Blueberry Broccoli Avocado Salad with Poppyseed Ranch Dressing

Hi all– Should I apologize for the extra long title of this salad??– I just wanted you to know the yummy components and plus also the lovely dressing on top!

Took this salad along to my brother’s house for our Easter dinner.  And liked it so much we had it again last night!  It’s bright and fresh and I can say it works well with Easter ham or a slice of mushroom pizza!

BLUEBERRY BROCCOLI AVOCADO  SALAD

Salad:
5 cups of your favorite salad greens
1/2 cup broccoli, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Poppyseed Ranch Dressing:
1/2 cup unflavored yogurt
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. tarragon vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. poppy seeds
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Layer the salad ingredients in a pretty bowl.

Then stir together the ingredients  for the dressing until they are thoroughly blended.  It makes more dressing than we needed on our salad, so there’s more in the fridge for another day.

Pecan Pie Coffee Cake

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Hello– I love those industrial size bags of pecans from Costco.  A couple years, my mom has given me Costco bags of pecans and walnuts for a birthday gift (she knows what I love!) and it feels luxurious having all those nuts ahead in the cupboard.  Sad to say, making this cake, I poured out at the last dregs of pecans. Time to restock!

And the cake– sweet and rich because you poke holes in the baked cake to let the “pie sauce” seep down inside.  And then there’s all those pecans!!  Perfect for breakfast coffee, or add a scoop of ice cream for a fine dessert.

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PECAN PIE COFFEE CAKE

Cake:
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unflavored yogurt
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1  1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup buttermilk*

Topping:
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 egg
garnish:  powdered sugar

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To make the cake, beat together the 1/4 cup butter, sugar, yogurt, egg and vanilla with an electric mixture until it’s smooth.  Then beat in the flour, baking powder  and salt.  Finally beat in the buttermilk.

Spoon the batter into a 9″ cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put it into a 350 degree  oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until it is firm to the touch.

For the topping, mix together the corn syrup, brown sugar, melted butter, pecans and egg until it’s thoroughly blended.

Poke holes into the cake with the handle end of a wooden spoon.  Then drizzle the pecan topping over the cake, letting the syrupy part fill in the holes.

Pop the cake with the topping back into the 350 degree oven for 10 minutes more. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the cake sifting through a sieve.   Delicious served warm from the oven!

*If you don’t keep buttermilk (who does?), pour 2 tab. cider vinegar in your measuring cup and add milk to make 3/4 cup.  Let it sit a few minutes to thicken.

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Sour Cream Chocolate Pecan Bread

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Hey there friends– Maybe you know what I mean. Sometimes (think 4:00 in the afternoon) I just need a little taste of chocolate and nuts.  In an emergency there is always a handful of dark chocolate chips and a few pecans from the cupboard to see me through.

But this is really a much better solution– moist and rich and the sweet crunch of pecans.  Add a mug of tea. Perfect.

SOUR CREAM CHOCOLATE PECAN BREAD
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1  1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 sleeve (1 tsp.) instant coffee*
1/2 cup Hershey’s dark cocoa
1/2 cup buttermilk**
3/4 cup sour cream
1  1/2 cup flour
1  1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sal1 cup pecans, chopped
garnish: handful of mini chocolate chips & pecan bits

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In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs and oil.  Then mix in the vanilla, coffee, cocoa, buttermilk and sour cream.  Next stir in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Finally mix in the pecans (you can keep a few aside to sprinkle on top of the loaves)

Spoon the batter into a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan*** that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips and extra pecans on top and then bake it all in a 350 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until a small knife inserted comes out clean.

Let it sit a few minutes before cutting into slices.

*The coffee doesn’t show up in the flavor, just makes the chocolate taste so much richer.
**Buttermilk substitute– 1 tab. cider vinegar added to milk to make 1/2 cup
***I used two smaller half size loaf pans.

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Caramel Toffee Pecan Cake

 

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Hi all– Thanksgiving gone– was yours a good one?  We had the day with our daughter and all her husband’s dear family up here in San Francisco.  Good times talking around the table, passing babies from lap to lap and sampling Brian’s mom’s incredible pecan pie.  It was a sweet day all around.

