Orange Almond Biscotti

I spotted this in my google reader the other day, and lo and behold, it was another recipe from the Good Things Catered blog :) She is doing 25 Days of Treats, so of course there are many more recipes I have marked to try as well. This recipe comes from America's Test Kitchen, and so far, they haven't steered me wrong.

I had never made biscotti before, and was surprised at how simple it was. (Other than mistakenly adding only 2 tsp of zest, rather than 2 Tablespoons. Oops.) They still turned out really well, and I just dipped 'em in chocolate, which should more than make up for the zest. Biscotti is a great gift for friends, coworkers, and family, and make a yummy treat for yourself as well on a cold winter's morning.

Orange Almond Biscotti
America's Test Kitchen
2 cups A/P flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened but still cool (I like to cut the butter up into small pieces prior to creaming)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup almonds, toasted, cooled and chopped coarsely
2 Tbsp minced orange zest (I was out of oranges but found I could substitute the zest from clementines, which I had a whole box of.)

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, then the extracts. Stir in almonds and zest. Fold dry ingredients into wet until dough is just mixed.

Halve the dough, and turn portions onto prepared baking sheet. Stretch each portion into a rough 13 x 2 inch loaf, and pat smooth.

Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the loaves are golden and just beginning to crack on top. Remove baking sheet from over, and let cool for 10 minutes.

Lower oven temp to 325. Cut each loaf diagonally into 3/4 inch slices. Lay each slice cut-side up on baking sheet, and return to oven. Bake, turning each cookie halfway through baking, for a total of about 15 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown on both sides.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

I dipped my biscotti in melted semi-sweet chocolate, as well as in white chocolate drizzled with semi-sweet.

White Chocolate Dipped Dog Bones

I wanted to make some special treats for the furry children in our families, but I wanted something super easy and quick. I decided to just buy some regular milkbones from the store, and dip them in melted white chocolate. You can also make your own bones, and do the same for a completely homemade treat!

White Chocolate Dipped Dog Bones

1 lb. white chocolate chips
2 - 3 dozen milkbones (you can probably get 4 dozen if you buy the smallest size bones)
Colored sprinkles

Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave or in a double boiler. Dip each biscuit halfway in the melted white chocolate. (I used a spoon to make sure I got both sides covered completely.) Set on parchment paper, wax paper or a silpat. Add colored sprinkles before chocolate sets, and allow chocolate to harden before packaging for your furry friends!



For Christmas this year, I decided I wanted to bake some of my gifts for my clients and co-workers. I made some of the Malted Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk cookies (and of course, saved some for myself), and then I decided I wanted to make some fudge after seeing a really easy recipe on Beantown Baker.

She suggests using the defrost setting on the microwave to melt the chocolate, which worked out really well! The only problem I had was that I forgot to pick up some sweetened condensed milk at the store, but luckily I found a recipe for a substitution for it, so I didn't have to run back out to the store. The fudge was nice and creamy, and hopefully everyone I made it for enjoys it!

All Recipes

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (like Beantown Baker, I used 2 cups milk chocolate and 1 cup semisweet, Ghirardelli chips.)
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Place chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter in large microwaveable bowl. Cook in microwave on defrost until chips are melted, about 3 - 5 minutes, stirring once or twice while cooking. Stir in nuts, if desired.

Pour into well-greased 8x8 inch baking dish (I just lined mine with aluminum foil for easy removal); refrigerate until set.


Cranberry-Orange Cookies

These cookies are absolutely amazing! I picked up some extra bags of fresh cranberries from the grocery store during their post-Thanksgiving sales, and was excited to come across this recipe last week. The orange zest & juice combined with the tartness of the cranberries is an unbeatable combination. I seriously can't stop eating these; they are super simple to throw together, and will definitely be in my rotation of holiday cookies from here on out. I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Good Things Catered. You can never gone wrong with any of Katie's recipes, they are all fantastic!

Cranberry-Orange Cookies
Good Things Catered

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp grated orange zest
juice of 1/2 orange
1 tsp vanilla
1 c. chopped fresh cranberries

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment.
-In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, and whisk; set aside.
-In bowl of stand mixer, combine butter and sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
-Add yolk and beat until fully incorporated.
-Add orange juice, then zest and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated.
-Turn mixer to low speed, add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.
-Remove bowl from mixer, stir in cranberries, and place 1 Tbsp rounds of dough onto cookie sheets. Be sure to place the cookies several inches apart, as they do spread a bit while baking.
-Place cookies in the oven and bake, switching baking sheet positions half way through baking time, for 12-14 minutes (they should not brown)
-Remove from oven and let cool on pans completely, about 10-15 minutes.

Makes about 18 Tbsp-sized cookies


Warm Baked Autumn Oatmeal

Once I find myself craving oatmeal, I know that cooler weather has finally started to arrive. I found this recipe in the newspaper my husband is interning at, and it sounded so tasty I couldn't wait to make it this weekend. It is made with old-fashioned rolled oats, and it takes a bit more time to cook than instant oatmeal, but the flavors are so much richer...not to mention the lack of added salt, sugar and other added ingredients found in processed foods.

I added dried cranberries, but this is a pretty versatile recipe, so you can experiment with different fruit, nuts, and spices to your liking.

Warm Baked Autumn Oatmeal
Ogden Standard-Examiner

1 3/4 cup water
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cup milk
4-oz. carton egg substitute (I used two eggs)
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dried fruit bits
Non-fat vanilla yogurt, optional
Chopped, toasted pecans, optional (I omitted as I didn't have any)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray and 8x8 inch square baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside.

Place water in medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in oats and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, whisk together milk and egg, and set aside.

Add brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt to oats; stir well. Blend in milk mixture and dried fruit bits. Pour into prepared dish.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until center is just set. Allow to cool 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Spoon into individual serving dishes. If desired, dollop each with about a tablespoon of nonfat vanilla yogurt, then sprinkle with chopped, toasted pecans.

