Category Archives: bread

Kids, Don’t Try this At Home

What are some of those iconic lessons your mom taught you? Hm. Don’t play with matches, don’t run with scissors, don’t make that face or it will stay that way, and, of course, don’t melt your plastic bowls in a hot oven:

I know a lot about melting things. In fact, not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’m kind of an expert. I started young. The accidental Lego on a hot light bulb for about six hours experiment turned out exceptionally well. The results were a thoroughly melted Lego mess and a very stinky bedroom. Then just today, Eric informed me he found a fun size package of Whopper candies in the glove compartment of my car. (Um, two questions. 1. How long have those been in there? And 2, how is it possible I didn’t immediately eat them?) He said they were so melted, the package felt like a ketchup packet (LOL).

So the melted bowl. How in the world did I pull that off? (Please refer to post below regarding blond moments. Thanks.) I decided to tackle a yeast roll today, as I hadn’t worked with yeast in a while. When I make a dough like that, I usually let it rise in one of two places. 1. In the garage. It’ warm, it’s draft free, it’s the perfect place to let the dough rise! However, if it’s winter, or if your husband is working out there and has all the doors open, you gotta rely on plan B. 2. In a cool oven with a bowl of warm water on the lower rack.

Can you see where this is going yet? Yup, I made my bowl/hot water set up there in the oven, let my dough rise, took my dough out, promptly forgot that the bowl was in there and then turned the oven on two preheat. Enter melted bowl!

I had the oven preheating while my rolls rested a second time, but I was cooking something else on the stove top at the same time. In the back of my head, I kept thinking I was getting this whiff of melted plastic, but I never did investigate. Until, of course, I opened the oven to put my rolls in! Imagine my surprise! LOL.

Good thing I opened the oven when I did, because that thing was about the cave in on itself and melt ALL OVER my oven racks. LOL. Needless to say, that bowl had to be retired. I wonder where my adventures in melting things will take me next. . .

Anyway, on to the food. This is the first free weekend I’ve had in over a month. After spending all day yesterday cleaning (I mean ALL DAY…Ever scrub old basement paneling before? It sucks. Although putting on a New Kids on the Block Pandora station helps a lot. Nothing like dancing around cobwebs singing along to Debbie Gibson’s Only in My Dreams, followed by a rousing rendition of Please Don’t Go, Girl 🙂 ) I knew I had to make today count in the kitchen.

I found a recipe for pretzel rolls that I knew Eric would just love. Frozen soft pretzels are one of his favorite snacks (surprisingly low in calories…until you start dousing them with fake nacho cheese sauce, of course) so why not switch it up and make it a roll. That got the creative juices flowing and I dreamed up a burger on a bun-sized pretzel roll, topped with cheese and an interesting onion and apple “kraut.” YUM.

Now, the reason a fake kraut came to mind is because I originally planned to make my burgers out of brat patties instead of ground beef. Pretzel roll, sausage, needed something tangy and sauerkraut-y to put on top (without actually being sauerkraut, of course, because I don’t care for it) Well, the brat patties didn’t work out. The grocery store I went to this morning didn’t have them, so I figured I’d pick some up this afternoon while we were out running around but then Eric didn’t want to back track to go back to the Super Target, yadda, yadda, yadda, we just had regular burgers.

The results were very good! The pretzel roll may be a bit chewy to double as a hamburger bun, but I liked the taste a lot. I’m not a big fan of really soft bread anyway, so I didn’t mind that they were chewy. Others may be put off by it though, so keep that in mind. My fake out kraut was really good too. Perfectly tangy and delicious.

