Tag Archives: baking

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

I love breakfast. It is my favorite meal, but during the week I fly through the house getting ready for work and can only manage to grab something quick. At the most I scramble a few eggs or an omelet. Just so you know it is a really crazy looking omelet that is actually just fancy scrambled eggs. For those of you that have kids, my hat is off to you. You are pretty friggin’ amazing in my eyes, because I can’t even imagine how frantic my mornings would be if we had kids.

Ahh but that wonderful feeling on the weekends, where I wake up slowly and I plod down the stairs to my quiet kitchen. Turning the knob on the stove, hearing the clicking of the igniter, seeing the crown of blue flames warming the water kettle; I know coffee will be coming soon.

This morning as I sipped my coffee, I decided I would like to bake some bread. Baking bread permeating the house is one of my favorite smells.  And the smell of cinnamon sugar swirled in the middle takes it to the next level. Yum!

IMG_0449

Dough
1/2 cup sourdough starter, fed or unfed
3 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
5 tablespoons soft butter
2/3 cup lukewarm water

Filling
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup raisins

Directions
To make the dough I combined all of the dough ingredients in my bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, smooth dough. Allow dough to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until it’s just about doubled in bulk.
While the dough is rising, make the filling by stirring together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.
Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.
Roll and pat the dough into a rough rectangle approximately 6″ x 20″.
Brush the dough with the egg/water mixture, and sprinkle it evenly with the filling and raisins.
Starting with a short end, roll the dough into a log. Pinch the ends to seal, and pinch the long seam closed.
Transfer the log, seam-side down, to a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Cover and allow the bread to rise until it’s crested about 1″ over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour.
While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake the bread for 40 to 45 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after the first 15 to 20 minutes. The bread’s crust will be golden brown, and the interior of the finished loaf should measure 190°F on a digital thermometer.
Remove the bread from the oven, and gently loosen the edges. Turn it out of the pan, and brush the top surface with butter, if desired; this will give it a soft, satiny crust. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.

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Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Holiday basket 2015
Holiday basket 2015

The holidays are almost here again and I can’t believe how fast this year has flown. I look back and can’t believe how incredibly busy and crazy it has been. No matter how crazy life gets, I take time out once a year to bake for my loved ones. This year I added this new cookie to the mix and it was a hit. Soft and airy, with a bit of sour and spice that melds together so well. Enjoy!

Cookies Continue reading Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Gratitude Apple Bread

One year ago today, I had just quit my job writing technical reports for a pharmaceutical company to go on a new adventure following my husband’s career.  As I found out the hard way, working with Big Pharma had left me stressed out and tired after having worked under three different company logos, three different company names, and three different company mantras in three years without ever leaving the same cubicle, due to acquisitions. Always worrying about my job security, I stayed later than most of my colleagues and came in earlier. I was part of the rat race. Me, the carefree art student, found myself in a black hole of negotiating quality agreements, understanding and enforcing government regulations through various systematic protocols and procedures to ensure compliance, and completing trend analysis of testing data and providing these reviews to not only my superiors, but any regulatory agency that showed up for surprise audits. I had a lot of responsibility on my shoulders and needless to say, this was not how I had pictured my life going.

Moving yet again, I had asked my husband if it would be okay for me to take a bit of time off before venturing out into the working world again. I needed to get back to calm, to an even-ness, before I made a decision of the new direction of my life. He obliged a six month reprieve to do exactly what I wanted, a sabbatical. So I finished projects on our house to prepare it for the sale, I had a huge yard sale, we drove across the  country, I decorated and organized our new apartment, took care of all the paperwork that accumulated from moving and selling our house, and then after about three months, everything just stopped. There were no immediate projects that I needed to work on or complete, nothing.  After 5 years of scrambling around, my chaotic life had come to a dead stop and I noticed something, a deafening silence. It was increasingly evident that I was in a place where I knew no one. A melancholy quietness had blanketed my life and I started to feel like I was starring in my own version of “Lost in Translation.”

