Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ricotta Cheese - You can do it!

 Ricotta cheese is the second easiest cheese to make. The easiest is Queso Fresco, but this is a very close second. I've been getting a lot of questions lately about how I make cheese. I can give out all my recipes for cheese except one; it's not my recipe to give out. So I'll give you a recipe for my Ricotta. This can go in stuffed manicotti, pizza, lasagna, and even spaghetti. The only hitch to this recipe is you will need citric acid. Citric acid is available at some health food stores, sometimes with the canning stuff in stores, and you can always contact me and I can sell you some. It is relatively inexpensive. You can also order it from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. So really, there's no excuse for not giving this a try...

Ricotta - Recipe from Home Cheesemaking by Ricki Carroll

1 gallon whole milk (can not be ultra pasteurized or it will not work)
1 tsp. citric acid dissolved in 1/4 c. cool distilled water (yes it needs to be distilled, boil tap water if you have to)
1 tsp. cheese salt (optional, you can use plain, non iodized salt as well, I do not add the salt as I'd rather salt the meal instead)

Yes, really, that's it!

So first gather your ingredients and cooking gear. Make sure your measuring spoons, cups, and pot are very clean.

Put your milk in a large saucepan (the one you cook lots of spaghetti in.) Get out a 1/4c. measuring cup. Put 1 tsp. of citric acid in the measuring cup then fill up half way with distilled water. Mix the water and acid together until dissolved. Then finish filling up the measuring cup. Pour the citric acid mix in the milk. If you want to salt the cheese, add the salt too.

 Stir the milk up really good to get it all mixed up. Start heating the milk up on medium-low (my gas stove gives 1-7 and I heat it up on 2) and stir often. You don't want any milk to stick to the bottom.

Heat the milk up to between 185 and 195 degrees. I usually go to 190. Just make sure you don't boil it. As you heat the milk, you will see the curds gradually begin to form. Don't do the happy dance yet! Keep stirring it often until you see the curds and the whey separate.

The whey has a yellowish color - not white. When you get that separation, turn off the heat. Cover the pot and leave it alone for 10 minutes. Seriously, don't touch it.
The curds have sat and are now ready to separate.
Put some butter muslin (or an old pearl-snap-type-shirt) in a colander in the sink.

 Carefully ladle the curds into the colander. Once you've got it in, gather the corners of the cloth and tie them in a knot. Hang the cloth on your faucet to drip and drain for 20-30 minutes.

 The time difference will be determined by if you want your cheese real dry or slightly creamy.

After that small wait, you are ready to go. Grab a chunk and chow down. If you want to keep it for a recipe, put it in a covered container in the fridge. It will stay good for a week.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Cream Cheese Mints

This all started with Kylie and her OCD. She went to a birthday sleepover party at a hotel last year. They were the only ones in the hotel and apparently the staff was bored. They made the gals cookies and gave out a crazy amount of hotel mints. And the girl got obsessed. She wanted me to figure out how to make them and so I started to try to find something we could both live with as "mint" isn't my favorite flavor - especially for candy. I found this old recipe and we love it. Kylie has made these and sold them at school and when we made them for Antique Alley last April, she sold out. Yep, mints that are that good!
These are pretty easy to make, they just require some counter space overnight.
Cream Cheese Mints
1 pkg.  (8 oz.) cream cheese
1/4 c. soft butter
2 lbs. powdered sugar
few drops food coloring
1/2 tsp. peppermint, wintergreen, or lemon extract
So first you need to combine the cream cheese and butter in a pan.

 Melt it over low heat, stirring til the cheese is soft and the butter melted and blended.

 Add the powdered sugar.

 Stir til well combined. Add the food color and flavoring of your choice. If you want, you can divide the whole batch to make it 2 or 3 different colors and either flavor each color differently or just have one flavor with different colors. Either way, mix it up really good.
 Roll up the mix into 1" balls and put them on wax paper. Press the ball with a fork. Now, this makes a lot, so think ahead before you start rolling the balls. I get out lots of cookie sheets and put the wax paper on those so that I can move the candy around while it is drying if the sheets are in the way.

