Monday, November 30, 2009

Favorite Cranberry Bread and (modified) Sausage and Pumpkin Pasta

I fully admit to slacking in the blogging department and am trying to get back into the habit. At the moment I find things complicated by an almost 2-yr. old taking up what's left of my lap (which is not much, considering that Sunday marked 32 weeks into this pregnancy) as she is attempting to write her favorite letters: D-Daddy, E-Eileigh, B-Boone, M-Mama, P-Papa, G-Gramma and the occasional K-Kitty or other letter she can think of at this point in time. (I should clarify that this is exactly how her letters are stated, i.e., "D, Daddy" is the letter's full title and description). During these writing attempts she frequently leans over my arm to reach various other writing utensils or objects of interest and thereby further complicates my typing attempts. I wouldn't trade it for the world- but will have to remember in the future to blog when she is occupied elsewhere (as in, fast asleep in her bed).
Thanksgiving was spent in Washington at Mike's parents' house and we had a great time catching up and relaxing. Thanksgiving dinner was a feast to be sure and I enjoyed every bit of it, including the leftovers. Sometimes I think I love Thanksgiving more because of the great leftovers and fasba (a Mennonite low German term for coffee and sandwiches but applied by our family to specifically mean dinner rolls stuffed with leftover meat and cheese and slathered with mayo and mustard). Although I did not get to indulge in the fasba tradition this year I did come home with some leftover turkey and decided to tweak a new recipe I've been wanting to try and use turkey instead of the sausage the recipe called for. I spent a good amount of time last week roasting pumpkin seeds and cooking and baking our garden's Halloween pumpkins into "canned" pumpkin which I was able to use for this recipe as well. It turned out quite tasty- even my non-pumpkin-loving husband enjoyed it.

Sausage (or Turkey), Pumpkin and Mushroom Pasta

2 cups uncooked multigrain bow tie pasta
1/2 pound Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed (or substitute leftover turkey)
1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup white wine or additional reduced-sodium chicken broth (I used white wine- Riesling- and really think it made for great flavor!)
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook the sausage, mushrooms, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the chicken broth, pumpkin, wine, sage, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  • Drain pasta; add to the skillet and heat through. Just before serving, sprinkle with cheese and parsley.
I also wanted to share my recipe for Cranberry Bread- I'd baked a loaf since I had fresh cranberries on hand and then brought it with us to WA. So far it's been deemed a winner by all who partake! I know I love it. I've also made it with apple juice instead of orange juice and omitted the orange peel so Eileigh can enjoy it but personally I like it best with the hint of orange flavoring. Don't forget to add the glaze- that's Mike's favorite part. :)

Favorite Cranberry Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup cold butter
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cold butter

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons orange juice
  • In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients; cut in butter until crumbly. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, orange juice and peel. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in cranberries and raisins. Transfer to a greased 8-in x 4-in. loaf pan.
  • Combine brown sugar and flour; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • For glaze, combine confectioners' sugar and orange juice until smooth. Drizzle over bread.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Today Mike had a wild hair to pack us up and head off to the mountains for a nice little day trip. He was pretty excited and of course his girls love to be wherever he may be so we got ready (as fast as two girls can) and saddled up. Eileigh commandeered Selah's new carseat so we didn't have to switch hers from my car to the truck. Our main goals were to have fun enjoying each other's company, find some snow and be able to see some of the key areas Mike haunts during hunting season(s). In honor of an old tradition (from my childhood, of course) we agreed that whoever spotted the first deer/elk gets $0.25. I think with inflation this price should definitely have increased over time but we decided to stick with the historical precedence. Having spotted the first and only deer (a tiny buck) I now wish I had opted for the increased rate but so it goes. Eileigh did great, loving the bumps and contentedly munching on rice cakes and apples while I on the other hand had to have Mike stop the truck just about every few feet due to the vicious combination of rutted roads, a 30-wk. pregnant swollen belly, and sadly abused little bladder. I determined not too far into the start of the trip that I would not voluntarily be making any more such trips until after the baby is born.
When we got to the snow Eileigh excitedly walked around, occasionally touching it but mostly checking out her snow-covered boots and saying "Walkin'." Recently everything ending in "-ing" gets the "g" dropped: walkin', dancin', singin', Mornin'!!- her favorite greeting as of late. We all had a great time taking pictures and enjoying the crisp peacefulness of the snow-covered woods.

Treats, no tricks!!

She didn't say "trick or treat" but she would say "knock-knock"

Check out Eileigh's name in the pumpkin- we carved it with a nail when it was just a little gourd (are pumpkins gourds?) and the name grew bigger with the pumpkin!! Courtesy of our garden.

Boone had this look on his face a few times throughout the night... cutest spider ever.

Just to clarify: Eileigh was a flower. :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Eats

Last night everyone minus my youngest sister Emily (who had to work night shift) came over to our house to enjoy a little get-together before heading out to a few of the neighbors' houses for some laid-back trick-or-treating. Hopefully I will have some pictures to post soon of the kids in their outfits- until then I will share a few recipes we utilized to make the evening's meal frighteningly delicious. :) The Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili I've made before and liked it even better this time around (throwing in a few of my own twists) and my mom made a big batch of Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls that not only went great with the chili but also make for a great breakfast the next day!!! (and snack... and lunch...).

Black Bean 'n' Pumpkin Chili (Crockpot)

1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped (I used a red bell pepper this time, just as good)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chicken broth
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained (this time was 1 can black beans, 1 can kidney beans)
2-1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey (this could be any meat, really- I used leftover pork from making Spicy Carolina BBQ Pork and leftover chicken from making homemade chicken broth- I think the spicy pork really made the dish- I'll add the recipe on at the bottom of this post)
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet, saute the onion, yellow pepper and garlic in oil until tender. Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker; stir in the remaining ingredients.
Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until heated through. Yield: 10 servings (2-1/2 quarts).

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
4 eggs
1 cup shortening
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
1/3 cup instant butterscotch pudding mix
1 teaspoon salt
7 to 8 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the eggs, shortening, pumpkin, milk, sugars, pudding mixes, salt and 6 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down; divide in half. Roll each portion into a 12-in. x 8-in. rectangle; brush with butter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough to within 1/2 in. of edges.
Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seams to seal. Cut each into 12 slices. Place cut side down in two greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 350° for 22-28 minutes or until golden brown. In a small bowl, combine the water, butter and cinnamon. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth. Spread over buns. Serve warm. Yield: 2 dozen.

Spicy Carolina BBQ Pork (Crockpot)

2 onions, quartered
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 (4-6lb.) boneless pork butt or shoulder roast
3/4 c. cider vinegar
4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1-1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Hamburger buns

Place onions in crockpot. Combine the brown sugar, paprika, salt and pepper and rub mixture over roast. Place roast in crockpot. In a bowl, combine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, sugar, mustard, garlic salt and cayenne pepper. Mix well. Drizzle 1/2 of vinegar mixture over the roast. Cover and refrigerate remaining vinegar mixture. Cover; cook on Low for 10 hrs. or High 6 hrs. Remove the meat and onions and drain. Shred meat and serve with onions on hamburger buns. Use the remaining vinegar mixture to drizzle over the sandwiches.