Friday, October 2, 2009

Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Swirl

I would just like to say: Happy Fall. It's finally here-my favorite time of the year! I love everything about it. Crisp weather, sweaters, the colors, holidays, and my (seriously) favorite part: pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING. Hopefully this will just be the first of many entries focusing on this most delightful flavor.

I have adapted this recipe from, which is a really great website: easy to navigate, clear directions and descriptions, no extra frou frou. I just tweaked it a little bit, since I've made this recipe 5 or 6 times and have figured out what I really like (ie, I don't like nuts getting in the way of my pumpkin, but I do like extra cinnamon). I also do a swirl of cream cheese instead of a middle layer. Also, I finally got to utilize this precious mini-loaf pans that my mom bought me. They're from Michael's and are in wonderful fall colors, perfect for (you guessed it) pumpkin!



For cream cheese swirl:

8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour

For pumpkin bread:

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 large eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 - 15 ounce can pure pumpkin

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter and set aside. Lay out cream cheese so that it will reach room temperature.

2. (For the bread) Mix together first 6 (dry) ingredients in one large bowl. Set aside.

3. In a separate large bowl, lightly whisk eggs, add sugar and butter, and cream together. Add pumpkin, milk, and vanilla. Mix well.

4. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, just until incorporated. Don't overmix.

5. (For the cream cheese swirl) In a food processor, cream the cream cheese (a little redundant, no?), add in sugar, then eggs one at a time. Add in flower and mix just until incorporated.

6. In 7 greased mini pans, or 2 greased large loaf pans, add in 1/2 of pumpkin mixture to the bottom of the pans. Pour cream cheese mixture over the bottom half. Take the second 1/2 of pumpkin mixture, and add to the top of the cream cheese mixture. With a fork, swirl slightly.

7. Bake for 30 minutes for mini loaf pans, or 50-60 minutes for large loaf pans. Remove when inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bacon Gravy: naughty southern goodness

Most people have noticed by now that bacon has gotten trendy. I see bacon in everything: cupcakes, ice cream,'s crazy! However, this recipe is anything but trendy. This is a southern tradition. If you order biscuits and gravy at a restaurant, you will most likely get a sausage gravy. Although I like it, there's no comparison to that bacon flavor, saturating your buttery biscuit! (That's right, forget that diet for today! )

I've always been happy with the bisquick biscuit mix, but there are unlimited choices for how to make your own from-scratch biscuits. This is really very simple, if you've never made a gravy before. Only 4 ingredients. Also, use your salt liberally, because there are few things more disappointing than a floury, watery gravy.

You won't be finding this in any hoity toity restaurant anytime soon, but for now you can enjoy an unpretentious, soulful southern treat.


Ingredients: (makes 2 ample servings!)
-10 strips bacon
-1/2 cup flour
-1 1/4 cup milk
-salt and pepper to taste.

1. Heat pan to medium high heat, and let bacon cook for 8-10 minutes, making sure each strip gets crispy.

2. Remove bacon from pan, reduce pan with grease heat to low. Place bacon on a paper towel, to soak up extra grease.

3. Once grease has cooled 2-3 minutes, add in flour to create a roux. The finished product should have a pasty texture.

4. Slowly add in milk, until the milk and roux is well incorporated. Add in salt and pepper to taste.

5. Coarsely cut the darker portion of 5 strips of bacon, and add in the gravy.

6. Generously add to biscuits and enjoy!