27 February 2010

Fresh Tomato Cream Sauce


I am very excited about this recipe.  It is the result of a few extra tomatoes and a bit of rummaging through the pantry, and it is delicious.

You see last week I was at the local Community Market when I happened across a couple selling big and quite beautiful tomatoes.  I, being an avid tomato fan, avariciously bought up six of the finest ones they possessed. 

I ate two of the tomatoes as slices on my daily BLT’s, another I shared with the kids as an afternoon snack, I used one to stuff peppers (recipe to follow soon), leaving two tomatoes. 

I had been perusing Vodka Sauce recipes on the Internet lately but having no Vodka in the house, was left only reading the recipes.  On a whim, though, I decided to make a sauce that would channel a good Vodka sauce sans the Vodka and also use up the last of my tomatoes. 

With a little of this and a little of that, a sauce came together quite quickly and was enjoyed over a bed of ziti pasta. 








Fresh Tomato Cream Sauce



2 large tomatoes

1 tbsp garlic

1/2 green pepper

1/2 small onion

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp basil

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp oregeno

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tbsp butter

parmesan cheese


  1. In a food processor combine tomatoes, garlic, green pepper and onions and pulse two or three times.  You could also hand chop each if desired.  In a large sauté pan, combine olive oil, chopped/pulsed vegetables, paste, sugar and herbs.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cream and butter.  Serve over choice of pasta and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

25 February 2010

Fluffy French Toast


This year for Valentine’s I wanted to do something sweet and romantic for my husband.  I decided on breakfast in bed.  I made a list of what I wanted to serve-fresh fruit, coffee and freshly squeezed juice and French toast.  I have a go-to French Toast that is very simple and easy but I wanted something extra special for my Valentine.  I found a recipe that while still simple, added a few sweet touches and decided to go for it. 

The night before I waited until my husband went to bed, then I spent a ridiculous amount of time designing a cheesy card on the computer.  Then I set the kitchen up so that it would be ready for me first thing Sunday morning.  I had the coffee maker ready to go.  I cleaned the fruit, cut it and wrapped it in the bowl I would be using.  I got out the tray that has only ever been used when I was on bed rest with the twins and set out the plates, silverware and napkin as well as a juice cup and coffee cup.  If my husband had come downstairs in the middle of the night he would have known what I was up to, especially with little post-it notes to help my groggy brain and the griddle all hooked up and ready to go. 

I absolutely love surprises and the anticipation almost kept me from sleeping and I was up and out of bed early the next morning squeezing Clementine's and brewing coffee.  I cut several pieces of Texas Toast with heart shaped cookie cutters-but the idea was better than the carried out plan.  Fortunately, we abide by the ‘it’s the thought that counts’ rule around here and those pieces were enjoyed no less than the more presentable, full sized pieces. 

I didn’t get to try the Toast until after I had surprised my husband (he did offer me some of his but I turned it down) and it was superb.  Absolutely delicious.  Two kids, my husband and I ate an entire loaf of French Toast that morning, it was that irresistible.  This recipe is so quick and easy that it will most definitely replace my old French Toast Recipe.

Fluffy French Toast


1/4 cup flour

1 cup milk

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch salt

1 tbsp white sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

Loaf of Texas Toast


  1. Preheat griddle to 350*F. Spray with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk flour and milk together.  Add eggs, vanilla, salt and sugar.  Sprinkle cinnamon on top.  Dip toast in mixture and cook on griddle 3-4 minutes per side.
  3. Serve warm with favorite syrup or spread.

24 February 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie


Having spent a lot of the winter snowed in, I have made a few batches of cookies just experimenting with older recipes.  One recipe that I am constantly tweaking is Chocolate Chip.  albino

One thing I found while I was searching chocolate chip cookies was the suggestion of adding Cream of Tartar to give your cookies that cracked look.  I added the Cream of Tartar and the cookies did have that beautiful cracked look, however, I don’t know if that was in fact the reason.  I don’t believe the Cream of Tartar had any effect on the taste of the cookie so it could be omitted without harm to the recipe.


