Aimee’s Pretty Palate: Giving Thanks


Of all of the seasons, and all of the calendar months, November is my favorite. If we could bottle the kindness that comes with a month dedicated to being thankful, oh what a world we would live in.

While it’s easy to feel thankful when gathered with friends and family surrounded by food while enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, I find that the month of November is also the perfect time to express thankfulness outside of your usual family and friendship circle.

In fact, several years ago I joined the “Tie One On Day” movement. Founded by a woman named EllynAnne Geisel, Tie One On Day occurs on Thanksgiving Eve each year. The premise is to “give from the heart today for what we give thanks for tomorrow.” You buy (or create handmade) an apron, bake something, tuck a note of encouragement or prayer inside the pocket of the apron, then set out to find someone worthy of such a kind gesture. A neighbor. A coworker. A person in the community. The options are endless.

My go-to Tie One On Day treat of choice has been homemade bread recipes. You really can’t go wrong with anything baked in a loaf pan. It  travels easy and wraps up nicely in the apron (or seasonal dish towel if aprons aren’t your thing) while providing something than can be enjoyed practically any time of the day.

This year I’m going with a Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Bread, an Apple Cinnamon Swirl Bread and some Cinnamon Cream Cheese Banana Bread Squares that may or may not make it outside of my own kitchen.

However you choose to participate in this year’s season of thankfulness, I hope you’ll find these recipes perfect for the occasion.


PECAN STREUSEL PUMPKIN BREAD

Ingredients: 
1 cup pecans, chopped
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided
¾ cup brown sugar, packed, divided
¾ cup sugar, divided
2 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice, divided
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted, divided
¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup pumpkin purée
13 cup coconut oil
¼ cup applesauce
2 large eggs
1tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat three 5 ¾-inch mini loaf pans with nonstick spray.
To make crumb topping, combine pecans, 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, ½ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup sugar, 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, and ½ cup butter; set aside.
For bread, in a large bowl, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour, ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together pumpkin purée, coconut oil, ¼ cup butter, applesauce, eggs and vanilla. Pour mixture over dry bread ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Scoop batter evenly into loaf pans. Sprinkle with crumb topping, using your fingertips to gently press crumbs into batter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
Makes 3 mini loaves.

CINNAMON APPLE BREAD 

Ingredients: 
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
23 cup sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ cup milk
1 large apple, peeled and finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan; set aside. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl; set aside.
In a stand mixer, combine sugar and butter until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; continue to beat on medium speed until combined. Add flour and baking powder, then add milk. Pour half of batter into prepared pan and cover with chopped apples. Pat apples into batter with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with half of brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Pour remaining batter over apple layer; top with remaining apples and remaining brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.
Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle of loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Makes 1 loaf.

CINNAMON CREAM CHEESE BANANA BREAD SQUARES

Ingredients: 
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened, divided
2 eggs
1 ¾ cup ripe bananas, mashed
4 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 x 8-inch pan (or line with parchment paper, spraying both before and after placing into pan). You can also use a jelly roll pan or a
9 x 13-inch pan  for thinner squares. (I used my brownie pan!)
In a large bowl, beat together sugar, sour cream, brown sugar, ½ cup butter, and eggs until creamy. Blend in mashed bananas and 2 tsp. vanilla extract. Add flour, baking soda and salt; blend well. Spread batter evenly into pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and center is no longer jiggly.
Make frosting while you wait by beating together cream cheese, ½ cup butter, 2 tsp. vanilla extract, and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add confectioners’ sugar a little at a time and continue to mix until sugar is fully incorporated and frosting is light and creamy.
Using a spatula, spread frosting over slightly cooled banana bread (you may have excess frosting if using an 8 x 8-inch pan). If desired, sprinkle pecans on top while frosting is still wet. Place in refrigerator to firm. Serve slightly chilled.
Makes 1 dozen squares.

Aimee Broussard is a Southern food blogger and award-winning author. Her recent cookbook Picnics, Potlucks & Porch Parties debuted exclusively on QVC. Join Aimee for weekly recipes with a side of Southern hospitality on her blog, southernfromscratch.com, and find more at aimeebroussard.com. And find some of Aimee’s favorite Thanksgiving side dish recipes in this story from the inRegister archives.

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