Monthly Archives: June 2012

Pumpkin Bread

Have you ever bought a 15 oz can of pumpkin, thinking you’ll make a lovely pumpkin pie, only to find that you actually need 30 oz my pumpkin to make the pie? Or have you ever wanted some pumpkin but not can the evapored milk to do it with? Well, here’s something delicious you can do with that can of pumpkin. Admittedly, this is not terribly healthy, but it’s a great treat. Also, this makes LOTS of pumpkin bread! It usually takes hubby and I a week to eat it all! Make sure you have plenty of pans ready!

Pumpkin Bread

Preparation:
none

Approximate Cooking Time:
1 hour

Ingredients:
1 c. light brown sugar
2 c. white sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
4 eggs
15 oz. canned pumpkin
2/3 c. water
3 c. flour
2 t. baking soda

1 t. nutmeg
1 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 – 1 c. crushed pecans or walnuts, if desired

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix sugars, oil, eggs, pumpkin and water in a large bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.
Add slowly to first bowl with pumpkin mixture and mix well.


Just after adding the flour mixture.

Next, crush the nuts by placing them in a closed ziplock baggie and crushing them gently with a meat tenderizer.


Don’t smash them to tiny bits – just small pieces.

Finally, add vanilla and nuts and mix.


The mix with 1 c. crushed nuts.

Pour into greased and floured pans (I use a re-purposed bread tray made of Polish pottery and my Boston brown bread pan because they’re both huge). Do not overfill the pans because this bread WILL expand. Leave at least 1/2 inch at the top of a big pan. The bread will mostly expand up in a dome shape.


Just before cooking.

Bake for at least one hour for a pan 3-4 inches wide (bake for a shorter time if the pans are very small, and longer if the pans are bigger). Check the bread every 10 minutes after 1 hour has gone by. The bread is done when an inserted knife comes out clean.

If you’re pretty sure the bread is done but you want to cook it just a bit longer, turn off the oven, close the door and leave the bread in there. The oven will cool down and the bread will slowly cook on the inside just a bit more. Enjoy!

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Special Weekend Breakfasts

Hubby doesn’t like breakfast too much, but sometimes, if I can tempt him enough, he’ll eat something. My previously-posted crepes recipe is guaranteed to get him out of bed and into the kitchen, but I have other tricks up my sleeve too. Today I thought I’d share some of my bread recipes with you – specifically, banana bread and pumpkin. I love that not only will hubby get some good nutrients into him from homemade breads packed with pumpkin and bananas, but I can add nuts to them and make them even more healthy.

Today I will post the banana bread recipe. This recipe is truly my own, because one day when I was making it I didn’t pay attention and added too much salt. When I realized my mistake I worried that it would taste awful, but when hubby tried it he smiled and said “You just turned a dessert bread into a breakfast bread. I like this even better!” So I never tried the old recipe again.

Banana Bread

Preparation:
none

Approximate Cooking Time:
1 hour

Ingredients:
3 or 4 very ripe bananas
1/3 c. melted butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 – 1/2 c. chopped nuts, if desired

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Smash the bananas and mix them with the butter. Add the sugar, egg and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt evenly over the mixture and stir. Finally add the flour and nuts and pour into greased baking pans. Bake for at least 25 mins for small pans and 40 mins for larger pans. Check by inserting a knife and seeing if it comes out clean.

(My apologies for the lack of picture. We ate it all before I could take a picture!)

I learned this great hint about breads from my mother: If you’re not sure if the inside of your bread is cooked all the way through, turn off the oven and leave it closed. Don’t open it or the heat will get out. When the oven has cooled off the bread will have firmed up in the middle. Do not do this in the inside is still mushy, but rather only if you’re not completely sure it’s cooked.

This recipe can also be gluten-free if you substitute some almond meal for flour. I think the almond flavor would blend very well. If you try that please let me know!

Pumpkin bread will be posted soon!

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Chicken Francaise

I have often struggled with just how much lemon to add to chicken. I have a few recipes, some more lemony than others. This is a pretty tame one that I found at http://allrecipes.com/recipe/famous-chicken-francaise/. I have modified it to thicken the sauce a bit – otherwise it just has the consistency of broth, which doesn’t go well with pasta. I often make this recipe when I’m in the mood for quick, healthy comfort food.

