necklace and Multi Colored Stone Bracelet
RIGHT: Dark Wash Skinny Jeans, Long Black/Grey Slub Knit Sweater with Belt, Orange Flats and Jewelry
LEFT: Dark Wash Skinny Jeans, Green Silky Blouse, Silver Opened Toe Pumps, Green and Silver Jewelry.
RIGHT: Same outfit topped with a Grey Knit, Shawl Collar, Wrap Coat
LEFT: Dark Wash Skinny Jeans, Grey Long Sleeve Rhinestone Cowl Neck Top, Silver Opened Toe Pumps, Faceted Glass Bead Necklaces
RIGHT: Plum Skinny Jeans, Plum, Orange, Navy and Oatmeal Cinch Waist Top, Oatmeal Sweater, Stone Color Bow Wedges and Orange Flower Necklace

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Pound Of Cake

Pound Cake is rather plain, but tasty.  It's always a good standby, so you can make it ahead and keep it in the freezer, you just thaw and slice and don't have to worry about frosting.  You can make a lot of other desserts out of pound cake, for example - A trifle, slices toasted then topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce, strawberry shortcake or any other fruit shortcake, these are just a few.  You can also flavor it with different extracts or nuts.  I made this Pound Cake yesterday, it has a little bit of lemon zest in it for flavor, the recipe is below.  I used a Nordic Ware Pumpkin Pan to make it festive for Fall, it can also be baked in a tube pan. I didn't put anything on it, it's just great all by itself!

A few ingredients you will need.  Have the butter and eggs at room temperature. I always have my ingredients separated as to how they are added to the recipe. Example: Eggs cracked in a cup and ready to be added, flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and mixed together, lemon zested before I start mixing.  It just makes sense to me to do it that way.  Mixing goes much faster.
 Ingredients measured and ready to be added.  This is the Nordic Ware Loaf pan I used.  I've had it for a very long time and found it at William - Sonoma.  They still have it with pumpkins on it but a different design.
 Again, don't forget the Baker's Joy!  Spray the inside of your baking pan with it.
Beat  the butter, sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla.  Then add the flour mixture.
 This is how the batter will look.  It's very thick so spread evenly in the pan.
 Baked and out of the pan.  And of course you have to taste test it!
Pound Cake

1 3/4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of butter (2 sticks), softened at room temperature
1 1/3 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of honey
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon of lemon zest
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray baking pan with Bakers Joy or grease and flour your pan.  If using a loaf pan make sure it is a 6 cup or bigger, or just use a tube pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Beat the butter, sugar and honey in a mixing bowl on high speed until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the lemon zest, then the vanilla.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter/egg mixture beating after each addition.

Spread the batter, it will be thick, into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for at least 15 minutes before turning out of the pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack.  Leave it plain, frost with your favorite flavor frosting or dust with powdered sugar.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sunday Baked Ziti

Everyday is a good day for pasta, and if it's fast to make, even better.  My whole family loves pasta.  We all grew up eating pasta in many shapes and with all kinds of sauces, and who doesn't like a homemade pasta sauce.  The flavors of Italy are it for me, they are so good.  I made this baked ziti for Sunday dinner, of course the guys in my house were all sitting in front of the TV watching football, so this dish was easy to eat.  Pass the bread, not the football, please!

Start with these ingredients.  Cook up the garlic, onion, and green pepper.
 Fry and mix the paste in.
 Add crushed tomatoes, seasonings and don't forget the cheese!
 Brown the meat and drain it, then add to the sauce.
 The ziti.
Sunday Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper, if you like heat add more, if not omit it
1 - 6 oz. can of tomato paste
1 can San Marzano Crushed Tomatoes
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 cup parmigiano - reggiano cheese
1 lb. ground beef, chicken or turkey
1 box of Ziti
1 pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated locatelli cheese
1/2 cup grated asiago cheese

For the Sauce
In a large size saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil, then add the garlic, pepper, onion and crushed red pepper.  Cook until the they are tender, but be careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the tomato paste, frying and mixing it in.  Next, add the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and the 1/4 cup of cheese.  Stir it all in and continue to cook over medium heat.  Meanwhile, in a medium size frying pan, on medium high heat, add the ground meat and cook until all the pink is gone, breaking it up as you are cooking. When it is done, drain it in a colander then add it to the sauce.  Cover the sauce with a lid and reduce heat to medium low.  Let cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours stirring occasionally. 