BURGERS ON PRETZEL ROLLS WITH ONION AND APPLE “KRAUT” (Rolls from Bon Appetite, January 1994 as seen at Epicurious.com. Topping: me)

For the Rolls:
makes 8 dinner rolls or 4 sandwich rolls

  • 2 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 envelope quick-rising yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (about) hot water (125°F to 130°F)
  • Cornmeal
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg white, beaten to blend (glaze)
  • Coarse salt

Directions:

  1. Combine bread flour, 1 envelope yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar and celery seeds in food processor and blend. With machine running, gradually pour hot water through feed tube, adding enough water to form smooth elastic dough. Process 1 minute to knead. Grease medium bowl. Add dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then towel; let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 35 minutes.
  2. Flour baking sheet. Punch dough down and knead on lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide into 8 pieces. Form each dough piece into ball. Place dough balls on prepared sheet, flattening each slightly. Using serrated knife, cut X in top center of each dough ball. Cover with towel and let dough balls rise until almost doubled in volume, about 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease another baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Bring 8 cups water to boil in large saucepan. Add baking soda and 2 tablespoons sugar (water will foam up). Add 4 rolls and cook 30 seconds per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer rolls to prepared sheet, arranging X side up. Repeat with remaining rolls.
  4. Brush rolls with egg white glaze. Sprinkle rolls generously with coarse salt. Bake rolls until brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Serve rolls warm or room temperature. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 375°F oven 10 minutes.)

For my Onion and Apple “Kraut”:
Enough for two burgers
This is a sweet and savory topping that gets it “kraut” kick with a a shot of apple cider vinegar and a generous sprinkling of caraway seeds. So it’s nothing like actual sauerkraut, but it’s inspired by it. 🙂

  • 1 small onion, cut into strips
  • 1 small apple, cut into strips (I used golden delicious)
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet. Add vinegar and heat for about 1 minute. Add onion and apple. Sprinkle with brown sugar and season with caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the onions and apples and deep brown and caramelized.

Put it all together with a perfectly grilled burger, a slice of extra sharp cheddar, a squirt of spicy brown mustard and ENJOY! 🙂

One Year Ago: Shrimp Ettouffee

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Summer is finally here!

A mere week and half, two weeks ago I was wondering where the heck summer was. It was rainy, and cloudy, and COLD. Highs in the low 60s. In June. Okay, that’s just not even right!

Well, summer FINALLY decided to show up for work. Nice to see you again, Summer…so glad you could join us. We’ve been WAITING. Two weeks ago it was way too cold. Today, I may or may not have let it slip that I thought it was too hot. There’s no pleasing me when it comes to weather, I tell you what. However, in my defense, our air conditioner was out and I spent a hot, sticky night in bed with a husband who has a tendency to flop around and crowd me. A good night sleep was not meant to be.  Thankfully, we’re back up and running here this afternoon. Good thing too, because 90 degrees outside + well over 80 degrees inside = A very crabby and mean Erin.

I knew my AC wasn’t working yesterday afternoon. I KNEW turning on the oven would just cause the heat and crabbiness in the house to rise. Did it stop me? Um, no. When you wanna bake, you wanna bake. Think a little summer heat and humidity is going to stop me?

Aw, raspberries!

Yes, raspberries! And peaches! Together in delightful mini-loaves of moist and tender quick bread. The idea came to me after seeing a recipe for peach melba – which is peaches smothered in raspberry sauce and served with vanilla ice cream. Berries are all over the sale circulars from the grocery stores these days. Gotta snatch ’em up before they go back to $4 a pint. Since I just did the brownie pudding with ice cream and raspberry sauce, I was looking for something a little different.

These cute little loaves go together in minutes and bake up delicious. I used my favorite muffin recipe as the base for the loaves but swapped out milk for low fat buttermilk and added about a teaspoon of fresh lemon zest. I didn’t do the streusel topping so the next time I make these I’ll add a little something extra to warm up the flavors a bit – a 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and a 1 tsp. of vanilla. I’ve noted that in the recipe below. They are delish as is, juicy and fruity, but I think those two added ingredients will really push them over the top. I left one out for us to enjoy and wrapped up the others and put them in the freezer for later. Make these with your favorite summer fruits!

