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Parmesan Pretzel Bites

13 Aug

Even before I received my samples from Saucy Mama, I knew exactly what I wanted to make– pretzels to dip in some wonderful mustard. I am a big fan of mustard, especially some smokey garlic mustard. After one bite, I couldn’t stop craving a hot dog because after all, hot dogs and mustard are meant to be together. I’m kind of still craving a hot dog…..interesting….

Anyways, previous to this post, I did a pretzel stick recipe to go along with some soup. These are very similar to those except quite possibly the lazier version. I’m always opting for the easy way out. So, I defrosted a few dinner rolls for 2 hours or so, cut them in half, dipped them in a baking soda and water solution and then sprinkled on some salt, pepper, parsley and parmesan cheese. How ridiculously simple is that? I realize that they didn’t get as dark as my last pretzel recipe or even pretzels you’d buy at the ball game, but that’s because most of the dough is covered by cheese so they aren’t going to get as dark. Feel free to make these without anything but salt to get the dark color. Both are delicious with mustard, especially gourmet smokey garlic mustard! Yum.

**Don’t forget to enter the Saucy Mama giveaway! See previous post for details! You have until tonight at midnight (pacific) to enter and tell your friends! Winner will be selected and announced Saturday morning!**

Parmesan Pretzel Bites
yield: 12 bites
6 frozen dinner rolls
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup hot tap water
1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
parsley flakes 
parmesan cheese
Defrost rolls for about 2 hours until dough is completely thawed. Cut dough balls into two even pieces. Form into small pillow shapes, if desired. (I was too lazy to do that!) Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Dip dough pieces into baking soda solution and place on greased baking sheet. Brush dough with melted butter and more baking soda solution. Sprinkle salt, pepper, parsley flakes and parmesan cheese over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Serve with mustard.

Blueberries galore! Two for one!

30 Jul

First things first: I updated my pages with different photos and newer information and even added an extra one, so go check it out! Also, my formatting is all screwed up for this post and I don’t know how to fix it! Anyone know how to fix it?

A few days ago, my mother-in-law purchased a rather large pack of fresh blueberries and didn’t know what to do with them. She asked me if I’d like some and I happily took them off her hands! What did I make with them? Of course a bazillion batches of my favorite blueberry muffins and then two blueberry lemon streusel cakes. And I still have some blueberries left! Into the freezer for them.

The muffin recipe is adapted from Ina Garten’s Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins. When I first tried this recipe, I fell in love because never before have I tasted such delicate and moist muffins. Like, they were unbelievably moist and tender. Then after a while, I started adding in lemon zest and juice to the batter and then sprinkled on a sugary topping before baking. Lo and behold the delicious blueberry muffins got better. So, that’s how I make them now and they are a favorite at my house. As a matter of fact, the first batch I made for some of my nieces and nephews was gone within 24 hours. Thats over 24 muffins devoured by four kids and two adults. They have been converted and asked for the recipe.

The Blueberry Lemon Streusel Cakes is another adaption, this time from the Pioneer Woman. Just a few days ago she posted a recipe for Blueberry Crumb Cake and I thought “It’s a sign! Something else to make to get rid of all these blueberries!” This recipe is delicious just on it’s own, but I just had to make a few changes and add in the lemon. I don’t know why I have this uncontrollable urge to add lemon into blueberry recipes I just do! It’s really a match made in heaven, lemon and blueberries. Similar to peas and carrots. Or rice and beans. Or Lauren and Gordon! (Haha! Precious.)

Anyways, I added in the lemon as well as made a streusel topping instead of just a ‘crumb’ topping. AND, just to be fancy, I topped the cake with the blueberries instead of mixing them into the batter and then baked them in two round cake pans. Well, one cake pan and one pie plate to be exact. But, they turned out beautifully and most importantly delicious.
So, if you happen to run into some blueberries, snatch them up and make some of these yummy treats! They are sure to please!

Blueberry Lemon Coffee Cake Muffins

adapted slightly from Ina Garten’s Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffinsyield: 18 muffins (I got about 24)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 half-pints fresh blueberries, picked through for stems
for the topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 lemon, zested


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in muffin pans.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup 3/4 way full. Sprinkle the topping over the batter and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean.

Blueberry Lemon Streusel Cake
adapted from Ree Drummond’s Blueberry Crumb Cake
yield: 1-9×13 cake or 2-9 inch round cakes

5 tablespoons butter
¾ cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2-¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoons salt
¾ cups whole milk
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups fresh blueberries

for the topping:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup oats
zest of 1/2 lemon
dash cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (I used 325 because the original recipe didn’t have a temperature listed until recently. Both will work!) Combine flour, baking powder, and a salt. Stir and set aside.