  Let stand, uncovered until each candy is dry on the outside and firm to the touch. You do want the inside to still be moist and creamy. The drying time is just going to depend on how thin you squash them with a fork. I usually let them dry overnight and they've always been great. I'd think it'd take at least 4 hours for thin mints. So make them a day ahead of when you need them.
 These are great for parties or kids' school lunches. We've wrapped them in plastic wrap and frozen them. When we want them (for lunches) I sit them in the fridge to defrost.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The easiest, most fabulous Chocolate Cake

I think the most universal attribute of all people is a love for chocolate. Now, I will admit that I'm not obsessed with chocolate like most people - give me some salty tortilla chips and a loaded baked potato and I'm yours! - but I still can appreciate chocolate. Kylie (my self proclaimed center of the universe) has a serious chocolate problem. This recipe was my answer to her constant complaints for a chocolate dessert. I don't have a lot of extra time around here. Many times I don't get a chance to relax until well past dark so I don't have much extra time to make dessert. This is for all of you who don't have time to bake, don't have the confidence to bake, or just want a real easy chocolate cake that will have your friends begging for the recipe.

Chocolate Cake

3 c. all purpose flour
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 c. cold water
2/3 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a big bowl, mix it all together until well combined.

(Seriously, so easy, it's ridiculous.) Pour it into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.

Bake for 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

You have several ways you can serve this:

warm with vanilla ice cream (my toes just curled)

warm with powdered sugar sprinkled on top

cold with powdered sugar

cold or warm by itself

straight from the fridge at 1 am with a fork in one hand and the pan in the other

Make this today and thank me tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 2012 Daring Bakers' Challenge - Challah

Sorry guys, we are experiencing severe problems with out internet. Basically, we want it to work and it doesn't go our way. Not sure why the cows thought the phone line would taste good, but they were convinced and I hope they're bitterly disappointed. Anyway, here is the May challenge. Not as fun or tasty as Nazook, but what could be?

The "deal" with challah is the braid. There is a three strand braid (what I did), a four strand braid, a six strand braid, and a four strand round braid. There might be more. There is religious/ spiritual significance to each type of braid. I'd tell ya about them all, but I won't even pretend to know that much about it.

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from "A Taste of Challah," by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

Here's a recipe you can try:

Easy Challah (from

4 cups (960 ml) (360 gm/20 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
1 package (2¼ teaspoons) (11¼ ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) package rapid rise yeast
½ (120 ml) (115 gm/4 oz) cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water

Directions: 1. Measure flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer) combine water and yeast, allow to sit 5 minutes until foamy.
3. Add 1 ½ cups of the flour mixture to the water and yeast mixture, beat until well combined. Cover with a dish towel, let stand 30 min.
4. Add two eggs to the dough, beat again.
5. By hand or with your dough hook knead in the remaining flour mixture. Knead approximately 10 minutes.
6. Transfer to oiled bowl, cover, let rise one hour.
7. Punch down dough, knead approximately 3 minutes.
8. Divide dough in two. Shape each half as desired (3, 4, or 6 strand braid).
9. Place loaves on parchment covered or greased cookie sheets, cover with a towel, allow to rise one hour.
10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
11. Brush loaves with egg wash.
12. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, bake until golden crust forms (about 25-30 minutes).
13. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Here's what mine looked like. My egg wash was on the watery side and someone thought it should be "patted down" (mishap that we won't talk about, well, yeah I will - thanks a lot for your help Jake!), but it still tasted good!

And no, the tomatoes in the background have nothing to do with challah. This was just the tomatoes that had been picked in the garden today and since they are so pretty (and tasty too) I thought they'd be a better background than a bare countertop.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

So my incredibly talented and artistic son, Zach, made me the best Mother's Day card. He did it in a way that screams "Zach". He made it out of Lego's!