These cookies, like most any chocolate chip cookie, are best right off of the cookie sheet. 



Chocolate Chip Cookie


1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp hot water

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. 
  2. Cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs and stir in vanilla.  Dissolve baking soda in hot water for several minutes;  in the meantime sift together flour, salt, and cream of tartar.  Add to creamed mixture along with baking soda mix.  Stir in chips and nuts.
  3. Drop by large tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven 9-10 minutes.  Cool one minute on sheet before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.


Yields 4 1/2 dozen delicious cookies.

22 February 2010

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


I have been buying a lot of bananas lately. Being that we have toddlers in the house and that we are runners we go through bananas before they are ever ripe enough to be truly warranted for a good quick bread or other baked goods. Buying more bananas than I think we need has only increased the number of banana sundae’s the spouse eats or uses for smoothies. So I started buying even more. Finally, I had three black and mushy (read: beautiful) bananas to use for a recipe. At first I was going to make more Banana Bread Cookie’s, but then I decided I wanted to try out something new. Something with a bit of chocolate in it. Chocolate Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips seemed like just the thing.

I was a bit nervous about this bread to be honest. The last few things I have made with cocoa haven’t turned out so hot. They have actually been quite bad. So bad in fact, that I haven’t even posted about the recipes because they were so bad that there was little more that needed to be said. I was so skeptical of this bread and the changes I made in the original recipe, that I kept convincing myself it was a failure before it was cool enough to try.

I had a small bite the night I made it when I snapped this picture. It was fine, not bad. However, the next day when I was whipping up some appetizers for a book group I snuck another piece. It was quite good. So I snuck another. Before I knew it I had snuck four pieces with a sizable amount of the loaf gone, making it seem a lot less sneaky and a lot more noticeable. I couldn’t help it. It’s that good.

Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Banana Bread


1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

3 ripe bananas, mashed

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa

1/2 cup light sour cream

2/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350*. Lightly grease one 9x5 load pan.
  2. In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, bananas, and vanilla; mix well. Sift in flour, baking soda and cocoa. Beat in sour cream. Stir in chocolate chips.
  3. Pour into prepared pan and bake 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. remove from pan and cool completely.

19 February 2010

Black Magic Cake


Once upon a time, for a brief moment or two, I wanted to be a cake decorator.  I even bought a kit at Michael’s and marked the date of their next decorating class on my calendar. 

Then I made a boxed cake and went to town with a simple tub of Pillsbury or Betty Crocker icing, hoping to make an aesthetic dessert for my family.  I can’t remember exactly what happened but I do recall quite a bit of cussing and possibly a bit of foot  stomping.  I switched knives and spatulas a few times.  I got icing in my hair and on my shoe.  It was a mess. 

And a learning experience.  I won’t ever be Martha Stewart. Or Bakerella.  I will however continue to make cake.  And eat it too. 

Now I have a different approach.  I aim to make so tasty a cake that it isn’t around long enough for anyone to even take notice of what it looks like. 

On Valentine’s Day every year we celebrate our Golden Retriever’s birthday.  He’s a big dumb lug that we brought home, or rather I brought home, when we were in the midst of trying to start our family.  I was desperate for something to hold and love and a particular mutt with a waggley tail (and it turns out, a fair bit of neurosis) got my attention.  The couple who gave him to me said he was six weeks old to the day.  I have a feeling they were lying about a few things, namely his purebred parents, but I went straight home and counted back six weeks.  Valentine’s Day.  Ever since we mark the silly dogs birthday on the calendar on the same day as my least favorite holiday of the year.  This year, because we have a house full of two year olds who think singing “Happy Birthday” is as much fun as going to Disney, I made a cake for the dog.  Except the dog wasn’t allowed to have any.  I hear chocolate is lethal to dogs.  I wouldn’t want to risk his life on the very day we celebrate it.

