Pistachio Crunch Loaf



The holiday season is upon us and I am getting an early start on my baking for the upcoming Thanksgiving meal.  This week we will be traveling east to enjoy the holiday with my youngest sister and her family.  I have volunteered to bring all of the desserts so I have started baking and packaging some of our family’s favorite recipes.  It’s so much easier to bake ahead of time and then refrigerate or freeze the baked goods until just a few hours before the event.

This Pistachio Crunch Loaf is a long standing family favorite.  The festive green color comes from the packet of pistachio pudding mix added to the batter.  For an extra boost of flavor, try substituting the sour milk with pistachio flavored yogurt.  

It’s always fun to contribute an item (or two) to the family table over the holidays.  But, if you’re one of those people that always forgets your favorite platter or covered casserole dish when it’s time to go home, then here’s a great tip when traveling for the holidays…  

For the last several weeks, I’ve been purchasing decorative holiday tins of various shapes and sizes from local resale shops. (They range in price from about 50 – 75 cents.) I wash and dry them well when I get them home. This way I can pack all of my goodies into festive tins, stack them into reusable bags and conveniently store the tins when arriving at our destination.  When we are ready to bring out the treats, I’ll simply open all of the beautiful tins and lay them out on the buffett for guests to nibble on while enjoying time with family and friends.  The left-overs can be covered and stored in a cool dry place so we can continue to snack throughout the weekend.  No mess, no fuss!  If there is anything left by Sunday, I will leave the inexpensive tins behind without a thought.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Pistachio Crunch Loaf

1 package Pillsbury yellow cake mix

4 eggs

¼ cup canola oil

1 small package instant pistachio pudding mix

1 cup sour milk ( 1 scant cup of milk +2 teaspoons vinegar)

Sugar Mixture:

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 8×4″ loaf pans.  In a medium bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs oil, pudding mix and sour milk. Beat until all of the ingredients are well blended into a thick batter.

Spread half of the batter into the greased loaf pans. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the batter, dividing it between the two pans. Repeat the layers, adding the remaining bread batter and the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture on top. Lightly swirl batter with a butter knife (optional).

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the bread should come out clean.  Cool loaves completely before removing from pans.

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Pecan and Raisin Zucchini Quick Bread



As the end of the traditional Midwest growing season is well past it’s prime, local farmer’s markets are providing customers with an array of cool weather vegetables.  The unseasonably mild temperatures have helped zucchini, beets, and winter squash continue to grow.  

Last week a co-worker filled a basket with end-of-the-season zucchini that she had picked from her garden.  She placed the bountiful basket on the break room table to share with all.  I quickly scooped up an armful so that I could make a few batches of zucchini quick bread.  This is one of my favorite recipes.  It’s moist and flavorful with lots of texture provided by the crunchy pecans and sweet California raisins.  The recipe freezes well so I make quite a few loaves, wrap them and freeze them for gift giving or for a quick morning breakfast accompanied by a mug full of piping hot coffee.

Note: I sprinkle a tablespoon of wheat germ over each loaf before baking.  This gives the loaves a crunchy topping and a boost of fiber.

Pecan and Raisin Zucchini Quick Bread

2 cups sugar

1 1/4 cup canola oil

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini 

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

3/4 cup raisins

Optional Topping: 

2 tablespoons wheat germ

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two 9×5″ loaf pans. In a large bowl, beat sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until well blended. In another bowl, whisk flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and baking powder; gradually beat into sugar mixture, mixing just until moistened. Stir in zucchini, pecans and raisins.

Transfer to prepared pans. Sprinkle each loaf with 1 tablespoon of wheat germ (optional).  Bake 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool.