Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Homemade breads especially items such as bagels, doughnuts, dinner rolls and English muffins intimidate so many to try to make them from scratch.  They shouldn’t, they are actually fairly easy to make.  I am a strong advocate of making your own bread products. While its true that economically they are far cheaper made at home from scratch, the real reason for myself is being able to control the ingredients.  I no longer need worry about artificial ingredients such as colorants or flavors, high fructose corn syrup or excess salt, fat or sugars which pack on weight and offer little else.

This morning I made up a large batch of English Muffins.  Some will be served with jam for breakfast, others will go into making homemade Egg “McMom” Muffins. Grilled cheese sandwiches or ham and cheese are another popular freezer food for quick lunches as well as quick individual pizza’s.  They store well, lasting up to five days on shelf, up to two weeks in refrigerator and several months in freezer.  From freezer you can just take them out and use them as needed.

Once you see how easy making your own English Muffins are, and try your hand at it the first time. You will never go back to store bought,  there is just no equal.

The first English Muffins began at “Staff” food in Victorian England.  There the family baker would use the left over scraps of bread and biscuit dough placed on hot griddle to create light, crusty muffins.  They soon caught on and English Muffin Factories began appearing in England and from this the term “Muffin Man” was formed.

There are many recipes for English Muffins and I will do best to post them as I make them.  Today and most times I stick to the old fashion, simple Muffin as it has so much flexibility in uses.

English Muffins – (20 muffins)

1 cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

2 tbsp butter, melted

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp sea salt (salt)

3 cups flour

2 tsp instant yeast

Warm the milk to luke warm and beat your eggs.  Combine the eggs, butter and milk and whisk together.  Place your dry ingredients in mixer with a dough hook attachment and mix well on low speed until well combined.  Slowly pour your wet ingredients into dry ingredients and continue mixing.  You might find you need to add small amounts of flour to reach a clean consistency of pulling away from edges of bowl.  Continue kneading on low until dough is smooth and elastic. Once you have reached this stage remove the dough hook and cover bowl with damp towel.  Let rest and proof until doubled in size.  Dump dough onto floured surface and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness, cut into 3 inch rounds and place rounds on cornmeal sprinkled cookie sheet.  Brush the tops of the muffins with water and sprinkle tops with corn meal as well.  Cover and let raise for 30 minutes.  Preheat your un-greased griddle, grill, or cast iron cook pan to 350 F (175 C).  Cook each side of muffin 6-7 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Set to side to let cool, or serve with your favorite butter or jam.

Now see isn’t that easy? Go makes some for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.


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Yesterday I was busy making petite fours and had some left over white and dark chocolate melted.  As another item I was making was peanut butter/dark chocolate brownies I decided to use the chocolate to cover the brownies making a mock form of petite fours.  They are not the most elaborate as I used the hand dip method rather then the pour glaze method on them, but they sure taste good.

Peanut Butter/Dark Chocolate Brownies

1 cup butter, melted

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups Hershey’s dark cocoa

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cup flour

1 package chocolate pudding mix

1/4 cup peanut butter (I used creamy)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13 pan.  To melted butter, add sugar and combine.  Transfer into bowl and add cocoa, salt, baking powder and vanilla.  Add the eggs, beating until smooth and then add the flour and pudding mix, stirring once more until combined.

Spoon batter into the prepared pan and smooth down.  Taking the peanut butter, add table spoons across the top of brownie batter in a haphazard pattern.  Using a knife, cut the peanut butter into the chocolate batter until it has a marble like effect with no thick peanut butter lines.

Bake the butter for 28 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Cut the edges of the brownies off, then cut into small squares and set on a cooling rack with some distance between each piece.


1 bag dark chocolate chips

1 bag white chocolate chips

1 tsp oil

Empty dark chocolate chips into microwave safe glass dish, add 1/2 tsp oil and melt for 1 minute.  Remove and stir until all dissolved…if you need return to microwave at 20 second intervals until all melted.

Repeat above with white chocolate chips.

Take your brownie pieces and dip them into the chocolate using a fork, or pour the chocolate over top of the brownies on the cooling rack.  Place in refrigerator to speed the setting of the chocolate process.

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With the gloom of winter behind us bright, soothing, refreshing desserts are always welcome.  This past week my mother was down for a visit from Michigan, she wasn’t feeling well due to a cold and a case of pink eye so I wished to have a simple yet tasty treat for her to enjoy.  The filling in these little tarts is lemon curd. If you have never made or used lemon curd before you are so missing out.  It is perhaps the most versatile dessert ingredient there is.  Anything from lemon pie to lemon bars, mini tarts to even parfaits.  Course, if you are like me, you can also sit down and just eat it by the bowl full.

To make your own lemon curd you will need:

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp grated lemon zest

3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

1/2 cup unsalted butter

Using a saucepan, combine your lemon juice, zest, sugar, eggs and butter.  Cook the curd over LOW heat, stirring frequently to keep from burning.  You want this process to be SLOW to heating and thickening.  It should take 10-15 minutes to thicken and may take upwards of 20 minutes.  When the curd is thick enough to hold marks from the whisk, and bubbles that form on surface, it is ready to be removed from heat and let to cool and set for several minutes.