So I tested out a recipe I found on Allrecipes.  As I was measuring out the cocoa I noticed the recipe for Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake.  Turns out the only difference in the cake I was making and the one the Hershey’s company has been promoting for quite sometime was buttermilk instead of milk, coffee instead of boiling water and the swapping of half a teaspoon of baking powder for baking soda.  I use to make the “Perfectly” Chocolate Cake, it was good.  Very good in my opinion.  And then I made it one hot August for my in-laws (before they were my in-laws) and on the trip to their house for dinner it got so hot in our unconditioned car that the top layer slid away from the bottom.  It wasn’t pretty and I was scarred from ever making it again. I was already in the midst of making the cake on Sunday however, so I continued on. 

But even this cake baking experience wasn’t without a tale of it’s own.  You see I’d bought a heart shaped pan to use and I failed to read the instructions that clearly read ‘do not fill more than halfway full’.  I filled it more than half way full.  I filled it more like two thirds of the way full. And baked it for 40 minutes before finally worrying that the outer edges were going to be overdone before the center ever finished cooking.  So I removed it from the oven and watched it, and my heart, sink. 

There is a possibility I’m just not cut out for cake baking either. Probably won’t stop me from trying though.  This cake, regardless of it’s appearance, was rich and moist.  The center was a little undone but we just cut around the center.  In the future when I make a heart shaped cake I will make sure to fill it no more than halfway full.  I will just use the extra batter for a few cupcakes. 

But then again, what good would a cake be without its own story?

I can, however, whip up frosting without incident.  I topped this cake with a Butter Cream frosting that I came across when making cupcakes for the twins second birthday.  The recipe is from Wilton and it is my favorite. And even though there is little value in it nutritionally it’s mighty tasty on the top of a cake.  It makes a lot, more than you would use for 24 cupcakes or a sheet cake but it can be stored in the fridge for two weeks. If you’re like me you’ll save the frosting in Tupperware for two weeks because you won’t want to waste it before finally accepting the fact that you’re not going to make a cake just to use up the last of the frosting. 

Then, three days later, out of boredom or because the cat is turning twelve, you’ll make more cake and more frosting.

Black Magic Cake


1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups white sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup brewed coffee

1 cup fat free buttermilk

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour cake pan(s).
  2. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa,baking soda, baking powder and salt. 
  3. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla to dry ingredients. Using an electric mixer beat batter for two minutes on  medium speed. 
  4. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes depending on your cake pan.  After 30 minutes test cake with a toothpick.  Cake is done when toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack and frost with your favorite frosting.

18 February 2010

Cinnamon Chip Coffee Cake


As much as I enjoy baking recipes from various cookbooks and web sites my true passion as of late is working on original recipes.  I don’t do it as much as I like because I am still learning the ins and outs of the basic building blocks of baking.  The other day for instance, after trying this recipe out, I spent over an hour reading about leavening, baking powder and baking soda. But the more I bake, the more I feel tempted to experiment with my own ideas in the kitchen.

I love a good coffee cake and I love a fair amount of cinnamon.  It is perhaps my favorite spice, though Nutmeg does give it a run for it’s money.  Yesterday, we were snowed in yet again in these parts and I thought I would do a little experimenting with a package of Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips.  I am reading The Devil In the White City which has prompted me to do a bit of reading up on the Columbian Exposition and was quite surprised to learn that had there never been a World’s Fair in 1893 that Milton Hershey might never have become engrossed in chocolate making.  What a shame that would have been. 

I did a bit of recipe studying before I got started.  I looked into sour cream coffee cakes and cakes that call for butter and more that called for oil.  I wrote them out and compared them, the fats, the leavening agents, the amount of flour and sugar called for.  I came up with a recipe to try out that included the things that I thought would make for a scrumptious coffee cake.  Namely sour cream, buttermilk and cinnamon.  A whole package of Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips to be more precise.slices

The cake itself had a wonderful flavor, especially not long after it came out of the oven when the chips were still warm.  However, the cake was dense to me, in fact too dense for me.  I made the cake in a Bundt pan but I’m not really sure what possessed me to do that and in the future I’m pretty sure I wouldn't.   I like the way the slices look coming from a Bundt cake but I think that perhaps a 13x9 pan would have cooked this particular cake more evenly and faster making this cake possibly lighter and less dense. 

