Country White Bread

Country White BreadIf you follow my blog, you might have noticed that I’ve been experimenting with lots of bread recipes in the past few months.  I found this one at Pennies & Pancakes and thought it looked wonderful.   If you haven’t made homemade bread before, there’s an extensive tutorial for this recipe, complete with detailed instructions and step-by-step photos.  I halved the recipe and baked it in two 8×3 loaf pans the first time I made it, but I’ve also baked it in a 9×5 pan.  The photos are from the 8×3, so they look small, but I used the larger loaf when I made bananas foster french toast.  I was really pleased with this recipe and will definitely continue to use it for a white sandwich bread.  I would like to try substituting half the flour with whole wheat flour and maybe adding honey (I’ll update you as soon as I do!).Country White BreadCountry White Bread

Country White Bread (yield 1 9×5 loaf, 2 8×3 loaves)

  • 1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp oil
  • 3 – 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  1. Dissolve sugar and yeast in water and let set for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the oil, then 3 cups of flour, mix it a little, then add the salt.
  3. Mix thoroughly and then knead until dough is smooth, elastic, and a tad sticky (6-10 minutes).  You can do this by hand or in a stand mixer with dough hook.
  4. Cover the bowl with a dishtowel and let rise until doubled.  I placed mine in a warm oven with a bowl of water on the bottom rack and let it rise for about 1 hour.
  5. Punch dough down and knead for another minute or so.  Divide it in half and form each half into a loaf.
  6. Cover with a dishtowel and let it rise until the dough is about 1-2 inches above the top of the pan (about an hour for me).
  7. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.  Remove from pans and allow to cool on a wire rack.Country White Bread

Light and Fluffy French Loaf

French Loaf via elisebakesI’ve been on a bread-making kick lately.  I think in part, I just realized the economical benefits of baking my own bread…and then, I obviously love the taste of warm bread, fresh out of the oven – not to mention the lovely smell that wafts through each room!  This french loaf was softer and fluffier than the last one I made.  The crust wasn’t as ‘crusty’ or hard (it was just hardly crisp), but that made it less like an actual french bread and more like wide sub bread.  Maybe if I had baked it a little longer it would have had a harder crust, but really I loved it just the way it was – I just wouldn’t necessarily call it a french bread.French Loaf via elisebakesFrench Loaf via elisebakes

French Loaf (from food.com)

    • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
    • 1/4 cup warm water
    • 1/4 tsp sugar
    • 1 cup hot waterFrench Loaf via elisebakes
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
    • 1/2 Tbsp salt
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 2 1/2 – 3 cups flour
  1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water.
  2. In a large bowl, combine hot water, sugar, salt and oil.  Add 1 1/2 cups of flour and mix well.
  3. Add the yeast mixture and stir.
  4. Add 1 – 1 1/2 cups more flour and mix until well blended; it will be sticky.  Cover bowl with a dishtowel and let rise for an hour, mixing a few strokes every 15 mins.
  5. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces and roll each out to desired length.  Then roll up lengthwise like a jelly roll and place sealed side down on a greased cookie sheet.
  6. Slash the top diagonally every couple inches with a sharp knife.  Brush with egg white.
  7. Preheat oven to 400.  Let loaves rise for 30 minutes, then bake for 25-30 mins.

Cucumber Tomato Feta Pasta Salad

Don’t get me wrong, I love living in Wisconsin – really, I do! –  but sometimes, the cold weather is just a little too…cold.  To take my mind off of the frigid temperature outside, I cranked up the heat and whipped up a nice summery pasta salad!

Cucumber Tomato Feta Pasta Salad

  • 2-3 cups cooked pasta
  • 1/2 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 1/4-1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • pinch dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp Basil Parmesan Vinaigrette Dressing (or any vinaigrette or none and up the olive oil/vinegar)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp vinegar (any kind, but I used white)
  1. Combine the vegetables and pasta and mix.
  2. Add the seasonings, vinaigrette, olive oil, and 1 Tbsp vinegar and mix to distribute evenly.
  3. Give it a try and add vinegar or additional seasonings to your taste.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour and a half.
  5. Serve!

Cheesy Orzo with Broccoli

Cheesy Orzo with Broccoli via elisebakesI love orzo.  I love it even more when it’s smothered in cheese.  This was an easy and delicious dish that I see reappearing on my table in my future, maybe with some more vegetables thrown in.

