Rosemary Focaccia

I love the smell of fresh baked bread.  Heck, I love the smell of the yeasty-ness from the time it is all mixed up until it comes out of the oven.

In fact, I love the smell almost as much as I love eating bread.

Zack and my favorite grocery store has shelf after shelf full of focaccia bread.  I really wanted to try some, but of course, I had to try making it myself.  It turned out beautifully.  I was so pleased.  It was really easy to make, too.  Plus, it has one of my all-time favorite ingredients in it – rosemary!

I wonder if it bothers people that I don’t take the time to take really artsy pictures of my food.  My mindset is, I just spent all the time making it, I don’t want to waste time setting up a photo session just for one picture…and allow the food to get cold.

I love to eat way too much for that!

Zack and I are leaving tomorrow for Pennsylvania Amish Country to celebrate our three year anniversary.  I am so excited for this trip!  I can’t believe we’ve been together three years.  Ah, I am so in love.

PS – remember that wreath I mentioned in my previous post, totally finished it and I love it!

Rosemary Focaccia

– 2 medium onions, chopped

– 1/4 c olive oil + 3 T, divided

– 1 1/2 t active dry yeast

– 1 1/2 c warm water, divided

– 1/2 t sugar

– 1/2 t salt

– 3-4 c AP flour

– 2 T fresh rosemary or 2 t dried, divided

– cornmeal

– coarse salt

In a large skillet, saute onions in 1/4 c oil until tender; cool.  In a large mixing bowl; dissolve in 1/4 cup warm water.  Add sugar and let stand for 5 minutes.

Add 2 T oil, salt and remaining water.  Add 2 c flour.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Add onions and half of the rosemary.  Knead 1 minute longer.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Punch dough down.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface, divide in half.  Pat each piece flat.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  Grease 2 baking sheets and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Stretch each portion of dough into a 10-in circle on prepared pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.  Brush with remaining oil.  Sprinkle with coarse salt and remaining rosemary.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Yield: 2 loaves.

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Honey Whole Wheat Bread (Breadmaker)

Zack’s parents got me a breadmaker for Christmas!  It’s the really nice kind that makes square loaves of bread.

I “loave” it!  Har har.

I have had a couple of recipes for bread in a bread machine laying around and I was pretty excited to actually be able to try one out now.

I chose this one because it’s healthy and gets its sweetness from a natural source, honey, instead of sugar.

I really can’t believe how easy it was to make bread with a breadmaker.  Just throw all the ingredients in there and three hours later you have a beautiful, delicious little loaf of bread!  I think my days of buying bread at the grocery store are over.

The texture of the bread and of the crust were perfect.  I absolutely love my bread machine!

Honey Whole Wheat Bread for Breadmaker

– 1 1/8 c warm water (110 degrees)

– 3 T honey

– 1/3 t salt

– 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour

– 1 1/2 c bread flour

– 2 T vegetable oil

– 1 1/2 t active dry yeast

Add ingredients according to the manufacturer’s directions to your bread machine.  Use the wheat bread cycle and light color setting.

Mini Bread Loaves

Every year on the Sunday before Christmas, my mom has Christmas dinner at her house.  Her two brothers, their families, her parents, and her fiancee’s mom all come.  It is a great event full of joy and holiday festivities.

The older adults decided not to exchange gifts this year and decided to just buy for us younger folks.  I still wanted to do something nice for my grandparents and aunts and uncles, so I decided to make some mini breads for them.

My mom bought me a set of mini loaf pans a while back and I had been looking for an excuse to use them.

The first set of breads that I decided to make was Cream Cheese Pound Cakes.  Well, I had no idea how long to bake them (or how full to fill the pans) so they did not turn out very well.  I burned the edges and the pans overflowed.  Luckily, I set the mini pans on a baking sheet, so that they didn’t overflow into the oven.

Since they turned out so ugly (and the edges were definitely unedible), I decided just to keep these and will be using the middles of them for something, I just haven’t figured out what yet.

I’m not throwing away the recipe, because the middle of the loaves was really good, I just needed to work on baking times and the actual filling of the pans.

 

Cream Cheese Pound Cakes

Prep: 20 minutes.  Bake ~ 50 minutes.

