Fluffy Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Fluffy Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Accountability.  What an important word.  Over the years, it has become more and more important for various reasons.  It was not a word I really focused on until I was an adult – and the word really made an impression on me with respect to work.  When you are a kid – you always want to blame everyone else for anything that goes wrong.  Mom gets a big brunt of these…but seriously, it is always someone else’s fault.  At times, that can be accurate – but it most cases, everyone has some aspect of accountability in the situation.

We are dealing with a tricky issue right now with my younger daughter.  There is a boy in her class that has been bothering her for quite some time.  At first it seemed innocent enough, and that maybe he had a crush on her – but unfortunately it has gotten a little more serious, and he has started to get physical.  There is always a part of me that wonders if she is egging him on – but at some point you cross the line.  Even some slight antagonism does not deserve physical violence or disparaging language.  Fortunately we are on a good path forward though with the teacher’s support.

Some adults though never really learn to hold themselves accountable – and it can be extremely damaging.  Sometimes all it takes is just a little humility – to let the other person see that you are not perfect.  Sometimes though you wait too long to hold yourself accountable, and by the time it hits you, it is too late.  The damage is done, and there is no going back.

When I started this blog, one of my hesitations was around accountability.  If I was going to post recipes, tell you how great they turned out – then you try them and they are bust – that wouldn’t make me feel very good.  Now I know like everyone else – cooking is as much of an art as it is a science.  Ingredients have a lot to do with how the recipes come out – and ingredients can be different depending on where you live, how fresh they are, etc…  Just last week I got a comment on my banana bread recipe – the person’s banana bread didn’t rise, and she didn’t understand why.  I suspected it had to do with the baking soda/powder she used – and maybe one of them had gone bad.  She tried it again with fresh baking soda/powder, and fortunately – it came out perfectly.  One of the reasons why I post so many recipes from Cooking Light and Bon Appetit – is they have a team of testers that make these recipes before they are published.  Then I make it myself – and if it turns out good – usually I put it on the blog.  I hold myself accountable to posting good quality recipes  – and if you can follow directions, you will come out with good results – but that doesn’t always happen – and when it doesn’t – I am truly sorry.

I know people were eyeing the biscuits that I posted last week with the Broccoli-Cheese Soup – so here they are.  I make a lot of biscuits, but this recipe from Cooking Light is really a keeper.  I loved how quick and easy these were – and that they were seriously light as a feather.  They were by far some of the best biscuits I have ever made – and you can hold me accountable if you don’t agree.

Ingredients

  • 5.6 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 3.6 ounces white whole-wheat flour (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups very cold fat-free buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450°.

Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk to combine.

Place butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH for 1 minute or until completely melted. Add cold buttermilk, stirring until butter forms small clumps. Add oil, stirring to combine.

Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture; stir with a rubber spatula until just incorporated (do not overmix) and batter pulls away from sides of bowl. (Batter will be very wet.)

Drop batter in mounds of 2 heaping tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 450° for 11 minutes or until golden. Cool 3 minutes; serve warm.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Fluffy Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Zucchini Mini Muffins

Zucchini Mini Muffins

I am tired – and I am cranky.  That is not a good combination for a blog post…but I am going to plow through it anyway.  Cooking often helps alleviate my stress, let’s see if writing about it does the same.

Do you ever have hunches that you can’t substantiate?  For me, it happens all the time.  For a very analytical person, I tend to sense things extremely well.  The problem is, because I am so analytical, unless I have data to back up my suspicions, I don’t often act until I can find the proof.  Of course this doesn’t always work to my advantage – sometimes I wait until I am too far deep into the hole – and it is hard to climb your way out at that point – proof or no proof.  I am finding myself in one of those situations right now, and it is not pretty.  I need to find some foot holes, and create a plan to crawl out.  I am about half-way there, and there are two paths to take.  I sure do hope I take the right one.

