Friday, January 09, 2009

Pumpkin Bread

Yay for pumpkin bread! My house smelled so good last night when I baked these loaves.

Pumpkin Bread
(two 9x5x3 inch loaves)

"A good bread - moist, spicy, with lots of pumpkin. This recipe makes two large loaves."

3 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cup vegetable shortening.
2 cups mashed or pureed pumpkin
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 2/3 cups white sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 cup chopped walnuts

Megan's note: I left out the dates and walnuts. Instead, I used Craisins and almonds.

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9x5x3 inch loaf pans.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, and stir and toss them together with a fork or whisk. In a large bowl, combine the shortening, pumpkin, eggs, sugar, milk, dates and walnuts. Add the combined dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir with a large mixing fork or mixing spoon just until the batter is blended; the flour should be incorporated so there are no lumps; but there will be small bits of shortening that will disappear in baking.

Divide the batter equally between the prepared pans and bake for about 1 hour, or until a broom straw or skewer inserted in the center of each loaf comes out clean. [Megan's note: Broom straw ? The heck ?] Remove the loaves from the oven, and cool in the pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

Source: The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, page 557, by Marion Cunningham, 1984, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Special K Crackers: Italian Tomato and Herb

I bought a box of Special K Crackers at Wal-Mart yesterday. The two flavors available were Multi-Grain and Italian Tomato & Herb.

Each cracker was a one inch square with ripple edges. The smell was similar to pizza flavored Goldfish crackers. They were wheaty and crisp, but a little too tomato heavy. The ingredient list included sun dried tomato, garlic, onion and "spices", so I have no club what the herbs were.

I wasn't crazy about Special K's Italian Tomato and Herb Crackers. This product seemed to miss the mark somehow. I would not buy these again.

Kashi Cereal Bars: Baked Apple Spice

"Sweet apple, baked up warm and toasty with a sprinkling of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves"

Yesterday I had a coupon for a free box of Kashi bars. I decided to buy the baked apple spice variety.

The crust, which is made of whole grains and sesame, was soft and wheaty. The filling reminded me of a less sweet Fig Newton. My only gripe was that there seemed to be less filling in these than the blackberry version I tried previously. Other than that, this was a pretty tasty snack.

I would definitely buy Kashi's Baked Apple Spice bars again.

Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn

Natural Garden Herb and Olive Oil Popcorn

I really should pay attention when shopping. I didn't realize it was not "Garlic and Olive Oil" until I got home from the store. Whoops.

The taste of this popcorn was terrible. It was like eating a mouthful of sage; the box lists rosemary and "mixed flavoring." Blech. I won't buy that again.

Natural Lime and Salt Popcorn

The lime and salt popcorn was disappointing. The lime flavor was that of cheap lime syrup flavored candy. So wrong : P

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Gainesville Ale House, Gainesville Florida

Gainesville Ale House / Miller's Ale House
3950 S.W. Archer Rd.
Gainesville, FL 32608
(352) 371-0818 Phone
(352) 371-0812 Fax


The Gainesville Ale House has wood floors and wood booths. It's decorated with sports memorabilia and big screen televisions. The seating options are booths, the bar, and a covered outdoor patio.

CHEF SALAD: Fresh Greens with Chicken Ham Bacon Bits Cheese Tomatoes Cucumbers & Egg

This salad was large. You could easily split it with two people. It was skimpy on the bacon, but otherwise good.

BEER BATTER ONION RINGS: Served with Cajun Ranch for Dipping

The onion rings were thick, crispy and served hot. I did not like the dipping sauce; it had a Dorito-ish aftertaste.

SHRIMP & CRAB QUESADILLA: Shrimp, Crab, Fresh Spinach, Pico de Gallo and Jack & Cheddar Cheeses Served with Salsa, Sour Cream and Black Beans & Rice

This appetizer was big enough to be a meal by itself. There were five big, crispy slices of quesadilla that took up half a large plate. The crab and shrimp part was a shredded mixed of meat, with a few whole shrimp tossed in. It was pretty decent.

BRITISH BURGER: Topped with Swiss Cheese and Bacon Strips

None of us ordered this. We just wanted to know why Swiss cheese = British. Anyone ?

PHILLY CHEESE STEAK: Thinly Sliced Top Round with Grilled Onion and Melted Cheese on a Toasted Steak Roll

The cheese steak had loads of very dry meat.

The desserts:
Capt'n Jack's Buried Treasure: Delicious Homemade Ice Cream Cake with Oreo Cookie Crust, Caramel, Chocolate Fudge and Heath Bar Crunch

Capt'n Jack's Nutty Brother: Brother of the Best Ice Cream Cake In Town! Nutter Butter Cookies, Fudge & Vanilla Ice Cream, Topped with Chocolate & Peanut Butter Sauce

Brownie Hot Fudge Sundae
Key Lime Pie
Apple Crisp
Carrot Cake

The first two did not sound appealing to our group. They seemed like an overload of flavors and ingredients. There was a picture of the ice cream cake on the coasters; it solidified the agreement of "Um, pass. Let's find dessert some place down the road." The last four just didn't sound interesting enough to bother.

The food was not amazing, but it was good enough. Our servers were friendly and prompt. I would consider Gainesville Ale House to be a back-up plan restaurant. If other restaurants were closed for the night and the choice was McDonald's or Burger King, I'd go there again. It's just not the most interesting place to eat in Gainesville. Over all, I would rate this meal as a B.

Di's House of Cheesecake

Has anyone heard of Di's House of Cheesecake ? I noticed a billboard for it last week, either in North Carolina or South Carolina. I have been unable to find an address or reviews about Di's online. Any help is appreciated.