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Freshly Baked Loaves

  

 I am going through a break up.  Yeah, it’s been rough, and it’s been sad, and it even feels surreal at times.  Four years is a long time to spend with someone only to have that disappear from your life.  So I’m slowly trying to get my life back into order, doing things I enjoy.  This weekend I wanted to bake bread because for one thing, I love homemade bread!  No Atkins dieter here.  And for another thing, the day I met my ex-boyfriend, I actually was baking bread.  The dough was rising as we exchanged our first words to each other.  So maybe this is a way for me to come full circle with my relationship, to help me say goodbye.  I know the act of baking  bread makes me feel good anyways.  Also, who doesn’t love the smell of freshly baked bread in their house?  The aromas engulf me like a warm, snuggly blanket. 

(btw, I will be posting the recipe for this white bread in a few days so stay tuned). 

How about some butter with that?

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Soft pretzelsBelieve it or not, these are pretzels.  I seem to lack the gene that enables one to twist pretzel dough into that familiar, intertwined state that we all know and love.  Oh well.  On the other hand, these did taste like a soft pretzel , and I think that’s much more important than appearances, don’t you?

What I did very early this morning was break out my box of organic soft pretzel mix by a company called Wanda’s Nature Farm Foods.  Let me explain: many, many months ago, like around Christmas time 2008, my sweet then-six year old niece was having one of those school fundraisers.  You know, when the parents come around with their magazine-catalog that are full of things you’d probably never, ever need or use in your life but you buy anyway because you want to be supportive to those cute six year olds?  Okay, that’s just what happened.  I couldn’t for the life of me find anything I really wanted in that catalog so I settled for this pretzel mix and some cookie-cutter gizmo that has since broke.  So that’s the story.  This mix has been sitting in my kitchen cupboard  for that long, screaming to be baked.  Luckily the expiration date wasn’t til January 2010 so out of the cupboard it went, straight into the mixing bowl, along with some yeast (included in the box), and 1 cup of water.  That’s all there was to it.  Oh, some mixing and kneading and allowing to rest for 30 minutes of course.  Then I attempted to make a pretzel-looking something, dipped each one into a baking soda-water bath, and baked them for about 15 minutes.  Right out of the oven, I glazed the pretzels with melted butter and sprinkled either sea salt or a cinnamon sugary mixture on top.  Yes, these were pretty good for a soft pretzel that came from a boxed mix, but  I think it lacked a little of that chewy factor that I really like.  If you’d like to make your own soft pretzels, check out this homemade recipe I posted previously:http://pbjonrye.blogspot.com/2007/12/ode-to-carbshomemade-pretzels.html

 Pretzel mix

 French ToastWhen  I visited Cabo San Lucas , I stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast called The Bungalows.  Each morning, Eric, the inn-keeper , would whip up a scrumptuous meal to help kickstart the day of exploring the beautiful Mexican town.  One of my favorites was the French toast with a cream cheese and pecan filling.  Eric happily shared the recipe with me, and even revealed his secret: “Use a lot of butter.  And when you think you’ve got too much butter in the pan, add a little more.”  So there you have it.  So simple and pure, butter really does make everything taste better!  When I got home from Cabo I made the French toast and followed Eric’s wise words of wisdom.  What resulted was a bit of French toast nirvana in every bite.

 The Bungalows French Toast 

6 slices of white bread, crusts cut off

2 eggs plus 2 egg whites–beat together

butter

1/4 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon pumpkin spice or cinnamon

3 tablespoons softened cream cheese

1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1. Heat a frying pan or skillet with 2 tablespoons butter

2.  Dip the bread into the egg batter, coating all sides.  Once coated, place the slices of bread onto the skillet and allow to brown on each side. Place these prepared slices on a large plate and sprinkle the sugar/pumpkin spice or cinnamon mixture on all sides of the french toast.  Place this back onto the skillet with another pat of butter to just brown slightly; continue this until you have used up all the slices of bread.

3.  Combine the cream cheese with the pecans; spread this mixture onto 3 slices of the french toast and top with another slice so that you end up with 3 french toast sandwiches.  Sprinkle again with the sugar mixture, slice in half if you wish and eat with maple syrup.

015Every time I opened my refrigerator door, a humongous bottle of barely-touched applesauce would coldly stare back at me.  After buying such a big, family-sized bottle for a family with only one applesauce eater (me), I think I’ve learned my lesson.  Note to self: buy smaller bottle next time. Luckily, I’m the type of person who makes lemon bars out of lemons, so I was not going to let some extra applesauce get to me.  I decided to search Allrecipes.com for a fun way to incorporate the applesauce into a luscious-bakedsomething-or-other, and after perusing the various applesauce cakes, breads, and muffins, I found what I was looking for.   The original recipe was for an applesauce bread but with a few modifications of my own, I was able to create a moist and delicious applesauce hazelnut prune muffin.   If you’re not too fond of prunes you can always substitute another dried fruit of your choice or leave them out all together.  I personally like  the taste of prunes and in these muffins, they add a nice tartness.  Top them off with a little cream cheese or my favorite, peanut butter, and you’ve got breakfast to go.

Applesauce Hazelnut Prune Muffins–adapted from www.Allrecipes.Com (makes about 14 regular size muffins or 28 mini muffins)

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 extra large egg

1 cups sucanat (or granulated white sugar) 

1/4  cup canola oil

1 cup applesauce

1/2 cup coarsely chopped prunes (optional)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts (can also use pecans or walnuts)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt


Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 12 cup muffin tin or a 24 cup mini muffin tin.
  • Beat together eggs, sugar, and oil. Blend in applesauce, and then yogurt. Mix in flour, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon. Stir in prunes and hazelnuts. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes if using  a 12 cup muffin tin or 16-18 minutes if using the mini muffin tin (ovens will tend to vary on baking times)
  • Cool on wire racks.