– 1 1/2 c butter, room temperature

– 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

– 3 c sugar

– 6 large eggs

– 1 t vanilla extract

– 3 c AP flour

– 2 t salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  With an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Add sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well until each addition.  Mix in vanilla.  With mixer on low, add flour and salt in two additions, beating until just combined.

Generously coat 5 mini loaf pans with cooking spray; immediately pour in batter (pans will seem full).  Tap pans on work surface to eliminate any large air bubbles.

Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out almost clean, ~ 50 minutes, check after 30 minutes.  If the tops begin to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil.

Cool 10 minutes in the pan.  Turn out the cakes, cool completely with top sides up, on a wire rack.

 

These turned out much nicer.  These actually looked like cute little mini loaves.

I wish I had taken a picture of how I gifted them to them.  Mom and I wrapped the baby loaves in saran wrap and put ribbon around them (and labels saying what they are) and put them in a little snowman gift bag.  They were adorable.

Plus, there is something so special about homemade gifts.

 

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

– 1 box yellow cake mix with pudding

– 1 (3.4 oz) pkg instant chocolate pudding

– 1/2 c sugar

– 3/4 c vegetable oil

– 3/4 c water

– 4 large eggs

– 8 oz sour cream

– 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine cake mix, pudding and sugar with a wire whisk to remove large lumps.  Add oil, water and eggs, stirring until smooth.  Stir in sour cream and chocolate chips.  Pour into greased and floured mini loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until done.  Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool completely.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

These turned out the best looking.  Both the banana bread minis and the chocolate chip pound cake was very moist and fresh looking.

Everyone who got their little bread bags seemed to really appreciate them.  Seeing others happy because of stuff that I have made makes me so happy.

I love my family so much and am so thankful for them.

Banana Bread Minis

Prep: 10 minutes.  Total 50 minutes.

– 1 package yellow cake mix

– 1 package (3.4 0z) banana cream flavor instant pudding

– 4 eggs

– 1 c water

– 1/4 c oil

– 1 c mashed, fully ripe bananas (about 3)

– 1/2 c chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 5 foil mini loaf pans with cooking spray.

Beat first 5 ingredients in large bowl with mixer 2 minutes or until well blended.  Add bananas and nuts; mix until just blended.  Pour into prepared pans.

Bake 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.  Cool completely.

Applesauce Spice Bread

Sorry for my sporadic posting recently.  This was finals week and I was BEYOND busy.  I feel like I have spent zero time at home, but it is all finally over.  Hello Christmas break!  Time for baking, spending time with family, and relaxing!

I actually made this bread a while back, but haven’t had a chance to post about it.  As part of my fall baking, I made some homemade slow cooker applesauce.  We ate some of it, but the recipe made a lot, so I decided to use it for baking.

I shared this bread with my dad and other coworkers and they seemed to like it.  The spices make it such a great fall bread (but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until next fall to try it out!).

I LOOOVVE bread! 🙂

Applesauce Spice Bread

– 1 stick butter

– 1/2 c white sugar

– 3/4 c light brown sugar, packed

– 2 eggs at room temperature

– a mix of 1 cup applesauce with 1 1/2 t baking soda

– 2 c cake flour or all purpose flour

– 1/2 t salt

– 2 t ground cardamom or cinnamon

– 1/2 t grated nutmeg

– 1/2 t ground ginger

– 1/4 t ground cloves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly butter a bread pan.  Line it with wax paper or parchment paper, then butter and flour it.

Cream the butter with the 2 sugars in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides in between additions, then stir in the applesauce mix.  Stir the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then add them to the butter mix and stir just enough to combine well.

Turn into the pan and bake in the top third of the oven until firm and a cake tester comes out clean, about 50 minutes.  Let cool in the pan 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

I’m not a big fan of Red Lobster.  I think it is way overpriced and the food is really not that amazing.  However they do have one thing going for them – their cheddar biscuits.  Zack and I both love them!  (Who wouldn’t?  Cheesy, buttery, garlicky goodness!)

My mom actually came across this recipe and shared it with me.  I’m so glad she did.  They are so easy to make (especially since you use biscuit mix!) and taste exactly like Red Lobster’s.