I have mentioned this before – but I also have a good sense about recipes.  I remember talking to friend about that – I felt that I was very lucky with recipes.  Most of the recipes I try actually come out quite well.  She told me it wasn’t luck – I was good at reading recipes.  I didn’t realize that was a skill – but I am starting to realize that it is.  While I am reading a recipe, I am making it in my brain, and there are times when I can actually taste it.  Now – back to reality – not everything turns out tasting like it did in my head.  There are times when I am off – for the better, and for the worse.  Sometimes I tear out a recipe thinking it will be good – and it turns out to be just amazing.  I love when that happens.  The opposite is not such much fun.

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light – and I knew they would not be as good as my tried and true Zucchini Bread recipe, that I have been making for 20+ years – but I thought these would be good – and they were terrific.  Mostly because they were bite sized.  They were so easy to pop in your mouth, that they didn’t last long in our house.  I think the girls ate about 5 each for breakfast the next morning, they just couldn’t stop.  I can’t complain when they are getting a green vegetable in first thing in the morning.

Well – that’s it for me – thanks for the diversion – I need to go work on my exit strategy.  I wish I could just cook my way out of this one…unfortunately not this time.

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2/3 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  •   Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a large bowl. Combine zucchini and next 5 ingredients (through egg) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add zucchini mixture to flour mixture, stirring batter just until combined. Divide batter evenly among 24 miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Zucchini Mini Muffins

Pistachio Pound Cake

Pistachio Pound Cake

Wow…what a weekend!!  It was spectacular – blue sky, warm temperatures.  You would have thought it was July.  Seriously – this is nicer than any weekend that we usually get in June.  We get these days here and there – and you know who I feel sorry for the most?  Those poor people who have just moved to Seattle, and think that we are all under a conspiracy here with our weather.  They are all thinking that we just make up the fact that it’s raining all the time.  I wish it were true…but sadly, it is not.  Just wait until Junuary, and you will see.

I love pistachios – no, I mean really LOVE pistachios.  I cannot just eat one, in fact, I cannot just eat ten.  Once I start, I can’t stop.  They are definitely my weakness, especially those crunchy salty ones. My daughters love pistachios too, and are always asking me to buy them.  I seriously say no only because I know I will be eating most of them.  Every once in a while I buy a big sack though, and we all sit around the table cracking open those shells and popping them in our mouths.  So, when I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, I knew I had to give it a try.  Fortunately for me, Trader Joes now sells bags of pre-shelled pistachios – and they are not salted.  It makes baking with pistachios such a pleasant experience.  I remember the first time I wanted to make something with pistachios – my husband and I spend hours shelling the nuts so I had them ready.  At first it was one for me, one for the bowl…but I soon realized if I kept doing that, I would run out of nuts – and I needed to have enough for the recipe.  Boy was that a test of my will power.

This cake was delicious – it was densely populated with pistachio nuts – and they didn’t just float to the top or bottom.  It was rich and buttery as well – as you would expect when you are using two sticks of butter.  The girls loved it, as did I – it was quite a treat – and so easy to make – that is, if you have a Trader Joes nearby.  Otherwise – good luck with this.  If you can get through shelling the pistachios, with enough left for the recipe – a big gold star for you – and a beautiful pound cake to celebrate…

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped, divided

Preparation

Arrange a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 325°. Coat a 9x5x3″ loaf pan with nonstick spray. Dust pan with flour; tap out excess.

Whisk 2 cups flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2–3 minutes. Add sugar; beat until well incorporated, 1–2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions. Add juices and zests; beat until well combined (mixture will look curdled), 2–3 minutes. Add dry ingredients; reduce speed to low and beat just until blended. Fold in 3/4 cup pistachios. Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup pistachios over.

Bake cake, rotating halfway through, until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely in pan. Run a sharp knife around sides to loosen; unmold cake.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Pistachio Pound Cake

Streusel Quick Bread

Streusel Bread

Sometimes I like to think that Christmas and New Year’s are the chocolate cookies of the Oreo, and the time between those two holidays is the cream filling.  For me, this is the best part. You have one holiday down, one to go – and now you have a week in between to enjoy yourself.  There was a time when I liked to work during those days – it was nice and quiet as most people were on vacation, and you could get a lot of stuff done.  Now that both of my kids are off from school – I like to be home with them.  Some years we go away, other years we are home just doing nothing.  Those are the days that baking usually ends up being the activity.

