Snacks

Pumpkin Bread

by Nancy on November 8, 2011

in Breads,Snacks,Vegetarian

I suppose I can admit that we don’t always have pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving anymore. Kinda sad I know but the apples on my tree ripen about a month before Thanksgiving so I often make an apple pie and freeze it so all I have to do is bake it the day before. And then I have a couple of diehards that insist on a pecan pie for Thanksgiving. Carrie is one of them so she bakes the pecan pie, one less thing for me to do. But it still doesn’t seem like fall without something pumpkin with the accompanying spicy aroma.

So to get my pumpkin spice fix I make pumpkin bread and have a slice or two for breakfast with a cup of tea. Many pumpkin bread recipes suffer the same “flaw” as carrot cake (another favorite of mine). To keep the bread moist, the recipes use a lot of oil – 2/3 to 1 cup for an average loaf. I don’t like my pumpkin bread or carrot cake to leave an oil ring on my plate and that oil adds a lot of calories. So I tested several recipes and made a few changes of my own until I came up with a recipe that is moist and uses only 1/3 cup of oil.

Pumpkin Bread

Makes two 3″ x 7″ mini loaves.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, raisins or dried cranberries (optional)
  1. Blend pumpkin, sugar and egg with spoon in 1 quart bowl.
  2. Stir in oil, salt and spices.
  3. Add water, baking soda and baking powder.
  4. Mix in flour.
  5. Pour into two 3″ x 7″ mini loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes. Do not underbake.

 

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Trail Mix

by Nancy on August 30, 2011

in Snacks

I’ve been experimenting for a while to make the perfect trail mix. My trail mix has to have the right mix of flavors and all of the pieces had to be about the same size and chunky. Mixes with little pieces and big pieces are out. With similar sizes you get a handful containing all of the different ingredients each time instead of a handful of one or two chunky ingredients at the beginning and a handful of tiny bits at the end. Sunflower seeds are a good example of a flavor that’s great in trail mix but is so small that it sifts to the bottom. You should be able to grab a handful of trail mix without looking at the container to pick it up so the ingredients need to be chunky.

I like coconut in my trail mix but most store bought coconut flakes fall into the category of too small. Bob’s Red Mill makes a large flaked coconut that I use when I’m in a hurry to put together a batch of trail mix. You can find it packaged in the baking section or in a bulk bin in stores that carry bulk ingredients. If I have the time, I make my own coconut chunks like the ones in the photo. Directions for making coconut chunks are in the accompanying post.

When I told my family that I had perfected my trail mix recipe and was going to make a batch for photography, I was inundated with requests – use walnuts, use pecans, add dried cherries, don’t use coconut, use peanut M&Ms! Apparently everyone has his or her own idea of the perfect trail mix. Substitute ingredients to fit your personal tastes.

Trail mix is designed to be a high energy (high calorie) food for hiking or other strenuous activities. If you’ll also be sweating during your activity, use salted nuts to help maintain your salt level. Eat trail mix sparingly unless you are active. Don’t make up a gallon ziplock bag of trail mix and munch your way through it on your next cross country car trip!

Trail Mix

Ingredients

  • one 15 oz. bag dark chocolate M&Ms
  • 3/4 cup roasted, salted cashews
  • 3/4 cup Sunmaid jumbo raisins
  • 3/4 cup coconut chunks
  1. If dried fruit is very moist or sticky, place on tray to dry for 2 or 3 days or dry in 200 degree oven for 30 minutes. If fruit is too moist, it will melt the coating on the candy.
  2. Prepare coconut chunks according to accompanying recipe.
  3. Mix all ingredients in large container.

Here are some substitution suggestions:

M&Ms – milk chocolate M&Ms, peanut M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces. Candy coating keeps chocolate from melting in warm weather. In cool weather you can use chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips.

Cashews – peanuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds. Nuts and seeds can be raw or roasted. Use roasted, salted nuts if weather is hot (salted nuts don’t come unroasted).