I did make the batter for this cake in my KitchenAid and I thought I was careful not to over mix but perhaps in the future I will mix it by hand to ensure the batter doesn’t get over mixed.  I just replaced my baking soda and baking powder so I don’t think they had anything to do with the denseness of this cake, perhaps I should have added more baking powder or some baking soda to the recipe.  Overall, the flavor was good, but I think I will keep tweaking the recipe until it delivers a closer resemblance to the lighter coffee cakes I prefer. 


Cinnamon Chip Coffee Cake


1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup applesauce

1 cup light sour cream

2 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 10 oz. package of Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips

1 cup chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350*.  Spray cake pan or Bundt pan with cooking spray.
  2. Cream butter and sugar and add eggs and vanilla.  Stir in applesauce. 
  3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Add to cream mixture alternating with the sour cream. Stir in chips and nuts.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake 40-50  minutes depending on the pan used.  Check for doneness with the toothpick test.  Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar or powdered sugar glaze.

16 February 2010

Nutty Pancakes


In January, probably when we were snowed in, I made a Nut and Grain Pancake reminiscent of the delicious ones the folks at IHOP make.  Since then I have made these pancakes no less than six times.  I prefer them to any box pancake I’ve ever had but I’ve also been testing out buttermilk pancakes and I keep coming back to these.  They don’t seem to keep as well in the fridge as your run of the mill buttermilk batter but my kids love them so much that we never have any leftovers.

I have altered them a tad since first making them to include three types of nuts and Canola Oil in lieu of vegetable oil.  I also have designated several two-cup Ziploc containers for storing the different ground up nuts and oatmeal so that these are an even quicker breakfast to throw together for the kids.  Don’t let the list of ingredients deter you, these really do go together quickly and make for a hearty and delicious breakfast. 

Nutty pancakes


3/4 cup ground Oatmeal

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 cups fat free buttermilk

1/4 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons ground almonds

2 tablespoons ground pecans

2 tablespoons ground walnuts


  1. Preheat griddle to medium (roughly 350*) and spray with a cooking spray such as Pam or Baker’s Joy.  Spray between each batch of pancakes.
  2. Grind outs in food processor thoroughly.
  3. Combine oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in medium bowl.
  4. With an electric mixer combine buttermilk, oil, vanilla, egg and sugar. Stir in dry ingredients followed by ground nuts.
  5. Ladle 1/4 cup batter onto griddle and cook approximately 3 minutes on each side.
Note: You can use any combination of nuts but I wouldn’t add more than 6 tablespoons as it will dry out the batter too much making these pancakes dry and crumbly.

13 February 2010

Orange Rolls


Ever since I was a young girl I have been a Pillsbury Orange Roll fanatic. No kidding, I can finish off an entire package of those rolls by myself and the strange thing is I don’t even like oranges or orange juice. Now that we have children who also love orange rolls, one package is just not enough. That fact coupled with several snow days and a gift of Hale Oranges from my grandmother had my curiosity peaked, and I spent last Saturday night looking up Orange Rolls.

There were not as many recipes as I would have thought but I did find a recipe with stellar ratings and went for it. Many sweet rolls take so much time due to prep work and rising that I altered this recipe to include the first rising the night before and then let the second rising happen over night in the fridge.

The result? A seriously surprising sweet for Sunday morning’s breakfast. The recipe said you would get 30 rolls but I barely got 24.

I made three different icings for the rolls. One was the original icing called for in the recipe which I did not care for at all and I scrapped it after making it but before covering the rolls with it. It tasted of nothing but butter. The second icing was a confectioner’s sugar, milk and freshly squeezed orange juice icing which is what we had on the first batch that morning for breakfast. However, I whipped up an even simpler confectioner’s sugar and milk icing for the second batch that I found just as pleasing. Where as the rolls themselves were a total success I think I may keep looking for an icing that really completes these rolls. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.


