Springy Yum-Yum Bread

ADVANCE WARNING: This recipe is for bread that is rather addictive in nature and the recipe/instructions are intended for a bread machine, so if you’re a hands-on baker, I dunno what to tell you….there may be a site that tells you how to convert bread machine recipes?

Anyways, I LOOOVE my bread maker. I tried many times to replicate my Nana’s bread recipes–which were delicious and supposed to be easy to make–and every last loaf I made tasted entirely of yeast. Gross. I enjoy neither the taste of yeast nor hops (so I don’t like beer, either, ha!) SOOO when I got engaged, I added a bread machine to my registry. Of all the things I registered for and got (including a beautiful KitchenAid mixer in mint, lots of baking ware and gadgets), it’s probably the thing I use the most. Besides my silverware and pretty dishes, of course. I do love my dishes–they can make just about anything look pretty, which is good since my presentation tends to be somewhat weak. I make a 1.5-2 lb loaf of bread pretty much every week; either this delicious bread I’m about to share with you or the yummy Italian Herb bread that was in the bread maker recipe packet that came with the machine. If I have another ‘lazy’ week (like this week) where I edit like crazy and don’t have time to devote to ‘real’ baking, I’ll post the Italian herb recipe. The recipe I’m sharing today is fantastic for breakfast, snacks, and padding your waistline. Also, I apologize–I don’t have a gluten-free version of this.

SPRINGY YUM-YUM BREAD–1.5 lb loaf

  • 1 cup room-temp water
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 large egg, beaten–room temp is best
  • 2/3 cup milk or heavy cream–room temp (heavy cream is wonderful in this bread!)
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup baking cranberries or ‘Craisins’
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast (bread machine yeast is awesome)
  1. Measure out carefully the wet ingredients and dump them into the bread pan. You don’t want any of them to be hot (because it will mess with the yeast) but if they are too cold, it will cause your butter to solidify into little chunks. The almond extract is optional; I honestly can’t taste enough of a difference with or without it that if I didn’t have it in my cabinet I would go out and buy it. It’s not exactly cheap.

2.  Stir the ingredients up so that they’re somewhat blended together.

3. Measure carefully–level out all dry ingredients so you get the exact amount required–the salt and the flour and evenly pour them on top of the wet ingredients. You want them to be completely covered so that at the end when you add your yeast, it won’t touch the liquids. Add sugar and again pour across the pan to spread it out.

I’m not into brand names Craisins cost half as much as ‘baking cranberries’.

4. Here’s where we have a discrepancy–how you do this step is up to you. You can either put a little hollow in the middle of the flour and pour in your yeast (and again, make sure it’s not touching anything wet) and THEN add your almonds, coconut, and cranberries (spreading evenly over the top) OR you can pour the yeast in, shut the lid, and wait until your machine beeps at you during the kneading cycle to add them in. I prefer to dump everything in at once so that I don’t forget and also can walk away until the bread’s finished baking lol.

Kinda looks like a big bowl of granola, doesn’t it?

5. Snap your baking pan into place in your bread machine, close the lid, and choose the ‘sweet bread’ setting. On my machine it’s #4.

6. Choose 1.5 pounds as your loaf size, and set your crust color preference to either medium or dark–this is a very ‘wet’ loaf and is very white, so even if you select dark, it will not come out dark and it’s better that it’ll be in there that much longer/hotter while cooking through. Mine gets to a nice golden brown but is still very very soft on the sides. Hit the start button.

Look at that pretty dough ball!!

When your bread is done baking, either pop it out of the pan or leave it in–but don’t cut it until you’ve let it cool for at least 10 minutes so you don’t destroy it. Storage: this bread will keep on its own at room temp for 4-5 days; you can also keep it in the fridge for 1-2 weeks, just beware that it will be rather hard and will need to be warmed up in a microwave to be enjoyed properly ;o). It’s quite delicious with sweet butter. I tried cream cheese too but wasn’t crazy about it.

 

Super Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I am going to share with y’all my second all-time favorite cookie recipe (my first favorite I’ll save for another post!): Super Chocolate Chip Cookies. Why are they super? Because they have 3 special ingredients that regular chocolate chip cookies lack: pecans, chocolate morsels, and Nutella. Are you drooling yet?? And of course, you can also do these with gluten-free flour too!! The Nutella makes a delicious creamy center in each cookie 🙂

SUPER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: Yield: about 30 cookies

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup softened butter

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup regular sugar

2 eggs

1 small package vanilla pudding mix

1 Tbsp vanilla


2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (OR 2 3/4 cups gluten-free flour–recipe HERE )

1 tbsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 12oz package Ghiradelli milk-chocolate morsels (important! don’t get the cheap stuff!)

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

1 cup quick oats

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Get out two bowls. Isn’t my workspace cute?

2. In bowl #1, beat shortening and butter til creamy, gradually add in sugars til blended. add eggs, beat until blended, then add pudding mix & vanilla and mix thoroughly.

3. In bowl #2, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the dry ingredients into bowl #1 with the wet stuff a little at a time until blended. It’ll be nice and doughy. Chop the pecans up–you really don’t want chunks that are any bigger than the size of a TicTac–and add those and the oats into the dough and use the mixer to blend them evenly.

