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Archive for the ‘Bread/Yeast’ Category

I really enjoy baking quick breads and muffins to freeze in individual servings for a quick breakfast or snack option. Last week I found myself with a past its prime banana and a little bit of leftover canned pumpkin puree so I thought I would combine the two to make banana pumpkin bread.

Since I typically end up eating this kind of thing for breakfast, I wanted to put a healthier spin on the bread. Since bananas provide so much natural sweetness I was able to reduce the amount of sugar that I used. I also subbed half of the flour for whole wheat and used plain Greek yogurt in place of some of the oil. Easy swaps that make a difference in the overall nutrition stats. I did still top it with a pumpkin glaze but it was worth it!

The bread was very easy to put together and didn’t even require the use of a mixer. I think I had it in the oven in under 15 minutes. Once it cooled I topped it with the glaze and then let the glaze set. I then sliced the bread into individual slices that I wrapped in saran wrap and placed in a gallon bag. I placed the bag in the freezer so I can grab a slice whenever I need a quick breakfast.

All it needs is a quick 30 seconds in the microwave. Sometimes I like to pop the slice into the toaster for a minute or so too for texture. It’s extra delicious topped with butter, jam or nut butter!

Healthier Banana Pumpkin Bread
(Recipe adapted from Nancy Creative)

Ingredients:

FOR THE BREAD
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or go up to a tablespoon if you really want it spiced)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 very ripe medium banana, mashed with a fork
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

FOR THE GLAZE
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree

Directions:  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt.

In large bowl, mix together pumpkin, banana, yogurt, oil, eggs and brown sugar. Add in half of the flour mixture and mix well before adding in the other half. Continue to stir gently until everything is well combined.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let the bread cool for about 10-15 minutes in the pan before removing it to cool completely on a wire wrack.

For the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, milk and pumpkin and spoon over loaf once cool.

Yield: 8 servings

And here are the nutrition details…

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I have been getting so much inspiration from Southern Living this summer. I’m not sure if maybe they’ve had a change in their food department or have just been focusing more on improving/freshening their food features but the recipes they have been publishing have been wonderful! I have a long list of things that I’d like to try from recent issues.

This Spiced Peach Carrot Bread was a “must make ASAP” and given the constant presence of peaches on my counter during the late summer months, I had all the ingredients on hand. I really enjoy quick breads and loved the idea of peach and carrot bread in lieu of the usual banana base.

I made some modifications to the original recipe. I doubled the spices, replaced some of the oil with Greek yogurt and added vanilla extract. The bread turned out beautifully and it’s so easy to prepare. You only need one bowl and no mixer! It was great on its own and it was especially tasty topped with almond butter for breakfast. This will definitely become a yearly summer staple.

Enjoy the last of the summer peaches (before we are bombarded with all things pumpkin and winter squash!) and make this recipe.

Spiced Peach Carrot Bread
(Recipe adapted from Southern Living – July 2011)

Ingredients:

3/4 cup chopped pecans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped fresh peaches
3/4 cup grated carrots
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9 x 5 loaf pan with cooking spray.

Toast pecans either in the oven in a shallow pan for 8-10 minutes or on the stove top in a pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally. When they are fragrant and slightly darkened in color, they are ready. Allow to cool.

Stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the peaches, carrots, oil, yogurt, milk, eggs, vanilla and pecans and stir until just moistened and combined.

Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to completely cool.

Yield: 1 loaf

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I discovered this beer bread recipe several years ago on the now defunct blog, Good Things Catered. I’d never made (or heard of) beer bread before and was amazed by how easy and delicious it was. Somehow I forgot about this recipe until recently. I was looking for an alternative to cornbread to serve with chili when we had friends over for dinner and remembered this beer bread. It was a huge hit with everyone and I have now served it to two different groups of company and received raved reviews from both groups.

The best thing about this bread is how easy it is to prepare. It has a short ingredient list, is assembled in one bowl and in the oven in five minutes. Also, the house smells amazing while it is cooking. I have made a couple of modifications to the original recipe and am posting my version below. Note,  I cannot link to the original recipe because the blog has been removed.

Please make this beer bread this winter and let me know what you think! I’m willing to bet it will become a favorite!

One Year Ago: Spicy Black Bean Soup
Two Years Ago: Cinnamon Rolls (YUM!)

