Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and if you're looking for a yummy bread to put on your table (or bring to someone's home), here are a couple of our family favorites.  The first is a pumpkin chocolate chip bread, and the second, a cranberry orange.  You can make a traditional loaf size, or make mini-loaves to bring to friends, teachers, etc.  Hope you enjoy these as much as we do, and happy Thanksgiving!

What:   Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt 
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c. canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. whole milk
  • 3/4 c. mini chocolate chips
  • 3/4 chopped walnuts (optional) 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift first 5 ingredients into medium bowl.  In another bowl beat butter until smooth, add sugar, then eggs (one at a time mixing well after each).  Add pumpkin and vanilla.  Gradually mix milk and dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture, alternating each one third at a time.  Stir in chocolate chips (and nuts if using), and put into greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, and remove bread from pan.  Tip:  If you have a favorite struesel topping (cinnamon, flour, butter, and pecan chips) make it, and sprinkle on the top of the loaf before it goes in the oven -- it makes it even better.  Enjoy!

What:  Cranberry Orange Bread

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 small box of vanilla pudding mix (I use Jello brand), dash of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 TBS. orange zest
  • 1 1/2 c. coarsly chopped fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 c. orange juice
  • 1 egg well beaten
  • 2 TBS. veg. oil
  • 1/2 c. chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts -- nuts are optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.  In another small bowl combine orange juice, zest, oil, and egg, and mix well.  Add berries (and nuts if you're using them).  Do not over mix -- just until dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened.  Spread into greased and floured loaf pan, and bake about 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool 15 minutes, and remove from pan.  Enjoy!

* Both of these breads can be made ahead of time, and frozen for up to three months -- just make sure you cool completely, and double wrap before you put them in the freezer.  These breads are big hits at Christmas time, too, and I make mini muffins with both to bring into my chidren's classes at school -- the kids love them!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Best Ever "Pizza Night" Pizza

Although we love good food, and cook most nights, there’s always one night reserved for pizza...usually Friday. "Pizza and movie night" with the kids. 

The challenge has become finding one we all enjoy. Sure, we could make it, but the point of “pizza night” is not to be in the kitchen. We’ve tried all the usual suspects for home delivery and haven’t been impressed. We also have one or two take out places that are good…but they are also a good distance from the house.

Finally, we think we’ve found a solution…and it’s worth sharing.

What: Fresh made, hand tossed, brick oven pizza.

Where: Harris Teeter grocery store in Tysons Corner, VA. Yes, Harris Teeter.  This may only be available in Tysons so please check your local store. 

Why it’s the Best: They make the dough, the toppings are fresh and vast, and the brick oven does make a difference. Place your order when you come in the store (or phone it in), and by the time you’ve picked up a few items it’s ready to go. It’s the best value we’ve found for the money.

How We Know: At $9.99 ($7.99 on Mondays) for a large brick oven pizza, what’s not to like?  HT also sells pizza slices and pizza to go. As for the drive, there’s a good chance you needed to go to the grocery store anyway...if not, find a reason...like picking up something for tomorrow night's dinner!

Craving Level: weekly, usually Friday nights.

Directions:  Tysons Corner, VA