Serves 6.


5-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

This recipe is very, very dangerous. It is so simple to make, and you probably have all of the ingredients sitting in your cupboard at any given time, so beware! You might make this the first time and make it the next 2, 3 or 4 nights as well...

5-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
a small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes on high. The cake will rise over the top of the mug. Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate. (This is also excellent with a scoop of chocolate ice cream on the side.)


The Famous NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

This cookie recipe has been making its way around the blogosphere, and when I saw it a couple of weeks ago, I knew I had to make it. The recipe comes from the NY Times, also home of the famous no-knead bread recipe we loved so much. The most difficult step of baking these cookies is the waiting period of 24 - 36 hours, during which the dough is chilled in order to deepen and heighten the flavors. I could only manage to wait about 26 hours before I had to break out the dough...but it seemed like long enough to do the trick! These were some of the richest cookies I have ever eaten, which also may have had something to do with the 60% cacao chips I used. My husband didn't really care for the sprinkle of sea salt on top, but I really enjoyed it; we agreed to disagree. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill chocolate chip cookies, but they make a special treat if you are willing to take that extra time to wait.

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from The New York Times, David Leite, and Jacques Torres

2 cups minus 2 Tbsp. (8 ½ oz.) cake flour (I used A/P as I didn't have any cake flour on hand)
1 2/3 cups (8 ½ oz.) bread flour
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. coarse salt, such as kosher
2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups; 10 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups (10 oz.) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (8 oz.) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks, preferably about 60% cacao content (I used Ghirardelli)
Sea salt, such as Maldon

Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk well; then set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low; then add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to soften slightly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (about the size of golf balls) onto the baking sheet, sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.


Almond-Glazed Sugar Cookies

I recently discovered that I am very, very fond of almond. I have been tagging every recipe I come across that has anything almond-related in the ingredients list. When I came across this recipe for almond sugar cookies, I had to make them that very night because they sounded so good. And they didn't disappoint; these cookies are the perfect blend of good old-fashioned sugar cookie with a great hint of almond flavor. I found this recipe by way of The Spicy Skillet, where she switched up the almond with lemon...these sound delicious as well!

These sugar cookies were really easy to make, as there was no rolling/cutting out/refrigerating of the dough needed. I got about 2 dozen cookies out of this recipe, and I'm going to have to give some away before I eat them all myself! There is nothing like a really great sugar cookie, and this one is definitely a winner.

Almond-Glazed Sugar Cookies
Your Home-Based Mom

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Mix butter, sugar and extract in a large bowl. Beat until creamed, 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Beat 1 to 2 more minutes. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and flatten balls to 1/4 inch thickness with the bottom of a buttered glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 400 for 7-9 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Cool 1 minute. Move to a wire rack. Stir together glaze ingredients with a wire whisk. Decorate cooled cookies with glaze and sliced almonds (optional).

Glaze: 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp. almond extract, 4-5 tsp. milk.


Guinness-Milk Chocolate Ice Cream

I wanted to make a classic chocolate ice cream with my new ice-cream maker; I love milk chocolate, and had found the perfect recipe in The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz. I showed my (Irish) husband my book, and he was immediately drawn to this recipe instead on the next page. It turned out to be delicious combination; so incredibly creamy and rich. If you are a fan of Guinness, this ice cream is for you.

Guinness-Milk Chocolate Ice Cream
from The Perfect Scoop

Photo by Nicholas Draney Photography

7 oz. milk chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Guinness Stout
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the chocolate pieces in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer over the milk chocolate, then stir until the chocolate is melted. Once the mixture is smooth, whisk in the cream, then the Guinness and vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.


Cherry Sorbet

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

For my birthday, my mom surprised me with an ice cream attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer, as well as the book The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz. I couldn't wait to make my first recipe. But which one should I choose? I wanted to make the vanilla frozen yogurt, the chocolate French-style ice cream, the strawberry granita....but my decision was made as I went grocery shopping and came across some shiny, bright red cherries. Cherry sorbet it was!

Although I think I prefer the flavor of fresh cherries better (and have eaten at least a pound in the last week or so to prove it), this sorbet is a great choice for summer. The cherries are cooked prior to mixing, and this provides a deep, rich flavor. The sorbet itself is nice and light, perfect for a hot summer day.

Cherry Sorbet
from The Perfect Scoop

2 pounds cherries
1 cup water
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Stem the cherries and remove the pits. In a medium saucepan, warm the cherries over moderate heat with the water, sugar, and lemon juice until they start becoming juicy. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cherries are soft and cooked through. Remove from the heat and let stand until they reach room temperature.

Puree the cherries and their liquid with the almond extract in a blender until smooth.

Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

No-Knead Bread

I recently celebrated my 28th birthday, and luckily my family and friends know me well, as I received many kitchen-related gifts. I have been wanting a french oven for the longest time, and when I saw the no-knead bread recipe going around the blogging community, it only solidified my desire. My mother-in-law, Teresa, surprised me with a beautiful, red, 7-qt. cast iron pot, and I finally got to break it in today, when at long last, I made the infamous bread.

I could not believe how easy this bread is to make. There are only four ingredients, and you literally mix them together, let them sit overnight, and make the bread the next day. Amazing. The crust is nice and crunchy, and the interior is so soft and light. One of the easiest and best bread recipes I have ever seen; my new pot is going to be put to great use!

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

No-Knead Bread, revisited
from Steamy Kitchen
adapted from Mark Bittman of NY Times, who got it from Sullivan Street Bakery. When the recipe first came out, it was the blogging community who took the bread to new heights, especially Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of The Bread Bible.

Yield: one 1½ lb loaf
3 cups bread flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 tablespoon kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
1 1/2 cups warm water
Covered pot (five-quart or larger cast iron, Pyrex, ceramic, enamel…something that can go into a 450F oven.)