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream Sauce

   I am such a fan of Mexican food that it has really become an obsession. My favorite restaurant is El Campesino in Grandview. The food is fantastic and the people that work there are so nice that they make you feel like you are sitting down at the family table when you have a meal. Chicken Enchiladas are hands down one of my favorite dishes. The tender bites of chicken with a mild sauce just make my toes curl.
   I used to go out to eat with my dad quite often to eat Mexican food. Mom was out of town as a flight attendant and Heaven forbid we cook too often. I always had a play practice and he had to work. So we ate Mexican food. If we went to On The Border it was always fajitas, but anywhere else and it was chicken enchiladas all the way!
   I have tried almost every recipe out there for the sour cream sauce, many of which were incredibly disappointing. My neighbor, Ginger, gave me this recipe and technique, so enjoy it like I do. If you want you can make extra and either freeze it, put it in the fridge for the next day, or let the kids take it to school for lunches and make their friends jealous.

Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream Sauce

1 whole uncooked chicken
3 cans of Mild Green Chili Enchilada Sauce (I use mild because my kids are wimps, use the heat
your family likes)
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 c. of sour cream (or more to taste)
corn tortillas
shredded cheese (I make my own; your can use Cheddar, Colby, Monterrey Jack, or any combo)

Don't ya like how technical and exact this recipe is?

So first you want to boil your chicken in a big pot of water til it's done. I like to add chicken bouillon and Sazon Goya spice to the water to give it a little kick. If you don't have that, then it's fine to not use it. After the chicken is done, set the chicken in a bowl or on a plate to cool. SAVE THE BROTH!
 (I skim the fat off the top of the broth and save as much of the broth as possible. It's great for soup, mashed potatoes, and rice.)
  Once the chicken is cool enough to touch, shred it off the bone and put your chicken in a separate bowl.

Then you want to mix up your enchilada sauce, sour cream, and soup in a bowl. Set that bowl aside. In another bowl, put your shredded cheese in. You want to get the cheese out of the bowl instead of the bag because your hands are going to be dirty and you don't want to get sauce on cheese that you want to use another time.  You are going to want to make an assembly line on your counter top. Get a 9x13 baking dish and lightly spray it with cooking spray. Spread a little sauce on the bottom of the pan. You are just wanting to make sure that none of the enchiladas stick to the pan when you try to take them out.  Beside that pan you need a clean plate.
  Put about 16 corn tortillas wrapped in paper towels in a tortilla warmer and cook on hi for about 2 minutes. You want the tortillas to be soft so that when you roll them up, they don't crack. If they start to crack, warm them up some more. (If you don't have a tortilla warmer, wrap the tortillas in paper towels and place a bowl upside down over the tortillas in the microwave. We are trying to steam them a bit.

  So your assembly line will have your baking dish, a plate to work on, your tortillas, a bowl of chicken, a bowl of sauce, and a bowl of cheese.
  The first thing you do is grab a tortilla and dip both sides in sauce, then lay it on your plate.
Now take some chicken and put it in a strip down the middle of the tortilla. Then put a pile of cheese on the chicken.

Tightly roll up the tortilla around the filling and place it in the baking dish seam side down. Repeat for the rest. The number of enchiladas you will have will depend on how much filling you put in and how tightly you roll.
When you have the pan filled, pour the sauce over the top. Sometimes I use all the sauce and sometimes I don't. You don't want to make a soup of your dish, but you want plenty of sauce for your enchiladas to cook in. Sprinkle extra cheese over the top. I've figured out since I made this that a little sprinkle of paprika really brings the enchiladas to a new level.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. You want the sauce to really be bubbling and the cheese to be melted. It will be tempting to take it out early, but don't. You want that sauce to really cook in to your enchiladas.
Add a side dish of the Mexican Rice and some refried beans and you have a fantastic dinner. This reheats fantastically - if there's any left.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Daring Bakers' April 2012 Challenge - Nazook

The Daring Bakers’ April 2012 challenge, hosted by Jason at Daily Candor, were two Armenian standards: nazook and nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeasted dough pastry with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a fragrant, nutty coffee-style cake.

