Pumpkin Bread to Make Your Life.

I kid you not. I start getting requests for this fall inspired pumpkin bread as early as August. My coworkers would kill me if they knew I made a loaf last night and didn’t bring any to the office today. It’s good. Real good.

 I made my first loaf of “the season” yesterday and it was just as delicious and comforting as ever. The recipe I use is adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Bridal Edition cookbook. Cdub actually gave it to me a really long time ago, and it’s been my standby for a few years now. (Even though I thought it was kind of weird when he gave it to me).

I, of course, had to make a few changes, but this recipe is awesome and simple and you should go get about 10 cans of pumpkin right now. If you make this once, you’ll make it about 20 more times before Christmas. Trust me.

Becker’s Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour (whole wheat pastry also works)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 (heaping) teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 (heaping) teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar (regular refined sugar is fine)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup water (seems strange, but trust me)
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • About a 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the sugar and oil in a large bowl with an electric beater until well combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg. Whisk them all together until well combined.
  4. Alternately add the flour and water to the egg, sugar, oil mixture. Mix well after each addition of flour or water. Mix an entire can of pumpkin into the combined batter.
  5. At this point you can go crazy! I usually like to just top my pumpkin bread with walnuts. However, in the past, I’ve been known to add chocolate chips , raisins, nuts to the batter – whatever you can think of.
  6. Pour the batter into a greased bread pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes. Let it cool… or better yet, cut it while it’s still warm and spread a little butter on top, it’s heaven I tell ya.

If you like to make more than one loaf at a time, of course you can double the recipe – or make muffins with the current recipe.

Enjoy!

Maggie. A love story.

She came into our lives November 15, 2009.

She was petite, pretty and down right precious. I want to tell you about the day I met Maggie…

Cdub and I were headed to church on a Sunday morning, the date was November 15 which meant the one year anniversary of my Dad’s passing was only 15 days away. I was particularly emotional that day. On the car ride to church, I broke down. Major emotional mess. Tears, snot and seizing breaths. Cdub pulled over in a Walmart parking lot and asked if I wanted to just go home and spend the day together, to which I quickly replied, “Yes. Please.”

As we turned to leave the parking lot, we noticed the PetSmart nearby where a local animal shelter was stationed for pet adoption day.

With all good intentions, he asked, “Do you want to stop and look at the doggies, that might cheer up you.

Me: “What?! Are you crazy? That’s just going to make me even more depressed.”

Cdub: “Ok, let’s go.”

2 seconds later…. Me: “No, no, let’s stop. You’re right. I do love animals.”

So, we pulled over. As soon as I stepped out of the car, I spotted her. She was curled up in the corner of her kennel, completely silent, despite all the other dogs barking and yelping around her. I walked straight up to her kennel and she just stared. Christopher stopped behind me and gave us a moment.

I was a goner. Cdub walked up and asked if I wanted to take her out of the kennel. Without hesitation, I shook my head yes.

After about 10 minutes, we were filling out the paperwork to adopt Maggie. I can’t help but think she was meant to be there for me. She immediately brought me comfort and some inkling of healing. I can’t help but think my Dad might have had a little smirk on his face as she rode home with us in my arms.

Yes, she’s a dog. But she’s also my best friend and companion. Sometimes she’s crazy and makes me mad, but then she’ll snuggle up next to me while I’m reading a book, or kiss me on the ear when I bend down to pet her and it’s all ok again.

I love my dog.  And she loves me.

Small House Love

I love our house. We built it ourselves, with lots of love, sweat and tears. Literally. We picked out every single detail, installed, assembled and painted every square inch. It is “our” home in every sense of the word – very “us.” And it’s small. Like really small. What do you consider small? 1,500 sq ft? 1,200 sq ft? Try a whopping 845 sq ft. One bedroom, one bathroom, a laundry/utility room, living area/open kitchen and an upstairs porch. It’s small and efficient and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We do have an unfinished basement that we will one day finish before little Cdubs and Beckers are running around. When we made the decision to build our house, we just refused to be “house poor.” You know what I’m talking about – we didn’t want to be chained to our mortgage – and we’re not. It’s a really good feeling too.  

It also feels really good to live in just the amount of space we need. Nothing more, nothing less.  

10 things I’ve learned from living in a small home:  

  1. You can’t have clutter – ever. It’s just not an option.
  2. Organization is very important. We need  a bookshelf desperately!
  3. A clean small house is a happy small house.
  4. I can clean my entire house – top to bottom – in less than 2 hours. Easy.
  5. You better really like your spouse.
  6. Vaulted ceilings and sky lights make a small house “airy.”
  7. Our utility bill is totally reasonable.
  8. You never really “need” 3,000 square feet with a bonus room and finished basement.
  9. You learn to be creative in storing things.
  10. Our home can grow with us 🙂

   

Our happy little kitchen

Beautiful fall trees in backyard

Furniture in living room by Granddad

Did you miss me?

I sure missed you (oh, and you too, Reader #2). 🙂 I got a little bored with blogging for a second there. Sorry about that. That doesn’t mean life got boring. Nope – not at all. There’s been apple festivaling, rock sliding, dog hiking, graduate school researching, bike riding and lots of baking!  

I’m not sure if ya’ll know, but the approach of fall in the mountains means one thing. And one thing only, and it has nothing to do with foliage. Fall in the mountains means APPLES. Beautiful, crisp, sweet, juicy, lovely little fruits of delight. I’m up to my eyeballs in apples right now, and I’m ok with that. So far I’ve made: Apple muffins, apple crumble (recipe below) and grilled cheese with thinly sliced apples – yummay. All of which were delicious, but my heavens… apple crumble, you stole my heart. I’m normally a hardcore chocolate gal, but this apple crumble takes the chocolate cake any day. Topped with a little vanilla bean ice cream (it must be vanilla bean, not just “vanilla”), and you’ve bliss.  

