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.


  • 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.


{ 1 comment }

Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

by Nancy on October 25, 2011

in Main Dish,Soups

It turned cold and rainy here this week so I made a big pot of chicken noodle soup. I could cut the recipe down but I freeze the leftovers in 2 cup (single serving) microwaveable containers. I can pull one out of the freezer and heat it for a quick lunch later.

Like all of my soups, this one takes less than an hour to make from start to bowl. I like my vegetables to be firm and the individual flavors of the ingredients to be discernable. Long cooking times probably destroy some of the vitamins and minerals in the ingredients too.

You can easily substitute meats in this recipe. Cooked chicken or turkey from that holiday bird coming up work well. I’ve occasionally made this with beef and then substituted beef bouillon for the chicken bouillon also.

The noodles are added just before serving and boiled for 10 minutes or as recommended on package. They absorb liquid as they cook and will double in size. If you put leftover soup in the refrigerator the noodles will continue to grow to about  3 times their original size. They still taste good but there won’t be much broth left in the dish. You may want to add more chicken bouillon prepared according to package directions.

Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

Makes 4 quarts.


  • 4 cups chicken in 1″ slices
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 cup celery coursely diced
  • 2 cups baby carrots or sliced carrots
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes or 4 tablespoons chicken bouillon base
  • 5 small bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 ounces wide noodles
  1. In 4 quart pot saute chicken and onion in olive oil.
  2. Add remainder of ingredients except noodles and simmer until carrots are tender.
  3. Ten to fifteen minutes before serving add noodles and boil 10 minutes.


Seed Bread

by Nancy on September 13, 2011

in Breads

A local bakery that supplies artisan bread to local Safeways use to make a Sweet Three Seed Bread. It was one of my favorite breads but the line was cut back and this was one of the breads that Safeway doesn’t carry anymore. I miss this bread. It has such a wonderful flavor and aroma when toasted. It’s like the peanut butter (or sunflower butter) is built right in. I like to make bread so I decided to develop my own Seed Bread recipe.

I do a couple of things to tweak the flavor to my liking. First, I use peanut oil instead of vegetable oil to add more nut flavor. Peanut oil has a definite peanut flavor. Second, I use malted barley flour to give an “earthy” flavor. Malted barley flour is made from the same malted barley used in malted milk balls and beer so you get a malted/beer flavor. Malted barley functions as a sugar (it’s sweet) and you can use it to replace part or all of the sugar normally found in a bread recipe.

You can use any mix of seeds that you like. As a rule of thumb, I use 2 tablespoons of each small seed and 1/4 cup of each large seed (twice as much as small seeds) for four cups of flour.

I always toast this bread to bring out the flavor of the seeds. It’s perfect for a toasted cheese sandwich. It slices nicer when it is a day or two old.

Collecting all of the ingredients for this recipe can be a challenge. Bob’s Red Mill is an excellent source carrying all of the hard-to-find ingredients – malted barley flour, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. We’d like to thank Bob’s Red Mill for providing those ingredients.

Seed Bread

Makes two 4″ x 8″ loaves or three 3″ x 7″ loaves.


  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons malted barley flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  1. Microwave milk for 1 minute. This heats up the milk so the yeast will grow faster. You should be able to hold your finger in the milk indefinitely or it is too hot and will kill the yeast. Let it cool if it is too hot.
  2. Pour milk in bowl. Add all other ingredients except egg, seeds and bread flour. Mix.
  3. Wait 5 minutes. You should see froth or bubbles forming in the milk. The yeast is starting to grow. If the yeast is not growing, wait 5 more minutes. If it is still not growing, the milk was probably too hot and killed the yeast. If so, add another tablespoon or package of yeast and wait until it starts to grow. This is called proofing the yeast. You are proofing or proving that the yeast will grow.
  4. Add egg and 3 cups of flour. Mix.
  5. If you are using a machine to knead the dough, add more flour until the dough forms a mass around the dough hook and does not stick to the sides of the bowl. If kneading by hand, pour on floured counter and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky, is smooth and begins to “pop back” as you knead it.
  6. Divide dough in halves or thirds. Place each in a greased pan. Press it out to the edges of the pan with floured fingers
  7. Let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes depending on the temperature of your kitchen. If you are in a hurry or your kitchen is cold, heat oven to lowest temperature possible. Turn oven off, place kuchen in oven and let rise there (remove from oven before heating oven to baking temperature).
  8. Bake at 375 degrees 35-40 minutes.





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.


25 servings


  • 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.




There are a whole range of grains that have been and can be used as food but are not commonly consumed in the US. Barley is one of those grains. Historically is was grown worldwide but was especially important in northern climates with short growing seasons (such as Iceland) as it doesn’t need a lot of heat to grow. Today it is grown in the US but nearly all of the production goes into animal feed and malted barley for beer making.

Last March my son, Scott, and I went to a convention and did some touring in Iceland. The hotel restaurant served a barley dish for breakfast. It was right next to skyr, a traditional Icelandic yogurt/cheese, and served in the same style container but I never determined if this breakfast barley was considered a traditional dish or not (like several places we visited in Iceland, the staff was seasonal help from elsewhere in Europe and didn’t know). It was the first time I remember eating barley other than those little bits in Campbell’s vegetable beef soup.

The only real challenge to this recipe was finding a source for barley and learning how to cook it. This recipe uses whole grain barley which may also called hulled or hulless barley depending on the variety grown. I can buy barley at my local natural foods store in the bulk bin section. It is also available by mail order from Bob’s Red Mill. Whole grain barley takes a long time to cook and is always chewy even when fully cooked.

We’d like to thank Bob’s Red Mill for providing the barley, dried apples and black currants for this recipe.

Icelandic Breakfast Barley

four 1 cup servings


  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill hulless barley
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon butter or margarine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill diced, dried apples
  • 1/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill black currants
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel (optional)
  1. Place barley, water, butter or margarine, and salt in a 2 quart saucepan for stove top or 3 quart bowl for microwave. (The butter or margarine keeps the water when mixed with small amounts of starch from the grain from boiling over.) Cover. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 90 minutes. Ideally all of the water should just be absorbed as the barley finishes cooking. Check near the end of cooking time and add boiling water if the barley is too dry or remove the lid if the barley is too wet. When cooking barley in the future, adjust water and/or cooking time as needed.
  2. While still hot, stir in dried apples, currants, honey and cinnamon. If there is a layer of starch on top of the barley when cooking it in the microwave, just stir it in with the apples and currants. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve hot or cold.