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Carolyn

Sara

 

Sara and me

I participate in an amazon program that rewards a little tiny something to me if you purchase any books I recommend, or products that I buy and feature on my food blog. 

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Sarah Steele wrote a quite intricate book – probably more interesting to a woman anyway – called The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon. A young woman going through a breakup of her marriage, and the death of her grandmother, finds a box in the relative’s wardrobe. In it are fabric swatches attached to dress patterns, and a postcard of a woman wearing the dress. It’s all quite mysterious. Florence decides she should re-create the dresses and the journeys. Quite an interesting theme for a book, and it’s well done here. Travel to the Riviera is included, and some fun encounters with new friends. Well worth reading.

I’ve been a fan of C.J. Box for several years. Have read most of his books. Mysteries of a sheriff in Wyoming, solving murders, usually. Box has a gift of suspense. This new book, Long Range (A Joe Pickett Novel) This one starts with the after-effects of a deadly grizzly bear attack, then extends to the murder of a judge’s wife. All interconnected, and complicated. The book was too short . . . I always want more.

Tracy Chevalier has written another fascinating book . . . A Single Thread: A Novel. The time period is between the wars, Britain. So many spinsters were left following the war, and Violet doesn’t want to become an embittered woman, caring for her angry, feeble and declining mother. So she moves on to Winchester. She works at a ho-hum job, but also becomes a volunteer at the Cathedral (ever been there? gorgeous), helping to make needlepoint kneeling pads. There are traditions even for kneeling pads (yes, really), and Violet takes this very seriously. There’s a love story woven into the fabric of this story too, and how Violet blooms and grows. Chevalier has a way with words. A good read.

An unusual book, The Weight of a Piano: A novel by Chris Cander. It begins in 1962 in Russia, a young girl is gifted a Blüthner piano. She has real skill and hopes to keep it forever. Yet, once she marries, she must leave it behind when she emigrates to the U.S. Thence the story begins, of what happens to the piano, its interim stops (even a bit about how the piano feels –  yes, some surrealism here). And about how it survives the voyage to America itself. I don’t want to give it away. You’ll learn a LOT about pianos and equally as much about Blüthner ones, how they’re made. The book does not have a happy ending – at least not in my opinion, if that’s something that’s important to you. Quite a story; and again, unusual.

Erik Larson’s tome, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. This book covers the “reign” of Winston Churchill during the height of WWII. You’ll learn so much more about him. About the war. About the inner workings of the British government, including political. I’m a great admirer of the late Mr. Churchill. One of my more recent trips to England I visited Chartwell, the family home and where Winston died. If you’ve never been there, do add it to your itinerary next time. Beautiful grounds, including the small studio he used to paint.

Ken Follett is one of my fav authors, and I pre-ordered his newest, The Evening and the Morning (Kingsbridge), which is a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth: A Novel (Kingsbridge), my all-time favorite book I’ve ever read in my life. Time period: 975 to about 1007 or so. Give or take. It follows a poor, but eager and intelligent builder as he earns his trade. It’s about his loves. His failures. The families all around, and much about the ever-present church (and its leaders, some honest, many not). Could hardly put the book down. Love Follett’s style of writing.

Every so often I read a romance of some kind. Historical ones mostly. And most I don’t include them here. But one I liked a lot is The Secrets of Saffron Hall by Clare Marchant. It happens to be very inexpensive right now on amazon, on Kindle, in case you’re interested. It jumps from 1538 and to 2019. Having to do with a precious book, a Book of Hours, and what secrets it contains. The growing of saffron plays large here and both romance in Tudor times and a tenuous marriage in current time, but nearly all of it takes place at a Tudor castle. Loved the book.

The book Where the Blind Horse Sings: Love and Healing at an Animal Sanctuary shares the story of a number of animals brought to an animal sanctuary in the Catskills. If you’re an animal lover, you’ll enjoy the stories, each animal bringing more to the human-animal relationship than you might even guess. Profound stories of love of animals. Not a long book; I think I got it as a bargain book from bookbub.

The title caught my attention on this one: Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim by Sabeeha Rehman. She’s written her own autobiography, beginning when she was a young child in Pakistan, to her eventual settling in New York. It’s about the Muslim experience. Their beliefs, their customs and traditions, told in a very pleasing and informational way. She marries in American Pakistani Muslim (an arranged marriage) and it’s the story of everything. Nothing much is left out of the journey she made, and still makes. She became a kind of activist for her religion, trying to bring Muslim customs to integrate into American culture (not always an easy task). Her husband is a doctor; she a hospital administrator. Likely you’ll learn more than you thought about Muslims. Very well written. Enjoyed it very much.

Finished Chinn’s story, The English Wife. What a great read. Could hardly put it down. I’m reading 3-4 books a week these days, and am so happy when I have a book I can’t wait to get back to. Really the story is about two sisters. Partly in Norwich, England, then in Newfoundland. One there, one here. And some of it takes place during WWII in Norwich, and much of it Newfoundland, then, and more recent. I loved the part of the book that took place on 9/11 when flights were diverted to Newfoundland. Family secrets, family lies, much anger between the sisters. There’s romance. There’s war. There is love of family. Particularly I savored the descriptions of Newfoundland, mostly rock, if you’ve never been there. It’s a twisted tale, by that I mean the family secrets which become the undoing. It’s a bargain on amazon right now, as I write this.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. The story is all about Mary, her growing up, her scholarly pursuits, and then from the moment she meets Jesus as a young man. The story follows along to and beyond his death on the cross. In the time of Christ it was extremely uncommon for a man not to marry. It was almost unseemly. Fraught with suspicions, I’d suppose. Although scripture, as scripture, does not play a very strong part here, if you’ve read the Bible you’ll see many of the stories of Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. Her husband was a journalist, and his life was always in danger because he wrote the truth, and that was taking a risk. The story is about her escape, with harrowing chapters as she makes her way north from Acapulco, with various major detours, one step, or sometimes nothing more than a hair’s width ahead of the cartel minions trying to find her. I could NOT put this book down. The author is not Hispanic, and some have criticized her for that, but she did her research, and many authors write about places and people they are not. I have nothing but respect for her having told this story. You need to read this.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice, living in an English home which lacks much, leaps to agree to marry a visiting American. It was an escape for her. He is a man of some family wealth, and she travels from England to Kentucky, during the 1920s. Once settled into the family home, she discovers married life is not what she had expected. Affection is lacking, and she must share the home with her tyrannical father-in-law, the owner of mines in the deep mountains. And with the ghost of the deceased mother-in-law. The family cook won’t tolerate Alice’s help in the kitchen. Alice is terribly lonely and unhappy. The town doesn’t much like this English woman with her funny way of speaking. But then, she meets a woman who encourages her to join the Horseback Librarians. With trepidation, she begins traversing the remote hills, through unbelievable weather, to deliver old, battered and tattered books to the remote inhabitants of the area. She makes friends, wonderful, loving people from all walks of life. There is tremendous tension from the danger of the mines, the unions trying to get a foothold, plus the unraveling of her marriage, including the dreaded father-in-law who feels she should answer to him, behave as he wants. Uh, no. Alice goes her own route. Her new friends become her family, and, oh, what love. There has been much criticism of Moyes’ possible plagiarism of another book regarding the Horseback Librarians. I read the other book – but I didn’t feel remotely as intrigued by that story as I was by Moyes’ version. A feel good story, but it takes some while getting to that “feel good” part, nearly to the end.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat. It’s about Ellen. Her early years, under much hardship. About her teens, some of it as an orphan. Then a young adult, which includes marriage, a marriage blanc, which I didn’t understand until you learn the meaning. Then a child enters the picture, a child that will become a focus for the remainder of the book. Through the war, and beyond. I cried several times, as will you, I suspect. What’s a constant is the descriptions of the place, a town called Upton, near Southampton. About the hills and dales, the flora and fauna, the rain, the mud sometimes, the flooding sometimes. But throughout, it’s about neighbors caring for neighbors, and about love. A must read. Would make a really good book club read.

