Baked Pumpkin French Toast


Hello there– I have to tell you that this is one of those dishes that tastes way better than it looks!!  It’s sort of a homely little mess sitting on the plate. Looking at the photos, I thought I should just scrap this post, but then it was so yummy, I just wanted to give you to be able to give it a try!!  Please trust me on this one.

The toasty bread coated with custardy pumpkin is pretty delicious, especially hot from the oven.  With maple syrup, perfect!

BAKED PUMPKIN FRENCH TOAST
1 pound loaf French bread
6 eggs
1  1/2 cups cream or half & half
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)

Crumb Topping:
1/2 cu brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup pecans (or more if you love pecans as much as I do!)

Garnish:  lots of maple syrup!

Cut the loaf of bread into bit sized chunks.  Put it into a 9″x13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until they are blended.  Then stir in the cream, sugar, pumpkin, salt, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.  Pour the mixture over the bread.

Cover the whole thing with foil and set it into the fridge overnight.  The next morning, take it out of the fridge an hour before you want to put it into the oven, to warm a bit.

While that is sitting, make the Crumb topping by mixing together the brown sugar, flour, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Then cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until the mixture is crumbly.  Stir in the pecans and sprinkle it over the pumpkin French toast just before you pop it into the oven.

Bake the French toast for the first 30 minutes still covered with the foil at 350 degrees.  Then remove the foil and bake for 20 or 30 minutes more until the top is golden and the pumpkin filling is all set.

Serve it up hot from the oven with along with a jug of maple syrup!  I think you’ll love it!

Chipotle Chicken with Avocado Peach Salsa


Hi all– I’m happy to say I’m tucked in here in San Francisco waiting with Ani & Brian & Lois or the new baby to arrive!  It could be any day now!  (You know I’ll let you know when he arrives!)

But back to chicken– here’s dinner a couple nights ago.  Spicy chicken, with bright salsa.  It’s peach sweet, avocado creamy and a little tart from the lime juice.  With a leafy green salad and a chunk of cornbread– a good end of summer dinner.

CHIPOTLE CHICKEN WITH AVOCADO PEACH SALSA

Chicken:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 tab. flour
2 to 3 tab. Chipotle Garlic chili powder*
2 tab. olive oil

Salsa:
1 to 2 tab. chopped cilantro
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
2 tab. red onion, chopped fine
pinch salt
1/4 tsp, freshly ground black pepper
1 tab. olive oil
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, cut to chunks
1 large peach, not peeled, pitted, cut to chunks

To cook the chicken, heat the olive oil in a medium high skillet.  Then cut the chicken breasts horizontally to make 4 thinner chicken filets.

Mix the flour and Chipotle chili powder together in a flat bowl and dredge the chicken in the mixture on both sides before dropping it into the hot oil.  Cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side until the chicken is well browned and cooked through.

To make the salsa, mix the cilantro, lime juice, red onion, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Then cut in the peach and avocado.  Mix it and spoon the salsa over the cooked chicken hot from the pan.  Enjoy!

*The flavored chili powder was McCormick brand– but any chili powder would be good.

 

Piles of Thankfulness


Hey there– I was scrolling through facebook last week and came across a post from Amit, one of the smartest, most inventive, intentional people.  It was his birthday and he asked friends to leave a comment of something they were thankful for –as a gift to him.

He started it up–being thankful for a day on the playground with his nephew.  And he promised to donate $1 to an organization that helps small businesses around the world for each thankful comment.

It was heartening to read through the piles of thankful comment thoughts–  Matt was thankful to be a parent, the most humbling and rewarding experience he’s had so far.  Duane, thankful to be able to use and move his body.  Alex mentioned beaches and friends.  And Grace was thankful for the internet and instantaneous communication between friends.  Melissa talked about the luxury of a home. Cold coconut water and new babies and rainstorms also made the list… I added our beautiful, soul lifting hikes in Sequoia.

I checked back today and Amit had donated $175 for all those thankful thoughts.

It made me think again how wonderful (in the true sense of wonder) it is to review all that we can be thankful for.  I want to pile up reason upon reason to be thankful, to thank God for all those things big and small–to be overwhelmed with that wonder and thankfulness.

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.”  –Psalm 107:1

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”    — Colossians 3:17

And a favorite quote from George Herbert (Welsh, 1590-1633)
“Thou that hast giv’n so much to me,
Give one thing more, a grateful heart.”

P.S.  photo–walking to the swimming hole on our camping trip a couple weeks ago.

Fruity Farro Salad with Honey Lime Dressing


HI all– I’m hoping summer is cooling down here– but we are still big on summer salads and with nectarines and strawberries beautiful and ripe these days, here was a recent supper.  A splash of farro and sprinkling of garbanzos gave it some heft and balanced out the sweet fruit and creamy avocado.  With the tart lime dressing and a chunk of walnut Levain bread– delicious!

FRUITY FARRO SALAD WITH HONEY LIME DRESSING

Salad:
1/2 cup farro
3 cups greens
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup garbanzo beans
1 nectarine, cut to small chunks
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1 avocado, cut to small chunks
1/4 cup salted almonds, chopped

Dressing:
3 tab. olive oil
1  1/2 tab. lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. honey
salt & freshly grond pepper to taste

Cook the farro according to the directions on the package (mine simmered 10 minutes with 1 cup water and a pinch of salt).  Drain off any extra water.  Cool.

To make the dressing, put the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, honey, salt and pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake briskly until it’s thoroughly combined.  (If you let it sit, the honey may sink to the bottom, so shake it again just before you pour it on the salad).

Layer the greens, cilantro, garbanzo beans, farro, nectarine, strawberries, avocado,, and almonds on a platter.  Pour on the dressing when you are ready to eat.  Enjoy!

Kings Canyon– family vacay, part 2


Hi friends– wanted to add a few more pictures (or maybe a lot more pictures!) of our family camp trip– to Sequoia and also Kings Canyon National Parks.  So much beauty (and so much fun)– Just tucking it all in here to look back on.

Micah led us on a gorgeous hike around Zumwalt Meadow– along the river, skirting the meadow, up and over granite hills.
     

     

     

     

Then we headed over to the Road’s End–where the pool’s deep enough for a swim– and a crazy jump off of a huge boulder into the water–John you’re courageous!!
      

One morning, we trekked down from our campsite to the General Grant Tree– past stands of redwoods and along a meadow’s edge to see the giant Sequoia!

   

      

And there were campground meals, noisy card games, naps, late night hot chocolate, walks for ice cream, a campfire Ranger Talk and just hanging around our little cluster of cabins at Grants Grove.

     

If you’re still reading– thanks!!  Just remembering all the sweet times with our kids and the beauty all around us (Thanks John for your amazing photo of the Milky Way above the trees).  So thankful.

Peach Pecan Bread


Hey all– I just can’t resist picking over the piles of peaches and nectarines every time I hit the market.  It’s one of the best parts of August (compensation for the heat??!).  We’ve been eating them every day.

Here’s a little loaf I baked, for friends who came to brunch this week.  And I found it it’s even yummier toasted in the toaster oven the next day–sweet and peachy ad crunchy around the edges!

PEACH PECAN BREAD
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
2 large peaches, peeled, pitted, cut to chunks
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup whole milk (or half & half)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder

Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 to 2 tab. whole milk or half & half

Peel and cut up the peaches.  Set aside.  Chop the pecans.  Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, milk, oil and eggs.  Then mix in the flour, salt and baking powder.  The batter will be a bit dry.  Then fold in the peaches and pecans until it is thoroughly blended.

Spoon the batter into a standard 9″x5″ loaf pan (or I used two smaller half size pans).  Pop them into a 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes, until a sharp knife inserted comes out clean.

Let the bread cool 20 minutes (or more) and the whisk together the powdered sugar and milk for the glaze, and drizzle it over the bread.  Slice & eat!!

Family Trek through the Sequoias!


Hi all– Just back from 5 days with family at Sequoia National Park.  Growing up, every summer, my Mom and Dad would stash 4 kids and piles of camping gear in the station wagon, and head up the interstate to Sequoia. So it was big fun to do it again with my Sis and some of our kids!!

We set out one morning to hike our way around bright and brilliant Crescent Meadow (an old favorite for me and my Sis, Lulu!)

      

     

Midway around the meadow, we found a quiet spot to stop for lunch and a chance to rest our hiking feet!  And then on we trekked…

      

We finally arrived at Tharpe’s Log– a fallen redwood tree that became the home to the first settler in that area, who raised sheep in the adjacent meadow.

     

It was a fine full day–and being immersed in such beauty filled my soul.  I was thanking God for the glorious views all around me.

      


Thanks bunches to Charlotte, Micah, Jodi, Maryann, Larry, Jobay, Laurel & John (and Ted & Lu!)  for being the best adventurous, intrepid hiking buddies.  Let’s do it again!!