Cheesy Orzo with Broccoli via elisebakesCheesy Orzo with Broccoli (serves ~3)

  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ~1 1/2 cups frozen broccoli cuts, thawed
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used colby jack)
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring a pot of water and sea salt to boiling.  Add orzo and cook for 5 minutes.  Add broccoli cuts and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until orzo is tender.
  2. Drain thoroughly.
  3. To the now empty pot, add butter and heavy cream.  When butter is melted, add cheeses and orzo/broccoli mixture and mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste and additional cream (or milk) if necessary.Cheesy Orzo with Broccoli via elisebakes

Easy 3-Step French Loaf

 French Loaf via elisebakesI whipped up a loaf of this French bread a couple nights ago; it was delicious! It had a light, crispy crust and tender inside.  It was really big, so you could half it or divide it into two loaves (even three) if you wanted!  On top of that, it was so easy to make – just three steps!.  If you don’t have a breadmaker and want to prepare this traditionally, well then it becomes a bit less simple. French Loaf via elisebakes
 French Loaf via elisebakesEasy French Loaf (from food.com): French Loaf via elisebakes

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or 1 1/2 tsp fast rising yeast)
  1. Place ingredients in bread machine in the order called for by breadmaker instruction booklet (water on bottom, then dry ingredients, yeast sprinkled on top). Set for dough.
  2. Remove dough and form into loaf on floured surface without punching down.  Placed on greased cookie sheet (or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper) and allow to rise 1 hour.
  3. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350. French Loaf via elisebakes

Wondering what that yummy pasta you see up there is?  It’s homemade alfredo sauce tossed with sauteed garlic and tomatoes..delicious!

Garlic Breadsticks

Garlic Breadsticks via elisebakesI used this recipe from King Arthur Flour, but I used a DIY self-rising flour (you just add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1 tsp salt for each cup of flour).  They had a biscuit-like consistency and texture, but they had a great flavor.  My brother was over for dinner that night and he said they were a little garlicky – I would like to add that there is no such thing as too much garlic.  I think the garlic chunks on top were just a little much for him, but I thought that made it all the better.  I served them with homemade alfredo sauce – yum!  Would I make these again?  I don’t know, my husband really liked them and they were very easy, so probably.

Garlic Breadsticks  

  • 8 Tbsp butter (1 stick), cut into pieces
  • 4 cloves of garlic,
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup milk 
  1. Line a 9×13 with tin foil and preheat oven to 450.
  2. As oven is heating, place the butter in the pan and put it in the oven to melt the butter.  Be sure to watch it and remove as soon as the butter has melted.   Add the garlic to the pan and use a spoon to spread it out throughout the pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together.
  4. Add the milk and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.  Form the soft dough into a ball and gently fold it over three or four times.
  5. On a generously floured surface, roll it out and cut it using a sharp knife.  I made my breadsticks a bit bigger than the ones in the recipe because I didn’t want quite as many – I think I had 10 total.
  6. Place the bread sticks in the pan and turn them over to coat both sides together.  I also used a spoon to scoop the garlic pieces on top of the breadsticks.
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes, until light golden brown.

 Garlic Breadsticks via elisebakes

“OMG Chicken” and Creamy Skillet Corn

OMG ChickenI stumbled across a pin titled OMG Chicken on pinterest and it sounded too easy not to try.  It had a broken link and I couldn’t find the dish on the website it was pinned from; fortunately the directions were in the pin description.  I cut it in half for a quick and easy dinner for two…well, I’m a vegetarian so it’s dinner + lunch for my husband.  He loved it, though!  And with how easy it was to prepare, I can definitely see myself making this again.  I served it with a creamy skillet corn that was amazing and  just might be is definitely my new favorite way to serve corn!OMG Chicken

“OMG Chicken”OMG Chicken via elisebakes

  • 2 chicken breasts, thawed (slice in half if very thick)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan
  • pinch of garlic salt and pepper
  • Italian breadcrumbs for sprinkling
  1. Place chicken breasts in a 9×9 baking dish lined with foil.
  2. Mix sour cream, Parmesan, garlic salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Slather over chicken breasts and sprinkle Italian breadcrumbs over top, I used maybe 2 tsp.
  4. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes for a thinner breast, up to 45 minutes for a thick one.

OMG Chicken

Creamy Skillet Corn (serves 2, from plainchicken.com)Creamy Skillet Corn via elisebakes

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • grated Parmesan for sprinkling
  1. Melt butter in a skillet, then add corn, salt, pepper, sugar,and water.
  2. Cover and simmer 5 minutes or until corn is heated thoroughly.
  3. Combine flour with milk, whisk with a fork until smooth. Stir into corn.
  4. Cook five more minutes, stirring constantly.