Jamie Ford has written another good one, Love and Other Consolation Prizes. Remember, he wrote The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Loved that book. This one takes on a rather ugly part of America’s past, when Chinese people were treated like trinkets. Ernest Young is such a boy, who ends up being a “prize” at an event, and with great angst, ends up as a kind of servant at a high-class bordello in Seattle. Yet, the women and girls there become HIS family. He is intelligent and learns many lessons. Eventually, when society women battle to close down such houses of ill repute, he leaves that life, with his wife. They have children. The bulk of the book is about the early years around the turn of the 20th century, then you pick up the threads nearing the end of his life, and his wife’s. There are any number of small mysteries, which unravel with a word here or there – you know that word foreshadowing? Really interesting read.

In between more literary novels, I bought a comedic memoir . . . Juliette Sobanet’s Meet Me in Paris. There’s the falling apart of a marriage (and divorce), but in the inbetween, she decides to take a trip (sans husband) around Europe to get her head straight. The kind of tour that would drive me crazy, but it was one night, maybe two at each major city. She knew no one, but soon enough bonds with  three other women. Then she has a chance-meeting of a young Frenchman who had been an exchange student in her home town. They’d lost touch, yet there were definitely sparks there, never realized. Some of the touristy stuff was trite, I must say, although the women do try to take in all the major sites, if only for a few minutes. There is plenty of humor. Some steamy stuff too as she meets up with the young man in another city. Apparently it’s a happy-ever-after story. Great literature it is not, but it was a fun romp, so to speak.

Recently finished Thomas Nelson’s The Hideaway. It seems like there are SO many novels out there about families finding, inheriting or otherwise going to an old house with memories. Especially ones on the water. With stories to tell. It’s a great way to introduce some light mystery to the telling of some other family story. In this case it’s Sara’s grandmother who was enigmatic in every way. And Sara inherits the run-down, ramshackle B&B on Mobile Bay. Cute story with lots of twists and turns.

Also just finished James Conroyd Martin’s Fortune’s Child: A Novel of Empress Theodora (Book 1 of 2). Theodora grew up the daughter of a circus performer, but then moved onto “the boards,” as acting was called back in Byzantine times (Constantinople, 6th century). She always had high expectations – she just “knew” she was going to accomplish great things. She was an occasional prostitute, a mistress, and then, behold, the son of Emperor Justin is mesmerized by her beauty, takes her on, and makes her his wife, amid much royal machinations. A young eunuch also plays large in the story too, a man hopelessly in love with Thea, but knows his love can never be returned or fulfilled. He becomes an historian to the Empress. Quite a story – much of it chronicles her early life and not a lot of it in Constantinople. But riveting story.

I’m doing SO much reading of late. Read this book in one day. The Glass Hotel: A novel by Emily St. John Mandel. Loosely based on the story of Bernie Madoff (Ponzi scheme), it tells a novelized version of a man with incredible power and charisma who gathers a group of willing partners. It’s about the people he cuckolded, and the people who took him down. At the beginning drugs come into play and I almost didn’t continue, but that was a very short section. Well worth reading. Lots to discuss if you’re looking for a book club read.

Once in awhile I read a poignant animal story, as you know if you’ve followed this sidebar for any length of time. Craig & Fred: A Marine, A Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other by Craig Gross, tells the story of his military duty in Afghanistan, in a war zone. And how his unit befriended a dog, a stray, and how that dog really did become his lifeline.

Cara Wall’s new book, The Dearly Beloved: A Novel. It tells the story of two couples. The two husbands become co-pastors of a New York City church. The wives? Oh my, are they ever different. They don’t abide. The husbands try to get a grip on their jobs, pastoring, preaching, and keeping the wives happy.

Loved-loved Gregory Buford’s humorous memoir, Kept: An American Househusband in India. He aims to be a U.S. diplomat, takes the tests and fails. On a whim, his wife takes the test and is hired. Their first assignment: Chennai, India. They spent two years there, with his much-loved wife going off to do diplomatic duties (albeit at a low level – everyone must pay their dues at the beginning) and Greg is left at home to deal with the servants, the house, the beggars, the nanny, the construction next door, shopping, and also partly caring for their infant.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Shirley Ann Grau’s book, The Keepers of the House. Hmmm. Much to think about. [from an amazon review]: There is a reason it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1965. Seven generations of Howlands have lived on this rural Alabama plantation in good times and bad. It tells the story of this family from the time its patriarch settled the land in the early 1800s to the mid-20th century.

Marie Martin wrote Harbored Secrets. From amazon: In May of 1935, Blinny Platt’s homestead shack burns to the ground forever leaving her family asunder, scattering them like the embers flew on the Montana wind. She was only 8, sent away and in charge of her little sister. She could handle that because Platts take care of Platts. However, it is the hidden secrets of her parents smoldering beneath the charred remains that haunts Blinny until 1982.

Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

Alan Hlad has written quite a novel. From true life. The Long Flight Home. It tells the story based on family history, of the homing pigeons that were used in Britain during WWII that flew back and forth across the English Channel into German-occupied France. It’s a heartwarming story. Heart-wrenching sometimes. War is an awful thing no matter which side you’re on when it comes to how it affects everyday people. You’ll learn a lot about pigeons, but also about love. Great read.

Riveted to Katie Munnick’s novel The Heart Beats in Secret. It begins in Scotland in 1940. A woman, a single mother. A journey across the sea. Then her daughter’s story, and finally the granddaughter’s story, when she inherits her grandmother’s old cottage back in Scotland. Plenty of mother-daughter dysfunction. But it comes right in the end.

