Simple advice for a better life.

My mom always made her own bread for as long as I can remember.  She made the best bread ever.  I wish her recipe was written down, but unfortunately she always baked from memory.

I love the recipe I use for Ukrainian Traditional Easter Bread (Paska).

I also tried making bread in a bread machine, but it was a disaster (the birds in my back yard benefited from a nice bread snack instead, since I never throw away bread into trash).

This time I tried the Dutch Oven recipe (please click here for excellent step-by-step pictures and instructions).

At first I was kind of skeptical, since it does not require any kneading, only 18+ hours of rising on its own without any effort on my part, then it is baked for an hour in a covered Dutch Oven cast iron pot.

I was determined to try it out, and was pleasantly surprised by the look and taste of the baked bread.

This recipe definitely made it to my Pinterest board of  “Recipes Tested and Loved”.

Nothing tastes better than a slice of fresh-baked bread, smeared lightly with soft unsulted butter….aaahhh….so delicious.

My family, and even my toddler grandchildren, absolutely loved it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, the bread was a success.

I did brush off most of the excess flour you see all over the top of this bread, then while the bread was still hot, I rubbed a cold butter stick all over the crust (brushed some olive oil into the crevices), for a more luscious appearance, and to soften the crust (a tip from my mom).

If you prefer a very crusty bread top, you may omit this process.

The recipe is very simple, as it only needs bread flour, dry yeast, salt and water.  I did not have bread flour at home, so I used 4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour and 2 cups of wheat flour, and it turned out great.

Since this time I did not make any changes to the original recipe, please go to the  original site  for a specific list of ingredients and instructions.

I would like to mention that I kept the covered dough in my oven (room temperature….not warmed at all), with the door closed, for about 16 hours rather than 18 hours, as it looked ready at that time.

I did use cooking spray with flour, to spray the bottom of the hot pot, before placing the dough in it for baking.

Also, I baked the bread for 45 minutes, covered, then again for 15 minutes uncovered.  I did use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the bread to be 200 degrees F, as she suggested.  I checked it after 10 minutes of baking it uncovered, and it was only 185 degrees, so I decided to bake it for another 5 minutes.

Here is my bread baking time frame:

  • 9 PM Friday – I mixed the dough, covered it and left it to rise
  • 1:15 PM Saturday – the dough was ready to be formed into a ball, wrapped in a cotton kitchen towel, and rest for 2 hrs.
  • 2:45 PM Saturday – Preheated the oven and placed the Dutch oven in there to heat it up
  • 3:15 PM Saturday – Placed the ball of dough into the hot Dutch Oven and started baking process
  • 3:15 – 4 PM Saturday – baked the bread in a covered Dutch Oven
  • 4 – 4:15 PM Saturday – uncovered the pot and baked the bread until its center  reached 200 degrees F
  • By 5 PM Saturday, the bread was cool enough to slice and sample.

I honestly recommend this recipe, as I know you will be so proud of yourself making a homemade bread that is almost effortless, yet sooooo tasty.

Not to mention the low cost of this loaf of bread!!

Here is a quote of the cost calculation, as posted on the original site:

81 cents for a substantial 2.5 pound loaf of bread

 

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

If you love veggie eggrolls, but are looking for a healthier way to prepare them, rather than deep frying, I have just the recipe for you.

Have you ever tasted baked eggrolls?

Well, I baked mine, and everyone just loved them.

They are very tasty.  Lots of flavor in the filling.  The wrappers are quite crispy, but not  “greasy” crispy,  thus much healthier for you, so you can enjoy them guilt free!

I read several different recipes, and created one to fit my taste.

I used regular green cabbage for the filling, and low sodium soy sauce for dipping.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups green cabbage, shredded
  • 2/3 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh onions, or chives
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (check out my nifty garlic-zoom)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. black pepper, ground
  • 14 eggroll wrappers (or more, depending on the amount of filling you use)

Dipping Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 6 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced

Directions:

