Wednesday

Pumpkin Cookie Dip

Just in case you are looking an unusual dip that you can use as a dessert...and it isn't pie. And it doesn't come much easier than this!



4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
2 - 8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
1 can (30 oz) pumpkin pie filling mix
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger



*In a large bowl, combine the icing sugar and cream cheese. Beat until silky smooth. Now add the rest of the ingredients until all are well combined. Store in the refrigerator until tea time. Believe it or not, this dip is amazing with spice cookies!

Tuesday

Christmas Morning Cinnamon Buns

My dad had this thing about cinnamon buns and strangely enough, he passed the craving along to me. Actually I like just about anything with cinnamon, but that's another story lol...


Buns

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup whole milk
Flour (for sprinkling)



Filling

2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted



*Begin by setting oven to 375 and then spray a cookie sheet so that buns won't stick. If you don't care about the calories, lavishly butter the pan. Yes, I do slip every once in a while.
*Start by combining your filling which consists of brown sugar, the cinnamon and butter and then set aside until you need it.
*Now combine the dry ingredients, stir in butter and milk and mix until it forms a soft dough.
* Sprinkle counter with flour and then roll the dough until you have a rectangle that measures about 9x16 inches.
* Now comes the fun part. Spread the sugary filling onto the dough but try to leave a border around the edge that is sugar free.
*Starting at one end, begin rolling the dough so that you have a long roll. Form a seam along the edge to hold everything in place.
*Now slice the roll into equal size pieces and then arrange on a cookie sheet.
*Bake for about 25 minutes. Cinnamon rolls should be golden brown and your kitchen should smell heavenly.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

In our family, if you can add chocolate chips, the recipe receives an automatic thumbs up. There's just something about chocolate that really seems to perk up banana bread


2 cups mashed bananas

1 tablespoon grated orange rind

1/3 cup orange juice

3 eggs

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup chocolate chips

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


*IN one bowl, mash bananas with the orange rind and juice.



*Add beaten eggs and then stir in the oil and the sugar.



*In another bowl, meaure out the flour, chocolate chips, baking powder, soda and nutmeg. Actually there is a rule in our house about the chocolate chips. You simply toss them in by the handful. You can't use too many!



*Stir into the banana mixture. Most recipes tell you not to overstir, but if I do that I have to explain why there are white lumps in the slices. Now I stir until there is not chance of it happening.



* Pour into 2 greased loaf pans and bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) for about an hour. Skewer should come out dry when tested.



*Go and make yourself a coffee and when you are done, loafs should be cool enough to remove from pan. Allow to finish cooling on a rack.

Cranberry Nut Bread for Novices

2 cups sifted flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen



*To make the bread even better, I now sift all of the dry ingredients together and put into a separate bowl. Don't ask me why it makes any difference, but just this added step, does something to it! I might hate to cook, but I don't mind a few extra steps if it turns out well!



*Add butter and chop into tiny pieces.



*In a large mug, combine the orange juice, the rind and the egg and then pour into the dry ingredients.



*Stir the wet and dry ingredients together until there are no lumps to surprise someone when they take a bit. Now add the fruit and nuts.



*Spoon "batter" into two small loaf pans and then bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Skewer inserted into center of loaf should come out dry if the bread is done.



*Remove from loaf pans and allow to cool. If you can hold off, wait until the next day before slicing.

Pumpkin Pie to Die For

Pumpkin Pie

I hope that serving pumpkin pie at your house is easier than it is at mine. I'm the only one who likes it!



1 3/4 cups Unsweetened Pumpkin Puree (one 15-ounce can)
3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar,
2 tsp Ground Ginger
1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Salt
2/3 cup Milk
2/3 cup Heavy Cream
3 large Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (go for the real stuff if you can manage it.



I would say to make your own crust, but I have to admit that I keep a supply of frozen in the freezer. Just makes it that much easier.

*Add the pumpkin, brown sugar, spices and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and keep stirring. When the simmering takes place, reduce heat to low and continue to stir constantly. It should take about 5 minutes for the mixture to turn thick and shiny.

*Pour mixture into a food processor and whip for about a minute. Add milk and cream and keep mixing until all the liquid is absorbed. Now add the eggs and mix just until the egg is absorbed into the mixture. Add the remainder one at a time following the same procedure.

*Add the vanilla

*Pour pumpkin mixture into a pie shell and sit it on the lowest rack of the oven and bake at 375 for about an hour. Watch for burning. Nothing ruins the flavor of a pumpkin pie than a burnt crust.

*Remove from oven and place on a rack to cook. Don't worry if the filling doesn't look quite right. It will settle as it cools.

Pumpkin Soup For Those of Us Who Would Rather Eat Out

If you have a jack-o-lantern this year, you might as well do something with the left-over pumpkin. There is just something so soothing about pumpkin at this time of year.



2 pounds of pumpkin flesh, chopped into cubes
1 large onion, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 flat teaspoon of curry powder, mild or medium strength
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground pepper
3-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon sunflower oil

*Take the pumpkin cubes along with a bay leaf and cook until the cubes are softened.
*Saute the onion in a little oil until transparent. Stop before you burned the life out of it... like I tend to do.
*Add the garlic and gently cook the mixture.
*Sprinkle with the curry powder and stir to distribute (color everything a gorgeous golden color)
*Drain pumpkin mixture if necessary.
*Transfer the garlic and onion mixture into the pot containing the pumpkin.
*Add potato, stock and a little salt and pepper if necessary. We are trying to cut back on our salt intake, so we use as little as possible.
*Simmer until potato chunks are soft enough to mash.
Get out your potato masher and go to it, or toss everything into a blender if you are short on time!



*Dinner is done!

REALLY Easy Pumpkin Bread

There is nothing like pumpkin bread at this time of the year... at any time for that matter. If you don't have fresh pumpkins available, you can always resort to pumpkin puree out of a can.



1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin purée*
1/2 cup olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or whatever nuts you have on hand. I don't think that we have used the same nut twice in this recipe. And, our half cup is usually, very generous. lol...



Grease and flour loaf pan. Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl and set aside. Add spices, raisins (yes, we usually throw in a handful whether they are in the recipe or not) and nuts, liquids and mix. Eggs are added last and beaten into the mixture. Pour into loaf pan and bake for one hour at 350 degrees. To check that the bread is cooked, insert a skewer into the center and remove. Skewer should be dry. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a rack.

Simple/Easy Menus... Where I Get My Best Ideas!!

 Those paper menus that serve as place mats... tuck one into your handbag and when you get home check to see how many meals that you could...