Sarah Vallance has written a book about her devastating brain injury. Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain. What a story. What a saga of her recovery. And how she did it. An open wide sharing of her angst, her anger, her journey. Well worth reading. If you have anyone who has suffered a brain injury, it would be wise reading.

Just love all of Amy Harmon’s books. This one is no exception. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel. A pioneer story of a young woman made a widow on the trail to the west. 1850s. As it was in life, tragedies occur. But there is caring and love too. Loved it.

Read Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers. After leaving her childhood home of Switzerland, young Marta Schneider dreams of one day owning a boardinghouse, until marriage and motherhood change her ambitions. Determined to give her family a better life, she vows to raise strong children. But her tough love is often misunderstood, especially by her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, creating repercussions that will echo for generations.

Esther Freud’s book The Sea House: A Novel is about a small village on England’s southern coast.  The book is about love found, love lost, love sometimes found again, sometimes not. About how fleeting it can be or seem.

Amor Towles’ book, Rules of Civility: A Novel was quite a read. It’s NYC, 1937. Twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent [Kon-TENT she iterates to many] is in a Greenwich Village jazz bar when a handsome banker happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien. What an adorable book. True story about Stacey’s 20 years with a feisty but lovable barn owl.

Loved The Wedding Officer: A Novel by Anthony Capella. It takes place in the middle of WWII in Naples. A young British officer, Captain James Gould, is sent to Naples to wade through the zilions of applications from soldiers to marry local Italian women (and presumably take them back to England when the war ends).

Reading behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald. So interesting. Jill is  young, with a newly minted degree in library science at a time when the economy was very slow. She accepts a position in a minimum security prison in Ohio.

The Walls of Lucca by Steve Physioc. A novel that takes place in between WWI and II about a weary Italian soldier.

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna. A novel about Croatia in the aftermath of their more recent wars.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

Having read all of Kristin Hannah’s books, I knew I’d read her latest too: Between Sisters: A Novel.  Two sisters, raised by the same mother but different fathers. At a young age a rift occurs and the sisters go their own way.

Just finished Matt McCarthy’s book The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year. It tells the true life story of his first year as an intern at a New York hospital.

Also read Karen Harper’s book The Royal Nanny: A Novel. The time frame is 1890s onward, at Sandringham, when Charlotte Bill (a real person) was hired by the Duke and Duchess of York, to care for their children.

Also read Roger Swindell’s Mendelevski’s Box. It’s an historical novel about the aftermath of WWII in impoverished Amsterdam.

Also read a very quirky non-fiction book: The Perfect Gentleman: The remarkable life of Dr. James Miranda Barry by June Rose. This is a biography about a person who lived in the mid-1800s. He was a surgeon; graduated from Edinburgh Medical School at the age of 14. Joined the British Army as a medical officer then sent off to South Africa and many other tropical outposts during his career.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. The premise of this book is different . . . a woman writer goes to Scotland to connect with her distant heritage.

Another great read, The Island of Sea Women: A Novel by Lisa See. It’s about Jeju Island off the coast of Korea where the island as a whole is matriarchal because the women were trained from a young age to deep dive, free dive, for mollusks. These women were the breadwinners. Husbands stayed home and cared for the babies. The island is real. The history is real.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford. A novel about the early days of radio in London.

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler. This book is a novel, but based on the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt (Belmont). Her family was nearly destitute (and faking it) when a marriage was proposed for her with William Vanderbilt.  You see the inner life of Alva – her day to day busy work, charity work, visiting for afternoon tea, the undercurrent of society’s morals.

Also read In Falling Snow: A Novel, by Mary-Rose McColl. From amazon: Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. 

Also couldn’t put down The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. A long story that begins in war-torn Russia. Cavalry officer Dmitri falls head over heels in love with one of the daughters of Tzar Nicholas.

Uncommon Woman. A book about Colonial America, but really the western frontier at that time, which is in western Pennsylvania.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? If I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who  lacks self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. Sweet story.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee. Everyone should read this one.

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones. DIdn’t like it much, but others do.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Breads, on August 8th, 2020.

lemon_lavender_crumb_muffins

A post from Sara . . .

This is one of my go-to recipes. It’s fast, flavorful and a favorite in our house. I often give them out as gifts because they make such a pretty package. I’ve served them at breakfast, baked them as loaves and shipped them in care packages and made mini muffins for afternoon tea with whipped cream.

I’ve modified the original recipe to make it a bit healthier (fat-free yogurt instead of sour cream and half applesauce for all butter), but really, what muffin is healthy? The lavender can be omitted and a lemon glaze (which the original recipe calls for) can be used.

There’s the drylemon_lavender_crumb_muffins_batter ingredients in photo at right. The flecks are the lavender buds.

I find that the glaze is not necessary. It makes the muffin top wet and hard to ship, serve or store. It’s listed in the recipe below, in case you decide to use it.

I use twice the lemon zest because I love a good punch of lemon flavor. You can drop it down for your tastelemon_lavender_crumb_muffins_ready2bake.

I made these just the other day and my family ate them hot, right out of the oven. I had to hide the half dozen I was giving to a neighbor! My advice? Don’t bother cutting the recipe in half. Just hide some for later…

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Lemon Lavender Crumb Muffins

Recipe By: Adapted from Taste of Home
Serving Size: 20

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lavender buds — crushed
4 large eggs — room temperature
1 cup Greek yogurt, fat-free
1/2 cup butter — melted
1/2 cup applesauce
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
TOPPING:
3/8 cup all-purpose flour
3/8 cup sugar
12 tablespoons cold butter — cubed
GLAZE: (optional)
1/4 cup sugar
2-2/3 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, lavender and salt. In another bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream, applesauce, butter, lemon zest and juice. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full.
3. In a small bowl, combine flour and sugar; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
5. GLAZE: (if using) In a small bowl, whisk glaze ingredients; drizzle over warm muffins. Serve warm.
Per Serving: 253 Calories; 7g Fat (24.3% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 44g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 52mg Cholesterol; 132mg Sodium; 27g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 12mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 47mg Potassium; 45mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Breads, on May 9th, 2020.

choc_banana_bread_whole

Ever made just enough for a mini-loaf? I wish I’d put something in the photo so you could get the perspective of the mini size. 

In all my years of baking, I’ve never – ever – made just enough batter to bake something in one of those little mini-loaves. Normally I don’t even use those mini-loaf pans except at Christmas time when I’m baking breads, or my Bishop’s Bread favorite. Since I’ve been a widow, however, I make just one loaf of that bread at Christmas. One regular loaf.

