recipe || pumpkin bread & cream cheese spread

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I know I have shared my sweet Mama’s pumpkin bread recipe here before, but rather than just reposting the same one, I feel that it deserves a second post for this autumn season. There are many recipes that my lovely Mother makes that are favorites, but two that always always always come to mind first are her granola recipe and this pumpkin bread recipe.

*Sidenote: I made a different granola recipe the other day and J took it to work with the next morning and when he pulled out his lunch bag later that evening he told me, “Yep, Mom’s granola is a whole lot better.” She’s just wise in the kitchen, my friends.

This bread is the first thing I make as soon as that first fall chill hits. Since it makes two I usually add in chocolate chunks to one loaf for AK and keep the other plain because, though I am a wholehearted chocolate lover, when it comes to this pumpkin bread I will always choose the plain. And spread the cream cheese mixture over top of it and ohhhh my gracious, you’ll be dancing!

Pumpkin Bread

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking sode

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons cinnamon

3 teaspoons nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger

3 cups sugar

4 eggs

2/3 cup water

2 cups canned pumpkin

1 cup oil

Directions

Combine dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and beat well. Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans or into seven mini loaf pans and fill 2/3 full. Bake loaf pans at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

It’s truly the BEST!

Spread: Whip up 4 ounces softened cream cheese in a bowl. Add (eyeballing) powdered sugar, a bit of milk, and a dash of vanilla. Whip together, adding in extra of whatever’s needed. (Start with less milk and work your way up.) Put into a small bowl and store in refrigerator.

Happy Baking, lovely ones!

in my kitchen || journal #1


"Cooking well doesn't mean cooking fancy." 

Julia Child

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Such good words. Wasn't she just a wealth of culinary wisdom? I think I should frame this for my kitchen. It's a good reminder for me, for what I want the heartbeat of our kitchen to be. I want to cook well; to learn and love the art of it, to stretch myself, to know my ingredients, to get comfortable creating on my own, to make good food, whether it's scrambled eggs, a simple salad, or a charcuterie board.

A part of this comes from the atmosphere we create in our kitchen, I think. I want to bring people into my kitchen, to let my kids make messes -- heck, to let myself make a mess, to be brave with flavors and attempt new things like homemade pasta. I want our kitchen to be a place where people desire to be, to nurture that atmosphere of good food and great conversations. I want to do things well, just as Julia said. 

This kitchen journal is my desire to document not just the new recipes we try and love, but much more than that, the scenery that's going on behind those recipes. I want to document what we were doing, what was the atmosphere in our home, who was present, what was my heart feeling, what did I notice in that moment on that day in this sweet sacred space: our kitchen.


On this particular evening, I was craving some alone time. The afternoon had held a very fussy baby, a sad Anna Kate who had spilled hot chocolate on our off-white carpet (the day we finally get to rip that carpet out will be one met with much rejoicing), and a needy puppy annoyingly begging for her dinner. I was feeling a bit frayed.

Enter some evening sunshine and that superhero man I'm married to. Once I got the babe asleep, he took the fur-child and our big kid out for a walk in the brisk February air and said, "enjoy yourself, love." A calm fell over the house. I'm learning in those first moments of calm to just be quiet for a minutes, to reset my heart a bit, to ask the Lord to help me make the most of the time and bed ready to meet my people well when they walk back in the door. 

With Sinatra and a glass of moscato as my companions, I set to making dinner. Greek Chicken Souvlaki and Potatoes from Half Baked Harvest were on the menu that night. It was chopping, tossing, and sneaking bites of feta and kalamata olives as the evening light poured through the window. The pan went in the oven (this recipe is delightfully simple), the rice cooked up, and I set the table, swaying to "the way you look tonight" as I laid the plates and forks on the table.

J and AK walked in at just the right time, red-cheeked from the chill and ready to settle into a warm dinner. The meal itself was a winner, but more than that, it was conversation around the table, hearing about the walking adventure, a peacefully sleeping babe, and the faces of the ones I love most. It was a real evening of "us", marked by the still very new adjustment to life with 2 little ones, a reminder of where I must always draw my strength, and a sweet husband handing me a bit of time.

The Lord is so good to meet us in our imperfect ordinary. He doesn't waste a thing.

recipe || homemade granola

I never mind when the granola jar gets low because that just means more needs to be made, and there's little else that makes the house smell as good as it does when we bake granola. 

This is a recipe from my sweet momma, as so many of our favorite recipes are, and it continues to be passed on and on. It has become a staple in many of our friend's homes after they've tried it here. It's so simple to make and easy to add your own spin to so it can please every palate. And you can double or even triple it if you want to gift some of it or use it as favors for a shower, as we did for my little sister's wedding shower earlier this year. I mean, how cute are little mason jars filled with granola and tied with a bit of twine or ribbon?? 

So, my friends, welcome to our kitchen again. I hope that this granola feels just as cozy to you each time you make it as it does to me.

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Homemade Granola

4 cups rolled oats

1-2 cups nuts (chopped pecans, shaved almonds, walnuts)

3/4 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup wheat germ (optional)

2-4 tsp. milled flax seed (optional)

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. dark or light brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. real maple syrup

1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 tsp. salt

1-2 tsp. vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the oats, nuts, coconut, brown sugar, wheat germ, and flax seed. In a separate bowl combine the maple syrup, oil, salt, and vanilla by whisking together well. 

Pour onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Add dried fruit, chocolate chips, or whatever else you prefer.

Revel in the glorious smell and enjoy!