Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bread

UPDATE: Good Morning! I have made 4 loaves of this amazing pumpkin bread and I have tweaked the recipe to our liking. All I did was change the spices. It just didn’t have enough “fall flavor” for us. The changes are below in orangeI really like it even more now. (The original recipe called for 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. of nutmeg if you don’t want your bread to taste like the amazing spice of fall.)

Tomorrow is September 1st and as my friend Kim in California says, we begin the wonderful, amazing “ber” months: SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER, and DecemBER! They include wonderful fall (my favorite season), my sweet granddaughter Emery’s birthday, my youngest son Jonathan’s birthday, my birthday, and the beautiful Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, also my favorites. 

I made cream cheese pumpkin bread today (my pictures below) and wanted to share this delicious recipe. I have tried many recipes for pumpkin bread, but my search is now over! This one is a keeper. It had me at CREAM CHEESE! It makes 2 loaves. My husband and I had a piece with coffee this morning. I took 2 pieces next door to my parents and I took the second loaf to my friend Lanie this afternoon. 

I found this recipe while looking at one of my favorite Instagram accounts “Eunamae’s,” named after the grandmother of the IG account owner. Her name is really Amy Hannon, she is a pastor’s wife from Arkansas and the founder of Love, Welcome, Serve. She has a fabulous cookbook by the same name. I love her heart for faith-filled hospitality. It reminds me of the heart of my church’s Tasting Grace Mentoring-in-the-Kitchen ministry! Go follow her on Instagram. I really believe she and I would be fast friends. 

CREAM CHEESE PUMPKIN BREAD

For the pumpkin bread:
3 cups all purpose flour

1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup oil
1 15oz can cooked pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2/3 cup water

For the cream cheese swirl
8 oz cream cheese, softened well at room temperature

¼ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk

  1. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients together, breaking up any clumps of brown sugar. Stir it all together well. 
  2. Add the wet ingredients and mix well.
  3. Divide into two prepared loaf pans.
    (Amy suggests using a glass loaf pan, so I did and loved the results.)
  4. Mix together the cream cheese swirl ingredients until smooth.
  5. Equally spoon dollops of cream cheese mixture over the pumpkin batter. Then use a long toothpick or skewer to drag and swirl the cream cheese around the top of the batter. Just swirl it around, do not stir it into the batter.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool 10 minutes in the pans then invert and cool completely.  Here is my “cream cheese swirling” picture prior to baking.

Fall – I can’t wait for you to get here in 3 weeks but until then, I will be making this wonderful bread to share and serve!

Happy Almost Fall Y’all!

Gran Jan

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Gran Jan’s Chicken Pie Recipe

I was home last week as my office (our local school system) was shut down for Spring Break. It was a marvelous week.  I am fully convinced (as if there were any doubt) that I am going to be a fan of retirement. I worked harder than ever in my gardens, but it was great. I spent one day visiting two different women in very different seasons of life. One is a brand new mother with a 1 month old son, the other is a beautiful wife and grandmother who recently had surgery. I loved visiting with them and also shared a pound cake with them. The Retirement Countdown is officially at 40 DAYS! FORTY! FOUR-OH! FOR-TY! The slower pace will be so welcomed. Was I busy? Absolutely! But I picked my own pace – therein is the JOY!

Today I am sharing this wonderful chicken pie recipe again. I’ve made it twice recently and it is a keeper. It makes such a nice meal and the crust on top rises up in perfection. This recipe is one that I had published in a Gooseberry Patch cookbook several years ago, entitled Slow Cookers, Casseroles & Skillets I also made it for another friend who recently had some surgery and she and her husband both said it was pure comfort food. I like that.

I also like that it is simply a chicken pie with simple vegetables. You may keep it plain or add peas/carrots or even a can (drained) of mixed veggies. I like to have a big salad as a side dish, or sometimes another hearty vegetable like black-eyed peas or corn on the cob.

Pick up a rotisserie chicken from your local deli grocery store and you’re halfway through with the preparation!

