Scallion Buttermilk Biscuits

Y’all know I have an affinity for buttermilk biscuits. I’m not proud… if you offer me a flakey buttermilk biscuit smothered with creamy butter, I’ll most likely settle down in your kitchen and stay for a while.

I haven’t made buttermilk biscuits for a while and I happened to have a bunch of scallions left over from another recipe and I thought buttermilk biscuit + scallions = delightfully wonderful baked good.

One thing I like about this recipe is that it calls for a teaspoon of salt. That saltiness enhances the savory flavors in this biscuit. You could enjoy this for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It would pair beautifully with eggs, a salad, or a soup. It’s definitely versatile.

I made a crazy good breakfast sandwich with the biscuit this morning. I placed thin slices of salted butter on the ‘right out of the oven’ biscuit halves. Then I topped one half with avocado, a tomato slice, scrambled eggs, and a bacon slice. Seriously, it was heavenly!

By the way, that breakfast sandwich is my slightly (well, let’s be honest… very slightly) version of a traditional cafe breakfast sandwich or Eggs Benedict. I don’t like hollandaise sauce or runny eggs of any kind (ugh, so gross!). I will literally gag with a runny or soft yolk. So Paul scrambled the egg to my liking (he’s so sweet) and also crisped the bacon to my liking (if it’s not crisp, it’s not worth it). Not kidding, amazing!!!

Scallion Buttermilk Biscuits (recipe care of hungryenoughtoeatsix.com)

INGREDIENTS: 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 cup butter (unsalted and cold), 1 cup buttermilk, 4-5 fresh scallions (ragged tops and white bulb ends removed, chopped to yield about 1/2 cup chopped scallions)

DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat.  In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  Slice the butter into small pieces. Use a pastry cutter to work the butter into the dough.  Add the buttermilk and chopped scallions to the bowl and stir them through the dry mixture. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough a few times until it is smooth.  Roll the dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut circles out from the dough. Place the dough circles onto the prepared baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.  Bake the biscuits for about 17 minutes, until they are lightly browned and puffed. Remove the biscuits to a cooling rack to cool completely, or serve them warm immediately. The biscuits can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. Makes about 16 biscuits.

NOTES: Be sure your butter is very cold before you cut it into the dry mixture. Cold pieces of butter in the biscuits is what will give the finished biscuits lots of flakiness.

One-Pot Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs

Yep, not one meatball in sight.

Paul loves to order spaghetti and meatballs for dinner when we’re out at an Italian restaurant on date night. So when I saw this recipe in People Magazine years ago I tore it out immediately. Thinking, “How hard could it be to make a meatball,” I went into this way to arrogantly.

Having never made a meatball before, I had no clue where to start. But I use to watch Ellie Krieger’s show on Food Network and always loved her healthy versions of classic dishes. In truth, she created a beautiful recipe and I proceeded to destroy it in every way possible.

I was able to make it through all of the directions until I had to form the meatballs. At that point, the meat mixture was way too wet to form a solid ball (believe me, I know how funny that sounds). So I asked Paul to pour in breadcrumbs so that the mixture would thicken. Eventually we kinda got to the consistency that was needed and I rolled out 12 balls (again, funny sentence taken out of context).

When I started frying them I realized I was in serious trouble. One would try to move in on the one next door, while the one next door would stick to the edge of the pot. That was only the beginning. It was a mess! After trying to separate and turn all of the balls in the pan and watching them slowly fall apart, I dove in and mashed them all up to make the starts of a funky ra’gu.

Needless to say it was not a pretty night of cooking. But in the end, the oddly interesting spaghetti dish turned out okay. We’ll be having it for left-overs tomorrow night.