Raisins – dried apricot pieces, dried raisins, dates, dried apples, dried pineapple. Any bite-sized dried fruit will work. Dried cranberries (cran-raisins) and dried blueberries are good but a little small for my trail mix.

Coconut chunks – large flaked coconut, banana chips.

 

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Haupia

by Nancy on August 23, 2011

in Desserts,Snacks

Aloha! Carrie and I are in Hawaii so, of course, we have to feature a Hawaiian food this week. Haupia is a coconut milk pudding that is served at luaus and social gatherings. I first had haupia 30 years ago at a picnic on the Big Island hosted by some colleagues who had lived and worked there for several years. I even got the recipe!

Haupia is referred to a pudding in most recipes. It is similar to Vanilla Pudding that we published a few weeks ago. Coconut milk replaces at least half of the milk, in this recipe it replaces all of the milk but you could use up to half milk. Haupia should be stiff enough to be picked up and eaten as a finger food. This is accomplished by doubling the cornstarch. Haupia was originally made with pia – arrowroot starch – and you could use that instead of cornstarch in the same portion. Keep servings small, coconut milk is a laxative in large quantities.

Coconut milk is not the liquid in the center of a coconut, that is coconut water. The milk is made by grating coconut meat, mixing it (either fresh or dried) with equal parts boiling water, letting it sit 20 minutes and then draining. The liquid you drain off will be white and is the coconut milk you use. You can make it yourself and I have but the quality and flavor varies a lot. It’s better (and easier) to just buy coconut milk in a can if your grocery store carries it. Look in the Asian section.

Haupia is traditionally served on a section of ti leaf. I don’t have ti leaves available so I decided to use an origami leaf instead. Finding a pattern for the leaf was easy. A quick internet search turned up both written and video instructions for how to make this leaf. Finding the right paper took longer. I wanted green paper that would stand up to the moisture in the haupia square and be stiff enough so that you could pick the leaf up off of a serving tray. I finally settled on opalescent origami paper which has a somewhat water resistant coating on it.

Haupia

25 servings

Ingredients

  • 2   13.5 ounce cans of coconut milk or 1 can coconut milk and 1 can milk
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • coconut (optional)
  1. In heavy bottomed 1 1/2 quart saucepan, mix cornstarch, sugar and salt thoroughly.
  2. Add 1/2 cup water and stir to make a paste.
  3. Add milk and stir.
  4. Place on medium high heat and bring to a boil stirring constantly especially as the mixture nears the boiling point. Use a spatula so that you scrape the bottom as you stir. The mixture will thicken on the bottom of the pan first and will be lumpy if not stirred well.
  5. Remove from heat when first bubbles from boiling appear.
  6. Pour into 9″ square pan. Top with coconut flakes if desired. Chill. Cut into 5 sections each way.

 

 

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Oat Date Muffins

by Nancy on July 12, 2011

in Breads,Snacks,Vegetarian

About 25 years ago I occasionally worked in southern California, inland near the Salton Sea. On one trip the group I was with stopped for a travel break at Hadley Dates on I-10 near Indio. It was a small run-down building used as a packing house with a gravel parking lot for a half dozen cars. There were about 20 women stationed along 2 conveyor belts sorting and packing dates. On a counter were samples for us to taste and a few items for sale like boxes of dates and mixed dried fruit trays like you see at Christmas. I vividly remember two things about this stop. First, I tasted my first Medjool date. It was the perfect eating date – large, soft, and sweet. Second, one of the products for sale was date sugar. I’d never heard of date sugar. It is just very dry dates ground to a powder and used like sugar. I purchased two items that day, a box of Medjool dates and a pound of date sugar.

