Pumpkin Bread with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Giving Thanks

Having close friends over around the holidays reminds you of what you’re truly thankful for.  Putting together a meal that has people coming back for more is my ultimate goal.  This past Sunday we had some fans over for chicken tacos (a staple for Football Sunday) and homemade Pumpkin Bread.   I find the best compliment to how good the cooking is… seeing people go back for seconds.  By the time everyone left for the evening the Pumpkin Bread was gone :)  Enjoy!!

FOR THE BREAD:

  • 1 3/4 cup All-purpose GF Flour
  • 2 tablespoons Pumpkin Spice
  • ½ teaspoons Salt (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 2  Eggs
  • ¾ cups Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 stick softened (room temp) butter
  • 1 (15oz) can Pumpkin Puree

FOR THE FROSTING:

  • 1 softened bar of cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar (more or less for desired taste)

1. Preheat oven 325 F. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.
2. Sift together flour, pumpkin spice, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
3. In a separate bowl, cream softened butter using an electric mixer, add in eggs and beat until creamy. Beat in brown sugar and sugar on medium speed for one minute. Add in vanilla and beat until well-combined. Alternate in the flour mixture and pumpkin into the creamed mixture, beat until just combined. Make sure that you scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
4. Spread batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove bread from the oven. Allow bread to cool in pan before removing it from the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.
5. Prepare the frosting while the bread is cooling. Cream the cream cheese in a large bowl, add cinnamon, slowly add confectioner’s sugar. Beat until well-combined and creamy. Spread frosting over the top of the cooled bread.
6. Store leftovers (if there are any) in the refrigerator.

Welcoming Fall with Roasted Crimini Mushroom Soup

Nothing makes me happier then being able to open the windows (even in the winter) and let the fresh air pour in.  I love the smell of fall, burning leaves, crisp air, and something amazing simmering in the kitchen.

For our first real weekend in fall I made Roasted Crimini and White Bean Mushroom Soup.  This has now turned into one of my favorite feel good soups.  I typically like smooth or creamy soups vs. a stew but with the recent attention to the waist line have been staying away from the cream.  I was able to trick my taste buds with this recipe.  The recipe below is 100% vegetarian but I’ve added notes along the way to zest it up for the non veggies.

Something to note:  I don’t like to cook with added salt. Mainly for health reasons and salt is added to everything we cook with so there is always a certain level of salt in any recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 16 oz. packages of crimini mushrooms, quartered (any mushroom will work in bite size form)
  • 2 medium sweet onions, quartered or sliced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon pepper, divided ( I like my soup with a little kick, you might not use all of this… Taste as you go)
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian herb blend
  • 8-10 fresh sage leaves*
  • 6-8 stems + 1 tablespoon leaves fresh thyme*, divided
  • 48 oz. vegetable broth (chicken broth can be substituted for carnivore version)
  • 2 – 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, not drained
  • 1-15 oz. butter beans  (3 cans of any white bean will be ok)
  • Additional salt and pepper for your preference
  • I container diced Pancetta (carnivore version) I find a container of pre-diced Pancetta is available in Trader Joes or the grocery store where they sell the meat and cheeses.

*Dried herbs may be substituted for fresh. The rule of thumb is one part dried, to three parts fresh.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Toss mushrooms, garlic and onion in olive oil, and 1 teaspoon pepper. (Separate mushrooms on baking sheet for roasting, you’ll use them in different parts of your recipe. Make sure to us a larger baking sheet; mushrooms give off a lot of steam along with the onions and you don’t want to over crowd your pan..) Spread on baking sheet. Add sage leaves and stems of thyme. Roast in 450° F oven for 10 minutes, toss and roast for additional 15 minutes.
  3. While vegetables are roasting, add broth, beans, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon Italian herb blend to a large stock pot over medium heat and simmer.
  4. When vegetables are done roasting, let cool slightly.
  5. Retrieve at least 2 cups of the white beans (more if you want it smoother), and 1 cup of broth from the stock pot, add to a blender along with the roasted onions, garlic and 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves. Cover and blend until smooth.
  6. Add pureed bean mixture back to stock pot, stir in until smooth. Add roasted mushrooms to soup. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Warm over low heat until ready to serve.
  8. If you are interested in jazzing this up with some carnivorous touches; crisp up some pancetta in a saute pan over medium heat.  Once crisp, drain on some paper towels and sprinkle over soup with as much or as little as desired.  (Another reason not to add additional salt)

I think that went well…

Nothing makes entertaining more enjoyable then living through an I Love Lucy episode leading up to  your guests arriving.  I love the idea of bringing people together with good food and lively conversation… somehow this doesn’t always translate from the Pinterest pinboard in my head to the apartment living in which I call home and the lack of a full Pottery Barn budget.  (Because that is beautiful, smooth, and priceless.)  My biggest effort goes toward creating a simple friendly gluten-free menu (that no one can tell is GF), realizing everyone has a different palette.

We recently hosted a dinner for family, nothing that should have been intimidating … but it felt overwhelming (and slightly sweaty at times) to me. I somehow found myself playing beat the clock when my guests started to arrive.  The biggest lesson I’ve learned and now practice is that it’s not a sin to ask for help.  Someone else cutting a lemon is not a crippling act that translates to, “You didn’t do it all.”  It’s simply cutting a damn lemon and this is why having an amazing sister in law makes things better.

Dressed to impress:  One thing I care about is that I want to make a menu that is simple, yet impressive (impressive does sometimes require some intermediate recipes).  I made a whole filet of salmon, thank you Martha… it was totally worth the purchase of a serving tray form Bed Bath and Beyond (catching the budget theme here?  I jump on those 20% coupons like a fat kid on an Oreo).  It looks very impressive but it’s only about 5 ingredients and 22 minutes in the oven.  I thought I was sailing…. This is where the conveyor belt started…

See the smile… Before
I still had the false hope just like Lucy did

Next I put together the French Potato Salad; a nice fish like salmon pairs well with potatoes so I cut the heavy mayo for a nice Dijon vinaigrette.  The best part of this recipe is after you mix the vinaigrette, it gets poured over the warm potatoes and the flavors really marry. (kinda like a German Potato Salad but French is sexier to say)

Roasted Salmon with Herbed Yogurt
picture from Martha Stewart.com
French Potato Salad
picture from MarthaStewart.co
I was doing well until this point, then a vortex opened up and sucked 45 minutes away from me; I still don’t know where this time went… I blame it on the corn.  The last item on my menu was a fresh corn salad.  This sounded very easy, served room temp, a vinaigrette made with apple cider vinegar….. but it was the 11 ears of corn I had to cut off the kernels of that caused some pause.  I didn’t include this recipe becuase it didn’t curl my toes.  There are other options out there that could work just as well.
The evening commenced with a homemade tiramisu…. recipe next time.