My daughter, her friend and I went up to my friend’s lake house this weekend for a “girls” weekend. I wanted to bring along some fun “girly” things to eat, so I made up some chocolate mascarpone spread so we could make chocolate strawberry bruschetta, and while I was at it, I made a pumpkin maple spread too. But then I needed something to put the pumpkin spread on, so, despite the fact that it was a crazy busy day, on a total whim I started up some dough in my bread machine to make pumpkin cinnamon swirl bread. I wasn’t really sure that I would be home long enough on Saturday to bake it before we left, but somehow I managed it. And I was SO glad I did. This bread, with the pumpkin mascarpone spread is pure bliss to eat. You can just close your eyes and lose yourself in the lovely taste of it. My friend said she felt like she could just keep eating it till she exploded. I told her I wasn’t going to share that on my blog, but now here I am sharing it LOL. The young teenage girls loved it too.
We had such a fun weekend. We went for a LONG walk along the lake, then we had tea and hot chocolate and a lovely dinner … I made the salad, my daughter’s friend made cajun chicken pasta, my friend made green beans and we had rotisserie chicken and chicken sausages too, then we listened to funky music and my friend and I had wine and chatted while the girls danced their hearts out in the living room.
My friend who has three boys and has rarely (if ever?) had a girls weekend, wanted to take some of the bread home to her boys. I couldn’t let her have it ALL (my daughter wanted some!), but I did give her the smaller loaf to take home … so the boys could try it too. I think she loved the girls weekend, but I could also tell she felt a little lost without her boys. I was craving some male energy too. Girls’ weekends are great, but … well, we need our boys, too. However, I do have to tell you my daughter and I were awfully tempted to buy this lakefront house we saw, move to the lake and leave our “city” life behind.
Yeah, that’s not going to happen. It is tempting, though …
Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread
- 1 package (1 tablespoon) active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup puréed pumpkin
- 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 1/4 cups bread flour
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached white whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- To make the swirl: Cooking spray (or melted butter) + cinnamon sugar
- Dump all the ingredients except for the “Swirl” ingredients into your bread machine and set it on the dough setting.
- When the dough is ready, roll it out into a rectangle, spray with cooking spray, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and roll it up. (I rolled it up lengthwise, and the dough was long enough to make one loaf pan plus a smaller loaf.)
- Spray your loaf pans with cooking spray and carefully transfer the dough into them, tucking under the ends to form a nice loaf shape. Spray the loaves with cooking spray, cover with a clean towel and set in a warm place to rise.
- When the dough has risen to a big, puffy state (roughly double the size), bake at 375 F. for about 30 minutes or until the loaves are a deep golden brown on top and the loaves sound hollow inside when you thump them.
- Let the bread sit for about 5 – 10 minutes, then slice and serve with Pumpkin Maple Mascarpone Cream.
Pumpkin Maple Mascarpone Cream
- 3 oz. light cream cheese
- 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 3/4 – 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (if you don’t have any on hand, here’s a quick recipe to make your own)
- 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
Let the cream cheese warm up a bit at room temperature, then in a small mixing bowl, mix the cream cheese with the rest of the ingredients until it’s all smooth and very well mixed. You can use a spoon or a mixer does the job quickly and gets the spread all nice and fluffy. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
This recipe was shared at Scrumptious Sunday, Melt in your Mouth Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tuesday Talent Show, Tasty Tuesday, Wonderful Food Wednesday, Newlyweds Recipe Linky, Show & Share Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday , Full Plate Thursday and All my Bloggy Friends.
Some days I feel overwhelmed … and I wonder why. I mean, things are so much easier now than they were just a couple years ago. I listen to my friends’ problems and I feel like I have it so easy. I’m really okay. There aren’t any big tragedies in my life. My kids and I are healthy, I have a good job, a good home, good food, great friends and family.
But still some days everything in my life feels like just too much. I don’t know what it is. There just is too much to be done, too many things pulling at me, and I get to the point where I just don’t know how to respond, how to deal with anything. I can’t make a decision, I can’t even answer my kids’ questions. I just have to tell them to wait a bit. It’s times like this when I turn to the kitchen … the preparation of food soothes me, comforts me, makes things feel a little better.
And then I get a big hug from my daughter for making banana bread and everything is all right again. Is life really that simple? Can everything be turned around in an instant with one little hug?