Orange Rolls

(borrowed from MizzNess from this wonderful site here)


(for rolls)

1 package yeast (2 1/4 tsp Rapidrise Yeast)

1/4 cup water (~110*)

1 cup warm milk (~110*)

1/4 cup shortening

1 tsp salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

~3 3/4 cup all purpose flour

(for filling)

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter softened

2 tablespoons orange zest


1 cup confectioner’s sugar

4 tsp milk

2 tsp orange juice


  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in small bowl for about 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl combine milk, shortening, sugar, salt and egg. Add yeast.
  3. Stir in enough flour to make a soft dough and knead on floured surface for 8-10 minutes or with a dough hook in an electric mixer.
  4. Grease a large bowl and place dough inside turning to cover dough with oil.
  5. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  6. Punch dough down and divide in half. Roll each half out on a floured surface to 15x10 or there abouts.
  7. Mix filling until smooth and spread evenly on each rectangle.
  8. Roll up starting with long end and cut each into 12 rolls. Place rolls into 2 greased pans. Cover and let rise until doubled about 45 minutes or cover and refrigerate overnight. If refrigerating overnight take out the next morning long enough to take the chill off the dough.
  9. Bake at 375* for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Mix glaze ingredients and spread over warm rolls.
Note : Remove these rolls from the pan almost immediately as they can stick to your pan and make clean-up more trouble than the rolls themselves.


I went to be anxious about waking up the next morning and eating these rolls. I’m crazy like that.


12 February 2010

Fudgy Brownies


I love brownies.  Too much.  I always bake at least two batches whenever I make brownies.  A batch to eat now and a batch to freeze and eat slowly over two or three days.  Ghirardelli Double Chocolate are my go to brownie and I have sort of perfected them to my liking.  Canola oil, exactly 28 minutes, 11x7 pan regardless of what the box recommends.  And of course a lot of love. 

For Valentine’s this year I was thinking it would be nice if I could take my brownie obsession one step further and actually make them from scratch.  So this brownie obsessed full spent all afternoon and Excel to compare some of the best recipes on the internet (based on user ratings).  I compared ingredients which overlapped across the board and I compared technique.  I read what worked and what didn’t work.  I planned out a recipe based on my research and got to work.  I did a little tweaking as I went a long and now, three batches later, I think I have found a most awesome from-scratch-brownie.

I will admit that Ghirardelli are a lot simpler and just as tasty but I think your Valentine would appreciate the extra time and work required by these brownies. 

Fudgy Brownies102


4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 cup white sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.  Line 11x7 pans with aluminum foil.  Spray aluminum lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Microwave unsweetened baking chocolate and butter for two minutes in large microwave safe bowl.  Stir until chocolate it completely melted and mixture is smooth. 105           108
  3. Stir is sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla.109112
  4. Sift flour, salt and baking powder.  Stir into chocolate mixture.Stir in chips.117
  5. Spread into prepared pan and bake 28-30 minutes.


125  I’m thinking of just asking these brownies to be my Valentine.

11 February 2010

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins


Seven days just not enough days to try out all of the amazing muffin recipes out there. I ended up baking over eleven muffin recipes but a few were just not fit to post because they only turned out so-so and who really wants to bother with baking something that is only so-so? However, these muffins, with tons of banana and chocolate, were a big hit with toddlers and adults alike and could easily be breakfast or a snack. The recipe makes 18 regular size muffins but I made 24 mini muffins (the kids preferred these) and 6 regular muffins.

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins


1 3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup white sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 egg

1/2 canola oil

1/2 cup plain fat free yogurt

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup mashed bananas (or 3 medium)

3/4 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Spray muffin pans.
  2. Wisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In seperate bowl combine egg, oil, yogurt, vanilla and bananas. Stir in dry ingredients until incorporated. Add chocolate chips. Fill muffin pans 2/3 full.
  3. Bake 20 minutes in preheated oven. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans.

10 February 2010

Colt just lost the ‘big game’…again cookies


So what do you do when your favorite team makes it to the Superbowl?  Well, if you’re us you make a bet with your nephews involving cookies.  What happens, you might ask, when your favorite team makes it to the big game and plays horrendously?  Well, if you’re me you spend the Monday morning after the big game creating a new recipe that is (hopefully) fit for air mail. 