1. Mix dough: The night before, combine all ingredients in a big bowl with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together. It will be a shaggy, doughy mess. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 12-20 hours on countertop.

2. Shape & preheat: The dough will now be wet, sticky and bubbly. With a wet spatula, dump the dough on a floured surface. Fold ends of dough over a few times with the spatula and nudge it into a ball shape. You can use your hands if you like, just keep your hands wet so that the dough does not stick. Generously dust a cotton towel (not terrycloth) with flour. Set dough seam side down on top of towel. Fold towel over the dough. Let it nap for 2 hours. When you’ve got about a half hour left, slip your covered pot into the oven and preheat to 450F.

3. Bake: Your dough should have doubled in size. Remove pot from oven. Holding towel, dump wobbly dough into pot. Doesn’t matter which way it lands. Shake to even dough out. Cover. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover, bake another 15-20 minutes or until the crust is beautifully golden and middle of loaf is 210F. Remove and let cool on wired rack. If not eating right away, you can re-crisp crust in 350F oven for 10 minutes.

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography


Malted Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Cafe Johnsonia. The malt combined with the chocolate gives it such a wonderful flavor; I saved half of the dough in the freezer because I couldn't trust myself to have too many of these around for long. Beware - the dough itself is to die for! Such a delicious cookie, and it's great to have extras sitting in the freezer to make whenever I want more.

Malted Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Cafe Johnsonia

2 sticks butter, melted
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup malted milk powder (I used Carnation--look for it by the hot chocolate at the store)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups chocolate chunks

Melt the butter in a large mixing bowl on 50% power in the microwave, or in a saucepan. Whisk in the brown sugar. Let cool to room temperature. Add the malted milk powder and whisk to remove any lumps. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk well.

Sift the dry ingredients. Using an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, add the dry ingredients a little at a time into the butter/sugar mixture, beating or stirring well after each addition.

Stir in the chocolate chunks. Chill the dough for about an hour, or until firm.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line several baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper, or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Drop tablespoon sized balls onto the baking sheets--about 2" apart. (A jellyroll pan will get 12 cookies on it.) Bake at 375 degrees F for about 10 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Fresh Vegetable Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

My husband and I try to always eat our veggies. But we tend to always fall back on our standby, spinach; we eat salads with most meals, and after awhile, eating the same thing day in and day out starts to get old. We were watching the Food Network the other day and saw this delicious, simple veggie salad Giada was making, and decided to try it out. A perfect side dish for summer.

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

Anytime Vegetable Salad
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

2 cups shelled edamame soy beans
8 ounces thin green beans, trimmed
8 ounces yellow wax beans, trimmed (I omitted, couldn't find any at the store)
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil or tarragon leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook the edamame in a large pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water, then drain well and pat dry. Repeat with the green beans and yellow beans. Combine the vegetables in a bowl.

Add the vinegar, oil, herbs, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper to a glass screw-top jar. Seal the jar and shake vigorously to mix the vinaigrette.

When you're ready to serve, shake the jar again to re-mix the vinaigrette and pour it over the vegetables. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Alternate Method: Whisk the vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 3/4 teaspoon of pepper in a large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Add all of the beans, tomatoes, basil, and thyme, and toss to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with more salt and pepper, and serve.


Whole-Wheat Orange Juice Muffins

I found this recipe on Cooking Light, but adapted it to make it a little healthier and more low-cal. They were a just a little bland, but they were very moist and since I had most of the ingredients on hand, they were totally easy to throw together.

Whole-Wheat Orange Juice Muffins
Adapted from Cooking Light

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup Splenda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind (I omitted as I didn't have any, but added 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. I think the lemon rind would've given more flavor)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup rolled oats
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 400.

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine all-purpose flour and next 5 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine juice, applesauce, vanilla, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring until just moist. Stir in rolled oats. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

La Brea Country White Sourdough or: The 360-Hour Bread

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I asked my husband to buy me this book featuring breads from La Brea Bakery. All I knew was that the La Brea breads we purchased at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods was some of the best bread I had ever tried.

My dear husband bought me the book, and I opened it up. The first 28 pages are devoted to all of the proper "tools" you will need to make the breads in this book. I was a little overwhelmed. Then I got to the chapter titled "A Lesson in Bread Making." It proceeded to walk me through a day-by-day tutorial of making a sourdough starter. Which, for baking a loaf of bread worthy of Nancy Silverton (the author), involves 14 days. Fourteen. (Thankfully, as long as I never kill off my starter, I won't ever have to repeat this process again.)

Needless to say, I was a little overwhelmed. The first 9 days involve fermentation of the culture. Day 10 is the day you begin to feed the starter. Three times a day. For five days. I followed her every instruction to a T, and by Day 15 I was ready to make my first loaves of bread. After this extensive process to which I committed so much time and energy, I wanted some payoff!

But the process to make my first loaf of bread was a 2-day process. Well. Technically, according to her bread baking schedule, it COULD be completed in one day (18 hours). So of course, I was going to do it in one day. One looong day.

I got up that morning at 6:00 am to begin mixing. The bread finally went into the oven to bake at 11:45 PM and was done baking around 12:20 AM. So for next time, I think I'm going to stick to the 2-day bread making schedule. Because by 1:00 in the morning, when the bread had cooled and I could finally, at long last, try some of this masterpiece bread, I was super tired and frustrated and just wanted to go to bed.

(The bread was absolutely amazing. It was just a royal pain in the butt to make.)

I will include the original recipe, for anyone who might already have a sourdough starter at home; I am also including a link to Williams-Sonoma's site for a similar La Brea recipe for those who want to use active dry yeast.)