I have been on this kick lately to have my older daughter make Banana Bread all by herself.  I have a ton of frozen bananas and so whenever I know she has some free time, I pull some bananas out of the freezer and send her on her way. The last batch she made was terrific.  So – when does a sweet bread turn into a quick bread?  I have wondered this for a long time.  So – I decided to Bing it and find out.  The first thing that came up was a definition from Wikipedia:

“Quick bread is a type of bread which is leavened with leavening agents other than yeast. Quick breads include many cakes, brownies and cookies, as well as banana bread, beer bread, biscuits, cornbread, muffins, pancakes, scones, and soda bread.”

Well, now that makes a ton of sense.  Technically most of the sweets I make without yeast can be considered a quick bread.  So now that we have settled, we can move onto this latest recipe from Cooking Light.  This was definitely a quick bread, and a delicious one at that – and completely suitable for kids to make.  It is great for dessert with some whipped cream on the side, or with a nice espresso in the morning.  It is definitely quicker than making a coffee cake, but then again, without yeast, isn’t that just another quick bread?

Ingredients

Streusel:

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Bread:

  • 9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3  large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fat-free buttermilk
  • Baking spray with flour (such as Baker’s Joy)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare streusel, combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter, stirring until well combined. Stir in nuts. Set aside.

To prepare bread, weigh or lightly spoon 9 ounces flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine 5 tablespoons butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; beat in vanilla. Beating at low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined.

Scrape half of batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with baking spray; sprinkle with half of streusel mixture. Spread remaining batter over streusel; swirl. Sprinkle remaining streusel on top of batter. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Streusel Quick Bread

Pumpkin Bread

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is just a little more than a week away.  Where did fall go?  I wish it would stick around a little while longer.  In fact, I am usually the first person to take the decorations down after a holiday – but would you believe that the Halloween decorations are still up in my house?  I am not sure what is going on.  Maybe I am just in denial – wishing it would last.

The other week my older daughter reminded me that I hadn’t made any Pumpkin Bread yet – and what would fall be without Pumpkin Bread?  So I was trying to decide if I just go to my mother’s recipe (which is amazing by the way), the recipe I tried last year from the Macrina Bakery (which was also amazing), or if I could possibly find this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated to be better.  Sometimes they really know what they are talking about, and other times, it is a complete failure.  Well, I figured I had to test it and see.

My older daughter is getting more and more comfortable in the kitchen – in fact, she is really such a pleasure to cook with.  She is up for doing anything – and lately, she has insisted that I just give her projects and let her try on her own.  This one I decided would be a joint effort – so I gave her the struesel topping to make first, while I started on the bread.  Unfortunately I should have given her a little more instruction, so the topping was too soft when I put it on top – so it basically melted into the bread.  It was a great addition to this recipe though, it was actually my favorite part.  The bread was pretty good, but not as good as my mother’s recipe.  I thought it needed more oil, although it did stay moist for days.  The only real issue I had with this bread was that the cream cheese never really completely mixed it, and you can see little spots on the bread – although this didn’t impact the flavor at all.

So – give it a try, and let me know what you think – or if your cream cheese blended nicely.  Maybe it was just me?  And now – with this part of fall officially completed – I am off to finally take down the Halloween decorations…onto Thanksgiving!

Ingredients

Topping

  • 5 tablespoons packed (2 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Bread

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 15 ounce can unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

Preparation

Topping

Using finger, mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined and topping resembles wet sand; set aside.

Bread

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans.  Whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda together in a bowl.

Combine pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Cook mixture, stirring constantly, until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, 6 to 8 minutes.  Remove pot from the heat; stir in pranulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, and cream cheese until combined.  Let mixture stand for 5 minutes.  Whisk until no visible pieces of cream cheese remain and mixture is homogeneous.

