Friday, October 24, 2014

Pumpkin Bread

I'm so excited about my Pumpkin Bread, which I rarely make...my daughter is the Pumpkin Bread 'queen' and also makes the best Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving, with her amazing homemade crust.
When I was  a 'kid' I hated pumpkins, and squash...how absurd was that! Even now, it's still not my favorites; but I've learned to adapt a liking to all of these wonderful fall treasures!
I normally would not have even made it, but my daughter and family were away for a long weekend last week, kids were out of school the following Monday. I was happy to  'dog sit' for my favorite little guys that I have spoiled since the last few years and they were so excited to have me around to give them treats and take them for walks. In the meantime, I was treated royally by my son and family to invite me over for dinner each evening, so I didn't even have to cook, and just bring dessert which happens to be my 8yr. old granddaughter's favorite...Pumpkin Bread!...my, how times have changed...tastes have changed since I was their age. Kids are so much more adventurous with their foods and are offered a lot more healthier choices!
Instead of googling for a Pumpkin Bread recipe, I decided to look for one in Martha Stewart's cookbook, which was of course a 'thrift find'...a 1995 edition that has so many great recipes...even if the book does not have any photos...you gotta love anything from Martha Stewart! Instead of making one loaf of bread spending precious time to make it, why not make 2 or 3 loaves? I can't even find this recipe online so I will have to type it out, and the modifications I had to make, that even gave it a nicer and much more flavorful, moist bread!
I was totally looking forward to making the Pumpkin Bread, and have an extra loaf to keep. I love these cute little loaf pans, and they're so perfect and handy being attached instead of separated.

Pumpkin Bread
source; Martha Stewart, from the Martha Stewart
cookbook...1995 edition

my modifications in blue

12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
I used 1 stick of butter
3 Tbsp. molasses
I omitted the molasses
2 cups sugar
I used 1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup orange juice or water
I used 1 cup fresh orange juice from 2 oranges
also grated the zest from one of the oranges
2 cups pumpkin or squash puree
I used 1 can (15 oz. 425g.) Libby's pumpkin puree
3 1/3 cups flour
I use 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
I used 1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
I used 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
I used 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup raisins or currants
I omitted raisins and currants

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 3- 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.
I sprayed cooking spray (for baking that has flour mixed in) Used 1 used 4 attached mini loaf pans, and 1- 9x5x3 loaf pan.
With an electric mixer, cream the butter, molasses,and sugar until light and fluffy.
I used a metal whisk to cream the butter,eggs and sugar until light and fluffy
Beat in the eggs one at a time.
I added the 4 eggs to the butter, and sugar, the vanilla extract, and whisked it until a light lemony color.
Add orange juice and pumpkin puree and mix well.
Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl.
No need to sift...just mix them all together without sifting. 
Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon, stirring well incorporated.
Add the raisins at this time. I omitted the raisins.
Spoon into prepared pans. Bake for 1 hr. or until toothpick inserted comes  out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out unto racks to cool.
I baked the mini pans for 35 minutes at 350 degrees F. along with the larger loaf pans...took the mini pans out of the oven, leaving the 9x5 loaf pan in the oven...lowered temperature to 325 degrees F. and bake for an additional 20 minutes...tested with toothpick and it was done in 55 minutes.

For Orange Glaze; 2 cups of powdered (icing) sugar, and 1 Tbsp. orange juice...mix it well together, until smooth (you should have a thick paste) ...drizzle on the bread with a soup spoon, or omit the drizzle.

Note: This was the best Pumpkin Bread that turned out so moist, the orange zest and the extra orange juice gave it such a pretty color, and flavor with the vanilla extract addition. The glaze is optional, but you don't have to use it on all the Pumpkin Breads...leave some without it if you prefer!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza

Hi everyone! Not much to post since nearly 2 weeks of absence. Although, I did post my Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza photo on facebook...which I have also been absent from for 3 months now. Wasn't a smart thing to post the pizza photos, since I didn't have it on my blog and it made it look like I just posted a 'random' store bought pizza.
I don't know about you, and how you feel about the 'follow' part on facebook...seems like I follow a lot of people, especially family relatives...ie. cousins, and close friends, but what I have discovered lately...duhh! (dummy me)...pondering over the fact that I have not gotten any feedback of my postings from any, or most of these close friends and relatives...I mean...what gives? I never stopped getting their latest 'tid-bits', photos of their kids mostly...their latest trips, etc. and I have always commented and 'liked'...so when I finally found out that they are NOT following me...I stopped following them...but not un-friending them, and at that point I gave up my interest in viewing what's going on out there. I discovered a totally new 'meaning' to my facebook page; just view what is being sent to my 'timeline' and keep 'liking' and commenting back to friends' that took the time to see my posts as well! So, that's that...getting back to my pizza!
It is really so easy to make your own fresh pizza dough by mixing the dough in a sturdy Kitchen-Aid mixer with a dough hook, or place the ingredients in a Bread Machine, and let it do its work. Just let the dough rise in a large oiled bowl, and the rest is so easy! I seem to be boring, but my favorite pizza topping is pepperoni, mushroom, and onions...although you can't see it all in the photo...it's in there!

MARTHA STEWART
Quick Basic Pizza Dough


  • 2 packets (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl and brushing
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for work surface

COOK'S NOTE

To freeze, you can wrap the dough in plastic and freeze it in a resealable freezer bag for up to 3 months. If you plan to use it in a recipe that calls for half a batch, divide it before freezing.

Note: This pizza is from half a batch...divide the dough in half, and wrap the other half in plastic wrap...freeze for another use, or make 2 pizzas with the recipe!