I prepared my resume and started throwing my hook into the water, a few nibbles, but after months nothing came of it. I started to feel trapped in my life, desperate. As January 2012 neared, I started to make New Year’s resolutions. I was going to live my life with gratitude, I felt that I was being too negative and I had a lot to be happy for; I just wasn’t seeing the picture clearly. Everyday, I was going to write down one thing I was happy about. After about ten days, I noticed I was happiest when I was cooking and began to think about how I have used food to interface with people over the years. It is what I love, so I decided that I would share with the world my recipes, my stories, my love. My thinking was, if you blog about it, they will come, so “Creative Noshing” was born.

Today’s post though, isn’t about what I’ve given to you, it’s about what you all have given to me. Each and every day, you give me inspiration, validation, and a community to feel part of. I have laughed and smiled and cried at some of your posts and comments. Every person who has clicked my follow button, I am so honored and amazed that you did. Some of you have touched me even further by giving me a stamp of approval through trying my recipes and blogging about it, reblogging me, “pinning” me, and/or nominating me for awards. Not to mention those of you take time out your day to comment, especially the one’s who I ended up having great back and forth conversations with. This post is for you, I want you to know I appreciate your generosity, kindness and hospitality and in turn I want to promote your blog to others, because you are the real deal and genuine. In no certain order, I want to give a special thank you to the following blogs:

Sugar Dish Me

Sweat Like Mambo

Mon Food Blog

Shecall

The ObamaCrat

Tabkhet el yom

“Round the Bend

Sheepless in Rhode Island

My Gulity Pleasures

A Dollop and A Pinch

rosewinelover

lostdododesigns

What to Cook?

Ginger(ly) Homemaking

Mama Miyuki Easy Pantsy

A Chef in Thyme

The Sugared Pecan

Liberez Vous

Susartandfood’s Blog

Hot, Cheap & Easy

Danny’s Kitchen

kiwsparks

Filing Away Cupcakes

Green Pocket Protector

Chez Chloe

Foodashion’s Blog

Hot Rod Cowgirl

Year of Healthier Living

Go check out their blogs!

Just like my Grandma taught me, you don’t come showing your appreciation empty handed. Below is the perfect thank you present. Good old fashioned apple bread. Yum!

Gratitude Apple Bread

Gratitude Apple Bread
Gratitude Apple Bread

Continue reading Gratitude Apple Bread

Almond Cocoa Nibs Sticks

One of my favorite things to do every year is make holiday food baskets for our parents and the nieces and nephews. It started after my husband and I first got married. At that time, we lived within driving distance of his parent’s house, so I made a basket that I placed in front of their door. A simple gesture.

Soon after that, my husband received a job offer in another city and our traveling adventures began. However, every year I send a holiday day care package home. I have, over the years, come up with some standard items that I have to send in every basket, for the tradition of it. Having also had some dismal failures, while trying to evolve the basket, the bar is set pretty high for any new recipe.

Learning that a recipe must have a test run, before it is a candidate for the basket, I look for new and interesting recipes all year long. With that said, the following recipe will be a candidate for the next box. This Alice Medrich recipe included cocoa nibs, which I had never used before. Intrigued, I set the recipe aside until yesterday. Outstanding! The cocoa nibs have a delicate chocolate and roasted coffee nuttiness that really enhances the not too sweet biscotti like cookie.

Almond Cocoa Nibs Sticks

Almond Cocoa Nibs Sticks
Almond Cocoa Nibs Sticks

Makes about 30, 6-inch sticks

3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) whole blanched almonds
1 cup plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 t. salt
6 T. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 T. water
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/8 t. pure almond extract
1/4 cup cocoa nibs

Combine the almonds, flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor, and pulse until the almonds are reduced to a fine meal. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like a mass of crumbs. Combine the water, vanilla, and almond extract, drizzle them into the processor bowl and pulse just until the dough looks damp. Add the cocoa nibs and pulse only until evenly dispersed.

