Monday, November 6, 2017

Pumpkin Bread and Muffins

Pumpkin Bread and Muffins

3 cups all purpose flour or whole wheat flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins, if desired
2/3 cup of vegetable oil
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs
1 can ( 16 ounces ) pumpkin

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9x5x3 loaf pans.  Beat all ingredients in a large bowl on low speed, scraping bowl frequently, for 30 seconds.  Beat on medium speed, scraping bowl frequently, for 45 second.  Pour into pans.  Bake until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean, about 50 - 60 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes in pan.  Remove from pans and cool completely before slicing.  Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.  Also freezes well.

Muffins - Makes about 2 dozen muffins, bake for 20 to 25 minutes until tops spring back when touched.  

I have been making this recipe for it!   It can be made into bread, mini-loaves, or muffins.  Found this recipe in a booklet from Gold Medal Flour that I sent in 25 cents to have mailed to me back in the 1980's.   About 20 years ago I lost the booklet...called Gold Medal and described the cover of the booklet and the woman I spoke to said they had a few left, she would send me another.  I quickly made a copy of the recipe and put the booklet in a safe place...because everyone seems to enjoy the pumpkin treat and I never want to be without it.  As you can see you can also vary the recipe with applesauce, banana, carrots, or zucchini.  I have tried them all and they are all great - but pumpkin is my favorite.   
Variations :   I often substitute 1/2 to 1 cup of oat bran for some of the flour.  I also never use raisin....I always use 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips.  The combination of pumpkin, walnuts, and chocolate is divine.  Here's how the recipe goes together....

Gather all ingredients and place in large mixer bowl.
Mix well, then add chocolate chips.
Mix gently to fold in chocolate chips.
To make the muffins all the same size I spray an ice cream scooper with non-stick spray and then use that to fill the muffin tins I lined with paper liners.  This makes a nice rounded top on the muffins.
Sprinkling the tops with raw or demerara sugar to give a  nice top on the muffins.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until tops are set and bounce back when pressed lightly.
Finished product - perfect with a cup of tea as an afternoon treat!  Great for breakfast or anytime.   I put the muffins in freezer bags and store in freezer so I can take out as many as needed whenever I need.
These are also perfect for little gifts...just popping over to a neighbor to share a little treat!

Hope you make these soon - they are delicious !

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Marvelous Mums

Marvelous Mums !  Last week we had the pleasure of visiting one of the world's best gardens...Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA .  My wonderful friends gifted us with a membership as a retirement gift.  We have enjoyed the gardens many times and this visit we were accompanied by my sister and her husband.  Part of their " milestone birthday" year celebration.
The gardens are beautiful and we were happy to be there on the last day of the famous fountains.  The wonderfully restored fountains have a show several times a day and the water moves to the music that is piped out over the gardens.  It is magnificent!
Loved the entrance and pumpkin topiary.

Strolling the grounds the trees were at their glad to live in the Northeast and enjoy this time of the year.
"Summer's loss seems little dear, on October days like these." Ernest Dowson

It was the perfect weather for wandering around the gardens...
The highlight of the day was this amazing chrysanthemum.  The gardeners there train the plant so that all the blooms are coming off of one plant!

Walking through the greenhouse we saw so many varieties of plants...

 Including this peaceful silver and white garden...
It was a fabulous day, but as we returned home to Willow Valley we were struck by the beauty that surrounds us thanks to the amazing grounds and garden staff here...

Gorgeous mums...and we get to enjoy them every day.  Well, until the frost comes!
If you want to visit Longwood Gardens here is the link 

It is a very popular place...and very crowded during the holiday season.  That is when the mums are replaced with poinsettias and lights.   If you visit, be sure to have lunch in the cafe...and try the mushroom soup.  Kennett Square is famous for mushrooms and the soup is wonderful!
Hope everyone enjoyed the extra hour we gained...have a cozy and fabulous November!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