One-Pot Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs (recipe care of Ellie Krieger)

INGREDIENTS: 1/3 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats, 3 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk, 1 large egg (lightly beaten), 2 tablespoons very finely minced shallot (from one shallot), 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, 4 medium-size garlic cloves (divided: 2 cloves finely minced and 2 cloves sliced), 2 oz. (about 1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (divided), 3/4 teaspoon salt (divided), 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (divided), 1 pound 90% lean ground turkey , 1/4 cup olive oil (divided), 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes, 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste, 3 1/2 cups water, 12 ounces uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti, 3 cups baby arugula

DIRECTIONS: Stir together oats and milk in a medium bowl, and let stand until liquid is absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg, shallot, parsley, minced garlic, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to oats mixture; stir to combine. Add turkey, and use hands to combine, but avoid overtaxing. Form mixture into 12 balls, wetting hands if they become sticky as you work. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, wide soup pot over medium high. Add meatballs, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a plate. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to pot, and lower heat to medium. Stir in sliced garlic, and then add tomatoes, tomato paste, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Stir in water; bring mixture to a boil. Add pasta, pressing it down until completely submerged in liquid. Place meatballs in pot, submerging in sauce as much as possible. Lower heat to medium low, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until pasta is cooked al dente, meatballs are cooked through and sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in arugula until wilted; garnish with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.

Cinnamon-Streusel Coffeecake

2021! Woo woo! Happy New Year y’all!

I’ve written about this coffeecake before, having made it on multiple New Years’ mornings. But, it’s worth blogging about it again. It’s just that good.

Now I’m not gonna lie to you, it takes a while to make. But if you have the time in the morning, you won’t regret it. You can also prep it the night before (see the baker’s note below).

This morning I danced around the kitchen listening to one of my favorite Pandora stations, Madeleine Peyroux, and pretty much just enjoyed a quiet morning of baking. I sipped on a mimosa while mixing, blending, beating… and thoroughly loved playing in the kitchen to kick off this new year. Paul was asleep on the couch (but in his defense, he just had foot surgery).

Just so you know, this is a large coffeecake. When I heaved it into the oven it probably weighed between 8-10 pounds. If you have a lot of people to feed, this recipe is for you. Because it’s just Paul and me, I share this with lots of friends. It keeps really well.

Go forth and bake and have a very happy 2021!

Cinnamon-Streusel Coffeecake (recipe care of kingarthurbaking.com)

INGREDIENTS:

Streusel topping: 1 cup (199g) granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt (if you use unsalted butter), 1 cup (121g) all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 6 tablespoons (85g) butter (melted)

Filling: 1 cup (213g) brown sugar (packed), 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa (Dutch-process or natural)

Cake: 12 tablespoons (170g) butter (at room temperature), 1 teaspoon salt (1 1/4 teaspoons if you use unsalted butter), 1 1/2 cups (298g) granulated sugar, 1/3 cup (71g) brown sugar (packed), 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 3 large eggs (at room temperature), 3/4 cup (170g) sour cream or plain yogurt (at room temperature), 1 1/4 cups (283g) milk (at room temperature), 3 3/4 cups (454g) all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan, or two 9″ round cake pans. Make the topping by whisking together the sugar, salt, flour, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter, stirring until well combined. Set the topping aside. Make the filling by mixing together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Note that the cocoa powder is used strictly for color, not flavor; leave it out if you like. Set it aside. To make the cake, in a large bowl, beat together the butter, salt, sugars, baking powder, and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream or yogurt and milk till well combined. You don’t need to whisk out all the lumps. Add the flour to the butter mixture alternately with the milk/sour cream mixture, beating gently to combine. Pour/spread half the batter (a scant 3 cups) into the prepared pan(s), spreading all the way to the edges. If you’re using two 9″ round pans, spread 1 1/3 cups batter in each pan. Sprinkle the filling evenly on the batter. Spread the remaining batter atop the filling. Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling into the batter, as though you were making a marble cake. Don’t combine filling and batter thoroughly; just swirl the filling through the batter. Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan. Bake the cake until it’s a dark golden brown around the edges; medium-golden with no light patches showing on top, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes for the 9″ x 13″ pan, 50 to 55 minutes for the 9″ round pans. When pressed gently in the middle, the cake should spring back. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve cake right from the pan.