Chicken Francaise

Preparation:
none

Approximate Cooking Time:
45 minutes

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten

juice of 1 1/2 lemons (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup flour
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. paprika
2 T. butter
1 can or 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
pasta, such as spaghetti, linguine or egg noodles
peas (or other vegetable to serve on the side)

Directions:
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Mix the egg with the juice of 1/2 lemon in a wide, shallow bowl.  In a second wide, shallow bowl, mix the flour with the garlic powder and paprika. Melt the butter in a pan on the stove. Put the chicken pieces into the egg mixture, then the flour mixture, then into the pan with the butter. (Be sure to coat the chicken very well with flour!) Cover the chicken and cook on medium until the outside coating JUST begins to turn golden. Then add the the chicken broth and salt and pepper. Turn the stove to low, re-cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. Cook the pasta and the vegetable. Add the pasta and peas and serve immediately.

 


After the broth was added. This chicken was too golden,
so the sauce did not thicken properly. I had to add flour.

 

As the chicken slowly cooks after the broth is added, the sauce should thicken because of the flour that has not quit cooked yet around the chicken. If the sauce does not thicken, or is it not thick enough for your liking, add either a tablespoon of flour or a teaspoon of corn starch mixed in a 1/4 cup water. The flour will turn lumpy, so add it slowly, keep the heat low, and stir often.

Note: If you use a bouillon cube to make your chicken broth, just make 1 cup and add a bit more water than usual. Adding 2 and having a super strong chicken broth may overpower the lemon flavor, so I would not recommend it.

Enjoy!

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How My Picky Carnivore Still Eats His Fruits and Vegetables

My apologies for not posting in a while. I am currently a full-time graduate student, and I barely have time lately for anything but studying!

I know that many parents struggle to get their kids to eat enough fruits and vegetables – whether those kids are picky eaters or not – so I thought that my readers might be interested in hubby’s explanation for why he truly despises some fruits and vegetables, to the point where he will fight me if I try to force him to eat them. Hubby has explained to me that some fruits and veggies are ok all the time, some are never ok, and some are ok when prepared in certain ways. This communication really helped hubby and I fight less about food.

Interestingly, the taste of the fruit or vegetable is not usually the problem with hubby. The problem is most often the TEXTURE. Some textures make hubby want to gag (like how some people might feel about snails, or worms). Understandably, hubby just can’t bring himself to enjoy any meal that invokes that feeling. He mostly has problems with vegetables that have more than one texture, such as peppers (hard on the outside and soft on the inside). But sometimes, if I cook the vegetable enough, the consistency is a bit more homogenous and hubby can then enjoy it. This is true of tomatoes, which he cannot eat raw, but not peppers, which would be disgusting if cooked that much.

Here are some examples of fruits and vegetables hubby can and can’t eat. I do say can, not will, because if he does eat these, he will feel ill. I would love to hear how other picky eaters feel about these same vegetables, and if they understand hubby’s “texture not taste” explanation.

Fruits and Vegetables Hubby Will Eat:
peas
carrots
broccoli
cauliflower
corn
onions
cooked tomatoes
raw spinachr
lettuce
pumpkin
green beans
apple
orange
mango
banana (only if cooked in a bread or dessert)
grapes
blackberries
raspberries
blueberries (only if cooked in a bread or dessert)
strawberries
cranberries (dried)
peach
nectarine
plum
pineapple

Fruits and Vegetables Hubby Has A Texture Problem With:
raw tomatoes
squash
zucchini
peppers
raw broccoli
mashed beans
celery
eggplant
cucumber
cooked spinach
mashed beans
bamboo
turnips
lentils
any melon
kiwi
pomegranate
pear
banana, not cooked
blueberries, not cooked

Fruits and Vegetables With Which Hubby Has No Texture Problem But Rather Simply Hates the Taste:
brussels sprouts
asparagus
cabbage
shallots
beets
grapefruit
papaya

You might have noticed that none of the fruits or vegetables on the “taste problem only” are particularly popular in the US. This is partially why, now that I actually have the list, I run into very few problems with fruits and vegetables. The only ones that continually present problems are raw tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, zucchini and bananas. By now my family knows that he won’t eat those. All in all, since hubby has such a long list of fruits and vegetables that he is willing to eat, I can easily modify recipes and remove or replace any offending ingredients. Once I realized that texture was the issue and hubby wasn’t just being obnoxious, we got along so much better at mealtime.

So, has anyone else tried asking your picky child / significant other / friend for a list? Does it work for you?

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