Monday, October 18, 2010

Kitchen Adventures-Pumpkin Bread

With the cooler weather upon us and the fall parade of colors in full swing, I've begun my annual ritual of baking fall goodies. I don't know what it is about this time of year that makes me want to get in the kitchen and whip up cookies, pies, breads applesauce, etc. Maybe it's the rapidly approaching holiday season (yikes! lets not go there yet!) or maybe I'm trying to store up the extra poundage for hibernation, er, winter. I just don't think the Harvest time of year can be properly celebrated without a baked good or two full of pumpkin. Now my favorite pumpkin dessert of all time is my mother's pumpkin roll. Nothin' says lovin' like Momma's pumpkin rolls from the oven! Second would be just a classic pumpkin pie (I have a great no fail recipe that I use for Thanksgiving) and I also enjoy the seasonal delight Pumpkin Cheesecake from Olive Garden. Yum! Yum! Of course with a new baby we haven't been out much so I haven't had that guilty pleasure yet this season, but I found a similar recipe on All that I can't wait to try. I also found a recipe for Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls that I'm planning to try soon. I'll let you know how that goes.
So, I decided to make my own delish pumpkin delight here at home. Several weeks ago I had the most scrumptious piece of pumpkin bread while visiting my parents. My mom had just bought it at a bake sale that was being held at our old church back home, Firm Foundation Ministries. It turns out my friend Lynette had made the yummy bread so I emailed her on FB (where else?) and I learned the recipe came from the 2000 Lake Area Christian School cookbook. I got to looking deep in my cupboards and found that I actually had the cookbook from my alma mater and set out to make the moist, spice filled bread. Here is the recipe and some pics of the progress.

Pumpkin Bread

2 C. canned pumpkin 2 tsp. baking soda
3 C. sugar 2 tsp. cinnamon
1 C. water 1 tsp. salt
1 C. vegetable oil 1 tsp. baking powder
4 eggs 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3 1/3 C. all-purpose flour 3/4 tsp. ground cloves

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugar, water, vegetable oil, and eggs. Beat until well mixed. Measure the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and ground cloves into a separate bowl and stir until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, beating until smooth. Grease two 9x5 loaf pans and dust them with flour. Evenly divide the batter between them. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10-15 minutes then remove from pans onto cooling rack.

Love that golden color!

And how else should one enjoy a nice warm slice of pumpkin bread but with a warm cup of joe in my favorite mug (courtesy of the NBC store, thanks Michele and Paul)!!

P.S.- Since enjoying my first slice, I've also eaten this bread warmed with vanilla ice cream on top and sprinkled with a dusting of Pumpkin Pie Spice. I HIGHLY recommend it! Yum!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kitchen Adventures- in Pie Making

We visited Darian's great aunt Martha a few weekends ago for a Sunday evening supper and a visit with her and Darian's second cousin Nick and his family. It was great to see them all again and to introduce Melana. But one of the highlights of the evening was the DELISH Apple Cream Pie that Aunt Martha served. I was able to snag the recipe from her but somewhere between there and here I lost it. Boo! So I wrote down what I could remember of the recipe and then looked for similar recipes on one of my fave websites All So, being the smarty pants that I am, I thought that I had it figured out so I set out to make this oh-so-amazing pie. First I got these beautiful, organic Honeycrisp apples. Aren't they purty?
Then I broke out the trusty Pillsbury Pie Crust. (Love them!) I mixed the sugar and cinnamon and placed it in the bottom of the pie crust. Then I mixed more cinnamon and sugar along with some lemon juice and flour and folded the apples into the mixture and then arranged the apples in thin slices in the pie pan. I covered the apples with a mixture of cream and vanilla and topped the whole thing off with more cinnamon and sugar. It was the most beautiful uncooked pie I'd ever seen. sniff sniff
After baking it still looked just as wonderful, although I did notice that some of the apples on the top layer didn't look as though they had cooked through all the way. Well, a half baked apple with cinnamon and sugar is just as tasty as one that's cooked right? So I let the pie cool a bit and then cut into it with fingers crossed for my first slice of homemade goodness. The crust was perfect (thanks doughboy), the apples under the first layer were perfectly cooked but, wait a minute!

