Cinnamon Pumpkin Bread (Yeast)

Slathered in butter, made into a sandwich, or toasted; there is nothing better than homemade bread.  Many bakers are intimidated by the process of making homemade bread.  But I’m here to tell you there is no reason to be.  Especially, if you use this recipe. 

The canned pumpkin in this recipe helps make this bread super moist and practically no fail.  There is no fancy mixer needed either.  I simply use a wooden spoon and mix the dough by hand.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Bread

3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour + 1/4 c. for 1st kneading

1 tbsp. light brown sugar

1 tbsp. instant yeast

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. olive oil

3/4 c. pureed pumpkin

1 c. water

Grease 1 large loaf pan.

In a large bowl; add flour, brown sugar, yeast, salt, , cinnamon,  oil,  and pumpkin puree. Lightly stir ingredients until blended. Pour in water and mix by hand until all ingredients are combined.

Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface (using the 1/4 cup of flour you set aside). Knead dough until it forms a smooth ball. Place ball in a large greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, set in draft free location, and rise until doubled.

On lightly floured surface; punch dough down and roll into one large loaf. Place in prepared pan; cover and let rise until nearly doubled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until the loaf sound hollow when tapped. Turn onto cooling rack and brush with butter.

Do you make homemade bread?  If so, how frequently? 

Madagascar Vanilla Made with Vodka–A Special Homemade Holiday Gift

A couple of years ago, I won a bottle of homemade Madagascar Vanilla in a giveaway hosted by another blogger.  I have to tell you, I squeaked every last drop of vanilla out of that bottle.  For baking, there is nothing as good as pure vanilla extract; nothing…

Making homemade vanilla is a simple DIY project.  And if you get started right now, you’ll have a great holiday gift to give those bakers on your list.  And did I mention how delicious homemade vanilla extract tastes in French toast?

What you will need:

(8) 6 oz. Bottles & Corks, or Caps

(1) bottle 1.75 Liter of Vodka  (I used Barton’s Vodka)

(12) Madagascar Vanilla Beans

Sharp Pairing Knife

Cutting Board

Funnel

Wash all bottles with hot soapy water and let air dry.  Slice vanilla beans in half lengthwise; then cut in half.  Place 1 1/2 beans in each bottle.  Fill each bottle with vodka.  Wipe edge of bottles with warm clean cloth and place a cork in each one.   Store in dark place; uncork in 3 months.

This picture above was taken right after making the extract.

Once you make the extract you will need to decide how you want to label it.  I opted to keep it simple, and made my tags out of cardstock.  I used my Cricut cutter to make my tags, and then I stamped the word Vanilla on each tag using my alphabet stamps and maroon ink.  On the back, I printed the date that the vanilla may be opened.  To finish them off, I punched a star hole in the top of each tag so it could accommodate a ribbon.

Tell me, what baker wouldn’t want a bottle of this in their stocking?

My vanilla now 10 days old.  It will get darker and stronger as time passes.  I can’t wait to pop the cork and use this in a batch of my favorite sugar cookies.

What kind of treat would you make using homemade vanilla extract?

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Iced Cinnamon Candy Cookies

I love cinnamon candies.  I like putting them in my applesauce and I like putting them on top of my homemade frosted sugar cookies.  They are so darned good!  So, when I recently stumbled onto a cookie recipe at Bakingdom that called for cinnamon candies, in and on the cookie, I knew that the cookie and I were destined for each other. 

I made some modifications to the original (shortbread) cookie recipe by trying to be conscientious of that fact that the recipe called for two sticks of butter or margarine. I cut the fat down to one stick, and as a result of doing so, my adapted version of the cookie is lacking in the soft and tender department.  In fact, my first bite was like oh, no…  But with that said they have grown on me and I’ve eaten my fair share, and then some!  Being a soft cookie fan just means I just had to change my mindset.