**If your eggs scramble, you are cooking at to high a heat and not whisking frequently enough.**

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I should be in bed, it’s late and I am definitely more then a little tired, but situation of a strange house and a sick visitor is not allowing for it.  So I figure I will do a couple posts to the blog and hopefully by time I finish things will have settled down again to let me sleep.

This is actually a “oops” recipe which turned out wonderful and which I will certainly be making many times again in future.  I had planned to add chopped walnuts, and at time was getting my daughter a bowl of raisins while trying to whip this quick bread together and deal with a bit more then chaotic house.  Thinking I had grabbed the walnuts, I instead dumped the raisins in the cake and gave her the nuts for a snack. Not that she minded, she was thrilled and certainly not going to spoil the treat by telling me of my error. Not that in end it made difference, everyone was happy with results. I’m not certain if I should classify this as a bread, or a cake honestly.  It holds elements of both, and can be served both ways.  In this picture I accompanied it with vanilla pudding as it was dessert for our dinner, but earlier that morning we had it with butter which worked out just fine as well.

Banana-Golden Raisin Spice Bread/Cake

2 cups MYO Bisquick  (recipe follows)

4 banana’s overripe and mashed

1 cup wheat flour

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup golden raisins

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4  cup milk or buttermilk

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Combine ingredients, I know many recipes say this first or that first with this I won’t, because often I end up inserting whatever I get my hands on next with quick breads.  The only definite to hit the bowl first, is the banana’s as I mash them before anything else in bottom.  Once you have everything combined, pour into a greased bread loaf pan, square cake pan (I used the cake pan for this), or individual muffin tins.  Preheat your oven to 425 and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden at edges and toothpick test comes out clean.

I sprinkled the top with a mixture of  sugar/cinnamon 5 minutes prior to pulling from oven.

MYO Bisquick Mix

4 cups flour

3 tbsp baking powder

2 1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

1 cup shortening  (or vegetable/canola/olive oil)

In large bowl or food processor combine, cutting in shorting until texture resembles fine crumbs.  Store in airtight container or baggy.

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For a mother’s Day gathering tomorrow I was asked to make some spring theme dishes.  With strawberries in season it seemed the perfect main ingredient to base the theme from.  These little tea cookies make for a wonderful end to a meal.  Even better, if you freeze some fresh strawberries in spring, you can defrost, puree and enjoy a taste of spring during the cold, dark winter months.

Fresh Strawberry-Pecan Cookies (4 dozen)

Cream together:

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup shortening

Fold in :

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 eggs, beaten

1 pint strawberries, pureed

Stir in:

3 cups flour

3/4 cups fine chopped pecans

Mix well and drop by rounded teaspoons onto prepared baking sheets.  Bake 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until bottoms golden brown.


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I felt like a twist this morning from traditional. Something fresh, sweet that offered a refreshed feeling while retaining that element only comfort foods can offer.  I have a standard cinnamon roll dough recipe I rely on almost like oxygen.  I will however, alter the fillings to create a variety of treats.  Here is the basic recipe and the additions I added.

Lemon-Cinnamon Rolls

1 pkg yeast

3/4 cup warm water

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg, room temperature

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup butter, melted


1 tbsp cinnamon

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp lemon zest

Dissolve yeast in water and let stand 10 minutes.

Combine yeast, sugar, egg, salt and 1 cup flour in mixing bowl and mix well.  Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at time until dough pulls from sides of mixing bowl.  Turn dough out on floured surface and kneed until smooth and elastic, or roughly 8 minutes.  Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Grease a 8×8 square pan and roll out dough to a 1/4 inch thickness, smear well with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon, brown sugar and lemon zest.  Roll dough into a log shape and slice into 16 equal pieces.  Place in pan cut side up and let rise until doubled.

Bake 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.


1 cup confectioners sugar  (Powdered sugar)

1 tbsp lemon juice

Enough water to make a thin paste.

Drizzle glaze over cooled rolls.

**If you want to be extra fancy, take a cup of decorators sugar and put in Ziploc baggy, add 2 tbsp lemon zest and shake up well.  This infuses the sugar with lemon flavoring and can be sprinkled on top of the rolls for additional bling.**

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Today became another “Waste Not Want Not!” occasion as several of my banana’s took a dive past their prime. I had intended to make banana bread, but then my daughter insisted upon muffins. Who am I to argue with a good muffin to start the day? Something I can sneak healthy foods and grains into and the kids now no better?  Sure! Muffins I agreed, then pulled up a chair so she could help me and we could have a bit of bonding time along with lesson time among the ingredients.

“Taste of the Tropics” Wheat Muffins

3-4 large bananas

1 egg

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/3 cup butter (melted)

1 cup wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup coconut

1/4 cup each to any of these (Dried and diced  mango, papaya, pineapple, cranberries, golden raisins) *highlighted what I personally used in these*

Mix dry ingredients together, add eggs, honey, butter, vanilla and mix well.  Put into greased muffin tins or paper muffin cups and bake 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Serve warm with butter or honey.

