Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread

GUYS!  Guess what?  I made up a baked good!  What, you're not in total awe of my mad skillz? Whatever, I am, and that's good enough.  See, I'm decent at improvising with regular cooking, but baking - not so much.  Once, I subbed PB chips for chocolate chips, but other than that, baking for me is strictly a follow what other people have done endeavor.  Mostly because science.  Baked goods rise and hold their shape and taste good because there is a lot of science behind it; regular food tastes good if you put things together that aren't nasty.

But, I had all this pumpkin cream cheese leftover from the bacon poppers and it needed using.  I don't love sweet cream cheese on my bagels, so that was out.  So, I thought, well maybe I can make some kind of bread with this, like a banana or applesauce bread, but with pumpkin cream cheese.  So, I looked at a couple of similar recipes (it's easier to see how to make it if you look at a recipe as ratios of wet to dry ingredients, instead of amounts of specific things - according to something I Googled), and had at it.  I figured it was a low risk project, because I already had everything I need, and didn't really have another plan for it.  And low and behold, a delicious bread was born.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread - A Cooking with Milton Original




2 Cups Pumpkin Cream Cheese
1 Cup Sugar 
2 Eggs 
1 Teaspoon Vanilla 
3 Cups Flour 
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda 
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon 
1/4 Teaspoon Each Nutmeg, Cloves, and Allspice 

Pre-heat the oven to 350.  Grease a loaf pan well and set it aside. 

In a large mixing bowl, add the pumpkin cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Blend until combined and smooth. 

Then, add the flour, baking soda, and spices.  Blend until just combined - I find the best way to do this is to use the mixer for the first part, then when you scrape down the sides, just stir the rest of it with a spoon.  Try not to over mix, as it can make your bread kind of tough. 

Bake at 350 for 45 min to an hour (I don't think my oven is particularly accurate, because mine always seems to take FOREVER).  It's done when you can stick a fork in it and have the fork come out clean. 

Serve toasted with apple butter.  




Question of the Day?:

Have you ever done any experimental baking?  How did it turn out?  


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Apple Butter - The Leftovers Club

Hi, everyone!  Are you enjoying your fall?  We are.  Milton loves fall because it's finally cool enough for his permanent fur coat to come in handy.  I love it because it's time for apple picking.  When I first moved to New England and people talked about how fun apple picking is, I may have thought they were being a little crazy.  I mean, you walk around and take apples off a tree - seems pleasant enough, but this isn't major excitement.  Except it is; I'm not sure why, but apple picking is super fun.

However, there is a small downside - all the apples.  I think I ended up with about 10 pounds.  That's a lot of freakin apples.  So, since I knew I wasn't going to eat them straight up for the next 10 years, I decided to make apple butter.  If you've never had apple butter, you're missing out.  Basically, it's super concentrated apple sauce that you can spread on french toast, bread, rice cakes, a spoon, etc.  It's so easy to make I almost feel silly posting a recipe about it - the general premise is cook the ever loving crap out of some apples and spices.  Puree.  Shove in face.

I sent a jar of this to Shashi at Runnin Srilankan for this month's Leftovers Club.  She sent me some really tasty cookies that have beets in them.  Obviously, since they have a vegetable in them, that makes them a health food.  Put some apple butter on top and it's basically a complete meal.  If you join the leftovers club, you get food treats from your new internet friends in the mail once a month. It's awesome and you should definitely sign up. 




Crock Pot Apple Butter: 




Enough apples to fill your crock pot, peeled and sliced (I used about 20)
1 Cup Sugar (there are many recipes that call for substantially more sugar.  Since I don't love overly sweet things, I tend towards the low side, but if you have a sweet tooth, use more.  It's just a matter of personal preference) 
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Cloves 
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg 
1/4 Teaspoon Salt 

The hardest part of this is peeling and cutting the apples.  Don't worry too much about the cutting part, you're just going to cook them until the fall apart anyways, but do try hard to peel them very carefully; it really helps with the texture. 

Once you've finished peeling and cutting, dump everything into the crock pot and turn it on high.  If you're home, check on it periodically and give it a stir, but if you leave it while you're at work it will still be fine. 

After it starts to really fall apart (7 hours or so), prop the lid open so that some of the moisture can evaporate.  Once it's a little thicker (about another 2 hours), take the lid off, turn the crock pot off, and let it sit.  Please note that this is just what my particular crock pot did - yours might be completely different.  

When it's a bit cooler, blend with an immersion blender.  If you don't have one, you can use a regular blender, just do small batches and be extremely careful.  It's really hot. 





Put into jars.  If you're planning to eat it all within the next couple of weeks, there's no need to boil the jars to seal them, it will stay fresh.  However, if you'd like to keep it around for months, feel free to actually can it (which I didn't do because putting glass into boiling water scares the crap out of me). 

This goes really well on all kinds of treats.  I made some pumpkin cream cheese bread the other day and put this on top.  Then, the fall gods came and asked me to join them as their leader.   




Check out what my friends made!!