Date Bread…..

orng chx slm patDSCN3137_2817I am in love with old-fashioned recipes that remind me of my Grandmothers.   I got this recipe out of Cooking Light Magazine years ago and it’s my go-to Date Bread recipe.  Add walnuts or chocolate chips if you wish.   Stir them in with the dry ingredient to keep them suspended during baking.   Moist and delicious and love that it isn’t loaded with fat.  This bread freezes beautifully as well.

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I baked my batter in small loaf pans.  I love doing this because the baking time is significantly shorter.  This recipe makes 4-5 small loaves (about a cup and a half of the batter)  and it takes about 30 minutes.  Check with a toothpick after 30 minutes and add time if necessary one to two minutes at a time.

I don’t know about you but I am SO ready for fall!  This 90′ weather has got to go.  Bring on the comfort foods!!

Have a nice day~


Nature’s Beauty…..

Good evening-

We thoroughly enjoyed our Michigan vacation!  Lazy mornings and hot afternoons spent on the beach of beautiful lake Michigan.

I went for a walk and picked all of these lovely flowers along the side of the road.  Aren’t they beautiful?  I remember picking wild flower bouquets for my Grandma Henderson.  She graciously accepted my gift even though she had major pollen allergies.  She was so cute!

I think it’s interesting that we (myself included) plant all non indigenous plants and try like crazy to keep them alive during extreme mid-western weather conditions.  Plants native to our area do not suffer nearly as much as the nonindigenous ones.  Even though most would consider what I picked weeds, they flourish in drought conditions and are so pretty and sweet.  Other plants that thrive in the heat are blueberry bushes.

Summer vacation would not be complete without a morning spent blueberry picking.  We ended up with about 20 pounds.   I went through them tonight and put them in the freezer.  I plan on using them to make blueberry pie, blueberry jam and tomorrow morning, blueberry streusel muffins.  Additionally, I think I’ll treat my clients to a green salad with blueberry balsamic vinaigrette, yowza!  This dressing is fantastic with toasted walnuts and blue cheese.  Do try!

I will be going to sleep tonight with blueberries dancing in my head!  Have a lovely night~



Whole Grain Cranberry Scones…..

These slightly sweet goodies will totally make your morning, afternoon, or night!   Is there really a bad time to have one for gosh sakes???   I love this original recipe as is but you can customize it to whatever you like.  Try it with dried cherries and chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, raisins and cinnamon (add 1 teaspoon to the dry mixture) or coconut and pecans…the possibilities are endless!

I topped them with large sugar granules.  You can find them at Michael’s Craft store.

Whole Grain Cranberry Scones

2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2″ cubes (if using salted butter omit the salt in the recipe)
1/2 cup oatmeal, old fashioned or quick cooking
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup craisins
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (you can substitute the milk with a couple of teaspoons of cider or white vinegar)
1 tablespoon orange or lemon zest
2 tablespoons milk
1-2 tablespoons large sugar granules (regular sugar is fine too)

1)  Preheat the oven to 375′.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2)  In a large mixing bowl add the flour through the salt.  Add the cold butter cubes and work into the flour with a pastry blender or your fingers.  You can also do this in a food processor.  Process until there are no large lumps and the flour resembles cornmeal.
3)  Add the oatmeal, wheat germ and craisins and mix to combine.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk and orange zest.  Stir until just combined.  It’s OK if it’s a bit sticky.  Flour the counter top and plop the dough onto the counter.  With floured hands, knead 2-3 times into a smooth ball of dough.  Add a little flour if necessary.  Roll out to about 3/4″.  Cut with a round biscuit cutter and place on parchment paper on the cookie sheet.
4)  Using a pastry brush, coat the scone tops with milk and sprinkle them generously with sugar.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.  They are best the day you make them.  Makes about twenty 3″ scones.




Traditional Croatian Easter Bread (Sirnica)…..

I absolutely love learning about food traditions of other ethnicitys.    I think it’s my favorite part about being a cook.    Every week I try to make something I’ve never made before, sort of a dinner passport to different places all around the world.  This holy week, I’ll be making Croatian Easter Bread.   Check out another interesting version of this bread made with boiled, colored eggs, so interesting and beautiful!

Heather with her darling daughters Sadie,Clara, and Fiona.