Cheesy Beer Quick Bread
(Recipe adapted from Good Things Catered)

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
A sprinkle of your choice of fresh or dried herbs, we like rosemary, chives, thyme, etc.
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar (or feel free to substitute other cheeses)
12 ounce bottle or can of beer (you could get fancy with this and use a lager or stout or you could be like me and save your good stuff. and use the random bottle of Bud Light you find in your fridge)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, garlic and herbs. Add cheese and whisk to combine. Slowly add beer to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Dough should be thick. Knead dough a couple of times until it comes together.

Place dough in prepared loaf pan and pour melted butter over. Bake 55-60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

Yield: 8 servings


 

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I came across this recipe in the August issue of Cuisine at Home and immediately added it to the following week’s dinner menu. I had a variety of cherry tomatoes from my brother in law’s garden and basil growing in my herb garden. A perfect combination!

These were extremely easy to put together and created a pretty impressive side dish. The flavor was fabulous – what’s not to love about homegrown tomatoes, goat cheese and basil? I went on and on to Brandon at dinner that these would be the perfect thing to make for dinner guests. I also think you could cut the puff pastry a bit smaller for an impressive appetizer. I served my tarts with sautéed grouper and a salad but these could easily be a meatless main course alongside a big salad.

One Year Ago: Summer Corn Dip (this stuff is so addictive! I’m making it for a party this week!)

Tomato Tarts with Goat Cheese and Basil
(Recipe source Cuisine at Home, August 2010)

Ingredients:

2 sheets puff pastry (a frozen 17.3 ounce box)
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
2 ounces herb flavored goat cheese
2 tablespoons milk
16 cherry tomatoes or varying colors (optional), halved
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Directions:

Thaw puff pastry according to package directions. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut one puff pastry sheet into four even squares. Place squares on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cut remaining sheet into eight strips about 3/4 inch wide and then cut the strips in half crosswise (to create 16 total).

Place four strips around the edge of each pastry square, overlapping the corners (see photo above). Lightly brush edges with egg mixture and bake until puffed and brown, 22-24 minutes.

Whisk together goat cheese and milk. Divide cheese mixture among centers of baked tarts, spreading with a spatula and pressing very lightly to slightly deflate the centers. Top cheese mixture with tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Return tarts to oven and bake another 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 tarts

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I was born and raised in Georgia and one of my favorite Southern foods is cornbread. Especially the old fashioned, slightly sweet variety that is baked in a cast iron skillet with plenty of butter and topped with honey. When I saw this recipe on Pink Parsley for Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread, I decided I would have to stray from my old favorite and give it a try.

I’m so glad I did. This is nothing like traditional cornbread but it’s a fun twist on the classic. The addition of sharp cheddar cheese, fresh jalapenos and scallions is delicious and I just have to mention how fabulous this smells when it’s baking. I made this to take to a family dinner and I had to use all of my willpower not to sneak a taste of it on the car ride over.

This recipe makes a ton. I served it to eight people and had a good bit leftover but the recipe could be easily halved and it also freezes really well.

I think this would be a perfect bread side item for a summer cookout. I also think it would be nice to make these as muffins if you’re feeding a crowd so that it’s easier to grab and go. Just some ideas for you!

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
(Recipe source Pink Parsley, originally published in Barefoot Contessa at Home)

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, grated
1/3 cup chopped scallions (3-4 scallions)
3 tablespoons fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (2-3 peppers)

Directions:

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs  and butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients. Stir until just combined and then mix in 2 cups of the cheddar, scallions and jalapenos. Stir until just combined, being careful not to overmix.

Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread the batter into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheddar.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly and cut into squares to serve.

Yield: 12 large servings (these would be really big!) or 24 smaller squares

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 52

I have yet to find the perfect pizza dough recipe so it was definitely something I wanted to try during 68 Days of Gourmet. And unfortunately, I will be continuing the search for the perfect pizza dough because this was not it. This dough wasn’t bad just average. It was pretty difficult to work with – sticky and tore easily. There was pretty much no way I was going to get it into a circle when I was shaping the dough so we ended up with very strangely shaped pizza. Luckily, things looked up once I topped it with all the fixings for barbecue chicken pizza and baked it on a hot baking stone. The dough was crispy and chewy (good for thinner-crust pizzas) and the flavor was nice. Barbecue chicken pizza is a great flavor variation from your typical pizza. If you’ve never tried it you must!