One year ago this week:

RASPBERRY PEACH MINI-LOAVES (Recipe adapted from: Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)

Makes 3 mini loaves

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup diced fresh peaches (about three smallish/medium peaches)
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries (I cut the larger berries in half)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup, plus 1 tbs. sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Grease three mini loaf pans; set aside
  2. Toss peaches and raspberries with the one tablespoon of sugar. Place in a sieve over a small bowl and let juices drain.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and lemon zest. Make a well in center of flour mixture, set aside.
  4. In another bowl combine egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in peaches and raspberries.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pans and place pans on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in centers comes clean. Cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY! 🙂

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My Bagel and Me: A Love Story

I LOVE bagels! Love them. My absolute favorite carb-o-rific snack. Circles of heaven with a hole in the center. Here’s the thing though….I don’t like bagels for breakfast! Say Whhhaaaaaaaaattt?? Seriously! A bagel is a favorite lunchtime treat for me, but I rarely eat them for breakfast. I don’t know if it’s just too much or too heavy for the morning or what, but I’d much rather have my bagel mid-day. I love the savory flavors…cheese, onion and my absolute fave: EVERYTHING! There’s just something about that crispy exterior and chewy interior that I cannot resist.

I never thought I’d be so confident in my abilities that I would take on making my own bagels. But, I had a free Sunday, due to a ridiculous rainstorm that dumped more than three and half inches of rain us all day long, and some new found kitchen confidence, so I decided to go for it. I had seen a couple of recipes floating around the cooking message board I frequent. I chose this one I saw at Pennies on a Platter (a blog I adore, BTW! Such wonderful, creative recipes!) that she adapted from Baking Bites because it seemed relatively easy. Guess what…it was! Not to mention absolutely delicious! So freakin good. The texture and taste were spot on. If I gave you one of these and didn’t tell you that I made them myself, you would have sworn I bought them from a bagel shop.

I had no problems working with the dough….other than I started to knead it in my stand mixer but changed my mind half way through and kneaded it the rest of the way by hand. It’s a simple dough and the combinations are endless! You can pretty much make any flavor your heart desires. I did Everything….the social outcast of the bagel world. Have you ever noticed how you when you buy a dozen bagels from Panera or something they put the Everything in it’s own little bag to keep it from contaminating the others with it’s salty/garlicky/oniony-ness. Kinda sad, don’t you think? Poor little Everything bagel…all by it’s lonesome when the other bagels get to party together in the big box. Sniffle, sniffle….I hope they will feel more included from now on. They will in my house, at least!

EVERYTHING BAGELS (Recipe Source: As seen on Pennies on a Platter, originally adapted from Baking Bites)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups water, warm (100-110F)
  • 4-5 cups bread flour (not all purpose)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 egg, for egg wash

Seasonings I used:

  • Poppy Seeds
  • Dried minced onion
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Kosher Salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) combine yeast, sugar and water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in flour and salt. Mix dough thoroughly until it comes together in a large ball, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Add an additional tablespoon of flour or water, if needed.
  2. If kneading by hand, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until very smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If using a stand mixer, knead dough with the dough hook until elastic, about 8 minutes on a low speed. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  3. When dough has risen, turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into 8 equal pieces (first quarters, then halves). Shape each piece into a tight ball, pinching the corners together at the bottom of the dough. When all the balls are shaped, let the dough rest for 30 minutes covered with a clean dish towel.
  4. Once dough balls have rested, the bagel shape can be formed. Using your fingers, poke a hole through the center of each dough ball. Stretch out the dough into a ring with your fingers and be sure to make the hole a little larger than you want the finished bagel to have, as it will shrink slightly while the bagel is expanding during the baking process. Let bagels rest for about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil and preheat the oven to 400F. (I used a deep dish skillet because it’s wider.)  Line a baking sheet with paper towels and another baking sheet with parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal.
  6. Working four at a time, drop the bagels carefully into the boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes on each side. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, transfer bagels to the paper towels to drain for a moment, then place on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining bagels.
  7. Brush boiled bagels with lightly beaten egg (a pastry brush is a good tool for this) and sprinkle with seasonings. Bake for 24 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool completely on a wire rack (bagel will soften slightly as it cools).  Slice and toast to serve.