I was going to make something with peanut butter, oatmeal, and chocolate chips because the various websites I found about mailing cookies recommended these ingredients.  Unfortunately, I had only 1/4 cup of peanut butter in my whole house.  (Note:  We have been snowed in a lot recently.)  So I played around with a cookie that ended up having really just a hint of peanut butter than being a peanut butter cookie.  Hopefully our nephews and niece, who cheered for the Saints, will find them edible.

Colt Just Lost the ‘big game’…again Cookies


6 tbsp shortening

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1 bag mini semi sweet chocolate chips



  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. In large bowl cream shortening, butter, sugars, and peanut butter until smooth.  Beat in eggs one at a time and add vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into creamed mixture.  Add oats and chips until just combined.
  3. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 9-10 minutes.

09 February 2010

Honey Oatmeal Bread


I never make fresh bread, not that I don’t want to eat fresh bread.  I love the smell of fresh bread and the wonderful taste of fresh bread but I just find it to be very time consuming.  I think the last time I made fresh bread was when I was on a baking kick in 2001.  Yeah, that long ago.  I have made fresh breads and dough, but usually in a bread machine.  Last fall I did attempt pizza dough several times with my Kitchen aid Mixer doing most of the work and that went well so the other day, when I had a free afternoon (OK, not really), I decided to make some fresh Oatmeal bread.

Thing is, I have been on an oatmeal kick here lately, adding it to pancakes and streusel toppings whenever I can.  I have also switched to Nutty Oatmeal bread for sandwiches which I guess is what gave me the idea to make an oatmeal bread.  I don’t know if making it made any difference but I got such fulfillment out of making this bread from scratch.  I even decided to make fresh soup to accompany it.  When the bread came out of the oven my husband was still not home from work so the kids and I, we ate half of an entire loaf waiting for him to get home so we could eat ‘dinner’.  Of course the kids and I didn’t eat much soup.

I got this recipe from and followed it with two exceptions.  One, I didn’t have steel oats or rolled oats but only quick cooking Quaker Oats.  Also, I didn’t have active dry yeast, I had rapidrise yeast.  The bread still turned out delicious.

Honey Oatmeal Bread


  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 4 cups bread flour
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine boiling water, oats, 1/2 cup honey, butter and salt. Let stand for 1 hour.
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. 656
  3. Pour the yeast mixture into the oat mixture. Add 2 cups of flour; mix well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 20 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  4. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and form into loaves. Place the loaves into two lightly greased 9x5 inch loaf pans. Cover the loaves with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.


The bread wasn’t perhaps the most attractive bread ever made but it definitely was one of the best tasting bread I’ve ever had, definitely worth the trouble.

08 February 2010

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

I have just been swooning for coconut cookies lately, I can't explain it. For so long I have ignored this wonderful food but no more, now I truly appreciate the taste and texture of this amazing food. I keep trying new recipes, especially cookies, to test this fruit and I've yet to find a cookie or bread that had coconut that I didn't like. This new cookie, found on, was no exception.

I followed the recipe almost exactly only changing a few things. The main differences were simple changes, how the nuts were prepared, the kind of chocolate used, the baking temperature and the baking time. I brought these cookies to my book group the night I baked them and one of the girls who said she usually doesn't like coconut had two. I count that as success in my book.

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Coconut Cookies


  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups packaged finely shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 12 oz semisweet chips (or chunks to stick with the name)
  • 3/4 cup almonds with skins (I used ground almonds)

  • Directions

    1.) Preheat oven to 350°F.

    2.) Beat together butter and sugars in a bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until just blended, then beat in vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Add flour and mix at low speed until just blended. Stir in oats, coconut, chocolate, and almonds.

    3.) Arrange 1/4-cup mounds of cookie dough about 3 inches apart on 2 lightly buttered large baking sheets (about 8 cookies per sheet), then gently pat down each mound to about 1/2 inch thick. Bake 9-11 minutes.

