Thursday, October 28, 2010

Recipe Share: Pumpkin Bread

It's that time of year! Of course, I love pumpkin year-round - in the summer I make pumpkin cheesecake or pumpkin ice-cream pie - but right about now I start craving some good ol' pumpkin pie or this fabulous pumpkin bread:

Pumpkin Bread
makes 2 8x4 loaves, or 1 9x5 loaf

15 oz. can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom of the loaf pan(s) with cooking spray, or grease with shortening.
2. In a large bowl, stir pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs until well mixed. In another bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients (I use a whisk to make sure everything is well-incorporated). Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture.
3. Divide the batter evenly between two 8-inch pans, or pour all into a 9-inch pan.
4. Bake 8-inch pans about 1 hour, or a 9-inch pan 1 hour, 15 minutes (or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean). Cool 15 minutes on a wire rack in the pans.
5. Flip the bread out of the pans and allow to cool on a wire rack for 2 hours (if you can wait that long!)
6. Enjoy within 4 days if stored at room temperature. Or refrigerate up to 10 days.

I love this bread warmed up in the microwave with a little cream cheese for breakfast, or with a little ice cream for dessert. If you use this recipe, let me know how it turns out for you! Let me know if you change it at all, or how you enjoy it!


Monday, October 18, 2010

Truffula Tree noteholder

My daughter's Kindgergarten room is decorated in all-things-Dr.-Seuss. So when her teacher's birthday was approaching, I wanted to make her something that would go along with the decor, but also be incredibly crafty and easy enough for my 5 year old to help put together. So the following noteholder was born:

If you are familiar with Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax", then you'll recognize those bright colored tufts as Truffula Trees (and if you are not familiar with "The Lorax" then you are really missing out on a great book)! 
This craft was super easy to make, and my daughter was able to put most of it together on her own.

1. Gather your supplies. You'll need:
  • A foam ball (size will depend on the size of your desired finished project)
  • Chenille stems aka pipecleaners - green (we used 3 varying shades, about 16 per color), 3 yellow
  • Green paint (we used 'spring green')
  • Thin feather boas in pink and green
  • Paintbrush, black permanent marker, jewelry wire (see step 2), craft knife
  • Super-excited helper (optional)
2. Using the craft knife, cut the foam ball in half. I found that the easiest way to do this was to make a slit in the foam all the way around, and then I wrapped the jewelry wire around the ball and pulled tight, and this made a perfect cut. If you have a longer craft knife I'm sure you could use that instead.
3. Paint the half of the foam ball green - perfect job for little hands - and let dry:
4. While drying, prep the chenille stems: 
     Green : Cut each stem into fourths (we didn't do exact measurements, just folded in half twice and cut). Then take each fourth and fold in half without cutting - this leaves the 2 "pointy" sides together so that the finished product won't have any sharp edges).
     Yellow: These will become the trunks of your truffula trees. Take a bit of a feather boa and wind into a loose ball, then wrap the chenille stem around the middle of the ball, bend the stem around the center of the ball, and then twist the ends tightly to secure it in place (see below). Then, use the permanent marker to draw random and slightly haphazard black lines on it. 
 5. Place the finished trees into the foam ball by poking the stems into the foam. No need to glue!
6. Add the green "grass" by poking the pointy ends of the green stems into the foam ball around the trees. We didn't use any sort of system on this step, we just started adding them randomly and filling in 'gaps' as needed.
7. Write a fun note on a small scrap of paper and smoosh it between the blades of grass, then show it off, because it's SO ADORABLE!