What is a pumpkin’s favorite sport?

Squash.

I woke this morning to the sun shining through my window and a chill in my bedroom. Snuggle weather has officially arrived. The temperature being just cold enough to make me not want to get out of my tangled of blankets makes me crave pumpkin.

Pumpkin is one of my favorite foods. It is absolutely wonderful and I love it. When I was in New Zealand, I used it almost every week in my cooking and baking. I might also have used it so much because it was in season, cheap at the farmer’s market, and I was a poor master’s student. In any case, it only made my love for the delectable squash grow.

Also on beautiful chilly New England days, all I want to do is make bread. A wonderful, warm, crunchy, crusty bread. So, I scoured the internet in search of a recipe that would fulfill that need.

And boy, did I.

The original recipe was for a cranberry walnut pumpkin bread, but I’ve changed a few things, as is my wont. For starters, I swapped out walnuts and tagged in pecans. There’s just something about the pecan and pumpkin combination. It’s warm, it’s hearty, it’s rich. In addition to the change in nut, I also used fresh cranberries instead of dried, honey instead of sugar, and substituted 1 1/2 cups of white flour with whole wheat. We’re trying to be a bit healthy with our indulgences.

This bread is hearty, crusty, crunchy. It is absolutely fabulous toasted with butter and honey. (which is how I recommend you eat it). I bet it would be delicious with pumpkin butter, or jelly. Enjoy!

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The original recipe comes from thekitchn.com. They have some wonderful stuff over there. You should check them out.

Pumpkin, Pecan, and Cranberry Bread

Ingredients

1/2 cup pecans, chopped
3/4 cup fresh cranberries, sliced or roughly chopped
1 cup water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

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Method

  1. Combine the water and yeast in a large mixing bowl and let sit for a few minutes for the yeast to dissolve. Stir in the pumpkin puree, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Add 3 1/2 cups of flour to form a loose batter.
  2. Add the cranberries, pecans, and 1/2 cup additional flour to the dough. Use your hands to squeeze the dough and work in the additional ingredients. The dough will be very sticky and loose. Scrape as much dough from your hands as you can, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for at least 2 hours in a warm place. I used the microwave.  The dough should double in bulk during this time.
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  3. Once risen, but before shaping your dough, heat the oven to 450°F. If you have a baking stone, set it in the oven now. If not, set a baking sheet in the oven to preheat.
  4. Sprinkle your work surface generously with flour and turn the dough out on top. (If making two loaves or rolls, divide the dough now and shape each loaf or roll as follows.) With floured hands, fold the dough in half toward you so the un-floured surface is sealed inside and the outside is coated in flour. If the outside is still sticky, rub it gently with a little more flour.
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  5. When ready to bake, slide the dough onto the baking stone or the back of another baking sheet. (If cooking on a baking sheet, remove the sheet from the oven and quickly lift the bread on top.) Cut a few slash-marks in the top of the loaf with a serrated knife.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is golden-brown and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.
  7. Cool completely before slicing. I was impatient. But, it’s worth the wait. Let it cool.
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What is the worst kind of jam?

oh hot damnIt seems as though we’ve fallen into Summer weather again with today’s muggy soup. This makes me long for summer fruits like mango and papaya. I bought a TON of each over the summer, when they were in season. Not in season in CT, of course, so unfortunately they weren’t locally grown, but alas. I adore mango too much to pass up. It is probably one of my all time favorite fruits.

At the time of purchase, I couldn’t recall if I liked papaya or not. So, I bought 2 (they were on sale) as an experiment. Turns out…papaya is not my favorite fruit. I ate some, but I just couldn’t do it. It was sweet, but had a bit of a bitter bite. Maybe my papaya just wasn’t ripe enough. Maybe my palate just wasn’t feeling it. Maybe because it isn’t grown locally, it wasn’t quite right. Whatever the reason, I didn’t want to eat the fruit as it was and I racked my brain with what I could do so it wouldn’t go to waste.100_1824

I’ve been on a canning kick lately. We made plum jam, plum jelly, and sweet pickles. So, I turned to jam. Technically, jam is a thick mixture of diced fruit (usually with the skin), pectin, and sugar that is boiled gently but quickly. This makes the fruit soft, but keeps it’s general shape and creates a spread that is thick enough to spread easily, but still holds its shape. It has chunks and texture and makes your eating experience exciting. Jams are handy for making fillings for pies, tarts, etc., as well as spreading on toast or pancakes or whatever you can dream up.

Jellies, on the other hand, are made from sugar, pectin, acid, and fruit juice and is a clear spread that is firm enough to hold its shape. It’s smooth, it’s sweet, it’s classic. Toast and jelly. Peanut butter and jelly. You can’t go wrong.

I wanted all of the fruit to be in what I made, so I opted for Jam. I peeled the skin from the papaya, threw everything into a pot, and boiled away. It was fun, it came out a beautiful yellow orange color, and tastes great. For whatever reason, my first batch didn’t set properly, so it’s a very thick syrup. This is great over ice cream. But, my second batch, which I did exactly the same but on a different day, came out perfect and is delicious over toast. Jams and jellies can be finicky. Don’t give up! Just keep trying.

