Recipes: Walnut-stuffed Dates and Pumpkin Bread

In the spirit of the season I am going to try to be fair and include a Christmas sweet that my mother had me make every Christmastime while she baked cookies and made fudge.

For those of you who think dates (and I don’t mean the girl-and-boy-go-to-the-movies-date), shriveled and ugly as they are, are yummy, let me share a simple preparation for them. (Egads! When my mom made me help with the dates I thought she was punishing me. As you may already know I don’t like shriveled and dried out fruit.) But in the spirit of the holiday, here’s what to do:

Walnut-Stuffed Dates

You can determine the amount you want to make. Cut a slit in each date and remove the pit. Cut a walnut half in half. Stuff the half of the half inside the date and roll it in powdered sugar. These can be fixed a few days before the big holiday party.
That’s all there is to it.

(We made a ton of these each year and I don’t know who else besides my parents ate them – ughhhh – but they would be gone.)

Now, for a recipe more to my liking. It does take a little longer to prepare than nasty old dates (No diss intended to those of you who like dates. They just aren’t for me.), but I think you will enjoy the results of this recipe as well.

Pumpkin Bread

(I do make a small loaf of the bread, but I also make muffins. As a matter of fact I just took some of these muffins to a potluck at work. Doubling the recipe is simple.)

1 cup sugar, firmly packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin
½ cup oil ( I use canola, but any vegetable oil will do.)
2 eggs, unbeaten
1 ¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour
¼ cup water
¼ cup raw oat bran
½ cup chopped nuts (I use walnuts.)
heaping ¼ teaspoon of ginger
½ teaspoon of salt
heaping ½ teaspoons of nutmeg and cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 cup of chocolate chips
(If you are into shriveled fruit, you can use 1 cup of raisins instead of chocolate chips.)

Tip: Raw oat bran is not only good for keeping cholesterol down but it keeps breads and muffins moist and soft. I use it in all of my breads and muffins. If you do not want to use oat bran, you will need 2 cups of sifted all-purpose flour.

Preheat oven to 350’F. Combine sugars, pumpkin, oil, and eggs; beat until well blended. Sift together flour and baking soda. Add the salt and spices and mix well into pumpkin mixture. Stir in chocolate chips, chopped nuts and the water. (Add raisins now if you are going to use them.) Spoon into a well-oiled 9” x 5” x 3” pan. I use a small loaf pan and then put the rest in muffin tins with paper muffin cups.

If you make the big loaf it will take 65 to 75 minutes to finish. The small loaf pan takes about 25 minutes and the muffins take 19 – 20 minutes. Test doneness with a toothpick. Enjoy!

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