Pecan Streusel Bread

A sweet friend and her husband just finished building their dream home.  When going over to see the new diggs, I wanted to bake something special to celebrate.  She and I sat, talking for hours, enjoying the gorgeous view and each having two generous pieces of this bread.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, October 2012.

Substitution made.  The original title for this recipe is Walnut Streusel Bread.  I just don’t do walnuts, so pecans (the better nut) were substituted.

pecan streusel bread 1

Pecan Streusel Bread

1/3 c packed brown sugar
1/3 c old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tblsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
dash of salt
2 tblsp butter, melted
2 tblsp chopped pecans

9 oz all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tblsp butter, softened
2/3 c granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c fat-free buttermilk
Baking spray with flour (such as Baker’s Joy)

pecan streusel bread 2

Preheat to 350 degrees.

To prepare streusel, combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add 2 tblsp melted butter, stirring until well combined.  Stir in nuts, set aside.

To prepare bread, weigh or lightly spoon 9 oz flour in to dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.  Combine 5 tblsp butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at med-high speed until well blended.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; beat in vanilla.  Beating at low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined.  Scrape half of batter into a 9×5-inch loaf pan coated with baking spray; sprinkle with half of streusel mixture.  Spread remaining batter over streusel; swirl.  Sprinkle remaining streusle on top of batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center come out with moist crumbs clinging.  Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack.  Remove from pan; cook completely on wire rack.

pecan streusel bread 3

cartoon-strawberry-9 This quick bread is a buttery, crumbly coffee cake.  Meant to be enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee and a dear friend.

Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Pie

Making this pie, I felt like a Pintrest meme.  Messy bun, yoga pants and a love of all things pumpkin.  There has to be a white girl joke in there somewhere.

I’m not sure where this recipe came from, looks like it was cut off the back of a box.

No substitutions were made.

pumpkin pie 1

Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Pie

1 refrigerated pie crust
15 oz pumpkin puree
12 oz evaporated milk
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 c packed brown sugar
2 tblsp all-purpose flour
2 tblsp butter
1/2 c chopped pecans

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Place crust into a pie plate.  In a large bowl, mix filling ingredients until well blended.  Pour into crust-lined pie plate.

pumpkin pie 2

Bake 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees; bake 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix streusel ingredients.

Sprinkle streusel over pumpkin filling.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center come out clean.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.

pumpkin pie 3

cartoon-strawberry-9Thanksgiving isn’t the ONLY time to enjoy pumpkin pie!  And the streusel topping is perfect.  Next time I’ll double the amount of streusel, so it covers the top of the pie completely.  I’d also use sweetened condensed milk instead of the evaporated milk, just to add a little sweetness.

Fresh Peach Cake

We have had many people stay in our guest room over the four short years that we’ve lived here.  Friends, family, students and even a few puppies.  It’s a joy to share our home with all of these wonderful people.  Our last guest gave me a bag of fresh Georgia peaches and told me to make some fun recipes with them.  Here’s round #1.

This recipe is from Food Network Magazine, June 2011.

No substitutions were made.

peach cake 1

Fresh Peach Cake

1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 c sour cream, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large ripe peachs, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 c chopped pecans

peach cake 2

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 inch square baking pan.

IN the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on med-high speed, until light and fluffy.  With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream and vanilla, and mix until the batter is smooth.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and slat.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon.

Spread half of the batter evenly in the pan.  Top with half of the peaches, then sprinkle with two-thirds of the sugar mixture.  Spread the remaining batter on top, arrange the remaining peaches on top and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture and the pecans.

Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

peach cake 3

cartoon-strawberry-9Fresh Peach Cake – Is there anything more need be said?  This is not an overly sweet cake, and pairs wonderfully with a vanilla latte.  (Thank the heavens for my barista husband.)

Cheese Ravioli w. Toasted Walnuts

I was looking through my recipe files looking for a vegetarian friendly recipe.  BUT since I was feeding it to husband, I had to include some hard core protein.

This recipe is from Real Simple, November 2007.