I first had the pleasure of tasting this delicious bread when my friend Heather surprised me with a loaf right before Easter last year.  I was honored that she would share a loaf of her treasured family recipe.    It had a gentle yet distinctive citrus taste and was very pleasantly sweet without being too sweet.  Tender, moist, and delicious.   Of course, after the first bite I wanted to make this bread for all Easter Dinners going forward.  Heather kindly shared her recipe.

Try this Croatian Easter Bread.  It may become the next family tradition in your family:-)

Traditional Croatian Easter Bread


2 cups milk
1 package active dry yeast or 2 ¼ teaspoon

½ cup softened butter (1 stick)
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
Zest of half of a lemon and half of an orange
6 cups all purpose flour
Crushed sugar cubes or sugar for dusting

1) Slightly heat the milk in a microwave. Add the yeast and set aside. (about 10-15 minutes or until yeast is dissolved and a little bubbly)

2) Meanwhile, in a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter, and sugar, then add the eggs and salt, and zest, beat until well blended. Add the yeast-milk mixture and half of the flour, beat well. Add remaining flour gradually, until a smooth, soft dough forms. (you may not use all the flour or may require more)

3) Place the dough in a large greased bowl, burning to coat both sides, and let rise, covered, until doubled. Punch down and turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.

4) Preheat oven to 375′.  Divide dough into 4 to 6 equal pieces, shape into a nice round ball. Cover and allow to rest 5 minutes.

5) Place dough on cookie parchment lined cookie sheet. Egg wash the dough with 1 large beaten egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Sprinkle with crushed sugar cubes. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

*one way to check if a yeast bread for doneness is to thump it with your fingers, if it sounds hollow, it’s done. Be sure that you have a nice brown color was well.

Tip: Freeze Over Ripe Bananas…..

Good morning!

What to do with those over ripe bananas?  Maybe you don’t have the time to bake within a couple of days?  Simple peel and freeze them.  Use a zip plastic bag, get as much air out of the bag as possible.  As always, label and date.  They’ll keep in the freezer for about 3 months.

When you thaw them out, they will be the most unappealing looking bananas ever, but they will make the most moist and delicious banana bread ever!  In this recipe, use 2 cups of the frozen bananas, liquid and all.  If you have an immersion blender, it’s best to liquefy the wet ingredients before adding to the dry ingredients.  You can also do this in a blender.

Have a great spring day!


Best Irish Soda Bread Recipes…..

I especially love St. Patrick’s Day because it was about the time I met my husband Joe.   We went to a St. Patty’s Day Party on our first date.  It was then that I knew I wanted to marry him.  Warm fuzzies:-)

I love the traditional St. Patrick’s Day dinner.  So easy to make and so good.  Of course, you must serve Irish Soda Bread.  I make this bread often throughout the year as it goes great with any hearty soup or stew.

There are many, many Irish Soda Recipes out there but the latest one I tried was at my sister-in-law’s mother’s funeral.  I thought what?  A table of Irish Soda Bread at a funeral?  Of course, this was brilliant!  She was known for her delicious soda bread.  It was so sweet, they had shamrock decorated table with offering slices of bread, wrapped bread to take home and her recipe printed on a pretty recipe card.  What a beautiful idea!

I LOVED her recipe.  It was a little sweeter than mine and had an amazing buttery taste.  I will be making her recipe this St. Patrick’s Day.

One of the things that I love most about cooking are cherished traditional family recipes.   Whatever you do, if you have a special recipe from your Mom or Grandma or any family member, make them and share them with your kids.  Dear Margie will live on through her fabulous recipe.  Here it is.

Love the simplicity of the recipe.  You can tell that she made it over and over again so her recipe did not need tons of direction.

The recipe is large.  I am thinking the four pans used for baking would be 8-9″ round.    You could also make half of the batch in mini loaf pans, filling them a little over half full.  Baking time would be about 30 minutes at 350′.   This bread would make amazing french toast!!

Have a wonderful day!


Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake…..

When I think of coffee cake I get warm fuzzies.  This coffee cake is very much like the one my Mom would serve after Sunday Mass.  We’d have my Aunt Anita and Uncle Jerry and our cousins over for coffee and cake.  This is a simple coffee cake that everyone will love.  I make it in the small loaf pans as it takes only 30 minutes to bake.  You can also make them into muffins.

