Debbie NEEDED me to cook with her. Since the start of school, with her middle and high school kids running her ragged from activity to activity, homemade meals weren’t happening in her house. Somehow, the back to school season was here before she had prepared her freezer. She found herself ordering take out and relying on prepared foods far too much. (Sound familiar anyone?) Needless to say, she was desperate to cook — and with me, her motivation!
So we got together last Friday with a hefty agenda. We stood side by side turning pounds and pounds of chicken into homemade chicken tenders. These tenders, tucked away in the freezer, would come in handy for both of us for mid-week meals as they’ve been for more than a decade. We use them as salad toppers, sandwich staples or the building block for dinners like Chicken Parmesan.
I also threw a pot of chicken and veggies on the back burner to make chicken stock so that I could easily make chicken noodle soup for those weeks with the sniffles (like this one); and Debbie used another back burner for a rich corn stock using the last of the season’s farm fresh corn. And finally, with some leftover pumpkin puree we baked several loaves of the first pumpkin bread of the season, really a bonus food that we made that day together.
We left with mounds of homemade food and thoughts of a refreshing time together during a busy back to school season.
Makes 4 mini breads and 24 mini muffins
1 stick of butter, softened
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup of apple sauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups white flour
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk (1%)
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin (or 15 ounces of fresh)
3 tablespoons of cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl and with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and blend well. Mix in the pumpkin puree. In another bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. Add the milk and mix. Spray your desired pans with baking spray and distribute the batter evenly. Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top of the breads and muffins. Bake the mini loaves for 30 minutes and the mini muffins for approximately 12 minutes until center is cooked.