Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

I have been making this yum-o pumpkin bread all fall and winter. I’ve taken a break from it for a few weeks – pumpkin bread burnout – but I’m over that now. Ready for more!

My girl loves to "help" in the kitchen.

My girl loves to “help” in the kitchen. She’s ready to help me bake some pumpkin bread!

I used to make a version that had tons of oil and sugar in it. It was good, but I didn’t make it often because of all that oil/sugar. I love a good quick bread for breakfast and snacks, so I looked around for a healthier recipe. This is the one I found, and we all love it. It calls for whole wheat flour and honey for sweetener. Every time we run out, my 5yo asks me to make it again. It’s so easy…so I keep making it. Bonus: it can be made using only one bowl, so there’s very little cleanup when you are done mixing it together.

A whisking fool

A whisking fool

Spiced goodness

Spiced goodness

Crackly-topped finished product

Crackly-topped finished product

 

Here ya go.

Ingredients:

1 ½ c. whole wheat flour

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. nutmeg

¼ tsp. allspice

1 tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

2 eggs

½ c. oil

½ c. honey

½ tsp. vanilla

1 c. pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

½ c. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional…I never use them and don’t miss them)

Step-by-step:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (from the flour down to the salt).
  3. Make a well (hole) in the center and add the eggs, oil, honey, and vanilla. Mix together.
  4. Fold in the pumpkin puree and nuts (if using).
  5. Grease a loaf pan and pour in the batter.
  6. Bake approximately 35 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick (or, if you are me, a metal kabob skewer) in the center and making sure it comes out clean.
  7. When done, let the loaf cool in the pan for 5 minutes on a wire rack before turning it out of the pan. Then, let it cool completely on the wire rack.

Recipe adapted from 100 Days of Real Food

Pecan-crusted chicken tenders

Everyone {especially kids} loves chicken tenders. We love to eat this version of chicken tenders at home, which is a ton healthier than the fried tenders you get at restaurants (which, let’s be honest, also are very good).

My people love this chicken. In fact, as I was making it the other day, Campbell came running in the kitchen to ask what I was making. When I told her pecan chicken tenders, she did a little jump for joy and shouted, “Yay! My favorite!” Heart swell! When you spend meal after meal trying to teach your child to eat her vegetables by convincing her to eat “just three more bites,” having said child declare something you are cooking at her favorite is a major victory. For a moment in time, all was right in the world.

You make the chicken by dredging chicken tenders in flour, then in egg whites, and then in a mixture of saltine crackers, ground-up pecans and spices. I used salt, pepper and paprika, but you could play around with the spice combination to suit your taste.

Cracker/pecan mixture

Cracker/pecan mixture

The chicken tender assembly line

The chicken tender assembly line

Then, you bake and eat. I served the tenders with homemade honey mustard dressing, mashed potatoes and baked zucchini Parmesan crisps.  When reheating your leftovers, I recommend heating these in an oven rather than a microwave. Oven = crispy. Microwave = soggy.

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

These chicken tenders are kid-approved

These chicken tenders are kid-approved

Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients:

24 saltine crackers, finely crushed

½ c. pecans, ground in food processor

2 tsp. paprika

¾ tsp. salt

Freshly cracked pepper to taste

3 egg whites

½ c. flour

2 packages of chicken tenders (should be 1 ½ to 2 lbs. of chicken)

Cooking spray or EVOO

Step-by-step:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Stir together crushed crackers and next 4 ingredients.
  3. Whisk egg whites just until foamy.
  4. Place a wire rack coated with cooking spray or brushed with EVOO on a foil-lined baking sheet (makes for easy clean-up!).
  5. Dredge chicken tenders in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg white, and then dredge in cracker/pecan mixture. Arrange on wire rack.
  6. Either lightly spray chicken with cooking spray or dab with EVOO.
  7. Bake at 425° for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Turn once after 12 minutes.

Tips for feeding your family home-cooked meals

It’s hard, y’all. Hard to get a good, home-cooked meal on the table after working all day. I make it a priority to cook as often as I can and have learned some lessons along the way.

Here are my tips for successfully feeding your family home-cooked food. I hope they ever so slightly inspire you to give cooking a shot.

  • Cook in quantity. Unless you have nothing else to do…ever…no one has time or desire to cook every single night. When you do take the time to cook a good meal, make plenty of it. Double that dainty soup recipe. Don’t shy away from making a big lasagne. If you are grilling, throw some extra chicken on so you have meat for another meal or two.
  • Learn to love leftovers. This is a biggie, folks. If you really want to feed your family more home-cooked meals, you MUST be willing to eat leftovers. What’s that? You say you don’t like leftovers? GET OVER IT. There’s nothing better than coming home after work and quickly putting a good meal out for your family that you had to spend very little time preparing.
  • Find recipes for dishes that re-heat well. If your leftovers don’t taste good, you aren’t making the right foods. Let me tell ya, food can be just as good (sometimes even better) the second time around. Maybe I’ve just brainwashed myself into thinking this, but so be it. I can’t emphasize it enough: Leftovers = Love.
  • Meal plan. Gone are the days of deciding at 5 p.m. on a Wednesday what sounds good for dinner that night and then making it happen. Over the weekend, decide what your family is going to eat for the week. Go the grocery store to buy what you need to pull those meals together, and make yourself eat what you’ve cooked.
  • Never start a work week with an empty fridge. I promise (because I’ve made this mistake numerous times)…if you start the week with no leftovers and no groceries, you won’t be able to catch up until the next weekend. Cook one or two good meals over the weekend so you have a few meals of leftovers ready for the work week. Try to limit yourself to cooking once during the work week (twice if you are super ambitious).
  • Take a shortcut. Look for ways to make your recipes a little easier without sacrificing the healthy factor. Grocery store rotisserie chickens are your friend.
  • Cut yourself a break. If you can’t get a home-cooked meal on the table, don’t make yourself feel guilty. Everyone loves to eat out here and there. Sometimes you just need a mid-week dinner {and drink} out to break routine, or you need to pick up takeout. Our favorite takeout is Papa Murphy’s for pizza (did you know you can get any pizza on the menu in whatever size you want for $10 on Tuesdays?) and Whole Foods. Whole Foods’ family value meals are so good and a great price at only $14.99 or $17.99, depending on what you get. Our faves are the turkey burritos and the veggie lasagne, and both dishes come with a big family-sized salad.
  • Don’t stress about dirty dishes. Maybe a sink full of dirty dishes sets some people off into a panic attack, but I’m not one of them (thank goodness). When I cook during the week, I don’t have time to cook the food, eat the food, and then clean everything up to a sparkling shine. The dishes can wait until another day. I figure my kids aren’t going to remember that the dishes piled up here and there…but rather that we shared meals as a family.
Here's what my sink looks like right now. Ain't no shame. #real

Here’s what my sink looks like right now. #real

What are your tips for getting good meals on the dinner table? Please share!