And here is another pecan dessert– a little simpler than pie and large enough to feed a crowd.  There’s all those nutty pecans and sweet bits of toffee to give a little texture to this tender cake.  I think it would finish out a Christmas dinner ahead just fine.

CARAMEL TOFFEE PECAN CAKE
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups canola oil
5 eggs
3 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
8 oz. bag toffee bits
1  1/2 cups pecans, chopped (save out a few to top the cake)
1 cup caramel sauce*

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the oil, sugars, and eggs with an electric mixer.  Then beat in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Finally use the mixer to blend in the milk and continue to blend on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Stir in the toffee bits (save out a couple spoonfuls to sprinkle on top the cake) and the chopped pecans (save a few of those for on top too).

Spoon the mixture into a bundt pan or tube pan and bake at 325 degrees for 80 to 90 minutes (long time!)– until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

When you’re ready to serve the cake, drizzle on the caramel sauce and sprinkle toffee bits and pecans on top.

*The recipe I worked from told how to make your own caramel sauce from scratch.  You can mix up your own favorite1 — but I’m happy with store bought caramel- just easier!

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Pumpkin Pecan Rolls with Maple Glaze

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Hi all– How many cans of pumpkin puree have you gone through this year already?  I think it’s been a record pumpkin year for us!  Cakes, muffins, pumpkin brownies… Larry made pumpkin apple bread (one of his few, but delicious baking forays) for the Thursday kids who come while I was up in San Francisco!  We are taking full advantage of this fall pumpkin baking season.

So here is our latest.  I think people shy away from making yeast rolls (I’m talking cinnamon rolls, orange rolls, sticky buns!!) because they think it’s difficult.  It’s not.  But it does take some time around the house.  Fifteen minute dough tending with long stretches of dough rising (so you can read a book or fold some laundry).  So if you have a quiet Saturday morning at home, and you want your kitchen to smell scrumptious, I’d recommend a go at these tender, delicious pumpkin pecan rolls.

PUMPKIN PECAN ROLLS WITH MAPLE GLAZE

Dough:
1 pkg. dry yeast (1 tablespoon)
1 cup milk (warmed to 120-130 degrees)*
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
3  1/2 cups flour

Filling:
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted & cooled
4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pecans, chopped

Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tab. pure maple syrup

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Put the yeast in a large heat proof mixing bowl (glass is best).  Stir in the warm milk until the yeast is dissolved.  Then add in the sugar, salt, oil and egg.  Mix together.  Next about 1/2 cup at a time, stir in the flour.  When it’s all mixed, knead the dough just 3 or 4 minutes.  If the dough gets sticky, add a bit more flour.

Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel and set it in a warm place to rise and hour & 15 minutes. (I heat the oven to 200 degrees for just 3 minutes and then turn it off while I’m mixing up the dough– then set the bowl in the warmed oven to rise)

While the dough is rising. mix together the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, melted butter, pumpkin pie spice and pecans.  Set them aside.

Take the dough out and punch it down and lift from the bowl to a counter sprinkled with flour.  Roll out the dough with a rolling pin util you have a rectangle about 10″ by 18″.   Then spread the pumpkin mixture over the rolled out dough clear to the edges.

Starting at the long 18″ upper edge, roll the dough toward you until you have a long tube shaped roll.  Then cut the rolls into 1″ slices and put them in a 9″x13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  (or–I used 2 10″ tart pans instead.)  Makes about 18 rolls.

If you have a little handful of extra pecans, sprinkle them on top and pop the rolls into the slightly warm oven to rise for 45 minutes more.

At the end of the 2nd rise of 45 minutes, turn up the heat to 375 degrees and make the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes until they are nicely browned.

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While they are baking, whisk together the powdered sugar and 2 or 3 tablespoons of maple syrup (depending on how thick you want your glaze to be).  When the rolls come out of the oven, let them cool about 10 minutes and then drizzle the glaze over the rolls.  They taste heavenly, eaten warm from the oven!

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*I put the milk in the microwave for 45 to 60 seconds.  It should feel just warm enough for a baby’s bath.

Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding

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Hello all-  It’s October– the start of my favorite baking season!  I picked up some cans of pumpkin at the market and so far it’s been pumpkin bread, pumpkin cinnamon rolls, pumpkin cake and this– pumpkin bread pudding.  What’s next?? Pumpkin pizza???!!  just joking– maybe.

So when the weather gets crisper, it’s perfect to serve this cozy warm dessert.  (Though actually we are still waiting for some crispy weather here in So California!!– we’ll just have to imagine a chill in the air!)  In either case, I think you might like a homey dessert about now…

PUMPKIN SPICE BREAD PUDDING

Pecan Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 tab. flour
3 tab. butter, room temperature*
1/2 cup pecans, chopped to bits (or a little more if you love pecan like I do!)

French toast:
1 unsliced loaf plain white bread**
8 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice***
2 tab. white sugar
15 oz. can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup milk

Caramel sauce & ice cream!!

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To make the topping layer, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and flour.  The cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 forks until it resembles coarse crumbs.  The stir in the chopped pecans. Set this aside for later.

Cut the bread into 1 inch cubes with a serrated knife (so it won’t come out squashed).

Then in another mixing bowl whisk the eggs until they are blended and frothy.  Stir in the vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and white sugar until blended.  Then mix in the pumpkin pie puree and milk until it’s all well combined.

Spray a 9″x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray.  Drop in all the bread cubes.  Pour the pumpkin mixture over the bread and gently mix it all in the baking dish until the breads coated with pumpkin.

Sprinkle the pecan topping over the top with your fingers to break it up and coat the whole thing evenly.

Pop it into a 350 oven for 30 to 40 minutes until the bread pudding is set and golden brown on top.  Best to eat it warm with a little maple syrup (for brunch) or with caramel and a plop of whipped cream or ice cream (for dessert after dinner).  Enjoy!

Here it is straight from the oven:
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*When you grab it from the fridge, just microwave it for 10-12 seconds to warm it a bit.
**I like the big spongey unsliced grocery store loaf–or a soft white challah bread…
***If you don’t have P.P.spice– use 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 cloves, 1/2 nutmeg.  And if you live near a Trader Joe’s– this is the time of year they sell their $2 bottles of pumpkin pie spice.  It’s great and cheap.  I buy a few to last all year…

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

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Hi friends– It’s September and the oven has been put back to good use around.  I’ve been baking up a storm.  And nothing smells so good coming out of the oven as something laced with cinnamon.  This little muffins are kind of second cousin to cinnamon rolls, lots of the same flavor and the crunchy nuts, but a whole lot less time and effort is involved.

I made them for our lovable group of 20 & 30 something’s who come in on Thursday nights– and the muffins all disappeared!  I love baking for those guys– such an appreciative group of eaters.  And just all around fun to spend an evening with them.

CINNAMON ROLL MUFFINS

Topping:
1 cup brown sugar
1 tab. cinnamon
1  1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
3 tab. melted butter

Muffins:
2 cups flour
1 tab. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 cup milk

Frosting:
2 oz. cream cheese (1/4 of a block), softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tab. milk
few drops of vanilla

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First make the topping.  Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts.  Then completely fold in the melted butter.  Set this aside for later.

For the muffins, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Then mix in the oil, egg and milk.  (The batter will be stiff.)  Take 1/2 cup of the brown sugar topping mixture and stir it into the batter.

Use muffin papers or spray a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray– then scoop the batter into the muffin tin.  Put of spoonful of the brown sugar topping on top of each muffin, patting it down a bit with the spoon to make it stick well to the batter.

Bake them up at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes until firm to the touch.

While they are baking, make the frosting.  I softened the cream cheese in the microwave for a few seconds.  Then with a whisk, beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk and the vanilla.  If the frosting seems runny enough to drizzle over the muffins from a spoon, that’s great!  If it is too thick, add the second spoon of milk and blend it completely.

Drizzle that luscious frosting over the muffins, hot from the oven and enjoy that cinnamon smell while you do it!  Scrumptious eaten with friends and mugs of tea.

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