Country White Bread
Nancy Silverton, La Brea Bakery

12 ounces (about 1 1/3 cups) starter
2 pounds plus 2 ounces (about 7 cups) unbleached white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 pound plus 2 ounces (about 2 1/4 cups) cool water, 70 degrees F
1/2 cup raw wheat germ
4 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
Vegetable oil

Using your dough hook on your electric mixer, measure the water, starter, flour and wheat germ into the mixing bowl; mix on low speed for 5 minutes. The dough should be sticky and pliable. If it appears too dry, dribble a bit more water in slowly and keep mixing.

After 5 minutes, turn off mixer, cover dough with proofing cloth, and let dough rest for 20 minutes. Add the salt and mix the dough at medium speed until the dough reaches a temperature of 78 degrees F, looks satiny and feels smooth (about 5 more minutes.)

Remove dough from mixing bowl and place it in a clean bowl lightly coated with vegetable oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to ferment at room temperature, until it doubles in volume, about 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into two equal pieces. Slap each piece gently against the work surface to deflate the dough. Tuck all the edges under to form a sort-of rounded mass; don't bother making it look like loaf at this point, you are simply preshaping to suggest the shape to come. Cover the two pieces of dough with a piece of cloth. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes.

Using a strainer, sift a thin, even layer of flour along the sides and bottom of a cloth-lined proofing basket. (If you don't have proofing baskets, you can proof the bread directly on a proofing cloth similarly dusted.) Wrap your hands around the side of one piece of dough and with a rolling motion, rock it into a ball. Do not overshape; don't worry about getting a super-compact ball, just apply even pressure all around to get a taut ball with smooth skin stretching over the surface of the dough.

Put the shaped boule smooth side down into a basket. Pinch the seam closed with your fingers. Repeat the process with the second piece of dough. Cover each basket with a piece of plastic wrap, and place them at room temperature to let the dough proof just until it starts rising up the sides of the baskets, and increases volume by one-fourth. This will take approximately one hour.

Next, the dough needs to age. Retarding the dough helps allow it maintain the long, slow rise required to develop flavor and texture. Place the boules in your refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours, but no more than 24 (this step allows for a range of flexibility in the times.)

Remove the boules from the refrigerator, and take off the plastic wrap. Cover the boules with proofing cloth. (If your oven cannot accommodate both boules, you should bake them one at a time. That means you should remove the second boule 1 hour after the first so it is ready to bake just as the first loaf is removed from the oven.)

Proof the boules at room temperature, away from drafts; the dough is ready to bake when it has doubled in size, no longer springs back when poked with your finger, and has come up to a temperature of 62 degrees, about 3 hours. While the bread is proofing, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F, placing a pizza or baking stone on the bottom rack of the oven.

When the boules are properly proofed, lightly dust them with flour and turn them out onto a baker's peel (I didn't have one, so I just used a giant spatula from our grill set.) Slash the top of the dough at a 45-degree angle, starting about 1 inch from the top edge of the boule down to the bottom (I just did a simple X.)

A minute before you place the bread in the oven, spritz water heavily onto the preheated baking stone, and all around the sides of the oven; quickly close the door.

Open the oven door, slide the boule from the peel directly onto the baking stone, and close the door. Turn the oven temperature down to 450 degrees. *My first loaf was baked exactly according to these instructions, and got really crispy, almost burned. I turned the temp down to 400 for the second loaf and got perfect results.

During the next five minutes, spritz the oven with water 2 more times. After those five minutes, don't open the oven door for 20 minutes. You want to maintain the steam you've created.

After 25 minutes, check the bread and rotate the boules as necessary. Continue baking for another 20 minutes, for a total of 45 minutes (my bread was done in just about 40 minutes.) Tap the bottom of the loaf to check for a hollow thud; this means the bread is done.

Place the boules on a cooling rack and allow to cool.


Peach Cobbler

I went to our local farmer's market this morning, and was thrilled when I found some delicious, juicy peaches at one of the stands. I think peaches are my absolute favorite fruit...or maybe cherries, or watermelon...strawberries, blackberries, oh, and pineapple...anyway. Peaches are up at the top of my list. I saved a bunch to eat by themselves, but cut the rest of them up and put them into this yummy cobbler recipe I found on the Food Network website. A perfect summer dessert!

Peach Cobbler
Food Network
Recipe courtesy Kristina Williamson, Schooner Ellida, Rockland, Maine

Cobbler filling:
4 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches (blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds to remove the skins)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon flour

Cobbler crust:
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon brown sugar, for topping
Whipped cream
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Generously butter a 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish. Place the sliced peaches in the dish and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and flour. Mix gently and spread evenly again. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile combine all dry ingredients for cobbler crust in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers, to make the texture like coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and stir to form a soft dough.

Remove fruit from oven and drop rounded spoonfuls of dough on top. Sprinkle with last tablespoon of brown sugar and return to oven. Bake until fruit is bubbly and crust topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream.


Almond Poppyseed Muffins

I had a hankering for something almond this weekend, and after seeing many posts about delicious lemon-poppyseed muffins, I decided to search for a muffin recipe that was adaptable to almond flavoring. I found this recipe at Nook & Pantry and decided to try it out. These muffins are a little lighter than some of the other recipes I found (contain less butter & sugar), and the buttermilk keeps them nice and moist. I am also really happy they turned out well, because this was the first time I made muffins without using muffin-tin liners. (Hooray for using less paper/being environmentally conscious!) I like having a base muffin recipe that's adaptable to different add-ins, and I am excited to try other combinations of fruits/nuts next time.

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins

Buttermilk Base Recipe
2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 C sugar
4 Tbsp melted butter
1 1/4 C buttermilk

Almond Poppy Seed
1 1/2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp of almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350ºF, adjust a rack to the middle position. Spray a 12 cup regular size muffin tin with some nonstick spray.

Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and poppy seeds in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Whisk egg, sugar, and almond extract together until combined, then whisk in the buttermilk and melted butter.

Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour and fold to combine. There should be not large pockets of flour but small streaks may remain. Do not over mix. The batter will be fairly thick.

Divide the batter evenly into the tin. Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Flip the muffins out of the tin and cool them right side up on a cooling rack.


