Archive for December, 2011


It’s been a long time since I made homemade bread that wasn’t made in a bread machine. It seems to take forEVER, and there is too much waiting time involved. I’m impatient and busy. I’m not very good at waiting, and some days I just can’t afford to be unproductive.

I remember the smell of the house during my childhood when Mom would make dinner rolls. It was so tantalizing it made my stomach growl! When I saw Kelli’s post for Honey Oatmeal Bread on her blog Can Cook, Will Travel, I could just imagine the wonderful smells that would fill my house.

Baking bread requires time and attention, which is one of the reasons I don’t make it often. It’s not like popping something in the crock pot and turning it on or putting brownies in the oven for 25 minutes. Bread is a commitment. It’s a hurry-up-and-wait project that requires you to be available when the bread calls.

I'm the Queen of Everything in my kitchen!

Christmas morning I planned to be home, and it would be a guilt-free day if I didn’t get anything done, so what better time to bake bread? I put on my “Queen of Everything” apron and got started! (Click for recipe.) Kelli’s got the baking step-by-step covered on her blog. Below is how MY step-by-step went!

Mix up the bread dough, put it in a greased bowl on the stove for an hour to rise. [Run downstairs and jump on the elliptical for an episode of The Big Bang Theory, then do some heavy bag work for a couple of commercials. Run back upstairs and finish wrapping Christmas presents.]

Punch the dough down, flip it out on a floured surface, cover it with the bowl and let it rise another 15 minutes. [Do a little clean-up in the kitchen, run downstairs and move the laundry from washer to dryer, come back up and check email.]

Divide the dough into two loaves, cover and place on the stove for another hour for final rising. [Pull some shrimp out of the freezer for dinner, take a shower, try once again to decide on a shade of blue paint for the bathroom, read over tonight’s Fettuccine Alfredo recipe.]

Bake the bread for 35 minutes. [Open Christmas presents with The Pretty One. Admire the delightful pink shoes he gave me, take silly pictures by the tree.]

Pull bread from oven and let cool. [Mix up Cinnamon Honey Butter, make the Fettuccine Alfredo, broil the blackened shrimp.]

It’s true, baking bread is time consuming; it takes 3 – 4 hours. But as I discovered, with a little focus and coordination those can be very productive hours. And the payoff? Besides the workout and small tasks I completed during the waiting period? Two loaves of slightly sweet oatmeal bread with a dense texture and a makes-you-drool smell! You can’t get bread like this in the bakery unless you get it straight out of the oven, and how often does that happen? Slice into a warm loaf, slather on a little butter and savor the goodness. If you have leftovers, slice it up in the morning for toast or dip it in a cinnamon egg mixture for a hearty French toast. Top with fresh fruit, and you have a delicious (and healthy) start to your day! 

Steam rises from a freshly baked loaf.

Every once in a while I try to be a nice mom and send The Pretty One back to college with food. I’d hate to see the kid starve, ya know? Besides, it gives me a chance to make a batch of something I wouldn’t want to eat all by myself, like chili or pot roast.

When I found this recipe for Oreo-Cocoa Krispies Treats on www.culinaryconcoctionsbypeabody.com,  I thought, “Oreos and cocoa krispies stuck together with marshmallowy goodness? Yes please!” (Click for recipe.)

I prefer Golden Original Oreos, but The Pretty One likes the traditional Oreo sandwich cookie, so I set out to buy the original cookies. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find the Double Stuf Heads or Tails cookies — half traditional, half Golden Original — and decided to use those. I thought they might lighten up the chocolate-ness of the recipe, since chocolate flavored crisped rice is used instead of regular crisped cereal. Wow. I can’t believe I thought the chocolate factor needed to be reduced in something. I must have had a fever at the time.

Anyway, other than substituting the Heads or Tails cookies for the traditional cookies, I actually followed the recipe, which is unusual for me. Since it was a new recipe, I had to taste-test them before they left the house. How would I know if they were any good or not if I didn’t? Turns out the hardest part of making this recipe was not eating them all myself. They’re really good! I managed to eat only one strip of the treats before they headed off to college, but I’m looking for an excuse to try them again!

Holiday Eggnog Cake

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is eggnog. I love eggnog! It’s creamy, festive, and spiced with one of my favorite flavors – nutmeg. 

I make an Eggnog Quick Bread recipe around the holidays that never fails me. So when I saw the Holiday Eggnog Cake with Apricot Filling recipe in Anne Byrn’s The Cake Mix Doctor Returns! I had to try it.

I made a few tweaks to the recipe to accommodate my taste: French Vanilla cake mix, canola oil instead of vegetable oil, strawberry-blackberry preserves instead of apricot fruit spread, and of course more nutmeg! (Click for recipe.)

The result was a delicious holiday treat that makes a nice finish to a special meal or a tasty addition to a holiday dessert buffet! For something simpler, this Eggnog Quick Bread is a great option. http://bit.ly/sHR2tw I’ve got more eggnog in my frig, and I can’t wait to bake another eggnog / nutmeg treat!

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