Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Cinnamon Bread

Homemade bread is a lot easier than you might think and is well worth the effort. This is a simple recipe for a Cinnamon Swirl Bread. Eggs, milk, and sugar in the dough make this a wonderfully rich bread that is perfect for toasting.

For a real treat, slice it and use for making French Toast.

If you like raisins, add them to the cinnamon filling for a delicious Cinnamon Raisin Bread.

For a fancier presentation, you can also make 3 longer, narrower dough rolls and braid the rolls and then drizzle the baked braided loaf with a powdered sugar/milk glaze.

This recipe makes three regular loaves or two braided loaves.

RECIPE:

Cinnamon Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

1 Tbs yeast
¼ cup warm (but not hot) water
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 tsp salt
2 cups milk, scalded**
7 – 7½ cups flour
2 eggs
3 Tbs butter, softened
3 Tbs cinnamon
6 Tbs sugar
3 tsp water

Mix yeast with ¼ cup water. Set aside. Place ½ cup sugar, ½ cup butter and salt in a large mixing bowl; pour scalded milk over the mixture. Stir until butter is melted. Use a dough hook to mix in 3 cups of flour. Add eggs and continue mixing. Add the softened yeast and mix until smooth. Add enough remaining flour until you have a soft, kneadable dough. Knead dough into a smooth ball.

Place dough in an oiled bowl; turn dough over to coat both sides. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled.

Mix 3 Tbs cinnamon and 6 Tbs sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into 3 rectangles. Spread 1 Tbs butter on each rectangle and sprinkle each with 3 Tbs cinnamon/sugar mixture. Sprinkle 1 tsp of water over the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Roll into loaves; seal ends and place in greased bread pans. Cover and let rise one hour.

Bake at 375°F for 35 minutes. If the tops start to get too brown, cover loosely with foil. Remove from pans, brush tops with butter, and cool on rack.

Makes 3 medium loaves

**TO SCALD MILK: Heat milk in pan over medium heat until small bubbles form around edge of pan and milk just begins to boil. Or microwave until milk just begins to boil.

OPTIONAL: Sprinkle dough with ¼ cup raisins before rolling.

BRAIDED CINNAMON BREAD: After dough rises first time, divide into 2 pieces. From each piece make 3 long, narrow rectangles. Spread with butter, cinnamon, sugar; sprinkle with water. Roll each rectangle and seal ends and edge. Braid the three loaves (keep seam sides down), pinching both ends to seal. Bake on a greased baking sheet at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. Cover loosely with foil if it is browning too quickly. Glaze with a powdered sugar/milk icing. Makes 2 braided loaves.

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Thai Green Curry

Thai Green Curry

After spending the month of February with temperatures in the 70s, we are having a brief cold snap. Perfect weather for a bowl of hot Thai Green Curry. Although around here, any temperature is good weather for a delicious curry.

Curry pastes vary widely in their spiciness. My favorite green curry paste is this variety from Maesri. It is, however, extremely spicy. As you are adding your curry paste to the broth, add in small amounts,  tasting before adding additional paste, until you reach your desired spice tolerance.

Green Curry Paste

RECIPE:

Thai Green Curry

Thai Green Curry

about 3 Tbs coconut oil, divided
3-4 Thai eggplant, cubed (or 1 medium zucchini, cubed)
½ cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup diagonally sliced asparagus
3-4 Tbs green curry paste (divided)
1 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced
2 cans coconut milk
1 cup water (or Swanson Thai ginger broth)
1 Tbs fish sauce
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 red chilies, thinly sliced
1 package firm tofu, cubed
¼ cup Thai basil leaves, sliced
Lime wedges
Hot cooked rice

Heat 1 Tbs coconut oil in a large pot. Add eggplant to hot oil and cook for 3 minutes (eggplant will not be completely cooked). Remove eggplant from pan and set aside. If necessary, add an additional tablespoon of oil to the pot and cook mushrooms and asparagus for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Set aside in a separate bowl from the eggplant. Add 1 Tbs coconut oil and 1 Tbs curry paste to the pot. Cook until fragrant. Add chicken to pot and cook until outside is no longer pink, but chicken is not completely cooked.