Note: The original recipe says that it will make 12 bagels. I made mine slightly larger and got 8.

ENJOY! 🙂

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An Open Letter to the Guinness Book of World Records

To Whom it May Concern:

I realize that my humble banana bread here is no way close to being to the largest loaf ever made, however, if you were ever so inclined to include a new record in your collection for the largest banana bread ever made with one measley bunch of bananas and a standard loaf pan, I think I may have a contender right here. This is one massive loaf of breakfast bread. That’s gotta be worth a mention!

Think about it.

Sincerely,
Erin

Okay, so my banana bread is no where close to breaking world records, but I do have to say this is biggest loaf of bread I have ever seen in my life! HA! And pretty darn tasty too. Technically, the recipe made two loaves, but when I realized my loaf pans were larger than the 8×4 inch pans the recipe called for, I ended up just making one larger loaf. I had every intention of making two in my larger pans, but after I finished assembling the first one in the pan, I realized I had no where near enough batter for the second. Oops! So I added what was left in the bowl to the pan and sent it off baking. Holy crap it is giant, but it’s excellent. YUM!

This recipe intrigued me because the batter called for the addition of cream cheese, which I thought would make for a totally moist and tangy bread. It did! And the peanut butter crumb topping is super yummy. If anything it could use a bit more peanut butter. The chocolate in the middle is a yummy surprise too. Overall, a very good bread that I will totally make again. After I obtain the correct size pans, of course.

PEANUT BUTTER BANANA BREAD (Recipe Source: Taste of Home, February/March 2009)

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Batter:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a small bowl, stir the flour, brown sugar, peanut butter and cinnamon until crumbly, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon; stir into creamed mixture until just moinstened.
  3. Divide half of the batter between two greased 8×4 inch loaf pans; sprinkle with half of the topping. Top with chocolate chips. Reapeat layers of batter and topping.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees fpr 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

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I’m Back…But Briefly.

Wow! Where in the world have I been?? Well, Eric had my camera for a good week there last week and this week has been crazy busy with other things. I’m popping in today with a couple updates, from a my brand new HP laptop that ROCKS, but I have to be honest, I don’t know how much blogging I’ll be doing in November! 😦

Now, I still plan on cooking and baking because, well, we gotta eat and I love it too much. I hope to update with recipes and photos, I just don’t know how much time and energy I’ll be able to devote to my usual creative commentary/storytelling. The reason being I have decided to take the plunge and give National Novel Writing Month a try here in November. If you’ve never heard of it, basically the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days from November 1st-30th. Yikes. Eric dared me to do it, since I won the little story contest in our paper last weekend. This is a little bit different. And much more daunting, but I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a try. If I don’t finish, I don’t finish…but I’d really like to be able to say I did it. We shall see. So, I’ll be back to blogging full swing in December…or when I get too frustrated with this whole book writing thing and give up. HA! 🙂

On to the food (so I can get back to my book, of which I have about 600 words written so far, LOL!) Here’s a super easy recipe that I spotted in Cooking Light that was phenomenal with a big bowl of spicy chili. Loved the sweet, savory and cheesy combo in this easy-peasy beer bread recipe. I’ll be making this again for sure! 🙂

APPLE CHEDDAR BEER BREAD (Recipe Source: Cooking Light – November 2008)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2  cup  shredded peeled Gala apple
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1/2  cup  minced shallots
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 13.5  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
  • 3  tablespoons  sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) shredded extrasharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1  (12-ounce) bottle hard cider
  • Cooking spray
  • 2  tablespoons  melted butter, divided

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Place shredded peeled apple in paper towels; squeeze until barely moist. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook apple and shallots in oil over medium heat for 7 minutes. Stir in pepper and garlic; cook 1 minute.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in center of mixture. Add shallot mixture, cheese, and cider to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

4. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5–inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake an additional 25 minutes or until deep golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

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Look at me…

I’m Sandra Lee!