Mozzarella-Basil Crusty Bread

Mozzarella Basil Crusty Bread When I first came across this Crusty Bread recipe, I knew I would eventually get around to making it.  It’s been a little over 6 months and I did it!  I put my own spin on it and added garlic, mozzarella, and basil.  It was delicious with a nice hard crust that made it great for dipping in soup!

Mozzarella Basil Crusty Bread

Crusty Bread (adapted from Simply So Good)Mozzarella Basil Crusty Bread

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon yeast
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups water (next time I will cut this down,  maybe start with 1 or 1 1/4 and then add more if I need to)
  1.  In a large bowl, whisk flour, salt, garlic powder, basil, and yeast together.  Add the mozzarella and mix it up a bit.
  2. Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms – a wooden spoon works well for this.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 12-18 hours (mine sat about 14).
  4. Preheat oven to 450; when heated, place an empty  crock pot well with aluminum foil over the top in the oven and heat it for 30 minutes.  My crock pot is pretty big, and the loaf spread to take the shape of it – next time I will use something a little smaller so it’s not as flat.  You can use a cast iron pot with lid, a dish with lid or foil covering the top, or anything that can handle the heat.
  5. While the crock pot well is heating, pour the dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape it into a ball.  [If you wish to double the recipe, this is the point at which you should separate it and form two balls.]
  6. Cover the ball with plastic wrap you had covering the dough to set until the rest of the half hour is up.
  7. Remove the hot crock pot well from the oven and add the dough to it.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  Then, bake an additional 30 minutes uncovered.
  8. Carefully remove bread and allow to cool on a cooling rack.Mozzarella Basil Crusty Bread

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Homemade Soft Pretzels via elisebakesI made these pretzels this weekend and was very impressed!  They were so easy to make and were perfect;  great taste and a fluffy texture.  Oh, and on top of that, they were done within 30 minutes. That’s right, toasty warm soft pretzels ready in a half hour!  We served them with beer cheese fondue dip for a little get together we hosted – it was phenomenal!  The recipe made quite a few, so I’ll cut it in half if I’m making them just for the two of us.  Regardless, I think it’s safe to say I’ll be making these again! Homemade Soft Pretzels via elisebakes Soft Pretzels (from Sally’s Baking Addiction)Homemade Soft Pretzels via elisebakes

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 packet active yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 – 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 large egg
  • course sea salt for sprinkling
    1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees and line one (or two depending on how big you make your pretzels) baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Add warm water to a bowl and sprinkle yeast over top.  Mix with a whisk until dissolved (there might be a few clumps, that’s okay!).Homemade Soft Pretzels via elisebakes
    3. Add salt and sugar and mix.
    4. Add the flour, one cup at a time until the dough is no longer sticky (I used just over 4 cups); it helps if the flour has been sifted or mixed with a whisk first.  A wooden spoon was perfect for this.
    5. Knead the dough for 5 minutes on a floured surface and shape into a ball.
    6. Using a knife; cut dough into sections about 1/4 cup in size.  Using 1/4 cup sized sections, I ended up with 14 soft pretzels (wondering why there are only 11 in the picture?  We got a little eager and dove in as soon as they were out of the oven…oops!)
    7. Roll each section into a rope – mine were 17-19 inches long.  Shape into a pretzel.
    8. Whisk the egg in a shallow bowl.  Dip each pretzel into the egg and place on parchment paper.  Sprinkle with salt.
    9. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn oven to broil and broil for 3-5 minutes until top is golden brown – be sure to watch it so they don’t burn!

Homemade Soft Pretzels via elisebakes

Creamy Baked Artichoke Dip

Creamy Artichoke Dip via elisebakes

Your thighs will forgive you, I promise.  This dip is one of my favorites and always a crowd pleaser.  I usually add a couple handfuls of frozen spinach, but I didn’t have any this time.  If I am entertaining, I double the recipe and cook it in either a 9×13 or a large round casserole dish.   It’s also great if you put a tablespoon of the dip on a crescent roll, fold it it into a little pocket and bake it – delicious! Artichoke Dip via elisebakes

Creamy Artichoke DipArtichoke Dip via elisebakes

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 14 oz can of quartered artichokes
  • optional: additional mozzarella and parmesan to sprinkle on top before baking
  1. Drain artichokes and cut them up.  They don’t have to be too finely chopped; I usually cut each quarter into fourths.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add cheeses, garlic salt, pepper, and artichokes and mix to incorporate.
  4. Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle with additional cheese if you wish.
  5. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until top begins to turn golden.Artichoke Dip via elisebakes