I’m blogging from Atlanta. I’ve spent the weekend here visiting my parents while Brandon has been in New Orleans for a bachelor party. He’s flying back to Atlanta tonight and then we’re making a late night drive to Charlotte. His flight has been delayed and he’s not getting in until 11 so we won’t get back to Charlotte until 3 a.m. at the earliest. Tomorrow is going to be a long day at work!

It’s been a nice and relaxing weekend hanging out in Atlanta with my parents. When I arrived late Friday a yummy pizza from Grant Central Pizza in East Atlanta Village was awaiting…along with some strawberry shortcake (one of my favorite desserts!). Saturday morning I visited a yoga class at Yoga Samadhi in Inman Park. Since the weather was so beautiful, there ended up only being one other guy in the class. It was pretty nice having a semi-private lesson and the instructor, Stephanie, was great! Saturday night we had reservations at Nino’s. It’s a family owned Italian place that’s been open since 1968. It was old-school Italian and really delicious. I believe that there is infinite value in keeping things simple and traditional.

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!

One Year Ago: Banana Nutella Muffins

Pizza Dough
(Recipe source Gourmet, June 2003)

Ingredients:

1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 3/4 to 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading, divided
3/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees), divided
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Stir together yeast, 1 tablespoon flour and 1/4 cup warm water in a measuring cup and let stand until mixture appears creamy on surface, about 5 minutes. (If it doesn’t, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Stir together 1 1/4 cups flour and salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture, oil and remaining 1/2 cup warm water and stir until smooth. Stir in enough of remaining flour (1/4 to 1/2 cup) for dough to come away from side of bowl. (It is normal for this dough to be stickier than other doughs you have made.)

Working with floured hands, knead dough on a work surface until dough is smooth, soft, and elastic, about 8 minutes. Relflour hands and work surface when necessary. Alternatively, use a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook and knead on low speed for 8 minutes.

Divide dough in half and form into 2 balls. Generously dust balls all over with flour and put each in a medium bowl. Cover bowls with plastic wrap and let dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/4 hours.

To bake, preheat pizza stone in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes. Add whatever toppings you would like and use a pizza peel or well floured baking sheet to slide pizza onto baking stone. Bake for 18-20 minutes, start checking pizza for doneness after about 15 minutes.

Or try our favorite Barbecue Chicken Pizza!

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Just a quick post to wish you all Happy St. Patrick’s Day and share our dinner with you. We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day one day early because Brandon won’t be home for dinner tomorrow night. I made corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and soda bread. For some reason, I’ve always been a huge corned beef fan and asked for this dinner all the time when I was growing up!

Due to time constraints, I had to make the corned beef in the crockpot. I was leery that it would dry out but it actually turned out pretty well. I think I’ll still prefer boiling it in the future but this worked for a weeknight dinner. I cooked the vegetables and potatoes separately using some of the cooking water for the corned beef when I got home. The cabbage wouldn’t have fit in the crock pot and I knew it would be complete mush if I let it cook all day.

This was my first time making soda bread and we really enjoyed it. It was super simple to make and tasted great. A nice accompaniment to an Irish feast! I opted to use a very basic soda bread recipe – we weren’t interested in caraway seeds and golden raisins. I would describe it as a cross between a biscuit, scone and bread. I enjoyed a slice with butter and jam after dinner!

Corned beef and cabbage will always remain one of my all-time favorite dinners! We can’t wait to enjoy the leftovers.

One Year Ago: Simple Broiled Mahi

Corned Beef and Cabbage
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

1 package corned beef with seasoning packet
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bay leaf
Enough water to cover
1 small head cabbage
Baby carrots (if desired)
Medium-sized red potatoes

Directions:

Place corned beef in a slow cooker with seasoning packet, garlic cloves and bay leaf. Add water until barely covered. Cook on low for about 6 hours, until fork tender.

Cut cabbage into quarters and place in a large stockpot with potatoes and carrots (if using). Add some of the water from the corned beef plus enough fresh water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, until cabbage and potatoes are tender.

Basic Irish Soda Bread
(Recipe source Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used 1 1/2 cups whole wheat and 2 cups of white)
1 teaspoon baking-soda
3/4 teaspoon salt (I used 1 teaspoon)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, plus a couple more tablespoons if necessary

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly flour a baking sheet.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Mix in enough buttermilk to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball and turn out onto lightly flour surfaced.  Knead just until dough holds together, about 1 minute. Shape dough into 6-inch by 2-inch-high round. Place on prepared baking sheet and cut a 1-inch-deep X across top of bread, extending almost to edges. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, 30-35 minutes. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely.