With date sugar in my cupboard, I now had to decide how to use it and eventually came up with a recipe for oat date muffins. These are what I call traditional muffins. They are barely sweet muffins that are more like bread and designed to eat with a meal. They aren’t sweet like Costco muffins that are more akin to cake. Not that I don’t like Costco muffins, they’re just a different type of food. My first attempt came out dry so I wanted to add some oatmeal to make them moister. They were still dry so I decided I needed oat flour. I ended up grinding oatmeal into flour in my blender. When I later ran out of date sugar I had to grind dates into sugar too. The process was a lot of work so I didn’t made oat date muffins very often.

Recently while looking for some other ingredients I discovered that Bob’s Red Mill made both oat flour and date sugar and if I couldn’t find them locally where Bob’s Red Mill products are sold I could mail order them. Oat date muffins are now back in my menus!

PS – Last winter I was down in the southern California desert again and wanted to see if Hadley Dates was still there. I really expected that it would be gone or, because it was so small, I would miss it. Not the case! Hadley Dates has expanded into a tourist stop complete with freeway sign, large sales room, snack shop serving date shakes and enough parking for tour buses. Unfortunately the packing operations which were my favorite part have been moved.

PSS – A couple of weeks after I mentioned to Carrie that I found oat flour and date sugar at Bob’s Red Mill, she was attending the BlogHer Food conference where Bob’s Red Mill had a display. The people at Bob’s Red Mill graciously sent us samples of some of their products so we will be mentioning Bob’s Red Mill, using Bob’s Red Mill products, and thanking them for samples in some of our upcoming recipes. Thank you to Bob’s Red Mill!

Oat Date Muffins

Makes 12.

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill oat flour
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill date sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  1. With spoon, mix dry ingredients.
  2. Add wet ingredients and mix just until blended.
  3. Grease muffin tin if not using paper liners. Spoon mixture into muffin cups.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

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Vanilla Pudding

by Nancy on May 31, 2011

in Desserts,Snacks

Here we have three different flavors of pudding: chocolate with chocolate chips, butterscotch with toffee bits and vanilla with toasted coconut. So you would think that I would use three different recipes, right? I actually use the same basic recipe for all three! Only slight changes to the recipe change the flavor and other slight variations change this into pie filling, like a nice coconut cream or banana cream, or into frozen pudding pops. I’m just going to talk about pudding here, I’ll post about cream pies and pudding pops in the summer.

This pudding has only three basic ingredients: milk, cornstarch and sugar. Starch thickens the milk and sugar adds sweetness. You can vary the milk substituting whole, lowfat or nonfat milk, soy milk or almond milk. You can vary the sugar: white sugar makes vanilla pudding and brown sugar makes butterscotch pudding. You could even vary the starch using something like arrowroot starch. I haven’t tried this but if someone in your family is allergy to corn you might want to. You would have to play with the ratio of starch to milk to get a nice consistency.

Once you have your basic pudding, you can flavor it or add other ingredients. I always add salt and vanilla both tastes are “expected” and you don’t hardly notice them – unless they aren’t there. You might also want to add some extract: wild cherry with vanilla or butter rum with butterscotch, or food coloring. Finally, you might want to stir in a special ingredient at the end: sliced bananas for banana cream or coconut for coconut cream. And I always add a topping! It tastes better if it look appealing.

Basic Vanilla Pudding

  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 5 cups milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. In heavy bottomed 1 1/2 quart saucepan, mix cornstarch, sugar and salt thoroughly.
  2. Add 1/2 cup milk and stir to make a paste.
  3. Add remainder of milk and stir.
  4. Place on medium high heat and bring to a boil stirring constantly especially as the mixture nears the boiling point. Use a spatula so that you scrape the bottom as you stir. The mixture will thicken on the bottom of the pan first and will be lumpy if not stirred well.
  5. Remove from heat when first bubbles from boiling appear.
  6. Stir in vanilla and pour into custard cups or dessert bowls.

I’m putting the variations for chocolate and butterscotch puddings in their own posts so they index. Here are the links:

Chocolate Pudding

Butterscotch Pudding

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