Tuesday, November 29, 2011

No knead English Muffin Bread

I keep seeing recipes for English Muffin bread and decided it was about time I made some.  This was a simple bread, and a huge success!  Egg's Benedict Sandwiches anyone?  French Toast?  A yummy sanwhich perhaps?  Darn...I said that word..."perhaps"...everytime I hear it or say it I immeditely start singing Doris Day's song "Perhaps, Perhaps" in my head.

Have you heard it?  You should.  You should also go watch "That touch of Mink" starring Doris Day and my personal favorite, Cary Grant.  I just read an article that said Doris Day, 88 years old, is going to release an album on December 2nd.  Curious to hear how her voice sounds after all these years.

We grew up watching all the classic old movies.  Back then I was mad we couldn't go see all the new release movies that other kids our age were watching, but now I am grateful that we watched all the oldies instead.  I keep telling myself I need to start watching the old ones again, but they just aren't as accesible as they used to be.  I think we should start a new tradition that on the eve of every holiday we watch a classic from our childhood.  Sounds like a plan.

Did you grow up watching old movies?  Come on, I know you did...especially if your name starts with an "M" and ends with a "W" or an "F...previously an H"...you know who you are : )  What was your favorite movie from the good old days?  Who was your favorite actor/actress?

I would have to say my favorites are Tammy, Eldorado, Gone with the Wind, Operation Petticoat, To Catch a Thief, and basically all Hitchcock movies are awesome.  Favorite Actor...Cary Grant...Favorite Actress...Doris Day/Greer Garson

English Muffin Bread
(Please note I partially included the metric amounts for this recipe)

1 TBSP yeast
1 TBSP granulated sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1 pound 8oz unbleached all purpose flour (5 1/3 cups)
1 pt. (2 cups) milk
4fl oz (1/2 cup) water

Grease 2 loaf pans and set aside.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Stir together the yeast, sugar, baking soda, salt, and 12oz of the flour (which is 1/2 of the flour).  In separate bowl stir together the milk and water and heat to 120 degrees.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry mixing until combined,  Then slowly add the rest of the flour while mixing.  The batter will be stiff.  Divide the dough in half and portion out into the pans.  Stretch dough out to fit pan.  Sprinkle with cornmeal.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area until doubled in size...this depends upon how warm the weather is...the colder it is the longer it will take to rise.  Bake until golden brown about 25 minutes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Is it possible to be over swamped?  Do you have to be an alligator to qualify for that?  If it is, then I am that...swamped that is, not an alligator.  I have been back to a full time job for about a month now.  In that short period of time I have had my work load at work increase ten fold, buried a grandpa, filled many cookie/pie orders, and somehow by the grace of God been able to exercise most nights.  Needless to say by the time I reach my bed at 9:30pm I pretty much fall asleep instantly...goodbye my usual midnight bedtime!

I must admit though, I do love a full schedule.  Having most of my minutes filled up for the day when I wake up keeps me going and motivates me to do more, and accomplish more.  Does anyone else have that problem?  The less free time you have the more you do?

I also have to admit that having a regular paycheck again is so awesome...really awesome...I missed it. : )

Now that I am busy I know that it is about to get a heck of a lot busier.  Here come the Thanksgiving pie orders...the boxes are ordered, apple peeler/corer/slicer ready to go, pie pans acquired.  Last year I cranked out 65 pies in 2 days, and my grandma passed away somewhere in between that chaos and madness.  This year I have high hopes of being more organized and efficient...of course I know the best laid plans always go astray in my case.  Thus when Friday at 5pm rolled around the making of the pie crust weekend commenced.  BRING IT ON.

Thank goodness little brother is coming home from boarding school for the week...little does he know that he has the job of assistant pastry chef this year...this is why it is good to have lots and lots of siblings...cheap labor baby. : )  Good thing I can pay him with biscotti and coffee cake installments over the next few months.

These whoopie pies are exceptionally good.  The whole wheat flour adds a nice substantial texture to the cookie, while the maple syrup adds a nice richness and depth of flavor.  The filling is also not as sweet as most traditional cream cheese fillings, and really counteracts well against the sweet cookie background.  Do I sound like a food critic here...kinda think I do : )

"I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean."
- G.K. Chesterton

Pumpkin Maple Whoopie Pies

(Adapted from adventures in cooking blog)

In mixer cream the following until smooth:

1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cup cups granulated sugar

Add the following and mix until smooth:

1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
1/2 Cup Oil
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
2 Eggs

Whisk together the following in a separate bowl and stir into wet ingredients:
2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 Cup White Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Cloves
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
1/2 Teaspoon Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Stir just until combined.  Scoop out by the tablespoon onto parchment lined pan 3 inches apart...they will spread when cooked, I use a small ice cream scoop to get more evenly sized cookies.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes until they spring back to the touch...I call this the scared cookie effect.

