Monday, November 21, 2011

Breakfast Pumpkin Challah Bread Parfait

I love fall so much.

But I love pumpkin more.

What's not to love? It's so amazingly versatile - from soups to souffles, to smoothies and whatever else the blogging world dreams up each autumn. And this year (like every year, haha), I may or may not have become obsessed with pumpkin recipes. So much so, in fact, that I have a page dedicated just to pumpkin recipes on the Note app on my iPhone.

 (Heh. Yes, I finally have one. Perk of the 4G coming out = AT&T giving the 3G away free to anyone who eligble for an upgrade.)

Ahem. I digress. Pumpkin...yes, my beloved fall squash. It's quite possibly my favorite vegetable, up there with fresh baby spinach.

 As I had half a loaf of pumpkin harvest challah bread left, my tastebuds and mind were collaborating to see how many recipes I could come up with to use the leftovers.

 Among the many that sprang to mind was one I was especially eager to try. Pumpkin and banana fro-yo parfait.

Banana soft serve - or "fro-yo" as I call it, because it reminds me of frozen yogurt - is created by simply blending a frozen peeled banana with a tiny amount of milk. It transforms into a silky, decadent-tasting yet oh-so-healthy treat reminiscent of ice cream.

 I make banana fro-yo at least four times a week, so when I was pondering what to pair with the pumpkin challah bread, I had a lightbulb moment. Pumpkin challah bread layered with banana fro-yo, almost like a mousse parfait.


This was so, so unbelievably good. I could not stop "mmmm"ing while spooning it into my mouth. I couldn't believe how mind-blowingly good such a simple dish was.

Breakfast Pumpkin Challah Bread Parfait

  • 2 slices leftover Pumpkin Harvest Challah bread
  • 1 frozen banana, peeled
  • 1/2-1 c. milk (I used soy since that was what I had)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • handful of ice
  • 2 Tbsp. pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds (optional)
  •  dried cranberries
  • buckwheat groats
  • coconut butter
  • nut butter 
  • nutmeg and cinnamon 
1. Toast pumpkin challah bread slices. You want them nice and crispy with a bit of a crunch so they don't become soggy quickly in the banana soft serve.

2. Add ice, banana, milk, cinnamon, and chia seeds if using (I was out) to blender. Blend until creamy and smoothie. Go easy on the milk and add a little bit at a time as needed. You want the consistency to be thick like ice cream or frozen yogurt. When you can spoon it up, it's perfect. But don't panic if yours is more liquidy than that. It's your show so make your banana fro-yo how you want it!

3. Cube the toasted bread and place a third of the pieces in the bottom of a parfait glass. (I used a margarita glass because I'm classy like that - and it was pretty. ;) Add a spoonful of pumpkin and 1/3 of the banana fro-yo on top. Repeat, adding a sprinkle of dried cranberries. Make your final layer on top, saving a few bread cubes to crumble on top.

4. Decorate with toppings! I sprinkled more dried cranberries, buckwheat groats (so delightfully crunchy), the last third of pumpkin, coconut butter, and a special nut butter - Nuuuutzo!

Mmmmm.....heaven in a glass. Look at that cool, creamy, silky soft serve overflowing and dripping down the side. It just begs to be licked, like a melting ice cream cone.

This is the perfect breakfast to celebrate the start of  the Thanksgiving holidays.

Here's to a indulgent, healthy holiday. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Harvest Challah Bread

Bread, bread, glorious bread.....

I woke up Wednesday morning with one thing in my mind: challah bread.

 Not just any plain-Jane, regular challah bread....pumpkin challah bread.

 Studded with pumpkin seeds and tart dried cranberries, this tastes like Fall in the best possible way. Sweet and dense with a gentle chewy crust and soft, pumpkin interior, it tastes as good as it looks!

 I made two variations: one with pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. For the second, I used molasses instead of honey for a rich, dark, spicy taste; I also added pecans and raisins.

The loaf with molasses is the one in the upper right-hand corner. As you can tell, the molasses gives it a darker, almost caramelized-brown-sugar shade. The version with raisins and molasses was a tad sweeter from the raisins. My personal favorite was the cranberry pepita loaf by far. The cranberries gave it a candied tartness that went well with the moist pumpkin flavor.

Pumpkin Harvest Challah Bread - Two Ways
Adapted from Simple Bites
Yield: Each recipe makes 2 smaller loaves. I made one batch and used maple syrup for half, and mollasses for the other. After they baked, I tasted both, then froze one loaf. If you want to freeze it, place loaf/loaves in ziplock bag, date the bag, and pop in freezer. I recommend slicing the bread beforehand. That way you can toast a frozen slice anytime a craving strikes.
Pumpkin Cranberry Challah:
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup  
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 
  • 4 cups flour, plus more for dusting and kneading
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4-1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