Cream butter with cinnamon and sugar. Add egg and mix until combined. Add vanilla and mix. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until totally incorporated. Do not overbeat.

Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. (I used 2-9 inch rounds) Pour in batter and smooth the top. Sprinkle fresh blueberries over the top of the cake.

In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients. Sprinkle over the top of the cake.

Bake cake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. (Mine was done after 45 at 325 degrees in my oven). Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top, if desired. Cut into slices and serve.

Citrus Cream Cheese Pull-Apart Rolls

20 Jul
Today’s recipe comes to us from the wonderful Barbara from I emailed her a few weeks back about doing a recipe swap because I love trying new recipes and blogging about them! After she agreed to do it with me, the search was on. I browsed her site for at least two hours trying to find the perfect recipe! Well, jokes on me because they are all awesome! After narrowing it down and getting Barbara’s input, I decided to make her Citrus Cream Cheese Pull-Apart Rolls. 
These little devils are so tasty it’s ridiculous! After tasting these, I totally understood why these turned into a tradition over at Barbara’s house! These pull-aparts are just the right amount of chewy, sweet and tang. I love a good sweet bread, but you probably already knew that. I also love baking with citrus because it makes the whole kitchen smell clean and fresh! If you take a look at the ingredients list, it’s really just a lot of easy to find plain jane things. But then you put them all together and magic happens. And then you continue to eat the entire pan two or three more!

Here’s an interesting/out of place/random/get to know Lo fact: I prefer citrus and/or vanilla over anything chocolate (much to my husband’s dismay). I still really like chocolate, but just not as much as lemon or orange… these rolls!

(Image courtesy of Barbara Bakes. Don’t these look so much better than mine? Barbara is a pro!)

Anyways, the process of making these is really REALLY simple. Most of the work is done for you if you use the frozen dinner rolls! Honestly, the hard part is waiting, but you’ll probably see what I mean. A few things you shouldn’t do would be to over bake these puppies. I kind of did, but they still turned out great. Also, I got sleepy and let my rolls rise too much which sort of threw the texture off slightly. But, even with these slight mishaps, they turned out beautifully! I brought them to a family dinner Sunday evening, meant to be eaten for dessert. Well my family couldn’t resist, and they ended up becoming the appetizers and the pan was devoured in 4 minutes flat! (And they ALL loved them! All 9 of them!)

So, thanks again Barbara for allowing me to share one of your delicious recipes! Your rolls are delicious and I love your site! Go check out her recipes and her post today where she tested my favorite sandwich! You’ll be glad you did! Happy eating, friends!

Citrus Cream Cheese Pull Apart Rolls 
From: Cooking Light Magazine, December 1999 via Barbara Bakes
Yield: 4 dozen 

1 package frozen roll dough — (25-ounce)
(I usually use 18 Rhodes rolls) 
Cooking spray
1/4 cup butter or margarine — melted
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries — (such as Craisins)
OR 1/2 cup dried apricots — chopped
1 cup granulated sugar — divided
2/3 cup 1/3-less-fat cream cheese — (6 ounces) softened (I usually just use 8 ounces) 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 large egg
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 cup powdered sugar
5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Thaw roll dough at room temperature 30 minutes. (It usually takes much longer for them to be soft enough to cut.)
Cut rolls in half. Place 24 halves, cut sides down, in bottom of each of 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray. Brush butter evenly over rolls. Cover; let rise in a warm place (85º), free from drafts, 30 minutes. Sprinkle with dried cranberries. Combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar, cream cheese, orange juice, and egg; beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Pour cream cheese mixture evenly over rolls. Combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and rinds. Sprinkle evenly over rolls. Cover and let rise 1 hour or until doubled in size. (It usually takes much longer to double in size.) 
Preheat oven to 350º.Bake at 350º for 20 minutes. Cover with foil. Bake an additional 5 mintues or until rolls in center are done. Remove from oven; cool 15 minutes. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle over rolls.

OVERNIGHT VARIATION: After pouring the cream cheese mixture over rolls, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 12 hours. Gently remove plastic wrap from rolls; sprinkle with rind mixture. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. (It usually takes much longer to double in size.)Proceed with recipe as directed.

Per serving (two rolls): 174 Calories—->can you believe that? Amazing! 