Now Zack and I can save our money and eat the same exact thing at home!  I love learning to make restaurant dishes!

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

– 2 1/2 cups bisquick baking mix

– 1 cup cheddar cheese, finely grated

– 3/4 cup whole milk

– 2 T butter, melted

– 1/8 t garlic powder

– 1/4 c butter, melted

– 1/2 t garlic powder

– 1/2 t dried parsley flakes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine bisquick with cheddar cheese, milk, 2 T melted butter, and 1/8 t garlic powder in a medium bowl.  Mix until well-combined.

Drop approximately 1/4-cup portions of the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Combine 1/4 c melted butter with 1/2 t garlic powder, and parsley flakes.  Brush this mixture over the tops of each unbaked biscuit.

Bake for 14-16 minutes or until tops of biscuits begin to turn light brown.  Serve warm.

Hearty Sweet Potato Braids

I love sweet potatoes and I love bread, so I knew this recipe was going to be a big hit.

I was right 🙂

This bread was sweet, but not overly so and had such a flaky, wonderful texture.  I usually try to limit my bread consumption for nutritional reasons, but I ate a huge hunk of this one.  It was so yummy and moist, too!

I gave my dad this loaf, because he really likes sweet potatoes, too.  Zack does not like them!  Isn’t that crazy?  They are so, so good.

Hearty Sweet Potato Braids

Yield: 2 loaves

– 1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast

– 1/4 c warm water (110-115 degrees)

– 1 1/2 cups mashed sweet potatoes, room temperature

– 1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees)

-1/4 cup canola oil

– 3 tablespoons honey

– 1 cup all purpose flour

– 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

– 2 tsp salt

– 1 tsp dried thyme

– 2 3/4 – 3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

– 1 tsp cold milk

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add the sweet potatoes, milk, oil, honey, AP flour, cornmeal, salt, thyme, and 2 cups whole wheat flour.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining whole wheat flour to form a firm dough.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Place in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turn once to coat top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; divide into 6 equal portions.  Shape each into a 20-inch rope.  Place 3 ropes on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and braid.  Pinch ends to seal and tuck under.  Repeat with remaining ropes.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 35 minutes.

Brush loaves with cold milk.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove to wire racks.

Easy Parmesan Knots

I am a big fan of making things from scratch.  I love the satisfaction of spending time making something and then getting to enjoy it (especially when others are enjoying it with me).

However, sometimes there just isn’t time to make everything homemade.

These Parmesan Knots are the answer to that.

They are just canned biscuits with seasonings and butter.  Simple sounding, but delicious tasting.

I made these with Fettuccine Alfredo the other night.  Zack LOVED them!

Up close view of the buttery, cheesy, yummy-ness.

Pasta dishes like Fettuccine Alfredo are relatively quick dinners, so the easiness of these fit well with those type of dinners.

Easy Parmesan Knots

– 1 tube (12 oz) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

– 1/4 cup olive oil

– 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (from the green can)

– 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

– 1 teaspoon dried oregano

– 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

Roll each biscuit into a 12-inch rope and tie into a knot; tuck ends under.  Place 2-inches apart on a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; brush the warm knots with the mixture.

Simply-A-Must Crescent Rolls

I love bread.  I love eating it.  I love making it.  Heck, I even like smelling it.

The only thing I do not like about making bread is the insane amount of time you have to wait for it to rise.

These crescent rolls are the perfect answer to that problem.  They still have to rise twice, but for only a total of 40 minutes.  That is a huge improvement from the other breads that I have made that have required ~ 2 hours to rise!

I was really impressed with how cute these turned out.  They actually looked like the crescent rolls from a can (I’ll admit – I usually use that kind).

I halved the recipe when I made them, but it still only made about 10 rolls.  I don’t know how they got 3 dozen out of twice what I made.  Maybe mine were bigger than the ones that they made.

I made these when I made dinner for my dad and Zack last weekend.  See Whipped Sweet Potato Casserole and Grilled Citrus Chicken.  They complemented both dishes really nicely.