We had the choice of making either the Nazook or the Nutmeg Cake or both. I wanted to try both but the garden has taken almost all of my time. If I didn't have the lights in the garden, I don't know how much more behind I'd be. So, I got the Nazook made with the intent of trying the cake, but just didn't get to it.

But Oh, am I glad I did the Nazook. This just might be my new favorite recipe. I hope you try it. It might sound like it makes a lot, and it kinda does, but it was all eaten in less than 18 hours of being made (this includes the time we spent sleeping!) So, please try it! Here is the recipe I had to work with:

 Makes about 40 pieces
Pastry dough
3 cups (720 ml) (420 gm/15 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
2½ teaspoons (12½ ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) sour cream
1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) softened butter (room temperature)

 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (210 gm) (7½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (340 gm/12 oz) sugar
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) softened butter (room temperature)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract

1-2 egg yolks (for the wash; alternatively, some yogurt, egg whites, or a whole egg)

 Make the Pastry Dough
1. Place the sifted flour into a large bowl.
2. Add the dry yeast, and mix it in.
3. Add the sour cream, and the softened butter.
4. Use your hands, or a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, to work it into a dough.
5. If using a standing mixer, switch to a dough hook. If making manually, continue to knead for
about 10 minutes, or until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl or your hands. If it remains very sticky, add some flour, a little at a time.
6. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours, or overnight if you like.

Make the filling
7. Mix the flour, sugar, and the softened butter in a medium bowl.
8. Add the vanilla extract.
9. Mix the filling until it looks like clumpy, damp sand. It should not take long. Set aside.

Make the nazook
10. Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.
11. Cut the refrigerated dough into quarters.
12. Form one of the quarters into a ball. Dust your working surface with a little flour.
13. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not
14. Spread 1/4 of the filling mixture across the rolled-out dough in an even layer. Try to spread the filling as close as possible to the edges on the short sides, but keep some of pastry dough uncovered (1 inch/2.5 cm) along the long edges.
15. From one of the long sides, start slowly rolling the dough across. Be careful to make sure the filling stays evenly distributed. Roll all the way across until you have a long, thin loaf.
16. Pat down the loaf with your palm and fingers so that it flattens out a bit (just a bit).
17. Apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush.
18. Use your crinkle cutter (or knife) to cut the loaf into 10 equally-sized pieces. Put onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

19. Place in a preheated moderate oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are a rich, golden
20. Allow to cool and enjoy!

This was my Nazook...

The pictures just don't do this justice. This is a fantastic treat that will soon become a staple dessert at our home.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Calling All Shoppers and Snackers!

I know this is last minute, and I apologize, but I wanted to let y'all know that Kylie will be selling homemade goodies at the Sand Flats Baptist Church tomorrow. It starts at 9 and goes till she sells out. She is raising money for the Marching Band's trip to Washington D.C. next summer. Whatever she sells goes towards her cost to go on the trip. This sale is part of Antique Alley.

For those that don't know, Antique Alley is the mother of all sales. There is stuff like yard sales and there is also really cool and nice things like you would find at a festival. This happens twice a year and is on Hwy 4 going through Cleburne, Grandview, and Maypearl. Did you catch that? This is a sale that is all along the road for three cities! If you've never been, you have to go. It is fantastic!

And go see Kylie. The Sand Flats Baptist Church is between Cleburne and Grandview across from Duke's Produce.

