Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread with Walnuts & Raisins

One of my mom’s best friends shared her recipe for this special pumpkin bread with me. I first tried it last year over the holidays and absolutely loved it. She recommended using olive oil and whole wheat flour. I used olive oil and half whole wheat pastry flour this time. 🙂 It was incredibly moist and delicious.

I made one loaf in a standard loaf pan and the other in my new Nordic Ware fluted loaf pan to make it that much more special. I froze the special loaf to serve over Thanksgiving weekend. I love recipes that make one batch to enjoy right away and another for later- or to share.

Yield: 2 standard loaves

  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 15 to 16 oz can pumpkin purée (about 2 cups)
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pans. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  3. Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl with a spout.
  4. Blend in the oil and water.
  5. Add and whisk in the pumpkin purée.
  6. In a separate large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.
  7. Add the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; whisk to combine.
  8. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the pumpkin-egg mixture. Mix until just combined.
  9. Fold in the nuts and raisins.
  10. Using a ladle, disperse the batter between the two loaf pans.
  11. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the bread tests clean in the center. (I baked mine for 62 minutes on convection.)
  12. Cool on a rack in the pans; remove when cool.

Perfect Apple Pie

This pie is Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen’s updated Perfect Apple Pie to her “Even More Perfect Apple Pie.” I had to try it because the filling is loaded with an enormous amount of apples. Yum.

She introduced me to a new technique which I was very surprised to have never seen before or thought of myself! She covers the pie with a foil dome to prevent the crust from over-browning. Absolute genius.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. The updated pie recipe modifies the baking temperature and cooking time, increases volume of apples (with a link on how to choose pie apples), decreases the thickness of the apple slices, omits the lemon juice and zest, and uses tapioca as the thickener.

The incredible mound of apple filling keeps the finished pie from becoming concave after baking. Beautiful and delicious.

Yield: Serves 8 to 12

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup (95 grams) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnnamon
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to taste, or about 1/4 teaspoon ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 pounds baking apples (I used a combination of several types of apples)
  • 3 T tapioca flour or starch (I used minute tapioca)

For the Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups (315 grams) flour
  • 1 T (15 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, optional
  • coarse or raw sugar for sprinkling, optional

To Serve:

  • vanilla ice cream, optional

Make the Filling:

  1. Combine sugars, salt, and spices in your absolutely largest bowl.
  2. Peel, halve, and core your apples and cut them into thin (scant 1/4-inch) slices, adding them right to the big bowl.
  3. Toss to coat the slices as much as possible. Set aside for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature.

Make the Crust:

  1. Gather your ingredients: Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside.
  2. In a large, very wide bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.
  3. Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. (If the butter becomes slightly warm, re-refrigerate until very cold.)
  4. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with a pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly.
  5. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas — this won’t take long — stop- even if it looks uneven.
  6. Start by drizzling 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes, if there are any left!) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together.
  7. Add an additional 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold water to bring it together, one tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and use your hands to gather the damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.
  8. Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. I like to use the sides to pull in the dough and shape it into a disk.
  9. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out. (I make my dough a day in advance.)
  10. Once the dough is chilled and ready to go, roll out the first half on a well-floured counter into a 14-inch circle and transfer it to 9-inch standard (not deep-dish) pie plate.
  11. With scissors or kitchen shears, trim overhang to one inch all around. Refrigerate dish and dough until needed.
  12. For a regular pie lid, roll out the second dough half into the same sized circle, transfer it to a large parchment-lined baking sheet and chill this as well until needed. For a lattice or woven pie lid, you can use the same sized circle, or you can just roll it into a rectangle at least 14″ in one direction, and then as long or wide you can get it in the other. Transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill this as well until needed. (I made a 10-piece lattice top.)

Do ahead: Dough will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.

To Make the Pie:

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Stir tapioca starch into the apple pie filling.
  3. Pour filling into prepared bottom crust and use your hands to pack and heap those softened apples as mounded as you can get them, then add a few more.
  4. Pour any juices that have accumulated carefully over apples; do not leave any behind.
  5. Either place your second pie dough round over the filling or cut it into strips to lattice the top.
  6. Trim the top crust or lattice strips to the edge of the pie dish. Fold the overhang from the lower crust over to form a thick rim, and crimp it together with your fingers or a fork to seal it.
  7. Brush top crust with egg, then sprinkle with sugar if desired. If your top crust is in one piece, cut a few vents in it with a sharp knife.
  8. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the large baking sheet for easier cleanup, then transfer your prepared pie onto it.
  9. Bake for 75 minutes, turning once or twice for even color. If your pie is browning too fast, take a large square of foil, mold it over the back of a large bowl into a convex dome, then use that to cover the pie in the oven for the remaining baking time so it doesn’t brown much further. The pie is done when juices are bubbling visibly through the vents or lattice, or when the internal temperature reads 195°F. A tester inserted into the pie shouldn’t hit any overtly crunchy apple pieces. (I added an additional 10 minutes to the baking time t achieve the 195°F internal temperature.)