Strawberry Scones

I got this recipe off of Katie's blog, Good Things Catered. They are pretty much the best scones ever, with fresh, juicy strawberries and a hint of orange. I made these for a nice brunch with my husband this Memorial Day, and luckily I had enough left over to freeze a few for breakfast later this week!
Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

Juicy Strawberry Scones

2 1/4 - 2 1/2 c. all purpose flour (depends on how ripe your strawberries are)
1/4 c. granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 egg
1/4 c. yogurt
1/4 c. milk
2 tsp orange zest
1 c. fresh strawberries, diced

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment
-In small bowl, combine egg, yogurt, milk, zest, whisk to combine thoroughly and set aside.
-In large bowl combine flour, sugar, powder, salt, and whisk to combine.
-Using pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour until all pieces are smaller than pea-sized.
-Add strawberries, and toss to coat.
-Add wet ingredients to dry and mix in lightly with fork until dough just comes together.
-Turn dough out onto well floured work surface and pat into large ball.
-Cut dough in half.
-Shape half of dough into flat disk shape and cut into 8 slices.
-Place on baking sheet and repeat with other half of dough.
-Sprinkle tops of scones with sugar and place in the oven.
-Bake until turn slightly brown, about 25 minutes.
-Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes.
-Transfer to a wire rack and let cool (or eat right away!)


Garlic & Rosemary Cornish Game Hen

I had a couple of Cornish game hens sitting in the freezer, and decided to make a nice Sunday night dinner for Nick and myself. Our families both have a tradition of having a big dinner together on Sundays, so being that we are so far away, I thought it would be nice to carry on the tradition in our home here in California. I served this with steamed broccoli and freshly baked French bread.

Garlic & Rosemary Cornish Game Hen

  • 2 Cornish game hens
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lemon, quartered
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoonsolive oil
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
  2. Rub hens with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Lightly season hens with salt and pepper. Place 1 lemon wedge and 1 sprig rosemary in cavity of each hen. Arrange in a large, heavy roasting pan, and arrange garlic cloves around hens. Roast in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a mixing bowl, whisk together wine, chicken broth, and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil; pour over hens. Continue roasting about 25 minutes longer, or until hens are golden brown and juices run clear. Baste with pan juices every 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer hens to a platter, pouring any cavity juices into the roasting pan. Tent hens with aluminum foil to keep warm. Transfer pan juices and garlic cloves to a medium saucepan and boil until liquids reduce to a sauce consistency, about 6 minutes. Cut hens in half lengthwise and arrange on plates. Spoon sauce and garlic around hens. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, and serve.



I finally had a chance to make these tasty Polish cookies this weekend, recipe courtesy of my mom. I used a cherry filling, since I have been feeling cherries a lot lately, especially with all the fresh ones I've been eating :)


1/2 lb. butter, slightly softened
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, slightly softened
2 cups flour
1 container cherry, raspberry, apricot filling (I used Solo brand)
confectioner's sugar

Blend the 1st three ingredients together, form into a ball and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375.
Cut off a section of dough that is about a third of the ball. Roll the dough out until it is 1/4 inch thick, and using a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter, cut out forms. Make a slight indentation in the center of each cookie, dropping about a teaspoon of pie filling in the center of each cutout. Place cutouts on parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Bake in 375 degree oven about 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Cool on wire racks. Dust with confectioners' sugar.


Cookie Madness! The Sequel

I made the scaled down version batch of cookies (the original said it made 40!), but I only ended up with 8 small cookies, even though it said it made 10. Next time I think I would just cut the original recipe in half and get bigger cookies.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
Cookie Madness

1 large egg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon Mexican vanilla
1/3 cup chopped peanuts, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, beat together egg, sugar, baking soda and vanilla. I use an electric mixer for this, but you can do it with a whisk. Beat in the peanut butter and stir in the peanuts.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Cookies will look puffy and soft when the come out of the oven, but they sink and firm up as they cool.

Makes about 40 cookies.

Small Batch: Use about a tablespoon of beaten egg, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 cup peanut butter, a little dash of vanilla and a tablespoon of chopped peanuts.

Cookie Madness!

It is finals week up at my school, so I thought I would make some cookies for the students I work with. I found a ton of recipes on the Cookie Madness site, and decided to go with almond chocolate chip & peanut butter. I especially liked the chocolate chip, the Corn Flakes & shredded coconut gave it an awesome flavor.

Crispy Crunchy Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cookie Madness

1/2 cup whole almonds, unsalted
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 tablespoons lightly beaten egg (doesn’t have to be precise)
1 cup all purpose, fluffed up and very lightly spooned and swept (4 1/4 oz)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 generous teaspoon salt
1 cups Corn Flakes cereal
6 oz dark chocolate, cut into chunks or 1 cup semisweet chips
2/3 cup loosely packed shredded sweetened coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place almonds on a paper towel and microwave on high for 2 minutes, stopping halfway through the shuffle them around. Allow them to cool. Alternatively, you may toast them in the oven.**
In a mixing bowl, using high speed of electric mixer, cream butter, both sugars, both extracts and the
1 ½ tablespoons egg.

In a separate bowl, thoroughly stir together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture.

Transfer cooled almonds and coconut (if using) to a food processor and pulse until almonds are finely chopped. Add Corn Flakes and pulse 5 more times to crush cereal – don’t pulverize it, just break the flakes a bit.

Dump almond/cereal mixture into cookie batter and stir until batter comes together. It should be pretty dry.

Shape dough into balls of about 1 1/4 inch and place on cookie sheets about 2 ½ inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time on center rack for 13-15 minutes. Let cool for about 3 minutes on cookie sheet, then transfer to wire rack to cool.

Makes about 18 cookies.
** To toast almonds in oven, lay flat on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 8 minutes or until almonds start to crack.