    4.) Cool cookies on sheets 1 minute, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

    Yields approx. 2 dozen

    06 February 2010

    Morning Maple Muffins


    I love alliteration, don’t you?  I also love these muffins.  They are not healthy for you.  Sorry.  I thought about adding a little applesauce and taking away some butter but with 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup at stake I want these muffins to be moist and miserably bad for you.  But it’s worth it, I promise you. 

    These muffins were too good, unfortunately I left eight of them out on the counter and went to fold clothes and came back to find a trail of nuts leading underneath the kitchen table and a Springer Spaniel with guilty written across his face.  He ate eight of them, eight. 

    That’s just selfish.

    He could have at least left me one…more.

    Morning Maple Muffins


    2 cups all purpose flour

    1/2 cup packed brown sugar

    2 tsp. baking powder

    1/2 tsp. salt

    3/4 cup buttermilk

    1/2 cup butter melted

    1/2 cup maple syrup

    1/4 cup sour cream

    1 egg

    1/2 tsp. vanilla


    3 tbsp. ground cinnamon

    2 tbsp brown sugar

    2 tbsp white sugar

    2 tbsp chopped nuts

    1 tsp cinnamon

    2 tbsp butter


    1. Preheat oven to 400.  Line muffin pans or spray with cooking spray.
    2. In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl combine buttermilk, butter, syrup, sour cream, egg and vanilla.  Stir into the dry ingredients until just combined.
    3. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full (using a cookie scoop perhaps). Mix topping ingredients together, cutting butter until a crumble forms.  Sprinkle over batter.  Bake at 400 for 18-20 min.  Cool for several minutes in pan and then move to wire racks to cool completely.  Eat before dog does.


    The crumble on these incredibly moist muffins are worth all of the fat and calories in this muffin.  It’s Saturday, enjoy your weekend with a batch of these sinful muffins, you deserve it.

    05 February 2010

    Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins


    When it comes to baking chocolate chips, nuts and zucchini are three of the things I love to see on a list of ingredients. My favorite quick bread is zucchini and my favorite cookies are chocolate chip and I will take both with nuts, especially walnuts or pecans. This muffin incorporates all three as well and is a wonderful afternoon snack or morning pick me up.

    Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins


    1 cup all purpose flour

    1/2 cup whole wheat flour

    3/4 cup white sugar

    1 tsp. baking soda

    1 tsp cinnamon

    1/4 tsp. nutmeg

    1/2 tsp. salt

    1 egg

    1/4 cup applesauce

    1/4 cup canola oil

    1/4 cup buttermilk

    1 tsp. vanilla

    1 cup shredded zucchini

    1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

    3/4 cup chopped walnuts



    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
    2. Combine dry ingredients (flour through salt). Combine egg, oil, applesauce, buttermilk and vanilla. Combine with flour mixture and fold in zucchini, chips and nuts.609
    3. Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full. I like to use a cookie scoop, about two good size scoops fills the tins 2/3 full.610 611
    4. Bake for 18-20 minutes in preheated oven. These freeze well.


    04 February 2010

    Washboard Cookies

    My hair is falling out. I know it may just be the result of having a baby five months ago and now my hormones are shifting back and my hair, which has been thick and full forever, is now thinning terribly. Or at least that's what I want to believe. But I went and posted about my hair loss fears on my facebook page and then all sorts of people replied with what they think might be causing it. Now I'm worried about my testosterone levels, my thyroid, my protein intake and whether or not I need to start wig shopping. All of this worrying is just making my hair fall out in larger clumps and I can think of pretty much nothing but going bald.

    To fight these consuming thoughts I have been baking and cooking round the clock this week. From cornbread to cake, I have been trying and experimenting with all sorts of recipes with an average of three new ones a day. Unfortunately, several of them have been true bummers and a true waste of ingredients and effort. Others have been a nice surprise. I was really wanting to make a coconut cookie and came across Coconut Washboard cookies. I thought I had found a decent recipe to try on when I realized halfway into setting out the ingredients I had gone and chosen a recipe that called for absolutely no coconut. I'm telling you, the focus on my hair loss has me wondering if I should be doing anything that requires thought or concentration. Because I had already measured out the dark brown sugar and because there was such a short list of ingredients, I went forward with these cookies that are just simply Washboard Cookies. Not Coconut Washboard Cookies. Maybe another day.