Whisk together eggs and buttermilk.  Add egg mixture to pumpkin mixture and whisk to combine.  Fold flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until combined (some small lumps of flour are OK).  Scrap batter into prepared pans.  Sprinkle topping evenly over top of each loaf.  Bake until skewer inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes.  Let breads cool in pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Remove breads from pans and let cool for at least 1 1/2 hours.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Pumpkin Bread

Monkey Bread

Sometimes I feel like I should have a bucket list on my blog.  I have noticed over the years that some people do that – they write down everything they have ever wanted to make, and little by little they start crossing things off of their list.  Some people are really on a mission, and will only make things on their list, while others stray from time to time, thinking that eventually they will get to everything.  I do not have a bucket list of foods to make written down, but I certainly have one in my head.  The problem is that quite often my head is too filled with work and kid stuff, and the food sometimes gets the shaft.  I know that eventually I am going to have to make list – like I do for everything else these days.  If it is not on a list, it does not get done – as sad as that may sound.

If I did have a list though, Monkey Bread definitely would have been on it.  My favorite part about having a list?  Crossing things off…  I have wanted to make Monkey Bread for years – I thought it would be a fun baking project with the kids.  I saw this lighter recipe in Cooking Light, and decided that if we are going to go through with this endeavor, that making it light might not be a bad thing.  You would have never known this was a light recipe.  The kids LOVED making this – they had a little assembly line going.  The finished product was amazing – especially when it came right out of the oven.  We decided it tasted so good warm, that every time we took some more, we warmed it slightly in the microwave.  After making this, I decided if I did have a bucket list, I would pretend I never made this, so I could make it again…

Ingredients

  • 13 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
  • 4 3/4 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1  package quick-rise yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup very warm fat-free milk (120° to 130°)
  • 1/4 cup very warm orange juice (120° to 130°)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  •  Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons fat-free milk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached; mix until combined. With mixer on, slowly add 1 cup milk, juice, honey, and 2 tablespoons butter; mix dough at medium speed 7 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a shallow dish. Combine 3 tablespoons milk and 2 tablespoons butter in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk.

Punch dough down; divide into 8 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll into an 8-inch rope. Cut each dough rope into 8 equal pieces, shaping each piece into a 1-inch ball. Dip each ball in milk mixture, turning to coat, and roll in sugar mixture. Layer balls in a 12-cup Bundt pan coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining 7 dough ropes. Sprinkle any remaining sugar mixture over dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until almost doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until golden. Cool 5 minutes on a wire rack. Place a plate upside down on top of bread; invert onto plate. Combine powdered sugar, remaining milk, and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Microwave at HIGH 20 seconds or until warm. Drizzle over bread.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Monkey Bread

Chai Banana Bread

Happy Mother’s Day!!  What a perfect day – seriously – 75 degrees and sunny, that alone creates a happiness in the air – especially with the cold spring we have had.  We joked that it was nicer today than it was all last summer.  We have been hit hard with the bad weather here…and even I, who loves the clouds, had a smile on my face with the clear blue sky day.  It didn’t hurt that my girls were extra special good today, and showered me with cards, gifts, and lots of hugs.

My mother is an incredible cook – she cooks just about everything and anything – but my favorite recipe of hers is still her banana bread.  It is really just the most perfect bread there is.  I seldom try other recipes, but this one caught my eye in Cooking Light – mostly because it was created by a 10-year-old.  I knew that my mother’s would be better, but I decided to try this one anyway.  My husband loves cinnamon, and if nothing else, I would add these spices to my mother’s bread the next time I make it.  This one uses butter instead of oil, and it is much healthier than my mother’s recipe – much less sugar, and less fat.  I made a couple of slight changes to the recipe, because I thought the dough needed a little more moisture – and I decided against the glaze on top – it really didn’t need it.

This bread was really not bad at all – in fact, we actually enjoyed it a lot.  My mother’s is still moister, but this gave it a good run for its money.  I am definitely going to try to add the spices to my mother’s recipe next – just for fun.

So – I hope all your mother’s out there had a wonderful day – and Happy Mother’s Day to you Mom – wish I could share a slide with you!

