mrs watson’s pumpkin bread

mrs. watson's perfect pumpkin bread | via she likes to eat

in the fall, i sometimes get a little too excited about christmas being so close. i confess, i begin to listen to christmas music and bake things that remind me of the holidays. all because the temperature has dropped, like, 15 degrees.

when we were traveling a few weeks back, we spent some time in oklahoma city with a few close friends. one of those dear friends had just moved into a new house and i was seriously drooling over her new kitchen. (white + marble + gold fixtures make me a little giddy.) THEN she had me drooling yet again over this homemade pumpkin bread she had made from scratch. literally the day we got home, i immediately gathered the ingredients and made it for my family.. well, for myself, let’s be honest.  i only made a few small changes and, after a few batches, truly it’s the best i’ve made. or ever had. it is super moist (i ain’t afraid to say it); light & fluffy yet superbly dense, while not being overly sweet. it has a ton of flavor from all the spices and, well, yeah. it’s the perfect pumpkin bread.

mrs. watson’s perfect pumpkin bread
makes 2 loaves


2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp nutmeg

2 tsp ground cloves

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp coarse sea salt

1 16-oz can pumpkin (not pie filling)

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup water

2 tsp vanilla


1. preheat oven to 350. spray 2 large loaf pans (or 6 small) with cooking spray – i use coconut or grapeseed oil spray. set aside.

2. in a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. in a separate bowl, whisk the eggs. then add pumpkin, oil, water, and vanilla. mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until incorporated. pour into the prepared loaf pans.

3. bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted fully into the center of the bread comes out clean.

pumpkin bourbon milkshakes

my mother-in-law found this gem of a recipe and brought them over for one of the many desserts we had for thanksgiving this year.
i don’t have much to say but PUMPKIN. and BOURBON. and ICE CREAM.
need i say more?

pumpkin bourbon milkshakes
recipe via sunset
4 1/2 cartons – 14 oz each – vanilla ice cream
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup milk
1/2 cup bourbon (can be omitted, if desired)
1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
fresh whipped cream

1. blend a third of the ice cream, pumpkin, milk, and bourbon at a time in a blender until smooth, adding sugar and spices to the last batch. pour into a large bowl and stir to combine.
2. ladle milkshake mixture into 8 tall glasses and top with whipped cream, if desired, and a dash of nutmeg on top.

note: to make ahead OR if you are wanting a thicker milkshake – do step 1 up to one hour ahead & freeze in an airtight container. stir well before ladling into glasses.

photo via the kitchn

dalreach house sandwiches

dalreach house sandwiches - she likes to eat

my maternal grandparents used to live in london, and every thanksgiving when they weren’t able to go back to the states they would  travel up to scotland with all of their expat buddies and stay at a manor called dalreach house (pronounced dal-reek). they would enjoy the holiday amongst other texans, drinking scotch, eating too much, and illegally fishing for salmon in the river.

on the day after thanksgiving their first year at dalreach, the texans were wondering, “hey, what do we do with all this leftover turkey??”
then another texan (my grandma) said, “well, i have lots of jalapeños in my suitcase from my last trip home!”
and the dalreach house sandwich was born.
it’s made on sturdy toasty bread, with lots of melty cheese, hunks of leftover turkey, crispy bacon, and topped with as many jalapeños as you can handle.

this is honestly the only holiday recipe i look forward to all year long. i hope your family loves it as much as the chapmans and the barbers (and now the todds) do!

the dalreach house sandwich


leftover turkey from thanksgiving dinner

shredded cheddar cheese

cooked bacon (in strips)

pickled jalapeños (from a jar, not fresh)


whole grain bread


1. set the oven to broil, at about 500. take all of your bread slices (one slice for each sandwich) and lightly toast them, either in the oven on broil or in your toaster.

2. for each open-faced sandwich: spread mayo on one slice of bread (this depends on how much mayo each person likes). then top with thickly sliced turkey and 2-3 strips of bacon, then cover with shredded cheese. top with jalapeños as desired (for me or my mom, it’s LOTS).