But when I saw this recipe, over at “I am a food blog,” it resonated with me. I had one over-ripe banana, I had chocolate, and best part, making a small loaf would keep me from eating so much of it. So I dove in and had a loaf done in no time. I won’t count the extra time it took to measure salt twice, measure baking powder twice, flour twice, etc. I should have brought all the duplicate ingredients out and left them out. I didn’t think about it, as I made the chocolate batter first, and it’s poured into the little loaf pan while you make the second batter.

choc_banana_bread_slicesNeither batter was hard or time consuming – mashing up the banana was the most wrist action I did. Then you pour that batter in on top of the chocolate batter. Into the oven it goes. I guess the chocolate batter rose first, hence it wound its way up the sides of the pan, then the banana batter began. The circle of chocolate was apparent at one end of the loaf and not at the other. But it’s kind of charming, in a way. NOTE: I’ve included gram measurements for the flour in both batters – it’s important that you measure because making a small loaf like this, it’s critical to be accurate. The chemistry in a small loaf wouldn’t be so forgiving.

A few days later my son stopped by my house to deliver something to me and he asked “do you have anything I can snack on, Mom?” I said of course. I made him a plate of cheddar cheese and goat brie with crackers, a cut-up apple and two slices of this bread. As it happened, he devoured it all as he stood 6 feet from me at the front door. I offered some water – he said no. Actually I think he said heck no, because “do you know how hard it is to find a public restroom now?” I didn’t. Hadn’t even thought about it.

What’s GOOD: everything about this bread is good. I’d definitely make it again. Loved the small portion it made. As I’m writing this, there is still one small slice in the refrigerator. I had a slice for dessert tonight with a little cream poured over it. But it’s a lovely snacking bread.

What’s NOT: only that you need to have an over-the-hill banana to make this. You’ll have very little flavor if you try this with an eating banana with no black streaks on it! Did you know that you can freeze a over-ripe banana in its skin? Then defrost and you’ve got mush already, perfect for going into this little bread.

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Chocolate and Banana Bread – Mini Loaf

Recipe By: From the blog: I am a food blog
Serving Size: 4

CHOCOLATE LAYER:
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar — or sugar substitute
1 tablespoon cocoa — plus 1 teaspoon
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
BANANA LAYER:
52 1/2 grams all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground cinnamon
57 1/2 grams sugar — or sugar substitute
1/2 large egg — whisk and measure out
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons banana — ripe, mashed
1 1/2 teaspoons sour cream — or Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

NOTE: Do use the gram measurement for the flour and sugar. Making a small loaf requires precision in measuring.
1. Lightly butter and flour a mini loaf pan (6×3) inches or a pan that holds 2 cups liquid. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Prepare chocolate batter: combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Mix well, then make a well in the center and pour in the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Whisk until blended. The batter will still be lumpy. Pour into the prepared mini loaf pan and set aside.
3. Prepare banana bread batter: Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and set aside. Beat together the sugar and egg until light and fluffy. Slowly drizzle in oil while whisking, taking your time. Stir in mashed bananas, sour cream and vanilla. Mix just until combined and no flour streaks are visible.
4. Pour this batter on top of the chocolate layer and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 200°F when an instant read thermometer is inserted into the center. The cake should be golden brown on top and the cake will spring back when you gently press it and a skewer comes out clean. Cover top of bread with foil during baking if the top begins to brown too quickly.
5. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then upend the pan into your palm and place on cooling rack until it’s reached room temp. Or until it’s still slightly warm. Use a serrated knife to slice.
Per Serving: 323 Calories; 12g Fat (32.1% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 27mg Cholesterol; 229mg Sodium.

Posted in Breads, on April 4th, 2020.

irish_guinness_quick_brown_bread

In my travel recollection, the crunchy brown bread I had in Ireland in about 1987 was some of the best wheat bread I’ve ever eaten. It wasn’t quite as dark as this bread, and I’m pretty sure it was a yeast-raised bread, but it used a type of milled wheat and grains that was unlike anything I’d eaten up to then, or since. I went to the grocery store with our friends we were staying with and they had rows of warm brown bread.

When I came home from that Ireland trip I looked in my various bread cookbooks for recipes. We didn’t have the internet to research with back then! I tried a couple. Nope. Didn’t measure up. Then someone told me the milled wheat produced in Ireland is different than anything we can buy here. Ah, well, that explained it. So I’d never tried making it since.

My Tivo records any new Ina Garten shows, and when they pop up in my Tivo menu, I’m sure to be watching her show. And this last week she did one on this bread. I was instantly interested and decided to try making it. So glad I did.

irish_guinness_loafIna used a brand of wheat flour called Heckers. I’d never heard of it before, but I learned it’s an East Coast label and is milled in the U.S. It’s carried at some Wal-Mart stores in the East, but I just went online and they’re out of stock (probably because of Ina Garten’s show). I bought an organic, non GMO whole wheat flour which is a finer mill than others – at least finer than ones from regular store shelf brands anyway.

Storing

Wheat Flour:

Just remember, whole wheat flour doesn’t keep for long at room temp – it will go bad – so seal it well and store in the freezer.

What’s different about this bread is how it’s made – the texture. The dry ingredients are stirred into a large bowl, then the wet ingredients are poured in and you use your fingers to lightly – very lightly – stir it together, pulling with 2-4 fingers from the center outward, until the batter (it’s more a batter than it is a dough) is mixed through and no dry streaks are visible. It’s very sticky and wet. Just know this is not like anything you’ve ever mixed before as a quick bread. The batter actually pours. No kneading could be done in any case.

guinness_brown_bread_slice_butterMeanwhile you will have buttered a loaf pan and the batter is poured into the pan and the top sprinkled with some more oats. It goes into a 450°F oven, and immediately you turn the oven temp down to 400° and it bakes for about 45-55 minutes. Use an instant read thermometer – bread is done at somewhere between 195° and 205°F. I took the bread out at 200°F. At 45 minutes my loaf wasn’t done and it took another 10 minutes to reach that temp.

I cooled it for about 5 minutes in the pan, then upturned it and cooled the loaf on a rack. I served this to a group of friends alongside a bowl of soup, with Kerry Gold butter.

SERVING: you will want to slice this bread thicker than a regular yeast bread because the structure of a quick bread is just different – it doesn’t have the glue (gluten) to hold it together. So hold your hand over the loaf, using your 4th and 5th fingers to keep the far edge from breaking off, and use a serrated knife and saw slowly.