  1. Heat up a medium saucepan on stove top with 2 Tbs. of olive oil.
  2. Add chopped onions, and saute for 2 minutes.
  3. Add chopped garlic, and saute 1 minute.
  4. Add shredded cabbage and carrots, and cook until wilted.
  5. Season with soy sauce, sugar, ginger and pepper.
  6. Set aside to cool off slightly.
  7. Using cooking spray, grease the bottom of a baking dish, and set aside.
  8. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  9. Place eggroll wrapper on a work surface, in a diamond shape.
  10. Place 2-3 Tbs. of filling on an eggroll wrap, about 1/2 inch away from the lower corner.
  11. Fold the corner over the filling, then fold left and right sides towards the middle, as if making an envelope.
  12. Gently holding down all these corners with your fingers, roll the enclosed filling toward the top corner of the wrapper, until fully wrapped.
  13. Place the wrapped eggroll, seam down, on the prepared baking dish.
  14. Continue same process with the remaining wrappers, until all filling is used up.
  15. Lightly spray the tops of eggrolls with cooking spray, or brush gently with olive oil.
  16. Bake uncovered for 18 minutes, or until golden brown (I could have baked mine a little longer, for a crispier top).
  17. Enjoy with the soy dipping sauce, or create your own.
  18. To make the dipping sauce, place all ingredients in a small bowl, and mix well with a whisk ,or beat it with a fork.

Enjoy, and share your comments, please.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upside-down cakes always intrigued me, since the beauty of the cake is at the bottom of the pan rather than at the top, and revealed after it is fully baked and inverted. Fancy that?

Pineapple upside-down cakes are so colorful; bejeweled by maraschino cherries.

I call it a “double-decker” pineapple cake, because two upside-down cakes are stacked up to create the finished product.

Cream cheese frosting, and cake crumbs, were used as finishing touches to complete this cake’s decor.

I was inspired by Paula Deen’s recipe, but made several modifications to satisfy my own taste, thus creating a similar, yet different cake.

 Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour (I used Softasilk by Pillsbury)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 14 slices of pineapple (2 -20 oz cans- there will be left overs)
  • 14 maraschino cherries (about 1/2 of a 10 oz jar)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter,melted
  • Cooking spray (I used Baker’s Joy which has flour incorporated in it)

Cake Directions:

  1. Place butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and beat until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
  3. Mix in vanilla extract, and set aside.
  4. Use a medium bowl to mix flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder ( I use a whisk)
  5. Mix in some of the buttermilk into the egg mixture, then mix in some flour, then buttermilk again and end with flour.
  6. Mix all for a minute longer and set aside.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and place one oven rack in the middle of the oven, and the second rack just below it.
  8. Place foil paper on the middle rack, where you will rest the cake pans to prevent any overflow dripping down to the bottom of your oven.
  9. Spray bottom and sides of two 9 inch round cake pans with cooking spray, and flour  them, or use the Baker’s Joy spray with flour, as I did.
  10. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of  brown sugar over the bottom of each cake pan.
  11. Drizzle each with 1/2 cup of melted butter.
  12. Arrange 7 slices of pineapple over the sugar-butter mixture to cover the bottom of each pan.
  13. Place a maraschino cherry in the middle of each pineapple slice.
  14. Pour 1/2 half of the cake batter over the pineapple in one pan, and spread the remaining half of the batter in the second pan.
  15. Place cake pans over foil on the middle oven rack, and bake for 45 minutes, or until the toothpick test comes out clean.
  16. Remove from the oven, and cool for 1o minutes in pan, on a cooling rack.
  17. Invert cakes onto a cooling rack, and let them cool completely.
  18. Once cooled, I inverted them again, and trimmed off the top of each cake, to make it flat for easier stacking.
  19. Place one of the cakes, with pineapple on the top, onto a cake platter, and stack the other cake on top of the first one, also with pineapple on the top, since this will be the final top of the finished cake.
  20. Prepare Cream Cheese frosting, and frost the sides of the cake.
  21. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Cream Cheese frosting Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese (not Fat Free or even 1/3 less fat – this will make the frosting too thin)
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. pineapple juice (left over from the canned fruit)
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar

Directions:

  1. Place the cream cheese and butter in a medium mixing bowl, and mix until well incorporated and creamy.
  2. Beat in vanilla extract and pineapple juice.
  3. Add confectioners sugar and mix well until smooth and creamy.

Happy frosting, and enjoy the delicious cake.