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 50

This was my first time making pita bread and it was a huge success. I followed the recipe directions exactly and the dough was a breeze to work with. I can’t even explain to you how much better this is than any store bought pita bread. It’s so soft and has that delicious homemade bread flavor.

Brandon asked if it would have a pocket and honestly, I had no clue. But while it was baking it puffed up and we were excited to cut into it and see that the pocket had “magically” appeared. I served this with kefta, homemade taziki and zucchini. I’ll be sharing that recipe tomorrow!

We’ve really enjoyed the leftovers for sandwiches this week and I’m already planning on adding this to the regular rotation. It would be so easy to make a big batch on Sundays and use if for the week. Also, The Gourmet Cookbook says they freeze well.

The only complaint I have is that Gourmet calls these whole wheat. But with only 1-cup of whole wheat flour and 2-cups of white flour, I didn’t feel like I could really call it whole wheat. I’m going to experiment next time with increasing the wheat to white ratio.

If you’re a pita lover this is a must try! :)

One year ago: Grilled Chicken Salad

Whole Wheat(ish) Pita Bread
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook, published in Gourmet May 2003)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/4 cups warm water (105–115 degrees F), divided
2 cups bread flour or high-gluten flour, plus additional for kneading
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal for sprinkling baking sheets

Directions:

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer if using), stir together yeast, honey and 1/2 cup warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. If mixture does not foam, start over with new yeast.

While yeast mixture stands, stir together flours in another bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup flour mixture into yeast mixture until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free/warm place (I like to use my oven – I turn it on for about a minute to get it warm – about 80-82 degrees and then turn it off and place dough in oven) until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms. Either turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, or use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and on low speed to knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.

Form dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in draft-free/warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Prepare 2 baking sheets by sprinkling with cornmeal. Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball, flatten the ball and then roll out into a 7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Transfer round to prepared baking sheet. Make 7 more rounds in same manner, arranging them on baking sheets. Loosely cover pitas  with clean kitchen towels (not terry cloth) and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to the lower third of oven and remove other racks (I left the other racks). Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, directly onto oven rack (alternatively, I think you could bake these on a preheated baking stone so they don’t get wire marks from the oven). Bake until puffed and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and bake 1 minute more.

Cool pitas on a cooling rack 2 minutes, then stack and wrap loosely in a kitchen towel to keep pitas warm. Bake remaining 4 pitas in same manner. Serve warm.

Yield: 8 pitas

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 43

It’s funny how certain recipes get really popular in the food blogging world. I saw these Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Bites on Pink Parsley a couple months ago and thought they looked fun. Then I noticed the original recipe was from Gourmet – even better! I thought these would be a kid and adult friendly snack at my niece’s second birthday party a couple weeks ago. Since seeing the recipe on Josie’s blog, they’ve been popping up everywhere. So for my food blogger readers – I apologize if you’ve seen this one several times already.

I am sorry that I’ve been so slack with the blog this week. I’ve had a lot going on and no time to sit down at night to update. We have friends coming to stay with us tonight so I’ve been a busy bee trying to get our tiny apartment presentable and ready for guests. Also, we’ve been dealing with house hunting drama. Thought we finally found something we were excited about making an offer on this week but it didn’t work out. I am seriously sick of looking at houses! It’s been a long process.

It’s been a pretty lackluster week on the fitness front too. More rest days than I’ve had in a long time – which maybe isn’t a bad thing considering the injury and general soreness I’ve had the last several weeks. I taught BodyPump Monday, hot vinyasa yoga Tuesday, rest day Wednesday and taught BodyPump last night. Today is looking like a rest day too. I set my alarm to go to yoga this morning but we didn’t make it to bed until midnight last night (so late for us) so I was not ready to get up at 5:45 a.m. Hoping to get some good yoga classes in this weekend and test my leg out with an easy run.

Update on 68 Days of Gourmet: I’m on day 43 and ready to get this project wrapped up. I did some work this week planning out the rest of the recipes that I’m going to make. Trying to look back to make sure that I have a good balance of all the different recipe categories and a good mix of old and new. I still have a few recipes left to pick so let me know if there’s something you really want to see. I’m happy to take requests. :)

These Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Bites were a good snack for the birthday party but not something I think I will make again. This was my first time making soft pretzels and I enjoyed the process of making them. It was fun and different. But in the end I didn’t think these were worth all of the work. There just wasn’t enough ham and cheddar flavor to them and I think the dough itself could have used a little salt. I even added more ham and cheddar than the original recipe called for.  Also, I will say that they were much better warm out of the oven than served room temperature.  I’m really surprised that I didn’t love these because they did receive great reviews from the other bloggers who made them?