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4. Those morsels are important!! Add them into dough and knead by hand til evenly dispersed. There are a ton of chips, so there shouldn’t be any dough without multiple chips in it haha.

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5. Now comes the messiest part–the Nutella!! This is what makes these little beauties so special! Get a spoonful of dough and flatten it in your palm until it’s about half a centimeter thick, then press it into your palm to make it a shallow bowl shape. Scoop about a half tablespoon of Nutella with a butterknife and press it into the middle of your palm. Then press the sides upwards to close up the ‘bowl’ shape of the cookie and use a pinch of dough to fill in the top and seal in that Nutella goodness. It’ll be a nice ball shape and should be a bit bigger than a ping-pong ball. If you are doing the gluten-free version of this recipe, put those suckers in the refrigerator for about an hour so they can firm up.

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6. Place dough balls 2 inches apart on parchment-lined or nonstick cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for ten to twelve minutes–if you are using a convection oven, bake eight to ten minutes.

7. Let them cool for a few minutes and then enjoy with a tall frosty glass of milk!

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BABY FACES: Annika Mae at Turnipseed

Y’all. This baby girl is literally Little Miss Sunshine!! She is the happiest, most joyful baby. She thinks everybody is hilarious, too, so if nobody else will laugh at your jokes, we know she will! We encountered quite a thunderstorm about halfway through her session but once the rain died down a bit we went right on shooting and enjoyed the coolness from the rain. Rain or shine, Turnipseed is beautiful and Annika is just as adorable as can be!

DIY: Wedding Cake Ornaments

I am so excited to share with y’all my little clay creations!! I’m giving these to my brides & grooms to commemorate their special day. Each one takes from 4-6 hours to make, depending how detailed it is. They have foil on the inside to make them weigh less (and use less clay) and are between 2 and 5 inches tall :o) I’m hoping to also get commissions from other photographers to make these. Aren’t they so cute?!? They are the perfect way to remember your wedding and make wonderful First Married Christmas ornaments!

 

 

 

 

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Scones — Strawberry or Cranberry!

Hi again! I’m going to share with y’all my delicious scones recipe. I typically make it with fresh strawberries but I did it with dried cranberries back at Thanksgiving and my family loved it. The dough also freezes well so you can make half now and have the rest later! ANNNNND???? You can make it gluten-free so easily!!!!!! To be completely honest, I actually prefer the gluten-free version. Like a lot. Yum! With no more ado….

Scones: yield 8 medium-sized scones or 12 small ones

*if you are doing the gluten-free variety, do it exactly the same way but substitute the  ingredients with the red ingredient next to them)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (*or 2 1/2 cups basic white gluten free flour (recipe HERE)*)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup cold chopped butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream (*or 1 cup coconut or vanilla Greek yogurt–do NOT use regular yogurt, which has too high of a water content–coconut or vanilla are best as well because the sweetness of the flavor will counteract the sourness of the yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries or dried cranberries

1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir til blended. Using a pastry blender, cut in the chopped butter until the mix resembles coarse crumbs. Note: the colder the butter is, the better. This is not one of  those recipes where room temp or melted will work!

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2. In a smaller bowl, beat eggs and then add whipping cream. Stir until mixed–don’t overbeat (we don’t want fluffy!)

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3. Pour egg mixture into flour mix and start kneading!

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5. Knead just until blended–dough should be lumpy. Stick it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes–this allows the dough to set up a bit so that when it’s in the oven it doesn’t flatten out into pancakes! **Especially important for the gluten free variety!! You want it super cold when it goes into the oven**

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6. While your dough is chilling, get out the strawberries and start chopping! (If you’re doing dried cranberries, go ahead and just separate them so they aren’t stuck in a huge clump, then skip ahead step #7). 2 or 3 large strawberries is enough; chop them to about the size of a raisin or smaller. This is the part where Zippy gets real interested in what I’m up to :o) The boy loves his fruit & veggies.

IMG_2289Gently drop the strawberries onto a paper towel and pat them dry. Flip them over by hand and then pat a bit more dry. You don’t want all that juice getting into the dough and turning it into a giant sticky mess! Go ahead and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

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7. Once the dough is cooled down, turn half of it out onto a floured surface and gently flatten it into a thick circle. Press 1/4 of your berries into it, then fold top over (like an omelette) and press another 1/4 of the berries on top. Gently knead it a couple times or until berries are evenly disbursed.

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Flatten it into about a 1 inch thick disc and then cut it into either 4 or 6 wedges.

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At this point, you can repeat with the other half of the dough and either stick it in the freezer to bake later or prepare it to bake now.

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8. Line a pan with parchment paper (my favorite versatile kitchen tool!!) and place scone wedges 2 inches apart. At this point, some people choose to brush a bit more cream over the top of each and sprinkle sugar over them; it just depends how sweet you want them to be (without this step they’re just creamy and slightly sweet).

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9. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. If using a convection oven, bake 10 to 12 minutes. While they’re baking, you can make a yummy glaze to pour over them using a half tablespoon of orange juice and a half cup powdered sugar. Drizzle over them after they cool down. I like them with it because it makes them a little tangy but they’re yummy dry as well.

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Serve to hungry people and maybe impress your British friends!!