Mango Chicken

I got this recipe a long time ago from my mom; it is a knock-off of a dish served at Thaifoon, an Asian-fusion restaurant back in Salt Lake. The mango offsets the spiciness of the chili garlic sauce for a delicious asian dish.

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

Mango Chicken

2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 fresh mango, skinned, pitted & cut into 3/4" - 1" cubes
1 Tbsp. basil
1 1/2 cups mango sauce (recipe follows)

Mango Sauce ingredients:
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1-2 Tbsp. chili garlic sauce (depending on how spicy you want it to be)
1 bottle (7.5 oz) sweet chili sauce - I use Sun Luck
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice

Combine and blend together all the sauce ingredients. Heat wok/saute pan and add canola oil. Add and stir fry chicken until cooked. Add mango pieces, tossing to incorporate and warm the mango.

Add sauce and basil. Toss and reduce until sauce lightly coats the chicken and mango.

Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair...

....parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme. This bread contains all four of these herbs from the famous Simon & Garfunkel song. The flavors all complement one another very nicely, making a very tasty bread.

Scarborough Fair Herb Bread
Source: Salt Lake Tribune, courtesy of Melanie Wilhelmsen, Ogden as published in American Profile Magazine

6 cups all-purpose flour, divided (I used King Arthur Bread Flour instead)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm (120 to 130 degrees) water
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped sage (I used 2 teaspoons of each - sage, rosemary & thyme)
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
1 tablespoon melted butter

Grease two (9-by-5-inch) loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine four cups flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and 2 1/2 cups warm water. Add herbs and stir until well blended. (I let my KitchenAid do the work.) Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Stir dough for 25 strokes. Divide between pans. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake loaves 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, and bake 15 minutes longer or until bread sounds hollow when tapped. If necessary, cover loosely with foil during the last 10 minutes of baking time to prevent over-browning. Remove from pans immediately and brush with melted butter. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 2 loaves.

Photos courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography


Opah Teriyaki

Yesterday we made a trip out to one of our favorite specialty grocery stores in the area, Bristol Farms. They have an amazing selection of fresh meats, seafood, cheeses, produce....I could go on and on about my love of this store. I picked up a 6 oz. opah steak, while my husband went with ahi. Opah fillets are a nice pink color, turning white once cooked. I first tried this delicious Hawaiian fish at Duke's in Malibu, and loved the light, flaky texture. It is not as dense as say, swordfish, and does well with marinades. If you ever happen to have the opportunity to pick some up, definitely try it - you won't be disappointed!

I found this recipe and gave it a whirl. It was the perfect preparation for the opah.

Opah Teriyaki

1 opah steak (6 oz.)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce*
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

In skillet set at 250 or medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter; add garlic, saute until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in teriyaki, lemon juice, honey and sesame seeds. Pour over fish, marinate 30 minutes. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in skillet. Set at medium heat. Add Opah, saute 4-5 minutes on each side, basting with marinade. Do not overcook.

*I also didn't have any teriyaki sauce on hand, so I made my own from this recipe on Recipezaar:

Teriyaki Sauce (makes 1 cup)
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
fresh grated ginger (about 1 Tbs. or to your liking)
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 minced garlic clove
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Combine 1/2 cup water, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup cold water and add to sauce. Stir constantly to allow the sauce to thicken. If the sauce is too thick, add a little water or soy sauce to thin.


Whole-Grain Blackberry Spice Muffins

I had been wanting to make some berry muffins lately, and I had been holding on to this recipe for sometime now, so I decided to make these last night. I will definitely not make the mistake of using fresh in place of frozen next time (I had a TON of fresh blackberries I wanted to use up), since my batter turned slightly gray in color. Oops. Although they aren't the greatest-looking muffins, they are quite tasty.

Whole Grain Blackberry Spice Muffins
Cooking Light


2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon apple-pie spice
1 cup fat-free milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups frozen blackberries, coarsely chopped
Cooking spray
1/4 cup granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 400°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through apple-pie spice) in a large bowl. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, butter, vanilla, and egg in a small bowl; add to flour mixture, stirring until just moist. Gently stir in blackberries.

Spoon 1/4 cup batter into each of 17 paper-lined muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 16 minutes. Sprinkle muffins evenly with granulated sugar; bake 3 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Cool in pans 10 minutes on wire racks.


17 muffins (serving size: 1 muffin)


Out with the old, in with the new

Yesterday, we had to say goodbye to our dinnerware we loved so dearly. We had registered for the Kita dinnerware setting from Crate & Barrel, and after about a month of use, we found that the crackled glaze we loved so much was starting to stain. We tried everything to get it out (and this is not only from coffee and tea stains, but things as basic as tomato sauce & sriracha.) But no dice. We tried living with it. And continued to get upset every time one of the pieces would stain.

So yesterday, we finally bit the bullet and took them back. (Thank you Crate & Barrel returns department.)
RIP Kita dishes. We loved you.

Fortunately, there is a happy ending here. We were able to find another place setting we liked ALMOST as much.

Introducing, Staccato. Welcome to our humble abode.


Ginger Honey Cookies

These cookies are nice and soft in the middle, with a crisp edge. Next time I think I will try a little more ginger, or possibly even try out almond extract...they were just a little bland but they definitely have potential to be a great cookie.

Ginger Honey Cookies

Active time: 15 min Start to finish: 45 min
Servings: Makes 14 cookies


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (I didn't have any on hand so I used 1/4 teaspoon ground; I definitely think this cookie needed more kick and this is probably where I went wrong.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar instead)
1 large egg
1/4 cup mild honey


Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and honey until combined. Reduce speed to low, then mix in flour mixture.

Drop 14 heaping tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart onto 2 ungreased baking sheets.

Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, 10 to 14 minutes total (cookies will spread flat). Cool completely on sheets on racks.

Cooks' note: Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 3 days.



