We might as well christen this pumpkin week over in the Espresso and Cream kitchen. In addition to eating it non-stop in Healthy Pumpkin Butter form, I’ve also been baking with canned pumpkin.
Joey grew up with a mom who frequently had a pan of bars in some shape and form sitting around the house for hungry boys to eat. And every now and again, I like to recreate this in our home, too. Last month it was Banana Sheet Cake and this month’s version is Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting.
Of course, anything with cream cheese frosting is a hit in my book, but these bars are especially tasty and moist thanks to the canned pumpkin. As the days went by, the bars actually started to taste better, similar to the banana bread phenomenon. I would say that if you’re thinking of making them to bring somewhere, a day or two ahead of time would yield fantastic results.
Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted slightly from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen
*1 2/3 cups sugar
*1 cup vegetable oil
*1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
*1 cup all-purpose flour
*1 cup whole wheat flour
*2 teaspoons baking powder
*2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
*1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*8 ounce cream cheese, softened
*1/2 cup butter, softened
*2 cups sifted powdered sugar
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. Set aside.
*In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin puree. Beat on medium heat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
*In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients for the cake batter. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat until just combined. Transfer batter to the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely.
*Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Beat until smooth. Spread atop the bars and cut into squares.
As long as I can remember, I’ve lived in a house or apartment with stainless steel appliances and bathroom fixtures. And beautiful as they may be, they are a pain in the but to clean. Despite my best intentions and using stainless steel cleaner, I always struggled to get my steel to shine.
Last weekend my mom stayed with us on Saturday night. Being the mom that she is, she got to work cleaning our apartment and polishing our fixtures and appliances with her new, greener cleaning technique: olive oil.
Although I was skeptical at first, once I saw the results I was sold. Even Joey commented on how great our fridge looked, and that’s not something he typically remarks on. The best part: it’s super simple and doesn’t require anything more than a paper towel or thin cloth and a bit of olive oil from your pantry.
What you need:
-Thin cleaning cloth or paper towel
How it’s done:
-Put a small amount of olive oil onto the cloth or paper towel. Use dampened cloth to buff the stainless steel. Re-dampen the cloth as needed.
Although it’s only the middle of September, the pumpkin eating is in full-swing over here. Since last week when I first spotted it on the shelves of the grocery store, I’ve eaten five 15-ounce cans on my own. Some might call it excessive; I call it celebrating fall.
My favorite way to eat pumpkin is spread atop peanut butter toast. And although I would gladly eat it plain, I find most people prefer to have their pumpkin sweetened and spiced up a bit. Pumpkin butter over the commercial variety has always been a bit sweet for my liking and generally negates the healthy elements of pumpkin puree.
This Healthy Pumpkin Butter is the best of both worlds – slightly sweet and chock full of spice, it functions well as a spread, dip, stirred into oatmeal or when stirred together with vanilla yogurt and topped with granola.
Healthy Pumpkin Butter
*28-ounces pumpkin puree
*1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
*1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
*1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
*1 tablespoon honey
*1 tablespoon stevia or other natural sweetener
*Combine all the above ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is hot and cooked through. Be careful to stir frequently so as not to burn the pumpkin. Remove from heat and transfer to a sealed container. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
As a child, one of my best memories was going to Brueger’s Bagels with my mom. The nearest location was a couple hours away, so we would stock up on a couple dozen and store them in the freezer and eat away at them for weeks.
True to form, my favorite variety was always the salt bagels. Sure, they had way too much salt on the tops, but part of the fun was to pick off the salt until you got the perfect amount.
A few weeks ago I made my first batch of homemade bagels! I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of doing it before, since it’s surprisingly easy. Although it takes a little time, the process is easy to understand and completely approachable.
Give it a try this weekend if you’re in the need of a weekend project!
Whole Wheat Salt Bagels
Recipe Adapted from Southern Living
*1 3/4 cups hot (120°F) water
*1 packet active dry yeast
*2 tablespoons honey
*2 teaspoons salt
*2 cups all-purpose flour
*2 to 3 cups whole wheat flour
*Additional kosher salt
*In a small bowl, combine the water and yeast. Allow to sit for five minutes.
*Pour water/yeast mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer; add the honey, salt and the 2 cups all-purpose flour and beat with the paddle attachment of an electric mixer until mixture is smooth.
*Change mixer attachment to a dough hook. Add in two cups of the whole wheat flour and stir for 6 to 8 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Add additional flour if necessary. Dough should be smooth, elastic, but not sticky.
*Shape dough into 10-inch long ropes about 1/2-inch in diameter (you should have 10 to 12 ropes total). Attach ends together to form a circle and pinch together to close.
*Place shaped dough rings on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with a towel. Allow dough to rise for 30 minutes to an hour. Refrigerate bagels for 4 to 6 hours.
*Preheat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
*Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Drop bagels, three at a time, into the boiling water for 1 minute, flipping halfway through. Transfer boiled bagels to parchment lined baking sheets. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
*Bake bagels for 15 to 18 minutes, or until tops are golden and bottoms are slightly browned. Cool slightly. Serve warm with butter!