If you find yourself with an excess of papayas, keep this recipe in mind.

And yes, I do realize that it has a fair amount of sugar in it. I balked at that, too. However, I would like to point out that this is a MODEST amount of sugar. Most recipes call for upwards of 5 cups. I guess that’s why jams and jellies are such a treat. And why you only spread a little bit over your toast or other jam vehicle. This will have to do until I can come up with a viable alternative.

Spiced Papaya Mango Jam
adapted from mydiversekitchen.com

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Ingredients:

5 cups diced papaya, peeled and seeds removed
2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup diced mango
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1 package Certo

Method:

  1. Prepare your canning jars by cleaning and sterilizing both the jars and the tops. Make sure they are completely dry before you fill them with your jam. Set aside until you are ready to use them.100_1828
  2. Prepare a large pot, filled with water, for processing the canned jam. This can be done in a large lobster pot, or something similar. Keep the water warm. When processing time comes, it must be boiling.
  3. Now, to make the jam: In a deep and heavy bottomed pan, put the papaya, mango, sugar, salt, and chili flakes and bring to a boil. The boil must be continuous. This means that it continues to bubble despite stirring. I would also caution that you use a wooden spoon at this point. Anything plastic will melt because the mixture gets so hot.  Also be aware of splash back. It stings a bit.
  4. Once a rolling boil is reached, turn down the heat, and let the papaya mixture thicken while stirring, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in one package of Certo. Stir for 5 minutes.
  6. Fill each of the clean jars with a portion of jam. My rule of thumb it to go until it is an inch to an inch and a half from the top of the jar.
  7. Wipe the rims of the jars clean, and place on the tops. Twist tightly to close. 100_1831100_1833
  8. Carefully place each lidded jar into the prepared water bath. Process the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes.100_1835
  9. Remove the jars from the water bath and allow to cool. After 24 hours, press the lids on each jar to check that the jars have sealed. This means that the lid should NOT flex up and down when it is pressed.
  10. Enjoy on toast, ice cream, biscuits, or whatever else you can dream up.

How does Darth Vader like his toast?

Oh hello!

Today’s post includes 2 of my all-time favorite things. Here’s the first…get ready to get your groan on! It’s time for some PUN.

I Can't Believe It's Not Midi-chlorians!

Man I crack myself up. And admit it, you’re smiling too.

Now for the recipe. “Is it toast?” you ask.Well, of course! But not just any toast…it’s Avocado Toast! It’s simple. It’s delicious. You might well be saying, “but Miss Molly…this is hardly groundbreaking!” You’re right, dear reader, and thank you for flattering me. But, often the simple things are overlooked and sometimes that simplicity is all you need in the morning.

I love avocado toast for breakfast, or lunch, or a post-workout snack. It has everything. It’s creamy,  a tad sweet, a smidge acidic,  spicy, and crunchy. It’s healthy, yet feels indulgent. And who doesn’t love avocados?! Especially now that they’re in season. Mmmmmmm. So good. I could eat them with a spoon.

Without further ado…I give you–Avocado Toast!

This recipe serves 1, and the nutrition info reflects that. Of course, I just used a regular Thomas’ English Muffin (sandwich size). But, if you use something healthier, that will change the info. This recipe also works with any other kind of bread, which goes without saying. Of course, the method remains the same. :) Happy toasting.

Ingredients:

1/2 ripe avocado (should be a bit squishy to the touch)
1 English muffin1 Roma tomato
2-2 1/2 tsp chia seeds
1-2 tsp Sriracha
1 lemon wedge (optional)

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Method:

1. Ingredients assemble! Or, gather ingredients.
2. Separate English muffin halves. Place in the toaster, and toast to desired done-ness. I like mine crispy and crunchy, but not too far on the dark side.
3. While the muffin is toasting, cut the avocado in half. Run a knife down the half without the pit, essentially making quarters. Slice up the tomato, about 3 little slices per side of bread.
4. Once toasty perfection has been reached, remove the toast from the toaster and place on a plate. Spread one quarter of the avocado on each side of your toast. Spread it evenly over the toast. Sprinkle with lemon juice. (You can also sprinkle the unused half of avocado with lemon juice, cover and place it in the fridge. The lemon juice will keep it from turning brown.)
5. Sprinkle the chia seeds evenly over each side of the toast.
6. Arrange tomato slices on top of the chia seeds.
7. Drizzle Sriracha on top of the toast.
8. Munch. Crunch. Savor.

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Let me know what you think!
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Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 355 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories

388
Calories from Fat

194
% Daily Value*
Total Fat

21.6g
33%
Saturated Fat

3.2g
16%
Trans Fat

0.0g
Cholesterol

3mg
1%
Sodium

303mg
13%
Total Carbohydrates

45.6g
15%
Dietary Fiber

12.8g
51%
Sugars

8.0g
Protein

10.3g
Vitamin A 4% Vitamin C 119%
Calcium 15% Iron 41%
Nutrition Grade A
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet