Pepperoni Roll-Ups

I hosted Christmas Eve again this year and, for dinner, served this Bolognese with some fun pasta and a gorgeous green salad. For appetizers I kept it simple-some hummus, crackers, cheese, olives etc… I wanted to serve something warm also though.  These pepperoni roll-ups fit the bill perfectly. Super easy to make and even more delicious! I followed the recipe but I think next time I will halve everything and make double the amount at half of the size.

I think you could probably make these ahead of time and leave them in the fridge until you’re ready to bake them.

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Pepperoni Roll-Ups

 Ingredients:

  • 1 8oz tube of refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 16 slices of quarter-sized pepperoni, cut into quarters
  • 2 pieces of 1oz mozzarella string cheese (2ozs total) cut into quarters
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (or oregano, garlic salt and onion powder)
  • 1/2-1 cup pizza sauce for dipping

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a rimmed baking tray.
  2. Unroll the dough and separate it into the 8 outlined triangles. On each piece place 8 quarters of pepperoni then place the piece of cheese on the small corner and roll it up starting with the short side. Pinch the seam across the dough to seal. Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning.
  3. Place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes. Watch them carefully.
  4. Warm the pizza sauce while they’re baking.
  5. Remove them from the oven and let them sit for 2-3 minutes then serve immediately with the warmed pizza sauce for dipping.

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Adapted from Taste of Home.

 

Ruby Red Grapefruit, Meyer Lemon and Olive Oil Cake

I was so glad to see the Meyer lemons back in the store a few weeks ago. I bought a few of them with the intent of finding something to bake/cook/mix. The season is so short and I didn’t want to wait.

Coincidentally, the next day, I spotted a gorgeous cake on Cheese Curd in Paradise. A grapefruit and olive oil cake.  I saw it and thought “well why not? Grapefruit and Meyer lemons are delicious together! ” I also had a grapefruit in my fridge to use up. So the recipe below was hatched. It’s a lovely lightly flavored, moist cake that is very easy to make. No mixer needed-just a few bowls and a spoon.

Any left over glaze is perfect for dipping strawberries into also!

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Ruby Red Grapefruit, Meyer Lemon and Olive Oil Cake

Ingredients (Cake):

  • Non-stick baking spray
  • 1 & 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 2 tbsp ruby red grapefruit zest
  • 1 tbsp Meyer lemon zest
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup very good quality olive oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp table salt
  • 1 tbsp ruby red grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 tbsp Meyer lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1/3 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt

Syrup

  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup ruby red grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed)

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tbsp ruby red grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 tbsp Meyer lemon juice (freshly squeezed)

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 and prepare a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. Place the sugar and zest in a large bowl and smush it through your fingers until it gets slightly pasty.
  3. To the sugar mixture add the oil, whisk to combine, then the eggs-one at a time, stir until evenly combined scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. In a smaller bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to evenly combine.
  5. In a small bowl mix the juices and yogurt and whisk until evenly combined.
  6. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures to the sugar mixture-alternating but beginning and ending with the flour. Stirring to combine in between each addition. Do not over mix.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out on the top. Give the pan a few light taps on the counter to get out any air bubbles.
  8. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  9. While the cake is baking make the syrup. Place the ingredients into a small sauce pan, cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir it from time to time. Set it aside.
  10. When the cake is done let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes. While the cake is cooling place a cooling rack over a large piece of parchment paper or foil. Place the cooling rack on the top of the cake and carefully turn it upside down to release the cake from the pan onto the rack. Place it over the foil or parchment and, using a skewer, poke holes about 2 inches into the cake. Slowly pour the syrup evenly over the top of the cake. Leave the cake to cool completely.
  11. Make the glaze by combining all of the ingredients above in a small bowl and whisk to combine and form a smooth even mixture. Drizzle the glaze over the cake slowly and evenly. Let it set and serve.

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Adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Cheese Curd in Paradise.

Gingerbread Cookies

I’m not sure why but I’d never made gingerbread before. The recipes always scared me a bit. Maybe it was the molasses. I do love it though–such a not-sweet cookie and so ‘holiday’.

I was so glad (and somewhat terrified) when the What’s Baking group theme was revealed-GINGERBREAD!

And you know what? I was afraid for no reason. They were so easy to make! Such a small ingredient list, a simple procedure.  I’ll admit the first batch that I cut into man shapes ended up looking like aliens-but I figured out that it was because I rolled the dough too thin and it got warm.  You need to keep your dough COLD. Really really cold. And keep it rolled to no thinner than 1/4 inch.

While the recipe stated to roll half of the dough at a time, I found using only 1/4 was much easier for me to keep the temperature right.

So have fun!! Fear not!!

I didn’t get to decorate my gingerbread cookies. Since I was serving them as part of the dessert for my Christmas Eve get together I decided to let everyone decorate their own-how fun it was!  Since I’m not the best with decorating cookies it saved me some crooked-decorating humiliation too.

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Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup molasses (regular/original)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 & 1/2 cups unbleached AP flour (I used King Arthur brand)

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Instructions:

  1. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan set over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, molasses, salt and spices.
  2. Pour the butter mixture into a large mixing bowl and set it aside to let it cool to lukewarm. Then beat in the egg.
  3. Whisk the baking powder and baking soda into the flour. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.
  4. Stir until completely combined. Don’t over-mix.
  5. Divide the dough into 4 even pieces and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Cool them in the refrigerator for at least an hour-but up to one day.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. When the dough has chilled sufficiently roll it to 1/4 inch thickness using parchment paper on the bottom and plastic wrap on top.
  8. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and carefully transfer the shape to the prepared baking sheet. Reroll and cut the scraps or add to the batch in the fridge.
  9. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until firm. Mine took exactly 9 minutes as I like them a bit chewy.
  10. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a minute or 2 then carefully (I use my fish spatula for this) transfer them to cooling racks.
  11. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  12. Once cooled completely you can decorate them. The cookies will keep for at least a week in an airtight container un-decorated.

I used moose, owl, snowflake and the typical gingerbread man cookie cutters. They came out great!!

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Here’s the ‘make your own’ set up. Some sprinkles, some frosting pens….

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Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s recipe.

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Baked Rigatoni with Sausage

It’s time again for the recipe swaps!! This time around it’s ‘Blogger’s Choice’ meaning you’re assigned a blog and choose a recipe that sounds great to you.

I was given Kate’s blog and found quite a few that I’d like to make but ultimately picked this one. It sounded great for fall, easy to make and nice for a weekend dinner in.  It was a huge hit with everyone who tasted it.  I lightened up the recipe a bit by using chicken sausage and part skim mozzarella.

I don’t know who thought to put the garlic bread on top of the pasta under the cheese but I’d like to meet them and give them a hug. What  a SUPER idea!!

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Baked Rigatoni with Sausage

 Ingredients: 

  • 1.5 lbs. sweet Italian chicken sausage
  • 8 oz rigatoni, dry, then cooked al dente
  • 4 tbsp olive oil plus 1 tsp separated
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped small
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 26oz can marinara sauce (I used Trader Giotto’s) or use homemade
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil chopped, plus 8 whole fresh leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus 3 tbsp
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 10 oz frozen garlic bread loaf, defrosted
  • 3 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, cut into 8 even slices.

Instructions:

  1. Cook the sausage and slice into thin coins. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the 1 tsp olive oil. When hot add the onion and cook for a few minutes to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Reduce heat to low and add the marinara sauce.  Let it heat, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes to incorporate the flavors.
  3. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F.
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine the cooked sausage, cooked pasta, sauce, 1 tbsp basil, pepper and the 1/2 cup Parmesan. Stir it gently to evenly coat everything.
  6. Gently pour the mixture into the prepared dish.
  7. Make 6 even slices through the garlic bread (resulting in 12 halves top/bottom slices). Using the non-ends line 4 pieces over one half of the pasta and the other 4 pieces over the other half to have 2 rows.  Sprinkle the remaining 3 tbsp of Parmesan over the bread. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the bread and exposed areas of pasta.
  8. Place the 4 tbsp of olive oil in a shallow dish. Gently dip each tomato slice in and coat it with the oil. Shake off the excess and place one tomato slice on top of each piece of bread.
  9. Bake, uncovered, for about 15-25 minutes until cheese is melty and bubbly.  It only took about 15 minutes for me.
  10. Remove the pan and gently tip up one of the tomato slices and slide one of the remaining full basil leaves underneath it. Repeat with each tomato.
  11. Allow the dish to set for about 10 minutes.
  12. Slice and serve.

Note: I sprinkled some more grated Parmesan on the 4 end pieces of the bread, wrapped them in foil and heated them in the oven with the pasta.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Adapted from http://www.katerecipebox.com/2011/09/26/baked-ziti-with-sausage/

 

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Pumpkin Sugar Cookies with Spiced Glaze

It’s time for the next installment of What’s Baking?. This time around the theme is pumpkin or squash (appropo, no?).

I love these sugar cookies!! They’re pillowy soft and so chewy and delicious. A hint of pumpkin, a hint of spice and sugar all rolled together with a thin layer of spiced glaze.

They were very easy to make and have stayed perfect in an airtight container for a few days. I froze half of the dough so that I can make them again soon.

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Pumpkin Sugar Cookies with Spiced Glaze

Ingredients:

Cookie:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup more for topping
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Glaze:

  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 4 tbsp almond coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. Prepare cookie shee(s) with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl put the butter, oil, pumpkin, and eggs. Mix until well combined and smooth.
  4. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and pumpkin pie spice.  Whisk well to combine and break up any lumps.
  5. Add 1/4 of the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix to combine, scraping down any on the sides of the bowl. Repeat until everything’s combined.
  6. Spoon large 1 tbsp mounds of the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
  7. Place the additional 1/2 cup sugar on a deep plate.
  8. Using the bottom of a glass dipped in the sugar, flatten each cookie round to 1/2 inch, dipping the glass into the sugar before each cookie.
  9. Bake for 8-10  minutes. They will not brown.
  10. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes then transfer to cooling racks with waxed paper or foil underneath.
  11. Mix the glaze. Spoon about 1 tsp over each cookie.
  12. Allow glaze to harden.

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Adapted from wishesndishes.com

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Chicken Curry Soup

I based this soup on the Curried Udon Soup in the Birthday 2014 issue of BBC Good Food.  I LOVE curry and don’t cook with it as often as I should. This is a wonderfully warming, light soup which is surprisingly filling and satisfying thanks to the chicken, shirataki noodles and tons of veggies.

I find that shirataki noodles are really great for soup because they don’t get mushy or disintegrate like regular pasta noodles and they reheat perfectly. I cook them separate initially to get rid of the moisture and incorporate a bit of sesame and curry flavor into them. I like this brand the most. If you’ve never cooked with them don’t worry-they’re easy. I’ll explain fully below.

Yummy? check

Healthy? check

Easy to make? check

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Chicken Curry Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 cup fat free low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp yellow curry* separated
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 8oz packages Tofu Shirataki spaghetti noodles, drained, rinsed and drained again
  • 1 13.5 oz can light coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 16oz package frozen stir-fry veggies (I used Trader Joe’s)

Instructions:

  1. In a dutch oven or large pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook almost completely. Add the onion and cook for a minute. Add the 2 tbsp curry powder and stir. Add the coconut milk, a bit at a time, stirring. Add the chicken broth, honey and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. While the soup is cooking put the sesame oil in a pan over medium/high heat. When hot add the noodles and stir for a few minutes to evaporate some moisture.  Add the remaining curry powder and continue stirring and cooking until almost dry. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the vegetables and cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Place 1/4 of the noodles into the bottom of each bowl. Ladle 1/4 of the soup over the noodles.

Note: for left overs store the noodles separately from the soup. Add the noodles before reheating.

Regarding the preparation of the noodles: they are packaged in liquid. To prepare pour the noodles into a colander and shake off as much moisture as possible.  Rinse them with clean water and drain again.  At this point you can put them aside until they’re ready to use. I find that cooking them in a pan until they’re almost dry really makes a difference.

*I used the British Curry from Teeny Tiny Spice Company of Vermont.

Rice and Beef Mexi-Skillet

This one-pan meal is very delicious and very easy to make.  It’s a big mash-up of yummy–ground beef, rice and beans, spices and cheese.  You probably have most, if not everything, to make this in your pantry already.  I love weeknight dishes that I can set to simmer for a few minutes-it allows me to clean everything up while it finishes cooking.

Feel free to change the spices around to your particular taste. The recipe below gives a bit of a kick but it’s not spicy (in my opinion anyway).

This would also be great on nachos, Husband ate it rolled in a tortilla, I just ate it straight out of the bowl. Both helpings :)  Leftovers reheat beautifully.

 

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Rice and Beef Mexi-Skillet

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground sirloin
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped small
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated or minced fine
  • 1 15oz can crushed tomatoes (not drained)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp Goya seasoning
  • 1 8oz box Goya Rice and Beans (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup light mexican blend shredded cheese (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • Fat free sour cream (for topping)
  • Sliced avocado (for topping)

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium/high heat. Cook the beef until nearly cooked through, drain, then add the onion and garlic, cook until onion is soft -just a few minutes.  Drain fat again if needed. Then add the tomatoes, seasoning and spices and mix to combine.  Transfer the beef to a deep plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  2. In the same pan bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the contents of the rice box and boil for 30 seconds.  Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook until rice is tender and water is absorbed-about 25 minutes. If necessary add a few extra tbsp of water to cook rice.
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the beef and then stir in the cheese.  Let it rest for a few minutes until the cheese has melted.
  4. Garnish and serve.

Greatly adapted from Goya’s Cheeseburger Rice recipe.

 

Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal

Fall is definitely here and pumpkin is out and about in all of it’s glory.  This past Sunday morning was a beautiful Long Island fall morning-chilly and crisp with the leaves just only barely beginning to change colors.  In other words the perfect morning for some delicious warming oatmeal.  Last October I posted this recipe for Maple & Brown Sugar Steel Cut oats and I used it as the basis for the oatmeal below. It’s a perfect satisfying delicious start to the day.

This isn’t a sweet or pumpkin pie like oatmeal-if you’d like it more sweet feel free to add it in, but I’m ok with just a sprinkle of brown sugar. For more of a pumpkin pie flavor add some pumpkin pie spice.  Also note: it saves and reheats wonderfully.  The recipe below makes a few cups.

sparksfromthekitchen.com pumpkin steel cut oatmeal

Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk with coconut
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • pinch of cinnamon (to taste)
  • 2 tsp real maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • brown sugar (for topping)
  • walnut pieces (for topping)

Instructions:

  1. In a deep sauce pan boil the water. Lower the heat to low and add the milk and oatmeal. Stir occasionally and cook for 20 minutes.
  2. In the mean time cook the pumpkin puree over medium heat in a small skillet with the cinnamon over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the syrup, vanilla and pumpkin puree to the oatmeal, stir and cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Top with brown sugar and walnuts and enjoy.

Delicata Squash Chili–slow cooker

So we’re coming up on the last weekend of summer. What a fantastic summer it has been-full of outdoor fun, friends, family and baseball.

But I’m ready for fall. It’s such a gorgeous time of year-the colors of the trees, the crisp blue or gloomy grey skies, fall festivals and I can finally pull my boots out again. I miss them all summer.