Add coconut milk and water to the pot with the chicken and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in partially cooked eggplant, fish sauce, brown sugar, salt, red chilies and tofu. Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until chicken and eggplant are cooked through.  (If using zucchini, instead of eggplant, do not return to the curry until just before serving).

Add additional curry paste until desired level of spiciness is reached (add in small amounts and taste after each addition). Return asparagus and mushrooms to the curry. Add additional water if curry is too thick.

Stir in sliced basil leaves just before serving. Serve with lime wedges over hot rice, if desired.

Makes 8-10 servings

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Beef Enchiladas

Beef Enchiladas 2

Beef Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce. These are a definite kid pleaser, and so much better than the frozen variety.

These are also perfect for make-ahead dinners. Prepare the individual enchiladas and freeze on a baking sheet. Put the frozen enchiladas into a Ziploc bag and return to the freezer. Then pull out as many as you want to cook on a busy night and bake them frozen (no thawing needed).

Beef Enchiladas 1

RECIPE:

Beef Enchiladas 2

Beef Enchiladas

1 ½ lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 ½ Tbs homemade taco seasoning (recipe below)
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt (omit if taco seasoning is very salty)
8 flour or 12 corn tortillas (heat or fry corn tortillas to soften)
3 cups shredded cheddar or cheddar Jack cheese (save 1 cup for top)
Enchilada Sauce (recipe below)
Toppings: Diced avocado, sour cream, salsa, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13” baking dish with nonstick spray.

Prepare Enchilada Sauce.

Brown ground beef and onion in a large skillet until cooked through. Stir in taco seasoning, garlic powder, salt and ½ cup of the prepared Enchilada Sauce. Cook for 5-6 minutes over low heat.

Spread about ½ cup of Enchilada Sauce on bottom of baking dish. Place about 1/3 cup (for corn tortillas) – ½ cup (for flour tortillas) down the center of each tortilla. Top with shredded cheese. Wrap the tortilla around the filling and place seam-side down in the baking pan. Pour remaining Enchilada Sauce over filled enchiladas.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Top with additional 1 cup cheese and bake 5 minutes more, or until cheese is melted.

**TO FREEZE: Prepare filled enchiladas, but do not top with sauce. Place enchiladas, not touching, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, then place in Ziploc bags. Freeze sauce separately in a Ziploc bag. Enchiladas do not need to be thawed before cooking.

Enchilada Sauce
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbs flour
1 Tbs chili powder
1-1 ½ Tbs Homemade Taco Seasoning (recipe below), or use substitution below
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can chicken broth
½ Tbs brown sugar
½ tsp salt

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and stir constantly until flour just begins to brown. Whisk in chili powder and taco seasoning. Whisk for 1 minute and then stir in tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar and salt. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

Taco Seasoning Substitution: 1 Tbs chili powder, ¼ tsp each: ground cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix
1 ½ cups chili powder
4 Tbs paprika (Spanish smoked or regular)
2 Tbs coarse kosher salt
2 Tbs black pepper
2 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs onion powder
2 Tbs ground cumin
2 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs Ancho chili pepper
1 Tbs crushed red pepper flakes
½ Tbs ground cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients and store at room temperature in an airtight container. Use about 2 Tbs of seasoning per pound of meat. Makes about 2 ½ cups.

Note: Adjust amount of crushed red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper to make milder or spicier

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Apricot Glazed Chicken

Apricot Chicken 1

You know those days when you run from one activity to another, and before you know it everyone is starving and you haven’t thought about dinner yet? Apricot Glazed Chicken is made for those days. This recipe is one of my favorite go-to last minute dinners. And it helps that it is always a hit with the kids.

The glaze is a simple mix of apricot jam, soy sauce and a few spices. Brown some chicken breasts or tenderloins in a skillet, pour on the glaze and cook for 5 minutes. Add a little rice and dinner is served!

A perfect meal for the dinner procrastinator!

I have also made this chicken with this homemade Peach Vanilla Jam.