 

TIP:  I placed two pieces of wax paper over the cake platter, slightly overlapping at the center, before placing the cake on it for frosting, to prevent the icing from getting on the platter. Once I completed frosting the cake, I gently pulled out each piece of wax paper from under the cake, and discarded it.

 

 

Today was a very cold winter day, so my granddaughter and I spent our Saturday together indoors, doing lots of fun projects.

We both love crafts.  Her latest fascination is cutting with scissors, using glitter, and doing fun projects in the kitchen.

Today we made a lovely Valentine owl, Ballerinas in snowflake tutus, jeweled princess crown, and rice krispies treats in  mini ice cream cones, dipped in melted chocolate, and topped off with sprinkles, of course.

Since she loves assisting her mom, and grandma, in the kitchen, making the rice krispies was a lot of fun for her.  Her favorite part was dipping the cones in sprinkles…..lots of sprinkles, as you can see.

We basically followed the rice krispies directions on the cereal box, but instead of spreading the mixture in the pan, we formed cone shaped treats, and fit them into mini ice cream cones.

Then we melted some chocolate chips to use for dipping the  rice krispies “ice cream” tops into.  Next, we  dipped the still wet chocolate cone tops into colorful sprinkles.  Topped off each “ice cream cone” with a miniature marshmellow dabbed in chocolate, to help it stick better.


It was a fun project, and she was very proud to serve these treats to all of us, while wearing her princess crown.

 

Cranberry Cheesecake – Recipe

I have been surfing the net for a cheesecake recipe, and found a picture on Pinterest, of a quite appetizing looking Cheesecake with Cranberry topping.

My daughter volunteered to try this recipe as a dessert for our special family gathering.  I had the pleasure of tasting it, and taking few pictures.

We all really enjoyed this dessert, as the homemade cranberry sauce used for topping, added an interesting flavor an otherwise plain cheesecake.

I will definitely make it cheesecake for Thanksgiving, since I am not a big fan of pumpkin pie, and usually make Pumpkin Roll, instead.

I am listing all the ingredients and directions, for your convenience, but strongly encourage you to visit the original site for more tips, and great pictures.

While visiting the original site, you will notice that her cheesecake’s crust is on the bottom and sides, where my daughter used the crust for the bottom only.

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups gingersnaps crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup  unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

Crust Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the gingersnap crumbs, sugar and butter, until crumbs are moist.
  3. Mix in the chopped cranberries.
  4. Use a springform pan, and press the mixture down over the bottom of the pan.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Set aside to cool.

 Cheese Filling Ingredients:

  • 3 -  8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbs. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cheese Filling Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In large mixing bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, and flour, at medium speed until smooth.
  3. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla.
  4. Beat until well combined, but do not overmix.
  5. Pour mixture over the baked crust in the springform pan.  Smooth it out evenly with the back of a spoon.
  6. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes.
  7. Reduce temperature to 300 degrees and bake 25 to 35 additional minutes, until center of cheesecake is set, but still soft.
  8. Turn off oven, leave the oven door ajar, to cool cheesecake in oven about 30 minutes.
  9. Remove cheesecake from oven, cool 1 hour on a wire rack, and run a sharp knife around edge of cheesecake.
  10. Release and remove the outer band of springform pan.
  11. Leave the cheesecake on the sprignform bottom, cover it loosely, and refrigerate for several hours , or overnight.
  12. Before serving, you can slide the cheesecake off the springform bottom and place it on a serving platter, or leave it as is.
  13. Scoop the cranberry topping over the top of the cheesecake, and smooth it out nicely.

Cranberry Topping Ingredients:

  • 12 oz package fresh, or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water (or apple juice)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. grated orange peel

Cranberry Topping Directions:

  1. Combine cranberries and sugar in food processor.
  2. Pulsate to coarsely chop cranberries.
    Place chopped cranberries in a medium saucepan.
  3. Add 1 cup water (or juice),and orange peel.
  4. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally.
  5. Reduce heat, and simmer about 10 minutes, or until mixture is reduced to 2 1/3 cups.
  6. Stir occasionally, to prevent it from sticking and scorching.
    Remove from heat and cool.
  7. Cover, and refrigerate overnight, or longer.
  8. Use as topping just before serving.

 

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!

 

 

TIP:  Don’t worry too much if your cheesecake develops a crack during cooling period.  The cranberry topping will cover it up nicely.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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