Iced Cinnamon Candy Cookies

1/2 c. margarine, chilled

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 tbsp. cinnamon candies, crushed (set 1 tbsp. aside for topping)

1 3/4 c. flour

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, beat margarine, sugar, salt, and vanilla until mixture clumps together.  Mix in candies and flour; mix thoroughly.  Place a piece of parchment paper on a flat surface and roll dough out to about 1/4” thick.  Using a cookie cutter cut cookies out.  I made designs on top of my cookies with a smaller cookie cutter – similar to what Darla from Bakingdom did.  Continue to re-roll excess dough and repeat. Place cookies on prepared cookie sheets and bake for about 12-14 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing

In a separate bowl, add 1 1/4 c. confectioners sugar, 1 tbsp. softened margarine,  a drop of milk, and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. Mix icing until it’s thin and can be drizzled on top of cookie.  Add another drop of milk if necessary. Drizzle icing on cooled cookies and sprinkle with crushed candies.

Store in an airtight container.

Are you planning on making cookies to share with friends and family this holiday season?  If so, what is the one cookie you must to make?

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Double Chip Vanilla Cookie Bars and Mercantile Reminder

When I decided to make these cookies I had biscotti on my mind.  But as you know, biscotti is a bit more time consuming to make since it has to be baked twice. I wanted a cookie that was comparable, but with less work.   I think I’ve created a solid cookie bar that has some of the characteristics of biscotti, but tastes much more like a yummy shortbread cookie!

Double Chip Vanilla Cookie Bars

1/2 c. margarine

1 egg

2/3 c. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

3 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 c. all-purpose flour

3 tbsp. mini dark chocolate chips, plus more for the tops

Sprinkles (optional)

In a large bowl, cream margarine, egg, and sugar.  Beat in salt, baking powder, vanilla, and flour until completely mixed.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Using your hands, form dough into a rectangular shape (approximately 8” long x 4” wide x 1 1/2” thick. Place shaped dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Wrap the parchment paper over the dough and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

While cookie dough is in freezer, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a separate cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Remove dough from freezer and slice cookies about 1/2” apart.  I used my Pampered Chef Crinkle Cutter and it worked like a charm.  Place cookies on prepared cookie sheet and bake for approximately 13 minutes, or until cookie has set.  *You may need to adjust baking time if your cookies are thinner or fatter than mine – I got 16 cookies from this batch.  I suggest setting your baking timer a little early to make sure you don’t over-bake your cookies.

Remove baked cookies from the oven and sprinkle mini chips on top, also colorful sprinkles if desired.  Return cookies to your warm oven and leave them just long enough to let chips melt slightly.  Remove from oven and move to cooling rack.  Store in airtight container.

I thought about drizzling some chocolate on top of these but amazingly, I did use some restraint!  These cookies go perfect with a nice cup of tea or coffee.  They are also hearty enough to transport without crumbling into pieces.   I’ve decided I will be making these and adding them to my Christmas cookie gift baskets that I share each holiday season.  Try making them yourselves, I think you’ll agree!

Just a reminder that the Antique Flatware auction is going to end this week on the 31st.  Don’t forget to place your bid!

 

Crusted Garlic Parmesan Roasted Chicken From The Fall Harvest Dinner

I hope you made it to The Fall Harvest Dinner that my great blogger friends and I hosted yesterday?  If you didn’t, then please rewind for a minute and check it out before you continue reading this post.  You won’t want to miss the beautifully decorated fall table, tasty cocktail, yummy appetizers, scrumptious salad and side dish, soft and delicious homemade bread and rolls, and sweet dessert that was shared there.  Recipes are available for each dish featured in our Fall Harvest Dinner, along with Sandra’s table setting tips, at each individual blog.  Just follow the links I’ve included in that post to access them.

My contribution to our dinner party was a Crusted Garlic Parmesan Roasted Chicken.  Autumn is the perfect time to start roasting meats and chicken is no exception. This is an easy dish to make and a relatively inexpensive way to feed a hungry crowd.  The recipe and baking instructions come straight from the cook (hubby) in this house, not (me) the baker.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Remove the giblets and discard them.  Rinse and dry the chicken.   Place the chicken in a large roasting pan; drizzle olive oil, honey, and red wine vinegar on top.  Crush 4 cloves of garlic and sprinkle onto the chicken.  

