It’s spring break in our household, and in true spring break tradition of lazy days at home (not true spring break tradition of topless in Mexico, if that’s what you were expecting), my kids and I have mostly been hanging out with friends in the neighborhood, lounging around, and enjoying leisurely time on blankets at parks.
And today, as a last hurrah since it’s Friday of our break, we went out to lunch at a ’50s diner, where my kids were FASCINATED by the concept of a jukebox at the table.
“What IS this ancient artifact?”
With the extra time on our hands, we’ve been able to enjoy some special breakfasts as well, from baked goods to scrambled eggs. (Yes, scrambled eggs is a special breakfast in our house because of how much I can’t stand cleaning the sticky web of egg remnants off my nonstick pan.) As for baked goods, this spiced applesauce bread is a perennial favorite.
It’s a no-frills breakfast or brunch item that uses a whopping 1 and 1/4 cups of applesauce, an entire grated apple, and half whole wheat flour to make it healthy, and vegetable oil and plenty of aromatic spices to make it tasty. I’ve been making it for years, and it’s a great stand-by recipe for your bread arsenal. Give it a try for your next weekend breakfast or brunch!
And now, in true lazy spring break fashion, I’m going to stop writing and go watch a movie. 🙂
Spiced Applesauce Bread
A better-for-you spiced quick bread that's chock full of applesauce!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, mix applesauce, brown sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and milk.
In a separate bowl (or the same bowl, if you want to be lazy like me), mix all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Stir with wet ingredients until just combined.
Using a cheese grater, grate peeled apple directly into bowl, then stir briefly to incorporate. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake 60-65 minutes.
Happy December! I hope your Thanksgiving was happy and, like we talked about in the last post, HEALTHY!
So…I hope you won’t hate me…or think I’m a big ol’ hypocrite…if my next post is about a ridiculously amazing, gingersnap-crusted, cream-topped showstopping pumpkin cheesecake.
Sorry? But not sorry?
All I can say is that my approach to food is all about balance, and with that in mind, occasional portion-controlled indulgences like pumpkin cheesecake can absolutely be included. That’s my Official Nutritionist Stance on the matter. My Official Foodie Stance on the matter is that this cheesecake rocks my world.
You may be feeling pretty over it when it comes to anything pumpkin-flavored now that it’s December, but let me encourage you not to trade all your gourds in for candy canes just yet. If a Christmas party or other special occasion is in your future this holiday season, THIS is the dessert you want to bring. For me, it is ALWAYS the dessert that people hover around, comment about, groan over in delight, sneak into their purse, etc. Last month I served it at a house concert we hosted and a week later, two people happened to mention separately that they were still thinking about it. (So am I.) It takes some time and effort, but really is not difficult to make for such a gorgeous and delicious final product. There are no unusual ingredients, no chef-level techniques, and–best of all for cheesecake–no water bath.
So this season, be the showstopper of the neighborhood Christmas party/work potluck/New Year’s Bash with something truly special. And for me, your nutritionist friend, enjoy it in moderation.
Showstopper Pumpkin Cheesecake
This stunning cheesecake is always a hit!
Make the crust: in a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, chopped pecans, gingersnap crumbs, and both sugars, then stir in melted butter. Press carefully into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Freeze for at least 20 minutes.
Make the filling: in a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Add the cubed softened cream cheese and sugar and blend on medium speed with a hand mixer until no lumps remain. Beat in cream, cornstarch, vanilla, and bourbon (if using). Pour into chilled crust.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until the center is set. (If your springform pan tends to be leaky like mine, you may want to place a baking sheet underneath it.) Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the cream topping: in a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, sugar, and maple syrup. Spread over the top of the baked cheesecake, smoothing with a spatula. Bake another 5-10 minutes, then cool completely. Garnish with pecan halves and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
*Tip for serving: instead of a knife, try slicing the cheesecake using dental floss. Way less mess!
No matter your thoughts and feelings about canned cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, you have to admit it has a singular ability that is both fascinating and a little repellant.
I am speaking, of course, of the ability to slide out of the can completely intact in one fell swoop, and stand alone as a quivering magenta tower on a plate.
There’s something vaguely disturbing about watching your food being birthed wholesale from its packaging in this fashion. Something, dare I say, un-CAN-ny? Or something just a little too reminiscent of dog food, perhaps. And while we’re on the subject, what’s IN that stuff? I’ll tell you: a whole lotta high fructose corn syrup (and possibly some kind of food lab Jell-O product they can get away with calling “natural flavor”?) I honestly don’t mind the taste of the classic straight-from-the-can Ocean Spray jellied sauce, but Real Talk: it’s not exactly made of wholesome ingredients, and it’s not the classiest item on the Thanksgiving table, with its sklooshy jiggle and the grooves around its circumference that give it away as canned every time.
So, this Thanksgiving, might I suggest a detour from the can? This homemade orange cranberry sauce is sweetened naturally with honey (not high fructose corn syrup like the wiggle-jiggle variety) and will give your Thanksgiving table a touch of class and a colorful sweet-tart pop. Plus, it’s super easy and smells AMAZING as it cooks. It’s even fun to make because you get to hear the ping! of the cranberries as they burst in the saucepan.
So go ahead and be the superstar of your Thanksgiving gathering by bringing this wholesome, delicious knockout. My guess is you’ll never go back to the canned variety again.
Honey Orange Cranberry Sauce
You'll never go back to the canned variety after you've tried this orange-flavored naturally-sweetened cranberry sauce!
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring all ingredients to a boil and cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst and sauce has thickened to your liking.
Remove cinnamon stick and let cool. Serve immediately or store refrigerated in an airtight container.
A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.