Preparation

  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3)
  • 1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 10 ounce all-purpose flour (2 1/4 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed just until blended. Add sugars; beat at medium just until blended.

Weigh or spoon flour into dry measuring cups. Combine flour, soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended.

Combine cardamom and next 3 ingredients. Stir 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mixture and 1 teaspoon vanilla into batter. Pour into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 65 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rack. Remove from pan; cool.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chai Banana Bread

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Cheese and Chive Challah Rolls

Ok, there is only ONE DAY LEFT to vote in the Girl Scout Cookie Recipe Contest!!!  Please go here for all the information, and please vote – if you have already voted, consider voting again.  I just found out that the winner is also going to be on TV, do you believe it??  That is really the last thing I need right now, but it would be an experience I would never forget, and my girls would go NUTS!!

I was talking to one of my favorite people at work today.  I won’t go into more details to protect their identity, but this person was asking me if I ever felt like one of those chinese acrobats that spins plates.  That analogy never occurred to me, but YES, all the time – in fact I am doing it as I write this right now.  Lately this person has felt like that quite often, and boy do I understand.  I am constantly focussing on the plate that is just about to stop, and it is a hard game, let me tell you.  I didn’t know what to tell the person other than, hang in there.  Eventually the plates will start spinning on their own, at least that’s what I keep telling myself…

Every once in a while though, and only when I can see the forest through the trees – I decide to make bread.  I saw this recipe in Cooking Light at least a year or so ago, and it has been sitting in my pantry ever since, just waiting for me to see that forest.  When I finally made it, I had every intention of following the recipe exactly and making a Challah.  Unfortunately I don’t see the forest that often, and the bread flour I used was probably past it’s prime.  During the first rising, it hardly rose at all.  So, I quickly decided instead of chucking the dough all together, I would try making rolls, and see if I could salvage the ingredients.  Luckily for me, it worked.  They ended up rising during the second round, and in the oven, and they were excellent.  Nice and fluffy on the inside, a little crusty on the outside, and just all around a good recipe.  So – the next time you see that forest, treat yourself to some bread making.  Maybe while you are waiting for the dough to rise, you can spin some of those plates that stopped a while ago.  I know it alway makes me feel better.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm 2% reduced-fat milk (100° to 110°)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded aged fontina cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • 10 7/10 ounces bread flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 13 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour, divided (about 3 cups)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preparation

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Stir in butter, salt, 5 egg yolks, and 3 eggs. Stir in fontina and chives. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 10.7 ounces bread flour (about 2 1/4 cups) and 12.4 ounces (about 2 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour to yeast mixture, stirring until a soft dough forms (dough will be sticky).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding remaining 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, for 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch down dough; cover and let rise 50 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

To make Challah, follow these instructions:  Divide dough into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Roll each ball into a rope about 15 inches long. Place 3 ropes parallel to one another; braid ropes. Pinch ends together, and tuck under loaf. Repeat procedure with remaining 3 ropes. Place loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

To make rolls following these instructions:  Cut dough into 24 equal portions.  Create a round ball out of each portion by tucking it under itself.  Place the balls into two 12 cup muffin tins.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine 1 egg and 2 tablespoons water, stirring well with a whisk. Brush loaves  (or rolls) gently with egg mixture. Sprinkle loaves (or rolls) evenly with Parmigiano-Reggiano (which I didn’t do, and they were still amazing). Bake at 375° for 25 minutes (or less if making rolls) or until golden. Remove from baking sheet; cool on a wire rack.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cheese and Chive Challah Rolls

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Pumpkin Bread (Squash Harvest Loaf)

I just love this season, I love the smell of pumpkin and spices baking in the oven.  My mother has a wonderful pumpkin bread recipe that I have been making for years now, and it is fabulous.  I added some chocolate chips the last time I made it for an extra special treat…  This year I was actually going to skip pumpkin bread, because I have so many other goodies on my list – but something happened that made me rethink that choice.