Mom’s Potato Rolls

25 Jun
I love carbs. Especially warm out of the oven. If you’ve been following along with this blog, then you know that I am addicted to food, specifically any form of bread product. These rolls are no exception. I lovelovelovelove them. I like regular rolls fine, but there’s something about the potato addition to this recipe that makes me weak at the knees and immediately ravenously hungry. This last time I made these rolls was to have some extra bread lying around because the tortillas, 9-grain load and french baguette just weren’t enough. Also, these little rolls make the best snacking sandwiches! I love them. 
This recipe I have from my Mom is at least 25 years old and been made hundreds of times. I’ve made these more than enough times to switch a few things in the recipe around to makes them turn out the very best. Also, here are a few tips that are just as important, so read very closely! You’ll be glad you did.
1. Use glass baking dishes. You do not want hard dark brown bottoms like you would get with the non stick metal kind. And make sure you grease your glass bakeware with plenty of butter! It makes a small, yet noticeable difference.
2. When you think they’re done rising, wait another 30 minutes. If after an hour or so your rolls haven’t risen as much as you’d like, leave them alone until they have! Letting them sit and rise is another very important step to getting a soft, chewy and pillowy texture. The potato sometimes tends to weight the dough down, so give the rolls time. 
3. DO NOT over bake! This may take a little trial and error because everyone’s oven is different, but check them 5 minutes before you think you should. Better to be safe than sorry!
Another thing that I quickly wanted to mention too was that your leftover mashed potatoes can go right into this dough! I love using leftovers! Potatoes are inexpensive as is, but when you have some cold mashed potatoes that you don’t know what to do with and you’re sick of making hashbrowns, then these rolls turn into a wonderful alternative! Making your own bread is not only economical but also healthier for your family! In turn, it just takes a little extra time out of your day. In my opinion, these little bad boys worth it! So try them out and tell me what you think!
Mom’s Potato Rolls
yield: 24 rolls
1/2 cup warm water
2-0.25 oz. packets quick rise yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2/3 cup butter, melted (& cooled slightly)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed potatoes, warmed
2 eggs
4 1/2-5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
In large bowl, sprinkle yeast and sugar onto warm water. Let stand until yeast bubbles form, about 5 minutes. Stir in butter, sugar, warm milk and salt. Add in mashed potatoes, eggs and 3 cups flour. Stir until dough becomes thick and hard to mix. Knead dough adding in more flour as needed until dough is slightly sticky but won’t stick to your hands (for me, its between 4 1/2-5 cups). Grease large bowl with a little oil or melted butter, place dough into bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1-1 1/2 hours until doubled in size. Punch down dough and divide into 24 equal pieces. Roll into small balls and place into greased glass baking dishes. Cover rolls with plastic wrap and let rise another 1-1 1/2 hours until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake rolls 15 minutes (except, check them after 10!) Rolls are best served warm, but are still great at room temperature. Store in air tight containers.

Lemon Cranberry Scones

14 Jun

If you’ve been following this food blog then you know that my husband and I are fully addicted to carbs. I am not ashamed to admit this at all because everyone needs carbohydrates to live. Its the largest food group you are supposed to consume. Plus, if you are training for a marathon (which I am…..gasp!) you need even more carbs in your system for energy.
The difference between good carbs and bad ones usually comes down to sugar content, fat content, and fiber. For example- if you are eating whole wheat bread made with whole wheat flour, the fiber content is higher than the white bread made with bleached all purpose flour. Now, I’m not sure what made me go off on a little ‘carbs are great’ tangent…..hmm…..I guess I’m trying to say don’t feel guilty for eating carbs because your body needs them to function.
Speaking of carbs, here’s a great recipe that is delicious! These Lemon Cranberry Scones are a great light snack or would be a great addition to any breakfast. I ate probably 3 of these the day I made them and then gave the rest away because I couldn’t get enough. The glaze makes these more of a sweet treat, but I also have made these without the glaze and instead made a citrus honey butter. It’s still sweet, but not over the top sweet. It’s a great addition to these scones, especially right out of the oven. Or if you’re feeling risky, top them with glaze as well as the citrus honey butter. Yum. Anyways, that recipe is under the recipe tips at the bottom of this post. Let me know if you’re a glaze person or a honey butter person! I think I qualify as both!

Lemon Cranberry Scones
yield: 12

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons sugar
zest of 1 lemon, divided
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup cold milk
1/3 cup craisins

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2-1 tablespoon water
1/8 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat oven to 375. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with non stick cooking spray and set aside. In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and lemon zest. Stir in butter and break apart into small pieces the size of peas using a fork or pastry cutter. Stir in milk and craisins. Dough will be very sticky. Spread dough out onto well floured board and dust top with more flour to make it easy to work with. Roll dough out to be 1 inch in thickness. Cut out into squares or circles.  Place onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Remove from oven and place scones onto cooling rack. For the glaze, whisk all ingredients together until runny and smooth. Spoon over the tops of the warm scones and let the excess drip through the cooling rack. Store in air tight containers for up to 4 days.