What’s GOOD: love-loved the bread. So easy to make – truly. The only oddball thing was buying Guinness stout beer! Loved the flavor and warm flavor from the wheat flour and Guinness. Was this as good as I remembered from Ireland – well, no, but it was close.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

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Irish Guinness Brown Bread

Recipe By: Ina Garten recipe
Serving Size: 12

1 cup oatmeal — NOT quick cooking type, but use McCann’s, plus extra for sprinkling
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour — such as Heckers
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar — lightly packed
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
11 ounces Guinness stout — (11- to 12-ounce) at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk — shaken
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons unsalted butter — melted, plus extra for brushing the pan
serve with salted butter such as Kerry Gold

NOTE: If you use King Arthur Flour, the batter may be thicker – suggestion to use the larger quantity of stout – the batter needs to be very loose – not as loose as pancake batter, but not sturdy enough to roll out and knead, for instance. But this dough isn’t kneaded anyway.
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the beer, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. With your fingers, stir the batter from the middle of the bowl to the outside, until it’s well mixed. It will look more like cake batter than bread dough.
3. Brush a 9 x 5 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan with melted butter. Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle the top with oats. Put the bread in the oven, immediately turn the temperature down to 400°F, and bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean (mine took 55 minutes to reach 200°F). Turn the bread out onto a baking rack and allow to cool completely. Slice and serve with salted butter, preferably Kerry Gold!
Per Serving: 175 Calories; 2g Fat (8.6% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 1mg Cholesterol; 623mg Sodium.

Posted in Breads, lectin-free, on October 15th, 2019.

savory_chaffle_sandwich

That looks like a waffle. No. It’s a chaffle. The sandwich made with two chaffles and tuna salad in between.

Awhile back I know I mentioned that I’ve been craving a simple tuna sandwich. But I wanted it on regular white bread. But traditional white bread’s a no-no on my lectin-free diet. Enter my world – chaffles. The texture of these is nothing like regular waffles. These are soft and tender. And they don’t really have a lot of flavor, in and of themselves. But they offer me a way to have a sandwich without eating any flour. Over the last year I’ve tried other bread types, all gluten-free and grain free. I’ve been less than pleased with some of the almond-flour loaf-style breads I’ve tried, even though some contained yeast which I thought would produce a lighter kind of bread. Well, not in my book, they didn’t. Some keto dieters are just thrilled with breads made with almond and coconut flours. Not for me.

B078BS5B64Chaffles were invented by someone on a keto diet, and the early ones (I guess) were made with shredded mozzarella cheese and a kind of egg batter. But cooks more inventive than I am figured out a way to make them without cheese (although these above I did make with a tiny bit of cheese). They’re a cinch to make, as I explained a few weeks ago when I suggested you go look up the savory chaffle recipe. I’ve had them as a treat – as a waffle with a bit of butter and some lankanto maple syrup. Although I’ve eaten my share of waffles over my lifetime, they’re not something I crave. Using mozzarella cheese is the standard way to make these – because mozzie is so easy to melt and the cheese on both sides of the batter makes for a crispy outside. But if you’re eating the Dr. Gundry diet, regular cow’s milk is out (unless it’s A2 milk, which I do buy but nobody makes cheese from A2 milk, that I know about anyway) so I need to use sheep or goat cheese. So I used grated goat cheddar, and I used very little – I didn’t want the cheese to overpower the chaffle. I make mine in the Sur La Table Dash Mini Waffle Maker pictured at right. If you have a family, you can make these in a regular waffle iron – you don’t have to have this one.

chaffle_sandwich_topMy craving here was for a sandwich, and I’m happy as a clam to be able to enjoy a traditional sandwich now. Although I do have to make some chaffles first, in order to have a sandwich. On Saturday I made 4 of them, gave two to Sara and John who were here visiting. I’d made chili and they had the chaffle along with the chili. That’s why I made these with some cheese as I’d sprinkled cheese over the top of the chili. So the remaining 2 chaffles went into the freezer. A few days later and after 15 minutes of defrosting, they were ready to be made into a sandwich.

These chaffles CAN be cut in half horizontally, but I’ll just say that for me they’re not substantial enough to do that. I tried doing that a few weeks ago and just felt they were too flimsy. If you’re eating a fairly dry sandwich (like sliced roast turkey or beef or chicken with no added mayo) it might work. If you like a bit of mayo spread on the chaffle, though, it could ooze through the holes. If that doesn’t bother you, by all means slice them in half. If you use an extra-large egg, you might get enough of the batter for both chaffles to be a little thicker, and then you would be able to slice them in half. I use large eggs, and for me, maybe I’ll get one chaffle that’s thicker, the other that’s not.

What’s GOOD: well, for me, someone who hasn’t eaten a piece of regular bread in 18 months, these chaffles are a life saver! My craving for a tuna sandwich was assuaged, big time! You could have heard me say mmmmm. So happy! Occasionally I go to BJ’s (restaurant) and I order their turkey burger (without the bun). Next time I think I’ll take 2 of my chaffles with me and I CAN have a turkey burger with more than just wrapping in lettuce. Yea! Or I could order a beef burger if I’m feeling like a treat. When I make them, I make at least a double recipe, maybe more and put the extras in the freezer. They freeze beautifully.

What’s NOT: these are not waffles. If you’re expecting crunchy, crispy, these won’t satisfy, but then they’re not supposed to. They’re tender and soft – perfect for a soft sandwich style. Just know what you’re getting here . . . I have yet to venture into alien territory like adding bacon or onion, or to make them sweet. I’m loving the savory side.

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Sandwich Bread Chaffles

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Two Sleevers blog
Serving Size: 2

1 large egg
2 tablespoon almond flour
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon water
3 tablespoons grated cheese — Mozzarella, cheddar, goat cheddar (optional)
garlic powder or dried herbs (optional)

1. In a bowl thoroughly mix the egg so no streaks are visible.
2. Add almond flour (no lumps), mayo, baking powder and water. Add garlic powder or dried herbs if using (I usually don’t).
3. Heat up waffle iron. If making these without cheese, it’s advisable to spray both top and bottom with olive oil spray or coconut oil spray, then pour 1/4 cup to make one chaffle. IF you desire the cheese, once waffle iron is hot, sprinkle a bit of the grated cheese on the waffle grate, pour in the batter, then top with a bit more cheese. Close lid. Cook these a bit longer than usual – about an extra minute. Use a fork to remove from the waffle iron and place on a rack to cool slightly. Allow waffle iron to reheat before making more. Can be eaten immediately, or cool, package and freeze.
4. Makes 2 chaffles, and you can cut them in half horizontally, to use as a sandwich, although they will be very thin.
Per Serving: 164 Calories; 13g Fat (71.3% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 0g Dietary Fiber; 120mg Cholesterol; 171mg Sodium.

Posted in Breads, on February 4th, 2019.

2_ingred_bagels

A recipe from Sara

2_ingred_toppingsThis is an alternative to yeast breads that takes no time to make and has 10-11 grams protein per serving!  It’s my new favorite. I make this in double batches and my family goes through them within a few days. Always a good sign the recipe is enjoyed. 2_ingred_dough

The only negative is the self-rising flour, as it’s not something I normally use, so I had to buy some specifically for this recipe. And now I have to find a permanent home in my baking drawer!

