Pumpkin and Cornmeal Quick Bread

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Pumpkin and cornmeal made for one of the more, shall we say, interesting quick breads I have  made. I was not sure that my taste buds, which are fully aligned with sweet, would be down with it.

Things were not looking too good until I sliced the loaf thin and used it as a hearty sandwich bread. Then I was on board.

Walnuts impart a nice crunch, and fresh flat-leaf parsley packs an unexpected punch of flavor. It is a perfect alternative to the standard cornbread muffin I enjoy with chili and would likely pair well with any soup or salad.

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Still not sold? I hear ya. If I was not on a near-constant lookout for unusual recipes to try, I would have passed right over this in a heartbeat. But in addition to sounding unique, the ingredients were easy to procure. I had everything I needed, including the fresh parsley, on hand when I set out to make it. That almost never happens.

Not quite so lucky? Or maybe you are feeling adventurous? I would love to know how other nut and herb combos work for this bread. My first thought on the next go round is to use sunflower seeds and sage. Pepitas and rosemary also seem reasonable.

In the meantime, there are plenty more delicious dishes to experiment in the 12 Weeks of Winter Squash links below. Check them out!

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Savory Pumpkin and Cornmeal Quick Bread
  • 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup ground cornmeal, plus additional for sprinkling
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. In a skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts until browned and fragrant.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the toasted walnuts, cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the pumpkin puree, eggs, parsley and oil.
  4. Fold the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until fully incorporated. Do not overmix.
  5. Grease a 9 x 5 – inch loaf pan with oil, line the bottom with parchment paper and sprinkle cornmeal along the sides until coated.
  6. Pour the bread batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes until the top is crusty and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling or serve warm.


Spicy Peanut Butter Cookies with Dukka

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I had high hopes the weekend would provide something of interest to write about, but as I sit down with this post at 10 p.m. on Sunday, I have nothing. Unless you want to hear about the four hours I spent at the auto shop, the next four hours I spent reading the last third of The Orphan Master’s Son, and the multi-episode Game of Thrones bender I went on yesterday. I followed Saturday up by making tremendous messes in the kitchen today. So, I may not have anything to write about, but at least you shall have some recipes!

This recipe for spicy peanut butter cookies with dukka (also known as dukkah) is actually a carry over from last weekend. The reasons it caught my eye are two-fold. I loved the idea of a spicy peanut butter cookie, and I had no idea what dukka was. I have since learned it is a mixture of nuts, seeds and spices with origins in Middle Eastern dishes.

For this cookie, the dukka is comprised of peanuts, sesame seeds, cumin and coriander. In terms of nuts and seeds, there is quite a bit of variation out there, but the use of coriander and cumin seems consistent across the board.

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These cookies are not at all like the chewy peanut butter cookie I am used to. They have an almost cracker-like texture, and they sort of melt in your mouth after the first bite. I was not so sure about them, but when I shared, they received positive reviews.

As it is written below, the recipe yielded double the peanut dukka I needed. You could try to halve it as best as possible, or simply use the leftovers to amp up the flavor of hummus or other dips and sauces. Though I would not recommend it with the peanut variety, a number of people have indicated dukka is a great spice mixture to sprinkle over eggs. This variety might pair better with popcorn or flatbread instead.

One of my favorite dukka ideas is to toss it with roasted vegetables. That recipe, and four more, are available via this blog post from The New York Times. Or you could just make more cookies. Enjoy!

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Spicy Peanut Butter Cookies with Dukka
  • For the Peanut Dukka
  • 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ¾ cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • For the Cookies
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1½ cups creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  1. To prepare the dukka, combine the three types of seeds in a skillet over medium heat and toast until the sesame seeds are lightly browned and the seeds are aromatic, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse a few times to partially grind the seeds.
  3. Add the peanuts and pulse a few times more until they are finely chopped and well blended with the seeds. Take care not to over process into a paste.
  4. Finally, add the paprika and salt and pulse a final few times to blend.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a shallow bowl and set aside.
  6. To prepare the cookies, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl.
  7. In a large bowl, stir together the peanut butter, butter and brown sugar.
  8. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well blended.
  9. Add half of the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and stir until combined, then stir in the remaining flour mixture and stir until well incorporated and a smooth dough forms.
  10. Roll a tablespoon of dough between your palms to form a ball, then roll the ball in the dukka to evenly coat. Repeat until all of the dough has been used.
  11. Place the coated dough balls onto parchment-lined baking sheets, keeping about two inches of space between each dough ball.
  12. Lightly press the balls with the bottom of a glass to flatten. Twisting the glass as you pull up from the dough will help it to relase from the cookies.
  13. Bake at 350 F until the cookies are firm to the touch, about 20 minutes.
  14. Allow to cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.




Rustic Root Shepherd’s Pie

IMG 2245 Edited Rustic Root Shepherds Pie

March. If it’s come in like a lion, you may want to try out some lamb in this Shepherd’s Pie. I plucked this recipe from my giant binder of recipes that houses all of my magazine clippings, and I giggled a bit when I saw it came from Men’s Journal. Where on earth did I pick up a Men’s Journal? Or better yet, why?

Regardless, I’m glad I had it because the recipe resulted in a delicious Shepherd’s Pie. I’d never cooked with parsnips or turnips before, and unless it’s a potato or the occasional carrot, I’m generally not thrilled with root vegetables (beets have been my least favorite food since infancy). I happily found all of the vegetables in this dish pleased my taste buds,  and overall the Shepherd’s Pie had a sweet yet tangy flavor I fancied.  

Shep2 Rustic Root Shepherds Pie

I got my second laugh when I read the “three beers that will perfect your meal” portion of the recipe. It started, “The knee-jerk choice is Guinness…” I used Guinness because a) I like it, and b) my local grocery store ran a promotion on it last week. Men’s Health may call it “knee-jerk”, but I call that a “win-win.”

I wanted to up the flavor by topping the Shepherd’s Pie with special mashed potatoes like my Grandma makes. I roughly halved her recipe that calls for cream cheese and sour cream to be whipped into the potatoes, and I included it in the notes below. I opted not to peel my potatoes before boiling and mashing, but of course, that option is yours.

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The Shepherd’s Pie I cooked up was very juicy. You may want to place the cast iron skillet on a baking sheet to avoid drips of grease falling from the skillet, causing a small oven fire, and leading to shouts of, “ there’s a fire in the oven, there’s a fire in the oven .” (Yes, I’m speaking from  personal experience here.) If you do not own a cast iron skillet, not to worry, you can always cook the Shepherd’s Pie mixture in a regular skillet and transfer it to an oven-safe dish for baking. Enjoy!

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Shepherd’s Pie
Recipe type: Entree
  • 1 pound lamb
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 parnspis, chopped
  • 1 turnip, chopped
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  1. Brown the lamb in a cast iron skillet coated with olive oil over medium heat.
  2. When the lamb is fully cookied, remove the meat from the skillet and add the chopped onion, carrots, parsnips, and turnip.
  3. Cook the vegetables until tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the lamb back to the skillet, and stir in the peas, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and beer.
  5. Cook until the mixture is reduced by half, then add the chicken broth.
  6. Top with mashed potatoes and bake at 375 degrees F until golden, about 20 minutes.
Grandma M’s Mashed Potatoes 4 medium potatoes 2 ounces cream cheese ¼ cup sour cream ¼ cup milk 2 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon onion or garlic salt Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Allow to cool to room temperature, then mash and add the remaining ingredients. Beat until fluffy.