Oy, what a mess!
Unfortunately, I must have missed something or mixed the cream mixture wrong because the apple juices had mixed with the cream and had made a liquid mess where my pie should have been. Of course, I had to give it a taste because even messy foods can be good. Ex: sloppy joes, ribs, corn on the cob etc... But it didn't taste much better than it looked and I had to dispose of my mega pie fail. Ah well. Maybe next time. Guess I probably should have called up Aunt Martha to begin with.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Our Growing Girl-17weeks

Wow, I really need to catch up on here. Melana is growing and changing every day and I don't want to forget any of it. She's now going on 17 weeks but, in some ways, it seems like she has been a part of our little family forever and, in other ways, it seems like she was born just a few days ago. The teething seems to have gotten a little better. The drooling and finger gnawing continues, but she seems to be in less pain. Thank goodness. The teeth haven't come through yet, but at least she's getting a little break. She still smiles all the time. She is such a joy and can always put me in a good mood, even in the mornings, which is quite a feat! She sticks her tongue out all the time, as I so wisely taught her, and she loves it when we stick out tongue out at her, it makes her giddy. She gabs and jabbers all the time and LOVES when people talk to her and play with her. She is still playing with her floor gym and in her bouncy seat, but I think she is starting to get bored with these at times so I'm thinking of getting her an exersaucer. I think she wants to be upright more so she can see what's going on around here. I set her on the counter in her bouncy seat when I'm working in the kitchen and she likes to watch me. During those times we often listen to music. Either Lullabies or Children's songs for her or Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, Johnny Cash etc. I'm trying to introduce her to the "good" music. :) She likes to be read to. Our favorite book continues to be "Goodnight Moon" but she likes a new one I've been reading about farm babies. She still likes her baths and has started to be more "active" while bathing. She kicks her feet and splashes her hands in the water. She likes to look in the mirror and has started to look at herself and not just at me holding her. She turns her head when she hears me or Darian talking in the room and she gets excited to see us and kicks and waves her arms, even first thing in the morning. She has really started to watch the dogs too. When she is laying on the ottoman playing, I've noticed she turns her head all around to see where they are and to track them. They still pretty much ignore her. She attended her first and second bonfires the last few weeks and seemed to do well. We have been having a problem with her screaming when putting her down at night though and I'm not sure what that is about. We've always been able to put her to bed awake and then we can hear her on the monitor playing and cooing for a while before going to sleep. Now she screams as soon as we put her down and cries and screams on and off for about an hour. We've gone up to change her, burp her, rock her and even tried feeding her a little more and nothing seems to work until she tires herself out. I blame the teething thing. Last night was a little better and she fussed for a few minutes and then fell asleep. Hopefully that was just a short phase.

Melana continues to be our joy and we are so thankful and blessed to have her. We are still waiting for the adoption to be final. After speaking with our attorney this week, it looks like it might still be closer to the end of the year. I'm praying for before Christmas, but I guess it doesn't matter when as long as it's done. She is our beautiful angel or, as Darian likes to call her, our "Melana cookie". (for anyone who knows him, you know how much he likes cookies) :)

I took her monthly pic posing with her teddy bear that my dad bought her in the hospital. I take her pic every month with the bear so we can see how much she has grown in comparison to the bear. I love that smile!!! I think I need to enter her in a beautiful baby contest.

If that wasn't proof enough, check out this sweetie pie...

Look at those blueberry eyes! She's so sweet! Darian, of course, hates the bow. Mom and I found cute little bands and a cute hat and flowers to put on them at Hobby Lobby and when we got to the car and showed Darian and Dad, they both rolled their eyes in disgust. I think it's a guy thing.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

We have a rolling baby, people!!

That's right, she's a roller!! On Thursday night during her tummy time, Melana decided it was time to roll for the first time. I was videotaping just in case and was lucky enough to catch her.

Unfortunately, Darian was outside and did not see it, but the neighbors probably all heard about it when I ran out to find him, screaming in excitement. :)
The teething continues and we have found a new friend in teething tablets. They dissolve under the tongue and seem to soothe her gnawing pretty quick. Her poor fingers are almost pruny from the saliva bath they've been soaking in inside her mouth. Yesterday I found heard her fussing while she was laying down to nap and found her in a struggle with her hands. She was trying to get her left hand thumb in her mouth to suck on at the same time her right hand was trying to get it's fingers in so she could chew on them. Each hand kept swatting the other away as they each tried to take a turn. She kept going back and forth and was getting so frustrated. I know I'm terrible for laughing at her frustration, but it was extremely comical.
Other firsts of this week: Last night she attended her first bonfire and today she went with my mom and I on her first trip to me and grandma's favorite store. Hobby Lobby! I'm sure she will be as frequent a customer as we are. :) She got to visit a little with Grandma and Grandpa I. today. During their visit they said how she has changed even from last weekend. I don't really notice other than her little legs seem to be getting chubbier and of course the extra chin she seems to have added.
Here she is with the hat grandma bought her at Hobby Lobby. Such a darling!
this one is for Auntie Rachael :)

Her feedings have become a little more regular now, so I'm hoping we're on a schedule again. Now she is eating every four hours instead of three and she is taking less frequent but longer naps during the day. Right now she is in the swing, since she didn't seem to want to go to sleep tonight, and we are listening to We love their lullaby selection and it seems to have done the trick as eyes are now closed and she is looking oh so peaceful.
She is just so stinkin' cute and oh-so-sweet. We praise God for her everyday and wonder what we did to be so blessed with such a sweetie. She is truly a blessing to us!!