Recipe TIPS:
-When I top any baked good with a glaze of some sort, I like to put waxed paper underneath my cooling rack to make for easy clean up.
-Sometimes instead of topping these with a glaze, I make a citrus honey butter–its DELICIOUS. To make it, you simply whip together 1/2 cup softened butter, 2 tablespoons honey, and 1/2 tablespoon orange zest.
-Instead of rolling the dough out, you can do the drop biscuit method. Its a time saver and is probably easier too.
-When and if you roll out the dough use lots of flour! You don’t want it sticking to your board!
-Don’t feel you are limited to lemon zest in this recipe. Try orange, lime or grapefruit to switch it up! Yum!

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

11 Jun
Originally, I was going to post a different recipe today but then I made this for dinner last night and changed my mind because it was too good not to share! Caesar Salad is my husband’s favorite salad and I figured as long as I kept the same flavors there, then the pasta salad version would be just as good, plus I wanted to make it more filling and more satisfying as a dinner. Well, everything came together perfectly and we both loved it. The flavor of everything in this complete meal was just awesome! The bacon really took it over the top for me and the extra squirts of lemon juice made the parsley and tomatoes pop as well as adding a little extra zing which I love. Final Results: I loved it and my husband loved it and we are glad there are plenty of leftovers in the fridge! (So excited for lunch!) 
This meal is pretty similar to a Chicken Caesar Salad, except it’s made with pasta and a lot less lettuce. I also added in tomatoes and parsley for extra nutrients and color. This pasta salad would be great without the chicken (if you want) and perfect for a potluck or BBQ. I took a few shortcuts by buying pre grated parmesan cheese and a roasted whole chicken because I was running out of time last night to get dinner on the table. You can roast or grill the chicken yourself to save yourself some money, but I have to say, I love those roasted chickens! They are so convenient! Also, you can also substitute all the pasta for a head of romaine lettuce and once everything is tossed, eat as is or get some tortillas and turn them into chicken caesar salad wraps! TO DIE FOR!  I made my own caesar dressing (recipe below), but you can use your favorite store bought one-just make sure to add in a little lemon juice because it makes a huge difference. AND, in the photo above, you can see that I toasted some french bread and spread it with garlic basil butter! Never done that before but oh my good gravy! So good. That recipe is below as well. Happy Weekend Friends!

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
yield: 6 servings
3/4 lb. pasta, cooked to al dente (I used farfalle)
2 tomatoes, chopped
8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
2 cups cubed chicken-roasted or grilled
1 1/2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup good quality caesar dressing + a few squirts lemon juice (or recipe below)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
lemon wedges for an extra zing
Toss all ingredients together in large bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with lemon wedges. 
Recipe TIPS:
-If you are going to make this meal in advance, toss everything together leaving the lettuce out until you are ready to serve. The lettuce will wilt if you toss it with dressing!
Caesar Salad Dressing
3/4 cup good quality mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 lemon juiced
Whisk all ingredients together and toss with pasta salad or caesar salad. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
Garlic Basil Butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
Mix all ingredients together and let sit 10-20 minutes before using. Spread on warm, freshly toasted french bread.

Cinnamon Buttermilk Biscuits

12 May

For the time being, I am internetless 😦 BUT, only until the end of the week! We are just about all unpacked into our beautiful cozy new apartment. We love it, especially the location. I am half a block to the park and only 3 blocks to downtown! I love just about everything–except our road is on a hill and coming home pushing a stroller kind of sucks. Besides that, its GREAT!

Now, about these biscuits: My husband and I are carboholics. We can down this entire recipe between the two of us. I was experimenting 10ish months ago with biscuit recipes and this is what came of it! I’ve been making these ever since that experimental day. I dropped some by to my neighbor at the time who had just had a little girl. She absolutely loved them and now makes them all the time for her friends and family. Moral of the story: these are delicious and comforting. I love ’em. Just like any biscuit recipe, you’ll want to use cold butter and cold buttermilk. Also, you can roll these out and cut them into circles or do the drop method. Either way, you’ll get around 12. Make these for someone you love and they are sure to love you back!
Cinnamon Buttermilk Biscuits
yield: 12
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup cold butter
1 cup buttermilk (plus 1 or 2 tablespoons)
Mix all dry ingredients together in large bowl. Cut in cold butter until its the size of small peas. Stir in buttermilk until batter is all moist. Cut into 12 biscuits or drop onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.