First Snowmen of the Season

Early Christmas Cookies

Exciting and busy week -  Enjoyed a great evening at Rock Ford Plantation in Lancaster.  The preserved home of General Edward Hand is just a short drive from our new home.  We attended a presentation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - and it was fantastic!  The home was all in candlelight and we were "guests at the Van Tassel Harvest Ball".  The interactive presentation of the classic story moved from room to room.  There was a live fiddle player and dancing, too.   A wonderful Fall evening.
Friday found us at the Fulton at a presentation of Sleuth - amazingly good show.  Saturday was the perfect weather for a family wedding .  Then came Sunday - where I participated in Susquehanna Style Magazine's Holiday Recipe Contest.  When I saw the article it asked "is there a holiday dessert or appetizer that your family insists you make each year ?  Enter the recipe in our contest!"  The Snowmen immediately came to mind and I entered them in the contest.  I was thrilled to learn I was a finalist and needed to make the cookies and bring them to be judged on Sunday.  So began the process of making Christmas Cookies in October - 

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
2 cups of sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
1/4 teaspoon of coconut extract

Hershey Kisses
Mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
Mini chocolate chips
Decorator icing ( I use a purchased tube)
Powdered sugar...for the SNOW!
In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour and baking powder.  Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.
Add sugar and beat until fluffy.

Add egg, vanilla, almond, and coconut extract and beat well. 

Gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture beating well after each addition.  

Cover, and chill overnight...or wrap well and freeze for up to 3 months.
For each snow person, shape the dough into 3 1 inch, one 3/4 inch, and one 1/2 inch.   After a bit you get the feel for the size and it goes quickly.

Use the mini chocolate chips to make eyes and buttons...and push the three sections together slightly to make them bake together.  I also try to flatten the top of the head to make the candy caps easy to attach.
Bake in a 325 degree oven about 18 minutes until the edges are firm and the bottoms are light brown.  Cool one minute on cookie sheet then remove to rack.

With decorator icing add a cap to each snowman...kisses look like girls and the peanut butter cups look like boys ski caps.  I cut the peanut butter cups in half so they attach easily.
Then take the icing and make a scarf and a little pom-pom for each hat...and sprinkle with powdered sugar "snow".
I put them in airtight containers between layers of wax paper...and I freeze them, too.  You can make them early in December and freeze to take out when you need some,
Sunday I arrived with the cookies at Stauffer's Market and the judging began...

A photographer took photos as all recipes will appear in the December issue of Susquehanna Style.
The judges had a difficult job tasting all the great entries...
These unofficial judges in the crowd gave them a good score!

I was so pleased to receive 2nd Place..with Pumpkin Crisp taking the 1st Place Prize.
Very grateful for the prizes...a $75 gift card to Stauffer's and a $50 gift card to the General Sutter Inn in Lititz.
What a great day it was...and I am looking forward to seeing the snowmen in the Susquehanna Style December issue.  Have fun making these...they are sure to be a big hit with your friends and family!

Monday, October 9, 2017

October Fun!

October is here...and Halloween decorations have moved out of the storage unit and into our new space. This ghostly wreath made it through the move with just some steaming of the ribbon to perk it up.

I think each holiday is going to be fun and I am looking forward to finding new places for all my favorite decorations....and will probably be sending some to a new home as we just don't have the space we used to have to decorate.  After 10 years in our last home I knew where everything went each I find myself wandering around looking for new spots to decorate.

These books were old, discarded books from the library.  I sprayed them with black paint and then used silver stick on letters.  They would not fit on the new mantel so they found a home in the foyer.
Little wooden ghost in a dish of mini pumpkins...

Little ghosts hiding everywhere...I made these in a ceramics glass 40 years ago...the first year we were married!
The same thing with this Jack-O-Lantern...not bad for 40 years old and surviving many moves!
Love this pillow...
"The witch is in"...and she needs a drink!
Great day with my college friends - "The Kutztown Girls" - who came for lunch. Quiche, salad, pumpkin muffins and a little treat to take home.  Fabulous day !

Pumpkin Bread and Muffins

Pumpkin Bread and Muffins 3 cups all purpose flour or whole wheat flour 2 cups sugar 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts 1/2 cup raisin...