Surprise, surprise...another post about bread. I actually wasn't planning on making this bread this weekend, but was missing one of the ingredients for the other bread my husband was begging...er...asking me to make (the Honey Wheat bread I made several posts back - it was a smashing hit!) But I was secretly thrilled because I had the opportunity to try yet another recipe on my list. I found this Ciabatta recipe on Williams-Sonoma's website. I have learned to be very careful when scanning recipes, particularly for bread - they can be very time-consuming, and I find it is best to plan my baking carefully around my schedule. This bread is made over the course of 2 days, but is actually really easy to make. It just involves a little bit of babysitting. I was pleased with the texture and taste of the end result - I will definitely make this again.

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography


The Italian word ciabatta, or "slipper," describes the shape of this loaf, which is like a flat slipper or old shoe. The dough is so wet that it is easiest to mix by machine. It is made with an Italian-style starter called a biga, which is firm like a bread dough rather than soft like a sponge. The biga must rest overnight, so plan to make this bread over the course of 2 days. The chewy loaf is dimpled with big, uneven holes, known as occhi, or "eyes."

The bread is baked on a baking stone, also called a pizza stone or a baking tile. These are available in large rounds and rectangles. Made of high-fired unglazed clay stoneware, they retain and distribute heat evenly, producing a more uniformly baked loaf and nicely browned crusts. To be effective, the stone must be preheated in the oven for at least 30 minutes before the bread is placed on it. Wipe the cooled stone clean after use; do not use soap and water.


For the biga starter:
1 1/3 cups water, at room temperature
2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
3/4 tsp. active dry yeast

3 Tbs. warm water (105° to 115°F)
3/4 cup warm milk (105° to 115°F)
2 tsp. active dry yeast
2 to 2 1/3 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for greasing


To make the starter, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the water, 1 cup of the all-purpose flour and the yeast. Mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add the remaining 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour and mix until smooth and soft, about 1 minute. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until almost tripled in bulk, 4 to 6 hours. The starter will smell yeasty. Refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours or for up to 3 days. When ready to make the dough, remove the starter from the refrigerator and let stand for 1 to 2 hours.

To make the dough, fit the mixer again with the paddle attachment. Add the warm water and milk and the yeast to the starter and mix on low speed, making a souplike mixture. Add 1 1⁄2 cups of the bread flour, the salt and the 2 Tbs. olive oil. Mix on low speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add only as much of the remaining bread flour as needed to form a very soft, moist dough, and mix on low speed for 5 minutes, occasionally scraping the dough off the bowl sides and paddle. The dough should be very soft and sticky, pulling away from the sides of the bowl but sticking to the bottom.

Cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled or tripled in bulk, about 2 hours. The top will be smooth, but the dough will be sticky under the surface. Line a large, heavy baking sheet with aluminum foil and sprinkle generously with bread flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board (it will deflate), sprinkle lightly with flour, and pat with your fingers into a 14-by-5-inch rectangle. Fold the rectangle like a letter, overlapping the 2 short sides in the middle to make 3 layers. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the sprinkling and folding, letting the dough rest for 10 minutes if it seems too springy to fold. Cut the dough crosswise into 2 equal rectangles and place each half on the prepared baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the tops generously with flour. Holding your fingers in an open, splayed position, press, push and stretch each dough rectangle, making an irregular rectangle about 11 inches long and the width of your hand. Your fingers will press the dough unevenly, producing the characteristic dimpled texture in the baked loaf. Cover again loosely with plastic wrap and let rest until tripled in bulk, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Press the dough to accentuate the dimpling 2 more times during this rise. The loaves will remain relatively flat.

Place a baking stone on the lower rack of an oven and preheat to 425°F.

Sprinkle the tops of the loaves with flour and place the baking sheet on the stone. Bake until the loaves are deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 2 large loaves.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Bread, by Beth Hensperger (Simon & Schuster, 2002 ).

Fresh Berry Buckle

I discovered this recipe on the Pioneer Woman's blog, and it looked so amazing. She calls it Blackberry Cobbler, but after reading through all of the comments on her post, it seems the appropriate term for this concoction is "buckle." Hmmm. Anyway, no matter what you call it, it is awesome. You can pretty much use any fruit you like with it - peaches, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries....mmmm. I used a combination of blackberries and raspberries. Just add a dollop of whipped cream on the side...I imagine ice cream would be even better. I will have to make sure to pick some up the next time I make this yummy dessert.

Fresh Berry Buckle

1 1/4 cups sugar (I used 1 cup Splenda to bake with, and used real sugar to sprinkle over the berries.)
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 - 3 cups berries (can be fresh or frozen; I used fresh blackberries and raspberries.)
Cooking spray

Place 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) in a microwaveable dish. Melt the butter. In a mixing bowl, whisk together 1 cup sugar (Splenda) and 1 cup self-rising flour. Whisk in 1 cup milk, mixing together well. Take melted butter and pour into bowl; whisk together. Coat baking dish with cooking spray; I used a 9" round dish. Pour batter into greased dish. Sprinkle the 2 - 3 cups of berries over the top of the batter, trying to distribute them evenly.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar evenly over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until golden and bubbly.

All photos courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography


Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe comes from my mom, and it is always a hit in my household. Sometimes I will just make the Jalapeno Chicken in my crockpot, and we will eat it in tacos instead - a little lighter, and also equally delicious!

Chicken Enchiladas

Jalapeno Chicken (recipe below)
Enchilada Sauce (recipe below)
1 package Mexican cheese (I use a three-cheese blend)
6 - 8 flour tortillas

Jalapeno Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 small can chopped jalapeno chiles
1 can chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon cilantro
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin

Put all ingredients with chicken breasts in crockpot; cook for 4-5 hours. Shred chicken once cooked; set aside.

