July 14, 2010

Bread and Jam are a match made in heaven!

I love bread almost as much as I love sweats. I recently discovered this bread recipe that produces lovely crusty bread. It's fantastic and versatile. My Mother-In Law recently made some strawberry jam and shared a small jar with us. It was a perfect excuse to make some bread!

You will need a french/dutch oven as the baking vessel. Any will do, but we use the 5.5 quart french oven.

Here's the recipe:

6 cups flour (I've used all kinds and had success)
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp fresh rosemary (chopped) - optional
4 tsp lemon zest (chopped) - optional
3 1/4 cups water

In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, salt, rosemary and lemon zest. Add water and mix until blended. Cover with plastic wrap and allow dough to rest at room temerature until the top has developed bubbles (about 12 hours).

Place dough on lightly floured surface. Sprinkle some flour on top and your hands. Fold dough onto itself once or twice, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes.

Coat a smooth cotton towel with cornmeal. Shape dough into a ball and place onto cornmeal covered towel. Cover with another towel and let dough rise for two hours.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 degrees. 30 minutes prior to dough being ready, place french oven in the preheated oven. Carefully remove from oven. Slide one hand under towel and place dough in french oven. Return to the oven and bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using hand protection, turn pot and gently turn bread. It should release from french oven pretty easily.

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For this recipe I kept it simple, but the options are endless. I've made this bread using herbs (especially rosemary), wheat flour, white flour and I want to try it with garlic or parmesan cheese.

Smoking Kitchen

So....this past weekend we noticed a strange smell coming from our kitchen. It smelled (at first) like the smell your oven produces when it's on the clean setting. The smell suddenly changed and resembled more of an electrical fire scent. Not good! In addition to the foul odor, we now had a strange noise to go along with it. After investigating all of our appliances we discovered that it was our overhead kitchen light (we have the ghetto 70's style with the long bulbs and all). So we open the cover to the light and it's producing smoke! Eak! So we're without half our light. Luckily, half of it seems to be working alright. It was just half of the connection. In any event, our kitchen is dim and it was out of commission for a few days. I guess I'll have to attempt most of my baking adventures during the day.

July 10, 2010

Strawberry-Blueberry Crisp

This crisp was good, but it's a little too close to a delicious breakfast item for me. If you're a fruit dessert person you will love this.

For the filling you'll need:

Juice from about 1/2 large lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
1 1/2 pounds medium strawberries, halved
1 pound fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup brown sugar

For the topping you'll need:

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 by 9-inch baking dish (I used butter).

For the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together the lemon juice and corn starch. Add the strawberries, blueberries and brown sugar. Toss until the fruit is coated. Pour the fruit mixture into the prepared pan.

For the topping: in a food processor or blender, combine the flour, almonds, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse until mixed. Add the butter. Pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Sprinkle the mixture over the filling and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the top is light golden. If you like larger pieces, clump the topping in your fist before sprinkling it on top of the filling.

Serve with Vanilla Ice Cream or Whipped Cream. Yummmmm



July 8, 2010

Google me Pink!

As I searched for ideas to decorate cupcakes for my niece Rosalyn's upcoming birthday, I googled "pink cupcake" and... Wow! There are a TON of beautiful cupcakes out there. So now I have a week to make a decision. I already know what I want to do for the cupcakes themselves,(thank goodness) so now it's just up to decorating. Sprinkles, polka dots, roses, fondant, whipped cream, cream cheese, soft pink, hot pink? I'm not a super talented decorator, but it's always fun to try!
Some inspiration found on google...

Pinkys Cupcakes

I'll be sure to post pics when I'm all finished. Good or bad. :)

Research soundtrack: Bethenny Getting Married. lol

Coconut Pie

We frequently buy produce from bountiful baskets. If they have this in your area and you're a fan of fresh produce and good deals, I highly suggest checking them out. We've been actively participating for about 2 years (on and off) and we love it! Anyway, a few weeks ago we received a full coconut in our basket. Yes, an entire coconut! We had no idea what we were going to do with it, but we knew it had to be something fun. So my husband found a recipe for using a whole coconut for a pie and we were onto our first coconut adventure.

The recipe is Rick Bayless's Yucatecanstyle Fresh Coconut Pie. It's not a cream pie, but if you love coconut you'll love this!