Uh oh.

That’s not good, is it??

I’m really not a fan of hers. At all. It’s not the whole “Semi-Homemade” thing I’m adverse to…mostly it’s just her. Not my style.  I don’t care for her, but I do respect her. She’s come a long way in her life and for that she deserves some major props.

So Eric has asked me a couple times to make Focaccia bread. I looked around at some recipes and it appears to be pretty labor intensive. I just don’t have the time to devote to the kitchen anymore now that I’m back to work…as much as I wish I did! When I spotted this shortcut in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, it seemed like the perfect solution! It just made me laugh because as I was making it, none other than Sandra Lee herself was on the Food Network in the background. This recipe would do her proud!

I made this bread as a side to a pasta dish that ended up a total flop. Something went terribly, horribly wrong. I blame myself, not the recipe. It was so bad, I’m not even going to say anymore about it! Good thing I didn’t buy anything special to make it! Needless to say, we ended up with pasta with jarred sauce and this surprisingly yummy bread on the side.

EASY HERB FOCACCIA (Recipe Source: Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 16 oz. package hot roll mix (I used Pilsbury brand)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Lightly grease one 15 x 10 x1-inch baking pan, one 12 to 14-inch pizza pan, or two 9 x 1.5-inch round baking pans. Set aside. (I used the two round pans)
  2. Prepare the hot roll mix according to package directions for basic dough, using the 1 egg and substituting the 2 tablespoons of olive oil for the margarine. Knead dough; allow to rest as directed. If using large baking pan, roll dough into 15×10 inch rectangle; carefully transfer to prepared pan. If using a pizza pan, roll dough into a 12 inch circle. For round baking pans, divide dough in half; roll into two 9 inch circles. Place in prepared pan(s).
  3. In a medium skillet cook onion and rosemary in 2 teaspoons of olive oil. With your fingertips, press indentation every inch or so in dough. Top dough evenly with onion mixture. Cover; let rise in a warm place until nearly double (about 30 minutes).
  4. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely.

ENJOY! 🙂

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The ULTIMATE in Comfort Food

Let’s talk comfort food. Those things that remind you of Sundays dinners at home, that take you right back to a simpler, more uncomplicated time. It’s like a meal that’s just as familiar and feels just as good as big bear hug from someone you love.

The best thing about comfort food is that it is different for everyone. For some, maybe it’s a giant plate of homemade spaghetti and meatballs. Others dive into meatloaf and mashed potatoes. For me, when I think the ultimate in comfort food, my mind wanders back to cold, winter afternoons at home, cuddling on the couch with my favorite blanket, the white one with the little flowers on it (still LOVE that thing…) while the delicious scent of roast pork, gravy and dumplings filled the house.

I think I was a teenager before I realized that not everyone ate this meal at home. Seriously, I thought every family in the world sat down to roast pork and dumplings at least once every couple months. I don’t think that’s the case…seeing as Eric had never had this meal until we ate a Czech resaturant in Cedar Rapids with my parents a couple years ago. You should have seen his face twist in horror when I told him we were going to a Czech restaurant. Ha! He has an irrational fear of the unkown, especially when it comes to food. Turns out…there’s nothing to be scared of at all! Nothing beats a fab Bohemian meal!

I was so excited to try my mom’s Bohemian roast pork this weekend now that the weather has turned cooler. I get all warm and fuzzy inside thinking about carrying on the tradition in my own home…making this meal for my own kids someday. It just makes me smile. I was nervous getting started….how could it possibly be as good as Mom’s? I am pleased to say that my first attempt was a SUCCESS! Hooray!! Thanks, Mom, for sharing this recipe with me. 🙂

MOM’S BOHEMIAN ROAST PORK WITH GRAVY (Recipe Source: My mom, Nadine M.)