By the way, these muffins freeze exceptionally well.  I often double or triple batches and freeze.

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We all seen them in the store, and odds are we all have at some time purchased them also, especially if we have children.  French Toast sticks are so easy to make and freeze it is outlandish the prices they ask for a box of them.  To make them at home is super easy, all you need is to make french toast and cut it into sticks, flash freeze, then bag up.  When ready to use them, take a few out, put them in oven, toaster oven, microwave or even toaster and you have yourself a breakfast or snack.  I truly hope that rather then spend money on additives, preservatives and useless filler sugars and starches, you will stock your freezer with some healthy and homemade foods for you and yours.

Freezer French Toast Sticks.

8 slices bread (Texas, French, White, Wheat)

1/4 cup melted butter

4 eggs

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2/3 cup milk

3/4 tsp vanilla

Heat skillet on stove top, prepare with PAM cooking spray or a small pat of butter.

In bowl mix together butter, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla and milk.  Beat well to combine.

Dip bread slices into milk/egg mixture (do NOT do more then 2 at time or the rest will get soggy).

Lay slices two at time in skillet and fry golden on one side, then flip and do same on other. Set on cookie sheet side by side.

Do remaining slices in same fashion.

Let cool roughly five minutes before cutting.  Cut each piece into 3 pieces to create 3 sticks.

Place cookie sheet in freezer to flash freeze, then bag or put in Glad style container.  Pull out as many pieces as you need and simply reheat to serve.   Serve with honey, syrup or fruit syrup of choice.

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This week is time to replenish the freezer breakfast meals. Earlier this week I made a double batch of bread just for this occasion as French Toast Sticks and French Toast Bars were first on the order.   These are so simple to make and so easy to reheat in microwave.  They freeze nicely but also are delicious fresh from oven.  I’ve taken them to brunches, used them for desert dishes as well as for quick breakfasts around there.  They are not overly sweet, the sweetness is given from the bites of fruit more then from sugars and additives. You can choose to serve them as are, using powdered sugar, maple syrup or a fruit sauce poured over top.  These particular ones are blueberry and cream cheese, but you might also choose peaches, apricots, pears, cherries, strawberries, cranberries, insertion of coconut or nuts.  Again options truly are endless so long as you know the basic construction.

Fruited French Toast Bars

9×9 cake pan

2 cups bread, cubed  (You can remove crust if you want, I don’t.)

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups milk

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

4 tbsp maple syrup

3 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 bar cream cheese, softened and cubed

1 cup fruit of choice

1/2 cup additions (nuts, coconut)

Prepare your pan, you can choose to butter it (what I do) or use Pam style cooking spray.

Put your bread cubes in a bowl, add the cream cheese cubes and stir to combine.  In a second bowl add your eggs, beat well.  Then milk, maple syrup and spices.  Stir well and pour over the bread cubes.  Let bread sit in the liquid for 15 -30 minutes to absorb.

Pour the entire contents into your prepared pan.  Sprinkle/or lay pieces of your fruit of choice on top, same with your additions.  Bake  uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes or until it no longer wiggles in center.

Remove and let sit for 10 minutes to set before cutting and serving.

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This weekend was hectic, and that is putting it mildly.  I did get some time to make up a couple pans of Eggplant Lasagna, one for fresh eating and two for freezing for later meals.  I really wanted a good bread to be an appetizer dipped in olive oil to accompany the  lasagna and salad dinner. Ciabatta is one of those breads that just has a perfect love relationship with olive oil.  It is also not difficult to make.  I am not certain where I originally got this recipe, but it has never failed me.

Ciabatta Bread

Make Sponge

1/8 tsp active dry yeast

2 tbsp warm water

1/3 cup room-temperature water

1 cup bread flour

Make the sponge: Stir together warm water and yeast, let stand five minutes until creamy. Transfer to bowl and add room temperature water and flour.  Stir for 4 minutes before covering with plastic wrap and letting sit at room temperature at least 12 hours to as much as twenty-four hours.

Make Bread

1/2 tsp active dry yeast

2 tbsp warm milk

2/3 cup room-temperature water

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cups bread flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

Stir together the yeast and milk in small bowl and let stand for five minutes until creamy.  In bowl of electric mixer, blend milk mixture, sponge, water, oil and flour until flour is moist.  Beat an additional 3 minutes, then add salt and beat 4 more minutes.  Scrape the dough from bowl into oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit until doubled in size.  (This dough will be very sticky and full of bubbles).  Cut two pieces of parchment paper and place on baking sheet, flour top of parchment pieces well.  Fold dough onto well floured surface and divide in half.  Transfer each half onto piece of parchment paper and form into oval or square shapes roughly 9 inches long.  Dip fingers in flour and dimple loaves, then dust tops lightly with flour.   Let rise again until almost doubled.

Bake loaves separate at 425 F for 20 minutes or until pale to golden brown.

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