Nana’s pumpkin bread

My great-grandmother had the BEST pumpkin bread recipe. Moist, sweet, full of plump raisins.

Oh. And it’s horrible for you. For two loaves there’s an entire cup of vegetable oil and three cups of sugar. Now I’m not going to advise you to cut oils and sugars out of your diet entirely, but for the love of Pete, don’t eat vegetable oil if you can help it and three cups of sugar is a little on the excessive side. Granted, this was a holiday specialty during my growing up years and nothing says “eat in excess” like Christmas morning am I right? Still. Sometimes you just need some pumpkin bread for breakfast without a side of guilt.

So with that introduction, here’s the original recipe.

Nana’s Pumpkin Bread

Mix together:                                     Mix together:

4 eggs, slightly beaten                      3-1/2 C  flour

2 C pumpkin                                      1 tsp. baking soda

1 C vegetable oil                                ½ tsp.  baking powder

2/3 C water                                        1-1/2 tsp.  salt

3 C sugar                                           1-1/2 tsp.  cinnamon

                                                           ½ tsp.  cloves

                                                           ½ tsp.  nutmeg

1 C chopped walnuts
1 C raisins, partially cooked (cover with water in a microwave-safe container and zap for a minute; drain and rinse)

Stir pumpkin and dry mixtures together. Fold in walnuts and raisins. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour batter into greased and floured loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes,or until toothpick stuck in center comes out clean. Makes 2 large loaves or many small loaves. If using small loaf pans, bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

You really can’t go wrong with that recipe!

Now, again, back to my childhood: we used the Betty Crocker banana bread recipe and it was always meh. Kinda dry. It had a whopping 3.5 tablespoons of baking powder per loaf so it tasted metallic. I volunteered to tweak the pumpkin bread recipe to make it banana-bread-worthy, and my mom and sisters tested it out for me. 

And, ok, I made it a little better for your arteries. But I added chocolate chips so don’t be too mad!

Banana Bread

Mix together:                                                  Sift together:

4 eggs, slightly beaten                                    1 ½ C all-purpose flour

2 C mashed ripe banana (about 6 medium)    2 C whole wheat flour

½ C vegetable oil                                            1 tsp. baking soda

1 ½ C sugar                                                     ½ tsp. baking powder

¾ C unsweetened applesauce                         1 ½ tsp. salt

                                                                        1 T cinnamon

1 C chopped pecans
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stir banana and dry mixtures together.  Fold in pecans and chocolate chips.  Pour batter into greased loaf pans.  Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until toothpick stuck in center comes out clean.  Makes 2 large loaves or many small loaves.  If using small loaf pans, cook for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  

Now, smear it with butter to ensure that you’re not too obnoxiously healthy, and eat for breakfast with plenty of strong hot coffee.




Chili and cornbread

I love cold weather a LOT. Alas, I live in Texas and cold days are too few for my taste. But when we do get cold weather I use the excuse that it’ll help heat the house as a reason to cook and bake as much as possible. So today, when half the country didn’t get above freezing all day, I present chili and (dairy-free) cornbread.

(Oh yeah…my nine month old nursling has a dairy intolerance so I try to cook and eat dairy free when I can. I still love cheese though.)


1.5 cups dried pinto beans
1 lb ground beef
1 sweet onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pints diced tomatoes (I think store-bought cans are 15.5 oz but that’s close enough)
1 pint Rotel or other diced-tomato-and-chilies mix (the jars we canned had jalapenos in them instead of green chilies)
2 cans black-eyed peas
1 T kosher salt
2 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1 T garlic powder
scant 1/4 tsp liquid smoke
OPTIONAL: 1/2 tsp – 1 tsp red pepper flakes (this chili had plenty of heat from the chili powder and jalapeno/diced tomato mix)
1 bag of steamable Normandy mix veggies (I got mine at Sam’s Club)

Begin by soaking and cooking the pinto beans. I put mine in a pot, poured boiling water over them, boiled them on the stove for 5 minutes and then covered them and walked away for about 4 hours. Then I rinsed thoroughly (all that murky stuff in the water is allegedly what gives you…side effects), covered them with fresh water and simmered for 45 minutes or so. 

As the beans are simmering, brown the ground beef, onion and minced garlic together. When it’s done, add the tomatoes, black-eyed peas, pinto beans (and 1/2 their cooking water), and spices, and bring to a boil. At the same time, cook the veggies according to the package directions, then set them out to cool. 

I had too much water in my chili so I had to let it boil for a long while until it was the consistency I wanted. I like a think, chunky chili. When it was just about there, I chopped the veggies pretty finely and stirred them in. Then I turned the stove down to medium-low and let it all become one while I made the cornbread.

Dairy-free cornbread (adapted from

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
1 egg

Preheat oven to 425. Grease a cast iron pan (I used my vintage cast iron cornbread pan because duh, it’s awesome!) with whatever grease your heart desires. My heart desired bacon grease. Then pop it in the oven to get it nice and hot.


Mix all ingredients together, pull the preheated pan out and pour your batter in. Bake until a toothpick tests done – about 13 minutes for me.

Top your chili with sharp cheddar cheese and sour cream if you can have dairy! If you can’t, well, I feel your pain. And I raise a glass of almondmilk in commiseration.

First ever post

I made my blog and I didn’t write in my blog because omg, first ever post, better make it a good one! Nothing like pressure to make you…do nothing. 

So hi. I’m a mom of two girls. I married an entrepreneur 7.5 years ago and promised for better or for worse. Right now happens to be one of the for worse times, although most of 2013 was pretty awesome. I love to cook and bake and will probably post a ton of recipes because I am constantly tweaking and maybe someone would like to replicate what I made. I am a California girl who transplanted to Texas 10 years ago and I can’t ever see myself leaving. I even talk like a Texan now. I love to garden and woodwork and crochet and I’m a geek too. I can’t pass up shopping at a thrift store and I hate paying full price for just about anything. 

And now that that’s over with, please see my second-ever post for tonight’s dinner!