The Only Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Recipe You Need

by Michelle on September 17, 2017

It really feels like fall in our house once I make my first batch of pumpkin chocolate chip bread. I’ve been making this bread for nearly a decade, and have even written about it on this blog. The original recipe came from a relative of a student my best friend had in her class several years ago. Every time I make it, whoever’s eating it always comments on how good it is—and often asks for the recipe. Last week, I made my first batch for the school bake sale and, not surprisingly, I got a text from one of the moms on the PTO. “Your pumpkin bread is insanely good!” she wrote. I thanked her and promised to send her the recipe.

But when I looked it up to forward to her, I realized how many changes I’ve made over the years to reflect my way of eating. Coconut or sunflower oil instead of vegetable…white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose…a cup of sugar versus a cup and a half…which made me think that I should just update it on here rather than sending it to people with notes. So herewith readers, is the only pumpkin chocolate chip bread recipe you’ll ever need. Spicy and sweet, it’s the perfect fall treat. You can make it in mini loaf pans (great for gift giving and little hands) or full-size, and it freezes well, so you’ll always have some on hand. Unless, of course you gobble it down immediately. Which has been known to happen.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

1 and 2/3 cups white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1  cup sugar

1/2 cup coconut or sunflower oil. (If you use coconut, there’s no need to melt it if it’s already on the soft side. If it’s hard to scoop out of the jar, give it 20 seconds or so in the microwave)

2 eggs

1 cup canned plain pumpkin

1 cup dark chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli 60 percent cacao)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a full-size loaf pan or four minis with cooking spray. Mix first nine ingredients together and blend well with a spoon.

In a separate bowl, beat sugar, oil and eggs until well blended. Stir in pumpkin and 1/3 cup water. Add dry mixture until well blended. Add in chocolate chips. Bake for 70 minutes if using a full-size loaf pan, 35 minutes for minis. Let cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Trottole Pasta with Summer Squash and Feta

by Michelle on July 26, 2017

I love a good pasta salad. It’s easy to prepare, is a filling side dish at barbecues and parties and can be customized to  whatever you happen to have in the fridge or the garden, especially during the summer months. The one thing that really makes a pasta salad stand out is the type of pasta you use. This is where you need to go beyond the elbow shaped “macaroni” salads of yesteryear (heavy on the tuna and mayo, no doubt) and branch out to a more sophisticated spiral. One of my favorite types of pasta to use is trottole. It’s pretty and hearty and makes whatever dish it’s used in look vibrant and appealing. I love the combination of feta, red onion and tomato in a salad like this one, but on the day I was making pasta salad for a party, I didn’t have any tomato. Alas, I did have an abundance of squash from the farmers market, so I decided to saute some up, throw in some kalamata olives for extra saltiness and then douse the whole thing in crumbled feta and olive oil. Yum, yum, yum! My guests raved about the flavor as I reveled in how easy it was to throw together. File this one away for your next party. Your guests won’t be disappointed!

Note: As with most of the salads I make, I rarely measure out ingredients. I mean, can you really go wrong with adding extra cheese? Start with these quantities and then add more to taste. If you aren’t serving it right away, the pasta tends to absorb the feta and olive oil when it’s in the fridge, so toss in another handful of cheese and give it another drizzle of olive oil before serving.

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Trottole Pasta with Summer Squash and Feta

1 box of trottole-shaped pasta

2 medium summer squash (use yellow and green for added color) cubed

1/4 of a red onion, sliced thin

1/4 cup of kalamata olives, pitted and sliced

1/4 cup crumbled feta

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Boil the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, cube the squash, add a little oil to a skillet and saute until tender. When the pasta is done and drained, add it to a large bowl. Add the cooked squash, the feta, red onion and olives. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld, or refrigerate and serve later, adding more feta and olive oil as needed.

 

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Garlic Scape Pesto with Sunflower Seeds

by Michelle on July 13, 2017

I have been making garlic scape pesto for several summers now but I usually do so with slivered almonds or walnuts. But that can be hard to serve to a crowd because many people have nut allergies. So I was surprised and intrigued when my neighbor, Anne, a horticultural therapist, invited me to a cooking demonstration at the community garden she oversees. On the menu was garlic scape pesto, but her version was made with sunflower seeds! I’d never thought of this before. Not only do the seeds provide the same heft and chunk to the pesto as nuts do, but they are more allergy friendly. That weekend, I picked up my first batch of scapes from the farmers market and made my own pesto using sunflower seeds.

Yum, yum, yum. Since then, I’ve made several batches of this stuff and have served it at parties, much to the delight of my guests. Incidentally, if you’ve never seen a garlic scape before, they’re the long green, curly shoots that grow from the top of the garlic plant. You can often find them in early to mid summer in bundles at farmers markets or in a CSA haul (I’ve yet to see them in a grocery store) and they have a strong garlicky flavor—much more pronounced than a clove. So if you’re a garlic fan, you’ll probably love this recipe. Doubly so if you have a nut allergy.

Truth be told, I do not measure ingredients out for pesto. I do it completely by taste and go a little heavy on the cheese, because when is too much cheese ever really a problem, right?  I’ve also started adding half of an avocado to the mix because I like the creaminess it gives the pesto. I’m giving you loose estimations here but customize this to your taste. And then be sure to eat it with crusty bread, good quality mozzarella cheese, and heirloom tomatoes, if they’re available in your area.

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Garlic Scape Pesto With Sunflower Seeds

6-8 garlic scapes, cut into 1/2 pieces

1 cup of olive oil

1/2 cup of parmigiano cheese, grated

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1/2 of an avocado

A pinch of salt

 

Put everything but the olive oil and avocado in a food processor. Add some of the oil and turn the food processor on, adding more oil as needed and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Keep sampling the pesto and adding more of each ingredient to taste.  Add the avocado last, give it a final few pulses until it’s creamy and at the desired consistency. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.

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