Ingredients:

1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled from bone and cut into bite-sized pieces OR
4 cups cooked chicken, also cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can of drained peas/carrots or mixed vegetables
1 can cream of chicken soup (10 3/4 oz size can)
2 cups of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 1/2 cups of self-rising flour (White Lily preferred)
1 cup of buttermilk (maybe a splash more if it seems too thick)
1 stick of melted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 casserole or a large round casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  3. Spread cut up chicken over the bottom of your casserole dish. (Lightly salt/pepper the chicken.)
  4. Evenly spread the drained vegetables over the chicken. 
  5. Whisk together until smooth the cream of chicken soup, broth, and cornstarch and pour this over the chicken.
  6. Now whisk the flour, buttermilk and melted butter together and pour/spread evenly over the soup/broth mix.
  7. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Serve with a side of your favorite vegetable or a big green salad!

This recipe is simple comfort food.  Love your family, make a chicken pie tonight. Sit around the table and linger for a while in conversation. These are the best times.

~Gran Jan

        

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Countdown to Retirement

For a woman who could probably find her own picture in the dictionary by “get-it-done,” or as we say in the South “git-er-dun,” I am so excited about my upcoming retirement from my 30-year day job (May 31, 2018)! I’ve worked in our local school system for that many years, beginning as a school secretary and retiring now from the Queen Bee 🙂 job as administrative assistant to the Superintendent of Schools. My heart is full of wonderful memories as I’ve been blessed to work with some of the finest teachers and administrators anywhere! I began working when I was 15 years old as the popcorn-maker ticket-taker in a local cinema. Those were the days! This old gal is ready for the next season.

R-Relax

This one is going to take some time for me because I’ve been bound to a set schedule for many years. You know the drill – get to work by 8:00, take a lunch hour, leave work at 5:00 PM. I know I will relax, of course I will, and honestly, having more time in the mornings is going to be glorious.

E-Entertain
I love to cook and actually just told my husband this past weekend that I’m looking forward to having guests for supper and we will enjoy sharing our farm with them. That’s hard to do when Saturdays are your only day to get chores done and catch up from a work week. I want to enjoy hospitality without stress!

T -Travel
Truthfully I’m really a content homebody at heart, and most of my traveling will be to spend time with grandchildren! However – two fun events are already on the schedule for me. My sisters and I are planning a cruise to celebrate our mom’s 80th birthday, a memory-maker for sure. Oh, and there’s a trip the week after I retire with my BFF Lanie! We are going to a quilting conference in Missouri. Quilting is our JOY and we can’t wait.

I – Indulge
The dictionary says to indulge is to “give in to wishes and whims.” I’m not sure what indulging will look like for me, but I hope it includes coffee with my parents next door, long bike rides, occasional naps, and time in my sewing room and garden. I still can’t believe I won’t be clock-bound every morning. Thankful.

R- Read
Now this is happening for sure! I have a tower of books waiting for me as well as several special reading places outside by our pond, on my front porch, and in a comfy chair in my home study. I have loved reading since I first learned at the age of five and long for more page-turning and less computer screen-staring!

E – Enjoy
Since I’m planning to relax, entertain, travel, indulge and read – enjoyment is sure to be mine. I also have plans to partner with my husband as he begins a new ministry as Pastor to Senior Adults at our church. He has been a worship leader for 45 years so this transition is big, and one we anticipate with joy. We are thankful to continue serving our church family in this new ministry. I have a desire to establish a mentoring program between our senior ladies and the young women in our church and community. That will be something I know I will enjoy.

My retirement app on my phone says “2 months and 29 days” to retirement. WOW! Let the countdown begin!

Psalm 130:5 Amplified Bible (AMP)
I wait [patiently] for the Lord,
my soul [expectantly] waits,

And in His word do I hope.

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2017 Scripture Memory Team – December

It’s the last day of 2017 and I’m plugging this last post in before the clock strikes 12 midnight. My goal for 2018 is to blog more – and I really look forward to that! The year 2018 is shaping up with two BIG events on the calendar. One for my sweet husband and one for me! That post will follow very soon. God is so good! 

In 2017 we celebrated five events that ended with a zero: Gary celebrated his 60th birthday in February, in June we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary, in October we celebrated living in the country for 10 years, my 60th birthday rolled around in November, and then 3 weeks ago I celebrated 20 years serving in women’s ministry at my church! 60+40+10+60+20=190 years of life and love!!!

So on this cold rainy Sunday afternoon here in middle Georgia, I am closing with my last two memory verses for 2017.  

December 1 – Ecclesiastes 7:8 (CSB Version)

The end of a matter is better
t
han its beginning;
a patient spirit is better
than a proud spirit.

December 15 – Luke 1:37 (Amplified Version)

For with God nothing is
or ever shall be impossible.

