Buttermilk Bread

Posted by: Andrea  :  Category: breads

I love this bread recipe. It’s simple, and not much in the way of kneading required.

2 cups lukewarm water

1 cup buttermilk (can be substituted by using 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar then fill with milk to one cup, let sit for 5 minutes or so)

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)

1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt (use 3/4 as much for table salt)

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

6 1/2 cups flour (I usually use high-gluten or bread flour for at least half, then whole wheat for the rest)

grease for the pans

1. Mix everything but the flour.

2. mix in the flour without kneading.

3. cover (not airtight) and allow to rise at room temp until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), about 2 hours.

4. Dough can be used immediately after first rise, or put in the refrigerator and used within 7 days.

5. Grease a 9x4x3 in pan. (or, a standard bread pan) Cut and shape the ball to fit the pan by stretching and turning the ends under until in an oval. (Full recipe makes 2 or 3 loafs)

6. Drop the dough into the greased pan. You want the pan to be slightly more than half full.

7. Allow the dough to rise again – 40 minutes for fresh dough, 1 hour, 40 minutes for refrigerated.

8. if using a baking stone, turn the oven on 20 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350.

9. Bake bread near center of oven 45 minutes or until golden brown.

10. Remove from the pan. Allow to cool completely before slicing (if you want nice slices. Or, you can tear into it right away if you don’t mind irregular hunks of yummy, warm bread).

Mint Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: dessert

Image Credit: Cheesecake For Breakfast

This recipe comes from Carol at work.

It has been my experience that these cookies will cure an addiction to Girl Scout Thin Mints. Unfortunately, that’s akin to kicking a

coffee habit by switching to speed. But at least the ingredients in here are a little less esoteric than the Thin Mints. So here goes…

Preheat oven to 350F

Melt together (either using a double boiler or a microwave):

  • 12 ounces of chocolate
  • 2 ounces of unsalted butter.

The chocolate is the key ingredient here, so this is highly subjective to personal tastes. A 50/50 mix of bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate chips works well, or you can throw an ounce of mint chocolate chips into the mix and adjust other quantities accordingly.

While the chocolate is cooling, put a whisk attachment on your mixer and beat:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

until you get a ribbon consistency, which should be about 3-4 minutes. Take the bowl off the mixer and stir in:

  • Chocolate mixture from above
  • 2 tsp Vanilla (and please, use the good stuff)

Sift together:

  • 1.5 ounces (1/3 cup) of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Stir the flour mixture into the batter and let it rest for 5 minutes.

Spoon cookies of about 1 tablespoon of batter onto a cookie sheet that’s been rendered non-stick by the application of  butter/flour,  parchment paper, or teflon.

Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, until they are puffy and cracked, and let cool on a rack.

The cookies can now be eaten as is, or if you want an extra hit of yummy, coat them with:

  • 1/4 cup mint chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips

(but be sure to melt them all together first)

This will be a hit at office parties or any cookie-friendly gathering (and if it’s not cookie-friendly, why are you going?)

Another interesting variation on this would be to put a little bit of espresso in, instead of mint.

Baked Lentils & Cheese

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: Entrees

This is a big hit with the kids. High in protein, very filling.

Place the following in a shallow baking pan:

  • 2 cups lentils (12 oz, but you can use a full pound if you buy lentils in 1-lb bags, just add another 1/2 cup of water)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves (or more if you like)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 cloves minced or crushed garlic
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid

Cover in foil and bake all this at 375F for half an hour.

Stir in:

  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 3-4 stalks celery, sliced

Re-cover and bake for another 40 minutes until veggies are tender.

Stir in:

  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley

Sprinkle 1.5 cups shredded cheese over top and bake uncovered for 5 more minutes.

Crustless Quiche

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: Entrees

Beat the Egg Mix together:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can (13 oz) evaporated milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • dash of paprika or cayenne pepper


This is where you get creative, but the base is:

  • 1/4 c chopped onion
  • 1 cup shredded cheese

For a Quiche Lorraine, use swiss cheese and add 10 strips of cooked and crumbled bacon (or more if you like bacon)

You can also use broccoli, ham, sausage, peppers, you name it. It’s a quiche.

Put the filling in the bottom of the pie plate, starting with the onions and ending with the cheese and pour the egg mixture on top.

Cook in the microwave as follows:

  • 3 minutes
  • Stir with a fork
  • 3 minutes
  • Stir
  • 6 minutes
  • rest for 10-12 minutes

Sweet Dinner Rolls II

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: breads, side dish

Another recipe for dinner rolls, this time more bread-style than brioche.