She'll have:

*Potato Bread
*Homemade Hand Painted Hamburger Buns
*Chocolate Cake
*Strawberry Cake
*Cream Cheese Mints
*Chocoalte Chip Cookies
*M&M Cookies

Monday, April 16, 2012

Easter Bread

  Yes, I know that Easter was like three months ago, but I've been running behind on posting things. The grass and sunflowers have taken over my garden, the ants smell my veggies and are trying to take up residence, and I'm starting to see grasshoppers. I've been a little busy outside. Most days I've been going out to work in the garden at 7:30 when the kids leave for school and not sitting down in the house until after dark. (Thanks so much Pa for the solar powered lights in the garden and greenhouse. No, really. Thanks. You're a peach.)
  So, I haven't had time for much of anything except back pain and cursing under my breath. But before that, I did take some time off to work on my Easter contribution. I made the bread and the macaroni and cheese. The cheese for the macaroni was made by me from our Brindle milk (our dairy cow). I'm glad I did some practice on the Easter bread because I learned a lot from my practice run.
  The first try I made french bread dough, formed it into an egg shape and wrapped a bread braid around the center as a decoration. I then painted the bread. One thing I learned is that braids don't help a shape. The braid took away from the egg shape. I also learned some tips on painting the bread - specifically what didn't work. Here was my first go round:

I probably would have been happy with it if I hadn't put the braid on, but the coloring didn't turn out too well. By the time it was done baking, the yellow had browned up.
  So, Plan B.

Pa had been trying to get me to make a basket out of bread for awhile now and I kept putting it off because it seemed like too much work. It was too much work, but my Dad had a fit about it so in the end I was glad I'd gone to the trouble.

This is how I made the basket:

I made french bread dough because it rises less that regular bread dough. I wish I had made two batches of the dough, that would have made it easier and I could have made the basket a little bigger which would have looked nicer. I also skipped the second rise for the dough.  I used my rolling pin and on a lightly floured surface, I rolled the dough into a rectangle. I then cut the dough into long strips. I based the length of my strips on the basket size I was going for. In this case, I used a loaf pan that I turned upside down. After spraying the pan with butter spray (so the bread didn't stick), I laid the first strip down the middle of the pan. The next strip crossed that one in the middle. I then weaved each strip, one at a time, through the strips that were laying on the loaf pan. I went in a circle in the manner of placing the strips so that each side was even in length as the other side. I wasn't sure when my strips would run out, so I wanted it to be even. After all the strips were placed, I did my best to twist the ends together, sometimes the ends just got pinched together. The loaf pan with the bread covering it was put on a cookie sheet and baked. The inside of the basket cooked slower than the outside, so after the outside of the basket was done, I unmolded it and placed it in a 9 x 13 baking dish right side up and continued to bake. I hope this makes sense. I'm sorry I didn't take any pictures, I forgot. I got so carried away with trying to weave the strips that I completely forgot about my camera that was about 2 feet away.

The mini Easter eggs were made out of a simple roll dough. You could use any roll recipe you like. The trick is that when you shape the eggs, you really have to exaggerate the egg shape. The eggs that had the most elongated points were the ones that turned out the best after the second rise and bake. I changed how I painted the loaves along with my paint recipe and I think it turned out great.

How do ya like my Tecate can by the bread? Yeah, I was stressing. It took longer to paint and bake the bread than I had thought so I was scrambling as people started showing up. I painted most of the bread, but Kylie, Zach, and Wyatt helped some too. They had a great time with it.

Cute, huh?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Although I do try to feed my kids a nutritious breakfast every day, sometimes you just HAVE to have some syrup. And boy, does syrup make the kids want to give ya hugs! This waffle recipe is one of two that I use. One is a recipe that has been handed down from my husband's great aunt. It's good, but it is more involved and complicated. Since moving to the farm, I only use it on special occassions when there is more time. The recipe I'm giving you is fast, easy, tastes great, and is economical. This is my go-to-recipe when the kids want waffles. It makes 12 waffles. You can double it if you want. I usually double or triple the recipe in a giant bowl, make all the waffles, cool them on a wire rack, and freeze them in bags for future use.


2 eggs
2 c. all purpose flour
1 3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 tbl. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Start with the eggs in a large bowl.