The dough will not form a smooth cohesive mass – it will be crumbly, but it will stick together when you press it. Turn it out on a large sheet of foil and form it into a 6 x 9 inch rectangle a scant 1/2 inch thick. fold the foil over the dough and press firmly with your hands to compress it, then wrap it airtight. Slide a cookie sheet under the package and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment or wax paper.

Use a long sharp knife to trim one short edge of the dough rectangle to even it. Then cut a slice a scant 3/8 inch wide and use the knife to transfer the delicate slice to the cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough, transferring each slice as it is cut and placing them at least 1 inch apart. If some break, just push them back together, or bake them broken – they will look and taste great anyway.

Bake, rotating the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back half way through the baking time, 12-14 minutes, or until the cookies are golden at the edges. Set the pans on the racks to cool completely. (The cookies can be stored, airtight, for several days).

Manicotti

Yesterday, my husband and I, along with our furry children, went on a hike to find some waterfalls during a soaking rain. It was a new area, that we had never explored, but I had heard that during a rain, the most magnificent waterfalls occur. The hike was pretty slow going, as I am not used to hiking in raw elements and my footing was slippery on some of the rocks. On top of that, we didn’t bring a map and went the wrong way. Rookie mistake, I know.

When my Dad was alive, I used to hike with him back in the woods and he always taught me to follow a river bed, if you have one, that way you never get lost. The problem was there was a fork in the road and well, to make a long story short, we took the road less traveled and it didn’t make all the difference. After two hours of hiking, the rain had started to penetrate through our clothing and so we gave up and headed back home.

When we got back, Hubbie plopped down on the couch and turned on the football game. Not being that interested in football, I decided to start my own project, manicotti. This was such a yummy treat after being out in the elements, soaked to the bone, all afternoon.

Manicotti

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1 pound fresh ricotta cheese or one 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese
tomato sauce
12 No Boil lasagna noodles
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cubed (1/4 inches) fresh mozzarella (about 6 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
pinch freshly grated nutmeg, preferably freshly ground
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, grated (about 1 1/4 cups; optional)

Whisk the eggs and salt together in a large bowl until foamy. Add the ricotta, the mozzarella cubes, 1/2 cup of the parmigiano-reggiano cheese, the parsley, pepper and nutmeg. Stir well until blended.

Pour about 4 cups boiling water into 13 by 9-inch broilersafe baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Pour out hot water and add cold water to noodles to prevent sticking.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Coat the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with tomato sauce. Working with one noodle at a time, spoon 3 full tablespoons of the ricotta filling about 1 inch from the edge closest to you. Roll loosely into a cylinder, smoothing out the filling along the length of the tube as you roll.

Arrange the manicotti, seam side down and side-by-side, over the sauce in the baking pans. Spoon the remaining sauce over the manicotti and sprinkle them with the remaining 1/2 cup of the parmigiano-reggiano cheese.

Bake 20 minutes. Scatter the grated mozzarella, if using, over the top of the manicotti and bake until the edges are bubbling and the cheese topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Blueberry Buckle

My husband and I lived in the Midwestern United States for a few years and in this part of the country, comfort food rules. Especially, during the long and brutally cold winters.

I experienced a lot of firsts there. Real snowfall that did not shut down the town. Shocked! Shoveling snow until we realized it was a losing battle and purchasing our own snowthrower. Defeated! Walking outside, hearing and feeling instant ice crystal forming in my nose when it fell below negative degree weather, which was often. Sad! I also learned to drive in all kinds of conditions, be it white outs with drifting snow or torrential sideways rain with an eery green sky backdrop and tornado sirens blaring. Needless to say, very unforgiving weather conditions.

Once I started working, I learned that what that place lacked in weather, was more than taken up by some very interesting characters, full of personality and spunk. Even though I worked for a corporation, it was truly a small town atmosphere where everyone brought in food to share. One winter, a coworker brought in Blueberry Buckle. I had never had this before, but when I tried it, it was so comforting and warm on such a dreary winter day. If you guys need anything to soothe your spirits, this would be a wonderful choice.