  • 2 lbs flour (this can be a mix of bread and whole wheat flours. Recommend not going more than 50% WWF)
  • 2 tsp salt


  • 1 Cup warm water
  • 1 Cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons yeast
  • 1/2 stick melted butter (add after the yeast has activated)

combine wet ingredients and let yeast activate for about 10 minutes. Add to dry ingredients in stand mixer and knead with dough hook for about 20 minutes.

Allow to rise until doubled in size (about 90 minutes) and divide into rolls. Place close together on a cookie sheet and let rise for another 20-30 minutes. Heat oven to 425F (Gas 7 for those in Europe) and bake for about 20 minutes.

Sweet Dinner Rolls

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: breads

Easy recipe for dinner rolls. Makes a good base for a cinnamon raisin bread too. This is essentially a brioche dough. The recipe has been sized for a KitchenAid 5.5-quart stand mixer and makes about two dozen dinner-sized rolls. You can also use this for hamburger buns if you make them larger and flatter.

Stir the following ingredients together and let sit for about 10 minutes:

  • 3/4 cup milk or buttermilk (warmed to about 40C/100F)
  • 3/4 cup water (also warmed)
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast (or 2 packets if not using bulk yeast)

While the yeast is activating, combine the following into the stand mixer bowl:

  • 30 oz flour (about 5 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (1 cup if making cinnamon raisin bread)
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt

Mix briefly and then add:

  • 3/4 cup softened butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 2 eggs
  • yeast mixture

Combine with the dough hook on low speed until well mixed. Turn up the speed a notch and let it knead for about 10-15 minutes.

After kneading, let the dough rise until double in size (about 45 minutes). Shape the dough into rolls, put on the baking pan and let rise for another 30 minutes. Bake the rolls at 400F for about 10-15 minutes until golden.

To make this into a cinnamon bread, add an extra 1/2 cup of sugar as noted above. After the kneading is done, add a bunch of raisins (a cup or so should do it unless you REALLY like raisins) and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon. Shape into loaves and bake at 350F.

Baked Lentil Casserole

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: Entrees

This is easy, cheap, and filling. My kids can’t get enough of it.

You’ll need:

  • 9″ x 13″ baking pan
  • Oven at 350F


  • 1 lb lentils
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 2 or 3 large onions
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic

Put in the baking pan and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes.


  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 cup celery, diced

Bake covered for another 40 minutes.

Take out the bay leaves if practical, and add:

  • 2 green peppers, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley (or 2 Tbsp dried parsley)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese, sprinkled on top

Bake uncovered for 5-10 minutes.


makes 8-10 reasonably large servings.


Nutrition Facts

8 Servings

Amount Per Serving

Calories 244.1
Total Fat 9.8 g
Saturated Fat 6.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.7 g
Cholesterol 29.7 mg
Sodium 1,121.8 mg
Potassium 456.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 26.9 g
Dietary Fiber 8.7 g
Sugars 5.8 g
Protein 14.3 g
Vitamin A 75.5 %
Vitamin B-12 3.9 %
Vitamin B-6 13.5 %
Vitamin C 35.6 %
Vitamin D 0.8 %
Vitamin E 2.6 %
Calcium 24.7 %
Copper 11.1 %
Folate 32.5 %
Iron 15.8 %
Magnesium 10.5 %
Manganese 22.9 %
Niacin 5.5 %
Pantothenic Acid 6.3 %
Phosphorus 28.0 %
Riboflavin 10.8 %
Selenium 8.5 %
Thiamin 10.6 %
Zinc 12.2 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Guest Post: Epic Rainbow Cake

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: dessert

Here’s a post from my lovely wife on the birthday cake we made for our youngest this year…

Since I’ve had a number of comments along the lines of, “ooh, I want to do that now too!” here is a post full of things I learned while making the Epic Rainbow Cake.

I’ll start by saying I saw a pic online and said to myself, “Hey, that looks cool. I think I could do that!” And yes, I did. And it was more work than I expected. Whoops. Not horrible, but more than I expected.

Much of the work was in the dying and baking of the layers. I only had 2 pans, and had to make 6 layers. I figured I could do 2 at a time and be done fairly quick. This wasn’t the case. I had to cook each layer, then let it cool most of the way in the pan before taking it out, or else they fell apart. This slowed things down considerably.

