Artisan monkey bread

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Artisan monkey bread??” And now you’re humming “One of These Things is Not Like the Other.”

Oh that’s just me?

Anyhoo…

I bought Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. And it’s awesome. Great concept, especially for those of us who are prone to thinking, at 5:00 in the evening, “Ooh fresh bread with supper would be great!” Poor planning = no bread. Or it did, but not now. NOW I have bread dough in my fridge, ready at a moment’s notice. Ready to become chewy pizza dough, or a crusty loaf for supper or… monkey bread.

My gorgeous baby sister got married this weekend, so our very dear friends came to stay the weekend with us. I was scooting out in the morning before everyone was up, but I wanted to have something ready for everyone for breakfast anyway. So I did this:

I rolled little balls of my refrigerated artisan dough and plunked them into a cake pan. I – wait for it – do not own a Bundt pan. I know — how is that possible?! But I don’t. So silicone cake pan. I melted some butter and drizzled it over the dough, then covered it and stuck it back in the fridge overnight. Then I melted half a stick of butter in a measuring cup and stirred in a tsp. of vanilla and 1/2 cup of brown sugar; I covered that and put it in the fridge too:

I left intructions to let the pan sit out on the counter while the oven was preheating to 350, then bake for 15 minutes. At that point, nuke the topping until it’s pourable, then pour it over the bread and bake for 15 minutes more.

Now, want to know what happens when you do such things but forget to ask for a picture of the pretty finished product? You come home to this:

I love it! Reckon it was good, huh?

So, to recap:

  • Roll chunks of artisan bread dough, about donut hole size; I made around 40
  • Drizzle with a couple melted Tbsp. melted butter
  • Melt 4 Tbsp. butter and stir in 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla for topping
  • When ready to bake, leave on counter to puff a bit while oven preheats to 350F
  • Bake for 15 minutes
  • Drizzle on topping
  • Bake for 15 minutes more
  • Don’t burn your fingers ;)

Oatmeal peach muffins

I cooked down and pureed a bunch of peaches, thinking I would sneak it into yogurt for The Kiddo. Unfortunately he’s onto me and watched the yogurt preparation with an eagle eye. Plan B: something sneakier.

So I found this recipe here (there are TONS of peach recipes! Check them out!) and gave it a go, with a little modification.

You will need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 cups oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup pureed peaches
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk

Easy assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Mix together flours, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon
  3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add peaches, vanilla, egg, oil and milk
  4. Mix together till just combined — do not overmix
  5. Scoop batter into greased or lined muffin cups and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean

Oatmeal peach muffins

I cooked down and pureed a bunch of peaches, thinking I would sneak it into yogurt for The Kiddo. Unfortunately he’s onto me and watched the yogurt preparation with an eagle eye. Plan B: something sneakier.

So I found this recipe here (there are TONS of peach recipes! Check them out!) and gave it a go, with a little modification.

You will need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup pureed peaches
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk

Easy assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Mix together flours, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon
  3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add peaches, vanilla, egg, oil and milk
  4. Mix together till just combined — do not overmix
  5. Scoop batter into greased or lined muffin cups and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean

Cast iron: a cautionary tale

Want to know what happens if you let your cast iron sit around, unused, with a lid fused to the skillet? Allow me to show you.

Please to remember: I have a love of cast iron. A serious, deep, and abiding love. And the pretty, shiny skillets to prove it:

See how pretty and shiny and glossy they are? Teflon has nothing on these. Nothing.

Now, here is a skillet and lid that someone gave me recently. Oy.

This. Is. Not. Good.

I feared the worst, but tried to attack it on my own. I put the skillet and lid in the oven and turned on the self-cleaning cycle. This baked off all the gunky, sticky seasoning and left me with just rust. But a lot of rust. Fine-grade sandpaper is no match for this.

Next step: finding someone with a sandblaster. Seriously. See?

This has become quite the project.

Honestly, I’m giggling a bit at the mental image of moseying into a body shop wielding a cast iron skillet.  Will I look like a woman scorned coming to seek revenge on someone? “No, don’t run! I just want to make bacon!”

Say hello to my little friend

I’d like you to meet my BFF in the spice cabinet: Miracle Blend.

Why do they call it that? Well, because it is indeed a miracle. For reals. It is the fastest, easiest way to transform anything with a single spice (that makes it sound a little bit like Superman). I use it on:

  • corn
  • pasta salad
  • croutons
  • salad
  • green beans
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • chicken
  • steak
  • popcorn
  • potatoes

The list could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Mine is in that cute little shaker because I buy it by the pound. It’s that good. I’ve actually been to their little place in Michigan (on a trip to see The Yankee’s family) and it’s ADORABLE. And they let The Kiddo eat a ridiculous amount of their crackers, which he actually liked (that’s another miracle).

So get some! Go now! The Yankee loves their Char Broil It for steaks, and I love the Lemon Pepper on chicken. But the Miracle Blend, people. Can’t live without it.

Pasta salad

We go through a lot of this in the summer. It’s so good, so quick, and so easy to change it up with whatever you have on hand. For this batch I used:

Boil the pasta and drain but do not rinse; you want all that starch to say on there so the dressing sticks to the pasta. Let the pasta cool a bit, then add everything but the cheese. Cover and put in the fridge till it’s cold, then add the cheese. I usually add more dressing at this point too because a lot of the first addition has absorbed, and I like a lot of dressing on it. Then just toss and serve!

To shake things up a bit you could add:

  • Feta cheese
  • Gorgonzola cheese
  • Chopped peppers
  • Lemon juice
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Olives

Go crazy with it! This travels really well, so it’s a no-brainer for taking to parties in the summer — just be sure to bring some extra dressing with you so you can add and toss just before serving.

Pain de Mie

Do we all remember my Pain de Mie fail? Cute, right? Well this is what happens when you actually have a pain de mie pan:

Square bready goodness.

Following this recipe from King Arthur Flour (I know, you’re shocked), I let the bread rise to within about 1/2 inch of the top of the pan, then slid the lid on:

And it came out great! The Kiddo loves it (that’s huge) for cinnamon toast in the morning, and Sunbutter sandwiches for “wunch.”

I cut the loaf in two and froze half; the other half goes in our breadbox or the bread bag, where I slice as needed. Honestly, I’m not totally sold on a whole bread storage system. What do you do with homemade bread? Slice it all then freeze? Freeze a solid half loaf? Nom it all so fast there isn’t any to freeze? Or…?