Tips from Their Bakers:

  • Dress it up for guests: Make a glaze with ½ cup confectioners’ or glazing sugar and 1 tablespoon milk; drizzle glaze over the cooled coffeecake.
  • Since butter and sour cream are both key ingredients in this cake, we encourage you to use the best quality you can get. We highly recommend Cabot, a superb Vermont brand available nationally.
  • It’s easy to spread half the batter in the pan when you know how much it weighs. If you have a kitchen scale, half the batter weighs about 28 ounces.
  • Want to prepare this coffeecake the night before, then bake in the morning? It’s easy; simply cover the unbaked cake with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Next morning, bake the cake as directed. Start testing for doneness at the end of the suggested baking time; you’ll probably have to add 5 minutes or so to the total time, to account for the batter being chilled.

Easy & Delicious French Toast

Paul loves French toast. He always has, but it’s never really been my thing. However, it’s Christmas morning and this is such an easy, yet delicious recipe that I’m happy to serve it up.

One shortcut that I was grateful for is that I found pre-sliced brioche bread. Perfect thickness for the soaking and frying.

Serve it up with some really good bacon (crispy if you ask me) and mimosas and you’ve got yourself a lovely little holiday breakfast.

And if you want to step it up a decadent notch, dollop some homemade whipped cream on your French toast stack. Oh holy heck, I shoulda done that!

Have fun!

French Toast (recipe care of Robert Irvine on foodnetwork.com)

INGREDIENTS: 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 2 tablespoons sugar, 4 tablespoons butter, 4 eggs, 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 8 slices challah/brioche/white bread, 1/2 cup maple syrup (warmed)

DIRECTIONS: In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar and set aside briefly. In a 10-inch or 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk together cinnamon mixture, eggs, milk, and vanilla and pour into a shallow container such as a pie plate. Dip bread in egg mixture. Fry slices until golden brown, then flip to cook the other side. Serve with syrup.

Creamy Three Meat Ragu with Pappardelle & Burrata

Happy Christmas! Happy holidays! Happy New Year!

Man what a year! And man am I ready to say goodbye to it and welcome in 2021!

But before we happily wave goodbye to 2020, let’s focus on the fun food we can enjoy while kicking 2020 into 2021.

Of course the state of California is closed down for any kind of dining other than take out. This posed a bit of a problem for Paul and me because we have a tradition of going out for Christmas Eve dinner with our dear friends, Tess and Willie.

Well, screw that! Since going out isn’t gonna happen, let’s stay in!

Paul and I volunteered to host the holiday traditional dinner at our house. I love hosting dinners for my friends and family. It’s my way of sharing my great love and appreciation for them.

So as I sang along with Bing Crosby, Julie Andrews, Frank Sinatra, and a plethora of other throwback greats as they crooned the amazing old school holiday carols that I adore, Paul and I chopped, sautéed, stirred, and pretty much played in the kitchen making this dish.

Now y’all know I can be a lazy cook but all the chopping of vegetables is totally worth it. This decadent, crazy delicious, ridiculously rich pasta will please even your biggest skeptics. I have only made this twice… once for Halloween and once for Christmas Eve. It really is a recipe that is so special that I only serve it for special occasions. Also, a little goes a long way.

Notes: I don’t cook with or eat veal so I just took the veal out and used 3/4 pounds of both ground beef and sweet Italian sausage. I also have know idea what white pepper is so I skipped that part. Finally, I only have ground nutmeg so I just used a pinch of that. Enjoy!

Creamy Three Meat Ragu with Pappardelle & Burrata (recipe care of rachaelrayshow.com)

INGREDIENTS: 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons butter, ½ pound ground beef, ½ pound ground veal, ½ pound sweet Italian sausage (casings removed), salt and finely ground black pepper, 1 scant teaspoon white pepper, 1 carrot (peeled and grated or finely chopped), 1 large shallot (finely chopped), 2 tablespoons fresh sage (very thinly sliced), 2 large garlic cloves (chopped), finely grated nutmeg (grate it while making one pass over the pan), 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 cup white wine, 2 cups passata (or tomato puree), 1 cup chicken stock, 1 pound pappardelle (or 500 grams), 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (plus more for topping), 8 ounces Burrata cheese, a handful fresh flat-leaf parsley finely chopped (for topping)