I really want to try making French croissants but it is such an intense recipe with a million steps that I am a little intimidated.  I am waiting on a snow day where I am stuck in the house with nothing to do to attempt them

These were so easy that I might say goodbye to the canned crescent rolls forever…sorry Pillsbury 😉

 

Simply-A-Must Crescent Rolls

Yield: 3 dozen

– 5 1/2 – 6 cups all purpose flour

– 1/2 cup sugar

– 1 tablespoon quick rise yeast

– 2 teaspoon salt

– 1 cup milk

– 1/2 cup canola oil

– 3 eggs

– 2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt.  In a small saucepan, heat milk and oil to 120-130 degrees.  Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened.  Add eggs, beat until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining flour to turn a soft dough (dough will be sticky).

Turn onto a floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Cover and let rise for 10 minutes.  Divide dough into thirds.  Roll each portion into a 12-inch circle, brush with butter.  Cut each circle into 12 wedges.

Roll up wedges from the wide end and place point side down 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray.  Curve ends to form crescents.  Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pans to wire racks.

Pull-Apart Garlic Parmesan Bread

This is the best bread I’ve ever made.  Zack and I both agree.  I made it to go with the homemade lasagna (see homemade lasagna).  The buttery-ness combined with the garlic and cheesy-ness made for a perfect combination.

Plus, the bread turned out nice and fluffy, just the way I love it.

I like that you make this bread in a bundt pan, too. The pan allows it lots of room to rise and gives it a neat shape.

It takes a lot of time to make though, it has to rise for 2 and a half hours total plus almost 30 minutes of baking.  Actually that makes it the perfect bread to make with the lasagna, because like I mentioned in the lasagna post, it also takes hours to make.

The bottom part of the bread looks lighter in color and I’m not really sure why.  It tasted the same as the top.

I will be making this bread again soon I’m sure (not soon enough according to Zack).

Pull-Apart Garlic Parmesan Bread

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1⅓ cups barely warm water

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

3½ cups all purpose flour

¼ cup butter, melted

1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast and water. Let sit 5 minutes until yeast is foamy. Mix in the olive oil, salt, and flour. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until dough is elastic, 7-10 minutes. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rise for 1½ to 2 hours, or until dough is doubled in size.

In a small bowl, combine melted butter, parsley flakes and minced garlic, set aside.

Punch down the dough. Tear off small pieces of dough (roughly the size of the bowl of a medium spoon), coat in the butter mixture, and place in the bottom of a bundt pan. Repeat this process until you have one layer of dough balls. Sprinkle on ⅓ of the Parmesan cheese. Continue layering the dough balls and cheese until you have 3 layers. Cover the pan with a clean towel and allow to sit until dough has doubled in size, 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until bread is golden brown. Serve hot with a side of marinara sauce.

Garlic Butter Breadsticks

I’ve always loved bread.   I used to consider bread my favorite food.  I also enjoy making bread (until it sticks to the counter and makes a huge mess).  I made these breadsticks when I made four cheese ravioli, but I’m sure they would be good with any Italian dish.

Garlic Butter Breadsticks

– 1 packet yeast

– 2 cups very warm water

– ¼ cup sugar

– 3 cups flour

– 1 stick butter, melted

– 1 tsp garlic powder

– 1 tablespoon salt

– 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

– 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Add the warm water to a large, glass bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top, then the sugar. Stir slightly and allow to sit for 15 minutes (the mixture in the bowl should be foamy).

Stir the flour into the mixture one half cup at a time, adding just enough to make the mixture soft, pliable and not too sticky, but not so floured that it becomes a heavy hunk. Knead it until the dough becomes elastic.

Pull a round of dough into your hands (about the size of a small apple) and roll out into a thick rope (breadstick shape). Place on a baking sheet that has been covered with parchment paper.

Once all dough has been rolled out, you can bake immediately or allow to rise 15-30 minutes for a more fluffy breadstick.

Place breadsticks in the preheated oven, allow them to cook for 5 minutes, then turn up the heat to 400 degrees and bake them until golden brown, about 7-10 minutes more.

As soon as you remove your breadsticks from the oven, mix together melted butter, sea salt, and grated Parmesan. Drizzle over hot breadsticks. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve immediately.

 

Enjoy!:)