Oh, so pretty and the nutritious part of the breakfast. Beat the eggs with a hand mixer or whisk until fluffy. Throw the rest of the ingredients into the bowl. Beat them until just smooth. A few lumps won't hurt, though.
Spray your heated waffle iron with a little bit of nonstick spray (I like to use the butter flavored spray). Pour 1/3 c. of batter into each waffle compartment. *This 1/3 c. measurement is for a standard waffle maker. Please test your waffle maker to ensure that you don't come out with either batter running down the sides or a flat waffle with holes.* Cook the waffles until golden brown. If not putting immediately on a plate, cool the waffles on a wire rack so they don't become soggy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March Bakers' Challenge - Dutch Crunch Bread

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

The hardest part of this challenge was finding the rice flour which is the essential ingredient to the crunchy topping. I finally found rice flour at Family Nutrition in Cleburne. If you don't live around here, then I would try at any health food store or Amazon has it if you can't find it locally. Please try to find it locally first, supporting local business should be everyone's priority. (Walmart is not a local business.)

I made soft white sandwich loaves with the Dutch Crunch topping. I didn't really go crazy with the sandwich though. Half the kids just wanted bologna and the other half wanted tuna fish. That's not unusual though, they never all agree. So, trying to be as classy as possible, I went with tuna fish. I mixed up chunk light tuna, light mayo, chopped apples, and chopped hard boiled eggs. That went into the sandwich - sorry but that was as creative as my kids were gonna let me get.

What will you come up with?

This is the recipe I had to work with:

Soft White Roll
Six sandwich rolls

This recipe approximates the quintessential white sandwich roll found throughout the Bay Area. The recipe is simple, quick, and addictive.


1 tablespoon (1 packet) (15 ml) (7 gm/ ¼ oz) active dry yeast

¼ cup (60 ml) warm water (105-110º F) (41-43°C) (No need to use a thermometer – it should feel between lukewarm and hot to the touch).
1 cup (240 ml) warm milk (105-110º F) (41-43°C) (We’ve tried both nonfat and 2%, with no noticeable difference)
 1½ tablespoons (22½ ml) (20 gm/ ⅔ oz) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil (plus additional olive or vegetable oil for greasing bowl during rising)
 1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (9 gm/⅓ oz) salt
 Up to 4 cups (960 ml) (600 gm/21oz) all purpose flour


1. In the bowl of an electric mixer or large mixing bowl, combine yeast, water, milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit for about 5 minutes (The mixture should start to bubble or foam a bit and smell yeasty).

2. Add in vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups of flour. Using the dough hook attachment or a wooden spoon, mix at medium speed until the dough comes together.

3. Add remaining flour a quarter cup at time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. (For us, this usually required an additional 1½ to 2 cups of flour).

4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 4 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

5. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled (or more) in size.

6. Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 6 equal portions (if you’d like to make rolls) or 2 equal portions (if you’d like to make a loaf) (using a sharp knife or a dough scraper works well). Shape each into a ball or loaf and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (try not to handle the dough too much at this point).

7. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes while you prepare the topping.

8. Coat the top of each roll or loaf with the topping as described below. While the original recipe recommends letting them stand for 20 minutes after applying the topping, I got better results by putting them directly into the oven.

9. Once you’ve applied the topping, bake in a preheated moderately hot 380ºF/190°C/gas mark 5 for 25-30 minutes, until well browned. Let cool completely on a wire rack before eating.

Dutch Crunch ToppingThis recipe should make sufficient topping for two 9 x 5 loaves or 12 rolls. If you only make 6 rolls in the soft white roll recipe, you can cut the topping recipe in half.

2 tablespoons (2 packets) (30 ml) (15 gm/½ oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) warm water (105-115º F) (41-46°C)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (240 gm/8½ oz) rice flour (white or brown; NOT sweet or glutinous rice flour)


1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a whisk; beat hard to combine. The consistency should be like stiff royal icing – spreadable, but not too runny. If you pull some up with your whisk, as shown below, it should drip off slowly. Add more water or rice flour as necessary. Let stand 15 minutes.