Assembling the Ziti
Fill a large pot 3/4 of the way full with water and add 2 teaspoons of salt.  Bring to a boil and add the box of ziti. Stir the pasta into the water so it does not stick together.  Continue to cook until al dente.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Put a layer of the meat sauce down in the bottom of the pan, then start sprinkling some of the cheeses.  When the ziti is done, drain and put back into the pot, add some of the sauce and mix together. Pour the ziti into the baking dish, put another layer of sauce on top and then the remaining cheeses.  Put the baking dish onto a baking sheet, just in case anything flows over, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 - 50 minutes.  Makes about 10 servings.  Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

BUT..... It Can Always Look Better

I was at my oldest daughters house over the weekend for coffee time and to sort through some Christmas decorations that she no longer wanted.  Later that day we went shopping to update her mantel over her fireplace.  She didn't know what she needed to buy to update it, so I suggested TJMaxx for some inexpensive items for the do - over.  Awhile ago, she had bought two black lanterns for the mantel but I thought that it needed height, something taller on either end.  This is what we both came up with, and think it looks so much better. With just a few items and less than $60 the whole room and it's focal point look great!  Rearrange with things you already have, you don't always have to buy new things to update your home, use what you have.

LEFT: The mantel before - With black lanterns, some small votives and two other candles, not very eye catching.
RIGHT:  The mantel after - She bought 2 candlesticks one tall ($14.99) and one shorter ($12.99) they are silver with bling around the top and bottom of the candlesticks,  2 faux books (1 large $12.99 and 1 small $4.99) that are stacked, the silver candles ($5.99 for 4 tapers), the white orchid in a black ceramic pot was on clearance for $12.00!  We also reused one of the lanterns and the small iron votive holders.
 LEFT: This is her ledge right above the kitchen sink.  It looked ok but I thought it could look better.
RIGHT:  I took the other lantern that she had and told her to put her plant in a flower pot, and now it looks more appealing, and gives more separation to the two rooms.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Old St. Nick Isn't Far Away!

Wow can you believe another year is almost gone and Christmas is almost here?  Time is going by so fast, too fast for me.  The kids are getting older too.  I always love the holidays, it brings back so many memories of when they were little and woke up on Christmas morning.  The excitement was sometimes too much to handle for them seeing all the things Santa brought.  I still get into the spirit when Christmas rolls around, I love it!  I love to decorate the house, the tree, bake the cookies and cook Christmas dinner.  Having everyone around the table is what makes me happy.  It's a simple thing, having your family is what counts, not the gifts.

I went to the Christmas Tree Shop with my sister, and a few other stores, and picked up some things to freshen up my deco's for the Christmas season.  I have decorations that were my mothers and my grandmothers, I still put them out among all the newer things that I have, it keeps both of them with me at Christmastime. The Christmas Tree Shop is open all year round and if you haven't been to one, find one and get there.  This store is the best, they sell everything!  Check it out.

Glittery Jingle Bell Picture - Christmas Tree Shop
Glittery Noel Metal Letters with Snowflakes - Ross (I love glitter and sparkles!)
 Sequined and Glitter Reindeer and Santa Picture - Christmas Tree Shop
 Glitter Bottle Brush Trees -$1.99, Festive Napkins - $1.00 for small and $1.29 for big, Candle - $2.99, Christmas Tree Shop
 Big Christmas Ornaments To Hang From Chandelier - WalMart, Bell Door Hanger - Christmas Tree Shop Decorative Tissue Paper, 60 pcs. per pkg - $3.00 each WalMart, 10 Colorful Mylar Bows and Ribbon -$3.00 WalMart
 Glittered Christmas Gift Bags - $.89 each, Christmas Tree Shop