Cool completely.  Make the filling.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling:

2 sticks soft unsalted butter
1 pound soft cream cheese
1 pound powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  If you over mix cream cheese it will get runny, so mix just until clumps are gone.  Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Mix until smooth and combined.

Fill a piping bag with filling and pipe a nice dollop onto half of the pumpkin cookie's flat sides.  Sandwich with other half.  If you don't have a piping bag you can just spoon the filling onto the cookies.  Store in fridge until ready to eat.  They can be assembled ahead of time...they held up well in the fridge and didn't get soggy. 

Eat your heart out,


Friday, November 11, 2011

Grain and Nut Pancakes for my Papa

In order to make the perfect pancake you need one simple ingredient.  Love.  I only have fond memories of making and eating pancakes with family, friends, and strangers.  How can you not be happy when you take the time to slow down and appreciate the day with people you love?  No where to be, just relaxing making a carb and sugar overloaded breakfast together.  What more could you ask for?

Nothing I tell you, nothing.

My hands down all time favorite person to make and eat pancakes with was my grandpa, my Papa.  This past weekend we sat with him, prayed with him, and cried with him as he took his last breathes in this world.  As you witness the last breathes of a person, you become very grateful for all the breathes they did have.  We are grateful. 

Papa lived a long and happy life filled with love.  He lived his life the way God intended him to...loving God above all, then his family, then his friends, and then strangers.  He was an even tempered man who remained calm and collected amidst the chaos that surrounded him.  He was a happy person who never complained, never whined, and used his words for good.  He loved food, history, telling stories, reading, working on and finishing crossword puzzles.  He was the father of 8 children, grandfather to 24 grandchildren, and great grandfather of 17 great grand children.

As long as I can remember every time we visited him we would wake up early together on Saturday mornings and start making pancakes for everyone else before they woke up.  He had a method, a system, and a beautiful rhythm to his breakfast routine. 

Put the coffee on to brew, a heaping tablespoon for each cup, plus an extra one for the pot...the darker the better.  Cook the bacon, only center cut bacon will do...don't burn it and don't under cook it...go crispy or go home.  Make the pancake batter...most important rule...do not over stir.  He was very adamant about this point, and would often remove the whisk from my hands as I compulsively wanted to keep whisking until all lumps were removed.  "Lumps are okay", he would always say.  The griddle must be hot.  Grease it with butter or oil, use a paper towel to spread it around the pan.  Ladle the batter into the pan, not too big, not too small.  Wait.  Wait for the bubbles to appear, only then can you flip the pancakes over.  Heat up the REAL maple syrup.  Heat up some blueberries in a little bit of water.  Serve others first, then make them do the dishes.  Eat slowly, savor each bite, finish your black coffee.

I already miss making and eating breakfast with him.

There are so many things I learned from him, and so many things I loved about him.  It feels like only yesterday I was that 7 year old curly blond headed, blue eyed little girl peering over the counter at him as he lectured on the art of breakfast.  I still remember the funny taste of "that syrup Papa always had at  his house" in my mouth, how curious it was...why wasn't it in a log cabin or Aunt Jemima shaped bottle?  Thank you for teaching me to love maple syrup.

Thank you for loving me.  I am forever changed because of your love.

Rest in peace Papa, you are finally home.

Grain and Nut Pancakes

Every time we went to IHOP my Papa would order the Harvest Grain and nut pancakes...these pancakes are a replica of those pancakes.  I usually make the whole recipe and then store leftovers in the fridge for 4-6 days.  The batter will thicken up after being chilled so just add a little more milk to thin it out again.

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

4 tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans 
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1/3 cup sugar (or you can use coconut sugar, raw sugar, or honey)


1.Grind the oats in a blender or food processor until fine. Add nuts and pulse a few seconds until they are small pieces.  In a large bowl, combine ground oats, nuts, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

2.In another bowl, combine buttermilk, milk, oil, egg, and sugar with a whisk until smooth. Mix wet ingredients into dry with a few swift strokes. DO NOT over mix : )

3.Lightly oil a skillet or griddle, and preheat it to medium heat. Ladle 1/3 cup of the batter onto the hot skillet; cook the pancakes for 2 to 4 minutes per side, or until brown.

Stop running around in circles.  Relax.  Make these pancakes with people you love.

Eat your heart out,


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I done got myself published!

Dear Readers,

I done got myself published!!!  I am so excited and honored to have a one page article/recipe in the Holiday 2011 issue of Radiant magazine.  Check it out!  Radiant Magazine is a great publication that features Catholic news and articles that affect young women today. Also, a shout out to my sister Kirsten for taking the picture used in the article!

Also featured in this issue is young singer Jamie Grace.  She sings a great song called "Love the way you hold me"...my niece and I turn it up every time we hear it. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Eat your heart out,