To do over again, I’d either get more pans, and/or I’d get smaller pans to make each layer thicker. (see next point, and the one about leveling down below)

I first tried to take one single cake mix and divide it into 6, then bake 6 thin layers. That didn’t work so well. First, it didn’t bake all that well. Second, it was so thin that it just fell apart when I took it out of the pan. So, then I had to quick mix up another mix and recalculate each layer. If I had smaller diameter pans, I could have done it with a single mix and not had HUGE amounts of cake.
Here’s my first failed layer:

Here’s my first successful layer:

I used Wilton icing colors to make the rich color. (Like these.) They worked wonderfully. It took a lot of bowls and forks and knives, but it did the job well. I used forks for mixing each batch, as it seemed to mix the color in better. I used table knives to get the color from the jar into the cake mix. Amazingly enough, my hands aren’t rainbow colored today as I expected they would be. I think that’s more because I’ve washed them 3948573546 times in the last 26 hours than because I was careful not to get dye on me though.

I had some fun mixing the orange. I didn’t have orange dye, so I had to blend red and yellow myself.

This took a LOT more frosting than I expected. Of course, it was a lot more cake than I expected too.

Ok, on to actual instructions.

Some of the things you’ll need:
2 boxes white cake mix & whatever they call for to make the cake.
Wilton icing color, or similar strong food dye. (I woudln’t recommend using cheap liquid food dye for this. The amount you’d need would probably water down the cake badly.)
Bowls for each color

Start with two boxes of white cake mix. (I probably could have done something from scratch, but I wasn’t feeling that ambitious.)

Before mixing them, get out your kitchen scale and tare it with the mixing bowl on it. Then put all the cake mixes and the rest of what the cake mix calls for into the bowl and see how much it weighs. Then divide that number by 6 to know how much for each layer. (Our amount was roughly 11 ounces per layer, though each cake mix may differ somewhat.)

Mix them up according to package directions.

Scoop or pour out the amount of cake batter you need for each layer into separate bowls. Then add dye and mix thoroughly.

Bake each layer in a well greased 8″ round cake pan for 12 minutes [IB: Even the nonstick pans need a good coat of cooking spray. You really don’t want these to get stuck]. Test for doneness. Remove from oven and let cool before removing it from pan. Let cool completely before moving on to the frosting step. [IB: In to remove the cake from the pan without destroying it, find a plate that fits just inside the pan and put it face down on the top of the cake, flip it upside down while holding the plate. press the wire cooling rack against the bottom of the cake and flip it right side up again]

*I should insert here an instruction to level each cake as best you can. I didn’t do very well, and mine’s a bit dome shaped. If I had to do over again, I’d try to make each layer a bit thicker, and level it off better.

Mix up your frosting for the filling. I used cream cheese frosting in between each layer, and for my crumb coat. I used two 8oz packages of cream cheese, 1 stick of butter, all softened to room temp. Then added about 1 tsp vanilla and 3 cups icing sugar.  Mix well with stand or electric mixer.  This was BARELY enough, so I’d recommend adding at least another stick of butter and 1-2 cups of icing sugar, or just make more of whatever frosting you want to use. [ IB: It really helps to really crank the stand mixer speed to get ultimate creamy frosting – use the paddle, or one of these]

I frosted in between each layer. I’d have put more in between each, for a better visual effect, but I just didn’t have enough. Taste wise, it was a perfect amount though.

Then I did my crumb coat. A crumb coat on this is essential, unless you want multi-colored specs all through your white frosting. Let the crumb coat firm up in the fridge, or harden to the touch on the counter (depending on the type of frosting you use) for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. (I put mine in the fridge overnight, because it was late and I was too tired at this point. It worked fine to leave it overnight with the crumb coat, then finish frosting it the next day.)
Process pic of the crumb coat. See how I’m scraping frosting off the spatula to slap onto the cake? Yeah, I BARELY had enough.

For the outer layer of frosting, I used 1 1/2 sticks of butter, about a teaspoon of vanilla, 2 tablespoons of milk, and 3 cups icing sugar. This was BARELY enough to cover the outside well. Ideally, I’d have made more and had more to make the spreading on easier. (If you watch the videos from the crumb coat link above, it shows why having extra is good if you want it to look really nice.) I frosted the top, then the sides with a table knife. If I were going to do this more often than once every few years, I’d invest in a decent frosting spreader/spatula thing. (I’m sure they have a specific name… the videos I watched last night probably told me, but I’ve now forgotten.)

Personally, I liked it this way, plain white on the outside. I think it would lend more kick to the rainbow inside. However the birthday girl requested sprinkles, so sprinkles it was.

Fairly quickly before the icing was dry to the touch, I put the sprinkles on the sides. I had to work fast, because my icing was drying faster than I expected it to. I took a few sprinkles in my hand at a time and just threw them at the sides of the cake until I thought it looked good. Yes, truly. It was fun. And yes, I’ll be finding stray sprinkles in my kitchen for months. Especially since I spilled them in the process. See?