DIRECTIONS: Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. In a Dutch oven or deep skillet, heat the oil, one turn of the pan, over medium-high. Add the butter. When it foams, add the beef, veal, and sausage. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat with a spoon, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, finely ground black pepper, and the white pepper. Add the carrot, shallot, sage, garlic, and nutmeg. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine. Cook, stirring often, until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Add the passata and stock. Reduce heat to medium. Cook the sauce at a low bubble until the pasta is ready. Salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook until 1 to 2 minutes shy of the package directions. Scoop out 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Mix the pasta and about 1 cup Parm into the sauce. Toss for 1 minute to coat the pasta; add cooking water as needed if the pasta is too dry. Place the Burrata in a serving bowl. Top with the pasta, parsley, and more Parm. At the table, break open the Burrata and toss the pasta again to coat.

Cheese, Herb, & Garlic Quick Bread

I so wish you could’ve been in my kitchen this morning and deeply breathed in while this bread was baking. It was heavenly!

This is a beautiful (literally beautiful) bread. The swirls of cheese, the scattered herbs, the chunks of garlic… “It’s so pretty,” was my response when I pulled it from the oven. Whereupon Paul made fun of me for saying bread was pretty. I don’t care. It was gorgeous!

Y’all know I’m a lazy baker so instead of the strips of cheese, I used shredded cheddar cheese. I love her idea of pockets of cheese as a surprise throughout the bread, but mixing in the shredded cheese was way easier. Oh, and I have no idea what “tasty” cheese is but it sounds fabulous!

This is a very easy quick bread and I appreciated the author’s additional notes. The only thing I noticed is that the dough is very thick to “swirl” the herb mixture throughout the batter. But I swirled away (at least the best swirl I could muster) and it turned out beautifully. Oh, and I used 4-5 large cloves of garlic instead of her 2 small cloves. Paul and I are garlic people!

I would serve this for breakfast, a side for a lunch salad, or a side for a dinner soup (ooh, especially with my roasted tomato herb soup). However you decide to serve it, you will love it!

Cheese, Herb, & Garlic Quick Bread (recipe care of recipetineats.com)

INGREDIENTS:

Cheese & Herbs: 4 tbsp fresh herbs finely chopped (I used a mix of dill, rosemary, parsley and thyme) (Note 1), 2 tbsp olive oil, 5 oz / 150g block cheese (cheddar or tasty), cut into 2mm / 0.1″ thick slices (about 10 to 12 slices) (Note 2), Butter for greasing

Dry Ingredients: 2 1/4 cups plain flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients: 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (See Note 3 for substitute), 2 eggs, 2 small garlic cloves (crushed)

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease a bread tin (21 x 11 cm / 8″ x 4″) or small cake tin with butter. Mix the herbs and olive oil in a small bowl. Sift the Dry Ingredients into a bowl. Combine the Wet Ingredients into a bowl and whisk to combine. Make a well in the centre of the Dry Ingredients. Pour the Wet Ingredients in and mix until just combined. Pour 1/3 of the batter into the bread tin. Dollop half the herbs across the top then use a knife to “swirl” it into the batter up and down, and also turning the batter over (refer photo below). Use half the cheese slices and push them randomly into the batter. Push some all the way in and leave some poking out of the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the top. Dollop and swirl the remaining herbs, then randomly wedge in the remaining cheese, pushing most of it below the surface of the batter. Even out the surface. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden. Remove from oven and cover with foil, then bake for a further 15 to 20 minutes (total baking time of 45 to 50 minutes). Check to make sure the centre is cooked by inserting a skewer – it should come out clean. Turn the bread out onto a cooking rack. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

NOTES:

  1. You can substitute the fresh herbs with 2 tbsp dried herbs.

2. You can substitute with pre sliced cheese but I found it did not work as well because they are slightly thinner so they sort of disappear when baked. Cutting it yourself means you can cut them slightly thicker so you will end up with some ribbons of melted cheese in the bread.You can also substitute with grated cheese. If you do this, mix it straight into the batter just before pouring it in the tin.Tasty cheese is a common type of cheese here in Australia. A great all rounder and very good value. You can use any type of melting cheese with flavour / salt that you wish. Colby, Monterey Jack, cheddar, gruyere are all great! I don’t recommend Mozzarella – it does not have enough salt or flavour for this particular recipe.

