The Best Pumpkin Bread Recipe. EVER.

I know, I know….cheap shot right? Such a classic, “blogger” move. Use the phrase, “Best Ever.” , and throw all caps in there somehow. It’s a shameless move to get you to click on this post. But, I’m only slightly ashamed of myself, because I actually believe this. I can confidently say that I will never make another recipe, or buy another box mix for pumpkin/banana bread.

This pumpkin bread recipe is seriously the best. I have been making it for actual YEARS. It has been made for playdates, bible studies, class snacks, gifts for neighbors, and family breakfasts. I have vivid memories of myself from when Carolynn (now 8 years old) was a newborn and I would eat this bread and drink coffee, and stare at my perfect baby. This bread helped me through many a sleep deprived day, and since then has been a staple in our home, wherever that home has been. It is perfect everytime.

The recipe in it’s original form comes from Bethenny Frankel’s book, “Skinnygirl Dish”. She has truly perfected the banana bread recipe. I use several other recipes from this book on repeat (taco seasoning!) and recommend it for those healthy recipes, as well as her no nonsense take on how to stay “naturally thin”. Spoiler Alert: there’s no magic pill or anything….she just tells it straight up…things you already know, but she delivers it with a sarcastic, witty sense of humor.

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Here’s my take, step by step, on what she calls, “Boo Boo’s Banana Bread”:

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Gather all your ingredients, they’re all just going right into the bowl together:

  • 1 cup flour
    • I use whole wheat usually, but I have used coconut flour, and AP flour in the past.
  • 1 Cup Raw Sugar
    • You can use any sugar you like, but I love the texture of raw sugar and use it in all my baking.
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 Cup Pureed Pumpkin
    • I have used bananas, applesauce, applesauce and shredded zucchini, and pureed butternut squash.
  • 1 Egg
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla (or almond extract is SO good.)

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To make mixing easier, I chop the butter into small cubes.

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 Make sure all ingredients are mixed well.  This batter isn’t overly wet, so put your back into it!

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Getting there…..

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If desired, (duh.) add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. I always use semi sweet and love the mini ones. They do cost a bit more, but they really are just better for baked goods in my opinion.

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I make this both as a bread, and as muffins. If you’re in more of a time crunch, muffins will cook quicker. Whichever pan, or tin you cook it in, it won’t last long.

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Bake at 350 degrees: 18-24 minutes for muffins.

For bread, cover with foil for 30 min, uncover for 20 min more. (I have found that this time varies based on how deep your bread/loaf pan is. Add time under the foil if your loaf pan is shorter in length. This way you won’t have a doughy center.)

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 A food photographer, I am not. An eater, I am. All 12 of these muffins were devoured at our last Sunday breakfast. These also freeze well (wrap two together in plastic wrap and place in freezer bag.) for quick home-baked breakfast on rushed mornings.

Please give this recipe a try, and go check out Bethenny’s book from your local library!

Happy baking, and thanks so much for reading!

Steph

Pesto is the Best-o!

How, oh how can it already be July? We have been having a fun, and busy summer so far! I overcame a fear of mine, and took the kids to Schlitterbahn, the so called, “hottest coolest time in Texas.” Although Brian and I had both been many times, I wasn’t looking forward to taking the kids. Lots of people, lots of water rushing around….Anyway, we had a really great time and it wasn’t at all what my overactive mom brain said it would be (drowning, kidnapping, loss of limbs, other assorted unthinkable tragedies)! We visitied my grandparents, spent a week at the lake, and got a new puppy!

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I always have some conflicting feelings about July. It’s summer, so I can’t be mad at it. It’s also my birthday month BUT, this is also the month where the ads on TV start telling you it’s time to shop for back to school. Why so soon? Let me enjoy my summer TV ad people. So rude.

One of the summer herbs we’re enjoying, and I’ve still got growing like crazy right now is basil, (We also have tomatoes and zucchinis and okra! Read about our garden in this post) and I really want to share with you a pesto recipe I’ve been making with all that basil. Want to feel like a real life farmer? Grow basil.

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See? You will be ready to quit your day job, put on some overalls and milk your own cows. Too much?? Well, at the very least, your gardening self esteem will be boosted,  big time. Anyone can grow this stuff and it’s so yummy on, and with, so many things. (Caprese ensalada anyone? Margherita pizza? YUMMM)

A great way to use basil, especially when you have lots, is to make pesto. Pesto goes great on chicken, in pastas, spread on warm slices of french bread, and my favorite way–on pizza. Forgo the sauce, spread the pesto on your crust and top with shredded chicken, or just veggies and cheese. This is my new favorite pizza for our Friday family night tradition: homemade pizza and movie nights. (A post on family pizza night coming soon!)

To make pesto, pick 2 packed cups of basil.

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Add 1/3 c pine nuts to basil and pulse. Then add 1/2 c parmesean cheese, and 2 tsp garlic (more or less, according to your taste).

(How do you like my “vintage” food processor?)

I get this bag of pine nuts from Costco:

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And yes, it is $19. Nine. Teen. American dollars. So, if you would rather not buy all this, I’ve seen recipes that substitute cashews or walnuts for the pine nuts. I haven’t tried it, so let me know if you do, I’de love to know how it turns out! It could save me hundreds.

Once you’ve combined your basil, garlic and nuts, put the lid on and slowly add 1/2 c of olive oil as your processor runs. Stop a few times to wipe down the sides with a spatula. Once it’s combined, taste and add seasoning as desired. I always add salt and pepper of course, but we also like to add jalapeno slices, pickled jalapeno juice, and/or red pepper flakes to make it spicy. Give it a few pulses if you add anything at the end.