In a bowl, mix together seasoning consisting of 2 tbsp. dried basil, 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning, 2 tbsp. parmesan cheese, 2 tsp. five pepper spice, 2 tsp. celery salt, and 1 tbsp. of dried cilantro.

Generously sprinkle seasoning over the chicken and into the roasting pan. 

Slice one medium onion, and chop the very top of a head of celery (including the leaves).

Cover the chicken with the vegetables.

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Fill the roasting pan 1/4 of the way full with water or chicken broth.  Place chicken in preheated oven and bake until internal temperature of chicken is 180 degrees.  For the size of the chicken hubby baked it took 2 hours.

Remove from oven and allow meat rest for about 10 minutes before removing it from the pan.

Slice and serve.

This chicken is baked just like I like it.  Moist inside and crusty on the outside – yum! 

What’s your favorite meat to roast?  Beef, pork, lamb, turkey, ham, or chicken?

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Homemade Skillet Pancakes with Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt

Disaster struck in my kitchen twice this week.  Talk about frustrating!  The first failure happened when I was attempting to make a yeast bread; the second, when I was attempting to make a quick bread.  The only ones who gained from my failures were our chickens and ducks.  They love it when I fail in the kitchen because they will eat just about anything I throw their way.  

To make up for my losses, I had to have at least one win this week.  And these pancakes are that – a BIG win!

The Chobani Yogurt plant is about two hours away from where I live, and as you all know, I love to promote local.  So, when Chobani offered to send me some samples I was elated.

I use sour cream all the time when I bake.  I love the moistness it adds to cakes, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, and quick breads.  But I have to admit that my use of yogurt in baking is limited, so the samples I received give me the chance to put on my mad scientist apron and experiment.   I figure maybe, just maybe, I will create a little healthier version of a few of my favorites.

Pancakes are not a baked goods, but they are good great.  So, being Sunday morning and all, I decided it was time to break out the yogurt and use it in a batch of homemade pancakes.  Please tell me, what could be better than homemade pancakes with (our) homemade maple syrup on a cool Sunday morning?  I figured you’d say that!

Homemade Skillet Pancakes (made with Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt)

2 tbsp. sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. Chobani Non-Fat Greek Yogurt

1 c. all-purpose flour

Margarine for a non-stick skillet

In a mixing bowl, add sugar, egg, baking soda, salt, oil, vanilla extract, and yogurt; using a whisk, mix by hand.  Add flour; mix thoroughly. 

Cooking pancakes can be tricky because they can cook too quickly or end up soggy in the middle.  I am going to share the way I cooked mine with you.

Lightly coat your non-stick skillet with margarine.   Turn your burner on a slow heat.  Heat the skillet until it is hot, but don’t let it overheat and smoke.  Using a small ladle, pour batter into skillet.   How many you can make at one time depends on the size of your skillet.  Leave lot’s of room to flip each pancake comfortably.  Cook the pancakes until bubbles form consistently across the top of each one.  Flip, and cook the remaining side until the center of each pancake is firm.

These pancakes were DELICIOUS!  Lucky for me, I still have some batter leftover and I can’t wait for tomorrow morning to get here!

Before closing this post, I have to tell you how fascinated I am with Chobani’s history.  I would encourage everyone to go to their website to learn more about them, their products, and pick up some money saving coupons while you’re there.  But I couldn’t resist sharing a piece of their history because I know that in an ailing economy, we all need a little inspiration.

“While tidying up his desk back in 2005, our Founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, stumbled upon a classified ad for a yogurt plant recently closed down by Kraft. After initially throwing the ad away, Hamdi listened to his gut, fished it out of the trash and went to see it that day. He decided to buy the plant on the spot, and went to work on perfecting the recipe for Chobani based on his belief that everyone, regardless of income or location, deserved access to delicious, high-quality yogurt. The first cup of CHO finally hit shelves 18 months later and has since grown to become America’s #1 yogurt.”