To Serve: Cool pie for at least one hour at room temperature before cutting into it. However, your filling will not fully thicken until it has fully cooled, ideally in the fridge for a couple hours. You can rewarm slices as you serve them, if desired. Leftovers keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, and in the fridge for 1 week. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Roasted Carrots with Chimichurri

In addition to serving the Voltaggio brother’s cornbread stuffing last Thanksgiving, I also served this savory-sweet roasted carrot dish from Bryan Voltaggio’s cookbook. I loved that the sauce incorporated the carrot greens and that additional greens were used as a garnish.

The recipe was adapted from Home: Recipes to Cook With Family and Friends by Bryan Voltaggio. I used rainbow carrots and modified the proportions in the sauce. I also found the sauce too coarse to pass through a fine mesh sieve. (I often skip that step anyway!) 😉 It is interesting that his technique is to cut the carrots into bite-sized pieces after they are cooked.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Roasted Carrots:

  • 2 1/3 lbs (1 kg, about 13 medium carrots) carrots (I used rainbow carrots)
  • 2 T (28g) olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp (1.5g) cinnamon
  • 1 tsp (3g) ground peppercorns, preferably Szechuan
  • 3/4 tsp (4.5g) fine sea salt

For the Chimichurri Sauce:

  • 1.8 to 2 oz carrot greens
  • 2 oz (56g) baby spinach or flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 1/2 T (35g) olive oil
  • 1 T (14g) red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp (3g) fine sea salt
  • small carrot greens, for garnish

To Roast the Carrots:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Peel and trim the carrots.
  3. Set a large skillet with a lid over high heat and add the olive oil. When it begins to shimmer, add the carrots and cook, stirring, until they are golden brown and caramelized.
  4. Add the cinnamon, peppercorns, and salt; stir to blend.
  5. Cover and transfer to the oven to cook for 35 minutes, or until the carrots are completely tender.

To Make the Chimichurri Sauce:

  1. Set a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Prepare an ice bath.
  3. Blanch the carrot greens for 2 to 3 minutes and transfer to the ice bath.
  4. Blanch the baby spinach (or parsley) for 1 minutes and transfer to the ice bath.
  5. Once cool, squeeze out the spinach and carrot greens and put in a blender. (I used a Vitamix.)
  6. Add the garlic, oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and purée until smooth. Set aside.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. Remove the carrots from the oven, cut into bite-sized pieces, and transfer to a serving bowl.
  2. Spoon some of the Chimichurri Sauce over the carrots and garnish with small carrot greens.
  3. Serve family-style with reserved sauce on the side.

Zucchini Bread

As if my CSA zucchini wasn’t enough, my friend brought me more beautiful zucchini from her garden. I made four loaves of this bread (two batches) with a single zucchini! Amazing.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen. I incorporated whole wheat flour. As suggested, I used less sugar and also omitted the add-ins. We ate some, shared some, and froze some for later. This loaf improves with time- perfect to make the night before serving it for breakfast. I imagine it would also be delicious lightly toasted and topped with butter.

Yield: 2 loaves or 24 muffins

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil (can also used olive oil or another vegetable oil)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (can also used half (or even all) turbinado or half light brown sugar)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 cups grated, packed zucchini, not wrung out (from about 10 oz zucchini)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
  • 1 to 2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or chocolate chips (or a combination), optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Generously grease 2 loaf pans (8×4 or 9×5) with butter and flour or with nonstick spray. Alternatively, grease 24 standard muffin cups or line with paper liners.
  3. Whisk eggs, oil, butter, sugar, and vanilla in the bottom of a large bowl.
  4. Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt over the wet ingredients and whisk them in well.
  5. Stir in zucchini.
  6. Gently stir in flours, mixing only until incorporated.
  7. Fold in any add-ins, if using.
  8. Divide between prepared pans and bake for 55 to 65 minutes for a loaf, 20 to 25 minutes for muffins, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Let cool for 10 minutes on a rack before inverting and removing from the pans. The loaves can also cool completely in pans.
  10. Store wrapped in foil at room temperature for up to 5 days. Loaves also freeze well.

Butter Chicken

This version of Indian butter chicken was lusciously creamy and subtly spicy. My entire house smelled like butter while it cooked- wonderful! According to the article, butter chicken was created in the early 20th century as a way to soften leftover tandoori chicken with tomatoes, butter, and cream. Genius.

I served it over brown Basmati rice along with warm naan on the side to soak up all of the sauce. We also had roasted asparagus.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Rick Martinez. I marinated the meat for 3 hours, reduced the number of cardamom pods, and used the fenugreek leaves but omitted the fenugreek seeds.

For the Marinade:

  • ½ cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek leaves, optional
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

For the Sauce and Assembly:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) cultured or unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 3 to 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 whole clove
  • 2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds, optional
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 serrano chiles, split lengthwise (seeded, if desired)
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek leaves, optional
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • chopped cilantro, Brown basmati rice, and naan, for serving

To Make the Marinade:

  1. Whisk yogurt, garlic, fenugreek leaves, if using, ginger, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Add chicken and toss to coat.
  3. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.