3. You can substitute this with 1 cup + 3 tbsp milk at room temperature +
1 tbsp vinegar. Set aside for 10 minutes until the surface of the milk curdles. Then use the milk, including the curdled bits, as the buttermilk in this recipe.

4. Store in an airtight container for 3 days (4+ days, keep it in the fridge and toast to freshen up).

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

I don’t know if y’all know about this miraculous creation given to us by the food gods called Nutella, but it a fabulous in every way! I purposely do not buy it for our house because I would eat the entire jar by myself in about 2 days. When Paul and I were on our honeymoon in Positano, I ate it every day (along with 2 servings of gelato but that’s another story).

Anyway, I digress. I have always loved the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts. The flavors mixed together remind me of the holidays and decadent desserts.

Months ago a friend of mine told me about a great website: nuts.com. She and I love to cook so she knew I’d dig it. It is very easy to fall down the rabbit whole on that site because they have everything under the sun that a cook or baker could want. It can be hard to find hazelnuts but nuts.com had them, so I bought them pre-chopped with the intent of making these cookies.

Now, I wish you coulda seen the perplexed look on my face while I tried to convert the grams into cups while doubling the recipe at the same time. Hilarious! The sad thing is that because I’m now a reading specialist and I don’t teach math anymore, my math brain has taken a very long vacation and is unwilling to work.

However, after a very painful morning of fractions and conversions I was able to pull these off. They are amazing! Even people who don’t like nuts will like them. They are rich, nutty, chocolatey, and beautiful. Definitely give them a try for your holiday baking or really just whenever you want a lovely treat.

Just a couple of notes:

  • My cookies are not nearly as pretty because I didn’t follow her steps with adding chocolate chunks and hazelnuts on top right before baking. I wish I had. The deep color of cocoa brown is gorgeous but presentation wise they’re missing those two wow factors.
  • Her cookies look much more dense and solid than mine turned out. Maybe it’s because the measurements weren’t perfectly converted (shocking, I know). The consistency reminded me of a crinkle cookie, but with a very soft center. Nevertheless they are delicious!
  • I also doubled the recipe and had a lot to share with friends and family.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies (recipe care of https://emmaduckworthbakes.co.uk)

INGREDIENTS: 110g butter (softened), 110g light brown sugar, 50g granulated sugar, 1 large egg (room temp), ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, 100g flour, 30g cocoa powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, 100g milk chocolate chunks, 85g blanched hazelnuts (lightly toasted and chopped), Sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

DIRECTIONS: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the egg and vanilla and beat until just combined. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix on low until just incorporated. Mix in ¾ of the chopped hazelnuts and chocolate chunks. Using a cookie scoop or a teaspoon, scoop the dough into inch wide balls and place on a baking tray. Press the remaining hazelnuts into the top of the balls. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or freeze for 30 minutes, Overnight chilling in the fridge is ideal and baking unchilled dough will mean the cookies spread too much. Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F and line two baking trays with parchment paper. Remove the cookie balls from the fridge or freezer and place on the baking trays leaving at least 2 inches in between balls. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Around the five-minute mark, distribute the remaining chopped chocolate onto the top of the baking cookies. The chocolate will melt and give gorgeous chocolate puddles. Remove baking trays from the oven. Whilst the cookies are still hot, using a round cookie cutter or mug, place over the cookie and twirl the cookie inside gently pushing the edges in so that the cookies form a round shape. Kind of like the cookie and cutter are doing a hula dance!! Then sprinkle each cookie with flaked sea salt. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

NOTES:

  1. Yield: This recipe can be doubled to yield 20-22 cookies.

2. Bake Time: I like my cookies chewy and soft in the middle. My preference is soft chewy cookies but if you prefer crispier cookies then add on a couple of minutes to the bake time.