Notes from Carolyn: you can make your own self-rising flour and store it that way, but if you don’t have self-rising flour and don’t want to have to buy it or store it, use this adaptation: for every 1 cup of all-purpose flour add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

bagels_raw

In writing up this recipe for Sara, and going online to verify instructions, I discovered this gem is now in a Weight Watchers recipe frenzy. “Everybody” is making it – you can make all kinds of things with it: bagels (Sara’s favorite), calzones, pizza dough, pretzels, bread sticks, and even cinnamon rolls. Sara had difficulty making pretzel shapes with the dough (it’s very sticky). If you’re interested, go online and search for “2 ingredient (insert type)” and you’ll find many websites with the same recipe and perhaps more instructions for making the other varieties.Sara used the recipe from a website called Recipe Diaries. You might want to go there and check out some of Jenna’s hints about handling the dough (refrigerate it before shaping). The complete recipe (4 servings) amounts to 11 WW points, in case you’re following their nutrition/diet style.

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2 Ingredient Dough

Recipe By: Recipe Diaries blog (follows Weight Watcher’s)
Serving Size: 4

1 cup Greek yogurt, fat-free
1 cup self-rising flour
1 egg — for wash

1. Mix flour and yogurt together in bowl. Either spray Pam on your hands or dust hands with more flour as dough is sticky. Knead dough until smooth.
2. Divide into 4ths and shape into whatever you want. (I’ve made sandwich rolls, bagels – my preference – pizza crust, hotdog buns…)
3. Place on parchment paper on baking sheet. Whisk egg and brush onto dough. Then sprinkle with whatever topping sounds good. I love the Everything Seasoning from Trader Joe’s or Costco. I’ve also sprinkled mini chocolate chips, herbs and parmesan…. be creative!
4. Bake at 350°F for 22 minutes.
Per Serving: 160 Calories; 2g Fat (8.9% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 26g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 53mg Cholesterol; 437mg Sodium.

Posted in Breads, lectin-free, on December 21st, 2018.

LF_GF_bishops_bread

Most of you won’t appreciate what a masterpiece I think this is. Those of you who are willing to eat wheat and lectins, etc. can disregard this post.

It’s only been in the last 4-6 weeks that I’ve been feeling a frustration with my Plant Paradox diet, the one that doesn’t allow beans, rice, potatoes, winter squashes, bread, corn, tortillas, peas, corn, wheat flour of any kind, etc. For about 8 months I’ve been following the Stephen Gundry diet, and it’s still working, albeit very slowly. But as Christmas was approaching, I was feeling a lot of sadness that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my favorite Bishop’s Bread since it contains a flour-based batter. I decided I was going to “fix” that. I began researching online at several websites that offer recommendations about how to adapt a recipe to GF or LF (lectin-free) or both.

Initially I began with creating a combination of alternate “flours.” It’s 2:1:1 of almond flour, coconut flour and cassava flour (the latter is a flour made from yuca, a tuber, which also produces tapioca). These flours are readily available now at some mainstream grocery stores. I buy the almond flour at Costco, and the other two I bought locally, but have also purchased on amazon. I also purchased xanthan gum, an ingredient you’ll often find in GF foods – it’s not a requirement, but it helps hold things together – baked goods mostly. I also learned that it’s best to double the amount of leavening – in this case it was baking powder, since the rising agent has to work harder in GF mixtures to accomplish the same amount of lift.

With trepidation I began mixing up my bread. First I mixed up my alternative sugar too – I used half Swerve and half regular sugar – with eggs. You don’t get the same kind of lemony smooth texture from Swerve, but I mixed them well enough. I’d added the xanthan gum and baking powder to the flour mixture. And just before combining everything I tossed in the halved maraschino cherries, chocolate chips (Ghiradelli dark) and chopped walnuts into the flour mixture. Technically I shouldn’t have sugar, the sweetened cherries or any chocolate less than 90% cacao. But to enjoy this treat, I figured I wouldn’t be using all that much of it. Or eating all that much of it.

The batter was scraped into a bread pan – I used a 9” loaf pan, but next time I might try to use one of my narrower pans instead as this loaf isn’t as high as usual. In the photo at top, those are 2 slices of the bread you can see, each about 1 1/2 inches high. I baked the loaf for 45 minutes and it was almost over done, but it seemed good as it cooled. I couldn’t wait to upend it and slice off a piece. I waited about an hour and was just thrilled when I took my first bite. Oh, heaven!

When I make this again, I will increase the amount of batter, but leave the additions the same, which will take longer to bake, of course. But I’m a happy camper enjoying a narrow slice of this every other day or so. I mixed up a bigger batch of the alternative flours so I can try it in some other recipe, maybe for a biscuit kind of thing.

What’s GOOD: this means I can enjoy this treat during December after all, although I should be limited on how much. I’m rationing it out to myself so it won’t be gone by Christmas. The bread tastes every bit as good as the regular version and I was happy with the light crumb of the bread/batter aspect. It’s not heavy at all.

What’s NOT: only the acquiring of the oddball alternative flours. Otherwise, this was a cinch.

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LF GF Bishops Bread

Recipe By: my own recipe, 2018
Serving Size: 14

FLOUR SUBSTITUTE MIX:
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup cassava flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
BREAD:
3/4 cup flour substitute (above)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar — scant
1/4 cup Swerve — scant
1 cup walnuts — chopped
1/2 cup Maraschino cherries — halved, drained
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

FLOUR SUBSTITUTES: Combine in a bowl the almond, cassava and coconut flours. Mix well so there are no lumps. Store unused flour at room temp.
1. Combine in a bowl the 3/4 cup of the substitute flour mix, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt. Use a whisk or your hands to mix this well. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare bread pan by placing a piece of cut-to-fit waxed paper in the bottom. Use an 8″ bread pan if you have one.
3. Using a mixer, combine the eggs, Swerve and sugar. Mix well. Using Swerve won’t give you the same consistency as you’re used to with eggs/sugar. Just mix it well.
4. Add the maraschino cherries to the bowl of flour and toss so the wet cherries are coated in the flour mixture. Add walnuts and chocolate chips and mix thoroughly. Pour the egg mixture into the flour/fruit mixture and stir well to combine, making sure there are no lumps of flour.
5. Scrape into a bread pan, smooth top and bake for about 40-45 minutes. When the sides of the bread turn golden brown, the bread is done. Remove to cool on a rack for about 30-45 minutes, then invert and set back right side up to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Use 1/4″ or slightly thicker slices to serve. Using a serrated knife may be useful.
Per Serving (not quite accurate as the alternate flours aren’t included): 147 Calories; 9g Fat (47.9% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 30mg Cholesterol; 144mg Sodium.