If you look closely, you can see that I put a layer of streusel in the middle of the bread as well.  Streusel on the top and in the middle is twice as nice!

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

For the streusel:

3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
dash of salt

For the cake:

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1)  For the streusel.  Put all ingredients into a small bowl and work them together with your fingers until you have a crumbly mixture.  Preheat the oven to 350′.  Coat 4 mini loaf pans with well with cooking spray.
2)  Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center.
3)  Add the egg, milk, sour cream, and melted butter into the well.  Mix until just blended.  Fill the pans 1/3 full, sprinkle a little streusel over the batter, then top with the rest of the batter.  Top with the remaining streusel.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Test with a toothpick for doneness.  Cool for 10 minutes on a cooling rack before you remove from pans.  Cool completely on rack.  Wrap with plastic wrap or put into a cellophane bag.

*For muffins.  Line a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners and coat the liners well with cooking spray.  Fill each cup 2/3 full and top generously with the struesel.  Bake for 17-19 minutes.    Makes 12-15 muffins.

Christmas Concert, Kringle, & Dinner Rolls…..

The Christmas concert at school was so cute!  It was fun to watch and very exciting too that it was the last day of school.  Ahhhhh, winter break.  No jumping out of bed, making lunches, getting breakfast, getting dressed and off to school.  Nice.

What was on the agenda our first day without school???

Baking, of course!  Ryan is very good at rolling, cutting and placing the cookies on the sheet.  I mixed the dough earlier in the week.  We baked all the cookie dough, whew!

Last night I mixed dough for Kringle.  (check out the step by step instruction)   I love making it because the dough is prepared the night before and simply rolled out, filled with cream cheese and fruit filling, shaped, and baked.  No second rising required.  It is so delicious and stays very fresh for 2-3 days unlike many other yeast type breads/rolls.

Lastly, since I loved the Challah bread so much, I thought I’d make a triple batch and shape them into rolls for Christmas Eve dinner at my  sister in law’s house….

The triple batch made about 75 rolls.  My house smells amazing!

Merry Christmas!



Homemade Challah, Step by Step Instruction….

I loved everything about making this bread.  Loved the simple ingredients, the hand feel, and the smell in my house.  Next time I will double or triple the recipe.  Imagine french toast or homemade bread pudding made out of this bread…OH MY!

The dough did take quite some time for the first rising, about 2 hours.  I used regular yeast but you could use the rapid rise variety of yeast and you might be able to trim off 30-60 minutes here.  The dough itself is very dense, very lovely.  I found that when I kneaded the bread I virtually used no extra flour as I have in the past with other kinds of bread.

My friend gave me the ingredient list for this bread and she makes hers in a bread machine. I decided to make it the way I make most other yeast breads only I kneaded the dough a bit longer.  I got the same exact result.  The key here, I believe, is using bread flour as opposed to all purpose.  Bread flour has more gluten than all purpose flour.  This makes for a really nice, chewy yet tender texture.  So, so good.

Let’s get started….

We begin with 3/4 cup of warm water.  (About the same temperature you’d make a bottle for a baby.)  Add  1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.  In a separate microwaveable bowl, melt 3 tablespoons of butter, set aside to cool.
Add 4 tablespoons of sugar.
Add 2 teaspoons of dry yeast.
Measure out 3 cups of flour into a small bowl.  Take out one tablespoon and add it here.
Whisk well to blend.  Allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
The yeast mixture should look like this.  If you look  closely, you can see bubbles.  This is the yeast coming to life.
Add 2 large beaten eggs.
Add the cooled melted butter.  Whisk to blend.
Next add half of the bread flour, beat well until smooth.
Add the rest of the flour and mix until it looks like this.
Dump the dough onto the counter and bring together with your hands to form a ball.
It should look like this.  I added the smallest amount of flour because it was sticking to the counter slightly.  Be careful not to add too much extra flour.  I found that I did not need any additional flour after this.  Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes.
It should look like this when you’re done kneading.  The dough should be smooth and elastic.
Grease the inside of a small bowl with butter, plop the dough in and coat the dough with a thin layer of butter as well.
Now cover your little ball of dough with a clean cloth or kitchen towel.  Time to put it to rest in a nice warm place free of drafts.  If you have a gas stove, simply turn on the light in the oven and place the bowl on the center rack.  The pilot light and the light will provide the dough with a nice warm place to rise.  Allow it to rise until double in  bulk.   It took my dough about 2 hours on the first rise.  (If you have an electric oven, turn the heat on 300′ for one minute.  Turn off the heat and turn on the oven light.  It is now perfect for proofing the dough)
The dough has doubled in bulk, it’s ready to be shaped.
Punch the dough down and divide into 3 equal balls.
Roll each ball into 12″ sticks as shown above.  Pinch them together at the top.
Now braid and pinch the bottom together.
Place the shaped bread on a baking mat or parchment paper.  Cover the shaped bread with the clean towel.   The bread should just about double in size, it should take about 40 minutes.   Preheat the oven to 375′.
Beat an egg with a tablespoon of water and brush the oven ready bread well with the egg wash.   Bake for 25-27 minutes.  when you flick it with your finger and it has a hollow sound, it’s done.  Remove from the oven onto a cooling rack.  Enjoy it warm by tearing off chunks and slather with softened butter.   Delish!

