Friday, May 22, 2009

Monday :: Baking Day with Amy

Monday of this week my sweet sister-in-love Amy joined me for an afternoon of baking. She's a good sport and loves to bake and make a mess in the kitchen like I do, so I think we make a pretty good team.

My goal was to use up the last of the frozen pumpkin, zucchini, and squash and the pumpkins I had recently cooked and pureed from storage...which amounted to quite a bit!

Before Amy came, I made two batches of zucchini bread:

The first was using a basic recipe containing nuts and coconut. I doubled it to make two loaves. It was good! I highly recommend it slathered with cream cheese.

Next, I whipped up two loaves of this chocolate zucchini bread. Okay people, if you have never tasted chocolate zucchini bread before I feel sad for you. I will definitely use that recipe again; the bread turned out very moist and chocolaty.

When Amy arrived, I began mixing up four pie crusts for two pumpkin pies and two squash pies. My pumpkin/squash pie recipe is an oldie but goodie from my mom's Joy of Cooking. This is the pumpkin pie of my youth. Oh wait, I'm still young. This is the pumpkin pie of my past, present, and future. It's ageless. Joy of Cooking just knows how to do it. (Look for the recipe at the bottom of this post.)

Meanwhile, Amy began mixing up a double batch (4 loaves!) of Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread, otherwise known as the Mosher's Famous Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread. My friends the Moshers know how to make fabulous cookies and pumpkin bread, among other treats, and this recipe is a winner.

However, after making the chocolate zucchini bread I was out of chocolate chips. I was kind of winging it, looking up recipes online and in my recipe box as the inspiration struck. Not a lot of planning went into that afternoon, just a panicked realization that I had to use all that pumpkin and squash up or I would go crazy!

I did have butterscotch chips on hand, so we made two loaves with those and with the remaining two loaves we (I'm starting to giggle here because this was pure genius) added a cream cheese filling!

Now, after this things start to get fuzzy. I remember a lot of pumpkin splatters everywhere, and a film of powdered sugar and flour covered the kitchen as well. We mixed up some batches of pumpkin pie filling for the freezer, minus the evaporated milk (I ran out, of course). Now, when we want to make a pumpkin pie, we just thaw out our little Ziploc bag, whip in some milk, and bake it in a pie shell! With the remaining pumpkin, we made Pioneer Woman's Pumpkin Butter. We froze some too, with everything except the yogurt. Like the pie filling, it will be a cinch to mix in a little yogurt before serving.

I think that covers it. After dinner (which my good friend Rowena made, delivered, and served!), we all tested the pies to determine the difference between pumpkin and squash. We didn't really notice a difference, except the pumpkin pie was perhaps a little creamier since I pureed all the ingredients in a blender.

Amy was amazing. She calculated how to mega multiply recipes (my brain was fried) and contributed some stoneware and a nice, big Pampered Chef cooling rack to help out. Plus, she brought her cute baby Ryley and a bag of sugar, among other things.

Oh, and we used over three dozen fresh farm eggs! What an afternoon.

Mosher's Famous Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Combine in medium bowl:
3 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves

In a large bowl, cream the following:
2 sticks butter or margarine OR 1 cup oil
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs

Spoon dry mixture into creamed mixture slowly, alternately with 1 1/2 cup pumpkin, beginning and ending with dry. Mix well. Stir in:
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 package chocolate chips

Divide batter into 2 greased small loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min-1 hour.

And now for the fabulous filling~

Cream Cheese Filling

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 Tbsp sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Store any extra filling in the refrigerator until ready to use. Keeps for several weeks.
You can use this as a filling in your favorite brownie recipe, nut bread, coffeecakes, pumpkin bread, etc.

Pumpkin or Squash Pie

Line a pie pan with your favorite pie dough.
Mix until well blended:
2 cups cooked or canned pumpkin or squash
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk or rich cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger (I prefer 1/8-1/4 tsp ginger)
1/4 tsp nutmeg or allspice (we sometimes use both or 1/2 tsp of one or the other)
1/8 tsp cloves
2 eggs

Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then lover oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake30-45 minutes longer or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

Serve with whipped cream if you like!

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