Posted in Appetizers, Breads, on September 12th, 2018.

cheesy_shrimp_garlic_bread

Oh my, garlic bread, but on steroids. This is ciabatta bread, sliced in half horizontally, piled with a bunch of cheeses, tomatoes and shrimp. With a bunch of other flavor enhancers added in too.

Having had this at a cooking class, my friend Cherrie and I decided that after having had the watermelon blueberry drink, then this garlic bread, that could have been our “dinner,” and we’d have happily gone home. Not really, but we were somewhat full when we got done with this. (Although, I didn’t eat any of the bread – – the topping was wonderful, just sayin’.)

If you’re ever wanting to have some amped up kind of garlic bread – this is it – and you could serve this without the shrimp as a bread to go with a bowl of soup. If it was fish soup, then the shrimp would be fine there! You could also cut this up into much smaller squares and put it out on a buffet table.

What it is is delicious. Unctuous in my book. All that cheesy stuff going on. Shrimp is cooked through barely, then you add in chopped tomatoes and garlic. Then you chop up the shrimp a bit (or do it ahead of time, which might be easier) and add mayo, lemon juice, mozzarella and Parm. That gets piled onto the top of the ciabatta bread, sprinkled with more cheese (plus some Fontina there also), baked for 18-20 minutes, and garnish with chopped parsley. Phillis Carey made this at a class, and she happened to have bacon fat in a frying pan because she’d cooked up a bunch of bacon for a salad, so she cooked the shrimp in the bacon grease. Which might have made this even more tasty.

You can do all of the work ahead of time, except for piling the mixture on top of the bread – then you bake it. Easy peasy.

What’s GOOD: all the cheesy flavors are wonderful. Gooey deliciousness. The shrimp add something different – bet you’ve never had garlic bread with shrimp on the top, have you?

What’s not: nothing that I can think of. Really good dish.

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Cheesy Shrimp Garlic Bread

Recipe By: Cooking class, Phillis Carey, 2018
Serving Size: 6 (I think more than that)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 packages shrimp — cleaned, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 tomatoes — diced
3 cloves garlic — minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese — grated
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
1 small ciabatta loaf — halved horizontally, lengthwise
TOPPING:
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese — grated
1/4 cup Fontina cheese — grated
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
1/4 cup fresh parsley — chopped

NOTE: Buy a thin ciabbatta loaf if possible, i.e. you do not want height with this as it will be too bready.
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter (if you have bacon fat on hand, use that). Add chopped shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook until pink and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes, then stir in tomatoes and garlic and cook until fragrant, about one more minute. Remove from heat and cool.
2. Transfer shrimp to a bowl and mix with mayo, lemon juice, zest mozzarella and Parm. Season with more salt and pepper.
3. Spread shrimp mixture onto bread and add toppings: more Mozzarella, Fontina, Parm. Bake until bread is crispy and cheese is bubbly and golden on top, 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and add parsley immediately (so it sticks to the bubbly cheese). Cool for 2-4 minutes only, then cut into stick-sized portions and serve.
Per Serving: 393 Calories; 20g Fat (46.1% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 41g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 38mg Cholesterol; 548mg Sodium.

Posted in Breads, on August 29th, 2018.

pumpkin_cr_cheese_muffins_tin

(A post from Sara) These very tasty muffins are great to stuff in my son’s lunches or for snacks. Full of flavor and warm fall spices.

pumpkin_cr_cheese_muffin_batterMy 18-year old H.S. senior son plays football. And he eats a LOT. When my husband and I recently went on Weight Watcher’s, my son lost weight he didn’t need to. Although he says he’s fine at his new, lower weight, he needs tons of calories (and carbs) during football season. That’s like NOW. So, even though I’m not baking much these days, I still need to make things for John.

My mom, Carolyn, was visiting over the weekend, so we made these muffins. ‘Tis the season for pumpkin, and I knew John would like the combination of pumpkin and cream cheese. The recipe is supposed to be a copycat of Starbuck’s version. I found it at Genius Kitchen, but as my mom and I read all the comments (many) we decided to change the recipe some. And after we had made half of them we decided to change it a little bit more.

cr_cheese_fillingThere was cocoa in the recipe, and although we used it, we both decided it didn’t add anything. You couldn’t taste chocolate, so why bother, right? We were glad we didn’t add molasses, but we did up the spices a lot. It called for 1 1/4 cups of oil – we decided to use 3/4 cup of buttermilk and 1/2 cup of oil instead (suggested in one of the comments). These were still very moist and tender. And the biggest tweak we did was, for each muffin cup, to pour 2/3 of the batter in first (instead of half which was the instruction in the original recipe), then spoon the cream cheese filling (a brick of cream cheese, an egg, some sugar and vanilla) across the middle, then we spooned the remaining batter on top, but left some of the cream cheese portion visible. We thought it made these much more interesting to look at.

So, there was a little bit of quality control going on that day – my mom had a couple of bites – and I ate a little bit too. Even though a muffin isn’t on either of our diets. But we needed to tell you these were good, right? And they were. I’d definitely make these again (when I’m off a low carb diet!). All the muffins are safely stored in my freezer to be pulled out as needed.

What’s GOOD: the warm fall spices were the best part, I think. And the look of the top – the cream cheese peeking through. Loved the pumpkin flavor, of course. We thought next time we might use more nuts on top – we were very stingy with them. Be generous.

What’s NOT: only that you do have to make 2 batters, but really, the cream cheese one isn’t difficult in the least. My muffin tin is a bit on the small side, so we got more muffins from this recipe than it indicated. If you have larger muffin tins, of course, you’ll yield fewer. Just so you know . . .

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Serving Size: 32
Recipe By: Adapted from Genius Kitchen

FILLING:
8 ounces cream cheese — softened
1 large egg
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
MUFFINS:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
chopped pecans for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Mix cream cheese with one egg and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside.
3. Combine all the dry ingredients (not the nuts) in a medium mixing bowl and use a whisk to mix everything together well. In another large bowl combine eggs, pumpkin, buttermilk and oil, and use a whisk to mix thoroughly. Pour dry mixture into the liquid mixture and stir until all lumps are gone.
6. Fill muffin tins (greased or paper cups) two-thirds full.
7. Spoon cream cheese cross-wise in the middle with some reaching to the outside edge. Spoon remaining one-third muffin batter on top, allowing some of the cream cheese filling to show, if possible. Sprinkle pecans (or other nuts of your choice) on top.
8. Bake for 18- 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the muffin (do not test in the cream cheese part).
9. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely. Do not touch the cream cheese until it cools.
Per Serving: 168 Calories; 7g Fat (36.5% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 41mg Cholesterol; 145mg Sodium.