**Note**: All measurements are approximate…like all fabulous Mom super chefs out there, my mom didn’t provide exact measurements…she don’t need ’em. She just knows! 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 2-3 lb. pork loin roast (I used a sirloin roast, it comes tied together with twine)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 tbs. minced onion flakes
  • caraway seeds
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 1 1/2 cups water

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Season the pork liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Pour water into the bottom of roasting pan and add extra salt and onion flakes. Place roast on a rack in the pan, sprinkle liberally with caraway seeds. Lay strips of bacon over the top.
  3. Roast until well done. Discard bacon. Approximately 1 1/2 hours. Let roast sit for 10 minutes before carving.
  4. While the roast sits, use pan drippings to make gravy. Add a little bit of butter to the pan if there appears to be too little fat. (I did not think I needed to to do this this time around.) Add 4 to 5 tbs. of flour, stir. Add water, stirring constantly until thickened. If the gravy looks too pale, add a bit of beef bullion granules. (I didn’t need to do this either…my came out nice and brown!)
  5. Serve with bread dumplings (recipe follows) and gravy spooned all over EVERYTHING! YUM!

Now, you must serve this roast with the traditional white bread dumplings. It’s a must! Back home in the Chicago area, my mom just buys them frozen in the grocery store….like waffles! HA! Well….not a huge surprise that Eastern European convenience foods are not readily available in grocery stores in Iowa. (Seriously, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I realized that too…what is this, BIZARRO WORLD? LOL!) So, I had to tackle my own.

These were okay….a little too dense. The frozen ones are light and fluffy. These were missing that for sure. They tasted good, but the texture was a bit off. I’m not sure how to fix it…I’ll have to play around with it next time. Or maybe search out a different recipe. The dough was pretty sticky to work with…I had to add extra flour to get the logs to form. Maybe that’s what did it.

Why, oh why can’t I just buy them?? Oh, that’s right….we live in the middle of nowhere, that’s why!

BOHEMIAN DUMPLINGS (Recipe Source: Allrecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra as needed)
  • 6 slices white bread, cubed

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and flour to make a batter. Mix in the bread cubes using your hands or a sturdy wooden spoon. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3-inches long.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly-salted water to a fast boil. Add the dumplings, cover, and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the dumplings from the water and let drain. Slice and serve while very hot.

ENJOY! 🙂

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T is for…

Totally Old School! 🙂

I was at my parents house last weekend, looking through my mom’s cookbooks and I stumbled across this little gem from my childhood!

I’m not exactly sure when and where I got this, but it must go way way back. It may have been a gift from my grandma, but I honestly can’t remember. I do remember making things from it though! Like “M is for Mud Pie” and “U is for Upside-Down Pineapple Cake.” I was feeling nostalgic, so I decided to break out one of these kid-friendly recipes today. So much fun! I had a blast following along with the little pictures and easy instructions. I can’t wait to be able to do things like this with my own kids someday!

I know we never made this bread when I was kid. I would have remembered it for sure. So cute! It uses quick-acting yeast, so start to finish time is about half that of other breads. I contemplated just using regular yeast, because that’s what I had on hand, but I got nervous and ran back out to the store for a package of quick-acting. I’m glad I did. It’s a really easy, kid-friendly recipe. The finished product is okay. It’s not the best bread I’ve ever had, but let’s be honest. This is just for a cuteness show. Taste is secondary! 🙂

“T is for TURTLE BREAD”(Recipe source: Gold Medal Alpha-Bakery Children’s Cookbook)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 package of quick-acting dry yeast
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbs. of butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 raisins (I used candy, because that’s what I had on hand.)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix 1 1/2 cups of flour, the yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Heat water, milk and butter to 125 -130 degrees; stir into yeast mixture. Stir in egg. Stir in enough of remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle.
  3. Sprinkle a surface lightly with flour. Turn the dough onto the surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
  4. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Shape a 2-inch piece of dough into a ball for head. Shape 4 walnut-size pieces of dough into balls for feet. Shape 1 walnut-size piece of dough into tail. Shape remaining dough into a ball for body; place on cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Attach head, feet and tail to secure. Press raisins into head for eyes. Cover and let rise 20 minutes.
  5. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Make crisscross cuts in body, 1/4 inch deep to look like a turtle’s shell. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Going Bananas!