Apricot Chicken 2

RECIPE:

Apricot Chicken 1

Apricot Glazed Chicken

2 Tbs olive oil
4 chicken breasts, or 1 lb chicken tenderloins
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
Hot cooked rice

Glaze:
½ cup apricot jam
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp fresh grated ginger (or ¼ tsp ground ginger)
½ tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp crushed red peppers
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken to skillet and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cook until well browned.

Combine glaze ingredients and pour over chicken. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and glaze thickens slightly.

Serve over hot steamed rice.

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Roasted Greek Chicken Salad

Greek Chicken 1

Looking for a lighter dinner that isn’t bland and boring?

This roasted Greek chicken with onions and peppers and homemade tzatziki is sure to please everyone in the family. You can eat it over a bed of lettuce or stuffed inside of pita bread.

I like to roast the chicken, peppers and onions in the oven to get nice crispy charred edges, but you could also cook them in a skillet.

Greek Chicken 3

Homemade pita bread and hummus is great served with this salad. Instructions can be found HERE.

Tzatziki is a garlic yogurt dip with grated cucumber and dill. It is a great topper for this salad.

Greek Chicken 2

RECIPE:

Greek Chicken 1

Roasted Greek Chicken Salad

Marinade:
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs Greek seasoning (or 2 tsp oregano + 1 tsp thyme)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

4 boneless chicken breasts, diced
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
Feta cheese, crumbled
Tzatziki
Hummus
Pita bread, cut into wedges

Mix marinade ingredients in a Ziploc bag. Add diced chicken to marinade in bag. Refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight. Drain chicken in a colander; discard marinade.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place chicken and sliced onion and red pepper on the baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables just begin to char. Broil for 1-2 minutes at the end of cooking time, if needed.

To cook in a skillet: Sauté in large skillet for 5 minutes; drain any excess liquid. Continue to cook until chicken is cooked through and beginning to brown. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside. Heat 1 Tbs oil in skillet. Add peppers and onions to skillet; cook until tender. Return chicken to skillet and heat through.

Serve over lettuce with feta cheese, tzatziki, hummus and pita bread wedges. Chicken can also be eaten inside of pitas with hummus, tzatziki and feta cheese.

Tzatziki
½ large seedless cucumber (or 2 mini cucumbers)
2 cups whole-fat plain Greek yogurt (Fage Total 4% brand is great)
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dill
Dash white pepper
Salt

Grate cucumber (unpeeled), sprinkle with salt and drain in a colander until most of the liquid leeches out. Pat dry with a paper towel. Combine yogurt and cucumber with remaining ingredients. Add additional salt (about ¼-½ tsp) to taste. Refrigerate several hours to blend flavors.

Pita Bread
2 ½ tsp instant yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Additional flour for kneading, if necessary

If you have a baking stone, place it (ungreased) in the oven while preheating (if you are using a regular baking sheet, place in oven only 1 min before adding bread). Preheat oven to 475°F for at least 15-20 minutes.

Combine all  ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix well and then knead until smooth and elastic, adding additional flour if needed until dough doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into 12 small balls. Leave in covered bowl. Roll 1 or 2 dough balls into circles about 6-inches across and ¼-inch thick. Place on hot baking stone, one or two at a time. Cook 2 minutes, or until dough puffs up. Turn over and cook about 1 minute longer. Remove from baking stone with a spatula. Place on a plate and flatten pita slightly with spatula (don’t completely flatten, or insides will stick together). Cover with a towel while other pitas are cooking.

Cut in half and fill to eat. Or cut  into wedges and serve with hummus and/or tzatziki for dipping.

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Cookies by Julias: Valentine Shortbread Cookies

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2 Julias + 1 day off of  school = Tons of cookie fun

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These 2 cute girls wanted to bake cookies on their day off of school, and since one of them is allergic to eggs, they decided to make shortbread cookies. But traditional rectangles were way too boring, so they went with hearts. And chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

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And once the chocolate melting and dipping started, their creative juices really got flowing!