Here's the actual recipe or you can view it here:


  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 ounces (about 5 slices) firm white bread, torn into pieces
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 medium size coconut with lots of liquid inside
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet in the oven stirring occasionally, until golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Cool; set 1/2 cup of the almonds aside. In a food processor; pulverize the remaining almonds with the sugar. Add the bread and pulse the machine until reduced to fine crumbs. Drizzle in the melted butter and pulse to mix thoroughly. Evenly pat the mixture over the bottom and sides of a 3/4-inch deep, 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Refrigerate several minutes to set. Twist a corkscrew (or dive an ice pick or screwdriver) into 2 of the coconut's "eyes" (the dark indentations on one end), then drain the trapped liquid into a cup (strain if it contains any bits of coconut shell). Place the coconut on a baking sheet and put into the oven for about 15 minutes to help loosen the flesh from the shell. With a hammer crack the coconut into several pieces, then use a small knife or screwdriver to pry the flesh from the shell. Use a paring knife or a vegetable peeler to peel away the dark brown skin. In a food processor (or, with determination and stamina, using a four-sided grater) grate the coconut into medium fine shreds. Measure out 2 1/2 cup s for the pie; reserve the remainder for the garnish. Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In a small (1 to 1 1/2 quart) saucepan, combine the coconut water, cream and sugar. Simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until reduced to 1 cup, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into a large bowl, then stir in the 2 1/2 cups of coconut, the reserved 1/2 cup almonds, the egg yolks and vanilla. Set the prepared crust onto a baking sheet, scoop in the coconut filling and bake in the middle of the oven until set and lightly browned on top, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. While the pie is baking, toast the reserved coconut on a baking sheet in the oven, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Cool the pie completely and slice. Place the pie back in the oven and heat for 10 minutes. Serve with sour cream.






I toasted the remaining coconut and added it to the top of the pie before returning it to the oven for the additional 10 minutes. That's about the only variation I made. This was foreign territory for me so I didn't want to make too many adjustments.

Baking Soundtrack: Husband cracking a coconut. :)

July 7, 2010

Cute Aprons

Does anyone have a super cute apron that you just love (or several)? I'm quickly realizing that I could be a girl who has a ton. I love them. There's the half apron, the full apron, pockets, no pockets. The options are endless. Is it too "50's housewife" to be a little obsessed with these adorable pieces of fabric? I don't think so. They're fun, stylish and can be inspiring. Here are a few I've found that I think are adorable.

Maybe I'll make my own cute apron someday???

Shopping soundtrack: Lady Gaga mixed in with some other high energy tunes that my Pandora Radio selected for me.

July 6, 2010

Love in the shape of a Circle

Love is...chocolate chip cookies. Silly? Yes. True? Absolutely. I love everything about them. Making them, eating them and sharing them. I have a recipe that my sister says is a "family" recipe, but I don't actually know that to be true. I have no evidence and it's possible that it came from an old cookbook my Mom had when I was younger. It's a nice idea, so we'll roll with it. As an adult, I've made this recipe hundreds of times (no joke) and I finally have it exactly how I want it.


Here's my method:

1 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 cups of flour
1/2 12 oz. package of chocolate chips (more if you like it super chocolaty. I love chocolate, but like my cookies with a little less than normal)
1 cup chopped walnuts if you'd like

In a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer) blend butter and sugars until well mixed. Add the baking soda and salt and mix until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add 2 cups of flour (slowly) and mix with blended ingredients. By hand (with a wooden spoon perhaps), mix in additional 1/2 to 1 cup of flour. You want the dough to be sticky, but formable. Mix in chocolate chips and nuts (if you go that route). Shape one inch pieces of dough into balls using the palms of your hand (this makes for perfect circles) and places evenly spaced on a cookie sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes at 375 degrees.

Here are a few things I do during the process:

~ I always use a wooden spoon to stir in the additional flour and chocolate chips (I know it's so old fashioned).
~ I usually end up using a healthy 2 1/2 cups of flour (meaning that 1/2 cup is overflowing).
~ I use a silicone baking mat on my cookie sheets and have found them to work very well.
~ I always check my cookies a minute or so before the timer goes off and take them out as soon as they are about to brown. I usually set the time to 7 minutes and check them at that time. I like soft cookies. If you like them crispy do not follow this idea.





I hope these work out for you and that you enjoy!


I put a few of the cookies into this cute package for a few friends who recently moved as a housewarming gift. I found the packaging at Michaels. Cute, huh?

Baking soundtrack: Collin Hay, Jack Johnson, Lisa Hannigan and Radiohead.

Finally...I have a name!

I have been thinking about creating a blog for some time now. I would bake/create something and want to share it, but I had a few issues slowing me down. The toughest part of creating my blog...finding a name! I wonder if a lot of people struggle with this. Everything I liked was taken or kind of awful. I bounced ideas off my hubby and they were either taken by another clever blogger, added to a list of possibilities or flat out rejected. I finally created a title that I liked, was actually available and voila, here I am in creative blog world. I guess I feel like there is a community out there with the same interests, curiosity and passion as me and I want to join. I want to be active, discuss, share, learn, inspire and be inspired (cheesy, I know!). Anyway, here goes...