You can sort of see the big container of sprinkles there at the edge of the pic. Thankfully I’d washed my counters well before starting, so I could just scoop them up and toss them at the cake. I had to toss fairly hard to get them to stick because the frosting was drying. I’ve done this before with a different type of frosting and they stuck better, but it was a frosting that didn’t dry. (Cream Cheese frosting doesn’t dry. Buttercream does. Just fyi.)

This was the finished product:

I had hoped to have some extra frosting to color to pipe “Happy Birthday, C!” onto the top, but that was a no go. I had BARELY enough to cover the whole thing, and I was not going to mix up a third batch of frosting just to do some piping work. Plus, I was almost out of time as I had to go pick her up from preschool. So, the top stayed plain. I did stick candles into it for her so we could sing Happy Birthday to her, and so she could blow them out.

And here’s what it looks like to cut into:

And the first slice:

(Some of these were taken really quickly because I had a birthday girl and two of her friends wanting to eat the cake now please, so sorry if they’re blurry or not the best quality.)

Ok, I think that’s my full brain dump.  Sorry if it’s a bit disjointed, but I’m tired, and my brain is disjointed from the HUGE sugar crash I’m on right now. 🙂

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: soup

This evening was cool and rainy. Perfect soup weather. At lunch, I’d had some Baja Enchilada soup at Planet Sub, and was inspired.

To do this properly takes about 2 days**

Day 1:

  1. Obtain a rotisserie chicken from your favourite purveyor of such things. I’m a big fan of Costco. You can make your own, too, if so inclined (and equipped).
  2. Eat the chicken for dinner.
  3. Boil the carcass for about an hour in 2 quarts of water and put the whole thing in the fridge overnight.

Day 2:

  1. Take the chicken in a pot out of the fridge.
  2. Scoop the solidified fat from the top of the pot and put in your soup pot.
  3. Using a colander, separate the chunks of chicken from the broth
  4. Remove any chunks that don’t strike you as edible.
  5. Put the edible bits back in the broth and set aside
  6. Finely chop up:
    1. an onion (I’ll leave it up to you how big)
    2. a red pepper (or two)
    3. garlic (how much depends on your individual taste and the current level of vampire activity in your area)
    4. green chiles (or you can cheat and use them from a can)
    5. Maybe even some jalapenos if you’re feeling wild
  7. Heat the chicken fat and sauté the vegetables in it. If your chicken was lean, you may want to add some olive oil, you’re going to need about 4-6 tablespoons worth of fat for the roux.
  8. Add 3/4 cup flour or masa harina and make a roux (about 3 minutes with a whisk, until it starts browning)
  9. Add the chicken broth and stir with the whisk until well blended
  10. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to keep the roux from sticking. When it boils, the soup will be thickened.
  11. Add 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon cumin, and salt to taste and stir it in.
  12. Stir in 1.5 cups grated cheese. Cheddar works well, as does any mexican blend or something of that ilk. Please don’t use something like Velveeta, it would make me cry.
  13. Let the cheese get all nice and melty as you stir it in.
  14. You can add some other southwesternish sorts of things like corn, black beans, and cilantro here. Stir it, and serve.


Goes well with a garnish of sour cream, tortilla strips, pico de gallo,  or just a nice simple roll.
Make sure you have your favorite hot sauce handy.

** But you can totally cheat by using prepackaged chicken broth and add some chicken (this works well with canned chicken breast)

Ranch Dressing

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: salad

Ranch dressing is one of those things that is easy to make, yet it’s something folks buy premade at the store. Here’s a quick recipe that uses no unpronounceable or questionable ingredients. It’s adapted from this recipe. Units listed are proportional parts.

  • 1  ground dried thyme
  • 2 onion powder
  • 4 garlic powder
  • 6 ground pepper
  • 8 seasoned salt
  • 8 dried parsley

For a single batch of dressing, 1 part = 1/8 teaspoon and yields 1 tablespoon of seasoning mix for 1 pint of dressing.

To make a large batch for use later, 1 part  = 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) and makes 1.5 cups of mix, enough for 24 batches (1.5 gallons) of dressing.

To make the dressing, mix:

  • 1 Tablespoon seasoning mix
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup of
      • Yogurt for thick dressing (you can also use varying amounts of yogurt and whey to adjust consistency)
      • buttermilk for thin dressing
      • sour cream for dip

You can also use this seasoning mixed with bread crumbs for breading chicken.