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Adapted from Taste & Tell. This is a soft, moist banana bread with a subtle hint of peanut butter. For more peanut flavor, add some chopped peanuts. If you toast the nuts before adding them, it will bring out the peanut flavor even more.
- 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
- 1/3 cup milk (I used 1%)
- 1/3 cup peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt
- 1 egg
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup flaxmeal
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips
- For the top: a couple tablespoons of raw sugar (turbinado sugar)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan or mini loaf pans with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Mash the bananas in a large bowl, then add the milk, peanut butter, vanilla, yogurt and egg and mix well.
- Stir in the dry ingredients, then mix in the chocolate chips.
- Pour into one 4x5x9 inch bread pan or a few smaller loaf pans (I used 3 smaller ones.)
- Sprinkle the tops of the batter with raw sugar and place in the oven to bake.
- Bake smaller loaves for 30 – 45 minutes or larger loaf for 50 – 60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the bread rest in the pan for a few minutes before removing.
It was my birthday last weekend and I started out my day by baking a birthday cake, because I was wide awake early in the morning and I had a bit of time just for myself … because it was my birthday and I really wanted chocolate … because I wanted something extra special. Birthdays are really important to me. I think part of it is simply the celebration that you are still alive … that in itself is such an incredible gift … but the other part is a birthday is a special day just for you. I think so many of us spend so much of our lives for other people that we really need a day just to stop, sit back and honor ourselves.
Anyway, I was baking my cake and the recipe doesn’t use all of the bottle of stout … which means I have a bit left. I mentioned this to my sweet man who was messaging me to wish me a happy birthday … and just before I am about to drink the last bit of stout, he says to me, “Do you have any grapefruit?” Yes, I said … why? … “I’ve heard dark beer poured over grapefruit is really good in the morning … You’ll have to tell me if it’s true … I think it’s something about the citrus and the beer counteracting each other and the final taste being sweet.”
So it is 8:04 a.m. and not only am I baking a chocolate stout cake and drinking Imperial stout, I just poured beer all over my grapefruit. And, strangely, it was good. I don’t think I would purposely open one of my good dark beers to pour over a grapefruit, but it was good.
This stout is special, by the way. I didn’t use Guinness in my cake. Guinness is the beer everyone seems to use in these kinds of recipes, but I am not all that crazy about Guinness and I think it’s partly because Guinness considers itself a “man’s” beer–hey, I’m a woman and I drink dark beer too! I stumbled across an Imperial stout that honors ancient women brewsters: Black Cauldron Imperial Stout from the Grand Teton Brewing Company. You have to read the story behind this beer. It is heartwrenching and a beautiful tribute.
So while this cake might appeal to men, it is a tribute to women. If you make it for your sweetie on Valentine’s Day, take a moment to remember those women brewsters and to honor yourself (whether you’re male or female … we all need to honor ourselves).
Black Cauldron Chocolate Imperial Stout Cake
from Recipe Girl
Chocolate Stout Cake:
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup Imperial stout beer
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
- About 3/4 cup of dark chocolate chips, chopped
Chocolate Imperial Stout Sauce:
- 1/4 cup Imperial stout beer
- 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F. and place rack in middle of oven. Grease and lightly flour 9-inch cake pan (or use 8-inch pan if you’d like a slightly taller cake.)
- Prepare cake: In a small saucepan, combine cocoa powder and stout. Heat over low-moderate heat until smooth and warmed. Set aside to cool.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on low- medium speed, beat butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until pale yellow in color. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Add the yogurt and the cocoa /stout mixture and beat on low until fully mixed.
- Add the flour mixture in three parts, beating well after each addition. Beat the batter for a minute or so after everything is added, till the batter is good and fluffy.
- Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake 35 – 55 minutes or until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- While cake is baking, prepare the sauce: Mix sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until smooth. Allow to cool.
- When the cake is done, poke holes in it, and spoon 3/4 of the sauce over bottom of cake, allowing sauce to seep into cake. Slide a knife around the edges and invert the cake right side up onto your serving platter.
- Poke holes in the top of cake and spoon the remainder of sauce on top of cake. Try not to waste any of that precious sauce like I did … poke LOTS of holes so it all seeps into the cake because it is SO good.
- I topped it with whipped cream and berries and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. I think I went a little overboard with the whipped cream, but oh it was amazing like that.