2. Coat the top of each loaf or roll with a thick layer of topping. We tried coating it with a brush but it worked better just to use fingers or a spoon and kind of spread it around. You should err on the side of applying too much topping – a thin layer will not crack properly.

3. With the Soft White Roll, you can place the rolls directly into the oven after applying the topping.

This is what I did:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cinnamon S's

     I love cookies. All cookies, really. But when I have to make all the cookies - no buying anything from Keebler elves- then I really like easy but fun cookies to make. I also like to let the kids help cook, so put on their aprons and let them get dirty. These cookies are close to a butter cookie but rolled in sugar and cinnamon. These cookies make me think of a baked churro. So really, I'm giving ya another healthy cookie option. No really. Go with it. Forget the logic and enjoy.

Cinnamon S's

1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 tbl. sugar

Cream the butter and sugar.
What is it about butter and sugar that looks so yummy?

Anyway, next add the eggs and beat until light and fluffy.
Yes, I know you know what eggs are and don't need a picture. I just love the way our eggs look. They are so pretty and I wanted to give you a pretty picture.

So, stir your flour and baking powder into the butter mixture to make a pliable dough. Cover and put it on the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You want the dough to be more like play dough than a soft dough so that way you can work with it.

To shape the cookies, divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Divide those balls in half. Roll out to make a rope 12 inches long.
Now cut that long rope into 2 inch strips. A ruler or tape measure comes in handy, but you can eye-ball-it in a pinch.
Here's the part the kids are gonna love. Roll each strip in a mixture of the cinnamon and sugar.

The strip gets longer when you roll it. Twist the rope into an "s" shape and place on a cookie sheet. Repeat for all the strands of dough. 
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies feel firm but are not browned.  Play with shapes or see what the kids come up with.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

For Maria - Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

     I have a beautiful cousin named Maria that is really something special. Her and her sister, Lindy, have been like my sisters. We would spend the night with each other often. And we would be tortured at each others' houses. My mom would make us sleep in pink sponge curlers that were so tight our scalp would bulge out and Aunt Alice would make me wake up before 9 am. It was terrible. (Yes, I'm smirking as I write this.)
     Maria and Lindy are both very beautiful, and like me we have struggled to keep our girlish figures more girlish than our grandmother. Both of them are really looking good and I want to encourage them in their efforts. (Seriously Lindy, nobody is supposed to look that good when you're that pregnant!) At Jake's birthday party last weekend, I looked over at Maria talking to my Dad, and for a moment, I saw my mother. It was very precious.
   So I've got a recipe that should make everybody happy. I love chocolate chip cookies. It's the one thing that I can't resist. If there are homemade chocolate chip cookies around, I HAVE to eat them. So I found this recipe that is actually healthy for you. Amazing. Now I'm gonna warn you. It won't look or smell good until you are about to put them on the cookie sheet, but trust me.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 c. butter or margarine
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate, but I've used semi sweet, minis, and white chocolate)

First you want to get a big bowl and cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Then add the egg and mix til combined.
In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, and wheat germ.
Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Make sure it is blended well.
Yeah, I know, it still looks healthy, we're working on that. Now add in the chocolate chips and stir them in.
Measure out cookie balls from 2 teaspoons. I have a 2 tsp. measuring spoon, but if you don't, just mash the two balls together. Put them on a greased cookie sheet or a silicone bake mat (so no extra grease is involved). Flatten the balls slightly.

Bake at 375 degrees for 11 minutes.

This is a great dessert or snack that you can feel good about giving your kids. This would also be a great treat for the kids to take to school for a snack. When the teacher tells you she can't serve the cookies to the kids because they have to eat healthy, you can be superior and tell her your cookies have more food value, less empty calories, salt and sugar than most snacks they approve of plus you are providing the kids with more fiber. Then you're the good mom for the week!

Here you are, Maria. This one's for you!