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The pesto will keep well in the fridge for a week. Make sure to place a piece of plastic wrap on the top of the pesto before putting the lid on your jar or container. This will keep the air out and maintain freshness.

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I am a huge proponent of freezing things, so of course I also have some frozen. You can use ice cube trays to freeze smaller portions, or use a freezer safe jar or container.

We’ve had it on pizza, on pork chops, with veggies, on pasta, with chicken and as the sauce on a zucchini lasagna with sausage.

Here are a few other ideas I’de like to try, and for you to try at home:

Pesto hummus 

Pesto Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Pesto Egg-in-a-hole with Bacon

As always, I love to hear from you, so let me know if you try the pesto recipe! Thanks so much for stopping by!

_Steph

 

How to make a Haymaker

Happy Monday, my friends!

Apple Cider Vinegar is an old (like ancient Greeks old) household remedy for many things like sore throats, and upset stomachs. But, some have recently claimed the vinegar it contains, giving it it’s strong taste and smell, can help prevent cancer, or keep blood glucose under control. The science behind those claims is questionable, but at the yellow house, we like to sip on something called, “haymakers” a few times a week anyway. You can make a pitcher full, or just a glass at a time, which is what we usually do. If you’re looking for a drink that’s good for your gut and another calorie free alternative to water that may have some health benefits, here’s the step by step recipe.

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We buy our ACV from Costco. Any will do, just make sure it includes, “the Mother”.  You can buy Apple Cider Vinegar on Amazon if you’re into groceries on your doorstep.

 

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I use 1/4 cup per glass. But, that’s very strong. You may want to start with half that, or less.
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Add honey to sweeten, and cut the strong vinegar flavor. I add 1 tsp, but that’s to 1/4 cup ACV. Adjust according to your taste. Be sure to add the honey, and combine, before you add the ice.

Fill your glass with either water, or tea. I like either, but Mr. Adventure Life prefers his with tea. I’ve tried mine with green tea, black tea, and plain sparkling water.

Add ice and sprinkle with ground ginger. Stir.

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You can buy the best ground ginger here!

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Let me know if you try it, I would love to know what you think, and what you use ACV for–salad dressings? Cleaning? Drinking?

I hope the weather where you are is as gorgeous as it is here in central Texas. It is sunny, warm perfection here. (*cue the angels singing!)

Go enjoy your haymakers outside on this BEE-U-TIFUL day! Thanks for reading!  -Steph

 

 

 

7 of our favorite beef recipes

When your parents own cattle, it’s inevitable that you eat beef. Actually, a lot of beef. We recently got our 1/4 of a responsibly raised, grass fed, organic, 600 +lb cow and our freezers are stocked full.

Since we’re eating beef at least once a week, I’ve got many, Smith family approved, go to beef recipes. Here’s our favorite 7, one for every night of the week.

Swedish Meatballs

Meatloaf

We make our meatloaf in a muffin pan, so we get 12 cute little meatloaf muffins. The recipe I use for meatloaf is called, “mom’s meatloaf” and is on a handwritten card from my mother-in-law. You can find many meatloaf recipes online, or in one of those cookbooks you have in your kitchen. We also top our lil’ muffins with a meatloaf sauce, which includes: 1/2 cup ketchup, 1 tsp mustard, and 1 T brown sugar.  The sauce is a great oppourtunity for your kids to help out, Carolynn always mixes up our sauce.

 

Hamburger Stroganoff

Carne Asada Tacos in the Crockpot

This recipe calls for flank steak, but I always substitute cubed steak. Cubed steak is a tougher cut of meat, and can’t be subbed in all recipes, but after rubbing with this delish spice rub and cooking slow and low in the crockpot, it turns out great.

Hamburgers and Homemade Fries

Obviously, this is a go to for most people. Homemade burgers from your grill are a staple of the summer and so, so good. Top with bacon, jalapenos, blue cheese, avocado, a fried egg, chili….well look at that, my mouth is watering.

Greek Pita Pockets

Greek food is one of my favorites, for sure. This recipe comes from a Robin Miller cookbook I got before Pinterest stole our hearts, legitimately, of course. (return to the old days, and buy a copy here. It’s less than $5)

I brown my ground beef adding either pre made greek seasoning, or a combo of dried oregano, basil and a pinch of all spice -a little all spice goes a long way! While the meat cooks, warm your pitas by setting them in a 200 deg oven. Mix up your yogurt sauce by combining 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 2 tsp chopped, fresh dill, and 1 tsp garlic powder. Serve the Greek ground beef inside warm pita with homemade yogurt sauce, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, sliced red onions, and feta. So much feta. Our pitas are always stuffed so full we can barely get a bite. But you’ll want to get that bite so bad, you will make it happen.

Sloppy Joes

This is another recipe from Robin Miller’s cookbook. Again, there are sloppy joes recipes enough to sink a ship. You can find one that suits you and yours.

I serve with homemade sweet potato fries, or thinly sliced red potato chips and a fruit salad or sliced apples.

 

We had a dear friend of ours babysit recently, and we actually “paid” her in meat. We are all such….grown ups. She’s a treasure, and wasn’t expecting any payment, but accepted that meat like a duck on a june bug. As a teenage babysitter I wouldn’t have been thrilled about receiving ground beef and some steaks in lieu of money I could spend at The GAP.

 

Thanks for reading! Send me an email, or comment if you fix any of these recipes and let me know how you like them!