3. To Store: Cookies will remain fresh for 3-5 days in an airtight container and store at room temperature.

4. To Freeze: Cookie dough balls can be frozen easily. Portion the cookie dough using a cookie scoop or teaspoon onto a baking tray and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Then place dough balls in a zip lock bag and into the freezer. Cookie dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. Then when ready to bake your Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies, bake from frozen and add a minute of two onto the cooking time. There is no need to thaw prior to baking

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Rolls

If you’ve ever read my blog you know that I am terrified of yeast.

I am the baker that will avoid a recipe calling for yeast like it’s the plague. I’ve tried honoring the yeast gods a few times before, and they were both epic fails.

I don’t understand yeast. It doesn’t like me. It senses my fear and decides, “Oh let’s mess with this chump who has a false sense of security in her baking skills.

But for some reason this recipe encouraged me to face my fears and have faith. I decided to give it a go. It also helped that Paul stated one of my teaching philosophies while searching for yeast in the grocery store, “Mistakes make your brain grow stronger.” Followed by, “This is complicated, we’ll do it together.” So grateful for a patient and very helpful wingman.

Terrified in my lack of yeast success, I followed the instructions to “proof the yeast,” with a nervousness like the opening night for the lead actor on Broadway. We (Paul and me, while also wrestling with our fire place to have a cozy Sunday morning fire) overheated the milk. Having a few minutes so that the milk could cool down to a lukewarm temperature, I talked and sang to the yeast. Yes, I told the yeast how happy I was to be baking with it. Yes, I sang a happy song to it in the hopes that my grammy award winning words and voice would sooth the yeast gods into “proofing.” Well…

The beautiful foam that had formed in 10 minutes sang right back to me! It was the first time the yeast and I got along. I was so excited that I actually cried out, “Oh my gosh, it worked!”

And that’s where it all went wrong.

Sadly, I was so focused on the yeast that I lost track of the flour. I used 2 and 3/4 cups of flour, and I even added a bit more. But in doing so, I was scared to add too much flour and overwork the dough. I naively thought the dough was pulling away from the walls of the bowl… yeah, nope!

By the time I was stupidly kneading extremely wet dough (knowing this was completely wrong) and contemplating whether to try it all again, our friend stopped by to show Paul the new/old long board (surfboard) he had just bought. Well after the introduction of the board, we all sat down to catch up. Of course I asked, “Do you want some water or tea or a mimosa minus the orange juice?” Needless to say, we enjoyed a bottle of Costco’s finest proseco.

With all of that said, I did learn from my mistake. I learned that if I talk and sing to yeast before I “proof” it, it will happily sing back. No seriously, I learned not to be scared of yeast. It’s all about learning, making mistakes, and trying again. This is not my last round with this recipe.

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Rolls (recipe care of sallysbakingaddiction.com)

INGREDIENTS:

Rolls: 3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk, 1 packet instant yeast (1 packet = 2 and 1/4 teaspoons), 1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon (55g) granulated sugar (divided), 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons; 60g) unsalted butter (melted and slightly cooled), 1 large egg, 2 and 3/4 cups (345g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)

Filling: 5 Tablespoons (72g) unsalted butter (very soft), 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar

Icing: 1 and 1/4 cups (150g) confectioners’ sugar, 2 Tablespoons (30ml) pure maple syrup (or use 1 teaspoon vanilla extract), 2 Tablespoons (30ml) milk

DIRECTIONS:

Rolls: Make the dough: Warm the milk over on the stove over low heat or microwave it until lukewarm. No need to use a thermometer, but to be precise: about 95°F (35°C). Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or paddle attachment (OR you can use a handheld mixer). Whisk in the yeast and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Cover with a clean towel and let sit until the yeast is foamy, about 5-10 minutes. This is called proofing the yeast. If the yeast does not dissolve and foam, start over with fresh active yeast. On low speed, beat in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, salt, butter, egg, and 2 cups of flour until combined. The dough will be wet. While continuing to beat on low speed, add the remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time until a soft dough forms. Dough will be ready when it gently pulls away from the sides of the bowl. I usually use 2 and 3/4 cups flour total. **If you do not have a mixer, you can stir the dough by hand with a wooden spoon in this step. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, then knead for 1 minute. Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes. During this 10 minutes, line a 4 or 5 quart slow cooker with greased parchment paper. (I spray it with non-stick spray, but brushing oil or softened butter all over it works too.) If you have a larger slow cooker, that’s ok– just space the rolls out more. Make the filling: After 10 minutes, roll the dough out in a 14×8 inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter on top. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together, then sprinkle on top of the butter. Roll the dough up tightly, then cut into 10-12 even pieces and place them inside the lined slow cooker. Place a paper towel right under the lid of the slow cooker– this will help keep condensation off of the cooking rolls. Do not leave that step out and do not use a cloth towel. Turn your slow cooker on high speed and cook for 2 hours, or until the rolls are fully cooked through. It’s usually 2 hours, sometimes 2 hours and 15 minutes. Once they’re done, remove the rolls from the cooker right away by lifting out the parchment paper.

Icing: Make the icing: Right before serving, top your cinnamon rolls with glaze. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, and milk together until smooth. Add a little more milk if too thick. Drizzle over the warm rolls.

Rolls are best enjoyed the same day, but stay fresh covered tightly in the refrigerator for 5 days. Rolls (with or without icing) freeze well up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat up however you prefer.


Notes (from the baker)

  1. Overnight Instructions: This dough can be made the night before through step 3 and placed into a greased pie dish or cake pan. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and place each roll into the lined slow cooker. Then continue with the recipe. The rolls may take less time, around 1 and 1/2 hours.
  2. Quick Dough: This is a dough formulated to be “quick.” Make sure you are using an instant yeast. If using active dry yeast, the cook time will be longer.
  3. Golden Brown Tops: Looking for a golden brown and toasty top? Remove the cooked rolls from the slow cooker using the parchment paper to lift them out. Then, place the entire thing (the parchment paper and rolls) into an appropriate size pan. (If your slow cooker is round, a pie dish would be great.) Bake at 300°F (149°C) for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Slow Cooker: You’ll need a 4 or 5 quart slow cooker. Here is the one I own.
  5. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.

Cheddar Bacon Jalapeño Cornbread Loaf

It is by the grace of God that this loaf of cornbread actually turned out remotely like it should have. I’m not gonna lie to you, I got cocky and later very uncertain.

When I saw this recipe my mouth immediately started to water. Bacon, cheddar cheese, jalapeño all wrapped up in a cornbread? Yes please!

When I went to the store for the ingredients, I realized that it called for a cornbread and muffin mix. Now if y’all know me, you know that I have been brought up with a complete and utter disdain for mixes. Day Day, my mother, taught me that using mixes is NOT real baking. This simple opinion was ingrained in me and to this day I will not buy a mix.

So when I saw the mix listed among the ingredients I arrogantly thought, “Oh I can figure this out.” HA! Not so much.

The recipe called for self-rising flour which I don’t have so I made some (done this many times before and it’s always worked out perfectly). Confidence still in tact. However, the self-rising flour plus what I researched to be the ingredients and measurements of a cornbread mix may have taken it over the top. Absolute insecurity set in.

My beautiful cornbread came out with elephantiasis.

But with a little reconstructive surgery, it turned out to be a lovely treat. Serve this warm, slathering it with salted butter and you will be a very happy camper.