Substitutions made, noted below.

ravioli 2

Cheese Ravioli w. Toasted Walnuts

14 to 16 oz pacakage cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen)
1/3 c olive oil – I used 1/4 c
1/4 c walnuts, roughly chopped – I used pecans
1 clove garlic, sliced – I used minced garlic
2 tsp lemon juice
Kosher salt & pepper
1/2 c fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped – I used approx 1 tblsp dried
1/4 c grated Parmesan

Cook the ravioli according to the package directions.  Drain, reserving 3 tblsp of the cooking water.

Heat the oil in a med skillet over med heat.  Add the walnuts (pecans for me) and garlic.  Cook, stirring until the nuts are lightly toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, parsley and reserved cooking water.

Add the ravioli and toss to coat.  Divide among individual plates and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

ravioli 3

cartoon-strawberry-9I wasn’t sure how I would like ravioli drenched in oil, which is why I cut back on the amount of oil in the first place.  The lemon gave the sauce a good zing and the pecan/garlic combo added a bit of heartiness to the dish.  In the future, I’d cut back on the oil by half and add in some shredded chicken for an “all in one” meal.

THE Salad

The first summer we lived in TN, we invited a couple of students over for dinner to get to know them better.  I put this salad together, and it was dubbed “THE Salad”.

According to R, THE Salad tasted like summer.  Every time R comes home from college, we intend to have dinner and make THE Salad again, but it has yet to happen.  I will forever remember our evening spent talking and laughing around the table while enjoying THE Salad.

the salad 1

THE Salad

Greens & Veggies:
Enough for 4 servings
2 c chopped Romaine lettuce
2 c chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cucumber, diced
2 to 3 celery stalks, diced
1/2 c match-stick carrots
I add tomatoes seperately, husband doesn’t like ’em.

The stuff that makes it THE Salad:
shake & bake chicken  – 3 chicken breasts were enough for 4 servings
fresh sliced strawberries
fresh cubed buffalo mozzarella
pecan halves – toasted or candied
homemade croutons
Poppyseed dressing

the salad 2

For the croutons:  I had some cubed focaccia bread in the freezer to make breadcrumbs or croutons out of.  I tossed them in a couple splashes of olive oil and toasted them in a 400 degree oven for 10 min.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

I would really like to better my bread making skills.  Which means I wanted to find a good instructional book and I also need (no pun intended) to bake a lot of bread.

The book I purchased was “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice – Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread”, by Peter Reinhart.  This book covers it all.  Differences in types of flours, weighing vs measuring your ingredients, tools and wonderful recipes.

I decided to start with the Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread and see how it goes.  The only substitution I made was pecans for walnuts.

cinnamon raisin bread 1

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread

3 1/2 c unbleached flour
4 tsp granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 tblsp shortening, melted or at room temperature
1/2 c buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
1/4 c water, at room temperature
1 1/2 c raisins, rinsed and drained
1 c chopped walnuts – I used pecans

Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and cinnamon in a mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer).  Add the egg, shortening, buttermilk and water.  Stir together with a large spoon (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients come together and form a ball.  Adjust with flour or water if the dough seems to sticky or too dry and stiff.

Sprinkle flour on a counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing on medium speed, switching to the dough hook).  The dough should be soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky.  Add flour as you knead (or mix), if necessary, to achieve this texture.  Knead by hand for approximately 10 minutes (or by machine for 6 to 8 minutes).  Sprinkle in the raisins and nuts during the final 2 minutes of kneading (or mixing) to distribute them evenly and to avoid crushing them too much.  (If you are mixing by machine, you may have to finish kneading by hand to distribute the raisins and nuts evenly.)  The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees.  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

The most reliable method to determine when gluten development is sufficient is called the windowpane test, sometimes referred to as the membrane test.  This is performed by cutting off a small piece of dough from the larger batch and gently stretching, pulling and turning it to see if it will hold a paper-thin, translucent membrane.  If the dough falls apart before it makes this windowpane, continue mixing for another minute or two and test again.

Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

cinnamon raisin bread 2

Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and form them into loaves.  Place each loaf in a lightly oiled 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch pan, mist the tops with spray oil, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Forming the loaves: Flatten the measured piece of dough with your hand, folding in the edges to make and even-sided rectangle about 5 inches wide and 6-8 inches long.  Working from the short side of the dough, roll up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension.  the loaf will spread out as your roll it up, eventually extending to a full 8 to 9 inches.  Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs.  Rock the loaf to even it out; do not taper the ends.  Keep the surface of the loaf even across the top.  Place the loaf in a lightly oiled loaf pan.  The ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan to ensure an even rise.

Proof at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the dough crests above the lips of the pans and is nearly doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack on the middle shelf.  Place the loaf pans on a sheet pan, making sure they are not touching each other.

Bake the loaves for 20 minutes.  Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the oven.  The finished breads should register 190 degrees in the center and be golden brown on top and lightly golden on the sides and bottom.  They should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.

cinnamon raisin bread 3

Immediately remove the breads from their pans and cool on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferable 2 hours, before slicing or serving.

Another trick that adds flavor is to brush the tops of the baked loaves with melted butter as soon as they come out of the bread pans, and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar.  When they bread cools, the top will have an additional sweet and crunchy flavor burst.

cartoon-strawberry-9I used my mixer for kneading the dough and then kneaded in the raisins and pecans by hand.  My bread didn’t quite pass the windowpane test, but it was close.  In the future, I would knead the dough a little longer.  Mixing in the raisins and pecans was a bit messy, but fun!  And the smell of melted butter poured over hot bread?  Pure heaven.  This recipe made two loaves, so I was able to give one away for a yummy birthday present.  This bread is worth the time and effort needed.

Oh, and then husband and I made french toast with this bread… (coming on Friday)

cinnamon raisin bread 4

Almost-Famous Pecan Waffles

January marked our fourth anniversary of living in the south, and I still haven’t eaten at a Waffle House. But a good waffle for a Saturday morning breakfast is one of my favorite things, so I had to try these out.

The recipe is from Food Network Magazine, December 2011.

I did not alter the recipe in any way.

pecan waffles 1

Almost-Famous Pecan Waffles

3/4 pecans
1 1/2 c all-purpose four
1/3 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 large egg
1 c whole milk – I used 2%
1/2 c buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tblsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for brushing and topping
1/4 c vegetable shortening, melted and cooled
maple syrup for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecan on a baking sheet; bake until toasted, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool, then chop. Reduce the oven temp to 200.

pecan waffles 2

Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Whisk the egg, milk, buttermilk and vanilla in a separate bowl until combined. Stir the egg mixture, melted butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until just combined. (The batter will be lumpy.)

Preheat a waffle iron and brush with melted butter. Ladle some batter into the iron; sprinkle with 2 tblsp toasted pecans. Cook until golden brown, then transfer the waffle to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining batter. Top the waffles with butter and maple syrup.

pecan waffles 3

cartoon-strawberry-9Oh my goodness, these waffles are good! If you have a special day coming up, these would be a great celebration breakfast!

Santa’s Whiskers

Today’s post is a part of Leanne Penny‘s online Christmas Cookie Exchange!

Growing up, we didn’t keep cookies or sweets on hand, but at Christmas, my mom would fill the cookie jar.  Lemon bars, peanut butter blossoms, and my favorite – Santa’s Whiskers.  A rich buttery shortbread with bits of candied cherries and pecans, rolled in coconut (hence the whiskers…).

Santas Whiskers 1

Santa’s Whiskers

1 c butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 tblsp milk
1 tsp vanilla or rum extract
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c chopped red (or green) candied cherries
1/2 c finely chopped pecans
3/4 c flaked coconut

Cream together butter and sugar until smooth; then add the milk and vanilla extract.  Mix in flour, cherries and pecans.

Form dough into two 8 inch logs.  Roll in flaked coconut to coat outside.  Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill thoroughly.

Once dough has chilled, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut dough into 1/4 inch slices and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake till edges are golden, about 12 minutes.

santas whiskers 2

cartoon-strawberry-9I’m not sure of the origins of this recipe, but Christmas just isn’t Christmas without these cookies.