  1. Add maple syrup, water (make sure it's warm!), and yeast in a large bowl. Whisk together and let stand for 10 minutes until you see foam.  
  2. Stir in pumpkin puree, salt, and spices. Add three cups of the flour and mix until well incorporated. Add remaining flour, a little at a time, until dough is only slightly sticky to the touch. Stir in dried cranberries and pepitas.
  3. Sprinkle counter with flour and plump the dough onto it. Knead, adding flour as needed, until the dough is smooth. Roll into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise two hours, or until doubled in size.
(Note: I let mine rise overnight in the fridge. In the morning, I took it out, punched it down, let it come to room tempeture and rise for 30 minutes. Then I slid it in the oven. Next time, I'd let it rise in a pan over a pot of boiling water.)
  1. Punch down dough and turn out onto flour-covered counter. Divide dough in half; set one half aside. For each half, divide into three approximately equal pieces.
  2. Form pieces into long snakelike strands, about 12 inches long. Braid together strands and tuck both ends under the loaf. Carefully place on a greased or covered with parchment paper baking sheet. Repeat for remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using a baking stone, start your preheat when you begin the second rise. Beat egg and brush over the bread, and sprinkle on seeds, if using. Put loaves in oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

Like this.....Have you ever seen such a beautiful crust?

Pumpkin Molasses and Raisin Challah Bread

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup molasses 
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 
  • 4 cups flour, plus more for dusting and kneading
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup dried raisins, soaked in water for 20 minutes
  • 1/2 cup pecans
Same recipe and directions as above, only substitute molasses for maple syrup and raisins + pecans instead of cranberries and pepitas. 

Look at that braided end! It's so cute I want to keep it forever....well, forever as in the 5 minutes before I get hungry again. This post is making me hungry - my stomach is literally growling as I type this, and demanding some of this bread right now.

Oh yum.

Holy, heavenly yum. A slice of this, slathered with butter sounds utterly amazing right now.
But don't just take my word for it - go make it right now. It is so simple. If you let the dough rise overnight in the fridge, all you have to do the next morning is let it come to room tempature and rise, braid it, and bake!

Your house will smell like fall and Thanksgiving.

Go make this tonight and enjoy for breakfast tomorrow, for lunch as an almond butter and jam sandwich, alongside soup and salad for dinner, or just toasted and spread with butter as a snack. Then come back and thank me later. ;)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Happiness an impromptu trip to Houston. :D

A grilled portobello mushroom panini wrap. Guacamole, juicy mushrooms, and pico de gallo. I die.

A community salad, from Jason's Deli's swoon-worthy salad bar, shared five ways.

....and a cup of ice cream topped off with granola, dried cranberries, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and a crumbled gingerbread muffin. Le sigh.

I'm stuffed to the almond-butter-jar-brim, and floating on a close of bliss. Food baby? You bet. I only wish I could curl up and drift off to sleep now instead of driving home. But that's what Starbucks is for. Evening expresso? Yes, please. ;)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Planning Meals that are Quick, Easy, and Unbelievably Scrumptious


Yes, I am aware that it has been terribly long since my last update, but that's Life, no?

Anyhoo, tonight I thought I'd post some of my favorite breakfasts...and lunches. And dinners. One of my favorite things to do is plan my meals - it saves so much time that can be wasted in the "What-do-I-eat?" moments...also, it's just plain fun, because then I look forward to that day all week, because then I'll get to eat that day's dish! :)

These lovely girls, Elisabeth and Ariel, are two of my closest friends. Not only do we love the same books, clothes, movies, etc, but they (and their amazing family) are total foodies, like me! Cake is beloved by all three of us. ;) I told Ariel I'd do a post on meals, so here goes.

I'll start off with breakfast...

I usually have a yogurt bowl - Greek yogurt with banana, apple/any fruit, granola or raw oatmeal, flaxseed and wheat germ, plus nut butter.

This baby is a grilled banana sandwich, which Caitlin at HTP created - french toast sammie with a grilled banana in between...I added some almond butter too

SIAB - known as Smoothie In A Bowl. Kath came up with this - I love it because it's so fun to have smoothies in different ways: bowls, cups, mugs, jars....the possibilities are endless. :)

Oooooats! My one true love...

Recipe~ 'Cause Ariel asked - just for you, girl... ;)

1/4 cup of oatmeal
1/2 milk, 1/2 cup water
1 tsp. flaxseed
1 tsp. chia seeds
pinch of sea salt

Stir together in small pot over med-high heat. Cook for about 5 minutes until oatmeal looks nearly done. Throw in a splash (1 tsp.) vanilla and a few shakes of cinnamon. Add half a sliced banana and stir quickly to "whip" your oats together. Pour in a bowl, top with almond butter or pb...Mmmmm. Heaven in a bowl. granola and dried cranberries/blueberries are also amazing. :)

Hehehe...this was a more decadent bowl of oats - in a nearly empty Nutella jar! :D

1/2 of whole wheat waffle -recipe from Ariel's and Elisabeth's mom!- with banana, granola, and ab, and a grapefruit + milk on the side

Whole wheat English muffin with ab, pomagranant arils, coconut, and banana

So I hope you have a few different ideas for breakfast now. These are only a few of my favorites - there's sooo many more. The best part? You have all the mornings of the rest of your life to try them. :)