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If you are looking for more traditional shortbread cookies, you can always go with plain-old-boring-rectangles:

shortbread-1

 

RECIPE:

2017-01-27 14.43.28

Valentine Shortbread Cookies

2 cups butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
4 ½ cups flour
Dark chocolate and/or colored candy melts

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Make sure that butter is very soft, but not melted. Cream butter and brown sugar with a mixer for 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and salt. Gradually add flour, mixing well.

Lightly sprinkle flour on a pastry board or mat. Gently press or roll dough until dough is about 1/3” thick (dough will be softer than a normal cut-out cookie dough). Use a heart cookie cutter to cut out shapes and use a thin metal spatula to transfer hearts to ungreased cookie sheets, leaving a small space between cookies.

Bake at 325°F for  about 20 minutes. Do not brown. Cool on a wire rack.

In a small microwave safe bowl, melt about 1 cup chopped chocolate in microwave by cooking in 30 second increments, stirring after each heating, until completely melted. Dip cookies as desired. To drizzle chocolate, place chocolate or candy melts in a Ziploc bag and cook for 30 seconds in microwave. Squish bag and repeat as needed until melted. Use a toothpick or skewer to poke a small hole in one corner of the bag and drizzle melted chocolate over cookies.

Place cookies on parchment paper or wax paper to harden. You can chill them in the refrigerator, if desired, to speed up the setting of the chocolate. Higher quality dark chocolate will take longer to harden than the candy melts.

Makes 2 ½ – 3  dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutter.

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Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce and Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce and Cinnamon Whipped Cream 2

Traditional gingerbread –the cake, not the cookie, although those are good too — is one of my favorite desserts, but one I hardly ever get to eat. Gingerbread just feels like it should only be a Christmas dessert, and there are always so many treats around Christmas time, that this fabulously simple dessert sometimes gets bumped from the menu.

I think gingerbread should get a whole season of love, not just a single holiday at the busiest time of year. Pumpkin gets a full four months of love; gingerbread should get the same respect.

Gingerbread is a simple to make cake that is great alone, but also pairs wonderfully with a tart lemon sauce and cinnamon flavored whipped cream.

 

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce and Cinnamon Whipped Cream 4

RECIPE:

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce and Cinnamon Whipped Cream 2

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce and Cinnamon Whipped Cream
(adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

Gingerbread:
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup molasses (NOT blackstrap: or use ½ cup blackstrap + ½ cup corn syrup)
1 tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
1 cup very hot water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9X13-inch baking pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until well blended. Add the egg, molasses and vanilla and mix again.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a separate bowl and use a whisk to mix well. Add to mixing bowl and mix well. Add the hot water and beat until smooth. Batter will be thin.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don’t overbake or the gingerbread will be dry.

Serve the gingerbread warm or at room temperature with lemon sauce and/or cinnamon whipped cream.

Cinnamon Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup powdered sugar


In a medium bowl, begin beating the whipped cream and vanilla until soft peaks form. Add the cinnamon and powdered sugar and beat until medium-stiff peaks form. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Lemon Sauce:
1 ½ cups sugar
3 Tbs cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups cold water
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
5 egg yolks
2-3 tsp grated lemon zest
2 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan, use a whisk to mix sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in water and lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks until well mixed and then mix into saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Stir in lemon zest, butter and vanilla. Cook until butter melts and then remove from heat. Serve warm.

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8th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Recap

Here is a quick recap of our yearly baking madness! Scroll to the end for links to even more cookie deliciousness.

A very Merry Christmas to family and friends far and near!

Snow Capped Christmas Trees

DAY ONE: Snow Capped Christmas Trees

 Chocolate Toffee Cookies

DAY TWO: Chocolate Fudge Toffee Cookies

Cinnamon Pecans 2

DAY THREE: Cinnamon Pecans

 Molasses Crinkles

DAY FOUR: Molasses Crinkles

 Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

DAY FIVE: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

 Butter Pecan Spiced Cookies

DAY SIX: Butter Pecan Spiced Cookies

 Nutella Fudge

DAY SEVEN: Nutella Fudge

 Stained Glass Christmas Cookies

DAY EIGHT: Stained Glass Christmas Cookies

 Almond Toffee Triangles 2

DAY NINE: Almond Toffee Triangles

 Cream Cheese Mints 
DAY TEN: Cream Cheese Mints

 Maple Cream Sandwich Cookies

DAY ELEVEN: Maple Cream Sandwich Cookies  

 Homemade Caramels

DAY TWELVE: Homemade Caramels

 