The other week my good friend (and neighbor) were coming home from our morning boot camp class (which we try to attend two mornings a week), and she said she had a surprise for me.  It was 7am in the morning, so I was a little confused.  She opened the back seat of her car and took out this book.  It was still dark, so I couldn’t really see what it was, but she said it was her favorite cookbook from this bakery downtown.  When she mentioned it was the Macrina Bakery, the smile that was already on my face just exploded.  It was so nice of her to buy the Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook – and little did she know, but that happens to be my favorite bakery in Seattle.  I was so smelly and sweaty, but gave her a big hug, and couldn’t wait to tear it open and start reading about all the treats inside.  She made my entire month.  She also mentioned that the Squash Harvest Loaf was her favorite recipe, so I had to give it a try.  It is fabulous – so moist and flavorful – and wonderfully sweet.  The perfect sweet bread for this season.  I only had pumpkin in the house, so that’s what I used – but really you can use any type of squash puree, and I am sure it would be amazing.  Thanks so much for the fantastic cook book – I am so lucky to have you as my neighbor and good friend!!

Ingredients

  •  2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Preparation

Pre-heat the oven to 325 F.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the oil and two types of sugar and use the paddle attachment to mix on medium speed, for 4 mns.

Add the pumpkin puree and continue to mix for 2 mns.

Then, add one egg at a time.

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and add the flour and the buttermilk alternatively, until the liquid is absorb each time.

Transfer the preparation in 2 oiled loaf pans measuring 9 x 5 x 3″, 2/3 to the top.

Cook in the oven for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out dry once inserted in the loaf. Remove and let cool for 20 mns before unmolding on a cooling rack.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Pumpkin Bread (Squash Harvest Loaf)

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Cilantro-Scallion Bread

Today I finally did something that I have been wanting to do for years…I took a food photography class!!  When I bought my camera, I had all the good intentions of reading the manual – but there was that little problem called time.  I had no time, and every spare moment I had, I wanted to be snapping pictures, not reading.  So, instead of learning the correct way, I just learned by trial and error.  Up until today, I really had no idea what I was doing, but my pictures were turning out ok, so I just kept going.  Believe me, after one class, I am no means an expert, but at least I know what white balance is!!  I am so excited.

So back to this class, it was amazing, everything about it.  I took the class The Pantry, which I believe was started by Brandi.  It is also affiliated with this awesome pizza restaurant which is owned Molly and her husband Brandon.  All of a sudden the Seattle food world seems to be getting smaller and smaller…  The class was taught by a women named Ashley who takes photographs for Bon Appetit …and I met people like Holli, Stacy and Bray – I felt fortunate to be in the company of these talented women.

I am excited to start experimenting with what I learned…but in the meantime, I will post this fabulous recipe that I found in Bon Appetit.  These were quite easy and quick to make, for a yeast recipe that is, and they were delicious.  The girls both loved them, which was really amazing – since they pretty much stay away from anything green these days.  I will definitely be making these again, and next time I will take an even more striking picture…let’s hope anyway!

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons active dry  yeast
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cubed
  • 1 large egg plus 1 yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped scallions
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds (if you can find them)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil plus more for bowl  and brushing

Preparation

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour 1/2 cup warm  water (105°-115°) into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1  teaspoon sugar over; let stand until mixture bubbles, about 10 minutes.

Place flour, butter, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining  1 teaspoon sugar in bowl of a  stand mixer with dough hook attached. Rub in  butter with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Beat in egg, yolk,  and yeast mixture, scraping down sides.

Knead on medium speed until dough is soft and smooth, about 5  minutes. Form dough into a ball; transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover  and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine scallions and cilantro in a food processor  and pulse to finely chop. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl; stir in all sesame  seeds and 3 tablespoons oil and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°. Roll dough into a 18×9″ rectangle. Spoon  scallion mixture evenly onto center and spread mixture to corners of dough.  Working from one short edge, roll dough rectangle into a cylinder. Cut cylinder  into 3/4″ dough swirls. Transfer dough swirls to prepared baking sheet; brush  with oil. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cilantro-Scallion Bread

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