Blueberry Buckle

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  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 oz. fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease one 8×8 inch pan. Cream together 3/4 cup sugar, butter, and egg. In a separate bowl mix together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into sugar mixture, alternating with buttermilk. Stir in blueberries. Pour into greased 8×8 inch pan. To make topping: Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, cinnamon, and butter. Sprinkle over cake batter. Bake at 375 degree F (190 degrees C) for 25-30 minutes.

Turkey Pot Pie

Still have leftover turkey, frozen from the holidays? I do. Every time I open the freezer, I am reminded that I have this option available to me. Of course, you could use your leftovers in soup or casseroles. I have done that many times, but this time I decided to go with another idea. What about pot pie, yummy, yummy pot pie? Yes, that was the answer.

If you do not have any leftover turkey, it would be perfectly acceptable to use chicken. Whatever is in your kitchen, make it work. Note: To preserve their color, don’t thaw the peas before using.

Turkey Pot Pie

Turkey Pot Pie
Turkey Pot Pie

3/4 pounds turkey meat, cooked and shredded

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp vegetable oil

3 cups stock

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 medium onion, chopped fine

3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1 celery rib, chopped fine

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup milk

2 tsp minced fresh thyme

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 Pie Crust

1 large egg, beaten, plus 1 large egg, beaten, for baking

1 cup frozen peas

Melt butter with oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook onion, carrots, celery, and 1/4 tsp salt until lightly browned and softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add flour, and cook 1 minute. Whisk in stock, milk, and thyme and simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.  Off heat, add chicken and lemon juice to sauce and season with salt and pepper. Transfer filling to medium bowl and cool until just warm.  Unwrap and unroll pie crust onto lightly floured counter.  Stir frozen peas into cold filling and spoon into pie plate. Top with pastry and use fork to seal edges. Using paring knife, make 3-5 steam vents in crust.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange on rimmed baking sheet, just in case the filling bubbles over. Brush crusts with egg and bake until crust is golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let pot pie rest 10 minutes before serving.

These are also great if you make individual pies to freeze: Just cut out 6 pastry toppings. Stir frozen peas into cold filling and divide mixture among six 2-cup disposable aluminum loaf pans. Top with pastry and use fork to seal edges. Using paring knife, make 3 steam vents in each crust. Tightly wrap each loaf pan in 2 layers of plastic wrap and 1 layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to serve: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap frozen pot pies and arrange on rimmed baking sheet. Brush crusts with egg, cover with foil, and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until crusts are golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let pot pies rest 10 minutes before serving.

Pie Dough

This is my tried and true recipe for all purpose pie dough, be it a sweet or savory dish. You can make this ahead and refrigerate or freeze the dough until you have a special occasion to use it.

Learning how to work with pie dough is an art. I am still learning. Honestly, the quintessential flakiness of a perfect pie crust has less to do with any specific recipe and more to do with the handling of the dough. Really you should think of it as coating the fat with flour. The better doughs I have made, I could still see flecks of fat when I rolled it out.

The best trick I have learned so far: Work fast and work cold. I go as far as to freeze the first four ingredients the night before. Say you want to bake a pie out of all of the luscious fruits that will be available this summer, do not try to work with your dough in the heat of the middle of a summer day. Believe me, Disastrous! After many frustrating moments, I have made a rule, I only make pie dough in the cool of the morning.  Most of all, relax, it is just pie dough.

Pie Dough

(makes two crusts)

2  1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1/4 cup water, cold

2 Tbsp lemon juice

Combine flour and salt in a food processor; pulse to mix. Add butter, shortening, water and lemon juice and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of fat. Remove dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean surface. Gently shape into 2 discs. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured. Carefully place one of the crusts onto a 9-inch pie plate. Unbaked pie dough can be kept in a refrigerator for up to three days and frozen for up to 6 months. If storing pie dough for later use, make sure to protect the dough from absorbing odors and drying out by wrapping it completely in plastic wrap and placing in an airtight container.