Even though there’s still summer left last Saturday started cold and rainy. So naturally chili came to mind immediately. The result of pulling different items from my pantry was delicious! Just enough heat, different tastes and textures and it’s very very very good for you.

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If you’re not familiar with Delicata squash it’s shaped like a giant pickle and is green and white striped. You can eat the skins but I prefer to remove them for this recipe. The taste is similar to acorn squash-perhaps a touch sweeter. They’re much easier to cut and peel than butternut or acorn squashes. Here’s a photo of the cap of the squash and the diced pieces. I forgot to take a photo of the complete squash but you get the idea :)
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Delicata Squash Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 4 cups (about 2) delicata squash, peeled, seeded and cubed to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 16oz can low sodium black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 16oz can low sodium red kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 20 oz can fire roasted tomatoes (I used Muir Glen)
  • 8ozs frozen corn or canned corn rinsed and drained
  • 4ozs green chilis
  • 1 & 1/2 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • fat free feta cheese for garnish
  • sliced avocado for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a shallow pan over medium high heat melt the coconut oil. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, to soften.  Add garlic and stir to cook. Add spices and cook for 1 minute to coat and heat.
  2. Place the onion mixture and all ingredients above through and including the chicken broth, into the bowl of the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour then low for 4 hours.
  3. Spoon into bowls and garnish with feta and avocado and serve.

Makes: 12 cups

Serving Size: 1 cup

Reheats and freezes beautifully.

To make vegetarian swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth.

 

Perfect Easy Homemade Bread

I’ve been trying my hand at homemade bread (without the use of a bread maker) for quite a few years. Something always went wrong. It was too dense, it just didn’t cook right, all kinds of issues. And it was frustrating!  For hundreds, no thousands, of years people had been baking all kinds of delicious bread-why couldn’t I get it right?!

Until I found this recipe.  It’s an easy no-knead herb-topped cibatta-like yeast bread that comes together easily and bakes to a golden-brown deliciousness that will make your house smell amazing.

The minute this bread came out of the oven my homemade bread woes were over. It’s perfect. It’s sumptuous. It’s light, it’s crispy, it’s tasty.  You can dip it in oil with spices. You can make a panino. You can make a regular sandwich. You can dip it into soups or clean the plate of sauce. You can make croutons. You can just pull pieces off and eat them like I did.

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Perfect Easy Homemade Bread

Ingredients

  • 2& 1/2 tsp dry yeast (I used King Arthur Flower’s saf-instant yeast)
  • 2 cups 110F degree water ( I used an instant read meat thermometer to be sure it’s correct)
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar 2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups AP flour
  • Melted butter
  • dried herb blend for topping
  • sea salt for topping

Instructions

  1. Mix yeast and warm water in a glass bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. After the 10 minutes pour the yeast and water mixture into a large stainless steel mixing bowl . Add the sugar salt and flour. Stir until just combined. Do not over-mix or your bread will not be good.
  3. Cover it with a tea towel, put it in a warm place without drafts and let it double in size–about an hour to 90 minutes.  Just keep an eye on it.
  4. After rising, split it into 2 equal rounds and place each on a rimmed baking sheet drizzled with a bit of olive oil.  Let rise until doubled again.
  5. Preheat oven to 425F.
  6. Brush the top of each with the butter and sprinkle with herb blend and sea salt. I used King Arthur Flour’s Parmesan Garlic Bread Dipping Blend.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes then (leaving the bread in the oven) reduce heat to 375F and bake another 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Place on racks to cool.
I couldn't wait for it to cool!! YUM!

I couldn’t wait for it to cool!! YUM!

Uncooked dough ready for butter and herbs.

Uncooked dough ready for butter and herbs.

 

Uncooked dough with butter and herbs ready for baking.

Uncooked dough with butter and herbs ready for baking.

 

Bread right out of the oven.

Bread right out of the oven.

 

Adapted from www.yummyhealthyeasy.com to whom I will be forever grateful for this wonderful recipe.

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