#LIGHTtheWORLD

 

More Christmas Cookies and Treats:

1st Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2009)

2nd Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2010)

3rd Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2011)

4th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2012)

5th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2013)

6th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2014)

7th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2015)

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (and Treats): Easy Homemade Caramels

Homemade Caramels

DAY 12: Homemade Caramels

Soft and chewy homemade caramels. This recipe uses sweetened condensed milk, so they come together faster than starting with a true caramelized sugar base. This method also produces very consistent results, with little chance of gritty caramels or seizing.

If you don’t have (or don’t want to use) sweetened condensed milk, try this recipe for Salted Caramel Sauce, and cook it to about 245°F.

The hardest part of making these is not popping one in your mouth every time you walk past their container.

This recipe (cooked to a lower temperature, about 235°F) can also be used to make a homemade filling for these Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints:

DSC05126-2

RECIPE:

Homemade Caramels

Homemade Caramels

1 cup unsalted butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups brown sugar (light or dark)
1 cup light corn syrup
2 Tbs heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract, or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
½ tsp sea salt

Line an 8×8” pan with parchment paper, allowing the paper to hang over the edge on 2 sides.

Combine butter, sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, corn syrup and heavy cream in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Place a candy thermometer on the side of the pan. Reduce heat to medium low, maintaining a low but continuous simmer, until caramel reaches 245°F, stirring occasionally. This will take about 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.

Pour hot caramel into lined pan (do not scrape the sides of the cooking pan when you pour it into the square pan). Cool, uncovered, at room temperature until completely cooled and firm. Remove from pan and cut into pieces. Wrap individual pieces in waxed paper.

 

CARAMEL FILING OR SAUCE: To use as a filling for thumbprint cookies, or as a caramel sauce, cook caramel to 235°F (soft ball stage) for caramel filling, or slightly lower for a caramel sauce.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Maple Cream Sandwich Cookies

Maple Cream Sandwich Cookies

DAY 11: Maple Cream Sandwich Cookies

Today’s cookie is a bow to the Canadian heritage here in our home.

Tiny maple cookies filled with a maple cream cheese frosting. You could always make them bigger, but I love these cute little bite-sized cookies.

My big mistake with these cookies, however, was in thinking that my cookie cutter was symmetrical. Turns out it is not quite the same on both sides! (As you can see if you look closely at the top of the cookies.) This didn’t bother my kids at all. They all disappeared before any made it onto cookie trays.

Lesson for next time: if your cookie cutter is not perfectly symmetrical, before baking, flip half of your cookies over. Then you can put the back-sides of two different cookies together and your edges will line up.

Maple Cream Sandwich Cookies 2

 

RECIPE:

Maple Cream Sandwich Cookies

Maple Cream Sandwich Cookies
—–
(adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2005):

Maple Cookies:
2 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp maple extract

Maple Cream Cheese Filling:
4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbs pure maple syrup
½ tsp maple extract
¼ tsp salt
2 cups powdered sugar

Cookies:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and maple extract until combined.

Add flour gradually and mix until just blended. Divide dough into two balls and flatten each ball into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap (or place in a Ziploc bag) and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about ¼”. Use small maple leaf cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Place cookies on prepared sheets.

Note: If your cookie-cutter is not perfectly symmetrical,  turn half of your cookies upside down before baking.

Bake for 8-10 minutes (exact time will depend on size and thickness of cookies). Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool.

Filling:
In a mixing bowl, beat butter, cream cheese, maple syrup, maple extract and salt until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in powdered sugar.

Spread the backside of cooled cookie with about ½ Tbs filling.  Top with another cookie. (If cookies are not symmetrical, be sure to pair cookies with their inverted match.)

 

Makes about 3 dozen sandwich cookies (using a 2” cookie cutter)

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