Posted in Breads, Brunch, on April 13th, 2018.

budapest_coffeecake_slice

Lovely, tasty coffeecake with a cinnamon and nut filling, made in a Bundt pan.

It’s been years now, I’ve been on a quest. A friend and I went on a Los Angeles gourmet crawl of some kind. It was daytime, and we visited a variety of restaurants and food emporiums. When we paused at a catering place in Santa Monica (I think it was) they served us each a little slice of a Hungarian coffee cake. I was smitten. I asked if they’d share the recipe. Uh, NO. That coffeecake didn’t look like this coffeecake, I’m sorry to say – it was much darker colored batter/cake. It was made in either a Bundt or a tube pan and it had cinnamon in it, some nuts too. It was just so divine. Ever since (and this has been 25 or more years ago) I’ve looked in cookbooks at the library, on the internet, etc. to try to find a recipe for a dark battered coffee cake. But when I looked at THIS recipe I thought well, definitely not a dark batter, but it sounded good nonetheless.

budapest_coffeecake_wholeThe recipe came from Food52, and is credited to Maida Heatter, that diva of all things sweet, and comes from a 1999 cookbook she published. I followed the recipe to a T; however, I’ve made one little change in the directions. When served, as I cut my fork into the cake, it toppled over right where the filling was – because the filling was dry and unto itself. So I’ve added one step – running a knife through the batter and filling layer to help adhere the cake and filling together. Obviously I didn’t do that with the one I made, but it’s such a minor change, you might not even be aware of it. Hopefully, the cake will hold together better.

The filling consists of cinnamon, cocoa, nuts, dark brown sugar and some chopped up raisins. As you layer the sour cream rich batter in the greased Bundt pan, you sprinkle on the filling. Just run your knife through as you add each layer of filling. I didn’t use quite all of the dry filling. It’s baked for 50-60 minutes (I’d lean toward 60 if you make this yourself). I used the toothpick test, but found when I served it that the cake toward the center was still quite wet – I took my cake out of the oven at 50 minutes. Anyway, the cake is cooled, then plated and drizzled with an easy icing.

What’s GOOD: my favorite part was the filling, and the raisins in it. They add a special bit of sweetness. It’s a nice batter – not overly moist, actually, considering there’s 2 cups of sour cream in the batter. The cake part is relatively nondescript, as it’s the filling that makes it.

What’s NOT: nothing really.

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Maida Heatter’s Budapest Coffee Cake

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts, 1999
Serving Size: 12

NUT FILLING:
3/4 cup dark brown sugar — firmly packed
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
3 tablespoons raisins — coarsely chopped (dark or golden)
1 cup toasted walnuts — finely chopped
CAKE BATTER:
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces butter — (1 1/2 sticks) at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs — at room temperature
2 cups sour cream — at room temperature
ICING:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons hot milk — (2 to 3)
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. NUT FILLING: In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients. Set aside.
2. CAKE: Preheat the oven to 350° F and butter a 10-inch Bundt pan.
3. Into a large bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Using a paddle attachment of a stand mixer, cream the butter. Add 2 teaspoons of the vanilla and the sugar and beat on medium speed for a minute or two.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating each until just incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl, as necessary, to keep mixture smooth. Beat at high speed until mixture is light and creamy, about 1 minute.
5. Turn mixer to low speed. Add dry ingredients in three additions and sour cream in two additions, beating only until smooth after each addition.
6. Spread a thin layer of batter in bottom of prepared pan. Sometimes it’s easier to use a small spoon to drop some batter into pan, and then to smooth it together. Top with 1/3 of nut mixture. Run a knife, zigzagging slightly through the batter. Repeat until you have 4 layers of batter into pan and smooth it together. Use a knife to zigzag once with each layer of filling. Top layer will be batter and it’s not necessary to run the knife through that layer.
7. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in center of cake comes clean. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes, then turn out and re-invert on a rack.
8. Combine confectioners’ sugar, hot milk, and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a small bowl. Mix well. Mixture should have the consistency of a thick cream sauce. Place a sheet of wax paper underneath a cooling rack. Pour glaze over cake, letting it run down the sides, while still hot. When glaze is set, transfer cake to a serving plate. Serve cake warm or at room temp.
Per Serving: 611 Calories; 27g Fat (39.1% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 86g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 101mg Cholesterol; 470mg Sodium.

Posted in Breads, on March 8th, 2018.

goat_ch_pepper_biscuits

These tasty morsels go so well with soup, or a stew, or heck, with just about anything.

Making biscuits is really so very easy, and they’re a special treat when you have guests. I don’t suppose I’d make them just for myself – I’d eat more than one, and that would not be a good thing (for me, anyway)! This recipe came from a cooking class with Tarla Fallgatter, and she served them alongside a salmon entrée (recipe up soon). I thought I would want butter on them, but none was served, and really, I didn’t miss the butter. It might have been the “frosting” on the cake to have had butter, but healthier without.

These biscuits are rich – for 16 biscuits, the mixture contains a cube of butter and 5 ounces of soft goat cheese. I can’t say that I could actually taste the goat cheese in them, although there likely was a kind of savory-ness to them, that little bit of bitter (goat cheese  bitter). The parsley gave them good color (see the flecks throughout), and using buttermilk, well, you’ll be assured of a tender biscuit whenever you use buttermilk. Altogether a good recipe, and I’ll be making them next time I need biscuits to serve with dinner. Just remember when you cut the biscuits, don’t twist the cutter (can prevent the biscuits from rising properly as twisting kind of “seals” the low profile of the dough), but press straight down. Or cut square ones with a knife. Either way works!

What’s GOOD: the tender, flaky texture, and the overall taste. A really good, tasty biscuit. And yes, I’ll definitely be making them.

What’s NOT: might need to plan ahead – I don’t always have buttermilk on hand (I’m not crazy about the powdered type) and I don’t always have soft goat cheese on hand either. Everything else – yes.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Goat Cheese and Black Pepper Biscuits

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter, cooking instructor, 2018
Serving Size: 16

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter — cut into 1/2″ cubes
5 ounces goat cheese — soft, log type, crumbled
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons Italian parsley — coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Place dry ingredients in food processor and pulse. Add butter, parsley and goat cheese. Pulse again. Add buttermilk and pulse just to combine.
3. Pat dough out on a lighty floured surface to a 3/4″ thickness into a rounded shape. Using a floured 2″ diameter cutter, cut biscuits. Gather scraps and pat out again, cutting additional biscuits. Arrange on prepared sheets and bake 6 minutes. Turn sheets around and bake until golden brown, about another 8 minutes. Cool biscuits on a rack.
Per Serving: 129 Calories; 6g Fat (44.2% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 17mg Cholesterol; 203mg Sodium.

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