Gingerbread Loaf

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Christmastime for most of us is filled with traditions. Traditions are a big part of what makes the season so special to me. Many of those traditions revolving around food. When the kids were small, we always baked cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. They are older now but I still bake cookies on Christmas Eve. Christmas candy is something my mama always made, and I have continued that tradition at my house.

My kids decorated a gingerbread house every year when they were younger. Wes stopped doing helping with that in his early teens, but Savannah continued, and we had a gingerbread house in the center of the table every year. That is, until last year. With Savannah’s busy schedule she just could not find the time to decorate one last year. I’m not going to lie. The table looked a little lonely and sad.

This year I have decided to change up the tradition a bit. We will have gingerbread at the house but in a different form. I will be making this delicious gingerbread loaf to snack on during our time together. This loaf fills the house with a wonderful aroma as it bakes. It’s perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee or as a snack, or even for dessert. It also makes a great gift for neighbors and coworkers.

In testing this recipe I used 1/2 cup molasses and 1/4 cup sorghum syrup. Sorghum is not quite as strong as molasses, and therefore a better choice for my family.

Gingerbread Loaf
 
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Ingredients
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ c. granulated sugar
  • ¼ c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ½ c. unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ c. molasses
  • 2 lg. eggs
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Glaze:
  • 1 c. confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tbsp. milk (more if needed)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice,and cloves.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl whisk together melted butter, molasses, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Whisk until thoroughly combined. (Mixture may look curdled.)
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined. Do not over mix.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the loaf to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely.
  6. For glaze: Whisk together the milk, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled loaf.
  7. If desired decorate the top with chopped nuts, dried cranberries, or whole fresh cranberries.
Notes
In testing this recipe, I used ½ c. molasses plus ¼ c. sorghum syrup.

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Smoky Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

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Like most southerners, we enjoy us some good barbecue around our house. Greg smokes a Boston butt that would win first place at barbecue cook-offs everywhere. Wes enjoys smoking ribs, and his method is flawless. Savannah and I have several homemade barbecue sauce recipes that we keep on hand too.

Barbecue chicken is not one of our specialties, though. That is, until recently when I tried a new barbecue sauce recipe. It’s a smoky sauce with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce that tastes amazing! It is the number one flavor that I am craving these days.

We have been eating this sauce on everything since I saw Valerie’s Home Cooking.  We have had it on Barbecue Nachos, barbecue burgers, barbecue shrimp, and on these delicious Barbecue Grilled Chicken Sandwiches.

Another important step, not to be skipped, in making these mouth-watering sandwiches is the brining of the chicken. In my opinion, there is no better Thanksgiving turkey than a brined turkey. I don’t fry chicken often but when I do you can bet I will brine it first.

The salt in a brine allows the chicken to retain moisture. A couple of things to remember when you brine chicken are first, try to use kosher salt or sea salt. Also, do not brine the chicken over two hours. It can get rubbery when overbrined.

 

Smoky Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • Brine:
  • ¼ c. coarse salt
  • ¼ c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 20 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 c. hot water plus 3 c. cold water
  • 1 lemon, thinlhy sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a cleaver
  • Smoky Barbecue Sauce:
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • 1 lg. or 2 small cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 c. ketchup
  • ½ c. molasses
  • ⅓ c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, seeded and roughly chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Grilled Chicken:
  • 2 lg. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half vertically, then cut into thin cutlets, horizontally
  • 4 lg. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Buns
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Sliced red onion
  • Sliced Colby Jack cheese
  • Additional Barbecue sauce, if desired
Instructions
  1. To make the brine: Place the salt, brown sugar, and peppercorns in a large glass bowl and add hot water. Whisk until the salt and brown sugar are dissolved. Stir in the cold water and let cool to room temperature. Pour the brine over the chicken and stir in the lemon slices, onion, and garlic. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let stand in the refrigerator for 2 hours, turning the chicken once of twice.
  2. To make the barbecue sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook about 30 seconds. Add ½ c. water and the ketchup, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire, chipotles, a pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Store the sauce in the refrigerator.
  3. To grill the chicken: Preheat the grill to high. When ready to cook, brush the grate with oil. Arrange the chicken on the hot grate and grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165° F. During the last 2 minutes or so, start basting the chicken on both sides with barbecue sauce. Remove chicken from grill and assemble sandwiches right away.

 

 

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