They say yogurt is good for your digestive system and I’m betting Mr. Ulukaya had his fair share of yogurt before starting this company because It seems that his gut feeling was spot on.

I received Chobani Yogurt samples which were used to make the pancakes in this post, but the opinions herein are my own.

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Country Apple Caramel Sauce

Do you ever have insatiable sweet tooth won’t stop aching?   I seem to have one more times than not – like last week for example.  When my sweet tooth is screaming, I usually search for a quick and easy solution.  This Country Apple Caramel Sauce is both – quick and easy.  It will surely stop any insatiable sweet tooth from aching dead in it’s tracks – I promise!

Country Apple Caramel Sauce

5-6 apples peeled, cored, and sliced (use an apple that you favor)

1/4 stick of butter

1 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. skim milk

a couple dashes of salt

2 tbsp. cornstarch, set aside

2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large skillet, melt butter on low heat.  Add sliced apples and sauté until tender.  Stir in brown sugar, milk, and salt; cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Turn heat to low.  In a separate bowl, add cornstarch and add 1/4 c. of the hot apple mixture; mix thoroughly.  Pour cornstarch mixture into apple mixture and cook until apple mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

Serve warm on top of your favorite ice cream or cake.

I’m also thinking sauce would taste great churned into a homemade ice cream with a pieces of pie crust thrown in.  Homemade Apple Pie Ice Cream here I come!

Looking for an apple topping with a little kick in it?  Check out my recipe for Apple Rum Ice Cream Topping.

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Triple Chocolate Halloween Bark

When I was a kid, my sister and I would disguise ourselves in our annual Halloween costumes (on Halloween) and we’d join the throng of other kids in our small town for a night of trick or treating.  Our goal was to fill our big orange plastic pumpkins with as much candy as we possibly could. We usually didn’t have much trouble doing that either.  After a final stop at the fire hall for a cup of cider and a doughnut, we’d head home to sort the candy we had scored that evening.  Once everything was sorted; the trading began.  She had her favorite candy and I had mine.  It only seemed logical to negotiate for more of what each of us really wanted. 

Once the negotiating was done, and we’d eaten enough sugar to keep us fueled for the next few days to come, I’d stash my candy away for safe keeping.  My sister say’s I would have saved my candy until Easter, but we’ll never know that because after she ate all of her candy, she’d find my stash and eat that too.  So much for all that negotiating… 

My daughter and I recently got together to make this Triple Chocolate Halloween Bark.  It is one of the easiest Halloween treats that you can make, and it looks impressive.  If you can chop, melt, and pour, you’ve got it made in the shade. 

Triple Chocolate Halloween Bark

1/2 c. milk chocolate chips

1/2 c. dark chocolate chips

1/2 c. white chocolate candy wafers

1/2 c. (lime green, black and orange) Celebrations Sixlets, chopped

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Measure chocolate chips into separate glass bowls.  Microwave one at a time – for about 1 minute each.  Stir completely, and pour onto prepared cookie sheet into thirds.  Repeat until all chocolate has been melted and poured onto cookie sheet.  With a toothpick, swirl the chocolate together.  Sprinkle the chopped Celebrations Sixlets on top.  Place in refrigerator until chocolate has hardened.  Cut into desired sizes.  Store in refrigerator.

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Did you stash your candy as a kid?  Or did you raid your siblings stash?

Thanks to SweetWorks Candy for providing the Celebration Sixlets and the adorable Halloween pumpkin gumballs featured in this post.

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Shiver Me Timbers; Vanilla Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl Cupcakes

Shiver me timbers… Here is a cupcake recipe that will make your Halloween a happy one.   And if it doesn’t, I’ll walk the plank.

This recipe combines all of my favorite flavors (vanilla, peanut butter, and chocolate) into a sinfully moist and rich cupcake.  Factor in the homemade vanilla buttercream icing, and your timbers will be shivering too! 