Promise more updates over the weekend and next week! I’ve got some good stuff planned!

Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Bites
(Recipe source Gourmet, October 2009)

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees)
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (3 ounces) finely chopped country ham or regular ham, divided
1/2 cup finely grated sharp cheddar, divided
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 to 2 tablespoons sea salt or kosher salt

Directions:

Stir together yeast, 1 teaspoon brown sugar and warm water in a large bowl. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 8 minutes (if mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast). In a separate bowl, stir remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar into warm milk until dissolved.

I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer for the following steps but you can definitely just follow these directions: add 2 1/2 cups flour and the milk mixture to yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a soft dough forms. Add up to 1/2 cup additional flour, a little at a time, if necessary (which it probably will be – this is an extremely sticky dough). Turn out dough onto a floured surface and gently knead with floured hands a few times to form a smooth ball. Transfer to a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room (ideally around 80 degrees) until doubled and bubbles appear on surface, about 2 hours. Tip – I like to let my bread rise in the oven. I turn it on for a minute or two then switch it off and place the bread in there to rise.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and cut into four equal pieces. Working with floured hands, gently roll and stretch one piece of dough to form a 12-inch-long rope. Flatten dough and arrange so a long side is nearest you. Roll out to a roughly 12- by 4-inch rectangle with a lightly floured rolling pin. Gently press one fourth of ham and cheese into lower third of rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border along bottom edge. Stretch bottom edge of dough up over filling and press tightly to seal, then roll up as tightly as possible to form a rope. Cut rope into 12 pieces and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Make three more ropes using the same method. Let rest at room temperature, uncovered, 30 minutes (dough will rise slightly).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in baking soda. Cook pretzel bites in batches in gently simmering water, turning once, until slightly puffed, about 20 seconds total. Transfer with a slotted spoon to baking sheets.

Bake until puffed and golden-brown, about 15 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if cheese oozes out a bit.

When you remove pretzels from oven, brush with butter and sprinkle with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature with a honey mustard dipping sauce, if desired. (See original Jalepeno Honey Mustard in original recipe or see my favorite honey mustard here).

Yield: 4 dozen pretzel bites

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 32

It’s been a busy week! I’m so looking forward to the weekend. We are heading to Georgia to visit my grandmother – can’t wait to see her! Growing up and in college I was usually able to visit once every week or two. Since graduating college, we’ve lived 4+ hours away so we don’t get down there nearly as much as we’d like to.

One of my favorite things my grandmother made growing up was French toast. It was a breakfast treat when I visited! I made an overnight French toast last weekend for breakfast. We usually try to have more traditional, sit down breakfasts on the weekends. This recipe is great because it’s very simple, requires minimal prep work and results in a nice Sunday breakfast.

Tonight’s been busy, busy trying to prep for our visit. I taught BodyPump at the Y after work. It was my first night teaching at the Y. I’m so excited to finally have my own class! I taught in Birmingham and have been waiting for a class to open up here.  I’m teaching twice a week – Monday mornings at 6 (eek!) and Thursday evenings.

I have a Cranberry Pear Cake in the oven (will be blogged about soon!) to take down to my grandmonther’s. I always like to take a treat :) I’m heading to yoga tomorrow morning to get one last class in before we leave. I will most likely miss my Sunday class that I always attend but Mema’s worth it!

Overnight Baked French Toast
(Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

1 (13-14 inch) long loaf soft Italian or French bread)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons butter) softened
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar

Maple syrup
Powdered sugar

Directions:

Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish. Cut 12 diagonal slices of bread. Reserve ends for another use (I made croutons for our salads this week). Generously butter one side of each piece of bread. Arrange bread buttered sides up in one layer in prepared dish. It will be a pretty tight fit.

Whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until combined. Pour evenly over bread. Cover and refrigerate until bread has absorbed all of custard, at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and bring soaked bread to room temperature. Sprinkle bread with sugar and bake until puffed and golden, about 20-25 mintues. Serve immediately sprinkled with powdered sugar and with maple syrup.

Yield: 6 servings

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