And for all you kind folks… here is the recipe (I just used what I had around for this recipe, but it seemed to work pretty well, next time I’d probably add nuts to the crumble and maybe raisins to the apple mixture):  

“Let’s wing it!” Apple Crumble  

Ingredients   

  • 1/2 cup flour ( I used whole wheat, you can use AP)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 6 tbl cold butter
  • About 5 cups peeled, chopped apples (I used 4 very large apples to make 5 cups)
  • 3 tbl sugar
  • 1/2 tbl lemon zest
  • Juice of half a lemon

Method  

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. For the crumble: In a bowl combine, flour, sugars, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg and cut in butter until evenly distributed and… well, crumbly. Set aside.
  3. For the apples, add the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and mix. Put the apples in the bottom of a 8×8 greased baking dish. Spread crumble on top.
  4. Bake for about 30 – 40 mins in a preheated oven. (I baked mine for 35 minutes).
  5. Top with ice cream while still warm. Clean plate.

Not my apple crumble - but you get the idea.

 

Happy apple eatin to ya!

Destined for a muffin top?

I’m gonna be, if I don’t stop this muffin making madness!!! Just kidding. (Maybe). 

Last night I made Jenna’s absolutely, ridiculously, delicious, chocolately, crazy good muffins. Seriously, these are trouble. I took a few pictures of my process, but you might want to check her photos out. These are super dense, chocolatey, but not to sweet, and just plain AMAZING. The batter looks like a mousse and it’s almost impossible to avoid a spoon lick or two. Cdub and I are planning a hike tomorrow and these will definitely be in my snack bag. 

Butter + Chocolate Lovin

 

That's some good lookin batter

 

Before some serious muffin destruction ensued

 

 I ended up with 20 of these babies! Oh my Lord! No worries, I sent Cdub to work with some and put a few in the freezer for a rainy day. I seriously love these muffins. Although they are very rich, they are so lovely and… what’s the word I’m looking for???… perfect. Yep, they’re pretty perfect. 

I obviously have a problem.

A Pancake Tour

Wouldn’t that just be the best thing ever… taking a pancake tour of America. Searching out the presumably best pancake spots in the U.S of A, doing a good ol’ Becker’s taste test, and then writing about it! Oh man, if only, right? Travel and Leisure did a survey of the best pancake joints in America and Hominy Grill in Charleston, SC was one of the top picks. I’ve been there before! But sadly never had the pancake – Next time! Check it out.

How can I get paid to research and write about things like this? If you have any connections, please let me know!

Speaking of pancakes. Here is one of my favorite recipes, courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis. She’s not necessarily my favorite food network personality, but I do have one of her cookbooks and most of her recipes are pretty delicious.

Ricotta Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups pancake and waffle mix (recommended: Krusteaz)
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup frozen blueberries
  • Melted butter

Directions

Stir 1/3 cup of water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stir in the honey. Set aside and keep the honey syrup warm.

Using a rubber spatula, stir the remaining 1 2/3 cups of water and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the pancake mix and stir just until moistened but still lumpy. Stir in the ricotta into the pancake mixture, then stir gently to incorporate the ricotta but maintain a lumpy batter. Fold in the blueberries.

Heat a griddle over medium heat. Brush with the melted butter. Working in batches, spoon 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Serve with honey syrup.

While we’re on the subject of pancakes, can we talk about how one should grease thegriddle. I’ve always been a straight up butter girl myself. That’s how my Dad did it and his pancakes always had a perfect, slightly crispy edge and a sweet buttery flavor. Apparently (unbeknownst to me) some people actually use non-stick spray when greasing the griddle for pancakes. I understand it cuts back on calories and fat – but man, there is just no substitute for pancakes made on a buttered griddle. But that’s just me.

Oh, and another thing. Sugar free syrup?! What’s the point? You’re eating PANCAKES. Unless they’re whole wheat, there’s sugar in there somewhere – even if you don’t directly add sugar to your batter. I don’t know, maybe I’m getting a little carried away here. I prefer just a touch of maple syrup, but I tend to be a pancake syrup purist. (Did I really just say pancake syrup purist)?

Ok, guys, it’s obviously been a long day.

Guess who’s having breakfast for dinner tonight?

Yep. This girl.

Splashin Around

Springmaid Splash. I came. I ran. It conquered. Well, sort of. I ran this 10k trail race for the 4th time this weekend. It was wet, muddy and really, really hard. I finished in 1:12:30. I know this sounds like a really slow 10k time, but you can’t really expect to get anywhere close to your normal 10k with this race. It’s a fact. You run through two river crossing in the first mile and run up a muddy, single track mountain – with wet feet, socks and shorts. Yeah. So, I’m pretty happy with my time.

To be completely honest, my “training” was just not up to par this summer. I got in one 7 mile run before the race, but other than that, I just took a really relaxed approach to training. I was pretty nervous about this one and hoped to finish in less than 1:20. I was really surprised as I came to the final mile and looked at my watch. I realized I was going to make it under 1:15, and I kicked it into gear.

I always feel incredibly accomplished after this run, I think that’s why I keep coming back. Not to mention it’s really well-organized with lots of food, water and goodies at the finish line. I’ll be back next year.

What do you do after a crazy hard trail run? You go here and eat some really good pizza and drink some of this.

It was well with my soul.

See ya!