Tag: walnuts

Pumpkin Spice Loaf

Pumpkin Spice Loaf

It’s officially been fall for a few days now and I can’t say that I mind. I always welcome the cooler weather and this year is no exception. I even have a new pair of brown corduroys in my dresser drawer that are calling out for a long fall walk in the woods with the camera, (perhaps wearing one of these? Love them, must order one!). However today’s rain (and wind warning), not to mention a case of the sniffles, has kept me indoors.

Not surprisingly, as a devoted lover of almost all things Autumn, pumpkin is one of my most favourite flavours so I don’t really mind that it seems to be everywhere: as soon as Labour Day passes, every bakeshop, coffee shop and restaurant adds this iconic squash to its menus. Lucky me, it is only a matter of weeks before my Uncle Rick will harvest the pumpkins from the pumpkin patch that crawls around the front garden of his house and make is famous pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving.  Light as air and boldly spiked with bourbon, his homegrown pumpkin pie in home made pastry is dessert perfection.

Hmm. I wonder if he’ll share the recipe …

Seriously though, I likely won’t be making from-scratch pumpkin pies this year, but I am certainly following suit with plans for a savoury sage-laden pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin soup and a pumpkin trifle, all of which I will share here in the coming weeks.

Until then, I have this sturdy pumpkin loaf to share. It’s nicely spiced with a clean, bright pumpkin flavour and the recipe is large, yielding 2 hefty loaves so there is plenty to share (or freeze for yourself for later). I hope you enjoy this recipe, woolly socks and hot tea, optional.


Pumpkin Spice Loaf 

adapted from a recipe from King Arthur Flour

Preheat oven to 350° and grease 2 loaf pans

Whisk together in a medium bowl:

3 -1/2 C all purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground all spice

1/2 tsp salt

In another larger bowl, mix the following until well combined, stirring after each addition:

2 cups canned pumpkin puree (plain pumpkin — not pumpkin pie filling)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 -3/4 C sugar

1/4 C sour cream

3/4 C vegetable oil

1/2 C milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp hazelnut extract (double the vanilla if you don’t have hazelnut)

Once the wet ingredients are well incorporated, add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. Fold in:

1-1/2 C finely chopped walnuts

Spoon batter equally between the 2 prepared loaf pans. Top with:

1/4 C green pumpkin seeds (pepitas), divided

2 Tbsp sugar, divided

Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to mostly cool in the pan then turn out onto a wire cooling rack.

Grilled Cheese with Walnuts and Spinach

Some things just deserve the adjective “classic”. The iconic ‘little black dress’ that almost every woman owns and feels fabulous in, an ice cold gin martini (shaken, not stirred) and Stairway to Heaven (on vinyl, loud enough to wake the neighbours) all come to mind. If you think of edible things (beyond the martini) a grilled cheese sandwich certainly fits onto that list too.

Some might say that ‘the classics’ shouldn’t be altered or updated. I think that’s all a matter of taste. This sandwich, for instance, is far from the classic grilled cheese. But what defines ‘classic’? I happen to know a few individuals who will tell you that the best, most ‘classic’ grilled cheese sandwiches are made with processed cheese slices. I am not one of them.

Since it’s all subjective, you may as well keep things interesting. This crazy sandwich certainly accomplishes that! The inspiration/recipe came from my Uncle Rick, who read about it in a magazine (not sure which one) and was interpreted for dinner recently by my Aunt April.  What makes it so good? So different? A few small tweaks and additions, but primarily the addition of ….walnuts!

Think about it: Nuts and cheese are great together. So are bread and cheese. So are spinach and walnuts. So are cheese and spinach. Theoretically, all these things should be fantastic together. It’s a no brainer.

I’m not going to walk you through a grilled cheese sandwich tutorial, but I will leave you with a few hints:

  • Don’t butter the outside of the bread, go for broke and use mayonnaise instead.
  • Toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan and chop them coarsely.
  • Put cheese on both sides and let it melt, open faced
  • Press the walnuts into both cheesey surfaces
  • Sandwich fresh spinach in the middle while the cheese and nuts are still hot so the spinach wilts
  • Don’t limit yourself to cheddar — get creative
  • Use a good grainy bread

So get out a pan, crank the Led Zeppelin and enjoy!

Double Chocolate Cookies with Walnuts

I don’t enjoy making cookies. That may seem weird coming from a food blogger but it’s true. I find them tedious. All the scooping, the multiple batches, forget it! Or if you’re rolling them, and cutting them?  Even worse! I’d much rather make something that cooks all as one in one dish. The problem with cookies is that even if you don’t like making them, you probably like eating them. These are no exception.

Much like when we discussed brownies and how brownie lovers fall into two camps, likewise, cookie fans (monsters?) seem to be divided as well between chewy and crisp. Not me. “Cakey” all the way.

If I’m incredibly honest, I have to admit that I didn’t necessarily know these would be perfectly cakey. I’m not that scientific with baking and this was a free form, no recipe to base it on, guess-work type adventure. I did know they wouldn’t be crisp, but as I began to dollop the extremely soft dough onto the pans, I wondered if they would strike that perfect chord of moist, cake-like and soft. It must have been a lucky day, because they did.

Double Chocolate Cookies with Walnuts

1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup of sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon of vanilla

1 1/2 cups of flour

1/3 of a cup of cocoa

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1/4 cup of milk

Cream the butter and sugar together.

Add the vanilla. Add the egg and mix until light in colour and very light, about 2 minutes.

Combine the dry ingredients and incorporate them into the butter/sugar/egg mixture in 2 parts, alternating with the milk.

Chop the chocolate into rough chunks and shards.

Chop the walnuts as well and stir both into the batter.

Once it’s fully combined the dough will be quite soft. Scoop it by rounded tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees. The cookies won’t spread too much, and they will be dry on top and slightly puffed when they are baked.

Quinoa Salad

I won’t tell you how disappointed I was when I learned that “quinoa” is not pronounced phonetically, but is pronounced ‘keen-WAH’ . Saying ‘quin-OH-ah’ sounds so much more elegant, almost more apt for such a small, delicate grain. But what quinoa lacks in size it more than makes up for in nutrition. It is a powerhouse! Tons of protein and fibre can be found in this ancient grain and it adds some interest to the plate since it changes things up a bit as a nice alternative to rice when served hot. Here it stands in for cous cous in a cold tabuleh-style salad. This is great on its own as a light meal but would also go well with meats or fish.

Quinoa Salad

1 cup of uncooked quinoa

1 cup of raw edamame

1 cup of chopped cucumber

1 cup of raw zucchini

1 cup of toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

For the Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, sliced

4 tbsp. olive oil

Cook the quinoa in 1-1/2 cups of water, as you would rice. .

While it cooks, chop the vegetables and walnuts and set them aside. Make the vinaigrette in a large bowl by combining all the ingredients and whisking until it is emulsified.

If your edamame are frozen, like mine were, let them stand in hot water (hot from the tap) for a few minutes. This will not cook them, but will defrost them rather quickly.

Once the quinoa is cooked, dump it into the dressing and stir well. Allow the quinoa to cool and absorb the dressing.

Once it’s room temperature, add the vegetables, walnuts and parsley. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Toss well and refrigerate for atl east 30 minutes so it is nice and cold.