These two passages are full of hope and full of confidence in Almighty God. As I look forward to 2018 I know the end of a matter is surely better than its beginning. As we end 2017, I can say yes to looking back on the faithfulness of God in my life. I know that a patient spirit will guide me into 2018 and… nothing is OR EVER SHALL BE impossible with God! What can you even add to that. As 2018 rolls in tonight, I am trusting God and this powerful truth to hold me close.

I pray you will do the same! 

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October 2017 – iPhone Pix

A scroll through my iPhone pictures makes me so happy! I easily get lost in the memories they evoke. I replay conversations and the sweetness of events. I did that this weekend and saved several pictures to share here for the grandkids’ enjoyment too. I do wonder about this iPhone generation of kids. I know my daughters-in-law each make memory books on-line through various resources, and I’m thankful they do.  But I rarely print a picture anymore. Not like I did when my boys were little. We were forever printing “rolls of film.” Even typing that seems strange.

Whenever all FIVE of my grandkids are together there is lots of NOISE and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They are all healthy, wonderful, and so very smart. They decided to put on a “program” for us down by the pond. It was such a great show. The only props were sunglasses and a little orange flag that stood in for the Grand Old Flag we love. Grandson Jackson was the Producer-Director. We were all requested to stand and recite the Pledge to the Flag, followed by singing the National Anthem. Then each of the actors introduced themselves, giving their age, school name, and something interesting about them. Little Abe told us he was “upset with tractors,” and the others quickly corrected his line and he repeated that he was “obsessed” with tractors. It was quite a show. Best I’ve seen in a long time. A bag of popcorn would have added to Gran Jan’s JOY.Fall gardening is my favorite for two reasons:  no humidity and I love greens!  This was my first year to plant kale and it has gone crazy in the garden. I couldn’t share a post without some garden JOY! I cooked that basket of collard greens and they were ALL eaten because Jonathan took the leftovers home.

Sweet Madie Ruth helped me roll out the dough for yeast rolls. I love time in the kitchen with the grandkids and it is becoming even better as they get older.This is one picture from a bunch I am saving for a future post! My husband and I are making a farm table for our home. We’ve been working on it for a couple of months and it is almost ready. We have taken two adult Wood-working classes and I have learned so much. Gary has really done most of the work, and we will be so proud to get the table home soon – before Thanksgiving!My sisters and I got together and made cookies together. Our mother stopped by and we had lunch together. It was one of the most delightful days I’ve had in a long time. We laughed so much I know it was pure therapy for body and soul.Our youngest grandson Abe was so proud of his John Deere Trio. He wanted me to take a picture and even got our dog Copper to pose for the picture. Abe is obsessed with tractors. 🙂   Abe’s siblings Zeke and Madie joined in the John-Deere-Trio picture to round out the fun.  I love these kids so much sometimes I think my heart will just burst. My son Jonathan will often bring Jackson & Emery down to the Farm on the weekends to play. Emery especially loves the donkeys and cows. I have a swing under a huge oak tree that Gary gave me for my birthday a couple of years ago.  I love it so much and love it even more when the grandkids swing together.Life is good in the country.


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Gran Jan Camp – 2017

The second GRAN JAN CAMP is a wrap! I went from one camper to three, so it was BIG BIG BIG! Here are my campers, my three oldest grandchildren, Madie, Jackson, and Zeke! Zeke attended the inaugural Gran Jan Camp last summer, so he was a great helper and co-director and “watch me, this is what we do” guide! He just finished 2nd grade and Madie and Jackson just completed first grade, the only prerequisite for attending, besides being my grandchild!
The theme for our camp this summer was “ENCOURAGEMENT!” Our focus verse was I Thessalonians 5:11:

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Our focus was that our WORDS MATTER! We talked about encouraging people we don’t know and people we do know, most especially our families. We started this year with a Scavenger Hunt! I had the best time putting this together. I had 15 clues that ended up at the firepit by our pond. I worked on the clues and enjoyed putting them out all over the place… Clue 1 started inside our home, and the next clue led to another spot, to another, to another! These are some smart grandkids, I tell you that. I had to run to keep up with them and I don’t run. 🙂

So our big project was “encouragement rocks.”  Each grandchild had 4 rocks to decorate with words of spiritual encouragement, and they did amazing! Just look at these rocks! We encouraged folks we don’t know with words of hope and healing. We then went on a field trip to place the rocks in three different stores. We prayed that just the right person who needed to be encouraged that day would find the rock meant for them. We had a blast and talked about the joy that was ours to be an encourager to someone else.

