Nov 24, 2012

Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin. It's fall again. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin dessert, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin soup. So many tasty variations. And now pumpkin bars. Mmmmmmm. These are moist and rich and yummy. And the cream cheese frosting doesn't hurt either. I could eat the frosting by itself. This recipe, slightly modified, comes from Paula Deen via Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (can substitute 1/2 cup applesauce for 1/2 cup oil; I did this and was very happy with the result)
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 13 by 10-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.

To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.

Nov 21, 2012

Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie has always been one of my favorites. A true classic. A piece of slightly warm pie with a dollop of whip cream is comfort food at its best. And for me, one of the best recipes for pumpkin pie is the one on the can (Libby's). I don't know why more people don't use it. It always comes out just right.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs
1 can (29 ounces) Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin
2 cans (12 ounces each) evaporated milk
2 unbaked 9-inch deep dish pie shells

Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a small bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shells. Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. serve immediately or refrigerate.

Nov 18, 2012

Baked French Toast

I tried this Baked French Toast recipe this morning and found myself in breakfast heaven! So delicious! And this would be great to serve to a larger group because you could make it ahead. Instead of cooking over a skillet, you could just pull this out of the oven and serve it, thereby giving you more time to chat with your guests. This breakfast dish is wonderful as is, but I intend to experiment with different breads and maybe trying to incorporate fruit into the French toast prior to baking. This recipe, slightly modified, comes from The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

1 loaf crusty sourdough or French bread (I actually used a loaf of "cinnamon burst" bread from Great Harvest Bakery, which was great, but I'm sure a variety of breads would work)
8 whole eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
Fresh fruit, such as peaches or blueberries, to serve with the French toast after it has baked

Grease the baking pan with butter. Tear the bread into chunks, or cut into cubes, and evenly distribute in the pan. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover the pan tightly and keep in the fridge for several hours (overnight preferably). Or you can make it and bake it right away---delicious no matter what!

For the topping, mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and a pinch of nutmeg in a separate bowl. Stir together using a fork. Add the butter and, with a pastry cutter, mix it all together until the mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

When you're ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the casserole from the fridge and sprinkle the topping over the top. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture, or for 1 hour-plus or more for a firmer, crisper texture. Scoop out individual portions. Drizzle with warm pancake syrup and sprinkle with fresh fruit such as peaches or blueberries.