Vanilla Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl Cupcakes by The Joy of Caking

1/2 c. olive oil

3/4 c. granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2 c. sour milk

1/3 c. creamy peanut butter

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. dark chocolate chips

Place 12 cupcake liners in cupcake tins.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, add oil, sugar, peanut butter, vanilla extract, and eggs; beat thoroughly with electric mixer.   Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, milk, and flour; mix completely for about 2 – 3 minutes.  Remove 1 – 1 1/2 cups of batter from the large bowl and place in a  small bowl; set aside.

Melt chocolate chips in microwave for about 1 minute;  mix melted chocolate to the small bowl of batter.

Using a small ladle, fill cupcake papers equally with vanilla peanut butter batter.  Using a dining sized tablespoon spoon chocolate peanut butter batter on top of vanilla peanut butter batter.  Using a toothpick, swirl the chocolate peanut butter batter into the vanilla peanut butter batter.

Bake for 14- 15 minutes, or until toothpick comes clean when inserted into center of cupcake.  Cool slightly before moving cupcakes to cooling rack. 

Vanilla Buttercream Icing

3 tbsp. butter, softened

1 tsp. clear vanilla extract

1/2 bag (1 lb.) of confectioners sugar

2-3 tbsp. milk

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Add milk one tablespoon at a time to ensure proper consistency.

Once cupcakes are cool, frost and decorate.

 

As luck would have it, SweetWorks Candy recently sent me a box of goodies to put to good use.  I couldn’t resist using some of them to decorate these cupcakes in a pretty Halloween fashion.  I  just love the bright and flashy color of their Pearls, Sixlets, and Gumballs.  Don’t they make the cupcakes look so adorable? 

A big thank you to SweetWorks for providing me with the candies used in this post.  Please note – I was not compensated for writing this post and the opinions herein are my own. 

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Homemade Pumpkin Spice Cake and October

Today is the 1st of October and I’m excited.  September was a crazy month for me, I didn’t get to spend much time with my blog, and I plan to make up for that this month.

First, something new will be added to the Mercantile because the auction for the craft/sewing notion jar has officially ended.  Thanks for all your bids!  It’s been so much fun watching the bids come in and reading your comments.  I hope the luck winner (who is being notified by email) will enjoy their jar of notions.

Also this month, I’ve conspired with a bunch of GREAT BLOGGERS and we will be hosting a virtual fall harvest dinner party that is bound to help jump start your Thanksgiving Day menu planning. 

Sandra from Sweet Sensations will be setting our table for this event.  Terra from Café Terra will be mixing up one of her amazing cocktails for us.  Monet from Anecdotes and Applecores and Dionne from Try Anything Once Culinary will be whipping up tasty appetizers that anyone would gladly sample.  Amy from Ms. Toody Goo Shoes will be making us a beautiful and delicious fall inspired salad that sounds like a meal in itself.  Jeanne from Inside NanaBread’s Head will be sharing one of her scrumptious side dishes – and hint, she grows at least one of the ingredients  that she will be using in her dish.  Sharon and Denise from BeBetsy, and Liz from That Skinny Chick Can Bake,  will be surprising us with something yummy from their bread baskets.  And last but not least, Anne From My Sweet Heart will complete our meal with one of her insanely enticing desserts.  I don’t know about all of you, but I can’t wait!

So, let’s get this month started with a great recipe for Homemade Pumpkin Spice Cake.

This recipe was adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Pies and Cakes cookbook.  It’s super moist and perfectly spiced.  If you’re a raisin or nut fan, throw in a few of each.  They can only make the cake that much better.

1/2 c. margarine, softened

1 1/3 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 c. canned pumpkin

2/3 c. sour milk

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

Generously grease a 10”x14” cake pan with margarine.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream margarine and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs; beat well.  Mix in pumpkin, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla.  Alternate adding flour with milk and beat thoroughly.   Pour batter into prepared pan and bake approximately 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center.  Cool slightly and cover with plastic wrap.  Once cake has completely cooled, frost with your favorite cream cheese icing.

Happy October!

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