We made snack necklaces to enjoy from all our hard rock placement that morning! 🙂 Zoom in close to see the “snack necklaces.”  They used pretzels, cheerios, fruit loops cereal, and gummies and enjoyed munching on these. Zeke had almost eaten his before I could take the picture!

When you live in the county without a swimming pool and it is over 90 degrees you buy a “slip and slide!”  They had a blast on this thing during the early evening and Pop and I enjoyed watching them.  After they had slipped and slid they wanted to play in the pond, and off they went. Pop even got in on the fun in the pond with them and then our lab, Copper jumped in with them too.

One of my favorite things we do is bury a time capsule on the last day of Gran Jan Camp. Jackson and Emery wrote letters to “their 18-year-old selves.” Yes they did! We will unearth these in 10 years and I pray we can all be together to do so. “Lord willing,” as my Granny Maloy always said about everything.

Madie and Jackson each added a “fidget spinner” to their time capsules.  It’s a recent new toy that is all the rage now. You basically just hold it, twirl it, and watch it spin. Jackson wondered if in 10 years if fidget spinners would even still be around. Stay tuned!

The time capsules were placed in the ground right outside Pop’s shop in Gran Jan’s zinnia garden.  Zeke’s was already there from last year and so we know exactly where they will be. I printed some pictures from the week to place inside, and I also wrote a letter to Madie and one to Jackson to place inside the time capsules too. Pop wrapped them up tight with plastic and sealed them well.

The joy of Gran Jan Camp is all about memories and family legacy. I loved having uninterrupted time with my grandchildren these three days.  Time to just be with them, praying and playing together. What a joy to be able to share in the lives of these precious little people.  I love them so much it hurts. You grandmothers out there know exactly what I mean by that.

I’m already getting a folder of ideas for next year’s camp and will enjoy this season while it lasts.  To everything there is a season (Ecclesiastes 3:1), and I know my campers will eventually outgrow Gran Jan Camp, but prayerfully they will never outgrow the memories.

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2017 Scripture Memory Team – May

May is here and has been delightful in many ways. The weather today is so nice. Right now it’s a beautiful 77 degrees with a nice breeze blowing. My favorite kind of gardening weather.  Two of my wonderful grandchildren have May birthdays and were born exactly two weeks apart back in 2010, Madie on May 10 and Jackson on May 24. They both just finished first grade and are Gran Jan’s JOY! The time is flying by.

Another fun event in May was our annual Worship Ministry Picnic for our choir, orchestra and technical team workers. We hosted it at the Morton Farm the first Saturday of May and it was a lot of fun. The families enjoyed having the room to roam and see the cows and chickens, and fish in the pond. Grilled hamburgers and hotdogs with all the trimmings filled the menu.  Everyone pitched in and helped serve one another in love. The fellowship was sweet. That brings me to my May 1st memory verse. It’s quick, it’s simple, and it’s necessary! Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. Offering hospitality is a way to show love. Doing it without grumbling is icing on that cake you may serve! We had over 150 folks and we enjoyed each one.  I pray I will always be kind and hospitable…without grumbling.


This next verse jumped out at me during a recent sermon by my Pastor, Jim Perdue. I love the Psalms and when he announced his text I was eager to turn there in my Bible. The Lord IS righteous and he LOVES righteous deeds. The best part is He gives us the righteousness through His son Jesus to do those deeds. We can’t be righteous in our own strength.  He will take care of us with His fellowship, protection and with the favor of a loving father. One day we will be in His presence and enjoy those blessings for eternity. But aren’t you thrilled to know those blessings now? I need Him every hour of every day.

It seems as though our society is getting darker and darker, people getting more and more evil. I believe it is because of quick news and media and the way we hear about everything so quickly that makes it seem this way.  This verse helps me press in to my heart the truth that God is in control. He sees and He knows every single deed being done, whether righteous or unrighteous.  I don’t need to keep any score pads in my purse (or in my mind and heart either). He’s got it all in His Mighty Hands. Let’s remember that He will take care of us as we trust in Him. And one glorious day, we will BEHOLD HIS FACE! Wrap your mind around that truth for a moment.

Gran Jan

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