3. broil in the oven for about 3-5 minutes, until cheese is completely melted and crust is nicely toasted & crispy. (watch them – they won’t take long and you don’t want them to burn.)

have a very happy thanksgiving and enjoy lots of these on the day after!

sweet potato pudding with pecan and gingersnap streusel

as i was going through last year’s bon appetit thanksgiving issue looking for recipe ideas for our holiday dinner party, i stumbled upon this little treasure.
it is a yummy twist on the traditional sweet potato dish with marshmallows.
after making the base batter, you fold in a homemade meringue, which makes it refreshingly light and not a heavy, filling dessert.
and the topping is sweet and crunchy, the perfect crust for such a fluffy, sweet pudding.

sweet potato pudding with pecan and gingersnap streusel
makes about 12 servings


1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped gingersnaps

1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

4 tbsp (1/2 stick) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into cubes

3 lbs sweet potatoes (about 3 large), scrubbed

3/4 cup half & half

1/2 cup orange juice

2 tbsp (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

2 tbsp packed dark brown sugar

1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

4 large egg yolks

5 large egg whites

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cream of tartar


1. for the topping: toss first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. add butter; using fingertips, rub in until well blended. cover & chill. (this can be done 1 day ahead, if needed.)

2. for the pudding: preheat oven to 400. roast potatoes on a baking sheet until tender, 45-60 minutes. cool; cut in half  lengthwise. scoop flesh into a bowl & mash. transfer 4 cups of mashed sweet potatoes to a large bowl. cover and chill. (this also can be done one day ahead.) bring to room temperature before continuing.

3. preheat oven to 350. butter a 13×9 baking dish. add half & half and next 4 ingredients to the mashed sweet potatoes. using a mixer, mix on low until blended. add a few pinches of salt. add yolks 1 at a time, blending after each one.

4. using clean, dry beaters beat whites in another large bowl until foamy. add salt and cream of tartar. beat until peaks form. fold whites into the sweet potatoes; spoon into baking dish. sprinkle with topping.

5. bake pudding until puffed and brown, about 45 minutes. serve immediately.


gently adapted recipe and photo via

pumpkin vanilla cinnamon roll cake

my husband and i just went to our first holiday dinner party of the season with a handful of our closest friends. it was potluck-style, so each of us girls brought several dishes. i brought the i-can’t-stop-eating-it marinated cheese,  sweet potato pudding and this amazing dessert from the picky palate.
it’s now one of my favorite holiday desserts.
mainly because it has this cinnamon roll buttery-sugary-icing going on that makes me now crave it all year long.
simply said, it is melt-in-your-mouth, butter and brown sugar gloriousness.

pumpkin vanilla cinnamon roll sheet cake
makes 16-20 squares


1 box yellow cake mix

4 eggs

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 (3.4 oz) box instant vanilla pudding mix

1/2 cup sour cream

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin

1 stick butter (8 tbsp)

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream (start with 1/4 cup and add a little more if needed)

1. preheat oven to 350. spray a jellyroll pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2. place cake mix, eggs, oil, buttermilk, pudding mix, sour cream and pumpkin in a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and beat with a mixer until well combined (about 1 1/2 minutes). pour into prepared jellyroll pan, spreading evenly.

3. place butter into a microwave safe bowl and melt, about 30 seconds. add brown sugar and cinnamon to bowl, mixing until combined. drizzle mixture evenly over the cake, then take a knife and run it through to swirl.

4. bake cake for 30-35 minutes, until cooked through and remove. while the cake is cooking, place powdered sugar and cream into a bowl and mix until creamy and smooth. drizzle over warm cake then let cool for 20 minutes before cutting into squares. (refrigerate if not serving the same day.)

enjoy with milk!

sweet potato tart

this recipe is one of my favorite holiday desserts.
it’s a play on the original sweet potato pie, but with a twist. it has mashed bananas in it, giving it a sweet second dimension and creamy texture. the recipe was created by a chef’s wife, who likes to serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (if you’re asking me, use blue bell homemade vanilla), a sprinkle of crumbled shortbread cookies and a drizzle of maple syrup. YUM.

fleur’s sweet potato tart


one 9-inch refrigerated piecrust

1 large sweet potato (10 to 12 ounces) – peeled, halved and thinly sliced

1/2 ripe banana, sliced

2 tsp dark brown sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup raw sugar

3 tbsp light brown sugar

3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp salt


1. preheat the oven to 375. roll out the dough and press into a 4×14 inch rectangular or 9 inch round tart pan with removable bottom; trim the top edge. set the pan on a baking sheet. prick the dough several times with a fork and bake until lightly golden, 15 minutes. (prick the tart shell if the dough puffs up during baking.)

2. meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the sweet potato slices with water and bring to a boil. cook until tender, about 15 minutes. strain and mash until smooth. transfer one cup to a bowl.

3. in a small, nonstick skillet, cook the sliced banana with the dark brown sugar over medium heat, turning once, until caramelized, about 5 minutes. mash the banana into the sweet potato, then stir in the eggs, cream, raw sugar, light brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt.

4. pour the mixture into the pre-baked tart shell and bake until slightly puffed and set, about 35 minutes. let cool on a rack, or refrigerate overnight.

recipe & photo via