Eric and I went out of town for the 4th to visit his family. We came back yesterday afternoon and much to my delight, I had a whole bunch of overripe bananas just begging to become banana bread! I never get so excited to see spoiled food as I do when my bananas start to go south! 🙂

I love banana bread. It’s so simple, but the flavor is fantastic. Toast it up a bit, add a bit of butter and you’ve got one hearty yummy breakfast. I’m looking forward to digging into this all week long! This is my go-to recipe….perfect for weeknight baking when you don’t want to spend the entire night in the kitchen. I add a splash of vanilla and a little cinnamon to punch up the flavor. My changes are in italics.

BANANA-BANANA BREAD (Recipe Source: AllRecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 
  • 2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt (and cinnamon). In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs, vanilla and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

ENJOY! 🙂

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A True Classic

Well, I have good news and bad news. Let’s do the bad news first, get that out of the way. Bad news: I don’t have a job. I was let go. It makes me sick. It makes me want to scream. It was the worst feeling I have ever felt in my life. Whew. Okay, bad news over. Now, the GOOD news. The good news is…I truly adore being at home all day. I have a nice clean house. I have lovely flowers and herbs growing outside. For the first time in a long time, I am stress-free. Eric is doing…exceptionally well at work and just received a promotion. I collect a portion from the state in unemployment. There’s not a lot of pressure, you know? For that, I am really and truly grateful. Blessed. Lucky. So even though getting axed from a job you love makes you feel really really crappy, there is still a silver lining.

For me, that silver lining is getting into the kitchen and tackling all the things I’ve never had the courage to tackle before. First on the list: Fresh baked bread.

I choose a basic white bread recipe to start out. I was pleased with the way it came out. My biggest concern was never having worked with a yeast dough before, I didn’t know exactly what the dough was supposed to feel like and how long to work it. Much to my surprise, after adding flour about a half cup at a time, I had a lovely dough that rose beautifully, baked up golden and tasted delicious! I admit my loaves weren’t the perfect shape, but you’ll have that. I’ll just call them…rustic loaves. Problem solved. I made a few changes while working with the dough. They are in italics.

CLASSIC WHITE BREAD (Recipe source: Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)

Ingredients:

5 ¾ to 6 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (I ended up with 6 cups total)
1 package dry active yeast
2 ¼ cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon shortening, butter, or margarine
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Combine 2 ½ cups flour and the yeast in a large mixing bowl. Heat and stir milk, sugar, shortening, and salt until warm (120 to 130 degrees); butter will almost melt. Add to flour mixture and beat with electric mixer on low for thirty seconds (scrape bowl constantly). Beat on high three minutes more. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can with a spoon. (I just couldn’t do this with a wooden spoon. It was not happening. I went back to my mixer (with dough hook), beating in the extra flour a half a cup at a time on a low speed until the dough was elastic enough to knead.)

Turn dough onto lightly floured board and knead in remaining dough until smooth and elastic dough is formed (six to eight minutes). Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Turn once to grease dough surface. Cover and rise in warm place until double (approximately forty-five minutes).

Punch down dough and turn again onto floured surface. Divide into two even balls. Cover and let rest for ten minutes. Shape each dough half into bread loaves by patting or rolling.

Place dough loaves into greased bread pans (8x4x2). Cover and rise in warm place until double (about thirty to forty minutes). Bake in 375 degree oven 40 minutes or until done. Loaves can be covered with aluminum foil the last ten minutes of baking to prevent over browning if necessary.

Remove immediately from pans and cool on wire racks.

ENJOY! 🙂

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