Homemade Challah Bread

3 cups bread flour
3/4 cup water
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons yeast
4 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp butter, cut up

1 egg, 1 tablespoon of water

1)  Measure out 3 cups of bread flour in a small bowl.  In a large mixing bowl, add water, salt, sugar, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of flour out of the 3 cups of measured flour.  Whisk well to blend.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
2)  Melt the butter in a small microwaveable dish, set aside to cool.  Beat two eggs in a small bowl.
3)  Add the eggs and the cooled melted butter to the yeast mixture, whisk to blend.
4)   Add half of the bread flour and mix well until there are no lumps.
5)  Add the rest of the flour and mix.  Dump onto the counter and bring together into a ball.  Add a small amount of flour to the counter if the dough ball is a little sticky.  Knead for 5-7 minutes.  The dough should be elastic and smooth.
6)  Grease a medium size bowl with butter, add the dough, lightly grease the top of the dough.  Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise in a warm, draft free place.
7)  When the dough has risen to double it’s size, punch down the dough and divide into 3 equal pieces.  Shape into three 12″ logs and pinch together at the top.  Braid and pinch together at the bottom.   Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise for about 40 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 375″.
8)  Beat the egg with water.  Using a pastry brush, apply the egg wash liberally to the shaped and oven ready loaf.
9)  Bake for 25-27 minutes.  Enjoy warm by tearing off pieces with room temperature butter.  Store leftovers, if any, in a sealed plastic zip bag.  Makes one large loaf.

Thank you for sharing your recipe Genevieve!


Apple Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake…..

One of my fondest childhood memories is walking home from school and smelling apples and cinnamon in the air.  It was then that we broke out into a full sprint for home.  The smells were always coming from our house!  My Mom made some of the most delicious goodies!    I always wanted to be like my Mom.

I think it’s interesting how popular cinnamon scented candles are these days.  I found it funny that when I first met my husband he had many of these candles in his house.  I remember thinking how much he’d enjoy my homemade apple pie or cinnamon rolls.    To this day anything I make that has cinnamon in it drives my people crazy!

Try this amazing apple cinnamon delight.  There are a few steps involved.  Make the apples and the streusel a day in advance if you like.

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

For the apples:
3-4 small tart apples such as Johnathon or Granny Smith, peeled and cut into 1/4″ pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup water

For the streusel:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons room temperature butter

For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/3 cup milk

1)  For the apples.  Place the prepared apples into a medium size sauce pan and add the sugar, flour, cinnamon.  Mix to evenly coat the apples.  Add the lemon juice and water.  Cook over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.  Add a little more water if it’s too thick.  Remove from heat and set aside or refrigerate if using the next day.
2)  For the streusel.  Add all ingredients into a small mixing bowl and blend together using your fingers until you get a nice crumbly mixture.  Refrigerate in an air tight container if using the next day.  Otherwise, set aside.
3)  For the cake.  Preheat the oven to 350′.  Generously coat a 9×13″ baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.  Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixing bowl.  Stir to blend.  Make a well in the center of the ingredients.
4)  Add all of the wet ingredients into the well.  Mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated, do not over mix.
5)  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.  Evenly top with the cooked apple mixture.  Top evenly with the streusel topping.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  A toothpick should come out clean.  Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.  Cover and refrigerate leftovers.  Makes 12 servings.