    These cookies were so simple and put simply, rather good. Not the most amazing cookie but they turned out soft and chewy and are a good cookie to freeze (I have already frozen and defrosted some).

    All you need is a half hour and a short list of ingredients which makes this a perfect choice when you want a cookie without a lot of hassle or a trip to the grocery store.

    Washboard Cookies

    borrowed directly from


    • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
    • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 tablespoon hot water
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • sugar for dusting

    In a mixing bowl, cream butter, brown sugar and egg. Stir together baking soda, water and vanilla; add to creamed mixture. Add flour and mix well. Shape into walnut-sized balls. Place on greased baking sheets; flatten with a fork that has been dipped in water. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 325 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool on waxed paper.

    Yields 2 dozen

    Banana Crumb Muffins


    I am finding that what makes a good muffin a great muffin is the topping. And I am finding that the same basic five ingredients or so makes a wonderful topping. These muffins are good, but the topping makes these muffins…well, disappear.

    I was going to freeze some of these muffins but they just didn’t make it long enough for the freezer test.

    Banana Crumb Muffin


    1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

    1 tsp. baking soda

    1 tsp. baking powder

    1/2 tsp. salt

    3/4 tsp. cinnamon

    1/2 tsp. nutmeg

    3 bananas ripe and mashed

    1/2 cup white sugar

    1/4 cup brown sugar

    1 egg, lightly beaten

    1/3 cup canola oil

    1 tsp vanilla


    1/3 cup packed brown sugar

    2 tbsp. flour

    1/2 tsp. cinnamon

    1-2 tbsp. butter, softened


    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin tins or line with paper liners.
    2. In large bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk and set aside.633
    3. In separate bowl, mix bananas, sugars, oil, egg and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and stir until just combined. 632634
    4. In small bowl combine topping ingredients, cutting butter into dry ingredients until a crumble forms. Spoon batter into tins and sprinkle with crumb topping.631
    5. Bake in preheated oven 18-20 minutes. Cool on wire rack and enjoy.637

    03 February 2010

    Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

    012 For years I have eaten Cinnamon Toast for breakfast and besides a Powdered Donut I’m not sure there is anything quicker to put together for breakfast. Before my last pregnancy I was eating four slices of Cinnamon Toast every morning for breakfast. I just love it.

    Now I am trying to be a little healthier, I now enjoy one Cinnamon English Muffin on occasion. However, this week it’s all about muffins so I thought what the heck, why not attempt a muffin that channels one of my favorite things to have for breakfast?


    I did in fact find several recipes, surprisingly enough, for cinnamon toast muffins. I combined two of them, making a few changes to make them a little more flavorful and hopefully a tad bit healthier. I think the result was rather successful and they were a big-BIG-hit with my taste testers, my two year old twins.


    But then again, who can resist anything dipped in butter and rolled around in cinnamon and sugar?

    Cinnamon sugar muffins


    (for muffins)

    1 cup all purpose flour

    3/4 cup whole wheat flour
    1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/4 tsp nutmeg
    3/4 cup buttermilk (fat free)
    1/3 cup applesauce
    1 egg
    2/3 cup white sugar
    1 tbsp maple syrup

    (for topping)

    1/2 cup butter, melted
    3/4 cup white sugar
    4 tsp cinnamon


    1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin pan or line with paper liners.
    2. In medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; set aside. In a separate bowl combine buttermilk, applesauce, egg, sugar and maple syrup. Add dry mixture until combined being careful not to overmix.
    3. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake for 18-20 minutes. While muffins are baking melt butter in microwave or on stovetop over medium-low heat. Set aside to cool in a dish suitable for dipping muffin tops in. Mix cinnamon and sugar.
    4. When muffins are done immediately remove from muffin pan and dip in melted butter. Roll muffin tops in cinnamon sugar topping and enjoy!


    I enjoyed them so much that I dipped half eaten ones in the leftover cinnamon sugar. I might have a problem.

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