Cheddar Bacon Jalapeño Cornbread Loaf (recipe are of melissassouthernstylekitchen.com)

INGREDIENTS: 2 cup Martha White self-rising flour, 1 7 oz package Martha White Mexican Style Cornbread & Muffin mix, 1 Tbs chopped fresh chives, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 medium jalapeno pepper, 4 slices bacon cooked and crumbled, 1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 1 1/4 cup whole or 2% milk, 1/2 cup butter melted, 3 large eggs

DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Liberally spray a non-stick 9x5x4-inch loaf pan. Set aside. Sift together the flour, Mexican cornbread mix, chives, cumin and garlic powder. Cut 5 thin round slices from the jalapeno and set aside. Seed and chop the rest of the pepper. Add the chopped jalapeno, crumbled bacon, and 1 cup shredded cheese to the sifted dry ingredients. Mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter and eggs. By hand mix the wet into the dry ingredients stirring until fully moistened. Spread the dough into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with the remaining shredded cheese and arrange the jalapeno slices on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a long skewer inserted into the center shows moist crumbs. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Wrap tightly for storage or slice and serve immediately.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Cream

A lot of determination went into this morning’s baking experiment. It was riddled with obstacles, and I was close to throwing in the towel (pause for dramatic effect). But I persevered and dear Lord, was it worth it!

This cake is crazy delicious. I’m even gonna throw out the word scrumptious. It’s that good! Light, moist, and lemony. You can’t go wrong with that combination in a cake.

So here were the obstacles I faced (but really I caused the problems so I’m kinda laughing at myself)…

  1. I tore this recipe out of a BHG magazine that my mother-in-law gave me. When I saw the “Lemon Olive Oil Cake” I was sold. But I thought I was making the cake in the picture, “Lavendar Thyme Fluted Cake with Vanilla Creme Glaze.” Yeah, nope. That wasn’t the picture of the cake I wanted to make. Now if I had read the recipe before this morning I woulda known that, but do I every read the recipe beforehand? Rarely.
  2. I don’t have 6×2-inch round cake pans. Who has 6×2-inch round cake pans? That’s tiny! So I was faced with a tremendous dilemma (again, very dramatic). Will the cake still bake correctly if I use my normal sized 9×3-inch round cake pan? I decided to give it a go. Seriously, 6×2-inch???
  3. To share a bit of my reality, I have reached the ripe, old age that I now have to use readers. I have never needed glasses when baking, however do they have to make the print so small? I almost made a tactical error (dramatic) in measurements because I couldn’t tell the difference between 1/2 and 1/3. Stupid small magazine print. And yes, I’m talking as if I’m 98 years old.
  4. Apparently in all of my years of teaching children to tear paper precisely so that it would have a straight edge, I did not teach myself. I accidentally tore out the recipe with a jagged edge, and left a few of the ingredient amounts in the magazine. Oops!

With all of that said, the cake turned out beautifully! The cake is very pretty with flakes of lemon peel in the cream frosting. You can even pile curls of sugared lemon peel on top. It’s a very easy cake to make, and will no doubt be a crowd pleaser.

Notes:

* If you’re like me and have typical sized cake pans, you can still make this a layered cake. Once the cake is cool, run a good knife horizontally through the middle. Then place half the lemon cream on that layer, then gently place the second layer on top, topping it with the rest of the cream.

* I baked the cake in my 9×3-inch cake pan for 35-40 minutes and it turned out perfectly.

* Oh, and I used extra lemon peel in the cake. I would recommend you do the same.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Cream (recipe care of Better Homes & Garden)

INGREDIENTS:

Cake: 2 eggs, 1 cup (189 grams) sugar, 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ⅔ cup olive oil, 4 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel, ½ cup lemon juice, ½ cup buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, Edible flowers and/or berries to decorate (optional)

Lemon Cream: 1 cup ice-cold whipping cream, 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon peel, 2 teaspoons lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three 6 x 2-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper; grease the paper. Set pans aside. In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer about 5 minutes or until pale and thick ribbons form. In another large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl combine the olive oil, lemon peel, lemon juice, and buttermilk. Beat the vanilla into beaten egg mixture on low speed. With mixer on low speed, add the dry and wet ingredients in three additions, starting with dry and ending with wet. After the last addition, turn mixer off and whisk until combined. Divide batter among prepared pans, filling each half full (1 2/3 cups batter each). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centers comes out clean and cakes are golden and pull away from sides. Remove and cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool completely.

Lemon Cream: In a large bowl beat cream, sugar, peel, and juice with an electric mixer or large whisk until soft peaks form. Cover and chill up to 4 hours ahead. Whisk before serving.