DIRECTIONS

  1. STEP 1

    Pour 1 1/2 cups warm water into a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. STEP 2

    Whisk sugar, oil, and salt into yeast mixture. Add flour and stir until a sticky dough forms. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and brush top with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead 1 or 2 times before using.

After kneading the dough once or twice, let the dough rest on the floured board...and if you're not a practice 'pizza thrower'...just get a rolling pin and roll into a circle from each direction as dough gets more elastic and your can fit it onto the pizza pan.








As you carefully fit it into the pizza pan, you can brush olive oil, and sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (I also used hot chili pepper flakes). Let the dough rise a little longer, and you can form nice shapely rims around the edges.








Next, I saute my sliced mushroom, and onions just slightly. (nothing worse than topping pizza with raw sliced mushroom, and raw sliced onions)...and paying $18.99 for a large pizza...horrific idea!








Here's a little secret...I pre-bake my dough at 450 degrees F. for 7 minutes, (this assures you not getting a soggy finish) ...next, I spoon my tomato sauce, and topping on it.









I make my own sauce...no pre-cooking needed, just add the entire 28 oz can of your favorite sauce into a medium bowl, add some extra virgin olive oil, abt. 1/4 cup, salt, and pepper, a few fresh torn basil leaves. Now, you are ready to top the pre-baked dough...(seen in the above photo)







Bake for about 10 more minutes, and at the last process, add more cheese and top with pepperoni slices.










Pre-sliced pepperoni comes in a convenient plastic bag, sliced 'paper thin'...so you really just add them at the few remaining minutes of baking time, on top of the shredded mozzarella cheese.










Now, you are ready to finish baking with the pepperoni topping, for an additional 5 more minutes. Total baking time abt. 22-25 minutes, at 450 degrees F.







The finished product! Perfect pizza,
not overflowing with extra cheese, but you can add more for the last baking process if you like. Just the right amount of sauce and topping...enjoy!












...and some other photos to share!

My newest little friend, who lives with his family in our courtyard...in the coconut palm trees...comes to visit me every morning on my balcony, for his peanuts; I named him Alvin!
Caught a glimpse of the lunar eclipse on the following morning...at 7:15 AM...missed it at night, on Oct. 8 before; too many clouds at night~ photo taken on our private beach, in Palm Beach, FL.
Notice the white streak in the sky? An airplane flying through the sky...how awesome is that?!
Finally, at 7:40 AM...this is how the sky and the ocean appeared!
Wherever one is at any given moment...we are seeking connection with the Divine~

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate"...Chocolate Cake...

Just to prove my point...cloudy, dreary, and rain, rain, rain, every single day, here in South Florida until Oct. 17, the official date for the end of our rainy season. Don't get me wrong that we don't get any sunshine...yes we do, even with all the rain. Clouds form on one side of the sky and it's clear and blue on the other side. The weirdest part is; when it rains on one side....for instance; down the road it is sunny...less than one mile away! I was so determined to take my photo of this classic Hershey's Chocolate Cake...by the time I finished, the clouds were rolling in...so there you have it...my worst best shot!
One hour later...delivered the cake to its destination...(did not realize the small smear taking it out of the carton)...doing yet, another 'photo prop' outside my daughter's back yard patio....little better natural lighting, then, a few minutes later...had to literally run inside with the cake because it started to rain. So there you have it; 'the rain saga'...once more!

While I was visiting and commenting on blogs, I stumbled on this wonderful 'classic' Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake from a dear new blogger friend, Dottie, @Family Plus Food Equals Love...what a sweet name for a food blog. She is so gracious, and talented; you can also find the Hershey's Milk Chocolate Chip recipe there, as well!

I haven't made this classic cake in a while, and I must say I had to adapt a few things, first...by adjusting the sugar amount and adding a small amount of 'real' butter to the batter, as well.

My modifications are in red

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
  • 2 cups sugar 1 cup of sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa 1 cup
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk 1/2 cup milk boiled
  • 1/2 cup Hershey's semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1/4 cup veg. oil + 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
                                                                                         
    1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
    2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, softened butter, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water, boiled milk, with chocolate chips added in the milk to melt (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
    3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. Makes 12 servings.

    Frost with FLUFFY WHITE (7-MINUTE) frosting

    VARIATIONS:
    ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.
    THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.
    Fluffy White Frosting, or 7- Minute Frosting...or Marshmallow Frosting is a true American 'classic' that has been around for decades...my very first time I tried it, was a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that was given to me as a gift, in 1974, when it was called...FLUFFY WHITE FROSTING!
    Every recipe I googled called for the addition of light corn syrup added...which I sparingly use...or don't use at all! I have been using McCormick Cream of Tartar instead...for years; which is a powdery substance, a very small amount added to make the frosting fluffy, and add body which the corn syrup adds...which happens to be a stabilizer. A tiny amount of the Cream of Tartar does it all!
    Fluffy White Frosting      

    1 cup white sugar


    1/3 cup water


    1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


    2 egg whites 
    I used 4 egg whites                                                   


    1 teaspoon vanilla extract


    This method is so much easier than the double boiler method, just make sure that you let the mixture get very bubbly, for a few minutes...it will get thicker, and almost a pale yellow color (after that it will turn amber) and you will have to make caramel sauce with it, adding cream to the amber sugar.
    The choice is yours; just carefully watch over the boiling sugar content!






    1. In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and cream of tartar. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.
    2. In a medium mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar mixture while whipping constantly until stiff peaks form, about 7 to 10 minutes. Frost the cake of your choice. 
    3. I have been making this frosting for my grown children when they were little...and now my 4 grandchildren are enjoying it, and it has become their very favorite. With 4 egg whites you can achieve the same quality...making sure you do the 'finger test'...seriously!