For the Sauce and to Serve:

  1. Melt 4 T butter in a large wide pot over medium heat.
  2. Cook cinnamon, cardamom pods, clove, and fenugreek seeds, if using, stirring, until slightly darker and fragrant, 1–2 minutes.
  3. Add onion and chiles, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden and beginning to caramelize, 8–10 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until very fragrant and ginger starts to turn golden and sticks to bottom of pot, 2–3 minutes.
  5. Add fenugreek leaves, if using, garam masala, paprika, and turmeric and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Add tomatoes, breaking up into pieces with a spoon, and cook until brick red and most of the liquid is evaporated, about 1 minute.
  7. Using a potato masher or large spoon, smash tomatoes and continue to simmer, uncovered, until sauce is the consistency of a thick ragù, 40–50 minutes.
  8. Discard cinnamon stick (leave other whole spices).
  9. Transfer mixture to a blender and purée until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  10. Cut remaining 4 T butter into pieces. Add butter and cream to blender and purée until creamy; season with salt.
  11. Return sauce to pot and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, preheat broiler.
  12. Arrange chicken in a single layer on a wire rack set inside a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  13. Broil until chicken starts to brown in spots (it will not be cooked through), 7–8 minutes per side.
  14. When cool enough to handle, cut into ¾” pieces.
  15. Add chicken to simmering sauce, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, 8–10 minutes.
  16. Top chicken and sauce with cilantro. Serve with rice and naan alongside.

Note: Butter chicken can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

Greek Stuffing

I have gone to a hair salon owned by a lovely Greek family for many years. Beyond being a relaxing experience to just be there, we often discuss food and new restaurants- it’s great. After hearing about this Greek Thanksgiving stuffing for almost as many years, I finally got the treasured family recipe. 🙂

This dish is reminiscent of one of my son’s favorite rice and meat dishes, Thai One-Pot, with a Greek twist. It incorporates cinnamon, raisins, roasted chestnuts, as well as pine nuts.

My friends eat it as part of their Thanksgiving feast, but it is also hearty enough to be served as a main course. We ate it for dinner with roasted broccoli on the side. I modified the original recipe by using fresh mushrooms and ground turkey instead of ground beef. It was very unique and delicious!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup flat parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 24 oz white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup white Basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 13 oz organic roasted, peeled chestnuts, crumbled lightly
  • 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pound ground turkey or ground beef
  • 1 turkey liver or 2 chicken livers, finely chopped
  • 1-2 T ground cinnamon
  • coarse salt
  • 1/2 T freshly ground black pepper
  1. Melt the butter in a 14-inch skillet.
  2. Add the chopped celery and onion; sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the parsley, and continue to sauté for another minute.
  3. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the rice: In a medium pot, bring chicken stock, rice, and 1/2 tsp salt to a simmer. Add the chestnuts, crushed tomatoes, pine nuts, raisins, and cinnamon stick; mix. Cover and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes. (I used an enameled cast iron pot so that I could use it to finish the dish.)
  5. While the rice is cooking, add the olive oil to the hot 14-inch skillet, followed by the ground meat and chopped liver.
  6. Season the meat with 1 T salt, 1/2 T black pepper, and 1 T ground cinnamon. Cook until no longer pink, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  7. When the rice is tender, remove the cinnamon stick.
  8. Add the onion, celery, and mushroom mixture to the cooked meat, followed by the cooked rice mixture. Stir to incorporate.
  9. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

I made this dessert for my Valentine this year. ❤ He added a sprinkle of cinnamon on top!

In part, I chose rice pudding because I wanted to make a dessert in ramekins that I had just found at an estate sale. 🙂 Thankfully, my husband is a fan. This recipe was slightly adapted from Food 52 Genius Desserts, contributed by Molly Wizenberg.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 (I filled 6 ramekins)

  • 1 1/2 cups (355 g) water
  • 3/4 cup (135 g) white Basmati rice
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3 cups (735 g) whole milk
  • 1 cup (235 g) heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • cinnamon, for serving, optional
  1. Bring the water, rice, and salt to a simmer in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  2. Pour in the milk, cream, and sugar.
  3. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean with the tip of a paring knife and then add the seeds and vanilla pod to the pot. Stir to combine.
  4. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot with a rubber spatula, until the rice is tender and the mixture thickens to a soft, loose pudding texture, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and set aside the vanilla bean.
  6. Spoon the pudding into 6 to 8 small bowls or ramekins.
  7. The pudding can be served warm or chilled. To chill, press plastic wrap onto the surface of each pudding to keep a skin from forming and refrigerate thoroughly until cold. (I prepared the pudding in the morning to serve that evening.)
  8. To serve, sprinkle with cinnamon, as desired.

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