Enchilada Sauce
1 small can tomato paste
water (as needed)
1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cilantro

1 teaspoon ground red pepper, or to taste (I usually end up using about 1 1/2 teaspoons)

In a medium saucepan, heat tomato paste over medium. Add water, as needed, to thin paste to consistency you like. Stir in garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and cilantro. Gradually season with red pepper, until you reach desired level of spiciness. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325°. Spoon ¼ cup sauce in bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Set aside. Make enchiladas - fill each tortilla with a heaping ¼ cup shredded chicken and about 2 tablespoons cheese; tightly roll up. Arrange enchiladas, seam side down, in baking dish. Top with remaining sauce; sprinkle with cheese. Cover with aluminum foil; bake until hot and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

(They may not be the prettiest enchiladas, but believe me, they taste fantastic! And luckily my husband takes amazing pictures of my food for me. Thanks sweetie!)

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography


Peanut Butter Dog Bones

I have been in the kitchen a lot lately, and have been baking so many different treats for my husband and myself. I thought it was only fair to make some dog treats for our pup, Taos. This recipe was super easy, with only four ingredients, and Taos gobbled two of them up as soon as they had cooled. A nice treat for your pet!

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

Peanut Butter Dog Bones
From All Recipes

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted natural peanut butter
1 cup skim milk
Butter (I just used cooking spray)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray. Stir together the flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the peanut butter and milk. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness, and cut into shapes using cookie cutters. Place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Yields about 18 cookies.

Butterscotch-Chocolate Chip Bars

I have seen many recipes lately that I want to try, and these were on my list for today. I was craving chocolate, though, so I used only half as many butterscotch chips and added in some chocolate chips. With the Splenda I used in place of the sugar, these are just barely over 100 calories each - just enough to satisfy that craving for sweets (and chocolate, of course.) I think next time I would add the butterscotch & chocolate chips into the mix, rather than sprinkling them on top - it got a little messy while I was cutting them to serve.

Butterscotch Bars
Cooking Light

1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used Splenda)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or stick margarine, softened
2 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
1/2 cup butterscotch morsels (I used 1/4 cup butterscotch chips & 1/4 cup chocolate chips instead)

Preheat oven to 350.

Beat sugars and butter at medium speed with mixer until well-blended (about 4 minutes). Add egg whites and vanilla; beat well. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until blended.

Spread batter evenly into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with morsels. Bake at 350 for 28 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Yields 16 servings.


French-Style Country Bread

After last weekend's success with the honey wheat bread, as well as the Easter sweet bread, I decided to find a recipe for some really delicious French bread. I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour website, and it was everything I was looking for. Crusty on the outside, light and airy on the inside. I was a little worried about how it would turn out, but it came out amazing. I will definitely be making this one again...and soon!

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

French-Style Country Bread
King Arthur Flour

This bread uses the sponge, or poolish, method: sort of a poor man's or woman's sourdough starter -- no feedings, little pre-planning, lots of flexibility and superb bread. I usually make this dough, sponge starter and all, in the bread machine, but you can do it by hand, processor, or stand mixer. After barbecue season, bake this bread in the conventional oven but atomize it with water to get that crisp crust. If you've always wanted crusty, hole-ridden, French-style bread, this is the ticket.

Sponge Starter (Begin 2 to 16 hours ahead)
1 cup (8 ounces) cool to lukewarm water, preferably spring water (90 to 100°F)
1/2 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast
1 1/4 cups (6 3/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1/4 cup (1 ounce) King Arthur White Whole Wheat or Traditional Whole Wheat Flour


All of the sponge starter (above)
1 cup (8 ounces) lukewarm water, preferably spring water (l00 to 115°F)
3/4 teaspoon active dry or 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
3 3/4 to 4 cups (1 pound to 1 pound 1 ounce) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

To Make The Sponge: Stir all of the sponge ingredients together to make a thick, pudding-like mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on a counter overnight or for at least 2 to 4 hours. If you're making this in a bread machine, place the sponge ingredients inside, and turn the machine on for just a few seconds to mix the ingredients together. Turn the machine off and close the cover. Let the sponge rest for 4 hours or overnight (anywhere between 2 and 16 hours is fine, the longer the better).

To Make The Dough: Stir down the sponge with a spoon and add the water, yeast, sugar, most of the flour (hold back about 1/2 cup to use if required), and salt. Knead the dough, adding more flour as necessary, to make a soft dough, 10 to 12 minutes.

Note: You may also do this in your bread machine, using the Dough or Manual setting. After the dough has finished kneading, place it in a lightly greased bowl, and continue as directed below.

Big Tip: Mix ingredients together using up to 80% of the flour called for: it will be a loose, messy mass. Let the dough rest for 12 minutes, and you'll see it change in texture, to be come much smoother. Continue, kneading and adding additional flour as required. Overall, the dough handles better once its had time for the flour to absorb the water while resting and relaxing. By using this method, you'll tend to add less flour, and have much bigger holes in your finished bread.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or plastic container, cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and a damp towel, and let it rise until almost doubled (depending on the weather, this could be l to 2 hours). If you're going out, or if you prefer, let the dough rise slowly in the fridge. If your dough has been refrigerated, allow it to come to room temperature; it'll warm up and rise at the same time. After its first rise, deflate the dough gently, b
ut don't knock out all the air; this will create those "holes" so important to French bread. Form the dough into a round ball. Place two cookie sheets atop one another, and place a semolina- or cornmeal-dusted piece of parchment paper on top. Gently place the ball of dough on the cookie sheets, seam-side down. Cover it lightly with a tea towel, and let it rise the second time until it's puffy and about 40% to 50% larger, anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes (depending on the weather, luck, and magic). Slash or cross-hatch the bread with a sharp knife or lame. Dust it with a little flour.

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Slash the bread, spritz water into the oven with a clean plant mister, and place the bread in the oven. Reduce the heat to 425°F and spritz with water every few minutes for the first 15 minutes of baking. Bake the bread for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until it tests done.

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

Yield: 1 large round bread or two medium breads, 10 to 12 servings.